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LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 23, 2013
An "enum" for Python 3
An unexpected perf feature
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
Tasting the Ice Cream Sandwich
Posted May 16, 2012 20:42 UTC (Wed) by anselm (subscriber, #2796)
Which only goes to prove that consumers generally aren't that passionate about what operating system their phone runs as long as it does roughly what they want. (That is if they're not the sort of person who isn't that passionate about what operating system their phone runs as long as the phone has a big Apple logo on the back.) ☺
Posted May 17, 2012 9:10 UTC (Thu) by rwst (guest, #84121)
I thought around 2000 this was clear, too. Later, Dell and RH made some real money with the idea. Nowadays, noone seems to bother, not even the E.U. cartel office.
Posted May 17, 2012 16:47 UTC (Thu) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285)
Perhaps if Wine was more polished and complete.
Out of the four people I know who bought netbooks with Linux preinstalled, three of them replaced Linux with a Windows XP install and were much happier.
Posted May 17, 2012 17:46 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784)
Posted May 31, 2012 12:52 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576)
I thought that too at one time, but it simply can't be true.
As you use your computer day-by-day, month-by-month, try to think about all the things you do without thinking. I mean things like subconsciously learning that if you do certain things, something crashes or the computer grinds to a halt.
Or things like upgrading your distribution and needing a simple one-line fix to get something working again. Or getting new hardware and needing to spend even just a few minutes Googling for how to get it to work.
For most of us here these obstacles are insignificant. We don't really even notice that we need to spend five minutes now-and-then fixing things, because it's so easy.
But consider the perspective of someone who actually *can't* do those things. That's not a five-minute interruption in exchange for new cool versions of software; it's a complete inability to do something you used to be able to, in exchange for...nothing.
When was the last time Ubuntu made a new release that didn't require you to a) learn a new way of interacting with your computer, b) fix something that broke, or c) both of the above? I've tried every Ubuntu release, at least very briefly. All of them. And one of those things has happened *every* *single* *time*. It's not only on release upgrades even. My partner uses Ubuntu and has learned not to accept new release upgrades so long as the current release is still supported, because of the inevitable breakage, but periodically a high-priority update comes along and her printer will stop working; fortunately she's usually able to solve it with some Googling, because countless other people had exactly the same problem and managed to figure out the magical incantation to fix it.
Back to those things you learn to subconsciously ignore: try actively looking for minor bugs - the kind of things they're calling 'paper cuts'. When you start paying attention, you start to realise that you encounter *dozens* every day. Around the KDE 4.2 time (IIRC) I actually wrote down a list of all the minor bugs I experienced within the first 5 minutes. It wasn't a small list. I filed bugs for some of them; others had already been reported. In some cases there was some flaming about worrying over small things, but *small things add up*.
Here's an example: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4957647/calendar.png
What's gone wrong with the rendering there? No idea. I'd have to start with a fresh KDE profile, then start bisecting all my configuration changes to find out. And what's the point, when more little problems like that will appear with the next dist-upgrade?
By the way, the red 'fail' icon in that shot is because so far I've only spent about 45 minutes trying to work out how to get wireless networking to work. It only took me a couple of minutes to get wired networking working because I have enough Debian experience to know that I needed to add 'auto eth0 inet dhcp' to /etc/network/interfaces. Good luck figuring that out if you're a new user. Why doesn't wired networking work out-of-the-box on a default install of the last two Ubuntu releases? No idea, but that's exactly the kind of thing I've come to expect (to be fair, in many cases the network connection does work; it just refuses to perform any name resolution - to a non-technnical user that's the same thing).
A solution that's permanently 90% finished is not 90% as good; that last 10% is utterly crucial for a good user experience.
Posted May 31, 2012 18:55 UTC (Thu) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Posted Jun 6, 2012 14:48 UTC (Wed) by nye (guest, #51576)
Posted Jun 6, 2012 15:15 UTC (Wed) by nye (guest, #51576)
The problem is that you are obviously aware that your statement is an attempt to compare entirely unrelated things in entirely unrelated contexts, simply as a means of avoiding making any real point. It is deliberately dismissive and inflammatory, and very blatantly intended as nothing but snide trolling.
The regressions in Windows in successive releases are so trivial in comparison with the regressions in Linux distributions that trying to claim any equivalence displays, at best, a breathtaking level of ignorance. Furthermore, every Windows version is supported for longer than the best support level available in any Linux distribution, while simultaneously making it trivial for any user to use the latest version of any application software they desire.
