Podcast Season 2 Episode 23


Title: Join us!

In this episode: The KDE team rebrands KOffice into the Calligra Suite. OpenSUSE unveils a rolling release version of its distribution and Google's Chrome OS has been delayed until next year. This time, we remember our discoveries, and ask whether next year might really be the year of Linux on the desktop. Also, would you like to be part of the team?

What's in the show:

  • News:
      The KDE team has rebranded KOffice, and you should refer to it as the Calligra Suite. OpenSUSE has announced a rolling release version of its famous distribution, and it's called Tumbleweed. The Linux Foundation's latest kernel report states that over 70% of contributions come from paid developers. And Google's Chrome netbook operating system has been delayed until next year.
  • Discovery of the week:
    • Andrew:
    • Graham:
      • In KDE 4.5, you need to unlock the widgets to be able to change the desktop background mode.
      • Insight3D lets you build 3D models using lots and lots of digital photos.
    • Mike:
  • You Dare Us:
      Hear how we fared with last episode's challenge to use an unfamiliar operating system.
  • In the Hot Seat:
    • Mike clambers over the barricade to fall into the chair of chance.
  • Open Ballot: will 2011 be the year of Linux on the desktop?

  • Job Offer: If you're interested in playing a central role in the the future of both Linux Format magazine and TuxRadar.com, take a look at this job advert for our new staff writer position.

  • Special offer: subscribe to Linux Format magazine and save up to 40%

Presenters: Andrew Gregory, Graham Morrison and Mike Saunders.

Subscribe to the TuxRadar Podcast. Choose between Ogg Vorbis and MP3.

Music by Brad Sucks.

You should follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter

Your comments

Good show as always

Damn me being dyslexic, having English as a second language and having no overwhelming wish to install fedora.

And yes Mr. Wales is really really annoying. Having it pop-up 10% ish or something or actually it going away when you click the x it wouldn't have driven me to the point where I want to shoot him in the foot. It has even gotten me to the point that I no longer read wiki pages when I'm bored, on the plus side me learning bash have moved forward immensely.


I agree with graham. Shools should be using linux. It is depressing logging on and seeing all the shortcuts to ms software that no doubt cost lots of money to buy

You gotta be kidding

The LAST thing I want is having to go through the web to Download my Applications from some shady website, the way Mac OSX does it is more then questionable, having repositorys is one of the most important features of Linux compared to Mac and Windows.

Caps lock key

I used it in my database management class in college. It was for SQL statements.

Agree with Tarnus!

I too can think of nothing worse than installing apps from web pages. Repositories are a hugely important part of any particular distro's user experience. I'm not primarily an Ubuntu user but the software center is the most impressive method of installing software I've yet seen.

Re: repositories

I've got nothing against having a storage point for well-tested applications. That's great. However, the whole system of repositories and packages is another layer of complication between the user and getting stuff done.

Joe User installs Ubuntu 10.10. A couple of weeks later, Gimp 2.8 appears, full of new, awesome features. Windows and Mac users are grabbing it from the website and running it, enjoying the new goodies. Joe User checks in his "package manager", and it's not there, as Ubuntu only issues bugfix and security updates.

So Joe has to find out how to add some kind of "backports repository" (if it exists) in order to get the latest "packages" and "dependencies". All this extra complication, jargon, abstraction and cruft -- while Windows and Mac users are simply using the software.

We need to drastically, and radically, simplify. I've seen far too many forum posts where Linux users are completely bemused by the all mess and complexity. They just want to grab a new program when it's released and use it.

-- Mike


Joe User seldomly actually goes and installs the latest and greatest in software. How many people outside of the technical community do you know that actually watch all the time for updates on their software(even though they of course should)? Just imagine the mess it will create when there's no central updating of your Software anymore.

The same situation you're describing made me a small income, when I'm cleaning up windows-boxes in my family when they just downloaded some crap "anti-virus" and were wondering why their box became so horribly slow and strange pop-ups kept appearing.
Or it lead to people getting trapped by scammers who charged for free software.
And if you want the latest software, Ubuntu is the wrong distro. Use Fedora or another Distribution with another update-policy.
Doing it the way Microsoft and Apple do it, will only lead to more problems, people will start installing unstable Software or questionable crap and that will lead to even more complaints. Easier doesn't always mean better, even if marketing tries to imply that. I actually think that packagekit and Yast2(even though they are horribly slow compared to commandlineprogramms) and alike are a lot more simple then going through the web and having to search for your Application and with bad luck getting Spyware or something similar.

