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A Lengthy, Pedantic Review of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) (bityard.net)
294 points by dEnigma 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 368 comments

Ubuntu 18.04 is the first release to include my app, PikoPixel (pixel-art editor), in its repository (universe): https://packages.ubuntu.com/bionic/gnustep/pikopixel.app

I had to tweak PP's packaging to get it to appear in the Ubuntu Software app, so I can provide a bit of info about this part of the article:

My assumption for now is that the Ubuntu Software application only shows updates for packages that were installed through it. Further, the list of installed applications that it shows is very clearly a subset of those that are actually installed on the system. Color me befuddled.

The Ubuntu Software app (& similar software-center apps, such as GNOME Software, KDE Discover, etc.) only shows distro packages which have valid AppStream metadata: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AppStream

The AppStream metadata is generated automatically by running appstream-generator (https://github.com/ximion/appstream-generator ) on Ubuntu's repositories. However, on some packages the metadata can't be generated, due to an error - either the package has missing info, incorrect formatting, or possibly it's an issue with appstream-generator.

Here's a list of packages in the Ubuntu Bionic universe repo that have issues (packages with errors are unlikely to appear in Ubuntu Software): http://appstream.ubuntu.com/bionic/universe/issues/index.htm...

List of packages with successfully generated metadata in Ubuntu Bionic universe (should appear in Ubuntu Software): http://appstream.ubuntu.com/bionic/universe/metainfo/index.h... (Package names link to the generated metadata xml file).

Hey, congrats! How'd you find the experience of writing a new app in GNUStep? I feel like in some better metaverse, the GNUStep project would have ridden Apple's rise in popularity to be a solid contender / alternative to the Apple ecosystem.

I second this! I've looked at GNUStep in the past for a few different things, but it always looks so woefully unmaintained.

When I tried an early beta (of 10.04) I was unable to find the mosquitto client tools in the software store. Neither does it show up in either list you linked. I guess it was left out for other reasons.

At one point there was a setting in the software store to show all available packages. It has been removed.

At present I am only aware of command line tools for finding S/W that includes all available packages. (`snap` and `apt`) I guess Ubuntu are dumbing down Linux. They have succeeded. I think it's dumb.

Edit: Should have been "18.04". I need a better proof reader. (Perhaps that is why this was downvoted.)

If only we lived in a world where developers could just distribute their application binaries to the end user without having to rely on a storefront.

You know you can still do that in Linux, right? The package managers are just a convenience.

This is one of the reasons why the web is so successful.

(0-click install, instant app download, deep links, and 100% device compatibility are the others)


Whenever I find an application hosted on SourceForge, I assume it is abandoned.

> GitHub


When the display goes to sleep due to lack of input or whatever, you have to drag upwards with your mouse to unlock the screen. Like some common dirty frickin' smart phone.


Dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes the window. FOR GODS SAKE WHY.

Double yes!

> Dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes the window. FOR GODS SAKE WHY.

I use this all the time when working with several monitors. Just press Alt, click somewhere onto a window, move this window to a different monitor, smash window to the top of the screen. Bam, instant monitor-switching of full-screen windows.

(And yes, usually I use keyboard shortcuts for this but when the hand is already on the mouse then this is the best way to do it)

I love those features so much. Dragging the window near a side of the screen make it fills half of it too.

I learned that Windows has another nice variation on this: When you vertically resize (not drag!) a window to the top, it vertically maximizes the window. On Linux I configure a double click on the top bar to do this. I like to vertically maximize my terminals.

Windows has a few tricks that are nice.

One feature I miss from it is that if you drag and drop something from a windows below another, the one from which you drag the item from doesn't get focused and doesn't raise to the front.

In Xfce, you can put the mouse where it shows the resize arrow and double click to maximize in that direction. Windows has that for vertical but not horizontal. Neither has it for diagonal, it would be sweet if that pushed the activated corner to the desktop corner.

You can double-click vertical edges too

And (at least in Xfce) dragging to a corner makes it fill that quarter of the screen. Really nice for building tri-window layouts where you need one tall and two short windows, which is how I typically arrange my windows when I use a tiling WM anyway, especially when programming: tall window for code, top short for Magit, bottom short for DirEd (if I have a high enough resolution, I might sometimes turn that into three smalls - Magit + DirEd + a REPL - which Xfce doesn't seem to support, unfortunately).

Like this in theory but they manage to screw it up. The new size is a state that is lost when moving again. :(

Personally I appreciate that, so YMMV. Makes it easy to divide the screen between two windows and then return the windows to normal size without manually resizing them.

> I use this all the time when working with several monitors. Just press Alt, click somewhere onto a window, move this window to a different monitor, smash window to the top of the screen. Bam, instant monitor-switching of full-screen windows.

1. What's wrong with the maximise button? It wasn't broken, it didn't need fixing.

2. What if you want the window at the top of the screen without being maximised?

Maximize maximizes onto the current screen. I might want it maximized on another screen. The maximize button is also super tiny and harder to hit compared to the title bar.

I also think that in those rare cases you actually want to put a window at the top without maximizing it you are better off with a tiling window manager with keyboard shortcuts. In Windows you can quickly get top left quarter with win+left, win+up. On the other hand, win+up, ctrl+win+left also gives you full screen on another monitor.

> I might want it maximized on another screen.

Then move it to that screen first.

> The maximize button is also super tiny and harder to hit compared to the title bar.

Then the button needs to be bigger.

> I also think that in those rare cases you actually want to put a window at the top without maximizing it you are better off with a tiling window manager with keyboard shortcuts.

That may be true for you; it isn't for me.

I find keyboard shortcuts hard to remember and often inadvertantly press keys (don't know which one I've pressed) with shortcuts which do things I don't like.

1. I think the maximise button is still there. I don't think they altered it at all.

2. If small targets like the maximise button aren't a problem for you, then stopping the windows drag a few pixels before the mouse hits the top of the screen should be easy for you as well.

The drag to the top is nice because it mirrors the drag to left and right side. Since this is Linux, I'm sure you can configure this stuff somewhere.

> If small targets like the maximise button aren't a problem for you, then stopping the windows drag a few pixels before the mouse hits the top of the screen should be easy for you as well

I certainly could do that. However (1) it wastes space, and (2) it's a crappy UI: moving the window some distance does one thing, moving it a bit more does something completely different.

> Since this is Linux, I'm sure you can configure this stuff somewhere.

I agree, the relevant command is:

    $ sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

It's GNOME, so nope, no setting for that.

Try this:

    dconf write /org/gnome/shell/extensions/classic-overrides/edge-tiling false

Didn't change anything.

How about:

    dconf write /org/gnome/mutter/edge-tiling false

Also doesn't work.

> 2. What if you want the window at the top of the screen without being maximised?

I'm using Unity in Ubuntu 16.04, and there a window only gets maximized if you drag it very close to the top edge of the screen. If you drag it to the bottom of the top bar or anywhere in the bottom half of the top bar, it moves to the bottom edge of the top bar without maximizing.

I got so much used to Unity. 17.04 felt more alien to me than when I first tried Win8 Metro. I'm getting old...

17.10 you mean? I haven't enjoyed that release at all, for me personally Ubuntu's Gnome 3 (could be everyone's Gnome 3 - I dunno) is just clunky and buggy compared to Unity.

I'll upgrade to 18.04, but if it isn't an improvement over 17.10 in that regard, it'll be time for me to check out other desktops.

Yes, 17.10 was the latest one I tried.

I prefer using LTS releases myself, so it's probably time to test 18.04.

17.04 still had unity.

