KDE vs Gnome: A Dvorak User’s Perspective

Written by BinnyVA on December 25, 2008 – 12:23 am -

Dvorak is an alternative keyboard layout. Most systems(like 99% of systems) are configured in the Qwerty layout. But some people(like me) have opted for a better layout – Dvorak. Unfortunately, since most people use Qwerty, the support for Dvorak in most OSes/Window Managers leaves a lot to be desired. So I decided to do a comparison of how the major window manages supports Dvorak.

Note: I am biased towards KDE – keep that in mind while going through the article.

Shortcuts

The most biggest problem faced by anyone who switches to the Dvorak layout is the shortcuts problem. Basically, most keyboard shortcuts are created with Qwerty users in mind. Think of the most commanly used shortcuts…

  • Save – Ctrl+S
  • Quit – Ctrl+Q
  • Refresh – Ctrl+R
  • Find – Ctrl+F
  • Copy – Ctrl+C
  • Paste – Ctrl+V
  • Cut – Ctrl+X
  • Undo – Ctrl+Z

All that can be done using the left hand in the Qwerty layout – very useful because the right hand might be on the mouse. Also, after a lot of use, these shortcuts becomes muscle memory – you will be pressing the keys without any searching.

But once you move over to Dvorak, these keys are scattered all over the keyboard – most of them needs both hands to press. But a bigger problem is muscle memory – you will be pressing the Qwerty position for the shortcuts even after you have switched over to Dvorak. For example, the ‘S’ key in Qwerty becomes the ‘O’ key in Dvorak – every time you try to save a file, you will be calling the open function. Very irritating.

KDE

In KDE you can solve this problem by remapping the shortcut keys. One great feature of KDE is that you can assign shortcuts to almost anything. And an alternative shortcut is available as well. So for, say, Copy, I have assigned the shortcut ‘Ctrl+C’ and ‘Ctrl+J'(‘C’ key becomes ‘J’ in Dvorak) – so the shortcuts work in Dvorak as well. This makes it easier to switch to Dvorak – but it will take some time to make all the configurations. Another method is to relearn all shortcuts in Dvorak mode – this is what I did eventually.

Gnome

Gnome has a better way of doing this – all you have to do is add the Keyboard Indicator Panel widget. When you are in Dvorak mode and you press the left Ctrl key, it remaps the keyboard to Qwerty mode. So Ctrl+S stays as save in Dvorak mode as well. You will be typing in Dvorak – but when you press the Ctrl key to save, Gnome will remap your keys before you hit the ‘S’ key – calling the save function. That’s neat.

It might be a bit disorienting at first, but I think its a better approach than KDE.

Score

  • Gnome: 1
  • KDE: 0

Switching Layouts

You need an easy method to switch layouts – especially if others use your system occasionally. One easy way to do is to click on the keyboard layout indicator on the panel. This is possible in both KDE and Gnome – if you add that widget to your panel.

KDE

In KDE I used to set the shortcuts Ctrl+Alt+L and Ctrl+Alt+P to switch the layouts(P becomes L when switching from Qwerty to Dvorak). But an easier way do this may be to set both Shift key as the switch shortcut. Go to System Settings > Regional & Language > Keyboard Layout > ‘Advanced’ tab. Then find the ‘Both Shift keys together switches layout’ option(under Layout Switching). Enable that. Now if you press both shift keys, you can toggle your layout.

Gnome

You can do the same thing in Gnome. Go to System > Preferences > Keyboard > ‘Layout Options’ tab. Enable the ‘Both Shift keys together switches layout’ option under Layout Switching.

Actually you can set this option in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file – just add the line

Option "XkbOptions"     "grp:shift_toggle"

in the Section InputDevice" section.

Score

Both KDE and Gnome gets a cookie.

  • Gnome: 2
  • KDE: 1

Layout Indicator

Its important to know which layout is activated – you can do this by pressing the ‘S’ key – if the outputted char is ‘S’ then its the qwerty layout. If it is ‘O’, then you have the Dvorak layout. But it is very helpful to have a visual indicator as well. Both KDE and Gnome provides this option.

KDE

Go to System Settings > Regional & Language > Keyboard Layout. Change label of the layouts to ‘Dvo’ and ‘Qwe’ – you can see the label appear in the indicator in the system bar.

Gnome

You have to add the Keyboard Layout Indicator panel widget for this. Now when you switch between layouts, they are shown as USA and USA2. Not as good as what KDE does.

Score

  • Gnome: 2
  • KDE: 2

Password Entry

Gnome

Choose System > Lock Screen. The dialog that accepts the password don’t have a layout chooser. It shows the current layout – as USA – you have to guess wether it is Dvorak or Qwerty. The password entry will not help you – you cannot see the characters being entered. If you know Dvorak, you can get in by guessing. But if you don’t know Dvorak, you will not be able to get in even if you know the password.

