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[P]
First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Today

By Philipp in News
Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 09:59:16 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

[editor's note, by rusty] This story was originally submitted by Phillip, and contained a couple of slightly misleading statements (mostly about Eazel and Helix competing). This is an updated, rewritten version contributed by XVirge. All of the flavor, none of the potential flamage! :-)

If you wondered what many of the GNOME programmers have been up to lately: Several of them have started a company, Helix Code, which will be working on, among other things, a distribution of GNOME, called the Helix GNOME Desktop. It includes a program which will make it easy to keep up-to-date, and will be for sale in shrink-wrapped boxes in April. This is not a full linux distribution, and they will provide very up-to-date packages for many Linux distributions. The other GNOME developers at Eazel have put up a friendly welcome message on their site. Anyway, there are pretty screenshots, and the updated GNOME Control Center looks fairly similar to KDE's.


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First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Today | 17 comments (17 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
I like new eye candy! And anything ... (2.00 / 1) (#5)
by pulsar on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 05:59:30 PM EST

pulsar voted 1 on this story.

I like new eye candy! And anything to help move Linux and *BSD to the desktop is great!

Woohoo! Except that I think nat and... (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by julian on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 06:24:59 PM EST

julian voted 1 on this story.

Woohoo! Except that I think nat and boc and others were more involved with the creation of spidermonkey (Helix GNOME Desktop) than Miguel. They've all been busy, basically, just not only on this. :) Oh, and Red Hat hasn't been keeping its GNOME packages very up-to-date. It's a lot more likely for HelixCode's packages to be more up-to-date. That control center looks just like the CVS version of control center has looked for quite a while. They still want to redesign it.
-- Julian (x-virge)

I really do need to try this out. ... (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by bmetzler on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 06:32:55 PM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

I really do need to try this out. It looks like some big slick packaging deal.
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

Wow, that control center *really* l... (2.00 / 1) (#1)
by rusty on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 06:40:48 PM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

Wow, that control center *really* looks like KDE's. That was a good decision, IMO. The gnome control center always kinda sucked. I like it. :-)

____
Not the real rusty

This is cool! I just run sawmill wi... (1.00 / 1) (#2)
by rongen on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 07:18:13 PM EST

rongen voted 1 on this story.

This is cool! I just run sawmill without Gnome, personally, but I am interested in seeing a desktop environment as "friendly" as a Mac (actually I think I might just buy a Mac). I tried to download the Helix distro tonight but I am not running a supported version of RedHat and was unable to determine what that meant so I gave up...

BTW, I think Eazel and http://www.prosebush.com

Re: This is cool! I just run sawmill wi... (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by Inoshiro on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 11:19:50 PM EST

Yeah, I run Gnome w/ IceWM..

So far, I don't see what they've done differently, other than adding some weird Gnome install wizard (which is only somewhat like my vision for a centralised package/usage system, which puts even Win2k's software system to shame).


Redhat? Fphphyt.. Slackware, man -- it's just so BSD ;-)

--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
The best part of the package (1.00 / 1) (#7)
by emjay on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 11:42:20 PM EST

I love this part:

To install follow these three easy steps-


1.Open a terminal window.
2.Using the su command, become superuser
3.Start go-gnome by typing the following command or cutting and pasting it into your terminal:
lynx -source http://spidermonkey.helixcode.com/go-gnome |sh

Um... I don't think this is good admin practice :D
-------------------------
We can't stop here, this is bat country!
Even Better.. (none / 0) (#8)
by emjay on Mon Mar 06, 2000 at 11:53:13 PM EST

Take a look at that http://spidermonkey.helixcode.com/go-gnome script they want you to blindly pipe to sh, there is a zipped file in there that gets extracted and run. I hope no one hacks that webserver..
-------------------------
We can't stop here, this is bat country!
[ Parent ]
Re: First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Tod (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Mar 07, 2000 at 12:49:31 AM EST

Y'know, I tried GNOME when it was at 0.3(?), and while it's a neat bit of software (as is KDE), I found I'm just not interested. Hmm; I'm not sure how to put into words what I'm thinking.

I guess what I'd like to see is a desktop infrastructure, rather than a desktop proper. It seems like both of the big desktop projects want to lock you into their way of doing things, their favored toolkit, etc in order to get full use from them. What I'd like to see instead (and I've never done any programming at the system level, so I don't know how hard it would or wouldn't be) is basically just a set of hooks to backend functionality, along the lines of how copy 'n' paste works in X (which of course GTK/GNOME has broken). So I know that pretty much no matter what program I'm using (well, except for GTK based ones; is the same true for QT?) highlight->middle click will get what I want, and whether or not it used a specific toolkit or adhered to a specific project's guidelines is immaterial.

