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Hardy Heron Making Linux Ready for the Masses? 1100

Posted by Zonk
from the it-is-a-very-robust-bird dept.
desmondhaynes writes "Is Linux ready for the masses? Is Linux really being targeted towards the 'casual computer user'? Computerworld thinks we're getting there, talking of Linux 'going mainstream 'with Ubuntu. 'If there is a single complaint that is laid at the feet of Linux time and time again, it's that the operating system is too complicated and arcane for casual computer users to tolerate. You can't ask newbies to install device drivers or recompile the kernel, naysayers argue. Of course, many of those criticisms date back to the bad old days, but Ubuntu, the user-friendly distribution sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth's Canonical Ltd., has made a mission out of dispelling such complaints entirely.'"
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Hardy Heron Making Linux Ready for the Masses?

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  • by liquidpele (663430) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:03PM (#23096298) Journal
    TROLL, DON'T CLICK!!!
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:11PM (#23096406) Journal
    Wifi for me works great -- never a second's trouble. Bluetooth has gotten better, but I still can't browse my Blackberry. I can detect it, exchange passkeys, and connect very easily through the GUI, but the OBEX still barfs.
  • Re:take some risks (Score:4, Informative)

    by norminator (784674) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:14PM (#23096446)
    Some distributions do provide that, such as Linux Mint. Also, the Dell machines that ship with Ubuntu include DVD support, and mp3 support with Ubuntu is just a mouse click or two away when you try to play your first mp3 file.
  • Ubuntu on a laptop (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:18PM (#23096516) Homepage
    Ubuntu gets better with each release. When I first put Dapper on my Toshiba laptop, I had to fiddle around with the boot menu to get it to work correctly, and I had to remember to do this everytime a new kernel was installed, otherwise the laptop would stuff up on its next reboot. Subsequent releases didn't require this switch though.

    The BIGGEST fix they've provided (and I'm sure everyone agrees with me on this) is the failsafe mode if X screws up. Who remembers about a year ago when XServer was updated and it killed the desktop? They quickly remedied the situation but for a lot of people I imagine that it either made them reinstall or switch back to Windows. Luckily I managed to downgrade my version because I hadn't cleaned out my archives in a while.

    It's taken a while, but Ubuntu's getting there.
  • by mosch (204) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:21PM (#23096558) Homepage
    I'm sure some Linux experts will say I'm just stupid, but I tried to install Hardy Heron on a fairly stock, high-end Dell desktop earlier today.

    Results?

    1) It was unable to use my RAID controller to install onto the existing RAID-1 array. It insisted on being installed on a single drive. To get it to boot at all, I had to completely break the RAID volume.

    2) It was unable to use my wireless card. It didn't see it at all, so it wasn't in the "connections" menu.

    3) It failed to notice that I have a dual-head video card with two screens attached. The second screen was a mirror of the first during boot, but after boot it turned into a fantastic mosaic of random-colored 80x25 random-ASCII.

    As far as I can tell, none of these problems were addressable via the provided system configuration tools.

    If there were solutions, they were too hard to find to even consider it being "ready for the masses".

    Unix for the masses is here, and it's called OS X. Hardy Heron is difficult to use, poorly documented junk.
  • by kylehase (982334) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:25PM (#23096594)

    To make an OS available to the 'casual user' you have to make some decisions for them.

    Linus hates this and has sworn off Gnome because he feels Gnome makes too many decisions for the user. He feels that the Gnome project is taking the stance that the users are stupid [linux-foundation.org] but unfortunately this may be just the thing to get Linux desktops into the public mainstream and is part of why Ubuntu is so successful.

    Users need a machine that just works out of the box and since Vista doesn't this is a great opportunity for Linux.

  • Re:MP3s (Score:4, Informative)

    by soupdevil (587476) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:32PM (#23096676)
    yes, though you have to click through a couple of dialog boxes for legal reasons. No more difficult than installing a plugin on your browser for Flash or Silverlight.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by roguetrick (1147853) <kazer@brIIIigands.org minus threevowels> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:36PM (#23096756) Homepage Journal
    I've bricked mine with that before, but its easy to fix the MBR.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:52PM (#23097004)
    Ha ha ha. No.

