JorgeA

Windows 8 - Deeper Impressions

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MagicAndre,

How customizable is the Ubuntu look? Let's say,

  1. Can I make it have a taskbar at the bottom, where it will show me the various windows I have open, like the Windows taskbar?
  2. Can I combine such a taskbar with that black strip across the top that shows the volume control and the time, and place it at the bottom of the screen?
  3. And, can I get rid of that column of icons on the left, and use something like a start menu? I don't necessarily want to see all of these choices diaplyed all of the time.

(If this sounds to you like I would like to replicate the classic (Metro-free) Windows experience, but in Linux -- you are correct. :yes: )

Your answers could have a major influence on my computing for years to come! ;)

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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if you want the old Windows way (taskbar, Startmneu) try Cinnamon

Linux_Mint_12_Cinnamon_1.4_Screenshot.png

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon_%28user_interface%29

http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/

This will be part of next Linux Mint

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_Mint

If you really want a copy of Windows 7 UI try ZorinOS:

desktop.png

http://zorin-os.com/free.html

But they still use Ubuntu 11.04 a base. It will take some time until they release a new version which is based on 12.04.

http://zoringroup.com/blog/2012/03/22/more-news-about-zorin-os-6/

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Yet another incredibly stupid move by MS. Not only Visual Studio 11 doesn't compile for XP which still has a market share over 50% and that the interface is a step backwards (I wouldn't even want of it as a free update!), but they're severely crippling their free "Express edition" (free) IDEs. They won't compile traditional desktop or command line applications anymore. Visual C++ Express which was already far too limited (no MFC? ouch) ceases to exist altogether. You want to create desktop/command line/WPF or silverlight apps in C# or VB? Then you have to buy the $500 Pro edition now for the same amount of basic functionality that was free in VS2010. The only thing the new versions (all two of them) do now is web development (express for web) and Metro (express for Metro Windows). That's it. They might as well have killed the entire "express" product line as far as I'm concerned because they all became completely worthless.

MS just gave the finger (a GIGANTIC finger) to all hobbyist and open source developers. You used to make good quality software in C# (or VB)? Well, you're now a dinky phone app developer! They're also sending a strong message to the rest that desktop development is very much being pushed aside, and that Windows is quickly turning into a dumbed down smartphone-like appliance. The end result will be that people will move to other development tools and platforms. The useful editions of Visual Studio now cost between $499 for the Pro edition to $13299 for the Ultimate edition (which again supports less C++11 features than open source GCC does). Meanwhile, Apple's Xcode is $5 for the one and only edition (call it ultimate if you want), unless you're already registered as a developer in which case it's free.

Does Microsoft really want to push everyone towards Apple? First, you make your desktop suck beyond belief (Metro). Then you kill your free development tools, and force people to pay hundreds or thousands times more for developer tools than what Apple does. And Xcode at $5 actually lets you develop mobile devices that actually sell too: 172M iOS devices sold last year alone, over 300M total. GCC, Clang, and TONS of other tools, compilers and IDEs for most languages being free doesn't help their cause either.

It's as if Microsoft has a death wish.

Your answers could have a major influence on my computing for years to come! ;)

It really boils down to what do you want or need to run on your computer.

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if you want the old Windows way (taskbar, Startmneu) try Cinnamon

[...]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon_%28user_interface%29

http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/

This will be part of next Linux Mint

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_Mint

If you really want a copy of Windows 7 UI try ZorinOS:

[...]

http://zorin-os.com/free.html

But they still use Ubuntu 11.04 a base. It will take some time until they release a new version which is based on 12.04.

http://zoringroup.com/blog/2012/03/22/more-news-about-zorin-os-6/

Thanks for the links and the screenshots, Andre. Cinnamon looks very attractive.

Zorin OS was my first choice for a Windows alternative, but I had trouble registering for their forum, as the e-mails that they sent (I tried it three times) promised to send an activation link in the future, but it never came. If that's any indication of the level of support that that OS enjoys, it makes me wonder if I should go that route. I finally managed to get the membership activation link by registering via my laptop. :huh:

It's good to know that Linux Mint with Cinnamon offers a start menu and a desktop visual layout comparable to what we know in Windows. I will look into that one, too.

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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It's as if Microsoft has a death wish.

CoffeeFiend,

This is unbelievable! I mean -- I believe you, but I can't believe what they're doing.

There MUST be some plausible explanation for all this.

