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Author Topic: Ongoing and Never Ending Travails of Linux as a Desktop  (Read 875 times)

The Gorn

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Ongoing and Never Ending Travails of Linux as a Desktop
« on: February 05, 2018, 06:51:43 pm »
^ I was going to suggest EXACTLY the same thing.

I've now been using Linux as a primary desktop for almost 4 months. I recently considered moving back to Windows as the boot OS. Right now I really don't want to do that!

I bought a very cheap copy of Windows 7 Pro from a seller on Ebay ($30) and installed and activated it as a VM under VirtualBox. I need Win7 for Quickbooks, Quicken, and, soon, TurboTax.

Linux has MANY UI and usability quirks that turn me into a raging madman. Also I insist against what aspies may declare, that Linux's UI is consistently slower than Windows. Just not as crisp.

But above all the core of Linux is *predictability*. No forced-upgrade bullshit and no continual battle for my machine and data against Microsoft's fiat imperatives.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 08:20:34 am by The Gorn »
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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2018, 08:14:21 am »
Gorn, yes, the Win 10 was moving faster than the prior Wins I've had.  Booting much faster.  I'll have to give it that.  It's just the whole deal of having no control of my own hardware, the paid antivirus "yearly tax", the updates hassle, the always imminent OS crashes, etc., that put me off. I've been using some form of Ubuntu or Mint for years, and I don't remember an update or upgrade ever having gone wrong.  They just work, and quickly, and 75% time don't request reboot to complete.  It just works.  And it's free.  On the contrary, Windows updates always seem funky, don't tell you much when they go wrong, and just leave me feeling I am working with a toy.  And the Windows always seem more prone to hacks.  I will say the government agencies and big corps I worked for had it a little better, with dedicated systems admins.  Even then, they were less stable than my home linux box.  And when Windows goes annual subscription, I'll have to pay Bill and his minions yearly for their malfeasance.

Will keep the virtual box approach in mind for future, though.

I keep thinking "it would be nice if Mint Linux had {insert feature that is convenient, quick,  accessible and reliable in Windows}". But I think of the MANY hassles and problems with Windows when you care for it on a PC, especially as the install of the OS ages and you install, deinstall, and update many things over the months or years.

Linux is much rougher around the edges than Windows and many hackers with poor and limited documentation or usability skills have contributed nonetheless vital programs and utilities to the Linux user base.

One example is that stuff on my desktop will just not work one day in Linux when I boot up. The "program menu" will vanish, or the desktop will degrade to a weird different set of icons, or certain taskbar notification icons for networking or whatever will vanish, or the very specific Windows like keypad mapping I need so that I can type without stopping and thinking will just disappear. Then queue up 15 - 90 minutes of dicking around looking for a fix, against a background of multiple windows managers used with Linux, so advice someone gives may simply not even be applicable.

Pxsant here has criticized my own criticism of Linux and claims that everything I've stated is off base, that Linux is perfectly reliable and stable and user-friendly. So that's a differing opinion.

The point is, Linux is a house of cards when it comes to trivial usability stuff that you can work around if need be. Windows is a house of cards of locking up your machine, or destroying your data through unbreakable encryption, or requiring you to buy something to keep it running reliability.

As far as VirtualBox, if your tech skills don't include it, it is quite easy to stumble through. One big advantage of VBox and making Windows a guest OS under it is that the entire Windows install including  the C: drive and all programs and settings becomes a massive .vhd file that you can copy off to backup storage or duplicate for additional Windows OSs on the same VBox install.

Using Windows as a guest OS under a virtual machine program like VirtualBox kind of packages up and isolates Windows so you can deal with it as a separate maintenance issue.
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pxsant

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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2018, 01:19:12 pm »
Pxsant here has criticized my own criticism of Linux and claims that everything I've stated is off base, that Linux is perfectly reliable and stable and user-friendly. So that's a differing opinion.

I am trying to remember which version of Mint you installed.  I think it was XFCE right?   If so, that might account for the issues you have seen.  XFCE is the least stable of the three common versions (Cinnamon, Mate and XFCE) available for Mint.    My personal favorite is actually Mate.   I like the Mate menu system better than the Cinnamon menu system.  Both Cinnamon and Mate are very stable.

VirtualBox is a great tool.   I have Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10 all running in VM's on my main Linux Mint mate box.

The Gorn

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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2018, 01:34:56 pm »
It is XFCE. Things occasionally change somewhat randomly when I log in for some sessions. One recent example is that when I rebooted I lost the "Whisker" menu. I found it in the toolbar preferences, but then the layout of the menu was completely different from what I really preferred, and I lost every single Favorited program. I finally got back the G*ddamned menu I wanted by locating the whisker menu settings files under ~/.config, on a recent backup, and copying over the main desktop's files from  the backup. No thanks whatsoever in any way to the wizards who write the spotty and poorly structured documentation for this garbage.

But the main ongoing issue I now have with Linux is that it's just not crisp in use. Almost anything I do, regardless of being in an application or being in the desktop, seems to have a slight lag between clicking or double clicking and the response/action. 

