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News and Editorials

Reinventing the Fedora desktop

By Rebecca Sobol
November 12, 2008
Now that Fedora 10 is nearing completion, it is time to start looking forward to the shape of Fedora 11. Matthias Clasen started a discussion with a post to the Fedora-desktop list, including a pointer to the whiteboard where people can fill in their ideas. The page contains some ideas guaranteed to warm an editor's heart and a few which inspire rather less enthusiasm.

So what are the Fedora desktop people pondering? Some of the ideas include:

  • Removing icons from the desktop menus. The reasoning behind this change would appear to be "Windows and OS X do it that way."

  • Fixing up power management. Among other things, those posting to the wiki note "When the user changes the brightness, he doesn't appreciate if the computer turns it right back down again"; better late than never. Better power management also involves turning off blinking cursors, which would also be a welcome change.

  • "Better fonts" is on the list; that seems to translate to better and easier ways for users to install new fonts. There is some wondering about whether the current packaging system is really the best way to deal with fonts.

  • The volume control has been singled out for special attention. One of its claimed problems is the vast number of sliders which can appear for a complex audio device; it is true that it can become overwhelming. But playing "find the hidden slider" when some audio source is inaudible is not a better state of affairs. There is also a worrisome note to the effect that Windows has a better volume control because it is not removable. So, in the future, we may have a volume control whether we want it or not.

  • Replacing the panel altogether, along the lines of the ideas bashed out at the recent GNOME hackfest, is under consideration. This would, of course, be a major change to the desktop which would not be welcomed by all users.

  • Somebody has noticed that the flurry of "notification" windows can get a little irritating. So different approaches to notifications are being considered.

  • A new approach to system settings is also under consideration. The idea would be to get away from the "preferences" and "administration" menus in favor of a single window with a search feature.

  • There is talk of better location awareness, but it appears to be limited to mundane tasks like setting the time zone automatically. It seems like it should be possible to set more ambitious goals in this area.

  • The Fedora developers note that Ubuntu beat them to shipping a working "guest user" implementation. Surely they will now contribute to improving that implementation, rather than making their own...right?

  • Evidently users should not be asked to distinguish between hibernating the system (which saves memory to disk and powers off) and suspending (which keeps main memory powered up). To avoid this problem, Fedora might implement a "hybrid suspend" which saves to disk but still keeps RAM energized for a fast restart. There are a number of practical problems to solve in this area, not the least of which being that waiting for a full hibernate when you want to suspend the system quickly can be obnoxious.

  • Fast boot is, naturally, on the list.

There is a lot more on the list - far more than the Fedora developers can hope to implement (or even integrate) in the near future. But the process is a good one, and some of these ideas will certainly show up in future Fedora releases. With any luck at all, the Linux desktop will continue to improve for a long time.

Comments (14 posted)

New Releases

OpenSolaris 2008.11 RC1

The OpenSolaris project has announced an initial release candidate build for the OpenSolaris 2008.11 release. "IMPORTANT NOTE: The development builds have undergone limited testing and users should expect to uncover issues as the next release is developed. Bug reports and requests for enhancement are welcome..."

Comments (3 posted)

Distribution News

Debian GNU/Linux

Debian Pure Blends

The Debian Project has announced "Debian Pure Blends" - essentially a rebranding of the concept formerly known as "custom Debian distributions." "We realised that the old name Custom Debian Distributions just sended the wrong message to outsiders: The conclusion that CDDs are something else than Debian was too 'obvious' if people did not read the relevant documentation." It looks a lot like Fedora's "Spins," but without the worry about what deserves to be called a "Pure Blend" and what does not. More information can be found on the wiki and in this detailed paper.

Full Story (comments: 15)

Debconf 8 internationalization sessions report

The Debian internationalization team met in Merida, Extremadura, Spain. This report (click below) is bit late in coming, but it does contain much information about what the team has been doing, with links to videos of the meetings, and notice that another meeting will take place later this month.

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Summary from the Debian-EDU irc meeting

Skolelinux/Debian-EDU developers met via IRC on November 5, 2008. Click below for a meeting summary covering the next (Lenny based) release.

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Nominations open for December Fedora Elections

The announcement says it all: "With one round of elections in the US out of the way, it's now time to turn our attention to more pressing matters - Fedora Election Season has begun." There are open seats on the project board and on a few steering committees. Some have complained in the past that these seats are dominated by Red Hat employees; now is the time to rectify that - if it is really a problem in need of fixing.

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Fedora Board IRC meeting 1800 UTC 2008-11-18

The Fedora Board will be meeting on IRC on Tuesday, November 18, 2008. This is a public meeting so feel free to join in, even if you are not a Fedora developer. Click below for more information.

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Fedora 10 upgrade FAQ

Fedora has issued a call for users and contributors to help with the Fedora 10 FAQ. If you have unanswered questions, feel free to ask. If you have answers not yet on the FAQ feel free to add them. Here is the Fedora 10 Earlybird FAQ.

