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List of the top 10 Linux lists

June 9, 2011 8 comments

Linux for the GNU South — it’s coming up so attend if you can.

Lists: We all make ‘em and, judging by what appears on LXer.com, we all read ‘em. A great majority of them are worthwhile and informative; others, not so much.

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of “Top $NUMBER List of $VERY_COOL_PROGRAMS” on LXer.com and thought that perhaps a list of the best lists might be helpful to navigate these uncharted waters.

Doing this list David Letterman style, we’ll start at 10 and work our way down to the Number 1 Linux list over the last few months. Ready?

10. 8 of the Best Free Astronomy Apps — An excellent list for those into astronomy: What could be better than free star charting apps? Me, I’m all in on KStars. Thank Steven Epps for this — many of the lists you’ll find in the ether of the Internet come from him.

9. Fedora 15’s Five Best Features — This review by Steven Vaughan-Nichols should be renamed “Five Good Things about Fedora 15 and a Song of Despair” (with apologies to Pablo Neruda), since he starts out by bemoaning (rightfully) the shortcomings of GNOME 3, and then following up with a list of five good things about the release.

8. 31 Great Tutorials for Inkscape — You might as well call this the Baskin Robbins of Inkscape tutorials, and the Unixmen, who normally have some good tutorials on hand, give us a veritable ice cream store of knowledge on this great software.

7. 7 of the Best Free Linux GPS Tools — Another list from Steve Epps. A program can be found here to let you know where you’re going and where you’ve been.

6. Five Must Have GNOME Shell Extensions — If you’re running Fedora 15 with GNOME 3, this list will come in handy.

5. 5 things I like in Ubuntu 11.04 (Unity) and 10 things which I don’t — Dark Duck likes and dislikes several things about Natty Narwhal, and the interesting perspective here is that some of the likes and dislikes are the same.

4. 9 Good CD and DVD Burning Tools for Ubuntu/Linux — While these aren’t necessarily soley Ubuntu tools, it provides a good list.

3. Top 6 Quicklists for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty to Enhance Unity Launcher Functionality — … and if you said that all in one breath, you get a prize. Manuel Jose seems to be on top of all things Ubuntu, and he gets a prize for providing adequate alternatives for Unity users.

2. 7.5 Reasons to Look Forward to Fedora 15 — Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier adds a list of things that, at the time, were coming up in the now-released Fedora 15, and the half-point goes to . . . nope, no spoiler alert here.

Which brings us to the top Linux list of the past few months, brought to you by LXer.com:

1. 70 Open Source Replacements for Small Business Software — In a word: Damn.

Got an item I missed? Pass it on.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
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Like a box of chocolates

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Linux for the GNU South — it’s coming up so attend if you can.

A glorious day indeed, filled with a variety of thoughts: While I was out enjoying it, I got to thinking about both the grand-scheme and minutiae goings-on in FOSSland, much of which has everyone asnitter moreso than atwitter.

There’s the OpenOffice.org handoff — or as some would put it, the OO.o drop kick — to the Apache Foundation by Oracle. This comes as no surprise. If Oracle were a good FOSS citizen, they’d have given it to the Document Foundation and LibreOffice would be its rightful heir. But this is Oracle we’re talking about, right? With Oracle finally washing their hands of OO.o, it remains to be seen what becomes of it. But since the barn door has been open for quite some time and the LibreOffice horse is at home out in the pasture, I am not sure if keeping OO.o around would be worth it.

Incidentally, LibreOffice is an outstanding program which kicks serious butt, just as OpenOffice.org did, and it’s nothing short of miraculous that the fork hasn’t missed a beat in transitioning from OO.o. So far, that’s the story of the year for 2011. I use it. I like it. I’m in their camp.

Walking among the redwoods, it’s hard to be annoyed at the new desktop wars: Not GNOME versus KDE, but the systematic “simplicity” of desktop environments like GNOME 3 and Unity. For netbooks and other mobile user interfaces, this may work and may be necessary. I don’t use netbooks or smart phones — I use a desktop or a laptop, and I’d like my desktop environment to look and function like a one. Call me old school, but desktops like KDE — which I’m using more and more as of late — and Xfce are looking better and better.

Also, I don’t assume that people who are new to Linux are complete morons who need a dumbing down of the desktop environment to convince them to join the ranks of FOSS users. But that’s me.

Finally, I live in a great area at the western foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the small range that separates the ocean from the Silicon Valley east of here. Not only is the proximity of the Valley a boon, but another of many perks in living here is having folks in the area like Cabrillo College networking professor and Cisco author Rick Graziani. Rick is opening his IPv6 seminars this month to the public — “Everyone is welcome! You do not have to be a former or a current student. All you need is to have an interest in learning more about IPv6 and don’t mind listening to me for a couple of hours,” Rick writes (though prior knowledge of IPv4 is required).

The talks are Thursday, June 23 — Intro to IPv6 — and Friday, June 24 — Intro to Routing IPv6 — at the horticultural building room 5005 at Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Both talks run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

You do need to RSVP to Rick at graziani-at-cabrillo-dot-edu to attend. Tell him Larry the Free Software Guy sent you.

