Category Archives: GNOME

GNOME.org relaunch

4 years it has been since I wrote about GNOME blogs here in this blog. And still the Plone site did not finish.

Plone was chosen and I link again to the reasons:

Ok, let's go for Plone. I think we could reach our wgo goals with
Midgard as well but there are some reasons that probably make Plone a
better choice here and now. These reasons, detailed above, are based
more on human factors than the tools themselves.

To me this is the end of the CMS selection process.
If you have anything to discuss, let's discuss it

I always have been strongly against this choice and it had been the reason why I quitted the GNOME web team in frustration about the shortsightedness. Most people don’t talk about things once they have left their group behind. I do. I keep an eye on what happens afterwards.

Ok now they use WordPress for all pages it seems. I did not find a condensed reasoning behind the new migration in the wiki. It seems to have happened between April 2011 and June 2011 for some reasons. I will not elaborate about pros and cons. I still think WordPress ist not really a CMS and can not match up to Drupal. But still WordPress is still better in handling than the Plone monster.

To the Plone fans: Sure Plone is much, much more secure and you can do a whole lot with it. But if you just want to run a website with it I still think it s really a pain. And I am not a CMS newbie . What I continually find sad is to argue with people and see things going in the wrong direction only to see after many years things moving in the same direction one has hoped it would go. Why do such thing keep happening?

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Screen blanks on Linux

I had the problem that suddenly my screen went black after a period of time. It must have been ten minutes. The problem was, that I could not disable the behaviour by the means of the GNOME tools (screensaver or energy preferences). Stupid Linux.

And if you find this, you probably have, because I left this hint for you. 😉

If you have the same problem try this. First see if you got the same:

xset q |grep blanking

See of it looks like this:

  timeout:  600    cycle:  600

If so the number in the left says something about the timeout of the screen in seconds. 600 seconds are ten minutes.

For the current session you can just type

xset s 0

If you just type in “xset” it will list some screensaver related commands t the bottom of the output.

The “xset s 0” disables the timeout counter and so effectively prevents the blanking of the screen.

I have no idea why there seems to be now no interaction between the GNOME tools and X11? I had this problem for months. I had played with “xset -dpms” bit this did not help at all.

Many of us do not have a xorg.conf any more, because we learned that autoconfig mostly works. But now this does not? Well I have added a xorg.conf withonly  this content to the coniguration directory /etc/X11/:

Section "ServerFlags"
 Option "IgnoreABI" "True"
 Option "BlankTime" "0"
 Option "StandbyTime" "0"
 Option "SuspendTime" "0"
 Option "OffTime" "0"
EndSection

This should be it!

Honestly this kind of shit fuels my doubts about some free software developments.  Personally I can wait for some months to solve a problem. Now I usually don’t do reinstallations of Linux to fix things, unless I have a very serious issue. And I recommend to act similar. I think for most desktop machines updating seldom and be patient in fixing is the best way to keep a stable system. Sure not updating can lead to some security issues. But in my  whole computer life I have not a single serious security issue. On the other hand I had thousands of problems with updates of software. So for most users the thing that really will cost you a lot of time is updating if you dont really need it.

I think the whole Microsoft/Windows shit has led people to believe that updating to the latest version is the best way to keep your operating system safe and stable. That might be very true for Windows. And it might also be a very good idea for internet servers. But on a generic notebook I would rather recommend to only install the software you need and stick with it as long as you can. What security risks do you fear? Somebody shutting down your system? Or somebody steeling your data? I guess your risk as a Facebook users is much higher that people steal your data that you just submitted.

Sure there might be people who need a lot more security. If you have important company data on your notebook and sit in an airport lounge connecting to  a wireless LAN you better have your disk encrypted as well as your connection. And there is a slight chance that somebody can break your system because you are using your Openoffice.org has a security leak. But still my guess that chances of this statistically are very low.