> 1. What's wrong with the maximise button? It wasn't broken, it didn't need fixing

Using the maximise button takes more clicks and more aiming.

I use shortcuts a lot. Three desktops,

Top: Dev environment (VS Code + browsers + git extensions)

Middle: Servers, frontend servers and test runner console (anything I need to check or restart from time to time)

Bottom: anything that I'd rather not touch (I start some windows from a shell and move them to desktop 1, this is probabably not the most optimal way but I try to be more pragmatic and spend less time on tweaking my setup and this is a step in the right direction.)

I use Super + arrow up/down to move between them, I've assigned super + ctrl + shif + arrow up/down to move the currently focused window up or down etc.

You mean it has the super annoying snap to window edge that windows 10 has

>You mean it has the super functional snap to window edge that windows 10 has

See how opinions work?

Well if and only have a laptop screen to work with trying to adjust windows and have it to do something stupid that hids other windows you want to see.

Alt + double click can also toggle maximize the window under the cursor.

> Dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes the window. FOR GODS SAKE WHY.

Because it's a handy gesture.

> you have to drag upwards with your mouse to unlock the screen. Like some common dirty frickin' smart phone.

Yeah, that's pretty stupid.

You can also just press enter and type your password like normal.

Yeah, but for the past 25 years or so, the conventional way to wake up a desktop computer whose monitor has gone to sleep was a nonspecific mouse wiggle or keyboard press. Why change that? Like how big of a deal was accidentally waking up your monitor? What problem are we fixing? What's our usability goal here? Is this requirement discoverable to the user or not?

> Why change that?

Because it's NEW!! And therefore BETTER!!!!

> What problem are we fixing?

The problem that desktops were BORING, they had always worked the same way for SO LONG. They needed to be NEW! And therefore BETTER!!!!

I would like to switch round the accelerator and brake pedals on the cars of the people who make decisions like this. I'm sure they would thank me (provided they survived the experience), because having the pedals in the same position is OLD and BORING and changing them would be NEW!! And BETTER!!!!

For me it's not a very big deal; so many systems expect Enter now that I've turned Enter into my "nonspecific" keyboard press even in situations where it doesn't necessarily have to be Enter (like waking up a machine that's locked with XScreenSaver).

If I'm going to wake up a computer whose monitor is dark, I typically hit the super key, arrow keys, or sometimes the space bar and would never hit Enter as the first key. Why? I remember when people used to just turn monitors off manually before monitor power management, and I remember blank screen savers with first gen energy saving monitors that would turn off if they detected a blank screen. It only takes once where the monitor is off and you hit a key to turn it back on and accidentally confirm some dialog or accept changes or execute a command before you start using keys that don't actually do anything.

I move the mouse, actually the touchpad. It's safer than hitting a key. Then the password prompt appears. Why force us to swype up too? And why up when on phones we swype horizontally, patents?

True, I do favor the mouse. I should have said, "If I'm going to wake up a computer using the keyboard."

That's fair. In my case I have a habit of locking my screen, so that's rarely (if ever) a concern, but I suppose muscle memory is indeed hard to forget.

The keypresses go directly to the password box BTW. That is, you don't have to "swipe" or hit return before you can type your password, you can just type away your password and hit return.

So instead of just typing your password, you prefer to wiggle your mouse first, and then start typing your password?

Yes. Because then I know I'm actually typing into the password box and not the username box which will be shown in plaintext once the monitor wakes up.

Or more importantly, checking that the screen actually locked and didn't just turn off. You could be about to broadcast your password in a chat.

Then press enter, and then type in your password.

I've noticed at least in 17.10 that hitting enter does not always seem to work and I have to drag up (this took me a while to even figure out).

I learned not to type enter a long time ago. Press shift.

> Dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes the window. FOR GODS SAKE WHY.

This also works in Xfce and I love it.

I use xfce, and have Alt-Left half width full height on the left, Alt-Right does the same on the right. Alt-up is half height, full width on top, Alt-down on bottom, and Alt-F10 maximise.

I tend to only use the mouse to point to the window I want focus on, although on the occasion I do use a mouse I have it that dragging to the top/bottom/left/right does the same behaviour.

I had to really think about those shortcuts (on my phone at the moment) as it's just muscle memory.

In xfce you can switch that behaviour off in Window Manager Tweaks and the Accessibility tab. Not sure about Gnome shell.

Actually you can just directly type your password without dragging/pressing anything.

Yeah, the gnome lockscreen drove me nuts until I figured that out.

Just press enter to get to the password prompt without using the mouse.

or just start typing your password

Interestingly pressing the Up arrow, as might be expected after seeing the upwards-pointing chevrons on the lock screen, doesn't work.

Xubuntu, all the benefits of using a popular Linux distro without the UI surprises every few years.

I will never understand why Ubuntu took a very nice desktop Linux distribution, and fucked it up with all these mobile and tablet centric UI absurdities.

It's the way of the world. Apple and Microsoft seem hell-bent on introducing "phone/tablet" type gestures into their desktop UIs also. It seems only natural that linux distros would follow.

Lesson for the kids making these decisions: "new and/or different" != better

No, Unity came before Windows 8.

And with Windows 8 noone actually used Metro, the real desktop environment wasn't really touched so you always had a polished desktop-oriented UI one key stroke away. Not so with ubuntu that single-handedly obliterated the desktop Linux market dominance it had.

On the other hand, browser mouse gestures were awesome for half a decade before smartphones were a thing.

Isn't it Gnome or the *dm? I use Arch with vanilla Gnome3 and it has the same drag up thing. I just press enter.

They did that because they'd caught the one-size-fits-all virus which made them yearn for Ubuntu phones and Ubuntu tablets. Those ventures did not really come to fruition but the side effects still show. Given the prevalence of touch-screen laptops it wouldn't surprise me if part of this idea actually does find a niche to settle in on convertible devices.

Never? It's not that hard to understand. To gain market share.

Current users aren't going to abandon it because of these various stupidities. The market they need to capture is the market that wants a look-and-feel-alike product.

Mostly GNOME is to blame for this.

Gnome is more keyboard centric than mobile centric.

> Dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes the window. FOR GODS SAKE WHY.

It must be great for avoiding accidental unlocks, but I always feel a bit dirty swiping up the mouse to unlock.

It seems like none of the dumb GNOME warts were plastered over.

There's still the idiotic, screen-taking-over activities menu (because, yknow, it should take 3840x2160 pixels to show a fucking app launcher. Did nobody learn from Windows 8? The GNOME devs are officially more hard-headed than Microsoft - an achievement of some note)

There's still the swipe-to-unlock desktop

There's the default Apple scrolling behavior

The author said it best:

I spend every day in a state of permanent quixotic hope that eventually humanity will comes to its senses and realize that computers and mobile devices are different kinds of technology with different purposes and different usage patterns.

Seriously, GNOME is a touch UI. The large buttons, the swipe mechanics, everything. Except nobody uses GNOME on the mobile devices it appears to be made for!

GNOME is what you get when you build a team for political reasons instead of hiring good developers and designers.

To make it good you'd have to exchange the whole team first. It's LXDE for me from here on out.

KDE is sane these days, and separates mobile and desktop UIs too!

They took a few too many gulps of the flat design kool-aid for my taste, but at least KDE hasn't forgotten who its users are or what kind of devices those users are installing it on.

I'm very unfamiliar with gnome as an organization. What are the political reasons you're referencing?

>The GNOME Foundation has run into cash flow problems [...] got into this situation through its Outreach Program for Women [...] "The Outreach Program for Women (OPW) helps women (cis and trans) and genderqueer get involved in free and open source software."


