Makes perfect sense, the xpad driver is for Xbox controllers... The Xbox and Xbox 360 (as well as PS3 and probably next-gen) controllers already interface via USB so they make great PC controllers as well.
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I've got a fileserver/TVPC I built with the A8-3870K Llano chip. It's now only like $90 (with $50 mid-range motherboard or $100 top-notch motherboard) and it seems to work very well with the latest fglrx releases. Meanwhile, I have a dual-graphics AMD A10-4600M (Trinity) laptop with discrete RadeonHD 7730M and it runs like crap in comparison. The drivers just aren't there for dual-graphics, but even the on-board chip can't hold its own compared to my Llano. I've got TF2 going at 50-60fps on the Llano with a mild overclock on both the CPU and GPU (3870K has unlocked GPU). I'd definitely go with an APU if you want a cheap system that can hold its own in Linux 3D performance. Incredibly low power as well, have 3 1.5TB's in RAID5 and a 160GB laptop HDD as my OS drive, the Llano chip, and an ASUS high-end motherboard and my UPS shows maybe 60-75 watts during normal/idle operation, it only goes up significantly for gaming and such, great for a server that is on 24/7.
The big issue here is that AdBlockPlus works for Slashdot, not so much for these intrusive operating system ads. As a whole, Unity is garbage, and Canonical is a greedy monster of corruption evolved from a nice, community supporting company who took a trip to the loony bin sometime in 2010 and hasn't come back.
Pay? Screw that crap! I started using Ubuntu because it worked, it was free, and it supported the ideals of open-source, community-driven development. The original design of Ubuntu's philosophy was user-focused, that "Ubuntu will *ALWAYS* be free", etc. I don't really give a crap how much they provide/do/support/whatever, when you screw over your users after promising something you can't achieve, it's your face in the mud and everyone else moves on to the next distro. I'm not letting those freaks get away with screwing over their userbase and will be moving to Mint unless there are extreme circumstances (and the ability to remove the ads before they are allowed to display).
Ubuntu had an incredible set of ideals focused on doing good for the community, providing a "human friendly" open-source focused distro, and being a great asset to open source. This was in ~2006 when I started using 6.06, I really thought Canonical was doing a great job, what with providing free CD's, providing an entirely open distro, focusing on open software, keeping commercialization low....now they've corrupted into a commercial monstrosity who panders for the profits, and it shows bad. They've gone a complete 180 degree flip from open-source, community focused distro to screw-you-community, ad-spamming, over-commercialized madness in vain to try and force their profits on their users. Well? Screw you, Ubuntu, the users will move to the next open, community-focused distro like Mint while you rot in the dust.
When your core users are technical, open-source, FOSS-minded individuals, you can bet that dumping ads on them will hurt more than it will help. Either it'll be the first thing I uninstall, or if that isn't a possibility I'll ditch your crappy distro for Mint. That's how the open-source world works, if you screw up big time because you become greedy, someone will take your work and continue it with an open mindset. In this case, that someone is the Linux Mint team, and I lean ever closer to switching, especially now with their Cinnamon desktop, it blows Unity out of the water.
Ubuntu's core was providing a solid Debian-based desktop that integrated easy-to-use features for home/personal use. They focused too hard on expanding into non-existant markets (netbook/phone/Ubuntu Android/music store/software store/etc) and now they just look like a street beggar holding their hand out for the users to feed them with ad revenue. Nope, I'm fine, thank you very much, hope you die a painful, agonizing death as all your users realize your corruption and ditch you for a better distro. Goodbye, Ubuntu!
Ubuntu? Mint? Mint Debian Edition? Squeeze is (maybe was, not sure if released yet) the testing branch and of course it's going to change. I installed it to get GNOME 2 back after Ubuntu ditched it but it took only weeks for packages to start trickling in and eventually it was GNOME Shell. Eww. I moved back to Ubuntu and still prefer it better (using GNOME 3 Classic now). If all you need is for family/general purpose machines Ubuntu is great (I use it for programming/power user stuff, just because it's a new user friendly distro doesn't mean you can't customize the crap out of it to be a power distro). The regular 6-month upgrade cycles are good if you want to avoid potentially damaging updates (the upgrades aren't rolling, they are tested, final release upgrades rather than the rolling release of Debian Testing where you end up with half of GNOME 3 and half of GNOME 2 for a few months).
