Next Step towards GNUStep within KDE

Back in the days I started using GNU/Linux, the only user-friendly desktop environment available was KDE 1. So I started using KDE 1. Afterwards, considering license issue of Qt (that was no Libre Software at that time) KDE was depending on, considering progress being made by the GNOME project, I switched to GNOME 1.

Then, my brother Philippe advised me to give a try to WindowMaker. I did. At first, I was puzzled. But finally, I adopted this desktop environment inspired by NextStep. The main point is to kick the taskbar and the big start menu and, instead, going through apps with the right or middle click on the desk and having each important app to get a dock, which one could be used to launch the app or show the app if already launched.

Years afterwards, WindowMaker seemed to make no longer any progress and I wanted a modern desktop environment. Which means I wanted a desktop environment in which every piece of software is neatly integrated, where configuring new features is easy – while toying with both WPrefs and wmakerconf was not. And Qt was freed. So I get back to KDE. GNOME was longer an option, as I do not trust GNOME leaders like Miguel De Icaza to make the right decisions (the Nautilus and Eazel story was revealing enough for me: trying to behave corporatish, they chose the worse software to be the GNOME file manager, but they did while it wasn’t even coded, they only trusted a newly founded company made by people with no experience in Libre Software to do the right and good thing) and it was no surprise to me when HelixCode/Ximian/whatever-crap-it-is-renamed started to sell proprietary software under the denomination commercial software after implementing .NET, I expected nothing more from people talking about Open Source mumbo-jumbo ESR style, instead of Free Sofware, while they were getting popular just because of their involvment in a GNU project. KDE is powerful, rock-solid. But it is also ├╝ber-conventional. They know what is working good in MS Windows, they clone it, improve it and release it. Moreover, KDE tries to address a broad audience, so KDE is made to seem familiar even to people having no clue about GNU/Linux. Moving back to KDE meant loosing the interesting design of WindowMaker.

Then, I had the opportunity to look at an Apple Macbook Pro. The dock, for good reasons, reminded me of WindowMaker. And finally, I found Daisy. It is a clone of Mac OS X dock, it works like the WindowMaker dock. But it is a plasmoid for KDE. It’s only just clumsier to set up (no easy drag and drop), prone to bugs (sometimes, a click on the dock app launcher start two instance). But it works. And I trashed once more the taskbar I definitely do not like.

KDE with Daisy, WindowMaker/Mac Os X style!

There is no Debian package, so I went to Ubuntu plasma-widget-daisy page. There, I downloaded the source tarball and the debian part (which contains the debian folder necessary to built the package). I extracted them all in a temporary directory. Then:

1/ I edited the debian/changelog file to add a new entry.

2/ I edited “Build-Depends:” in the debian/control file to depends on the pkg-kde-tools version that comes with my system (Debian unstable).

3/ I installed necessary dependancies to build the package – as the package was not in debian trunk, I made the guess that it had the same deps than the similar package plasma-widget-ktorrent:

# apt-get build-dep plasma-widget-ktorrent

4/ I rebuilt it:

$ dpkg-buildpackage -r fakeroot plasma-widget-daisy

5/ Then I installed the package.

You can fetch my plasma-widget-daisy_0.0.4.22a-0ubuntu2-fordebian1_amd64.deb package built against debian sid (unstable) for an amd64 architecture.

I also posted a RFP (request for packaging) against wnpp in debian BTS (bug tracking system).

Lightest terminal: urxvt in daemon/client mode?

Thinkpad 600EI still use an old IBM Thinkpad 600E that I bought second hand a decade ago.

It still works. Well, the battery is dead, I added RAM as much as the motherboard can handle (2x 128 MB DIMM modules + 50 MB onboard module – something like that) and I changed, several years ago, the hard-drive, replacing the stock one with a more recent rescued from a short-lived Acer Aspire that belonged to my brother.

It still works. Sure, it is subject to bugs that will probably never get fixed, but none that you can’t work around.

It still works. But… But it is not a very fast computer however. It is not really that it runs slower than in the past. It is not really that we get used to faster computer. The fact is that software developers have not much reasons to write code light enough to run smoothly on this old piece of junk. So they don’t, most of them.

You end up running obsolete software or be very glad to find pieces of software like Midori (lightweight webbrowser based on WebKit).

Yes, yes, I will get to the point.

The point is whatever you can get can make a difference. I tried to run dash instead of bash. Bleua. That’s fine for scripts. But I cannot live with no completion at all. So I stayed with the Bourne Again Shell. But I had to cut of most of completions (how now, the endless scripts in /etc/bash_completion.d) to avoid waiting hours to get a shell to start.

So here comes urxvt. urxvt is fast. Like aterm. But it supports UTF-8. And it matters.
But the really nice thing is that urvxt includes a daemon/client mode. You just have to start the daemon at the begin of the X session, for instand in having the following in ~/.xsession :

#!/bin/dash
# terminal daemon
urxvtd -q -f -o
# desktop
export BROWSER=midori
wmaker

Then, everytime you need a terminal, call uxrvtc instead of urxvt.

You might also want to add in ~/.Xdefaults something like:

Rxvt*background: gray23
Rxvt*foreground: white
Rxvt*troughColor: gray33
Rxvt*scrollColor: gray13
Rxvt*scrollstyle: plain

Rxvt*visualBell: true
Rxvt*saveLines: 2000
Rxvt*urlLauncher: midori
Rxvt*scrollTtyOutput: false
Rxvt*scrollWithBuffer: true

Rxvt*color12: SkyBlue2

There are no real-life drawbacks that I encountered so far.

March 9, 2010 Update: After reading interesting test about terms perfs (in french) which shows how slow xterm is, how fast konsole is, but how fast and with less memory usage urxvt is, I even started using urxvt on my usual workstation that runs KDE with the following .Xdefaults (here, we use transparency and font anti-aliasing, as the hardware can obviously handle it)

urxvt*visualBell: true
urxvt*saveLines: 12000
urxvt*urlLauncher: konqueror
urxvt*scrollTtyOutput: false
urxvt*scrollWithBuffer: true

urxvt*depth: 32
urxvt*background: rgba:0000/0000/0000/dddd
urxvt*borderColor: rgba:0000/0000/0000/dddd
urxvt*foreground: white

urxvt*troughColor: gray33
urxvt*scrollColor: rgba:0000/0000/0000/0fff
urxvt*scrollstyle: plain
urxvt*scrollBar_right: true

urxvt*font: xft:Bitstream Vera Sans Mono:style=Regular:pixelsize=13:antialias=true
urxvt*color12: SkyBlue2

I even added the following as /etc/X11/Xsession.d/74urxvtd_start


# In order to activate urxvt daemon at X session launch
# simply place use-urxvtd into your /etc/X11/Xsession.options file

URXVTD=/usr/bin/urxvtd
URXVTD_OPTIONS="-q -f -o"

if grep -qs ^use-urxvtd "$OPTIONFILE"; then
if [ -x "$URXVTD" ]; then
$URXVTD $URXVTD_OPTIONS
fi
fi

and added the string use-urxvtd in /etc/X11/Xsession.options but that’s a bit overkill as debian already provides urxvtcd that fires up urxvtc while making sure urxwtd is running.