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Dell to be what it is because of who we all are
May 1, 2007 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Dell to sell machines with Ubuntu Feisty preinstalled. A major step forward for those who want to see Linux on the desktop. As mentioned on Slashdot and BoingBoing.
posted by tarheelcoxn (101 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
If the title of this thread confuses you, look here.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 2:33 PM on May 1, 2007


A major step forward for those who want to see Linux on the desktop.

Screw Linux... I just don't want to pay for a damn Windows license every time I buy a system.
posted by wfrgms at 2:38 PM on May 1, 2007


Dell has no driver support for soundblaster xfi, and the ATI drivers on its low end gfx cards are really slow compared to windows. I bough a dell because of the discount with the 24 inch LCD. Had to swap out the video card to an nvidia, but the xfi wont run, and its a hassle to enable onboard sound when I do boot into ubuntu, so im using vmware for now.
posted by IronWolve at 2:42 PM on May 1, 2007


Yeah, just get lots of RAM and do the free VM Ware or Virtual PC thing. And don't get emotional about operating systems.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:44 PM on May 1, 2007


Now if somebody would just fix cygwin to work right out of the box.
posted by IronLizard at 2:45 PM on May 1, 2007


Wake me up when Linux is ready for the desktop

/ducks


I've installed and uninstalled a bunch of linuxes (?linuxes, linuxen?) including a recent Ubuntu, and I always find myself bumping up against *something* that completey fucks me up.

Example: lack of integrated color management, lack of Photoshop (don't get me started on Gimp).

That said I'd use it in preference to any flavour of Windows, so one thumb up from me.
posted by unSane at 2:50 PM on May 1, 2007


*(?linuces, linuxen?)
posted by unSane at 2:51 PM on May 1, 2007


Linuctopi
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on May 1, 2007


linuctopi linuctopode
posted by porpoise at 2:54 PM on May 1, 2007


Distribution?
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:56 PM on May 1, 2007


A murder of linuses. A flock of linuctopodes.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:56 PM on May 1, 2007


I guess Linices would be more correct.
posted by porpoise at 2:58 PM on May 1, 2007


This is familiar. Except last time it was RedHat and the year was, well earlier.
posted by Dr. Boom at 2:58 PM on May 1, 2007


Company responds to consumer demand. Whoa.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:59 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know, I never see anyone else making this particular complaint about desktop linux—am I the only one who sees something wrong in the font rendering? I'm not sure whether it's the preinstalled fonts themselves that are to blame or some rendering engine thing, but they've always looked... off. Both in RedHat from years ago and in up-to-date Ubuntu. I'm guessing I'm just getting caught up on something subjective (lack of cleartype-style functionality?) because I've never seen anyone else whinge about this.
posted by Firas at 3:05 PM on May 1, 2007


Ubuntu Feisty

Sounds like an imprisoned political activist.
posted by Peter H at 3:08 PM on May 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Free Ubuntu!
posted by Peter H at 3:08 PM on May 1, 2007


too late.
posted by stenseng at 3:12 PM on May 1, 2007


A boxen of linoctpodes?

Started running Fiesty at home (a desktop and a old ThinkPad). Unfotunately, it's not always true "It Just Works (tm)" but all in all, I've been pretty happy.
posted by Samizdata at 3:15 PM on May 1, 2007


I like saying Ubuntu but I have no idea what it looks like or how it works. Still, good on Dell for spitting out that nasty worn Microsoft teat.
posted by fenriq at 3:16 PM on May 1, 2007


Given the options - Windows XP (old) or Windows Vista (problematic), Linux is in a good position right now.
posted by stbalbach at 3:21 PM on May 1, 2007


Just yesterday I overheard the guidos at the hardware store: "Yo, I installed that linux last week yo."
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:25 PM on May 1, 2007


Ubuntu Feisty

Sounds like an imprisoned political activist.


or an NBA center.
posted by jonmc at 3:27 PM on May 1, 2007


The question is whether Windows costs more than what all the junkware companies pay Dell to get on the default install.
posted by smackfu at 3:27 PM on May 1, 2007


I'm not sure that Linux is really the right OS for the MySpace generation.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:29 PM on May 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's too bad Ubuntu freakin sucks. It doesn't even come with a FUCKING COMPILER. When I found out I had to apt-get gcc, I just wiped it and put a real OS on my machine.

Ubuntu is linux for grandmas.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:31 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Imagine a beowulf cluster of these things.
posted by DU at 3:32 PM on May 1, 2007


This is excellent news if it means more hardware will get vetted as fully Ubuntu-compatible. There's a lot of really excellent Free software that is inaccessible to the 99% of the population who own hardware with poor Linux drivers.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:35 PM on May 1, 2007


I installed Feisty on my new Dell e521 a few weeks ago.

It's absolute heaven. I went through and installed most of the apps listed in Mark Pilgrims post from awhile back. I'm now having more fun running a computer than I ever have.

Though the process hasn't been stress free, for every single problem I've had, ubuntuforums.org or google has had the answer. Also, though I haven't tried it, i've heard that photoshop runs well enough under wine.

