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Linux clipboard for Ubuntu leads to same frustration and defeat

© January 2009 Anthony Lawrence

After being soundly berated for my previous post on this subject, I decided to try the experiment again with a more Desktopish Linux distro: Ubuntu 8.10. I installed it in a virtual machine, downloaded 208 updates, and decided to see what luck a neophyte user would have installing clipboard utilities here.

I'm sorry, I have to bitch immediately: if you search "Help" for clipboard, up pops that darn little "xclipboard" again. It also shows up with an "apropos clip". What's the gripe? Other than that xclipboard doesn't work on Gnome and this isn't Kubuntu? Oh, nothing..

I'm going to deliberately play a little dumb here. When I asked the great Internet Spirit about Linux clipboard utilities the first response I got was "Check out glipper or klipper I think."

Now, yes, I would expect that Glipper is for Gnome and Klipper is for KDE. But would Joe Linux Newbie necessarily know that? He might, but let's say he just tried typing both of them into a terminal window on this newly installed Ubuntu.

$ glipper
bash: glipper: command not found
$ klipper
The program 'klipper' is currently not installed.
You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install klipper

In all fairness, wouldn't that make our boy Joe think klipper was a viable option? Of course if he does do that apt-get, he's not going to get anything that will work. Please remember, this is Ubuntu, not Kubuntu.

Actually - I was wrong and Joe would have got a lucky break. It turns out that Klipper actually will work on Ubuntu 8.10. Joe wouldn't get the Help files (apparently those are in KDE) but Klipper is fairly self explanatory anyway and any confusion could be resolved on-line.

But no, our Joe is smarter than that. He knows he needs glipper. So he goes to Add/Remove Applications, and asks for glipper - only to be told that there is no matching application!

I think that's enough to prove the point I made in the other post. The Linux Guardians at LinuxToday had a good time insulting me about that, but that's what always happens when you complain about anything.

No doubt if LT picks this up, I'll get roundly trashed again. Oh well.. that doesn't change the reality that Linux is not ready for Joe Average User.

Now PLEASE: don't bother leaving a comment that Joe just had to do X, Y or Z. That doesn't matter. We all know that Joe can get Glipper. The point is that he's likely to be pretty annoyed before he does.

This stuff needs to change. It's as simple as that.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Linux clipboard for Ubuntu leads to same frustration and defeat


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More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Fri Jan 2 01:44:35 2009: 5037   TonyLawrence

Please try to remember that I am NOT anti-Linux. I WANT Linux to succeed. I think there are a lot of stupid things like this impeding that.

Go ahead, insult me, make fun of me.. it doesn't change the truth of what I wrote here.

Fri Jan 2 02:10:07 2009: 5039   NickBarron

I agree with the idea of an OpenSource OS and want Linux to succeed, though OS X does everything I need ;)

But I just cannot recommend it to people either, it is just no end user friendly

Fri Jan 2 02:55:58 2009: 5040   TonyLawrence

Jorge O. Castro tells me that Glipper project "died upstream". But that doesn't explain xclipboard and Klipper..

I don't want to be a hard-ass about this. But Linux is full of dumb stuff that will frustrate new users.

Fri Jan 2 11:41:25 2009: 5041   TonyLawrence

By the way, I was wrong about Klipper - it actually DOES run on Ubuntu 8.10.

Fri Jan 2 13:01:28 2009: 5042   anonymous

"Please try to remember that I am NOT anti-Linux. I WANT Linux to succeed. I think there are a lot of stupid things like this impeding that. "

Is somebody turning out clones that say that? I keep hearing it. You might be serious and I would like to take it at face value. But the last l0 years or so, particularly on the Internet, have really reinforced the idea that things are not always as they appear.

If you would adopt a more serious tone it might be easier to take you seriously. As it is you come across as whiny and incompetent. I found it highly amousing that at the top of these articles you are trying to sell "ebooks" about "how to solve the tough problems on Linux and Unix systems." A person who doesn't know you (and I don't) might be forgiven for thinking he would be paying for help from a newbie. At least that is the impression these two articles leave. I do hope you don't consider what you whined about here to be "tough problems."

