SymphonyOS has reached beta stage– well, sort of. They released the first preview release of the first beta (are they trying to beat this?). The stability of the Mezzo dektop environment and Orchestra rendering has been improved, various applications have been updated, and much more. Download here.
SymphonyOS Beta1 PR1 Released
About The Author
Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda
2005-10-27 2:22 pmdylansmrjones
Haicube… don’t write in here. You are wasting precious cpu cycles which could be spent on doing calculations
I’ve been using Ubuntu/Kubuntu for about 6 months, so I’m still a realtive Linux newb. I tried the live CD version of Alpha 3, and like it very much. Only beef was it didn’t receognize my ethernet port. Other than it looks very promising. Hopefully they’ll get a final version out soon.
I’m not sure they’re following their own laws of design very strictly. If the whole point of the desktop setup is that menus are bad, and the corners of the screen are the easiest to hit, why are there still close buttons on individual application windows?
Why not have the window manager stick those at the top of the screen where they can be easier targets? (and I guess, hold the right button to hide open applications so you can get to the desktop targets?) I know there are problems with this too, but it’s just an idea…
2005-10-27 3:53 pmdylansmrjones
They would have to rewrite the used toolkits, and all applications using these toolkits and so on if they want the buttons in windows to appear outside the application.
2005-10-27 9:27 pmAnonymous
I thought the menu bar and appearance thereof was the domain of the window manager- I meant just moving the ‘minimize’ and ‘close’ buttons up to the top of the screen, not all the buttons.
2005-10-27 5:40 pmPseudo Cyborg
Well, this _is_ a work-in-progress…
“(are they trying to beat this?)”
Pssh, they’ve got nothin’ on the second alpha of the sixth beta eight release.
2005-10-27 3:06 pmAnonymous
…of version 5.
2005-10-27 6:16 pmGooglesaurus
“(are they trying to beat this?)”
No….. They are trying to generate media attention on places like OSNews.
Yet another example of the press release being more news than the news.
2005-10-27 7:13 pmKick The Donkey
Dang… Where’s a ‘funny’ modifier when you need one!
Really, I don’t see how can this be a good idea: to apply a concept that works on tiny LCD’s to huge desktop screens. I don’t want to move all that distance untill the screen corner. I think Enlightenment approach is the best: middle click to shade app and get a glimpse of the desktop, left click on the desktop to open menu. I’m replacing movement with clicks, which is easier since my fingers are already resting near the buttons.
I still have to try it, but it looks somehow promising. But it would be even cooler if it can use Debian repositories… or at least if it can rely on snapshots of the etch repositories.
Do you know about this?
2005-10-27 4:49 pmryanpq
We do in fact maintain compatibility with the Debian repositories and our future releases will be based on the DCC Alliance’s DCCRI core. In fact we have debian packages available for the mezzo desktop environment via our apt repository.
deb http://archive.progeny.com/symphonyos/apt/ ./
to your sources.list and install mezzo and orchestra then copy over the contents of /etc/skel to your home directory.
It is still rough at this point. One item that has been brought up on the forums is having a right click pie menu on the desktop offering the four corner menus whereever your mouse happens to be.
2005-10-27 8:21 pmAnonymous
Great tips. I did what you suggest, then I created a new user. It wasn’t even necessary to copy over the contents of /etc/skel, everything was already in place. However the existing user and /root weren’t touched. It works fine. I am using Kanotix.
When I first read about SymphonyOS, I though that the design is as follows: When you click a corner menu, all open windows iconify. When you click it again or hit the close panel button, the windows restore.
But now it seems like activating a desktop panel doesn’t hide the open windows. This is not the best design, given the popularity of maximized windows.
As I mentioned in a previous SymphonyOS thread here, I think that this design needs to be approached as panel viewports surrounding a central workspace viewport:
S W A
where D=documents, S=system, W=workspace, A=applications, and T=trash. Any number of mouse and keyboard navigation profiles can be selected to suit the users taste. For example, a simple edge resistance mouse-over can switch viewports, or ctrl-alt-arrows, and maybe double-clicking on a panel viewport automatically returns focus to the workspace. Since SymphonyOS is based on FVWM, this should all be extremely simple to implement.
The bottom line is that there needs to be some separation between the desktop panels and the windowing workspace. When the panels are activated, the windows should not be on top of them, and it should be really easy to activate and dismiss the panels.
However, I don’t think that the UI design of this particular project (Mezzo) is very important in the scheme of things. What SymphonyOS brings to the table is Orchestra, the concept and implementation of a desktop (root window) rendered from (more or less) W3C standard web markup. This is an incredibly promising approach that I believe will be better implemented in a future desktop environment.
Trouble is, it’s difficult to kick habits, and vast the majority of us is using either KDE or Gnome.
Even the very nice and polished Xfce4 hasn’t really taken off.
2005-10-28 8:36 amAnonymous
My biggest complaint about XFCE is the file manager. But yes, it’s a great desktop environment after an hour of changing everything about it…
Extremely cool UI. I just wish there would be keyboard shortcuts so the mouse wouldn’t have to be used. That would be the next step in interface design IMO but there could be a way to implement it oneself that I simply don’t know how to do.
2005-10-27 11:48 pmryanpq
We hope to have keyboard shortcuts (at least for the 4 corner targets) implemented in the next release. We are also going to be working a lot on the “feel” of the interface. Things still feel a bit clunky compared to OS X, Gnome, or KDE and most of that can be solved by continuing to refine the wm configuration and changing the way it interacts with mezzo.
One change will be rather than minimizing all the windows when a target is clicked we will simply bring the mezzo window to the front, then when the menu is left we will take it back to the back. This should work a lot nicer than the current model.
2005-10-28 12:38 ambutters
“One change will be rather than minimizing all the windows when a target is clicked we will simply bring the mezzo window to the front, then when the menu is left we will take it back to the back. This should work a lot nicer than the current model.”
That will certainly be a step in the right direction.
It also seems that these panels are a solution in search of a problem. The current screenshots don’t really justify why anyone would need all that real estate for such a limited set of tasks and other listings. An autohiding menubar might suffice.
Mezzo is basically a proof-of-concept desktop based on Orchestra. If anything, its clunkiness should attract developers to work on a more useful interface.
2005-10-29 6:26 amRobocoastie
Good to hear, keyboard shutcuts would be nice. The whole desktop UI is very original to me. I’ve gotten conflicting information about whether its installable or not though at this point.
Let me just put it this way, I won’t be using this any time soon. Any (sane/unbiased) person who has tried it knows what I’m talking about. This is one of those things that looks good on paper, but pretty much just sucks out loud.
2005-10-28 12:29 ambutters
“This is one of those things that looks good on paper, but pretty much just sucks out loud.”
Yeah, the UI design seems to have gone off in the wrong direction. This will not be a successful offering, at least in its initial release series. I think this project is in need of a good ole fork.
2005-10-28 12:58 amAnonymous
I don’t even know about that. I honestly don’t see anything feature-wise that actually advances the desktop interface in any way. The 4-corners thing was a nice try, but it’s too rigid to be practical, or like butters said, a solution searching for a problem.
The desktop menu things basically just reduplicate (poorly) directories. To demonstrate this, let’s consider what a folder is: a list of items. What is an application in its most abstract form? an item. Gee, I think we have a match.
It’s not very often I have something good to say about the zillion Linux distros out there which all do the same but don’t share name…
This is actually the first time in a long time a distro brings some real diversity to the field of distros.
Good for the Linux crowd I guess…