6th > October > 2001 Archive

There's no place like GNOME

GNOME version 2.0 officially 'not of use to anyone' Letters ran 3:1 defending Gnome. Remarkably, almost all were polite, articulate and charming. However many others expressed relief that somebody had dared do the unthinkable, and castigate the project for late delivery and over-marketing. But since pro-Gnome letters are longer, that's reflected in the selection below. Pro:- Thank you for saying about Gnome what everyone in the open source Community has been thinking and afraid to say because of the Slapdork weenies! It's about time somebody freely admitted Gnome is pointless bullshit. Zach Hartley As an avid and long-time Gnome user myself I am impelled to respond: well said. It's absolutely true. Gnome is beached. Let's get the painful transition over with as soon as possible and get on with life. Great article! Scott Anti A visiting Martian would choose GNOME because his company can build on top of it without paying thousands of dollars per developer to some company - but that I'll let pass too. What I'd quite like you to suggest is that: "It transpires that the release announcement was slightly mis-worded, and that contrary to popular belief, this was the first in a set of staged releases of only the underlying GNOME platform libraries - and includes no applications that end users could play with." Some of your comments about GNOME's release schedule as opposed to KDE's were indeed fair, we need to speed our schedule up, and it's extremely frustrating for me as much as anyone that we are not shipping incremental releases every 6 months. Still, schedule slippage is hardly something new in the software world as you know :-) Yours in amusement, Michael Meeks Ximian I found your comments rather too harsh on Gnome. We have a couple of dozen Linux workstations, with all of the users using Gnome. We don't have any problems getting anything done. It's true KDE does have a time advantage on Gnome, but there are several Gnome apps unsurpassed in quality in KDE (e.g. abiword, evolution, gumeric), so Gnome isn't dead at all. There are news apps being written all the time (e.g. sodipodi). You may also remember that Sun are going to ship Gnome with their workstations, leading to a large number of possible users. Also remember that Staroffice is being converted to use a native Gnome UI. Gnome does have advantages over KDE. It's possible to write Gnome apps in virtually any computer language. In KDE you're limited to C++ (I am a C++ programmer). [So I'm just hallucinating this Python script that wraps KDE calls, right? - ed.] This means that you'll have problems linking between compilers because of the non-standard C++ ABI. Jeremy Sanders Pembroke College, Cambridge Just a note that if you use the ALSA project sound drivers, then there isn't any problem, as the alsa support allows multiple opens of the sound device. You don't even need 'esd' running. Mark As you said, you enjoy using Gnome apps ... Isn't it funny that the Gnome apps are about a year ahead of the KDE apps. If KDE would just give up and start helping out Gnome, we wouldn't have this problem. See how stupid your argument is? If you don't want to help code, then stop criticizing. A desktop with pathetic apps is not much of a desktop now is it? William O'Shea As a member of the GNOME 2 release team, I'd like to make a few points regarding your article: GNOME 2 was never promised by a specific date. I don't know where you heard this, but anyone who promised it by a specific date did so unofficially and hadn't a clue. [The September 2000 date was pledged by Miguel de Icaza at LinuxWorld Xpo in San Jose in August 1999, and the author was present at the press conference - ed.] GNOME 2 will be released when it's ready. We do now have a release schedule that covers the begins of the release of the platform and are hammering out schedules which will go further into the release cycle. Even now, however we do not promise any final release date. It's too early. The reason this doesn't include anything of use to end-users is that it is a "platform" release. This means, to programmers, that it's a set of libraries and tools to develop applications with. The API and libraries are out there in this alpha release. Developers can port their GNOME 1.x applications to this new GNOME 2.x platform. When applications (including the GNOME desktop) have been ported the GNOME 2 full release will occur. As a member of the release team and someone involved in the GNOME developer community, I can tell you you're flat wrong on this point. I personally know hundreds of hackers who are working round the clock to make GNOME better and couldn't care less about politics. The GNOME platform is very elegant in design. In fact that is precisely what brought me to GNOME over KDE. From a developers standpoint it's very high-quality and offers a powerful set of tools to work with. In addition to being a pleasure to develop with, the applications GNOME provides surpass anything I've seen in the KDE camp with a few exceptions. For example I find KOffice to be sorely lacking in comparison with GNOME applications such as AbiWord, Gnumeric (arguably the best open source spreadsheet out there), SodiPodi, The Gimp, etc. Evolution is the best open source groupware and PIM suite I've seen, period. Galeon is an outstanding browser and continues to offer more polish with each release. The GNOME desktop itself is ideal for my purposes. It's aesthetically pleasing(a big plus for me as I spend nearly all my time using my Linux desktop), I can configure it to look exactly like I want. Maybe with time the themes and configuration options for KDE will catch up to where GNOME's at, but for now, it's not close. I would argue that GNOME's great gift has been giving us the best open source desktop, development platform, and set of applications on the planet. Hundreds of thousands of other GNOME users would argue the same, no doubt. It's amazing that the GNOME project has equaled and surpassed KDE given the temporal jump KDE had. I've had the opportunity to speak with some folks at Sun. The reason they chose GNOME to be the future Solaris desktop environment was based on the technical merits of the platform, not on politics or GNOME marketing genius. It's a testament to the outstanding platform GNOME is. Having said all this, I wish the KDE project good luck, look forward to more collaboration of the tworojects, and say that I cheer for all open source/free software projects. The power of choice is good. Sincerely, Jamin Philip Gray A sucker for punishment? Check out the following debate that the story generate on LinuxToday, here. We'll post a explanation of why we wrote this tongue-in-cheek article soon, but thanks to everyone in the GNOME camp who replied, and showed you haven't lost your sense of humour. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Oct 2001

