Still struggling with Linux

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After what can only be described as a struggle, I now have smtp mail working – meaning, I can receive mail. I can’t send it yet, though, because it keeps saying my passwords aren’t right, even though I know they’re right and I can log in correctly. At least the mail is coming in, though, so I went ahead and cut over to Linux as my mail server.

The biggest part of the struggle is the “documentation” involved with open source products. There are apparently far more people willing to code programs than there are people willing to write good, intuitive documentation. Makes sense: most programmers I know hate to write documentation, and when there isn’t any money involved, the documentation is going to suck.

Fixing setup problems with Courier, the email program I picked, meant surfing through countless forums looking for people who experienced the same problems I had. There was absolutely nothing enjoyable about this process whatsoever. Usability hell. I literally grimace when I walk up to this computer now because there’s so much work to do, and the work just isn’t any fun at all. It’s not the joyous discovery of new possibilities anymore: it’s the grim acknowledgement that when you pick Linux software, the first thing to look at isn’t the feature set, the project’s vitality, or the project’s history. The first thing to look at is the documentation, and that will tell you if the installation will be a ten-minute thing or a two day, caffeine-fueled grumble-fest.

Courier was a grumble-fest. It’s over-documented in a bad way: there are hundreds of pages about obscure setup options, but not a straightforward howto guide that shows a basic, simple one-domain installation. I found a few third-party ones with bad syntax that referred to outdated options, and threw my hands in the air.

Sure, I could sit down and write my own. But after two days of arm-wrestling command line syntax, I’m ready for a break.

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