And in response to the problem with fonts:
$sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts
posted by futureproof at 3:38 PM on May 1, 2007


Does Dell+Linux cost less than similar Dell+Windows?
By how much?
posted by jouke at 3:43 PM on May 1, 2007


Metafilter: As mentioned on Slashdot and BoingBoing
posted by lenny70 at 3:43 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's one thing I'll give Ubuntu, it has great support in the form of its online community. You can generally find the answer to any problem you've got out there.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:44 PM on May 1, 2007


knoppix : rescue CD,
divx-player-when-recent-windows-install-is-spamming-the-world-and-can-t-stop-pausing-videos, disk partitioning, etc.
posted by acro at 3:45 PM on May 1, 2007


synaesthetichaze, Debian doesn't come with a C compiler "out of the box" either, and it's probably the most "real" Linux out there. Please don't whinge about having to type twelve characters (including the enter key) to get a compiler.
posted by zsazsa at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2007


Or I just got trolled.
posted by zsazsa at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2007


OpenBSD 4.1 was released today.
posted by acro at 3:51 PM on May 1, 2007


I was exaggerating my exasperation with Ubuntu, it's true... I didn't realize it, but that was a troll. I wouldn't mind if it were deleted, actually.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:51 PM on May 1, 2007


I didn't realize it, but that was a troll.

It wasn't a troll.

Oh wait. You were speaking about a linux distro in a derogatory fashion.

TROLL.

remember, on metafilter, no one criticizes apple, linux or radiohead.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:59 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


slashsthetichazedot?
posted by anthill at 3:59 PM on May 1, 2007


... and another thing, that fuckin Radiohead! Oh wai--
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:16 PM on May 1, 2007


Actually, it's a fairly clever move on Dell's part. Think of their target demographic, these are generally not power-users. (and yes, I know they make some high end boxen, but most of their stuff is the $400-$600 at Walmart variety.)

These users aren't going to need to run the high end programs like Photoshop or Vegas or whatever. These are the people whom will say things like "Oh, I just use it for email and writing papers for school..."

Which Ubuntu is perfectly suited to do.

And if not paying for the Windows license drops the price by a couple of bucks, so much the better. On top of that, the odds that the machine will become crippled by spyware are greatly reduced, meaning that from a pure user perspective, the box they bought to send email and write papers, will continue to allow them to do those things for a long time without breaking or slowing down.

I'm not a big fan of Dell, but this is a good move.
posted by quin at 4:17 PM on May 1, 2007


A neckbeard of Linuxes.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:20 PM on May 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


I took a look at Unbuntu's site and it's like, all of their marketing material is totally larded up with this touchy-feely multi-culty kumbaya hippy nonsense it was hard to take seriously. I want my computer to be a tool, not have 'flesh toned graphics' Ugh...
posted by delmoi at 4:24 PM on May 1, 2007


i've been running ubuntu for going on 2 years. i recently upgraded to fiesty. it works. it does everything i need it to do. it's replaced windows completely. (of course, i'm not a gamer, so there *is* that). it has definitely not turned me, or my computer, any more touchy-feely multi-culty kumbaya hippy nonsensical than we have ever been, and unlike windows, you can change the color of any part of ubuntu you want to.
posted by quonsar at 4:33 PM on May 1, 2007


gecko of linuxs
posted by acro at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2007


Delmoi: I was thrown by the kumbaya as well, but I installed it anyway, and am very happy with it (with a few exceptions...looking at you, semi-functional wireless card and utter inability to play sound in YouTube). With a preconfigured system a la Dell, I would imagine those problems would already be solved.
posted by Bugbread at 4:51 PM on May 1, 2007


And, yeah, as quonsar points out, the default color scheme is brown, but you can change that easily, with a lot more options than Windows.
posted by Bugbread at 4:53 PM on May 1, 2007


Hot grits. Pants. &c.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:07 PM on May 1, 2007


My main problem with Ubuntu is that as a longtime BSD and Linux user and administrator, I find that their distribution is nothing but a Debian where the focus is on the bundled art and even more fucking with the packages. I can't fucking stand that shit. They also insist on shoving their neckbearded GNU/Penis down my throat, pedantically refusing to officially support any package they do not distribute in their repositories. They go to the trouble of removing features (like MP3 support) solely to get a chance to shove their ideology down your throat.

The amount of hype they get from the Duggaloes is starting to influence the PHBs. It's annoying as hell.

I use FreeBSD and Gentoo, largely because I don;t want to deal with neckbearded middlemen who insist they know what's best. The majority of packages in both Ports and Portage download the original source tarball and compile it on my machine, using the compile flags that I want. When using Debian, and to a worse extent Ubuntu, I find that the packager has modified all sorts of stuff and built his own personal preferences in. The whole IceWeasel debacle speaks volumes.

Linux is ready for the desktops of my users because I'm there to administrate and maintain everything. I wouldn't put it on my mom's computer. No fucking way. Not with the neckbeards on the prowl.
posted by blasdelf at 5:22 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


you just like saying neckbeards.
posted by quonsar at 5:25 PM on May 1, 2007


blasdelf writes "The majority of packages in both Ports and Portage download the original source tarball and compile it on my machine, using the compile flags that I want.

I wouldn't put it on my mom's computer. No fucking way. Not with the neckbeards on the prowl."


Have you considered that the reason it could go on your mom's computer is because it doesn't require downloading of original source tarballs and compilation on your machine? I think that's part of the "ready for the desktop" definition: neckbeards get involved so that you don't have to be a neckbeard yourself in order to use it.
posted by Bugbread at 5:28 PM on May 1, 2007


Imagine a beowulf cluster of these things.

Hot grits. Pants. &c.

In Soviet Russia Natalie Portman penis birds you.

And .... cut.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:30 PM on May 1, 2007


Metafilter: Neckbearded GNU/Penis down my throat
posted by jonmc at 6:21 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


pedantically refusing to officially support any package they do not distribute in their repositories. They go to the trouble of removing features (like MP3 support) solely to get a chance to shove their ideology down your throat

Well, that and they'd have to pay a license for the codec if they wanted to distribute it internationally. But yeah, rail away, because lord knows it's so fucking difficult to get your machine playing MP3s, WMVs, MOVs, and all those other proprietary multimedia files.

Oh wait, it's not.

Don't get me wrong, I do have more than a few gripes against Ubuntu specifically, and Linux in general.

