Wednesday, June 22, 2016

two community projects

MEPIS and CrunchBang were two great Linux distros. Each was, for the most part, a "one-man distro," and when their respective primary developers ultimately quit the projects, development effectively ceased.

However, each distro had a devoted (and, talented) group of community members who stepped up to the plate, resulting in MX Linux and BunsenLabs Linux, which are both mainly based on Debian Stable, as were their respective predecessors.

Here's how MX is described at the MX Linux page:

MX Linux (antiX MX) is a special version of antiX developed in full collaboration with the MEPIS Community, using the best tools and talents from each distro and including work and ideas originally created by Warren Woodford for his MEPIS project... Relying on the excellent upstream work by Linux, we deploy Xfce4 as Desktop Environment on top of a Debian Stable base...

And, from

BunsenLabs Linux is a distribution offering a light-weight and easily customizable Openbox desktop. The current release is Hydrogen, built on top of Debian Jessie. The project is a community continuation of CrunchBang Linux.

I have MX-15  "Fusion" (MX-15_x64.iso, about 985 MB) and BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" (bl-Hydrogen-amd64.iso, about 836 MB) installed in a dual-boot set-up on my "test" machine, an old Compaq Presario CQ57 notebook. I'll take a short look at both distros here.

MEPIS shipped only with KDE, but the MX folks went with Xfce. Here's a look at the default MX-15 desktop, from the live session:

I explored the MX-15 live session and posted about it back in January, in "a gem of a distro"; no need to repeat all that here.

Here are a few MX-15 screenshots taken after I installed the release (and tweaked a few things to my own tastes) last month:

BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" may not come quite as loaded with tools and goodies as MX-15, but the MX folks have been at it longer, and at this stage MX is the more polished distro, seems to me. That's completely understandable, and it's no knock on BunsenLabs, which actually seems to be put together quite well, from what I'm seeing so far. As was the case with CrunchBang, BunsenLabs ships with a pre-configured Openbox set-up. Here's a shot of the default BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" desktop:

Actually, with the first run there's a post-installation script that opens up in Terminator:

I decided to skip the post-installation script because I didn't think I needed it, but it can be run later with the following command:

$ bl-welcome

As pointed out above, BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" is basically Jessie with Openbox. Here's what's in /etc/apt/sources.list:

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

And there's this line in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/bunsen.list:

deb bunsen-hydrogen main

BunsenLabs uses sudo by default, which, as I recall, was how things were done with CrunchBang.

A short list of some the default apps I'm seeing:

- Iceweasel
- Geany text editor
- Thunar
- Terminator
- LibreOffice Writer (but not the rest of LibreOffice)
- Gnumeric
- Galculator
- Mirage
- xfce4-screenshooter and scrot
- VLC media player
- Conky
- tint2 panel
- Nitrogen (for handling wallpapers)
- obmenu for editing the Openbox menu
- Openbox Configuration Manager
- lxappearance
- GParted

The menu includes links to Debian documentation, the Debian Wiki, the Debian Handbook, etc., and also one for the Arch Wiki (!).

So far, I have made very few changes to the "Hydrogen" installation, as I'm quite comfortable with the defaults, for the most part. Firefox-ESR was added, and I set that as the default web browser instead of Iceweasel. I changed the cursor theme from DMZ-White to DMZ-Black, and increased the number of workspaces from two to three. By default, the screen locks when the screensaver comes on, forcing the user to enter the password to get back to the desktop, so after a bit of fumbling around I managed to stop the screen from locking by creating ~/.config/autostart and copying /etc/xdg/autostart/light-locker.desktop into it, then (in the new file) changing the Exec=light-locker line to Exec=light-locker --lock-after-screensaver=0. I had to reboot the system for that to take effect.

Otherwise, I've mostly stayed with the default set-up for now. Here's a look at the desktop, with a few apps running on Workspace 1 and the menu opened up on Workspace 2:

For more info, readers may want to check out Dedoimedo's review of MX-15 and DistroWatch's review of BunsenLabs "Hydrogen."

Saturday, May 7, 2016

a simple fix

Geeqie, one of my favorite image viewers for Linux:

Some may recall an image viewer from several years back, called GQview; Geeqie is a fork of that app. You can still find GQview in Arch AUR, but I don't think it's being maintained.

Running Geeqie, you can toggle back and forth to/from fullscreen mode by tapping the "f" key. However, I noticed that I couldn't get fullscreen mode to work in either LXDE or Openbox in Arch. I couldn't understand this, because it worked fine in Xfce on the same Arch installation.

When trying to go to fullscreen mode in LXDE or Openbox, I did get a second Geeqie icon on the panel, but that was it:

I started up Geeqie from the command line and tapped the "f" key to see what output I got:

From The Geeqie User Manual, section 10.3 ("Window Options"):

10.3.3.  Full Screen


Selects the location and position of the full screen window. 'Determined by window manager' will leave the window placement up to the window manager. 'Active screen' places the window on the same screen as the Geeqie main window. 'Active monitor' does the same, but limits the full screen window size to the monitor containing the main window [...]

So, I went into Geeqie's preferences, to the Windows tab; in the "Full screen" section, I changed "Location" from "Determined by Window Manager" to "Active screen":

Now, Geeqie's fullscreen mode works fine in Openbox. Command line output now looks like this:

fullscreen.c:301: Original vindow is not visible, enabling std. fullscreen mode

Problem solved. Hope this helps somebody.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

trying lxde in arch

I first set up this Arch installation with Xfce and the xdm-archlinux display manager. Decided later to add LXDE; and, I switched display managers, going with LightDM, which is nice for choosing from different desktop environments/window managers at login.

