Linux optimize

Multimedia: A Linux Achilles' heel

Jack Wallen takes on one of the problems with Linux as a desktop environment -- multimedia. His most recent experiences collide with his past to conclude the Linux desktop does have an Achilles' heel.

Every time I say something negative about Linux I feel like I should preface it by offering up some grand sweeping adoration for both the operating system and the world-wide collection of developers that work tirelessly on the development of the platform. So, consider this my proclamation of adoration. But...

There's always a 'but'.

Linux, as a desktop solution, has some issues -- specifically in the audio/video arena. Let me give you the reasons why I arrived at this statement.

Recently I had to switch from my favorite desktop (Bodhi Linux) to Linux Mint. Why? I do a weekly podcast and every Saturday morning I found myself struggling to get Audacity to recognize my Blue Yeti Microphone. The problem, it turns out, was not Bodhi's fault, but Pulseaudio. If I killed the Pulseaudio daemon I could use my mic. The caveat to that was Banshee couldn't play back music without the Pulseaudio daemon running. So if I needed to play back something in Banshee (say to search for appropriate music to include in the podcast) I would have to start the Pulseaudio daemon and then kill it again if I had to re-record.

Another issue was Flash. I had a choice: I could play a flash-drive website or Banshee -- but not both. If I went to a site that used Flash, Banshee would stop playing back until I closed out that page.

So to avoid having those issues, I decided to give Mint a try as my go-to distribution. As soon as I had it installed on another machine I had the Yeti, Flash, and Banshee working together. But all was not lovely music. There was another issue -- the Media Player Extension (an extension that displayed information about what is being played in the notification area) caused the CPU to spike and the window manager to freeze. This issue was a much simpler fix -- just disable the Media Player extension in the Advanced Settings tool. Once that was disabled, the issue went away. Easy fix, sure, but one that shouldn't be necessary. The media player extension is a nice addition to the desktop and should be available. But, for anyone looking to make Linux Mint 12 their desktop of choice, I highly recommend disabling that extension until the issue is resolved. Left enabled, you will find yourself Ctrl-Alt-Backspacing frequently.

I could go back through my nearly three hundred open source blog posts and find a number of posts addressing this issue. Multimedia has been an Achilles' heel for Linux for some time. Either media formats didn't play, played poorly, or caused conflicts with other applications or files. Of course for many of us reading this blog, the solution is little more than a log file read or Google search away. But for the average user, this is not an option. The average user doesn't want to have to spend time figuring out why their mic or audio player doesn't work -- they just want it to work out of the box. And those are the users the Linux community MUST be targeting. It's time to stop preaching to the choir and to the masses. But there's no way the masses will hear the sermon if their audio players aren't working.

Linux is so very close to being a desktop anyone can use. If the developers can smooth out these little rough edges, they'll nail it. Let's face it -- we are a multimedia heavy world. Across the board, PC users depend upon media and that dependency will only continue to grow. It's time for the developers to make a concerted effort to put to bed these issues so the Linux desktop can reach newer and greater heights.

What has been your multimedia experience with Linux? Do you have a song to sing about this issue? If so, share it in the comments. Let's sing it out loud enough so the developers can see that this is in fact an issue that needs to take some semblance of priority.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

106 comments
pnwright
pnwright

Ubuntu Studio, now updated to 13.04 bills itself as "for creative humans" and has lots of content creation packages already on board and tested together. Only minor issues so far; I have had far fewer issues with Ubuntu in the year I have been using it than with Windows, even though I have been a Windows user since DOS all the way through 7. Your milage may vary, but I do video, some audio (of course) and lots of art photo stuff using Gimp, so have had ample exposure to potential difficulty. Just remember to knock wood when you start. Grins Pete

rpollard
rpollard

There are more issues that plague Linux than just media related. For example, I had to re-install Nvidia drivers every time a kernel updated. I know, it's Nvidia's fault but, who cares who's fault it is. Just fix the freakin thing so you won't have to do this every time. Also, there's incompatibility with with laptops that I run into quite often. If you get a new laptop you may have major problems getting Linux to install. And, what about having to compile certain apps and the fact that when you do you have to relink every time a kernel update occurs. What average user will want to deal with that! If they could at least get to the point of where the Android OS is with a reasonable interface that requires no technical skills to use it but can be tweaked if you want then it would be moving closer to the desktop. From my perspective they are moving in that direction but still have a long way to go.

Salem6610
Salem6610

I had tried Linux from more then 2 Years ago and i giveup after two months .. My experience that time was fill with suffering and angry .. Because of low quality work of distribution creators I tried Ubento 8.10 and Mandriva ... And face up same problem to make my DVB card to work after long search in the web and trying every possible solution including kernel rebuilding and nothing work So I back to Windows fro two years and never try Linux Again You know whats the problem in Linux .. it's in Distribute creator and Lack of hardware maker support and software vendors .. And the import thing are System and Devices Tools .. and make GUI programs 100% compatible with Linux and have ability to communicate with system recurses Linux are great OS and going ahead MS Windows in years but no one until today have make a real distribute that's benefit from it ............ By the now I'm trying to get back to Linux ... recently I test Many Distributes Like Bodhi - Puppy Linux - ubuntu-11.10 -Mint LXDE and notice a big improvement comparing to my previous experience . I'm still in test period and I'll choice the better distribute to install on my system .........

omaxmike
omaxmike

I have found that Kubuntu 11.10 has everything I'm looking for in Linux running on my HP Pavillion, as well as my Dell Inspiron. I do slide presentations, Impress, for my church with the Pavillion. The audio, I record on the Inspiron with Audacity.

ehk
ehk

In my experience Linux (Ubuntu) works fine for multimedia playback but is essentially useless for off the air video recording, video editing, and video recoding. Unless I've missed something, there are no video capture cards for Japanese digital television that work with Linux. Even analog capture that was simple plug and play with Windows was horrendously complex to get sort of working with Linux. And, as far as I know, professional editing and recoding kit (hard and soft) such as produced by Grass Valley is Windows only. I work around some of the limitations by running Windows in a Linux hosted virtual machine, but when I do this I'm always thinking "why not just run Windows without the Linux host."

