Author Topic: Are we finally there with Linux?  (Read 1557 times)

Are we finally there with Linux?
« on: April 02, 2021, 12:14:03 PM »
I have just installed Lubuntu on my laptop in the last couple of days, and remarkably everything worked straight from the live boot.  My external wifi dongle, external keyboard with a touchpad, all connected via a USB hub, all working straight away.  It took me about 5 minutes to decide to format and install it.  Even installing an enterprise network certificate was relatively painless.  I had to look up how to run a .py file and after following instructions for Debian, Lubuntu's terminal window told me the correct command I was looking for!

Where I was constantly connecting and disconnecting on Windows, since installing Lubuntu I've been permanently connected.  So amazingly the wifi drivers are working better than they did on Windows.

Application-wise, I have virtually everything I had on Windows except Foobar2000.  And everything runs so much smoother than it did on Windows, especially 10. I'm absolutely delighted.

If anyone has tried to switch to a Linux distro before and had issues, they might find that now is the time try again!! 

Any other Linux users?  Any recommendations?  Any Windows users willing to defend it?!

Are we finally at the stage where there are (many) Linux distros that are superior to Windows/MacOS and just as easy to setup?

Gurke and Hare

  • Fold water. Roll into small cubes.
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2021, 12:24:09 PM »
There are obviously a few applications that aren't there but it's been there for me for a few years now - I use Linux Mint and as you say, everything just works now. Printing suddenly just working was a big, and pleasant surprise for me as that was one of the things I always had a problem with. I bought a graphics card last year, plugged it in - it just worked. Even gaming is pretty good now - most of the AAA console titles only get Windows ports, and the last couple of versions of Football Manager haven't supported it, but most of the big strategy games of the type I like playing come out for it - Civ, Cities in Motion, Crusader Kings, that kind of thing. There's never anything I want to do that I'd need to switch to windows for.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2021, 12:42:48 PM »
Most things have worked right out of the box for me for about a decade or so. WiFi used to be a pain in the arse but isn't now. I bought a cheap and nasty bluetooth clone dongle that doesn't work by that's my fault.

I use raw debian on my work pc and home laptop. I generally find it less fiddly than setting up a windows machine now and given I can do most things through the browser it makes little difference.

I wouldn't really sell it as a solution to casual computer users unless they were on a budget and were using old hardware or something though.

The biggest pain in the arse I had recently was trying to get a drm-ed ebook onto my e-reader,  which required Adobe Digital editions. There were various solutions that required wine, and installing a load of dotnet bloat only for the whole thing to fail miserably, I tried a dockerised version too that allowed access into the container via vnc, which also failed due to a debian-specific bug I think. One solution that would've worked would've been to download the Microsoft virtual machine they ship for testing the edge browser, which is really just a time-limited Windows 10 VM in its entirety, but that's horrendously bloated so I just downloaded a copy of the book I'd bought off of libgen with the DRM already stripped off.

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2021, 02:12:27 PM »
Most things have worked right out of the box for me for about a decade or so. WiFi used to be a pain in the arse but isn't now. I bought a cheap and nasty bluetooth clone dongle that doesn't work by that's my fault.

I use raw debian on my work pc and home laptop. I generally find it less fiddly than setting up a windows machine now and given I can do most things through the browser it makes little difference.

I wouldn't really sell it as a solution to casual computer users unless they were on a budget and were using old hardware or something though.

The biggest pain in the arse I had recently was trying to get a drm-ed ebook onto my e-reader,  which required Adobe Digital editions. There were various solutions that required wine, and installing a load of dotnet bloat only for the whole thing to fail miserably, I tried a dockerised version too that allowed access into the container via vnc, which also failed due to a debian-specific bug I think. One solution that would've worked would've been to download the Microsoft virtual machine they ship for testing the edge browser, which is really just a time-limited Windows 10 VM in its entirety, but that's horrendously bloated so I just downloaded a copy of the book I'd bought off of libgen with the DRM already stripped off.

Yeah, I've always been tantalisingly close to using for about a decade.  It was always the lack of support for external WIFI, and the thought of then trying to connect to an enterprise network after.  I connect to the city's Wifi network in case anyone wonders.

The only thing I'm having issues with is audio, which was a bit skippy earlier before I changed a setting in a conf file and restarted pulse.  It still skips now and again, but Windows did way worse things to audio as it chugged through a hundred other things.

