On the Desktop
Linux in the news
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See also: last week's On the Desktop page.
Eazel closes its doors.
Nautilus is licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, which means that the code base will be forever free (Open Source). Some of the programmers at Eazel involved in Nautilus will continue to work on it even without the company.
In summary: open source saved the product, even when the company couldn't continue.
KDE: Runs fast, updates slow. Since returning from my honeymoon (thanks to Forrest Cook for filling in
The first thing I should let KDE readers know is that, like it or not, Ximian and the GNOME project do a good job keeping me up to date on new releases and features. KDE Dot News is my primary source for such things about KDE, but if you have news on KDE products and projects, primarily information that would be of value to ordinary users (although I'll certainly look at developers releases as well), please do send them my way. I do keep tabs on the following sites as well:
Also, while anti-aliased font support in KDE is terrific, without an installation mechanism as simple as Red Carpet (Ximian's automated update facility) or Red Hat's Network, KDE won't get as far on the average user's desk. That doesn't mean that more sophisticated users won't use KDE, but upgrading using Red Carpet, as I discovered this week, is absolutely fantastic.
All that aside, I did start to dig into the environment this past week. While Forrest mentioned some issues with KDE and Gnome slowness last week, I found KDE to work rather well in 64MB of RAM on a 200MHz K6-2 box. Granted, the video card is a bit newer than that - it's an ATI RAGE XL. Though initial startup is a little slow, applications seem to start rather briskly. My first look (after digging around for ways to automatically keep the environment up to date) was at Konqueror, the integrated Web browser for KDE.
Konqueror. Looking at Konqueror in comparison to both Netscape 4.77 and Opera 5.0, I found that the interfaces on all three programs were about the same: navigation, bookmarks, pretty much what you would expect. The rest of the Opera interface is rather complex in comparison, due to how it embeds secondary browser windows. But Konqueror works like Netscape by opening multiple top level windows for each new browser instance. Konqueror offers zoom features, but zooming in only appears to increase the size of some fonts. I assume that user defined fonts should override site specific fonts in order to zoom all text in a page but I couldn't find where to change this particular setting. Images are unaffected by the zoom operation.
The nicest thing about Konqueror is that the display is very crisp. It handles fonts better than Netscape. I'm not sure if anti-aliasing is embedded in the browser - I know I don't have anti-aliasing enabled in my XFree86 server or in the version of the KDE libraries I'm running. Still, the display of fonts appears much cleaner than the Netscape display.
That's the good side. Now for the bad. I've found, mostly by accident, that the best test site for browsers is my own Graphics Muse site. While I haven't updated the site in about a year (priorities - feed the family, then play on the net), it was built as a training exercise to learn both Perl and CSS/DHTML. I don't pretend to think the site is compliant with the latter, but Netscape certainly renders it correctly. Opera comes close. Konqueror doesn't. In fact, in Konqueror the site is unusable. Since Netscape is the standard bearer on Linux systems (until the 1.0 Mozilla comes around and/or KDE has a wider audience) I'll continue to expect browsers to work with the sites I visit at least as well as Netscape currently does.
One other note for both GNOME and KDE: would someone please explain to me how to remove those icons on the root windows for both KDE and GNOME! Those silly things were introduced by Microsoft years ago and are, in the humble opinion of one old timer, an abomination.
KDE taskbar grouping feature added to CVS. A new feature has been added to the CVS (i.e. developer versions) of KDE - grouping of windows to a single taskbar button. The example shows a set of GIMP Canvas windows all connected to a single taskbar button (which pops up what appears to be a menu from which to select a particular window). This feature won't show up in public releases until the first 2.2 beta for KDE is released later this month.
How to configure your Anti-Aliased desktop (KDE Dot News). KDE Dot News posted a brief Howto-style article with a Q&A section on configuring the Xft extension that provides, among other things, for the use of anti-aliased fonts.
Q: Why do my KDE programs start now soooo slow?
Bonobo 1.0.4. GNOME's Bonobo got another minor update this week, primarily to fix window manager focus issues, but also to address a number of other problems.
Ximian Setup Tools 0.4. A new release of the Ximian Setup Tools package has been announced. This tool package is a replacement for LinuxConf that provides an administrative interface to user and NFS administration, network management, and swap partitioning.
GNUStep Weekly Update. The GNUStep Weekly Update came out on time, as usual. Because GNUStep is still in moderately early stages, these updates are more for software developers than end users.
KOffice. The KOffice 1.1 feature freeze went into effect on May 10th. The Beta 2 release goes out Wednesday, May 16 with a public announcement due on May 21st.
Evolution 0.10. Another minor update came for Evolution, GNOME's mail, calendar, and adressbook application. Ximian has made version 0.10 available through their Red Carpet installation program.
Opera releases version 5.0 of Linux browser. Opera Software announced the official release of their Linux browser. This release marks the end of the beta cycles for this product. The Opera Linux browser has been tested on 9 different distributions : Corel 1.0, Caldera 2.2, Debian Potato 2.2, Mandrake (6.0, 7.1 and 7.2), NetBSD 1.5_BETA/i386, RedHat (6.1, 6.2 and 7.0), Slackware 7, SuSE 7.0 and YellowDog 2.2.
Sketch 0.6.10. A new stable release of Sketch was released this past week. This version adds some language and SVG support along with various bug fixes.
Gabber 0.8.3. A new developer's version of Gabber, the open source Jabber client for GNOME was released this week. Version 0.8.3 is primarily a bugfix release that includes numerous user interface changes.
Pan 0.9.7pre, a GNOME newsreader, released. While not a stable product, it's interesting to note when I run across a package I hadn't heard about previously. Pan is a newsreader for the GNOME environment. This release is a developer's release, but stable pre1.0 releases are available for end users.
SolarWolf, a Python-based game. The first game to be produced with the new pygame Python interface to the SDL libraries, Solar Wolf 1.0, has been released.
Review: Agenda VR3 Linux powered PDA(LinuxMedNews). LinuxMedNews posted a review of the new Agenda VR3 Linux based handheld. "The most exciting thing for me is that Tcl/Tk is ported already to it, as is a version of PERL, PYTHON, and RUBY. You can also use the FLTK - fast light toolkit when programming in C or C++.Over 100 Linux applications are already ported to it by the Agenda community."
Linux on Your PDA (O'Reilly Network). In part 1 of a 4 part series, the O'Reilly Network compares 3 Linux-based PDA offerings: the Agenda VR3, the Compaq iPAQ, and the G. Mate Yopy.
And In Other News...
4 questions to Sven Neuman (en) (LinuxGraphic.org). LinuxGraphic.org has posted an interview with Gimp hacker Sven Nuemann. "The problem with the current Gimp codebase is that most parts of it originate back to a time when Gimp was based on Motif and the GTK object system did not exist. Since then only parts of the core have been rewritten to make use of the benefits the object-oriented approach gives. Also, user interface and core functionality is totally mixed up. When trying to add new features to the Gimp-1.2 codebase, it is very easy to get lost and very likely that you break things."
Kernel Cousin KDE #9. This week's Kernel Cousin KDE #9 looks at the need for adding system configuration tools to KDE, the need for a Quality Assurance Team, and the recent problems associated with Kivio.
Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel
May 17, 2001