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posted by LaminatorX on Friday August 22 2014, @06:52AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Next-year-in-Jerusalem dept.

ZDNet reports that from supercomputers to stock markets to smartphones, Linux dominates most computing markets, but Linus Torvalds still wants Linux to rule on one place it doesn't: The desktop. "The challenge on the desktop is not a kernel problem. It's a whole infrastructure problem. I think we'll get there one day," said Torvalds at the LinuxCon Convention in Chicago. "Year of the Linux desktop?" asked Kroah-Hartman. "I'm not going there," replied Torvalds with a smile.

Torvalds also discussed the issue of kernel code bloat as Linux is now being run in small-form-factor embedded devices. "We've been bloating the kernel over the last 20 years, but hardware has grown faster," Torvalds said. Torvalds wants to push the envelope for the embedded market despite some challenges. He noted that some of the small-form-factor device vendors have their own operating system technologies in place already, and those vendors don't always make hardware readily available to Linux kernel developers.

The issue of Linux code maintainers was another hot-button topic addressed by Torvalds, who noted that some Linux kernel code has only a single maintainer and that can mean trouble when that maintainer wants to take time off. Torvalds said that a good setup that is now used by the x86 maintainers is to have multiple people maintaining the code. It's an approach that ARM Linux developers have recently embraced, as well. "When I used to do ARM merges, I wanted to shoot myself and take a few ARM developers with me," Torvalds said. "It's now much less painful and ARM developers are picking up the multiple maintainer approach."

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  • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by aristarchus on Friday August 22 2014, @07:05AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Friday August 22 2014, @07:05AM (#84251) Journal

    Linux has ruled my desktop since 1995. What's up with the rest of humanity? Do the enjoy being crapped on by blue screens of death, code you cannot modify or even look at, backdoors, and Ethanol-Fueled? Wait, I take back that last part. But only that.

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    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Tork on Friday August 22 2014, @08:05AM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:05AM (#84266)
      Linux zealotry was a good deal easier under the rule of Win9X.
      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Friday August 22 2014, @08:17AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:17AM (#84272) Journal

        Why, pray tell? What actually has changed, other than the covert substitution of NT for DOS/Win? And NT was a poorly conceived rushed attempt to copy Unix systems. Besides, did you every try to actually run Linux back around 1995? I was ecstatic if I could get a file manager to run on X! If only I had know about emacs right from the beginning. No, Linux zealotry was harder back then, not for the faint of heart or the weak of code. But that is the point, is it not? Freedom, as in free speech, and free hacking.

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        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by NoMaster on Friday August 22 2014, @09:40AM

          by NoMaster (3543) on Friday August 22 2014, @09:40AM (#84292)

          Why, pray tell? What actually has changed, other than the covert substitution of NT for DOS/Win?

           
          We got a nice, stable, useable, Unix-under-the-hood-and-user-friendly-GUI-on-top in OSX?
           

          --
          Live free or fuck off and take your naïve Libertarian fantasies with you...
          • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Friday August 22 2014, @01:21PM

            by morgauxo (2082) on Friday August 22 2014, @01:21PM (#84324)

            You must mean Darwin.

            • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @02:26PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @02:26PM (#84344)

              Darwin is Unix. They got the certificates to prove it and everything.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by LaminatorX on Friday August 22 2014, @01:11PM

          by LaminatorX (14) <{laminatorx} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday August 22 2014, @01:11PM (#84320)

          NT is a VMS/VAX clone, not a Unix clone. MS hired Dave Cutler away from DEC to build them a real OS kernel, and then built Win32 and COM on top of it.

          --
          Banjo - Fiddle - Tolkien: The Lonely Mountain String Band. lmsb.me [lmsb.me]
          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by mechanicjay on Friday August 22 2014, @01:50PM

            by mechanicjay (7) <mechanicjayNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday August 22 2014, @01:50PM (#84336) Homepage Journal

            You beat me to it. Remember, NT used to run on Alpha processors as well, right up to Win 2K RC4.

            I actually think Win 2K was the pinnacle of Windows, it's been downhill ever since.

            --
            My VMS box beat up your Windows box.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @03:50PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @03:50PM (#84372)

              It ran on a lot of processor families. IIRC it was developed on MIPS.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:47PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:47PM (#84473)

              Wow. Talk about damning with faint praise.

              ...then again, it didn't have product activation.

              -- gewg_

          • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Friday August 22 2014, @08:45PM

            by aristarchus (2645) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:45PM (#84472) Journal

            Right, thanks for the correction. I must have meant to say "UNIX competitor".

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        • (Score: 3, Funny) by Tork on Friday August 22 2014, @04:16PM

          by Tork (3914) on Friday August 22 2014, @04:16PM (#84382)
          "Why, pray tell?"

          TThe daily reboot is long gone and BSODs are nearly extinct. Linux had a much weaker opponent back then.
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          • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday August 22 2014, @04:59PM

            by urza9814 (3954) on Friday August 22 2014, @04:59PM (#84410) Journal

            Yeah but today Linux's audio, network, dependency, and graphics support problems are pretty much gone. Linux was much weaker at the time too.

