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Chuck(G)
April 24th, 2014, 11:01 PM
I've been surveying some of the newer *nix replacement candidates for Windows XP.

I'm trying both the x64 and x32 candidates when possible. As an extreme acid test for backward compatibility, I"m using as my test machine, an old ASUS K8V board with a 2.4GHz Athlon 64 3400 (Socket 754) and 2GB of memory. The video card is a an old Nvidia GeForce 6600 AGP. NIC is whatever is on the motherboard and there's also a Linksys WMP54GS PCI wireless card installed (Broadcom chipset). Hard disks is a Seagate 320GB SATA drive.

Any OS can run like the wind if it's got enough hardware, but how will it do in hardware-limited conditions?

I've various Linuces using the XFCE desktop (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint...) and they all seem to operate pretty much the same once installed in either 64 or 32 bit mode. Ubuntu seems to be the best organized and easiest to use.

I tried FreeBSD 10.0 (x64 only) with some interesting problems. I had the IDE DVD drive cabled with a 40-conductor cable, since the drive doesn't support the faster transfer modes. The Linuces all installed just fine from DVD, but FreeBSD would boot, then die with a SCSI error on the DVD drive. Turns out that it was trying to run the drive in ATA32 mode--the remedy was to use an 80 conductor IDE cable. There were some bizarre messages during startup with my network settings, but eventually the thing got to its feet.

FreeBSD doesn't come with a desktop pre-configured--you have to install X as well as your desktop of choice from the command line. XFCE did come up, but wouldn't recognize my (PS2) mouse, it required some configuration editing to activate the mouse daemon. In general, I found FreeBSD fairly laggy.

Figuring that I might have done something wrong, I next tried PCBSD 10.0. Better, but it got the display driver wrong, so I had to manually select it. Once selected, the familiar XFCE desktop came up and looked like any other XFCE desktop, pretty much. I don't care for Midori as a browser, so I isntalled Firefox. It took forever--almost 45 minutes. I couldn't figure out what took things so long. Once installed, Firefox got to its feet.

I'm writing this on PCBSD right now.

FreeBSD seems not to have drivers for the Linksys/Broadcom WIFI NIC--I could locate inquiries on the Web, but reports of a successful installation. OTOH, the Linuces ran the Linksys card just fine, once you downloaded the firmware for it.

My reaction thus far is that FreeBSD may be an interesting alternative, but it's not as fast as the Debian-kernel Linuces. Quite honestly, I don't think I'd recommend it, particularly for a new user.

cr1901
April 24th, 2014, 11:30 PM
I completed Linux From Scratch (http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/) and used that as my secondary OS for 2 years, until I nuked /usr. Since then (December 2013), all mainstream Linux distributions caved into Poettering's systemd bullshit- err, rhetoric. This includes Linux From Scratch getting a systemd-compatible kernel as well, so I would've had to rebuild anyway. Since you like creating your own hard disk controllers from scratch, I can't imagine creating Linux from scratch would be too much of a stretch :). When run at the bare minimum, Linux From Scratch can fit into 10 Megabytes (not including Xorg, of course). My Window manager of choice was FVWM- mainly because it was the one that compiled easiest :P.

Caluser2000
April 24th, 2014, 11:41 PM
I think Chuck was alluding to something a bit easier to set up. Not something needing hours of tweeking to get up and running. Something a bit like the distro I'm typing this with. 20 minutes installation and another half an hour to get just so.

TNC
April 25th, 2014, 12:47 AM
You may want to take a look at Manjaro Linux. It is based off Arch Linux (which is very modular), but with more little helpers like a setup tool and a graphical package manager. Especially on slow hardware Arch based distributions are much faster than Debian / Ubuntu ones. At least my experience.

glitch
April 25th, 2014, 08:04 AM
My development systems mostly run Arch Linux. I don't mind systemd, it does fix some of the problems with System V init, but it introduces its own as well. You do have to stay on top of updates with Arch.

Straight FreeBSD is restricted to my fileserver, and the only reason for choosing it is ZFS support. I use pfSense on the firewall/router, which is FreeBSD based but you'd hardly know it. I've found hardware support with FreeBSD to be a bit..."interesting." Machines with seemingly vanilla hardware (Intel desktop boards mostly) will have weird problems, like failure to boot the installer from USB, or in one case, failure of the FreeBSD bootloader after the install went fine.

What I'd recommend for people, and what I use on my Asterisk box, utility box, and a few sandbox machines, is Slackware. Despite not being the most popular of distros, it's still just as solid as it has ever been. There's no systemd yet, but it does still use BSD style rc scripts instead of System V init -- System V init compatibility is included nowadays anyway, but I prefer BSD rc scripts. Do an "install everything" install, or deselect KDE if you know for sure you don't want it.

Slackware now comes with a network-connected package manager, slackpkg. Once you enable it, updates are super-simple. You're also not going to be getting "updates for the sake of updates" if you're running one of the number releases (i.e. not slackware-current).

cr1901
April 25th, 2014, 08:50 AM
I think Chuck was alluding to something a bit easier to set up. Not something needing hours of tweeking to get up and running. Something a bit like the distro I'm typing this with. 20 minutes installation and another half an hour to get just so.

My suggestion was partially in jest. I wouldn't recommend anyone who didn't have 2 weeks to spare to try Linux From Scratch (which is about how long it took to get X and the bare minimums- web browser, etc- running the first time). But since Chuck creates his own hardware without many problems, I figured it was worth a shot.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 08:52 AM
I'm quite used to building Unix/Linux from scratch, but again, that's not what I was setting out to do. My goal is to see which BSD/Linux distros are easy for a neophyte to install and which have the best device support, particularly in legacy devices. You know, hypothetical granny with her 10-year old machine. She's 80, so changing the hardware really can't be considered a good investment--no way she's going to want to learn the GUI du jour of Windows 8. My wife might be a typical example, although not quite our hypothetical Granny. She's comfortable with XP, having gotten there via DOS, NT 4 and Win2K--she probably drops into CLI mode more often that do many of this forum's members. She knows it and doesn't want to be told that everything she knew is garbage and it's about time she learned the latest way to do things. Heck, she still uses Courier email and QPro for spreadsheets--and SEMedit for text.

Currently, I just tell people to disable automatic updates (and how to avoid the security shield that indicates that), and, if they're using MSE, to reinstall the thing from an earlier distro and skip the insistance from MSFT that they should upgrade to the latest version. They get the nice green icon with virus database updates until July 2015, whereupon they can move to another AV tool.

NetBSD has pretty good support for legacy devices, but unfortunately, can be very slow and not at all familiar to current Windows users. It, like OpenBSD, is one of those "If you lived here, you would know where you are." systems.

I mean to try a 32-bit PCBSD (probably 9.1) distro. Judging from what I've read, it may actually be faster than the 64-bit 10.0.

I pretty much have to use OpenBSD on a couple of thin clients as somewhere around Squeeze, the Debian kernel quit supporting the VIA chipset IDE controller used for these boxes. "No hard disk found". That means any modern distro with the Debian kernel isn't going to work--and I've verified that. But then, those are strictly minimal CLI-mode boxes for me.

So among Linuces, it pretty much boils down to who has the best package management and selection, GUI alternatives, support and long-term stability.

I'm actually a bit surprised that there's no "boot your XP system with our DVD and we'll migrate everything for you" sort of alternative.

Right now, my current recommendation is that if you don't live in the Linux world and want to move from Windows, try Ubuntu with XFCE or LXDE, or Xubuntu/Lubuntu (which is pretty much the same thing). But I want to keep investigating. Distrowatch is little help, as it seems to reflect short-term fads more than anything.

MikeS
April 25th, 2014, 09:04 AM
...Currently, I just tell people to disable automatic updates (and how to avoid the security shield that indicates that), and, if they're using MSE, to reinstall the thing from an earlier distro and skip the insistance from MSFT that they should upgrade to the latest version. They get the nice green icon with virus database updates until July 2015, whereupon they can move to another AV tool.

Thanks for taking the time for this research; also, thanks again for the tip about rolling back MSE; mine's been a lovely shade of green with a reassuring white check mark ever since then.

Regarding Automatic updates: it's probably a good idea to leave updates on, preferably in 'notify' mode so you can review first. Presumably there won't be any future XP updates but various components are still being updated; I updated the .NET framework a couple of days ago and I was indeed notified about (and installed) a number of related security updates.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 09:23 AM
One can always use the Microsoft Update tool at one's convenience as well. Notify is probably the better solution if one wants to stay current, however--just be careful of what each update does. I wouldn't be surprised if MSFT tried to slip a "doom and gloom" update into MSE or XP one last time to catch the stragglers.

If you use the MSFT notification screen for XP EOL and follow the link, you get dumped into a "Here's a good place to buy a new computer" conversation, rather than "Here's how to upgrade to Windows 8". I see a trend here--"Toss your old hardware, no matter how much you've grown attached to it and buy a new box. We really don't want to deal with people who install Windows 8 themselves. One DVD that's only a recovery DVD, not an installation one."

lowen
April 25th, 2014, 09:55 AM
Hmmm...

The choice of which Linux or BSD to use as an XP replacement really depends upon how XP was used.

For basic Web/e-mail type things with a smattering of multimedia, it's hard to beat CentOS 6 with the EPEL and Nux Dextop repos enabled. You get long-term stability with CentOS (being a from-source rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux), plus the additional things you're used to with the EPEL+Dextop combo. The Libreoffice package has excellent file interoperability with MS Office, too.

CentOS: http://www.centos.org
EPEL: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/EPEL
Nux Dextop: http://li.nux.ro/repos.html

I use it as my primary desktop on multiple machines, running Windows 7 in a KVM virtual machine for those extremely rare occasions I need Windows.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 10:58 AM
I'm going to guess that some migration of old applications is going to matter. For example, my wife's insistence on Quattro Pro and Courier email means a WINE installation. Heaven knows what she'll do about using her SEMedit DOS-mode editor.

Yes, you can use VirtualBox/QEMU to handle an XP installation, but that's not really going away from XP, is it?

glitch
April 25th, 2014, 11:08 AM
Heaven knows what she'll do about using her SEMedit DOS-mode editor.

Give DOSBox a try!

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 11:24 AM
Oh, she can use dosemu as well on several platforms--it actually fares better than DOSBox on a lot of programs. For example, it runs many DOS programs with 32-bit DPMI servers pretty well. Integration of either with WINE really sucks, however. I've got some utilities that bounce between Win32 CLI-type programs and 16-bit DOS real-mode programs (e.g. a compiled QBASIC invoicing program that outputs PCL printer codes, which is then translated by Ghostscript to a PDF format. Works great on XP, but not so much on later platforms.)

How about a DOS batch script that sets environment variables for use by both Win32 CLI utilities and DOS ones? Not so hot, according to my experiments.

One wonders what it would take to add 16-bit real mode support for such stuff to WINE--and not just start a DOSBox session.

Jack.
April 25th, 2014, 11:38 AM
Just drop the box down the window and bring out your VAXes. PLEASE ENTER TIME AND DATE :p
-
Apart from joking, i've had the same exact problem with a Acer TravelMate i had to repair. I ended up installing XP again because the user needed IE for a... hell knows what.

In my PIII top-of-the-line workstation i run W2K ADVSVR, as well as in my VMs, and it runs pretty smooth, i must say. Includes most WinXP features without eyecandy. Lacks UAC though. I think i got addicted to it.

In my opinion, Debian is the best choice, as it comes with a nice'n'easy installer and the desktop environment is configured automatically. I tried to run Debian PPC with XFCE4 on a s****y PowerBook G4 Aluminium and it ran very fast. Also works like a charm on a Pentium MMX, but obviously i didn't use X there.

Caluser2000
April 25th, 2014, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the heads up on dosemu Chuck. Not had much to do with it at all. The system automounts the fdd so accessing my dos disks easily enough at the familiar dos prompt. I've added to my list of must haves.

I'm liking using XFCE. It's fairly snappy on this old box, a PIII 730. Also liking the way you can add bits n bobs using apt. Certainly a far cry from when I set up RH 7.3 on my P200mmx, which is still servicable. Although on the whole atp is good it still pays to be carefull adding extra programs.

Interesting that the via cipset was dropped, progress I guess.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 03:47 PM
Interesting that the via cipset was dropped, progress I guess.

The excuse given was that the old driver was somewhat buggy (although I never ran into bugs). Not new hardware = forget it.

I'm starting to see the same attitude with other things, as in, "you're still using a PS2 mouse! Get a new computer!" Well, this computer is less than a year old and it uses a PS2 mouse and keyboard. I don't like that attitude. I still use NetBSD 5 because it has support for QIC02 drives (as do old versions of Debian and RH).

I've never understood why, on BSD and Linux, a change to hardware drivers always seems to mean a kernel recompilation.

Caluser2000
April 25th, 2014, 04:45 PM
Intrinsic to the monolithic kernal design of both from what I can gather. Though I'm no expert at all.

Anyone played with Minix3 at all? Seems a good way of understanding some *nix concepts.

lowen
April 25th, 2014, 04:56 PM
The excuse given was that the old driver was somewhat buggy (although I never ran into bugs). Not new hardware = forget it.

Hmm, that was the old ide layer to the libata transition, right? When the /dev/hdX turned into /dev/sdX? The libata layer is missing some drivers for certain 'difficult' IDE chipsets.


I'm starting to see the same attitude with other things, as in, "you're still using a PS2 mouse! Get a new computer!" Well, this computer is less than a year old and it uses a PS2 mouse and keyboard. I don't like that attitude. I still use NetBSD 5 because it has support for QIC02 drives (as do old versions of Debian and RH).

Heh, I have a QIC-40-style floppy tape drive running under an old Red Hat. My only QIC-02 interface is a QBUS one, but I don't have the drive any more.


I've never understood why, on BSD and Linux, a change to hardware drivers always seems to mean a kernel recompilation.

Now, this isn't true any longer, at least on modern CentOS. Many drivers (that are not already in-kernel) can be built just with the kernel-devel headers, no kernel recompile required.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 05:28 PM
When I had to add a USB device to OpenBSD, I became acutely aware of the monolithic kernel. I suppose I could understand the need for some sort of boot device support being monolithic, but this was a USB NIC--something you'd think that could be loaded at any time.

Well, that's one really good part to MSDOS/OS/2--you need only have support for the basic INT 13 devices to get booted--everything else can be loaded from separate device drivers after that.

So are there any viable microkernel Linux/Unix alternatives for the x86/x64 platforms? Or is that just an idea that's passed its prime?

Caluser2000
April 25th, 2014, 06:50 PM
Also works like a charm on a Pentium MMX, but obviously i didn't use X there.I'd of thought X would be quite handy if you wanted to use multiple terminals on it. This RH 7.3 P200mmx box seems to run ok with it up and running. There's also some pretty fugal apps available to use with it as well.

lowen
April 25th, 2014, 07:06 PM
...

Well, that's one really good part to MSDOS/OS/2--you need only have support for the basic INT 13 devices to get booted--everything else can be loaded from separate device drivers after that.

