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Ximian GNOME 1.4: The Monkey Has Landed: The Ximian Desktop Experience - page 5

What You Get With Ximian GNOME

  • May 3, 2001
  • By Michael Hall

It may seem like we didn't cover a lot of "stuff" in this review, and that's true. GNOME 1.4 itself was primarily an incremental upgrade designed to introduce new libraries into the project, with the notable exception of Nautilus, which we reviewed shortly after its release. As a result, users familiar with the GNOME we've had for nearly a year now as version 1.2 won't see any startling changes in their day-to-day experience outside Nautilus' inclusion. This isn't to downplay the infrastructural improvements that made Nautilus and, when it's released, Evolution possible.

On the other hand, Ximian has added some good features in its GNOME distribution: MonkeyTalk seems like a tool that will do a lot of newer end users a lot of good (provided Ximian keeps a lid on the sort of rambunctiousness that can turn up in online fora of whatever sort), and Red Carpet will, once the bugs are worked out, be an excellent tool for managing productivity-oriented workstations. We also think the addition of "Documents," "Desktop," and "Home" links in the file saving dialog is a very nice touch that makes GNOME on home and corporate desktops more appealing, as small a deal as it may seem.

As we reported in the first half of the review covering installation and basic configuration, the Ximian installer is very simple and easy-to-use, and the GNOME Doorman is great for both setting up a pleasant desktop look and familiarizing users with some of the ideas that are still entrenched in Linux desktop computing (such as the dichotomy between window manager and toolkit in terms of configuring their look and feel).

If we had to make a generalized complaint, though, it would be that there are some small nits we'd like to see ironed out, especially where issues of consistency are concerned. While we don't think the average Linux user is going to be particularly troubled by a lot of these smaller issues, we also acknowledge that, however incrementally, the "average Linux user" is creeping more and more toward the vast middle ground of computer users each day: the onus any desktop project has on it, especially one hoping to profit from migration to Linux desktops, is to provide a compelling set of reasons to make the migration at all. It's clear from Ximian GNOME, though, that the company is building the expertise it needs to provide definitive motivation to make that move, even if small bumps remain.

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