Wandering Thoughts archives


A paradox of ignorance

Something that's recently struck me:

Ignorance often makes it easier to do things, because you don't know enough to become paralyzed with indecision.

If I'd known what I now know about bicycles when I bought my bike, I might never got it. Back then I just went to a local bike shop a co-worker liked with the determination to stop delaying and get a bike that was neither too cheap nor too expensive. These days I would probably be trying to make up my mind about various bits of gear and what was best and how much I was willing to spend on what and so on.

It pops up a lot in computers, too. For example, now that I've heard about 6-bit versus 8-bit LCD colour issues and TN panels versus VA and IPS panels and a bunch of the complexity lurking under the surface, I am filled with a moderately vast uncertainty over future LCD panels, as opposed to the blithe confidence I had back when I said 'Dell 1907FPs, they seem good to me'.

(I suppose that this is a facet of The Paradox of Choice, which I must have read about at some point in the past few years.)

IgnoranceParadox written at 21:50:31; Add Comment

An Ubuntu astonishment

I just discovered that my Ubuntu test machine (running Dapper, not the current bleeding edge), installed with a base level of server packages, does not have cron installed.

It does, of course, have the /etc/cron.(daily weekly) directories, and cheerfully optimistic packages have populated them with various things that they no doubt expect to get run every so often in order to keep the system working smoothly.

(Evidently none of them actively depended on cron, or it would have been installed. Perhaps this is a bug. Fortunately exim4 did depend on cron and I actually read the list of packages that were going to be installed as dependencies, so cron is now explicitly listed as part of our additional core packages.)

Sidebar: a fun Ubuntu dependency chain

As an experiment, I started to install eximon4 (an X11 based Exim monitoring program). To my surprise, apt told me that it wanted to install dmidecode, which struck me as a rather absurd thing for an X11 program to require.

Except it doesn't, not directly. eximon4 requires libx11-6 (the main X libraries), which requires x11-common (the base X infrastructure), which requires laptop-detect (tries to detect if you're running on a laptop), which reasonably requires dmidecode.

(The dodgy hard dependency is x11-common to laptop-detect; I would rather not import laptop detection code on servers just so that I can run X clients. Current Debian packages have moved this dependency to the X server, which is more rational.)

linux/UbuntuCronAstonishment written at 16:11:31; Add Comment

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