Well, enough for now, gotta cook myself lunch, to finish: If you want it warm in the winter, you can of course do it just the easy way and wait, and when it get's cold, set fire to a random part of your house, instead of going through all the work it costs to build in a heating installation. But on the long term it is a much better idea.



2 suggestions

1st -> The wheel of fortune(hinted by many wary listeners to be non existent) could have "points of interest" selected by democratic voting in your forum. I believe that this approach to this most beloved part of our favoured podcast would, indeed, bring more and better interaction between the community and the podcast.
2nd -> In the same stream of thought about the interaction bettering, I would also like to suggest that the best(by your own standards) comment should be prized with the honour of participating in this podcast, until this position is filled, obviously(accommodations and travel expenditures paid by the magazine or by internet connection).
Just my 50 cents.

firefox plugin

if you love KDE and Firefox, KParts plug-in is what you need. Summarizing, this plug-in uses KDE KParts within firefox. I think this is a great example of the power of open-source and also, imho, a technology that should be shared between desktops, and so renamed(re-factored) to OpenParts.

Package management

Linux definitely needs to standardize on one system, but why does everyone always quote the Microsoft way as superior? Software installation, updating and removal on a modern Linux distro must be the last word in slickness and reliability. OK, some of the descriptive names for packages are a bit unhelpful, but that's a relatively easy problem to fix, if anyone can ever be bothered to fix it. You'd rather have to trawl the web to find stuff, picking up all sorts of guff and malware along the way, with no standard installation, update or removal policies? And with Windows everything is installed in one place, not spewed out all over the file system? Ha ha ha, tried installing iTunes recently?

And well said, Graham: Linux in schools. MS lock-in is morally, financially and educationally indefensible.

Mike's book

Hey Mike there's only 1 copy of Haynes Linux Manual left on amazon... better get that cannon bj10 printing some more...

..ordered my copy for christmas....


Re: packages and repositories

I suggested that Linux software installation could be made easier, so that users can get hold of new programs as easily as they can on Windows and OS X. I didn't remotely suggest that Linux should copy the technical implementation (and deep flaws) inherent in Windows. Let's keep this in context, folks.

I've been using and writing about Linux for over 10 years. I've read thousands of forum threads. And installing new/updated programs on Linux is one of biggest source of headaches in the Linux world. I've lost count of the times I've seen users told to wait six months for a new distro release in order to get an app -- six months! And then install a whole new OS, just to get a program. When Windows and OS X users have it a few clicks away.

If you don't think that matters, then don't complain when Linux still has around 2% desktop market share in another ten years. But it really, really does matter, and the colossal amount of cruft involved in just getting a program on Linux is really holding it back.

You can talk about malware and viruses all you want, but Mac OS X users would end that argument quickly. They can get new programs in a few clicks without packages and dependencies and repositories and all the other jargon and layers. And funnily enough, installing new open source releases on Mac OS X (like when a new Gimp comes out) is much simpler on OS X than on Linux!

If we want Linux to be a better desktop OS, if we want it to get more than 2% desktop market share, we have to accept its flaws. We have to ask why users are running other OSes and what they like about them. And the countless forum threads I've read where Linux users are having horrible trouble in simply getting a new/updated program clearly indicates where one of the big problems lies.

Let's not merely put our fingers in our ears and say na-na-na.

-- Mike

Re: packages and repositories

"...installing new/updated programs on Linux is one of biggest source of headaches in the Linux world."

For officially-supported software (e.g. in the Ubuntu repositories), wouldn't this problem be fixed by rolling releases? Data from something like Debian's Popularity Contest (if everyone activated it) could be used to decide what gets top priority.

Sorry, I realize you were talking about OS X and not Windows: we agree software management on Windows is a disaster ;)
How difficult would it be to implement an OS X-style system on Linux for unofficial 3rd-party software? I mean technically, not practically? And this would live alongside the current official repository set-up (- an extremely valuable and stable resource)?

Dear Mr Shuttleworth...

Separation of base and optional.

How about a solution where the base system (the kernel and toolchain and anything else that is the absolute bare minimal required to get a linux system working) is the official release, the part of the system that is updated every six months and anything else on top of that (desktops, perhaps even Xorg) is in a separate rolling release based repository.

This allows developers to play with the toolchain to their hearts delight and allows users to keep their applications up to date.

I am aware this doesnt fix the fact files are spewed all over the file system, but GoBo Linux has a fascinating means to solve it which if it could be used by most distros could at the very least HIDE the complexity of stuff going everywhere.

Just to chime in about

Just to chime in about packages and things.

