BLUG MEET - 28th May 2004
Surjo Das here once again with the minutes of the May
Meet held on 28th May at the usual place - Shantala
Hall at Hotel Ashraya on Infantry Road. People were
trickling in very slowly for the meet. The topic for
this meet was supposed to be on Linux Desktops but we
ended up with two talks viz., An insight into Fedora
Core 2 by Atul Chitnis and the XFCE Desktop by Biju
Chacko. In any case both the talks stuck to the theme
of the meet. Only 28 people turned up for the meet,
the lowest ever during this year.
After about 20 odd people gathered at the hall by 6:40
pm, the BLUG Co-ordinator Kartik with his welcome
address kicked off the meet. The first talk of the
evening was on Fedora Core 2 by Atul Chitnis from
Exocore. The talk didn't start off immediately at
6:40 pm as Atul was sorting out the display issues
with the projector. After some level of satisfaction
was achieved, the Big Man started off with his talk at
7 pm. Atul went into a bit of the history of the
evolution of FC2. It was known as Red Hat Linux 9.1.
It's a community developed project and is a test bed
for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server. Some of the
newer things not supported in FC2 with respect to Red
Hat Linux is that back porting of packages is no
longer supported in FC2. It was supported in RHL and
is still supported in RHEL. FC2 was released on 18th
May 2004. It had 3 test releases. The release
schedule is tight and mostly adhered to by the Fedora
Project. FC2 is not RHL 9.2 as many people believe
but it looks and feels the same. It is vastly
different from the RHL series with latest version of
all packages and many new features added.
Believe it or not folks, FC2 comes in totally 9 CDs,
which includes 4 install CDs, 4 source CDs, and 1
rescue CD. The disk space required for installing FC2
is 900 MB for a customized minimal installation, 1.5
GB for Server, 2.5 GB for a Personalised Desktop, 7 GB
for installing everything which seems to be everyone's
favourite. The RAM requirements are 128 MB for text
mode, 256 MB minimum for graphical mode even though
512 MB of RAM is recommended for dragging and dropping
and pointing and clicking. FC2 comes with Kernel
2.6.5 and GNOME 2.6 and KDE 3.2.2 which are quite
resource hungry. XFree86 has been discontinued with
FC2 and X.org is its replacement.
The other new inclusions in FC2 are XFCE 4, Subversion
1.0 and SELinux or Security Enhanced Linux which is a
nightmare for System Administrators and a dream come
true for the security paranoid people. On the other
hand for mortal human beings a new package for burning
CDs and DVDs has been included in the form of K3B.
For those who have used Nero in Windows will
immediately adapt to K3B. K3B doesn't come with a
k3bsetup utility. It assumes that its running on FC2.
LVM2 or Logical Volume Manager v2 is the replacement
for the earlier LVM which is boon for System
Administrators managing disk space on Servers. It
allows dynamic addition of hard disks to a logically
defined volume which is nothing but a collection of
free disk space across physical hard disks to create
more space something similar to coalition politics for
the politically inclined. Another new utility is yum
which allows installation of packages and checks for
all necessary dependencies. Many other new
applications and compilers have been included in FC2
which Atul couldn't cover, otherwise his talk could
have gone well into the night. Basically Atul covered
the new apps and features which are immediately
visible to the first time users of FC2.
Atul then went on the other new improvements in FC2
which include performance enhancements, pre-linking of
files for applications to load up faster, a good
example of Open Office was suggested by Atul. The
virtual memory manager is more organized and the
integration of applications is more logical. Many new
graphical utilities for system administration tasks
have been included for those people who like to point
and click instead of manually editing /etc/fstab or
/etc/smb/smb.conf and so on.
Then Atul warned the audience about another aspect of
using FC2 to dual boot with Windows XP - what's that ?
Oh ! The other O.S. The issue is not with FC2 but
with Windows XP. Kernel 2.6.5 interprets disk
structures differently. Windows XP writes some
invalid broken stuff in the MBR to boot ! And believe
it or not, our friends at Seattle, Washington are
aware of this problem ! USB storage has some issues
with Kernel 2.6.5 but seems to have been fixed with
the test release of Kernel 2.6.6. The combination of
Firefox and Thunderbird has been discontinued with
FC2. Mozilla and Evolution are now the defaults apps
for browsing and e-mail in FC2 which is a good thing.
