Sunday, August 21. 2011
Some days ago it was reported that Microsoft declared it considers Linux on the desktop no longer a threat for its business. Now I usually wouldn't care that much what Microsoft is saying, but in this case, I think, they're very right – and thererfore I wonder why this hasn't raised any discussions in the free software community (at least I haven't seen one – if it has and I missed it, please provide links in the comments). So I'd like to make a start.
A few years ago, I can remember that I was pretty optimistic about a Linux-based Desktop (and I think many shared my views). It seemed with advantages like being able to provide a large number of high quality applications for free and having proven to be much more resilient against security threats it was just a matter of time. I had the impression that development was often going into the right direction, just to name one example freedesktop.org was just starting to try to unify the different Linux desktop environments and make standards so KDE applications work better under GNOME and vice versa.
Today, my impression is that everything is in a pretty sad state. Don't get me wrong: Free software plays an important role on Desktops – and that's really good. Major web browsers are based on free software, applications like VLC are very successful. But the basis – the operating system – is usually a non-free one.
I recently was looking for netbooks. Some years ago, Asus came out with the Eee PC, a small and cheap laptop which ran Linux by default – one year later they provided a version with Windows as an alternative. Today, you won't find a single Netbook with Linux as the default OS. I read more often than not in recent years that public authorities trying to get along with Linux have failed.
I think I made my point; the Linux Desktop is in a sad state – I'd like to discuss why this is the case and how we (the free software community) can change it. I won't claim that I have the definite answer for the cause. I think it's a mix of things, I'd like to start with some points:
Okay, I've started the discussion, I'd like others to join. Please remember: It's not my goal to flame or to blame anyone – my goal is to discuss how we can make the Linux desktop successful again.
Posted by Hanno Böck in English, Gentoo, Linux at 21:30 | Comments (59) | Trackbacks (2)
Related entries by tags:Some days ago it was reported that Microsoft declared it considers Linux on the desktop no longer a threat for its business. Now I usually wouldn\'t care that much what Microsoft is saying, but in this case, I think, they\'re very right – and thererfore I wonder why this hasn\'t raised any discussions in the free software community (at least I haven\'t seen one – if it has and I missed it, please provide links in the comments). So I\'d like to make a start. A few years ago, I can remember that I was pretty optimistic about a Linux-based Desktop (and I think many shared my views). It seemed with advantages like being able to provide a large number of high quality applications for free and having proven to be much more resilient against security threats it was just a matter of time. I had the impression that development was often going into the right direction, just to name one example freedesktop.org was just starting to try to unify the different Linux desktop environments and m
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1st point, I'm using kde and like it much more than gnome. There is indeed a problem of background daemons which are started from the ui when they should be started from the OS (distro) IMHO but at least in this field there is hope.
About Gnome 3 I've read things about not letting users personalize the desktop because gnome must be a recognizable brand, just hope this is FUD, too bad to even comment on.
2nd here start real troubles and hope is really near to finish, I do own two graphics cards, ati and nvidia, neither work fine, both free and proprietary drivers sucks in different and creative ways.
Currently using the nvidia proprietary driver because it suck less but www-client/* blocks for seconds every few minutes ...
CUPS? it's used also by Apple, well it's owned by Apple, I do hear that on osx it just work
3rd ACK using windows 7 at home, mostly with open source programs, but it's stable and easy to use
4th the desktop is not loosing share at all, who have a desktop will have one even tomorrow, but who don't have a smart phone today will have one later.
The major regression which I see and has not been mentioned here that I have seen is a 'requirement' that you run a graphics card accelerated environment. KDE 4.x/Kwin started the trend, GNOME 3/Unity simply follows the trend.
My 5 year old computer with ATI Radeon Express 200 graphics or nVidia GeForce 6200 256M graphics card neither support Kwin or Compiz. Even the fall-back GNOME 2 desktop was flaky under Ubuntu 11.04, so I fell back to Xfce, which so far, is stable and working.
Why do you need Compiz/Kwin to do office work or audio processing?
> The major regression which I see and has not been mentioned here that I have seen is a 'requirement' that you run a graphics card accelerated environment.
In KDE4, you're not required to have either OpenGL or XRender compositing to run KWin. Also, I would be surprised if KDE failed to start if accelerated OpenGL was unavailable. I bet that it would disable Desktop Effects and leave you with the same sort of window rendering you've had since... 1995 or so.
"How do I disable Desktop Effects?":
Or just use this Plasmoid (It's a toggle switch, lol!):
(IIRC, that Plasmoid is installed by default in most modern Linux distros that package KDE. [Gentoo excluded, of course. ;) ])
> The major regression which I see and has not been mentioned here that I have seen is a 'requirement' that you run a graphics card accelerated environment. KDE 4.x/Kwin started the trend, GNOME 3/Unity simply follows the trend.
As Simon C. Ion says in comment #1.1.1, KDE4 does NOT require accelerated graphics. In contrast with both Gnome3 and Unity, it even uses pretty much the same desktop layout and the same window manager (kwin, by default) either way. The only thing that's missing is the effects that require the fancy hardware.
One problem, however, fixed in kde 4.7, is that kwin originally defaulted to using effects if the driver said they were available. If the driver lied or OpenGL was unstable, it could cause KDE/X to lockup just as it hit the desktop, and kwin tried to load those bad effects. In 4.7, the default is to leave effects off until they are specifically turned on, so if the drivers say they work but really they break things, at least there's a chance to get into kde without them (and without hacking some text-based settings file somewhere from text-mode or some other X environment).
The effects-toggle-hotkey (which 4.7 makes much more prominent) can then be used to turn effects on, if desired. Obviously, if they break stuff, you'd not turn them on, and the desktop would continue as normal, without them.
For those who have stable enough 3D (or even simple composite/xrender) hardware and drivers, there's an option to switch back to turning effects on at boot by default, but until the user checks that option, the default is off, with the effects-toggle-hotkey available to turn them on, if desired.
Sadly you're on to something: The shift towards GNU/Linux on the desktop has slowed down. Personally I think it's beacause as far as the general public is concerned everything happens on the web, so the OS is irrelvant.
Another reason I see for espcially GNU/Linux ( compared to the *BSDs) failure is the constant and neverending announcements of new distros. As Rob Pike of Bell Labs said in 2001: "Microsoft succeeds not because it’s good, but because there’s only one of them. Division leads to wasted effort and political infighting, limiting the success." His paper "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The UNIX Legacy" is still worth considering.
Now, a bit more direct. I use kde4.7 on a daily basis, and it works better then 3.x ever did, so I guess we use it differntly.
The (graphics)drivers on Linux are a mess, no doubt about it. Currently running nvidia-binary as it offers best battery life on my laptop. I find the binary blob to actually work rather well, but I do sorly miss native randr.
