back to article 2015 was the Year of the Linux Phone ... Nah, we're messing with you

For the desktop Linux user, 2015 was a great year. There were major updates for nearly every single desktop available, launches of brand new desktops, even an impressive new distro that's forging its own path. Popular software packages also saw impressive updates – like GIMP, Inkscape and LibreOffice to name just a few – and …

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The multiplicity of desktops is a strength, not a weakness. I use the desktop to provide access to documents which are reference material or WiP, not applications. If the only desktop was Gnome 3 or Unity I'd have given up on Linux already.

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Re Linux Desktop

Have you seen all those kids with Pi's at school? They dont seem to have any problem doing pretty much whatever they feel the need to. I'm guessing it doesnt come up on the normal OS sales figures but I'd imagine Raspbian outsold Win10 lately.

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

Defo. wrong side of bed this morning.

Raspbian is derived from Debian, and is on the Raspberry Pi. Even Mr Grumpy should be able to figure that name out.

Binary blobs, yes, but irrelevant. Closed hardware, somewhat true, still irrelevent. These are strawman arguments. 7M Raspberry Pi's sold, Raspbian on most of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Those who grew up with a ZX81, learned how to program the Z80 directly

What's your point? Evolution and innovation sucks?

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Meh

Re: Re Linux Desktop

Throw all the kids in at the deep end and see which of them float.

You are my hero.

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

I think most people who grew up with a ZX81 used BASIC.

Hitting the metal directly is frowned on these days for all kinds of reasons - but mainly because lots of clever people will have already written a kernel for you, so why would you think that a teenager learning to program would make a better job of it? Why would you want to have to build your own networking, security and memory management modules when your task is to transmit video from a webcam, for example?

Those kids are learning useful contemporary skills, I doubt they're much interested in earning bragging rights about how old fashioned they are on niche forums.

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Facepalm

Re: Linux vs ZX **

That old chestnut!

The majority of Sinclair users typed in listings or played commercial games. Very few of them learned to program. I did learn Z80 Assembler, 6502, 78C11, 8051, but used high level languages during learning to program (But not BASIC). I quickly progressed to Forth, Modula-2, Prolog on Z80. Various languages on PC, avoiding any serious programming in BASIC, save a test card generator for Spectrum, till VB6 and Option Explicit and writing programs only differing in syntax from C++, Modula-2, Ada or later Java.

Learning BASIC, or even Pascal or C++ language isn't learning to program either.

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

"The point is that today's generation being brought up on the Raspberry Pi, needs, 'Raspbian', (ridiculous name), to do anything.

Those who grew up with a ZX81, learned how to program the Z80 directly, not how to write shell scripts that need a half-free as in alcohol-free-beer, 'OS', stuffed with binary blob drivers, running on closed hardware."

Oh, yes the ZX80/81 - a step back in computing in everything but price from the initial PET/TRS-80/Apple-II generation. By the time you were trying to figure out BASIC they had moved on to having operating systems. And when TRS-DOS for the Trash-80 was a bit disappointing users rewrote or patched it as NEWDOS (swopping of 5" floppies was always a ceremony when at least two users got together - a sort of primitive networking).

So the ZX80/81 guys & guyesses grew up and appreciated a richer universe. Its nice that kids today for less than £30 can go straight into more or less 'proper' computing with virtually the same functionality (if scaled down somewhat) of a sophisticated real server or desktop.

And without having to blob about - just knowing which plug to put in which socket - can get a perfectly functioning PC to browse the internet. But messing about with blobs and scripts is there for the geeky crowd. The 2010_coder is being born without the limitations of a world being largely limited to POKEing & PEEKing.

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

> Who is going to write the kernel for the next generation of hardware if no teenagers learn real coding now?

Why do you think that teenagers are not learning programming now on RaspberryPis ? In order to access the GPIO they have to write Python, BASIC, C or many others. And it is not just toggling LEDs, they can use sensors and relays to study other subjects.

> This is why I still get asked to work on Fortran code from 30 years ago - virtually nobody else knows how to, or can be bothered.

And no one cares much about Z80 assembly or Sinclair BASIC either.

One of the advantages of the ZX81, C64 and BBC of the early 80s was that they had 'user ports' so that you could connect up switches and relays to control things. I still have the Usborne books: "How to Make Computer Model Controllers for C64, Vic 20, Spectrum and BBC", "Experiments with your Computer", "Practical Things to do with a Microcomputer", plus many more from the early 80s, including many BBC magazines. With BBC BASIC on Raspbian these can be reused for the new generation.

The RaspberryPi (and similar and Arduino) brings this back. In between, computers degraded to typing into Word or Excel. You should be celebrating RPi and Rasbian.

If you want direct metal get a PyBoard or run PiCore on RPiZero with BASIC.

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Re: Linux vs ZX **

This is such a stupid argument. People using a ZX or Atari 800 or whatever may have dealt with the machine at a lower level and learned to program it - maybe even learned assembler, but the fact that a much lower percentage of computer users know how now is NOT a failing of today's PCs and a strength of the past. They had no choice back then, because they were about 0.0001% as useful as today's PCs and smartphones!