Joshua Tuman
Joshua Tuman

Recently I built myself an HTPC system to stream videos/music/picures and such across the network from my NAS. I'm honestly not sure what all distributions XBMC "will" work on but the most recommended by the community was Ubuntu so that's what I went with (10.4). Getting videos to display through HDMI insdead of the default VGA port was a little challenge but not all that bad, however, getting audio to play through the HDMI required editing the pearl code in the audio drivers. Even then it worked at random and sometimes another audio device would pop up and kick the HDMI audio drivers out of the system. Eventually I gave up and went to windows not just because of this difficulty but because Linux is unable to play Netflix videos due to the DRM requirements. I very much agree, Linux is a great OS and is superior to Windows in many ways, but, there are severe multimedia requirements not being met. The bad part is; many of the reasons they are not being met has nothing to do with Linux it's self.

brantmills
brantmills

but every upgrade killed something. I never got it all working on Fedora. It worked great on my initial Ubuntu install. I re-installed once and several packages I used to use no longer work or are no longer available. I refuse to move to the later offerings which include unity because I hate it. Sites are moving beyond what my version of Firefox can handle and forcing plugins to stop working on older versions. Its so annoying I'm considering buying Windows 7 for my house.

ddalley
ddalley

So is consistency and interconnectivity. The differences between distributions in the same family (say, Fedora or Linux Mint) are too great, and which secondary drives get mounted and how, and how SAMBA is set up (if at all) should be much better controlled by the head of each family project.

wa7qzr
wa7qzr

Multi-media may drive everyone nuts, which is understandable because that's where all the money (or at least, a lot of it) is to be made, and Linux plus multi-media applications does not equal more money in someone's pockets. That discussion's old hat, at least for me. Now, if you want to drive yourself to absolute distraction, try finding Tablet-PC applications for Linux. Even something like Gnome 3, which on the surface looks like a perfect desktop for a Tablet-PC, like a Toshiba M200, doesn't have anything designed for the purpose. I can only guess that no such applications are around because people are too concerned with the look of the wallpaper on Fedora XX or whatever the "go to" distro is this month may be. So, maybe Linux should stop wasting time and effort at trying to become the end all to beat all for desktops and do what it really does best: making the Internet go.

rob.pilgrim
rob.pilgrim

Linux never has been for the 'average user' - and probably never will. I think I've tried all of the major flavours (Mandriva/PCLinuxOS/SUSE/Fedora/GenToo/Puppy/Slackware to name just a few) and not one has done all of the things that Windows can do without resorting to Google and the Terminal. On my laptop I have, over the years, evolved from Mint 4 to Mint 12 - that last I'm still ambivalent about - but I could not get a backup program to work properly without resorting to my friend 'sudo ...'. Similarly on my dual boot, which I only fire up to W7 when I need to do something complicated, which has Ubuntu (and yes I do like Unity), there are what should be basic things - install programs; backup; set up a screen saver - which require the little black box. And things will remain this way while Linux is free and does not have to respond to complaints from paying customers. So why do I persevere - philosophy really - and the knowledge that many new things which appear in Windows were trialled and proven first in Linux

Aussie_linux_user
Aussie_linux_user

Pulse audio is the source of many of these problems.. It's not linux multimedia in general .. I've been using linux for semi-pro audio production for years and it is fantastic.. I also have 2 Mythtv Frontends and a general purpose laptop - all are gentoo and I have no issues whatsoever with audio formats. My DAW system uses JACK over ffado for audio and alsa for MIDI (to communicate with my external synths etc).. My general purpose laptop and mythtv frontends have ALSA only.. Everything works fine... Funnily everyone I speak to using Arch also has no problems.. It's up to the distro builders to work out Pulse is no longer needed just install the ALSA plugins and stuff seems to just work... there used to be a time when you needed to configure asound.conf to get stuff to work nicely .. or you needed to install pulse and talk via that.. those days are gone

TNT
TNT

Multimedia on most platforms is a sticky wicket because there are so many formats and "standards" Windows 7 is much better at it than Windows has ever been. OS X is fine as long as you stick with Apple approved formats. But Linux still lags in this are. As many has pointed out there are a lot of causes: lack of manufacturer support, competing Linux packages, little profit to be made from the platform... And there is good information in the posts to guide through the problems and shortcomings. I know you despise the Unity GUI, but honestly Ubuntu has done more to produce a consumer OS based on Linux than any other. Ubuntu TV I think will help them deliver a robust multimedia experience. In fact, I think Ubuntu is the one OS to rule them all as far as Linus distro's go. I recommend you give unity another chance. Its undergone some good changes and 12.4 is bringing even more simplicity and power to the interface. To add my two cents to the possible solution category, distro's need to standardize on how to handle audio and video (they are the new "fonts" of communication, after all), and then differentiate for use. Some for consumer, some for business, some for pads and some for server roles. Differentiation is the key to success.

awollman
awollman

The 'average' users mentioned in the article aren't using Bodhi; they're using Mint or Ubuntu. As you mentioned, fixing the issue in Mint was very easy and just indicates a problem with a specific extension, not an overall multimedia issue. Personally, I have worked with Fedora and Ubuntu and haven't had media problems on either. On the contrary, I've had an easy streamlined experience with Linux when it comes to playing a variety of media. On Windows and Mac OS I've had to either use a variety of programs or add-ons or stick exclusively with VLC or a port of MPlayer. The only times I run into media problems with Linux is in regards to content with DRM. For example, recently, in order to play video on Amazon I had to install HAL even though the package is no longer used in Fedora, due to Amazon's recent DRM on their content.

itadmin
itadmin

I'm on Debian, supposed to be one of the more difficult distributions to get things right on, and have no problems. Follow these instructions and you will have most of what you need: http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=61221 Mepis comes with all the bells and whistles. Pulse Audio has some problems. Once I dumped it and went back to ALSA. For now Pulse Audio works fine on my machine. The biggest obstacle to making a breakthrough on the desktop is that Linux has absolutely no marketing or advertising. Of course, there's really no "Linux" desktop as such. It's the various distributions.

stevesr0
stevesr0

As some have noted, there are some distros that are designed for multimedia. I think most of these are for production, rather than (end user) use. One not mentioned is AVLinux, which is a customized Debian running LXDE.

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

From a usability standpoint I couldn't agree more. It's kind of a pain getting "that mix" of functionality, performance, and preference isolated to a working system. However, given the history of Linux, it's purpose has really been to support the day to day shenanigans of sys-admins that support networks and to support developers that design the under-pinnings of the systems themselves. We few MM (multi-media) people who are attempting to use it for artistic purposes are really using a hammer to screw a cucumber into a light switch; eg: we are using Linux outside of it's historic purpose. That said, there are projects that have focused some time to the MM experience: Celtix (pre-production screen play aid) https://www.celtx.com LightWorks: (post-production competitor to Final Cut) http://www.lightworksbeta.com/ Red (HD video cameras; arguably because they will output any file format and thus, beholden to no post-software or platform) http://www.red.com Linux MultiMedia Studio: http://lmms.sourceforge.net/screenshots.php Ardour: http://ardour.org/ And, Audacity, as you've mentioned: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/screenshots But, this is only the highlight reel, there are so many more... Anyway, Linux MM isn't here yet but it's in the works; developers are aware of it and creating for it. But, as per usual, nobody on the platform side will really care until there is a grass-roots movement to push these changes forward - that's us. Thanks for kicking this off, Jack. Push with the full power of your voice knowing there are many of us behind you.

