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Old 07-15-2011, 02:13 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Disabling NVIDIA's HDMI Audio Under Linux

For those who don't use Linux, or do use Linux but aren't aware, the audio system found within the OS is horrible. Not in quality, features or performance, but rather in configuration and execution. Since I began using Linux in 1999, and moved to it full-time in 2004, the bulk of my most frustrating troubles have had to do with audio, and a recent problem only solidifies that fact further. This time though, it's not an audio card at fault, but rather the HDMI audio chip built into NVIDIA's GeForce graphics cards.


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Old 07-16-2011, 09:01 AM   #2
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Default Sound issues

I had issues with Nvidia cards as well. The KDE startup music worked
and some application did, but some others and particularly flash didn't

This is with an onboard Intel sound chip and an Nvidia card with hdmi audio

I found that if I remove phonon-backend-gstreamer and
phonon-backend-xine and installed phonon-backend -vlc everything
worked fine

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Old 07-17-2011, 10:47 PM   #3
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rob,

nice article, very informative, but i think the obvious question that begs to be asked and answered is why would you use an OS that has such silly flaws such as defaulting to using an intel audio driver for a nvidia audio chip?

i used to do linux reviews in the old extreme tech forums and i'm also a certified unix system admin (though i never worked in that capacity, i only got certified) and for the life of me i have never understood why anyone would use any *nix as their primary OS on the desktop.

if you name a distro chances are i tried it, from the "big boys" to the really obscure one and i have created a number of custom remasters of knoppix (and similar distros) as well as manually building a distro by hand using a vanilla kernel with some debian tools and quite frankly, with the exception of lindows/linspire and pc-bsd, every other distro feels like a half assed attempt at bringing a cli based OS originally designed to run on 40 year old main frames (i.e. old "big iron") into the gui modern age of x86 computing.

seriously, other than not having to pay a per seat license for linux on the desktop, what other reason do you have for using linux as your primary OS?

i know this post will probably be denounced as "flame bait" or "trolling" but i would like a serious response; in what way does it make sense to you to use an OS that doesn't allow you to fully use your hardware like it was designed and meant to be used?
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Old 07-18-2011, 06:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by interele
I found that if I remove phonon-backend-gstreamer and phonon-backend-xine and installed phonon-backend -vlc everything worked fine
Interesting! I might have to toy with this sometime soon. Did that fix the problem system-wide, or just with VLC? I have toyed a lot with Phonon configuration in the past and could never overcome the problem, hence resorting to removing NVIDIA's HDMI driver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrats
nice article, very informative, but i think the obvious question that begs to be asked and answered is why would you use an OS that has such silly flaws such as defaulting to using an intel audio driver for a nvidia audio chip?
Because the pros outweigh the cons, of course ;-)

I should state that the issue discussed in the post is not going to be typical of most distros out there. Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, et cetera, are designed to be friendlier in these regards, and with the help of Pulseaudio, it's not difficult to choose a default audio device for playback and recording.

For those using distros like Gentoo, that leave most of the configuration up to the user (that's the point, after all), problems like these can arise. Under KDE, using the Phonon configuration tool should work in configuring defaults just fine, but in personal experience, it's hit or miss.

This problem in particular is a little interesting because the only non-SoC HDMI driver found in the kernel is nestled in behind Intel's HDA driver. It seems like the Intel HDA driver has become some sort of de facto standard, because I don't see how exactly the HDMI/DP driver relates itself to Intel's audio driver. Perhaps it feeds off of the snd-hda-intel driver, I'm not certain.

snd_hda_codec_hdmi: "Say Y here to include HDMI and DisplayPort HD-audio support in snd-hda-intel driver. This includes all AMD/ATI, Intel and Nvidia HDMI/DisplayPort codecs."

That said, the fact that it requires Intel's driver doesn't much matter, since that wouldn't have changed the default audio device at all. That has to do with ordering and since the GPU is queried before any audio card, it seems as though it got preference once booted into the system.

Most of the hardware-related problems that plague Linux have to do more with the vendors and software developers than Linux itself. ALSA could have a simple option available to allow the user to pick a default audio card, but it doesn't. Pulseaudio has made things easier, but at the expense of certain features. Thus, the problem isn't fixed. As I mentioned in the news post, 'the audio system found within the OS is horrible', and with regards to configuration, I couldn't mean that more.

Audio is the number one hardware problem I've ever had with Linux. Today, I never have a problem with graphics, I/O, networking, peripherals, et cetera. In many cases, it's easier to configure/manage hardware in Linux than it is in Windows. Last month, I hooked up an Xbox 360 wireless gamepad to Gentoo and had it working in three minutes. Windows? 45 minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrats
seriously, other than not having to pay a per seat license for linux on the desktop, what other reason do you have for using linux as your primary OS?
For the sake of time, I can't get too exhaustive about things, but I'll give a quick run-down.

First and foremost: free and freedom. This is a cliche "plus", but it couldn't be more true. I can install Linux as many times as I'd like, on as many machines as I'd like, and never, ever, ever have to worry about things like activation. I can use the OS without ever thinking about $$$ at all, in fact. There are some exceptions of course, like VMware Workstation, but that's not quite the same thing. Windows costs money, and has a ridiculous activation scheme. Linux doesn't, and that to me amounts to a great feeling of freedom.