    Gentoo generally tries to be as "vanilla" as possible, and so while it provides some tools, it will do no configuration for you. It's an enjoyably liberating experience, but it does require work to get everything playing nicely together. Oh, and that's not to mention the occasional idiot dev who breaks things.
  • by markdavis (642305) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:56PM (#23097078)
    >Hardy Heron Making Linux Ready for the Masses?

    Yes, but no more so than Mandriva 2008.1. I installed it this past weekend and it is about as slick as I have seen any Linux installation thus far. Everything just "works", and works well. It is gorgeous, fast, easy to use, seamlessly knit together, simple to update, loaded with helpful admin tools, and full of packages.

    It is nice to know there are many decent choices for a high quality Linux desktop experience!
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:58PM (#23097124)
    There are many issues with the grub boot loader and it is well documented. It is actually quite easy to mess up your system and make it appear to be bricked.

    The most common version of this issue has to do with when a new kernel update occurs during a NORMAL ubuntu update. You click the orange star, choose update, let it download and install, then reboot and voila...no more access to any hard drive. It happens to my machine every single time.

    I have to get out my liveCD boot with it, mount the main HDD partition, go into the /boot/grub and edit the menu.lst to change everything back.

    If you have customized your menu.lst you will also have problems the next time a kernel update happens as the update will wipe out your customization, so if you have modified the menu.lst file to make change the order in which the menu displays your choices and which os is the default, that will be wiped out and you could loose access to one or more of your partitions (hence OSes). I have see this repeatedly, and in the latest situation I have had to turn off all updates so it didn't brick this retired gentleman's system.

    On my system it changes the hard drive number and I have to either boot with the livecd or remember to modify the menu.lst before I reboot the computer. Total pain.

    Now I'm not supporting the idea that the installer bricked his unit. It didn't. I'm saying that making this sort of error and letting it stand for years without being addressed and then tossing it back into the face of the user (who just might be a retired friend who knows little about computers) is not the way to go about marking your product.
  • Re:Commercial Gaming (Score:4, Informative)

    by tehdaemon (753808) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:59PM (#23097128)

    I did my taxes on linux this year... all online and all free. I had to ignore a 'your browser is unsupported' message, but it worked. (granted my taxes were simple)

    T

  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Peaker (72084) <gnupeaker@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:24PM (#23097484) Homepage
    Newbies don't install OS's.

    If they try to install Windows on their Ubuntu system, Windows will destroy their access to their Ubuntu partition with no questions asked.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to suggest those things in the manual, but its not big enough of a deal for Ubuntu or Windows to do it.

    Either put up with the (admittedly horrible) norms of reliability in the computing world, or improve it yourself. There is nothing to gain by bitching about it for so long.

  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mweather (1089505) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:29PM (#23097548)
    Have you ever tried installing Windows on a PC with Linux already installed? It'll lock you out of Linux every single time. And that's not an error, it's by design.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Peaker (72084) <gnupeaker@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:32PM (#23097588) Homepage

    Now I'm not supporting the idea that the installer bricked his unit. It didn't. I'm saying that making this sort of error and letting it stand for years without being addressed and then tossing it back into the face of the user (who just might be a retired friend who knows little about computers) is not the way to go about marking your product.
    It worked for Windows, which just eliminates the previous MBR without asking any questions at all.

    Somehow, Ubuntu is being flamed for this, even though it puts a lot more effort into playing nice with other OS's than Windows - which nobody seems to criticize here at all.
  • Yeah. Apple even tells you how it's done. http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106594 [apple.com] And wireless obviously works everytime.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Twigmon (1095941) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:39PM (#23097688) Homepage
    You're changing the wrong parts of grub's menu.lst. Next time have a read through the instructions at the top of the file, just under

    ### BEGIN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST

    And.. don't change anything between:

    ## ## End Default Options ##

    and

    ### END DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST

    Feel free to put additional definitions after the end of that block, and to change the way the other definitions are defined, adjust the 'comments' above the block.

