Progress on Linux

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions! I’m still plugging away at Linux, and mostly adapting just fine. My major complaints right now are with my reflexes: cut/copy/paste are handled with the control key in Linux, while in Mac OS X you have to hold down the command key, which means that every time I intend to copy some text, I instead delete it and replace it with the letter “c”, followed by a panicky attempt to undo it by adding a “z”. Also, Pop!_OS uses the command key by itself to switch to a system menu and a display of running apps, so it’s like the screen explodes in confusion every time I make an elementary mistake. Lesson learned: stop making mistakes. Or get my pinky trained to press the correct modifier button.

I’m also experiencing the joy of non-Mac klunkiness. I tinkered with KDENLive as a replacement for iMovie. It’s got some things iMovie lacks, like as many track layers as you want. On the other hand, iMovie is easy — you click on an object in a layer, tell the program to apply the green screen effect, and everything green turns transparent. In KDENLive, you do the same thing, and in addition to requiring that you set a bunch of parameters to define what “green” is, it turns everything else transparent. I’m going to have to go through a bunch of tutorials to figure it all out, while with iMovie I just ran it and everything was intuitive and obvious.

I’m committed at this point, and will master it all eventually, since this is the only laptop I’m using now. Sink or swim! Bye, Apple!


  1. Rob Bos says

    as a 23 year linux user… it warms the cockles of my heart to see one more person making that journey. it’s hard, and there’s no corporate machine greasing the path for you. expect jagged edges. good luck.

    Linux is a bit like atheism that way. The roadmap is less clear, and you have to learn some geography.

  2. F.O. says

    Good on ya PZ!

    I started running all videogames under Linux too, because I can’t be arsed to switch to Windows every time I want to play.
    AAA games are started being supported, thanks to Steam shitting in its pants over MS trying to cut away their slice of the game market.

    (Also no, resist the temptation of remapping keys.)

  3. dorght says

    Want to have command/control hell experience? Work on Mac running a Windows virtual machine. Spent years at a small company working this way because of Mac fan boy owners head butting against security requirements of contract.

  4. blf says

    (Oh for feck’s sake, what I was whinging about just happened to me — I miskeyed something and got kicked out — and I lost my still-being-edited comment! (And no, BACK didn’t work.) Goddamn fecking stoopid hot keys, perhaps the worse fecking idea in UI ever fecking invented!)

    I myself cannot stand so-called “hot key (sequences)”, with a handful of exceptions I’ve gotten used to (on Linux, CTRL+ to enlarge, CTRL to reduce, CTRL0 (zero) to restore “normal” size, CTRLf to search, and a very small number of programme / situation-specific sequences). My main problem is I’m forever miskeying (mistyping), and when whatever I just mistyped happens to be such a sequence, it causes what-the-feck is this to happen. It’s not always clear just what-the-feck happened, and very very rarely clear how to undo that what-the-feckery. (And the consequences can be very annoying, like losing the comment one is entering / editing!)

    There is no (known-to-me) setting in any UI I know of (not just Linux) for “Disable ALL hot keys excepting those explicitly enabled or defined.” (And don’t get me started on “mouse gestures”, which have the same problem only worse.)

    Like poopyhead, I also have a “reflex” problem, but mine is essentially the reverse: I’m so used to using the command-line (been using *ix since University waaaay back in the last millenium), I tend to type command-line-ish things in UIs. And I find having to use the mouse somewhat obnoxious, albeit I have more-or-less gotten used to that, which doesn’t mean I like it one Tibit (Tebibit).

  5. chrislawson says

    It bugs me that I have to switch from CTRL-C and -V in most apps to CTRL-SHIFT-C and -V in the terminal window. One of those aforementioned jagged edges.

  6. npsimons says

    @chrislawson There’s good reason for that – C-c and C-v were already taken for terminals and that was long before Jobs stole WIMP GUIs from Xerox PARC.

    As for PZ’s particular problem, I run into similar issues as an Emacs user having to put Ctrl in it’s proper place (left of ‘A’ on the home row). Not sure how to map the splat key (⌘), but I do know xmodmap will work; however it is deprecated. For mapping control to capslock type ‘setxkbmap -option ctrl:nocaps’ in a terminal. This might actually be a more preferable solution, as now you can select things with your mousing right hand, C-c/C-x, move the insertion point with your mouse, and C-v, all without your left hand ever leaving home row.

    There may be a GUI way to configure keys as well, but I am not familiar with those, sorry.

  7. blf says

    @7, That’s actually historical. CTRLc has been the default *ix “Interrupt” (broadly, terminate the current programme) setting since the early BSDs in the early 1980s, long before X11 or other GUIs were generally available on *ix (and long preceding windro$$). It wasn’t actually the first *ix Interrupt, which was DEL, causing all kinds of problems for people used to using that, rather than CTRLh (BKSP) to erase the preceding character. (The BSD choice of CTRLc &tc over BTL Unix’s idiosyncratic(?) DEL &tc almost certainly was the result of the influence of the proprietary DEC systems of the time, which were commonly used in academia.)

