Podcast Season 2 Episode 2

Podcast

Title: Badger Dog

In this episode: Nokia and Intel combine Maemo with Moblin to create MeeGo. OpenOffice.org 3.2 is here, and it's fast. We report back on our experiences of avoiding the command line and ask whether we'll ever use KDE 4.4.

What's in the show

  • News: Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo platforms are merging into a single project called MeeGo. OpenOffice.org 3.2 has been released and promises to be faster. And OggCamp is back and is a being held in Liverpool on the 1st and 2nd of May.
  • You Dare Us:
    • We report back on our experiences of avoiding the command line and pick a new challenge for the next episode.
  • Discovery of the week:
    • Paul:
    • Mike: Installing a game called Viking by typing apt:viking into the Firefox location bar.
    • Graham: The barely functional WebSlice widget in KDE 4.4.
    • Andrew: A Nokia phone running Symbian.
  • In the Hot Seat
    • This episode's victim is Andrew Gregory.
  • Open Ballot: Will you take KDE 4.4 for a spin?

  • 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

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

anything but complaints?

I'm only 11 minutes into your program, but I just have to wonder... do you have anything positive to say?

Okay, so Open Office isn't perfect, but how is it a bad thing that Ubuntu responded to "USER" input? Perhaps you're really not interested in viewer opinions? Maybe you won't even read this?

And as for MeeGo. You don't find anything positive about the endeavor of a truly open source linux development effort for mobile phones? Android does not fill this void. I think the fact that Intel and Nokia - two large companies with extensive combined resources - are putting an effort into this is positive for the linux community. We may end up with the ultimate capacity in portable linux computing. Where do you think we would be today if it were not for Bell Labs and other industry research efforts?

It's much easier to complain than to contribute!

The thing that most confuses me is...

pulseaudio.

PS:Isn't sketchpad the early 60s program that was written by Sutherland that inspired Alan Kay ro create Smalltalk and inspired Parc?

audio on linux

Graham asked in the podcast about suggestions for areas of Linux that need to be demystified - for me, the thing which has given me the most grief is audio. I remember Graham himself said in a previous episode that audio on Linux has so much potential but yet is a bewildering mess with there being so many different layers - pulseaudio, jack, oss, alsa, esd, firebob or whatever it's called. I think it would be great if Graham elaborated more on the relationship between the different sound layers in Linux and what this means in practice to someone like myself who would like to create music on Linux. I have had major issues getting Jack to work and to be honest don't understand many of the options in QJackctl. Also I don't know how to make different jack applications integrate nor different input sources (audio, midi etc.). Also the LADSPA plugins are confusing to me. Whereas Garageband and Logic have intuitive names such as 'Funk guitar' or 'Country Guitar' which give me an idea what they sound like, LADSPA plugins have names such as 'Bandlimited Variable Slope Triangle Oscillator (FCSA)' or 'DAHDSR Envelope with Control Gate and Trigger (Control Inputs)' which mean absolutely nothing to me. Also for my soundcard ubuntu gives me so many options I don't know where I am. I realise that having all these options and flexibility could be very powerful but power means nothing if you don't know how to use it and I don't. It is obvious from the forums that I am not the only one who finds these things hard.

@first time

@first time listener: I'd say the same to you, complainer!

Actually I've noticed that yes, TuxRadar is a negative podcast sometimes. Considering the huge lack of Linux software negativity, however, I'll take someone talking about how something could be a lot better. If you want a podcast where people spooge happiness and priase, pick a card, any card. They're dime a dozen.

LXF a good place to work?

Something I've noticed over the past few podcasts is the laughter in the background. There you are, discussing this or that about Linux (or should that be GNU/Linux? - I'm not sure if there was a result from your discussion,) and there in the background is the laughter.

May be you need a sound proofed studio or a more dominant boss in the office! ;¬)

Time

I'm just having a second listen to the podcast (yes I'm that sad) and heard reference to the second decade of the twenty-first century. As there was no year zero we are still in the first decade, the second decade starts in twenty-eleven.

audio

The audio quality on this episode is atrocious (both ogg and mp3). Please, Do something about it.

