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Linux Mint goes to 11

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted May 26, 2011 8:43 UTC (Thu) by elanthis (guest, #6227)
Parent article: Linux Mint goes to 11

So there's also the option of using GNOME 3.0 without the shell. I'm doing that right now, in fact, on Fedora 15. (Sadly gnome-panel has a crazy dependency on gnome-shell so I can't just uninstall the damned thing, but I can just force "fallback" mode and carry on.)

You have to change the defaults to make it bearable, and you'd have to recreate a lot of the tools that the GNOME folks gutted because McCann and Clinton didn't decide to include modern desktop behavior, consistency, expected interactions, or critical user preferences to work around disability (automagic corner hotspots == vile and unusable), but it's probably less work and less jarring to users to do those than to replace the whole desktop.

Hell, maybe with some Mint-inspired dedication to the "classic" components in GNOME 3.0, they might even live on without being entirely ripped apart by the undefinable "GNOME 3 Vision" in the upcoming releases. (McCann and Clinton like to claim those components are "critical components of the GNOME 3 story," but what they really mean is, "our whole team was a bunch of dumbasses who rewrote tons of working code on top of an OpenGL-dependent framework targeted towards an OS reknowned for broken, slow, or outright missing GPU drivers, and our predictions of it all being fixed by GNOME 3's release proved to be total bullcrap, so now we need to half-ass support this old code so we don't immediately lose 70% of our userbase".)

(Yes, I'm being bitter, but when you get told by the designers that you're an idiot who doesn't understand the "Vision" when you bring up polite, well-argued points about literally measurable and quantifiable design problems, you kind of stop caring about being nice to the asshats.)

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Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted May 26, 2011 10:36 UTC (Thu) by hadess (guest, #24252) [Link]

How goes EXDE then?


PS: Not sure why you'd blame a marketing guy for designing GNOME 3...

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted May 26, 2011 15:50 UTC (Thu) by walters (subscriber, #7396) [Link]

Hi Sean,

I'm glad you're excited about fallback mode. I'd be nice if you could work upstream instead of posting to LWN comments though. You obviously have a lot of energy and some coding ability. The future of fallback mode is somewhat up in the air, especially if - as seems likely - in the next 6 month cycle Mesa improvements allow us to run full GNOME 3 perhaps with nontrivial but also not insurmountable experience degredation. That gives multiple interested parties an opportunity to step in and own the fallback code there.

However, we'd clearly like fallback to continue tracking GNOME 3 as a reference point, so that constraint would exist. Thanks!

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted Jun 3, 2011 12:37 UTC (Fri) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

Do you _really_ want me involved? Think about it. I'm frequently vitriolic towards just about everything Linux/FOSS-related these days, have long lost any semblance of patience for what I identify as stupid or incompetent developers, I hate trying to communicate and collaborate over the Internet, and there's little chance of me ever respecting several of the key GNOME community members. I'm pretty much the social opposite of the ideal FOSS project contributor.

So far as my posts on GNOME 3 and the "energy" involved, tpo is right that I've been incredibly nasty about it all, and most of that energy has been quite negative. I've been a die-hard Linux/GNOME user since before GNOME 1.0, and went almost 10 years without even owning or using a copy of Windows, but those days are behind me and I need to stop being incensed over GNOME not being Windows 7 and just accept that I'm no longer a "real" Linux desktop user.

Sorry for being a jerk. I'm going to refrain from commenting on GNOME from now on.

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted May 27, 2011 6:27 UTC (Fri) by tpo (subscriber, #25713) [Link]

It's a pitty you keep on to your commenting style of using foul language and name calling. Being LWN I'd give you a last warning and revoke your right to post at your next such comment.

It is well possible to express ones analysis and - strong - opinion without resorting to such language, as LWN culture has consistently shown.

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted Jun 6, 2011 16:41 UTC (Mon) by Cato (subscriber, #7643) [Link]

I agree completely about the move to making GNOME (and Unity) GPU dependent, and switching to KMS, before the Linux graphics drivers really work well. There's a Linux PC that I misguidedly upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS last month, and it's freezing several times a day, most likely due to the Intel on-board graphics driver. The user of this PC is mystified as to why it freezes all the time - actually much worse than Windows XP - and I have to make a special trip just to fix it.

Linux Mint (with KMS turned off) is looking a lot more attractive than Ubuntu for a stable desktop Linux these days.

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted Jun 6, 2011 18:10 UTC (Mon) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

try a more recent version, 10.04 was a particularly bad version in terms of Intel video drivers.

It's possible that an update could fix it, but if you have applied all the 10.04 updates and still have a problem, move to a newer version.

not all fixes can be backported, and you are now complaining about a version that's over a year old.