As usual no MP3 support is provided in FC2 which if I
remember correctly was discontinued from RHL 8 itself.
Atul then wanted to do a demo on FC2, but couldn't
continue immediately as he wanted to sort out the
display issues between his laptop and the projector.
The projector wasn't able to display the exact
resolution which Atul wanted. But the major text
portions of his slides were projected successfully. A
small discussion followed between Atul, Biju and
Gurupreet Singh about the pricing strategy of Red Hat
towards the support fees on RHEL.
Atul then handed over the podium to Biju Chacko from
Red Hat for his talk. Biju's talk was on the XFCE
desktop. Biju BTW, is one of the core developers for
the XFCE project, but of late due to other pressing
commitments at the workplace and lack of inspiration,
his contribution has been minimal. Coming back to the
XFCE desktop, it's a desktop environment for
X-Windows. It is a no frills, relatively lightweight,
fast, standards compliant, easy to use technically,
simple, modular, not very highly configurable and most
of all, it doesn't want to dominate like how GNOME and
KDE want to. In other words, it's a desktop
environment for the no-nonsense user. Biju went
into a bit of history of XFCE. It was started in
1996. It is a clone of CDE (Common Desktop
Environment) from Solaris. Now we are talking ! I
didn't know that having used CDE myself earlier.
Anyway, a bit of nostalgia is good once in a while :)
XFCE v1 was written with Xforms. A Window manager was
added in 1997. In 1999 XFCE v3 was re-written using
GTK+ due to license issues with Xforms. Lots of
functionality was added in 1999-2002. In 2002-2003
the entire environment was re-written with GTK 2 and
XFCE v4 was released in the process.
Biju then went on to explain some of the features
included in XFCE v4 which comprise of free desktop
standards, a native interoperability between GNOME &
KDE, development framework for applications which is
very minimal, multichannel settings, Xft fonts,
modular file management features, window manager with
more than 60 themes. A quick demo followed where Biju
demonstrated the XFCE environment with explanation of
the different buttons, fairly customiseable options.
In conclusion from the demo, XFCE is lightweight and
fairly simple to use. Biju then went on to explain
the future roadmap of XFCE 4.2 which will be released
in a few months time. The new features will include
session management, free desktop menuspecs. XFCE 4.4
roadmap has not yet been finalized which may include
new features like desktop icons. Biju then suggested
to the audience as to how we can contribute to XFCE in
our own capacity like filing bug reports, contributing
patches, write simple applications like a notepad,
calculator and panel plug-ins.
A small discussion followed between the audience and
Biju. A question from Gurupreet Singh once again this
time about integrating applications between GNOME &
KDE was answered that Bluecurve is headed in that
direction. Currently XFCE doesn't have that
functionality but can be done eventually. Devadas
Bhagat then posed a question about saving settings in
a desktop for different applications and session
management in X-Windows. Not a bad discussion session
considering that only 28 people turned up at the Meet.
Biju's talk ended after the discussions.
Atul then occupied the podium again to do his demo on
FC2 as planned earlier. He seemed to have sorted out
his display settings to be compatible with the
projector at a reasonable level for the comfort of the
audience. Atul went on to demonstrate the new
graphical tools for system management tasks like
configuring NFS, Samba, etc. It was a pretty good to
see that the graphically inclined System Administrator
would definitely appreciate these new features.
Another Q & A session followed on the Indian Language
support in FC1 & FC2. Some of the screens of GNOME
have been translated into Hindi and Kannada in FC1 &
FC2. Atul finally ended his portion of his talk.
Kartik finally called the meet to an end with the
announcement of the availability of the food. The
meet ended thus with everyone involving with
socializing with their friends over a bite of food.
Well, that is all for the May BLUG Meet folks. A meet
where the veterans of the BLUG - Atul and Biju were
re-united on the stage for the talks. A meet of the
veterans if I may suggest. This meet had a low
turnout of 28 people only. Lets hope 82 people turn
up at the next meet. Until then, Happy Tuxing !
All amounts are in INR
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Anything else is Copyright © 2004 The Bangalore Linux User Group
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