    Then windowing GUIs came along, with their own CTRLc &tc meanings. (And let’s not get into the different ways of selecting and copying / pasting text, &tc, that exist!)

    A lot of these are configurable, albeit I generally advise against it (is every system one uses going to using your settings, etc…).

    (Reviewing this comment, I note it’s full of acronyms which may be puzzling to some(? many?). Don’t worry about them, they are mostly for reference.)

  8. blf says

    @8, At least on my KDE system (Kubuntu), somewhere in the infinite settings menus there is a nifty tool to do all the common keyboard fix-ups, as well as (from memory) your own customisations (which, as per @9, I generally advise caution in doing). I myself have disabled the horrible misplaced oversized CAPS LOCK (it now does bugger-all except wake up a darkened screen), and, since I’m using a French AZERTY-labeled keyboard as an English QWERTY, have also added € (EUR) to its labelled position as well as its usual-ish QWERTY position. From memory, not only is that it, both were already existing predefined alterations in that KDE-centric tool. Those simple changes work for me as I’m a touch-typist and don’t need to constantly consult the “mislabeled” keys.

    (Things get more confusing when I’m not using X11, i.e., am using the console, which is configured differently mostly because I can’t be bothered to make the configurations match — in part due to being accustomed to switching between slightly difference physical QWERTY-ish keyboards.)

  9. mailliw says

    I installed Ubuntu on my old Acer laptop without any problems.

    In a way I kind of miss the days of AIX. HP-UX and BSD when Unix was a complete pain in the ass and getting anything remotely useful done took ages. On one memorable occasion I dutifully followed instructions for re-configuring the system on a customer site little suspecting that the terminal wasn’t correctly configured and I was filling the configuration files with control characters: reboot: command not found. Then a drive to our nearest office to pick up a floppy disk.

    Then working with Sybase and wondering why they had written there own disk handling routines that completely bypassed Unix. It’s because Unix couldn’t guarantee writing through to disk – which is a bit of a showstopper for a database management system.

    I suspect like many people who previously worked on proprietary mini-computers my first reaction to Unix was “is this some kind of bizarre practical joke?”

  10. petervachuska says

    You mark text with the left mouse button and paste with the middle mouse button. Easy.

  11. whheydt says

    I use just the keyboard to break you of the habit of hitting the “Command” key. It’s a Unicomp specifically without those keys.

  12. blf says

    [… W]orking with Sybase and wondering why they had written there own disk handling routines that completely bypassed Unix. It’s because Unix couldn’t guarantee writing through to disk — which is a bit of a showstopper for a database management system.

    Yeah, in those days, assuring one’s data was recorded on the rotating magnetic medium was a bit dodgy; there’s a reason long-time *ix people like myself still, to this day, issue the sync command surprisingly frequently. (Not really necessary in most situations today, it’s simply a habit — born of experiencing disasters — that’s stuck.)

    As an aside, pre-BSD, there were two ways of “guaranteeing” a completed write to disc. The strong method was to use so-called “raw” access, which bypassed the software buffer cache, but that meant one could not use an (in-kernel) filesystem and had to be very careful anything else accessing the so-called “raw” partition / slice wasn’t interfering. Sybase, Oracle, and others all did this.

    The weak method was to issue the sync system call (or command). The problem here was, in those days, “sync” was asynchronous! I.e., when control returned from “sync”, that did not mean all the data which should have been written had, in fact, been written, only that the data is (probably) in the queue to be written very very soon. It also meant errors writing the data would not necessarily be noticed. Neither property was very good — useless, basically — for (data-)resiliency.

    That’s long since all changed. I won’t claim this class of issues is nowadays entirely moot — I recently had this very problem with an encrypted persistent key-store — but now mechanisms exist to deal with the complexities.

    (Boy, some of this is really really taking me back… and is very very unlikely to be an issue for poopyhead at all! (I actually interviewed at Sybase and can recalling discussing disc-handling, but precisely what was discussed is now lost to the fading vacuum tubes of time.))

  13. davem says

    I used Kdenlive for a short time, but abandoned it for Openshot, which I find easier to use, and does all the stuff you need.

  14. npsimons says

    @blf re: @8 re: “A lot of these are configurable, albeit I generally advise against it (is every system one uses going to using your settings, etc…).” – the beauty of Linux (and I’m assuming OSX now that Apple actually acknowledges multi-user and has a BSD userspace) is that key configurations transfer rather easily, eg through text configuration files, which, bonus, can be version controlled. Last I checked, on Windows you need admin privileges to remap ctrl to capslock because it’s set in the freaking system registry for all users. Annoying.

    I use to have the console set up as well, but ironically it stopped working while X settings carry on. Probably when all the *-kit packages started replacing old school things, I can’t be arsed to look into it as I very rarely get to console any more.

  15. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Note: For the technical people out there, regarding Worse Is Better, the only way that I can make sense of the origin story is to replace “(hardware) interrupt” with “software signals, e.g. SIGINT, SIGTERM, etc.”. Then it makes perfect sense to me.