O tempora, o mores

Q: Isn't it great that an increasing fraction of young people use Linux on their desktops or notebooks?
A: No.

First of all, they don't use Linux: they use Ubuntu. Exclusively. Not Ku-, not Lu-, not Xubuntu. Uhhhhbuntu.

And why? Well, according to my research, because it's different and has a certain coolness factor. It's poor man's Apple, and even the cage looks golden at the first glance.

So, second, they use it for all the wrong reasons.

Consequently, and thus third, they have no clue of what they are doing, and if an issue cannot be solved by clicking, they are lost. That's neither cool nor great.

A most amusing example of this particular species of users is Bastian, a 26 years old electrical engineer, member of the Pirate party, owner and avid user of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts and a high-end Sony Vaio with Ubuntu 12.10 (which, I have to admit, was installed by my own stupid self).

Bastian wanted to install an 'app' (he calls all programs 'apps') which he couldn't find in the software store of Ubuntu. He wasn't able to tell me which 'app', but anyway, he claims to have installed something with the help of the internet. He didn't like what he installed, however, and attempted to uninstall it. Since this attempt, Firefox tends to pause sometimes for several seconds or even freezes indefinitely. Bastian's way to "deal" with this problem is to press the power button. *sigh*

There are several better ways. As a matter of fact, there are only better ways (and I'm not even talking about actually solving such issues, oh no):

  • Clients of the X server which have locked up are most satisfactorily eliminated with the key combination ctrl-alt-esc, also known as Xkill.Try, it's addictive. 😄
  • One can also switch to another console with ctrl-alt-F1 (F2, F3...) and kill the misbehaving program from there. Oh, I forgot: to kill the program, use 'htop' to find your program. Press F9. Try SIGTERM first, then SIGKILL. Or, if you don't have htop, type 'pidof misbehavinprog', and then 'kill -9 pid'. Or 'killall misbehavinprog', that'll also work.
  • And if you can't change to another console, and even your system doesn't seem to respond, there's still the magic sysrequest. Check if it's enabled: 'sysctl -n kernel.sysrq'. If not, issue 'sysctl kernel.sysrq=1'. Don't forget to make this change permanent by editing /etc/sysctl.conf (other distributions may put this switch in /etc/sysctl.d/99-sysctl.conf). The next time your Ubuntu locks up, hold down alt-print and enter reisub. Yes: REISUB. Raising elephants is so utterly boring. Type it slowly so the system has time to do the job you're asking it to do.

Bastian told me he can't possibly remember that, and asked if there isn't an app for it.

I decided to warmly congratulate him on this idea. 😄