Monday, February 21, 2011

Great video on why Linux "sucks"

Why Linux (Still) Sucks. (And What We Can Do To Fix It).

(Also on Youtube)
By Bryan Lunduke of Jupiter Broadcasting

(Going to kind of do this a little differently: Here's an outline of what he said with specific quotes, cause Bryan is so quotable. Some things are moved around and some things are from the slides.)

  • Despite the fact that Linux sucks in a lot of ways, it is awesome and it has come a long way in just the last year.
  • Fedora has really pushed the envelope in terms of technology...whereas Ubuntu, on the other hand, has really pushed the envelope in terms of just taking stuff that's stable and making it look really really pretty.
  • It is ridiculous to look at [Ubuntu's old brown appearance] and think someone thought this looked good.
  • Linux makes a great server...Linux is doing great in the mobile space, still doing great in the embedded space, and we still suck at marketing.

Things we still haven't figured out:
  1. Audio/drivers
    • Driver issues have become a little less of a problem. They're still there...but it's not as bad as it was...The biggest thing that still plagues us is the lack of particular types of software.
    • [On audio frameworks] We are essentially not just duplicating effort, we are -in most cases- triplicating and quadruplifuncicating just to make a good audio experience on Linux...The simple things: Audio Playback.
    • We want to have 30,000 different options, we want total freedom of choice. But we don't have enough resources to have 10 different audio frameworks and all make them good. If we did, that would be awesome and we should do it. But we don't, so we need to standardize.
  2. Hardware Issues
    • New versions should not have less functionality on modern equipment.
    • Why on god's green earth, every six months, are we revving to the very very latest cutting edge version of [] that is awesome but every time we rev it, we break everything? Why not trail by a couple months, wait for the drivers to catch up...then we will not have those continual video card breakages.
    • Microsoft and Apple would not make that mistake. I don't like making mistakes that they wouldn't make. I like to point at them and laugh at them. I think we all do.
  3. Packaging sucks
    • It's very much a matter of having too many packaging formats and that results in way too much duplicated effort.
    • Let's just freaking standardize...But, really, it doesn't matter. Just pick [a format] and everybody freaking use it.
    • It's the same software packaged up in some sort of a tar archive with a little tiny text file that says "Here's where you install the software". There's no real difference between them.
  4. Audio Editing
    • Where is our GarageBand?
    • This is software that has been available on other platforms since before Linux was an idea.
  5. Video Editing
    • One year ago I gave this session and video editing sucked rocks...One year ago I would not have thought we could get this far in just one year
  6. Applications
    • We don't have Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator and that makes it very hard to integrate into a production environment that already exists.
  7. Games
    • Games are huge. They drive system adoption.
    • There are very few open source games that started as open source projects and became A-list quality titles.
    • If Valve released Steam for Linux, I would freak out and jump for joy. I would leap out of this window and survive simply on will alone.
  8. Funding
    • The Linux kernel is not a weekend project. The majority of the Linux kernel is commercially funded and has been for years.
    • A team of 5 dedicated, full time developers is typically going to be more productive than 50 developers who only putz a little on the weekend.
    • We, as Linux users, need to accept that software costs money to make.
    • We then need to...donate to Open Source projects in the amount roughly equalling what we'd pay to a commercial product...or purchase closed source software for Linux in order to encourage the companies to bring more to Linux.
    • [On the Ubuntu software store thingy] That is gonna freak alot of people out. But just the same, hopefully -hopefully- they make it so that people can earn a living making Linux-specific software. Closed source or open source, I don't even care: I just need more software.
    1. Software Stores/Sales
      • On the Windows and Mac side, there are magazines and websites galore that focus on software release news...On the Linux side of things, what do we have?
      • Come on. How many people have downloaded Linux software from Anybody? Has anybody ever done it? Once?
      • Here's the problem: no one knows when the software goes out.
      • A Sourceforge store? That would be wild and if flaming pigs were flying out of every orifice in this room, it might happen. 
      • [In response to "We don't have the market share"] Here's the thing: from a desktop Linux standpoint, we have a higher market share than the Mac did 4 years ago.
      • Most people steal software. Windows or Mac. Linux is not gonna be any different. We're not that special.

