More information on what they’re doing can be found over on the GullFOSS Blog.
This sort of thing always worries me. I really wish we had a more formal way of alerting users that functionality was going to go away, rather than just pulling the rug from under their feet when they install a new release.
At Sun, and I’m sure at most other companies that support software products, we have to tell our customers in advance when (certain) features are going away. We can’t just drop them from one release to the next because we’ve gone off the idea.
Personally, I’d like to see GNOME manage this a lot better, perhaps (from the end user’s perspective) via a section in the GNOME release notes that said which features we intended to remove from the next release. The impact of such changes would then have to be thought through well in advance, and there’d be plenty of time to remove the feature, fix any related issues, and properly update the documentation prior to its actual disappearance. And users would have time to prepare for the change, and have the opportunity to raise any sensible objections before the fact, rather than after it.
(This thought isn’t especially new, nor directly aimed at the proposed Windows capplet removal… although I do know that’s a decision that would generate support calls for Sun users and customers, who always scream when anything related to their sloppy focus settings breaks, changes or goes away. Many of them have been using sloppy focus on UNIX desktops since before GNOME or even Linux were first thought of, so it’s not a feature we like to mess with…)
Some of you have probably heard that some folks at Sun have been working on a proposal for a tidied-up GNOME control center shell. Well, at long last, here are some details!
First of all, I should say that I actually have little personal involvement in this project—it’s being led by Kristin Travis and Jenya Gestrin of Sun’s xDesign team… I’m just abusing my position on Planet GNOME to plug what they’re doing And as yet, there’s no production code to speak of, just mockups and Flash prototypes, so there’s still plenty of scope for feedback.
You can download the latest protoypes, peruse numerous mockups, and read about the design process to date (including a usability study on the capplet categorisation) on the Usability Project’s Control Center Whiteboard pages.
This is a neat idea (if not technically all that novel)… log in to Sun Learning Services portal, and you can play with a virtual instance of OpenSolaris for up to an hour.
It does require Java, there are only 8 slots available at any one time, and right now they’re still provisioning OpenSolaris 2008.11 rather than the newer and shinier 2009.06. But if you want to give OpenSolaris a quick whirl, you might find it more convenient than downloading the LiveCD.
More info in Brian Leonard’s blog entry.
In VirtualBox 2.2.0, which was released today, that is. The new OpenGL acceleration for Linux and Solaris guests allows compiz to run very nicely in a virtual machine. (Click the thumbnail for a Theora video of compiz running in an OpenSolaris guest in OS X.)
EDIT: I suppose I ought to add there’s some other cool stuff in 2.2.0 as well, particularly the ability to import/export appliances in OVF format.
Sun released VirtualBox 2.1.0 today. In addition to bugfixes, new features include:
- Support for hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V) on Mac OS X hosts
- Support for 64-bit guests on 32-bit host operating systems (experimental; see user manual, chapter 1.6, 64-bit guests, page 16)
- Added support for Intel Nehalem virtualization enhancements (EPT and VPID; see user manual, chapter 1.2, Software vs. hardware virtualization (VT-x and AMD-V), page 10))
- Experimental 3D acceleration via OpenGL (see user manual, chapter 4.8, Hardware 3D acceleration (OpenGL), page 66)
- Experimental LsiLogic and BusLogic SCSI controllers (see user manual, chapter 5.1, Hard disk controllers: IDE, SATA (AHCI), SCSI, page 70)
- Full VMDK/VHD support including snapshots (see user manual, chapter 5.2, Disk image ﬁles (VDI, VMDK, VHD), page 72)
- New NAT engine with signiﬁcantly better performance, reliability and ICMP echo (ping) support (bugs #1046, #2438, #2223, #1247)
- New Host Interface Networking implementations for Windows and Linux hosts with easier setup (replaces TUN/TAP on Linux and manual bridging on Windows)
Downloads for Solaris, OpenSolaris, Linux, OS X and Windows are available here.
Sun are officially launching OpenSolaris 2008.11 today… although as the name suggests, it was pretty much ready to go at the end of last month, and those in the know have been able to download it from both the community website and the distro website since then You can join us at 1700 UTC today for a web chat with some of the people involved.
Glynn has written up a good summary of new features, which include GNOME 2.24, ZFS Time Slider, accessible install, and big improvements to plug’n’play printer support, automatic network configuration, and laptop suspend/resume. The number of additional packages available in the repositories has greatly improved since the 2008.05 release, and we now have various repos and a new process that will make contributing packages easier than ever.
Roman Strobl has produced a 12 minute screencast to show off some of the new bits, and Erwann Chénedé has a shorter one that focuses exclusively on Time Slider, which seems to have been generating a lot of interest.
Of course, 2008.11 still has all the usual Solaris goodness like ZFS, Zones and Dtrace built-in, with the Solaris Trusted Extensions now just a click away too, giving you access to one of the most secure desktops on the planet*.
Slightly crummy name, but great to see the first phase of the ZFS Time Slider project that Erwann, Niall and Tim have been working on coming together in time for our OpenSolaris 2008.11 release next month.
It works a bit like another company’s product of a similar name, except right now ours only takes regular snapshots to the same disk, rather than backing up to removable media (but we’ll probably end up doing that too). It’s not quite the auto-save function that Federico was talking about last week and at GUADEC, but it’s certainly nice to see some of the power of ZFS in use on the desktop at last.
It works fine for the hicolor icons, but the advice for themes that want to over-ride them is rather vague: “You can also provide icons for other themes in here [$pkgdatadir/icons], by installing them into a subdirectory for that theme.”The question is, who’s responsible for installing them? The theme or the app? Seems to me there are problems either way.
If the theme installs them, first it has to find out where that app installed its hicolor app-specific icons. It will usually be /usr/share/appname/icons/hicolor, but there’s no guarantee about the value of $pkgdatadir for any particular application.
Once over that hurdle, the theme is now stomping in the application’s territory. At best, uninstalling the app will leave a $pkgdatatdir/icons directory on your disk, containing a bunch of icons that aren’t going to be used any more. At worst, the app uninstall might just lazily blow away the $pkgdatadir directory altogether, wantonly deleting files that were installed by another package (the theme).
On the other hand, though, we surely can’t expect each app to be responsible for installing icons for every theme that wants to override them. Distros can of course patch those apps downstream with their branded icons du jour, but that will soon become cumbersome when there are more than two or three such apps. And independent theme artists, such as those who contribute to art.gnome.org, don’t have the luxury of patching any apps at all. So their themes would never be able to override app-specific icons.
So what to do? The more I work with themes, the more I wish they’d all go away and we’d just use a single, identifiably-GNOME look-and-feel like the grown-up desktops do