Ubuntu (and other Ubuntu-based distros) has probably the largest repository system as well, with restricted, non-restricted, officially managed, community managed, and user-maintained (PPA) archives available. The PPA system is another thing that sets it apart from Debian, despite many PPA's working fine in Debian it is not a guarantee, while they almost always work on Ubuntu.
Personally I don't see the point of a 10GB version of Notepad that costs $500+ per seat. Yeah, VS has a nice GUI editor for supported languages, and it tracks through code pretty well, but it has a ton of features I'll never use even at work (which I do use VS2008 at work and barely even skim the surface of what it has to offer). For my personal projects, I've taken a liking to Code::Blocks, it's a lightweight C/C++ IDE that has all the build configuration management stuff I wanted for cross-platform work and not much else besides code highlighting and project organization. I like that, as it means less bloat and lag, more writing code and running it. I haven't tried debugging, I think it has debugging as well, but it's not a feature I use often in my personal projects (use it at work, but VS isn't the only IDE with a debugger).
I'd never write a Windows Forms based GUI for my personal stuff anyways, as I like to stay cross-platform, so that feature set is worthless to me. I also don't like VB/C# much and prefer C/C++. Therefore VS is mostly a waste. If you're a C#/VB/MS Database programmer, you probably do it as a career, and thus you're dependent on what your company uses anyways.
Additionally, you mention "Linux API" - there in lies a problem...there is no one-and-only Linux API like there is for Windows/Mac. There is KDE, there is GTK/Gnome, there is QT (which KDE uses a lot of), there is SDL, there is OpenGL, etc. The core "Linux API" is basically UNIX compliant, but the majority of the desktop features come from various desktop projects and libraries that aren't part of the Linux core. Windows and Mac are both fully integrated OS'es, with one API from bottom to top (Mac has a bit of Unix, Windows a bit of DOS, but still). Linux doesn't, Linux has a Unix-like core, some system management stuff (not consistent between distros), some desktop stuff (again, many different ones exist), several toolkit/widget libraries, several audio/graphics libraries, and a bunch of other mixed libraries. Being an open and diverse platform, you just can't have the unified integration that you get from Windows/Mac. Instead, one of the nice things about Linux coding is having a ton of different API's to choose from (you can see it as a good or bad thing, personally I think it's a great thing, but if you're used to one-size-fits-all packages from Windows/Mac then you might think otherwise).
In short, you can't ever get the unified integration or single API set integration that you get out of Windows or Mac because Linux is much more diverse and is not all under one roof like the other platforms are. I think this is the main benefit of Linux, but programmers used to the integration these OS'es provide may find Linux's system messy.
(1) is just stupid in the fullest extent. Microsoft will never port VS to Linux, and VS running under WINE still cranks out Windows code, so you'll need an emulation/simulation/compatibility layer such as WINE or Mono no matter what. Considering one of the huge draws to VS is the form builder, which is entirely based around Windows Forms, it just doesn't work for Linux.
That said, a nice, native code IDE that supports multiple languages commonly used for Linux development (C, C++, Java, Python, and maybe C#/VB/other MS languages with Mono) with proper GUI builder for GTK (and its C++/Python/Java/whatever ports) and QT windows would be epic. Being able to build GTK applications with a proper GUI builder would be nice, as Glade (and the XML loading system) sucks compared to a proper GUI builder that writes real code. I've been using GTKmm for several personal projects and overall I love it, but you basically have to draw your layouts on paper, determine hierarchy, and then code them up manually.
Support for commonly used libraries would also be nice (OpenGL, SDL, OpenAL, OpenCV, etc. etc. etc).
That said, a lot of Linux developers still seem to be using vim/emacs and haven't even switched to non-GUI-builder IDE's (though with customization those apps can do a lot). It would certainly help the VS users migrate, but I don't know how many existing devs actually care about getting a better IDE for the platform. I started using Code::Blocks only because it allowed me to have Windows and Linux build configurations that were easy to switch between when testing my app on the different OS'es.
