back to article The year GNOMES, Ubuntu sufferers forked off to Mint Linux

It's been a rough year for Linux on the desktop. More specifically, it's been a rough year for GNOME-based Linux on the desktop. But a glimmer of hope may have appeared thanks to a Mint-flavoured distribution of the open-source operating system. KDE, XFCE and other desktop interfaces soldiered on in 2012 in their stolid ways, …


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  1. John H Woods Silver badge

    On the off-chance any of you missed it ...

    ... this has to be one of the funniest Ubuntu bug reports I've ever seen, (complaining that 'grep' does not automatically search Amazon):

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...

      I missed that, thanks for the laugh. Reminds me of what went on in alt.sysadmin.recovery when usenet was still free of spam. Someone is trying to revive it, but I have no wish to go near Google groups without a lawyer - there are far too many people who cannot distinguish between black humour and serious intent. Not that I mind - keeps them frightened :).

      1. Christoph

        Re: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...

        Simple - if something's posted in the monastery it's very black humour.

        And if it's serious it's banned by the monastery's posting guidelines.

      2. jake Silver badge

        @Fred (was: Re: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...)

        Ignore dejagoogroups ... instead, install leafnode and ask a provider for a feed to whatever small number of non-binary groups you enjoy reading. I use my alma mater's, but search on "free news feed" if you don't have that option.

        Contrary to popular opinion, Usenet is alive & well, despite the gootwats attempts to kill it.

        1. Chemist

          Re: @Fred (was: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...)

          I've read all this article with a feeling of disbelief - my and mine have been using Linux happily for years without any of the problems and traumas depicted.

          Only today I've edited a video, installed some bluetooth tools, converted the last of my vinyl disks to digital and done the usual e-mails etc. without any drama or bother - what is it with you people ?

          Otherwise Happy New Year !

          1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

            Re: @Fred (was: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...)

            The issue I have is not with Linux per se, I use it for servers and websites and it just works, and I have been doing that for *years*. The issue is that I need a couple of specialists programs to run on a sensible desktop, and no such thing exists for Linux because too many confuse Open Source with Free for everything. As a simple example, there isn't anything usable as a Visio replacement, and I really cannot spend all day doing all this manually. The other problem I have is that the moment I get comfortable with anything (KDE/GNOME), some idiot changes it all and I really don't have time for that (I now run Mint).

            That's why I like OSX: I have a Unix based OS under the hood, and a stable platform where people still consider usability as important (it's not perfect, but it's the best so far - naturally, based on *my* needs, I cannot speak for anyone else). I use Omnigraffle Pro which gives me the required Visio capability, but much faster, more usable and more aesthetically pleasing as well. But here too I prefer OpenOffice because I'm familiar with it, and up until now they have resisted the urge to copy Microsoft and destroy usability with this stupid ribbon idea..

            All I have now is a VM with Windows XP which takes 30 minutes of updating and patching and downloading virus signatures before it's anywhere near usable - only being switched on for maybe once every 2 weeks clearly shows just how much patching goes on. But that will at least stop now support is discontinued :).

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Fred (was: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...)

              Support isn't discontinued. XP is supported until April 2014. If you want a year longer, go Server 2003 and you're sorted till 2015. Windows 7 and Server 2008 are supported till 2020 and Windows 8 and 2012 are until 2023.

              I dumped GNU/Linux for Windows (I started with Fedora Core 3 and ended with Ubuntu 12.10) because it's regressed so much. The problem isn't so much the GNU/Linux part per-se, it's the everything else on top that sucks. Like Xorg being an insecure pile of vomit without any indication of Wayland having security improvements for protecting against the shatter attacks that Xorg is extremely vulnerable to. The fact that GNOME 3 sucked, KDE 4 is still bloated and Unity, XFCE, LXDE and the others don't even handle notifications consistently means you never have a "fully working" desktop. Not to mention the lack of QA, the only decent distro from my experience QA-wise is RHEL (or CentOS) and it lacks forwards compatibility - don't expect proprietary apps not certified for it to work very well if they're compiled on a newer toolchain.

              If Mac OS X had the API and ABI stability of Win32 (all my stuff still working decades later to the point where no video game or crucial app will fail before it's safely VMable), a 10 year support period with guaranteed 5 years worth of backporting for forwards-compatibility with newer OS iterations (so new stuff works, even without having new features) and protection against shatter attacks, I'd sell my soul to Apple in an instant. Apple don't have formal EOL policies and don't maintain full API/ABI compatibility between 10.x releases either. I wish they'd fix these issues so I could finally switch to an OS that's fun again - even if it is gradually going the way of the walled garden these days.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...

      Priceless! I almost felt sorry for the gnome people.

      ... almost, I say.

    3. akeane

      Re: On the off-chance any of you missed it ...

      Nonsense, this so-called "akeane" is just a trouble maker looking for a cheap laugh!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows + mingw + GnuWin32 = job done.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


        for Fedora + Cinnamon

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eww, just eww. Windows that don't maximize properly and don't let you select text (no, that abysmal mark blocks of uselessness mode doesn't count).

    3. jake Silver badge

      The one Windows machine (Win2K) has Cygwin on it.

      Not certain why, it's only been used for AutoCAD for the last 13 years or so,

      The one aging iMac has most of the GNU toolchain on it. Handy sometimes.

      Everything else runs Slackware (users) or BSD (servers). Sorted.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good question

    So why go out on a limb to turn on a feature that's largely useless, potentially offensive, may violate user privacy and is insecure to boot?

    The only answer which makes any sense to me (and this seems to be consistent with the developers' attitude to those who don't like the way that the UI has gone) is that Canonical have made a conscious decision to break with the main community of Linux users and go for the masses who don't really care as long as they can easily 'get stuff' - because that's where the money is.

    The big flaw with this approach is that the only way most 'consumers' will see Linux is if they know someone willing to set it up for them. And those helpful people will tend to be the ones that Canonical have pissed off, and they will most likely be setting Mint (or anything but Ubuntu) up instead.

    That, of course, will all change when OEMs start providing PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed (but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen).

    1. Raumkraut

      Re: A good question

      Another explanation could be that Canonical are trying to move away from having a "desktop environment", to having a "computing environment". Beyond tradition, is there any reason why an OS search field shouldn't also search the internet? Why should people have to open a web browser to perform a search, when there is search functionality built into the standard UI? I see it as a step toward a ChromeOS-like experience, where "the network is the computer".

      The problem that Canonical have is that, unlike ChromeOS (but like Windows 8, as it happens), they're trying to alter the core experience of an existing product, whose current users have ingrained expectations.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Ring, Ring is the 90's. It wants its slogans back.

        But the network is NOT the computer, and won't be unless some serious security and cognitive problems have been resolved first.

        Sure, it's fine to run some software which blurs the lines between local and remote, as long as it is done in a controlled environment. Like a Virtual Machine. Or, barring that, a browser.

        > Beyond tradition, is there any reason why an OS search field shouldn't also search the internet?

        Yes. If you are not interested in remote results, remote results shouldn't be retrieved or shown.

        Why should there be a magic search functionality in the standard UI that throws the kitchen sink at you when you look for yesterday's documents? Beats me.

      2. Captain Save-a-ho

        Re: A good question

        Beyond tradition, is there any reason why an OS search field shouldn't also search the internet?

        It's not a both/and scenario, to me. It could be very useful to get internet search results, but only when I want them. If I'm searching for local files, I absolutely do NOT want internet search results. And vice versa. There may well be scenarios where both results would be desired, but surely that isn't the norm and it really needs to be up to each user.

        Why is it so fucking hard to just make options available to the user? This is precisely why I'm still running Debian Linux and why I haven't bothered to move to a Mac. Give me choices, damn it!

        1. Tom 35

          Re: A good question

          If the computer is in a legal or Doctor's office the search could leak private info if you make a specific search.

        2. Bent Outta Shape

          Re: A good question - @Captain Save-a-ho

          Have an upvote - you typed pretty much *exactly* what I felt.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A good question

        "Beyond tradition, is there any reason why an OS search field shouldn't also search the internet?"

        It doesn't search the Internet. It searches Amazon, which is not the Internet. Mixing search results with ads to buy something looks to me really a very stupid idea, unless Canonical is very desperate about money.

        And anyway I should be able to tell my PC when to search locally, when to search on my LAN, and when to search in the Internet or a combination of the above. If I know a damned file is on my diks, I can't see why it should 1) tell Amazon 2) search the whole Internet....

      4. Tom 35

        having a "computing environment"

        The excuse for Windows 8 is that MS want to sell phones and make lots of money like Apple...

        What is Canonical's excuse for creating unusable crap?

      5. Greg J Preece

        Re: A good question

        I see it as a step toward a ChromeOS-like experience, where "the network is the computer".

        Ah yes, the thin client. Those didn't really work in the '90s either.

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Greg J Preece (was: Re: A good question)

          Personally, I run many of the ultimate "thin clients". Serial terminals, to be precise. Un*x is funny that way ... with the right drivers/shims, you can send a login to any text terminal. Down in the machine-room/museum/mausoleum I have a bank of eight 3151 amber on black terminals & Model M keyboards connected through an Arnet D-sub "connector box"[1] wired into a proprietary card via an IBM cable (DB62HD? Has been a lot of years ...), which in turn is plugged into a similar vintage PS2 running AIX, which provides thin-net access to the rest of the system. It's sister card controls eight more terminals, four here in the office & four in the Wife's office in the barn.

          Glitter doesn't get work done.


      6. Eddy Ito

        Re: A good question

        "Why should people have to open a web browser to perform a search, when there is search functionality built into the standard UI?"

        This is one of those things that pops up every so often and typically fails to gain much traction. Think back to Watson and Apple's copy Sherlock which was replaced by the desktop search utility Spotlight. Essentially they were just a metasearch that grabs info from both the local filesystem and internet search engines. For some reason they aren't very popular but I'd hazard a guess that most folks prefer a clear delineation of different searches and search tools.

      7. P. Lee

        Re: A good question

        I suspect here's where they got sucked into their own misconceptions: tablet interface means no user generated content (because a tablet's a difficult place to generate content) therefore the only content we expect people to want is on the network.

        Something like firefox's "search provider" icon or hp touchpad's "search provider" list should have been used. If there was a click box to use search amazon which wasn't on by default, I'm sure most people would have been glad for the feature. Now they just look creepy.

      8. JEDIDIAH

        Re: A good question

        > Beyond tradition, is there any reason why an OS search field shouldn't also search the internet?


        The further you get from a register in the microprocessor, the slower things get. The slowness grows by multiple orders of magnitude each time you move outward. By the time you get to an ethernet jack or wireless antenna, you've gotten to a snail's pace and high response times (latency).

        Go beyond your own router and it only gets worse.

        The privacy violations are just an added bonus.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: A good question

      ".....That, of course, will all change when OEMs start providing PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed....." So what's to stop the PC vendors cutting their own search portals into the desktop insetad of Amazon's? Imagine the power it would give the PC vendors to be able to go to Google, Amazon, eBay, etc, and say "Hey, we're shipping x million PCs pre-installed with disto X this year, would you like us to link our built-in desktop search to your search results by default, it will only cost you x$m per year...?" Commecialising Linux makes you subject to the big boys' rules, and even Cannonical isn't big enough to face them down.

