back to article Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...

The future is here, or at least the next five years of it for Ubuntu fans. Canonical has released Ubuntu 14.04 Long-Term Support (LTS) release, meaning the Linux shop will be supporting this distro until 2019. Significantly, this is likely the first look that more conservative users will get at the direction Ubuntu has been …

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  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The narcissism of small differences

    > If such tiny UI refinements don't impress you ...

    What does impress me, when I see it, are new features: things that I wanted to do in Version 1.0 that are now possible in Version 2.0. If they are things that I didn't even know I wanted to do (until I tried it), then that is a true improvement: real innovation.

    But so far as Ubuntu goes, as a full-time user since version 8, I'm still waiting. Though to be fair, I'd probably say the same about any other O/S release, including OS/X or Windows. That WinXP still has such a large user-base would indicate that there are millions of other people who regard an O/S in the same way: unless there is a new killer app or feature, why change?

    But so far as GUI design is concerned, the best thing it can be, is (like a good butler) completely invisible, yet indispensable at the same time. It should "know" what I am going to want and have it ready for me - with the minimum of fuss, time and keyclicks or mouse movement. Anything that comes between me and what I want to achieve is unwelcome.

  3. h4rm0ny Silver badge

    Re: The narcissism of small differences

    Sometimes small differences mount up enough to make the difference though.

    I use Xubuntu on one of my VMs so some of this passed me by, but I did try Unity. I didn't like it but that was mainly because there were too many inconsistencies, annoying oddities and it generally felt unpleasant. It was sort of in an Uncanny Valley between a polished modern touch-style interface such as iOS and an old school GNU/Linux DE such as KDE or Gnome. Based on the above, I'm willing to give it a try again. (Though I'll be disabling the Amazon-snooping, obviously).

    >>"That WinXP still has such a large user-base would indicate that there are millions of other people who regard an O/S in the same way: unless there is a new killer app or feature, why change?"

    Well the XP user base is obviously made up of those for whom their PC is not a primary focus and / or tech not a core interest. Those of us Windows users who are focused on IT are long since moved on from XP. I never even used XP at home. I went Linux->Windows 7. XP simply wasn't suitable for a tech-savvy person, imo. The point is, GNU/Linux users are not the same audience as current XP users. They are people who are willing to rip out an OS and put a new one in and have significant technical expertise (compared to the average user, anyway). With an audience like that, it's well worth making a pile of refinements like this even if there aren't any wild new features.

    Anyway, pint for the Ubuntu teams (including the documentors and translators). I'm sure they've been busy and earned it.

  4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: The narcissism of small differences

    It should "know" what I am going to want and have it ready for me

    Be careful what you wish for though. That can go too far such that the OS "forces" you do things the way the OS designer wants you to rather than the way you want to.

    Many of the most visible changes in each new Windows release are like this IMO

  5. Matthew 25

    Re: The narcissism of small differences

    Agreed and +1 from me. I find iOS and OS X also force you to do things a certain way and I find it very frustrating.

  6. James 132

    Re: The narcissism of small differences

    I really like OS X. It's pretty well organised even if I can feel the slide towards fondleslab trends.

    For Linux/BSD KDE has won me over through sheer utility (as had XFCE, but I do find KDE a very fluid and tidy experience) which is no mean feat considering I really disliked version 4 on release. I suppose it's just good to have something with lots of choices.

  7. Wzrd1

    Re: The narcissism of small differences

    Blather.

    It worked quite well for me with 12.04, it's working quite well for me on my test environment. I might update the rest of the systems at home in the late summer to early fall, after the version bump comes out.

    Upsides: newer kernel tree level. Enhancements of that which was a bit functional to be more functional.

    My 5 year old+ systems are working fine, thank you, have zero clue what the author was blithering nonsense about, it's a matter of choosing frills you want or do not want.

    But then, the vast and overwhelming majority of work that I do on the machines is on the command line. The only time I use the GUI is to write a formal letter, print it and post it or when I have to write a formal letter and, ugh, fax it.

    What matters is this:

    It works. It does the job. Other distros could as well, but this one works reasonably well with only modest tweaking *and* has an LTS version.

