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: https://help.gnome.org/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 http://packages.linuxmint.com betsy main upstream import

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian jessie main contrib non-free
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org jessie/updates main contrib non-free

deb http://www.deb-multimedia.org jessie main non-free

deb http://extra.linuxmint.com betsy main


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

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian jessie main contrib non-free
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org 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 build.linuxmint.com
Pin-Priority: 700

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

Package: *
Pin: origin download.virtualbox.org
Pin-Priority: 700


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

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

Package: *
Pin: origin packages.linuxmint.com
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.

not quite good enough

The Cinnamon desktop leaves me feeling a bit disappointed. I have it installed in Debian Jessie, and I also have an installation of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE 2) with Cinnamon.

Cinnamon's set-up includes a more "traditional" panel than GNOME Shell's, but still I can't do everything with it that I'd like to do. It isn't as configurable as Xfce's panel. I can't adjust the width so that the panel doesn't stretch 100% across the screen. Icons on the panel for running apps show icons plus text when I'd prefer icons-only.

I don't see how to show icons for apps running on all workspaces rather than only the active workspace. Because of that, when I've got apps running on multiple workspaces, it's actually easier for me to get around the desktop by bringing up the Expo view (using the upper-left hot corner) than by using the workspace switcher and the icons on the panel.

Expo would be about the same as using GNOME Shell's Activities overview, except the Expo view doesn't give me access to other applications like the Activities overview does.

With Cinnamon, some of the advantages of having a "traditional" panel are therefore lost. Cinnamon's is a better panel than GNOME Shell's, but since it still doesn't give me enough of what I'd want in a panel, I feel like I might as well be running GNOME Shell (which I'm quite comfortable using) instead. At any rate, GNOME Shell's Activities overview eliminates the need for some panel items like an application menu, application launchers, workspace switcher, and panel icons showing running apps -- for me, at least.

What I see in Cinnamon is a panel that isn't as good as several others you'd find in Linux, and an overview (Expo) that isn't as good as GNOME Shell's Activities overview.

I must say that one of the nicest things about Cinnamon is the Nemo file manager, which I like much better than GNOME's Files (aka Nautilus). However, I use SpaceFM almost all the time, anyway, so the default file manager is kinda irrelevant to me. Also, Cinnamon's main menu is pretty nice, although I wish I could access it with a right-click on the desktop.

I've been playing around with LXDE in Lubuntu 14.04. For me, LXDE has the edge over Cinnamon. I can do what I want with the LXDE panel; mine is sized to 85% width, the icons for running apps are icons-only, and the panel shows all icons from all workspaces. I can set-up Openbox's desktop right-click menu -- can't do anything like that with Cinnamon OR with GNOME Shell. The mouse's scroll-wheel, with the cursor on the open desktop, takes me to another workspace; that's another thing that doesn't happen in Cinnamon. And LXDE lets me have different backgrounds on different workspaces. There are no hot spots and no overview so navigating the desktop must be done in the more traditional manner, with panel icons and workspace switching, but that's fine with me as long as everything can be set up to my liking.

Mint fans won't like me saying this, but I feel that my workflow is actually better when I'm using either GNOME Shell or LXDE than when I'm using Cinnamon. However, with each DE/WM I've used, I've always become much more comfortable with it over time, and already I feel the same thing happening with Cinnamon. Anyway, to each her/his own; many people with have far more complaints about GNOME Shell than I have with Cinnamon. Often, the "best" environment is the one you're most used to, and the one that you don't like as much is the one that you're not (yet) quite good enough at using.

Monday, May 25, 2015

two superstars

After Golden State and Cleveland finish cleaning up in their respective conference finals (the Warriors lead Houston 3-0; the Cavs, same thing over Atlanta), we'll have the pleasure of watching (arguably) the NBA's two best players in The Finals.

Golden State's Stephen Curry, playoff per game numbers so far (13 games): 29.9 points, 6.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 47.5 FG%, 44.8 3PT%, 82.4 FT%.

Cleveland's LeBron James, playoff per game numbers so far (13 games): 27.9 points, 8.4 assists, 10.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.3 blocks, 42.4 FG%, 16.1 3PT%, 78.1 FT%.

LeBron's shooting hasn't been good. But the team he's about to lead into The Finals is hit hard by injuries, missing both forward Kevin Love and guard Kyrie Irving. Take that same team and replace LeBron with any other player in the game and you won't still be playing come June. Also, he's averaging close to a triple-double (points, assists, rebounds) for the playoffs. Impressive effort.

Steph has been spectacular shooting the ball. The talented son of former NBA star Dell Curry has a chance to add a Finals MVP award to the one he just picked up for the 2014-15 regular season. He's become the most popular basketball player in the country, it seems. And, possibly, the most dangerous.

The Warriors appear to have the better team, and the best shooter in the game. The Cavs... Well, the oft-repeated theme these days is that the Cavs have the best player in the world, which is probably true. My guess: Golden State in six. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

no vote

This week's DistroWatch Weekly includes their "first weekly opinion poll," where readers can vote on their "Favourite Desktop." The choices:

- Cinnamon
- Enlightenment
- GNOME Shell
- KDE
- LXDE
- MATE
- Unity
- Xfce
- Other

This list didn't include any "window managers" -- if you prefer only Openbox or Fluxbox or AwesomeWM or Window Maker, etc., your vote gets lumped under "Other."

I'm writing this from Fluxbox in openSUSE, but Fluxbox is only one of several environments I regularly use. I have each of the following DEs/WMs installed somewhere on at least one of my systems: Cinnamon, Fluxbox, GNOME Shell, KDE, Openbox, LXDE, Unity, and Xfce. The laptop that I call my "primary" computer was running Xfce in Debian Wheezy until recently; now it's running KDE in Debian Jessie, with Openbox added.

I don't have a favorite; there are things that I like about each environment, and I'm quite comfortable using any of them. So, I'll pass on casting a vote in this week's poll.