Older blog entries for sisob (starting at number 84)

re: Havoc

Havoc: Seems that then freedesktop X has been in jhbuild for a while now....

<code>jhbuild build xserver</code>

Gnome does need direction

This is something that the KDE boys do better than us. We really need both per-release goals, as well as goals for the 2.x series.

I know that stuff only get's done when there is someone to code, but having a list will make it easier for people.

I also think that we need a methadology for starting new programs. Something closer to the way it's done in "Designing from both side of the screen". ie. The UI and functionality would be designed first on the lists and then the coding could begin..

Now to Haloween...... *witches cackle*

Gnome, the Universe & Everything

I have to say that I'm surprised(and maybe a bit worried) that it was Seth that brought up this whole lack of motavation/direction thing. Why? Because he is/you are one of the biggest injectors of new ideas into the Gnome project. Storage and SystemServices are two of the most promising new projects that I've heard of in the last few months, maybe even this year. On a purely practical level I'd try and get these two into the world - people's interest and maybe even contribution tends to be highly motavating.

As for where Gnome is going, this is how I see it (and none of your damned metaphors either ;) ):

Gnome 2.x Is about filling holes and making what we have at the desktop level really usable without any major changes. This is a pretty big list, but some of the areas are pretty interesting. This includes Multimedia(gstreamer, totem, rhythmbox etc..), Networking(network browsing, desktop sharing, file sharing), Desktop usability (menus, mime system, nautilus, control center), Digital Imaging (as yet we have very little really but there is some movement, need photo managment and editing, scanning, ocr), Internet (IM, IRC, Web Browsing, E-Mail: lots done, lots still to do), Printing, System Configuration, etc.....

The list goes on, and IMHO they are all areas where we have opportunities to excell and "be the best". But also IMHO we need to have a lot of these holes filled before we can really see a lot of popularity within the hacker comminity...

Gnome 3.x This is when the fun starts. As I see it we will have new technologies like storage to blow the user away, and Gnome will get closer than ever to the system with help from HAL, SystemServices and friends. Mono will be nice and mature making C# development for Gnome a breeze, opening up Gnome development to the seas of Uni students who have been tought Java/C#.

This might also be the age where we see freedesktop really come into it's own, and maybe we will see more code sharing between projects..

... I don't know if we really need a "grand plan" at this stage :/ there are so many un-grand things to be done... (eg. Making gnome-vfs reliable and useful for things like menu editing, ftp, ssh, smb, nfs)

Re: Computing facuilities

I'm told I'm in an "enviable situation" with respect to the computing facuilities in my Uni so I thought I'd elaborate on what we have...

Maths Network
8 FreeBSD and 4 (unsupported) Redhat 8 X servers connected to 3 or 4 labs of thin clients. FreeBSD Machines run Gnome 2.2 and Mozilla 1.2. Redhat machines are running Gnome 2.0. Because you can log into any of the servers with the same home dir, and because they have different versions of Gnome on different Unixes, one's Gnome config tends to get pretty wrecked.

I'm hoping that they will upgrade to Fedora and update to Gnome2.4 onthe BSD machines over Christmas.

This is a single Solaris Machine that is run by one of the student societies. Any student can get an account and access is via ssh. Gnome is Sun's version 2.0. Most software is generally pretty out of date, but this server has un-proxied access to the web so it's pretty useful.

CS Computers
There are 3 computer rooms reserved for the Use of the Computer science department. Half of one of these rooms (about 20 machines max) run Mandrake 9.1. The rest run Windows XP Pro. The XP machines have mozilla, and a windows X server so once can run Gnome etc.. off netsoc or the maths department.

Not bad overall I guess :) God bless Ireland
General College Computers
Windows XP Pro accross the board. No X servers or mozilla on most.

Linux in the College
Linux is pretty popular here. All Maths and Science students are required to use the Maths network, and CS students tend to learn about it from eachother and from netsoc. It's not uncommon to be told the wonders of Linux from an excentric maths lecturer in the middle of a Calculus lecture.

College OSS experiences

Over the last few weeks I've slowly had to actually _use_ computers for things other than OSS related hacking, and I've learned a few things.

One things is that the linux on campus is running Gnome 2.2 or 2.0. The 2.0 machines will be upgraded to 2.4 hopefully around Christmas. If we're lucky the 2.2 machines will get upgraded to 2.6 by the end of next summer. That means that we are looking at an 1 year delay getting machines upgraded after the Gnome release is made. If that trend continues I'll be lucky to be able to run Gnome 2.6 in college before Christmas 2004 :(

Realising this I now have a stronger feeling of urgency about getting Gnome 2.5 into a decent shape. In particular network browsing needs a lot of love. I have ssh(and to a lesser extent samba and nfs) access to 4 different sets of personal files space on different parts of the college and I'd really like to be able to browse these visually in Nautilus. Right now I'm using konqueror in college and gnome-vfs-sftp at home.

Mandrake 9.1
The CS machines at Uni are running this at Uni and I REALLY don't like the Gnome desktop for the same reason that I never used the Gnome that came with redhat 9. And the reason may sound stupid - but it's impossible to go back to standard Gnome icons for the application menu. I like to use the standard Gnome themes for all my desktops for consistency's sake, but I can't do this with Mandrake. Appart from just that, the menus are just a mess and there are too many ways to do the same thing.

But I guess that is a pretty common things with distros nowadays. I think that the days of kitchen sink distros may be numbered ;) Well no, they'll be around for ever, but more and more we will see things like XD2 take precedence: A coherent desktop where everything has a function and a place.

Defaults Wh%&e

Some people don't get why I'm a defaults wh%&e. A lot of Linux users are happy to spend time getting things the way they like it, and a lot of them have unusual ways of working - either way defaults are of no interest to them.

For me it's about pride. When I show people linux/Gnome for the first time they generally know that I'm in some way involved with it's development, so I want it to look good, and be easy to use, so that I can be proud of what I am showing.

Gnome Wallpaper Chooser

Dobey has Proposed his new background chooser but jdub
doesn't like it
and seems to think that it's designed from a theme designer's point of view, and not a user's.

<img alt="Screenshot-Gnome-wallpaper-properties.png" src="http://sisob.tuxfamily.org/archives/Screenshot-Gnome-wallpaper-properties-thumb.png" width="250" height="280" border="0" />

Above is what I'd mostly like to see the theme chooser look like. This is dobey's code but Gimped to have the images in a 3x3 grid.

The basic principles behind this, that I feel make it better than the current background chooser are:

1. The user should have to use the file selector to find wallpapers. The wallpapers. that came with their distro/desktop as well as wallpapers they have added should be easily found and used.

2. Each wallpaper tends to make sense only as either tiled, centered, streched or scaled. The user should only have to choose which one each image is once, and the system should make a decent guess at what it should be. Images shipped with the distro/desktop should be set to the mode that makes sense for them by default.

3. The user/distributer should be able to select a background color scheme to go with translucent wallpapers.

It was also said that background choosing is not important enough to warrant much magic, but I would disagree. Every dialog counts...

Note: I wrote about this extensively a few months back.

SuSE LiveEval 9.0

I just tried out the SuSE LiveEval cd to see what "the competition" are up to. And I have to say - I don't get it. My Law-student girlfriend can sit down at my Gnome desktop and get to the applications she wants, but I, a CS student, can not easily find my way around KDE in SuSE

There are still loads of kisms which means that you have to run every application to see what it does. There is also loads of duplication of function and loads of little things that make the apps feel like they were thrown together and not maticulously designed.

Gnome isn't quite "there" yet, but I think that we're doing pretty well.

That siad, hardware detection and general configuration in SuSE is pretty impressive, but Yast isn't "free" so that doesn't count.

Original Again

The Project page is up. CVS no works with servers that have register_globals turned off in php.ini which should help a lot of people get it working.


Cvs is up. CVSROOT is ":pserver:anonymous@cvs.tuxfamily.org:/cvsroot/original".

I've also created a live demo of cvs on my college linux account but that isn't working so well. Will need to debug. I think they may just have a very broken php setup.

Todo: Throw together an Original page here

More "Original" Stuff

Jimmac seems pretty happy for me to go ahead so I've created a cvs repository. Unfortunatly stargate is on now, so there won't be any code in it till tomorrow at least. I'm busy for most of this week, but do have friday afternoon off so I'll try to merge as much of my code as possible in then. I'm also going to try and set up a daily-updated-from-cvs demo of Original somewhere at some stage.

Colin Marquardt is finalising a patch that makes Original not rely on register_globals being "On" in the php.ini. Not that I know what that means, but I do know that Original doesn't behave very well on some servers so this will definately help. (Mark reflects on the power of open source)

I had the mad/interesting idea of combining the Individual image and Image gallery pages/views in a web version of the following UI used in the eog nautilus view:

<img alt="Screenshot-Nautilus-eog.png" src="http://sisob.tuxfamily.org/archives/Screenshot-Nautilus-eog-thumb.png" width="371" height="365" border="0" />

This would mean that you would choose the gallery and then could browse that with a minimum of changing ui. We would need to use frames - but they aren't always bad.

Self Fixing Bugs
When fixing one bug, I inadvertently fixed another! So now I can use either a file specifying the date of the gallery, or let original pick it up from the modification time, and it all works happily together :) I thought I was going to have to re-write a whole load of code.

Note to self: Contact the people listed on Jimmac's site who have made modified versions of Original.

Photo Managment

Forgot to mention this from Just Raphael's diary:

<img alt="album_dialog.png" src="http://sisob.tuxfamily.org/archives/album_dialog-thumb.png" width="447" height="195" border="0" />

It's his response to mine and Seth's discussion about Photo Managment. I think it is a very good way of getting info to use from the user - but at the end of the day, for this and some other storage related stuff, I think that the user will have to learn that for certain things like the content of photos the system can only use the info given to it when querying.

I'm uncertain if we need to make this really obvious - maybe a tooltip for the description entry that tells the user that this info will later be used when searching for photos. I wonder how obvious it would be to a total newbie that a computer can't tell if a photo is a family photo ...

Photo Gallery

I've gotten further with the photo gallery. I've added some photos, integrated it with the rest of the site - and started on making it support using a file for the date instead of using the galleries modification time. (I've also done some general tidy ups - usability stuff)

My only problem is that it is still using the folders modified time to order the folders. I need to come up with a way of ordering the array(of gallerys and their respective months) by month.

Colin: The small thumbnail bar is fairly cool, but not absolutely necessary and I'm trying to cut down on visual clutter. If I can find a way to integrate it will I'll re-enable it.

Update: I got it working! And I had to write my own code to do it. I'm so proud - I usually just copy and past code. Anyway, now the months are in order. There will be more issues to iron out when I add more photos, but for the moment it looks good.

Notes on sftp

To make sftp work if you installed it manually you might have to:
cp /usr/etc/gnome-vfs-2.0/modules/* /etc/gnome-vfs-2.0/modules/

Also, IIRC if you are connecting to a host for the first time you must do it from the command line so that you can accept the key.

Lastly, read the comments on the last post - some people posted very useful info.

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