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The future of Ubuntu Art
April 28, 2008 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Ubuntu 8.04's Hardy Heron has recently perched on millions of desktops worldwide, but what does the future look like for the darling of the open source world? Now entering a new 2-year art developent cycle, Ubuntu's continuing quest for "pure, unadulterated, raw, visceral, lustful, shallow, skin deep beauty" has begun again in earnest. Bleeding edge desktop effects [youtube, music] are already creeping into the official distribution and the community is eagerly awaiting the new graphical look, promised as a ground-up re-imagination in the next release, Intrepid Ibex. Watch this space.
posted by cowbellemoo (86 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Finally I'll have the ability to watch video on a 3d cube while my desktop is on fire.

Seriously though, nice work. Some stuff stolen from current OS X/Vista builds, some stuff that I hadn't seen before.
posted by gwint at 9:57 AM on April 28, 2008


See also: BumpTop 3d (Windows)
posted by gwint at 10:02 AM on April 28, 2008


That youtube video looks great.
posted by dobie at 10:04 AM on April 28, 2008


If anyone wants to steer me to a large version of this wallpaper (ideally without "ubuntu" squatting in the middle), I would be grateful for the steerage.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:04 AM on April 28, 2008


My loathing for Ubuntu's cutesy product names and Shuttleworth's concomitant punning emails is matched only by my loathing for its indefatigable efforts toward the MySpaceification of the desktop interface.
posted by enn at 10:04 AM on April 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Why does everyone want their desktop to look like an animated heavy metal album cover?
posted by rhymer at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


I can't wait for the next next release, Jizzing Jayhawk.
posted by sciurus at 10:08 AM on April 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Still nothing as flashy/useless as the Vista 3D windows stack.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2008


While I admire the eye candy, it reinforces my regret that the free software development model seems incapable of doing user-centered design.

a) Programmers' prime motivation for contributing is to scratch their own itches; b) usability testers can't program c) programmers don't have to listen to anyone telling them what to do = lots of neat stuff, crap usability.

For example, Compiz's dodge on focus effect adds a lot of very salient, very distracting motion to a fairly frequent navigation task. I have a strong hunch that it doesn't contribute anything to maintaining visual momentum.
posted by anthill at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Enn, the computer industry has a long tradition of cutesy/dumb names for things. It's not like that started with Ubuntu. And um, there's a certain other operating system company that gives all of its releases cat names.
posted by octothorpe at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I should add, however, that Hardy Heron seems to work very well indeed even if, like me, you have no wish to pimp your desktop like a rapper's ride.
posted by rhymer at 10:12 AM on April 28, 2008


Looks a particularly ugly variant of Vista. The OS as video game. It's odd that Linux feels the need to play keep up with the Jones' when they very specifically are trying to be the alternative to the Jones'.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:14 AM on April 28, 2008


microsoft would be SICK if they looked at that video. brilliant. thanks.

flip 3D?!! are you kidding me?!!?! a pretty alt-tab is all you're offering for years of work?!
posted by galactain at 10:15 AM on April 28, 2008


Meanwhile, guy runs usability tests on Hardy Heron with non-geek girlfriend, it doesn't go so well (though apparently he still has a girlfriend).
posted by dw at 10:15 AM on April 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


Wolfdog: Here's your wallpaper.
posted by sciurus at 10:16 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


I see the compiz stuff as a nice technology demonstration but I turn it off as soon as I need to get some work done. The same way that I turn off all the Windows XP stuff to make it look like '95.
posted by octothorpe at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2008


It’s actually surprising how little of the Vista stuff I’ve turned off on my Vista box, compared with XP, which I couldn’t get out of teletubbies mode fast enough. The flashy elements of it are fairly nonintrusive, unlike the shuffly thing.
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2008


dw: gosh, the guy running linux wears a kilt. What a surprise.
posted by boo_radley at 10:28 AM on April 28, 2008


Upgrading to Heron broke my Slimserver and I'm pretty pissed off about that. I want my money back.
posted by bondcliff at 10:30 AM on April 28, 2008


I thought it was a joke about the desktop being on fire while watching 3d cube videos... That guy gets bonus points for the blackened out baby eyes. Now instead of a trash bin we need one of those pin-up lighters that sets anything you put over it on fire..
posted by romanb at 10:31 AM on April 28, 2008


Upgrading to Heron didn't negatively affect my server at all. The two conf files that I decided to overwrite got edited by me in the background while it installed other stuff, which means that except for the reboot I didn't lose network connectivity (server acts as a router / print server / file storage for my MBP at work). So, I say money well spent.

