Winter solstice, Equinox and Hardware

Dear readers! Since you are reading this, the world has not ceased to exist. *g*

As you have probably noticed, things are a little slow right now… This is due to the fact that I had a hardware failure of my main PC. I didn’t lose any data, so it’s actually not too bad. However it struck me in not at the best time either. I’m going to move houses in late January and therefore I won’t have much time to work on EERIE in early 2013 (probably I won’t even have any internet connection for a while in February). Because of that I would have liked to make a few posts this December – but that obviously didn’t work.

This little post is just to keep you updated. I’ve neither grown tired of EERIE nor did I cancel the project. It will continue sooner or later!

In other news: It was Winter solstice yesterday, the longest night of the year is over. Quite fitting to that astrological theme, the first packages of the Equinox Desktop Environment (EDE) were released, too. This light-weight desktop is available for Arch Linux now without any compiling. Hopefully more distros get supported sooner or later!

And since ELDER (the upcoming experimental distribution) will be following a Nordic / Viking theme, too, here’s a burning sun wheel for you:

“Victory of the light!”

Essential graphical applications

After some entries about the “Desktop Demo DVD” we’re now coming back to planing the experimental new distribution that EERIE is actually about.

The most visible decision every distribution has to make is certainly which applications it features on a standard installation. This post is to examine which kinds of programs are to be considered essential or at least important.

Distributions and applications

Each GNU/Linux distro comes with a bunch of standard applications. In some cases there are few such programs and in others there are a lot of them. Usually there’s some kind of pattern which the selection follows. For example one might preselect the candidates according to how slim or how feature-rich they are or by the toolkit they use.

Using Linux we’re really spoiled when it comes to loads of software easily accessible and often already pre-installed. Of course: Windows comes with a calculator, too; there’s notepad, paint, the internet explorer and a few other applications. But think of a fresh install (and consider for a second how much space that system occupies on your drive!): How to play your music encoded in Ogg Vorbis? How to look at a pdf document? How to even burn an iso to a CD/DVD/BluRay?

If you’re using a distribution like e.g. Linux Mint you won’t have any such problems. Right after installation it can cope with all these tasks. It can also download large files via torrent, it let’s you access Jabber, ICQ, Yahoo!, etc, and much more. And even if you’re using a distro with a more light-weight approach, they’re usually still just a single console command away.

We are not to examine particular programs here and compare them with each other (Something like that will be done in a future blog post). This entry is simply meant to collect which kinds of programs any distribution should provide so that it doesn’t feel lacking anything essential. Of course there are many things that can be done just as well using the console. But in EERIE’s case planning is for a light-weight desktop distribution, isn’t it?

Essential applications

  1. The most important application, I’d say, is a terminal emulator. Without it I feel close to being locked out of my system. And as soon as you have one, you can use your pc in graphical mode even if it lacks any other graphical applications!
  2. Second is a file manager. Without it a classical DE is not worth much! It can be far more comfortable to browse the files on your system graphically.
  3. Third comes a text editor, at least for me. Not being able to even manipulate a simple configuration file or something like that just feels horrible.

There are some more programs that I’d call “essential” but can’t decide which “rank” they take. So the following list is an unsorted one:

  • A web browser so that you have access to the net.
  • A simple picture viewer that supports at least the most common graphic formats.
  • A pdf viewer to render pdf documents.
  • A music player so you can listen to your music collection.
  • A word processor to compose documents.
  • A CD/DVD recording software.

This is – from my point of view – more or less the core of applications that absolutely must be available and that can easily make a distro unusable if they are missing.

Important programs

Other than these “core applications” there are of course some more which are likely to be painfully missed if not available. I’ll try to compile another unordered list for them:

  • A movie player that lets you watch some videos.
  • A spread sheet application.
  • An organizer that lets you keep track of your appointments.
  • An instant messenger so you can keep in touch with your contacts
  • An archiver to extract archives or compress files.
  • An image manipulation programm.

Other programs

The above mentioned software does of course not yet cover all needs. There’s no scanning application yet, no torrent client, no hex editor or things like that.

However we have to draw the line somewhere. But since I’m going to explore the world of graphical applications some more with my next posts, I wanted to write about what I consider essential or important, first. Please feel free to comment on the topic and tell me if you think that I’m missing something that’s important or even essential for you or if you could well live without something that I thought was a must-have.

What’s next?

I’ll compile a list of Qt-based applications next and take a little look at them.