Thursday, July 28, 2011


This one's been posted already at a lot of different blog sites, but it's worth repeating:

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."

-- George R. R. Martin, spoken by one of his characters in A Dance With Dragons.

For a short review on A Dance With Dragons, see:,,20509545,00.html

present windows - all desktops

In Mepis 11, I have KDE4's screen edges set so that I can move the cursor to the bottom right corner to bring up the desktop grid. This is quite useful for taking a look at what's on each virtual desktop and moving quick to a different desktop.

But I have the top left corner set to "Present Windows - All Desktops." This one gives me a look at all open application windows, and of course I can click on any one of them to go to that window.

That's just a tool to use in addition to the desktop grid and the panel's Task Manager. Here's the Screen Edges GUI used to set it up (System Settings > Window Behavior > Screen Edges):

USB flash drive synonyms

Some terms that folks use to refer to a USB flash drive:

- jump drive
- memory stick
- USB memory key
- thumb drive
- pen drive
- USB stick
- pocket drive
- disk on key
- USB key
- data stick
- finger stick
- keychain drive
- key drive
- memory key

f15 (gnome3) from flash drive

After spending some time using Unity in Ubuntu Natty, I wanted to take a look at GNOME 3 in Fedora 15. I downloaded the Fedora-15-i686-Live-Desktop.iso and verified the sha256sum, and then used a couple of different methods to create bootable flash drives.

First, I used MultiSystem, which I already have installed in Ubuntu Lucid. Very easy to use, and the live session booted up fine.

Next, I installed unetbootin in Mepis 11, and used that to create the flash drive. unetbootin was also surprisingly easy. Fedora 15 is not listed as one of the Fedora versions supported by unetbootin, but everything worked fine.

I think that in either case, the flash drive needs to be formatted to FAT32. The Linux dd command is also mentioned as an easy way to create bootable flash drives, but I haven't tried that one yet.

Now, for some screen shots of Fedora 15's GNOME 3 version (which is the main version), from the unetbootin live session.

Here's the desktop with a wallpaper that's very close to the default wallpaper, except with some decoration in the lower right:

Clicking on "Activities" in the upper left corner brings up the menu. Here's the System Tools menu:

Looks like you can't do much desktop configuration without installing some things like gnome-tweak-tool, but you can do some basic things from the live session.

Here's a shot of some kind of bug that I've seen a few times in the live sessions:

I haven't bothered to research that yet.

I'm not crazy about the way GNOME 3 does workspaces; it's different, but it works for getting around. You have to go to "Activities" for the workspaces to show up along the right side of the screen, or to even change workspaces using the mouse. They call them "dynamic workspaces." The desktop starts out with one workspace; if you start an application, you get the workspace that the application starts in plus one empty workspace. Each time you start an application in an empty workspace, you end up with another emply workspace. The dock along the left side starts out with big, juicy icons, but they become smaller when you have more applications running.

I felt that the workspace grid in Unity and desktop grid in KDE4 are better ways to deal with workspaces than how things are done in GNOME 3, but maybe "dynamic workspaces" just takes some getting used to.

Here's a shot of the desktop with a wallpaper chosen from Fedora 15's default collection:

The crash in the gvfs-1.8.1-1.fc15 package occurred again and again during my live sessions, so that's a concern. Another problem was that I was unable to change the time on the clock at the top and make it stick. Those and the fact that configuration options were limited might not be issues in a hard drive installation.

The system felt fast and responsive; the menu was fairly easy to get around, but I didn't like the fact that you had to go to "Activities" to do just about anything with the mouse, including opening up applications. The search tool that shows up in the upper right in "Activities" is nice, but using it to find and open up apps requires using the keyboard.

Fedora 15 came with Firefox 4.0.1, which is already old (!). There was no office suite with the live CD .iso.

