* Posts by Liam Proven

621 posts • joined 7 Jan 2008


You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: switch to an OS OS

The company looked at doing a native Linux version some years ago, but after a few betas, it was cancelled.


Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: "You own, at most, a serial number"

Thank you very much for your kind words!

Yes, I still have Word 97 on some machines myself. :-)

And Reg house style now is American spelling, I'm afraid. I am a little erratic at it, though, but our hero subs usually sort that out.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Great article...

Great -- thank you!

There will be a follow-up soon. I am planning at least 2 or 3 on some of the consequences of the points in this piece.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: switch to an OS OS

Sure, absolutely. If you have something that you absolutely cannot do except using one specific app, and that app can't run on anything except one specific OS, run that OS.

Use the right tool for the job.

But the majority of people don't need that one specific tool. They have basic needs which are handled well by any old app that does that task.

It is 2022. Most people can do their basic tasks in "apps" that run in a web browser. Basic office suite? Google Docs, or Collabora, or OnlyOffice. Email? Loads of 'em. Basic sound or image editing? No problem. Chat? Loads of choices. Voice chat? No worries. Video chat? Also fine.

This is a very low bar for functionality.

Which is why hundreds of millions of people use ChromeBooks now, a platform which can *only* run a browser without some skills and specialist knowledge.

The point here is not about special and unique little flowers. :-)

It's that free stuff now does all most people need and a tonne more.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: "You own, at most, a serial number"

[Author here]

Well, no.

Because serial numbers are very easy to duplicate.

They may not _work_ but you can trivially easily copy them.

Here's a valid key for Office 97:


Enjoy. :-)

The idea of NFTs is that each one is unique and can't be duplicated. Remember short URLs, like bit.ly/trabhov? It's unique, and redirects a browser, pointing at just one web page. (Which has gone.)

NFTs are very long URLs, that you can pay lots and lots of money for, and say "I own this JPG". :-)

Big changes coming in Debian 12: Some parts won't be FOSS

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: A radical thought, perhaps, but...

I wrote about this before, then forgot I'd written about it, TBH, or I'd have linked to the story:


TL;DR? It's cheaper to softload it, and in a commodity market, cheaper = better.

HDD Clicker gizmo makes flash sound like spinning rust

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Software for DOS, or Windows 3? Or Windows 95, or 98, or ME, or NT, or for Linux -- it's a driver, so which kernel version? -- or for FreeBSD or OpenBSD or NetBSD, or for OS/2?

No, it wouldn't be simpler, or more flexible.

How Citrix dropped the ball on Xen ... according to Citrix

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: "We didn't mean to cause any harm. We wanted to be good citizens."

[Author here]

Back in the very early years of this century, I interviewed the founder and "chief scientist" of Connectix. (He started the company then farmed off actually running it to someone else.)

He co-developed VirtualPC. It was originally a Mac product, for PowerMacs running Classic MacOS. So it did whole-PC emulation; it had to, it wasn't running on a PC or on x86.

Then, later, due to the success of VMware in its original desktop incarnation, Connectix ported VirtualPC to the PC.

He told me with a big grin: "You'd be amazed how easy and efficient emulating x86 on x86 is. The architectures are a *really* close match."

Microsoft bought Connectix:


I've written about it on the Reg:


On Linux, KVM works by using the combination of 2 features: the built-in hardware virtualisation of modern Intel and AMD chips, and the software virtualisation tools of the QEMU emulator.

On Windows, Hyper-V works in exactly the same way, by using the built-in hardware virtualisation features, plus the emulation bits of VirtualPC.

HyperV still uses virtual disk formats derived from VirtualPC ones today. No, there's not much left of the original product, because all the bits it needed are now part of the hardware or part of the OS.

I know the history because I was there, using it and writing about it.

So, no, I do not believe that MS stole anything from Xen, because it didn't need to steal anything. It had already bought the tools it needed.

Amazon lets you rent Ubuntu Pro. Yes, it's Linux on the virtual desktop

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

[Author here]

First a sort of a disclaimer -- about a decade back, I briefly worked for a consultancy that heavily pushed virtual desktop solutions at its clients, and most of said clients ran them.

So, it wasn't my choice or anything, but all the same, that's what I must base my answer on as my most extensive personal experience.

There were several reasons. Different clients had different drivers.

