On the Desktop
Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's On the Desktop page.
KDE 2.1 released.
"2.1 is basically a polish release of 2.0", noted Granroth in a phone interview from his office on Tuesday. "We fixed a lot of bugs, added a few usability features. We also are shipping for the first time KDevelop as a 2.x product." In essence, while 2.1 was the focus of the press release, its real focus was to expand the visibility of a few KDE applications, most notably KDevelop.
KDevelop is an integrated development environment (IDE) / rapid application development (RAD) tool. Up until the KDE 2.1 release this tool had only been available for KDE 1.x installations - it hadn't been ported up to the 2.x release. So this announcement served as a launching point to garner interest. And for an application as sophisticated as KDevelop, there are many reasons to be interested.
But KDevelop isn't the only new feature for 2.1. Many of the KDE environment's modular components have been upgraded, including the KIO and KHTML modules. KIO encompasses the io-slave architecture that allows for, among other things, expanded multimedia support. With this release, KDE is adding the noatun media player which makes use of the KIO component. KIO runs as a separate process for the KDE environment, allowing applications to continue working (or at least appear to do so) while things like network traffic and audio I/O are happening (re: being handled) elsewhere.
And it's not just HTML rendering that makes Konqueror better. The component architecture of KDE allows Konqueror to work with the KIO modules, which means with 2.1 you can now rip CD's directly from Konqueror. "We've also got much better SMB support," says Granroth. "You don't even need Konqueror to browse the Web. If you have access to the KHTML parts component, you can embed inside of your application."
The other big update for KDE 2.1 at the user level is the re-addition of the theme selector for KDE. "In 1.x we had a sort of theme manager, but 2.0 has a completely revamped theme engine. While everything was themeable in 2.0, we had no centralized way of modifying the current theme for the desktop. In 2.1 we've added that capability back in."
So while the KDE may be touting its applications, the environment as a whole is garnering plenty of praise.
"This second major release of the KDE 2 series is a real improvement in terms of stability, performance and features," said David Faure, release manager for KDE 2.1 and KDE Representative at Mandrakesoft.
With 2.1 users will find better integration with key applications and easier theme management. And KDE's press release just may mark a new era of publicity for a project well worth the notice.
Apple patents Desktop themes. Apple's patent on desktop themes should be good fodder for discussion. It seems their newly acquired patent says they invented the art of changing the desktop theme on the fly. Never mind issues of prior art. "Apple will definitely be coming to enforce their patent eventually," says KDE spokesman Kurt Granroth. "Within a week of our producing the Aqua (re: Mac like) theme for KDE, Apple had contacted us with a note to cease and desist."
But there isn't a ghost of a chance of this patent holding up. Prior art exists in many forms, from themes.org to Enlightenment. In fact, it could be argued that X itself, in the form of the early Athena widgets, was capable of producing themes.
And this goes into further silliness: according to Granroth, Microsoft has a patent, apparently since 1995, on a taskbar with a start button. Prior art there could come from places like CDE, the forerunner of GNOME and KDE. We'll see where all this heads, but don't count on these two patents holding up in the long term.
Interview: KDE League Chairman Andreas Pour (IBM developerWorks). In an interview leading up to the recently released KDE 2.1, IBM developerWorks talks with KDE League Chairman Andreas Pour about the new KDE release, GNOME, and the extensive multimedia architecture available from KDE. "Another thing new in KDE 2 is the multimedia architecture, based on a set of programs called aRts, or analog real time synthesizer. It started out as audio only, but now it includes video. That lets you combine multiple sound streams together, and you can filter them in arbitrary ways through filtering modules. KDE 2.1 supports a variety of video plug-ins so you can keep adding new audio and video formats to it. So if there's a new plug-in that supports, say, the QuickTime codec, any audio or video players can access that codec through aRts."
Java Mania: An Interview With Richard Dale. KDE Dot News talked with the developer who wrote the KDE 2.1 updates to the kdebindings module, Richard Dale, that allow the binding between KDE and the Qt libraries to the Java programming language. "You can mix C++ and Java. The objects don't always have to be instantiated from within the Java environment. If you allocate an object instance on the C++ side, and then you refer to it from within Java, a Java version is created automatically. However, when the Java version is subsequently garbage collected, the C++ instance isn't freed by the Java runtime. It would still exist over in the C++ environment."
