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Jamie Zawinski Switches to Mac OS X 1074

iskander writes "After a disappointing experience with sound, Jamie Zawinski has finally given up on desktop Linux and switched to Mac OS X. The future of apps like xscreensaver and Gronk is now ``highly ambiguous''. He has already ditched a free/open platform before, but he seems a lot angrier this time. Indeed, twisted by the Dark Side of the Source, young Zawinski has become."
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Jamie Zawinski Switches to Mac OS X

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  • I don't get it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WebHostingGuy ( 825421 ) * on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:02AM (#12794397) Homepage Journal
    Okay, he has a preference. Why is this important? I use a lot of different OS for different purposes.
  • new flash... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rednip ( 186217 ) * on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:04AM (#12794413) Journal
    JWZ disallusioned, posts comment in blog... news at 11.

    I hate to be a jerk, I loved all his negitive comments about Netscape/ Mozilla, and whatever else he works on, but it got old like 6 years ago.

  • Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:11AM (#12794444) Homepage Journal
    I gave up and went to Mac. I still have a Linux desktop, but I am sick, sick, sick to death of having to tweak every last little friggin' thing.

    I also gave up and went for a Mac for exactly the same reason. It's unacceptable that in 2005 a Linux distribution (FC3, in my case) doesn't recognize a three-button+wheel USB mouse out-of-box or that setting up a TV card requires you to edit some config-files by hand.

  • Fix Setup! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by pjh3000 ( 583652 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:11AM (#12794447)
    If some individuals would spend the time they do hunting down negative comments about Linux, to actually fix Linux, you wouldn't have to worry about people exposing how difficult Linux is for the average user. I'm all for bringing Linux to the mainstream and replacing Windows as the dominant OS, but that just won't happen until the average person can install their video games without calling tech support.
  • telling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bwy ( 726112 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:16AM (#12794475)
    I think it is pretty telling that someone who has a lot of technical expertise has the same problems that a lot of us have had with desktop Linux. The problem is real, folks.

    If Linux on the desktop is to survive, I really think there needs to be a major coordinated effort to get lots of things in line. Maybe some type of consortium that would facilitate dialog between different groups and/or state a common direction. It is really hard to build a solid desktop OS when you've got thousands of developers operating independently or in small groups. You might get a few good solid apps, but the OS itself is going to be a patchworked hodge-podge.
  • Dark Side (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ed Almos ( 584864 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:17AM (#12794492)
    No, he has NOT been twisted by the dark side, he has just been pissed off for the last time by Linux software which does not do the job.

    We have a printer system that was developed for line printers and never matured.

    We have a sound system that works most (but not all) of the time if you are lucky.

    We have power management issues on laptops which Microsoft fixed in 1995.

    And finally

    I have a laptop running Red Hat 9 because Fedora 1, Fedora 2, Fedora 3 and SuSE 9.x all have so many major problems with their basic installation that the machine is unusable. My next laptop will be an Apple machine.

    Instead of adding more features I for one would be grateful if the Linux software developers fixed existing software. Bug hunting is not sexy but it might avoid more incidents like this.

    Ed Almos
    Budapest, Hungary
  • by eSavior ( 767078 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:19AM (#12794497)
    I've considered ditching my linux desktop for a mac box. Though I am not important or anything so me moving platforms would be moot. I don't have as much time to tinker as I used to, and these days I really want something that just works. And thats really what the mac desktop promises isnt it? It just works. But now that they are switching platforms, the idea of making the switch now seems like a bad idea. I like to keep machines way longer than I should, I still have a pentium 1 mmx running gentoo.. I fear that if I get a ppc mac that 6 years down the road I wont be able to find working applications for it.

    bleh oh well. I guess I will consider switching again after they make the move to intel.
  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:24AM (#12794526)
    And this made the frontpage news? May I ask why?

    Well, at least it's not another report about the latest status of the 3 suspects in Aruba.

  • But all they get is grief everytime they make a change to make life easier for people. ie. Spatial nautilus one of those ideas that will improve life for the people using gnome, but 99% of linux blowhards reject the new paradigm saying it's just not right, they don't even try it, just bitch & moan until they figure out how to switch it back... But if they're going to keep their old bad habits then stop bitching about people trying to improve the desktop.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:35AM (#12794598) Homepage
    He actually followed a pretty similar path to me.

    Both of us have a significant amount of experience with SGI workstations. SGI, like Apple today, was a Unix that "just works". It had pretty fonts and a very nice designer look and feel. It was also elegant and a snap to administrate.

    I, like JWZ, also used Linux workstations. But they were clunky compared to SGI and I always came back to the better design and more attractive display SGI had.

    I also had a MacOS computer, which I used for video editing and running commercial software such as Photoshop. I liked it a lot, but was wedded to emacs for text editing and SGI or Linux for web serving. So as a result I needed to have two computers on my desk, a Mac for graphics and a SGI for Unix stuff.

    Then MacOS X came out. It was a lot like SGI - it was like a designer Unix, with even more slickness. As a result, I gradually switched away from SGI, especially when it became clear that SGI was not updating their GUI to be competitive with what Apple has. I shed a tear for SGI, because their stuff was the best at the time. I wish they'd been able to make a more elegant transition to the world of cheaper computers.

    For me, MacOS X truly combines the best of the open source and proprietary worlds. I can use a slick and stable GUI, running all the slickest proprietary applications such as Final Cut Pro and Photoshop. On the same machine I can also run all the open source web software I could ever want. And I can even copy that software and have it run fine on a Linux server without missing a beat.

    So I know exactly where JWZ's coming from, and it's interesting that we followed such a similar path. I joined Apple before he did probably mainly due to my need for proprietary software like Final Cut and Photoshop.

    I can say from my own experience that I've never been happier with my computing environment than I am now. We'll see how the more cynical JWZ does. No doubt he'll find much to hate and much to love.


  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:37AM (#12794613) Homepage Journal
    If I buy a TV tuner card, I don't want to examine the model numbers of all the chips on it just so I can use it to watch TV. I want to insert it into my computer, toss in a CD, reboot, and then watch American Idol until my brain falls out.
  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:37AM (#12794617) Homepage Journal
    My logitech usb mouse has a windows driver

    I don't quite understand why you're using Windows as a reference, when I was clearly talking about Mac. I plugged the mouse in and it just worked.

    Oh, I know, it needs you to know what you're doing, and that usually needs some brainwork.

    Ah yes, the tired old "If Linux is not good enough for you, it's because you're not good enough for Linux" argument. Ten years ago I used to spout that elitist bullshit, too.

