31 August, 2010

Banshee & GNOME

Since a couple of days I'm using the Banshee music player. Last sunday I installed openSUSE with GNOME on my desktop system to play around with it. Banshee surely stuck - I installed it on my laptop with Plasma desktop as well. It's a very nice player with only one weird thing: it really really likes Opeth. Often I set it to play some electronic music at random, then it suddenly starts moves to metal - Opeth usually. Not that I greatly dislike that, I just have no idea why it does it ;-)

Suusie GNOME being nice

Otherwise, openSUSE is treating me reasonably well. The NVIDIA drivers on my desktop are less of a hassle than Intel was on my laptop - they do make the screen fuzzy sometimes, and Compiz really works horrible so I had to disable desktop effects in GNOME. KWin works almost fine somehow... Just a tad slow. GNOME Shell does desktop effects best: completely sharp screen, good performance. It does seem to restart itself sometimes but only the screen goes to showing only the wallpaper for a few seconds.

(I know newer NVIDIA/Xorg/Kernel should solve these issues, btw, I'll just install newer versions once I feel they're stable enough)

Tracker is great - incredibly fast and very little effect on system resources as far as I could tell. Sorry for Nepomuk but when it comes to actually finding files - no dice, it just crashes a lot. Both fill my .xsession-errors up like crazy, however. Vuntz has asked for the tracker errors already :D

In general, GNOME is fast and lean. Only Banshee sometimes manages to sometimes use 161% cpu on my desktop - rather impressive. Luckily I have a nice quadcore :D

Evo less so

Evolution was quite painful, I stopped using it. With the treeview (flat lists don't work with more than 10 mails/day) it is almost impossible to see the individual messages - the 'tree' itself is completely hidden, only showing small triangles leaving you guessing what thread a message belongs to. I added this to the GNOME Pet Peeves Project page, hope someone can fix it... Of course, maybe I just couldn't find the configuration option, lemme know if that's the case and I'll say sorry :D



The keyboard shortcuts don't work for me either - I am used to using the left and right arrow keys to go through the list of messages and the up and down to scroll through the message itself. And keys like A, R and L to reply to all, sender or a list. Not figured out how to configure that and for efficient use of my time, this is crucial. Same with Liferea, btw.

I found out that Xchat didn't do what I needed from IRC (like putting names behind the nicks in the list and hiding part/join messages), neither did Empathy, but Pidgin is much more convenient. And to be honest, it looks better than any messaging app I've used before. I don't use chat (other than IRC) very often so I haven't installed in on my laptop yet, but I might.

Cheese rocks, period. I can however only say that from previous experience - not current, as neither my desktop webcam nor my laptop webcam work :(


Thanks to the Oxygen-molecule theme GTK applications fit in KDE very well. The only exception is the system tray - they don't understand that it is transparent so they show ugly squares behind the icons. But the work on sharing a notification spec makes sure they use the normal notifications in Plasma, nice touch! Within GNOME the KDE apps adjust their theme automatically with the exception for icons - not sure if that's intended or a bug.

Bansee in Plasma Desktop (I must admit I had to adjust colors a bit to make it fit really well - somehow the Oxygen Molecule theme has its colors slightly-off)

GNOME desktops

GNOME offers two desktops - the 'old' one and GNOME Shell. What I like about the default desktop is how easy it is to add applets to the panel - I always want a load applet there to see what is going on. Otherwise it works ok-ish but it ain't very special - unlike GNOME Shell.

GNOME Shell is quite unfinished as it is undergoing heavy development. It seems to ignore about 4 out of 5 clicks of my mouse making it a bit cumbersome to use. Yet I already prefer it over the normal desktop - if only just because I love seeing something new and exciting. It provides a very intuitive way of working with one or more desktops and windows. Most of that intuitivity is in small details - like the ripple effect you see when you bump your mousecursor to the top-right corner of the screen. They still have to improve the menu's but app search already works awesome. While it doesn't work here I know you can just drag an app to one of your virtual destkops to start it there - awesome! So despite the current issues I would definately say GNOME Shell the right direction for GNOME development.

This turned out a bit too long

I initially wanted to write about Banshee alone, cuz I like it - but now this is about pretty much all of my GNOME experience in a few days :D

I might blog more about it, but first I'm working on some OBS and SUSE Studio things - they're both pretty awesome. Oh and did you know you can win 10K with a good SUSE Studio appliance?


  1. I accidentally installed tracker a few weeks ago, it left my computer so low it was nearly unusable for a couple of days until I uninstalled it again.

