Friday, August 18, 2017


Atlantic article:

What Kind of Monuments Does President Trump Value?

"He’s spoken in support of Confederate statues while threatening to undo as many as 40 conservation parks."

"...the excitement with which the president defends one kind of monument, while undermining another, does raise the question: What kind of history does the president value? What does it look like when history is destroyed? And what kinds of beauty and culture can be truly lost—what treasures of the United States can, once removed, never by human hands be comparably replaced?"


Sunday, August 13, 2017

42.3 review

A nicely done review of openSUSE "Leap" 42.3 at DistroWatch, by Joshua Allen Holm:

the latest gparted live

I wrote about GParted Live a few years back in "for partitioning" (January 25, 2015). That was version 0.20.2, and I used Unetbootin to put it on a flash drive. For the current version, I downloaded gparted-live-0.29.0-1-amd64.iso (released August 8, 2017) and used the following dd command to put it on my flash drive:

$ sudo dd if=/home/steve/Downloads/gparted-live-0.29.0-1-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M; sync

Partitioning hard drives is about the only thing I ever use GParted Live for, and that's its main purpose. The system boots up, and GParted is started automatically:

GParted uses the Fluxbox window manager. Here's a shot of the empty desktop:

GParted Live ships with other tools besides GParted, including:

PCManFM 1.2.5
NetSurf 3.6
LXTerminal 0.3.0
GSmartControl 1.0.1
Partition Image 0.6.9

NetSurf didn't work for me out of the box, so I didn't concern myself with it:

I don't know why the Calcoo calculator is included, but it's pretty cool:

The lower-level tool xcalc is also available, for those who want something simpler.

GSmartControl, as described here, "is a graphical user interface for
smartctl (from smartmontools package), which is a tool for querying and controlling SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) data on modern hard disk and solid-state drives. It allows you to inspect the drive's SMART data to determine its health, as well as run various tests on it."

Here's a shot:

Tools that don't appear in the Fluxbox menu can be found by examining the /usr/bin and /usr/share/applications directories. Some included command-line utilities:

fsarchiver      - File system archiver and restorer
partclone       - Backup partitions into a compressed image file (e.g., partclone.ext4)
partimage       - Backup partitions into a compressed image file
testdisk        - Data recovery tool that can help recover lost partitions
gpart   - (Older) data recovery tool that can help recover lost msdos partition tables
grub    - GRand Unified Bootloader for restoring GRUB 2 boot loader
mc      - Text based file manager known as Midnight Commander
nano    - Text editor
vim-tiny        - Enhanced vi text editor
parted  - Partition table editor
fdisk   - MSDOS partition table editor
sfdisk  - MSDOS partition table editor also useful to save/restore partition table to/from a file
gdisk   - GPT partition table editor
sgdisk  - GPT partition table editor also useful to save/restore partition table to/from a file
gptsync         - GPT and MSDOS partition tables synchronization tool useful for Mac OS X users
openssh         - Secure shell (ssh) connectivity tool suite
screen  - Screen manager with VT100/ANSI terminal emulation
ping    - Check network connectivity to another host on a network
rsync   - Fast, versatile, remote (and local) file-copying tool
telnet  - Communicate with another host using the TELNET protocol
traceroute      - Print the route packets trace to network host
bc      - Arbitrary precision calculator language

So, GParted Live can be used for a lot of things. While partitions on a hard drive or flash drive are not, by default, automatically mounted and accessible from GParted Live, I was able to access my hard drives, as well as another flash drive, by creating a mount point and then mounting the partition. I think I had to use sudo, but it didn't prompt me for a password. To get access to my drive's sda6 partition, for example, I used the following commands (after taking a look at the output from the lsblk command):

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/sda6
$ sudo mount /dev/sda6 /mnt/sda6

I used a similar routine to mount and access a flash drive (at /dev/sdc).

GParted Live's repository files are at /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/drbl-repository.list. As you can see below, GParted Live is based on Debian Sid. The contents of the sources.list file:

deb sid main non-free
deb-src sid main non-free

And, the contents of the drbl-repository.list file:

deb drbl unstable live-unstable
deb-src drbl unstable live-unstable

For download links and (much) more information, visit:

Also, see the GParted Live page at DistroWatch:

Monday, July 31, 2017

diggin' some fluxbox!

After installing Fluxbox in Debian Stretch, it might look like the default setup isn't much to work with, and the first impulse might be to go online to look for help. However, I found that apt-get install fluxbox brought in most of what I needed to get going, including great documentation.