    3. westlake

      Re: A good question

      >>Canonical have made a conscious decision to break with the main community of Linux users and go for the masses who don't really care as long as they can easily 'get stuff' - because that's where the money is.

      The big flaw with this approach is that the only way most 'consumers' will see Linux is if they know someone willing to set it up for them. And those helpful people will tend to be the ones that Canonical have pissed off.<<

      Ubuntu is one of the few Linux distributions with strong OEM support.

      Canonical is well known for making practical concessions to the reality of big box retail like the licensing of H,264.

      Google Product Search returns about 1,000 hits of interest to the Ubuntu novice. --- perhaps not surprisingly --- about the same. in a search of books alone.

      If the FSF or a LUG has a significant off-campus presence in upstate New York, I've seen no sign of it in almost fifteen years.

      I doubt I could attract a Linux geek to these premises if I baited the trap with a keg of beer and a girl from one of the border town strip clubs.

      The point being that, if Linux adoption is dependent on personal contacts or the "kindness of strangers," it is doomed to failure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @westlake - Re: A good question

        Ubuntu does indeed seem to have a close relationship with OEMs. The question is - how far does that translate into products available to the masses with Ubuntu pre-installed? From the perspective of the home user, the choices still seem to be almost entirely between versions of Windows.

        Something has to give in order for Ubuntu to become visible as an option to the average home user - Caonical need to turn this close relationship with OEMs into actual installations available in the shops.

        And maybe Matt Bryant's observation above is a valid one - the OEMs could do their own deals with Google etc. to divert searches their way. At least it gets Ubuntu on machines.

        For what it's worth, the only way I can see Ubuntu succeeding is if they can persuade OEMs to offer Dual Windows 8/Ubuntu installations.

        1. westlake

          Re: @westlake - A good question

          >>For what it's worth, the only way I can see Ubuntu succeeding is if they can persuade OEMs to offer Dual Windows 8/Ubuntu installations<<

          The fundamental problem here --- the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about --- is the lack of compelling programs which are Linux only.

          Which is perfectly evident in these official screen shots of the Ubuntu Software Center:

          Maintaining two operating systems. software libraries, and skill sets has all the appeal of root canal without general anesthesia.

          You have to deliver a really big pay-off in return for all that pain and suffering.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @westlake - A good question

            The fundamental problem here --- the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about --- is the lack of compelling programs which are Linux only.

            Yep, which takes us back to the original point - Canonical still need the good will of those who install Linux for friends and family.

            Perhaps when gaming support really takes off things will change, but until then I just don't see any improvement in prospects.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @westlake - A good question

            "The fundamental problem here --- the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about --- is the lack of compelling programs which are Linux only."

            For me there was one compelling application which was Linux only - trust. And Canonical broke it. I've moved to Mint+MATE.

            But, actually there was a compelling software application in my line of work (education) which wasn't just Linux only - it was pretty much Ubuntu only - the Shuttleworth Foundation's SchoolTool ( They've definitely killed that for us now.

          3. Greg J Preece

            Re: @westlake - A good question

            The fundamental problem here --- the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about --- is the lack of compelling programs which are Linux only.

            It's a fair point, though I would argue that those programs do exist. As a novice video editor (but an experienced computing geezer) Kdenlive is a great video editor. It's a piece of piss to use, has a simple interface, but still has a lot of functionality, and supports a wide range of formats.

            Also, K3B is the best CD ripper/burner going, hands down. KDESVN is the best Subversion client I've used, and you don't realise just how good tools like KRDC, KSnapshot or Kompare are until you try them against other such tools (or lack of tools, as is often the case in Win/Mac).

            (If you've noticed that these are all KDE apps, that's because KDE is awesome.)

            Actually, based on that, I'm going to contradict what I originally said. I don't use Linux for the 3rd-party apps. As you rightly pointed out, I can set up Netbeans, Firefox, Skype and the rest on Windows just as readily as Linux. I use Linux for everything around the 3rd-party apps. The superior file and task management, shortcuts, interface customisation, widgets, command line, etc. Put it this way:

            Firefox in Windows and Firefox in Linux are the same.

            Explorer in Windows and Dolphin in Linux are most definitely not the same.

          4. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: @westlake - A good question

            > The fundamental problem here --- the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about ---

            > is the lack of compelling programs which are Linux only.

            Agreed - but NX comes close for my money...

            I run a Linux box which is always online with good connectivity - costs about £5/mo.

            I have NoMachine installed on it, and on my work laptop (which is MS).

            Fire up an NX connection and I have all my *nix utilities (including the one game I play, which is running under wine because Win7 doesn't support it) available. That's nothing special - but various other family members can do the same thing, at the same time (so that £5/month is getting cheaper) and if my connection drops I can just pick up where I left off later.

            I can run either a remote desktop or just run an xterm and fire up other programs on demand.

            It's also a secure connection, so work doesn't get antsy about my network usage, 'cos I'm using my own connection.

            Had to set up a Windows box recently and I somewhat floundered with various tasks I used to consider "easy and obvious" - I could do them under *nix, not windows any more. Inertia is the main reason most people continue to pay M$

      2. Mark 'Brain Fart' Berry

        Re: A good question

        >> I doubt I could attract a Linux geek to these premises if I baited the trap with a keg of beer and a girl from one of the border town strip clubs.

        Beer and ho's? Hey, I'll come.........

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A good question

          we should start our own distro with blackjack and hookers...

      3. JEDIDIAH

        Re: A good question

        > Canonical is well known for making practical concessions to the reality of big box retail like the licensing of H,264.

        So that's why Mint gained so much traction by installing things like h264 support "out of the box"?

        Your portrayal of Canonical is divorced from reality.

  4. Number6

    Mint FTW

    I switched to Mint back in 2008. I'd gotten fed up with Fedora and the frequent upgrade cycles and so had a look at Ubuntu in various flavours, which didn't quite fit. Then I tried Mint and things just worked in a way I was happy with. It's a shame they dropped the LXDE variant, because Mint 9 with LXDE was my preferred small machine choice, with KDE for multi-monitor desktops.

    Of course, the irony is that Mint is piggy-backed on Ubuntu and uses its repositories for support, it's just that they're listening to users a bit better and are producing what people want rather than the "we know best" approach pioneered by Microsoft and taken up by Canonical/Ubuntu.

    1. drewsup
      IT Angle

      Re: Mint FTW

      I'm still using LXDE, you can do a workaround to get LXDE on ver 14. How much of a difference is there between LXDE and the current LMDE??

      1. Raumkraut

        Re: Mint FTW

        LXDE and LMDE are two completely different concepts.

        LXDE ("Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment") is a lightweight alternative to Gnome, KDE, XFCE, etc.

        LMDE ("Linux Mint Debian Edition") is the standard Linux Mint stack built on top of Debian Testing, rather than Ubuntu. It's a rolling-release distro (with large update packs every ~6 months), and something of a gateway drug to running pure Debian Testing (or it was for me, at least).

    2. MacGyver
      IT Angle

      Re: Mint FTW

      My story mirrors yours exactly. I had just built a new NAS so I installed the newest version of Ubuntu (when they first came out with Unity) and was wondering what the hell was going on. I was running away from Windows Vista and 7 & 8 and thought I would be safe with Ubuntu (like I always had been), only to be slapped with the same "we know best for you" attitude of "here's Unity". I can't tell you how sick I am of have the flavor of the week interface being shoved in my face. For crying out loud some of us just want the start-bar of Windows XP, and a menu-based program launcher attached to it. In the end I found the LXDE favor of Mint (after trying Cinnamon, hell I was trying anything that wasn't Unity) and felt at home again.

      Thank for being there Mint.

    3. fung0
      Thumb Up

      Re: Mint FTW

      Number6 said: "it's just that they're listening to users a bit better and are producing what people want rather than the "we know best" approach pioneered by Microsoft and taken up by Canonical/Ubuntu."

      You nailed it. Disregard of user privacy is a secondary problem. The deeper issue here is that Canonical, like too many other development organizations today, have stopped listening to their user base. In fact, they're acting as though it is somehow 'macho' to ignore any preferences expressed by the customer. I hope they enjoy eating their own dog food, because company's not coming...

  5. Eponymous Cowherd

    We don't mind bugs.

    "Cinnamon isn't perfect. In fact it can be quite buggy at times, but at least it's heading in a direction roughly opposite to GNOME and Unity."

    Most Linux users don't mind things being buggy. We hate things being crippled. Hence the dislike of everything Ubuntu is becoming.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: We don't mind bugs.

      Most consumers don't like things being buggy. We hate the user experience being crippled. Hence the like of walled-gardens like Apple and Microsoft, and consumers will pay serious money for it.

      There, fixed it for you. But you'll just have to fix that narrow viewpoint yourself.

      1. Eponymous Cowherd
        Thumb Down

        Re: We don't mind bugs.(Matt Bryant)

        Errm, yes.

        You state you don't like your user experience being crippled, then praise "walled garden" ecosystems where the user experience is crippled and enforced by design.

        Nicely done.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We don't mind bugs.

          "walled garden" ecosystems where the user experience is crippled and enforced by design

          It's exactly these sort of comments that I dislike. I don't care what OS you (evidently blindly) root for, but to declare the choices of other people as nothing more as some desire to belong to a club instead of a deliberate choice after weighing all argument for and against is somewhere between flat out ignorant to seriously insulting, especially on this topic.

          For all its faults, one of the major issues to solve to wean people off a Windows platform is the usefulness of Outlook (astonishingly, even after it had the ribbon treatment). Only Kontact is starting to make inroads - I'm not going to insult anyone by calling "Evolution" a useless abomination, I think. If you want to give a newbie a machine and have them productive in minutes, you give them an OSX desktop and applications. For the gazillion choices on Linux, NONE of the desktops comes close to that, and even if they did, most of the applications built on top of them such as well re. usability because they were made by TECHNICAL people, not through any discussions with end users (do I need to mention GNOME 3 or Metro here?). Want to have a child use a computer? Well, the iPad does the job.

          If you want to see crippled I invite you to compare Dia, Visio and Omnigraffle Pro, just as an exercise. The Linux desktop is crippled by a lack of decent applications ("decent" as in "usable by normal human beings without having to read a million interdependent HOWTOs or man pages"). That doesn't mean someone else may not come to a different conclusion, but this religious ignorant "my platform is better than yours" bleating that keeps returning is so juvenile that it's irritating and, well, stupid.

          Yes, I know you dislike Apple products in any guise. Thank you. If you could actually come with some sensible arguments instead of regurgitating the same old rubbish you could even contribute something to a decision process that favours your precious ("preccccioussss") platform.

          It may be worth reminding you that Apple actually didn't invent anything new with its iPhone, but was able for the first time ever to make phone companies hand over cash (novel in its own right) for hosting it by improving usability - walled garden or not, all the Open stuff hadn't come near that yet. And as for Open Source delivering uncrippled usability - do I need to mention the switch to GNOME 3, or Unity?

          So there. And Happy New Year to you too.

          1. Eponymous Cowherd
            Thumb Down

            Re: We don't mind bugs.

