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Tag Archives: gnome

Pros: Clean interface, fast, renders pages well, a lot of cool features like user script support

Cons: Unstable (crashes randomly)

Score: 6/10

Summary: Great potential, but too unstable at the moment for regular use.

There are a ton of web browsers on Linux.  I’m starting to wonder if there are too many actually.  A few stick out in the crowd though.  Firefox (obviously), Epiphany, Opera, and Konqueror just to name a few.  One browser, called Midori (which means “green” in Japanese), might be included in this group in the future if development continues.

Midori is a GTK+ 2-based browser, that uses the WebKit (formerly KHTML) engine to display web pages.  This means two things.  One, Midori looks great on GNOME and XFCE.  It also means that Midori is fast—really fast.  Pages load quickly in Midori and usually render correctly.  The browser is written entirely in C, so the program itself is lightweight and quick.  It has support for user scripts (like Greasemonkey for Firefox) and styles (like Stylish for Firefox) too.

Midori Running on Xubuntu 9.04

You’re probably wondering, if Midori is so great, why did you rate it so low?  Well, Midori is the most unstable web browser I have ever seen.  For example, I went to Google in Midori and after that, I attempted to go to Engadget.  Immediately after I pressed Enter to go there, Midori crashed with no warning at all.  The worst part is, the crashes are random.  You cannot predict when they will happen.  Sadly, this makes the browser unusable at the moment.  The browser is in the early alpha stages though, so this should be expected.  The web site does say that these crashes are the fault of WebKit, not Midori, while the FAQ says that the issue could be caused by Glib 2.16 and says that an upgrade to 2.18 could fix some issues.

Overall, Midori is a great web browser, if you can overlook the crashes.  This will obviously be fixed in future releases, so it should be relatively stable in a while.  Right now, I would stay away, but it is definitely a project to keep an eye on.

You can find more information about Midori at http://www.twotoasts.de/index.php?/pages/midori_summary.html.

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I know this isn’t the MAME post I promised, but I felt that I should write about this first.  Network Manager, which comes with GNOME, does exactly what its name implies.  It manages networks…well…sometimes it does.  It crashes a lot and for no apparent reason.

That is why I decided to switch to Wicd.  Wicd does exactly what Network Manager does except it doesn’t crash and it doesn’t have any GNOME dependencies, so it runs great in all desktop environments.  Installation is simple.  Simply use apt-get or whatever your distro uses to manage packages to get it.  It should remove Network Manager and replace it with Wicd.  The rest is quite self-explanatory.  Try restarting if something doesn’t quite work and go into Wicd’s options to set it up.

Why Wicd isn’t included by default is beyond me.  Nearly everyone complains about NetworkManager.  The only benefit I see is that Network Manager can use 3g cards and that Wicd cannot as far as I know, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, if you are looking for an alternative to Network Manager, Wicd is for you.

While the commercial operating systems are looking more towards flashy GUI’s, we Linux users seem to be trying out lightweight window managers.  Openbox, IceWM, Fluxbox, and Enlightenment are just a few of these usually bare, but extremely fast user interfaces.  Why are so many switching you ask?  To tell you the truth, I don’t know myself.

I think that this trend toward lightweight desktops is kind of odd.  We have the processing power, so why wouldn’t we use it?  I like XFCE, but it is ugly compared to KDE and if my friends saw what XFCE looked like, their interest in Linux would decrease.  If we are to spread Linux, shouldn’t we show that it looks better and has more features?  Yes, speed is important, but with hardware at the level it is today, it isn’t much of an issue.  I mean, if something has enough power to run Windows Vista, then it definitely has enough power to run Linux with KDE 4, which is the heaviest of all Linux desktop environments as far as I know.  So why then, are we trying to make Linux look like Windows 95?

We shouldn’t compromise looks for speed.  It is fine to want a fast desktop, but who wants to use an ugly one?  What we, the Linux community, should do, is write a desktop environment in an extremely fast language like C, and make it look great.  That way we have the best of both worlds, speed and good looks.  While speed isn’t as important to me, with this desktop, Linux will at least be acceptable to all users.  Also, I guarantee that the first desktop environment to do this will be the most popular.

I’ve used GNOME for as long as I’ve been using Linux.  My first distro was Ubuntu 7.04 and I’ve only tried out other desktops for short periods of time.  This year however, I tried KDE 4 and found myself using it more and more.  I loved the user interface, especially the widgets.  Unlike GNOME, I felt that KDE really had a chance at looking better than Mac OS X.

GNOME is great.  It’s fast, stable, and it doesn’t look like it’s from 1998.  GNOME is still my favorite desktop environment.  The only issue is, it didn’t feel like it was going anywhere.  GNOME still looks like it did two years ago.  Yes, it’s a little slicker, but the base appearance is still the same.  On the other hand, KDE 4 is a complete redesign from KDE 3.5.

I really like how KDE looks and acts as a desktop environment.  It’s user friendly, fast, and functional.  I did have a little issue with the way fonts looked at first, but it turns out that I needed to turn on sub-pixel hinting.  Now, everything looks much better.  KDE also has another advantage.  Everything is integrated with the user interface.  When I download a file using Konqueror, the notification system pops up from the taskbar, showing the progress of my downloads.  This and other little things make KDE feel complete.

