Jan 30, 2009

The Future of Compiz

Earlier I wrote about the uncertain future of Compiz, and how a lack of leadership and direction that has caused virtually no major work to get done since the Compiz Fusion creation (Beryl merger) in 2007. Looks like there's an update to that story.

In a blogpost Sam Spilsbury wrote that it looks like the developers will be going ahead with Compiz++.

On a Conference Call 2009-01-28 the future of Compiz was discussed. Finally, some decisions were made regarding the future of Compiz.
Starting from today comes into action a new committee, which will use a public, open (yet moderated to non-committee people) mailing list for decision taking. Those who reply on time will be those who are taken into account in this decision taking problem (deadline-definition is one of the first topics to discuss). Once that deadline has been reached and the decision actually been made, it will be published outside of the decision taking-specific mailing list.

There were a lot of other topics discussed:
* Deflection about conference calls (vs. mailing list)
* Communication problems
* Exploring ways of leadership
* Core issues (no ETA, no merging strategy, no public or private plan for branches)
* Problem with documentation

You can read the Compiz Conference Call summary here...

To read all of what Kristian Lyngstol had to write about the future of Compiz, read his mailing list post.

Jan 28, 2009

Linux Boot Performance!

If you are interested in Linux boot performance, you might find this interesting:

* Intel Moblin V2 Core Alpha boot very fast! About 7 or 8 seconds to full desktop.
* A transcription from the Scott James session at Ubuntu Developer Week and a spec on the work.
* There is also the ubuntu-boot mailing list with more information on what’s going on in Jaunty.

Dust Theme 0.3.0

There have been (and still is) much talk about the Ubuntu theme. The dark Dust theme is loved by many users. Dust is a concept for a new, refreshing look for Ubuntu. The idea was to take the defining aesthetic elements of Ubuntu and remix it into something clean, modern, functional, and unique.

New stuff:
* Dropped Aurora support, sorry. I'll get it back when I get some time.
* Cleaned up a lot of code.
* Now uses the clearlooks engine, and uses the murrine engine (tested with rev136) ONLY in the checkboxes and menuitems. I'd like to stay away from murrine until it gets stable.

The theme is currently being worked on by Rico Sta. Cruz and Kido Mariano, but sadly Rico Sta. made this announcement on the ubuntu-artwork mailinglist today:
After this release I think I'm going to stop working on the theme for a while.

Rico Sta. is one of the most talented artists in the Linux community. He also provided the Ibex for the wallpaper used in Ubuntu 8.10 - Intrepid Ibex

The 0.2 series is still available for download. Grab the 0.3.0 release here...

Jan 27, 2009

Compiz NOMAD Demonstration

Nomad is a set of components that provide an unmatchable remote desktop experience to Linux. Sam Spilsbury demonstrates DavidR's NOMAD branch of compiz, showing the possibilities it presents to the Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop.

More about NOMAD here...

Compiz NOMAD Demonstration from Sam Spilsbury on Vimeo.

KDE 4.2 Visual Guide

For KDE 4.2 there is now a visual guide that shows off some of the improvements for this KDE 4 update. KDE 4.2 brings new desktop applets, the KWin window manager brings motion physics and other effects for its Linux desktop bling, the PowerDevil power manager has been introduced, and various KDE desktop applications have received their own arsenal of improvements.

Visit the site here...

Source: http://www.phoronix.com/

Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference

Keir Thomas (author of Ubuntu Kung Fu) has published a new book titled “Ubuntu Pocket Reference and Guide” which can be purchased on Amazon for $9.94 or downloaded for free in .PDF format from his website. Keir has a long history in writing quality Ubuntu books and I highly suggest checking this one out! :)

Visit the site...

Source: http://www.ubuntupocketguide.com/

Response To The Proposed Canonical Notification System

Celeste Lyn Paul (leader for the KDE Usability Project) has written a very interesting response to the proposed Canonical Notification System. You can download the .PDF file here or visit her blog to read the full article.

Here is a short selection from the article:
...This design will have an impact beyond Ubuntu. Canonical has expressed interest in upstreams adopting their proposal ideas, particularly GNOME which is the Ubuntu default desktop environment. It also is expected that the CNS will also be implemented and integrated in to Kubuntu, a KDE-based Ubuntu derivative.