Cups also just works for me :)
It's interesting that a lot of the tablets on sale are running some version of Linux, although as locked down as they are they kinda' miss the point of open source software anyway imho.
interesting thoughts you have, andi. what i want to disagree is this 'too diverse' point, though.
its true, most users dont want to surf for months before they choose a distro. but that is the advantage ubuntu brought into the linux area. it was my first linux distro, and i was and am a noob. there, this argument of grahic cards etc comes into play. i will never forget the feeling, when i replaced xp with hardy and thought: oh my, so fast, so many free programmes, so... meanwhile, im using fedora xfce because i knew, my pc wont support ubuntu anymore.
i also dont see the weekly announcements of new distros, but read about not continued distros several times a month.
when i am looking for a single distro for all of my unique machines, i fail instantly. debian and fedora could be the solutions, but fedora is stopping support of some areas and its intervalls are nerving for me, debbian i just fail with the download site.
and all the rest: there is no xfce preconfigured distro, based on rather easy linux derivatives, which i can deal with in a reasonable amount of time. all of this many many new distros are just some sort of ubuntu with another musicplayer (no mplayer.....no ffmpeg...no quod libet...) or a server with another apache. specialized for special uses anyways.
when someone thinks over switching to linux, he just looks on the 3 most well known names and chooses one of them and is happy, that he also can change to another distro - in theory. it wont work, it wont be that easy, it just is not true but maybe ubuntu, mint and fedora spins.
before i try on gentoo, slackware or puppy linux, i have to get vacations and holidays for it. puppy is rather odd and cool, btw, tried it during my last vacation of a week.
fedora xfce is just like i like it, but doesnt run on 2 of my 3 machines. and i still have troubles with debians download pages and gentoo, its dangerous, you know...and i just use the commandline sometimes and a package manager slightly enjoying it, not as a developing knowledgewonder.
summarized, this too many distros argument is like this too many windowmanagers point of view. its rather not true, it reduces per usability for non-geeks, they are not known within windows users, its reduces per does it work trial and error, it reduces in amount of work and before that study you have to invest. you even surf for days to find a somewhat still existing distro to ur likening.
while i think, some sort of desktop systems and local storage will ever exist, im amazed by the non-diversity i found as a noob looking up just another possibility.
Yeah, a couple of years ago I liked running gentoo with kde3 and amarok1 on my old desktop with AthlonX2 and 512RAM. It was looking very pretty and running very fast, much faster and smother then windows, I considered it nearly perfect.
And what I can see now? KDE4, amarok2 and company are damn slow on my pretty new desktop with Quad core cpu and 4G ram. KDE itself consumes 800mb of memory, amarok2 uses 600mb more and I have 3 database instances spawned by kde, plus crappy nepomuk/akonadi which cannot be disabled. And I got display artifacts everywhere in kde. Needless to say this is all feel very slow on my quite fast system.
For sure Linux has made a lot of progress in recent years. We have dropped kde3, gnome2, amarok1 (yeah amarok1 is my favorite app in linux), hal and developed lots of awesome replacements. We have developed new system services which require /run and /usr to be present during early boot. But are those an improvements at all? I don't think so.
Let me ask a provocative question (which I don't know the answer to): Why do you want more users? It is my impression that most of the tech-savy/nerd people already use Linux, and that's the people who are most likely to send patches, report bugs, etc. Since there is no product that we sell, more users don't need to mean that things are getting better. I'm also tired of the complaining about KDE-4. If it's bad, don't use it. There is clementine, there is XFCE, openbox, the ecosystem is diverse and it works really well for a lot of people. I don't care about the state of "the Desktop" in general. My Desktop is fine.
To be honest, I didn't plan to say something this harsh but people who write comments like #4 are the cancer that will kill Linux on desktop and probably all open source in the long term.
In one sentence the problem is this: developing open source software is not taken seriously
It has gotten better in recent years (or maybe no one takes me seriously anymore) but just few years ago submitting a bugreport without a patch equalled gurgling some delicious koolaid right down your throat and god forbid you made some unprofessional, you know, luser-like bugreport. And I still often encounter software where experienced and professional developers clearly don't give a shit about lusers - can't reproduce/not-a-bug/will-not-implement (sometimes the right answer) or the very worst of them all - nothing as in plain ignorance - why even have a bugtracker?
And above all else - open source is something done in free time by bored teenagers or students and you better be damn grateful for the shit you're given or gtfo and do better - pretty much the opinion of commentator #4 and his homies.
While I agree with your points and your general conclusion, I'm using Linux on the desktop every day with Linux and I find it to be working really well.
I think a lot of people criticizing unity just don't want change - but the unity task bar is just a different flavor of Windows 7/Vista's or OS X's task bar (one icon for one app, etc.), so this is no Linux "experiment".
The dashboard that can be used as a "system command line" by typing file names or command names does have a couple of bugs but it's still working for me.
Also, let me point out a positive things that has happened in the last years: Because everything is on the web now, the native clients to these web apps often come in Linux flavor. Examples: Dropbox, Crashplan, many independent games (which are rising in popularity), Google Chrome (or other Google software for that matter), Adobe AIR (as a platform for many apps)
I've actually seen several articles on the subject of MS /supposedly/ not seeing Linux as a threat any longer. However, I've not followed them particularly closely, as I've come to care rather less about MS and /whatever/ it does (other than patent-threats, etc) than I used to... much like someone gradually cares less about the old city they moved away from a decade ago, except this is Internet time so it's more like what, a half-century ago IRL... that I left MS. Thus, I've not really paid that much attention to them other than reading the headline and intro-blurb in my feed-reader. However, look at LXer, H-Online, LWN, Raiden's Realm, etc, for coverage, as that's the related feeds I read.
One thing pointed out by at least one article (multiple feeds often cover the same article so I don't know whether it's more than one as again, I've not been actually visiting the articles) is that while MS no longer headlines Linux as such, they definitely mention Android and "the cloud", much of which is Linux-based. Further, given their "open-interface" PR, we know Linux is definitely hurting them in the cloud, or they'd not be bothering with it. And obviously Android is mixed for them, since they're known to be getting more revenue off of Android patent licenses than they are off of their own mobile OS. The point there was that it's quite possible that MS has decided that Linux is best left unnamed, as such, but of course due to the laws, etc, that trigger this forward-looking report int eh first place, they still do mention it by other names, Android, etc.
Whatever. As I said, I don't follow the MS stuff as closely as I once did, as it has little relation to my current reality, any longer. I've been off of servantware for nearly a decade now, and what servantware and its masters do simply doesn't matter to me as much any more.
Netbooks: I "got mine while the gettin' was good", as they say. Generation 1.5, 9" 1024x600 so bigger than the first ones but still very portable, SATA connector with 120 gig shipped hard drive (I had always wanted a 100+ gig freedomware loadable pmp and that's part of what this was for me, so 100-gig+ was a must), and perhaps most importantly, the gma450 graphics, still, before Intel flubbed it big time with the gma550 which was outsourced without getting the necessary rights to be able to free the graphics, but that's a mistake they aren't likely to make again! I had to order from Canada since they didn't seem to ship them in the US with Linux, and I'd have simply done without rather than pay to be an MS statistic, but it was the right decision and timing, before MS "partnered with" and thus destroyed the competition as it has done so many times, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
But technology moves on, and the multi-cores with integrated on-chip graphics (Intel Sandybridge and AMD Fusion) could well take the place of the netbooks, AND UNLIKE some of the interim stuff, they BOTH have good freedomware drivers support. =:^) But I don't really know what the pricepoint comparisons are, tho, or if they come in suitably portable sizes.
Desktop as a playground instead of a work environment: Unfortunately, I gotta agree with you here. Fortunately, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, as KDE at least, seems to have learned at least /some/ of its lesson, and the qt5/kde5 plans aren't NEARLY as disruptive. (FWIW, gnome's not much of an option here, too much "but the (l)users are scared of config options and it kills our branding too" policy.) Still, the state of the current desktop IS pretty sad, to a very large extent /because/ of such "it's our toy and we don't care if it breaks for you" attitudes.
Akonadi: This is kdepim's domain. Pretty much any kdepim packages either use the akonadi middleware now or soon wil. This is why I recently dumped the kmail I'd been happy with for nearing a decade (since 2002, kde2 era, when I first switched from MS/MSOE), when they converted it to akonadi with kdepim 4.6 (unstable) and 4.7 (mainstream targeted). Unfortunately, even on Gentoo where such things are normally optional, the as yet unconverted akregator, which thus didn't require akonadi on its own, was still pulling in kdepim-common-libs, which depended on akonadi. So I switched feed-reader software too.
That allowed me to drop akonadi and to set USE=-semantic-desktop, thus allowing me to drop nepomuk, strigi, redland, raptor, virtuoso-server, etc.
