Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Way To Grade Decay of Computer Installations

timothy posted about 12 years ago | from the use-the-welding-gloves-on-this-one dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 561

skojt writes: "I saw this link in Dr Dobb's Journal (the paper edition) about the behaviour of a slowly decaying computer installation. It refers to a Windows installation, but as the author writes, 'But there will shortly be ports to Linux, Mac OS X, and other Unices; we are confident these OSes are just as prone.'"

cancel ×

561 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Decayed Windows Installation? (5, Funny)

sllort (442574) | about 12 years ago | (#3974611)

Just graph the Kb size of the registry...

Re:Decayed Windows Installation? (2, Funny)

acceleriter (231439) | about 12 years ago | (#3974636)

I was thinking it was more like the Heaviside step function--zero until you install Windows, one thereafter.

Re:Decayed Windows Installation? (1)

MrP- (45616) | about 12 years ago | (#3974694)

my registry last time i used win98 was about 8 MB

my current winxp registry is 47.5 MB ... damn

Re:Decayed Windows Installation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974759)

As much as this is moderated funny, I believe it should also be rated insightful. Anyone with experience with Windows and its registry knows this. What better way to measure the decay of an installation than by measuring its bulk? And what better indicator for bulk than a repository of settings, data and program entrails that often don't get deleted when a program is removed? It also collects settings for future programs that may or may not get installed, made even larger by patches, service packs, and non-related installations of unessential software by various Microsoft software packages.

Re:Decayed Windows Installation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974790)

I suppose the equivalent metric in unix would be: Number of dot files in a users home directory.

Re:Decayed Windows Installation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974814)

PRIMVUS POSTUS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974613)

It's the firstus postus with the mostus, baby.

Windows? Try Linux... (2, Interesting)

blackula (584329) | about 12 years ago | (#3974615)

I contend that Linux is more prone to installation decay... Just think about all the buildup of dependencies that happens, and those that remain even after the program that depends on them is removed.

Re:Windows? Try Linux... (2, Informative)

The World Will End (595617) | about 12 years ago | (#3974628)

That's why you use a package manager.

If you use rpm, then use checkinstall, it will generate rpms out of tar.gz easily, you run it instead of "make install"

Slackware + source tarballs = ZERO decay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974728)

My Linux system shows ZERO symptoms of "installation decay" and I've been running basically the same installation for over 4 years. In May 1998 I installed Slackware 3.4 and have been updating it only by downloading sourcecode and recompiling all the things I use. Sure, I've changed out basically all the hardware over time so it's a completely different machine now, but I've never "re-installed" the core distro. I'm up to all the latest versions of everything that the newest Slack 8.1 includes, but to accomplish it all, I've "used the SOURCE, Luke" :-)

Re:Windows? Try Linux... (-1, Offtopic)

Kenja (541830) | about 12 years ago | (#3974649)

BLASPHEMAR

Lets sacrifice him to our God.

Re:Windows? Try Linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974682)

you really need to try debian, bro. dselect and apt both understand and enforce dependencies. If you try to remove a program that other progs depend on, you must (unless you override) remove all of the programs. On the install side, if you try to install a program that relies on another prog or library, you must install all of them. Works great, less filling.

Dependancy hell perhaps but... (3, Informative)

sterno (16320) | about 12 years ago | (#3974685)

While Linux is prone to falling into dependancy hell, it doesn't suffer from the same performance degradation that you get in windows. In windows, you seem to have to periodically re-install everything just to get your system to load in a reasonable amount of time. You might get into a dependancy nightmare in Linux when trying to install something new, but the system performance doesn't seem to suffer from cruft related degradation.

I've found in my Linux experience that if I try be experimental and cutting edge, I end up, eventually, getting into situations where it becomes a major nightmare to upgrade. On the other hand, if I leave my system relatively stock, tools like red-carpet, up2date, or apt-get, do a pretty damn good job of hiding the dependancy hell from me.

All things considered, I'd rather have it become a pain to install piece of software then to have it be easy and slowly cause my system to become unusable for no apparent reason.

Re:Windows? Try Linux... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974799)

I contend your butt is smarter then your head, but that still doesn't prove anything or make it so. You can make conjectures till hell freezes over and they are no more true then when you started...

Re:Windows? Try Linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974821)

I don't have any build up of dependencies on my installation of linux, but I'm just using a stock kernel now.

Beware the Software Rot... (1)

helixcode123 (514493) | about 12 years ago | (#3974625)

Isn't this just like a system-wide "software rot"?

Just as prone? (1)

Dalcius (587481) | about 12 years ago | (#3974644)

These systems are just as prone [as Windows]? Huh?

I don't call an uptime of three months+ on my system (taken down due to power failure) without a largely noticeable slow-down comparable to Windows.

Doesn't (didn't?) Microsoft even officially recommend rebooting win 9x system daily?

Re:Just as prone? (1)

Dalcius (587481) | about 12 years ago | (#3974665)

I should add:

As someone posted above, RPM managers and the like keep my system fresh and sparkly.

If you delete a program on Linux, most of the time you simply delete the directory or rpm -e the RPM. I can't count the number of times a Windows uninstall has failed and left junk on my system, or has completed but still left junk on my system.

I'm not saying that Linux is perfect, but having used Linux for a little over two years and Windows for the previous 5, I feel confident that Linux isn't even in the same ballpark.

Re:Just as prone? (1)

prof187 (235849) | about 12 years ago | (#3974681)

My grandparents had a book "Computers for Dummies" that recommended "rebooting your machine every couple of days."Heh...
It was for Windows 98. So yeah, I figure that if it managed to stay up for more than a day, something must have frozen up and it does need a nice reboot.

Re:Just as prone? (2)

Zen Mastuh (456254) | about 12 years ago | (#3974774)

That's funny--mine always required a couple of reboots a day.

Re:Just as prone? (2)

tb3 (313150) | about 12 years ago | (#3974859)

There was a technical reason for that. The environment variables needed to be refreshed :)

Re:Just as prone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974695)

Gee, while we are making stupid comparisons lets compare OS X to dos. The media machine in my living room has been up for 4 months straight running Win 2k without any slowdown. And unlike some nix server that just gets thrown in the corner this computer actually has as user sit down and play with it. Perhaps we should try linux as a desktop OS and only run componets that were built in 98. Oh wait, there weren't any desktop apps worth a damn in 98, what a shame.

Re:Just as prone? (1)

Dalcius (587481) | about 12 years ago | (#3974867)

While I will flat out agree that Windows 98 and Linux today are not comparable, I will say this regarding uptime:

When was the last time you saw a 2000 box with an uptime of a few months with daily usage by a user?

XP?

And, if so, is that box still running like it was when you turned it on?

Even in the server market, where systems aren't touched at all, Linux seems to kick Windows around. I know of Windows 2K servers that have had uptimes of over three months, but I've never seen them rival that of common Linux uptimes.

In a 'controlled' environment like that, I think the comparison speaks the loudest.

