Sunday, February 22, 2015

lubuntu 14.04

I run Ubuntu, but I mostly stay away from Ubuntu spin-offs/derivatives, although I do like Kubuntu. I thought that Lubuntu might be a good choice for one of my spare computers, so I downloaded lubuntu-14.04.1-desktop-i386.iso (Lubuntu 14.04.2 is available for download as of February 22). Here's what the default desktop looks like from the live session, from a flash drive created with Unetbootin:



Lubuntu 14.04 is a Long Term Support (LTS) release. That means a 3-year support window, unlike Ubuntu 14.04 and (I think) Kubuntu 14.04, which will be supported for five years after being released. So my Lubuntu installation should be good for a couple more years.

Lubuntu ships with the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (more commonly known as LXDE), which runs on top of the Openbox window manager. They include a nice selection of apps: Firefox, PCManFM, Abiword, Gnumeric, Leafpad, Audacious, GNOME MPlayer, and more. Lubuntu uses the Ubuntu repos, of course, so all of that software is available as well.

Installation was so easy that for once I didn't even bother to type up installation notes. I added a handful of my favorite apps, including Chromium, SpaceFM, and Geany.

The default menu set-up was good, but I tweaked things to give myself an Openbox desktop right-click menu for quick access to a few frequently used apps. The panel, called LXPanel, seems easy enough to work with. One nice touch is that LXDE allows for different wallpapers on different desktops.

Overall, Lubuntu provides a simple, light-weight, "traditional" environment to operate in. LXDE has developed into a nice alternative to Xfce. Here are a couple more screenshots, taken after I got things installed and set up:




For more info, see: http://lubuntu.net/

LXDE fans might also want to take a look at LXLE, which some folks say is better than Lubuntu (LXLE is, however, based on Lubuntu): http://lxle.net/

Sunday, February 15, 2015

openbox shutdown

There are a few different approaches to take for rebooting or shutting down the computer when you're running Openbox. In the past, I've simply exited the window manager and then rebooted or shut down from the login screen. CrunchBang uses the Python script cb-exit; I decided to take a different approach in Debian Jessie.

First, I installed gxmessage from the Debian repos. Then I ran visudo (as root) and edited the /etc/sudoers file, adding the following lines to the end of the file:

# Cmnd alias specification
Cmnd_Alias      SHUTDOWN = /sbin/shutdown

# User privilege specification
steve ALL=SHUTDOWN
steve ALL=NOPASSWD: SHUTDOWN


Tested that with:

$ sudo shutdown -k now


Created ~/shutdown-script:

#!/bin/bash

gmessage "Shut down the computer?" -center -title "Take action" -font "Sans bold 10" -default "Cancel" -buttons "_Cancel":1,"_Log Out":2,"_Reboot":3,"_Shut Down":4 >/dev/null 

case $? in
1)
echo "Exit";;
2)
openbox --exit;;
3)
sudo shutdown -r now;;
4)
sudo shutdown -h now;;
esac


Made that executable. Added a Shut Down option to the Openbox menu that uses the command /home/steve/shutdown-script. Done.




See: Giving ordinary users root privileges, selectively at debian-administration.org and the "Allow users to shutdown computer from a window manager" thread at debianuserforums.org.

Also see: https://urukrama.wordpress.com/openbox-guide/#shutdown and https://urukrama.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/confirm-to-shut-down-reboot-or-log-out-in-openbox/

Saturday, February 14, 2015

plan b

Here, I'm running Debian, Arch, openSUSE, and Ubuntu (and I use GParted Live for partitioning). I don't think I'll ever cut that list down to only one distro, even though I mostly lean on Debian. Even if I did, I'd still have at least two installations of that one distro, with different DE/WM setups. Being able to do something like this is one of the benefits or being a Linux user.

I'm kinda staying away from distros with small dev teams, or one-man distros. I'm glad they're out there; they help to keep the Linux world fresh and new, and there are many times when one is really the best tool for the job. But you just can't count on 'em to be around over the long term, or to keep a fairly consistent focus over the years. If you use one, it's good to have some other distro to fall back on, for sure.

CrunchBang is only the latest of these types of distros to die out. It happens.

Ken Starks, in "When Linux Distros Are Abandoned":

"If you are going to rely upon a Linux distro, you would probably do yourself a favor by having a plan B yourself...

"We’ve learned that it’s prudent to build our house on rock and not sand..."


I agree with that approach. That's why Debian's my main distro, why I prefer well-documented distros that have been around for a long time, and why I keep using various distros, not just one.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

jessie kde-openbox

I downloaded debian-jessie-DI-rc1-i386-kde-CD-1.iso (about 641 MB) and replaced Wheezy Xfce with Jessie KDE on my "primary" computer. Here's a look at the default desktop:



And after setting a few things up, including a desktop right-click menu:



I don't use Konqueror a lot, but it's kinda cool how it can be used for file management and web browsing, at the same time!



Desktop effects work fine.



