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Linux - by kids and for kids. The big thing.

Posted 03-14-2009 at 07:55 PM by AGer

I upgraded to KDE 4.2.1 and XFCE 4.6 in Slackware current. KDE got some fixes (as promised) and XFCE got some polish (all by surprise). The net result is that I spent almost a whole day in a vicious circle making configuration changes to KDE, switching to XFCE, making configuration changes there, and going back to KDE until I was reasonably sure that at this time I like XFCE better. Meanwhile I got errors that are a good reason to write what I always wanted to cry about.

In order to create the context for the post I have to explain, for those who do not do Slackware, that Slackware current is considered to be unstable, while some other distros, especially those doing "rolling release", may use "current" to designate their latest stable version. So, the rant is not about the errors discovered, it is about the feeling they create if one opts to track them to their ultimate source.

The big thing is that I used the reset button heavily looking for possible ways to configure media players. With wrong configuration and advanced desktop features on, be it KDE or simpler XFCE composer, the system hangs.

This problem is not new and the 2 common answers are: 1) the culprit is the proprietary video driver we do not control and cannot replace, and 2) naturally composer and accelerated video compete for the same resources.

How remarkably childish!

1. Yes, Open Source developers do not control proprietary drivers, but they do control the interface to them. The video driver transfers data one way from a program to the screen and does not require true real time capability (who will notice one frame out of sequence?). It is the best case to create an interface that, if there is a problem in a driver, at least prevents the system from hanging. Even Microsoft does such things!

Yes, it may be "for this kind of driver only", or something else unpleasant for developers, but those of age will not be stopped that easily.

2. How can a reasonable person start writing a composer knowing that it will compete with video? There are many video options in, say, gxine, but there is no one called "for composing window managers" (which should be detected and used automatically, BTW). Reasonable people would deliver the video output method to video developers early so that when they complete the window manager all video works.

With my AMD 690 and ATI 9.2 the "Open GL" may be such an option, but it still produces minor artifacts and worked poorly just recently with 9.1, which takes us back to item 1.

If I remember well, the rush to composing managers itself was childish. MS promised beautiful Vista and the kids got frightened! Finally Vista is nowhere, both KDE 4.2 and XFCE 4.6 look pretty beyond comparison to that Vista, so why was it necessary to hurry? Never seen vaporware before?

Another minor but similar issue is discussed in the next post.
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