I’ve switched to the Ubuntu Hardy Beta as my main OS, which is also a switch from using KDE to using GNOME. However the DE switch didn’t really affect me much.

The main things I like about GNOME is the fact that firefox and compiz integrate well (the later is probably partly the ubuntu team’s work.

However, I do have a few issues with the system (which isn’t surprising for a beta).

  • Firefox 3 can not handle apt: links properly without being told where the apturl binary is.
  • Firefox plugins (ie. java and flash) do not load as expected and I had to do some jiggling to get it to work. (Firefox seems to look in /usr/lib/firefox-3.0 and /usr/lib/xulrunner-1.9b4, but surprisingly not /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins or /usr/lib/firefox/plugins)
  • The add user dialog box does not work (probably due to bugs in the new policykit  integration)

And there a few things I would like to see added in future versions:

  • The ability to restore items from the trash
  • A passwordless login option for gdm (I solved this rather messily by using null passwords for non sudoer users)
  • Policykit intergration into more apps. It would be great if the “permission denied” dialog in gedit would let me esculate to root, it would save me so much time.

I also found pidgin to be an annoyance. It does not show msn personal messages which for me, is quite important. In fact, I am now using Emesene, which is designed specifically for the WLM (aka msn) network so does the important things like personal messages, offline messages and even has a plugin for the Plus! colours. Also, it is quite similar to the layout of the official client without the ugliness that aMSN has. All in all, I would recommend it it as a drop in replacement for people who currently use the MS client, especially as it is still being actively developed.

I also had a mess about with the gnome themes, which despite what the KDE folk might say, was nicely customizable.  I got interested in the application transparency that murrine can provide. Unfotunately, this is only available in the svn build. So, no problem – im confortable with compiling my own stuff. However, I wanted to try and install it via a deb package, to make future maintenance easier. So, I’ve been trying out packaging which isn’t all that hard, once you get the hang of it. Hopefully I’ll be able to put these skills to use. I’m building up a (very small) apt repository.

So, in the end after some “learning” (can be frustrating sometimes) I got murrine installed. So, a few plugins later and I have transparent apps (fwiw emesene has support built in).  However, there were a couple of things bothering me:

  1. tbh, its not all that great – just the transparent gnome-terminal would have sufficed for me. It looks a bit messy at times (perhaps more blur is needed?)
  2. Why is this not in the distros yet? Vista has had this for a year! Where is the innovation of the open source community? Or is the answer see 1, is it just not a big deal to most people?