desktop nonsense

I’d go further than Asa and say a truly seamless install would achieve equivalent compatibility that OS X achieves – install into NTFS, run Windows apps from the shell via double click, and reading resources from the Windows executables for display in the shell. Users should be able to transition what is effectively a new “shell” and still run all their productivity apps – MS Word, Photoshop, etc.

Ben Goodger‘s fantasy about desktop Linux

I suppose this is sarcasm, after Asa Dotzler’s pieces on desktop Linux and migration from Windows which defined a bloody long list of near-impossible goals.

So here’s a desktop Linux vs Windows story, partially focused on hardware support, since that’s the usual complaint against desktop Linux.
Months ago, I was kind of fed up with Gentoo and thought about installing both Ubuntu and Windows XP in the spare partitions I had.
I proceeded by installing Windows and then Ubuntu. Both installations took about half an hour.

At the end of the Windows install, here’s what I had:

  • a 800×600 resolution on the natively 1280×1024 screen, with no way to get a higher one than 1024×768 until I download the graphics card’s driver
  • “unknown” peripherals: my webcam, and a USB gamepad
  • no network (I was using Wi-fi at the time)
  • no Bluetooth

Since I always lose my hardware’s driver CDs, I was at a loss with an ugly resolution and no internet connection.

At the end of the Ubuntu install, the situation was different:

  • screen resolution was the LCD’s native one, 1280×1024 ; 3D acceleration wasn’t provided by the included driver (blame nVidia), but at least the desktop didn’t look like a stretched piece of blurry ink spills
  • in the menu was an app named Camorama that, as its name implied, allowed me to use my Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000 webcam
  • had I had games to install, I could have played some with the USB gamepad (a Logitech, can’t remember the kind)
  • Bluetooth apps were there in the system menu, using the D-Link DBT120 dongle
  • I could browse the web with Firefox, since my Wi-fi card (a Peabird WLG PCI) was recognised and I could configure the connection during the install process

Draw your own conclusions.

I for one bought a used G4 yesterday, and relocated the PC to the living room, where it will run until I am done transfering my data to the Mac.
(Because, since no desktop operating system is perfect, I couldn’t mount my ext3 /home partition with Tiger, while I could do it with FreeBSD… help?)

4 responses

  1. well, yeah, but you got no entropy collection other than keyboard/mouse.
    and THAT sucks.

    #1 vlam2005/07/22 at 15:20

  2. Slightly unfair, since Ubuntu is running a more updated hardware database than any Windows XP CD pre-SP2.

    Also, nVidia refused to get their video drivers MS certified, so they didn’t go onto the CD.

    And is your hardware newer than the XP CD?

    Look at this, defending XP against ubuntu from OS X. I’ll be shot…

    #2 Aquarion2005/07/23 at 12:29

  3. Slightly unfair indeed.
    What I intended to demonstrate was that the decade old “Linux sucks for drivers” and “Linux doesn’t ship with apps I need” myths both needed a good debunking.

    I may redo that bare install test in the future, with an ethernet cable plugged in so that I could download SP2 right away, to see which effects an updated hardware database would have on my experience of a bare Windows install.

    #3 michel v — 2005/07/25 at 10:49

  4. ‘I couldn’t mount my ext3 /home partition with Tiger, while I could do it with FreeBSD… help?’

    I’m in the same situation.. http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsx/ used to do the trick but apparently Apple messed around with the kernel interface between 10.3 and 10.4 and a significant amount of work will be required to get it working again. Still, worth checking the website from time to time – I’m sure the problem will be resolved eventually

    #4 Pete — 2005/08/30 at 0:30

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