KDE

In KDE, this dialog is much better – it shows the current layout – and also provides you an option to switch between them.

Final Score

  • Gnome: 2
  • KDE: 3

Related Links


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Posted in Gnome, KDE, Opinion | 4 Comments »

Frees – Hard Disk Drives Free Space Viewer

Written by BinnyVA on April 6, 2008 – 1:43 am -

I am taking a break from the regular MP3 Players Series for a special announcement. The first stable version of Frees has been released. Frees is a GUI tool that shows the Hard Disk space usage. It is written in Python using the GTK2 framework. This will only work in linux as it depends on the ‘df’ command. Frees just parses the output of df and shows it in a graphical format.

Download

Frees Screenshot

Features

Simple/Easy to use

Frees features a very simple interface. Granted, some of the columns like Device, Type and Mount Point may sound a bit geeky – but hey, you are using Linux. Its supposed to be geeky.

Ability to Remove Drives from the List

There may be some drives that you want to hide in the list. Like, say you have a 10 mb /boot partition – you have no user-level use for that. In Frees you can hide that partition in the list. Go to Preferences > Drives and check off the drive you want to hide.

Shows Total Space

The last item in the list is the ‘Total’ row. It shows the total space of your harddisk. Note that this shows the total of all mounted drives – so it may not be an accurate measure of your total HDD space.

Competition

KDiskFree

There is an alternative to this program – KDiskFree. Its a KDE App…

KDiskFree displays the available file devices (hard drive partitions, floppy and CD drives, etc.) along with information on their capacity, free space, type and mount point. It also allows you to mount and unmount drives and view them in a file manager.

I was not all that satisfied with KDiskFree – that’s why I created Frees. These are the advantages Frees has over KDiskFree…

  • KDiskFree cannot hide drives in the list.
  • KDiskFree includes mounted images, CD ROM/DVD ROM devices as list items. Frees ignores these items.
  • KDiskFree does not show the file system types for all drives – many are shown as ‘?’
  • Frees have the ‘Total HDD Space’ feature – KDiskFree does not have that.

But KDiskFree has one advantage over Frees – you can mount drives from within the application. You cannot do that in Frees.

df Command

The other alternative to Frees is the ‘df’ command. Here is the man entry for df…

df displays the amount of disk space available on the file system containing each file name argument. If no file name is given, the space available on all currently mounted file systems is shown.

df is not ‘user friendly’ in the classical sense of the term – its a terminal application. Unlike KDiskFree, I do not consider df to be a competition to Frees. As a matter of fact, Frees uses df command internally to get the space usage data.

Frees Links

Now, your job is to download this application and try it out. Send me any bugs you find and your suggestions.


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Posted in Applications, Gnome, News | 5 Comments »

Listen – Gtk MP3 Player

Written by BinnyVA on March 22, 2008 – 11:27 pm -

Listen Logo

I expected my MP3 player series will end with the last post – but the comments pointed to some other players. Two players stood out – so I decided that I will review them as well. The first one is Listen. Its a Gtk player written in Python.

Features

  • Supports Shoutcast Webradio
  • Supports Podcast
  • Multiple Display modes
  • Wikipedia Integration
  • Native Lyrics Support

Listen Screenshot

Disadvantages

No Global Shortcuts
At least, none that I could find.
“Interesting” Layout
The layout is kinda different from the standand layout of amaroK, Exaile, Rythmbox etc. I am still getting used to it. But once you get the hang of it, it could turn out to be a better system than the one that the other players use.

Advantages

OSD
Shows up on mouse hover and track change.
Tray Icon
Supports play/pause with middle click.
Music Library
Listen has a music library – but it supports only a single folder as its library folder.

More Information


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 7 Comments »

Top 10 Linux MP3 Players

Written by BinnyVA on March 14, 2008 – 11:11 am -

Music

There are no shortage of audio players in Linux. It has everything from command line MP3 players(mpg123) to RAM eating GUI players(like Amarok). With easily available codecs, linux supports almost all available formats.

This is the final post on a series about MP3 Players in linux. This series focuses on dedicated audio players – not video players that can handle audio as well(like mplayer). Without further ado, presenting the top 10 Linux MP3 players…

1. Amarok

Amarok Logo

amaroK is currently the player of my choice – it rocks. Everything I ever wanted in a MP3 Player and more. It is the clear winner in this field. In my opinion, there is nothing that beats amarok even if you look at Windows and Mac MP3 players as well.