    Then, once you've done that, run 'grup-update' to apply your changes and see if it was what you were after. I usually make one change:

    I change #howmany to #howmany=2 (that way I still have one history in case the new kernel doesn't work).

    Hopefully that makes life easier for you...
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:42PM (#23097736)
    Bad luck i'm guessing. I got an inspiron 9300 (Dell) when they 1st came out. It ran wireless fine off of a live gentoo cd. Then i tried ubuntu like 1year later which also worked fine, and i've had it run on a suse live cd even. Though my brother with a different dell was unable to use wirless out of the box he needed to install a fix for his card.

    I think this is more a market share issue. When linux gains in numbers i believe companies might start to pay attention and have linux drivers released.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DittoBox (978894) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:52PM (#23097854) Homepage
    'Bricking' is when you fubar your BIOS upgrade, or touch a hot wire to some random contact on your motherboard. It means the whole thing is totally and utterly up a creek and it can't be rescued at all.

    Rendering your system unbootable however is something else entirely. Although you may have screwed up the data on your hard drive to the point of no (or really expensive) recovery the system as a wholeâ"and even the driveâ"are/is still 100% usable with a little bit of work; mostly/all in software.

    Unbootable != bricked.
  • Re:I agree (Score:2, Informative)

    by GaryPatterson (852699) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:58PM (#23097926)
    Couldn't be simpler.

    I plug a new monitor in and it just works.

    It seems to me that a *fifteen minute* process with instructions could be a lot simpler.

    Not that Linux hasn't improved vastly over the years, but it's nowhere near simple. Some people like that. Most don't.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by bonhomme_de_neige (711691) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:58PM (#23097928) Homepage

    The most common version of this issue has to do with when a new kernel update occurs during a NORMAL ubuntu update. You click the orange star, choose update, let it download and install, then reboot and voila...no more access to any hard drive. It happens to my machine every single time.

    Why not set the kernel-related packages to 'hold' status? Then, they won't be automatically updated (the updater will say "package X has been held back" or something to that effect).

    When you're in the mood to update the kernel and perform all the liveCD booting that entails, you can manually update that package (unhold, install new version, hold again).

    Meanwhile, you can still leave automatic update on to get all other updates automatically without fear that you might be in for a surprise dose of liveCD booting and MBR fixing (which I agree is very annoying if you had stuff to get done when it happens).

  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Godji (957148) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @08:39PM (#23098300) Homepage
    If you read the comments in menu.lst, you would notice that you are supposed to customize kernel parameters etc. in the commented out sections of menu.lst. On kernel upgrade, the software management system actually looks at those commented out sections and applies your customizations on the kernel boot lines, which it maintains itself.

    If you customize on the uncommented actual boot lines, then yes, the customizations will be overwritten, because the computer has no way to know which part of the line need to be changed, and which should stay. That's what the commented sections are for.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:2, Informative)

    by loafula (1080631) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:26PM (#23098782)
    *ahem* fixmbr
  • Re:Ubuntu Webserver (Score:2, Informative)

    by Aehgts (972561) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:41PM (#23098890) Homepage Journal

    Webserver? Ubuntu is a DESKTOP system. It doesn't have server install wizards. If you want advanced wizards, then you need a full featured Linux distribution like Mandriva or Suse.
    Have a look on the Ubuntu download page [ubuntu.com] and note the 'Server Edition' [ubuntu.com] radio buttons.
    The server edition is aimed at headless servers and offers task package options such as DNS, Fileserver, LTSP & LAMP during the process.
    There's also an even slimmer version [ubuntu.com] for virtualised appliances.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:2, Informative)

    by ldj (726828) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:07PM (#23099134)

    You seem to be missing the point that the parent is talking about configuration scripts only because the GP was talking about problems with the configuration script. The Joe Sixpacks out there do not need to deal with configuration scripts unless they choose to. The system will work just fine and is quite configurable through the GUI without ever needing to hand-edit a configuration script.

