On the Desktop
Linux in the news
All in one big page
LWN.net is in a state of evolution these days, and one of the things we're looking at is more targeted and expanded coverage of the Linux industry as a whole. This page, On the Desktop, is our first new page in our expansion. Written by Senior Editor Michael J. Hammel, a long time follower of the Linux desktop scene, On the Desktop will look at the news from an end users perspective with an eye towards ease of use and the tools, developers and companies that aim to make the Linux desktop a comfortable and productive place for all users.
This page is designed to look at three major areas of the desktop: the desktop environment, office applications, and other desktop applications. Desktop Environments include GNOME and KDE along with lesser known but still important environments like XFce and CDE. Discussions on mail readers, word processors, spreadsheets and related applications will fall under the Office Applications section. Finally, any other useful application, that is any application that is aimed primarily at anything other than software development, will be covered in the Desktop Applications section.
We hope you enjoy this new addition to the LWN.net Weekly edition. As always, comments are welcome.
"We're spanning our products to HP, Solaris, BSD-like systems in order to get GNOME on people's desktops really easily," says Meeks. At LinuxWorld the Ximian crew were happily demonstrating their new port to HP, but Meeks said they had PowerPC Linux and Solaris running GNOME, Evolution and their latest offering, Red Carpet, back at the home office.
Ximian's crew was most excited about Red Carpet, their package management product designed to make updating RPM-based systems seamless and painless. It resolves dependencies in an intelligent fashion across the network. It is supported across all major distributions, including Debian. One of the interesting features of Red Carpet is Ximian's use of Internet cache pioneer Akamai. Akamai's globally distributed Web caches are used to distribute RPM packages to make Evolution users downloads very fast.
"Akamai is a cool business," he says. They get money from ISP's and also from the companies distributing packages in order to reduce their companies bandwidth requirements. They ask for Akamai caches within their subnets and companies pay Akamai to cache their stuff. You can ask for downloads and it's likely your ISP will already have it. Downloads happen much quicker that way.
Another of Ximian's products is Evolution, the replacement for Outlook which integrates with Exchange at the IMAP level and can interoperate with other mail exchanges. Evolution also does shared calendaring using the Internet standard ical protocol, but also supports vcal and vcard. But Meeks says one of the best features is how Evolution handles mail folders.
"The problem with procmail is I lose mail", says the smiling developer. "When replies come in to mailing folders but addressed to me directly, I never see it. So you can query folders for things only meant for you and you can rank mail by scores, which come in colors. Lots of really cool features in Evolution. We're transitioning the company right now, with most people starting to use Evolution everyday."
Milestone releases, with 0.9 due shortly, are the main method of Evolution distributions at this time, with a stable 1.0 release coming in a few weeks or perhaps a few months. The 1.0 release will happen a bit after GNOME 1.4, however, in order to sync up Evolution with all the new bits of that release of GNOME as well as load up on more features.
Meeks says that while most Linux distributors have folks that are good at the kernel level, they aren't very good with GUIs. "We've got the best team of GNOME developers around, which means we can provide a really polished easy to use desktops. That lets us provide that as a service to customers along with doing corporate rollouts. We've got around 60 people, with about 50 people programming."
While Ximian's products are not quite at the 1.0 stage, the demonstrations were rather impressive at LinuxWorld. With all the interoperability promised, Ximian will be a company worth watching over the coming months.
Ximian Red Carpet Beta Released. Ximian has released the first beta of their Red Carpet software management tool for Linux and other Unix systems.
GNOME 1.4 beta 1 available. For your bleeding edge desktop pleasure, beta 1 of GNOME 1.4, known as "Oops, We Did it Again", has been released.
Ximian GNOME: Welcome To Your Desktop! (O'Reilly). Daniel Solin takes a look at Ximian Gnome in an O'Reilly Network article. The article provides a basic introduction of the Gnome desktop that is aimed at Windows users. Veterans of fvwm2 and twm may want to give it a look to see what they've been missing.
Eazel and the Giants (LinuxToday Australia). Eazel's recent business moves have made it a force to be reckoned with, according to this story from LinuxToday Australia. "Eazels' product, Nautilus, will be distributed with the GNOME environment, to form the standard operating environment for the Solaris platform. Basically what this means is, that when you use Solaris's desktop, GNOME and Eazel will be right there."
Installing the latest KDE 2.1. ResExcellence has this article on installing KDE 2.1 on LinuxPPC 2000. "The Mac/LinuxPPC community owes a big tip-o-the-hat to Ian Geiseri who is constantly building new rpm packages from the latest KDE 2.1 beta source tree."
Help give a voice to KDE (KDE dot News). The KDE project is looking for people to help put together sound effects for the upcoming 2.1 release. If you have talents in the audio arena, your help would be appreciated.
KDE Promotion launches(KDE dot News). KDE.org launched a new website this week to help with promoting the use and advancement of the KDE environment. The web site is a tool for helping to market KDE, something which that project has needed for quite some time.
Another OpenOffice build is released.. If you're looking for even more bleeding edge desktop pleasure, Build 619 of OpenOffice 6.0, the code for which consists of the majority of the code under development for StarOffice 6.0, was released on Tuesday, February 20th.
Bluefish HTML editor 0.6-2 released. Version 0.6-2 of the Bluefish HTML editor is available for download. Documentation about the current release is very sparse, but it does compile and run on a RedHat 6.2 system.
Kapital, a Personal Finance Manager for KDE (KDE Dot News). theKompany.com released Kapital on Wednesday, February 21st. Kapital is a commercial application written specifically for the KDE environment to handle personal finances, much in the same manner as Intuit's Quicken or Microsoft's Money.
Chilliware release Mambo, xFactor. Chilliware announced the release of two new desktop tools for Linux: Mambo, a Samba Administration Tool, and xFactor, a GUI Faxing Tool.
Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel
February 22, 2001