Gnome 3: Not Ready for Prime Time in Fedora 15 Sat, Apr 23. 2011
I've been intrigued by the Gnome 3 desktop and the design decisions that the Gnome project has decided to test. Hearing some members of the Gnome community explain the design decisions in person was very interesting, and helpful when transitioning to the Gnome shell. And I'm proud that the Fedora Project is continuing to lead by incorporating new technologies and designs First.
But I've been using Gnome 3 in the Fedora 15 alpha and beta releases for a while now, and I'm convinced that Gnome 3 is not ready for prime time yet, at least as implemented in Fedora 15 (and this is completely separate from the issue of whether the Gnome 3 design changes are good or bad, and whether the Gnome community is ignoring the needs and wants of the users and downstreams -- both subjects of much debate). As one example, multi-monitor setups are not working as expected, at least for me. In fact, it's a stretch to say that they're working at all:
- On my laptop/netbook, logging in with an external monitor connected results in Gnome 3 running in degraded mode, with Gnome 2-style menus. Logging in without an external monitor connected, and connecting it after login, results in a usable configuration - at least all of the real estate is accessible.
- I run with the external display above my laptop. Maximizing a window on the external display results in it filling the rightmost 1/3 of the screen. Unmaximized windows may be moved, but only to positions where the right edge of the window is within the right-most 1/3 of the screen. You can fill the screen by placing the window all the way to the right and dragging a corner to the left side, though. There are many other behaviours which are just weird.
- The Activities button is on the laptop screen, but the touch-to-activate-Activities corner is on the external monitor.
- Rearranging the position of the monitors using the Displays setting tool results in badly torn, messed up images. They resolve to something that looks almost usable a fraction of a second before the Does this look right? dialog gives up and reverts me to the original configuration, with my desktop backgrounds missing.
This is 2011, and multi-monitor configurations are not a novelty any more. In fact, they're the norm where I work, and I use external monitors with my laptops and netbooks all the time
Perhaps some of these issues are video driver problems, and Gnome 3 isn't to blame. But the problems with Gnome 3 are not limited to just multi-display configurations; for example: GDM's list of users does not scroll properly when the list is long (I went to file a bug on that one, but was disheartened searching through the 253 other open Fedora GDM bugs to see if it was already reported). If something goes wrong during the login process, a message appears telling you that something went wrong, but offering no way to find out what went wrong -- not even through a "Details..." button -- and the only action available to the user is to click a button marked "Ok" (I can't login? It's definitely not OK). The icons at the top of the screen respond to left- and right-click in the same way -- except for the iBus icon -- where's the consistency in that?
GNOME 3 Lunchtime Talk Sat, Mar 19. 2011
The participants in the GNOME documentation hackfest led a great lunchtime talk on Friday, introducing GNOME 3 to about two dozen Senecans.
GNOME 3 embodies a complete re-design of the desktop. Clutter has been replaced with discoverable behaviours, visual cues, and generally streamlined operation. It's a bold experiment that has already attracted some detractors, but it was fascinating and enlightening to hear the environment explained by members of the community that created it. I'm looking forward to using GNOME 3 in the upcoming release of Fedora 15.
There were many who expressed an interest in attending but were unable to do so. Here are a couple of links:
- GNOME 3 site, with features, screenshots, and FAQ: http://www.gnome3.org/
- Main GNOME site: http://www.gnome.org/
Gnome Documentation Hackfest Thu, Mar 17. 2011
For the next six days, CDOT is hosting some members of the of the GNOME documentation team for a documentation hackfest in preparation for the upcoming GNOME 3.0 release. On Friday we're holding an informal lunchtime talk to introduce the Seneca and Gnome communities -- and if you're in the greater Toronto area and are free, you're welcome to join us!
Running Fedora ARM without ARM Hardware, Made Easy Mon, Feb 28. 2011
Interested in ARM but lacking ARM hardware? Not a problem! Fedora includes support for ARM virtual machines, and I'm packaged up a preconfigured ARM VM for your convenience:
- ARM virtual machine package: http://scotland.proximity.on.ca/arm/armvm/noarch/armvm-f13beta1-15.fc13.noarch.rpm
- Repo config for staying up-to-date on ARM VM releases: http://scotland.proximity.on.ca/arm/armvm/noarch/armvm-release-1-1.fc13.noarch.rpm
The armvm package will install a preconfigured ARM virtual machine named "f13-arm-beta1" with a 2GB image and a 128MB memory footprint. Since x86_64 processors don't provide hardware support for ARM processor virtualization, the ARM VM will run slowly compared to i386/x86_64 VMs, but the performance should be tolerable on most machines (Atom netbooks excepted). You can manage the VM with virsh or virt-manager. I've tested these packages on F13 and F14, but not on F15 Alpha yet. (By the way: the root password on the VM is "fedoraarm").
(Please don't forget that both the Fedora ARM beta release and the armvm package are very definitely at the pre-release/beta stage of maturity. In particular, updating the armvm package will REPLACE your arm VM with a new image - beware!).
Temperamental Power Supply Wed, Feb 23. 2011
Today, the ATX power supply for the PandaStack I described in my last post is working happily. I have no idea what changed... which is a bit worrisome.
PandaStack Tue, Feb 22. 2011
Our "PandaStack" of PandaBoard builders (shown here with 9 of the 15 builders installed) is now ready to run as part of the Fedora ARM build farm. However, I've run into a weird problem -- the ATX power supply I bought to power the boards works fine with 1-3 boards, but Something Bad happens when a fourth board is connected. It's not a capacity issue as far as I can see; it seems to be related to noise. Time to borrow a scope and take a close look at waveforms ... in the meantime, we'll power some of the boards with the ATX supply and some with stand-alone power bricks.