Things you love about your OS

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Things you love about your OS

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:17 am UTC

I guess this is the most fitting place. The idea is not to bash other OSes, but to talk about why you like the one you have.

One thing I love about Linux is the enforced directory separation. If I need to completely reinstall the OS (having broken something badly, upgrading the hard drive, etc) I just copy my entire home directory to the new install, reinstall any packages I had before and still want (only need to run "dpkg -l" before wiping it out to get a list), and everything's back the way I left it.

Another thing is that the graphical environment is just a layer on top of a fully functional OS. Which means if the graphical environment doesn't work (say because of bad video drivers), I can just not load it, and fix whatever needs fixing from the command line - I can even look up the solution in a text-mode web browser, which works great. And I can automate any task, piping programs into eachother, scheduling the task to run when I'm asleep, etc. If the X server dies, mpd doesn't care. It has nothing to do with graphics so why should it?
It's a shame a lot of programs depend on the GUI when they aren't entirely graphical (downloading/parsing a web page, receiving IMs, and anything a terminal window does should be able to continue in the background and reconnect to their graphical interfaces when the server comes back up), but it's still possible to do everything from plain text mode, and that's very useful.


I'm rather fond of the PSP's OS as well. Sony doesn't take advantage of anywhere near its full functionality (hacks FTW) and its API is horribly overcomplex and lacks some important functionality, but it still has some nice features. Even though you only run one game at a time, they run under a multitasking OS, with kernel/usermode separation, memory protection, etc. That means you can run other processes in the background, such as a music player. For a handheld, that's pretty awesome.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby Link » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:16 am UTC

Some of the things I love about my OS of choice, Gentoo Linux include the ability to select features per-program with USE-flags, the openness, the pure power, and the relative ease of adding new ebuilds with all of Portage's wonderful features.

For those not in the know, Gentoo Linux is a source-based distribution, meaning the software you install is compiled from source locally instead of being a precompiled binary. The beauty of this system is that Gentoo's package manager, Portage, allows you to set so-called USE-flags, which control what is installed, and how it is installed. For example, if I want to install documentation for most or all packages, I can set USE="doc" in the file /etc/make.conf. If, then, there is a specific package "barbaz" in the category "app-foo" for which I don't want the documentation, I can add the line "app-foo/barbaz -doc" to /etc/portage/package.use. These USE-flags aren't limited to documentation, though - you can use them to select whether you want to compile against GTK or Qt, to select media formats you want to support, and loads and loads more!

Being source-based, not all packages are installed in the same way. Some packages use the ./configure && make && make install method, others use SCons or QMake, and yet others use ant. Portage deals with all of this, though: it uses so-called ebuilds, which are essentially bash-scripts that tell it how to compile a certain package. Because they're bash-scripts, they're extremely easy to read and create, even for relatively inexperienced developers. The system also has very sensible defaults; sometimes an ebuild only needs a few lines of code to be fully operational. Furthermore, the eclass system provides an elegant, uniform way in which advanced things can be done with ebuilds. For example, by inheriting the git eclass, Portage automatically knows that the package should be cloned from git, using the repository set by EGIT_REPO_URI.

The whole of Portage is especially beautiful for systems which go beyond the "standard desktop distribution" model. For example, I can set USE="-gtk -qt -gnome -kde -X", which essentially means I'm not interested in anything graphical. If I then try to emerge (that's the Gentoo way of saying "install" ;) ) a package that can be used either with or without GUI features, Portage will automatically disable those features. If I want to emerge something GUI-only with those flags, Portage will either complain politely about missing USE-flags, or try to install a GUI system anyway, but as minimally as possible.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby LikwidCirkel » Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:05 pm UTC

I'd make this about Desktop Linux, but most of that has already been addressed, so I'll split it into Linux and Ubuntu versus Other Linux-based systems.

Linux - most of what I love is already mentioned - I especially love the part about the graphical environment running on top of a solid OS.
A few extras: I can easily set up a variety of simple servers using readily available guides.
The smoking-gun for Linux for me:
If something breaks or doesn't work, I can get feedback and logs from the system to help me fix it, and I can also figure out where to find the existing settings. This, combined with an abundance of free knowledge allows me to actually fix most problems, whereas with some other operating systems I'd need very comprehensive knowledge of where to find details and change settings, because the details are generally hidden.