    Out of five test machines, only one had a problem and that was an HD that was positively ancient failed hard. As much of my home environment is enterprise level servers and switches and the rest is older workstations, it's a "big shit", order a new HD and move on.

    Had one bit of annoyance with one test netbook, with a massive 8 gig SSD, not quite enough space for a basic office system. Did an apt-get clear and life was good again. SSD tuning wasn't necessary, but I'll probably play with it to see what I can break, erm, improve. OK, don't see improvement in the cards.

    One broken thing on that miniscule antique system is overlayfs, which has some brokeness inherited from debian. But, if I boot without the overlay, the base OS is up and can update without fudging by adding chances to the overlay on flash card and instead update the base OS on SSD.

    As for it overall, it's an updated version of a solid distro. It isn't like we're talking about the difference between a Vic-20 and the GSV Grey Area.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Three questions

    Does it have:

    (a) Multiple workspaces?

    (b) An easy way to differentiate running programs on the left-hand bar?

    (c) A hierarchical menu system as opposed to a need to search or pin favourites?

    Absent those, it doesn't fit my use case. I'll give it a try in a virtual machine, probably, but the original Unity pushed me to Cinnamon and Mint and I haven't yet seen a reason to return.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    I'm not only looking at you Canonical, you seem to have slavishly copied MS here.

    Why? Can someone please explain to a dumb ass like myself (only 42 years in IT) why you have to search for everything all the time (unless you pin the app)?

    I have several versions of some products on my system. With a hierarchical menu system I know which version of the apps I'm using. simple and easy. Searching? not a chance.

    Once upon a time I waved the Ubuntu flag but with decreasing quality (after 10.04) and this mess that is Unity, I threw in the towel and deserted the ship. I still try the new releases of Ubuntu but these days, I really have better things to do with my time.

  10. MrWibble

    Re: Three questions

    a: yes

    b: yes

    c: Nope.

    what do I win?

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Re: Three questions

    My thanks, Mr Wibble.

  12. Rob Carriere

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    Why search for everything? Because it fits well with a keyboard-centric way of working. Unity is pretty meh unless you're a keyboard freak, then it effortlessly outstrips everything else out there.

    The funny bit about Unity is that it will work reasonably well for a beginner (no clutter to get lost in) and it shines for the experienced keyboarder. The ground between beginner and expert and the ground for mouse-based experts is left, well, not bare, but certainly not covered by anything very inspiring either.

  13. southpacificpom
    Headmaster

    Re: Three questions

    "what do I win?"

    Nothing, but two out of three isn't bad.

    The answer to (c) is, yes if you install the classic-menu-indicator ppa.

  14. Connor

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    "Why? Can someone please explain to a dumb ass like myself (only 42 years in IT) why you have to search for everything all the time (unless you pin the app)?"

    Because it is so much faster. You don't really 'search' for it, the results are instant. Believe me, going from Ubuntu to Windows XP and Windows 7 demonstrates the benefit of this method as you realise with those OSs that there is no quick way of finding a program, and it is very frustrating (Click Start > All Programs > (wait) Scroll > (wrong folder) > Scroll > (gone past it) > Scroll > Click. Compared to typing one or two letters and clicking. It also works with system settings, rather than having to open the Control Panel (as in Windows) and hunt around for the right setting to change by finding what it appears under. I really can't believe we did it the Windows way for so many years.

    There are drawbacks to this Unity method though. Firstly you have to know the name of the thing you are searching for, secondly you have to spell it correctly. Incidentally though, Unity was like this way before Windows 8, so if any copying was done it was the other way around. Besides that search is Windows 8's best feature.

  15. Avatar of They
    Meh

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    Time saved by not using mouse, you move your mouse, click, click, click, voila.

    As you said when typing you start typing ASSUMING you know what you are looking for. Timing is massively increased because when it has loaded what do you do, you get your mouse and start to navigate inside Word or Excel etc. You don't just continue to click away, no one uses only shortcuts in Word or Excel? (Well no one I have ever met)

    I move my mouse, click on the icon. Takes a lot less than any menu movement and how can there be less clutter than an embedded menu system.