As for the art refresh - well, I run the thing headless, so no real change there, although I do like the heron artwork. The Compiz stuff? All I can say is, wow. The idea that people can develop that sort of thing, make it work, and then give it away for free... they've definitely upped the bar there. If they would only throw the same effort into the usability factor... I'd love to see it score 100/100 on the Girlfriend Test.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:42 AM on April 28, 2008


Ten years ago it was burning spinning GIF animations, and now we have YouTube serving up H.264 streams.

Today it's a spinning, burning Desktop Cube, but I'm not excited about these new flashy things for what they are NOW, but for the possibilities of what some bright young programmer or UI engineer may make of it a few releases down the road.

It seems a lot of the griping about "myspaceification" and "the OS as a video game" just sounds like the people I remember asking what was so great about some lame windowed environment when all they ever needed to get things done was the command line.
posted by chimaera at 10:43 AM on April 28, 2008


I would love to give this a whirl, but from what I remember from my brief previous foray into Linux (Mandrake) was that installing programs was a pain in the butt.
When they get the one click, executable thing down, let me know.
It would give me a great excuse to buy an ASUS eee PC.
posted by willmize at 10:44 AM on April 28, 2008


willmize, you can either use aptitude - which is no clicks, or synaptic, which is two clicks, or you can click on a .deb, which is one click.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The nice thing about compiz fusion is that you can choose which of these effects you want to use and disable the less useful ones. I find that my current plugin list actually adds usability that neither Mac OS X or Vista have.

Namely, being able to zoom out and unfold your desktops and drag windows between them and the Mac OS X expose are really nice to have.

I've never really liked the idea of a taskbar, because it rearranges and resizes the items on it, so I can't spatially remember where things are, and it forces me to read the title from a space that gets smaller and less descriptive with more things open. The Mac OS X panel does a better job with this than Windows because stuck items never move, but it doesn't have the same advantages as multiple desktops and unobscured windows with a hotkey to zoom out and unfold. I think 10.5 has this now, but its not quite as sweet as Compiz's implementation.

Vista Aero doesn't offer anything new or particularly useful with its 3D accelerated interface, but it does look a lot nicer than the old fisher-price interface of XP when using Graphite-black color schemes.

Now if we could only get some more games to run in linux and get flash player plugin to work a bit better, I'll never have to use windows again!

I use gentoo, but hooray for Ubuntu and all the work they've done to produce a polished, user friendly linux desktop. It will be nice to have a another alternative to expensive mainstream OSes that can run on inexpensive hardware.
posted by hellslinger at 10:49 AM on April 28, 2008


one of the best features of open source development is that developing one aspect of the computing experience doesn't have to detract from developing the others. Since apps are developed by devoted community members, focusing on something like beautifying the desktop environment doesn't detract from building a leaner more stable kernel because something like compiz fusion is developed by other people who wouldn't be contributing their manhours' worth of work to the kernel in the first place.

which is why I always find it funny to see slashdotters (and apparently some mefites) objecting to optional flashy desktop visuals, as though it were developed in some form of zero-sum environment where one unit of flashy stuff comes at the expense of one unit of utilitarian ugly stuff with zero usability consideration.

but hey, that's linux, I guess. everyone's drinking the haterade. at all times.
posted by shmegegge at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


dist-upgrade imploded my desktop. The power had been off when I came back the next day, so it's possible that it cut out in the middle of the upgrade. It could kind of load, but had no hopes of fixing itself. After reinstalling from CD (which annoyingly lacks an option to preserve home), the setup for fglrx caused it to give me out-of-frequency on my LCD, which was not repairable in any easy way. Another distro repaired the xorg.conf in two clicks.

Now that I have all the compiz stuff going, it was fun for about 30 seconds. Then I turned the wobble, etc off. Turning it off takes five seconds if you think that it's dumb. I think that the focusing, opacity, other stuff actually is nice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2008


Willmize, debian's had it down to one-click for quite some time now with apt-get as the back-end with various front-ends. Asus' Eees run Ubuntu, which is based on debian.

full disclosure: I still prefer slackware
posted by eclectist at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2008


So Linux is finally going to get all the fancy graphics effects that Windows has? Those effects that are the first thing you turn off on a new Windows install because you don't want to waste the cycles?
posted by Nelson at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2008


For example, Compiz's dodge on focus effect adds a lot of very salient, very distracting motion to a fairly frequent navigation task. I have a strong hunch that it doesn't contribute anything to maintaining visual momentum.

Actually I'll bet these quick little animations are extremely useful for maintaining visual flow. For the same reason that menus should slide/fade in, and that windows should shrink when minimized, they let us know WHAT JUST HAPPENED when we click something (sometimes by mistake). I bet you wouldn't even notice the animations in use.

