Just A Little Easier, Please – Networks

The Linux desktop has progressed quite a bit in recent years. Ubuntu, out of the box, mainly just worked. I was able to quickly set up a nice desktop for my girlfriend using it. It was really nice to see the little things all fit together. For example, when we took a pic with her new camera and plugged it into the USB port, a dialog popped up asking us if we want to import the pictures. Now obviously, I expected that, and it’s not like that was invented in Linux, but it’s one of those nice touches that just makes life a little bit easier. Still, there is so much room for improvement.

I’ve been trying to think about what specifically I find annoying in day to day usage of Linux. I think my biggest gripe right now is how much of a pain it is just to move my laptop from network to network. I have five networks I tend to use. The first is my home network through my wireless router. The second is also the home network, but wired, through another router. The third is the network at work. The fourth is the wireless network back at my parents’ house, and the fifth is the wireless network at my grandparents’ house, which is next to my parents’ house.

Now, I don’t visit my parents that often, and I don’t connect to the wired portion of my network often either. However, I do switch twice a day between the wireless network at home and the wired network at work. And every time I do, I have to switch network interfaces, re-enable/disable the proxy servers, and change my Gaim account configurations (port numbers for going through the proxies, accounts I wish to auto-login, proxy settings, etc.). It’s just enough of a chore where I think to myself, “Ugh, must do this again.”

When I plug in a Windows computer into a wired network, a little bubble pops up saying that the Ethernet is connected, and it (usually) tries to configure my network settings. It doesn’t always work right, but hey, it’s an effort. It would be nice if we had such a thing in Linux. Maybe we do and I just don’t know about it, but if that’s the case, then we need an easier way for users to discover it and to configure it. Basically, when I plug in a network cable, I want my wifi connection to go down, my wired connection to go up, and a DHCP server to be scanned for. Now the wired-only portion of my network at home doesn’t use DHCP (yet), so it’d be nice for some kind of auto-discovery magic to happen, but really I should be using DHCP here anyway.

The little network selector in my panel is a nice start, really. It’s been buggy here, but it mostly works. However, it’d be much nicer if I could also configure proxy servers for each interface and network. Not tied to that applet, mind you. It would have to be a layer below it somewhere. When I change networks on the command line, the same magic should happen.

The Gaim auto-reconfiguration could happen via a Gaim plugin, which I’m very tempted to write. I don’t know what the easiest way would be to determine when a network changes on an interface, and when interfaces change. Perhaps some kind of D-BUS layer somewhere could intelligently broadcast this information in an easy-to-use form.

I don’t imagine a lot of this would be difficult to develop, and it’s largely a matter of putting the small pieces together (once written). It would certainly make this one aspect of my daily usage a lot easier. I’m sure I’m not the only one frustrated by this. I don’t know if there is work going on in this area or not, but hopefully someone will get the motivation to hack on a piece or two.

Weekend of Yay!

Jamie

Jamie

So I had the most amazing weekend. My girlfriend Jamie came down to visit. We hung out for a bit on Friday and then went to a nice Japanese restaurant near my apartment called Fuki Sushi. It was a very nice looking place, decorative, and the waitresses were even wearing kimonos. Next time we go, we’re going to reserve a spot in the back where we take off our shoes and eat sitting down on the ground at a table. The rest of the night, we just cuddled, watching anime and Dead Like Me.

Saturday, we got up and, after a while, took a tour of where I work. While there, we played some DDR and had some snacks. We then headed to the other building our company owns and watched some ducks splash around in one of the ponds. We walked around in there and saw that building, and just kind of sat around talking. Next, we went to Frys Electronics. While there, we picked up a copy of Soul Calibur 2, which we played later that night. She kicked my ass.

Our next stop was to a furniture store that I went to in November. The people who ran the place actually remembered me, and even remembered where I moved from. We were a bit shocked there. Anyhow, I picked up a couple of book shelves and a nice little wine rack.

For dinner, I took her to The Cheesecake Factory. Despite the 50 minute wait, it was really good, and she seemed to like it, especially the cheesecake 🙂 We spent the rest of the night playing Soul Calibur and just kind of goofing around, talking about things, etc.

Sunday morning, she had to leave. We had a nice breakfast before she left, but it was hard to say goodbye. All in all, though, it was a great visit. We both enjoyed ourselves immensely, and I can’t wait until we do it again.

Fyre

I’ve been playing with Fyre quite a bit lately. It’s a very awesome program, and they just released version 1.0.0. Cluster support and undos were just added (thanks scanline and purple_cow!). It’s a great way to waste some time 🙂

Electric Storm
Electric Storm

Galago

I’m also contemplating putting out a Galago release soon. It’s been kind of semi-frozen for a long time. Work’s been done, but there’s not much else to do until people start playing with it. So I’m going to test it with D-BUS CVS and see how it works, and then start putting together some autopackages together. I need someone to build Ubuntu debs. I’d rather not spend much time on that myself. If anyone’s interested in packaging for any distro, please let me know, and feel free to drop by #galago on irc.freenode.net.

More Fun Wastes of Time

Over the past few days, I’ve moved more sites over to the new Linode server. Among these was one of my favorite nonsense sites, Destroy Mornings. For those who aren’t familiar with that one, here’s a brief history.. One morning I got up for school. I was a bit upset about this and, having some time before class, registered destroymornings.com and built up a website. Or rather, one page of a site. The links on the sidebar never went anywhere, and perhaps they never will.

Anyhow, it gained a rather large community on Orkut, and people talked about how much they hated mornings. People have bugged me for a couple years now to create merchandise, so the other day, I did. There’s now a Destroy Mornings store, hosted of course by CafePress. I ordered a mug and a t-shirt, which should be here in a couple of days. They should turn out well, I hope.

I’ve also been working on some more art in my DeviantArt gallery. My favorite recent additions are Hey, Look What I found, Spiral Brush (created by the wonderful program Fyre), and Rules for Dating, #1.

As is pretty obvious, I haven’t done a whole lot of open source hacking lately. This is mostly because a lot’s been going on at work and in other areas of life, and at the end of the day, I find myself relaxing by just working on fun stuff. Though the past couple of days, I’ve been itchin’ to hack on Galago some more, so I think I’m going to devote a good amount of time to that soon.

Another recent fun toy has been Ubuntu. Man, what a wonderful distribution. It’s what I’ve been waiting for in a Linux distro. Excellent work guys! This is going on my girlfriend’s new PC this week 🙂

New Galago Hosting

I finally finished the transition to my new Linode account for Galago’s website and SVN repository. It should hopefully be more reliable, as I’ll have direct access to all services and account maintenance.

If you had an account on the old freedesktop.org SVN repository and need a new account, please contact me with your username/password, and I’ll set it up. Also, please update any bookmarks or trees. The new site URL is at http://www.galago.info, and the SVN URL is http://svn.galago.info.