Tag Archives: Linux

The FLOSS tortoise, chasing the wrong proprietary hare. Again.

For most of the aughts, the various Linux desktop projects tried to catch up to Windows by copying features wholesale, while Mac OS X innovated like crazy and blew past both by building an amazing desktop experience.

The omission of Chrome & Safari from Paul Rouget‘s pro-Firefox Is IE9 a modern browser? reminds me of that misguided attempt. I hope Firefox doesn’t make the same mistake as desktop Linux; it would be a shame if they focused all their energy trying to catch Explorer, while missing the rapid user-interface innovation going on elsewhere.

Update: Here’s an example of a great idea from 2007, from Alex Faaborg, out of the user experience team at Mozilla, that didn’t make it into Firefox 3.

Another Ubuntu release, another core regression

It’s business as usual over at Ubuntu headquarters. This time the “Root Terminal” menu item, installed in the system menu by default for at least the last few years, is suddenly broken. Irate users commenting on bug reports in Launchpad are dangerously close to starting a full-blown flame war:

Sebastien, your comment seems to imply that Launchpad bug reports are a waste of time. Is this really what you meant? I had been under the impression that Launchpad was intended to be a gateway/portal for bug reporting. If Launchpad reports do not get forwarded upstream automatically once triaged then what purpose does it have? -Russel Winder

and:

With all due respect Sebastien — I can hardly believe that
I’m reading this: “ubuntu only distribute it”.

(why even have a bug reporting system in the first place,
one wonders, btw.). -bjd

(That’s right, those are in response to the same Sebastien Bacher I took to task for unhelpful comments on other bugs last year.)

The bug itself isn’t Ubuntu’s fault, but the fact that the menu item survived intact in the default Ubuntu configuration despite being non-functional for (at least) the last four months speaks volumes about what passed for testing on Jaunty Jackalope1.

Temporary workaround, until Gnome fixes this regression and Ubuntu inherits it: change the menu item to gnome-terminal -e 'sudo -i'. It took me longer to write this paragraph than to change that.

  1. I’m not even going to get into how the “upgrade” process left my system unable to find the root filesystem and therefore unbootable. My memory, and a judicious application of grub-fu, saved the day, and since I’m unwilling to downgrade to Intrepid and then re-upgrade to Jaunty, this bug must remain un-duplicable and un-reported. []

All percentages might be created equal…

…but why you should support Mac OS X and Linux makes the case that some percentages are more valuable than others.

I think the reason is even simpler: Windows computers are far more likely than Macs to belong to people who just don’t want or need computers, and to sit largely disused in a corner. (And pretty much everyone running Linux is a power user to begin with.)

Why I’ve stopped reporting bugs to Ubuntu

I’ve largely stopped reporting bugs to Ubuntu because of the condescending and dismissive attitude from their developers.

I cut my Linux teeth on RedHat back in 1998, and soon after settled on Debian as the best of several flawed but promising choices of Linux distributions. When I switched to Ubuntu 4.10 in October 2004, I was excited by the promise of a distribution with the quality of Debian and frequent releases and a focus on the desktop.

Today I stumbled across what unfortunately seems like another typical example of what happens when you report a bug to them: aumix in Ubuntu 7.10 was compiled wrong, such that it won’t even launch. Recompiling the source package without making any changes to the source fixes the problem. Instead of just doing that, the Ubuntu developers spent far more time and effort bickering on the bug report and justifying their inaction by referring to official protocol. Shallow thoughts outlines the issues with aumix and contains this quote:

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False positives, false negatives

You’ve probably already read the news about Microsoft’s broken anti-piracy system breaking down completely over the last weekend. This caused an unknown, but presumably large, number of legitimate copies of Windows to be marked as pirated.

This video, however, shows an Ubuntu Linux computer running Wine, a Windows emulator, and IE 6 from ies4linux, running the same anti-piracy validation software. And the punchline? The validation succeeded; Microsoft’s program marked the computer as legitimate.

Of course, everything happening in this video is legitimate; Wine is a totally legal reverse-engineering of the Windows system libraries, and ies4linux works by downloading all the necessary, freely available parts of IE 6 from Microsoft and installing them. All legal, assuming you own a copy of Windows. But wouldn’t you expect that the anti-piracy tool from one of the biggest software companies in the world would notice that it was being run on what is effectively a different operating system?