Open Source projects are gone crazy, period

You all know that I like to summarize my thinking in a few sentences. I don’t really like very long boring blog posts, and microblogging is already eating my will.

GRUB2, I’ve never understood the idiocy behind using bash scripts in bootloader configuration/setup tools. The wannabe GRand Unified Bootloder isn’t unified, grand even after a decade. And one of the sane points of GRUB1, a sane (yet could have been improved) simple configuration file that users were able to understand, was just thrown to the sharks. Same for having to regenerate grub.cfg from scratch at each kernel install/removal, this is really looking for troubles. Congrats!

KDE4, they planned to dominate the world with their outstanding ideas (they were, at the time) and they ended up having a crashy fishy Desktop Environment that is giving big headaches to downstream distributors at every minor release, with configuration, ABI, API changes, yeah. And we, as a distro, are as usual taking all the blame for things breaking so often. Hello KDE upstream, just test out your stuff a bit more before feeding the crowd with it. Oh, and of couse I have to mention the super KDE fanboys anecdote I keep hearing at every new release: KDE 4.(x+1) will be much better than KDE 4.x (and will blow GNOME 3 away!). The part in the brackets is a recent addition.

GNOME3,  yeah, sooner (more likely) or later we will have to switch to it, since GNOME2 is not developed anymore, as you may have happily seen. But when this will happen, I am sure, many of our users will get promptly upset and will start to load our Bugzilla and Forum with WTFs (at a very high WTF/s rate). Many people (the majority?) just want Desktop icons which they can click, some sort of taskbar and a systray where the annoying shit is placed. It’s been like that for 15 years, why do these bright minds called “Desktop Environment developers” just pretend to know what users want and what users are not FOR SURE suitable for? On a Desktop (not Mobile nor Handheld) system. WTF? Can’t you guys stop pretending to hold the whole knowledge and sit down with us, simple human beings? And perhaps shut the fuck up for a few minutes and just listen to what users want? Hasn’t the recent KDE3->KDE4 migration taught anything useful?

I’m done for today, but for sure, it’s not all about GRUB2, KDE4 and GNOME3. Everybody seems to have gone crazy, desperately trying to be revolutionary while people just want simple things that work without too much annoyance.

Update: when I wrote this blog post it was quite late here, and I feel really guilty for having forgotten Mozilla and its products, Chromium versioning, and many other examples of my theory. Is the Apocalypse of FLOSS near?

About lxnay

the creator of Sabayon Linux, Entropy Package Manager {Eit, Equo, Rigo}, Molecule release media buildsystem, Matter Portage buildbot/tinderbox and only God knows what else...

41 responses to “Open Source projects are gone crazy, period

  1. Enlik

    Xfce (or Fluxbox, or …) FTW!

    I’d want to add one more thing: race for version numbers (Chromium, Firefox, hello?). They must be chasing udev! They want the same coolness level and marketing as udev has. Hmm… Er…

    By the way:
    “(…) people just want simple things that work without too much annoyance.”
    nice words.

  2. Nice one. Sums it all up.

  3. I think you are right about Gnome3, and I’ve been using Unity for awhile and have come to really appreciate it now it’s stable a couple months after Ubuntu 11.04. I hope you can also package Unity for Sabayon, if reasonable. As long as you learn a few keyboard shortcuts, I really desire to keep the extra space Unity makes available on any laptop.

  4. Sad but true… it is exactly my thoughts as well, except for kde4. Within kde4, there is a lot of amazing technology involved, but it seems to be there just for the sake of it, without any real usage in the environment. If someone manages to do something *real* with it, kde4 will beat any other environment out there. But I’ve waited for this to happen since KDE 4.0, and now we are almost at KDE 4.7, and the only real things which are using some of this tech are some of the features which rosa labs are doing for mandriva – and even so, they are barely scratching the surface.

    But anyway, I completely agree with your points.

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  6. You forgot to mention the (in)famous amarok2. the first version was dominating the world (yeah, quite a lot of people even used it in gnome), while the second version is like kde4 in its best – buggy and slow piece of crap.

  7. Ouch, trueeeeeeeee, udev, amarok2, Firefox and Mozilla, there are freakingly many MORE!

  8. I agree with the most part.
    GRUB 2 is bad, for me at least that have several distributions installed on my harddisk: 5+w7.
    KDE4 is my love and my disappointing business partener.
    Firefox 5 is incompatible with moonlight that permit to view

    I switched to Chromium, Should I switch to Chrome OS? No please!