Dave.A.Townsend
Dave.A.Townsend

Ubuntu Studio distro is specifically designed for multi-media. For somebody doing a lot of audio/video and design work it is the preferred distro to use.

russoisraeli
russoisraeli

My years of desktop linux usage (Fedora, Gentoo, Ubuntu) showed that: 1) Sound support, especially PulseAudio (insert many many curses here) is flawed in linux. Sound is not something complicated nowadays - unlike some 15 years ago when one had to mess with IRQ's, midi settings, and using obscure helper applications provided by the manufacturer, today sound is pretty much a given. In linux it was always either it works from the start, or it takes days of screwing around to get it going. Fortunately, I found a wonderful replacement to PulseAudio, which actually just works, and I recommend it to anyone using sound in linux - it's OSS (Open Sound System). I am not sure what OSS was in the past, but the modern project (developer.opensound.com) although still in its "unstable" version for the past several years, worked marvelously for me all these years. There's almost no configuration. Pretty much install, and start using (oh, and remove PulseAudio before!!!!). When kernel changes on Gentoo, it automatically recompiles and relaunches the modules at startup. Multiple sound sources work great in unison, which is something that PulseAudio failed miserably with. Other than that, there's a problem of different applications supporting different sound daemons, but hopefully there'd be a winning standard in the future, which most applications will support. 2) Webcam support is annoying, just like sound above. Many webcams have kernel support, but then you have to look for it and re-compile a custom kernel, which most users will not do. Why not have a GUI wrapper which would attempt to find your webcam in the kernel modules support, and if available, compile the relevant module to get it going without user intervention. 3) Video card support is beyond annoying. We can often blame video card manufacturers for that, and support did improve with GUI's that generate xorg files over the years, but it's still a long way to go. Every time my kernel changes, I have to re-install ATI's modules. Multi monitor support with acceleration and all the good stuff is in its infancy. 4) I had great experiences with various multimedia players, and file support. I never tried to do anything crazy, but 99% of my DivX's, xvid's, dvd's, and other play just fine in VLC. 5) The flash plugin is the one thing that I have to kill every few days, or it hogs all of my memory. It's not linux's fault though, but Adobe's. The one thing everybody shouldn't do is create flash websites, and the one thing everybody should do is to yell at developers for creating flash websites. Go HTML5!

britnat
britnat

Thanks Jack, well put. Let's just change the conclusion slightly. It's not just average users who want things to work seamlessly out of the box. I have 25 years experience - am considered an expert - and am TIRED OF WASTING VALUABLE TIME. Let's face it - if people can't design and code stuff that works - they should get out of the business. I want to go ballistic when I think of the millions of hours that are wasted (collectively) by people having to tinker with their systems to get them to work. We the users, whether newbies or pros, need to make our point loud and clear - TIME IS PRECIOUS. After all, you can always make more money, but you can't buy time.

bionan_2000
bionan_2000

I'm using Fedora, and I have none of the problems you had. For me one the most problematic question is video edition: there is no alternative in Linux for programs like Vegas or Premiere. Sure, there is plenty video editors for Linux but none of them comparable with Vegas or Premiere: very basic. Please don't misunderstanding my words: is not a critic for the people who develop video editors for Linux (it's a gigantic task!!). But why not work together to develop a better product? Please forgive me my poor english.

Rambo Tribble
Rambo Tribble

In my experience, these sorts of problems tend to follow a specific kernel across the distributions that use it. Some distros might patch the problem, but usually the problem doesn't go away until a newer kernel is released, (with new modules, too, of course).

pgit
pgit

not enough info available to the developers. Hardware is the foundation of it all. Look at the (slow but sure) progress of nouveau with the cooperation of nvidia. But you may have a motherboard with nvidia and then broadcom wireless, and have a heck of a time getting the latter to work. There's just too many possible combinations among manufacturers of various components that it's a near impossible task for the GNU/Linux system to be universally compatible, let alone keep up with changes to the technology. It's a miracle GNU/Linux works as well as it does, actually. BTW here's a hint: for the most likelihood of full hardware compatibility an all-intel chip set is the way to go. (including video and wifi) You won't get the best, most gee-whiz performance but everything will Just Plain Work (tm) with most major distributions. (it'll work with the greatest variety of distros in fact)

greybob
greybob

My problem with Linux and all other operating systems is the demand for passwords either bios or normal boot up. Frankly I am a person who does not use a password to boot up. But Microsoft altered my XP operating system from Home to Professional and now insists on a password. because of this I want to change to Linux but I cannot find a Lunyx form that does not require a password. I am fed up with some program writer telling me that I need a password when I boot up. I do not need a password either at home when I am the only user of my computer and at the shop where I volunteer to repair computers. I am experimenting with Linux (Fedora) and write the opening password on the machine so anyone can experiment with the machine. Does this give you any idea why I do not want or need a boot up password either in the bios or the opening operating system. Enough it enough, I know passwords are needed but not in booting up.

Slayer_
Slayer_

What the heck are you doing??? There is an updates icon, you dbl click it, type in your password and click install. Minimize and ignore it. I have updates 100's of times and never had it go wrong.

apotheon
apotheon

Does Hauppauge offer a card that'll work? I seem to recall Hauppauge being the brand of choice for TV tuner cards on open source OSes.

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: And things will remain this way while Linux is free and does not have to respond to complaints from paying customers. Poppycock. Overweening arrogance is a much bigger problem for such things than "free" software. There is no specific reason for it being free to create such a mess, and bigger messes exist amongst closed source software offerings. In fact, some of the most expensive software in the world -- "enterprise" packages like ERM software, for instance -- are also among the most problematic, useless, stupidified things ever invented. They rank right up there with lead balloons, propeller beanies, and the Hindenburg. Paying customers are *not* the salvation of software installation, backup systems, and screen savers on any Linux distribution or any other open source operating system. I just wrote a lengthy discussion of some of the actual reasons for this stuff, in this very discussion thread: http://www.techrepublic.com/forum/discussions/102-388834-3646233

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: I recommend you give unity another chance. Its undergone some good changes and 12.4 is bringing even more simplicity and power to the interface. Define "simplicity" and "power" in this context for me, please.

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

@stevesr0 What a great find, thanks for mentioning it.

dcolbert
dcolbert

We're supposed to be a community of tech professionals. Rather than ridiculing someone who comes in and displays a lack of understanding of the importance of BIOS and/or login passwords, as a community we could be a little more helpful and try to educate this user as to why he would want a password, at least where he is the only user of his computer at the shop where he volunteers to repair computers? I know it is hard to keep your calm when you deal with user-space every day - but Zefficace at least tried to explain that there are options for setting up auto-login and other alternatives. I would assume that the majority of system BIOSes in the workplace are not password protected - and I find it confusing that Greybob thinks that mandatory BIOS passwords are typical in the industry. Now, OS logins are pretty much the default throughout the industry at this point, and there is a strong and logical reason why this is the case - but if this user has to do a BIOS login at home and at his office PC, it sounds like he has something set up wrong. What brought ME here was looking for Slayer's comment "I have no idea how to update a kernel"... I'm going to go find that one, now and see what *that* is all about. Any two of us going ruthlessly after one another and questioning the expertise and credibility of one another is one thing. But the disparity of expertise is so large here this is more like bullying than a fair fight. Now I'm off to check out what Slayer was saying in his post titled, "I have no idea how to update a Kernel".

