back to article Distro watch for Ubuntu lovers: What's ahead in Linux land

With the death of Unity, Canonical will focus more attention on Ubuntu servers, Ubuntu in the cloud and Ubuntu in the so-called Internet of Things. Even if you give Canonical the benefit of the doubt - that it will continue working on desktop Ubuntu - at the very least, desktop Ubuntu's future looks uncertain. Post Unity, how …

LDS
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"ahead of the curve on some somewhat esoteric [...] for example color management"

Esoteric for the average sysadmin using a text shell, every day issue for those working in the imaging and graphic industry, and some others.

It was color management availability one of the main features that gave Apple its stronghold in that industry. Apple introduced ColorSync in 1993, Windows matched some of the graphics capabilities soon enough, but it too took to long to include a good color management engine.

While working on a catalog software for a museum years ago, I worked with people with an astounding capability of discerning colors - and if they didn't seen on the screen or prints the "correct" ones, the software wasn't working.

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Coat

Re: "ahead of the curve on some somewhat esoteric [...] for example color management"

@LDS

"While working on a catalog software for a museum years ago, I worked with people with an astounding capability of discerning colors - and if they didn't seen on the screen or prints the "correct" ones, the software wasn't working."

So colourimeter and Eizo or NEC monitor for photo? Or Pantone for spot? I imagine former.

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Linux

Some bits missing.

This article appears to be a partial look at the range of distros available. Yes, Linux Mint and Ubuntu are popular but what about some of the other branches?

Mandrake pioneered a lot of the user-friendly things now found in Linux distros and to my mind diskdrake still takes some beating when it comes to partitioning. After the regrettable demise of Mandriva/Mandrake there have appeared a number of derivatives such as Mageia, PCLinuxOS and Rosa. They have all inherited the Mandrake tools to make life easy for new users and are in the top rankings of Distrowatch so they must be doing something right.

My choice is PCLinuxOS.

As I say it is simple to administer and does not have the beast known as systemd entwined around it. Added to that PCLOS is a rolling release that seems to have cracked the problem of keeping the distro up to date without breaking anything. Added to which it does not use sudo as the default which gets a thumbs up from me as I consider the way Ubuntu uses sudo to be an accident waiting to happen.

So yes, the distros mentioned are worthy members of the Linux family, but the article only really tells one side of the story.

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Re: Some bits missing.

My choice is PCLinuxOS

I looked at them and they didn't fit my use-case (headless, cli-based VMs). Sure - you can strip the desktopy bits out but it's a pain to have it install everything when you don't want a GUI..

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Re: Some bits missing.

PCLOS rocks- rolling release, easy................

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Re: Some bits missing.

"I consider the way Ubuntu uses sudo to be an accident waiting to happen."

Agreed. At the moment there are lower hanging fruit out there (Watwrmelon? Apple? Coconut?)

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elementaryOS isn't worth the USB disk you'd write it to.

Sure, it looks lovely. But it turns to crap after any length of use. Crashes, bugs, you name it. Awful, awful trash.

P.S: I've had it installed on my laptop for 18 months.

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Forgive me for posing such an obvious question, but I thought all you Linux enthusiasts were able to fix anything.

Is there an underlying problem that prevents you?

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Happy

"...I thought all you Linux enthusiasts were able to fix anything."

We are , it's just that from time to time some of us like to discuss in a rational and measured way some of the challenges involved.

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"We are , it's just that from time to time some of us like to discuss in a rational and measured way some of the challenges involved."

Indeed.

Besides, elementaryOS is about on a par usability wise as Windows 98 was before the 2nd edition.

So you may like it.

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Unhappy

Printing

... does that work yet?

That seems to be the big weakness of Linux-on-the-desktop, that commodity inkjets and lasers are only supported, if at all, by generic drivers. And there is the age-old problem of cancelling and restarting jobs. CUPS is evil - modern printers are peripherals, not line-printers-on-acid.

Oh, if you use the word "PostScript" in ytour response, you're banned :-)

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Re: Printing

"commodity inkjets and lasers are only supported, if at all, by generic drivers."

Not here, not for years and years. My Samsung laser even came with a linux driver disk. I also have a cheap, Epson all-in-one scanner/ink-jet - that also is no problem neither the scanner or the printer.**

As for installation and control even the Rasp.Pis on this network can automatically find and install the printers.

**(Using OpenSUSE and installing the printers (by GUI) as network printers - no problem)

BTW for PC loaded with a variety of Linux point your browser to :

https://nimbusoft.com/

(Never tried them yet so can't comment)

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Re: Printing

That's up to the printer maker. I have never had a problem with my HP printers. All just work out of box. No need to search the Web for a driver that Windows used to need.

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Re: Printing

Strange that I've found more issues with Windows and printing (And especially scanning) than with Linux or OSX/MacOS over the years.

