I’m currently involved in a discussion on factory about what should happen if I replace the graphics card, or when I move the hard disk from one machine to another one, with different hardware.
I wished SUSE did handle such transplants gracefully, maybe for the same reason I do not wish my 2CV back:
My first car was a Citroën 2CV.
On some summer day I did a very long autobahn trip with it and the engine got real hot as it was air cooled. When I finally had arrived in my home town late at night, I rolled down a long hill using the engine brake and at the end of hill at a red light I stopped the car — and oops: so did the engine…
No way I could get it working again 8( None of the normal 2CV tricks worked, playing with the choke or
So I called the ADAC (AAA in germany, for those abroad), and back in the days that meant going and finding a phone box and all, in the middle of the night.
And when the guy finally arrived, the car just simply started.
I was explained to better not use the engine brake after long trips, or to carefully play with the gas when I really stopped: because somehow, don’t ask me for details, in these circumstances the spark plugs could become ‘wet’, and after they had ‘dried’ again, all was just fine.
Was I really too dumb to use my car?
The car had a construction problem. Any ADAC ‘angel’ knew it.
I, however didn’t. How should I? And for the first time ever, on this day at 2:30 in the morning I really, really hated this nice little car whose sound I still love.
Same goes for Linux and hardware support. With every single kernel update on 11.0 I had to re-tweak my wireless — and I even didn’t modify the hardware!
Now what happens if you take a working Linux install and replace some of the hardware, like the graphics card? Or even worse, you take the hard disk of the system and put it into another chassis, like I had to do with my laptop recently?
After such a brain transplant, the the brain needs to accommodate to the new environment. It needs to probe where it is now. It needs to be able to access the hard disk, interact with the user, connect to the network again.
However SUSE’s not really prepared for that yet: the initrd has the drivers it was created with last time, and that’s the ones needed for the hardware config at that time. Hopefully the disk is accessible with what you have there… Even if the kernel can access the disk, maybe some key drivers for the new hardware aren’t installed on the disk, like graphics, or network.
Obviously you can’t make it work under all circumstances, the point is: As of today, it won’t even work under many straightforward circumstances. So you want to change hardware? Better know exactly what you’re doing and don’t expect much help from what’s on your disk.
This brings me back to where I started this blog:
The factory thread had started with a plain vanilla feature comparison and soon got into a strong discussion whether or not Linux should handle brain transplants and hardware replacements gracefully at all, in a way that works for the simple minded, straightforward Linux user, in contrast to him who knows his ways around run level 3 and sax2 to reanimate X.
And I believe choking on a wet spark plug isn’t cool any more. Linux should just diagnose and repair itself, or at least tell clearly how to proceede.
Not only because this would make mass deployment and fast installation a real charm, with a single image to boot and run on many different hardware configurations.
But also because people just do transplant computer parts and brains these days, and they want their Linux to survive that with a smile :).
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