    I've lost the count of how many Linux computers I've built. I've set up and maintained Sun and DEC Alpha boxes (running both DEC Unix and Linux) and, quite frankly, I feel like I've done my share of tweaking. Now, all I want is a desktop computer that works for me -- not vice versa -- and Linux just doesn't cut it.

  • Sound (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:38AM (#12794621)
    The posts so for have missed the main point. That is, sound in Linux sucks. It just needs to be fixed.

    - arts must die, and it will w/ KDE4

    - esd must die

    - every program should start using gstreamer

    - ALSA must learn to do proper software mixing out of the box.

    Imagine my "pleasure" when I inadvertly caused a "beep" to emerge from my terminal window, and as a result had to wait a while (20 seconds? can't remember) before I could start playing a video with sound. Or how I had to do "killall -9 artsd" to start playing video in totem after listening to music on Amarok (which is superior to rhythmbox in most ways).
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:41AM (#12794647) Journal
    Oh, please.

    Reading a few hundred pages of help documents and web sites to only find out that you really cannot get two sounds at once from your multi channel sound card after all, is how you build character.

    Only idiots expect to turn on a computer, slap in a card, run an automated driver install program and expect the thing to work.

    Ok, satire aside, I'm a pretty hard core linux fan, but I still know Linux has some serious limitations. We need to get over them instead of brushing off people who are frustrated.

    Linux needs to grow as an OS because, very soon, it could become a national security issue. The whole world is coming close to getting fscked by a whole universe of automated Windows-hijacking worms and spyware that simply cannot survive and self-propagate in Linux.

    99% of intrusions into Linux OSes are done by hackers who target the machine and actually work on breaking in; for Windows? It's a matter of one zombie machine infecting another while the original perpetrator is off in his/her maniacal slumberland.

    But since it is a NIGHTMARE to get some stuff/features working in Linux, and most games won't play in Linux without the help of WineX (and still some won't work then), well there ya go, people still flock to Windows and still get their machines zombified...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:42AM (#12794657)
    I like how he is(was) a developer of a application that used sound on linux ( []) and yet was so stupid as to a) buy a soundcard that wasn't fully supported and b) use a distro that doesn't set it up automagically.

    I mean, come on.

    And yes, linux is harder than having dedicated hardware and OS intergration - it's also cheaper. But more importantly, that's the price of freedom.

    I am sick to the guts of all these whinging losers who expect linux to be "finished now". Go check out apple's and Microsofts budget next to that of redhats, go check out how many hardware driver writers are opening their source up.... go check it out!

    For me, this is a battle against corporate control of the internet, a battle for the future of ideas and democracy (yes DRM is that dangerous, just look at what they do with the DMCA). So sooooorry if you can't have your games and your music this instant because you are such a petulant little troll that you can't be bothered putting some effort into the fight.


    ALWAYS, always, always, check your hardware for linux compatibility, even if you are running windows (just so you have the option to swap in the future). This means sometimes you have to avoid the very bleeding edge, but it's more about investing a few google searches into hardware before you buy.

    In fact, here is the plan to swapping to linux that stops 90% of the whinging (the other 10% whinge no matter what).

    1. On windows when you buy new hardware make sure it is linux compatible, start today.

    2. Use firefox and open office and cygwin and other OSS on your windows install.

    3. Use a ubuntu, knoppix or other live CD to check things out, get an account to Putty into from your windows box.

    4. Install mandrake, fedora or maybe ubuntu with a second harddrive (or a careful partition) and dual boot. I say those because they have the best hardware detection, noob support and compatibility with games/random software.

    Once you have a polished distro on your box that you *slowly* transitioned to which has 100% hardware support you should be FINE and all your possible whinging from jumping in with an ATI graphics card, an unsupported drive controller, a no-name brand proprietary USB TV tuner and a soundcard you bought without thinking should be not present.

    I hope Zawinski loves his new hardware choice of a PPC Apple and the future of it's compatibility in a few years time.
  • Re:Motivation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by avdp ( 22065 ) * on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:43AM (#12794666)
    I've never heard of him, and I couldn't care less about what OS he uses. If he maintained apps, and they're open source, others will take over IF these apps have indeed any value.

    Based on the language of his posts (call me old fashioned, but curse words don't impress me) I would say it's probably not much of a loss to the community. Linux doesn't need a public face (in as much as he is public, since again I've never heard of him) that can't express himself like an adult.
  • by shish ( 588640 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:45AM (#12794674) Homepage
    Does anyone want a list of OS I'm running?

    Are you the core (sole?) developer of a base app included in every desktop distro?

  • by CaptnMArk ( 9003 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:46AM (#12794680)

    Sound under linux requires a card that supports
    hardware mixing of multiple audio streams
    (SoundBlaster Live or newer is the only one that comes to mind and that I have (1 live, 1 audigy)).

    Anything else is mostly unusable because of the lack of kernel (== always works) mixer.

    User space mixers are a joke (or at least were last I tried them) because of incompatibility.
  • Re:telling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bgfay ( 5362 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:49AM (#12794700) Homepage
    "If Linux on the desktop is to survive..."

    This is my favorite thing to hear about Linux. Linux will survive on the desktop, on servers, on refrigerators for as long as one person wants to run it there. I have a Linux machine that I use for most things, Windows on my laptop, and an iMac in the bedroom for playing music, movies, and using the web. Everyone wants to get worked up about Linux's survival. It's not survival that matters, it will survive a good long time, it's the advancement of it.

  • Then don't use it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:49AM (#12794704)
    Now, all I want is a desktop computer that works for me -- not vice versa -- and Linux just doesn't cut it.

    Here's a flash of insight for you.

    Not EVERY system is right for EVERY person.

    Use whatever works for you.

    By the same token, don't tell anyone that their choice is wrong or doesn't work or whatever.
    Ten years ago I used to spout that elitist bullshit, too.

    Why? It's a computer OS. It's a tool. Linux works GREAT for me and I'm probably never going to switch. But I don't use my computer as a TV, stereo or game console. For someone who wants those specific features, then a Mac would probably be a better tool.

    But it's just a tool. It isn't a threat. You using a Mac does NOT mean that I'm a bad person for using Linux. I run Ubuntu and no, the sound does not work and I'm not going to mess with it because it doesn't interest me.
  • Re:Fix Setup! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JahToasted ( 517101 ) <(toastafari) (at) (> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @10:53AM (#12794740) Homepage
    There is a huge gap between the developers and users and that is the problem. The developers are "too important" to listen to the concerns of users. They have too much pride. They have their idea of how things should be done and are insulted if anyone suggests a different way. How long has the GIMP had a crappy user interface? Why does GNOME have this spatial paradigm as opposed to the more popular navigation paradigm? Why so I have to totally reformat my hard drive to install debian or ubuntu? Why are dialogs to big to fit on a 800x600 screen?

