Sunday, 8 July 2012

RHEL with the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE)

TDE is the unofficial continuation of the KDE 3 project by a new team or as they put it a desktop environment for Unix-like operating systems with a primary goal of retaining the overall KDE 3.5 computing style,
that took the code when development on it ceased and all resources in the KDE camp moved over to 4. Trinity is more though than KDE 3 in maintenance mode though as they actively progress their own implementations of libcaldav and libcarddav libraries for the PIM-suite (now called Trinity PIM suite) and have taken over maintaining QT 3 with hundreds of patches applied since the last official update.
Read more here about features and project goals.

The Trinity desktop is available with packages pre-built for several distributions that are listed there on the main page, among them the last FOUR Ubuntu releases, Redhat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, Fedora 15 to 17, and Slackware 12.2 and 13.1. There are no packages for Slackware 13.37. The current Trinity version is 3.5.13, with R14 in the pipeline being worked on. The project has a policy of release when ready, so there is no roadmap or official date, but they apparently aim a releasing an update every six months. Arch Linux also has packages in AUR, but many are flagged outdated and the package set is incomplete. Debian Stable is also supported, and an older release 3.5.12 allows to update the KDE 3.5.10 that OldStable (Lenny) shipped with, just as for Slackware 12.2. This is important to be able to continue to use applications like Kopete for IM as protocols have changed since then.

I've been looking for the perfect setup for my second hand Dell Latitude for a while now. Ubuntu 10.04 was good to start with and brought me to the desktop in around 10 seconds, but as this little machine will be out and about quite a bit full disk encryption is what I am looking for. It also needed to be easy to achieve as currently I do not have the time to set this up manually with Arch or Slackware, which otherwise would have been in the race.
I started off with Fedora 17 and found installation instructions are straight to the point and easy to follow. Unfortunately, after applying all outstanding updates and installing Trinity via Yum I constantly ran into 'file too short' errors when trying to start an application. I conclude Fedora is too much work in progress and moved on to old fave Scientific Linux 6, a RHEL 6 clone for utmost stability.

After adding the repo with

cd /etc/yum.repos.d wget

and a quick update my SL6 desktop now sports Gnome 2 and Trinity/KDE 3 like in the good old days of RH 4 and 5. What's more, I immediately felt more productive than when using KDE 4 in various distributions over the last few years. I have to admit it never stayed on any of my machines in the end, although I gave it plenty of time. After all I used Fedora 14 KDE for about five months so it's not like I haven't tried. Perhaps it's just what you're used to. For everyone who feels like me, here's a nice option besides switching to XFCE.

The TDE also offers packages like kwebdev, koffice, and kdevelop, so it's not just the basic desktop environment you're getting but also often missed applications like Quanta Plus. So far it's been running like a well oiled machine. The above would of course also apply to that other famous RHEL clone, CentOS. One minor niggle is that the main repos of Redhat and clones do not seem to include Seamonkey and Chromium, both scrolling pages a lot speedier. The choice is between FF 3.6 and the long term support enterprise branch of Firefox 10. Even in the community repos these browsers are missing. Disregarding this very minor problem it's a perfect fit for my needs and intentions for this machine. Barring some unexpected sudden instability this set up is going to stay until that changes.

If you also still appreciate KDE 3 try the Slackware Current based SMS (Superb Mini Server) which comes with a basic desktop for admin purposes, but more advanced users can compile the remainder they are missing from source packages still available on servers worldwide.
The latest OpenBSD 5.1 also still offers KDE 3 in the main package selection. Then there's a lovingly done KDE 3 derivative based on OpenSUSE 12.1. And of course Porteus 32-bit live image features TDE by default (screenshot).
As you can see, one certainly doesn't have to forego the KDE 3 fix just because the Plasma desktop has taken over on all major distributions that are shipping KDE by default. Enjoy the choice~

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