back to article Ubuntu 15.10: More kitten than beast – but beware the claws

The second beta of Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf has arrived and there’s not much to see here. Oh sure, there's some revamped scrollbars, Unity 7.3.2 that has some welcome bug fixes and Ubuntu's version of the 4.2.1 Linux kernel, but this is no lycanthropic beast of great transformation as the name might suggest. You won't find …

  1. Bladeforce

    How do you know there's scrollable content?

    Generally when you see half a picture at the bottom of the screen or text, thats a big giveaway to me

    1. Bc1609

      Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

      That's pretty much the reverse of the IgNobel-winning appendicitis test where victims - sorry, patients - are driven in an ambulance over speed bumps. The absence of excruciating pain is a good indication that you don't have appendicitis, but the presence of excruciating pain doesn't mean that you do. Here, the presence of split content is a good indication that the page is scrollable, but the absence of split content doesn't mean that it's not scrollable.

      I trust that's clear.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        ?

        When did Visibility, Affordability & Feedback become Invisibility, Obscurity & Silence?

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: when did. ..

          I think Windows Vista was the pioneer. I can't help with the followup question of who ever thought that copying Vista was a good idea.

        2. John Sanders
          Holmes

          Re: ?

          Around the time Gnome 3 was released?

          1. MacGyver

            Re: ?

            "Around the time Gnome 3 was released?"

            That was the last time I used Ubuntu. They lost me when they jumped on the OS-as-a-bunch-of-duplo-icons bandwagon. I have been a Mint-MATE user ever since.

            Thanks, but no thanks Ubuntu.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Go

              Re: ?

              I knew it wouldnt take long to get a Minty Fresh response!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ?

              "OS-as-a-bunch-of-duplo-icons" That's the very definition of Gnome, isn't it? Missing the 'Unfinished' perhaps...

          2. AdamWill

            Re: ?

            GNOME 3 shows a thin scrollbar whenever the active window has scrollable content.

        3. P. Lee Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: When did Visibility, Affordability & Feedback become Invisibility, Obscurity & Silence?

          When Apple's website had to host an apology on the front page?

    2. MrWibble

      Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

      When the web page you open is just an image and headline, then you know you have to scroll (glares at ElReg "hero" images....)

      1. Loud Speaker

        Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

        When the web page you open is just an image and headline,

        You know there is a better website somewhere else. SEO does not mean "acceptable for use by humans". It means "optimised for robots".

      2. joed

        Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

        I don't often advocate for "new and improved" functionality in OS, but I'd admit that ever since "discovery" of mouse with the scroll-wheel there's no need for scroll-bar. Huge bright scroll-bars and title-bars definitely add insult to injury in ever since Windows 8 (and burn plasma screen attached to my HTPC). Obviously, user has been protected from his/her own choice on MS platform

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @joed

          ever since "discovery" of mouse with the scroll-wheel there's no need for scroll-bar

          Yeah, sure, it's completely useless to grab the scrollbar and slide it directly to the desired position. Much better to roll the scroll wheel for ages.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          @joed

          "I'd admit that ever since "discovery" of mouse with the scroll-wheel there's no need for scroll-bar."

          Not got a mouse, but got a pen on this system - so touching the text indicates that I want to add my own highlight or annotation, whereas my intent through touching a scrollbar is unambiguous. Basically, what we are seeing is a move away from supporting multiple ways of doing the same thing with many different input devices and GUI furniture sets and layouts, which enable users to make choices based on their personal preferences and needs at the time, to only supporting a single set of GUI furniture and layouts that can only be used in the way the OS writer dictated...

          Additionally, this is something that can't really be solved by using a different OS/distribution. It should be solvable within a single distribution so if a user doesn't like the default UI then they can simply go into a menu and select another and if they desire to customise it then they need simply to drill down in the desktop/input device configuration menu's.

      3. Barry Rueger

        Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

        When the web page you open is just an image and headline, then you know you have to scroll (glares at ElReg "hero" images....)

        Mobile Reg is your friend. Haven't looked at the desktop site for ages and ages.

    3. thames

      Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

      How about (with 14.04) you look at the right hand side of the window and look to see if the orangy-brown indicator bar is present, how long it is, and where it is in the window - just like with a traditional scrollbar. For Christ's sake, it's right there in his own screenshot on the second page (right hand window)! The only thing that appears and disappears on hover is the "handle" (as he calls it).