            • (Score: 1) by schad on Friday August 22 2014, @06:28PM

              by schad (2398) on Friday August 22 2014, @06:28PM (#84428)

              Yeah but today Linux's audio, network, dependency, and graphics support problems are pretty much gone.

              Try to get Optimus to work on a laptop, and then tell me the graphics support problems are gone.

              • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday August 22 2014, @06:37PM

                by urza9814 (3954) on Friday August 22 2014, @06:37PM (#84430) Journal

                Optimus is still basically a prototype, and you're expecting it to just work on any random hardware that it was never designed for? Also, Optimus isn't really desktop.

                Might as well berate Windows for not being able to run on a Raspberry Pi....

              • (Score: 2) by No.Limit on Friday August 22 2014, @09:32PM

                by No.Limit (1965) on Friday August 22 2014, @09:32PM (#84490)

                It used to work pretty well for me when I used it (I only play games on my desktop nowadays).
                Installing it was quite easy too.

                But I believe you that others may have big problems with it. Just not everyone.

            • (Score: 2) by cykros on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:55PM

              by cykros (989) on Sunday August 24 2014, @06:55PM (#85024)

              Network issues are mostly gone (unless you're talking about WiFi...in which case, they've improved, and are usually workable, but often still don't work upon an initial install, with no CLEAR method presented to the user outside of forum support), and audio USUALLY is fine, unless you're using some kind of specialized sound card. Graphics? Sure, if you use nvidia, or don't play games.

              As for dependencies...it helps that we have always on Internet connection these days where downloading software takes seconds rather than minutes (or hours!). It also "helps" (ymmv) that there are so many distros with good binary package distribution so that there isn't so much compilation we're required to do (though for those of us who prefer compiling, it also helps that our CPU's and RAM are a hell of a lot faster now).

              The idea that "we've made it" is premature. Vast improvements have been made, along with some missteps (wtf is systemd anyway? And do we really NEED pulseaudio to be in place for everyone, with all of the misconfigurations that distros seem to relish in rolling out, rather then leaving it just available for those who need the extra functionality it brings?). It's still not there yet for that broad class of user that does more than use a web browser but yet is unwilling or lacks time to do at least a little manual configuration.

              Not that I think I care all that much at this point. Seeing the amount of abuse the ecosystem has taken by the idiot proofing projects, looking back, I wonder how smart it ever was to roll it out to the mainstream. I've been seeing some old Linux heads flocking over to *BSD as major distributions abandon the Unix philosophy en masse, and wonder what it is we're really gaining anyway. Nobody thinks Android is great (just perhaps better than the alternatives at this point), and yet we seem to be rushing to make similar mistakes in the desktop world as well.

              Linus may want it, and frankly, it's his baby. But to those of us that have loved and used the free Unix-like system for all these years, I'm not sure it's something to be cheering for, at least in the form we're seeing it come in. What WOULD be a good thing to see would be OEM's rolling out more machines with Linux preinstalled, where a lot of the configuration that the end user ends up being responsible for doing could be handled before the system ever ships out. Linux has historically been hard to configure because of its biggest virtue: It runs on EVERYTHING. If you want to make it run on your specific hardware, you generally need to tell it what that hardware is, and how to interact with it, and that's, well, hard. Windows handles this by supporting the hardware it does run on all at once (regardless of not needing most of it on any system it's installed on), and the manufacturers love it because it means that each Windows version gets more and more bloated and thus people buy new computers (the agreements that frankly should be illegal under anti-trust laws if they aren't already don't hurt matters either). And so Windows is "easy", if not efficient. OEM installed Linux can very much be easy as well, provided the distribution(s) keep things sane, but then, this sentence poses two hurdles to move beyond...

              Remember: OS X made Unix easy by shipping out with all of the necessary hardware support in place by default (easy, because Apple controls the hardware) as well as a sane for general use default configuration. They got financially successful as hell thanks to their marketing squad, but there's absolutely nothing about the making Unix user friendly process that couldn't be replicated by major Linux players, if they were inclined with the resources at hand. I can't imagine I personally would want to go near one of these setups, but if it brings better hardware support (or just hardware options to the market), as well as more useful software that I can throw on my own custom install, I wouldn't oppose it either, at least while Patrick Volkerding still roams the earth.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:23AM (#84273)

      in the past, i suspect it was mostly inertia, which will indeed evaporate with ensuing generations
      for some of my uses, unfortunately, it has boiled down to one fulltime use software: autohotkey
      to my knowledge there is no other parser which can poll some fundamental inputs like key up/down and mouse actions all in the one environment.
      for assigning dual-role key binding this is essential in my interface experiments... and my number one project for linux at the moment

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by mechanicjay on Friday August 22 2014, @01:57PM

      by mechanicjay (7) <mechanicjayNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday August 22 2014, @01:57PM (#84340) Homepage Journal

      Indeed, I've been primarily Linux on the desktop at home and work for about 8 years now and haven't looked back.

