Thursday May 15, 2008

OpenSolaris 2008.05 in VirtualBox

Seamless OpenSolaris

Congrats to the VirtualBox team on being the first (that I know of) to provide a working Seamless/Unity/Coherence mode for OpenSolaris 2008.05 guests on OS X. (I don't know how long this has actually worked, I only tried it last night, in VB 1.6...)

Obviously a bit of work to do before it rivals the sort of integration that Windows guests enjoy in Fusion and Parallels, but it's a good step in the right direction...

Tuesday Feb 19, 2008

Media at your fingertips

Was just pondering in the shower at the weekend (as you do) about what still makes, say, MacOS X feel like a more cohesive desktop experience than even the latest and greatest GNOME in Indiana/Nevada.

One thing that came to mind was its integrated management of your media-- in pretty much any Mac app where you might want to insert or edit multimedia content, you can immediately access your entire music, photo or video library in a familiar-looking window and drag it over from there. It's built into the file selection dialog, too. media browser PulpMotion media browser iMovie media browser Open File dialog

Of course, Apple only really let you manage your media library with their own software: iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture, iMovie, Final Cut etc. But it did get me wondering if there was a place for a freedesktop 'media library' spec, that would offer our users the same sort of quick, searchable access to their media content (be it local, remote, stored on Flickr, split across three DVDs, or any combination of the above) in any application that required it. And, of course, to do what Apple doesn't, and allow any app to manage that content, if it needs to do so :)

Thursday Aug 02, 2007

VMware 1, Parallels 0

I'd been using Parallels 3.0 for the past few weeks to run SXDE 2 on my MacBook Pro, but started having problems when I upgraded to Solaris Nevada build 69-- the X server wouldn't start any more, and I just couldn't get it going at all.

I took the opportunity to try out the VMware Fusion Beta instead, and so far it's the clear winner. It does feel a trifle slower than Parallels (even with debugging turned off), and its snapshots aren't as flexible, only allowing one per VM. But its VM tools for Solaris are way ahead of Parallels' non-existent offering-- clock sync, on-the-fly desktop resize, copy/paste/drag+drop from Solaris <-> OS X... nice. (Haven't figured out if shared folders are supposed to work on Solaris yet or not-- the settings are available which suggest they should, but the folders I've nominated don't show up anywhere obvious, so I'm guessing they don't.)

Assuming it's just as happy at full screen on my Sun 24" display when I get into the office, I'll be sticking in the VMware camp for now.

Edit: Oh, and did I mention that Solaris sound and networking work out of the box on VMware too?

Wednesday May 16, 2007

Hey Presto!

Or, "Solaris printing finally makes it into the 21st century".

Check out Norm's screencast of the first working bits of the automatic printer detection and config system that we're working on for OpenSolaris. Only works for local USB printers right now, but loads more functionality to come over the next few months. Kudos to the printing team-- Norm, Wendy (who doesn't have a blog, AFAIK), Ghee and Halton\*-- for finally nailing one of the most-neglected parts of the Solaris user experience.

\*Okay, so I've been helping a bit too...

Tuesday Apr 24, 2007

No Sun in Birmingham

Bit disappointing to see there are no Sun speakers in the core GUADEC schedule this year, especially as it's being held just a short hop across the water from the JDS team in Dublin-- first time we haven't featured in the proceedings since we became involved in GNOME nearly seven years ago, I think. They're still looking for lightning talks, though, so hopefully we might still step up to the mark there!

(I have proposed a usability workshop kind of thing that may show up in the non-core days, but it would be sad not to be represented at the main event.)

Tuesday Nov 28, 2006

Themely reminder

Hacked up a quick script today to help me pinpoint which icons were missing from the accessibility themes. As a sideshow, I had it point out which .desktop and .directory files (as installed by Solaris nv_53) had hard-coded pathnames and/or icon filename suffixes, both of which can break themeing.

It found 61 with hard-coded suffixes, and 6 with hard-coded pathnames (although the only non-Sun ones in the latter category came from gksu)... so, if you maintain a .desktop file, please remember to have its Icon line look something like:


rather than


to ensure maximium themability. (And preferably install generic icons in the hicolor theme rather than the deprecated /usr/share/pixmaps anyway.)

Anyway, back to the real work generated by the script-- the 70+ missing High Contrast icons it spotted (not to mention the 120 Low Contrast icons). Oh for the day when this proposal is adopted...


I am a Principal UX Engineer in the Systems Experience Design team, working at Oracle (via Sun Microsystems) since the turn of the century. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.


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