    These things are very obvious problems, at least to the users. But the developers have convinced themselves that these aren't problems so they just move on to adding new features and forget about these small issues. But its the details that are important to the users. I don't care if gnome supports SVG graphics or whatever, but I do want to be able to get my photos off my digital camera easily. I want to scan in something and print a copy. Why is that so hard?

    This is the major flaw with open source software. Most of the developers are volunteering their time so they care about what interests them. Thats fine, no one should tell them what they should be spending their own time doing. But until Open Source "grows up" and starts listening to its users it will never be popular and shouldn't expect to be.

  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:05AM (#12794835) Homepage Journal
    "Back before you had heard of Netscape, I was responsible for the Unix versions of Netscape Navigator through release 1.1."

    You mean back when the company was still called Mosaic and was on Arques in Sunnyvale?

  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:05AM (#12794836) Homepage Journal
    Why don't you write the code to do this yourself, it's all GPL.

    Uh. Why should I want to waste my time writing and testing such code when I can get a system that works out-of-box?

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:06AM (#12794838)
    If Linux is going to succeed on in gaining Desktop Market share. You should really listen to the rants of people who tried the platform and then ditched it. So except for calling the ditcher Dumb or a quitter. Look at the complaints. He wanted to get the sound card to work, or 2 sound cards to work and went threw the processes of RTFM and Asking for Help with no avail. So guess what they switched. And on the Mac it just worked. I think a lot of Linux Zealots and/or developers should use Macs for a while to get use to "Just works" and what it really means. I mean if this was 1990 sound cards were considered a speciality item on a PC like adding TV Tuner Card today. But every modern computer has a sound card. And for God sake Linux should support sound. Sound it no longer just for cutisy dings and for games. It is used for practical application such as VoIP and Watching DVD, Sound is now an integral component to the system and Linux should support it and support it well.
  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:06AM (#12794843)

    I hear ya.

    I've been doing Linux since '97. What drives me up the wall is every time I upgrade, without exception, I have to spend the next 2 weeks figuring out why everything stops working.

    (And yes,Debian fanboys, that includes your fave. I switched from Suse to Debian for precisely this reason.)

    I just upgraded to Sarge, and what happens?

    2.4.27 insists I don't have a raid array.

    2.6.8: my perfectly good, internal (not brain-damaged pseudo-modem) PCI modem won't dial out. I must've spent at least 30 minutes trying to figure out what driver wasn't being loaded before I gave up.

    I'm beginning to think you have to be a college-kid gentoo-fanboy with copious amounts of time on your hands to use Linux.

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:06AM (#12794847)
    If some individuals would spend the time they do hunting down negative comments about Linux, to actually fix Linux...

    Hunting down articles doesn't require to you learn any programming language. Anyone can hunt down articles, very few people can program. So the two groups aren't coincident. wouldn't have to worry about people exposing how difficult Linux is for the average user.

    What "worry"? Linux is very easy to install and run ... except for sound, wireless, 3D graphics and certain laptop chipsets.

    Now, if your "average user" does not use those features, then Linux is easier than Windows and on par with a Mac.

    The "problem" is that most of the HOME user market DOES want those features. But the CORPORATE/GOVERNMENT desktop will NOT focus on those features.

    So it all depends upon how you segment the market on whether this is an "issue" or a "critical problem".
    I'm all for bringing Linux to the mainstream and replacing Windows as the dominant OS, ...

    Eh, whatever. It's a tool. You use whatever works best in each situation. The key point with Linux is that it CAN be modified to suit your requirements.
    ...but that just won't happen until the average person can install their video games without calling tech support.

    The home desktop market will be the LAST market segment that will fall to Linux.

    First will be the servers - we're already seeing this happen.

    Second will be the corporate/government desktops - this is just beginning.

    Last will be the home market - there are just too many limited-run, proprietary hardware pieces out there that work "good enough" right now. In time I believe they will migrate to Linux. But focusing on the LAST segment and claiming that there's a problem when the OTHER segments are starting to migrate is just silly.
  • Same old crap (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tilmitt ( 856895 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:09AM (#12794861) Homepage
    That's such a typical Linux users response. You say it's better and then when it's shown that it isn't you say "Oh well it's free so it's allowed to not work!" You're like the people who have endless betas so that they can't be given out to for having buggy code.
  • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:32AM (#12795019)
    So he had a problem with ALSA and some sound-chipset (probably that 97-something). Oh and the problem was that he couldn't play 2 sounds at once. (The horror!)

    So instead of purchasing a $10 audio card (which will work on Linux) he gets an iMac.

    There is a huge double-standard going on when it's about Linux and MacOSX:

    Both Linux and MacOSX will run fine on supported hardware but Linux supports a lot more hardware. How exactly does that make MacOSX better?

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tigerc ( 628630 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:36AM (#12795041)
    Because maybe he has more important things to do? Because maybe he wants to do other things? Because maybe he wants something that works right out of the box. Because a lot of us don't have infinite amounts of time.
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:39AM (#12795066) Homepage
    Just because this guy wrote UNIX N1.1 doesn't make him some sort of God or anything. He seems to complain more than he makes an effort to help fix the problem, and I think we should just disregard his ranting and raving.

    Yes, there's still issues with Linux audio. But whining and running off to another OS isn't going to fix them.

    He complained endlessly about Mozilla too. It seems he does nothing but whine.

  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:54AM (#12795153) Homepage Journal
    Linux is only free if your hardware has no value.
  • by MPHellwig ( 847067 ) * <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:56AM (#12795165) Homepage
    "But whining and running off to another OS isn't going to fix them."

    Well the problem is fixed for him isn't?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @11:56AM (#12795169)
    Maybe someday it will grow up and stop being an advocacy site at all.
  • 1. I was wrong. Newest SuSE, Mandrake, and Fedora now include software mixing out of box.

    2. On Linux, the Nvidia hardware is siginifcantly faster than equivalent ATI lines.

    3. I'm a Mac OS X fan, but it is significantly cheaper to build a linux box with easy to setup hardware than it is to get a OS X box with equivalent hardware.

    Plus, I'm not impressed with Mac performance in gaming. My fairly cheap AMD64 mid-range box smokes my Dual G5 2.5 with a geforce 6800Gt in World of Warcraft.

    I'm running WoW on Cedega in Linux, versus a native binary for OS X.

    Also, exactly how did I suggest you should downgrade your hardware? Except for the soundcard thing, which is actually a non-issue if your running a latest distro, Nvidia and TI produce top-notch hardware.
  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:15PM (#12795279) Homepage
    I strongly suspect that most people pay for their Linux distributions nowadays.

