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Windows 8 - Deeper Impressions


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#276
CoffeeFiend

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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.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.


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#277
jaclaz

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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

#278
JorgeA

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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

#279
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

#280
CoffeeFiend

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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.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#281
JorgeA

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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

#282
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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.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#283
jaclaz

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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....eam/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:
  • the highly specialized ones (i.e. targeted at a given scope and with no provisions for *anything* else but the intended scope)
  • 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.co...og/fix_computer
:lol:
(thanks to breaker http://reboot.pro/16794/ )

Edited by jaclaz, 01 May 2012 - 06:44 AM.


#284
JorgeA

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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

#285
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

#286
CoffeeFiend

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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)

I'm not surprised by any of it. And that was a straight compile as-is. It reminds me of the time where I wanted to get my Alfa AWUS036H wifi card working on Linux. First, you have to chose between between 2 drivers, either:
-rtl8187, which mostly works (lacking some features still) but namely doesn't let you control power (making my Alfa card 100% pointless), or:
-r8187, which lets you control power and do absolutely everything you want with it.... except connect to a WPA-protected AP (bah, not like you want internet, right?)

To swap between the 2 broken drivers, you have to wget & untar the sources for the driver, wget 2 or 3 different patches (which of course vary depending on which kernel you're using, among other things), and apply them, rmmod the old driver, manually add several entries to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf, make/make install/make unload, modprobe, etc. While using half-working instructions from various forums -- while you have no internet on that box (better wget everything you may need and all dependencies first!) This finally allows you to use a command line utility (iwpriv, there's no GUI of course) to change a value which will then let you use iwconfig (again, no GUI) to manually change the power level... assuming you've already written some scripts to change the CRDA. Hours of fun in a terminal window for half-working wifi.

Under Windows, the driver has one of those newfangled GUIs. And it has one of those slider controls to adjust the power and an "Apply" button next to it, and it just works. You can even connect to an AP that uses WPA or WPA2, so amazing! Installing the driver required clicking on next twice and then finish, or something like that.

Getting Intel HD audio working over spdif was just about the same story: wget/untar/recompile source for alsa-driver, alsa-lib and alsa-utils (./configure, make, make install). Then edit a configuration file (alsa-base.conf) trying different values somewhat randomly, reboot, see if works and if not try another value and reboot, and possibly having to unmute the IEC958 output from alsa-mixer which is a clunky command-line audio mixer) whereas under Windows, there's a "use digital/spdif output" checkbox and that's all you need to do.

Basic things like that always seem to require so much work. You eventually tire of it.

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"

Agreed. There's far too many distros out there, most of which are just about a straight copy of another distro but with perhaps a new desktop environment (gnome/kde/xfce...) and a new theme. Most of them have the same basic problems anyway.

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

Or people who don't mind having to disassemble and reassemble their car rotated to turn corners ;)

My needs aren't (it seems) as specialized as yours, so I may be able to get away with some flavor of Linux.

That's the saving grace for a lot of Linux users. You don't need any specialized software for anything and don't play games? It'll work I guess.

the occasional but still important need to edit PDF files or extract specific pages from a PDF

That's pretty basic usage as far as PDFs go. I commonly deal with PDFs that contain 3D content (that you can rotate on any axis and hide parts of) and layers, or running preflight checks on PDF/X files to send out for printing (and do some proofing with them), or to de-skew & OCR scanned documents (from our copier than scans in PDF format directly to a network share), making extensive use of the annotation tools on translated documents (commenting/pointing out errors), using the "edit object" tool to make some changes to PDFs (and even edit parts with Adobe Illustrator because Acrobat just can't do some changes by itself), using digital signatures in engineering documents passed around via email, and I even open them in Photoshop sometimes. That kind of stuff. If you got needs like that then Acrobat's the only game in town and that means Windows or Macs only.