      In 14.04 the visual indicator works in exactly the same way as visual indication of "traditional" scrollbars does. If you can't use the 14.04 style scroll indicator to tell if something is scrollable, then you can't use "traditional" scrollbars to do that either because they work the same way.

      I'll take a guess that the author's actual experience with the mainstream version of Ubuntu was limited to taking the screen shots.

      1. John Deeb

        Re: How do you know there's scrollable content?

        thames: "How about (with 14.04) you look at the right hand side of the window and look to see if the orangy-brown indicator bar is present"

        I'll take a guess that your actual experience with the mainstream version of Ubuntu was limited to some custom installation where the bar remained always visible. It does not. I've cursed it to death and threw many pristine installations on various hardware almost out of the windows because I felt insulted by the makers thinking this was "progress". Now you telly me it all was a nightmare? That ended for me when I started using the latest Cinnamon. Peace at last.

  2. Martin
    FAIL

    Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

    My favourite recent example of the victory of aesthetics over functionality.

    And what's really depressing is that, not so long ago, we Linux nerds were able to point and laugh at, say, Vista and say "Well, you'll never get anything on Linux sacrificing functionality for looks."

    I need a "sad penguin" icon.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

      And the really daft thing, is that it's not like screens are as pixel constrained as they were in the 80's and 90's when being able to hid GUI furniture might of been useful...

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: might of

        might've

      2. BasicChimpTheory
        Happy

        Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

        Have you got one of them tower things my dad had when he was a boy?

        The reality is that (computer usage == internet usage) for the vast majority. And the unfortunate reality is that internet usage trend increases are similar-sh to mean screen-size decreases.

        If Linux/GNU is to survive beyond a timeline of your own usage then that means it has to think about something other than your use case.

        This is not to say that Unity is the bee's knees. I will, however, state that it is a lot better than the XP-mimicing desktop environments that always seem to be popular in these comment threads.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

          You have to ask the question "why is the Gnome 2/Mate/XP-ish popular"? IMHO they are all easy to use, easy to see the state of things, and they look OK. These interfaces are not overly embellished until the user decides to embellish them, but neither are they austere or try to enforce minimalism.

          Friendly, communicative, and pleasing to look at are all wonderful, but not at the expense of usability. Translucent windows are nice, but they can hinder usability (can't read the text because the background is getting in the way), when that happens you need to be able to make the background opaque (and thankfully you can). Light grey text on a slightly darker grey background does not promote readability. Keeping window borders the same colour when selected as when not selected is decidedly uncommunicative as to their state, and no, subtly changing the drop shadow does nothing to improve the situation. Flat graphics for a GUI are so unreal, the real world is not flat and GUIs were created to try to ape real world things so as to make using a computer easier. We don't need to have photographic realism for everything but neither do we need to go to the other extreme.

          1. Fatman
            FAIL

            Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

            <quote>Light grey text on a slightly darker grey background does not promote readability.</quote>

            AMEN BROTHER!!! and those idiots who do EXACTLY THAT ought to be shot!!!!

            Now, where is the "You said it" icon?

            <quote>Keeping window borders the same colour when selected as when not selected is decidedly uncommunicative as to their state, and no, subtly changing the drop shadow does nothing to improve the situation.</quote>

            I hear THAT!!!

            I am a user of the "Tree Style Tabs" addon for Firefox. I have painfully set it up so that the tab colors for the active tab are clearly different from the others. BUT the brilliant geniuses at Mozilla have decided to FUCK WITH those settings somewhere in the 6 week upgrade cycle and now, they are all the same color; and I have forgotten WHERE that setting is. WHICH pisses me off no end!!! Which is why I truly feel that Mozilla has lost its way, and needs to stop fucking with the UI and fix Firefox's REAL problems. For now, I have eschewed the latest version of Firefox as "fluff encrusted".

        2. Tom 13

          Re: it has to think about something other than your use case.

          Perhaps. But it strikes me that when the resulting action is replacing instead of adding there is no actual thinking occurring.

    2. kryptylomese

      Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

      Good try, but with Linux, you can choose your desktop environment (there are many)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

        Not even a good try: this wasn't a review of an OS, just a superficial review of a GUI, supplemented with a list of version number bumps.

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: (there are many)

        Puts me in mind of a Fry and Laurie sketch set in a restaurant. When the diner asks for a new fork he gets a bin liner of plastic ones emptied on his table. "But these are crap!" he exclaims, "Yes, but look at the choice!" comes the reply....

