Windows Treatment

Perhaps it was some inspiration from the Performance Love Day yesterday, some residual optimism from the release of Breezy Badger earlier this month, or the advances mapped out for March with version 2.14 of GNOME. I found these articles on the Ubuntu wiki. The article, called “Winning the Desktop”, attempts to identify the key pieces [...]

Feel the Love

It’s less than twelve hours until Gnome Performance Love Day, a hack fest with a sole purpose in mind: make GNOME faster and more responsive in less memory.

I inspired some pretty lively discussion about the future of Linux desktop development. I came across this caricature of GNOME versus KDE development styles, and the culture of [...]

It’s Awkward, Inconsistent, and Far Too Fleeting

Wondering about the title? It’s in reference to a comment made by Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik that Linux on the desktop is “like teenage sex. Everybody’s talking about it, but nobody’s doing it.”

Not necessarily the comparison I would have drawn. Maybe it’s like soccer: big in Europe, but not glitzy enough for American crowds. [...]

Don’t Forget the Baklava

Tampa’s annual Greek festival is this weekend, in SOHO as reported by (so that’s where Mr. Bill has been!) If you look carefully, you might even spot me there.

You could probably get some delicious feta cheese there. Remember, feta cheese only comes from Greece and Lions come only from Kenya.

That’s no moon…

A character in the Massively Multiplayer Online Game Project Entropia, bought an in-game space station for $100,000.

I’ve played MMORPG before, and some people get a little obsessed with these online time-wasters. But this is absurd. There is nothing I own worth $100,000. Not even the place I live, and sleep, in real life. I think [...]

Finally, one that works

Product Image: Serpentine
My rating: 4 out of 5

I’ve been using Linux for at least four years, a little more if you count the early uses I made of it as a server operating system back in high school. Over the years I’ve come to realize that a little redundancy is par for the course in the Linux world. For any feature you can imagine, there are at least five applications that provide that feature in one way or another. Recording CD and DVD disks is no exception. Gtoaster, Xcdroast, Graveman, Gnomebaker, even the command-line cdrtools. Occasionally however, an application comes along that makes you delete all your other apps as entirely obsolete in one release. Serpentine is that kind of application.

From the start, the interface is simple. No more information than the user needs. The most basic functions are big, obvious buttons on a prominent toolbar; clearly captioned, single-purpose buttons. The widgets are logically laid-out, and an intuitive widget displaying a disc filling with data makes the process crystal clear. The new paradigm in GNOME development is that software “Just Works.” Serpentine does exactly that, it works without all the bells and whistles of some other programs that often don’t work at all: spitting out coasters or worse.

The other notable feature is that it uses the Gstreamer media framework which means that any format that Gstreamer can decode and play, Serpentine can decode and record to CD. In case you were wondering, Gstreamer can decode anything.

“So,” you ask, “why only a four out of five?” Well, while I have nothing against Python programs in and of themselves, Python is a fast-moving target and python applications are extremely susceptible to bit-rot if they’re not under development. Serpentine is written in Python, which could bog down slower systems. Also, on Gentoo at least, there are a few dependency issues that are difficult to resolve if you’re not aware of them.

Finally a key functionality seems to be missing and that’s a drag-and-drop functionality with the otherwise very sensibly designed interface. I’m not terribly annoyed by this, since I know catching and handling with drag-and-drop signals with callbacks can be troublesome. Other CDR applications have implemented this though, so the code is out there and probably not too difficult to adapt. This small shortcoming is still not enough to drive Serpentine out of the software that I anticipate using on a regular basis. A hearty congratulations goes out to all the developers. Serpentine is a fine product that filled a need in Linux software that has long been inadequately [...]

Wi-Fi: Not Just for Starbucks Anymore

Sarah has reported in the past that Google is testing free wireless access in the San Francisco area called, you guessed it, Google Wi-Fi.

This is old news, I know. But I was surprised to read this morning that a company in Sweden is testing a strategy of providing long-distance, wireless Internet access via balloons.

It sounds [...]

The Servers are Our Friends

If you’re strapped for things to do this weekend now that homecoming is postponed due to Wilma, try putting together an NFS server.

The setup can be long and complicated, or quick and dirty depending on how much control you’d like to have. I cobbled together a Gentoo system to do the job last night. [...]

Pointy Pointers

This may explain a lot about those two kooky Stanford grads over at Google. While giving myself a short refresher on stacks, trees, and other data structures, I came across Pointer Fun with Binky, a short claymation film providing an introduction to some basic principles of memory management. “The Magic Wand of Dereferencing.”


A Large Wooden Badger

The Ubuntu package repositories are swamped with people upgrading to the latest, greatest version of the best darn desktop Linux out there.

If you took my advice and are preparing for a network-based upgrade with apt-get, synaptic, or Ubuntu’s built-in upgrade-manager do yourself a favor and use one of the many mirrors.