            "Yes, I know you dislike Apple products in any guise. Thank you. If you could actually come with some sensible arguments instead of regurgitating the same old rubbish you could even contribute something to a decision process that favours your precious ("preccccioussss") platform."

            Hmmm, Distinct whiff of Apple Fanboi, there?

            Apple products are, as you say, great for kids and the less technically minded, but that is not for me. I like Linux because I can tinker. That is one of the main reasons long term Linux users like it.

            I don't like the way Ubuntu is going with Gnome 3 and Unity. I stated that earlier. Yet you feel the need to "remind" me? It rather looks like you saw the words "walled garden", thought someone was insulting your fruit based God and spewed that diatribe as a result without bothering to read the article (which has nothing to do with Apple) or following the conversations.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: We don't mind bugs.

              Read the post again. It starts with these words:

              the user experience is crippled and enforced by design

              .. which is exactly the one thing you cannot accuse OSX of.

              Nope. I'm not a fanboi of any brand, I'm a fanboi of things that actually work and help me do my job. I pretty much lost sight of what usability was after using MS from MS DOS 3.1 upwards and Linux from when Slackware came on floppies - until I had to get a Mac for research. I still keep finding shortcuts to do things simpler and better. Rest assured, my *second* choice would still be Linux (well, Mint, not going near Ubuntu right now) but it would remain a poor mans version of the richness of the OSX desktop standards you find reflected in OSX applications. The worst UI I have in OSX software can be found in.. MS Office..

              My last experience with Macs was 12 years ago, Mercury (now Cable & Wireless) had Macs with OS 9 and that was *horrific*, so it took some messing around in a shop with a Mac before I felt confident to trust my time to Apple again, and it was worth it. OS9 to OS X is a bit like TIKFAM to Mint :).

              If you call facts diatribe it suggests you have the problem rather than me..

      2. User4574
        Paris Hilton

        Re: We don't mind bugs.

        Anecdotal evidence holds this to be quite true, consider that tablets and smartphones have been available for years but never gained wide acceptance until the iPhone epoch. Apple for all their faults were successful because they gave the masses what they wanted.

        I am not one of those consumers but the reality of it is I am in a minority.

        1. Eponymous Cowherd

          Re: We don't mind bugs.

          "Anecdotal evidence holds this to be quite true, consider that tablets and smartphones have been available for years but never gained wide acceptance until the iPhone epoch. Apple for all their faults were successful because they gave the masses what they wanted.

          This, undoubtedly, is true, but it is also a strawman argument. The article is concerning why existing Linux users are deserting Ubuntu. Ubuntu may become popular with the masses because of its Applefication (though I doubt it), but those of us who like and use Linux because of its freedom and configurability won't be along for the ride.

        2. JEDIDIAH

          Re: We don't mind bugs.

          What Apple innovated was CHEAP.

          Tablets were not CHEAP until the iPad came along.

          This wasn't about "usability" or the "walled garden", this was about CHEAP.

          No one wanted $2000 tablets. Many of us fixated on the notion of an x86 Apple tablet gravely misjudged what the iPad would be. We were thinking MacOS tablet rather than a scaled up iPod (like the Archos 9).

          CHEAP is what tablets have going for them. This greatly reduces the risks involved in trying something new. It can be a total bust and you aren't really out much.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spot on

    My feeling is that Canonical is, as the article says, desperately trying to find sources of revenue for Ubuntu. None of the attempts so far have been anything close to successful,. Someone at Canonical is driving the product direction according to market projections that, time after time, prove to be false. I don't know if that is down to a single individual, a few of them or is all the company at once believing in these promises.

    Certainly, one of the problems is that long time Linux/Ubuntu users are confused about Canonical's goals. Looking at how they accept community feedback, it is certainly no longer "Linux for everyone".

    It is sad to say this, but likely at some point Shuttleworth will give up. There's a limit on to how much money anyone is willing to throw to a project. And everyone will take that lesson as the final proof that there is no room for Linux on the desktop. A pity, because Ubuntu has made a lot of good things to build the idea that the desktop world is not split between two equally undesirable players (OSX and Windows), and has introduced a lot of people into the Linux "ecosystem"

    And in my opinion, there is room for Linux on the desktop. Same as there was room for Linux on the smartphone, or on the server, or in the home router, or in the other multitude of places where it has already won. It is just that nobody has found the right product yet. Again my opinion, the biggest mistake so far is trying to sell the product in terms of what it has inside (Gnome, KDE, xGB of RAM, whatever), not in what the product does.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Spot on

      My feeling is that Canonical is, as the article says, desperately trying to find sources of revenue for Ubuntu.

      The funny thing is that if they were to provide what lots of us want, they could probably make money by just charging for it. That's worked for other businesses in the past.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spot on

        Double spot on. I've instaled Mint and Made a -small- donation to them. Would not mind doing the same with Ubuntu.

        1. ray hartman

          Re: Spot on

          Just installed U_12.04 on a home-brew Xeon system. Unity is ... unspeakable ... but the GNOME-3 download is well referenced and includes a **classical** motif very like perfectly functional GNOME-2; good, no change for me! I emailed Canonical saying just that and offered them $60 (that's what RedHat charged for a year of RH_6 support before they crapped out) for Shuttlesworths fine effort ... just send me a mail address.

          I have not heard back from Canonical.

    2. John Sanders

      Re: Spot on

      "And everyone will take that lesson as the final proof that there is no room for Linux on the desktop."

      There is room, perhaps not the biggest room but there is, however Gnome for no good reason decided to throw Gnome2 away and here we are.

      Fortunately the rest of the community has reacted the way it always does when under serious threat, forking and developing new solutions: Mate and Cinnamon.

  7. Trollslayer

    People agreeing with Stallman?

    It must be serious!

    That 'Lens' thing is a security risk and frankly I used Ubuntu as a convenient distro for years until this which is the last straw.

    *Fedora tipped forward*

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: People agreeing with Stallman?

      I don't use Fedora for one reason - it's a bleeding edge distro by design.

      it's good to try out where things are going but for an actual end-user desktop system the last thing you want is bleeding edge.

      If you can't afford RHEL, then install Centos, or SL or one of the myriad forks.

      2 years ago I was all for moving our $orkplace desktops to Ubuntu but the most recent iterations have left me with no choice but to agree to keep using RHEL/KDE - and yes we do pay RH for support. I'd happily pay support to Mint for a stable distro with decent response times (something sadly lacking from RH) if they can provide a UI which keeps my users happy,

      Yes, I do spend £1k per machine, but the boxes are expected to work for a living (academic researchers doing memory-hungry number crunching(*)). Winboxes for office work cost less than £300 and are replaced when they die, not according to when the acocuntants say they're valueless.

      (*) Up to a point - about 32Gb. There are a few boxes in the server room with 1Tb ram and several Tb of local scratch space for serious array fiddling. I've been pushing to use GPUs to boost raw CPU but the reality is that most of the deployed code wouldn't make use of it and to say the average physicist's coding skills are "somewhat lacking" is a bit like calling Lewis Hamilton a "driver of swift automobiles"

  8. 1Rafayal

    I have also fallen foul of the Unity desktop, I cannot stand it.

    Things that used to be easy to do are now incredibly difficult for me. I guess I got used to the way Ubuntu used to work...

    As a stop gap, I actually started using Ubuntu Server with XFCE installed (I know there are things like XBuntu etc, but Server just worked for me).

    I have always insisted that the biggest stumbling block in recent years to a more widespread adoption of Linux as an OS for most home users was the GUI. Unity and GNOME 3 do not make it any easier for Windows users to make the switch.

    Prior to this, I thought the installation procedure was the biggest ball ache (going back a few years), that got fixed. I suppose we now have to wait for a new distro to become the de jour choice. In the meantime, I am happy to use Mint..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finally did the much needed upgrade from F13 to F17 thinking how bad can it be? I've done well holding out.

    I started on KDE, when they borked that (3.5?), I went to XFCE, then Gnome 2, since Gnome 3, I'm back on XFCE - I haven't tried KDE again yet.

    With Gnome 3, this is what got me the most, because I was willing to give it a go, the desktop previews in that weird overlay taskbar replacement only show what's on the primary monitor - with no taskbar, this makes knowing what is open on each desktop a chore of switching through them.

    That weird overlay (don't actually know what it's proper name is) will only ever show on the primary monitor with no way to move it. Meaning my small left 17" monitor where I want to launch applications from has to be my primary monitor instead of my nice fat 24" right hand monitor.

    There are so many little quirks like this it makes using it a nasty and confusing experience which prevents me getting on with what I need to. I can see where they want to go with this UI, but it: a. needs a taskbar and b. needs all of the quirks/missing features ironing out before it's used as widespread as it is being used.

    1. AJ MacLeod

      I wouldn't bother trying KDE again (said as someone who used it from before 1.0 until the Semantic Desktop garbage ruined everything)

      E17 might be worth a try though; other than the horrible binary format configuration files I find it excellent and it's also finally just been oficially released so should be slightly easier to install. Depends on how much of a "desktop environment" you need as opposed to just a window manager, but IWFM and very efficiently too in every sense of the word. Have to admit I haven't tried it with multiple real displays never mind mis-matched ones, but I'd be interested to know how it turned out...

      XFCE is a very decent desktop environment and I have deployed it elsewhere on quite a lot of desktops but not it's quite what I want on my own machine.

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I'm a fedora user

    And still using 14.(the last Gnome 2 edition)


    Because of that Gnome 3 'desktop'

    Sure its shiny , bright and new... but the only way to upgrade the UI experience is by incremental upgrades, not throwing the UI under a bus and starting again.

    I just want a system that A. works, B does'nt get in the way of my work.

    1. Chris 244

      Re: Wants A and B

      Might I recommend Windows 8?

      1. fishman

        Re: Wants A and B

        <<<Might I recommend Windows 8?>>>

        Might as well suggest bamboo driven up under the fingernails.

        1. garbo

          Re:Bamboo under the fingernails...

          Wouldn't that interfere with my typing?

      2. zanshin

        Re: Wants A and B

        "Might I recommend Windows 8?"

        This may have been intentional sarcasm, but for Windows users, going to Windows 8 is not totally unlike the switch from Gnome 2 to 3. The interface-formerly-known-as-Metro is anathema to power users who want to heavily multitask, and some of the first things such power users do is disable as much of it as possible, which is mostly achieved with 3rd party software, as actual end-user-facing options to disable it do not exist. And the result is still less productive to a multitasking power-user, IMO, than prior versions of the OS.

        1. Mark .

          Re: Wants A and B

          "as actual end-user-facing options to disable it do not exist"

          Not quite true - the windowed mode is still there, and existing Windows programs will continue to use it, without needing any software to modify it. So it's more a case of "continue to use the windowed apps you used before, rather than the 'metro' ones".

          (The 3rd party software to modify the UI is more about the new start menu, but that's a separate issue. I'd rather work in a multitasking windowed environment, but the new start menu still works fine for that - but some people don't like it for other reasons. MS have changed the start menu in almost every version of Windows, as usual, some people like it, some people don't.)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wants A and B

        Windows 8 is following the same philosphy of Gnome 3 and Unity. Windows 8 GUI is removing advanced desktop features and trying to be more "user friendly" while failing spectacularly at that. It's something that began after XP - when WinHelp was removed for many different systems all slower and less practical than WinHelp, when the little and useful "?" icon in dialogs and tooltip help were removed to give you "online help" usually written for lusers and moslty out of context... or scattering desktop properties among a plethora of different windows, one for change resolution, one for change colors, one for change iconcs, etc. etc.

