30 March 2011

The story of a poster or the making of Fii Liber Land

The task was forgotten, sitting untouched for months, when I was reminded about it (and perhaps assigned in the tracker): make a poster design for the Fii Liber project, to be put at Ceata's headquarters.

I got the "Fii Liber Land" concept right away in my head, but it was too complicated (so I thought) and I was not in the mood for drawing it, so postponed it for a while, over a week, during which I kept working on demotivational posters (more on that in a couple of weeks, the project is not ready to be announced), while trying to simplify the idea and do something easy, which I would be able to do in the blink of an eye and no effort.

Time passed and I was unable to come with a simplified form, so build my courage and went for the whole shebang: I could get away with the simple kite (the Fii Liber logo) on a blue sky and the clouds from the current website header along with a text like "Fii Liber. Noi suntem liberi! Tu?" ("Bee Free. We are free! You?") but that was less than optimal: the kite and the clouds do not match in their visual style (I made the kite logo on my usual style but when it came to the clouds I was "busy" and skipped the task) and... I wanted to make a point and I am not the person to step back from a controversy.

Fii Liber is queued for an infrastructure upgrade, will be migrated to Drupal 7, and with this it will receive a new theme, which I find boring, corporate-like and bad for our "normal users" audience (obviously, some people in the team disagree, so they want the change). The poster is supposed to show the friendly and informal image I envision for the project.

But I talked already too much, time for some pretty pictures! Here is the poster design I came with:

poster fii liber

As you can see, it represents a happy land with hallmarks of life, technology and culture (as Ceata is an organisation promoting Free arts and technology) with a kite (the logo) flying freely over it. Of course, there are some stereotypes included, like Dracula's castle, a Modavian painted church or the Endless Column (do I need to also talk about sheep?)

Now the work is not done :) From my point of view it may be, but since the design is Free and a group has different visions, modifications may happen: the Ceata logo, which is not loved any more may get axed (in what I see as a mistake for growing the identity) and some text may get added at the bottom, where I intentionally didn't allow the space for.

As said, done, time to go forward, staying a bit more in the poster land... a bit of work is planned today on the demotivational side :)

24 March 2011

First thing to do after a Firefox 4 install

tabs where they belong

  1. go to View -> Toolbars
  2. uncheck "Tabs on Top"
  3. Profit!
Now Firefox is once again consistent with the rest of my desktop.

23 March 2011

Proud to be European or Fx4 5M

5 million downloads in less than 24 hours and the adoption rate does not show any sign of slowing down, I guess it was a much awaited release. While we were asleep, NA closed the gap, from ~50% to ~75% but as usual they are trailing behind, let's count again at 10M which I guess it will be about tomorrow.

fx4 5m

From my part, I exercised my BOFH powers and deployed it since yesterday at my [small business] workplace, but .ro is weak so far, less than, for example, 1/10 compared with .de (at ~1/4 of population size).

22 March 2011

Firefox 4 taking over the world

Recorded a few minutes ago from http://glow.mozilla.org/, by now the counter is already at 849.233

21 March 2011

Demotivational Posters with GIMP

Having a lot of unplanned free time time on my hands and bing in exceptionally good spirits and getting my hands of a few useful pictures, I decided it is the time (wow! almost a year passed!) to write yet another graphic tutorial, this time about creating a demotivational poster with GIMP.Something like this:

demotivational posters

read more

17 March 2011

When uploading to Wikimedia Commons a few photos taken in the last weekend in Târgoviște, it was the perfect opportunity to remember how difficult is to pay attention when filling all the metadata and notice how plenty of apps on my GNOME desktop are able to upload to various proprietary services like flickr, Picasaweb or facebook, but none I know of will make it easy to upload to Wikimedia. Or there is one and I didn't do my searching homework well? Or it is deliberately so to keep the spam under control?

Update: as suggested in the comments, I tried commonist, a Scala/webstart app, which is not bad at all, not as desktop integrated as a real app would be, not as easy to launch and missing a few features, but it does 90% of the needed job... is probably the best option.