  2. I was looking for a new mp3 player, Amarok is frustrating me over and over because of its playlist handling full of problems and insane defaults. Unfortunately Banshee uses Mono, I really do not like that. I can live with gnomelibs and other stuff (I already use nm-applet for testing anyway) but patented products from Microsoft running in Linux scares me. I do not like to depend on Microsoft's benevolence (whatever it exists at all).

    Amarok also sometimes repeats the song it has just finished to play and I do not know why it keeps playing songs with very low scores even though I configured it to priviledge the high score ones. This is one of the problems that pisses me of.

    Call me purist but I am also not fan of gstreamer and pulseaudio, those are dependencies to run Banshee. I use pure phonon/xine/alsa(with dmix in my old notebook, the current one does not need dmix anymore) with Amarok and Juk (I am testing this one) and have never had such fancy problems and crashes about those two APIs that all bugzillas out there are full of.

    The first screenshot is really cool. Most notebook webcams uses the old uvcvideo.ko driver, which still uses Video For Linux 1, try modprobing uvcvideo to see if your webcam works.

  3. GMusicBrowser could be the right choice for you: Mono-free, fast as hell, completely configurable and selectable audio backends (Pulse, JACK, Alsa, etc.) See http://gmusicbrowser.org/screenshots.html for details. Also a good player, but with PulseAudio dependency, is Guayadwque.

  4. I like very much that tracker actually works. Instead nepomuk being more a technology demo than a search tool. Nepomuk needs few things.

    1) a working UI.
    Currently the tagging, commenting, goes well with the dolphin information panel. But really, saving files in semantik dialog (the semantik and file buttons in open/save dialoges) is more difficult way than actually saving files to good directory hierarchary in the old way. And the searching really needs a UI. It should not just be from KRunner what is just too uneffective when compared to tracker UI. Or from Kickoff what is not good place either. And the Dolphin UI is a mess as well but most promising. But without a good calender view on sidepanel where you could select a day, week, month or just specific row of the dates (all mondays from last monday) or from day 12 to day 21. And when there is no easy way to actually say what file type you want.

    2) A realtime strigi indexing. User can not wait hours or days that files gets indexed. When the file is modified, created or deleted, it must be updated to index. If I receive a file as email attachment. I want it to be found right away from search, not tomorrow.

    3) The nepomuk/strigi usage must be as easy that normal user can use the mouse to select search criteria. Or just type exactly like "text document from last week meeting" or "photo from Phils holiday"

    And if there is going to be some kind queries. They should be easy to understand. Like "document, week 22, size <2MiB" or "picture, created yesterday, 1920x1200"

    What comes Gnome Shell, I do not like it at all. It is nice idea and it is good that other kind functions are tried. But the idea to handle virtual desktops dynamically is just out of the question. Idea that you start managing the applications on the virtual desktops is why we actually first place invented the windowmanager. What would allow us to leave the window management to it and us to focus to tasks. KWin does great job on this when you can tie specific windows to specific virtual desktops and name them to those tasks. Acticities are as well great idea but they still are lacking the polishing so they could be used by normal people.

    And especially Plasma Workspace needs the feature to allow a custom panels in every virtual desktop and every activity. Forcing to have same panels on every activity and virtual desktop is not good. Give us freedom to get activities and desktops what suites to every tasks and people start using KDE workspace more activitely.

    And the Mono question in the GNOME. It is awull. I have tried to use Banshee, F-Spot and Tomboy. They are totally useless. They crash and jam the whole computer (dual core, 4GB RAM). They do have some nice simple ideas but they just does not work. GNote is much better than Tomboy, F-Spot is just useless and Banshee is nice for very small music collections.

    I would use Amarok 2.2.3 more if it would have a support for standard ID3 to separate albums and CD's. Now when Amarok handles CD's as they are albums it does not work. It is totally useless for albums what has multiple CD's. Especially the sound books what can have 16-42 CD's. Or as today many albums are with two CD's. You need to hack the album name to included non-correct info in them like CD2 or CD3.

    If Amarok developers or someone would just add a Amarok database a support to filter by Artists, Albums, CD.
    So we could get database order like:

    Artist 1
    -> Album A
    -> Album B
    -> CD1
    -> CD2
    -> Album C
    Artist 2
    -> Album A
    -> CD1
    -> CD2
    -> Album B
    -> CD1
    -> CD2
    -> CD3
    -Album C
    -Album D

  5. Lamarque: I would go with either Exaile or Clementine. The former is PyGTK (though it uses GStreamer I believe) and mature, the latter is less mature, but pure Qt. Both are heavily influenced by the classic Amarok 1.4: Clementine is a Qt4 port of it, whereas Exaile was merely inspired by it.