The lack of minimize/maximize buttons for applications struck me as odd, but double-clicking at the top of an application window toggles between the two modes, and right-clicking in the same place brings up more options. You can drag windows from one workspace to another using the workspaces thing along the right side when in "Activities."

My initial impression is that GNOME 3 is not as easy for getting things done as Unity, but other folks feel differently, and perhaps my opinion will change over time. Also, I think that Unity looks better -- less childish, more attractive. But that's a matter of opinion, too.

I'm in no hurry to use GNOME 3, and what I've seen from these live sessions doesn't inspire me to do a hard drive installation of Fedora 15's main version (I already have the KDE spin installed), but I figure that GNOME 3 will improve and that a lot of people will be happy with it and that I'll be fine using it whenever I get around to installing it.

u3 -- gone!

In Ubuntu Lucid, I installed u3-tool and used it to remove the U3 stuff from a Memorex TravelDrive flash drive. Check man u3-tool for more info. u3-tool is also available from the Debian repos.

I inserted the flash drive. Then, I checked System > Administration > Disk Utility. The drive was shown at /dev/sdc and the volume at /dev/sdc1.

I ran the following commands, which basically just gave me a look at things:

steve[~]$  sudo u3-tool -i /dev/sdc1 
Total device size:   1.88 GB (2017984512 bytes) 
CD size:             4.09 MB (4292608 bytes) 
Data partition size: 1.88 GB (2013691904 bytes) 
steve[~]$  sudo u3-tool -h

u3-tool 0.3 - U3 USB stick manager 

Usage: u3-tool [options]  

-c                Change password 
-d                Disable device security 
-D                Dump all raw info(for debug) 
-e                Enable device security 
-h                Print this help message 
-i                Display device info 
-l     Load CD image into device 
-p      Repartition device 
-R                Reset device security, destroying private data 
-u                Unlock device 
-v                Use verbose output 
-V                Print version information 

For the device name use: 
  '/dev/sda0', '/dev/sg3' 

According to some tips I found in an Ubuntu forums thread, the output at the end of that second command shows the devices names that should be used.

So, I ran the following command:

steve[~]$  sudo u3-tool -p 0 /dev/sg3 

WARNING: Loading a new cd image causes the whole device to be whiped. This INCLUDES 
 the data partition. 

Are you sure you want to continue? [yn] y 

So, I opened GParted and saw that all that was left was a FAT16 partition (1.88 GB) and about 4 MB unallocated. I unmounted the FAT16 partition and then resized it to take up the rest of the drive.

Next, I took a look at things again with this command:

steve[~]$  sudo u3-tool -i /dev/sdc1 
Total device size:   1.88 GB (2017984512 bytes) 
CD size:             0.00B (0 bytes) 
Data partition size: 1.88 GB (2017984512 bytes)

So, u3-tool worked and the U3 part is gone -- yay!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

changing workspaces in unity

One of the big complaints about Ubuntu's Unity is that there's no workspace pager on the panel to quickly switch workspaces. There's the Workspace Switcher on the Unity launcher, but a common complaint about it is that using it to change workspaces requires too many clicks -- for example, a click on the Workspace Switcher item to bring up the workspace grid, and then a double-click on the workspace you want to move to.

However, in Unity there are a few different ways of moving to different workspaces:

- Using the Workspace Switcher alone, I've found that once the grid is showing, a right-click instead of a double-click is an easier way to move to the workspace you want to go to.

- I installed the Workspace Indicator applet (found out about it at With this applet, two clicks takes you to the workspace you want to go to; or, you can use the mouse wheel to change workspaces.

- The ctrl+alt+arrowkeys combo works nicely for moving to different workspaces.

- You can set up the mouse wheel to take you to different workspaces (if the desktop is visible and the application window is not maximized). I did this by going to CompizConfig Settings Manager > Desktop section > Viewport Switcher > Desktop-based Viewport Switching and setting "Move Next" to Button5 and "Move Previous" to Button4.

- The Super+s keystroke also brings up the Workspace Switcher. Convenient in certain situations.

