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Hey everybody, its rant time!

So, firstly theres the annoying issue with wordpress. Yes, thats you you annoying blog site. Eating up my cojmments and putting them in the wrong places. It only seems to do it occasionally, so its hard to diagnose, and I cba doing anything about it – but an irritance none the less.

Then, theres firefox, good old Mozilla Firefox 3 beta 5. No-one quite knows why its the default in hardy, considering it is supposed to be an LTS. Maybe it makes sense to work towards having firefox 3, but the thing its ITS SO DARN CRASHY. Yes, and (afaict) this is not Ubuntus fault. Its you firefox!
CRASH. Reload. Do something. CRASH. Reload. Try something else. CRASH.
And you may think I’m exagguariting when I describe it like that, but I’m not! It seems to have got worse, to the point where I can have 4 crashes in under one minute – I’m serious! I mean what on earth is going on? I guess it must be something to do with my particular setup. However, I’ve tried running in safemode and removing all plugins, but just the same: CRASH CRASH CRASH.

Well, at least I have a clue whats causing it. Its when I close a tab of a complicated page (thing Google Reader or Google Mail) in a particular way, either whilst a different tab is active (middle click) or when there are only two tabs open. So I know what to avoid, its less annoying. But all the same, a crash every 10 minutes, it takes the p*ss.

I tried talking to a #firefox guy about it, but it seems difficult to get debug information from my version of firefox. He said to try the official builds, so maybe I will when I get the chance. Maybe see if has been fixed in the nightlies. Weirdest thing is, I had no trouble before beta 5 (other people have been noticing this too). But, the annoying thing is, Mr Crash Crash Crash is in a long term support release!!!?!?!?!??!?!?!

Okay, enough of that rant, and onto another Docuemnt Formats, an absolute pita. My brother did a document at home, using OpenOffice on Windows (we’ve never bothered buying Word, and OpenOffice is so much better than Works; also, fwiw, its my printer and not my brother that is the freedom hater). Anyway, he takes it to school, and happily it opens. A vast improvement over a few months ago. However, here’s the wonderful thing – the reason it works is because of a filter designed to add .docx support – yes! that wonderful lie of an open standard and pile of mess OOOXML makes an appearance. However, as if the irony was painful enough, Word and its plugin, in their infinite wisodm decide to save the document, after my brother has made some changes, in .docx. Yes, thats write! It steals a .odf, rapes it and leaves it as a .docx!!!!!!!!

So, now my brother comes home and complains to me about the fact he can’t open his work! So, I endure the 20 minute wait to get OOo beta 3 running, only to find, the document is NOT OPENED PROPERLY!!!!! And, of course, I know this is not Open Offices fault, its god damn OOXML. Open standard with multiple implementations my foot:

  1. Its not open, because no-one can understand the mess of a “specification” that they have put out (oh, im sorry, theres a newer one, but that ones just imaginary isn’t it). Which is why Open Office have a hard time writing import filters.
  2. Microsoft Word does not implement it! The files it produces differ from the spec!!!!!!!! No wonder its not compatible!

Btw, the point about multiple implementations is that OpenOffice is not an implementation of the Open Shamdard! No, its just for compatiblity with the non-OOXML files that Word produces. And as you can see, that format is lovely and clear, and OpenOffice are finding it easy to implement….. NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, that brings me onto one last annoyance, lack of ext2/3 support in Windows. (My brother wanted a look at one of my old documents). I have to install this rubishy freeware. Actually, the freeware itself is okay (its not freedomware, but seeing as you’re running windows anyway, who really cares), but if Windows crashes, as is its favorite pastime, every mounted ext3 must be checked at next Linux boot. Maybe I need to find something that can easily be turned off when not in use.


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?