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Ark Linux Review, A Distro with an Identity Crisis 181

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the who-wants-a-stable-identity dept.
mikemuch writes "ExtremeTech has a review of Ark Linux 2006.1, which launched earlier this month. Overall, the reviewer likes this free KDE-based distro, but had to question some implementation choices, such as using the less-compatible Konqueror over Firefox for its default web browser. And for a distro that bills itself as 'a Linux distribution for everyone — designed to be easy to install and learn for users without prior Linux' the installation should hide command-line scrolling and be able to more automatically install standard graphics card drivers."
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Ark Linux Review, A Distro with an Identity Crisis

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  • Konqueror (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @12:41AM (#15953527)
    So, what exactly is wrong with Konqueror?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by johansalk (818687)
      Firefox is a proper browser. Konqueror on the other hand is a file manager, also a file viewer. It's such a good file viewer that you can view either local or remote files, and not only pictures and pdfs, but also html files, meaning you can also view graphic html files on remote servers, aka the web. As such, firefox is dedicated to being a browser where the web is a primary focus, whereas konqueror is more like a swiss army knife where the web is an included convenience.
      • Let's be accurate. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:54AM (#15953724)
        To be more accurate, KHTML is the actual rendering engine, while Konqueror encapsulates it and adds the other functionality (ie. tabs, configuration screens, etc.) necessary to create a full-fledged browser.

        A quick way to compare KHTML to Gecko (the rendering engine of Firefox) is to look at the source code for each. What one will immediately notice is that while both are written in C++, the code of KHTML is far cleaner than that of Gecko. Gecko suffers from an over-architecturing, which directly leads to code bloat and unnecessary complexity. KHTML, on the other hand, has been designed to be simple and clear, without an overly convoluted architecture.

        What we end up getting with KHTML is a rendering engine that is of a far higher quality than that of Gecko, mainly because the developers are so easily able to extend it. With the upcoming KDE 4 release, which will likely be portable to Windows and Mac OS X, the portability advantages of Gecko's architecture will be rendered obsolete.

        • by fbjon (692006)
          Holy smokes, a portable KDE? I must've missed a meeting, how does that work? Can I replace the windows shell with it? (explorer.exe)
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Has been available forever here [sourceforge.net].

            Developement on a native port is relatively new though, see here [sourceforge.net].
            • I tried kde-cygwin. It works, but it's hard to compile new packages, so you're stuck with what the project gives you. The version of cygwin also makes a difference -- I had to downgrade the cygwin dll in order to get KDE 3.4 to work.

              It's very impressive, but slow. I ended up running kde apps from a fixed-size X server window running the ion window manager.

              Real KDE for Win32 can't come fast enough!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Per Wigren (5315)
            a portable KDE? [...] Can I replace the windows shell with it? (explorer.exe)

            No. The KDE libraries are being ported so you can code/port KDE applications for Windows and MacOS X using features of KDE such as KParts, KIO (ssh://, audiocd://) and so on. More or less with just a recompile. That will give you a native app for that OS, not the whole environment.

            I'm sure someone will port things like Konqueror and Kicker though (KWin is very X11-specific), so maybe you'll be able to run the complete KDE desktop o
        • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:53AM (#15954238) Homepage
          A quick way to compare KHTML to Gecko (the rendering engine of Firefox) is to look at the source code for each. What one will immediately notice is that while both are written in C++, the code of KHTML is far cleaner than that of Gecko. Gecko suffers from an over-architecturing, which directly leads to code bloat and unnecessary complexity. KHTML, on the other hand, has been designed to be simple and clear, without an overly convoluted architecture.

          That's a little unfair. In fact I have read the source code to each and I wouldn't say one is far clearer than the other. Maybe that used to be the case but they've cleaned Gecko up a lot in the past few years. It's true that the Mozilla dialect of C++ is a little more obtuse than the Qt dialect, however, Mozilla is a hell of a lot more portable than KHTML is not only between operating systems but also between compilers, and that makes a big difference. Gecko also has a lot of features that KHTML does not have - for instance the combination of the fact that its objects are easily exposed to JavaScript and XUL is what makes the Firefox extensions culture so vibrant. Where are the extensions to Konqueror? There might be a few, I guess, but nothing like what you have with Firefox. It's hard to see how they could have made extensions so powerful without the platform parts like XPCOM which make the C++ harder to read.

          What we end up getting with KHTML is a rendering engine that is of a far higher quality than that of Gecko

          Meaningless assertion, not backed up by fact. I claim the opposite. Gecko is fast, very standards compliant and trivial to extend using reasonably well documented APIs and technologies. For instance look at XTF. It has support for a lot of new things like SVG, MathML, designMode and so on. KHTML might support these things, depending if you use the Apple fork ... or it might not.