    And, of course, most people aren't capable of fixing bugs in operating system software.

    They just complain their mouse doesn't work, because it doesn't.

  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JayBlalock ( 635935 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:21PM (#12795323)
    I'm really impressed at how the Linux geeks in this thread are responding to his criticisms about as well as Bill O'Reilly handles criticisms of our military.

    You bet your sweet bippy that was a troll. Do your worst, I've got karma to spare.

    *NOW* is the time for Linux to get its collective head out of the sand and really reach out to the common users. You know how on a weekly basis we laugh at Microsoft for announcing yet another feature that will NOT be in Longhorn? Let me just put this one in bold:

    Longhorn is going to suck. It's going to be the worst Windows since ME.

    Microsoft has no plan for it. They know they have really taken Windows about as far as it can go, and any real changes are going to require years of work. But because of market pressures, they can't really take the time that would need - and yet, due to mismanagement, they're going to spend years wastefully. This is the PERFECT opportunity for Linux to finally rise to the forefront -- but only if the geeks get off their high horses and admit that a good OS has to be usable by common man. AND, right along side that, if they can come to understand criticism is NOT necessarily an attack. Reading responses on this thread, all I can think of is O'Reilly screaming 'Shup up! SHUT UP!' at anyone speaking facts he doesn't want to face.

    I gave up on Linux for the same reasons as Zawinski. I want an OS that *works*. I don't want to tweak my sound drivers. I don't want to have my nVidia drivers FRICKING VANISH after a week of working right (after a week of work to get them running). I don't want to have to remember that completely ridiculous program names like "the GIMP" are actually usuable graphics applications and not, as the name would suggest to a normal human being, porn videos.

    (yes, I know what the name stands for. That does not change the fact that Granny Average User would never in a million years click on something called a "gimp" looking for a way to take the redeye out of her pictures.)

    The Linux community needs to get out of the 90s. There are modern solutions to every major problem with the OS, and within a year, two at max, they could make it REALLY user-friendly. The problem is that user-friendliness isn't sexy to Linux geeks. No one wants to spend time writing a new sound library that actually works when they can just look down their noses at anyone who doesn't know how to properly configure ALSA. And the only thing less sexy than THAT is not writing any actual code at all, but just going through the OS and making sure the user dialogues make some sort of sense to those who don't have PhDs and, as someone else mentioned, will actually fit on a screen resolution of less than 1024x768.

    But you know what? Someone has to do it. Because if no one does, Linux will NEVER get past being a hobbyist OS, and whatever horrible things the next Windows introduces to the computing world, we'll be stuck with dealing with them. ('Cause god knows, I just *love* having mailboxes on Linux and Mac machines shut down because Windows-borne virii have filled them with spam. That helps my sense of superiority to no end.)

    So this is truly put up and shut up time. There has never been a better opportunity for Linux to really make some inroads in the home market - but only if the contributors are willing to make some compromises and give the other 90% of users some reason to switch. So all I ask is, if you contribute to OSS, and you EVER spend any time online complaining about how Linux could be great if only it could get into the mainstream - use that time to tweak Linux's usability instead. Fixing bad error messages doesn't even require much programming skill at all. Make Linux usable for common people, and it can succeed. Period.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:36PM (#12795427)
    Get SuSE.
    Get an SB Live! Value or an SB Audigy! Value.
    Get an Nvidia Geforce(1/2/3/4) MX or not video card.
    Use an ACX110/111 802.11g wireless card.

    So Linux works only with this particular hardware setup? Uhh... thanks, but no thanks.
  • ... and it never will be.
  • Re:Fix Setup! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ambrosius27 ( 251484 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @12:50PM (#12795532)
    One small correction:

    GNOME *does* have the navagational paradigm, which is readily available within Nautilus menus. Navagational Nautilus is simply not the default mode.

    While the spatial Nautilus decision was certainly controversial, it hardly seems worth the continuing flamewars over it.
  • Tired of Futzing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shannon Love ( 705240 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:11PM (#12795673) Homepage
    I can relate to Zawinski's frustration and many others do as well. I notice that it seems to effect those with more experience than those newer to computing.

    When one first acquires a new tool, whether it is hardware, software or a woodworking plane, the very act of learning how use the tool itself works is highly engaging. Just futzing about figuring out how the new tool works is an end in itself.

    However, after one has spent 20+ years learning the ends and out of each season's new tools the joy fades. One becomes progressively less interested in the tools itself and more interested in product you want to use the tool to make. The time spent futzing with the tool is not engaging but frustrating and wasteful. You want to get the primary work done not spend all your time adjusting your tools.

    How many times over the years has Zawinski wrestled with a problem similar to his Linux sound issue? The thrill of solving such a problem is long gone, baby.

    The Linux community is dominated by people who enjoy the process of learning and using the tool itself. They are the kind of people who take the toaster apart to see how it works. The vast majority of desktop users, however, just want to make toast.

    People like Zawinski, who have taken apart their fair share of toasters, also now just want to make toast. At present, Linux doesn't let him do that.
  • by itcomesinwaves ( 890751 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:23PM (#12795738)
    However, I do belive you may have the same problems with MacOS X -- you can't play two sounds at once.

    Where in the world did you get that idea? Have you even used a mac since OSX came out? Since OS 8 came out? You do realize the Macs are the darlings of the media production industry, right? I mean honestly....

  • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:31PM (#12795786)
    my tv card also works great with the bttv and I only need to seelect the tuner type in a config file

    Can a driver determine the tuner type by querying the card?

    If so, then requiring the user to select the tuner type in a config file is completely stupid; the user shouldn't have to tell the computer something about a peripheral if the computer can determine that information itself without the user having to get involved.

  • by solios ( 53048 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:35PM (#12795800) Homepage
    Earth to Jamie - Linux is NOT FINISHED

    Neither is OS X or Windows. MacOS 9 is, and nobody's using it. OSsen are moving targets.

    That said, "IT'S NOT FINSIHED!!!!" is no excuse, and the FOSS community's inability to take completely valid criticism and do something about it is one of the reasons it isn't "finished".
  • Re:Dark Side?!?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnup . n et> on Sunday June 12, 2005 @01:36PM (#12795809) Homepage
    Apple is certainly /a/ Dark Side. I recently bought a Mac Mini to reaquaint myself with what Apple has to offer. I knew at the time that at the end of the day Apple's number one commitment is to it's shareholders, but blimey the OS X/iLife experience is just so commercial.