        1. Chika
          Trollface

          Re: (there are many)

          "But these are crap!" he exclaims, "Yes, but look at the choice!" comes the reply....

          Nice one! Reminds me of Sky TV...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Linux

        Re: Yay - magic disappearing scrollbars.

        What was so objectionable about that comment :)

  3. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Yeah - no ...

    ... sticking with Mint 17 XFCE Long Term Support till the end of support. Change bad, stability good.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Yeah - no ...

      Mate rather than Cinnamon too, on Mint.

      Why are linux desktops copying all that's worst in Apple, Android, MS and Web GUIs?

      They should study NN/g articles on UX and GUIs,

      Or maybe go back to copying NT4 and Win98 GUI, but with less shiny bits.

      Things on web sites or GUIs that are not obvious till you mouse hover is a FAIL!

      Skeumorphic is over the top and distracting, but clicky things that look like buttons or traditional hyperlinks should be mandatory. Like this web page. Really IT DOESN'T HURT aesthetics or CPU performance to add two bright lines and two dark lines on every button!

      1. Thecowking

        Re: Yeah - no ...

        I'm all about the Mate on Ubuntu.

        Mainly because our office uses Ubuntu as our default Linux image, and I still hate Unity, espceially it's Alt-Tab behaviour where it groups multiple windows of the same program.

        Oh and pinned programs, I can't stand those either. I don't want to see programs I'm not running on the task bar, because I'm not running them. I especially don't want them masquerading as a running program.

        I have tried to get used to Unity, but it's just so full of little things like that that grate on me.

        1. Ian 55

          MATE quibbles

          I've been running with MATE as the desktop for years too - first with LinuxMint, now with Ubuntu MATE - but I wish I could find the tweaks to..

          a) Have the window borders wider than one pixel. I know there's a keyboard shortcut to 'change size of window', but...

          b) Colour the scrollbar something other than light grey on slightly darker grey. Or is that a GTK thing?

      2. BasicChimpTheory

        Re: Yeah - no ...

        "Why are linux desktops copying all that's worst in Apple, Android, MS and Web GUIs?"

        Because they want mainstream users (i.e. nubs) to use them.

        This seems a pretty simple concept to me.

        The days of people doing something good for free (on the internet - which is basically all consumer devices are for these days) because it is good are pretty much over (if the whole AdBlock furore of late hasn't already confirmed this for you).

        This cancer must consume even FOSS if it is to survive.

        Sadly.

      3. John Sanders
        Facepalm

        Re: Yeah - no ...

        >> Why are linux desktops copying all that's worst in Apple, Android, MS and Web GUIs?

        Correction: Why are "SOME" linux desktops copying all that's worst in Apple, Android, MS and Web GUIs?

        Answer: Because some stupid kids born in the late 80s think they know it all, and ignore why GUIs evolved the way they did during the 80's 90's.

        Also because some developers copied the worst of Microsoft GUI's practices and then threw them away together with the baby. (I'm looking at you stupid dev who created the floating toolbars)

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Flame

          While we're beating up GUI designers..

          Can do in the 'hot corners' guy as well?

          I think boiling in stale yak urine for 16 days should be a suitable punishment for them

          Boris

          <<runs his remote destop windows full screen , with some other applications.... and nearly always hits the hot corner instead of the X button to close the window....... aaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhh

          1. P. Lee Silver badge

            Re: While we're beating up GUI designers..

            I run hot corners... but not all of them. Actually, just the top left - it zooms out to show all windows. I usually run bottom-right too as a lock-screen function.

        2. mrtom84

          Re: Yeah - no ...

          I'm a stupid kid born in the (early) 80s and I like flat colours, minimal gui design and unity. It's a good job there is freedom of choice so I can have my snazzy modern stupid/broken design and you can have your boring more productive one.

          1. Whistlerspa
            Alien

            Re: Yeah - no ...

            Imho as a 50's born kid it's about adaptability. I've used every flavor of MS since DOS 6, OS2, numerous Linux distros with all their various GUIs, Mac, iOS and Android.

            Becoming adept at using any interface was a worthwhile skill to acquire for me. That way I can choose to use the OS and applications that best suit my needs at any given time. Currently Ubuntu fills that spot and Unity, although not perfect, is perfectly usable for most computing needs. Windows 10 I use when I have to for other purposes.

      4. Quortney Fortensplibe

        Beardies! Start Your Photocopiers!

