Tags: gathering momentum, Mythbuntu, MythTV, xfce, xubuntu
I’m leading the Mythbuntu effort, and for our next alpha we are
switching over to Xfce for our base. We were previously doing an
openbox/feh/idesk method, but Xfce is much prettier.
So in our migration over, there were a few items that I wanted to iron
out the proper way to do things.
This is great news, not only for Mythbuntu users (which now get to enjoy the finesse of Xfce), but also for Xubuntu because, as Jani Monoses put it:
it’s nice to see getting more users, testers and devs for
xubuntu even if indirectly 🙂
Mythbuntu seems to be a good citizen, which means Xubuntu will be even more polished:
The Mythbuntu team works closely with all of the relevant package maintainers in Ubuntu to make sure that our changes, customizations, and enhancements are included within Ubuntu for other users, teams, and projects to take advantage of. Also, all scripts used for our build process are GPL licensed and available to anyone interested on our launchpad bzr branch at https://code.launchpad.net/~ mythbuntu/mythbuntu/mythbuntu
What is Mythbuntu you ask? Well, according to their website:
Mythbuntu is an Ubuntu derivative focused upon setting up a standalone MythTV system similar to Knoppmyth or Mythdora. At the time, it is not a Canonical sanctioned project because of the licensing on several of the MythTV dependencies. Mainly, it can be seen as a preconfigured Ubuntu install for mythtv usage. All unnecessary applications such as OpenOffice, Evolution, and a full Gnome desktop are not installed for a Mythbuntu installation. At any time, a user may choose to install ubuntu-desktop, kubuntu-desktop, or xubuntu-desktop and add a full desktop onto their installation.
MythTV is a Linux application that turns a computer with the necessary hardware into a digital video recorder, a digital multimedia home entertainment system, or Home Theater Personal Computer. MythTV is free software licensed under the GPL. It can be considered as an alternative to Windows Media Center, although MythTV predates Windows Media Center.
Congrats Mythbuntu community, and welcome to the team!
As of yesterday, xubuntu.info has a new owner. And guess what: it’s another blog! 🙂
Of course, here’s the catch: it’s Italian. If there are any Italian readers here, be sure to check it out.
Over the past week I helped my sister switch over from Ubuntu to Xubuntu. (Maybe I was a little biased about Xubuntu as she was making the switch, but c’mon…I write a blog about it, I might as well be! :P)
She had reasons for doing so: she wanted something faster, preferred Thunar over Nautilus, and just wanted it looking nicer.
Point by point, here’s what impressed her the most:
1) It’s simple.
Q: How do I run Thunar to open my home folder?
Q: What’s the command for the terminal?
Now that’s semantic! Things in Xfce are logical, simple, and obvious (Or, as she put it, “I type in what I want and I get it”).
I’ve already covered some of this, but she prefers Thunar over Nautilus for two main reasons:
a) You can easily switch the address bar from pathbar to toolbar style. I like to type. For me (and my sister) it’s quicker to type than to click through each and every folder. And it also has a similar feel to the terminal: it even has auto-complete.
b) Restore from trash. I find it hard to believe that Nautilus still doesn’t have this. As my sister put it, “now I don’t have to constantly remember where to reput my files.”
So really, it doesn’t matter if one file manager has network support or support for backgrounds. In the end, people just want the basics.
3) It just looks nice.
She REALLY likes the compositor in xfwm4. (I previously had her set up with Compiz-Fusion, but all the wobbling windows bothered her.) So now her computer has nice, stable shadow and transparency effects. She especially likes being able to see through the windows.
It’s also surprising to see how good the desktop can look using just the default icons and themes. As my blog partner Vincent put it:
Yesterday I returned back home from holiday. In my holiday, I have not touched a decent bike for quite a few weeks. True, I’ve used a mountain bike, but the saddle was very hard and the big tires cause you to cycle slowly while still using a lot of force. The result was that when I used my own, decent bicycle this morning, it was a very pleasant feeling.