So are there any viable microkernel Linux/Unix alternatives for the x86/x64 platforms? Or is that just an idea that's passed its prime?

Well, the linux kernel has had loadable modules for a really long time now; Red Hat variants even have initial ramdisk support for udev-based dynamically loaded modules (so you can, say, take a disk from one kind of SCSI controller to a different SCSI controller and the disk still boot successfully); since Fedora 12 or 13 (RHEL/CentOS 6) the dracut system handles this quite nicely.

For hardware that's not supported directly it's not hard to build a loadable module without rebuilding the whole kernel; the elrepo.org repository builds RPM packages for many pieces of hardware, especially including nVidia 3D accelerated drivers.

I'm running CentOS 6 on several year old hardware; my main laptop is a Dell M4300 (Penryn C2D). It's quick enough to run Windows 7 in a VM while having reasonable performance for normal tasks. A simple 'yum install' of a package (through CLI or through GUI, for that matter) is enough to get pretty much any driver without rebuilding a kernel.

Now to go to pre-XP hardware, I have run as recent as CentOS 3 on Pentium 133 and slower hardware; and I ran Red Hat Linux 8 on a 486DX4-100 tp build distribution packages for the PostgreSQL project in the '99-'04 timeframe.

I still run Red Hat Linux 5.2 (NOT Enterprise Linux; 1998-vintage RHL 5.2) on an AMD K6-2 450, and it's very serviceable.

The ISO's and repos for all of these packages ever since the very first Red Hat release are still available for download, and even for non-Intel architectures such as SPARC and Alpha.

But since you mentioned microkernels, you could always run Darwin. The Linux loadable module framework isn't too different from the Darwin/XNU/Mac OSX kernel extension (kext) framework.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 07:23 PM
I've tinkered with Linux since the first Slackware release and RH since 5.something (I bought the CDROMs for the early ones--it simply wasn't practical to download a CD with a POTS modem back them). And before that, 4.2BSD on a VAX 11/750 and Xenix on a custom 186/286 rig (that was a nightmare!). I still have some of my original Unix notebooks--things were a lot simpler back then.

Speaking of microkernels, I was surprised to see that Minix is still with us--I thought it had withered away.

What's the word on ReactOS? Still stuck in development?

Caluser2000
April 25th, 2014, 07:37 PM
I still run Red Hat Linux 5.2 (NOT Enterprise Linux; 1998-vintage RHL 5.2) on an AMD K6-2 450, and it's very serviceable.

The ISO's and repos for all of these packages ever since the very first Red Hat release are still available for download, and even for non-Intel architectures such as SPARC and Alpha.That's certainly one thing I like about Linux. Archived isos are easy to get hold of. I hate when trying to look for info on some of the older stuff and google gets smart and points to thing related to Enterprise LInux even though my search criteria is quite clear.

Doug G
April 25th, 2014, 07:46 PM
I've been wedded to RedHat for years, and prefer Fedora for workstations and CentOS for servers. I have Fedora 19 on an ancient Dell Celeron laptop and it runs well. My Dell PCMCIA wifi adapter worked fine out of the box. I also have older versions of Fedora on some even older hardware.

I appreciate the 'cutting-edge' that Fedora balances on, and have had very few problems with any software or drivers. You do have to jump through some minor hoops to get multimedia fully working, due to RH strict adherence to GPL only software in their distribution repos.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2014, 08:10 PM
Okay, here's an example of what maddens me and probably other people. I have a USB MIDI adapter set up connected to my synth keyboard. Generic USB driver, nothing special. XP recognizes it and places it as the default MIDI device with nothing more than a little baloon on the right side of the screen.

After horsing around a bit on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, I finally convinced Audacious to use it. No problems, right up through Ubuntu 13.10. I update my machine to 14.04, and the MIDI capability goes away. If I try old-time Timidity, it just discards GM voices it doesn't understand. I can still boot XP in VBox and it plays nicely. It's been reported on the Ubuntu forums and no one seems to have any idea why the MIDI support went away or what to do about it.

I've got a little MP3 player--Ubuntu doesn't seem to be able to mount it, yet I can plug it into XP (via VBox) and it works just fine.

These are current production devices, or nearly so. What's going on? You'd think that at least MIDI support would be thoroughly tested and supported by now. Why does crufty old XP keep getting it right?

BTW, running a MIDI player in WINE gets it right.

lowen
April 26th, 2014, 05:35 AM
Okay, here's an example of what maddens me and probably other people. I have a USB MIDI adapter set up connected to my synth keyboard. Generic USB driver, nothing special. XP recognizes it and places it as the default MIDI device with nothing more than a little baloon on the right side of the screen.

I have three USB audio/MIDI adapters myself, all three made by Tascam: a US-224, a US-428, and a US-144. I had some serious issues getting them to work reliably on XP (default audio device kept changing back to the motherboard audio, etc), but under the Debian-derived A/V Linux distribution I was able to make the US-224 work smoothly (I've since put them on older Mac OSX machines, since that support is rock-solid). So I'm familiar with the issues, and I'm very familiar with the frustrations. But I understand that that is one of the trade-offs to using certain Linux distributions, and is one of the reasons I won't use any straight Ubuntu again.

The major difference between using these under Linux and under XP was that the detailed knobs I needed to tweak to get them reliably recognized were documented (although not really well documented), and easily available for modification; under XP, it was totally undocumented and required registry editing. Six of one, half a dozen of another; Id rather drive 'vi' than 'regedit' any day of the week.


After horsing around a bit on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, ...

Why does crufty old XP keep getting it right?

Audio and MIDI devices are notorious under Linux, this is a fact. That's why I mentioned above that the ideal Linux would be dependent upon how XP was used; in this particular case I would say you'd want a Mac (or a 'pseudo-Mac') or use a specialized audio distribution like A/V Linux ( http://www.bandshed.net/AVLinux.html ), which is quite good (good enough that Harrison Consoles endorses it for running the Linux version of their professional audio DAW product, Mixbus. If you've never heard of Harrison, you've heard audio mixed through Harrison consoles; major albums, like Michael Jackson's Thriller, were and are mixed on Harrison consoles).


BTW, running a MIDI player in WINE gets it right.

Now this is interesting. If WINE sees the device, the Linux kernel sees the device; it's the libraries that your MIDI player uses that doesn't.

This is at one time the greatest weakness and greatest strength of a typical Linux distribution; it's like putting together a 'parts' PC rather than just getting a Dell or an HP that's already put together. It's more of a project; and some prefer that.

But if 'DLL Hell' on Windows XP bothered you, then a typical Linux distribution will give you nightmares, that much is true.

The layers of device support under Windows are somewhat hidden from view; in a typical Linux distribution the admin of the system has to be aware of the layers (just because the kernel has a driver does not mean the desktop environment can use the device, for instance).

lowen
April 26th, 2014, 05:42 AM
...You do have to jump through some minor hoops to get multimedia fully working, due to RH strict adherence to GPL only software in their distribution repos.

Let me address this for a minute.

You can purchase completely legal and licensed multimedia codecs for Linux through a company by the name of Fluendo ( http://www.fluendo.com/ ). This includes a functional, if spartan, DVD player application.

I realize most people just download and install VLC or similar, but if you want (or need) to be legal you need licensed codecs, and Fluendo has them.

Also, not all software in RH's repos is GPL. Open source, yes, but not GPL. An example is PostgreSQL, which has a BSD license.

Hatta
April 26th, 2014, 06:50 AM
Now this is interesting. If WINE sees the device, the Linux kernel sees the device; it's the libraries that your MIDI player uses that doesn't.


Yeah, that's an application problem. Something changed in the configuation of PulseAudio or something else so Audacious doesn't know which device to send MIDI to. Run 'pmidi -l', you should see your device in the list. Configure Audacious to use that device and it should work fine.

These kinds of audio problems are sadly characteristic of Linux and have been for years. Not a hardware problem, people just can't agree on what sort of audio system to use. ALSA, Pulse, OSS, Jack, Gstreamer, whatever. That's one of the more attractive characteristics of the BSDs. They have OSS4 in the kernel, and it just works.

lowen
April 26th, 2014, 07:35 AM
...That's one of the more attractive characteristics of the BSDs. They have OSS4 in the kernel, and it just works.

Yeah, I was once a customer of 4Front, back when that was the only game in town for an Ensoniq AudioPCI (before Creative bought it).

And that was the core problem, really, for the Open Sound System; it went proprietary and alternatives were made. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSS4#Free.2C_proprietary.2C_free Had OSS never been proprietary things might be different today in terms of audio on Linux. I'm glad it's now BSD licensed.

Now, JACK has a different purpose in life, and that is guaranteed latency. It works fine with various backends, including OSS and ALSA. When you do overdubs you want low-latency, but you absolutely must have consistent latency, and JACK does this. For other uses JACK is overkill, but if you need JACK, you really need JACK.

Pulse is a whole different species, and for serious audio work just gets in the way. For normal playback purposes it's, well, underkill.

Chuck(G)
April 26th, 2014, 08:50 AM
I also find it interesting that, although, there's a fine typesetting package (lilypond) that's been around for years under Linux, there are only half-baked and problematic transcription front ends. Windows has several decent ones (Finale and Sibelius being the prime examples), but MuseScore on Linux is a regular nightmare. I routinely work with orchestral scores and while I like the look of Lilypond scores, I'd sooner chew my own leg off than use MuseScore or Rosegarden. "Awkward" and "buggy" doesn't even begin to describe them.

So, am I missing something obvious? Or do I keep running Sibelius in VBox? This isn't a matter of free software--I'd happily pay for a good product; I've done that for years already.

lowen
April 26th, 2014, 09:28 AM
..
So, am I missing something obvious? Or do I keep running Sibelius in VBox? This isn't a matter of free software--I'd happily pay for a good product; I've done that for years already.

You're missing something obvious.

:-)

To the MuseScore and Rosegarden developers, their software works fine; open source is and has always been about the freedom to program to your own liking.

If you want an interesting experience, try doing some nonlinear video editing with the extraordinarily powerful cinelerra package; the author likes it, and uses it. It's not an easy package.

However, if you get a major manufacturer/developer behind something, such as Harrison in the case of Mixbus, you can see a fine but not exactly friendly open source package like Ardour turned it into something far more polished, in the case of Mixbus. I use Mixbus every week to do audio production, and it's smooth. At least in my workflow. But your mileage may vary. Ardour 3 has MIDI workflows, but not direct notation transcription as yet.

In open source, the developers scratch their own itch, so to speak, and while many developers are sympathetic to other users' needs it boils down to the program being what they need. In pure open source, that is. Commercial interests warp this a bit; now, if you could get someone to bankroll a rosegarden cleanup (de-thorning?) you probably could get what you want.

Open source quality is so spotty simply because each program is something of an island; some packages simply have better developers than others. But this is true with commercial software, too.

Chuck(G)
April 26th, 2014, 09:48 AM
Open source quality is so spotty simply because each program is something of an island; some packages simply have better developers than others. But this is true with commercial software, too.

For this purpose, I'm not especially interested in open sources. Both the owners of Finale and Sibelus, have, over the years, refused to consider any sort of *nix hosting--but they do offer Mac OS X versions. Heck, Sibelius started off on the Archimedes Acorn. They both get the request several times a year and say that there are no plans, nor are they interested. They're not particularly interested in file interchange between the two products either, although it can be accomplished after a fashion.

So what's the perception of Linux/BSD in the world of commercial software? Is it that there's too much variation? Or do they not want to end up supporting the quirks of the various Linux versions?

lowen
April 26th, 2014, 01:05 PM
...
So what's the perception of Linux/BSD in the world of commercial software? Is it that there's too much variation? Or do they not want to end up supporting the quirks of the various Linux versions?

I'll put on an old hat; I built commercial RPM packages of a particular open source database for a commercial enterprise back in 2000. The scene hasn't changed much, other than feeping creaturism. So what I say below is what I learned from first-hand experience supporting commercial packages on several Linux distributions. Also, while I'm much more familiar with commercial server applications, many of the same issues arise with server apps as do with desktop apps, even though I know you're more interested in desktop apps.

Variation is a problem; support more of a problem, especially for users who insist on installing key pieces of the system from source but don't tell the vendor but blame the vendor when the software doesn't run.

Commercial software vendors of course vary in their Linux support, if they support it at all. Server software will typically specify 'Red Hat Enterprise Linux' or 'SuSE Enterprise Linux Server.' The desktop gold standards are one of the LTS Ubuntu flavors, SuSE Enterprise Linux Desktop, or RHEL Desktop. Progressive Networks (now RealNetworks) supported Red Hat Linux as one of the server platforms back in 1997 when I brought an internet radio station online for a client; the choices can be found archived at https://web.archive.org/web/19961220190754/http://www.realaudio.com/products/server/technical.html and at that point in time Red Hat Linux fit the bill for me after doing due diligence (the application/webserver I wanted was the old Naviserver product; the only affordable solution that covered both RealAudio Server and Naviserver (soon to known as GNNserver and then AOLserver) was Red Hat Linux. Naviserver, by the way, was the very first commercial multithreaded webserver, back in 1995. We are on the Vintage Computer Forums, right? Well, 1995 is definitely vintage as far as web software goes!

There are exceptions; Harrison will support just about any Linux that has reasonable audio. They do that by statically linking libraries and building dependencies themselves.

The variations and churn in the Linux distributions are both a gift and a curse: a gift in that you have choice; a curse in that you have possibly too much choice.

Having said that, I have (or have had) and run (or ran) the following commercial software, both server-side, and desktop-side:
The aforementioned RealAudio (later RealG2 and then Helix) server on RHL.
The aforementioned Naviserver/GNNserver/AOLserver on RHL connecting to a Postgres95 (later PostgreSQL 6.5) database.
Scalix e-mail server: best supported on RHEL and CentOS.
Draftsight CAD: universal support, and a wonderful example of a desktop package done right.
Fluendo DVD Player: universal support, special packages for Ubuntu/Debian and RPM systems.
Fluendo GStreamer codecs: universal support, special packages for Ubuntu/Debian and RPM system.
QCAD 2D CAD: Windows, OS X, and several Linux distributions. Now available mostly open source as well.
Harrison Mixbus: best supported on AVLinux, works on CentOS and others. Built on the Ardour open source DAW.
Matlab: old version ran beautifully on an older CentOS.
LABview: older version, but preferred RHEL or similar.
Codeweavers' CrossOver: supports basically all Linux (Crossover is a commercially supported WINE and can run lots of Windows software natively on Linux)
VMware Workstation: older version (I use KVM on CentOS at the moment) but was pretty much universal in support.

But it's hit and miss with commercial vendors, too. One commercial vendor that shall remain nameless (since they're no longer around) did a Linux port of their quite popular Windows program, but did it by embedding WINE in it (it acted drunk, too!).

I hope that's helpful, and I'm a bit sorry for the length.

Doug G
April 26th, 2014, 03:33 PM
Also, not all software in RH's repos is GPL. Open source, yes, but not GPL. An example is PostgreSQL, which has a BSD license.

