[ubuntu-studio-devel] Feature Spec discussion: ubuntustudio-desktop

Len Ovens len at ovenwerks.net
Sun May 18 13:49:33 UTC 2014

On Sun, 18 May 2014, Kaj Ailomaa wrote:

> # Supporting multiple Desktop Environments
> There are two ways we can do this:
> * base our desktop environments on flavor DE metas such as
> ubuntu-desktop, xubuntu-desktop, etc,
> * or we base on the vanilla DE metas, such as xfce4 (not sure how that
> works with unity though)
> So, let's discuss the pros and cons with selecting one over the other.
> Perhaps choice one is better for some DEs, and choice two better for
> others?

This comment is not to be concidered exhaustive in aproach.

The pro for using flavour desktop over raw DE is that someone/group of 
people are working to make sure the flavour works in Ubuntu with each 
upgrade/release. The DE is mostly a sync from debian and may have quirks 
when run against the Ubuntu version of packages.

The con for using a flavour meta is extra packages. With the raw DE we can 
select only the packages needed... however this selection of packages also 
requires more testing to make sure it works. I would suggest that the raw 
DE aproach would require one person per DE that runs that DE as their 
daily use desktop.

Extra packages are much less of a problem since the average hard drive or 
even SSD drive has made it past 40Gbytes. While everyone has now allowed 
their flavour to excede CD size, most are still trying to limit their 
install somewhat... certainly ubuntustudio still has (by far) the largest 
ISO in the Ubuntu community. Most people who do use an SSD drive for 
recording have another mechanical drive for OS and backup purposes.

The only thing to watch out for in extra packages the flavour 
provides would be conflicts in depends. (much like the one in trusty 
between nvidia drivers and wine and therefore LMMS)

The question in my mind in the long run would be how much do we customize 
the desktop? I am thinking of backgrounds, default sessions, menuing 
choices (both xubuntu and kubuntu have default menuing choices that may 
make our menu less usable... I would suggest unity would need a makeover 
to make a good multimedia production machine as well), etc. If the user is 
installing the flavour de at OS install time then the install should feel 
like it is fully a studio desktop. If our metas are being added to an 
already installed version, then not or at least the user should be able to 
choose these things.

> # Custom Ubuntu Studio Desktop Environment
> We could also discuss the possibility of introducing a custom DE for
> Ubuntu Studio. We sort of have that now, but what we have is mostly
> copied from Xubuntu. Our current desktop is so close to Xubuntu, that we
> could just as well base ours entirely on theirs.
> It would only make sense to have a custom DE if our DE is largely
> different from existing ones. And, it should be very low maintenance.
> I'm thinking something very bare bone and simple. But, perhaps a vanilla
> installation of lxde or xfce already has this advantage?

The new default menu in xubuntu (wisker) works well for a normal desktop, 
but becomes cumbersome for a flavour that has a lot of software in one 
submenu. It needs tweaking to work at all, but still requires extra clicks 
to get to a number of menu options. It also requires scrolling to see all 
the menu items. This is not a putdown of wisker, it has some really nice 
features such as a fast search for apps. Sort of an appfinder and menu in 
one. However the menu display is designed to work with a relatively small 
number of applications. The default Kubuntu menu is much the same, the 
first thing I do is switch it to "classic" style.

Speaking of Kubuntu, it comes default (not sure about the raw kde DE) with 
only one workspace and therefore no workspace switcher. This is a sane 
decision for a normal desktop, but not for a workflow with a number of 
windows open. However, it is not obvious how to get the workspace switcher 
in the taskbar after adding more workspaces. One more thing for our 
settings package to do.

Len Ovens

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