Monday, 21 December 2009

xmessage, xdialog bye-bye

It looks as though xdialog is being dropped from the next Debian release. It has been dropped in Ubuntu as well; the last time xdialog was available there was in Jaunty.

I am using xdialog in at least one control panel item (the Users control), so this will need to be updated. There is no comparable utility in the repositories, the next-best alternatives being gxmessage and zenity. Neither of these have xdialog’s “wizard” feature, so unless I decide to recode these in e.g. Python, the next version of these panel items will be wizard-less.

I am also concerned that xmessage is depreciated. When I did a test upgrade to testing, xmessage no longer worked. I am guessing that first-gen GTK has been dropped entirely. I haven’t tried xmessage in Ubuntu Karmic (it works in Jaunty); I’ll update this post when I do.

I use xmessage is in the XDM beautifier stuff to display a help/power panel, and replacing this with gxmessage will not be trivial. The biggest problem with gxmessage is that you cannot tell it where to draw its window as you can with xmessage. Therefore, it will be difficult (impossible?) to place it in a corner as I do with the current login screen.

Alternatives include: finding a workaround to the gxmessage placement problem, a custom Python widget, moving to SLiM (which has a not-at-all intuitive way of handling power stuff), or biting the bullet and going with GDM (which may solve other problems as well, e.g., gksudo’s flaky first-time behavior).

  1. LM

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 18:47:16

    I’m wondering if Xdialog was removed from Debian because the default build option is for GTK+ 1.2. A lot of packages (such as wmfishtime) have been converted to GTK+ 2 or removed from Debian. There is a GTK+ 2 option for building Xdialog which appears to run just fine. Maybe if that option was used, it could be added back into the Debian repository. If not, one could always build from scratch and distribute using a technique like the app images at PortableLINUXApps.

  2. mithat

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 00:44:32

    @LM: You are right about the the reason that Xdialog was pulled. It is discussed in a bug report: http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=517390 :

    “Hi!

    Please remove xdialog; it’s an old gtk1.2 application; the experimental
    port to gtk2.0 is incomplete and buggy. The upstream developer is quite
    inactive.

    Alternatives for this exists, too.

    Best regards,
    Alexander”

    Alexander is the Debian maintainer. I’ve seen the “alternatives exists” statement applied to gtkdialog as well, but I have yet to figure out exactly what the maintainers consider as alternatives. gxmessage and zenity are great but aren’t fully alternatives to either xdialog or gtkdialog.

    Anyhoo, thanks for the heads up on th GTK+ 2 build option. I may give it a go and report back to Alexander if I (like you) don’t find it buggy.

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