My kde4 runs MUCH leaner and cleaner now. Honestly, I was rather shocked at how much of a difference it made! I felt like the folks just coming off of MS with their real-time anti-virus software scanners! It felt like I just did a 500 MHz or two-core upgrade! I'm not kidding!
I actually enjoy running kde4 now, without all that bloated crapola loaded and loading down my system. FWIW, I freed about 10 gigs of disk space from those stupid database indexes, too.
So if you want to be rid of akonadi, drop kontact, kmail, knode, knotes, akregator, kaddressbook, kalarm, korganizer, kjots, and blogilo... all kdepim-based apps, and cleanup the dependencies (setting various -use flags on Gentoo as appropriate), and at least on Gentoo, you should be able to. (I expect you can on the binary distros to, at least as far as running akonadi, tho you might have to have it installed on binary distros, which will have been built with support for it and thus linked against it.) Again, at least on Gentoo, that should allow setting USE=-semantic-desktop as well, if desired -- it's forced on if akonadi and anything that depends on it is installed, due to [semantic-desktop=] dependencies that probably should be [semantic-desktop?] dependencies (see flameeyes' blogpost from back in July
Driver problem: I can't see how you can say it hasn't changed in years. Yeah, there's often problems with the newest stuff; that might not have changed, but two of the big-three desktop graphics hardware providers are cooperating with the freedomware folks now, and the third one is to some extent being reverse-engineered around. With sandybridge, people were throwing a fit because even tho support was shipping in the current kernel at release, it wasn't available in most shipping distros yet, because they're generally 3-9 months behind (at best). Yeah, that's not ideal, but how does that /even/ compare to having to wait YEARS for support, or shop the clearance racks for supported hardware (Radeon 9200 being the best with FLOSS support for years), as was the case for quite some time? Yeah, people still need to make the choice between the best proprietary-driver gamer's support (but generally those games are proprietary anyway, so obviously the people running them haven't a problem running proprietary), or the best freedomware support, but that has always been the case, and at least there's reasonably current hardware freedomware driver support now, for one to choose if they desire. That's FAR better than it was only a couple years ago, or even only one year ago!
The same applies to wifi. There's open drivers for pretty much everything now. How different that is from a few years ago!
And for pretty much everything else, surprisingly often it /does/ "just work". Yeah, there are exceptions, but there's exceptions in the MS world too, believe it or not. Actually, it seems to be that MS has the bleeding edge support, because (proprietary) drivers for it ship with the product, while Linux seems to have rather better older hardware support. There's quite a lot of older hardware the Linux supports "out of the box" that isn't supported by current MS, and probably won't be ever again, because its legacy hardware the manufacturers quite shipping and quit spporting years ago. But consider this, with Linux, all most people need to do is wait a bit, and their formerly too new hardware is now supported, while with MS, all waiting a bit does is make the hardware older and more stale and even less supported by the current platform. And there's a bonus, too. The older hardware (as long as it's not TOO old, but we're not talking THAT old, just often 6-9 months behind leading edge... except when Linux IS the leading edge, as with USB-3, for instance, which Intel brought up on Linux and where Linux thus had support before pretty much anyone else!) tends to be cheaper, too. Why pay $400 for a leading edge graphics card when the best freedomware support is for the $50-100 range that was $400 a couple years ago?
So um... if you think the hardware situation isn't better, perhaps you're too close and simply can't see the forest for all the trees.
Desktop losing share -- overstated: I agree with you here. If you look at the numbers, desktop/laptop/netbook formfactors, at least combined, seem to actually be continuing to grow shipments -- it's simply their /share/, both money and mind, as opposed to small-form-factor mobile, that's shrinking.
OTOH, Thomas has a point in comment #4, and it's actually a point of debate ATM. At what cost are we willing to "win" the world? There's some that say market share is the ultimate goal. I say hogwash! If we have to sacrifice the freedoms Linux is built upon to get that share, of what worth will it be? While I know from my own experience that trying to push someone when they're not ready to make the move will ultimately fail (I credit my successful switch to Linux and off of servantware in part to the fact that I refused to let anyone prematurely push me over, so when I DID finally make the switch, I was ready for it and there was no turning back) and thus would never presume to force the choice on anyone else, when I left servantware, it was for good. I'm not going to accept servantware flash or nvidia graphics drivers, and from my viewpoint, if we're making tradeoffs that accept servantware at that level as the price to pay for market share... I'd frankly rather stay at few percent we're at or even lose share, than to accept servantware as part of the price to be paid. Because the moment we do, we're on the way toward another MS holding us in bondage, only now on the Linux side, and when that happens, our freedoms once again gone, well, we might as well have stayed with the MS we had and avoided the hassle.
Yes, it's nice to have enough share that the OEMs are beginning to pay attention (and they are, the hardware situation IS different, now), and it's nice to have enough share that Linux developers can get paid to work on stuff they may very well be doing in their spare time anyway, only slower as there's more stuff vying for that time than for dedicated paid time, but there was a time when pretty much the entire FLOSS community was volunteer hackers doing it in their spare time, and we not only survived it but grew by leaps and bounds during that period. If necessary, we can survive it again. As long as there's a critical few interested, the freedomware world won't come to an end just because the market share evaporates and with it all the commercial sponsorship money. If it comes to the choice, better that and keeping our freedom, than selling out our freedom even if it were to mean 100% marketshare!
 Servantware: My mailing list sig includes this Richard Stallman quote, providing the context for that label:
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master -- and if you use the program, he is your master."
I agree with point 2 regarding the driver problems.
I have a ati radeon hd 2400 graphics card. I have had it for a few years, and have also been running slackware from 12.2 to present version 13.37. In short the graphics have gone down hill. In 12.2 there were no artifacts on the screen with the opensource driver and I could install the propriety ati driver without causing problems. Either way dri and opengl would work fine. As soon as slack13 came out the problems began. There are artifacts over the screen when using the opensource driver and when using the closed source driver opengl is borked. Also the opensource driver with kms enabled is just so slow - so that gets disabled.
I have complained to the slackware gurus and have pointed out to them that there os is as good as the software they they include, and in turn is dependent upon how much effort toward perfection the original developers of an application deem is necessary to achieve perfection. In short I told them to do more testing. Did you know that for a long time spamassassin-3.3.1 was incompatible with latest perl. But the slackware developers included the latest perl without testing.
Its not just slckware though when it comes to the graphics. All distros have gone down hill and I am seriously considering abandoning linux for windows or even osx.
Just a report from an enduser perspective: A friend bought a new PC which was a special offer from a food discounter. I thought, that I would be very difficult to install Ubuntu on it due to normal delays in supporting new hardware which I often experienced in the past. To my surprise, everything worked perfectly, including TV. Then I recommend to buy an HP printer, because they support Linux quite well. And again: Nearly everthing with the wireless multi-functional printer, scanner, fax etc. device worked perfectly (except duplex printing).
I have chosen Unity Desktop for my friend, because I find it very pleasant for pure users with no technical skills. My friend liked Unity very much, although there are some weird effects on really big screens (searching for the menu, because it is now part of the screen window on the upper edge, not of the application window anywhere on the desktop). But this is due to it origin from netbooks and will hopefully be solved during next versions.
What do we need?
First, determine the target user groups. Second, position the distros according to this spectrum. And go.
I think, that there are a lot of distros for the spectrum from hackers to quite skilled users, who are at least able to fix usual problems on their own. And this is fine, because the first motivation to hack is to hack what the hacker likes. But I am sure, there is also a motivation to help others to be able to easily use GNU/Linux, because in the long run we need a healthy and creative environment of a whole spectrum of users.
However today, there are only a few distros (or distro flavors) for the other 99% of users. I think, with the decision for Unity Canonical goes in the right direction. Of course, the driver support has to be improved, but this is a chicken-egg situation: The more users use linux, the more will drivers be developed for linux from the manufacturers, including free drivers (in the sense of free software).