I just wish Linux would take the same approach to other usability issues. I just had my first exposure a week ago, and I bailed as soon as someone told me I had to dump into the command line, sudo, and write a shell script in order to properly set my audio capture device on startup. Cute project boys, but I have no time for crap like that.
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:17 AM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


..watching more of the video, the "unfold cube" plugin for virtual desktops is eminently useful. Kind of like what Apple has done with Spaces.
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:21 AM on April 28, 2008


willmize, you can either use aptitude - which is no clicks, or synaptic, which is two clicks, or you can click on a .deb, which is one click.

Is any of those labelled as "Install software" in the UI?
posted by smackfu at 11:23 AM on April 28, 2008


I completed the upgrade yesterday and it's working beautifully; only hitch so far was that the SCIM input method I use for writing Chinese got borked but found a quick fix.
I played around with the desktop effects just for the hell of it but have most turned off, but like hellslinger above, get a lot of mileage out of the multiple desktops and options for arranging open windows.
posted by Abiezer at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2008


Is any of those labelled as "Install software" in the UI?
There's "Add/Remove" at the bottom of the applications menu on the Gnome version of Ubuntu which leads to a very user friendly interface with the package manager (and has a more verbose tool tip just so you know for sure what it does). Then there's access to Synaptic itself via administration (also with explanatory tool tip). I'm no computer expert by any means and have found it all pretty straightforward since switching to mostly Linux a few years back.
posted by Abiezer at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2008


I've been playing with Ubuntu G-G on an old PIII machine for a while now, and it keeps surprising me with how easy it is to set up and use stuff I thought would be a struggle. there are some exceptions, but overall, it's been a pleasure.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:35 AM on April 28, 2008


Once Ubuntu's usability gets good enough, it will start attracting contributors who are super-serious usability nuts (mostly hardcore mac people right now). That's when it'll really start to take off.
posted by Tlogmer at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2008


Finally I'll have the ability to watch video on a 3d cube while my desktop is on fire.

It's the dream we all dream of!

Asus' Eees run Ubuntu, which is based on debian.

They can do, but I'd guess most users stick with the Xandros distribution it ships with.

I would love to give this a whirl, but from what I remember from my brief previous foray into Linux (Mandrake) was that installing programs was a pain in the butt.

Not at all. apt is my number one fave thing about using Linux - installing apps made ridiculously easy. I'd only ever used Macs until I got an Eee, and the old 'find app on the web, download a .dmg, mount it, copy the app to /Applications or run an installer, unmount the disk image, delete the .dmg file' method (which for most apps you have to repeat every time a new version comes out) now seems a right hassle in comparison to typing 'apt-get install someapplication'.
posted by jack_mo at 11:47 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did somebody mention herons? Although I like to think of myself as hardy, cowbellmoo, we herons don't perch much per se. We're more into wading.

octothorpe: Enn, the computer industry has a long tradition of cutesy/dumb names for things. It's not like that started with Ubuntu.

Information technology proliferate entities faster than terminology can keep up, which leads to sometimes awkward inventions or borrowings.

My 2nd ed. AHD (1985, which I keep for just this reason) makes no mention under the term /default/ (or DEEfault in some parts) of the usage "what the system does when you don't specify to the system what you want it to do", even though this newer usage is now the dominant one.

At one s/w firm, a persistent undesired behaviour of the system had to be named so it could be more easily discussed. So, instead of "that thing that happens when the system did Y but looks like it did X", the term maurice (cf. Steve Miller's The Joker) used as both a noun and a verb, was arbitrarily coined simply to give it a name.

This all contributes to a culture accustomed to the need to make up terminology as it goes along. It seems a pretty short step to one that values 'creativity/cleverness' in this area. Next thing you know, you're being offered Microsoft "Bob", OS/2 "Borg", or Ubuntu "Hardy Heron".

Artw: I couldn’t get out of teletubbies mode fast enough.

That's what I've always called that screen, too. I half expect runny babbits to appear.
-
posted by Herodios at 11:54 AM on April 28, 2008


Note that the linked YouTube video is not of Ubuntu as it ships. It's a custom "pimped-out" desktop. The normal version is much less offensive.
posted by zsazsa at 11:55 AM on April 28, 2008


On not previewing:

Is any of those labelled as "Install software" in the UI?

That's a really good point - so much stuff in Linux (in my admittedly pretty limited experience) is sort of hidden behind daft/obscure names, (And there's no consistency when it comes to the UI off apps, which is something I really miss, being used to Macs - you really have to learn how to use individual apps, rather than knowing, eg., a common set of command key combinations, the location of certain menu items across all apps, etc..)
posted by jack_mo at 11:55 AM on April 28, 2008


After Feisty and Gutsy, I thought they should have named this one Ballsy. Ballsy Baboon.
posted by Nattie at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2008


Although I like to think of myself as hardy, cowbellmoo, we herons don't perch much per se. We're more into wading.

