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?
Happy to report that I’m typing this little missive from my freshly updated Firefox web browser on openSUSE Linux 13.1. While I do that, the YaST Software Management module is busily adding an array of new software from community repositories located all over the globe. As I’ve noted 1000 times before (most recently in this post), YaST stands for Yet another Setup Tool, and remains the most wonderful thing about openSUSE.
While most of the excitement may have surrounded the new openSUSE release, Ubuntu developers gathered around their computers for the November Ubuntu Developers Summit (UDS). I missed most of Mark Shuttleworth’s opening keynote, but hope to catch up with it later. It appears that he took some probing questions from attendees (when I came in to the feed, Shuttleworth was “denying the premise behind your question;” but I don’t know what the question was.) You can see the video (link above) at the UDS site.
I also lurked at the Documentation team round-table, where some planning got done. I will likely have more to report on this in the coming days. The Summit goes through Thursday.
Got questions about openSUSE, or Ubuntu Touch? Always happy to answer them here. Have you attended a developers conference (or hear Shuttleworth ranting)? Feel free to share your experiences!
This was fun! I curated every Twitter post and G+ reference to “openSUSE” all weekend, and made a story of it here. Sadly, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with tweets to choose from. Perhaps the wi-fi wasn’t that good. I hope next year, they can stream it!
Indirectly, the summit also put me into Twitter a lot more this weekend than in the recent past. Upside: There’s always so much to assimilate, and fun to have.
My wife took me shopping yesterday. I think she had more fun. My work shoes have pretty much worn out, so I got a new pair, plus a belt and four pairs of jeans (buy one, get one half-off) at Kohl’s. It had to be done, but it took too long.
Making Real Progress on the book
It’s still not quite ready, because I keep adding things that readers need to know, but my to-do list tells me I’m around 90% done with Chapter 9. Perhaps I’ll finish the app developer chapter in time for the Ubuntu Developers Summit this week!
April in November: Weather in the Midwest
Yes it rained pretty much all weekend here in Milwaukee. Thankfully, we avoided the worst of it (kind thoughts to folks in Illinois and elsewhere with tornadoes and such), but I missed getting to walk outside!
Quite a team that Omidyar and Greenwald are assembling
Warning to my new NaBloPoMo readers: This is one of my geeky, technical posts. It’s about the Linux operating system. It’s been sitting in the queue for a little while.
A few weeks ago, openSUSE Community Manager Jos Poortvliet talked with members of the SUSE YaST development team on porting YaST to Ruby. I’ve long said that the best thing about openSUSE as a distribution is the one-stop configuration tool called YaST. My feelings about this are even stronger since I’ve spent more time with Ubuntu.
Before reading this interview, I was mystified why other Linux distros didn’t adapt YaST’s open-source code to create “Yet another Setup Tool” for their own systems. Now I know: You almost had to be a SUSE employee to learn YaST’s custom programming language!
That changes with openSUSE 13.1. YaST is now written in the popular Ruby scripting language. Apparently, once the team decided to make the switch, it was easier (though time-consuming) to port than they originally projected.
Mini-Review: My Testing
The best thing to report after playing with the new YaST in the release candidates is that existing users aren’t likely to notice much difference. The KDE interface doesn’t look any different, and performance is pretty much the same, at least in the VirtualBox I’ve got the RC running in. I look forward to running it on its own partition soon.