1x15: Why Dear Watson

Bryan Lunduke, Jono Bacon, Jeremy Garcia, and Stuart Langridge present Bad Voltage, :

  • Bryan gave his yearly "Linux Sucks" talk at LinuxFest Northwest, and the rest of us take issue with his approach, his arguments, his data sources, and his general sense of being
  • The Xbox One: reviewed as a TV set-top box, not as a gaming console
  • The up and coming elementary OS: is it any good, and what do we think of it?
  • Our discussion of elementary OS raised a number of questions: Daniel Foré, leader of the project, talks about the goals of the OS and answers our queries
  • Community recap: your emails and forum posts and happenings in the Bad Voltage community

Download the show now!

s/Xbox 360/Xbox One/

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corrected, thank you @neuro.

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Is there a photo, anywhere, of Jono’s face when DF shared his opinions on Ubuntu?

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Just another thought as to why less people say they ‘hate unity’ than a year ago. Maybe, like me, they’re not bothered by other folks using, and loving, something they don’t care for. I don’t hate unity, it just doesn’t meet my needs. I feel the same about Ubuntu. I’m not really their target audience (and shut it anyone who says I must not be human since Ubuntu is ‘Linux for human beings’). Why should I feel the need to hate something just because its not for me? The people working on it are obviously working hard. They must like how it works/feels. Good for them (with absolutely no sarcasm). I wish them all the best.


I think that I’m in a really good position to talk about Ubuntu and elementary. I’m not a programmer nor a developer. I moved from Windows to Ubuntu on the desktop because I disagree with the idea of proprietary software and I don’t feel comfortable using software that is not open source, although I understand that right now I can’t do everything that I do on my notebook using only open source software (I still need Flash, proprietary codecs and fonts, etc.). It will be a long text, I’m warning you. I have never written about this before so I’m going to put out anything that I think about it.

For regular users there’s really only Ubuntu and elementary

So, I moved from Windows 7. After that I could notice how Ubuntu is just a better OS than Windows ever will be, for reasons that I’m assuming we all agree, like stability, how easy it is to search and install new apps, the system is secure, etc. I installed Ubuntu 12.04 (the community recommended me to use only LTS releases) and was happy with it. In my time using Linux I tested a lot of distributions, mainly Ubuntu-based ones, that tried to achieve the same thing: be an operating system easy to use so my parents could move to open source. But before elementary, Ubuntu was the only Linux-based desktop OS that I could recommend to Windows users without feeling embarrassed. Linux people love to recommend things like SolydK or Mint to new users, but I really think, and I say this as someone who’s the target audience of those ‘easy-to-use’ distributions, that Ubuntu and elementary are the only ones that cares about providing a good experience to those users, and the fact that elementary achieved this with only their second release is amazing. I used my family as lab rats and made them use Mint for the past six months. The overall opinion isn’t good. Mint looks like something from the 90’s made by a bunch of amateurs, not a system that my father can trust to work on or that my sister feels comfortable using for simple tasks like browsing the web, watching TV shows and managing photos. You will always find a Linux nerd saying that his grandfather can use a Debian or Arch box and never had a problem with it, but that’s not what we should want if we want open source to be popular on the desktop. We should want systems that are easy enough so that the grandfather can walk into a store, buy a desktop and use it without asking the grandson for help. And right now, only Ubuntu gives me that.

At least here in Brasil it’s quite easy to buy Dell notebooks with Ubuntu LTS. I don’t know how it works in the rest of the world.

Dang it, elementary is great!

I like good design and that’s one of the main reasons that made me move to elementary when Luna was released. I agree that most open source apps never really cared about it and I don’t feel like Canonical encourage the development of good-looking third-party apps like elementary does. The fact that Audacity will look terrible on elementary is not an elementary problem. It’s an open source problem. Audacity looks terrible anywhere, not just in elementary. At least they provide the tools so that developers can improve their applications. The guys at elementary really care about the little details in a way that I’ve never seen on the open source world. But I’m not sure if I will keep using it for another six months.

What the hell is a regular user?

