not all change is progress
April 13, 2014
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
Q4OS – AntiX MX-14 – what happened to the vision in Open Source?News
Ubuntu To Make Amazon Product Results ‘Opt-In’
Shutting down Ubuntu One file services
Linux Kernel Developers Fed Up With Ridiculous Bugs In Systemd
Market Research Shows Chromebooks Doing Very Well Indeed
London borough to roll out Google Chromebooks to escape Microsoft’s licensing costs
Google adds more Android features to Chrome OS
Indian state dumps Microsoft for Bharat Operating System Solutions Linux
The Heartbleed Bug (Paddy mentioned that PHK’s presentation at FOSDEM has suddenly become very popular viewing…)
Last podcast, Paddy asked Joe to report back on the promising Q4OS beta. Joe was not impressed; which just goes to show that your two hosts don’t always agree! Next time, Paddy will be looking at NuTyX.
Thanks to Rob Landley, our new Twitter followers, and to Tony for mentioning the show on the Full Circle Podcast.
Also, a huge thank you to Jason Connerley and Kirk Holz for their PayPal donations, and to our usual anonymous Flattrers.
Steven Rosenberg corrected an error Paddy made last show – thanks, Steven. He also wondered if there are any decent cloud-focused sysadmin books out there. Listeners?
Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér commented on the increasing size of Slax, something the developer also appears to be thinking about. Morten also thanked us for dusting off ‘The Unix-Haters Handbook‘.
Hugh Fisher told us that he has long owned a printed copy of the UHH (but not whether he still has the included UNIX barf bag), and that much of it – sadly – still holds true. He also pointed us towards a post he wrote on the desirability of a Linux UI monoculture back in 2003, which also seems very relevant today.
SonOfNed told us that revisiting the UHH was giving him some laughs. It is a humorous read, so why not download a copy, put your feet up, and then let us have your thoughts on how well it has stood the test of time? We’ll be devoting part of a show towards the end of next month to looking at the book, and would love to include your feedback in that piece.
Julian Overall sang the praises of AntiX, although he did point out a few gotchas. He also told us about the recently launched MX-14, which we talked about later in the show.
Along with Julian, Jason offered some thoughts about XP-replacement distros. During our comments around this, Paddy mentioned the Microsoft game that labels XP a “pestilence”. Interesting company marketing technique, guys!
Danyl Strype suggested Trisquel as another possible XP
replacement, and also offered up some thoughts on the
licensing debate. Ian Barton and Joe exchanged mails about
Nexus 5 audio issues, Andy Jesse and Paddy did likewise about
having to use
sudo to run
and Jezra dropped us a line about Chromebooks.
Larry Bain noted our intention to look at GoboLinux in a future show, and remarked that the usual rationalisations for the development of the *nix filesystem hierarchy are not necessarily accurate.
We had a fair bit of feedback on Joe’s question about our audio encoding and quality. Thanks to Stephen Martinez, Charles Griffey, Andy Jesse, Richard, and Rob Mackenzie for their thoughts. And a special thank you to Nigel Verity, who took the time to do a whole bunch of encoding and listening experiments on our behalf.
A couple of you offered thoughts on Linux Mint’s move to an LTS base. Paddy (no relation) suggested Mint’s motivation was to avoid the inevitable breakages that Ubuntu’s move to Mir will bring, whilst Jason thought that it is the inherent stability of an LTS that’s most attractive, and may well help lure XP refugees over to Mint.
Jason also asked for Linux magazine recommendations. Whilst Joe and Paddy know the UK market, we’re not too up on what is available in the USA, which is where Jason lives. Any suggestions from stateside listeners?
Jason Lewis, from completely the other side of the world, wrote to ask why we don’t run vanilla Debian if we like it so much. One of us does ;)
Finally, Richard pointed out that
du -h | sort
-h wouldn’t have run on the old, 2004 vintage, distros
we talked about last show. No it wouldn’t, and why that is
the case caused Paddy to air one of his pet peeves.
AntiX MX-14 “Symbiosis”
Prompted by both dogbert0360 and Julian Overall, we took a look at the recently released MX-14. Whilst we didn’t find anything particularly wrong with it, nor did anything really leap out at us to make this a compelling distro.
It’s unlikely such ambivalence will be on display next show, when we hope to be taking a thorough look at the Ubuntu Unity 14.04 LTS, providing that it is released on schedule.