Most disturbing is how they seem to be pushing desktop software development to the back of the bus, if not all the way off it. That makes for a strong rebuke to Win8 apologists who say we have nothing to complain about since there's still a desktop. If the trend continues, there may not BE a desktop in Windows 9 or 10.

Windows is quickly turning into a dumbed down smartphone-like appliance.

Apropos of what you said, check this out. It's a good listen.

Your answers could have a major influence on my computing for years to come! ;)

It really boils down to what do you want or need to run on your computer.

Hmm <thinking>... I dunno, I guess that, as a user, there isn't much that I don't do. I'm not a developer, so I don't need programming tools, but I do use office applications (word processing, PDF editing and creation, spreadsheets), system utilities, players, and media converters. I do like the fact that in the DOS/Windows universe I can simply download a little utility from any given website -- I'm not very familiar with how the Linux world works in this respect, but it makes me leery to see that they have "repositories" for these sorts of things. It makes me wonder if those are the only places where I can find Linux programs, instead of being able to go to a given website and download directly from them. OTOH, if it is possible to just download stuff in Linux, then it makes me wonder what the purpose of a "repository" is.

Enlightenment is welcome!

--JorgeA

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There MUST be some plausible explanation for all this.

Being really desperate to sell tablets (their next failure).

Apropos of what you said, check this out. It's a good listen.

Will do :)

I do use office applications (word processing, PDF editing and creation, spreadsheets)

If you don't mind OOo (not as "fully featured" as MS Office) then that might work for you. Linux has nothing that comes close to Acrobat for design or CAD purposes (advanced use of PDFs), but for most people that just need to view something it might be alright.

system utilities

What you need for that depends very much on which OS you're using.

players, and media converters

It has lots of players but its most popular player still seems to be VLC (I much, MUCH prefer MPC HC but that's not an option on Linux). As for media converter you got options again (but no avisynth, MeGUI, Adobe Media Encoder, etc so not really for me)

they have "repositories" for these sorts of things

Yes, that's the main way to install software.

It makes me wonder if those are the only places where I can find Linux programs, instead of being able to go to a given website and download directly from them. OTOH, if it is possible to just download stuff in Linux, then it makes me wonder what the purpose of a "repository" is

Repositories have pretty much everything available (assuming you enabled restricted/universe/multiverse) and it will keep everything you installed this way updated as well. Yes, you can download apps in other ways, like rpm or deb files, or downloading source code tarballs (which you tar -zxf, ./configure, make, make install -- once you have the necessary packages installed to compile/build). The main issue typically isn't how it's installed, it's what is (or rather isn't) available.

Linux is an option for some, but it's just too hostile towards commercial software (and as such doesn't run most of what I use and need -- and most likely never will) and has just about no native games either which is a big point for many (hardware support isn't exactly stellar either). Also, a large part of people who buy macs buy it because it's a unix-like environment (much like Linux), but with a usable and polished GUI, but where the hardware just works (reliably, even after updates), which also has commercial software as an option (like MS Office, Photoshop, AutoCAD, Final Cut, etc) and which comes with some of the best hardware you can buy. That's why I'd much prefer that option, even if Macs are quite expensive.

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Repositories have pretty much everything available (assuming you enabled restricted/universe/multiverse) and it will keep everything you installed this way updated as well. Yes, you can download apps in other ways, like rpm or deb files, or downloading source code tarballs (which you tar -zxf, ./configure, make, make install -- once you have the necessary packages installed to compile/build). The main issue typically isn't how it's installed, it's what is (or rather isn't) available.

IMHO "repositories" are the "evil" part of the Linux world.

An only seemingly unrelated report ;) (for the fun of it):

http://reboot.pro/15207/

jaclaz

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CoffeeFiend,

Thanks for the rundown on various aspects of using Linux. I'm itching to try it out and see how well it suits my purposes; you gave me a good idea of what to expect.

One thing I'd never heard of:

Repositories have pretty much everything available (assuming you enabled restricted/universe/multiverse) and it will keep everything you installed this way updated as well.

What was that part about restricted/universe/multiverse?

--JorgeA

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Another glowing (not!) reaction to Windows 8, this time from Katherine Stevenson, editor-in-chief of Maximum PC (June 2012):

This month I've been playing around with Windows 8 -- actually, playing is too lighthearted and fun a word for the experience. I've been clumsily stumbling around the OS, trying to figure out how to perform basic functions that I've taken for granted in previous Windows versions. Like closing a freakin' app once I'm done with it in the Metro UI! It doesn't take very long before I go running back into the warm, familiar arms of Windows 7.

