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back to article Ubuntu 13.10: Meet the Linux distro with a bizarre Britney Spears fixation

On the surface, based on the second beta just released, Ubuntu 13.10 is shaping up to be a solid, if slightly dull, Linux distro. There have been no major visual changes to the desktop and only a couple of expanded features for the Unity Dash, which means 13.10 – due 17 October - won't look all that different from the last …

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Mint 16 should be interesting...

Not at all sure how Mir will play with anything other than the Ubuntu desktop - how about a review of Kubuntu, if it's available? If Ubuntu have done the job right, there should be no visual change, I guess?

There are still some of us out here who prefer to search hierarchically and visually for our applications, rather than trying to remember their names - and indeed, some of us who do not couple data with a specific application. Nor do we give a damn about social sites; we use the computer for doing work (except for reading Vulture Central, of course!).

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Re: Mint 16 should be interesting...

Mint won't be using Mir yet according to this, though they don't rule it out in future;

http://segfault.linuxmint.com/2013/09/mdm-lost-10-pounds/#comment-2946

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Re: Mint 16 should be interesting...

Yep, I'm one of those people. Cant stand the search-centric UI's these days. All my data is application independent, and sits on my NAS. Couldnt give a rats fig about social media either!

I use my computer for work AND gaming though :)

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Re: Mint 16 should be interesting...

Yep good old Mint fixing what's wrong with Ubuntu. So happy they finally pushed out the latest lmde update pack as well.

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Re: Mint 16 should be interesting...

> Mint won't be using Mir

Good. I switched to Mint when Ubuntu got Unity, would not like to have to switch again.

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Re: Mint 16 should be interesting...

I actually remember the days when an Ubuntu release article on El Reg comments didn't start with a reference to Linux Mint in the first few threads. Been awhile though.

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Re: Mint 16 should be interesting...

The same can be said for Kubuntu also.

If your a gamer you are better off with KDE over Cinnamon... (enable suspend desktop effects for full screen apps and disable VBLank in nvidia-settings and you'll most likely be running games faster than Windows 7/8 - Nvidia users only.)

Games are faster on non Gnome 3 desktops (with Nividia) and some games are not playable fullscreen on any gnome3 based system that is a lower version than 3.8 (i.e Unity,Cinnamon,elementary, etc)

KDE gives you the best of both worlds in terms of being able to actually do any work and being able to play games fast.

Mints desktop (cinnamon) is nice however just seems a bit rough to me (and have the issue of being based on gnome3)

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Reversing Moore's Law

I guess the answer to "Why do all this?" would be "because we can".

After all, if Linux interfaces just stuck to the basics of running an application in however much (or little) of the user's screen it needed - possibly with a little cut'n'paste, there wouldn't have been the need for any interface development for the past 20 or more years. Though we might have machines that boot in a couple of seconds and will run off batteries for days on end.

But since all the new, wizzy, capabilities we get in desktops - and also appearing in portable devices have the power, memory and graphics ability to do all these things (irrespective of whether anyone will use them), that's what we get.

Personally, I'd much prefer a user interface that contained one simple question and a box for the user to type, write or speak the answer. If all the power and ingenuity that the UI guys have expended on X, Wayland, Mir and all the other stuff had been focused on the average user, that box might just say

Tell me what you want to do?

And it would then go off and (accurately) start up all the stuff necessary to service the user's request.

Wouldn't that be better than all this eye-candy - though it would certainly be duller.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

@Pete 2: I think you're missing the point slightly - X, Wayland and Mir are not the stuff of UI eye candy - that's stuff built into desktop environments like Unity, Cinnamon and Gnome 3. And the problem with Canonical is not that they've spent too much time on the UI eye candy. It's much deeper than that: they're developing solely for Ubuntu without regard for the rest of the community.

This was bad enough with Unity but at least that is just a DE, what they're doing with Mir is more fundamental and much worse. A large independent distro like Mint might be able to fork Gnome 3 to escape the Gnome 3/Unity nightmare but they won't have anything like the resources required to fork a display server to replace X. If Canonical had instead committed to Wayland as a replacement for X then it would probably be reaching several distros now or soon. Not that's it's any surprise: Canonical's form goes way back beyong Unity, for example going with Upstart for sys init rather than Systemd like the majority of the community.

Incidentally there was a nice article on H-Online about this behaviour, before the site sadly closed in July this year.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

To be fair to Canonical there's no particular reason they have to do what anyone else is doing and it's quite clear they have their own agenda in mind.

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@ Pete 2 - Re: Reversing Moore's Law

> . . .