CPU speed, RAM, and storage. In that spec box, these were, respectively, 1GHz, 1GB, and 16GB (up to 64GB)

I understand that. Just "1GHz" by itself means nothing at all. They're completely different processor architectures (x86 vs ARM), with different numbers of cores, etc. Of course it's no i7 but it's not like a P3 either. 1GB isn't much at all for a desktop but it's not like you'll be doing a lot of heavy multitasking on a tablet (it's enough and it's also more than any other tablet as far as I know). Storage space wise you can't expect too much from a device that uses flash memory -- just look at flash-based MP3 players. You won't mind too many with more than 64GB -- probably none (unless you want a hard drive in it). I mean, it's enough for things like 1080p video chat or playing nice 3D games like Mass Effect or Dead Space on it. It's definitely not the same as a powerful desktop but other tablets are far worse.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#287
jaclaz

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Basic things like that always seem to require so much work. You eventually tire of it.

But this is true also in the othe other half of the world.
Really coincidentally yesterday I had to re-install an XP on a AMD motherboard with a ATi Radeon 9600 Pro video card. (second hand, low cost machine, to be used for office use only)
Besided the fact that finding the drivers (now they are in the "legacy" part of the AMD site was a far-less-than-easy chore, I learned that to have the lousy ccc catalyst control panel you need .Net 2.0 :w00t:.
No big problem, but once the thingy and the driver was installed (and working allright) at a certain point the video switched off itself.
No way to re-access it, needed to cut power off and re-boot.
So I said to myself, I must have set the "normal" power saving profile and for *any*reason it switched video off after 20 minutes, and right I was, so I set it to "Always on", and after some other 20 minutes, the video switched off itself again. :ph34r:
So uninstalled the stupid drivers, and tested the machine with the standard Vga one: no problems at all.
Tried installing a slightly previous version of the drivers, same video switch off.
BTW uninstalling a Radeon video card driver and reinstalling another one is not for the very faint of heart, as it involves some small trickery (I had to do quite a few searches to find the keys in Registry that remained "set" after uninstall).
Continued searching the internet and found quite a number of reports of people with this exact issue, with "expert" replies such as "You have been playing a game that needs a lot of video processing power and the CPU is overheating" (the OP having reported he was playing a golf game), "Check the fan, it is not spinning" (the card has a passive cooler) and similar pearls of wisdom (sigh :().
Finally I found (on an italian IBM dedicated board) that the issue could be a stupid service "ATi Hot Key Poller" that has issues on some motherboards (coincidentally AMD based).
Disabled the service and everything works.

Not being at all an expert on video cards, I instinctly always got (when not using the motherboard integrated one), Nvidia ones, evidently my instinct has helped keeping me out of troubles for several years :).

Anyway once upon a time you had a diskette (or directory on cd, or local directory created from a download) with a simple .inf file, you pointed the NT system to read the .inf file and the driver was installed, at the most a reboot was needed.

Now the "legacy" set of drivers ran on me a program to register at ATi site, besides a temporary free acceess to play "lord of the rings" and even without the stupid ccc panel, forced on me a stupid service that switched off video after 20 minutes or so.

There is no way you can convince me that this is "the right way" to do things, as opposed to the nonsensical complexity of Linux drivers, as I see it BOTH "models" suck big.

jaclaz

#288
CoffeeFiend

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I learned that to have the lousy ccc catalyst control panel you need .Net 2.0 :w00t:.

You might be happy to learn that CCC is entirely optional :) I never install it.

I instinctly always got (when not using the motherboard integrated one), Nvidia ones, evidently my instinct has helped keeping me out of troubles for several years :)

But this is true also in the othe other half of the world ;)

Every nvidia card I've bought in the last decade has been nothing but trouble: BSODs, games crashing, video decoding acceleration not working due to driver issues, tons of "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" errors (i.e. Windows restarted it), millions of bad G86/G86 cards having been sold (thermal issues leading to failure), their drivers being so awful that it was causing 30% of all BSODs when Vista came out and now the pink screen of death with the last one I bought. So many problems and time wasted.

I almost always get (when not using the motherboard integrated one), ATI ones, evidently my instinct has helped keeping me out of troubles for several years ;)
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#289
JorgeA

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CoffeeFiend,

Thanks for the gory details on using Linux. I just bought a new Vista box on clearance from Staples (amazing that was still possible in 2012) and it just occurred to me I could put it next to my main PC and multiboot it with Linux to see if I can replicate my day-to-day work on it.


