So my daily driver for over a year now has been Solus, however last night I installed Ubuntu 16.04 (dual-booting, of course) to do some testing to see if some hard locks I have been experiencing are hardware related.
So full disclaimer before the juicy stuff: Yes, I do stuff with the Solus Project. No, I’m not talking on behalf of the Solus Project with this blog post. This is my website, dammit, and the words are my own. Which is nice because it gives me luxury to start off my blog post with:
Are you shitting me Ubuntu?
Don’t expect for things to get any better.
Design & GTK Applications
So this part is going to be subjective. I mean, I don’t really know who would find Ubuntu 16.04 out-of-the-box to look nice, but to me, it’s garring.
- Big ass launcher icons. Seriously, I don’t need 40px of a (OOTB) fixed Unity launcher just for application icons. 32px is way more sensible.
- You know Canonical, you can make GTK themes that aren’t butt ugly, right? Sure, Ambiance looked good years ago, but it really doesn’t complement GTK applications nowadays and it just feels old.
- Did you seriously hold back Nautilus to 3.14? Look at what you’ve done (holds nose to wet spot on floor). Files has got to be one of the prettiest GNOME applications, and it is a file manager. Compare it to an updated version, with integrated IO dialogs, Headerbars, better sorting mechanisms via their sorting popover. 3a. If you held it back this long purely because of recursive search, then I guess good on you? I hate it too, but I’d sacrifice Files being stupid and recursively searching contents for the luxury of all the improvements of Files.
I’m sure anyone that has spent two seconds under Ubuntu and hasn’t used it for a while probably has that short “wait, where are my menus for this software?” thought, proceeded by the “oh yea, it’s in the panel…because that is totally sensible
While I appreciate the fact that there is a “In the window’s title bar” option in “Appearance -> Behavior”, along with the ability to enable “Always displayed”, I really think this whole menu separation should just be killed off entirely and we all go back to have sensible dedicated menubars for older applications that haven’t implemented Headerbars (or are Qt apps, rest their souls).
If I have an application in the bottom right of my screen, it isn’t sensible at all to have to move my mouse all the way to the top left in the panel to access menu items. Sure, I can use HUD by pressing
Alt, but I would just prefer us being sensible with things and make discoverability of application functionality more obvious to users.
So I guess my only plea to Canonical would be to either:
- Kill separated menus, because they make discoverability hard and usage harder.
- Switch them to being always displayed. That doesn’t really fix usage but at least it fixes discoverability. I fundamentally disagree with shoving menu items into GTK2 and Qt application title bars.
It blew my damn mind when I found out I needed to add an OBS Studio PPA in order to install OBS Studio.
sudo eopkg install obs-studio. Done. No fuss.
Go download the tarball for Telegram, install that to /opt/Telegram, symlink to /usr/bin/, then run it.
Or just do
sudo eopkg install telegram
The real kicker
Steam: Failed to work out-of-the-box. I honestly thought after installing Ubuntu 16.04: “hey, this’ll be easy to get set up, it’s Ubuntu after all”. Ubuntu and Debian are essentially the reference platform for Steam on Linux, so you’d think it’d work without issue. At least, that was my expectation.
So what did I do?
- Installed the Deb provided by Valve.
- Launched. 2a. Okay… I can get it to launch to grab the necessary bits from Steam’s servers, like the runtime.
- Launch to the client, successfully, out-of-the-box? Nope, doesn’t launch, fails on AMD stuff (fails to load swrast, dri stuff).
Turns out you need to preload
libstdc++.so, which you’d only know if you dug into the AskUbuntu search results for “Steam”. And while that gets Steam to launch, it doesn’t actually solve the big part of Steam, which is launching and playing games.
I didn’t truly realize how impactful Solus' optimizations are until I went to run a Full HD, Blu-ray rip (MKV) under Ubuntu. I’ve gotten so used to media consumption “just working”.
Under Ubuntu 16.04? I’m watching a presentation and…is it actually needing to cache contents from my external…over USB 3.0? Yep.
Suspend & resume still remains only doable for my laptop under Solus. Fails to work on anything else, including Ubuntu 16.04. I honestly wish I was kidding, but it was actually one of the largest reasons I kept Solus installed, back when it was called Evolve OS.
All for naught?
Of course not. Here is what I’ve taken away from all of this:
- Apparently input devices over my USB hub connected over USB 3.0 keel over in general. At first I thought it was just Solus derping with my keyboard and mouse, but nope, it wasn’t. So that’s nice, I guess? I mean knowing it isn’t Solus. I found out while testing OBS, by the way.
- I already appreciate Solus' existence and staying true to being desktop-oriented and optimized for the desktop. It was blatantly obvious with just VLC alone.
- I’ve never had it so easy under Solus in terms of software availability and installation. Which is funny given the alleged “lack of packages”.
- Solus is light-years more usable than Ubuntu, out-of-the-box.
- Budgie and Arc Dark GTK theme have become necessities for my personal computing needs under Linux. Didn’t realize that unil I used Unity.
So what’s next? Test for a few more days to see if I can get a hard-lock out of this install. Either way, going back to solo-booting as soon as possible and no matter the outcome of the hard-lock testing, I’ll come out of it more informed.