        "...Why are linux desktops copying all that's worst in Apple, Android, MS and Web GUIs?..."

        Exactly this.

        Copying the pointles crap like "catch me if you can" scrollbars [which OSX Finder also has] but failing to copy the stuff that's actually useful. Every time I switch to using the file browser on one of my Linux boxes, after using OSX I feel like I've stepped back in time ten years.

        If you're going to copy something from OSX, copy the Finder Column View / Preview Pane and Quicklook features. Light years ahead of anything I've seen on a Linux file browser —and that in spite of the fact that, outside of iTunes, the Finder is probably the in-house siftware most reviled by OSX users.

    2. msknight

      Re: Yeah - no ...

      +1 on the minty goodness.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Yeah - no ...

        +1 on the minty goodness.

        Add one more. Can't believe how good Mint + LXDE is.

    3. Quip

      Re: Yeah - no ...

      There was a time when I looked forward to a new version, anticipating bugs fixed and useful features added. Now I dread upgrading for fear of more bugs and familiar features made unusable.

  4. phil dude
    Linux

    kdeconnect....

    I want to make a shout out for kdeconnect, which is something you can put on your phone/tablet and have notifications appear on your desktop(or not). You can send/receive files via bluetooth/wifi (using RSA), and soon (!) you can send SMS or possibly make calls.

    I love Linux for its flexibility and the ability to get into the guts, if you have the desire, skill or inclination.

    But apps that do things like this, are the sort of focused productivity software linux needs to spread its appeal.

    That, and not changing the look and feel every 5 years...and disabling apps like kdeconnect....

    P.

  5. Tim99 Silver badge
    Linux

    SystemD

    Do not want. Is it part of a conspiracy by Canonical et al to monetize Linux?

    1. John Hughes

      Re: SystemD

      Please elucidate.

      1. Why don't you want it.

      2. How on earth could it be part of a "conspiracy" to "monetize Linux"?

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: SystemD

        @John Hughes

        1. It breaks one of the main strengths of UNIX - That every component stands by itself and can be managed separately.

        2. The use of interrelated dependencies of systems that should be kept separate encourages "standard" distributions and, I suspect, will allow organizations like, say, Canonical to distribute a "premium" commercial product (like Red Hat) that will tend to limit user and developer choice; and encourages loading unnecessary insecure cruft.

        I am so old that I remember the Berkely Distributions, and still use it. SystemD - Linux for grunt and click users who really like Windows?

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: SystemD

          sure RedHat havea commercial support business. They is also distros like CentOS which are built on the GPL's source code from RH. How does that fit in with your monetization?

          I do think that Canonical will have to become financiall more astute very soon. however If the want to follow the same model as RH I think they will fail. Far too many Ubuntu users are 'Freetards' and will revert to Debian etc.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: SystemD

            @Steve Davies 3

            Monetization, as such, is not necessarily bad, but I believe that it tends to lock you in. It may well be worthwhile for you, but I am uncomfortable with it. A quote from The Wikipedia entry on RHEL:-

            Unusually, Red Hat took steps to obfuscate their changes to the Linux kernel for 6.0 by not publicly providing the patch files for their changes in the source tarball, and only releasing the finished product in source form. Speculation suggested that the move was made to affect Oracle's competing rebuild and support services, which further modifies the distribution. This practice however, still complies with the GNU GPL since source code is defined as "[the] preferred form of the work for making modifications to it", and the distribution still complies with this definition.[16] Red Hat's CTO Brian Stevens later confirmed the change, stating that certain information (such as patch information) would now only be provided to paying customers to make the Red Hat product more competitive against the growing number of companies offering support for products based on RHEL. CentOS developers had no objections to the change since they do not make any changes to the kernel beyond what is provided by Red Hat.[17] Their competitor Oracle announced in November 2012 that they were releasing a RedPatch service, which allows public view of the RHEL kernel changes, broken down by patch.

        2. John Hughes

          Re: SystemD

          I am so old that I remember the Berkely Distributions, and still use it.

          Don't try to get into an old fogey war with me - I started programming Fortran on 80 column punched cards.

          [SystemD] breaks one of the main strengths of UNIX - That every component stands by itself and can be managed separately.

          Damn, could you be less explicit if you tried? What are you waffling on about.

          The use of interrelated dependencies of systems that should be kept separate encourages "standard" distributions
          Ah, so libc is a bad thing because everyone depends on it. You're against people writing useful software because people might use it. Gotcha.

