Friday, May 23, 2008

Home Makeover comes to Linuxville

In Linuxville there is always the opportunity to re-evaluate your whole situation and change it if necessary. One of the best ways to do this is to have a separate partition for your /home directory. This way when you change your linux install you can better preserve your user files and data. In practice though, you shouldn't have to change anything for years. In fact the hot OS idea is counter the practical design of Linux. Once you have a distro installed, you should be able to upgrade portions of it as necessary be it the kernel, the libraries or the whole distro. I've become a "distro hopper" and it has got to stop. Is there really a better Linux distro just around the corner?? Does having the latest and greatest and being on the cutting-edge of things really matter?? Will I fall behind if I don't have the newest?? My hardware isn't getting any newer and the applications haven't changed significantly, why am I striving so hard to be first on my block?? A Linux OS is meant to last a long time, just like that gum they advertise on TV, where they beg you to chew a second piece. With the incremental improvements you don't have to get upgrade fever. The server folks have known this for ever and we in the desktop crowd should not be overcome by this sickness either. Linux choice is about considerate choosing of appropriate tools, reasonable look and feel and ease of use. To market Linux based on wallpaper and screensaver experiences is not a good thing.
Well, one thing leads to another and in Linuxville you get to see and experience a lot. Trying stuff is what keeps this whole thing interesting. Not having a business, I don't have to have a locked down user environment. Sameness is more maintainable from a system admin point of view. So, you heard of my love for Xfce desktop and how much I am weary of extreme eyecandy. I want to hip you to a couple of things I think are striking enough for serious thought. The first is a desktop called Kuartet. Kuartet is a desktop that runs on top of KDE and uses something called Superkaramba. Superkaramba allows you to design desktop wigets and gadgets, you know, clocks and gages, status bars, etc, etc, etc. Kuartet escapes the menu metaphor with info screens and desktop hotspots. It is cool looking and functional. The catch is that it is a project that has escaped notice and did not catch on (ahead of it's time??). If Oprah can promote books, I can promote this. We should consider a Kuartet revival and proceed to push the envelope of the desktop. The second thing before me is the window manager Fluxbox. I've played with it before and now have it on AntiX, the Mepis spin. Fluxbox is a looker and you can change the look with a flick. Fluxbox is simplicity inspite of requiring a little tweaking to set it up. Fluxbox is swift. If you want to turn in your SUV for something greener, Fluxbox is the one. Sorry, you can't just install Fluxbox from Synaptic and run it. Fluxbox is not a desktop environment like Gnome or KDE or Xfce. It is a window manager that requires the help of other apps to fill it out (you get to choose, yeah!!!). In the Mepis docs is a Wiki on how to install Fluxbox, configure it and what to put with it so you have a complete desktop. I will try it all out and report it here, live, for your enjoyment and deployment.
Another Linuxville truth!!! There is no Linux expert or single person who contains all there is to know about Linux. This is why user groups and forums are so cool. If you have a question or concern, you can inquire within the Linux "social network", "community", "distro docs" for the benefit of our combined knowledge and experience. Excuse us if our "mouse-side manner" (user hand holding technique) needs work, but ask. Life in Linuxville is fun and challenging.

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