The "Gnome Classic" fallback mode is my main desktop on Ubuntu now, I switched from Cinnamon due to wanting the ability to turn compositing on and off. On a compositing window manager (GNOME Shell/Unity/Cinnamon/Compiz) you sacrifice a good bit of graphics horsepower, and whenever I want to play a game, that stuff needs to shut off to give me maximum performance. GNOME Classic + Fusion Icon gives the same functionality as MATE without the bugs that arise from using the outdated GTK2 toolkit (MATE+GTK3 would be ideal). I hate the stupid alt-windows-click thing you have to do to change the panels, it's a stupid key combination where simply right click would suffice. Also, I hate having the workspaces in a 2x2 grid, 1x4 is better as you can scrollwheel through them with Compiz and have the cube. The new Nautilus sucks, so whenever Nemo is ready I'll definitely be switching to it.
I don't know how many Slashdot users are really hardcore gamers, but I'm seeing a lot of this "Steam will die" and from a gaming standpoint that's just not going to happen. The Steam client takes all of two minutes to install and already has a huge games list, tons of users, lots of high-value purchases, and generally positive outlook from its users. I'd re-download just to get my small game library back. There's no way someone who has thousands of dollars invested will give up due to the default store. New and novice users will use the MS store, sure, but Steam was not huge on casual gamers anyways. For 'hardcore' games Steam has been the best, as it easily lets you switch PC's, chat, use games offline. and more. If we can take anything from past experiences with MS, it's that they will likely charge a Live fee (integrating XBL and W8 is likely). Steam has no such fees which Steam users already know and appreciate,
Source please... There hasn't been anything concrete said about the Steam Box OS. If they're pushing this hard at porting to Linux I would think the goal is a Linux-based design. Steam is a direct competitor to Microsoft on two fronts, possibly three if Win8 has a game store. It would be suicide to go into that agreement for either side, as Valve would be completely at the whims of Microsoft and Microsoft would be single-handedly upholding their rival. That looks to be why Valve is branching out, they want to get away from Microsoft and be able to survive on their own no matter what Microsoft does.
Steam already has a massive, loyal fanbase though, they'll be fine. Valve is one of the few game developers that a lot of gamers truly respect, unlike EA, who have their own store (Origin) but pull more backwards anti-consumer crap than anyone else in the industry. Plus, this isn't Microsoft's first foray into the game marketplace, they have had success with Xbox Live but failed miserably with Games For Windows Live much due to Steam and other, more gamer-oriented and well-established platforms.
I'm not sure where you're getting this...multi-monitor works very well with my Radeon 5870 and the open source radeonhd (Gallium3D) drivers. These drivers are reliable, rarely crash, have OK 3D performance (not great though), have native resolution framebuffer console, and have proper multi-monitor support. The binary Catalyst blobs from AMD kinda suck though, they rely on AMD's Catalyst Control Center for Linux application and don't handle multi-monitor well at all (forcing reboots/X restarts just to add a monitor to the desktop). I've also had numerous lock-ups, crashes, graphical corruptions, and times that the Catalyst drivers would flat out not boot. So, for AMD, the open-source drivers are the better choice unless all you care about is high gaming performance and not much else.
As far as nVidia goes, their binary blob at least works respectfully, but it still doesn't properly support everything that the open-source Radeon driver does. The framebuffer console on my laptop (nVidia 8600M GS) is stuck at VGA resolution (same with Ubuntu boot splash) and multi-monitor still requires the nVidia settings application. I tried the nouveau driver and it had a proper framebuffer resolution and proper multi-monitor support but limited 3D performance. It was on par with the radeonhd open-source driver which is pretty amazing considering nVidia released no documentation whatsoever on their chips.
I still prefer AMD's Linux approach as they cooperate with open-source efforts rather than giving us binaries to get away with keeping their stuff closed-source and closed-documentation. The problem with nVidia's approach is that when nVidia decides that a chip is no longer cost-beneficial to keep supported, you can lose everything and wind up stuck on an old kernel forever. With AMD's approach, the older cards are still supported by the community and will continue to be supported for a long time. I can only hope Nouveau has some good reverse-engineers who can figure out all the features of nVidia's chips before nVidia decides to drop support.
I ordered on launch day from Newark, it got here last Wednesday.