Lets take the case of my Brother Laser PRinter.

Point Linux or MacOS at it (on the LAN) and that's it. IT is all connected and works and not a driver to load.

With Windows, I have to download and install a driver to get duplex printing.

Then with Scanning...

I have a perfectly good Canon EIDE 20 Scanner. There is no windows 10 driver for it. It works without issue on Linux (CentOS) or MacOS.

YMMV

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Re: Printing

Well printing from W10 on systems that have been upgraded from earlier version seems to be about as reliable as your average politician(1). Whereas my Linux boxes always seem quite happy to talk to all my printers.

(1) on all my updated PCs and from Googling around, lots of other peoples too. You're mileage may vary. I'm happy for you.

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Re: Printing

Brother has great support.

They also make decent Laser printers and MFCs

My party trick in 1999 for the Dell course was to install a flimsy toy Canon inkjet, set it up on low spec notebook running Redhat.

Then share it. The class would set up a dual boot PC with NT4.0 and RH and then use the Canon as native Canon or a postscript printer, from NT4 or RH.

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Re: Printing

Yes, my external SB USB sound box and Wacom tablet always install wrong driver on Windows.

My old Perfection 1200 scanner and SCSI card a nightmare on newer windows.

All "just worked" years ago on Linux (no need to look for drivers) and just work today on fresh install 64 bit Mint 18.1

USB adapter to 4 pole 3.5mm jack difficult on Windows and just works, no driver to look for to setup/read two way radios with Chirp.

RTL USB TV stick simpler to set up on Linux with Gqrx than on Windows.

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Re: Printing

> with Linux or OSX/MacOS

The CUPS printing system was written by Apple for Unix like systems which includes their BSD based OSX. I have never had a problem getting specific drivers for the printers that I have used because [most] manufacturers need to support their use on Apple computers.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Printing

"... does that work yet?

That seems to be the big weakness of Linux-on-the-desktop, that commodity inkjets and lasers are only supported, if at all, by generic drivers."

Nope, sorry you'll have to wait a while yet until the likes of hp get off their asses and produce those luvverly multidecagigabite driver packages.

In the meantime, if you just want to print ... I assume you've bought a proper printer - not a cheap 'n nasty windows gdi only paperweight. Although an increasing number of those have been made to work very well.

I once bought a Samsung multifunction, mainly 'cos I needed a new photocopier, and this was waaay cheaper than any optical imaging copier at the time. That it was claimed as Linux compatible was a bonus.

I installed the "drivers" only to find that those Korean basturds had stomped all over and crapped on cups and installed the beast as the default printer. I found out later that the software wanted ROOT priviledges. ???? Samsung, stuff the entire production run where the sun don't shine. Sideways. Add a candle, light it, and in its light write this 10,000 times in your blood: "I must not attempt to write software until I have grown up and have learned to do so" And check your spelling.

Fortunately some upright citizen has done a little reverse engineering, and we have the SPLIX driver, which works great AND plays nicely with CUPS.

I'm sure she could write better drivers>>

PS - PostScript.

Only here to please.

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Re: Printing

Have the original HP deskjet that came with our original W98SE system, it's been working with nary a hiccup since we went with Dapper (Ubuntu 6 ish IIRC), still does now with 16.04.2. Don't print much anymore anyway, thought that's what modern tech was supposed to supplant?

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Re: Printing

my Brother MFC-L8850CDW Printer mfc has nix drivers and seems to work ok.

haven't played around a lot so unsure if the scan direct to pc function on nix works as simple as it does on windows or not but printing (including double sided) is ok.

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Re: Printing

My Oki laser printer came with a Linux driver and works flawlessly.

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Re: Printing

If you use CUPS, as seems reasonable, there is very large number of supported printers, although probably significantly fewer of them than the full range of printers. Some require proprietary bundles that may involve some difficulty and some lack support for all features. Most HP printers, including some very old ones like the 1020 and p1505, are fully supported through HP Linux Imaging and Printing*.

I have had few problems with printing (all HP, though). Windows machines have been more problematic than Linux ones because the Windows interface to those managed using CUPS is a bit more obscure and maybe a bit less stable - I have a multifunction printer that had been set up with a Windows system that has been forgotten and apparently needs to be set up again.

* Full disclosure: I do own shares in HPE and HPQ (and Keysight and Agilent).

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@ Missing Semicolon

"Does printing work yet?" - Yes.

I sense you have doubts young padawan. Stretch out with your USB stick and try it out WITHOUT INSTALLING ANYTHING TO YOUR DISK.

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Linux

Solus FTW!

A fast, independent distro with its own DE (Budgie) as well as MATE, GNOME, i3 and (soon) KDE Plasma, optimised for desktop usage (particularly gaming). The devs are responsive and willing to package software not yet in their repo. Highly recommended.

