Blah blah blah Linux blog clients blah blah blah

Edit: Unfortunately, these images are gone, because of image hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I’m appalled. No, I’m worse than appalled. I’m horrified, shocked, amazed, disgusted, insulted and flummoxed. Apparently — and as always, please tell me if I am wrong — but there is no blogging software for Linux that does not have ties to the Gnome horde.

Let me back up a little. A month or so ago, maybe less, WordPress.com rolled out some changes to the internal format of the site. This isn’t something you would really see as a visitor, but if you host your own site here, you’re probably more than aware of the format changes.

I don’t resent change, but I don’t like changes that require heftier software to get the job done. In my case, where I used to be able to blog from my rock-solid 550Mhz Arch laptop, the newer style is much more sluggish, much more graphically taxing, and because of the layout on an 800×600 screen … rather smushed. That’s the technical term.

So now you can see the need for a proper client, something to move the actual task of writing away from the blog host and back to a comfortable level of performance. After all, this isn’t rocket science.

(In fact, judging by the content of the blogs I read — Linux-related and not-Linux-related — it’s anything but rocket science. It’s mostly empty-headed noise. You think, you blab, you type, you click, and the world realizes you had nothing important to add in the first place. Then somebody puts your nothing on digg, and a bunch of teenagers stomp through your site leaving dirt and crud everywhere. And you have to clean up for months afterward because spammers are clever and always follow teenagers around the Internet. What’s the point in all that? I can only wonder.)

So the requirements for some sort of blogging interface are not that high, at least in my estimation. But looking over the short list of available blogging clients — and the list is extremely short — it seems like the best solution for a lightweight Linux blogging interface is not to use Linux at all.

Or let me rephrase that: Not use an interface at all, and instead rely on a browser to do the work. So far I’ve tried both Google Docs as a way of posting to WordPress, and ScribeFire, which are both mentioned as options here. When compared with Drivel, which appears to have been abandoned, or BloGTK, they’re both better options for my old laptop, if I want to continue using it as my weapon of choice. Which I do.

The problem with both, really, is clutter. ScribeFire, which I like a lot, relies too much on a left-right paneled layout for an 800×600 screen. Buttons are lost under the overlapping panels, and I have to shift those panels each time I try to manage the writing with the publication. Maybe if I was willing to sacrifice a little, and use a machine with a larger screen, it would work for me.

Google Docs is technically better, but not really intended for the purpose. It works at about the same speed as ScribeFire, so performance is not the issue.

Function is the issue this time; it’s mostly a word processor, not a blog interface. It will work, but really if I just want to write the thing, I can use Leafpad to do that. Not much lost in that.

And neither one is that much of an improvement over the WordPress.com backend. I still end up waiting out autosave pauses in Google Docs (but they’re much better than the second-and-a-half lag that happens with WordPress.com … and that at 1Ghz too :twisted: ), and ScribeFire’s layout just isn’t practical for 800×600. WordPress.com’s technological demands are high, but ScribeFire and Google Docs aren’t that much lighter. So on both counts, browser-based options don’t seem like … options.

But both are better than BloGTK or Drivel, which both have so many Gnome dependencies that I shudder at the thought of installing them. I’d love to try them, but there’s no way on heaven or earth I’d ever even consider downloading one. Just the idea is scary. :shock:

So I’m more or less back to where I started. I might consider using ScribeFire on my faster machine with the larger screen, but it’s sometimes out of commission or compiling or even running a game, and so I’d end up using another machine anyway. Maybe there’s something else out there, or maybe there’s an option to build something else without drawing in every Gnome package under the sun.

And maybe, just maybe, some aspiring programmer will look at the Linux software landscape and see the same hole, the one where a lightweight blogging client should be, and consider it as a project. It could happen, you know. :)

P.S.: Yes, I know there are one or two aimed at KDE, but to be honest, between Gnome and KDE, the demands don’t appear to be much different.

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21 Responses to “Blah blah blah Linux blog clients blah blah blah”


  1. 1 Dr Small 2008/12/25 at 12:24 PM

    Isn’t there an option in WordPress to post via email? I’ve never tried it, though.

  2. 2 K.Mandla 2008/12/25 at 12:36 PM

    If there is, this is the first I’ve heard of it. :|

  3. 3 eksith 2008/12/25 at 3:53 PM

    Blog by Email is what DrSmall is talking about. There’s an addon to extend those features called Postie, but these will only work if you install your own WordPress software. I don’t think they’re available for a hosted account.

    You may want to go with a platform indepndent software package. Sometimes those aren’t tied to GTK or KDE.

    I think the best bet, though are those Firefox plugins.
    There’s also a plugin for firefox that allows you to access your WordPress account.

    DeepestSender and Kaagla look really cool. And then there’s DashBlog for video blogging.

    I agree about the WordPress dashboard, BTW. Often times less is more…

    It’s probably best that there isn’t a “standalone” piece of software like that, tough. After all, if I’m going to install Openbox or Enlightenment or something similar, it makes no sense to go with bulky software afterward. I might as well keep things lean and just using something that’s already installed like a browser or email client.

    For a while, I was using plain HTML files to make my blog posts and upload via FTP. I only went with a software package because it got a little bulky.

    Then I went with Thingamablog, though that required Java. Thingamablog was doing the same thing I did, with plain HTML and FTP, except I didn’t have to format it or anything.
    But it was a bit limited in customization after publishing. It basically replaced the whole site if you changed the theme. That’s a lot of pages if you have many posts.
    And I wanted to allow feedback as well and that wasn’t possible without some form of scripting server-side.

    I went with WordPress after that because I didn’t want to worry about the software, upgrades, updates, licenses or any of that junk. I just picked a theme and started posting.