      I keep Windows on a VM at work for testing purposes and the random stupid crap "Fill-able Word Forms" that HR sends out, that don't even work right in Office.

      At home, I keep one box dual booting to Windows for gaming. 99% of what I do with my computer is done in a web-browser, e-mail client, text editor, or remote on another Linux box

      --
      My VMS box beat up your Windows box.
      • (Score: 1) by modest on Friday August 22 2014, @08:50PM

        by modest (3494) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:50PM (#84475)

        Practically the same timeline and situation except since building a new PC a few months ago I no longer duel-boot at home.

        Games are becoming more prevalent on Linux and I'd like to vote with my wallet to incentivize developers/publishers to develop with Linux in mind. I refuse to spend for a Windows license since XP is dead (and DirectX is crippled in it anyway). I hate missing game time with some friends, but I've been putting that time to better uses as a result.

        • (Score: 2) by cykros on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:28PM

          by cykros (989) on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:28PM (#85036)

          I've been personally quite impressed with the state of modern Wine. Skyrim ran without any extra configuring (well, once I got multi-arch working right on my box, which is another story...), and Deus Ex: Human Revolution took a simple documented registry edit to get going smoothly as well. Worth noting though is that not all distros are particularly good about shipping with the latest version of wine, so it may be worth compiling yourself to make sure you're absolutely up to date with it.

          Heck, some games even play BETTER with Wine than in their native Windows, but I think we're all familiar with the WoW example there by now. Biggest hassle seems to be that if you're using a pulseaudio-is-the-default distro (ie, MOST of them in wide use on desktops these days), there can sometimes be issues that aren't always the clearest to solve (basically, it boils down to making sure you have the pulseaudio libraries compiled alongside the 64 bit libraries...the process for this varies distro to distro). Wine doesn't have any native support for pulseaudio, so making sure your alsa plugins and libraries are in place so that the pulseaudio alsa compatibility works as it should. Alternatively, killing pulseaudio and using ALSA directly of course still works, but on some distros I've used, actually KILLING pulseaudio such that it stays dead is sometimes easier said than done. pasuspender SHOULD do the job, but again, that doesn't always go as well as one might hope.

          Biggest issue wine has at this point is its reputation, as more and more people these days have used it in an earlier form, and ran into enough hassles that they don't even bother trying anymore. I was in that camp for awhile, and having given it another shot, was very pleasantly surprised by the progress made in the last few years.

  • (Score: 0, Troll) by AnonTechie on Friday August 22 2014, @07:34AM

    by AnonTechie (2275) on Friday August 22 2014, @07:34AM (#84257) Journal

    One fine day this will happen. Desktop Linux will rule ! As with flying cars, fusion power, artificial intelligence, humanoid robots, humans on Mars, no BSOD, batteries with infinite charge ... all of this within the next 20 years. All you have to do is live for 20 more years.

    --
    Albert Einstein - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @07:53AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @07:53AM (#84262)

      There are humanoid robots now. We have no BSOD today, if you try to use one of the viable Desktop Linuxes like Ubuntu or Mint. You could even go with MacOS X (shudder). I sometimes use Windows and haven't seen one since Windows 7. If you want any of these things though, it's not enough to just live for 20 more years. Put your money where your fucking mouth is and do your part to make them happen!

      • (Score: 1) by aristarchus on Friday August 22 2014, @08:03AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:03AM (#84265) Journal

        No BSOD today? Maybe you missed the latest news. And as for flying cars, no way. Most humans cannot deal with the four cardinal directions when piloting a vehicle. Add elevation, and we are going to have fender-benders that crater. Especially if the flying cars are running Microsoft! See

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        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by aristarchus on Friday August 22 2014, @08:06AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:06AM (#84267) Journal

          See . . . . wait for it! (what happened to my link?) We try again: Windows for Warships [schneier.com] (I use preview this time, like good Soylentil!)

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      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by maxwell demon on Friday August 22 2014, @08:13AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:13AM (#84271) Journal

        There are humanoid robots now.

        Well, I guess that depends on what you consider a "humanoid robot." With a loose enough definition of the term, there have been humanoid robots as early as 1770 [wikipedia.org] (it certainly looks more humanoid than whatever you were thinking of).

        What we currently have is robots that very remotely look like humans, but calling them humanoid is a stretch at minimum. Please show me the robot which looks like a human (not just approximately human-shaped, if you don't look too closely), can walk on his legs like a human, and with which you can interact mostly like with a human. Don't know one? Didn't think so.

        We have no BSOD today

        You think so? [soylentnews.org]

        If you want any of these things though, it's not enough to just live for 20 more years. Put your money where your fucking mouth is and do your part to make them happen!

        And where is your indication that he doesn't do that?

        --
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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:34AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:34AM (#84275)

          And where is your indication that he doesn't do that?

          As the GP seems to complacently say: "All you have to do is live for 20 more years."

