Tuesday, May 29, 2012


 It never ceases to amaze me that so many Linux folks go on and on and on about all the things they hate about Ubuntu, about Unity, about GNOME Shell, about... Here's an idea: If you don't like it, don't use it. Problem solved.


For the most part, the GNOME Shell Extensions concept seems like a good idea, especially for folks who feel that they need to add tools to make GNOME Shell more like a "traditional" desktop. Still, I prefer to stick pretty close to the default set-up in GNOME Shell, and have no problems with using that to get around the desktop and get my work done. The only extensions I use are Alternative Status Menu and Quit Button.

If you go to the GNOME Shell Extensions site, currently you'll find 12 pages of extensions. The site could use a little organization; you can sort the extensions by popularity, name, recent additions, or downloads (I'm assuming that the difference between "downloads" and "popularity" is that the latter represents how many people actually have a particular extension turned on, but I'm not sure about that). It would be helpful if the extensions were categorized in some way.

I've tried out a handful of the extensions; usually, I end up feeling like they just add clutter to my desktop and don't really make things any easier for me. Seems like a lot of them are buggy.

Some of them come close to being something I'd want without being exactly what I'd want. For example, I'd like to have the Panel-Docklet extension simply show me icons for each running application. Nothing else. I messed around with the extension's settings for a long time, but couldn't find a way to get it to do just that. It gives me an icon for the running apps on the current workspace; I can set it to show running apps from other workspaces when the mouse cursor is hovering over the extension, but that isn't what I want.

Seems like it would be better to just add xfce4-panel with only the icon box on the panel, set to show icons from all workspaces. But with GNOME Shell's Activities overview, I feel like I don't need to bother with adding something like that. Keep it clean, use it like it was designed, I'm fine.


Fedora 17 was released today. I currently have F15 (KDE) and F16 (GNOME) installed; I'll be replacing the former with F17 (KDE). I like having both of the two most recent Fedora releases running here, and I've been happy with what they do with both KDE and GNOME, so I'll just continue going with KDE for the odd-numbered releases and GNOME for the even-numbered ones.


I use SalineOS, which comes with Xfce; one of my Debian Stable installations is the Xfce version; and, I've added Xfce to Mepis 11 to use sometimes as an alternative to the default KDE.

There's plenty to love about Xfce. I often wonder why folks who hate the never environments (KDE4, GNOME Shell, Unity) don't simply switch to it and get on with their lives.

I add a few things to Xfce to make things more pleasant for me: Dolphin and KSnapshot from KDE (better than Thunar and Screenshot), the Geany text editor (better than Mousepad), and Desktopnova for automatic wallpaper changing.

When using Xfce, the only things I can think of that I miss: Some kind of screen edges/hot corners action; a desktop/workspace grid; and a nice, simple menu editor.

But Xfce is so light and easy to configure that it's no surprise that many people don't want or need any other DE. For my money, it has the best panel in the business (it's my panel of choice for Openbox, by the way). Seems like there's no need to worry about any dramatic changes coming in the future. Kinda seems like the ideal default DE.


The distros installed here include Mepis, SalineOS, PCLinuxOS, and Semplice Linux. All of these are either based on or spun from "larger," more established distros. All of them fall under the "one-man distro" category. And all of them are nice distros.

I played around with the idea of dropping all of them and just sticking with the "big boys" that I run -- Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, and openSUSE -- but I finally decided that I enjoy using those spin-offs and following the projects over time, enough that I'll probably keep them all (not sure about Semplice -- Debian Sid or anything based on it is too much of a hassle for my tastes). But going forward, I don't think I'll be adding any more of those types of distros to my lineup.

Overall, I think "major" distros are a lot better. Their documentation is better; and, they're more likey to be around five years from now, pretty much sticking with the same philosophies. On balance, I feel that the "spin-offs" don't offer that much in the way of advantages over the "major" distros, while the idiosyncrasies of the spin-off distros and their (lone or few) devs can be quite irritating at times.

So, even though I'm reading all kinds of wonderful things about Linux Mint 13, Crunchbang, and SolusOS, among others, I think I'll pass.

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