Category Archives: Linux

Windows Vista Complaints Department

At the risk of sounding even more negative about the entire Windows Vista situation, I have a steady stream of disgruntled users venting in my inbox. Michelle Rampelt, for instance:

I just experienced the ultimate irony. As I selected your “Mail Me” Icon, the wretched “Allow” Window popped up. I am an exceptionally happy person, although Windows Vista is making me absolutely miserable and frustrated. I can’t run the software programs I need, write or respond to e-mails in Outlook Exchange – I have spent HOURS AND HOURS attempting to troubleshoot what would have been simple in Windows XP world. I am just a real estate broker. And clearly, not very bright. I have been unable to find ANY help via the Microsoft web sites (which they charge for amusingly enough.) Do you have any advice? I would rather poke myself in the eye with a knitting needle than arrive at another Vista roadblock.

It never seems to end, but I suppose you could say that about any widely-used product anymore? I’m not claiming that Vista has cornered the market on operating system frustration, but I believe the average user’s expectations for Vista have yet to be met. Cathy McLaren, for instance:

I’d bought a brand new Vista-ready media centre computer and was sooooo looking forward to all those bells and whistles. But, I still had work I needed to do. Sharing between pc’s on my network was nearly impossible. No, it WAS impossible. 90% of my mp3’s wouldn’t play – denied. Loading games that previously played on XP was a real challenge. After the first month I found I’d had enough and wanted to wipe it out completely and reload XP… I had an image so that wasn’t a problem. The problem was Vista had taken my 2nd hard drive and denied me all admin rights to it!! I’m an admin!!! That 2nd drive was storage and backup. The only thing I could do was find other places to dump all that storage and backup, delete the partition, reformat. Sheesh!

I’m back on XP Media Centre and loving it. Wishing I could get some of those neat upgrades like the better media centre software, and that wonderful intuitiveness when saving or searching for files, but hey. if I want cute things on my desktop, there’s Yahoo Widgets. I also took an image of the Vista install just in case some day I forget why I was so unhappy and feel the need again. That day will be a long time coming.

Honestly? I just installed a review copy of Vmware Fusion on my 17″ MacBook Pro (the unit was notably sponsored by Blue Sky Factory for Gnomedex events). While I’m quite fond of Parallels for what it does, I fear that its buzz is about to be overshadowed by Vmware’s product. Why bother to bring up the Apple threat now? Because Windows XP is running beautifully, seamlessly, quickly on my Mac right now – which might appeal to users who don’t really like where Windows “is” today.

More to the point, this is the future of your desktop experience – in a platform-neutral environment. All I need now is a pre-built, fully-stocked Linux VM (with Compiz Fusion)…

On Help and Linux Help

Via Andrew Cooper:

I just discovered your youtube page a few days ago. Since then I watched 99% of your videos, and I have to say it is a great thing you are doing. It got me excited that people like you are out there helping people across the world, with just the use of the internet. I was a big fan of yours when you were on Tech Tv, and I am glad to see the “call for help” intent is still out there!

Some people don’t see me as giving back to and trying to support the community, but that’s not my problem. I’m very happy to know you were able to discover what we’ve been up to as of late. And speaking of late, as I’m composing this at 2:40am, there are people in the chat room trying to help someone fix a crazy CD problem. A few hours ago, “fatboy” hopped in and claimed: “Oh by the way chris thanks to your vid about the computer restarting and freezing on its own and all, i moved my computer to a cooler room and now it doesnt make this weird sound like its being overworked and also it doesnt freeze and it runs smoothly.”

Anyways, I was wondering if I could get an invite for LockerGnome? I am not so sure what it takes to get an invite, so I decided to just ask out right. Also, I have a quick question. I am just starting to get into Linux. Well, a few months ago. At the end of my college degree courses I had a linux class (which was made because of me, haha) and we used Suse linux. I am about to turn an old pc into a linux box.. and I am wondering what you recommend what version of linux I use to teach myself the basics? There are so many out there, it’s tough to decide. Thanks for your input, and keep up the good work. I’ll be stopping in the chat more often!

I’ll yield all Linux questions to Matt Hartley (or any one of my Linux followers, for that matter). As far as invitations to blog on Lockergnome – ask me again in a few weeks. We are still hoping to announce something new at Gnomedex, and would certainly welcome you, so long as you meet the general criteria. We’re in the process of migrating from WordPress MU to Drupal (for a few reasons), and the important pieces and people are finally starting to come together.

How Ultimate is Windows Vista Ultimate?

Windows Vista Ultimate is so freakin’ ultmiate that it can’t run the ultmiate add-on because the ultimate pair of monitors are running at the ultimate screen resolution (two Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP monitors at 2560×1600 apiece). This is ultimately not much of a let-down for me, as most of Vista’s Ultimate extras have proven themselves to be anything BUT.