PS: yes, at the first look seeing the splash I wondered if I caught a virus or trojan...

Update: after using the tool for another upload, I think I have to adjust my rating: it does 75% of the job :)

15 March 2011

The Thunderdome - A GNOME Wars Comic

thunderdome - retarded gnome

Watching the FOSS blogosphere, is pretty much like news television before some elections: two sides throwing mud at each other, trying to win you on their side, but in the end, no matter who wins, you still be screwed. Really, as in politics the lesser of two evils is still evil, in GNOME the lesser of two retards is still retard.

And as in politics the people reaction is not to vote, also in software it can be not to upgrade. Honestly, I don't care what will happen in the Ubuntu camp, but I am pessimistic about the Fedora camp: even if the users revolt for, pulling a number completely out of my ass, only half of the regular downloads, the poisonous people won't get fired, they will talk their employer into the excuse as a normal trend of people moving to mobile device and will make it even worse.

11 March 2011

RLUG meet, March 2011

Yesterday we had the March edition of the monthly LUG meet, held again in a room at the Polithnica University of Bucharest, with help from our friends at ROSEdu.


This time it was short, we had only 3 talks, each of them being "lightning" (mine was the longest, at around 12 minutes), so for the next time we need you as a speaker too. The event ended with some traditional pizzas and beers.

The talks covered:

The GNOME wars

There is so much noise on the web these days about the big flame: GNOME with the Shell versus Canonical with Unity, I find very amusing the naivety of many people not understanding its roots.

In fact is very simple: the Linux world is going to war, a war between Red Hat and Canonical and GNOME just happened to be the first big visible battle on this war... expect more like this to come while Canonical feels the need to grow and at some point start making some money and Red Hat feels its dominant position challenged more and more.

Who will win? Is still too early to tell.

09 March 2011

F16 name proposal: Lock Up Your Daughter

The submissions are open for the Fedora 16 name proposals and there are cute drawings on Planet supporting some of them, so as immature as I am, I couldn't stop myself plugging my tablet and quickly drawing something (nothing fancy, just a quick scribble) for what I think is the best possible code name for F16:

I can already hear "huh?" from people not understanding this, so used the tablet a little more, scribbled some additional text and here is a full graphic:

The voices in my head are still "huh?", so I guess is the time for more words: after the huge fiasco Fedora 15 is going to be, we very likely will go downhill, towards extinction and the only way to survive will be to get the hackers back in power. If that will happen, expect them to take no prisoners.

Now only to find a link between "lovelock" and "lock up your daughter" and the proposal can be officially submitted...

08 March 2011

Breaking News: Fedora 15 *Beta* leaked! Now with desktop icons!

The Alpha release of Fedora 15 is expected to hit the news on a few hours (the torrents are already up if you think it is a reason to hurry), which makes this leak even more sensational, as the Beta release is scheduled in about one month from now.

It was leaked from trusted sources the biggest feature that will hit the code in the meantime, based on user feedback, and the info is certain, it is proved by the screenshot below, taken from actually running code: icons will be returning to the GNOME 3.0 desktop.

fedora 15 beta

The info is even juicier, not any icons will be provided but the default install of the Desktop (GNOME) Live CD will come with the set of icons which are more useful for any desktop user, shortcuts for downloading and installing proper desktops, like KDE, Xfce and LXDE and also for wiping the Linux partitions.

Unfortunately a large-scale user survey revealed most new potential users will choose the last option (returning to Windows), after the suicidal moves that happened inside the GNOME desktop with the migration from the 2.x to 3.x branch, this is why this option is the last in the list, with the hope a few will still remain as Linux users in general and Fedora users in particular.

An unconfirmed last-minute rumor tells until final the list may be completed until final release in May this year with another option, for downloading and installing Ubuntu with Unity, but it comes from a less trustworthy source, so keep it so far only as a rumor.

