Lawyers, guns and money

Story: What will it take for Linux and Open Source to dethrone Microsoft?Total Replies: 89
Author Content
tuxchick

Jan 03, 2010
11:38 PM EST
OK so I was listening to Warren Zevon when I read this. But the more I think about it, the more it sounds right.
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 04, 2010
2:18 PM EST
+ werewolves
vainrveenr

Jan 04, 2010
4:41 PM EST
Lawyers, guns and money (LGM).... ... leading to customers running away from Microsoft products as a clearly unintended consequence?? As Eicher writes in her recent blog 'More FUD Please', http://whatwillweuse.com/2009/12/23/more-fud-please/
Quoting:The harder they [Microsoft's LGM teams] fight the less resources they have to go into product. Customers are running away from Microsoft products. Everyday I see people dumping Windows for Linux or MacOSX. Even former Microsoft apologist, Don Dodge, has gone Google. From what I can see, Microsoft is shrinking. It would be to Microsoft’s benefit to get out of the FUD business and focus on selling out of Windows 7. That way it could be an example of a successful American company like Red Hat instead of General Motors.


A weak possibility in the near-term.

tuxchick

Jan 04, 2010
7:26 PM EST
Werewolves, guns and money sounds even better!

Are fleers from Windows are going to Mac and Google, or Linux? I rather doubt that desktop Linux is gaining much ground, even with Windows being totally horrible. I'm getting a bit bored of the "everyone who uses Google or Amazon is using Linux!" cheerleading. So what? It's not because they have Linux underpinnings and everyone is all "yay, I heart Google and Amazon (and my mobile phone/set-top box/broadband router/etc.) because they have Linux Inside!" But because of good implementations and marketing.

I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with desktop Linux, it seems to lurch from brokenness to brokenness, without ever actually progressing. It's in a continual state of rip-and-replace: Xorg, the wireless stack, init/Upstart, udev/hotplug, audio is an absolutely stinking pile of decomp, Gnome and KDE are vying for the "most pointless borkification" trophy, and the most clueless design and dev decisions. My faves are the ones made on behalf of users, without actually doing any research into what users want...Yeah, I've been a big desktop Linux cheerleader in the past, but I'm running out of reasons to overlook the multitudes of suckages that seem to proliferate, rather than improve.
jdixon

Jan 04, 2010
7:51 PM EST
> OK so I was listening to Warren Zevon...

So, do you think Roland would be interested in having a discussion with Microsoft management?
tracyanne

Jan 04, 2010
9:42 PM EST
Na, Vampires, guns and money. Vampire regularly beat up werewolves.
gus3

Jan 04, 2010
10:49 PM EST
Vampires can still be stopped, with a silver bullet or a wooden stake.

How about Dr. Frankenstein's monster?
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 04, 2010
10:56 PM EST
Quoting:I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with desktop Linux, it seems to lurch from brokenness to brokenness, without ever actually progressing. It's in a continual state of rip-and-replace: Xorg, the wireless stack, init/Upstart, udev/hotplug, audio is an absolutely stinking pile of decomp, Gnome and KDE are vying for the "most pointless borkification" trophy, and the most clueless design and dev decisions.


Couldn't have said it better myself (and I've said it plenty of times, in fact).

What this has meant for me: 6-month release cycle = pain. If OpenBSD hadn't done this to me, I'd say it was a Linux conspiracy (and I prefer to think its an Xorg conspiracy).
Sander_Marechal

Jan 05, 2010
3:17 AM EST
Quoting:Vampires can still be stopped, with a silver bullet or a wooden stake.


Silver bullets are for werewolves actually, not for vampires.

Quoting:I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with desktop Linux


I'm not. It's getting much better very fast on most fronts.

Xorg: This really needed fixing. We knew the path would be long and there would be some regressions. But most of the stuff that we use today isn't even possible on the old stack. Think hardware accelleration. Not just 3D but also video decoding. Just try to decode a HD movie on your CPU. And it also works on remote desktops using local video hardware. Not to mention the drivers. We went from low-performance proprietary blobs (if any, else it was VESA) to mostly working free drivers with adequate performance. The proprietary drivers now have similar or better performance than the Windows counterparts.

Wireless: This has gotten a lot better. I used to have trouble connecting reliably to most secured wireless networks back in 2006. WEP sorta worked but WPA(2) was a mess. These days it pretty much works. VPN over wireless, tethering over GSM, those silly prepaid plans at hotels and campings. Roaming.

Init: My boot time is almost halved thanks to dependency-based concurrent init.

Audio: There's been some improvement. Alsa pretty much just works for standard desktop Linux and supports much more hardware much better than OSS. High performace, low-latency audio is still a problem but that's not really a core desktop task for most people.

Gnome/KDE: I partially agree with you, but why stick with these DE's? You're not tied to their choices. I stopped using plain Gnome half a year ago or so and I haven't looked back. Regardless, I know my parents are much more comfortable using the current versions than the versions from two years ago (my parents don't know computers at all).

I get the impression you're having a similar resistance to change as we often accuse Windows people of having.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
4:45 AM EST
Sander -

Bah.

My XFCE destkop still does funny things with workspaces, which would be OK and I spent yesterday getting my ralink 2870 N-class USB stick working -- a device that has not one, but two (count 'em -- two) drivers that don't "just work" for my device. I was, fortunately, able to hack the manufacturer's driver (if you can call sticking the USB device id in a couple of places hacking). The driver in the kernel? Well, it loads.

I've been using desktop Linux exclusively (at least when not forced to do otherwise by the need to earn cash) for more than ten years, and I agree with TC. I'm too poor for a Mac right now, but it sure would be nice to have a workstation that just -- well, works.

The KDE fiasco left an especially bad taste in my mouth, but, what the heck -- might as well watch the GNOME team do the same thing. It's the way things are done in Linux land, right?

As to resisting change, you've got a point. I have a serious resistance to change done stupidly, or done for no other reason that "Gee, wouldn't that be cool. What? People use this stuff? Screw them."

Come to think of it, I'm up late with insomnia and not too kindly inclined to folks who get all smug and proud and cluck "Well, gee, you must not like change." That's an especially stupid comment for linux users as being a linux user implies a willingness to go against the grain and explore.

jacog

Jan 05, 2010
4:53 AM EST
Awesome thread, people. Don't even need shills.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
5:16 AM EST
jacog -

One good way to end up with cr@p is to presume all criticism is invalid and that only paid conspirators would dare to have an impure thought.
jacog

Jan 05, 2010
6:00 AM EST
Criticism is fine, but dozering heaps of negativity about just brings the mood down. I can't imagine how FOSS developers manage to stay motivated half the time.
bigg

Jan 05, 2010
6:16 AM EST
I'm with Sander. My Linux experience is getting better all the time. Maybe I'm just lucky but day after day I use it to do everything I need with zero maintenance beyond updating my apps. Is Ubuntu 9.10 a heap of junk? Sure, the worst version I've tried since 6.10. They've even managed to mess up suspend on my laptop. Luckily I don't have to use Ubuntu.

Macs aren't very expensive. You can get a MacBook at Best Buy for $1000. Linux isn't for everyone, go get a MacBook and get on with your life.
DiBosco

Jan 05, 2010
7:40 AM EST
Another vote for Linux getting better all the time. More and more installs just work (and it's *way* easier to install than Windows - what a nightmare trying to downgrade a friend's computer from Vista to XP). It looks better and better with the KDE4 implementation, the amount of available apps is ever improving and I agree with Sander, WiFi works very well (although Broadcom's still a fiddle,. that's hardly Linux's fault).