    Typing for stuff should be left for servers because if you don't know what it is called you are left with a myriad of options. It could be media player, it could be amarok, it could be banshee, or it could be that default new third party app they bundled on this release, or it could be that crappy one I don't like, what did they call it? I have three installed, which is the one I usually use, the auto loading one, erm... Was it Winamp? no that is on XP, so amarok, how do you spell it amarak? No wait for the search... Nope that isn't installed, erm... Media player.... Oh what is that bringing back now? I just typed it in and now it is still requiring me to type in AGAIN....

    And so on.

    So you shortcut it as a desktop or unity icon but you end up having forty icons on the left because searching is pants and so you shortcut everything, and you spend your life scrolling up and down to find what you want in a badly orientated way. (Or just go to Mint and Cinnamon like I did)

    And you are right it is Windows 8 best feature. There is not thing like typing 'control panel' on the desktop and it not working, so changing to the metro and typing 'control panel' and have it take you back to the desktop to get it to load control Panel. Sadly I liked it so much I went back to Windows 7, (Actually not due to searching, but because of licensing and the god awful metro and constant left and right scrolling)

  16. big_D Silver badge

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    @Connor it sounds as though you haven't used Windows 7 (or Vista). You press the Windows key on the keyboard and enter the first couple of letters of the applications name (or the document or email you are searching for) and it opens up a list of results for you - much the same as OS X, except it is Command + Space there.

    In fact there is no clicking involved. To open Filezilla, for example, [Start]filez[Enter] is enough to launch it.

    In fact the searching was one of the things that brought me back to Windows after XP had driven me to Linux. I'm not a Unity fan, I much prefer KDE, which is why I still use SUSE for my Linux fix.

  17. Connor

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    @big_D I have used Windows 7, not Vista though. On Windows 7 it was far from instant, it takes ages for the results to appear, so much so that I just tend to go through the menu as it is so much quicker. In Windows 8 and Unity it is instant (admittedly the first time in Unity is slow, but every search after that is instant). Maybe it gets faster after the first time, or maybe it depends on the machine (it is anything but fast) on Windows 7? I admit I have rarely used Windows 7.

  18. Tom B

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    I have never understood the fascination with search on your own PC. Now, I'll be the first one to admit that I have a poor memory, but even I can remember where I put a particular program or data file. And if it's a data file, I usually make sure the filename is long enough to give a clear idea what's in it. Searching for that one email from three months ago, yes. Searching for something on my own computer, that I myself put there? Ah, no.

    Oh, and one more thing. Where in the bloody blue blazes did you get the phrase "a new P"? Could you be a little more vague, please? I mean, I almost understood what you were talking about, and that was obviously not your intent. Sheesh, next you'll be writing articles entirely in emote icons and text message abbreviations! OMG!

  19. big_D Silver badge

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    @Tom B

    Quickly finding all emails and documents referring to a certain topic is useful.

    I tend to be well organised, but I still use the search now and then, especially if my boss starts shouting and wants proof that a series of emails went out. It is much quicker than picking out 20 emails from a folder with a thousand or so emails relating to one project.

    Again, looking for a specific document, I can usually navigate to it fairly quickly, but if I need to find all references to a specific product we sold to 20 out of over 200 different customers, searching is generally quicker than going through all those proposal documents scattered in different customer folders.

  20. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Search is for people who do not organize their data on the PC or only have one copy of any given item - aka most people. As soon as you develop or program things, you are bound to have archive copies of this or that in backup folders and that totally screws up the search function.

    Being a developer, I do organize my data, my folders and my disks. I know where I put things and I must be sure of what copy of a given program I am launching in order to properly interpret the results.

    So no search for me.

  21. I Am Spartacus
    Megaphone

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    @Avatar of They

    Well, if you have ever been a power user of Word or Excel in their 2010 or 2013 hideous incarnations with that damn ribbon instead of a menu, you will now that power users do use any keyclicks that can to get what the need. This is because MS applications follows the Spartacus Law of HMI.