And yes, I did take the time to read this article. When I finish posting this I will finish reading your other article. Then I will head over to LT and read the 17 talkbacks which I have already loaded.

Fri Jan 2 13:13:35 2009: 5043   TonyLawrence

I never said these were "tough problems". I said these are things that could frustrate an inexperienced person.

Fri Jan 2 13:49:34 2009: 5044   TonyLawrence

I just posted (link) as a defense of my honor :-)

By the way, I really think the ebook is good. I worked hard on it, I'm constantly improving it and I think it's worth more than I charge for it. But then again, I'm an incompetent newbie so you can't go by what I say..

Fri Jan 2 14:48:45 2009: 5045   TonyLawrence

This guy left a comment at LT and I responded to it there, but I'll dupe it here also:

> After reading this article and its follow-up, posting a response on the second article which he quickly replied to, I can only come to the conlcusion that this guy is tone deaf. He has no idea how he sounds.

Sure I do: brusque, opinionated..

You misread what I wrote. It's easy for me to blame you for your poor reading skills and equally easy for you to blame me for my writing.

I'm not at all tone deaf. I'm perfectly willing to have an intelligent conversation about all this. If we're going to do that, we need to have back and forth so that we understand each other - to get by your poor reading and my poor writing.

Contrary to your suggestion, I never said that I considered any of these things to be "tough problems". I simply assert that Joe Average could easily be frustrated by them. I simply think that Linux needs to be better if it's going to win the desktop as I want it to.

Do you know that it embarrasses me to use OS X? If you were a regular reader at my site, you would know that. And no, I'm not asking you to become a regular reader: I'm just explaining why I hate it when something I write gets picked up by LT or whatever and a giant flock of people come rushing in, make snap judgments and then leave, never to be seen again.

To you, that's one stupid article at an obscure website you know nothing about and don't want to know anything about. To me and the other authors and readers there, it's a small part of an ongoing conversation about a lot of mostly Unixish stuff.

It's easy enough for you and others to trash me and when taken out of context like this, I can't really blame you. But that's again why I'd prefer a conversation rather than drive-by shootings.

Fri Jan 2 19:32:35 2009: 5049   DonAKAseeker5528

Certainly there are some situations where it matters if you are trying to use a K*something on a Gnome desktop or a G*something on a KDE desktop, but often it doesn't make a difference other than sometimes getting a pile of stuff just to support the use of that specific thing.

Yeah it can be confusing sometimes, but people stumble around and find what works for them.

I was confused in the first article because Klipper has been around a long time, it's mature, it's often recommended, it works, and while being mentioned it apparently was not tried.

That was addressed here so I'm not going to complain about that and I give you props for taking another look.

Later, seeker

Fri Jan 2 19:38:35 2009: 5050   TonyLawrence

Thanks. From my pov, this site is an 11 year conversation about Unix, Linux and a bunch of other stuff. I'm glad you made the effort to continue the conversation.

Wed Apr 8 11:36:02 2009: 6051   clipless

I love Ubuntu. Over the last few years, I've seen nearly all my little irritations and cleared up, but one remains. I still miss my old clipboard. I had a great third party clipboard application in Windows, Clipmate, and it was fantastic. After three years on Ubuntu, my fingers still want to hit the same old hot keys combo to bring it up (which btw, won't configure in Glipper, although they should).

Maybe people just don't realize what all a good clip board can do. It can save your stuff so you don't have to go back and forth between windows. It can save your butt when you delete a chunk of work you didn't mean to get rid of. It can take your clips and scrub them clean of trailing spaces or other characters. Oh, it can do so many many things, but above all, it remembers more than Glippers 99 pitiful little clips, and it doesn't make you scroll to the opposite end of the list to find the newest ones. Klipper was a little better, but not enough that I've bothered to pull it into latest computer.

I haven't looked for the last few months, but went looking again tonight and quickly came across this thread. If I find something I'll post back here, but I'm not optimistic.