Surely if you don't like the six month cycle you stick with something like Debian? Ot just stick with an older, working implementation of your favourite distribution. You don't *have* to upgrade each time. :~)
machiner

Jan 05, 2010
8:28 AM EST
Lenny + OpenBox on my laptop is the most fabulous setup I've ever had, with my intervention. Putting ones faith in the binary madness is, well - madness. Putting your faith into anything other than you exonerates all personal responsibility. How's that been going? The country says badly, the planet says the same.

Sure, it sounds cynical and anti-community, but look at the community. What is it really? A hierarchy of elitists, wannabes and followers; posers. Sure, there's some gems in there, quite a few, but even the altruism of GNU/Linux says do it my way or pound sand. It simply says this with a nicer stick. I wish for the day none of us have podiums, agendas and the self/societal need to buy a bigger TV.

When this is understood and things are put into proper perspective then some of us can dismount our high horses, remember we all put our pants on one leg at a time and quit whining that the sky is blue instead of a nice shade of aqua-marine.

Hey Bigg -- $1000 not expensive? Where do YOU live? Around here that's just a bit more than a tank of oil.
bigg

Jan 05, 2010
8:42 AM EST
$1000 isn't much compared with the hassle of broken Linux implementations. For me, $1000 is a lot of money, because it's $1000 more than I have to pay to install Linux on an old box, but relative to the problems tuxchick and dino are having $1000 is a bargain. Linux is obviously not a rational choice for them.
Sander_Marechal

Jan 05, 2010
9:03 AM EST
Quoting:My XFCE destkop still does funny things with workspaces, which would be OK and I spent yesterday getting my ralink 2870 N-class USB stick working -- a device that has not one, but two (count 'em -- two) drivers that don't "just work" for my device.


Now rewind two or three years. Did the ralink work back then? Did the XFCE workspaces?

I too have to fiddle with my box a bit more than I used to a few years ago to make everything work the way I want it to. But my needs have grown. There is no way I can do what I do today on the old software stack. Back then it worked fine because I didn't do realtime 1920x1024 HD video decoding. Today I do. Back then I didn't roam from one wifi network to the next. Now I do. Back then I didn't use much 3D applications. Now I do. On multiple monitors even.

Even Macs don't "just work". Borrow one from a friend and try it. Especially try using all that non-apple-approved hardware.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
9:22 AM EST
Sander -

Three years ago, the ralink wouldn't work, but it didn't exist, either.

What I know is this:

In 1999, I was running KDE 0.something or other on Debian, and it was fine. It wasn't much trouble, but didn't do much.

I was happy just to have a desktop I could use easily, and StarOffice (pre-Sun) worked well enough for my Office things.

Now I'm using XFCE on Ubuntu because KDE got all royally hosed, which leaves me pretty close to that old KDE 0.something Desktop nearly eleven years later.

Back then, I really thought that we were moving towards Linux as a solid desktop choice, something that would stand shoulder to shoulder with -- even a step above Apple and Microsoft.

I thought we would be there long before now. Heck -- KDE 2 was a giant step in that direction. Toss in Abiword, OpenOffice, and Mozilla -- how could desktop Linux not succeed?

I was wrong.

As you point out, underlying infrastructure stuff keeps getting better. Not only do we have wireless, we have N-class wireless. OK, the kernel driver didn't work and I had to find the vendor driver and modify it a bit, but I can stream 5 (count 'em 5!!) recorded high-def TV shows simultaneously from my office myth backend to the living room myth frontend without a hiccup. I can probably do more, but five made me REALLY happy.

That's the coolness of Linux. Industrial grade underpinnings and the ability to putter.

But, in the end, desktops are not servers, and users matter. Developers are prone to forgetting that and, in free software, developers rule the roost.



tuxchick

Jan 05, 2010
10:26 AM EST
Yes, credit where credit is due-- the wifi stack team did an awesome job. In something like a year and a half they rewrote the whole wireless stack, unifying what had been a nasty cobble-job of several discrete and incompatible systems, and they have been working with hardware vendors to get good FOSS drivers. A splendid job indeed. If only that sort of professionalism and quality of work were the rule.

How long will it take to get fundamental systems stabilized and working correctly? Sander, ALSA does not "just work", except when you have only a single sound card. It still has no interface for routing different sound events to different devices, such as a VoIP call to a headset and music to external speakers. It has no decent interface for managing multiple sound devices at all, you have to muck with asound.conf, which isn't too bad to learn for ace scripting geeks, but you can't change anything on the fly., and you still can't do any routing.

Debian and Ubuntu used to include the very useful asoundconf command, which I used to change the default sound device. This was very useful to me because most apps do not include any sound device choosers, like Firefox, but use only the default sound device. But no one else picked it up, and now it's gone. I uncovered several reasons. One, the Ubuntu dev who maintained it decided he didn't want to anymore. Hey, real professional there, just walk away and don't find a replacement. Also, in their usual wisdom, the devs think that Pulse is a good-enough replacement so we lusers should shut up and be happy about it. Which is idiotic, because it isn't. Pulse is complete mess: latency is ridiculous, I have measured as much as two seconds, and the user interface is a drunken mess. On my Ubuntu system there are something like 6 different Pulse control panels scattered all over the system.

Pulse command line? Assuming I even want to use Pulse (see horrible latency, above) the pacmd command is a fiasco. For example, to change the default sound device with asoundconf goes like this:

asoundconf set-default-card MobilePre

Easy peasey. Now let's try the pacmd command. First look at man pacmd:

"This program takes no command line options"

Say what?? It does too. So I bumble around and find man default.pa(5), which says

"The same commands can also be entered during runtime in the pacmd(1) tool, allowing flexible runtime reconfiguration." OK, so I wasn't hallucinating.

Not one single command is documented in the man pages, rather you are directed to http://pulseaudio.org/wiki/CLI. Which still doesn't give anything like a complete or organized listing, so it takes some serious detective work to learn that the asoundconf equivalent in pacmd is

pacmd set-default-sink alsa_output.usb-M_Audio_MobilePre-00.analog-stereo

And then you have to restart Pulse. WTF people, how is this an improvement? (For added giggles, pacmd doesn't even use the standard convention of 'pacmd --help', but rather 'pacmd help'.

KDE4? I'm still withholding judgement, though i am not happy about many aspects of it. It is a radical change. I had a great workflow going with KDE3, it was fast and efficient for me. Why should I be forced to switch to something else? That is stupid, and it is thoughtless of the value of my time. I used it for a reason. I still have KDE3 on my main workstation, but I know the time will come when I must migrate to something else. Which will cost time and effort, and will it be worth it? And then what other forced changes lurk in the future?

Resistant to change? As dino said, to stupid change, yes. Y'all might keep in mind I've been Linuxing for fifteen years, and not in the half-hearted oh-I-still-use-Windows-for-real-work way that so many so-called Linux advocates do, but as my exclusive personal prime OS for a good decade now. Sysadmin, network admin, interop, migrations-- my hands are plenty dirty. I keep up with windows and dabble in Mac and the BSDs because I think that a tech journalist who doesn't have cross-platform expertise is worthless. Plus I'm curious and nosy, and like knowing things.

