The days of ugly Linux desktops are a thing of the past. Modern distros include many tools and options that enable them to look good and be more useful.
Unlike Windows, Linux has several different widget toolkits. The most well-known widget engines are GTK+, (distributed with GNOME) and QT. (pronounced “cute”) Widgets are the various elements which make up a program's GUI: scrollbars, arrows, checkboxes, etc. However, take note that QT or GTK widgets are not the same thing as desktop widgets.
Widgets and other things like window chrome (the toolbars, panels, etc. of a programs interface) and window decoration (the window's title bar, minimize/maximize/close buttons, and the window border) are the various elements that, when joined together, create a theme for QT or GTK. It is possible to modify the various themes in Linux to change how they look or even create your own. This article will address the various resources that are out there to help make your desktop look its best and help you get the most out of it.
This partnership is a huge shot in the arm for Intel - which has been waiting for its chance to gain real traction in the mobile phone market - as it has found a huge customer for its mobile chipsets in the form of Nokia. Intel has also agreed to acquire a Nokia HSPA/3G modem IP license from Nokia. On the software front, they have resolved to give a push to open-source mobile Linux software projects.
If you've been following my articles as of late, you'll notice that I've been exploring (obsessing over) the world of Windows-based package managers. It's an interesting concept that the Linux world gets to enjoy to great success--the ability to download and install applications via a single program, much like how you would grab a song on iTunes or an application off its App Store.
In last week's Murphy's Law, I postulated that this exact combination of one-button glam plus a functional, community-driven application repository would be a surefire way to increase open-source awareness amongst average computer users. That, and it would offer power users a better way to grab, install, and manage large bundles of applications on any number of individual or networked PCs.
A number of you seemed to agree. That's great. But as we all saw in this week's freeware roundup, the state of the package manager market for the Windows operating system is tragic at best. It's difficult, if not impossible, to find a working package manager that fulfills the three main criteria for usefulness: updated applications, minimal downloading errors, and a halfway-decent GUI.
What's the holdup in Windows Package Manager development? Are they really that tricky to create and maintain? And why should users ultimately care about these kinds of applications? To get the answers to these tough questions, I turned to BennyP--creator and sole maintainer of the WinPackMan package manager application. He's currently caught up in bringing this once-popular piece of software back from the dead, making him an ideal candidate for learning more about what's going on in the trenches of third-party Windows package manager development.
If you're ready to discover the dark secrets that separate Linux and Windows package managers... click the jump!
The iPhone has its App Store. Linux has its application repositories. Gamers have their Steam. So why, then, does the open-source world not have a centralized database for standardizing the deployment of applications across a common software delivery system?
I can see your answer now? "That's crazy!" Elaborating, you'd probably suggest that half of the joy of open source comes from the individual development that people (or groups of people) pour into a piece of software. In short, you probably think they should be free to distribute it as they see fit: via SourceForge, on their Web sites, burned onto a disc and cast into the sea, whatever.
But think about it--just think about it--for a moment. A single, downloadable application that could grant you access to a SourceForge-like list of open source applications grouped by categories, themes, alphabet letters-anything you want! It sounds like a far-off dream, perhaps the whimsical musings of a columnist looking to write something for the week. But I'm not the only one who considers a single-front application "store" for the open-source world as a real, future possibility. No, I've got Novell on my side too.
Click the jump and, whatever you do, don't steal my idea!
Troubleshooting has always been one of the most frustrating aspects of computer ownership. Due to the practically infinite number of potential problems, it would be utterly impossible to write a how-to guide to fix all of them, but in this article we are going to address some of the most common problems and then present more generalized guidelines that will help you troubleshoot your own problems in an emergency.
As if Microsoft didn’t have enough on its plate in advance of the October 22 launch date for its latest operating system, Windows 7, an old, familiar friend is entering the fray. Like a second player that adds a quarter and interrupts your progression in an arcade fighting game, Google is bringing its open-source Android operating system out of the handheld market and into the PC world.
