Pharyngula

The ways children let you down

You would not believe what I just caughtSkatje doing — I am horrified at what my own child was perpetrating.

She was installing some abomination called “Ubuntu” on her computer.

My copy of Mac OS X Leopard is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and I am not going to share it with her. I may have to cut her out of the will.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 28, 2007

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt! “Welcome to Darwin”.

    …just saying… :->

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 28, 2007

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt! “Welcome to Darwin”.

    …just saying… :->

  3. #3 Interrobang
    October 28, 2007

    Tell her to post what she thinks of it on her site; I know at least I’d be curious to know. I’ve been thinking of installing it myself, being one of these heretical Intel-box type users.

    (I have a Macintosh; it’s sitting on the floor of my office, gathering dust, since there isn’t a whole lot of room in here to set it up and I don’t have a KVM switch yet… I can’t decide whether Teh Mack looks more like a beer can or a sneaker, neither of which I find particularly aesthetically pleasing, so I’m trying to figure out where I can put it so I can use it without having to look at it.)

    Personally, I’m a marginally-unhappy Windows user — paying, non-Windows technical writing jobs are few and far between, and I love both my job and eating. Does anyone know if RoboHelp runs under Wine?

  4. #4 mcow
    October 28, 2007

    I predict that after a few days of putting up with Ubuntu’s crap, she’ll come crawling back to the sleek elegance of OS X. Then again, my experience with Ubuntu has mostly been with PC’s consisting of questionable hardware, so … maybe?

  5. #5 Guido
    October 28, 2007

    Welcome, Skatje. Endless nights of fun messing with your OS trying to fine tune it are expecting you.

  6. #6 dc
    October 28, 2007

    Can’t have wealthy Americans using poor peoples software, eh? What are all these poor people doing on the internet anyway, if they can’t afford a Mac?

  7. #7 ERV
    October 28, 2007

    PZ– My copy of Mac OS X Leopard is supposed to arrive tomorrow…

    WANT.

    Arg, Im not letting myself buy a copy until I finish some stuff at work/school.

    Want…

  8. #8 BadAunt
    October 28, 2007

    Off topic, but I think you may have some sort of sneaky script on your page that causes visitors to be redirected to some sort of malware check page with a lot of very annoying pop-up dialogs. It happened to me yesterday but I wasn’t sure which of the pages I’d just opened had done it, but today there was only yours. Your page suddenly disappeared when the malware check page appeared. When I closed the annoying page (with some difficulty) and tried again, it didn’t happen again.

    I’ve seen this before, and usually it’s some sort of thing that gets installed with some preexisting script. (In the last case I saw it was a hit counter that changed hands and the new people installed something new without informing the existing customers.) Sorry I can’t give more details – like I said it only happens the first time the page loads, and while I could quit Firefox and start again, I don’t have time right now as I have to get to work. Maybe someone else can help…?

  9. #9 Timothy
    October 28, 2007

    Hey PZ, tell her to install Kubuntu instead .It’s easier than installing KDE manually and if you can’t run Slackware you can at least have a decent desktop.

  10. #10 Axel
    October 28, 2007

    I really do like my Mac too, but quite a few of the recent Apple news were fairly disappointing. I also think that free software and people working together to improve it appeals to me quite a bit. So I’m no longer sure if I will buy a Mac again.

  11. #11 John
    October 28, 2007

    I installed Leopard last night.

    I am flabbergasted. It is smooth, seamless, and fast.

    It’s the first OS upgrade in years that actually has me changing the way I do things.

    You know all those movies and TV shows, where the protagonist sits down at the computer, says, “Now, if I just interpolate the matrix for the Bayesian setting, we should be able to tell who murdered Jimmy,” hits twenty keys, the screen zooms around, and up pops a picture and detailed bio of Umar the terrorist hamster?

    That is *exactly* what using Leopard is like.

  12. #12 Stephen
    October 28, 2007

    Sorry PZ, Ubuntu pwns!112

  13. #13 Zarquon
    October 28, 2007

    You know all those movies and TV shows, where the protagonist sits down at the computer, says, “Now, if I just interpolate the matrix for the Bayesian setting, we should be able to tell who murdered Jimmy,” hits twenty keys, the screen zooms around, and up pops a picture and detailed bio of Umar the terrorist hamster?

    You type in gibberish and a pretty picture pops up? I’ll stick to Fedora.

  14. #14 John
    October 28, 2007

    You type in gibberish and a pretty picture pops up? I’ll stick to Fedora.

    Since I’m in marketing, that’s pretty much my job description.

  15. #15 dzd
    October 28, 2007

    Linux is for people who enjoy treating their computer as an end in itself.

    The Mac is for people who want to use their computer to do things.

  16. #16 John S. Wilkins
    October 28, 2007

    I installed Ubuntu on my Dell desktop. It works a treat. I don’t actually use it for anything real (after all, I do have a Mac, or I did before I dropped it and shattered the LCD panel) but it worked right out of the “box”, just like a Mac.

    So I measure Linuxes by their similarity to Mac OSX…

  17. #17 Cyde Weys
    October 28, 2007

    Awesome. Go Free Software! The problem with OS X is that it is nearly as proprietary as Microsoft Windows, though admittedly, Apple isn’t quite as evil (though they are working on that; just look at the iPhone lockdown shenanigans). I’m running Ubuntu on one of my servers right now and I’m happy with it. I haven’t played around with 7.10 as a desktop environment just yet, but I have a computer waiting around that I have plans for.

    Tell Skatje she’s the object of desire of male GNU/Linux nerds everywhere :-P

  18. #18 Michael G.R.
    October 28, 2007

    Look at it this way: she could have been installing Vista.

    Touché!

  19. #19 andy
    October 28, 2007

    Nothing wrong with Ubuntu, its the second Linux distro I’ve tried (openSUSE didn’t really work for me), and I’m happy with it. Plus, using Compiz you can get Mac-like desktop effects.