Second, I just like how the OS works. It's highly configurable, offering a far greater level of tweaking-ability than Windows. Again, I don't feel like I'm being throttled back with Linux... whereas I do with Windows. With Windows, there are a billion things that drive me nuts, and while there are things that drive me nuts just as well with Linux, the delta between the two is huge.

When I first started using Linux, I didn't do it because I wanted to be cool, or different. I wanted to because Windows pissed me off in more ways than I could count. After pretty-well forcing myself to use and learn Linux, I ended up moving away from Windows entirely except for certain tasks that require it. Linux to me feels comfortable, I can focus on working rather than focus on how I can work around stupid Windows "features".

The number of niggles Windows has used to drive me so nutty that I ended up keeping a journal for a while where I'd put what rubbed me the wrong way about Windows that day. I say "day", because quite literally I ended up adding to this list almost every single day. After a while, I deemed such a diary was a little retarded, so I stopped doing it. At that point I proved to myself that I wasn't just hating on Windows for the sake of it.

Third, configuration. Take a sample of 1,000 Windows 7 machines and most of them are going to look the same. Sure, the taskbar and such will be a slightly different color, but overall, there's not much to differentiate one install from another. Take a sample of 1,000 Linux machines, and well, I doubt it needs to be said.

Fourth, stability. I admit that things have gotten much better with regards to stability since Windows 7 launched, but to me, nothing can compete to Linux. More often than not, if someone experiences a crash of some sort under Linux, it's due to the graphics driver or some other hardware driver. It's a lot easier for Windows to not experience such issues given the support for it is unparalleled, but despite that, Windows still crashes more than Linux (in my personal experience of the past 6 years of using both OSes for the most part full-time).

Fifth, repositories. If I want to install an application, 99% of the time I can load up a software manager and install whatever I need through there. That level of convenience is hard to match.

Six, interoperability. You know what's nice about opening up a file manager under Linux? I can click on a hard drive with any FS on it and read and most times write to it. According to Windows, there only exist two file systems; FAT and NTFS. It's totally ignorant of any other OS on earth.

Seven, hardware support. Yeah, yeah, this sounds ironic, but it's true. You can boot up a Live CD on a desktop or notebook and even without installing it have more hardware enabled than you would right after installing Windows. I've even booted up a Live CD for Linux and used webcam software after installing it through the software manager. While Windows almost always requires you to download special drivers, Linux supports a ton of hardware right out of the box... it's staggering. If you ever go into the kernel and poke around the device section, the number of devices supported is almost mind-numbing. And this all for a kernel source folder that takes up something like 300MB.

In the end, no OS is perfect, and in many ways, even Linux can make me want to punch a wall. But at the end of the day, I've had a ton of experience with both OSes, and it's Linux that I end up feeling far more apt to use, despite its issues.

Here's a related article that might be of interest:

http://techgage.com/article/10_thing..._than_windows/

Thanks for posting!
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Old 07-19-2011, 10:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrats View Post
rob,

nice article, very informative, but i think the obvious question that begs to be asked and answered is why would you use an OS that has such silly flaws such as defaulting to using an intel audio driver for a nvidia audio chip?

i used to do linux reviews in the old extreme tech forums and i'm also a certified unix system admin (though i never worked in that capacity, i only got certified) and for the life of me i have never understood why anyone would use any *nix as their primary OS on the desktop.

if you name a distro chances are i tried it, from the "big boys" to the really obscure one and i have created a number of custom remasters of knoppix (and similar distros) as well as manually building a distro by hand using a vanilla kernel with some debian tools and quite frankly, with the exception of lindows/linspire and pc-bsd, every other distro feels like a half assed attempt at bringing a cli based OS originally designed to run on 40 year old main frames (i.e. old "big iron") into the gui modern age of x86 computing.

seriously, other than not having to pay a per seat license for linux on the desktop, what other reason do you have for using linux as your primary OS?

i know this post will probably be denounced as "flame bait" or "trolling" but i would like a serious response; in what way does it make sense to you to use an OS that doesn't allow you to fully use your hardware like it was designed and meant to be used?
It's interesting that with your level of knowledge on the OS (having hand-built distros and using a lot of other buzz-words) that you'd not know WHY Linux automatically enables the wrong system, so allow me to add that to Rob's wonderful reply before I throw my own $0.02 in the ring.

*EDIT NOTE: This isn't really the problem Rob solved, but it IS the problem deadrats mentioned, so maybe it will help shed some light.

Intel's HDA audio actually comes on from poor motherboard BIOS issues. When NVidia's Northbridge was designed way back when (remember NForce?), it contained its own high-def audio and networking. These were supplements specifically for AMD chipsets at the time (prior to ATI), which did not have the same features as Intel's (still sub-par) audio and excellent networking stack.

As NVidia started to get license to produce onboard graphics for both companies, it migrated many of these controls into its own chip. It was cheaper and easier to simply disable this silicon in Intel boards than it was to make two runs, when some of these features were still needed on ATI boards. Not to mention, at this time, NV's sound quality actually started gaining some notoriety vs other onboard solutions as it was discrete from the processor and therefore less noisy. Add in that HDMI was a graphics feature that required sound push through, and the takeover of ATi by AMD and suddenly NV's onboard graphics needed to be able to carry the sound, too. (I'm condensing this part a lot for time).

