On 23rd of April 2015, Mihai Șucan passed away due to metastatic cancer caused by
My name is Mihai and I work on the
Firefox developer tools. When it comes to web development, I like
both server-side and client-side work. I am mainly interested in web browsers, web standards and related
5 November 2008, 19:44
Sunday I upgraded my Ubuntu
installation to the new version: Ubuntu 8.10. Almost three years ago I switched to using Linux exclusively. I haven't reinstalled
Ubuntu since then. I always upgrade my system every 6 months, and then I spend a few days fixing post-upgrade issues. It's
a pleasure. ;)
I am working on a new painting Web application. The greatest surprise to me was that the new Konqueror 4 implements
<canvas>, and it does this theoretically better than Opera. I will
make my Web application public and you will see this. Amazing and very quick work done by the Konqueror developers.
Note: I initially thought that the Konqueror implementation of Canvas is just a copy of the code from Webkit, but it's not. They wrote their own code, which is great.
On a related note, I have published a new page with some of
my Linux configuration files.
9 February 2008, 15:23
Recently I had the chance to observe how someone learns to use a computer, without having any prior experience. She
doesn't even have experience with using mobile phones or any technology - except TV remote controls.
Since she has no experience with computers I gave her a Linux-based system to learn with: Ubuntu
7.10. This is a vanilla installation, in Romanian language (she knows only Romanian). The Web browser of choice is Opera with an unofficial Romanian translation, obviously.
For experienced computer users the whole WIMP metaphor of today's GUIs might seem very easy, but it's not for newcomers. For example, the windows concept is too abstract:
she doesn't know when a window has focus. That's even after explaining to her when a window is focused and when not, several
times. She once believed the window is the title bar itself.
Focusing windows, text fields and various interface elements is not intuitive at all. It's hard to know where the text
you type will show - in which field, in which window. Generally, she moved the pointer on top of the field she wanted
to write to - without caring if the window was active, or if the field was active. Moving the pointer on top the field
was her intuitive solution to the problem: "I want to write here". She quickly forgot that a field is focused if she
sees a blinking cursor in the given field. As such, when she remembers about the field focus, she always clicks the
field, just to be sure it's focused.
Her attention span is very problematic. If a dialog or a notification pops-up, she won't notice it at all. If you tell
her something new showed-up on screen, she believes it was always there, or ... she asks "when did it show up?".
Computers, and technology in general, make us multi-task a lot, they force us to be always alert to any change on
screen. When you use computers, you can't focus on one issue at a time as good as people normally do. Not to mention
the fact she didn't have automatic system updates poping up, antivirus updates, dreadful Java updates and tons of
annoying Windows-only crap. That would make computers a lot harder to use.
I did not yet explain her the differences between lots of interface widgets and concepts. It's too hard to keep up
with the tons of concepts and interface widgets, how each work. She eventually needs to learn the difference between
combo-boxes, radio buttons, menus, icons, buttons, task bar buttons (and the association with the "windows" concept),
notification tray and the associated icons of running applications, tab bars, scroll bars, and multiple desktops
A special note about workspaces: among the first things she did, was to switch to a different workspace without
knowing what happened. She was very confused: "where did my windows go? I closed them all?". I immediately disabled
The whole mouse concept is also hard. She doesn't know when to click, double-click, triple-click, middle click, right
click and drag. It's confusing to be required to hold the button down for longer or shorter periods of time. She
believes all three buttons do the same thing. I believe mice have too many buttons. This is one reason I agree with
Apple's one-button mouse. There's something she learned really quick: the mouse wheel is easy and intuitive - just
spin the wheel to scroll the Web page.
The keyboard is generally intuitive, but she always keeps the buttons pressed for a longer time than necessary (thus
she gets duplicated keys). I could configure keyboard delays to be longer, so she would not be affected by the issue,
but still, the defaults should probably more suited to beginners. Additionally, the concept of modifier keys, like Control, Alternate, Logo, Caps Lock, Shift, Scroll Lock and Number Lock are, again, counter-intuitive. I haven't yet explained her keyboard shortcuts.
