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Comment: Re:draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X (Score 1) 209

by benmhall (#47648591) Attached to: Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

"... all contemporary smartphones look like Palm OS."

Fixed this for you :-)

That made me laugh! In many ways, I still find PamOS to be a more effecient OS than what's available today. Just think of how fast it was considering it was running on a CPU chunking away at 8-33MHz! That said, you really can't go back.

SNIP

Nah, I'd rather have xfce with some tuning to clean stuff up.

I also love XFCE and still use it on any servers with X11 installed. (Though I miss the days of it looking like CDE.) The last time I tried it in earnest, it didn't handle multi-monitor support very well. Has that improved recently?

Comment: Re:draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X (Score 1) 209

by benmhall (#47647451) Attached to: Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

Drawing a comparison would suggest its different but comparable, and not inspired by. Straight up copying as it is I wouldn't even suggest saying it's drawing cues.

I'm not really sure why people think that Elementary OS is a copy of OS X. Sure, it's similar in the same way that all contemporary smartphones look like an iPhone, but beneath the theme (with a dock, like WindowMaker, XFCE, and countless other WMs have) it behaves very differently - distinctly. Workspaces, for instance, are quite different. There's no integrated top menu like there is in Mac OS or Unity, all apps behave very differently than they would on Mac OS X, etc.

Even the theme isn't really a Mac clone. It's "just" a grey theme (albeit a well designed one) with slight gradients and very little, very well created window chrome. Mac OS, Chrome OS, Elementary OS, Cinnamon/Linux Mint, and to a lesser extent Gnome, are all heading in a similar direction design-wise; they aren't really copying each other to get there, though.

Any similarities are skin deep. The Elementary OS team is making changes and design decisions from the default language to applications that result in a fast, coherent system that bears little resemblance to Mac OS (or Windows or Unity, for that matter.)

Comment: Try it before passing judgement (Score 4, Interesting) 209

by benmhall (#47646791) Attached to: Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

I've been using Elementary OS Luna for about a year now. It's just lovely.

It has no grand plans of world-domination or a perfectly converged all-in-one interface to rule them all. It does give me the stability and packages of Ubuntu with excellent desktop usability and elegance.

It offers a consistent, well-thought out interface. It easily supports colour calibration, multiple workspaces and monitors, great keybindings, etc. After using it for a bit, it has become an effortless part of my workflow in a way that Unity failed to.

And that's the old version.

This is news. As someone using Desktop Linux daily, a new release of Elementary OS based on the latest LTS of Ubuntu is what will finally have me upgrading my machines. I have great respect and appreciation for what Cannonical has done for the Linux desktop. I use Ubuntu everywhere I can, but for day-to-day Linux desktop use, I use and recommend Elementary OS.

Try it. If you like simple and elegant interfaces, I think you'll like it.

Comment: Re:What's the closest JEOS equivalent? (Score 1) 179

by benmhall (#46786317) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

The Server Edition is pretty minimal. If you're looking for X anyway, I'd just start with Server and add what you need. Yes, it's bigger than JEOS, but it also has all of your bases covered. Removing packages is trivial anyway.

I typically start with Server, if it's a physical machine, and lubuntu-desktop. Sure, I waste a few hundred MB, but it saves me time and gives any other admin, even on ewith limited Linux experience, a pretty recognizable and usable environment without the bulk of things like an office suite.

Comment: Congratulations to Ubuntu and Canonical! (Score 5, Insightful) 179

by benmhall (#46781807) Attached to: Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

I'll be upgrading all of our Ubuntu 12.04 machines (and many 10.04 servers) over the coming months, and I'm looking forward to the changes.

Canonical and Ubuntu have done more for desktop Linux than any other company I can think of. I look forward to their regular releases, strong committment to patches, and easy, reliable upgrades. As a sysadmin, they've made my life much easier on both server and desktop. Predictable releases and solid relationships with Dell, IBM, and HP mean that I can buy almost server or laptop and know that it will "just work."

Thank you to the developers, backers, hackers, and community.

Comment: Re:TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND NO ONE IS THERE !! (Score 2) 75

by benmhall (#46306895) Attached to: Jolla Announces Sailfish OS 1.0

I'm ready to switch to a platform that isn't any better so long as it doesn't have the google hooks.

You should try a new BlackBerry. I've been using my Z10 for a year now and am very pleased with it. On top of being fast, efficient, and very productive for day-to-day tasks, the browser is the best on the market, the company has a proven track record of top-of-class security, and the hardware is very well made. It also has the best virtual keyboard I've ever used, and the latest version allows for direct installation of Android APKs, if you're in to a boatload of apps. (I've installed a couple, they work perfectly, but on balance, the core apps are simply top-notch and tend to be what I use day-to-day.)

Of course, it can work with Google Calendar, Contacts, etc, but you are in no what stuck with Google's hooks. It also works well with Microsoft/ActiveSync/whatever else you'd want.

All of that said, as an operating system junky, I'm very interested in try Sailfish. I have a Nokia 770 and N810 in a drawer. This is the continuation of that line and I'd love to see what the great engineers have come up with now that they're free of Nokia.