    This says "The probability of the function you want being of a different ribbon to the one you have currently displayed is inversely proportional to you knowing what the correct ribbon menu is".

    So if you know that "Remove Duplicates" is on the Data bar, you will already be there. But if you don't know how to change a single page to landscape, then it will not be on the current ribbon, and you will be lost.

    Thus, power users who know what they don't know put in short cuts to all the functions they use all the time.

    Besides which, real men don't use mice.

  22. Vic

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    In fact the searching was one of the things that brought me back to Windows after XP had driven me to Linux.

    I don't have an issue with search - I've been known to use it myself.

    What annoys me is when the DE developers *remove* discoverability so that search is all that is left; that makes it very hard for people who don't remember the name of their application to get to it (and I've supported many such users over the years).

    My desktop - Gnome2 - has the search interface *as well as* the hierarchical menu interface. I still believe this is superior to a DE that has just one of those.

    Vic.

  23. BitDr

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    Fascinating. A keyboard centric GUI... whatever for... just use the shell. There... fixed that for ya.

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  25. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    I'm pretty sure the author meant PC, it makes sense, much more sense than "a new P". You can send corrections you know, and they do appreciate it when you do.

  26. Matthew 25

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    How can Canonical have copied Windows when Canonical got there first?

  27. localgeek

    The same is true for us photographers. I have multiple backups and edited versions of a single file. While I can search for images in Lightroom, for example, I rarely use that feature. I have carefully organized my photos using a number of criteria that make sense to me.

    Only rarely do I search for anything on my computer.

  28. dvanzo

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    If you don't have problems adding ppas, you can try with: http://www.webupd8.org/2014/03/classicmenu-indicator-09-released-with.html

  29. keithpeter
    Coat

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    "Why search for everything? Because it fits well with a keyboard-centric way of working."

    @Rob Carriere

    Keyboard centric unless you are a big user of nmemonic shortcuts (Alt-FA to Save As... for instance, or in LibreOffice Alt-IOF to insert a formula). These did not work at all in earlier Unity releases. The top level now works so you can e.g. pull up the File menu using Alt-F, but two or three letter chords do not work.

    I have various mnemonic codes wired into my fingers, so I'm using Gnome Ubuntu 14.04 at present on the test laptop - have not been able to work with unity since 12.04 which is a shame because I think its use of wide screen real estate is efficient.

  30. Greg J Preece

    Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

    Why search for everything? Because it fits well with a keyboard-centric way of working. Unity is pretty meh unless you're a keyboard freak, then it effortlessly outstrips everything else out there.

    Amen. If your work is keyboard-intensive (I'm a programmer, myself) as opposed to mouse/tablet/other arty things, then quick-search is the very best. I used to be that guy that slavishly organised all his menus, back in the XP days, but since the advent of first KDE 4 and then Windows 7, I've started using quick-search for everything. Hit ALT+F2 or the Windows key (depending on system), type what I want, hit enter. All the programs I use that have different versions are tagged as such at installation, so it works really well for me. It's also why the Windows 8 Start Screen on my desktop and laptop doesn't even remotely bother me any more - if you're a keyboard user then it works pretty much identically to the Win7 menu, so who cares?

    Horses for courses, naturally, but that's what's great about Linux. If the way Unity does something isn't for you, install something else.

    Lastly, I definitely agree with the person above who said that a lot of small changes over time make a big difference. Even without comparing KDE 4.0 to its current state, I have to use XP from time to time, and going back to it now feels like using a dinosaur. I guess it depends how static your working methods are over time, but using XP now just pisses me off. Its reputation is far in excess of what it deserves.

  31. Greg J Preece

    Being a developer, I do organize my data, my folders and my disks. I know where I put things and I must be sure of what copy of a given program I am launching in order to properly interpret the results.

    I'm also a developer, and my projects folders are meticulously organised. But am I going to click into a file explorer, then down through level after level to get to the right spot, or am I going to type a few letters of the filename and select the right version from the results? KDE will show me the version or path of what I'm about to hit, so it works pretty well.