The future magazine feature thing mentioned

I am very confused about the command line/console things, so would it be possible for you to put a list of console commands (not just the 10 basic ones) and a help guide about it?

KDE Versus Gnome

Each to their own... People stick to what they know, as many a Windows user has done after trying some form of Linux.

To me the podcast team sound exactly the same when complaining about KDE compared to GNOME: complaints over minor annoyances even though GNOME has it's own that you are simply used to; not bothering to find an albeit slightly hidden option or even to ask for help. The (percieved) path of least resistance is to stick to GNOME

I have used KDE since I started using Linux with a special Linux Format that focused on Kubuntu 6.06 in 2007. KDE was recommended because it was easier for new users than Ubuntu and GNOME. I soon tried Xubuntu and Ubuntu but settled with Kubuntu because it was faster than Ubuntu on my laptop and with more options than XFCE. Also I was lured by the promise of KDE4.

I have used all versions of KDE from 3.5 to 4.4 today. 4.0 was disappointing I have continued to follow the development and have used KDE almost daily since 4.2. I know it is a moving target; all those features and bugfixes actually do yield improvements and of course there's room for more, especially polishing and usability improvements.

I could list a few things I don't like about GNOME *and* KDE but I won't bother. I appreciate KDE more but I don't preach. It just works for me and I enjoy it. However, I feel I can rightly be proud and not embarrassed if I were to show it off to Mac/Windows users.

I am a fellow Briton but you guys seriously embarrass me! In your podcast you sound like a group of teenagers thinking they can impress girls by seeing who can be the most sarcastic. Surely all the users of KDE (there's not only me is there?) and all the developers must be idiots (to quote Torvalds), not to listen to your wisdom and convert to GNOME?

It can only be a matter of time before you become GNOME Format. I think I'll exercise my choice and not listen to you guys in the future.

Dachshund

Yes, "Dach" means roof in German, but the dog is called "Dach_s_hund". "Dachs" is pronounced completely different and just means badger.

Agree on the audio quality...

Just to agree with Paul S, the audio quality in this month's podcast is indeed pants, in comparison to what went before.

Viking (in Ubuntu at least) is not a game...

Quoting parts of the package description:

"""
Viking aims to be easy to use, yet powerful in accomplishing a wide variety of GPS related tasks. It uses a hierarchical layering system to organize GPS data, maps, and other layer types with spatial data, such as coordinate lines.
"""

Hate ?

Love the podcast, but whats with all the KDE hate ?
KDE 4x is pretty, 3d useable and MODERN ..
Gnome is tired .. sorry.. its plain, dumbed-down and
i dont understand why some technical Linux users complain
about 'too many features and tweaks' and in the same breath extol the virtues of an OS that you can tweak to your hearts delight.. it seems a rather strange position to be in.
i'm not a Gnome hater, no way, i started Linux in 1998 and have seen these two D.E.'s develop, Gnome has changed little and looks stale and flat, with simple features just disabled because you cant trust users judgements or confuse the poor little fellas. this is dumbing down and smacks of the 'we know better' attitude of propriety vendors work. its just insulting our intelligence and by implication, we are all presumed dumb users.
KDE assumes users know what they are doing, and lets them make their own choices, in much the same ethos of free software, user choice. you are not forced to go tweaking,
but you have the option without grappling with the eerily similar windows registry look-alike Gconf editor.
please no.
I have had plenty of problems with KDE 4x .. but it isn't pulseaudio exectly, but Phonon bugs and lack of features and occasional plasma crashes are lamentable, but will improve, its not 1999 and PC hardware has moved on, so must OS's and GUIs .. but you still have choice.. good old free software.
i may seem defensive of KDE but after 20 odd years of handling various GUIs i think i can find my way around KDE4
i think everyone can, i enjoy the light-hearted banter but it can snowball into the 'religious wars' of years gone by.
Less Hate Please .. ?
Mark

Openoffice disrespect!?

Seriously guys I can't believe how much ye disrespect Openoffice and the developers.

Openoffice maybe isn't pretty but its certainly very functional. Try Openoffice 3.2 before dissing Openoffice some more.