        One of the problems are smartphones and tablets. Their success among lusers made MS, Canonical and others to believe the whole desktop PC experiences has to be "dumbsized" to the level of those users, forgetting that many power users need a PC to make actual work done on that, not only to buy apps or other stuff from onlune stores..

        1. Mark .

          Re: Wants A and B

          I agree it's annoying when things are dumbed down, but the advanced desktop features aren't removed in Windows 8. It's more that it's set up to be easier for everyday users, which makes sense - the advanced users are the ones who (ought to) know how to get to the advanced features.

          The problem in Unity however is that there are things modified in an annoying manner even in the windowed UI. I can't stand the new scrollbars, for example.

          Actually I'd say that XP was a more user-friendly dumbed-down version of 2000, and I prefer 7 to XP. (E.g., the fastest way to launch programs or find something in Windows 7 and 8 is just to it the Windows key, and type the name - much faster than in 2000 or XP.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wants A and B

            Frankly, I can't stand Win8 pastel flat UI where it's not always clear what is a clickable control and what is not, what is an edit field and what is not, nor I can't stand the all-caps ribbon labels. The whole interface looks to be designed by a five-years old after watching a Teletubbies episode. Too many visual clues are gone for the sake of a children book-like design. It's the same basic principle followed by GNOME, Unity and now Windows 8: they assume the user is an idiot and thereby they have to offer an UI designed for idiots - and in their minds that should increase revenues somehow. The truth is most users are more power user than they think, and delivering dumbside UIs won't help them to sell more. Especially the Linux world can shift more easily to different distros/desktop, but MS too should have learned from the Vista failure that actual operating systems are powerful enough that skipping an upgrade doesn't create any issue to most users. Especially if Surface and WinPhone do not go anywhere - and the beginning is not good, they will find they had crippled their main product for no gain.

    2. Chris 244

      Re: Coat icon

      Bloody hell, here I was thinking my use of "Get's Coat" was verging on shouty re:intentional sarcasm. Almost went with "Love It/Thumbs Up", but that REALLY would have gone over the downvoters' heads. Guess I'll have to settle for "Joke Alert" or "Troll" next time?

    3. Vic

      Re: I'm a fedora user

      > And still using 14.(the last Gnome 2 edition)

      I've still got a few F14 boxes, but my current favourites are F16 installations with the BlueBubble stuff ported[1] to them.

      And they're good.

      I briefly tried F17 with the various MATE-style stuff, but it was all a bit buggy for my taste.


      [1] Well, *almost* ported. I've still not finished the job because what I've got is so close I've just not got round to it. So I can't yet put anything on the desktop, but the rest of it looks pretty awesome...

  11. justwebware

    Xubuntu works fine for me.

    1. Bush_rat
      Thumb Up

      Have an up vote with your lovely distro.

      1. Charles 9

        I'm probably gonna jump that way, too. Need to get my Windows affairs in order first so I don't lose anything.

    2. Fibbles

      And another from me. I'm not interested in spending my time trying to hold together a Debian installation, Mint with Cinnamon is too buggy and KDE has always been too bloated a desktop for my liking. Xubuntu has a stable, 'everything just works' Ubuntu base with a nicely customised and lightweight XFCE desktop. I know I probably sound like a fanboy but as an 'ordinary user' this is what I wanted from Linux (and saw the makings of in Ubuntu 9/10) when I first fully migrated from Windows about 4 years ago.

    3. bailey86

      And another upvote from me...

      Have used Debian since about 2000. Normally had Debian on workstation as well as servers.

      Bought a Dell laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed because I thought at least Debian should install OK - and eight years later I was still using Ubuntu.

      Then came Unity. Slow, buggy and not Gnome 2.

      I know respected colleagues who are very happy with Unity - so it's obviously not all bad. Certainly one has installed an icon which copies the Menu button and also installed a Mac like dock. But for me - I installed Xubuntu which has been great.

      The question is - we're looking at wiping old trashed Windows machines and putting on a Linux distro to enable ordinary users to be able to carry out the basics - mainly web browsing. What distro should we install.

      I was originally thinking of Xubuntu - but maybe mint with Cinnamon would be better - or maybe Ubuntu with a slightly tweaked Unity?

      1. bailey86

        or possibly...

        Debian with XFCE as the default desktop.

      2. fajensen

        Re: And another upvote from me...

        Power management works in Linux Mint "Maya" - generalising from my Thinkpad X61s and the Asus ION box.

        It used to work on the Lenovo - using the last version of Debian - then it got broken. I had to fiddle and tweak a lot to get wireless to work because Debian changed that too. And this "GUUID"thingy for devices?? Eewgh!!

        That's why I settled with Mint (even though it is infected with Ubuntu ;)

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Agreed. It also has very good support for multiple monitors.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    It's the only way to go.

    I used Ubuntu for years, prior to that, Slackware.

    But what Ubuntu did was turn me onto Debian, although I resisted the urge until... Unity.

    I've tried to like unity, in fact, I installed 12.10 on a VM a few days back - an install, that for god knows what reason, took 2 hours to complete. I wrestled with the desktop - I want a shortcut to software I didn't install via the 'super slow' software center and was amazed to find there's no easy way to do this most common and simple of desktop tasks.

    The launcher is ok to a point - I don't mind it too much and the spotlight search is reasonably neat, but combining the two together seems an exercise in frustration for my 18 years of using a Desktop OS.

    I'm used to doing what *I* want to do - if I want to create shortcuts on the desktop to *anything* I want, let me do it. Don't obstruct my 18 years of experience because *you* think it's better.

    But there's choice, always choice - this is good.

    I tried Mint, but it annoyed me by screwing up my Chrome google search - why do this kind of shit?

    Yeah, so google tracks my searches - who cares. It's default search results screen layout is a damn side better than what Mint serves up - it also screwed with my sync, so every damn install of Chrome I had, ended up with the Mint logo splattered all over my search results. Sure, very easy fix, but WHY dammit, WHY!

    This one simple irritant made me dismiss Mint.

    So, back to Debian. What a relief. VM install in 15 minutes and so much faster than the bloated Ubuntu 12.10.

    The reality is, if your an intermediate to power Linux user, you don't need to go with an 'all singing, all dancing' distribution - just do a base install then add what *you* want, not what someone else reckons is better for you.

    Ubuntu, you've done Linux a grave disservice, going from a promising, forward thinking distribution on the back of Debian to a distribution that's completely lost it's way.

    Damn shame.

    1. RudeBuoy

      Re: Debian...

      I cant understand why we get so analytical about unity. IT IS JUST PLAIN SHIT. Yes, if you boot into a modern windows manager and it is not obvious how to do the most simple task like launch an application it should not be treated otherwise. we just spend too much time explaining it.

      Booted into it from a CD on a server to get some hardware info. Needed to look at some files such as cpuinfo and others under /proc and to save a few screen shot and then email them to myself.

      After 20 minutes of wrestling with how to start a terminal and Firefox I gave up and have been dismayed at the amount of discussion we have been having about it since. That 20 minutes and the time it took to type this message is more time than it is worth. I wish we could all treat most of the UI "advances" we have seen over the past year or so in the same way.

  13. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    This proves what I have been saying for years..

    Regardless of what you do in technology, the moment you forget that what you do has to work in the hands of ordinary users you're on a downwards slope.

    This is also valid in security.

    Maybe your decision for 2013: listen to the end user? I know it's hard work with some, but trust me on this, it's worth looking at what you do from their perspective.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: This proves what I have been saying for years..

      The trouble is that there is more than one kind of end user, and Linux has the misfortune to be courting TWO kinds who happen to have competing needs.

      Linux's strength is in the power user: the user who knows how to get around a machine so is happy with having tools that let them get into the necessary bits and bobs. And if something happens to break, they also know where to go from there to get things fixed. At worst, they know how to install OS's on their own. To put it in a nutshell, the power user's slogan is, "Gimme the keys!"

      And then you've got where everyone is trying to reach: the everyday user. The user who may not be too familiar with computers, who see them more as souped-up TVs than a powerful device. Their attitude is "spare me the details, get me to my stuff". The prevailing philosophy for the everyday user is, "Keep it Simple, Stupid!"

      And that can easily fly in the face of the power user. What lights up a power user confuses an everyday user, and in converse, what satisfies an everyday user feels like a strait jacket to the power user. So when you have an environment where you have to court BOTH types of users...AT ONCE, there's going to be some fireworks.

      1. nematoad

        Re: This proves what I have been saying for years..

        ""Keep it Simple, Stupid!""

        There's simple and then there's crippled. For my money Unity, Gnome Shell and TIFKAM are crippled, not simple, hence all the anguish shown when people try to get something done that formerly took one mouse click and which now either is impossible or takes an age to do.

        I do note that the Nautilus devs. have taken this trend even further and have been shunned by those Debian based distros. that use it. Including IIRC Ubuntu. There's irony for you!

        1. P. Lee

          Re: This proves what I have been saying for years..

          > There's simple and then there's crippled.

          True, but when it comes to tablets, you probably want an interface designed for crippled people when your legs are tied together by the lack of a keyboard. "Take me to stuff" is pretty much what a tablet is for.

          The good thing is, another interface shell is just a few clicks (with keyboard or mouse) away. Pity the poor people lumped with windows 8.

          What they should have done is spin a tablet distro and then offer it to the desktop world.

  14. Magani

    Not United

    You can put Unity on my desktop when you pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands.

    This penguin now prefers a Mint.

  15. johnnytruant

    "I just want a system that A. works, B doesn't get in the way of my work."

    That's why I use Gnome Shell. It does all of that for me. It's fast, clean and efficient for the way I use my computer. I accept it may not be for other people but I don't get why that causes so much hate, I really don't. It's fine. It's just a UI. I use loads of different UIs every day. They all have their issues, they all have their plus points. At least it's not TIFKAM (which is still fine, although a bit less fine). Not one of the non-techie people I've introduced to Gnome Shell have moaned about it, rather they're all commented on how nice and easy it is to use.

    This whole "our way or the highway" is such nonsense. Of course that's what happens, someone makes a decision and things happen. You want something different? Fork away. Nobody's stopping you. Just like nobody is stopping you going to the Gnome or Ubuntu developer conferences, joining in the discussions on the mailing lists, proposing other solutions and so on. Eg: Gnome shell doesn't have a great StickyKeys notification system, so I wrote a specification for one, did some graphical mockups, posted a bug report, got a developer interested and it's happening. It's happening pretty much exactly how I wanted it to as well, which is nice. It's happening quite slowly, but then that's consistent with how much I'm paying for it. Which is nothing at all.

    tl;dr - Get involved in the process, or stop whining about how you're not part of that process.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: tl;dr

      "tl;dr - Get involved in the process, or stop whining about how you're not part of that process."

      ...or hook your wagon up to a cart that *is* travelling in the direction you want to go, which is what most of the posters here seem to have done. As a courtesy, they've also mentioned their reasons for switching.