- Finally, I set up a desktop edge to bring up the Workspace Switcher by going to CompizConfig Settings Manager > Desktop section > Expo > Bindings tab. "Expo edge" is disabled by default, but if you click on the "Engage wall expo mode edge binding" button (the button will be marked "Disabled" but you can see what it's called when the cursor is hovering over it) you can set the binding to whatever edge you choose. With this set, changing workspaces requires only moving the cursor to your set edge and right-clicking on the desktop you want to move to.

Even all these options won't make some people happy. Some folks simply want a workspace pager. In Ubuntu Natty, those folks could always go to Control Center > Startup Applications, create an entry for gnome-panel to start at the beginning of a session, and simply add the Workspace Switcher to the panel. Installing something like xfce4-panel or AWN (Avant Window Navigator) should also work fine -- once installed, just add a workspace pager to one of those, if one isn't present by default.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

unity quicklists

You can create quicklists for Unity's launcher buttons to make it easier to get to certain tasks and applications. To get an idea of the kinds of things that can be done, visit this web page at or do a web search using the search terms unity quicklist.

In Ubuntu Natty, I created a couple of launcher buttons that when I right-click on them show some of my favorite applications. The first thing I had to do was create the directory ~/.local/share/applications.

I'll show how I created a Graphics button containing a couple of applications, KSnapshot and Geeqie. To begin, I created the graphics.desktop file using the following command:

$ gedit ~/.local/share/applications/graphics.desktop

The contents of that file:

[Desktop Entry]

[KSnapShot Shortcut Group]

[Geeqie Shortcut Group]

The order of the list of shortcuts on the "X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts=" line determines the order that they'll appear when you right-click on the button. If you have other "shortcut groups" defined below that line, only the ones in the "X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts=" line will appear when you right-click on the button.

Once I created the file, I simply drag-and-dropped the file from Dolphin onto the launcher.

If you make changes to the .desktop file, you'll have to log out and log back into your Unity session.

A couple of shots to show how it turned out:

Here's the entire desktop, showing my "Utilities" button with its quicklist opened up:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

great, if it works

"The mammoth 800-plus meter (2625 ft) tall tower will instantly become one of the world's tallest buildings [...] The Arizona tower will be a staggering 800 metres or so tall - just 30 meters shorter than the colossal Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest man-made structure. To put that in context - it will stand more than double the height of the Empire State building in New York City, and it'll be as much as 130 meters in diameter at the top."

Sounds good! Let's hope it works out.

EnviroMission plans massive solar tower for Arizona

"The sun beats down on a large covered greenhouse area at the bottom, warming the air underneath it. Hot air wants to rise, so there's a central point for it to rush towards and escape; the tower in the middle. And there's a bunch of turbines at the base of the tower that generate electricity from that natural updraft."

More from the article:

    The advantages of this kind of power source are clear:
  • Because it works on temperature differential, not absolute temperature, it works in any weather;
  • Because the heat of the day warms the ground up so much, it continues working at night;
  • Because you want large tracts of hot, dry land for best results, you can build it on more or less useless land in the desert;
  • It requires virtually no maintenance - apart from a bit of turbine servicing now and then, the tower "just works" once it's going, and lasts as long as its structure stays standing;
  • It uses no 'feed stock' - no coal, no uranium, nothing but air and sunlight;
  • It emits absolutely no pollution - the only emission is warm air at the top of the tower. In fact, because you're creating a greenhouse underneath, it actually turns out to be remarkably good for growing vegetation under there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

more unity screen shots

Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty), after a little bit of tweaking:

long live mepis

Warren Woodford came out with the Debian Stable-based Mepis before Ubuntu existed. It wasn't the first Linux live CD, but Woodford's creation gave us a live/installation CD -- a complete, easy-to-use system that could be run from the CD or used to install Linux to the hard drive.