Over a Pint
An article posted by Bruce Byfield on Datamation entitled ‘What Happened to the Vision in Open Source?‘ about a month ago elicited little response on that site. We thought it worthwhile to pick over the post, as it raised some interesting questions.
I’ve been listening to the show for a while now. I started listening when fab from Linux Outlaws mentioned you guys. I must say, I’ve found out that I have an inner luddite :-) Good show!
About Richard’s comment regarding “du -h”, it can be done on systems prior to 2004. Just do a “du -k | sort -n”, and you’ll get a list of directories sorted by their size in kilobytes (I use it every day on an HP-UX system).
On the issue of audio; I’d personally like the show kept at the highest quality possible. Quite simply because Linux Luddites has the best music of any podcast ever!
Thanks a lot. I might release the full instrumental at some stage.
Please do. I really enjoy the intro music for Linux Luddites, enough so that I tracked down some of Joe’s other work on SoundCloud (CiderbeardJoe). ‘Old Order’, ‘Mains Hum EQ’, and ‘Rise of the Idiots’ also appealed to my tastes.
My brother and i have the same Android Device, and we use the same version of CyanogenMod, but he has the gapps package installed. I only use http://f-droid.org and my phone is very stable, while his shows similar behaviour like your phone (rebooting, crashing apps).
So your problems might due to the use of gapps.
Unfortunately I rely on several Google applications so F-Droid wouldn’t be sufficient for my needs.
I love your show. I have to wonder why Paddy got so upset
about compatibility in regards to du and the GNU changes
adding some new functionality. As a linux n00b and human
being I would hope that backwards compatibility would
mean. “I have an old script great-uncle Jerry used to
impress my aunt before they were married and I don’t want
a new version of the command to break it on my new shiny
Debian install” rather than, “My son made a new script
for my shiny new computer that can evaluate disk space
and start up the coffee pot and it had better also work
on the Amiga 3000UX in my great-uncles shed.”
Keep up the great work!
That old post about directory layout gets rediscovered very few years. Last time it cropped up a magazine wanted to run it as an article, and I got a chance to correct some errors (I got the disk sizes wrong) and add references to Dennis Ritchie’s home page and such: http://landley.net/writing/hackermonthly-issue022-pg33.pdf
Basically their “system disk” was fast but only half a megabyte. Their 2.5 megabyte RK05 was an external disk a bit like today’s terabyte USB2 external disks: large but slow. So when their OS leaked into the external disk, there was a _big_ performance difference and they carefully arranged stuff between /bin (fast but tiny) and /usr/bin (less tiny but really slow).
Then people slavishly copied this division for 20 years without realizing it was an artifact of a specific hardware layout, and kept doing it long after we had shared libraries and initial ramdisks that made it make _zero_ sense to continue.
I warned you computer history was a hobby of mine. I was one of the first to collapse /bin and /usr/bin together in my systems, but I felt comfortable changing it because I understood why they’d done it that way in the first place.
In response to Jason’s inquiry about Linux magazines (available in the USA), I’ve found the local harvest rather poor here in ‘Merica’ over the last decade. Of course, one must qualify a bit what they mean by a ‘Linux magazine’, i.e. desktop/server/R-Pi/Andriod, and print vs. digital format. My primary interest is in Linux desktops for power users, and in true Luddite fashion, I prefer hardcopy for my leisure reading.
I subscribed to Linux Journal (USA based) for years but they went through a low point some time back IMHO so I bit the bullet and started paying the overseas rate for a subscripton to Linux Format (UK based). At the end of last year some some of their best writers split off to found Linux Voice (UK based) and I was perked a subscription by contributing to their Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.
IMHO Linux Voice and Linux Format are currently heads above the other Linux magazines for my interest profile, but 2 overseas print subscriptions is a bit expensive (around $150 USD/yr each).
All 3 of the aforementioned magazines offer digital only subscriptions at significantly lower rates. Your inquiry got me to look again at Linux Journal ($30/yr digital) and its content appears to have rebounded some from what I recalled. Personally, I’m now planning to keep my Linux Voice print subscription and move to digital format for the other two. Your mileage may vary.
A few points I forgot to mention in my initial post;
All 3 of the magazines I mentioned offer access to a digital archive of current and past issues for both type of subscribers, print or digital. Linux Journal appears to only offer digital subscriptions at this point.
Linux Voice just launched their publications a couple of months ago, off to a very strong start IMHO. The print version has been available at newstands in Europe since launch, but will just start to become available at newstands in the USA over the next month or so according to the LV crew.
