Monday, July 07, 2008

New Desktop Going Live

After over a year of work, terminal upgrades, patches and custom UI's we have locked in a date for the whole City to migrate to the new OpenSuse desktop. It's going to be really nice to finally complete this project. It will allow the user to fully utilize all of the features of the new thin clients. The go-live date is August 25th.

For the next 6 weeks, I will be offering training classes to City employees. The class will cover things that are very basic to us; logging in, finding software, creating shortcuts, customizing fonts/colors/themes/wallpapers and then logging off. By default, City users will not have Compiz enabled. I will also be offering some classes in how to use Compiz, which will allow them to enable 3D effects. I perceive that most users will want to use metacity, and just get in and do their work.

There was enough interest in using the avant-window-navigator that I created a small custom GUI for them to enable/disable that type of panel. (shot below).

If they have selected the second or third option, it automatically runs avant upon startup. When avant runs, I automatically force in few applets each time it's run, so if they accidentally delete a mission critical icon, it's back upon next login. I force in an icon to get to the "Application Browser", and also always force in the Calendar applet and Quit applet. I didn't feel comfortable completely deleting their regular gnome-panel, so I issue the following two commands when avant runs:

/opt/gnome/bin/gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel_screen0/enable_arrows True
/opt/gnome/bin/gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel_screen0/auto_hide True

This allows them to turn off avant and get their panel back. It does leave a few pixels visible on the bottom however. Not perfectly clean. I didn't see any gconf settings to completely hide, yet retain a panels attributes.

Here is how avant looks at a 45 degree, on our thin clients. It was very well received:

I also have been tinkering with the idea of creating "super themes" which configure GTK + Wallpaper + Compiz all at the same time. In the future, there probably should be a mechanism for GNOME users to pick up all of these settings with a single download and install. For fun, I created the theme below:

Up next for me is probably a 1 year R&D project to get "caught up" again. I'll be staging OpenSuse 11, testing the latest version of Compiz, experimenting with newer versions of Debian on the HP thin clients, upgrading the X version, and testing the proprietary ATI driver for performance. It never ends.


xuzo said...
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Anonymous said...

Just set /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel_screen0/auto_hide_size to 0.

qhartman said...

You say "it never ends" like it's a bad thing. I hope you realize just how sweet a gig you've got there. Or at least, you sure make it sound pretty sweet... :D

Dave Richards said...

anonymous: Nice, will make the change today. Don't know how I missed it.

qhartman: A recent hire said the same thing to me, and I replied "It's fun while things are *working*. :) Thankfully Linux is very stable, and because you have source you can fix things that are broken. You control your own destiny. I enjoy coming into work each day, and most days feel that I am paid to do my hobby.

bhsectechs said...

Thanks for the Blog Dave, it's so encouraging to us trying to introduce these ideas into our own workplaces. I, myself, am envisioning putting thin clients in ALL my classrooms instead of continuing to buy laptops for a few.