If all the power and ingenuity that the UI guys have expended on X, Wayland, Mir and all the other stuff had been focused on the average user, that box might just say

Tell me what you want to do?

And it would then go off and (accurately) start up all the stuff necessary to service the user's request.

. . . <

That's what the 'Super' key (Windows key on non-Apple keyboards) in Unity does*. Type 'calculator' and you get a calculator, type 'word' and you get a word processor. 'VLC' starts my video player. 'sintel' starts my video player playing the film Sintel. Windows 8 does a similar thing with the side bar that contains a search.

Is it that what you want? It's there, alongside all the eye-candy, so that it's not too dull.

I seem to be the only person that gave Unity enough chance to make an expression. When it first turned up I hated it as well. And the second time I tried it. And the third. And then I thought I'd give it a spin for more than 1 day: It's different, yes, but as I got familiar with it, I found that it's faster than menus.

Windows 95 was a big change and a lot of people didn't like it at first, now there's a change away from that paradigm and most people want to stay with it.

It's not UIs that users dislike; it's change, I think.

I bet Hrrrugh got dissed when he came up with this newfangled idea of tying a piece of rock to a stick . . .

* With a modifier key, if you want to specify a category.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

@cyborg: no, Canonical don't have work with the rest of the Linux community - but it smacks of the arrogance and short-termism of a multi-millionaire VC to fail to see the huge benefits (to Ubuntu as well as other distros) of developing for Linux generally rather than just Ubuntu.

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forking generally good for long term

The choice arising from the ability of open source developers to fork major parts of the software ecosystem is generally considered a strength and not a weakness. Sometimes forks intentionally recombine to strengthen the whole, e.g. having a development fork allowing for major changes and a maintenance fork where stability and security only patches from upstream occur with no feature enhancements. Sometimes forks allow different development visions to be tested, in which case either both find a niche and become different products useful to different user groups or one proves successful and the other is abandoned. But without the chance to test both development directions, you'd never know which one will be the dead end. In closed source development the project manager who makes this decision might well get it wrong, and programmers who don't like it can't do anything to change this other than get a job elsewhere.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"Tell me what you want to do?"

"Email Susan and tell her I'll be 20 minutes late because of traffic".

"I'm sorry I didn't get that, can you say it again"

"Email Susan and tell her I'll be 20 minutes late because of traffic".

"I'm sorry I didn't get that, can you say it again"

"Open email program"

"You say you want to open an email program is that correct?"

"Yes"

"Do you want launch Evolution, Thunderbird or GMail. Say option 1 for Evolution, option 2 for Thunderbird, or option 3 for GMail"

"Thunderbird"

"Do you want launch Evolution, Thunderbird or GMail. Say option 1 for Evolution, option 2 for Thunderbird, or option 3 for GMail"

"Option 2"

"Starting Thunderbird"

"Compose"

"I'm sorry I didn't get that, can you say it again"

"Compose"

"I'm sorry I didn't get that, can you say it again"

"New email"

"New email, please state who it is for"

"Susan"

"Is that Susan Smith, Susan Smith at Work, or SusanGainThreeInchesHerbalViagra? Say option 1 for Susan Smith, option 2 Susan Smith at Work or option 3 SusanGainThreeInchesHerbalViagra"

"Option 1"

"Composing new email to Susan Smith. Please say text"

"Hi Susan, I'll be delayed by 20 minutes due to traffic"

"You typed 'High Suzanne, ill be delighted by 20 minutes dew too traffic' Is that correct?"

"Arghhhhhhh!!"

"I'm sorry I didn't get that, can you say it again"

Even Google / Apple with their massive resources and all the power of the cloud have limits on what you can do with voice control, constrained to some canned actions through their respective Siri / Google Now apps. What chance does Ubuntu have? Is it even something useful considering the mouse and keyboard are there and the person is seated in front of a screen?

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

Windows 95 was a big change and a lot of people didn't like it at first, now there's a change away from that paradigm and most people want to stay with it.

I remember the most hate about WIndows 95 was the sheer amount of hard drive space it required, and it breaking compatibility with a crapton of stuff that came before. There were the lies about "your DOS programs now run faster than ever", the price, and the fact that up until Windows 95, at least you could buy alternative operating systems that worked with the vast majority of software (except Microsoft software, natch).

However, at least Windows 95 included progman if you still wanted to use it that way. Does Windows 8 have the start menu? No, it has a shitty phone UI and you will eat it up and say Thankyou Sir.

Speaking of which, will KDE, XFCE and other desktop environments more suited to the desktop environment continue to work in Mir?

