Georg Grabler (STiAT) - blog

Life is like an endlessly recursive fractal of perverse pain and suffering.

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[KDE] Testing Distributions

Dear folks,

I took some time-out, testing plenty of distributions which in my eye should get a closer look, and I want to give you an insight in which distribution I prefer, and the pros and cons of the other ones. Please note that this is not a rant, but a personal opinion, and maybe can be some inspiration to some distributions about what to make better.

The following distributions I tested, and I know that Mandriva as one of the leading KDE distributions is missing, but I never liked it, and I doubt that will change in the near future – so due to having a mindset about it, I left it out for good, sorry folks:

  • Arch Linux
    Pretty much up in the ranking, and one of my favourite distros – had to give it a shot.
  • Manjaro
    Arch with installer and going for desktop use? I’m in.
  • KaOSX
    Derived from Arch – let’s see what they did (so far).
  • Fedora
    Well, being the RH sponsored one – let’s see.
  • OpenSUSE
    Giving themselves credit as the best – so testing it was obviously logical.
  • Chakra
    Don’t know the current state of the distribution, but once developed for it. Wanted to see where they are.
  • KUbuntu
    It’s an Ubuntu derivate, and since Ubuntu gets much credit – test it.
  • Debian
    Hey – it’s still the most used distribution, considering all the derivates at least.

I’ll start off with the installation progress, and how “easy” things were.

 

Installation Progress

Arch Linux

Ye, well, we all know that Arch is not the easiest distribution to install, and that’s one of the critism I have. Though, it went much smmother (especially considering I’m running an UEFI system) than I expected. I was ready and set up basically in the same time as when I would have installed any other distriution – which is probably because pacman seems to be lightening fast. Not easy enough for new users, but pretty solid process and documentation – and especially for that one – kudos Arch.
Though, /home volume encryption turned out harder than thought, and workflows described in the WIKI did not work at all, that’s a -.
Score: 5/10

Manjaro

Supposed to be easier than Arch. Supposed to – exactly. The installer is – irritating, letting me choose region and language twice (ye, I know, once for the locales, once for keyboard and time settings). Though, not necessary.
But the installation process was pretty painless overall – I was impressed. Though, /home folder encryption missing, -1 for Manjaro.
Score: 8/10

KaOSX

Well – that one was a bit more “tricky” since they officially don’t support UEFI, but my hardware can only be booted UEFI. I got a certain ISO file (thanks Demm by the way for pointing me to it) which can boot UEFI, and got it installed. The installation progress was pretty neat, except two bugs around (locale setting and keyboard settings which are not dealt with). Being a good old Arch user, that wasn’t a big deal, but for newcomers a no-go of course. They go for Calamares, a pretty new installer slowly taking shape, so I’m sure that will improve over the next year – I’ll happily give it a shot again. Home folder encryption was missing as well.
Score: 7/10

Fedora

Fedora had by far the best and easiest installation process I found. With one exception: /home volume encryption missing.
Score: 9/10

OpenSUSE

Pretty neat installation process, easy to use, pretty much the same as Fedora. But /home encryption missing as well. Straight-forward, except a nasty bug I ran into: The keyboard settings are not set, so you end up with an us keyboard. In my case, the keyboard was not at all recognized at the boot time (not even with the wrong keyboard setting), so I couldn’t type my password in. Changing it to “de” in the /etc/XORG/xorg.conf.d/00-keyboard.conf solved the issue – though, a no-go, and does not live up to a major distribution or any QA I’d expect of it.
Score: 7/10

Chakra

I shouldn’t be too hard of them, since it was me who maintained the intaller, but it’s a test – so I have to. Though, it is crippled, and they should look another way and get away of Tribe. Maybe Thus or Calamares can be the future for them, I don’t see Tribe in any shape to be their future installer, except a maintainer steps up. Another problem is, that they don’t have an UEFI boot, so I couldn’t even boot Chakra in UEFI mode (I did it booting an Arch UEFI, and installing Chakra from there).