I’m a regular user. Or at least I think I am. I use Firefox to browse the web everyday, I search and download new apps using the Ubuntu Software Center, I watch TV shows and movies (be it torrents or DVDs), I listen to my music collection and I play games from Steam and Humble Bundle. But I’m also graduating in Journalism, so I edit photos with GIMP, I edit some audio with Audacity, I make newspapers and magazines with Scribus (at least I’m trying to, but it’s being difficult to replace Adobe InDesign), I use Transcribe to transcript interviews, I use OpenShot to edit TV reports, I use Writer and Impress and it’s not hard to have four or five documents opened at the same time. And yes, I’m a regular user. I hate the Terminal and people who tell me that I must learn to use it if want to “truly use my computer”, I’m not a fan of customization that’s not provided by the developers and I don’t understand why people follow ‘update your kernel guides’ just to later complain that everything is broking. I just want to use my computer. I have the same workflow of any journalist and I do the same things that my all college classmates do on Windows.

Do we all agree here? Because I feel like elementary considers me a power user. There’s no easy access to my recent documents and working with more than five apps at the same time it’s a big pain in the ass. I need to Alt+Tab if I want to change between documents because there’s no smart way to handle apps that requires more than one window for everything (and even elementary apps disrespect this). Auto-hiding the dock looks nice, but it’s terrible if you need to constantly change between apps and tweaking it to be on the top all the time wastes a lot of screen space on my already tiny monitor. Don’t get me wrong. I love elementary and, as I already said, it’s the only OS besides Ubuntu that I would recommend to someone, but I really think that some design decisions (in fact, a lot of them) are made with people who use only one or two apps at a time in mind. Ubuntu seriously needs to put their design team to work on Unity for the desktops, but for the most part, Unity seems handles my workflow much better than Pantheon.

That being said, there’s a lot of things that Ubuntu should learn with elementary and vice-versa. Unity’s Dash can be confusing and it requires a lot of clicks just to show my installed applications. But at the same time has a great search. Slingshot shows me all my apps but the system lacks a good search functionality and a better file management. At the same time, the new Ubuntu webapps completely sucks while the Midori implementation in elementary is just what I want. This is great. There’s always room for improvement and open source and software livre allows us to work together in order to improve.

I’m happy to see that there are two open source desktop operating systems that wants me as a user and they’re both great, but that’s not our problem anymore. We now have a bigger problem. We need better third-party apps, better App Centers with great software in it. We need a sound recorder that fits really well with the desktop, not one built for KDE that looks like crap but nobody develops a new one because people start to say that ‘we don’t need yet another sound recorder’. We always need new apps and we need them to be stable and developed with an OS in mind. The people at elementary realized that, but they still don’t have the community to provide this app ecosystem. Ubuntu have this community, but it doesn’t look like Canonical is working in this area. Or maybe we’ll see a lot of new things in the next cycle, I don’t know. But this shows what’s the biggest problem with Linux for the desktop and it isn’t Unity, Mir or a bunch of people my age making another Ubuntu-based distribution. The problem is that users don’t care about the desktop shell or the display server. They want a stable system, that it’s well-designed and has a lot of good apps. And to provide that, my only hopes are with elementary and Ubuntu.

PS: My Android 2.2 phone is dying so please Canonical put Brasil in your plans, because Ubuntu is looking awesome on the phone.

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*cough*OS X*cough*

Best episode yet.

I rather like Elementary. I’ve long leaned toward more neck-beardy distros, but, I have to admit, after getting into OS X a couple of years ago, I’ve enjoyed a prettier, more design and UX focused OS with a fully-functional command line Unix shell (so still don’t care for Windows). I avoided the likes of Ubuntu for their user-friendly stigma (gah!), but at a point, you just wanna live and get stuff done and who gives a shit about ideology.

I’ll never understand this. Why would being friendly be a bad thing?


Nerd street cred. If you’re not compiling everything from source, you’re not nerdy enough.


I ran Luna as my primary desktop for months while it was in beta, for some time after the release, started to feel a bit constrained by it, distro- and DE-hopped awhile, came back to it months later (happily) then dropped it again after just a couple of months.