I've been using Mepis since early 2006. During that time, I've also used several other distros, but Mepis continues to be the one distro that I fall back on. The live CD (and now, the live DVD) has been convenient to have around, and I know I can count on Woodford to turn out quality releases.

So, why hasn't Mepis become more popular than it is now?

Being based on Debian Stable means that Mepis doesn't come with the latest and greatest packages. (By the way, for a short time, Mepis was based on Ubuntu; the experiment didn't last, and Mepis moved back to a Debian Stable base.) Mepis users can acquire more up-to-date packages the Debian way -- by creating a "mixed system" and pulling things in from the Testing or Unstable repos, or by compiling packages on their own. They can also get newer stuff from Mepis' Community Repos. But those aren't always good solutions for people who want things a bit more "cutting edge" out of the box.

The Debian Stable base, along with the fact that Mepis is a one-man distro, produced, primarily, by a guy who has limited time and resources, means that you don't see Mepis in the news as often as other distros like PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Fedora. Woodford puts out one version of Mepis -- it's always just a KDE distro. Other distros have several different versions and release more frequently; Mepis releases come out once a year, at best -- Woodford releases it when it's ready, and usually it takes longer than one year for the next version to come out. So we don't see as many announcements about Mepis at sites like DistroWatch, for example, as we see about other distros.

Most people in the Mepis community don't hear from Woodford much. He doesn't participate at the Mepis forums. He tweets, but not often. He's great at putting out a solid distro, but not so great at selling it to the Linux public. His eccentricities may put off a lot of people, and many people would rather not use a one-man distro as their primary operating system. I mean, what happens if Woodford croaks?

Also, folks have questioned Woodford's commitment to the project. The guy has to work for a living; he's got other things going on in his life, and doesn't say much, if anything, about the long-term direction of the project. Several times, Ive wondered if the current release would be the last. There are no guarantees that Woodford won't bail on the project at any given time. Many people aren't comfortable with things being up in the air like that.

My take on that is that a Debian Stable-based Mepis release is good for a few years -- for the life of the current Stable (a couple of years), and a bit longer if you don't mind not receiving updates for awhile. It should be fine to use for quite some time. After that, it's anybody's guess.

The uncertainty and the lack of popularity don't keep me from sticking with Mepis, though. I decided awhile back to just enjoy the ride. Woodford's release always seem to be a little bit less than perfect; you'll see a few bugs here and there. But Mepis is always solid, stable, and quick and easy to install. No major surprises slap you in the face; from one version to the next, you pretty much know what to expect.

The Mepis community is one of the most knowledgeable, friendly communities out there. They'll bend over backwards to help someone out at the Mepis forums. You're free to discuss other distros at the forums, but distro-bashing is held to a minimum -- forum moderators don't have to step in very often, because, to a large extent, the forum membership polices itself. They know what a good thing they have going there, and they aren't about to let some troll step in and ruin it. Politics, religion, and personal insults are not tolerated.

The documentation is very good, and you can also fall back on the larger body of Debian documentation because so much of it applies to Mepis as well.

As Woodford has found himself more stretched for time, the community has stepped up to the plate, helping out quite a bit with documentation and with testing alpha and beta releases on different hardware and providing Woodford with important feedback. Increasingly, they've contributed artwork, helping to smooth out the rough edges in an area that hasn't been one of Woodford's strengths.

Mepis remains one of the best-kept secrets in the Linux world. I recently joked that it should be named "secretMepis" instead of the official "simplyMepis." Its users swear by it. Even with the relative lack of popularity, Mepis generally seems to have a good reputation among folks who've been around Linux for awhile -- a reputation for quality, consistency, stability, and ease-of-use out of the box.