apotheon
apotheon

Is a login dialog really your biggest problem with any OS? Holy crap. I don't even know what to say to that.

zefficace
zefficace

There are many ways to have auto-logins, no password needed. Most depend on which login manager and desktop you have (Say, GDM and gnome, or maybe Slim) Many distros actually have graphical tools to allow you such a choice. Ubuntu even gives it as an option during the initial stages of the installation procedure. But I found this article with google, since on my lunch time. I hope it applies to Fedora 16. http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2010/11/12/how-to-enable-auto-login-and-create-a-guest-user-account-on-fedora-14/

dcolbert
dcolbert

Anyhow - I've done 100s of updates (probably 1000s) and had it go wrong as frequently as a significant update has gone wrong on any other OS platform (OS X, various Windows). In fact, I'd say that I've had things go wrong after updates more frequently on Linux than on any other platform. The kind of things rpollard is talking about - little fix/breaks like a graphic driver or Samba quits working to major snafus like X absolutely refusing to restart after an update that eventually ended up making it easier to clean re-install than spend days tracking down the problem on the forums. I always wonder how guys with a single machine and no Linux guru friend get onto the Internet to research issues like that last one on the Linux forums. I guess at that point you bust out your bus pass and head down to the local public library. I've had trouble with kernel updates fixing scalable fonts, Flash, WiFi, media codecs, utility programs like SAMBA network browsers, graphics drivers, and numerous other issues. An update is an inherent risk on any platform, especially one built on X86 DIY hardware where there are any number of potential combinations of hardware, apps, and installed components that could misbehave. I'm always dubious of anyone who claims their particular OS choice, "always works". Even in the world of Macintosh, where there is a single vendor, a single OS, and a single known set of hardware specs across their line of merchandise, updates still end up introducing unwanted and unforeseen behavior post-update. You apply a patch or update and things that worked before just start acting flaky. Mobile OS platforms are not immune to this behavior, either. The code that underlies all of these systems is written by *people* and prone to human error - and that manifests itself in the kind of symptoms rpollard is describing. With Linux, you've got people reverse engineering features that are not open to support things like graphic cards, and there has been a somewhat adversarial relationship between those vendors and the Linux developer community (as opposed to one of cooperation that exists on the platforms that have a majority market presence). Linux has significant challenges and even the most user and noob friendly Linux distros still require a more technical understanding in order to keep them running smoothly over the long-haul. It is one of the major limitations that sends adopters *back* to Windows or *moving on* to OS X. To ignore that just isn't realistic. Now - *most* times, *most* updates on *most* Linux distros go without a hitch, and things have improved remarkably across the major Linux distros over the last 5 years or so. The dark ages of needing to compile my own kernel to enable wireless support or PCMCIA or sound on almost ANY laptop when installing Debian are far behind us on most modern Linux distros - and this is welcome progress. But that is the case with all the major OS platforms available at the current time - and arguably, it was NEVER a big problem for the other two major OS platforms. So Linux has caught up to Windows 95 derided "Plug N Pray" technology. Advanced Linux users who become *nix advocates are disconnected from the frustrations for the novice or moderately experienced Linux adopter. I'm an honest Linux user with moderately *advanced* experience with the platform (and the same holds true for the other platforms too). What the heck is rpollard doing? He is experimenting with Linux and finding the same frustrations, challenges and obstacles that confront almost every other new user of any particular Linux distribution. The majority of typical users who've experimented with Linux surely agree with me. But of the 2% that makes up the rabid Linux fanbase, those are the most vocal in disputing me when I make claims like this. They're vocal, but they're not fooling anyone at this point. Linux is no inherently better than any other OS at this point in a general sense, and never has been. There are certain *strengths* for Linux and it is very popular among those niches - and here is to diversity of choice where that is the case. But the goal of becoming a stable, reliable, easy to maintain and operate desktop OS for the average PC user is still an elusive goal for the Linux community. It can be done, OS X proves that - but there hasn't been a Linux distribution that has been able to achieve that goal yet. Jack's article only touches on the TIP of the iceberg about why that is the case. (Edit - I'd argue that in fact, I understand the technical aspects of Linux *better* than Windows or OS X, by necessity. Using Debian as described above, I had to learn a LOT about the inner-workings of Linux, including compiling custom kernels, modifying xfree86 configuration files and init.d startup daemons. It has been awhile, but at one point you simply HAD to know these things to get everything working like it *should have worked* by default with Linux. It got to the point where I was very comfortable getting into the /etc directory and going nuts on .conf files with vi or compiling my own kernels. By contrast, I'm still nervous when adding, removing or editing registry keys because despite over 10 years in the industry working on NT technologies since NT4 - I've so rarely had to drill down to that level to make something work or fix a problem).

pgit
pgit

Once again I have to agree with your analysis. I personally have given up on engaging any paid = responsive arguments. Anecdotally, every time I have sought official answers from Microsoft I've gotten none. I posed some very serious, well documented difficulties to support and never even got acknowledgment the questions were received. At minimum, 100% of my filings on various GNU/Linux bugzilla lists have been read and acknowledged. Some things actually got fixed, making the free software infinitely more responsive than Microsoft. (considering you're dividing by zero)

TNT
TNT

The new Dash simplifies the UI dramatically and allows users to locate programs, documents -- files of any type really -- with filters if preferred. It's like the Finder on OS X, only on steroids. That's just one example of empowering the user through a simplified interface.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Join Sudoers or Administrators TODAY, make your computer a RUIN by TOMORROW!

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

even though it is a bit old (from 2009) it still works well for me, from a USB thumbdrive. However, you could always change the password if you wanted to!

Slayer_
Slayer_

So he has no computing knowledge apparently. -Edit Never mind, he changes his profile, the legal/medical types are safe.

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: FreeBSD *is* a propeller head *nix that has never had any intentions or made any proclamations about having a "Year of the FreeBSD desktop" Hm. Yes. Well. That was not at issue. QUOTE: when we start talking about "Can I set up my sister in California with a Debian or Redhat or SUSE or Mint desktop installation and keep her happy"... the answer is still generally no That's more a matter of self-sabotage by going about making things "user friendly" in an utterly braindead way than of not making things "user friendly". Mint is actually doing better than most, but it's hampered by the fact that it must rely on a lot of work being done by people who can't tell the difference between brilliance and completely counterproductive mediocrity. I think we're rapidly reaching the point where PC-BSD will surpass the most "user friendly" Linux distribution just by virtue of the fact that a lot (not all, but a lot) of work in the Linux community is going backwards, while PC-BSD is moving much more slowly but also in a more generally positive direction. This still doesn't mean it'll be "The Year of the PC-BSD Desktop" in the next couple years, but real progress no matter how slow is still preferable to mirages, costume jewelry, and cotton candy distracting us from advancing leprous decrepitude. (Note that I'm actually holding back from the metaphors I'd really find it entertaining to use here, out of a desire to avoid saying things in much poorer taste.) QUOTE: Mac OS X illustrates that it is possible, though. Indeed. Apple MacOS X still has some serious issues, but in terms of just pure utility, usability, and aesthetic appeal, it's well ahead of MS Windows, and many of the shortcomings of MacOS could be easily fixed by eliminating the control-freakish user abuse for which Apple has become famous. Utility and certain usability characteristics fall well behind something like FreeBSD, but without the other usability characteristics and the aesthetic appeal FreeBSD doesn't come as close to the sweet spot for popular acceptance as MacOS. I like it when we agree, too. I don't like it when you try to use something I say in disagreement with you as proof that I'm agreeing with your absurd exaggerations and mischaracterizations, though. I agree with you that Linux-based systems are simply Not There Yet, and in fact I think they're even farther away from There now than eight or ten years ago in many respects. While we may agree on the general statement that Linux-based systems are poor choices for popular home use at this point in time, the devil is in the details, and when you start talking about details you come up with lunacy, even going so far as to ignore centuries of actual research and practical evidence supporting well-understood principles of security to repeat bromides promulgated by marketing dimwits and nontechnical executives at Microsoft with an air of patently ridiculous gravitas.

