[buug] (forw) List owner needed for callug_discuss at lists.berkeley.edu

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Apr 20 10:01:38 PDT 2011

My friend Grant wrote:

> No other distribution has been as successful reaching out to
> "simple end users" as the Ubuntu community project.

Aren't you forgetting TiVos?  ;->

Just because I have a seriously evil sense of humour, and in hopes of 
giving bored BUUG members something else to talk about, here's some
gasoline for that fire.  (Disagreement is expected and cheerfully
invited.  Despite this being California and even -- gasp! -- Berkeley,
it is _not_ in fact obligatory that everyone hold identical opinions.)

And if people would prefer IT-press bait to chew on, instead, here:

 Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 09:19:03 -0700
 From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
 To: skeptic at lists.johnshopkins.edu
 Subject: Re: Ubuntu 11.04 with Gnome 3
 Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
 X-Mas: Bah humbug.
 User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

Quoting Dean A. Batha (dean at deanbatha.com):

> Yesterday, on a whim, I downloaded the Beta of the upcoming Ubuntu
> 11.04 and installed it. So far, it's stable and fast. It's a radical
> departure from the traditional "desktop" GUI model. It looks more like
> a giant Android tablet -- large icons and no menus. Ok, applications
> still have menus, but they're hidden. You reveal the menus by mousing
> over the title bar. It creates a very clean looking environment, but
> it took me a while to figure out what they were trying to do.

Personally, I'd stay away from upcoming Ubuntu.  I have extremely little
faith in their recent direction in several areas, including the 'Unity'
desktop environment.  In a nutshell:  They've not only fallen under the
spell of the GNOME/freedesktop.org recipe of 'Do everything possible to
deprive the user of capabilities and configuration options, which will
only confuse the poor dears, and we know what's best for them', but have
started to outpace them in that department.

On the other hand, anyone whose idea of a proper computing environment
is an extremely simplified, minimal options, graphical appliance may
love it -- and who am I to judge?  Except, the stuff's probably buggy as
hell, for now.

(Ubuntistas would dismiss me as a Unix reactionary, which is probably a
fair cop.)

> Hardware set-up on my laptop was about as simple as possible.

In a sense, they borrowed from my team's 1999 work on the Linuxcare
Bootable Business Card, whose hardware autodetection in turn directly
inspired Klaus Knopper's 'Knoppix' live CD, which lead directly to the
current crop of what we facetiously call 'forehead installers' (OS
installation routines where you basically need only hit the spacebar
with your forehead until it terminates).  

Most likely problem area for hardware support is WiFi chipsets featuring
the usual swear words (Broadcom, Marvell).  Sometimes also low-end
aDSL adapters, some others.  Broadcom and Marvell refuse to allow anyone
else to redistribute their 'firmware' BLOB files to initialise the
chips.  Linux distros have workarounds using 'fwcutter' (firmware
cutter -- exact name differs) utilities that autodownload the MS-Windows
driver .exe or .zip or whatever archive, extract the firmware BLOB, and
dunk it into /lib/firmware/ where the kernel can thenceforth use it.  If
you're lucky, the OS installer might have run the fwcutter utility
automagically.  If not, it's there and a little Web-searching tells you
its name.

The hardware companies could solve this problem with a single sheet of
corporate stationary and a first-class postage stamp, but they just
don't care.

More information about the buug mailing list