        • (Score: 1) by ksarka on Friday August 22 2014, @08:43AM

          by ksarka (2789) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:43AM (#84277)

          We have no BSOD today

          You think so?

          You missed an important part of it:

          We have no BSOD today, if you try to use one of the viable Desktop Linuxes like Ubuntu or Mint.

          [emphasis mine]

          Although if we stay on the Windows are for BSOD's topic - even with the Win 7 I had a lot of trouble with BSOD's when something was happening between the OS, nvidia drivers and flash plugin on firefox - this was really frustrating and provided the usual windows information on the error, a.k.a. nothing to get a grasp on, the only solution I have found to work was to stop using firefox. Or flash - that helped aswell. Never happened with FF Forks though. And never happened on the desktop Linux setup.

          In my experience having Linux for desktop is even better that doing so on laptop - no need for some stupid proprietary wifi drivers that tend to break at least once a year when an update of the system is required.

          • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday August 22 2014, @05:06PM

            by urza9814 (3954) on Friday August 22 2014, @05:06PM (#84415) Journal

            Well, unless they've changed something in 7, Windows systems will never show a BSOD by default anymore, so that's probably why people think those are gone. Unless you change the settings, it'll just directly reboot now.

          • (Score: 2) by cykros on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:36PM

            by cykros (989) on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:36PM (#85040)

            In my experience having Linux for desktop is even better that doing so on laptop - no need for some stupid proprietary wifi drivers that tend to break at least once a year when an update of the system is required.

            In my experience, having Linux on hardware that officially supports Linux is the single best way to make running Linux a smooth experience. But then, comparing the way Linux runs on unsupported hardware to the way Windows does shows us a very different picture than comparing it to Windows running Windows-friendly hardware. Since Vista came out, I've noticed a decent amount of hardware incompatibilities on systems people had built with a prior version of Windows (especially one built for and shipped with Vista...) that they've installed a newer version of Windows onto, only to find that their hardware isn't supported. Around that time, it becomes pretty clear that hardware incompatibility on Linux is usually just about infinitely easier than it is on Windows, because usually, you can at least find some way to make things work, even if they are hackish. Windows tends not to have that luxury...just the luxury of having most hardware designed with it in mind. Pick your hardware when you buy your system based on it being Linux compatible, and you'll both be voting with your dollars in favor of more open hardware solutions and giving yourself a lot less work when it comes to configuring your system. In 2014, there's really not much reason not to take advantage of the fact that we finally really have this choice.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday August 22 2014, @05:03PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Friday August 22 2014, @05:03PM (#84414) Journal

      Linux will certainly rule the desktop...but the desktop won't rule computing.

      The desktop is rapidly becoming a device mostly used by developers and power users. The kind of people most likely to want Linux and run like hell from crap like Windows 8.

      Or if people (and a mobile powerhouse like Samsung with powerful marketing) decide they want convergence devices. While it doesn't work well at all yet, as far as I know Linux is the only way to get that at all. And while I think the concept is a bit stupid, it's nice to see that they're not strictly playing catch-up anymore. Apply and Microsoft had a pretty big head-start.

  • (Score: 2) by Subsentient on Friday August 22 2014, @08:11AM

    by Subsentient (1111) on Friday August 22 2014, @08:11AM (#84269) Homepage Journal

    I was going to submit this. Indeed, it's a hopeful story.

    --
    Trying is the first step towards failure. -The Click
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by gallondr00nk on Friday August 22 2014, @10:33AM

    by gallondr00nk (392) on Friday August 22 2014, @10:33AM (#84302)

    I think there's a bigger need than usual for a solid Unix desktop at the moment.

    With XP's EOL, there's a lot of computers that are left without a viable, secure operating system - I'm thinking Northwood/Prescott P4s, Pentium M laptops, or more or less anything with DDR1 RAM. They're still perfectly capable, but simply cannot seem to run Windows 7 properly.

    My preference on these old machines is to run FreeBSD, but I'd like to see them focus on the desktop more as well.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Friday August 22 2014, @12:56PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 22 2014, @12:56PM (#84318) Journal

      I have a rough time trying to put decent software on an old machine. There is a need for a solid desktop that works in minimal environments like embedded or old computers. But I think Linux is still not there.

      For old computers, the heavy desktops are out. No Gnome or KDE. No XFCE either, it's lighter but still too heavy. I find LXDE lighter yet, but going with a plain old window manager still beats it. Some of those old computers can't boot from USB or network, or even DVD, has to be CD. (At least they're not floppy only, that's just too old.) I have not been able to run the Lubuntu installer to completion, ever. It crashes every single time. Most times it lasted long enough to get Lubuntu installed, and I can clean up the installation by running from the hard drive. One of the first clean up things I do is go into Preferences -> Customize Look and Feel, and under the widgets tab and change from the Lubuntu-default to anything else to avoid an old bug with the desktop that I think was noted in version 12 and is still not fixed in 14.04

      I found Bodhi Linux and its Enlightenment window manager not stable enough and too resource heavy with the fancy animated icons. I tried Crunchbang and LXLE. Their installation media is a few megabytes too large to fit on a CD. Another issue with a lot of these distros is the lag on software versions. They always seem to be 4 to 8 versions behind on Firefox. Lubuntu is better for staying current, but that too has problems. Eventually, with enough updates and use, an Ubuntu installation screws up the user configuration directories (.local, .cache, .config and related directories). I've seen Flash animations play at something like 4x speed because an update broke something in the user configuration. Can be worked around by deleting those directories-- and recreating the user settings that will be lost. But that's one example of many of how the Linux desktop lacks polish. I've taken to putting all my files in a subdirectory, something like /home/user/mine instead of /home/user, to aid in keeping my stuff separate from all the junk that the desktop system generates in /home/user.