One was: a fleet of badly outdated desktop OSes, some even running Win9x well into the 21st century sometimes. Many were underpowered and slow. Upgrading the OS would be vastly labour intensive and possibly expensive in both software and hardware upgrades.

But almost anything, however old and slow, can run a remote desktop client. So, they pushed out remote desktops to everyone, and any old junkware clunker of a PC that could at least boot up would let them connect -- and once they'd logged in, everyone got the same performance.

Another reason: upgrading the client software (OS, apps, drivers, whatever, all of the above) is a significant management hassle. Put all the apps on a terminal server and you only have to update that 1 box.

Some clients want the terminal server in their office; fair enough, we could remote onto it like anyone else.

(In that case you really want at least 2, ideally a set of 3 or 4, so you can keep working if 1 goes down.)

Of course, then, maintenance windows become extremely hard to find, but that's a different issue.

Or, outsource running the servers too, and then their maintenance becomes the hosting company's job.

Maintaining a fleet gets even worse if you have lots of mobile workers, or remote workers, or people who are sometimes both and so have maybe a home-office PC *and* a travelling PC.

If it's all virtual, then this goes away. No data syncing issues. No remote-node-to-server connectivity issues: the server is also the client, or at least sits next to it in the rack.

LAN protocols (file sharing, print sharing, etc.) are not designed for WANs and often do not run well over WANs. Remote desktop protocols these days are highly compressed and designed to cope with intermittent connections. If the link is lost, the remote app doesn't panic, crash and corrupt the file -- whatever the remote app is.

It's inefficient, it's a bit of a bodge, but it *does* work and it does make some issues just go away.

Amusingly, while I worked at that company, it was in my contact that I never mention or discuss Linux or FOSS with clients. :-)

What they didn't know is that sometimes, I used my laptop with Linux to run an RDesktop client at work. The machine they gave me was, true to the company's methods, an abysmally old, slow, underpowered dog of a box. I spent a day or so cleaning up and updating the client box to make it work slightly better, and in that time, I used my own. With a full-screen RDesktop session, nobody could tell. :-D

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Year of Linux, Fusion in a decade.

[Author here]

Hey, whatever works for you.

A large part of a very-soon-upcoming Reg story was written on a Thinkpad X220 too. It's a lovely little machine. I bought mine 2nd hand in 2017 for about £150; it's on its original battery, AFAICT, and as of Friday, it still runs happily for the duration of a train ride from Prague to Brno – circa 3 hours – working all the way, on wifi.

I don't use MATE though. Its handling of vertical taskbars is as broken as it was in GNOME 2, and for me, that is a deal-breaker.

FWIW, yes, I used to have free use of RHEL, too, and back then I ran Fedora as well. Almost everyone in the company did. :-D

Late but lustrous, a fresh remix of Ubuntu emerges

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Well, yes, but sadly, there is an answer here, it's just not a popular one.

It's closely related to:


"Win32 is the stable Linux userland ABI."

What most people can agree upon is that the Windows desktop is the "standard" "traditional" one now.

Which then proposes a new question: which version? Windows 95 (& NT 4) was the original. That is more or less what Xfce, LXDE and LXQt implement.

GNOME 2 was a sort of half-hearted version, built by people who apparently didn't really understand how the Windows one worked, so it can't do simple things like vertical panels well.

Windows 98 came when MS was under investigation by the US Justice Dept for illegally bundling IE. So, MS built IE into the Windows UI. Good aspect: multithreading; quick launch bar. Bad aspect: pervasive HTML rendering everywhere to legitimise IE being there.

I don't like it myself. Didn't then, don't know.

But that is what KDE copied -- poorly. It has many complex twiddly options instead of direct manipulation, and it's not nearly as flexible as the developers think, because they didn't really know how to customise the original they were copying.

However, since many people only know how to use it poorly, it's good enough for them.

That is where the Linux world gave up. "Just barely good enough" -- ship it.

Actual Windows users would mostly tell you that Windows 7 was the high point, and so that's what UKUI and DDE are trying to copy.

Result, they copy a much more modern Windows UI, with app tiles, no need for a quicklaunch bar, working vertical panels, working search built in, and so on.

So, the question is, who does it best? If you just want a Windows-like desktop, your choices are:

[1] a very basic Win95 type UI

[2] a fancier Win98 type UI -- a copy of something half-done

[3] or a copy of the highpoint of the design of the original.