So, now we get onboard graphics that contain sound, but intel's Azalea chip is still on there, too. There are lots of boards that contain both of these, fully functional except for where the output ports actually got soldered. Rather than remove the Azalea chip altogether, motherboard manufacturers leave it on cause (like NV did) it's cheaper for those boards NOT getting NV graphics to use the same board layout in that part of the board. (simplifying a bit here, there are other reasons it could "show up" even if the board had the chip removed)

Now, motherboard manufacturers should simply disable the whole f-ing thing in BIOS. If Azalea isn't initialized, it won't show up in your modprobe, and no module would be loaded. But that doesn't happen, because THEY are also cheap. So they just leave it in, and let NV-HD just take precedence. Coding BIOS is a giant PITA and specializing everything board-by-board just doesn't happen anymore (hence part of my argument since about 2005 that we need to ditch it and move to EFI, which has been around for some time for everybody BUT Intel-based machines, because MS refused to support it).

So, Linux boots up - sees Intel, then sees NVidia. NV sound devices ALWAYS show up as long as you have an NVidia graphics card, thanks to HDMI. You may not want that (unless you're building an HTPC) - in fact, most people don't. So Linux defaults to the Intel Azalea chip, which is the "safe bet." Unfortunately, if your board has all of its outputs soldered to use the NV chip, or you need HDMI/DP audio, that isn't going to do you any good.

Windows actually does the same thing - the only difference is, Windows pre-packs NVidia "basic" drivers into its OS, because it's closed source so it can do that as a commercial decision. These basic drivers see WHICH chip functions are enabled, and "rolls over" the audio to the proper chip. Again, this is NVidia, NOT Windows doing this - which creates a problem in Linux, because NV drivers are not included by default due to being closed-source, and that fallback cannot be expected or programmed for. In fact, for security, it's not even really a good idea.

So, that's the "why the OS is silly." The short answer, it's not - motherboard makers are lazy and initialize hardware that's not in use and could be determined as such at the BIOS level. Windows has a coping mechanism provided by NV for this, but it relies on 100% closed-source products that take over and alter key system aspects without user intervention or permission. These things violate the tenets of Linux twice over, so it doesn't have them.

Now, as to Linux as a day-to-day OS:
Rob hit a lot of the salient points, and if I'm honest, I had written a rather blunt post yesterday that didn't take (thankfully), so I could write this one instead.

I use all three major OSes on a daily basis in a variety of ways. For Linux, I use it as a desktop OS, an HTPC, AND as multiple servers (each of these on a different computer).

I choose Linux as a desktop for most of my web usage because it is secure, and because I'm deeply interested in computer hardware. Nothing lets me see more, do more, and learn more about how things work than Linux. Now, these needs are specialized, and I know that. But I use it day-to-day also because it is 100% customizable, right down to my UI - no other OS gives you the choice of so many great ways to work with your system (and even more not-so-great ones)...I can choose fluxbox, KDE, Gnome, XFCE, enlightenment... all of which work very differently. And that's only the very widely supported desktops. I can build on that with cairodock, conky, nautilus... again, everything can be built piece by piece to be exactly the experience I want it to be. It supports nearly every bit of hardware out there (old and new) with very little (but not "no") configuration. It can run in ridiculously low amounts of memory, and I can control every aspect of what the system sees, is allowed to do, etc. I love these features, and they only exist in Linux.

I consider OSes to be part of the "three-legged stool" idea we learn in business. The old adage for production says that all products and services are like a three-legged stool - you can choose exactly how any two of the legs will look and work, but what you pick for them determines the third. In business, these three legs are usually "quality, speed, and cost." Choose two, the third one will be a product of those two (if you want the best quality at the lowest cost, you'll usually not get it very quickly). In the OS world, these become "stability, flexibility and user experience." Windows prides itself on flexibility (being able to use all types of hardware and offer many types of software) in a pretty and easy user experience. That comes at the sacrifice of stability, and indeed any Windows user can tell you all about blue-screens, lockups, etc. OSX chooses User Experience and stability - it's pretty hard to crash a mac, and they're very virus-unfriendly with strong user account protection, because OSX is a POSIX based environment. And to assure that stability, Apple locks down the OS to select hardware, which it can massage the drivers for until they're pretty much perfect. Linux chooses stability and flexibility - it runs on almost anything, can be configured almost any way and it's rock stable...but you need to know what you're doing, the user experience gets thrown under a bus.

Overall, a Linux desktop is NOT for everyone, though Ubuntu in particular has made great strides to help that. I kind of wish more people would get over their fears of it, particularly for a general Internet PC as it's so much more secure and people wouldn't ever feel a loss of function. But there's LOTS of great reasons to use it as a desktop if you have the patience to work with it...reasons like updating your software/system all at once, the ease and reassurance of software repositories, the ability to use legacy hardware, and even WINE allowing the use of many windows programs without having to sacrifice the better parts of Linux.