          [Systemd] will allow organizations like, say, Canonical to distribute a "premium" commercial product (like Red Hat) that will tend to limit user and developer choice; and encourages loading unnecessary insecure cruft.

          So just use Debian then. Trusting a commercial company to provide a free system has always seemed to be a mugs game to me -- you just end up as an unpaid beta tester.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Tim99 Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: SystemD

            @John Hughes

            Don't try to get into an old fogey war with me - I started programming Fortran on 80 column punched cards. Yes, me too, happy days.

            Ah, so libc is a bad thing because everyone depends on it. Sorry, I'm not with you here: libc is an ISO standard, systemd is not.

            So just use Debian then. Trusting a commercial company to provide a free system has always seemed to be a mugs game to me -- you just end up as an unpaid beta tester. Before going back to BSD I used Debian, and I tend to agree with you about not trusting commercial companies. It seems that Fedora cannot now be run without systemd: Wikipedia link.

            Edit: You started by asking two appropriate questions, but later in the thread appear to be angry about this. As this seems to be your deeply held opinion, I have not down-voted you. Have a beer instead >>=======>

            1. John Hughes

              Re: SystemD

              Edit: You started by asking two appropriate questions, but later in the thread appear to be angry about this.

              I got a bit angry because my in my hung-over state I found the FUD being flung around a little indegestible. I don't think another beer would be a good idea.

              The use of interrelated dependencies of systems that should be kept separate encourages "standard" distributions

              Purest FUD. What "interrelated dependencies" are you talking about?

              1. Tim99 Silver badge

                Re: SystemD

                Purest FUD. What "interrelated dependencies" are you talking about?

                You like Systemd - I suspect that I will like it less as it develops. Some of my reasons are in an overview of the UNIX Philosophy" (Wikipedia link).

                FUD (your opinion, not my intention) or not, my comment: "The use of interrelated dependencies of systems that should be kept separate encourages "standard" distributions... ...that will tend to limit user and developer choice; and encourages loading unnecessary insecure cruft", is based on, for example, having one daemon that dynamically handles device management, mount points partition discovery, and power management, which I agree could be useful on a desktop (where these things are likely to change as devices are added and removed) may not be useful on a SERVER (where I probably don't want the system to make these choices for me and, even if if I did, they are not likely to change often).

                Goodnight.

                1. John Hughes

                  Re: SystemD

                  But with systemD the one daemon that "dynamically handles device management, mount points partition discovery, and power management" is udevd, as it has done on most Linux systems for many years now. You want to go back to HAL? devfs?

                  As for whether that stuff is useful for a server, I would remind you that RedHat mostly concentrate on servers, and explicitly want systemd for server applications.

                  And you still won't come clean on the "interrelated dependencies" that worry you.

                  1. Tim99 Silver badge

                    Re: SystemD

                    Sorry John, I don't know if you are still hungover but udev was incorporated into the systemd source tree in 2012:-

                    Kay Sievers: game.org; cgit commit link; Linus Torvalds lkml.org

                    I think I will stop posting on this thread now...

        3. keithpeter
          Windows

          Re: SystemD

          1. [systemd suite] breaks one of the main strengths of UNIX - That every component stands by itself and can be managed separately.

          I suspect that dbus and policykit/consolekit (aka 'the *kits') were militating against the clean compartmentalised design well before the systemd suite. And those were at least in part developed to provide a 'modern' desktop (going back to the HardyHeron and after era when people were depreciating HAL if memory serves). And lets face it the recycling of subsystems originally inspired by the needs of the 'modern' desktop to support and ease automated container management and configuration isn't unusual in software development. Especially when its a bazaar rather than a cathedral.

          Rob Pike made throwaway comment I remembered and just found a reference (paragraph 8) for: "Those days are dead and gone and the eulogy was delivered by Perl" (you need the context to get the quote).

          1. Rob Daglish
            Coat

            Re: SystemD

            And why not disparage HAL? look what he did to poor Frank Poole...

            Door over there is it? Good, I'll be off then...

            1. Samizdata
              Happy

              Re: SystemD

              After that comment, you need to leave FASTER. Forget your coat.

      2. Ilgaz

        I think it is also a PR issue

        First, it was introduced/pushed by Redhat who became an enterprise company rather than the old Redhat community loved.

        Secondly, the way it was introduced to Debian was a pure disaster along with arrogant, rude acting developers.