Acer netbooks are the target for Android’s first foray beyond the mobile market. The company has announced that it will begin offering both Microsoft-based operating systems and Google’s Android platform for a majority of its netbooks—or “mini-notebooks,” as Microsoft now prefers to call them. Acer’s latest Aspire One netbook will be the first of its kind to offer Android as an alternative platform, and you’ll be able to pick one up in the third quarter of this year.
The move is a boon for the open-source world… sort-of. For Android is as open as it is Linux, which is to say that it might be based on the Linux kernel, but it’s not a Linux operating system. Similarly, although Android comes close to fulfilling the philosophy and licensing requirements to deem it a full, open-source product, a few qualifiers exist that give cause for concern. Together, these two issues combine to create a troubled picture for Android’s future outside of the mobile market.
So you’ve installed that shiny Ubuntu distro onto your PlayStation 3 and finagled a couple of cool applications to boot. And yet, there’s still a lot of empty real estate on that newly formatted hard drive, and you’re no doubt pondering what else you can load up on your now living room-friendly PC. Turns out, there are literally thousands of options available; but the task of sorting through the seemingly endless lists and testing each and every app to see if it suits your tastes and jives with the PS3 can be a daunting task. But luckily for you, we’ve done exactly that; we rolled up our sleeves, burned the midnight oil, and muscled the necessary digital elbow grease to whittle down the Ubuntu archives to the top nine absolute keepers. So what are you waiting for? Plug in your PS3’s keyboard and mouse, fire up Jaunty Jackalope, and read onward to get cracking.
Yes, there is more to Linux than Ubuntu. As you are probably aware, there are many different types of Linux to choose from, even though not all get the attention they deserve. These are organized into separate distributions, (distros) and each one is different. If you've read our previous Beginner's Guide to Linux, you are already familiar with the advice we gave about choosing the right distro for your needs. This guide will shed more light on some of the more common distributions in use today and will cover the distinct advantages or disadvantages of each.
For the purpose of comparison, we personally tested each distro and critiqued it based on several distinct areas: appearance, ease of use, system administration, software/package management, security, and the level of support available for the distro. We graded each factor on a scale of zero to five: 0 – Abysmal or non-existent; 1– Very bad; 2 – Needs improvement; 3 – Average; 4 – Good; and 5 – Excellent. We hope that this guide will give you a better understanding of the current state of Linux, so you can make an informed decision about choosing the right Distro without just defaulting to Ubuntu (which we've included in this roundup)
I normally stay out of the Linux conversations because it's like placing oneself between two packs of rabid, fanboy wolves. Not that being enthusiastic about your operating system of choice is a bad thing. It's just a lot of flame for one meager columnist to handle.
That said, I couldn't help but notice a number of articles passing around the Web this week, praising Linux for pushing past the one-percent adoption rate for desktop operating systems. Huh? One percent? That's like throwing a ticker-tape parade for a one-year-old. I mean, kudos to Linux for making it this far and all, but I think that people are selectively focusing on the "concept" of the number a bit too much. Because when you dig a little bit deeper into the statistics, you'll find that Linux's big "Achievement Unlocked" isn't really that big of a deal at all.
The Windows desktop can do a lot of things. You can drag and drop your programs all across your display, then resize the windows--or have the operating system tile them for you--to maximize your multi-application productivity. If you're using Vista, you can call forth a cascading, three-dimensional display of your Windows and cycle through live displays of each until you're ready to select an active panel. You can create new toolbars and assign them to new edges of the screen. You can minimize everything at once to show you a clean desktop image.
The Windows desktop can do a lot of things. But you can't do everything. And that's why I've hunted down five freeware applications that give you just-that-much-more control over the programs, windows, and taskbars that clog up your PC's display. Split your desktop into individual regions for maximum display control, or take matters into your own hands and assign the customized height, width, and positining of every application you use.
That's just a slice of the Windows pie I'm ready to dish up. Fire up some programs, put on a bib, and let's chow down on some freeware.