    Time to come up with some new criticisms, as "newbies required to hack configuration files" is quite out of date.

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:41PM (#23099396)
    Especially when, god forbid, your driver isn't Digitally Signed and Certified by Microsoft, at which point Vista just refuses to install it.

    (1) MS isn't directly involved with driver signing; you get keys from Verisign
    (2) "Only" the x64 editions of Vista refuse to load drivers that aren't signed
  • Re:No, and No (Score:2, Informative)

    by sammyF70 (1154563) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:57PM (#23099960) Homepage Journal

    Please show me where I can get any GUI application for Linux that will let me customize the action of every button on my 10-button Bluetooth Logitech mouse. I'd be willing to pay for a good one, even.

    BTNX [ollisalonen.com]

    Using a Logitech MX Revolution (the one with the funky flywheel and the sub-par batteries) on Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy right now ... and have been without any problems for 6 months or so. It worked out of the box (2 buttons and the flywheel). The rest of the myriad of buttons were set using BTNX

    oh ... and you don't even have to pay for it.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@dan t i a n . org> on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:36AM (#23100258)
    Last time I installed Windows, it always warned when formatting.

    Yeah, but it overwrites the MBR without asking and without offering a way to boot the other OS.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@dan t i a n . org> on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:56AM (#23100406)
    You're changing the wrong parts of grub's menu.lst.

    I was about to write that too, but I don't think this will help him. He is talking about changing "default num", which is at the top of the file. Of course, I doubt that the system simply overwrites a changed config file, it always asks.

    That said, I see that there is now an option in the location of the file that you described that will do what OP wants. This might be new in Hardy, though:

    ## should update-grub adjust the value of the default booted system
    ## can be true or false
    # updatedefaultentry=false
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by msromike (926441) * <mike@msrMENCKENo.net minus author> on Thursday April 17, 2008 @02:42AM (#23100994)
    Bricked means unrecoverable by the end user. Being bricked means going back to the manufacturer for repair.

    A system that can have the OS recovered or at least reinstalled by using a Linux live CD or a Windows CD is not bricked by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Re:the eeePC is (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2008 @03:02AM (#23101082)
    I bought one of the EeePC's for my sister-in-law for Christmas, and you know what? It's amazingly good. Everything about the system works, and in some ways it works even better than my 3 year old Compaq laptop with WindowsXP. It ---really--- is that good. My only complaint is that being such a small formfactor, it's more difficult to type on it than on my Ubuntu desktop w/ a G15 or my Compaq laptop. But I attribute that to the fact I have gigantic, Neandrathal hands and prefer to type rather than hunt-and-peck.

    The OS is amazingly well designed, and "just works". I wouldn't dream of farking that system up by putting WinXP on it (it ships with drivers so you can do that if you want).

    Linux is here for the masses, but Ubuntu isn't yet. I like Ubuntu, but there are complaints I have that aren't going away anytime soon: My G15's features aren't supported whatsoever beyond the A-Z and 0-9 keys, some weird sound issues with a Audigy 2 from a fresh install (but no issues with WinXP), and setting up the 22" widescreen is a HUGE PITA from a fresh install. I've only used Ubuntu for about 3 weeks now.....can you imagine my frustration trying to edit xorg (or even knowing that's what I needed to do) to get the monitor working at all from a fresh install?

    Think back when you weren't a Linux geek. New install, no graphics modes working in 7.10. What the hell do you do first to fix it? Fix stuff like that, and Ubuntu is ready too.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Khaed (544779) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @03:06AM (#23101088)
    1440x90

    Whoa! Really? That is one weird monitor you got.

