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Linux is only for bachelors


May 29 2011

2014 update: The issue was not really with Linux as much as it was with VirtualBox. It really is worth it to spring the $250 needed to buy VMWare workstation

This morning, my Scientific Linux Virtual box guest developed a serious case of clock slew. After some research, and trying all four possible timing sources (see /sys/devices/system/clocksource/clocksource0/available_clocksource), having to reboot the Virtual guest every time I tried a different clock source, I finally came to the conclusion that the only way I am going to get a stable clock in Scientific Linux again is by upgrading to Scientific Linux 6.

As a stopgap measure, I have set up a crontab to set the clock via netdate -s every minute, so SL5's clock is always within a couple of minutes of the correct time if I'm connected to the internet.

After failing at that, I then started to research why fontconfig wasn't accepting a perfectly good BDF font file I created in Fontforge and gbdfed. The documentation was useless, and like a good open-source program, the various fontconfig commands (fc-cache, etc.) didn't log any error messages whatsoever.

I finally figured out that the issue is that Freetype's FT_New_face() doesn't like perfectly good BDF font files for as-of-yet unknown reasons. It would be nice if fc-cache had a "super verbose" setting which would report errors like "foo.bdf does not look like a font file. FT_New_face() failed; error:", along with a verbose description of FT_New_face()'s error code. But, since this is open-source software, you get what you pay for.

While ranting (it took me hours to figure this out, so yes, I'm a little annoyed), it would be really nice if FT_New_face() would accept any and all fonts that the old-school X programs like Xterm use. If it's visible in xfontsel, it should also be a legitimate font when opened with FT_New_face().

The bottom line is this: I'm a married man today. I really don't have time to struggle with poorly documented programs which don't give out helpful error messages and require source-level hacking to figure out what the !@#$ is going on.

There is a reason why Windows, not Linux, is my primary desktop OS.

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