Apologies. I was hoping Haughty Heifer would catch on to avoid embarassing myself.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2008


a perching heifer?
posted by Herodios at 12:09 PM on April 28, 2008


That's a really good point - so much stuff in Linux (in my admittedly pretty limited experience) is sort of hidden behind daft/obscure names,

Yeah, exactly. Like "aptitude" is clever because it's a front-end to "apt", but if you don't know anything about Debian, you're never going to figure that out.

But Abiezer says it is listed under Add/Remove Programs, so that's nice.
posted by smackfu at 12:12 PM on April 28, 2008


For example, Compiz's dodge on focus effect adds a lot of very salient, very distracting motion to a fairly frequent navigation task. I have a strong hunch that it doesn't contribute anything to maintaining visual momentum.
Actually I'll bet these quick little animations are extremely useful for maintaining visual flow.


Popular Ethics, I wasn't condemning every visual effect, just the first one shown in the Compiz video (after which I stopped watching). OSX's effects like the "genie" aka "flow into taskbar" are designed with a bit of thought, well tested, and I imagine work well in supporting navigation and awareness of system state.

For example: In the OSX genie effect, the visual flow is consistent in going from the window to the taskbar, naturally drawing the eyes and attentional processes along for the ride. This supports the metaphor of hiding something away, and helps you in paying attention to either where you hid the window, or where it is now visible. By constrast, in the dodge on focus effect, the windows that you don't care about are the ones moving, which is likely going to distract you from paying attention to the window you are interested in. Worse, the visual flow of the dodging windows is out and away from the now-in-focus window you're (presumably) interested in.

If my arguments don't sound convincing, you're not alone. Unfortunately, Linux projects don't have much budget to spend on user testing, nor volunteers willing to do the (boring) work.
posted by anthill at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


hidden behind daft/obscure names

Simply click Start->Settings->Control Panel->Network Connections->Your Network Adapter. Then, simply scroll down the list and highlight Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), and click Advanced. Now you can set up a static IP!
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tlogmer, I disagree. A more usable Linux might attract those usability nuts, but I predict that will be shortly followed by fights on developer mailing lists, and disgruntled desertions. If usability people can't code, they can't contribute to the things they want to influence.

Usability people that just want to write documentation, on the other hand, are welcome anytime, to any project! :)
posted by anthill at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2008


First solve the problem. Then write the code.

Coders who are willing to solve problems first are welcome anytime.
posted by Herodios at 12:24 PM on April 28, 2008


a perching heifer?

I need bio-diversity training!
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:30 PM on April 28, 2008


a perching heifer?

I need bio-diversity training!

Hee hee! Paging Gary Larson. . .
posted by Herodios at 12:32 PM on April 28, 2008


Linux -still the best OS for people who want single click access to IP settings.
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


hidden behind daft/obscure names

Try to explain what "Windows Vista" means to someone who's never used Windows in his life.
posted by splice at 12:47 PM on April 28, 2008


Jizzing Jayhawk — My coworkers and I always refer to this release as Hairy Hardon.

I, for one, do not care for all of you ignorant idiots who use the word 'Linux' to describe Xorg + Compiz + Gnome.

You likely do not actually use Linux. You are not writing software that makes syscalls, you are not writing kernel code. The majority of the software you use directly makes calls that are not in any way specific to the Linux kernel, with the exception of possibly inotify(7), the nvidia/fglrx drivers, and some wireless config stuff.

I think that marketing 'Linux' to people who would not have found it on their own, presenting it as a packaged 'operating system' in the same way as commercial stuff is a terrible idea. The last thing the community needs is more people not contributing anything of substance besides vague complaints, wanky artwork/themes, and marketing fluff.

Get off my kernel, you rascal kids! I'm getting the hose!
posted by blasdelf at 1:27 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


,-,   .__________________________________________________
| |   | Hi. It looks like you're trying to install a     '
O O <> |U|   | [gunzip, tar, compile source, realize you don't  |
|  /  | have the prerequisite packages, die of old age]  |
`-'   | [run windows, run "Setup.exe"]                   |
      .__________________________________________________.

