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What Needs Fixing In Linux

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the or-what-needs-breaking-in-windows dept.

Operating Systems 865

An anonymous reader writes "Infoweek's Fixing Linux: What's Broken And What To Do About It argues that the 17-year-old open-source operating system still has problems. Leading the list is author Serdar Yegulap's complaint that the kernel application binary interfaces are a moving target. He writes: 'The sheer breadth of kernel interfaces means it's entirely possible for something to break in a way that might not even show up in a fairly rigorous code review.' Also on his list of needed fixes are: a consistent configuration system, to enable distribution; native file versioning; audio APIs; and the integration of X11 with apps. Finally, he argues that Linux needs a committee to insure that all GUIs work consistently and integrate better on the back-end with the kernel."

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Problems: (0, Flamebait)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943701)

How about the fact that there are way too many distrobutions, some of which are separated by nothing more than ideological lines?

Re:Problems: (3, Funny)

f1vlad (1253784) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943785)

But how would you avoid that? Set up some sort of world regulation on distros? Tax it? :) It's just a natural thing.

Re:Problems: (5, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943975)

It's a cultural thing. There's a difference between designing a distro for a need (I.E., embedded, desktop, server, special applications) and going gun-ho into creating a new distro organization for nearly every new feature.

That's the problem that I see with all of these niche distros. Many rarely see a user, simply because they're either indistinguishable from their dozen other competing niche variants or their features are already blanket covered by another distro.

Re:Problems: (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944431)

But you didn't answer his question. What to do about it?

Re:Problems: (4, Insightful)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943805)

That is not a bug. It's a feature.

Re:Problems: (-1, Troll)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943841)

And the prisoner comes to love his chains.

Re:Problems: (2, Insightful)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944325)

Yup. That's an idea, let's break out of the prison of choice into the bright new freedom of the one true windows dictatorship.

*yawn* another tired argument (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25943827)

The vast majority of Linux distributions each are trying to achieve something different. People like you want only a handful of distinct distributions. If we had that, we wouldn't have Linux, we'd have Windows v2.

See: Linux is NOT Windows [oneandoneis2.org]

Re:Problems: (2, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943913)

How about the fact that there are way too many distrobutions, some of which are separated by nothing more than ideological lines?

I would agree with this. When talking to grandma about trying Linux since all she wants to do is check e-mail, look at pictures of the grand kids and keep her MySpace page updated, you get the question thrown back..."why so many different ones? Are they all different?"

Second item...pick one desktop. GNOME, KDE...whatever. Just pick one.

Third item...attitude of Linux supporters. Stop being so darn elitist! You want people to use it, then be friendly about it. The best way to turn someone off to Linux is to come off sounding like a zealot or an extremist.

It comes down to this summary: Windows users are not used to choice, thus, don't give them any. Market linux to them as more secure. Be honest about some devices not working, explaining that the Microsoft marketing machine is simply more powerful, but Linux will get there someday. We should be able to point the average Windows user to "Linux", a single cohesive product.

For the now, it is a religious battle by a bunch of zealous extremists. Get off your high horses and get to the business of taking over the world first...then argue about which distro was better.

Re:Problems: (4, Insightful)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944061)

The thing about Linux is no one can agree on one desktop, which is why there are more than one. Some people like the retardedly simple yet unconfigurable Gnome, some people like the super advanced yet buggy KDE, and some people don't care and use XFCE because it's fast. No matter which one you choose, a lot of people won't be happy, and the beauty of an open source operating system is you can't force them to use one they don't want. And if distributions being so different is a problem, don't tell your grandma to get Linux, tell her to get Fedora, or Ubuntu, or SUSE. Your argument is from the view of someone who doesn't understand the entire point of open source software. Linux users don't want our choices taken away. There are definitely issues they need to work with, like choosing one package format, but getting rid of all choices is not what's going to make Linux better.

Re:Problems: (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944141)

Doesn't choosing 'just one' of anything increase vulnerability due to lack of diversity?

Re:Problems: (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944307)

The idea that the purpose of Linux, and Open Source in general, is to beat Microsoft has done more damage to the movement than just about anything else. It forces people to think in terms of how to obtain market share rather than how to improve software and advance the cause of free software.

The biggest single advantage of the free software model is the ability to innovate quickly, because there are more people working on it, and those people have more freedom to tinker around without having to worry about being profitable this quarter. However, since the vast majority of people in the movement these days seem to be primarily concerned with copying Microsoft products in order to beat them at their own game, real innovation is being stifled.

The fact that most major Linux distributions come with a default desktop that mimics Windows in many ways is testament to this fact. It's time to face facts: For most people, it's never going to be the year of Linux on the desktop, and that shouldn't be regarded as a failure to anyone. The end goal of free software is not to defeat Microsoft. Free software is a goal in and of itself.

Re:Problems: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944421)

A few years ago you might have had a point, but now the standard "Granny" answer is quite clearly something like "Yes, there's all these different versions with various (effectively minor) technical differences but Ubuntu is just fine for what you want."