(And now, my thoughts, in pseudo-random order:)

  • In terms of drivers, I honestly feel like Linux excels in this area. With Windows, alot of times I have to finagle a piece of hardware to get it working. Then I boot into Ubuntu, and everything works. Out of the box. Now the only problem is when it doesn't work. To my knowledge, instead of just updating a driver, you have to update your kernel, which is more complex and frustrating than just downloading the newest EXE off the hardware company's website. Again, like he said: for the most part, with larger distros that are updated regularly, things tend to work now. But then there are the exceptions.
  • In terms of audio, I cannot express how much I agree with him. Honestly. I guess I'm coming at this from ignorance, but the thing that people are working tirelessly sound. Bring sound to a Linux desktop, that already has working sound. But oh! Their sound is different than my sound, so I'll continue to use my sound. In essence, they all do the same thing, so the Linux community needs to do exactly what Bryan said: pick one (preferably the one with the most traction) and standardize.
  • I think that alot of people -especially the type of people that use Linux- when they run into problems, just tend to ignore them or work around them, so his points on hardware problems tend to be overlooked. I mean, yeah, the Wifi or sound will stop working for a little while, but eventually the drivers will catch up, or the Ubuntu team will find a way to fix it before the next update. But his statement about Windows and Apple really got to the punch, in my opinion. Windows and Apple do many things that I cannot even conceive because I cannot possibly understand how they would logically come to that conclusion. So when Linux finds itself making mistakes that even they would know to avoid, it's kind of a warning sign to me.
  • Packaging is something that still kind of enrages me. It's got alot of issues that need sorting out, even before considering commercial applications.
    • Obviously one of the points he talked about was all the multiple formats. Seriously. Standardize. Now look, when it comes to DEs or WMs or things of that nature, I'm all for variety; I hate people that try to force you to use one web browser or code editor or whatnot. But truly, RPM, DEB, and all the others do the same thing, and while there are apparently very complicated differences, I've heard it asked before and I'll reiterate: What can DEB do that RPM can't, or vice versa? I used to think that there were things like Yum checking the server every time and apt-get not, but now that I think about it, that's application specific, meaning that I'm pretty sure one could make a RPM manager that doesn't check the server every time and a DEB manager that does (if they don't already exist....if they do, then this proves my novice-ness.)
      I know my opinion is going to sound biased, but I honestly think DEB should just become the standard format. There's a few small reasons that I think puts it above the competition, mostly the fact that Ubuntu and Debian based distros have pushed it to the top and GetDeb is also a good motivator, but in the end, I don't care. Just pick one and stick with it. And that's not saying that the others would just have to die, it just means that one should become the standard. If someone really wants RPM, then by all means, use RPM. But if every distro defaultly started with DEB or whatever was the standard, it would make life so much easier.
    • That leads to the next of the problems of what he kind of hinted at, software sites. People use Repositories or the Ubuntu Software Center to add apps in Linux. Other than GetDeb, I've never really heard of sites where you can go to download Linux installers. People download what is in the repository, and occasionally add new smaller repos to install something else (like maybe Songbird). But the fact remains: it's different than Windows, at least. With Windows, you search sites like Sourceforge or PortableFreeware or any of the sites I list in the "Good Resources" post of FreewareWire; you search what you want, then download the installer and boom, you have it. Linux tries to localize things in a way that frankly, I've never understood. Are repos nice? Heck yes. Are they the best way to do things? I'm not so sure. They're great because it's an extremely organized, extremely well maintained list of software that you can download all from one place. The bad part is, how does one find out new software (commercial or free)? From what I can tell, Repos tend to have alot of the same software, apps that have been genuinely accepted as stable and a part of the Linux world. But if you're going to write a new piece of software and want to get the word out, how do you do it if people never leave their Repo?