I could go on and on, but it seems this is turning into a book.
gus3

Jan 05, 2010
12:03 PM EST
Whenever the thought to complain about Linux enters my mind, I stop and consider where I was B.L. (before Linux).

My worst day with Linux is still better than my best day with that cr@p.
jdixon

Jan 05, 2010
12:17 PM EST
> My worst day with Linux is still better than my best day with that cr@p.

I have to agree. But I believe there may be a common factor involved. :)
azerthoth

Jan 05, 2010
12:31 PM EST
Quoting:I could go on and on, but it seems this is turning into a book.


another book

might not be bad TC, if you can bring the light of truth in stupidity cross platform it's not a bad concept. a good 'what were they thinking' across linux, windows, bsd, mac.
DiBosco

Jan 05, 2010
1:01 PM EST
TC, maybe it's time to try a new distro, because although Pulse isn't perfect, on Mandriva 2010 running KDE4, it's nowhere near as bad as the problems you seem to be having. I have a mobo soundcard and a USB Soundblaster and I can choose between them with ease using Pulse. (Sometimes when I start playing a movie/ TV episode I lose the stream and have to start again.) To be fair I'm not sure what lag you're talking about and that may be with an app I don't use.

I do think Sander has a point that a lot of people are unhappy because they have to learn something (slightly) new with KDE4; it *was* a pile of steaming excrement a year or so ago, but I don't really find that big a difference any more in how I work with it. My little business is almost exclusively running Mandriva KDE4 machines now. (I have one 2008.1 machine left.) I'd be interested to know what isn't working for people.

dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
1:46 PM EST
DiBosco --

I don't know what TC is talking about, either, but I do know that she has built a Linux based recording studio and does serious audio work. Latencies would be a major problem for her, though I suspect she does all that stuff with purpose-build machines and JACK.
DiBosco

Jan 05, 2010
2:09 PM EST
In which case, Dino, latency would be a huge issue. It's horrible playing something and having a delay of fractions of a second, let alone two seconds.

I'm interested to know what program you're using and how well it works, TC. (Sound card issues aside.) You might find some help with issue you have at linuxmusicians.com.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
2:44 PM EST
DB -

Can't say for sure what TC is using, but she was writing a book called "Build a Digital Recording Studio With Audacity", which might be a clue!
tuxchick

Jan 05, 2010
2:55 PM EST
DiBosco, it seems the problems I already commented on aren't making an impression, and somehow you got the idea I only use a single distro, an amazingly defective one, and everything will be happy with a distro change. I know I ramble on too long, but I'm pretty sure I didn't say those things.

The article is about 'dethroning Microsoft'. While I don't particularly care about that, the folks who do are going to need something better than 'Linux is somewhat less sucky'.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
3:01 PM EST
Yowsah missy chickie --

Kind of strange to have interlopers saying "linux isn't for you" to folks who've been using it for as long as you and I have.

For that matter --

Maybe they should be more aware of history, the kind they would have if they were sitting in a room with Linus as he explained how the desktop was the next great frontier on the quest for world domination.

Desktops are harder than servers, and a big part of that is those darned users. Developers who can't grasp that fact should not call themselves developers. They are, at best, codemonkeys.
bigg

Jan 05, 2010
3:18 PM EST
@dino

If Linux doesn't do what you need, then it doesn't do what you need, even if you've been using Linux for 15 years.

Obviously Linux doesn't work for what Carla needs to do. It is rational for her to put it aside and use Mac or Windows. It's not right for everybody, in the same way that it would be insane to put together a cluster of 20 Macs.
DiBosco

Jan 05, 2010
3:21 PM EST
Wow, TC, sorry for getting the wrong end of the stick and trying to help!

If you can afford it, I know that Logic works well on the Mac. I don't like it (because I hate digital audio) but my friend runs it in our little studio and he gets on well with it.
herzeleid

Jan 05, 2010
3:27 PM EST
I know, jumping in late, but another vote for linux continually improving - sure there are some regressions, but the result is a net win - case in point: the xorg intel driver mess that manifested itself in distros like ubuntu 9.04 and its contemporaries. it made desktop linux all but unusable for those with intel video. Now in ubuntu 9.10 and distros of a similar release date, intel video is better and more capable than ever. After I first installed karmic and saw how well it handled 3D, I could have sworn somebody replaced my intel video with an nvida and proprietary drivers.

Compared to my linux experience of 3 years ago, wireless is a breeze, driver issues (on all the hardware I own) are nonexistent. There are macs in my house - my wife and daughters love them, and I don't mind OSX either - but I still prefer linux.

That said, I have to agree that the kde folks shot themselves in the foot. kde 3.x was the overwhelming favorite DE among linux users based on all the surveys I'd seen. Then came the massive hype about kde 4 that got everyone excited, thinking it would be like kde 3.5, but better, and what a bitter disappointment that turned out to be. kde 4.0 was a bad joke. Even now, kde 4.3 is not the functional equivalent of kde 3.5.10 - Along with most other kde users, I left. Luckily gnome had shaped up sufficiently to be a usable desktop by then.

I'm secretly waiting for e17 though. One of these days....
tracyanne

Jan 05, 2010
3:38 PM EST
The thing is Pulse is cr@p (whatever distribution you use), and like KDE4 (which is also cr@p whatever distribution you use, just less sucky on some than on others) it's been forced upon us, by arrogant people who assume that we all want to sacrifice functionality workflow and general productivity while they get it right.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
3:58 PM EST
herzeleid --

Hmmmm. Enlightenment. That's a beast I haven't visited in a loooooooong time. Remember it being pretty but not especially performant. Hardware's come a loooong way since then....

I wonder.
gus3

Jan 05, 2010
4:03 PM EST
@bigg:

Quoting:Obviously Linux doesn't work for what Carla needs to do.
The problem for TC isn't "Linux", or even "GNU/Linux" for the pedants. The problem is a single audio stack.

Would you trade in a car just because you got a flat tire? It seems to me that's what you're suggesting TC do.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
4:22 PM EST
I think some folks are missing the theme.

If you'd been using the linux desktop in the last millenium/century, I think you'd be pretty disappointed at the current state of things.

Ten years ago, things were hopping. It really seemed reasonable that Microsoft would fear the FOSS desktop.

But then, you get little things like stripping out asoundconf because, well, because somebody just plain wanted to. And, of course, the KDE team deciding that the world really needs a lot more GNOME, XFCE, Fluxbos, etc users.
DiBosco

Jan 05, 2010
5:06 PM EST
Tracyanne, KDE4 is *not* cr@p. Maybe it's missing some features of KDE3.5, but it is categorically not cr@p. It hasn't been forced on you by anyone, you are quite at liberty (unlike with other OSes) to go and use a different desktop environment.

From what I understand the KDE devs had little choice but to change because Trolltech were changing to Qt4. It's completely unfair to call these people arrogant when a lot of them put in time free of charge and the whole organisation isn't exactly overflowing with money. Maybe if you actually worked with it for a few weeks rather than basing your experience on the beta version of a year or so ago you'd find - as I have done by gradually using it more and more and getting used to it - that it's actually pretty neat.

I would quite happily admit that some of its functions are not as good as 3.5, but when you consider just how much it's improved it doesn't take a big leap of faith to see that in another year's time it'll be spot on.

