If you start GNOME help the first time this takes a lot of time. On my system (1.4 Ghz) I am guessing it needs about 30 seconds (and therefore about 6 times slower than Epiphany) – and you do not get any hint if something is happening. I do not know what they are doing that makes it so damn slow, but my suggestion would be to dump Yelp alltogether and use Epiphany by default. With that decision you get a help faster and also have the full featured browser. Maybe give epiphany a start option like epiphany –help-browser to get in a special mode and thats it. The current status is just unbearable. A help must be available very quick – at best instantly. Everything else does not work at all.
Also I would suggest to minimize the offline help and rather link to the web for uptodate help. Maybe as an option allow people to download the online help as a package. Today it does not make much sense to reduce help to just some official offline help. Like in Ubuntu you get the most help that makes sense in wikis rather than the official documentation.
No offenense to the programmers of Yelp. I just dont know why things are that way – and also I am quicker making a google search and getting an answer than waiting till yelp has started.
I have just updated to newest Ubuntu. Here are some points of interest:
- Thes removed the shutdown option from system menu. You now HAVE to use the stupid applet. IS this a GNOME or an Ubuntu decision. Personally i dont like this applet for shutting down. I always used the system menu. The applet looks so similar to the pidgin icon. Argh how stupid can programmers be? That would be a reason to dump GNOME. You should not remove essential stuff
- Flash does not work in Firefox and Epiphany
- I cant installe epiphany-webkit
- the volume ruler now is horicontal. Is this better? and he did crash
- The messaging (if you change volume, network is connected, etc.) now has a black background
- totem does not play videos and crashes
- monitor settings look much better. need to test it with my beamer.
- btw. the gnome 2.26 news again sound silly at least in german like:
- “GNOME’s web browser, Epiphany, gains an exciting new feature of an improved location bar, similar to the Awesome Bar popularized by Firefox 3.0.” – well Epiphany had this address bar BEFORE Firefox – it might have added searching the titles also – but what kind of GNOME marketing is that?
I am sure there is more to say. Why dont I file bug reports. Because I have lots of outstanding bugs that are undecided ot disputed so I know it does not make sense to submit new bugs. Its more likely that somebody reads this review and acts uppon that as that anybody really cares about new Ubuntu bugs from my experience. Thats sad but its true. That does not mean people do not work on bugs in Ubuntu – but they tend to either fix clear bugs or dismiss anything they dont get. Like the Evolution guys who still have crappy spam marking options. I did file a bug in GNOME bugzilla years ago but they still think spam handing is not important. That was the single reason for me to switch to Thunderbird.
I have read the comic about Googles new chrome browser and I must day I am impressed. It targets some points I like to see in browsers:
- They call it “omnibar” – others say Opera was the first – personally I know it from Epiphany for ages – and Epi still is ahead in the implementation because it includes search engines also.
- Google Chrome also has tab completion for search engines. Personally I think this is smarter than Epiphanys solution – also Chrome fetches the search engines automatically if you visit a site. That may be difficult if there is more than one search box, isnt it?
- Starting with last visited pages is not nice. I dont want anybody tht I show my browser to see exactly which pages I visit most often and so give him an insight about my preferences. This is a privacy issue in my view. I think organizing that in some kind of menu or my recalling adresses also in respect of how often they are visited would be smarter.
- The ‘incognito window’ allows me that everything I browse in that window not being saved (no history, etc.). Good idea!
- Popups banned to the tabs they come from – yeah. nice.
- The security model is smarter than what we had before
- A crashing plugin not being able to crash the whole browser would be a great accomplishment. As this is one reason i cant use Epiphany nowadays – because Adobes closed source flash player constantly crashes it. You know that flash nowadays really is on nearly every page – so that happens quite often – how I would love open source flash plugins to become a perfect alternative. Then bugs would be fixed finally.
- Chrome downloads malware sites. So this is kind like the adblock lists available? If so, thank you and this can be incorporated into other browsers, too
All in all I think this is a nice thing. There are some other important points, too such as a focus on stability and a fast javscript engine – but thats not really my focus. Why does Google do that? I think that Google has hoped that other browsers would become more capable and that this did not happen fast enough and so they decided o take WebKit and make it even better, just like Apple did with Safari. Again a lesson in Free Software. Where this will end up is that these browsers will gain something:
- Konqueror uses KHTML, WebKit comes from KHTML. I guess it will use webkit as default in the future, also.
- Safari as it uses Webkit from beginning or better Apple forked KHTML to do WebKit.