1. Yeah, you're not running everything as root, so all the important parts of the system are nice and safe. Except when you want to install anything, or change your network configuration, or restart a service, or, well do anything, then it's all sudo this and su that.

2. Driver-fucking-support. Obviously this isn't the fault of the developers, but the mother-raping ass-clowns at ATI (et. al.) who refuse to open up their driver specifications. For example: you like eye candy? Beryl's the shit. Except if you have an ATI card, which forces you to use flgrx instead of aiglx, which is less stable and less integrated with X and just generally sucks more.

3. While apt-get, automatix, and synaptic make things stupid-simple to install, I've found that uninstalling, just like with Windows, is completely fucking brain-humped. The process is simple enough, but just wait until you accidentally have a Really Important ™ package get uninstalled alongside it and you'll know the true meaning of borked.

For example, I recently tried installing a remote desktop server because tunneling X through SSH is molasses-slow. Thinking I was doing the Right Thing, I went with the free (as in freedom) software called FreeNX. I scoured through dozens and dozens of posts on UbuntuForums.org to prepare myself and find out the best way to go about this (cross-referencing replies of "Well, I tried it that way and it fucked up my system. Thanks!"). I finally installed it, and sure enough: fucked.

Great. So then I spent about twenty minutes pouring over forum comments for similar error messages until stumbling on a post from someone who said, in essense, "Yeah, I got it to work just great. First step is don't use FreeNX 'cause it doesn't fucking work." So I remove the packages, and... oops! You weren't actually using that Perl library, were you? Because we removed it for you. Thanks for choosing Ubuntu, ass.

Final solution? Completely re-install. This from an operating system you're supposed to be able to leave on for weeks and months on end without rebooting.

Bottom line: it's getting better, but it's in no way, shape or form ready for "Grandma."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:25 PM on May 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: The whole IceWeasel debacle speaks volumes.
posted by unSane at 6:25 PM on May 1, 2007


Yeah, quonsar, it's such a lovely epithet. neckbeard.

The reason Ubuntu ain't going on my mom's computer is because some neckbeard decided not playing MP3s is a feature. My mom doesn't have time for that shit. It's not that she can't deal with it: she programmed on a PDP-11 when she was in high school, telecommuted to work by vt100 in the early eighties, and founded an independent software company. She's a sharp lady, she just doesn't give a shit about GNU/Freeness, and won't take no gruff from the neckbeard contingent.

As far as I see it, there are only three remotely viable Linux distributions: RHEL/CentOS/Fedora, Debian/Ubuntu, and Gentoo. All the others tend to be fly-by-night one-man derivatives (or corporate knockoffs) of the others that are just different art and different default packages. RHEL is saddled with SELinux crap and corporate malaise, and Debian is held back by their community structure and ideology. Both have fucking terrible package management systems. Gentoo's the only one that I've never found fault with, it just doesn't get in my way.

My mother wouldn't put up with any of them, unless I was living with her and there to maintain it (and be kvetched at when Flash crashes Firefox and kills ALSA once an hour). This summer I'm going to see if she'll put up with a Mac.
posted by blasdelf at 6:31 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Except when you want to install anything, or change your network configuration, or restart a service, or, well do anything, then it's all sudo this and su that.

What's the alternative? Allowing Joe User to change the network configuration? I let my kids use this system....no thanks.

Obviously this isn't the fault of the developers...

Then it doesn't belong on a list of "gripes against Ubuntu specifically, and Linux in general".

As for the third one: I've never had a problem uninstalling from Ubuntu, but I've only been using it for a few months and probably don't have enough experience with it. But why did a missing Perl library require a full re-install?

Also, I've got every repository, including multiverse and proprietary, turned on and I can't find an Ubuntu package with the string "freenx".
posted by DU at 6:32 PM on May 1, 2007


I'm not a Lunix (or Ubuntu) Zealot, at least not anymore, but some of the objections in here are ridiculous.

...not playing MP3s is a feature. My mom doesn't have time for that shit.

It was a bit of a bother when I noticed that, but I can't say that the minor annoyance of spending a couple of minutes solving a single problem caused me to flee to hassle-free Windows.
posted by DU at 6:37 PM on May 1, 2007


Another thing I fucking hate about every Linux distro (but that Gentoo gets just right)? Releases, you don't fucking need them. You're not selling it in a fucking box, you didn't write more than %1 of the code, you don't need to make me install it from a new fucking CD. I have a goddamn internet connection. The Ubuntu people noticed that everybody hates how Debian takes 5 years to release, and instead of getting rid of releases (or at least toning that shit down), they decided to turn it up to 11. I guess it works really well to drive the hype machine.
For example, I recently tried installing a remote desktop server because tunneling X through SSH is molasses-slow.
You want to know why it's so slow? The encryption. Using Blowfish speeds it up a bit, but that's nothing compared to the old days when you could disable post-auth encryption. That's now impossible to do in OpenSSH, because some neckbeard decided that the feature (an optional one that had to be manually enabled on both ends) was evil and should be removed. It makes tunneled X not an option on slow machines, which are precisely the ones you want to use as X -terminals. So instead, I have to use totally insecure remote X with no tunneling.

Christ, what assholes.
posted by blasdelf at 6:45 PM on May 1, 2007


You guys do know that the latest Ubuntu searches for the mp3 codecs automatically when you load up an mp3 file right? Same goes for QuickTime and Windows Media Files. It gives you this neat little dialog that says "Hey, you can't do that, but we could install this codec and then you can". You hit "Yes", it installs and boom, starts playing your file.