Maybe this is all just my ignorance on the issue screaming, but from my experience, Windows has never consistantly beat Linux in uptime when management is good and variables equal.

Re:Just as prone? (2)

foonf (447461) | about 12 years ago | (#3974706)

It happens differently, and maybe not as fast, but it does happen. Of course user error is usually at fault (that would explain the extra copy of freetype I had installed in /usr/local that the pango configure script didn't like...)

But then if you leave Windows 2000 (yeah, the article wasn't really talking about 9x, which is in a whole different league...) in its default state it doesn't crash that much either.

And I have had badly misconfigured linux boxen that have stayed up for months anyway. The ability to successfully forward packets and occasionally serve a web page without crashing does not equate to a lack of cruft.

Re:Just as prone? (1)

ealar dlanvuli (523604) | about 12 years ago | (#3974755)

I have a FreeBSD box thats over 2 years old and has 5gb of ports installed, it runs just like the day I built it. It's gone through several upgrades and mutiple functions, it has had significant re-configurations on those function changes. It is my primary home workstation currently.

If we are going to bring up single-instance as an example of the norm, I believe mine supports far more than yours does, as what I have is almost impossible for *anyone* who uses IE/Outlook to maintain for longer than a year.

With MS decay is almost unavoidable (1)

ike42 (596470) | about 12 years ago | (#3974746)

Doesn't (didn't?) Microsoft even officially recommend rebooting win 9x system daily?

Not sure if MS did, but ever windows admin I've ever known does (and NT/2000 once a week)

IMHO the main difference between decay in Linux and Windows, is that its seems to happen naturally (and despite my best efforts) in Windows whereas in Linux it is a result of poor system management.

And this is technically a distribution problem, not a Linux problem.

Re:Just as prone? (2, Redundant)

MrResistor (120588) | about 12 years ago | (#3974770)

Read the article, it's not what you think.

Interestingly, the author has decided a virgin install of Windows, complete with Welcome to Windows dialog, stupid Windows music, and Connect to the Internet icon, is cruft-free.

Re:Just as prone? (1)

furballphat (514726) | about 12 years ago | (#3974775)

Doesn't (didn't?) Microsoft even officially recommend rebooting win 9x system daily?

I believe early versions of Windows 95 had a bug which made them crash if left on for more than 24 hours.

Re:Just as prone? (1)

Dalcius (587481) | about 12 years ago | (#3974819)

I don't recall 95 doing that, but I know 3.1 was close.

There was a memory leak in 3.1 that was so global (Read: in the core of the OS) that it guaranteed a crash. Sometimes it took 6 hours, sometimes 6 days, but it *WOULD* crash.

grrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974648)

3 coments and the site is slashdotted already...

Article text (1, Redundant)

bovril (260284) | about 12 years ago | (#3974678)

The New Adventures of Verity Stob

Dr. Dobb's Journal August 2002
Verity is the pseudonym of a programmer based in the UK. She can be contacted at VerityStob@ddj.com.

Verity Stob has developed a new tool that will help you make rapid diagnoses of sick PCs. A rolling computer gathers "cruft." When you spot a class interface that is no longer used by any client, but that nobody dare delete, that's cruft. It is also the word "seperate," added to a spellchecker's private dictionary in a moment of careless haste, and now waiting for a suitably important document. Cruft is the cruel corruption and confusion inevitably wrought by time upon all petty efforts of humankind. There.

At Laboratoires Stob, we have been working on the cruft crisis for a while. Recalling the maxim "to control a problem you must first measure it," we have devised a suitable metric, an index of cruftidity. Our first version, presented below, is based on a typical PC installation running Windows 2000. But there will shortly be ports to Linux, Mac OS X, and other Unices; we are confident these OSes are just as prone.

We would like to acknowledge our debt, in the construction of this instrument, to Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. His 1805 scale of windspeeds ("Insurance Claim Force 8. Description on land: Tile blown off roof falls onto litigious neighbour's Toyota Shiny") is as valid and useful today as it ever was. Enough preamble.

Cruft Force 0. Virgin. Description: The "Connect to the Internet" shortcut is still on the desktop, and the "How to use Windows" dialog appears at logon. Menu animations and the various event-based sound effects -- even the dreaded Microsoft Sound -- seem cheerful and amusing. Likewise, a clandestine installation of the Blue Screen Of Death screensaver (complete with simulated reboot, natch) from the Sysinternals web site is hilarious. Compilers run crisply, and report only sensible, easily resolved errors. There are just nine directories off C:\.

Filled with the enthusiasm that goes with having a brand new machine, the user resolves to stick to the new-fangled security-conscious temp directory buried deep somewhere below Documents and Settings.

Cruft Force 1. New. Description: User has taken time to rename cutesy desktop icons incorporating the first person singular possessive pronoun.

Twice, the mouse cursor has done that poltergeist trick where, with the actual mouse stationary, it drifts three inches due east and then stops. For no reason at all. Works fine afterwards though. Brrrrrrr.

Cruft Force 2. Comfortable. Description: User has now got around to resetting Explorer so that "web content in folders" is suppressed. Something has made a C:\TEMP directory in the proper place unasked, for which mercy the user guiltily feels grateful.

A strange entry is found in the System event log: MRxSmb: The redirector was unable to initialise security context or query context attributes. Assiduous googling of the key phrases, up web site and down newsgroup, establishes that, although many have wondered, nobody knows what this means.

Cruft Force 3. Lived-in. Description: One time in seven when the user starts Word or other Office 2000 app, instead of running, it pretends it is installing itself for the first time and starts a setup program.

Directory count in C:\ up to 17, and something has pooed a Paradox lock control file there, too.

Cruft Force 4. Middle-aged. Description: Amount of time from screen showing "real" Windows background to the logon box appearing is >30 seconds. Sometimes cannot "browse" other machines on LAN.

Get first real BSOD. Uninstall jokey screen saver, replace with SETI.

An extra disk of huge capacity has been installed. CD-ROM moves from drive F: to drive [:

Cruft Force 5. Worn out. Description: Some time after bootup, always get a dialog "A service has failed to start - BLT300." What is BLT300? Nobody knows. Although one can manually remove/disable this service, it always reappears two or three reboots later.

If one double-clicks a document icon, Word takes 4 minutes 30 seconds to start up. But it still works fine if started as a program. Somebody opines that this is due to misconfigured DDE. Or the Mars-Jupiter cusp.

Cruft Force 6. Limping. Description: [Delphi|Visual Basic|Java] suddenly remembers a trial shareware component -- deleted six months ago because it was rubbish -- and refuses to compile anything until it is reinstated.

"Web content in folders" Explorer setting switches itself back on unbidden. "Setup" programs start crashing while unpacking their own decompression DLLs.

Cruft Force 7. Wounded. Description: No longer able to logon using original account as the system freezes, so must logon as "Verity2" or similar.

There are now nine items in BOOT.INI: the original W2K starter, a brace of two-entries-each NT4s (one Turkish), a Windows 98, and three assorted Linuxen. Left to start up by itself, the machine chooses a broken installation of SUSE and halts with a kernel panic.