        I see a lot of parallels between systemd and Mono. Was Mono hit by non technical, conspiracy theory like arguments? Of course it was. Just check how Icaza acted.

        1. John Hughes

          Re: I think it is also a PR issue

          Secondly, the way it was introduced to Debian was a pure disaster along with arrogant, rude acting developers.

          How are people supposed to act when told: "Hey, that work you are doing for free, you'd better do it this way, even though it will be a lot more work for you and you think it's a waste of time".

          If the various dodgy "anti-systemd" moves had got through Debian would be dead by now. As it was the shitstorm thrown up by the anti-systemd trolls lost us some good developers.

  6. x 7

    thats the ugliest kitty-cat photo I've seen in years, theres a few were-cat genes in there somewhere.

    Couldn't you find a nice cat photo? I hear theres a few out there on the internet somewhere

    1. John Hughes

      Being a cute kitty is hard work

      Poor little thing -- expected to be cute 100% of the time. Sometimes it gets pissed off, who could blame it.

      Seriously, it's a tremendously cute kitty. There must be something wrong with you.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Still sticking with Slackware.

    But thank you for the review.

    1. Chika

      Re: Still sticking with Slackware.

      Don't blame you. Haven't used Slack in years but I still remember it as the one that got me interested in the first place.

      But no, I doubt I'll be using Umbongo any time soon. I'm increasingly wary of the more well-known distros, especially with the aforementioned systemd business (I hate it with a passion but I'm more hateful of the practices that put it into place, and the fact that distros like Ubuntu are following is even more of a reason to reiterate the old classic saying - LINUX IS NOT REDHAT!!!)

      (or Ubuntu)

      (or, for that matter, openSUSE)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still sticking with Slackware.

        @Chika

        Salix is your friend. Easy to use, Slackware based & no system0x13

        1. Chika
          Linux

          Re: Still sticking with Slackware.

          Hmm...

          I'll try anything once! Time to fire up the VBox!

          Ta!

    2. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: Still sticking with Slackware.

      Slackare and Debian are the oldest remaining linux distributions I believe and they also provide contrasting packaging/design approaches. As an end user with a laptop I find the following...

      Debian has its very tightly coupled dependency resolution and metapackages. Debian packagers modify code to fit applications into the framework.Customise at your peril if you want library versions outside the repository for the release of Debian you are using, but stay within the repository and you can create very minimal (or maximal as you choose) installs that work and stay working after updates.

      A recommended install for Slackware is 'everything' and it comes in at around 8gb. Very little modification of upstream code in the large 'core', so Slackware looks 'unbranded' in the sense that there is no strong distro flavour. But no automatic dependency resolution out of the box and everything is decoupled (within the limits of dbus/avahi and other daemons).

      My Frankenslack has some slackbuilds from 13.37, some from 14.0 and some from 14.1 and the only issue was Shotwell: I had to recompile one obscure library and then the Shotwell executable because of a .so name change. I can also use the GIMP 2.4 binary build (which I prefer for obscure reasons) on the 14.1 platform without major library replacement - not bad for 5 years. Not for minimalists (but see Salix as another commenter suggests) but you can keep it working well easily with polyglot software selections.

  8. batfastad

    XFCE / Xubuntu

    There... much better.

    You're welcome.

  9. Avatar of They
    Coat

    I feel someone should say.

    Are there any fans of Unity, I mean there might be a few, somewhere possibly? I expect down votes galore from the few that like it, but most people seem to go to Mint because Unity sux it big time. (or the Amazon direct selling link was a little too invasive)

    Or shall I just get my coat?

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: I feel someone should say.

      I use it when I can, I like it.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: I feel someone should say.

        Personally I like Unity too, for casual tasks, it's presentable, and more keyboard friendly than gnome or KDE.

        For other work, other desktops work better, or better still something minimalistic like Openbox or I3, especially if I want to squeeze as much out for a bit of gaming.

        When I'm using more than one monitor, I3,Xmonad or another tiling window manager is my preference, re-parenting/compositing window managers just don't do justice to the advantages of an extra screen or two.

    2. malcolmus_rex

      Re: I feel someone should say.

      I quite like Unity. I gave Mint/Cinnamon a good try for about a year, but ended going back to Unity as I find it nicer to use.

      LXDE is nice too, on lightweight machines.

      1. BasicChimpTheory

        Re: I feel someone should say.