          With the upcoming KDE 4 release, which will likely be portable to Windows and Mac OS X, the portability advantages of Gecko's architecture will be rendered obsolete.

          No, I rather think it won't. The portability of Geckos architecture already allowed it to make massive gains on Windows, the only platform that matters statistically. Where was KHTML in all of this? Now don't get me wrong, it's not a bad rendering engine at all, but to claim a Windows port of KHTML will make Gecko obsolete is rather naive. Maybe KDE 4 will rock my world but right now it's mostly a set of marketing web pages and fancy codenames for various abstractions over already quite abstract technologies (HAL, gstreamer etc).

          • "...but to claim a Windows port of KHTML will make Gecko obsolete is rather naive."

            That isn't at all what he said. He didn't say that the new KHTML will make Gecko obsolete. He said that the new KHTML's portability to Windows will make Gecko's portability advantage obsolete.
          • Konqueror is not only more secure than Firefox, it's faster, uses less memory and is more _standards compliant_ than Firefox.

            You mention all these things like MathML that Firefox supports or will support. Why are the developers focusing on parsing these things when they still can't pass ACID2? (I will remind that Safari and Konqueror, both based on KHTML, were the first browsers ever to pass ACID2)
        • To be fair, while Gecko may have a reputation for being less elegant than KHTML, it's also got a history of being more compatible with generic web content than KHTML. It's extremely difficult to write an elegant, compatible, web browser. The best you can hope for is to write something that's elegant and compatible with standards-compliant code, but 99% of webpages are not "standards-compliant" by a long shot.

      • You mean like Explorer. ;p
      • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @02:03AM (#15953753) Homepage Journal

        As such, firefox is dedicated to being a browser where the web is a primary focus, whereas konqueror is more like a swiss army knife where the web is an included convenience.

        So, what's the mysterious "less compatible" component? Every now and then I'll find some page that won't work. Once in a blue moon, a right click Firefox open will do better, so I keep it around. The problem is mostly with non free junk like Macromedia Flash and IE specific navigation.

        I use Konqueror as my primary browser because it's file handling is so excellent. The web looks like an extension of my computer and I like it that way. It renders standard compatible web pages without a problem and it's split tab capability (think the old Windoze 3.1 file manager) makes it an excellent research tool. Integration of tools like kpdf and kget make a seemless browsing experience that is top notch. Next to that, Firefox feels cramped.

        But, hey, I could be missing something. What is it?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by misleb (129952)

          But, hey, I could be missing something. What is it?

          Extensions.

          I'm currently running 6 of them in Firefox. 7 if you count the Filterset.G updater (for Adblock Plus)

          1) Adblock Plus. Hardly ever see ads.
          2) Tidy HTML validator. Validates and "tidys" up any HTML without having to query an external server. Works on sites that require a session or authentication or just aren't public yet.
          3) Remove It Permanently. Just right click and remove any part of a page you don't like. The ad div at the top of Slashdot? Go

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by iced_773 (857608)
          But, hey, I could be missing something. What is it?


          Accessibility. Because of my visual disability, I have to have light text on a dark background, meaning I need to override the specified colors on many web pages, which Konqueror doesn't let you do. Firefox does. Even IE does.

          But, hey, I could be missing something. Where in Konqueror can I do this?
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        I'm happy to see a Linux browsexplorer carrying on Internet Explorer's heritage that was unfortunately abandoned in Windows Vista. :-)
      • by vdboor (827057) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @03:24AM (#15953948) Homepage
        Konqueror on the other hand is a file manager, also a file viewer. It's such a good file viewer that you can view either local or remote files, and not only pictures and pdfs, but also html files, meaning you can also view graphic html files on remote servers, aka the web. As such, firefox is dedicated to being a browser where the web is a primary focus, whereas konqueror is more like a swiss army knife where the web is an included convenience.

        This myth should actually be seen as a compliment to KDE. Why? The components you mention all come from the standard KDE libraries, or they are supplied by additionally installed applications. Konqueror is just a shell, host for all of them. Just like ActiveX/OLE integrates applications seamlessly together in Windows.

        Konqueror can host a KHTMLPart, KatePart (text editor), file-viewer part, image-viewer part. They can all be developed by separate appliations. Install a PDF viewer, and Konqueror can load it's PDFPart too. The networking support you mention come from the standard KDE-IO libraries, they haven't been klunged into Konqueror at all (every KDE application has KDE-IO and KPart support!).