Don't know if that makes sense to anybody else, but one of the things that I've really enjoyed about using Linux is its diversity. I like being able to pick and choose which window manager, mailer, editor, etc I use based only on their individual merits. This big push toward homogeneous desktops kind of puzzles me. I'd like to have some of the extra functionality, but so far it hasn't been worth giving up all my favorite programs for their frequently less functional GNOME equivalents.

Re: First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Tod (none / 0) (#12)
by Emacs on Tue Mar 07, 2000 at 11:30:41 AM EST

*****Don't know if that makes sense to anybody else, but one of the things that I've really enjoyed about using Linux is its diversity. I like being able to pick and choose which window manager, mailer, editor, etc I use based only on their individual merits. This big push toward homogeneous desktops kind of puzzles me. I'd like to have some of the extra functionality, but so far it hasn't been worth giving up all my favorite programs for their frequently less functional GNOME equivalents.*****

I'm in 100% agreement with you. I love being able to tinker around with all of the different desktops/window-managers and their affiliated apps. I really don't' see why this will have to end though. I think the homogeneous desktop push is aimed at bringing the average computer user to Linux, not at the Linux geek who enjoys hacking the system. As long as the other window-managers don't go away we will still have lots of choices.

As far as the highlight -> middle-click goes, I think on most "real" X apps, you don't even have to middle click to copy the text. It gets done by default when you highlight it. You can just highlight, then go to your other app and paste and your done.

I wasn't aware that this doesn't work in GTK apps, I'm sorry to hear that. I would hope that the GTK guys try their best to not break any core *nix X features.

[ Parent ]
Re: First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Tod (none / 0) (#14)
by analog on Tue Mar 07, 2000 at 12:04:25 PM EST

I love being able to tinker around with all of the different desktops/window-managers and their affiliated apps. I really don't' see why this will have to end though.

It's not that it will have to end (I posted the above, btw; keep forgetting to log in). Both desktop environments do have some nice features they're implementing as far as infrastructure goes, though, and you pretty much need to be using that desktop and its affiliated apps and/or toolkits to access them. I guess I'm thinking along the lines of how they're handling window managers; they created an open structure that any wm can be modified to use, so the toolkits are for the most part wm independent (I know KDE has its own wm, but I don't think it's a requirement to use it to get all KDE functionality). It would be neat if they could do a similar thing for the apps, such that copy 'n' paste, drag 'n' drop, what have you, can be accessible even if I don't use GTK to write my programs.

I think on most "real" X apps, you don't even have to middle click to copy the text.

Yeah, what I meant was highlight to copy in app #1, middle click to paste in app #2. Should have said that more clearly. As far as GTK not supporting it, it's my understanding that this functionality is provided by the Xt Intrinsics; since GTK isn't built on the intrinsics, it doesn't work (didn't last time I tried it anyway). I don't know how hard it would be for GTK to tie into that, but it would be nice.

[ Parent ]

Re: First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Tod (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by Philipp on Tue Mar 07, 2000 at 05:26:47 AM EST

Thaks for debugging my story! This is another example, where I would have liked to be able to do this, after I read the comments on the friendliness of Eazel.

By fixing my story you also smoothed out a point of discussion that I think is worth raising: How do they believe to make money with this? All the code they provide will be included in regular Linux distributions. The advantage that they have the latest and greatest is diminished by the plan to sell it in stores (where even the latest will get old). Also, when the thing becomes more stable, there will be less need to have the latest version, having the "RedHat 10.2 Standard Version" will be much more useful.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

This story... (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Mar 07, 2000 at 11:17:33 AM EST

...was posted yesterday on Slashdot.

This is not meant to be flamebait or a troll (or spam, for that matter, as I'm only posting this once ;) -- in fact, I found this site by somebody else's spam @ Slashdot (incidentally, they'd added an extra "s" right after the "5" in the URL)). But I met emmett last week, and he made mention that there are a bunch of sites that are popping up that are "just like Slashdot, only a little bit different." I'm curious: What is your motivation for this, rusty? I'm not trying to put down what you're doing here, I'm actually interested. I've lurked here for a few days. It's an interesting system you've got here with self-moderation, but it doesn't seem like it'll scale well if the site gets really large. Also, I've seen you mention that you'll delete obvious spam (I forget your stance on trolls and flamebait), but have you considered that, once again, if the site gets large, you have probably lost your status as a "common carrier" and could possibly be liable for an "illegal" post that you didn't delete? (That may be one of the reasons for some of the policies that you say have "wrecked" Slashdot (concern over liability). I started reading the articles with my threshold at 2 and haven't regretted it since.)