Cruft Force 8. Decrepit. Description: A virus checker is installed at the insistence of IT. This actually improves performance, apparently violating Newton's laws.

Blue Screens Of Death are served daily. The SETI screen saver, like ET himself, encounters difficulty calling home and despairing during an overnight run creates 312 copies of its icon in an (impressively expanded) system tray that fills half the screen.

Successful connections to the LAN are very rare.

Cruft Force 9. Putrefaction. Description: Can only see the 32-GB D:\ partition -- the one which has all the source code on it -- at every third boot. Directory count in C:\ up to 93, partly because some [one/thing] has put a complete (but non-working) installation of the Eudora e-mail client in the root.

Starting Control Panel shows rolling torch animation. The applet icons never appear.

Cruft Force 10. Expiry. Description: Machine only runs in Safe mode at 16-color 800×600, and even then for about a minute and a half before BSODing. Attempts to start an app are rewarded with a dialog "No font list found."

Ordinary dodges, such as reformatting the hard disk(s) and starting again, are ineffective. Cruft has soaked into the very fabric of the machine, and it should be disposed of safely at a government-approved facility. There it will be encased in cruft-resistant glass and buried in a residential district.

DDJ

Linux vs Windows (1)

YahoKa (577942) | about 12 years ago | (#3974659)

The difference is that a windows installation decays a huge amount as soon as the installation is complete.

Re:Linux vs Windows (-1)

TheSpoogeAwards (589343) | about 12 years ago | (#3974804)

You dumb fuck, shut up and die. Your IQ is bringing down the global average more than one person is capable of.

Slashdot Effect (3, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | about 12 years ago | (#3974660)

Post a link to your server on Slashdot. That'll decay you really quick.

Re:Slashdot Effect (2)

reflexreaction (526215) | about 12 years ago | (#3974767)

The New Adventures of Verity Stob

Dr. Dobb's Journal August 2002

Verity is the pseudonym of a programmer based in the UK. She can be contacted at VerityStob@ddj.com.

Verity Stob has developed a new tool that will help you make rapid diagnoses of sick PCs. A rolling computer gathers "cruft." When you spot a class interface that is no longer used by any client, but that nobody dare delete, that's cruft. It is also the word "seperate," added to a spellchecker's private dictionary in a moment of careless haste, and now waiting for a suitably important document. Cruft is the cruel corruption and confusion inevitably wrought by time upon all petty efforts of humankind. There.

At Laboratoires Stob, we have been working on the cruft crisis for a while. Recalling the maxim "to control a problem you must first measure it," we have devised a suitable metric, an index of cruftidity. Our first version, presented below, is based on a typical PC installation running Windows 2000. But there will shortly be ports to Linux, Mac OS X, and other Unices; we are confident these OSes are just as prone.

We would like to acknowledge our debt, in the construction of this instrument, to Rear- Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. His 1805 scale of windspeeds ("Insurance Claim Force 8. Description on land: Tile blown off roof falls onto litigious neighbour's Toyota Shiny") is as valid and useful today as it ever was. Enough preamble.

Cruft Force 0. Virgin. Description: The "Connect to the Internet" shortcut is still on the desktop, and the "How to use Windows" dialog appears at logon. Menu animations and the various event-based sound effects -- even the dreaded Microsoft Sound -- seem cheerful and amusing. Likewise, a clandestine installation of the Blue Screen Of Death screensaver (complete with simulated reboot, natch) from the Sysinternals web site is hilarious. Compilers run crisply, and report only sensible, easily resolved errors. There are just nine directories off C:\.

Filled with the enthusiasm that goes with having a brand new machine, the user resolves to stick to the new-fangled security-conscious temp directory buried deep somewhere below Documents and Settings.

Cruft Force 1. New. Description: User has taken time to rename cutesy desktop icons incorporating the first person singular possessive pronoun.

Twice, the mouse cursor has done that poltergeist trick where, with the actual mouse stationary, it drifts three inches due east and then stops. For no reason at all. Works fine afterwards though. Brrrrrrr.

Cruft Force 2. Comfortable. Description: User has now got around to resetting Explorer so that "web content in folders" is suppressed. Something has made a C:\TEMP directory in the proper place unasked, for which mercy the user guiltily feels grateful.

A strange entry is found in the System event log: MRxSmb: The redirector was unable to initialise security context or query context attributes. Assiduous googling of the key phrases, up web site and down newsgroup, establishes that, although many have wondered, nobody knows what this means.

Cruft Force 3. Lived-in. Description: One time in seven when the user starts Word or other Office 2000 app, instead of running, it pretends it is installing itself for the first time and starts a setup program.

Directory count in C:\ up to 17, and something has pooed a Paradox lock control file there, too.

Cruft Force 4. Middle-aged. Description: Amount of time from screen showing "real" Windows background to the logon box appearing is >30 seconds. Sometimes cannot "browse" other machines on LAN.

Get first real BSOD. Uninstall jokey screen saver, replace with SETI.

An extra disk of huge capacity has been installed. CD-ROM moves from drive F: to drive [:

Cruft Force 5. Worn out. Description: Some time after bootup, always get a dialog "A service has failed to start - BLT300." What is BLT300? Nobody knows. Although one can manually remove/disable this service, it always reappears two or three reboots later.

If one double-clicks a document icon, Word takes 4 minutes 30 seconds to start up. But it still works fine if started as a program. Somebody opines that this is due to misconfigured DDE. Or the Mars-Jupiter cusp.

Cruft Force 6. Limping. Description: [Delphi|Visual Basic|Java] suddenly remembers a trial shareware component -- deleted six months ago because it was rubbish -- and refuses to compile anything until it is reinstated.

"Web content in folders" Explorer setting switches itself back on unbidden. "Setup" programs start crashing while unpacking their own decompression DLLs.

Cruft Force 7. Wounded. Description: No longer able to logon using original account as the system freezes, so must logon as "Verity2" or similar.

There are now nine items in BOOT.INI: the original W2K starter, a brace of two- entries-each NT4s (one Turkish), a Windows 98, and three assorted Linuxen. Left to start up by itself, the machine chooses a broken installation of SUSE and halts with a kernel panic.

Cruft Force 8. Decrepit. Description: A virus checker is installed at the insistence of IT. This actually improves performance, apparently violating Newton's laws.

Blue Screens Of Death are served daily. The SETI screen saver, like ET himself, encounters difficulty calling home and despairing during an overnight run creates 312 copies of its icon in an (impressively expanded) system tray that fills half the screen.

Successful connections to the LAN are very rare.

Cruft Force 9. Putrefaction. Description: Can only see the 32-GB D:\ partition -- the one which has all the source code on it -- at every third boot. Directory count in C:\ up to 93, partly because some [one/thing] has put a complete (but non- working) installation of the Eudora e-mail client in the root.

Starting Control Panel shows rolling torch animation. The applet icons never appear.