Score: 3/10

KUbuntu

Oh hell, all I want. /home encryption, easy setup. A little minus for setting the keyboard language AFTER the WIFI password – seriously? My WIFI PW is 24 random characters – I can’t easily type that with an US keyboard being used to a german one.

Score: 9/10

Debian

To my surprise, Debian was almost the easiest to set up. Though, I missed /home encryption there too. But the downside is, compared to all others, to install Debian took ages.

Score: 8/10

Pre-Installed Applications

Arch Linux

Well, arch is famous for not pre-installing too much, or bundling too much. It’s lean, it’s KISS. If you know what you do, it’s a simple 10. If you don’t, it’s a 0. But well, the distribution is designed that way, so it’s a 10 in my eyes, since I was able to configure it in exactly the way I wanted it.

Score: 10/10.

Manjaro

Well, I was surprised with how much *crap* this distribution comes. I didn’t expect that, since the installation media was not that big, but it has piles of software loaded by default and when I looked at the lists, I was like: “I rather uninstall the distribution before I uninstall all the crap they pre-install”. Several web browsers is the first thing I recognized, and then it was Rekonq and Konqueror – and KDE users know, if there is a Qt choice for a browser it’s QupZilla. Rekonq has this nasty habit of trying to guess your URLs, still getting them wrong (https://https:// – uhm?). In general the default software selection of Manjaro seems not too well thought, and it’s the first complete no-go.

Score: 0/10

KaOSX

Well, while I agree with them “the best of a breed”, they pre-install QupZilla, where QupZilla is for sure not the best of the breed of browsers. The rest of the software collection is neat, and pretty clean, I liked that they only install “one tool for the job” ;-).
A big downside I found is that they don’t provide i386 / multilib repos, so you can’t use Skype, Steam, and probably other software. This is sad, but for me personally no real bummer – for some others not being able to skype or play their linux games it is.

Score: 4/10

Fedora

Hmh, pretty neat software collection. As all of them, it comes with the whole PIM suite, but I guess that’s what’s expected nowdays. The only main thing I have a lot of critism for is that it ships by default with Apper. Apper uses packagekit – I know, but it always tells you have only 12 seconds to go doing updates, and uninstalling software it never can meet dependencies (clean install, update, and then remove KMail in example – won’t work). That shouldn’t be the choice of a default GUI package manager, and would drive a regular user nuts, since he wouldn’t know how to install / uninstall software.

Score: 5/10 (since Apper is not usable at all).

OpenSUSE

Hell yea, I can live with that. Not bad, but not good either. The only thing I have to say: the software installation progress gives way too much information, and is a lot too complicated to use. A bit of an easier version would have been nice. In the end, a stable and good software collection, and a pretty solid installation tool

Score: 8/10

Chakra

It comes with a very pre-selected sofware setup, which is in my eyes well selected, but the browser choice is “limited” due to their opionion of only using Qt/KDE software – which inherits the bad browser choice.

Score: 6/10

KUbuntu

While I don’t agree with [a lot] of software installed (personal preferences, as Clementine instead of Amarok, VLC instead of Dragonplayer etc.) – but it’s a KDE distribution, so what did I expect – I have to say it’s clean. One tool for the job, and for real, the best package manager out there in KDE distributions. Muon and it’s friends (Discover etc.) are pretty well designed and well working.

I have tried to migrate a few desktops to KUbuntu for my Aunt (68 years old) and my grandmother (79 years old), and it works flawlessly for them – so the selection can’t be that bad.

Score: 10/10

Debian

I was again pretty surprised about Debian. A lot of crap, but a seriously good software collection pre-installed. It can’t hold up the package management pre-installing Apper with Muon of course, but it’s a neat selection and it works. And Apper slightly better than the complicated OpenSUSE thing Yast provides.

Score: 9/10

Resume

Whew, what to sum up. I personally don’t like Ubuntu / Canonical / KUbuntu too much, but they’re doing a good job, and as KDE distribution I can recommend it – since it was the only fully featured distribution I found, with only little drawbacks. I personally will continue to use Arch – personal favourite :) .. but to be true, with the installation process, Muon and the pre-selected software, KUbuntu is almost too mighty. So for all looking for a stable, well organized and snappy KDE distro, I can recommend it.

