PapaScott I like big blogs and I cannot lie! 🐘

MT Is Hard

Alwin mentions his difficulties trying out MT and that setting up pMachine was a lot easier (it is), Mark Pilgrim mentions Vincent Flanders difficulties trying out MT, and Paul concludes that therefore MT must be crap (as well as Debian GNU/Linux, for good measure).

All this is related to my current problems with Movable Type as well.

MT is hard to set up. There are a lot of settings that have to be just right before it will run. That's the nature of a CGI. It is a complete program that runs by itself (inheriting a number of environment variables from the web server), and needs to be explicitly given certain bits of information (like where to read and write files).

MT also demands a lot a resources, because 1) that's the nature of a CGI, being called as a separate program by the web server, and 2) the design decision to write static HTML files for all archives. When the archive templates are changed, all archive files need to be rewritten. For PapaScott that's a couple thousand files. My hoster restricts how much CPU time a CGI can take, so MT times out before it can write out all its files.

CGI is a clunky, old fashioned way to program web services, slow and resource hungry. Ten years ago there was no other way to do it. These days it belongs in the same dustbin as Netscape 4. However, precisely because CGI is old fashioned, it is available at nearly all web hosters, so that is why I think Ben and Mena chose to develop MT as a CGI.

pMachine is easier because a PHP page is not a complete program. It is text parsed by the PHP program, which is usually installed as an Apache module, so it (sort of) becomes part of the web sever itself. pMachine creates entry and archive pages on the fly, so it doesn't need to write any HTML files, saving the associated overhead and setup headaches. All pMachine needs to know is where to find the database.

Paul's criticism of the MT documentation is somewhat unfair, since the docs are designed for a user at a commercial hoster with no means or knowledge of setting up the web server. MT does work just fine for me with a standard Apache installation (Linux distributions tend to screw up Apache, so SuSE and Red Hat don't count as standard installations).

Anyway, I'll probably stick with MT for now. My hoster has worked out the MySQL issues, so I can use the database again. I do like the user interface and the design, and I don't feel like switching to something completly different right now. I'm writing up PHP versions of the archive templates so I can serve archive pages on the fly. Then I won't have the problems with rebuilding. I have a working entry template already, and I'll post them all when I have them all ready and more-or-less usable.

As for and OS and software that just work, I don't think there is any such thing, except for game consoles. Turn on your PlayStation, plug in the cartridge, and play. It just works. Computers should work the same way.

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