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:42 PM on April 28, 2008


halp preview doesn't preview
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:42 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Try to explain what "Windows Vista" means to someone who's never used Windows in his life.
posted by splice


This is a pretty bad analogy, because jack_mo was referring to internals of the OS - installing software being apt-get, sudo, etc.
Similarly, try explaining 'Ubuntu' to someone who's never used [Any OS] before. The way you explain it is: 'oh that's just the product/brand name' ... its completely unrelated to how things are described within the product [OS] itself.
posted by Smoosh Faced Lion at 1:43 PM on April 28, 2008


Oh yaaaay a new Ubuntu thing I'm supposed to care about because it's on Metafilter. And this one has a dumber name than the last one. Yaaaay! Please let me know the next time one of the developers takes a shit, because this is obviously all pressing news.

Nobody cares about your geeky side project. Get back to work.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:04 PM on April 28, 2008


blasdelf: Popular support from the unwashed masses might come in handy one day. Net Neutrality, web standards, etc. Who will sing your songs? Who's gonna light your fire?
posted by cowbellemoo at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


In Korea, something like 98% of web traffic comes from IE. Because most websites use ActiveX. (Or is it the other way around?) It's beyond homogeneous -- it's an outright monoculture.

When contract developers from Korea insisted on using ActiveX for a project at my last employer, we simply told them that 30% of our user base used either Firefox or Macintosh, neither of which supports ActiveX. End of discussion, no arguing necessary. Boy, were we grateful to the guys at Firefox and Apple. Bullet dodged.

Having Ubuntu around will pay unexpected dividends. Diversity is good for everybody -- even people who don't care about Linux.
posted by sdodd at 2:35 PM on April 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


I, for one, consider that shittalking a project that is enjoyed by others and asks _nothing_ of you really brings to light the kind of person you are.

This could have gone a bit better, but everyone that actually uses Linux fled this thread long ago.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:41 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought that the video was quite compelling. But, like several other here, I run my Ubuntu machine headless, the idea of having more and better video desktop widgets really isn't all that useful to me.

It might be one day though, so I applaud the effort that went into them.

Now if we could just get the people working on developing software to focus on making some kind of universal driver for WiFi cards, (and web-cams, damn it), everything would be perfect.
posted by quin at 2:46 PM on April 28, 2008


It's still brown out of the box?
posted by sveskemus at 2:59 PM on April 28, 2008


I've had a couple of different points in my life where I've tried linux, with varying levels of happiness with various features. The first time was back when Mandriva was called Mandrake. I tried Red Hat, mostly because it was the one I'd heard of the most. I remember not being able to get my sound card to work despite locating, identifying, downloading and attempting to install the proper linux drivers from my manufacturer (or was it a 3rd party? I forget. creative card, so it might have been that 3rd party driver suite cause creative never supported linux.). so much for that.

The second time I got the sound card working rather painlessly in what was newly named Mandriva Linux. a lot of things were far less painful with that, even nvidia driver installs. then I tried to play an mp3. hey guess what stopped being included in linux distros just when audio drivers got easy for me to deal with? that's right. xmm. apparently, some kind of patent dispute or some shit. So I figured, fuck it. I'm gonna download the player from somewhere else and install it. whatever. okay, so it was rpm--l, no that's not it. fuck. what was the fucking command again? fuck. go look it up. alright, got the command. didn't work. huh. alright, why? okay, so the command I looked up was for downloading the package and automatically installing it from a source on the internet, but that package source had eliminated xmm from its library for the same patent reasons. but fuck that, I've got the package right here! maybe I can just double click it. nope. nothing. god damn it! okay, I'll go look up more rpm commands and see if I can point the installer to a locally stored package. ok, I can do that. let me see if this does it. I typed the command in wrong. one sec. okay, that seemed to do it- what the fuck is a library conflict? fuck that.

3rd time, I managed to not have to deal with any of that. It was openSUSE. I had to reinstall openSUSE because the version I had installed had not come with any of the developer's tools, so no compile, none of that, so I couldn't install the neat stuff I'd found. So I reinstalled it, with the coding toolbox and was okay for a day or two. Then I got tired of going back to my windows partition every time I wanted to watch a video I'd downloaded in windows, so I figured I'd set linux up to read my windows drives. I think I've blocked the actual steps I took out of my mind entirely out of fear of triggering a panic attack. Suffice it to say, that shit easy to figure out, but it did ultimately work. then I didn't have the proper codec and I once again gave up.

the latest time is wubi. I haven't spent any real time in it yet. I'm hoping it goes better.

