Wait! Which environments provide a GUI configuration for all of the tweakable desktop elements like title font, window border, button shape, size and/or placement?
I can think of 2 that allow such fine-grained control in a GUI:
I prefer Gnome for all its "bloat" and "size." Again: Why is this? On a modest system (Intel Celeron 2,2GHz, GeForce 8400 GS, single 21" display via DVI and 2GBs of RAM running the latest Arch Linux 64-bit version), I can enable the built-in compositing in Metacity without noticeable impact to my desktop performance. 3D performance drops dramatically, but I turn off the compositing if I really need 3D performance, like when playing games or playing games.
Gnome is very configurable, however. Like with other DE/WM combinations, you'll have to get "under the hood" and "get your hands dirty." This means that a few config files have to be tweaked, you WILL need a command prompt and the changes may not be permanent. It's Linux, not OS X or Windows.
I've modified the default icon theme, changed the background of the panel and other tweaks that make my desktop:
- Unique (Like every other alternative-OS-running-mofo's desktop. Is that ironic?)
- Personal (That's what PC meant originally, right? No reason it should mean anything else now.)
- Functional (By adding this myself, I can be more productive. Can be, but I'm not)
I like the customization freedom I have with Gnome. Is it as easy as in other DE/WM combinations? No, not really? Do I care? Nope. Not enough to remedy the situation.
Arch Linux defines simplicity as 'without unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications', and provides a lightweight
UNIX-like base structure that allows an individual user to shape the system according to their own needs. In short; an elegant, minimalist approach.
What this means to me is that my ArchLinux installation will be radically different from another ArchLinux user's installation. This highlights the versatility of a Linux system. This is one of the key reasons I prefer Linux and specifically distributions that give me real freedom: the freedom to run the software I'd like to run. Nothing more, nothing less.
Another reason that I believe ArchLinux maintains the spirit of Linux is their adherence to Code Correctness over Convenience. This is the notion that upstream developers (those that actually write the software) should correct their code rather than the have the distribution apply patches (Gentoo, Ubuntu. That means you). If the distribution patches the code that you're writing, the experience you're having with your computer is going to be specific to that distribution. While this can be a benefit for many, I believe that by allowing upstream developers to maintain their software, anyone running ANY distribution of Linux can experience the same thing. This is one way that Linux can have a consistent look and feel.
I only claim to have experience with the distributions that I've run. I define "run" as: Used as my primary desktop distribution for a period consisting of greater than six months. This rules out distributions I tried but left for some reason. Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE (and OpenSuSE) fall into this category. I have tried each of them, but I always fell back to Debian, Gentoo, or most recently, ArchLinux.
During that time, I have read the arguments (flamewars and not-so-flaming-wars) about which Operating System or distribution is "the best." I would argue that there is no such thing. There is what was best for you and your needs. Then, there's best for someone else's needs. I don't care if you run Mac OS X, Windows or Linux. If what you run helps you get what you want out of your computer, then stick with it.
I no longer evangelize about Linux with the same fervor that I once did. My passion has been tempered by experience. My only preaching now consists of sharing my firsthand experiences with free software and alternative operating systems.
In fact, I am going to delve into Ubuntu one more time, having downloaded the latest beta release of the distribution and installing the live image to my USB thumb drive. This will allow me to try it out with installing over my current installed base.
I am OS agnostic in the sense that I don't give a rat's ass what you run. If it works for you, wonderful. But don't try to convince me that it's the best.
Twitter has been growing exponentially since its launch in March of 2006. Twitter has even found its way into the news and reached new audiences. This is all well and good for Twitter, but my experience with the service was less than optimal.
A little history: I resisted the insistent pull of Twitter until 2007, arguing that I didn't have any need to let people know I was taking a shit or going to the adult video store. A close friend convinced me that it just wasn't like that and I should give it a try. So I relented and created an account.
I am a huge fan of XMPP and services that utilize that technology. Twitter had marvelous support for XMPP which meant I could receive and post tweets via my favorite instant messaging client. I could even track topics so that if anyone posted something related, I would see it.
A mere two months into enjoying Twitter (and I was enjoying the ego rush), and the XMPP interface began to suffer. Checking status updates were throttled, the track feature was disabled and updates didn't come through as they were posted. It was about this time that I started looking for other social status sites and discovered identi.ca.