I also did some additional tweaking to my KDE desktop set-up:



I like that the inxi program is available right there in the repos.  I've added Openbox and a bunch of my favorite apps. I decided to go with KDE instead of Xfce on my main computer for a number of reasons; KDE gives you a beautiful desktop, great tools, and you get Dolphin (and Konqueror) instead of GNOME's Nautilus or Xfce's Thunar -- much better deal, in my opinion. I can switch over to Openbox when I'm in the mood for something lighter, and I've still got all of KDE underneath.






Konqueror's Services tab gives you the KDE Menu:




Friday, February 6, 2015

crunchbang, r.i.p.

Announcement of this distro's demise, here: "The end."

Sad to read this, although I wasn't surprised; this is how things tend to go with one-man projects in Linux.

Well, before this announcement came out, I had already replaced the Wheezy-based CrunchBang 11 ("Waldorf") with Debian Jessie (with only Openbox). I think that for my purposes, that would have been better than moving on to a Jessie-based release of CrunchBang, anyway. Still, it's always a sad day whenever a Linux distro dies -- especially, for me, one that's based on Debian Stable.

There's already been some talk of continuing on with a community-maintained version of CrunchBang. We'll see what happens.

Monday, January 26, 2015

opensuse, fluxbox, feh

I've been using xli to handle my desktop backgrounds in Fluxbox in openSUSE 13.2, mainly because I incorrectly thought that feh was not available from the openSUSE repos. However, I was running into a few issues with my random wallpaper script; I just couldn't get it to properly autostart when I logged into Fluxbox, even after trying a number of different approaches.

I found one approach that actually did work, in this Arch Linux forum thread. Referring to that, I edited the ~/.fluxbox/startup file, replacing the exec fluxbox line with fluxbox &, and adding code for the sleep function. The resulting startup file looked like this:

#!/bin/sh
#
# fluxbox startup-script:
#
# Lines starting with a '#' are ignored.

# Change your keymap:
xmodmap "/home/steve/.Xmodmap"

# Applications you want to run with fluxbox.
# MAKE SURE THAT APPS THAT KEEP RUNNING HAVE AN ''&'' AT THE END.
#
# unclutter -idle 2 &
# wmnd &
# wmsmixer -w &
# idesk &


# Start fluxbox.
# Because it is the last app you have to run it with ''exec'' before it.
# Jan 25 2015 - changed 'exec fluxbox' to 'fluxbox &'

fluxbox &
fbpid=$!

sleep 2
{
   # Applications you want to run after fluxbox has started
   # MAKE SURE THAT APPS THAT KEEP RUNNING HAVE AN & AT THE END.
    /home/steve/wallpaper-script1 &
   } &

wait $fbpid

# or if you want to keep a log:
# exec fluxbox -log "/home/steve/.fluxbox/log"


The only problem with that approach was that if I did a "Restart" from the Fluxbox menu, then Fluxbox, instead of using my random wallpaper script, would use whatever was stored in ~/.fluxbox/lastwallpaper -- and that was whatever wallpaper had last been set by the fbsetbg command.

Then I ran the the following command and took a look at the output:

steve[~]$ fbsetbg -i

display doesn't set the wallpaper properly. Transparency for fluxbox and apps like aterm and xchat won't work right with it. Consider installing feh, wmsetbg (from windowmaker) or Esetroot (from Eterm) and I'll use them instead.

So I went back to YaST and found that, indeed, feh was available for installation. Added that, then ran the above command again:

steve[~]$ fbsetbg -i

feh is a nice wallpapersetter. You won't have any problems.

That's what you're supposed to see. Good.

Still, feh was unable to load any of my wallpapers! If I tried to load a random image from my wallpapers directory, I was seeing this sort of thing:

steve[~]$ fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers
feh WARNING: /home/steve/wallpapers/hugerock.jpeg - No Imlib2 loader for that file format
feh ERROR: Unable to load image /home/steve/wallpapers/hugerock.jpeg
steve[~]$ fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers
feh WARNING: /home/steve/wallpapers/red_rocks_on_the_beach-wallpaper-1366x768.jpg - No Imlib2 loader for that file format
feh ERROR: Unable to load image /home/steve/wallpapers/red_rocks_on_the_beach-wallpaper-1366x768.jpg

So I tried using feh with the -U switch to see which wallpapers feh could actually load:

steve[~]$ feh -U /home/steve/wallpapers
steve[~]$

It couldn't load any of 'em. Drat.

From YaST I could see that imlib2-1 was installed, but imlib2 was not, so I installed imlib2 to see if that would help. This also installed imlib2-loaders and libid3tag0.

That fixed the problem!!!

So, I no longer needed my random wallpaper script at all. Instead, I simply added the following line to the ~/.fluxbox/init file:

session.screen0.rootCommand: fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers

Then, from the Fluxbox menu, I clicked Reconfigure, then Restart, and was presented with a new, random wallpaper. Logged out, then back into Fluxbox, and again was presented with a new, random wallpaper, as expected. Mark this one "Solved."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

rc 1

Debian Installer Jessie RC 1 release

Progress! I've used the Beta 2 installer a few times, and that worked out fine for me, but I'm thinking that I'll wait for the final Jessie release before replacing Wheezy on my "primary" computer.