Saturday, 30 May 2009

My Desktop

First I have to say that Fedora Desktop keeps improving with each release but there are still corners in which some love is apparently missing. So, to have assorted list of what I use and what I don't like about it I've decided to create a short post. Let me emphasize that I use my laptop both for school and for fun and it has only Fedora on it.

My usecases

  • school duties – writing various homeworks, thesis, e-mail and IM communication, research on internet
  • fun – watching movies, listening to music, ripping audio CDs, surfing web
  • fedora – coding, design, packaging, using various web services

What I use to get things done


The communication channel I use most is e-mail. Somehow I've always found all webmail's not good for me (with the best so far being probably yahoo mail, closely followed by gmail) so I use desktop client. In past I've switched away from thunderbird – it didn't fit in my desktop, it tended to download same messages multiple times, I had to install enigmail extension to get gpg working, I wasn't comfortable with it,... And now I am using Evolution. Well, it's a great application and handles and manages my mail very well, but it's slow, slow, slow and once again slow. Plus, there are zillions of functions I will never use... So I am currently looking for a nice replacement, my requirements are:
  • Handles POP3, IMAP and SMPT
  • Translates gmail's lables to folders
  • Knows how to handle GPG
  • Can remember my passwords
  • Has nice gnomeish simple GUI with icons coming from icon theme
  • Handles HTML mail as well
  • Integration with some system-wide contact book would be better than having it's own...
  • Can preview attachments inside messages
  • Can handle thousands of messages without significant performance loses
  • Can gracefully handle multiple e-mail accounts
  • Is FLOSS

I so far didn't find any that would fullfill all the points above. Do you know of any?

For instant messaging I use jabber, icq and msn, where the latter two via jabber transports. This means I have quite wide range of possible clients to use. Over the ages, I grew accustomed to gajim – and it's latest versions can even render math expresions using LaTeX. The only con I see with this client is that it tends to start slow and opening messages windows isn't fast either...

Occassionally (usually when I need to discuss something quickly with other design-team members) I also use IRC. I never grew accustomed to this service and have had some serious issues setting it up... Luckily, Empathy can handle this pretty gracefully (as oposed to X-Chat which seemed almost impossible to set up).

The rest of the web

So, in the past I've been using firefox (I was used to it from Windows, so I naturally picked it up when I switched to linux). And as I grew more accustomed to linux and gnome world, I've also grown away from firefox. Towards epiphany. I've been a happy user of this fast and simple web browser, until webkit revolution. My primary browser is now midori, for pages that don't work with it epiphany and for testing purposes I also have an unstable build of epiphany. WebKit feels faster than gecko and also is better integrated into the linux environment, plus the webkitgtk development has been really rapid these past few months. I cannot wait the moment I could switch from gecko altogether. As of now, the problems that are still blocking it are inability to access anidb from webkitgtk based browsers and inability to authenticate to koji.

For flash I use swfdec, but it's still a no-go if you expect a rich flash experience (which I do not). I use it mainly for some simpler flash-enabled websites. Youtube is best with totem's youtube plugin ;-) I use liferea for RSS and Atom feeds.

Homeworks and thesis

Well, to cut it short, I use TeX (csplain if you care about the details) for this purpose and the source files I write in gedit. This seems to be a killer combination, even to such extent that the only application from office suites that I keep installed because I occasionaly use it, is gnumeric... And, to not forgot about actually viewing various documents, I use evince. Works like a charm for PDFs, postscript and DJVU, which are the most common electronic document formats I view. Also, not to forgot one of the most improtant things for a physicist, gnuplot is the best application for making high quality plots.


Somehow, I feel like a do-it-all-in-notepad type of guy, because I do all the code writing in gedit. I think it's a great and powerful application, but from time to time I tend to think that some IDE goodies might help speed things up... But everytime I try to import my stuff to eclipse, it ends up with a totally nonworking disaster. I haven't tried anjuta for quite a long time though, maybe it would work better.

As long as version control systems go, I am fairly acquainted with CVS and GIT (and like the latter much, much more) and from time to time I also use SVN or HG, but I've never grew accustomed to these two.


There's not much to say, appart from great thanks to lkundrak for providing us with the greatest and latest version of inkscape. Yep, you guess right – inkscape is doing a tremendously good job when working with vector graphics and the development seems pretty active too. Thanks to it's great abilities I use it not only for icon design but also for various other things like drawing images to accompany my thesis (because it can render LaTeX formulas and can export images to postscript, it's really helpful).

From time to time I also use gimp, but I am not much into raster graphics so I am not very skilled with it.


Well, ranging from soundjuicer through rhythmbox to totem and mplayer there is not much to complain about... Great applications working great, although rhythmbox somehow does not feel as much gnomeish as other applications to me...

My most favourite applications

Well, these are applications I definitely want to mention because I am really satisfied with them (in no particular order)
  • Epiphany
  • Midori
  • Totem
  • Inkscape
  • GEdit
  • Sound Juicer
  • Nautilus
  • mc
  • git
  • PackageKit

And which are your favourite applications?

My most used applications

There are also some applications that are running almost all the time I am logged in. These are
  • evolution
  • rhythmbox
  • midori
  • epiphany
  • liferea
  • gajim
  • gedit
  • gnome-terminal
  • nautilus

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Scars on Humanity

Er... I don't usually blog about the what-am-I-thinking stuff (partly because my blog is aggregated on Fedora Planet and I don't want to be like certain others who frequently post about non-linux related stuff...) but somehow I couldn't help it this time. This post is gonna be about mostly about racism and related things so if you consider that topic to much controverse or unfitting, just skip the rest.

