An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Computers, oh Computers

Computers; They're great aren't they? All the amazing things you can do. Keep in touch with loved ones. Make new friends on the internet. Write all you want. Show your photos. Oh they are just so Amazing. Great and amazing. Super. Amazing and Super. Just .. well great .... ... .. .. UNTIL THEY DON'T PHARKING WORK!.

OK .. hmm calm down. They're not that bad. I am writing this away on one now. Luckily it is a Mac and not the Linux beast I have unleashed upon myself at work.

Go Open Source they all say. It is the future. Linux can handle everything. Yeah up until you start pulling your hair out trying to get the thing to work with windows. I usually blame Microsoft - who doesn't - but now I am wishing I had installed it on this machine (well I couldn't actually because I don't a copy of the version I want).

Anyway I have been doing battle all week. There is a thing in Linux called Samba. Evil Samba I says. In a nutshell it is supposed to be able to allow you to connect a Windows machine to a Linux machine so you can put your files on there - and vice-versa. Well so they say.

I have never been one to follow manuals - name an IT person who does. Software is supposed to be designed intuitively so you don't need to use them and can work things out for yourself. Unfortunately when the bunch of geeks around the world were puting together Samba, they left their geek hats on and thought everyone else would get what they meant.

OK so other users have noted this problem - the problem being that you have to manually change text files to configure it (oh this is Linux in a nutshell by the way) - so they went out and started to develop about 10 different tools to allow you to configure it. None of them seem to help any.

So you switch to the last resort. The manual. The same geeks write these lovely 3 easy step documents on how to set it all up. You follow it the first time configuring it for the way you would like to work. It doesn't work. You scratch your head.

Then you lessen your configuration a notch and try to make it a tad more simpler. Throw away excess access accounts and the like, taking a level of complexity out of it. This is designed to do two things. One, as I said, make it easier and two to check that the thing actually works. It doesn't.

Then you throw all the settings out the window and you go for the open slaver approach. Set it so every man and his dog should be able to connect. Wide open like a PNG manhole. And the result de nada. Bang head against table.

Of course then if you're like me, you continue to try it from about twenty different approaches, every angle counted, tiny little things tweaked that you thought initially "oh that, nah that wouldn't make any difference" but you change it anyway and it still bloody doesn't work! Start thumping the screen and take a valium.

So I have three options left. Take it down to the lowest level - rebuild the machine. Get some extra help from an expert. Or use something else for us to store our files for our department - like my workstation is doing at the moment.

The first one is out. I have already got too much other stuff working and configured on it. Oh Linux is good .. when it works. MySQL is magic and so is the DHCP and Routering. But sori tru Samba you just don't cut it.

I think I will call help, surely there must be something simple I am missing. It just can all wait a little while. Holidays again next week. More on that later.