Thursday, January 18, 2018

back to the 'buntu world

I kinda gave up on Ubuntu this past summer, feeling that I'd finally had enough of Canonical's relationship with Amazon, and of having Amazon stuff on my computer. Whatever. Ubuntu, anyway, is a great distro (with great repositories!), and most of the Ubuntu "flavors" or derivatives I've tried (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Linux Mint, etc.) have been, in some ways, better than the parent. The Ubuntu repos, which (as I understand) draw a lot of packages from the Debian Sid repos, turn out to be great for other distros to use as a base.

With all that in mind, I'd been considering adding one of the 'Buntu derivatives to my lineup. Yesterday, I downloaded Kubuntu 17.10.1 ("Artful Aardvark") and tested out the live session. A couple of shots:

Kubuntu 17,10 ships with KDE Plasma 5.10.5, Firefox 57, LibreOffice, VLC media player, and the great KDE apps and tools we've come to know and love.

Here's a shot of my empty desktop, after a good amount of tweaking:

With the application menu opened up and the cursor highlighting Synaptic on the Favorites bar:

My desktop right-click and left-click menus, respectively:

The Discover Software Center -- the user could get lost for hours digging around in here:

Kubuntu also ships with the Muon Package Manager:

I don't know if Muon is any better than Synaptic, which is available in the repos:

My Compaq Presario CQ56 notebook has kinda weak specs; I've turned off most of KDE Plasma's special effects, and Artful performs well, but with a few minor graphical glitches that I haven't yet figured out how to fix.

I've used Kubuntu off and on over the years; it is never perfect, but it's always something I can work with. After some tweaking, I always seem to end up with a solid, dependable system. As I mentioned above, 17.10 ships with an excellent collection of apps and tools; I added a few more, and I think that the end result gives me a great Plasma setup to work with over the next several months. Looking forward to the LTS release!

Monday, January 15, 2018

nineteen sixty-four

I listened to this today, on public radio, KUNM in Albuquerque:

"Newly Discovered 1964 MLK Speech on Civil Rights, Segregation & Apartheid South Africa"

Great speech! London, December 7, 1964. Follow the link above for video from Democracy Now!, with audio of the speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, and also the transcript of the show.

Host Amy Goodman:

In 1964, Dr. King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Days before he received that award in Oslo, Norway, Dr. King traveled to London. On December 7th, 1964, Dr. King gave a speech sponsored by the British group Christian Action about the civil rights struggle in the United States, as well as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. The speech was recorded by Saul Bernstein, who was working as the European correspondent for Pacifica Radio. Bernstein’s recording was recently discovered by Brian DeShazor, director of the Pacifica Radio Archives.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

impressive, polished release

Dedoimedo's very positive review of the excellent MX-17 ("Horizon") release:

"MX Linux MX-17 Horizon - Shaping up beautifully"

january shots

A couple of wintry views of my Openbox setup in SalentOS 2.0 ("Neriton"):

trying neofetch

It seems that there's some kind of bug that causes a weird conflict between gnome-terminal and screenfetch. Before I realized that the problem had anything to do with screenfetch, I mentioned it in "gnome-terminal work-around". It turns out that with screenfetch being used, gnome-terminal might run okay at first, but it won't start up again after it has been closed, except maybe following a reboot.

My workaround was to use the dbus-launch gnome-terminal command instead of the gnome-terminal command. Another workaround: Edit /usr/bin/screenfetch, commenting out the following lines:


However, I decided to try something else. I installed neofetch to use instead of screenfetch. Looks like neofetch doesn't conflict with gnome-terminal and might be a better option anyway.

neofetch gave me a configuration file at ~/.config/neofetch/config, making it fairly easy to tweak some of the output. See:

Monday, January 8, 2018

another nice openbox distro

As I'm still waiting for the Stretch-based release of BunsenLabs to come out, I decided to take a look at SalentOS, another little-known Debian Stable-based distro that uses Openbox for the default desktop setup. Here's a shot of the SalentOS 2.0 ("Neriton") live session:

SalentOS 2.0 was released in November, and is based on Debian Stretch. The live session booted quickly and came with a nice set of useful tools, including GParted. The installer looks like the Debian installer, slightly modified. Installation was quick and easy. I found that the sources.list file contained one line for the "SalentOS Official Repository," to go along with the lines for the Stretch repos.

Among the tools that "Neriton" shipped with: Firefox ESR, Thunderbird, Transmission, Thunar, Mousepad, Nitrogen, gnome-calculator, GParted, the LibreOffice suite, the LiveUSB Install tool, lxterminal, Screenshot (GNOME), Synaptic, the tint2 panel, VLC, lxtask, and inxi. Seems to make for a nice mix of LXDE, Xfce, and GNOME elements, along with other open source tools, blended into the Openbox setup.

SalentOS includes the Yanima wallpaper changer, (apparently) created for the distro by SalentOS community members. I found the shell script for it at /usr/local/bin/yanima. The name comes from "Yet Another NItrogen MAnager." Works nicely.

I decided, of course, to tweak the Openbox setup. I replaced the tint2 panel and dock with a vertical tint2 panel along the left side of the screen. I added a few apps, like Pale Moon web browser, Midnight Commander, Double Commander, and Geany, and customized the Openbox menu a little bit. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Applications section of the menu dynamically added entries for all of the newly installed apps.

I'm a long-time fan of distros based on Debian Stable. SalentOS 2.0 ranks up there with the best of any of them, both for live sessions and for installed systems. I'll keep it in a dual-boot setup with BunsenLabs on one of my old notebooks.

At DistroWatch:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

depends on how you're looking at it

From Dedoimedo's conclusion in his review of BunsenLabs Deuterium:

...BunsenLabs Deuterium gives us a lightweight setup, it truly is that, but on any moderately decent hardware, the advantage goes away, and in its place, you get the horrible ergonomics of Openbox, which is simply not suited for any reasonable, modern work.

Hardware support is mediocre, the installation process is quirky, it's very hard to customize the desktop, network support is average, and in the end, you need to invest energy to achieve something you get out of the box with any other desktop environment. There's really no justifiable reason for that. Perhaps Deuterium will appeal to a small base of users, who want the flexibility and simplicity of Openbox, but for the vast majority of people, it's a hassle.

So much in fact that I gave up. There wasn't anything cardinally wrong with the distro. But it's like walking into a store, seeing something, and then you move on, because there was no magic. Something like 2/10. Well, maybe next time. Or perhaps a different desktop environment.

That's about what I'd expect from him. I really have no issues with this review. It's a matter of perspective; BunsenLabs is not the kind of distro he'd like. I doubt that he'd like anything that shipped with only Openbox.

Earlier in the review, he wrote, "Why is the would-be panel called Tint2? How's that relevant?" I smiled when I read that; I don't know where the name "tint2" came from. tint2 is unlike any other panel I've used. It's probably my favorite panel, though.
This line really sums things up: "Perhaps Deuterium will appeal to a small base of users, who want the flexibility and simplicity of Openbox, but for the vast majority of people, it's a hassle." He's right, of course. It's a distro for the Openbox fan -- a user who knows what to do with Openbox, one who stashes away old Openbox config files for later use, and one who doesn't need a so-called "modern" desktop.
It's for somebody who understands that Openbox is not a desktop environment, but rather a window manager that can be used instead of a desktop environment.

A user like me. He rates it 2/10; me, I give it a 9. :)