Ubuntu, Imma gonna let you be my operating system, but first, I gotta ask you to stop acting more like Windows with every new release. K?

… as time goes by two things remain annoying about Ubuntu. One is off and on, and varies over time, and that is the lack of certain essential automatically installed apps and drivers and such. These are things that should be installed to make the system and software work for many users, but that are not included in the distribution because of some misplaced and rather perverse sense of “freeness” of software. For many potential Linux users, this makes Ubuntu a bad choice of a distro, and therefore, I have to consider those decisions regarding how to design the Ubuntu distro to be really really dumb.

At the same time we are seeing an increased windoiziation of the distribution, as well as the gnome desktop (in ways that may or may not be related to Ubuntu).

What is windoization?

Well, for example, I’ve got a windows computer that runs one piece of essential software and does nothing else. A few minutes ago I looked at that computer, and there were six … SIX!!! … different dialog boxes that demanded attention. None had anything to do with anything. None were requested by me. None were in relation to any software that was supposed to be running on the computer. Two were from major software vendors wanting me to buy something. Why? Why were these dialog boxes open???? Where did they come from???? Who put them there????//??

They were there because the computer runs Windows, and that’s what Windows does.

Windowization is the process of a system that is not Windows becoming more windows like over time because the maintainers of said system have lost the cajoles necessary to stand on their own and defy Satan incarnate.

So in the most current installation of Ubuntu, running Gnome Terminal 2.260, if I chose to close the terminal while a process is running, I get a dialog box that I did not ask for, don’t need, and does not have one of those cute little check boxes that says “Check here if you don’t ever wanna see this shit again.” The dialog box is asking me if I really want to close the terminal. One of the reasons that I like Linux is because dialog boxes like that do not usually occur.

So how do I turn off this dialog box so that it never ever ever appears again, ever?

Well, I did a little poking around and here is how to do it.

You open the configuration software for Gnome. This involves going to a terminal and typing in:

gconf-editor

Then you drill down to “apps” then “gnome terminal” then “global” then un-check the box for the satanic, windows like dialog box in question.

Later, I’m going to try to figure out how to get the newest version of Update Manager to sit quietly until I poke at it, rather than it poking at me.

Comments

  1. #1 edivimo
    January 8, 2010

    You’re right, ubuntu’s update manager is annoying me lately. I think I found how to do it: You run gconf-editor in the terminal go to apps>update-notifier and “then un-check the box for the satanic, windows like dialog box in question.” (called auto-launch, in this case).

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2010

    There should be a single check box for all satanic windows-like options.

  3. #3 dargndorp
    January 8, 2010

    If you really got two windows asking for crap by two different software vendors, then the reasoning is simple:
    a) You it there: You installed some software that throws up crap and forgot about it.
    b) You didn’t remove it: if, for some weirdish reason, you got the computer in question with preinstalled operating system, then you didn’t remove the crap that’s preinstalled.

    Now, I despise Microsoft as much as the next guy, but those messages don’t seem much like a Windows problem to me. At least not from a technical POV. What did the other four messages say?

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2010

    A driver for a scanner that no longer exists (the scanner that is) that can’t be uninstalled without the original disk (which I don’t have because I got rid of it with the scanner) is one of the culprits. The came-with-the-system anti-virus program. The driver that goes with the protable DVD/CD burner that makes labels… software I installed and use but that I don’t want randomly talking to me. Firefox.

    No, no, no, there is no reason for these unwanted dialog boxes, and no, no, no, it is not my fault and there is little I can do about it other than not use Windows.

    You are right that they are not “Windows system” problems, but they are problems that would not occur on Linux (usually) not because of the software vendors, but because of the overall, system level philosophy.

    In other words, it is simply true that if I remove windows and install linux on that machine, this problem goes away.

  5. #5 dargndorp
    January 8, 2010

    For the scanner driver: get http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902.aspx and kick it. This one’s really easy.
    For the antivirus: Either ditch antivirus completely or replace with http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/
    Firefox does not throw up random stupid Satan boxes. It’s not even autostarted.

    But you’re right. It’s a question of philosophy, and Microsoft has been the worst offender of all. Many sw vendors followed suit.

    All I’m saying is that it’s almost alway possible to get Windows and Windows applications to sit down and shut up, but it takes some effort (akin to the whole point of your article – Gnome acts up, and you have to take some effort to swat it.)