--JorgeA

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IMHO "repositories" are the "evil" part of the Linux world

I don't really get your point, perhaps you should elaborate a bit. I see tons of things wrong with that distribution model but I don't see why you'd call it evil.

There's a gigantic loss of time wasted by maintaining dozens of not hundreds of repositories with essentially all the same software in them, the gigantic amount of work required to push software updates "upstream" in all of them (often met with resistance and long delays), competing formats (e.g. deb and rpm) and "installers" that add very little (other than making distros work differently from one to another and wasting boatloads more time by repackaging the same apps over and over again), some repositories containing mature (several years old versions) while others contain loads of broken stuff (forget about testing or quality control), their organization isn't stellar, the content itself (the software) is lacking just about everything I'd want to use (making it a near useless OS for me), etc. So many things wrong, but evil? I don't get it.

you gave me a good idea of what to expect

I wouldn't say so. If you asked me to describe how it works (generally speaking) I'd give you a whole 'nother story (more like a long-winded rant, really).

What was that part about restricted/universe/multiverse?

I'm assuming you're using Ubuntu or one of its derivatives (dozens of them). This is what Ubuntu's site says about the matter:

The repository components are:

Main - Officially supported software.

Restricted - Supported software that is not available under a completely free license.

Universe - Community maintained software, i.e. not officially supported software.

Multiverse - Software that is not free.

Another glowing (not!) reaction to Windows 8, this time from Katherine Stevenson, editor-in-chief of Maximum PC (June 2012)

Yes, even journalists and editors at major magazines and websites seem to dislike it. There's TONS of negative feedback about Win8 at every level and most of it is negative. You'd have to be blind not to notice. It's like MS is going full speed ahead right into an iceberg. Everybody sees it but they won't budge. The outcome is obvious to everyone, including PC manufacturers.

Edit: there are good comments on that article too:

Forcing this Metro interface down it's consumers throats. This is going to end up as the OS nobody wanted, it's going to be the same as what happened with Vista. [...] Businesses, gamers, older users, and those that have no interest in touchscreens will avoid this like the plague that it is.

Edit2: MS caught lying with statistics about their market share (If you actually believed that, I've got a bridge to sell you): Slow Uptake of Windows 8 Preview Hints at Users' Lack of Interest. I for one, unless there are major changes (namely making Metro optional), won't even bother downloading the release preview.

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CoffeeFiend,

Thanks for filling me in on Linux repositories. I'm not thrilled about it, but given the huge variety of distros, I guess I can see the point of each one having its own set of programs that have some chance of working on it. :} Otherwise it'd be like a needle in a haystack to find versions that work on your particular Linux distribution.

you gave me a good idea of what to expect

I wouldn't say so. If you asked me to describe how it works (generally speaking) I'd give you a whole 'nother story (more like a long-winded rant, really).

I definitely would like to know that 'nother story (what it's like to work in Linux). Maybe we can move this part of the discussion to the "Other Operating Systems" subforum.

Yes, even journalists and editors at major magazines and websites seem to dislike it. There's TONS of negative feedback about Win8 at every level and most of it is negative. You'd have to be blind not to notice. It's like MS is going full speed ahead right into an iceberg. Everybody sees it but they won't budge. The outcome is obvious to everyone, including PC manufacturers.

Edit: there are good comments on that article too:

Forcing this Metro interface down it's consumers throats. This is going to end up as the OS nobody wanted, it's going to be the same as what happened with Vista. [...] Businesses, gamers, older users, and those that have no interest in touchscreens will avoid this like the plague that it is.

Edit2: MS caught lying with statistics about their market share (If you actually believed that, I've got a bridge to sell you): Slow Uptake of Windows 8 Preview Hints at Users' Lack of Interest. I for one, unless there are major changes (namely making Metro optional), won't even bother downloading the release preview.

Both good reads. Regarding the push to get Windows 8 on tablets, we (or MS) tend to forget that Microsoft isn't Apple -- that is, they don't enjoy a cult-like following of folks who seem to be happy to line up at stores overnight to pay an arm and a leg for underpowered, underfeatured devices with little screens. (I've tried iPads at two different friends' houses, and each time I've been underwhelmed: "THIS is what all the buzz is about??") Apple commands the inscrutably faithful, whereas Microsoft has always sold to a more, umm, hardnosed audience.