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KVM

Arch for a couple years now and know my way around it pretty well and I still can't ever get it working right in Virtualbox

I can't get it to run successfully in a KVM VM either. It gets partway through the install and (the 3 times I've tried it) ends up in a situation where the install won't finish because of conflicting library requirements..

Which is why I went over to FreeBSD instead. I used Slackware many, many years ago (and tried it again recently) but decided to go all-out and switch to FreeBSD

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Linux

Wot no Devuan?

RC2 without systemd - Too soon? Link.

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Linux is a viable alternative for a range of uses these days.

I've been toying with various Linux distro's for years but never really settled on any one in particular.

Recently my elderly neighbour wanted a computer just to surf the internets, pick up webmail and do a bit of buying and selling online. I enabled them by giving them an old Dell box with Zorin OS and a single icon on the desktop for Firefox.

I've recently installed Linux Mint (Mate) for a business user who did not want the expense of a W10 upgrade after a hardware refresh. They previously used W7 and Office 2013 with Outlook installed locally. They can scan and print to Canon and Brother devices, also connect to a NAS for file sharing using Mint. A lot of their work is internet based and as a Firefox user in Windows there was no transition training needed to allow them to access their various web apps when using Firefox for Linux.

They are a wary of Libre Office ( They don't want a learning curve) and feel more comfortable with MS Office apps, especially Excel which they use a lot and can access through their Office Live account. There was no need to install Office locally and they can connect to their remotely stored documents from any location with various devices if required.

Mint has been installed three weeks now without a problem and the user tells me they are working just as well, if not a bit faster. When they have reported issues its been to provide a missing facility which they had used previously within windows, like scanning to a Brother printer. I have not had any problems (so far) in being able to provide for their requests.

I've given someone a working option to their Windows installation at a reduced cost. I am by no stretch of the imagination a whizz at his sort of thing, so I'm doubly pleased.

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Re: Linux is a viable alternative for a range of uses these days.

+1 for ZorinOS

My boss's good lady got ransomwared on her windows PC a good few months ago, so I blasted it and installed ZorinOS. No complaints so far...

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Anonymous Coward

The only shit I think is interesting is TrueOS / Free BSD desktop

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Especially with Lumina. Was liking the direction that DE was going last I tried it and love the fact its not dependent on the Red Hat hair ball (udev, systemd, gnome, etc). Haven't tried lxqt but that was looking promising as well. KDE well same as it ever was (*cough bloated).

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Manjaro - easy mode Arch

Recently I jumped from Linux Mint to Manjaro - purely because I needed the newer kernel stuff (Ryzen needed kernel >= 4.10). Manjaro follows Arch in being a rolling release.

Steam out of the box, and Rocket League at 60-125 FPS using open source drivers (AMDGPU / RX480).

Did have some initial issues with the Ethernet card on the motherboard - which went away once I got connectivity via alternative means and stuffed the updates in.

Also had issues with the motherboard on-board sound: output is clear, but the input has crackle added to it (which I worked around by adding a USB sound card and using the mic port on that. I tried various audio changes, and excluded PulseAudio from the picture, but the crackle persisted with on-board input. The USB audio is completely clear).

The UI is XFCE-based and the default theme and setup I quite like.

Have lived with this setup for a few months and things are going well.

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only thing I find Ubuntu useful for these days

When your use case is general POSIX development environment in a VM Lubuntu is awful hard to beat. Boots nearly instantly and runs comfortable in well less than a gig of memory and has the widest number of libraries and development tools available (via 3rd party PPAs) of any POSIX environment imo. Best of all you don't worry about this Unity to Gnome or whatever shit.

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Coat

Distro not DE

"Even if you give Canonical the benefit of the doubt - that it will continue working on desktop Ubuntu - at the very least, desktop Ubuntu's future looks uncertain."

Er - no not uncertain.

Has not the Stubbled One said that Ubuntu will ship with Gnome by default as Ubuntu used to before the Unity excursion? Said excursion into potential new markets the wisdom of which I am not competent to evaluate.

All the other DEs will be in the repos. Strange article seemed to confuse distro with DE.

Coat: Mine's the one with the 5.04 dual CD-ROM in the pocket

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All too confusing!!

If it is too confusing for the pros to figure out, why in hell would the average person consider a Linux platform!? I'll stick with Window, thank you!

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Linux

Re: All too confusing!!

Hardly! I previously used MS Windows from Windows 3 until Windows 7 and the backported telemetry attempt when I walked away from MS.