Amarok Linux MP3 Player Screenshot

More Information on Amarok MP3 Player

2. XMMS

XMMS Logo

A Winamp clone. Simple and user friendly, it is very popular on linux. It does not have a large feature set – but I am going to give it second place due to its popularity.

XMMS MP3 Audio Player Screenshot

Official Sites for XMMS Player

3. RhythmBox

RhythmBox Gnome Music Player Logo

Rhythmbox Music Player is a music player and library for tagged files, that support various music formats. It was inspired by Apple’s iTunes. Although it is designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, I had no issues with it in KDE.

RhythmBox – Gnome Music Player

RhythmBox Media Player Screenshot

Official Sites

4. Exaile

Exaile MP3 Player Logo

Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python. It incorporates many of the cool things from Amarok (and other media players)

Exaile – Music Player for Gtk+

Exaile Media Player Screenshot

Official Sites

5. Audacious

Audacious Logo

Audacious is not among the ‘star media-players’ in Linux – so many people never try it out. But those who have tried it out like it. For the sake of the article, I installed it – and I liked it. I even considered switching from amaroK to Audacious.

Audacious Media Player

Official Sites

6. Banshee

Banshee Music Player Logo

Banshee is an MP3 players for Gnome. You can import, organize, play, and share your music using Banshee’s simple, powerful interface.

Banshee – Music Management and Playback for GNOME

Banshee MP3 Player Screenshot

Banshee Official Sites

7. SongBird

SongBird MP3 Software Logo

SongBird is an MP3 player built on the XUL framework. It’s a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web.

SongBird – The Firefox of MP3 Players

Songbird Screenshot

Official Sites

8. Juk

Juk MultiMedia Player Logo

An audio jukebox that supports collections of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. It is a part of the kdemultimedia package.

Juk


9. mpg123/mpg321

mpg123 is a fast, free, minimalist, console MPEG audio player software program for UNIX and Linux operating systems.

mpg123/mpg321 – The Command Line MP3 Players

Official Sites

10. Other MP3 Players and Media Software…

Instead of putting the last MP3 Player here, I am going to list the MP3 software that did not make it to the list…

So, which is your favorite MP3 Player? Leave a comment…

Update: I reviewed two more players…


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome, KDE | 96 Comments »

Fedora 8/KDE Font Bug for Gnome Applications

Written by BinnyVA on February 19, 2008 – 12:08 am -

Fonts

If you are using Fedora 8 with KDE you may have noticed an interesting bug. Once you open some Gnome apps(for example, Exile, all the fonts in the KDE applications becomes one size smaller.

If this happens, the only way to fix it is to restart the X server – or so I thought. At first, I thought it was the issue of just one application – namely RhythmBox.

But I just found that there is a simple fix for this problem…

  • Run the command ‘gnome-appearance-properties’
  • Go to the ‘Fonts’ Tab
  • Click on the ‘Details’ Button at the bottom
  • Change the Resolution to 96 Dots per Inch(DPI)

Changing the DPI

That should solve your problem.

This issue appears only if your screen resolution is bigger than normal – mine is 1440×900.


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Posted in Fedora, Gnome, KDE, Troubleshooting | No Comments »

Exaile – Music Player for Gtk+

Written by BinnyVA on January 7, 2008 – 11:12 pm -

Exaile Logo

Exaile an amarok clone for Gnome – and I have to admit – I am impressed.

Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python. It incorporates many of the cool things from Amarok (and other media players) like automatic fetching of album art, handling of large libraries, lyrics fetching, artist/album information via Wikipedia, Last.fm submission support, and optional iPod support via a plugin.

Exaile Screenshot

Features

It has many features that make amarok great…

  • Automatic fetching of album art
  • Handling large music libraries
  • Lyrics fetching
  • Fetches Artist/Album information from Wikipedia

And some features that amarok does not have…

  • Tabbed playlist interface
  • Song Blacklist Manager

Disadvantages

  • I could not find the Global Hotkeys feature

Download

If you want to try exaile, you can download exaile and install it yourself.

Related Links


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 8 Comments »

Banshee – Music Management and Playback for GNOME

Written by BinnyVA on November 7, 2007 – 11:02 pm -

Banshee

Banshee is one of the best audio players for Gnome. It has most of the things I want in an MP3 software…

  • Stays in the system tray
  • Simple interface
  • Media Library
  • Ability to control the player using shortcuts without accessing the player(Multimedia Keys Plugin)

Unfortunately, I could not run this software in my system – it is showing a ‘No Codec’ error for all the files I tried to play. I tried to fix this problem by myself – I even tried reinstalling the software. Still no luck. I am sure that is is a configuration error on my part – I don’t think it is an issue in banshee.