--JorgeA

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I definitely would like to know that 'nother story (what it's like to work in Linux)

IMHO, it's trying to make do without pretty much all the best tools. Outside of a web browser, torrent client, VLC and perhaps OOo (which is at best a partial replacement for MS Office) there's very little stuff I'd ever use. And there's basically no direct replacement for just about everything I use (essentially making the computer useless). Trying to get apps and games (if you ever want to play any) using WINE or VMs isn't my definition of fun, neither is wasting countless hours to get hardware to work (only to see an update break something else) and so on. I tired of wasting time on a desktop OS (yes, I've tried way too many distros) that gave me more problems than the number of useful applications it runs. Also, lots of Linux distros are moving to something very similar to Metro, with Unity and GNOME 3. Honestly, if it was as good as some people make it seem, do you think it would still have a 1% market share after 20 years of trying to give it away?

underpowered, underfeatured devices with little screens

It has the fastest CPU/GPU of every ARM-based tablet out there (faster than both the quad core Tegra 3 or Snapdragon S4), it's responsive, the OS and most apps are well designed (good usability and meant for touch usage), it has tons of apps, the current version is far more featured than any other tablet on the market, good battery life (not just on paper), good build quality, etc. They are definitely pricey but sadly you still won't find a better tablet at the same price point.

Also: an update on the previous market share numbers. As of May 1st, Win8 has a 0.12% market share, a huge increase of 0.01% in one month! This makes the Consumer Preview 62 days old, and the Developer Preview (first released version) 231 days old. By that time the first Win7 beta (released Jan 9th 2009) was 2 months old, it was at 0.26%, and by the time it was 7.5 months old or so (first beta, like the DP is today -- so Sept 1st 2009 stats) it had 1.53% (about twelve times as much users). Either ways, it's not looking good for Win8.

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I don't really get your point, perhaps you should elaborate a bit. I see tons of things wrong with that distribution model but I don't see why you'd call it evil.

It was intended just as a provocation.

Of course there is nothing really "evil" :), it is simply foolish the way some (read most if not all) programs are distributed (in the Linux world as well as in the MS one).

There's a gigantic loss of time wasted by maintaining dozens of not hundreds of repositories with essentially all the same software in them, the gigantic amount of work required to push software updates "upstream" in all of them (often met with resistance and long delays), competing formats (e.g. deb and rpm) and "installers" that add very little (other than making distros work differently from one to another and wasting boatloads more time by repackaging the same apps over and over again), some repositories containing mature (several years old versions) while others contain loads of broken stuff (forget about testing or quality control), their organization isn't stellar, the content itself (the software) is lacking just about everything I'd want to use (making it a near useless OS for me), etc. So many things wrong, but evil? I don't get it.

You hit the nail right on the head. :thumbsup:

If you check the thread I linked to you will see how I documented an adventure of mine looking for a specific tiny app (and it's source code and a way to re-compile it easily).

In French a computer is called "ordinateur" something that could be translated into "organizer", and as a matter of fact a very big part of the computing activities are about using one form or another of database (be it a filesystem, a search engine, an Excel spreadsheet or your collection of MP3's).

So it would be expected that the two major players in the field (the "private" MS guys and the "public" Linux guys) would compete in having their things "organized" and easily accessible this is not the case for either, of course for very different reasons, but if someone for another planet would peek on the Earth Internet and check the way things are organized he/she would postpone "first contact" to at least year 2500 as our information technology (actually the way it is filled with redundant data all messed up) shows how retarded we are.

As I see it the great advantage (theoretical) of Linux over MS thingies is freedom to have a system exactly the way you want it, so the key would be (IMHO) to be "highly" modular (think of a form of LEGO with very tiny bricks) easily assemblable together, what we have in reality is a number of huge pieces of bloat (the so called "main" distros) very difficult to "componentize", often using an outdated (or custom updated) version of a given app, that you cannnot easily replace with another one.

Then you have the "direct derivatives" basically you take a "main" distribution, you remove something, you add something else, you change it's name and voilà, here is a brand new (senseless) distro, which has more or less the same functionalities of the "main" one but soon will become (or already is) partially or totally incompatible with the "original".

Now, it is good to have choices, but so many of them?

IMHO they only "make noise", and everytime I think of the hours of work the good guys put into doing something substantially unuseful and the amount of "duplicate bytes" that are senselessly moved over the internet

Look at the (partial) list of derivatives from Ubuntu:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DerivativeTeam/Derivatives

How many can you count on that page?

