Getting sick of walled gardens, locked bootloaders and over-managed app stores? (We're looking at you, Amazon.) We've got some good news. A few weeks back we shined a spotlight on the Spark tablet, a Linux-based open source tablet being cobbled together by KDE developer Aaron Seigo. Yesterday, it went up for preorder. Time to whip out those credit cards, Linux lovers! Oh, wait, never mind -- the site doesn't force you to whip out the plastic to land a spot in line for a Spark.
Tablets are nifty, but for the most part, they're built to be walled gardens; Apple is notorious for its heavy-handed curation, Microsoft plans on keeping Windows 8's Metro-style apps close to the chest, and the hot-selling Kindle Fire is a deeply tweaked and thoroughly managed variant of Android. One Linux developer hopes to make things more customizable with Spark, a Mer/KDE Plasma Active-powered tablet that's fully unlocked and open for tinkering.
Looking for some hot new O.S. action but skeptical of the volcabularific new HUD interface being introduced to Ubuntu? That's the open-sourced beauty of Linux -- there are plenty of flavors available for the picky types out there. And now there's a new one, or rather, a new update of an old hand. KDE 4.8 has hit the Web, complete with a host of fresh features and abilities.
The Plasma Workspace, an alternative to the Plasma Desktop, is “specifically designed for ergonomic use on netbooks and smaller notebooks.” It allows better use of the smaller space available on netbooks, and will be more suitable for touchscreen input. The Plasma Netbook shell has a full-screen application launcher, search interface, and a Newspaper for widgets to display content from the web and small utilities.
There’s also a Social Desktop feature which updates the Community widget. Says KDE: “The new Social News widget shows a livestream of what is going on in the social network of the user and the new Knowledge Base widget allows users to search for answers and questions from different providers including openDesktop.org's own knowledge base.”
A goodly list of other improvements will be found at KDE's web site, along with links for downloading the new version.
The recent release of Stardock's Fences tool (version 1.0) got me thinking about desktop organization. While Fences is certainly neat--the program lets you divide your desktop real estate into individual sections, surrounded by "fences," amongst other space-saving features--this freeware app isn't the only game in town by far. In fact, some of you expressed disgust at Stardock's latest release. Be it the fact that one needs to install Stardock's Impulse client just to access Fences, or your simple dislike of an application whose functionality is mirrored by other freeware apps, Fences was hardly a shot hit out of the park.
So, here we are. After the jump, I'll show you five different alternative desktop managers that will help you bring increased tidiness, prettier looks, and funer... er... more fun functionality to your typical workspace. Auto-arrange your icons one last time for nostalgia's sake, because I'm about to mix up your desktop crazy-style.
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.
Draw the line in the sand! It's the showdown the tech world has feared: Microsoft's upstart Windows 7 versus Linux. We've seen plenty of volleys back and forth from both camps over the past few days, thanks to the beta launch of the Windows 7 operating system. The new OS has a lot going for it--features that directly target the growing Linux base in the mobile PC market coupled with design elements that, honestly, look a lot like what we've seen in Linux desktop environments for some time now. But will that be enough to topple the best the open-source world has to offer? We dig deep into the arguments from both camps to find out whether Windows 7 is The Terminator... or John Conner.
openSUSE 11 officially premiered yesterday with more than 200 new features specific to openSUSE and a redesigned installer that makes openSUSE even easier to install (and if you've ever installed it before, it was pretty darn easy then).
If you're into bling (and who doesn't like a little bling), there is the 3-D desktop app Compiz Fusion and it is now default in openSUSE 11.0. It includes a number of Compiz plugins, as well as easier configuration with Simple CompizConfig Settings Manager (CCSM) and the more comprehensive CompizConfig Settings Manager that lets you do detailed configuration of your Compiz setup.