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A Peek Into Tomorrow's Linux 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the window-of-the-future dept.
jellybeans writes "MadPenguin.org takes a peek into the world of Linux as it looks going forward. "I hear this argument all the time. How companies trying to make Linux more accessible, through any means necessary, so long as they abide by the GPL, are working against the vision of Linux from the beginning. This is asinine. The vision, based on my own interpretation of Linux was always about choice."
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A Peek Into Tomorrow's Linux

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  • Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @09:35PM (#22415042)
    TFA makes a good point: the more desktop-friendly linux becomes, the less it loses its no-nonsense technical power. But I don't care what everex is doing with linux.. I have it configured the way I like it and even if they're putting out some watered down linux I can still get my flavor anytime I want.
  • Re:Good article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sirmonkey (1056544) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @09:46PM (#22415156)
    good point. but to add to it, i recently switched distros (after 5+ years with one) just becasue i didn't like how watered down it had become. with that said i've tried some of the newer linux's and like that -on some- i can still get my 'linux' tools, like mc, ifconfig, and a bunch of other console tools.

    guis are nice for tools i'm not fimilar with.... but it takes 3 commands for me to setup a network. and i'd rater add them to a boot script then look for -then figure out- a gui tool.

    however i do like the push for more gui and windows friendly stuff. i think its good for linux as a whole. i'd just hate to see all the console tools removed. i'd like to see the gui tools have a built in "files to edit and commands to enter" help page. yea its the old way but its also the less resource intensive way... basicly what helps keep my 700mhz 256meg laptop in business. i can't help but of think of the money i have saved not upgradeing.
  • Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aehgts (972561) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:11PM (#22415518) Homepage Journal
    Choice quotes from TFA that sum it up:

    2008: Year of the Linux Desktop
    and

    Click here to get the latest prices on Linux distributions!
  • Re:Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kusanagi374 (776658) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:42PM (#22415802)
    Oh, stop this fallacy already. If easy of use is such a bad thing, why don't we all migrate to Hurd and use command prompt only since Linux now is becoming user-friendly?

    User friendliness (aka usable by idiots) is a GOOD thing because it allows us to do what needs to be done, faster. I don't want to take 5 minutes to do something that could be made in 30 seconds, and I guess other people think the same way, geeks or not.

    Guess I should be answering this from Lynx and not Firefox.
  • Re:Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webmaster404 (1148909) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:52PM (#22415896)
    Exactly, I really don't want to bother with getting something as simple as wireless networking is a pain in some distros, I can use a "power user's" distributions like Gentoo or Debian and spend a few hours getting my wireless up or I can get Ubuntu and connect within a few seconds. I honestly don't see how everyone thinks that easy to use == loss of power and I think that Ubuntu shows this. Even though Ubuntu is easy to use, it still retains almost all of the features of Debian. We should never have to choose between freedom and functionality but until we can get fully free drivers for everything I don't see how including them is a bad thing, and if that equals a loss of power, im fine with that and so would most people.
  • Re:Good article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by that this is not und (1026860) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:04PM (#22416010)
    Conversely, with a 'power user's' distro, you can learn the bare-metal way to configure your wireless. You know it once you've done it once, and can do it again anytime. And since you've reached down deep into how it works, you're able to secure it and understand what you're doing.

    Whereas if you use the latest 'control panel' busybox to configure wireless, you've got your wireless... until the next shiney-thing distro comes along, and you have to learn a whole new set of buttons to press.

    There's an inherent advantage in knowing how to read Man pages. It can take a LOOONG time to learn how to slow down and read them, in our clickety-click gui-driven world. It's very much worth the effort. The best software is convergent. It just keeps getting better and better, not more and more different. I have Unix books that are fifteen years old that are still very much so the definitive references on how to do some pretty awesome stuff.

  • Re:Good article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fluxmov (519552) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:27PM (#22416224)
    This might be true for basic concepts like finding files etc., but the "bare-metal way" won't do you any good in a couple of years, when all of the underlying infrastructure has changed in your distro and you simply don't know what the "best practice" is. Until last week, I had an Ubuntu (7.10) install which still used configuration files that I had hand-edited for Debian potato. Then I finally decided to try all the automagic features of that same Ubuntu distribution - and I don't regret it. As long as the distribution will still let you have that look under the hood like Ubuntu does, I don't see any disadvantage to autodetection and "ease of use". (It's nothing more than a Debian variant, after all...)
  • by Murrquan (1161441) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:20AM (#22416614)
    But putting it on my Windows PC was like making a Hackintosh. Even with Fedora / Ubuntu's Live CDs, I still had to rely on the community for help in getting everything to work right. And some things just plain won't work, period.