    My entire experience of an Apple OS is System 7, which I can say I was not impressed with (though that may have also been because the hardware wasn’t even good enough to run MYST, which is basically a slideshow).

  20. #20 Marcus Ranum
    October 28, 2007

    I love it when atheists get into religious wars. :)

  21. #21 mark
    October 28, 2007

    I just read an item that said some hackers have already figured out how to get Leopard installed on Intel-based PCs. That seems like a lot of work–much easier to get a free Linux OS, with free applications, including statistics and GIS.

  22. #22 caerbannog
    October 28, 2007

    Mac OS X for fun at home, Ubuntu for science/engineering development at work. Works for me. (Oh, yes… and Windows XP to to access the “Windows-only” ERP system at work to fill out my time-card once a week.)

  23. #23 Tyler DiPietro
    October 28, 2007

    I use gNewSense, a variant of Ubuntu (basically getting rid of all the proprietary packages in the original distro). I like it. I’ve been a Red Hat die hard since I started using GNU/Linux, but this is, dare I say, much more polished.

  24. #24 The Vicar
    October 28, 2007

    Linux is a fine OS — for servers. Stable, fast, capable of handling lots of connections. Good stuff. But unless you think of a GUI as something that gets in the way of your command line, or are severely masochistic, Linux is not a desktop OS. The GUIs are improving, but not fast enough to be worth the effort.

    Ubuntu is currently more or less the best of the user-friendly Linux distros. I’ve tried it repeatedly. It’s about as “friendly” as the Mac was in System 5, or thereabouts. Which is to say: not actually painful any more, but not as good as Windows 95, let alone Mac OS 8 or Mac OS X 10.4. Another five or ten years and they’ll make it as good as System 7 was, which is an enormous improvement. The problem is that in another five or ten years, both Windows and the Mac OS will be five or ten years better than they are now, and they already both beat Linux.

    I know a lot of Linux people will take issue with this post, assuming they read it, but (as usual when Linux people think about GUI issues) they will be missing the point. Linux GUIs were written by people who were comfortable with a command line, and who thought of a GUI as a way to put a command line in a window. Through natural selection, the user base of Linux GUIs consists almost entirely of people who either agree, or who have some motivation for playing along. There are very few people who use Linux who, for example, work in a public library and have to walk Joe Sixpack through learning to use a computer.

    Those of you who read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books will remember that Death tries hard to act human, but doesn’t understand doors, and built his house with solid pipes because he didn’t know that water was supposed to flow through them. Linux GUI designers have roughly the same approach — they know what GUIs look like, and they know that (for some reason, which totally mystifies them) most users actually prefer to click on icons and buttons and things instead of typing into a terminal, but they don’t know how GUIs actually work. (Hardly surprising after years working with things like sendmail. There are two approaches to good UI design. Sendmail is neither.)

    X11 is totally symptomatic of the Linux approach. It’s very sturdy, and chock full of features that an overwhelming majority of users will never come close to needing, but which might be useful to some server admin who prefers the command line anyway — you can run X11 on one machine and display it on another! Amazing! But X11 says nothing about consistency of design, or layout, and has a woefully small set of primitive interface elements. To Linux users, this makes perfect sense.

    (The GIMP has a similar problem — superficially, it looks like Photoshop, so Linux users like to claim you can do graphics on Linux. Anyone who has worked with graphics on a professional level will be able to tell the difference between the GIMP and Photoshop within about thirty seconds.)

  25. #25 Webs
    October 28, 2007

    Long time Lurker, first time commentator…

    Personally I would be proud of the fact your daughter is willing to experiment with something different. It’s not easy to get people off the crappy mainstream.

    I must say though that I am wayyyyyyy jealous of your Leopard…

  26. #26 craig
    October 28, 2007

    I’m leaning towards Ubuntu for my next system, I’m sure as hell not getting vista. Won’t get a mac either though.

    I was a mac user way back when it actually was the best system around, but lately I find apple stuff aggravating… too limiting.

  27. #27 SMC
    October 28, 2007

    Look, choosing the appropriate OS is simple (as relayed to me by a co-worker)

    Linux is for people who want to know why their computer works.

    Mac OSX is for people who don’t want to know why their computer works.

    BSD is for people who want to know why their computer doesn’t work

    Microsoft Windows is for people who don’t want to know why their computer doesn’t work.

    The rest is just arguing over which distribution to choose…

  28. #28 Boosterz
    October 28, 2007

    I just think it’s funny that macs supposedly have such a “perfect” GUI yet when some newbie buys one thinking he’s got a magically easy computer he then spends the next four hours trying to eject the disc he just put in it. :-)

  29. #29 Jonathan
    October 28, 2007

    You have the coolest daughter.

  30. #30 Alex
    October 28, 2007

    No, just no. Ubuntu > any Apple OS. I’m getting a computer for the first time in a few days that actually belongs to me and I’m putting Ubuntu 7.10 on it. No dual-booting, just Ubuntu. I might use VMWare, Wine, or something if I have to though (which I doubt).

    And as Rick (#54) said, the default e-mail client is called Evolution. Also, the name Ubuntu comes from an African humanist philsophy. How much more appealing do they have to make Linux operating systems for you?

  31. #31 Kelly Clowers
    October 29, 2007

    Linux is a fine OS — for servers. Stable, fast, capable of handling lots of connections. Good stuff. But unless you think of a GUI as something that gets in the way of your command line, or are severely masochistic, Linux is not a desktop OS. The GUIs are improving, but not fast enough to be worth the effort.

    That use to be true – and still is if you use Fluxbox or Ratpoison or Ion or any of a dozen or so other minimalist Window Managers. It is definitely not true of the leading desktops KDE and Gnome (and some others as well). Gnome and KDE are highly polished, very functional Desktop Environments.

