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).