  32. Rob Carriere

    I think we're partly talking past each other. I completely agree that most of the time, search is inconvenient for file access and the few times it is convenient, it's either because I or a a colleague messed up and something wasn't filed where it belonged or because I'm trying to make sense of a project I'm not familiar with. (And then I'm usually using find and/or grep, not the Unity file search.)

    Where I find search to be superior to menus is in program startup and occasionally as a replacement for deep menu navigation. This is a very fast way to get to programs I don't use frequently enough to pin. So, windows key;c;a;enter and Calibre starts up. Windows key;g;enter and gjiten is there and so on.

    Things that I do use frequently enough to pin are even faster. WIndows key + 7 and emacs is up. Still other stuff I fire up from a shell; xdg-open foo.pdf and so on. The whole system works well enough I don't need much pinned. (nautilus, firefox, write, calc, settings, shell, emacs, xpad -- and the write should actually be removed, I hardly ever fire that up from the bar.)

    I agree that discoverability isn't as good as a classical menu system. I don't care, that's startup costs. I use computers intensively and startup costs are negligible compared to the total, so the relevant criterion to me is the speed I can eventually reach. And between fast application access and not having to drag windows around, I think Unity saves me an hour every week.

    That's not for everybody of course. Somebody who spends their time in Gimp is going to be using the mouse far more often than I do. Even office software has many features that are easier with the mouse than the keyboard. So, no I'm not claiming this is a universal solution; I'm certainly not saying that everybody should switch. I am saying that it works for me and that works amazingly well for me.

  33. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Not just developers, 'power users' (I was one before it became a disgusting epithet) also like to organize.

    I know from what a program does, which submenu it will be in, and I also have more than one version of some programs, or some named very similarly. The 'I can't work a menu system' method doesn't work for me either

  34. Steven Raith
    Happy

    I don't see what the problem is with search when it comes to a well organised file structure - you can either navigate to the folder location manually, or if you know the metadata attached to it (IE if I made a document that contains the phrase 'Draytek 2860' I can search for that) then you can fire up the quick search dialog (Apple+space, WindowsKey on any NT6 platform, I forget the Ubuntu shortcut, think it's just the home key) and enter the phrase you are looking for.

    Yes, there are edge cases where you can have multiple similar file names in different folders, but in that case you can get programs that will let you search by extended metadata that they add - IE if you import a PDF from an email attachment, it'll tag it with the time recieved, who it was sent to, from, subject, attachment name etc - Filestar and X1 just to name a couple I've worked with (but not for, natch) which seem to fill this niche nicely. When your document store gets to a certain stage, it starts to make sense to move on to them - or to have a very well organised filesystem that doesn't crap itself after 253 characters of folder/file length. I'm looking at you, NTFS ;-)

    For programs, there's metadata too - if I fire up my Ubuntu box in the corner, I can search for photo, and it'll show me my photos directory, and what photo editors I have, the built in webcam booth software, etc on the machine and cursor-key to them if I want. You don't have to search for the specific program name or owt.

    I used to be of the opinion that wide search was crap, till I started using it. It also keeps my toolbar/taskbar/launcher clean of the dozens of apps I used to have pinned in them, too. More specifically, it means I can arrange my most commonly used apps in the taskbar, and when the machine boots, I just single click down the list, Super-S, and drag them to the workspace I want them on (one day I'll learn how to have them launch to a preferred workspace....one day) and I can just search for anything else.

    And as I've mentioned - many times - before, NewUI/Metro/Whatever search on Server 2012 is actually....pretty handy. Hitting start, Typing group then hitting return is far faster than navigating through the system management console - and as I work on a lot of different servers remotely, it's pretty handy to not have to remember if that particular server has a list as long as my arm of roles and functions that I have to mouse through to find that one function - just hit search, type in the first few letters, hit return.