Cruft Force 10.Expiry. Description: Machine only runs in Safe mode at 16-color 800×600, and even then for about a minute and a half before BSODing. Attempts to start an app are rewarded with a dialog "No font list found."

Ordinary dodges, such as reformatting the hard disk(s) and starting again, are ineffective. Cruft has soaked into the very fabric of the machine, and it should be disposed of safely at a government-approved facility. There it will be encased in cruft-resistant glass and buried in a residential district.

radioactive windows (4, Funny)

slickwillie (34689) | about 12 years ago | (#3974662)

I've always said that Windows 9x has a half-life of about 12 months.

Re:radioactive windows (1)

Low Key (125213) | about 12 years ago | (#3974691)

That would imply that it is getting smaller. From my experience, Windows seems to grow exponetially rather than decay.

-B

Re:radioactive windows (3, Funny)

MrResistor (120588) | about 12 years ago | (#3974813)

I think he's talking about the portion that actually works...

Re:radioactive windows (1)

Blue 1ce (218121) | about 12 years ago | (#3974700)

If only this was true! With a half-life of 12 months we would be rid of Windows in two years...

Re:radioactive windows (1)

ShawnD (21638) | about 12 years ago | (#3974722)

With a half-life of 12 months we would be rid of Windows in two years
No. In two years you would have 1/4 of it left. It would take 7 years to have less than 1% of windows left. That explains the behavior of those old machines at work :-).

Re:radioactive windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974786)

No you wouldn't you idiot.

My favorite unit of decay... (1)

ebuck (585470) | about 12 years ago | (#3974663)

Count the number of flies.

no karma whoring...here's the story (2, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974671)

Dr. Dobb's Journal August 2002
Verity is the pseudonym of a programmer based in the UK. She can be contacted at VerityStob@ddj.com.

Verity Stob has developed a new tool that will help you make rapid diagnoses of sick PCs. A rolling computer gathers "cruft." When you spot a class interface that is no longer used by any client, but that nobody dare delete, that's cruft. It is also the word "seperate," added to a spellchecker's private dictionary in a moment of careless haste, and now waiting for a suitably important document. Cruft is the cruel corruption and confusion inevitably wrought by time upon all petty efforts of humankind. There.

At Laboratoires Stob, we have been working on the cruft crisis for a while. Recalling the maxim "to control a problem you must first measure it," we have devised a suitable metric, an index of cruftidity. Our first version, presented below, is based on a typical PC installation running Windows 2000. But there will shortly be ports to Linux, Mac OS X, and other Unices; we are confident these OSes are just as prone.

We would like to acknowledge our debt, in the construction of this instrument, to Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. His 1805 scale of windspeeds ("Insurance Claim Force 8. Description on land: Tile blown off roof falls onto litigious neighbour's Toyota Shiny") is as valid and useful today as it ever was. Enough preamble.

Cruft Force 0. Virgin. Description: The "Connect to the Internet" shortcut is still on the desktop, and the "How to use Windows" dialog appears at logon. Menu animations and the various event-based sound effects -- even the dreaded Microsoft Sound -- seem cheerful and amusing. Likewise, a clandestine installation of the Blue Screen Of Death screensaver (complete with simulated reboot, natch) from the Sysinternals web site is hilarious. Compilers run crisply, and report only sensible, easily resolved errors. There are just nine directories off C:\.

Filled with the enthusiasm that goes with having a brand new machine, the user resolves to stick to the new-fangled security-conscious temp directory buried deep somewhere below Documents and Settings.

Cruft Force 1. New. Description: User has taken time to rename cutesy desktop icons incorporating the first person singular possessive pronoun.

Twice, the mouse cursor has done that poltergeist trick where, with the actual mouse stationary, it drifts three inches due east and then stops. For no reason at all. Works fine afterwards though. Brrrrrrr.

Cruft Force 2. Comfortable. Description: User has now got around to resetting Explorer so that "web content in folders" is suppressed. Something has made a C:\TEMP directory in the proper place unasked, for which mercy the user guiltily feels grateful.

A strange entry is found in the System event log: MRxSmb: The redirector was unable to initialise security context or query context attributes. Assiduous googling of the key phrases, up web site and down newsgroup, establishes that, although many have wondered, nobody knows what this means.

Cruft Force 3. Lived-in. Description: One time in seven when the user starts Word or other Office 2000 app, instead of running, it pretends it is installing itself for the first time and starts a setup program.

Directory count in C:\ up to 17, and something has pooed a Paradox lock control file there, too.

Cruft Force 4. Middle-aged. Description: Amount of time from screen showing "real" Windows background to the logon box appearing is >30 seconds. Sometimes cannot "browse" other machines on LAN.

Get first real BSOD. Uninstall jokey screen saver, replace with SETI.

An extra disk of huge capacity has been installed. CD-ROM moves from drive F: to drive [:

Cruft Force 5. Worn out. Description: Some time after bootup, always get a dialog "A service has failed to start - BLT300." What is BLT300? Nobody knows. Although one can manually remove/disable this service, it always reappears two or three reboots later.

If one double-clicks a document icon, Word takes 4 minutes 30 seconds to start up. But it still works fine if started as a program. Somebody opines that this is due to misconfigured DDE. Or the Mars-Jupiter cusp.

Cruft Force 6. Limping. Description: [Delphi|Visual Basic|Java] suddenly remembers a trial shareware component -- deleted six months ago because it was rubbish -- and refuses to compile anything until it is reinstated.

"Web content in folders" Explorer setting switches itself back on unbidden. "Setup" programs start crashing while unpacking their own decompression DLLs.

Cruft Force 7. Wounded. Description: No longer able to logon using original account as the system freezes, so must logon as "Verity2" or similar.

There are now nine items in BOOT.INI: the original W2K starter, a brace of two-entries-each NT4s (one Turkish), a Windows 98, and three assorted Linuxen. Left to start up by itself, the machine chooses a broken installation of SUSE and halts with a kernel panic.

Cruft Force 8. Decrepit. Description: A virus checker is installed at the insistence of IT. This actually improves performance, apparently violating Newton's laws.

Blue Screens Of Death are served daily. The SETI screen saver, like ET himself, encounters difficulty calling home and despairing during an overnight run creates 312 copies of its icon in an (impressively expanded) system tray that fills half the screen.

Successful connections to the LAN are very rare.

Cruft Force 9. Putrefaction. Description: Can only see the 32-GB D:\ partition -- the one which has all the source code on it -- at every third boot. Directory count in C:\ up to 93, partly because some [one/thing] has put a complete (but non-working) installation of the Eudora e-mail client in the root.

Starting Control Panel shows rolling torch animation. The applet icons never appear.

Cruft Force 10. Expiry. Description: Machine only runs in Safe mode at 16-color 800×600, and even then for about a minute and a half before BSODing. Attempts to start an app are rewarded with a dialog "No font list found."

Ordinary dodges, such as reformatting the hard disk(s) and starting again, are ineffective. Cruft has soaked into the very fabric of the machine, and it should be disposed of safely at a government-approved facility. There it will be encased in cruft-resistant glass and buried in a residential district.