Also, my experience of Pulse audio is not one that would suggest it is cr@p. It's not perfect, but it works for me with only the occasional glitch.
gus3

Jan 05, 2010
5:33 PM EST
@dino:

Quoting:Ten years ago, things were hopping. It really seemed reasonable that Microsoft would fear the FOSS desktop.
I don't see where that has changed. Viz. the public bullying of Asus, and the subsequent "p-ss off" messages from other netbook makers to Microsoft.

The harder M$ tries to catch up, the farther behind they fall.
herzeleid

Jan 05, 2010
5:35 PM EST
@DiBosco -

If they would have just refactored the kde 3.5 kode and ported it to qt4, it would have been a much smoother transition and they would not have suffered the mass defection of all but the most diehard kde user base.

And pulse is fine for the nomal use case, but in situations where low latency, high performance audio is needed it fall down - not only for applications like music recording but even in typical 3D FPS games like openarena. It's not good for those folks - and they are out there.

There is a low latency audio stack (jack et al), and I really have to wonder why that's not the default.

@Dino - e17 is not all that demanding on hardware anymore - worth a look.
dinotrac

Jan 05, 2010
6:30 PM EST
gus3 -

Hmmm. The most damning answer to "What's changed" in this case is "not much".

That momentum, it appears, was an illusion, or, perhaps, a bright star doomed to go nova and die out young.
tracyanne

Jan 05, 2010
6:56 PM EST
@DiBosco

I try Mandriva and Kubuntu, mostly, and any other KDE4 distro that I find, on a regular basis. So far none of them have worked particularly well on any hardware I have available. Either it won't install on hardware that Ubuntu (GNOME) runs quite happilly on - Kubuntu certainly won't) . Or it runs like a dog with one leg.

I'd stick with KDE4 for an extended period of time, if it actually gave me even a half decent user experience.

I remeber be really excited about KDE4 when it was originally announced and all the great ideas that were announced, and being so incredibly disappointed when it was released. I continue to be disappointed.

As far as I'm concerned KDE4 is an Epic FAIL.
DiBosco

Jan 05, 2010
7:37 PM EST
@TA, I repeat my question about what doesn't work? (This is not sarcasm, it's a genuine question.) I've installed it on a few computers now and have no great issues (with the latest release). I completely agree that previously it was poor, but I just think now it's actually pretty good. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, KDE4 is not so far from being every bit as good as 3.5.

@herveleid, wasn't the case with just doing a 3.5 to Qt4 conversion that it wouldn't be future proof? (I think that's what I read.) They'd then have to redo it from scratch in the future anyway, so it made no sense to do two iterations. I'm not saying that is definitely right, it's just what I understand.

As far as pulse being fine for normal use, but not things like recording studio use, then for the moment, people will have to use a Mac (or Windows). If there were people out there paying loads of money for these apps to get developed I'm sure it would happen, but it's not. So people need to fork out some money for it to be developed faster or be patient until Linux gets there.
tracyanne

Jan 05, 2010
8:07 PM EST
@DiBosco.. um... I've already told you

Quoting:So far none of them have worked particularly well on any hardware I have available. Either it won't install on hardware that Ubuntu (GNOME) runs quite happilly on - Kubuntu certainly won't) . Or it runs like a dog with one leg.


I think that is pretty clear

I wouldn't know if anything is missing, I never get that far. Mandriva is about the best of them, but once again it's horribly sluggish on hardware that runs Ubuntu quite happily.
jdixon

Jan 05, 2010
8:11 PM EST
DiBosco, TA has made a number of posts over a number of months detailing what doesn't work with KDE4. The archives are there for your perusal. Simply search for KDE4 and tracyanne.
herzeleid

Jan 05, 2010
9:51 PM EST
DiBoco said
Quoting: As far as pulse being fine for normal use, but not things like recording studio use, then for the moment, people will have to use a Mac (or Windows).
LOL windoze? Why, is it particularly well suited to realtime use? I don't think so. But clever app writers have reinvented the wheel to ge around microsofts various shortcomings well enough.

In any case, it makes no sense for a linux user to downgrade to windoze to do multimedia - a linux user would just have to go for a low latency multimedia oriented disto like ubuntu studio with a realtime kernel. The problem is, that sort of information should not be obscure, it should be readily available to linux newcomers. and I'd really love to see the distros support this sort of thing. I think linux could have a nice niche in multimedia if the vendors would get it together and offer decent support for it.
gus3

Jan 05, 2010
10:07 PM EST
Quoting:a linux user would just have to go for a low latency multimedia oriented disto like ubuntu studio
Or 64Studio, which is just fine for my (admittedly low-end) purposes: transferring old cassettes before the format falls into total disuse.

It already happened once, with my photo album notes on 5-1/4 inch floppies, in GCR that PC floppy drives can't read--they use MFM instead. I have to do what I can to make sure I don't lose even more of my life story to obsolescence.
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 05, 2010
11:55 PM EST
Question: Do Debian Squeeze and Sid, and Slackware 13.0 install PulseAudio by default?

Second question: Can some form of Jack audio benefit the general Linux desktop and save us from PulseAudio?
Sander_Marechal

Jan 06, 2010
2:50 AM EST
Quoting:Question: Do Debian Squeeze and Sid, and Slackware 13.0 install PulseAudio by default?


Debian Squeeze does not as far as I can tell. But the only Squeeze box I have does not have the full Desktop stack (it's a server), though it does have the multimedia stack. It's possible that the full desktop task does install PulseAudio.
gus3

Jan 06, 2010
3:09 AM EST
I see no evidence of PulseAudio in stock Slackware 13. However, Gnome SlackBuild (GSB) does supply it.
DiBosco

Jan 06, 2010
4:47 AM EST
@ TA, yes, you did say that, but I thought you were saying apps and desktop things didn't work. It wasn't clear to me at first what you were meaning.

@jdixon, I've been off lxer for a few months, so haven't seen what TA posts. My findings different starkly from hers in the most up-to-date release. (My findings are the same as hers in older releases.)

@herzeleid, AFAIK, programs like Cubase use PCI cards that do the real time processing and then really just use the PC as a GUI and storage space. It works fine on Windows, I know people using it. Logic used to work that way, I am pretty sure (until Apple bought it out and ditched support for it on Windows). So, yes, Windows is probably an option if you can't afford a Mac. Your point about going for a different Linux distribution (which is what I essentially suggested as well) was shot down in flames by Carla.

Your point about vendors getting together and adding support is, of course, spot on. However, whenever I've contacted vendors about stuff like this (especially photographic software) they've just said "There's no market for it" or "Linux users want everything for free".

What a lot of Linux users *do* want is open and you won't get people like Steinberg, Apple (with Logic) or Pro Tools making their apps open source.

Your point about the different kernel, I think, is spot on. I remember about going to a training day with Montavista and they were saying that it's not possible to use a standard Linux kernel for real time stuff because you could get the kernel demanding time for way longer than would be practical for a real time app and have your application fail. This goes back to why you have to have external cards or Firewire interface systems and a Mac or Windows machine. Can Macs really do it real time without external hardware? Honestly, I don't know, but I woulnd't be surprised if it can't.
dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
8:37 AM EST
No, Macs can't do "real" real time any more than Linux or Windows can, but...

for many things, "real" real time isn't needed. Audio recording is almost an exception because the ear is very sensitive to such things, but Linux with a low-latency kernel does pretty well. I know mac does pretty well, but I don't know why. Ditto for Windows. Windows and Mac are tuned for desktops, so that may cover all they need to be "close enough".
DiBosco

Jan 06, 2010
8:57 AM EST
Thanks for the clarification, dino. The issue with latency when recording is one of being put off when singing or playing your instrument. When you're recording, you're listening to a mix of what's already been recorded and what you're playing or singing. If there's a delay between what's coming out of your mouth and what's in the headphones, it's impossible to get it right. You've maybe experienced similar things yourself when the spoken voice is delayed in headphones and how weird it is!