        Saying that this would remove developer resources from KHTML isn't really true. Developers working on a PDFPart likely wouldn't have ended up coding for KHTML anyways.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bhalo05 (865352)
        When you use KDE as a desktop, no, Firefox is far from a proper browser. And the fact that Konqueror is a shell to many things has nothing to do with the quality of KHTML rendering anyway. The point is using Firefox on KDE throws by the window all the feeling you have that you're using an integrated, coherent desktop.

        I think Firefox should be installed though as a second browser for those sites that do not render properly on Konqueror... just as many users used to fire up IE whenever Firefox didn't get it r
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Heck if I know, I can't say that I use Konqueror all the time, but I don't use Firefox all the time either. Konqueror seems to be quite a capable browser to me. (esp. since I do not have Flash plugin for it).
    • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:02AM (#15953594)
      Konqueror shares libraries with other KDE applications so is likely to have a smaller memory footprint than Firefox.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WJMoore (830419)
        Yes they would also be the same libraries that Apple forked for WebKit, which is used by Safari. I don't think you can say that Konqueror is not a capable browser. Its much lighter than Firefox and has much better desktop integration, such as with the system wide KDE wallet and inline spell checking.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by RuBLed (995686)
        You see.. Microsoft was ahead in this "sharing libraries" game. IE was the ultimate example :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by undeaf (974710)
      It does a horrible job of overriding webpage colors, unlike other browsers, it does not give the option of assigning a certain color to visited links, and a different color to unvisited links. For me that makes it unusable as a primary browser.
    • by miyako (632510)
      I use KDE as my window manager almost exclusively (sometimes I use WindowMaker when I feel like something a bit more light weight). Since Konqueror is so tightly integrated with KDE, I really have tried to like it as a web browser, but there are a few things that keep me comming back to firefox. The first thing is the extensions. There are a lot of extensions that are neat, but there are some that have become absolutely nessesary for me, such as aspellfox, flashblock, adblock, and the web developer exten
      • by Kadin2048 (468275)
        Although in the end, which browser you want to use is a personal choice, I think spellchecking is superior in Konqueror than in Firefox.

        In Konqueror (recent versions, KDE 3.5+ I think), you can have it automatically underline misspelled words, while in Firefox you have to manually run the spellchecker and use it through a modal window. I'm sorry, 1996 called, and they want their spellchecking interface back. There's no reason why you should have to do anything except right-click for alternative spellings; f
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by VENONA (902751)
      I find it (3.5.4) excellent. It's my default browser, and I have few compatability issues, though YMWV. And of course Firefox is on the system if I do have a problem. I like the cookie control, including being warned about cross-domain cookies. I like being able to move the tabs, or save them into a bookmark folder. It launches much faster than Firefox, though that's less important to me than it might be to others, as it's nearly always running. Being able to enter 'man:whatever' in the location window is s
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ajs318 (655362)
      Nothing - provided you are using the latest version. It's fast, it looks good, it supports CSS (even passing ACID2), it has tabs, it accepts Mozilla-style extensions. In fact, it does everything Opera does -- but, unlike Opera, you get the source code.

      Konqueror 2.X was a poor imitation of Internet Explorer (without the vulnerabilities). But things have moved on a lot since those days ..... except IE .....
      • by JCholewa (34629)
        > Nothing - provided you are using the latest version. It's fast, it looks good, it supports CSS (even passing
        > ACID2), it has tabs, it accepts Mozilla-style extensions. In fact, it does everything Opera does -- but,
        > unlike Opera, you get the source code.

        There is a ton of stuff that Opera does that Konq doesn't. Here's what keeps me coming back to Opera:
        * opening previously closed tabs -- Konq only has a tool for opening crashed pages, and that doesn't always work
        * saving individual sessions
        * put
  • pull any useful amount of information from this webpages? I started to read, but things were all about the place, started looking for a printer friendly page, and just gave up on the entire article. Geez.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:02AM (#15953598)
    Anything that is "xxx for everyone" is going to fail. You can't please everyone. If you do you end up with something that has no niche value.

    If you're going to build a distro, or any product for that matter, think long and carefully who you really want to target.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is why I like Ubuntu. They only claim to be "linux for human beings".
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Anything that is "xxx for everyone" is going to fail. You can't please everyone. If you do you end up with something that has no niche value.

      I don't know, I think Microsoft has a pretty good track record targetting the lowest common denominator. But like with other products, there's only room for a very few, very big players operating on huge volume and razor-thin margins that aim for "everybody". Most companies find that they just can't do that and find themselves a niche. But there being 100 niche compani
  • by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin.wickNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:06AM (#15953606)
    'a Linux distribution for everyone -- designed to be easy to install and learn for users without prior Linux'

    Seriously, isn't this what Ubuntu (or Kubunto, for those who prefer KDE) is supposed to be? Or Red Hat? Or did I miss something?