About scroll bars I can say people see a photo, and they want to move it to the left. To do so, they press the left
key to scroll/move the image to the left. Actually, with scroll bars you have to press the right key to the see right
side of the image. While I understand both expectations, I do believe computer user interfaces should follow the
"default thinking". Why not reverse scroll bars? They would work as people expect naturally. I saw this is expected by
other people as well, people who don't use computers, not only her.
Menus are annoying because they show up out of "nowhere" and they disappear too soon. She's always confused when using
menus. People do not expect, intuitively, that things change on screen based on the mouse position. Another issue with
menus, but more with linguistics is best explained by an example: in Opera, I told her "go to Bookmarks menu" which
she did, "then Bookmark page". Her reply was: "how to bookmark the page?". This linguistic issue is amusing: she just
had to click the menu item "bookmark page" - easy, but it wasn't obvious. This problem happens quite often.
Context-based hovers pose an important problem. It's not intuitive to move your mouse on top of something, for context
information. This even disturbs her usual computer usage. She doesn't care where she leaves the mouse. For example, in
Opera she sometimes leaves the mouse on top of a tab title. After a second or two, the tab thumbnail shows up, which
begs the question "what happened?". She is no longer able to read the Web page. The problem with hovers is even
greater when they provide options, like Web-based hover menus. I know our Web site exhibits this very issue, but ...
we have to live with that decision for now. :)
Tool tips for context-based information are more like a hack for forcing the user to read/see what the author wanted.
Newcomers don't expect to get any help by moving the mouse on top of an option, nor do they want it. I believe users
would benefit a lot more from a general approach, easy to use, for getting help in any moment - something like
man on Unix systems (in
Having accounts for Web mail, instant messaging, and for every service is quite confusing. She would expect she has
only one account which allows her to boot the system, and get every service working, automatically.
I would add that the whole concept of having different applications for different purposes started manually, is not
very intuitive. Finding a good and intuitive reason for a newcomer as to why you must start Pidgin for instant
messaging, or Opera for Web browsing, is not really easy. Users expect the computer "does" the things they want - not applications
running in an OS. When she clicks on the Opera icon she doesn't see the Opera
window instantly, as such she clicks it several times more. This can seem amusing, but ... actually, why does
everything have to startup? It would be interesting if we could have a reachitectured OS which would provide every
application/functionality instantly. People like the fact their TV doesn't have to boot, it doesn't have to prebuffer
streaming data, nothing. They just work.™ Having more than one media player, more than one Web browser, and in general
more applications for the same purpose, complicates everything a lot more. While I believe choice is good, I also
believe choice should be available to those informed, not forced onto everybody, from day one. This is where I agree
with Ubuntu, Mac OS X and Windows: they do not initially provide tons of options -
you just go ahead and use the system. Unfortunately, Microsoft and Apple try to limit the choices for experts, unlike
From the perspective of a newcomer, the separation between Web applications and software applications is confusing,
again. Even computer users who are not experts today, mistake Meebo as being a software
application. In the minds of average Joe computer users, the two concepts are fuzzy. People don't know Web sites/applications
do not have the same priviledges as, say, Pidgin. A new system which would allow a
complete merger between software and Web applications would help newcomers. Fortunately, this is already happening.
