Thursday, January 24, 2008

Election Coverage 8.04

The primaries are over! The candidates have been been chosen. A little over two weeks ago, the final modules for Gnome were chosen and the pages for it were udated about a week ago. The good folks over at Ubuntu had their IRC meeting about what to really include in the default install for 8.04LTS. We know the results.

What's up with Gnome?

Obviously, Gnome 2.22 will see improvements of its own. An alphabetical listing of these changes follows:
  • The Deskbar applet will add full Evolution address book searching, downloadable plugins with an easy interface, and perfomance improvements.
  • The Dictionary will be able to use local files and Wikipedia.
  • Ekiga phone will supposedly add audio/video codec plugin and presence support, though these were also slated for Gnome 2.20, so I'm not too confident.
  • Evince, the PDF and more viewer, will get annotation support and have page transisitions for presentations.
  • Evolution will support tagging of messages and using Google calendars.
  • Metacity will be able to full screen over several screens and to support multiple pointers (multi-touch).
  • Screenshot will be able to choose an area of the desktop.
  • Seahorse completely deprecates Gnome-keyring-manager.
  • Tomboy will add automatic sync, tasks, and tagging.
  • Totem will have a MythTV plugin.
All the apps are gradually moving to gio/gvfs (which sports a fancy new multi-progress meter) and GTKPrint.

There are several new applications in Gnome:
  • Anjuta, a programmer's IDE, which won't be on the Ubuntu 8.04LTS CD.
  • Cheese, a webcam application, which will be on there.
  • Vinagre is a VNC client which supports tabs and remembers your popoular connections.
  • GtkGLExt adds OpenGL support into GTK.

How does this play out for Ubuntu 8.04LTS?

Remove GThumb from future releases, though upgraders won't see any difference. F-Spot will take its place, with Eye of Gnome being the default viewer.

Most of the IRC discussion revolved around Serpentine vs. Nautilus CD Creator vs. Brasero. It was noted that Nautilus CD Creator does just about everything a normal user needs and works on a file-based method, but that new users will probably expect a Nero-type interface. Brasero was chosen to be included by default, though Nautilus will still handle the simpler CD-writing tasks. Serpentine is out.

The Transmission Bittorrent client will become the default client for 8.04

Change Vinagre for VNC remote desktop

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crave TV: Toshiba Spurs Engine puts PS3 Cell chip in a laptop - Technology Videos from Crave at

What do you want to bet Linux will be running on this thing within a week after it's released?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Laptop-specific Packages

I recently wrote a blog about eeeXubuntu and what a great idea it was. I mentioned laptop-specific distros as being a wonderful thing for laptop owners. See The upkeep on these is huge, though, and it would be easier to just have a package.


There is one "best" setup for a given laptop model, which includes
  • Extra packages from the repositories, including multiverse;
  • Configuration files; and
  • Non-free elements, especially Windows wireless drivers using ndiswrapper
This "best" setup is scriptable.

We can use a package with package dependencies, containing the required conf files, using post-install scripts to install proprietary wireless drivers.

These packages can be created using a web form and a script, then added to a launchpad PPA.

Some of these packages would work for both i386 and AMD64, while some packages would require an architecture.

Configuring a laptop should then be as easy as installing the package. Long term, we can look at doing this automatically from the Ubiquity installer.

What packages might need to be added for laptops?
  • ndiswrapper
  • custom kernels like in the linked Averatec example?
  • 915resolution or other Xorg-related packages
  • card reader drivers (using module-assistant?)
  • modem drivers (again, using module-assistant?)
  • irda-related stuff for remotes

What files typically get modified?
  • hotkey configuration
  • suspend/hibernate/other power management configuration
  • keyboard layout
  • touch pad? Is this completely covered by xorg.conf?
  • card readers
  • irda config
  • other, special-function keys like multimedia or "E-mail"

What is the process for scripting Windows driver installation?
  • Automatic download?
  • What if the page has an EULA?

Mock-up of a webpage for user upload (after laptop has been configured) in order to create a package:

Common activities such as using ndiswrapper could be scripted with just entry for the Windows driver location, etc.

We can use the following pages as a starting point:

I guess that's pretty much the idea. I need feedback and criticism.
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