Monthly Archives: April 2005

Antarctic Cooling

TCS has a story that discusses some of the broader facts of the AP “Glaciers Shrinking” stories that were popular on last weeks Earth Day. The article accurately portrays the intent of many news agencies who reported on the AP story (with titles like “Scientists Say Antarctic Glaciers Shrinking.” its hard to miss the intent.) He also points out some little known facts concerning the Antarctic Continent. Most people who are not climatologists have the mistaken belief that Antarctica is getting warmer; while in fact the opposite is true.

While the planet may very well be getting warmer; human catalyst global warming theories generally have, as one of their primary indicators, the prediction of Antarctic warming. Antarctica (or at least the vast majority of it) has been getting cooler for almost 35 years as has been documented a number of times by outside sources. The good news is that some organizations actually presented the AP story in the light it was intended; not as the scare tactic that Earth Day advocates wanted it to be.

You can check out the original text of the AP story here.

Gnome vs KDE: Part 2

Got the heads-up for this from Michael Pyne. The newest version of Gnome, 2.10, will include among its many features; the editor will be able to highlight the current line, highlight matching braces, and single-click preference in the file manager will also affect the archive manager.

Seriously, at this blazing pace Gnome should catch up to Windows around 2075 (assuming Windows does nothing) and maybe it will catch up to KDE sometime around 2120 (assuming again, no action on KDE’s part.) How is it that such a desktop is even considered in the same league as something like OSX, Windows, or KDE?

BTW I am typing this in a web browser text field within KDE, with auto spell-checking. Wonder how long it will take them to implement this.

Gnome vs KDE: Part 1

I know I have been on a KDE rant as of late, but I find that the technology continues to amaze me. For example, Gnome decided that (for compatibility sake with Windows GTK applications) that it should have the ability to reverse the button order on their dialog boxes. You see, a couple years ago Gnome made the decision to move from the button order to the MacOS style button order of . The enter button, because of this design, always defaults to cancel instead of ok. Well here is that patch to allow selection of the button order.

For good measure, KDE decided that, for compatibility with MacOS style interfaces it would allow its dialogs to select their button order. Here is KDE’s patch.

Seriously, thats it. Four lines! Four lines and all the KDE dialog button get re-ordered. All KDE applications inherit this change automatically. Here is the kicker, Gnomes patch is around 266 lines; and it will only affect two-thirds of their applications. That is why Gnome is getting its ass handed to it by KDE. Fewer developers, fewer lines of code, and more functionality.

KDE From Scratch

I am collecting scripts for automating the process of getting, building, and installing a KDE desktop from cvs/svn. When I posted the question on #kde-devel, I got answers from the who’s who of KDE application development. Here are some that I have collected already.

  • Aaron J. Seigo— is a core KDE developer and responsible for Kicker and the Tenor project. A god in the Linux/KDE world.
  • Ali Akcaagac–Check out getkde.sh and kdemake.sh for excellent build examples. Actually, oGALAXYo (aka Ali) is a Gnome, Amiga, AND KDE developer. Who put this guy get on the list?
  • Michael Pyne— Another KDE application developer. His script kdecvs-build is fairly well known among Linux desktop application developers.
  • Waldo Bastian— May be responsible for more of KDE (as it is today) than any other developer. Currently also working on Freedesktop.org, but try not to hold that against him.
  • Thiago Macieira— Another super powerful, blah blah blah, KDE god, blah blah blah… Does, well, everything in KDE.

That is something that never ceases to amaze me about free software. Some of these people are considered super-stars in the world of hackerdom, but they will stop to answer questions and pass along code (or for that matter just talk) with anyone who is interested. Its like the first time I had a Perl question and could not find an answer on the web, so I sent a message to a Perl mailing list. Larry Wall answered by question… the inventor of Perl.

