Podcast Season 1 Episode 9


Title: Catafalque

In this episode: Our favourite TuxRadar comments so far, how can we help convert people from Windows and a special feature on netbooks.

What's in the show

  • News: We subvert this section to discuss our favourite TuxRadar comments so far.
  • Hot Topic: How can we help convert people from Windows. Should we bother trying, is Wine a good thing and should we educate people on the dangers of using proprietary file formats?
  • Discovery of the week:
  • Special Feature: Netbooks
  • Special offer: subscribe to Linux Format magazine and save up to to 55% - that's just $7.62 an issue!

Presenters: Andrew Gregory, Paul Hudson, Graham Morrison and Mike Saunders

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Your comments

Why does a guy who writes

Why does a guy who writes about computer stuff for a living fail to have a computer with a working trackpad? Was this an elaborate ruse to force Future to pay you more?

Making people switch

I'm sure Mark Shuttleworth has said something to this effect, as that guy never ceases to amaze me with his common sense, but essentially people are only going to switch to Linux when it is head and shoulders better than Windows; being equal to, or even slightly better is just not a compelling reason to uproot and learn everything over.

I'd say that its only really in the past 18 months you can claim that Linux is on a par with Windows for general everyday users, and even then there are a bunch of areas where it is still lacking and I would say that under vigorous scrutiny the thesis that Linux is on a par falls down.

So above and beyond anything else Linux needs to just continue to improve.

TBH, I don't see Linux making a compelling switch argument for another 2 or 3 years. The good news though is I think Linux is going to win out eventually. I just can't see how Windows can stop the change in the long run. Its just a matter of when exactly that change really takes off.

More tips!

You can't come in. Our tiger has got flu.

Making people switch

I do not think people in general installs operating systems on their mashines, it's preinstalled for them.
We need stronger Linux companies with better deals with the hardware companies.
By the way, I was lucky to not have to install a Windows server last week. All thanks to mono. We had a 3:rd party app that was developed in .net and now it runs perfectly on SLES10.
One more small victory for Linux.
That means Wine, mono and virtualisation is important for Linux adoption.

curse you Mike Saunders, I

curse you Mike Saunders, I now have RSI after being reminded of xbill
After Level 14:

ouch ouch ouch :P

How I switched from Windows to Linux

I remember when I made the decision to switch from Windows XP to using Linux. It was not an instant changeover. I had used Linux in the past briefly, when it still did not support most hardware like soundcards and modems, and had stayed with Windows for a long time. But I then bought a second-hand computer and decided to give Linux another try, as there were times when Windows was becoming frustrating to use.

I installed Xandros 3 OCE on it and enjoyed using it. I still ran my Windows XP PC and was comparing the two. Eventually Windows XP got so bad, although a reinstall of it would probably have helped, but I got fed up with having to reinstall Windows yet again (at least once a year for several years).

So I decided to give up Windows XP as my main OS and go for Linux. I bought Xandros 4 Home Premium (no longer available) for less than £100 (considerably cheaper than an XP licence), and installed that and enjoyed it, until the hard drive it was installed on decided to die.

I then wanted to try something else. I discovered Linux Format via the Internet and decided to subscribe (I never bought a copy in a shop) and read about Ubuntu and other distros. Eventually I chose Ubuntu and have been happy with that ever since. I have recently bought an Asus Eee PC 901 with Xandros and enjoy that too.

The point is, I changed over gradually. I think we need to get Windows users to try out Linux first. Live CDs are great in helping do this, as they make no changes to a computer, and thus the Windows user can try out Linux without fear of messing up Windows.

A gradual changeover is the least painful way, and either people who start to use Linux will either like it right away, or have reservations by eventually get fed up with Windows and go for Linux, or be won over by its ease of use (as is the case with some distros) or other plus points.

For me, the real advantages over Windows include:
- no licence fee (for most distros)
- regular free updates
- the latest cutting edge technology (e.g. Compiz)
- free open source software which does not have built-in spyware (Windows has its Genuine [dis-]Advantage Tool which is spyware)
- very unlikely to get a virus or spyware installed in Linux, so much safer to use
- not likely to need to reinstall the OS every 6 months due to OS getting bloated and slowing down as Windows gets.

