Linux needs more freedom of choice.

Posted: February 17, 2012. At: 1:07 PM. This was 6 years ago. Post ID: 2749

Red Hat Linux 5.2 and FVWM 95.
Red Hat Linux 5.2 and FVWM 95.

The Linux distributions that are released these days do not give you any choice in desktop environments compared to the old SUSE Linux distribution that came on a DVD image with a heap of differing desktop environments to use whenever you desired. Sure, the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and its child Ubuntu supply a lot of window managers in the apt repositories, but they only ship with one window manager on the ISO image you download from the Internet. in the old days of the SUSE distribution you were greeted at the login prompt with the message “Have a lot of fun!” Nowadays that is gone, replaced with the crash prone Unity desktop that takes the fun away from users and locks them into an ugly Macintosh clone. The SUSE 9.2 dual layer DVD I used to have came with a ton of software and just about every window manager you could ever need. I wonder if Canonical would ever create such a thing for the Ubuntu distribution, a dual layer DVD that booted into a graphical installer and included Unity, KDE, Xfce and Lxde. As well as Windowmaker, Fvwm and Fluxbox. I would love to see that, if they brought back the freedom of choice and the fun to the Linux distributions they release.

I really miss the fun and choice that came with installing the SUSE DVD distributions and that needs to come back. The Sax2 configuration utility for setting up your Xorg display was the best, you ran it as root, and it it loaded a graphical point and click interface for creating your Xorg configuration file. Nowadays you can type Xorg -configure and create a file in /root/xorg.conf-new and then this may be edited with vi and then copied to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. But this is not as good as the Sax2 utility in terms of setting up your Xorg configuration easily. There is some information about the Sax2 utility on the preceding weblink. This was a very good utility for configuration of the Xorg configuration. Even though Xorg can mostly auto-configure hardware, sometimes you might need to do some configuration of this file to maybe configure dual monitors or special hardware, and you might not want to edit this file with videos and put in the settings manually. But with the Kernel Mode Setting built into the latest kernel releases for Linux, the Linux kernel can be displaying at the native resolution of your flat screen while it is booting.

This negates the need for setting the framebuffer resolution at the kernel command-line with the vga=791 command. That is no longer needed with the aforementioned Kernel Mode Setting that Linux uses. The FreeBSD UNIX distribution has a patch available for adding GEM/KMS support to the kernel for use with various graphics chipsets. That is very promising indeed, I hope that this is included in the FreeBSD 10 release, then I might switch to the FreeBSD distribution and leave Ubuntu behind. I have installed the FreeBSD 8.1 distribution installed in Virtualbox and it works just fine too. FreeBSD is fun to use on a laptop as well. The only problem I am having is that when I run startx to load Gnome, it will freeze, I am sure that can easily be sorted out. FreeBSD is a fun operating system to use, it just needs the KMS  code working and more hardware support to be more of a competitor on the desktop front. I am not sure if the OpenBSD UNIX operating system is getting the KMS  code as well, but I would hope so. But getting back to the Linux distributions we have now, they need to bring back the freedom of choice that the old Linux distributions had.

And get away from this retarded notion that the Linux desktop needs to be a touch oriented tablet interface that will crash at the slightest provocation. Linux is supposed to be about reliable software and security, why is Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical shitting that down the toilet with this horrendous Unity desktop. I know that if some people are dead set on using this interface and are happy with it I should not be forcing people to change, but Unity really is horrendous and you should use KDE instead. KDE has always been a quality desktop environment, the changes in KDE 4.0 were not for the best, but with the KDE 4.8.0 desktop, it has finally become a desktop worth using. I have configured my KDE desktop to look like Gnome 2.32.0 and it is fun to use as well. KDE has a wealth of configuration options and can be set up just the way you wish it to be. That is what Linux should be about. The freedom to choose your desktop layout and not have to put up with the locked down Unity desktop where you are not even allowed to move the dock due to the design decisions of the moronic designers that work on this desktop.

That is what happens when you hire designers instead of true Linux users to create the next best desktop paradigm. Since most designers are turtleneck wearing Macintosh users they of course wanted to bring the Macintosh desktop to the Linux desktop and Unity was the resulting output. The Afterstep wharf is better than the Unity desktop in every way. And of course the Windowmaker window manager that as with Afterstep chooses to emulate the look of the proprietary Nextstep desktop interface. There is a desktop available for Debian that is the GNU Worspace Environment that works and looks like Nextstep. That is quite different to the Unity desktop and many times better. Larswm is better if you desire a tiling window manager that is lightning fast and clean. Canonical need to trash this useless and slow Unity desktop environment and create something that the users actually want, like the Cinnamon desktop on Linux Mint 13. That is more promising, dumping the slow and horrendous Gnome 3 desktop that shipped with Linux Mint 12 and creating something cool instead that is actually usable and reliable. A main tenet of the Linux distributions of the past and something that we must not forget about with this mad rush to accommodate tablet devices.

We have the Spark Linux tablet, but that is running Plasma Active and not the Unity desktop. That is a promising little device, with many possibilities for running various operating systems as it has an unlocked bootloader and an open source operating system installed.

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