    Ubuntu is currently more or less the best of the user-friendly Linux distros. I’ve tried it repeatedly. It’s about as “friendly” as the Mac was in System 5, or thereabouts. Which is to say: not actually painful any more, but not as good as Windows 95, let alone Mac OS 8 or Mac OS X 10.4. Another five or ten years and they’ll make it as good as System 7 was, which is an enormous improvement. The problem is that in another five or ten years, both Windows and the Mac OS will be five or ten years better than they are now, and they already both beat Linux.

    I don’t have any experience with pre-OS X Macs, but based on how old System 5 must be, I doubt your statements. Any modern, fully functional operating environment will be superior in many ways to such an old system. If for a moment we think otherwise, it is most likely nostalgia temporarily clouding our thinking.

    As for “five or ten years”, you must not have a good grasp of how fast Linux is moving. Linux is currently advancing faster than any other OS. The kernel, X11, various user-land “plumbing”, and the Desktop Environments are all moving forward at a tremendous rate. It is already becoming rather difficult to argue rationally that Linux is “less advanced” than Windows or OS X. I believe that within three years it will be completely impossible to seriously argue that point.
    Even the issues regarding driver completeness now look to be resolved by then.

    I know a lot of Linux people will take issue with this post, assuming they read it, but (as usual when Linux people think about GUI issues) they will be missing the point. Linux GUIs were written by people who were comfortable with a command line, and who thought of a GUI as a way to put a command line in a window. Through natural selection, the user base of Linux GUIs consists almost entirely of people who either agree, or who have some motivation for playing along.

    Again, this is simply not the case. I, myself, do prefer the command line for many tasks. However, my grandmother uses Linux very happily. Her user experience is generally not to different from what she would (and did) get from Windows XP. There have been a few issues I had to fix, but far fewer than the number of issues I had to fix on Windows for her.

    I am also helping an elderly neighbor learn how to use his first computer. He bought a used computer and someone recommended he get someone to put linux on it. I was happy to oblige, and now I am teaching him how to use it. He doesn’t have any more trouble learning it than he would with Windows.

    There are very few people who use Linux who, for example, work in a public library and have to walk Joe Sixpack through learning to use a computer.

    Many public libraries are turning to Linux, as they face tighter budgets.

    Those of you who read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books will remember that Death tries hard to act human, but doesn’t understand doors, and built his house with solid pipes because he didn’t know that water was supposed to flow through them.

    Good series. I haven’t read the Death books yet, though.

    Linux GUI designers have roughly the same approach — they know what GUIs look like, and they know that (for some reason, which totally mystifies them) most users actually prefer to click on icons and buttons and things instead of typing into a terminal, but they don’t know how GUIs actually work. (Hardly surprising after years working with things like sendmail. There are two approaches to good UI design. Sendmail is neither.)

    Once again – this was true many years ago, but no longer. And what does Sendmail have to do with anything? It is non-graphical and yes, its config system sucks, which is why smart admins use Postfix or (depending on the requirements) even qmail or exim.

    X11 is totally symptomatic of the Linux approach. It’s very sturdy, and chock full of features that an overwhelming majority of users will never come close to needing, but which might be useful to some server admin who prefers the command line anyway — you can run X11 on one machine and display it on another! Amazing! But X11 says nothing about consistency of design, or layout, and has a woefully small set of primitive interface elements. To Linux users, this makes perfect sense.

    X11 says nothing about consistency of design or layout. Really. Do you have any idea what role X11 plays in the GUI? That is like saying DirectX (Vista) or GDI+ (XP) or CoreGraphics (OS X) says nothing about consistency of design or layout. Of course they don’t! That is not remotely their job!

    The Gnome HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) have a lot to say about consistency in Gnome apps, and KDE is getting a lot better in that regard as well.

    (The GIMP has a similar problem — superficially, it looks like Photoshop, so Linux users like to claim you can do graphics on Linux. Anyone who has worked with graphics on a professional level will be able to tell the difference between the GIMP and Photoshop within about thirty seconds.)

    The Gimp has historically been a complete UI disaster, and movement to fix it has been slow. But it has slowly improved, and in fact the latest release came out a few days ago, and UI work was a pretty large focus. In a few more releases they should get the new GEGL core in, and then many non-UI deficiencies can be addressed.

    Meanwhile, Krita 2.0 is in the works, and once this major transition to QT4 and the KOffice2 libs is done, they should resume their previous rapid development pace. I think there is a good chance of Krita surpassing The Gimp withing 18 months of the 2.0 release. And Krita has never had The Gimp’s UI issues.

  32. #32 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    I am also helping an elderly neighbor learn how to use his first computer. He bought a used computer and someone recommended he get someone to put linux on it. I was happy to oblige, and now I am teaching him how to use it. He doesn’t have any more trouble learning it than he would with Windows.

    that’s a good point. I think I might start showing the wonders of linux to some of my elderly neighbors too.

    The Gimp has historically been a complete UI disaster, and movement to fix it has been slow

    hmm, I’ve been using both Gimp and Photoshop for the last 3 years, and never had any complaints about Gimp from a UI standpoint.

    my only complaints about Gimp are related to speed of processing some common actions that seem far more optimized in photoshop (especially with large images).

    better support for RAW format would be welcome, too. still not terribly happy with the third party solutions to that I’ve tried for Gimp.

    I’ll take a look at Krita, now that you mention it.

  33. #33 The Vicar
    October 29, 2007

    @Kelly Clowers:

    (1) like all Linux users, you have no clue that Linux’s GUIs are broken in the first place, so of course you see nothing wrong with them and think KDE and Gnome are “highly polished.” Speaking as someone who has taught (or tried to teach) people to use computers from scratch on three of the four systems (Mac, Windows, KDE, and Gnome — I admit to never having tried to teach someone KDE, because I was teaching from Ubuntu, which comes with Gnome), KDE and Gnome rank far below both every version of Windows since 98 and every version of the Mac OS since about 7.6 in terms of consistency and usability. They have learning curves which are incredibly steep, but you’ve been using one or the other of them all along, so you don’t realize it any more, the same way that, in the springtime, a temperature of 50°F feels warm because you’ve been used to temperatures below the freezing point.