It's so freaking easy, now.
posted by jmhodges at 6:52 PM on May 1, 2007


Hah, my soundcard in Ubuntu makes it sound like my speaker cones are hanging by a thread and I think going from Edgy to Feisty is what broke it. Wine is a royal PITA. Installing Edgy, to start with, broke my Vista installation on a separate, untouched partition. I hate the stupid release names, the software needs years to catch up, the default theme makes me think of cannibals, this retarded idea of having fifty flavors of linux installers gives me a headache (alien, anyone?) and... I could go on. This tagline I've created (on search, looks like someone beat me to it) for the great folks at Ubuntu should about sum it up:

Ubuntu: At Least it's Not Vista.

It's fine for basics, once you get it going. I've broken Windows while tinkering too. So, despite these complaints it gets a thumbs up from me. At least they're not charging to give you headaches. Windows makes me pay for the privilege.

On a side note, I'm putting in a new HD, guess what happens to 'my' vista copy if I try to re-install it on the new, faster HD.

(I have an ATI video card, haven't had any problems with that part. Flash 9 works like a charm after converting the package, installing and rebooting. These problems, they're not consistent?)
posted by IronLizard at 6:54 PM on May 1, 2007


remote desktop is quicker than vnc, even vnc compressed. But that has nothing to do with linux, linux has a RDP remote desktop client that works just fine.

Biggest problem with linux is driver support, plugin's for web browsers, codecs. Then maybe bitch that you cant run windows software under it, but in vmware.
posted by IronWolve at 6:55 PM on May 1, 2007


Also, I've got every repository, including multiverse and proprietary, turned on and I can't find an Ubuntu package with the string "freenx"
This too is a feature: That package you want? It's not in our repositories!
Well, that and they'd have to pay a license for the codec if they wanted to distribute it internationally. But yeah, rail away, because lord knows it's so fucking difficult to get your machine playing MP3s, WMVs, MOVs, and all those other proprietary multimedia files.
Of those three, only WMV is actually propreitary (both MP3 and MOV are ratified MPEG standards), and all three are well supported by GPLed software like VLC and Mplayer. Fraunhofer has openly stated that no, they aren't going to go around suing linux distributions. Neither Apple nor MPEG are going to sue anybody either. There is no actual legal problem, or a lot of people would have been sued a long time ago. Some neckbeard spent time removing features on pedantic ideological grounds. That chaps my ass.
posted by blasdelf at 6:57 PM on May 1, 2007


God forbid they not support a package that they don't control. Do you expect Microsoft or Apple to make Photoshop stop crashing when you add that lens flare to your hilarious neckbeard-critiquing webcomic?

Okay, I need to back away from this conversation.
posted by jmhodges at 7:01 PM on May 1, 2007


We built this city on neck beard coooooooode...
posted by anthill at 7:38 PM on May 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Of those three, only WMV is actually propreitary (both MP3 and MOV are ratified MPEG standards), and all three are well supported by GPLed software like VLC and Mplayer. Fraunhofer has openly stated that no, they aren't going to go around suing linux distributions. Neither Apple nor MPEG are going to sue anybody either. There is no actual legal problem, or a lot of people would have been sued a long time ago. Some neckbeard spent time removing features on pedantic ideological grounds. That chaps my ass.

The last time I checked--which was a year or two ago, so this could be out of date--a whole lot of MPlayer's staggeringly awesome multi-codec support was due to using Windows codecs--freely downloadable ones, but proprietary ones nonetheless--under some kind of wrapper code. Which kinda sounds like a big gray area to me, so I can see why Beardy McStallman & co might want to make the decision to install that stuff explicitly the end-user's, not the developers'.
posted by arto at 7:58 PM on May 1, 2007


So... just to put my $0.02 in as well, I love both Vista and Feisty. I run Ubuntu fulltime at work doing web development and couldn't really be happier with it.

We even put out pain in the ass Office Manager on Ubuntu, and she couldn't be happier. When she does have problems, we can easily troubleshoot her machine remotely without having to do anything fancy.

Really, it ain't much to get excited about... and that's kind of remarkable. An operating system SHOULD be boring. Everything that a "normal" user needs is in place now: Firefox, OpenOffice, and a bunch of decent multimedia players.

Obviously, for the more technically inclined, there are going to be things people don't like. I guess. Maybe you really like RPM's, I dunno... but I guess I just really dig the simplicity of the debian model combined with ubuntu's more pragmatic approach.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Vista, either. I run it on my laptop at home, and while I miss some of the more sophisticated network trickery I can do in Linux that I can't do in Windows, I'm totally happy with it. I honestly think Microsoft did a great job through and through... but honestly, had Ubuntu came pre-installed on this laptop with everything 100% working, I'd never bother to switch.
posted by ph00dz at 8:05 PM on May 1, 2007


I've used and liked Linux at times, but at some point I always ran into needing this or that header file or this or that source or this or that package, and then finding out that it isn't available anywhere because it was supposed to be installed with your system. So then, you get to play the 'ol reinstalling everything game, and at that point, I usually just give up and give the partition space back to windows. That being said, the main reason I don't use Linux these days is that I develop stuff for the .Net platform (don't even give me that "but-but-but Mono!" crap) and I game. I'm confident that I could put the time in and get a really nice linux setup going.

I'm a pretty tech savvy person, I don't have a problem running crap from the command line and compiling packages and running a make file here and there, but I don't like to fiddle too much with my computer to get it working. It's a tool, so I want it to be really easy to make it work how I want it to. Windows does this.
posted by !Jim at 8:45 PM on May 1, 2007


and Debian is held back by their community structure and ideology. Both have fucking terrible package management systems. Gentoo's the only one that I've never found fault with, it just doesn't get in my way.

Ok, now I KNOW he's just trolling. Gentoo is fine, if you don't mind spending two hours compiling every time there's a patch released.

