Category Archives: GNOME

Mandriva Linux 2010 GNOME – Solid and Sweet

I had a quick look at the Mandriva Linux 2010 GNOME edition and it turned out to be great. Having used Mandriva Linux 2009 and 2009

Desktop

Mandriva Linux 2010 - GNOME Desktop

Spring GNOME, I was certain that this release is going to be as solid as stable as it ever was. The GNOME edition provides one of the best, stable desktop experiences. If KDE stands for innovation and glittering eye candy, GNOME is all about stability. It just gets out of your way when you work. Of course, you can also get all the eye candy by enabling Compiz. There is also new artwork in Steel blue and Mandriva has introduced a new Steel theme for the window decoration to go with it.

Here is a quick look at the other stuff.

Software

The 2010 release comes with the following software and more.

  • GNOME 2.28
  • Firefox 3.5.3
  • OpenOffice.org 3.1.1
  • GIMP
  • Empathy Instant Messenger

Pidgin has been left out in favour of Empathy. I am still not so comfortable using Empathy. Other than this, there are no other surprises. Mandriva’s control center is still the one stop shop for admin needs.

One problem I faced is that I could not install any Adobe AIR apps. They seemed to be failing and I was not sure why. This happened on the KDE edition as well and so nothing specific to the GNOME edition.

Conclusion

After running Mandriva Linux 2010 GNOME for a couple of days, I could say, Mandriva Linux 2010 GNOME edition is as stable as its predecessors with newer versions of popular software and makes a great desktop experience.

Screenshots

As usual, here are a few screenshots.

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My experiment with dark themes

There are two things that I have never changed in my Mandriva installation. They are the GTK theme and the Metacity window decoration. Mandriva’s default GTK theme, in my opinion, is one of the best default themes on a Linux desktop. Recently, I wanted to test how some of the dark themes measured against it. I would like to mention that I have a strong dislike for darker themes and this is one of the reasons I want to use it and see if I can come out good after a week or so. So, I embarked upon an experiment to use a top dark GTK theme and see how things work out after a period of a week or two.

I downloaded the Shiki-Colors GTK and Metacity themes and installed them. Shiki colors is one of the top themes on gnome-look.org. I already use the GNOME-Colors icon theme which is one of the best icon themes around. After all the setup, my desktop looked something like this.

My Desktop

My Desktop

As far as the experience was concerned, I breezed through Day 1 – the day I changed everything. However, on Day 2, as my laptop booted, I was a bit surprised first and then realized I had changed everything the previous day. Guess I have not got used to the dark theme yet 😉 . Let me see how it turns out at the end of the week

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring – First Impressions

A few days back, Mandriva released the newest version of its operating system, Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring. As I had already taken a

Mandriva Logo

Mandriva Logo

look at the Release Candidate 2, I know pretty much what was in store. I wanted to setup this new release and get it running as quickly as possible even though the previous version Mandriva 2009 was working like a charm on my laptop. It was by far the most stable OS to have run on my laptop.

Live CD

I downloaded the Mandriva One GNOME Live CD. GNOME has been my default desktop for a few years now and that is what would eventually reside on my laptop. I also downloaded the Mandriva One KDE Live CD to see what changes have gone into KDE 4.2. The Live CD booted pretty fast. The speed bump was already visible in the RC and I was glad to see it stayed that way.

Installation

The installation took about 12 minutes on my laptop. This machine is a 2 year old, Dell Inspiron 6400, with an Intel Core 2 Duo clocking 1.73 GHz, 1 GB RAM and an Intel 945 GMA graphics chip and an Intel 3945 Wireless. I chose the new ext4 file system for the root and home partition. The post installation step of updating the media is where I met my first stumbling block. It seemed to take forever to download the media, but once I pulled my ethernet cable out, things proceeded smoothly. I had to update the media later.

Boot Time

I timed the boot with a stop watch. It took me 36 seconds from the grub menu to the desktop. I don’t have any complaints here. I can see that a lot of improvement has gone into the boot process and it really shows. I guess the ext4 file system would also have helped in this regard, though I have no means to measure it.

