Brief update for 2018

So … you may notice the site disappeared for some time, and now it’s back all images are missing. This is down to three things:

  • MariaDB’s supporters put a nasty little poison-pill into the Debian OS that blocks MySQL DBs from working once triggered, to try and force everyone onto Maria.
  • My online backup setup couldn’t cope with the > 1GB of images + videos I had embedded in this blog over the years, so I was manually doing full backups of images every year or so.
  • In an emergency (needed a particular version of OS X to run something for work, at very short notice) I wiped the hard drive with my local backup of images.

MariaDB’s poison-pill damaged the OS so badly that I had to do a complete wipe + re-install the OS. I couldn’t unfuck the packages. I had complete backups of all configuration, and recent backups of the DB contents (although I lost about 5 or 10 blog posts, spread across my various blogs, maybe 2 or 3 each). Maria refuses to come online with the fully up-to-date backups I had from MySQL (double yay for how crappy this Maria thing is … although this is an inherited bug from MySQL itself, it’s always had major problems with restoring databases by any means other than text dump, which in my haste I forgot), and after a few days of work, I gave up trying to fix it.

The last two items were temporary hiccups (I was in the process of setting up and testing a new multi-gigabyte backup system when I ran the automatic update for Debian). The first item, the root cause of what happened … my opinions there are quite salty. Yay for politics in OpenSource being more important than preserving users’ data!

(the poison-pill was a virtual package that if you tried to do upgrades to MySQL would insert itself and break your OS’s packages. The idea appears to have been: “Many people won’t realise that MySQL is no longer politically free, and is now owned by Oracle, and that the MySQL original team have abandoned it to make a new rival! So … let’s stop people from accidentally continuing to use Oracle-owned software!”.

In principle, I agree with that idea: I hadn’t noticed the spat in MySQL world, and was only vaguely aware of MariaDB. It was good to be informed that something odd was going on in MySQL. HOWEVER … their choice of a dangerous and ultimately (in my case, at least) destructive bomb in the OS was extremely bad form, and frankly unforgivable: it violates one of the basic trusts of Debian, built up over decades.

Incidentally … a spat that I have noticed is the splintering of Debian, with a substantial bunch of the maintainers dumping it and making a “new” Debian thing that’s supposedly true to Debian’s roots. That upset me, but switching was going to be very expensive (I’ve investigated it a couple of times). However, the Maria incident strikes me as exactly the kind of “screw Debian’s reputation; let’s abuse our influence!” attitude that those guys were complaining about. I guess it’s time to more aggressively dump Debian – certainly for all new installs!

Don’t you just hate it when people come along and shit on the shoulders of giants? :)