Forrest — Forrest Gump — was right: You never know what you’ll get.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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Too nice outside to blog

June 7, 2011 3 comments

Linux for the GNU South — it’s coming up so attend if you can.

Make no mistake: There’s a lot out there to write about, obviously — The OpenOffice.org handoff to Apache, the trials and tribulations of desktop environments and their continual dumbing-down for the dumbest of us, and other stuff. I’ll get to that later, as well as those in Santa Cruz getting a treat later this month with networking professor Rick Graziani from Cabrillo College taking time from the surf — the real surf, with a surfboard as opposed to a motherboard — to explain IPv6 to us.

I still have a few scripts and assorted code, with the Python book close at hand, which will someday be a Facebook app called “Lifeville” — it tells you that you’re spending too much time on the computer, gives you two minutes to save what you’re doing, signs you out of Facebook and then a minute later (just in case you forgot something) shuts down your computer — but not before giving you a message: “Do you use your powers for good or for awesome?” That last quote comes from Fedora Ambassador mentor and all-around good guy, the soon-to-be Rev. Scott Williams.

So despite the weather being quite screwy — even here, at least until today — if you look out your window and see it’s a nice day and the only thing you’re doing right now is reading this blog or being involved in some other frivilous digital endeavor (wait, let me rephrase that . . . .), shut down your computer and get outside.

I’ll make you a deal: If you are lucky enough to have a nice day and you have the time to go outside, I promise to blog later on regaring the items above. I’d do it now, but the day here is too nice.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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Mixing the old and the new

May 28, 2011 7 comments

Linux for the GNU South – Attend if you can.

A lot has been written on GNOME 3 and, truth be told, I don’t have the digital horsepower (yet) to run GNOME 3 to give an adequate assessment. I think I get what they’re trying to do and, to be honest, I’m not sure I agree with the direction GNOME is taking here.

Juan Rodriguez is taking the proverbial bull by the horns and has initiated a project called BlueBubble, which marries GNOME 2.32 to the newly released Fedora 15, “breaking the least amount of packages possible.”

What it does, essentially — or at least in Rodriguez’s opinion — is bring the best of both worlds: Fedora 15 plus the latest version of GNOME before 3.0. The future, he says, can wait.

Rodriguez says that the target audience is the same kind of people who wanted the “Old Coke” to come back when Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” unsuccessfully decades ago.

He’s also seeking help on this, so if you’re really enamored with GNOME 2.32 and want to see it continue on the Fedora 15 and Fedora 16 versions, contact him — he can be found in many of the Fedora channels on Freenode IRC as “nushio”

Not only this, they already have a cool logo and video.

Go for it, Juan!

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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The curse of G-before-N

May 19, 2011 6 comments

Linux for the GNU South – Attend if you can.

During her visit to Budapest where she was part of the Ubuntu Developers Summit, Linux Pro’s associate publisher Rikki Kite posted this on Facebook:

“My geeky friends who pronounce ‘gnome’ as ‘ga-nome’ and ‘gnu’ as ‘ga-new’ might appreciate this -> I saw gnocchi on the buffet at UDS and said, ‘Oh, good, ga-no-kee.’ I ka-new it sounded wrong as soon as I said it.”

To which I reply to Rikki: You mean that’s not how you pronounce it?

Personally, I blame Richard Stallman. It’s an affliction that affects geeks on our side of the proverbial aisle: The “G” factor, where a normally silent letter gets pressed into phonetic service, well, for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s there (and from an engineering standpoint, why would it be there if it wasn’t going to be used?), and secondly, because we’re used to the fact that GNU and GNOME have the “g” — how can I put this? — unsilent, and we’ve been trained, or brainwashed, into putting the “g” in there where it doesn’t belong.

It’s bad enough the little guys in the garden are guh-nomes — even after the recent movie “Guh-nomeo and Juliet” — but there are other places where this arises.

For example, I had to wail and gnash — pronounced guh-nash, right? — my teeth at the various grammatical and spelling errors (not to mention the Giants blowing a four-run lead to the Dodgers) while working at the paper last night.

Surfers in the area, as well as elsewhere, consider things “gnarly” without the “g” sound; except some in Santa Cruz who also use Linux/FOSS and say “guh-narly,” dude.

To say nothing of the fact that we have no pesky gnats — yep, there’s a “g” in there, making it guh-nats — flying around in these parts, but I used to have to deal with them elsewhere.

Anyway, while there may be a cure for this, or at least a 12-step program (“I’m Larry, and I’m a G-oholic” — “Hi, Larry”), I think the better course of action would be to alert the non-geeks around you that you’re going to be using all the letters in the words you use, save for the silent “e” and the silent “k” in “kn-” words.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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Fools one and all

April 1, 2011 6 comments

Linuxfest Northwest 2011 - April 30th-May 1st I’ll be there. You should be there, too.

[Update: OK, WordPress, very funny: When you go to look at your blog stats, the real number is on the bar chart, but the bar on the bar chart it set at astronomical heights.]

So far, the pickings began somewhat slim on the tech news front regarding har-de-har-har April Fools’ Day joke news, but it seems to be picking up as of around 9 a.m. Pacific Time — and by this time, which is dusk or later in Europe and night in Asia, the stories should be out and read by now.