    • So that's one half of the problem: discovery. I honestly think that GetDeb is kind of the answer to the call when it comes to a for Linux. It's a good looking, well organized, functional website. And on top of this, it's got the GetDeb repo, which is a huge bonus. But the fact of the matter is that it really isn't set up for two things: getting the word out about new apps (even though that could change, like maybe an "Upcoming" section), and commercial apps (which could also change). I think that GetDeb or a site like it could be the answer except that it only appeals to the DEB base of Linux users, which -although it is the largest currently- is still small when considering how small the Linux userbase is, meaning that the DEB target is a fraction of a fraction. One solution is that if DEB were to become the standard, sites like GetDeb could cater to every major distro easily, meaning they would grow exponentially. Another solution is to keep everything diversified and create a package for every single distro (practically) and make GetDeb diversify as well, "quadruplifuncicating" its efforts, as Bryan would say.
  • For Audio and Video, I don't have much to say, other than I too am impressed with the Video portion, and kind of astounded at the lack of Audio. Maybe I'm just naive, but Video editing seems so much more complicated than Audi why is Audio editing next-to-nonexistant on Linux?
  • He mentioned image management being a lacking category, which I would very much agree with...but Shotwell is hopefully closing that gap. But seriously.....Ubuntu trading out F-Spot for Shotwell is probably the dumbest thing I've ever seen Ubuntu -or any Linux distro- do. I do not care for F-Spot and Shotwell definitely looks good and I can tell I will love it. But it was so amazingly immature, for Ubuntu to make Shotwell the default when it did, I would say, borders on irresponsible.
  • Not much to say on Games....PlayDeb is awesome and amazing, I think, even if just for free/open source games. From my limited perception, Valve bring Steam to Linux is the most logical and probable way for games to enter Linux at all, and here's why:
    • I think most companies are confident on the fact that most Linux users are also forced to use other platforms (*coughWindowscough*) for other reasons, or at least are willing to dual-boot/VM, so most are willing to buy that product for Windows. The creators of Darksiders are not going to spend the time and money to port it to Linux if everyone is going to buy it on Windows if they don't. They need to see not only a Linux user that will buy a game if it is available for Linux, but also if that same user will not buy the same game that is already available on Windows or Mac. And unfortunately, I think that's a difficult thing to force on them, since we all love playing games.
    • The difference with this is Steam, because it kind of 'eases in' to Linux gaming. Alot of people already use Steam, so Valve knows that what type of following it's got. They could follow the same trend as Mac and gradually port games over until all the games you already own on Windows or Mac can be played on Linux. This is the way that I think will hopefully happen to bring gaming to Linux. I guess the core difference for my theory is that Steam is a platform, not a specific game, and plus, Valve could create a "Linux Only" (and "Mac Only", if you want to get anal) section after it's successfully ported a good number of games, so then developers could see the numbers of people that buy and play on Linux and then spend their time developing solely for Linux inside an app that promotes Linux games. How awesome is that?
  • In terms of Funding, Bryan really kind of changed the way I thought about funding open source period. I just fell into the mindset of "Free software! Yay!" and forgot that people wrote this, and continue to write it, and as much as we would love to believe that writing it doesn't cost money, it does. So his video was kind of an awakening to me, and actually inspired me to write my post called Donate to free software / services. (This just goes to show how long a post can sit in my "Drafts" section, since I initially saw Bryan's video before making that post.) That post really sums up my thoughts on donating, for the most part. Corporate backing and all that other jazz....well, I'm still kind of undecided on that stuff.
On a closing note, I'd like to say that Bryan is the first non-fanboy Linux-fan I've ever seen. When I saw the video that had "Linux" and "Sucks" in the title and did not hear someone bashing how terrible it is, I was honestly shocked. Bryan is great because he's actually kind of impartial. (You can tell he love Linux, but he also knows that it 'sucks'.) Rather than taking the high-and-mighty route that many fanboys take, he gets down to the nitty gritty and says "Yes, Linux does suck in a number of ways. But beyond that, here are the solutions." It's extremely refreshing, and I'll definitely follow up on Bryan and his show to get more of his insights and quotable quotes.

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