Personally I would tend to use  OpenBSD for a notebook, which is more safe by default, especially for people who don’t want to invest much time in keeping a system safe. And I guess it’s a very good idea not to connect to a WLAN at all if you are really worried about security. But nowadays people want to have it all and at the same time they want zero risk. My guess, but I am not a security expert, is that this is impossible. It’s like you buy expensive outfit to protect yourself from being robbed – but then entering the darkest parts of a city often. You will be robbed, even if you feel well prepared. The best way for not being robbed is to avoid some areas .

Ok don’t take that too seriously. There is never a 100% security. My point was, that it’s also a question of how probable a risk is and what could happen as the worst case. Many people don’t have important data, but more people need to have a computer which works when they need it. Strangely many friends I know tend to risk the functionality of their computers while they worry a lot that the might be at risk. So that’s why I get called for help each and every time and need to fix what some updates have corrupted.

 

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Foresight Linux 2.5.0 release, it is still not dead

Wow, I did not think they would bring out another version:

Here is an Editor note about Foresight from Tomas Forsman.

 

Nothing much new. The release had increased the rank of Foresight to the 32nd most important distro. Popularity is nit everything, but the message of Foresight really was, that it would be for everybody. Which it isnt.

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GNOME 3 / GnomeShell Review

Somebody made a review. I can agree on his view mostly:

and here:

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Switching from Ubuntu to Debian again

I  had been a long time Debian user years ago. But I have switched to different Linuxes. I have used Ubuntu for the last years, but had a problem with it for quite some time. Where I have already talked about earlier.

I have now decided, that it is much easier to just not use it any more, instead of living with their craziness of manipulating all kind of behavior in a non standard way. Its worse enough that GNOME does not goes in the wrong direction. But GNOME still is workable. At least in Debian.

I am now using Debian Testing/Squeeze. I like to see that Debians community is alive and developing.

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Ubuntu: Is it worth it?

I have been enjoying using Ubuntu. But there is one issue that make me start to think about switching distribution, again. The one issue is Mark Shuttleworth. But the individual, but his role in the distribution.

First of all I do not believe in the concept of benevolent dictatorship. I rather believe in the wisdom of crowds. So I do not trust the decisions of a single person, whoever it is. Does not matter who!

The second step is to look at some decisions Mark had made. In tle last 2 years I especially have a problem of two core decisions, which are:

  • Deciding to remove the shutdown option from system menu
  • Deciding to move the window buttons from right to left.

My main reasoning for disliking the decisions is that I had big, big problems adopting the changes. But I dont want to reduce decisions oin if I can get along. But if you think twice it is easy to realise that people with disablities, children or old people with have much more problems adopting the changes. I have enabled the FUSA on some other desktops and it sill feels totally unnatural to me.

Also my view is, that a distribution in fact should not fiddle around with the software as much as Ubuntu does. The right way would be to talk to GNOME and to reach a consensus . From a service perspective it is just hell if you assume you are providing services to different Linux distributions and you cant assume a specific layout, which is known to be a GNOME standard.

Maybe Mark decided this way so that Ubuntu is so different to other distributions and then people who learn Ubuntu will stick to it? I dont know – because obviously he and the gus from Ubuntu made a very bad decision from a usability perspective (TWICE!).

I am not  always conservative. I have played around different window managers – and I think GNOME has missed the opportunity to adopt tiled window managing before Windows did. And now Windows advertises with tiled window managing, while Linux had this for ages – but  GNOME can not claim to have supported it. It had the taste of being too geeky (while in fact its a very practical feature).

So I like to update my desktop. But what I do not like is that I incorporate drastic UI changes which are not really thought through. and forcing to manually fix. I install a great deal of Linuxes for other people – and what I hate is that I have to fix all kinds of stuff before I can let people work with the machine. I like to keep things as default – because this enables people to feel home on many machines. Right now its so that somebody who gets a default Ubuntu will never feel home on a default Fedora, although both use the same GNOME and would have the perfect chance to show that different distributions dont mean you have to adopt and learn before you start working with another distribution. And it is not Fedoras fault this time!

