3x18: Ultracrepidarian

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which we are ultracrepidarian, the Apple phone becomes slightly more annoying, and:

Come chat with us and the community in our Slack channel via https://badvoltage-slack.herokuapp.com/!

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News music: Long Live Blind Joe by Robbero, used with attribution.

Thank you to Marius Quabeck and NerdZoom Media for being our audio producers!

One of you asked to what extent Russians actually drink that much, or whether that’s just a stereotype.

Let me try to answer:

Twenty-odd years ago I traveled Russia in my mobile home for about three months, between St. Petersburg and Moscow.
I spent my time with lots of friends, Russians and others, and we all fell into the category of nature loving hippies. Alcohol did not play a role in this at all.


A classical music hippie student from St. Petersburg, living with his mom. We picked him up there, it was a normal suburban single mom flat, and the son was of the quiet type with glasses. Nothing to suggest a history of alcoholism or anything. I was developing a cold, and he told me that he knew the perfect remedy from his mom.
He started: “You get into bed, really warm. Then you need a bottle of vodka infused with lemon and garlic…”
We were already laughing hard at that, somebody said: “Yeah, and then you drink it all!” (more laughter).
He looked at us seriously (and a little hurt) and replied: “No, not all. You drink half of it, then you go to sleep, and the next morning you drink the other half.”
He didn’t understand why this was even funnier to us.

I traveled with only 2 friends, father and son, very serious and intellectual people who rarely drank more than a glass of wine on weekends. They wanted to make a stop to visit some friends/relatives, and bought a bottle of vodka as a present. So far, so normal. We slept in the mobile home and went to visit them in the morning. What threw me was that it was considered equally normal to open the bottle and start drinking right there, at 11 am.

Another thing I noticed is how they made do with very little, adapted what they have to what they need.
I think the hand sanitizer story falls more into that category of inventiveness (or at least they thought they were being real clever and inventive).

For example, one day someone came up to me - the only guy who came with his own car - and asked me to borrow some diesel. Why? because he had a sore throat and wanted to gargle with it. A well-known “home remedy” apparently.

But I’ve also seen positive examples of inventiveness: camping in the forest, we had very little money to buy food for a lot of people - so we just bought rice, onions, salt, some oil. Then they (I wish I could say I joined them) went to pick mushrooms and berries and we made a very decent dish out of all that.

A bottle of vodka was always half a litre back then.

Funny, I was involved in a site survey for a very large cosmic ray detector (Auger). We visited two sites in the FSU, one near Volgograd and the other near Almaty, just barely west of the border with China. We also spent several days in Moscow, not a single drink the entire time (worth noting we were pretty senior physicists) until we hit the site near Almaty where we stayed in some very weird almost Potemkinesque village. God what a booze up. Fortunately the food just kept on coming and seemed to do a great job of soaking up the alcohol.

The CentOS story is different than Jono explained it.

CentOS Stream was announced in 2019 as a supplement to both RHEL and regular CentOS, not as a replacement for regular CentOS. Red Hat always emphasized that the flow would be the following: Fedora always gets all the bleeding-edge stuff. Whatever is deemed good enough for the next minor release of RHEL goes into CentOS Stream. RHEL is then synced with the current state of CentOS stream for minor releases. Regular CentOS is synced with RHEL a couple of days later to encourage people to buy RHEL subscriptions, especially for security-critical stuff.

Then nothing happened for a year, and now that CentOS Stream is finally coming around Red Hat simply removed regular CentOS from the equation. This is a massive problem for the industry.

Why? Because RHEL literally has a monopoly on commercial enterprise-grade Linux operating systems. Most hardware and 3rd party software vendors only validate their products against RHEL. Most don’t even validate against the most recent RHEL release, that’s why Red Hat offers Extended Update Subscriptions (EUS) for older minor releases. A large number of small and medium-sized businesses out there are relying on CentOS because regular RHEL subscriptions are way too expensive for most projects, but at the same time they need something that’s guaranteed not to cause too many problems if you have to open a support ticket with the hardware/3rd party software vendor.

So other distributions are not really an option to begin with, and one year for moving whole industries away from CentOS is a joke. If no-one steps up to become the “new CentOS” (Rocky Linux seems to be a good candidate) and offers a straight-forward way for keeping production systems updated, this will become an absolute nightmare for many IT teams around the world. CERN, LHCG and many HPC operators around the world for example are running literally hundreds of thousands of nodes on CentOS.

I’ve seen Red Hat offer heavily discounted site-wide subscriptions for RHEL to large academic sites over the course of the last 18 months, with discounts being in the order of 70% and the subscriptions containing lots of additional RH products. Why bother with CentOS and its tiny incompatibilities when you can get all the benefits of an actual RHEL contract so cheap?

So I think it’s pretty clear that Red Hat planned all of this a long time ago, at least two years. They strategically “shut up” some of the institutions that would have been the most vocal after the discontinuation of CentOS by providing them with cheap subscriptions, and the transition period of one year is calculated exactly so that lots of people have no other option than buying RHEL subscriptions.

This was to be expected. Red Hat has become large enough that they no longer have to care about the non-paying “parasites”.

I’m just disappointed Fuchsia isn’t an embedded OS for automobiles. Mainly for the Google is trying to turn us into a pink car nation jokes

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