I know what you mean regarding the casual user, but you could argue that forcing a casual user to install stuff via a package manager is a massive advantage, stopping them from installing SUPER DOWNLOAD MANAGER, and so on. 

For the latter sort of issues (for me ProtonVPN & Windscribe), I installed a tiny version of Windows7 in a virtualbox last night.  It's iso is only 690mb and it comes activated.  Adwcleaner didn't find anything bad, I never looked too hard though.  Was a bit of a hassle to get internet explorer to work enough to download another browser.  It's here if you are interested - https://archive.org/details/Tiny7

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2021, 02:24:06 PM »
you could argue that forcing a casual user to install stuff via a package manager is a massive advantage, stopping them from installing SUPER DOWNLOAD MANAGER, and so on. 
On that particular topic, it's interesting that Windows and Mac are becoming more aligned to the package manager model, with the pushing of App Stores on each platform. Also tied up with being able to push various policies on apps, for better or worse, not entirely unlike Linux distributions.

(The gaming situation on Windows is interesting, as it has sort of coalesced to a 'stores' model already - but with multiple stores, almost all with very dubious package management capabilities.[1])
 1. Increasingly tangential, I think it's interesting that itch.io's desktop app is the only example I've seen that supports sandboxing games/apps as part of its feature set - which seems like a fantastic idea for a games store, given the really limited need for almost any game to interact with most of the rest of system.

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2021, 02:28:27 PM »
There are obviously a few applications that aren't there but it's been there for me for a few years now - I use Linux Mint and as you say, everything just works now. Printing suddenly just working was a big, and pleasant surprise for me as that was one of the things I always had a problem with. I bought a graphics card last year, plugged it in - it just worked. Even gaming is pretty good now - most of the AAA console titles only get Windows ports, and the last couple of versions of Football Manager haven't supported it, but most of the big strategy games of the type I like playing come out for it - Civ, Cities in Motion, Crusader Kings, that kind of thing. There's never anything I want to do that I'd need to switch to windows for.

I might have to try out Linux Mint and see how it runs.  As you say there are some applications that aren't there.  Ableton specifically for me, but I've always kept another non-internet machine for that anyway.  I'm not really a gamer at all, but I know Football Manager!  I discovered the free CM0102 and the modern tweaks updates a few years back and lost a few weeks!  Dangerous stuff....

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2021, 02:46:49 PM »
On that particular topic, it's interesting that Windows and Mac are becoming more aligned to the package manager model, with the pushing of App Stores on each platform. Also tied up with being able to push various policies on apps, for better or worse, not entirely unlike Linux distributions.

(The gaming situation on Windows is interesting, as it has sort of coalesced to a 'stores' model already - but with multiple stores, almost all with very dubious package management capabilities.[1])
 1. Increasingly tangential, I think it's interesting that itch.io's desktop app is the only example I've seen that supports sandboxing games/apps as part of its feature set - which seems like a fantastic idea for a games store, given the really limited need for almost any game to interact with most of the rest of system.

My knowledge is probably way out of date but I thought games were quite tightly coupled to parts of the system through things like directx?

Games are already quite bloated, but for normal software I find things can get quite bloated quite quickly when using things like snapcraft and sometimes there are issues with things that require extra permissions. I was trying to burn a windows iso to a usb key on linux recently and the tool installed through snapcraft just wasn't having it, ended up having to laboriously install it via make.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2021, 02:48:37 PM »
I might have to try out Linux Mint and see how it runs.  As you say there are some applications that aren't there.  Ableton specifically for me, but I've always kept another non-internet machine for that anyway.  I'm not really a gamer at all, but I know Football Manager!  I discovered the free CM0102 and the modern tweaks updates a few years back and lost a few weeks!  Dangerous stuff....

I thought Mint was quite good when I last tried it, a nice usable middleground between the kitchen-sink (bloated) ecosystem of Ubuntu and the bare 'you're on your own' state of Debian.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2021, 02:55:26 PM »
My knowledge is probably way out of date but I thought games were quite tightly coupled to parts of the system through things like directx?
They need access to libraries (and hardware via those particular interfaces), sure, but mostly they don't need to read or write anything in my documents and personal data other than maybe some mods[1], config and save games. This is in contrast to say, a word processor or even a music player.