      It sounds like whining because most internet feedback sounds like whining. (I don't know why that is, but it certainly seems to be the case.) If you are relying on internet posts for your feedback then you just need to develop a thick skin. Gnome and Canonical both have thick skins. Neither seems to be particularly wounded even by the most ferocious feedback. They'll survive and so will those users who have left for other distros.

      1. johnnytruant

        Re: tl;dr

        There's certainly an aspect of that, and that's fine. Sure, if X doesn't do what you want, just go with Y - no complaints here. Give reasons if you wish. I'm not saying there aren't people doing that, that's being going on since as long as I've been using linux and probably before too. That's fine - it's how forks happen, how new projects get going and how new (or old, like MATE) projects get started. People moving around with their interests and requirements is part of OSS.

        But there's a lot of entitled-sounding whinging too, which is new. This article - much more so than the comments - sounded very whiny, like somehow Canonical/Gnome owed the author what they wanted, not what Gnome/Canonical had decided to do. "It's our way or the highway" isn't strictly true, that Gnome does what it wants regardless of it's users isn't true either - just because someone has decided to not be an active part of the community doesn't mean a project is ignoring the community.

        Also it wasn't very well researched, but then the Reg has never let mere facts get in the way of a good nerd-rage-gasm. I use Shell and I alt-tab, I minimise windows (not often, I switch desktops rather than minimise - it's faster and easier), I change GTK and Shell themes and more. I won't get into the difference between Gnome 3 and Gnome Shell as for some reason that not-so-subtle distinction seems beyond almost every tech journalist out there.

  16. PyLETS

    many choices of desktop manager

    I think this currently means Linux on the desktop is likely to appeal to those like myself who like having such choices, but many users don't, which is also likely to continue excluding Linux from the (declining) mass desktop market. Unless someone with a large share of the hardware market, access to distribution channels, willingness to annoy Microsoft and Apple and who wants to avoid software purchase cost at the expense of greater software support cost decides to sell competitively performing and priced PCs preinstalled. A Google or Canonical tie up with Amazon maybe, or some deal involving all 3 ?

    Interestingly that as the desktop declines, to be replaced in many cases by tablets and smart TVs, Linux is doing very well in non desktop computers.

  17. Antony Riley


    The ironic thing is that Ubuntu made the same mistake as Windows 8. Try to please two audiences with one desktop shell.

    Given the ease with which you can change the desktop shell on linux per login it seems rather pointless. It's not like Windows where you have to go and change a registry setting, and then pray you haven't broken your shell and locked yourself out of your own account.

    All in all it hasn't been a bad year for Linux despite the fuckups from Ubuntu and Gnome. The gaming industry (at least the indy/PC part of it) seems to be pay a lot more attention to it, and the lack of attention has long been one of Linux's biggests failings when it comes to gaining new users.

    1. Mark .

      Re: Irony

      On the contrary, Windows 8 has gone the route of offering *two* UIs - for better or worse - one optimised for tablets or non-experienced users, and one for power users or those doing say office work, or applications that aren't available in the new UI yet. It's true that MS's vision appears to make everything use the new UI ultimately - though possibly by then, it'll be more powerful anyway. The annoying thing about Unity was that the changes affected the only UI you had to work with.

      "then pray you haven't broken your shell and locked yourself out of your own account."

      I'm not sure Linux is immune to these problems either, when things mess up.

  18. nematoad

    Jono Bacon

    "Ubuntu's Jono Bacon called Stallman's tongue-lashing "childish""

    I've been following Jono Bacon since he was a columnist in Linux Format. Generally he seems to be on the right track and I agree with a lot of what he says.

    However, I see that his job title is "Canonical Community Manager". As Ubuntu no longer seem to have a "community" but just "users" I wonder how he fills his days.

  19. Phillip.

    Nobody likes Gnome Shell, that is the one thing people can agree on. Unity was making good progress, however, until it shot itself in the foot with the Amazon spyware. Really spat in the face of the users that gave it a go despite a pretty rough start. Like many other users, I won't be upgrading to 12.10 which I'm pretty sad about. The way forward appears to be KDE + Cairo Dock. No rush though, I am happy for now with 11.10.


    1. fnj

      Just no. Unity was at NO TIME "making good progress". Its head was up its ass from the day it was conceived.

      I would urge you to try an Xfce live CD or USB stick. Then please report anything you really need your DE to do which it DOESN'T do. I couldn't come up with anything when I did that. For now I'm in hog heaven with Gnome2 on CentOS6, but when that stops being updated I sure as hell won't be on Gnome3+CentOS7. Almost Xfce, either on CentOS7 or on something else.

  20. keithpeter Silver badge

    Is it wind up the penguins time?

    "This year's GNOME is no place for someone who just wants to get some work done."

    Seems OK for my reasonably simple needs. Mind you, so does Unity, XFCE, IceWM (1995 again!) &c. I don't spend that much time in the desktop once I get going. My mode-switching is limited as I write and use statistical software mainly, along with Web 'research' like the missus thinks I'm doing now.

    Now, my standard advice: GNU/Linux is an operating system. A distribution of GNU/Linux is a convenient collection of software, and a coherent system for adding and updating software, linked to repositories that exist online. Some distributions are aimed at home users, some at server use. Some distributions emphasise stability and change slowly, others track the current state of applications more closely, at the cost of some integration issues. Most distributions come with a set of default packages that provide a useable system on installation, but support a huge array of choice of almost every aspect of the system. We Penguins seem to spend a lot of time arguing about defaults. We seem to like doing that, and you can't do that if you use Windows* or MacOS X/iOS

    Some examples...

    Stable, Gnome 2 based distributions with long term support: RHEL6 clones such as CentOS, Scientific Linux, Springfield Linux (aka PUIAS Linux). CentOS now has some sponsorship and paid project leadership. Scientific Linux and Springfield Linux are University sponsored projects designed for local use but made available to all. There is paid maintenance of packages. The desktops provided by these RHEL clones tend to be conservative, functional, sort of what your average BOFH would think end users could be trusted with. They work. There are live images available. There are full updates until 2017, so you can have your Gnome 2.x desktops for 4 more years. I have CentOS on a refurbished thinkpad x200s and it does fine, and I'm leaving it there until the laptop dies. If you want Gnome 2.x on your GNU/Linux just install one of those. STOP moaning about Ubuntu and Shuttleworth. Let them try mad things.

    Stable 'modern' distribution with long term support (until 2017.04): Gnome 3/GS/Unity based: Ubuntu 12.04. I actually rather like the 12.04 version of Unity. I'd recommend Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with gnome-fallback installed for people who want to start GNU/Linux to get more use out of XP/SP3 vintage hardware. We shall see what happens with Unity. Expect some further 'pivoting' when the hardware manufacturers don't beat down the doors of Canonical's HQ. I would love to be wrong on that one.

    Stable medium term 'modern': , Debian Wheezy when it becomes stable, OpenSuse, various remixes of Ubuntu 12.04 including Mint.

    Bleeding edge/minority: Rolling distributions, designed to be customised by people who know about computers and like to spend time customising individual machines. Current Ubuntu, Arch, Slackware Archslack &c, Crunchbang/Antix (a favourate of mine for the Spartist forum). ElementaryOS for a new take on GS. Bodhi Linux for low end hardware and people who miss Aero.

    Bonkers: Dynebolic linux, a live distribution with a lot of music software preconfigured. When I retire and no longer have to do stuff, I'm going to make some large boxes, put 15 inch paper cones in them (4 each side), string up some KT88s in class A push-pull and make a lot of noise with dynebolic on a laptop and a decent audio interface. Dynebolic is sponsored by FSF. I think RHS is hipper than we give him credit for.

    Coat icon: I'm off out before I get downvoted to smithereens. Its choices all the way down.

  21. Richard Lloyd

    Fedora 14, then CentOS 6

    After trying out Gnome 3 in both Fedora and Ubuntu, I came to the conclusion that their default interfaces were just plain awful compared to Gnome 2 equivalents. Hence, I stuck with Fedora 14 for quite a while and then jumped to the "obvious" long-term haven for Gnome 2 users - one sadly not mentioned in the article or comments - namely CentOS 6.

    For those not in the know, CentOS is a free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and, like its RHEL parent, has 10 years of free updates! Yep, that means GNOME 2 (and the OS itself) will be supported until an astonishing 30th Nov 2020, which for unheard of for any free OS.

    CentOS 6.3 gives you a mature Gnome 2.28 experience, Grub 1 (far easier to use then Grub 2, IMHO), good old System 5 init scripts (which are being phased out in Fedora) and a rock solid kernel that has had a lot of Red Hat testing. As a "serious" free desktop, it's easily the best out there.

    Yes, I've installed Firefox beta (that can be updated within the browser's About box) and also occasionally download an update to LibreOffice (I hate their packaging - over 50 RPMs and you often have to uninstall the old version first manually because of stupid package naming!), but there's very little maintenance otherwise (a yum update from time to time, but even that can be automated). It is literally a desktop that "just works".

    1. fnj

      Re: Fedora 14, then CentOS 6

      I also am enjoying CentOS6+Gnome2. But when CentOS7 comes out sometime in 2013 or early 2014 it will be based on Fedora 18 and you-know-what. I sure as hell won't ever be on CentOS7+Gnome3.

      It is sad that, while CentOS packages KDE as an alternative to Gnome, it doesn't do the same with Xfce. You have to enable the epel repo to get Xfce. Fingers crossed they will see the light and package Xfce as an alternative to you-know-what with CentOS7.

      (Yes, I realize, all these decisions are actually made "upstream" - in RHEL)

  22. Uwe Dippel

    Year of Linux on the Desktop

    Let's face it: The Year Of Linux On The Desktop will arrive finally, when the normal desktop computers are extinguished (in the sense that dinosaurs are). Then the last desktop user will probably still use some Linux Desktop. And then we'll see 100% Desktop coverage by Linux. Sad.

    I for one have been using Linux almost exclusively on the Desktop for the last 13 years. Exceptions: Application for research funds (need to be done in Word, 100% correctly formatted), OrCAD (doesn't run on Linux, neither with Wine).

    13 years of misery, going through a bunch of distros, and Desktop Environments (DEs), forth and back. Gnome, KDE, Xfce, Gnome, KDE. Why? Just to avoid the seriously crappy and limited UI offered from Redmond. No, for me it doesn't "work better".

    Why? Why? Because Gnome had to be just for the sake of licensing. Then others had to be, and KDE had to go to 4.X, and Gnome from a great 1.4 to a miserable 2.X and, after it had been set back on track, a worse 3.X.

    And we had others, Xfce, which also didn't fulfill all promises. At times I was just happy with fluxbox. And still, on the longer run it is just too frugal.

    Why? Why? Because the promise of choices fragmented any chance to a Linux-On-The-Desktop year down to zero. Which is reflected by the applications:

    - from an 'almost' MS-Office-like Suite named OpenOfice through KOffice, 'G-Office' (Abiword, and a very promising Gnumeric)

    - to a horrendous number of CAD-programs. Multiple crews starting almost in parallel, and nobody reached the finish. KiCAD fails towards the end, and does not work as simulator. Qucs is partially much more handy (and clever) than OrCAD; but abandoned on the track.

    You get the drill. In the end, forking and rewriting leaves us (that is those who want Linux on the desktop) with half-brewed choices, and mostly wasted efforts. My kudos to Linus, because the kernel is the only non-forked, non-rewritten software, and an enormous success. We could have had the same with DEs and applications, had all efforts been done in synergy instead of competition.

    1. fnj

      Re: Year of Linux on the Desktop

      All right, specifics. Just what does Xfce NOT do? Today; not sometime in the past.

      I'll tell you one thing Xfce does NOT do. It does not insult and ignore its users.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Year of Linux on the Desktop

        I'll tell you one thing Xfce does NOT do. It does not insult and ignore its users.

        That just means you have installed the wrong "fortune" database :)

  23. Adair Silver badge


    ...that there a plenty of us who, whatever label we have pinned above us----Windows/OSX/Linux user,...---are just natural born whiners; then we have to add in all the folk who just can't handle change, especially when it's thrust upon them. Taken all together these people just can't help themselves---they complain all the time about almost anything. We probably all belong to this group now and again, but plenty of us are permanent paid up members of the 'Whingers and Whiners Club'---nothing is ever right in our glass half empty, probably at the dregs, world.

    Perhaps it would be worth repeating that old mantra: 'Linux isn't Windows, Linux isn't Windows (or OSX, for that matter!). Linux AND the whole Free Software and Open Source world, which, at the moment, Linux largely represents, is a whole different world from the proprietary captialist 'just shut up and give us your money' way of working. It's messy, erratic, and often frustrating, BUT it offers something very special, and mostly at little or no monetary cost to the end user.

    Sometimes we need to step back and remember (or maybe realise for the first time) what is the bigger picture, and what we actually have to be grateful for in the Free and Open Source Software world, and, just for a minute at least, quit whining and be thankful for all the folk who, for better and for worse, give their time to making things work (and there's nothing stopping us from contributing something useful too, is there?).

  24. Anonymous Coward

    @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

    Mark, I am using Ubuntu 10 LTS and I am very happy with it. I use the computer privately for web browsing, viewing videos, light office work with OpenOffice, scanning docs and writing C++ based software then and now. I did use it some time ago to write LaTeX documents.

    My professional work is to write C++ software on Windows/C++/MFC. The corporation I work for is very much wedded to MS.

    I know you folks at Ubuntu did a lot of useful work to make Linux work on a large spectrum of computers without fiddling and recompiling drivers. That is very important and I am sure many people would miss that support you give to the Linux community. But I know you finally have to break even with Canonical or you will eventually have burned all your money. Canonical must be sustainable.

    I do have some very serious doubts though, that you can achieve Canonical's profitability by what you do with the desktop and with that Amazon-search thing. I personally will stay on Ubuntu 10 LTS as long as I can. My first priority is security and stability. I find the Microsoft approach of "let's do some random change to Windows NT, slap a new name on it and the make dollars" completely unattractive to me. XP was perfectly working and Windows 7 didn't bring anything substantial. Windows 8 seems to eliminate a lot of value of XP/Win7.

    Now, how can Canonical make a profit in my opinion ? I think you should try to leverage the existing strengths of Linux (security, reliability, lack of vendor lock-in) and then talk to corporations what they are missing with the current Linux ecosystem. My feeling is that there is a lot to be done to make OpenOffice properly work with Excel macros and MS Office in general. So maybe you could create "Ubuntu Professional Edition", which adds proper support for MS Excel macros. Then there is Active Directory integration. Also you could innovate in novel sandboxing concepts for office workers to fix the "China spearphishing" problem.

    You would sell Ubuntu Profession with these points:

    * Second-to-none reliability

    * Second-to-non security

    * Best Linux-MS Office integration and support

    * Best Linux Active Directory integration

    * Best Linux version for corporate desktops

    Arrange your enhancements in such a way that you can charge money for them. RMS might be pissed, but that is not the key thing. What matters is what the mass of Linux users think, say and write.

    Engage corporations into a dialogue about their needs, deliver that and collect the money to fund operating Canonical. And, I suggest you stop chasing those imaginary holy grails of "tablet computing".

    Thanks for Ubuntu 10 LTS, but your current approach is totally wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Plus: Paid Repository

      Also, I think it would be OK for Ubuntu users to pay something like 10 Euros/Pounds/Dollars per year for Canonical to provide the repository for new software. Make it free for those who are willing to wait one hour for their install and those who pay get their software installed immediately.

      And for flying-spaghetti-monster's sake; ignore those who want "free as free beer". These are leeches who will suck the last drop of blood out of you and then bitch and moan your company has folded. Explain why you need that money, publish Canonical's financial figures and just do it. If the Ubuntu community is really a "free as in free beer" affair, then just close shop and be done with it.

      I would pay 10 Euros per year for immediate access to the repository.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Plus: Paid Repository

        @Florian The Saint Of Burning Code Printouts

        "Explain why you need that money, publish Canonical's financial figures and just do it."

        I'd pay a reasonable amount just to see detailed figures... How many corporate desktops supported for instance...

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Plus: Paid Repository

        Upgrades to existing packages can be (and generally are?) left to happen automatically, so even a 24 hour delay isn't going to be noticed by most users. Installation of new packages would have your "1 hour" delivery delay, but I doubt whether that is going to happen often enough to actually hurt.

        Also, if it did hurt enough then I'm not sure it wouldn't tempt someone to start mirroring the packages in their own repository and we'd see a race to the bottom amongst "repo-providers" (presumably involving ad-based financing).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

      LOL. "Professional" = Excel macros

      You want to have it all... Canonical and Redhat and SUSE haven't been able to deliver half of that between them in 10+ years. Security and Excel macros - that's a perfect example of two things which cannot coexist.

    3. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

      "Mark, I am using Ubuntu 10 LTS and I am very happy with it."

      See Richard Lloyd's post up the screen. CentOS 6.3 is very similar in terms of kernel/applications to Ubuntu 10.04 and has full updates to 2017 and security only after that.

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

      "Arrange your enhancements in such a way that you can charge money for them. RMS might be pissed, but that is not the key thing. What matters is what the mass of Linux users think, say and write."

      I can't believe Canonical haven't considered this and decided that the nature of the GPL makes it very hard to improve a GPL-ed program for financial reward. Yes, you can probably write an *extensions* and charge for that extension. But merely fixing bugs and improving compatibility in dozens of tiny ways? That's not going to produce a separately identifiable package that you could charge for.

      As far as I can see, there are no ways to make money out of Linux (or free software in general). You always have to be selling something else, whether it be hardware (like domestic routers) or sys-admin expertise. Canonical seem to be having trouble making much money by selling the latter. Since Ubuntu is (at its roots) a desktop distro, they'd be in a straight fight with Microsoft, Apple or Google if they tried the former. Maybe they just can't do it.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

        > there are no ways to make money out of Linux

        There is no (GPL) constraint on charging real money for the convenience of downloading binary distributions, just that no one wants to be the first ...

        I suspect that relatively few people will actually download the source code and compile stuff themselves. However if you are concerned there is no (GPL) bar to charging these people an access fee to gain access the repository/website containing the free source code ...

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

          Sorry left off the final point.

          However, the main problem with making money from GPL programs, is the fact that once someone has the binaries and source code they can redistribute them (under GPL) however they see fit, thereby undermining your revenue stream. This is obviously a major concern for the longevity of any business that is devoted to producing GPL'd programs such as Ubuntu etc. which doesn't bode well for the long term health and survival of GPL programs ...

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

            So you make money by being on the leading edge. You make money selling early access to that. You provide a well tested system. You have the fastest response time with fixes. You provide useful enhancements.

            Being the reference platform for Steam should be worth something.

            Being the reference platform for Oracle is worth something to Red Hat and Suse.

            If you think you can't make money with GPL./Linux then you just aren't cut out for this stuff.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

          "There is no (GPL) constraint on charging real money for the convenience of downloading binary distributions, just that no one wants to be the first ..."

          Try downloading redhat _binaries_ without paying for them.

          RH make the source freely available, as per GPL, but they can and do expect you to hand over a few Quatloos before providing access to the binary distro and repos.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

        "As far as I can see, there are no ways to make money out of Linux"

        Obviously you have never heard of Red Hat then.

        The first Billion dollar Linux company.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

          Red Hat targets the Enterprise sector, where support IS a money spinner. Ubuntu is targeting the Consumer sector, where that's not as viable.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @Mark Shuttleworth: Comments Of An Ubuntu User

            Ubuntu has a server edition - they could and SHOULD be competing with Redhat (among other reasons is that RH are like Cisco and IBM - complacent enough to blow off fairly reasonable support/enhancement requests with "we don't see a need for that" - when the need is due to a glaring bugs...)

            I'd be more than happy to throw money at Canonical for server support if they'd get their shit together and actually _respond_ to quote requests (then again, Redhat are just as bad, and whilst Suse responded to our queries, we soon discovered that the support we were getting wasn't exactly what was written on the tin we'd paid for - Suse's people even went and hid under the blankets when Novell intervened and tried to get answers for us, which means that no matter who owns them, I will never EVER do business with Suse again becauise as far as I'm concerned they're happy to pretend customers with difficult problems don't exist, whilst still taking their money.)

            OBTW if anyone knows of a multi-terabyte clustered filesystem which actually does what GFS2 is advertised as doing (such as supporting shared-mount NFS access without risking serious data corruption) then please contact me. Redhat have amply demonstrated that particular FS is NOT fit for purpose despite sales claims to the contrary.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    I am becomming so fucking dumb.....

    I just want to do my work and fuck all the bullshit off.

    XFCE and the Nautilus File Manager with all the bells and whistles.....

    I really can't be fucked installing amazingly amazing operating systems, I just want to have really great functional software that just fucking works.

    You know the Microsoft Ribbon, then the Unity Desktop.

    I like books made of paper, with indexes at the front, well itemised chapters and headings and page numbers....

    I find that although variations of the fucking Gutternberg press and every thing that it has lead too, there is something really fucking NICE and FUNCTIONAL about a plain menu driven interface, with things listed in alphabetical order...

    I really reckon that I am getting stupider as I get fucking older and I am getting fonder of good quality pencils and pencil sharpeners, and a nice little eraser - because that is the word processing kit in it's most functional of orders.

    They always work...

    Uhhh grumble grumble grumble, kids of today.... computer operating system, not like in the good old days...

    Real IBM Model M keyboards...

    Uhhhh fuck this, fuck that... cup of tea... Ahhh grumble grumble grumble.....

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I am becomming so fucking dumb.....

      Try the latest Slackware distro (14.0). It might surprise you. Available on the December "Linux Format" cover DVD, if you're spending money on bandwidth.

      Side-note: I always attach an IBM Model M & "dumb terminal" to a serial port on any new install. There is one at my left elbow, attached to this none-year-old HP laptop's docking station. Kinda handy when the GUI goes tits-up ;-)

      Beer, not tea. Sounds like you need one.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: I am becomming so fucking dumb.....

        Sjeez. I *so* miss my old Wyse VT terminal..

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I am becomming so fucking dumb.....

      "I really reckon that I am getting stupider as I get fucking older and I am getting fonder of good quality pencils and pencil sharpeners, "

      I'm getting fond of shaprened objects too, mainly because they seem to work well when used as acupuncture devices on certain software developers.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Vision", or hallucination?

