Friday, May 20, 2011

The Full Monty stumbles after a great start!

Nothing quite like a different view for a while. At least one person likes the colorful new theme. I'll keep it at least a while before deciding on whether to go to something a bit more muted or to keep with this one a while longer. It certainly beats the drab, default appearance, at least for a change of pace.

Speaking of a change of pace, that's what I did today. I went over to PCLinuxOS and messed around there for a while. I have what is known as the "Full Monty" version of PCLinuxOS installed - it came out around the Holidays. It's big, it has everything you can possibly imagine in it, but it also defaults to turning on an incredible number of services, so it is one of the more sluggish systems I have, but I can also do just about anything I may want or need to do with it, yet I actually came upon not one, but two issues with it today, and how I found them was related.

I started up a torrent to download Fedora 15 in the Xfce desktop edition, one of the four major respins that the community project is now offering. I used Ktorrent to do the download, and it was real quick because quite a few people were grabbing it. I was probably getting somewhere in the 1.5-1.8 Mega Bytes per second throughput; multiply that times eight and I was probably seeing 12 to 15 Mbps on a download, pretty good!

But then I wanted to move the file. First I burned the image. That went well, and since PCLinuxOS is fundamentally KDE based, I used k3b to do the job, and it did that well too.

That's about when the problems began. I have a Western Digital external USB drive, where I store ISO images and Virtualbox images in one partition, movies and videos in another one, Windows backups in a third one and Norton snapshot backups in a fourth one; four partitions; two are ext3 format; two are NTFS format.

I have a script that I use on most of my systems, actually two of them, one to mount the USB drive partitions and another to unmount them: mountUSB.bash and unmountUSB.bash. I mounted /dev/sda8 and created /media/sda8, and that's when I first started to notice a problem. The shell came up, but man, was it sluggish. Creating the directory probably took 10-15 seconds, an eternity when I can do it in 1-2 seconds at the max on most other systems. Then the REAL problem came up: the USB devices were not created, and if there was an automated mechanism to create them and make them accessible, it wasn't working. I didn't mess with it; why bother when I have at least ten other systems that can do this right and quickly?

So the sheen came off of this "Full Monty". It had been working quite well and the overhead hadn't presented any issues until today. But now there are two issues: overhead at the command console level is excessive, and for me, unacceptable. Automatically configuring a USB disk drive that works in Windows and in numerous other Linux distros does not auto mount, auto configure anything, and it seems not to work.

I may replace the "Full Monty" with a more basic PCLinuxOS in the future, but I may just wait until they issue an updated ISO image. This system does a lot of things well, but I finally found a few things where it bombed out. They could undoubtedly be fixed, but it isn't worth it to me; the Debian Sid system I am using now does all of these things effortlessly and it is already my every day default system.


Tim said...

Hmm.. shouldn't it detect the USB drive and mount it automagically? :P Or is it b/c of the way you have it partitioned that you need to script the process? j/c

Brian Masinick said...

I don't know what the problem was; in most cases, plugging in a USB device is enough to generate an action, which in the case of a peripheral will usually be a mount operation, or at least a dialog that will allow you to mount the device. That did not happen with PCLinuxOS, and a script to manually mount the partitions in the desired location did not recognize the /dev/sdb[1-4] partitions, either, which is, more than likely, the root cause of the problem, but why the /dev entries don't exist and are not created is the mystery, one I may not choose to solve right now.

Tim said...

hmm, that is rather strange. I don't blame you for not wanting to figure that mess out lol