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Larry in KDE Land

November 25, 2013 7 comments

This week’s blog was supposed to be a look at the newly released Raptor provided by VSIDO, and there is a version now on the soon-to-be-delivered-to-REGLUE ThinkPad T60 (sorry for the delay, Ken). I didn’t spend as much time as I should have with this release — you’ll see why below — and I didn’t want to provide a half-baked report on what is a very solid distro.

But one is forthcoming, I promise, and any delay should not be interpreted as any dissatisfaction on my part — Terry Ganus and his crew at VSIDO are doing great things making Debian Sid work for the average Joe.

However, I fell down the rabbit hole. For the most part last week I had been playing the role of the proverbial moth to KDE’s hypothetical flame. Having spent most of the week trying to plumb the depths of the K Desktop Environment — better known by its initials KDE — and the accompanying software (of which there is much; most of it remarkably cool and some of it undeniably sanity-testing), I think I’m beginning to understand its appeal across a wide range of users.

But first, how I got here. As outlined last week, I tried and liked Korora 19.1 KDE, so much so that I installed it on a fairly powerful laptop, keeping the other laptop that I always carry with me running CrunchBang. This gives me the best of both possible Debian/Red Hat worlds in an overstuffed backpack (the aforementioned T60 stayed at home). As it turned out, my forum account on KDE.org was still active even though I hadn’t logged in since 2009.

Having hardware that could easily pull the KDE load (a very important point here, since that is not common for yours truly), I went exploring.

There are things about KDE that I find mysterious. There are things about KDE that I find inconceivable (I keep using that word: I think it means what I think it means). There are things about the software that I find both compelling and unfathomable at the same time, and I find it a huge credit to the KDE community that they keep providing this software while keeping the cats herded and moving somewhat in the same direction. With enough time, I’ve fathomed things like Dolphin — getting a hold of what it does and nodding approvingly — and KWallet, which is something I don’t really need, but I can see how others with somewhat more complicated lives can utilize it. The stick-poking care in changing and re-changing icons and desktop patterns created, over time, a confidence that increased the more I did it.

So the basis for a quality desktop environment supported with a variety of software — heck, I’ve even made my peace with Konqueror and, this time around, I actually enjoyed using Konversation until finally breaking down and going back to Irssi, which is what the cool kids use — enjoys a comfortable home with KDE and it’s a testament to its far-flung community around the globe.

But there’s one thing I find I have to mention, and I did so on the forum (though I am told that I may be appealing to deaf ears). It is the “march of the icons” on the splash screen at startup, and it’s not so much the icons themselves as much as the different size of the KDE icon in the lineup.

Here’s an example from Fedora 19 (which looks a lot like the Korora startup screen with different branding):

kde2

So we have a hard drive icon, a tools icon, a globe icon, a desktop icon all the same size, and the piece-de-resistance is a twice-the-size-of-the-others KDE icon. It reminds one of Berke Breathed’s character Bill the Cat, who had one normal eye and one that was two or three times the size of the other. Also, if memory serves, the icons were all the same size in KDE 3.5, which is the last one that I used with any consistency before finding it too resource-intensive for my old hardware.

Trivial? In the grand scheme of things, yeah. I get that if KDE wants to make a statement because they’re proud of their work, go for it, dudes, and make it stand out (thought that would not be the way I’d do it). It still looks funny to me, and I would hope that there is some consideration in KDE’s higher echelons to make this KDE icon more in line, size-wise, with the rest of them.

Meanwhile, I will keep poking and probing this desktop environment and someday — someday — I will be enlightened to the true meaning of Nepomuk.

But before that, a VSIDO reports as promised. Scout’s honor. See you next week, if not before.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

A week with Korora 19.1 KDE

November 17, 2013 5 comments

I made a joke recently on social media — not a good joke, I’ll be the first to admit — that I had used Korora way back when it had two A’s at the end.

In an indirect way, Korora — minus the second A of the past, but inheriting the long-vowel line over the last A — crossed the proverbial radar again recently and, as it would happen, it got another one-week test drive from yours truly, this time in the driver’s seat of Korora 19.1 KDE “Bruce.”

In a word, “Wow.”

For those of you keeping score at home, Korora is a Fedora remix that “aims to make Linux easier for new users, while still being useful for experts.” It’s a noble effort, to say the least: Fedora, which as I’ve said on a million occasions, does everything right, especially building and maintaining the distro’s software, as well as building or maintaining the community supporting it. The principles driving Fedora are excellent ones to emulate, and to provide an option of a Fedora respin in which everything works right out of the box (*cough* Flash *cough*) is indeed a noble task.

So in taking that route, it bears mentioning that the Korora lead developer, Chris Smart, is a man who lives up to his name.

As many of you know, I’m not stranger to Fedora, yet I threw caution to the wind and opted for KDE, given Korora’s choice of KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon and MATE. Here’s why: First, I haven’t used KDE in quite awhile and I wanted to see what’s new, and secondly, my friend Ken Starks at REGLUE is using it in the OpenSUSE machines he’s building for kids down in Austin, Texas.

On a Dell Latitude D610 with the touchpad turned off in the BIOS (due to the wandering cursor thing that Dell refuses to fix — which is why someone gave this hardware to me, I think), the install went flawlessly and any worry that the 1.5GB of RAM would labor under the weight of KDE was put to rest early. For the week I used the D610 on a daily basis, the only hiccup was in updating which, eventually, was traced back to the flaky wireless where I was rather than to the distro and/or desktop environment.

Other hurdles aside — “Why doesn’t apt-get work on this . . . oh wait.” — getting used to KDE was not as hard as I thought. Much of the habits in using a window-manager based distro like CrunchBang took some unlearning. KDE and I have always had a love-hate relationship, but casting aside any prejudices I had about the desktop environment, I found that the same things that bothered me still do (KDE Wallet – seriously?), but the other facets of KDE Plasma were very workable and spending an entire week tweaking it was both educational and fun. Plus, I think there have been many improvements to much of the KDE software lineup: Using Kmail and Konversation much of the time, they performed flawlessly during the course of the week.

On the whole, I like this distro a lot and I think Korora has a bright future. There is a clear comparison that can be made between Korora and Fedora that mirrors the relationship between Linux Mint and Ubuntu. Just as Linux Mint improves the user experience on that particular Ubuntu-based distro, so then can Korora enhance the user experience on this Fedora-based distro.

Trivial, I know: The naming convention is based on characters in “Finding Nemo” in the same way that Debian’s project names are based on “Toy Story” (or CrunchBang’s is based on “The Muppet Show”). It’s always a source of interest to me how projects are named, and you just have to bear with me on that. But a tip of the hat to Nemo, or in this case, Bruce!

So a word of warning, Kororans: I’ve signed up on your site and I’m going to keep Korora on the Dell for the forseeable future. See you around.

I promised last week to look at VSIDO and we’ll have to take that up next week. Apologies to those who were expecting that today.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Apoplectic? Moi?

November 10, 2013 6 comments

I can imagine that in the wake of, um, events over the past few weeks regarding Mark Shuttleworth’s and Canonical’s, um, behavior, many of you might think that I was apoplectic about it; green-enraged, up-the-wall-and-across-the-ceiling furious about being tagged a Teabagger by The Mark, to say nothing of the cease-and-desist letter sent by Canonical to Micah Lee regarding fixubuntu.com.

Nope.

Shuttleworth needs to learn a lot of things, one of which is a closer look at the American political system, not to mention how the closely the playbooks of Canonical and the right-wing Tea Party are related. Also, we already know that The Mark has offered a non-apology apology — akin to the “non-denial denials” we used to get from the White House during the Watergate scandal — where he says, among other things, he might have offended the Tea Party with his remarks (note FOSSForce.com — no smileys here, so I guess he was serious) and he says our framework may vary when judging Canonical’s behavior.

You nailed it on the last one, Mark.

But the big picture? It’s saddening moreso than maddening.

One thing from this whole situation that bears pointing out is that when long-time Ubuntero Aaron Toponce leaves Ubuntu, it’s a serious matter. Aaron’s blog item is worth a read, as are the comments. Especially the comments: What’s monumentally ironic is that Jef Spaleta — with whom I run neck-and-neck for the title of Canonical/Ubuntu Public Enemy No. 1 — actually urges Aaron to rethink leaving Ubuntu and sticking it out, trying to change Ubuntu from within. Jono Bacon? He waves and says “good luck.”

There’s a conclusion to be drawn there, but I’ll leave you to make your own.

Actually, what has kept my attention is looking at doing some more testing now that I have some more hardware to test upon. The two distros I’m going to give a test-drive this week — wait for it — are VSIDO Raptor Fluxbox because, well, it looks like Terry Ganus has been going great guns on his Debian Sid-based distro and he just released this guy at the end of last month, and Korora 19.1, now coming in Cinnamon and MATE flavors.

But that’s for next week. See you then, if not sooner.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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