I was very tempted to teach the newcomer how to use computers in Ubuntu's virtual terminal, only with the command
line. She wouldn't have to learn so many things. She wouldn't have to focus on so many things which do not matter. She
would be able to play music, videos, chat and browse the Web with greater ease once she learns the commands. This is
what I like about the CLI: the system is multi-tasking, yet it does allow you focus on one application at a time. You
always know where your text shows up when you type. People like to know where to look, to focus, all the time. GUIs
are too dynamic with respect to "where should I look now?". In CLI mode, you just follow the "dialog" with the
There's one thing I didn't expect: she was able to navigate Web pages a lot easier than she could use the OS. She
didn't need any training, apart from "you click on links, on images, on texts which are underlined, usually they are
blue". Yet, things got worse once she stumbled on Web sites with menus, or with "complex" actions. Web pages which use
the anchor target=_blank attribute value break the back button - which is very annoying actually.
The OLPC project aims to improve user interfaces,
among other things. I like about this project that the
Sugar interface is about activities, not applications. Automatic updates
and installations are a lot simpler. The user focuses only on one application/activity at a time, with no overlapping windows.
Newer interface concepts like Sugar and the ZUI want to give focus to a single application, a single activity, without giving up any multi-tasking capabilities. The
user should be given the power to be uninterrupted, to focus on any single task.
One idea I have for an user interface would be to present the user all windows full screen, no toolbars, no menus, no
desktop. Imagine your word processor showing only the rulers, scroll bars and your document. The OS provides only a
command line, always visible at the bottom of the screen when you press a certain key to toggle it on/off. When it's
on, you always write a command you want, with automatic complete, as good as possible. The command line would allow
for system commands (such as switch to another window, "play song", "do whatever", "set whatever", etc), and
application-specific commands. Say you are in a word processor, you can use the command "save". With this approach,
the command line could become internationalized, available in multiple languages - making it a lot easier for
newcomers. APIs would allow any developer to build software and
Web applications which hook into the command line.
This system would allow the user to do as much as possible in a single way. Multiple ways to do the same should be
allowed for those interested, for "experts". Newcomers should be able to learn something as simple and intuitive as
the keyboard and a simpler pointing device than the mouse. Let the user be able type "play song song-name", "open
www.google.com", "search ...". Something like an universal command line which is context aware in GUIs as well. A
command line which allows users to build better habits, without any notifications, without any task bar, without
multiple windows. Allow the user to manually check for notifications from the command line, allow the user to switch
to other tasks instantly - don't require application startup. Users don't have to start Opera to open a page. Just
"open www.google.com". Allow users to define which application is associated. Users would focus much better on their
The Enso Launcher is a promising free product which tries to be an universal
command line, bridging GUIs with CLI. I would wish such efforts would be brought onto Linux, in a unified desktop environment.
Currently, Enso Launcher and similar applications are awesome "toys" - however they are not yet The System itself.
The new Microsoft Office 2007 package is a bold release by Microsoft - I was glad to see such big changes. While some
people blame the GUI choices, and others blame the changes are too drastic, I like it - they did something.
They gave up
stagnation, to try new things. Based on my experience with Word I can say I like to use it a lot more than
previous versions, and yes, I discover new features a lot quicker.
In spite of all the efforts of the Office team I was disappointed by only one major flaw: they did not
add a quick search field in Word, always visible, at the top of window (maybe on the right would be best). This "quick
search" field would be brilliant if they would allow users to: search for all the help, and apply any
of the available commands. For example allow me to type "help file formats", "save", "save as new.docx", "open old.docx",
"insert image", "bold", "go to page 10", "insert equation" and a lot more. No matter what, no matter how brilliant people
are, they will not be able to squeeze tons of options into an easy-to-use GUI, and easy-to-learn GUI. You are always thrown
back to the command-line, or to a perfect Voice recognition system (which doesn't exist yet).
Some say Vim is too hard to use compared to any other editor. I dare to say it's easier
to use compared to today's modern IDEs, simply because you do
not have to learn tons of concepts which are completely unrelated to the given task: file editing. If you take a
complete computer beginner, I'm certain he would learn how to use Vim faster, when compared to any IDE. Before you can
teach anyone how to use the modern editor itself, you have to teach the person all the GUI concepts. In Vim you can
just go ahead and explain how to do basic editing, then allow him/her to discover new capabilities. Vim has tons of
options and features - the same goes for IDEs, but Vim looks very simple.