    It's as if you can't open a menu without a "BUY ITUNES MUSIC" or "BUY GARAGEBAND ACCESSORIES" options being thrust in your face. You can't move for invitations to pay stump up more cash for .Mac. Your USB webcam doesn't work? Why not buy an iSight?

    After years as primarily a Linux user, it's quite a shock to the system moving into an environment where I'm constantly being reminded of my status as a consumer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @02:01PM (#12795963)

    Your comment is the exact feeling of those of us who've been years amazed by the joy of learning the inner workings of a computer, its operating system, its tools, etc. but given the time just want it to work.

    I've made the switch as well, moved from desktop linux to MacOS X a year and a half ago. And boy I'd never, ever look back. I've replaced every single desktop and workstation machine with macs around here.

    Of course Linux deserves its place on the server side. That's somewhere I wouldn't change it (just *not yet*). Linux on the desktop is OK for people who wants to try it out, learn everything out of it, etc., but when you must get your real work done it just doesn't cut it.


    (posting anonymously as I've moderated on this story).
  • He's a Prima Donna (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @02:01PM (#12795965)
    And is throwing his toys out of the pram because he's just not getting everything his way. Don't worry nothing is ever perfect for these guys, OS X won't be able to satisfy his demand that the world be made perfect for him either.

    Guess what all you Prima Donnas, (and yes there are a *lot* of Prima Donnas out there). You will never ever get everything you want, something will always be wrong because the problem is not with the world at large, it's with your personality.


  • by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @02:40PM (#12796224) Homepage Journal
    You, ah, might want to retake some critical reading courses or something. His post as a whole didn't say anything like you argue against. Even the quote you pulled to back up your argument doesn't.

    He does correctly point out that the elitist bullshit is exactly that, but he doesn't say that there is only ONE TRUE OS.

    Maybe his comments just hit too close to home?
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @03:06PM (#12796400)
    He's right.

    We should be able to plug a mouse into a port on a Linux machine and expect it to work. We shouldn't need to troll the net looking for guidance on how to configure the damn thing. If it needs a driver and it needs to be configured, we deserve a GUI that handles the congifuring. A mouse is a tool that's used to manipulate a GUI; it's lame and lazy to build a driver and then slump off the configuration into an X ASCII config file.

    Ditto sound. Linux doesn't do it right. And, what's with that stupid business of distributions shipping muted ALSA drivers? That makes no sense at all. Can anyone even imgaine Microsoft or Apple doing something so gratuitously user hostile as shipping boxes with the sound turned off by default?
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @03:26PM (#12796514)
    For me, MacOS X truly combines the best of the open source and proprietary worlds. I can use a slick and stable GUI, running all the slickest proprietary applications such as Final Cut Pro and Photoshop. On the same machine I can also run all the open source web software I could ever want. And I can even copy that software and have it run fine on a Linux server without missing a beat. So I know exactly where JWZ's coming from, and it's interesting that we followed such a similar path. I joined Apple before he did probably mainly due to my need for proprietary software like Final Cut and Photoshop.

    I salute Apple for continuing to push the envelope in designer guis. Nonetheless, Apple is still closed source, has a smaller developer army than Linux, is not as adaptable as Linux, and is falling further and further behind Linux in desktop adoption. [] Got to be a story in there, hmm?
  • by macwhiz ( 134202 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @03:28PM (#12796526)

    You couldn't be more wrong about OS X.

    As a Mac user, the idea of a computer being unable to play an essentially unlimited number of simultaneous sounds is just foreign to me. I don't even think about it. I expect that I can leave iTunes playing music while playing a game that makes all sorts of noises and still hear alerts from iChat when I get an IM. There's nothing to configure, it just plain works.

    The only time I've been amazed by sound on OS X was when I first played with Soundtrack. This program lets you create professional-quality music by mixing up to 99 tracks of layered audio. Not only does it mix them in realtime, but it can apply advanced audio effects in realtime as well.

    Not once in the process do you have to care about audio hardware setup. Whatever you have plugged in -- analog speakers, USB speakers, S/PDIF -- the appropriate audio comes out of it.

    Meanwhile, you need to spend an afternoon to get open-source UNIX to reliably make a sine-wave beep.

    Perhaps you might want to review Apple's overview of OS X 10.4's Core Audio functionality []?

  • Why is this bad? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by strlen ( 117515 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @03:43PM (#12796614) Homepage
    Seems to be that JWZ's gripe is that Linux requires an one to have at least some skill as a *System Administrator* to well, *administer* a machine. Mice features aren't plug and play (I am assuming he refers to the fact that a scroll mouse still needs to be configured before the scroll wheel must be used -- USB mice *are* essentially plug and play with most all recent versions of Xorg), is that really a bad thing on a *UNIX* machine? Of course you are supposed to configure your system software (and X11 certain counts as such), not the system for you -- on a professionally oriented OS like Linux or BSD?

    It is precisely this desire to accomodate a user who is wants to a) admin a full featured UNIX machine b) not have any system administration skill that is has ruined most *all* Linux distributions (note: all Gentoo fanboys replying to this will be deported to Siberia) -- and which is why I use FreeBSD wherever I can (the only reason I wouldn't use FreeBSD is a specific application or hardware support -- such as on amd64 machines, at least for now).

    There's also nothing wrong with OS X and before that Irix -- which JWZ *does* seem to be fond off -- for gearing themselves to developers/designers rather than system administrators, that should be encourage -- and users who wish to use a Linux machine *without* being willing to read documentation should be more than encouraged to switch. OS X is an excellent system for that user -- they still have the power of a UNIX shell, etc...

    Yet, people will remember how insecure IRIX is out of the box (and to all the IRIX bashers -- it *can* be made secure) -- and especially how expensive and hard to obtain the OS is! -- those are all prices you pay for being able to plug and play *AND* have a "cool" UNIX shell.

    So essentially, to JWZ and the rest of the crowd -- the same people for whom garbage like GNOME/KDE/linuxconf was created -- don't let the door kick you on the way out.

    [On a side note, what esd (enlightenment sound daemon -- which is still used by GNOME junk afaik) has been doing what jwz was trying to do since *at least* 1999; It amazes me how such talented developers can't do even the simplest administration tasks, I've worked with people holding M.S. and Ph.D degrees in computer science (or math or EE, but you get the idea), who couldn't use vi and used *TELNET OVER WIFI*; I also know *many* graduates of the famed Berkeley EECS program, some of them now in graduate schools, who can't manage to write a makefile or extract a tar file]

    This is only a semi-"arrogant UNIXoid rant" -- I don't see anything wrong with OS X (or IRIX), it's just that users *shouldn't* demand mainstream Linux distributions (and BSD flavors) act like it.I also find it entirely acceptable for people to be developers and *not* be system administrators -- indeed, this is how I get jobs :-)
  • by Ravnen ( 823845 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @04:49PM (#12797108)
    the main reason to use Linux isn't the cost, it's the legal freedom to do pretty much whatever you want with it

    This is true for only a very small number of people. For most people, software licensing ideologies mean nothing, and what matters is how well the system does the tasks they want it to do.