    Don't get me wrong, I think Fedora and Ubuntu are great! I love how they have such friendly communities to turn to for help. But when The Year Of The Linux Desktop comes, it's not going to be like this -- it's going to be from preinstalled systems. And I, for one, think that this trend is awesome.

    Kudos to Everex, Asus, Zonbu and Dell. Let's see some more of these PCs!
  • Re:Good article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:29AM (#22416666)

    Whereas if you use the latest 'control panel' busybox to configure wireless, you've got your wireless... until the next shiney-thing distro comes along, and you have to learn a whole new set of buttons to press.
    There is no reason you can't turn nm-applet off and do things yourself.
  • Re:Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mad Merlin (837387) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:42AM (#22416766) Homepage

    That depends on what you mean by user friendliness. Generally people refer to user friendliness as a metric of how easy it is to learn how to use a program, and not how productive one will be with said program. The latter is often sacrificed for the former (because it's less work to remove a feature than to make it easy to learn), but it doesn't have to be.

    User friendliness (aka usable by idiots) is a GOOD thing because it allows us to do what needs to be done, faster.

    Now you're mixing the two up, assuming that making something easy to learn will instantly also make that program the most efficient way to get something done. This is an incorrect assumption. A program that is easy to learn does not imply that it is efficient, nor does a program being efficient imply that it is easy to use. Similarly, a program that is difficult to learn does not imply that it is efficient, nor does a program that is efficient mean that it is difficult to learn.

    Obviously, making a program both easy to learn and efficient to use is the ideal. However, if you can actually figure out how to do so in any non-trivial case, you'll probably be able to retire by the time you're about 30.

    For example, Notepad is a very easy to learn text editor. Notepad, however, is hideously inefficient for actually editing text with. In comparison, Vim is a difficult text editor to learn how to use, but once you know how to use it, you'll find yourself several orders of magnitude more efficient at editing text than someone who only uses Notepad. If you think that comparison is unfair, replace Notepad with your favourite word processor, but the large gap in efficiency does not change (though the ease of learning how to use it dips).

    So yes, ease of learning is good, but efficiency of use is more important, especially for people who already know how to use the program. Unfortunately, ease of learning a program is more flashy and marketable than efficiency of use, and keeping in mind the quickest path to making something easier to use (removing features, as noted above), you can understand why people who already know how to use something really don't want developers to take the short road to making something easier to learn, as it gains the experienced user nothing, while possibly giving up feature(s) in return.

  • by MSDos-486 (779223) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @03:36AM (#22417630)
    The problem with the Windows entrenchment is that people have adopted the mentality that Windows is a integral part of the computer. Another thing is that there is now clear definition of what "Linux" is. We can all identify a Windows box in a heart beat because they all look the same. On the other hand one machine with a Linux distro may look/feel completely different then another. That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget. You cant guarantee that the users desktop is the same as yours. For us advanced user this isn't much of a problem because worse case scenario its down to editing config files, but for Joe User its a pain in the butt. An interesting measure of success for usability would be the ability to remove any terminal emulators from the default install, with no issues. So i think 2 things need to be done to increase usability * Create a distro that completely abstracts the system configuration and provides a consistant interface. Heck call it Linux so people will finally have one OS they can call Linux and be sure that my Linux is the same as your Linux. * Make (real)Linux or said distro completely Windows compatible, hey if can convince someone that all there apps will run on a OS cheaper then Windows, you can bother them with all the cool Linux features latter
  • Related Articles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twistedcubic (577194) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @04:58AM (#22417984)
    Look at the "Related Articles" at the bottom of the page. They sure do like to pit their subjects against one another. Talk about dramtization...

            * 2008: Year of the Linux Desktop 02/05/08
            * Top 3 Brands That Refuse to Support Linux 01/19/08
            * Linux Users to Blame for Lack of Linux Popularity 01/15/08
            * Linux Time Machine Alternative Reviewed 01/05/08
            * Fedora 8: An Assault On Ubuntu 12/30/07
            * Restricted Codecs Mess in Linux 12/26/07
            * Kernel Developers vs. Mainstream Users Duel 12/20/07
            * KDE 4: The Latest In Linux Improvement 12/18/07
            * KINO Developers Impress With Unconventional UI 12/10/07
            * Ubuntu Gutsy Release Candidate Review 12/02/07
  • Re:Good article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @05:11AM (#22418008) Homepage
    You obviously have no idea what power user distros are there for.

    They strive for user friendliness just as much as other distros.
    However their targent audience is power users, not your average computer user.
    People who dont mind opening a text editor to add a wifi key and people who want more power and control than what pretty guis can ever provide.