Version 3.2 is much, much faster. Its a more efficient program in terms of resources. It has smooth scrolling just like MS Office 2007 and supports the majority of MS Office 2007 files except Access which lots of casual users don't use anyway!

The Openoffice development team has done a great job and I would love to hear some real praise from ye to make up for those years of disrespect and sarcasm!

Clarification of Linux

I have been using Linux full time since 2007 and the one thing that people never get right while I introduce them to Linux is Desk Top Environments and Window Managers. Many people have tried to clarify this but this is a foreign concept for Windows and OS X users. I can't count how many new users say they are going to install KDE for them to use a single KDE application or KDE user signing into Gnome to run a gtk app.

Me too about the hate

Best Linux cast by far, but....
I do feel the community needs some objective critical introspection, but guys, there is a limit. When someone utters "I won't try KDE4.4, its crap" I just wonder why you have a podcast about Linux news; surely all of you should at least try it before bashing it.
More on KDE. I think the experiences are very closely linked to the distribution they try it on. My ArchLinux hums perfectly with KDE4.4, I tried to update a friends Kubuntu and it was just a disaster! OpenSUSE was marginally better.
Just my 2c worth.

KDE Comments

Well Im not a KDE user but I can understand how the KDE users feel. It seems that even the KDE user in Tuxradar does not stand up for KDE.

I did try KDE 4.3 and I must say I found nothing I could rant about. Im not going to say anything negative about KDE, I just found its not for me.

Re: KDE Comments

Dylan, I understand your view, sure if it is not for you thats fine. At least you tried it. (you should really try again in the future, its getting there).
I feel the same about Gnome, every now and then I boot into it and just feel lost; feels like computing in the 90' (very Win98-sh). Again its just a feeling I have, no technical issues that I have.

@Ron

No, Rome was built in Italy! :P

Linux Demystified

An Idea:
Start a series of articles based on the idea of demystifying linux. That way you can write the "book" in installments.

People Also Don't Understand Updating

Disclaimer: I use KDE 4.3.5 and I really like it. I think this is not a KDE issue but a concept issue for new Linux users.

Another Idea to clarify for new users:

We'll my neighbor just "updated" KUbuntu to 4.4 and it took me 15 minutes of explaining the difference between Linux distribution official updates from their repos and more cutting edge and developing repos work. How just because some new major application update is available doesn't mean it's an "official" update, but more cutting edge and can cause havoc adventure. Then they say, "you told me to keep my system updated." :)

Gnome-do

I found in the latest edition of Linux format talk about how great Gnome-do is. Gnome-do is great, in fact its brilliant.
But there is something that has always puzzled me.

Why for instance wouldn't the people @ KDE not simply rip off or copy Gnome-do for there project. Gnome-do is clearly the best program launcher of its type so why wouldn't you just rip it off instead off trying to do your own lesser version?

contact

What is the tuxradar email address?

I would like to email them a question about buying linux laptops, any maybe adding it into the podcast for a linux newbie like myself.

Thanks

Matt

Maemo

Thanks for the podcast - I enjoyed it a lot.

Personally very excited about maemo - what other mobile phone can you sudo gainroot into? Or use firefox or openoffice (if you wish - it still has the most comprehensive native browser that can run full flash if it needs to). Also has a very elegant multitasking system.

In terms of demystifying linux - can you explain to me some things...

1. How does Linux's roots in Unix's big mainframe computers of the 70's affect linux today? I.e. when computers used to be one large mainframe with several terminals attached to it - is that of any use to us nowadays - or does my laptop function as a sort of combined mainframe+terminal? Can I connect a load of terminals to my computer and have several users use my computer at the same time? How is this different to cloud computing or servers and clients?

2. What advantages/disadvantages does the monolithic kernel have for desktop use? Does my kernel have drivers for every possible hardware configuration out there, or is the kernel built/trimmed when I installed ubuntu? If it's the former, does this slow down linux? If it's the latter, will my laptop not work if I change some of the hardware?

3. What is X?

4. Is it legally possible to sell 'free' or open source software? I.e. software that allows you to modify the source, but that must still be paid for/require a paid license to use.

