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Cellphones GUI Handhelds Software Hardware Linux

Gnome, KDE, LXDE, IceWM All Working On Android 194

Posted by timothy
from the options-are-good dept.
dooberrymctavish writes "Ghostwalker over at AndroidFanatic has gone and done it again; now he's released clear and concise instructions on how to get X11 server running on your Android device. Not only that, but he has successfully gotten LXDE, and IceWM running at a pace. There is even a photo with the instructions showing the LXDE desktop running right there on the device itself. Apparently, you can also VNC straight onto the phone's new desktop from your PC."
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Gnome, KDE, LXDE, IceWM All Working On Android

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  • by Elitist_Phoenix (808424) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:03PM (#26953909)

    ... wait never mind!

  • by cpicon92 (1157705) <kristianpicon@gmail.com> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:06PM (#26953929)
    can you make phone calls with it?
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Look at it this way, what if the answer were "no"? It might still be a better PocketPC than anything Microsoft or Palm ever put out.
  • Er, no thanks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:06PM (#26953933) Homepage Journal
    Even the 800x480 of a Nokia N810 is a bit cramped for normal desktop style window managers. I hate to contemplate what it would be like to use anything like them on the 320x480 screen that is the G1. And I really don't think it's worth building up an Android netbook distro just to rip it back down to use desktop window managers-- if you want that, then run Linux on it already and forget about the Android application stack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      Why don't you try the phone before assuming? N810 has its own problems because of how its handled.

      The G1 tends to handle the sizing better than most phones in all honesty. If there's one thing the phone does noticeably well it's handle an enormous amount of icons while still having a keyboard (and not on screen keyboard) available.

    • by qw0ntum (831414)
      Did you look at the screen shot in the article? It actually doesn't look half bad.
      • Re:Er, no thanks. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Microlith (54737) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:51PM (#26954145)

        It may not look bad, but I run into situations repeatedly on my Aspire One where the dialog is simply too tall to be usable. Sometimes options, and frequently the Help/Ok/Cancel buttons are below the bottom edge of the screen (even if I set both of the gnome panels to autohide) and cannot be reached.

        Frequently I run into default windows that are larger than 640x480, which while small was typical not long ago, and still common among mobile resolutions. GUI designers need to keep this in mind.

        • Linux is continually improved by it's developers and it's users, while many users are unable to fix a gui problem they can help by filing a bug report when gui issues occur.

          If you want something fixed the first thing you need to do is provide the developers with feedback to identify the problem. It's your opportunity to contribute to the community. A politely worded bug report is likely to result in the problem being resolved.

          Got to admit far too often I ignore the gui bugs I come across, I really should ma

        • by dargaud (518470)
          Why isn't there a qt/kde/gnome/X/whatever fallback mechanism for when a window/popup is larger than the screen ? Either shrink it, or display it in parts, or move it around slowly... I've faced this problem too and it makes the machine useless unless you know the shortcut keys.
        • It may not look bad, but I run into situations repeatedly on my Aspire One where the dialog is simply too tall to be usable. Sometimes options, and frequently the Help/Ok/Cancel buttons are below the bottom edge of the screen (even if I set both of the gnome panels to autohide) and cannot be reached.

          New to Linux? Use Alt+Mouseclick to drag the window by any point in the window.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            New to Linux? Use Alt+Mouseclick to drag the window by any point in the window.

            Riiiiight. The G1 phone may have an Alt key, but you have to open the keyboard. The G2 has no physical Alt key at all. What is a 'mouseclick'?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Frequently I run into default windows that are larger than 640x480

          It seems like we are actually going backwards when it comes to UI design. Can we please get a course on UI design mandatory in all CS programs, thank you? Lately I've been running into scads of programs whose dialog box (sans decorations) is bigger than 800x600 on default fonts! I believe Handbrake was one of them...

        • Alt-click is your friend, and doing so on any background area of the window will allow you to move the window around so you can get to the interesting parts.

          Alt-click doesn't work properly if you have the desktop effects enabled though. I guess that the affects does boundary checking to prevent the top of the window from being dragged higher that the screen, which is something that it really shouldn't be doing.

          Also, Gnome is working on a "tiny" window manager theme for screen space constrained devices. I

      • Re:Er, no thanks. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sketerpot (454020) <sketerpot AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @11:13PM (#26954275)
        Most of the beauty of the Android's design is looking good and being usable on a tiny screen. I doubt that most software written for people with big monitors is going to be pleasant on a cell phone screen.
        • Well then (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Weaselmancer (533834)

          Write new software that does look good on a cell phone screen.