Debian's package manager (and thus, Ubuntu's) is the best going in Linux; it's fast, it's very smart, and it's very easy to maintain. Yes, all the packages are modified slightly to put files in the Debian-specific locations, but if you're willing to accept that files might *gasp* be in a different place than what you're used to, it hangs together incredibly well. It's easy to add, remove, and update packages. You can do it from the command line or several different GUI wrapper utilities.

At this point, for most folks, most of the time, Linux is just fine as a desktop. You do have to reprogram yourself some. The less you know about computers, the easier it is. Nearly all of the pain people experience with Linux is trying to make it work like Windows. If you are willing to do things a different way, things mostly just work out of the box. You CAN make it work like Windows, but it takes work. If you're willing to just let it be Linux and use the OS the way it's designed, it's really no harder than any other OS.* Mac OS X is much more elegant, but of course you have to own a Mac to run it.

As phoodz says: it's not that exciting, and that in and of itself is a gigantic big deal. Using Linux in any way at all used to be incredibly painful, pulling-teeth-difficult... now it mostly just works. It mostly doesn't matter what OS you're running, things usually just work. This is Microsoft's most profound fear.

And, even better: if you want to really learn your computer, if you want to understand the OS from the ground up, there's absolutely nothing stopping you. The entire system is open. You can make any change you want; if you want it to say "Joe's Linux!" when it boots up, you can. There is no differentiation between 'users' and 'programmers' in Linux; all the tools used to create the system are right there for you to use if you wish. Admittedly, this is exceedingly complex and difficult, but nobody is using the code to chain you and make you subservient. You can do anything you damn well please with your own hardware.

Compare that with Vista, which is designed around the idea that you are the enemy and must not be allowed to have full access to the machine you paid for.

*ATI graphic cards suck terribly under Linux, and will make your life difficult. Stick with NVidia.
posted by Malor at 8:51 PM on May 1, 2007


Some of us are very particular of our tools, Jim. Fanatical, even.
posted by IronLizard at 8:51 PM on May 1, 2007


Sigh, always one more thought afterward. If you want to play with Linux, VMWare Server is entirely free. It will let you make a virtual machine inside your main one... you allocate some drive space into a disk file, and that becomes an emulated hard disk.

Download an Ubuntu ISO file. Don't burn it to disk, you don't need to. Start up VMWare Server, and create a new virtual machine. Before you press 'go', edit the settings, and tell it to use the ISO file you downloaded as the CD-ROM drive. It will boot directly off the image and will go through the install just like it was a new computer installing from a real CD. And as far as it can tell, it is. :)

Once it's up, go through the 'install VMWare Tools' process in the guest OS. That will let you move your mouse freely between windows and will unify the two clipboards, so you can cut and paste between OSes.
posted by Malor at 8:58 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


*ATI graphic cards suck terribly under Linux,
Why, what do they do? I have a cheapie onboard type and it seems to work ok at 1600x1280. Seriously, am I missing something?

posted by IronLizard at 8:58 PM on May 1, 2007


Just how much memory do you need to do that, malor? It sounds freakishly RAM intensive.
posted by IronLizard at 9:00 PM on May 1, 2007


ATI cards suck because unless you have a very old one, the free drivers can't do 3D with it. If you have anything past, um, 9100, I think?... you have to use ATI's binary drivers if you want 3D, and they're horrible, crashy and broken.

As far as RAM goes: you need enough for both OSes. 1 gig is usually enough: you can do a 512/512 split and get reasonable performance in both. 2 gigs is better, because then you can assign 1 gig to each, or 1.25/.75, or whatever seems to work best for you.

You can change the amount of RAM allocated to a virtual machine, but only when it's powered off.... once you've given it, say, 512megs, it'll be at 512 until you shut it down.
posted by Malor at 9:12 PM on May 1, 2007


When I found out I had to apt-get gcc, I just wiped it and put a real OS on my machine.

Lucky you, you missed the part where you not only have to install gcc but a half-dozen other packages of crap like glibc headers in order to be able to build anything with more than three lines of code.

That sucks. But I can live with it.

But I've got to tell you, when I typed man select and got a man page for the goddamned SQL keyword — well, best not to elaborate; I'm not too clear on the statute of limitations here.

Then there's this kind of thing:
The Gibbon won the G-race to be our engineering mascot for this next release, but it was a close run. We very much wanted to honour the tremendous contributions of the GNU project to Free Software by awarding the role to the Glossy Gnu. This prompted an intense internal debate about trademarks, at which both the Fiery Fox and the Icy Weasel were heard. In the end, however, the judge, jury and elocutionary (that would be me) took a liking to the Gibbon's extraordinary reach, and the Gibbon won outright.
It's a wonder the man can sleep at night, what with the screams of all those tortured puns ringing in his ears.

And the fonts. Sweet merciful lord, the fucking fonts. I foolishly installed a 'recommended' font package when installing Dia; and voila! my window manager can no longer render fonts! At all! Of course, removing the package didn't put things back the way they'd been. The lovely bitmapped Helvetica is no more, replaced by some scaled-bitmap perversion.

They all suck, of course. There's no software hate like the pure burning rage when, on Fedora, you go to update, say, ncurses, or fucking yacc, and yum spits out twenty screensful of alleged dependencies ending with OpenOffice, and when you say yes, yum, go ahead, have your way with my entire system, whatever makes you happy, I just want my goddamned program to run, because your spirit has been so thoroughly broken by all those years under the Red Hat bootheel — then, then the fucker curls up and dies.

One of these days I'll muster the energy to switch to Gentoo, or Arch, or FreeBSD — not because they won't suck, because, of course, they will, but to experience a little variation in the unending stream of OS pain, a little novelty.