DDJ

Please mod parent up (2)

Slashamatic (553801) | about 12 years ago | (#3974745)

The poster isn't chasing Karma, but those browsing at +1 may miss this. It is hillarious and so true.

The main issue with Windows and their apps has been the hideous version control. It has improved since 2K/XP but trying to chase whether a DLL is really needed or not is interesting. Those apps sharing DLLs that install their own versions caus endless fun.

From the article, a question answered... (5, Funny)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 12 years ago | (#3974673)

"A service has failed to start - BLT300." What is BLT300? Nobody knows.

Obviously, BLT300 is part of a new strategic alliance between Microsoft and Subway. In addition to having that wretched "Connect to the Internet" shortcut, Microsoft is now trying to influence the user's choice of submarine sandwich.

Fight back. Install new open source RedHot Club Sandwich Service instead.

Re:From the article, a question answered... (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 12 years ago | (#3974811)

that's very funny.

I only eat at Blimpies so i'm immune.

.

Windows decay (5, Insightful)

laserjet (170008) | about 12 years ago | (#3974679)

Based purely on my own experience, Windows does decay quite a bit faster than Linux - but I don't think it's mainly the OS's fault:

It's mainly the users and the applications. There are so MANY applications for Windows out there that want to put an icon on your descktop, in your system tray, in your start menu, etc. It is no wonder when the decay takes place. All these applications do their own thing to Windows.

Then, on top of that, you have many, many, many bad installers. They remove some files, sure, but rarely do they get rid of everything, including registry entries.

Linux has a bit different type of users, and most of the software made for linux is by people who hate "Take-over-your-system-ware" sofware. It also doesn't have the central registry system like Windows. Sure it will have it's problems, but right now it does not. More users and more bad or poorly written apps will cause bloat and decay.

So, as usual, we must blaim the users and the applications for software decay for the most part. The OS should do some cleanup as well, but gone are the days when uninstalling mean deleting the directory it was installed to.

Random Windows Registry changes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974765)

Windows 2000 has randomly changed obscure registry settings on me twice this month. One such inexplicable change made drag and drop not work. I had to add an obscure COM ID entry in some stupid setting. A week later my ethernet adapter was not recognized and found for some strange reason Windows removed the permission from the ethernet card setting in the registry. Device reinstalls and PlugAndPlay basically stopped working. Until then I did not even know the registry HAD permissions.

I had WinNT running without incident for 5 years - and two months after installing Windows 2000 - 2 pain in the ass take an entire day to fix errors. Now I know why all Windows techs are always so angry.

That Windows Registry is a complete nightmare.
Who invented that crap?

Re:Windows decay (3, Insightful)

ender81b (520454) | about 12 years ago | (#3974824)

Give microsoft some credit though, things have gotten temporarily better in Win2k . I can now have a win2k install for about 1 year before needing to format-whipe-reinstall. The longest I ever lasted with 95 was about 2 months, 98 I think I got to 5 months one time.

You point out there are many bad installers that leave stuff scattered across the registry, this is quite true. Of course linux has the nice problem of scatter-componets-across-10,000 directorys. I use linux as a server platform instead of a desktop platform for precisely this reason. I can *never* find all the parts of some installs and I despise when a program places itself into 4-5 different directorys.

gone are the days when uninstalling mean deleting the directory it was installed to.

Haven't used OS X have we? =) Honestly this is one area where the mac shines. To uninstall something all you have to do is drap-drop into the trash can. Nice and easy.

What is it with media players? (4)

SIGFPE (97527) | about 12 years ago | (#3974684)

Quicktime, Windows Media, RealWhatever. They always appear in the task bar and the little icon tray thing at the bottom right. No matter how many times I try to remove the startup items it's guaranteed they will have returned on reboot. Aarrgghh! They even have Control Panel entries. This is software at its most rude and obnoxious. Why does RealWhateverItsCalledThisTime need a goddamned 'Start Center'? What's so special about low quality streamed audio and video that ot needs this special treatment? If every application did this I'd need a 3rd monitor for all the itty bitty icons. No wonder I need 2Gb of RAM!

More levels. . . (4, Funny)

Aerog (324274) | about 12 years ago | (#3974686)

Cruft Force 8.5 Larry Flynt. OS has now filled its system drive partition, thereby reaching more than 3 times its original install. Web browsers will not download files more than 640k, swap file now resides permanently on F: yet C: still has less than 1MB space, all non-essential portions have been removed to a "Temp C: Files" directory on F:, essential system files are beginning to be moved to the temp files, windows/inf is the first target to be moved when an install is needed. Writes random data to HD for fun, windows/sysbackup deleted at regular intervals in order to keep registry errors at bay, more porn than most porn sites.

Now I have a 10gb system drive and win2k. Only disk errors can slow me down now!

Mirror (2)

kawaichan (527006) | about 12 years ago | (#3974690)

Mirror [rogers.com]

Re:Mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974803)

Here is another mirror [yimg.com] .

Re:Mirror (1)

BdosError (261714) | about 12 years ago | (#3974876)

Dr. Dobb's hardly needs a mirror. They've got an industrial strength site. Damn karma whores.

bsod, etc. (2)

Sebastopol (189276) | about 12 years ago | (#3974692)

I've never seen a BSOD on Win2k. Anybody know how to generate one? Does it even revert back to EGA text mode if there is a fault of some sort?

Otherwise, +1 funny article. It invites the question, is it even possible to make a system that won't decay over time, or at least allow a method for repair? Or is that simply impossible. I would think that removing the registry and reverting back to dos-link inifiles (.rc files) would be a start.

Re:bsod, etc. (3, Interesting)

laserjet (170008) | about 12 years ago | (#3974715)

I see BSOD's on Win2k all the time, Win2k Pro and Win2k Server/ Advanced Server. There are a couple of easy ways to do it if you search on Google, but when I see it, it is because of my own doing (i.e. not following directions).

I have seen Win2k BSOD when explorer froze, when I plugged in 75 hard disks at once (JBODs), and when working the IO really hard as well.

Still, it is better than NT, but still not perfect.

Re:bsod, etc. (1)

qubit64 (233602) | about 12 years ago | (#3974720)

I've seen a few BSOD on winXP. much less common than win98se or win95, or win3.1 so far, but it does happen.

Re:bsod, etc. (2)

13Echo (209846) | about 12 years ago | (#3974734)

It's framebuffer, like the startup screen. And it is blue, but is different than the 9x BSOD. bost often it is a result of a hardware failure, but still can occur as a result of general Windows behavior. It isn't *nearly* as bad as 9x, but in my experience, still crashes more than any Unix system that I have used.

Re:bsod, etc. (2)

EvanED (569694) | about 12 years ago | (#3974739)

Actually, I believe Win2K just reboots. That's what XP does at least if something happens that would previously have made a BSOD. (You can turn off the auto-reboot, but I don't know what happens then.)

