The opposite of Feature Creep

It’s time for a rant. Those sensitive to ranting should avert their eyes and go read something else today. But for those of you who enjoy such things, read on.

I have brought this up here and there over the past year on The Linux Critic, but I think it’s time I actually just dedicated a full discussion to it.

There’s a disturbing trend that I’ve been running into everywhere for a while now, and I feel that it’s worth a rant. I’m talking about the tendency of developers committing what I consider to be the cardinal sin of software:

Thou shalt not release a new version that has fewer features than the previous version.

This is the kind of thing that spins me up to no end, and I’m seeing it everywhere. It’s time more attention got brought to this problem, because it’s really running rampant.
Continue reading

An open letter to Dell regarding Ubuntu, or “go big or go home”

Dear Dell,

I know that in the past you have offered a handful of paltry Ubuntu options, though I confess I don’t understand why you bothered at all.

With the exception of your two netbook offerings, I have yet to have seen you offer anything else that indicates to me that you have any intentions to make Ubuntu a real option for your customers.

Oh, I know… for a while you offered Ubuntu on your Inspiron 15n laptop, and there was even an XPS M1330 notebook for a brief time available on your website.

But both of those were very limited in what was available for CPU options and RAM upgrades. Even the desktop option you offered for a little while was an underpowered, unimpressive castoff compared to what’s available elsewhere on Dell.com.

Continue reading

Up Close and Personal with LXDE

Regular visitors to this site will know that Fluxbox is Trent’s and Patrick’s preferred window manager. I, too, am impressed with its speed and customizability, and its low overhead. Fluxbox’s biggest drawbacks are that customization is somewhat less intuitive and significantly more labor-intensive than the full-featured environments’, and that the interface as a whole is foreign and unintuitive to those whose only other computer experience has been Windows.
Continue reading

Point! Clack! Mash! And Hurr! The Clueless User Was Confuzzled

“Move!” the oppressive beeper-equipped geek howls in utter contempt at the perfectly inoffensive white collar worker. The worker has been given no chance to do anything, but he is already condemned of failure. The geek, clearly the master of his domain, wishes to make sure all around know who’s the boss of the computer realm in which they aimlessly wander. And all the normal users, with their completely reasonable requests and questions, are incessantly scorned by the geek’s insane derision.

The worst of the geek stereotype, and more, is ridiculed in this popular Saturday Night Live skit by Jimmy Fallon. I greatly dislike such portrayals. This is certainly an exaggeration for comedic effect, but it is funny to people because it has an air of truth to it. My problem is that the truth is not so easily discernible as appears on the surface.

Continue reading

KDE 3.5.10 packages released on Slackware.com for Slackware 13

Just as an update to my Upgrading KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 3.5.10 in Slackware 13 post, Patrick Volkerding has apparently released KDE 3.5.10 for Slackware 13.0 (link here).

This is probably a better way to go than my procedure, which was more of a proof of concept than an actual workable solution, though I have received some comments that indicate that the KDE 3.5.10 packages from Slackware 12.2 were usable in Slackware 13.0.

This quote from the README is actually one of the things causing me to feel validated in seeking another distro going forward though:

Don’t look for future updates for come from us, though — KDE4 is way to go, and KDE3 is dead. I know how it goes, though… I’ve found over the years that no feature can ever be removed without some fraction of users expressing disappointment (or even anger), and KDE3 was a truly great desktop. However, in my opinion KDE4 has already passed KDE3 in most regards and will only continue to improve.

KDE3 is only dead if people stop using it. To the contrary, there are new KDE3 communities appearing, and renewed interest has been expressed in keeping this “truly great desktop” alive.

But when Patrick states that “KDE4 has already passed KDE3 in most regards”, he must be referring to some version of KDE4 that I haven’t seen, because KDE 4.3 certainly hasn’t surpassed KDE3.

But perhaps he’s using a different definition of the word “surpassed” than I am. I confess I honestly don’t understand how anyone can use it and claim it’s “better” than what came before it when it gives the user a fraction of the options, configurability, and flexibility KDE 3.5.10 provided.

Soapbox aside, this is a great option for those who would like to see a usable desktop environment specifically packaged by Patrick for the latest Slackware release; too bad it’s going to be the last one.

KDE 4 Fanboys: seriously, knock it off.