If you can't find the app you're looking for in the default Fluxbox menu, commands can be run by opening up fbrun with the Alt+F2 keystroke.

Fluxbox comes with a bunch of fairly easy text files that can be used to modify just about anything. The key to Fluxbox, I think, is reading the documentation that Fluxbox comes with -- examine the default Fluxbox files, and definitely read the man pages.

I found the default Fluxbox files in the /etc/X11/fluxbox directory. Default Fluxbox styles are at /usr/share/fluxbox/styles. The idea is to copy default files into the ~/.fluxbox directory, then edit as desired.

For a little help and info, run:

$ fluxbox -h
$ fluxbox -info

man pages:
See man fluxbox as well as these other man pages: fluxbox-apps(5) fluxbox-keys(5) fluxbox-style(5) fluxbox-menu(5) fluxbox-remote(1) fbsetroot(1) fbsetbg(1) fbrun(1) startfluxbox(1)

Users should be sure to check out the ~/.fluxbox/keys file, to see what can be done on the Fluxbox desktop with the keyboard and mouse. This is important! See man fluxbox-keys for more info about using the keys file. My current ~/.fluxbox/keys file (Mod1 = Alt; Mod4 = Super):

# click on the desktop to get menus
OnDesktop Mouse1 :HideMenus
OnDesktop Mouse2 :WorkspaceMenu
OnDesktop Mouse3 :RootMenu

# scroll on the desktop to change workspaces
OnDesktop Mouse4 :PrevWorkspace
OnDesktop Mouse5 :NextWorkspace

# scroll on the toolbar to change current window
OnToolbar Mouse4 :PrevWindow {static groups} (iconhidden=no)
OnToolbar Mouse5 :NextWindow {static groups} (iconhidden=no)

#added by steve - middle click on the toolbar to open root menu
OnToolbar Mouse2 :RootMenu

# alt + left/right click to move/resize a window
OnWindow Mod1 Mouse1 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {StartMoving}
OnWindowBorder Move1 :StartMoving

OnWindow Mod1 Mouse3 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {StartResizing NearestCorner}
OnLeftGrip Move1 :StartResizing bottomleft
OnRightGrip Move1 :StartResizing bottomright

# alt + middle click to lower the window
OnWindow Mod1 Mouse2 :Lower

# control-click a window's titlebar and drag to attach windows
OnTitlebar Control Mouse1 :StartTabbing

# double click on the titlebar to shade
OnTitlebar Double Mouse1 :Shade

# left click on the titlebar to move the window
OnTitlebar Mouse1 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {ActivateTab}
OnTitlebar Move1  :StartMoving

# middle click on the titlebar to lower
OnTitlebar Mouse2 :Lower

# right click on the titlebar for a menu of options
OnTitlebar Mouse3 :WindowMenu

# alt-tab
Mod1 Tab :NextWindow {groups} (workspace=[current])
Mod1 Shift Tab :PrevWindow {groups} (workspace=[current])

# cycle through tabs in the current window
Mod4 Tab :NextTab
Mod4 Shift Tab :PrevTab

# go to a specific tab in the current window
Mod4 1 :Tab 1
Mod4 2 :Tab 2
Mod4 3 :Tab 3
Mod4 4 :Tab 4
Mod4 5 :Tab 5
Mod4 6 :Tab 6
Mod4 7 :Tab 7
Mod4 8 :Tab 8
Mod4 9 :Tab 9

# open a terminal
Mod1 F1 :Exec x-terminal-emulator

# open a dialog to run programs
Mod1 F2 :Exec fbrun

# volume settings, using common keycodes
# if these don't work, use xev to find out your real keycodes
176 :Exec amixer sset Master,0 1+
174 :Exec amixer sset Master,0 1-
160 :Exec amixer sset Master,0 toggle

# current window commands
Mod1 F4 :Close
Mod1 F5 :Kill
Mod1 F9 :Minimize
Mod1 F10 :Maximize
Mod1 F11 :Fullscreen

# open the window menu
Mod1 space :WindowMenu

# exit fluxbox
Control Mod1 Delete :Exit

# change to previous/next workspace
Control Mod1 Left :PrevWorkspace
Control Mod1 Right :NextWorkspace

# send the current window to previous/next workspace
Mod4 Left :SendToPrevWorkspace
Mod4 Right :SendToNextWorkspace

# send the current window and follow it to previous/next workspace
Control Mod4 Left :TakeToPrevWorkspace
Control Mod4 Right :TakeToNextWorkspace

