February 23, 2019

gnotebook: Falling Down on the Job, Climbing Out of Post-Ximian Depression - page 2

ESR: Horseman of a Bummer

  • May 11, 2001
  • By Michael Hall

The soldiering on, though, provokes questions. There was interface sheer when I made the Linux move and spent close to a year familiarizing myself with X and wherever Linux was strange compared to the Ultrix machine I'd once roamed on, so it stands to reason that as surely as I could learn Linux (and X) these many years ago, I could relearn Windows. A few hundred dollars later, I could be talking to my publisher, finding games at Babbages, and generally enjoying an orgy of off-the-shelf hardware purchases with never again loading a compatibility list into my Visor before going to the store.

The simple answer is that it wouldn't be as much fun, and I'd feel bad for doing it. This isn't a Linux advocacy piece, quite, so I'm not going to go into all the reasons I hang around: I just do.

The good part, though, is that the last few weeks have been banner weeks in terms of turning my perceptions of where Linux is headed around. To wit:

  • Mozilla 0.9 came out. I wrote an impassioned plea for patience and forebearance where this project was concerned last October, proclaiming that it's "in the home stretch" and "ready for use daily." I wasn't lying at the time on the first part (the release schedule has since changed a few times) and I really was using it daily myself.

    At the same time, I wouldn't go back in time and make anybody else use it. A non-scientific study of the common computer in my house shows Mozilla still tends to sit idle with the people who haven't trained their fingers to use CTRL instead of ALT (yes, it can be changed.)

    This release is much nicer, though. Almost a nod to those of us who have wished all along it would just get faster so we wouldn't want to claw our eyes out while waiting for a preferences window to open or another window to close.

  • Eazel released Nautilus 1.0.3, which works really, really well. I've had reservations abuot Nautilus in the past, and I still have a few where performance is concerned, but it's much nicer to configure and it's better than it was before. The newsfeed sidebar is pretty cool (and useful, even) and the design team was actually responsive to users who wanted some interface issues fixed despite the reservations I know some of the UI design people and core developers had.
  • I got AbiWord along with my Ximian GNOME install and played with it for the first time in a long time. It's much nicer now. I still can't use it for my publisher, but I've had some light word processing to do of late and my housemate's able to work on her resum� with it. The bonus for me was going through the FAQ and finally figuring out how to turn on the Emacs keybindings. (It requires tweaking a config file now.)
  • Ximian released version 0.4 of their setup tools (a few of which are pictured.) These are small, narrowly-focused administrative tools that break down a lot of configuration issues into very basic tasks. They're built to work with existing configuration files instead of attempting to reinvent the registry but they're awfully friendly. GUI config tools might not be for everybody (they aren't for me) but these look pretty good, and they'll help a lot of people's lives become a little easier when they're done. They also take the step of addressing system configuration in a coherent way under GNOME that will eventually tie in with the rest of the environment through its control center, which is great.
  • On a Red Hat 7.1 machine, I got a chance to see KDE2 with the anti-aliased font support the newer versions of Qt and XFree 4 introduce. I'm prepping for Desktop Switch Week, which isn't far away, and I wanted to scout the terrain. Like a lot of people have noted, anti-aliasing isn't the best thing for small type, but it looks great everywhere else. In fact, poking around KDE2 in general was a cause for more optimism. Those guys don't look like they have it so bad over there. I'm looking forward to having to learn it for a week.
  • The GNOME project announced that it wants screenshots. Why is this a cause for happiness? Simple enough: for anybody who doesn't care to hack X to make it faster, hack Mozilla to make it better, hack the setup tools to make them more featureful, or hack AbiWord so I can have collaboration tools that work with my Word-using publisher, they can still contribute something. In other words, another opportunity for something good to happen has opened up.

So, there's a small pocket list of things that might inspire a little optimism, bring hope to the hopeless, and generally remind anyone who needs it that things continue to move forward. To bring it back to the Mundie Affair just once more, I'm happy to note that a all these things got worked on, released, improved, and enhanced the whole time the orgy of MS bashing was going on. People working to make the Linux desktop a better place just kept on working, if they even stopped to look at all.

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