This is according to a C|Net article and a couple times when Win2K rebooted on me.

Re:bsod, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974789)

If you turn off the auto reboot then you get to see a Win NT style BSOD (seeing as you're running Win NT) On a side note: auto reboot on error, one of the stupidest things I've ever encountered.

Re:bsod, etc. (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 12 years ago | (#3974873)

As you state, this automatic rebooting can be turned off. What u get after is whats called a stop message. Basically you get a bunch of information which probably means little to someone who isnt trained to understand it.

I have forced stop errors a few times to check the stability of win2k, and i can say its a lot better than kernel panics in linux :)

Re:bsod, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974742)

got one just the other day. Yes, blue, yes vga/ega. Still undecipherable.

Re:bsod, etc. (3, Interesting)

MrP- (45616) | about 12 years ago | (#3974752)

heres a good example of a BSOD in win2k.. http://www.win2000mag.com/Files/301/Screen_01.gif [win2000mag.com]

Although, ive never seen a win2k bsod, just winxp, which looks like the above shot, but i think win2k and xp are the same.

Yup, I have... (2)

sterno (16320) | about 12 years ago | (#3974777)

Looks just like a BSOD on NT. With some games I find that I'll get a BSOD at least once and sometimes more per night. I havet to assume it's the video driver, but no number of software upgrades have fixed it. So it crashes and i wish I could play the games on linux.

Sure... (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 12 years ago | (#3974818)

...just turn it on!

Re:bsod, etc. (1)

pavera (320634) | about 12 years ago | (#3974829)

I've seen very very many.
most of the time its because of hardware, but sometimes software, I used to blue screen a win2k box at work about once a day by having msn messenger, IE and netscape open at the same time..
it didn't like that much and would normally puke after about 10 minutes of the three programs running simultaneously. Also bad RAM, and a few bad CDROMs and sound cards have thrown win2k/winXP into BSOD...

The article is a joke... (1, Redundant)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | about 12 years ago | (#3974697)


The Verity Stob articles are not true, it's a humor column in DDJ.

maru

Re:The article is a joke... (1)

MrP- (45616) | about 12 years ago | (#3974740)

Yes, thats why this is under the "It's funny. Laugh." section and not hardware or something.

Nothing is permanent.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974701)

not even life....
yes, not even windoze!!

Cruft from the get-go (2, Insightful)

jamienk (62492) | about 12 years ago | (#3974709)

The article implies that a brand-spanking new PC with Windows is cruft-free, e.g., The "Connect to the Internet" shortcut is still on the desktop, and the "How to use Windows" dialog appears at logon...

But these things are CRUFT! And there's MORE in a "virgin" Windows box:

  • MS Messenger is running in the tray -- asking you sign up for Passport when you 1st log on
  • Windows Media Player is crippled so you can't make good MP3s (or on XP even download and use som other MP3 making software)
  • OEMs install dozens of bullshit programs, many of which launch on boot-up and leave their menus all over the screen
  • A bunch of crap litters the "Send to" right-click menu
  • MS Media player acts like some weird-ass app with no menu, no window, etc...

It takes a LONG time to get things cleaned up and usable. You used to be able to just wipe the disk and install Windows from scratch, but more and more OEMs are not allowing thins, only giving you some crappy RESTORE disks...

Re:Cruft from the get-go (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 12 years ago | (#3974760)

* MS Messenger is running in the tray -- asking you sign up for Passport when you 1st log on

Well, yeah. That's MS pitching their IM. It's easy to get rid of.

* Windows Media Player is crippled so you can't make good MP3s (or on XP even download and use som other MP3 making software)

What? I'm on XP, and I get MP3 making software easilly.

* OEMs install dozens of bullshit programs, many of which launch on boot-up and leave their menus all over the screen

So get rid of them, or demand a "clean" install disk. Dell's good for this, and so are screwdriver shops.

* A bunch of crap litters the "Send to" right-click menu

That's a folder of shortcuts. Anthing you can drag a file to and open a progam with you can put in the "Send To" folder.

* MS Media player acts like some weird-ass app with no menu, no window, etc...


oro? Never seen that before...

It takes a LONG time to get things cleaned up and usable. You used to be able to just wipe the disk and install Windows from scratch, but more and more OEMs are not allowing thins, only giving you some crappy RESTORE disks...

An hour is a long time?

OEMs started giving crappy restore disks when CD-ROMs came out. Where have you been?

If you want a good, clean system, *don't buy from OEMS!*

Sigh... (2)

sheldon (2322) | about 12 years ago | (#3974840)

Windows Media Player is crippled so you can't make good MP3s (or on XP even download and use som other MP3 making software)

WMP makes perfectly good WMA files, if you want MP3 then you can either purchase an encoder for it(about $10) or buy a third party product like say Musicmatch(about $30). I run Musicmatch on XP and don't have any issues with this, so it's unclear to me why you are claiming I cannot do this.

I'm going to guess you're one of these people who has never used XP but is convinced it is worse than Win98.

Re:Cruft from the get-go (1, Flamebait)

foobar104 (206452) | about 12 years ago | (#3974870)

I'm disappointed that your post got moderated "insightful." It's not that you're wrong-- as far as I know, you've got your facts right. It's just that you're complaining for the sake of complaining. The fact that Microsoft is the object of your bile makes you "insightful."

Microsoft Windows, out of the box, is the reference standard for a clean operating system. The fact that this isn't the same as jamienk's idea of a clean operating system doesn't change anything.

Consider the opposite scenario. Whenever I install Linux, I blow through the defaults, mostly, just to get the OS up and running. And, every damn time, I have to go back downstairs to the lab and install and chkconfig on the telnet server. How insane is it that Red Hat decided to ship the OS with telnet access off by default? What good is a server if you can't telnet into it? Are they expecting me to sit down in front of the damn thing?

But that doesn't mean Red Hat's default installation is bogus. It just means that it's not completely compatible with my preferences. Same thing here. The default Windows installation isn't compatible with your preferences. So what?

Like I said, I'm just disappointed that you got moderated "insightful" for this comment. If I had mod points today, I'd take you down a point. As I don't, I'll just be satisfied with rebutting your position.

LoL (1)

greymond (539980) | about 12 years ago | (#3974713)

LoL thats funny. - I like how if MS Office starts up and thinks its reinstalling itself - thats somehow related to 17+ dir in the c: drive - WTF? Exactly - This is a hella funny article - even if it's total BS.

Well... (3, Informative)

RinkSpringer (518787) | about 12 years ago | (#3974729)

...the upside of an open-source OS is that you can browse through the source and figure out *why* it is messing itself up... :) And most likely, fix it while you're at it.

That's the power of open source.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974815)

I'm all for open source and its power, but you won't find the average Joe browsing the source and tweaking on it, so Joe won't see much of an upside.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

rizzuh (594786) | about 12 years ago | (#3974844)

Really! Dude, we've like never heard this before!