          With X11 up and running, that opens up a large bank of developers that know X and can do that, you know.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Ostracus (1354233)

            Ummm, no. Knowing X doesn't mean that one knows HCI as well. In fact looking at the development of Linux GUIs over the years I'd say the odds are against it. Note that's not saying one can't be developed, but it's more work than people really anticipate. A cellphone GUI that tries to be all things to all people (curse of a thousand choices) doesn't fit well into the appliance (does a few things well) nature of the device.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by visualight (468005)

              HCI http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human-computer_interaction [wikipedia.org]

              There are people in the world who think "HCI" is more than common sense and taking some time the think. They tend to think they know what you'll like better than you. You can sometimes find them in forums responding to "How do I..." questions with admonitions not to do what you're asking.

              • by MightyYar (622222)

                I wouldn't have modded you flamebait, but I know why you got that mod. Your tone is very contemptuous. You could have laid out your reasoned, cool argument about why you don't need usability experts... instead, your post attacks the behavior of these people without offering any explanation as to why their behavior is wrong or what a better alternative is.

        • by Bralkein (685733)
          I remember reading that one of the goals of KDE 4's new Plasma shell is to be able to make it easier to develop interfaces to help people use KDE on mobile devices. I don't think that there's been any major work done in this area yet but KDE does come with a lot of nice apps and it would be cool if someone could use Plasma to find a way to expose them on a smartphone device. There's an applet to control the media player software for example so I think it would be possible to use the capabilities of existing
    • by qkan (89307)

      I second that. As much as I love my n810, I came to understand that anything less than 1024x768 just does not work nicely in the current world. (And while we're at that - my work notebook is 1024x768 because it's ultraportable; most of the time it's enough but SOME applications are a pain in the back to work with at 1024x768; think constant scrolling). Oh, and on an unrelated note - processor on n810 sucks; yeah, complex sites and video streams kind of work but far from perfect. Don't get me wrong, I love t

    • Even the 800x480 of a Nokia N810 is a bit cramped for normal desktop style window managers. I hate to contemplate what it would be like to use anything like them on the 320x480 screen that is the G1.

      The answer may be in repressed nightmarish memories from your youth.
      Didn't you ever run a PC with a CGA display in color mode (320x200), or try with a VGA adapter set to MCGA mode (=CGA with more colors)? It only sucks a little if your interface is designed to work with low resolution displays. If the interface was conceived with more pixels in mind, and just supports low resolution as an afterthought, then it really sucks.
      Actually, everything sucked on CGA in graphics mode, including Windows 1.0 and GEM.

    • well, 640x480 is fine for xp classic (tried it with htc universal & remote desktop). so there.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        well, 640x480 is fine for xp classic

        Actually, there are now numerous dialogs in Windows XP itself which will not fully fit on the screen at 640x480. I would go look for them all, but I'm sitting at my 32" 1080p and leave that as an exercise for the unfortunate. I don't think I have anything less than 800x600 any more (My iOpener is now my oldest, slowest, and least-efficient computer clock for clock. And my largest machine isn't much bigger :)

  • Great Combination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:10PM (#26953953)

    The Speed and resolution of a Portable Device, combined with the large size of a Desktop PC.
    Yea you get geek cred points but for the most part it is kinda useless, for most real uses.

  • If your running Android on a desktop however for stuff like Smartphones KDE and Gnome are bascially useless. I would suggest porting across Enlightenment E17, especially if the rumors are true about an Android run eeePC
    • by TinBromide (921574) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:34PM (#26954069)
      There was a slashdot article a month or so ago about how they got android to work on a small pc, but the GUI wasn't all there and they couldn't get it to work. So if they combine the desktop work with this gui combination, android will be a competitor in the netbook market.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        So if they combine the desktop work with this gui combination, android will be a competitor in the netbook market.

        What makes Android interesting is the interface and the app store. Take that away, and why would you want android?

        I have a tablet/netbook (DT Research DT360) and my plan is to get Angstrom Linux running on it (wish me luck.) It's designed for small screens and limited devices. My tablet has 512MB flash disk, 512MB RAM and I am adding an 8GB 133x CF shortly because it doesn't appear to have +5V support for microdrives.

    • LXDE and IceWM might be good options though.
  • Fuzzy photo fail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:30PM (#26954043) Homepage Journal

    You'd think someone smart enough to create this hack would be able to use a camera to take a decent picture of it... but no.