    It’s mostly empty-headed noise. You think, you blab, you type, you click, and the world realizes you had nothing important to add in the first place. Then somebody puts your nothing on digg, and a bunch of teenagers stomp through your site leaving dirt and crud everywhere.

    Welcome to the Blogosphere!
    Where 60% of content is repetition, 10% is nonsense, 29.9% is garbage and only 0.1% is actually interesting to read.

    But thank you for contributing to that last 0.1%.
    Keep up the good work! :D

  4. 4 Mark76 2008/12/25 at 5:51 PM

    Does the Ubuntu Synaptic Package Manager only list dependencies that aren’t already installed?

    Because I can only see five connected with blogtk there.

    And they’re all python

  5. 5 Nepherte 2008/12/25 at 8:09 PM

    Yup, I’ve seen that option to post via email as well. Never tried it though.

  6. 6 Spartan-webman 2008/12/25 at 10:31 PM

    You could use a text editor and write your own code, html, css, php whatever and then, there are no problems with resolution, computing power or anything …

    Cheers!

  7. 7 K.Mandla 2008/12/25 at 10:45 PM

    Mark76: Looking at the package search page for BloGTK, one of those is python-gnome2, which in turn draws everything I dislike. Some software gives you the option of building without certain dependencies, and if there’s a way to compile BloGTK that turns off that Gnome stuff, I would be more than willing to investigate. …

  8. 8 Mark76 2008/12/26 at 6:22 AM

    Yeah, the dependency list really should include sub dependencies.

    I know what you mean about Gnome. I try to have as few Gnome dependencies as possible, but sometimes they’re unavoidable (some apps, Abiword and Gnumeric for example, practically live on them).

  9. 9 urukrama 2008/12/26 at 8:00 AM

    I’ve been thinking the same thing.

    What I do now is type out my blog entry in plain html with a simple text editor, check the layout of the page (“did I forget to close an html bracket anywhere?”) in an ordinary light-weight browser, and then paste my post into the WordPress admin page. In this way, I rarely have to use the Worpress dashboard.

    But then I write a lot fewer posts than you do :-)

  10. 10 Andrew Min 2008/12/26 at 8:04 AM

    Try using Press It. It’s a bookmarklet for WordPress. It’s really meant for making a quick link to the current site, but it’s great for composing an article as well. It’s a stripped down WordPress composer that has all the features except keyboard shortcuts.

    It’s located at http://BLOGURL.COM/wp-admin/press-this.php. For example, mine’s at http://blog.andrewmin.com/wp-admin/press-this.php.

  11. 11 K.Mandla 2008/12/26 at 8:08 AM

    urukrama and Spartan-webman: You’re both right about writing the post outside the site’s editor. It would be nice if there were a way to keep the minor conveniences of the WordPress interface without enabling all the pointless effects and so forth. In other words, I’d like to have something that can handle links or code formatting, but not have all the rest of the gunk.

    Too bad you can’t turn off most of those effects. Even the autosave, which causes a terrible lag for me, can’t be disabled, if I understand it right. I looked for a way to turn it off but found none, and found a few forum posts that suggested the same.

  12. 12 eksith 2008/12/26 at 9:32 AM

    We should suggest to WordPress that they have a “lo-fi” version of the control panel.

    Just like the minimal versions you see in some disccussion boards like Invision Board, I think there should be a minimal version with barely any “stuff” on the screen other than what’s absolutely needed to manage the blog.

  13. 13 Dr Small 2008/12/27 at 7:49 AM

    What about java? I have seen several java blogging clients on Sourceforge, but I’m not sure how well you favor java. It may run sluggish on your system.

    Sourceforge does have alot of stuff on there. Try out their search engine :D

    http://sourceforge.net/search/?words=blogging+client&type_of_search=soft&pmode=0&words=blogger+client&Search=Search

  14. 14 K.Mandla 2008/12/27 at 8:09 AM

    Actually, that’s probably the best link thus far. Thanks for that …

  15. 15 JohnMc 2008/12/27 at 8:13 AM

    Since I have not seen anybody mention it, how about using Open Office + ICE + WordPress to do your posting.

    Info here.

  16. 16 K.Mandla 2008/12/27 at 10:39 PM

    Not a bad idea, except OpenOffice at 550Mhz is like having your head pressed through a bowl of mashed potatoes. :mrgreen:

  17. 17 Hanna 2008/12/28 at 6:08 AM

    Perhaps Vimblog (http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=2030), extension to Vim could work for you…?
    Or – another solution – It’s All Text (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4125) – Firefox addon…? You can set it to use your editor of choice…
    Anyway, wishing you and all Happy New 2009 Year,
    Hanna :)

  18. 18 eksith 2008/12/28 at 7:27 AM

    Then have you tried Saig Office?
    It isn’t terribly sophisticated, but it is specifically designed to run on low power systems without hiccups.

  19. 19 ikaruga 2009/01/30 at 5:11 AM

    What I do is use Textile + a regular text editor (my preferred is emacs). I’ll edit a post in the browser, then use a firefox plugin (AllText — I think) to fire up the editor. Textile is “human-friendly” markup language, so you don’t need a WYSIWIG editor. A simple text editor like LeafPad is good enough. However, this won’t work in your case, since you’re on wordpress.com.

    What about editing the HTML in something like Bluefish? It seems to me that the solution for you is to find a light-weight HTML editor — open the post for editing in the browser and then use a light weight HTML editor to edit the post offline.

  20. 20 johnraff 2009/08/05 at 2:52 PM

    It now looks quite easy to post to WordPress via email:
    http://support.wordpress.com/post-by-email/


  1. 1 Howto: Use Charm like a pro « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/01/20 at 1:27 PM

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