If Granny later needs a new PC she can even have a cheap Dell desktop/laptop/netbook with Ubuntu pre-installed. She doesn't have to think about Gnome vs. KDE - she'll get the default (Gnome) and not even know about it.

Ubuntu: The best choice for those who don't want to have to choose.

Oh, and re the "elitist attitude" you won't find that on the Ubuntu forums.

new mascot (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25943709)

I'm tired of that penguin

Re:new mascot (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944369)

I propose a way to show that Linux is an OS for rebels. Maybe a little guy with horns and a pitchfork to show how we're a little bit evi....

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Re:new mascot (3, Funny)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944385)

I vote for Chilly Willy [wikipedia.org]

One thing is for certain. (4, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943715)

I am sure that only sane, rational, and courteous debate will follow. Finally an argument-free thread!

Re:One thing is for certain. (5, Funny)

armer (533337) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943771)

I am sure that only sane, rational, and courteous debate will follow. Finally an argument-free thread!

I disagree you insensitive clod!!!

Re:One thing is for certain. (3, Funny)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943819)

Sorry, this is abuse.

Re:One thing is for certain. (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944215)

No it isn't.

Re:One thing is for certain. (1)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944375)

Yes it is.

Re:One thing is for certain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944271)

Video and audio need to be OUT of the kernel!

Yeah! A committee will do it! (1, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943721)

Because group-think is the way to go!

And they'll figure out how to impose their will on the individual programmers.

????

PROFIT?

Re:Yeah! A committee will do it! (3, Insightful)

rhoderickj (1419627) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943961)

No, a committee should be responsible for setting standards, similar to how the W3C sets standards for the web. Standards are good. Besides, sometimes programmers need to have their ego reigned in and given some direction. ;)

All your Linux Standard Base are belong to... (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944031)

No, a committee should be responsible for setting standards, similar to how the W3C sets standards for the web.

There is already Linux Standard Base. But what real influence does the LSB Workgroup have in the GNU/Linux ecosystem?

Re:Yeah! A committee will do it! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944191)

Yeah this is pretty asinine. The whole premise behind this article is that Linux needs to be fixed by taking away the very freedom and flexibility that has made it a success.

Let me be the first to say... (3, Insightful)

JackassJedi (1263412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943725)

that Linux IS pretty much a mess, it's just that there enough hands around at all times to fix quickly enough whenever something breaks. That's pretty much how it works at the moment and this could be better indeed.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944357)

Linux IS pretty much a mess

I agree. And that's the way I like it.

there enough hands around at all times to fix quickly enough whenever something breaks

Yep. And that's exactly why Open Source and Linux are superior. It's the law: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" [wikipedia.org] .

Problem #1 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25943731)

the users

Re:Problem #1 (2, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943885)

Actually Linux's biggest problem is the vast majority of it's coders complete and utter contempt for "the user".

A gui that doesn't suck anus (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25943747)

feee yeah

Re:A gui that doesn't suck anus (0, Offtopic)

drdaz (994457) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943945)

feee yeah

This is insightful? If it is, I have no idea why...

Re:A gui that doesn't suck anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25943997)

Seconded and signed.
There is absolutely nothing that Apple and Microsoft need to learn from the various linuxy GUIs.
Except virtual desktops, which is broken IMO in mac os x.*

*specifically, not being able to configure the movement hotkeys to anything besides arrow keys and some modifiers, and not focusing on the correct application: have a finder window underneath say a terminal, hotkey switch to a blank desktop and then back, now the finder window will be on top. This odd behaviour doesn't happen using the fullscreen desktop picker.

Re:A gui that doesn't suck anus (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944379)

if you're posting anonymously, you're not actually signing. Anyhow, when swapping spaces, OS X keeps the current application active (and focused) if it has a window in the new space. When you switch to a blank workspace, finder becomes active by default, so switching back will focus the finder windows. There might be a setting (new as of one the updates earlier this year) pertaining to that behavior.

Please let us know when the author is done (5, Funny)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943775)

I am so happy that he has volunteered to do this. I was afraid that the article might be about wanting someone ELSE to do the work.

Re:Please let us know when the author is done (-1, Troll)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944025)

Open source will continue to suck for Joe User until the cats start choosing to move in a direction to make open source stop sucking for Joe User.

Your attitude, and by extension you, are the problem. Not the article author.

Re:Please let us know when the author is done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944189)

Who says open source /wants/ to be anywhere near Joe User?

Re:Please let us know when the author is done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944071)

Right, because all of those distributions have so much money to allure all of those talented programmers away from places like Microsoft, Apple, and Sun.

Linux isn't gaining momentum mainly because the zealots like you ruined it with that attitude that every single computer user should be a programmer and contribute to the MESS that is known as Linux.

Sometimes people just want, you know, a system that works for what they need. Something without requiring them to have a 4yr degree in csci to "quickly code required missing feature that exists in non-free OS but not linux because of NDA's or lack of interest by zealots."

But I digress. Sarcasm is totally the way to get things done rapidly with great success.

