What is that software you have on your laptop?

The last couple of months I’ve been doing many presentations about different things related with my job. Since I have KDE on my laptop and I usually use slides even in personal conversations (I usually send them to the people I talk to so they remember the basic ideas I explained to them) they see my desktop. For most of them, it is the first time they take a look at KDE. Some of them have never seen a desktop libre before.

So sometimes I feel a little like moving back in time and showing to somebody from other age something common for us (that stupid scene when a cowboy showed a mirror to an indian). It’s hard to handle the reaction once in a while. I also feel like having some responsability, so I am becomming worried about the look and feel of my desktop and that everything works (or it looks like) perfectly. Few things that didn’t matter to me in the past now…can become an issue. Being able to configure the network (specially the wifi) fast, not having crashing messeges during the booting processs, X configuration when using a projector, speeding up the booting proccess, my laptop should not slow down due to RAM comsumption when opening apps, plasmoid that do not look nice without internet connection… Some of these things have nothing to do with the desktop itself but most of the people don’t know it. They will blame it on that “frikie thing you have on your laptop”.

I use .pdf presentations made with LaTeX beamer and showed with Okular. It is a nice combination for content oriented talks but not for good looking ones based on images. I have to improve this point. Somehow I want to give the messege that software libre is also about creativity. I’m thinking about creating a new user on my laptop just for these occasions so I can use a cool theme and adding all kind of stuff that looks really cool eventhough sometimes they aren’t too useful for me. Do you have any recommendation? I have now Kubuntu 9.04 + KDE 4.3.1.

I believe that it is easier for somebody to make the step forward and try something new in his/her computer if when showing it, your desktop works perfectly and looks nice. This is obvious. The point is that we are the main sellers of what we do and we sell our job everytime we show it. So little errors, misconfigurations or procedures that are ok to us, may not be acceptable for common users without explanation (or even with it). I’m trying to have that in mind lately and I confess that stress me a little sometimes, specially when I have a presentation after updating my laptop.

Posted in kde

9 thoughts on “What is that software you have on your laptop?

  1. Man I like your post and it is so good and I am definetly going to save it. One thing to say the Indepth analysis this article has is trully remarkable.No one goes that extra mile these days? Bravo!! Just one more tip you canget a Translator for your Worldwide Audience !!!

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  2. to clarify the last point in my post, you would only have to log out your regular user, if you wanted to show off KDE with fancy graphics, transparency, and “desktop effects” enabled.

    If that's not something you want for the demo user, you can have as many X sessions running as your hardware can handle.

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  3. I would recommend a separate user account over separate activity, despite the point brought up by anon.

    The reason being that separate activities can still be affected by things like the overall plasma theme, font settings, etc. So if you make your Presentation activity, switch to a new theme later, make your font sizes smaller, and only check it a few months later…you might have weird things like plasmoids overlapping, or being in a different location than they're supposed to be.

    It's just more foolproof to go with a separate account. In fact, the only argument against it that I can think of is X usually doesn't allow two composited user sessions to be running at the same time, so you would have to log out your regular user before logging in the “demo” user.

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  4. I will read a little more about plasma to see if there is something in that direction I can suggest for situations like this one we are talking about.

    I feel I don't get the plasma idea at 100%, since I didn't figure out these kind of solutions.

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  5. Why a special user?

    Isn't that, what activitys are made for in plasma? The goal would be a special “presentation”-activity-type in plasma that disables all kinds of notifications and contains the best fitting plasmoids by default.

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  6. What about delevering KDE with such a “presentation” user?
    He will have a preconfigured set of plamoïds installed, graphical effects activated, etc. to let me see the POWER of KDE!

    Then I will create my personnal user.

    Later, I will use the “presentation” user to discover new stuff, test it, play with it, show it to friends, etc. without risking to break my “personnal” user workspace.

    And I could simply destroy it whenever I want…

    PS: I know “What about security!?”…

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  7. You are so incredibly right.

    I am not a developer but I love my KDE4. When I do a presentation, everyone will see what kinds of error messages pop up, what kind of notifications disturb the presentation, (Kopete popping up a “What's up?” message from a friend…) Konqueror asking to “Restore Tabs” or as you mentioned, Plasmoids that need web content and look bad and useless without it.

    If this happens too much people will think “I'm not looking to be bothered by that” or even worse “I've heard before that Linux isn't ready for the desktop, seems it's true”.

    It's just so hard to try out the latest – unstable but so cool – software and leave a good impression at the same time.

    Right now I solved the problem by using one stable and one testing laptop. Stupid but works.

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