- Epiphany as it will switch to WebKit
- Some mobile browsers like for Google Android and Nokia stuff (Nokia bought Trolltech who build Qt. And Qt is used to make WebKit)
Mozilla has lost the support of many projects who were using the Gecko engine or where evaluating it. As far as I understand those projects felt that Mozilla cared more about Firefox and Thunderbird and so they had some bugs open in the rendering engine which they then handled in the interfaces rather in the engine itself – and that Gecko was more complex to use.
I have seen that myself – when you try to build Epiphany and have a constant problem with the XULRunner component (compatibility issues).
So I am seldom critical to what Google does, because I always thought what they did had a good quality. I now have tested Yahoo search for a while because it is default for firefox search in address bar – but the results are essentially worse. And I dont know of any other viable alternative. And this has been going on for years. Google also has made some smart moves in business like Gmail, etc. where they essentiall daid that disk space should not be an issue and invested some time to make the interface smarter than general web based mailers. In the end Google often wins because their results or products are better.
I agree that they are too dominent now and I would love to see more competitors – but those now are just too greedy and too silly. Google can be beaten for sure – they are also humans (at least I think so, LOL) . There is a lot potential in the web – Some years ago, before Google hit the search engin scene there were actually different search engines you could select from. Today i still only use Google, because I like to get the best result of what I intend for my search. if other search engines would try to do that they would become better, also. But essentially most others try harder in selling ads first and funnily thats why Google earns more money than those others. I think that only Open Source can stop Google -and I even think that Google would not see this as competition. Google already has moved into different fields and soon the search technology will not be the heart of their business. It was just the one thing they were the best in the world and what everybody needed and wanted. So I see the point where Google might even open up the code of their search engines – not soon though. I dont have an overview of where they earn the most but think that still the search engine is too essential for them to share much of the knowledge?
I had the experience that on GNOME on OpenBSD strangely Firefox is started as default. This shoudl not be the case as Epiphany is the default. One way to set it is when you start “gconf-.editor” and browse to the section where you might alos find firefox:
and change it right away to “epiphany %s”. This is only a fix. I need to find out why this is set false. Maybe somebody thinks GNOME should have Firefox as default. I could not change the default behaviour when just setting it right in “Preferred Applications”.
Some other things I like to critisize:
- This is a good thing: Actually FF now uses Epiphanys model of accessing (via “Smart Location bar” ) bookmarks – bookmarks, tags and history are searched while you type. Also bookmarks now get tags instead that they are stored in folders. Whats funny about that is that this was one of the major reasons to use Epiphany – so now FF uses that, too – Whats bad about that? Nothing much, just want to mention that Epiphany had that since MANY years
- “Organic software”? WTF? One essence of open source software is not think your users are stupid. Firefox thinks people think organic food is nice and so they do want organic food for their computers. Well… its just nonsense, this kind of “microsoftic” “aollike” marketing. If you dont want smart people to use your browser tell us in clear words!
I must say maybe Epiphany was not able to continue its road of inventions and rather made solid new releasesm while some problems were still in place. But I still prefere Epiphany as it seems to me lightyears ahead in simplicity. And now that Mozilla does this promotional shit I have lost my last hope that Firefox might once be either unified with Epiphany or better than Epiphany.
I think one problem FF faces is FeatureCreep. I personally dont think fewer features are always good. But if software is build to get more features in it always gets messy.
Also read another criticism with another view: “What have I got against Firefox 3?” from Nanci Barthelmess
I have taken a deeper look into Ubuntu. Those are some things I find weird:
- Firefox is the default browser. I think this is ugly, but anyway… if you try to install Epiphany the problem is you can only install Epiphany without the extensiosn via the graphical installer. As this is the suggested method this means that most users wont ever be able to have adblocking and other cool extensions that come by default with the browser. Its really funny, because I know a lot of people who dont like Epiphany because it doesnt have all those nasty little extensions – but they dont see how elegant it is. Its potentially VERY fast and gives you a whole lot of good extensions that dont exploit your system. On Firefox you never know what you get when you install random extensions from the web. Actually their plugin system fails to be as secure as it needs to be. I have seen people with about 50 plugins that are partly incompatible. People dont think. If you allow people to install all kind of crap, they will do so – and then it doesnt make much difference if the core would be secure. As long as the browser doesnt give me some core and secure plugins it doesnt really provide me the needed functionality. Thats why I am really advocating Epiphany. Konqueror might have been some similar advantages, but I havent looked at it that much.
