Monday, May 28, 2012

Gnome3 hates me, so be it

I am loathe to think that the same people who made Vista what it is could be the same people who are behind the UI changes in Gnome3. It isn't true, of course. But if Microsoft wanted to sabotage Linux on the Desktop, this would be the easiest way. Have the Vista people infiltrate the Gnome organization and unleash their ideas on unsuspecting Gnome developers. I apologize sincerely to all the hardworkng Gnome developers who are doing cool things on their free time but I think the Gnome3 UI deserves all that people are saying about them.
At first, I was going to rant on the shortcomings and nuisance that is Gnome3. I was going to elaborate on the designers "This is not the desktop for you, it is for everybody else" alienating attitude and wonder who else is left when they are done and who exactly are these mythical "everybody else" that would fall in love with Gnome and Linux by just spending 5 minutes using Gnome3.  I really wanted to delve into their "We know best..." opinions and "...therefore we will teach you how the it should be" pretensions (example). Finally, I wanted to draw parallels to their condition with that of the XFree68 organization before it was disbanded, though I do not wish them that fate. (For those of you too young to remember, read XFree86 Wikipedia link and the two opposing views here and here).
Finally, as I slowly solved my problems one by one (Is Suspend Sleep or Hibernate? Where is Mageia Control Center? and on and on), I realized that this is a necessary process. What is going on with Gnome3 is what makes Open Source what it is. As the Gnome3 UI developers hide (but not remove) features, other developers create extensions that uncover them for their current userbase. As developers and users push and pull, the result can only be a better program for everybody who uses it. This is about finding the middle ground between high-concept, bleeding edge UI design and the guy who has to use this for work every day, day in and day out. If you have chosen to leave for XFCE or KDE, that is your choice and I understand and respect that. That is just the way of the world we live in and we like it that way. And on the other side of the fence, we have passed the half-way mark of the Decade of Hating the Office Ribbon and powerless to do anything about it.
Please excuse me while I moderate the fight over control of my screen's bottom right corner between the Gnome3's notification and the down vertical scroll button of every other graphical Linux program out there.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mageia 2 Upgrade Success

I've just completed upgrading my HP Mini1000 Netbook (1GB RAM 60GB HD) using the in-place / seamless upgrade option. Seamless is not the word to describe it. Took a few hours because I chose to download all the files first. I didn't have access to an external DVD drive so this was forced on me. It felt forced because a notification came up saying that there will be no new updates for the current installed distribution (Mageia 1). A bit premature don't you think?

A few minor hiccups and surprises
  • Surprise! The Marvell drivers automatically detected the network when I plugged in the network cable. In the past, required a reboot with the cable plugged in to enable the interface. 
  • Hiccup. My on-board Broadcom Wiress NIC failed to work. Had some experience on this before when I first migrated Mageia so I knew what to do. Went into Mageia Control Center (MCC) and tried configuring the wireless card. Came back with response saying it needed the dkms-broadcom packages but was not part of the main distribution. Ignored link to generic Linux firmware and driver. Enabled Non-Free Repositories and re-configured network in MCC. This time it loaded the drives ok. But.. 
  • Hiccup. ..still couldn't connect. Entered the right SSID and key and key types. Finally gave up and allowed the Gnome Network Center control over it. It is an option that is off by default below the advanced section. Turned it on, Network Center asked for password. Gave it and it connected ok.
  • Hiccup. Mouse clicking is set to off by default. Took me some time to figure that out. Enabled it again on the Settings dialogue.

< rant > Over first impression of Gome 3 is bad. But that is because it reminds me so much of Suse Linux's gnome schema. And that was a huge stumbling block to productivity in a project I was working on a few years back. Back then it was confusing descriptions and duplicate descriptions for 2 different programs. Some free advice to the Gnome UI guys: Forget "Applications". Try "Work", "Play" and "Connect" and sub-divide from there. Put a Mageia Icon to replace the Applications and offer those three choices when it is clicked.
And why keep trying to look like Windows 3.1  Program Manager with the big icons? It was a bad design. Nobody missed it in the move to Windows 95.
The MCC was also hard to find. This is nuts because it is so central when setting up Mageia for the first time. Some Gnome settings apps could not configure the underlying components because MCC denies them access. Case in point: Wireless Network configuration. 
What makes this version worse is the thick window borders. I can see and fit less in a screen. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to open a text editor, set it to "Always on top" and takes notes over another application or webpage. Maybe I can configure the border thickness, I haven't figured it out yet. 
What compounded my frustration is that I installed a Mac yesterday. I know that since Apple sets the hardware, there is no surprise when you first turn it on. I will take that as one end of the scale. But the problems that I face today is less about the wide-range of hardware Linux has to support. It feels like we just are making life harder for us for the sake of making it harder. 
< /rant >

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mageia and Mandriva working together but not?

Two postings by Mageia and Mandriva has signaled a new stage in the relationship between the two entities. This involves not only the distribution itself but also relates to the board of each distribution and therefore the directions of the distributions. The Mageia post, talks about the talks between the two parties on some form of integration or reconciliation. However, the philosophies of each organization has grown apart enough that direct reconciliation is not possible. So Mandriva SA has decided to pass the responsibility for the distribution to new entity. In the posting titled "Mandriva Linux will return to the community", Mandriva SA essentially relents to the wishes of the community and accepts a larger role for the community in the future of the distribution. Mandriva SA will be part of this new entity and they are working out the exact roles and responsibilities.
The question is right now, what is the community like now? How much of the Mandriva active community remains after the split and how many have migrated to Mageia? It is clear that even though Mandriva will be returned to the community, it does come with strings attached. Those strings probably gave the Mageia board enough reason to decline Mandriva SA's invitation. Those strings may not have been technical in nature. What the Mageia board probably wanted to avoid is uncertainty over the future of the distribution. This uncertainty has been hanging over Mandriva and in it's current form, the Mageia board is not convinced the cloud will be lifted or even if dispersed, will not return.
What was more interesting was when the Mageia post is read together with the Mandriva post on the future of the distributions. To Mageia's credit, Mandriva SA will be basing their server product on the Mageia distribution. This is an acknowledgement to the stability and the maturity of the technical processes relating the generation of the Mageia distribution. What is even more interesting is when that news is read together with the rest of the post which talks about the position of the current Mandriva distribution. Mandriva will continue to form the desktop products of Mandriva SA. The Mandriva/Mageia pairing achieves parity with the Fedora/RedHat and the Ubuntu/UbuntuLTS relationships.
There is a slight advantage to the Mandriva/Mageia pairing and it is a product of the first posting. While Fedora and Ubuntu distributions are aimed at the general user and incorporates new versions of software, their server range takes a conservative approach, favoring stability over new features. But since Mageia's board is not directly related to Mandriva's board, the decision to include more recent versions will be independent and more likely be sooner. These inclusions will also be closer the core distribution itself. This avoids the multi-repository and priority arrangement of RedHat's method of incorporating newer releases of software. Needless to say my experience with a system that failed because the administrator added third party repositories without priority management colors my opinions.
With the release of Mageia 2 imminent, coupled with this news, it should make for an interesting few months ahead for both distributions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

We have a Springpad Notebook

I haven't been posting as often as I want to. In fact, I have a Springpad notebook full of unfinished articles. So Rather than dig myself out of the pile, I am sharing some of the stuff directly on Techsplatter's Springpad Notebook. It's not the same as the one I am using to draft articles but rather a holding area of the things I want to write about before I even put a word down. Get a peek into whats brewing.
Please visit and follow Techsplatter's Springpad Notebook

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