Friday, July 8, 2011

desktop stuff

Good 'ol Dedoimedo. He wasn't exactly complimentary in his Xubuntu 11.04 review, but he calls 'em like he sees 'em. He admits that he's no Xfce fan, and he clearly doesn't like Thunar (well, I'm not crazy about Thunar, either), but I found it interesting to read about the issues he had with Xubuntu.

I've used Xfce in Mint, from the Ubuntu repos, and that was fine. But everything I've read makes me think that Xubuntu is not such a good Xfce distro, and the things Dedoimedo says about it don't make it sound any better.

Mint's Xfce version, by the way, is now based on Debian Testing, and I'm getting the impression that it's looking nice and would be a better choice than Xubuntu. Myself, I like Xfce in SalineOS, just seems like a very nice implementation.

A weird thing about Xfce in Fedora 15, the other day I was using it and then logged out of the session and into a KDE session, and the KDE menu was replaced by the Xfce menu! Okay, that wasn't cool. But when I rebooted and went back into KDE, everything was back to normal. I'm thinking that it has something to do with menu Xfce uses now, but maybe it's just a Fedora bug.

Speaking of bugs, there was one in KDE4 around version 4.6.1 where the application launcher in the desktop right-click menu wasn't working. I first saw that in PCLOS, then in Fedora. That got fixed, but then another one popped up that I'm seeing in 4.6.3 in Fedora 14 and 15, the same application launcher starts up two instances of any application you open up. It only happens from the desktop right-click menu. I found the bug report and saw that Aaron Seigo has pushed the patch through, so that bug shouldn't be there when Fedora brings in the next KDE4 version (which should be soon; PCLOS has version 4.6.5 now, and Fedora seems bring them in not too far behind PCLOS).

So, even a KDE4 fanboy like me has to admit to still seeing a few bugs creeping up here and there in KDE4! Fortunately, both of these were in the same area, and didn't bother me much because the application launcher in the panel's main menu wasn't affected. But it adds fuel to the fire for those of you who don't like hearing that "the next version of KDE4 is the best!" :)

I'm enjoying playing around with Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 ("Natty"); it's a lot nicer than I though it would be. Quite a bit more configurable than I expected, too, but I found that I had to add a couple of tools to enhance the configurability, and my feeling is that those tools should be included by default. But isn't that the GNOME way of doing things (although, I guess techinically Unity is a separate thing from GNOME proper)?

Unity is good to work with. It has good tools for getting around the desktop, and generally it has a good flow to it, especially after you get used to it. I've found a few things that I don't like about it, and each of those are things that folks are complaining about, so perhaps they'll be addressed fairly soon. But I also found some web pages that have some really nice tips for using Unity, and those were some great finds (for example, see I tweaked the launcher (the panel along the left side) to make it a lot less, um, annoying and gaudy, but I'm thinking that it would be a lot nicer if it could be placed elsewhere on the desktop -- like at the bottom of the screen, maybe.

I think Unity is going to be great for a lot of people, and I can see where a couple of tweaks here and there will make it a lot nicer, so I'm looking forward to installing Ubuntu 12.04 next year. I think I'll have fun with it. Still, the next time I logged into a KDE4 session, I was happy to be back to a more "traditional" desktop! ("Traditional" in the sense of having a panel and normal menus.)

I've only seen a couple of very minor bugs in Natty so far, but a friend of mine has been talking about a "white screen of death" issue that he's seeing. I'm thinking that it's some kind of graphics driver problem, perhaps, because I haven't encountered it. Natty also comes with an option to log into a traditional GNOME session; I've taken a quick look at it to make sure that it works, but quickly switched back to Unity because it's just more interesting to me right now.

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