5. Can you explain the file structure - I'm sure it makes sense to someone else, but I don't get it!

Thanks!

@bigbrovar

<< Not something that was clouded by your obvious bias for clutter and gtk >>

We're not biased towards GTK. In fact, we haven't released any GTK apps ourselves, whereas we have released several Qt apps.

<< While the netbook UI of moblin may receive a major UI change due to its move to Qt from gtk/clutter >>

This is one of the things we have a big problem with. UNR had shown that Clutter gets things done very quickly. And while not everyone liked the Moblin UI, it was easy to use and very, very fast. Right now, Maemo bundles Qt but uses GTK, which means neither Moblin nor Maemo use Qt. So for MeeGo to say, "OK, let's toss away everything BOTH our projects are using and switch to Qt" just smacks of Nokia being desperate to justify its Trolltech purchase.

<< hence a developer only needs to write and application once and be guaranteed that it would run on all Qt based platforms >>

This is where we fundamentally disagree. This. Simply. Isn't. True. If you make an app that does something really nicely on a netbook, it'll look awful on a Symbian phone. The screen resolution difference is crazy. The input method is completely different. The difference in the amount of RAM and CPU power available could be as much as 10x.

When you play Bejeweled on an iPhone, it looks great because it was designed to work exactly at 320x480. If Apple had a dozen different devices with a dozen different screen resolutions, it'd be much harder to do, and apps wouldn't look so good. It's no surprise, therefore, that Microsoft has laid down a number of hard rules about phones that will run its new Windows Mobile 7 OS - they have to have exactly the same screen resolution, they all have to have a touch screen, they all have to have the same number of hardware buttons, etc.

So: while a plain Qt app may indeed run on everything from a little Symbian phone to a widescreen iMac, "running" isn't the same as "being useful". You may well remember the old Java joke, "write once crash anywhere".

<< If you look at the maemo road-map you would see that even though its running gtk. Maemo6 is planned to be based on Qt using QML as an animation framework. >>

This is irrelevant. What you're saying is that Nokia bought Trolltech two years ago, and they still haven't managed to standardise on it. Qt is an awesome UI toolkit. UML is incredibly clever. But it's not being used even on Nokia's own devices - all they do is bundle it. Saying, "but the next version will build on Qt!" is lovely, but things are always nicer in "the next version."

UNR turned around a working Clutter GUI for its very first version. It ran on all netbook hardware, with beautiful acceleration. Qt is far more advanced. QML is far more clever. But Clutter is being used on real netbooks, and it's being used today.

<< basing the argument on package management is pretty narrow >>

The argument wasn't based on package management; that was just one of several reasons. The fact that the Linux Foundation prefers RPM is beside the point - APT is the de facto standard, and we eagerly await the day when the community recognises that and we actually have a de jure standard that matches the de de facto standard.

<< Will it succeed? Well we would have to wait and see >>

We're Linux journalists. Contrary to what you seem to think, we spend our days thinking, reading and writing about things like Moblin and MeeGo. We can't just shrug our shoulders and say "oh well, time will tell."

Just look at the MeeGo.com site and tell us what you see. Any software released? No. Any community resources? No. Any projects using MeeGo? No. Any downloads whatsoever? No. All MeeGo is at this time is a somewhat shoddy brand name that brings together two projects that were doing just fine independently. And, to be blunt, the free software community doesn't have much truck with brand name bingo - we want to see results.

When we read words like "The MeeGo garage is going to offer some of the coolest open source software applications you've seen!" (that's from MeeGo.com) we expect to see that backed up with something - anything - firm that proves it's not just nice marketing speak.

MeeGo might very well prove to be the catalyst that transform Linux in the mobile space. But we can't talk about what might be, what may be, what could be, or what we wish things would be one day. Instead, we talk about what we have right now, and that is this: a crude collision of two vastly different projects that struggles to show anything beyond its press release.

We hope that will change.

@TuxRadar

I am glad you took some time to further explain you point of view. I would have really appreciated if the above analysis was used in your podcast so that many of us listeners can have deeper understanding of you take on issues.