Anytime another computer falls into my hands, whether it's new or simply "new to me," the first thing I do is try a Mepis live CD (recently, a live DVD) on it. If that works (and it almost always does), the next thing I do is install Mepis. It's got a great track record here, which is why I've contined to use it, and why I'll stay on board and enjoy the ride for as long as Woodford continues to do his thing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

should be interesting

Saturday, Juan Manuel Márquez KO'd Likar Ramos in the 1st round, setting up Márquez' November 12th rematch with Manny Pacquiao.

Back in 2004, Márquez and Pacquiao fought to a draw after Márquez came back from being knocked down three times in the 1st round.

In 2008, Pacquiao beat Márquez on a split decision. Márquez went down in the 3rd round in that fight.

The first fight was at featherweight, the second at super-featherweight. I think the fight in November will be at welterweight.

Both of those two fights were controversial and the decisions could have gone either way. I don't think anyone in recent years has fought Pacquiao as well as Márquez did.

Everybody wants to see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, but I seriously doubt that would be as good a fight as Pacquiao vs. Márquez.

Márquez fought Mayweather in 2009 at 144 lbs. Márquez was moving up in weight and didn't look so hot; he came in at 142. Mayweather came in over the limit at 146, which cost him a financial penalty, and Mayweather won the unanimous decision.

Márquez is 53-5-1 with 39 KOs. It'll be interesting to see if older Márquez vs. older Pacquiao at welterweight will be anything like young Márquez vs. young Pacquiao at featherweight and super-featherweight. It's also interesting because if Pacquiao loses the fight, there goes any chance for Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. Another interesting point is that Márquez couldn't handle Mayweather, so how can Pacquiao handle him? Is Pacquiao that much better than he was before? The "experts" say so, but we'll have to see.

One thing's for certain: Márquez is a tough Mexican fighter with a great record who has never been stopped. Should be interesting to see if Pacquiao can finally stop him in November.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

wally in unity

For automatic, timed wallpaper changes in Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty), I found that Wally Wallpaper Changer works, with a few tweaks.

First, I installed wally via Synaptic. Then, I followed the instructions regarding Unity from this web page:

Update (20110509) [Unity patch]

Wally exists in the system tray. However, Ubuntu 11.04 introduced Unity that comes with a new top panel and applications are not allowed to be there by default. You need to enable explications explicitly. If you want to continue using wally, here is what to do:

First, get your current settings for systray-whitelist:

gsettings get com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist

Then, add your application to the above list with this command:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "[ your_previous_list_here, 'wally']"

Next, I set up Wally to start at log-in by going to System Settings > Startup Applications and adding an entry for Wally there. Then I logged out and back in to make sure Wally started up and showed up on the panel at the top of the screen.

I set up a directory in my home directory and filled it with wallpapers. To make Wally pull from this list of Wallpapers, I right-clicked on the Wally icon on the panel and selected the "Folders" module. Then I added my wallpapers directory:

From the "Settings" module, I set Wally to change every 10 minutes, set the position to "Centered Maxpect," and put check marks in the boxes next to "Choose in random order," "Switch background on play," and "Play automatically on application start." At the bottom of the window, I made sure that the only active modules are "Folders" and "Files."

I raided for a bunch of cool wallpapers to add to my collection, then kicked back to enjoy!

Friday, July 8, 2011


I'm testing out the Rekonq web browser in KDE 4.6.3, in Fedora 15. The version is Rekonq 0.6.1.

Looks like a nice little browser. The tabs are placed below the bookmark bar instead of up at the top like in Chromium. Rekonq has a nice feature where, when the cursor hovers over a tab, a thumnail pops up showing the web page that's open in that tab.

Rekonq is supposed to be getting support for Chrome extensions, but it looks like that hasn't happened yet, so that's a minus. It does come with an ad-blocker, but the ad-blocker doesn't block the texts ads here in Gmail. Seems to work fine otherwise, though.

One extension that I really miss having is Xmarks, but I was able to import my bookmarks from Firefox into Rekonq, and that worked out well.

Rekonq seems to be a bit halting at first when opening up web pages, but then fairly speedy when it finally opens them up. Scrolling up and down in web pages with the mouse's scroll wheel seems a lot smoother than in Chromium.

