Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fedora 13 & Gnome Shell - looking great.

Having just declared my admiration of Ubuntu 10.04's slick new look, too soon has my in-built need to find something better kicked-in. Not that there's anything wrong with Ubuntu 10.04, but I've always been a Fedora fan, and with version 13 due for release on 25 May, I had to give the latest beta a try. And I reckon it's great.

Having installed the Gnome live CD to my hard disk, all my usual apps have installed well. Fedora's default theme though, despite some attractive wallpapers, is looking rather out of date in my opinion. Having enjoyed Ubuntu's latest look, I went in search of a way of improving Fedora's look, and installing Gnome Shell (a preview of the new user interface due in Gnome 3.0 later this year) seems to have done the trick.

Gnome Shell is still under development and therefore incomplete, but from my initial tests, it is already very usable and stable. If you want to learn more about what it does, I suggest you follow the official tour here. Otherwise, below is a quick guide to getting it working in Fedora 13:

1. Open the Add/Remove Programs package manager, and install the following package:


2. Once installed (it only takes a few seconds to download), open the Desktop Effects settings, in which you will notice a new option for Gnome Shell. Enable this now:

3. That's it. Simple eh?

Below are a couple of screenshots of the new desktop in action. Of course, getting this working depends on your system having a compatible graphics card and drivers, but I believe if you are already able to run Compiz, then Gnome Shell should work too. My test laptop has in-built Intel graphics and works fine.

So I think I'll stick with Fedora & Gnome Shell for the time being (farewell Ubuntu!), and very much look forward to Fedora 14 later this year, which should hopefully include Gnome 3.0 and Gnome Shell by default.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx): By 'eck it's gorgeous!

After switching regularly between Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu for years, I've finally found a Linux distribution I think I can call 'home'. The lovely Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is it.

I won't go into much technical detail here - by now there will be huge numbers of online reviews picking through the distro in minute detail. Below are a couple of pictures of how my desktop looks on my Acer Aspire laptop. I love the new Gnome theme, and choice of backgrounds. In my opinion this is the closest a Linux desktop has come to rivaling the sleek lines of Mac OS X, and maintaining an original modern look. And I like the new window control position in the top left corner. I tend to drag windows off to the right of the screen to temporarily hide them, so having the controls still visible, poking out from the edge of the screen when I do so, is just better.

Behind the scenes, everything seems to just work: apps install easily through the Software Centre; security is handled by the reasonably simple ufw firewall and Apparmor; and it all happens really fast, boot and shutdown especially so.

I've also installed Ubuntu 10.04 on my HP Mini 110 netbook (the full desktop, rather than the netbook remix) and it runs beautifully. Additionally I've upgraded my media server to Mythbuntu 10.04 from 9.04, and all is well. Finally, I have tried Kubuntu 10.04, but have yet to commit it to hard disk - Ubuntu's new Gnome theme is just too nice to leave!

So, go try it - it's awesome. I'll leave you with a couple of screenshots and an obvious 6 May pun: Ubuntu 10.04 LTS get's my vote!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brooklands Hotel, Surrey. Boys with toys, check in now!

Last week I had the opportunity to stay a night in the new Brooklands Hotel in Surrey. Built within the original historic race track (and indeed, the foyer is slap-bang on the Solomon Straight), this is a modern contemporary hotel but with many cues from the 1930's racing scene.

Apart from a rather muddled on-line booking system (which I understand is now fixed) I found the hotel experience very positive. The hotel is beautifully decorated throughout (enjoy spotting the motor themes, such as the spark plugs in the lobby flower vases!), with excellent service from the staff, a great choice of drinks & cocktails in the bar, and excellent food. The evening menu is Italian themed, and delicious throughout. The breakfast buffet differentiates itself with a wonderful choice of freshly made fruit smoothies, along with the usual favourites.

On paper, the hotel is situated a little out of the way - you certainly can't stroll out in the evening and find any local bars or restaurants. It is, however, just across the road from Mercedes Benz World, and about half a mile from the Brooklands business park. I imagine then the hotel will be popular with overseas businessmen flying-in to meet in the offices of Sony, Proctor & Gamble, etc. I can also see great potential for a day's entertaining (either business or personal) at Mercedes Benz World to end comfortably at the hotel.

I can thoroughly reccomend the Brooklands Hotel for anyone who wants to enjoy the historic motor racing atmosphere, or just enjoy a comfortable contemporary hotel experience. It is sad, though, to see the Brooklands track in its current state - chopped-up to allow traffic in to the business & retail parks, and the old runway now filled by Mercedes Benz World. Such a shame the track is not still intact so cars old & new can still drive the circuit. And an even bigger shame that, in a site so important to the British 2nd World War effort, a German car company has such a dominant presence. A sign of the times I guess.

Now, if there was only a Bentley World there instead...