What I hate about Linux


Ok so do you remember, oh (looks it up) last October, I mentioned that I might blog about dropping Windows and almost going back within a week? Well I never got around to blogging about it and I’ve forgotten a lot of the details now. However something similar has happened over the last two days so I’ll tell you about that instead.

OK. So what you need to know is that at work (from whence (whence? is that right?) I am writing this now) I run Suse 9.3. Which in case you don’t know is a type (or distribution, ‘distro’) of Linux OS. (Though to be fair if you don’t know that you’ll probably find this whole post boring.) If you do know something about Linux you’ll know that 9.3 is a bit long in the tooth. In fact I got this PC just under a year ago and initially installed Suse 10.0 – which I quickly uninstalled and installed 9.3 instead. But the reasons I run Suse are:

– I’ve used previous versions of Suse and liked it

– it’s RPM-based

the reason for running 9.3 are:

– it has gcc 3.3.5 (i.e. not 4.x)

– the desktop search tool, beagle, in 10.0 seemed to slow it down unnecessarily (they’ve probably fixed that in 10.1)

The RPM and gcc version things ae things that I need for work. OK, not need, but makes my life much easier. So 9.3 is a good fit, if a bit old.

Now, M. and I have been exchanging a lot of mobile phone texts lately. Which is all good and lovely and lots of fun – as any communication with M. tends to be. However I hate typing anything longer than ‘Yes’ on a phone. Predictive texting is all well and good but my typing skills on a real keyboard beat that any day. M. loves to text. And she does it fast. You should see that thumb fly. Nice for her. Not so for me.

So, thinks I, I’ll see if there’s a program for Linux I can use on the PC – to type the words on the PC but send them through the phone. And there is, it’s called ‘kmobiletools’. Kmobiletools is pretty cool. It does more than just texting – it’ll sync contacts and allow you to make and receive calls from the PC – but texting’s what I use it for. For which it works well. Sorta.

See I’ve been using it for a while and the version I use – 0.4.3.3 – is the latest ‘stable’ version. It has a couple of quirks. One is that you can’t always get it to send two texts to the same number in a row. I get around this because, for reasons I don’t know, I have two entries for M.’s mobile on my phone. One that starts 07…, the other that starts +447… (+44 is the international code for the UK). So I can alternate between the two and that seems to work ok.

Quirk number three is that it really doesn’t like me unplugging the phone. I connect via a USB cable and no matter what order I do it in (close the program, unplug the phone) I seem to get problems. In fact I get a kernel module crash which means I have to reboot the PC. This is annoying but I can live with rebooting a couple of times a day.

The most annyoing quirk, and the subject of this post (how did I write so much and only now get to my point? oops), is quirk the second – which is: it doesn’t save outgoing texts. In theory, kmobiletools uses the phone to send texts and should leave a copy in the outbox on my phone, which I can then read through kmobiletools. This is cool because I can then read incoming and outgoing together and see the full ‘conversation’. Or I could if it actually saved the texts. It doesn’t.

I suspect the problem is that my phone is newish and whilst it works, they’re using a communication protocol that’s more compatible with an older model and mine just ‘mostly works’.

Actually what it’s doing is correct because I’m using the ‘send immediate’ function which is supposed to do exactly what I’ve described – send a text right now, leaving no entry on the phone. The feature that should give me what I want is the ‘Store’ one which stores the text in the phone’s outbox, re-reads the phone’s list of texts, then offers to send the one in the outbox. Which is fine but my phone doesn’t find the text when the list is re-read. Which means it doesn’t get sent. At least it doesn’t get sent by the program but according to the phone it’s in a status of “sending”. Which can mean it never goes, gets sent twice. It’s been so unpredictable that I don’t use it. I use the send now, but sacrifice being able to see my old messages.

Does this matter? Well on one level it’s a moot point. Computers should do what we want them to. Admitting failure to a computer is one of my bug-bears and I go to great lengths to avoid it. Apart from that though it is useful. If you’ve ever carried out a conversation via texts you’ll know that you can sometimes have gaps when one of you is too busy to reply straight away. My memory’s not the greatest and working out what a text means that’s a follow on to something I said half an hour ago can be tricky.

So… long and short of it is: I want to do something, but the program doesn’t do it. I’m stuffed aren’t I?

Not quite – but it might be better if I was.

Ooops! Just saw the time. I need to catch ASDA before they close. I’ll post an “installment 2” later.

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About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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