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Debian Packages Screenshots Repository Launched 72

Posted by timothy
from the worth-1024-words-a-least dept.
Christoph Haas writes "A picture is worth a thousand words. And thanks to screenshots.debian.net this finally comes true for Debian packages. The new website was launched just a week ago and has already collected screenshots for 740 packages shipping with the Linux distribution — with new uploads pouring in every hour. Debian users can finally get an impression of how an application would look before installing it."
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Debian Packages Screenshots Repository Launched

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  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:18PM (#25821851) Homepage Journal
    Great idea, but it needs some guidelines. Styling being the most obvious one (no I don't want to see how it looks using the custom skin you made that shows off several varieties of wood), but much more importantly is libraries. If you have a look through their "things needing screenshots" section, you'll notice that it's full of libs, many of which have no interface at all. That being the case, why are they there? Seems to me like all the data here needs some garbage collection and more rigid guidelines.
    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:26PM (#25821971) Journal

      Great idea, but it needs some guidelines.

      Yeah, guidelines like these [debian.net] would be great.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Those guidelines govern the screenshots themselves, not what does and does not warrant a screenshot.

        For instance... what possible reason would you want a screenshot for the 'linux-image' package?

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Wow, 800x600 resolution is pretty harsh. Nobody uses that as a desktop resolution anymore, so every screenshot will be resized, and harder to read. They really should try to support a decent resolution, 1024x768 at a bare minimum.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MasterOfMagic (151058)

          Or you could just take a screengrab of a single window. There are only two windows usually on my desktop larger than 800x600: my browser and a text editor.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            I almost always keep my windows maximized. Why waste all that screen real estate?

            If I need another application, that's what virtual desktops are for.

            • by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @04:32PM (#25823003) Homepage Journal

              Hard to enter information in on application that requires you to be examining the other application, if they arn't both on screen at once.

              Different kinds of work require different layouts.

              Also, just because you use your windows maximized, doesn't mean you can't dial that back to take a screenshot. If your widgets can't handle a resize, said application has some issues...

            • by kv9 (697238)

              I almost always keep my windows maximized. Why waste all that screen real estate?

              you're already wasting screen realestate by keeping your windows maximized, and time by shuffling them.

              • by Hatta (162192)

                How do you figure? With maximized windows, 100% of the desktop is in use by the application I'm using. If I tiled my windows, then some of my desktop would be used by an application I'm not using. That's wasteful.

                I don't spend an inordinate amount of time switching desktops. That's what hotkeys are for.

                • If I can read all the information in application A when it is only taking up a 3rd of my screen, then I still have 2/3 of my screen for other applications. If I maximize the same application to full screen, I have gained nothing, but lost spare space to display further applications.

                • With maximized windows, 100% of the desktop is in use by the application I'm using.

                  I'm not sure about the GP, but the problem with dedicating 100% to one window is that I am never 100% doing one thing.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by camperdave (969942)
                I've been thinking for a while now that what we need is a comic book style layout. As applications open windows, a new panel opens up, shrinking all the other windows so that every non-minimized window gets screen space with no overlapping. For example: One window would take the whole screen; two would split the screen and be side by side; three would be done as one on the left half, two splitting the right half, one on top, one below; etc. The panels would be resizeable and it should be easy to re-sequ
            • by richlv (778496)

              oh, finally somebody with my usage pattern :)
              i recently went from 1024x768 to 1600x1200. i had seen screenshots with people using tiled desktop with smaller resolution than my new one, so i expect myself to adapt to such a thing. nah. i still use windows maximised, because i rrrrreally want to reduce any scrolling.
              now, i see that sometimes making a small window always on top in some cases is easier to use than before... but still, maximised windows ftw :)

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Wow, 800x600 resolution is pretty harsh.

          It is, but the other way to look at it is whether applications should be able to work at 800x600, especially considering the Eee PC / MSI Wind / OLPC portables and their resolution requirements. Remember that this is more about using these screenshots in package managers like Synaptic and seeing a clickable thumbnail of what it'd look like. I'm a web designer and I understand the constraints of resolutions and GUI design, and this is going to make some applications

    • by Dwedit (232252) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:26PM (#25821977) Homepage

      On Windows, you can always make up a screenshot of any DLL file by opening it in Dependency Walker, and listing the functions exported by the DLL. I'm sure there has to be something similar for Linux.

      • even if you could post a picture representing a library, there seems to be little point. After all the idea of this picture repository is to give people a sense of what a program will look like before they decide to install it. In this case, installing a library by itself does nothing until a program is installed which actually uses it.
      • by kv9 (697238) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @04:50PM (#25823251) Homepage

        On Windows, you can always make up a screenshot of any DLL file by opening it in Dependency Walker, and listing the functions exported by the DLL. I'm sure there has to be something similar for Linux.

        man nm

        # nm /lib/libz.so
        0000cb88 A _DYNAMIC
        0000cc44 A _GLOBAL_OFFSET_TABLE_
        [...]
        00005f64 T zcalloc
        00005f88 T zcfree
        00005f28 T zlibVersion
        #

    • by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:27PM (#25821987) Journal

      True, but most of the open-source programs begin this way. Hackish and just working as the developers want it. After that you get feature enchancements and discussions about implementation of functionality. I expect that the lib picture problem is full resolved in a month or 3.

