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Why Top Linux Distros Are For Different Users 496

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-the-nubs dept.
Lucas123 writes "Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu Linux desktops may look alike, but they've got some important distinctions, like the fact that Fedora and Ubuntu use GNOME 2.28 (the latest version) for their default desktop, while openSUSE uses KDE 4.3.1. And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password. As of this version, however, local users will need to enter the root password before they can install software (as they do on almost all other Linux distributions).'"
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Why Top Linux Distros Are For Different Users

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:12PM (#30459790)

    Package management and an active online support/BBS/community. With those things you can do whatever you want with a little patience and research.

  • no root password? (Score:4, Informative)

    by burnin1965 (535071) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:20PM (#30459962) Homepage

    in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password

    huh?

    I've used every version of Fedora linux and before that I've used Red Hat Linux from version 4.2 until Fedora Core 1. I don't recall ever having the ability to install software without providing the root password. In fact, when this type of insecure feature was implemented in Fedora 12 it caused a huge uproar and the insecure feature was removed in an update.

  • Re:openSuse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Interoperable (1651953) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:24PM (#30460036)

    Although, it would be worthwhile to point out that openSuSE doesn't favor KDE over Gnome. It has fully integrated the SuSE environment into both. As I understand it, the decision to set the default selection to KDE is quite arbitrary at this point.

    I'll add that it's a fantastic distro for reasonably modern computers. Yast is a great tool, but the whole thing is a bit too heavyweight for netbooks or old PCs.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:25PM (#30460052) Journal

    It's not just users. Applications still aren't being written to work properly with non-administrator accounts. I just installed SimplyAccounting 2010 on Windows XP and started getting weird errors poking around in it using a Limited Account, but switching to an Administrator account, no more errors.

  • Re:Who cares.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by greenguy (162630) <estebandido&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:31PM (#30460134) Homepage Journal

    I have to agree. I get annoyed when I hear people describe Ubuntu as distro that's appropriate for Linux newbies. It's not that that's untrue, it's that it sells Ubuntu short. It makes it sound like it's dumbed down somehow, and that after using it for a while, you'd want want to move on to something more advanced. That's simply not the case. All the advanced features are there, waiting for you, as soon as you're interested in them.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:37PM (#30460258) Homepage

    What I find funny is that I've been using Debian-based distros for many years, and I basically never enter the "root password" to install software or perform other maintenance tasks... I enter my own user password. Not that there's much difference between "access to the root password" and "being allowed to run anything in the sudoers file". Installing software is still a privileged operation.

    I take it they must mean without entering any password at all, as in unprivileged?

    Seems kinda dumb.

  • by The Snowman (116231) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:40PM (#30460288) Homepage

    It's not just users. Applications still aren't being written to work properly with non-administrator accounts. I just installed SimplyAccounting 2010 on Windows XP and started getting weird errors poking around in it using a Limited Account, but switching to an Administrator account, no more errors.

    I agree, the problem with Windows is not so much the OS itself but poorly written applications.

    One of the largest examples is World of Warcraft. After five years, it still insists on storing all of its data in its program directory. I actually had to install it outside of Program Files to get it to work on Vista, even with UAC turned off and logged in as Administrator (the account, not an account in that group).

    I think more software developers need to look at Firefox, a good example. Data, including plugins, are kept in the user's home. Different users can have different plugins and data, and everything just works even on a properly-secured system.

    Blizzard can even download the source code to figure out basic stuff like "where to put files" because after all these years of writing Windows games, they still lack that basic knowledge.

  • by NoYob (1630681) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:47PM (#30460394)
    Their support of development tools stinks compared to fedora and on Ubuntu (9.10), the Qt environment has compatibility issues with the Ubuntu "supported" packages. I had issues getting headers files and assorted build environments to work.

    I went back to fedora because it was easier and much quicker than fixing Ubuntu's mistakes.

  • Re:Wiser? WTF (Score:4, Informative)

    by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:55PM (#30460522)

    Actually the Fedora assumption was the exact opposite: That we can't expect to pop up a dialog asking the user for the root password to approve the installation of software, and have the user make the right decision every time. It is better to make a list of safe software which can't compromise an installation, and allow the user to install that without prompts.

    This is not without problems, but once it is done right, the system will be less dependent on users making the right choices.

  • by radish (98371) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:27PM (#30461066) Homepage

    Well it is my experience. I just put Win 7 on all my machines at home, including the couple which were running Ubuntu Desktop. The UI is better (no really, it is), the install was easier (again, really) and laptop battery life was better in at least one case. I still have Ubuntu on my server because the very idea of a Windows server makes me feel a little ill, but for the desktop Win 7 does everything I need easily and cleanly. Of course I'm not everyone, and I'm glad there are options.