Ubuntu Specific
It provides binary packages, which in 99.9% of cases is good enough for me. I'm impatient, and I usually want a program NOW so I can actually get something done, and with Ubuntu, it only takes a few seconds or few minutes for large packages. Source is still available for all open packages, and can still be automatically compiled using apt-source, dpkg.. whatever. This is invaluable for packages that are missing illegal, but useful features - think QuickTime support for Kino or VST support for audio apps. I can still compile bleeding-edge stuff if I need it, and it has usually worked just fine for me.
It's open enough to make troubleshooting the system easy, as /sbin is actually in the path for users with admin rights. Contrast this to openSUSE where /sbin isn't in the user path, and fundamental tools like ifconfig and lspci aren't in the path either - you have to do "sudo /sbin/something" most of the time with openSUSE. There are other examples, but in general it seems like openSUSE is geared towards corporate deployment, so is more "locked down".
In almost every case, I can change configurations by editing config files so I don't have to use slow and annoying gui applications to do it. Similarly with installing packages - I can use apt-get, rather than the gui package manager. Contrast this again to SUSE, where I have yet to figure out a way to change things without using annoying Yast.
It has a rolling-release cycle, in contrast to something like Arch. For me, I want it to work reliably, and don't generally care about being "bleeding edge". In theory, this reduces the amount of different library versions required, and provides better stability for libraries, because packages are supposed to be tested with the repository versions.
Things usually work out-of-the box. Not every Linux distro can support my nvidia card with full acceleration without any extra twerking (.. boo to open-source-fanatical systems.. we know who they are)
Peripherals like printers, cameras, among other things almost always are truly plug and play without requiring any extra drivers - but I'm sure that many distros have that figured out.

Yes, I'm aware that I could probably get most of this from other distros like Linux Mint, but I haven't the time or reason yet to switch. I'm still running Hardy, which is still solid for everything that I do, and it ain't broke, so I'm not likely to upgrade for a while... absolutely not worth the time and effort.. I've got too many custom compiles and configurations now, and I haven't been keeping track very well.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby littlebuddy » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:48 am UTC

i like haiku because hardly anyone else is using it right now.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby OOPMan » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:56 am UTC

littlebuddy wrote:i like haiku because hardly anyone else is using it right now.


I like CP/M and Multics for the same reason!

Oh, wait, no I don't :-)
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby cerbie » Fri Oct 16, 2009 6:14 am UTC

[tongue in cheek]I love Windows for easy and fast updates. It got a .NET 1.1 security update yesterday, and man, Linux never gets an update installed in just two and a half hours![/tongue in cheek]
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby hotaru » Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

i like freebsd because it's free and it doesn't suddenly overwrite the root filesystem with random data and then reboot like linux does about once every two months.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby hotaru » Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:34 am UTC

Meteorswarm wrote:(Your problem is odd; I'm curious for details Distro?)

i've had that problem on debian woody (back in 2003-2004), damn small, and maemo on my nokia n810 (which did it a few minutes before i made that post). it's particularly annoying on the n810, because if it can't mount the root filesystem when it boots, it just reboots... and then can't mount it again, and reboots... and AFAIK there's no way to fix it except hooking it up to a computer with a usb cable and reflashing it.
it did seem to happen less often with damn small, but that could just be because i only used it for about 4 months.
a friend of mine had it happen twice in about 3 months of using ubuntu, and then went back to windows xp.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby OOPMan » Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:58 am UTC

That is odd. Closest I've come is accidentally cooking some boot-required stuff by switching off a locked system. All the actual data was fine though.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby Game_boy » Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:46 pm UTC

Applications-Places-System is the sanest and most useful menu concept in any OS I've seen.

