Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Aug 2008 19:24 UTC
Gnome Last week, we reviewed the Aspire One, Acer's entry into the netbook market. The small but powerful device comes preloaded with either Linux or Windows XP, and we reviewed the Linux version. Even though most people will never need to go beyond the default Linpus Linux offering on the One, more advanced users will quickly hit the wall Acer set up: it has more or less completely locked down the Xfce 4.2.2 installation on the One. This bothered me - this is a powerful machine, so I want a powerful operating system. I went for Ubuntu 8.04.1 - read on for a few thoughts on how well GNOME's user interface fares on a small-screen device such as the One.
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pretty impressive
by spikeb on Thu 21st Aug 2008 19:30 UTC
spikeb
Member since:
2006-01-18

near-vanilla gnome works pretty well on a tiny screen.

Reply Score: 3

RE: pretty impressive
by azrael29a on Thu 21st Aug 2008 23:08 UTC in reply to "pretty impressive"
azrael29a Member since:
2008-02-26

Bugs should be filed for those apps that still take too much space and are not resizable.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: pretty impressive
by segedunum on Sat 23rd Aug 2008 14:08 UTC in reply to "RE: pretty impressive"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Why should bugs be filed for individual applications? The fault is with the underlying platform because GTK does not have any notion of resolution independence.

Reply Score: 3

Excellent piece
by Morgan on Thu 21st Aug 2008 19:54 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

Thank you, Thom, for this eye-opening little article. Very well written and supplemented with screenshots so we can get a good idea of your points. I'm quite impressed.

I wonder if using Matchbox as an alternative interface in Ubuntu would fare as well -- or better -- on such a small screen. As far as I remember, it's still in the Ubuntu repos.

Reply Score: 2

Gnome is wasteful of screen real estate
by siride on Thu 21st Aug 2008 21:13 UTC
siride
Member since:
2006-01-02

I find that Gnome does a good job of converting high resolution monitors into 800x600 mid-90s monstrosities. KDE 4 is moving in this direction too and I don't like it. I don't understand why we have to waste so much screen real estate with crappy widgets. And here's a case where it actually does matter. I'm glad you managed to make it work, but I'm honestly surprised, because in the past, I've had trouble making GTK stuff fit on a small screen (my first Linux experience was on 800x600 in late 2004 [old monitor] and half the dialogs wouldn't fit on the screen).

Reply Score: 4

zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

That is how a high-DPI screen is supposed to look. If the font is set to 72pt size, the character cell should be exactly one physical inch. Not more, not less.

If you want 6pt fonts, then set the font to 6 or 4 or 2 or whatever you like.

And yes, I do go around telling old people that they are doing it wrong when they set Vista to 640x480 on their 20" monitor.

Reply Score: 2

iain.dalton Member since:
2006-02-28

I think you mean pixel, not character cell. A character cell would be the box containing the entire character.

Reply Score: 1

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

That's exactly what he meant. You obviously don't want a pixel to be exactly one inch.

Reply Score: 2

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

It's not the fonts...I can deal with that. It's the layout of everything else. It's just so big and you can't do anything about. I didn't get a high resolution screen so that I can look at the moral equivalent of 800x600. Other environments let you adjust font sizes and the like so that, if you so choose, you can make it look like 800x600, but Gnome basically decides for you that clearly you want to have terrible use of screen real estate and the only option is to hack the themes yourself. And that still doesn't fix the problem of apps that waste empty space.

Reply Score: 2

zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

The Gnome components should be the same size no matter what your screen resolution is. I agree with the Gnome defaults. Start out big, that way everyone can read it, then let them make it smaller.

Get a thin-frame theme, there are several. Make your task bars smaller. Set the font sizes smaller. All of that can be changed.

Reply Score: 1

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

There's no way to fix the themes without editing a config file in /usr/share/themes. There's almost no documentation for theme configuration, or it is well hidden. You have to use trial and error. Compare that to KDE or Windows where you can easily control theme settings. Especially on Windows you can control the sizing of various components.