One could equally argue that being able to buy a 6502, Z80 or x86 CPU is a bad deal because back in the day you had to use a breadboard and wire circuits yourself. The 80s_coder guy has definitely chosen an apt name, but he should had grumpy_old_fart to his handle for truth in advertising!

Technology marches on, and making it easier to use computers as tools without being required to know how they work makes the world a better place. We don't need 7 billion assembly programmers, any more than everyone who drives a car should need to know how to maintain it let alone how to make the steel that is used to build a car.

Human progress is not based on everyone learning everything that was done before them - if you had to do that it would have already halted because DaVinci was probably the last guy who was at an expert level in most fields of science. 80_coder might be a whiz when it comes to computers, but I doubt he has a similar level of knowledge concerning biology for instance - and since we are biological organisms I'd argue that understanding biology at a low level is one hell of a lot more important than understanding Z80 assembler!

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Paper.....

... sounds interesting. Where was it published?

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Linux

Desktop environments actually hurt Linux

"I even wrote a paper all about how desktop environments actually did more to hurt long term adoption of Linux than promote it"

Can I read it, do you have a link to the paper?

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Anonymous Coward

Your (nerdy - nothing pejorative, I'm with you) strength is the average users' weakness (especially those that can't differentiate between Word & Windows). If the time spent in-fighting and forking was spent pulling the same direction life would be a lot different.

I think the average user would like a working computer to use for a purpose rather than an opportunity to try multiple distros and desktops. Choice may be good; it's nothing necessarily helpful.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re Linux Desktop

... but there's not a lot of call for Z80 devs now. A partially free OS with binary blob drivers is a reasonable representation of a chunk of the real world. (And this ZX81 owner stuck with Sinclair Basic over Z80 assembler).

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

> Those who grew up with a ZX81, learned how to program the Z80 directly, not how to write shell scripts ..

I would be more impressed if ZX81 users could have written their own microcodes and create their own CPUs. Z80 is nothing to brag about, it's the same as any programming language (albeit low level and closer to the metal.)

Kids using high-level scripts is just as capable as those who used to write Z80 code, and they can do much more in a shorter time period, Try building a fully functional network-based webcam security system using Z80 code.

I used to write computer games in Z80 machine code (not assembly, mind you.) I feel that game engines using scripts nowadays are much more complex and more involved than Z80 machine codes.

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

> You don't need a RaspberryPI to do that, you can use any X86 machine with a printer port, (and add one via a cheap PCI card if it lacks one).

That may have worked in the 1980s and 90s with ISA bus and MS-DOS (and MS-DOS based Windows) or *nix. But apart from not being a usual feature for the last decade or more, they have degraded, under Windows, into being interfaced by driver software so there is less access. They are also digital only while the BBC and others catered for analogue input ports.

""" NOTE: The I/O port level controlling details here has proven to work well with parallel ports on the PC motherboard and expansion cards connected to ISA bus. The programming examples might not work with PCI bus based I/O cards (they can use different hardware and/or I/O addresses, their drivers make they just look like parallel ports to "normal" applications). The programming examples do not work with USB to parallel port adapters (they use entirely different hardware, their drivers make them to look like normal parallel port to operating system "normal" applications)."""

"""Direct port controlling from application is not possible under Windows NT."""

Under Windows, you can write your own device driver and there are some available, but generally it is not an easy thing to do anymore, though it can be done under Linux, or other *nix, if you can find adequate hardware.

The point is that for the last decade or two the vast majority of 'computers in schools' and homes are Windows (only) and don't have easy access to the ports so the sort of experiments that 'home computers' were used for in the 80s and Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, and many others can be used for now.

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Pint

The voice of sanity

Oh how I agree with you. My computer is a tool to do things with. I care less (as does the average user) about arguing which is the best desktop or distro.

I have several friends who use Linux and when we are down the pub all they do is argue about the above. None of them actually seem to do anything useful with their machines and spend all their time fucking about tweaking the operating system and going on the 'net to argue with others about the above...

I, as a Mac user am, of course, beyond the pale.

So, when I am finally pissed off with their beardy, real ale, foodie arguments and they have thoroughly taken the piss out of my system, I ask them where are the Cubases, Wavelabs, Final Cuts and Photoshops of the Linux world?

That usually ends the argument and then we can happily get down to the real task in hand which is getting shitfaced.

Am sorry to have babbled on but Linuxheads, as an operating system Linux seems fine to me and I would have no problems using it but where is the commercial grade software?

A pint because if any of my friends read this I will need one (dozen). Cheers...

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Re: Re Linux Desktop

The simple counter argument to this is the "Law of Leaky Abstractions". There is always immense value in being able to look underneath the layer your .Net, Java, PHP, etc environment provides and understand enough of the processes there-in.

Of course, this doesn't take away from being productive and using today's tools as they should be used.

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Vic
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Re: Linux vs ZX **

The Spectrum probably has a larger catalogue of commercial software than any other 8-bit machine. Who wrote it all?

