* Posts by Will Stephenson

29 posts • joined 14 May 2008

Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Will Stephenson

Re: Financial models matter

All of this happens, and has been doing so successfully for 18 years now. Let's take SUSE, my employer, for example. Customers with money and an aversion to risk buy support licenses from us, we give you assurances that your bugs get fixed, we pay employees to fix the bugs and provide the features, and we in turn support the underlying communities like KDE and GNOME in various ways: cash sponsorship, hosting events, loans and donations of hardware and services like hosting. Other commercial distributions do the same, and a flock of smaller support and development houses fill in the gaps for customers' more specialized needs.

Sounds like a balanced and successful if fairly unglamorous financial model.

There isn't as much scope for individual users to directly pay for individual features, there have been more or less successful crowdfunded efforts eg the Calligra illustration tool or the Geary email client. The more organised projects gladly accept donations: https://www.kde.org/community/donations/ , https://www.gnome.org/support-gnome/

Airbus confirms software brought down A400M transport plane

Will Stephenson

That's amazing. I wonder where Google gets the 'filled up' from though - I don't know of any uses of 'spielen' meaning 'to fill'.

'aufspielen' is the proper German vocab for 'to install' in the context of software. It could include both installation and configuration. It has nice retro connotations of installing software by sticking a reel of on a magnetic tape drive and threading the header around the rollers.

Elite: Dangerous 'billionaire' gamers are being 'antisocial', moan players

Will Stephenson

I think they are starting to get on top of the backlog. Two tickets I opened on Dec 14 for minor bugs (wrong icon in-game, mission typoes) went to Under Investigation at the start of this week. If they have any sense they are handling those after game-breaking issues and account problems.

Elite:Dangerous goes TITSUP

Will Stephenson

The game has worked fine for me since release, with the exception of a couple of hours late on the evening of New Year's Day. I called it a night and it worked fine the next morning. I've been playing since May, and stability really improved during the 3 week gamma phase leading up to release. I understand that a small number of people had database problems with their accounts preventing play since the server fix on 1 Jan, and a smaller number have had account problems preventing play since release, but judging by the overall forum traffic most people are talking about their playing the game, not not being able to get on at all. My experience has been that the game is very stable.

Ten Linux freeware apps to feed your penguin

Will Stephenson

After an age of 'streaming my stuff from gmusic through my browser' you've prompted me to give Tomahawk another go. Turns out it can now play music from Google Play Music (and everywhere else), and most importantly, it has a global keyboard shortcut, so I don't have to focus a browser tab to pause the music

DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster

Will Stephenson

Re: Or...

Sounds like you need one of these: http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/bicycles/panamericana/ for a "rack" that will go on forever.

Get ready for software-defined RADAR: Jam, eavesdrop, talk and target ... simultaneously

Will Stephenson


Sounds more and more like the Culture's effectors: http://theculture.wikia.com/wiki/Effector

Squidge-droids maker updates iRobot for SUCK, SCRUB action

Will Stephenson


Can we not just agree for the purpose of Reg article titles that any cleaning robot is a skutter?

US Navy builds master control for military drone ops

Will Stephenson

Carrier Command?

I wonder if Geoff Crammond had a hand in this software.

Ubuntu without the 'U': Booting the Big Four remixes

Will Stephenson


@ Liam Proven

> The example that you choose to give as a positive thing - that it has /both/ virtual desktops

> /and/ "activities" -

*Did* I give that as a positive example? I pointed out that there are both, not one instead of the other. FWIW I agree that the big 3 new features in KDE 4: embedded PIM middleware; semantic search; and topic sessions need to be more useful to users to earn their place on the default desktop, otherwise they should get out of the way. I've started a little project to address that within the base KDE framework that you once admired.

> is the kind of pointless bloat that really annoys me.

You do make that quite clear.

Will Stephenson


Virtual desktops/workspaces. They are available as well as Activities. I wouldn't blame a layman for confusing them since they are similar yet completely orthogonal to each other, but a reviewer should be familiar enough with the object of the review to not just make something up.