  6. I totally agree with Fri13. This might not be the right forum. Have you posted this on the blogs of the nepomuk and amarok developers?

    I love KDE but the last finishing touch is missing, alltough it's getting better for each release. KDE 4.5 is starting to look good!

  7. I like gmusicbrowser very much :-). It is full of options (like that), I do not like the default settings so I changed several things here. It looks more like Amarok now, except for the bugs in the playlist :-D. It is faster than Amarok to startup and after loaded the speed is about the same, but Amarok is much more faster to scan my mp3 even though I have less than one thousand of them. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Lamarque

    You said you dont like products patentet by Microsoft

    Mono is fully Free and Open Software

    C# is put under the Community Promise by Microsoft. That means every man or woman on this earth is allowed to use it, implement it and somewhat in every way he want

    Java is much much more probrietary. C#/Mono is just that hates becease its from Microsoft, not becease its bad in any way.

    People dislike Mono in case of principles. Thats all.

  9. It is easier to switch to another mp3 player than have one of the bugs solved. Some of them are more than one year old, several are about things not working as expected. With a bit of effort they could be solved quickly, but nobody seems to care about fixing them. Look for "amarok playlist" in bugs.kde.org, 209 bugs found, just for one Amarok's component. My patience with Amarok is over, I am switching to a new mp3 player.

  10. @Vamp898, I talked about the patents here, has Microsoft given up the patents on .NET? I do not think so.

  11. It somewhat puzzles me why nepomuk/strigi experience seems to vary so widely. Unlike kwin effects and such, these should have no dependence on the underlying hardware, so the only thing that should affect experience seems to be distro packaging. And yet, nepomuk/strigi has worked extremely well for me on OpenSUSE since 4.4 (not counting the CPU load spike during initial indexing).

  12. @ Vamp898: "C#/Mono is just that hates becease its from Microsoft, not becease its bad in any way."

    Yes, rightly or wrongly a patent owned by a company that has demonstrated a strong dedication to open-source software is less worrisome to people than a patent owned by a company which had demonstrated a strong opposition to open-source software. I don't think such a perspective is totally without merit.

  13. @Anonymous
    "Have you posted this on the blogs of the nepomuk and amarok developers?"

    I have maded bug reports, few mockups and so on. But there is only two Nepomuk developers and it is going slowly. And the search UI's for the Dolphin have been denied until now there is again a new trying from them to join KFind and Nepomuk to Dolphin location bar.
    There are those few other projects like SemBrowser what have some promise but the whole Nepomuk thing is more like in freeze state. Nepomuk have been on the wall since KDE SC was announced as KDE4 and there have not much been functionality. And now it is sad to watch how few people pulls out something like a tracker and makes it work better way than Nepomuk. Even that Nepomuk is superior technology, but we just can not get developers and usability people to work with that. Nepomuk alone is a key technology for KDE SC.

    Third party developers can not start using Nepomuk because is is not in good shape to use. And it is sad that the UI for it is now merely designed for the advanced users instead the normal users who just want to specify the time from calender view and one or two clicks of the type and get done with it. Or then type the search with normal words and not with "nepomuksearch:/tag: date:+5 > 2" and so on. I have lost hope for the Nepomuk and I must say that I am waiting it to be at any usable state not earlier than KDE SC 5 series. Even the Akonadi and whole KDEPim does not work as people would expect. And I am so sad for their developers because normal users does not care about migration tools and error messages or fancy stuff what is told, if they can not get the technology work. That is the Achilles heel for the KDE SC. We have very amazing technology what normal users can not use. I have gaved two changes to see Nepomuk in usable state and now I have already forgotten it. When I as well found tracker a week ago, I was amazed that I really could search files on Linux desktop.

    "C# is put under the Community Promise by Microsoft. That means every man or woman on this earth is allowed to use it, implement it and somewhat in every way he want"

    Promises are not good enough. Microsoft can sell or transferr a patent of any .NET technology to any other party, even for a single person or partner company (with own backroom deals) and that public promise does not hold anymore. That is widely used trick to sue companies (or people) using your technology. Promise means nothing when compared to license.

    So all what MS needs to do, is to "sell" one of the widely used .NET patent to example a ex-worker who have just started a one man company and then she/he could sue all other companies what MS wants.

    Mono code can be licensed as F/OSS but it is not protected at all by the promise you will never get sued by using a technology for what MS currently owns patents. It is not total risk free, far from it. It is taking a horse without looking to it mouth.

    "C#/Mono is just that hates becease its from Microsoft, not becease its bad in any way."