You chose to leave out that OPW was an internship program that GNOME managed on behalf of a number of organizations, that they simply fell behind on sending out invoices and collecting late payments, and that this took place 4-5 years ago. How does any of that show that GNOME has compromised technical hiring for political reasons?

You are blaming problems with Ubuntu 18.4 on a project to encourage diversity from 2013?

And apart from the 5 years since: it seems the problems were administrative, having nothing to do with the actual content of the program?

Any other problems in your life that’d easily go away if only these women weren’t meddling?

Really, GNOME's problem is the low quality of their software and poor responsiveness to user feedback and needs, not inane social initiatives. So long as Red Hat is one of their primary sponsors, it's not going anywhere.

You're saying their software is poor quality* because they employ... Women?

* Your opinion, not mine.

That is a deliberate mischaracterization of the OP's comment. It in no way implies that the software is poor because of women.

The outreach program is political, and is rather discriminatory and sexist.

Targeted programs to increase diversity are not sexist, in the same way that taking a bank robber’s loot and giving it back is not theft.

Your analogy makes no sense to me. When evaluating applicants, the only metrics used should be how well the applicant can do his or her job.

Giving applicants preference for having some blessed sex or political leanings is generally a recipe for disaster.

To explain: certain groups are underrepresented in sought-after professions, at colleges, etc. It is rather widely agreed that this is a result of historical injustices, such as racist or sexist policies and habits not allowing women or non-whites to study at colleges, or get certain jobs.

That is the bank robbery: these groups were robbed of opportunity.

The remedial measures are programs such as the one discussed here, or affirmative action for college admission.

That is "taking the money from the robber, and giving it back to the bank".

The analogy is that the last action does fit your everyday definition of something bad: you are not supposed to take a bag of money from someone against their will. You are not supposed to make employment or acceptance decicions based on sex or race.

Yet, quite obviously, it's stupid to look at those actions in isolation. You have to zoom out, and you'll see: it wasn't his money in the beginning.

That's the analogy, just in case your ignorance was genuine.

If a program deliberately excludes one sex, is it not sexist?

Targeted programs to increase diversity are not sexist, in the same way that taking a bank robber’s loot and giving it back is not theft.

"taking a bank robber’s loot and giving it back is not theft."

I mean, that is technically theft. It's just very obviously justified theft in response to a previous theft (assuming you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is in fact the bank robber from whom you're taking the money).

It's not. Here's the definition from wikipedia: " theft is the taking of another person's property without that person's permission with the intent to deprive the lawful owner of it"

...but that's really not the point here, is it?

No, it's not the point at all. I just like going off on these sorts of weird tangents :)

Curiously, Wiktionary has a different definition: "The act of stealing property". "Property" in turn has a lot of different definitions, the first being "Something that is owned". Relevantly, neither definition specifies by whom the property is owned; as long as it's someone's property, stealing it is technically "theft" under this sort of broad definition.

Merriam-Webster seems to agree more with you than it does with me ("[...] the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it" / "an unlawful taking [...] of property"), while Dictionary.com seems to be similarly vague ("the act of stealing", though this is lumped in with "the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another" and "larceny").

>There's the default Apple scrolling behavior

Everyone has preferences, but the "apple" behavior makes so much sense. It's the first thing I change when I install a laptop OS.

I use the default scroll direction (down is down, up is up) with mouse wheels, but invert it for touchpads. It just feels more correct; with the wheel, it feels like the bottom of the wheel is the thing moving the page up, while with the touchpad it feels like it should be moving the page directly.

Works almost perfectly. The only problem is the Slack desktop app (which inexplicably ignores the settings for literally every other Linux desktop app and fails to invert my touchpad scrolling).

Meanwhile, I can't stand that way. For me, that means having to think about it and switch direction depending on which one I'm using (which happens several times a day at work, depends on if my laptop is docked or not).

I prefer it where if I want to scroll down, I just drag my finger down, regardless of whether it's on the touchpad or the mouse.

Think of the scrollwheel as sitting above the screen. When you roll the wheel down, the bottom of the wheel is going up, moving the screen up.

The touchpad IS the screen, so to speak, so moving the finger up would move the screen down.

That's how I visualize it. YMMV

> There's still the idiotic, screen-taking-over activities menu (because, yknow, it should take 3840x2160 pixels to show a fucking app launcher. Did nobody learn from Windows 8?

Launchpad on the Mac takes over the full screen too and I never hear anyone gripe about that.

Except Launchpad is entirely optional and not default for anything beyond being in the dock on new accounts.

GNOME, meanwhile, binds that thing to a top-left hot corner as well as the meta key, and it's the main way to search for stuff (meta key, start typing), and it's the only way to switch workspaces.

Of course, you can install a bunch of addons to work around some of this, but we're talking about sane defaults. GNOMEs are not.

What a good review, focusing on all the so-called little things, that are actually the big things, ie does it actually work smoothly.

The same with laptop reviews which quite often just compare features and speeds, but not the feel, keyboard, trackpad, weight, noise and heat, port placement, carry-ability, one-hand-holdability, etc, etc.

Yes, one of the best Linux distro reviews I have read!

Actually gives a feel for how it would be using it rather than descriptions of cosmetics. Also it gives constructive and relevant criticism which can be of help for future development.

This is a common problem with reviews, rushed out to be first, but not sure what is the optimal time spent for reviewing the product. Also, many times I get a feeling people reviewing distros are not really qualified, as in contrast to this guy who seems to know both what is important and also have technical knowledge, when needed.

LTS. Meanwhile Gnome Shell is leaking memory like hell and it has bugs that've been open for 5 years and are marked as 'critical'. (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-shell/+bug/1... and the rest)

I am running gnome-shell on 3 desktops and my current session is running for days and memory usage is stable around 230MB.

The leak as discussed in the bug comes from certain extensions. I do not think it qualifies as leaks as "hell".

If you just press "Super" multiple times does RAM usage go up? Was quite reproducible for me last time I've checked.

Just tried this on my machine and it caused no increase in RAM usage. Hit it ~100 times.

Edit: Actually it is increasing memory usage, but on the order of like 1MB per 5 key presses. That would probably become an issue on a long enough timescale.

And later goes down, as it gets GC-ed.

Did you read the bug report? The entire problem is that GC isn't working right. See https://feaneron.com/2018/04/20/the-infamous-gnome-shell-mem... for more info.

This is fixed in the release version.

Ubuntu lost me years back when they introduced Unity. The single biggest issue I had with it was the positioning of the dock and how there was no officially supported means of changing it. I didn't like it from a design perspective but far worse was my RSI which was particularly bad at the time, even subtle things like button placement would just set everything right off.

I wasn't the only one who wanted the option to customize this but such requests fell on deaf ears, I was told by one of the Unity devs that the dock placement was a "design decision" and that they had no intention of changing it. Until they did but that was many years later and long after I had moved on to Linux Mint and Cinnamon.

I think adopting Gnome is a positive step in the right direction for Ubuntu, it sounds like they may actually be listening to their users now.

Unity was a terrible pock-mark on the face of desktop interfaces. I was excited to see Gnome 3 supplant it (I've held the unpopular opinion that Gnome 3 isn't all that bad, and I've used it off and on since 10.10). After a couple of hours use, I've seen it crash just like Unity. It's almost as if they took the crashy bits and put them into Gnome. I'm also dismayed at how hard it is to enable theming. Gnome Tweak Tool comes with that option locked out by default. Themes in general have been a pain for many years.