They're going to take it away from me in GNOME 3 though.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby Rysto » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:07 am UTC

My company ships products based on FreeBSD and there are some nice little touches. Hitting Control-T in a terminal window sends a SIGINFO to the foreground process. The kernel will print out a line listing things like the pid and the current state of the process. The process itself can catch the signal and print out useful information. For example, cp prints out how much of the file it's copied so far. Somebody just submitted a patch for make which will have the SIGINFO handler print out how many targets it has remaining to build.

I also like that it has support for hardware-based profiling out of the box and has done so for years, whereas Linux for years didn't have the support built-in to the kernel: you had to patch it yourself. That hardware profiler has done wonders for me.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby headprogrammingczar » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:00 pm UTC

I can hard-shutoff any Windows machine all day long and not get boot errors.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby cerbie » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:24 pm UTC

headprogrammingczar wrote:I can hard-shutoff any Windows machine all day long and not get boot errors.
Ext3 is crap, w/o a UPS, IMO. JFS FTW.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby Troy Martin » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:27 am UTC

hotaru wrote:damn small

Well there's your problem. DSL is the crappiest Linux distro evar.

I'm actually quite fond of Windoze Vista. It's more stable than some say, and I run things like 3D modelling programs and games and such on it. Vista service packs are actually helpful at the stability thing. Oh, and it rules when it comes to fixing itself. I've had to let it do a startup repair a few times last month and it just does what it does and poof, my computer works again like it did when it came out of the box.

Now, when you write your own OS, it's even better. Need floating-point capabilities? Add some lengthy crap in and recompile! (actually, my OS is shitting itself with the FPU thing right now :| ) Like that better in blue? Change a few magic words and recompile! It's like modifying the Linux kernel except you know how YOU coded everything!
Howdy.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby failed assertion » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:58 pm UTC

Generally, I like the concept of package management. The ability to do one of:

aptitude update; aptitude safe-upgrade
emerge --sync; emerge -auD world
zypper up
pacman -Syu

and have absolutely every program you've ever installed update all at once is pretty damned slick. Neither Windows nor Mac OS X can even come close to having that kind of integration. It's seriously under-appreciated by everyone who does BSD/Linux vs. Whatever comparisons.

Also: I like openSUSE's YaST configuration system. It does everything from a really nice GUI. No, really. It does everything. Fingerprint reader? Five clicks. Tablet PC? Six clicks. Network sharing? Four clicks. Kind of shockingly impressive.

If it matters, I like apt more than zypper, but YaST more than nothing, so I tend to bounce between Ubuntu and openSUSE.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby lulzfish » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:57 am UTC

The problem I'm having is that there's literally like a dozen different package managers and some people (Google, Android SDK) STILL can't be arsed to use them. >:/

Which of course, wouldn't be a problem if we used a sensible directory tree like GoboLinux or even a sensible package manager over a shitty directory tree like Arch, but no, everybody wants to use some weird package and not just let you keep an application within one directory.

Also, you can't share a home partition because programs like to save settings there and I think something would explode if you had Ubuntu and Arch Linux saving different KDE 4 settings in the same /home/lulzfish/.kde directory.

But I like that the kernel is flexible enough to not care about such stupid shit as the *******************************ing Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, because clearly GoboLinux has managed to upend it without becoming an entirely new OS like Haiku, although they did it for a different reason.

Come to think of it, I might switch to Haiku if it ever gets to the point that I can work with it easily. I'm tired of Linux package management. It's convenient, but it's not good. It's like having a car that automatically drives itself, but it drops you off 5 blocks from work every day, and it won't make a detour if there's road work.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby cerbie » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:04 am UTC

I need to try Haiku for nostalgia. I'd love to see them get full Be compatibility, then actually improve upon it. We still don't have a popular/mature OS that has caught up to Be for a single user general purpose computer. But, BeOS (and Haiku) doesn't exactly have all the software in the world.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby J the Ninja » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:10 am UTC

I like that my OS not only has proprietary, aka industry standard, media codecs installed out of the box, but they are fully legal too. Core Image is pretty awesome as well, and powers my favorite image editor, Pixelmator. If you've never manipulated filters on a 2560x1600 image and watched the changes get applied in real time as you adjust parameters...it's pretty awesome. Clicking OK does not start processing the changes, your GPU already processed them, you are simply locking the changes.