    A few hours to set up wifi is somewhat incorrect.
    On Gentoo I had to emerge madwifi-ng and then create a new symlink for the new init entry.
    Out of the box it scans for the best open wireless network, connects and runs dhcp.
    Adding a WEP access point is just a matter of telling it which AP uses which key. One simple line.

    Not for your average user but its certainly not difficult.
  • asinine? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @06:19AM (#22418292)
    Matt Hartley writes in his, for want of a better term, "article":

    > I hear this argument all the time. How companies trying to make Linux more accessible,
    > through any means necessary, so long as they abide by the GPL, are working against the
    > vision of Linux from the beginning. This is asinine.


    no, this is a straw-man.

    it's also a bizarre tangential rant. he was writing a (fairly lame and light-on) review of little linux-based desktop/laptop devices - and then suddenly goes off on this weird rant to pre-emptively address an entirely unheard criticism followed by an even more bizarre attack on imaginary "crazy whack-job" linux dudes who happen to be trapped in the 1990s for some unexplained reason.

    Hey Matt, don't look now but your inferiority complex is showing! it must be way past time for your medication.

  • Re:Good article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by piojo (995934) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @06:29AM (#22418336)

    User friendliness (aka usable by idiots) is a GOOD thing because it allows us to do what needs to be done, faster. I don't want to take 5 minutes to do something that could be made in 30 seconds, and I guess other people think the same way, geeks or not.
    I think that when people raise objections to the user friendly stuff, we really don't know why we don't like it (so we make up bullshit, as humans are prone to do). I don't actually object to things that are easy to use, but I hate ubuntu. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect it actually has to do with these "easy" systems having more complexity than I can understand. I don't like it. I prefer package management systems for "power users", because I can understand them. I like config files for the same reason. For somebody who likes to tinker, debian/ubuntu is positively *daunting*, compared to arch linux or gentoo.
  • Re:Good article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MichailS (923773) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @06:53AM (#22418426)
    That is ridiculous. If someone takes Linux and puts a simple GUI on it, they aren't depriving the power users of any functionality. You can still pull up xterm and install any application your heart desires.

    Further, if someone makes a simple distro they aren't ripping Slackware from your hands. Rest assured that you will always enjoy the availability of elitist distros.

    If anything, they just add to the pool of choice.

    I wonder if the real gripes about simple Linux isn't about that the 1337 h4X0rZ feel that the unwashed masses are treading their turf. "It took me a decade to learn this crap, it should take you as much as well!"
  • by argent (18001) <peter@nospAM.slashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:46AM (#22420630) Homepage Journal
    An interesting measure of success for usability would be the ability to remove any terminal emulators from the default install, with no issues.

    Mac OS X doesn't even try a damnfool thing like that.

    Hell, even Windows doesn't try a damnfool thing like that.
  • Re:Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by manifoldronin (827401) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:02AM (#22420864)

    Conversely, with a 'power user's' distro, you can learn the bare-metal way to configure your wireless. You know it once you've done it once, and can do it again anytime. And since you've reached down deep into how it works, you're able to secure it and understand what you're doing.
    Actually it's not that rosy in reality. See, the thing is, for most of the desktop users, many of these "sys config" tasks are not what they have to do very often. Sure, you'll learn "the bare-metal way" to configure your wireless, but the next time when you have to do it again is probably going to be the next time you upgrade to a new laptop, which for most people is like 1 or 2 years later. Do you honestly think most of us would be able to remember "how I did it last time?"

    I think, while by now people have learned to distinguish between "users" and "power users", there is one more level of distinction to be made. That is between "power users" and "system admins". I use command line a lot for my daily tasks, I custom and build some of the software I use, and I constantly tweak my ubuntu installation, so I consider myself a power user. OTOH, I don't consider myself a system admin, not when all I have to manage is 3 ubuntu desktops. For a system admin, yeah, learning how to do things in the bare metal way can be really beneficial, because it's cost effective when you have 278 system to amortize your effort with. It's a completely different economy for desktop users.

    Whereas if you use the latest 'control panel' busybox to configure wireless, you've got your wireless... until the next shiney-thing distro comes along, and you have to learn a whole new set of buttons to press.
    You say that as if "the bare-metal ways" don't change as often, if not more often. 8-)
  • by qoquaq (657652) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:26PM (#22423304)
    Linux or GNU/Linux is customizable. Use what works for you. Change what you don't like, support what you do like. These user friendliness discussions are great. Someone is taking the platform forward. Its a good thing. More people are involved. You want to stay away from things which make the software non-free, don't install proprietary software. Not every distro or configuration of Linux is right for you. The beauty is that you have a choice, a large involved development community, several groups which help provide direction, ... its all good! Arguing this type of stuff is purely flamebait.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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