What I expect from Windows 9, and what would bring me back to Windows.

To those of you who’ve been following my recent posts, you should already know I’ve moved over to Linux. Each of my capable household devices now run some or other flavor of Linux.

Still in some ways I am sad to have had to depart my previously established form of computing in the world of Windows. Even with the best of my intentions there is still something to be said about the loss, in many ways Windows offers certain maturities you don’t get on Linux.

However I have to say I would gladly dabble in config files and the command prompt, because Linux to me anyways has taken over the desktop space, since the introduction of Windows 8 which is a hybrid tablet OS with strong bias towards touch computing.

This is my list of what it would take to once again spark my interests in Windows:

  1. A true pure desktop mode out of the box, without any silly 3rd party workarounds. Windows 8.1 just doesn’t cut it.
  2. Much less disk IO and the ability to fully tweak services that are IO expensive.
  3. Much better Bluetooth support, with full support for A2DP profile connections that don’t require odd tweaks to get working.
  4. A leaner base, with much more functionality removed, and installed on demand.
  5. A much more customizable UI shell, giving 3rd party developers the ability to replace the default shell completely, akin to the Linux DE, using a fully featured and rich set of APIs.
  6. Package Management would be good, but ok the app store is a step in the right direction – the presentation of which could be more desktop appropriate.
  7. Metro obliterated.

Would be truly great if Microsoft could invest a great deal into R&D and deliver us a truly awesome desktop experience, or just give us what we had back with Windows 7, thus not neglecting us, the content creators (who are on desktop devices) completely.

 

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My thoughts on Ubuntu Touch version 1 (Reviewed on Nexus 10)

I’ve just installed Ubuntu Touch version 1 on my Nexus 10 and the whole experience lasted roughly 10 minutes. If anything the experience has left me with a new found respect for the Android operating system.

Ubuntu Touch version 1, is a primitive alpha at best.

I was expecting at least a semi usable system, but sadly no. Version 1 is nothing more than a developer preview with a version 1 badge.

Having said that and while sipping on a late night tea getting over the disappointment, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this.

There’s still a boat load of work to be done

My gripes are mostly with the versioning. Giving Ubuntu Touch version 1 status is indeed premature. Perhaps Canonical realise how quick they need to get to the party and how much catching up they need to do, and I am sure they’ve followed their best software development practices and each department is somewhat satisfied they’ve reached their milestones and have a checkbox next to their goals, but I’m looking at this from an end users point of view.

The reality is, it’s a buggy as hell proof of concept that should really be labelled as an Alpha.

I really do not see how this release has made it out of dev preview? Are Canonical confused? Previously they had a developers preview, now they’re on v1 however they state, this is a developers preview – why not just keep it as a dev preview update?

The user experience is already going in the wrong direction

What Ubuntu Touch tries to offer is multi-tasking. To do this they’ve created a way to run 2 apps at the same time. 1 is the primary tablet app, the other runs in phone mode.

Firstly this idea is nutty! It would have been awesome to have a scalable amount of first class citizen apps. Clearly the hardware isn’t there yet, so the work around offers some relief, but in practice it’s a terrible idea.

I would really like to ask if anyone in the development team, particularly someone involved in the UI development actually took the time to load up Ubuntu touch on a Nexus 10 and go through a first impressions check list.

Even the most basic of functionality is cruddy. Settings loading up in the phone app space, while on a tablet? Brightness only adjusting the phone app space, and immediately forgetting the setting!

The OS comes with the most rudimentary of web browsers too, not even able to hold a cookie, when I tried logging into a site. Now I know its a preview, but at least bundle in a decent web browser, to give us some idea of the potential.

Improvement ideas

  1. Include a boot logo
  2. Flashing instructions were good and the whole process was easy – good job on this!
  3. Tap to log in – no no no, what’s the point of the circle then?
  4. Make the UI much more intuitive. Ditch the phone app, and introduce intuitive multi-tasking
  5. Bundle in a version of Chromium.
  6. Fix the lag

My prediction though is that Ubuntu Touch is going to be a bit of a failure. I can see all my improvement ideas being implemented except 4. I just don’t think Canonical are working with the right team to truly revolutionize usability or even to get it right. And no matter how technically brilliant the code might be, ultimately usability is what is going to win over hearts.

Linux could run indefinitely

This is just a short little feel good post. About 7 years ago I gave away my prize possession to my brother in law. My beast of a desktop then. I call it a beast, but in reality you might imagine that cat looking in the mirror and seeing a lion meme.