It's like with kids: parents don't explain to kids
everything on the first day they ask something. Who in his/her right mind would explain in details why the sky
is blue? Or... the usual question: where do kids come from? :) You allow them to evolve, to grow up, to understand, to
find the answers themselves.
With this being said, I look forward to new interface metaphors, new ways to interact with computers and technology in
6 October 2007, 17:01
Given the fact I'm constantly checking new Opera builds, I repeat lots
of things. I decided to write my own BASH script which does the common
To better understand how the script works, and what it needs to do for me, here's an explanation of my usual testing
First, I run Ubuntu Linux. I always keep and use the latest official stable
release of Opera. I don't use the Debian package, because I want to
upgrade more often than the repos. As such, I use the official tar.gz/tar.bz2 packages: I unpack them myself and I
upgrade the files manually.
My stable Opera installation is self-contained within a single folder: ~/bin/opera. My profile is self-contained as
well, within ~/bin/opera/usersettings (the default profile folder). I don't risk using ~/.opera. This way, I can make
sure I always backup my entire Opera nicely - just the usersettings folder. That's where I keep all the Opera files,
including plugins and emails.
I keep the weeklies in a completely separate folder: ~/opera-dev/linux. Here I manually unpack tar.gz/tar.bz2
archives. The nice thing about the Opera archives is you can immediately run them, since they create their own profile
subfolders. This way I can have as many Opera "installations" running simultaneously without any problems.
By now, you can tell I have to manually move the archives I download to a predefined location where I store them.
Also, if I want to test an experimental build with my stable profile, I generally don't have time to do it. That's
because I would have to manually modify the INI files to point to the location of the experimental build, after I copy
the entire stable profile folder. That's boring. :)
As such, here's how to use the Opera2 script:
This removes the profile of your latest Opera build. You can configure where experimental builds are located using
The same as above, but Opera will be started afterwards.
opera2 unpack opera-*.tar.bz2/gz
This unpacks the Opera build you want designated by the second argument. The build must be provided as a tar.gz or
tar.bz2 file - as the official ones are. The package will moved to the configured
DIR_OP_PACK, and the content of the archive will be extracted to your DIR_OP_DEV.
opera2 unpack-run opera-*.tar.bz2/gz
The same as above, but the script will also start Opera from the extracted folder.
opera2 upgrade opera-*
This will "upgrade" the Opera build you want designated by the second argument - a folder name starting with
"opera-" followed by the major and minor version (this is the default naming of Opera builds). If the second
argument is not specified, the current working directory will be used.
The script will copy files from your stable profile folder (defined by DIR_OP_STABLE) to the profile of
the build you specified. The script will also make some changes to several copied files (will replace all paths
pointing to the stable Opera installation folder to the new build).
Warning: Doing this will DELETE the profile of the target Opera build. The script does NOT try to detect if the
destination folder is REALLY an experimental build. Do NOT run this on your Opera stable installation folder.
opera2 any thing else (or no arguments)
This will start the latest Opera build from the configured
DIR_OP_DEV with the provided arguments. You can configure other applications to automatically open links
with this script - the latest Opera build.
You should check the script source ... to be sure it will not break your stable installation. :) Always check the
result of running this script before starting Opera.
As you can see, the script is tailored to my needs. Care should be taken when using the script. I am sure it does not
work if your stable installation is configured with "exotic" file paths. The script was only tested with Opera 9.x
builds, on Ubuntu 7.04.
Download the Opera2 script.
1 August 2007, 12:31
Someone contacted me several months ago asking for my KDE color scheme, after he read my blog post about the Kubuntu theme.
Now I had the time to do so. Download my KDE Human color scheme.