To date, there has been no usability testing or validation of the proposed CNS. The following is a summary of a literature review I conducted to help evaluate the proposal and its impact on Kubuntu and KDE.

Source: http://weblog.obso1337.org/

Global Bugjam Promotion Video

A lot of people are busy organizing their participation in the Global Bug Jam event. Here's a promotion video for the event:

Jan 26, 2009

New Design For The Ubuntu Wanted Site

Yesterday I visited the Ubuntu Wanted test site and noticed that the design (although it fit's with the other Ubuntu pages) does not look as professional as I might have hoped and wanted. So today I did a redesign of the site (mockup only, no HTML) to a more "lightweight" version. I've added Nicolas Deschildre idea of a inter website navigation bar.

Here is my latest design suggestion: (click to open in a new window)

Jan 25, 2009

Jaunty Developer Week logs available

The Developer Week for Jaunty is almost over, and there have been many great sessions. Logs of all sessions have been kept and they are appearing on the wiki as they are processed. They can provide a useful resource on the topics covered.


Jan 24, 2009

Improved Quit Applet

The quit applet was changed in Intrepid, but there is still potential to improve it. For this reason the QuitAppletPlus project was started and it's ready for your feedback now! :) It's not a replacement for the current Intrepid fast-switch-user applet, the ideas from both should be merged.

- all quit actions (seven!) are easy available, without overloading the view
- more intuitive action names and icons for inexperienced users
- configurable quit applet menu design/behavior
- protection against accidentally choosing wrong actions without "Are you sure?"-confirmations
- extended quit options, hidden by default
- alternative approach to protect other logged-in users if you perform shut down or restart
- graphical countdown by automatic shut down
- and finally you can power off the computer only with one mouse click!

If you want to try the quit applet plus, you can install it from a PPA repository or from a Tarball. See the wiki for more information or visit the QuitAppletPlus Launchpad site.

Jan 23, 2009

Mark Shuttleworth on Windows 7

Earlier I wrote about the Windows 7 Beta and how my experience with it turned out overwhelming positive. Yesterday The Register posted an interesting article titled: Ubuntu's Shuttleworth praises Windows 7

When The Register asked Mark Shuttleworth, founder Ubuntu Linux and CEO of Canonical, about Windows 7, he replied "I'm not going to diss it." In fact, he went further and talked about his experience with the operating system:

I've kicked the tires on the [Windows 7] beta for a few hours and it was good. They've put concerted attention on the user experience with the shell. I think it's going to be a great product, and every indication is we will see it in the market sooner rather than later.

Microsoft is cutting 1,400 jobs today and another 3,600 over the next 18 months in the wake of today's news of a 11 percent drop in fiscal second-quarter net income, the company announced today. It seems like Canonical is still hiring and that they're not going to slow down anytime soon. Perhaps that's the answer to the question I asked earlier "Is Sustaining a Business Better than Turning a Profit Right Now?"

Source: Kotaku
Source: Arstechnica

Jan 22, 2009

The New GDM Is Available For Testing

Today Sebastien Bacher made it possible to try the new GDM, currently planed for Jaunty+1, in Intrepid. On the Desktop mailing list Sebastian wrote:

GNOME upstream worked on a GDM code refactoring some cycles ago, the new version is not used in ubuntu yet, but it's being considered for next jaunty+1 and it would be nice to start giving it testing now.

The upgrade plans are described on https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DesktopTeam/Specs/Jaunty/GdmUpgrade and you can get it a first version in the desktop team ppa now.

To try it add "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-desktop/ppa/ubuntu intrepid main" to your sources.list and install gdm-new

There is some known issues:
- the new version conflicts with gdm, fast-user-switch-applet and gdm-guest-session, those and ubuntu-desktop will be removed when you install the new gdm version
- the new gdm has a switch user applet but it didn't get the ubuntu changes which happened during the intrepid cycle
- the new gdm will get started directly after installation, that should close your session but you will be switched to gdm, you can select your current user to resume the session use though
- there is no configuration migration nor graphical tools to do changes to the configuration
- the new version might be lacking some of the options you were using

The new version should be mostly working though and let you log in, switch between users, suspend the computer, reboot, etc.

If you do try the new version and have some comments feel free to reply on the Ubuntu desktop mailing list, if the user feedback is good the new version will be uploaded to universe.