You didn't just seriously propose SuSE as a less painful alternative, did you? A fucking init script which has to be activated to have /etc/sysctl.conf loaded? Please.

What I'm complaining about, of course, is that Linuxes are not Linuxy enough these days — they do too much, and too often feel too much like Windows or Mac OS, with all sorts of hidden voodoo being performed behind the scenes. Not that I want to be recompiling kernels left and right, or editing fontpaths by hand all the time, or, God help us, writing bloody modelines and trying to at refresh rates, either. Which is to say: how dare these Linux distro developers optimize their distributions for anything other than precisely my level of expertise? Just who do they think they are? And who are these damned kids, and why are they on my lawn?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:45 PM on May 1, 2007


Then it doesn't belong on a list of "gripes against Ubuntu specifically, and Linux in general".

Ok, fair enough, I'm going to make a substitution. I'd like to substitute "incomplete driver support" with "incomplete software support," with a couple of hair pulling examples.

Example number 1: FTP. I want a fucking graphical FTP program that doesn't suck ass. It would be nice if it were simply written in GTK2 or less, and didn't have a zillion bajillion dependencies. First person who says gFTP gets a metaphorical punch to the nose.

What really pisses me off about it is that FTP is about as old as dirt in terms of software. You'd think that maybe someone could have spent a summer coding up a graphical version (that wasn't complete suck, like gFTP). But no. We've got gFTP, or you can install KDE or Gnome and an extra twenty megs of libraries just to move your files around. Fucking ludicrous. Or, you can download this brand-spankin'-new Beta of Filezilla that will randomly crash on your sorry ass. Or better yet! You can install this great Firefox extension! (no, seriously, it rules dude!). Except if you want to use custom commands. What's that? Your xbox doesn't list its files when you FTP to it? Ah, how about not adding LS parameters (ls -al). Oh, can't do that in FireFTP. So sorry. You fail. For Windows, naturally, I can find about a dozen perfectly decent FTP clients without batting an eyelash.

Or how about Bittorrent? There's Azureus, which is a wonderful, awesome, fantastic program. But it's slow, big, and requires Java to run. Where is the uTorrent-like or BitComet-like reduced-down, tiny memory footprint Bittorrent client? Ready for the answer? WINE+uTorrent. HAHAHA. That's the fucking answer. Use a freakin' Windows program. Great.

In-fucking-furiating.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:56 PM on May 1, 2007


IshmaelGraves, you summed up my feelings exactly! All these new 'user-friendly' Linux distros are outright admin-hostile.

I've been reading this thread in a Linux install I use at work where I boot from a kernel off an isolinux CD, which then mounts it's root filesystem read-only over NFS, mounts a tmpfs and unions that with the read-only, and then does pivot-root before starting init. Home directories and mass file storage are mounted read-write, and I can do whatever I want and have it go away when I reboot. To install stuff I chroot on the NFS server. All the fun of netbooting without all the pain of PXE. I use it to throw spontaneous LAN parties in my computer labs. It was pretty easy to set up with Gentoo, but if I had to do it with Ubuntu I'd shoot myself. Too much totally undocumented, modification-hostile crap.

Debian's package manager (and thus, Ubuntu's) is the best going in Linux; it's fast, it's very smart, and it's very easy to maintain. Yes, all the packages are modified slightly to put files in the Debian-specific locations, but if you're willing to accept that files might *gasp* be in a different place than what you're used to, it hangs together incredibly well.
What the fuck are you talking about? There's tons of circular dependencies, and most of the packages have been modified from the defaults that the authors shipped them with (changed default prefs, build options, features removed, etc.). APT itself has plenty of serious issues -- you can't run more than one process that installs packages at a time, period. That is fucking stupid poop.
posted by blasdelf at 10:11 PM on May 1, 2007


Civil_Disobedient:

The graphical bittorrent client you're looking for is Transmission. It's pretty damn good. I personally use rtorrent in screen on several of my servers, but an ncurses client is probably not what you want.

I don't know what to tell you on the graphical FTP front. Anybody with the wherewithal to code a sleek slimmed-down FTP client just uses the command line for it anyway. I personally just use scp for everything (I don't even bother with sftp, my roomate was baffled that I could just remember all the paths instead of ls-ing).
posted by blasdelf at 10:19 PM on May 1, 2007


thanks for reminding me, I was set to go install -unix but, that wine+utorrent hack... that was funny - sad?
posted by acro at 10:24 PM on May 1, 2007


Wow, blasdelf has really gone apeshit.

I love Gentoo, too, but it has one fatal flaw: It is useless for real work. It's great fun to play with, though. It can teach you a lot, unless you already knew all that from compiling everything manually for ten years before Gentoo popped into being. It's a wonderful concept, but the execution is, in a word, ass.

And the ebuilds are usually so effed up, even when they're not masked, that they won't compile and I end up spending hours trying to get it to work, which I inevitably do, but only by resorting to wizardry that no person should be forced to endure.

Any of RHEL, CentOS, or Debian allow me to get said real work done quickly and easily.

Some people need to accept that different distributions exist to serve different target markets. Debian, at least, values stability over all else. They don't go around changing shit on you in a way that will break existing systems unless the admin spends a few hours reconfiguring and recompiling.
posted by wierdo at 10:34 PM on May 1, 2007


I use it to throw spontaneous LAN parties in my computer labs.

You're an animal.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:40 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is everyone missing the point here? The people that are going to be buying basic Dells running Ubuntu are not going to be running Wine, or stressing about FTP, or differentiating between ATI and Nvidia, or god forbid, worrying about recompiling kernels.

Yes, I know that we all have our favorite flavors, and we all have our own personal needs in an OS. But seriously, consider for a moment the non-Mefi user that is only going to be using the computer for browsing the web and sending email, or maybe creating the odd spreadsheet...

