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GNOME Configuration Made Easy
November 6, 2000
Hello, and welcome to LinuxPlanet's look into the GNOME world. Once a week, I'll cover a detail or two about getting the most out of GNOME and take a look at the newest GNOME software.
This week we'll get up to speed on how to get GNOME, along with a basic configuration trick that makes GNOME's panels a little less obtrusive, provides a handy way to save desktop space, and unclutters your panels of all those app icons so you can save space for pagers and task lists.
There are two ways to get GNOME: the GNOME project way, and the Helix Code way, and for most uses, the latter is the way to go. For users of one of the following distributions, Helix Code has a binary release of GNOME for you:
You can pay a visit to the Helix Code download page and select your distribution. The primary way Helix Code gets GNOME onto your machine is via a graphical installer program you launch from the command line. The site provides the instructions you need to get the installer running.
Users of a distribution based on Debian's packaging system can also just add the following line to the /etc/apt/sources.list file:
deb http://spidermonkey.helixcode.com/distributions/debian unstable main
After adding that line, run the following commands as root:
apt-get install task-helix-gnome
If you aren't using a supported distribution, or you want to build GNOME from the ground up, a visit to the GNOME download page, provides information on how to get GNOME from the stable and unstable source trees, or CVS.
What's in a Version?
If you're wondering about the differences between Helix GNOME and plain old GNOME, it breaks down to a few simple issues:
Helix Code aims to take some of the roughness out of tracking an open source project by providing binary packages tested for integration into their GNOME distribution. They've made a few things easier to get at (like a generous collection of themes) by packaging them up, and their installer adds a level of order to the confusion many feel when considering which of the 80+ packages that comprise the GNOME environment to download.
The most notable difference in the desktop itself is that they've also included a menu panel at the top of the screen that provides easy access to menus, configuration commands, and (by clicking on the clock) the GNOME calendar.
They've also provided an updater program that makes keeping current simple. Running the updater brings up a list of packages changed or added to the Helix GNOME distribution, which it will download and install for you. The updater also allows access to the preview releases of Evolution, the GNOME mailer.
Unless you just like building from source, it pays to follow the GNOME project's lead and just go with the Helix Code version of the GNOME environment. I've seen it in action on Debian, Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, and Caldera, and it's a painless installation process that provides a stable, comprehensive desktop.