OS X niceties in Linux: a second look
Being both a Linux and OS X user, I’m often left in one operating system wishing I had access to $convenient_feature in the other system. Two big OS X features that I miss in Fedora are Automator and Growl.
Yes, I know; a unified notification system has been implemented in GNOME (I think; I know it is in Ubuntu/Mint, but since I usually use Fedora and I usually use barebones Fluxbox, I can’t really say if it’s in Fedora yet). I’ll go ahead and complain, though, that it isn’t as extensive as Growl is. All I’ve seen it do is brightness and volume. I’ve read a tutorial on how to easily implement notifications in applications though, so perhaps it’ll just take a bit of time for applications to jump on the bandwagon.
The other feature, Automator, is something that, as far as I know, certainly is far off. There is a tool called GNU Xnee which has X11 macro recording capabilities, but the capacities are nowhere close to what’s available in OS X’s Automator, because it can’t harness specific application functions or easily pipe I/O. In my opinion, this is more than another centralization issue; the most popular OS X apps are from Apple, so they all have great Automator support… but non-Apple applications like Growl, Quicksilver, Fetch, and the Microsoft Office 2008 suite also have hooks in Automator, so I imagine Apple has made it easy to interface with.
Do I really need Automator in Linux? Not really, no. I have this much better thing called the command line. But as I rewrite the Fedora Desktop Guide (more on that later) I think more and more about new users who have little experience with scripting. There are GUI programming tools to teach concepts to newcomers, but I think something that actually has practical purpose would be more useful for a beginner who wants to harness the power of Linux. Besides, in the age of the graphical desktop, I think being able to pipe I/O between applications should be nearly as easy in a graphical fashion as it is on the command line… if slightly less powerful.
Enough ranting. Just finished a Perl script to run 300ish Monte Carlo simulations for me while I’m asleep. Time for bed.
PS: This post is a “second look” because I already discussed Automator-ish functionality in the comments of a previous post.