# pacman -S lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter
# systemctl -f enable lightdm.service

For info and instructions about display managers for Arch, man pages and the documentation at the Arch wiki prove essential.

To get a screenshot of the greeter screen, first I had to add xorg-server-xephyr:

# pacman -S xorg-server-xephyr

Then I used dm-tool to run start a nested display of the greeter screen, and took a screenshot of that:

$ dm-tool add-nested-seat --fullscreen

Alt-F4 gets you back to the desktop. Also, see dm-tool --help.

In Arch's default LXDE, I wasn't able to change the number of desktops/workspaces. The thing to note here is that not all options for configuring Openbox are available with the lxappearance-obconf plugin (and that obconf is needed to change the number of desktops in LXDE). So:

# pacman -S obconf

A clean look at how I've got the desktop set up at the moment:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

keeping curry's scoring in perspective

Golden State's Steph Curry is having another great year, but this season (his 7th in the NBA) will be only the first time he's led the league in scoring.

Number of scoring titles for NBA players not named Jordan or Chamberlain (three or more scoring titles):

Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) - 4
Allen Iverson (Sixers) - 4
George Gervin (Spurs) - 4
Bob McAdoo (Buffalo Braves) - 3
Neil Johnston (Philadelphia Warriors) - 3
George Mikan (Minneapolis Lakers) - 3

Very short list. Oh, and Michael Jordan led the NBA in scoring TEN times; Wilt Chamberlain did it 7 times.


Saturday, February 27, 2016


Former Duke Blue Devil Seth Curry, Steph's younger brother, scored a career high 19 points for Sacramento last night, against the Clippers. Hasn't been getting much playing time, finally got some minutes (about 25). How cool would it be if he could eventually elbow his way into a new Splash Brothers conversation?

Seth shot 5-9 from the field (including 3-4 3PT) and hit 6 of 7 free throws in about 26 minutes of court time. Not bad. The Kings should maybe give him some more minutes, see how things go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

fluxbox in leap

Added Fluxbox to openSUSE Leap 42.1 via the 1-Click Install (see (this added the X11:windowmanagers repo).

When I logged into Fluxbox, here's the desktop that I was presented with at first:

Not bad, actually. The desktop right-click menu didn't have much in it, but it did have a "Run Command" entry, which is enough to get to work. I'd saved my notes and files from my Fluxbox installation in openSUSE 13.2, so I used those to quickly set things up in 42.1.

I'm using the command fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers to pull random images from my ~/wallpapers directory. I added feh, then turned on transparency by changing the value of the following line in ~/.fluxbox/init from "false" to "true":

session.forcePseudoTransparency:    true

To get a black cursor for Fluxbox, I went to /etc/sysconfig/windowmanager and changed X_MOUSE_CURSOR="DMZ" to X_MOUSE_CURSOR="DMZ-Black", then rebooted for that to take effect.

Here's my ~/.fluxbox/menu file (I think all of these entries work):

# Version 0.1    08.04.2003 -
# Version 0.2   07.12.2004 -

[begin] (Fluxbox Menu)
    [exec] (firefox) {firefox}
    [exec] (spacefm) {spacefm}
    [exec] (konsole) {konsole}
    [exec] (geany) {geany}
    [include] (~/.fluxbox/menu.xdg)
    [submenu] (Tools)
       [exec] (chromium) {chromium}      
       [exec] (dolphin) {dolphin}
       [exec] (mirage) {mirage}
       [exec] (geeqie) {geeqie}
       [exec] (spectacle) {spectacle}
       [exec] (gwenview) {gwenview}
       [exec] (kcalc) {kcalc}
       [exec] (konqueror) {kfmclient openProfile filemanagement}
       [exec] (YaST) {/usr/bin/xdg-su -c /sbin/yast2}
        [submenu] (Fluxbox Configuration) {}
                [config] (Config)
                [workspaces] (Workspace)
                [submenu] (System-Styles) {Choose a style...}
                        [stylesdir] (/usr/share/fluxbox/styles)
        [submenu] (User-Styles) {Choose a style...}
                        [stylesdir] (~/.fluxbox/styles)
    [exec] (Run Command) {fbrun}

    [exec] (Random Wallpaper) {fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers}
    [exec] (Lock Screen) {xlock}
    [restart] (Restart) {}
    [exit] (Logout)

Tinkered some more with the settings, came up with this:

Very nice set-up.

finding the kde version number

Used to be that when I wanted to find the KDE version number, I'd just open a KDE app and click on "About KDE" under the Help menu.

Open up Konsole in Debian Jessie and go to Help > About KDE and you'll see the following window, which shows the KDE version number:

In KDE apps in openSUSE Leap 42.1, which uses Plasma 5, the About KDE window no longer shows the KDE version number:

So, forget Help > About KDE.

Anyway, there's KInfoCenter (Main Menu > Settings > KInfoCenter). In Debian Jessie:

And, KInfoCenter in openSUSE 42.1:

So, I'm running KDE 4.14.2 in Debian Jessie and KDE Plasma 5.4.3 in openSUSE Leap 42.1, and KInfoCenter is still the best GUI way to quickly find the version number in KDE.