  • Re:telling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by torokun ( 148213 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @05:05PM (#12797232) Homepage
    You want to know the real issue?

    People in high school, college, grad school, or academia have enough time to futz around with this stuff.

    People who work on open source code or work in linux day-to-day are paid to futz around or buy a preconfigured system.

    But people who are not in the above categories do not generally have the TIME to deal with crap like this. Heck, I put together my own machine a few years ago, and still haven't had time to back it all up and reinstall it, even though I've needed to, for over 3 years. These people would much rather pay for something to work than spend their time trying to make it work. This is the issue. TIME.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2005 @05:26PM (#12797401)
    ALWAYS, always, always, check your hardware for linux compatibility, even if you are running windows (just so you have the option to swap in the future). This means sometimes you have to avoid the very bleeding edge, but it's more about investing a few google searches into hardware before you buy.

    Actually, after moving my wife from a 2.4 to a 2.6 kernel, it seems that none of her removable devices are recognized.

    Yes, udev


    Yeah, back at you. All three screens of udev and sysfs man page.

    Hey, L0zR, just do a modprobe and create your device nodes manually EVERY TIME YOU BOOT

    Yeah, like that makes sense and like my USER wife is going to do that.

    Yeah, well. You expect backward compatibility or something?

    I guess not. I could just as well get a Mac.

    [Been a couple weeks now and I am REALLY, REALLY, REALLY building a HATRED for udev, so I can feel the guy's pain at the moment toward linux and hardware in general.]

  • Re:Whoop-De-Do (Score:4, Insightful)

    by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @05:36PM (#12797457)
    I don't know that moving the people on the 253 browser projects over to ALSA and telling them to "make sound work" would solve the sound problem

    It might, but that's not what I was pointing out. I was pointing out that part of the reason that Linux on the desktop is still sucking in many different ways is that people don't consider it interesting to go off and fix the suckiness, they instead go and start another browser project, or MySQL web interface, or whatever. This is both the strength of open source software, and it's weakness. It's like living in a town where everyone's jobs focused on what they wanted to do instead of what needs doing. Who'd pick up the garbage? Who'd dig the ditches and lay pipe in the rain? Who'd really be a plumber (literally working in other people's excrement) if there wasn't that large hourly rate? Same thing with open source. This is where M$ and others whom you pay money to do have an advantage becuase they can point to the crapwork that needs doing and tell someone working there to fix it or find another job. So it gets fixed.

    Thinking of the authors of software as interchangeable is unrealistic

    I never said that, or for that matter suggested that they switch projects. I just pointed it out as a glaring weakness in the OSS model. You said it yourself: People work on the projects that interest them.
  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @05:58PM (#12797599) Homepage Journal
    I wouldn't bet on it. jwz used to like to use SGI for the same reason--you pays your money, your shit just works. Fiddling with your desktop has some value, but not much.
  • by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @06:00PM (#12797609) Journal
    Both Linux and MacOSX will run fine on supported hardware but Linux supports a lot more hardware. How exactly does that make MacOSX better?

    Because of the difference in definitions of the word "supported". In MacOS, that word usually means "auto-detected, driver already present or on companion CD-ROM, plug-and-play". In Linux, it can mean exactly the same, or it can mean "look online, read config file comments, experiment, deal with lack of meaningful error messages" and more.

    In the end, whether you value time or money more is entirely your own decision, and the people who find the Mac "better" probably value their time more. You don't have to agree, but it probably helps to understand why.

  • by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @06:14PM (#12797694) Homepage
    Yes, there's still issues with Linux audio. But whining and running off to another OS isn't going to fix them.

    That's because "issues with Linux audio" is the problem of Linux audio developers, not users. His problem was getting sound to work, and switching to Mac OS X solved that.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cahiha ( 873942 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @06:21PM (#12797743)
    So what's unreliable? A lot of USB stuff doesn't have Mac drivers because it's not needed -- the Mac has built-in support for much of it.

    Same in Linux.

    As for third-party USB hardware, I've not had a problem. My Macs have lots of USB accessories:

    All of that hardware works with Windows and Linux as well.

    Open source UNIX-alikes will never gain much market-share

    Open source UNIX-alikes already have a larger market share than Macintosh.

    True, Macs work best with Apple hardware... which makes sense, since that means they've been validated to work together from day one.

    And the same is true for Linux and Windows: buy hardware that is supported by, and tested with, the OS, and you are going to be fine on any OS. Macintosh is no better than Linux in this regard.
  • by mixmasta ( 36673 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @06:24PM (#12797768) Homepage Journal

    The flaw in your argument is that you are comparing a 5 year-old OS to one built 18 hours ago. Of course it will have better hw support on install.

    You're just gonna have to hunt down the windows drivers, it aint that hard. Copy them to the hard drive or cd and be done with it.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @06:44PM (#12797868)
    >> ... if you're serious about using Linux on the desktop, why would you use an impopular/non-desktop distribution anyway?

    Your right about Fedora, It deserves credit for paying attention to real people.

    However, I bought a Mac a few weeks back. After close to a decade with Linux -- Slackware, then Fedora after Patrick dropped Gnome -- I was rather weary of all the annoying noise that surrounds Linux: the seemingly not-quite-finished status of a lot of Linux software, perpetual dependency issues, the increasing shrillness and nastiness of some parts of the "community", the arrogance of many developers who treat users like starving dogs raiding the litter of the elite...You get my point. Linux is increasingly held hostage to ideology and I'd rather not be.
  • by Utilizer_NorCal ( 891569 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @06:45PM (#12797877)
    Hear, hear. I too have raged incessantly at some of the smug assertions posted by the Linux zealots, having been a proponent of the 'Nix OS for many years now. I am tired of 'bootable' isos that fail to recognize My standard serial mouse or function with older equipment whose BIOS does not support boot-from-cdrom, mandatory 1024x768 setups or those where you can but then you can not even read the Help-getting-started html page completely because the page goes below the bottom of the screen and there is no way to relocate it -AND some of the desktop icons do not even show up (being located on the bottom right of the -I assume- 1024x764 default window positions, and all the distros that will just simply halt when attempting to boot them because *EVERYBODY* has at least 128Megs of RAM. What ever happened to "Linux Allows You To Use Legacy Hardware"? Not to mention "Your Network card is not recognized". It's a bloody 3C509B, for God's sake! And do not even get Me started on those distros that require an apparently broadband connection to do more than just launch the File Manager.

