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On The Desktop

This week, MoonGroup.com interviews Olivier Fourdan, creator of the [XFce] XFce desktop environment. "Xfce is very easy to configure since all common settings are managed thru graphical tools, using the mouse. However, Xfce is definitely not a clone of CDE. For me, a clone is just like Lesstif and Motif. You can use one in place of the other. But you don't consider GNOME or KDE as clones of windows, do you?"

So, what are XFce's strong points and what distinguishes it from other desktop environments? The XFce project home page claims that it is a fast, lightweight, and efficient system, and it is appealing to the eyes. Perhaps more to the point: "I believe that the desktop environment should be made to increase user productivity. Therefore, the goal is keep most system resources for the applications, and not to consume all memory and CPU usage with the desktop environment". Another interesting goal of XFce is to perform all desktop configuration with the mouse; configuration files are hidden from the user. This certainly separates it from older lightweight windowing environments such as fvwm2 and twm.

XFce supports themes and comes with a reasonably full list of utility applications. Virtual screens and multiple pop-up menus are included as are support for multi-byte character sets and 18 language translations. Version 3 of XFce is GTK+ based, so running Gnome applications on it should be simplified. XFce is apparently going for the middle ground between the older, simple window managers and the big, full-featured systems like KDE and Gnome.

If you have an inclination to try it out; version 3.8.1 of XFce was just released on April 29, 2001. (Thanks to Joseph J Klemmer.)

Desktop Environments

The 'people' behind KDE: Konqi. The "People Behind KDE" series continues with this interview with Konqi the dragon, the KDE project's mascot. "When I was young I wanted to be a fireman, but I dropped that idea when they explained to me that fireman don't actually make fires. Firemen put fires out instead of making them."

April 27 GNOME Summary. The GNOME Summary for April 27 is out. It covers the Ximian GNOME 1.4 release, the "Eazel Pal" program, and several other topics.

Announcing the GNOME Packaging Project. Gregory Leblanc launched the GNOME Packaging Project in order to package binaries of GNOME. Volunteers are needed.

Embedded GNOME - Sikigami. There is an embedded GNOME project going on in Japan called Sikigami, which means daemon in old Japanese.

Mosfet.Org: New MegaGradient Widget Style. Mosfet is back and has released a a new funky widget style, dubbed MegaGradient. Mosfet is well-known for his previous work on KDE2. He also notes on his homepage that he has recently got a life, has left MandrakeSoft (amicably) and is looking for a new job, preferably allowing him to continue his work in the Linux/KDE area. Congratulations and best of luck, Mosfet.

You can't always get what you font (ZDNet). ZDNet's Evan Leibovitch talks about his pet peeve regarding the Linux desktop. "As someone who's been using Linux as my primary workstation OS since the days of Caldera Network Desktop 1.0 (circa 1995) and its Looking Glass GUI, I don't just have one Linux desktop frustration; I have a list. At the top of that list is the ghastly manner in which Linux systems implement fonts."

Office Applications

AbiWord Weekly News #41. The April 27, 2001 edition of the AbiWord Weekly News is out. This week's news includes the release of AbiWord 0.7.14, bug prioritization, and download stats.

Desktop Applications

Opera for Linux beta 8 now available. Opera 5.0 beta 8 has been released. Opera is a commercial web browser that is available in freely-useable version (with an embedded sponsor ad) or a paid/registered mode.


Omni Printer Driver version 0.1.2. A new release of the Omni printer driver is available as of April 26, 2001. This release features a fix in the newFrame logic for each device class.

Interview: Frank Hecker (OpenOffice.org). OpenOffice.org's Louis Suárez-Potts interviews Frank Hecker, one of the key people behind the open-sourcing of Netscape's code. "Over time I became very frustrated with the traditional proprietary software development model, where all development had to be done inside the company and the only developers who had access to source code were members of the internal engineering groups."

Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel

May 3, 2001

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