Clutting Edge

OpenedHand Clutter

OpenedHand have dropped another love bomb on the GTK+/GNOME embedded scene — Clutter, a simple scenegraph/canvas API for doing pimped-out, full screen, kiosk/television style user interfaces with GTK+, GStreamer and GL. Take a look at the examples included in the tarball, and their snazzy Opt presentation tool. It’s early days, but Clutter is already looking very sweet.

GNOME lovers, loving GNOME

I’m looking for photos of GNOME lovers, loving GNOME. I have a bunch of great photos of GNOME in use at telecentres, schools and so on. Most include the happy faces of GNOME users enjoying freedom. But I need more!

So if you have cool photos of users enjoying GNOME in “the real world” — not your computer room! — please post URLs in the comments, or email me. The photos will be used at GUADEC, for great justice.

Ready for the Enterprise: Nokia 770

The Nokia 770, with the latest Internet Tablet 2006 beta firmware, is Ready for the Enterprise.

Thanks to Nokia, I’ve had the 770 for a while, but given the lack of pervasive public wifi in Australia, its housebound use cases have been limited to web browsing… In front of the television, in bed, or (mostly) on the toilet. But the latest firmware — currently in beta, soon to be released — changes everything.

I just spoke to daf for 12 minutes via the 770’s new Telepathy-powered Google Talk / Jabber client. The audio quality isn’t as good as the desktop client, but they’re working on it. I tried it with headphones and without — if you pop the 770 in your top pocket and wander around the house, it’s almost like you’re using a Star Trek communicator (albeit without the voice control).

Contacts and presence are tightly integrated into the user experience — there’s no buddy list in the traditional sense, just a category for contacts who are online. Just the way I like it. ;-)

The fresh theme is bright and punchy, the new feed reader is surprisingly good, and there’s a whole bunch of neat fixes and polish throughout. Imagine — a device that improves with age, with meaty, high-value software updates! Rocking.

I’m really looking forward to the sweet PIM action that Opened Hand have been working on, too.

Ubuntu on Amazon

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS DVD

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS on DVD

Available for: x86 PCs, 64-bit x86 PCs and PowerPC Macs.

Rocking! If you’re in the USA, you can now buy Ubuntu DVDs from Amazon. We’re working on international availability. ShipIt is still rocking for free CD orders, but right now, Amazon is the place to be if you want sweet Ubuntu DVD loving.

GNOME: The Real Movie OS

Dave pulls back the bathrobe on one of his fascinating projects. When he first mentioned GNOME and GIMP appearing at SIGGRAPH, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would lead to GNOME becoming a real life Movie OS. With Xgl and Compiz, it’s pretty close! We’re just missing the helpful but distant British accent sound theme and big red flashing ACCESS DENIED dialogues.

GNOME is already a favourite in digital imaging — Dreamworks uses GNOME desktops, Pixar has contributed to devilspie, Miguel appeared in Antitrust. I’m not sure that last one is really an accolade though… ;-)

But why the rant?

Thom, you don’t need to rant to contribute your thoughts to the FLOSS process. You did warn that you wouldn’t ‘sugarcoat’ your comments, but why did you feel the need to dip them in venom? Remember that asking FLOSS developers to do something is kind of like asking if you can borrow their car — don’t tell someone their ride is a hunk of junk while asking for the keys!

I’ve answered your points, though, to provide a bit of information about where they’re at, and tips for where to look or how to get something done about them.

  1. Linux boots too slowly: This is true, but I’m happy to report that much work has been going on between the distributions and a number of upstream projects to address this. There is a lot of boot performance analysis going on, and even development of data collection and visualisation tools such as Bootchart.

    Thanks to tools like Bootchart, and developers fixing the issues it highlights, the latest Ubuntu release is significantly faster to boot than 5.10. I’m sure Scott James Remnant will be working on this again for Edgy Eft, cackling with glee as he carves bloody chunks out of our boot process. It’s always a lot of fun to watch.

  2. GNOME needs a better default layout for its panels: It’s good to see Novell experimenting with this, particularly for the purpose of end-user familiarity. As far as I know, they haven’t attempted to integrate this work — either design or code — with the GNOME community’s goals so far, but it will be interesting to see if it makes an impact.

