Free men are not equal, equal men are not free.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nope. It's Not Elementary Yet.

Even as I'm listening long-time Apple fanboy Andy Ihnatko take them to task on MacBreak Weekly for what I fully agree is a crappy waste of money in their active function bar, I've been exploring alternatives.

Personally, I'm pretty happy with Mint, but it shares with most linux distros some rough appearance edges, especially in the cursors, though that has vastly improved. I find the changes in Ubuntu an eyesore, and can get around CentOs/Fedora but prefer Debian-style package management to Fedora.

No Suse. Ran OK on a toasterbox, but since decided CentOs or Ubuntu were more my speed on the server side.

Given that the open-source world is experiencing some convergence issues, and the Mint dev team would rather you not use their distro if you don't agree to social justice politics, I still keep my eyes out, and recently decided to give ElementaryOS a shot.

Nope. Not until the next major rev.

Let's leave aside the attempt to force a donation for download (you can manually enter a zero, but they don't provide that as a default option, so IMO it crosses the border from simply and prominently asking for donations as LibreOffice does), or the statement, apparently retracted, that if you don't donate you're cheating.

For me, personally, the Loki release has been a buggy mess. Yes, I'm aware that for many people it's been fast and stable. Yes, I've had a couple odd glitches in hardware support, especially hardware support, with Mint, Centos, and Ubuntu. There's a difference though between "odd glitches" and the mess I dealt with.

First, VMWare. I didn't want to buy a different box, or more to the point, wanted to try it without carrying two computers. First install borked itself - no longer remember why - and second seemed to run OK, until suddenly everything would slow to an unresponsive crawl. Several tries at troubleshooting later I decided to set aside time with a borrowed laptop.

Now, maybe I should have tried an HP, a Dell, or a Lenovo, but I had a Toshiba at hand, and certainly the USB boot environment seemed fine. Took me three installs though and several tweaks to UEFI/legacy modes before the installer - 64 bit - finally was happy in letting the laptop reboot into the installed OS instead of giving me "no OS found" style messages.

For comparison, I've installed Win 7,8,8.1, and 10 across numerous platforms without similar issues, and ditto Ubuntu, CentOs, and Mint. One set of donated desktops did require me to pull the BIOS protection jumpers the previous users had engaged.

What I got seemed functional. It networked, browser loaded, but here comes the second part that pisses me off about eOS/Luna. They hobbled the app installer to a reduced set of approved sources. The steps to go through to get access to using ppa's and .deb packages aren't hard - once you've done some googling - but are not by any sense of the term "discoverable" within the OS or it's settings.

The real kicker though was running the OS updater, and having the entire computer interface freeze up on me beyond moving the mouse cursor, in stages. First, one of the windows full-screened on me, but the closure buttons disappeared. I could still access the file system, but then the top menu and dock locked up, so all I had was the file system window, no icons, but clickable lapels and button stubs. Then that froze up. No keyboard entries, no nothing. In the middle of a core OS update.

Needless to say, after waiting futilely for a couple hours, I finally held the power button for five seconds, and predictably, the machine would not boot after that.

I put my Mint installer .iso on a thumb drive and gave it a shot. It installed, worked fine, ran updates, etc.

So. On one hand, it looks amazing - and other distros should look at it as an example of not necessarily a style to emulate but as an inspiration that aesthetic beauty matters in something you work with constantly. Yes, I'm looking at you, Ubuntu. Ditto the built in mail client, etc.

They also had excellent instructions for windows on exactly how to download Rufus (with a link) and use it to generate a functional boot USB.

But the developer attitude sucks, and the consistency of stability across hardware platforms is not as good as what I'm used to working with.


  1. For a small bootable portable or recovery distro, Puppy Linux and DamnSmallLinux.

    XFCE and LXDE desktops beat out Gnome 3. IMO. Mint's Cinnamon and Mate desktops are superb. Mint is a great distro that by-in-large, just seems to work. It's my media box-of-choice for videos and music.

    I'm a Debian (or Devuan) or Slack user on main desktops. Again, rough edges, but then, I'm not doing high-end media graphics/video or studio music.

    Tried Virtualbox versus the VMWare?

    1. Didn't try virtualbox. While I've had fair luck with it and Windows guests, my experience in mint, ubuntu, etc. has been mixed. May give that a shot. As it is, I like Mint well enough, despite the lack of google-auth handling mail clients (yes, you can use2-factor per-app passwords), contact sync (if you use thunderbird you can sync contacts, with a plugin, but really?) and only evolution talks to exchange.

      I've had some variant of mint running in a VM for the last three years. Current version gets a minimum of an hour a day of use. Email and a couple app integration issues for mac/adobe apps are the biggest reasons I haven't jumped already, but mint is soo damn close.

      To be fair to linux, even Windows doesn't have the plethora of decent mail clients that the Mac does.