Here’s the ultimate dialog box that is fully visible when I try running Windows Vista Ultimate’s Dreamscene. You’ll find that it’s very nicely shaded around the edges, and the title bar is quite tranlucent.

Error messages are simply stunning in Vista Ultimate:

Windows DreamScene (Preview)

w00t! Let’s contrast the Windows Ultimate experience with that of the open source projects, Beryl and Compiz (Compiz Fusion):

Ultimate, indeed.

What's Missing in an Operating System?

Mooreyameen Mohamad, in response to Operating System Choices:

I don’t understand what is the big deal with operating systems. So Apple has Mac OS X and PCs have Windows Vista and a bunch of other stuff such as the much heralded Ubuntu… but at the end of the day it’s the applications (Google Apps?) that a computer user would / should be most concerned about, right? Internet browsing experience depends pretty much on the internet browser, which is largely independent of the OS and the bandwidth of the internet connection.

Changing from one OS to another surely is not as easy as changing from one internet browser to another. And seriously, how many people would even think about it, what with all the baggage of applications, hardware already ‘attached’ to a particular OS, so to speak? Ubuntu is supposedly great because it’s open source but seriously for the average user, Open Source just means ‘No technical support’. Granted, perhaps because of the diversity of the “community” that develops the open source OS, it might end up being a ‘stronger’ OS than say, Windows, but it just feels like I have to wait for a child to ‘grow up’…as it goes through the various trials and tribulation of trial and error of being coded by random geeks with free time on their hands.

What say you, Chris? Surely choosing an OS would depend on what applications you need to use for your purpose, how much ‘support’ you need?

New Tech Headlines and Games

Today’s Live Links

Pirillo’s Picks

Today’s Random Thoughts

Twitter / Me Myself I
  1. Do companies still pay for radio jingles?
  2. Zonbu Linux PC Unboxing video online: http://tinyurl.com/yrvauv
  3. Breakfast: PopTarts. Lunch: Chicken sandwich. Snack: PopTarts. Dinner: Chicken PopTarts.
  4. Okay, seriously – why must envelope paste taste like bull snot? Not like I’d know what that tastes like…
  5. Life would be so much simpler without allergies and NDAs.
  6. Why can’t Verizon FIOS be available everywhere right now?

Please, port Beryl to Windows or OS X?

You know, there are very few things in Linux that have ever made me jealous… but this quote from the Beryl project made me jump out of my chair:

Beryl is a combined window manager and composite manager written in C using OpenGL to provide acceleration. It is designed to be highly flexible, extensible, and portable, all the while keeping in mind that the users know how they want their desktops to act better than we do.

Wow. Maybe Linux is the user’s ULTIMATE operating system after all? Eat your heart out, Windows Explorer and OS X’s Finder. Beryl’s developers have the trump card. And for emphasis, let me add bold formatting to the most important part of that positioning statement: “…the users know how they want their desktops to act better than we do.”

Is it possible, even remotely, to port Beryl to Vista and/or OS X?

And if that doesn’t make you want to try Beryl, maybe something in its growing feature list will trip your trigger. The best Microsoft can offer is a CPU-devastating DreamScene (and even that’s only available for Vista “Ultimate”). Compiz or Beryl, they’re soon to be one-and-the-same.

Rubbing XGL in Windows Vista's Wounds

Everybody went ga-ga over the video I linked to the other day – showing XGL running on KDE in some random flavor of Linux. Some of you suffered from motion sickness after watching the entire thing, but I don’t think typical usage would require or necessitate that much desktop movement in such a small amount of time.

No matter, I went on a quest to find a live CD distro with XGL pre-infused – just to see how well it would work. Because of GPL violations, most XGL-enabled live CDs have been taken offline. I tried installing XGL on my own, following “simple” instructions I found for various distros online – and wound up remembering why I dislike Linux so much in the first place: it’s not easy, no matter what anybody leads you to believe.

GNOME makes Linux easier to navigate, which is why I think so many people have fallen in love with Ubuntu. If Linux is ever going to win over the hearts and minds of the status quo, the GUI must continue to improve. I think XGL gives power users enough eye candy to give Linux another stab – but I couldn’t come close to recommending Linux over OS X for reasons other than economics at this point.

I scoured the BitTorrent directories for XGL-enabled live CD ISOs. Wow, that was probably the geekiest sentence I think I’ve ever written. Anyway, I discovered an XGL-enabled distribution called Kororaa. You can download, burn, reboot, and run Linux without installing it on your hard drive. Grab the torrent for Kororaa Linux Xgl LiveCD 0.2 before it disappears.

Go ahead, try XGL on your own PC – you’ll be amazed. I ran it on Ponzi’s laptop, which has a lame-ass Intel video card. Every one of the XGL effects I tried ran smoother than I ever would have anticipated.

And yes, I believe GNOME looks and works infinitely better than Vista (especially with XGL enabled) for common, everyday tasks.