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law @Ian Mcknee

I guess the arrogance and short-termism will only be proven if Canonical isn't a success with their efforts. At the moment, I think they on track to being a success, and I think its disingenuous to imply they don't contribute anything back - they do.

I'm guessing now, but presumably, MIR is OSS, and anyone can use it if they want to? Would like to know.

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Re: M Gale

Sounds to me like you just proved andreas koch's point big style!

(plus, "desktop environments more suited to the desktop environment"? Do what?)

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Re: forking generally good for long term

@PyLETS: yes, agreed. But Canonical are not forking Wayland with Mir. The way Canonical are requiring contributors to Mir to agree to grant Canonical the ability to relicense their code in any way they see fit makes it pretty clear they have no intention of creating anything that can be fed back into the broader ecosystem in any positive way.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"Tell me what you want to do?"

"Email Susan and tell her I'll be 20 minutes late because of traffic".

That, 1000 times, that! (but who's Susan?) - though the email part becomes redundant, the "smarts" would just record your voice, filter out extraneous background noise and send that as the message.

You are absolutely correct though: even Google's voicey thing (can't speak for Apple, never seen/used it) has trouble - but I have used it to translate We skipped the light fandango/Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor/I was feeling kinda seasick/But the crowd called out for more into spanish. But in 20 years time, they won't have trouble doing what I envisaged. And it probably won't matter what your native language is, either.

Back in the mid 1970's there was a machine called the PERQ. It was marketed in the UK by ICL and did pretty much everything that users want from a machine today: GUI, mouse, networking, running stuff. If development into voice & face recognition had progressed as much as graphical software has and audio cards kept pace with graphics hardware - you could probably stare at your computer screen now it it would read your mind.

Instead we're bogged down with eye-candy written by some very clever programmers with extreme technical skills, but bugger all utility so far as designing a user interface goes.

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Re: M Gale

Sounds to me like you just proved andreas koch's point big style!

Unless I'm completely misreading their post, Koch's point was about the UI. I'm pointing out that there was a lot more disliked about Win95 than the UI. Hell, the Win95 UI wasn't a radical break from Win3.11. You could still use Windows 95 without touching the Start menu, creating folders on the desktop just like you would with the old progman (which was still included in Windows 95, as already mentioned).

Windows 8 (and Unity) on the other hand, seem to be more about turning desktop computers into phones. No ta. I'd rather have something that works, without some OS X-alike unified menu bar, either. And, as mentioned, I'm wondering how well KDE, XFCE and other less phone-like UIs will work with Mir?

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

Applause! I get the same feeling. Programmers and people with decades of computer experience complain about the "type and launch" paradigm. What I don't understand is that some of the most tenacious cli guys prefer to point and click, instead of typing and lauching.

Like you, I've tried it and discovered that I am much, much faster with the type and launch paradigm, than point and click.

However! I regularly only use 5-8 applications, so I imagine that the old way of doing things could be better for someone who regularly has to use 20-30 applications, since that might be straining your memory a bit. On the other hand, using CLI, I am familiar with at least 20-30 commands + options, so even that shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"no, Canonical don't have work with the rest of the Linux community - but it smacks of the arrogance and short-termism of a multi-millionaire VC to fail to see the huge benefits (to Ubuntu as well as other distros) of developing for Linux generally rather than just Ubuntu."

Well that's only true for Canonical if what the rest of the community wants aligns with what they want. They clearly believe it doesn't so they're striking out on their own.

If it's all open source then the community can still benefit if they choose to use it. If not they don't. I'm all for plurarity of ideas - the best ones should rise to the top.

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Coat

Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

To an extent, I agree with this except that you can categorise change two ways. Needful or useful change may annoy some users just as with Windows 95 or similar. These changes are often adopted because what it replaces has some sort of problem that is overcome by the successor. UIs, for example, are only the solution as long as the task at hand and the machinery in use suit the purpose.

Then you get change that is either badly conceived, applied or is simply unnecessary. That's where the eye candy often emerges, and Unity, GNOME and KDE alike have been accused of this and, IMHO, are all equally guilty of introducing elements that nobody wanted or needed. The problem is that when such changes occur, the useful changes often get struck down as well.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"Personally, I'd much prefer a user interface that contained one simple question and a box for the user to type, write or speak the answer."

So, a text-based version of Microsoft Bob, then?

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

"I remember the most hate about WIndows 95 was ..."

I remember the Windows guys saying "if I wanted a Mac I'd have goten a Mac". Take ten seconds to ponder that.