(There are some exceptions - games like Audiosurf, maybe.  Setting aside that really something like that needs to talk to streaming services these days if it wants to sell well…)

Quote
Games are already quite bloated, but for normal software I find things can get quite bloated quite quickly when using things like snapcraft and sometimes there are issues with things that require extra permissions.
I don't think that the itch.io thing handles things like dependencies in the way that snaps do.

I was going to say that I don't think any games stores bother to do anything intelligent with even basic dependencies, but apparently Steam does (although I'm convinced I've had some stuff installed over and over again…).
 1. Although the store might be able to handle some of this.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2021, 03:11:55 PM »
They shouldn't have to touch my documents but I bet they fill %APP_DATA% and %USER_DATA% full of shit. They don't have to, but I bet they do.

I installed w10 on a machine the other day to try something, not really having had much experience of windows past 7 and while I don't find it terrible it's certainly a bit odd. With 'new' style configuration menus acting like a vaneer to familiar 'old' settings windows. I'm not really sure what the point is, it feels like a needless layer of abstraction and the UI feels a bit incomplete, both in how it actually functions and how it looks.

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2021, 03:17:36 PM »
On that particular topic, it's interesting that Windows and Mac are becoming more aligned to the package manager model, with the pushing of App Stores on each platform. Also tied up with being able to push various policies on apps, for better or worse, not entirely unlike Linux distributions.

Yeah I think it's an advantage for the reasons I said, but I don't personally love it much on Windows.  I've used Windows since floppy disks.  I don't need to be told what to do.  It's an advantage for me on Linux because installing stuff with commands and building stuff, and dependencies is just a nightmare. 

It's all part of a bigger move away from traditional computers where the 'app' thing makes more sense actually.  It's often deviously implemented though.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2021, 03:25:40 PM »
They shouldn't have to touch my documents but I bet they fill %APP_DATA% and %USER_DATA% full of shit. They don't have to, but I bet they do.
Mmm, but you can handle that in most operating systems fairly cleanly.

On Windows, Itch.io just runs games as a separate user.[1] (It presumably could setup and teardown users every time you start a game, if it was prepared to handle messing about with files, but Windows doesn't make this a particularly light task AFAIK.[2])

On Linux, it uses firejail which intercepts all read and write syscalls (amongst other things).

(They don't handle this stuff as cleverly in Mac OS, but it still keeps games out of ~/Documents and major browsers' files.)
 1. I have no idea how this works with interfacing with the current user's session. Windows session management is a mystery to me, one that's slightly infuriating now I've started messing about with PowerShell over SSH…
 2. Compare with systemd's DynamicUser feature?

touchingcloth

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Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2021, 03:37:18 PM »
With large capacity flash drives being dirt cheap these days, I feel like everyone should have a go at trying running a live Linux disty even if they don’t take the plunge into a proper dual boot.

The only thing I use Windows for is work and I fucking hate it. I’m going to be replacing my 2024 MacBook with a new Air soon, but if they were still underpowered like they were a few years back I’d totally have considered a Linux laptop rather than a Windows one.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2021, 03:38:16 PM »
Mmm, but you can handle that in most operating systems fairly cleanly.

On Windows, Itch.io just runs games as a separate user.[1] (It presumably could setup and teardown users every time you start a game, if it was prepared to handle messing about with files, but Windows doesn't make this a particularly light task AFAIK.[2])

On Linux, it uses firejail which intercepts all read and write syscalls (amongst other things).

(They don't handle this stuff as cleverly in Mac OS, but it still keeps games out of ~/Documents and major browsers' files.)
 1. I have no idea how this works with interfacing with the current user's session. Windows session management is a mystery to me, one that's slightly infuriating now I've started messing about with PowerShell over SSH…
 2. Compare with systemd's DynamicUser feature?

I've always thought windows "multi-user" stuff on home installations (rather than through a proper domain controller) has largely been a mirage.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2021, 03:41:14 PM »
With large capacity flash drives being dirt cheap these days, I feel like everyone should have a go at trying running a live Linux disty even if they don’t take the plunge into a proper dual boot.

The only thing I use Windows for is work and I fucking hate it. I’m going to be replacing my 2024 MacBook with a new Air soon, but if they were still underpowered like they were a few years back I’d totally have considered a Linux laptop rather than a Windows one.

I find Windows itself isn't that bad, but the corporate stuff installed alongside Windows, both Microsoft and non-Microsoft makes the experience horrific.

