Macbuntu, Part 3

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I’ve finally gotten around to contacting the Macbuntu maintainer about some of my changes and modifications and have now been granted administrative access to the project!

Most of the changes I’m making are in the details, as most of the features are already available. I’ve contributed plenty of code and images to make Docky appear nearly identical to the Dock in OS X and even made the Docky bar image in Inkscape myself. :D

I’ve contributed an Opera skin, that I mentioned in my last post, but it is still very unfinished. Over all it looks well, but there are several areas that need to be corrected and the skin itself needs to be slimmed down a bit.

The Docky icons zoom by default, though its not an OS X default setting to the best of my knowledge. It can very easily be toggled on or off from the Docky settings window.

I’ve removed the Docky settings icon that was seen in previous screenshots so that the Nautilus application launcher (Finder icon) is the first item in Docky as it is in OS X. You can still access Docky settings by right-clicking the separator on Docky between the Trash icon and the others.

I’ve also written a very very simple application that toggles the Widget layer, which is powered by Compiz, on and is handily disguised by the Dashboard icon…meaning it reveals the widgets. As of writing this, there are no default widgets installed.

Eventually I plan to work in Screenlets and preinstall a few default ones as you would find in OS X, but I’m still waiting to make sure that my tiny tool works pre-compiled on other computers (is 32/64 bit versions). ;)

A lot of people are impressed with Compiz’s ability to render your workspaces in a Cube, Sphere or Cylinder. I’m pretty impressed with this feature myself, but having used it for a long time in the past I’ve found that I usually end up just switching workspaces with the keyboard and not paying much attention to the fancy cube in all of its transparent glory.

Honestly, this is one thing that should appeal to even OS X users as it looks cool and can give you a good quick visual of your windows. However, in Mac OS X 10.7 there will be a feature for Mac users that gives them a quick look at all of their activities and may possibly pass this Cube design right on by. Who knows? :P

One feature that you couldn’t see in the first Cube screenshot was the 3D window aspects and stacking. This is a neat feature and helps make the Cube look a little less boring. Especially when you can see how busy, or possibly bored, you are!

As always, proof that this is indeed Ubuntu Linux. ;)

Several other changes that I’ve contributed to this project include:

  • New transparency for the Top Gnome-Panel and all Menus
  • Alpha blurring for Docky
  • Added folders to Docky for the Applications, Documents, Downloads and Dropbox folders (where relavent)
  • Added detection for other applications and add them to Docky upon installation
  • Re-arranged several Docky launchers
  • Brand new Docky theme — Macbuntu
  • Reset the default wallpaper to the Snow Leopard  wallpaper (was the Leopard wallpaper)
  • Changed the clock format the match OS X’s clock (with tips from OMG! Ubuntu)
  • Added setting to ensure that people with multiple monitors see the workspace cube as One big cube instead of each screen rotating separately.
  • Default the screensaver to blank in case its already set to something like Gnome Feet, but it would be neat to have an elegant OS X screensaver!
  • Various other bug fixes, minor details and cleanups.

Its great to see a project come together, but its even nicer to have the ability to speed it up. :D

A few ideas that I’ve got include pre-installing Gloobus for a feature that mimics “Quick Look,” but until I find a good way to install this and until I can work out the bugs with this tool myself, it won’t be getting any prime time in Macbuntu.

The Docky Stacks feature that was covered at OMG! Ubuntu is also on the map, but is currently far too unstable to be included. I’ve been testing it out for a few days, but it consistently crashes Docky and ceases to function. When I come across a stable ppa for this tool, it will be adding to Macbuntu in a hurry!

Obviously there are several areas that I/we won’t be able to mimic thoroughly. Mac OS X is a great operating system and has a great deal of “simplicity” worked into it by design, somethings that just aren’t possible by “skinning” Ubuntu Linux.

If you have any suggests that are actually feasible, I’d love to here them! The biggest area that I’d like to work on is the GTK theme and get the theme’s quality up tremendously. I’ve had no part in the GTK theme (originally known as GTK Leopard) thus far, and its actually a great piece of work, but it still has a long way to go before being smooth and finished.

One last thing thats interesting is the fact that someone has already began a spin of Macbuntu, dubbing it Macbuntu-iso, and it is available for download in 32 and 64-bit!

Apple to Sell DRM-Free iTunes Music

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itunes_iconAfter being rumored for over a year and highly anticipated by both Windows and Mac users, Apple is to finally drop DRM protection from the entire iTunes music catalogue. The entire music library is now available in the 256kbps AAC format which was previously known as iTunes Plus…until now.

In April, iTunes will introduce variable pricing among the entire music catalogue with song prices ranging from 69¢ to 99¢ and $1.29 depending on pricing arrangements made with record labels.