Personally, I think Linux will always suffer from the user experience issues, because usually only people comfortable with tweaking and playing around use it as a daily OS. Thus, most of the help available is a bit above a layman's level and not easily located (hence why we offer tips like these). As long as it stays the OS for already computer literate people, nobody unpaid is going to spend the time to make a great "Welcome to Linux!" care manual, or put scripts in the repositories that automatically address complex issues like this one. It will never be a desktop for the masses, but it will always be a great desktop for those willing.

For all that it offers, I'll take the little niggles like "linux doing something smart but mobo manufacturers doing something stupid, but now I have to fix it."


Last edited by Brett Thomas; 07-19-2011 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:53 PM   #6
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@Brett and Rob,

thanks for taking the time to respond, for the sake of simplicity, and quite frankly because i don't want this discussion to descend into an OS flame war, i'll ask each of you these very simple questions:

1) assume linux distros had licensing requirements similar to windows, i.e. 1 license per pc and activation, AND there were no free alternatives AND the per seat license cost similar to what a windows license costs, would you still choose linux over windows?

2) conversely, if windows were legally free and you could legally install it on as many pc's as you desired, would you still choose linux?

3) would your above answers be different if each OS' respective source status were different, i.e. if linux were closed source and wondows were open source?

4) and here's the really interesting question: if microsoft, starting with win 8 decided to release windows versions with kernels custom coded and compiled to extract maximum performance from a particular vendors processors, for instance if microsoft sold a version of windows that only ran on AMD's bulldozer and above or they sold a version that only ran on SB and above but said versions had assembler optimizations in the kernel meant to run as fast as possible on that processor, would you still choose linux?

i know your knee jerk response to #4 will be that you can already do that with linux, but that's not entirely true: you can custom compile a kernel and get your system to run faster but that mostly from removing fat from the kernel that you don't need, plus there are some processor specific optimizations but i've look through the code and it's no where near as optimized as it could be.

with regards to all the other "explanations", which basically boil down to "it's the hardware makers fault for not supplying drivers" or "it the software vendors fault for not supporting linux", i've been hearing these excuses since the 90's.

now in all fairness, there is some validity to arguments along those lines but in the end, who cares? i know i couldn't care less who's fault it is, i just know that i want to be able to install some drivers and use my pc.

here's a final question for your guys: if microsoft launches it's own gpl'd linux distro, would you use it? what if they ported the win api, from top to bottom, the entire dx stack, .net framework, everything, to ONLY there linux distro AND ensured binary compatibility with windows executables, would you switch to MS linux?
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:30 AM   #7
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I don't use Linux because it's free; that just happens to be a major plus. I can install it wherever I want, in whichever configuration I want, do whatever I want with it, and never have to ponder costs or activation. I own three Windows 7 licenses, and am in Windows right now as I type this. It's not as though I'm against Windows to such a huge degree that I avoid it at all costs. I just prefer to use Linux whenever possible since, believe it or not, I prefer it.

If Windows went open-source today and Linux went closed-sourced, I'd still be using Linux - at least for the time-being. I use Linux because I've come to like it a lot more than Windows, and if Microsoft's OS became open all of a sudden, that wouldn't change a single thing about the OS usage. It'd take months or even years for it to catch up to the flexibility and modularity of Linux. On the Linux side, if it went closed-source, it'd still be offering me all I've come to like about the OS.

As for question #4, I don't use Linux for the performance factor, nor do I ever use that as a bullet-point to highlight Linux's pluses. I use Gentoo, which is one of the most optimized distributions around (given the entire OS is compiled from source), but even then, the gains are in the grand scheme minor (for a desktop user, at least). That said, it has been statistically proven more often than not that for the same operations, Linux tends to be faster, but I've never seen such a stark delta between both OSes that it becomes something I care to discuss at great length about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrats
with regards to all the other "explanations", which basically boil down to "it's the hardware makers fault for not supplying drivers" or "it the software vendors fault for not supporting linux", i've been hearing these excuses since the 90's.
There's a good reason for that: it's still the case. There's a reason the support is as good as it is on Windows... marketshare. There's also a reason that Mac OS X is so rock-stable... it's a restricted platform. Linux gives us the best of both worlds... freedom of choice with our hardware, and also reliability. There may be some stumbling blocks along the way, but for me, those pros heavily outweigh the cons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrats
here's a final question for your guys: if microsoft launches it's own gpl'd linux distro, would you use it? what if they ported the win api, from top to bottom, the entire dx stack, .net framework, everything, to ONLY there linux distro AND ensured binary compatibility with windows executables, would you switch to MS linux?
It depends - would I have to inherit a registry? ;-)

Of course I'd be up for using something like that... it's essentially the combining of two key computing factors into one. I'd have the Linux OS I'd like, but still be able to run my Windows applications and games.

In the end, I think the main sticking point you have is that you can't begin to understand why anyone would like to use a Linux OS, and the sheer question in itself boggles my mind. I can perfectly understand why people like to use either Windows or OS X... it's not that difficult to surmise. On the same token, I can also understand why many people are turned off of Linux. For me, the OS happens to better suit my tastes. It has its own multitude of problems, but again, for me the pros heavily outweigh the cons.