This doesn’t happen in the rest of the normal world. When you need some help with your taxes, you don’t simply call up Allen Greenspan. Nobody messing around with their own comic book, sends letters to Stan Lee for advice. Even in the computer world this is unusual; do you really think Steve Jobs is gonna help you out with your Apple? Or that Bill Gates will tell you how to debug Windows XP? It just make working with free software that much more, fun.

KDevelop vs. MVS.net

News Forge has a side by side comparison of KDevelop and Microsoft Visual Studio .Net. The article compares general application capabilities in the areas of UI, editing, compiling, frameworks, integration, and documentation. As would be expected by anyone familiar with the two, KDE/Qt thumps .Net in framework, UI, RAD design, and overall flexibility. The author also does a good job of noting some of the places Kdevelop is lacking. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

I found KDevelop is much better than I had expected before I started to actually work (as opposed to just play around) with it. KDevelop is more feature-rich than Microsoft’s product — and we’re talking actually useful things here — more flexible, and better integrated with different programming languages, frameworks, and third-party applications, and it has a less clunky user interface than the commercial contender.

And if Visual Studio existed as a native Linux application? I’d still rather use Kdevelop.

Qt, as far as its functionality, clarity and ease of use are concerned, can run circles around MFC without breaking a sweat, and similar can be said about GTK+. DotNet’s Windows Forms framework is a bit better than MFC, but still lags far behind Qt.

Overall, it was a very good review. The author brushes over autoconfig, probably the single hardest part of getting used to developing on Linux. If you are coming from a Windows world, the transition to autoconfig can be pretty difficult at first. The payoffs are distributed application building, multi-platform development (i.e. applications builds for hand-helds, desktops, and mainframes; all in the same source), and multi-application build logic.

If you have not had the opportunity to try Kdevelop and KDE/Qt I suggest you try out Knoppix a full featured KDE/Linux operating system on CD. Simply boot to the CD and run Linux. No install necessary. When you are done, you can remove the CD and boot back into your safe Windows environment. Knoppix will even access your Windows partitions, letting you save files to harddrive.

A quick Rant

I realized today (by looking up something on a co-workers computer) the my website doesn’t look right on Internet Explorer. Now my site is standards compliant… too bad IE is not. Damn, half ass-ed, CSS implementation! Please, please, please folks; get a real web browser.

Corba and KDE links

Was looking for a couple links on Friday and had to go searching for them. That is entirely unacceptable considering I have this nice blog to store all of my important links. So here they are:

  • KDE components— An overview of the advantages of KParts technology and it functional use inside of KDE. It also shows some of the staggering advantages that KParts provided over Corba.
  • No Corbra— An explanation of the limitations of Corba and vicariously the technological limitations Gnome (who chose to stay with Corba entirely too long.)
  • KDE 2.0 Technology— An old but surprisingly relevant explanation of some of the core KDE technology. The decisions made by the KDE 2.0 group have done amazing things to the direction and power of KDE. History has shown us that their decisions were (with the exception of the core KDE sound system interface) correct. After 2.0, KDE became the most popular Free Desktop environment in existence and its core technologies have made it the most advanced development environment in desktop computer history.

Linkage & Theory

C++ language tutorial is a quick tip type tutorial (try saying that five-times-fast.) It provided some useful information to me concerning namespaces in C++.

On the KDE front a HUGE amount of activity is going on in preparation for the move to Qt 4.0. Because of the underlying structural changes that will take place, many developers are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate and extend KDE. Some of the more interesting projects are Lyceum, a KDE documentation project centered around tutorials organized the way college classes are. Tenor a Contextual Link Engine. The best way to understand it is to read the article. Its pretty amazing stuff and absolutely blows away ANYTHING currently available in terms of desktop search functionality. You can read more on Tenor here. This kind of innovation really shows off the power, flexibility, and integration that is available to KDE. No desktop anywhere comes can compete with KDE on the technical level! KDE is also moving from CVS for version control to Subversion which will allow for better control of existing code along with more flexible control of our projects. There is even talk of porting KDE to Windows. Lots and lots of code theory with lots and lots of work to do. The future for KDE is looking very bright indeed.