    Public libraries may be turning to Linux, although for reasons of my own I am skeptical of this claim. More importantly, I doubt they’ll stay with Linux any longer than they have to. Librarians tend to be overworked, and Linux is an OS for people with time on their hands. Furthermore, libraries whose computer labs can’t open Microsoft Office documents tend to lose their funding for computer labs, and the Gates Foundation is offering grants to libraries caught in that situation. (And no, I don’t like Windows — if Apple and all things Mac vanished tomorrow, I’d either switch to Linux or give up computers entirely. But this is the way the world works, and libraries are seldom willing to lose their funding over OS preferences.)

    (2) You also don’t know your history — X11 was originally intended to be the answer to the window and control systems on Mac OS and Windows. And it was going to put them to shame because it was going to be technologically superior. It has been relegated to the role of managing the drawing of windows precisely because, well, even Linux users couldn’t pretend it lived up to the promises made on its behalf. That’s where second-tier management schemes like KDE and Gnome came in.

    To answer the question you asked: Sendmail has to do with UI design because, even though it is a command-line program, it is a prime example of How Not To Do It, and the ways in which it does what Should Not Be Done are mirrored in how Linux GUIs work. Sendmail pulls a vast number of functions into one program. It is not tolerant of user error, and to use it properly requires either a lot of memorization or else constant reference to… well, if you’re good at manipulating the command line, lots of reference to the man page(s), but for most people, lots of reference to a lot of reference material, including the man pages, at least one good FAQ, and maybe a book or two. Even longtime command-line gurus — of whom, by the way, I do not claim to be one — get confused and frustrated by it. Yet the Linux (and Unix) community has traditionally held onto Sendmail instead of replacing it with multiple simpler commands, preferring to fossilize the Sendmail-using scripts and wallpaper over the result.

    Many parts of Linux GUIs are basically just command-line questions put into dialog boxes. (Look, for example, at CUPS — I hope Apple cleans it up, now that they’ve bought the rights.) To an experienced Linux user, or even a sufficiently experienced user of some other OS, these dialogs are not too much of a problem. And, hey, they’ve replaced that command line with a GUI, so it’s all good, right? But from a GUI design standpoint, they are failures. If the user ever has to know exactly what to type, the GUI has failed. If the user has to type the same thing into two different locations (or copy the same file into two different places, etc.) the GUI has failed. If the user ever has to look up documentation to figure out how to find a place to make a chance, the GUI has failed. Most importantly, if the user has to look in the documentation and finds that it is missing or out of date — which is a huge problem on Linux, even bigger than bad GUI design — then not only the GUI is wrong but the user interface as a whole is faulty.

    It’s like watching the mayor construct a gigantic modern hygienic sewage treatment plant in the middle of the downtown area — first he’s puzzled that nobody wants to go downtown any more, even with this spiffy new technological marvel to look at. Then he decides that the problem will be solved by improving the efficiency of the plant so that it can process even more sewage. When that doesn’t work, he starts offering guided tours to bring more people in. The notion that the problem is the sewage treatment plant will never enter his head. In his idealized world, the mere fact that the plant is modern and clean trumps everything else. Plus he never had much of a sense of smell anyway.

    P.S. I didn’t say Linux was feature-for-feature identical to System 5 on the Mac. I said it was about as user-friendly. That isn’t the worst possible rating by any means — System 5 had all the old black-and-white Mac stuff evolved to more or less its final form. But it had lots of rough edges when you went to do certain things. Go look up some screenshots of the MacTCP control panel, for example.

  34. #34 BT Murtagh
    October 29, 2007

    The Vicar‘s remarks strike me as being pretty much out of date. I’m not afraid of a command line, either DOS or shell, but [K]Ubuntu in its Feisty or Gutsy incarnations don’t require it at all, and the GUIs are very polished now.

    It’s still quicker to do some tasks on the shell, just as there are still things it is quicker to do in DOS vs. the WIndows GUI, but there is absolutely nothing stopping someone from living in the GUI, especially KDE.

    I fixed an old computer for a totally non-cyber friend and installed Feisty Kubuntu on it. He’d never used anything but Windows, never even went into DOS, and he still doesn’t use the Linux shell, and he’s happy as a clam with it.

  35. #35 Caesar
    October 29, 2007

    Ubuntu rocks. What sucks is all the Ubuntu users ripping on Macs.

    Ubuntu is more open, OS X is more usable. It’s really down to which you prefer between open and usable.

    - Ubuntu: Openness: Doing things to your computer.
    - Mac OS X: Usability: Doing things with your computer.

    I prefer the “doing with” (hence: Macs) over the “doing to”.

    What’s interesting is, for a proprietary OS, OS X is quite open, while for a free OS, Ubuntu is quite usable. Even so, the differences are still notable.

  36. #36 Jerry
    October 29, 2007

    I have no idea how anyone could think the Ubuntu GUI is in any way inferior to Windows. To rank it on par with Win95 or 98 is wildly inaccurate; I’ve been using Ubuntu for a couple years now both at home and at work, and while I love having the command line flexibility, I do many, many things with the GUI without ever having to type a single character. Oh, and Open Office reads Word documents too.

  37. #37 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    Believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of computer users do not want to learn anything about how to use their computer, beyond the absolute minimum needed to get their tasks done.

    but, that doesn’t make an overly simplified interface a better one, now does it.

    or did you want to argue that the lowest common denominator is the group that all things should be designed for?

    Moreover, I really think you are tremendously overstating the “complexity” of the GUI interfaces developed for Linux, even from several years back, let alone current versions.

    my question is why you seem so heavily motivated to do so?

    are you trying to get those interested in developing linux guis to make them even simpler? ’cause if so, I rather doubt any of them happen to be perusing this thread.

    what, exactly, is your point?