Source: Sebastien Bacher

For more information about the new GDM, visit http://live.gnome.org/GDM/NewDesign

Jan 20, 2009

Canonical and Microsoft: Is Sustaining a Business Better than Turning a Profit Right Now?

Kristin Shoemaker wrote a short, but interesting post about the two very different business-models user by Microsoft and Canonical. Is sustaining a business better than turning a profit right now?

Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, claims that the company is very close to the $30M mark, at which point, they will be a self-sustaining company. While people feel that this should not worry Microsoft, the real question is whether a 10,000 person effort on a "failure" like Vista can actually be the paradigm of a long-term strategy.

Source: Kristian Shoemaker

Jan 19, 2009

Wallpaper slideshow mockup

There's a lot of focus on usability, accessibility and user experience going on. I recently wrote about the clutted Nautilus sidebar and how categorize items displayed with headings would make it easier to navigate, providing a better user experience.

I also wrote about the new notification feature in the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 and how, the new plasmoid, the KNetworkManager component recived a very slick and refreshed look for KDE 4.
It seems there's a lot of good stuff coming, that will make many tasks easier.

Today I created a Ubuntu Brainstorm idea and added the mockup you see below:

As you can see above, a new option has been added to the Appearance Preferences menu. You can choose between different background as you always could, but now you can multi-select pictures. Multi-select works by CTRL-clicking each item you wish to include. Multi-selecting pictures will create a slideshow on your desktop background. I hope this will provide a better user experience, though this feature is something most of us can live without. I have no idea how this can be combined with my expanded wallpaper for multiple desktops idea.

The idea is awaiting moderator approval before going to the popular ideas area, but when it does, cast a vote here:

3rd Ubuntu Developer Week Starting Today

The 3rd Ubuntu Developer Week has just started. This is the best opportunity to get involved in Ubuntu Development. Top-notch talkers, top-class sessions, Getting Started session in multiple languages.

The Ubuntu Developer Week will have one week of action-packed sessions from Jan 19th to Jan 23rd!

In just four years, Ubuntu has become the most popular Linux distribution in the world with millions of users and a spot regularly at the top of Distrowatch. Ever wondered how Ubuntu development works? How to get involved yourself? Find out from Jan 19th to Jan 23rd!

Ubuntu Developer Week is a series of online workshops where you can:

* learn about different packaging techniques
* find out more about different development teams
* check out the efforts of the world-wide Development Community
* participate in open Q&A sessions with Ubuntu developers
* much more...

To view the schedule and get more information, visit:

Jan 15, 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 boots in 21.4 seconds

Softpedia reports that Ubuntu 9.04 Boots in 21.4 Seconds using the current daily build and the newly supported EXT4 file system.

The article provides some interesting test results, as you can see below:
· Ubuntu 8.10 with EXT3 filesystem boots in 31.8 seconds (on the AMD Sempron system);
· Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha (Build 20090112.1) with EXT3 filesystem boots in 28.3 seconds (on the AMD Sempron system);
· Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha (Build 20090112.1) with EXT4 filesystem boots in 23.1 seconds (on the AMD Sempron system).

· Ubuntu 8.10 with EXT3 filesystem boots in 26.8 seconds (on the Intel Core 2 Duo system);
· Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha (Build 20090112.1) with EXT3 filesystem boots in 24.5 seconds (on the Intel Core 2 Duo system);
· Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha (Build 20090112.1) with EXT4 filesystem boots in 21.4 seconds (on the Intel Core 2 Duo system)!

From the article:
'There are only two days left until the third Alpha version of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) will be available (for testing), and... we couldn't resist the temptation to take the current daily build for a test drive, before our usual screenshot tour, and taste the "sweetness" of that evolutionary EXT4 Linux filesystem. Announced on Christmas Eve, the EXT4 filesystem is now declared stable and it is distributed with version 2.6.28 of the Linux kernel and later. However, the good news is that the EXT4 filesystem was implemented in the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 3 a couple of days ago and it will be available in the Ubuntu Installer, if you choose manual partitioning. The bad news is that EXT4 will not be the default filesystem for the Ubuntu OS until version 9.10, due for release in late October this year.