Note: The color scheme was made for personal use. No changes were made for this release. I did not intend
to make it look very good/professional. Actually, I believe it looks pretty bad in KDE. I use GNOME and the colors are
picked such that the KDE applications look good enough in GNOME.
I use the Polyester KDE Style. You might
want to try the Klearlook KDE style as well. Both styles
are available in the Ubuntu repositories.
For making your KDE applications even more ... Human, make sure you pick the Human icons in KControl.
Good luck. :)
12 November 2006, 15:49
Some time ago I upgraded to Ubuntu Edgy. Due to many complaints about failed upgrades, I've decided to upgrade as
safely as possible.
My definition of safe upgrade meant doing it "sandboxed" once, and if there no serious problems, I do it on my
live/real system. Therefore, I copied all my current system to a secondary HDD, I created a new virtual machine in VMWare Server which uses the physical HDD to boot. Once the system booted I ran the normal upgrade procedure. Doing this I've learned
that the same Linux installation can boot on completely different machines (different drives/hardware, same architecture).
Of course this didn't work as easy & quick as wanted.
I used the Damn Small Linux distribution (LiveDistro) to install GRUB within the virtual machine. I didn't use Ubuntu itself
as a LiveDistro - too graphical for administration purposes, and rather slow in VM. :)
I used tar to create a big uncompressed file of the entire root. From /home I excluded some big files
& folders manually.
Before booting the snapshot of my system in VMWare I had to edit
/boot/grub/menu.lst to manually remap the mount points.
The system booted properly without any problems. I just had to run
sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg because VMWare has a different video card. Then xorg also worked. It's
really interesting to see your entire system running sandboxed, in the same system. :)
As a measure of protection I edited /etc/hostname
and /etc/hosts. In the first file I changed the host name of the virtual machine, to avoid conflicts
with mine. In the second file I made the host name of the host system to point to localhost (127.0.0.1). I didn't need
network access to the host from the guest. Also, this change still allowed me to access the host, by IP.
I mounted the alternate CD image of Ubuntu 6.10 and I started the upgrade. I had very bad luck since for no specific
reasons xorg crashed in the host OS, taking VMWare down. That was my first xorg crash :). I rebooted the host, I
rebooted the guest and resumed the upgrade. Xorg crashed again. And again. And again. After several restarts, after
several crashes upgrade finished. WOW.:)
I edited the /boot/grub/menu.lst on the host system, and I edited /etc/fstab on the guest
system for the purpose of booting the newly upgraded system natively. It worked properly - after reconfiguring xorg, of
Due to the crashes keyboard layouts were completely damaged (almost unusable keyboard in Xorg). Other than this and
several small issues, not worth reminding, everything was "fine".
I was pretty much surprised Xorg crashed due to VMWare. I have used VMWare with Windows in my Ubuntu installation for
quite long. I had no problems. I noticed my xorg crashes when I start xorg in the guest OS.
I have tested Beryl+XGL. Quite nice, but slow :). I couldn't install compiz (problems with their packages in that
day), neither AIXGL (my Nvidia Geforce 4 is too old).
Being glad the upgrade went "smooth" overall, given Xorg crashes, I decided to upgrade my real system.
So I did. No crashes. Everything went rather well. No keyboard layout problems, maybe because I did switch my system
back to english, english keyboard, before I started, so the upgrade tool won't be confused. I also did set LC_ALL
environment variable manually (in VMware dpkg complained about missing LC_ALL for many packages).
First thing I didn't like about Edgy was the boot splash. It looks good, but it hides all information - quite
annoying. The solution was to uninstall usplash, and remove "quiet" from the kernel arguments list in my GRUB
Another problem I had was Firefox 2: no extension wanted to install. The solution was to remove my profile folder, eh.
Then the DOM Inspector disappeared :). I had to manually add the extension to some INI files.
Another thing I disliked is that GRUB menu.lst now uses UUIDs instead of the human-readable /dev/hd*. Why?...