- One of the most important feature for users like me who came from the Mac was that the upper right corner in GNOME also had the application switcher menu. Ubuntu chose to replace it with the “Leave” button (to log off, shutdown, restart). So this had two disadvantages: a) One of the most important menus is gone and b) People levae the desktop instead of switching – also this makes the GNOME desktop work very different on Ubuntu than on standard GNOME, VERY fatal. I suggest to change that.
- the small trash on the lower right is just too small to be used effectively . When shall I use that one? Why should the desktop only contain icons of the user? I agree that the common desktop concept has a problem which is mostly this: The desktop can only be seen fully when the user hasnt any applications open. But OTOH a small trash is very hard to use especially for children, old people or people with disabilities.
- There are no icons on the default desktop. Which leaves the user to only use the menu. Why is the desktop user switcher on my default? I would think that 99% of all desktops are only used by one user – and as space is valuable this applet wastes space.
- There is no system tools sub menu. Where is gconf-editor? Not only did the gconf-editor make it hard to find some settings, now Ubuntu also hides the editor and makes it even harder to tweak settings. Um, why?
- Still my Ralink RT61 wireless connection drops all the time (without NM realizing this). This is extremely annoying this happens with WEP as well as with WPA. On Foresight Linux this only happened with WEP.
- The messages NM posts to the log are not very informative compared to Foresight so I cant really help debugging. Has anybody disabled some debugging in the Ubuntu package?
- Synaptic opens too much windows and is complicated to use. It also doesnt help the user to install the right packages. It tries to help, but it also lacks a lot of packages.I think PackageKit looks much more promising and I hope Ubuntu will pick this in the future.
I will keep testing Ubuntu in this notebook, because we will have an install event at the end of march. And there is really no alternative to use Debian and Ubuntu. Foreisght? Sorry, you still havent enought localization support and also many things dont work, like you can only scan images in one resolution (FL-825). Fedora? Sorry but as long as the community policy is not going to change that is not up for discussion? Gentoo? Nope, not for newbies! OpenSuse? That might be an alternative, but nobody know would like to help installing that
I think for a local LUG there is no other option than the combination Debian & Ubuntu für install fests. There could be many others but all I have looked at so far decided to make things harder. “PClinuxOS” might make some sense. I have seen it installed and it has a nice configuration center. But it also had weir weirdnesses. But I could imagine to install and test it at least.
Remember: If we help installing we want people to be able to ask others or come back to us. So we wont pick any esoteric Linux, even if it would be better. Unlessthe majority in a LUG is convinced that this is the best.
My big hope was that Foresight would rise, would have good hardware support (scanners, cameras) and localisation by now. But all my core points werent worked on. I am still sad about this fact, especially because I think I will never love Ubuntu. Ubuntu is just like the big elephant you cant ignore. And this means also that it really doesnt matter if ots providing good software. I think if it brings people to Linux it is good. People can then switch later if they want. People will think its good as it is trendy. So the marketing still works.
People like to search – and often people like to search for specific stuff – like a wikipedia article, the Amazon product base, a movie in IMDB or in social bookmarking. I have thought about that for a while. Firefox lets you install search plugins to be able to select this more comfortable and Epiphany also allows you to define “intelligent bookmarks”. But is that all really intelligent?
- You should not need to install a random plugin on your system or browser. An installation is like an operation of a human – there is always a chance that something goes wrong or you get infected. Also what Firefox gives you is a selection of websites. The options to search are: ENDLESS. Which means that the search plugins menu could be endless and you could have a never infinite list of plugins.
- Defining intelligent bookmarks isnt always easy, especially when its not simply URL based but hidden in a search form.
How would a really intelligent search work?
I don’t know how you search but I often do something like this: I look for a technology or a product – lets say I search for an USB microphone – this means I need to know what makes up a good microphone – I need some customer opinions – and also a comparison of prices. In this search might be involved: tech sites, Wikipedia, review sites(like dooyoo or ciao.com), online shops,… . The problem with search with a general search engine is, that it doesnt understand my search. How could it? I think thats only possible with user collaboration and when the users give feedback about their search. The problem with that is that people are leaving a search site when they browse other content. What could we do? I think the only possibility is to integrate intelligence into the browser itself. I should be able to save “search paths” into my browser – maybe not bookmark a page but mark a sentense that gives me an answer and link that to the question. So you might start with just typing in a question in you local browser. This now uses a desktop search engine to look up if there is a similar question. So you might even get saved answers by typing in the question – like “How much euro is 1 us dollar” or you even could say “euro dollar”. Typing in “time” could give you the time. or when the desktop would not know what you mean or you explcicitly tell it to search online it could try to identify your search like:
- euro, dollar – both are currencies – so the user most likely wants to see their relation.