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

Have to admit, shortly after the release of Unity I sat down and tried each of the main *buntu release DEs and Gnome3 with a view to finding which is best. I gave each DE a week as my daily user and eventually settled on Gnome 3 as my favourite, ironic really as they decided to create Unity rather than move to Gnome 3. On the flip side I do rather like the Unity phone GUI.

Anyway, the point is more that there's a lot of variety out there for people to use, so much so that I see little point in complaining about one distro's direction as there's alternate options for you to try, Unlike with Microsoft where if they decide to change something you either like it or lump it.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"box might just say

Tell me what you want to do?"

If that's what you want, get an iPhone.

The principal point of open source software is that it's free as in freedom. Canonical can do whatever they want with it, and so can you and I. If you don't like it, use something else, or roll your own. If Ubuntu was doing the same as Red Hat, SuZE or any other distro there would be no point to its existance.

Personally I currently prefer Mint/Cinnamon/Docky, but I keep a close eye on what Canonical are doing, because if they get it right with their PC/phone/tablet integration, they will have a dream system, unlike MS, who have got it just about as wrong as possible.

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Re: M Gale

Mir is irrelevant - - every other mainstream Linux DE is going Wayland.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"Tell me what you want to do?"

"Email Susan and tell her I'll be 20 minutes late because of traffic".

That, 1000 times, that! (but who's Susan?) - though the email part becomes redundant, the "smarts" would just record your voice, filter out extraneous background noise and send that as the message.

Back in the late 19th century there was this machine called a telephone. I understand it became quite popular for a while. Nowadays you can just send people text messages from a small device that fits in your pocket.

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

As a long lime Quicksilver user on a Mac I found Unity very easy to use and would not be without it. It took a day or two to get used to Quicksilver and now I find it very hard to use Windows, Gnome etc.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

Tell me what you want to do?

I'm not sure. There's that thing that let you take a file and change it. You know, I'd recognise it if you'd show me a menu. You know, like you used to when you were a computer, instead of this useless, fake person that annoys the hell out of me. You were good as a computer, why pretend to be something you're not?

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

The right tool for the job.

The things that I use most often are front and center in my UI. There's is no need to go searching for them. FORCING me to use a search interface for common tasks is less efficient and less easy.

The problem with Unity and other interfaces like it is that it sabotages my ability to keep the most relevant stuff handy.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

And then there's this: Voice recognition lift

http://dotsub.com/view/6c5d7514-5656-476a-9504-07dd4e2f6509

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

> I guess the answer to "Why do all this?" would be "because we can".

No the answer to "Why" is the same as to why Microsoft went all Metro on us: that manufacturers think the PC is dying.

Ubuntu's interface is looking and feeling a lot like Windows 8 because they've both decided that mobile, low-powered, devices with touch interface is the future.

And honestly, if that's the future I want no part of it.

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Headmaster

Re: Reversing Moore's Law

>Tell me what you want to do?

Tellingly, that isn't a question. It's a command mis-punctuated. (It might be a question in Redmond, though. I can't be arsed to check. I just don't want the truth from that quarter.)

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"Composing new email to Susan Smith. Please say text"

"Hi Susan, I'll be delayed by 20 minutes due to traffic"

"You typed 'High Suzanne, ill be delighted by 20 minutes dew too traffic' Is that correct?"

"Arghhhhhhh!!"

"I'm sorry I didn't get that, can you say it again"

Go to hell, you miserable pile of excrement.

The device faithfully does so and loads Windows ME as a replacement OS.

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

@andreas koch

I agree with you though, Unity is OK, I don't like it myself and I just have to put my most used programs on the desktop. I prefer Linux Mint's Cinnamon UI for desktops.

Was you around for Win95's launch? People didn't "hate" it because it was a change, it was because it broke older software not designed for Win95. For the most part people liked the UI and once SP1 came out it was much better.

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

xfce had better work or I'll not be using any new versions of Ubuntu.

And even then, xfce is a bit shit. I'd rather just have a plain old boring window manager - olvwm by preference - and none of this desktop or panel nonsense, as just about everything I do is done in an xterm or a browser.

Bah and harrumph.

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Re: Reversing Moore's Law

No the answer to "Why" is the same as to why Microsoft went all Metro on us: that manufacturers think the PC is dying.

That's in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy: The more people muck about with the PC the more it is likely to die. You meddle with a successful formula at your peril.

Yes, sure, there are smartphones and tablets and other nice new toys that extend what we can all achieve with our personal collection of IT kit -- and the ways and the places in which we can use it -- but these are additional devices not replacements for the PC. Yes, some people will find that they can manage with just a mobile device but most of us will cling to our PCs ... unless some fool causes them to mutate into something that no longer does the job we want in the way that we want.