About others

I’m aware that I’ve had not all distros. Especially Netrunner I’m still interested in, but didn’t find the time to test (yet). I’m also not too sure what the “rolling” and “stable” model basing on two different distribtuions should be, and what Netrunner could do better than KUbuntu (except the default installation, which is already pretty neat in KUbuntu). But a Manjaro with well selected software – does not sound too bad for me (very good to be true), but I don’t get the goal on the “stable” release.

Maybe I get around doing another test on Netrunner, PCLinuxOS and Mandriva one day, but I had enough of hopping the past weeks :).

Nokia, Microsoft, Qt, the future and so on

Well, a lot of things have been posted, and some really good concerns have been brought up by the community of Qt, KDE and others about Qt, the future, startup companies and so on.

Well, to the point, the concerns are right now not really justified.
* Qt is open source, and a lot of companies, no really small ones as Intel, Skype, Adobe etc. do have interest in it.
* MeeGo finds itself being of high interest to Intel, ZTE and others
* Nokia has to bet the next two years on Qt and Symbian, so Qt will be maintained, and it will improve.
* Nokia sees Qt / MeeGo as their “next” big thing, as a R&D project though, but who says that half a billion US Dollars a year to MeeGo is that bad? Certainly, it is less than it was, but it’s not as if it would die.

For Nokia, Qt and MeeGo will not be the primary goal for the next few years. We know that, and it will have impact. But don’t overreact on this, the time to recognize when it’s time for a port of Qt is far in the future. Nokia still shows interest in MeeGo, as a project and as a platform. The ones to be disappointed are those at Intel. They have had a good bet on Nokia to ship Smartphones using Intel Chipsets with their High-End smartphones.

Well, I would say: Keep watching closely. But stay calm.

And the winner is: xf86-video-intel

At least for the Linux game of the year award. I rarely had so much fun with anything else but the intel drivers lately.

So, what is wrong? Well, besides that dual-head doesn’t work any longer in the new version (2.13.0), you also get a lot of lockups when using desktop effects (at least in KDE). I had to disable the desktop effects again to be able to use the desktop at all (having a freeze every few minutes isn’t much fun when you want to work).

I wonder where their testing squad is before the releases? 4 times a year a few weeks holidays, right before a release? I mean this lockups and problems are nothing new to the whole community, and it takes ages now to fix the most critical parts. Instead of fixing, they introduce new errors and problems every release.

I hope they really get their drivers on track soon, it really starts to annoy me. I love free software, and Intels commitment by providing open source drivers at all, but there must be a way to provide better working drivers than the current one, especially for a company as intel.

[JuK] Am I working?

Yes, I am. I’ve been trying to port the trackpicker to Qt4. Sadly, I realized that the MusicBrianz / TunePimp implementation isn’t working at all.

Due to the reason that libtunepimp is depreciated for ages now, and even musicbrainz2 is, I decided to give it a shot and make a test application.

I today implemented a basic interface and backend which can handle the data. I’m now reading into libmusicbrainz[2|3], to create a working implementation for both.

I’ve done all this in a test application, not in JuK, since JuK will make it even more complicated than it is. I’ve plans on implementing both, as it is with libtunepimp, it will be with musicbrainz[2|3] in future, but with the same API on our side, implemented in two different C++ libraries. This will make the JuK code easier to read on this part.

Why musicbrainz2? Simply, most distributions ship with libmusicbrainz2 (musicbrainz3 is not in the main repositories in most distributions), what forces me somewhat doing that as well.

To be heared (soon) of.

// STi

Is KDE moving too fast?

Well, can anything move too fast? I’ve some concerns about KDE and KDE Development speed, or rather the speed features are added.

