December 13th, 2010

A child of five could understand this. Fetch me a child of five.

So I'm working for Parallels now, which is a russian company, and livejournal is owned by russians, so maybe I should blog about work here. (Well, the open source bits I'd be blogging about anyway. Not in any sort of official cpacity, I just tend to blog notes-to-self so I can look back a month week later and remember what I was doing.)

Setting up Xubuntu on my new system. (That's Ubuntu with the "simple" XFCE desktop, which has the advantage of not being Gnome.)

I installed the "stable" Ubuntu 10.04 LTS ("Long Term Support") version because I don't want to fiddle with it more than necessary (I have things to _do_ with this laptop), and because several people have warned me away from 10.10 as an unusable disaster. (The first release after an LTS is where all the new experimental features get added, and this time it apparently didn't work in a big way.)

Going with an older release may have been a mistake, because this hardware is newer than the OS and thus isn't quite supported. It installed, found the CD, hard drive, memory, CPUS, and set the display to 1366x768 (which may even be right, I'm not asking about 3D right now). But the wireless card doesn't work. So I'm reading through dmesg and lspci and trying to figure out what the box has got in it, which bits are important, and what's wrong with them.

The wireless doesn't work because it can't load the wilwifi-6050 firmware file. (The driver loaded, there's a wlan0, but it doesn't do anything.) Presumably fixable if I can get the file onto the box, so I plug my phone into the USB and find the second problem.

I have no idea why the USB doesn't work, the ehci_hcd driver claims to find 6 ports but I plugged my phone into all four (it lies) and it never established a connection. Possibly software suspend horked it, I'll try again after a reboot.

XFCE is getting stranger all the time. You right click on the workspace switcher to choose whether it shows all your desktops in a single row or in two rows, but to select how _many_ you get you go to the applications menu, click settings, click settings manager, navigate to workspaces, and then select from there. It lets you rename your workspaces, but doesn't seem to save the result, and the rename thingy is crazy anyway (first click selects the whole bar and lets cursor up and down in the list, second click selects the thing and lets you rename it but the whole thing starts highlighted so anything you type wipes out the existing entry, third click actually gives you a cursor because that's such an obscure thing to want... oh, and the two workspaces you start with default to "1" and "2", but the others you add are "Workspace 3" and up, so it's inherently inconsistent.).

The screensaver is not in the "settings manager". The screensaver is its own entry under the applications->settings menu. Once you find it, you notice there _is_ no entry about the fact it dims the screen to unreadability every 2 minutes. No, that's in the settings manager,

By the way, the "Settings manager" is not the same thing as the "Settings editor" in the same menu, which is not the thing you get when you right click on the background and select "desktop settings". Those are all different.

I repeat: open source development has a structural problem dealing with user interface issues. To reference my "prototype and the fan club" talk from Flourish, coherent aesthetic decisions have to be made at the editorial level. The slush pile is inconsistent by nature, consistency has to be imposed on it editorially, and that's not just yes/no filtering decisions but active refactoring of the incoming data. Which is a ton of
work and assumes your editor is capable of it and values it enough to make time for it.

Anyway, the box _also_ has wireless ethernet, which it loaded a driver for, which might even work. So I need to go home, fend off the cats, dig up a cat5 cable, shovel my way to the router (it's behind several large piles of books, a monitor, and a tangle of cables), and see if I that works works.

On an amusing note, several of my old laptop's keys (M and N most noticeably) have a big groove right down the middle. This confused me until i noticed that on the new laptop with the fresh keyboard (and the ESC and cursor keys in WEIRD PLACES)... I'm hitting M and N with my fingernail.

I may also need a new backpack. This laptop is CLEAN and the laptop compartment of my backpack... isn't. (Cat hair! Bread crumbs! Leaf bits! Fluff! It's amazing what you'll accumulate carrying something around with you every day for three years...)
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