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

Or people who don't mind having to disassemble and reassemble their car rotated to turn corners ;)


LOL :D


the occasional but still important need to edit PDF files or extract specific pages from a PDF

That's pretty basic usage as far as PDFs go. I commonly deal with PDFs that contain 3D content (that you can rotate on any axis and hide parts of) and layers, or running preflight checks on PDF/X files to send out for printing (and do some proofing with them), or to de-skew & OCR scanned documents (from our copier than scans in PDF format directly to a network share), making extensive use of the annotation tools on translated documents (commenting/pointing out errors), using the "edit object" tool to make some changes to PDFs (and even edit parts with Adobe Illustrator because Acrobat just can't do some changes by itself), using digital signatures in engineering documents passed around via email, and I even open them in Photoshop sometimes. That kind of stuff. If you got needs like that then Acrobat's the only game in town and that means Windows or Macs only.


That could be a problem. My requirements are simpler than yours, but in my line of work I do often have to annotate PDFs for typesetters/designers (those yellow stickies are so much easier than creating an e-mail or word processing file saying, "OK, in the third paragraph on the left on page 129..."). Not having that feature would be a significant drawback. Don't PDF readers for Linux have that capability? I suppose I'll find out...

CPU speed, RAM, and storage. In that spec box, these were, respectively, 1GHz, 1GB, and 16GB (up to 64GB)

I understand that. Just "1GHz" by itself means nothing at all. They're completely different processor architectures (x86 vs ARM), with different numbers of cores, etc. Of course it's no i7 but it's not like a P3 either. 1GB isn't much at all for a desktop but it's not like you'll be doing a lot of heavy multitasking on a tablet (it's enough and it's also more than any other tablet as far as I know). Storage space wise you can't expect too much from a device that uses flash memory -- just look at flash-based MP3 players. You won't mind too many with more than 64GB -- probably none (unless you want a hard drive in it). I mean, it's enough for things like 1080p video chat or playing nice 3D games like Mass Effect or Dead Space on it. It's definitely not the same as a powerful desktop but other tablets are far worse.


Yeah, I guess we simply don't have any particular reason to own a tablet. If we want to watch a YouTube video or stream something, we can just do it on the HTPC and view it on a 55" screen. (Sorry, Metro team!)

--JorgeA

#290
belgianguy

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If you're interested in just giving Linux a whirl, there are options to create LiveUSB sticks of certain distros. Essentially you create a bootable USB stick which contains a Linux distro and you can then boot from the stick and try it out without installing it.
So that in the case you decide against it, you can just turn it off and nothing will have changed.

I had to use an Ubuntu LiveUSB (explained here) to to re-organize my Ubuntu/Windows partitions. While Ubuntu itself still suffers from the many problems all Linux distros suffer from (Missing functionality/terrible fragmentation/still too much reliance on terminal once it gets complicated/QA of apps can be so-and-so/...) I quite like the fact that they at least try to get to a common ground upon which a uniform platform can grow, without forking into a bazillion different flavours which all have exactly one user who actually uses it. It's no Windows, but it's user friendly for a Linux ;).

#291
CoffeeFiend

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That could be a problem. My requirements are simpler than yours, but in my line of work I do often have to annotate PDFs for typesetters/designers (those yellow stickies are so much easier than creating an e-mail or word processing file saying, "OK, in the third paragraph on the left on page 129..."). Not having that feature would be a significant drawback. Don't PDF readers for Linux have that capability? I suppose I'll find out...

I can't tell you for sure that no PDF app on Linux can do this specific task as I haven't tried all of them, but even "alternative" PDF apps for Windows are extremely limited when it comes to supporting things like I had listed (some of them even struggle with very basic tasks like printing documents). For us it would be impossible to live without Adobe's Creative Suite (and *so* many other things that Linux just doesn't have). It's pretty common for designers to use InDesign (with content from Illustrator and Photoshop, managed using Bridge) and typesetters to fill in their part with InCopy, then doing PDF/X output via Acrobat (and preflighting with Acrobat and addons for it like PitStop Pro or pdfToolbox).