BTW, I've noticed that Scoop looks remarkably similar to Slash -- did you modify Slash, or did you code it all from scratch yourself? Kudos to you if you did. (I can imagine, from dabbling in coding, myself, that it's no small undertaking.) One note -- there appears to be a bug in Scoop such that "Nested" mode doesn't indent the child posts relative to the parents. (I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, thus I say "appears".)

I'm asking this in all seriousness. I realize that this will quite probably offend some of you, but I'm not doing this just to get you all riled up. From the thread a couple days ago between you (rusty) and that other fellow (Craig McPherson? -- I forget his nick) that you have a cool head and will see this for what it is -- an honest request for information.

Thanks for your time, and I apologize to those whom I might have offended.

Re: This story... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by rusty on Tue Mar 07, 2000 at 12:01:23 PM EST

Very polite of you. :-)

Let's see... first off, I'm not that easy to offend. Everyone should get the benefit of the doubt, and it's really hard to judge tone in plain text, so I take everything more or less at face value until proven otherwise. Witness the thread you mention with McPherson.

And, for the benefit of my readers, and slashdot's:

Whoever is posting all that spam "advertising" for kuro5hin on slashdot-- Stop It!
Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but that is not the way we do things here.

Ok, simple factual questions first:

  • Scoop is from-scratch coded by me. It uses some of slash 0.3's database table definitions, but no code.
  • Spam (i.e. nonsense posting to get attention or relieve boredom or whatever) will be deleted. This is because it bores me, mainly, and who needs their site filling up with "I need a ninja to get these hot grits out of Natalie Portman's pants!" Trolls, as McPherson so aptly demonstrated, are a truly different thing, and I have no official stance on that. If you're going to go to the trouble of masquerading as someone with an opinion that is likely to rile up the readership here, well, nothing I can really do about it. Who's to say that's not your actual opinion? But do try to keep it on topic, that's all I ask.
  • Nested mode bug: It displays indented for me. Are you sure you weren't looking at "Flat" mode? Flat will do what you described-- display all comments with no indenting, but they'll be ordered by thread anyway.
About "common carrier" status: I brought this issue up on technocrat quite a while ago, in thinking about the possible ramifications of my intended "no-spam" policy. The general opinion there was that if it really were to go to court, I wouldn't be considered a common carrier regardless of editorial policy. I doubt /. would win that fight either. My actions in deleting spam are not to moderate the discussion, or assume ownership of all (or any) posts, but to prevent unwanted use of my system resources. "Comments are owned by the poster" it says at the bottom of the page, and server resources are owned by me. The only reason I will delete a coment is if I think it's needlessly taking up server and eyeball space.

And the $64,000 question: Why?

  1. I wanted to write a weblog system. I took elements of slashdot's interface as a model to aim for because I like a lot of how it works. I didn't take their code because I don't really like it.
  2. Online communities, and their dynamics, interest me. I wanted to play with different possibilities of a site like this. Hence the stuff that Scoop does that slash doesn't (story moderation, comment ratings, hotlists).
  3. Why not?
That's pretty much the whole list. I wasn't setting out to be "The Next Slashdot" or "Just like /. but a little different." I still don't want to be slashdot. A lot of ex-slashdotters end up reading Kuro5hin because they're fed up with /., and I think because kuro5hin reminds them of home (i.e. they're used to the interface). Since most of the content is reader-submitted and reader-chosen, and many of my readers came from /., a lot of stories tend to be about the same stuff. I honestly wish more people would post things like movie reviews, and opinion pieces. But I can't make them.