Thank you for presenting the questions, because what we need is a strategic debate on these issues.
On the same note - a minefield can also be just user-friendly green park.
Ideal for taking a breath or two and streching your legs.
Unless you happen to be the one that steps on the mine, ofcourse.
Then you can be in a world of hurt.
But for some reason everyone is ignoring dog poop and dead bodies all around - everyone seems to focus on nice green grass.
And if you look the pattern, you'll soon see that the happen to walk only on well beaten paths...
On a more constructive note. Desktop is probably not going anywhere, as always one can have a load of dedicated tools or one multi-tool that does it all, and that's PC. And as we all know, doing it all requires quite a lot more effort but I think it's possible. What I'm talking about is having a central server (or servers!) in each house where what used to be TV and all that dedicated heap of junk are peripheral devices of the main server. Linux can already do each of those tasks but often in a half-arsed way and they don't plan too well together - what we need is not copying windows media centre edition, what we need is being able to drive multiple and arbitrary monitor and speaker setups each with their own content and input devices on one computer without hacker level skills and obviously integrating with viable platforms like Android (e.g. being able to move "app" over from any of those screens to your mobile phone. Some will argue that it's stupid, some will say that it's already possible but for better or worse future is there and unfortunately Linux is not really ready for this - have you tried even just moving a window between X11 instances and how about having audio and user authentication following automatically and reliably?
Audio itself is in a very sorry state because even such core services are not taken seriously - I won't even start about all the sound servers and how each and every one of them is ugly, instead take PulseAudio - when will it have a DSP API? User friendly multi-channel setup (including arbitrary remaping)? An equalizer??
And don't think it's just audio - more or less every Linux susbystem is having such problems. Like why is Wayland taking so long? Okay, they need to create a new protocol and port all that stuff BUT back in 80's intial X11 took less time while being more complex. Again, it doesn't seem like open source on desktop is being taken seriously.
Lastly, security? I'll say it bluntly, assuming the crazy scenario where we actually get to be a major player, idiots are going to be using Linux, which we as I understand want, unfortunately with idiots come idiot problems and since we just made Linux idiot friendly, hello security problems. To avoid that we need to get some serious security in place, I'm talking about stuff like SELinux/AppArmor for each and every darn thing that runs, without some exceptions. And a good firewall (I'm sorry but iptables still manages to lock up my network every few days) and an even better GUI that interactively shows stuff going through your network connection.
Each on their own these are relatively small things but actually doing them all properly is something FLOSS world has not yet ever accomplished.
I think I've just stopped caring.
Not because it no longer interests me, but because the state of things are in such trash that I have no longer any joy in attempting to care about things.
I've lost the intrinsic motivation I used to be filled with.
I agree with you on the observation about the state of the linux 'desktop' ( an oxymoron as most people would disagree on that term itself).
Your decision to "switch" to gnome ( which was designed from the very beginning to restrict choice to itself) pretty much voids any arguments you can make about anything in this context.
As for Eric Raymond, he made a lot of money off of suckers, bailed from RH ( which in itself is one of the chief reasons for linux not getting uptake on the desktop, IMO - true, one cannot blame one co. but if you consider the influuence that one co. has had on the ecosystem...).
CUPS has always worked for me. CUPS is the best thing on linux desktop. It USED to be much better but the NIY mentality of RH, novell ( more like ximian/mono as they pretty much drove novell to the ground there) and canonical have hurt CUPS a little over the years- it is still the best thing linux has. No wonder printer support is one of the better stories linux on the desktop has to tell.
Regarding h/w detenction and support, you haven't the faintest idea what you are talking about - I have used linux since early 2.0 kernels - ON THE DESKTOP. Just to configure sound, you had to manually tweks the system, edit files and reboot. Don't even get me started on video drivers, scanners etc.
Today, most laptops I have bought have most of the h/w supported - video cards ( with h/w accel) and dual monitor, wifi, sound, even touchpad gestures - all this without my intervention.
I am afraid I have to diagree with the rest of your article.
Thanks for the article!
I've used various distros over the last five or six years and finally switched back to Windows full time about six months ago. Sometimes Linux works really really well, other times I'd spend valuable time fixing random issues - usually on brand new installs that would break for whatever reason...
Finally the newness of a different OS (was burned out on Windows), better security than Windows, and the other good things Linux does better than the competition were outweighed by the disproportionately large amount of time making it work drove me away. And I fix computers for a living... Does it matter if Ubuntu installs in 25 minutes flat with no need for mucking around with drivers, AV, etc, if the install drops to a GRUB rescue prompt or broken GDM after the first installation of updates? I had a regular customer I'd install Linux on his machines for that just switched to OS X because of the same problems...
Glitches are good and well, but what really sucks is much of the communities response to such stories/complaints/experiences. Usually it's something along the lines of "I never have those problems, you're doing something wrong". Almost like an inability for self criticism... Linux may run many mission critical systems I wouldn't want a Windows machine/OS doing, but if it doesn't work for the average user.... why is it hard to understand why it hasn't been adopted in home/small office segments?
I was checking Linux news stuff yesterday and just noticed for the first time the large amount of articles such as "How to install Firefox 6 in Ubuntu" showing various terminal commands. WTF? Just go to the Firefox page and download the installer.... needlessly complicated unless you're a Linux systems admin - which it seems much of the community doesn't realize most of us are not.
Competition is good, but IMO Linux for desktop, home, small office can't keep up at the moment.
I've been running Gentoo Linux since 2003, and have come to believe that it takes a special kind of person to really want to run Linux on the desktop. Personally, I love it, but I have no problems seeing why almost everybody else would consider it a nightmare.
During most of the Nineties, I worked in a team who remotely managed about 500 Unix System V servers, and learned my way thoroughly around the system. Then for a few years, I worked as an admin on Windows NT. Going from Windows 2000 to Linux on my personal desktop felt like coming home. Yes, the "Linux" desktop (which really is an oxymoron as Linux refers to the kernel) has a lot of warts, but like Lex in Jurassic Park I can say: "It's a UNIX system! I know this!"
For those who want a commercial, glossy Unix that mostly keeps out of the way, I guess that the Mac OSX fits the bill. But that isn't my idea of fun.
And now #12 shows another problem - outright lies and posing. An acquaintance of mine likes to spout the same nonsense so I know very well that it's actually BS - for example, his "hardware acceleration" is very likely that good for nothing KMS driver for AMD cards - I know for a record, my four 4 old quadcore box could outperform it using mesa, yet he claims it's working because it says "direct rendiring: yes".
If we went over other claims he made like everything working out of the box we would fount out he:
a) got lucky
b) knew what hardware to buy and what distro to run
c) actually did some subtle tweeks that experienced hacker considers non-effort while actually totally opaque and unknown to regular user
d) he was just exaggerating - if it doesn't outright crash and burn, then it's working
I think you are referring to #13, not #12 - clearly you have revealed yourself to be the poser by posting incoherent nonsense, possibly in a hurry or possibly due to senile dementia or both.
KMS is not a "driver". I use the proprietary catalyst driver - yes, it has h/w acceleration and it also does power management to the same tune as it does on winblows. I know from the desktop effects that use h/w acceleration working realtime, including effects that use anti-aliasing and h/w vsync ( video playing for e.g.).
I mail order computer h/w - I cannot even run a liveCD on it. So I do not "know" what h/w to buy in the sense I do not know that it will be fully supported on linux. In the past I had to live with some features not being supported but nowadays that is not an issue.
Outright crash and burn ? I use linux at work ( my desktop @work runs opensuse) and home. I do have a windows installation which I boot once a year to do my taxes.
I’ve switched to OS X three years ago and I never looked back. The reason is simply one of auto-configuration (or assisted auto-configuration for that matter): while I configure application servers, tweak databases and hack on various open source projects, I hate the same for beamers, printers or my graphics card. Bluntly, OS X has a competitive advantage here: while others still configuring there Linux desktop, I’ve completed configuring the first server (or something related).