Version 3 removes a lot of the fiddly twiddly bits some Linux types like. Me, I personally prefer v1, as basic as it needs to be and no more.

But a lot of people like v2, and I am trying to point them at a maybe better alternative that they might like.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: A word of warning

Just checking... you got that this is an Ubuntu remix that *doesn't* contain the snap version of Firefox, right?


Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Behold the pretty but also impressively functional UIs coming out of the vast, little-known Chinese Linux market, where fringe desktops from distros most people have never even heard of have more polish and more usability than the leading Western desktops after 25+ years of work by billion-dollar corporations.

That's more like how I'd put it, but hey, you do you. ;-)

Removing an obsolete AMD fix makes Linux kernel 6 quicker

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The older the OS...

I bought OS/2 2.0 for cash, which I have never done with a PC OS before or since, and ran it on both 486s and indeed later on a 386SX or two. (No, not all at the same time.)

I was very fond of it, and at the time, circa 1992, it was by far the best x86 OS there was. Linux was on kernel 0.something and barely ran X11, Windows was on v3.1 and was awful.

Yes, sure, driver support was poor, but it was 100% doable. But you needed a clue what you were doing. Many PC users didn't have that, and OS/2 was probably the product that demonstrated this to them. ;-)

I think one of the the biggest mis-steps IBM made in the Warp era was putting a time-bombed demo copy on a magazine cover CD.

A demo OS, which needs to take over your hard disk but which, even if you get it working, will expire? That is not a great plan, to put it mildly.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The older the OS...

I thank thee, good sir.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The older the OS...

Symbian already *is* FOSS. The source code is here:


Go and get a few people together and you can start reviving it right now.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The older the OS...

I think that Sir does not remember his Windows versions very well.

You are thinking of NT 4. That did not support power management, USB, or FAT32.

Windows 2000 did all of those, out of the box at launch. It supported 2 CPU cores and I think the server version supported 4.

If I remember rightly, Win2K got USB *2* support with SP4.

An SSD is just a disk drive. You can certainly install Win2K on an SSD and I think I did it, long ago for experimental purposes. No, it does not support `trim` but that is not life and death. One could boot Linux occasionally to trim the SSD if necessary.

No, it did not have a 64-bit version. But to be honest, on an old laptop with 4GB of RAM, I think the x86-32 version with PAE turned on would do me fine. :-)

(Windows supports PAE just fine, allowing more than 4GB of RAM on 32-bit versions, but MS only *enables* it on the Server editions. It is possible to hack Windows Workstation to load the Server kernel and thus get support for more RAM.)

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The older the OS...

> I would love to see Windows 3.11 made to work

Good gracious, really? No thanks!

I can think of a dozen OSes from Þe Olde Times I'd rather see put out there for an update.

Windows 2000 on a modern computer would be quite nice. I long hoped that the ReactOS folks would get there some day, but if they did, I think a Microsoft sue-ball would leave nothing but a smoking crater.

Win2K is of course just Windows NT version 5, and since MS is still selling Windows NT, it's not going to make any version of NT FOSS. But by this point, it could certainly release all versions of DOS right up to MS-DOS 6.22 and all versions of 16/32-bit Windows, from 1.0 to Windows ME, without giving away any commercially-significant IP.

And if MS were to let all 20th century versions of Windows be made open source, then it could do a deal with IBM and release OS/2 as well.

OS/2 was great in about 1992. If IBM was unwilling to release the IBM-only x86 OS/2, which is after all still on sale, perhaps it could release Workplace OS/2, the IBM-only PowerPC edition.

That ran on Mach. Mach is still maintained, and Apple still releases the Darwin source code.


Or how about BeOS, still clutched tightly by Access Ltd of Japan, not even slightly well-known for writing the web browser in the Amazon Kindle.

Access also owns PalmOS, including PalmOS Cobalt, released but never shipped on any hardware.


Is it a bird? Is it Microsoft Office? No, it's Onlyoffice: Version 7.2 released

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: but if you prefer something ... more like Office 365

> why not just use Office 365?

How many reasons would you like?

* It costs money. One might not want to spend money, or might not have money to spend.

* It doesn't run on Linux. I prefer Linux to Windows, thanks.

* It's closed-source and proprietary. I'd prefer something open.

A match made in heaven: systemd comes to Windows Subsystem for Linux

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Better idea.

Oops. :-) Yes it should. I blame post-COVID brain fade. Sorry about that.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Better idea.

The BSDs are effectively derived from Research Linux v7.

V8 never saw release outside Bell Labs, AFAIK, and v9 was not finished... but v9 inspired Plan 9, and the numbering may not be a coincidence.

I would *love* to see a bunch of determined hackers seize Plan 9 and update it and try to make it into something much more Linux-like. It is considerably more lightweight and clean than any BSD.

But the successor to Plan 9 was Inferno, and Inferno has some excellent ideas in it as well.

There is room for a lot of modernisation of both Inferno and Plan 9, and I also wonder if there might be some way to effectively merge them into one.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Better idea.

[Article author here]

There are multiple systemd-free options.

Ones the Reg has looked at recently:

* Alpine Linux

* Devuan Linux

* MX Linux

* Slackware

* PCLinuxOS

Some more that are on my to-do list:

* Chimaera Linux

* Nitrux Linux

* Void Linux

Serious surfer? How to browse like a pro on Firefox

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

[Author here]

What, the rippling background? Really?

Well, one of the addons I like is Readability:


It turns off stuff like that. So, another good reason, IMHO.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Not for me, I'm afraid.

Indeed so -- which I did specifically spell out in the article. :-)

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Not for me, I'm afraid.

[Article author here]

I tend to agree with you but my concerns are that Palemoon took an older version of the engine, which lacks important features such as multi-process support. Basilisk seemed to have something a little more modern, but also seems to have stalled over ownership issues.

I know that many people were upset when the new themes were adopted -- twice -- but I didn't really care about that.

If XUL addons are still important, then Waterfox Classic is still around, still gets updates, uses the last ever version of the core engine (not merely the last LTS version) that supports XUL.

The Waterfox Project is open that there are security issues in it that they cannot fix and that they don't recommend or promote it because of this. The Palemoon/Basilisk project does not say this, but I am confident that the same issues and more also apply to them. That is one of my concerns.

But if Palemoon works for you, then great.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

[Author here]

I *want* to like Vivaldi, but I don't get on with its UI either. But then, I never really got on with Opera, either. Vivaldi being some of the Opera team's effort to re-create it after selling the company to Kunlun & Qihoo 360.

Actually, and it somewhat banes me to say it, Edge is well on its way to being the best, most effective, no-nonsense Chromium fork these days.

I agree re Mozilla's deeply foolish and misguided efforts to ape Chrome, poorly.

However, so far, it *is* still possible to bypass a lot of it, turn stuff back on, and then get it to work well.

The new "webextensions" selection has caught up quite a lot since Mozilla's _also_ deeply foolish and misguided killing of XUL and its vast extensions ecosystem. The new ones can now do a lot of what the old ones can do, and while some have not made it across the transition, in many cases I have found replacements which work -- such as the Multithreaded Download Manager I linked in the article.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: At this point

[Article author here]

This may be one of the less everyday advantages of Waterfox. Since it is based off the Firefox ESR release, you only get minor updates in routine use, then a bigger one a few times a year.

This is true of Firefox ESR itself, of course, but Waterfox just gives me a little bit less grief.

'I Don't Care About Cookies' extension sold to Avast

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Thanks for the correction. We've amended the article.

GNOME hits 43: Welcome To Guadalajara

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: XFCE Dashboard, most favourite Gnome feature....

The GNOME overview is not really similar, or even comparable, to the alt-tab app switcher of any OS, no.

It has 2 main functions.

[1] it uses hardware compositing to show scaled versions of all your current open windows, side by side on one screen, so very visually-oriented people can quickly pick the app that they want to switch to with a single click, rather than working through a list.

[2] it is also an app launcher, usually with at least 2 modes:

[2a] a search box so you can type the name, or a descriptive word relating to, the app you want.

[2b] a set of icons for most-frequently-used apps, again so visual types can just click.

So it combines 2 functions into one: both app launching *and* app switching.

If you can't see the window you want, type the name. If it's open, it will switch to it; if it isn't open, it will open it.

You can also type a description, so for example if you forgot that your text editor is called "Pluma" or "Leafpad" then typing the 1st few letters, e.g. t-e-x-t-e-d, will find it anyway.