I hope that answers your questions. Oh yeah, I believe, actually, that this story was submitted here before it went up on /., but reader voting sometimes takes a little while. They liked it, so it went up. A lot of people here don't read slashdot regularly (anymore) so good stories are considered good stories, regardless of what they do up in Michigan. :-)

Anything else you were wondering?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: This story... (none / 0) (#15)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Mar 08, 2000 at 07:22:29 AM EST

Ok, simple factual questions first:
  • Scoop is from-scratch coded by me. It uses some of slash 0.3's database table definitions, but no code.
I must say I'm impressed. Out of curiosity, how long did it take? Unlike a fair number of the others here, I've only been lurking here for maybe a couple of weeks. How long has the site been up? (From your answer, I'd assume that the earliest would be, "Since $AMOUNT_OF_TIME after the release of Slash 0.3," but I'm not quite sure when that was released, either. :) )
  • Spam (i.e. nonsense posting to get attention or relieve boredom or whatever) will be deleted. This is because it bores me, mainly, and who needs their site filling up with "I need a ninja to get these hot grits out of Natalie Portman's pants!" Trolls, as McPherson so aptly demonstrated, are a truly different thing, and I have no official stance on that. If you're going to go to the trouble of masquerading as someone with an opinion that is likely to rile up the readership here, well, nothing I can really do about it. Who's to say that's not your actual opinion? But do try to keep it on topic, that's all I ask.
That's certainly more than fair. After all, it's your site and your resources, so it's yours to do with as you please. And you're not the government, so it's not unconstitutional censorship (uninformed assertions to the contrary). I can respect that.

And let me apologize for being OT here (with a thinly-veiled on-topic red herring to start with :) ).

  • Nested mode bug: It displays indented for me. Are you sure you weren't looking at "Flat" mode? Flat will do what you described-- display all comments with no indenting, but they'll be ordered by thread anyway.
I'll check when I get home; I'm at work right now. (Third shift, so that's why it's taking a while to get back to you.) I could have very possibly set it to flat inadvertently. FWIW, at home I run Linux 2.2.13, KDE 1.1.2, and Netscape >= 4.7 (can't quite recall the minor version number; I'll check, if it's an Actual Bug).

Incidentally, here at work, it displays fine on some kind of ancient SPARCstation IPX running Netscape 3(.01?) and some version of SunOS/Slowaris. :)

I honestly wish more people would post things like movie reviews, and opinion pieces. But I can't make them.
Heh, maybe if I get really get into your site I can be the next JonKatz.

{ducks}

Seriously, it sounds very interesting to write an op-ed (if anybody around here likes that kind of thing) or a review and actually have a chance of seeing the light of day. (Maybe it could be called an ego thing... {g})

regardless of what they do up in Michigan. :-)
...or in Philly (I discovered emmett lives here). Sorry, I had to play the devil's advocate. :)

Seriously, though, I wouldn't have noticed the spamvertising (As you are, I'm reasonably certain it was an overeager reader. They linked to "kuro5shin.org. {g}) for K5 on /., as it'd gotten moderated down as off-topic or something (which I'm sure (from reading some of the postings you've written) you'll agree was appropriate). FWIW, I only noticed it one day in a couple different places in one story (or it could've been in one place in a couple different stories, can't remember which), so it doesn't appear to be a big problem. (My assumption, proved correct in your post, was that that's not the kind of thing you'd want to see.)

I'm still a little curious how well you think that K5 will scale if/when the readership becomes > $x (for some arbitrary large value of $x). Would you just up the point threshold required for a story to post? Recruit more site admins? It seems that at some point, it'd require too many admins. For example (for Yet Another Slashdot Reference), I'm member number 137331 (yes, that is my real member number, eleet-speek notwithstanding). That's ~ an eighth of a million. (I'll grant you not all of them post; I think I know more people that "used to read Slashdot" than actually do anymore.)

Now, from your post, it's obvious that you're not trying to compare yourself to Slashdot, but for the sake of argument, let's say you get some $x number of readers; how will you handle it? Any plans, ideas, or none?

Finally (I guess I should wrap this up, shouldn't I?), I'll grant you that it took me a while to get used to the gratuitous "5" in the name; the jury's still out with me on that one. :) (But you're doing this because you want to do it, not to please any particular person. {g} BTW, if a parenthetical comment such as this one seems harsh, it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek and I couldn't think of a softer way to put it.) I'm liking more and more what I'm seeing, though, although there still isn't a lot of signal. The SNR, though, is very good.

I think I'll wrap this up now, then :). It's been enjoyable so far.

