Home Sweet Home

As some of you already know by reading the blog “Larry the Free Software Guy,” I spent about a week — OK, it was only five days — trying to find what was so special about Unity on Ubuntu 12.04.

To quote Virginia Woolf, who said this about Oakland: “There’s no ‘there’ there.” In fact, while the desktop environment atop Ubuntu might work for some, I find it lacking in a lot of important respects. So I didn’t find anything.

Scratch that: I did find something. I found out how much I missed using CrunchBang on a regular basis, and I was very happy to get back to it on an uninterrupted daily basis. I fought sleep last night to install it back on the ThinkPad T30 and this morning I have both laptops on which I do most of my work running CrunchBang — the ZaReason Alto 3880 “football” which goes with me everywhere, and this ThinkPad which looks more like a NASCAR racer than a laptop, with all its stickers.

It’s good to be home.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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2 responses to “Home Sweet Home

  1. Ubuntu has as much ‘there’ as any other distribution. The dash or dock or whatever they call it isn’t much of a big deal. The HUD has the potential to be a big deal, if and when they can get it right. They haven’t at the moment.

    Ubuntu is clearly not intended for folks who find Crunchbang comfortable, I’ve used it, but I wouldn’t think of suggesting a neophyte use it. They wouldn’t know where to start.

    On the other hand, Ubuntu is clearly targeting new users. And that includes not just new Linux users, but new computer users. The beginners forum at UbuntuForum, and AskUbuntu, are full of questions from people for whom opening a terminal window and get a directory listing is a major advance in tech savvy.

    Ubuntu is a solid piece of work that is not intended for experienced people who judge a distribution by how much leeway it gives them to change things. There are very few of us and a whole lot more of people who have no interest in that, who just want to click and run.

    I saw a bit yesterday by some guy who said his 80-year-old grandmother is a happy Unity user and likes it just the way it is.

    • Actually, I was talking about Unity, and no it doesn’t have anything now that you couldn’t do before with another GUI-based program. So in all the hype about how “innovative” Unity and HUD are, there really is no “there” there.

      Treating new users as if they have blue skin and just walked out of the movie “Avatar” is not the way to go. In more instances than not, people who don’t use Linux (yet) have used computers before, know how to navigate a GUI, and know, fundamentally, how a file system works, even though they wouldn’t call it that. To reinvent the wheel with Unity (and GNOME is guilty of this, too) because “new users” equal “complete morons who just walked out of a cave” is a huge mistake and a step backwards.

      My problems with Ubuntu/Canonical, noted often on my other blog, have to do with their keeping themselves at an arm’s length from Linux — they call it Ubuntu OS and you can’t find the word “Linux” on their home page — as well as the well-documented lack of contributions back to Free/Open Source Software in the way of upstream contributions.

      The 80-year-old grandmother is Steven Vaughan-Nichols’ grandmother. I can beat that because I had given an 82-year-old woman a choice between Ubuntu and Fedora in the form of two live CDs. She tried both. She chose Fedora and she’s been using it without problems ever since. So it’s not Ubuntu that makes a difference here, it’s Linux being more usable across the board.

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