Sorry I wash't specific enough, I should have said gpl-compatible license as in http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html

Chuck(G)
April 26th, 2014, 03:42 PM
Well, maybe I'll revisit Red Hat just to see if their stuff has stood the test of time.

I still like OpenBSD for servers; no frills and carefully controlled source. But I'd hardly put that in a desktop environment.

tingo
April 27th, 2014, 10:57 AM
I mean to try a 32-bit PCBSD (probably 9.1) distro. Judging from what I've read, it may actually be faster than the 64-bit 10.0.
Interesting. Please report your findings here.



Right now, my current recommendation is that if you don't live in the Linux world and want to move from Windows, try Ubuntu with XFCE or LXDE, or Xubuntu/Lubuntu (which is pretty much the same thing).
FWIW, Xubuntu is what I use when I have to use Linux. Comes down to XFCE (I prefer that over the other alternatives, and it is quite stable, unlike flavor-of-the-year Ubuntu) and that it works, or I can make it work if something fails.

Most of my machines run FreeBSD (mostly 8.4-stable, but some 9.2-stable, and a few test machines with 10.0-release or -stable) since it is the poison I am accustomed to.
My laptop runs Xubuntu (checking; 12.04.4 LTS) mostly because it has "switchable graphics" (read: nVidia Optimus), but also for battery life (with external gfx turned off I get almost 6 hours on battery). It is also very handy to have to have a Linux machine when I just want to test something quickly which doesn't work out-of-the-box on FreeBSD.

vwestlife
April 27th, 2014, 12:53 PM
I'm currently trying out "AV Linux" (based on Debian, with the Xfce desktop UI), and I noticed a couple of problems right away:

* When I first boot up, it offers to connect me to my wireless network, but does not do so automatically, and if I ignore or dismiss that pop-up, I could not find any obvious button or drop-down menu icon (such as the universal "radio waves" symbol) in the task bar to get back to the WiFi settings later.

* Upon startup, it shows another pop-up offering to download something called "Wine Mono", but when I click OK, it just sits there saying "Downloading..." forever, without giving me any indication that it is impossible to download the file because it has not connected me to my WiFi (see above).

* My computer has a built-in SD card reader, and Linux does support it, but when changing cards, it refuses to show the contents of the new card unless I reboot. Even after clicking "eject" and/or "safely remove", it still shows the contents of the old card.

* In the Open File dialog box, there are no buttons to go back or up one level, so if you make a mistake in navigating the folder structure, you have to start all over at the root directory of the drive.

* Double-clicking the control menu does not close a window, and double-clicking the title bar does not maximize or restore a window. Maybe most people don't use these tricks, but I do, and it's annoying to not have them work in a modern PC GUI.

* Files I saved to the desktop were lost after rebooting. Maybe that's because I was running the "live DVD" version, but I did run it from a bootable SD card, so I assumed that it would be able to retain saved data, or at least warn me upon shutting down or restarting if it wouldn't.

Ole Juul
April 27th, 2014, 10:55 PM
I don't think that AV Linux is a good choice. It is very specialized and requires stuff that is not generally needed on a common desktop system. There's likely also not a lot of people working on it. I tried it some time ago and it was not usable. Linux sound systems are notoriously broken so I had high hopes too. I do understand that they've gotten a second wind, but it's still probably a small group. If you're serious about getting it all working, I'd hook up with them. It could save a lot of time. :)

As for saving files. I suspect that it is by design that a live distro doesn't save files. That's just good security if you're using it for banking and such. I have seen live disks be able to do that though, but it was a special setup. Yes, this is not a "desktop system" by design, but they've doubtless taken most of the stuff from elsewhere and not had resources to change stuff that might be nice to change. Again, a few people can only do so much.

By the way, I think you're generally better off setting up networking by hand and not using a GUI. I'm not really into Linux these days, but it used to be that the first piece of advice to those with network woes was to uninstall the networkmanger and just get on with it. It's only a few entries and info is all around, or you can ask on a forum like LinuxQuestions.org. Perhaps GUI network setup has changed, but I'm just sayin'. :)

Ole Juul
April 28th, 2014, 12:27 AM
An old guy has specifically asked me for a Linux replacement, so I just now ran a live xubuntu-12.04.4-desktop-i386 on an XP aged machine. It all seemed to work well. Of course to be a complete success, I'll have to install it on his system to see if I can get printing and scanning to work with whatever peripherals he has. By XP aged, I'm talking about an Intel D915 MB with 3 GB ram in this test case. I'd expect most machines needing upgrading to have the same 10 year old hardware specs. My friend's computer is about that age.

I've never tried Abiword before, but it looks a lot like anything else, and I see it can save as a .pdf, so it's probably all one needs for office work which my friend does a lot of. He'll want a spreadsheet too, and I didn't check that yet. Anyway, the test will be if I can convince this old long time XP user that it's fine. Perhaps I'll have to give him a whack upside the head to get a positive response. . . . but whatever it takes. :) The only alternative that I can see is to buy a new machine.

lowen
April 28th, 2014, 06:54 AM
Well, maybe I'll revisit Red Hat just to see if their stuff has stood the test of time.


FWIW, they weathered the Great Recession quite well, so they have to be doing something right. CentOS is probably the single most popular Linux for servers out there, and that's essentially Red Hat's work (CentOS aims to be 'bug-compatible' with RHEL after all).


I still like OpenBSD for servers; no frills and carefully controlled source. But I'd hardly put that in a desktop environment.

I've used OpenBSD on a number of systems, and while it is a bit different from the typical Linux distribution, it's not so different that skills aren't portable. I would use it on an old (but not yet vintage) DEC AlphaServer 2100, but the SMP support on Sable isn't the best in the world, and when you have 4 275MHz EV45's in the box you really do want to use all four. Yeah, OpenVMS works fine on the box, but I'm not a VMS-head. Nor do I want to pull out the Windows 2000 beta for Alpha that I have from an old MSDN subscription......

There again, it really goes back to answering the question "what do I need the system to really DO" when it comes to replacing XP, as one size does not fit all when it comes to Linux or BSD.

lowen
April 28th, 2014, 07:11 AM
I'm currently trying out "AV Linux" (based on Debian, with the Xfce desktop UI), and I noticed a couple of problems right away:

Well, that's more than a couple.... :-)


* When I first boot up, it offers to connect me to my wireless network, but does not do so automatically, and if I ignore or dismiss that pop-up, I could not find any obvious button or drop-down menu icon (such as the universal "radio waves" symbol) in the task bar to get back to the WiFi settings later....

While I am using AVLinux 5.0.3 (I know 6.0.3 is out.....) for a church to do recording, it doesn't have a network connection, so I can't help you there. Have you asked in the AVLinux forums?


...snip....

On the SD card and the Open File dialog, I haven't had issues, but that's again with the older LXDE-based 5.0.3.


* Double-clicking the control menu does not close a window, and double-clicking the title bar does not maximize or restore a window. Maybe most people don't use these tricks, but I do, and it's annoying to not have them work in a modern PC GUI.

I don't know if XFCE can do that at all, and I've never used those tricks. But you could ask the XFCE developers and see if they would support it.


* Files I saved to the desktop were lost after rebooting. Maybe that's because I was running the "live DVD" version, but I did run it from a bootable SD card, so I assumed that it would be able to retain saved data, or at least warn me upon shutting down or restarting if it wouldn't.

You have to install it to a drive in order to get saving. Even when used as a USB stick or SD or whatever it's set to read-only as long as it's on LIVE media. This is typical behavior from a Live system, and remastersys' created Live media is no exception. I can build a USB stick or other flash media using specific tools that will create the overlay filesystems that some Live media can use, but not with the straight Live media made by remastersys.

As Ole Juul says below your post, AVLinux is a very specialized distribution, hand-tuned and especially made for multimedia content creation. It is not a general-purpose Linux, but it is a great example of just how specialized things can be. There are better general purpose XFCE-base distributions out there; but very few support the easy low-latency audio setup that AVLinux does, when you need that specific type of setup.

As I mentioned, I set up a church with a recording/playback PC using AVLinux 5.0.3. The audio device is an Maudio Delta 1010LT, not your typical sound card. I have Audacity set up to automatically record and play back from two channels on the 1010LT, but the default LXDE playback device is two different channels, and I have the various ins and outs wired to separate channels on the mixing console; if I tried to do this with any other Linux distribution I would be pulling my hair out. But AVLinux just did what I told it to do, and it's been doing that for this church for nearly two years now.

If doing this type of work with XP, AVLinux would be a great replacement. But it's not general purpose.

lowen
April 28th, 2014, 07:33 AM
An old guy has specifically asked me for a Linux replacement, ...
I've never tried Abiword before, but it looks a lot like anything else, and I see it can save as a .pdf, so it's probably all one needs for office work which my friend does a lot of.

Abiword is pretty good, and I support a client who has used it to write several books that have been published. This is hard, by the way, as publishers really really want you to use Microsoft Word so that they can use their preferred workflow with edits marked up; this particular lady was able to convince them to send her marked up PDF's from their import of the RTF that she sent to them. It definitely uses less resources than LibreOffice Writer.


He'll want a spreadsheet too, and I didn't check that yet.

See https://wiki.xfce.org/recommendedapps

The recommended 'lightweight' spreadsheet is GNUmeric, and I've used it before. Much lighter weight than LibreOffice Calc, but fewer features and less compatibility, too.

You could of course pull in LibreOffice, but it's anything but lightweight, but a D915 with 3GB probably has the horsepower to run it reasonably well. I'm running some Pentium M laptops with 2GB of RAM and a 2GHz processor, and they can pull LibreOffice up pretty quickly.



Anyway, the test will be if I can convince this old long time XP user that it's fine. ...

Good luck with it.

However, if a D915 with 3GB is what you have, Windows 7 will run reasonably well on that hardware. The oldest box I've run 7 on is a P4 with a D915 chipset and 2GB of RAM, and it's running as a telescope controller and running well (but the video is pretty clunky, and there's no Aero). I've also run 7 on Dell Latitude D610 laptops with 2GB of RAM and 2GHz Pentium M processors; the ATI video on those is supported with an update from Microsoft, and they run pretty smoothly. Also, 7 ran pretty well on a Netburst-era 32-bit Xeon, 1.6GHz, in a Dell Precision 650 here, with an AGP ATI Radeon 9700 video card. The 9700 got a score of over 3 on the 'Windows Experience' index, and Aero was enabled. It was about the same speed as XP on that platform, which is to say that it wasn't really fast by today's standards, but it was usable.

I ran Fedora 12 on one of those Dell D610's, and it was very usable. As CentOS 6 is based on that particular Fedora (with backported security fixes, of course, and a much newer Firefox and Thunderbird) I would expect CentOS to run well, with a non-PAE kernel on certain processors. XFCE-based distributions run even better.

Just a few more data points.

Chuck(G)
April 28th, 2014, 08:38 AM
PCBSD 32 bit 9.1---my reaction is "forget it". I downloaded the DVD ISO, plugged it into the test machine and the bootloader screen came up, the little twirly (the "/|\" display) and the display froze with the floppy LED on. The DVD is fine; the machine still boots into PCBSD 10.1--nothing has changed in the hardware setup.

Good grief, if the installer can't even boot, why should anyone even bother?

Eudimorphodon
April 28th, 2014, 09:20 AM
FreeBSD seems not to have drivers for the Linksys/Broadcom WIFI NIC--I could locate inquiries on the Web, but reports of a successful installation. OTOH, the Linuces ran the Linksys card just fine, once you downloaded the firmware for it.

Completely distribution-agnostic (heck, OS-agnostic) comment:

If you're looking at converting an XP/Vista-era laptop to Linux and you have the option a small favor you can do for yourself is to swap out the all-too-common Broadcom-based 802.11 wireless for an Atheros-based Mini-PCI/PCIe card.

Most of the Atheros cards don't require a firmware wad and the driver/hardware is at least in my experience far superior. (Early 802.11g Broadcom cards seem to have problems under every OS, including XP.) I'll grant the "non-free firmware" thing isn't as much of a problem as it used to be, as most of the friendly desktop-oriented *nixes either come with the firmware on the disk or make it reasonably easy to download it as part of the installation (although there's still the obvious chicken-and-the-egg problem if you want to do the initial setup over wireless) but it's one less headache. The Atheros card in my Dell D600 came out of a discarded Netgear WAP but similar cards can be had on eBay for $10 or less, and even plain-old "we really don't like blobs, if you want them you have to make the effort" Debian works wirelessly out of the box with it.

(I also know the FreeBSD developers for the longest time heavily favored the Atheros cards; I used to work with one around the time the current wireless/WPA supplicant subsystem was under construction.)

Chuck(G)
April 28th, 2014, 09:30 AM
Yes, but now you're talking about buying hardware. I've got a Linksys USB Wifi NIC and there is no BSD support for it either.

The point is that part of this exercise is to see how well the various *nix versions will fit in with earlier minimal hardware that's most likely to be indicative of someone holding onto hardware rather than contributing to e-waste needlessly. (Heck, I still have old Linksys Wireless-B cards. To be perfectly frank, my internet connection (the only one available to me) wouldn't even tax a 10Base2 network's capacity).

vwestlife
April 28th, 2014, 09:48 AM
As Ole Juul says below your post, AVLinux is a very specialized distribution, hand-tuned and especially made for multimedia content creation.

I chose AV Linux because I wanted to see just how bad Linux is for video editing. :) I tried the OpenShot video editor, which claims to be "just as easy to use as Windows Movie Maker". It is indeed simple and functional, but also severely limited; it has no support for deinterlacing or aspect ratio scaling, making it useless for most of my video cameras. And when you save a video file, it has no pre-defined formats, forcing you to manually choose the video and audio codecs from a bewildering array of choices, some of which are only identified by incomprehensible alphanumeric strings (such as "WV32b4A1X" or something equally unintelligible to humans). On the positive side, it at least tried to work with any kind of video file I threw at it (even if the aspect ratio came out wrong or it had interlacing artifacts, at least it didn't reject the file), and it never crashed on me.

Next to try is Kdenlive, which I hear crashes a lot, so I shall see if it lives up to its reputation...

Eudimorphodon
April 28th, 2014, 10:16 AM
The point is that part of this exercise is to see how well the various *nix versions will fit in with earlier minimal hardware that's most likely to be indicative of someone holding onto hardware rather than contributing to e-waste needlessly.

Yeah, I totally understand that. I was just tossing it out there as a cheap (or possibly free, depending on your pack-rat-ery) fix to an annoying problem; those Broadcom wifi cards seriously need to die. (It's sort of like having an ugly wart on your foot: you can live with it by cutting a hole in the insole of every pair of shoes you own, or you can burn that sucker off.)