    Am I the only one who finds this article [bbspot.com] insightful, rather than funny?
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I do not think RedHat/Fedora ever claimed that.
  • So which is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 1053r (903458) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:07AM (#15953613)
    He says that he is dissapointed in Konqueror as the default browser (which by the way I haven't had any problem with, ever, but I still use opera) but in the summary [extremetech.com] he says this:

    Price: Free download.
    Pros: Easy to install; KDE desktop; good software selection.
    Cons: Uses Firefox as the default browser; feels like it needs a little fine tuning to make it as slick as Xandros; didn't automatically install the right drivers for my nvidia card.
    Summary: A decent Linux distro that provides a fair amount of useful software, Ark Linux lags behind Ubuntu and Xandros in polish. It seems to be trying to find its place under the sun.

    (emphasis added)
    This article wasn't too particularly useful, and even contradicted itself! Well, maybe next time.
    • Re:So which is it? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @02:03AM (#15953752) Journal
      So which is it?

      It's Konqueror. The Ark Linux devs give their reasons in one of the forums:

      We think that Konqueror is a much better browser. Konqueror follows the standards (in particular CSS) more closely than any other browser, it integrates better with the rest of the system, it doesn't drag in hundreds of libraries nothing else needs, and its user interface is better, because it doesn't make weird decisions like using the wrong button order. (We think the weird "Do you want to do this? [No] [Yes]" button order used by Firefox and a couple of other projects is plain wrong, because it contradicts normal language use -- what's the last time someone asked you in plain English "Do you want to xyz? No or yes?"?

      If you absolutely need it, you can simply apt-get install firefox though.

      http://forum.arklinux.org/viewtopic.php?t=65&highl ight=firefox [arklinux.org]
      • That's actually one of the reasons that I tend to use Konqueror when I'm booted into Linux (I've got XP-SP1 and Kubuntu on the machine I'm typing from), it just screws me up so much when Firefox gives the No/Yes thing. I mean, what's that about? The Windows version of Firefox does things conventionally, why does the Linux version have to be so counter-intuitive?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by miro f (944325)
          That's the way it's done in GNOME (if you follow the HIG properly). I imagine this is because Firefox on linux was more aimed at GNOME users, rather than KDE. So this is in fact acting consistantly, if you happen to be using GNOME
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JCholewa (34629)
          There are ways to change the Firefox No/Yes button thing. One way is here [kde.org], and I think there's a way to do it in about:config
    • by VENONA (902751)
      Other problems with the review. I couldn't care less about his opinion on whether scrolling text is too user-unfriendly and should be hidden. But he had problems with installing additional software, and that bit ended with, "Not sure what happened there, but at least I was able to get my additional software installed."

      Did he look at the logs, look and find no information, or ???

      YAN desktop image doesn't tell anyone anything, considering that you can make a KDE desktop look like pretty much anything, and a l
      • by creepynut (933825)
        I got the feeling that he's pretty much a pure GUI user, and just doesn't know or care an awful lot about what goes on behind the scenes.

        He doesn't care, and neither should the users.

        I don't care how the inside of the car works, how the inside of the computer works, as long as it performs its task. Now, don't get me wrong, it's beneficial to know, but it doesn't mean he should need to know, or even care.

        • by Fred_A (10934)
          Very true. The casual computer user shouldn't have to know or care how the machine works. A good distribution should be able to hide the gears from people who don't want to see them while still letting others access them easily. Mandrake (presumably Mandriva too) and Ubuntu do this well.
          However I don't know if Ark is geared towards casual users or Unix people.

          OTOH, even the Unix people get tired of tinkering after a while and like their machines to "just work" (while still having access to the Unix tools).
  • Tetris! (Score:4, Funny)

    by calculadoru (760076) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (urodaluclac)> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:22AM (#15953647)
    Oh come on, before you start bashing them - look, they have a nice Tetris game for you to play while it installs!
    That's got to be worth something, no?
    • Oh come on, before you start bashing them - look, they have a nice Tetris game for you to play while it installs! That's got to be worth something, no?