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted Jun 7, 2011 6:12 UTC (Tue) by Cato (subscriber, #7643) [Link]

I will probably try a later release, or Linux Mint. However, an LTS is supposed to "just work" for its lifetime, so the fact that the 10.04 Intel drivers are broken and apparently unfixable without a new Ubuntu release seems to indicate that 10.04 should never have been released as an LTS.

That's one of the big problems with a time-based release strategy for an LTS - good for marketing and potentially bad for stability. In fact I'm not a fan of time-based releases for software that's hard to debug - "release when ready" with thorough automated regression testing is more likely to give good results.

Is anyone working on a distributed automated test suite for Linux distros, a bit like CPAN Testers - - or this IBM effort from 2005: ?

My feeling is that the testing model for Linux is really quite ad hoc with little automation and fairly random coverage, so that major regressions are introduced (Intel graphics worked fine in Ubuntu 8.04 and earlier) and they are only found when distros at beta or release stages, and often not fixed.

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted Jun 7, 2011 18:14 UTC (Tue) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

you are correct in your understanding that there is no comprehensive coverage testing of hardware for any release (be it of the kernel or of any distro)

but if you think about it for a little bit you will see why this is not the case.

how much would it cost to buy one of every model machine that is produced this year? and then think about having to try and go back to machines produced in the past. Then think about trying to house and power all these machines.

and you really would have to have one of every machine due to the various oddball bugs in BIOS/firmware/etc that show up.

Microsoft doesn't have this problem because it is the hardware manufacturer's responsibility to be windows compatible, not Microsoft's responsibility to work with random hardware.

Unfortunantly Linux is not in such a dominant position, so Linux has to work around the bugs, but bugs are only found when they are tested on specific hardware.

the people who released the Intel drivers that are in the kernel used in 10.04 thought they had everything working (and I'm sure they tested it on a bunch of real hardware), but when it got out into the wild, it was discovered that a lot of hardware didn't quite work the way that Intel expected it to once it was wired into motherboards and various customized BIOS' were running it.

As for the problem of 'fixing' 10.04 without upgrading, this gets to the age-old problem of trying to backport only the 'right' things. the number of changes in each kernel release are massive (approaching 10,000 changes per release), deciding which changes need to be backported is an inexact science, and frequently the changes involved for major work end up being so large that it can cause more stability problems than it solves.

you could try running a newer kernel on your 10.04 box to see if that solves your problem, but for something as fundamental as this, I expect that it will take a new kernel to fix it (not just an updated version of the old kernel with backported fixes). Ubuntu may release an optional kernel upgrade for 10.04, but one of the "advantages" of a LTS/Enterprise release is that people don't want the kernel to change.

you can't have it both ways, you need to decide between 'no changes' and 'bugs get fixed'

Linux Mint goes to 11

Posted Jun 8, 2011 11:18 UTC (Wed) by Cato (subscriber, #7643) [Link]

I'm thinking about distributed user-based testing (like CPAN Testers), not a big investment centrally which I agree would never work for a FOSS distro. Ubuntu has many millions of users, all with different hardware - what's missing is an easy, automated way to systematically test and gather good quality test result data.

Imagine if you could install a nightly alpha version of Ubuntu as dual-boot, using a separate test filesystem, purely to participate in a wide-scale automated test. Some tests would require human inspection (video / sound problems) but it should be possible to determine whether the system froze or crashed (after a reboot involving the user perhaps).

The ideal is to make it as easy as running SETI@Home - tell the system to reboot into the automated nightly testing setup when you are finished for the day, then it does 99% of the work of testing.

This is more difficult than CPAN Testers, since hardware is involved, but finding installation errors is useful, and even statistical info such as "80% of XYZ Intel GPU model are failing" would be of some use, particularly if logs are automatically uploaded.

On the issue of updating 10.04 without a kernel version change - without KMS, the kernel wouldn't be involved. My problem with KMS is that it ties the flaky support of graphics drivers right into the kernel, and in some cases stops boot (Plymouth etc) or causes freezes. Without KMS, an Xorg+driver update would be enough, which is logistically easier.

I know that KMS is good for the future with GPUs that don't support 2D, but for today's GPUs and particularly Intel, it's a major pain - it should not have been allowed anywhere near an LTS, or perhaps the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS should have been delayed by a year to let the drivers stabilise.

KMS has to happen sometime but it has greatly reduced the actual stability of Linux for some people - in fact Linux is generally much less stable on the desktop than when I first started using it in 1996, perhaps because it has much wider hardware support, or perhaps because it is evolving much faster. On the server, Linux is fine and very stable of course.

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