  38. #38 John at UConn
    October 29, 2007

    Uh, TheVicar, X was released in 1984, windows 1.0 was release in 1985, the Macintosh was released in 1984. X was writtened to extend the features of other Unix based windowing systems. It was the first hardware and vendor independent window system. X came from the academic and commercial Unix world, designed to run on terminals. It wasn’t available for PCs until 1992.

  39. #39 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    wait… “the vicar”, oh i get it -

    you were abused by Linux when you were a kid. Touched you inappropriately, did it?

    Is that why you feel so motivated to rag on it now?

    :p

  40. #40 Greg Laden
    October 29, 2007

    You go girl! I could always tell there was something special about Skatje.

  41. #41 Elaine
    October 29, 2007

    Katie rocks. I’ve been running Linux as my primary desktop for four years now and Ubuntu for over a year. Just upgraded to Gutsy Gibbon.

  42. #42 Reginald Selkirk
    October 29, 2007


    You know all those movies and TV shows, where the protagonist sits down at the computer, says, “Now, if I just interpolate the matrix for the Bayesian setting, we should be able to tell who murdered Jimmy,” hits twenty keys, the screen zooms around, and up pops a picture and detailed bio of Umar the terrorist hamster?

    That is *exactly* what using Leopard is like.

    OK, so you’re saying that Leopard is fiction.

  43. #43 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Still laughing at Umar the terrorist hamster! :-D

    OS X > Linux > Windows XP > Windows 98 > Vista

    Vista is that bad? Wow.

    But I have yet to see a Linux which is better than Windows XP. You see, under Windows, printers work. And instead of crashing decently, Linux becomes slower and slower and then freezes, so you need a long time to even figure out it has really crashed for good, and the mouse is the first instead of the last thing that stops working…

    Comment 42 is right about the mindset behind Linux: in Windows, you are not allowed to do anything yourself — in Linux, you have to do everything yourself.

    And do the newer Linux distributions allow you to eject a CD by pressing the button on the CD drive?

    Oh, and Open Office reads Word documents too.

    Poorly. Same for Star Office, BTW. And that’s not surprising, because MS Office is partly written in binary.

    Mess with what’s there, get it to do exactly what you want. With a lot of stuff, it’s almost overstating to call it programming… it’s more often about scripting, combining existing stuff to get what you want. Yes, there’s occasionally some fiddling with setup. The video stuff, in particular, you need some patience to get going, on Debian, at least. But there’s quite the reward once you do.

    You do realize that you’re talking about becoming an expert first, don’t you?

    ———-

    BTW, I’ve seen quite impressive Mac OS X crashes. One of them worse than the average Blue Screen of Death, which in turn I haven’t seen in years. <duck & cover>

  44. #44 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Still laughing at Umar the terrorist hamster! :-D

    OS X > Linux > Windows XP > Windows 98 > Vista

    Vista is that bad? Wow.

    But I have yet to see a Linux which is better than Windows XP. You see, under Windows, printers work. And instead of crashing decently, Linux becomes slower and slower and then freezes, so you need a long time to even figure out it has really crashed for good, and the mouse is the first instead of the last thing that stops working…

    Comment 42 is right about the mindset behind Linux: in Windows, you are not allowed to do anything yourself — in Linux, you have to do everything yourself.

    And do the newer Linux distributions allow you to eject a CD by pressing the button on the CD drive?

    Oh, and Open Office reads Word documents too.

    Poorly. Same for Star Office, BTW. And that’s not surprising, because MS Office is partly written in binary.

    Mess with what’s there, get it to do exactly what you want. With a lot of stuff, it’s almost overstating to call it programming… it’s more often about scripting, combining existing stuff to get what you want. Yes, there’s occasionally some fiddling with setup. The video stuff, in particular, you need some patience to get going, on Debian, at least. But there’s quite the reward once you do.

    You do realize that you’re talking about becoming an expert first, don’t you?

    ———-

    BTW, I’ve seen quite impressive Mac OS X crashes. One of them worse than the average Blue Screen of Death, which in turn I haven’t seen in years. <duck & cover>

  45. #45 dzd
    October 29, 2007

    Mess with what’s there, get it to do exactly what you want. With a lot of stuff, it’s almost overstating to call it programming… it’s more often about scripting, combining existing stuff to get what you want. Yes, there’s occasionally some fiddling with setup. The video stuff, in particular, you need some patience to get going, on Debian, at least. But there’s quite the reward once you do.

    Meanwhile, the OSX way is to offer the features that 95% of users actually need out of the box–without limiting your choices afterwards. You don’t have to install 900 conflicting packages and glue them together yourself in order to send a video to YouTube, but you can if you want to.

    The Linux “design philosophy” is to confront the user with choice paralysis right out of the gate. What distro? What window manager? What skin? What packages? It’s worse than the six-different-versions-of-Vista marketing plan. Sure, you can achieve an unparalleled level of customizability. But this will never achieve mainstream acceptance in much the same way that building your own computer from parts will never overtake buying a prebuilt Dell–the vast majority of people don’t care whether they have Intel or AMD inside, much less whether their motherboard is a P35 or 965 chipset.

  46. #46 The Vicar
    October 29, 2007

    Okay, I lied. I’m posting again. (Boo!)

    Uh, TheVicar, X was released in 1984, windows 1.0 was release in 1985, the Macintosh was released in 1984.

    The GUI features which are considered to be “the Mac” were designed around 1980, essentially completed in 1982 and released in January 1983 as the Lisa. The first machine to ship with the name “Mac” didn’t come out until 1984, true, but go look at some screenshots of the Lisa in action and tell me how different it was from the initial Mac systems. (Actually — it was different. The Lisa cost an arm and a leg compared to the first Mac, and thus had better hardware and could do more, such as serious multitasking. But from a GUI perspective, the Lisa and the first Mac are very, very similar.