I've been using Xubuntu for years now, and am very satisfied. The comfort of Ubuntu packages/support with the same good 'ol XFCE UI that doesn't shove the latest flashy mobile touch interface in my face.

The linked article mentions that there are zero UI customization options. You can't even change the font or colors. They are certainly not listening to their users.

Switch to Kubuntu then, all the ease of Ubuntu with the customizability of Plasma/KDE

This. KDE is one of the best desktop environments around, if not the very best. Their "activities" concept does wonders to my workflow.

I just came back to Win10. My past experiences with KDE have been less than optimal.

That's a real shame, I always thought customization was one of Gnome's strong points (at least compared to Unity). Sounds as though the arrogance I experienced all those years back is still in play.

Man, the Linux crowd really sucks. Why am I even reading these comments?

I'm of the opinion that the Linux desktop has never been better, and I really enjoy using modern Linux desktops a lot more than I used to. To all those developers that made it possible for us to use this stuff on our computers with no strings attached: thank you. Ubuntu 18.04 is a great collection of these achievements (like many other current Linux distros).

Reading these comments you'd miss that this review has a (mostly) positive conclusion and a recommendation for people to use it.

I tend to be pretty critical of Linux because I do genuinely believe there's a lot of stuff in Linux that's really bad.

Would I ever give it up and switch to Windows/Mac? No, never in a million years. Compared to modern Windows 10, Gnome's UX is masterful.

Linux has actually come pretty far - set up is still annoying, and some problems are still unnecessarily difficult to solve, but for the most part once you get everything up and running you have a system that just works, and that will keep on working without you having to do much.

I've used Linux for a long time, but it's only recently that I've felt confident enough that I've started seriously recommending it to non-technical people. I've got my Mom running Ubuntu as her main computer, and over the past year it cut down on my technical support by about 2/3rds of what I was doing before.

I think it's easy to take the good things for granted. Yeah, to a certain degree Linux is crap, but pretty much all software I or anyone else ever makes is going to be crap - that's the hard lesson you have to learn when you start developing software.

It's still hands-down the best OS out there if you just want a stable, usable computer that respects you, and I still feel really grateful for it every time I boot up my computer to get actual work done.

I was using Gnome on Fedora for a while but I switched to Windows 10 a few months ago and can't say I've had any problems with the UX.

Window snapping works. Minimizing windows works. You can do that thing where it shows a small version of everything you have open on both (win+tab on Win10, don't remember the Gnome shortcut).

Recommending Linux to someone over Windows seems insane to me unless that person is literally just using a web browser for everything or they are a developer. An operating system is useless unless it runs the programs you want to run and Linux is still missing so much. Microsoft Office would be a good start.

I run Windows 10 on a Surface Pro 3 because Linux touch support is just too bad right now and because I have maybe two essential applications that don't run on Linux. I would switch it over in a heartbeat if I could, I think the UX is really bad, it's a nightmare for me to maintain.

I hate that the updates are so pushy; I boot into the computer maybe two or three times a month and pretty much every time it wants me to restart and update something. I hate that it installs new updates on startup, I don't know who decided that when I turned on a computer I'd want to wait 3-4 extra minutes for stuff to install. I've been bitten by that multiple times during work presentations and calls.

I hate how glitchy the core OS touch support is; the touch keyboard only pops up about half the time, and manually getting it to show up is a pain. Unbelievably, Gnome is more consistent - which is saying something because Linux touch support is so bad. Periodically, the dock will just decide it doesn't want to hide anymore. There's about a 50% chance if I switch it into tablet mode that screen rotation will work. The default permission prompts don't always tell me which application is requesting authentication. I have #?x! ads in my start menu.

The whole UX is just really... buggy and nonsensical and it feels like none of the designers ever tried to use it outside of demo conditions. Maybe that's my device or whatever, but I'm on a Surface Pro. Microsoft should be able to get that right.

I could go on, but there's not much point. In comparison, my Linux desktop basically never breaks. I set it up once, and it just works. Same for my parents. Especially with the rise of the web, app support is good enough for them and, again, they want their apps to be usable, not flashy, and Open Source usually fits that criteria just fine. The type of person who can get by with an Android tablet instead of a desktop, could also probably get by with a small Linux laptop and might even prefer it now.

There are obviously exceptions, but I don't have a lot of problem recommending Linux to people anymore, because I've found most people want a computer that is set up specifically for them, and then they just want it to work consistently. (Opinion me) most people do not want their computers to evolve, or delight them or something.

I think the demographic that Windows and Apple court is real, but narrower than you might suspect.

> ... I have maybe two essential applications that don't run on Linux. I would switch it over in a heartbeat if I could,

They don't run under wine? (or in a Reactos vm? I assume they don't make sense to run in a vm, as if they did, you'd already run Windows in a vm?)

Unfortunately no, but I retry them every three or four months to see if they will.

Clip Studio is close - really close, but color selection doesn't work and touch controls are messed up (especially with the stylus eraser). Touch support in Linux in general is awful, even with apps that I expect better of like Firefox or MyPaint, but it's almost good enough that I could tolerate it and switch anyway.

I'm semi-hopeful that it'll cross that line in a year or two, and especially hopeful that the work Purism is doing on the Librem Phone might speed that process up.

I honestly haven't tried to run a VM, I just assumed it would eat up battery too much to be useful - and since I use the tablet specifically for these apps, I'd have to spend all of my time in the VM anyway, which doesn't seem like much of an improvement :)

Obviously you're not using LTSB, which is what any sensible Windows 10 user would do.

> unless that person is literally just using a web browser for everything or they are a developer

This describes the personal desktop usage of all of almost every single person I know. I put my dad on Linux Mint almost a decade ago, because regular tech support got much more difficult once I moved away for college. The calls for help got cut down by a factor of 10 after the switch.

Its made some strides, but at least back then, Windows was way too complex for probably the bottom half of the distribution of tech savvy users.

I hear people make claims like this all the time on hacker news and reddit, and I just don't get it.

The only way I can see someone who knows nothing about computers experiencing 10x less issues by switching from Windows to Linux is because they use their computer 10x less or the person they go to for tech support knows Linux better than they know Windows.

To be honest, I'm just as baffled in the other direction. Have you ever seen a Linux Mint system? It's hardly Gentoo. What problems are you imagining, once the setup is completed? (It should be obvious that I didn't hand my dad a Live USB and say "good luck"). Installing software is simple, safe search and click in something named "software center". Updates are the same. Performance tends to be much better.

For a non tech savvy user: How do you install software on Windows? How do you avoid viruses if you're not savvy enough to intuitively pick up on which sites and emails are legit and which are malicious[1]? How do you stop 500 random programs from slowing the crap out of your computer by autostarting and running in the taskbar? This is leaving aside the piss-poor performance of the actual OS itself, which certain tech-savvy people handle by fretting about antivirus programs and the necessity of defragmentation. Go far back enough and you can't even dismiss the former of these concerns offhand, while with Linux, "don't worry about viruses" is an accurate enough directive. I could've said the same for Windows, but the collateral damage would be the very useful "don't download random software from random shady sites". For fuck's sake, at one point Windows had a virus that could infect your system _without even being opened_ (if attached to an email that was opened in Outlook).

Aside from setting up his system, which I'd have to do anyway, I struggle to think of a single problem my dad has had in the ten years since he's switched that wasn't an unforced error that he'd do on any system (ie accidentally changing some setting like screen magnification and being unable to find his way back).

I'm actually really curious about your answers to the above overarching question, because I similarly can't imagine what computing universe you live in that is remotely similar to the one I live in.