If you are in the USA and curious about Linux Voice, the following link is to the Issues page on their website. There you can browse the Table of Contents from each of the issue as a PDF.
Thank you for the summary of the various magazines. I’ll probably pick up a digital subscription to either Linux Format or Linux Voice in the near future and will report back with my impressions.
Jason in Virginia
About the Audio.
First off – I’m fine with what you offer. I especially like that you offer the better quality in ogg (since ogg needs fewer bits than mp3 and your ogg files appear to be slightly larger than the mp3).
If you think about adding a low bandwidth format I’d like you to consider opus. I know its new and few players already support it but your webbrowser supports it so you can play it straight in the browser and vlc supports it as well (of course).
Apart from that it sounds really good at quite low bitrates. So if you want to hear how a 48kBit opus file sounds like click here: http://www.nagilum.org/LL/
I can provide my shell script to convert ogg to opus if interested.
Keep up the good work!
Forget what I wrote about the sizes of the episodes they both seem to be encoded in 128kbit, but still ogg should sound better at that. Especially if the mp3 is CBR.
Joe & Paddy,
Thanks for the great show, keep it up!
First of all, regarding encoding bitrate: I am a musician and amateur studio engineer & producer, specifically for my own projects. In the past I have lamented over details such as bit depth, sample rate, encoding rate, etc. When I look back on these things later (which is probably more representative of a listener’s perspective) I find that it really doesn’t matter nearly as much as I thought it did. If you want to use CBR, I would recommend 64kbps as it will not be audible for the speech. As Nigel pointed out, there will be some minor artifacts to the music, but I will adamantly argue that only two people will ever know: the original author (Joe) and someone who does A/B comparisons (Nigel). The cost/benefit simply isn’t there for higher bitrates, since the added filesize & bandwidth, even though it is relatively “cheap”, is disproportionately “expensive” compared to the benefit of audio fidelity for a few seconds of music, especially since no-one will ever notice. Besides, to me it is a bit inconsistent to say that it is okay to inconvenience the few people who have limited bandwidth/data, but not okay to inconvenience the few who can’t play VBR. :-)
Secondly, regarding the Nexus 5. Can you provide more
details about the conditions that cause the playback
problems? I have never experienced what you described,
and and I want to try and reproduce it. You mentioned it
was while charging; what charger are you using (Qi/wired?
What amperage?)? Also, what App do you use? Is it
streaming or pre-downloaded? I use Podkicker, and I would
certainly recommend it to others.
Also, you mentioned Cyanogenmod instability. I find that surprising, but then again I haven’t used Cyanogenmod since I discovered the Xposed framework and modules. You could also try Omnirom, which looks very good. I am trying it out on my Nexus 4 and it seems pretty solid.
Also, I just wanted to let you know that I switched over to Manjaro after your glowing review. It is very well done, and although the Manjaro-specific community is pretty small, the Arch wiki is nothing short of spectacular. I look forward to hearing more about your opinions of Arch in the future (I think I remember you saying it is a topic you want to cover eventually).
Lastly, regarding vision: I agree that this is something that is very important. I think Linus’ leadership of Linux has been critical to its continued growth and success. I know the role of “benevolent dictator” is an ongoing debate in the community, but I think that it is something more projects could use.
I found Joe and Paddy’s discussion about Linux wrt. Chromebooks, ChromeOS and Android interesting. I share Paddy’ opinion that for all the massive popularity of the Linux kernel in Internet server platforms and Android phones, it seems that the Linux manifestations that have a real FOSS User Interface (Desktop Distros, not Android) are limited to popularity with a relatively small population, composed primarily of power users.
It is ironic that for all Linux’s massivce success, the vast majority of Linux end-users have no awareness that they are utilizing Linux nor FOSS. I wish that were not the case, but I am of the opinion the ‘branded’ Linux flavors (Desktop Distros) are unlikely to ever achieve mass popularity for a variety of reasons.
Related to this thread of thought, I just purchased a Acer C720 Chromebook ($200 USD new) with the intention of putting Linux on it: https://www.linux.com/learn/tutorials/764181-how-to-install-linux-on-an-acer-c720-chromebook/ – I have read and seen several reviews claiming surprisingly good performance for such a low cost ‘Linux notebook’.