To a certain extent I think Linux is already there as being better than Windows. But Microsoft has a bigger marketing budget and powerful infuences over the PC industry which pushes Linux out.

As an aside...

The original xbill is still available in the Ubuntu repositories. ;)

Leave 'em to it

I'm not convinced that a great Linux-Windows Desktop migration would actually be all for the better. One of the nice things about Linux is not having to worry so much about malware. Not because Linux is immune, rather because of a much lower user-base; this alone makes Windows the target of choice for your average black-hat.

Commenting on the Linux distros pre-installed on netbooks; I've never used Linpus, but the Xandros distro on the EeePCs was(is) awful. It felt cheap, restrictive and since Xandros almost immediately abandoned it, out-of-date.
Only as a big techy geek did I knew where to turn for some proper Linux satisfaction! (I type this now from my Easy Peasy installed 701) But if I had been a 'regular' user I suspect I would have given up on this inferior Linux thing and gone back to good ole reliable XP without second thought.

UNR is great though and Moblin looks promising. Good for us! :)

Default distro?

Regarding the default distro, is comment feedback related to the regular big friendly icons or did you drop the 'Computer User, None Technical' interface? I think this works fine as it is and could possible be detrimental to the whole Windows vs. Linux returns as is easily disabled. Netbooks are more than capable of doing a lot of stuff so I think most users try and use it as a normal PC? But then they hit that Linux brick wall and think nothing works.

Your problem

What you have there with your laptop is a kernel panic (it sounds like it anyway). You could try switching to the messages window (I think it's Ctrl + Alt + F8 on the recent Ubuntus, and Ctrl + Alt + F1 on the older ones, though I might be wrong), and sitting it there till it crashes, and read what the message is, if there is one. Kernel panics are generally caused by things like hardware failures, and faulty drivers, just like BSoDs, but obviously appear much less frequently as Linux can survive more failures than Windows and the drivers are usually well-coded. Try removing all unnecessary hardware or extra drivers, and see if that helps.

Libre.fm Streaming

Just a small correction, libre.fm does provide a streaming service compatible with last.fm's. Only free licensed (BY, BY-SA, etc.) music is streamed.


I managed to burn my toast listening to the podcast.

using sudo now

I always used to use 'su' but now i use sudo just so i can have it insult me


Played it recently, Rather fun I must say. Although if they really want to update it,they would have to make it XBallmer which, instead of installing windows on all the non-windows computers, Ballmer would just throw chairs at them to destroy them.

loving the new pyhon tutorials

Using the new python tutorial I wrote a little script that runs in the background and automatically downloads the newest tuxradar podcast.

well done to nick veitch for crearing such a great tut :)

Colonel Panic

I had a kernel panic under Ubuntu 8.04 and 6.06 (I think - at the time it was the most recent LTS version). It happened within the first few minutes of my connecting to a certain dial-up ISP, and after a bug report and a thorough Googling it turned out to be a known issue triggered (apparently) by something in the ISP's setup. Sadly either nobody read the bug reports, or anyone with the expertise to fix it had long since abandoned dialup, so I went crawling back to Mandriva.

This brings me to my big suggestion for Making People Switch: The big distros could take more care to support 'old' machines and methods! A lot of people don't upgrade their PCs any more than they have to, and it seems to me that if a long-time Windows user puts an Ubuntu CD into hir trusty old XP machine and finds they have to wait 20 minutes every time they click the mouse, they'll probably decide to stick with what they know.

If the same user happens to try a Puppy CD, they'll find it faster than Windoze even before they install it, and might be persuaded to look a bit further.

The trouble is that the likes of Ubuntu and Mandriva get all the publicity, and they seem to be optimised for a relatively new machine with a fast internet connection and a good graphics card. Try them on something a few years old and the cracks begin to show. If you spend a bit of time to change the window manager and optimise other settings, even the most bloated distro can fly, but who has the time to learn to do that on a completely alien system?

I wonder how hard it would be for Ubuntu to add a quick benchmark to its boot process and adjust the whistles and bells accordingly.

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