[1] some interesting research out of MSR sometime back indicated that bad grammar and other obvious tells in scam emails were actually _intentional_, in that they filtered out all but the least savvy users, who'd have the highest percentage of susceptibility during the more labor-intensive subsequent stages of the scamming process.

> It's still hands-down the best OS out there if you just want a stable, usable computer that respects you, and I still feel really grateful for it every time I boot up my computer to get actual work done.

Anecdotal, but I just recently installed Ubuntu 17.10 on one of my drives because I got tired of windows' shenanigans (was in a forced-update, boot-failure, version-reset loop) and wanted to get work done. I'm no noob to linux (have used it on and off as my main OS for the last 6 years), so I definitely didn't expect it to be a cakewalk, but after installing and 5 minutes of installing software all user input just stopped working completely. It happens about 10 minutes in every boot now. I'm sure there's a fix, but God damn it that's not something I should have to fix (or even think about). Linux on the desktop (much less laptop) has a very, very long way to go. Complexity and options are not always virtuous.

I owe my career in part to the fact that I just bit the bullet, dumped windows, and switched to Ubuntu as my main OS about 7 years ago. In the war on general purpose computing they're still fighting the good fight.

I, for one, am happy that a war is being fought on general purpose computing because it seems to be the only way to make everything "just work" to an acceptable degree.

The iPad is the least general and most locked down computer I've ever used but I love it because it just works. I've never had a problem with it.

I was a diehard Linux guy for five or six years but now I run Windows 10 on all my computers and spend most of my time in the iPad anyways.

Curated stores are fine and can indeed improve quality, but it'll be a tremendously sad day when they'll be mandated by law.

Adding a 30% tax and central control on all software just because we believe users can't be taught to not install random crap is a very bleak outlook indeed. Freedom is sometimes messy, but almost always worth it.

I do not support mandating those things by law.

I am content with letting the Linux people do their thing while I do my thing.

The only people I've only thought wanted to outlaw something are the most extreme Linux/GNU zealots who want to make it illegal for a company to lock down a computer even if it improves the user experience.

It stands to reason that such zealots exist on the other side of the argument as well, but I've never encountered them.

I didn't believe you would, but I fear it's a likely outcome if all that 99% of people ever use is a locked down system. Then misguided (or bribed) lawmakers will almost certainly start getting ideas about banning unlimited computers because "they're only used by hackers and pirates" or "because security" or something.

"I am content with letting the Linux people do their thing while I do my thing."

The problem is that when it becomes too niche, it will be banned out of course. ("Do you have any idea what people can DO with those things??")

Remember, encryption was a munition and controlled accordingly. The need for secure banking is about the only reason we're allowed that. That, and the efforts of people who demand ownership over their machines (or at least something close to it)

That is by no means the case.

It just takes a good number of people getting together and settling on a set of standards. The beauty of the general purpose computing device is it can support any and all at will.

Until people start thinking that "it's better to just let the big companies lock down hardware, then everything will just work!", which leads to hardware impls or subsystems like UEFI that actively fight to deprive the User of their rights to total control of their tool.

No thanks. My machine. My code, my rules, and my data. No one else's. i'll accept the onus of learning how to secure and safely use it. Convenience isn't worth the sacrifice of freedom.

>Until people start thinking that "it's better to just let the big companies lock down hardware, then everything will just work!"

Do a large number of people not already think this? I'm pretty sure that's why Chromebooks and iPads are appealing to many people.

Convenience is worth the sacrifice of freedom if you were never going to use the freedom anyways. It's not even a sacrifice if that's the case.

If someone offers to pay my rent on the condition that I never climb Mt. Everest, I am technically sacrificing freedom for convenience but I'm still going to do it because I wasn't going to climb Mt. Everest anyways.

I've been using Ubuntu almost since it started, because it works and I sure as hell don't miss fiddling with X modelines or compiling my own kernel. I've stuck with the standard Ubuntu, but have tried all the flavors because I wish some degree of customization, and Gnome wishes less every time. Unfortunately they are not as polished.

Since Ubuntu is so great anyway, I try to convince myself that less customization means less wasted time.

I’m of the same opinion. I thought Unity was alright and this new desktop is a great improvement.

Usually when I'm critical of Linux (in a desktop context), it's because I see a lot of potential for Linux to be the absolute best desktop platform out there. It already blows away the competition on a lot of different metrics, but some parts of the overall user experience do sometimes feel clunky or buggy or otherwise non-optimal, and it'd be awesome for that to someday not be the case.

A desktop Linux distro could combine the user-friendliness of the Mac world with the power-user-friendliness of the (pre-8) Windows world and turn both up to eleven while bringing its own element of stability and dependability. It won't get there unless problems - even if they seem minor - are identified and resolved.

I appreciate his no-bs approach to the review - he sticks to what matters to him, not all the new shiny bells and whistles. That said, I would have loved some more input on audio management in the new Ubuntu. pulseaudio is giving me such a headache in 17.10 - random static noise, not remembering the right output or the volume, etc etc..

What i find annoying is that no Linux distro comes with sane settings by default, you always have to tweak it until it works properly. It took me a few months to get Xubuntu figured out(and few years to properly customize): it involved lots of google searching and that is most pleasant expirience of them all(other distros can't hold a candle to Ubuntu quality). Its as if distro developers never used their own product(i suspect they run it through some VM on a Mac). Here are major things I had to do: 1.Make /tmp load in ram via tmpfs (much faster) 2.Disable swap entirely, convert it to a file partition.(swap is slow ugly cludge that is useless with 8GB ram). 3.Disable hibernate and suspend. (i don't want it to write to SSD). 4.Remove several CPU hungry services that serve zero purpose such as tumbler, whoopsie,browsed,update-notifier. 5.Fix the window manager to disable several annoying quirks: such as entering zoom mode ocassionally. The overall feeling is that Linux distros are packed with rarely used features turned on, and needed things requiring installing (like e.g. paprefs(pulseaudio)). The difference between what i have now and default setup is growing more distant every day as i fix and customize more stuff. This also ensures I will stay on Ubuntu 16.04 for the foreseeable future as i don't want to repeat similar "customization/usability" work i've done on one machine again.

I've been a Linux user since the very beginning, and have settled on Ubuntu as my daily driver for .. now .. decades (or is it, I dunno, feels like it..) .. anyway, I am a systems-level developer, lots of experience, and I enjoy myself a well-put together system.

So, since I tend towards the multimedia experiences, I use the -Studio variant of Ubuntu, which is preconfigured and biased, default installations-wise, towards the cool music and video and creative tools, and so on. Its really a treat.

Anyway, I have a few systems. A DAW, Digital Audio Workstation, my studio, which handles multiple channels of audio on a regular basis, often 32 independent streaming inputs per REC session .. and a fair swath of plugins nobody has ever heard of before, which is often a positive...

On my personal laptop, I run the same thing. A GPD Pocket, with a small satchel of cables, and I can pretty much set up anywhere and review sessions.

Through all of this, I have updated my Ubuntu systems - but the only way I've been able to survive, personally, is to avoid Gnome Shell, and select FVWM or LWM at login.

That said, the only place Gnome Shell really feels nice .. is on the GPD Pocket. Does this say something about where things are at?

I tell you one thing: the GPD Pocket has replaced a Macbook Air ...

A bit off topic but curious: which pro audio interfaces have you had the best success with on Linux? Especially at 32 channels. I doubt I can ever break my Logic+Waves addiction but your report has me intrigued, might give Ubuntu Studio a shot for some experimental tracks. A GPD could be handy for live tracking MADI at shows if the CPU can handle it.

