Netbook Launcher now Available for Natty!

Hey guys, you might remember that a few days ago I was asked to build the lucid netbook launcher functionality for maverick; enough people asked me for a natty version that I wanted to make sure you guys got access to the clutter based netbook-launcher too. So here you go!

Of course this repackaging can’t go on forever, the packages I’ve sent to my PPA have no maintainer and sooner or later there is going to be major api failure as gnome3 moves on and ubuntu doesn’t ship the libraries this interface needs.

With that caveat out of the way, you can install the netbook launcher (3D) like this:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:doctormo/netbook-launcher
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install yeold-netbook-launcher

If you would like the 2D version of netbook-launcher, then the best thing to do is to install the netbook-launcher-efl which is shipped in natty (and meverick), true it’s a daft package which sucks in unity by mistake, but it still works and unlike the 3D code, the 2D code is still being developed (if only in small ways) by mterry.

Thoughts, comments and problems, please post below…

Netbook Launcher now available for Maverick!

OK so yes, this looks a bit weird but hear me out. The netbook-launcher package was the old clutter based user interface for the Intrepid to Lucid netbook editions of Ubuntu, which was supplemented by the netbook-launcher-efl package that used enlightenment for anyone who didn’t have 3D. After Lucid, the code for the non-efl hasn’t been development and now everything from Maverick onwards is Unity only.

The efl package is still available, but that has it’s own problems…

I always liked the netbook-launcher, I always put it on other people’s computers (especially for the elderly who need big icons) because it filled the screen and everything was right there on the desktop. Perfect.

Screenshot of Netbook-launcher working on Maverick

It wasn’t really available in maverick until tonight, when prompted by a friend who is delivering 10 new Ubuntu computers to the local working-class community. The plan had always been to use the netbook interface and the machines won’t run Unity. So here’s where I step in, I downloaded the Lucid code for liblauncher and netbook-launcher and have fixed the gtk bitrot errors and published the results on a new PPA.

I had to change the name of the clutter package because of the hatchet job done on the netbook-launcher package to upgrade people from Lucid to Unity/Maverick. This means that when you try to install netbook-launcher, you get unity instead. That aside packages are available here:

My friend probably wants to use the efl version which is still in development (by the heroic mterry no less, is there any cool project that guy isn’t involved with?). The problem with the shipped version is that it recommends the old ‘netbook-launcher’ package which pulls in unity. So I’ve built a new version of that without that dependency problem and I’ll try and get mterry to update the package for Oneric.

To use/test this branch try this:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:doctormo/netbook-launcher
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install yeold-netbook-launcher netbook-launcher-efl

I hope this ppa will be useful to a few people and do let me know below if you would like a natty version of the package…

Please Poach Our Users

As a member of the Ubuntu community I consider myself as much a part of the Free Software community as any member of any other distro. Each distro has it’s strengths and I have absolutely no problem with users flowing out of Ubuntu and into other FreeDesktop systems such as Debian, Fedora or even closer distros like mint. I don’t even mind users leaving Ubuntu to compile their own distro:

Whoa! Where’s it going?

After good healthy interest in yesterday’s video I decided to post the code in a repository (GPLv3 and CC-BY-SA) and as a second act to deliver Mark Shuttleworth’s feature request which I show off in the new video:

View Video on Blip

This is particularly cool since it means desktops will converge and look the same at certain dates as well as diverge and look different at all other times. What are your thoughts?

Cultural Design Themes

I said I’d give the new Ubuntu light theme some time and I’ve given a long time to looking at it and considering it. Finally I think I can post a fair blog post about it. I’m going to go with conclusions first:

The white “ambiance”: I dislike it, it’s unbalanced, uncoordinated and looks fake. When you first see it there is something not quite right that you can’t put your finger on, it looks bad, but your damned if you can put your finger on why. I think the best analysis of the components of the theme so far has got to be Jay’s post on kbps, it’s a recommended read. My thought: It looks like dirty old plastic.

What struck me at first was how similar this desktop design has to the likeness of a default Mac OSX theme, purple background, left sided buttons, soft plastic style with shiny gleam. So I talked with various community people about it. Most people could see it was an unintentional convergence of style, form and depth. It’s the spirit of the Mac if not it’s exact clone.

The buttons on the left side is a terrible idea, unconventional, forced for an LTS release they decided to do something far too experimental and invoke the ire of a lot of people. I have some people here in Massachusetts who deliver and manage computers to local businesses for a living and they were all for pushing 9.10 on their customers. But they’ve decided to be weary of 10.04 just because of the buttons, they believe it’s a _really_ bad design and the way it was done has harmed trust in the design of Ubuntu for them.

That’s sad and it’s the kind of thing I hoped wouldn’t happen.

I will be changing the theme on my own computers to a more traditional theme and I’ve asked a number of future users of the machines what they would prefer and so far none of them have said they would like the Ambience theme or the left aligned buttons so I plan on removing these default themes from the PXE boot install.

Ground Control 1.6 and Website

Hey everyone,

I’m pleased to announce the release of Ground Control 1.6, these feature features minor improvements and fixes but the main change is fixing the launchpad openid problem that stopped all new users of ground control from enjoying the integration.

I’m also pleased to announce the new ground control website which was very kindly designed by Brett Alton and produced by myself for this release. You can get the new version 1.6 from the download link on the website and please do use the Latest / PPA as the version in Lucid is 1.5 and still suffers from the launchpad openid login bug.

Any thoughts and comments please post them here, but any bugs please post them to the launchpad bug tracker.