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Archive for June, 2009

The Three Faces of Fedora 11: Epilogue

June 19, 2009 6 comments

During the course of the week, I had been asked the following question in various forms (the “forms” being a mangling of the desktop’s initials): “What about LXDE? Are you going to discuss the ‘fourth face’ of the Three Faces of Fedora 11?”

Well, the answer is: Not right away. Though very appealing and a desktop that has piqued my curiosity, LXDE was not part of the Fedora 11 constellation this time around (key words here: “this time around”) — neither was it an offering on the regular distro nor was it a “spin” (the spin list is here). However, I have the instructions on how to get going with LXDE, and I promise to take it for a test spin in the next couple of weeks.

Watch this space.

As for the “three faces” blog series, it’s always a joy to do blogs like this because a.) I get to play with software I normally wouldn’t fiddle with, and b.) I get to find out a lot of stuff that I didn’t know in the first place (look up “lifelong learning” in the dictionary and you’ll see my picture).

For those of you who are curious, and even if you aren’t, I think I’m going to break ranks with my GNOME roots and primarily use KDE on Fedora 11.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: Fedora, GNOME, KDE, Xfce Tags: , , , , ,

The Three Faces of Fedora 11, Part 3: Xfce

June 18, 2009 10 comments

I have to confess that in writing this blog item about Xfce on Fedora 11, I’ve had divine inspiration. I mean, really divine inspiration, as in as high on the divinity food chain as you can get.

Jesus wants everyone to use Xfce. He said so here on my Facebook page two days ago:

openjesus

So who am I to argue with the Son of God?

And you might think this is the last word on this — He would, of course — but bear in mind you’re dealing with Larry the Free Software Guy, who always tries to get in the last word.

So while Jesus and other diety are paying attention to Texas or Iran or something else, I’ll try to get this in: Fedora 11 using Xfce 4.6 — say it with me here — is probably designed for older machines and/or machines that may not have as much memory as newer ones. But I’ll go one further: F11 with Xfce absolutely flies on machines that are not so old, like this one, even after adding a whole plethora of software and running multiple programs at the same time (like, say, OpenOffice, Gimp, Firefox, Bluefish and Tux Paint all open in one desktop, all performing as if none of the others were open).

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog — those two or three of you outside my family — know that I’ve always been a big fan of Xfce. Herding old hardware like I do, it’s normally what works when 256MB is as high as you can go and you want ol’ Bessie to actually be able to do something. So imagine putting this lightweight desktop on something more substantial, hardware wise, and it’s like putting a 426 Hemi in a golf cart.

Of all the things native to Xfce that are of special note, two stand out: Ristretto, which is a lightening-quick image viewer, and Mousepad, which is like Leafpad but can actually print (I’d certainly like that afternoon back where I tried to print something from Leafpad, but that’s another story). It accompanies the usual array of solid, steady Xfce programs like the Thunar file manager and the ubiquitous calendar Orage.

Think of the Xfce desktop as I do: Like a racing car, it has only what is necessary to make it go, and in this case, go fast; no extras and no frills. If you want the bells and whistles and “optional features” like a luggage rack and the chrome trim, you may want to use another desktop. But Fedora 11 using Xfce certainly takes the checkered flag.

Tomorrow we’ll take a brief look at the “fourth face” of the Three Faces of Fedora 11 — LXDE — and have a wrap-up.

[Whew. Got that in before the Son of God had a chance to render me completely mute and speechle

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: Fedora, Xfce Tags: , ,

The Three Faces of Fedora 11, Part 2: KDE

June 17, 2009 11 comments

The following may come as a shock to you all: I had originally written another blog, filled with kute kommentary kompletely katagorizing the klear advantages kurrently available in the new KDE 4.2, and how well it runs on the lightning-kwick Fedora 11.

But after being up all night with this version of Fedora 11, I deleted most of it. I’m not going to go there — not with the “k” thing which, since 1996, has probably been the mainstay of jokes around the desktop environment; jokes which those close to KDE find beyond tiresome by this time, I’m sure.

“Up all night” sounds bad, too, as if I were nursing a sick child with a fever. That’s not the case here. On the contrary: The reason I was up all night with KDE is that, as predominantly a GNOME user, I was enthralled by the desktop environment and its accompanying programs. Enthralled probably isn’t the best word here, and neither is enamored because neither word does justice to how impressed I am overall with KDE 4.2’s offerings and performance on Fedora 11.