Why doesn't Ubuntu (and many other distributions) change to a rolling release model. Having switched to Arch, though admittedly the installation process is much more elaborate than of Ubuntu, once you customise it to one's preference, it is much more convenient to keep upgrading individual packages as they are evolving.

Last time I tried Arch (about a decade ago), I gave a command to update packages. In the update, my NVIDIA card was moved to be supported by "nvidia-legacy" rather than "nvidia"... Of course, I didn't have legacy drivers installed, so the driver failed pretty badly (it was assigned to NVIDIA in my xorg conf). X wouldn't load, and because several aspects of X changed in the update, I had to spend a few hours figuring out what when wrong.

The point of the above (possibly out of date) story is that when I say "update", I want a minimal chance that something serious changed. I don't mind fiddling around with Linux, but I want it to be on my terms (like a lazy Sunday). Giving the user a choice between "update" and "upgrade" allows me to specify when I want to apply major changes.

nvidia's binary blobs cause headaches on all distros -

this isn't really a distro/linux issue.

The point is that this should be an "upgrade" change vs. an "update" change.

Rolling releases only have the later concept, meaning that instead of the user acknowledging and preparing for a change, users need to respond to it.

It kind of is, since Linux is the one insisting on being actively hostile drivers that aren't part of the kernel source tree.

Couldn't they do a "freeze" with backports just for the LTS? My experience with non LTS versions were always awful so I don't see why a rolling release model would be that much worse.

Rolling releases break more. If you get to far away from the current version, good luck updating.

Because rolling releases give you a terrible choice between constant upgrades all the time (read: resource and network usage and reboots), and if you don't, a high likelihood of something breaking when you finally do that pacman -Syu.

There's nothing wrong with snapshot releases in a distro focused on usability and stability.

pacman -Syu was always a dangerous ride in the past, but the last two years it hasn't broken anything for me, ever.

I upgrade all packages about once a week.

Once a week is insane.

I have 4 computers and 2 phones. No time for that.

My mother update her distro twice a year, when I come over and think about it.

I have 5 computers (1 notebook, 1 desktop, 3 servers) on Arch, and I update daily. The twist is that I have a cronjob that downloads all the packages in the background, then pings me via XMPP and asks for confirmation to install the updates, and if that succeeds, asks if I want to restart any services or reboot the machine (in case of kernel upgrade). That whole thing takes me about 1 minute per day.

> I have a cronjob that downloads all the packages in the background, then pings me via XMPP

Yeah, you lost me there. Too much customization for me. Which is why I use Ubuntu.

You see the point is not that Arch or Ubuntu is better, but that it really targets very different user bases.

Time for what? Just use automation.

If you read the other comments, you'll note that it's exactly what we are talking about: we install ubuntu because we don't want to do stuff, we want the OS to mostly work out of the box and require the least setup possible.

Isn't your number of computers insane? The right number of computers for most people is exactly one.

My girlfriends has 3 (2 laptops, one tablet) and one phone, and she isn't even a geek.

But let's be real, people installing arch don't have "one computer". Not the ones around me anyway.

I'd like to disprove that statement with myself as a counterexample. One laptop exactly, and also PS3+4 but I don't think that counts as "computer" in this context.

Yes, sometimes it would be nice to have another machine or a monitor around. Or a desk that's not a dining table, even. Oh well! Anyway, Arch works just great for this kind of use case.

A notebook is not a gaming desktop is not a server.

I generally prefer LTS-style releases for machines that I'm setting up for other people who I don't expect to do their own maintenance. That way, I'm less nervous about setting up automatic updates (since an update is less likely to break things). I also generally prefer LTS-style releases for business/enterprise use, since the release schedule is more predictable.

For my own use (or for power users and other tech-savvy folks who I'm reasonably sure will be able to maintain their systems themselves), a rolling release is less worrying.

When I used Arch some years ago, I regularly updated the system, but that meant things broke reguarly. Not updating regularly is not an option. Sure, there was always an easy fix, but that's not the experience most of us are after.

The bigger problem with the rolling release model was that package maintainers would leave packages sit for long periods of time, and then they'd write long, arrogant posts in the forum telling users that it's no big deal to compile your software. That can't happen with a regular release schedule.

Because servers.

For a while I used a distro called Chakra[0] that had a neat semi-rolling release model[1]. It seemed like a nice compromise. The system was stable, but end user apps were up to date.

[0] - https://www.chakralinux.org [1] - https://wiki.chakralinux.org/index.php?title=Half-Rolling_Re...

> Arch, though admittedly the installation process is much more elaborate than of Ubuntu

If you want easier-to-install-Arch and a bit more cautious/safer rolling release cycles, take a look at Manjaro.

With antergos you can use nice graphic installer to install arch.

Same with Manjaro. I've been happily using the i3 distribution for like 6 months now. And I only have minor complains.

It should be noted that i3wm installs and runs easily on distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora too - which is how I was introduced to it (after liking the tiling aspects from Unity, but not the graphics card/RAM hit that came with it).

The i3 edition of Manjaro is heavily customised and almost an entirely different beast (i3-gaps etc).

This is the piece that swung me: https://adereth.github.io/blog/2013/10/02/why-you-should-try...

It mentions notion so I tried that for about 2 days before taking up a comment's suggestion to try i3.

Edit: I don't think there's an official guide for actually installing i3, but the official fedora blog has a good one. Searching for "install i3wm ubuntu" (or arch) would likely also show some good default setups.

>though admittedly the installation process is much more elaborate than of Ubuntu

The only thing that's more difficult about the Arch install is that you have to be able to follow written instructions...

... and have a couple spare weeks if you're inexperienced with Arch and don't have an intimate knowledge of the entire Linux user space stack. Sure, if you're experienced with Arch it might appear to be just some written instructions; otherwise, it's more like 1,000 page text book on Linux.

For the record, Arch Linux has to have the best, thorough documentation I've ever read.

I personally prefer Slackware's as far as "official" or "semi-official" documentation goes, but I refer to the Arch wiki pretty frequently even though I haven't used Arch at all in the last 5 years.

OpenBSD's manpages are also remarkably comprehensive, and they're available without an Internet connection. Pretty fantastic if you're using OpenBSD for your gateway and fucked up your PF configuration :)

I'm an Arch user, and I absolutely disagree. Installing Ubuntu requires no knowledge of how a terminal works, what hard disks are and why they are partitioned, how DHCP works, etc. etc.

Still no option to disable mouse acceleration? Come on! Default Gnome has had an option for it for multiple years already.

Ubuntu uses Gnome now. This option exists in the Tweaks app.

I'm aware that Ubuntu uses Gnome now. But it's especially annoying now, that I know Gnome has got functionality for it, but they didn't bother to add an option for it in the settings for normal users.

That's Gnome's design decision.

I don't understand the comparison between Ubuntu and Gnome when Ubuntu is simply inheriting Gnome's design decision.

This is how a review is done. Thorough and covers the details that matters for a distro review.

Although I could experience the advantages it's offering over 16.04, I tried it yesterday and it's incredibly slow. Like 5-seconds-to-activate-focus-on-any-window slow.

Has anyone had similar issue? The last time I experienced something laggy like this was with crappy hardware.

It doesn't happen on RHEL 7.5 (with GNOME Classic), Fedora (with GNOME), Ubuntu 16.04 (with Unity). I have a beefy computer (HP Z600, 2x Xeon, 48GB RAM ECC), so I'm pretty sure it's not a hardware issue. Windows 10 also runs fine.