One of the most impressive things about moving from Windows XP to Ubuntu 9.04 were:

1. The incredible reliability in installing new applications. I've almost forgotten (it being a while ago) just how unreliable installing software was on Windows, you'd give it a try a few times, and see how far you got before downloading another version.

2. I loved the way I could update the OS and all the software at the same time, rather than having a pop-up everytime I started a piece of software (i.e. adobe flash, or quicktime or realplayer) asking me to update it. Arghhh!!!

3. The way that software can be completely uninstalled on Linux, without leaving the computer slow and with a messed up regedit file

4. The software repository is a fantastic idea.

I do admit I have not used Mac OS X extensively, but...

Would having separate folders for each application result in duplication of libraries on the hard disk? Isn't it more sensible to provide the libraries required to the OS, and then use these, allowing other applications to use them as well?

Secondly, if it's just a matter of 'speed' of accessing new software, maybe the problem is at the repository end. What is the problem with speedily adding new software to the official repositories? Why is it that it took an age before, for example, chromium, was available in the official repositories, and you had to add a new repository? A slow-down must be happening somewhere...

I think once you get your head around the repository idea (and most pundits can, given the success of the apple appstore) then it's a terrific system

You can remove the Wikipedia personal appeal, there's an X on it

If you click the X on the "personal appeal" with Jimmy Wales on it on Wikipedia, it disappears. I haven't seen the personal appear in months. :)


I know -- I said that in the podcast :-)

"I click the X to get rid of it, and it just keeps coming back"

Maybe it's my browsers, or maybe it's because I move between lots of different machines, but every day I seem to get at least one moment of rage where I'm reading something and then the whole text jumps down so that Jimmy Wales can be IN MY FACE!

-- Mike

Installation and packages

A few thoughts on installing stuff ...

- There's nothing stopping Linux software distributors from making statically linked versions available, to ensure that all required dependencies are met. (Skype and Opera do this, I think?)

- Do you really want to end up with Vista's winsxs folder: 5+ GB of just-in-case-we-need-it dlls?

- Do you really want OS-X's updates bulk? The update is often bigger than a Linux live distro.

The Linux way is much more efficient in terms of bandwidth and storage space, of course. Perhaps there's scope for some sort of hard-link system for pointing to several versions of core libs. to avoid duplicate downloads and storage.

And before you say that bandwidth and storage is cheap:
- it isn't so for everyone;
- should efficiency and economy be ignored, just because we can?

Oh, and OS-X could learn one thing from just about every other OS: don't litter my USB thumbdrive filesystem with OS-X-specific junk as soon as I plug it in! In fact, don't add anything unless I ask!


"It may have some flaws, but Softwareinstallation isn't one of them."

Just like that. Congratulations! With one massive, sweeping statement, you've completely dismissed all the posts on forums with Linux users struggling to install new programs. I've seen a hundreds of threads about this in the last 10 years. And with one statement, you've decreed that it's simply false, and it doesn't exist. All those users are wrong and you're right.

Denial, Egypt etc. Sorry, but I'm not going to continue in a debate that is no longer grounded in reality :-)

-- Mike


I'm right and they are wrong. Sometimes you just have to read the fucking manual, as long as computers can't read your mind. There is no magic going to pop up doing everything for you. And neither am i going to continue now, because you simply want to ignore the flaws in your arguments and I don't have time for that.

@Tarnus "It may have some

"It may have some flaws, but Softwareinstallation isn't one of them."

Tarnus, I agree with a lot of what you say, but surely there are some relatively straightforward (in theory!) steps Linux could take to make package management even easier. Like having a single de facto standard that all developers can target (apt, rpms, whatever) and a concerted effort to push new updates out much sooner: rolling releases would be a big leap forward.
Personally, I think some of the solutions we have already are better than what Mac OS X seems to offer BUT THERE ARE TOO MANY OF THEM!

LSB, packages, repos

Maybe I am totally wrong here but it seems to me the LSB is driven more by the Linux Foundation and Red Hat, rather than community desires. At the risk of suggesting Not Invented Here ideas, I wonder if a genuinely ~user~ oriented organization could assume the goal the LSB started with, and set as its first goal the creation of a common package format and a universal repo for all distros to share.

How realistic or unrealistic would this be? If the distros did not have separate package formats, repos, toolchains, would there be enough left over for them to continue to differentiate themselves (to justify their own existence to themselves, not necessarily for any user desires)? How likely is it that developers of rpm, deb, portage, etc, would work together to make a best-of-breed packaging system (inclusive of command line and GUI tools)?