Prior to installing a Linux Distro I’ve taken the opportunity to familiarize myself with ChromeOS a bit. IMHO it is superbly position for success with non-technical desktop users; a very simple and cannonically familiar desktop UI, near zero system administration, automatic software updates (including firmware), an integrated ‘app store’, and an off-line work mode. These combine to make this ideal for the typical non-techie desktop user provided they have decent Internet connectivity most of the time.
It’s a shame that the ‘bargan with the Devil’ of using ChromeOS is to blissfully hand over access to most all of one’s personal data and Internet activites to the prying eyes of Google (and likely the NSA and GCHQ). Personally, I’m unwilling to strike that bargan but it would be no surprise to me if ChromeOS becomes very successful with the masses.
Although ChromeOS has a Linux kernel, I am actually glad in this case that the Linux and FOSS labels are not commonly associated with it given how the ‘ChromeOS Bargan’ is so antithical to the philosophy of Free and Open Source, IMHO.
edit: forgot to include; “relinquishing control of the software on one’s own device” to the the terms of the Faustian ‘ChromeOS Bargan’.
I bought a used Acer C710 to put Linux on and I was successful using this guide:
Unfortunately it “bricked” the first time I turned it off! I have so far been unsuccessful in reloading the Chrome OS, it may be the USB stick I have so I’ll buy a new one and give it another try.
Anyhow I just wanted to say be careful trying this. The more I research this the more I think one would be better off buying a slightly more expensive netbook or ultrabook without the Chrome OS.
Jason in Virginia
I’m pleased that somebody picked up on my words about interfaces :) Your comment arrived too late to include in the feedback for show #14, but we’ll mention it next time.
As to your other thoughts on the benefits of ChromeOS – “superbly position for success with non-technical desktop users; a very simple and canonically familiar desktop UI, near zero system administration, automatic software updates (including firmware), an integrated ‘app store’, and an off-line work mode” – what can I say, other than spot on.
And these factors are largely why ChromeOS and Android have been so successful. They aren’t PCs, in the sense that we’re so used to, as devices that desire constant attention just to keep them running. They. Just. Work. I really do think that so many folks in the Linux world are missing this simple point that it’s not funny. Think about our friends at Canonical. Yes, they’re trying something with the Unity desktop, but that’s the /last/ piece of the puzzle that adds value. The whole supporting infrastructure of their distro is still stuck in the traditional fat-client mode, and requires frequent user feeding and watering. I’ve got to say that I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed here, except that I’d be worried that folks would just build something remarkably similar again, as it’s a mindset issue that really needs tackling, not just the pieces of technology. Look at the first comment on that post, suggesting that “elementary OS comes close”. In the name of all that’s holy, no! Completely misses the point. Needless to say, I’ll have more to say about this on future shows ;)
Just to add to what SonOfNed and Patrick are
saying I think as more “offline” apps are added
(you can already write and read mail and
documents) the ChromeOS will become an valid
alternative to the “average non-technical user”
like my wife, son, and mother. If I can “unbrick”
mine I plan to use it (straight ChromeOS) on an
upcoming week long business trip to see how
limiting it is in a “real world scenario”.
Jason in Virginia
Do let us know how you get on, Jason, if you mange to get your machine working again – I’d be interested to hear about your experiences.
Thanks for the ‘heads up’ Jason. I haven’t yet had time to tackle the Distro install on my C720, but was aware that there were some dangers given that the Chromebooks have non-PC atypical BIOSes. I’ll pay extra attention after hearing of your experience.
I do hope that you are successful in recovering your C710.
Paddy, it appears that you and I are synchronized in our agreements and divergence with the points in Jon Buys’ ‘Improving the Linux Desktop’ article. It appears to me that Jon is arguing for the strategy which Canonical appears to have pursued, build a ‘unified vision’ alternative to Mac OS-X and try to claw that #2 Desktop market share slot away from Apple.
Aside from the fact that the Linux/FOSS community doesn’t appear very receptive to the tactics Canonical occasionally deems necessary for that strategy, the emergence of smart phones and tablets has really disrupted that whole market space and thrown a lot of uncertainty into everyone’s strategies.
I will go one step farther and say that I not only don’t expect the Linux Desktop to ever win a significant Desktop market share, but I don’t feel that ‘market share’ success is even necessary for a healthy a thriving Linux Desktop ecosystem.
