Posted tagged ‘desktop’

Back to Mandriva 2010.0 (and my soundcard again)

July 13, 2010

After working with Mandriva 2010.1 Beta 2  I’m back to 2010.0 .

The main problem was the proprietary nvidia driver which doesn’t work properly under 2010.1 with my GeForce 8600 GTS. Since I need 3D acceleration and am not planning to buy new hardware, I had to revert to 2010.0. Acceleration is much more important for me than msec improvements and all the other nice things in 2010.1. 2010.0 just works for me.

I’ve noticed that you get a slightly different system even when installing from the same CD. In Windows, you get different bugs with every reinstall, in Linux you sometimes get slightly different configurations (esp. in the case of authorisations). This time, I had a lucky install that even supports my weird soundcard and 5.1 out of the box!

Thoughts About Tagging & The Future of File Management

April 9, 2010

I must admit I haven’t been much of a tagger. But I must also admit that maintaining a structured folder tree requires time & effort, and becomes terribly messy when the user is lazy (like me!)

This great article made me think about tagging files and I realised that it’s a GREAT idea!!!

A simple example. Suppose I’m classifying my music library. If I organise it as a tree of folders and sub-folders, each level of the hierarchy will be a classification according to a single criterion. If my folder tree looks like this…
Genre -> Artist -> Album

… then I first classify my music into genres, then classify each genre into artists etc.

These categories are fairly rigid because I can’t assign an artist to several genres or an album to several artists. But sometimes I need to do it because an artist may release albums belonging to several genres or several artists may collaborate on one album. So I either have to make duplicates of songs to locate them in several categories or I have to remain with a music collection that isn’t very well organised.

Now let’s imagine I classify my files using tags. Of course, I would still create a more or less reasonable folder structure. But tags would allow me to create more flexible categorisations. If an artist releases a crossover album and then a pop album, I would just tag them this way and wouldn’t wonder whether I should put that artist into the Crossover or the Pop subfolder. Or if I can’t really identify the genre of a particular album (e. g. “hmm, is it epic metal or symphonic metal?”) I would just attach both tags.

Besides, I could add other, more personal tags to songs, like “makes me cry”, “aggressive”, “funny lyrics” etc. and be able to quickly see (and play) all the songs that make me cry, all the songs that I find aggressive, or all the songs that have funny lyrics. Without bothering to think “WTF, where on earth did I put this song???” Given the fact that most people use their home computer for storing and managing information they feel emotional about, that would make interaction with the computer more comfortable and personal.

I made this last generalisation because the idea expressed in The Grip, the Trip, and the Slip is about making ALL kinds of files taggable (?) and manageable with tags. And I really like the idea.

GNOME 3 is meant to feel good to both geeks and “normal” people. And most non-geek people (at least those I’ve asked) don’t think in terms of “finding a file and doing something with it”. They think in terms of “launching an application and opening a file with it”. So tagging would really make working with files much easier for such users.

Nevertheless, some people made a very good point that we shouldn’t discard traditional file management. First, many people have really got used to it and wouldn’t want to change it; second, there’s an excellent point that Horace made (in the comments): having all those tags would make switching to another OS problematic because the metadata would probably disappear or be unreadable by the other OS. My suggestion is that we could have two file management programs (a “tree viewer” and a “tag viewer“) or at least two modes in the file manager.

GNOME shell – a brief hands-on

March 28, 2010

This post deals with an older version of GNOME shell because, well, the most recent one didn’t compile. It kept telling me that my automake and sth else were outdated (in fact they are NOT).

I got a working version out of the Mandriva repository. It’s kinda outdated, though.

At first sight, I like the shell. It’s fast (though GNOME 2 loads app menus faster), quite stable and usable, and has cool visual effects. .

DESIGN

I guess that’s not very important (as it’s an early version of the shell) but anyway.

  • I hate reading white text on black. But I know that the shell is going to be themable (at least recolourable!).
  • The animations are quite smooth and inobrtusive (though I miss Compiz’s wobbly windows). I hope there’ll be a way to customise animations somehow, I mean turn particular ones on and off (like in Compiz).
  • The app menu (when you click on More in the app well or whatever you call it) is slightly transparent. It’s very nice.
  • The larger icons in the app menu are GREAT.
  • What I didn’t like is the “info” button next to every app in the menu. The app descriptions aren’t worth opening such a huge window.
  • The side panel is UGLY so far.

USABILITY

  • At first I was scared about what happens to an app when it is minimised. In fact, there’s nothing scary: minimised windows are re-maximised by choosing them in Alt+Tab.
  • I really liked the Alt+Tab view with huge icons and window previews.
  • I have a habit of putting my mouse pointer into the top left corner when I don’t need it (like reading text). And then I have the Activities view pop up. I wonder if it will be possible to change the hot corner (and move the Activities button around the panel).
  • I miss panel applets!!! on my GNOME 2 desktop, both panels are full of all sorts of applets and launchers. I find them very comfortable. I mean, can we haz panel applets in GNOME 3?
  • And can we haz the possibility to add more panels if we want to?
  • Does the Activities panel have to be on the left side? Will we be able to change its location in the final version of the shell? Will we be able to have a horizontal Activities (I’d prefer having it open at the top or bottom of the screen)?
  • I don’t understand why there’s the name of the open app on the panel. It occupies space and has no purpose. I mean, I know what app I’ve opened, don’t I?
  • The Recent Documents list is larger but that makes it very messy. I wish the user could add some categories to it depending on how many projects s/he has
  • Can we haz an (optional) window list on the panel? Maybe in a drawer or so? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.
  • I can’t see why this is simpler than GNOME 2 (which is very simple compared to KDE, especially KDE 4). Yes, it’s different and unusual in a nice way. But simpler?

STABILITY

  • The terminal window kept displaying error messages, but there were no experienceable (?) issues.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

  • My first impression was somewhat spoiled by my failure to compile it (I’m not a n00b, really!).
  • I liked the shell in general, but I don’t think I’ll use it on an everyday basis so far. GNOME 2 feels comfortable enough.