I also love all the little things, like being able to punch a simple math problem into the desktop search, and seeing the answer come up in the results. Or searching for a word and seeing it's definition in the results. Or being able to just highlight a word and instantly Google it or look it up in a dictionary. Or mousing over a date in an email, and seeing your mail client offer to add it to your calendar. Or incremental backups that just do their shit without me having to pay any attention to it. Or being able to drag 4 fingers down your laptop trackpad and watching all your windows spread themselves out in front of you. Or installing and removing applications just like you would an image or PDF file. Or sparsebundles. Or that you never have to install or purposefully update drivers for factory hardware. EVER. And I don't think there is room in this post to cover Automator.

Geez, and on top of all that, it's also UNIX.

I love my Mac.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby pedal2000 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:14 pm UTC

I can play video games.

Any game. Every [good] game. Anytime I want. Without rebooting, swapping or running compatibility software/OS's.

And of course, my mouse has a right click button. A thumb button, and a scroll wheel. When I use my touchpad, it too has a right click button.

That primarily sums up my love of Windows.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:56 pm UTC

pedal2000 wrote:And of course, my mouse has a right click button. A thumb button, and a scroll wheel. When I use my touchpad, it too has a right click button.

This is true of literally every major OS provided you purchase said mouse.

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby pedal2000 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 5:41 pm UTC

I guess to clarify, I work in my schools tech department and when a student brings in a Mac book and I have to use the touchpad it frustrates me to no end. So less mouse and more touchpad >.>

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby stephentyrone » Thu Nov 12, 2009 5:59 pm UTC

pedal2000 wrote:I guess to clarify, I work in my schools tech department and when a student brings in a Mac book and I have to use the touchpad it frustrates me to no end. So less mouse and more touchpad >.>


1. Plug in your favorite mouse
2. ???
3. Profit

Also, command-click = right-click. I'm having a hard time drumming up much sympathy.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby headprogrammingczar » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

Things I love about my OS:
Spoiler:
Image

Spoiler:
Image

I dare Linux to be so hilarious.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby lulzfish » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:45 pm UTC

The first one is clearly a BIOS error.

The second one is... Well, I haven't seen an actual BSOD in ages, but I believe it works in text mode, so there wouldn't be any windows on top of it, ever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Windows_XP_BSOD.png
That doesn't look anything like your picture, which clearly shows an XP window over who-knows-what-kind-of-BSOD.
"In Microsoft Windows NT-based operating systems, the blue screen of death (displayed in 80×50 text mode"

As for Linux being hilarious:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lp0_on_fire

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby headprogrammingczar » Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:37 pm UTC

*Hastily installs a Linux distro while shaking his head in defeat*
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby lulzfish » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:46 am UTC

headprogrammingczar wrote:*Hastily installs a Linux distro while shaking his head in defeat*

That's something else I love about Linux, the hasty installs.
Of course, I can "install" Puppy linux to RAM in a few minutes and run it nicely rfom there, but a full hard disk install of Ubuntu only takes 15 or 20 minutes from CD. I did it during a Psych lecture once. And it made the little login noise at maximum volume, too. I wonder if they've fixed that feature yet?

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby headprogrammingczar » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:04 pm UTC

I've never worried about it, myself. Whenever I deal with anything lower than OS-level, I always plug my male-male audio cable into the headphone slot to forcibly mute it.
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby jimjamjahaa » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:49 pm UTC

select text, middle click paste - oh how i love this feature!

app search/launch with hotkeys - no menu system can ever compete when you know exactly what you want.

drag to maximise/unmaximise

hot corner for scale windows

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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby Babam » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:05 am UTC

I love being able to replace the default shell with a lighter one, that also adds extra functionality.
I love running games, and I love hot keying pretty much any major function for any program pretty easily.


Spoiler:
I run win 7 with a bblean install
Spoiler:
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Re: Things you love about your OS

Postby hintss » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:23 am UTC

also, about linux being funny, I'm pretty sure the comments in the source code are hilarious.


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