Saturday, February 23, 2013

Today's Linux #2

XFCE and the Nexus 7

     I got a Nexus 7. 

     It's been eating the last couple of days for me. As my first tablet (I refused to buy an ipad), I wasn't sure what part of my computing life it was going to replace. I vowed upon opening it that it wasn't going to be a 200$ Facebook, Reddit, and Youtube machine, but other than that it remained to be scene what I wanted it to do.
     It's worth noting that, if you plan on buying a Nexus, whether it be the 4, 7 or 10, just give yourself unto Google. Set up a google account, get used to the calender, gmail, blogger, drive, currents, maps, navigation, and the play store. If you segment your life across multiple e-mail accounts and calender apps, it's worth consolidating everything, because the Gonex7 is a great life planner. 
     Within a few hours, Google had learned my favorite sports teams and now displays the most recent scores and when their next game is in the Google Now screen. I can just shout at my tablet to set-up an appointment, play music, translate, convert measurements, and a plethora of other mildly interesting tasks. 
     I quickly learned that the 7 wouldn't be replacing functions of my computer, but giving me new options to augment my life. I never really had a reason to have a calender, but I've started more seven day challenges, and it's a great way to track my progress. It provides a great motivation to get my life in better order, and I enjoy using it for that reason.
    The big selling point for me on an Android tablet are the widgets. They don't exist on IOS, and I wouldn't be able to live without them. When I unlock my Nexus, I'm presented with my gmail inbox, latest stories from NPR, the front page of /r/Linux, a quick connect to SSH, access to my e-reader books (something I really love is the e-reader and all the free books), a look at the weather, and a look at my next week on my calender. Instead of having to open each individual app like you would on an Ipad, I just have to unlock, check, and boom. It's also nice getting to try Chrome on a mobile platform, as my Atrix 4g is not compatible to run it.
    Overall, I'm excited to have my Nexus 7 (duh haha). I'm planning on writing a post about how simple budget computing is now-a-days once I get the motivation to do it. I did consider putting Ubuntu Touch on it, but it's in such early alpha stages that I'd rather wait for the core apps to be available and for some of that dummy data to disappear. 
     Oh, and the Swipe Typing is fantastically amazing. I can't praise it enough.

    Switching back to a physical keyboard...I've been demoing different Desktop Environments for a few days on my laptop. 
    Probably one of the coolest things about Linux, is that you can make it look almost exactly how you would want your computer to look. You can emulate a Windows-Like UI with KDE, or recreate the OSX bar filled with applications. The possibilities are endless. 
    In my case, I just really care about performance, and when looking for the lightest and fastest, it came down to two; XFCE and LXDE. I decided to test XFCE first.
    I already had Xubuntu on my netbook, but I haven't touched the GUI. After first boot, I put it in Multi-user mode, and closed the lid, and to be honest, I'd rather test it on my laptop where I conducted my 7 days of Linux to compare the overall speed of the system.
    It's been a couple of days, and so far I only have positives (what can I say, I'm a pretty optimistic guy haha). It just like the fact that there isn't much going on in terms of animations. When I click things in Unity, when I minimize, maximize switch desktops or open an Application it seems paired with a blink or special growth animation know a lot of excess. Which, don't get me wrong isn't a bad thing. Sometimes when your OS feels alive, it's drawing. Interactivity is key when you want to draw an audience that have been using extremely animated tablets and commercial OS's.
    XFCE does just the opposite, it's all single frame animations. Either the application is open, or it isn't. You click an icon, and it just pops up. Minimizing and maximizing take one frame, everything takes one frame. It feels like lightning. It may not have a huge overhead difference, but it seems like it does because of it's total disregard for excess beauty. And that's the beauty in the system. It's the Howard Roark of Operating Systems.
    I've got a basic outline for myself; spend an inordinate amount of time being picky about my DE, and once I settle on something I absolutely love, then start picking apart Linux and learn about the guts, learn how to compile, whatever else I have to learn from this OS. It still feels like I'm chipping away at the atom at the top of the iceberg.

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