I use a Linux machine at work, but the institution is slowly forcing Microsoft upon us through teams/sharepoint/office365 and it's so fucking miserable and lots of features are missing, it was far better when MS stuff didn't work at all so you could just say 'can't do that'.

I'm fairly indifferent as to whether I'm on OSX or Linux to do my job, there's minimal difference these days, but seeing a development team using macs is usually a good indicator they're sidestepping enterprise bollocks and using cleaner, simpler more frictionless tools to do the admin/busywork.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2021, 03:54:52 PM »
I've always thought windows "multi-user" stuff on home installations (rather than through a proper domain controller) has largely been a mirage.
They used to have a bunch of deliberate feature-blocks on home installations, but I think it's as multi-user as any *nix now.

With the session stuff, I mean that I've no idea how I interact with a running local/console session from a remote one (e.g. to take screenshots remotely)[1] or even to elevate to console-session-like privileges (e.g. to interact with the Display management APIs).[2] If anything, I get the impression that there's a very serious distinction between session types that mostly isn't respected in either Linux distros or macOS - some of this might originate with licensing restrictions actually…
 1. I think either I could start a PowerShell host process in the console session or there might be something about shadowing existing sessions?
 2. I wanted to do these things mostly because it would have been easier to debug some PowerShell stuff if I could run the code from my laptop while the Windows desktop was doing something else.

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2021, 03:59:49 PM »
I installed w10 on a machine the other day to try something, not really having had much experience of windows past 7 and while I don't find it terrible it's certainly a bit odd. With 'new' style configuration menus acting like a vaneer to familiar 'old' settings windows. I'm not really sure what the point is, it feels like a needless layer of abstraction and the UI feels a bit incomplete, both in how it actually functions and how it looks.

Well, well.  You'll need to have a shot of w8.  That's really fabulous, where the start menu is gone too.

Yeah the settings thing is bizarre (introduced in 8 i think).  Since XP or 7 they've concentrated a lot of energy on stupid nonsense.

10 isn't completely terrible, but rather than putting effort into daft stuff, MS would be better off updating the 'services' bit.  Perhaps doing some flashy version of the BlackViper program that gave various options.  But they've actually gone the other way, where you get Xbox and can't remove it.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2021, 04:14:18 PM »
They used to have a bunch of deliberate feature-blocks on home installations, but I think it's as multi-user as any *nix now.

With the session stuff, I mean that I've no idea how I interact with a running local/console session from a remote one (e.g. to take screenshots remotely)[1] or even to elevate to console-session-like privileges (e.g. to interact with the Display management APIs).[2] If anything, I get the impression that there's a very serious distinction between session types that mostly isn't respected in either Linux distros or macOS - some of this might originate with licensing restrictions actually…
 1. I think either I could start a PowerShell host process in the console session or there might be something about shadowing existing sessions?
 2. I wanted to do these things mostly because it would have been easier to debug some PowerShell stuff if I could run the code from my laptop while the Windows desktop was doing something else.

I'd quite like it if there was a tried and tested protocol for remote access that is good enough to allow playback of video etc. I'm sure it can be done in a proprietary fashion as I believe steam streaming kind-of does it, and VDI hardware solutions have been able to do it for donkeys. I think x-forwarding can do it but that's not great especially if it's going over the internet.

I'd really quite like a centralised "desktop" running on a private cloud that I can just resume via access from any computer-like device.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2021, 04:22:04 PM »
I think the special trick with Steam (and Chrome RDP) vs. e.g. VNC is "use an approach to encoding video developed in the last decade". Steam just uses H264[1] and Chrome RDP uses VP8.
 1. As does Windows RDP now, I think. Edit: And NX4, apparently.

touchingcloth

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Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2021, 04:25:45 PM »
I find Windows itself isn't that bad

It's fine when you're used to it, it's just bloated and tired and boring, and it has all of the guff you mentioned about application developers generally being shite and doing anything tidily, and similar to Zetetic's point about session management stuff it feels like you need to be a bona fide sysadmin to really understand how the OS really works, when *nix systems are - wanky statement alert - that bit more egalitarian.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2021, 04:27:07 PM »
I think the special trick with Steam (and Chrome RDP) vs. e.g. VNC is "use an approach to encoding video developed in the last decade". Steam just uses H264[1] and Chrome RDP uses VP8.
 1. As does Windows RDP now, I think. Edit: And NX4, apparently.
I tried NX recently but it still seemed pretty sluggish.