    Even despite those limitations, I would have switched to Linux on My main machine -no, make that ANY machine long ago if just two things were functional; a firewall that works like ATGuard or Outpost (NO Connection Unless Specifically Allowed Previously Or Just This Once)... and a decent CAD program. It just kills Me when I hear the stadard cry of "Linux has ports of all the Major Apps!" How about AutoCAD? Or ANYTHING even remotely close. I mean, bloody hell, My preferred low-end/low-resource app is a Visual Basic construct. How difficult could it be to port an older version to Linux?

    And please, no comments from the 'What A L00ser, Just Type In (insert insanely long string of utter gobbledygook here) To Config The Firewall'. I was a DOS proponent for many years before I was forced to switch to 'Doze (Linux not being that common in the Corporate environment then). NOBODY wants to type in long combinations of letters, numbers, and switches to do something.

    People switched to 'Doze from DOs (or Unix) because it was much easier. I have heard for years how Linux was Ready To Replace Windows. Wake up, people. If you can not even get 'Nix to perform the most basic of functions that 'Doze does automatically (Sound Configuration for one), then Linux/BSD will continue to be relagated to exist as a mere fraction of the marketplace.

  • To the naysayers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hkb ( 777908 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @07:11PM (#12798002)
    When you've been using UNIX for 20 years, start a family, and actually find other hobbies than sitting in front of the ol' cancer machine, you'll get sick of stuff like:

    - learn yet another new config format
    - having to constantly recompile a kernel or a kmod
    - compile anything

    Just to get a camera hooked to your PC or try out some new piece of software.

    It just gets really fucking old, eventually.

    This is why I see OS X as a bigger threat to Linux than Windows. A lot of Windows users actually LIKE Windows; the way its laid out, the interface design, etc. They usually don't like OS X's interface.
  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @07:19PM (#12798044) Homepage Journal
    Why is this bad? Because he's using a desktop machine, and Linux simply doesn't compare for *desktop* use?

    Yes, you can configure it that way. Yes, perhaps he should know better.

    However, if there's a solution out there that *just works*, and provides basically everything that you get with a Linux desktop and more as far as *desktop* functionality goes - what sane person wouldn't switch, if what they want is a usable desktop?

    You shouldn't NEED to have a system administator background in order to control your *desktop* OS, or configure it for basic *desktop* tasks.

    I've been a Linux/BSD geek since about 1995, but I'm seriously considering a Mac for exactly the same reasons... also because virtually all Free software runs on a Mac, but it also has decent commercial support.

    Like some poster said yesterday - computers are tools. Use the correct tool for the job. BSD/Linux for servers, OS/X for desktop. Don't go trying to nail shit to a wall using a screwdriver...


  • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:23PM (#12798817) Homepage
    And is throwing his toys out of the pram because he's just not getting everything his way.

    I disagree; IMO he's got a legitimate point. From the JWZ blog regarding problems with XMMS hogging all audio output such that no other apps can play audio:
    I can't believe I even have to think about this shit. What year is it again?

    This frustration highlights a failing of the Linux-based desktop platform. Put generally, Linux systems often require the user fuss with (and be aware of!) highly technical system tweaks to satisfy some really basic end-user scenarios. The blog's thread has lots of people going on about ways to fix this particular problem, but frankly I'm on JWZ's side: it's a damn waste of time! At least it is for those whom, the computer is a tool for getting work done, instead of an end in and of itself.

    Put another way, I'm all for some degree of tweaking in my day-to-day usage. I find and install new tools, write helpful scripts/plugins/etc., and do other "meta-work" to make myself more productive. This process is kinda fun, too. But having to screw around for hours figuring out what to do just to get more than one app to play audio is insane.

    And the real killer is that the solution is probably not to just roll up the ol' sleeves and write some software to "scratch the itch". This isn't a software problem, it's a real world problem of fragmented design and developer effort and a lack of a seamless out-of-box experience for Linux-based systems.

    Getting fed up with that is hardly "throwing [your] toys out of the pram" -- it's called cutting your losses.
  • by ElGuapoGolf ( 600734 ) on Sunday June 12, 2005 @09:42PM (#12798953) Homepage
    Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Energy Saver. Configure to your heart's desire.

    Fantastic. However, you didn't read all that well. I know it works, I know it works well. But how can I tell it to not have my computer go to sleep if I'm not actually using it but it is doing processing in the background. Such as, maybe, downloading files.

    I can see how those could be useful, yes. In fact, there are a few different virtual desktop managers available for OS X. A quick Google search does wonders, but this appears to be the one most recently updated.

    Did you read my comments about how they don't work all that well, or did you just blindly point me at the solution I already use, which I mentioned in my original comment?
  • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:51AM (#12800096)
    Re-read my post. Slashdot has sunk to a new low. Now you people don't just not RTFA or RTFS but you don't bother reading posts you are replying to.

    I was talking about people ragging on Jamie Zawinski for his decision to switch to the mac.

    Does this decision all of a sudden make his past contributions less valuable? Ingrates, the lot of you.

  • by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:45AM (#12800306)
    Overall, most of your complaints could have been solved simply by asking a Mac forum (most of us are quite friendly ;) ), or some Google searches.

    I think that's the GP's whole point. It doesn't "just work", and this isn't really any different than with a Linux distribution. In either case you have to solve problems with google, forums, or mailing lists.

    Personally I think a lot of the problem is that people choose an unsuitable distribution. If you don't want to mess with things, use Ubuntu or Mandrake. Don't go using Debian and complain you have to use a CLI, or use Gentoo and complain that an upgrade broke something.

    Of course, that requires some who isn't too lazy to use google. []
  • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Emetophobe ( 878584 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @02:42AM (#12800472)
    I stopped using Linux a while ago after many years of tweaking everything. It's alot more then just an issue with sound support for me. I just want stuff to work "out of the box". Eight years ago, I used to enjoy tweaking stuff and playing around with linux, but I grew tired of it. I just want to play games or listen to music, I don't want to spend a day tweaking the kernel, different config files, downloading X different dependencies to get something to work.

    I think linux needs something similar to DirectX (bare with me for a minute). One subsystem for Sound (DirectSound), one subsystem for Input (DirectInput), etc.. The system as a whole would deal with the hardware, and provide a simple/standard interface so I don't have to worry what hardware the user is running. This is something I think the kernel SHOULD do, there shouldn't be a need to for all these sound systems and deamons (esd, etc.). I shouldn't have to worry about what sound card I use, the kernel should manage it for me, there is enough drivers out there now that this is possible at the kernel level, so why doesn't it happen?