    Now I’m curious – in what way do the printers I use both at home and at work (under Linux) NOT work? Enlighten me, because I could have sworn I just printed this week’s quiz for my students a minute ago. :)

    Try sharing a printer which does not have a network card built in between two computers. Or, better yet, go and get someone who isn’t a computer guru and have them do it. If they can manage it at all on Linux, they’re doing better than most such people.

    but, that doesn’t make an overly simplified interface a better one, now does it.
    or did you want to argue that the lowest common denominator is the group that all things should be designed for?
    Moreover, I really think you are tremendously overstating the “complexity” of the GUI interfaces developed for Linux, even from several years back, let alone current versions.
    my question is why you seem so heavily motivated to do so?
    are you trying to get those interested in developing linux guis to make them even simpler? ’cause if so, I rather doubt any of them happen to be perusing this thread.

    You’re proving (one of) my point(s). Linux people can’t tell the difference between “simple” and “limited”.

    Mac OS X is a POSIX-compliant OS with BSD underpinnings. (It’s best to put that up front, because I find that a surprising number of Linux and Windows users have no clue that Mac OS X is a Unix variant.) I can drop into the command line and bit-twiddle to my heart’s content. I can install X11 and work in the horrible messes known as OpenOffice.org and The GIMP if I want. I can even download the source for the Kernel and recompile it, although quite frankly a good OS doesn’t bother to make Kernel recompiles easy, it makes them unnecessary. Perl? Ruby on rails? Java? No problem. emacs? Got it (although it’s an abomination). Mac OS X comes with both Apache and Samba preinstalled, not that that’s such a big deal these days. I can use a makefile, set up a crontab, and edit /etc/fstab if I want.

    But I don’t have to do any of that if I don’t want to. It is possible, even common these days, for a Mac user to successfully browse the web, set up network printers, and do file sharing without ever seeing the acronym “TCP/IP”, let alone having to type in a numeric IP address. When I attach a disk to the OS, it is mounted and ready to use, it doesn’t hover in limbo until I remember to issue a “mount” command. (And yes, I realize that Linux distros are finally starting to get better on that issue.) If I get really lost and need help, the help files will be up to date and reasonably complete. Anything in the OS which can use autodiscovery, does, and puts the discovered stuff in a location where I can see it.

    Windows is not as easy to use — my pet theory is that Microsoft is secretly staffed by Martians, or maybe some kind of sentient reptile, and so they don’t quite understand what a human being finds annoying or useful and have to try things to find out what our reactions are before they can actually build something that holds together.

    Linux, on the other hand… well, Linux gives me a choice between having to know nearly everything, or being unable to do almost anything. That’s okay if I already know nearly everything, and most Linux users already have learned at least that subset of everything which they need. But a user who doesn’t already have The Knowledge is given a choice between having a crippled system (and maddeningly being told that the crippled parts are his or her own fault) or spending a lot of time learning before being able to actually use the system.

    wait… “the vicar”, oh i get it -
    you were abused by Linux when you were a kid. Touched you inappropriately, did it?

    A Linux geek who doesn’t get a Monty Python reference? What is the world coming to?

  47. #47 John
    October 29, 2007

    You’re proving (one of) my point(s). Linux people can’t tell the difference between “simple” and “limited”.

    I can’t believe I’m getting drawn into a Mac vs. Linux fight.

    Recently, I had a problem with the hard drive on my laptop. Bad blocks started showing up all over the place, including the catalog metadata. In HFS+, that’s a *bad* thing. One could critique the file system design, but I won’t right now. (One can also use other file systems, but I tend to stick with the reasonable defaults.) Anyway, root file system no mount: computer go sad.

    Being an experienced industry professional and a disaster recovery/business continuity guru, I hadn’t run a backup in a couple of weeks.

    Oops.

    So I booted the laptop into target mode, plugged it into another laptop, and cloned the faulty drive onto a disk image. I replaced the drive in the laptop, repaired the filesystem on the disk image, and cloned it back onto the new drive.

    Not once did I use the command line.

    Is this a procedure that my 77 year-old mother could do? No. All she would be able to do is say, “My computer’s not working.” Had I ever done it before? No. In fact, I thought it up, right there, on the spot.

    It was simple and fast. It worked exactly the way that I thought it would. No surprises, no gotchas. I didn’t need to look anything up. I didn’t need to install any other software packages. When I was done and the machine rebooted, I didn’t need to reconfigure anything and the environment looked exactly the same as it had before, except for the extra forty gigs on the new hard drive.

    That’s the kind of thing that happens on the Mac: things work, except when they don’t. And when they don’t, it’s not because you don’t know something, or because you couldn’t figure out how to do it right, it’s because there’s something wrong.

    And what I love most about Leopard? Finally, the pager is really friggin’ efficient.

  48. #48 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    October 29, 2007

    Try sharing a printer which does not have a network card built in between two computers.

    You mean … just like I do at home? It’s not that hard to do, although some old Ubuntu releases made it more difficult than it had to be. With Fedora, you just check a box to allow the printer to be shared.

    When I attach a disk to the OS, it is mounted and ready to use, it doesn’t hover in limbo until I remember to issue a “mount” command. (And yes, I realize that Linux distros are finally starting to get better on that issue.)

    What modern Linux distribution is unable to automatically mount removable media? Come now, you cab troll better than that!

    The Linux “design philosophy” is to confront the user with choice paralysis right out of the gate.

    The funny thing is … that’s the reason there’s a distribution like Ubuntu. Ubuntu preinstalls what they think most people will use. You don’t get twenty text editors, six web browsers, four office suites, etc. You get the “best” of each. You want all the choice? You can get it – but a stock Ubuntu install is immediately useful.

