And, is that necessarily a bad thing?
Sometimes I feel like I’m watching Ubuntu running quickly towards a big cliff.
Recently, it was hinted/announced that Gnome would be dropped as Ubuntu’s default desktop, and x.org dropped as the x server. The mint Distro has forked itself to produce a pure Debian distro, which was what Ubuntu was supposed to be (sort of) when I signed up for it, which I take to be a reaction by the minters of Mint to Ubuntu’s increasing non-Debian-ness. At the same time Ubuntu is trying to be all forward moving and stuff, yet it is unable for some reason to provide non GPL but free and legal drivers so that when Ubuntu is installed on grandma’s laptop in an environment where there is no plug-in LAN, the user is SOL and has to do what to most is tricky hacking stuff just to get a single, simple switch thrown so their computer will work (same with some video drivers).
(Read more below the fold. Warning: Photograph of woman on nude beach, may not be work safe.)
What I don’t know is this: Is the cliff Ubuntu is heading for the one at La Jolla, where you run at the cliff wearing a big brightly colored wind sail and then when you jump off fly around free as a bird circling over the famous Black’s (nude) Beach several hundred feet below …
… on the edge of the beautiful Pacific ocean with whales and sea otters frolicking about, until you land safely just in time for a cappuccino and fat free muffin at the local Starubkcs?
Or is it running towards a high rocky cliff wearing one of those old fashioned “I can fly like a bird with these mechanical wings” outfits, and upon leaping off the cliff, crashing to the rocky shores below?
Either way, I want to get myself some insurance, so I’m going to follow Linux in Exile’s advice and install the new version of Fedora on at least one machine so I can start to learn it. I consider this a Linux Distro Survivalist Strategy, but instead of learning how to flintknap and make my own medicine, I’ll be using the main, most developed alternative non-Debian system. On a third computer, I’ll install a pure Debian distro, possibly the one from Mint.
It may well be that the future Ubuntu distros will be fantastic. Actually, I have no doubt they will be. But they are leaving behind one of the great features of Linux: You can run it on shit. With every Ubuntu announcement about desktop or X or graphics drivers, there is a mention of how the future Ubuntu will kick ass in the 3D graphics department. Do you now what 3D graphics are? Do you design 3D graphics? Do you do three body problems in physics? None of that matters. 3D graphics, in this context, is this: When you open or close a window, instead of appearing or disappearing, it does a dance first. When you move a window it wiggles like jelly. That sort of thing.
I do like the desktop ability to show all open apps as little icons and such when you press a secret button, but all the other 3D stuff I don’t really need, and I do not feel that I should commit to an operating system distro that intends to require me to upgrade my computer every two or three years to keep up with its eye candy. The eye candy is nice, and it will “sell” more Linux (and more hardware, btw) but it is not my main objective.
Ubuntu did start out, to some extent, as a distro for the masses, or at least, a distro go get the masses involved in Linux. But now, on the symbol of Ubuntu, the multi-toned hands holding each other in the touchy-feely ring are going to be wearing Rolex Watches, because running an eye-candy maximizing system will require current hardware, which is not free.
I’m thinking of running Enlightenment on Debian on an older single monitor desktop, Fedora 14 on my two-head box, and a version of mint on my main laptop. On an old broken laptop I have, I may run a scaled down Linux distro like DSL using a python script as a shell that interprets all key presses as the same exact command which, in turn, randomly changes a displayed picture or starts/stops some music. That would be Huxley’s ax.
Then, in a few years when I’ve saved up for a tripple-quad-quad AMD doubleclocked superprocessor with a MegaForce 9Zillion Four Head Graphics card, I’ll hook my Avant Stellar up to that suckah, install Ubuntu Nematid 23.04 and cook a turkey dinner on it while I exploit the full featured world of 3D graphics while typing stuff in emacs, which is mainly what I do.
That will be cool. Unnecessary, but cool.