      Maybe but when you install (k)ubuntu, you can read Slashdot at the same time :)

  • Konqueror (Score:5, Informative)

    by AaronW (33736) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:32AM (#15953668) Homepage
    I have been using Konqueror a lot. I got fed up with Firefox when after 24 hours of browsing it was consuming 800MB of RAM, even though the cache size was set at 32MB. I have found that Konqueror is often faster, uses a lot less memory, and is generally more stable. There are a few sites where I have had trouble, but I've also had problems with some sites with Firefox (and a few of those worked with Konqueror). Konqueror has gotten a lot better, especially 3.5. A number of additional fixes went into 3.5.4. My only real complaint is that the adblock feature needs a lot of work to catch up with the Firefox extension.

    The file dialog for Konqueror, when I download and save binaries, is infinitely better than the one in Firefox. The UI on Konqueror is also much easier to customize, adding or removing buttons at will. Some of the buttons I find quite useful, like scaling the web page larger or smaller. I also like the fact that plug-ins run as a separate process than the browser and I can run them niced. It also means I can run a 64-bit browser and integrate 32-bit plugins.

    I also like the bookmark toolbar better in Konqueror. I can easily add folders or book marks to any folder I want with only a couple clicks.

    As a file browser, Konqueror is actually quite nice. It's not the big bloated mess people make it out to be. In fact, if anything is a big bloated mess, it's Firefox. Konqueror uses kparts, so that if, for example, I open a .c file in it, it loads the shared libraries for the editor, or if I click on a multimedia file, it loads kaffeine. Just about everything in KDE is a part, so they can be reused. PDFs are also great in Konqueror when it uses kpdf instead of that bloated Acrobat mess.

    Hell, I can't even open more than one instance of Firefox, even on different machines if my home directory is shared over a network. Konqueror has no such problems.

    The Konqueror browser I'm typing this from has 18 open tabs and has been open for probably about a week or two. It's consuming 475MB of virtual memory and 116MB of resident memory, but I have had a *lot* more tabs open in the past. I can rarely keep Firefox going for more than 24 hours or so, and it gobbles up memory at an astronomical rate (even 1.5.0.6).

    As far as rendering web sites goes, I believe Firefox had problems with Slashdot for the longest time, while Konqueror did not.
    • by AaronW (33736)
      What I meant to say about Konqueror not being bloated then listing all these things is that for web browsing it only loads the KHTML component, whereas for a text file it loads the editor component. Each component itself is generally not that big. I think the memory footprint of KHTML is a lot smaller than Gecko, hence it being popular for use in embedded devices.

      Konqueror looks like a swiss army knife, but it's really just a container for various parts, and new parts can be added to it without having to
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JackieBrown (987087)
      "My only real complaint is that the adblock feature needs a lot of work to catch up with the Firefox extension." You will probably like this http://www.kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=3 8915 [kde-apps.org]
    • by c (8461)

      I can easily add folders or book marks to any folder I want with only a couple clicks.

      There's actually a Firefox extension providing this same functionality

      But overall, I agree 100%. Konqueror's been my primary browser for a good four years or so. I switched to Firefox for a few months, and while there were things it did better (faster rendering, some nice extensions), I switched back within a few months.

      The only Firefox functionality which I found useful at the time was adblock, and between squid/adza

  • apt-get firefox (Score:3, Informative)

    by x3nos (773066) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @01:36AM (#15953678)

    Overall, the reviewer likes this free KDE-based distro, but had to question some implementation choices, such as using the less-compatible Konqueror over Firefox for its default web browser.

    Simple:

    apt-get firefox
    enter

    From the Ark Linux website: Ark Linux uses a combination of rpm and apt-get.
    That wasn't so hard was it?

  • The article (and most posts) have been focusing on things that aren't particularly relevant. Why Konqueror ? Why not Firefox? Who cares? You can install Firefox with a single line in the konsole.

    What else is bad... the installation should hide command-line scrolling and be able to more automatically install standard graphics card drivers.

    Why hide the command-line? Does it "put off" users? Will it provoque an epileptic reaction in newbie? ... Again a totally useless comment in itself.

    As for installing the

  • Oh come on. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quag7 (462196) <deepspace@dataswamp.net> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:55AM (#15954246) Homepage
    Hiding scrolling text is ALWAYS evil. I don't care what Windows users are ALLEGEDLY used to and prefer. Anyone who would prefer less information than more information - especially given the possibility that something can go wrong - is not someone I want making decisions about how Linux distros work.

    I've never used Ark Linux before, but the idea that somehow by castrating Linux and making it look and feel like Windows it will somehow compete with or replace Windows strikes me as highly unlikely.

    Apple - which, depending on what numbers you buy into, has even a greater market share than Linux, though has barely put up any kind of substantial fight against Microsoft in terms of the number of people using it - and where the Mac *has* succeeded is in the ways it is different from Windows. I wonder how many Mac users would applaud a choice by Apple to change something in the Mac OS so as "not to scare off Windows users." Answer: almost none. Or perhaps, none. Frankly, and I'm not even a Mac user, a Mac user who took that attitude would disappoint me as someone who is at least amused by OS partisanship.

