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Author Topic: 20 New User Misconceptions about Linux  (Read 10709 times)
mwb1100
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« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2011, 04:19:14 PM »

They state that is based on freedom but fail to indicate that the freedom of the consumer is at the cost of freedom for the developer

Actually, I think the FSF is pretty clear that the GPL only imposes obligations/restrictions if you modify or distribute the software.  Really, I think the only reason that the GPL is at all complex and needs a FAQ is that without the complexity to cover all the legal 'loopholes' there would be rampant disregard for the intent of the GPL (and maybe there already is - but it would certainly be worse).  The intent of the GPL is clear: you were given certain benefits with this code, if you're going to use it in your own software then you need to pass those benefits on.

A GPL license lets you use the software however you like, wherever you like (whether it's useful there or not is another issue), and to be able to modify it if you want.  The only time restrictions come into play is when you redistribute the software, and in that situation, the GPL is intended to ensure that those same benefits you had also get passed on. Remember, the GPL was created to benefit end-users not developers/distributors. Any benefits developers/distributors see are purely a side-effect of end-user benefits.

As for using "even one line of this code in your own code" from GPL'd software , if it's only one line of code (or only a few lines of code), it's likely to be only a tiny bit more difficult to write the code yourself using whatever ideas you might need from the original code than it is to merely copy the code.  Also, even the FSF acknowledges that there's a "fair use" right to the code that's not subject to the license (though fair use isn't particularly well-defined): http://www.gnu.org/licens...s/gpl-faq.html#GPLFairUse

I'm no GPL fanatic (I do use GPL software, but mostly non-GPL software), but if you want or need to use a significant amount of code from someone else's work, you should do so under his terms.  It's nice when someone releases code under a BSD-like license, but the important thing is it's their choice.

Except for public domain or the WTFPL there aren't many software license terms that have no restrictions.

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40hz
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« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2011, 04:34:45 PM »

You can't un-GPL something later on, or otherwise try to get it back by adding proprietary elements to it. Because those will also fall immediately under GPL if you do.

This is only half correct.  Once you GPL something and distribute it, you can't remove the GPL rights that you've essentially already passed on to someone else for what they have.

However, GPL doen't remove  *your* ownership of the code (or whatever) - you can re-release the code under whatever other terms you like (even simultaneously).  As the owner - *you* are not obligated to the GPL terms for subsequent releases (modified or not).


Oooo right! I had forgotten about that. What I should have said was once you released under GPL the part that was GPLed can't be taken back and turned exclusively into proprietary.

You are quite correct when you say you may release under multiple license models . And it is true that there are products out there that do just that. My understanding was that it was mostly done (at least originally) because many corporate clients had (have?) an internal IT policy of not allowing GPL licensed products because:

  • their IT departments don't understand GPL
  • their legal department doesn't understand GPL
  • they've been told the GPL software is loaded with viruses, trojans, and backdoors
  • they've been told Linux is mostly a "European phenomenon" (?) and therefor somewhat subversive, Communist, un-American, and unpatriotic
  • they have a contract with a government agency which dictates what software may be deployed in the company the contract was awarded to. (Note: because there's often no company to go after if something goes wrong, libre software has a great deal of trouble getting "certified" for government use unless it's as part of some token "open software migration" project.
  • they're afraid the GPL may someday be ruled invalid and they'll be exposed to patent or license infringement  litigation
  • they're afraid they may be breaking some sort of law (thank you Microsoft and all the other FUDders for that - especially Steve 'Monkeyboy' Balmer for likening Linux to pirated software)

Then there's also the customer who wants to modify and then distribute your code, but still keep all its changes to itself. That you couldn't do under GPL. Although why not just don't go with the BSD license if you want to allow that is anybody's guess - unless maybe for one of the bulleted reasons above.

Of course it becomes a legal quagmire if you've licensed a commercial version, go after somebody for something, and  they haul out the GPL license you also issue. Because then you have to make an argument for how "a rose is a rose is a rose"....except here where it's also sometimes a petunia.

Judges 'love' that stuff.