You might ask why? Well, I've recently picked up an interesting anime called イヴの時間 (Time of Eve) placed in a probably-not-so-distant future and focused on social problems with androids (human looking robots). And it striked me how much the problems depicted there have in common with the various you-are-different-therefore-we-must-lynch-you types of behaviour. In the aforementioned anime the main theme is the striking difference between how the androids feel (yes you read right, there is much more to them than just looking like humans, they also have emotions and such) and how they are treated (as mere machines).

I think this 'treat' is somehow interconected with mankind's whole history. Some of the prominent examples of this behaviour include (to more or less extent) the witch hunt from middle ages, mass Indian murdering when conquering over Americas, black slaves and subseqent hatred towards black people, Hitler's move against Judaism and in the current times I'd mention fear of Arabic people or animosity towards Gipsies. And looking through movies it's pretty much common to depict aliens and/or robots as a threat to mankind (and I think the reasons are pretty much the same as in the previous examples).

Now, I think all this stuff 'is complete balls' (to quote Stephen Fry). I mean I laugh at rasist jokes, I laugh at religion-related jokes, I laugh at jokes about physicists (which depicts us as unsociable, being only men or ugly women, totaly impractical...) when I find them funny and I don't care whether they are 'politically correct'. I think the whole political correctness thing is a totally wrong approach. Because it's encouraging precisely what it tries to fight against – discrimination. One of the examples from my country is usage of two different words for Gipsy people – cikáni and romové. Ever since these people came into the Bohemian and Moravian lands they were called by themselves, as well as other people, cikáni (or cigáni) and now this precise word has been labeled as politically incorrect or even racist. Since their official nationality is 'romská' they are to be referred to as 'romové'.

And to what end? To singling them out. And IMHO that's a problem. Well, yes, these people are socially problematic because they are used to different lifestyle, but have you people ever heard of tolerance? I mean it's wrong to force our lifestyle onto them. When I approach these people I try to act without prejudice. I don't care if the person I am talking to is Czech, Slovak, German, Gipsy, Vietnamese, whatever. The things I care about is whether we have something to talk about. Differences are a good thing and especially cultural and lifestyle differences makes the culture of human kind much more rich. We should learn from each other, listen to each other, not clash.

But to draw some conclusion from this random not-much-connected stream of thoughts... The law in most western countries makes it hard to not discriminate precisely because antidiscrimination paragraphs. If you do not accept a Gipsy/woman into a job because you found a better Czech/man for it you are risking you'll be acused from discrimination. With that thought in mind it's not easy to not discriminate. But yet, one should try to. Don't let the outer differences blind your mind. It does not matter if your friend, lover, employee, teacher, ... has black or white skin, whether he's native or foreigner, whether they're man or woman, whether he's Christian, Muslim or atheist, whether he's handsome or ugly, ... Don't think in groups, think in individuals. Black people have nothing in common save the colour of their skin (and some other characteristics in looks) and there's not a single reason to approach them differently because they are black. It's the stuff you don't see that matters. Also, don't discriminte positively – hiring women just to make the female/male ratio in your company 1:1 is an utmost craziness!

Anyway, these are just my thoughts... you are completely free to disagree with them ;-)

Erm... After re-reading what I've written... Arrr... I suck in philosophy and I think this small wandering into that strange land will have been for a long time the only one (luckily for you for not having to read this nonsense as well as for me for not having to embarrass myself)...

EDIT: Well, to put something linux related... the community around FLOSS is actually a pretty good example of how things would idealy be. We are people from around the whole world, with different nationalities, different beliefs (both in political and religious sense) yet we are able to work and communicate together and produce great things like Fedora. But even there there are times when things go wrong. One of the recent example is one of the negative feedback we received about the Leonidas Beta wallpaper. About the reactions was one of the kind I talk about in the above text – a concern that we have a symbol of worshipping ancient gods (temple) included in the wallpaper. A typical thing I don't give a damn about. Just imagine a world where drawing a temple marks you a public enemy. Indeed a sad imagination.

And now for something completely different:
The 3 most probable causes for extinction of mankind are IMHO:
  1. Selfdestruction
  2. Genetic degeneration combined with global pandemic
  3. Pollution (mainly of air and water)

Have a nice day ;-)

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Leonidas – Lion for Single Screens

Well, a lot of people complained that we dropped the lion head from the default Leonidas backgrounds. Let me state it clear, even if you complain about it now it won't change anything. The decision for that was made quite a long time ago and the reasoning is pretty much based on the feed back we recieved and some deeped thinking. You know, the lion head takes up to about 3/4 of the screen and pretty much everything that is above it is either unreadable or hard discern... Now, while the image is nice a cool, it definitely does not make a good default.

But now back to the main topic – I've added the images with lion for single screens. They're not available in rawhide yet (and due to the freeze won't be for some time), but they're already in koji. I hereby request that people test those. For the default ones the main package is leonidas-backgrounds and needs leonidas-backgrounds-common and leonidas-backgrounds-lion-dual. For the lion ones the main is leonidas-backgrounds-lion and leonidas-backgrounds-lion-dual. In case you'd like to test the if the Beta wallpapers are working, leonidas-backgrounds-landscape package is for you.