I’ve used Linux before for maybe eight years or so and things got better over time but too slowly to make me stick. I'm still making a living out of stuff related to programming, so it’s not that I’m not technologically savvy enough.
But the good news for Linux on the desktop is: it doesn’t really matter anymore. More and more people don’t use a mail client, they use GMail (or even Facebook mail). They don’t need Open Office, there is Google Docs. And they don’t need a classical movie player, because there is Last.fm, Pangora or Spotify. So the average user tend to use mostly the browser to access some kind of web application. And this is where open source is really successful, see Webkit, Chromium, Gecko.
For me, Linux has won on servers, there is just nothing else (I know, I know, bold statement). It would win the mobile space (with Android, now that Web OS is dead) and it looks good as a web shell (Chrome OS that is). Then there is the much smaller space of "classic desktop": that’s something Linux could win too, by focussing on nerds. This doesn’t mean to make everything configurable (Gnome gets that right very much) but to make it stay out of the way of the user and offer a variety of "expert applications" (IDEs, scientific apps, a powerful PIM suite).
It's not just desktop, it's whole system that is in mess.
Sole fundamental reason is IMHO production model, both as for each open-source project that makes the mosaic as for distribution work.
There is far too much "tree hugging/bong smoking" mentality. In "bazaar vs cathedral" competition bazaar is still stuck at folkstories about superiority of the "bunch of bong smoking strangers with a mountain of goodwill" aprroach. But bong, as much as it does bring people close, it definitely hampers production cycle and final result.
So, in the end we end with bazillion of parts, each manufactured to different standards of quality and witho no practical tool to either influence production process or rework parts for our use.
Distros basically just assemble final product from pieces with relatively little fudge work and end result is catastrophic.
Conversation of Linux users very much resembles tireless complaining between old patients on some onkology clinic. One pacient- thousand of different ailments each day.
Distro folks would have to find some model that would enable them to use bazillion projects as a input material, which would be completely reconfigured and retested for their use.
The worst problem is the regressions, and the inability to get bugs fixed in a rolling manner. It should be possible for a user to report a bug today, get the developer to fix it tomorrow, and get the fixed version released to everyone in a week. BUT it's actually far more frustrating...bugs are ignored for ages, and when a regression is FINALLY fixed, and you update to the latest version of $DISTRO, there are a million more in place. We really need a rolling-release, with delta-rpms and yet where we can expect the end-users to run it.
It doesn't help that Gnome/KDE are completely mangling the Unix principle of small separate tools, while constantly reducing configurability and stability. Also, it's nearly impossible to get a desktop that doesn't look like a bad imitation of MacOS; I know it's only my viewpoint, but imho KDE 3.5 and Gnome/Clearlooks are far prettier than the new versions.
Finally, there are far too many distros out there, which desperately fragments the developer world...and they don't cross-pollinate enough. For example, all the distros have different bugs in their init-scripts.
Nobody seems to make a Linux for Geeks - why can't we have something technically elegant (eg the Gentoo boot process, rather than Ubuntu's hiding of the information) while at the same time expecting the defaults to "just work" (like Mandriva usually does, except when it doesn't) with at the same time having really careful and thorough testing, excellent documentation, and support (like Ubuntu does, mostly).
Why would you troll about GNOME 3 without checking it out yourself?
Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.
Probably I am the only happy Linux user here? Using the cursed KDE4.7, which on my Gentoo system, works just fine. The only part that doesn't work well is the gmail resource plugin to Akonadi. It only syncs Google Calendar correctly. Other than that, KDE is slowly getting there to my perspective.
After Windows 2000 and Vista, I switched to Linux. To me a breath of fresh air, much more choice, much more configurable, and a whole lot faster. But I agree there is certainly room for improvement:
1) The biggest problem of Linux on the desktop to my perspective is the serious lack of standardization. No two distributions are the same. Simply, if you are a hardware vendor, how are you going to make a driver that works on all Linux distributions? If you are a software vendor, how should you distribute your application, such that all Linux users can install it with a single click on a web page? If you can solve that issue, independent of the choice of desktop, you will get there.
2A) Applications. Right now, people are forced to use Windows, because most applications are Windows/Apple only, and Wine has not yet been able to solve that. For example, the map manager for my Garmin GPS runs on Windows or OSX only. TurboTax also doesn't run on Linux, and there are no alternatives for these programs..
After all these years, Wine hasn't been able to solve that. But there's almost always an Apple OSX version available these days. Since apple OSX is based of BSD, wouldn't it be easier to build an OSX emulator on Linux?
2B) Both Microsoft and Apple showed us the way. Applications make the device. That's the success of Windows, that's the success of the iPhone. And today also the success of Linux based Android.
Today, each Linux distribution has its own limited "Application store". That should be standardized like Apple's app-store. That requires that Linux gets a distribution and desktop independent API. A format like RPM, that allows both source and binary distributions. And one big central application database, where people can obtain free and non-free applications.
3) Quality control: Linux is a rock solid platform, very competitive compared to other systems. However, that cannot be said about many open source applications, and the desktops (KDE and GNOME), who's developers abandoned the old versoin, while "releasing" unfinished new ones. Also the quality of many open source applications vary a lot. A linux application store with voting system for example, could solve that.
Finally, Linux on the desktop could blossom, if there was more coordination amongst Linux vendors and desktop developers. You basically need one committy driving it. No vendor should be "free" in how the package linux.
No, you're not. I'm using Linux on a Desktop since 2003 now, tried every mainstream distro including Gentoo (currently FC15) and I've been one of the early adapters to KDE 4. Yes, there was a lot of pain at the beginning, even tried Gnome, XFCE and Fluxbox, but returned to KDE at last. The reason: It's nearly as configurable as Fluxbox, much more comfortable than any of them, and after startup (...suspend to ram... ;-) not noticeably slower. Since two or three subrelases it's pretty stable. Can't remember when it has crashed the last time.
Secondly, I'm feeling very comfortable with Akonadi. Heard a lot of cursing 'about it, but today a normal user shouldn't get in touch with it.
From a (filesystem-)performance point of view Nepomuk and Striggi are what Norton is for Windows Users, especially if you're doing a fresh install and import many files from an existing home directory. But luckily you can disable it in the system settings and it will not bother you.
I'm doing support for some other machines (friends and family members). The one thing that's really annoying and makes a head pain to most "normal" people are the different package formats. Do I need .deb or .rpm or .tar.gz? 32 Bit or 64? This is the only thing I remember that people really have problems with. Maybe main distributions should standardize some kind of meta-packaging-format which contains package names and/or URLs to the specific packages. Even Gentoo and arch would be able to integrate such a system.
Really - that is your only problem ?
How about that:
I can't print 600 dpi or more ( only 300 dpi) on NONE of my printers NONE of locations ( I have two printer servers on two location, one with Canon MP630, other with HP LJ1200 + couple of EPSON Inkjets)
Wine works VERY flakey, and intermittently - one version sort of works with some utility, and then next 10 do not.
Each window manager has its share of problems. With Xfce, I can't reboot the machine, only logout.
CD/DVD/BD burning works equaly flakey. I have made configuration with multiple burners. It used to work with 6 burners, so I could 6 DVDs in one go with cdrtools.
Now, after a few kernel and cdrkit revisions, if I start burning anything over 1 DVD at a time, it'l produce coasters with buffer underruns.
With 3 monitors and Xinerama, everything is slow as mollase, even on decent quadcore.
I can't seem to be able to mount no nfs or cifs partition on a machine that I boot from Gentoo Live DVD or that has lower kernel version than server ( notebook). Notebook moounts partitions and shows them as empty while machine, booted from DVD spews "mount.nfs4: device dos not exist" for each such attempt.