Linux hardware site Phoronix has released benchmarks based on extensive Ext4 performance testing that was conducted with a solid-state drive. The most impressive results can be seen in the IOzone test, which measures write performance for a large file. In this test, Ext4 annihilated the competition and significantly outperformed XFS, JFS, ReiserFS, and Ext3. The new filesystem also outpaced its peers in the Intel IOMeter File Server Access Pattern Test.

Source: Slashdot
Source: Arstechnica

Jan 14, 2009

New refreshed look for KDE NetworkManager interface

In most modern Linux distributions, network configuration is handled by NetworkManager, a desktop-neutral service that seamlessly manages connections. It leverages D-Bus and HAL to provide a standardized programming interface through which higher-level applications can interact with network configuration and expose networking functionality to the end user. NetworkManager has largely eliminated the need for managing network configuration through text files or the command line in all but a few corner cases.

KDE and GNOME both have their own custom graphical frontend components for NetworkManager that make it easy for users to connect to wireless networks and perform other network-related configuration tasks. KDE uses the KNetworkManager component, which was in dire need of a refresh for KDE 4.

KDE contributor Sebastian Kügler is working on a new Plasma-based front-end that takes advantage of the NetworkManager support in Solid, KDE's hardware abstraction layer. The latest prototype, which is available from KDE's version control system, has a lot of potential.

In a blog entry about the new plasmoid, Kügler discusses the various usability lessons that he learned from testing WiFi configuration tools on other platforms, including Maemo, an iPod Touch, Windows, and the GNOME NetworkManager panel applet. He attempted to draw on the best elements of those while avoiding their mistakes.

"So one of my personal goals is to not make all those mistakes in the interface for networkmanager in KDE4. We're not there yet, but progressing OK," he wrote. "It is in no way near release quality yet, more like an early Alpha. We're trying to have a first working version out within the next couple of months, hopefully in time for the distros that ship in spring."

It won't be included in KDE 4.2, he says, but he hopes that it will be ready for KDE 4.3.

Source: Ryan Paul

Jan 9, 2009

Nautilus Places Reorganization

Back in December I wrote about how the Nautilus places menu looks very cluttered. If you also think a change is needed, you can post your opinions on bugzilla on Bug 508404 – "Sidebar should categorize items displayed with headings":


Jan 8, 2009

"Linux killer" in Beta

It's only very rarely that this blog features news not related to Ubuntu / Linux (You could say that this is related to bug #1), and actually I've never written about Microsoft Windows before. That changes today. A lot of blogs are writing about Windows 7 as "the linux killer" - this one doesn't - although the Windows 7 experience is overwhelming positive.

On Friday, January 9, 2009, Microsoft will make the Windows 7 Beta and the Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta available to the public via four different locations on Microsoft.com, each of which is oriented towards a different customer type. I don't have exact URLs yet, but suffice to say that the download availability will be obvious.

Microsoft learned a few lessons the hard way with the release of Vista, and there's no doubt that they'll do everything not to make the same mistakes again. With a lot of enhancements, both visual and under the hood, Windows 7 is going to be a product that will win some lost Windows users back. Windows 7 has faster boot and shutdown time, that both Vista and XP. The hardware requirements have been lowered and Windows 7 will now run well on netbooks like the eee PC.
At the recent PDC, where Windows 7 was unveiled, Windows and Windows Live senior vice president Steve Sinofsky claimed that Windows 7 used less than half of the 1 GB of RAM on his Lenovo S10 netbook," Gralla wrote on October 31st. "Making the new operating system lightweight has clearly been Microsoft's goal."
The next day, Gralla gave one more reason: "The return rate for Linux netbooks is at least four times as high for Linux machines as it is for XP ones for at least one netbook maker [MSI]... The reason? People find Linux too hard to use."
There's also rumors that users buying a computer with Vista preinstalled after July, will be able to upgrade to Windows 7 for free.

I've had the opportunity to try this new Microsoft product and I have to say, one thing Microsoft does really well is make it look good. If you are dualbooting (Linux - Windows) perhaps the BETA is worth trying out.

For more information, screenshots and reviews on Windows 7 visit Paul Thurrott's SuperSite

Jan 5, 2009

Wallpaper artwork for Jaunty alphas

Back in december 2008 Kenneth Wimer posted a message on the ubuntu-art maillinglist asking people to submit wallpaper artwork for the Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) Alpha releases.

