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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 13 Mar 2014

Actor/geek icon Wil Wheaton less than happy with Ubuntu

Rumbling around the Internet the past few days is talk about actor/geek icon Wil Wheaton's Google+ post about not being terribly in love with Ubuntu.

At least he's running it with Xfce.

The post made its way to OMG Ubuntu! where it provoked much discussion.

Much of it was of the "How dare he!" variety, though there were plenty of people who pointed out that the opinions of non-Linux users sampling today's distros are extremely important.

My constant complaining about the lack of proper suspend/resume with the open-source drivers and the concurrent lack of a packaged closed-source AMD driver in Fedora is the longtime user's equivalent.

For me, the benefits of Linux on the desktop outweigh the trouble I've had over the last year with video and suspend/resume.

But a new user who's on the fence? It's just another deal-breaker.

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Fri, 14 Feb 2014

Linux init-system shocker: Mark Shuttleworth announces that Ubuntu will follow Debian and adopt systemd

You can knock me over with a feather right this very moment: Mark Shuttleworth announced in his blog that Ubuntu will follow Debian in adopting systemd as its init system, even though Ubuntu itself coded the alternative Upstart:

Upstart has served Ubuntu extremely well – it gave us a great competitive advantage at a time when things became very dynamic in the kernel, it’s been very stable (it is after all the init used in both Ubuntu and RHEL 6 ;) and has set a high standard for Canonical-lead software quality of which I am proud.

Nevertheless, the decision is for systemd, and given that Ubuntu is quite centrally a member of the Debian family, that’s a decision we support. I will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently, bringing systemd into both Debian and Ubuntu safely and expeditiously.

I thought Ubuntu would fight to the end, but the SABDFL appears happy to offload init-system development to Lennart Poettering and company. A wise move, I think. Canonical's resources are spread thinly enough that anything not directly related to getting their phone OS to market should be seen as ripe for offloading to other parts of the community.

I'm nowhere near qualified to opine on which init system is better, systemd, Upstart or even the old SysVinit, but it was clear in the debate coursing through the Debian mailing lists over the past month that the licensing of Upstart, which required contributors to sign a Canonical CLA (contributor licensing agreement) that allowed the company to make the code proprietary in the future, was a huge, huge nonstarter for many free software advocates.

So Upstart will ship in the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release, and all derivatives like Kubuntu and Xubuntu, which are due in April. These long-term-support releases will be around for five years, so Upstart isn't exactly dead yet, though it's quite the lame duck.

Thu, 14 Nov 2013

Noted contributer Aaron Toponce says goodbye to Ubuntu, even gives up UBUNTU license plate

Aaron Toponce is one of those insightful writers about Linux that I like to follow.

Now he joins those publicly leaving the Ubuntu project after what he refers to as a long line of disappointments in the project and its parent company Canonical, the last of those being the "trademark aggression" exhibited over the Fix Ubuntu site, the heavy-handedness for which SABDFL Mark Shuttleworth has apologized.

SABDFL apology aside, Aaron states many reason for leaving Ubuntu as a contributor and user (he's running Debian on everything, if you want to know). Those reasons include swapping GNOME for Unity, the Unity Lenses and the Amazon shopping "app."

He ends (but please do read the entire post):

I can't be associated with a project like this any longer. Effective immediately, my blog will no longer on the Ubuntu Planet. My Ubuntu Membership will be cancelled. My "UBUNTU" license plates, which have been on my car since August 2006, will be removed, in favor of my Amateur Radio callsign.

I wish everyone in the Ubuntu community the best of wishes. I also hope you have the power to change Ubuntu back to what it used to be. I have no ill feelings towards any person in the Ubuntu community. I just wish to now distance myself from Ubuntu, and no longer be associated with the project. Canonical's goals and visions do not align with something I think should be a Unix. Don't worry though -- I'll keep blogging. You can't get that out of my blood. Ubuntu just isn't for me any longer.

Goodbye Ubuntu.

I found Aaron's post via Benjamin Kerensa's post on the need to establish a Ubuntu foundation. The idea is intriguing, but I doubt anything will come of it.

As I've been saying lately, there are a few hundred other Linux distributions out there, and even close to home there are a number of fine Ubuntu-affiliated/derived projects like Xubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu and Lubuntu that offer compelling desktop systems and are run by engaged, growing and inclusive communities. And there's always Mint, Debian, CrunchBang, Slackware and many, many more.

More for technical than philosophical reasons, I'm running Fedora with Xfce. Until my hardware runs better (i.e. suspend/resume works), I need the latest kernels and video drivers, and Fedora offers (in my experience anyway) the easiest, least painful way of getting them. And while Fedora also has a strong corporate parent/overlord in Red Hat, the relationship between company and community is much less frought.

Wed, 30 Oct 2013

Ubuntu 13.10 review: It's better than billed (and not quite dead, despite rumors to the contrary)

Just to make sure that nothing suits my needs better than what I'm running right now (that being Fedora 19 with Xfce and GNOME), I did an Ubuntu 13.10 installation this week and have spent a bit of time putting the Unity-driven Linux distribution to the test.

The installation was easy. Ubuntu is very good about that. And from the standpoint of actually knowing what's going on during the install, Ubuntu beats Fedora handily.

While the installation process was easy and smooth, I was unable to boot the finished installation with UEFI Secure Boot on my HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop, which has admittedly "difficult" UEFI. I had to turn off Secure Boot to successfully boot Ubuntu 13.10 in EFI mode. Since I'm now having trouble with Fedora 19 and Secure Boot on this same hardware, I'll chalk that up to an overall Linux kernel problem with secure boot as it stands today. Luckily you can just about always turn off Secure Boot in the computer setup/BIOS, so this shouldn't be a problem.

Ubuntu's Unity desktop environment is snappier than billed. But for me it's just a little bit "broken" compared to and Xfce 4.10 and GNOME 3. For instance, as far as I can tell, in Unity you can't drag windows from one workspace to another. It's also hard to tell when you've minimized a window, though this is also the case in GNOME 3.

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Sun, 25 Aug 2013

Must-read blog post: On Leaving Ubuntu by Benjamin Kerensa

Big-time Ubuntu contributer Benjamin Kerensa blogs on why he's leaving Ubuntu.