    • In fact, these guys were so geeky they hacked their own brains to image what they saw directly.

      But being basement nerds their eyesight is roughly on par with that of an Euglena.

    • by EvilIdler (21087)

      Camera?! WTF? Why not simply take a screendump with any of a zillion Linux programs which can grab the screen?

      • by Rob Kaper (5960)

        Because that wouldn't show the device running the software, just that you've been able to configure your display to use a lower resolution.

  • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@gm a i l .com> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:32PM (#26954061) Journal

    Synergy (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/) and X2VNC (http://directory.fsf.org/project/x2vnc/) can be useful to 'merge' your phone and home PC screens. Move your mouse over to your android screen, copy something, paste it onto your PC application.

    From Synergy website:

    Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

    Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all. Learn more about how it works.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Seconded. I've been using Synergy between my Windows and Linux desktops and it's seamless - you roll the mouse cursor across the edge of the screen and the other system has focus. I only have to use the KVM to switch over to the Linux box (yeah, I'll admit it, Windows is still my main desktop at work, so sue me) after the screen went to power save mode, and for text consoles. Is there a command line utility to tell X to wake up the display?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        xset dpms force on

  • by graft (556969) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:44PM (#26954111) Homepage
    While I agree with other commenters that existing desktop environments are an extremely bad fit for the Android and smart phones in general, what this development allows (and encourages me to think will happen soon) is a user-created free software platform built specifically for mobile phones. Phones need to have a lot of creativity applied to them; the iPhone was a big step forward in that department, but I'm inclined to think that the community of free software developers will be able to find myriad new uses for such devices - and implement them, to boot. Hopefully this can happen in a way that pays close attention to the much stricter design constraints of a handheld device.
    • by sketerpot (454020) <sketerpot AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @11:20PM (#26954303)
      Android is already a free software platform where users can write software without being locked out. Isn't that what you're looking for? Sure, it came from Google and is promoted by a consortium of telecom giants, rather than springing straight from the People, but as long as a cat catches mice, does it really matter what color it is?
      • by zappepcs (820751)

        It's what I'm looking for. Personally, I'd be happy with something slightly bigger than most smartphones are now given that it supports bluetooth and wired earbuds for phone use. I'd like more USB support and a cradle that allows me to plug a keyboard into it as well as perhaps software that allows an X window on my desktop to be what is on the Android. Not quite a laptop, but just below that level of functionality. To be truly useful, I'd like to be able to plug a keyboard into it that is sized for my fing

  • IceWM ftw (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deadearth (906654)
    I was just happy to see IceWm in a slashdot headline. It's a great little WM that doesn't always get the attention from users it deserves.
    • I was just happy to see IceWm in a slashdot headline. It's a great little WM that doesn't always get the attention from users it deserves.

      I'll second that. IceWM was my main WM from 2001 until last year (when I finally gave in and allowed my GPU to worry about window management cycles ...)

      It can't match it with the compositing giants these days, but IceWM ran super-smoothly on a P120 laptop -- and that's gotta be worth something. The code base was small, straightforward and easy to hack, too. I still miss using it from time to time.

  • Anybody got Android running on the HTC Wizard yet? I'd love to dump Windows Mobile.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      Probably not possible without support from HTC. Which won't happen. Phone makers basically consider a phone and its OS a matched set.

  • by lordofwhee (1187719) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @11:56PM (#26954475)

    ...I could use it as a mobile phone!

  • But can I vnc into my desktop from the phone?

  • Just thought I'd ask.

  • I have this old laptop that had difficulties coping with KDE, Gnome and Windows' memory demands. It was almost unusably slow.

    I decided to try XFCE on it. Then I also installed xmonad and vimperator for better keyboard control.

    It is blazing fast on this old laptop, faster than Gnome is on my very new desktops.

    Its not as "pretty", but I think "immediate response" is so much more fun than "pretty" that I think I'm going to switch all my workstations to XFCE/xmonad rather than Gnome or KDE.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I've been running XFCE on my IBM T23. It does run like a charm, but I'm beginning to wonder why I need the overhead of a desktop environment. What does XFCE do for me that Fluxbox doesn't? Not much.

      I tried LXDE too. Man was that a pile of shit.

  • ...that they didn't use X in the first place. It's heavy. It'd also be a huge pain in the ass to get power management and wakeups under control

    IMHO the biggest mistake with Android was the decision to invent their own (shitty) set of UI widgets. The interface designer is a joke. They should have ported the relevant bits of Qtopia.

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