Kenneth wrote:
Wouldn't it be nice to offer a wallpaper for the Jaunty alphas? People working
on a test system would immediately know it and it might spur interest as well
(or rants, etc). I don't want to put any restrictions on the design, the
point is just to get something different in. If it helps to test out any
ideas or work towards some goal that is an added bonus. All entries should go
on the wiki.

There's already a few proposals uploaded to the wiki. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Artwork/Incoming/Jaunty/AlphaBackgrounds.
So far, this one is my favorite

Suspend/resume solved in Kernel 2.6.29

It sounds like one of the major bugs in Linux has been solved. On Linus' blog he wrote two posts on suspend/resume. The first one titled "Debugging hell" and the last one titled "Life is good again...". If this fix is for any suspend/resume in general is still questionable?

As a response to a question in the comments, Linus wrote:
...it's too late to hit the 2.6.28 release (the fix is fairly small, but very invasive), so it will go in early in the 2.6.29 merge window...

Source: http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/

Jan 4, 2009

Elisa Job Offer

Elisa is entering in a new growing phase and they are looking for talented engineers to join their team. Several positions are open. Read the full news for details.

Elisa is an open source cross-platform media center connecting the Internet to an all-in-one media player. It features an intuitive interface with a professional look and feel which can be easily used with a standard TV remote control.

Job offer: python engineer UI orientated, backend or web developement.

Elisa is a free and open source media center working on Windows and Linux. The goal of the project is to provide software that lets the user enjoy their multimedia content in an easy and user-friendly way, on a television or on a computer monitor. It organizes the media collection and gives rapid access to watching videos, pictures, and listening to music while simultaneously interacting with contextual information and services. Elisa features a very animated, interactive user interface whose success depends on good usability and aesthetics.

On the technical side it relies on 3D hardware acceleration to provide inexpensive and fluid user experience. Although Elisa is written in Python it uses a handful of base libraries written in C, such as GStreamer for media playback, Pigment, its graphical engine, which in turn uses OpenGL to take advantage of the graphical hardware.

Elisa has been in development for over 2 years and is close to its first stable release. The company will enter a new growing phase, and we are looking for talented engineers to help us become a leader in media experience.

Motivation and a genuine will to create a usable and useful piece of software for everyone are the keys for a successful applicant. Severals positions are opened :

UI development:
* Build an innovative user interface with OpenGL
* Create new 3D effects and visualization mode

Web development:
* Manage the software and the community website
* Build web services to improve Elisa
* Build internal procedure and company intranet with the management

Core and plugins integration :
* Add new services to Elisa
* Help contributors to create and integrate new plugins in Elisa
* Work on Elisa's core

Our internal organization creates opportunity to change from a position to another during the development process. The working language is English.

Please send your resume to: lionel@fluendo.com

source: http://elisa.fluendo.com/news/31/

Jan 1, 2009

The Future of Compiz In Question

Rather than announcing a road-map for 2009 or sharing all of the accomplishments this year that were made within the Compiz development community, Kristian Lyngstol has shared some grave concerns for this project that brought "desktop bling" to Linux. Kristian has outlined a few areas that that he believes need to be addressed otherwise it could mean the death of Compiz. Compiz in fact is just losing developers at this point and with the different forks taking place there is much stagnation occurring within Compiz.

Kristian believes that there is a lack of leadership and direction that has caused virtually no major work to get done since the Compiz Fusion creation (Beryl merger) in 2007. Compiz hasn't seen any new developers contributing significantly to the core development efforts since that time, but instead are losing their developers.

Blamed for this unfortunate state is the lack of project goals, inconsistent organization, and undocumented code. When it comes to the inconsistent organization, Compiz still has multiple bug trackers, developer mailing list, source-code repositories, etc. Kristian believes that these problems must be addressed before work on Compiz continues. He is also calling for clear goals to be defined for each release.

The Compiz community also needs to decide what to do with the branches of Compiz that are out there already. Compiz++, which is a rewrite of Compiz in C++, separates the OpenGL and Composite layers, a new plug-in interface, and brings forth several other significant changes.

To read all of what Kristian Lyngstol had to write about the future of Compiz, read his mailing list post.

Source: Phoronix - Michael Larabel