So you don't need to even think "do I want to switch apps or open an app?" The launcher is also a switcher. It combines the two functions into one, so you don't need to choose which to do.

For comparison:

Windows 95: taskbar buttons only switch between open apps. You must use the Start menu to open new ones.

Windows 98 & NT4 + IE4 added a Quick Launch bar.

With this, you can launch favourite apps direct from the taskbar without opening the Start Menu. Few people discovered that you can use they keyboard: hold down the Windows key and press 1 through 9 to open the first through to the ninth icon in QL.

But now, you have 2 duplicated entries on the taskbar: a QL icon _and_ maybe an app button. The launcher and switcher remain separate.

Windows Vista: now you can pin icons to the taskbar. If you launch it (and the old WinKey+digit shortcuts still work) its launcher icon expands into an app button. The distinction between launching and switching is removed: one icon does both, like on Mac OS X's Dock.

But these are only icons. You need to mouse over them for a preview of the window or windows. That means doing what is called "scrubbing the dock" with the mouse if you're not sure which window you want.

So then OS X 10.3 introduced Exposé: a hardware-accelerated full-screen tiled view of all open windows.

OS X 10.7 combined this with the virtual-desktops feature for an instant overview of all windows on all desktops, now named Mission Control.

GNOME's Overview is something broadly similar, but also combines it with both iconic and search-driven app launchers, akin to Mac OS X's Launchpad and Spotlight and Mission Control, all in one.

Personally, I am not that visual a thinker and I rarely need it, but it is often cited by GNOME users as a favourite feature, and I welcome seeing it in other desktops.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: KDE is less annoying.

I would tend to agree, but IMHO, Xfce is even less annoying still.

I am working on an article on this subject...

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The strive to be a desktop on mobile has killed both KDE and Gnome

[Article author here]

I'd tend to agree with you, except that I'd go back further: I really liked KDE 1.x, which made Linux usable with a FOSS desktop for the first time for me. It wasn't pretty but it worked and did all I needed.

KDE 2.x was bloated and overcomplex. Corel LinuxOS and later Xandros tamed that and made it quite pleasant to use.

After that, it all became way too much for me.

Fedora 37 beta: Hints of what's to come in Red Hat's free flagship

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

So which Fedora desktop(s) would you like to see reviewed on F37 then?

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

So, see my question above.

When F37 ships, or indeed, when Ubuntu 22.10 ships, can our highly-esteemed readers arrive at a consensus on which desktop(s) I look at?

Fedora has one of the biggest selections there is.

I personally like Xfce. I have tried Fedora MATE on bare metal, and it's quite nice, but doesn't work well on widescreens IMHO, and all my vaguely modern laptops are widescreen now. I am not especially fond of KDE but I try to give it regular coverage. I haven't looked at KDE 5.26 yet.

LXDE is very static now because its primary developer has moved on to LXQt.

I can maybe do 2, but not really more.

So, which?

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

[Author here]

OK, serious question, then...

When I take a look at the final release version, which desktops would people be most interested in reading about?

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Notes

Thanks for the clarification re CoreOS and Cloud Base editions.

Re installing the GNOME beta --

I have a fairly standard VM config for distro testing, which I have mentioned a few times in the past.

I create a new VM every time, with a descriptive name. So, calling it Fedora makes VBox create a new VM of type " Linux" with subtype "Fedora, 64-bit".

The default RAM allocation is just 1GB but I give it 4GB of RAM and 2 CPU cores, which I do for all 64-bit distros.

I enable 3D acceleration on the default graphics adaptor, `VMSVGA`.

As Fedora is not a lightweight distro, I gave it 16GB of virtual disk.

When installing, I accept defaults as far as possible. VBox defaults to BIOS rather than UEFI, so F37 tries to create a BIOS_BOOT partition and then a root Btrfs volume. It failed. I tried creating the partitions for it; it failed. I re-ran the installer hoping it would use the partitions it created last time; it failed.

So, I deleted the VM and tried again; on about the 4th attempt, it succeeded and completed the installation.