So do attorneys. ($$$$)

 Grin
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 05:46:04 PM by 40hz » Logged

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40hz
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« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2011, 04:52:43 PM »

My only gripe with the FSF is their use of the phrase "FREE SOFTWARE".

That's because 'free' (as was noted earlier) is a somewhat vague word in English. (thank you Wikipedia!):

Quote
[Gratis versus libre is the distinction between two meanings of the English adjective "free"; namely, "for zero price" (gratis) and "with few or no restrictions" (libre). The ambiguity of "free" can cause issues where the distinction is important, as it often is in dealing with laws concerning the use of information, such as copyright and patents.

And you're right. It was an unfortunate word choice made by the early FSF because it depended on certain understandings that came out of the political climate in the United States at the time the FSF got started. Back then, few people would have had a problem realizing that the "free" Stallman was promulgating was the libre variety. That's how most people thought when you said "free.".


Quote
They state that is based on freedom but fail to indicate that the freedom of the consumer is at the cost of freedom for the developer.

FWIW, I think developers understand that. They're not dumb. And GPL has been around long enough that there shouldn't be any surprises about how it works any more.

And nobody is required to sign in under the GPL. It's purely voluntary. So how is that "taking freedom away" from anybody?

 smiley


-------

@rxantos - thanks for sharing those plain English summaries of the various licenses. They're quite good, and very accurate despite their brevity. Are they your own? I'd like your permission to quote them (with attribution) in the future if they are.  Thmbsup
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 05:50:26 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Paul Keith
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« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2011, 04:58:35 PM »

Quote
And nobody is required to sign in under the GPL. It's purely voluntary. So how is that "taking freedom away" from anybody?

This (but an example for Creative Commons) http://blog.internetcases...lickr-results-in-lawsuit/

Freedom also involves opt-out. Just in case, a license maker may not be fully aware of the implications.

It's something that FSF rarely address but it can't be helped. Libre impression has helped them a lot but if they really wanted to align themselves with the gratis movement - they'd replace Free with Released. Would summarize many of the licensing ignorance around. Of course "software that might be potential abandonware" isn't as catchy as "open source".

Also for GPL, there isn't as major a controversy yet as what happened with Creative Commons.
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40hz
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« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2011, 05:06:27 PM »

As for using "even one line of this code in your own code" from GPL'd software , if it's only one line of code (or only a few lines of code), it's likely to be only a tiny bit more difficult to write the code yourself using whatever ideas you might need from the original code than it is to merely copy the code.  Also, even the FSF acknowledges that there's a "fair use" right to the code that's not subject to the license (though fair use isn't particularly well-defined): http://www.gnu.org/licens...s/gpl-faq.html#GPLFairUse

Very true.The FSF is not going to go after anybody for a single line of code. Nor will they do so for multiple lines as long as the borrower keeps it within reason. They've stated that repeatedly. And their actions (or more correctly inactions) when they've run into that have proved they mean it.

The same can't be said for commercial software, where people have been sued for alleged use of code snippets and "too similar" variable or function names.

One company even got sued by a competitor because the competitor claimed the structure of its program was similar enough to the competitor's that it constituted a 'theft' of their IP despite the fact that not a single line of code had been duplicated.

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40hz
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« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2011, 05:42:45 PM »

Quote
And nobody is required to sign in under the GPL. It's purely voluntary. So how is that "taking freedom away" from anybody?

This (but an example for Creative Commons) http://blog.internetcases...lickr-results-in-lawsuit/

Let's not mix things for this discussion. GPL is GPL. CC is CC. (And not a license.)

They're two different things that work under two different legal theories. So what goes with one doesn't necessarily follow with the other.

Quote
Freedom also involves opt-out. Just in case, a license maker may not be fully aware of the implications.

I believe in some form of early opt out for most things. Unfortunately, the US legal system doesn't agree that that's a sufficiently necessary contract clause such that it should be made universal and mandatory.

In our legal system, the rule has always been to expect any person who would be deemed mentally competent to exercise due diligence and good faith before signing a contract.

In short, know what you're signing before you put your name on it.

