On the Desktop
Linux in the news
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See also: last week's On the Desktop page.
theKompany rumbles while Loki stumbles While the Linux desktop marketplace may be quaking another victim, it still hasn't taken all the competitors out of the game. In an interview on The Linux Show, theKompany's President and CEO Shawn Gordon, along with lead engineer Peter Harvey, talked about the pains and successes of application development on Linux.
According to the interview (which is available in both MP3 and RealAudio formats) TheKompany was looking for something less restrictive for application infrastructure than the GPL when they got started. They wanted that infrastructure to be pervasive in Linux distributions so that they could then build applications on top of that. Kivio, a chart tool, was the first project built on this model and it has been very successful. Lately they've added some alpha blending features and other behind-the-scenes enhancements that they feel will, in the long term, turn Kivio into a generic vector graphics tool. However, they only touched on this subject momentarily and offered no time frame for such a release.
Much of the interview centered on licensing issues. Shawn says that those who spend money on something, referring to end users, are less likely to give it away. The GPL is difficult for him to work with, though their Aethera (PIM/Groupware application) is GPL. The idea they want to work with is to have commercial plug-ins. They would like to make some of those plug-ins closed source - something which would help to guarantee income. The GPL (and LGPL) can confuse developers on how to make this happen. The problem is how to protect a going concern - the company and its employees - from the reduction of income that might happen with a too freely redistributable product. Gordon says that integrating open source ideals with commercial needs is a tough thing to balance.
Lately theKompany has been working with TrollTech to make their applications work across platforms. They started with BlackAdder - a GUI based Python IDE. Their first product to use Qt3 (TrollTech's latest edition of their cross platform graphical toolkit) was Data Architect, which is now available on multiple platforms. The advantage of cross platform tools like Qt3 is that vendors don't have to ship multiple copies of their product for multiple platforms. One copy, many systems - that reduces developer time wasted on packaging and recompiling, not to mention reduction in the overhead (labor and costs) of maintaining all those platforms. That makes tools like cross platform Qt3 very attractive.
TheKompany focuses on developer and desktop tools. Eventually they'll look at vertical markets including plug-ins and groupware tools more seriously. Gordon says that other than Peter Harvey, (who was also on the show) he's never met any of his employees - it's truly a virtual company. "I'm not even sure if they all speak english, but they can write it," he says. They often solve problems using nothing more than ICQ.
Gordon says that Kapital, their Quicken like tool, was been the biggest seller initially, but the other applications are catching up. "Kapital was the number one thing people had been asking for," which is the incentive they used to start work on the program.
Loki releases Kohan but still files for Chapter 11 Loki Entertainment Software has filed for Chapter 11 - short term protection from creditors while they devise a plan to get back into the game. They aren't down for the count just yet, but the clock may be ticking for a community favorite. A report in The Linux Review pointed readers to a PDF copy of the bankruptcy notification letter, dated August 7th, 2001.
Before word broke of the filing, Loki and TimeGate Studios released a demonstration version of Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns for Linux. The full version is to be released sometime in the near term, with pricing still to be determined.
Hopefully, this popular Linux company will find a way to weather the economic downturn that has slowed the growth of Desktop Linux.
Is Linux ready for the corporate desktop? Miguel de Icaza has written a piece for ComputerWorld online showing how the Linux Desktop is not a thing of the future, the a phenomenon of the present.
Building on the Gnome project and the contributions of free software developers worldwide, the Ximian Gnome desktop environment provides more than a dozen productivity applications, including a Web browser, e-mail client, word processor, spreadsheet and photo/image editor, as well as personal finance, instant messaging and multimedia tools.Building on the Gnome project and the contributions of free software developers worldwide, the Ximian Gnome desktop environment provides more than a dozen productivity applications, including a Web browser, e-mail client, word processor, spreadsheet and photo/image editor, as well as personal finance, instant messaging and multimedia tools.
Note that while he does plug Ximian in a few places, he also mentions KDE in a few as well. The gist of the article is that the Linux Desktop is making inroads in business and government today, and will continue to do so for at least the next few years.
