Category Archives: Linux

Elementary OS Luna Beta 1 Thoughts

First Impressions

I’ve been using the new Elementary OS Luna Beta 1 for the past few days and I have to say I like it.

First things first, it is fast. It’s a simple GTK desktop, but instead of using Gnome Shell, it’s using an in-house desktop environment called Pantheon. Combine that with lightweight native apps, like Midori and Scratch (more below), and a clean and minimal theme, the whole package is responsive, nice looking, and a pleasure to use.

Standout Features

  • Workspace Management – Pantheon is wonderful. It has a toned down take on multiple workspaces. The whole desktop slides up and reveals the spaces. Instead of window thumbnails, just an icon represents windows. Just drag and drop to a new space.
  • Geary (mail app) – I’ve never preferred to use a desktop mail app. Maybe that’s my generation. My first email client was in the web. That said, I think Geary, developed by Yorba, best displays the ideal, uniform look of the default apps. It has one toolbar with nice icons, a side bar with folders, then a split message view. It syncs wonderfully with Gmail and the messages are threaded conversations.It also displays one of my gripes. There aren’t enough settings to make me comfortable. I understand, taking a page out of the book of Apple, minimal beauty means hiding things. One little menu at the far right doesn’t cut it. I’m not unhappy, I just wouldn’t recommend this OS for a power user who want infinite control over every little detail of their desktop. Moving one.
  • Scratch (text editor) – It wouldn’t take one long to notice that Elementary OS is without a word processor, spreadsheet creator or other office suite software. (Obviously not counting email and a calendar). And that’s ok with me. Yeah, I can install one, but I’d rather use Google Drive as I have for years.Elementary OS does have a very nice text editor, built for Elementary. So far, it’s my favorite text editing app. My favorite feature is automatic saving and a very simple version restore. It may be too underpowered for a programmer, but for a writer like myself, it’s more than enough to make me happy. Every document I type is automatically saved to my Dropbox folder and that folder is automatically synced up to the cloud. I don’t have to think about it. I wrote this article in it.

Complaints

I really want to like Midori, the default web browser. It’s basically a Safari clone for GNOME. It’s been around forever, uses Webkit, it’s lightweight and all around decent. But I’ve gotten so used to addons and syncing features of both Chrome and Firefox that being without those seems like such a step back in time. Also, unless my internet was sufficiently fast, Midori would freeze up then crash.

That also mirrors my sentiments toward Noise, the music player. It’s a very simple and nice looking app (if not a little too iTunesy, ahem). I had trouble importing certain songs. It would just hang, then they wouldn’t be in the library. Then again, I use Google Play Music for all my music, then there’s VLC for everything else.

My other problems are simply nit-picking over the interface. Most of the default apps follow a nice consistency: gray top toolbar, settings gear on the right. Apps like Shotwell (also made by Yorba) don’t follow this. For the most part it doesn’t matter, but people will notice. Yet, I don’t know how this can be fixed. When Ubuntu tried a global menu bar, like OS X has, it was very controversial. Hopefully these guys can figure it out.

I also installed a different icon theme. The default is nice, but certain themes use monochrome icons on the toolbar and it just looks nicer.

Final Thoughts

For a Beta, Luna is very solid. I have yet to be rendered with a useless machine. There have been a few crashes here and there, but overall the good far outweighs the bad. That being, again, fast.

Yet, here’s my worry. Luna has been in the making for a year and a half. The first version of Elementary OS “Jupiter” was released March 2011. And this is only the beta.

They’ve been following the philosophy release “when it’s ready.” That’s great for perfectionists, but when it comes down to it, deadlines are better motivators than perfection. As a user, I hope I’m not stuck waiting for the next thing. Then I would start to question if it was worth it.

Get back to me on that question when the final version drops.
Elementary OS Luna Beta 1

Update: A reader pointed out an error, which I fixed, and I also wanted to point out that the window manager is called Gala.

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My desktop as of now Pt 1

This is the start of a series on how I never can keep my desktop the same way for more than a month.

I’m currently using the Equinox Evolution Dawn GTK theme w/matching metacity window borders.

There’s my Banshee music player.

A close up of my Docky dock.

