BLUG MEET - 28th May 2004

Hi Everyone,

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 !



Source Income Expenses Balance
Covercharges (28x100) 2800
Hotel Charges 3000
Final Accounts 2800 3000 Nil
All amounts are in INR


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