I've been meaning to write a column for a while to talk about certain areas where Linux falls flat on its face, and perhaps "soon" would be a good time to finally do it.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadrats View Post
1) assume linux distros had licensing requirements similar to windows, i.e. 1 license per pc and activation, AND there were no free alternatives AND the per seat license cost similar to what a windows license costs, would you still choose linux over windows?
In short, Yes. I would have no problems paying for 'nix. I don't care that it's free (nice plus, but I pay for other software, including OSes, happily where I need to). I like it because it brings back some of the best things I liked about computing in the days of DOS with the modern convenience of a GUI. Price is a bonus, not a determining factor.

Quote:
2) conversely, if windows were legally free and you could legally install it on as many pc's as you desired, would you still choose linux?
Yes, for the same reasons. Windows doesn't do everything I want to do on a day-to-day system. When I have a lot of work ahead of me, I want to be able to rearrange my workspace and flow to optimally fit my needs. You'll see me talk a lot about workflow in things like the Adobe Lightroom review I did a ways back. If I need to sit down and stare at something for hours, I want to be able to position and control the things I need to for maximum impact and efficiency. I do not believe Windows does this, as it has no robust CLI (which I often need for networking), and working between multiple windows becomes difficult due to overbearing UI issues imposed with Explorer. It lacks any virtual desktops, for instance - a feature I use religiously to keep my screens decluttered.

Many programs also lack their own coloring and key/mousebinding abilities and unique configurations, relying instead on the Windows API to provide these. That's a fault of the program programmers, to be sure, but it's helped by a system that allows parental inheritance to such a dramatic level thanks to Explorer as a WM.

Quote:
3) would your above answers be different if each OS' respective source status were different, i.e. if linux were closed source and wondows were open source?
This one, possibly. I'm a big fan of OSS, I think that it helps breed a lot of differentiation in the software because users can see something, get an idea, and tweak it til it's what they need. Were Windows able to do this, you'd have explorer be a replaceable element without losing core functions, and that's a huge plus. I also think someone would come up with something better than the Registry. So yeah, I'd give this a maybe...particularly because if all 'Nix went closed source, I think its own innovation would stifle.

Of course, 'nix also has a nearly kernel-level support and access for scripting languages like Python and Perl, allowing me incredible system control. I assume that in this wonderfully OSS world that Windows were to walk into, that it would have (or move quickly) to embrace this as well?

Quote:
4) and here's the really interesting question: if microsoft, starting with win 8 decided to release windows versions with kernels custom coded and compiled to extract maximum performance from a particular vendors processors, for instance if microsoft sold a version of windows that only ran on AMD's bulldozer and above or they sold a version that only ran on SB and above but said versions had assembler optimizations in the kernel meant to run as fast as possible on that processor, would you still choose linux?
Actually, this would make me run from it more. Linux's hardware support isn't about custom kernels for efficiency...well, it is, but more about custom kernels for stability. Removing things that aren't used and could break other shit. Windows needs to cater to too many possibilities at any point to offer that functionality. There's something POSITIVE in the fact that Windows can install on Intel, AMD, this mobo, that mobo, this GPU, that NIC, etc. and have most of it transparently set up and run. But that same thing is the source of a lot of stability issues because your HAL gets beefed up...a LOT...to cope with all the possibilities. This also creates security issues, when certain things aren't thought of (the more possibilities you include, the more results you must predict) and so must necessarily "fail open", allowing (attempted) execution of things because of poorer error handling.

Overall, I use the standard Debian kernels on all my systems - I don't roll my own cause I think it's largely a waste of time for my needs. But I find that what's included works, and it doesn't contain a lot of fluff in the kernel (instead, mostly in modules that I can control).

Quote:
with regards to all the other "explanations", which basically boil down to "it's the hardware makers fault for not supplying drivers" or "it the software vendors fault for not supporting linux", i've been hearing these excuses since the 90's.

now in all fairness, there is some validity to arguments along those lines but in the end, who cares? i know i couldn't care less who's fault it is, i just know that i want to be able to install some drivers and use my pc.
These aren't boiled down to anything. If MS went open sourced, it'd have the exact same problems. Drivers contain technical, private information that most hardware devs don't particularly like to just hand their competition. I don't blame them for that. But to say it's the end of the world because you have to tweak something before it works? Nobody here is bashing the other systems, you just came taking a swing at why anyone would want to use Linux.

Which actually brings up something interesting: In all your questions, you keep hammering on about open source and cost, which both Rob and I said are not the MAIN reasons we chose it. For me, it's low-level networking access, package control, and a robust CLI. None of this particularly requires any of your four "deeper" questions, or has anything to do with its source level or cost, at least at the superficial level you're talking about.

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here's a final question for your guys: if microsoft launches it's own gpl'd linux distro, would you use it? what if they ported the win api, from top to bottom, the entire dx stack, .net framework, everything, to ONLY there linux distro AND ensured binary compatibility with windows executables, would you switch to MS linux?
Ah the golden goose. If I felt that porting over the Net framework retained the stability inherent in Linux? Sure. I'd probably still use it just for the DX framework. But you also say "to only their linux distro" while also saying "gpl'd" - so which is it? If they change the kernel, under GPL they're obliged to release it and other distros can adopt it. If they don't, then any distro should be able to access their closed-source binaries for use in other distros. Overall, you're kind of outlining a paradox - an exclusive closed source object released under GPL.