But I'll say this: anyone who wants to pretend that linux is simple is a god damn liar. until ubuntu, only the most marginal strides toward usability were ever made from year to year and the differences over a span of years were tiny. then knoppix comes along and all those lack of driver support excuses slashdotters constantly made disappeared. then ubuntu comes along and usability excuses get replaced with complaints of non-utilitarian flash. I swear to God, linux diehards are their own worst enemy.
posted by shmegegge at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like Ubuntu a lot. I'm posting this right now on a laptop running Gutsy. I've been running Linux at home since '96 or so, and Ubuntu is the best distribution I've ever used. However, for the love of FUCK do I ever hate the retarded names they give the individual releases. "Gutsy Gibbon" and "Hardy Heron" and now "Intrepid Ibex". It's ridiculous, especially for a company that's trying to position itself in the corporate market with their server releases (which are awesome). "Okay, Mr. IT manager, sure we could run Microsoft Corporate Proactive Ultimate Synergy Server, but I suggest that we take a serious look at Ubuntu Flirty Fop...", and then the trap door in the office floor opens. It may seem petty, but names mean a lot, especially in the corporate arena.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:51 PM on April 28, 2008


For that matter, "Ubuntu" itself is a pretty dumb name. The name of the company is "Canonical", couldn't they just call it "Canonical Linux"? That would be a great, corporate-sounding name.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:58 PM on April 28, 2008


I'd be impressed if network discovery worked. As it is, I feel like I'm looking at my kid goofing around instead of doing his homework. Soon enough he'll be off to bed with no supper.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:59 PM on April 28, 2008


I swapped from Windows to Ubuntu about four months ago - and liked it enough that my new PC, bought about 2 months ago, has no windows. I'm not especially techhie and I don't find it any more difficult. It's definitely quicker and lighter feeling. I don't play games and OO is a perfectly good substitute for office; ditto firefox and thunderbird. On the downside, Gimp is not a good substitute for photoshop and Hardy Heron is rather silly name.
posted by rhymer at 4:22 PM on April 28, 2008


DecemberBoy, I think they know that the name is goofy. Take a look at the Ubuntu front page. It doesn't say "Hardy Heron" anywhere. Not on the official press release or the Learn More link for the desktop edition. It only says 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition.
posted by zsazsa at 4:23 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


You likely do not actually use Linux. You are not writing software that makes syscalls, you are not writing kernel code.

That's an awfully funny definition for "use" you have there. And by funny, I mean kind of dumb. Do we directly invoke the kernel functionality? Of course not. Any modern operating system and set of useful applications provide layers upon layers of abstraction, so that end-users - the people who actually use computers as tools to accomplish something else, instead of seeing them as an end in themselves - can check their email and play Solitaire or whatever.

I think that marketing 'Linux' to people who would not have found it on their own, presenting it as a packaged 'operating system' in the same way as commercial stuff is a terrible idea. The last thing the community needs is more people not contributing anything of substance besides vague complaints, wanky artwork/themes, and marketing fluff.

The last thing the community needs is more people saying what the community needs, as if it were a community with a single unifying purpose, instead of a bunch of people scratching their own itches.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:26 PM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Free program names for free software:

Internet Viewer
Syndication Viewer
Application Loader

Text Editor
Image Editor
Photo Editor
Folder Editor
Album Editor

Page Layout
Slideshow Layout

Spreadsheet
posted by hexatron at 5:24 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's an awfully funny definition for "use" you have there. And by funny, I mean kind of dumb.

The idea is that the functionality you're invoking (even indirectly), could be supported by the same software running on a half-dozen different popular kernels. I could swap it out underneath you and you'd have no idea — you wouldn't even know where to look.


The last thing the community needs is more people saying what the community needs, as if it were a community with a single unifying purpose, instead of a bunch of people scratching their own itches.

That's just the thing — I scratch my own damn itches. I've been working on some low-level patches to the indexing backend of tracker for a few months to support a userspace filesystem I'm writing. For the last few weeks I've been doing some hardcore debugging on the OLPC fork of the Linux kernel, trying to resolve a mmcblk device corruption issue that happens when waking from sleep.

People who use Ubuntu, who use it because it is trendy or because Windows blows or whatever, if they are not clever enough to bootstrap themselves, if they cause support pressure on the people who actually write the software that the Ubuntu devs diddle with and distribute — they are leeches.

I don't begrudge them all that much, because they are even leechier when they use FOSS on Windows. The problem will subside somewhat in a few years, as more little duggaloes use Ubuntu because it's popular, eventually they'll be less helpless — they'll be at least as 'familiar' with it as they are with Windows. But I don't believe for a second that Ubuntu becoming popular leads to more people developing open source software, at least not in this country.
posted by blasdelf at 6:58 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've had my wife using Kubuntu for a few months now in a sort of experiment-- we just moved, and the setup at our old place was a mess. I had my pc, from which I do a lot of work stuff on, my work laptop (a Powerbook), my wife's PC (running XP Home), an old G4 Powerbook for the living room and an ancient Compaq running SUSE 8 as a file server for our music and movies and shared files.