I recently tried KDE 4.4 SC RC2 (or better, I’m using it as my main desktop). Of course, this is not the final 4.4.0 version, and not even the last one of 4.4.x series.
Allthough, what I realized, it was a huge performance drop on my systems compared to 4.3. Also, it really has a bunch of smaller bugs. The good side is, all bugs I looked for were already reported, even when most were not marked release critical (they are not, so +1 there).

KDE implements new technology very fast, and really gives you a bleeding edge desktop. This probably is needed, so you can get a desktop fitting the time we’re living in.
In my position, I’m using a Dell Latitude E5500 with a Intel 4500 HD graphics card.I disabled all desktop effects (since the hardware is lacking performance in Linux, and the latest Intel drivers are really getting rather worse than better as they promised). Anyway, my system in idle with no applications opened eats up to 15-20 % CPU (of both CPU cores) by default, and after some usage about 2 GB RAM (all I have), what’s quite a lot to me, and generally does not feel as if it was responding quick enough. Nowdays, dolphin needs up to 10 seconds starting up, with an almost empty home directory (6 folders 2 files).

This makes me think on: How’s KDE moving lately? A lot of new features, quite quick release cycles. That’s nice, allthough, is enough time spent in fixing bugs in the cycles? Is there enough drive for performance of the desktop? Computers are evolving, and my system starts to grow old already as well, but I had no intentions buying a new laptop with 6 gb ram and some GeForce graphics card in the near future.

Of course, everyone should go with the time. But thinking on how everybody was trampling on Windows Vista for it’s hardware hungryness – KDE currently is far beyond that.

I hope the best, and still hope the KDE Community and Contributors can prove me wrong about that.

Maemo 6 devices

Nokia officially announced a Maemo 6 based device for the 2nd half of 2010, wich will completely be based upon Qt 4.6. I’m really looking forward to this device, and I’ll very likely buy one. Could be the device I’ve been waiting for for years.

Also, they announced that Symbian^3 will be released for smartphones within mid 2010, and Symbian^4 will be released early in 2011, which get a complete UI-Redesign, and also Symbian^4 will feature Qt as the main development platform, what will make cross platform and development a lot easier.

Source: allaboutmaemo.com

64bit Time for the last one …

It has been time that the last thing I was running on 32 bit moves to 64bit. We all know that 64 bit is the future for all operating systems, and I rather tend to be an early adopter.

This means, the last system – this server – was moved from 32 to 64 bit by now. I had some struggle getting the mail server running (postfix knows how to drive me crazy), but overall everything went great, and the backup of the databases also worked properly.

Development side: Nothing new to say, I hardly had time to continue anything, but hope I’ll get something done tomorrow.

News? None :D

I’ve been very busy lately, due to 3 of my colleges being on vacation, I was always quite broke coming home from work. I rather spent some time with a book or watching TV than developing, because developing isn’t really that relaxing.

So, what’s going on. I started working on the last patch for JuK again, but didn’t really get much along. I fixed a couple of bugs in QTiNT, which is quite nice. Allthough, the progress could be better, the model / view of the Tree still isn’t implemented properly. But the tree loading and XML parsing is done.

Next, I’m doing quite fine by not smoking anymore. Currently, it’s easier than I thought.

I’ll blog as soon as there are real news again.

Quit Smoking … ouch

I finally decided I should quit smoking. It’s not really for the financial point, but rather for my health, and even more important – I always disliked how cold smoke smells.

So, I decided to do some softlaser therapy, and since my arranged date was today, I quit smoking yesterday.

Today in the morning I got a call .. the guy who should do my therapy is ill. Now I’m stuck .. still not smoking, but quite nervous. Let’s see how long I hold that one .. it’s just about not smoking a week until I can do my therapy … but will I still need it then? If I can survive without getting weak, I could do it longer.

Not tired, not too lazy

I began the refactoring of the playlist last weekend. Sadly, I’m not at home this weekend and can’t continue to work on it.

Then I’ll be absent for 3 weeks (vacations, yey!), so the next month will not be very productive (or not productive at all).

It’s time to relax, to come back with more strength and will to continue my tasks. I want to suceed before the merge windows for 4.4 close.