      At any rate, these days 192M of RAM seems to be the absolute lower limit. Since version 4, Firefox simply will not run at an acceptable level of performance on a system with only 128M of RAM. The Firefox devs started a project to reduce memory usage, and that has helped, but it seems the days of 128M of RAM being enough are forever gone.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mcgrew on Friday August 22 2014, @02:42PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday August 22 2014, @02:42PM (#84346) Homepage Journal

        I came to moderate but I have to respond. Linux has no trouble whatever on old hardware. I have two towers right now, a Dell and an HP that are so old they'll only take 1 gig of memory each and both of which were originally shipped with XP. One only has 750 megs of memory installed.

        Both are running the latest version of kubuntu and doing so flawlessly. Everything just works, and what's more they're faster than my 3 year old Windows 7 laptop that has a processor running 4 times as fast, and has more memory.

        You may have trouble getting it to run right on windows 98 or 2000 machines, back when 64 megs was the standard memory size. You are correct that 128 megs of RAM is far too little, but it's been over well over a decade since that's been normal.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:08PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:08PM (#84378)

          This is usually, but not always true. I have an older laptop with a Pentium 3 mobile CPU whose integrated graphics started breaking with an updated drivers several years back and it it still can't run on anything better that the non-accelerated VESA modes without crashing.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @08:52PM (#84477)

          old hardware[...]originally shipped with XP
          Well, that's old-ish.

          only has 750 megs of memory installed[...]running the latest version of kubuntu and doing so flawlessly
          Some folks would call that system "muscular". 8-)

          You may have trouble getting it to run right on windows 98 or 2000 machines
          antiX (pronounced "Antiques") has a reputation for running on ancient, anemic machines.
          This guy got it running on a machine with 48MB of RAM. [googleusercontent.com]
          (orig) [freeforums.org]

          As has been said previously in this thread, modern browsers are usually what screw the pooch.

          -- gewg_

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Friday August 22 2014, @09:13PM

          by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 22 2014, @09:13PM (#84484) Journal

          Linux is decent on old hardware, better than Windows, but hardly trouble free. This is a bit unfair to blame on Linux, but getting Flash to work is hard. I look forward to the day Flash dies in a fire, but until then, it's wanted so people can watch cat videos on Youtube.

          Just today, I've been trying to set up a computer made in late 2002. It's a 2GHz Celeron, 32bit, with 768M RAM, and horrid Intel integrated graphics (845G). Been trying Tinycore Linux. Everything works except Flash. (And I count myself lucky at that. A previous time I set up a different computer that had old Intel integrated graphics, it would lock up after 15 minutes or an hour of use, just no telling. In that case, the solution was to use the VESA driver as the Intel driver at that time was known to cause hangs.) Flash ran but the graphics were corrupted, half the size of the window, with green and purple lines. This is a known problem, and the solution was to change XWindows from SNA acceleration to the older UXA. But that caused other problems because none of the supporting parts of UXA were present, so with UXA all I saw was a mouse pointer on a black screen.

          Another troublesome old computer was an AMD based one. At least it had nice Radeon graphics. But, AMD was late in getting SSE2 into their chips, and that particular computer was among the last that lacked it. The newest version of Flash available for Linux requires SSE2, and will show a blank black window if the computer doesn't have it. The solution was to downgrade to the last version of Flash that doesn't require SSE2.

          Then there was the 350MHz Pentium 2 with the very earliest NVidia graphics card that is still supported by Nouveau, a Riva TNT, code name NV04. It worked at first, but X was sending hundreds of error messages to the system logs every minute. The hard drive was running nonstop, and soon the system was thrashing, and slowed from molasses speed to glacial. (But, it would play video faster than a 1GHz Pentium 3 with Intel integrated graphics.) The maintainers knew immediately what the problem was, they just hadn't bothered to add some necessary software emulation to handle what the NV04 hardware lacks because no one was using NV04 until I came along and spoiled their fun. To their credit, they fixed it and I only had to wait a few weeks.

          Ever tried to use an old serial port mouse or trackball in a modern distro? They aren't well supported any more. Even though the pieces may still all be there-- kernel drivers, Xorg drivers-- distros aren't bothering to pack it all up. The last time I tried it, I got nowhere.