So my criticism to Ubuntu is exactly two very consious decisions they made – without any need. So its not just some kind of bugs. They want it that way – they want people to get upset and have second thoughts about using Ubuntu. Why? I do not know.

I am think between switching to Fedora or Debian right now. Debian has the advantage of being more democratic and me being mor efamiliar with apt-get. Fedora is more interesting technically. But as I am getting older I also do get more conservative. I have used both for some years. I did like the responsiveness of the Debian maintainers, whoch is much higher than on Ubuntu. On Ubuntu you are mostly being seen as just a stupid user.

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You can not download GNOME!

One might think that this should be a simple task. I have continuously written about what GNOME does wrong. I should not care. but sometimes I re-check if things changes. But they do not.

Simple thing: Let’s say you think you like GNOME and want to download it. If you are smart you go to the GNOME main website. You even might now that GNOME is not just some Windows software, but you have to do more. But even then. I already wrote about the GNOME Live Disc problem. Which does not really have beend fixed. You do not see any Download link on the GNOME main website:

The only thing you see is a link to the latest release: GNOME 2.30. But why should you care? GNOME developers always think people just want to know about what ahs changed, because thats how they think about it. But lets say you have trust in thins link and get to the release notes page of GNOME 2.30. What now? You can go to the Bittorrent downlaod page torrent.gnome.org if you even know what Bittorrent is and that this can be a way of downloading. But you cant, because all GNOME 2.30 releases have a “Coming soon!” – But wait – we now see the “Download” button on top! We click it and where are we getting to www.gnome.org/start/stable/, which this time again leads us to the release notes of the latest stable release (today that is GNOME 2.30). So we look what else we find and we are successful, because there is another link:

You can get a list of distributions that ship GNOME and discover the latest versions they ship on our Get Footware page.

Aha. This should be it – so lets click on that page. But at least on the german page version this link is broken (And because there is still now 404 page we would be lost). On the english version it works. But now we are facing the fact that we only reached a page of links to DistroWatch. Though the page is nice to have, this is much away from any direct ability to download. This page is much more like a wiki page, which keeps geting updated every now and then.

The problem is: downloading GNOME should be the most important thing for GNOMEs people to consider a general user wants. This is still true – but still nobody cares. But you even have “Support” twice in the main page.

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I declare Foresight Linux as dead

I am not any Foresight Linux Official, but I asked if Foresight Linux is dead in December 2009. Og Maciel answered publicly to my blog post and said:

So to answer the original question posted by Thilo, “is Foresight Linux dead?” I can gladly say “Far from it!” I predict that the Foresight community will rally together in 2010 to get back to being the most GNOMEic and bleeding edge distribution out there!

More then six months after his post, there is still no new release. And as I tried to look where Foresight is ranking now, I found out that it is not listed by DistroWatch any more.

And I think it is fair, with all respect to those who invested a lot of time and energy to foresight Linux, that Foresight Linux can be declared dead.  The main reason for this is the wrong marketing in a broader sense. Because the product never fitted the message. Foresight Linux had many options to which path it could go, but it chose to try to do it all – being the “just works” distro and also being the “bleeding edge” distro. So in fact it became the “bleeds while its running” distro. In my opinion in a distro you have to make tuff choices. You can not have it all. You can not do it all. If you try you will lose all possible users and end up destroying the software project.

Besides the Foresight problems I have also experiences a lot of problems with rPath – the core of Foresight, because it continuously had only old versions of Python per default and no mod-wsgi for Apache and many other problems. There where mich more efforts to gain more customers, than to fix those problems.

But if you, like me, have based your whole server on bleeding edge Python software like MoinMoin wiki and server technology, rPath is just not good enough. MoinMoin needs very modern Python and loves to work with mod-wsgi.  it is not the question of you can fix those stuff by yourself. Thats what you can do on EVERY distro. Its more the question of those base stuff is something you wont have to worry about. But on rPath, you have. And that is just not acceptable for me any more.