  49. #49 Dark Matter
    October 29, 2007

    David Marjanovi?, OM wrote:

    But I have yet to see a Linux which is better than Windows XP. You see, under Windows, printers work. And instead of crashing decently, Linux becomes slower and slower and then freezes, so you need a long time to even figure out it has really crashed for good, and the mouse is the first instead of the last thing that stops working…

    What distribs have you worked with? I’ve never had any problems with printers with Linux-I’ve installed various distribs on my laptop and put Ubuntu on my old IMac..it works fine.

    Comment 42 is right about the mindset behind Linux: in Windows, you are not allowed to do anything yourself — in Linux, you have to do everything yourself.

    That’s the way I Like it actually..PCLinuxOS is a great distrib to recommend to those curious about linux…pretty much ready to go out of the box. I’m sending this from a PCLinuxOS laptop with wireless now.

    And do the newer Linux distributions allow you to eject a CD by pressing the button on the CD drive?

    PCLinuxOS does this just fine…as a matter of fact I just did it…

  50. #50 The Vicar
    October 29, 2007

    although some old Ubuntu releases made it more difficult than it had to be

    “some old Ubuntu releases”? Try “every Linux distro that uses the default CUPS interface”. (Well, okay, I admit that I haven’t had to set up a printer in Linux since Apple bought the rights to CUPS last year. It may have improved since then, in which case it says more about Linux GUI design than you perhaps would like.)

    What modern Linux distribution is unable to automatically mount removable media? Come now, you cab troll better than that!

    Most Linux distros won’t auto-mount any partition which is not in a Linux-native format (like NTFS), and an overwhelming majority of “Live CD” versions won’t do it. (I can forgive not mounting HFS/HFS+ volumes read-write, because Linux doesn’t even have a concept of quite a lot of the filesystem metadata on HFS, let alone any reasonable way of dealing with — admittedly increasingly rare — multi-fork files. But that’s no excuse for not mounting them read-only.)

    “Users should stick to Linux filesystems” is not a valid answer to this. The majority of computer users out there are on Windows, like it or not. Failing to deal with their existing data in an intelligent fashion is a major failure.

    You don’t get twenty text editors, six web browsers, four office suites, etc. You get the “best” of each.

    Okay, now that’s just sad. It’s like being given a McDonald’s hamburger and being told it’s the best cuisine in town.

  51. #51 Nomen Nescio
    October 29, 2007

    instead of crashing decently, Linux becomes slower and slower and then freezes, so you need a long time to even figure out it has really crashed for good, and the mouse is the first instead of the last thing that stops working

    the closest i’ve ever come to seeing that kind of symptoms under linux, they were caused by dramatically too little RAM installed. except in that case, the machine in question never did completely lock up (it just became unusably slow to respond for minutes at a time) and the mouse was the last to stop responding, not the first.

    to run any modern GUI OS, you need about a gig of RAM. yes, that’s a very sad fact, but true. trying to run a modern Windows, or even a modern Linux, on 256M or less will produce a machine that acts very much as described above.

    (our clergyman friend, however, very clearly lives under a bridge. the experiences he describes are at least half a decade behind the technology curve, as those of us who’ve kept up can attest. ixnay on eedfay the olltray, people.)

  52. #52 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    October 29, 2007

    Try “every Linux distro that uses the default CUPS interface”.

    Name ‘em. And make sure you don’t add any distributions that package Gnome or KDE front-ends for printer management. :)

    to run any modern GUI OS, you need about a gig of RAM. yes, that’s a very sad fact, but true. trying to run a modern Windows, or even a modern Linux, on 256M or less will produce a machine that acts very much as described above.

    Of course, if you’re really stuck at 256M of memory, you’re probably also talking about a machine that’s a decade old. Who uses those?

    That said, I *do* have an old Thinkpad (from 1998) with 320M ram that can run the latest Ubuntu, provided you turn off some of the more “expensive” eye candy. I’d hate to think what Vista would do on that poor old machine!

  53. #53 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    A Linux geek who doesn’t get a Monty Python reference? What is the world coming to?

    funny, but most pythonites exhibit a good dose of wit, which you seem to be lacking.

    You also exhibit an awful lot of assumptions. don’t need to be a “Linux geek” to use Linux. Really.

    You’re proving (one of) my point(s). Linux people can’t tell the difference between “simple” and “limited”.

    huh? how is asking you what your weird ass motivation for being so vocal about this issue relate to this? Only in your mind, I’d guess. Also, since I use all 3 OS’s under discussion here, and already made that clear, your procession under continuing false assumptions renders your arguments laughable at best.

    (It’s best to put that up front, because I find that a surprising number of Linux and Windows users have no clue that Mac OS X is a Unix variant.)

    anybody involved in this discussion that doesn’t know this?

    raise your hand.

    yeah, that’s what i thought.

    anybody feel like the Vicar of projection is thinking he is talking to children?

    raise your hand.

    yeah…

    sorry, but at this point, I think you little more than an asshole that’s trying to pretend he actually knows something, in order to try and impress a bunch of people who really couldn’t give a flying fuck because we already utilize all 3 operating systems in various ways.

    which also explains your motivations for your rants – you actually don’t seem to have a point, so obviously you just want some attention.
    there really is no other explanation that fits.

    sad, really.

    or, did you actually HAVE a point in there, somewhere, Mr. Gumby?

  54. #54 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    Funny, I always thought that it was disagreeing with the owner of the site which was a symptom of trolling

    wrong again.

    trolling is a direct fishing analogy. When one “trolls” as a fishing method, one is dragging a baited hook/artificial lure through the water.

    when one is accused of trolling on the internet, it simply means the accuser thinks the accused is putting up “bait” (extreme/ridiculous argument) simply in order to entice a bite (emotional response).

    there ya go, genius.

    and yes, you do exhibit a lot of things (like not actually having a point, but using a lot of overgeneralized assumptions and inflammatory rhetoric) that might make one conclude you are simply trolling for attention.

    like i did in my previous post.