Just today again I had a small request for a company logo in a specific format (Illustrator CS3, with fonts converted to outlines, using Pantone spot colors for accuracy -- instead of a PDF/X file). It was a 10 minute job but I have absolutely no idea how I'd even try to do this on Linux. Nor would I know if the file would be accepted for output (delays, wasted time and iterations costs us money), or what the end result would look like (that's clearly not an option when you print lots of something). I'm not what you'd call a huge Apple fan, but at least I could accomplish this kind of task on a Mac (you got the entire Creative Suite, an OS with proper color calibration, Outlook 2011 to use my Exchange accounts for the relevant emails, etc) as well as pretty much every basic task Linux can accomplish (browsing, playing mp3's, etc). It's still mostly useless for programming (doesn't run most of the tools we need) and CAD work though (two things we do a lot of).
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#292
JorgeA

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I can't tell you for sure that no PDF app on Linux can do this specific task as I haven't tried all of them, but even "alternative" PDF apps for Windows are extremely limited when it comes to supporting things like I had listed (some of them even struggle with very basic tasks like printing documents).

CoffeeFiend,

Thanks once again for the real-life scenario. Sounds like the range of useful things that can be done in Linux is comparatively narrow.

Anyway, here's an interesting take by Paul Thurrott that builds on what we said the other day about "the war on general purpose computing":

In Windows 8, Metro-styled apps are those simpleton apps that run in a new Fisher Price-like environment that power users are already disavowing.

And the coming Windows 8 ultrabooks are already under pressure from both ends (price and cost).

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA, 02 May 2012 - 11:45 PM.


#293
JorgeA

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If you're interested in just giving Linux a whirl, there are options to create LiveUSB sticks of certain distros. Essentially you create a bootable USB stick which contains a Linux distro and you can then boot from the stick and try it out without installing it.
So that in the case you decide against it, you can just turn it off and nothing will have changed.

I had to use an Ubuntu LiveUSB (explained here) to to re-organize my Ubuntu/Windows partitions. While Ubuntu itself still suffers from the many problems all Linux distros suffer from (Missing functionality/terrible fragmentation/still too much reliance on terminal once it gets complicated/QA of apps can be so-and-so/...) I quite like the fact that they at least try to get to a common ground upon which a uniform platform can grow, without forking into a bazillion different flavours which all have exactly one user who actually uses it. It's no Windows, but it's user friendly for a Linux ;).

Thank you for the tip, belgianguy -- I just went and created a LiveUSB for Zorin OS! It's supposed to be based on Ubuntu, but with a Windows look-and-feel to lessen the culture shock.

We'll see how well the operating system works.

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA, 02 May 2012 - 11:45 PM.


#294
tsampikos

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WIndows 8 will be a double failure for Microsft. Since the mobile phones war is lost, 2 battles remain. The Tablets battle and the Desktop battle. The first one is already lost. I don't beleive that Windows 8 is capable of punching Android or iOS Tablets. No way. Secondly. Windows users will stick to Windows XP and WIndows 7. WIndows 8 will be the black sheep of Microsoft like Windows Millenium and Vista were. Microsoft wanted to put all devices under one roof. Tablets, mobile phones, XBOX, Desktops/Laptops. The result of this target is an OS which is not even as user friendly as Vista. The Linux community and Apple will be so happy when WIndows 8 will be released....

#295
CoffeeFiend

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In Windows 8, Metro-styled apps are those simpleton apps that run in a new Fisher Price-like environment that power users are already disavowing.

/thread. This says it all. And since it's almost the only new feature Win8 has and that it can't be disabled...

Since the mobile phones war is lost, 2 battles remain. The Tablets battle and the Desktop battle. The first one is already lost. I don't beleive that Windows 8 is capable of punching Android or iOS Tablets. No way.

Agreed (they also lost for other mobile devices like the Zune). The tablet battle is already lost as far as I'm concerned. Most OEMs have zero experience with ARM tablets, they're used to make cheap and heavy laptops instead (mostly being incapable of competing in the ultrabook format, let alone tablets). Now they have to make a portable device instead, with an expensive touch screen, and using an OS that a lot of people are already showing strong aversion to (and isn't custom tailored for tablets), and without all the apps iDevices have, etc. I don't see them making a dent in iPad or Android tablet sales.