I have 12 GB, and I'm using the official Nvidia driver for my graphics card rather than the generic video support. Also the memory use is quite low and I'm never even close to going into swap.

Windows has a far, far superior desktop feel to Linux. This is pretty close but no cigar. And I have to fight very hard for the knowledge to set up trivial creature comforts such as the Windows key mapping of the keypad (which treats the numeric keypad differently depending on shift status.) I never know what any of this shit is called and there are dozens of "config programs".

Linux is a poorly thought out amateurish mess. That's exactly what it is - amateurish and not professional - hackers dicked with it until it kind of works. 

But at least unlike WIndows its design intent is not to screw the consumer or user out of the use of their data.I can live with that for now.
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unix

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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2018, 07:57:19 pm »
I am amazed they cannot standardize on Linux and come up with something really idiot-proof.
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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2018, 10:21:36 pm »
Gorn, I wonder if trying the MATE desktop might be useful. Maybe just create a bootable USB memory stick with Mint / MATE and try it for a while and see if it addresses the problems you've experienced with XFCE?

Or, alternatively, install MINT / MATE as a guest in your virtual machine?

The goal would be to get a feel for whether it might prove better for you than XFCE, without having to change your existing system unless MATE really proves better for you.

Anyway, just an idea... one you might well have already thought of. 

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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2018, 07:54:15 am »
To lock your XFCE desktop to prevent XFCE from making changes to it --

sudo chattr +i ~/.config/xfce4/desktop/*


For example, this prevents XFCE from automatically re-arranging the position of desktop icons.

If you want to make changes to the desktop, then you have to set the immutable bit (i) back to off --

sudo chattr -i ~/.config/xfce4/desktop/*

To verify status of the immutable bit --

sudo lsattr ~/.config/xfce4/desktop/*

Maybe this can help the stability of your XFCE desktop.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 06:51:06 pm by benali72 »

unix

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Re: So they upgraded from Windows 7 to 10...
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2018, 06:56:05 pm »
This reminds of the days when I ran mwm, then twm and finally fvwm (feeble virtual window manager). 

Now that was some cool stuff. Not yet surpassed by anything today.  I saw modern interfaces, how overly complicated they are.
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The Gorn

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Linux as a desktop, garbage
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2018, 08:33:21 am »
Gorn, I wonder if trying the MATE desktop might be useful. Maybe just create a bootable USB memory stick with Mint / MATE and try it for a while and see if it addresses the problems you've experienced with XFCE?

Or, alternatively, install MINT / MATE as a guest in your virtual machine?

The goal would be to get a feel for whether it might prove better for you than XFCE, without having to change your existing system unless MATE really proves better for you.

Anyway, just an idea... one you might well have already thought of.

After all of these issues I've had that contradict what the experts here have stated, anyone says to me about comparative merits of X vs Y on Linux means anything or has any credibility, so I am loathe to waste my time even more.

I run Xfce because I was told by you guys it was the fastest UI. Things can still be slow in launching.  I'm not going to regress from that.

As far as the VM - UHHH no! I want something simple and reliable, not another !@^&( virtual machine I have to boot in order to do certain work.

I already have that (and accept that) with Windows ware.

To lock your XFCE desktop to prevent XFCE from making changes to it --
...
Maybe this can help the stability of your XFCE desktop.

REALLY?

That will be my "work flow" , non flow, Linux interrupting me with error messages.

So if I do ANYTHING at the UI level that would affect these settings, it WILL then error out or crash programs. I'll drag an icon on the desktop and get a big ugly error box when I release.

God damn does that sound lame.   Much more so than the occasional unnecessary but FOSS programmer initiated crash I get now.

Completely unacceptable.   What you are stating is an absolute admission of defeat, that the UI *IS* buggy so I have to patch around it with a lame hack.

The UI should just be stable, period, and not mother-f***ing change things on me or corrupt shit because it's crap software (which it may be.)

I shouldn't have to put the UI in read only mode to get work done.

I still don't think you or Pxsant sit in a Linux desktop session 8+ hours a day and do writing or programming continuously, or that either of you pay very close attention to how the flow of work on the keyboard goes.

Because if  you did you would understand that things launch slowly, that the UI gets messed up randomly, that certain subtle settings that assist your workflow get lost in Linux.

Linux inferior to Windows at the UI, an absolute truism.

PS: NOTHING PERSONAL in the above. You guys take a certain position in these discussions that I completely disagree with based upon direct experience. 

There's sort of a crudeness, for want of a more politic work, with the opinions of some very technical and otherwise extremely knowledgeable IT people when they are confronted with issues in the "softer" areas like UI. IT people who don't live inside content creation tasks tend to fluff off truly irritating issues as though they should be considered insignificant.

Kind of the same idea as a programmer that tells you that assembly language is totally good enough and you need nothing better, because at least you don't have to flip front panel switches to store a boot loader. :P
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 08:53:53 am by The Gorn »
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The Gorn

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The areas where Linux shines compared to Windows
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2018, 08:39:51 am »
The back end. Linux is shit at the front end UI. It shines in geeky operations that also affect my goodwill toward fellow tech professionals. :P

* File operations.