    The last thing I want to do is tweak my mouse, keyboard, graphics card, cdrom, monitor and everything else to get them to work. If linux really wants to compete, we need to make hardware detection "just work" at the kernel level so the average user doesn't have to worry about the underlying wiring.

    I will say that some distributions have made great progress with hardware detection in the past 8 years from when I first started using it, but it really should be done by the kernel, not a user space program.
  • by IntergalacticWalrus ( 720648 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @06:00AM (#12801003)
    At first there was silence.

    Then a company called 4Front came along. They wanted to create a common sound API standard for all those UNIX systems that lacked sound support, like Linux, BSD, etc. Hence OSS (Open Sound System) was born. A simple API to cover a simple need: get sound. Cool.

    But then they decided to charge people for their drivers. Now who hell would pay for a fucking sound driver? Hence the OSS/Free project was born. Its mission: create free OSS-compatible drivers.

    But most OSS/Free drivers sucked. Buggy, lacked basic features, etc. And they still suck as of now. But since sound manufacturers often don't reveal specs, you can't really blame the OSS/Free guys for this.

    Also, OSS was nice and all, but lacked advanced audio features needed for pro work, and >2 speaker support requires having multiple sound device nodes, which is an ugly hack. Also, some people didn't like its ioctl() interface, saying a library would be superior. Hence the ALSA project was born. Its mission: create a modern sound API for Linux (yes, only Linux), along with free drivers that don't suck.

    But ALSA has many problems. First, its library-based API broke binary and source compatibility many times. Second, it has a powerful infrastructure, capable of doing pro work stuff such as routing sound from a card to another, or use plugins, however ALSA can only be configured to do those things through confusing plaintext config files that are barely documented, and hard to understand. Thirdly, it's a bitch to have working. ALSA is very modularized, which is normally a good thing, however it tends to make it break up more than the plain one module way of OSS.

    Oh, and let's not forget that since OSS is an established standard, ALSA needs backwards OSS compatibility. Hence the ALSA people made OSS emulation standard in ALSA. Which brings up the same chicken and egg problem we have seen with OS/2 and its Win 3.1 support: since ALSA has OSS API support, why should we care about the native ALSA API? So, even today, many apps have not taken the plunge to ALSA because OSS "just works". Well, most of the times at least. OSS emulation is not perfect (gasp!).

    Oh, another thing: since the ALSA libs are LGPL and have broken backwards compat quite often, closed-source projects tend to forget about bothering to support ALSA, prefering the simple ioctl() API of OSS.

    And of course most ALSA drivers are very buggy, for the same reason as the free OSS ones. Which brought up some interesting situations: sometimes when an application supports both the OSS and ALSA APIs, some ALSA drivers actually work better with the OSS API!! Another blow to the native ALSA API.

    But one of the biggest problems of ALSA is that its devs refuse to believe that having more than one app playing sound at the same is a major problem, which continues to piss off lots of people to this day. Indeed, very few sound cards can actually play more than one stream directly in hardware, so the mixing must be done in software, preferably at the driver level so that the operation is transparent and (this is very important) latency-less. Windows has done this for a long time now. The ALSA people came up with "dmix", a userspace plugin that does the transparent mixing we needed so much. However, being a userspace plugin, it needs to be configured, so again the ugly ALSA config files are to be used. After being configured, dmix works quite nice, HOWEVER for some reason some apps just crap out when using dmix. Apparently dmix is not transparent enough. It's clear now that software mixing must be done at a lower level, however no work is done on that front. Arguments against it say "this shouldn't be in kernelspace, bla bla". which is funny, because the commercial OSS drivers do support hardware mixing inside their kernel drivers. And it always work fine.

    For a long time people have tried to solve the more-than-one-app problem through things called sound servers. The idea is simple enough: have one program open the sound
  • by McPierce ( 259936 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:58AM (#12801685) Homepage
    jwz wrote xscreensaver, Lucid Emacs, Netscape Mail and News 2.0 to 3.0 and the original UNIX versions of Netscape Navigator.
    So? What's he done lately? And, at any rate, the point is are we supposed to be lemmings who follow the preferences of individual programmers or follow what we each individually prefer and find makes us the most productive? If one guy, no matter who, decides to go to another OS should we all do the same? And, anyway, if he can't get sound and video to work on Linux, he's not all he's cracked up to be. I'm just a lowly web and mobile programmer of no great fame, and even I got both sound and great video working with little or no major effort. If he can't do it, maybe he's not all that great...
  • by Electrum ( 94638 ) <> on Monday June 13, 2005 @11:15AM (#12802846) Homepage
    And, anyway, if he can't get sound and video to work on Linux, he's not all he's cracked up to be.

    You are missing the point. He could make it work. But it's not worth his time to fiddle around and mess with it. It is far easier and more productive to simply buy a Mac and have a fully functional UNIX machine. The fact that it doesn't "just work" means that Linux isn't a viable desktop replacement for the ordinary computer user.
  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:01PM (#12803265) Homepage Journal
    Well, he'd probably still be with SGI, except they silently imploded 4-5 years ago, which is why he went to Linux. Also, he was a big proponent of the whole "open source" thing through his work with Mozilla, and chose to eat his own dog food.

    Honestly, he should get credit for sticking with it for this long. He's a guy who has work he needs to have done, and Linux wasn't cutting it. More importantly, it wasn't cutting it and the "linux community" refused to accept that it had any failures at all. Well, maybe some token words of acknowledgement, before going off and reinventing the desktop or package manager again.

    I like Linux just fine as a server. I wouldn't bother with the desktop at all, and haven't for more than 6 years.

  • dumb /. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bored ( 40072 ) on Monday June 13, 2005 @03:52PM (#12805670)
    Everyone is saying "he must not be that smart/great" if he can't get a sound card working in Linux.. My take on it is "maybe he is to busy working on useful things to waste his time getting a sound card working in linux". As someone who gets shit done at home and work, I find that you have to focus on the problem and work on it rather than being distracted by everything around you. Spending 6 hours getting proper audio support in linux is 6 hours lost that could have been spent working on your project. Today it's 6 hours on the soundcard tomorrow its three weeks figuring out why the throughput in your application is 1/10th of what it should be (my current problem) because some idiot linux kernel 'hacker' broke part of the disk subsystem in the last 10 revisions of the kernel.

    A few years ago I decided to switch my desktop back to windows 2k and exceed, and I'm significantly more productive than I ever was running linux, and wasting 3 hours trying to figure out how to remap my goto-line key in the most recent version of emacs, after the developers decided to use the key for something else.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser