Busy Couple Weeks in Open Source Land

It has been a pretty busy couple of weeks in the land of open source software:

  • OpenOffice.org‘s new version 3 made it into the regular repositories in Arch Linux last week. One of the aspects of a rolling release distribution like Arch is how quickly stuff like this becomes available particularly in light of the recent announcement by the Ubuntu team that they will stay on version 2.4.1 in their next upcoming release. Both my Arch boxes have been updated, and I’m impressed with the changes and the speed improvements.
  • Firefox’s beta 1 of version 3.1 was released up, too, and I’m running it on 3 of my boxes, including my Mac at work. It feels much faster — even without turning on the disabled-by-default new JavaScript engine which is still reportedly pretty buggy — and some of the UI changes are pretty nice.
  • Mozilla Messaging release an alpha 3 of the next release of Thunderbird, and I’m running that as my primary mail client on my Mac at work. It has picked up some nice Mac UI changes, provides integration with the Mac address book, and the re-tooled IMAP support is noticably better that the current stable version 2 branch of Thunderbird. And how could you not like a mail client named “Shredder”?
  • GNOME‘s latest release — version 2.24 — made it into the stable repositories earlier this week, and both of my Arch boxes are now running it. Most of the changes aren’t all that obvious at this point, but it is noticably faster and feels more responsvive. The upgrade was painless (aside from the big download) and seems to have gone flawlessly on both boxes.
  • Finally, WordPress released a minor point release to fix a security hole.

Squeezing Scrollbars in a GNOME theme

I like the looks of the Clearlooks controls, but It has always seemed like most of the control sets in GNOME themes have scrollbars that are just a skosh too wide. Based on a comment I found in response to a blog entry on a related topic, it’s pretty easy to squeeze them. Locate the “gtkrc” file for the theme (most of the Debian-based distros will have the stock themes installed in “/usr/share/themes/”) and tweak the size settings for

GtkRange     ::slider-width = 15
GtkRange     ::stepper-size = 15

Clearlooks has those at 15 by default. The slider-width setting is the width of the scrollbar itself; the stepper-size setting is the height of the “stepper” at each end of the scrollbar. I bumped both of those down to 13, and they feel like they are closer to the right size for me. Small change, but it feels better visually.