# change to a specific workspace
Control F1 :Workspace 1
Control F2 :Workspace 2
Control F3 :Workspace 3
Control F4 :Workspace 4
Control F5 :Workspace 5
Control F6 :Workspace 6
Control F7 :Workspace 7
Control F8 :Workspace 8
Control F9 :Workspace 9
Control F10 :Workspace 10
Control F11 :Workspace 11
Control F12 :Workspace 12

# send the current window to a specific workspace
Mod4 F1 :SendToWorkspace 1
Mod4 F2 :SendToWorkspace 2
Mod4 F3 :SendToWorkspace 3
Mod4 F4 :SendToWorkspace 4
Mod4 F5 :SendToWorkspace 5
Mod4 F6 :SendToWorkspace 6
Mod4 F7 :SendToWorkspace 7
Mod4 F8 :SendToWorkspace 8
Mod4 F9 :SendToWorkspace 9
Mod4 F10 :SendToWorkspace 10
Mod4 F11 :SendToWorkspace 11
Mod4 F12 :SendToWorkspace 12

# send the current window and change to a specific workspace
Control Mod4 F1 :TakeToWorkspace 1
Control Mod4 F2 :TakeToWorkspace 2
Control Mod4 F3 :TakeToWorkspace 3
Control Mod4 F4 :TakeToWorkspace 4
Control Mod4 F5 :TakeToWorkspace 5
Control Mod4 F6 :TakeToWorkspace 6
Control Mod4 F7 :TakeToWorkspace 7
Control Mod4 F8 :TakeToWorkspace 8
Control Mod4 F9 :TakeToWorkspace 9
Control Mod4 F10 :TakeToWorkspace 10
Control Mod4 F11 :TakeToWorkspace 11
Control Mod4 F12 :TakeToWorkspace 12

Lately, I've been much more interested in Openbox than in Fluxbox, but I've gained a new appreciation for Fluxbox after installing it in Stretch and getting it set up to suit my tastes. It's super-customizable, it includes lots of great features for navigating and manipulating the desktop, and it's a pleasure to use for just plain getting work done.

Fluxbox is at version 1.3.5 in Debian 9 ("Stretch"), but the latest version (currently 1.3.7) can be found at or at


Sunday, July 30, 2017

a tweak here, a tweak there

Another look at my Fluxbox setup in Debian Stretch, this time with a top panel -- "toolbar" in Fluxbox-speak -- set to 100% width, and a revised menu:

In the ~/.fluxbox/init file, I'm using the following line for the toolbar:    RootMenu, workspacename, prevworkspace, nextworkspace, iconbar, systemtray, clock

The "RootMenu" part puts a right-arrow button on the toolbar; clicking on that opens the Fluxbox menu (which can also, of course, be opened with a right-click on the empty desktop).

Saturday, July 29, 2017

adding fluxbox in stretch

I installed Debian Stretch on an old notebook a few months ago; for this installation, I went with the Openbox window manager, but no desktop environment.

Later, I decided to add Fluxbox.

The default Fluxbox desktop in Stretch:

The default menu wasn't all that great, but it included an entry for gmrun, which was enough for me to get to work.

Here's how my Fluxbox desktop is looking right now:

Not too bad.

By the way, there's a project (still under development) called DebianFluxbox, which is "a Debian Pure Blend which aims to provide a fully configured installation of Fluxbox, a light weight windows manager, out of the box." Interesting; I'd like to check it out sometime.

Monday, July 10, 2017

time and date in plasma 5

KDE Plasma 5 (version 5.8.6 in Debian 9) is still kinda lacking when it comes to being able to customize the date and time formats, but the "Formats" window in the System Settings Module does help somewhat.

I prefer to have a 24-hour digital clock, and I like a mm-dd-yy date format. Or even something like  Jul 07 17 or Jul 07  -- either one would be fine with me. I can easily do these things in Xfce, but not in Plasma 5.

Getting the 24-hour digital clock was fairly simple; I marked the "Detailed Settings" box; then, changed the setting for "Time" to "Default (C)":

Then I clicked the "Apply" button. I had to log into a new session for the changes to take effect.

Note the "Examples" towards the bottom of the "Formats" window. The "short format" for the date is not exactly what I want. The "short format" is what shows up for the date on the panel; I saw no easy way to customize it to my liking, so in the end I decided to leave the date off the panel. I guess I can live with seeing the date when the cursor is hovering over the digital clock: