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

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

OpenOffice.org: It’s a little too late for April Fool’s jokes, don’t you think?

Okay, so I ran across this (via Slashdot) yesterday and I was, well, shocked to say the least.

That’s right. The developers of the beloved OpenOffice.org office suite are giving serious development time to the despised and reviled ribbon interface of Microsoft Office 2007.

I swear, with the idiots over at Mozilla contemplating copying IE7 for the next version of Firefox and now the idiots at OpenOffice.org actually copying Microsoft’s failed attempt at a UI redesign in Office 2007, I’m positively baffled here. WHY on earth would anyone WANT to copy failure? Why would they want to ELIMINATE one of the biggest advantages they have over the steaming pile called Microsoft Office 2007? Why?

Let me make one thing clear here. I am not posting this to foster a debate on the merits or disadvantages of the ribbon interface, nor am I doing this to bash Microsoft, or anyone who likes them, or inexplicably likes their retarded ribbon interface that was designed for use by those with severe brain damage.

I am posting this for one primary purpose. To tell the developers of OpenOffice.org TO STOP DOING THAT.

That’s right, guys. You heard me. STOP. Take whatever you have developed of a ribbon interface for ANY AND ALL OpenOffice.org applications, and DELETE IT.

Remember, back when Microsoft Office 2007 came out, there was a sudden surge of downloads of OpenOffice.org? That was because of the godawful interface Microsoft thrust upon its users, and it was a direct response to me (and IT people like me) directing lamenting users to OpenOffice.org to download a GOOD office productivity software suite, with a GOOD interface.

People started using OO.o more because it was a sane alternative to Microsoft going off the deep end.

Please, please, PLEASE do not remove that incentive by copying what could possibly be one of Microsoft’s biggest design faults ever. If you’re looking at this as a “missing feature” or some such nonsense, let me remind you again. The fact that OpenOffice.org has been “missing” this “feature” IS A GOOD THING.

I’m saying this not only as an advocate of Free and Open Source Software — because I think this is a massive mistake that will negatively affect that movement — but as a USER of said software.

At the point OpenOffice.org has the ribbon UI as the default, I will cease directing people to download your product. Period. I will instead be directing people to MY OWN SITE, where I will host, in perpetuity, installers for the last version that has the correct interface for OpenOffice.org, and having them install that. Because at that point, OpenOffice.org’s newer product will have become dead to me.

I know I’m not alone in this. So please. We’re begging you. Stop development on this stupid ribbon UI. If you really feel like doing lots of sweeping code writing, maybe you should instead focus on fixing some of the bugs. Okay?

Okay.

Firefox 4.0: IE7 revisited?

I saw the Firefox 4.0 screenshot mockups today and I have to say, it reminds me of Internet Explorer 7 more than anything else. Check out this side-by-side:

Ugh. I really don’t get it. Do they really need to dumb down the Firefox interface even more than it already is? I seriously hope that the final release of it includes an option that lets one bring back some of the stuff they seem intent on removing (like menus for basic things… “file”, “edit”, “view”, et al?). I mean seriously… even IE7 lets one do that much…

I know it’s not open source, but I still prefer Opera as far as an interface goes. I can rearrange, add, remove, or tweak various elements of it to work exactly how I want, and it doesn’t fight me every step of the way. It already includes functionality for which (to make it equivalent) I have to install no fewer than 5 extensions to Firefox 3.5, and is a smaller download, uses far less memory, and is faster on top of everything else.

I wish Opera would GPL their browser… if they did, it’d be the perfect choice for me.

Or, alternatively I could make this request of the Firefox developers. Guys, if you MUST emulate someone else’s proprietary browser’s interface and functionality, might I suggest NOT emulating Microsoft’s back-assward response to your OWN efforts from 5 years ago? IE7 has always seemed to me like a really bad Firefox 1.0 Beta. WHY on earth would you want to emulate that?

I’m positively baffled here, guys. Seriously. I understand that you’re just brainstorming, but don’t even joke about this as a starting point.

And another thing. If you decide NOT to emulate IE7 (like in the first screenshot), PLEASE don’t emulate Google Chrome by making the tabs at the top (like in the second screenshot). That’s even worse, in my opinion.

Thank you.

KDE4

For those of you who may be reading this that are expecting a review, you might as well stop reading right now. This is not a review, this is a rant.

I want to like KDE4.  I really do.

But every time I’ve tried it the experience just makes me furious. The entire time I’m struggling with it, I’m thinking “THIS? THIS is what they dumped KDE3.5 in favor of? THIS?”.

I can appreciate moving to Qt4. I can understand the excitement — as someone who has worked as a developer — of developers drooling over a new set of tools and the enthusiasm of “Wow, we can do some REALLY COOL STUFF with this!!!!”. I can understand the appeal of “let’s dump the entire codeset and start from scratch, rather than just migrate KDE3.5 over to Qt4″.

But from every time I’ve played around with KDE4 with the intention of forcing myself to use it for a while to “get used to it”, I abandon it after less than two days. Why? Because it’s garbage, at least at this point.

I know, the common response is “you just don’t like it because it’s different!”. It is different, but that’s not my problem with it. I don’t like it because I can’t DO anything with it. Seriously. The KDE developers have gone off their rockers. I can appreciate the eye candy, but if you are transitioning from KDE3.5 to KDE4.2, you’ll be losing 80% of what you’re used to being able to do with your desktop environment.

And I’m not a GNOME fanboi either. I dislike GNOME, even when it’s relatively well-implemented, like in Ubuntu. It seems like with every release, the GNOME people remove more functionality from their product. I don’t like that kind of philosophy. I want options, damn it! There’s almost nothing more frustrating to me than to click on “preferences” for something and find only two options in there, and NOTHING about the relatively simple thing I want to do.

Continue reading