using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Please post in this category if you are extremely unhappy with Porteus.
WARNING: This section may contain strong language.
Post Reply
slackermagic
Ronin
Ronin
Posts: 3
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 01:37
Distribution: LXDE
Location: the world

using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#1 by slackermagic » 21 Jan 2015, 04:05

Disclosure: I've only tried LXDE and LXQT varieties of Porteus.

Porteus has some fantastic ideas, which is why I've tried it and kept on trying it. But I feel some major problems, and I use the word "feel" because there seems to be something of a field effect in place consisting of loose threads, stray hairs. Sorry if that doesn't make sense, but I'll try to explain:

Clearly, Porteus has achieved a lot, and it has a lot of stability. It is arguably the most forward-thinking and advanced of the Slackware derivatives. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. There are of course the basic, legacy Slackware problems, the worst of which being the lack of package signing and authentication. But aside from that, one of the problems is that Porteus seems to fall victim to it's own nature, that being fluidity.

Let's take LXQT as the first example (begin rant). What are you doing basing final releases on a desktop environment that isn't production-ready? Why aren't you continuing to release LXDE until LXQT becomes mature? What it looks like is that a) being short of developers, you're forcing your users to help you iron out the bugs, and b) you think LXQT is 'cool" and you need to be inspired in order to have adequate incentive to work on Porteus yourselves.

This particular LXQT issue nicely frames the two main problems I have with Porteus: 1) too interested in innovation, at the expense of stability, reliability, documentation, and even transparency, and 2) unprofessional, immature techniques - in the case of LXQT, that being, if you want the user base to help you test software, you cal that a beta, you get beta testers, and you do not call it a release or even a release candidate until it becomes stable and has full functionality. Releasing something flawed because you know your community is going to "be cool about it" is unprofessional. Basing all new work on an immature platform (3.1-onwards will not employ LXDE at all unless that bounty thing happens) because, apparently, you find it more exciting, is immature. Developing must be exciting for volunteer developers. I know. But I wish that what excited you was a rock-solid, utterly reliable interface with comprehensive documentation and methodically published workflows. Instead, even after five years, Porteus retains the feel of a hobby mod of a larger distro (in this case a distro that has its own troubles keeping up with modern practices). You can do everything differently and your own way and still have an awesome distro, but if you want new developers from all over the world to be able to plug in on the fly and contribute immediately, you need published templates and consistent documentation in general.

You also need to have your website available; currently your main site is unreachable via Tor. This is absurd and irresponsible in the post-Snowden era.

Porteus has a lot of "exciting new feature" vibe. What about predictable, reliable, stable new features? Why are there two-three ways to save a session? Your team is inconsistent and small, why are you keeping so many systems to maintain and develop? Every "release" has the feel of an experiment in OS compilation. An actual release should be better.

The rest of my complaint is about tiny things, but things that are everywhere. Icons that resize wrong, but not every time, themes that when applied elsewhere, work perfectly, but when applied in Porteus, wash out half the window elements or only apply to some of the widgets.

And the Porteus Setting Centre - why? It seems obnoxiously egotistical. What is unique about Porteus that it needs its own "settings centre"? Do I not know how to use the start menu? Are you trying to copy the ultra-lame WIndows Control Panel? Or the hideous compiz-settings of Knoppix? Why is there an app which functions as a preferences menu IN the preferences menu? I heard you like preferences menus in your preferences menu. Hey maybe you want to add another settings menu app, and have it accessible via the settings centre? UGH. THESE ARE TERRIBLE USE EXPERIENCES. Just put the damn individual Porteus settings apps in the settings/preferences menu along with ALL THE OTHER APPS THAT ARE ALREADY IN THE PREFERENCES MENU X_X

I've taken the time and trouble to write so much because Porteus does things that no other distro does, or in all probability will do. It might not even know its own value in some respects - live mediums, for all their ubiquity, are severely underappreciated tools, and Porteus embraces, develops, and pushes the envelope of live mediums. Slackware, for all its flaws, is one of the most fun of all the Linux distros. It is fantastic that in Porteus, there are developers working to make it to do things that are extremely relevant in the modern sense.

I hope that in future the developers will concern themselves more with dotting all their "i's " and crossing all their "t's", with stabilizing and centrally documenting their development techniques (forum threads are not centralized documentation), and with streamlining and securing Porteus, rather than chasing after shiny new prizes. An excellent, powerful, and unique OS should be enough of a prize.