My 4 workspaces in Expo. I have AbiWord, Inkscape, GThumb, and Gnome Activity Journal open.

A close up on the window borders with Nautilus Elementary open.

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Funny Thing I Noticed on My Page

Yeah, they’re not talking about the same thing, but it’s still kinda funny.

Just in case you were wondering:

Ubuntu – www.Ubuntu.com

Fedora – FedoraProject.org

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Happy Software Freedom Day!

image

A small win for F/OSS on a great day.

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And you thought Eggplant was bad…

Ugh. I tried not to bash Ubuntu. Really, I did. I love it. It’s still the main OS on my machines, I am going to update to 10.10 as soon as blah, blah, blah.

AND I have a deep respect for the design team because I am going into graphic design as a major. But this is straight up crap.

As of August 26, this is still (possibly) tentative, according to OMG!Ubuntu!. Here are my thoughts on what happened that day:

BOSS: I really liked the last wallpaper, but I want more orange.
DESIGNER:  OK, I have some great mock-ups of new wallpapers that ha-
BOSS: no, you don’t understand I want it like the old one, but with more orange
DESIGNER: OK, I can work on it tonight and have some examples for you to-
BOSS: I actually wanted it by the end of today
Designer: You want a whole new wallpaper by the end of th-
BOSS: THAT’S LIKE the last one
DESIGNER: Ok, I’ll see what I can d-
BOSS: Great!
DESIGNER: (To himself, pissed) you want more orange,  have MORE ORANGE
The Designer quit that day.

I can see how this ties into the new themes, which feature much more color. By color, I mean orange. But this is ridiculous. My favorite comment on it is from the “famous” Alan “Popey” Pope, from theUbuntu UK Podcast on identi.ca:

@popey Golly. I return from holiday to discover the new #ubuntu desktop background in 10.10 has the vomit motif dialled up a notch or two

I couldn’t agree more.

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Backing Up Stuff

After having half a post devoted to backing up stuff, irony slaps me in the face.

My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1525. On it, about 2 inches away from the power button, there’s a little button with a “Home” icon on. I don’t know what that means, but what it does is boots into a shitty media center app called something like Dell Media Direct. I’ve wiped my hard drive several times, but apparently, Dell Media Direct exists somewhere else. Yesterday morning, right after waking up, I sleepily pressed that button instead of power. Not only did it launch that program, it also replaced my all my partitions with Ubuntu and swap and whatever, with it’s Windows junk.

I haven’t backed up my computer in weeks. I keep the important stuff, like music, videos, documents, on an external hard drive. But none of the config settings, or app settings.

Well, it was kinda lucky, because I had been planning to do a fresh Ubuntu install for awhile. I hadn’t done that since I first installed it, circa Jaunty. Well, I’ve got everything pretty much back to the way I had it. Also, the first time I installed Ubuntu, I didn’t know how to do it properly, so I let it partition automatically. This time, I made a separate home partition.

I’m looking for a simple back up tool. I’ve heard good things about Déjà Dup. I might give that a try.

I also will take (more) advantage of “cloud” services, like Dropbox and Ubuntu One. Ubuntu has never been that reliable for me, but it’s still worth a try. Those and something called Sparkleshare. It’s an open source alternative to Dropbox. Though it’s in alpha now, it looks promising.

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My Linux Desktop Pt 1 – Overview

For the next few Linux posts, I will post screenshots and descriptions of how I finally got my desktop perfect. Probably the first thing that sealed the deal was the customizability. Almost every aspect of Gnome can be changed.

Here’s the whole thing.

Now with some windows.

I use Docky, for my main interfacing. I keep the top panel hidden and Docky on window dodge so maximized windows take up the whole screen.

My window theme is Victory. I also use the Elementary build of Nautilus and Gloobus Preview.

On My top panel, I’ve replaced the default menu with Cardapio (for more info). The right of the panel is untouched except for removing the clock. I have that on the bottom.

I have over a thousand wallpapers, most of which I got from wallbase.net. (See wallpapers I like from there). So I use Desktop Drapes (link to softpedia, should be in the repos, though) to switch ’em every 20 minutes. Next time, I’ll show you how I use Docky. Also, how I use specific apps like Banshee and the GIMP.

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