14 Dec 2004 garym   » (Master)

Aye and it's one of those days ... started last night, late, I was washing up the dishes when I realized that a pretty expensive and elaborate system at work could be replaced, in a few hours, with a simple and elegant chain of free software. I ripped through the last of the pots so I could get back to my desk; this was just too good to be true.

Along the way I refined the idea, worked through how it could scale way beyond the existing system, ran through the sequence of installations in my head, and yes, still, only maybe a morning's work, something I could slip in and deliver to the boss by total surprise, which I would have to do because it's not likely anyone would authorize this little diversion or really understand the advance it makes until they had it in their hands ...

Back at my desk, past midnight by now. The idea had been triggered by a new Sourceforge project release that came across the Freshmeat RSS, so that was my first stop. And then reality steps in:

  1. Minimum requirements: Python 2.3 -- all our machines are RedHat 9.0 and right there I knew I was in for a long haul because Python is pretty deeply embedded in the RH utilities, and there's no way anyone will sign for a fleet upgrade, but I figure, just one machine to illustrate the point and think to myself, how hard can it be to just trash the RH-config utils and upgrade only Python? Next stop, Python.org
  2. Python 2.4 just released -- like, literally hours ago, but unfortunately there are no packages for RH9 yet, so I'm stuck with the 2.3 release and that means there'll be another upgrade in my near future but at least they have them, 30 rpms for download, so I set lftp on the list and go to bed.
  3. server timeout! -- python.org it seems, has pretty bare hardware support; several attempts to pull the rpms over FTP all fail due to timeouts, so I shift to doing it one RPM at a time over HTTP. It's now nearly noon and I still don't know what I'm up against trying to wrest RedHat of it's ancient Python

I hope this is all worth the both because the preparation to development has already taken longer than my worst-case estimate of the time to deliver the application, and I haven't even really started the real muck and mire of actually upgrading these third-party Python RPMS. There's been some side-roads too since I spent some time trying to find out if RedHat had any equivalent to urpmi, of which Apt and Yum were mentioned at the DAG site, but with no further easy pathways to discover more about them and this was already taking way too long (leave that for another day -- anyone care to recommend one over the other?).

So that's the day so far, killer-app idea on a back burner while I haul the hardware out of it's Rip Van Winkle lapse in upgradings, and people wonder just why it is that software developers almost never meet their initial timeline estimates.

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