Now what does this have to do with Xubuntu? Well, my holiday also meant: two weeks without touching a computer, two weeks without seeing the slightest bit of Xubuntu. So when I then turned on my computer, I realized, once again, how pretty Xubuntu is. And it was a pleasant ride 😀
She likes docks. Not necessarily a Mac-like dock, but just a row of icons to click on. Because see, she doesn’t like digging through menus. She likes icons. (See folks, when I had mentioned that in my joke topic at Ubuntu Forums, I was only half-kidding!)
I tried setting her up with cairo-dock, but that just confused her. You see, in the newest version you have to add launchers from /usr/share/app-install, and neither me or my sister’s system have anything in /usr/share/app-install. Then something screwed up her workspaces (which she doesn’t even use) and turned her entire background grey.
Needless to say, I got her off of that and set her up with a size-48 panel with her icons, the trash applet, and a weather report. She has it on the left side of her screen, which I don’t understand but, it’s her system.
So, now she has a system that does exactly what she wants and how she wants it…with Xfce.
If you’re an Ubuntu user who’s interested in Xubuntu…why not give it a whirl? If you’d like, just open up a terminal and run
sudo aptitude install xubuntu-desktop (or, if you’re a point-and-click kind of person like my sister, you can do it from Synaptic or Adept, depending on your system.)
If it still doesn’t satisfy, just use
sudo aptitude remove xubuntu-desktop to take it off. If it does, however, you can take it one step further and follow aysiu’s guide on having a system with only Xfce (this is what my sister did, albeit without removing OpenOffice).
Nothing’s stopping you…it’s free. 🙂
DesktopLinux.com published the results of their yearly enquiry on Linux on the desktop. (Admittedly, I’m a bit late, but I was on holiday.) There were some remarkable things among the results – de enquiry was taken by twice as much people compared to last year, SUSE grown a lot, Fedora shrunk a lot – but according to me, most remarkable were the results concern the use of desktop environments. And then I don’t even mean the fact that Gnome – for the first time – was ahead of KDE.
No, what struck me most was, obviously, that Xfce was users by 8 percent of those who filled in the enquiry. Now, nobody will deny that, since version 4.4 was released, the number of users of Xfce grew, but 8 percent is a number to take into account (almost one in ten!). And when you then realize that 20% (one out of five!) uses neither Gnome nor KDE, it doesn’t seem too weird to wonder whether there is room for another, third big desktop environment. Heck, it’s already remarkable Xfce isn’t mentioned among “Others”!
Of course, as Xfce added more features its speed deteriorated a bit, and for some this will have been reason to switch to even lighter DE’s like Fluxbox or IceWM (can you even call those DE’s?). On the other hand, Xfce still is a lot faster than Gnome and KDE, and old computers of today are more powerful than old computers of a couple of years ago 😉 And the combination of features and speed (even on less old computers) is a very attractive one for some.
Of course, KDE’s new version, version 4, will attract many new users towards KDE, but I suspect that most of those people will come from the Gnome world (making KDE nr. 1 again). The difference between the two will decrease again, and if Xfce’s user base keeps growing, the three will be quite even indeed.
However, at the moment Xfce has far less developers as Gnome and KDE have, which can slow down growth quite a lot. That’s why, among Xubuntu’s developer, there is currently a discussion ongoing about whether Xubuntu should ship with more Gnome software. The reason for this is that, currently, Xubuntu ships with a few programs of less quality, with Xfburn, the CD-burning software, being the worst of all. In fact: if no alternative software can be found, probably no burning software will be shipped at all! Shipping Gnome software would raise Xubuntu’s quality feature-wise, and also brings the certainty that they are still in development and will continue to improve.
Unfortunately, there are also a few downsides to shipping Gnome applications. Some people are afraid that Xubuntu’s identify will be lost, that Xubuntu will just become “Ubuntu with another desktop environment”. Others fear that Xubuntu’s speed will deteriorate enormously.
Altogether, it comes down to the question of what is more important: speed or features? And this raises the question on Xubuntu’s target. For example, Ubuntu aims at being user-friendly, Edubuntu on use in classrooms, etc. Do we want a lightning-fast distribution, or a distro with a good balance between user-friendlyness and customizability? A question that should not be answered by the developers, but by the users of Xubuntu. You.