I'd probably buy it even if it was closed source, just to support them in the concept of attempting a more user-adaptable ring0-ring3 OS.

So, basically, to answer the REAL question you are stepping around, no, I don't use Linux because I hate MS. I use Linux because for my needs day to day, it's better than Windows.

Last edited by Brett Thomas; 07-22-2011 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:45 PM   #9
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In the end, I think the main sticking point you have is that you can't begin to understand why anyone would like to use a Linux OS, and the sheer question in itself boggles my mind.
you know what boggles my mind? that anyone can use linux for more than an hour and not conclude that it's a half baked OS.

first we have the history of how linux came to be; linux basically has it's roots 42 years in the past and it feels like an antiquated OS. unix was first created at bell labs and meant to run on "big iron" and was quickly adopted in one form or another by schools and businesses. then stallman, 13 years after unix was released to the public and relatively unchanged mind you, decides he wants to create a free clone of unix and creates the quite frankly commie inspired GPL. 8 years later linus creates a terminal emulator that comes to be known as the linux kernel and it quickly replaces the hurd kernel in stallman's monstrosity. fast forward another 20 years and it hasn't changed all that much.

there's so many things wrong with the way all *nix's are structured that it's hard to know where to begin to criticize it. it a kludge, and not even a good one at that, that somehow manages to sort of work most of the time.

let's ignore that there was a time that you could bring the entire OS to it's knees with 2 lines of code, specifically a fork() bomb; let's ignore that you could smoke root inside of 5 seconds by booting into single user mode back in the LILO days, you still have an OS that allows any jackass that so desires to modify the code to any end he/she so desires.

this is not a good thing. open source software is inherently an idiotic concept in many different levels. as i mentioned i received certification as a unix sys admin and prior to that i majored in physics and comp sci, though i never finished my degrees. open source software means that a person spends his/her money and time (a b.s. in comp sci can take 5 years and cost lots of dough), studying, learning how to code just so he can turn around and give his/her work away for free? am i the only one that sees this as a truly idiotic thing to do?

if a programmer were really any good wouldn't he/she be getting paid for his work rather than give it away for free?

honestly, linux is a chinese fire drill of an OS; it feels like a bunch of guys that weren't talking to one another put out an OS and that's exactly what happens.

in what way is it reasonable to install video drivers then have to go hunt down a config file that you need to manually edit in order to use said driver? i wouldn't have installed the driver if i didn't want to use it.

i've had install routines fail with an error along the lines of "cd-rom not found" or "image on cd-rom not found" when the install routine was running from the damn cd-rom.

you have the most retarded folder layout anyone can possibly conceive; you have a \ which is root but you also have a \root, \var, \etc, i can't remember off the top of my head all the others but you also have the exact same folders as sub folders within a users directory!!!

you have moronic names for config files, such as fstab (which makes me want to F'en stab someone) that in no way indicate what they are for, who in the hell (other than the biggest virgin still living in his mom's basement) would ever figure out that fstab stands for file systems table.

you can mount file systems to any directory you desire no matter how stupid it is; i remember mounting /cdrom to /dev/hda or something like that (basically mounting the cdrom's file system to the hdd and then vice versa). hell you can even make any directory a separate partition, i mean seriously, doesn't anyone that writes code for linux like girls?

and one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that you see so many distros released for i386 or i586, i mean really is anyone in their right mind going to run the latest redhat on an i386 with edo ram or the latest mandriva on an i586?

now mind you there are a few distros that on the surface seem pretty nice; vector soho isn't bad and pc-bsd, though not technically linux, can be thought of as pretty slick, but inherently they still suffer from the same shortcomings.

i do like about linux that you can custom compile a kernel and get some nice speed benefits and i like the fact that it uses all your available ram before hitting the swap file, but i hate having the swap file as a distinct static partition.

perhaps if linux lost it's 40 year old roots and a variant targeted specifically for the desktop were released; with partitions that make sense (similar to windows, such as abc or 123), if it lost that ridiculous notion that a desktop is somehow a simultaneous multi-user computer (like main frames and servers are), if all the config files were in one easy to find folder named, and i know this is a bit of a stretch, "config files" and you didn't need to modify them just to get a driver you just installed loaded, if it had a nice robust all encompassing api (ala the win api), then perhaps i could get behind it.

but that mess of an OS that they can't give away for free? not on your life.

think about it; people would rather spend hundreds on an OS (microsoft has reported record profits with win 7) or pirate windows than use a legally free alternative, not everyone can be a stupid brainwashed computer illiterate hick. what does it say when people would rather spend hard earned cash on an OS with a restrictive license or "steal" a copy rather than use a legally free alternative? it means that as far as most people are concerned linux blows.

and they're right.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:19 AM   #10
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you know what boggles my mind? that anyone can use linux for more than an hour and not conclude that it's a half baked OS.

