Helix Gnome

Robin Stephens

Introduction

Helix Gnome is a comprehensive, easy-to-install desktop environment and suite of applications available to the Linux user.

The Helix Updater provides one-click, real-time updates to the user's desktop.

Helix Gnome also ships with a complete software development platform, and the tools you need to write modern applications.

This talk will be an introduction to Helixcode, installing and using Helix Gnome.

Why use Helix Gnome

Most distributions have release cycles that can vary from 6 months to 2.5 years. This means that the Gnome desktop that ship with distributions could be out of date on the day that the distribution ships. Helix Gnome provides an update tool that can help keep your desktop current. Bug fixes and updates are provided faster than distribution updates. Hardly a week goes by without at least some updates being released from Helix.

Installing Helix Gnome

Installing Helix Gnome using the Helix Gnome installer

On most systems, this involves downloading and running the Helix installer. The Helix installer is avalable at:

ftp://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/helixcode/installer-latest-intel.gz

The following commands will uncompress and run the Helix installer:

$ gzip -d installer-latest-intel.gz
$ chmod +x installer-latest-intel
$ su (enter superuser password when prompted)
$ ./installer-latest-intel

Alternatively, you can do the following:

lynx -dump go-gnome.com | sh

I don't recomend this however.

You will then be greeted with the following screen:

Greeting screen

Click the Next button and you are prompted for the package source. You can choose from a Helix Code mirror, a local cdrom, packages that you have downloaded downloaded to your harddrive manually or another network source. This is the option I have chosen and added the AARNET mirror as my prefered source.

http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/helixcode/

Package source screen

After clicking on next, you will be prompted for a proxy to use. I suggest that you enter the proxy information supplyed to you by your ISP.

Proxy screen

Next. Select the components you want installed. Selecting "Install everything" will cause 79.7 megabytes to be downloaded and installed. Make sure you have a fast link.

Select components screen

Next. The download starts. If the download fails part way through, restart the installer and the download will continue from where it left off.

Download screen

Next. The installer prepares the system to install Helix Gnome.

Preparing to install screen

Next. You can choose to use your current login manager or the version of Gdm supplied with Helix Gnome.

Choose login manager screen

Next. All done. Now you must restart your session.

Congratulations screen

A freshly installed Helix Gnome desktop running on RedHat 6.2

Default installation

Installing Helix Gnome using the Debian apt tool

Add the following line to your /etc/apt/sources.list file:

deb ftp://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/helixcode/distributions/debian unstable main

Then run the following commands as root:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install task-helix-gnome

If you wish to develop for Helix Gnome or to compile Gnome programs, you should also run:

# apt-get install task-helix-gnome-dev

Running Helix Gnome

The easiest way to run Helix Gnome is to choose "Use the GNOME login manager by default" at the apropriate point in the installation. On a RedHat system, you will have to change the default runlevel to 5 in /etc/inittab if you have not already done so. On a Debian sytem, GDM should start automatically once installed, if it does not, simply type:

# /etc/init.d/gdm start

as root.

Configuring Helix Gnome

Configuring Helix Gnome is done through the Gnome Control Panel.

Gnome desktop configuration tool

Applications

Helix Gnome comes with all the productivity applications you would expect on a desktop. This includes:

codecommander
Code text editor
dia
Diagram/flowchart tool
eog
Graphics file viewer
gaim-gnome
AOL Instant Messenger client
gcd
Simple audio CD player
gedit
Simple text editor
ghex
Hex editor
glade-gnome
User interface builder
gnapster
No comment
gimp1.1.28
Photoshop killer
gnome-games
Solitaire etc
gnome-gv
Postscript file viewer
gnome-iconedit
Create your own icons
gnome-icu
ICQ client
gnucash
Personal finance manager
gnumeric
Spreadsheat
gphoto
Download photos from a digital camera
grip
Audio CD ripper
gtop
System monitor
memprof
Memory profiling tool for developers
pan
Newsreader
xchat-gnome
IRC client
xscreensaver
Why bother?
xmms
Multimedia (mp3) player
bug-buddy
Bug reporting tool
gdm
Display manager
gmc
File manager
gnome-applets
tools and eye candy for your panel
gnome-control-center
configure your desktop
gnome-core
Shared files
gnome-help
man/info/gnome documentation viewer
gnome-panel
A toolbar for your desktop
gnome-session
Session manager. Restart where you left off.
gnome-terminal
For your favorite shell/textmode apps
sawfish-gnome
A Gnome aware window manager. Many window managers can be used with Gnome. I suggest using one that is Gnome aware.
grdb
Set X resources for legacy apps
evolution
This will be the default email client/pim/groupware for Gnome when it is complete
gnomecard
Address book
gnomecal
Calendar/todo
gtt
Time tracker

Reporting Bugs

Bug buddy walks you through the process of reporting bugs.

Gnome bug reporting tool

Development

Developing for Helix Gnome is the same as developing for Gnome. The Gnome website has a lot of documentation available.

Future

OpenOffice will be componentised and integrated with Gnome.

Evolution will be available as an email client/PIM.

Nautilus from Eazel will replace GMC as a file manager.

Bonobo will be the component architecture for creating reusable components and compound documents.

References

Helix Code
Evolution
Gnome
Gnome developers documentation
Gnome news
Eazel (Nautilus) Abiword