Alas, I'll totally acknowledge you can run into *far* worse problems that don't have such easy fixes. I eventually gave up on Linux on my HP 2133 Mini-Note (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_2133_Mini-Note_PC), which ironically shipped with a specially hacked-up version of SUSE on it, because the drivers for the various Via chipset devices are such a steaming mess. Perhaps the situation has improved in the last three years (I dunno, since giving up I only use the machine rarely under XP to play with microcontroller boards) but at the time there were no less than three different ways to drive the video card and each one had its own set of annoying limitations. Luckily most laptops have no where near the problems of this particular unit but there is some hardware out there that is just so Linux unfriendly that your best option might be to cut your losses and give up on it.

(That particularly applies in cases where replacing said hardware with something that is fully supported and very likely superior in performance costs somewhere between "free" and "still less than a Windows license". Granted opinions can reasonably differ on that, it depends what your time is worth.)

lowen
April 28th, 2014, 10:51 AM
I chose AV Linux because I wanted to see just how bad Linux is for video editing. :) ...

If you're a pro, the one to try is Cinelerra. It's very functional, but not very user-friendly.

Chuck(G)
April 28th, 2014, 11:08 AM
Alas, I'll totally acknowledge you can run into *far* worse problems that don't have such easy fixes. I eventually gave up on Linux on my HP 2133 Mini-Note (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_2133_Mini-Note_PC), which ironically shipped with a specially hacked-up version of SUSE on it, because the drivers for the various Via chipset devices are such a steaming mess. Perhaps the situation has improved in the last three years

I think that you'll find that most Linuces don't even support the VIA chipset anymore--at least the IDE controller. I made that rather unpleasant discovery when upgrading Debian versions a couple of years ago. They just flippin' dropped support--since most Linuces now use the standard Torvald-approved kernel, you're pretty much left with the BSDs. Edit--I think that some of the more obscure and less-up-to-date distros of Linux still do--DSL maybe?

Eudimorphodon
April 28th, 2014, 11:53 AM
I'll have to try booting the 2133 with my lxde Debian "livecd" USB key and see what it makes of it. I think the SATA controller was about the only thing that *didn't* require excessive fiddling to make work properly. (There's also a couple of those C3/Eden Mini-ITX boards out in the garage, I'm curious about them as well. If they've really been orphaned by mainstream Debian that's pretty sad. Good thing the only use I was pondering for one of them was as a DOS box for running an old EPROM burner that needs a parallel port.)

tingo
April 28th, 2014, 12:20 PM
I don't know if XFCE can do that at all, and I've never used those tricks. But you could ask the XFCE developers and see if they would support it.


Sure it can. Look in Settings.
General comment: you know, if you want to try out a new system (no matter what the system might be), you really should spend more than five minutes on it before screaming "it doesn't work the way I want, I give up!". Be bold, explore a little.

vwestlife
April 28th, 2014, 02:00 PM
Sure it can. Look in Settings.
General comment: you know, if you want to try out a new system (no matter what the system might be), you really should spend more than five minutes on it before screaming "it doesn't work the way I want, I give up!". Be bold, explore a little.

Blaming the user is never a good way to get them to like an operating system.

If I wasn't bold and willing to explore, I never would've tried Linux in the first place. I gave my candid first impressions, and I appreciate constructive feedback, but your response is not constructive.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, if a GUI purposely makes its window title bar and controls look like Windows, then those features should act like Windows, too. I don't expect the title bar and window controls in Mac OS or BeOS or AmigaOS to act like Windows, because they look totally different; but XFCE's window controls are a virtual carbon copy of the Windows 95-2000 controls, so it was only natural for me to expect them to act the same way.

And if an operating system requires users to dig into the control panel -- or worse yet, break out to a command prompt -- just to get the WiFi working, then it is a failure.

SpidersWeb
April 28th, 2014, 03:08 PM
Yeah I thought your review was quite accurate for an 'average user' and pointed out some failings that others didn't see. With all the progress made in the last decades, we shouldn't need to read a manual to work out how to accomplish basic tasks. I work out the intuitive nature of an OS by how many times I need to go to google. For me Windows 8.1 failed, but Mac OS X passed (can't compare Win7 because I use it all the time, not really fair).

Might be worth trying out a proper disk install of more popular distributions like Ubuntu or Linux Mint to test for an XP replacement.
I'd hope they're more user experience focused (I haven't actually done a GUI install with the latest stuff). For games it might be worth checking out Steam for Linux as well.

I have a potential machine next to me, but it's not mine, need to dig up a spare P4 or Core2 Duo I can take home and abuse.

MikeS
April 28th, 2014, 03:55 PM
Blaming the user is never a good way to get them to like an operating system.

If I wasn't bold and willing to explore, I never would've tried Linux in the first place. I gave my candid first impressions, and I appreciate constructive feedback, but your response is not constructive.Having read and participated in this and two other similar threads recently I have come to believe that there is an inner circle of Linux defenders (Knights of the Circular Buffer?) who have had to swear an oath of allegiance along these lines:


In response to any public criticism of any aspect of the many versions of Linux, Unix and 'nix workalikes, I swear to:

1 - Never offer constructive feedback because that might lend legitimacy to the original criticism and person doing the criticizing.
2 - Divert the thread by criticizing an irrelevant flaw in Windows.
3 - Refute the criticism by citing a (possibly apocryphal) case where a non-techie (perhaps even with only half a brain) did not have the problem.
4 - Turn the criticism of a (perceived) OS flaw into an ad hominem criticism of the person who dared to criticize; favorite tools are:
a - Impugn their intelligence (i.e. anyone claiming to have computer skills who has this difficulty is being disingenuous).
b - Hyperbole: use lots of exaggerating words like 'screaming', 'hysterical' etc.
c - Purposely misquoting and distorting; e.g. turn a phrase like "could not be bothered to" (a valid choice) into "could not" (dummy; see 4a)

Appendix: Of course if the original criticism came from Linus Torvalds or another member of this clique, it is to be ignored and glossed over.
That's all I've been able to work out so far; if anyone has actually seen a copy of this document I'd love to see it, but I expect the penalties for divulging any part of it are probably severe.

Still, once you know that they're only doing their sacred duty it makes the BS easier to deal with.

:rofl:

vwestlife
April 28th, 2014, 04:24 PM
Following Tingo's rather sharp-tongued advice, I did look in Settings -> Window Manager -> Advanced, and it turns out that "Double click action" is already set to "Maximize window" by default; however, it is a known bug in XFCE that this does not work unless you slow down the mouse's double-click timing:

http://bugs.launchpad.net/xfwm4/+bug/393672

I changed the double-click timing from 250 ms to 400 ms, and now double-clicking on the title bar and control menu works.

I also found the task bar menu for the wireless; its icon is a nealy invisible black-on-dark-gray "unplugged cable" symbol when the WiFi is not connected -- and even when connected, the signal strength bars are also nearly invisible due to the horrible color scheme. I could not find any kind of network settings in the main settings menu, so appears that this task bar icon is the only way to get to it. So it works fine, but the task bar icon needs major improvement in visibility.

I wanted to post a screen shot to show just how invisible that WiFi icon is, but it turns out that I would need to type "sudo apt-get install xfce4-screenshooter-plugin" at the command prompt to get the hit-PrtSc-to-take-a-screen-shot feature to work. Why is this not enabled by default, and why is there no way to enable it from within the GUI? It has only been a standard feature of Windows since, oh, 1990 or so...

Eudimorphodon
April 28th, 2014, 04:42 PM
Gee, it's good to know that this thread is managing to steer well clear of having nasty unhelpful stereotypes that don't contribute to the conversation whatsoever being thrown around.

MikeS
April 28th, 2014, 04:51 PM
Gee, it's good to know that this thread is managing to steer well clear of having nasty unhelpful stereotypes that don't contribute to the conversation whatsoever being thrown around.Ah yes, welcome! Forgot the part about "don't display the slightest trace of a sense of humor!" and the "Guide to the most effective use of sarcasm"; thanks! Well done, especially bringing in a word like "nasty".

IMO by definition it's actually certain parts of the Linux community who are the basis of any stereotypes...

EOF

Eudimorphodon
April 28th, 2014, 05:09 PM
You did read your own post, right? Eh, whatever. Don't worry, personally I think it's absolutely hilarious. ;)

(Still wondering exactly how it contributes to the discussion as it seems like for the most part this thread has included at least one mostly on-topic and relevant fact, observation, or opinion per post, but there's nothing like a little random trolling to break the monotony I guess.)

vwestlife
April 28th, 2014, 05:14 PM
Good news: Changing SD cards is now working; the contents of the new card are now properly recognized. I don't know why it wasn't the first time around; I didn't change any settings.

Bad news: There is no way to set the time and date from within the GUI! :confused: For some reason, Linux changed my time zone, so now the clock is 4 hours ahead (set to UTC, it seems). Double-clicking on the clock in the task bar does nothing, and right-clicking on it and choosing Properties only brings up settings regarding the appearance of the clock, not its current setting. And typing "man date" into the terminal to figure out how to set the date just makes me chuckle. :)

MikeS
April 28th, 2014, 05:19 PM
You did read your own post, right? Eh, whatever. Don't worry, personally I think it's absolutely hilarious. ;)That was my objective, including ironic fight sarcasm with sarcasm.


(Still wondering exactly how it contributes to the discussion as it seems like for the most part this thread has included at least one mostly on-topic and relevant fact, observation, or opinion per post, but there's nothing like a little random trolling to break the monotony I guess.)I was just commenting on the fact that almost every thread like this sooner or later turns personal; it's an operating system for goodness' sake.

And what are you contributing aside from maintaining and escalating the ridiculous interpersonal tension? If you really must continue the personal insults, whatever, why not meet me off-forum; PMs always welcome.

Eudimorphodon
April 28th, 2014, 06:27 PM
And what are you contributing aside from maintaining and escalating the ridiculous interpersonal tension? If you really must continue the personal insults, whatever, why not meet me off-forum; PMs always welcome.

Well, I'd ask you the same since your post appears to have been triggered by a tiny miscommunication of tone between two unrelated parties and was as worded pretty insulting and way out of left field. Look, if we want to have a "yo momma so fat" contest pitting our collective "thin skinned reactionary Linux Zealot" and "Loudmouthed xenophobic over-entitled crybaby Windows victim" stereotypes against each other I'm sure it'd be a laugh riot but must they *really* be inserted into otherwise irrelevant conversations?

(Perhaps if we really spent time deconstructing those two stereotypes we might discover that A: both are in fact based to some degree in truth but, B: there's not a whole lot to be gained in reinforcing them by repeatedly invoking them because C: all that does is polarize the conversation, driving everyone out of the center towards the extremes.)

If you really want to discuss it in PM I'm open to it. Really, I have no grudge with you personally and I hope at some point this blows over. I understand you had an issue with my tone in the other thread, but regardless of whether I think your impression was completely fair or not I'd rather it not contribute to a poisonous atmosphere around here.

Ole Juul
April 28th, 2014, 07:27 PM
Anyway . . . . .

----------------------------

I had PC-BSD on my partner's machine for almost a year. In fact I really put some effort into getting to like it, and a lot of advocacy besides. Even then, I finally gave up on it. To my way of thinking, the idea of FreeBSD with well integrated KDE is an obviously good idea. However, they seem to want to add their own layer of "user friendliness" which I found seriously annoying and rubs the same irritation that made me give up on Linux after all those years.

Things are no doubt better a year later, but there is a serious lack of development support for PC-BSD. The fact that one might be corresponding with the head developer (on the forum) about getting a printer driver to work should tell you something. I still believe it's a good concept, but OS development is a small world with few resources. In the end I decided to go with FreeBSD based on two things: the architectural stability (compared to Linux), and the access to free professional support in their forum. Actually, there is a third, and that is the presence of the (mostly) up-to-date and easy to use manual. If anybody's interested, it's called the FreeBSD Handbook (https://www.freebsd.org/doc/handbook/). The handbook also (mostly) works for PC-BSD.

Chuck(G)
April 28th, 2014, 09:00 PM
Ole, in a sense I can see your point. But really, FeeBSD needs to borrow applications from Linux, it seems. (I do know about the Linux compatibility layer, but it's far from perfect). FreeBSD 10.0 for x64 really upset me with its slow speed--perhaps there are some bugs in it, but we'll have to wait and see. I don't think that the FreeBSD user base is growing much, if at all.

A small, tightly-coordinated group of developers isn't bad. OpenBSD works well as a server platform and I don't think it's being peddled at much else.

Right now, Ubuntu seems like a good move, but support for legacy Windows applications is the tough nut. I still find myself dodging to XP on VBox one or two times a day. Maybe that will improve also.

Ole Juul
April 28th, 2014, 10:28 PM
Ole, in a sense I can see your point. But really, FeeBSD needs to borrow applications from Linux, it seems. (I do know about the Linux compatibility layer, but it's far from perfect). FreeBSD 10.0 for x64 really upset me with its slow speed--perhaps there are some bugs in it, but we'll have to wait and see. I don't think that the FreeBSD user base is growing much, if at all.

A small, tightly-coordinated group of developers isn't bad. OpenBSD works well as a server platform and I don't think it's being peddled at much else.

Right now, Ubuntu seems like a good move, but support for legacy Windows applications is the tough nut. I still find myself dodging to XP on VBox one or two times a day. Maybe that will improve also.

FreeBSD is only good for someone like you who has high level skills, or someone like me who is boneheaded. :) I like the idea of keeping a stash of textfiles with command line arguments that I've used, chosen, or otherwise should remember (but can't). Over time, it seems that not much changes to make my notes obsolete. That's just a way of working. I certainly wouldn't recommend FreeBSD to most people - including computer types. It's either going to be way too much work to get some professional application running, or it's just going to bite you somehow. I'm OK with that. Most people aren't.

Yes, FreeBSD leans heavily on Linux apps and the compatibility layer is not perfect. That said, there certainly is a very large (the largest?) number of programs that will (or can be made to) run.

As for FreeBSD 10.0 x64, I'm still running 9.2-RELEASE (amd64). I heard about some of the problems coming down the pipe so I just stayed put. One thing I notice about FreeBSD though, is that the developers tend to concentrate on the more important (non GUI) stuff so as not to spread themselves too thin. They seem to have a "first things first" philosophy.

It is clear to me though, that FreeBSD will never be a replacement for XP, nor will it ever be "ready for the desktop" in the common sense of that meaning. I personally think it is the best thing since sliced bread - but I would recommend it to no one.

lowen
April 29th, 2014, 05:31 AM
Good news: Changing SD cards is now working; the contents of the new card are now properly recognized. I don't know why it wasn't the first time around; I didn't change any settings.


That's both good news and bad news. Good, in that it's working. Bad, in that since you don't know why it is now working, it may stop working and you won't know why then, either.


Bad news: There is no way to set the time and date from within the GUI! ...

I was wondering if that had been fixed in 6, as in 5.0.3 I haven't taken the time to find an easy way to do that either. I worked around it by setting the time in the BIOS setup to UTC. Yeah, less than elegant, and that is one of my peeves with AVLinux. But it's a peeve I'm willing to work with, since the main job of the system isn't to keep time but to do great recordings and serious audio production, and it does that very well, at least in my application. If it becomes annoying enough to me I'll look at it, and if I find out I'll let you know; in the mean time, if you were to happen to find a way to do that please PM me and let me know.

Chuck(G)
April 29th, 2014, 10:41 AM
Probably not on the desktop, but with the inclusion of OpenZFS and its use by FreeNAS, it is getting traction in the server/storage space.

Yes, pretty much what Ole said regarding desktop use.

Caluser2000
April 29th, 2014, 10:52 AM
There's a LTS 2.x version of Puppy Linux that might be usefull on older kit http://puppylinux.org/wikka/LegacyOS
Seem genuinely interested in keeping 10yo+ boxes functional as desktop machines. Hell, you never know, there may even be a way you can change thet date/time in the gui even....

vwestlife
April 29th, 2014, 11:44 AM
Seem genuinely interested in keeping 10yo+ boxes functional as desktop machines.

That's not nearly as compelling of an argument as it might've been a decade ago. In 2014, a 10-year-old Pentium III running XP is still useful for plenty of things, but in 2004, a 10-year-old 486 running Windows 3.1 was pretty much useless junk.

Ole Juul
April 29th, 2014, 12:28 PM
I must say that the idea of setting the time in the GUI has me confused. Why? That would seem like a bad design. I can see that on a "personal device" like the iPhone type thingies, but not on a general purpose computer. The time to the user is an offset from the network time which is usually related to your locale. It is typically set by an NTP client from a trusted time server. That could be a special machine set up for that purpose in your own network, or more likely (for little folks like us) simply a government operated source. They've got pools set up now so you don't have to be so careful and respectful as you used to be.

The bottom line is that the machine should know the time and always be coordinated with a trusted source. The user will simply glean the benefits. If someone posting here (vwestlife?) has a problem with time perhaps the bios is not set to UTC or a time keeping program is somehow not loaded. The fix is easy, but make sure port 123 is open on your router.

I like accurate time, so I don't even touch the time by hand on my DOS box. I have a batch file that automatically connects to a nearby (for lower latency) University time server and sets it for me. Seriously, this setting the time by hand is from a time when people used windup watches and floppy-only computers. That's all very cool and on-topic here - but not in the *nix world.

Caluser2000
April 29th, 2014, 01:29 PM
That's not nearly as compelling of an argument as it might've been a decade ago. In 2014, a 10-year-old Pentium III running XP is still useful for plenty of things, but in 2004, a 10-year-old 486 running Windows 3.1 was pretty much useless junk.I do believe this is a Linux desktop thread not an XP support thread. As for time I usually have nice red lcd radio clock.

Eudimorphodon
April 29th, 2014, 03:13 PM
I'll admit I'm completely ignorant regarding the specifics of AV Linux. (Never tried it, although it looks like it *might* have the potential to be interesting; the closest thing I've used to it is Ubuntu Studio (http://ubuntustudio.org/), which differs of course in being based on Ubuntu instead of straight-up Debian.) That said, I will throw out a few weak observations.

A: Going back over the thread it appears that some of these weird issues like the time zone changing are happening while using a "LiveCD" instead of an actual hard disk install? I have to wonder if it might be free of such oddities if it were a full install, IE, the LiveCD implementation isn't completely baked and isn't reliably saving some configuration changes.

(It's also possible that some of the odd omissions, like the screen capture plugin being omitted from the default XFCE installation, might have been left out in the process of trimming down the total footprint of the software bundle to fit an ISO/key of size XXXX megabytes. Or it might indeed just be a half-arsed omission.)

B: The "can't set the time thing" is pretty funny and from a single-user desktop perspective it does seem reasonable to think such trivial functionality should be a part of the GUI. But in their defense, and I'll totally acknowledge that this one of the less-intuitive-aspects of "Linux" for people coming from other OSes and that it's not a defense that's going to satisfy a lot of people, the probable reason the XFCE developers haven't written a control widget for it is because changing things like the timezone or enabling NTP is a "system-level" change and different Linux distributions have different config file locations and best-practices, thereby making hard to make a "generic" time widget that'll do the right thing all the time. (For that matter, the same XFCE source code has to run on Free/Net/Open/WhateverBSD, Solaris, OS X...) So as a general rule the windowing environment developers have little choice but to throw up their hands and expect the distribution to provide the tool to do it if full GUI control is a priority. Xubuntu, for instance, appears to supply their own "Time and Date" control panel. (http://askubuntu.com/questions/232592/xubuntu-12-04-wrong-time-change-system-language)

(Vanilla Debian is rightly notorious for not having nicities like that; during the standard install process the system does ask you to set the timezone and gives you the option of setting up NTP; I guess the assumption is that's enough and if you do need to change it you'll be able to figure out the "hard way". Which isn't at all obvious, the CLI command looks like a magic incarnation to the uninitiated, but, uhm... it is pretty easy to Google? Linux is indeed not for people who never want to read a manual once you step away from the warmest fuzziest distributions.)

vwestlife
April 29th, 2014, 08:14 PM
I do believe this is a Linux desktop thread not an XP support thread. As for time I usually have nice red lcd radio clock.

Your argument was that switching from XP to Linux will breathe new life into 10-year-old computers. My response was that most of those 10-year-old computers are still doing just fine running XP and have little to gain from switching to anything else -- at least in terms of general-purpose computing. Of course, if you have an old machine that is no longer in daily use and you want to turn it into a hobbyist machine, then by all means it would make a great platform on which to run Linux. But if Aunt Tillie is using that machine to save her recipes and check her e-mail, she's not going to really gain anything by switching operating systems.

Caluser2000
April 29th, 2014, 08:27 PM
But Aunt Tilly is panicing because of all this XP is going to die crap and her this pop up thingy keeps saying please upgrade to a new machine. Now can we please keep to topic at hand?

MikeS
April 29th, 2014, 09:26 PM
I do believe this is a Linux desktop thread not an XP support thread. As for time I usually have nice red lcd radio clock.Ah, OK, the question of whether XP in fact always needs to be replaced in the first place is not permitted in a thread about how best to replace XP ; got it.

Isn't it a little inconvenient setting the time of your emails manually by reading it from your nice red lcd radio clock? Never seen a red LCD clock BTW; are they unique to NZ?

Rick Ethridge
April 29th, 2014, 09:33 PM
????????

MikeS
April 29th, 2014, 09:47 PM
????????You're right; waste of time.

Ole Juul
April 29th, 2014, 10:09 PM
Your argument was that switching from XP to Linux will breathe new life into 10-year-old computers. My response was that most of those 10-year-old computers are still doing just fine running XP and have little to gain from switching to anything else -- at least in terms of general-purpose computing.

I guess if one knows how to keep XP running then that is indeed the way to go. The machine is likely built for optimum XP and the user is perhaps too.

My question would be; can one actually convert a machine running "end of life XP" to "continued use XP"? I understand this could sound silly to a Windows aficionado, but what's all the hullabaloo about EOL if it is (perhaps) no big deal?

Regarding "breathing new life" into old PC's with Linux; that is generally a myth and the fact is that some older version of Windows will generally require less resources. All else being equal, to many people it would be the better choice. However in this case if XP is indeed not viable any more, then a minimal Linux certainly could be.

Ole Juul
April 29th, 2014, 10:49 PM
As it happens I just came back from an XP experience at a neighbours. He came by before dinner and asked if I had a recommendation, or could look at his old computer. He just got wireless internet service (all we get here) and wanted to know if he should get the faster service or if it was his computer that was slow. Also his young wife could not get her laptop on-line. So ...

His computer was an old P4 with 2.5 GB ram and running XP. I have no idea how to get it to run faster than a snail going backwards, although I'm sure there are people here who could make that thing sing. It was so slow that I couldn't click around to see what was going on. The guy was happy to buy a new one if that was required, but I insisted that I try to do something first. As it turns out, it had service pack II on it. Since I don't know how to easily upgrade that, and it would require a lot of research on my part, I decided that I'd just stick a light weight Linux on it. Part of the decision was based on the fact that the alternative (in his case) would be to buy a new box for $400+tax, and that he does one thing only: goes to Yahoo! and checks his mail - nothing else. If it had a hardcoded connection to Yahoo! and all else was broken, he wouldn't know.

So, I put in an Xubuntu 12.04 i386 DVD. There was no way that was going to boot. Since I didn't have anything else handy that would fit on a CD except old (and older) distros, I picked Vector Linux 5.9 STD-Gold. It went on quickly and without a hitch. Yahoo! mail is great and everything runs fast - quick boot too. Of course such an old distro comes with FireFox 2.0 and will not do contemporary flash, and probably some other things. FF 2 does work but the Seamonkey works even better and will do fine, so I made that the default. When I left there his wife was trying out Facebook and it was a happy household. Though she will have to move the wire over to use her laptop. All they need is a wireless router and all will be fine. They were not aware that a wireless router was needed for the laptop to connect, so my great expertise was much appreciated there too. ;)

I learned a few things from this. One is that I have no XP ability whatsoever. It's a mystery to me. The other is that recent Linux distros, even light ones, are almost all on DVD now, and that could be a problem. I may end up doing a Debian net install in these cases, and then building a desktop on top of that. I know that works, but would rather have an all-in-one installation solution.

My question to people here: Have you experienced that some DVD readers won't boot a DVD iso? I can't prove this is going on here, but this is the second old(er) machine where this same Xubuntu DVD wouldn't boot. It boots fine on my own stuff though.

SpidersWeb
April 29th, 2014, 11:05 PM
I guess his machine can't boot from a DVD. I've never had an issue with a drive, but certainly the machine itself.
I don't know what distro's offer it, but when I install Debian I just burn a copy of their NetInstall image to a CD-R - let the computer download what it needs and only what it needs.

When an XP install gets that bad you usually just reinstall. After a while of a person installing stuff it eventually ends up quite clogged. There are tools like Registry Cleaners to help but I find it takes less time to just reinstall from scratch - even after updates the machines will feel like new again. I often ended up doing reinstalls after 1-2 years. You'd also probably find it's full of malware and "helper" apps. <-- that is one brightside of Linux (or Mac OS X) over XP - home users are less likely to fill it with crap.

I don't care if it gives you access to FREE ONLINE POKER, don't install it!! lol

Edit: oh and to upgrade to SP3 all you do is go to Windows Update, but his machine sounds bad enough you'd want to install a fresh OS anyway. I guess he turned off Automatic Updates.

Caluser2000
April 29th, 2014, 11:07 PM
Glad it worked out Ole. I still use XP at work and home on a number of machine, so it is my main OS of choice dispite a couple of members might imagine. In saying that I'm posting this on a 12 yo Linux distro (RH 7.3 on a P200mmx) and does fine for what I need it to do. Hell I can even change the time in the gui ;) As well as set it up as an NTP client. Who would've thought something like that could be done soooo long ago. I might add setting the replacement nic up on this particular setup in X was quite a trivial exercise as well. Maybe I'm using it wrong or something....

As Spidersweb mentioned malware has been an issue with MS Windows for the longest time, so it's generally par for the course to add software to reduce it's effects.

Keep us posted on progress good or bad will you.

Had a bit of a windfall today. Plodded into town to do some work related bits n bobs and popped into a charity store just on a wim. They had a usb fdd there for a few $. On the box it says it works in XP and Linux. Reads,writes and formats 720k floppies just fine. Quite pleased.

lowen
April 30th, 2014, 05:25 AM
...Have you experienced that some DVD readers won't boot a DVD iso? I can't prove this is going on here, but this is the second old(er) machine where this same Xubuntu DVD wouldn't boot. It boots fine on my own stuff though.

Yes, I have experienced this, for two different reasons.

1.) The DVD-ROM has issues with the writable DVD media. I've seen this many many times, and typically re-writing using a different media type works. When I say 'different media type' I'm primarily referring to +R versus -R, or +RW versus -RW and secondarily referring to media manufacturer. Different drives work best with different media, although I've seen, with the drives to which I have access, better compatibility in the main with +R media. YMMV.

2.) The kernel doesn't have the old IDE-layer anymore, but libata, and libata doesn't support your IDE host bus adapter (either on the Southbridge or dedicated chip). This symptom shows up after isolinux has booted, so if isolinux gets you to a boot prompt but then the boot hangs after loading the initrd, this is likely the issue. At work we have some older Dell P4 machines (Dimension 4500S) that show this behavior; they won't boot a Windows 7 32-bit DVD either.

Those are the two things I have personally seen.

Eudimorphodon
April 30th, 2014, 08:53 AM
Yes, I have experienced this, for two different reasons.

Ditto on both of these. Particularly with the higher-speed-rated DVD blanks you can see a lot of backwards compatibility issues with drives older than, I dunno, the 2004-ish era. The same problems exist with CD blanks, of course. I used to keep a small hoard of those ancient 1/2x-rated CD-Rs to use when absolutely nothing else would work in an old Macintosh, Sun box, etc. In that case a corner may have actually been turned at some point, as it at least seems like some of the newer formulations have better backwards compatibility than the early-aught's varieties.

An extreme case and certainly not one anyone would use as a "daily driver" today, but a few years ago I was playing with a 200Mhz Pentium lunchbox computer from DOLCH that *technically* had BIOS support for booting from its CD-ROM drive but I could find almost *nothing* that was compatible, including Windows CDs. Out of several different Linux distributions and a couple BSDs the NetBSD CD's bootloader was the only one that worked and the installation failed just a little bit later because of (probably media-related) read errors. I ended up throwing a PXE-ROM'ed NIC into the machine to get an OS on it, and even then I had to try two different cards before finding one compatible with the BIOS. Good times.

(I *could* have just made some floppies, sure, but that would have been admitting failure.)

MikeS
April 30th, 2014, 10:41 AM
...I learned a few things from this. One is that I have no XP ability whatsoever. It's a mystery to me. Oh my; I guess by your definition you can't "claim to have much computer smarts" if you also "claim to not be able to reinstall/update an XP box".

I've done it dozens of times without any problems, can't imagine why you'd find it difficult. ;-)

Let's see, you "don't know how to easily upgrade that, and it would require a lot of research on my part. Part of the decision (to stick a light weight Linux on it) was based on the fact that the [only?] alternative (in his case) would be to buy a new box for $400+tax".

So, merely reinstalling XP was not an alternative partly because you didn't want to "do the required research"?

I do respect your candor though, although of course Linux being a mystery is implied by the various folks not choosing to do "the required research" to install Linux either.

Hmm, let's see, what else; Oh yes, "You should have spent more than five minutes trying to get it done instead of just complaining and giving up"; spending the time to do the required research is absolutely required if you want to be allowed to comment.

For the record, I think in most cases a lightweight Linux is indeed a reasonable alternative, depending on the client's need, and you probably made the right choice; I'm just having fun playing back some of the BS responses this kind of thing got when it was Linux instead of XP.

Just curious: again, not questioning the need for (or convenience of) a wireless hub, but did the laptop not have an ethernet port?

Ole Juul
April 30th, 2014, 11:56 AM
Oh my; I guess by your definition you can't "claim to have much computer smarts" if you also "claim to not be able to reinstall/update an XP box".