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@David Cantrell

What about Windowmaker? It's back in production and even if it wasn't the version released about 6 years ago is still the best "desktop" I've ever used.

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Re: @ Pete 2 - Reversing Moore's Law

"The problem with Unity and other interfaces like it is that it sabotages my ability to keep the most relevant stuff handy."

I find it very easy to keep relevant stuff handy with Unity, any application I need regularly can have its own one click launcher button, anything I've worked on recently comes up at the top of the list without inputting a search at all, although it's faster to start typing whatever it is I want.

I'm using an iPad right now so just fired up my netbook to check I wasn't making stuff up, the letter M brings up Mahjong 'te' brings up terminal and text editor, 'tex' loses terminal and adds Libreofficewriter, etc, etc,

Lots of people complain over losing their menus but there are problems with menus, what if there is no menu entry for whatever it is you want?

Also due to the tree nature of menus you have to know wheather to look under administration or preferences or graphics or productivity or whatever.

I'll admit that I found Unity strange at first and hung onto 9.10 for ages but having made the plunge I wouldn't go back.

If he likes Unity so much why is he using an iPad I hear you say, well it fires up quicker than my A1 and the screen is bigger, however pasting the bit at the top of this was frankly laborious, and would have been much quicker on the netbook.

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I don't want any of this.

Does anyone want any of this?

They seem to have had a meeting where someone asked "How can we make linux worse" and all their recent decisions are based on it.

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Re: I don't want any of this.

@ jb99

If you dont want it then dont get it. It doesnt come bundled onto a computer which bumps up the price tag. You could get ubuntu and change the interface with minimal effort. You could abandon ubuntu and get something else.

If you dont want this you have many options. Such is the joy of linux

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Re: I don't want any of this.

Actually, I do want most of the under-the-hood things Canonical are doing. What I (still) don't want is any GUI that has me jump through hoops just to fire up an application that I would otherwise start up from a well-sorted menu, or from a well-sorted folder.

The biggest news is, of course, the display server. X.org is getting to be a little long in the tooth these days (again--I still remember the times when XFree86 was the go-to display server because X.org was stuck firmly in the early 1990s). I think it's a good thing that work is being done on a modern DS.

My biggest no-no is Unity. The thing just simply keeps me from getting work done, that's why I am using Kubuntu. Otherwise, I find very little wrong with Canonical's efforts.

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Re: I don't want any of this.

Sure, and that's fine.

If they want to go off their own way producing stuff nobody wants then that's up to them.

The problem is that they also have a lot of good stuff, and it's not fun to have to decide if putting up with the bad stuff forever is worth the gain.

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Mushroom

@ jb99 and a lot of others - Re: I don't want any of this.

For crying out loud . . .

No one has to put up with anything whatsoever at all.

Keep what you like, drop what you hate. Is that so hard? There is no need to put up with a disliked feature just because it's there in a distro!!!!!!! Remove it and get something else that you like instead. If the GUI doesn't suit you, get another GUI. Get a naked kernel and build your own. Do as you like!

There is no, N O , reason ever to have to put up with something that a Linux distro provides. This isn't a locked system, you are root.

Some of you guys sound like you go to McDonalds, order a burger and fries and then complain that you don't get bangers and mash.

Phew. Dried frog pills. Need to take dried frog pills . . .

Better now.

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'if you're stuck using proprietary drivers'

You mean 'if you use drivers that actually work properly and outperform the open source drivers'.

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Re: 'if you're stuck using proprietary drivers'

It depends on your graphics hardware, of course - some open source drivers work exceptionally well. And with the SteamOS announcement, this should become the norm rather than the exception.

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Re: 'if you're stuck using proprietary drivers'

And with the SteamOS announcement, this should become the norm rather than the exception.

So long as it doesn't come with Steam, I'll be happy.

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Re: 'if you're stuck using proprietary drivers'

Mir and Wayland have very specific requirements from their drivers - decent EGL and OpenGL ES 2.0 support. I've read the odd comment of certain binary drivers being buggy or non functional through those APIs which is not surprising since Linux desktops wouldn't have used them much until now.

It's not just Mir / Wayland either. Here are Dolphin devs complaining about the bugs they found porting from OpenGL to OpenGL ES for various GPUs.

https://dolphin-emu.org/blog/2013/09/26/dolphin-emulator-and-opengl-drivers-hall-fameshame/

Perhaps it's just easier when developing a low level client side display server to be able see what the driver is up to and the binary drivers will catch up in due course.

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