    If you are going to use Linux, or FreeBSD, be ready to use a command line. Some people can get by without it because they don't do much, or have incredible luck and every upgrade works perfectly and nothing ever breaks, but frankly, the population that is served by hiding the command line is miniscule compared to those of us who appreciate - and in fact use Linux or a BSD *because* of that command line.

    I'm really getting tired of this idea of making "Linux ready for the desktop" in the sense of making it flashy and "slick" like Windows. I've got no objection to making Linux look nice and function logically in terms of its GUI, but not at the expense of dumbing it down and hiding its strengths, which a lot of people want to do.

    I want VERBOSE error and status messages, and as much access to the console and logs as possible. Transparency all the way down. I want this in Windows too since I'm forced to use it for work but I'm not going to get it.

    The command line is what makes UNIX-like OSes what they are - to me, anyway.

    I'm sick of people trying to make it Windows, or make it like Windows, or look like Windows.

    I'm not particularly interested in sacrificing functionality so people who are afraid or unwilling to learn command line basics.

    As for the default browser, for god's sake, can we stop pretending that it MATTERS WHAT IS INSTALLED BY DEFAULT. Can we stop pretending that the main concern about Linux is what COMPLETE COMPUTER ILLITERATES will make of it? Sheesh. INSTALL AN ALTERNATE BROWSWER IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE DEFAULT CHOICE LIKE SO MANY WINDOWS USERS DO WHEN THEY DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL FIREFOX.

    Guess what? In Linux you can install what you want, change the wallpaper, and change your menus and shortcuts around. Shocker!

    Macs aren't (and rightfully so) measured against Windows in terms of similarity to Windows's philosophy of design (and look and feel) and neither should Linux. By which I mean, they're not measured against it as if not being like Windows is a deficit.

    The idea is to present a significant alternative to Windows which is better (verbosity of the OS is definitely a plus - how many people like the way a Windows fresh install tries to hide system folders, file extensions, and resort to other such dicketry? Not me and frankly not anyone I know, including those who have a fraction of interest in computers than I do). How many people applaud having a completely withered, pathetic command line in Windows? Not me. How many people think having everything so GUI-centric in Windows has improved peoples computing skills, overall productivity, and so forth? I'm not bashing GUIs and wizards; I'm just saying that the command line should be a transparent, well-documented alternative so if the average user wants to automate simple tasks (like rotating wallpaper hourly or something), it's clear and obvious how to do that.
    • I totally, and completely agree.

      And I probably couldn't have said it better either.
    • I'm not particularly interested in sacrificing functionality so people who are afraid or unwilling to learn command line basics.

      I agree with many of the points you made, but the above sentence strikes me as a little wrong headed. Why would you have to sacrifice functionality by providing a non-CLI interface? Ideally the interface is somewhat abstracted and programs should be fully accessible from both the CLI and the GUI. I think it is important to remember that adding a GUI does not remove any functiona

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by crystalattice (179900)
      I agree with this. I noticed that SUSE 10.1 hides the install process too. All it shows is a little spinning circle or splash pages that tell you nothing. Maybe some people don't want/need to see what all is going on behind the scenes, but at least let me know progress is being made and the system hasn't locked up.

      My favorite distro that I've tried is Gentoo. Sure, it's a pain in the butt and I wouldn't recommend it for most Windows-converts, but I learned so much about how Linux works and how everythin
    • If you are going to use Linux, or FreeBSD, be ready to use a command line. Some people can get by without it because they don't do much, or have incredible luck and every upgrade works perfectly and nothing ever breaks,...

      Maybe it is aimed at people that indeed don't do much or, more accurately, don't use many different tools. Lots of people only use their mailer, text processing and browser.

      ...but frankly, the population that is served by hiding the command line is miniscule compared to those of us who

      • by quag7 (462196)
        And yet at some point, something *will* go wrong, just, perhaps, not as often. I hear stories about Linux geeks who get, say, their moms to convert to using some kind of Linux because they can support it remotely. Though I'm sure there are people who use Linux like this independently, I don't encounter many of them. Most Linux installs have a Linux fan to maintain them, whether that is the user or the "computer genius son."

        And I really can't wrap my head around why the irrational fear of scrolling text i
  • Is Java installed by default? Because installing Java for Linux [java.com] is a massive pain the ass. I can see all the power users now, downloading their favorite distro, installing, deciding to get Firefox - then they wanna do a speed test at DSLReports. Uh oh, need Java - screw it, I'm going back to Windows.