The best of the tech so far are these two:

— That KDE is the prize in a raffle, outlined on the KDE site here. I’m just wondering if those who are “offering” are clear on the concept of “prize.”

– Marcel Gagne gives us probably the best written one of the day with his Microsoft buys ReactOS for billions, which you can read here. It had me going before the first cup of coffee this morning.

One that would get a thumbs up except it glosses over an issue that Canonical/Ubuntu would just as soon hide in the dungeon and make believe everything is just peachy is the real identity of “Canonical/Ubuntu critic extrordinaire” Jef Spaleta — according to Jono Bacon’s blog, it’s Jono Bacon himself.

While tongue was planted firmly in cheek and while there was snickerable material in the blog — even the real Jef himself and Mrs. Jef responded to the blog — it makes light of the issue that Jef rightfully and, to his credit, consistently raises: For example, that of Canonical/Ubuntu’s contribution, or lack thereof, to kernel development and other aspects of FOSS where they reap the benefits without putting in the work.

I replied to Jono’s blog, paraphrasing the late Sen. Lloyd Bensten, who said this to then Vice President Dan Quayle in the debate in ’88: “I served with Jef Spaleta. I know Jef Spaleta. Jef Spaleta is a friend of mine. Jono, you’re no Jef Spaleta.”

One blog falters to the point of faceplanting: Sam Varghese writes on ITWorld — not linked here in principle — that the Linux kernel will be released under the BSD license. This would be a good one in theory, but in execution it tends to go off on a “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” tangent that makes it implausable from the start. Secret meetings in Tegucigalpa? Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

There are also trappings of mirth in some Facebook statuses: The Rude Pundit (warning: though politically appropriate in my opinion, foul language abounds), a liberal blogger who is on top of my list of non-tech reads, gets an honorary degree from Bob Jones University. Also, Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier throws up his hands and goes over to KDE — ha ha, funny guy, that GNOME media guru.

It’s still early in these parts, so maybe a Hail Mary pass will find its way to a receiver during the course of the day. Or not. Just bear in mind that it’s April 1, and that your shoe is really not untied. Or worse.

[Another update, pointed out by Juan Rodriguez below in the comments: Juan, aka Nushio, gets high marks for his "Fedora Cheat Ball." Link is in the comments -- go take a look.]

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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It’s not about you

March 17, 2011 4 comments

Linuxfest Northwest 2011 - April 30th-May 1st I’ll be there. You should be there, too.

As many of you know, I am in the throes of using Fedora 15 Alpha on a desktop box running the GNOME 3 — also innocuously known in Fedora circles as “desktop” — as well as using F15 Alpha KDE on the road warrior laptop, the long-in-the-tooth ThinkPad T30 which, while completely faithful and trusty, is often Exhibit A in the “gee, I wish I had newer hardware” diatribes I often utter.

The F15 Alpha experience so far has been great — the T30 just hums along with KDE 4.6.1 in a way that’s incredibly eerie. Alphas aren’t supposed to run this error-free, I say, knocking hard on wood. The desktop box with “desktop” also hums along as well, error-free like the laptop, but there’s something I can’t put my finger on regarding the GNOME 3 experience so far that is . . . .

Offputting. Well, that’s not exactly the word I’m looking for, but it’s as close as I can come.

I can’t explain it any better than that. There’s something that wants me to keep GNOME 3 at arm’s length, and while I’ll keep “desktop” on the desktop box once F15 is released — for obvious reasons involving the need to keep up with GNOME for — I am not sure it will be my primary desktop environment going forward.

To be honest, I’m a huge GNOME fan and I felt guilty about feeling this way until I read this blog item by Swapnil Bhartiya entitled “My Wife Loves GNOME 3.” The blog item is worth a read — and go ahead, I’ll wait — but to summarize, Swapnil installed F15 Alpha on a machine to review, and his “non-techie” (Swapnil’s words) wife instead took GNOME 3 for a test drive and loved it.

And then it hit me, hopefully without leaving a mark: It’s not about me, or you for that matter.

The “it,” of course, is developments like GNOME 3 and, to a degree, the Unity desktop. The “me” and “you” that make up the “us” in this equation are the experienced user who others come to for advice and answers when it comes to Linux and FOSS.

It’s not about us. It’s about getting the newer users comfortable with Linux/FOSS.

You and I can tweak our desktop environments — heck, our systems, for that matter — to be whatever they want. Those who are new to Linux don’t have that knowledge, let alone the capability.

Add to the mix that netbooks and other mobile devices are eclipsing desktops and laptops — a fact that I find hard to bear, but can’t argue against — and you have a formula that spells the future of desktop environments that puts ease of use and like-minded usability between mobile and laptop/desktop computers in the forefront.

So I don’t feel so bad about getting used to GNOME 3 now, and I get why it’s the way it is. And all those bad things I said about Unity . . . OK, well let’s not get carried away here.

Fedora 15 Alpha is out there. Get it here.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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Categories: Fedora, GNOME, KDE Tags: , , , ,
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