Desktop

There is no denying the fact that Mandriva has one of the best looking default themes around. I rarely changed the theme or the window

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring - Customized Desktop

Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring - Customized Desktop

decoration on Mandy. The only thing I change is the icon theme, since the default GNOME icon theme has become old and boring. Carrying on the tradition, the desktop was slick. The fonts were crisp and have been improved from what existed in the previous version. An idle desktop after boot, consumed about 285 MB of RAM. I also did not install AWN since the auto hide feature did not work well and ended up being intrusive at best. The Mandriva Control Center remains one of the best control centers on the Linux desktop and serves as a one stop shop for all configuration requirements.

Applications

Mandriva comes with kernel 2.6.29.1 and a regular array of software that comprises of the GNOME desktop. However, here are the specifics for a few of them

  • GNOME 2.26.1
  • OpenOffice.org – 3.0.1
  • Mozilla Firefox – 3.0.8
  • Pidgin – 2.5.5
  • The GIMP – 2.6

Flash is available in the One edition. However, Java runtime, audio and video codecs have to be installed as is the case with most distributions. Additional software is a always a couple of clicks away in the Install and Remove Software section.

The KDE Edition

I also had a quick look at the KDE edition. Last time around Mandriva’s KDE implementation was very polished compared to the rest. This

Mandriva Spring 2009 KDE Desktop

Mandriva Spring 2009 KDE Desktop

time too I would say the same. They have also put the desktop which everyone is used to – where one kept files too – back into KDE 4.2 in quite a clever way by using Folder View. The KDE desktop also uses the default Mandriva theme instead of the KDE default Oxygen theme. This edition comes with the regular KDE applications, Kontact, Konqueror, Kopete, Kwrite to name a few.

Conclusion

One of the biggest improvements in my opinion is, I never had to consult the Errata. Also, never once was I required to visit the terminal (command line) for any accomplishing any task whatsoever. Almost all the things work the way they should. The One CD image was only 633 MB for the Africa and Asia edition. The available CD space could have been packed with something useful. On the whole, Mandriva Spring 2009 is a solid release with a great blend of stability and polish.

Screenshots

Here are a few screenshots of Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring – GNOME

A quick look at Mandriva 2009.1 RC2

A few days ago, Mandriva released the RC2 version of Mandriva 2009.1. Release Candidates more or less contain the

Mandriva Logo

Mandriva Logo

final set of packages and I thought it was a good time to check what is contained in the new version which would eventually find its way to my laptop.

Mandriva 2009.1 RC2 can be downloaded from various mirrors listed in the wiki. I am a GNOME user and hence I downloaded the GNOME variant. I was also keen to see what the newer version of GNOME 2.26 offered.

First Impressions

The Live CD booted much faster than the previous versions. I did not time it but it was definitely faster. The boot

Mandriva Boot Screen

Mandriva Boot Screen

screen also revealed new artwork which I like better than the one in Mandriva 2009. Apart from the looks, the system was as stable as any other Mandriva release.

Software

  • Kernel: 2.6.29-desktop586-1mnb
  • GNOME 2.26.0
  • OpenOffice.org 3.0.1

In addition to the regular stuff like Firefox and Pidgin, Inkscape, Cheese and Kino are included by default.

Mandriva 2009.1 Desktop

Mandriva 2009.1 Desktop

Fixes

  • Printer config has been included in the Mandriva Control Center. It was a major oversight in the previous release and good to see that this has been fixed.

Misses

  • The Live CD, as if a tradition, does not shut down properly. This time the disc is ejected but the computer does not shut down.
  • Compiz Fusion did not work completely while using the Live CD. The window title bars were not visible but otherwise it looked ok.
  • Another major problem I noticed was Ctrl + Alt + Backspace did not restart X.