I don't know why, but Xorg in Ubuntu Edgy is less stable. I got several crashes - I didn't notice what's causing them.
Quanta doesn't want to start in French. It's always English, and I have all the French language support packages. I've
been told I should have quanta.mo somewhere in my root - I don't. Yet, I have kdewebdev.mo which contains the Quanta
French language strings.
The new apt-index-watcher package used 100% of my CPU every 10 seconds, until I removed it. :)
Was the upgrade worth it? The answer is almost no. I don't like they don't include the latest gaim 2 beta. There's
beta 5 now and they still have beta 3.1 (you can't convince me beta 3.1 is somehow better than beta 5).
Maybe I'll do a clean install next time. Debian...
6 September 2006, 18:54
One of the first steps, and most likely the easiest, in making KDE and GNOME seem consistent is getting both of them
have the same themes.
I simply don't understand (somebody explain to me please) why is Kubuntu required to have a completely different theme
Seriously, guys, if you really want that, then no problem: Kubuntu blue and Ubuntu orange. BUT at least take the time
and provide both of the themes so we can select the one we want in the theme managers of both DEs.
I personally favour Ubuntu's theme. I can't get get KDE apps to look exactly as those in GNOME. I switched to
polyester, I applied my own color theme (the Ubuntu colors available on kde-look suck,
and that's nicely said - I had to make mine). The biggest problem is changing the icons. I believed this should be easy:
in kcontrol I find the icon set named Human. Yes, it changes most of the icons, but the most obvious ones are still the
blue KDE Crystal: file icons - and some others :). Again, KDE-Look provides amateurish Human iconsets for KDE which don't
even properly work.
Oh and for those wondering: somebody cannot live in a GNOME-only box, or KDE-only box. It's not going to happen, not
today, not tomorrow.
Hint: this is not a "job" that needs to be done by neither of the DE teams. It's the "job" of the distro
Making the orange theme the default in Kubuntu would be awesome, not because of the theme itself - I'd say the same if
Ubuntu would use by default the Kubuntu theme.
Bonus suggestion: while they are at it, they should configure the default behaviour of KDE to match the
one of GNOME (or vice-versa).
Summary of the post: get the GNOME theme on KDE, and get the KDE theme on GNOME. It's easy, it's doable,
both DEs are capable of it.
P.S. I don't like the purple theme in Kubuntu Edgy Eft.
13 June 2006, 17:20
I have upgraded to the latest Ubuntu version about a week ago. I have chosen the "alternate" upgrade method: I
downloaded the ubuntu-6.06-alternate-i386.iso and mounted the image. I also added the CDROM, as pointed by the Ubuntu Dapper upgrade guide on their wiki. Of course, I also downloaded all the upgrades which are not available on the CD, so I won't have any surprises.
- Logout procedure crashed: gnome-session had some problems.
After reboot Xorg failed to start. I found out GLcore module was removed. To my surprise, no nvidia-glx either.
Reason: nvidia-xconfig and nvidia-settings were previously installed. In the new Ubuntu Dapper you are not allowed
to install those two packages alongside nvidia-glx. So, the automatic upgrade procedure picked the "best" option: no
nvidia driver at all. LOL. I reinstalled the nvidia-glx package and removed nvidia-settings and nvidia-xconfig. Back
Keyboard preferences were lost. It also lost which keyboard layouts I have, which accessiblity features I have
enabled. Not a big deal.
VMWare Workstation 5.5 fails to start with some errors regarding libcairo, libpng and libbonobo. Problem not yet
solved. Anyone has some suggestions? I of course recompiled the module for the new kernel. I even tried complete
Because of the first problem, it also removed the ubuntu-desktop metapackage, therefore I missed a few new packages
(funny). Problem solved.
For unexperienced users these kinds of problems are a real turn off. This has been said before.
Overall, the upgrade was worth it. Congrats guys! I like the updated interface for Gnome, the speed improvements (now
I'm back to Gedit instead of Mousepad, hehe), etc.