This is why there are external cards with some pretty hefty DSPs doing the real time processing off the PC on some (all?) professional systems. I think you can then get plugs-ins for things like compression, effects etc that can be done "off-line" at the computer's own pace without (further) degrading the sound.
dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
10:01 AM EST
DiBosco --

So far as I know, no true professional systems rely on the PC's CPU for that...but I'm a few years out of date.

Those DSP's, as I recall, were as much about quality and noise avoidance (the inside of a computer can be a nasty place and DAC has an analog signal on one side or the other) as latency.

At any rate, you'd be surprised at how well a modern pc and sound card can do these days.
herzeleid

Jan 06, 2010
1:49 PM EST
DiBosco -
Quoting:Your point about going for a different Linux distribution (which is what I essentially suggested as well) was shot down in flames by Carla.
On that subject, it may not actually be necessary to "change distro" per se - I decided to look into this last night, so I fired up the package manager on my backup karmic koala desktop and looked for ubuntu studio and realtime linux packages. It wasn't any trouble to select and install them, and a few minutes later I was up and running on the realtime kernel. I fired up openarena and it did seem snappier. I haven't seen any quirks or stability problems. I'll look into app and audio system tuning, cpu pinning and such when I get a chance, but for all I can see, it looks and acts just like what I was running before, only a bit snappier.
dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
1:58 PM EST
herzeid --

I don't know that Ubuntu offers a true real-time kernel so much as a low-latency one. As a practical matter, the difference is moot for the vast majority of uses and, for a desktop user, a low-latency kernel should definitely feel snappy as assort kernel calls are made interruptable.

I'm afraid kernel developers often fall prey to "big box" syndrome -- optimizing for big old bad old iron at the expense of desktop responsiveness.
Sander_Marechal

Jan 06, 2010
2:55 PM EST
Dino: Perhaps they're not optimising for desktop responsiveness but desktop performance. There's a big difference. just look at Win7. People will claim it's much faster than Vista. It's not. It's just more responsive. Actual benchmarks show it's in fact slower.
dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
3:11 PM EST
Sander -

Sorta yeah maybe...

On the desktop, responsiveness merges into performance in many ways. A non responsive desktop does not perform well, period. If you have numbers that say otherwise, you are measuring the wrong things.
herzeleid

Jan 06, 2010
3:19 PM EST
Yes, I do believe the ubuntu linux-rt kernel is soft realtime, but the latency is noticeably better than stock and it's quite suitable for multimedia and gaming.

All the hard realtime setups I've seen involve a stripped-down realtime kernel that runs the normal linux kernel as a background task - thus making it completely useless for running linux tasks in a low latency fashion, since the realtime kernel does not support the linux API, and the linux kernel, which runs as a background task, is not realtime.

The soft realtime approach may not offer the 100% guarantees of hard realtime, but it is far better for things like, you know, running actual linux applications.
dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
3:56 PM EST
herzeleid -

There's nothing at all wrong with soft realtime, and no implication of inferior performance relative to hard real-time.

The only difference between the two concepts is that hard real-time absolutely guarantees that a process will end in a given time. If it doesn't end on its own, it is terminated. Soft real-time will let it keep running, but may interrupt it.

As a practical matter, this means hard real-time remains performant under heavy loads, but may generate more errors because of terminated tasks, whereas soft real-time will let those tasks run to completion and bog just a hair because they hang around and must be managed. In some ways, the real-time system sounds worse, but, some applications -- including telephone switching are like trains and planes: if you miss the window, you've missed your opportunity. Better to kill the useless task than let it cause another one to slide.
hkwint

Jan 06, 2010
3:57 PM EST
What's interesting to note is that a few months ago I was almost afraid to criticize Linux because anyone who did was accused of 'joining the FUD-wagon' by ehr, well, guess who it was, or let me just tel you: It was Carla.

Things seems to have changed however, and it seems most people including myself are OK with bashing the Bazaar nowadays. So Carla, I'm glad you joined me. What I notice however, is this dissatisfaction is occurring in 'waves'. Sometimes - for example when I see my fat-PC boot in 35 seconds from sysbeep (3 sec after 'power on') to Firefox, I'm pretty impressed. Moreover because it isn't Ubuntu, it isn't even Upstart. But even with less developers, the system (OpenRC) just works!

Surely Linux is progressing, but not as fast as would be theoretically possible, and not as fast as we'd like. That's disappointing.

Apart from that, it's progressing in directions we might not like.

KDE4 is an example: As far as I understood the developers needed a bunch of new frameworks, but users don't care about the needs of devs. All they care about is loss of functionality and stability because of KDE4. Surely can't blame them.

Probably if the devs didn't migrate to KDE4, KDE would have become just a pile of unmaintainable cr@p like Windows, and it would have become harder and harder to add new functions. but KDE users don't care. That's why they are a user and not a dev after all.

So let's assume they didn't make KDE4 and kept on building on 3. Then the KDE users would blame the environment for not having enough new functionality, slow development, the environment becoming bloated, unresponsible, and finally full of unfixable bugs. Nobody mentions that, I notice. Ever. People never mention the new frameworks when discussing KDE4, they only discuss what's lost. Can't blame them, that's why they are users.

Whatever of the two choices (3 or 4) KDE would have made, people would always blame them. Just like the Gnome guys, people always blame them from 'hiding configuration options'. But if not, other people would blame Ubuntu for being "to hard to learn for grandma's". There are always people dissatisfied, even with the plethora of distro's, WM's and sound-systems available.

What I always enjoy is going to some open source developer meeting. Like FOSDEM: People don't bring their lawyers, don't bring their guns, and usually also don't bring a lot of money. But they do bring a spirit of progress. Maybe not in the way we like, maybe not in the direction we like, maybe not at full speed, but at least you get the idea something is happening.
jdixon

Jan 06, 2010
4:04 PM EST
> So let's assume they didn't make KDE4 and kept on building on 3...

Why assume that? The only thing wrong with KDE4 is that it wasn't ready for users when it was released. It's only in the past 3 months or so that it's become usable, and from the various reviews, it's still not quite up to the 3.5 standard. If it had just been labelled as alpha code when it was released, users who wanted stability and full functionality would have stayed away from it and no one would have minded.
tuxchick

Jan 06, 2010
4:09 PM EST
Well Hans, you got me-- I have flaws :) And you're right.
tracyanne

Jan 06, 2010
4:14 PM EST
@hk, the problem isn't KDE4, it's how it was forced upon KDE users.... that's why I'm not a KDE user now.

These days the majority of Linux users just want to get stuff done, they aren't devs, but consumers. The whole KDE4 development process would not have been any slower if KDE4 had not been made the default desktop by the major distributions, but instead made available as an optional replacement, or even secondary desktop option like Cononical does already with various remixes.

Simply making KDE4 the default desktop on Mandriva mens I am no longer a Mandriva user, as well as no longer a KDE user.