  6. #6 BdN
    January 8, 2010

    I’m kinda new to Linux even though I played a little bit with it in the past. I ran Knoppix a few times than I installed Mandriva to my laptop a few months ago. I finally formatted the drive because I couldn’t get the drivers for my Trendnet dongle to work correctly so I couldn’t get access to wi-fi. Which was not a problem with Mandriva per se : it was my own ignorance and incompetence. And the lack of appropriate support (or, at least, I wasn’t good enough to find said support). So I finally got Ubuntu. Had the same problems but the reason I choose to install it was because I knew it was the distro for which it was the easiest to get help on various forums so I got the thingy to work.

    Sorry for the long and boring story but I just wanted to ask, and I know that there are as many answers as there are types of users, but besides Ubuntu, which one would you recommend ?

  7. #7 Rich
    January 8, 2010

    Well at least ubuntu lets you shut it off!
    Thanks for the tip

  8. #8 dargndorp
    January 8, 2010

    @BdN: Wow, that question just opens up a can of worms. In my case, I find Ubuntu and its derivatives less than exciting. I once took on the task of trying to find the Linux distribution with the lowest footprint (memory and CPU speed) and found Puppy Linux to be quite innovative.

  9. #9 sgtrock
    January 8, 2010

    … as time goes by two things remain annoying about Ubuntu. One is off and on, and varies over time, and that is the lack of certain essential automatically installed apps and drivers and such. These are things that should be installed to make the system and software work for many users, but that are not included in the distribution because of some misplaced and rather perverse sense of “freeness” of software.

    Actually, that’s not a completely accurate depiction of the issue. Keep in mind that Ubuntu was started and is still backed by Canonical, which was founded by and still receives funding from Mark Shuttleworth. Mark is nobody’s fool. He founded Thawte Consulting and eventually sold it to Verisign for $575 million. If he thought that the Ubuntu team could include some of the missing codecs and software without getting Canonical into legal trouble, believe me, he would.

    It’s easy enough to add the repositories at any time (including the installation process, btw). Just enable the universe, multi-verse, and non-free repositories through whatever your favorite GUI or CLI interface is, then pull down whatever you wish. Since these repositories are not part of the base Ubuntu build, Canonical can claim that the end users are responsible for verifying that that software is legal in their jurisdiction.

    This doesn’t work for some software, unfortunately. Adobe, for example, refuses to let anyone else hold Flash for Linux in their repositories. Nor do they provide packaging so people can add links to it manually. That’s NOT Canonical’s or the Ubuntu team’s fault, and blaming them for it is off target.

  10. #10 D. C. Sessions
    January 8, 2010

    BdN: Linux don’t do “one size fits all.”

    I’ve used Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Knoppix, Tom’s Root/Boot, and Gentoo. Maybe one or two others I’ve forgotten.

    Currently I use Gentoo for desktop and server systems because it’s damn near bulletproof and incrementally maintainable to a degree the others can’t touch: my main systems have been continuously updated (including 32-bit to 64-bit) since 2002 — but I don’t really recommend them for newbies since they do take a bit of getting used to.

    For laptops I use Kubuntu, since Gnome drives me batty and I don’t want to subject the thermal envelope of a laptop to the workload of a source-based distribution.

  11. #11 Art
    January 8, 2010

    dargndorp – “Firefox does not throw up random stupid Satan boxes.”

    Except when it does.

    I have an older computer running XP that gets online via some rather old phone lines; 33.2kbps is as good as it gets and 28.8 is typical. Going down a list of links I might open two, sometimes three, dozen links in new tabs. Basically I’m downloading a whale through a soda straw.

    Yes, I know it is going to take time and fairly often I will have to reload to get the full page. Granted. I spend my time reading the pages that come trough first so waiting isn’t usually an issue.

    The problem is that Foxfire insists of popping up alert windows. Which would be tolerable except that when they pop up the insist on being on top. I’m reading a web page in one window and the screen shifts to a completely different window and/or tab to tell me the ‘connection reset’ or ‘the site is taking too long to answer’. None of which I can do a damn thing about. So now I have to manually close the alert box and try to figure out where that page is that I was reading. Very frustrating.

    I tried posting this issue with a the Mozilla forum and it got exactly zero replies from the resident experts. When I tried the message board the experts wanted to ‘tweak my connection’. Which is fine but the connection isn’t the problem. Foxfire’s behavior is the problem. The experts shut down when I tried to explain that I wanted to simply eliminate the alerts or, at the very least, make it so the focus didn’t shift when they popped up. Figures.

