Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ubuntu: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good: Ubuntu certainly has alot going for it. It's backed by a zealous billionaire, it's got a strong community backing with that great tag line "Linux for Human Beings". It's even got Michael Dell in a buzz declaring how great it is. It's got apt-get/Synaptic, Debian at it's core & it's brown. What chance does anyone else have against that?

The Bad: If you examine & really start to use Ubuntu proper. You will start to find alot of gaps in the product itself. Many things that should be easy to do, well.. just isn't. (Read: Alot of googling required) I guess they go for the Gnome ideology which is: If it can't be done simply & intuitively, it shouldn't be done at all.

The Ugly: The worse thing Ubuntu did was to segregate the community by which desktop environment you prefered. The stupidity of separating, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu & Edubuntu into distinct & often incompatible distros is really beyond retarded. Why shouldn't I have KDE, Gnome & Xfce all installed easily in the same box while looking & working consistently across all desktops I use?

Enough ranting now. Will Ubuntu continue to dominate? It probably will. Will PCLinuxOS really upstage Ubuntu? Not by long shot.

If you want Gnome & an intuitive but not too flexible OS, go Ubuntu. If you want KDE with pretty themes and hassle free multimedia, go PCLinuxOS. If like me, you like having the choice of KDE, Gnome, Xfce, a whole lot of flexibility, don't mind a little hassle, Mandriva is still the best choice.

PCLinuxOS #1

PCLinuxOS shot up to #1 in Distrowatch in the past 3 months. This certainly must have Mark Shuttleworth a little worried. (Mark is the Ubuntu's Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life, in case you didn't know)

Will dreams come true? Will an RPM distro finally be at the top of Distrowatch again? It seems like only yesterday when Mandrake was leading the pact. Now it's only fitting that a derivative of Mandrake should regain the throne. I can only dream.

But look closely & you will see that Ubuntu is fighting back. It's inched in way up again in the last 7 days & continues to climb while PCLinuxOS has begun it's descend.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

PCLinuxOS vs Mandriva? Or more like =

There's been some heated discussions going on in the PCLOS forums recently about the topic of PCLinuxOS being a glorified clone of Mandriva. This was sparked off by a sudden rise of PCLinuxOS to the #2 spot on Distrowatch. I read through it all & found the entire thread rather amusing. I was thinking: "What are these fracking sotongs talking about?"

Personally, you all know I prefer Mandriva. But I think PCLinuxOS is very good as well, just not all that different. Having used both before & comparing them side by side, Mandriva 2007 and PCLinuxOS 2007 is really very much the same. There is only 1 clear defining difference, PCLinuxOS uses apt-rpm which makes the software grabbing part more similar to Ubuntu than Mandriva. There's also the pre-configuration of Multimedia codecs and the prettier theme set, but these aren't all the special. With the right packages installed from contrib & plf, you can essentially get the same results with Mandriva.

I think of PCLinuxOS as a newbie friendlier Mandriva. One of the points brought up is that a large number of packages for PCLinuxOS 2007 are direct copies from Mandriva 2007's cooker (development tree). The author was pointing out that Texstar (Creator of PCLinuxOS) boldly states in their website that PCLinuxOS forked from Mandrake 9.x and is now a complete distinct distro. This is a very bold statement; If Mandrake was to say this back around version 7.x when they were based largely on Redhat it would have been a very big joke. They just didn't have the resources to do it. (Texstar making this claim is quite a fair bit premature)

PCLinuxOS supporters do have to face the reality that their favorite distro is still quite heavily dependent on the development of Mandriva. Just like Mandrake was dependent on Redhat many years ago. It will take time & a lot of momentum to pull PCLinuxOS away from this dependence.

Right now, I personally found only a few barriers that prevents me from using PCLinuxOS: (Like everyone, I do prefer Synaptics over RPMDrake)
1. Packages updates are taking some time to come downstream. (Mandriva gets the patches first.)
2. Available packages in the repos are still not nearly as comprehensive. (A lot of stuff is missing, it definitely doesn't cover all the bases)
3. The name 'PCLinuxOS' is a real turn off, it's soooo un-sexy. (Come on ppl, is that the best name you can come up with? Which genius picked that name? I'm ashamed to show it to my friends.)

I'll be a convert and switch over if these things above are fixed. That means, get that momentum and shake that dependence on Mandriva development. Find em bugs & fix em as fast or faster than Mandriva. Build a comprehensive repository with everything everyone will ever need. Finally, do something about that awful name.

Will I be a convert? Look like only time will tell...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ubuntu. Really for Human Beings?

I've never been much of a fan of Ubuntu, my several encounters with it's various incarnations have shown it to be inconsistant, unweildy and much over hyped. It seems to be lacking the most basic of tools for easy graphical configuration and administration of a Linux box. Tools that I've come to expect, having used Mandriva (formally known as Mandrake) for many years. Even Suse with it's Yast monstrosity still manages to provide a decent graphical system administration tool.

Recently I realised that my understanding of Ubuntu barely scratched the surface of what really using it will be like on a day to day basis. So I decided to commit a partition to it on me lappy & actually try using it for daily activities. It's been about a week now, here are some of my findings:
- It 's quite alien to me. Its inerds work completely differently from the typical Redhat based systems that I'm used to.
- Synaptics is shitloads faster than urpmi. (At least 30% faster)
- Boot speed is just a tad slower than Mandriva.
- GNOME has got a stupidly huge RAM footprint compared to KDE.
- I had to visit the Ubuntu Help wiki ALOT. The documentation is very nice, acurate & accessible.
- I had to visit the Ubuntu Help wiki ALOT MORE. For things I can easily do with a few clicks in Mandriva & Suse.
- Laptop power management support was poor. Suspend & Hibernate will lockup on resume. (both Mandriva & Suse could at least hibernate & resume properly)

Once up & running, thing are peachy for a while. But after a week & after installing > 30 apps (My usual suspects) from Synaptics, things don't look so pretty anymore. The menus are overcrowded and excessively long. Reminds me of the Windows Start Menu. (Takes a bloody long time for the menu icons to load up too)

The repositories are not as comprehensive as I was led to believe. After turning on all the repos, (including the commercial & 3rd-party ones) I still couldn't find some key pieces of software. (Freevo my prefered media center was nowhere to be found)

& finally GNOME.. Oh GNOME GNOME, what can I say about it.. well.. I still don't like it. GNOME is like soup from the soup nazi. It's good really, but can you deal with not having any real say in what u get with the soup? I can't, so I guess it's no soup for me & I recommend 'No soup for You!!' too. Viva la KDE!!