Reply Score: 2

zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

I didn't mean that you should fix the theme, although I suppose that you could. It'd be easier to use a theme editor tool. I know there are some.

I was suggesting using a different theme entirely, one designed for small sizes.

Reply Score: 1

abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

It's not the fonts...I can deal with that. It's the layout of everything else. It's just so big and you can't do anything about. I didn't get a high resolution screen so that I can look at the moral equivalent of 800x600. Other environments let you adjust font sizes and the like so that, if you so choose, you can make it look like 800x600, but Gnome basically decides for you that clearly you want to have terrible use of screen real estate and the only option is to hack the themes yourself. And that still doesn't fix the problem of apps that waste empty space.


I have no idea what you mean when you say "apps that waste empty space". That doesn't mean anything. Maybe you mean the iconbar in GNOME applications? No that can't be it, you can turn that off in the Appearance preferences.

Reply Score: 2

asgard Member since:
2008-06-07

Here is what I use on my Ubuntu laptop just right now (screen resolution is 1280x800):

1. Clearlooks Compact theme for GNOME (google it).

2. Fonts "Sans" (or "Monospace") of size of 7.5 points with "best contrast" rendering.

3. Toolbar buttons - "Icons only" setting.

The result is more compact than Windows.

Reply Score: 1

not hard
by stabbyjones on Thu 21st Aug 2008 21:16 UTC
stabbyjones
Member since:
2008-04-15

there are plenty of compact themes around.

setting fonts to 8 and using a compact theme from gnome look have a pretty good time fitting almost everything on my eee 701.

Reply Score: 3

Gnome on a Freerunner!
by ikeX on Thu 21st Aug 2008 21:21 UTC
ikeX
Member since:
2007-03-28

Oh please! This is small? Check out this one:

http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2008-August/027326.ht...

2.8" is small! ;-)

Kind regards,

Reply Score: 3

RE: Gnome on a Freerunner!
by stabbyjones on Thu 21st Aug 2008 23:02 UTC in reply to "Gnome on a Freerunner!"
stabbyjones Member since:
2008-04-15

now that is EXACTLY what the freerunner needs.

i can't wait to get paid so i can pick one of those bad boys up.

Reply Score: 1

Similar to my setup
by motang on Thu 21st Aug 2008 21:24 UTC
motang
Member since:
2008-03-27

This is they way I have my laptop set up, I have a single panel, but instead of the single-icon menu I installed the SLAB menu and I am currently using that. I heard there is a new version of it in Ibex so I am anxiously waiting for that as it is more similar to what Linux Mint uses. ;)

Reply Score: 1

How was Linupus' XFCE
by amjith on Thu 21st Aug 2008 21:35 UTC
amjith
Member since:
2005-07-08

Thom,
how would you say the XFCE in Linpus was before you Ubuntized the little fellow? Were you able to fit the config dialogs in the small screen?

Reply Score: 1

RE: How was Linupus' XFCE
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 09:55 UTC in reply to "How was Linupus' XFCE"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

What Xfce configuration dialogs? By default, you couldn't access any of them ;) .

Using the terminal, you could run xfce-setting-show, but it didn't fit on the small screen at all.

Reply Score: 1

bosco_bearbank
Member since:
2005-10-12

I went with for the 1GB RAM 120GB HD version, which means my Aspire One came with Windows XP installed. I just finished installing Ubuntu 8.04.1 and the updated madwifi modules. Sound (speaker) works, webcam works, blinking lights work. I don't have an SD card to check out the card readers. My preferred font is Liberation Sans, but I also went with 9pt. Next up: finding a suitable travel case.

Reply Score: 1

v Keep XP and Linux
by Different on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 03:40 UTC
X11 Font Hinting Style
by vermaden on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 07:32 UTC
vermaden
Member since:
2006-11-18

@Thom Holwerda

I also prefer Trebuchet MS for desktop usage, but default X11 hintstyle (which is set to 3) looks very bad with any font, to make it look really good You need to set hintstyle to 0.