In general I agree with you on the issue of a Qt platform being the Unknown compared to GTK which has been tried and tested time and again with maemo, moblin and UNR performing very well each time. Nokia seems to want to tie all their product UI to Qt because there are looking at making developing apps for maemo and symbian very easy. But has you have observed we are yet to see a working implementation of a Qt based UI anywhere so its a case of the devil we know.

Concerning the portability of Qt. Well maybe I made it look too simplistic. But the idea is that porting applications writing in Qt from say symbian to meego or maemo wont be very painful. Although it doesn't mean apps would work across the platform OOTB. and obviously some work would still need to be down in respect of screen resolutions, processor, hardware requirements of the different platforms running Qt. Still I completely agree with you concerning the issue of programming for the lowest common denominator. If Nokia is not careful Qt would because the new Java runtime for mobile phones. (which is not a good precedent considering the fact that .jar never took off and most JavaME based apps are crap. not one killer app came of that framework)

To be frank I rather have maemo and moblin run as separate projects. But am not surprised with this merger. Both the maemo and moblin community are still yet to react to the merger. Which seems to be more of a horrid business decision than one based on technical requirements (hences the lack of anything meaningful in the meego websites.)

In all it would be nice to see this type of analysis on your podcasts It would help us listeners to understand the issues better and make you positions much clearer.

Gnome-do is not the best to me

Gnome-do uses mono and I don't have any problems with mono, but why have mono in KDE 4 when its not needed.

Also Krunner is a much more useful application to me. I am always frustrated with Gnome-do. Krunner has plug ins and is very configurable like Gnome-do. I personally like Krunner more.

-Marc

You're a bit harsh on MeeGo...

...considering it's been announced what, less than two weeks ago? And you already want a shipped device? :)

Maemo and Moblin did ship devices already, and they were awesome in my opinion; in particular Maemo didn't explode like Android only because of three elements (IMHO):
1. Java programmers are a dime a dozen, and Java is easier to pick up than C++. Motivated C++ programmers are already invested in iPhone development, and they're unlikely to switch.
2. the Ovi Store has been an embarrassment.
3. Intel and (especially) Nokia didn't really believe in the products. The N900 is an awesome device that needed just a little bit more polish (and a better touchscreen) to blow the iPhone out of the water, but the Nokia management considered it a geek toy and even failed to anticipate demand to the point where they couldn't literally produce enough devices. They had to catch-up with their own customers, which was weird to see.

I suspect points 2 and 3 will be fixed with the N910, coming out later this year, and the ongoing effort on Ovi.

Point 1 is harder to fix; the next best language for Qt is Python, but Nokia don't believe in it for various reasons. They are also pushing the javascript-based "Web Runtime" which may or may not work, but is fundamentally oriented to low-power Symbian phones at the moment. Maybe Intel will bring a smarter approach; for example they could try appealing to the Ruby community, which does have Qt bindings already (although I don't know if they're as good as the Python ones).

From a philosophical perspective, the Linux world stands to benefit more from MeeGo (which is 100% open-source and built on the classic OSS ecosystem) than Android (where Linux is just a kernel that could be replaced tomorrow if Google said so). I don't think bashing the effort even before it has had a chance to deliver is fair :)

Build your own distro challenge...

Love the podcast and the magazine, keep it up.
So, where can I find your custom distros?

Hot topic suggestion

The songs from the Ubuntu Music Store are going to be available in MP3 format instead of Open source alternatives Ogg Vorbis or Flac. Should Canonical have insisted that open formats were available? Does selling songs exclusively in MP3 format undermine the work of those, such as the Xiph foundation, who have developed the open source codecs? The Tuxradar podcast is available in both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis - should the material on the Ubuntu One Music Store be the same? Incidentally, I'm just curious, but what is the ratio of MP3 Downloads to Ogg Vorbis Downloads for the Tuxradar podcast? What is the future for Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora and other free codecs and are we fighting a losing battle if we try to support them?

@roland rat Many ppl listen

@roland rat
Many ppl listen to podcasts on the move. Alas most portable players don't support ogg (including my android phone!), so I expect mp3 will win out here as well as everywhere else.

gnome ore negativity

Of course it is important that we have the right to dissent and we shouldn't be fawning in our praise towards a project just because it's open source. However, you've got to be consistent - it is so stark the contrast - you can never find a good word to say about kde whereas gnome can seemingly do no wrong.