        I'm on Lubuntu just because I don't need the polish and scopes of Ubuntu. But, for mainstream usage, I've long felt that Unity is a more frictionless experience (excluding the times terminal is required) than either of the three major OSes (implying recent-ish Windows is two separate instances for popular (but sometimes unfair) reasons).

    3. Mystic Megabyte
      Linux

      Re: I feel someone should say.

      I use it and am reasonably happy with it. I'm too lazy to change anything other than the wallpaper.

      One thing that devs of all OSs seem to get wrong is to make error dialogues un-resizable. Windows was bad for that, you'd get a fixed box with 3 lines and maybe 20 characters width containing 20 lines of a 50 character file path and the tiniest scrollbar ever seen. I used to rant "FFS it's called Windows for a reason, not Peepholes!". To be fair, I've also seen this in Ubuntu.

    4. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: I feel someone should say.

      @Avatar of They

      The use of the left-hand part of the screen for an always-visible program launcher/manager struck me as a sensible use of widescreen format monitors. I like the way that Canonical was upfront about the reasons behind their UI design (see the Canonical Design blog and search for 'user testing'). I stopped using it because I moved away from the Ubuntu underpinning.

    5. Ian 55

      Re: I feel someone should say.

      Tried it when it was the desktop on netbook versions of Ubuntu. It's OK for small screens (you lose width, not the smaller height), but on a sensible screen I still greatly prefer MATE.

    6. Samizdata
      Linux

      Re: I feel someone should say.

      I wouldn't say I am a fan, per se, but I can get stuff done with it, and the layout works nicely with the touchscreen machine I have one of my installs on.

  10. ScottME
    Linux

    Still no reason to upgrade

    Thanks for the review. Once more I can see no compelling reason to upgrade from 14.04 which continues to give sterling service.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    I always thought

    Wile E. was a coyote, not a werewolf

    I'll get me coat. The one with the Roadrunner cartoons in the pocket please

    1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      Re: I always thought

      Yes he was, but he also put in an occasional appearance as Ralph E. Wolf:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Wolf_and_Sam_Sheepdog

    2. Chika
      Happy

      Re: I always thought

      Yeah, he was a coyote. He was also a super-genius.

      "Allowmetointroducemyself, my name is mud!!!"

  12. Kurt 5

    Tried Kubuntu 15.04 with a GTX 960 and 2 4K monitors connected via Display port. Worked great on the login screen. Logging in always kills one of the monitors (and nvidia-settings shows it gets disabled - enabling it/applying didn't work). Tried a few suggestions but none worked - trying without plasma just crashed, the different nvidia drivers didn't change anything, etc.

    15.10 (beta2) which was the first I tried worked great.

    Oh, upgrading Kubuntu 14.10 to 15.04 resulted in the cursor only screen. Tried several of the "fixes" listed and none worked. That was the first upgrade that had failed so miserably.

    1. MrRtd

      Kubuntu Upgrade 14.10 to 15.04

      I decided against doing the dist-upgrade and did a fresh install to avoid much of the messiness going from KDE4 to KDE/Plasma 5. I am expecting the upgrade to 15.10 to be painless experience.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    still self destructing?

    is this latest version(still, with the versions? you better believe it cuz you can't go to a rolling release with stable tracks or anything, that's craziness!) going to self destruct like all boontoos from the last several years do?

    You know, how boontoo keeps installing kernels into the boot partition without deleting old ones until it fills it up and breaks the ability to install updates at all, at least without experienced user intervention. Do the devs still say "won't fix" b/c i'm supposed to set up a cron job to delete the old kernels for anyone i install boontoo for?

    I'm guessing they still don't have fully auto update available as an option, as i'm supposed to use unattended upgrades (if i MUST have that absurd feature) which always requires attending shortly aftet setting up. my grandma doesn't want to learn about the why ubuntu can't install updates, ffs!

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: still self destructing?

      I can see your point regarding deleting old kernels but then again if the new kernel fails for some odd reason you can still boot into the old one, and I suppose it's the reason. It's not only Ubuntu by the way.

      I tend to find the very old ones and remove them if I have nothing better to do (like disturbing the British soul). As far as I remember there is also a script for the "undertaking". Anybody with information.

      1. Allonymous Coward

        Re: still self destructing?

        From the Lubuntu help site:

        "In the bikeshed ubuntu package, there's a script called purge-old-kernels, that allows you to retain a certain number of older kernels as well as the latest, rather than purging them all."

