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Ubuntu: the good and the bad

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Linux

Last Sunday, at a friend's party, someone started a discussion on the impending release of Windows 7. Most of us being from IT, it was a "hot" topic to discuss.

Before I could mention that I use Linux for 99.9% of my tasks at home and at work, a non-IT guy, said he used Ubuntu on his Sony VAIO. Predictably I was pleasantly surprised as Linux is something my friends and aquaintances know the merits of, but do not wish to (yet) deploy on their PCs or laptops.

As the conversation progressed, it was apparent that the non-IT guy had a Macbook, on which he ended up pouring his precious favourite spirit. So, he switched to Ubuntu rather than go back to Windows.

So, here is my personal analysis of what is good and not-so-good about Ubuntu:

The Good

Its great to see that almost a joe-average user decided to install Ubuntu Jaunty rather than revert to the "comfort" of Windows. This clearly implies that the user migration to Linux has started trickling. Full marks to Ubuntu for making the system easy enough.

The Bad

When I asked the guy why he chose Ubuntu, the answer was that he was used to MacOS X interface and Ubuntu provided a much similar look and feel. I couldn't help wondering if this is the cause of few Windows users migrating to Ubuntu. Take, for example, Kubuntu. It comes with KDE and (as numerous reports and rants on the internet say) provides a Windows-like look and feel.

Would the statistics for migration to Linux look any different if Canonical had gone with KDE/4 and provided a Windows-lookalike desktop? We have had 10 iterations of admittedly the most popular Linux distributions out there. Maybe its time to switch the strategy and target users who want the familiar look of Windows without its legendary ills. If that's too radical now, why not provide an option to choose the look-and-feel during installation (and during Live-CD startup) by showing the user screenshots of KDE and GNOME (looking similar to Windows and MacOS X respectively)?

Disclaimer: This is not a rant against any particular desktop, although I do prefer KDE over GNOME. Its simply offering users what they seem to want.

More in Tux Machines

Review: Peppermint OS 10

Peppermint is one of those delightful distributions which does what it says it will do. It sets out to be lightweight, easy to set up, and offer native-like access to web applications. It does all of these things and does them well. I also happen to really like the well-organized settings panel and the friendly software manager. I especially like how mintInstall makes it clear when it is working with Deb or Flatpak packages. While I'm not personally a fan of web applications, I do think Peppermint deserves full credit for making them as easy to use as possible and as native-like as it does. I may never like running my applications over the web, but for people who do like this approach, Peppermint's Ice and SSB features are excellent. Mostly though I'm a big fan of the distribution's combined LXDE/Xfce desktop. It is a mixture of components which works nicely, is fairly easy to configure, and it offers some of the best performance I have had with an open source desktop this year. There are some rough edges. The system installer threw out some errors towards the end of the setup process. Needing to logout and back in to see Flatpaks in the application menu was a pain, but not a deal breaker. On the whole I think Peppermint does a good job of feeling modern while offering good performance and easy to use tools. Read more

Linux 5.10-rc1

Two weeks have passed, and the merge window is over. I've tagged and
pushed out 5.10-rc1, and everything looks fairly normal.

This looks to be a bigger release than I expected, and while the merge
window is smaller than the one for 5.8 was, it's not a *lot* smaller.
And 5.8 was our biggest release ever.

I'm not entirely sure whether this is just a general upward trend (we
did seem to plateau for a while there), or just a fluke, or perhaps
due to 5.9 dragging out an extra week. We will see, I guess.

That said, things seem to have gone fairly smoothly. I don't see any
huge red flags, and the merge window didn't cause any unusual issues
for me. Famous last words..

The most interesting - to me - change here is Christoph's setf_fs()
removal (it got merged through Al Viro, as you can see in my mergelog
below).  It's not a _huge_ change, but it's interesting because the
whole model of set_fs() to specify whether a userspace copy actually
goes to user space or kernel space goes back to pretty much the
original release of Linux, and while the name is entirely historic (it
hasn't used the %fs segment register in a long time), the concept has
remained. Until now.

We still do have "set_fs()" around, and not every architecture has
been converted to the new world order, but x86, powerpc, s390 and
RISC-V have had the address space overrides removed, and all the core
work is done. Other architectures will hopefully get converted away
from that very historic model too, but it might take a while to get
rid of it all.