WIndows 8 will be the black sheep of Microsoft like Windows Millenium and Vista were.

If anything, I'd say it's going to be worse than both PR-wise.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#296
JorgeA

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WIndows 8 will be a double failure for Microsft. Since the mobile phones war is lost, 2 battles remain. The Tablets battle and the Desktop battle. The first one is already lost. I don't beleive that Windows 8 is capable of punching Android or iOS Tablets. No way. Secondly. Windows users will stick to Windows XP and WIndows 7. WIndows 8 will be the black sheep of Microsoft like Windows Millenium and Vista were. Microsoft wanted to put all devices under one roof. Tablets, mobile phones, XBOX, Desktops/Laptops. The result of this target is an OS which is not even as user friendly as Vista. The Linux community and Apple will be so happy when WIndows 8 will be released....

tsampikos,

Interesting analysis. Following your lead, we could say that Microsoft have lost the phone battle, will lose the tablet battle, and -- are shooting themselves on the desktop battle!

--JorgeA

#297
CoffeeFiend

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we could say that Microsoft have lost the phone battle, will lose the tablet battle, and -- are shooting themselves on the desktop battle!

They've lost at the mp3 player battle, they lost the smartphone battle, they're losing the tablet battle, and to do so they're turning their desktop OS and developer tools into something nobody wants of (and killing the Live brand as well). It's going to be a spectacular failure like we'll probably never see again.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#298
belgianguy

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Want to play a DVD in Windows 8? That's going to cost you an extra upgrade according to this article.

I knew WMC would become a for-pay upgrade, but DVD playback, really? So if a customer doesn't buy their media pack, he could find himself "upgrading" a Windows 7 pc that plays DVDs just fine into a machine that won't even play them without an extra purchase?
What about people who downgrade from any version of Win8 without DVD support to any version of Windows 7, will they magically regain those features?

I could understand that they would be trying to cut corners to get the price down, but to remove DVD functionality? That might be a bit too much. In Europe there's no Hulu or Netflix to speak of, so DVDs are far from legacy items.

#299
JorgeA

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belgianguy,

Thanks for the link. Looks like MS has given its customer base even more reasons to give the thumbs-down to Windows 8.

I've noticed that if I have a CD/DVD in the ODD when I boot into Win8, then Windows Explorer finds it; but if Win8 is already loaded and then I put a disc in the drive, nothing happens -- it's as if I hadn't put anything in the ODD. This is not supposed to be intentional, but still I have to wonder if this was a "preview" of Win8's new "feature set."

--JorgeA

#300
CoffeeFiend

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I would have hoped for built-in Blu-Ray support if anything. Instead, we get:

-No support for Blu-Ray built-in
-No support for DVDs built-in
-No support for MPEG2 files or streams built-in
-No WMC built-in, you have to pay extra for the addon (Zero day DLC, if you will), on top of having to pay extra for Win8 Pro (or Pro Pack, still paying both both but as one item)
-Seemingly even if you have Win8 Pro and the WMC pack, then WMP still can't play DVDs!
-WMC in Win8 gets *zero* new features (is it being abandoned?)
-Still laughable support for common formats such as FLAC or MKV (or subtitles for that matter)
-No syncing WMP with the most popular mp3 players (iPods)
-WMP smart playlists are still kinda dumb compared to many other players
-Intentionally crippled TV recording for some countries, and also recording in a non-standard format with DRM
-Playing mp3's with the awful Metro player by default
...

Sounds like it's going to be a fantastic OS for audio and video content! :rolleyes: When you offer that kind of experience to your users (don't forget Metro), you can't be surprised Apple's eating your lunch and that most of your users won't upgrade.

Meanwhile, everywhere on the internet, people are voicing their opinions about it, and it's not praise.
FAQ - DVD playback and Windows Media Center in Windows 8 has some nice comments.
PCWorld has a couple related articles:Like Windows Media Center? Don't Upgrade to Windows 8 and Windows 8 Dumps Default DVD Playback.
Edit: more nice comments on anandtech's article.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.




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