Quote
It's something that FSF rarely address but it can't be helped. Libre impression has helped them a lot but if they really wanted to align themselves with the gratis movement - they'd replace Free with Released. Would summarize many of the licensing ignorance around. Of course "software that might be potential abandonware" isn't as catchy as "open source".

I don't think they're all that interested in aligning with the "gratis movement." Stallman was a professional programmer. So were most of the people who put FSF together. Their intent was not to destroy the opportunity for a programmer to make a living. What they wanted was for software development to be allowed to occur in the same manner it had previously occurred. Which is to say via the free and unrestricted sharing of what has today come to be known as intellectual properties. FSF's attitude was that the free exchange of code, techniques, and ideas they had experienced (mostly at MIT) was what allowed so much of what was accomplished (and in such a short time) to happen in the first place.

They were right too.

Right now, advances in medicine and genetic research are starting to become hampered by the information silos that are going up as fast as the companies and universities can erect them around the researchers.

Quote
Also for GPL, there isn't as major a controversy yet as what happened with Creative Commons.

Probably won't be either. FSF spent a huge amount of time and legal effort ironing out the bugs and closing the loopholes as the were identified. There's case law in the US and EU that now supports the terms of the GPL and the legal premises it's based on. Creative Commons got put together a little too loosely and quickly for its own good. It's now starting to feel some growing pains as a result.

The case you mentioned will probably be dismissed since it's fairly obvious the plaintiff's attorneys don't have a clue what creative commons is. I think their lawyer thinks creative commons is some sort of stock photo service or licensing agency.  undecided

No problem. The pain will pass and the Creative Commons will emerge both strengthened and invigorated by its ordeal.

 Thmbsup
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zridling
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« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2011, 11:31:09 PM »

It's a lot like some hardcore Linux users. They are so closed to converting users into Linux. Just a little bit more attitude towards gratis than closed club house preacher and RTFM could have easily been WWWTM (What's wrong with this manual?) ...and Linux users would have an easier time converting people just a tiny bit and making up for all the shortcomings of Linux but only a few do that and we get this circular argument where valid arguments become cliche arguments just because the source of the concept becomes hijacked by the wrong fundamentalists on a cult level.

Where are these mythical, horrible Linux people you speak of? Maybe that's "misconception #21." The only time I've seen vitriol is in Linux usenet groups that Microsoft employees regularly troll and spam. They are much harder on each other than outsiders. And if I need not use the command line anymore, there's no need for a effing manual. Otherwise, in five years I've not encountered the hardcore, closed, cult, preachy, fundamentalists.
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zridling
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« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2011, 09:35:03 AM »

LifeHacker does an article this week titled: Getting Started With Linux: Why Install Linux?
http://www.lifehacker.com...-linux-why-install-linux/
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« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2011, 04:28:44 PM »

the biggest problem with Linux, OpenOffice and relative project is that they are created not in order to bring innovation, but to resemble as much as possible to Microsoft products

for example, the main feature of OpenOffice is that "it looks so much like MS Office, it has increase compatibility with MS Office, it can do many of the things MS Office does, etc", instead of bringing a totally new innovative interface, totally new features, totally new and better file handling, memory handling, etc

so, who would use OpenOffice? only a geek that wants to create and use something that MS already has created (just like a university thesis: create an MS Office clone) or only users that want to use something different from MS Office, because they hate MS or because they don't have money for MS Office

the biggest challenge OpenOffice, Linux, etc must overcome is this:
a user thinks that doc documents are meant to be opened and edited by MS Office, why would he use OpenOffice for it, even it advertises that it is fully compatible?
consider Nvidia's slogan: Nvidia - the way is meant to be played. you can play games with other graphics cards, with emulators and so on, but it's not the way they meant to be played
you can use Linux and install Wine in order to run MS Office, right... does this sound clever?

ofcourse Linux has some advantages, eg possible faster startup, possible fewer reboots, etc, but these don't even touch everyday usage of an average user, in order to consider them a real advantage

all these thoughts from a user that has tried many many distros, window managers, OpenOffice from years ago, and find out how they fail to bring innovation and make the user think, I will definately switch to these alternatives

ofcourse these do not apply to numerous opensource projects are innovative and have real advantages
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zridling
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« Reply #34 on: March 04, 2011, 05:07:05 PM »