  55. #55 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    Okay, now that’s just sad. It’s like being given a McDonald’s hamburger and being told it’s the best cuisine in town.

    uh, no it’s not.
    It’s like not being offered six different types of hamburgers.
    that’s all.

    You misrepresented what someone said in an intentionally inflammatory fashion.
    that’s an excellent indicator of someone who is trolling.

    learning yet?

    am i being condescending enough for you?

  56. #56 SKFK
    October 30, 2007

    I gotta agree with BT Murtagh and Ichthyic. The Vicar sounds like someone who fiddled with Linux about ten years ago and knows little about what’s happened in Linux userbase since then, but doesn’t let that keep him from pretending that he knows what he’s talking about. I’ve been using Linux for last three years or so (dual-booting with Windows XP), first with Fedora and now with Ubuntu since Feisty Fawn, and I’ve never had to deal with anything The Vicar mentions. I have no idea what CUPS interface even means, all I know is that my HP Deskjet printer worked perfectly right from the first installation. Plug in an external hard drive or USB drive, it shows up on the desktop right away. I can access all of the files on the Windows XP partition simply by clicking the very first icon on the desktop. The last time I had to deal with the acronym TCP/IP was way back when I was using Windows 95, and I never had to set up anything to browse the web on Linux. All of my email accounts are web-based anyway, so I don’t even know what “sendmail” command is. In fact, ever since I moved away from Fedora and picked up Ubuntu, I haven’t had to use the terminal at all.

  57. #57 dveej
    October 30, 2007

    WARNING!! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!

    [that's a reference to an old TV show from the 60s]

    Do not switch to Ubuntu unless you have tons and tons of time to spend on resolving driver issues for wireless and soundcards.

    The people who say it plugs and plays are lucky, because they happen to own a machine that has components which plug and play. Many, many of us own, for example, Toshiba Satellite laptops, which Ubuntu does not like the soundcards or wireless cards for.
    Now, as a Linux maven will hasten to tell you, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the wireless card and the soundcard to work. But you have to go on to a forum, and search for your particular problem, and take hours and hours trying varying fixes posted by well-meaning people who got their machine to work a couple of years ago, and now some of the links are dead, and sometimes the people don’t have the best command of English, so you’ll get to page 42 of a particularly long wild-goose-chase fix for a particular problem only to find that a) you don’t know what a shell script is or how to use it, or some such Linux-oriented jargon; b) the instructions the person is giving you aren’t clear because English is not their first language; c) the person writing the fix you’re trying desperately to apply to your computer wrote the fix many months ago, and the fix has been superseded by newer fixes; d) people who love Linux will get a bit pissy if you get frustrated with all of this and they’ll just keep referring you to wild-goose-chase fixes.

    The much-vaunted community support for Ubuntu is fairly rife with “should”, as in: “You should know what a terminal is, and if you don’t, you haven’t done your homework.” or “You should not expect things to work immediately, as they do in XP or Panther, because Ubuntu is heroic and morally pure, being open source.

    Oh, when I read that Skatje was installing Ubuntu, I crrrringed: I just hope she doesn’t have all the myriad of compatibility issues I have had to deal with plus the deadlines I am still dealing with.

    And, LilyPond? Are you joking? Comparing LilyPond to Sibelius or Finale – words almost fail me, but I’ll try: any actual musician who has to get a score looking halfway decent NEEDS the speed and accuracy a mouse will provide. Real musicians use Sibelius or Finale – not because we hate open source (I don’t), but because You Can’t Do Things In LilyPond That You Can Do In Finale. Typing everything in verbally is much slower than using a mouse, and the visual results in LilyPond are limited to very few options – unlike Sibelius or Finale.

    DON”T SWITCH TO UBUNTU UNLESS YOU HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF TIME TO FRITTER AWAY ON THE LEARNING CURVE!!!

    a sadder but wiser dveej, who wishes the world were a more ideal place…

  58. #58 AJS
    October 30, 2007

    I can assure you, people do still write *roff markup. I had to learn how, to create a man page for a Perl script I wrote once.

    While we’re at it, is anyone else here old enough to remember Wordwise Plus on the BBC computer? You typed your text (with markup) in 40 columns (the lowest-memory, char-mapped mode ….. er ….. is anyone else here even old enough to remember character-mapped screens?) and it was printed in (up to) 80 columns. That forced you to think about the content rather than the presentation.

  59. #59 dveej
    October 30, 2007

    #106, let’s have a contest: I will type the first page of Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune by Debussy with Finale, and you will type it with LilyPond.

    I will win both in terms of time spent and in terms of visually acceptable music.

    And good luck on your crusade to get people believing that a mouse is slower than a command line. I don’t buy it, and I have great respect for the command line.

  60. #60 SKFK
    November 2, 2007

    I guess dveej is one of those people who believe that putting up a bunch of links alone will be enough to convince others, because most people won’t actually click on them. I did, and out of the sixteen links dveej put up, five threads were started by users letting others know how to solve problems with Toshiba Satellite. I saw only two or three threads where the solutions weren’t offered, and one of them (the very first link, as a matter of fact) was started only one day ago. So putting up all those links to support the claim “It looks like I just might not be the only Toshiba Satellite owner with a Ubuntu problem that hasn’t been solved!” is rather disingenuous.

  61. #61 tus
    March 7, 2008

    PZ…how could you…
    *hugs his linux system*
    linux is the best OS, and while sure ubuntu isnt as good as debian, its certainly best for the inexperienced.

    and os-x is a unix decendant as well…we shouldnt be fighting, we should be united against a common crappy OS…windows….(every time i get a little nostalgic for windows, think i might miss it…i use it for a bit…and am quickly reminded why i love linux…such a horrible os…)

    it goes a bit like this:
    unix>linux>os-x>dos>windows…yes…dos is better than windows…

    id make a relation for all the flavours of linux…but:
    http://208.103.44.197/apache2-default/Gldt.png
    the linux family tree…there are a lot of families…

    i find your dislike of linux entirely unfounded…

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!