Calendaring updates. Last week's note on the ical calendar program brought news that while the program has been dropped by its author, you can still pick up versions of the software online from both Scriptics and the NetBSD repository. Thanks to Geoff Burling for pointing that out (from a note by Larry W. Virden on the pilot-unix mailing list).
Another option we missed is the open source PHPGroupWare solution. This is a web based solution, but running with PHP as an open source project it's certainly one worth investigating.
And finally, one other groupware calendaring option, with native (though Motif based) Linux clients and servers is CorporateTime, from Steltor. This package appears to fill all the requirements of a group calendaring system including conflict resolution and client/server encryption options. Additionally, clients exist for Windows, Mac and Linux, making it fit easily into existing and evolving workplaces. (Thanks to Steve Phillips)
ReefKnot correction Last week's discussion on calendaring solutions included a reference to the ReefKnot project. LWN.net mistakenly noted Dan York of e-smith as playing a pivotal role in that project. Dan replied that he has never been a part of ReefKnot but that some of his coworkers are:
The credit for Reefknot goes entirely to Shane Landrum (srl), Kirrily Robert (Skud), Rich Bowen, Martijn van Beers, and the host of other developers working on the project.
Our apologies to all involved. We hope this sets the record straight.
KDE 2.2 ships. Here's the press release announcing the availability of KDE 2.2. It includes no end of new stuff, including improved performance, better HTML rendering, IMAP support in KMail, printing improvements, and much more. See the changelog for the full list.
LWN.net will have more on KDE 2.2 after LinuxWorld, where we're scheduled to talk with members from the KDE League.
Netscape Releases Non-Beta Version 6.1 Browser Suite. It's official, less than a week after marking another preview beta release, AOL made Netscape 6.1 available. The download page no longer references a beta version, but downloads are probably pretty slow right now.
Kernel Cousin KDE Issue 30. Kernel Cousin KDE #30 was published this week, covering topics including the KDE Usability project, speed enhancements, an improved Konqi, and KDE 3.0 plans.
Gnumeric 0.69 released. Gnumeric 0.69, codenamed "diaper duty," has been released. It's mostly a bugfix release, but there are a few new features, including Psion import support.
AbiWord Weekly News. The 56th edition of AbiWord Weekly News is now online. Updates include news of the 0.9.1 (and upcoming 0.9.2) release, the result of a new policy of frequent releases leading to the 1.0 release and a long thread on the discussion list regarding UI improvements.
Late to press, but just barely in time, comes news of a new release from the AbiWord team: AbiWord 0.9.2 is another bug fix release on the way to 1.0.
Opera 5.05 for Linux adds Java. Opera Software has released Opera 5.05 for Linux Technology Preview (TP), which adds support for Netscape plug-ins including Java.
Postscript previewers. A nearly stable version of ggv, a GNOME postscript previewer was announced this week. This version is bleeding edge, but is said to be more reliable.
GSView 4.0 is also now in beta.
Gaim: The game for AOL Instant Messaging on Linux (FreeOS.com). While Gaim authors struggle with AOL's "name-alike" warnings to developers, FreeOS says this program is a very useful instant messaging solution for Linux users. "In the case of Gaim, it not only clones the original perfectly, but the authors have succeeded in created a program that is, in fact, far better than the original."
Gimp-Print 4.1.99-a3. The gimp-print project has released another alpha release on their way to the stable 4.2 version. Gimp-Print 4.1.99-a3 includes lots of updates for the Epson family of printers and a new test program that shows how to use the new libgimpprint API.
And in other news...
Linux is going to Hollywood, and IBM wants a lift. IBM is set to release its Linux Digital Studio package, made up of workstations, server computers and data storage machines on Wednesday, a move to keep IBM in step with the wholesale migration of Hollywood visual effects companies to Linux.
ATI to ship FIRE GL 8800 cards with Linux drivers. ATI's FIRE GL 8800, a new mid-range 3D worstation video card, is expected to ship in October.
KDE Kiosk Mode HOWTO. KDE Dot News carried news of a KDE-based thin client project that has written documentation - and patches - for running KDE in a kiosk mode.
Tux Typing 1.0. The 1.0 release of Tux Typing, a simple game using the Simple DirectMedia Layer (the same library used by Loki for their games) that teaches users to type, has been released.
Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel
August 16, 2001