Glyn Moody has more on all the GPL/open source FUD making the rounds these days -- More Fun with Anti-Open Source FUD:
http://blogs.computerworl...open-source-fud/index.htm
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zridling
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« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2011, 05:33:29 PM »

the biggest problem with Linux, OpenOffice and relative project is that they are created not in order to bring innovation, but to resemble as much as possible to Microsoft products... so, who would use OpenOffice? only a geek that wants to create and use something that MS already has created (just like a university thesis: create an MS Office clone) or only users that want to use something different from MS Office, because they hate MS or because they don't have money for MS Office
Interesting perceptions, but for the most part, OpenOffice died once Oracle bought Sun last year. From now on, we'll say LibreOffice. Microsoft didn't invent the word processor or the spreadsheet or the database or the email program. So why would Microsoft create something that had already been invented and done (WordPerfect, Lotus, dBASE, etc.)? Not everyone wants to use Apple. Not everyone wants to use Microsoft. Some of us want that alternative. And when taxpayers don't have to fund their software through large corporate contracts, it's a big savings for everyone.

the biggest challenge OpenOffice, Linux, etc must overcome is this: a user thinks that doc documents are meant to be opened and edited by MS Office, why would he use OpenOffice for it, even it advertises that it is fully compatible? Consider Nvidia's slogan: Nvidia - the way is meant to be played. you can play games with other graphics cards, with emulators and so on, but it's not the way they meant to be played you can use Linux and install Wine in order to run MS Office, right... does this sound clever?
I don't quite follow your Nvidia reasoning; I hope you don't take marketing/ad copy literally! In 2011, not too many .doc files are thrown around anymore and MS-OOXML files (MSO-'07>) are almost nonexistent on the web. I don't know of any other office suite that cannot open an old .doc file. Linux users are not confused by this.

ofcourse Linux has some advantages, eg possible faster startup, possible fewer reboots, etc, but these don't even touch everyday usage of an average user, in order to consider them a real advantage
I agree.

all these thoughts from a user that has tried many many distros, window managers, OpenOffice from years ago, and find out how they fail to bring innovation and make the user think, I will definately switch to these alternatives
You need to try them again this summer! It depends on how you use your computer. There is lots of innovation between the two big window environments, and KDE brings far more flexibility and advanced features than Windows 7 has. That said, for me it's fluff; I don't use them. Most of my computing is centered on utility and efficiency -- most of my time is spent inside a text editor and browser. But I'm not average by that measure.

ofcourse these do not apply to numerous opensource projects are innovative and have real advantages
Can you name a few that you find innovative and advantageous? I'm curious. Chrome browser is the big one lately. To quote Glyn Moody:
Since the code base is open, companies can - and do - start tweaking it to make it “better” - where the metric for that improvement will vary from company to company. For some it might be speed, for others security, for yet more it might be a small footprint and so on. These different versions then compete in the market and Darwinian selection allows “better” versions to survive and thrive. That's shown most clearly in the world of GNU/Linux distros, which do indeed start from the same main code base, but then split off in hundreds of different ways - this incredible diversity is part of the huge strength of the open source ecosystem. In any case, since open source programs nearly always use open standards - unlike many proprietary products - it is much easier to create new codebases that support those standards than it would be if proprietary standards dominate. (http://blogs.computerworl...open-source-fud/index.htm)
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 05:35:28 PM by zridling » Logged

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f0dder
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« Reply #36 on: March 04, 2011, 06:14:29 PM »

And when taxpayers don't have to fund their software through large corporate contracts, it's a big savings for everyone.
<tongue-in-cheek>Except when it ends up more expensive because of re-training, hiring expensive linux consultants, and not being able to handle stuff in-house because the documentation sucks.</tongue-in-cheek>
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« Reply #37 on: March 04, 2011, 06:22:36 PM »

most of my time is spent inside a text editor and browser. But I'm not average by that measure.