Has anyone found a good solution for non-integer screen scaling? I use Ubuntu on all of my computers, but they have modern, hi-res screens, and the default scaling is too small. The only options are integer multiples (which is too big), or scaling the font size (which leaves window navigation, icons, etc too small).

Set the dpi? A caveat, I'm not sure if setting different dpi across multiple monitors really work.


See also:


(i currently have two HD monitors, and/or stand alone laptop monitors, so same scaling for multiple screens isn't really an issue).

Please reply if this (doesn't) help.

I had switched to Wayland and it (sort of) supports fractional scaling system wide. It did work, its just some things end up being blurry (fonts are blurry) and that was too much for me. My temp workaround is using font scale at 1.4. Its good enough but I miss not having to worry about it with Wayland, especially with multiple monitors that have different resolutions. Some day Wayland support will be better, but I don't see it anytime soon.

The blurriness seems to be a bug with Xwayland: it runs the apps at @1 scale and scales them UP to the required fractional size. It should run them at the @2 scale and scale them DOWN, to preserve the sharpness.

Meanwhile, the best way to achieve fractional scale is to run X11, use the nearest highest integer scale and scale it down using "xrandr --scale 1.somethingx1.something". Not very user friendly, though.

> Meanwhile, the best way to achieve fractional scale is to run X11, use the nearest highest integer scale and scale it down using "xrandr --scale 1.somethingx1.something". Not very user friendly, though.

KDE's Kwin on X11 supports fractionally scaling displays, and is user friendly. Go to Displays -> Scale Display

Not correctly, though.

When talking about fractional scaling in Gnome, it is meant for all apps, not just GTK apps. Most apps do respect Xft.dpi, so they will scale their fonts, as the desktop environment sets it up, but not the other assets. Scaling all the other assets is the issue, not just the font rendering.

So yes, Qt apps in KDE do work correctly, (KDE is seting their QT_*_SCALE env variables). It does not work with GTK apps. Similarly, GTK apps do work correctly with fractional scaling in Gnome, but Qt apps do not, because Gnome doesn't set QT_AUTO_SCREEN_SCALE=0 and QT_SCREEN_SCALE_FACTORS like KDE does. Qt apps in Gnome look broken exactly like GTK apps look broken in KDE.

Proper fractional scaling means scaling all apps, not just apps made using single framework.

KDE supports non-integer screen scaling since I first needed. Three years ago to now, on the laptop I'm typing on (X250), my display scale hasn't changed from 1.2x, and my font dpi hasn't changed from 120. Never had any scaling issues.

One thing I discovered about the lock screen that's mentioned as a problem here is that you can just type your password and enter to login after a suspend and it will work.... No need to swipe or whatever.

The technical audience who actually use Linux desktops want more customization not less, and the crowd that Ubuntu seems to be chasing doesn't seem to actually exist?

Hmm this doesn't make me want to leave xubuntu any time soon, although I too have noticed the recent xfce issues mentioned in the article.

As a member of the technical audience who actually uses Linux (Ubuntu), I want almost no customization. I want sane and tested defaults, not a bunch of knobs to adjust things.

I mourn the loss of the Unity Desktop which was virtually perfect OOTB. It had a great management of the screen space, especially on laptops, it was pretty, and it worked. I wouldn't even change the desktop background.

I want my desktop to just work. Actual window manager should have multi desktops, keyboard shortcuts, focus follow mouse etc, and on a laptop an icon to select wifi hotspot, and an icon for volume.

That's what Ubuntu gives me, that's why I've used it since replacing Debian testing in 2006.

3,500 servers on 6 contents can't be wrong either, with all our software distributed as debs, it just works.

I also want less customisation. I don't change configuration of my software unless I can possibly help it - waste of time. I don't even change my desktop wallpaper. So there are people like us - possibly a lot.

As a software engineer, I don't want to tweak my OS. I want a terminal / IDE and.. well that's pretty much it. As long as getting my tools to work is easy I don't care for the tweaking

You can give a chance to Slax: http://www.slax.org/

Hold me back. The installer is over http.

The problem with sane defaults is that everyone seems to have their own idea what the default should be.

First, This is only a problem if you have very diverse needs and most users' needs aren't.

We need to run a browser, a terminal, a file manager, maybe some media apps, and a text editor if you don't do that in the terminal. This is not like a vim config of an industry veteran, it shouldn't require tweaking from the OS. Just get out of the way.

I can tweak the number of workspaces or the colours temperature for day and night. These are matters of personal preferences. But the way to launch apps, connect to wifi, or display a clock should just be ergonomic.

Second, tweaks don't solve this problem.

There's a handful of talented tweakers and power users. They will use Sway or whatever anyway. Everyone else when confronted with lots of knobs ends up with something worse than a competent designer could have provided by default.

To me, sanity is not conforming to old idiosyncrasies. I have had multiple people yell at me in person when I bring up clipboard. This is probably the single most embarrasing thing I have ever seen in Unix or Unix-like systems. We can't even get copy pasting right.

Sane defaults mean a single clipboard. If I copy something, it replaces the contents of the single clipboard. If you want to keep track of all the old things you copied, that's fine but all the ways of pasting should always paste the last thing you copied. If we can't agree on something simple as this, we can't agree on defaults (and should give up on computing).

That's not true. People want an "intuitive" UI, meaning familiar. While there are some outliers, most people find Windows and OS X UI conventions familiar. Sticking to these conventions as "sane defaults" pleases most users.

You can always install packages if you got exotic needs. But Ubuntu being the most popular desktop distro, I'd say they managed to find a popular mix.

Second this — I like Compiz but the ccsm & gnome-tweak-tools tandem/overlapping configuration is a nightmare. Preferences must be imported/exported via GUI and they (frequently!) import improperly. Ccsm itself is a maze of dialogs, icons, and navbars that I dread to use.

My customized GUI really needs to be consistent across my machines, and Unity makes this impossible to guarantee and automate. Just give me an .rc file, text-based configuration is my favorite part of Linux.

"Sane and tested defaults with no customization" is not realistic, because the expectations and use cases are different for every user.

It's also particularly dangerous, since it leads to the "my way or the highway" GNOME mindset, which, in the extreme cases, entirely removes features without the option to enable them back, because... customization is bad.

I really liked unity as it was always stayed out of the way, doing just what you asked, nothing less, nothing more.

Totally agree with you about not wanting a bunch of knobs to tweak things. It’s just too much time wasted to deal with when you are just wanting a desktop that works.

It's very disheartening to me that these are seen as exclusive options. I use Ubuntu because I want the "it just works" part that comes from being a very popular and commonly used distro, but I also need the customization, because I want my mouse and keyboard to do the things that I need to do, not what made sense to someone else. You mention that you enjoyed Unity, which I also do, but my Unity is heavily customized through CCSM. It seems based on your comment that this high level of customization did not detract from your ability to enjoy Unity, so why do you ask for no customization?

When we ask for customization, we're not saying that the default setup can't be usable, or that hours of tweaking should be required before getting started. We're saying that when there is a feature that doesn't behave as desired, we would like the option to modify it. "It works this way and that's final" is already well served by other operating systems, why do you feel Ubuntu should copy this?

Seconded I just want to install and get work done. I don’t even change the wallpaper. I use xubuntu, not ubuntu though.

And the integration with Amazon was underrated. It’s nice to search your files and always see some great product promotions without having to adjust knobs as you aptly put it.

I guess that's nice if you like it. I find that appalling, stupid and distracting ("Why, I was just searching my notes for details of a meeting from last year because the details suddenly became really important, but now that you mention it, now is the right time to consider dress shoes!").

