Thursday, August 27, 2015

still not happening

Here's the deal: Back when I installed Ubuntu 14.04 last year, I also added GNOME Shell to it. Sometimes I log into Unity, other times I go with GNOME Shell.

In the GNOME Shell session, under System Settings > Brightness & Lock, I have "Dim screen to save power" checked, and "Turn screen off when inactive for:" is set to "10 minutes."

Yet, the screen never turns off. There's no problem in the Unity session -- the screen turns off after the time interval that I've set. But I can't get it to work under GNOME Shell. I've resorted to running the following commands:

$ xset +dpms
$ xset dpms 600

That'll make the screen turn off after 600 seconds (10 minutes) of inactivity. But I have to do that every time I start a new GNOME Shell session.

I haven't seen this issue with GNOME Shell in other distros, only in Ubuntu. I'm not sure if it has something to do with having GNOME Shell installed along with Unity, or if some other settings are messing things up, or if it's just a bug from Ubuntu.

I've actually given up on trying to find a fix. Next year when 16.04 comes out, I'll install GNOME Shell and see if the same thing happens.

Monday, August 3, 2015

simple panel

Playing around with fbpanel (for the first time in a long time!) in Openbox in Debian Jessie, I ended up with probably the simplest panel I've ever used. Placed at the upper left side of the screen, this panel contains time and date displays, a taskbar showing icons for running apps, a "show desktop" icon, a volume icon, and an icon for fbpanel's main menu.

I couldn't get fbpanel's pager to look nice in this configuration, so I decided to go without it. That works out fine because I can switch workspaces with the mouse wheel, with the cursor anywhere on the panel or on the empty desktop, and Openbox pops up a message showing me which desktop I've moved to.

A right-click on the empty desktop brings up my Openbox menu.

Here's a look at fbpanel's main menu:

If you install fbpanel in Debian Jessie, check to see if ~/.config/fbpanel/default has been created. If not, you can run the following, which creates the file from /usr/share/fbpanel/default:

$ fbpanel -p default

I edited ~/.config/fbpanel/default until I got a panel configuration that I liked, then added the following to ~/.config/openbox/autostart:

fbpanel &

For more info, see man fbpanel.

Might be time to switch back to fbpanel as my preferred panel for Openbox (I've been using tint2 for some time now).

Another look, after more tweaking:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

antiX installed

I downloaded antiX-15 and played around with the live session. I was impressed enough to decide to replace LMDE-2 (Cinnamon) with antiX-15 on one of my Compaq CQ57 notebooks. Overall, it's been a nice experience. The installation was so quick and easy that for once I didn't even bother to take notes. I've decided to use the "Space-Fluxbox" desktop for now. After a good amount of time spent tweaking, I settled on a set-up that works for me:

antiX's Control Centre is helpful for getting some things configured:

In some situations the user might prefer to just to edit config files directly:

So, now I have both antiX-15 and Lubuntu 14.04 LTS on this CQ57. Both are light-weight distros that do okay with the hardware.

antiX seems to have a lot more going on, from multiple desktop choices to the wealth of tools included by default to some of the creative configurations and ideas that make antiX so unique. I'd say that antiX would be best for folks with at least a moderate level of Linux experience.

Lubuntu, on the other hand, seems less complicated once installed; pretty much just Ubuntu with LXDE instead of Unity. But Lubuntu also seems a little less fun than antiX.

Many users will enable the Debian Testing repos and run antiX-15 as more of a rolling-release distro with newer software. I'll stick with the default set-up, with the Stable repos enabled; that should give me a problem-free installation for the next couple of years.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

good site for linux info

If you're looking for some useful information about Linux, you might want to check out the Easy Linux tips project. It focuses primarily on Ubuntu and Linux Mint, but there's quite a bit that will apply to other distros as well.

The website's author asks that users "configure your ad blocker to make an exception for this website," which I think is a fair request.

the latest from antiX

antiX-15 was released back around the end of June, but since I'm running several other distros (Debian, Arch, openSUSE, Ubuntu, LMDE, and Lubuntu) and I'm pretty happy with each of them, I really didn't give antiX-15 a second thought.

That is, until I watched this video from "dolphin_oracle": antiX-15 - What's New!

Well, as of this writing, I still haven't downloaded the iso and taken the release for a spin, but antiX-15 looks VERY interesting; I may have to look at in a live session, at the very least. If/when I do, I'll post a little more about it here.

For more info, check out the antiX Main Page, and especially the antiX-FAQ. You also might want to take a glance at the distro's DistroWatch page.

Friday, July 3, 2015

gnome shell help

Help for GNOME Shell desktop users:

The GNOME Help link on that page defaults to the current stable release of GNOME 3. Click the "Previous Versions" link for other choices. You can find which GNOME 3 version you're running by navigating to Settings > Details; you can also bring up the Applications Overview, begin typing "details," and click on "Details":

For example, I selected the 3.14.2 guide:

There, you'll find links to documentation covering many topics. For users who really want to become familiar with GNOME Shell, and with GNOME 3 in general, this is probably the first place to go. Dig around and read up; you'll find the visit well worth the time spent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

as stable as Stable?

Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 ("Betsy") and Debian Jessie (the current Debian Stable) differ in some important ways besides LMDE 2's quicker and easier installation and set-up. LMDE 2 is based on Jessie, but package updates are not handled the same as in Jessie.

The /etc/apt/sources.list file in LMDE 2 is essentially a blank document. The distro's official repositories are stored in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-package-repositories.list, which by default looks like this:

deb betsy main upstream import

deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free

deb jessie main non-free

deb betsy main

By contrast, my /etc/apt/sources.list file in Debian Jessie contains only the following lines:

deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free

I have no apt-pinning set up in my Jessie installation; the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ and /etc/apt/preferences.d/ directories are empty. LMDE 2 ships with the following files in /etc/apt/preferences.d/:

# /etc/apt/preferences.d/official-extra-repositories.pref

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: release o=LP-PPA-gwendal-lebihan-dev-cinnamon-nightly
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 700

# /etc/apt/preferences.d/official-package-repositories.pref

Package: *
Pin: release o=linuxmint
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian
Pin-Priority: 500

So, there's a lot more going on in LMDE 2 than just Debian Stable. Basically, Mint packages (pin-priority 700) have priority over the same packages from Debian (pin-priority 500). Also, Mint's Update Manager (you're supposed to use that for updating instead of Synaptic) is set to allow only "safe," Linux Mint approved updates, according to Mint's "Levels" system:

This is actually a nice set-up because with all of the special Mint packages included in LMDE 2, you want to feel sure that updates won't break anything. LMDE 2 isn't "straight" Debian Jessie, but the added precautions (which, in the past, I've labeled as "excessive hand-holding") should, in theory at least, make LMDE 2 about as "stable" as Debian Stable.