    (Unless I'm doing something wrong myself, in which case I am most certain that I will be corrected.)
    • by argent (18001)
      Blame Sun. If they didn't require you to download Java from them every Linux distro would have it nicely packaged by default and it'd just work.

      IMHO, if Sun's going to require people download and install Java by hand, Sun needs to have a team dedicated to nothing but making that process as easy as possible for EVERY platform. If they're not, they need to let third parties do it for them. If neither, then I say *don't* install Java and complain to every website *using* Java about their lack of civic responsi
      • by MrNougat (927651)
        Why is it, then, that every HP or Dell computer (and probably others) comes with Java preinstalled with Windows?

        I agree that Sun needs to be a little more open with the use of their free as in beer Java browser plugin. But if it can be done for Windows machines coming out of computer manufacturers, why not in a Linux distro?
        • by argent (18001)
          Why is it, then, that every HP or Dell computer (and probably others) comes with Java preinstalled with Windows?

          Microsoft and/or HP or Dell has paid Sun the necessary license fees to redistribute it for general use. The free Java is only available direct from Sun or as part of a Java-based software package.
    • Correction ;) (Score:3, Informative)

      by cortana (588495)
      Sun have finally seen the light, and have created packages that allow distributors to include Java in their operating systems: https://jdk-distros.dev.java.net/ [java.net].

      After a few back-and-forths with Sun's legal department, even Debian have packaged it for their non-free section: http://packages.debian.org/src:sun-java5 [debian.org]. Users can simply install the sun-java5-plugin package. In a few days time, the packages will be eligible [bjorn.haxx.se] for inclusion in the forthcoming Debian 4.0 ("etch") release.
  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @08:04AM (#15954519) Homepage Journal
    It's not that Gecko is insecure, it's that the way Firefox extensions install and run mirrors (albeit at the application rather than the rendering engine level) the ghastly security hole that is ActiveX.

    There must not be a mechanism in a web browser (or any other application that displays untrusted content) for a document to request privileges above and beyond those that are actually required for displaying untrusted content. Rather, the user must request privileges by installing a plugin or extension outside the encapsulated user interface.
    • by Jerf (17166)

      There must not be a mechanism in a web browser (or any other application that displays untrusted content) for a document to request privileges above and beyond those that are actually required for displaying untrusted content. Rather, the user must request privileges by installing a plugin or extension outside the encapsulated user interface.

      That's already how it works. "A document" can't ask for extended privs. Show me the HTML snippet that invokes "extended privileges" in a standard Firefox. There actuall

      • by argent (18001)
        Instead, you have to explicitly download and install an extension,

        Last time I wanted to do that I had to install an extension to let me install an extension from a downloaded XPI file on my local disk rather than installing it directly from a web page through an "install" link.

        It was a few days after that I switched to KHTML-based browsers, though I've been using Camino a bunch lately... the problem isn't inherent in Gecko, the way Microsoft's ActiveX flaw is inherent in their HTML control... it's just that
  • by GnuAge (528559) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @09:59AM (#15955039)
    Arklinux automatically sets up a user called arklinux who has no password and essentially root privileges. You'd think that might be worthy of a comment. The system automatically boots to this arklinux user. I thought I was using Windows. You can give arklinux a password so no one uses the account and set up a new regular account with a password, but that wouldn't necessarily occur to a newbie.

    There does not appear to be a GUI tool to configure file sharing. Even Konqueror won't do it. If you right click on a folder and try to create a share and it stalls out after excreting a dialogue box. I think even KateOS is more polished (I've never actually used KateOS, but it is from Poland, hence the reference).

    Oh, and the reviewer is lucky he used the System Install rather than going down the Expert path. The version of qtparted they used seems to be broken. See the Arklinux forum [arklinux.org].

    Trying to start Celestia and Stellarium (and Dog only knows what else) causes X to buckle.

    Another problem with smaller distros is that there isn't much of a community to help you if you are having problems. For instance there are fewer than 200 posts on the Arklinux forum spread over two languages. On the other paw, if I'm having problems with Yetis I can go over to the Bigfootforums [bigfootforums.com] where there are roughly 230,000 posters who can help me out. The Ark developers respond on the forums when they can, but really, they need to spend their time being developers. One of the things I look for in a distro is a well-developed, friendly community, not so big that you get lost in the shuffle (e.g. Ubuntu) but large enough so there will be someone who can help you. Maybe Mepis or Slackware sized groups, perhaps 25-75 posts per day.