    So now I’m starting to look for another browser. One that puts me in charge. Or at lest, doesn’t act like a spoiled brat when something doesn’t go well.

  12. #12 MadScientist
    January 8, 2010

    @BdN: Try Novell SuSe since it’s aimed at the enterprise desktop (as well as the server) – you know, those evil people who couldn’t care less about software freedom, they just want an operating system that runs on their computers. I haven’t seen RedHat in action for a long time so I have no idea what to expect; since RH concentrates on servers there is no reason to expect them to ensure that WiFi is up and running.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2010

    Ubuntu is the first distribution that I installed and had virtually no problems with. I tried Suse and something like “lindoze” (that was not what it was called) and both of would have gotten less than stellar marks from me. But that was a few years ago and I’m sure things have changed.

    I personally like Debian based distros (like Ubuntu but many others).

  14. #14 Jason Thibeault
    January 8, 2010

    Gconf-editor is an example of windowization itself. Why the hell would I want to get a regedit-alike in my Linux setup, where config files in ~/.whatever worked just fine? Why centralize apps’ information, thus potentially corrupting every app when the one file gets hooped? Gah.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2010

    Jason: Take it down a notch, man it’s OK!!!

    gconf is simply a GUI front end. Those settings are all filey thingies in directories, just like they are supposed to be. You can edit them with your text editor.

  16. #16 Karl
    January 8, 2010

    Art you may need to change
    this setting
    in your configuration.

  17. #17 Bill James
    January 8, 2010

    Bitch, bitch, bitch.

    A driver for a scanner that no longer exists (the scanner that is) that can’t be uninstalled without the original disk (which I don’t have because I got rid of it with the scanner) is one of the culprits.

    Autoruns. Now a Microsoft utility. Put it on your thumb drive.

    The came-with-the-system anti-virus program.

    Microsoft Security Essentials.

    The driver that goes with the protable DVD/CD burner that makes labels…

    Sharpie.

    Who loads this stuff anyway? And who doesn’t de-crappify a Windows machine out of the box?

    Come on Greg, advantages of Linux aside, you would rather complain about Microsoft than expend even a modicum of effort in remediation.

    …because of some misplaced and rather perverse sense of “freeness” of software. For many potential Linux users, this makes Ubuntu a bad choice of a distro, and therefore, I have to consider those decisions regarding how to design the Ubuntu distro to be really really dumb.

    There is a reason for Stallmans advocacy. IP, copyright and licensing present enough hurdles that most distros are barely legal on their best days. Things as fundamental to users as MP3 codecs cannot legally be included by default so we are pointed to alternate repositories with winks and nods. Let the end user assume the liability of that which is installed on his or her machine seems the preferred work around and perhaps preferred by those end users cognizant of the fact.

    Actually, my opinion is that Ubuntu strikes the better balance speaking in the hear and now. On the puritanical front we have GNU/Linux and at the other end of the spectrum distros like Mint which take a more kitchen sink approach to inclusion of restricted software. Improved usability can increase market share at the expense of business risk but it’s all based on faith that they will not be cratered by an onslaught of Intellectual Property lawyers should their efforts gain enough traction to be noticed.

    Then there is that matter of Open Source which strikes to the core of ‘who’ controls your computer and is a major point of contention vis a vis Microsoft who simply cannot be trusted on that basis. There are other reasons for this as well, notably, but peer review of all code executing within a machine is mandatory in regards to the trust relationship that your computer is only doing what you intend or otherwise not find objectionable. This includes the BIOS.

    For the time being at least, this involves some end user sacrifice. Freedom isn’t free.

  18. #18 Jason Thibeault
    January 8, 2010

    Re: gconf-editor — oh, good. They’re XML files, even. It’s just the GUI that sends shivers into my soul. Thank you for that.

  19. #19 Bill James
    January 8, 2010

    How many CD’s can be labeled with one Sharpie?

    Click HERE to find out!

  20. #20 Ivan
    January 8, 2010

    s/cajoles/cajones/

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2010

    How many CD’s can be labeled with one Sharpie? Two. Then you lose the sharpie.

  22. #22 Rorschach
    January 8, 2010

    No big deal even for a newbie to get the codecs he needs for mp3, videos etc, under gnome if you try to play an mp3 the default player even asks you if you want to install the codecs required !
    Same with FF and flashplayer….