    There is a fair amount of interesting work being done on future panel infrastructure and interfaces, so expect to see some movement on this in upcoming releases. However, keep in mind that a lot of homework — design and code — needs to be done before executing a change like this!

  3. Speaking of panels, please [...] fix [the] ‘taskbar': I’ve removed the wholly unnecessary rantage. Thom linked to a thread in which Vincent Untz (a GNOME developer) pointed out the relevant bug reference. He chose to link to his post on the mailing list instead of linking the bug number, has not commented on the bug, and is not in the Cc list.

    It is certainly asking a lot of a user to participate in GNOME bugzilla discussions, but I don’t think it’s a lot to ask of Thom, who has participated on the mailing list (within a thread that links to the bug number), and ranted about this very particular issue in his online publication.

    Thom, I’ve found that writing really good bug reports in the appropriate venues, and making personal (and kind) contact with developers has been vastly more effective at getting software problems fixed than making a public mockery of the developers. Mostly, ‘obvious’ bugs aren’t fixed because a developer is busy, or hasn’t designed an appropriate solution, or worst of all, has so much to do that he or she is having a hard time prioritising what really matters to users.

    We should totally fix this bug, though!

  4. GNOME has serious [widget drawing performance] issues: Yeah, it’s not great, but the ongoing work with the rendering subsystems (Cairo, X and GL acceleration of both) is looking really good, and will seriously improve the user experience — in more than just pure performance!

  5. Evolution needs some serious love: Yes, indeedy, and you only covered the user interface! I hope that Evolution (and possibly even some alternatives) will be a popular topic of discussion at GUADEC.

  6. GNOME needs better support for Palm PDAs: Yes, it’s been a long time since gnome-pilot has received sustained attention. Interested hackers should probably be looking at OpenSync.

  7. GNOME has too many ‘Preferences’ panels: Weeds have grown over time, and it’s time to cut them out! Unfortunately, this is mass organic growth that we have to get under control, and the only really effective way of doing that now is a top-down redesign of the preference dialogues, taking both gnome-control-center and gnome-system-tools into account. It has languished to a certain extent because it requires buy-in and integration from various parties and projects, not all of whom are running in the same direction. This is another thing that we need to talk about at GUADEC.

  8. Mounting is still a mess in Linux: I think you just found a bug. :-) While there is certainly work left to do here, I don’t think it’s as bad as you suggest.

  9. Ubuntu still does not pass my ZipDisk test: Ah, pet bugs! Have you filed this? That would certainly help, as would ensuring that a good hacker has access to the hardware. ZipDisks are not wildly popular anymore, so it’s not surprising that more work has been done on the infrastructure support and user experience with CDs and DVDs. Sometimes, you have to get things done yourself — if you can’t hack, you can probably buy pizza!

I’m a little bit surprised at the points you chose — there are so many other, probably more critical things you could have raised… But then, I’m also surprised you chose to rant — there are so many other, probably more solution-oriented things you could have done… :-)

QoTD: Desmond Tutu

“You need others. But you need others for everything, really. In our part of the world, we have something called ubuntu. Ubuntu. Ubuntu. Ubuntu. The essence of being human. We say a person is a person through other persons. I can’t be human in isolation. I need you to be all you can be so that I can become me and all that I can be.” — Desmond Tutu

We were all sitting around in Mark’s apartment, wondering what on Earth we were going to call this thing, brainstorming ideas and writing them onto a flipchart.

One of my suggestions was ‘Cockfosters’, in appreciation of the London Underground station I discovered on my way to the meeting — as soon as you get on the tube from Heathrow you’re greeted with, “This train is for… Cockfosters.” Endlessly amusing for the Australians (and the New Zealand wannabes). Now, “Cockfosters Linux” would have made the nekkid people release vastly more thrilling!

At one point, with some hesitation and furrowed brow, Mark put a new suggestion up.

Mark: “I don’t know what you guys will think about this, but…”
All: (quizzical silence)
Some clown: “I think you might have missed a ‘U’…”

Then he went on to explain what ‘Ubuntu’ meant. The room of rowdy, celebratory and opinionated hackers were suddenly very quiet indeed. This strange, ancient African word spoke so eloquently of our feelings about Free Software, and our participation in the community — there was no question that somehow, it had to be a part of what we were doing.

Two years and four releases later, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. Linux for Human Beings.