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 ), 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.
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.