  9. Please help mate, the new gnome fork – I don’t speak spanish, but I feel obligated to publish it.

  10. You are absolutely right. Everybody keeps complaining about lack of resources, yet they waste the ones they have chasing kimeras.

    On one side, this is cool, you end up doing what you like, and it’s your time. On the other hand, they also propose those projects as “the solution”, and people depends on them, when in reality those projects should remain confined in the garage they were coded and never get out of there. And this is not cool, it’s my time here being wasted.

    I’m very sick of this idioticy, but there is nothing we can do, other than taking out our support, which is quite sad. After 15 years or more of linux it’s the first time I don’t recommend linux to new comers, and I revoked my fedora contributor rights…

    Sad as it is, I don’t believe in this anymore.

  11. Yes I absolutely agree. I used Ubuntu for a long time but since the switch to unity, terrible. Luckily I found Sabayon and I am even happier as in times with Ubuntu…

  12. Just posted an update 😉

  13. Your reaction is nothing new. With every change in a FOSS project, a percentage of people hate it, deride it, and can’t live with it.

    This has been happening since the very beginning. There’s no “crazy” going on. You just don’t agree with the changes.

    In the end, new users will come, see nothing crazy, and continue contributing.

  14. gavin little

    hi, i subscribe to this via rss and love sabayon blah blah blah

    however i’ve been playing with fedora 15 and i REALLY like gnome 3. i’ve seen so many people complaining i thought i’d break the trend and show that there is at least one person who likes it

    back when i used to use gnome 2 i would remove all the panels and use the docky/gnome-do combo with compiz-fusion. this was nice because it saved loads of screen space (with docky set to intellihide anyway), docky functioned as a taskbar as well as a dock and i could launch anything easily with gnome-do. i HATE searching through menus and things so gnome-do is a must for me. switching between windows i used to use docky or compiz-fusion’s expo thing (move cursor to top corner and it displays all active windows for the user to choose between)

    trying gnome 3 i was pleased to see it came pretty much like this by default. instead of docky it has that side bar thing, instead of compiz-fusion’s expo it’s built into the ‘activities’ thing and gnome-do isn’t needed because pressing the SUPER key and then typing the name of the desired software works just the same. having a system tray that hides itself and keeps out of the way is really nice, and the integration of the empathy messenger client is really nice

    i agree customization is limited, but it’s set up the way i would choose to customize it so it’s not so much of an issue for me…

  15. Gabvil

    I love the way you put this on… every topic you’ve touched is true.

    Migrate from KDE4, to Gnome… then XFCE… right now on Fluxbox !!!!

    Simple, enough pretty, usable, resources free. That’s what the user want.

  16. KimTjik

    I don’t feel the same about given examples, and some added in the comment section. On the other hand I’m not a distro maintainer.

    To me Grub2 was welcomed. I at least felt the need for a real updated version of Grub to support UEFI and GPT (latter giving better/easier SSD support). Sure, I was surprised the first time to see zillions of small files in its directory, but got used it. My first install had to be manual during a full system install, since it wasn’t included by default. My perception of Grub2 is therefore positive and I haven’t had time enough, or any issues giving me reason to evaluate its design.

    You irritation of KDE4 must be from a distro developers point of view, because from a user perspective it hasn’t caused any trouble from 4.1 and up to today. I don’t use a full DE myself – I prefer Awesome or something from between openbox and WindowMaker – but I’ve got KDE4 running on business’ and relatives’ computers. KDE4 has kept several “classical” concepts, so even though presenting some new features it wasn’t such a big revolution as some seem to suggest. KDE has continued to be a DE which offers more settings than most can comprehend, but works well set to default settings as well.

    I thought Gnome3 was a gift from the devil, at least according to what I’ve read. This week I tested Fedora 15 with Gnome3 on a Thinkpad at work. I’m quite surprised, because even without any foreknowledge about the environment it proved to be extremely easy to use and understand. I’ve never been a Gnome user, but I can’t understand what all the fuzz about Gnome3 is about. Judged by its design my impression is that it’s just a typical generation shift between old and new. As a former XFCE user I believe there’s an easy replacement for Gnome2 die hards.

    Someone mentioned Udev here, as yet another example of craziness. Excuse me, but isn’t the clean up around Udev exactly what was needed? Why have software on different levels trying to do the same, instead of just keep it simple and efficient? It has become very easy to have auto mounting and other stuff related to devices tweaked and working be it with or without a X environment. I’m on rolling release, so I know about how these changes have meant adjustments over time, but I still believe it was well worth it.