Will you stop it! You have no idea what I meant, as is clear by what you say now. I'm sorry Mike, but there is something wrong with you lately. For some reason you take on this nasty assholeish tone in these thread lately. I don't like it. Nobody else does either. You are a very smart fellow, but there is obviously a brick missing in this regard. I don't see any point in being part of this forum if you are going to be the way you are. Yes, I'm being childish, but I'm just tired of it. You, sir, are, an A**HOLE!

I'm outa here.

MikeS
April 30th, 2014, 12:38 PM
Will you stop it! You have no idea what I meant, as is clear by what you say now. I'm sorry Mike, but there is something wrong with you lately. For some reason you take on this nasty assholeish tone in these thread lately. I don't like it. Nobody else does either. You are a very smart fellow, but there is obviously a brick missing in this regard. I don't see any point in being part of this forum if you are going to be the way you are. Yes, I'm being childish, but I'm just tired of it. You, sir, are, an A**HOLE!

I'm outa here.I think what you meant was quite clear, and yes, resorting to name-calling as in A**HOLE, brick missing etc. is childish, as is leaving because my posts offend you, and exactly what I've been railing against; if you actually want a reasonable exchange or just want to throw more swear words or insults at me, try PM.

I don't know if "nobody" likes it but I'm sure you're right, that many people are annoyed by my reflections, as I am by folks calling folks A**HOLES, idiots, whatever. We're all members of the same community and it baffles me that there is so little respect for people whose only real attribute is that they use a different operating system and dare to comment on the difficulties they have with the 'other' one.

Yes, I get the irony that while railing against rudeness, hypocrisy, wasting bandwidth etc. I'm also contributing to the noise. I think I made my point even if no one else sees it, so no need to leave; once again, if anybody has issues, by all means PM me.

Back to our thread.

mbbrutman
April 30th, 2014, 01:15 PM
And another thread goes off the rails, and there is a particular user who is the common denominator.

Erik will handle this.

cr1901
April 30th, 2014, 01:35 PM
Why don't we just remove the "No Politics" rule and have people duke it out there?

mbbrutman
April 30th, 2014, 01:44 PM
Why don't we just remove the "No Politics" rule and have people duke it out there?

It's not a politics problem we are having. And in generally, duking it out on any part of the forum is not the answer ..

Like I said, Erik will handle it. Let's please try to get back on topic.

glitch
May 1st, 2014, 07:45 AM
One thing to keep in mind with the "old Linux distro for old hardware" plan is that many (all?) old distros are no longer receiving patches either, and also contain remote vulnerabilities. A default install of Red Hat 7.x in particular comes to mind. It's security through obscurity at best.

It's possible to get a modern Linux distro trimmed down and running well on older hardware, even with X, but it *is* work. I haven't used it in quite some time (probably over a decade) but Vector Linux is a stripped-down Slackware based distribution targeted at old, low-end hardware. Check it out at http://www.vectorlinux.com

deathshadow
May 1st, 2014, 08:16 AM
I've been avoiding replying to this thread as I know my opinion on this topic is HIGHLY unpopular, but I've really reached that age where I could give a flying purple fish who I "offend" or what anyone thinks of my opinions.

Linux and most (but not all) *nix offshoots work great as server OS. When all you need is something simple, and the only hardware that really matters to have working 100% is networking and hard drives, it does a fine and dandy job of things...

But as a DESKTOP OS? Pathetically useless and crippled steaming pile of manure. I cannot fathom how anyone uses it on a daily bases on the desktop given what utter rubbish it is.

MOST of that blame falls in the lap of X11 implementations -- Xfree, x.org, etc... While things like Wayland and Mir are attempting to alleviate some of the issues, the simple fact is that buggy, slow, needlessly convoluted crap needs to be pitched in the trash. There's a reason the two REAL *nix as a user OS (OSX and Android) don't use it. Even when OSX provides an X11 stack, they ran it on top of their graphics API.

The problems are evident even in the simplest of operations; where you click on a program to start it, and it sits there for ten seconds with zero disk activity and no visual queues (like say... changing the mouse cursor?) to tell you it's doing anything... so you try again... and again... then FINALLY the hard drive starts to chug and *POOF* five copies of the application you were trying to open all pop-open at once... :(

Trying to write software? The API is SO dreadful that even when it was NEW nobody except those writing window managers ever wrote code for it directly! Motif, QT, GTK -- these wouldn't even EXIST if the X11 API wasn't so painfully agonizingly needlessly cryptic.

Far worse though is font rendering. To be brutally frank, "freetype" kerns text like a sweetly retarded epileptic rhesis monkey on crack. Open up LibreOffice or whatever equivalent you have, choose freesans, set it to 10pt and type the word "spacing", start a new line and put in one space followed by the word spacing... lather, rinse, repeat adding more spaces before the word on each line. It is SO inept that it can't even render the same word the same way twice on the PAGE! The last four letters in particular dance around so much with such absurd changes in space between letters that eventually you reach the point where it's "spacin g". Some fonts are even worse than others; you try using Arial and sometimes the "a" and "c" will overlap each-other by as much as 50%.

Then of course there's file managers, which even Thunar -- which seems to be the best of the best in the *nix world -- is, again to be brutally frank, apart from supporting long filenames BARELY has reached parity with Windows 3.1! Don't even get me STARTED about WM's managing open files/applications which is so hit or miss they might as well not bother. (though to keep that in perspective, I consider Apple's "expose" and "dock" to be uselessly crippled crap too... and the defaults in XP/newer to be garbage as well -- difference being in windows you can at least 'dial the clock back' to actually being USEFUL).

Of course, don't even GET me started about Hardware support... when I have to play around on the command line with needlessly and pointlessly cryptic commands (and remember this is coming from someone who can hand compile x86 machine language) just to get it so that if I plug in headphones the internal speakers in a laptop turn off -- that's NOT a good OS. (though whatever jackass thought that having that software controlled was better than a mechancial jack switch...). I shouldn't have to screw around on the command line with modprobe EVERY time my machine wakes from sleep just to get wireless working again! I shouldn't have to screw around on the command line to run a configuration utility just because it refuses to launch from the WM as sudo to ACTUALY change somethign as simple as the resolution... which 90%+ of the time I end up having to skip the utility to STILL go right to the .conf file to even TRY to get more than one display working... running more than one display shouldn't be enough to break desktop compositing.

If I wanted to dick around on the command line over the simplest of hardware configuration in a needlessly and pointlessly cryptic environment, I'd drag the Model 16 out of the garage and boot up Xenix. That's NOT what I have a desktop computer for.

90%+ of the allegedly "supported" hardware from audio to video -- even to printers, are effectively crippled at a fraction it's capabilities; I don't have a 1200dpi printer to have a driver that maxes out at 300dpi. I don't have a 2400dpi scanner to have a driver that maxes out at 1200dpi... I don't have a 5.1 audio card to barely be able to get STEREO out of it... I'm not rocking a GTX 770 video card to have it perform like the GTX 260 I just ripped out; nor should that GTX 260 behave like a 8800GTS or a 8800GTS behave like a 7600GT... but that's Linsux video in a nutshell.

Naturally that hardware manufacturers give little more than lip-service to the freetards doesn't help; MAYBE if it had a stable hardware API that didn't change every time a stiff breeze wafts through Linus' office, hardware makers would be just a little more supportve... Even when they CLAIM to be (yes Intel and AMD, I'm looking at you) it's more marketspeak than actual fact.

THEN there's the software -- or should I say lack of actual quality programs. While in some areas great strides have been made (GIMP, Blender, LibreOffice for example) and others are on par with every other platform (browsers) you get outside re-re user-land, and even the simplest of things like text editors are like a trip in the wayback machine to 1980... Which you'd think as a retrocomputer user I'd like... NOT when it's a multi-ghz computer with real video capabilities! Even when the software itself is fine, all the problems with X11 implementations, crippled hardware, craptastic illegible font rendering makes even the best software feel like garbage. To even come CLOSE to having anything decent you pretty much HAVE to put WINE on it.

... and of course, who can forget the endless different software to do the same thing, none of which do anything well -- WM's are a great example of this with KDE, Gnome, Unity, XFCE -- bloated crap that make windows 8 look good (and I HATE windows 8) while not being as functional on a day to day basis as Windows 3.1 -- at that point it's no wonder *nix zealots spend all their time in terminal sessions. Hell, distro makers can't even agree if they should follow Posix directory structures or not -- see why I hate with passion (even on servers) any Red Hat legacy OS (Fedora, CentOS) with their "let's just ignore the directory organization of *nix and just throw everything in non-standard locations".

Server OS? Linux is great... Desktop OS? Pathetically useless, slow, crippled and near impossible to configure properly crap, that sends me running and screaming back to XP or 7. Hell, even in their pre-alpha and beta release states ReactOS and Haiku are more robust and feature complete than ANY Linux distro I've ever tried.

... and being something of an OS whore with 16tb of storage on my workstation with an entire 4tb drive broken into 12 partitions for different OS, I've tried them all. (and that's not even counting the 4tb drive devoted to VirtualBox VM's)

You'd be better off on older hardware dragging out BeOS 5 PE than you would trying to use Linsux as a desktop OS... and that's like saying you'd be better off with a Reliant Robin than you would a 1984 Yugo GV built for the American market. I cannot fathom how anyone can actually use it as their primary desktop OS.

Though again, to put that in perspective -- I say the same thing about the uselessly crippled OSX; cute for grandma and that's about it.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2014, 09:29 AM
@DS, you pretty much sum up how I feel about the current state of affairs--and that includes Windows.

But I've also given up on finding some sort of rationally designed desktop OS. Bloated, incredibly convoluted to get pictures out of. No, Windows isn't any better--I just tried to install XP on a newish machine and was greeted with an endless reboot loop--no error messages I'm tired of the bugs and bloat.

But I've got to have something to run, if indeed everyone and their brother will be deserting XP. Linux works okay, but as you say, it has its quirks. For example, in web and email (FF and TB) "post" boxes, lines I've just entered mysteriously disappear and reappear. The answer seems to be turning off hardware acceleration--and the problem extends unto Windows also. That's the ticket--turn off hardware acceleration--which is why you bought that high-end video card, after all. The problem, according tot he web, has been around since at least 2009--with no resolution.

I'll second your note on multimedia with *nix.

Perhaps Apple has a leg up on this stuff only because they also control the hardware content. But I'm not ready for the "Apple" way yet.

Eudimorphodon
May 1st, 2014, 10:23 AM
The problems are evident even in the simplest of operations; where you click on a program to start it, and it sits there for ten seconds with zero disk activity and no visual queues (like say... changing the mouse cursor?) to tell you it's doing anything... so you try again... and again... then FINALLY the hard drive starts to chug and *POOF* five copies of the application you were trying to open all pop-open at once... :(

Funny, that's exactly the reason I run Linux instead of Windows. Maybe I just live in some sort of bizarro-world plane of existence rotated perpendicularly to yours but on my main production KDE desktop when I double click on a program it gives me a reasonable indication in the form of a momentary cursor change that it received the click and allows me to move onto something else while I'm waiting for the thing to actually load. Meanwhile, every time I use a Windows machine (Windows 8 *really* drives me nuts here, far worse than earlier versions) I run into the issue of double-clicking on a program, nothing happening, double clicking again, nothing... only to finally lose it and start clicking like mad and ending up with a flash of an hourglass followed by twenty web browser windows some random interval of time later.

(My favorite part about Windows XP in particular? That interval, somewhere around a minute but it of course varies with the speed of the machine, after the desktop comes up after logging in and it *looks* like the system is ready but, well, it's not. There's still stuff happening in the background and you, or at least I, *will* get angry if you try navigating the Start menu. For all their multitude of flaws I've generally found Linux boxes somewhat more honest about being "ready". But again, maybe that's just some Zen connection that I manifestly lack with Windows..)

Maybe every Windows box I've ever touched has been broken (despite them being brand new or newly installed), maybe I'm just overly forgiving of Linux's absolute horror show of problems and don't even notice them anymore, or maybe we're all just frogs in our own pots of boiling water and despite the searing pain we put up with every day it burns less than the fire outside. *shrug* Whatever.

glitch
May 1st, 2014, 11:04 AM
Chuck, what kind of hardware are you running on? I thought the days of buggy X drivers and xorg.conf were long over. I don't think I've had an X related issue in probably 5 years.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2014, 12:42 PM
AMD 6-core x64 whatchamacallit with someone's PCIe video card and 16GB memory (you can tell that I don't pay a lot of attention to modern use-and-toss hardware). So hardly vintage. You can find complaints on the web right up through 2014.

vwestlife
May 1st, 2014, 02:39 PM
I guess my Linux experience has been atypical, because I was prepared for a horror story of driver problems, but it actually had no trouble auto-detecting all of the necessary drivers for my test computer (a HP 8200 with a Quad Core i5 and ATI Radeon graphics) and at least in my testing so far I haven't run into any driver-related bugs or glitches. I have, however, definitely noticed some bugs and design flaws in the XFCE desktop GUI, and some significant bugs in the bundled applications -- especially when rendering videos using the Kdenlive video editor.

So, the Linux OS system core is rock-solid -- it's just the GUI and applications that have problems... which doesn't matter if you're just using it as a server OS, but if you're trying to use it as a desktop OS like Mac or Windows, you're bound to run into some frustrations. Some people have learned to accept and work around those bugs and design flaws, while others rightfully find it unacceptable that Linux often simply doesn't work right unless you go through a trial-and-error process of tweaking it.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2014, 04:31 PM
I'm not quite certain, but the answer, it seems, has always been to turn off hardware acceleration.

I think, so far, so good.

deathshadow
May 1st, 2014, 05:19 PM
No, Windows isn't any better--I just tried to install XP on a newish machine and was greeted with an endless reboot loop--no error messages I'm tired of the bugs and bloat.

If it was Ivy or Sandy, a lot of mainboards dropped the BIOS and/or options needed for XP; what you encountered is the symptom. You're pretty much forced to run Vista or Newer, in which case my advice would be Windows 7.

Honestly, if you've got an AMD64 (ANY of them) or a Intel CPU with EM64T (Core 1/newer, or even ATOM), and at least 2 gigs of RAM, you SHOULD be running Windows 7 x64. It's a fine OS, nice peppy, runs just FINE. 99.99% of the complaints people have about it seem to have nothing to do with.. well.. Windows 7. In fact it can often be FASTER than XP at certain tasks...

Though the main reason I like Windows, at least until Windows 8, is that I can dial back the clock on certain things... like setting the taskbar to portrait mode over on my right display, tell it not to hide the titles of taskbar elements, tell it to use small icons so I can show more than a handful of taskbar elements, tell it NOT to "group by Program" since at 1920x1200 (my right 24" LCD) I can actually show 40 taskbar elements... Of course, the persistence of of the system font across applications, particularly as I've been a 8514/Large/120%/125dpi/Win7 medium/WhateverTheBlueBlazesThey'reCallingItNow font size user ... well, since the day I got my first 1024x768 capable display.