Anyway, since I could not try out this software, I stop now. If I could fix this issue before my series on MP3 Players for Linux is over, I will come back and post the details on this page.


Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 5 Comments »

MP3 Audio Players in Linux

Written by BinnyVA on August 27, 2007 – 11:26 pm -

There are no shortage of audio players in Linux. It has everything from command line mp3 players(mpg123) to RAM eating GUI players(like Amarok). With easily available codecs, linux supports almost all available formats.

I am going to do a series on the diffrent audio players available for Linux. This will focus on dedicated audio players – not video players that can handle audio as well(like mplayer).

The most popular audio players for linux are…

XMMS
A Winamp clone. Simple and user friendly, it is very popular on linux.
XMMS
Amarok
Amarok is the most feature rich player on Linux right now. It is a KDE app.
Amarok
Audacious
Another Winamp clone – this is actually a fork of beep-media-player.
Audacious
Banshee
Music management and playback for Gnome
Banshee
Rhythmbox
Rhythmbox is an integrated music management application, originally inspired by Apple’s iTunes.
JuK
An audio jukebox that supports collections of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. It is a part of the kdemultimedia package.
Juk
SongBird
Songbird is a desktop Web player, a digital jukebox and Web browser mash-up.
SongBird
Exaile
Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python.
Exaile
mpg123
A fast, free console based MP3 audio player for Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Hpux and near all other UNIX systems.

I will explore XMMS in more detail in the next post.


Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome, KDE | 9 Comments »

Nautilus Scripts – Terminal, File Finder

Written by BinnyVA on April 9, 2007 – 2:24 am -

Nautilus

I prefer using KDE and its excellent file manager Konqueror. But before I began using that, I was using Gnome’s Nautilus. To fill in the gaps that were missing in Nautilus, I created a few Nautilus Scripts for various things like opening up terminals, opening a file finding application etc.

Some of the scripts I used are given below. To install these script, just create a file with this data, give it the permission 755 and put it in the folder ‘~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/’. Nautilus looks in this folder for all its executable scripts.

Backuper (By Me)

# Backuper V 1.00.A
# By Binny V A (http://lindesk.com/)
# Creates a Backup of the selected file and appends a timestamp to it 
#  in the format '<Filename.ext>_Feb06_20.45.58.bak'
echo -n "cp '$1' '$1_">/tmp/backuper.sh
date "+%b%d_%H.%M.%S.bak'">>/tmp/backuper.sh
sh /tmp/backuper.sh

Open Terminal

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
# Open terminal here
#
# Nautilus script that opens a gnome-terminal at the current location, if it's
# a valid one. This could be done in shell script, but I love Perl!.
#
# 20020930 -- Javier Donaire <jyuyu@fraguel.org>
# http://www.fraguel.org/~jyuyu/
# Licensed under the GPL v2+
#
# Modified by: Dexter Ang [thepoch@mydestiny.net]
# 2003-12-08: Modified for Gnome 2.4
#  - Added checking if executed on Desktop "x-nautilus-desktop:///"
#    so that it opens in /home/{user}/Desktop

#use strict;
$_ = $ENV{'NAUTILUS_SCRIPT_CURRENT_URI'};
if ($_ and m#^file:///#) {
	s/%([0-9A-Fa-f]{2})/chr(hex($1))/eg;
	s#^file://##;
	exec "gnome-terminal --working-directory='$_'";
}

# Added 2003-12-08 Dexter Ang
if ($_ == "x-nautilus-desktop:///") {
	$_ = $ENV{'HOME'};
	$_ = $_.'/Desktop';
	exec "gnome-terminal --working-directory='$_'";
}

To get this functionality in Konqueror, just open up the folder you want in Konqueror and choose Tools->Open Terminal(or press F4)

Search Here

#!/usr/bin/perl
# Nautilus script that opens the gnome-search-tool(Actions->Search for Files) tool in the
# selected directory.
# 
# Author : Binny V A
# http://lindesk.com/
# Copied from 'Open Terminal Here' Script 

$_ = $ENV{'NAUTILUS_SCRIPT_CURRENT_URI'};
if ($_ and m#^file:///#) {
	s/%([0-9A-Fa-f]{2})/chr(hex($1))/eg;
	s#^file://##;
	exec "gnome-search-tool --path='$_' --contains=";
}

if ($_ == "x-nautilus-desktop:///") {
	$_ = $ENV{'HOME'};
	$_ = $_.'/Desktop';
	exec "gnome-search-tool --path='$_' --contains=";
}

Konqueror makes this much easier. Just choose Tools->Find Files

If you are intrested in finding more scripts like this, visit http://g-scripts.sourceforge.net/


Posted in Applications, Gnome | 3 Comments »