Utilities like gnome-mplayer are unpredictable. I never know how will they behave after each system update. At the moment, gnome-mplayer refuses to show picture on majority of video materials I own. But at least VLC works, at the moment.
This list is by no means exaustive. It goes on and on...
Yeah, it is.
You must admit that you have very special requirements that most normal users will never have. 6 DVDs on one machine? Never seen more than two in the wild. Of course that is not an excuse for your regression, but is not a show-stopper for the most people. Same for nfs or cifs on a gentoo live cd and the XFCE reboot error (that sound's so odd that I have to ask what system or configuration you are using. I can't believe that any main distribution would not fix such a bug).
Multiple monitors: Works perfect on three work stations in our office, both with nvidia and with intel gpus. But why do you still use Xinerama? XRandr will do this job very well, and it comes with every distribution out there :-)
Wine... well... nobody ever said it is or ever will be stable, it's a makeshift. It's unfair to list it here as you will not find a perfect unix emulator on windows, too. If you really depend on some windows-only application I think that you either shouldn't switch to linux or use a virtual maschine (no problem on a devend quadcore ;-).
Finally, printing. Well, Canon is a very special case 'cause their support for linux drivers seems to be very, very bad. Most printers from other vendors will do without any problems. If you want will support for your canon printer have a look at the proprietary drivers from TurboPrint. The work perfectly with my Canon MX700 (but next printer will be a Brother or something like that). But as you said: at least you are able to print without installing other software (ever downloaded a >100MB "driver" from HP for a simple laser printer?).
So, of course their are programs that are instable or incomplete. And problems with uncommon hardware configurations. As they exist on windows and osx, too. So this is really a bad example why linux should not make it on the desktop market.
[OT]Hanno, wouldn't you like to add a edit-within-five-minutes-function here ;-)? Please ignore the typings and wrong words, I'm tired. I'm sure you'll get it nevertheless.[/OT]
wrt to 3-monitor setup:
Well, I'm using Xinerama because I couldn't find any other way.
With two monitors it was a piece of cake, since they oculd be fitted to one card and since nVidia's TwinView covers it nicely.
With three or more, TvinView is out of the question and all of Googleable materials seemed to suggest that Xinerama is only option at the moment.
I do hope for AMD to finally offer its Eyefinity for Linux, so I could use it, but I find their driver support to be major pain in the ar*e.
If you have some decent link about non-Xinerama 3 monitor setup, I'd be thankful to have it.
wrt to CUPS:
Yes, Canon is a pain, but not only one. I can't print 600 dpi or more on NONE of my printers ( HP LJ, Epson R800 etc etc)
wrt to CD/DVD/BD Burning:
guess what- practically everyone has some unusual application. Weird thing about nature of average is that no one is actually average.
For me, system should behave as expected. If one day I can bake 6 discs at once and then few months later barely one adn I have to sift through half of the net for reason, this seriously diminishes value of such system.
Here is the newest example:
More than a week ago I promised a friend that I'll basicaly copy setup of my file/printer server on his machine.
I thout that this will take day or two at the most.
And still, I can't boot the damned thing. Kernel from LiveDVD boots fine, more or less.
My kernel goes blind just after final run-init moves the "/" and tries to start /sbin/init on it.
It can't find the console- or so it utters just before it dies.
( and yes, /dev/console exists on new root and has good permissions)
On two other servers it works like a charm.
But here- no way.
This sounds like your initramfs contains either wrong drivers or a wrong fstab. Have you tried to boot with verbose kernel messages (and disabled kms) to see the exact reason why it panic'd?
Usually you can fix this by booting a live cd (I prefer grml for this), chroot into the root fs:
$ mount /dev/sda /mnt
$ mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
$ mount -t sysfs none /mnt/sys
$ mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev
$ chroot /mnt /bin/bash
Edit /etc/fstab to ensure that filesystems are referred correctly (give attention if your fstab uses UUIDs! They probably differ from the new system!). Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst to ensure that the root parameter refers to the correct filesystem (UUIDs!). Let the system recreate the initramfs (system dependent, but if everything fails reinstalling the kernel package should do it).
But again this is a very bad example for your point. Ever tried to move a windows installation to another system or another harddrive :D?
wrt your printing problem: well... I've never had such a problem with any printer yet (but mx700). Maybe there's something really terrible wrong with your setup? Have you tried to do a complete fresh install of cups (remove cups, foomatic and HP driver packages , mv /etc/cups /etc/cups.bak and reinstall packages)? Have you tried the PPDs from HP ("hpijs") for the LJ2100?
I have written a litle script "make_initrd" :
- makes initram dir
- creates all needed subdirs ( proc,sys, dev etc )
- reads a file with a list of packages and "emerge -K" package by package into that initram dir
- filters and copies existing /etc/fstab ( adds extra /gentoo entry for temporary mount of new root and finds mounts that are to be fscked)
- copies existing /etc/mdadm.conf, so I can recreate /dev/md[012etc] before mounting them
- creates initrc that will at boot time recreate RAIDs, fsck and mount new "/" and run run-init which does the rest of the job
- makes compressed cpio blob out of everything and copies it to /boot
This means that for each new server I usually copy two extra files, one executable, other with list of packages, run one of them and Voilla - i end up with new initrd in /boot. And I get to keep initram dir, from which cpio was made, so I can inspect its content.
With this, I usually take some small USB key, loose the housing and USB connector, solder simple in-line connector on its PCB instead, plug it directly into unused USB connector of motherboard and use it as small boot disk ( it gets mounted on /boot)
wrt to chrooting from LiveDVD, I did that. It works for testing. But it is not a solution.
I am currently trying to pepper up run-inits source with couple of printfs that youd tell me what the hell is going on...
And BTW, why is firmware upload so badly documented ? It is alost as if it was some well guarded secret of local alchemists...
wrt to wine & virtualisation:
But I am using VmWare Workstation & VmPlayer 7.x.
But guess what, they won't install on new kernels.
Installer croaks and then its "Cofee, Google and Me" time once more to find a patch that someone wrote, figure out why the hell it doesn't work for me, Google out some more tries, figure out a common denominator and then work out some solution that works for me.
And no matter how many cores xyou have, virtualisation is not always elegant solution. You can't just recreate whole virtual machine along with disks, memory, I/O etc for every little crappy app that you need and want to be able to start directly from your desktop.
Oh, forgotten the LJ2100: I've used exactly this printer (with JetDirect extension) for several years, and my brother-in-law is still printing on it today. Works flawlessly. My mum's having an Epson inkjet printer. No problems (but requesting the filling level. This can be done using a command line tool, so I wrote a little dialog frontend for it).
I have LJ 1200, not 2100.
And on it, nor any other printer I have, I can't remember that I ever could print 600dpi.
I can set it and I can send the page for printing, but the actual result would be that I get only 1/4 of the page, printed in the scale 2:1 ( that is, only one quadrant of the printed page is scaled to whole A4 paper).
Not to mention whole set of other problems ( printing modes that result in nothing being printed or even demand printer reset etc etc).
For a Canon MP630 I would really love to see grandma that is able to install it without help.
It took me a few days Googling around and tens of tries...
LJ 1200: Sorry, my mistake. You absolutely have very weird problems that I never saw before. Either you have very bad luck choosing your hardware or some kind of really big configuration problem. But I think Hanno's blog is the wrong place for support discussions like this, and I'm not a cups expert, so we should stop this here. Feel free to contact me on my blog if you like :-)
Oh, my grandmas are not using any computer. But the last time I plugged a printer (do not remember the model) to an Ubuntu Laptop a little popup window asked for my password, the drivers were installed, configured and I started printing. I do not have to explain what my fellow student next to me had to do with his windows laptop to get it work, have I :-)?