- usb microphone – the desktop could know or maybe lookup in some databases that this is some technical product – question would be if the user wants to understand how they work, want to get this working on his computer just buy such thing or get some recommendations.
- About recommendations: Users could interactively say what recommendations they like – or could trust some users (friends, colleagues) what recommendation sites might be helpful.
Maybe Wikia is now on the way of implementing this – but personally I strongly believe that the important part has to be the browser or desktop search engine. And then it can link to specialised searches like Technorati – but maybe rather fetching the content than opening a web site. I think opening a website should be the last thing to do. I dont think it makes much sense to load tons of websites on a local computer without any need of all that material – and also – why loading a web page, stripping out the adds as good as possible and then search for the real content. This is all because of too much crappy business models based on advertisements – while this all takes much more of our valuable time and makes getting the information we want or need much too hard.
Ok Adam wanted to have some feedback about his latest post about Apples and Oranges. I will take on this task. Lets start with: I could not disagree more:
- Adam thinks that Microsoft is successful because its monolithic
and that Linux should be, also. I don’t think that would be the right way. First of all Linux is so successful because it was not monolithic but was able to adapt in different environments. It gave people the freedom they did not get from Apple or Microsoft.
- Slow releases I think is the most problematic thing we still have. Release often and early is better for an increased development velocity. To be honest: Linux is still very much in the flow – that means changing APIs and backwards incompatibility. Is this bad? Yes. But this does not have to be this way forever. One way that often turned me away from distros like SuSE or Fedora was their lengthy update cycle – forget about Debian in this relation. This only results in totally boring distributions. The problem is that on Linux you get software via a distribution and on windows you download via web or buy in a store. So the only way in Linux to get updates is via distribution. Of this would be only every 1 1/2 years or more like Adam suggests Linux would always be more behind – more than it already is, often, due to distribution that are, due to their release management systems, not be able to release often (like RPM or DEB based systems). I think the way to go is rather to allow people to just install from every source and also let the users decide if they want this software – and not having only a few central repositorities
- Linux IS a platform? Hell yeah! Linux is available on a wider varity of architectures – more than any other OS. Adam seems to suggest that packages should have less dependency so every package should include all the libraries. That might make sense in some way if one looks at software a bit like appliances so to make a programs less dependent on the underlying infrastructure. This can be done today already. But we should also not forget that the FLOSS way is to cooperate. So if you take GNOME or KDE as a desktop environment they are set up in a way that let applications work together. and it makes no sense to put in redundant packages and dependencies. I think maybe its good to include more small libraries in an application statically because depending on it from the distribution would mean that it would have to be packaged already.
- Novell/SuSE/integration. i could hardly agree that this is agood example because I had a hard time to get everything to work there. And also they misuse GNOME and change things form upstream that should not be changed. So that results in a menu thats really not very usable and instead looks more like Windows XP (Is till do not believe that this really is the result of hard usability research!) and things like the font beeing too small for the panel clock (since many months now and the dont fix it). Foresight to me seems to be much more integrated in the sense that it uses the default web browser of GNOME: Epiphany which should be default on ever GNOME desktop because it is much more integrated.
- Hardware: Here I would partly agree: We should have a Linux hardware standard. Or better free and open hardware standards. Here are some initiatives on the way from manufacturers of printers and wireless nics in collaboration with Linux developers. We could even use some more – not have just Linux compatible or certified hardware but hardware that is made for Linux. This would mean to have a more long term plan so that we coudl tell hardware vendors what standards we like to see in two or three years.
- backwards comaptibility is not important really. Microsoft and Apple never had that, really. Its nice to have ok.
- What i think Linux needs is more of a vision. And that you can depend on some things. So it would be nice to have more stable APIs and a foreseeable future. So that users and developers know where they are heading. Right now this seems to be impossible for the big distros like SuSE,Fedora, Ubuntu. The only distro that seems to be able to release in time wioth GNOMEs 6 month cycle is Foresight and so its the only distro I ca depend on – although it might have some issues here and there – but this I had on all distros with the only difference that they rarely go fixed – and that fixing with a package of my own was never a way to go.
Why did we do this? Why didn’t we continue to present Firefox as the front row browser? Well its simple: We are THE GNOME distribution. We want to show the latest and greatest in GNOME software – and to experience what a real GNOME desktop looks and feels one should really should recommend the official GNOME browser.