While writing yesterday’s milestone post, I realized I failed to mention the most popular post (by far) in the history of this blog, also known as the day I was linked to by DistroWatch Weekly.
Past as prologue
Curiously enough, that post topic echoes Tuesday’s post on the openSUSE 13.2 release. You see, openSUSE 11.0 was released in June 2008 to much fanfare, in part because the new version of the KDE desktop was included in the release. KDE 4.0 was what we now commonly call a “technical preview,” not really ready for production. Nonetheless, openSUSE allowed users the choice to install the “old” KDE 3.5 desktop, the new KDE 4.0 desktop, or the continuing GNOME 2 desktop. Despite some warnings that KDE 4 was not quite ready for everyday use, some folks installed it anyway. Pandemonium ensued on the support lists.
In this post, “openSUSE 11.0 and KDE 4,” I offered my take on the “crisis.” In brief, people needed to think about their systems before installing major new components. There was blame to be shared, but just because Linux folks were used to working with applications with version numbers of 0.4 didn’t mean that everything would always work perfectly.
Apparently someone at the DistroWatch site (a place to learn about Linux distributions) thought I had something to say, and two days later, hundreds of folks were dropping by. The post sparked some interesting conversation in the comments as well. For a blogger, things rarely could get better.
Eventually, KDE 4 became eminently workable, and pretty darn cool. While some folks never got over the shock of the bad rollout (and still complain about how terrible KDE is now), KDE development continues apace. Sometime in the last few years, the Trinity project launched to recreate KDE 3.5. I’ve heard they found it difficult to reproduce on modern systems. So it goes.
KDE Plasma 5: Don’t say you weren’t warned
Much has changed in KDE since 2008. With openSUSE 13.2, another new KDE desktop, based on the KDE 5 Framework is included with the distribution. But it’s not one of he options in the install. Many will set it up separately to play with, but much of the code won’t work side-by-side with KDE 4. A lesson learned.
As the month of November continues, I’ll have more to say about all these topics (openSUSE, KDE 4 and KDE 5). I’m still planning to try all the other supported desktops. Maybe I’ll have a new favorite by the end of the month. Stranger things have happened!
Got any memories of the KDE 4 rollout? How about GNOME 3, which didn’t go a lot better for some users? Let me know in the comments!
Not to be redundant, but if you live in the United States and it’s still Tuesday, November 4, 2014, you should finish voting before coming back here to read. Polls close, but this collection of words will be here for eternity. Folks younger than 18: you’re excused, but the rest of you…
Now, no matter where you live, or how old you are, you’re reading this on a computer of some sort. If that computer is an Intel-based desktop or laptop, it’s your lucky day: you can upgrade your system to openSUSE 13.2!
While I’ve played with the beta for a couple of weeks, the update server downloaded and installed some 3100+ upgraded software packages to my computer last night (hours ahead of the official release). I’ll be stress-testing the system watching election returns (video, radio, live-blogs, whatever else I can use to feed the news junkie).
Among the favorite things Linux brings you generally is an abundance of choices, and it begins with your desktop environment. This distribution offers seven different ways to organize your daily work. As a KDE guy from day one, I’m really looking forward to trying some of the newer options.
However, there are a number of areas where this interface falls short. The most glaring can be that often the applications lack a description or have one so short as to be nearly useless. Another significant point is the lack of user reviews. Reviews help flesh out things that may be missed in a description, as well as provide tips at a glance on what the new user should expect. I believe reviews would be reasonably easy to implement in the current domain, and getting more robust descriptions should not be terribly difficult.
Yet Another Shopping Cart?
Another problem with the current Download setup is that you have to find and run install packages one at a time. Luedecke believes (and I hope he’s right) that openSUSE could allow users to create a ‘cart’ to select a bunch of packages and then check out. The software would then package everything in the cart, downloading and installing it all with one set of confirmations. This would make installing new stuff from the web as easy as installing packages with the Zypper command line interface, or the YaST software management module.
Good descriptions also simplifies the search for high-quality replacements. If it were up to me, I’d add an “Alternative to” field to the description, so people looking for a Photoshop replacement could easily find The GIMP (perhaps a lame, obvious example, but you know what I mean). The AlternativeTo site could offer a database to pluck from.
Reading through the comments on this post, you’ll find some responses from those resistant to change, but I really hope this happens in a reasonable time frame. Will keep an eye on this in the meantime.
If you’re a Linux user (of any distro): How do you discover and try out new free/open source software? Does your distribution make it easy to get new stuff that meets your changing needs?
If you don’t use Linux now: Do you worry that you won’t be able to find the type of software you need? Have you been frustrated when trying to find a replacement for your favorite application? Anything else holding you back?