John Hollis.

HTH, HAND, etc.

Vic.

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Linux

Moving on up!

Linux will soon breakthrough from irrelevance to rounding error in the stats.

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Re: Moving on up!

Linux will soon breakthrough from irrelevance to rounding error in the stats.

Ever heard of exponential growth? Not saying we've got it, but if you mean that we're grown by an order of magnitude, then world domination may be closer than you think.

At the very least we'll be ready for a big push when Microsoft follows Digital into self-inflicted oblivion.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Moving on up!

>At the very least we'll be ready for a big push when Microsoft follows Digital into self-inflicted oblivion.

May the lord of the rings hear this! Hilarious, yet sooo true!

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Facepalm

Re: Moving on up!

You keep repeating yourself:

> Projecting forward the growth rate, Linux will soon advance from statistical noise to rounding error, then onwards to the next target of irrelevance.

Soon you'll be a trollionaire.

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Happy

Re: Moving on up!

"At the very least we'll be ready for a big push when Microsoft follows Digital into self-inflicted oblivion."

And people mourn Digital going.

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Re: Moving on up!

Looked lately at how many TVs, Setboxes, routers and Servers run Linux?

How many years ago did BT swap Windows CE for Linux on their hybrid DVB/DSL boxes?

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Re: Moving on up!

And of course the headline is wrong, too.

All those Android phones? They all run Linux.

You could claim that glibc has failed to take the phone market, but claiming that Linux hasn't is just ignorant.

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JLV
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Linux

Re: Moving on up!

Well, one thing for sure. If you are looking at cloud/vm stuff, the easy entry point is most often Linux. And then mostly CentOS & Ubuntu.

The BSDs are, surprisingly, very absent. OSX is, unsurprisingly, missing.

But, mostly, who wants to dig around for a Windows license/disk, unless they have a site-wide license for it? Commercial licenses and VMs are just not a great match, for hobbyists and many others. This is something MS should be way more wary of (same applies to Oracle vs Postgres).

I also appreciate how seamlessly I can switch from bash on my mac to bash on linux via ssh. Again something MS should be wary of, despite Powershell getting some good reviews.

So, no, not a bad year.

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Trollface

All those Android phones? They all run Linux.

This is where the commentard dilemma becomes painful. We all love Linux and we [mostly] all hate Java.

But the hugely successful Android is a Linux core with a Java front-end. So, are we supposed to love it or hate it?

Decisions! Decisions!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All those Android phones? They all run Linux.

"So, are we supposed to love it or hate it?"

We hate it because it isn't iOS.

Anything else I can help with?

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Re: Moving on up!

> Linux will soon breakthrough from irrelevance to rounding error in the stats.

Android is a Linux distro (though not GNU). Android/Linux has the largest number of any OS for 'personal' computers (billions).

On phones (which is the subject of this article) it is Windows that has moved from 42% of US market share to "rounding error in the stats" and will next go to "irrelevance".

Linux also runs more servers (by number, not cost) than any other OS.

It is likely that there are more Linux embedded commodity systems than any other single OS.

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Re: Moving on up!

As Android is basically another Linux-based distribution, it's generally outselling Windows etc. by a massive amount already.

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No excitement here, please.

"Excitement" means new bloatware that breaks half my workflow and expects me to learn another crappy UI.

I want to run with software that's been essentially unchanged for at least ten years!

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Re: No excitement here, please.

Can't tell if this post is sarcastic or not. It's not a unreasonable sentiment though. For example, how much innovation does a word processor really need?

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Re: No excitement here, please.

I use Mate, which is basically the same Gnome 2 that I was uing in Fedora Core when started trying to get World of Warcraft working on Linux, just about a decade ago.

I _really_ like Mate.

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Re: No excitement here, please.

And the removal of the Euro symbol will be quite useful in sixteen years time?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No excitement here, please.

For example, how much innovation does a word processor really need?

Studies show that 100% of all word processor users are using Phablets and Tablets nowadays, so we need word processors where you can drag&drop entire sentence-segments. None of that "typing" bullshit all the dinosaurs do, touch and drop is the way the world spins right now!

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Re: No excitement here, please.

""Excitement" means new bloatware that breaks half my workflow and expects me to learn another crappy UI.

I want to run with software that's been essentially unchanged for at least ten years!"

Got you covered...

Install FVWM, no worries. Even it's web presence is Pre-Cambrian? (in Internet terms).

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Re: No excitement here, please.

> so we need word processors where you can drag&drop entire sentence-segments ...

from the internet into your homework, no doubt.

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Re: No excitement here, please.

Funnily enough, fvwm is what I use as my window manager. 2.4 even - I've never been bothered enough to "upgrade" to 2.6.

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It works...

Well for me on the desktop, anyone else YMMV

On the other hand it Fuc|< off excels on the server not just for me, but just about anyone who is worth mentioning, even MS.

In other words if you don't like Linux desktops, get windows, chrome or osx the choice is yours, if you don't like Linux servers, I understand there maybe some options available for you, just don't ask me :-)

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