Saturday, 28 August 2010

Long time, No post

It's been some time since I last remembered I have a blog. I guess I'm not the kind to do these things often.

A lot's happened though. I got a new laptop, which came with Windows Vista. And like many a good Linux user, I removed it, right?

I've been trying to put up with it, and I found that but for a few small issues, and that I keep getting lost in the control panel, it doesn't live up to the bad press - you just have to stick with it.
However, since it developed a mysterious and unfixable issue connecting to networks by wireless, I told it to budge up and make room for Arch Linux, which is now the dominant system. I keep Vista around only for the things that Wine can't handle.

Now, I've remarked on my liking for Arch Linux before, and if I haven't, I should have. It's nice, simple, and I like it's way of installing the essentials, then waiting for whatever you want next.

I chose to give KDE4 a try again.
KDE and I have a bad relationship. I've tried it time after time, and sometimes it's managed to keep me interested for a while, but inevitably loses out. On this laptop, more powerful than the last, it went through yet another stage like that. I just cannot get along with it. It's far too heavy for me.
Next was XFCE. XFCE, with it's similarity to Gnome, lasted a lot longer. Unfortunately for it, I found a few issues which got in the way of my normal use, and once again, I come back to Gnome.

I like Gnome. With Metacity's compositing enabled in place of the somewhat heavy Compiz, I can do everything I want with relative ease.
Though the most recent Xorg says you no longer need HAL, Gnome didn't listen and still needs it. However, this means that mounting and unmounting of partitions and removable disks is a breeze.
The default Gnome menus aren't so nice, however. I've replaced them with MintMenu from the AUR, and find it quite adept at handling it.
Docks, now docks are a sticking point with me. I like to arrange all my applets on one panel at the top (a la Mac OSX, but without the Global Menu) and have a dock at the bottom.
There are five ways I choose to handle this.
1: DockbarX. This is the most simple. Create a panel that expands and add DockbarX to it. I like DockbarX. Try it yourself if you're a Gnome user.
2: AWN (AKA Avant Window Navigator). With DockbarX installed, it can take it as an applet, but it can hold it's own without it. It's collection of addons and plugins are unparalleled, but it's the heaviest of the options.
3: Cairo Dock. This, and it's similar counterpart GLX-Dock (Built in) is a nice one for those who don't want to activate Compiz. It doesn't have such a selection of additions, and doesn't take up as much as AWN. It also offers to activate Metacity's compositing feature if it's not active, which is useful since I've yet to track it down without it.
4: Gnome Do. In ordinary circimstances, I wouldn't even consider this and the next option because of it's dependency on Mono. Mono is a reimplementation of Microsoft's .Net framework, and if you examine something that runs on Mono, you'll see, yes, a .exe program and lots of .dll files. However, that said, running in Docky mode it's not bad at it's job.
5: Docky. This is, essentially, Gnome Do in Docky mode, without the Do part. Like Gnome Do, it's a Mono application but it too is good at it's job. It's also the lightest with the exception of the first option, provided you don't activate the window preview function of DockbarX.

Now, many people dislike Mono. I too don't really like it. However, I've granted it a chance to do the same as Vista - prove itself better than the bad press. So far, Docky is managing to do just that.
So far.

Other things of note are certain choices in other applications.
Tweetdeck, for example. Despite it's dependency on Adobe Air, which being an Adobe product and like Mono I would never let on my system, Tweetdeck manages to redeem it insofar as there appear to be no decent GTK based Twitter clients.
Liferea has proved itself to be better than my Windows based FeedDemon. It's a neat and tidy application that does exactly what it's meant to do, without any extras.
GNote for notes. It's the C++ (AKA Mono independant) version of Tomboy notes. Unlike Docky, Tomboy has given me nothing but trouble. GNote, despite what I've heard about it being unstable, is actually very stable. True, I only use it for a ToDo list on the desktop, but it's better than Tomboy's refusal to stay where I want it, when I want it to, or to load the correct note.
Finally, the Iron web browser has managed to completely supplant Firefox but for one site.

Iron, for those who don't know, is Chrome (And by extension Chromium) but without any tracking extras. It's perfect for the paranoid like me. And I don't care what Google's Eric Schmidt (Sorry if that's not spelled right. It serves him right for having a strange name) says about 'If you've got something to hide, you shouldn't be doing it' talk. If people want to know my browsing habits, they can bloody well ask me for them.

That's all for now.
Rock on people.