That's the key, I think. In general, enthusiasm for Linux is a function of your user profile. If most of what you do all day is use a text editor and a browser, it really doesn't matter what OS you use. Why would you spend money on an OS for those purposes? For most computer users, the issue is more complex.
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« Reply #38 on: March 04, 2011, 10:21:07 PM »

hiring expensive linux consultants

Wot? I do most of my Linux 'consulting' gratis. I didn't know we were allowed to be expensive consultants! huh

Hmmm...thanks for the tip f0dder.

 tongue
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« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2011, 03:44:52 AM »

That's the key, I think. In general, enthusiasm for Linux is a function of your user profile. If most of what you do all day is use a text editor and a browser, it really doesn't matter what OS you use. Why would you spend money on an OS for those purposes? For most computer users, the issue is more complex.

True, I can't argue that. One thing I liked about this particular cliche-titled article was the author's criticisms of Linux. My extra-curricular PC activities are spent among a few social media, youtube, and playing chess. But all of those are done within the browser. Otherwise, I'm mining data in a text editor. Yet the only thing I miss -- but don't use -- is Photoshop. If I want flash and sizzle, I can have it in spades on Linux. However johnk, let me ask: what do you (or most computer users) on the computer that complicates it? Just curious, not critical.
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« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2011, 06:54:09 AM »

I'm guessing it's mostly games that are what makes it more complex?  smiley



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« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2011, 10:47:45 AM »

I'm a card carrying Free Software advocate but it doesnt mean we can't what is wrong in the GNU/Linux setup for the desktop

- 64 bit isn't quite there yet and that is a weakness compared to windows
- X is a mess. seriously. window managers and display managers and desktop environments in mix and match, drivers and configurations. Can be a nightmare once anything goes a litle wrong...
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zridling
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« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2011, 09:09:02 AM »

- 64 bit isn't quite there yet and that is a weakness compared to windows
- X is a mess. seriously. window managers and display managers and desktop environments in mix and match, drivers and configurations. Can be a nightmare once anything goes a litle wrong...

What am I missing? I've not had these [bad] experiences running 64-bit Linux for several years now. I use KDE 4.6: no nightmares there, either. Not saying problems don't happen, just that one's vague claims of terrible-ness has not been true to my experience since '06.
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40hz
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« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2011, 09:27:32 AM »

Like zridling, I haven't run into any showstopper issues with 64-bit distros for quite a while now. But I stay fairly mainstream with what I install. And I'm also slightly behind the most recent curve for hardware. So finding drivers or workarounds usually isn't a problem because of it.

Guess it all depends on each person's setup.


re: the state of X

Agree. Development efforts  are currently going through a bad patch. I'm optimistic however. They've been through this before. Eventually, they'll either get it all worked out, or fork (again) - and may the best approach win.  

And if not, X will go the way of all flesh, and something else will come along to replace it. "No tears in heaven" as Eric said.

Right now, it looks like it's just another change in the weather - and one more squall to ride out.  smiley

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@iphigenie - Hi! Nice to see your moniker gracing the forum again. It's been a while.  smiley
  
« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 09:35:32 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2011, 08:36:10 PM »

However johnk, let me ask: what do you (or most computer users) on the computer that complicates it? Just curious, not critical.

It's basically down to available software. You mentioned one example (Photoshop). I do use it, and there is no Linux program that comes close. But it's only one example of programs I use where I struggled to find Linux alternatives of an equivalent standard. Still in the photographic area, there's IdImager (industrial-strength photo organiser), and pro-level photo downloader/tagger/renamer Downloader Pro.

In general utilities, I couldn't find a Clipboard manager of the quality of Clipcache Pro (much more than a clipboard manager really - contains several years worth of web clippings and other data in a robust database). And even in the area where Linux is supposedly at its strongest, I still didn't think the best file managers matched Directory Opus. And is there a Linux RSS reader as good as FeedDemon? A high-volume CD ripper/converter as good as dBpoweramp? The list goes on.