You can set the new tab page to open up to "Bookmarks," which I find useful.

Then, when you open a new tab, you'll see something like this:

Overall, Rekonq is a nice web browser, but it still needs some work.

desktop stuff

Good 'ol Dedoimedo. He wasn't exactly complimentary in his Xubuntu 11.04 review, but he calls 'em like he sees 'em. He admits that he's no Xfce fan, and he clearly doesn't like Thunar (well, I'm not crazy about Thunar, either), but I found it interesting to read about the issues he had with Xubuntu.

I've used Xfce in Mint, from the Ubuntu repos, and that was fine. But everything I've read makes me think that Xubuntu is not such a good Xfce distro, and the things Dedoimedo says about it don't make it sound any better.

Mint's Xfce version, by the way, is now based on Debian Testing, and I'm getting the impression that it's looking nice and would be a better choice than Xubuntu. Myself, I like Xfce in SalineOS, just seems like a very nice implementation.

A weird thing about Xfce in Fedora 15, the other day I was using it and then logged out of the session and into a KDE session, and the KDE menu was replaced by the Xfce menu! Okay, that wasn't cool. But when I rebooted and went back into KDE, everything was back to normal. I'm thinking that it has something to do with menu Xfce uses now, but maybe it's just a Fedora bug.

Speaking of bugs, there was one in KDE4 around version 4.6.1 where the application launcher in the desktop right-click menu wasn't working. I first saw that in PCLOS, then in Fedora. That got fixed, but then another one popped up that I'm seeing in 4.6.3 in Fedora 14 and 15, the same application launcher starts up two instances of any application you open up. It only happens from the desktop right-click menu. I found the bug report and saw that Aaron Seigo has pushed the patch through, so that bug shouldn't be there when Fedora brings in the next KDE4 version (which should be soon; PCLOS has version 4.6.5 now, and Fedora seems bring them in not too far behind PCLOS).

So, even a KDE4 fanboy like me has to admit to still seeing a few bugs creeping up here and there in KDE4! Fortunately, both of these were in the same area, and didn't bother me much because the application launcher in the panel's main menu wasn't affected. But it adds fuel to the fire for those of you who don't like hearing that "the next version of KDE4 is the best!" :)

I'm enjoying playing around with Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 ("Natty"); it's a lot nicer than I though it would be. Quite a bit more configurable than I expected, too, but I found that I had to add a couple of tools to enhance the configurability, and my feeling is that those tools should be included by default. But isn't that the GNOME way of doing things (although, I guess techinically Unity is a separate thing from GNOME proper)?

Unity is good to work with. It has good tools for getting around the desktop, and generally it has a good flow to it, especially after you get used to it. I've found a few things that I don't like about it, and each of those are things that folks are complaining about, so perhaps they'll be addressed fairly soon. But I also found some web pages that have some really nice tips for using Unity, and those were some great finds (for example, see I tweaked the launcher (the panel along the left side) to make it a lot less, um, annoying and gaudy, but I'm thinking that it would be a lot nicer if it could be placed elsewhere on the desktop -- like at the bottom of the screen, maybe.

I think Unity is going to be great for a lot of people, and I can see where a couple of tweaks here and there will make it a lot nicer, so I'm looking forward to installing Ubuntu 12.04 next year. I think I'll have fun with it. Still, the next time I logged into a KDE4 session, I was happy to be back to a more "traditional" desktop! ("Traditional" in the sense of having a panel and normal menus.)

I've only seen a couple of very minor bugs in Natty so far, but a friend of mine has been talking about a "white screen of death" issue that he's seeing. I'm thinking that it's some kind of graphics driver problem, perhaps, because I haven't encountered it. Natty also comes with an option to log into a traditional GNOME session; I've taken a quick look at it to make sure that it works, but quickly switched back to Unity because it's just more interesting to me right now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I prefer using my big, old, clunky pc instead of a laptop, notebook, netbook, or whatever. But I needed a working, spare computer. I was going to just look for a used pc, or even a cheap new pc, but the convenience of a laptop eventually won the day.