GNOME Software failed to update, showed and error, then crashed. Bug Reporter opened, asked if it could upload 2.5MB of data. I said yes, but it asked for a Fedora Bugzilla access key. I don't have one (I think!) so I clicked Cancel. It crashed, then reopened, and now the bug report was 25MB. I gave it permission and it crashed again. 3rd time around, it succeeded and uploaded the crash data. It was then automatically rejected because it did not contain enough useful information.

`dnf update` failed with package download errors on a Linux firmware package. I cleared the cache and retried. Same error. Rebooted, retried again. Same error.

So I did:

`dnf upgrade -y a*`

`dnf upgrade -y b*`

...etc etc. Manually for all 26 letters. Under `l` the Linux firmware package gave errors but everything else completed.

*Then* I did `dnf update` which said there was nothing to do.

Rebooted and since then no more crashes.

Any more info I can give you, please let me know.

PanWriter: Cross-platform writing tool runs on anything and outputs to anything

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Spiel Chucker

Oddly enough, that never even crossed my mind.

It is a fair and valid point, and I can see that that would be useful to many people, but in more than 6 months, I've never even thought of it or missed it for a second.

OTOH, that is what editors are for. :-D

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Suggestions

Apart from word count, no thanks, I don't want a single one of those. :-)

All would be pointless clutter to me.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: A markdown editor

I am a writer *now*.

I also spend about a decade doing tech support and tech training, then another decade as a sysadmin. I have administered umpteen network and server (and client) OSes, and that has meant a *lot* of editing config files.

I've also done a bit of coding in my time, mostly for pleasure rather than for work, but a bit of both. I've done Fortran, Pascal, C, Java, Python, Bash, Sendmail/M4, and umpteen BASIC variants. *Lots* of Novell Netware login scripts and DOS batch files, back in the day.

So, yes, I most definitely do have strong opinions about editors. And as a Linux professional, one of the most controversial is that almost all console text editors for Linux are utter junk. Obsolete rubbish of the worst order that should have been forgotten in the last century.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Ed is the standard

Ooh, does AmiPro have an outliner? I think I have it on a machine around here somewhere. I must check.

Re the ownership of the document: that's a *very* good and entirely valid question.

No, I strongly suspect the company has nobody who knows how to use Outline Mode. I worked with an hardware engineer who showed me how to totally strip and rebuilt the machine (several times), and I carefully showed him, but it's not his job and I don't think he was interested or would remember.

OTOH, for a company with no existing tooling, which already used Windows and Office everywhere, this was about the best available option. They could edit it in Normal or Page Mode and make amendments. Ultimately that would screw up the formatting, but at least they can do it.

If I had used, say, AsciiDoc (which I didn't know back then) and some Linux tools to render it, they would not have been able to amend the doc at all. Ditto FrameMaker or MadCap Flare or some other commercial tool I'd have had to persuade them to buy. (And TBH neither of which I know well.)

So, yes, this is an excellent point, but Word still seemed to be the least-bad option.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: A plea for AsciiDoc i.s.o. Markdown

Well, once again, actually: no.

The Reg, like virtually any website, has a CMS. It also has editors.

I don't do the tables. You may not the 2 recent articles with tables, comparing resource usage of the official and the unofficial Ubuntu remixes.

I made the tables with this:


Dead easy, quick, free. I pasted the result into Panwriter. It did its magic behind the scenes to make that into HTML (I presume; I don't know, I never see it; it's never in a file, just in the clipboard.)

The wonderful human editors did the formatting. That's not my job, and they wouldn't be happy with me if I did it.

I don't do images either. The CMS does that for us.

So, no, I don't have, or need, or use, *any* extra external tools with Markdown or Panwriter, and I have used that table generator a grand total of twice, and TBH, I could have just done it by hand, but I couldn't be bothered.

I didn't write the article because this was one of a thousand tools that are all just as good. I wrote it because I know of ONE (1) tool that sounds closely comparable, and it costs money.

No, no text editor is good for this. The best I found was Atom, for its live preview, but it's bigger and clunkier and has 1000 more features I don't need, and needs extensive manual tweaking.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Enter candidate for dead simplest text editor

That's a fair point. It probably is, yes.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Enter candidate for dead simplest text editor

It does indeed -- a version of WordPad is *bundled* with WINE. ;-)

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: ReText

Never in 27 years of writing have I written one story recommending a tool, in which so many people have commented or replied telling me to try other tools which either don't do the same thing, or do it and 100x more, or don't meet some of the critical requirements, or are just plain not as good.

