Linux Rant

Aug 31 2008

Last night I got really frustrated getting some basic functionality out of a new notebook for my friend. I am sitting here, configuring and working around stuff, while a beautiful Sunday is outside the windows.

Apart from the typical ‘won’t suspend’, 'oh that’s a wonky pulse audio daemon’, 'oh you need to install these fishy codecs’, 'oh CUPS hates people’, 'yea gstreamer doesn’t do DVD menus’ I had two extra ones that brought me to my knees.

For some reason Brasero, now the default audio CD burner used by Banshee insists on using the reverse order of the tracks to burn them and gives no obvious way to change this. This is a stupid trivial issue, hardly something a maintainer would mark as a showstopper in bugzilla, yet makes the whole toolchain useless for my friend.

The other grief was her generic mp3 player. We don’t really have the infrastructure to allow huge amounts of people to contribute information about their devices to have other people have theirs work out of the box or have data to make a good buy decision.

HAL and the FDI description files is a great technology. But I have been very frustrated last night to see my friend’s generic el cheapo mp3 player not supported only because a description file was missing. A generic usb storage device and I coudln’t see it in Banshee, nor could I just drag and drop files onto a Nautilus window (since when did Banshee lose this capability?). Sadly not even getting the FDI clobbed up didn’t end my horror.

I would so love to see a social site around this, similar to Ohloh. Earning kudos for providing FDI files for all the devices I have. Creating a timeline of what devices I have owned over the years. Seeing what devices my friends use and their Linux support status. Submitting custom icons for specific devices (seeing all the great icons in gnome-icon-theme-extras rot without being used makes me sad).