What if Ubuntu were right?

Last week, I had the chance to have a nice chat with Jonathan Riddell, Canonical employee and Kubuntu maintainer.

For years, Jonathan was paid to maintain Kubuntu. In a recent move, Canonical announced that Kubuntu will become a community-only project. As a way to start the conversation, I poked him about that:
— What happened? Is Canonical dropping KDE support?
— Well, we are doing with KDE exactly what we did with GNOME.
— Indeed. But what is the reason?
— Canonical seems to think that none of them managed to reach a non-geek audience.

And, sadly, I had to agree with that.

Playmobil desk and office

The Quest for the Best GNOME 3 distribution

End of last year, I’ve quit Ubuntu, after more than 7 years, to find out what was the best GNOME 3 Linux distribution. I’ve selected three major distributions: Ubuntu 11.10, Opensuse 12.1 and Fedora 16. I spent more than a month with each. Here’s what I’ve found and learned.

What I’m expecting from a distribution

GNOME 3, made of easy

Before asking yourself what is your distribution of choice, maybe you should start by clarifying what you really expect from a distribution. In fact, the list is quite short for me:

  1. I expect a good GNOME 3 experience, as close as possible from upstream.
  2. I want an easy way to install/manage software.
  3. I want all the software easily available and upgradable. This includes proprietary codecs, flash plugin, games, etc.
  4. I want the latest versions of those software and quickly after they are released.
  5. Be easily installable.
  6. Good default: the less I’ve to do when reinstalling, the better.
  7. Other than that, stay out of my way. No specific configuration tool. GNOME should handle that.

But that’s not all. Being a Linux evangelist, I install Linux for a lot of people. Which add completely different requirements.

  1. There should be a stable version with a long support time so I upgrade those people as rarely as possible.
  2. The stable version should be stable and as trouble free as possible. This include incremental upgrade and they should be prevented to make a complete distribution upgrade (because it is never trouble free).
  3. The stable version should be smart enough to update important things like hardware drivers, major versions of Firefox, etc.
  4. The installation should come with a selection of pretty wallpaper, good default, most needed software. (the less I’ve to do when installing, the less I forget something which may block them as soon as I leave the room).
  5. Installation process have to look sweet and requires the minimal input from me. I will be installing it when drinking tea with them.

Ubuntu Efficace, 3ème édition

Ubuntu Efficace - Lionel Dricot Avec un peu de retard, j’ai le grand plaisir de vous annoncer la disponibilité de la troisième édition d’Ubuntu Efficace, édition consacrée à Ubuntu 9.04, après une version 5.10 et une version 6.06.

Cette édition a été actualisée grâce à l’excellent travail de Kiki Novak, par ailleurs auteur de Linux au petits oignons. Un grand merci à lui.

En résumé : toi y’en a acheter ça (ça y’en a être bien pour épater les meufs ou les mecs en boîte de nuit).

The aristocratic desktop (part 3) : There’s no tray icon in GNOME!

Part 1 : Introduction
Part 2 : Home is Desktop
Part 3 : There’s no tray icon in GNOME 
Part 4 : Kill The Double Click

Repeat after me one more time : there’s no such thing as a « tray icon » in GNOME. GNOME has a notification area which has nothing to do with the Windows-ish obscenity called « systray », this little space where any application can put a little icon.

child tray

I mean, seriously, have you ever think about how completely stupid is the idea of a « tray icon »? Can you imagine how black magic it should be for a new computer user?

Getting Things Gnome! 0.1 – « Just 5 minutes more »

GTG icon Bertrand and I are very proud to announce you the first release of Getting Thing Gnome!, a personal organizer and todo list manager for the GNOME desktop.

GTG allows you to add and edit tasks with nearly no fields at all. It support subtasks and tags that you can use the way you want. It aims for flexibility. Getting Things Gnome! goal is to adapt itself to your workflow, not the opposite. GTG also brings the concept of « workview », a display of tasks that can be done right now, right here.

The aristocratic desktop (part 2) : Home is Desktop

Part 1 : Introduction
Part 2 : Home is Desktop
Part 3 : There’s no tray icon in GNOME!
Part 4 : Kill The Double Click

After I installed Ubuntu for Marie, she quickly grasped a lot of things and I discovered that she was really bright. She quickly organized a lot of folders for all of her project, downloading a lot of file and putting them in a lot of place. On the opposite, Jean had a lot of difficulties to understand the file concept. Well, in fact, he understood the document concept he was not seeing where those documents were.

How can I make things easier ?

The aristocratic desktop (part 1)

Part 1 : Introduction
Part 2 : Home is Desktop
Part 3 : There’s no tray icon in GNOME!
Part 4 : Kill The Double Click

The terrific world of computers

Geeks like me are used to compare operating systems and desktop environments, discussing the benefits of one over the others. But, most than often, we loose the big picture and forget about the users.

I mean : « the real-life users », those who cannot even grasp the basic concepts and who use a computer because they have no choice. Some geeks would say that « it’s good for them to learn » but I really disagree. Everyday I see very bright people who need to have their emails printed out on hard paper so they can read them or who cannot understand the difference between the « minimize » and the « close » button on a window.

It seems so hard

It is real : most users are simply lost in a terrific world where newspapers talk about « virus » and « hackers » all the time. They are even afraid to sit in front of their own computer ! If something popup on the screen, they panic and loose all common sense. « Do you want to save this file ? Yes or no ? » and they scream : « What do I do ? What do I have to do ? Please tell me ! I’m afraid that, if I click on the bad button, the computer will explode »[1].


[1] Then, they simply close the message using the little cross so the computer make the decision for them. By observing a normal user, you discover that 99% of the errors are simply not needed.

I’m not a virgin anymore/there’s always a first time

Heron I’ve been in the Free Software community for years now. I wrote countless documentation, articles, I translated a lot of stuffs, I did a lot of beta testing/bug reporting/bug triaging, including for a secret project called « no-name-yet », wich later became… Ubuntu. Sometimes, I wrote a quick trivial patch or I play with the code of something. But now that you ask, I must admit that there’s no non-trivial code I wrote in Ubuntu. I’ve no problem with that : a lot of developpers are so bright and talented that I can’t really compete. I contribute with my own weaponry : promoting, writing books, doing conferences.

Anyway, better late than never. I’m proud to say that Hardy Heron will include an obscure but non-trival patch from me : you will be able to stop the background music in gweled (bug #90499). The five people in the world that play Gweled know that it’s a huge improvement !

Very simple video editing/DVD burning in Ubuntu

You have a IEEE1394 (Firewire) camera and you want to burn your birthday/wedding/funerals on a DVD. And maybe cut the scene where you look silly, dancing madly with a potato in your pants. It’s Ok, Ubuntu can save your reputation…

Vous avez une caméra IEEE1394 (Firewire) and vous voulez graver un DVD vidéo de votre anniversaire/mariage/enterrement. Et peut-être en profiter pour couper la scène où vous dansez comme un fou avec une patate dans votre pantalon. Ubuntu peut sauver votre réputation…