It is said to see all this, but I have foreseen this years ago. Everybody who had eyes could see it. It was not impossible to make very good distros out of rPath and Foresight, but  if the managers do make bad choices continuously, then there will soon be no choices. I guess rPath is not yet at the end. Maybe Red Hat will buy the company and technology or some other software company?

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Sick of GNOME community attitudes

Just one day after I have written a blog entry about the failures of the GNOME website. One issue was the lack of a customized 404 page. My guess is, that http://www.gnome.org never had this kind of page configured. So this means this issue existed long before I filed the bug. So this is a bug from 1998 maybe. This means 11 years and nobody cared. People often commented that all problems will be solved with the new CMS. But that did not come the one year and the other year. The last comments I got after somebody added yet another comment of that sort to this bug, which i did not find any constructive have been outrageous:

Andre Klapper questioned the constructiveness of my comment in which I critcized, that Lucas Rocha tried to (again) deny the importance of the bug because it would be solved anyways by the new CMS. Well yes, the new CMS will change everything  -but there has been a patch for two years  not fixing the issue 1998 has not been tolerable, not after I filed the bug, not after I submitted a patch and not 2 years after. Andre Klapper wrote:

Okay, to rephrase it: Please don’t add comments that do not add any additional value to bug reposts and are offtopic. At least Lucas and others ARE working on it instead of just talking about it.Thanks: your friendly bugmaster.

Anybody who has tried to help with GNOME knows that helping is not easy. I think I had given up trying to get more administrative access after my request was not answered 9 months later. Also i did not provide any more patches after most of the bugs that I filed, like the simple 404 issue were neither commented nor taken seriously. Why should one work on patching a system if nobody cares. So I consider it very unfair and coldhearted if a user like me, who reported a bug and even provided a fix is not even ignored but also if he reminds the developers and admins that the bug on the history of this bug and that it would likely not be fixed without being considered seriously he is aggressively attacked.

This I found an attitude absolutely common in GNOME. The most common reaction to critique is often the denial of the problem. Mostly they say the problem is YOU and not the software or the website. Its really funny to be told that others are working on a problem if those are the same guys who consistently denied any help and also often enough denied the necessary attention to important issues.

I now came to the conclusion that GNOME is not worth my attention at all. I have had a long history using and helping GNOME with bug reports, marketing, wiki, … but it has always been a lot of work to only be heard or be able to change only very little things.

What I would have expected is to get at least some respect of all the years and time and work that I have spent on helping GNOME – and not to be told that I have done nothing. This is exactly the kind of arrogance that can be the death of GNOME.

I have requested that my account will be removed from GNOME Bugzilla because I don’t plan to help in any way any more – not with this kind of attacks. I don’t need that and I don’t want that any more. I am talking about the same issues of GNOME years and years – and then you are told GNOME does not need distributed version control and they go with subversion. Only some years laters they do switch to a distrubuted version control – but sure enough nobody will say that you were right.

The fact is that in the real world nobody really knows GNOME (from a marketing point of view) and that the software and the website have many issues that can be fixed very easily IF some issued would be taken more seriously. But you find the attitude of Andre on many developers – and I would say that this is one reason why no GNOME application has become very big, but that others like Thunderbird, Firefox or Openoffice.org who are not part of the GNOME culture have had much more progress and public acceptance.

Like Rythmbox which has Podcast support but a simple patch to remove old podcasts is not adapted because the main developers seem to have a large enough hard disk and so do not se the issue. this has resulted in many users switching to the non-GNOME Miro where this exactly ist the nices feature: that podcast episodes are removed in 3 days if you do not say otherwise. So Podcast with GNOME is a no go for most users.

Or look at Evolution which still forces you to open junk mail befpre you can mark it as junk (other than Thunderbird). yeah we should all close the preview window than we dont have the problem. But what if we dont want to renonounce on that preview? I have filed a bug about that years ago, this solution was also denied, so the only real usable mail application still is Thunderbird where this is possible.