The one I found? The HP Compaq Presario CQ56-219WM Notebook from Walmart. $278 bucks. 250 GB drive, 2 GB RAM, CD/DVD drive, 3 USB ports, 15 inch display, Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.00GHz.

I tried my Ubuntu Natty live CD on it. Then I tried Natty from a MultiSystem live flash drive (for info, see Then I tried my Mepis 11 live DVD on it.

Then I used KDE Partition Manager from the Mepis 11 DVD and wiped out Windows from the hard drive. Deleted every partition that was there. Re-partitioned, then installed Mepis 11.

Looks beautiful, runs great.

Because the drives on my main pc are all filled up with other distros, I'm considering adding a Ubuntu Natty installation to the notebook, just to test things out, see how things go. Haven't decided yet; I'm just glad to have something else to get online with when I can use my main pc.

In the past, I was using an old Balance notebook as a spare. It originally came with Linspire, but I have Kubuntu Dapper sitting on it now. But I've been unable to get a broadband connection with it, and installing other distros on it has been, at times, problematic. It was time to retire it, quite simply. It served me well.

M.A.L. has a new MacBook Pro. I joke that I could have gotten 3 or 4 new computers for the price of that MacBook Pro. Actually, it's no joke, and I'm sure I'm as happy running Linux on my Presario as he is running OS-X on his MacBook Pro.

Hopefully, I won't end up regretting this purchase, but $278 wasn't much. Everything looks great so far.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

unity ain't so bad

I finally got a chance to take a look at Unity, from the Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty) live CD.

I'm having no trouble getting around in there, and my feeling right now is that some people are getting all worked up over nothing. It's different from what people are used to, but it's just another look for Linux. It's still just Linux. Folks can choose to use it, or not.

With Ubuntu, I normally only install the LTS (Long-Term Support) versions, so I don't think I'll be installing Natty. I'll wait until Ubuntu 12.04 comes out next year. But I don't think I'll have any problem using Unity. I'll probably do what I always do, though, and add something like Xfce or Openbox.

Here are some screen shots of from the live CD, starting with a view of the workspace switcher:

My first thought about the workspace switcher was that it takes an extra click or two to do things, but I do like the design. It's easier to access than KDE4's desktop grid (see but otherwise it works about the same way.

A couple of Nautilus windows opened up:

The launcher along the left side kinda annoys me; too gaudy, too cartoon-ish. But it's easy enough to use. I installed CompizConfig Settings Manger and set the launcher to "auto-hide," but it also disappears when you maximize a window. Here's the terminal, maximized:

And the terminal, re-sized, with the launcher hidden:

The application menus show up in Unity's top panel instead of at the top of the application window:

A couple of different ways of accessing things in the menu:

Overall, I don't think I'll have any trouble getting used to Unity, but I don't think it'll become my favorite.

free throws from the heart

Allan Guei, formerly a star basketball player at Compton High School in Los Angeles, won $40,000 dollars in a free throw shooting contest.

Guei, who is heading to Cal-State Northridge on a full scholarship, gave the money to the contest's seven other finalists.

"I've already been blessed so much and I know we're living with a bad economy, so I know this money can really help my classmates," he said in a release from the school. "It was the right decision."

One of the greatest "sports stories" I've ever read. In sports, people talk about players having "heart," but this kid took that to a whole 'nuther level. Beautiful.

Here's a link to the story, from Rivals:

Friday, July 1, 2011


Considering all of the wildfires this year in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, it doesn't seem like such a good idea for folks to be setting off fireworks, does it?

The kids aren't gonna be happy about it, but I'm kinda glad that I have a good excuse not to spend a bunch of money on that stuff this year!