You may also use Trebuchet MS instead of other ugly fonts such as Arial on web sites using ~/.fonts.conf settings.

Here is the difference between htinstyle 0 and 3:
http://toya.net.pl/~vermaden/gfx/hintstyle_3.png
http://toya.net.pl/~vermaden/gfx/hintstyle_0.png

Regards
vermaden

Reply Score: 3

RE: X11 Font Hinting Style
by RandomGuy on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 12:14 UTC in reply to "X11 Font Hinting Style"
RandomGuy Member since:
2006-07-30

OT: You might want to change spearator to separator in your screenshot.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: X11 Font Hinting Style
by vermaden on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 14:55 UTC in reply to "RE: X11 Font Hinting Style"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

It was fixed long time ago mate:

http://osnews.com/story/19770

... but thanks ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: X11 Font Hinting Style
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 12:40 UTC in reply to "X11 Font Hinting Style"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Thanks for the tip, vermaden, made my fonts just a little better looking. I'm always hunting for better font rendering, so thanks for the tip!

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: X11 Font Hinting Style
by vermaden on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 14:55 UTC in reply to "RE: X11 Font Hinting Style"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

You are welcome.

Reply Score: 2

tiling wm
by broken_symlink on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 09:33 UTC
broken_symlink
Member since:
2005-07-06

Has anyone tried a tiling wm like awesome or wmii on a netbook? Systems with limited screen real estate always seemed like the most obvious place to use a tiling wm to me. I have been thinking about getting an aspireone, eee 1000h, or msi wind, but am still waiting.

Reply Score: 2

RE: tiling wm
by 6c1452 on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 12:36 UTC in reply to "tiling wm"
6c1452 Member since:
2007-08-29

I ran ion at 1024x768 for a year or so and it worked okay.

Screenshots at 800x600:
Tiled stuff: http://apex.homelinux.net/img/1.png
Firefox: http://apex.homelinux.net/img/2.png

It really needs more horizontal space, but netbooks have that.

Reply Score: 1

v Gimp
by mrnagrom on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 13:52 UTC
battery
by backdoc on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 17:12 UTC
backdoc
Member since:
2006-01-14

Does the default OS have better battery life? Or, does Ubuntu handle that fine?

Reply Score: 2

RE: battery
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 17:30 UTC in reply to "battery"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Does the default OS have better battery life? Or, does Ubuntu handle that fine?


I think Ubuntu is slightly worse, but after the battery optimisations as listed in the howto, it ain't all bad.

Reply Score: 1

Customizing Linpus Desktop
by k0ro on Fri 22nd Aug 2008 19:39 UTC
k0ro
Member since:
2008-08-22

My preferred course of action was to 'unlock' the default Linpus installation. While this unlocking process is documented quite well on the AcerAspireOne.com community website, it's not a single process per se; you need to unlock several things, and Acer hasn't exactly made it easy. Somewhere in the process I made a mistake, and before I knew it, I was receiving HAL errors that proved unfixable.

You might want to try this:
http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=1256

Reply Score: 1

why bother?
by marcgo on Sun 24th Aug 2008 12:29 UTC
marcgo
Member since:
2007-11-09

I really don't understand why would anyone bother about touching the linpus once it's possible to make it work in non-restricted (geek) mode. To me, this linpus linux is the best distro i have seen lately : fast (i can't believe how fast it can boot), effective, functional. no need to search google, forums to make fundamental things. a lesson for all the freaks at debian, ubuntu, etc.

Reply Score: 1

RE: why bother?
by superstoned on Mon 25th Aug 2008 13:07 UTC in reply to "why bother?"
superstoned Member since:
2005-07-07

The reason it's so good is just because it was optimized for this system - which is because it was sold on it. Any linux system could be that good.

Anyway, I installed Kubuntu because I use this laptop to demo KDE, and I wanted the latest KDE on it...

Reply Score: 2