0install feeds in transition

A heads-up to those who have been using the 0install application feeds I used to maintain for the OSR group at mojo.informatik.uni-erlangen.de: as I’m no longer employed there, the service has been disabled.

I’ve transitioned the feeds to http://hircus.multics.org/interfaces; the Git repository is now on Github. Currently only Skype (and its dependencies) and Eclipse JEE (and its Java dependency) have been switched over; the other feeds are still set to the previous hosting site. Please file bugs if you need need a particular application feed fixed, find a problem, or file an enhancement request if you’d like to see an app packaged!
Oh, and for those who saw the lightning talk at FUDCon:

$ su -c "yum install 0install-injector" $ 0desktop http://rox.sourceforge.net/2005/interfaces/ROX-Filer # to get the ROX-Filer file manager added to your desktop # or $ 0alias rox http://rox.sourceforge.net/2005/interfaces/ROX-Filer # to get a command-line launcher in your path 
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A guide to Thunderbird for Gmail users

James Fallows of The Atlantic — a highly-recommended journalist and blogger, for those who have not come across his writing yet — recently re-expressed his dissatisfaction with Gmail’s new UI; and mulled switching to Thunderbird but worried about memory usage.

From Screenshots

As someone who did the same transition a while back, I remember going through that issue and then some. Memory usage, lack of integration with Google Contacts (exacerbated with the seamless contact sync of Android phones), a UI that makes it hard to manage multiple email accounts, and vertical space being taken up by the menu bar.

Thankfully, Thunderbird being extensible, there are setting tweaks and extensions for all of these; as James found them useful, I thought I’d re-share them here:
  • Memory usage – a well-documented problem; the solution is to not synchronize your All Mail folder.
  • Using Gmail folders – While you’re at it, Thunderbird’s auto-configuration for Gmail accounts does not use the special folders by default; you’d want to set them in Copies & Folders and Junk Settings. You’d probably also want to visit Server Settings and disable “Check for new messages” (so TB would use Push-IMAP instead of polling) and set the deletion behavior to “mark it as deleted” instead of moving it to Trash – remember that Google would archive your mail instead of deleting it. Optionally disable Message Archives in Copies & Folders – just use the web interface to find old messages
  • Drafts folder – an advantage of using Gmail’s drafts folder, instead of the local one, is that you can access drafts from other computers. A drawback, though, is that TB auto-saves regularly as you edit your message, and if you use an IMAP folder, it discards old drafts by moving them to trash. The Auto Save Drafts Folders extension let you adjust this behavior (in Copies & Folders); just use the local drafts folder for auto-saved copies.
  • Handling multiple inboxes – View->Folders->Unified. This really ought to be the default…
  • Contact syncthere’s an extension for that. It’s flawless for reading your Google Contacts; I’d not use it to edit contacts though, just in case some information gets lost due to mismatches in available fields
  • Compact menu – Firefox’s main menu has recently been reworked, but Thunderbird’s has not; you can use this extension if, say, you use a widescreen laptop and want to recover vertical space real estate.

Hope that’s of some use to some folks!

FUDCon: Fedora and Brownian motion

A really cool benefit of being at FUDCon is that, with many people representing various interests being physically present in the same room, there is a lot of ad hoc productivity. Perhaps a Brownian motion model of development-at-conference, in addition to the cathedral and bazaar models?

Kushal Das recounted yesterday on the per-chance work on updating the packaging for lekhonee-gnome (which I’m using at the moment to write this post). Christoph Wickert‘s barcamp session yesterday (on collaboration with other projects) ended up spilling over and merging into the next session on live media, with some interesting ideas emerging about improving the installation experience.
Today I approached Joshua Wulf to troubleshoot a problem updating the crowd-sourced Fedora book, and ended up looking into fixing the Avant Window Manager (decided in the end that it’s probably not worth putting too much effort since upstream development has stalled, but discovered a cool alternative in Cairo Dock).
In a distributed project, there is often a communication lag — things happen quickly if you catch the relevant people on IRC, but communication on mailing lists and bug trackers is by nature slower. And there is that je ne sais quoi that is physical presence that is missing in the ethereal world of the Internet — you look at someone’s computer, see they’re running an older version of Fedora because a crucial piece of their desktop is no longer supported, and start looking into solution.
Things do flourish in a community — as Hillary Clinton said, it does indeed take a village.