Also just making a vague assertion that 3D hardware is somewhat required for KDE is BS, you can run it very well thank you without and without having to use a different window manager. This was a USP for a bit, but xfwm4 has learned the same trick.

SUSE updates Studio server appliance maker with native KVM

Will Stephenson


We have a cage of live chameleons wearing ColorHug belts here in Nuremberg, multicasting their realtime colour changes to an OLED sleeve on the boxes, obviously.

OpenSUSE 12.3: Proof not all Linux PCs are Um Bongo-grade bonkers

Will Stephenson

Re: Have they finally fixed

I and my colleagues on the openSUSE team haven't. Upstream KDE might have, but I don't know which bug you mean. Is it one of these: https://bugs.kde.org/buglist.cgi?quicksearch=knode%20drag%20drop&list_id=553813 ?

Will Stephenson

Re: You missed the

Ditto, simply for observing that Day Of Defeat was now available for Linux.

Will Stephenson

Re: You missed the

Yes, it's in the opensuse games addon repo:


GNOME hacker: Culture isn't holding desktop Linux back

Will Stephenson

Bollocks to Broadcom

Too busy to pick nits with you but here's a link to drivers for recent Broadcom hardware 12.2 driver: http://opensuse-guide.org/wlan.php . Oh and you can select DEs at login in openSUSE's KDM by clicking the spanner (of course) icon.

Curiosity clears things up

Will Stephenson

M.A.R.K. 13

The reddish haze reminds me more of the "M.A.R.K. 13 prototype killer combat droid" from the 1990 film Hardware.

PLANET-SWAP shock: Stars grabbed dirtballs from other clusters

Will Stephenson

Solar 2

Sounds like the boffins spent the week playing Solar 2 then wrote it up as a paper. Fun game if you like your physics lite.

OpenSUSE 12.1 delivers Fedora punch with GNOME 3

Will Stephenson

Agreed, editors: please stop Scott Gilbertson writing all his Linux articles around his preference for GNOME, or just prefix them with "The GNOME Marketing team writes:"; it's not even a controversial point of view that brings something to the Reg, it's just boring and does not tell us anything about the supposed subject of the stories.

openSUSE 11.4 rocks despite missing GNOME

Will Stephenson

openSUSE release timing, KDE and GNOME

The choice of KDE and GNOME versions is set only by our timed release policy, every 8 months, not our default desktop. Since the desktops have a 6 month cycle this means that sometimes we miss one of their releases - for 11.3 we missed KDE 4.5.0 by a small margin. The next openSUSE will feature GNOME 3.2. Since people value stability, we don't ship betas of entire desktops (insert KDE 4.0 joke here if you must, but we shipped 3.5 too in that release).

Since the official demo live media for both GNOME 3 (http://www.gnome3.org/tryit.html) and KDE (http://home.kde.org/~kdelive/) are based on openSUSE, a lot of people are getting the latest desktops along with a dose of SUSE.

'Go' because if you poke yourself in the eye, it looks like a SUSE logo.

The Reg guide to Linux, part 1: Picking a distro

Will Stephenson

Neither can we...

We've got openSUSE, SUSE and SuSE scattered all over the codebase. But you've made my morning. Come to #opensuse-kde to claim your reward of a free openSUSE 11.3 RC to test :).

Will Stephenson

Ubuntu advertorial

Yeah, I'm part of another distro, so I'm generally bitter about Ubuntu running away with our breakfast, but this article is just an Ubuntu fanboy bashing out a few preconceptions about other distros while pushing his agenda, not the Reg's usual standard of incisive journalism. Google the author's name + Ubuntu if you like.

GNOME 3.0 release hits six-month buffer

Will Stephenson

Following in the tracks of KDE 4

KDE 4.0 was originally planned for late 2006 but slipped to jan 2008 - a bit later may be 'more polished' but does not necessarily mean 'finished' and meeting users' expectations.

KDE hopes to fill boots with 4.2 release

Will Stephenson

KDE on Windows

Here's a writeup of the whole shell running on Windows: http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/01/testing-kde-42-release-candidate-on-windows.ars

I haven't heard of anyone trying to replace the Mac shell with Plasma yet.