Ads in the OS are awful. If this has to exist, it needs to be off by default with clear, easy-to-find knobs for removing the spyware. Of course, like everything advertising-related, the incentives are to do the opposite.

In this case I personally find it in consequential for myself; I know what I'm doing and can easily remove Ubuntu's garbage. But it is an ugly trend and reduces my trust in their judgement.

I doubt the parent was being serious.

I love Gnome for precisely the same reason you like Unity.

The problem is that the sane and tested defaults that I want are probably very different from the ones you want. That's why customization is important.

I totally agree.

XFCE is slowly dying, and I think the issues are a symptom of this.

The file manager, for a very long time, had a reproducible issue (>20% of the time) where moving a file would cause a crash; based on the Ubuntu bug tracker, took an year and half to fix, and it was (appropriately) marked as critical.

It's clearly lacks development resources (and I also personally question the development quality).

I still use XUbuntu, but I think the future for low-resource machines will be LUbuntu (lowest power) and MATE (low power). MATE is also well funded, well organized, and very configurable.

I absolutely love MATE, even for high power machines.

The Gnome file manager (Nautilus) works just fine with the Xfce desktop as well. I use the Xubuntu desktop, but I use the Gnome apps instead of the Xfce apps.

It does, but it's a hack, as there are integration problems. Thunar is still tightly integrated with the desktop, so if one uses an alternative file manager, operation like copying from the desktop and pasting into the (alternative) file manager won't have any effect.

Vast majority of people, technical or not, do not want to sit there and fiddle with their OS. They want it to just work, and have a consistent experience, from one release to the next, so they can get work done, or view pictures of their grand kids. The number of people who want more than that is a statistical rounding error. HN and other forums like it, have such a huge echo chamber, that they lose site of reality.

"Vast majority of people" want it _their_ way. And this is where enterprise-y software fail really hard. They think that making software as dumb as possible they will please the dumb.

In the real world it doesn't work like that. Dumb users don't know how to tweak things but they know that they can ask other people to help them.

Wrong. The vast majority of people do not want to think about it. They want it to work with minimal effort. Period. Saying otherwise is shortsighted.

Yesterday, I finished converting a bike shop to Ubuntu Linux only.

They are ridiculously happy because: - device drivers actually work - they don't have to worry anymore about viruses - they can use old machines without trouble

So yeah, zero customization - but a way better experience than Windows.

So, your crowd not only exists, but got me a new bicycle!

Funny, device drivers are the precise reason I switched to Windows 10.

Unfortunately in the music production world, Windows or OSX are the only options if you want to customize your hardware (sequencers, synthesizers, etc) or import patches/presets. I think this is largely because no major DAW has Linux support.

So thank you, Bitwig Studio https://www.bitwig.com/

Bitwig Studio is great for the Linux audio world but the real problem is plug-in compatibility on Linux.

In general, if you want AMD or Nvidia graphics drivers then Windows is easier. If you want anything else (including Intel graphics drivers) then Linux is easier.

Like Intel graphics, AMD graphics now work with Free drivers. The kernel just needs to be new enough to contain new-enough version of the driver, so in the case of Ubuntu 16.04, it was necessary to use the "hwe" package variants.

I always find it funny how hardware manufacturers most of the time ship a bunch of drivers with their components. Windows drivers for wireless cards, motherboards, graphics cards, etc. Never needed any of those for Linux (The open source AMDGPU driver is good enough).

To be fair, I don't recall the last time I needed them with Windows, either. I think the CDs are for old versions of Windows, running on old machines that still have a CD drive.

That's awesome. Was that a barter deal? Fix-our-computers-get-a-bike?

At first, it wasn't.

Buuut so many great bikes (and I ride to work every single day) and it was hard to accept the money.

I joke to people telling I am an addicted doing work for the drug dealer - of course I would receive in drugs, not money!

"they don't have to worry anymore about viruses " lol!

A Local Bike Shop without any huge internet operation? They aren't exactly the target for most high-profile linux rootkits.

Nope, I want a thing that Just Works.

These days I use Kubuntu, but literally the only configuration thing I change is the desktop wallpaper. Everything else works how I want it out of the box.

I wouldn't even know how to diagnose shit anymore, and I grew up on Slackware. I had time to customize stuff when I was a kid, now it's time to work.

> I had time to customize stuff when I was a kid, now it's time to work.

That's me exactly. I used to love tweaking Enlightenment(?) into a Hollywood-worthy environment.

These days if I tweak something, it's probably to select a larger font because my eyesight isn't what it used to be.

I'm part of the technical crowd you talk about and I specifically choose ubuntu because I don't want to tweak my distro too much. I want free software that is good enough out of the box.

Also my mother uses ubuntu, and she doesn't customize anything.

You see, the linux user base is more diverse than the way you describe it.

My wife mentors a young single mother who is working to finish her GED. Her GED program provided her with a laptop: an old Thinkpad T430 running Ubuntu. She would have been just as well-served with a Chromebook, but I'm sure the Thinkpad was cheaper (perhaps free) for the organization.

I find XFCE/Xubuntu to be better too. Unfortunately, that project does not release often and is having trouble keeping up with the new world. In particular, it's not very good at high dpi monitors, and getting it configured for that was such a problem that I ended up abandoning it.

And it has to keep up with Gnome/GTK too. I heard it's not easy.

There's apparently been some improvements to HiDPI in this release for Xubuntu, which is giving me hope it works better now.


For future travelers, this is how you fix Xubuntu for HiDPI: https://askubuntu.com/questions/652021/adapt-font-and-icon-s...

I have a desktop. The first thing I test after installation of Ubuntu is the remote access using ssh, then the wakeonlan, then the remote access using vnc (already painful with 16.04), then the sharing of hard disk directories. Finally, I test the playback of BD and CD.

I do not need much customization: ensure that the alt key is not blocked and works fine with photoshop. On the desktop, I will probably only remove the dock on the left.

Switch your remote access to x2go, you'll thank me.

What's the benefit? The best I previously found was nomachine since it has clients for everything. But it's still so laggy over a remote connection, maybe I'm doing something wrong.

I was using freeNX, x2go is better. Nomachine is a paid product, it's head and shoulders better then VNC. You didn't experience that? The newer (non OSS) version supports UDP streams for media. It's free to use, but I've not tested it since it limits the number of users and I can stream ok with X2go.

I use the single-user free version of NoMachine (which I thought was also closed source). I agree it's better than VNC but that's not hard. I'm not trying to play media, just type etc. What I want is something as good as Windows Remote Desktop where you almost can't tell you are remote - I would happily pay for that.

Two pages to monitor if you want to jump on 18.04 as soon as possible:



(No affiliation beyond being a user for about 4 years.)

If you want to jump/upgrade, simply add

deb [arch=amd64,i386] http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic main restricted universe multiverse

deb [arch=amd64,i386] http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates main restricted universe multiverse

deb [arch=amd64,i386] http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-security main restricted universe multiverse

deb [arch=amd64,i386] http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security main restricted universe multiverse

to /etc/apt/sources.list

hit apt update && apt full-upgrade

If things look okay (it should upgrade a bunch of packages, add quite a lot new, and remove only a handful), hit enter.

There's a setting in gnome tweak tool to have workspaces affect both monitors instead of the default, which is just the primary monitor.

I think this setting should be flipped by default, so that workspaces affect all monitors, at least in the mode where the 2nd (3rd, etc.) monitor extends your main desktop.

In 2-screen presentation mode, it makes sense that the 2nd screen doesn't change when you change workspace, because you're presenting something there.


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