Re:Please let us know when the author is done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944293)

and then, they could buy windows. you get what you pay for, you know? linux works for computer worshipper because it's built from computer whorshipper (pun intended). if my grandma wants to use linx, she is free to try, and if she fail, she could as well buy windows which has the same level of support (call microsoft to tell tehm to teach you office, for free) or write her mail using a pencil.
mobody forces linux on anybody. if you don't like it, get off the linux lawn

Re:Please let us know when the author is done (1)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944427)

Yeah, because standards and ideas are so overrated...

Seriously, grow up. This is a well written article with some great ideas that would really benefit Linux if they were adopted by the main distros.

Re:Please let us know when the author is done (4, Insightful)

sukotto (122876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944477)

So many people tut and say "Someone should do something", but so few step forward and say "...and that someone is me"
-- Terry Prattchet

What linux ACTUALLY needs (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943791)

Is more vendor support. Every supposed real problem with Linux is based on or related to a problem with a driver; nine times out of ten this problem is caused by the manufacturer being unwilling or unable to release specifications. The various vendors out there need to realize that Linux may not be the future, but it's a more likely future than Windows, and they need to put some effort into support. Of course, some of them have, and if you reward them by purchasing their hardware, they may do more of it. Regardless, having multiple GUIs isn't actually a real problem - it's an opportunity, not a setback, and meanwhile you can trivially use libqt to draw GTK+ apps [ubuntu.com] or use GTK+ to draw widgets for libqt programs [launchpad.net] (Sorry I haven't updated in a while, my last build FAILED on the build servers but worked at home, and it was a compiler error, NOT a library I forgot to specify. Nice work, Ubuntu!)

Re:What linux ACTUALLY needs (2, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943919)

This is probably the big reason that commercial OSs are popular. When traditional businessmen hand over information to another company they can accompany that with a contract that can through the legal system leverage some pain against the other business if the information is used against the company rather than for it. How are you going to do that against open-source? It is their job to protect the company from the competition. If they fail to do that then they can lose thier paycheck. To convince them that it is an opportunity means you need a briefcase, a suit, and a good proposal, not an email or even a thousand emails...

Re:What linux ACTUALLY needs (3, Insightful)

karstux (681641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944187)

If Linux had a stable interface for binary non-free drivers, we might see more support from the vendors. It's not a crime to not want to disclose your hardware.

Re:What linux ACTUALLY needs (2, Interesting)

roggg (1184871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944197)

I'm with you. If my laptop Broadcom wireless worked out of the box on Ubuntu, I'd be using that instead of Windows. I used to know plenty about setting up a Linux system (back in the 90s), but I have better things to do with my time than figuring out how to make something work that should "just work" after installation.

I don't see it getting better. I don't really see a lot of money for vendors in better supporting Linux. Personally I don't care enough about the OS to buy hardware based on Linux support. Hardware shopping for me is about comparing price vs capabilities. It should be a given that the machine will work. I'm at the point now where if I ever buy another "Unix" system, it will almost certainly be a Mac.

How can Linux win me back? Whatever machine I bring home from Best Buy has to "just work" at the end of the install/config program. Is that too much to ask for?

Re:What linux ACTUALLY needs (0, Flamebait)

Octorian (14086) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944337)

To follow this up, the *real* problem is that Linux lacks a stable binary kernel driver interface. When a driver build on Linux 2.4.XY-foocrap won't work on a system running Linux 2.4.YX-horsehockey, the only kind of drivers that are ever practical are open-source part-of-the-kernel-source-tree drivers.

This leads to a very annoying duality of Linux driver support... Either it JFW out-of-the-box, or its a royal PITA to ever get it to work. Rarely is there ever a middle ground. Meanwhile, in the Windows world, users can (*gasp*) download *and* easily (*gasp*) install device drivers made and distributed by the hardware manufacturer. Sure, less hardware works out-of-the-box on a clean Windows installation, but you can actually get it working in a fairly straightforward manner.

Of course this really isn't a "Linux vs. Windows" argument, as much as it is a "Linux vs. Everything Else" argument. Having a stable binary kernel driver interface is the STANDARD, not the EXCEPTION.

The biggest problem is... (1, Insightful)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943795)

STOP BREAKING THINGS THAT WORK FINE

Take Gnome Password Protected Windows Network Share Browsing. Worked fine in Gnome 2.22, completely fucking broken in 2.24. Why? Because they changed to gvfs, decided to take out/omit authentication and now don't know how the fuck to fix it. And then you have CIFS which can't resolve Windows Computer Names on a network. What fucking idiot decided that in a world with a 90% Windows desktop market share that removing the ability to browse windows networks was a good idea?

OS (3, Funny)

ohxten (1248800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943881)

the 17-year-old open-source operating system

First person to make a fuss about this gets a prize!