At this point in time, the biggest thing interfering with my enjoyment of elementary is DF.

As a user, I like most of their design choices. But I don’t like every last one of them (which is fine), and pantheon is even less focused on customizability than Unity (which is also fine - their product, they can do with it what they want). Then I read some comments making it plain that if people wanted to change elementary to suit their own preferences, they were overtly unwanted as users.

After witnessing a few interactions in various places - my opinion is that the hard, quality work Daniel and the team have done is only visible to anyone else because of the Linux foundation that serves as a platform to showcase their work - and despite this Daniel seems to take every opportunity to make it clear that he does’t particuarly like Linux nor the Linux community. Daniel is entitled to his opinons of course. But I went from evangelizing elementary to many people to never recommending it, based primarily on Daniel’s attitude and seeming arrogance in this area.

I know that, in the world of Linux, derivative works are common and an integral part of the landscape. I know that other projects have seen some controversy about how they related to whoever was upstream from them. I don’t think this is the same thing.

If the Mint team thought Ubuntu was really great, they’d work for Canonical or contribute to Ubuntu instead of making Mint. If Canonical thought debian was perfect, Ubuntu wouldn’t exist. I get it. But Daniel seems to think that everything but what his team has done is pretty crap. (Except for GNOME) Of course if he has to shovel all that crap out the door with pantheon to get people to use it, he’s willing to do it - for now.

I’m capable of using a distro that I like even if I don’t always agree with the people creating it. You’re never going to agree with everything someone does. But this general attitude and, dare I say it, arrogance from Daniel is far out of proportion to the modest benefits of pantheon over other DE’s. Sure there are things I miss, but there are things I missed from other DE’s when I was using pantheon… (And it was made very clear not to hope for any optional features that not everyone might want - you pretty much have to hope that Daniel likes what you do, or find third party ways to implement what you want, even for relatively minor feature requests.)

Daniel feels too much like Jobs to me. Yes, look what Jobs did. But Daniel hasn’t done those things yet, and there is no guarantee that he will.

When I saw he was going to be interviewed, I thought it would be a good chance to see if the limitations of text only comunication were the problem - to see if I’d been interpreting him all wrong. If anything I’m more convinced than before that I want nothing to do with elementary after hearing the segment on BV. I’m sure Daniel is happy to shrug becuase those Linux guys he tends to “piss off” aren’t his core audience. And that’s OK by me - because at least he’s over there bringing this attitude to his project, not something with more impact on the Linux ecosystem.

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It isn’t open source.

Hey, have you guys seen this? http://bitcoin.polisforcongress.com/

I like Daniel; I think he is a good guy with great ideas. I think his comment about pissing off Linux folks was more related to the fact that they are making bold decisions and are happy to do so if it makes sense for the wider project.

The challenge here, is that they need Linux fans to be on board to be successful. It is not like they are a company building product and able to hire hundreds of developers to implement their vision; they are fundamentally dependent on volunteers, and the vast majority of those volunteers will come from the general Linux community.

I think they need a delicate balance of disruptive new thinking and direction (which I think they have) but they also need to do (IMHO) a better job of translating that vision into something the wider Linux base can get on board with. If they don’t they will struggle to gain adoption if not through vision though implementation.

I do think it is all to play for though. :slight_smile:

Does it seem fair to think that they do no longer care about Unity because they left the main Ubuntu? I do not care about Unity because I would never consider using it.
Now, as for the Elementary interface, the Pantheon Desktop - I came across this page on the ArchWiki for building Pantheon with Arch. I am considering getting into that.
As for the themeing, I always wonder why a lot of distributions don’t include the main theme files - say, even if you are basing on GTK3, then still adding GTK2 and QT themeing. It is not as if they take up a lot of space, and it does a lot for consistency.

I can agree with Bryan’s review of the kinnect being way creepy. My daughter and son-in-law have an xbox 360, and my son-in-law and 2 year old granddaughter were playing fruit ninja…while she was playing, it “recognized” her as my daughter and logged her in as my daughter. Creepy facial recognition…

And? :slight_smile:

Thunderdome levels of badass, right there.

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