          That's a sampling of the sort of issues I run into when trying to get a little more life out of old computers.

          • (Score: 2) by cykros on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:45PM

            by cykros (989) on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:45PM (#85044)

            This is a bit unfair to blame on Linux, but getting Flash to work is hard. I look forward to the day Flash dies in a fire, but until then, it's wanted so people can watch cat videos on Youtube.

            Or they could use HTML5 [youtube.com]...

            But yes, it is worth noting that while Youtube is no longer (and hasn't been for a few years now) an excuse for "needing" Flash, there are sites out there that still do rely on it. Some news sites, for instance, just don't have html5 support yet (though in many cases switching to an iOS useragent might bring pleasantly surprising results...).

            I pity those who are still stuck in this limbo, but also figure it's worth pointing out that you might not be as stuck as you think you are...

      • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Friday August 22 2014, @07:57PM

        by LoRdTAW (3755) on Friday August 22 2014, @07:57PM (#84457) Journal

        If it can't boot off USB then it is reallllly, reeeeaaaallllyyyyyy old in terms of PC hardware. I have Windows 7 Running on a few Dell Dimension P4's. As long as you stuff them with 2+GB of RAM they will run Win 7 Pro and most of the basic office productivity applications without issue. They run Linux like a champ.

        If your computer cant boot from USB or has less than 512MB then it sounds like you have a real clunker, perhaps an early P4 or P2/3. I would just throw the damn thing out. For $200 - $300 you can put together a real decent PC using an Intel Celeron, AMD AM1 SoC or even an A8/A10 system. Hell, a Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone or any of those other little ARM boards will do a decent job at giving you a desktop for light tasks.

        People are throwing out old P4's and even Core/Core 2 systems which can easily Run most Linux Distros and so-called heavy desktops like KDE. There is simply no reason to keep running old clunkers unless you like wasting money on electric or have a some emotional/nostalgic attachment.

        And as for a good distro: Debian is my top pick followed by Arch and then Gentoo or Slackware. Debian will be the easiest to deal with coming from Ubuntu and runs on really old hardware without much issue. I gave up on Ubuntu a long time ago. It was my first favorite Linux distro but once I knew my way around the command line I no longer needed Canonicals clunky hand holding.

        I recently built a small home ssh server using a Wyse terminal with a 1GHz VIA CPU, 512MB RAM and an 8GB ATA flash disk I got off eBay (original flash disk was 1GB). Cost less than 75 bucks all together. Hooked a 1TB USB HDD to it and installed Debian to the Flash disk without any issues from a USB thumb drive. Only burns 6 watts at idle and 11 watts under load. I then use it to wake up my desktop using WoL so I can remote into it. The 1TB is great for dumping files to it for backups, sharing or whatever. Only issue is the CPU is pretty slow with rsync, 3-4MBps even when using the blowfish encryption cypher. But CIFS and NFS are pretty damn fast at 20+ MBps from the USB disk. Old hardware can have its place.

      • (Score: 2) by cykros on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:40PM

        by cykros (989) on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:40PM (#85042)

        The hardware specs you're bringing up are dwarfed even by the Raspberry Pi. That's not just an old computer; it's a historical artifact...one that is far less energy efficient than a $35 replacement.

        Not that it's absolute TRASH, persay, but if it's a matter of using is as a production business machine, someone in management needs to get a calendar.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @05:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @05:03PM (#84412)

      I've been using FreeBSD as my desktop for about a year now.

      I still need to use Windows to do (1) printing, (2) scanning images, (3) using Skype and (4) opening Microsoft Word files.

      That last item is a result of my stubborn use of RTF as a standard and my refusal to use DOC- or DOCX-capable utilities; but I'm upgrading to FreeBSD 9.3 right now, and I think I'm going to install LibreOffice, this time around. So that takes care of (4).

      I've been supporting line printer daemons and UUCP, on and off, for thirty years. I'm pretty sure I can get printing working if I spend a few hours on it. That takes care of (1).

      Same with scanning - I know what TWAIN is, I know FreeBSD has TWAIN-capable utilities, the rest is detective work and fiddling with configurations. That takes care of (2).

      I don't need Skype, but if I did, I'd look into running it, under Windows, in a VM, using VirtualBox. That would address (3) - and any other issues I wanted to solve that way, too.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by E_NOENT on Friday August 22 2014, @11:09AM

    by E_NOENT (630) on Friday August 22 2014, @11:09AM (#84306) Journal

    One the one hand: Yay Linux everywhere...

    On the other hand, let's look at what this really means:

    The main driver for this is Google, who's using a Linux kernel on its devices (Android, Chromebook, etc.). These devices are generally locked-down and proprietary, and what's worse, they contain privacy destroying anti-features.

    I guess if the goal is to "put Linux everywhere" maybe we're winning, but in terms of user freedom, could it be that we're losing?

