Current_Issue.tar.gz - Not Even the Droid X is Big Enough for My Desk

by Shawn Powers

Some of you may argue that all desktops eventually will be on tiny screens in your pockets. To be honest, however, I like my 26" screen, and my pockets aren't nearly big enough to hold it. So, although the embedded market certainly is important, this month we're focusing on the desktop—or laptop, if that's how you roll.

Charles Olsen gives a glimpse at GNOME 3, which isn't quite ready yet, but it offers some significant changes you might want to read about. Following his article, Shawn Powers (hey, that's me!) gives an overview of the other desktop environments—possibly some you've never heard of, but many you might want to try. Sometimes you want a faster desktop, and sometimes you just want to be different from the crowd. Both are reasons to check out the available options.

Having a desktop is only the start, of course. The real work is what you do while using that desktop. Stuart Jarvis helps keep things organized with Nepomuk. Most operating systems index files for quicker searching, but Nepomuk goes one step further and integrates the process into KDE. Although I still don't suggest saving everything to your desktop folder, if that's how you do things, Nepomuk might keep you organized despite yourself. If organization is something you prefer to do manually, that's fine as well. One frustration with that scenario, however, is when you move from computer to computer. Rather than organize each computer you use, why not just take your desktop with you? Rick Rogers shows how to create your own portable Linux desktop you can take with you wherever you go.

This month, we've included plenty of useful productivity information as well. Adam Pigg shows how to use the KOffice database tool, Kexi. Databases may not be the most exciting thing you'll deal with in a day, but they often pay the bills. Rather than using a separate proprietary database format, Kexi relies on SQLite for its underlying database program. That means any program able to deal with SQLite can deal with Kexi databases. It's great to see a program support standards, and Adam explains the ins and outs of using Kexi.

Bill Childers has his head in the clouds again this month and shows off the free 55-minute trial of Amazon's EC2 available for Ubuntu 10.10 users. Granted, 55 minutes isn't very long, but it's enough to give you a taste of the cloud with no commitment. If you discover you like EC2, but don't want to pay the monthly bill, be sure to read Bill's article. He has a solution for that as well. What he doesn't have a solution for, however, is the argument he and Kyle Rankin have about tablet computing. Whether you think tablets are the next logical step to a Star Trek world, or just laptops that really could use keyboards, Bill and Kyle both have good points. Perhaps I'll have to get a tablet myself—you know, for research.

We also have our regular lineup of columns, like Reuven Lerner's HTML5 discussion and Dave Taylor's help in dealing with spaces in filenames. Kyle Rankin shows how to get pop-up notifications in your terminal windows, and John Knight explores cool new programs that are fresh from the labs.

Additionally, we have a review by yours truly of the Giada N20, a sleek little ION2-based Nettop, and Mike Diehl shows off Jolicloud. We've also got info on Opengear's new cellular router and a book on making LEGO guns. It's truly a fun issue. So, whether you think desktop computing is on its way out, or if you have a wall of 30" monitors you refuse to give up, this issue has something for you. As for me, I'm going to keep my phone in my pocket and my 26" monitor on my desk. Even with my SCOTTEVEST jacket, toting around a giant monitor doesn't sound like fun. I'll leave that chore for Bill and his tablet computer.

Shawn Powers is the Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He's also the Gadget Guy for, and he has an interesting collection of vintage Garfield coffee mugs. Don't let his silly hairdo fool you, he's a pretty ordinary guy and can be reached via e-mail at Or, swing by the #linuxjournal IRC channel on

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