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: You're probably right - most of the reboots in Linux can be avoided while still achieving whatever the goal is by an experienced admin. But this is where Linux makes a decision: Become more like successful, mainstream OS platforms and hold the hand of "Aunt Tilly", or remain an OS with 2% market penetration and solely appeal to uber-propeller-heads like yourself. I don't see how one has to make a choice. You seem to think that Linux-based systems must abandon the ability to restart core services without rebooting to serve the "mainstream" user. . . . or maybe you just think that I'm saying something like Ubuntu shouldn't go for the easy way out when dealing with a "mainstream" user. That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that you really don't have to reboot, at least in the vast majority of cases -- technically. Something tells me this "misunderstanding" of yours was intentional, though, so you could troll me (and other people who recognize that most of what you say is smoke and mirrors) for flames again. QUOTE: The limitations on Linux adoption are based on difficulty. The limitations on adoption of Linux-based systems are many and varied. Some difficulties are part of that; they are not the sum total of it and, if the major Linux distributions still offered all the benefits of Debian in 2003, of the popular desktop environments for it in 2005 or 2006 plus a few refinements, and of automated hardware configuration available to the top Linux distribution contenders in that arena in 2010, I think the few difficulties remaining would not be enough to really hold it back. I think the biggest problems with Linux adoption in the past half-dozen years or so have actually been license incompatibilities, image (partially deserved and partially applied maliciously by outsiders), and the fact that for every major step forward in that time period there has been at least one step back -- plus an additional step back if you consider the fact that even its problems haven't been consistent during that time, making it difficult for any documented solutions to have longevity. QUOTE: In order to be less difficult to deploy and support, Linux must embrace a dumbing-down - and this whole article is about how it can't play BOTH sides of that fence while delivering everything that everyone wants. It doesn't need dumbing down. It needs easy adoption, which consists of reaching installation parity (that is, widely available preinstalled so that hardware issues disappear), plus easy continuity, which consists of not setting out to break everything on an eighteen month cycle. Some of the reason these things are still problems is the simple fact that people are racing to see who can dumb things down the fastest. QUOTE: Linux wants to be an "elitist" platform that only appeals to guys who want to learn how to restart a daemon in init.d rather than reboot - that is great - it is awesome. I can only assume by this statement that you haven't engaged in any activity within the larger Linux community in the last five years. Quite the opposite is the biggest problem there lately. It has become a community where stability doesn't matter any longer as long as every single piece of software in the world is installed; where software that makes your decisions for you trumps decisions that will not actually anger users; and where nobody cares whether an interface is consistently usable as long as it has things that spin, waver, flip, or just generally look different in surprising new ways. In the dwindling cases where parts of the most popular distributions are still consistently usable, where the ability to make good decisions (or even have them made for you with possibility of overriding automated decisions) still exists, and where stability can still be had, it is only because the newfangled BS has not completely replaced the "hard" stuff -- which means that to the extent Linux-based systems still have the benefits that made it a better choice than MS Windows in the first place, it's only because nobody has done anything to make things more accessible to "mainstream" users. I have always been of the opinion that the proper approach is to offer the fine-grained control more technical users want and (not or: and!) the "easy" front-ends that make "mainstream" users happy. The problem is not that the Linux world isn't trying to cater to the "mainstream" users; it's that the Linux world is catering to the "mainstream" users in some ways that are incompatible with catering to it in other ways and, at the same time, completely screwing over the more technically inclined users. QUOTE: With Windows if you're running a system built entirely on HCL approved systems, it isn't a matter of "luck" either - if you've gone to the trouble of actually researching and purchasing around those factors. I don't care how carefully you select hardware: you're still going to run into apparently nondeterministic behavior of the system, built-in security weaknesses, and other problems that guarantee a ceiling on how stable, secure, efficient, and productive a system you can have -- a ceiling that is notably lower for many, many common conditions than other systems provide. When Microsoft does stupid crap like provide a(n undocumented, of course) system call that can actually just switch off privilege separation, that's a noisy friggin' klaxon warning you that architectural privilege separation has still not made it to the world of MS Windows. QUOTE: Most people who have a system, especially a DIY Linux box - aren't paying attention to HCL lists when they build their system. If they meet those requirements, it *is* a matter of luck. You're talking about a different set of circumstances than I was talking about, so this doesn't actually answer my point at all -- but I'll address it anyway. When you can get open source Unix-like systems that have not been utterly hosed up by their own developers (I'm looking at you, major desktoppy Linux distributions, when I say such unflattering things) preinstalled by reputable vendors with the same level of support provided by those vendors for MS Windows, then you'll see that there's zero luck involved in what benefits there are in MS Windows' supposed benefits in this arena. In fact, given the parameters I've specified here, what you'll see is MS Windows looking like tawdry trash beside the alternative. QUOTE: Your last comment makes me think we're arguing apples and oranges here, though - because being able to replace your GUI interface isn't even part of the equation as I'm discussing this aspect. You said "Or maybe you're just lucky. Maybe you've got a system built on ideal hardware and you're running an ideal set of apps that maximize the stability of your distribution of Linux for you." You brought up applications. How the heck is me mentioning applications not relevant to what you said? QUOTE: non-sequitur with bonus straw-man is non-addressable. Poppycock. You use these terms without any evident understanding of what they mean. You said "It is absolutely *insane* to claim that the OS platform itself has any consistently and inherent superiority over another in terms of stability and reliability in this regard." What about "absolutely *insane* to claim . . . any inherent superiority" of one technical implementation of an OS over another is not addressed by my observation that you tend to do things like notice a moderate hardware related effect on stability then blow it way the hell out of proportion so you can call people "absolutely *insane*" for having the audacity to notice things like the fact that open source Unix-like OSes automatically clean up after memory leaks in ways MS Windows does not, have architectural privilege separation that DRM software cannot blithely bypass, and enjoy a more active and responsive vulnerability fixing "workforce" than MS Windows (to pluck three items at random out of the bucket)? How is that possibly not an excellent example of how you note some moderately affecting circumstance, turn the molehill into a mountain, then use that to make literally absolutist proclamations of extreme judgment on people for noticing you ignored important factors that really do show specific areas of inherent benefit to one system over another? That's no "non-sequitur", and it's no "straw-man" -- and, by the way, a straw man is equivalent to a non sequitur (both are off the point, the only difference being whether you refer to the off-point comments as a whole or just the part someone addresses in place of your actual argument); repating yourself in different words does not add up to there being more problems you've (mis)identified in what I said. QUOTE: Your argument would have been stronger without this paragraph - it comes across as a troll. Freud would have called this "projection". I think it's just a cigar. QUOTE: Weird, after all that, you're basically *actually* saying I'm right. I have never said Linux-based systems are perfect. I've just said that all your posturing about how "Linux" will destroy the world, and all your completely off-base mischaracterizations of things -- making up problems to complain about because, apparently, you are wholly unaware of real problems -- are exactly that: posturing and off-base mischaracterization. Saying that I'm actually saying you're right is like saying that two people arguing about whether Pluto was declared "not a planet" was due to a rational set of rules for identifying planets or due to jealousy from Eris are actually in agreement on the crux of the issue just because neither of them wants to declare Pluto a planet. In fact, in this case, I was specifically responding to the fact that you said Jack Wallen has moved toward the "center" on Linux-related issues: I explained that it's easy to do so when Linux-based systems have gotten worse over the last few years, not that you're right about MS Windows being better than it actually is, Linux-based systems being "bad" because they're open source (and thus prone to mutating into weaponized flu viruses), or some other cockamamie nonsense you've spouted in the last few years. QUOTE: If Linux is going to be more accessible, it is going to embrace the GOOD of Windows and OS X - which are things you see as black and white bad. This is like when you claim I want you to be censored by jackbooted gestapo agents. No. That is not what I am saying. You should really put a sock in it when you feel the urge to mischaracterize my statements as the kind of thing you'd say (but on the other side of some dividing line or other), just for the sake of not looking like an arrogant ignoramus who doesn't bother to read what I say before responding to it. Note that I'm not saying anyone should draw and quarter you to prevent you from voicing an opinion, before you go accusing me of being a censoring bully again; I'm just saying that if you exercise in a little discretion before saying something stupid, people will think you're less stupid. QUOTE: You can't have both mass appeal and hardcore legitimacy. It's difficult, but possible. It's not impossible as you imply. It just requires refinement, rather than syphilitic promiscuity and gold lam. (Just in case that doesn't print properly on TR, that's supposed to be "lame" but with an acute accent on the E.) QUOTE: You, on the other hand are at the point where you're going, "Halen *sucks* without David Lee Roth. It isn't the same band at all. It is half the band it used to be. They better change things around and find what they used to have, because if they keep going the way they're going, just some commercial bubble gum pop-rock band - then I might just be done with 'em". 