Re:OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944163)

omgitsakernelnotanoperatingsystem

Re:OS (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944443)

Congratulations.

the problem with linux (4, Insightful)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943887)

the problem with linux, is that to many people want it to be to many things. there is no centralised effort to get it to do one thing.

there are several GUI solutions, rather than a centralised effort, there are several browsers gunning to be the main browser, there are several sound sub-systems/servers... why cant these people learn to play together, and come up with something that fits everybody.

i know i will get comments about "choice" its all about "choice", but its not, its not at all about choice to the common user... the common user want to switch the computer on, check their hotmail account, check facebook, and then talk to their friends on live messenger... THATS IT.... thats what the common computer user does now... they dont care how their computer does it, they dont care about the morality behind it, they dont care if the guy who made their file system killed his wife or not.. they dont even know what a file system is.

its only the very advanced users who care about these things, and im afraid to say, that these users dont even account for 1% of all computer users.

if linux based operating systems are to become as big as they want to be, they need to stop fighting among themselves and centralised their efforts. otherwise, we will be having this same story in another 17 years

Re:the problem with linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944155)

As you define it/them, Linux doesn't want to be the OS for the common user. Common users use Windows. Sure, you could try to make Linux common enough (Ubuntu?), but it won't work, as we all can see.

Re:the problem with linux (2, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944181)

I disagree... it IS about choice, but more importantly, the competition to be top dog keeps everybody on their toes, and they are all doing some great work.

I disagree that Linux is a mess, it's no more of a mess than Windows, and in many ways it's a lot better. We may have different distributions competing with each other, but MS OSs still have to compete with each other... XP, XP Pro, XP Media Center, Vista, Vista Ultimate.... all with at least slightly different capabilities.

GUI resposiveness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944335)

Point I noted is the GUI of linux is sluggish. when compared to windows.

Re:the problem with linux (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944345)

the common user want to switch the computer on, check their hotmail account, check facebook, and then talk to their friends on live messenger... THATS IT....

Unfortunately, that's not it. If it was, I could build a Linux distro that does these things (and ONLY these things) quite easily and it would be an enormous success. The common user wants to do these things plus "a few other things" that are generally very nebulously defined. Every distribution struggles with trying to meet all these requirements (when they do even try - some prefer to specialise to specific user types and just say "screw everyone else", which actually may not be a bad thing).

From my cold dead hands. (4, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943891)

and the integration of X11 with apps. Finally, he argues that Linux needs a committee to insure that all GUIs work consistently and integrate better on the back-end with the kernel.

Call me old fashioned or whatever the cute term is now. But fuck that! If I ever see programs like cp become bloated with X library calls because some news reporter needs to see a GUI progress bar, I'm going to be very angry.

Re:From my cold dead hands. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944205)

Quite so.

ANYONE that says GUI and kernel in the same sentence should be
tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. It doesn't
have to be Linux. These sorts of stupid, unscalable,
unmaintainable ideas are a threat to any modern OS, MacOS
included.

The "Linux GUI" doesn't just "belong" to Linux.

Ultimately, it shouldn't even be too "Unix centric".

Free Software is for everyone: Even Mac and Windows users.

Re:From my cold dead hands. (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944239)

No, I think you've got it all wrong... cp wouldn't have a GUI, but there'd be a GUI that could use cp. In other words, let's say there's a -verbose switch to cp that outputs text progress that a GUI applet could capture and display.

Re:From my cold dead hands. (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944285)

If I ever see programs like cp become bloated with X library calls because some news reporter needs to see a GUI progress bar, I'm going to be very angry.

Yes, because only news reporters want to know how some process is getting on; the rest of us have so much time we don't mind waiting all day only for something only to find out it stalled after the first 2 seconds.

NetworkManager (4, Insightful)

Xabraxas (654195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943893)

My biggest issue lately has been NetworkManager. It isn't absolutely necessary but wireless connections are quite annoying without it and more and more applications are becoming NetworkManager aware which means it is increasingly important to have it. It hasn't progressed that much since its inception and it's still not possible to configure most networking options to work with it. The NetworkManager homepage makes it clear that they are not interested in profiles, and their application makes it clear they are not interested in bridge interfaces or any other kind of advanced networking. So your options are to disable it and configure networking through your init scripts or deal with the extremely limited options of NetworkManager. My biggest complainst are that I cannot get a static IP on my home wireless while getting DHCP everywhere else and it's a real pain in the ass to set up bridged networking for use with a VM.

Re:NetworkManager (1)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944131)

Oh, mine doesn't work at all, I have to remove it and change the config file. That is one of the linux's weak points, upgrading often make thing break while they shouldn't break at all.

Workaround for static IP vs. DHCP (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944313)

My biggest complainst are that I cannot get a static IP on my home wireless while getting DHCP everywhere else

Then tell your home wireless to reserve an IP address for your laptop's MAC address. It's an option in the Netgear router I use.

This one, at least, starts to almost understand. (2, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943903)

Basically, what he seems to be complaining about is the lack of standards, and on this he has a point. But he clearly doesn't understand the difference between standard-as-implementation (the Microsoft way of doing things) and standard-as-protocol (the superior way).

You can see some examples of standard-as-protocol, for example, when he talks about kernel ABIs, audio APIs, and such. But most of what he speaks of is mere whining about how there isn't Just One Way to do something, calling for standard-as-implementation when that simply isn't necessary: for example, the single configuration format or the "tight integration" between X and the kernel.