In the meantime, I will continue to use Porteus, and I will continue to try to adapt it to my needs. This is the first and last rant you'll hear from me, and I hope it does not offend anyone.

User avatar
francois
Contributor
Contributor
Posts: 4945
Joined: 28 Dec 2010, 14:25
Distribution: kde xfce porteus manjaro kubun
Location: Enfin l'été, le changement climatique attendu: le soleil.

Re: using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#2 by francois » 24 Jan 2015, 04:08

Your critique is rather constructive. We need more refreshing views from the outsiders.

Thanks.

However, maybe you have missed a few porteus threads about lxde and lxqt debate about moving to lxqt. Here is one:
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=3690
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=3690


Note: you can continue working with lxde with neko's module:
https://forum.porteus.org/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=2966
Last edited by francois on 25 Jan 2015, 22:52, edited 1 time in total.
Voltaire: Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

User avatar
brokenman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 5460
Joined: 27 Dec 2010, 03:50
Distribution: Porteus v3.2rcX all desktops
Location: Brazil
Contact:

Re: using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#3 by brokenman » 24 Jan 2015, 17:41

Certainly no offense was taken and I thank you for your honest assessment. You seem to focus on the release of LXQt and its immature nature. We also offer three other desktop environments that are rather stable. As I see it users can take the option of the new and less mature LXQt (and help to improve it) or go with something a little more solid. Choice.
And the Porteus Setting Centre - why? It seems obnoxiously egotistical.
I can assure you ego had nothing to do with it. We originally had no 'Porteus Settings Centre' but decided to wrap many settings into this as the menus were becoming cluttered. Perhaps a vote can be made if a large part of the community feels that the 'Settings Centre' is not necessary.
the two main problems I have with Porteus: 1) too interested in innovation, at the expense of stability
Yes moving forward is important to us. Without innovation any OS would fade away. The focus of your rant is one quarter of the desktop environments we offer. The other 75% are relatively stable.
Porteus embraces, develops, and pushes the envelope of live mediums
Pushing the envelope is an expression which means innovative. In the above quote you seem to be against this.
This is absurd and irresponsible in the post-Snowden era.
Personally I think dividing time into eras based on Snowden's information is absurd but this is opinion.
You also need to have your website available
It is most certainly available. I don't see a need to make a website tor friendly no matter what website it is. I am certain it is not in the forefront of any web developers mind when designing a site. Tor users are a minuscule portion of internet users.

I do agree with many points you've made and I hope we can implement some of them in the future. In closing I would like to express that we ARE volunteers, it IS a hobby and we ARE undermanned.
How do i become super user?
Wear your underpants on the outside and put on a cape.

User avatar
francois
Contributor
Contributor
Posts: 4945
Joined: 28 Dec 2010, 14:25
Distribution: kde xfce porteus manjaro kubun
Location: Enfin l'été, le changement climatique attendu: le soleil.

Re: using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#4 by francois » 25 Jan 2015, 22:35

'Porteus Settings Centre' is not porteus egocentric. Rather its individual egocentric use would rather be porteus community altruistic. It aims at providing tools for problems more specific to porteus os nature or to help at their resolution of this linux os system. They also help porteus community members to interact more swiftly with to be moderators and developpers. In fact, if every new porteus user and accustomed user would get to know the content of porteus setting center, there could be more targeted questions on the forum.

Use the porteus tools! :)
Voltaire: Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

slackermagic
Ronin
Ronin
Posts: 3
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 01:37
Distribution: LXDE
Location: the world

Re: using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#5 by slackermagic » 07 Feb 2015, 11:12

Your critique is rather constructive. We need more refreshing views from the outsiders.

Thanks.
Thank you for being gracious.
We also offer three other desktop environments that are rather stable. As I see it users can take the option of the new and less mature LXQt (and help to improve it) or go with something a little more solid. Choice.
Of course. LXDE-type environments have until now been the least hardware-resource-consumptive and the most user-resource-providing. Investment could happen in another DE, true, but I personally need to retain focus and budget my worktime. I'd rather not have to change. LXDE uses less resources than even XFCE, with arguably more developed and mature features; it's about as lighweight as possible without going to RatPoison, which I bet isn't much lighter (haven't tried it yet).
Pushing the envelope is an expression which means innovative. In the above quote you seem to be against this.
Indeed. But I also attempted to strongly convey the need for completeness and stability. I'll clarify now that the latter needs to be at the top of the hierarchy of priorities for a mature and release-ready distro. Beneath that should be innovation. There has to be balance; innovation must answer to stability, always, unless the developer(s) are just playing around with fun ideas.