Change subject: I notice that my bittorrent threads are almost always maxed out on all the Ubuntu variations, while Mandriva is often idle. Interestingly today, though, Mandriva (KDE4) is 9 for 9 while Ubuntu is 8 for 14. Ubuntu studio is 12 for 13 and kubuntu is 7 for 7
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 06, 2010
4:18 PM EST
I'm not happy with the whole "if you complain about Linux, you're not worthy so go back to Windows/Mac" line of thinking.

My whole contention is that the Linux desktop is functional enough to be the primary desktop for a great many people.

With that popularity and usability comes — in my mind anyway — the responsibility of developers and maintainers not to break things so d@mn often.
dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
4:30 PM EST
Hans, jdix and TA, let me take a slightly (but only slightly) contrarian view:

The problem with KDE4 is, in fact, KDE 4 as well as its sorry state at rollout.

Far be it from me to argue with developers that the old code is a dead end. It happens -- though not nearly so often as developers would like to pretend.

What deserves some ire is that KDE developers don't seem to have made much effort to find out what was important to KDE users before they set out on their revolution. That's classic management myopia: Congratulations, KDE developers, you have joined the pointy-haired boss set.

The assumption seems to have been that they could do as they damned well pleased with KDE 4 because those silly old users still had KDE 3.5. More or less the same logic, now that I think about it, that the Mozilla folks applied WRT Netscape. That didn't work out so well, either.

I know that it is easier and one heck of a lot more fun just to start with a clean sheet and pour your personal brilliance into something. We all know that, but...

that's the beauty of new projects. You can do that. Established projects with large user bases may offer more prestige points to developers, but they impose responsibilities, too. That prestige comes at a price and the KDE folks didn't want to pay it.

To their credit, they seem to be doing a great job of climbing out of the fiasco abyss and building something that really will be special, but...

I wonder how Firefox would be doing now if it hadn 't come out after Internet Explorer had already claimed more than 90% of the browser share? I wonder how much easier web development would be, as in -- oh, yeah, write to standards and you'll be golden.











dinotrac

Jan 06, 2010
4:31 PM EST
Steve --

Darn you. Darn you all to heck.

You said exactly what I said. A trifle more efficiently.

OK -- that's one monster trifle.
bigg

Jan 06, 2010
5:06 PM EST
> I'm not happy with the whole "if you complain about Linux, you're not worthy so go back to Windows/Mac" line of thinking.

I don't think anyone here is saying that. With FOSS of all stripes you have basically two choices: either fix it yourself (with your time or money), or don't use it. That's one more choice than you have with non-free software. Sure, you can complain, but that doesn't make the software work, and rarely does it convince anyone else to make the software work.
gus3

Jan 06, 2010
5:39 PM EST
Quoting:I'm not happy with the whole "if you complain about Linux, you're not worthy so go back to Windows/Mac" line of thinking.
Neither am I. In fact, I see Linux as the justification of the right to complain, because with Linux I am free to make it better, or provide the resources--which might be simply motivation--for someone else to make it better. Windows and Mac users are allowed to complain, but they have no real expectation that their words will have any effect.
Steven_Rosenber

Jan 06, 2010
6:04 PM EST
Quoting:With FOSS of all stripes you have basically two choices: either fix it yourself (with your time or money), or don't use it. That's one more choice than you have with non-free software. Sure, you can complain, but that doesn't make the software work, and rarely does it convince anyone else to make the software work.


I disagree. Microsoft works hard to make "developers, developers, developers!!" some kind of mantra, but if developers were all that important, a sweat-dripping Ballmer wouldn't have to be saying it.

FOSS is a developer-centric culture, and I recognize that. And one of my "favorite" projects, OpenBSD (bet you're all tired of me mentioning it; I agree) makes no bones about developers making its world go 'round. OpenBSD openly says (and I'm paraphrasing), "We code it for ourselves; use it if you wish and don't complain; or don't use it — we don't care." (At least they're being up-front and honest about it.)

Linux, GNOME, KDE, OpenOffice, Ubuntu, etc., as far as I can tell, don't abide by adeveloper-is-king, user-is-serf philosophy. At least not outwardly.

Users who aren't developers should be sought after, and a lack of knowledge of, or facility in, C (plain, ++ or even the dreaded #), Python, packaging, etc., shouldn't be a litmus test for being unhappy with either specific features on the FOSS desktop, or the general direction of one project or other.

If you happen to be a developer, that's great. But trying to turn every user into a developer (or aiming only for developer- and fanboy-types) is a sure way to keep Linux and all the projects atop it in the hobbyist realm.

I can't remember which distros Tuxchick is calling out. My personal beef is with Ubuntu. It calls itself "Linux for human beings." It's run by a for-profit company. It has great ambition on the desktop. But it needs to break out of the fanboy ghetto. Not breaking things, not jumping on every "innovation" upstream (especially in Xorg) and both making the LTS more palatable and promoting it more would go a long way toward making the situation better. (A new user requesting a CD through ShipIt, or buying 5 of them for a very, very reasonable price through the Ubuntu Store can't even get the LTS right now. It's 9.10 or 9.04 only.)

As always, some people live a charmed life and have hardware that never chokes on an update.

I'm not one of those. Having to fight with the system to get audio, video and networking flowing properly and then to continually fight to keep them working is just wrong. Not knowing exactly what hardware is supported in the Linux kernel (or where to find that information) in any given release is wrong.

What is the solution? In my view, the only way out of this is for hardware manufacturers to start taking responsibility for their own bits and making sure that everything they make is supported in the Linux kernel, preferably with open-source code.

If OEMs made a practice of preloading Linux and making sure it worked, we theoretically would all benefit.
hkwint

Jan 07, 2010
4:17 AM EST
Like TA says:

Understanding your users is a large portion of 'dethroning MS' I suggest. Probably what KDE and many distro's lack is good user surveys / market research, and the determination to use the results of any user surveys. Otherwise the distro's wouldn't have made KDE4 the primary DE.

Lawyers, gus and money are not going to help the FOSS-movement if they don't listen to their own users. I guess market research and understanding a users mind is what makes Apple more succesful than most FOSS-software.
tracyanne

Jan 07, 2010
6:35 AM EST
Quoting:I guess market research and understanding a users mind is what makes Apple more succesful than most FOSS-software.


bingo.
dinotrac

Jan 07, 2010
8:00 AM EST
WRT Apple:

Great example, given that Apple is known as one of the most innovative companies in the industry, certainly most imitated.

Apple proves that user awareness is not a constraint. Just look at the OS! Windows has progressed from 16 bit Intel to 32 bit Intel to (lately and finally) 64 bit AMD/Intel. Macs have gone from Motorola to Power to Intel. They've gone from Apple-grown OS to one founded on BSD. Criminies!! That doesn't even get to user friendliness.

Or iPods or iPhones.

For a non-Apple example, look at the huge success of the WII gaming console, the least powerful of the three major gaming systems, but the one that most successfully engages the users.

Innovation and great results do not require arrogance and intellectual laziness. That is the way to Zunes and XBoxes. Servicable, maybe even shiny and cool in a way, but not, to borrow a Jobsism, insanely great.





TxtEdMacs

Jan 07, 2010
10:23 AM EST
hk,

Quoting:Lawyers, gus and money are not going to help the FOSS-movement [...]
Freudian slip?

Well gus is REALLY not so bad, once you get to know him particularly the third iteration.