How about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25943905)

It's users.

some flaws this arguement (3, Interesting)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943911)

1. Why is Linux blamed for configuration files that are written by application developers? Linux is a kernel and is not responsible for Sendmail. Further I fail to see how the point and click method of configuration is better than editing a text file than can be searched, backed up and version controlled.

2. Why is it the responsibility of Linux distribution maintainers to provide a means for commericial vendors to package their product? Vendors had to spend money to get certified for other operating systems. How about putting a little work into understanding and using a Linux distribution.

3. X freezing? Umm...

Perhaps I've just feed the troll but, I'm sure the pointy hairs will read the artical and think it's all true.

Re:some flaws this arguement (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944387)

I fail to see how the point and click method of configuration is better than editing a text file than can be searched, backed up and version controlled.

I can see how a version controllable config file is ultimately superior, but every such application should have a GUI to control this too. I am technically literate, but I'm not going to waste time learning parameter names and syntax every time I want to tweak something in one of my apps. The average user is certainly never going to do any such thing, and nor should they need to.

Re:some flaws this arguement (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944413)

1. Linux the kernel isn't responsible for sendmail, but Linux the distribution (by whatever name you use) is... Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, whatever.

2. Because we want vendors to package their product for Linux. Period. If they're not going to do it on their own dime, then we're not going to get it unless we do it ourselves. It'd be nice if Linux users planned their hardware purchases to only those hardware vendors who play nice, but most people already have their computers, most come built by a vendor, you have little choice what goes into it. Not me, maybe not you, but most people buy their computers that way because they don't know how to build it themselves.

3. ... don't really have many X related problems these days.

X session switching (1)

RossR (94714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943917)

The primary interface for most people is X. There needs to a way to switch between multiple X sessions as seamlessly as switching between console sessions.

Re:X session switching (1)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943973)

I'm not sure what you mean. Does Ctrl-Alt-F8, Ctrl-Alt-F9 not work for you?

Re:X session switching (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944113)

That's not terribly "seamless", and breaks on a lot of hardware even to this day. With the last version of Xorg I tried, it'd hang if I tried to move to another X session.

"But the drivers--" Doesn't matter. User doesn't care, user shouldn't care, fix it or you don't get the users.

Re:X session switching (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944295)

Fedora is fixing this. This has caused quite a flame war on the mailing lists, but at least Fedora plods on anyway.

Re:X session switching (2, Informative)

pizpot (622748) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944429)

You have to install it yourself, from a script, but x.game works perfectly for playing full screen games and being able to get back to the desktop quickly. After you install the x.game script, you just add "x.game start" to the front of your launcher commands such as this:

x.game start wine "/media/DATA/programs/Warcraft III/War3.exe"

Then you use ctrl+alt+f7 and ctrl+alt+f12 to pop in and out. Very handy if you need to adjust the volume. Also handy as a boss key! You leave the game, it keeps running, and there is no trace of it visually.

I use it every day for over a year, and recommend it. I got it from an ubuntu forum thread. Here is the link: http://sudan.ubuntuforums.com/showthread.php?t=699332 [ubuntuforums.com] Just take it from the first post, he edits it and it is up-to-date.

Desktop environment standards? Okay. (3, Informative)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 5 years ago | (#25943979)

http://www.freedesktop.org/ [freedesktop.org] is the link. Was that really so hard?

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944027)

Linux is a kernel! GNU/Linux is an OS. Joking aside, with seperate people develope different part of Linux, I don't think they can make it consistent, unless there is a "standard" for linux.

Third parties should make repos, not packages (5, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944029)

I'll leave others to comment on the rest of the article but I liked this one nugget:

One thing that might help is a kind of meta-package format: a file which, when downloaded, is run by a client native to the given distribution. The client then goes to the software repositories for the program maker and obtains all the right packages to make that program run on that particular machine.

We have the LSB, and distributions which make some effort to ship binary 'compat' packages, so that third parties can distribute their software in RPMv3 format (n.b. not the same format as currently used by RPM-based distros, which are on RPMv4) and it will just install and work on any i386 or x86_64 Linux system. But I wonder if that is slightly the wrong model. At the moment if you want some particular library you have the choice of statically linking it into your executable, or just relying on it being there in the target system; neither is very appealing.

For example, suppose you want GTK version 2.16 or later but LSB specifies an older GTK (actually, it specifies a set of interfaces, but that corresponds to a particular GTK version). You could statically link your app with gtk-2.16, or you could include your own private copy of the library to be stuck in /opt/myapp/libs, but then what about Fedora 10 which does include a new enough GTK?

Instead of providing a single RPM (or worse, lots of different binary RPMs for different distros), we should encourage vendors to set up a yum repository. Then to install their software you could add the third-party's repository to your software sources list and use the normal GUI tools to update and install packages. If they want to use some newer library which is not included in Ye Olde Enterprise Linux 1.1, then they can just add a package for that library to the repository, and it will be installed only on systems that need it. This also takes care of automatic updates, which are not provided if you just give people an RPM file to install manually.