      2. Samizdata
        Thumb Up

        Re: still self destructing?

        Also Ubuntu Tweak (http://ubuntu-tweak.com/) does a lovely job of killing old kernals as part of their "janitor".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'm glad they changed the scrollbars

    I actually didn't realise how annoying I find them, until I saw an alternative.

    Like...a normal scrollbar.

  15. theOtherJT

    Cleaned and polished, but does it need any welding?

    Soo... they've cleaned up the scroll bars. That's... nice, I guess. The old ones were a bit annoying, but I so rarely actually see a GUI on any of my Linux boxen I never really cared.

    Anyone had any really solid experience with how the 15.x releases behave under the hood compared to the 14.x ones? The migration to systemd, for example - What did it break? What did it fix (I mean - it must have improved _something_ right?) Are there any other major changes lurking under the surface ready to bite you when you try and migrate?

    We'll be heading to 16.04 from 14.04 in what's a relatively short timespan now, and the [odd-number].10 version is where we start hunting for things that are going to fuck us next May.

  16. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Rolling releases and review

    "still, with the versions? you better believe it cuz you can't go to a rolling release with stable tracks or anything, that's craziness!)"

    I like version numbers. If I want to follow current, I just dist-upgrade as a new release comes out. If I want to follow stable, I install an LTS; if I want more updates I enable backports. There is the downside of the "big update" when you run a dist-upgrade or full-upgrade to go to the next LTS. But the upsides are 1) If you don't like something in the new LTS, you can actually go back, and if it proves buggy you can go back and wait it out. 2) 3rd party software can say "this requires version x.y of this distro" which you can't do if there are no versions.

    Don't get me wrong, I see the appeal of a fully rolling release (I've used Gentoo after all.) I just also see the appeal of doing it the other way too.

    "going to self destruct like all boontoos from the last several years do?"

    I have one system that removes the old kernels, so I have the latest kernel and one older version. I don't know why one system does this and not the rest. I'm not running seperate /boot so I don't rapidly run out of space.

    "Not even a good try: this wasn't a review of an OS, just a superficial review of a GUI, supplemented with a list of version number bumps."

    I found it perfectly fine. He points out he found surprisingly few changes between the previous version and this one, other than the version bumps. He reviews the changes he DID find (which were in fact superficial GUI changes) and comments on the stability of the system (which, as he comments, can vary a lot on these October releases since they usually have massive changes being worked in.). I found this review perfectly fine; it made it clear to me that if I wanted a full-on review I could simply proceed to read the review for the previous version.

  17. lotus49

    Ubuntu scroll bars are terrible

    I am considerably older than GUIs and I'm struggling to think of a UI feature that I have detested as much as the disappearing scroll bars. Who, in God's name, thought that it was a good idea hiding important GUI elements such that careful hovering in exactly the right place was required to reveal them.

    When the article said that the scroll bars had changed, I foolishly hoped that they had gone back to being usable. Canonical, get your act together.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the window control buttons are on the wrong side

    Ok, I'm used to them being on the right, and my muscle memory is not reprogrammable.

    Also, whoever decided that you should only be able to see one (per monitor) window title bar at a time....is an idiot.

    I uninstalled the latest Ubuntu after an hour.

    1. MrRtd

      Re: the window control buttons are on the wrong side

      I completely agree. I've tried regular Ubuntu a few times and never really liked it; on the other hand, Kubuntu provides a desktop that I like.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ubuntu comments turn into SystemD war...

    *flips table*

  20. Bob. Hitchen

    I'm using Mint with the big blue scroll bar add on. Works great and I can see it. My NUC does everything I want and damn quick. Right now there is nothing I want changed in the OS.

  21. Craig 2

    Major version 15 of a mainstream OS and they're still messing with a basic UI element....

    Reminds me of the problems the Golgafrinchans encounter when trying to invent the wheel.

  22. Samizdata
    FAIL

    And when does installing video break the OS...

    Welp, just did a clean install, grabbed the latest updates, and went ahead and enabled the ATI proprietary driver.

    One clue what happened.

    Nothing.

    That machine never rebooted functionally.

    So, yeah, people wonder why I am a Nvidia fan. Prolly because ATI software has been the bane of my existance with either Windows or Linux for many years.

    Sigh.

    1. Whistlerspa

      Re: And when does installing video break the OS...

      NVIDIA has had it's problems as well. Intel drivers have worked best for me

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