Reg telepathed by Captain Cyborg critics

Did Captain Cyborg implant a dog tracking chip? Reg jealous of my success, claims Captain Cyborg What's this? A buzzing behind my right ear? Why, that's got to be the embedded e-mail relay implanted in my skull. It turns me into a futurisitic fusion of man and POP3 Server! And it's buzzing again.... From: David Ellis Subject: Capt. Cyborg Stands on the Shoulders of Monkeys While he is spouting his nonsense, real scientists are making real progress with implants, using real science. One was the Kennedy/Bakay experiment at Emory University a couple of years ago, in which two paralyzed patients given special brain implants were able to control the movements of a cursor to click on buttons ("I want a drink", "Turn off the light", etc.) -- just by willing it. Real scientists at Duke and MIT recently did something similar, using monkeys: "A group of scientists describe today in Nature their success at harnessing the ultimate instrument of remote control: the brain. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University and his colleagues wired the brains of owl monkeys to mechanical arms such that the animals' thoughts controlled the robots' actions. Going one step further, they demonstrated that these thought signals could travel over the Internet and manipulate a robotic arm sitting 600 miles away in co-author Mandayam Srinivasan's laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It was as if the monkey had a 600-mile-long virtual arm," Srinivasan said. The hope is that such work might lead to prosthetic limbs that are as easy to use as the ones they replace." (http://www.sciam.com/news/111600/3.html ) It occurs to me that if we wired those monkey brains direct to Kev's cerebral cortex, we might get him to do something to deserve all that media coverage, for a change. Loved your latest missive. You are the free world's only ABK (Anti-Ballistic Kev) shield. Keep it up. David Ellis Congratulations on your scientific analysis and bloody mindedness. We should never take anything for the truth unless we can verify it ourselves. First principle of scientific research. That Captain Cyborg won't get back to you casts aspersions and doubts over his claims far more readily than if he did reply. Keep up the good work Phil Thomas Subject: Cyborg on a budget Dear The Register, It strikes me that the good Professor Warwick could have saved himself and others time and money by shoving that pet-tagging chip up his arse. Ben Gladwyn
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Oct 2001

Where can I patent my GNU/Implant?

LettersLetters While 98 per cent of the world's PC users remain chained to proprietary software and are being asked to empty their wallets for another pointless upgrade, the fraternal folk of the Linux community have a more noble foe:- Each other. Yes, why waste valuable bandwidth trying to convert the heathen, when you can take potshots at your own peers' poorly-designed UI toolkits? Our playful dig at the GNOME/KDE war drew plenty of interesting emails … and surprisingly, very few flames. You can find a selection here Incredibly, in the week that basic open web standards came under threat, a few of you were interested enough to be distracted from the Linux Desktop Wars, and for your time, we give thanks. So unapologetically, letter of the week goes to John Rutledge, for this sarcastic missive:- I hope they DO implement the RAND licenses! I'm serious, and no, I'm not some mindless drone who wants a closed web. Almost every significant step which has promoted the growth of the Internet has come from open sources, from TCP/IP to Apache (running over %60 of web servers). Even today, "standards bodies" use similar "open" techniques. An example being the Java Community Process. It's comprised of company representatives who PAID to have the right to vote! Because of this, the process has lost much of what is gained as far as creativity and speed to adopt standards. Example, has the Java community process made NEAR the progress that Linux,Apache or Tomcat has made in the past few years? I should hear snickering where I am in Denver. So let them take the proprietary route. In the end, companies will use open standards because of lower costs and a better product. While we're at it, maybe we can get rid of Software Patents... And what mailbag would be complete without a thorough and comprehensive demolition of publicity-seeking, post-modern, cyber-loon Kevin Warwick? Click here for your GNU/Implant. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Oct 2001