    All changes are of course not good. I doubt though that given examples are such straightforward ones.

  17. Tadej

    I think you are overreacting. And even if this was true there are always other alternatives in the Free worls. You can easily install other more simple desktop/WM like IceWM, or something similar. What I think is going on is that we were getting too comfortable and too accustomed to our environments. A bit of lazy if you wish. And when this happens any change can irritate us quickly. To move forward you sometimes have to break things. Otherwise you get stuck and not moving and this is the worst that can happen. Anyways, this is my opinion and now I’m going back to my KDE 4.6 which I lobe using more than I ever loved using KDE 3.5.

  18. I totally agree with you about GRUB2. Yes GRUB2 works and provides a lot of needed new functionality for a bootloader but the the documented process for updating grub.cfg is just plain stupid. Why are people expected to edit several files and run several shell scripts simply to avoid directly editing grub.cfg? Me – I simple edit grub.cfg!

  19. Fabio, move to Macs and OS X, as I did. You won’t regret it 🙂

  20. mmmrf! DAMNED! You are right!

  21. Martin

    One aspect that bugs me is the tendency to replace configuration files by relational databases. That wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t cost megabytes of space each time. KDE takes the cake with every user pofile being increased by 160 megabytes just for sharing an empty address book between a few applications!

    “people just want simple things that work without too much annoyance.”

    • dutchkind

      I agree, I really like kde4, but with the latest version there is hardly any escaping the akonadi beast anymore. Installed it on an intel i5 powered laptop, and this akonadi is slowing it down, every click takes often seconds to take effect. You can switch is of, yes, sort of, but it starts up as easily again, no user control. And no more uninstall of it.

  22. 4m

    Insanity is in our blood. We created radioactive waste – and we made more!

  23. mike

    I guess this is why I stay with Slackware, Fluxbox, Lilo, etc. I am tired of finding applications or desktop environments that I like and use well only to see more bugs introduced, features removed, and complexity added. I like some of the ideas of something like KDE 4, but everytime I try to embrace it I find something that doesn’t work as it should or becomes a pain to deal with.

  24. Now, if we can just get Android Phone Vendors to drop Vanilla Android builds on the phones and not encrypt/lock the bootloaders, Non-iPhruity Android ninjas we would have a better year!

  25. Tim

    The mentality you refer to is the same as that exhibited by Microsoft with each new Windows and Office release. It seems everything is changed just for shits and giggles.

  26. Elder-Geek

    On the other hand, XFCE really has their stuff together. A top notch desktop that makes incremental improvements, continuing to give users what they have grown to love over the last decade plus new features they want.

    With a few exceptions (I am looking at you Enlightenment 17) all the alternative desktops are nice and stable and if they make any improvements, they are incremental. Thanks to the Desktop.Org standards all the important features stay the same and can be added with a few utility Apps. Fluxbox, OpenBox, IceWM, xmonad, and LXCE are all examples of excellent DE’s that serve their nitch well.

    At least Enlightenment 17 is light, fast and configurable so you can build a “traditional” desktop with it.

    KDE4 has all of the building blocks to build many wacky, wild and wonderful things. A little bit of “glue” code and a few custom plasma widgets and you can come up with some cool stuff. Everything is resizable and there is plenty you can add or remove at will. To bad you can’t make KDE 3.5 (RIP) with it.

  27. vikofvan

    Please check your facts before posting such a post, I have been using KDE4 for over a year, daily for 8+ hours NO CRASH yet, appreciate it every day. It is a pleasure to work with, all I wonder is how could this be free? You may not like the direction software is headed, but that is the case with the entire industry, you may learn to adapt or just keep whining for good old days.

  28. Caesar Tjalbo

    I think a lot of it is “trying to win the previous battle”. There came a good reason to start new (QT4) or the code was getting too messy to maintain so slowly grew a desire to start all fresh. And then came the insight to prevent making the same mistakes and also to do it *really* well this time. Grub2’s complexity seems to me the result of “think first, then design, then implement”. Sounds like a good plan but it can get out of hand.

    That said, I can live with Grub2 and KDE4. Wasn’t the first adopter and that helped a lot, I guess. My last dist-upgrade even worked automagically despite having Grub on a different partition than the rest of the system (required manual repairs with bootdisk and chroot before that).

    Some changes are improvements, some not, some are just change. Transition was annoying, having no access to certain apps or functionality for a while. Sometimes it was a matter of grokking the change: among my first KDE4 actions was making it possible to have desktop icons. It took a while but I have a desktop without shortcuts now and I wouldn’t want it any other way anymore. Still no use for Activities though, perfectly happy with virtual desktops.