..........

but that mess of an OS that they can't give away for free? not on your life.

think about it; people would rather spend hundreds on an OS (microsoft has reported record profits with win 7) or pirate windows than use a legally free alternative, not everyone can be a stupid brainwashed computer illiterate hick. what does it say when people would rather spend hard earned cash on an OS with a restrictive license or "steal" a copy rather than use a legally free alternative? it means that as far as most people are concerned linux blows.

and they're right.
This is what blows my mind, your comparing Apple to Oranges and expecting a Pineapple with what you have been asking.

There is a place for Linux, there is a place for Win and dare I say there is a place for Mac's as well. The problem is that you need to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and put them in their respective boundaries, but your just bashing Linux for desktop because you don't want to use it for that. I don't want it for my desktop either but come on your saying other people shouldn't use it cause you don't think it would be good enough. I may run Linux (I am literally just starting with it) at some point for a laptop that doesn't have a lot of power or I dunno a server of some sort, but I will not say it will not have a place in my home because it is a useful tool. The thing with tools is that you need to be 10% smarter then them and the thing you are working on, so if you know how use this tool correctly why not use it?

I have used Win since literally 1.0 to Win 7 so I have as much exp with it as you, but I was using PC's since the Commodore 64 so I learned on a txt OS as a kid but I do not share your point of view about Linux, not at all. There is a place for it and we all use it one way or another on the net but to say it doesn't belong on a few desktops is too damn shortsighted on your part.

I agree for the MAJORITY of user it would be stupid to have them use Linux as a desktop at this time because they don't want to spend time to learn it but I am, and so do many other users. This is where you need to understand you may hate it but it doesn't mean others will follow your opinion blindly, even if it is a majority that agrees with you. Linux could move to my desktop at some point when I get more familiar with it, but I don't know right now and if it does want to make a push for the Desktop market in a more easy to use way I welcome it. The market needs another OS that can compete with Win directly with it's hardware base to get them to innovate and be more friendly, but until it becomes easier to use I doubt that potential will ever be realized.
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Old 07-24-2011, 02:20 PM   #11
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you know what boggles my mind? that anyone can use linux for more than an hour and not conclude that it's a half baked OS.
The fact that you understand Linux so well while being completely ignorant of it being a capable OS is simply mind-blowing to me. I'm done here... this debate is pointless. Stick to your Windows, I'll stick to my Linux.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:57 PM   #12
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The fact that you understand Linux so well while being completely ignorant of it being a capable OS is simply mind-blowing to me. I'm done here... this debate is pointless. Stick to your Windows, I'll stick to my Linux.
but you don't stick with linux, by your own admission you use windows also, so clearly you at least see some shortcomings with linux; hell in your own article you clearly state that the audio system sucks and often doesn't work.

i remember how happy i was when ALSA came along and i didn't have to deal with OSS anymore but here we are in 2011 and we still have issues with the way linux works that inspires users such as yourself to write articles such as this.

at some point the community needs to take a step back and be honest with themselves.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:06 PM   #13
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@kayden

as a server OS, linux is absolutely fabulous, primarily because i don't have to pay the exorbitant per seat license fees associated proprietary OSes, because i can lock it down tight and because bash offer that powerful built in scripting, so i can automate administrative tasks.

but server OSes do not belong on the desktop, solaris coupled with ultrasparc was a fabulous server setup, you wouldn't want to use it on the desktop and eventually even sun admitted as much when they dropped the desktop version of solaris.

you don't buy a Mack truck to go to the grocery store and you don't buy a rabbit to tow a broken down bus.

i've been around the open source community for more than a decade and it seems obvious to me that people use linux because they want to feel "leet", i.e. look how smart i am, how vast my technical knowledge is or in the case of the more hardcore users, the guys that use unix like freebsd or openbsd, they want to be anti-establishment.

me, i'm not rebelling against anything, i couldn't care if people think i'm computer illiterate, i just want my hardware to work without breaking my balls to get it working properly.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:24 AM   #14
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@kayden

as a server OS, linux is absolutely fabulous, primarily because i don't have to pay the exorbitant per seat license fees associated proprietary OSes, because i can lock it down tight and because bash offer that powerful built in scripting, so i can automate administrative tasks.

but server OSes do not belong on the desktop, solaris coupled with ultrasparc was a fabulous server setup, you wouldn't want to use it on the desktop and eventually even sun admitted as much when they dropped the desktop version of solaris.

you don't buy a Mack truck to go to the grocery store and you don't buy a rabbit to tow a broken down bus.

i've been around the open source community for more than a decade and it seems obvious to me that people use linux because they want to feel "leet", i.e. look how smart i am, how vast my technical knowledge is or in the case of the more hardcore users, the guys that use unix like freebsd or openbsd, they want to be anti-establishment.

me, i'm not rebelling against anything, i couldn't care if people think i'm computer illiterate, i just want my hardware to work without breaking my balls to get it working properly.
OMG thank u thank u without this knowlidg i wuld still be using my crappy OS.


Seriously. You bash OSS and GPL as "commie", you say Unix is a piece of crap TWO POSTS UP from this last one. You talk about how all it is is an antiquated throwback to big iron and how any POSIX-based system is junk in the modern day.