When it comes to OSX and Linsux, that I can't make the OS match my workflow patterns is the biggest drawback of all; and I'm pretty adaptable on this stuff given the years of well... being a complete slut when it comes to using different operating systems.

Win7 is IMHO the best desktop OS we've seen since Win98se. Anything else pales by comparison, at least for me.

Though I'm the same way about browsers -- Opera 12 or NOTHING at this point, particularly given what a ridiculously and pathetically crippled pile of CRAP Opera 15/newer -- or should we call it Chropera -- is; but then I consider Chrome to be pathetic crippleware at the UI level; but I don't run Opera 12 with the default skin or default layout; it's that I can customize it to MY way of working that won me over -- and why Opera 15/newer is useless as they got rid of everything that made Opera... worth using instead of the trips in the wayback machine to IE3 Mac so far as UI is concerned that is Chrome, FF and IE. I mean -- portrait mode tabs on one side of the display, favicon launchers, custom close/back a tab close/forward a tab buttons, USEFUL trashcan, zoom that doesn't get down on it's knees in front of the proverbial equine of short stature, in-built mail client...

That's Windows 8's problem -- they removed 80%+ of the user options for UI customization, and almost every improvement Win7 had that people praised was pitched in the trash as they gave every last notebook and desktop user the middle finger, shoving ugly a tablet UI that to be frank looks like AOL Games circa 1996 down our throats.

See: http://gbatemp.net/attachments/windows8-fail-jpg.2755/

... and from what I've seen of 8.1, they're not learning the lesson either.

lowen
May 1st, 2014, 05:42 PM
But as a DESKTOP OS? Pathetically useless and crippled steaming pile of manure. I cannot fathom how anyone uses it on a daily bases on the desktop given what utter rubbish it is.

I've used a Linux of some sort as my primary desktop since 1997. Works as well as anything else does; that is to say, no program will ever be 100% bug-free, and an operating system is just another program. XP, NT, 2K, 2K3, 2K8R2,7, all the same, something is broken somewhere.

I find Linux to be the least broken for my use.


The problems are evident even in the simplest of operations; where you click on a program to start it, and it sits there for ten seconds with zero disk activity and no visual queues (like say... changing the mouse cursor?) to tell you it's doing anything...

While I don't doubt you've experienced this, I haven't. Most of the time the drive light is lit the entire time I'm waiting for whatever program to come up. And that's true with XP, 7, etc, and OS X, too. Except the one CentOS 6 machine I have with an enterprise-grade 256GB SSD. It flies.


Of course, don't even GET me started about Hardware support...
...

I shouldn't have to screw around on the command line to run a configuration utility just because it refuses to launch from the WM as sudo to ACTUALY change somethign as simple as the resolution... which 90%+ of the time I end up having to skip the utility to STILL go right to the .conf file to even TRY to get more than one display working... running more than one display shouldn't be enough to break desktop compositing.

My experience differs from yours, at least with CentOS 6 and the ELrepo reppository. Dual monitors, with the ELrepo-provided nVidia kernel module, just works, whether docked or undocked (Dell Precision M4300 laptop here). Installed the ELrepo release package through the web browser, and then installed the nVidia driver through a graphical package manager.

But I actually like the command line, even when I don't need it.


If I wanted to dick around on the command line over the simplest of hardware configuration in a needlessly and pointlessly cryptic environment, I'd drag the Model 16 out of the garage and boot up Xenix.

Heh, if you ever want rid of that 16..... let me know.


90%+ of the allegedly "supported" hardware from audio to video -- even to printers, are effectively crippled at a fraction it's capabilities; I don't have a 1200dpi printer to have a driver that maxes out at 300dpi. I don't have a 2400dpi scanner to have a driver that maxes out at 1200dpi... I don't have a 5.1 audio card to barely be able to get STEREO out of it... I'm not rocking a GTX 770 video card to have it perform like the GTX 260 I just ripped out; nor should that GTX 260 behave like a 8800GTS or a 8800GTS behave like a 7600GT... but that's Linsux video in a nutshell.

Blame the hardware manufacturers for not writing usable drivers (which you do, to a degree, in a section I snipped). Now, of course, nVidia does have drivers for Linux, and at least on the Quadro 4000 in my desktop at work the performance is on a par with the Windows 7 drivers. My experience, at least with CentOS 6, is that it just works fine, at least on not-quite-bleeding-edge hardware (which is partly what this thread is all about, no?).


...see why I hate with passion (even on servers) any Red Hat legacy OS (Fedora, CentOS) with their "let's just ignore the directory organization of *nix and just throw everything in non-standard locations".

Everything? Really? No /bin/sh? It's not Apollo DomainOS.....


Desktop OS? Pathetically useless, slow, crippled and near impossible to configure properly crap, that sends me running and screaming back to XP or 7. Hell, even in their pre-alpha and beta release states ReactOS and Haiku are more robust and feature complete than ANY Linux distro I've ever tried.

Well, my experience differs. But perhaps I didn't get ruined by trying Plan 9 or something. I am and have been productively using CentOS Linux for years, and I do and have done 64 track audio editing sessions on it. Is it a newbie OS? No, but I don't need a newbie OS.


... I cannot fathom how anyone can actually use it as their primary desktop OS.

Though again, to put that in perspective -- I say the same thing about the uselessly crippled OSX; cute for grandma and that's about it.

Your standards are too high. :-) What do you think of Windblows, then?

lowen
May 1st, 2014, 05:53 PM
...
Honestly, if you've got an AMD64 (ANY of them) or a Intel CPU with EM64T (Core 1/newer, or even ATOM), and at least 2 gigs of RAM, you SHOULD be running Windows 7 x64. It's a fine OS, nice peppy, runs just FINE. 99.99% of the complaints people have about it seem to have nothing to do with.. well.. Windows 7. In fact it can often be FASTER than XP at certain tasks...

And you can thank netbook Linux for that. Seriously.


...When it comes to OSX and Linsux, that I can't make the OS match my workflow patterns is the biggest drawback of all

And that would be the main issue, methinks.


Win7 is IMHO the best desktop OS we've seen since Win98se. Anything else pales by comparison, at least for me.

I disagree. The best desktop OS MS has put out as yet is Windows Server 2008R2. But I prefer something else.



That's Windows 8's problem -- they removed 80%+ of the user options for UI customization, and almost every improvement Win7 had that people praised was pitched in the trash as they gave every last notebook and desktop user the middle finger, shoving ugly a tablet UI that to be frank looks like AOL Games circa 1996 down our throats.

This attitude is not limited to Microsoft. It seems everybody wants to dumb down the UI; but I do understand why. If all the desktops look alike, then fewer tech support scripts have to be written.

deathshadow
May 1st, 2014, 06:14 PM
And you can thank netbook Linux for that. Seriously.
Which is funny since Linux on netbooks proved one thing more than anything else...

Nobody wanted Linux on netbooks; since they were buried and sales dried up the moment they started coming along with XP on them... Same for nettops. (As a MSI Wind U123 and Acer Revo owner...)

Though that's more of a "prolonged XP life span" thing than a Win 7 x64 thing -- what with most netbooks coming with 1 gig of RAM and most Atom processors chipsets locked out of supporting more than 2 gigs, even though the cpu is x64 capable... well, unless you count the non atom netbooks; and let's be frank, those may as well have been Timex Sinclair 1000's the way they went out; $30 a pop next to the checkout at Walgreens; an impulse buy that eventually ends up in the back of a sock drawer alongside the Atari Portfolio, Apple Newton, MC-10, and AMD Geode based thin clients.

What? You don't have those in the back of your sock drawer? Heathens... :P

Though, I've got XP x64 Corp on the Revo right now -- really nice OS even if it is just Server 2k3 in drag.

As to 2k8... comparing that to win7 is splitting hairs. 2k8 doesn't offload to the GPU as well, but it has slightly faster disk handling and a bit less extra crap in it. I would pick either over pretty much any linsux distro any day... though being an OS whore, like Lewis Black with Candy Corn, I keep trying. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU6S3-cXtKs)


What do you think of Windblows, then?
Probably the best all-around desktop OS, particularly Windows 7; though it has a LONG history of "every other release is trash" what with ME, Vista, and now 8. 2K was a fine OS, but software developers weren't there; hence XP's early teething since XP is just 2K with a slap of paint and a better WOW32. MOST of the times people have problems with Windows is either because they got a crapplet laden version from the vendor (My first step with ANY computer is a wipe and install of the VANILLA version of the OS, not some goof assed "restore disk" idiocy), bad drivers (see AMD/ATI), or they are DUMB ENOUGH to be using IE as their primary browser... or they blame poorly written software on the OS. (See Firefox)

It's also VERY easy when setting it up to end up with the WRONG SATA drivers -- this is where Linux actually shines a bit better; though that problem has begun to evaporate now that new hardware is coming with UEFI.

That said, it's absolute insecure RUBBISH as a server OS. NTFS just doesn't provide proper file, directory or user based security to trust it for online hosting, and there is WAY too much overhead garbage. Anyone telling you otherwise is packing you so full of sand you might as well change your name to Sahara.

I have this mantra -- Windows is for desktops, *nix is for servers -- and never shall the 'twain meet. Varying from this is using a deuce and a half lump to drive that square peg into the round hole. You might make it fit, doesn't make it good.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2014, 06:51 PM
Well, here's a big issue--Win7 64 isn't going to run DOS programs, is it?

Rick Ethridge
May 1st, 2014, 06:55 PM
I've tried them all from 1987 machines to the latest and greatest AMD and from MSDOS 2.1 to Windows 7 and different Linux distros. From trial and error I've found a few things:

Linux seems to like running on the second-to-the-last generation hardware. Drivers for the newest software are hard to find.

Some distros play nicer than others. Newer hardware runs older software fine (to a point) but older hardware chokes on newer software. Newer software is easier to install software but older software is faster to install but harder to configure. Windows, for the most part, is the easiest to install as it seems to follow a known pattern. Drivers are bundled with hardware. Linux distros, while based on the same general platform, are very-much different from each other installing and running.

Linux system configurations seem to follow a different tack from each other and Windows, but can be configured to look and act nearly identical in operation.

Lastly, Linux, if configured properly and run on a stable platform, is much more stable, secure and maintenance-free than Windows although Linux may run slower or faster (I don't know why?). Linux may, or may not, use more or less memory as Windows. There's more available freeware on Linux but software appearance and function can be different from program to program. Software written for Windows typically follows the Microsoft "style" for appearance and function. Software installation is very different between Windows and Linux and Linux software installation can be daunting.

lowen
May 1st, 2014, 07:01 PM
Though [netbooks created] more of a "prolonged XP life span" thing than a Win 7 x64 thing

What the netbook did was show just how bad of a pig Vista was; otherwise 7 might have been Vista++.


As to 2k8... comparing that to win7 is splitting hairs.

Perhaps.


Probably the best all-around desktop OS, particularly Windows 7;

Well, I have a pile of scanners, printers, and assorted other hardware that have no Win7 driver; I have a few that, even though the driver should work OK it can't be installed, because the 16 bit thunking WoW layer in the NTVDM is no longer there in x64; the installer for the 32-bit drivers is a Win16 program. I have a pile of programs that work better in the commercial version of WINE, Crossover Pro, than they do on Win7.

I much prefer the relative simplicity of Linux driver support in the main (one major exception is the driver package for Samsung multifunction devices; yeah, they make drivers for Linux but they're a bit baroque). Printers are just about the easiest thing, thanks to Apple's development of CUPS, used by basically all Linux distributions. It really is for the most part as simple as grabbing the right PPD out of the Windows driver and dropping it in the right place in CUPS, for those few printers that don't have excellent support already.

The simplicity is usually that, if it's not easy, it's just about impossible, and is as close to a pass/fail as you can get. On Windows there are lots more 'partially' working drivers, in my experience.


I have this mantra -- Windows is for desktops, *nix is for servers -- and never shall the 'twain meet. Varying from this is using a deuce and a half lump to drive that square peg into the round hole. You might make it fit, doesn't make it good.

Since I have driven a deuce and a half as a temporary commuting vehicle, this analogy did draw a chuckle..... But I'm rather happy using CentOS 6 as my primary desktop. We'll see how CentOS 7 plays out, since there are quite a few changes. At least C6 will be supported to 2020.

Rick Ethridge
May 1st, 2014, 07:02 PM
BTW I run DOS 3.3, Win 98SE, Win 2000 SP4, XP SP3, Vista SP2, 7 SP1 and Kubuntu Linux on various systems and I run an XP SP3 VM under Linux. I've run Suse and still plan on installing dual-boot. I once had the latest 32 bit version of Mandriva. And yes, I still use the command line for all of them. You can't get around it to work "under the hood".

lowen
May 1st, 2014, 07:05 PM
Well, here's a big issue--Win7 64 isn't going to run DOS programs, is it?

Or Win16 programs. No WoW or NTVDM. WoW64 is there, but that doesn't help you with 16 bit programs, Win16 or DOS.

deathshadow
May 1st, 2014, 07:06 PM
Well, here's a big issue--Win7 64 isn't going to run DOS programs, is it?
DOSBox... after all, where do you think Paku Paku was compiled and tested? (with code edits done using a modern scintilla based editor -- Flo's Notepad 2, which thankfully isn't a complete piece of Scite like some other editors I just named...)

But then, I've been on x64 versions of Windows on my workstations for a DECADE now so... I'm used to the idea.

Windows XP x64 Corporate -- BEST OS they never pushed hard with; even if it is just Server 2k3 in drag. Of course, I may have just liked it as it didn't have WGA. Make of that what you will...

The loss of Win16 for some reason didn't bother me... for some reason things seemed better without it; but I was an early adopter of x64 so...

deathshadow
May 1st, 2014, 07:11 PM
Since I have driven a deuce and a half as a temporary commuting vehicle
I have the feeling you are thinking of the truck -- as It's unlikely you drove a baby sledgehammer to work. Never heard of a lump hammer? Admittedly, 2.5 pound ones have given way to 3 pound models, but still...
http://www.aspli.com/products/636/carters-2.5lb-lump-hammer

It's actually the joke -- the 2.5 ton truck was called a "jump" since it was brute force like a lump hammer.

lowen
May 1st, 2014, 07:12 PM
...And yes, I still use the command line for all of them. You can't get around it to work "under the hood".

The two best things to come to Windows are the PowerShell and the CLI-mostly Server Core install option (and those are mutually exclusive....).

lowen
May 1st, 2014, 07:15 PM
I have the feeling you are thinking of the truck ...

Yes, I was, but I have a 2.5lb cross peen and I knew what you were talking about.... but it was fun to take it to the truck anyway.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2014, 07:25 PM
DOSBox... after all, where do you think Paku Paku was compiled and tested? (with code edits done using a modern scintilla based editor -- Flo's Notepad 2, which thankfully isn't a complete piece of Scite like some other editors I just named...)


A lot of my scripts are a mix of DOS and Win32 CLI programs. The last time I checked, DOSBox didn't do Win32.