Free Software is powerful in many ways, but the idea that you, yourself, can go in and fix decay is kind of silly.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but all OSes rely on abstraction. Abstraction relies on a bit of bloat.

Any OS is going to decay over time without micromanagment. Windows will probably decay even if you're the strictest of system operators because it tries to hide everything from the user. Even if we did have the source to Windows, the FIX would be not including so many useless programs.

Open Source code doesn't solve everything.

Re:Well... (1)

thasmudyan (460603) | about 12 years ago | (#3974861)

Not really, because those things are design flaws - not small and simple coding mistakes. And even if they were, given the million lines of badly documented code, you wouldn't stand a chance of finding them. No way. Current systems (esp. Windows) are designed to rot.

Next month, in Doctor Dobbs' Journal: (4, Funny)

Hobart (32767) | about 12 years ago | (#3974730)

Building websites for magazines that can survive the "Slashdot Effect"

Re:Next month, in Doctor Dobbs' Journal: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974871)

Step 1. "Don't use Linux" [netcraft.com] ?

Sounds like code rot to me (2)

smoondog (85133) | about 12 years ago | (#3974737)

Code Rot - The spontaneous process by which unmaintained code slowly ceases to function properly. Also see entropy and decay.

No surprise here. Coders like to change things, API's, software, system registries, etc. Unfortunately, they are often unable to clean up after themselves properly.

-Sean

BSOD (0, Offtopic)

compjma (591836) | about 12 years ago | (#3974757)

I've been using M$ products since DOS v5.0 In earlier versions of windows blue screen errors were pretty common, and usually caused by software. Since I've been using win2kpro however, I have yet to see one that wasn't caused by a hardware problem. It seems very stable to me, at least in comparison with earlier products. Has anyone else experienced this?

Re:BSOD (3, Informative)

man_ls (248470) | about 12 years ago | (#3974852)

Either a botched upgrade to the kernel itself, or a hardware glitch (Video driver isn't right...SCSI controller craps out...drive fails while in use...NIC unseated during installation of cable...) have been the only problems I've seen.

When I had low-quality (I mean LOW quality) video hardware, I got IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors while playing games all the time, but with the upgrade to a brand new GeForce3, there have been no problems.

Win2K seems to have gotten software stability down pretty well.

..and on day 2 (0)

enrayged (67136) | about 12 years ago | (#3974758)

System is reloaded and we are back to Cruft 0: virgin

Many Unices are not prone to this (3, Interesting)

Baki (72515) | about 12 years ago | (#3974762)

Especially FreeBSD, but also some other variants and certain Linux distributions such as Slackware.

I have run FreeBSD for 6 years without a single reinstall, been upgrading all the time (source via cvs, then make world and using mergemaster to merge new config into /etc). For such 'manual' systems like FreeBSD and Slackware, it is possible to know every single significant file on your computer and thus completely avoid 'installation decay'. Their simplistic package managers don't do many tricks, but are fully traceable and understandable.

Re:Many Unices are not prone to this (1)

xA40D (180522) | about 12 years ago | (#3974858)

I've been running the same FreeBSD install for two years. And it's full of cruft because I was still learning the art and had yet to discover the joys of portupgrade. Unfortunately FreeBSD keeps on working in an advanced state of cruftiness - so a re-install never seems urgent.

From experience I know that Windows is designed to shutdown when cruft reaches a sufficiently high level. So a reinstall is always acceptible. The downside here it takes 6 months for Windows to rot - no matter how hard I try to prevent it.

Benchmarking (5, Interesting)

Snuffub (173401) | about 12 years ago | (#3974780)

This is one complaint Ive always had about benchmarking with windows systems every test is usualy run after a clean install this is a good way to test the hardware alone and its alright if your comparing between two windows boxes but in my general experience if you dont reinstall windows every 6 months after typical "office" (ie app isntalls, upgrades, crashes, stupid user incidents)use you can lose a fifth of your performance.

Im not trying to insinuate that other OSes are not at all susceptible to this but at the same time i have to say that my os x machine's performance has _improved_ over the past year (thanks to apple point releases) through hundreds of apps being installed removed and generaly abused. at the same time my linux box where admitedly much less software is fussed with is about the same when i installed red hat 6.2 on it a year and a half ago.

With that in mind Id be really interested in all those people who are trying to prove a point about one platform or another run their tests under realistic conditions rather than under ideal lab conditions.

just a thought

slashdot randomly misses posts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3974788)

2 missings posts in 2 days.
What a shitty site.
Why bother posting on this site at all?

Plug, plug (5, Informative)

Phexro (9814) | about 12 years ago | (#3974793)

Use Debian [debian.org] . I'm not saying that it's immune to cruft, but the fact that they have close to 9000 packages which all comply with the Debian Policy [debian.org] (as well as the FHS [pathname.com] ) means that everything plays nice together, and if it doesn't, it's a bug. There's even a tool called Cruft [debian.org] , which will locate cruft on your system.

newfangled computer (1)

jkramar (583118) | about 12 years ago | (#3974806)

It's hard as a rock...
It's unerodable as a rock...
As small and practical as a rock...
As flexible and upgradeable as a rock...
It's...
A ROCK!

"that poltergeist trick" (1)

adam_megacz (155700) | about 12 years ago | (#3974807)


This only happens on laptops with the nipple mouse.

The nipple needs to recalibrate itself every once in a while -- if it notices that the cursor is drifting at a perfectly even pace for more than a few seconds, it figures that it is miscalibrated (since real humans don't move the mouse at a perfectly even pace), and recenters itself.

Site only supports 2 connections? (1)

5lash (589953) | about 12 years ago | (#3974817)

Oh my god, i just got a 503 error when trying to load the link, and found this on the error page:

Internal error: Database is not responding; there are 2 connection attempts currently in progress.

Does this mean the site can only support 2 users at once???

Somebody must have spent more than a year... (2)

NotoriousQ (457789) | about 12 years ago | (#3974825)

studying this.

But really, all Win users I know who know what they are doing typically reinstall every 6-12 months to avoid this. All sheep will call tech support, which will tell them to place "Dell recovery disk" into the cd-rom tray. Anyway, the win machines I manage, (my family's) do not go far past level 5, and then only due to gator / growing registry. Pretty much as soon as explorer starts crashing / freezing continously (which happens way before daily bsod, but just as damaging) it is time to reinstall.

Now about linux......
I have been a linux user for about 2 years...The first year I did not have much of a clue -- so cruft was a huge problem...It is called installing newer version of gtk while running debian stable and not using a .deb....ouch....

A year ago....still learning, I started using slack....and did all my own management....I did get cruft is /usr/share and /usr/lib ... but I knew what I had installed ... and I felt comfortable deleting quite a few files from there...but most of them were used anyway.....
furthermore....about the only thing that changes in linux, when you have crap in the libs, is that ld.cache is huge, and wasted space on the drive.....but it does not seem to alter performance a bit..or I have not noticed it at all. It simply is not loaded into ram...compare to windows, and you know that the speed of the machine is inversely proportional to the size of the registry.

