I really like Ubuntu with apt-get and synaptic to manage and install software, the total freedom to customize and yadayada you’ve all heard it before. However, sometimes the experience is not so pleasant, crazy actually, the first incident happened in the very beginning of my Ubuntu usage about 2 years ago. The culprit then was Beryl (now Compiz Fusion). After installing Beryl on my Nvidia powered desktop machine at home it started to randomly freeze the living shit out of it in a completely random way. It’s a total horror to have the coolest windowing in the world and it isn’t working, so close but yet so far away! That was the first time I realized I was feeling something I had never felt before as a Windows user, or in this context for that matter, envy.
I was envious of the people who had a proper hardware and driver setup which managed to run Beryl 100%. In fact Compiz Fusion must be the biggest envyware in the world at the moment, only a select few can run it, the rest of us just have to wait for some arbitrary point in the future when it will work on our hardware, if it ever happens… Anyway, I accepted the fact that it simply didn’t work for me and convinced myself that I was crazy, it was just eye candy for fucks sake! I suppressed the whole ordeal and moved on.
From there on everything worked just fine for a long time until very recently when I realized that the old version of Banshee that I’m using for my music needs is a really neat thing. It certainly spanks iTunes ass. One of the coolest features is a list of similar music to what you are currently listening to. I’ve found a lot of new pearls this way.
I started to wonder what the newest and greatest version would be like, decided to check it out and the feature list is impressive. I added their repository to my list, installed it, ran it, imported my music, double clicked a song and everything vanished. The word vaporware got a whole new meaning, no error messages or anything, no nothing. I tried again, same result, total crash. By now that horrible feeling of envy had come over me again. Somehow a lot of people out there all over the place were probably enjoying a spanking new Banshee, but not me. I wanted to curse them, the developers, and the day I started out using Linux for more than work.
Somehow I managed to recoup from that horror story too, the human mind is a peculiar thing, so resilient. Anyhow a few days ago I came across this new ultra cool project called Songbird. So sweet, it was fate. I was never meant to use Banshee, in fact if the new Banshee had worked properly I might not have looked for an alternative and might not have found Songbird when I did. I was not cursed, I was lucky!
Installing Songbird is really easy, download and double click the executable basically, nice. I even installed a few addons before I imported my music and pressed play. Nothing happened, I couldn’t believe it, not again! The app would try to play each song for about 10 secs before moving on and trying the next in the list, but no sound. This time I swore not to give up. I found their support forum and described the problem. The solutions started coming and I was dejavued back about two years in time to a dark age of xorg.conf editing in ever more desperate attempts to get Beryl to work, but this time it was the audio instead. Of course it was all in vain, nothing worked. You can follow the thread over here in all its glory.
If you checked out the thread you will know that the culprit is my gstreamer setup, something is not right, however a lot of other media apps using gstreamer are working properly, including of course my old and trusted Banshee. Songbird and probably the new Banshee are thus bitchware, for some reason they can not accept the way my gstreamer is setup when all other apps play nicely. I would really like to know if it’s because of necessity due to feature set or laziness. I hope it’s the former.
This morning my impotent rage finally gave way to resigned indifference, I was ready to let it go and move on yet again. Then Pidgin reports that I have to download and install a new version for ICQ to work. The killer app of killer apps, the IM client to rule them all had betrayed me after over two years of outstanding service. First in the form of Gaim, then as the old Pidging and finally the new Pidgin. A sordid transformation from awesome to some kind of snobware that thinks it can actually order me around and turn off important features if I don’t do as it says, unbelievable. Everything seems lost now.
I hold no grudge towards the Beryl, Songbird and Banshee developers, they’ve done an outstanding job in creating awesome applications and the Songbird support is great, keep up the good work! No this is more a venting of frustration, why me, why was this cruel fate my lot in life, everything seems to be working for everyone else, why not me, what did I do wrong?
But why oh why couldn’t the new Pidgin handle the ICQ problem through some automatic update or something? Is it really that impossible to make the program download something from a server in order to cope with changes in protocols and such? Stuff like this never happened with Gaim. Am I doomed to having to constantly download and compile new versions as soon as some detail changes? If that’s the case then my Linux on the desktop days will truly end in tears. I will have to run back to Windows in utter humiliation.