It is almost impressive.

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know that I did actually try ReText.

Good points:

* very easy to install -- `pip install retext` and it's there

* nice GUI

* shows bold, italic and links in the markdown source: that's a win

* integrates with the Unity global menu bar

* relatively small, quick enough even on decade+ old kit

* has a preview and optional _live_ preview (took me a little work to find that)

* has a word count, although a little clumsily overlain over the document


* considerable more complex UI, although I've found how to hide the toolbar

(notable when I praised Panwriter for its simplicity and clean UI)

* can't put rich text in the clipboard for other apps, a core function for me

* can't export to (say) Word or LibreOffice document formats

So, thank you. I think this is the best suggestion of them all so far. I can see that this might be a useful tool in the future, possibly, and it's a nice nifty little app.

But for me, right now, it doesn't do the core things I need and praised in the article -- the very clean UI and the very flexible rich output formats.

Deepin prepares to leave Debian base and move to fully independent distro

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Welcome disruption

Yes, AIUI that is pretty much the case.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Disappointing news

OK, OK, I did chuckle. :-D

Kylin: The multiple semi-official Chinese versions of Ubuntu

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: The Year of the Linux desktop (in China at least) : 2035?

I suspect that the government of the PROC would be reluctant to disclose this info, even thought it very probably has it.

20 years ago, 92% of software in China was pirated.


There have been many big crackdowns:


... and big payments to go legit:


But that doubtless does not delight The Powers That Be.

Allegedly it is way down:


But I suspect that an edict from TPTB which says "switch to Linux *or else*" will have a marked effect, and that's what is underway.

Officially this is the last year of the 3:5:2 programme.

I suspect, in reality, if they can get pirated Windows down to a single-digit percentage, they will be relatively happy and probably not push for complete extirpation if it would break stuff... and I bet it would.

And of course there was also this:


You can install a pirated copy of Windows 7 or 8.x, crack it, and upgrade it to Win10. Then extract the product key, wipe the machine, and reinstall a clean copy of Win10, and activate it with that key.

The result is a clean copy of licensed Windows with no crack or anything on the system. I've tested it: it worked.

(The machine was wiped and given away long afterwards, BTW.)

I suspect that quite a few companies do this to get into compliance, not just in China but around the world.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: "All the leading Western distros tend to focus on GNOME"

GNOME is the only available desktop on:

* the commercially-supported version of Ubuntu and Ubuntu LTS versions

* RHEL and all rebuilds of RHEL


It is the default desktop on Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and multiple other distros.

Yes, you can avoid it. There are many alternatives, as I covered at length in this story:


But it is the dominant desktop out there.

The only mainstream major distro that defaults to KDE is openSUSE, and GNOME is a supported option there too.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Buster

I think you're right -- there's no metapackage.

I confess, I did not dig into low-level stuff like that. The article was overlong as it is, and took a long time.

It's a good strong desktop, though, and for me, it beats its progenitor MATE in several ways, such as better vertical taskbar support -- a big win on widescreen displays.

I suspect that in its home market, where I think it is being installed on a lot of PCs, it will further develop its fancy disk partitioning scheme, with dual root partitions and a shared data partition. A distro that is tolerant of, and can recover from, package update errors would be a big step forward.

Ubuntu was not especially active in Africa, as far as I know. The reason for the African-themed colour and sound schemes is that the company's founder and financial sponsor, Mark Shuttleworth, is African. He was born in South Africa and was the first African citizen to go to space.

Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Traditional, Simplified or Both?

These are legit questions, but I can only read a handful of hànzì and I can't tell the difference unless they are side-by-side.

I don't have any hardware suitable for testing handwriting input -- to be honest, I'm not even keen on trackpads. And if I did, I doubt it could read my terrible scrawl of


... which was the peak of my achievement. Well, that and


Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Excellet Review

Thanks. Yes, I did.

You have a good point. I am not sure if UKUI would be any more suitable for other idiographic languages (e.g. Japanese) than it would for Chinese. To be honest, I do not see anything much in this desktop or distro that reflects thwe Chinese _writing system_.

As a national localization, yes.

But that could be removed (e.g. input methods), or changed (e.g. global weather, wider choice of non-Chinese search engines). Nothing about it is inherently or unchangeably Chinese-specific.



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