Of course, we don't live in a world where you can just 'encourage' third-party software vendors to do things and they'll jump to it; otherwise Nvidia would long ago have released free drivers. So you need to make it as easy as possible to set up a repository for yum or apt-get or smart or whatever packaging tool distros are using. It needs to be trivially easy. So I would suggest enhancing yum and the other tools to work from a plain directory of rpm files served over http. Just dump the files on a webserver, let Apache serve the directory listing and let yum point to that and Just Work. Or, if that's too dirty for you, use a directory on an ftp site (which at least has a defined protocol for listing the files available).

I think a repository for package management programs like yum satisfies what the author is talking about when he asks for a 'meta-package'.

Linux is like Wikipedia (3, Interesting)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944043)

In the sense that there is little originality, and it seems anything added to linux has to have occurred in another operating system.

Linux/Unix has plenty shortcomings, but its evangelists believe it's so perfect it cannot be improved. Here is my short list of major peeves.
1. Filesystem metadata/permissions. Why do files still have to have rudimentary metadata? Drives are massive and a few bytes would not harm. MacOS has added metadata. An example would be that a file should be able to keep a list of all the dates it was accessed. Why can a file only have one owner/group?

2. Root is God. This must really be fixed. There should be a way for root to irrevocably divest its powers, and root does not need to access users file. A user should explicitly grant root permission to read his files. It will always be a major security issue because all one has to do is become root. Plan9 managed to do that.

3. They lie about everything is a file. Why not extend this to networking resources ('cd http://www.gnu.org/ [gnu.org] would be cool ). Plan9 also succeeded there.

I am sure linux evangelists are going to propose (hack-filled) workarounds or reasons it can't work, but I don't buy it. That is why I left linux.

Re:Linux is like Wikipedia (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944299)

> 1. Filesystem metadata/permissions. An example would be that a file should be able to keep a list of all the dates it was accessed.

Makes things slow. Most distros turn off logging the 'atime' (access time) because this requires writing to the disk on every read.

> Why can a file only have one owner/group?
To keep things simple, the GUI is kept this way. You can make it as complicated as want though with Access Control Lists - just like you do in Windows.
For a GUI way to set this, see something like: http://rofi.roger-ferrer.org/eiciel/?s=5

2. Root is God. This must really be fixed. There should be a way for root to irrevocably divest its powers, and root does not need to access users file.

This is called SELinux and is installed with pretty much every distribution. But for what you want, the users should instead use encrypted home directories.

> 3. They lie about everything is a file. Why not extend this to networking resources ('cd http://www.gnu.org/ [gnu.org] would be cool ).

This is called FUSE, and is included with every distribution.

Re:Linux is like Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944323)

Root is God. This must really be fixed. There should be a way for root to irrevocably divest its powers, and root does not need to access users file. A user should explicitly grant root permission to read his files. It will always be a major security issue because all one has to do is become root. Plan9 managed to do that.

SeLinux could do this...

Re:Linux is like Wikipedia (5, Interesting)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944381)

An example would be that a file should be able to keep a list of all the dates it was accessed.

Fixed already. Extra attributes have been available for a long time. Feel free to use them.

Root is God.

Fixed. SELinux.

Why not extend this to networking resources ('cd http://www.gnu.org/ [gnu.org] [gnu.org] would be cool ).

Hard to do in kernel space. We're getting there in user space.

I got plenty issues (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944047)

...and none of them are listed in this article. Most of these are lame rehashes of old stuff that just isn't important. How about stuff like flash not crashing on me every two minutes? A IM client that doesn't freeze on file transfers with native MSN clients (I've tried several and they just don't work), some real compatibility with MS Office (the locked excel sheet for travel expenses breaks every time and I have to unlock it to actually make it work), fix the dual screen setup so that it actually works, that the side buttons on my mouse would work without hacking xorg.conf, all the ways WINE fails me and so on. I don't care that there's plenty choices, I just want at least one choice that works...

X- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944051)

X crashes on me very often , Mostly when moving dragging graphical element and it crashes more in 1024 X 768 than it does in 800 X 600.the fault gives me a blank screen
In the log there is sometime a message X server has had a segmentation fault .
However sometimes there is no error
to regain operation, I must re boot . I consider this a MOST severe and unacceptable error
Playing a few Solitaire games in 1024 X 768 causes this Most often
What should I do ? the problem happens on Ubuntu 8.10
Yes I can run 8.04 , but like 8.10 I would like to fix it
Anyone have this problem as well?
A quick search says it's a bug , but I don't know if it has been resolved or not.
What if anything fixes it ?. This kind of error is what drives people Away from an OS,
and franky I did think about windows . If linux is to gain acceptance, this kind of dead computer error is Totaly unacceptable.

that's easy: USB, video and documentation (5, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944075)

The list's the same as it was 10 years ago - and will be in 10 years time.

USB barely works. It's OK for mass-storage devices, but sucks hugely for high-bandwidth devices, or anything that's removable - and gets removed.

Video: just as bad. Put these two together and you have a mess of non-functional webcams, video applications which sometimes hold together if you're prepared to spend hours and days hunting down just the rtight combination of codecs, libraries and applications.

