Welcome From The Chief Editor

Well, after a bit of doing, the ibiblio rsync "problem" has finally been ironed out. In the interim, we lost some mirrors but gained some new ones. On some, the directory structure changed. If you haven't already done so, you will need to download the new source.list file. Save the file to your /home/[user]/Downloads directory. Open a terminal and gain root access. As root, first enter cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.orig. This will create a backup of your original sources.list file. Then, enter cp /home/[user]/Downloads/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list, and answer "Yes" when prompted to overwrite your old sources.list file. Alternatively, you can follow essentially the same instructions that are posted in the forum by pinoc. Once you've done either one of the methods above, you will need to launch Synaptic and click on the "Reload" button to read the new package list. Then, just update as you normally would.

Since we've lost some mirrors in the process, your "favorite" mirror may no longer be valid and active. At the same time, since we've also gained some new repository mirrors, so feel free to browse through the list and select one that's closest to you.

Meanwhile, those of us in the Northern hemisphere are preparing for the arrival of Spring. One of the most common thoughts that is associated with the arrival of Spring is the annual renewal that it delivers. In that vein, KDE 4.6 has hit the repository. Xfce 4.8 is nearing completion, and should be hitting the repository very soon. Work is actively occurring to bring the 2.6.37 Linux kernel to the repository, as well. The work of maintaining a distro like PCLinuxOS is never ending, and Texstar and the rest of the PCLinuxOS developers work tirelessly to bring you the most stable and up-to-date applications and components.

I'm going to depart from my usual rundown of the magazine contents this month. Instead, I want to talk a little bit about Gnome 3. Anyone who reads The PCLinuxOS Magazine knows that we've been writing extensively, for over a year, about the desktop environments that PCLinuxOS is available as ready-to-install LiveCDs. First, we started with KDE 4, then Xfce, LXDE, and finally, e17. Thanks to Patrick Horneker, we're even covering WindowMaker, one of the alternate desktops in the PCLinuxOS repository that doesn't have an ISO release. We've even produces special editions of the magazine featuring the desktops that we've covered. Knowing that Gnome 3 was "in the pipeline," I purposely held off on covering the Gnome desktop until the arrival of the new version.

It's appearing as if Gnome users are poised to endure a situation similar to what KDE users experienced when KDE moved from 3.5.10 to KDE SC 4.x, when the much anticipated Gnome 3 is released in April. Hopefully, the Gnome developers have used the faulty delivery of KDE 4.x upon KDE users as an example of how not to roll out a new major release. As you may remember, KDE 4.x was met with a lot of resistance from KDE users. KDE 4 was different in a lot of ways, and a lot of KDE 3.5.10 users didn't feel at home with those changes. Plus, KDE 4 ratcheted up the hardware requirements considerably, so many users who ran KDE 3.5.10 on older equipment could no longer run KDE 4 on that same equipment. In fact, there is a fairly loud minority of KDE users who still will not move to KDE 4.x, opting instead to hold onto still-working copies of KDE 3.5.x for as long as they can.

Just as what happened with KDE, the Gnome camp will experience many users who embrace the changes that are forthcoming in Gnome 3. Many of those changes are quite radical, like doing away with the minimize, maximize and close buttons on the window title bar, eliminating the window list and not giving laptop users a choice of suspending to RAM or suspending to Disk when closing the laptop screen. There will also be a very loud group of dissenters who will resist the changes that Gnome 3 delivers. At least under Linux, there are many more choices for desktop environments (Xfce, LXDE, FluxBox, OpenBox, e17, WindowMaker, etc.), and those who choose to not adapt to the changes in Gnome 3 will have the opportunity to explore those other desktop environments.

It's looking, early on, as if the move to Gnome 3 may not be much smoother than the move to KDE 4 was, after all. In fact, the Gnome developers may not have learned anything at all from observing the KDE 4 fiasco. There are already complaints among Gnome users that the Gnome 3 developers are not listening to the users. That's a situation that should sound quite familiar to any KDE user. Of course, there's always the "that's not me" and the "that was them and how they did it; we're doing it differently" mindsets among developers, when in reality, the end results are the same. Sometimes it seems that developers like to make change, just for the sake of change. My boss at the hospital has a saying that certainly rings true in this situation: "just because you can doesn't mean you should."

Of course, as with anything else that's new and evolving, it's always easy for those who don't do the actual work to be a critic, and to sit back and take pot shots at those who are doing the work. The flip side of that coin is that users must be heard. They are, after all, the ones who will be using the end product, and if it doesn't do what they need it to do, or if the changes are too radical, you will lose those users. They will flee and use another desktop environment that allows them to work as they are accustomed to, and that isn't as radically different from how users have used their computers.

One reviewer in the Linux press corps has what may end up being the best approach to Gnome 3, and it's quite similar to the approach of Texstar when making the move to KDE 4. Wait it out. Let the dust settle. See if the forthcoming changes in Gnome 3 actually pan out with users, and see how many of those eliminated features find their way back into Gnome 3. As you may remember, Texstar wasn't one of the early adopters of KDE 4, due to its early buggy releases. He chose to wait until it was more stable. In fact, he took some heat for not making KDE 4 more available to PCLinuxOS users, and for going with the more stable KDE 3.5.10 in the 2009 releases. This one reviewer speculated that the dust should settle for the Gnome camp by version 3.2 (at the earliest). Meanwhile, this reviewer is exploring two options that KDE users has to choose between a year and a half ago: keep his currently working, stable Gnome 2.x going for as long as he can, or use the opportunity to explore other desktop environments, such as Xfce. Sounds familiar, doesn't it.

There seems to be equal amounts of anticipation and anxiety among Gnome users over many of the changes that are coming. Even KDE users will be looking on, to see if the Gnome developers "get it right." It is definitely going to be interesting to watch as the melodrama of the Gnome 3 release unfolds, especially for Linux distros that primarily use the Gnome desktop, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Brace yourselves. This could be quite a bumpy ride.

So, until next month, I wish each and every one of you peace, happiness, tranquility and serenity.