Anyway, to most people that all shouldn't matter at all, and it's
mainly a small historical footnote that 5.10 no longer relies on the
whole set_fs() model. Most of the actual changes are - as usual -
driver updates, but there are changes all over. I think the merge log
below gives some kind of flavor of what's been going on on a high
level, but if you're interested in the details go look at the git
tree. As mentioned, it's a big merge window, with  almost 14k commits
(*) by closer to 1700 people.

Please go test,

                  Linus

(*) closer to 15k commits if you count merges.
Read more Also: Linux 5.10-rc1 Released With New Hardware Support, Security Additions

today's leftovers

  • Mike Hoye: Navigational Instruments

    A decade ago I got to sit in on a talk by one of the designers of Microsoft Office who’d worked on the transition to the new Ribbon user interface. There was a lot to learn there, but the most interesting thing was when he explained the core rationale for the redesign: of the top ten new feature requests for Office, every year, six to eight of them were already features built into the product, and had been for at least one previous version. They’d already built all this stuff people kept saying they wanted, and nobody could find it to use it. It comes up periodically at my job that we have the same problem; there are so many useful features in Firefox that approximately nobody knows about, even people who’ve been using the browser every day and soaking in the codebase for years. People who work here still find themselves saying “wait, you can do that?” when a colleague shows them some novel feature or way to get around the browser that hasn’t seen a lot of daylight. In the hopes of putting this particular peeve to bed, I did a casual survey the other day of people’s favorite examples of underknown or underappreciated features in the product, and I’ve collected a bunch of them here. These aren’t Add-ons, as great as they are; this is what you get from Firefox out of the proverbial box. I’m going to say “Alt” and “Ctrl” a lot here, because I live in PC land, but if you’re on a Mac those are “Option” and “Command” respectively. Starting at the top, one of the biggest differences between Firefox and basically everything else out there is right there at the top of the window, the address bar that we call the Quantumbar.

  • FFQueue – SparkyLinux

    There is a new application available for Sparkers: FFQueue

  • How to install the PurpIE Gnome Shell theme on Linux

    PurpIE (AKA Rounded-Rectangle-Purple) is a Gnome Shell theme that turns your Gnome desktop from the basic black/grey/blue colors to a refreshing purple. In this guide, we’ll show you how to install PurpIE and set it up as the default theme.

Programming: Cutelyst, C/C++, Perl and Python

  • Cutelyst 2.13 and ASql 0.19 released – Dantti's Blog

    Cutelyst the C++/Qt Web Framework and ASql the ASync SQL library for Qt applications got new versions. Thanks to the work on ASql Cutelyst got some significant performance improvements on async requests, as well as a new class called ASync, which automatically detaches the current request from the processing chain, and attaches later on when it goes out of scope. With the ASync class you capture it on your ASql lambda and once the query result arrives and the lambda is freed and the ASync object gets out of scope and continues the processing action chain.

  • LLVM Lands Very Basic Support For AMD Zen 3 CPUs

    While AMD has landed Znver3 support in GNU Binutils, the company hasn't yet sent out patches for either the GCC or LLVM/Clang compilers in setting up the Zen 3 target with its new instructions or optimized scheduling model / cost table. But a basic implementation has been merged to LLVM for allowing "-march=znver3" based on the limited public details thus far. Merged to mainline LLVM 12 yesterday was a basic implementation allowing for -march=znver3 targeting that basically flips on the new instructions known to be supported by Zen 3. Beyond Zen 2, it flips on INVPCID, PKU, VAES, and VPCLMULQDQ. There are also a few other instructions supported by Zen 3 as outlined in this earlier article.

  • CY's Take on PWC#083 | Moments on Perl or other Programming Issues [blogs.perl.org]

    I found that I use "and/or" quite frequently in writing. I know, (mathematical-)logically we only need "or". It seems to me to be a language tricky part as the use of gender neutral terms.

  • Warning about Python3 update in latest -current | Alien Pastures

    Warning for people running Slackware-current and have 3rd party packages installed (who doesn’t) that depend on Python3. That includes you who are running KDE Plasma5! The “Sun Oct 25 18:05:51 UTC 2020” update in Slackware-current comes with a bump in the Python3 version (to 3.9) which is incompatible with software which already has been compiled against an older version of Python3 (like 3.8). I found 26 of my own packages on my laptop that depend on Python3 and they are all probably going to break when upgrading to the latest slackware-current. This includes Plasma5 ‘ktown’ packages but also several of my DAW packages.