Do you have ANY idea how many things developed on Linux that found their way into that "wonderful" OS called Windows? You claim to not want a flame war, you start off asking halfway sensible questions about WHY we choose to use it, you ignore our answers 100% (You have YET to respond to any of why Rob OR I use it, just simply keep bashing outright)...

So hey, Linux blows. And let's say your backtracking is legit, and you didn't mean to say Unix and the entire POSIX system blows, and you even meant to say Linux is a good Server OS. Which, by the way, two posts before your last, you told us all how bad it is at EVERYTHING.

Therefore, since Linux can pose absolutely NO good as an end-user OS, and you feel it has NO place in the home, GREAT! Stop bashing those of us who do as "just wanting to be leet", many of us use it because of specific needs that aren't met by windows (which, I acknowledged, are often more power-user tasks).

And on your way out, please make sure to surrender:
*Any Android phone or tablet (straight up Linux),
*Any iPhone or iPad (FreeBSD),
*Any Mac computer (Hey, Darwin IS FreeBSD modified),
*Almost every netbook that was made,
*Any TiVo, DirecTV or most satellite/cable boxes made in the last 10 years,
*Many kiosk systems (particularly airport e-ticket check-ins),
*Any right to watch movies on a plane (all seat-back systems on United, US Air and Virgin run Linux, you can see it when the plane starts up).

Of course, this is only if you accept that your flame about how "crappy" Linux is at EVERYTHING including file structure, mounting, etc (do you have any idea that this is why many people USE 'nix?!) is just plain wrong. Because if you still hold to that, then you really shouldn't go around using the Internet at all, or your cell phone. After all, all of the major routers from ISP backbone on use it, it's the backbone of all cellular communications networks, etc. etc. We won't even get into web servers that handle the pages you're reading this (and most every other site) on.

And as for that choice being because it's "free" and without site licenses, most major companies pay for RedHat and SuSE with enterprise support agreements that FAR outweigh the costs of using Windows on every single box they have. Why?

Well, I guess it's because they're all idiots. Cause Linux blows, and NOBODY would pay for it. Right?

Yeesh. Give me a break, even my grandmother preferred Ubuntu Netbook edition to Windows because it was less confusing for her. Could she do any of the higher level stuff? Of course not. But because the system actually worked, didn't crash, and behaved as it should, she didn't need to. It wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for a very nice spectrum of people. Would I use it day-to-day as my Office desktop for word-processing, spreadsheets, etc? No, probably not. And definitely not for games. There's a lot of spaces where it doesn't fit.

By the way, get off your soapbox about the "commie" GPL and how programmers would be "getting paid" if they were any good. Many VERY good programmers dedicate spare time to GPL projects for the betterment of computing as a whole. It's why we have languages like Python, Perl, Ruby, AJAX, JAVA...

...all of those are GPL languages, but I guess that's because their creators were all idiots, too. Or commies. Those damn commies...

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Old 07-26-2011, 02:38 AM   #15
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so clearly you at least see some shortcomings with linux
I don't use Windows because I want to... I use it because I have to. If all the applications/games I needed worked fine in Linux, there'd be no reason whatsoever for me to use Windows. And I don't consider the lack of full support for Windows applications in Linux to be one of its major downfalls. Windows can't run Linux software out-of-the-box, either. As for the audio system, that's one of those things that does suck, but doesn't result in Linux being a half-baked OS. It still works, and works well. There are just stupid issues like these that can arise due to what feels like the developers just not caring enough.

I will reiterate a point for perhaps the fourth time, since you seem to enjoy skipping over it. The problem described in the above news post is not one that would affect most regular desktop users, but rather tweakers and those using advanced distros. Distros like Ubuntu use Pulseaudio, so choosing a default audio source for either output or recording is as easy as doing it in Windows 7. The steps are the -exact same-.

I am not saying Linux is perfect, and you yourself know this. But for some reason you are either trying to convince everyone here that Linux is a horrible OS, or you're trying to trick yourself into believing that Windows is far superior. I dislike Windows, but I'm not ignorant of the fact that it has its uses, or of the reasons that the vast majority of people use it.

I don't have interest in OS X, either, but again, I can see the reason some people like it (it's Linux for people who need commercial software support and an easier-to-use OS due to it being so locked-down). It has better support for software than Linux, thanks to its marketshare. That brings us back to the point you made earlier about you hearing about compatibility complaints for decades. The same problem used to exist for OS X, but now that the OS is gaining good marketshare, a lot more people are taking it seriously, and in the past couple of years alone, the game support has exploded (the same can be said for Linux, but not to the same extent). Unfortunately not much has changed in the hardware-selection front, but I don't see that ever changing given Apple wants to run a tight OS ship.

As far as I am concerned, Windows isn't a horrible OS. For me, Linux has better-suited what I want to do with a desktop OS. Although you are clearing having fun flaming Linux as much as possible in a single post, the only thing you've accomplished is helping me reiterate to myself the reasons I love the OS so much.

Given the massive amount of flaming you've shot towards the OS, I almost wonder if you secretly enjoy it, or are jealous of it in some way. I've never once in my entire life hated something so much that I felt compelled to write novel-like posts to try to recruit members into the Church of (What I Hate Today). There might be something here...
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