But back to cruft on linux -- there are lessons I learned from running my system, and seeing others.

1. Use a package manager or keep a log of everything installed. Package manager is preferable if it does a decent job. I think both rpm and apt/dpkg do a very decent job, with rare and fixable corruptions. Gentoo portage seems to be excellent also...but I need time to verify....
Slack and LFS users....keep track of your installs....preferably of each file...To do this use depot / some other organizing tool that keeps everything separate.

2 Install only the stuff you need, uninstall the rest. Do not get carried away with maybe I will use this...If you stop using it and never plan to come back, remove it immediately

3. Do not ever do make install....if you compile straight from source (portage exempt) then make install will kill your hd space and make it very difficult to uninstall...If you are the only user who runs this app then try running it in your home / some other designated directory. Perhaps create a designated directory, and do a chroot install, and then create symlinks. (BTW depot does this for you, so use it if you do this often)

The only real exemption from this is the kernel, glibc, standard utils, compiler, and package manager....everything else must be kept clean

And remember the advantage of linux is that you can control cruft, while in windows cruft controls the computer

In RedHat linux... (2)

WetCat (558132) | about 12 years ago | (#3974845)

decay can easily be measured as a result of
rpm -Va | wc -l
(check all packages and count lines of mistakes)
In my case its value on my working horse notebook
is 26644,
on moderately used server it's 25535
On new machine it should be near 0...
BTW What command do you have on Debian machines to check all packages?

System clutter as a function of users (2, Insightful)

kryonD (163018) | about 12 years ago | (#3974850)

I think it's a bit premature for us linux advocates to say it is immune to this. While a package manager certainly does help reduce dependancy issues, I don't think it addresses the physical issues.

First and foremost to consider is that there is no such think as a O(1) search algorithm("read 'Big Oh of one' for the non computer scientists in the crowd: notation used to measure the efficiency of an algorithm). The ammount of time required to search a list will always be a function of its size.

As the user base of Linux grows, so will the demand and supply of software. slowly, but surely, /usr/* will start to get quite fat with binaries and their required libraries. Everytime one of those apps are called, it will take additional time to find the binary itself, then tack on the additional latency produced by the libraries having to be located and loaded into memory and the rusult will unavoidably be the visual degrade in performance.

Plus as more and more non computer literate people start using Linux, we will have to ensure that the software to support installing and upgrading packages on the system is user-proof, or other problems will result.

Unless someone can win a Nobell prize or Fields medal for finding a O(1) search, I'm afraid the above article is correct. ...

Keeping MacOS and Linux, esp. debian, clean (4, Informative)

stere0 (526823) | about 12 years ago | (#3974854)

I used to keep my macs working for 3-4 months before having to reinstall the whole shebang. I only reinstalled Mac OS X once since october. Macs are quite easy to keep clean, after some time you know where "cruft" accumulates. If anyone's interested, Alladin sells a product called Spring Cleaning [aladdinsys.com] , which I don't use. I clean my mac by hand. Seriously, on Mac OS X the only messy places are ~/Library and /Library. If you put your personal mess in your home folder, that is.

My Gnu/Linux distro of choice is Debian. If you use debian, you know how quickly apt installs those libraries. Have a look at deborphan [debian.org] , which "finds 'orphaned' packages on your system. It determines which packages have no other packages depending on their installation, and shows you a list of these packages. It is most useful when finding libraries, but it can be used on packages in all sections". I run apt-get remove `deborphan` about once a month.

Another great tool for the Gnu/Linux user is cruft [debian.org] , which, as the name says, tries to find the cruft on your system. It generates many false positives (e.g. /vmlinux), so use with many grep and caution :-).

Which tools do you guys use to keep your system clean?

Um, this is not science or even interesting. (0, Redundant)

Jack9 (11421) | about 12 years ago | (#3974863)

Many people will consider all different kind sof things "Cruft" as per the article writer with his "cruft 0" ... right. I have been running windows 98 since 1999 with only 1 system reinstall (compare that to how many times you reinstalled linux trying to learn that). I dont care how "crufty" your box gets, most /. reader you can identify cruft and remove it without trouble. I consider KAZAA cruft. The concept that a computer becomes so corrupted that it cant be used effectively is nonsense. Did the author acknowledge that a computer is made up of different parts that you can replace when they actually short or die? (no) AMDs processors (200mhz and earlier) physically burnt out their insulation after a few months, which I will concede as degredation...but nothing a table fan blowing directly into the case wont fix ;)

remove the offending programs/files, replace anything you short or break off (by screwing around with what you dont understand) and quit crying "computers die too!"

never decay - VMWare non-persistant (4, Insightful)

reverse flow reactor (316530) | about 12 years ago | (#3974868)

You can get a windows install to never decay:

1) install favorite OS [vmware.com] as the host system.

2) install VMWare [vmware.com]

3) install windows as a guest OS. Flavor to taste.

4) set the Guest OS drive to non-persistant. Set you home directory to a share form the Host OS.

5) reboot the guest OS as needed. Everytime you reboot, the system is restored from the image stored on the Host OS. Crap does not stay unless you tell it to stay.

or for slightly different purposes, install the OS and tailor it as you like it. Image partition. Reimage the drive when there is too much fluff and bloat hanging around.

Windows decays because... (4, Informative)

g4dget (579145) | about 12 years ago | (#3974879)

Windows decays because its package management and system resource databases suck. Sorry, but there is no more polite word for it. The registry is a prime example of those gee-whiz solutions ("why don't we put all this information into a 'real' database") that looks neat but just doesn't work well in practice; Microsoft seems susceptible to implementing those kinds of systems.

MacOS's preferred installation method ("drag-and-drop") doesn't suffer quite from the same problems as Windows. It's clean, simple, and easy to understand, and it doesn't leave junk all over the disk in mysterious places. But some applications install differently, and there is no single software update mechanism. Still, so far, OSX is holding up well on my systems, showing no signs of decay. But maintaining applications at the latest versions is a significant amount of work compared to Linux.

For Linux distributions, it depends on the installation and update method. Debian systems can be updated for years without "decay". In fact, I haven't seen one "decay" yet, either ones that are updated regularly or ones that aren't. Because all packages come from a single source, they are all integrated, cross-checked, and tested together, a luxury that neither Windows nor MacOS have.

The fact that, in Linux, each program has its own configuration files, often one system-wide one and one in the user's home directories, also makes Linux enormously more robust. There is no single point of failure and if some program's defaults get corrupted, it's trivial to fix and trivial to tell users how to fix it ("rm .foobar" and you should be fine).

"Linux Distribution" issue not Linux issue (1)

ike42 (596470) | about 12 years ago | (#3974883)

Although the article really says nothing about Linux, I think this is one of those times to be picky about the difference between Linux and Linux distributions. Many people do not understand the distinction, and that can be used against Linux.

In this case someone interested in discrediting Linux could choose to run their decay tests on a prone distribution. Or more likely, they would run a number of distros and choose to report the worst performer.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>