Thanks, A.P. for a place to rant. I really needed that!

Wed Apr 8 11:39:08 2009: 6052   TonyLawrence

Yes, please do let us know if you turn up anything. I'd love to have a decent Linux clipboard.

Mon Jul 27 01:07:42 2009: 6690   anonymous

I am also pro-Linux, not to be confused with being a pro at Linux, far from it. I have a dual boot with XP and Hardy Heron (LTS) Kubuntu, though I avoid booting into Windows at all costs.

Were it not for the fact that I have as much time as I could want to devote to Linux, I would have discarded it shortly after first trying it. I also have the extra advantage of having a father who has been a computer geek for a very long time and a devotee of Linux since pure command line.

Since I have KDE already and Klipper is installed automatically when using the Live CD, I have not had this specific problem/complaint, but the gist of the issue is the same...

Linux is not ready for the average end user. Period.

Between unfamiliar, non-self-explanatory, names (yes, Windows has them too, but they also have tons of advertising that makes those quirky names familiar,) insufficient explanations of what programs do (in KPackage, Synaptic, Adept Manager,... and often cryptic explanations on the program's website) dependency issues, and all too often absent help files, or cryptic help files, Linux is a handful and then some. Drivers are a whole other ball of wax, and granted, not the fault of Linux, but still yet another hurdle that the newbie MAY have to jump.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Linux and will NEVER go back to the nightmare that is Windows, and Linux is getting better every day... but it still has a long way to go and a lot of it could be fixed with just a simple change of perspective... something this article was trying to point out. Descriptions, explanations, examples, and documentation needs to be written (or rewritten) with the newbie in mind instead of from the point of view of someone reasonable well versed in Linux... or worse, a Linux elite.

But soccer moms don't have the time I do to research the programs/problems. There are those in the Linux community that are perfectly happy with that, and for those people, there is nothing anyone can say, because they don't want Linux "dumbed down," they like the fact that a user has to work for the ability to use Linux fully.

For stability, security, and over-all speed, Linux can't be beat, but it is far cry from being just 'point-and-click' or works (for everyone) out of the box. I, with my copious free time, emphatically support and choose Linux, speed, security, stability... and the whole trivial ;-p free thing doesn't hurt either.

A note to the writer of the article: as I understand it, VMware, Wubi and the like, can create their own special problems, so I would give a little less credence to the reported problems of such an installation.
Virtually everyone who has had computers for any length of time has (or has had the opportunity to collect) spare hard drives... and since we should all be cleaning our hardware every six months or so... trying a regular installation of Linux at the convenient time of already having the case open and the guts scattered across your table, would be the way to go.

I hope they ease up on you and can expand their perspective enough to see that you are sticking up for the uninitiated, and not damning Linux in general.


Mon Nov 2 21:27:39 2009: 7414   anonymous

I am not anti-windows or pro-linux and visa-versa.
As a computer using professional I need these features in my OS:
* Copy /paste as HTML (like from a word/web document into a professional text editor ((Komodo is the only professional text editor on linux, but it also runs slowest on linux)) ) - no support under Linux.
* quick and simple installation/removal of whatever version of software I prefer (leagcy or alpha) - linux has the absolutely wrong application installation model for the desktop - freedom anyone?.
* 100% random peripheral support - windows wins here hands down; with linux I had about 5% success rate (new model of a multi-p printer, USB headphones, webcams ... - nothing really specialised - just some basic consumer products - none of them worked; only webcam started working under karmic)

I am still waiting but I am not holding my breath. Actually my hopes for linux ever reaching a competitive desktop-ready status dwindle with every new Ubuntu release.

Mon Mar 22 01:43:55 2010: 8255   anonymous


Here's how it worked for me on Ubuntu 9.10:

1. Select Applications -> Ubuntu Software Centre from menu
2. enter "clipboard" in the search box
3. select Parcellite from the search hits and brief descriptions
4. look at the description and screenshot offered by the software centre to confirm that it's what I wanted
5. Click "Install"
6. Select Applications -> Accessories -> Parcellite from menu to run it.


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