    As to popups under Linux, i dont get any…told the update manager where to shove it on day 1, and no popups since then.

  23. #23 mikey.duhhh
    January 9, 2010

    Here is my take on 9.10. Ubuntu needs to get a clue. By my count 1/3 of the people who wanted to move to Koala couldn’t. The wireless drivers oweren’t there. I am still using 9.04. Dude,I had a whole new business until cannonical fuxed it up.

  24. #24 davem
    January 9, 2010

    “Later, I’m going to try to figure out how to get the newest version of Update Manager to sit quietly until I poke at it, rather than it poking at me.”

    Eh? I haven’t touched mine, and ever since 9.04 it just appears, minimises itself, and ignores me until I click on it. It used to sit on the top of the desktop demanding attention/minimising, but no more.

    9.10 is a different kettle of fish. Sound is a mess, and I just found that gedit doesn’t open URLs any more. Canonical need to slow down a bit.

    As to windows, it’s difficult to remove all that extra crap that ties the machine up. You need to spend about 2 hours after installation, working out what’s needed, and what isn’t, and telling Microshit that no, you really don’t need to inform them of everything you’re listening to, or watching, and that you’d really like google as your search engine not bling(sic). There’s no way your average user would be able to get rid of all that extra stuff. Every year, I visit my uncle, and spend 2 or 3 hours getting rid of software he didn’t even remember installing, so that the machine can start up in less than 10 minutes,

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    January 9, 2010

    Eh? I haven’t touched mine, and ever since 9.04 it just appears, minimises itself, and ignores me until I click on it.

    I do not want something appearing on it’s on volition unless I”ve programmed it to.

    And it is actually possible for its appearance to interfere with the process of typing if it happens at just the right moment.

  26. #26 Tony P
    January 9, 2010

    Your ding against Windows duly noted. However I never get those because I find the offending notifier apps and check apps and take them out of the startup menu in msconfig.exe or in regedit. Things like Java Update Scheduler (jusched), Adobe Updater, et al get dropped like a hot potato.

  27. #27 Mathias
    January 9, 2010

    I was about to suggest that you use a distro for more technical users; The stated goal of Ubuntu is to make Linux easy for the average user. This means reminding us if we try to close a terminal that is still running a program we started, or any other event a newbie may not understand. Then I wonder why you didn’t notice: the options for the frequency of updates and whether to update at all, are conveniently located in the update manager preferences. I understand you may not enjoy being reminded of things (I usually don’t either), but I hope you appreciate why Ubuntu is doing this and I suggest that you stick with this distro until you’re more Linux savy.

  28. #28 Fred
    January 9, 2010

    Um… Update manager is one of those things that needs to appear on its own volition by default, at least for a distribution like Ubuntu that aims to be user friendly. How well Ubuntu succeeds is debatable mind you: I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that it has been based of the Debian unstable stream in the past (thankfully I hear that’s changing in Lucid). However, minor bugs aside, it still succeeds at being user friendly on a wide scale. My ex and her father (NOT computer experts) now have Ubuntu on their computers, and aside from small issues every other month (usually involving terminology differences) they are quite happy with their new windows-free lives. For people like these, auto-updates have to be the default, because no OS, not even a Linux based one, is 100% secure.

    Really, this post seems like a bunch of whining. Calling default settings that don’t agree with your personal preferences “satanic” is childish. The idea that any piece of software can be installed on multiple computers for multiple end-users without requiring those end-users to customize their personal settings is ridiculous. When that software is the OS (the most important piece of software on the computer) that becomes doubly true. ALWAYS take time to find out what you need/don’t need that most other end-users don’t need/need, and fix the preferences accordingly.

  29. #29 Greg Laden
    January 9, 2010

    Update manager is one of those things that needs to appear on its own volition by default, at least for a distribution like Ubuntu that aims to be user friendly

    It never did before, and it does not have to now.

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    January 9, 2010

    I appreciate both the idea that “user friendly” might mean “act stupid” for an operating system, and I also get that turning stuff off is possible in both Windows and Linux.

    But note that these recent annoyances have two characteristics. One, they are recent. They did not happen before, they happen now. We did not need them then, we don’t need them now. One has to ask why are they being added, and I assume/guess it is because people are trying to make Ubuntu more “user friendly” and somehow this has been equated with the same sorts of things that Windws style desktop is associated with.