Ubuntu 8.10 - All Hail new Network Manager

Will Stephenson

@The Badger

I came down to the comments to protest about Ubuntu taking the credit for the new NetworkManager ("Ubuntu has completely revamped the network config panel"), when actually it's all down to one guy at RedHat and one guy at Novell. But having read the complaining from the early adopters about NM 0.7 I will give you the satisfaction of hearing from a self-deprecating SUSE person that in this regard, Ubuntu's problems are almost entirely of our making. I suspect that the "if (updown) eth0 never" guy's troubles come from a bad Ubuntu/debian system settings service implementation, however.

I can't resist the temptation to poke Ubuntu for promising all things to all people and trying to do it with too few developers. Hyped but badly integrated features grabbed from left, right and centre give Linux a bad name.

Must dash, I've got an undoubtedly buggy NetworkManager-kde4 to finish for openSUSE 11.1...

OpenSUSE 11 a redemptive OS with a Mactastic shine

Will Stephenson
Dead Vulture

Zypper Woes and the Definition of 'News'

I think it's sloppy to blow up a fixed problem in a release candidate into a "major issue" with a subhead. If the article focused on the release candidate, fair enough, but since the review is of the finished item this gives the impression that Zypper has fundamental problems. Which it doesn't - I'd be surprised if it doesn't get adopted by other distros (at least as libzypp) as part of yum and apt.

Also the author skipped reviewing KDE because "it's in a transitional phase". I am biased (on the KDE team at openSUSE) but I understand a transition from old to new to be the very stuff news stories are made of. Do I spot a bit of personal preference showing there?

Will Stephenson

Re: The Big Little Question

The EeePC native stuff is not on the install media, but it is waiting for you in the Build Service. Instructions here:


KDE 4.1 beta 1 released

Will Stephenson

@Martin Owens' "KDE-PIM WTF"

That's a very imaginative paragraph you've come up with there. As one of the 'worse' guys, I'd like to point out that Akonadi, the data storage layer we're developing for KDE-PIM, has in itself no KDE dependency. It's designed to be cross-desktop and cross-platform. It runs on WIndows and Mac already, and we're courting Gnome developers to write a glib client library.

Anyway, I can't stop to chat, I'm off to browse the depths of MSDN while wearing my KWeddingDress.

Next Ubuntu LTS in 2010, unless Linuxes synchronize

Will Stephenson
Gates Halo


Shuttleworth only wants synchronisation so Ubuntu can feed more effectively off other distributions' work. Ubuntu doesn't have much manpower (as opposed to hordes of enthusiasts) in the areas which need heavy lifting - kernel, toolchain, OpenOffice and the desktops, anything ending in 'Kit', so has to follow the developments blazed by openSUSE and Fedora. RHEL and SLES are based on the stabilised work of the free distros to make a commercial product, but Ubuntu LTS, the product Shuttleworth wants to make money with, is effectively slaved to these as the work is happening on Novell and Red Hat's terms.

It's not about end-user benefit - this is already present in the innovative distributions - but about creating the conditions to feed the Ubuntu wagon with the least investment.

You can object that it's all Free Software and in the end the user wins if you combine Ubuntu's community building magic with the other distros' engineering prowess, and this is true in the longer term. In the short term a lot of the tough problems that are solved to make Linux competitive come from professional developers in-house. These guys have salaries that are paid for by selling RHEL and SLES. Setting up conditions that make it easier for Ubuntu to enlarge its commercial Linux market share reduce those sales, and talented distro guys leave to Google or Web 2.0 startups.

What's clever about his offer is that he only requires "two out of three of Red Hat (RHEL), Novell (SLES) and Debian" to sync in order to sync Ubuntu to them. Thus it comes down to getting the Debian leaders (also net recipients, and realistically, the easiest group to seduce) to shift their release cycle, and he's created a 75% bloc that will be hurt the distro left out.

Saint Bill, because it's worth looking past the shine of the halo sometimes.


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