Nobody would seriously try to claim that 'the latest 64-bit version of Windows no longer runs my 16-bit Windows applications from 1992' is in any way equivalent to 'my networking stops working every six months'.
Pretty much the only legitimately comparable example is that there are a number of printers for which the existing drivers haven't worked in new OS releases - and Ubuntu has that problem periodically in minor (non-release) updates, so doesn't exactly come out ahead.
There are probably some other examples of extremely cheap hardware with drivers that work in one Windows release but not the next, however in the vast majority of cases that hardware either doesn't work in Linux *at all*, or works well enough to satisfy a tick-list but not well enough to actually use (eg a webcam that manages 30fps in Windows, but 2 fps in Linux). I'm aware that in such a case it's the manufacturer of that crappy hardware that's at fault, but then to make a fair comparison you need to acknowledge that in the case of Windows as well.
Statements like yours are a textbook example of why Linux - and Free Software in general - is not taken seriously by normal computer users, since the only thing you are interested in is nursing your damaged pride at all costs. The very idea that a competitor might be better in some way must not be entertained under any circumstances, with the inevitable result that real deficiencies cannot be fixed because they cannot even be acknowledged.
Posted Jun 6, 2012 19:23 UTC (Wed) by hummassa (subscriber, #307)
Ok, slow down. If you have a run-of-the-mill, garden-variety network configuration, it will not stop working every six months (mine worked without modification for the last ten years or so). AND if you have some complicated, exotic configuration with strange and mysterious drivers, then every Windows update or hotpatch is an adventure.
I know that for some video configurations, things were far rougher on Linux than on Windows.
> There are probably some other examples of extremely cheap hardware with drivers that work in one Windows release but not the next, however in the vast majority of cases that hardware either doesn't work in Linux *at all*, or works well enough to satisfy a tick-list but not well enough to actually use (eg a webcam that manages 30fps in Windows, but 2 fps in Linux). I'm aware that in such a case it's the manufacturer of that crappy hardware that's at fault, but then to make a fair comparison you need to acknowledge that in the case of Windows as well.
Actually, I had problems on Linux on the "extremely expensive and especialized hardware" range more often than on the "dollar-store hardware" range.
> Statements like yours are a textbook example of why Linux - and Free Software in general - is not taken seriously by normal computer users, since the only thing you are interested in is nursing your damaged pride at all costs. The very idea that a competitor might be better in some way must not be entertained under any circumstances, with the inevitable result that real deficiencies cannot be fixed because they cannot even be acknowledged.
People acknowledge and fix those problems much more often in the Linux world than in the Windows/OSX worlds. Oh, there are lots of hardware best supported on Windows and OSX. The model where the hardware maker is usually also the driver maker works faster, even if it does not work so well.
Posted Jun 7, 2012 16:34 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576)
The idea of what is 'run-of-the-mill' changes too frequently for my liking - for example, the last three Ubuntu releases have not supported wired networking out of the box (with differing varieties of breakage depending on the release and the machine in question).
I suspect the reason that the default configuration doesn't just attempt to make a DHCP connection has something to do with NetworkManager being expected to bring up the interface, but I've managed to get NM to bring up a wired connection on precisely one occasion - and that broke on the next release upgrade; certainly I've never seen it work automatically.
Unfortunately the only machine I have access to that has a wireless connection has some kind of Broadcom chip that I think needs special firmware that I've not bothered to track down, so I can't speak for how well wireless works on supported hardware. (I do apparently have a 'Broadcom STA propretary wireless driver' installed, but it seems that's not enough.)
Actually, now that I think about it there was an Ubuntu release a while back (it was around the release of KDE4.2, so presumably it was 9.04) which did get the wireless device in this machine to work without any special configuration that I can recall; alas the next release came along and hosed it so thoroughly that I couldn't figure out how to get any networking back *at all*, and eventually resorted to reinstalling from scratch.
In contrast, I have a rather more complex setup on my Debian systems which has worked reliably for many years, but they required a reasonable amount of technical knowledge to configure in the first place. But Debian has its own problems of course; there's no single option that won't periodically come with pain.
Posted Jul 1, 2012 3:38 UTC (Sun) by hummassa (subscriber, #307)
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