KDE with Twitter Client and Notepad

The desktop effects really make KDE shine too.  While I do think that Compiz Fusion has better effects, KWin is really close in comparison.  It’s just one more thing that improves the user interface.  The window borders look clean, as does the taskbar.  KDE is way ahead of GNOME in appearance in my opinion.

The KDE applications are good.  GNOME does have a little advantage here, but if you don’t include Firefox or Pidgin, they match up very well.  Konqueror is much better than Epiphany, but Firefox is much better than both.  So much better in fact, that I’m using it instead.  Amarok used to be the best audio player, but the new interface is not that great.  According to various sources though, this will be fixed in future releases.  KDE’s Twitter widget is awesome and is my favorite application included with KDE.

Not much is wrong with KDE in my opinion.  The font issue I had was probably my fault and I experienced no other bugs.  KDE is slower than GNOME.  There is no argument about that.  GNOME has the speedy interface down.  But, if you want something different, KDE is not a bad option.  It’s not as good as GNOME for me, but I’m using it because there is something about it I like.  It just “feels” right to me.  So, if you hate KDE, that’s fine, but don’t judge a book by its cover.  If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl.  You might like what you see.

GNOME Do Logo

GNOME Do is my favorite application.  Basically, it is an application launcher, but with the appropriate plug-ins, it becomes much more.  After using it for a day, you will wonder what you ever did without it.  Seriously, this application is better than anything you have ever used before.  The sad thing is, since it eventually becomes essential to your work flow, especially on a laptop, you really forget how amazing it is.

Installing GNOME Do is extremely simple.  In Ubuntu and Debian, just do sudo apt-get gnome-do gnome-do-plugins.  After installing it, go to the Applications menu and then the Accessories menu.  Click GNOME Do and now it is running.  To use it, press Win+Space, then type in the name of the application you want to use, and press Enter.  The application will load normally, just as if you had clicked the icon.

To get unleash the true power of GNOME Do, you have to enable some plug-ins.  To do this, press the Win+Space combination and instead of typing, select the little down arrow in the top-right corner and click Preferences. A window should pop up, giving you access to the options.  This is where you make GNOME Do work for you.

GNOME Do Menu

Before enabling plug-ins, first go to the General tab.  Now, make sure you select Start GNOME Do at login, as well as Hide window at first launch.  I recommend that you also go over to the Appearance tab and chose a theme you like.  If you want a dock like AWN Dock, as well as a launcher, make sure you select the Docky theme.  After you’re done, it’s time for plug-ins.

Since there are so many, I’m not going to list them all, but I will tell you my favorites.  First off, the Banshee plug-in is essential if you use Banshee for music.  Basically you control Banshee from GNOME Do, which is simple, but becomes such a time saver.  No more Alt-Tab or clicking, just use GNOME Do.  Another great plug-in is GNOME Session Management.  This allows you to Suspend, Hibernate, Shutdown, Restart, or Log Out in five seconds with a text command.  Files and Folders, which allows you to open and find files and folders, is another great one.

GNOME DO Plugins Menu

Overall, GNOME Do is one of, if not the, most versatile applications on the Linux desktop.  It can do everything you could possibly want and more.  Once it is configured, nothing comes close to it on any platform.  The only application that can even compare is the Mac app Quicksilver.  If you haven’t tried GNOME Do, you don’t know what you are missing.

As sort of a follow-up on a yesterday’s post about setting up a music server, I thought I would go over some music management applications for Linux.  Now, almost everyone who runs a GNOME desktop has Rhythmbox installed, while every KDE user has Amarok.  Rhythmbox, in my opinion, doesn’t even come close to Amarok.  Amarok is nearly perfect and is considered to be the best music management application by many users on both KDE and GNOME.  Yes, Rhythmbox does work fine and it is a native GTK application, but Amarok is much better, even on GNOME.

My favorite music management application is a Novell project called Banshee.  Banshee is fast, stable, and feature rich, making it an awesome music player for those using GNOME.  KDE users should probably stick with Amarok.  Banshee plays just about any music format using the GStreamer libraries, but I recommend either Ogg Vorbis or FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files.  The interface is very clean and functional.  Nothing is over-complicated or odd to use.

bansheescreen

Banshee’s feature list is impressive.  It has the ability to rip CDs into either Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Waveform PCM, or Wavpack,  it has track bookmaking (the ability to remember where a track left off), cover art, iPod support, podcast management, and more.  Basically, everything you can do in other media applications can be done in Banshee.  There’s even a plug-in for GNOME Do that allows you to control it using text commands.

I do have to give another shout out to Sockso though.  While it is a personal music server, it technically does music management.  You can make playlists, search its database, and it is all done in the same interface  Sockso is amazing and absolutely has the potential to become extremely successful.  So, if you have a free server and you want to use the web to manage your music, Sockso is the way to go.

With music becoming an essential part of our lives, projects like Sockso will take off.  They are the future of music.  Do you know how much cheaper an Mp3 player would be if it only had a network card and just enough memory for the operating system and cache?  Trust me, everyone could get one for almost nothing.  Until then, we’re just going to have to deal with copying our music to every music device and computer we have, using music managers.