Tag Archives: Linux

Different, but better, type of review of Ubuntu Linux

I came across this “review” of Ubuntu Linux 8.04 Hardy Heron this morning.  The reviewer doesn’t go and review it as a Linux user.  Instead, he sits his girlfriend in front of it and has her perform a series of twelve tasks.  He didn’t tweak the install at all.  He only created an account for her.  He added no software.  This is simply a base install.  Basically, he wanted to rate the usability of the new version.  The article made for a great read.

Now, the comments are split about 50-50 with half saying that this was a great read and a great experiment in the usability of the “most usable” Linux distribution.  The other half weren’t so kind.  They went on saying that if she wasn’t used to Windows, she’d be able to use it just fine or that if she wants a usable *nix, she should use MacOS X.  It’s the stuff you hear over and over from the zealots.  It’s stuff that just doesn’t need to be said.  The fact remains, however, that the vast majority of people who would care have used a computer before (very few people in the civilized world have not) and the vast majority of those came from Windows.  It’s a good test, if you ask me.  His conclusion is that it’s not ready for mainstream desktop use.  I agree with him, though I’ll take it a step farther and say that it’ll never be ready for mainstream desktop use.  That’s not a bad thing.  I like Linux for what it is and what it does, but because there are so many different distributions and so many different window managers and desktop environments, without a lot of tweaking, it’s just not for the average computer user.  Sure, distributions like Ubuntu do most of the tweaking for you, but you get only the tweaks they deem necessary.  Without a nice budget like Microsoft of Apple have, it’s not an easy task.  The best suggestion the author makes is having an initial window open up (much like in Windows and I think MacOS X) that asks you what you want to do.  It’d be a nice welcome screen that lists various tasks and helps new users find what they want.

I originally found the article on Slashdot.

MPAA Forced to Comply with GPL

In an awesome bit of irony, the MPAA was forced to comply with the GPL.  The MPAA had created a toolkit for universities to use to spy on their students.  Basically, it was a piece of spyware that the universities could install on their network.  The software allowed them to check to see if the students were illegally sharing or downloading movies.  The toolkit was based off Xubuntu, a port of Ubuntu, a distribution of Linux a free and open source operating system released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).  The GPL requires that any changes made to the source code of GPL’d software be made available along with the compiled software.  The MPAA, obviously not wanting some nosy student to figure out how their toolkit works, decided not to make the source available.

Not being happy with this, Ubuntu developer Matthew Garrett decided to contact the MPAA and ask them to remove the link to the toolkit or make the source code available to be in compliance with the GPL.  After several attempts to contact the MPAA without response, he contacted their ISP, explained the issue, and had the link removed.  The University Toolkit site now no longer displays a link for the toolkit.  Only the links for the usage guides remain.

Discussion at Boing Boing, Slashdot, and Gizmodo