1. You nailed it 100% ! That's whole point of Linux, especially Gentoo!
I have some crazy shit problems no one else has ever seen before and SI IS EVERYONE ELSE !
We should get together and like bunch of grumpy old-as-a methuzalem pensioners spend a day ( or two) complaining to each other about our unique ailments...
In this time of crisis there should be a touristic agency that could offer some group-destination-deal for a peanuts...
2. I'm not trying to abuse this list for tech support. "Theme of dilemme" is why Linux desktop is declining. Answer is, "because existing model sucks ass".
And since you formed all to familiar "works for me" choir, I raised my voice just enough to show you that you are not the satisfied mainstream with a couple of technically inept idiots, but that Linux really can suck and that is not peripheral "who cares" issue, but existential one.
You don't have to treat everyone as paying customer or blow him, but you DO have to have at least functionally equivalent solutions as a minimum so manufacturers would bother to give you tech docs for drivers etc.
Open source movement should have a real-life working SW which would really show strengths, if not outright superiority of the concept. It should use its strengths in order to LEAD the revolution, not just settle for a simple me-too imitating commercial closed sw...
3. I'll figure this one out. As old Balkan proverbs says "Depend on yourself and your horse." It surfaced a millenia ago under Ottoman reign and it's not clear whether it suggests offensive or defensive tactics ( many have died being on the wrong side of this issue ) but even now, after all these years, it still seems to be the one of the few that work, at least some of the time...
Of course Linux can suck. But Maybe gentoo isn't the best choice for ordanary users? If it works for anybody but you, maybe you just choosed the wrong distribution? To stay at grandma, I never ever would her give a gentoo system. End users should stay with mainstream didtris like Ubuntu or suse and most thinks wlill be as they're expected to be. And if they are willing to pay they'll even get profeessional support.
Thanks, but no, thanks.
One of these days I'll roll my own. At least I'd know who to bother&blame for all the crap I'll have to put up with ;o)
I stick with Gentoo because I am used to it. At least I know where to look. I tried briefly Ubiuntu, but quit after a day or so and honestly I don't have the will to spend that much time checking distros one by one until I eventually settle with "sucks the least" one.
OS is simply a platfform fo launching programs for me. And programs are simply a tools for solving problems.
If I spend significant amount time with them, I want for it to be paid.
Doing bazilionth micro-upgrade that is more likely to screw something up than improve anything lost its appeal long time ago.
Back on my laptop now (last message has been sent from android), just one last point before I go to bed:
This discussion totally misses the point. Of course there is badly supported hardware, of course you will have problems to run your windows programs and of course you might expire strange problems when doing exotic things like cloning a system to another computer.
But the point is: these are not the sort of things a normal desktop user cares about. The first question that always comes up to former windows or mac users is: how do I install software xy?
Even if you explained them how to use the package manager of their system the first step they do is: google and visit the vendors homepage. The next thing is to click on "download". And from that point on they struggle because they do not now what to download now. deb or rpm? i568? x68_64? What's that?
IMHO that's the reason why so many user's have problems with linux. Exotic hardware or drivers wouldn't be such a problem for them if you could just tell them "go do example.org, download and install the linux driver". No, you have to explain how to install it from package manager (urpmi, yum, apt, kpackagekit, whatever) or why the choosed the wrong package ("What, mum? When you doubleclick the chrome file it asks you to extract the content? Did you download the right file? Yes? Please check, does it end on .deb or .rpm? Yeah, .rpm? This is the wrong file. Please delete it, go back and download the .deb one." Had this chat two weeks ago).
If that would be the only problem, it would be solved long ago.
Heck, even Gentoo has some GUIfied version of portage frontend IIRC.
Problem is that Linux mosaic is assembled from many, many pieces without real influence on their development, QA etc.
Gentoo and others are more or less just some kind of "Tetris-type assemblers" that use a mor or less of mortar between the pieces as a filler or even glue, but don't really change them internally.
When our "famous" "Crvena Zastava" did this, their "Yugo", ended up being shot by a tank as a stunt on "Top Gear."
I don't remember seeing Jeremy Clarkson's "ear-to-ear" smile ever before that...
wrt to using randr instead of xinerama:
I don't see how this can work for you. RandR-1.4 doesn't seem to be available yet ( btw it is not in portage yet and no source available on homepage) and RandR-1.3 seems to be inadequate for the job either.
At least not, judging from the protocol description and from comments like this:
Just to be clear- I have two nVidia elcheapo cards and three monitors, which I want to be able to use under a single screen.
AFAIK only simple solution ( besides Xinerama) would be AMD's Eyefinity- of course on the card that has at least 3 DVI-capable outputs...
It is PITA not only that there is no solution, but that there is no simple, single documentation site, where Linux user could find answers to such "less simple questions"...
Maybe you're right that xrandr can't handle multihead environments with more than one graphic card at the moment. I'm using it on single cards with one monitor attached to VGA and another to HDMI/DVI.
wrt the other topics: I still don't get it why you're still using Gentoo if you're unhappy with the developer's and community's support. Gentoo's not for desktop user's, it's for people having fun to play with their operating system. People that can help themself if something went wrong. For me this was the reason why I dropped Gentoo some years ago. Bugs that don't get fixed because it "works for me", updates that could not be emerged because a stable package depends on a unstable one ( https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=244511 ) and updates that let the machine freeze on startup (https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=335763 , https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=335765 - "there has been a warning on the daemon's startup for weeks now" - yeah, everybody reads startup messages if all daemons works as expected, especially on headless servers :-/ ).
Well, bother and blame whoever you want for whatever you want. I'll stop public discussion here, seems senseless to me since neither of us will convince the other of his arguments. You may contact me privately if you want to.
I'm not blaming anyone.
headline poses a question about "sorry state of linux desktop". I'm just offering an answer- from my point of view. Not neccessarily right, of course.
Why are you treating me like some aggresive customer ?
I never took an aggressive stance against Gentoo, nor any other distro for thet matter. I never DOS-ed your servers, puiblicly agitate people against you or any other distro etc.
Old local proverb says "If you don't like it, kiss it and leave it." It doesn't apply to everything, obviously, but it certainly holds true in this case.
Under the line, I don't really have basis for complaining- it's open source and wordl is big. I can try to change it or decide to use something completely different.
So, I am not complaining in the sense of "Gentoo has screwed my life.", I am just offering an explanation:
"Linux is in a sad state ( not just desktop) because, at this point in time, it seems like a crappy product. Kind of what we used to expect from "Made in China" labeled things."
If you know that I'm wrong, GREAT. More power to you.If you feel that I might be at least partially right, then "you're just an asshole" response might not be wise.
WRT to changing distro, it would be as if I wanted to exchange my Yugo for another one, made from the same parts, just in neighbour workshop, where they might use different switches arrangement, put driving wheel on other side of the cabin etc etc or maybe decide to mount and tweak doors more carefully, so they can be closed without a sledgehammer. In other words, I'd be getting basically the same crap in different arrangement.
And wrt to that multi-head setup response, I think it demonstrates quite nicely the issue.
Every time I post a problem, I get treated if not as outsider and annoyance, then at least os an odd creature with weird problem that is almost certainly result of my doing. And usualy I get a response "You are the ONLY one on this world with this kind of problem" with quite shallow technical suggestion or explanation. Like this one, for example.
You don't even know about problems of connecting more than two monitors on one X screen but that doesn't stop you from "You are only creature with this kind of problem" advices. Things are so slow that changing between terminal tabs under X can take several seconds ( up to four on occasion ), and having one terminal running something with continuous text output totaly screws VLC or gnome-mplayer on other monitor. It's very irritating to say the least.
I fear this thread is full of misunderstandings and wrong assumptions. We caught each other on the wrong foot. I never intended to affront you. A you surely noticed I'm not a native speaker, so if you feel hurt by something that I said I apologize for this. So the simple conclusion seems to be that we both have totally different experiences with Linux on the desktop and community support.