    On the plus side, Arklinux does have a very snappy and responsive "feel" to it, and I rather liked some of the customizations the developers chose. Maybe part of that is due to its cutting edge nature, particularly GCC 4.1, KDE 3.54 & X.Org 7.1 (which also accounts for some of the instability and video card problems).

    It seems like if you put all the developers together from some of the smaller but very promising distros, say, Frugalware, Arklinux, Ultima, and Vectorlinux Soho, for Slackware-derived up-to-date KDE-centric Linices, you could come up with a really kickass operating system. But I am not sure developer time is necessarily additive, absent a pay-check because of issues of geographic proximity and human egos.
    • by Bero (93841)
      Arklinux automatically sets up a user called arklinux who has no password and essentially root privileges.

      The user does not have any "dangerous" privileges - please see the description on how the security system works [arklinux.org].
      While it diverges quite a bit from traditional Unix, this is part of what makes Ark easier on the average user than most of its competition (except for the "autologin as root" ones, which are actually scary).

      Oh, and the reviewer is lucky he used the System Install rather than going down the Ex
  • by Bero (93841) <bero@@@arklinux...org> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:38PM (#15958125) Homepage
    Here's a reply we've sent to the reviewer -- mostly it's asking for more information, but it also makes clear why we think some of the biggest "flaws" are actually features. ;)

    Hi,
    thanks for reviewing Ark Linux!
    We've read your review and found it very constructive - we're already working
    on some improvements (the current snapshot
    [http://arklinux.osuosl.org/dockyard-devel/iso/ark linux.iso] already does
    away with most of the text mode stuff on installer startup).

    There's also some things that aren't entirely accurate, and some things we
    need more information on in order to fix them:

    The installer offers 4 (not just 2) options, depending on the configuration of
    your system -- the ones you omitted are Express Install (uses up all
    unpartitioned space, leaves the rest alone -- this option is grayed out
    unless you actually have a big enough fragment of unpartitioned space) and
    Parallel Install (shrinks a FAT partition and then uses the unpartitioned
    space) -- this option is grayed out unless you have a big enough FAT
    partition).

    We were a bit puzzled about the graphics card not being detected correctly;
    Are you sure it wasn't detected correctly as opposed to it simply not having
    the right Mode entries in xorg.conf? This is addressed in the FAQ section on
    our website: http://www.arklinux.org/index.php?page_id=149&lang uage=en [arklinux.org]

    If it really didn't detect your graphics card, please send me the output
    of "lspci -vn" so we can figure out what went wrong there.

    The browser choice is a matter of opinion -- you're free to disagree with our
    choice, but here's the top reasons why we made it and why we stand by it:
    • Konqueror is much more than just a browser -- it can open anything
      registered with KDE, making it very easy to make it handle additional stuff:
      For example, if you click on an rpm file in Ark's Konqueror (no matter
      whether it's on the local filesystem or on a website), you get a graphical
      tool that will let you install the file. There's no easy way to get
      comparable functionality with any other browser.
      Similarily, we can just embed kmplayer into Konqueror to play any video, in
      the current version, even including WMV9. There are Firefox plugins for
      videos, but they're always lagging behind mplayer.
    • Konqueror integrates better with the rest of the system.
    • Konqueror's user interface is better - it generally does what people expect
      it to do, and it doesn't use the wrong button order that causes lots of
      people to click on the choice they didn't want to make (of course that bit
      could be fixed in Firefox)
    • Konqueror is much smaller, and is what allows us to keep the basic
      installation to 1 CD -- Firefox with all the libraries it depends on (even
      excluding the ones we include in a default install) would need about 20 MB of
      additional space on the CD.
    • Konqueror's rendering engine is better for standards compliant websites --
      Konqueror even passes the Acid II test, which Firefox fails pretty badly. The
      sole reason why there are sites that show ok in Firefox but not in Konqueror
      is that Firefox has a bigger user base, therefore web designers adjust their
      pages to its bugs. This is a bit of a chicken and egg problem -- Konqueror
      isn't getting accepted widely because there are some (though rather few)
      sites it doesn't render correctly, and webmasters don't bother fixing it
      because "nobody uses Konqueror anyway". We've decided to make our (small)
      contribution to start getting rid of the problem.
    • Konqueror makes progress much faster. If you look back a couple of years,
      you'll remember Konqueror as a bogus browser that can render only the most
      basic websites correctly, while the Firefox predecessor of the time was a
      pretty decent browser and Firefox has remained that. Konqueror has managed to c
  • by sootman (158191)
    A dozen +5 comments and every single one is about browsers. Anyone have anything to say about the distro?

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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