    Horses for courses and all that, but against my own expectations I've come to really rather like it, in general (IE ignoring stuff like the Windows 8 start screen enforcement - I like search, but I don't like the brutality and idiotic way it was shoehorned in) And my filesystem is still nicely arranged into photos, TV, movies and grot, thanks. I might be oh so lazy, but I've still got standards ;-)

    Steven R

  35. Martijn Otto

    I have switched all my home computers to Debian Wheezy since the start of this privacy madness and it's been nothing short of a great relief. Some things hadn't been working properly since years (like mplayer & vdpau, one release mplayer would suddenly fail to suspend the screensaver, the next release would see ugly flashes in the screen when running an overlay for the OSD, etc...).

    After installing Debian all these problems vanished like snow. At work we run Ubuntu, which in the last release still has so many bugs. Adding all the privacy issues means it's just not good enough and I see no reason to use it unless I have to.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    New PC

    Hhhmm.

    I'm literally awaiting arrival of the components for my new (Haswell) PC.

    Now I'm torn whether to go with 14.04 or 12.04.4. The latter will have the rough edges sanded off to a greater degree if my previous practise of waiting for point releases holds true. That, and I don't have to wait for 3rd parties to catch up with little glitches (Spotify, I'm gawping at you, with your fuzzy notification bar icon under 14.04, etc).

    12.0.4.4 has an improved hardware enablement stack, but it obviously won't be as up-to-date as the one in 14.04.

    Which way would you lot lean?

  37. h4rm0ny Silver badge

    Re: New PC

    >>"Which way would you lot lean?"

    To the latest. I kind of enjoy seeing the flurry of updates and fixes come flooding down the wire in the heady first few weeks of a release. It's satisfying in some weird way. :)

    Plus if you wait until 14.10 your OS will be, what, not the latest version for nearly half a year? I don't think I can stand not being on the latest version of anything for more than a couple of months. Though that may be my OCD speaking. ;)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: New PC

    Which way would you lot lean?

    Debian Wheezy

  39. stsr505089

    Re: New PC

    I'd go with the latest. 12.04 is showings its age a bit with support for the latest hardware. On the face of it there isn't a huge difference between the 2 when you're using the OS.

  40. keithpeter
    Coat

    Re: New PC

    @ h4rm0ny

    "To the latest. I kind of enjoy seeing the flurry of updates and fixes come flooding down the wire in the heady first few weeks of a release. It's satisfying in some weird way. :)"

    Manjaro Linux. Rolling distro, basically Arch with a profanity delay and an actual installer as opposed to a boot disc and commands to chroot. Meeelions of updates....

  41. Alan Bourke

    "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    Is there no centralised way to push a change to the default privacy settings a la Group Policy in Windows?

  42. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    Group policy is one of the strongest advantages for Windows on the desktop. It is something that Linux distributions have not so far replicated (although I'm fairly certain that there have been attempts that have not gained enough traction to become generally accepted). Providing a configuration method like the registry that can be abstracted into a remote directory at the system level was a very clever move by Microsoft, although not their idea (LDAP, Kerberos and DNS were around before Active Directory became common).

    But it always used to be that any changes you wanted to roll out system-wide on a UNIX-like system could be scripted and rolled out through some privileged remote execution method, something that UNIX-like operating systems excelled at (Kerberos came from UNIX-like systems). Coupled with the ability to completely segregate ordinary users from privileged users, this meant that you could roll out and configure UNIX-like desktop systems, and keep the configuration locked down and secure (at least from idle tampering). I have been doing this for 25 years or so, with UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems.

    Nowadays, with so much of the Linux desktop and the associated infrastructure using things like XML configuration files, it is no longer an easy job to set some of these options. I've always had significant difficulty, and as a result a lot of scorn for XML configuration files. I know, it is possible to deploy parsers that can interpret and change these files from scripts, but it strikes me that this is very difficult if you do not have the schema for the options in the file.

    I'm old-school, so can probably be laughed at by the younger generations, but I have tried to write my own parsers in shell and awk (still my tools of choice, because I absolutely know that they will be there on all but the most restricted UNIX-like system), and I just can't seem to do it. I know I'm not as sharp as I used to be, but it appears a non-trivial problem, even though XML is a well-defined language.