Wine in Linux tries to integrate DOSBox with Win32, but it doesn't succeed. You really want to pass environment variables, run batch scripts with mixed program, etc. If DOSBox were more like some the CP/M emulators that allow you to run 8 bit program in the 16-bit DOS environment transparently, that would be nice. DOSEmu can do that, but doesn't succeed in running Win32 programs (I've tried HX-DOS and it doesn't like DOSemu).

Actually for a lot of what I do, Win98SE is perfect. I get real-mode access to I/O ports; I can run any mix of 16- and 32-bit programs and nothing complains. But sometimes I need XP's capabilities too.

I can get by on XP by using special drivers that change the IOPL on ports for programs that need them--but that apparently doesn't work on 64 bit and not on 32- or 64-bit Win7. Both 2K and XP were perfect. After that, everything goes to hell.

deathshadow
May 1st, 2014, 07:36 PM
A lot of my scripts are a mix of DOS and Win32 CLI programs.
Why the devil would you do that in the first place?!? That's just BEGGING for things to fail... I'm sorry, to me that's a "doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this" moment.

Though yeah, I've seen a lot of little in-house crapplets pull those types of stunts, and it's development techniques like that which resulted in things like, well for example companies who can't update to the new OS or browser because their in-house crapplets won't work... which honestly to me just means sloppy development practices.

People often seem to want to treat batch scripts as if they're a real programming language or use them to 'glue together' programs that were never meant to be glued together -- it's one of those things that I've seen bite developers in the backside time and time and time and time and time again the past twenty years.

Which is a laugh when 15 year old batch scripts don't work on the latest OS, but a 1999 game engine -- something a thousand times more complex -- runs JUST FINE. (and in the case of the Dark Engine, gets more effort in keeping it up to date).


I can get by on XP by using special drivers that change the IOPL on ports for programs that need them--but that apparently doesn't work on 64 bit and not on 32- or 64-bit Win7. Both 2K and XP were perfect. After that, everything goes to hell.
Really, true 32 bit and 64 bit OS are designed to not give you that low level an access to ... well... anything unless you're actually writing a driver... It's actually the Posix model of doing things; hence why doing certain things in Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, etc, etc... are a royal PITA.

It's actually the removal of the ability to get at those that's supposed to make modern OS more stable -- though as both Windows and Linux users can attest, in implementation that's only as good as the people who wrote your drivers... and if you lack the skill to write a driver, the time to learn to write a driver, and need that level access, you're pretty much SOL.

Chuck(G)
May 1st, 2014, 08:02 PM
Show me a CLI version of Vern Buerg's LIST utility. Not a Windows GUI version, but a genuine text-mode one.

There are plenty of times when I'd like to write a 16-bit version of something, but memory needs trump the implementation.

As far as writing Windows mode kernel drivers--been there, done that--from the time of Win 3.0 to XP. I can gobbeldy-gook IoSkipCurrentIrpStackLocation () and IoAttachDeviceToDeviceStack(), KeInitializeSpinlock() and all that other stuff with the best of them. Write four times as much code as you really need. Deal with BSODs debugging it. Wonderful fun. And you have to keep changing them for every new platform, it seems. Linux is really no better.

A lot of my stuff is one-of-a-kind-designed-by-me that will never see prime time.

So tell me about how not to mix 16 and 32-bit code... One-off 16-bit real-mode code is wonderful in its simplicity.

lowen
May 2nd, 2014, 05:50 AM
There are plenty of times when I'd like to write a 16-bit version of something, but memory needs trump the implementation.

While I know this is a bit off-topic, the book 'Unauthorized Windows 95' shows how to bring up a 'Protected Mode DOS' on a Win95 system, in Chapters 6, 7, and 8 (that is, rather than loading the GUI, loading command.com with full DPMI-accessible memory in 32 bit mode). That book should be on every vintage Win95/98-era PC enthusiast's reading list, even though it is quite technical. Most interesting is how this technology showed up in a beta version of MS C version 7, but the overhead of pulling in 500K of things cause MS to release MSC7 with Qualitas' 386MAX. In the beta MSC7, the Win386 kernel shows up by another name as the MS-DOS Protected Mode Interface, or MSDPMI.

For Win95, 98, and ME, the kernel changed names, but is essentially the same beast as Win386 on WfW 3.11. The new name is VMM32.VXD, and it is possible to load into a CLI-only 32-bit 'DOS' by fooling VMM32.VXD into loading COMMAND.COM rather than KRNL386.EXE. You even get 32-bit file access and long filename support in INT 21H calls.

The technology of running mixed 16 and 32 bit code, particularly the case of a 16 bit program calling a 32 bit routine, is actually covered by US Patent 4,974,159. So you can look at the technique in detail.

Chuck(G)
May 2nd, 2014, 07:33 AM
The technology of running mixed 16 and 32 bit code, particularly the case of a 16 bit program calling a 32 bit routine, is actually covered by US Patent 4,974,159. So you can look at the technique in detail.

...commonly referred to as "thunking". Been there, done that--very common in Win 3.1 and 95.

But back on track, DOSBox won't run 32-bit code--not even if you supply a DPMI server of your own. So DOSBox may be fine for the vintage game players, but it's not a real solution.

njroadfan
May 2nd, 2014, 07:38 AM
While I know this is a bit off-topic, the book 'Unauthorized Windows 95' shows how to bring up a 'Protected Mode DOS' on a Win95 system, in Chapters 6, 7, and 8 (that is, rather than loading the GUI, loading command.com with full DPMI-accessible memory in 32 bit mode).

You could do this with Windows 3.1x too using a file called WINSTART.BAT, except its DOS box wasn't as compatible with programs. In terms of memory access its no different than running EMM386 or QEMM on boot.


Well, I have a pile of scanners, printers, and assorted other hardware that have no Win7 driver; I have a few that, even though the driver should work OK it can't be installed, because the 16 bit thunking WoW layer in the NTVDM is no longer there in x64; the installer for the 32-bit drivers is a Win16 program. I have a pile of programs that work better in the commercial version of WINE, Crossover Pro, than they do on Win7.

How old is the scanner and printer? I haven't seen Win16 stub installers in quite a long time. I haven't had driver problems with older devices either. One printer here is an old 2001 HP Officejet, both the printer (LIDIL based) and scanner work fine on 7 x64. My 20 year old Laserjets all work fine since they speak PCL and Postscript.

njroadfan
May 2nd, 2014, 07:46 AM
Show me a CLI version of Vern Buerg's LIST utility. Not a Windows GUI version, but a genuine text-mode one.


I'm guessing you are referring to this program: http://www.bizer.com/zblist/

Honestly, he should port it to something text based. It'll likely be more compatible than a VB6 application (written in 2009!) with later versions of Windows. This is why open source is good, someone likely would have ported to to be a true Win32 console program by now. ;)

Chuck(G)
May 2nd, 2014, 08:07 AM
Yeah, I've seen zblist. It seems to have escaped him that most users of LIST run it from a command line.

Linux/Unix has hd/hexdump, but it's not nearly as nice to use.

But another example--I have an invoicing program written in QB that shells out of a database program and then outputs printed material in HP PCL, which then feeds into GhostPCL to create a PDF file. Why on earth should I rewrite all of that because some idiots have decided not support older platforms? Has Intel decided to abandon the 16-bit x86 instruction set or V86 mode?

Hell, I still know of a guy who uses Micropro Datastar in CP/M emulation mode on his XP system. Yup, that's right--Datastar, the cousin of Wordstar.

njroadfan
May 2nd, 2014, 08:21 AM
Yeah, I've seen zblist. It seems to have escaped him that most users of LIST run it from a command line.

Linux/Unix has hd/hexdump, but it's not nearly as nice to use.

But another example--I have an invoicing program written in QB that shells out of a database program and then outputs printed material in HP PCL, which then feeds into GhostPCL to create a PDF file. Why on earth should I rewrite all of that because some idiots have decided not support older platforms? Has Intel decided to abandon the 16-bit x86 instruction set or V86 mode?

Hell, I still know of a guy who uses Micropro Datastar in CP/M emulation mode on his XP system. Yup, that's right--Datastar, the cousin of Wordstar.

Point your blame at AMD. They were the ones who developed x64 Long Mode and removed the "legacy cruft". The database program sounds Rube Goldberg-ish, but that can at least be modified to work with DOSBox.

Chuck(G)
May 2nd, 2014, 08:50 AM
BTW, disabling hardware acceleration in Firefox didn't cure the problem. I hit "Reqly" here and the response box still misses displaying lines or has other garbage from the screen in it.

lowen
May 2nd, 2014, 09:10 AM
You could do this with Windows 3.1x too using a file called WINSTART.BAT, except its DOS box wasn't as compatible with programs. In terms of memory access its no different than running EMM386 or QEMM on boot.

Yes; Win95 wasn't the huge leap most thought it was. At least not relative to Windows for Workgroups 3.11.


How old is the scanner and printer? I haven't seen Win16 stub installers in quite a long time.

Mid 2000's for the most part, although one high-end Agfa SCSI scanner was just barely supported on XP. And there are some old astronomical freeware packages that are still useful, some even unsupported but working, that have Win16 installers.


I haven't had driver problems with older devices either. One printer here is an old 2001 HP Officejet, both the printer (LIDIL based) and scanner work fine on 7 x64. My 20 year old Laserjets all work fine since they speak PCL and Postscript.

Those work fine, yes.

But I have several still-usable devices that just simply don't have the support. Some aren't printers or scanners, but are a bit more arcane. I have a Tascam US-428 and a Tascam US-224; driver support from Tascam for any 64 bit system doesn't exist. Or, in a Tascam Rep's words: "We do not have Windows 7 compatible drivers at the moment. We are working on Windows 7 drivers for all of our current audio interfaces, they will be available for download on our website very soon. This product is discontinued so there might not be a Windows 7 driver being developed."

Both the US-428 and the US-224 are still in fantastic condition, and the audio quality is wonderful (not to mention the fact that they were not cheap, and other than lack of drivers there is absolutely no reason to toss them). I just have to either use them with AVLinux (which supports them as of 5.0.3 perfectly with a bit of tweaking) or Mac OS X 10.6 and earlier. Completely unsupported on 10.7, 10.8, or 10.9. So I keep my 10.4-running PowerMac G4 FW800 with dual 1.42GHz CPUs around for recording purposes. And, no, I have no need (nor the money!) to replace them any time soon. When the PowerMac goes bye-bye (and it will soon enough, their power supplies are a bit notorious) I'll be doing all of my recordings either with my Edirol R-09 handheld or with the Tascams on AVLinux.

I can't just replace them with a straight sound card, either, since I actually use the control surface built into them for DAW control; it was the presence of a usable control surface, especially the jog wheel, that caused me to buy them in the first place.

Eudimorphodon
May 2nd, 2014, 09:54 AM
BTW, disabling hardware acceleration in Firefox didn't cure the problem. I hit "Reqly" here and the response box still misses displaying lines or has other garbage from the screen in it.

I remember years ago having a problem something like that with the Intel GMA drivers but it was a *long* time ago so I don't recall the details. I think I solved it by disabling compositing at the WM layer. Is there a setting to disable "Desktop Effects" or something similar in your particular distribution's settings panel? (When it comes to my desktop I'm a grumpy old coot and don't want transparent shimmery "look at them shake when I drag them!" windows so shutting that off is still something I do to this day whether it works or not.)

The other thing I'd probably try, given the relatively recent vintage of your hardware, is seeing what video driver you're using and switching to the other if that's an option. There are "binary" and "free" options for both Nvidia and ATI cards; Unless you're religious, which you're clearly not, the binary driver is usually the optimal choice with the Nvidia chipsets but there's some gray area with ATI cards. (Not much though, since ATI tends to be pretty aggressive about knocking cards off the supported list for their binary drivers as soon as the open-source driver works for them; the overlap is usually only a generation or so.) Honestly, since I don't game on my PCs, I prefer machines fitted with ATI cards old enough to be well supported by the open source ATI driver; it seems to be the least troublesome and do the job adequately. Because of Nvidia's "we don't document the hardware without an NDA" policy the open source driver for Geforce cards is probably always going to be broken to some degree or another. (Sad but true.)

Caluser2000
May 2nd, 2014, 11:38 AM
You could do this with Windows 3.1x too using a file called WINSTART.BAT, except its DOS box wasn't as compatible with programs. In terms of memory access its no different than running EMM386 or QEMM on boot.
That would be 3XSTART.EXE http://www.conradshome.com/win31/

Chuck(G)
May 2nd, 2014, 12:30 PM
I should be clear about the display bug--it's in Firefox and Thunderbird. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't occur in other products. It has been reported to the Firefox people as early as 2009. It does not occur in the same version of FF when running in a Windows VBox session.

Eudimorphodon
May 2nd, 2014, 01:00 PM
Strange. I'd still say try turning off compositing (if it's on) just to see, but as I noted I'm highly biased against it, consider it the root of many evils, and therefore it's almost certainly a bum steer. (I lump the early days of compositing into the same category as Gnome 3 near the top of my personal list of "way to make it look bad guys" milestones in the history of open-source desktop environments.)

On the subject of web browsers... I'll say up front that I don't really care much for Google Chrome, but because it's really the only way to get fully-baked Flash support on Linux these days I've been experimenting with it and it's astounding at least how quick it is compared to FireFox. To really give it a challenge I put it on my Debian Dell D600 last night and although I only had about 20 minutes to play so far it's amazing how well it works. Among other things I sicced it on several NewGrounds-style animations to test the Flash support and it didn't skip a beat. It was almost like being back in 2003 again, when those first Pentium M laptops amazed us with how quick and responsive they were compared to the P4M/Mobile Pentium 4 bricks they replaced. Firefox (or in this case, "IceWeasel") is an utter slug by comparison. (I wonder if I should check and see if it's trying to use hardware acceleration.) :p

I'll have to fiddle with it more but if it works this well I may have to get over my prejudices against Chrome. Not sure that'll be possible without actually resorting to a lobotomy, however. (Some of what it does borders on spooky, like when on the first run on the laptop it automatically fetched and installed the adblocker extension I'd put on the desktop the day before. Thank you Big Brother...)

Chuck(G)
May 2nd, 2014, 01:10 PM
Don't forget that Opera is now based on Chrome. A sad day for a fine alternative browser.

Caluser2000
May 2nd, 2014, 01:35 PM
It's still bloody quick. Just installed it on the XP Pro box. FF is a pig. Running Opera 8.5 on my RH 7.3 box was quicker that using FF 29 on this system.

SpidersWeb
May 2nd, 2014, 02:42 PM
FF seems to have it's ups and downs with regards to speed across different releases.
For testing at work I use IE, FF, and Chrome and right now my default seems to be Chrome - but a few months back it was FF.

njroadfan
May 15th, 2014, 06:47 PM
For those lovers of DOS software. Someone managed to trigger v86 mode while booted to a x64 OS.

http://v86-64.sourceforge.net/

Chuck(G)
May 15th, 2014, 09:07 PM
Interesting--I've set a bookmark for it and will check it out later.