1. Van Halen was never all that great, but at least they were fun with Roth. 2. Van Halen was much more successful with Roth than with Hagar. 3. No, seriously, your OS doesn't have to be afflicted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy to appeal to the "mainstream". 4. My reasons for having actually given up on Linux-based systems in 2005/2006 have nothing to do with the fact it was trying to be more widely appealing, and everything to do with the fact that people did it by attaching parachutes, mid-1980s boomboxes, and pink taffeta to a Ducati Monster, removing half the engine with a plasma torch in the process, rather than by actually making it more usable for less-technical users. 5. (Sorry, I'm getting tired of typing.) Seriously -- do you think that trading "difficult to configure without technical knowledge, but stable and useful after that" for "self-configuring, but the configuration is wrong 30% of the time, even when right it breaks itself another 50% of the time, and in no case do you have any reasonable recourse to fix the problem" is an improvement? QUOTE: You've never made a single post before that was a *better* example of illustrating *exactly* why my claims about Linux aren't exaggerations or misinterpretations, but grounded, realistic observations about the challenges and limitations that Linux faces going forward. It's nice you think we can agree on something. Too bad you're wrong. Almost none of the commentary I've seen you make about problems with Linux-based systems agree with anything I've said about problems with Linux-based systems. Two key points about where we disagree are the fact you blame many of the problems with popularity of open source Unix-like OSes on the fact they're open source and the fact you generally refuse to acknowledge that there are actual technical differences between MS Windows and various Unix-like OSes that have real, substantive, significant effects on the various benefits and detriments of working with different OSes. QUOTE: Mass appeal is a measure of success and of value and of suitability. It's not always a good measure, though -- just as many microbenchmarks are truly awful measures of the real-world performance of a given programming language implementation for people writing real code for real production use. QUOTE: That applies against my own biases too - where I would like to see Android do better against iOS in the tablet space, but it still lags behind. Apple actually put some work into ensuring iOS would have what it needed to be a strong contender on tablets, and leveraged its fanbase's (err, "userbase's", I mean) credulity (uhh, "aesthetic sophistication") and idolatry (sorry, that should have said "loyalty to a company that has earned their respect") to get quick uptake among not only users but also developers. Meanwhile, the vendors selling Android tablets basically just threw a smartphone OS on a tablet and figured "Branding will do the rest," thus sabotaging their own efforts. They've finally started making a real effort to do something meaningful with it, but I wonder if the tablet market will even be viable long enough for them to make the long, hard slog past the damage done by their own insipid gaffe. QUOTE: The Linux community still needs to improve in this regard, if they ever want to meet their challenges in a meaningful way. I've arrived at the opinion the Linux community, while it includes a lot of very smart and reasonable people, is a lost cause because it also includes a lot of stupid and unreasonable people, and the latter are increasingly running the show. I kinda hope the smart, reasonable refugees will come to various BSD Unix communities and work on broadly "user friendly" stuff in a more measured, intelligent manner, and pick up the scent where the Linux community at large lost it a long time ago. The only people married to Linux as the basis of an OS these days who are doing good work are (as far as I've seen) drowning in a sea of stupidity, engaging in misguided efforts to build something good but not broadly "user friendly" on top of the mess, or actually just working on the kernel and drivers without bothering to get their hands dirty with the user-facing stuff at all. Examples include a few good people fighting the tide at Canonical (I suspect they had something to do with the initial development of the HUD feature), the Arch Linux project (I'm guessing, though I don't have enough experience with it to be sure that fits), and of course some of the people in the core Linux kernel team.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And I'll admit, I do consistently forget that you're a FreeBSD guy and have your own valid criticisms about Linux itself. But FreeBSD *is* a propeller head *nix that has never had any intentions or made any proclamations about having a "Year of the FreeBSD desktop", as well - so it is actually fine that you have a very in-depth technical ability to support a system and you prefer a system that gives you that kind of granular control that has a steep barrier to entry for the new user. I'm not opposed to the idea that Unix or Linux is the best choice possible for a particular PERSON. But when we start talking about "Can I set up my sister in California with a Debian or Redhat or SUSE or Mint desktop installation and keep her happy"... the answer is still generally no. Mac OS X illustrates that it is possible, though.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Quote: There is a difference here, though. On MS Windows, you really do have to reboot for those changes to be applied. Except in cases such as a replaced kernel, however, you do not technically have to reboot for changes that supposedly need a reboot to actually be applied. It just tells you to reboot because it's assuming you're Aunt Tilly rather than a knowledgeable sysadmin who can reasonably be expected to do things like enter `/etc/init.d/apache2 restart`. Lately you've been slipping into the trap of Linux-think that bothers me the most, Apotheon. I'll grant you this point you've made. You're probably right - most of the reboots in Linux can be avoided while still achieving whatever the goal is by an experienced admin. But this is where Linux makes a decision: Become more like successful, mainstream OS platforms and hold the hand of "Aunt Tilly", or remain an OS with 2% market penetration and solely appeal to uber-propeller-heads like yourself. Either option is OK. Linux does fine with that 2% market and it represents millions of installations throughout the world. But when you make this choice, one way or another, you draw a line in the sand and it becomes silly to argue. The limitations on Linux adoption are based on difficulty. In order to be less difficult to deploy and support, Linux must embrace a dumbing-down - and this whole article is about how it can't play BOTH sides of that fence while delivering everything that everyone wants. If Linux wants to be an "elitist" platform that only appeals to guys who want to learn how to restart a daemon in init.d rather than reboot - that is great - it is awesome. Quote: There's no reasonable way to believe that's actually a matter of luck. Such circumstances are the result of careful selection and application of deep knowledge of a lot of different aspects of the environment. Of course, it's actually possible to make such decisions with open source Unix-like OSes, where with MS Windows it's not really an option. Try replacing the GUI on MS Windows with a low-resource, stable, tiling window manager some time. With Windows if you're running a system built entirely on HCL approved systems, it isn't a matter of "luck" either - if you've gone to the trouble of actually researching and purchasing around those factors. The truth is, the vast majority of system deployments do NOT regard any sort of HCL for ANY platform (with the exception of genuine Macintosh - where by default, the system meets the OS HCL requirements). Most people who have a system, especially a DIY Linux box - aren't paying attention to HCL lists when they build their system. If they meet those requirements, it *is* a matter of luck. Your last comment makes me think we're arguing apples and oranges here, though - because being able to replace your GUI interface isn't even part of the equation as I'm discussing this aspect. Quote: I think you have a tendency to notice that something might have a moderate effect sometimes, then blow it way the hell out of proportion, to the extent that someone claiming the effect is anything less than The Biggest Thing In The World is "insane". Then, of course, you use that as the basis for an article about how Linux is going to destroy the world. Mmmmm. Oooookay... non-sequitur with bonus straw-man is non-addressable. I was going to skip this point entirely, but I'm afraid you would then focus on how I *skipped* a point because "I didn't have a convenient response for that point". Ultimately, you're right - there is nothing I can say in response to it, because it really doesn't say anything other than distort my position and attempt to paint me as making claims I've never made by taking previous arguments and warping them in your own words. Your argument would have been stronger without this paragraph - it comes across as a troll. Quote: It helps that Linux-based systems in general have moved significantly closer to MS Windows in terms of stability. When something loses 50% of its quality, it's a lot easier to say it's not all that great after all. Weird, after all that, you're basically *actually* saying I'm right. If Linux is going to be more accessible, it is going to embrace the GOOD of Windows and OS X - which are things you see as black and white bad. I've argued that for the last 4 years... for the last 10 years, that Linux is like an underground metal band and that Linux advocates are like that band's fans. In order for it to go mainstream, it will lose the raw edge and legitimacy that attracts the die-hards. You'll get to the inevitable point where long time Linux advocates start claiming, "I was into Linux before Linux was cool - but at least Linux had integrity back then". You can't have both mass appeal and hardcore legitimacy. Not in your favorite band, "Satan's Death Hammer", and not in your favorite *nix distribution either. Here is the take-away, too. This is the point, right now... where Jack Wallen goes, "I'm not really happy with everything since Hagar joined Van Halen, but they're still an awesome band and I'm sticking with 'em". You, on the other hand are at the point where you're going, "Halen *sucks* without David Lee Roth. It isn't the same band at all. It is half the band it used to be. They better change things around and find what they used to have, because if they keep going the way they're going, just some commercial bubble gum pop-rock band - then I might just be done with 'em". You've never made a single post before that was a *better* example of illustrating *exactly* why my claims about Linux aren't exaggerations or misinterpretations, but grounded, realistic observations about the challenges and limitations that Linux faces going forward. You've hit on every stereotype and attitude among the Linux community that I constantly point out, and you've touched on all the major obstacles that Linux continues to face in widespread adoption. Mass appeal is a measure of success and of value and of suitability. Of how "good" a product is with all things, including the intangible, considered. That applies against my own biases too - where I would like to see Android do better against iOS in the tablet space, but it still lags behind. I'm reasonable to step outside of my own preferences and admit those things. The Linux community still needs to improve in this regard, if they ever want to meet their challenges in a meaningful way.

