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Re: Live Fedora start page proposal

First off, I'm glad to see this discussion starting now (well, earlier
would have been better, but as we all know, stuff happens... so let's
just see what we can come to here)

On Tue, 2007-08-28 at 10:07 -0400, Donald Fischer wrote:
> I work with the online desktop team at Red Hat.  I'd like to propose
> that starting with Fedora 8, the default browser start page be changed
> to a live web page centered on web search.

So, I don't think that I fundamentally disagree with the premise, but...

>  * More useful to users.  The vast majority of the time when Fedora
> users are launching a new browser, they're looking to do something on
> the web, not to read the operating system release notes.  Thus, we've
> proposed to put search front-and-center.

The current default page has quite a bit more than just the release
notes.  And I think that continuing to provide some of that high-profile
linking to community sites and documentation is important.  Yes, they're
in the toolbar, but the fact that they're in the page and with more
words than just "Planet Fedora?  What's a planet?" is pretty

That said, there's no reason we couldn't do that in the online page
which also has search.

> To try this out, there's only one small change required in the
> distribution itself, which is to swap the default URL in the browser
> configuration to http://start.fedoraproject.org.  This switch is a
> time-sensitive issue with respect to Test2, since we'd like to field
> this in at least one and ideally two test releases before deciding to
> release it in a final Fedora version.

Ignoring the above, yes, if we're going to switch to an online page, we
should get it in for test2.  And then we can tweak the content a bit.

>  * There is already a link to the release notes in the default browser
> bookmarks toolbar, which is visible by default, so the content
> previously on the start page is still just one click away.  We could
> explore featuring links to release notes or documentation in the start
> page itself, though keeping the start page simple and lightweight
> seems best (both for ease of use and performance reasons).

FWIW, the current index.html is like 7.5k.  So I think we can probably
have a little bit more than just a search entry and still have it be
simple and lightweight :)

>  * Internationalization of the hosted start page and search results
> pages is certainly doable, just as with the local release notes.

I think that this needs to be more than doable and really has to be a
requirement.  And that if we do it, we need to have that bit up and
running and testable with test3, if not earlier (the advantage of it
being hosted is that we can change it out more easily, right?)

>  * For users without Internet connectivity, we could do something
> fancy to avoid showing an error message, though that would be more
> than upstream Firefox does.  In fact we have prototyped modifications
> to Firefox to achieve this, but our conclusion was that the additional
> complexity is not justified.  Using a web browser without access to
> the web seems to be a corner case and one in which a warning message
> is appropriate!  In the offline case, local release notes would still
> be available from the default bookmarks toolbar.  Tuning offline
> behavior is an area that we could look at further in conjunction with
> the community.

While not as critical as internationalization, I do think we need to
handle this nicely.  While it might seem like a corner case, something
that continues to come up is starting the desktop with a browser already
running.  At which case, you didn't start a web browser, you just logged
in.  And for that, you want to be able to have a nice experience even if
the network isn't up.


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