    Coming across a new tool or desktop component, and not knowing or being able to find the available options, which may be missing from the XML file if the defaults apply, means that it is a hopeless task without much research. And all too often these oh-so-clever new tools, which work great, have not been documented in enough detail to enable you to script such changes. Sometimes, a tool comes with a CLI application to manipulate the settings, but you have to know what it is, and how to drive it. And the next tool along might have a completely different configuration tool. It's a nightmare.

    Forgive me from ranting, but in this respect, I think that all Linux distributions have lost their way, and this is probably the flip-side of one of it's strength, choice.

  43. Vic

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    Is there no centralised way to push a change to the default privacy settings a la Group Policy in Windows?

    There are a number of ways to do this. My preference would be to use puppet, but it's far from the only solution.

    Vic.

  44. h4rm0ny Silver badge

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    >>I'm old-school, so can probably be laughed at by the younger generations, but I have tried to write my own parsers in shell and awk (still my tools of choice, because I absolutely know that they will be there on all but the most restricted UNIX-like system), and I just can't seem to do it. I know I'm not as sharp as I used to be, but it appears a non-trivial problem, even though XML is a well-defined language.

    It's not you, don't worry. Guido Van Rossum said that making human beings write XML is sadistic; and if he thinks that then it shows what a PITA it really is. I also started writing something to edit some XML once, two hours later realized what a hassle that was and cobbled together a PHP script to use SimpleXML. One of my clients uses Puppet as Vic mentions. They're always having problems with it, though.

    Btw, @Vic, I can see you're reading this forum and posting. I replied to your somewhat insulting calling me out on the article about Windows vs. GNU/Linux security models here: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/2166427 . Fairly thoroughly answers your post, I feel.

  45. DrXym Silver badge

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    Use a tool like Puppet. A centralised server (suitably called the Puppet Master) runs a bunch of checks on each worker and can push updates and new scripts from a central location.

  46. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    To You and the other who asked ... we have said it time and time again ... puppet handles Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, AIX, Android ... you name it, go look through the modules.

    @Scott Gilbertson

    Of course you can disable this privacy invasion setting on 1000 systems very trivially, even on Linux - without touching the image or a mouse, for that matter.

    A business that has Windows and is rolling out Linux will have something like puppet, obviously. Seriously, you can even do that with antique tech like NFS as well ... so please, stop spreading this non-sense. Unix had centralized configuration management before Windows had TCP/IP ....

  47. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Trollface

    Re: Btw, @Vic

    Nothing like a good cross-forum argument!

    Arguing security on ACLs versus permission bit-masks is so last decade...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    Ansible has a lower learning curve than Puppet, so is worth checking out.

    An ansible playbook can declare things like "package X must be installed", "config file Y must contain a line which looks like this" etc.

    Normally you'd run ansible on a central machine which connects (using ssh) to the machines being managed; but you can turn it around so that it pulls its config from a repo and runs directly on the managed machine, which is more puppet-style.

  49. Vic

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    I replied to your somewhat insulting calling me out on the article about Windows vs. GNU/Linux security models here

    I saw it.

    Fairly thoroughly answers your post, I feel.

    No, it doesn't. I could have written an even longer rebuttal, but as I see you've been a bit handy with the downvote button, I just couldn't be bothered. So I'm just going to leave things as they are; I'm really not that keen to argue with you.

    Vic.

  50. h4rm0ny Silver badge

    Re: "Less so for organisations running Ubuntu on lots of PCs and moving to 14.04"

    >>"No, it doesn't. I could have written an even longer rebuttal, but as I see you've been a bit handy with the downvote button, I just couldn't be bothered"

    You basically called me a liar. I responded more than proving that I was familiar with what I was talking about and supporting my case. I also asked for an apology.

    I don't know what you're referencing with "handy with the downvote button" but looking at your posts on that thread you've got more than one downvote so if I am one of them (I downvoted a few of your posts which were wrong or insulting, others I did not), then obviously other people also considered them wrong or insulting, too. I don't see voting one way or another as a requirement before you deign to reply.

    Regardless, I backed up what I said and if you don't have the graciousness to concede that, that's more your problem than mine.

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