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: As the GUI got more advanced and modules became auto-loading, PnP deals - suddenly after updates Linux was alerting (and OS X too), "You have to reboot your machine in order for the changes you've made to be applied". Aha! This is "buy-in blindness", and I suffer it as much as anyone else. There is a difference here, though. On MS Windows, you really do have to reboot for those changes to be applied. Except in cases such as a replaced kernel, however, you do not technically have to reboot for changes that supposedly need a reboot to actually be applied. It just tells you to reboot because it's assuming you're Aunt Tilly rather than a knowledgeable sysadmin who can reasonably be expected to do things like enter `/etc/init.d/apache2 restart`. QUOTE: Or maybe you're just lucky. Maybe you've got a system built on ideal hardware and you're running an ideal set of apps that maximize the stability of your distribution of Linux for you. There's no reasonable way to believe that's actually a matter of luck. Such circumstances are the result of careful selection and application of deep knowledge of a lot of different aspects of the environment. Of course, it's actually possible to make such decisions with open source Unix-like OSes, where with MS Windows it's not really an option. Try replacing the GUI on MS Windows with a low-resource, stable, tiling window manager some time. Luck can account for the presence or absence of one or two specific problems, but it's not going to make the difference between "this is worse than MS Windows" and "there is never any problem with this system at all, whatsoever, no matter what" (or even anywhere near that) all by itself. QUOTE: It is absolutely *insane* to claim that the OS platform itself has any consistently and inherent superiority over another in terms of stability and reliability in this regard. I think you have a tendency to notice that something might have a moderate effect sometimes, then blow it way the hell out of proportion, to the extent that someone claiming the effect is anything less than The Biggest Thing In The World is "insane". Then, of course, you use that as the basis for an article about how Linux is going to destroy the world. QUOTE: I've seen Jack Wallen come a long way toward the center in this regard over the last 4 years - in admitting that Linux has challenges. I've seen the whole Linux community make this shift - and it is a shift that was long overdue. It helps that Linux-based systems in general have moved significantly closer to MS Windows in terms of stability. When something loses 50% of its quality, it's a lot easier to say it's not all that great after all.

