Monday, April 11, 2011

Gnome3 from a XFCE user's perspective.

"Just tried GNOME 3 for 30 seconds. Prefer the old version. Will say bad things about GNOME 3 whenever it is mentioned for the next 5 years." - @1990sLinuxUser

I love this quote because it makes me think of many blog posts I read about Gnome3. I also really like who ever runs that twitter account because its quite entertaining.

I would like to take a moment to state this before we go any farther just so that people know my stance before we get anywhere:

Gnome3 is good, Gnome3 is damn good.

There's a large amount of people who dislike it and don't prefer it and I respect their right to their opinion but I honestly get a little annoyed by people who piss on the hard work of innovators.

Ok, now that's out of the way lets move on....

First, Gnome3 is pretty:

Gnome3 is good. Right out of the gate I have a lot of respect for the well thought out design with its clean and uncluttered desktop. I personally completely respect the lack of panel plugins, the lack of desktop icons, and the decision on the overview layout design for interacting with the desktop in a very intuitive fashion. Gnome3/Gnome-Shell set out to accomplish something and that was to make the Free Desktop easier to use, more productive, and to have a seamless user experience. I think these things have been accomplished with great milestones being etched into the landscape along the way. Many design decisions were made with the idea of current day work flow and user interaction in mind and I can't do anything but respect that. The new integrations with power management, NetworkManager, messenger, and notifications are nothing short of impressive and make for a solid user experience. The additions to the file manager are also highly welcomed and I think make for a far more user friendly file navigating experience. Not to mention the over all innovations in general human computer interaction: Of course we should use our computer peripherals simultaneously! It's wasteful not to. Gestures for window management? Yes, why not? is it faster to zero in on that tiny little box in order to maximize, unmaximize, or close a window or is it faster to click anywhere on that top bar and throw it into a side of the screen and let go? Go ahead and test it a few times with a stop watch, don't worry ... I'll wait ....

Good, you try it? Awesome. See how much faster that was?

The backlash from the community about things like this astound me. This isn't new, innovation in the Linux space isn't new by any means and the funny thing is that each great stride forward is always met with the same response: "Blasphemy!!! How dare you change $x" Think I'm crazy? Ask a KDE dev sometime how much heat they took over the rewrite. Ask Lennart how much crap he's taking over SystemD. Ask Matt Domsch how much crap he's taking over biosdevname. Go ahead, ask them and you'll get a similar response from each of them as you will from a Gnome3 developer and what amazes me is that they are so willing to take the punches and defend their stance. You know why they do? Because they believe in the tech and they know that in a year, the haters will be on to complaining about the next thing and everyone will simply be happier with the changes that they are driving which are being made for the better.

(Yes there were great strides before these I listed and there will be more tomorrow and they day after that .... these topics are relatively current and apply to the topic at hand so if I left out your innovation then I apologize for doing so and for the crap you put up with during the initial development and release of it.)

Alright, lets round this back to me being a XFCE user.... I've been a XFCE user since 2004 (no I'm not the most veteran user out there, if you've been using XFCE for longer, awesome ... good for you). I also really respect other desktop environments in their own right such as KDE3.x and KDE4.x, GNOME 2.x and 3.x, LXDE, as well as the vast amount of window managers turned quasi desktop environment but at the end of the day I always come back to XFCE because its my comfort zone and I like the way things are done in XFCE land. I like the strict standards compliance, the fact that I can rip and replace any one or many aspects of my desktop and replace it with another standards compliant piece of software that I thought was interesting, I love how light weight and simple it is and above all I love that it offers me the feature richness I desire while being discrete enough to not get in my way. Would I be upset if they completely dropped the current implementation and went with something wildly different like Gnome3? Maybe at first, but I wouldn't trash them for their efforts to innovate and I would certainly happily either adopt the new solution or find an alternative because there are a *LOT* of them out there and they are all waiting for a larger user base.

Moral of the story: Gnome3 is awesome but not my personal cup of tea and I'll be staying with XFCE for the foreseeable future.

Also, XFCE is pretty too :)

Congratulations to all those involved with the Gnome3 release!

Happy hacking to all and for anyone interested in Xfce 4.8 ... feel free to pop over to the Fedora 15 Nightly Compose page and grab yourself a bit bucket full of the Fedora Xfce Spin! :)


Texas Linux Fest 2011

This is sadly a week over due in the blog space, but last weekend (April 2, 2011) was the second annual Texas Linux Fest in Austin, TX. This year was night and day compared to last year in terms of turn out, venue and number of vendors with booths.

There were roughly right around 500-600 people at the event in the Hilton Downtown Austin and we filled their conference rooms right up. The Fedora booth was extremely busy! I even had a couple people from other booths come over and make comments on how busy we were which was a pleasant surprise from fellow exhibitors. Even during the "lunch break hour" (the sessions broke for lunch but the hall where the booths were hosted never had a shut down moment) the Fedora booth was a notably happening location in the exhibition hall. There were vendors from all walks of the Linux ecosystem there: Fedora, Red Hat, IBM, HP, Dell, HostGator, RackSpace, Softlayer, Webmin,, OpenStack, Novell/SLES, LinuxJournal Magazine, and many more (apologies to those who weren't listed ... that's just what I could remember off the top of my head a week later).

The usual swag were big hits, the Fedora buttons, ink pens, stickers as well as pressed media were in high demand and we had a box of Design Suite media left over from the SXSW event that had gone on two weeks before that were extremely popular as not many people knew it existed. Many of the conference attendees who showed interest in the Design Suite were either those who dabble in graphic design or have a friend who does it in more serious context and they've been looking for a good avenue to show off the FOSS alternatives to the proprietary tools these individuals currently work with.

Dell also had a booth across the way from us and they were giving away a laptop at the end of the day. One of our fellow Fedora Ambassadors (Julio Villarreal) ran over and fired up some Fedora on it and the Dell reps who were there were good sports about it and let it run on there all day which I thought was another night avenue to show off some Fedora goodness.

I was also extremely excited to see so many new faces in the crowd, the volume of Linux users who were likely in high school or fresh into the college scene that were very interested in what Fedora is up to and has to offer was refreshing and I hope to see many of them become key players in the Fedora of tomorrow. The OLPC XO was a big hit as was my Genesi EfikaMX Smartbook that I brought along with me to show off what the Fedora ARM development team has been hard at work at (very big special thanks to Dennis Gilmore for putting up with my ultra ARM-noob self while trying to make that thing work in time for the conference). On the topic of Fedora ARM, there was a PandaBoard booth at the conference and a few of their booth exhibitors came over to check out Fedora ARM running on the smartbook and to ask questions about the efforts that were ongoing. They were very impressed!!

There were a number of users who were interested in the alternate desktops (LXDE was extremely popular) available on the installation DVDs that were on the booth table. We gave away roughly 500+ pieces of media, probably 200-ish case badges, similar amount of stickers, all of the buttons (think there were 150-200 of those), all of the stickers left over from SXSW, and a hand full of balloons and temporary tattoos.

The Fedora booth was stationed right next to the Red Hat booth which as I've expressed before I think is a very powerful statement to have us standing next to one another but as our own separate entities. Many times we at the Fedora booth were asked about the relationship with Red Hat as well as if we were Red Hat employees. None of us at the booth this year were "Hatters" and that came as a surprise to a number of the conference attendees but we still the same enjoyed explaining the heritage of the community centric Fedora and its long time relationship to Red Hat. Those talking points I felt were very effective in explaining many things that people "on the outside" don't 100% understand.

All in all I would have to say it was an excellent conference and I can't wait for more like it so that we can go out and show off the awesomeness that is Fedora!