[ Parent ]

Re: This story... (none / 0) (#16)
by rusty on Wed Mar 08, 2000 at 08:22:04 AM EST

The Scoop that is running kuro5hin right now (0.4.2 with some tweaks for performance-- still can't keep the server running. grrr) took about 2 months to emerge. If you peek back at this story, it would appear that Jan 9th was the first time Scoop did anything at all. At that time it could basically just display stories that had been preloaded into the database. So, today is March 8th, so yeah, almost exactly two months. [Insert gratuitous dig at how long it took slash to reach this level of functionality here ;-)]

About scaling: that is something I'm constantly thinking about. For example, the threshold to post stories is not a hard limit, but a percentage of registered users. Right now I think it's 3% (I adjust it depending on what voting traffic is like). So basically, say I had 300 users, a story would need a total positive score of 9 to be posted. It's still a threshold, but one that's recalculated to account for the number of potential voters. It seems to work well so far, although I'm considering improvements (like being able to vote for a rewrite, if you think it's a good story that needs some work, and potentially even collaborative community rewriting).

Other scaling issues are spam control and comment filtering. These will both improve. Here's the plan for spam control: Basically, I will choose a few regular contributors (who are willing) to assist in controlling spam. They will be able to "delete" comments, but when they delete a comment, it is not totally gone. It's simply moved to a special "admin-only" fake discussion. At any time, I can pop over there and see all the comments that have been designated spam by these people, and who did the deleting. If I disagree, I can reinstate the comment (and whack the deleter with a ruler or something). There will also be a function in there to nominate new spam-control officers. Any existing spam controller can vote that another reader should join them, and if someone gets enough votes, they join the team. This way, I hope, it will remain a job for "trusted" members of the community. Also, the potential for abuse is low, because every time they delete something, I *might* look at it. They'll never know whether I *will* see a particular comment, but I *could* see any of them. It's the classic panoptic system, which generally promotes self-disciple rather effectively. :-)

In concert with that, I may add a rating for spam, so that other readers can point out what they think should be removed. Perhaps the spam patrol wouldn't be allowed to remove a comment until it has been designated spam by X other readers. We'll see. I think there are ways to deal with scaling, without losing what makes the site special to begin with.

I'm also rewriting the code right now, to make it perform (*much*) better, and make it easier to add new features and whatnot. And there are some very cool things on the way, which hopefully will help the /. comparisons start to taper off. :-) kuro5hin will be getting less slash-like in the future. I took the slash interface as a model to start with, because it's nice to have a "spec" to code to. But at this point, I think I've done just about all the slash-ish things I want to do (except user prefs, but my preferences will be a lot more thorough). I expect the site to move into more uncharted territory soon.

The signal... well, I'm more interested in quality than quantity. Think of it as a signal quality ratio. If I'm interested and enlightened by 100% of the comments posted here, that is ideal. Whether there's one comment on a story, or 500. I think the signal quality on kuro5hin is hovering around 98% at this point, which pleases me to no end. I can only hope the quality stays where it is. Like I said, I would like to see more stories, but that will come.

Thanks for your questions. And dammit, I *still* haven't updated the FAQ. Too busy coding. ;-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: This story... (none / 0) (#17)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Mar 09, 2000 at 05:11:32 AM EST

Wow. I see you've really put some time into thinking about this. I'm an aspiring Perl hacker myself, so maybe I'll grab your code so I can corrupt my programming practices (gratuitous dig here about how Slash might be better for ruining oneself). ;) Actually, I may have to put that off so I can learn Tcl first. (Before you laugh :), I'm trying to get a web development job. See ArsDigita's web site for details. ({gratuitous plug}BTW, if anyone decides to look into this for themself, please be sure to mention that I sent you. (They have a referral program.) UID here on K5 will be locutus074 (mail me for my name). (I sent you mail on this, rusty.){/gratuitous plug -- hope that's okay, rusty; I thought it would be of interest to fellow geeks}).

[Insert gratuitous dig at how long it took slash to reach this level of functionality here ;-)]
In all fairness to them, the data model is the hard part (according to Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing (original title: "How to be a Web Whore Just Like Me"), which is an excellent book (full text available gratis online) about building (RDBMS-backed &&/|| "community") web sites). But in all fairness to you, it does take a skilled coder to implement something like this that rapidly, data model notwithstanding. (I know I wouldn't be able to do it (at this point, anyway).) Again, call me the devil's advocate. ;) (No offense is intended.)

The signal... well, I'm more interested in quality than quantity. Think of it as a signal quality ratio.
QoS as opposed to DoS (Quality/Denial of Signal). :)

Thanks for putting up with me so far. I expect I'll have a good time here. Let me know if there's something I can do to help out with the site.

[ Parent ]

First Beta of Helix GNOME Desktop Released Today | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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