    And to answer your questions:

    My webcam worked easier in Ubuntu than Windows XP.
    My TV Tuner worked easier in Ubuntu than Windows XP.
    And my laptop was pretty easy to get working with 1280x800
    Never tried a temp sensor.
    You didn't ask, but my printer worked MUCH better in Ubuntu than XP (somehow, Windows glitched and printed 20 pages of gibberish on the install when I hit "print test page" and got up to get something to drink, figuring now was a good time after setting up most of XP from a fresh install... I haven't risked wasting toner to fix it and just print from Linux)

    I won't argue that it's easier than Mac OS X -- never used it -- but I will say it worked for me better than Windows XP. (before ubuntudupe or anyone replies yapping at me, please note the "for me" clause there...)
  • by Cathbard (954906) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @04:02AM (#23101366)
    I have no problems at all with photoship on linux under wine. Dreamweaver works fine too. GTA4? So it's a games machine you want? Perhaps what you really need is an xbox.

    It's been quite a while since I haven't been able to get drivers for stuff, most of them were already there and required no hunting around at all. In fact I've had to hunt around the internet for drivers for xp installations for equipment where my linux installs just worked far more frequently. And then there's Vista - it won't play most avi's unless you hunt up something like vlc so it's no worse than having to find out how to install codecs on linux. If you are using ubuntu you don't even have to do that. And, well, lets face it, vista is the worst thing M$ have produced since dos4 and they want me to empty my bank account for the drm ridden pos when I can run debian for free???

    You raise me a pc mag application, I'll up you the ante with thousands of apps in the repos that install with a single click, and they didn't even cost the price of a magazine. I need broadband? I do ok on an isdn connection but you have to fill your tank and drive to the shops (again, with wallet in hand) or hand out your credit card details over the net and still have to download some bloatware or wait for the postman.

    It isn't linux that isn't ready for the desktop, it's windows.

  • Re:No, not really (Score:4, Informative)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @04:10AM (#23101398)
    Linux Games..

    http://savage2.s2games.com/main.php [s2games.com]
    http://www.eve-online.com/ [eve-online.com]
    http://www.wesnoth.org/ [wesnoth.org]
    http://www.flightgear.org/ [flightgear.org]
    http://www.freeciv.org/ [freeciv.org]
    http://www.sauerbraten.org/ [sauerbraten.org]
    http://www.scorched3d.co.uk/ [scorched3d.co.uk]
    http://wz2100.net/ [wz2100.net]
    http://www.cubeengine.com/ [cubeengine.com]
    http://lincity-ng.berlios.de/ [berlios.de]
    http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    http://www.wormux.org/ [wormux.org]
    http://www.secretmaryo.org/ [secretmaryo.org]
    http://www.ufoai.net/ [ufoai.net]
    http://www.bzflag.org/ [bzflag.org]
    http://tremulous.net/ [tremulous.net]
    http://www.eternal-lands.com/ [eternal-lands.com]
    http://www.enemyterritory.com/ [enemyterritory.com]

    Perhaps you could stop with the "No games for Linux" BS already as you obviously have your head up your ass.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by neurovish (315867) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @09:51AM (#23103620)
    I'm bored enough to argue pedantics this morning. According to the etymology of the word, something is "bricked" when it becomes like a brick; that is a solid and un-operable item best used as a paperweight, doorstop, or building material if you are so inclined. It is very similar to a "coaster" when referring to a burned CDR or DVD (and expanded to any disc these days) that is rendered unreadable. Since a computer with a bad MBR can be recovered via user intervention, even if it requires the user to go to the local software store and buy Norton Disk Doctor or whatever is en vogue with kids these days, it most definitely does not serve the same function as a brick.

    The first time I heard the term, it was used to refer to DD-WRT installation. In this case, the only way to rewrite the OS of a commodity wireless router is through the router's own internal software update mechanism, which requires an existing functional OS. It does not have the capability of booting from any external media. If you try re-writing the OS and encounter a failure which causes the device to no longer boot, then you no longer have any means to restore a functional OS to the device. At this time, there is no software in the world that will allow you to fix this problem (if there is, then I would welcome the news). Your only option is to send it back to the manufacturer and claim that it "just stopped working one day" and hope the price of doing this is less than the price of a new wireless router. Until such time, there is nothing you can do in a user serviceable manner to restore wireless routing functionality to the device.

We can predict everything, except the future.

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