    I dont care is it from Microsoft, Apple or from who. But it is just very stupid and naive to trust big company promise for not to sue.
    I dont like Mono because it is slow. Even a .NET software for Windows are slow, like Paint.net. Slow as hell. Buggy, crashy and so on.

    I bought my hardware to actually use it (example, 4GB RAM just to get it filled with disk cache and so on, not to keep it empty) but use it so that I get faster and more responsive computer than without the upgraded parts. But I did not upgrade the computer just to run a one software what is coded with language or technology what causes my computer running like Windows 95 at computer of 386 and 8MB RAM. Then I could just go back to the Windows.

  14. @Anonymous
    "Yes, rightly or wrongly a patent owned by a company that has demonstrated a strong dedication to open-source software is less worrisome to people than a patent owned by a company which had demonstrated a strong opposition to open-source software. I don't think such a perspective is totally without merit."

    I dont take either. And the lately PR polishing from Microsoft how they "love the open source" I take with very seriously because Microsoft has over 20 years old history of stabbing to everyones back (from partners to governments and individuals) and even today they do very damaging work against open source and the whole world. They are as well bad company by the way how they wants to present them as "innovator" while they do not actually innovate almost anything.

    Now (or ever) trusting Microsofti is just very naive. They have had their two changes already and they have proofed to be not trusth worthy a hundreds of times. Why we should start trusting now? Did CEO suddenly find a God and wants to make Microsoft as a good company?

    We have technology what overhandles the C# and Mono or are at least at same level. And even that if we would not have, I would still not take any technology to in use from company what has abused laws, moral code and rights of the whole world as long as I would have a alternative.
    Otherwise we could easily just forget all the ethics and the whole history of the Microsoft actions and jump to the plane. Even that we can see from the window the amount of the earlier plane wreckets what tells us that the plane will not make off the ground. But instead we could just lower the windowshield and cross our fingers and pray.

    I always give people a second change. But if they betray me again, I am not trusting anymore.

  15. Regarding strigi: 0.72 has a lot of crashing bugs which are solved in svn, so the next release will help a lot, these include crashes when indexing flac, rpm, maildir and probably other files. So since everbody has them somewhere on the disk the likelyhood of strigi crashing while indexing is very high.

    If people encounter crashes they should use rdfindexer on single folders and files to track down the file that makes strigi crash and report the crash including the file at strigi's sourceforge page.

    Another thing that makes strigi crash on openSUSE is actually a packaging bug. You can check that by opening a konsole and simply running rdfindexer on any file. On openSUSE, if you have kdepim installed, it will crash due to a symbol lookup error.

    symbol lookup error: /usr/lib64/libldap-2.4.so.2: undefined symbol:

    As a workaround you have to remove /usr/lib(64)/strigi/strigiea_vcf.so and strigiea_ics.so

    Regarding the search UI I have to agree 100%. No useable search UI -> no use to the user.

  16. The problem with Strigi is not just crashing. On me Strigi does not crash. Some people it might but I dont count it as so big problem because such can be fixed just like tracking the file and then getting update.

    But really, the configuration problems (it should be like Dolphin, you install Nepomuk/Strigi and then you configure the directories and done) and the missing realtime indexing. Strigi really should index in realtime.

    On me the strigi has never taken lots of CPU. Not even when my home directory on 250GB is almost full. But when you save a file and on few hours later you come to search it, you can not find it at all. So kill strigi daemon, restart it and let it check the whole HD to get that file indexed is not the right way to do it.

  17. Strigi does index in realtime. If you compile it you see that it needs fam or gamin.

  18. I have fam and gaming installed and it does not index realtime. It takes from few hours to a day to index just created text. Unless restarted the daemon from settings. Not good at all.

  19. Thanks for interesting post, Jos.
    As Amarok1 fan I'm using Clementine for now...
    Additional thanks goes for pointing me at Opeth, great band, listening them all evening :)

  20. Microsoft have patents on .NET not on C#

    Nobody cares about .NET or does anyone of you uses .NET? Does it even run in any way on Linux? I dont think so

    We talk about Mono, an implemention for C#

    Microsoft given all rights on C# away to the community (by putting it in the Community Promise) and clearly stated that they dont want to stop Mono in any way, the opposite.

    Microsoft releases more and more parts of .NET in there own OpenSource Licence so Mono can use them.

    So yes i dont care if .NET is patented or not. I never used it and never will use it. Banshee doesn´t use it too. They all use Mono as C# implemention

    btw. your Evolution Tree-View (Grouping) just look that crappy cause SuSE. SuSE wants to keep people away from GNOME and so they change a lot in GNOME to make it the most ugly and horrible Desktop Environment in the world

    If you use a real/standard/vanilla GNOME, GNOME will look completely different than the GNOME in SuSE

    Also the Grouping of Evolution works the same way than the grouping of KMail does. It looks nearly identical.