    The insanity? Well yes, Mozilla’s new versioning and Amarok2. Not sure if that’s anything new or exclusive to ‘open source’ though.

  29. John

    I’d love a KDE release where they’d try to address problems such as KWin with effects turned on crashes on NVidia cards (which, btw, are pretty much the only game in town if you want a stable and fully featured modern OpenGL implementation on Linux), dialogs pop up in the completely wrong places, dialogs are drawn with text and selection boxes in the wrong places, file operations freezing randomly (though this hasn’t happened lately, maybe it’s fixed?) and the general slowness of the thing (probably related to Plasma relying heavily on software rendering) – selecting and moving 10 icons on the desktop should not bring a CPU core to 100% usage and stall everything. While they’re at it they could drop all X primitive draw calls so that, if you need to use software rendering, the entire system doesn’t lock while Xorg keeps drawing a negative rectangle outline while you’re resizing a window. I could kind of understand that with KDE 1 and 2, but these days it just seems ridiculous. Also, you kind of want to use the outline rectangle instead of realtime updates to windows, because with todays overly complex UIs updating the position of controls in real-time is far from a trivial task, and can cause up to 1 second lags between updates.

    People loved Gnome 2.32 and KDE 3.5 because, despite their technological flaws and growing unmaintainability, the _WORKED_ for the user. You could rely on dialogs not randomly disappearing or the desktop crashing when you look at it wrong. They didn’t use up to 40% of CPU time and two gigabytes of memory by just sitting idle.
    Flashy and new technology is fine as long as it doesn’t come at the cost of usability – and KDE 4 is a shining example of a software project where the requirement for flashiness is keeping a product flaky and, quite frankly, inferior to the commercial software it’s trying so hard to imitate and replace.

    • John

      It is also worth mentioning that by releasing KDE 4.0 as a clearly unfinished product (it was a miracle to have 4.0 stay up for more than 5 minutes of use) and forcing everyone to migrate to the newer APIs, they effectively killed KDE 3, which despite its faults, was the best desktop environment available for computers at the time.

      It’s gotten to the point that, after having used Linux since 1997 and going Linux only in 2001, I’ve switched to Windows 7 as my main operating system. Despite its considerable share of faults, it’s stable, fast and lets me get my work done. I’ll check back every now and again, but I figure I’ll be on Windows until the day Aaron Seigo has died or retired, KDE 5 is released and the FLOSS people get their heads out of their collective asses and actually think about the user experience, while keeping in mind that What the User Wants is to just get their work done.

      • oiaohm

        History of KDE 4.0 is quite nasty. Internals of KDE 3.5 in fact are horrid bad. Their were critical mistakes made in the design of KDE 2.x and 3.x API’s. At some point those have to fixed.

        KDE 4.0 was a case of marketing and developers Not being in sync. 4.0 was only intended for application developers that had to alter applications to the fixed API’s. KDE 4.6 is getting quite decent.

        Also KDE 4.0 also made a mistake. They design on the idea that DRI2 would be ready when they were. It was not and is still not. 4.5 and 4.6 no longer crash Nvidia cards with effects on.

        Basically all the bugs you are talking about disappeared in latter versions of KDE 4.x . Big thing you miss is the old Nvidia drivers that would have been trying to run. Only supported 1 opengl application at a time stable. This forced plasma to software render and other bad things not to kill system.

        Yes Nvidia drivers have also been updated since KDE 4.0 and are way more stable when running multi opengl programs.

        “While they’re at it they could drop all X primitive draw calls so that, if you need to use software rendering, the entire system doesn’t lock while Xorg keeps drawing a negative rectangle outline while you’re resizing a window.”
        Gone KDE 4.7 and did not happen if you were using 4.0 with DRI2 drivers. Its another case of not being able to use opengl because crash would happen.

        Lot of the yelling at KDE 4.x traces to the fact the video card drivers were not up to the job and need fixing badly.

        Something most people miss is the KDE team maintained 3.5 until KDE 4.4 was released.

        Yes I was having crashes from time to time from fighting opengl applications with 3.5 these same issues that were ruining my day on 3.5 ruined KDE 4.x . The driver issue that ruined lot of people time with KDE 4.x really need to be fixed. Mostly now are fixed.

        The incorrect placement of windows parts was in fact not a KDE issue. John. It was a Nvidia driver issue of it getting confused with more than 1 opengl program talk to it. Something that should not be a issue by opengl spec.