    --
    I'm not in the business... I *am* the business.
    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @11:20AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @11:20AM (#84308)

      Another Google Hater, I see. Well, I understand where you're coming from. But all in all, Google's mission is to collect data. And they have achieved that goal. All data that they collect is given back to you. Their mission is great, and you should support what they're actually doing. They are making the world a better place, by making linux easier to use, and winning in basically all markets. And anyway. Chrome OS is open source, Android is open source, all their linux based stuff is completely useful in every way. Forks exist for that specific reason.

      • (Score: 2) by everdred on Friday August 22 2014, @05:31PM

        by everdred (110) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 22 2014, @05:31PM (#84420) Homepage Journal

        > They are making the world a better place, by making linux easier to use, and winning in basically all markets. And anyway. Chrome OS is open source, Android is open source, all their linux based stuff is completely useful in every way. Forks exist for that specific reason.

        (I'd mod you up if I could, but I guess I'll respond and hopefully amplify the point you're making.)

        Yes, this exactly. Google has the resources that they could have done Android and Chrome OS proprietary down to the core, but didn't. Of course these open source products, as they distribute them, are designed to connect to proprietary services, collect data, make money and show ads. But in the Android world, you can replace all the preloaded Google applications (right down to the home screen/app launcher) with third-party solutions, sideload apps, and even add another "app store" to your device without needing to rooting it. And of course, rooting opens up a whole 'nother world of possibilities.

        I bought the original Android phone because it was clear from the start that Google was doing The Right Thing, and for the first year or so, it was a pretty lonely camp to be in. Today, when I see headlines about Android market share, I sometimes can't believe that the mostly-good-guy is actually winning in the market.

    • (Score: 2) by jasassin on Friday August 22 2014, @04:23PM

      by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Friday August 22 2014, @04:23PM (#84386) Journal

      All the code they modify/add is released because the code is GPL. Does it matter who writes code if it is a solution to a problem, and everyone can use it? Long live GPL!

      --
      jasassin@gmail.com Key fingerprint = 0644 173D 8EED AB73 C2A6 B363 8A70 579B B6A7 02CA
    • (Score: 2) by cykros on Sunday August 24 2014, @08:01PM

      by cykros (989) on Sunday August 24 2014, @08:01PM (#85050)

      It's mostly not Linux power users that are losing freedom with these anti-features, because, well, we root our devices and then proceed to root them out (or, in the case of Chromebooks anyway, often just replace ChromeOS with another flavor of Linux). As for the users migrating from Windows...well, they're not really losing any freedom, and are at least usually gaining some. And the big key here is that they're pumping money that goes to developing things like hardware drivers. While that's less true with Android and Chrome, as they're generally running on devices that conventional Linux distributions just haven't put the legwork into supporting (this isn't a stab...it's a significant amount of legwork, especially when you're trying to use a touchscreen interface to handle applications that never were intended for use with a touchscreen), in the similar case of Valve with Steam (full of DRM, proprietary code, etc), it's still given hardware companies a reason to care about supporting Linux, especially when faced with competitors who already are on that path.

      End result? Even if you're not using these proprietary software solutions, you may still end up benefiting from the improvements to the GNU/Linux ecosystem that came in their wake.

      My much bigger gripe is actually with companies like Canonical, and moreso than that, the distributions that feel the need to do whatever Canonical is doing. For now, it's not a big deal, because I use Slackware, and really am not too worried that it'll follow the same trend (Our Supreme Dictator for Life has a tendency to be pretty stubborn about not fixing what isn't broken...especially when there are broken things left around to fix. We're still using LILO by default.). The de-unix-ification of Linux is the scariest part of its success to me, as even the long time established distributions (Debian goes back to 1993...) show themselves all to willing to make some serious head scratching decisions.

      I'm not against progress...but I am against a trend where every year you're facing a situation where your personal choice in distribution ends up changing enough that you no longer have any sense of familiarity, all for a matter of features you didn't need/want, and a new list of bugs and security holes to go with it. When progress stops being focused on achieving goals to solve real problems, it stops being progress, and turns into chaotic turbulence.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @12:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @12:13PM (#84312)

    While Linus is the leader in the kernel area, there is no driving force in getting a workable Linux desktop. Ubuntu tried, but did not go far enough. A group, comprised of members from the many distributions, should get a working specification together. All of them could drive to get the spec working, and all of us would benefit. It would need to be modular enough so that individual parts could have multiple choices, but all the distributions would need to follow similar behaviors with documentation, tools, etc. Until there is a more seamless experience, GNU/Linux will only be the choice of the bold, and not the masses.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by CRCulver on Friday August 22 2014, @12:32PM

      by CRCulver (4390) on Friday August 22 2014, @12:32PM (#84313) Homepage

      The backend of the various desktop choices has already been integrated for years now thanks to the Free Desktop standard. Whether you are running Gnome, KDE or Enlightenment, your desktop's paths of interacting with the system are similar. As for the front end, this is the most acrimonius aspect of a desktop interface where everyone wants to go in a different direction, but would you expect otherwise when "desktop users" in fact refer to a wide range of people with different needs? In the early millennium, when GNOME started disabling customizability and removing options, it might have alienated people who wanted a home desktop, but it was right in line with what usability studies found is best for corporate desktop users.

