2 Nov 2008 mjg59   » (Master)


First, let me make one thing clear. This isn't constructive criticism. This is just criticism. It's directed at software that's so wrong-headed that there's no way to make it significantly better, and everyone involved would be much better spending their time doing something else instead of trying to fix any of what I'm about to describe. It's not worth it. Sit in a park or something instead. Meet new and interesting people. Take up a hobby that doesn't involve writing shell scripts for Linux. You'll be happier. I'll be happier. Everyone wins.

Anyway. I wrote about Automatix some time ago. It died and the world became a better place. More recently it's been resurrected as something called Ultamatix. In summary, don't bother. It's crap. And dangerous. But mostly crap. Again, I'm going to utterly ignore the UI code and just concentrate on what it runs.

  • function cleanup {
    echo "Cleaning up..."
    sudo apt-get autoremove --assume-yes --force-yes
    In other words, "Remove a bunch of packages that might have nothing to do with anything Ultamatix has installed, and don't ask the user first. Oh, and assume yes when asked whether to do anything potentially damaging". This gets called 103 times in various bits of Ultamatix.

  • Oh, notice the sudo in there? Ultamatix is running as root already. Despite this, there are 429 separate calls to sudo.
  • #Test O/S 64 or 32 bit...
    architecture=`uname -m`
    targetarch="x86" #Set 64-bit machines to download 32-bit if no options are set
    if [ "$architecture" != "x86_64" ] && [ "$architecture" != "ia64" ]; then
    It turns out that ia64 is not especially good at running x86_64 binaries. Never mind, eh?
  • rm -rf $AXHOME/.gstreamer-0.10
    sudo gst-inspect
    Which translates as "Delete any self-installed plugins, run gst-inspect as root in an attempt to regenerate the plugin database, really run gst-inspect as root in an attempt to regenerate the plugin database". The flaws in this are left as an exercise for the reader.
  • sudo apt-get --assume-yes --force-yes remove --purge
    Used 111 times. Will remove the packages it installed, but also any other packages the user has installed that happen to depend on them. Without asking.
  • sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.bak
    sudo echo "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/project-neon/ubuntu hardy main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
    sudo apt-get update
    if !    sudo apt-get install --assume-yes --force-yes amarok-nightly amarok-nightly-tools amarok-nightly-taglib
            AX_fatal "An apt-based error occurred and installation was unsuccessful";
    echo "Restoring sources."
    sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.bak /etc/apt/sources.list
    sudo apt-get update
    The good news is that it backs up your sources.list before breaking things. The bad news is that it's still utterly horrifying.
  • #since we have root we need to discover normal username so we can create the shortcut & set proper permissions
    NU=$(cat /etc/passwd | grep 1000 | cut -d: -f1)
    sudo chown $NU:$NU "legends_linux-"
    sudo chmod +x legends_linux-
    sudo dpkg -i legends_linux-
    List of fail:
    1. Assuming that the user has uid 1000
    2. Chowning a deb to the user for no obvious reason (hint: a user can delete root owned files that are in the user's home directory)
    3. Making a deb executable for no reason whatsoever
    4. Assuming that user information will be in /etc/passwd
    5. Not just, say, passing the user's name to the application IN THE FIRST PLACE
  • sudo apt-get --assume-yes --force-yes install f-spot dvgrab kino devede gtkpod-aac ipod gnupod-tools libgpod-common
    libipod-cil libipoddevice0 libipodui-cil libhfsp0 hfsplus hfsutils libipod0
    If only we had some way of saying that libraries used by programs should automatically be installed when a program is. Wouldn't that be great?
  • echo "Adding mediabuntu repository"
    sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.bak
    sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/hardy.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list
    echo "Restoring sources."
    sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.bak /etc/apt/sources.list
    Yeah. that'll help.

  • The Swiftweasel install that checks your CPU type and then has some insane number of cut and paste code chunks that differ only by the filename of the tarball it grabs. Rather than, say, using a variable and writing the code once.

  • The cutting and pasting of the same code in order to install swiftdove.

  • Code that installs packages differently depending on whether they happened to be in your home directory to start with or whether it had to download them for you
  • if !    DEBIAN_FRONTEND=kde sudo apt-get --assume-yes --force-yesinstall virtualbox
    No, I didn't remove any spaces from that.
  • #create directory incase they installed it elsewhere, no sense in scraping all thier games
    sudo mkdir /usr/local/games/WoP/ 2>/dev/null
    sudo rm -R /usr/local/games/WoP/ 2>/dev/null
    What, create a directory and then immediately delete it? How is this useful in any way whatsoever?

There's almost certainly more. I got bored. The worrying thing about this is that the Ultamatix author read my criticisms of Automatix and appears to have attempted to fix all of them. The problem with this is that there's clearly a complete lack of understanding of the fundamental problem in several cases. For example, one of my criticisms of Automatix:

sudo sed -i "s/^vboxusers\(.*\):$/vboxusers\1:$AXUSER/" /etc/group

- assumes that the system isn't using some sort of user directory service.

and the Ultamatix response:

Fixed...Got rid of Virtualbox

Except exactly the same problem is present at other points in Ultamatix, as noted above. Taking a bug list and slavishly fixing or deleting all the bugs isn't helpful if you then proceed to add the same bug back in 24 other places. In that respect, it's even worse than Automatix - the author's managed to produce a huge steaming pile of shite despite having been told how to avoid doing so beforehand. He may be no newbie to programming, but if not it's a perfect example of how experience doesn't imply competence.

Don't install this package. Don't let anyone else install this package. If you see anyone advocating the installation of this package, call them a fool. There's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the existence of this kind of crap.

Minor update:
The above was looking at 1.8.0-4. It turns out that there's a 1.8.0-5 that's not linked off the website. There's no substantive difference, but some of the numbers may be slightly different.

Syndicated 2008-11-02 12:16:11 from Matthew Garrett

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