I got to thinking that my wife used her computer sparingly, so I could use her machine as the file server since the Compaq was getting noisy both from the fan and the HD. And there are way too many computers around the house. But I wanted the uptime of Linux because her office is now across the house and didn't want to access the server only to find it was too bogged down and needed a restart.

So she's using Kubuntu, and it's been very positive. She uses it for web (Firefox, which she was using with XP Home), email (Thunderbird, which she was using with XP Home), music (Amarok, which is new to her and LastFM, which isn't), office apps (OpenOffice, which is new to her) and SoulSeek. It took her about 20 minutes to get used to Open Office Writer and about five to switch from Amarok to Winamp. Firefox and Thunderbird are exactly the same, and so is LastFM. Nicotine+ is buggy and sucky, but the original SoulSeek client isn't much better. She has yet to bun a CD, but K3b has been really solid for years and I know it'll be fine.

So I think Linux on a desktop for low-level users is basically there. I did a bit of handholding, but I think she could get it if I wasn't standing over her shoulder. A lot of things about Windows just seem intuitive because a lot of people have been using it for a while. Ubuntu's not perfectly user friendly, but Linux has made incredible progress when I think back to 2002. Especially since it's designed by committee.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:01 PM on April 28, 2008


so that end-users - the people who actually use computers as tools to accomplish something else, instead of seeing them as an end in themselves - can check their email and play Solitaire or whatever.

I think that this sentiment — that computers should be appliances: typewriters, minitels — it's a shame almost beyond words. Computers are so much more than that.

So here's a car analogy (lame, I NO RITE): Say you're an engineer, an experimenter, and you enjoy designing and building locomotive devices from scratch — for the thrill of tinkering, the majesty of building something that is better than you are, the mania of solving a problem, the rush of wind in your hair when it works and you can tool around on country roads. You are a fan of automobiles at a very base level. But you live in the bizarro world of 2008 and automobiles play a role in your society that is entirely opposite of everything you enjoy about them. What the fuck do you do?

I'm a Computer Scientist, and many people shrug and sigh when I disclose that. In the last few years I've taken to explaining via the above Car Analogy® that no, I don't want to go get a job in the slaughterhouse making Payroll Systems, Login Screens, or worst — formulaic Video Games.

Computers, for me, are a means of getting at the fundamental constructs of Cognition, Language, and Reality. They are a means for constructing things larger than myself, things that are bigger than can fit in my brain. I use them to experiment, to test hypotheses — to write programs that write programs that execute further programs. They are self-transforming machine elves, made real.

That I have computers at my disposal makes it so much easier to design my own computer architectures from scratch, and make them real in silicon (I have done this). Computers make it possible to spend my time thinking about whether something is computable, and how — and test that thesis without laboriously computing it by hand.

That I despise the fact that almost no-one uses them in this fashion, nor even cares to understand the essence of their function, is a given. I have come to accept that most people are not really curious about their world.
posted by blasdelf at 7:43 PM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Especially since it's designed by committee.

You could say that the Ubuntu packaging of other people's software is done by committee, and it is absolutely true for Corporate FOSS stuff like Mozilla, QT, OpenOffice.org, Java, Azureus, etc.

But the majority of FOSS development is directed via qualified dictatorship, with plenty of argument and occasional coups. It usually works, especially as the dictator is almost always qualified, and the people who are wrong are usually all talk and no code.

Occasionally it does not work, like with the GIMP, where core development team are misguided assholes, and the stakeholders with time and money (Movie/Effects studios) forked the project into CinePaint to suit their own needs (but not really anyone else's). Oh well, I just use ImageMagick and occasionally fire up pirated Photoshop.
posted by blasdelf at 7:59 PM on April 28, 2008


> no, I don't want to go get a job in the slaughterhouse making Payroll Systems, Login Screens, or worst — formulaic Video Games

Code Monkey get up get coffee
Code Monkey go to job
have boring meeting with boring manager Rob
Rob say Code Monkey very diligent
but his output stink
his code not functional or elegant
what do Code Monkey think
Code Monkey think maybe manager oughta write goddamn login page himself
Code Monkey not say it out loud
Code Monkey not crazy just proud


It's my anthem, too.
posted by sdodd at 9:52 PM on April 28, 2008


Now I get occasional urge to pet, or possibly sleep on, my monitor.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:19 AM on April 29, 2008


blasdelf: Why limit people to your narrow scope of 'legitimate' computer use? Happy users, otherwise enriched, are culpable for some unnatural debt of potential in the FOSS world? The ubuntu community gleefully enables and forgives this debt, or sees someone's new agency as payment in full. I can see why you'd chafe at lowest common denominators so short of your expectations, but not why you'd divide them further.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:41 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now I get occasional urge to pet, or possibly sleep on, my monitor.