The thing is, while Ubuntu is by no means perfect, it's competing with Vista which has demonstrable flaws. And requires a machine far greater that most people need to do the basic mechanics of going online and talking with your friends.

Yes, Linux has many serious failings (Wifi card, and web-cam drivers to name the obvious ones...) but for the majority of people that will buy this system, it will do exactly what they need it to do.

And there is nothing wrong with that.
posted by quin at 10:51 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


P.S. I like Ubuntu and use it on almost everything but headless servers (Debian stagnant works fine there), but the thing I hate about it is that dist-upgrades not only update the kernel without asking, but mess up grub as well. Damn it, if I build a custom kernel it's because I needed to, not because I'm a nerd who has time do do shit like that for fun. Don't mess with it until I tell you to.

And what quin said. The great news is that Dell will do what they have to do to make the drivers work properly and stably with all their hardware; and that benefits everybody, including people using other distros on other hardware, when it has the same chips.. I think it may be no exaggeration to call this a watershed moment. Assuming it happens.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:53 PM on May 1, 2007


No matter what distribution you use, you will benefit from this, because Dell will (hopefully) make ever-damn-sure that everything they use works in Linux flawlessly. It almost makes me want to buy a Dell laptop just out of whatever the opposite of spite is. Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if they add tons of crapware like they do with Windows.

Damn, it's like we're drowning in urine, with all the pissy people.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:32 PM on May 1, 2007


George, if you're using a custom kernel, you can just remove the Debian ones. If you want to keep them as a fallback, then you can keep them from being upgraded this way:

dpkg --get-selections >somefilename

Then edit somefilename and look for your Linux kernel packages; they will be listed with an 'install' on the right. Change 'install' to 'hold' on all the packages you don't want modified. Then:

cat somefilename | dpkg --set-selections

That will freeze those packages in place so that they're not updated. If you tell it to 'install' a later version of the same package, it will start updating again, so you'll have to redo the hold trick.

There's probably a graphical way to do this too, but I've always done it at the command line. Just takes a few seconds once you know how.

In your specific case, I'd probably generate the initial list this way:

dpkg --get-selections | grep -i linux >somefilename

You don't have to list every package with install and hold... three or four lines with just the packages you care about is fine. It just won't change the status of the others.

If you use this trick to transfer the installed software configuration from one machine to another, after you do the cat into --set-selections, do:

apt-get dselect-upgrade

For whatever reason, dpkg uses the old dselect mechanism to mark packages, and that's how you get apt to pay attention to what you set with dpkg. I don't entirely understand why it's set up that way, but it does work.
posted by Malor at 11:38 PM on May 1, 2007


Another note: you can do this with one package at a time, if you know the exact package name:

echo "linux-image-2.6-686 hold" | dpkg --set-selections

will also work. Note that you'll probably need to hold the generic container package (as above), the specific kernel image you're using, the generic kernel-headers, and the specfic kernel-header package.

It's often easier to dump to a text file, edit, and reload, but you can do it this way as well.
posted by Malor at 11:42 PM on May 1, 2007


I'd never have considered a Dell for myself and I've had bad experiences with Optiplex workstations in the past, but I have to admit, my company-issued Dell Inspiron notebook is the shiznit. It's easily the most reliable and faultless computer I've ever used. A year and a half of major abuse and nothing ever goes wrong. I suspend it on one network and resume it on another, and everything just clicks, twice a day, day in and day out; all while a metric assload of applications are running. I go months without a reboot. And this is frickin' XP we're talking about. Damn nice machine.

Malor, thanks for all that. It never occurred to me to just deinstall the default kernel package... *whacks forehead*
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:46 PM on May 1, 2007


(And it would help if I at least got the model right -- it's a Latitude, not an Inspiron.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:48 PM on May 1, 2007


Lucky you, you missed the part where you not only have to install gcc but a half-dozen other packages of crap like glibc headers in order to be able to build anything with more than three lines of code.

Just install "build-essential" using apt or synaptic. It includes all the stuff you need. Frankly if you need to compile stuff on Ubuntu you're smart enough to install a compiler and some libs. Leaving stuff like this out is what makes it fit on one CD.

Someone grumbled about fonts: Certainly it might be that you don't like the fonts Ubuntu has, copy the ones you like from your current OS and change your theme to use them. The package mstcorefonts includes some of the classic MS ones.

The other thing it might be is that Apple has patents covering a bunch of font rendering stuff, and Linux isn't allowed to use them (for example Linux isn't allowed to use the hinting information that is stored in the font file for truetype fonts). You can get versions of the font rendering library that ignore this and do it anyway.

Not sure what the point of shitting all over this thread because you prefer another distro is. But have fun with that.
posted by markr at 1:59 AM on May 2, 2007


Where is the uTorrent-like or BitComet-like reduced-down, tiny memory footprint Bittorrent client?

Running on Ubuntu machine, that's where. Seriously, you can't have looked for more than 10 seconds since that's how long it took Synaptic Package Manager to find mine.

I don't know about the graphical FTP. I usually do a simple transfer of one or many files in a single direction. Not much GUI needed there. If you are doing something else (I'm having a hard time imagining what would require a GUI, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt) you can look here.
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on May 2, 2007


Graphical FTP -- the best answer is probably FileZilla. I think it's in one of the Ubuntu repositories now, although installing it is trivial. Works pretty much the same as the windows version...

'Course, real men just use sshfs and mount their remote stuff right onto the file system.
posted by ph00dz at 6:30 AM on May 2, 2007


you cant run windows software under it, but in vmware.

