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Since 1992 I've been running BSD as my main operating system. From time to time I use Linux as well, and they're pretty close. There's almost no difference in the user interface. Some things are different, though, and they're all the more irritating because they're “not quite right”. On this page I'm collecting information about things that I find “wrong”, and what to do about them.

This page used to be called my “Hate Linux” page. That was never intended seriously, but the title might put people off reading it. At present, this page relates to problems installing Fedora Core 4 and Ubuntu. Some of them will not apply to other distributions.

Overwide man pages

As wide as the screen. Fix with:

export MANWIDTH=80

Disappearing man pages

When you exit man, the display reverts to what it was before you started. All the docco is gone. Some BSDs do this too. For programs that use less, you can add the -X option to the LESS environment variable:

export LESS=-X

Previous versions of this page referred to a “Termcap Tirade” with a URL This seems to have fallen prey to link rot. The only reference that Google can find for “Termcap Tirade” is this page.

Reverse video xterms

By default, xterms are white on black. This is such an entrenched default that it's really painful to try to do anything else.

Colour ls

ls output is in colour! And what colours! I haven't seen any window where they're not painful, and on a normal xterm (black on white) some of the entries are invisible (white on white). At least this one can be fixed, but it's a pain to have to do so every time: patch /etc/DIR_COLORS like this:

--- DIR_COLORS  2005/05/25 09:49:52     1.1
+++ DIR_COLORS  2005/07/16 06:32:58
@@ -6,7 +6,7 @@
 # COLOR needs one of these arguments: 'tty' colorizes output to ttys, but not
 # pipes.  'all' adds color characters to all output.  'none' shuts colorization
 # off.
-COLOR tty
+COLOR none

 # Extra command line options for ls go here.
 # Basically these ones are:

Asking for confirmation

Programs like rm and friends ask for confirmation. That's not the UNIX way, and it's irritating.

Incorrect man page versions

Fixing the “asking for confirmation” problem isn't made any easier by the fact that the man page documents the correct behaviour, and there's no indication how to turn this “feature” on or off.

GNOME pain

For some reason, GNOME has chosen to break established X convention of Emacs-style editing, substituting something Microsoft-like instead. To their credit, they've left a way to fix the problem: add the following line to the file ~/.gtkrc-2.0 (creating it if it doesn't exist):

gtk-key-theme-name = "Emacs"

Incorrect termios control characters

When running a remote xterm (something that doesn't seem to be the Linux Way), the systems I know change the default erase character, setting it to . I have no idea why anybody should want to do this, and so far I haven't worked out how to fix it, but you can do it individually by selecting Backarrow Key (BS/DEL) from the ctrl-Mouse 1 menu in xterm.

Missing base functionality

Recent versions of Ubuntu don't install NFS or ssh, or a whole lot of other stuff I've come to expect. You need to install them separately. I've identified that I need to install at least the following packages:


They're my choices, of course. apt-cache search is the way to find what you need.

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