apotheon
apotheon

. . . but I don't exactly disagree with your core point -- that things go wrong in the Linux world. There was a time when epic failures and minor (but numerous) annoyances were rare after getting a system set up properly, even with software updates as fundamental as a kernel upgrade. I ran into some issues on Debian back in 2005, though, and decided I'd give FreeBSD a whirl rather than screw around with some release upgrade problems any further, and everything has been much more stable and pleasant for about half a decade or so. Then, in early 2011 when I noticed I needed to use something other than FreeBSD to get the hardware support I needed on a new laptop, I decided to give Debian a try yet. I figured that what problems I had at the time I made the jump to FreeBSD must have been solved, and things should be pretty stable and pleasant -- not as much so as FreeBSD, which has been better than any Linux distribution I've used ever was, but at least as good as Debian was before I ran into those momentary problems in 2005. Unfortunately, what I have found is that things have gotten steadily worse in the interim. I still find it considerably less aggravating than MS Windows or Apple MacOS X, but it's enough to drive me pretty far up a wall at times. There was a time when someone complaining about certain problems in the Linux world might expect a reasonable response like "It's not 1998 any longer. That hasn't been a problem for years." Now, though, there are problems people complain about that I know are current, and I have to think to myself "Le sigh. I remember when this was a solved problem -- or just a non-problem. 'Progress' has not been kind." Luckily, the end is in sight. iXsystems released a PC-BSD installer that uses the experimental new GEM/KMS support. I'm going to try using the FreeBSD install option on that installer to get this laptop running with FreeBSD instead of the decreasingly usable Debian, divesting myself of the problem that has plagued me for about a year now. (For the moment, I'll avoid commenting directly on the points where I disagree with you.)

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think that there are a number of issues that could be taking place here. Maybe you're just not tinkering with a system that is stable for you. That can certainly affect this.This is a catch-22 when it comes to applying critical security updates, though. Maybe you're more tolerant of problems. I've watched more than one Mac person who claimed their Mac was far more stable and reliable than Windows do something in an unusual or round-about way. When I've asked about it, they go, "Oh, that never works, so I just don't do this that way". Wait! Isn't that exactly what you HATE about Windows?!? The same goes for Linux. I loved the old "You have to reboot for everything" argument from Linux. As the GUI got more advanced and modules became auto-loading, PnP deals - suddenly after updates Linux was alerting (and OS X too), "You have to reboot your machine in order for the changes you've made to be applied". Aha! This is "buy-in blindness", and I suffer it as much as anyone else. I'm bought into Android, and there are countless trivial little hiccups that I've learned to live with and work around and it has become so automatic I don't think about it as being a manifestation of the OS "misbehaving". Everyone does this with the OS they decide to live with. Or maybe you're just lucky. Maybe you've got a system built on ideal hardware and you're running an ideal set of apps that maximize the stability of your distribution of Linux for you. These issues can come down to something as simple as two otherwise *identical* systems except that one has a different on-board NIC revision than the other. I've seen things like that *all the time* in my career. Why is "Brand N OS" stable on this IBM Netfinity but crashing on this one when they're the same model and processor and motherboard and even the same PO#? That is my point. It is absolutely *insane* to claim that the OS platform itself has any consistently and inherent superiority over another in terms of stability and reliability in this regard. There are countless outside variables that mean your results will vary greatly from one individual case to another. The fact that OS wars have waged on since... well, the dawn of the 8 bit PC revolution and opinions have always been widely divergent that entire time illustrates this. If it works for you, great - but if someone else claims it hasn't worked well for them, they're probably not just "Microsoft Shills" trying to spread "FUD" because they want to see your platform fail because it threatens them. They're probably not lying, either. I've seen Jack Wallen come a long way toward the center in this regard over the last 4 years - in admitting that Linux has challenges. I've seen the whole Linux community make this shift - and it is a shift that was long overdue. Start admitting the liabilities and limitations, and try to address and improve them. That has ALWAYS been my position on this topic.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And though I have had Mint kill itself (It really hates my desktops HDD's for some reason) it has never just stopped working after doings its automatic updates. And FYI, I wouldn't expect Windows to continue to work if I took out an XP kernel and swapped in a Windows 7 kernel, so why would I expect Linux to be able to do that? It seems more of a "its fine, stop messing with it" issue you guys are having.

apotheon
apotheon

My parents didn't have the best taste in music. There was never any Led Zeppelin around the house(s).

pgit
pgit

you may not be old enough to remember seeing Led Zep hit the shelves. Records came on 5/14" floppies back then.

apotheon
apotheon

I guess we could use it to roast marshmallows. Hydrogen burns clean, y'know; no bad smells on the marshmallows when you're done.

apotheon
apotheon

Lead balloons make occasionally musing paperweights. Propeller beanies serve similar purposes. I suppose the Hindenburg could have been considered useful by the news publication industry, too. In fact, in each of those cases, I'd say the fact it was an awful idea is what gave each of these ideas what value it now has. Okay, so I'm dissin' your propeller beanie. By the way, a "divide by zero" error seems like a fitting analogy for the meaningful value of the "paid support" argument against open source software.

apotheon
apotheon

My experience of the "Dash" is that it is prone to obscuring things, and has behavior I'd describe as "buggy" if this was a mature application -- but, at present, is probably really just a matter of someone not thinking the design through enough to ensure it does everything users expect in the way they'd expect it to work based on a consistent operational model for the UI. Part of the problem is that its categorization seems a bit askew, but I think a bigger part of the problem is the fact that the way it is presented to the user seems predicated upon the assumption that nobody will ever want to find anything other than via the "finder" model of searching for something, rather than just knowing where it is. That, of course, is a manifestation of an overall malaise I've detected in Ubuntu development for a long time: the attempt to actually remove options that users like in favor of others that have been decreed more likable. The only thing I have seen out of Unity design that I actually like at all is the new HUD design which, if not mismanaged horribly, could turn out to be the basis of some really neat UI design philosophy going forward -- as long as it's not the entire UI. I could see the Ubuntu team deciding to deprecate everything but HUD, though, if it sees any real popularity of use, because that team seems rather susceptible to the "if something new is good, it should be used for everything" fallacious line of thought.

apotheon
apotheon

I think, at this point, we can just point at the comment in question as proof that people who have no clue about anything computer related (with this person as a prime example) don't have any real problems with non-Microsoft OSes. Their only problem is a non-problem.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Hmmm..."non tech related" now...Should we explain WHY we use passwords on such things as the BIOS (especially!), users, and desktop settings?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Well now I have to apologize to the legal medical people out there.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Some of us do know how to perform difficult tasks with a computer! Besides, I've known several "System Administrators" that I wouldn't have trusted with my old Amstrad PC10! What a waste of 512KB ram! Hehe! ;)