November 3rd Meeting Notes - Ubuntu 11.10 & Cairo/GLX-Dock 2.4, KUbuntu 11.10

It was another great meeting with 11 present including 2 new attendees. Darin Miller started of the meeting and spent the first 90 minutes giving us a demo on 3 desktops available on the GNome 3.0 kernel version Ubuntu 11.10, Oneiric Ocelot. He started off with the Unity which has been updated in this version of Ubuntu. Darin is unhappy with Unity as many users have been since the initial release in the previous version of Ubuntu (11.04). Main concerns are the lack of an easily customizable desktop, the global menu system, and the lack of system utilities that provided for things like being able to easily manage group membership. He also spent a little time showing us the "2D" version which approximates the look and feel of GNome 2.x, albeit still sans utilities that are not supported in the 3.0 kernel. He then moved on to the GNome 3.2 Shell which is yet another approach to the desktop with its Applications and Windows display modes. The GNome 3.x shell has come under the same limitations and criticisms in that it is a new way of doing things, completely different from the traditional GNome desktop, and a work in progress. GNome 3.2 Desktop is the standard Desktop on Fedora 15 as well. Missing on both Unity and the GNome 3.2 desktops are the hierarchical menus found on previous GNome desktops and Windows, where you can make your way easily to a desired application based on the Application category. Darin then spent the rest of his presentation in showing us the Cairo/GLX-Dock 2.4 (launcher) installed as an available desktop on Ubuntu 11.10. Cairo-Dock 2.4 is very similar to the Mac's launcher in appearance and behavior. It provides a wide variety of eye appealing themes and customization options without taking up valuable desktop space. One plus I saw was the access of the GNome hierarchical menu from the Cairo Dock launcher, very nice, the best of all worlds. The Cairo/GLX-Dock desktop can be installed from the desktop directly from Ubuntu repositories or get the latest from the PPA and you can then select which desktop you want at login. The versions in the PPA can be installed across all flavors of Ubuntu starting with 10.04. There are a number of resources available that can be of use in both making Ubuntu 11.10 more useful as well as in adding the GNome 3.2 and Cairo/GLX-Dock 2.4 desktops. Starting with the Web Upd8: Ubuntu/Linux Blog, which is a Daily Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews source that provides a lot of information: Things to Tweak After Installing Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot - Web Upd8 - Includes instructions on installing both the GNome 3.2 Shell and Cairo/GLX 2.4 desktops. Cairo/GLX-Dock 2.4 is release notes - Details on the new features in the 2.4.0 release. Cairo Dock 2.4.0 Released With Custom GNOME Session, Support For Unity Quicklists, More How To Install And Configure Cairo Dock In Ubuntu Intrepid provides instructions on configuring many aspects of Cairo Dock including sub-docks. Cairo/Glx 2.4 Website Glx-Dock/Cairo-Doc - Tips and Tricks Gnome 3.2 Released - See What's New For the remaining 30 minutes, Josh gave us an impromptu demonstration of KUbuntu 11.10 which he had installed on his laptop. This KDE desktop version of Ubuntu 11.10 provides a number features not found in the GNome based desktops including the Dolphin File Manager and desktop management tools along with the QT4 graphical libraries. Josh is a mechanical engineer by day and uses a program called FreeCAD which he demonstrated and uses the QT4 libraries for drawing. He also showed off the K desk programs like Kontact. Thanks to both Darin and Josh for their presentations. To summarize, one thing was very evident in that Linux gives us choices and Ubuntu provides a number of choices in desktops including Unity, GNome 3.2, Cairo/Glx Desktop, and KUbuntu among the desktop choices in Ubuntu 11.10. Also thanks go to all those who attended in making the meeting a success. Editorial Comment: Unity does have some challenges but it was a step forward in meeting the needs of laptop and widescreen displays by moving the launcher to a vertical space instead of taking up top/bottom screen space which is in short supply. Personally, while all I use is widescreen displays now, I have vested in the 1920X1080 22" monitors but long for the days of the old 4:3 screen where you had more lines vertically so as to properly display documents and books which are not widescreen! I abhor the current 1366X768 720p displays that are standard on most laptops. I did buy a i7 laptop recently with a 1600X900 resolution and thought I had gone to heaven but it still does not provide the vertical space I would like to have but I digress. I like Unity and current offerings of Ubuntu in alternative desktops. I think Ubuntu is very responsive to the community as evidenced that they brought back the Gimp in 11.10 as the standard photo tool and they are considering Rhythmbox as the standard music player for 12.04 LTS, replacing Banshee; they do listen. The GUI administration tools that we are missing will come as the move to the 3.0 kernel and GNome desktop are a work in progress, which is pretty much a statement on Linux, a work in progress, always moving forward but expected to stumble from time to time but Ubuntu is very agile and has a great community of users and developers. While I use Ubuntu for my daily computing (10.04), I have also found that I could do things as a developer on Fedora that I couldn't do on Ubuntu (developer tools that worked on Fedora) and I am excited about Fedora 16. Fedora was our groups original distribution of choice before Ubuntu pretty much took over the user world in becoming the distribution of choice. I still have openSUSE on a my little netbook where it performed better and provided better usability and support for the little screen than the other distributions. I am a maintainer of a Slackware distribution (SLAMPP) so I have some loyalty there and even that distro sports a Cairo/Glx like launcher, Mac style and it is over two years old now. Linux is as I wrote earlier, all about choices and never has there been such a wide range of choices. In ease of use, Linux has never been easier to install and use than it is today. Our next meeting is December 1st, same time and location. Fedora 16 is due out on November 8th and I plan on spending some time demonstrating that and more about using the GNome 3.2 Shell desktop as there is more there than meets the eye and many of those features area available with the Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop. As always, we are open to other presentations, volunteer's please! Thanks again to Darin Miller for volunteering and presenting at our last two meeting.