When I say “I’m looking for a way to make KDE 3.5.10 work on Slackware 13″ or “I’m looking for applications to replace the ones I’ve gotten used to using in KDE, since I won’t be installing KDE going forward”, what does that mean to you?

I know what it means to me… it means I’m looking for some procedural help to accomplish a task, help from some other technically minded individuals who may offer some useful suggestions on how to make something work.

It means I’m looking for ideas for what kind of applications to try, since the open source universe is a big one, and while I try out and use and write about a lot of apps, there’s no way for me to be up on EVERYTHING.

To me, both of those things seem pretty clear and apparent. But based on what I keep seeing in response to things like that, I guess they somehow aren’t that clear.

So, to clarify, here’s what questions like that DO NOT mean.

Continue reading

The first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Slackware

DISCLAIMER: Be prepared. There is whining ahead. I want to preface this by saying that I’m not interested in having a discussion about why I don’t gush with love over KDE 4, and I’m not particularly interested in suggestions for forcing it to work for me. This post is more about me wrapping my head around planning for how my use of Linux is going to change now that I’m going to have to re-think a lot of things about what has been my favorite Linux distro for years.

Why I’m disappointed

I guess I probably shouldn’t be too surprised, because I knew that Pat Volkerding has been working with my least favorite desktop environment and it’s been in /current for a while now.

But I guess a part of me still was holding out a childish hope that KDE4 was going to be included in /testing only, and that the default version of KDE for the Slackware 13.0 release would be KDE 3.5.10, the last decent release of that desktop environment. Given Patrick’s tendency to play it safe in regular Slackware releases and stick with only stable, fully-developed and thoroughly tested applications and desktop environments, I would have thought that something like KDE 4 — a desktop environment that’s still easily a year’s worth of hard development away from being a suitable replacement for KDE 3 — would be back-burnered in Slackware in favor of what is known to work and work well.

I probably shouldn’t be upset about this; it’s Linux… if I don’t like it, I can just make my own distro, right? If I want to spend the hours and hours it’ll take for that, sure. Well, I’m not to the point of making my own distro yet. But this does mean I’m going to have to significantly change my Linux usage, starting with replacing a bunch of stuff.

Continue reading

Linux and my search for the perfect MP3 player

I’m a huge music fan. I pretty much have music playing all the time, in some form. As such, I like my MP3 player. Like many music lovers, I became enamored with the concept of having my entire music library at my fingertips at any time, so the MP3 player as a concept really appealed to me when they began to appear with larger capacities several years ago.

However, as a Linux user, there are some hurdles in choosing a portable digital music device, which limits one’s options, and then there is the simple fact that manufacturers have radically cut down on the products offered, which limits one’s options even more.

This is my discussion of that plight.

Continue reading

Hannah Montana Linux review

By popular demand, I downloaded, installed, and worked with the new Hannah Montana Linux distribution, and decided to post a review of this product, as well as some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this niche Linux distro.

To aid the reader in following this review visually, I have taken numerous screenshots and included them here.

Downloading

I was able to download the ISO for HMLinux from the Sourceforge homepage of it. I downloaded “v2″ of it, using Bittorrent. It downloaded quite rapidly, only taking 15 minutes or so, leading me to believe that it is well-seeded as a torrent.

The ISO is a combination LiveCD and installation CD. I think it’s nice when distro developers/packagers do this, as it gives one the chance to see if the distro is going to work on one’s hardware simply by booting from the CD, and making that determination BEFORE one actually has to install anything to the hard drive.

Continue reading

Five reasons I prefer Opera over Firefox

I know, I’m a Linux guy, and an advocate of Free/Open Source Software.

However, I’m also a user, and I’m a right-tool-for-the-right-job kind of guy. I’m picky as hell about my software, and I think the simple fact that I choose Linux for my day-to-day desktop use says a lot about its ability to meet my needs.

However, I’ve never been in on the big love affair the open source community has with Firefox. Yes, I think it’s great that it’s taken enough market share away from Microsoft to spur them into action — it’s been argued that IE7 and IE8 would never have existed in any form approaching a “modern” browser if it hadn’t been for Firefox pushing them to catch up.

However, like Linux, Firefox needs critics. It may still be better than what Microsoft offers, but it isn’t perfect by a long shot. It doesn’t meet my needs as an end user, which is why I’m still using a closed-source browser as my primary web surfing tool. So why does an open source advocate like myself use Opera instead of Firefox? Read on.

Continue reading