Despite the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt spread about Linux by various online reputation managers on here and elsewhere, I took the plunge and switched to Linux Mint. I set up a dual boot with an unpatched Windows 7 SP1 (MS lost my trust with updates), but in truth I cannot even remember the last time I booted to Windows so I suppose at some point I'll just recover the disk space. The best part is I won't miss Microsoft as I have found everything about Linux in my daily computing easier to use than Windows. I've found plenty of good quality, free software that lets me do everything I like to do and I'm enjoying my trouble-free computing a lot more than while I had Windows installed. Zero problems whatsoever, and plenty of online info and help if you have a question.

As a double bonus, I can still play all the Steam games I care about and the Linux games library is growing fast and newer games especially increasingly come with a Linux version now that Linux options are built into all the latest game engines that most game developers use. And, if I need to, I can even run the Windows version of Steam and my few Windows games (using WINE) straight from my Linux Desktop (which is as simple as running it on Windows directly).

Same goes for my family. They have no IT or tech background at all, they're aged about 5-66 years old and still they all switched to Linux Mint without incident and zero problems. Associated support calls have dropped to zero ever since because it 'just works' out of the box - there's just been nothing to 'fix'. As a bonus, old printers and various other hardware are now working again without any additional drivers (drivers that weren't available for Windows anymore forcing people to spend money unnecessarily).

Maybe you should try it before deciding it's confusing? As a general rule, if you can use Windows then you will already know how to use Linux when you first see it e.g. a familiar looking desktop, proper menu button to launch software, etc.

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there is real value for us in windows being the most used OS

most of the malware is targeted at windows versions due in part at least, to them being so widely used.

This is fine by me but if Linux were suddenly the most widely used platform then a lot of malware authors would turn their attention to us.

Let windows take the flak, i´m happy to be the Linux underdog.

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Oh you poor fools. Lost in the wilderness of windose and systemd.

There is salvation at hand. Slackware64 14.2 is everything you need in an OS, with possible exception of games.

It's partly the curse you invoke when using unclean software that ails you. Not many know that both Sys V and systend are the artifacts of a power that do not wish you well. Of course windose does not even try to hide this fact.

BSD Init is the one true way.

I could go on, but I sense you would rather I did not. ;)

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>Slackware64 14.2 is everything you need in an OS

Nothing with the Linux kernel is going to be everything you need in an OS. For majority of use cases yes but there is a lot of positive to be said about proprietary UNIX running on very limited and very heavily verified/tested redundant RAD hardware for production systems. Never seen an HP-UX kernel panic due to software. Can't say the same about Linux of course.

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FAIL

SAMBA

I have yet to find an Ubuntu-based distro that makes communication on a mixed (OSX/Linux/Windows) network easy, let alone one that "just works". OSX handles CIFS/SMB seamlessly but apparently uses a Bonjour-type resolver. Mint 18.1 is a lovely distro, but has a partial implementation of Samba (Nemo-share) that doesn't even work (it's missing a lot of dependencies). Ubuntu needs Samba installed, but when you do, it still omits several vital bits that you have to go and get yourself.

I don't know of a single distro (haven't tried Fedora or SuSE) that makes getting a working CIFS/SMB network simple. Yet the Debian base does so many other things right. This is a MAJOR fault in all Ubuntu based distros, has been for years and has never been addressed. I see no reason why I should have to spend hours and hours farting around with smb.conf and LMHosts and whatnot to get a simple home network going.

B...y ridiculous!

Andrew

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Re: SAMBA

Yeah, it used to work fine in previous versions but samba is totally fucked in Mint 18.1, even after you install it you have to manually set permissions on some config files.

It´s as if it was never tested, not even once.

Thankfully, there is a community that makes solving these problems as simple as googling it.

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Would you like Windows or Linux as your OS, Why not both?

Since the advent of Vista, I have been offering the choice of OS on systems I build.

Occasionally I get asked to do a dual-boot system, and about 50% of the time I've had it back to wipe the windows partition, and, it must be said, 10 to 15% ask to have linux removed in favour of windows. Usually because they have bought an el-cheapo windows only printer, occasionally because their boss has insisted that their system be Windows, or we can't find a linux equivalent for a windows program that they do need, usually Quickbooks or MYOB.

The pricing of the systems reflect that I can download a copy of, usually, LinuxMint in about 15 minutes and burn it to a dvd and that the setup is far quicker than for Windows.

Windows is still leading the install rate at roughly 80%, because that's what people are used to.

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You can install many desktops

Reading the comments, it seems a lot of people seem to think you can only access one DE from your login

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Flame

Desktop Linux ?

Who runs desktops with Linux ... it's a MAC world now for professionals and Windows turd for the poorly educated . Linux has proven to be a poor choice for laptops and it hasn't gotten any better.

Ubuntu has always been a POS; Canonical support is almost non-exist .

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Re: Desktop Linux ?

...written on a linux mint equipped laptop that installed and ran 'out of the box'

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Anonymous Coward

Fedora or die

All the other distros are dogshitte

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