If there was a universal "linux repo" for third party devs to target, I suppose individual distros could still opt to turn on or off (by default anyhow) support for "non-free" channels in the universal repo, et al.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be Mac OS X options to ~supplement~ the repos; the repos were one thing I did very much like after switching over to Linux. But I think software providers who have no vested interest in the success or failure of Linux might be more likely to ~package~ apps if there were a single packaging platform to target (for people who like packages, as opposed to tarballs).

Linux fragmentation

In general, is the fragmentation inherit in Linux something that can actually be resolved in the Linux community, or would you have to create Yet Another Unix-Like OS to do something like that?

Thanks guys

Great podcast guys... thanks and keep up the good work.


Standards adherence is what is needed

Regarding the package management discussion, personally, I do not think it matters how many package formats there are.

It simply (in thought, not necessarily in initial implementation given the vast differences there currently are between distros) comes down to getting ALL the distros to adhere to the LSB.

If all file systems are laid out in the same way and all packages are consistently named, it would not matter what type of package you install. It will place all the files in exactly the same place, with the same name, as any other type of package of the same name would.

So I think we need to be working on getting the distros on board with strict LSB adherence (not as it currently is - I'll interpret this to mean x even though they interpret it to mean y, or I'll install libraries in /usr/local/share even though they install them in /usr/share).

Another benefit of this strict LSB adherence would be the possible support of certain software vendors with their products, be it games or the ubiquitous iTunes support for Linux (currently a big turn off on general populous adoption of Linux) as the vendor would only need to produce 1 package for all distros.

To sum up, I certainly think getting strict LSB adherence among the distros would knock down a great many barriers to the "Year of Linux on the desktop" goal so many seem to aspire to.


Package management

Well, the problem would be to make it big enough. To make it work, at least the three or four big ones had to agree to do more standardizing, otherwise I doubt the community itself will be able to organize itself and become big enough to actually do something.
Just making a new Distribution and declaring it as the new standard won't be enough I'm afraid.

But we'll have to see, perhaps a big agreement happens sometime in the future :)



Yes, am looking for work.

Actually, no seriously, I am looking for work. Having very little other than wordiness and a particular interest in linux, writing for a magazine does have some attraction to me as an occupation.

You would however have to offer something a little more than just great pub life, excellent music and warm summer afternoons. I have no overseas experience at all. Never been further than Magnetic Island. And of course I have no proper portfolio at all. So if it's at all possible, I would jump at the chance.

I don't even have a passport or a visa. It would be the height of egotism to even contemplate that you might, but I would be interested in expanding my horizons.

Given that you also have at last a decent cricket team, it would be a definate plus to be able to maybe watch county cricket matches and laugh and joke and have a beer.

One advantage I have that other applicants may not have: I take myself extremely seriously, to the extent of really funny uproariousness. You would justify the plane ticket alone to have me there.

Plus of course, I might get a chance to go visit Dad who is now in Budapest. Just how cheap is accomodation over there? And will I need warm blankets?

Just a semi-serious attempt at maybe offering for a job. What's the reimbursement really like? And the opportunity to write for a living, does have it's own benefits.

Actually it's negotiable.

Once again, take care, Have a great and a safe christmas, and best regards,


Win that Job

0) Remember that the employment decision is made by corporate-aware 'human resource' types at Future Publishing plc.

1) Move to the UK immediately; even though it's advertised worldwide, the reality is that unless you're already a serious open source contributor, you won't get a look-in from overseas.

2) Remember, possessive 'its' does *not* have an apostrophe.

3) Start every second sentence with an adverb:--

* "Sadly, the app is missing..."
* "Excellently, the devs have included..."
* "Absurdly, a search for 'xetex' didn't reveal..."

4) Include your attempts to follow a few of Michael J. Hammel's Gimp tutorials, thereby pretending that you also have graphic design skills.

5) Check carefully for unnecessarily repeated words words.

6) End your sample review with: "Fedora 14 is rock-solid, graphically slick, and stocked to the gills with everything you need."

Caps Lock key and my dad

My dad uses the Caps Lock key all the time. He lost his right hand (from the wrist) and therefore when he needs to write capital letters he toggles the Caps Lock key.

There might be a way for him to achieve that functionality with sticky keys but he's not the person who un-learns something without a hard, long fight.

There are other stupid keys to remove before removing Caps Lock. I don't think I've ever used Pause and Break, nor SysRq or ScrLk. And hitting Insert by accident made me restart my computer many times over the years before I realised.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: