Living with Sid

Sid is the name of the unstable branch of the Debian GNU-Linux operating system. He's usually easy enough to get along with, if you keep your distance and give him the respect he demands. For instance, if you try to update Sid and he says he's going to remove your complete desktop, believe him. When I first met him, I didn't really think he would do such a thing. But he will and he did, unless you're careful.

Another time, one of the programmers who make Sid what he is named his app the wrong way. Sid didn't take kindly to that. He wouldn't agree to update it. I pushed him a bit too far on that point and Sid pushed back. Result: 'no printer for you, take that!'

So I learned to take it easy on Sid. The technical term is I use "upgrade" instead of "dist-upgrade." This is like keeping Sid on his medication. When he is good and ready, and has decided not to break stuff, he will update what you need, but not sooner.

We got along fine for a long while. Until a few days ago when Sid just lost it, all on his own, with no provocation on my part. Someone told him that the "ef2progs" package only liked the company of the "logsave" package. The truth was that "ef2progs" couldn't live a day without having "logsave" around. No one told Sid but he found out anyway. He was extremely indignant and pouted and wouldn't do a thing. All he did was hand me a cryptic message from "ef2progs" saying 'init --line 391, can't find logsave'.

At first I was tempted to whack him one, and send him packing, but instead I decided to give Sid some quiet time. I went next door (I dual boot) and asked Buster if he wouldn't mind my staying with him for a few days. From his house, I asked people (via Google) just what that mysterious message meant. For 24 hours no one seemed to know. Then the next day, someone said (aka 'filed a bug report') that he too had seen the same message. Even better, he knew what Sid needed to make him feel better: sneak up on him (chroot), and get him a copy of "logsave" for his own. I did so. While he still didn't know I was there, I updated him. Lo and behold, even newer versions of "ef2progs" and "logsave" for Sid to play with! I just knew he would be happy now.

And he was. And we're back to speaking to each other. And I learned how to talk to him when he's in one of his moods and get him back on his feet. He needs someone like that. Sometimes we all do.


As I lazily port articles from my old site to this one, I came across this account of my life with Sid written in July 2019. I have to say that, for the time being at least, Sid and I have gone separate ways.

At the beginning of the pandemic you might remember, the government was throwing money at people to stimulate the economy. I decided to do my part so I bought a new desktop computer. It came with Windows. I realized I'd better keep Windows because it reliably ran Zoom. I needed Zoom because of the pandemic. (Life is full of those little circles, isn't it?) Anyway, I only have so much room on the disk for operating systems so it's just me, Windows, and Debian stable for the time being.

But stable being the boring, predictable setup that it is, allowing you to actually accomplish things and not spend an hour a week keeping it running, I will probably make room for Sid in my life soon, likely when I finish moving these articles over to this site. (We're circling around again, aren't we? I'd better stop here.)