YBT
gus3

Jan 07, 2010
2:49 PM EST
Don't worry, I'm no threat to anyone at the moment. I'm snowed in.
dinotrac

Jan 07, 2010
2:54 PM EST
gus3 --

My empathies. We are also snowed in.

On the positive side, it looks like we will avoid major global warming events that could drag our termperatures down.
hkwint

Jan 07, 2010
9:28 PM EST
gus: "Anti-FLOSS counterfeiting / open source piracy prevention competition stimulating genuine intelligent innovation empowerment design cadence" snow-training in Alaska, uh? Sure you're no threat? Be sure to great the Snow Leopard on our behalves.

Txt: Told 'ya, gus is with the Snow Leopards now; he's lost for FLOSS for eternity - and beyond. Or at least until the snow melts (when the earth moves again?) and the Leopard hides.

Hey, speakin' snow and stuff: You know what's funny about the city where I live? If there's 5cm / two inches of snow they consider it too dangerous to collect garbage. Because the snow melts, then freezes again, and then all the roads are speed skating lanes - especially funny to ride with a car with summer-tires and only 2,3mm (0.1inch) of profile. And then our stupid governmen is almost out of salt, while there are plenty of salt mines in this country. Considering the rising sea levels you suppose they would use some salt water from the sea to clean the streets instead (hell yeah, freakin' good idea!), but they're too lame to do even just that.

However, with 40 degrees below zero (don't ask me how much Fahrenheit), cities like Moscow still function. And most of the times in the US too - I believe, because out there they're used to real winters. So I guess it's really bad over there. Maybe make a nice snowman and send us some pictures? And drink a hot choco on my behalf.
azerthoth

Jan 07, 2010
9:58 PM EST
-40c == -40f, it's the crossover point.
dinotrac

Jan 07, 2010
10:04 PM EST
Hans:

Hot choco accomplished. Pictures, not. Night here.
gus3

Jan 07, 2010
10:04 PM EST
@hans:

December 27, 1983, I was in Atlanta, during the once-every-ten-years snowstorm. Well, they called it a "storm"; we called it "nothing to worry about, just go a bit slower." That's why we were the only ones who drove to McDonald's that morning. Everyone else who was there, lived within walking distance, because there's no reason to prepare for weather that comes only once every ten years. (This current weather is some deja-vu of that cold snap.)

Ditto the middle of February, 2004, in west Texas, except that was ice. The sheriff ordered all non-essential personnel off the roads. I was unimpressed, until I got out of the car and saw the icicles on the radio antenna.

BTW, 40 degs below zero is the same on both scales.... but maybe you were simply making a joke.
dinotrac

Jan 08, 2010
12:17 AM EST
Gus3 --

Lovely memories of Texas ice storms and commuting to work.

Lots of Country Cadillacs (know to many as pick 'em up trucks) off the side of the road, as well as the forerunners of today's SUVs driven by people who didn't understand that:

1. All vehicles have four wheel brakes, which are what stop you, so 4WD don't buy you a thing in the come to a stop department, and

2. 4 * 0 is 0, as in close enough to the coefficient of friction on glare ice that it should get your attention.
hkwint

Jan 08, 2010
4:29 PM EST
No, I was not joking, I was too lazy to type

Ctrl+L, g -40C in F

Now I did, and Google agrees.

BTW when building dykes, it's usual to prepare for once in three centuries storms, at least in my country (US is to follow I believe, I think their target is once in a century now). But when collecting salt, it isn't usual to collect for once in thirty year snow, like in my country this winter. So their new plan is to shut down some highways this weekend, and to mine for some new salt. After they mined the new salt, the people living above the salt will live 5mm lower for the rest of their lives. And still no legendary Elfstedentocht (11-city tour, the world's largest and longest speed skating competition and leisure skating tour only taking place if the ice is thick enough). Well, we'll wait, this weekend will bring more snow over here they tell. I have only 800gr. of salt left, maybe it's a nice investment...
tracyanne

Jan 08, 2010
5:11 PM EST
Quoting:1. All vehicles have four wheel brakes, which are what stop you, so 4WD don't buy you a thing in the come to a stop department,


Depends. On a manual you get engine braking, very useful in marginal traction conditions. Of course most people these days only know how to use the brakes, and or drive automatics.
softwarejanitor

Jan 08, 2010
5:17 PM EST
@tracyanne You can actually do engine braking with an automatic if you are willing to move the lever down from D.
bigg

Jan 08, 2010
5:35 PM EST
I don't know if it is engine braking, but you should always put an automatic in neutral when trying to stop on ice.
number6x

Jan 08, 2010
5:52 PM EST
Some new automatics have traction control systems that adjust the transmission and engine timing to allow better control on ice. The timing changes are to prevent a stall when the transmission changes are made.

putting the car in neutral would probably not be helpful in these cases.

It really depends on the car.

Learning to drive as a youth in Chicago with rear wheel drive V8's has helped in all kinds of icy conditions. Front wheel drive and a manual transmission works best for me in bad weather.

Except when I lived in Cincinnati and there were ice storms. Cincinnati is all hills and has fewer than 30 square feet of flat surface. Cars that were standing still would start sliding downhill there!

Whee!
gus3

Jan 08, 2010
5:55 PM EST
@bigg:

That is not engine braking; it is merely disconnecting nearly-constant engine drag from the wheels. They can spin much more freely, so if you over-brake, and start to skid, you can let off the brakes and increase the odds of regaining traction.

However, if you're in a front-wheel drive vehicle (like my car) and you start to fish-tail, you actually want to accelerate. The point is to speed up the front end, and keep it in front of the back end.

It's all basic physics, but most people never connect what they learned in school to reality, even after they've wrecked.
jacog

Jan 13, 2010
10:18 AM EST
Somewhat related, I found this on Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth series of books' web site. He's been writing these novels on Linux since about 2002.

Quoting:And the computer. T M and Michelle Chandrasekhar very nicely sent me disks with Ubuntu and Kubuntu 9.10, and I installed Kubuntu. Sigh. This is supposed to be one of the sharpest distributions of the Linux operating system, but it turned out to be a monster. It wiped out my modem connection; I can no longer go online. Oh, there are instructions for how to get back online. They begin by telling me to go online and download the program I need to do it. I kid you not; it's Catch 22. Apparently no one at Ubuntu ever actually tried to do it via dial-up on a new machine. Then I could not get my keyboard. I use the original Dvorak, but the computer folk randomly moved the punctuation around so that for example my “don't” comes out “don;t.” So I substitute my keyboard variant and use that. What we do is put it in place of the Denmark keyboard, because that abbreviates Dk, which then stands for Dvorak. But Kubuntu has hidden the keyboard files somewhere inaccessible to we can't access them, and I am stuck using the wrong punctuation, then painstakingly correcting it “by hand,” as I did when editing this column. Obviously I won't be typing a novel that way. Kubuntu also has no games. They surely existed, but again, there is no way to access them. I like to play the card game “Grandfather” to unwind. Now I can't unwind, as perhaps the ire of this paragraph shows. I have several macros I like to set up and use, such as for Date, Time, and the degree symbol. But when I try to assign a macro to a key, such as control D for Date, Kubuntu intercepts with a message that I need Java to do that, then locks up my system including the keyboard, which I have to crash and reset to get out of. Again, my patience with this sort of thing is limited. Nobody in Kubuntu has tried to post a macro? A prior edition of Kubuntu I used several years back did not have that problem: why does it suddenly need Java, and why won't it wait for me to try to get it? And I normally back up my material several times a day, because when I didn't, my system crashed and cost me irreplaceable material. But Kubuntu stopped letting me backup to my disk, claiming it was read-only. So I went to another disk and it worked several times, then locked up similarly. I had to go to a third disk. Then another day it started allowing me to use the first disk, a few times, before it locked up again. But you can see how I am loath to use a program that picks and chooses when it will let me back up. There are lesser nuisances, such as its occasional refusal to let me copy in a file to a particular directory, and its refusal to hold my defaults in the file handler Konqueror, and a very slow Open File facility in OpenOffice that I timed at two minutes and six seconds to open just one file. There are features I like, and I think it could be a nice system. But as it stands, it's a nest of scorpions, not at all suitable for serious use by a non-geek. Yes, we bought huge Ubuntu manuals; no, they didn't help. I expect to try Ubuntu next, to see if it has similar problems: if it does, I'll have to return to my years-old Xandros, which at least does work, if creakily. Meanwhile I had to do the Survey update on my wife's Windows computer. I believe I have remarked before on the folly of Open Source driving serious users back to Microsoft. I suspect I have fans at Microsoft who are seriously entertained observing my efforts to flee their corral.
- http://www.hipiers.com/newsletter.html
jdixon