    An open letter to the core Gnome Developers:

    You speak of software design as being guided by a "vision". On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: many people have done wondrous things guided by a vision (c.f. Martin Luther King).

    But there is a difference between a "vision" and a hallucination. If you cannot persuade people to share what you see, it may be a hallucination. If you take what you see as fact, not potential - it is a hallucination.

    You've done this before: the "let's make Nautilus do everything from system configuration to printer management" and the "spatial navigation is The One True Way What Everybody Should Use" debacles spring to mind. Again, when you share your "vision" and everybody says "You are crazy, we don't want that" you may be hallucinating.

    So take a deep breath (and some Haldol), wait until the walls stop melting and you no longer taste your source code, and then look around with clear eyes.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tried Ubuntu some time ago, and dumped it

    Around the time I had been using Mandriva/Mandrake for years, just to see what else was out there. Like a step back in the dark ages IMHO. So moved forwards to Mageia, of which version 2 was released in 2012. Obviously for a distro (Mageia) that is consistently in the top 3 on Distrowatch it will never get a mention in a Reg article, due to their financial arrangement for giving publicity to Ubuntu ...

    1. PC Paul

      Re: Tried Ubuntu some time ago, and dumped it

      Well, I'd never heard of Mageia (and I don't only read The Reg) so I went and had a look...

      It's what Mandriva turned into, and it seems fairly... immature? It does look interesting, but the website seems more concerned with telling you how community spirited and international it is rather than why I might want to actually use it.

      As for Distrowatch, what that ranking actually means is... how many times people looked it up on DistroWatch! So to me that says a lot of people are saying 'what the hell is Mageia?', which bodes well for the future, but hardly means it has a top three in terms of installed systems.

      It'll be interesting to see what happens with it, but I haven't seen any reason to switch to it rather than say Debian yet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tried Ubuntu some time ago, and dumped it

        Immature? As you already said, its what Mandriva turned into with the same devs. That's being going for way longer than *buntu.

  28. h3

    2012 was the year Enlightenment DR17 was released (Dec 21, 2012 at 11:59 PM)

    To be fair it has been far better than most releases for a very long time now.

    It is fast very customisable and looks quite nice.

    Most importantly it doesn't kill performance for other things.

    Just a quick glance at any of the code should give some hope.

    (There are still some people who care about doing things properly)

    It is efficient enough that I think even Ubuntu could reskin it to make it look like Unity with it still working as well as anything else. (Excluding stuff like Xmonad but things like that will never have mass appeal as they take some effort to learn).

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge


      I should give E17 a spin. Cinnamon is nice but it has a nasty tendency to spin up to 100% cpu on multi-screen desktops for no apparent reason (I really can't stand MATE! and the default drawn-by-an-8yo desktop doesn't help. It feels like a bad flashback to Sunos4.1/Openwindows days.)

  29. SilverWave

    Xubuntu is nice and if it gets scewed up there is XFCE

    I can just get on with my computing without and interference.

    It gets me back to a workable usable Ubuntu set up that I loved from before all the crap.

    Nice :-)

  30. keepitsimpleengineer

    As the sun sets quietly in the western sky...

    With Mark Shuttleworth and his posse galloping off in search of the wily, fickle and elusive dilettante computer user, and with the Gnomists rising from their beds to the eerie song of populism, fortunately for the experienced and serious computer user there are ArchLinux, KDE, XFCE, &c.

    This may not be bad, although really inconvenient, because there are a LOT more dilettantes than there are us.

    I wish them well, and ...adieu... revoir... ...Oups, je suis arrivé à nouveau...

  31. tEtra

    All roads lead back to Debian

    I use Debian. I diverged for a bit in the mid 2000's to Ubuntu, (fell for the Siren song...) but when they first started the Unity crap, I bailed back to the core, which of course is Debian. Just use Debian, and give feedback to the developers. Forget these eye-candy peddling posers. They're *nothing* without their Debian core anyway.

    And stop bashing Stallman! If it wasn't for him and GNU, we wouldn't have *any* of this, so get a friggin clue and show some goddamn respect!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: All roads lead back to Debian

      "And stop bashing Stallman! If it wasn't for him and GNU, we wouldn't have *any* of this, so get a friggin clue and show some goddamn respect!"

      Untrue. We'd still have BSD and Linux without GNU. The picture wouldn't be the same, but FOSS would still exist. Remember, Linux derived from Minix & the ATT/BSD toolchain.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see

    So that's what's been going on with desktop Linux, eh? Welp, time for me to get back to the real world.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the photo of Unity

    It reminds me that I never want my desktop looking like that.

    So here I am with my mate MATE

  34. Bruce Ordway

    Gnome 3, Wndows 8, Office 2010

    What do Gnome 3, Wndows 8 and MS Office 2010 all have in common?

    The developers seem to be off on odd paths and losing their established users.

    Maybe it's just a long gamble for the ownership of the coming generations.

  35. Greg J Preece

    This year's GNOME is no place for someone who just wants to get some work done.

    GNOME, as the developers would have you believe, is not designed for nerds that want to customise things

    KDE is. I honestly don't know why it's not rapidly replacing GNOME as the standard desktop. You never know, that might finally give better compatibility with Mozzy stuff...

    1. P. Lee

      +1 for KDE for "desktop" usage.

      You don't have to use KDE apps if you don't want to, but it has shiny if you want it, while maintaining a traditional desktop metaphor.

      If MS ported Office to KDE, it would be the end of Windows.

  36. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Had a brief look at Ubuntu a few years ago then went straight back to debian. These days (now that I think I know what I'm doing) I install the bare minimum, then just add the bits I want such as Openbox, Rox Filer, Libre Office.

  37. nuked

    iOS wouldn't be used if Apple didn't weld it into their hardware. Enterprising linux distros need to focus on hardware affiliations to become retail players (a la Nokia/Windows 8 - not that that's a screaming success)...

    Icon due to:

    "Thanks to Unity's find-as-you-type feature, seemingly benign searches for words such as "analyze" and "assets" can bring up smutty Amazon video results for slow typists."

  38. Portent

    Mint with a dash of Cinnamon for me

    I was a long standing Ubuntu user who had previously come from RH and later Suse (which I voluntarily paid for). But Unity killed Ubuntu for me. I tried to like it. I really did. But eventually I gave up and moved to Mint Cinnamon which I am very happy with. As it matures I'll probably go with the Debian version of it.

  39. Big-nosed Pengie

    Bugs in Cinnamon?

    I upgraded from Mint 11 to 14 with Cinnamon a few days ago. So far, so good. I haven't spotted a bug yet.

  40. seansaysthis

    Canonical owns Ubuntu not the comm"unity"

    The desktop train has left the station. Canonical has realised this and Unity is an attempt to create a UI for the next wave of devices, tablets, smart TVs etc. I dont use Unity as the ui drove me nuts but I'm not the target market. I've used Ubuntu since 6.04 and I loved it. It felt like home. However things change and there are other choices.

    Id like to see Canonical becoming a profitable venture, there's a lot of really good people there doing something they are passionate about in technology. Yes the Amazon search lens was a cock up but at least they put their hands up. Canonical owes me nothing. This sense of entitlement that people have to something they haven't invested development time or money into amuses me. The thing about Linux is that you have choice its a key differentiator over Ms windows and Apple.

  41. Andus McCoatover

    Today, installed mint 13/MATE on my mate's pub computer

    as a replacement for Ubuntu 8.10.

    One customer was so delighted he could now actually log OUT of facebook, he bought me a pint!

  42. GregC

    Going to get downvoted to oblivion, but anyway...

    I am one of the (seemingly) few that actually likes Unity. Not entirely sure why, especially given that I completely loathe Not-Metro-Honest, which is superficially similar. But it works for me.

    Now don't get me wrong, the Amazon integration is a complete crock of shit, however that was gone within about 5 minutes of the 12.10 install finishing. This, BTW, was courtesy of the terminal that apparently takes 20 minutes to find (word of advice - Alt-F2, "terminal", Enter works just as well as always).

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying: "We get too soon old and too late smart".

    It applies very well to Gnome and to Canonical, which both are getting old (tiresome) and from whom there has been no indication of a general "smartening-up".

    The one thing these two groups have in common is a complete disregard for the user. Results? Even Red Hat is signalling its displeasure with Gnome by shipping its latest Fedora with a new UI. And Canonical? 2010 was the last year it led in the DistroWatch rankings (the same year, coincidentally, when Mark Shuttleworth told Jono Bacon's "community" to shut up and get over the fact that Ubuntu was NOT a democracy, and he'd damned well put the buttons on the desktop wherever he wanted). Linux Mint led for all of 2011 and 2012; check out the rankings on a month-by-month basis for 2012 for a real eye-opener as to the popularity of Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu vs. Mageia and Fedora.

    Canonical and Gnome: you get what you ask for.

  44. Peter Murphy

    Software Design Antipattern #1

    It's deliberately ignoring the users' wishes. And it's probably the biggest antipattern in the software business. Don't know why it's so prevalent, but it's there.

    Both Microsoft, Canonical and the GNOME development team have committed this antipattern. Microsoft can get away with it (more or less) because they have the market share - but they're more vulnerable than 10 years ago. The others have really blown their feet off as far as getting new users.

    It's a shame. I'm an Ubuntu user, but not an Unity user. I'm running Cinnamon on top of the distro - a fork of GNOME 3. Look like GNOME 2, which is what I want. I have yet to have a bug. So it's not like Canonical and GNOME are useless. What I've had to do is to configure my system deliberately overrule their bad design decisions. I have the skills to do it. But others don't, and that's driving their user base away. As I said, it's a shame. If someone actually worked out a Cinnamonbuntu distro, that would be the saving of both organisations. But you have to defeat Software Design Antipattern #1 first.

  45. Greg Eden

    Where are you figures?

    To the author of this article.

    You have made a lot of assertions, rehashing "what everybody knows". But can you back it up with real evidence? There are a lot of "news" items all repeating the same assertions, and all referencing each other and a comment by Linus Torvalds. In his time Linus has criticised every desktop, next year it will be KDE again.

    How many Gnome Shell users are there in the world? How many Cinnamon, Unity, Xfce4, KDE and Enlightenment? A group of angry and noisy bloggers filling comments sections does not imply "everyone". I could almost guarantee that Unity would win by 20 million users (a rough estimate plucked from the air). Given the popularity of Fedora and Debian then Gnome Shell will be at number two (if not now, soon). Debian Wheezy will be Gnome Shell 3.4 by default (news items to the contrary have proven to be rubbish). Linuxmint might have a hundred thousand users, split over their desktop offerings. Cinnamon and Unity are merely alternate Gnome 3 shells, without Gnome they cease to exist.

    I am a happy Debian Sid Gnome Shell user. There are possibly millions of Gnome Shell users, who knows? The difference is that we do not usually fill comments sections with angry comments. We just get on with using our computers. And given some of the rubbish printed above I think many of the commenters have never used Gnome Shell, or only in a trivial sense. I have themes, I can maximise and minimise, alt-tab., task switch. I do not know what Gnome Shell you are railing against but it is not the one I use. Locked down and not configurable? Seriously? has 20 pages of extensions and growing. Gnome Shell can be bent and twisted in a myriad of ways using extensions and Gnome Tweak Tool. Gnome Shell leaves Gnome 2 in the dust for modifiability. Gnome 2s configuration superiority is another myth that "everybody knows" and rehashes without thought or research.