If you’re already sunk a fair amount of money in the iTunes store, Apple will allow you to upgrade your entire library to the DRM-free format – for 30¢ per song or 25% of the album price.

While that’s not quite the deal I was looking for, it is a nice alternative for keeping your expensive music collection portable! Those of you looking for a cheaper alternative might find this to be beneficial. Or this. ;)

My first real dabble in Mac OS X

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I’ve been telling myself for a long time that I need to take some time to get comfortable on a Mac. I used a Mac a long time ago. You know, one of those old clam shell Macs..

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.., but that was only for a short amount of time. It was running OS 9 and a bit slow, but it was a neat little computer. It would be cool to get it running again, but I’m sure it’s a bit behind the times these days.

Anyhoo, I’ve noticed that Ubuntu and OS X are a lot alike! Not that Gnome looks remotely similar to the Aqua OS X, but I’ve found that I knew my way around in OS X from all of the time that I’ve spent in Ubuntu from Feisty to Gutsy to Intrepid and now to Jaunty.

If I had to explain the differences between Mac OS X and Ubuntu then I would start by skipping the obvious…there is no dock by default in Ubuntu, however, it is possible to mimic the OS X dock and very easily.

Mac has a certain way of minimizing clutter in windows. I would say that Gnome is pretty good at the same, but not as intuitive with file browser views and scrolling options.

One of the biggest problems with Ubuntu, and Linux in general, is that most applications are not polished. Since most applications used in Linux are open source, the development can be slow (or sometimes fast, but rarely) and User Interfaces are not always almost never polished.

There are a couple of themes for Intrepid, one being Dust, that really improve the aesthetics in Ubuntu. If your interested in installing it, checkout this short list of things that I install each time I setup Ubuntu 8.10. You can copy and paste straight into the terminal to install the community themes then select it as usual. For an Opera skin to match the Dust theme in Ubuntu take a look at the two that I’ve developed (Dust in the names). They are Dusty Chrome and Opera Standard Dust.

One of the things I really love about the Mac OS X User Interface is the way the menus are displayed on the top panel instead of in each individual window. This makes each window get straight to the point of it’s being there and reduces clutter and messy appearances. It greatly simplifies every window and just makes things look that much more polished.

It is possible in Gnome to get the menu Items to appear in this fashion, but it is a great deal of trouble (or it was the last time I tried) and a nasty hack.

The icon sets alone in Mac OS X are worth bragging over. I’ve seen some good looking icons in Linux that some people like and some people don’t like, but for the most part I would say everyone likes the icons in OS X and that to me is hard work towards polishing the interface.

I think it will take me a little longer to get used to Mac OS X so I can be just as productive using a Mac as I can using Windows or Ubuntu, but now I know that I can get around pretty well. I think I’ll stick with my trusty installs of Ubuntu for now, but maybe one day I’ll be a Mac fan as well. ;)

An auspicious day in the history of Steve Jobs.

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I came across an interesting read today at Wired.com that was focused on Steve Jobs…just for the day.

Sept. 16, 1985: Jobs Quits Apple
Sept. 16, 1997: Jobs Rejoins Apple
Sept. 16: It’s an auspicious day in the history of Steve Jobs. It’s the day he quit Apple and the day he returned.

I wonder if we can expect Steve Jobs to leave the company again on Sept. 16, 2009 (a 12 year period equal to how long he quit the first time). Probably not. :P Anyways, this article has some other interesting facts about Steve Jobs and this particular topic.

Mac OS X86 and Vista in perfect harmony

So I’ve been looking up some information trying to figure out how to install Mac OS X on my AMD machine which already has Vista Ultimate installed. I came across several helpful sites in my search and although I don’t have it setup successfully just yet..I thought I’d share the information that I found.

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First off, to install Mac OS X on a regular pc you have to get a *patched* version of the install disk. Please don’t ask me where you can get a hold of a copy of this. ;)

I used a prepatched version called “Mac OS X JaS 10.4.8 Intel/AMD Install DVD”. The steps are pretty easy.

  • Get a pre-patched install disk and burn it with your favorite program.
  • Create a partition on your hard drive at least 6GB..leave it unallocated.
  • Insert your install disk and restart.
  • Make sure that during installation you select all of the appropriate settings to install for your computer’s hardware.
  • After installation completes successfully you will need to restart your computer.

You can play around in OSX for a while if you wish, but you need to configure your boot loader to dual boot Vista and OSX. You can find a guide for this here. There are also plenty of other guides out there that you can use.

It would also be wise to take a look at a compatibility list to make sure that your hardware is supported. You can check that here.

Updates will come soon when I successfully get Mac OS X installed. I’ve heard that a version of 10.4.9 by uphuck is pretty reliable, so I’m in the process of installing it.