When I handed it over, initially it was running Windows XP. But soon it started given hassles and I would constantly be called out to fix a computer riddled with malware. He would let his kids on it, and within a month, the problem repeated. Browsers just full of toolbars, all kinds of crapware, spyware, trojans and god knows what, even with Anti virus and Spyware, nothing seemed to help.

I got annoyed and decided “You’re getting Linux”.

I can’t remember the exact version of Mint I installed, could it be 10? I honestly don’t remember, but since installing Mint, that was the last time I’ve ever had to deal with a technical call from my brother in law.

So roughly 6.5 years that exact same install has been running. How exactly it has survived in 6.5 years without 1 reinstall or complaint is a god damn miracle.

He’s also the type of user who can only click, and can barely type. He uses the web browser, watches some movies, and checks his email. Occasionally downloading the odd joke presentation. He has no idea what a terminal is, how to sudo apt-get, or any other cool stuff. The best way to describe him would be utterly content.

About once a year I ask him how his computer is, and each time he gives this rhetorical kind of “Yup it’s fine” almost like he completely trusts it by now, and I am sure he does.

When asked if he wants an upgrade, he replies, no it’s fine as it is 🙂 God only knows about the kernel optimisations he’s missing out on and other stuff, but who cares, he loves that computer, and since its running an OS that was lightning fast on it when the hardware was fresh, it is still fast, and hasn’t slowed down at all with enhanced updates.

When that computer lasts 10 years. I am officially getting 2 Penguin outfits made up, and inviting 2 hot strippers over to his house for a lapdance and a show to celebrate.

Linux, one month in

So guys, it’s been about 1 month since I completely switched over to Linux as a full alternative to Windows based computing.

My original reasons for doing this were:

  1. Windows 8 is a tablet / desktop hybrid operating system, and I was after an OS specifically designed for desktop computing
  2. Windows has terrible support for Bluetooth
  3. Windows is HDD IO greedy, and the laptops in my home are all using 5200rpm cheap HDDs and my devices are underperforming.
  4. Every other device in my home runs Linux (routers) or Android (tablets and phones).

I’ve experimented with a few distros

It’s likely I’m not yet ready for Arch, but I am sure one of these days as my knowledge of Linux increases I’ll be heading over to Arch for purity, however I’m definitely sticking with Mint for now. I’ve run a few other sleek looking distros based on Arch, and also tried out pure Gnome 3, and I found the whole experience to be experimental.

Linux Mint is the best desktop experience Linux has to offer for noobs

There is a reason why Mint is sitting at number 1 in DistroWatch. It’s a distro fill of polish and love. Based off the success of Ubuntu, and debian packages, makes it very easy to install applications from the software channel, or Synaptic, or .debs in the wild.

Since Mint is based off Ubuntu, all the support and forums and Q&A sites that target Ubuntu directly apply to Mint. All instructions you find out there for Ubuntu work in Mint.

I’ve gone with Cinnamon, which may be slightly limited for customizing, but everything is well polished, applets all work nicely.

Not saying Mint isn’t without issues, but it is marginally better and easier than other distributions I have tried.

Bluetooth on Linux sucks, better than Windows, but it still sucks

Most users won’t be aware of this. But once you start hitting issues with Bluetooth and explore exactly how BT is handled, then you start getting a picture why BT handling really sucks. BT covers a lot of ground, but specifically any bluetooth audio device, and profiles get handled at the audio layer. In a modern distro this means inside Pulse.

When I get more experience I really really need to get back down to Dbus basics and start determining the exact reasons for these BT headaches.

Linux is more flexible for tweaking, but tooling sucks

I guess I have been massively spoilt coming from a C# Visual Studio background. Visual Studio is light years ahead of the tooling you get on Linux. For front end development I’m impressed with the progress in IDE’s such as Qt Creator or MonoDevelop, but for regular C projects, mostly on Linux I’m using a standard text editor without code completion, which makes exploration multitudes harder.

However at least you have the option to jump into the code when you need to, which is not something you can do on Windows.

Linux is stable, but you can break it

I’ve found that if you just use Linux in an end user capacity your experience is going to rock. Once you start exploring and tweaking you stand the risk of breaking stuff. That’s all part of the fun I guess but it’s wise to have a virtual machine setup for exploration, before you break your base install without the experience to fix it.

Linux is overall a great operating system

It is, and I prefer it to Windows. I’ve found it to be more fun to work with, and a more efficient operating system with much less bloat. Since mostly everything is open source the possibilities are endless with the right amount of skill.

There is a lot going on right now, and Linux is entering a golden age for desktop computing. Exciting times!