However, the worst part of Linux is tha parlous state of the documentation. A morass of different styles: .man .info HOWTOs, html, text-files. Almost none is available in more than one language and hardly any is kept up to date. Even less is declared obsolete, to stop people trying techniques that haven't worked in years - but is still highly-linked to on the web.

Frequently, the best documentation for an application is the string command.

Re:that's easy: USB, video and documentation (0)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944319)

> USB barely works. It's OK for mass-storage devices, but sucks hugely for high-bandwidth devices, or anything that's removable - and gets removed.

What? You're joking right?

This aspect of USB has ALWAYS worked much better under Linux and continues to.

You will simply have to do better than vague FUD that contradicts the direct firsthand experience of a great many of us. ...not that USB and "high bandwidth" have any business being associated with each other anyways.

Re:that's easy: USB, video and documentation (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944467)

> Video: just as bad. Put these two together and you have a mess of non-functional webcams,
> video applications which sometimes hold together if you're prepared to spend hours and days
> hunting down just the rtight combination of codecs, libraries and applications.

Here's another one that falls under the category of persistent bogosity.

Modern distros sort out codecs, libraries and applications quite automatically.

They are head and shoulders above anything that Windows will subject you to. Even Vista is
crap in this respect when compared to a Linux desktop distribution. Linux handily beats
both OEM versions of Windows and pre-installed systems.

Don't try to bullshit us. Too many of us do Windows tech support for those around us.

Mebbe MacOS gets it right. Windows certainly doesn't.

flatbed scanners (3, Interesting)

viridari (1138635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944083)

I use Linux and FOSS almost exclusively for my photography workflow.

Almost.

See, when I work in film, I need to have a Mac around to handle the flatbed scanner. Because, unfortunately, Linux support for flatbed scanners really sucks rocks.

gimp has some shortcomings as well but I understand they are being actively addressed so I won't bitch about that.

Re:flatbed scanners (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944365)

photography workflow

Gay mac user eh. Say no more sir, say no more.

Hm (4, Insightful)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944091)

During the periods that I felt brave and tried out Linux, there were several things that brought me back to Windows.
  • Unix-like filesystem design and partitioning
  • Native ISV support w/o Wine (Adobe, etc.)
  • IHV support such as good drivers
  • Clear end-user documentation (bought SuSe, RedHat and the manuals gave me nightmares).
  • A full featured IDE like Visual Studio that's not Eclipse

I guess these are the main things without wasting too much time on this topic.

Well... (4, Insightful)

ralphweaver (1406727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944097)

... it depends heavily on what the goal is. If the goal is to overtake windows on the desktop, then largely, yes, I agree. However, linux is in good shape on the server, actually far better shape than Windows 2003 Server in reality. It's easier to manage, it's more reliable, it's cheaper, and harder to exploit. However, if linux is going to make a serious attempt at taking over desktop market share from Windows then there are two things that must be done-- simplistic flawless working audio. simplistic flawless working video. It takes many times more effort in linux to get audio and video working cleanly than it does in windows and until that changes there is no hope of linux gaining serious market share in the destop environment. (on the other side of that coin, once it's working in linux it never breaks unlike windows.. and you can simply copy your old configs over your new when you reinstall and everything works again.)

One thing... (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944109)

Documentation

Everything else is secondary. Well, most everything. But without usable documentation, all else is futile.

Oh, and would someone do some work on documentation?

Thanks!

Mod TFA -1 Offtopic (1, Informative)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944115)

The author made some points with ABI stability, audio architecture and filesystem versioning. The rest is bullshit. GUI? Go whine at the GNOME/KDE guys. X11? Go post to the X11 dev list. Package managers? Go fuck RedHat for RPM and Debian for dpkg.

In other words, the things you are bullshitting about are not *Linux* things.

Almost everything he complains about is wrong (5, Informative)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944123)

He complains:

  1. Poor package management.

    The way packages are managed within any individual distribution is entirely up to the maintainers of that distribution.

    Who else should do it?
    He complains the distribution differences make life hard for people selling software. Well, tough, if they want money maybe they should work for it?

  2. Configuration files.

    There needs to be a consistent -- and whenever possible, self-documenting -- configuration system throughout, from the kernel to userland tools and user applications

    I know! Let's recreate the windows registry, but this time better!. Yawn.

  3. Unstable Kernel ABI. FUD.
  4. He wants a versioning filesystem. Like Windows has. (Does it?) I want a poney.
  5. Audio API. He says there are too many of them.
  6. The GUI is anarchic. (I see no black flags).
  7. X11 is not integrated with the apps. What the fuck does this mean.
  8. He wants "commercially hosted backup and restore". Maybe if he thinks there's money in it he should start a company instead of sitting on his fat ass and whining.
  9. Conclusion "Most of what's wrong with Linux isn't fatal", replacing it by a Vista look-alike would save all his problems.

Just about the shittiest article I've read for a long time.

Obligatory grammar nazi post (1)

danep (936124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944127)

It's "ensure", not "insure"...

fsck (1)

pizpot (622748) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944169)

fsck needs fixing.