Are we really sure that each one of them makes sense/has any advantage over the "main" one/will be there tomorrow?

Then you have a number of "minor" distributions, mainly of two kinds:

  1. the highly specialized ones (i.e. targeted at a given scope and with no provisions for *anything* else but the intended scope)
  2. the "fluff" ones (that some kid ripped from a "main" distro, only changing some details of the interface/looks, ususally very poorly mantained, outdated, sometimes "vanishing" abruptly from the internet, normally not updatable from the corresponding "main" distro as some senseless forks were introduced)

Whilst the first ones may have some merits, I really cannot see why they cannot be organized as "add" or "subtract" packs from a same "main" distro.

The result is that anyone approaching Linux will download a few tens of distro's, will get confused among them and will in the end choose to have more than 5 or 6 distro's, with - say - 90% of files duplicated (because each distro has a single or a few thingies he likes or has learned to use well) and will never learn to put together a single customized system that suits his/her needs or - on the opposite side - he/she will choose a single distro (and often become a fanboy/fangirl for it) and never change it (thus losing the advancements a "competing" distro might in the meantime offer).

As I see both the above are exactly the opposite of "freedom".

A few peeps with more time and dedication then the average will learn the innards of the OS, with lots of blood and sweat, and will finally manage to know the OS and be able to run a "decent" system, and then - possibly - this wil result in yet another distro :w00t:.

jaclaz

...and, for no apparent reason ;), check the way to fix computers:

http://theoatmeal.com/blog/fix_computer

:lol:

(thanks to breaker http://reboot.pro/16794/ )

Edited by jaclaz
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if you want the old Windows way (taskbar, Startmneu) try Cinnamon

[...]

http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/

I just found this theme for Cinnamon. Notice that it features a Vista-like "convex" taskbar. :wub: Depending on how well it works, I could come to like this a lot!

--JorgeA

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IMHO, it's trying to make do without pretty much all the best tools. Outside of a web browser, torrent client, VLC and perhaps OOo (which is at best a partial replacement for MS Office) there's very little stuff I'd ever use. And there's basically no direct replacement for just about everything I use (essentially making the computer useless). Trying to get apps and games (if you ever want to play any) using WINE or VMs isn't my definition of fun, neither is wasting countless hours to get hardware to work (only to see an update break something else) and so on. I tired of wasting time on a desktop OS (yes, I've tried way too many distros) that gave me more problems than the number of useful applications it runs. Also, lots of Linux distros are moving to something very similar to Metro, with Unity and GNOME 3. Honestly, if it was as good as some people make it seem, do you think it would still have a 1% market share after 20 years of trying to give it away?

CoffeeFiend,

Thanks for the rundown.

I've heard it said that Linux is for people who'd rather put their own cars together out of parts...

My needs aren't (it seems) as specialized as yours, so I may be able to get away with some flavor of Linux. I'm definitely going to give this a serious try and see how well the "ecosystem" works for me. Possibly the most exotic thing I do on a computer (other than Windows Media Center) is the occasional but still important need to edit PDF files or extract specific pages from a PDF.

Fortunately there appear to be a lot of distros that aren't trying to fit onto a tablet screen, so with any luck that won't be an issue. That's definitely one area where competition among distros does help.

underpowered, underfeatured devices with little screens

It has the fastest CPU/GPU of every ARM-based tablet out there (faster than both the quad core Tegra 3 or Snapdragon S4), it's responsive, the OS and most apps are well designed (good usability and meant for touch usage), it has tons of apps, the current version is far more featured than any other tablet on the market, good battery life (not just on paper), good build quality, etc. They are definitely pricey but sadly you still won't find a better tablet at the same price point.

Here's the exact way in which I formed my impression of the new iPad:

As I was browsing through the new issue of Maximum PC (bear the name in mind), my eyes chanced on a gray box labeled "Specifications" at the bottom left of a page. Before looking up to see which machine the specs were for, I immediately scanned for the major values -- CPU speed, RAM, and storage. In that spec box, these were, respectively, 1GHz, 1GB, and 16GB (up to 64GB). So before I knew what machine they were talking about, my instant reaction was, "What a piece of cr*p! These are specs from, like, 2004!! Why are they wasting any space on this???"

That was my exact sequence of thoughts. Then I looked up and saw the headline: "Apple iPad."

--JorgeA

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