A caveat: There are programs that I still prefer over the ones K provides on KDE. For example, while KOffice is an adequate program, you can have my OpenOffice when you pry my cold, dead fingers from it, and I installed it and tested with it. While I am an unequivocal OOo user, I do think that KThesarus is an excellent addition to KOffice. Konqueror, though adequate, tends to falter when it comes to some sites — Facebook and Gmail come immediately to mind. So Firefox was installed as well.

Having said this, though, there are programs on here that I like very much and would use going forward. I put Konversation through its paces during the Fedora Ambassadors IRC meeting on Tuesday evening, and it gained me as a convert. Also, KMail was very easy to set up and use and is a viable alternative — and in many ways a superior one, once you find your way around it — to Evolution.

[Note: I’m still on the fence when it comes to KsCD, but with the hour being what it was last night I wasn’t able to crank up the Judas Priest — played, of course, for testing purposes only. No, really. Just for testing . . . ]

Despite the digital stumble KDE 4 arguably may have been, KDE 4.2 tends to make up for it and goes way above and beyond the call. Further, KDE is clearly worth considering if you’re installing Fedora 11, whether or not F11 is the first time you’re using Fedora.

Coming tomorrow: Divine inspiration in using Fedora 11 with the Xfce desktop.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: Fedora, KDE Tags: , ,

The Three Faces of Fedora 11, Part 1: GNOME

June 16, 2009 2 comments

Yeah, I’m late. I said I’d have this written by Monday. I’m sorry, or “Mea damn culpa,” as San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll likes to say.

While I blew that deadline — only the second in a 31-year journalistic career — I have what I think is a pretty good excuse.

It’s Fedora 11’s fault.

There’s a 12-step program for this, no doubt, but I’m powerless in trying to tear myself away from Fedora 11, putting version with the de facto default GNOME desktop through more paces than I really should (about nine straight hours worth, last time I looked up, counting the download of OpenOffice — more on this later).

GNOME 2.26.1, the desktop version that comes essentially as the default with Fedora 11 is like an old friend; an old friend with a couple of extra benefits. Most notable in the additions department in 2.26 like a new Brasero (with which I burned the Live CDs that went into each of the three test machines) and monitor detection improvements that prevented me from the xorg.conf tango I usually have to perform this time around.

What makes the rock-steady, ever friendly GNOME a good fit is what’s new under the hood for Fedora 11, especially ext4 and PackageKit to name only two of the 60 or so new features which, even with all the time I’ve spent on it, I haven’t gotten to yet.

Because this test machine doesn’t have a DVD drive — while I proudly built this frankenbox myself several years ago, it does lack a certain je ne sais quoi in the hardware department — the install came courtesy of the Fedora 11 Live CD, upon which OpenOffice is absent for space reasons (i.e., it doesn’t fit). Adding OpenOffice and other software was a snap and, while I have no benchmarks to go by, seemed a lot faster this time around.

In addition, everything worked right away, right out of the box, so to speak. Everything I downloaded came right up and, with the standard tweaking, ran flawlessly.

In closing, I’d like everyone to remember the adage, “Your mileage may vary,” meaning in this case that you may not have the same results as I do.

But having said this, I can now safely proclaim that this latest release is nothing short of remarkable.

Coming tomorrow: Follow the bouncing cursor when I detail The Three Faces of Fedora 11, Part 2: KDE.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: Fedora, GNOME Tags: , ,

The Three Faces of Fedora – Prologue

June 13, 2009 6 comments

Although the title above takes a page from film history, Joanne Woodward won’t be appearing in this blog.

[Okay kids, Joanne Woodward was an actress in the mid-20th Century who was married to Paul Newman, another actor around the same time who retired from acting to race cars and make great salad dressing and cookies. One of her most famous roles was playing the schizophrenic woman in “The Three Faces of Eve,” hence the source of the title of this blog series.]

[No, I’m not saying I think Fedora is schizophrenic. I’m just playing off the film title. Sheesh.]

With a few of boxes to spare at the offices of Redwood Digital Research in beautiful downtown Felton, Calif. — no, you can’t have them — I thought I’d run a small experiment: Take Fedora 11 and run it on separate machines with three different desktop environments. You know the lineup — GNOME, KDE and Xfce, which comes as a Fedora spin.

Then, of course, write about the results and observations here.

Starting Monday: The Three Faces of Fedora: GNOME on F11. Watch this space.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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