    • by StandardDeviant (122674) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:31PM (#25822077) Homepage Journal

      y
      y
      y
      y
      y
      y
      y
      y
      y
      y

      :)

    • I bet developers will now spend a little more time making the GUI look better (more pretty).
  • A killer feature? (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalderbs (718388) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:28PM (#25822015)
    This is a very good idea. I could see this being one of those new killer features to brings linux to more desktops. Integrating this into a package manager could really help new users see the (perceived) quality of some of the software projects available to them -- most people only see GUIs. Integrate a user comment/review section for individual programs, and it becomes even more accessible.

    I'm aware that this is already contained in a site like freshmeat, but the point would be to make a unified experience to the new/old user. Throw in bug submission, and it's even more useful. A single program to browse, view screenshots, review/comment and submit bugs for programs. You could even throw in a paypal donation, which either gets disbursed to everybody or specific projects. There's a lot that could be done, and this is one area that OSS really shines.
    • by thms (1339227)
      I'd also want integration of the tagging debian has added to each package into some sort of easily accessible GUI.

      The "Tag: devel::editor, implemented-in::c, interface::text-mode, role::program, scope::application, uitoolkit::ncurses, use::editing, works-with::text, works-with::unicode" information attached to the vim package in this case is only accessable via debtags on the commandline.
      Show a user a tag cloud with screenshots for specific programs and the wealth of 10k+ packages becomes much more acces
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Ick, tag clouds are ugly, and don't really belong with this kind of information

        Why not just provide a hierarchical list like sf.net does it?

    • by Cillian (1003268)
      And if we're going to go for the whole moon-on-a-stick. Unified bugs, donations, screenshots and installation/uninstallation of programs, all in one program, and the same frontend program available on all (well, most sane) distros, whichever backend package management they use. Maybe add something to individual package files so that 3rd party packages can also use these features, by having the magic program connect to the 3rd party developer's website or server. No idea about the practicality or implicat
      • Lots of projects have their own repositories because they update at a higher frequency than the distro updates. For example, Spring [clan-sy.com] has it's own repository. Once you add the repository via Synaptic (or whatever), it's packages are available and get updated right along with every other package. I'm guessing the Debian packages would include the screenshots, or have links to some place in a repository. No (good) reason 3rd party packagers wouldn't be able to do this.
    • Why do you want to add bug tracking/submission to this? That's what Sourceforge, etc. where the project is hosted and located is for. The last thing we need is _another_ place a bug could be hosted that the main developers have to keep track of.

      • Because bugs can be added/removed during the packaging process, so a bug report for, say ssh that was installed in from the Debian repo, would not necessarily apply to the upstream ssh.

    • I could see this being one of those new killer features to brings linux to more desktops. Integrating this into a package manager could really help new users see the (perceived) quality of some of the software projects available to them -- most people only see GUIs. Integrate a user comment/review section for individual programs, and it becomes even more accessible.

      Everything old is new again. CNR.com [cnr.com]

  • More Colab Please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295)
    Would have been really better if they had tried to gather some cross distro support, and host it somewhere other than *.debian.net. Especially as we are moving toward a package UI abstraction in the form of PackageKit.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:40PM (#25822231)

    Debian users can finally get an impression of how an application would like look before installing it.

    But what if I want to know what an application would look like, not how it will like look, after it will have been installed?

    • But what if I want to know what an application would look like, not how it will like look, after it will have been installed?

      I had to read that four times and each time it hurt my head even more.

    • by Joe Snipe (224958)

      Perhaps it was supposed to read: how it would, like, look.

    • by jmobley (463432)

      Oddly enough, I didn't even see this mistake the first time I read that sentence. That grammar is so bad my brains internal sed and awk processes must have made corrections in-line.

      Either that or I'm a closet dyslexic. :/

  • Screenshots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KasperMeerts (1305097) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:43PM (#25822277)
    Great idea, absolutely but is it really necessary? When I want to try out a package, I immediately just type the name into Google Images and get a good impression that way.
    But it's of course great for Linux-newbs to see it. It's probably more eyecandy than useful.
    • by pipatron (966506)
      Do you also just google for the debian package when you want to install it? After all, it will show up there anyway. You'll also get a list of the dependencies, so any apt isn't even necessary.
    • by Trogre (513942)

      Yes, I will. Why?

    • by bjourne (1034822)
      I don't think you realize the potential a site like this one can have for integration with package managers. Instead of going to google, you click on the package name and immediately see some representative screen shots of the program. The package manager can also add thumbnails to the list of packages so that you can at glance see if an application is console app, GNOME or KDE based.
  • I read on the site that someone integrated this into Synaptic, can't wait to try that out later.

    Also there's an image for Extreme Tux Racer but not Tux Racer. Boo.

  • What exactly does a screenshot of openldap-server look like?
  • This is a great idea. I've already uploaded 3 pages to it and I can't wait until I see screenshots in synaptic :)
  • mostly useless

    #!/usr/bin/perl

    my $package = shift;
    $package = lc($package);
    my $url = "http://screenshots.debian.net/screenshot/$package";
    exec 'xdg-open', "$url";
  • It's a different way to discover new applications. Sometimes you know what you're looking for is going to 'look' like. That's why your looking for it.
  • I had installed Debian for the first time just a few days ago on my Labtop. I was asking around in the irc suggesting that they Debian people spice up there website. With some screenshots and screencasts. Someone pointed out to me the website and I was like....Awesome. :)

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