    And that is what i’m objecting to.

    The second to think to note is that is annoying. that overrides the reasons for having in in Linux. Linux can be the non-annoying (or less-annoying) os, has been so, and this change is concerning because that is being undone!

    As far as turning stuff off goes, I am not impressed! I can also recompile the kernel and tweak it just like I want to., One of the reasons I left Windows is because every time I had to reinstall the damn thing (and this applies to office as well) I had to re-adjust everything again.

    (Yes, yes, there was in Windows this “save user settings” thing that never once worked for me, so please don’t mention that)

  31. #31 Eric
    January 9, 2010

    I wish you understand the gnu licence : and the free culture.

    http://www.free-culture.cc/

    If you can do whatever you want being 100% free, is it better : yes !

    Any devellopement need time : then the only problem is the marketing.

    Understand what is your freedom : and what mean the free culture.

  32. #32 Innocent Bystander
    January 9, 2010

    May be one day, you have something running in Terminal that you don’t want to interrupt. You click close and it closes right away without warning. That day, you will understand why there is a warning message.

  33. #33 Fred
    January 9, 2010

    Then obviously Ubuntu isn’t the right distribution for you. Ubuntu has been moving in this direction for some time: its “windowization” is nothing new. Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth have spent lots of effort making Ubuntu user friendly by new user standards (both new Linux users or new computer users), and are continuing work with every release to further achieve that goal. It’s also clear that you don’t realize that all operating systems, both Windows and Linux based, attempt to serve the same needs. With that said there will be many similarities between them. It’s called convergent evolution, and it’s not a bad thing.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    January 9, 2010

    Innocent bystander: And the same can be said of deleting a file (non Linux userse: If you select a file and “delete it” it goes away. No questions asked. How cool is that!?!? … you can get it back from the trash if you want)

    The think is that I don’t want constant useless warnings. if I make a mistake, so be it. And besides, unlike Windows, accidently deleting a runnin process in Linux is hardly every going to have collateral negative consequences to the system.

    Fred, you are quite wrong about Linux and Windows serving the same need. Utterly wrong.

    Linux serves the needs of real people. Windows serves the needs of Windows Corporation Inc.

    As to the idea that I should perhaps use a different system: That may well be true. Ubuntu is still probably the best entry level system. Maybe I should try something different.

    Or, in true OpenSourceosity, and I’m surprized no one has mentioned this yet, I can poke my nose more directly into the OpenSource community and get involved with Ubuntu development.

    Maybe I can even write a blog in which I express my opinion and people can discuss the issues and stuff!!!

  35. #35 Fred
    January 9, 2010

    Ultimately both Linux and Windows are portals for running programs the end-user wants. Neither is an end-product in and of itself. There are times Microsoft and Canonical forget this (much more frequently Microsoft than Canonical), but ultimately both Windows and Ubuntu are useless in and of themselves. The only way they are useful out of the box is because they usually come with some key applications pre-installed. As such both have served the same function as far as I’m concerned (the only difference being that Ubuntu has served that function better).

    As for Linux serving the needs of “real people”, many “real people” want and/or need those “satanic” messages. That’s why they are there by default. And gconf-editor is available for “real people” like you who don’t want and/or need them. Personally I consider myself lucky when I find an unpleasant default behavior that I can change: not every FOSS program give that level of control to normal users without programming skills.

  36. #36 xd carte memoire
    January 10, 2010

    There have been a lot of users complaining about the new Ubuntu 9.10 splash screen. First users are complaining that cosmetically it looks unprofessional and tacky. Second, there is no obvious way to configure this splash screen.

  37. #37 Scotlyn
    January 12, 2010

    s/cajoles/cajones/

    The term is “cojones” – but I like “cajoles” too – possibly “cojones” + “frijoles”? A tasty XXX dish?
    PS – “cajones” = large boxes (not a typical male boast)

  38. #38 Scotlyn
    January 12, 2010

    Just wanted to say, I have been reading your Linux posts slowly, carefully and with many trips to various IT-type dictionaries. I am definitely not a back-end computer person. Still, you have me very tempted, although still somewhat nervous of making the switch. Thanks for the posts. If I do find my virtual cojones and start using Linux – I’ll let you know how it goes…Thanks

  39. #39 Sebastian
    March 13, 2010

    Thanks. That fucking dialogue box asking me whether I really close the terminal has been annoying me for months.