:D
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:42 AM on April 29, 2008


That I despise the fact that almost no-one uses them in this fashion, nor even cares to understand the essence of their function, is a given. I have come to accept that most people are not really curious about their world.

This is a terrible point. Don't get me wrong, what you get from your computer usage and how you feel about them is your business and more power to you. But some of you coders really need to step outside of yourselves for a minute or two occasionally. What you despise, and have come to accept, is that most people are not really curious about your world. You're not describing the perceivable truth of the world at large, no matter how much you might think you are. You're describing the minutiae of your personal obsession and have blinded yourself to the fact that your work and your passions serve a function for the world at large, rather than being the purpose for that world. The rest of us aren't leeches, we're the purpose for that function, and everyone who started the FOSS movement would tell you the same. the whole "coding for coders" idea is a weight hindering the growth of unix-likes, and you guys are all upset that the tremendous momentum generated by folks like canonical has managed, finally, to far outweigh that hinderance.
posted by shmegegge at 8:48 AM on April 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I guess i should not bother getting that Linux laptop then, since I'd be doing it wrong.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on April 29, 2008


People who use Ubuntu, who use it because it is trendy or because Windows blows or whatever, if they are not clever enough to bootstrap themselves, if they cause support pressure on the people who actually write the software that the Ubuntu devs diddle with and distribute — they are leeches.

I know where you're coming from but this is a fucking ridiculous and poisonous attitude. If you want something like FOSS or just Linux to truly succeed, you need a few things:

1) people using it to make art
2) people using it to write software that has nothing to do with operating systems
3) people playing games
4) people just checking their email and looking for porn

None of these usages require bootstrapping. You are saying that to be curious and engaged means being curious and engaged about the same thing as you and OS developers. You are saying that if I don't rebuild my own transmission I shouldn't drive.
posted by freebird at 10:29 AM on April 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


OK - this thread is dead by now. But I just finished upgrading and I'd like to point out that on my pc, which I had considered replacing because it was so damn slow, 8.04 is *much* faster than 7. The two applications I use most - gpodder and firefox - both of which were nearly unusably slow on my Athlon 2400/1 Gig machine, are noticeably faster. I no longer have to upgrade, so Ubuntu has helped the US current account deficit to the tune of a couple hundred dollars.
posted by bonecrusher at 4:22 AM on April 30, 2008


I know where you're coming from but this is a fucking ridiculous and poisonous attitude. If you want something like FOSS or just Linux to truly succeed, you need a few things

This is just the mindset I'm chafing against. I don't want the fruit of my labors to become, basically, Windows. I do not want to be the Microsoft help desk, they get aggressively stupid people calling them constantly.

I enjoy and cherish the idea that some other clever person will use my code, figure it out, and maybe send me a courteous email with questions (especially since I have been that enquirer in the past). But I do not, for one goddamn second, want to support millions of incurious idiots. That's a surefire way to grind a social movement into the ground, but a great way to build a commercial empire (with an attendant culture of 'trained' technicians).

Ubuntu is not quite [commercial, dictatorial, non-participatory] enough to fill that role fully, at least not yet. Red Hat utterly squandered their chance at that role on the consumer side, but have owned the shit out of it on the server side. Both Mozilla and Sun have settled into this corporate model pretty perfectly — the source is open and free, but the development (and its direction) is closed. I don't hold a grudge against them for it, it's clearly the only way to scale your userbase.

Growing your userbase to include many millions of non-self-supporting people is not good if you do not have a revenue stream to pay for their support, and a very conservative development model. Ubuntu will probably get there in another few years, but they'll have to scare the middle-schoolers on Digg off of their lawn (good riddance!).
posted by blasdelf at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2008


Blasdelf, you seem to think that you as the developer are personally going to have to support all the users.

In my noob Linux experience (typing this on U8.04), I've never once had a question answered by a software package's developer. Always on forums, always by fellow users.

The internet self-organizes to an extent to support what people really want to do. If your software isn't that compelling, then people will happily give up trying to use it and you can be left in peace.
posted by anthill at 6:48 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


So... let me get this straight... blasdef is arguing that everyone should use Windows?
posted by Artw at 9:03 AM on May 1, 2008


Nope, I'm just saying that I'm quite uncomfortable with the marketing aspect, and the considerable expansion of the userbase that needs support.
posted by blasdelf at 7:05 AM on May 3, 2008


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