Saturday, November 8, 2008

PC/OS Discussion on changes

As people have seen from the early screenshots there have been quite a few changes in PC/OS. These changes have stemmed from interface to whats actually included in the distribution. So I decided to go through and explain why some of the changes were made and a dialog of why I had to scale back a little. The interface seems to be the most important so lets discuss that.

The Interface:

Early in the 2009 development cycle we had quite a few discussions with customers and users and they informed us that while they liked the interface it was still too UNIX and the biggest issue they had was getting users used to it. So they wanted some familiarity and this is what we came up with.
The shelf at the bottom similar to Windows XP or Vista. Gadgets was a good idea, people liked em so we kept them in the distribution, so screenlets is included. Why isnt it started by default? Because Screenlets is an optional program, users start it if the need it otherwise they get a clean desktop. We also have a Windows list similar to Mac OS that allows you to view all you open applications. On the shelf we put the most widely used applications, Web Browser, e-mail and terminal. We also have the Pager, CPU graph and volume control and a not taking application.

The next phase of the interface change was the Window theme. While I liked the BeOS theme and still think its viable the team and customers did bring up a good point. The interface was excellent but there was no clear indication of what the buttons do and the outline was such that if they tried to hit close they would hit maximize by accident. So I looked for the most professional looking theme I could and it was included in XFCE called Moheli. The only problem with Moheli was that the concern was raised that it just looks way to much like BlueCurve, used in Red Hat Linux. So I looked around and found one called xGilouche, the only problem was that the text and buttons were black so it looked horrible and the buttons were to close together. So Cris, who works on interface, came up with pcosGilouche which has button spacing perfect and the text is readable and not so cluttered.

The orange default theme was actaully picked because it looks bright, was inviting and did not clash with the system default wallpaper plus it was kind of a tribute to the Ubuntu team since we build upon Ubuntu. The wallpaper I think is a KDE wallpaper which we all liked and thought it looked professional so we decided to go ahead with that idea and thus the new interface was born.

Next, users still like the all in one access to their removable and physical storage so the tracker was put back in and we renamed it Navigator, which is the places applet from XFCE.

This is one shop access to everything from CD's, iPods, and all physical media. So that the shelf wasnt so cluttered we did take out the text from all applets.

Application lineup

We did a lot in terms of application lineup. We updated to 3.0, Abiword 2.6.4, Pidgin 2.5, Flash 10, VLC 0.9.5, uFraw, PhotoPrinter, TrueCrypt as well as the newest Thunderbird and Firefox applications to say the least. All important security updates have also been applied. But lets get to why Flock was removed. Flock was removed because it was bloated and had a lot of features my customers and users didnt want or just didnt need. The Flock development team was non-responsive to several inquiries made We had made the decision to remove Flock way before Flock Inc. decided to ask us to remove it. It was replaced with Firefox 3. It was decided to put in MediaPlayer Connectivity so that users could pick and choose which application to use when playing back web video although VLC is the default.

We had originally planned to ship wicd but with the liveCD format and the subsequent reinstall it played proverbial havok so we had to scale back to Network Manager 0.6. We also removed Audacious and put in Exaile as users wanted a more streamlined audio experience. Eclipse, QTDesigner and Gambas 2 were the most requested development environments so we put those in there.

Font management also was a requested feature so we put in FontMatrix..

The multimedia creation tools have been scaled back and users have a subset in there but the rest of them that would create a compelling alternative to UbuntuStudio are now offered in a seperate bonus disk. In this disk we also included to real time kernel thats used in Ubuntu studio so users can use that kernel should they decide to.

So while a lot has changed from original plans we still have a very worthwhile release. One that Im satisfied with. A lot of work has gone into it and I do hope everyone does appreciate it. PC/OS is growing and I look forward to the future.

We do believe that with the feature set we are a viable alternative to other distro. We believe current users, new users, developers and professionals from allwalks can use this release.

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