I do not say that there are not great developers, programmers, guys & girls within the GNOME community. But the main spirit is way off what really matters. Most developers are so taken up by the thinking and developing of the latest&greatest that they do ot realize how many things absolutely dont matter for most people and how many little things are not changed who would matter greatly.

So to summarize I do not know who GNOME is targetting as a user base but it sure is not the average computer user. I think its people or better programmers who like to live on the edge and who do not use the GNOME desktop for productive use. People who like the looks of GNOME or some new fancy stuff either hidden or obviously.

The problem is that this is not what they communicate. GNOME says they want more users, but they actually don’t. GNOME could easily have millions of new users with fixing some of the major issues. GNOME is still one of the best desktops because besides KDE it is still true that most other desktops are worse than GNOME or do target evern more remote user groups.

But GNOME 3 could be a game changer – not in the positive for GNOME but as a kind og KDE4 effect. Ad it will look and act differently it will turn away a lot of old users. Many will use XFCE instead as the new GNOME and some might go back to KDE4. Its so sad to see a hopeful desktop drowning.

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GNOME and how NOT to do marketing

How NOT to do it?

A simple example. Lets say you have heard of GNOME or you use it and want to downlaod the latest GNOME live CD. What would you do?

Right, you type in “gnome live cd” in a search engine like Google. Lets see what we get on February 2010:

google search result

search for "gnome live cd"

So we get essentially two top results. The first are in the GNOME Live! Wiki and the first result is the page GnomeLiveCd. If you open the page you do get a page that was last updated by me in 2007 so  about three years ago.

The other link leads to a not any more exiting webpage http://live.gnome.org/GnomeLiveCd

Marketing is no magic. Its more or less often about giving people what they expect.

If you lead people who expect to be able to download a running live cd to three year old information and none existing websites this is a #FAIL.

You can mostly forget thinking about any more marketing if you fail here.

Another failure is that GNOMEs website do not provide custom 404 pages and that just too many websites become 404 (not found). In 2008, so two years ago I reported this as a bug and provided a simple page as a solution. Nobody cared – so it was ok to LOOSE all visitors who do not find a page. Ali Abdullah talked about why this is important.

A website without 404 page cant be taken seriously in 2010 from a marketing perspective. If you take into account that fixing it would have been an one minute job you start wondering about priorities.

GNOME has taken a lot of work and efforts to start the new website with the Plone CMS: I have no idea when it will land. Right now http://www.gnome.org is not accessible. Maybe this means its already there? On the central development page in the GNOME wiki GnomeWeb you are told the new website is coming in September 2009. So so much about updated information if you really try to track down the progress and you care about the website.

Third example was the GNOME Office website, which was outdated for many years and to just resolbe this issue it tool about a year.

I could go on and on, but these are just two examples that show how NOT to do marketing on the internet – even if its “just” free software. No smart person will ever try to test GNOME again if what he finds looks so crappy.

How to do it?

Really, really simple: Provide the information the user needs – and if it is hard to find or  moved either forward to a new place. Keep information update. You do not want to discourage a user from trying out your application, desktop or whatever.

This is just my small view of the whole “marketing in internet” problem which results from my experience and after witnessing what has happened and especially not happened with the GNOME website.

I write this down, so that things change. Things do not change because you get a great new CMS. You might get it someday – but what do you do in the five years between now and then. Sure, nobody wants to see five years of stagnation, but what you can learn is that fixing the small things often still makes sense. Nobody likes to fix small things, especially men dont like it. Men like to think big. And maybe thats part of the problem: They do a lot of heavylifting and much too often find out too late that it is too often. That said I have also seen women falling in love with Plone; no idea why … 😉

Summary

Help people find what they are looking for. Most web users have simple desires on their mind like find some essential information or download a live cd. Even if you can not provide this, you can say that you do not and why. And deal with users that come to your site like something worthful that should not be wasted easily!

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