VirtualBox kicks the crap out of vmware. VirtualBox got it right.
posted by quonsar at 10:40 AM on May 2, 2007


Lucky you, you missed the part where you not only have to install gcc but a half-dozen other packages of crap like glibc headers in order to be able to build anything with more than three lines of code.

$ apt-get build-essential

man, that was excruciating!
posted by quonsar at 11:02 AM on May 2, 2007


Or how about Bittorrent? There's Azureus, which is a wonderful, awesome, fantastic program. But it's slow, big, and requires Java to run. Where is the uTorrent-like or BitComet-like reduced-down, tiny memory footprint Bittorrent client? Ready for the answer? WINE+uTorrent. HAHAHA.

golly. some of you guys are real bozos.

i use bittornado, actually, btlaunchmanycurses in one of my virtual terminals. it sits there monitoring the specified directory and when a .torrent file appears it downloads. when the file is 100% acquired, it seeds. when the .torrent file leaves the dir, it stops. its that simple. controlled from my x session by moving .torrents into and out of the directory. no memory hogging gui client.
posted by quonsar at 11:10 AM on May 2, 2007


Certainly it might be that you don't like the fonts Ubuntu has, copy the ones you like from your current OS and change your theme to use them.

This certainly wasn't that easy in Edgy. Maybe they've changed things in feisty, but you need to actually install the fonts through some convoluted procedure.
posted by IronLizard at 11:16 AM on May 2, 2007


I was running Edgy on my work system for about 6 months, then told it to do the Feisty beta upgrade - took a few hours for it to download and upgrade everything, but no need for a CD, etc. to get it working. Pretty painless. I don't know if it could replace my home Windows setup (XP is stable at this point, and I won't do anything with it until it no longer works - too much games / software that I use to regularly to change OS) but it sure as hell worked fine for me while teaching over the last two semesters.

My only major gripe: I like Winamp. I couldn't find a media player that worked the same way, although I came close - the beep media player was almost right, even using my old Winamp 2.x skins; I think there was some issue with it not being able to bookmark some online playlists. Other than that, stuff was fine. Yes, I'd take Photoshop over Gimp any day of the week - the godawful window handling in Gimp pisses me off, there's no reason every tiny toolbar needs to be its own window! but then again I was trained on Windows, so that behavior is unexpected.

I'd feed Ubuntu to my dad's computer, or my sister's, or a friend's system. It works well enough that most of the folks I know could do their daily work without hassle. The issues with the graphics styling aren't trivial though. For many people, an OS needs to "feel" friendly for it to be comfortable. Ubuntu does that fairly well. Much friendlier look than Win2000, a little less cartoonish than the default XP look, not quite as Web 2.0-ish as OSX, but for most people it's a good balance. I'm guessing that in some way many long-time Linux users don't like the default Ubuntu look because (consciously or otherwise) they want people to know they're using Linux, and the happy graphics don't seem Uber-geek enough for them to feel hard-core. On the other hand, it has been a hell of a lot easier to maintain than my old Slackware box, and the upgrades from 9 to 10 to 11 have been a pain on that system - with Ubuntu it was essentially a no-brainer.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:36 PM on May 2, 2007


xmms is the closest thing to winamp 2. I seem to remember hearing it isn't in the repos anymore.

torrent clients: I use Azureus, but then I think utorrent in windows is rubbish. ktorrent is lean if you're one of the people that complain about Azureus.

Installing fonts -
Just for your user: copy them in to ~/.fonts and log out and back on. (Or you can run "fc-cache -fv ~/.fonts" instead of logging out).

For everyone: copy them to /usr/share/fonts/truetype/myfonts and run "fc-cache -fv"
posted by markr at 1:55 PM on May 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think I tried that. Or something like it, but I'm going to try it again tomorrow.
posted by IronLizard at 2:20 PM on May 2, 2007


Running on Ubuntu machine, that's where. Seriously, you can't have looked for more than 10 seconds since that's how long it took Synaptic Package Manager to find mine.

What does that even mean? Ubuntu machine? Am I supposed to go over to your house to use BT?

There are plenty of torrent clients out there for linux. And they all suck in one way or another. No DHT. No selective file downloading. Tons of dependencies. Crashy.

I'm typing this on Ubuntu machine right now, so please understand this isn't simple Windows fanb0yism. I'm willing to try just about anything to get something to work. Hell, I had to recompile Java yesterday in order to get Beryl working nicely with my IDE (Beryl + Swing app = Grayed-out windows). Gentoo folks will probably just roll their eyes, but that was a fucking bitch and a half.

Thing is, I never should have had to do that. The problem is people are releasing stuff that isn't properly tested. This is what you get when you remove the profit motive. It takes no time at all to write a half-ass program. The hard part is the last 10%, working out the little kinks, making sure the user interface is intuitive, getting feedback and being receptive to it. The open-source attitude is, "If you don't like it, why don't you write your own app?". And it sucks. And it shows.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:17 PM on May 2, 2007


Installed buntu today, twice. Screwed up getting the ndiswrappers working for wireless... fresh start and all. Broadcom remains the weakest point in my unixian experiences, but smooth, and the above recommended fonts are great. Ktorrent. etc.
posted by acro at 6:28 PM on May 2, 2007


i use bittornado, actually, btlaunchmanycurses in one of my virtual terminals. it sits there monitoring the specified directory and when a .torrent file appears it downloads. when the file is 100% acquired, it seeds. when the .torrent file leaves the dir, it stops. its that simple. controlled from my x session by moving .torrents into and out of the directory. no memory hogging gui client.
quonsar, check out rtorrent. I use it exactly as you describe, except with features! You can actually interact with it to set bandwidth chokes, pick and choose files, pause torrents, re-announce, etc. It's also even faster!
posted by blasdelf at 1:40 AM on May 3, 2007


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