The new Deskbar applet is very cool, I like it much. However it's unusable due to the fact each time I type an address
of a site starting with www. then continuing to .whatever ... the deskbar popup. That's silly and annoying. I've
disabled the "web" plugin in the deskbar preferences. I still can't type www.google.com. Therefore, I won't use the
deskbar applet. Otherwise I would've liked using it.
That's about all.
Update 2006-06-16: Ubuntu team updated the kernel and many other packages in the repositories. After applying
all updates, VMWare works again! Plus the deskbar does no longer show when writing web address. Kudos to the Ubuntu team.
4 February 2006, 17:33
I decided to try the latest Ubuntu Linux.
I have previously tried Fedora Core 2 and before that I had some very old Red Hat, but that's all very long time ago
and ... I always switched back to Windows for various reasons, such as, but not limited to: networking with Windows
(Samba-fun), TV tuner configuration (I never got this close to "working"), slow Internet connection (couldn't download
a gazillion of packages), getting video/audio playback and what-not. With FC 2 there were some really cool
advancements: easier to configure, better package management and seriously stable Gnome (compared to what I tested on
the very old Red Hat).
Installing Ubuntu was easy, but I have to say it took more time than Windows XP Professional installation (don't flame
me, it's true on my system).
I had the pleasure of finding the local area connection
almost working properly. I was able to access shared folders from other Windows machines in just a few
minutes. Configuration wasn't a hassle at all. I said it worked almost perfect because I still had to manually edit a file,
so I can share my own files on the Windows network.
Ubuntu Wiki is a great resource of information and documentation. Very easy to follow
I haven't had big problems with Ubuntu. Everything seems to work just fine. I have removed my Windows installation and
now I got only Ubuntu (one month ago). I am actually writing this blog post in Gedit :)- it's safer to have a local
I've got everything working properly without too much hassle (actually very little ... if I read Ubuntu Wiki, which I
don't always do, because I sometimes forget :) ).
TV tuner configuration was uhm ... lets say a piece of cake. Yet, I got my TV tuner working on Ubuntu after a few
weeks :P. Why? I was busy configuring other more important stuff and ... TV tuner configuration was a bit "hard": I
had to search on Yahoo for some documentation about bttv. The problem: I had v4l and v4l2 working perfectly from the
start, but no TV application was able to search for the channels. Why? The driver didn't detect the exact tuner
type/card I have (Mentor TV). Solving the problem was a piece of cake: modprobe bttv card=78.
On Windows I was using DScaler for viewing the TV (I have no need for PVR software).
It was quite a CPU intensive application (100% constantly), because it has some very good deinterlacing filters. Gladly,
the Linux counter-part is much better :). I use KDE TV 3.5. It's faster than Dscaler, features-packed and very good.
The minor annoyances that affected Ubuntu a bit were:
- I had to install gcc-3.4 to be able to install kernel modules.
Firefox 1.5 was not available in the repositories: manual install is required (not a big hassle once you read the
Ubuntu boots slower than Windows XP. Why? Even after I removed all the unnecessary boot services. Guess what? The
slow part is not the graphical boot (actually gdm and gnome start-up faster than the graphical system of Windows).
The loading section until gdm starts takes the most time.
- Opera wasn't available in the repositories. :P
Movie and audio playback wasn't hard to install at all. Movie playback is actually much faster than on Windows using
Mplayer with XV output. Very fast player and good one. I use VLC only for heavy duty stuff. :)
The part that I liked the most was installing PHP 5, MySQL 4.1, PHPMyAdmin and Apache 2. Much faster and easier than
on Windows (of course).
Unexpected goodies of Linux: WINE, accessiblity support (magnifier, TTS,
on-screen keyboard display and screen readers) and more I'm forgetting.
I've switched to Linux. Nothing more to add.
P.S. I like the Human theme. :D