        KDE 4.0 was a mark of a huge amount of unstable core driver code having to disappear for good. Because at long last some developer was nuts enough to build to spec and see where the system dies. KDE 4.0 , 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 was the time that most of the driver errors got dug out.

        In fact the process of building to go to wayland instead of is because internally is basically lock central.

        “(which, btw, are pretty much the only game in town if you want a stable and fully featured modern OpenGL implementation on Linux)” In fact the issue with Nvidia is that yes it had all the modern extensions to OpenGL but is not a modern implementation. Before KDE 4.0 it was still stuck in the stone age of only 1 Opengl application at a time. This is why KDE 4.0 that interface is more than 1 opengl application blew up so badly the video card drivers were malfunctioning under it. If I said on windows you could only run 1 program running direct x or opengl at a time if you did not watch crashes it would be valid right?

        So Nvidia driver only support 1 application at a time when KDE 4.0 was released? So please don’t call the Nvidia drivers modern. They are prehistoric beasts on Linux that have been force to become at least somewhat flexible.

        I know at time because I took KDE 4.0 back to software rendering slow as hell but found out software emulation of DRI2 or a system that support multi opengl applications at a time crashes disappeared.

  30. n8dgr8

    Unity-2d gives me hope for the Linux desktop. It just works.

  31. GNAM

    What about Linux 3.0?…. 🙂

  32. Roman geber

    Even so I have no love for the given examples I must defend their course of action. leaving everything as it is ends in total stagnation. We have to experiment in order to find new better concepts for future systems.

  33. former linux user

    I had switched from windows 98 to knoppix and kde, a few years ago. Linux was always way better than anything else. Now however, linux is turning into trashware. Ubuntu is melting down, there are no desktop environments anymore, firefox suck, chromium sucks, openoffice and libreoffice are crap… I’m moving 100% back towards Microsoft.

  34. Roman geber, yes innovation is necessary, but revolution is not well accepted or understood by ordinary users.
    Users are ordinary human beings after all. Functionality must also be kept in mind. I hate to admit it, but Microsoft understands that quite well. So does Apple.
    If you change too much and all your users go elsewhere, you’ll be left experimenting on your own.

  35. tekwyzrd

    KDE4 was hyped as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately it falls short of the standard set by KDE 3.5 and it looks like it will never be as good. The unnecessary resource waste due to akonadi and nepomuk and the attitude of the devs and moderators on the KDE forums are making me seriously consider giving up on linux entirely. Then there’s the now useless kmail. Oh, and let’s not forget the lousy organization of settings and options that were easy to find in KDE 3.5. KDE4 will never live up to the hype surrounding it’s launch. KDE 4.7 is coming soon, and it’s still nowhere near as good as KDE 3.5 was.

  36. Xake

    You have some points to grub2, especially the handling of grub.cfg which is a bit stupid, and on gentoo totally borked.

    Use grub-mkconfig with os-prober installed and I have yet to find a problem with it while creating a fully working grub.cfg (probably because I invested the time to find out what the Gentoo ebuild in portage has yet to fix), but the version of grub.cfg it generates does does stupid things like during a normal boot do “insmod msdos” a couple of times for the same partitions (first two in global scope, and then two per-bootchoice, why does the configfile-generator not care if something is already loaded just to bloat the config-file?). And since both my boot and my root is placed on a mdraid0 it doubles the amount of entries.
    grub-mkconfig usually finds all installed OSs (4, not including Windows7 since it resides on a fake-raid grub cannot handle).

    But on the other hand, you can easily generate a configuration with grub-mkconfig, and then hand-edit it. If you know what you are doing, you can also easily get it to nearly the same amount of lines as the old grub.conf, especially if you know how to generate a proper corefile with every module you need included statically.

    Also, with GRUB2 I am able to boot from lvm on raid, and do not need to fiddle with an from the rest of my system external boot partition just because GRUB cannot handle raid at all (that it works with mdraid1 is just pure luck).
    The fact that I also can acctually COMPILE GRUB2 on a amd64 WITHOUT multilib is also a good thing in my book. Or that it works on Mac/PPC. Or that it on one of my systems works at all.

    I had one amd64 nomultilib system where grub-static failed to boot, GRUB2 worked like a charm. I have since converted all my gentoo systems and never looked back.
    Not counting some Debian-madness wrt configuration-generating, GRUB2 when handled right (which the portage ebuild really does not) works.

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