    So dont blame the poor Evolution for SuSE hate.

  21. I installed Evolution on my KDE System. just for you. imported my e-mails and searched for some interesting topics


    do you see that? It works awesome! Nearly identic than KMail

    Its all SuSEs fault in the end...

  22. Mono is a .NET implementation and uses C# as main programming language as .NET does. .NET and Mono are not restricted to C#, you can use other programming languages with both, so the patents Microsoft has on .NET applies to Mono too. Well, here in my Gentoo box portage lists Mono as dependency to compile Banshee.

  23. @Vamp898: You have no clue how openSUSE is organised otherwise you would not talk that bollocks. The Gnome team within openSUSE and Novell is very passionate about their desktop. You just have to read the mailinglist archives regarding setting the default DE to KDE.

    Nobody but the Gnome team decides how Gnome looks thus nobody within openSUSE who is in charge of how the Gnome desktop looks or what it consists of is trying to keep people away from Gnome. On the contrary. Just look up who Untz is what he does within the Gnome community ad who he works for.

    Further, gnome is the main desktop on Novell's enterprise products, so regarding Novell one could state the opposite, i.e. they are trying to lead customers to Gnome and not KDE.

    Next thing, AFAIK Novell is the main developer and maintainer of Evolution, so if you everything you like about Evolution is because of Novell, everything you dislike is probably because of Novell.


    So please get the facts right before commenting! Otherwise it just makes you look silly.

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  27. "they do make the screen fuzzy sometimes, and Compiz really works horrible so I had to disable desktop effects in GNOME. KWin works almost fine somehow... Just a tad slow. GNOME Shell does desktop effects best: completely sharp screen, good performance. "

    You've got to be kidding :) Compiz runs fast! Kwin is sometimes faster, but only sometimes and in some cases. Gnome shell sucks and stop saying bull it does desktop effects bests. I don't know what you mean saying completely sharp screen, you can be sure it's completely sharp using Kwin too. While gnome shell will be usable it will be light years behind Kwin.

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  29. You claim KDE runs slowest on openSUSE? Where are your facts?

    c´mon xD everyone knows that. EVERYONE

    Just install Archlinux with KDE and openSuSE with KDE.

    There are even official Videos from SuSE where you can see how slow it is! Just watch the Video of the installation DVD. They also show the start of KDE and start some applications. There computer is faster than mine and the Video uses fast motion and my System is still slower in real time!!

    Thats just.... W T F

    A SuSE KDE System recorded in fast Motion is still slower than a real KDE on a real Distribution...

    With this Video you can say that SuSE proofed there own beeing the slowest.

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  32. FYI I decided to remove a bunch of posts cuz it got a bit too hot in here. The whole KDE vs GNOME and Fedora/Ubuntu VS Suse discussion was silly beyond belief, sorry.

    Re fuzzy screen, Compiz, KWin and GNOME Shell: well, I also wouldn't expect GNOME Shell to beat Compiz and KWin right now - but on my system, it DID (except for instability). Little I can say about that - but it's a fact. And you know how hardware dependent the 3D stuff is so don't tell me it's crap ;-)

    Re the Novell/Mono stuf: while I know little about the thing, being against C# because MS has patents on .NET is silly in every way. First of all because there are surely MS patents on every 20 lines of code in any app you use - the whole patent system is crazy beyond belief, MS or no MS. Second because .NET are the libraries (no patents there, just copyright) and C# is the bloody language - like Java or C or Python one can have patents on aspects of it but those are littered throughout the industry - I'm very sure Oracle (Sun) now has patents applicable to C# too. And MS has probably patents applicable to Java. Who cares?

  33. Since SCO case every opensource developer should care about patents and copyright. The Linux kernel has changed its patch submitting process because of that case, so there are several people who cares about that. For users it may not be important, but it is for developers.

  34. "Re the Novell/Mono stuf: while I know little about the thing, being against C# because MS has patents on .NET is silly in every way. "

    The main problem is C# is slow as crap. Patents are less important, but still. Isn't there better place to advertise mono product like banshee and Gnome then KDE planet? And no, it's not silly. It's M$ language and it is known M$ has patents which doesn't allow people to use mono the way they want. Again, am I able to use mono, mono applications and not fear about patents if I didn't download it directly from novell? Gnome shell is a crap right now :-) All this zooming in and out makes my eyes to roll out.


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