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Fedora Classroom

A number of IRC sessions on various topics related to Free Software and Fedora were held via IRC at #fedora-classroom in The IRC logs have been published for those interested. There will be more Fedora-classroom sessions coming up next month.

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Fedora Release Engineering Meeting Recap

Click below for a brief recap the Fedora Release Engineering Meeting, held November 3, 2008. Topics Preview Release and the Fedora 11 Schedule.

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Fedora Board Recap

Click below for a brief recap of the November 4, 2008 meeting of the Fedora Advisory Board. Topics include Fedora Wide Elections, FUDCon F11 Update and Communicating Spins.

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SUSE Linux and openSUSE

openSUSE Board Meeting Minutes

The first meeting of the newly elected openSUSE board occurred on November 5, 2008. The outgoing board also attended to get the new board up to speed on the current issues. Click below for the minutes of that meeting.

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Ubuntu family

Edubuntu meeting minutes

The Edubuntu community had a development meeting recently. Click below for the minutes. Topics include Introduction of the Sugar environment, Should Edubuntu have a strategy document?, Naming/Branding ("Edubuntu", "Ubuntu in Education", "Ubuntu Education Edition"), Drop Alternate CD LTSP installation and instead use GUI from Ubuntu Desktop, and Should Edubuntu produce a demo LiveCD?.

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Distribution Newsletters

Arch Linux Newsletter

The November 2008 issue of the Arch Linux Newsletter is out. "Welcome to another issue of the Arch Linux Newsletter. What is going on in the Arch Linux Development world? We are working diligently to solve the problem with orphaned, unmaintained and bug-pending packages in the repositories, for better quality control. Inspired by Allan, Pierre has provided a new package in the extra repository called pkgstats, which allows all Archers to easily provide the development team with a list of packages you have installed. With the input you provide, we will now be able to prioritize our work, and focus on the packages Archers use most. Also, we can more easily see which AUR packages deserve to be in community and vice versa."

Comments (none posted)

Fedora Weekly News #151

This week issue of the Fedora Weekly News is out. "This week's action-packed Virtualization section investigates how the "OpenNebula Libvirt Implementation" could allow access to EC2 using libvirt APIs; Announcements announces "Elections Are Coming"; Developments peeks at the addition of LiveConnect to IcedTea; Artwork relays well-earned "Praise for the Solar Theme". Translation covers l10n work being done and SecurityAdvisories lists essential updates. As always there is much more worth reading in this issue."

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OpenSUSE Weekly News/45

This issue of the OpenSUSE Weekly News looks at Lukas Ocilka: YaST-Mascot Contest-How to submit your ideas, openSUSE News: Fix for openSUSE 11.1 Beta 4, The openSUSE Board, Jan Weber: Announcing Easy-KIWI-GUI, Stephan Binner: openSUSE 11.1-Plasma-Desktop-Toolbox and several other topics.

Comments (none posted)

Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter #116

The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter for October 8, 2008 covers: Mark Shuttleworth interview, Ubuntu Open Week, Jaunty: Open for development, New MOTU, What about my bug, Relaunch of German UWN translation, Ultamaix, LoCo Release Parties, Launchpad Developer Interview, Ubuntu Podcast #11, IBM Lotus Adds Ubuntu support to Symphony Apps, TimeVault simplifies data backup for Ubuntu users, and much more.

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Distribution meetings


There will be a FUDCon (Fedora User and Developer Conference) at this year's FOSS.IN. FOSS.IN will be held November 25 - 29, 2008 in Bangalore, India. FUDCon India 2008 will be a one day event on November 28th.

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Newsletters and articles of interest

Fedora 10 preview release shines like a star (Ars Technica)

Ars Technica takes a quick look at Fedora 10 Preview. "Fedora 10 offers some nice new features, including the new Plymouth graphical boot system, a new version of Network Manager with improved support for 3G connectivity, better printing support, and lots of virtualization improvements. It ships with version 2.6.27 of the Linux kernel, which brings significantly improved webcam device compatibility, and GNOME 2.24, the latest version of the popular desktop environment. The reliability of the audio stack gets a big boost in this release with the inclusion of glitch-free PulseAudio. Package management is also much better thanks to the inclusion of RPM 4.6 and better PackageKit integration."

Comments (none posted)

Releasing YaST separately?

Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier ponders on releasing YaST without openSUSE. "YaST is, for me, one of openSUSE's major strengths, and I think it'd be beneficial for other distros and projects to use and extend. Linux, after all these years, still lacks a good, comprehensive, and cross-distro system management tool that's suitable for use at the console or from the desktop. (YaST qualifies as good and comprehensive, in my book, but falls down on the "cross-distro" part.)"

Comments (5 posted)


People of openSUSE: Claes Backstrom

The People of openSUSE interviewed Claes Backstrom. "This week on "People of openSUSE" we have interviewed openSUSE Election Committee member, Senior Linux Trainer and VMware Trainer Claes Backstrom. Besides all these titles he has he still has time to package games on openSUSE Build Service, beta testing, and promoting openSUSE in his North European cold country, Sweden!"

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Page editor: Rebecca Sobol
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