Saturday, August 23, 2014

Operating System Shuffle Part Two: Why Linux Still Sucks

First thing you need to do is read Part I;

Second thing I suggest is watching this video, I feel it curently matches my opinion regarding open source, with a few caveats I'll add in with my recent experiences.

History: I've been using linux off and on since 2004.  I gave my Windows XP license to one of my Wive's friends and have run some desktop version of Linux since then, instead of pirating or re-buying a windows license.  For the most part it worked okay, with some exceptions. (the big one up until the last year, with Valve was Gaming)  I tried all the popular, Linux flavors out at the time. I even bought a NVIDIA graphics card, because my ATI Radeon behaved so poorly with open source and proprietary drivers.

Around 3 years ago, I switched my desktop to Windows 7, to give my son better compatibility with his school work. At the time I wrote Part I, I hadn't used Windows 7.  Windows 7 has several GUI improvements over Windows XP, and is by far my favorite version of Windows.  Quickly, my favorite feature is that each application on the task tray, has a recents menu when you right click.  I missed a bunch of stuff from X-windows.  The scroll wheel focus should follow your mouse, instead of staying locked to the window and even worse in Windows, the frame you're focused on.  The scroll wheel in windows, with the default driver is useless.  I also had to install an app to fix the broken Windows 7 Start Menu (yes, it's not as bad as Windows 8, it's not as good as XP either.)  The Vista/7 (and probably the new 9) start menu are ridiculous.  Locking the view to the tiny start menu frame, makes it near impossible to browse a large amount of apps.  They also for some reason, made all the previous hot key shortcuts not work anymore. Finally, I had to modify explorer to support tabbed browsing.  Why in 2014, Microsoft still hasn't patched this in to their file browser, I'll never know.

March of this year, I bought a used laptop that came pre-installed with Windows 8.  I can't stand Windows 8, it's terrible!.  Couple with Microsoft's actions to lock down consumer choice on the Xbox platform, and the Windows 8 platform, I decided to make my laptop a Linux experience.  I started by downloading five versions, which at the time were all about a version back from what I just tried this last week,  The laptop is a HP Pavilion G7 2235dx.



Sabayon: Great concept, and one of the ones I used on my desktop for awhile.  Ran smooth, updated great, just had one problem.  Networking didn't work.  Wired, Wireless, none of it worked after installation.









Fedora 19: Version 19 didn't like the laptop at all.  It seemed to run sluggish with the open source driver, and was hard to install the proprietary driver.

Mepis: Didn't even bother downloading it, as they are still using kernel 2.6 - They also don't support EFI or GPT which I needed.

PC Linux OS: another one I really liked a few years back, because they didn't shy away from proprietary drivers.  Didn't like my laptop at all, wouldn't boot.

Manjaro 0.79 w/ KDE: Ran great, installed it. I even had silverlight installed via pipelight, which allowed me
to watch Netflix on my linux box! This is the linux I ran up until two weeks ago, when the rolling updates (and my own stupidity) killed the box.  It was still bootable, however the video driver was glitchy (which I now know why) and made me want to try other distros anyways.  I tried to install the open source video driver and it borked the system.  Only booted to command line, and I didn't have the CLI tools to connect my wireless network to the Internet.  Before this happened, I downloaded a few ISO, Fedora 20, and Linux Mint 17.  I setup Grub to boot to the ISO, (not realizing at the time, it made the disk locked!)


I liked Fedora better, it felt smoother and faster, even though YUM is notoriously slow (STILL!!). I installed it, and after I installed it, I realized that I screwed up the partition, and only had 20 GB available, because it resized the LVM.

I booted back into the live Fedora environment, and tried to delete the partitions, while Fedora was loaded in RAM.  That, was my big mistake, and ultimately made it so I had to go to my windows computer and burn some Live DVD's to try.

Mageia: Based ultimately on Redhat to; Mandrake to; Mandriva, this distro has a beautiful installer, that is from 1998 and takes four hours to install everything.  It like, SUSE, has tools that take over for your Desktop Environment.  Instead of using the KDE or Cinnamon WiFi tool, they built their own to connect to the system.  The system ran, updated fine, and seemed snappy enough.  the problems came, when I tried to customize it more with proprietary software i run.  Hardly anyone creates these packages for Mageia, and almost immediately I received RPM Hell issues.

Korora 20: (based on Fedora 20, with proprietary software): great OS, if I didn't need proprietary video drivers I would still be running this.  Ultimately, it worked, with very few errors, (which it seems is still a prolific problem with every flavor of Linux).  I uninstalled it, after trying to install the proprietary video driver, and having it lock up.

Linux Mint 17: Similar to my Korora 20 install, since I was running Cinnamon on both.  The plus on this Ubuntu based distro, is the PPA system they use for 3rd party software, and Mint's willingness, like Korora and Manjaro to not punish you for needing proprietary software... However, Mint 17 doesn't work with the latest proprietary ATI driver, and caused it to completely lock up.

Manjaro 0.810 w/ Cinnamon: Just as good as it was originally, with the few minor problems I was having with Cinnamon on every distro.  Manjaro is absolutely fantastic, their AUR incursion gives you a wide breadth of software that isn't even available on all of Ubuntu's PPA.  Manjaro also unlike some of these other distro's that have issues with the latest ATI driver's allows you to lock your kernel.

So why does Linux still suck?

Netflix:  Seriously, why can't I just watch my movies on Linux?  Installing pipelight, for some reason isn't working this time, I'll have to dig into the error codes I'm receiving from AUR.

MTP: It finally works, even in Cinnamon... Except it's ugly.  In every version of Cinnamon, I get a mount error, and then it successfully mounts.  KDE for how bloated it is, provides a much more seamless desktop experience.

Google: What's with the half-assed support of Linux?  Your phone runs on the kernel, how hard is it to port your software to the platform?

The fight against proprietary software.  Seriously, they're worse than atheists.  Proprietary software isn't going away, and Stallman's (and Debian's) insistance that you purchase "open hardware" is just ludicrous.  I largely just completely avoid Distro's that get too preachy and zealotous.  Debian, is a perfect example of that where they reject open source software, like Firefox, because Mozilla's trademark on the image.

Real Microsoft Office Compatibility:  This is Microsoft's fault, but it absolutely sucks.  If I open a word document in Libre Office or Open Office, it mangles it beyond use.  Like proprietary hardware, Microsoft is essentially the office leader.  Drive (Google's web apps) will never replace Word and Excel for the corporate world.

ATI/AMD: This company needs to get it's house in order.  The beta driver doesn't work with the latest Linux kernel available (3.17) it works with 3.13, which is already EOL. (no longer supported for bug/security fixes.  What do you run then?  3.12, which provides LTS support until 2016.  Hopefully by two years, ATI/AMD gets it's act together and releases a proprietary driver that works with the latest software.  Perhaps by that time the Open source driver will be even better.  It's already better than it was the last time I had an ATI card, seven years ago.

Conclusion: There is a lot that sucks in Linux.  There is a lot that sucks in Windows.  Choose the OS that sucks less for you.  With Steam releasing more and more games for Linux, AMD is going to have to make it's driver better.  Nvidia's Linux driver has already gotten better.

The geek inside of me loves Linux despite all the warts.  It's the same reason I flashed multiple ROM's on my Samsung Captivate.  I love the experimentation, and customization!  All of these things are what make Linux so much more fun to use than Windows.

Seriously, By having the choice to choose MATE or Cinnamon over the heavier (and more similar to Windows KDE) I save ~300 MB of RAM with no extra apps running.  that's huge, for performance and power consumption.

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