Perhaps this is being unfair, but I sometimes think of Linux as a first-class OS with very limited software -- and Windows being the other way around! (to be fair, Win7 has been a huge leap forward).
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« Reply #45 on: March 09, 2011, 06:05:00 AM »

Like zridling, I haven't run into any showstopper issues with 64-bit distros for quite a while now. But I stay fairly mainstream with what I install. And I'm also slightly behind the most recent curve for hardware. So finding drivers or workarounds usually isn't a problem because of it.

It is very possible but we have to note the following
- as far as I know all distros default to 32 bit and you have to search to get the 64 bit. Not the case on windows anymore
- many drivers are 32bit only, even some of the free software ones need to be compiled 32 bits, but that is getting better
- in order to use all the standard tools many people would expect you need to get compatibility libraries etc. on. And in order to do that, since it is not done by default, you need to be rather technical. (which explains the point above, why distros dont offer it as standard)

http://erratasec.blogspot...world-domination-201.html made me notice that point smiley I was using 64bit on one machine and 32bit on the games machine without thinking about it... (and whining about the memory limit i was getting on the games machine...)

re: the state of X

Agree. Development efforts  are currently going through a bad patch. I'm optimistic however. They've been through this before. Eventually, they'll either get it all worked out, or fork (again) - and may the best approach win.  

And if not, X will go the way of all flesh, and something else will come along to replace it. "No tears in heaven" as Eric said.

Here's to hoping - but frankly fragmented as the community is I cant imagine it happening. Any one group that would try would get slammed by the rest (Ubuntu got slammed for even wanting to do their own wm! imagine if they wanted to rethink X!)

It does stop people from feeling comfortable starting with linux on the desktop - heck, i get put off and confused with the desktop situation, whenever I try - and I try often.

Chose a distro and a desktop environment - lots of choice - try a few live ones or let a friend pick. That's the EASY part. Then trying to determine what apps are there that do X Y or Z then trying to figure out whether they can easily run on what desktop environment and what the impact is. This app is gnome, this one is just GTK, that one QT, that one KDE, that one E17... what happens if I install an app made for one on the other, will it affect my performance or stability? What if the best photo manager is kde but the best screenshot taking tool is gnome? how to proceed?

You get that situation for every step and every tool and task when you start on the linux desktop. It gets to the point where you end up having choice overload...

(note that this confusion carries on to audio as well, which X is not to blame for but each program only works with a set of audio layers etc. and it is WORK to get stuff set up to all cohabitate happily... that's alot of stuff to have to waste human brain cycles and memory on just to be sure that the music player you download will actually work with the other audio stuff you already have set up...)

diversity is great, but it is also confusing, alas.

@iphigenie - Hi! Nice to see your moniker gracing the forum again. It's been a while.  smiley

Thanks for the welcome back smiley I have been eaten by work (big projects and lots of travel) and finding it hard to cope with basic life organisation and keeping up with things. Didnt stop me from installing and/or buying more software than I need, though, these addictions never go away. But I am behind on admin, keeping in touch with people (not good), calling people, and all sorts of hobbies have fallen by the wayside. Getting better.
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40hz
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« Reply #46 on: March 09, 2011, 07:18:01 PM »

Thanks for the welcome back smiley I have been eaten by work (big projects and lots of travel)

Forgive me if I'm faux envious. Grass is always greener, no doubt. Grin

In my case it's barely enough small projects - and far too much running around because of. undecided


« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 07:19:33 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2011, 11:56:45 PM »

Never had a problem with finding installing or running 64-bit since I 'graduated' two years ago, including custom compiling of things that aren't in the repositories.
Maybe that's just me - I'm a bit tenacious when I want to be.

I agree audio needs to be cleaned up, and PulseAudio needs to get out of the way for that to REALLY happen.
As it is, Pulse is doing a great job of making things "just work" but it's like finally finding the right combination of duct tape and bailing wire to make the old Nova run consistently, when what you really need to do is build a freakin' Porsche.

As for X, I am hoping the Wayland project doesn't turn into a nightmare.

Nice to see you again as well, Iphi; I am sorry your Linux experiments have not been satisfactory.
I often find myself in that unenviable position of being the guy in the chat rooms and forums who simply parrots "works for me..." when others complain bitterly.
Sorry 'bout that...
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