Copying a few hundred megabytes is *almost* instantaneous on Linux compared to Windows.

A "tar" of a few hundred megabytes without compression is also incredibly fast. (Compression slows it down greatly.)

* Certain online operations

I use Private Internet Access (PIA), the VPN company with their own client. The native Linux client starts quite a bit more slowly than the native Windows client. HOWEVER, connection once the client is running is MUCH faster in Linux - it can take 10 seconds in Windows, and it is like a couple of seconds in Linux to connect.

Bittorrent downloads - MUCH faster with the "Transmission" client in Linux than with the official Bittorrent client in Windows. The download speeds I achieve in Linux with that client are much better - up to 5 mbps. I can download a 500 mb media file in under 5 minutes when there are plenty of seeders.

The network "layer" in Linux is much faster in activating and deactivating the network interface and in making connection locally, than in Windows.
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The Gorn

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One key issue with VBox and Linux - Losing Integration Settings in a Session
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2018, 08:46:08 am »
If I have used the same session of Windows in a Virtualbox VM a few times - meaning once I started it, I close the session for now by saving rather than shutting down Windows in the guest -

Certain integration settings are lost, even though they appear in the settings dialog for that VM,

Bi-directional copy and paste is lost. I RELY ON THAT. I may have a browser session in Linux (which I treat as a primary desktop) and I copy (say) a confirmation code from a banking website. I want to then paste that into Quickbooks inside the VM. NOPE. What gets pasted in the Windows VM is the trash in the local VM's clipboard. NOT the clipboard from the Linux desktop.

I wind up creating a temp file in the shared files in Linux, saving the text, and reading it in the VM and copying and pasting that using Notepad.

To get bidirectional clipboards working again I have to shut down the Windows VM (time consuming) and reboot the guest.

Not a serious functional limitation but clearly the result of poor testing and bugs.
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The Gorn

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The !@^(!@ damned KEYRING
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2018, 08:57:04 am »
Every time I launch Chromium in Linux (it's much faster than Firefox in Linux) I get a modal nag box that takes over THE ENTIRE DESKTOP from a keyring manager which wants my login password.

I've gone to the "Passwords and Keys" applet innumerable times and reset the password to none (my PC is on the home internet connection behind a firewall so it's ok.)

That's supposed to solve this problem by removing the password from the keyring.

Then the setting does not take. At some future date it prompts me for the keyring password again.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 09:10:38 am by The Gorn »
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The Gorn

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Chromium, again - duped bookmark menus!
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2018, 09:31:32 am »
Just now I found that Chromium decided to create duplicates of every single one of my bookmarks. I have bookmark folders along the menu labeled things like "My Stuff", "Links", "Search". Each one had an additional copy. So two "My Stuff" menus, etc.

At least they are side by side with the originals (no idea which one is "original") to make deleting a bit easier.

I assume it's a Linux thing.

The fun never ends with this amateurish shitware.
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benali72

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Re: Ongoing and Never Ending Travails of Linux as a Desktop
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2018, 05:54:46 pm »
I'm sorry you're having such a bad time, Gorn. I wish I could help, but I think I'd have to be there in person to do that. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it gets better.

The Gorn

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Re: Ongoing and Never Ending Travails of Linux as a Desktop
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2018, 06:24:08 pm »
I started to enumerate all of the mostly little but consistent irritations that Linux foists on me. And these posts cover most of the misbehaviors I've found.

Hey, I said some good things, too. :P

To bottom line my misanthropic rant above:

The writers of FOSS and also "really serious" IT people who support this stuff commercially for a living seem to have big blind spots about the day to day usability.

I'll give you a concrete example which I suspect won't make any sense to you, or perhaps it will:

I am typing a sentence. The cursor is at the end of the line. I want to select the line and cut it and paste it somewhere else.

My fingers are trained to: hold down the CONTROL key and press the KEYPAD HOME key simultaneously. The CTRL key puts the cursor movement into "select" mode. The HOME key moves the "selecting" cursor to the start of the line. The same as holding down the mouse and sweeping across the sentence.

I've been doing this for 20+ years. It is a shortcut, MUCH faster than any alternative key or mouse sequence for that action, and I do that and similar edits a lot.

By default when I do this "key chord" in Mint, it types a digit 7 even when numlock is off. IT SCREWS ME THE F&(& UP.

A naive techie would say "oh golly gee why does that matter? Do it a different way. I don't care about writing. Hah hah."

It's the typing equivalent to me of saying "ok, now you will try to run wearing slippers, across a pool of Crisco oil on a basketball court."

Tourette's until I figured out how to force Linux to do this the right way.  It honestly took me 3 hours to find how to make that work in Linux.

The writers of FOSS don't seem to take heavy commercial users seriously at the UI end. Features aren't stable, they aren't customized consistently in one place, and Linux only makes a deceptively superficial attempt to work like Windows.

It's small scale sloppiness, the micro version of why (for example) there will never be serious and usable financial software produced by FOSS heads.

"After all, you could have a front panel flipping switches" the geeks who have the power to make this right would say.
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