Testing of Gnome 1.4. The GNOME project is looking for testers for the upcoming 1.4 release. Testers would, among other things, run a set of assertions written by Sun QA engineers.
Talking with Miguel de Icaza of Ximian about GNOME (LinuxPower). LinuxPower carried an interview with GNOME leader and Ximian co-founder Miguel de Icaza. "The protocol to talk to Exchange is not widely available, so some amount of extensive tcpdump research action is going to be taking place soon. We realize that we will need to provide a solution that would allow people to inter-operate in an Exchange and Notes environments, and we will be taking steps in the direction of fixing this issue."
The struggle for the future of Linux (News.com). C|Net also carried an interview of Ximian co-founder and CTO Miguel de Icaza, this time to find his views on the future of Linux. "What's frustrating for Ximian (is that) we don't want to make another Linux distribution. I think that's just stupid. We need to work with other distributions. That's why we support God knows how many distributions. Ximian is very easy to install on any Linux distribution. We have paid a lot of attention to the details, but this assumes that you already have a Linux system in place."
GNUStep Weekly Update. Several readers pointed out that our new coverage of the Desktop in the last week's Weekly edition left out the GNUStep environment, a lesser known sibling of both GNOME and KDE. This week we've added GNUStep to our coverage in general, starting with their first weekly GNUStep update submission to LWN.net.
AbiWord Version 0.7.13 Released. Abi the Ant and the entire AbiWord team announced the release of Version 0.7.13 of AbiWord on all supported platforms.
Gnumeric release 0.63. Gnumeric 0.63, aka 'its just a flesh wound', was released this past week. This version is rumored to be much more stable.
ToutDoux-1.2.5 : Project manager for GNOME. The latest version (1.2.5) of the GNOME project manager, ToutDoux, hit the streets.
Opera: Better, Faster, Stronger Browser? (TechWeb). TechWeb reports on Opera's attempt to mix with the big boys in the browser war. "Opera listened when users said they wanted the browser for free. The current version boasts such user-pleasing features as integrated news, mail, search, instant messaging, and a customizable interface. It supports multiple windows and can zoom in on a page up to 1,000 percent, making it a tool for visually impaired users."
10 Questions with Julian Missig of the Gabber project (LinuxOrbit). Julian Missig is the 16 year old High School junior who leads the Gabber project, a Jabber clone for GNOME. LinuxOrbit talks to him about his entry into the open source world of instant messaging. "I must admit that currently I think anyone who goes into Jabber/Gabber simply wanting a way to use ICQ, AIM, MSN, Yahoo! and others all in one client will probably be disappointed. The support is minimal and even that isn't perfect. The primary goal of Jabber is not to have a system which allows people to use multiple IM systems at once, but it is a secondary goal we have picked up along the way. The primary goal of Jabber is to "provide an extensible architecture for creating the next generation of services and applications on the Internet."
GStreamer the future of Linux Multimedia? (LinuxPower). Erik Walthinsen is interviewed by LinuxPower about the state of the GStreamer project, a project aimed at pipelining media components for editing and playback.
Most media players are designed to, well, play media. Any effort they expend into modularity is only to keep the design from getting ridiculously complex as more media types are added. Actually, a lot of media players don't even support multiple media types, so that isn't even an issue for them.
Pilot Link 0.9.5pre5. While I don't make it habit of reporting development versions on this page, I think it important to mention the first sign of the 0.9.5 release of Pilot-Link, the software used by many packages for communicating with Palm Pilots. Additionally, the first published news on the plans for 0.9.6 (on the way to 1.0) have also been released.
Rocks and Diamonds 2.0.0 released. A new version of Holger Schemel's Rocks and Diamonds has been released. If you need to take a break from writing documents, scanning email or just plain coding the latest open-source project, this could be just the ticket you're looking for.
Zocks interviews Loki Games developer Bernd Kreimeier. German online magazine Zocks is carrying a German-language interview of Loki's senior programmer, Bernd Kreimeier. Note: The AltaVista Babelfish translator doesn't seem to like this story.
Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel
March 1, 2001