Identi.ca launched in July of 2008 as an alternative to Twitter and other social status networks like Plurk and Jaiku. Some of the key differences: the code that drives the site, Laconica is open source under the GNU Affero General Public License; the Laconica servers are federated so that subscribers do not need to be on the same site; built-in support for tags and groups, a rapidly evolving platform based on user feedback and developer drive.
That's all well and good, but how is using identi.ca more enjoyable than Twitter? As I "dented" (a term I wish would go away) here, conversations happen where Twitter seems to be much more focused on marketing, both for the service itself and for the celebrities that have flocked to it.
Here is one example of just such a conversation:
Another feature that makes identi.ca a real joy is the group feature. Similar to the track feature of Twitter, groups allow users with similar interests to send notices to an entire group. Its implementation couldn't be any simpler. Preface a term with a ! and it posts to that group. If the group doesn't exist, you're given an option to create it. This can lead to abuse however when !someone !overuses !the !group option in a notice.
Identi.ca also supports hashtags. Begin a word with # and it becomes a hashtag, a term that can help identify the content of a notice. For example: How do I get my !n810 to make #free phone calls? In this context, !n810 will send the notice to everyone in that group and the notice itself gets tagged with 'free' and 'n810'. Group notifiers double as hashtags.
All of these features plus the geeky group at identi.ca make for a much more pleasant experience for me and lower the signal-to-noise ratio of my internet experience.
A good post about the inherent problems with URL shortening services: On URL Shorteners.
Every once in a while, I make abstract wallpapers. Here's one of them:
I suppose if you have next-gen hardware, you can experience that next-gen desktop. I know that my now four-year old desktop hardware couldn't handle half of what KDE 4.1 wanted to deliver. Thus the reason I'm back to using the beautifully lightweight XFCE. If KDE 4.2 runs like KDE 3.5.9 did on my hardware, I'd consider switching back to KDE.
There's a new search engine out there - cuil, an old Irish word for knowledge. According to their press, they've reinvented search based on the philosophy that users are what drive search, not the content providers. As anyone who uses google on a regular basis can confirm, google's top hits are often the most popular, not necessarily the most informative.
Their "categories" don't seem to correlate with your search. Simple keywords return 0 results or irrelevant results. Phrases return unrelated results or the result you're looking for is 5 pages down.
The weekend is over and the glow is starting to fade as I come back to work and resume the daily grind. LugRadio Live USA 2008 was a blast and I look forward to another one next year.
I have some photos from the event and some things to share. There were a lot of great exhibitors with innovative, open ideas.
I'll post more later when I get the chance...and I have the photos.
Many moons ago, when the Internet was new and filled with joy, before the overwhelming red tide of e-commerce and online advertising reduced it to a cheap, tattooed whore, I found an HTML editor that I liked a lot, "Arachnophilia (HTML editor)":http://vps.arachnoid.com/arachnophilia/index.html. The license for the software was unique, "CareWare (Just Care)":http://vps.arachnoid.com/careware/index.html. The author asked only that you care for an hour, a day, a week.
bq. So here is my deal: stop whining for an hour, a day, a week, your choice
I'm sure that seems like way too much to ask. Hell, I'm not even sure I can stop for that long.
I found this intriguing enough to browse the rest of the site and come across a couple of real gems that I think everyone should read. The first is "How we confuse symbols and things":http://vps.arachnoid.com/lutusp/symbols.html. This article explains how many of us lack the ability to distinguish between a symbol and the thing for which that symbol stands. The second, "Consumer Angst (a personal fave)":http://vps.arachnoid.com/lutusp/consumerangst.html, explains much better than I can ever hope to, the evils of advertising.
Just came acoss these bookmarks again and decided to share.
Many eons ago, I was introduced to a wonderful piece of landscape software, Bryce 3. I used it to create fantasy landscapes with rivers that flowed down mountains (even though they had no source) and strange objects with stranger textures.
That was until I ran across a tutorial online on making abstract art with Bryce. Since that time, I've rarely used it for its original purpose: creating artificial landscapes.
So, recently I purchased Bryce from "Daz3D":http://www.daz3d.com and began making more abstract wallpapers for my MacBook.
Here's just a few of my recent ones:
and my current backdrop:
Enjoy 'em! If you like them, let me know. If you don't like them, let me know.