Perhaps:

- ask before doing a slow check because of a reboot count. Someone could miss an online game!

- if the / drive needs checking while not mounted, then make it so. Don't make me pull out the cd and type "e2fsk -y /dev/sda1". Is it a security thing or what? It sure kills the experience for regular non-techie users.

Re:fsck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944361)

if it ain't workin', dump the old fsck, get a new fsck, or "talk to your doctor today"!

(personally, I think it's -head switch needs to be used to give satisfactory results, as the heads of many disks could use a fsck. the -intern switch also might be fully implemented.)

Re:fsck (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944453)

Those are distribution specific, and sane distributions have had them fixed for years.

uh, build from source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25944277)

One thing that might help is a kind of meta-package format: a file which, when downloaded, is run by a client native to the given distribution. The client then goes to the software repositories for the program maker and obtains all the right packages to make that program run on that particular machine.

You know, rather than fussing around with all that bullshit, I have an idea: build from source. Your package manager downloads the source package, it builds it, it installs it, so it's definitely native for your infrastructure. You know, I think even some Linux distributions do this...

There are lot of things that can be improved... (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944355)

But so far talk has been really cheap and code rules the day.

Even so, all mentioned suggestions somehow indicates that writer sadly, but doesn't know what he is talking about.

Better Solutions (2)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944377)

Maybe I am not looking hard enough but I feel there needs to be more lists of software solutions. Someone in my LUG group brought my attention to http://opensourcesmall.biz/ [opensourcesmall.biz] which is a great little site (no affiliation) that gives software solutions for small businesses. Some others I find googling are http://www.icewalkers.com/ [icewalkers.com] and http://www.linuxsoft.cz/en/ [linuxsoft.cz] (Czech site I just checked the google cache) For me that seems to be the most important part. If open source small business software names were as common to mom and pop places as vlc, firefox, and other free software are to us it drive linux adoption at crazy rates. This would force hardware manufactures to release their specs or get passed up on a purchase to a competitor. Other than that linux is great and I could never ask for more for free. Usually the big hurdle for people is software familiarity once you learn bash basics, if you never learn bash you usually struggle.

Some of it is good advice but some is iffy. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944425)

Yes Audio is mess. To many choices and to many issues. GStreamer and safe ALSA are your best bets but they are limited.
What is this issue with the ABI??? That isn't a real issue what is needed and this always starts a war with the faithful is a stable binary driver interface.
Nobody should ever have to recompile a driver. I know the arguments for not having it. I find the performance argument to be just silly. It wouldn't be that big of a performance hit folks. The idea that it discourages binary drivers is also silly. Nvidia? ATI? It just makes them a pain to use.
I am also for the option of moving some drivers into kernel space. If they are low speed drivers then I think the gain in system stability is worth it.
Multiable desktops? Not a problem. I can move from XP to Gnome to KDE to XFCE with very little effort.

For me the big problem is the lack of binary driver support, printing, and audio issues.
The funny thing is tat given the mess that audio is that it works as well as it does. For the most part Audio does work but from the programmers point of view it is ugly.

The other issue really is the difficulty with commercial software. It is really hard to make inexpensive closed source software for Linux. Linux could really use Quickbooks, TurboTax, and even Bejeweled. If there was an easy way to sell and market programs for Linux I think you would see a lot of programmers flock to it.
Money talks and your not going to make any selling support for a casual game! A standard install system and or something like iTunes, Steam, or the Android store would really help. The key would be for it to be done buy a major Linux distro like Ubuntu.

Not bad, but... (5, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25944459)

What I find in *most* of these sorts of pieces is that they are either cynically or subconsciously pushing for the winozification of Linux. He makes some good points along with the bad.

(1) Package Management
This is a good point if the debian people and redhat people could work toward a solution, it could be fixed as both systems have a great deal in common.

(2) Configuration Files
Bzzzt. Wrong. The foolish part of this subject is that while the Windows registry provides a standardized access to the data store, it only defines types and not what they are supposed to be. Lunux configuration files under /etc are, IHO, better and can be backed up and diff-ed.

(3) Kernel Application Binary Interfaces
I would like to see a stabilized and standardized device interface API for standard devices, something exposing a limited subset of the kernel that would simplify simple devices like block, serial, and network types of devices.

(4)Native File Versioning
Bzzt. Its called automatic backup people. This is a relatively new feature in Macs and barely working in Windows. Would be nice, but can't characterize it as something that's broken.

(5)Audio Application Programming Interfaces
This I 100% agree with. Choice is nice, but the geometric product of "choice" in system services means that rich multimedia applications are much harder to develop.

(6)Graphical User Interface
He sort of has a point about this and it has often been a problem.

(7)Integration Of X11 With Apps
Bzzt Wrong. X11 is a HUGELY powerful system and if you encounter a bug that crashes your session, that's a bug. Fortunately I haven't seen one of these in about 6 years.

(8)Commercially Hosted Backup And Restore
Bzzt Wrong. This is not "Linux" being broken, it is 3rd party vendors being stupid.

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