Helix GNOME Preview 2

Helix Code (www.helixcode.com) has developed a consumer-oriented package of the popular GNOME UNIX desktop environment. The open-source GNOME desktop is distributed as free software, to give everyday users access to the power of Linux via a graphical user interface.

One of the aims of Helix Code is to make the GNOME desktop easier to install. They have written an online installation script that will allow you to install the program as it is downloaded to your hard drive. Be warned, though, installing the whole Helix GNOME package will take approximately 8 hours over a 56Kbps modem. Or, you can download the Helix GNOME rpm files and run the installation script. To save you downloading Helix GNOME, we have included it on the PC World cover CD, and you should follow the installation instructions in the side box.

After running either installation script, you should see the installation window. The installation goes very smoothly and is a big step beyond having to compile and install the source code. The option is given to choose which packages you would like installed, since there are additional packages - such as the development tools - that are not a necessary part of the installation. At the end of the install you are given the option to use Helix GNOME as your default desktop environment or to start it from your present setup.

Additional applications included with Helix GNOME Preview 2 are the Microsoft Word-compatible word processor AbiWord, along with the Gnumeric spreadsheet which is compatible with Microsoft Excel and can export files in HTML and LaTex format. Personal information can be managed with the address book and time tracker applications. Graphics programs include the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program); Dia, which draws structured diagrams; and Eye Of GNOME, an image viewer.

For entertainment there is the XMMS mp3 player, the GNOME media player and a games package. The xscreensaver is also included, as are Internet utilities such as gnapster and xchat. The Helix GNOME desktop includes the complete GNOME user's guide documentation.

Since GNOME is an open source project, the packages that comprise it are constantly being developed and thus updated. To help keep GNOME users up-to-date with all the most recent developments, the Helix GNOME Updater is included. The updater is launched by typing helix-update at a root prompt or by clicking on the Helix GNOME Update icon under the System menu. You will then be given the option of choosing a mirror site, and a list of updates will appear from which you can select the packages you need to update. The packages will be downloaded and installed automatically. Other than these additional tools, Helix GNOME maintains the look and feel of the original GNOME desktop.

The packages and installation script are provided on the PC World cover CD, but the release can also be purchased as a two-CD set from 19 June. Overall, Helix GNOME Preview 2 is another positive step in graphical user interface development for Linux.

Installing Helix GNOME

There are two ways in which you an install Helix GNOME: via the online installation, or by installing the Helix rpm files. Start X windows before attempting either installation.

THE ONLINE INSTALL. For most distributions (but check with the Web site for yours), the following script will begin the online installation directly from Helix Code.

1 Connect to the internet, then become root by typing # su 2 Enter your root password and then type "# lynx -source http://spidermonkey."helixcode.com/go-gnome | sh The Helix Code installer will begin.

INSTALLATION FROM PACKAGES. Since it is such a large program - more than 100MB - most people will find installing the rpm files included on the PC World cover CD much easier. The files need to be placed in the same directory on your hard drive: this is done by copying all the files located in the packages folder on the CD to a directory on your hard drive.

1 Change directory to where you copied the packages to and, as root, type # gunzip installer-latest-intel.gz 2 Make the resulting script executable by typing # chmod +x installer-latest-intel 3 Run the installer by typing # ./installer-latest-intel The installer will then set up the Helix GNOME desktop on your system.

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Rodney Gedda

PC World
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