Evolution – Email Client

I was very keen to see how Evolution imported Microsoft Outlook PST files and it did a fairly good job. However, there was something odd about the way the imported emails were displayed. The mails were shown in plain text first and then as I scrolled down, the complete HTML version was available. I am not sure whether this is a bug or feature so I reserve comment.

The calendar items imported from the PST file were nicely placed in their respective time slots on the Evolution Calendar. They were still available as emails in one of the folder, the purpose of which I did not understand.

Neither of the above noted items are Mandriva’s fault, though.

Conclusion

Though there are a few glitches in the RC2, I hope Mandriva would fix those in time for the release and deliver a yet another solid release.

Disable beep during Shut Down/Restart on Mandriva 2009

My Mandriva One 2009 GNOME system gave out a rather annoying beep from the PC speaker whenever I clicked on Shut Down or Restart. The same behaviour was seen noticed when I press Backspace continuously in the Terminal while there was nothing to delete. Today I found out a solution for these problems.

Step 1: Disable alerts from Sound preferences dialog

Sound Preferences Dialog

Sound Preferences Dialog

1.1 Go to System > Preferences > Sound

1.2 Click on Sounds tab.

1.3 Uncheck both boxes titled “Play sound effects when buttons are clicked” and “Play alert sound“. After this, the dialog box would look something like this.

Step 2: Blacklist the PC Speaker

2.1 Open Terminal: Applications > Tools > Terminal

2.2 Login as root by typing “su –” and press enter. We add a “-” because we are going to launch a GUI app from the terminal.

2.3 Type the password and press enter

2.4 Type gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-compat and press enter. gedit would open the file

2.5 Go to the end of the file and add the following lines and save it.

# PC Speaker
blacklist pcspkr

The first line is a comment. Add whatever is appropriate so that it reminds why that entry has been made.

2.6 Reboot – The beep would be heard this time but would not be heard once the system restarts.

If there is a simpler way to do this, without fiddling with the config files, please leave a comment 🙂

Giving Intrepid Ibex a pass

Well, the delay I had in laying my hands on Ubuntu 8.10 aka Intrepid Ibex lead to something else. In the mean time I was able to get Mandriva Linux One 2009 and I decided to give it a try. I was sceptical at first because I have been using Ubuntu for almost two years now. But Mandriva blew all that away.

The installation of Mandriva One 2009 GNOME was completed in about 10 minutes. The quickest Linux install on my computer so far. Also, the Mandriva iso for GNOME was pretty small at 607 MB. This meant a few applications were not included. At first glance I could see there were no games and there was no Tomboy something which I had grown to use more frequently. No big deal, I was able to install them from the Add and Remove Software tool.

As expected, there was no support for some audio and video formats. This too was fixed by installing the gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg-0.10.5-2mdv2009.0.i586 package from the net. So everything was set. One major positive I noticed was Mandriva never froze when watching videos as Ubuntu did. I had to do several reboots if I am watching a bunch of videos on Ubuntu. This stability of Mandriva impressed me the most.

AWN seemed to work fine although it was bare-bones. I was able to easily install the extras from the AWN Wiki and get things going. Here again the stacks applet worked perfectly while it did not work on Ubuntu. There were a couple of more applets which worked on neither distros.

So I am going to hang on with Mandriva as it is serving my needs perfectly well. The Mandriva Community is also very friendly and helped a lot when I faced any issues. Mandriva may not be as huge as Ubuntu but the stability and polish of the OS is unmatched. I can say that Mandriva 2009 is the best GNOME desktop I have run so far.

That effectively also means I would give the Ubuntu a pass this time and wait for the next iteration to see how things have improved.

Mandriva Linux One 2008.1 Spring GNOME – Screenshots

As I promised in my previous post, I finally managed to capture a few screenshots of the lovely Mandrvia Linux One 2008.1 Spring – GNOME edition.

Go here to enjoy the screenshots. I could not resist including the Mandriva Control Center screenshots since the Mandriva Control Center is a great piece of software that differentiates this distro from the rest out there.

🙂