For instance,

"KDE is floundering in every possible direction to try to introduce what they call innovation but it doesn't actually make anything more usable or effective."

Couldn't you say the same about gnome shell?

No, your praise of gnome shell is gushing eventhough it is arguably a solution in search of a problem and, at the moment, is basically a combination of desktop activities and a widget layer of launchers, things which you are so scathing about in KDE.

I don't have a problem with you preferring gnome (I am predominantly a gnome user myself) but if it is so far superior to KDE then why do so many millions of users continue to prefer KDE. Are all of these people irrational KDE fanboys? I believe, if you're fair, you will recognise that both desktops have merit and gnome's superiority is not as black and white as your podcast would suggest. You make it sound like KDE is so far behind Gnome they might as well give up.

Also in that episode where you tested KDE for a fortnight if I am correct you used Kubuntu. Canonical channel most of their resources into Ubuntu (I have heard that there is only one fulltime Kubuntu developer at Canonical) and so Kubuntu is obviously likely to lack the polish of Ubuntu. This is illustrated by the way that Ubuntu one integration in Kubuntu lags far behind that of the main Ubuntu gnome version. Perhaps a fairer test would have been to use a more predominately KDE based distro such as Mandriva or Suse or better yet vanilla KDE with Arch or Slackware. Also Graham complained that installing 4.4 broke his system, but surely that is a package management problem with his distribution not with KDE.

Also surely there are some good things KDE has got which gnome lacks. For instance the Youtube video applet in Amarok which offers useful functionality absent in Banshee and Rhythmbox, the way that Digikam allows you to manage videos as well as photos, unlike f-spot, and it's versatile bulk rename and editing features, as well as 3D geolocation with Marble embedded - all without parallel in f-spot. I also find the terminal emulator in konqueror handy and the kparts and kioslaves and believe KDE is the best DE in aesthetic terms, which although a bit shallow is important for many, and eyecandy helps encourage new users to try linux.

Also as regards configurability, ok - options can be buried, but at least they are there. To configure gnome beyond a basic level requires basically a hack to get it the way you want. If you recall this is what Linus Torvalds found so exasperating in his "Gnome treat users like idiots" rant. Mike and Paul complained that they couldn't find stuff, but they are used to gnome. Perhaps if they used kde for years and then tried gnome for 2 weeks, they would find the experience similarly disorientating. We are creatures of habit and have a general tendency [often subconcious] to dislike things that we are not so familiar with.

Also KDE 4.4 is a vastly different beast to 4.0 or even 4.2. Condemning the whole KDE 4 series just because early versions were hit and miss is like denouncing a distro on the basis of an early alpha iso - not really fair.

Also there is a saying "the proof of the pudding is in the eating". Is it fair to criticise something that you admit you "haven't got the time to try"?

So if you're going to be critical OK, but you should have a dig at gnome from time to time and say where you think gnome is lacking and don't always pick on KDE.

Sound on/in linux

It has been a BANE in my life. I wanted so much to be able to use RoseGarden, synth emulation and all sorts of stuff and it is the bane of my life getting anything in regards to sound working in linux. It's is so frustrating and really it has put me off so often.

I don't mean to sound negative (pun intended!) but seriously it just is -argggh -

I know there has to be a way to get this sort of stuff to work. I know there are people working on it, really seriously working hard at getting it done and I don't mean to disparage their work, but it's a real issue and sorting out which of the various types of sound "solutions" or driver/OS systems will be the best is hard for someone to work out. OSS used to work, ALSA was supposed to work and yet we have about 4 different options and none of them do everything - that's to be expected, I just don't know which will be the winner... and to be honest I don't want to get into the fight, I want something that will work and do what I need it to do.

And right now, it still seems that there isn't a clear winner.

Mike - Bankstown.

I'm reminded of the Ali G

I'm reminded of the Ali G nursery rhyme which ends with "The clock struck two, I dumped MeeGoo and I dropped her at the end of the block."

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