03 March 2011

[p]review: Fedora 15 + GNOME 3.0, a skippable release

So now that the Alpha release for Fedora 15 has been declared gold, all the features are in, only polish and bug fixing are to be applied until final, is the time for previews are reviews, it was also the time for me to look at the new default desktop and understand what is coming. The executive summary of my review is: from a desktop point of view, this is a release to skip, and I am not talking about the Alpha, but about F15 altogether.

As you can see from the first look, the desktop is very bare, one single panel at the top, no icons, no files, no applets, no widgets, no nothing. And the panel and its widgets are dark, Windows and OS X style.

gnome shell

What I tested here is a very fresh version: GNOME 2.91.6 from Fedora 15 Alpha RC2:
gnome shell

Playing with the Desktop Live image, our default download there is very little to do other than getting a feel of the desktop, practically there is no app to use, which is a shame and a disservice to fedora... the ISO is 567MB for i686, respectively 568MB for x86_64, with plenty of room left available for a few useful goodies, that would make it an useful tool.
gnome shell

As with the apps is very little to talk about (at least we have in a beta of Firefox 4), let's move back to the desktop feel: for me not having a second panel with an open windows list so no quick application switch is possible turns into a huge productivity killer. No icons on the desktop means a big paradigm switch and very slow access to my files and to the general file system and no applets on the panel means little usefulness of my desktop - for example what good is Gnote now if I don't have access to my notes with 2 click any more?

And our friends from the Desktop Team succeeded to make it feel "Fedora" as little as they could, I am not talking now about the striped background that was pushed kindly asked for, I talk about a non-blue icon set in the file manager, not-blue window titles an widgets (funny, see how the scroll bar is still blue in Firefox but not in Nautilus?), the dark theme... all those break a tradition since before Fedora was Fedora, a decision made behind closed doors by a very small group of people.
gnome shell

I didn't need more than 5 minutes to understand this is not for me, the developers made GNOME 3.0 worse from my usability point of view than Xfce and even than LXDE, so the next step was to try the backup option, the classic panel was supposed to be available as a fallback option and providing a "classic" style of work. Unfortunately, the settings are now re-organized in an awkward control panel where is no option to switch modes.
gnome shell

Unable to find a switch, the first idea was to reboot, degrade the video settings, so hardware acceleration isn't available and the panel kicks in automatically. This was an opportunity to learn I can't reboot my PC, only shut it down or suspend... hello! this is a desktop, not a portable! And also learned I don't have handy access (where the panel applets are gone?) to safely umount the USB stick where I saved my screenshots.
gnome shell

So reboot and degrade the video mode.

And surprise! As I expected, the panel is not the classic feel promised to people complaining about a paradigm shift, but is a half-assed effort to provide... something. It is half shell and half panel.
gnome panel

There is a window list, there are some applets, you can put launchers on the panel, the desktop is empty, with no files or launchers, the colors are an uneven mix of light and dark, the window widgets are completely different... at least you can use Gnote and switch apps.
gnome panel

So not even the "classic" mode is not good for me, time to end the review, an opportunity to notice neither here I have easy access to safely umount the USB stick where I saved the screenshots, there are some applets available, but only very few.
gnome panel

  • for me, GNOME Shell as it will be available in Fedora 15 is not an option, my advice is if you can live with KDE, Xfce or LXDE instead, use one of those, they are better desktops. If not, do like me: stay with GNOME 2.32, it is a so better desktop compared with those other options;
  • if you hope the Shell problems will be fixed in the couple of months until final, have a touch of reality: this is Alpha, is feature complete, only small bugfixes will get in forward, the problems outlined above are intentional decisions made from a flawed design, they won't be fixed this release cycle
  • my faith with GNOME in Fedora is very low, the designers and developers refuse to listen, labelling all the non-enthusiastic feedback as "stop energy". Unity, the GNOME fork driven by Canonical does not look better either, so I can't think about a positive outcome, even if a massive user backslash will happen, the people in charge are so arrogant, they will not acknowledge their mistakes.