I don't feel hurt by anything you said. It is just that those kind of remarks bring many painful memories about utterly lost days and nights.
Even more, in the beginning, I thought it was my fault, or at least linux crowd made me think so. But after a while I begun to undestand that there is some kind of Open Source elitism at play- kind of "jocks and us" polarization. Something along the lines that if you have some troubles, it must be because you are technicaly inept and need helping hand to guide you through revolution to brighter tommorow.
Don't get me wrong, I still think Open Source approach can be vastly superior to anything else, but its starting flare attracted many from the wrong crowd of technically inept posers.
So now if you don't "know" 57 languages and bazillion tools, you're kind of looser. Also, your distro has to use in critical infrastructural parts bazillion of tools, scripting languages etc, so it is "cool". Oh, and "object oriented", "introspective" etc crap.
And it is really cool if it can use virtual machine or two ( one in another ideally ) during boot.
I'm just waiting to see starting scripts in BrainFuck as a crossroad moment with Gentoo.
Fresh "adventure": After xinerama on three monitors and two nVidia cards really ruined my mental life, I decided to do something about it. Materials on the net suggested ( not just suggested, reported) that AMD's 5k and 6k cards can run three monitors each without a sweat, and some can go as high as 6 monitors.
So, I found HD 6850 at a good price. And now I am stuck with it for friggin 2 days, trying to install goddamn drivers.
Couple of points:
- there are two versions of driver: open source "radeon/xf86-video-ati" and closed source Catalyst-11.8 or "ati-drivers-11.8" as it was packaged in gentoo's package manager.
1. On the net and even youtube there are many users with three or more monitors. With many "recepts" for success- you "have to use DisplayPort" or "DP has to be centra monitor" etc etc. NONE of the receptures work for me.
2. I've lost eternity with gentoo's ati-drivers before I found that they don't install everything AMD's package does. You don't get crucial tool- "amdcccle".
And yet, it doesn't seem ever mentioned. Furthermore, there is no amdcccle package in Gentoo tree ( like there is nvidia-settings for nVidia). I had to find it in sabayon overlay. Why is this not in portage or at least mentioned as a caution ?
3. amdccle, ati--config etc are crap. They disfigure config files, so they are useable just as a starting point. I know Gentoo is not responsible for that, but really, there could be at least a page about this. As people tend to go either nVidia or AMD these days, it should be on some more visible point.
4. Why are module parameters nowhere listed and explained ? Surely I am not the only one that attempted something like this. Where are reports from others ?
5. I found statement that open sourced "radeon" module should accept whatever parameters closed sourced "fglrx" does. Well, it doesn't. Not even close.
6. Why is nowhere mentioned that one needs linux-firmware for many AMD cards and that without right firmware system will crash at the moment of the radeon module initialisation ? I've lost many hours on this.
7. Why is nowhere mentioned that configuring radeon and DRI infrastruture and framebuffer console results in crash since firmware will not be uploaded correctly from internal initramfs, even if compiled-in kernel ? Surely someone must have hit that. I'm not the only one with HD6850 and radeon driver on gentoo-sources-3.0.4 on AMD ? I've lost many hours on this.
And this is typical "Gentoo love". Googlin' around, searching, sipping through mountains of data, compiling etc - with a CD with Win drivers on my desk that would on Win64 get the job done in under 15 minutes.
Meanwhile I can be happy If I get open sourced driver to work on at least two monitors as an interim solution. With a speed of flowing marmelade, of course.
Update on that 3-monito setup thing.
I have finally got it to work. First with closed-source drivers and then, after system crashed and I decided to use open source drivers when seeking the path out of hell, I have managed to get it to work even with open source driver.
It just has to be given right parameters.
Which are not that easy to find. Just a moment before Google decided to give me the f**k-off, I have stumbled on the link where it was explained.
Finally. After more than a !?&!$%# two weeks. :o/
But this is kind of normal for Linux, right ?
Oh, and please don't let this my problem take any of your time.
This wasn't meant as "solve my problem IMMEDIATELY or Gentoo is crap".
It was posed as one of many stinking features of Linux that makes some people turn their head on go elsewhere.
I've been using Ubuntu for the past 2 months and as a total newbie, this is what I have to say about the sad state of the linux desktop: http://wp.me/p67nq-v
Although I am pretty much in agreement with the original post I do feel that it is not right to be so negative. I have been a Linux user for many years my 'preferred' OS being Gentoo - well known as the 'geeky users Linux'. It certainly takes a fair level of expertise to keep it clean and shiny (or even working properly) but it is an excellent and very powerful system - even though they keep breaking KDE etc. When asked to find an alternative OS for an avid Windows user of many years I groaned inwardly. How would they cope with for example a lack of printer, scanner drivers and Gimp instead of the beloved Photoshop? So I installed Mint and they love it. OK it's not Gentoo but its easy, the drivers work (thank you so much HP for your incredible Linux support) and it looks lovely - Gnome 3 is more stable than KDE4*. So other friends are also turning to Mint and discovering what I have told them for many years that Linux is much better than Windows. It's faster and more secure and it's free!!! Linux is not losing support but it is suffering from a lack of promotion. Some years ago when the aforementioned netbooks with Linux OS were on sale I asked a salesman to tell me why I should buy the Linux version rather than Windows version. His reply - 'I don't know. They haven't told us that' sadly says it all.
I mostly agree with you even if I don't use gnome or kde. If it is rue than Linux doesn't make promotion, this is not new, and we can see Linux in many desktop and devices like phones or mp3.
For the desktop, I fully agree with Linus Torwalds when he say, in an interview (Linux Magazine of October 2011), than the problem is most of the distributions. At the exception of Ubuntu, they just don't focus on the desktop users.
And that's true. Take Suse, that was my preferred distro with debian before I begun with gentoo, I was not able, due to some obscure licensing issues, watch a movie and get the sound. And this is typically what a desktop user want to be able to do: watch a movie with the sound of the movie -:).
Another big issue for all the pre-compiled distributions is the management of multiple depositories (the equivalent of the gentoo's overlays). Soon or later, an update will fail, eventually resulting into a broken system, and the user will be upset.
I have used Linux on a desktop since RedHat 4.2 and have used SuSE,Fedora, Gentoo and recently Ubuntu as my personal desktop. Sadly I have to agree with the OP - Linux suffers with too many regressions to be popular as Windows. Nobody has mentioned, for example, the sorry state of the sound system in Linux.
In my experience one has 3 chances of convincing someone to use the Linux desktop. After the 3rd failure the the user will switch back to Windows, Mac or a tablet of some kind and will after that never consider Linux again.
My current Ubuntu 11.04 desktop currently has no sound. I ran Gentoo on it before. After every emerge sync it was a lottery as to whether sound or adobe flash would work.
And this is just one example. Other users complain about poor support for graphics drivers, poor support for printers, the list goes on....
Additionally Ubuntu works perfectly on my Acer Travelmate laptop and I could use this to demonstrate to my friends how wonderful it is but experience has taught me never to offer to convert them to Linux - sad but true
Congrats on starting this excellent discussion!
First, I believe the chaos is good. Out of this chaos will come change. I would be more worried if nothing was happening.
Second, on the point of drivers, I would add sound. On Windows, sound just works. On Linux it's still a battle. To fix this we need either total cooperation from the hardware manufacturers or a solid set of open hardware components. I don't know if that will ever be solved, but I feel your pain.
Finally, we need to do some serious crowd-sourcing on this issue. What are the linux masses doing? Are they going minimalist with awesome and xmonad? Are they hungry for opengl? Do they want linux on a touch based device? What does the younger generation want? I know my kids do NOT want linux. I tried, but they want "shiny" and "cool". It seems even the vegan-environmental-animal-rights-types want an Apple these days.
I don't have the answers, but I love the questions.