BOFH, the HellDesk and the Novel

Episode 24Episode 24 Despite our best efforts, The PFY and I occasionally get asked back for a quick stand-in on the Helldesk. Today, it's because they're all taking the day off to tell each other how good they are at their jobs and have a group fondle under the guise of "trust exercises". Normally I would have put up a bit of a protest at the reshuffle; however it's nearing contract renegotiation time and should a major outage occur, the crucial nature of our work would be reinforced. Still, that's a couple of hours away yet, if that cheap mechanical timer can be trusted... Meantime the helpdesk crew all traipse out to some non-confrontational, spirilina-peddling, huggy-feely place in town.. Luckily, The PFY and I have a stable working relationship based on mutual trust and respect, backed up by the fear of high voltage...T Looking back, the Good-Helldesk-Person/Bad-Helldesk-Person routine several weeks ago went well, with The PFY winning out of sheer staying-power by reducing the changeover period to a matter of seconds until I resembled a manic depressive. But that's all over now, with The Boss emphasising the concept of Professionalism. I ask if it's the same type of Professional that Jean Reno played, but he misses that bus completely... "Hello," I say, picking up the first call for the morning and noting that the number brings up the "Difficult Customer" icon on the Digital Console - which The PFY and I only assign to particularly annoying types (and which the Helldesk was told means priority call - pffft!) "Hi, I was wondering if you have some way of locking my computer?" "I'm sorry, but the OS2 install media was taken off me several weeks ago. Why not try Netscape 6.0 - I've heard very good things about that." "So it'll secure my machine?" "SECURE? Oh. My mistake! Why not just 'Lock Computer' from the CTRL-ALT-DEL options?" "Because then an administrator can just override it and login to my machine and access my personal files!" "As opposed to powercycling the machine and logging in that way?" "The machine won't start without the password!" "So they'd have to reset the NVRAM, then powercycle it." "You can't, the cover's locked by a password too," he responds smugly. Si->clickety<-gh "Well it seems that you've thought of everything," I concur, sneaking into his administrative C$ share with a custom admin tool of my own design, which pops up a list of the non-standard contents of his machine. "Private, as in protecting... >click-click<.. 'The Summer Romance - by Sharon Thwaite'. " The stifled gasp down the end of the line can only mean one thing, paydirt! "You're hiding soft porn for housewives?!?" "MY NOVEL!" he says defensively. >clickety-click<

"Well TECHNICALLY it's the Company's Novel," I correct. "As is all data on corporate machines. It's part of your employment contract. But I'll sell it to you for 10 quid!" "And a packet of crisps," The PFY cries hungrily. "Salt and Vinegar!" A quick clickety-scrabble is enough to convince him that the file in question is no longer where he left it. "You've deleted it?" "Have you got a backup?" I ask. "I don't trust Backups. The Operators just read through your stuff. They've done it before!" "Indeed they have," The PFY responds, conferencing himself in on the call. "They do all sorts of things. Remember that time you tried to get off that parking ticket by sending email to the council parking authority? Only the message mysteriously got changed to a picture of two baboons having sex with the message 'Parking Police are inbreds' on it." "They followed me for weeks after that," he sniffles. "They painted yellow lines on the road under my car after it was parked then towed it away - three times.'" "Those operators really are BASTARDS aren't they?" The PFY murmurs, suppressing a giggle and digging a nice, big hole. "Yes they are!" "Was that before or after you complained about their reluctance to clean the dust out of your machine because you'd read it was a fire hazard." "I.." "Or was that just after the time you reported them for piracy for running a game on two machines?" "It WAS pirated! And they were playing it in work time! And they wouldn't help me with my problem." "That was the problem about glare on your screen when you moved you monitor, wasn't it?" "Yes, but how did you kno... oh..." "Yes", The PFY says in response to the unspoken revelation. "And now you've deleted a year's worth of my work!" he sniffles. "No, no, we're just keeping it safe. Like we do with all Company data. We're professionals! So we'll look after it till the company has no need for it any more, then..." "You mustn't touch it! - It's the final revision!!! I'm mailing it to the publishers this afternoon!" he gasps. "If you're mailing it, why on earth would you need to secure it?" The PFY asks. "Because I have to go to the mail centre and get some stamps!" "Not in company time surely?!" I ask, feigning company loyalty like a trooper. "Of course not," he pinnochios. "I was going to wait till lunchtime" "We can but hope the company needs your data till then, but..." The PFY adds. "I'll just get the crisps!!!" our user cries as the receiver clatters home. . . . "It's not much cop" The PFY says, scrolling through the text. "It needs something..." "An extra chapter perhaps?" "With furry woodland creatures?" The PFY asks evilly. "Why not! And I'll concentrate on extending the overall vocab to include words like 'knob', 'love-truncheon', 'blue-veined junket pumper,' and the like!" "By the time we're finished it'll be top of the best-seller list at the Amsterdam Fetish Festival!!!" The PFY chortles. "Good point - must give Piet a quick call!!!" It's true what they say - You have to MAKE your dreams come true... ® BOFH 2K+1: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 06 Oct 2001