  46. FreeTard

    Still on LXDE

    LXDE here on fedora 17, didn't actually know that gnome2 was available in fedora, cheers for that.

    I probably read it wrong and it isn't. Here's hoping all the same!

    I left gnome when gnome3 came out, coz it's shite.

    On the plus side, my 4GB laptop has 3.odd GiB available all the time, not that it was bloaty before though.

  47. edoardo
    Thumb Up

    Mint for me too

    I managed Ubuntu 12.04 on three netbooks (ok slow Atom CPU and cheap graphics, but with 2G RAM each ) where Unity 2D was slow and the launcher wasted the limited screen estate.

    Rather than jumping on 12.10, I decided, after many years using Ubuntu, to go Mint+Mate

    the result is excellent - my users are delighted with the responsiveness.

    I followed them and replaced distro on my own VMs.

    So pleased I gave Mint a donation - the guys deserve it.

  48. itzman

    a fight to get into a space that no one wants?

    ..for which I entirely blame Microsoft and apple...

    The real issue is that 'consumers' are abandoning desktops in droves for touch screen fondleslabs, leaving Microsoft Apple and the Linux community (whatever that means) fighting for a space that no one is buying.....

    ..EXCEPT real computer USERS who dont JUST use the thing for shopping tweeting and posting drivel on facebook, and downloading videos and music.

    Which is why MINT and a sort of trad windows/gnome2 type feel is scoring: because people who need keyboards and multiple apps open simultaneously and the power to switch between them, and need a mouse to do graphic work and so on, and who don't appreciate CPU grabbing eye candy, but want flexibility of configuration...find that something like MATE or CINNAMON suits their work style.

    Linuix has always been restricted in 3rd party apps, and that is likley to continue: there is after all no reason to use Linux to e.g. run a 'creatives' desktop when adobe and quark only support OSX/WIN platforms.

    Power users tend to run the desktop that supports the apps they need to use: Linux doesnt feature there (yet).

    Average word processing/spreadsheet/mail stuff is doable well in linux, and some organisations have realised that and switched. But those users don't need fancy interfaces either.

    At the consumer computer illiterate level, there exists android and IOS to run on their I-Bling. What is the point of giving them Unity?

    Another point: The dotcom 'boom' was predicated on the assumption that somehow visitors to websites would be easily seduced into spending money somewhere - easily enough to make click through revenue a business model. But we are - and are likley to remain - in a recession. Really who is spending money on-line, and do blanket advertising splashes actually modify it? The answer - in my case at least, is to run adblock and simply remove all commercial content. If I want something definite, a simple google search will identify what I want. I don't buy things just because they are advertised. I simply cant afford to.

    In short the assumptions behind the business models of a huge swathe of dotcom companies, including those seeking to profit from Linux, are likely to turn out to be fundamentally flawed.They think they know what will work, before its been shown to work.

    At least Mint is saying, "tell us what you want, and we will supply it."

    After all, we all left MS/Apple because their attitude was "This is what you get: your views dont count: If you want to have a PC this is what its going to have on it"! and their relentless pursuit of the mindless majority gave us Vista and the I-phone.

    All I want for linux, is more apps. Not a fancier way to load them. If I want a user shopping experience I'll buy an I-bollocksthingy.

    Personal Computers themselves are forking from the unholy matrimony of the corporate and professional desktop and the consumer home/games device - which Windows somehow managed to straddle - into two distinct arenas. Consumers and computer illiterates, and power users and professional corporate desktops.

    Linux had better decide which route to take. It won the server wars. It failed to win the corporate desktop wars and it utterly failed to penetrate at all into the consumer arena except via android.

    It should, having won the server war, where quality of function and resilience outweigh all other considerations, be in a good place to win the corporate and power user desktop wars. The problem is to convince purveyors of quality applications that cost money, that it is a suitable platform to support.

    It already has penetration as android into the consumer arena: Perhaps it should leave it at that, and concentrate on becoming the 'serious' choice for companies and individuals who actually need to generate output, rather than mindlessly consume product.

    1. Hungry Sean
      Thumb Up

      Re: a fight to get into a space that no one wants?

      yup, that's on the money. And there's another important point in Linux's (and sadly, particularly Ubuntu's) favor for power users-- it is the easiest platform for developing android code. All the google tool-chains are setup around Ubuntu, and with (presumably) lots of money from app development and mobile services, why wouldn't you want your power users / content developers to run systems that match and play nicely with whatever it is you are offering customers via "cloud" and "mobile" services?

      But my grandma running Linux? Not happening, and unity-whizz-bang-wtf is certainly not going to convince me to walk her through it when it takes me 20 minutes just to figure out how to get a terminal or where my windows are.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Show us YOUR numbers!

    @ Greg Eden--

    "...I could almost guarantee that Unity would win by 20 million users (a rough estimate plucked from the air)...."

    Just plucked that little devil right out of thin air, did you? Who do you think you're kidding? "20 million" is The Space Cadet's favorite number. If you don't believe it, just type into a search engine "mark shuttleworth twenty million".

    Here's one, for your amusement:

    "We sell millions of PCs with HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, Acer. We expect to to ship close to 20 million PCs in the next year,"

    No kidding? Twenty million? Has anyone seen any indication?

    Here's another:

    " In a recent interview with Julie Bort, Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth said, "We expect to ship close to 20 million PCs in the next year." .

    And here's a real knee-slapper:

    “[Our] goal is 200 million users of Ubuntu in 4 years..." (Shuttleworth addressing the 2011 UBUNTU developers' conference). I suppose inflation hits everywhere, even Shuttleworth's imagination.

    (I'm not giving any citations because you'll readily find the sources when you 'google' "mark shuttleworth twenty million")

    Between you and Shuttleworth, you two could have Ubuntu ruling the LInux AND the desktop worlds. Kinda like King Midas, except all you two have to do is open your mouths. The rest of the Ubuntu cult could keep silent.

    If only...

    1. Greg Eden

      Re: Show us YOUR numbers!

      Ha, Ubuntu Cult? Me? I am not an Ubuntu user myself. I have tried it a few times but always end up back in Debian. But as you asked for numbers .....

      I am realist enough to know that Ubuntu users outnumber the rest of us many times over. Just look at the forums. Some say that the forums are so big because they are all learners, but that is just living in denial. And most of them use Unity.

      There are surveys (Lifehacker) that put Ubuntu at over 50% of Linux users. If Linux makes up 1 - 1.5% of all computer users in the world, then do a quick guesstimate and you get a very big number. According to World Stats as of June 2012 there are 2.4 billion unique Internet users. Add shared connections and that number must pass 3 billion. 1.5% Linux users = 45 million. Half go to Ubuntu = 22.5 million.

      Nobody will deny that those figures are all guesswork. It is impossible to ever know for sure.

      And, just to be clear, I dislike Unity and would never use it. But I do use Gnome Shell and would never go back to the old ways.

  50. Ceiling Cat

    No love for Kubuntu . . .

    Even though it, as far as I can tell, is actually useable*.

    Granted, KDE has gotten a bit bloated and "fancy" itself, but they still let you turn off the eye candy. There's none of this "lens" nonsense either.

    * - your opinion of "useability" and mine may be radically different, so feel free to downvote this comment and tell me - in no uncertain terms - why I am a complete noobcake for using KDE, and what the advantages of your favorite window manager are. After all, there's nothing like "userbase fragmentation" to prove that Linux is ready for the desktop :^)

    Beer, 'cos I have to go to work today (it's not yet 01/01/2013 here).

    1. Vic

      Re: No love for Kubuntu . . .

      > Even though it, as far as I can tell, is actually useable*.

      KDE 3.5 was a fantastic desktop. I still use it in places.

      Then KDE 4.0 came along. And it was *terrible*.

      Now everyone tells me that it's gotten a lot better since 4.0 - and I'm quite prepared to believe it has. But the pain is still too fresh, and I'm just not ready to try it again just yet...


      1. Morten Bjoernsvik

        Re: No love for Kubuntu . . .

        > KDE 3.5 was a fantastic desktop. I still use it in places.

        > Then KDE 4.0 came along. And it was *terrible*.

        KDE4.9 is fantastic. I've been using it ~8h/day since beginning of September and it has not crashed once.

        Now you can move all icons around from anywhere to everywhere. The shortcuts are stable and always working, which was not the case earlier. Now I'm watining for KDE4.10

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So with Mint you get the choice of a GUI that's an unimaginative rip-off of Windows 95, or... a GUI that's an unimaginative rip-off of Windows 95. Wow, what a tempting plethora of options.

    1. Charles 9

      Well, since Windows 95 seems to be the GUI with which most people are comfortable, why fix what essentially isn't broken (the style isn't the problem, really--it's the behind-the-scenes stuff)?

  52. Andus McCoatover

    I "Forked" off to Mint 13.

    Then, I forked off a lot of other people, by shoving it up their orifices (DVD version).

    Does what they want. When Ubuntu went Unity, the world went Universally - effing crazy!!!! Stupid move. Does it enhance performance? No. Does nothing different. Period, fullstop, end-of-line. Oh, fucks your computer, "but apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, what did you think of the play/software upgrade?" (It'll take a minute or two...)

  53. Miek

    "why, for the love of all things usable, is there still no button to minimise windows?" -- There is a minimise button, it has just been disabled in gconf editor. Also the minimise button is a feature of Metacity not Gnome itself.

  54. A J Stiles

    Is it just me

    Is it just me who actually prefers Unity?

    I find the launch bar down the left-hand side, and the Amiga / Mac-like unified top menus, perfect for my Thinkpad's letterbox screen (where vertical real estate is very much at a premium).

    Though, it wouldn't make a lot of sense on the more square monitors attached to my other boxen. So they are running KDE.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: Is it just me

      At least the 'more square monitors' of which you speak don't have rounded corners...

  55. Joe K

    Now its all clear

    Todays story about the Ubuntu phone, now the crazy Shuttleworth traincrash makes sense.

    The moron believes he can take on Google, MS and Apple via the Unity backdoor.

    What a nutcase.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Now its all clear

      He's not a nutcase. He's a space cadet. Not that there is much difference.

  56. crhylove

    Best option not even mentioned!

    Mate and Cinnamon both suck. XFCE is fantastic, and Mint's implementation is particularly good.

  57. J 3
    Thumb Down

    Ubuntu trouble

    The latest version of Ubuntu, 12.10, has been a disaster for me. Crashes like there is no tomorrow -- and soon there won't be for Ubuntu in my machines if it goes on like this. The interface? I actually got to like Unity after I learned its workings. A few hours work and I got really efficient in it. A "traditional desktop" (like the CentOS running KDE at work) slows me down now. But they broke the stuff under the hood, apparently, and if I wanted pretty shiny things that are crappy I would have stayed with another OS (ahem....).

    Now, I know the .10 releases are usually supposed to be more bleeding edge, experimental, prone to problems. But I've been using Ubuntu for many years (at least since 2007), and have never seen such an unstable Ubuntu -- and that in two completely different computers of mine which had never had problems before running previous versions of Ubuntu.

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