I'll look at Chrome RDP, their previous remote desktop tool definitely wasn't quick enough for video.

I've been meaning to try SPICE but it's not supported with vmware, although I might swap that for kvm at some point.

I think thin client boxes, like the lovely Sun Rays effectively were hardware x-clients.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2021, 04:45:51 PM »
similar to Zetetic's point about session management stuff it feels like you need to be a bona fide sysadmin to really understand how the OS really works
As someone who's never really cared for Windows, but has been messing about with PowerShell and both Win32 and .NET APIs for the last few weeks to do some silly things (having never touched any of that before)… it's a really mixed bag.

PowerShell is really neat in some ways, although I'm not sure if I'd ever use it outside of Windows. (If it gained support for interfacing with APIs on Linux and Mac OS… This seems quite possible for the latter, I'd have thought.)

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2021, 04:56:40 PM »
Whenever I've played with it, it's seemed quite powerful but also quite frustrating because it's a case of having to learn a labyrinth of stuff to do something that's usually quite trivial, and something I already know how to do in a number of ways. So it's sort of like an obstacle rather than an interesting challenge.

I'd have thought rather than using powershell to interface with Linux/Mac stuff, it'd be easier to use the Windows Subsystem for Linux on the Windows side.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2021, 05:48:26 PM »
Not if you want to do something on/with a machine that's running Linux or Mac OS though.

For example, I have a backup script on my 2011 MacBook Pro that ties together running Time Machine to a second drive and rsync-ing a snapshot elsewhere under certain network and battery conditions. It's almost all doable in less than 100 lines of shell script using CLI commands and grep and cut - but it's little messy and a bit brittle and relies on an external utility to send notifications properly.[1]

The PowerShell equivalent would probably be more verbose, but also a bit clearer and more robust.
 1. Although it'll fall back on AppleScript if it has to. But this has limitations, which shows how well-maintained the OSA stuff in macOS is these days.

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2021, 09:30:23 PM »
Due to being skint and computer-less at the start of the year, I bought a Raspberry Pi and loaded it with Ubuntu. It has a 1/3 of the ram my previous computer had and fits in my pocket , but still seems infinitely more powerful than my bloated windows 10 machine. Anyone a fan of ctf's? I'm enjoying the 'tryhackme' rooms atm.

touchingcloth

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Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2021, 09:57:52 PM »
Not if you want to do something on/with a machine that's running Linux or Mac OS though.

For example, I have a backup script on my 2011 MacBook Pro that ties together running Time Machine to a second drive and rsync-ing a snapshot elsewhere under certain network and battery conditions. It's almost all doable in less than 100 lines of shell script using CLI commands and grep and cut - but it's little messy and a bit brittle and relies on an external utility to send notifications properly.[1]

The PowerShell equivalent would probably be more verbose, but also a bit clearer and more robust.
 1. Although it'll fall back on AppleScript if it has to. But this has limitations, which shows how well-maintained the OSA stuff in macOS is these days.

Shortcuts on iOS (Workflow, as was) is a pretty good example of packing up these kinds of actions into an application-y interface that even your mum could understand. It can be maddeningly limited if you have any experience of writing actual scripts (impossible to write WHILE/FOR loops, for instance) but what it does do it manages to do is about as user-friendly as you can imagine.

Does Time Machine have fully-featured CLI arguments? That’s part of the problem with desktop OSes, I guess - the assumption is GUI first with scriptability being a bonus. Same as the modem web really, where trying to interact with most sites programmatically in a meaningful way involves a lot of work if an API hasn’t been provided.

Zetetic

  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2021, 10:58:12 PM »
Does Time Machine have fully-featured CLI arguments?
tmutil. It's alright.

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2021, 02:07:28 PM »
Took me a while, but I've made it look beautiful.  Apart from the backlight icon in the top right hand corner, but I've asked stack exchange so hopefully someone will know.


Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2021, 05:31:17 PM »
I'd quite happily use Mint full-time at home if I could find a music player/manager that let me create and manage playlists from my bloated and disorganised music library, and then synchronise *selected* playlists with my Android phone in the same way that Music Bee does on Windows. It's a small thing but has kept me tied to Windows for years.

Renegadescrew - I like the layout, is that the Pantheon desktop environment?

Re: Are we finally there with Linux?
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2021, 09:29:27 PM »
I work in IT, so I have multiple machines running various OS.
It probably says a lot that I use Mint most often.

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