Jan 13, 2010
10:37 AM EST
> if you're in a front-wheel drive vehicle (like my car) and you start to fish-tail, you actually want to accelerate.

I should note that I've discovered the hard way that this is correct. :( That was several years ago, and I'll hopefully handle it better if it ever happens again.
Bob_Robertson

Jan 13, 2010
11:38 AM EST
Oh darn, past the KDE4-bashing stage and into the weather. I'm too late.

...

Naa, I'll do it anyway. :^)

I've had one single "problem" remaining with KDE3 (Debian Lenny) while KDE4 has its time to mellow in the cask, as it were. The "new" design of FreeTalkLive.com has mouse-over pull-down menues that are obviously using some esoteric spacing system since my fonts are set rather large. Basically, the text doesn't fit inside their yellow graphical background pop-ups. It makes the secondary mouse-over pop-ups fail.

It's "new" HTML code, of whatever "new" "standards" have come up since Konqueror 3.5.9 was released. Firefox/Iceweasel doesn't have the problem, neither does Konq in KDE4 (so I'm told).

That's it. Not much of a loss, really. The web weenie who said "it ain't broken" blamed the problem on my "ancient, stale code".

I figure when Squeeze goes stable I might do the upgrade. That may be enough time. Or I'll just wait until I have a reason to make the change, since everything "seems" to be working well enough at this point. It would be nice if Audacious worked again, I dunno why that stopped working, but one day it just refused to play anything and all the reinstalling didn't make it work again. Funny. XINE suffices.

The Linux kernel developers seem to "get it" where users are concerned. What I mean is, the internal APIs and stacks and mechanisms and such change radically and constantly. Yet binaries compiled 10 years ago still run, because the outside interface is like a hard shell.

If KDE4's radically changed underpinnings were implemented, and applications changed over to them as they became ready, I don't think the transition would have been such a problem. As mentioned above, 4.0 was ALPHA code, and aught to have been treated as such. Changes to libraries happen all the time, with multiple versions existing side by side, this is not an unknown or unexplored region of development. Or maybe I'm spoiled after using Debian Sid for so many years.

Even if that is exactly what did happen, and I could have used KDE3 applications after KDE4 was installed, I couldn't tell because the KDE4 switch was presented as all-or-nothing-and-be-happy-about-it. My dislike of the new menu style was sufficient to annoy people in ways I haven't seen outside of religious arguments. Stuff like K3B which I use constantly didn't even exist in 4-land at the start, jumping to 4 would have been a huge step backwards.

I remember mentioning that I would use XFCE at the time if KDE4 were required, I was accused of pushing "your preferred desktop". Huh? I thought I preferred KDE3. Dino said that is exactly what he did earlier in this thread, and no one even batted an eye. Good! I'm very pleased to see people have gotten over the evangelism and moved on to finding out what works.

I've recommended Mac and Windows to people for whom those systems would make better tools. Linux is just the default, and it works for the huge majority of people who just need the default regardless of whether it's Linux, Mac or Win.

You know, Users.

I'm not a developer, I'm a network geek. My work involves finding pieces that work together to meet specific needs and goals, not building the pieces. I can't use what doesn't work.

If I had a choice, I'd be driving with a standard transmission, too. No snow here, just a little ice in the shadows. The entire rest of the country seems to be having fun this year, the "southern coastal plain" has the heating bills without all that fun. Bummer. My kid was really looking forward to even just a little snow.

This sun makes me long for the money to build a decent solar house, though. Wow! What a difference from living further north. I can go out below freezing in a black t-shirt and feel warm, just from the radiant energy of the sun. Can't say that about Massachusetts.
hkwint

Jan 13, 2010
5:32 PM EST
This is becoming a mess, but nah, I'll do it anyway:

jacog, I surely agree just 'configuring' a keyboard is one of the greatest messes in whole Linux. I have been looking into this issue as of lately, and the results are truly astonishing. I'd say keyboard in Linux is FUBAR.

For example, there's the kernel keymap which maps scancodes to keycodes for the console, but it's totally separated from Xorg. So even when your keyboard works fine in the console, it's probable that it doesn't work in X.

X has Xevents I believe. I use xkeycaps to do the mappings. The xkeycaps developer explains somewhere how all this things work, and after most readers went insane, he tells us "Looks unnecessary complex to you? Well, that's because it is!". Also, in the part about 'scancodes' being the same to the 'keycodes' but only when their number is below 1024 or so, some writer wrote: "You may ask why. Basically because Linus decided so".

For example, Alt can have modifiers, Shift can't, and more nonsense like that. I have been struggeling 20 minutes per month for 10 consecutive months (after 20 minutes I give up, after a month I think: This _HAS_ to work!) to make my euro sign work. But now I have a different keyboard, and like you guessed: It stopped working. Also, it took me 6 consecutive months about 20 minutes per month to make deadkeys work again.

After xkeycaps - a program made in the 90's, nothing new appeared to re-map single keys.

And then there's also termcap, once I tried to look into it but I became nauseous and had to stop to grab some wodka just to calm down.

All this is needlessly complicated because of backwards compatibility. Because of several decades of incompatible 'proprietary standard' keyboards, we suffer nowadays.

Nowadays I have a very rare keyboard. 'scancode' (which doesn't work in X) can only map two 'signals' (one escape sequence + one signal) to a keycode. However, my keyboard is so 'rare' it sends four signals at once. Linux can't handle such 'rare' behaviour by design, it seems. When I hit those keys in Linux, four actions at the same time are performed by Linux / Xorg / WMaker: Skip to another window, kill one, and hit tab or something like that.

Then I start Windows in VirtualBox, in Linux. And it just freakin' works!

So what will it take for Linux / OS to dethrone Microsoft? Well, maybe start by breaking down the pile of cr@p called 'four decades of backwards compatibility for medieval keyboards nobody uses' for _any_ desktop UNIX.

Bob: The snow this year on the whole northern hemisphere (including the beaches in Spain!) is caused by a 'lack of solar activity' which occurs every 11 years. So if your kid want to seem some real snow, you should leave now heading north (or heck, maybe head east to Spain) or wait until your kid might not be a kid anymore. Or just go to Dubai, there's always snow in Dubai.

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