      When people advocate for more desktop unity than already provided by Free Desktop etc., then it's likely that what they oppose is simply choice itself. But why shoehorn everyone with their different needs into a single way of working?

    • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday August 22 2014, @01:52PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday August 22 2014, @01:52PM (#84338) Homepage

      Ubuntu tried and didn't go far enough? What kind of shit are you smoking?

      Ubuntu went too far, Canonical like Mozilla turned their stable and extremely useful flagship product into a cryptically laid-out and dumbed down overcommercialized pile of shit.

      <most interesting man in the world> I don't always run Ubuntu, but when I do I prefer 10.04. </most interesting man in the world>

    • (Score: 2) by DECbot on Friday August 22 2014, @03:53PM

      by DECbot (832) on Friday August 22 2014, @03:53PM (#84374) Journal

      A group, comprised of members from the many distributions, should get a working specification together.

       

      My feel, systemd is trying to do this, but I don't really like their methods. I'm not so partial to init, but I do not like the monolithic approach systemd is taking. It also goes against your suggestion of a modular solution, unless you are considering things like gnome, kde, xfce, openoffice, and libreoffice as the modular choices.

      --
      cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday August 22 2014, @04:35PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday August 22 2014, @04:35PM (#84394)

        systemd is not a desktop environment, it's an init daemon and system-management daemon. This isn't something unique to desktop systems, it's something that embedded systems and servers also can make use of or actually require. So yes, it is an example of different distros working together on something, but it has very little to do with Linux-on-the-desktop.

        As for the "monolithic approach", last I checked, systemd is actually composed of various modules, and you don't have to actually run them all. I could be wrong on that though.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22 2014, @04:02PM (#84376)

      Ubuntu had it in the bag and blew it. They had the rep of being the best choice for a beginners Linux, a huge (and easy to use) software installation/package management GUI and the insanity of Windows 8 was just around the corner. Then, the they caught that same brain disease that has been sweeping across the industry the last few years "Super Arrogance/GUI Crap-ism." and made UNITY the default. If they hadn't done that, I think we'd have a huge base of Ubuntu desktops right about now.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by jasassin on Friday August 22 2014, @03:06PM

    by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Friday August 22 2014, @03:06PM (#84357) Journal

    Linux has little to do with a desktop user interface. I'm so pissed I'm gonna use my bash skillz with aalib and make the ultimate desktop with animated backgrounds and shit.

    --
    jasassin@gmail.com Key fingerprint = 0644 173D 8EED AB73 C2A6 B363 8A70 579B B6A7 02CA
    • (Score: 2) by present_arms on Saturday August 23 2014, @12:23AM

      by present_arms (4392) on Saturday August 23 2014, @12:23AM (#84546) Homepage Journal

      use SDL :P

      --
      http://trinity.mypclinuxos.com/
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23 2014, @08:56AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23 2014, @08:56AM (#84627)

        What's the point? It's just an extra layer connecting to the aalib.

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Saturday August 23 2014, @12:16AM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Saturday August 23 2014, @12:16AM (#84539) Homepage

    Whenever the Linux Desktop is brought up, people seem to suffer from the misconception that Linux must reach some sort of idealistic perfect state. But as it is, I don't see anything wrong with the Linux Desktop in 2014.

    It's true, Linux is far from perfect. But so is Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 or OSX. Driver issues in Linux? I'd take it over driver issues on Windows any day of the week. People learned to cope with the issues on Windows and OSX, but not those on Linux. That's the only difference.

    Want year of the Linux Desktop? Get all PC manufacturers to ship with it. The general populace will learn to love Linux, kicking and screaming, just as they did Windows.

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
    • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Saturday August 23 2014, @10:09AM

      by Common Joe (33) <reversethis-{moc ... 1010.eoj.nommoc}> on Saturday August 23 2014, @10:09AM (#84632) Journal

      I don't see anything wrong with the Linux Desktop in 2014. It's true, Linux is far from perfect. But so is Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 or OSX.

      I'm happy for you that the Linux Desktop(s) in 2014 is/are good for you, but the Linux desktop isn't good enough for me and it isn't good enough for a lot of people. My wife and I can't get our work done except on a Windows machine. I've been wanting to move us over to Linux for years, but the programs that are responsible for helping us make money can only be found in the Windows world.

      I'm actually quite happy to hear about things like Munich and Steam. We need more such examples, but I find it more than a little off putting to keep seeing Linux enthusiasts saying "I don't see anything wrong with Linux". It's a slap in the face to people like me and a slap to the people who know very little about Linux. You make it seem like the problem is with us. It is not with us. You want the year of the Linux desktop to happen? Look at the problems from other people's perspectives and change the way you word your praise for Linux.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23 2014, @06:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23 2014, @06:30PM (#84731)

        I've been wanting to move us over to Linux for years, but the programs that are responsible for helping us make money can only be found in the Windows world.

        Ask again later, the crystal ball is hazy...