    Out of interest, which version of Windows were you trying to install, and how old is the laptop? The only problems I had with 7 were on an older laptop which Intel mysteriously refuse to release drivers for. I got it working reasonably easily with a generic driver but Aero doesn't work.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:28PM (#30461070)

    I actually like WoW's way of doing things: want to backup/restore WoW, or put it on antoher PC ? just copy WoW's dir. No dependencies. No DLL Hell. No registry hacks. Want to wipe it ? Delete the directory.

    I wish all programs worked that way and were that easy to manage.

    BTW, Data and program files are segregated in separate subdirs. User data, too.

  • Re:Who cares.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by tubeguy (141431) <joe@tu[ ]uy.org ['beg' in gap]> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:29PM (#30461098)
    I'm Morgan Freeman.
  • by fluxdvd (264109) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:51PM (#30461454)

    To my knowledge (I've been using Fedora since its inception), Fedora has always required root credentials, or the user be in the sudoers list to install software packages. Only in Fedora 12 was that not the default behavior, and there was a BIG uproar over that change (see the VERY lengthy discussion on this issue on the RedHat Bugzilla report - https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=534047), which has since change the default behavior BACK to requiring root credentials to install software.

  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Neil Hodges (960909) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:02PM (#30461600)

    Ever tried using a 15" laptop with 1600x1200 resolution? The text is impossible to read. Most people run these at much lower resolutions than the hardware is capable of running at. The same is true of people with poor eyesight.

    It's called increasing the font DPI. I do that on my 15" laptop which has a screen resolution of 1920x1200, and my eyesight is terrible. If you aren't using bitmap fonts, it should work just fine.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:46PM (#30462432) Homepage Journal

    Installing/uninstalling applications is still much different and more confusing in Linux.

    Are you talking about applications in general or only those that aren't in the distribution's repository? Synaptic makes it fairly easy to install and uninstall software on Ubuntu; it puts the Add back in Add/Remove Programs.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:59PM (#30462700) Homepage Journal

    It's called increasing the font DPI.

    Then you have to deal with

    • poorly-tested yet necessary apps whose layout breaks at high DPI,
    • apps that don't resize all elements including icons and other graphics,
    • apps that use ugly nearest-neighbor resampling for graphics, and
    • apps whose response time slows down proportionally to the number of pixels in the window.
  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:17PM (#30463052) Homepage Journal

    Ever tried using a 15" laptop with 1600x1200 resolution? The text is impossible to read

    If your text is too small to read, it's because your text is too small. You don't need fewer pixels per screen; you need more pixels per character. Fix your fonts, and it'll be easier to read than switching to a lower res.

    I'm not arguing people shouldn't be able to change resolutions, but damn that's a dumb example.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:21PM (#30463122) Homepage Journal

    Linux doesn't have 'the wheel'. Ubuntu, at least, has a group called admin. Some linux distributions have a wheel group but I've never seen it actually used for anything by default, I think it was just there so that programs expecting it would not choke.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:25PM (#30463176) Homepage

    No, it's just plain broken. I tried to fix it, but they now enforce the character limit even including html, and I'm too lazy to actually come up with a different one. Oh wells.

  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:29PM (#30463240) Homepage

    Ask the average WinDOS user how they change the resolution on their machine.

    Chances are that they can't tell you because they have never done it in their life.

    Most Windows users have never bothered and most Linux users have never bothered. So both groups of users would likely not be able to tell you off the top of their heads what the shiny happy easy tool is in their respective operating systems for doing this.

    That doesn't mean that it isn't there.

  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:3, Informative)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:40PM (#30463446)

    "Ever tried using a 15" laptop with 1600x1200 resolution? The text is impossible to read"

    Make the text bigger. If you can't then there is a problem with the software.

  • by Neil Hodges (960909) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:47PM (#30463586)

    And if you lower the screen resolution, you have to deal with blurriness on LCDs (non-native resolutions) that may make it even harder to look at.

    I know I get headaches if I'm using anything more than a VGA console at a non-native resolution on LCDs.

  • by Delkster (820935) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:34PM (#30467114)

    They could place all actual program files (everything that was put there during installation) in a single system-wide folder in Program Files and all user-specific things (preferences, caches, whatever needs to be modified when running the game) in a single folder inside the user's personal folder.

    That would allow for an easy backup or transfer of the entire installation (including personal preferences etc.) since there would still be only two folders to back up (assuming one user who plays the game), and it would also allow the game to be run as a non-admin user.

    That's approximately how it would be done on unix anyway...

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