IMHO, the history of Amateur Radio (a.k.a HAM Radio) over here in the USA may offer an analog to what the Linux Desktop community will experience. As a percentage of the population (as measured by license holders), AR was more popular in the 70s – 90s then it is now. While the percentage of population holding AR licenses has declined to the point that one never hears it mentioned in the popular media, AR license holders are still growing in absolute numbers year over year, and most importantly, AR continues to have a healthy community supported by many vendors. There is also a great diversity of AR classes (equipment + use cases) within the AR community which is reminiscent to me of the great diversity of Linux Desktop distros and the diversity of thier users.
So long as there is a critical mass of Linux Desktop enthusiasts (which I frequently refer to as ‘power users’) to sustain a healthy community, I will be content. I am aware that exactly what constitutes a ‘Desktop’ in terms of h/w may not be immune to significant impact from the emerging mobile technologies, but I am optimistic about the survival of the core concept of the ‘Linux Desktop’ as a workstation for ‘power users’ at this point, regardless of its overall share in whatever that market segment gets labled.
Now back in the days of the ATT/Novel/SCO IP wars, I was scared about the future of all Linux :-)
I think this all hinges on whether or not the traditional desktop and laptop form factors will “go away,” in the next 10 years and, in turn, what the free-software operating system communities are going to do about whatever platforms do emerge from that rubble.
By that I mean:
a) I don’t think it’s a given that traditional desktops and laptops will disappear over the next 10 years, but they probably aren’t going to grow in popularity.
b) The tablet and phone form factors will certainly grow over the next five years. True free-software operating systems for these devices are rarely and barely available. We are way behind.
This is why I give Canonical a free pass on screwing up their desktop distribution on the slim chance that they will create a usable, popular operating system for phones and tablets. If anybody else were doing this, I’d feel a lot better. Yeah, I know that Sailfish has something to do with this. And no, I don’t count Android because so much of it is not free. So the fact that Canonical is sticking its neck out is something I appreciate, even though I do acknowledge that they’ve burned a few nations’ worth of bridges in the process.
Here’s the big “however”: You still need a traditional computer if you want to get work done, and Linux still beats the other OSes if that work doesn’t require the proprietary tools that aren’t available in free-OS environments.
I still think it’s critical for free software to pry open the mobile and tablet markets in order to sustain the idea over the next 10 years.
@Steven Rosenberg; I share your assumptions on a) and b) and also give Cannonical huge points for attempting to crack the mobile space with a real FOSS (not what Android has become).
I am of the opinion that no matter how overwhelmingly dominant the simplified touch interface style ‘mobile’ platforms become in market share, there will always be a niche for high resolution/fine grain control ‘workstation mode’ platforms for the serious information workers. I may be overly optimistic, but I believe that FOSS platforms will continue to survive in that workstation mode niche regardless, if for no other reason, because software developers themselves are amongst the biggest users of workstations and consumers of FOSS.
Of course, I’d love to see FOSS establish a sustainable link to the Linux DE in the ‘mobile’ space as soon as possible. Although my only ‘hands on’ exposure to mobile platforms has been thru Android and iOS, I’m rooting big time for Sailfish, Ubuntu, FirefoxOS, CyanogenMod, … etc.
Where things will get really interesting IMHO, is when high power ‘dockable’ Small Form Factor (uber smart phone) devices really take off. Those type of h/w devices will be capable of supporting real ‘workstation mode’ sessions when docked in addition to the casual touch oriented mobile mode usage. Will those SFF devices run a single platform with a single ‘converged UI’ like Unity? Or will they run (or VM host) multiple OS platforms to provide adaptive capabilities? or something yet to be developed? Will one paradigm quickly become dominant in the market or will a variety exist for years? If only I knew, I could become the next Steve Jobs :-)
The most important questions in my mind wrt. how I like to use Linux/FOSS are:
1) how long will it be before those type of SFF mobile devices threaten the classical desktop workstation with extinction (at least 10+ years, perhaps never, IMHO)
2) will dwindling demand for classical workstation hardware revert them back into specialty items resulting in sharp price increases (I have no clue)
My hope is that classical desktop workstation hardware remains available and affordable until long after Linux/FOSS has established its niche in the evolving SFF mobile device space.
@Steven Rosenberg, I guess the above is a long winded way of agreeing with your point that it is important for Linux/FOSS to achieve sustainability in the mobile hardware space, albeit, I’m optimistic that there will be sufficient time for this to occur. For the sake of full disclosure however, I must acknowledge that on occasion history has proven my technology forecasts to be wrong :-)
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