Comment: Hogwash. (Score 0) 631

by benmhall (#44947431) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

Respectfully, this article is hogwash. Canonical has done more for Linux usability and the Linux desktop than any other company. I'm typing this on a Dell XPS 13 that shipped, in Canada, with Ubuntu 12.04. This is alone is a major accomplishment. Step outside of North America and you can find Ubuntu shipping on desktops and laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and many other manufacturers. This is because of the strength of the Ubuntu desktop, and Canonical as a backer.

I use Unity on devices with small screens, and with multi-monitor setups. It isn't perfect, but I haven't found anything more productive, and it's improving quickly. Canonical's other efforts, such as the Ubuntu font, and integrated colour management and optimized fonts, also make Ubuntu the first out-of-the-box Linux setup that I can use for print and design work. Yes, I often do this using VMs to run proprietary software, but I know I can count on decent colour calibration. Unity is still in development, but I can see how it could scale from phone to desktop better than any other environment.

At work, we use Ubuntu on server and desktop. Their predictable LTS release, as well as continuing improvements such as their HWE updates make this a relative dream when compared to any other distribution. When I deploy using Ubuntu, I barely have to stop to wonder if the software will work, whether I'm considering the latest laptops, or older, obscure servers. More than any other OS, Ubuntu just works. My small business also makes extensive use of Ubuntu for server deployment, turnkey systems, and virtualization. Of course, Ubuntu is also my main software platform on all of my computing devices.

Ubuntu is the most used cloud computing platform, and Canonical's efforts on creating devops tools are again leading the pack.

From what I see, Mr. Shuttleworth and Canonical are working harder than ever on trying to do something amazing with open source software that scales from phone to cloud. Some efforts like the Ubuntu TV project are not bearing fruit immediately, but this, Ubuntu Touch, their cloud efforts, and more, are building an open platform and ecosystem that is unparalleled in the open source world, and goes toe-to-toe with the ecosystems being developed by Apple, Google, and Amazon. And they're doing all of this on a relatively shoestring budget.

You could argue that they should work more closely with some upstream projects, but at the end of the day, they are showing strong leadership and need to be able to move in the direction that they think is best. They are doing all of this openly, and the code speaks for itself, for better or worse. Personally, I very much believe that it is for better.

I appreciate and will support their continuing efforts.

Comment: Re:Gatekeeper (Score 1) 442

by benmhall (#44336159) Attached to: Microsoft's Surface RT Was Doomed From Day One

"Also, you NEVER see the Apple App store unless you invoke it purposefully.."

Well, except when you run updates. New Macs won't let you pull down updates for apps like iPhoto that ship with the hardware unless you sign in with your Apple ID. You pretty much can't avoid having an Apple ID these days while running current versions of MacOS. (Well, you can, but the constant update messages are pretty annoying.)

Gatekeeper and the App Store, coupled with dropping built-in support for X11 and Java were enough to send me packing. I can see the writing on the wall. I'm not saying that these changes were bad for customers or wrong for Apple, just that they aren't for me. Thankfully, Ubuntu has easily caught up to where I want it to be for daily desktop use, and other hardware vendors are keeping up with Apple's beautiful hardware designs.

Comment: I think this is great! (Score 3, Interesting) 148

by benmhall (#42949265) Attached to: Ubuntu For Tablets Announced

As it happens, I'm writin this on an HP 2760p. A traditional tablet pc. It's currently running Ubuntu 12.10 and everything works reasonably well.

The reality is that we are in the midst of a very significant shift in computing, from desktop PCs to tablets and phones. Laptop and desktop sales are down, tablet sales are skyrocketing. Canonical is the only company focusing on Linux desktop computing. Unity is good and is getting better quickly. I honestly believe that they have the best approach to scaling the UI. Canonical is essentially pushing responsie design for the Linux desktop.

What other Linux distribution do you see pushing the end-user computing envelop? These guys are moving forward and should be celebrated and supported for doing so.

I look forward to Ubuntu for Tablets on my 2760p. Count me in!

Comment: Great call! XFCE has been fantastic for years. (Score 3, Informative) 328

by benmhall (#40923349) Attached to: Debian Changes Default Desktop From GNOME To XFCE

XFCE is a fantastic DE that is very flexible, customizable, easy-to-use, and mature. It runs great on old and new hardware. It runs better over NFS than Gnome ever has, it works great over NX or VNC.

I've used it on-and-off since the very beginning. It has always been a stable DE that has managed to evolve over time without every significantly alienating its user base.

Every year or two I upgrade or replace the Linux side of our Linux dual-boot lab machines at work. Since at least 2006 I've been defaulting to XFCE (early 4.0 and newer.)

Not once have the students complained about the desktop. True, it isn't super-flashy but it works like a charm.

(And, as an added bonus, I can still make it look like BeOS if I want to.)

Comment: Buying tech with a clean conscience is possible (Score 1) 412

by benmhall (#40134355) Attached to: Can You Buy Tech With a Clean Conscience?

My BlackBerry was made in Mexico; RIM have factories in Canada, the US, and in Europe. My Panasonic camera was made in Japan, as was my wife's Panasonic Toughbook. Even better: Most of my tech equipment, much of which was made in China, came used from ebay. By buying used, I get fantastic deals on high-end equipment that I likely wouldn't otherwise be able or at least willing to buy, and most of what I use gets a new lease on life and a second chance. Moreover, I almost always either sell or give away the tech to friends and neighbours. Everybody wins.

My conscience is clean.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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