But, yes, the innovations Porteus created are very important directions to go in, especially for Slackware, IMHO.
Personally I think dividing time into eras based on Snowden's information is absurd but this is opinion. [The main webpage] is most certainly available. I don't see a need to make a website tor friendly no matter what website it is. I am certain it is not in the forefront of any web developers mind when designing a site. Tor users are a minuscule portion of internet users.
The main webpage pretends not to exist, basically, when visited by a Tor exit node. Your view on Snowden is fair, but the point wasn't Snowden-boosting, but rather that we now know without paranoia that there is far more need for security than we previously thought - especially in information systems. It just seems immature to deflect Tor exit node traffic. In case there is confusion, I wasn't suggesting running a hidden service or something - I'm not suggesting Porteus needs a .onion address.
I do agree with many points you've made and I hope we can implement some of them in the future. In closing I would like to express that we ARE volunteers, it IS a hobby and we ARE undermanned.
Sincerely, I appreciate this fact, and your impressive level of accomplishment.
It aims at providing tools for problems more specific to porteus os nature or to help at their resolution of this linux os system.
Use the porteus tools! :)
This is an issue I'd like new conversation about, possibly it belongs in a new thread. Aren't the tools Slackware-compatible? If not, shouldn't they be? Is upstream uncooperative or disinterested?

This is where I can state plainly that I'm in the dark, and why I wish documentation was available in a more digestible container than just the forums.

Ideally, it would seems beneficial if the tools Porteus creates were able to be used on other/all Slackware-based systems. No one expects to be able to install gnome-disks/Palimpsest without installing a whole shitload of Gnome DE elements, or K3B without a ton of KDE elements. Why is your argument against Porteus tools being available separately that they are Porteus-specific, when they potentially aren't (or IMHO, could or should not be)?

I'm certain Salix or Slackel would love to include some of these tools if they were compatible. I harp on this because there is such a dearth in the computing world for this kind of live OS. Debian and RedHat don't do these things. AFAIK Gentoo doesn't do these things. The only other distro that comes close is Parted Magic (which possibly does it better), which is absurd; Parted Magic is only barely open source and isn't meant to be used as a desktop OS.

Not to mention that Slackware can use all the upstream contributions it can garner... do Porteus developers have conversations with Patrick Volkerding? AFAIK the Slackware isos don't even come available with live capability, and that seems absurd.

User avatar
francois
Contributor
Contributor
Posts: 4945
Joined: 28 Dec 2010, 14:25
Distribution: kde xfce porteus manjaro kubun
Location: Enfin l'été, le changement climatique attendu: le soleil.

Re: using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#6 by francois » 07 Feb 2015, 17:05

Your ideas are still interesting. I will not comment each of them.

On the question of the documentation, we forked from a very minimalist documented distribution which was slax. We tried to build some FAQ but still with minimalism in head because of the lack of active members and of their disponibility. Though there was a period where ahau did a lot to build and structure the porteus documentation. He worked a lot, and I presume was almost alone to do so. Most of it is still good, but some of it could be refreshed. Additional material could be added. If you want the job, I am sure that broken man and fanthom will be more than happy to hand it to you. Your thinking and writing are methodic and mature and from my perspective you seem to have pretty good knowledge of Linux.

Concerning the innovations, please make a list of them. The vision of an experienced newcomer is important to us.
Voltaire: Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

User avatar
fanthom
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4566
Joined: 28 Dec 2010, 02:42
Distribution: Porteus Kiosk
Location: Poland, currently - Cork, IE
Contact:

Re: using Porteus LX-XX for several months - a critique

Post#7 by fanthom » 08 Feb 2015, 21:54

Porteus is a live OS and is much different than Slackware/Slackware derivatives. i'm not sure which tools could be handy for them. definitely not our installer (we just copy modules from pace A to place B while in normal OS packages must be installed) and not save .dat manager (other OSes do not use AUFS and changes must be saved to partition here OS is installed).

perhaps some tools from PSC could be used by other distros but i think you are reverting the process. normally if one is interested in our tool then just grabs it and modifies to his needs.

i see no point for tweaking PSC to match distro A or distro B as there is no guarantee that they'll keep using it after a year or so.
Please add [Solved] to your thread title if the solution was found.

Post Reply