Thursday, June 23, 2011

awesome in squeeze

A couple of (kinda boring) shots of AwesomeWM in Debian Squeeze.

The empty desktop, browser minimized (no desktop icons, of course):

And, showing the main menu, accessed here by right-clicking on the desktop, with the Debian menu opened up:

I'm not very good at using tiling window managers, probably because I really don't use them all that much. When I log into AwesomeWM, I actually have to open up man awesome because I always forget the key  bindings and mouse bindings.

man awesome gives you the default mouse and key bindings, and other information, so I guess there's no reason to list those things here. man awesomerc and man awesome-client are a couple of other important manual pages.

The "official" site for AwesomeWM:

A tutorial for folks new to AwesomeWM and tiling window managers:


And, some good info at Urukrama's Weblog:

openbox in lucid

In Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid), I've kinda created a hybrid desktop with Openbox. I still have the default GNOME to log into if I want, and I also have LXDE installed (LXDE actually brought in Openbox), but most of the time I prefer to use an Openbox session.

I say "hybrid desktop" because in Openbox I have apps available from four desktop environments: GNOME, KDE4, Xfce, and LXDE. For example, Dolphin (KDE4) is the file manager I use most of the time; for screen shots, it's KSnapshot (KDE4). gnome-terminal and gedit, from GNOME, are my favored terminal and text editor, respectively. And my panel is xfce4-panel.

Right-clicking on the desktop brings up my customized Openbox menu. The Openbox menu also contains the Debian menu for a more complete listing of applications (added by installing the menu package from Synaptic).

However, for the menu on the panel, I'm using Ubuntu's applications menu (found at /etc/xdg/menus/

I pulled in xfce4-panel from Synaptic, then added xfdesktop4, which allowed me to add a menu button to the panel. I've used pypanel and fbpanel in Openbox in the past, but xfce4-panel feels like a better fit.

The overall result: A nice, clean, simple, fast desktop -- easy to configure, easy to use.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Edit Xfce 4.6 right-click menu in SalineOS

I finally figured out how to customize the right-click menu in Xfce 4.6 in SalineOS. It's a simple task in Xfce 4.4 and earlier versions because those versions have a handy menu editor (so does Xfce 4.8), but the menu in Xfce 4.6 has to be edited manually. Not for the faint of heart.

Here's how it looked when I right-clicked on the desktop in SalineOS:

I wanted to get rid of all that Thunar stuff ("Open in New Window," "Create Launcher," "Create URL Link," etc.) and show only the items that appeared under the Applications sub-menu, which looked like what appeared in the main menu from the panel:

Then I wanted to customize that menu.

Here are the steps:

Created ~/.config/menus directory.
Copied /etc/xdg/menus/ to ~/.config/menus/

At this point, the right-click menu still looks like the default. It has all of the Thunar stuff, and the “Applications” sub-menu contains everything you see if you click on the panel's main menu icon. To get rid of the Thunar stuff, I ran:

 $ xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -v --create -p /desktop-icons/style -t int -s 0

See man xfconf-query. The above command creates a new property named “/desktop-icons/style” for the xfce4-desktop “channel” and gives it type “integer” and sets the type to 0 (=OFF).

To toggle back and forth between the two properties:

$ xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -v -p /desktop-icons/style -s 0


$ xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -v -p /desktop-icons/style -s 2

The following command gives a list of properties for the xfce4-desktop “channel”:

$ xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -l

And this command shows the same as above, but shows the settings:

$ xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -lv

To edit the menu, I edited ~/.config/menus/ As an example, here are the steps for adding a menu entry for Google Chrome:

First, I looked in /usr/share/applications for the name of the .desktop file, then added the following line to both the “Include” and “Layout” sections:


To edit the actual application name that showed up in the menu:

# gedit /usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop

There, I edited the following line:


Changes to those .desktop entries apparently don't take effect without starting a new session.

For Dolphin, I had to first copy the .desktop file from /usr/share/applications/kde4:

# cp /usr/share/applications/kde4/dolphin.desktop /usr/share/applications/dolphin.desktop

Then, followed the same steps as above.

Here's how it looks now when I right-click on the desktop in SalineOS:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

bash history

I use the history command in Linux quite a bit, but I don't really use it to its full potential. Most of the time, I'm simply typing the following to get a list of the commands in my BASH history:

$ history

That produces a numbered list of commands. Here are the last three lines of my output:

  203  man man
  204  exit
  205  history

Then I can use  "!(n)" to run the nth command, like this:

$ !203

Or else I'm using the "up" or "down" arrows to scroll through the commands in history, then pressing "Enter" to run a command.

Sometimes it's useful to see the actual text file where the history is stored. In PCLinuxOS, that file is ~/.bash_history.

When you're at a root prompt, typing history will show a list of commands that you've run as root, but not the list of commands you've run as a normal user, because the normal user's history and root's history are stored in different files. In PCLinuxOS, root's bash history is stored at /root/.bash_history. You'll need to have root access to even view the file.

There's tons of info out there on this topic, but here are a few good links:

More information can be found hidden deep inside man bash, including the "Event Designators" section under the "History Expansion" heading:

   Event Designators
       An event designator is a reference to a command line entry in the history list.

       !      Start  a history substitution, except when followed by a blank, newline, carriage
              return, = or ( (when  the  extglob  shell  option  is  enabled  using  the  shopt
       !n     Refer to command line n.
       !-n    Refer to the current command line minus n.
       !!     Refer to the previous command.  This is a synonym for `!-1'.
              Refer to the most recent command starting with string.
              Refer  to the most recent command containing string.  The trailing ? may be omit‐
              ted if string is followed immediately by a newline.
              Quick substitution.  Repeat the last command,  replacing  string1  with  string2.
              Equivalent to ``!!:s/string1/string2/'' (see Modifiers below).
       !#     The entire command line typed so far.


Found somewhere on the web:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

kde4 desktop grid

Found out about KDE4's desktop grid feature when I was looking at the KDE 4.0 Visual Guide: Desktop.

You activate it with ctrl+F8, and you can use the same key stroke to toggle back to desktop view. From the desktop grid, you can move applications from one virtual desktop to another, or click on a desktop to go there. Kind of like a fancy desktop pager, but I find it to be more useful. Here's how mine looks in Fedora 15:

fedora 15 kde

Yesterday, I downloaded the CD .iso of Fedora 15 (KDE spin) and installed it.

The installation itself went quickly -- a matter of minutes -- but it took me a couple of hours to finish setting things up. Most of that time was spent downloading stuff.

Post-installation, the first thing I did was log into Mepis 11, which is the distro that boots all my other distros, and edit /boot/grub/menu.lst so that the menu list showed "Fedora 15" in the title. Then I booted into Fedora 15 and disabled SELinux.

I had to run the following command to be able to access any files not on the Fedora partitions:

#usermod -u 1000 -g 100 steve

Then I ran KPackageKit to update the system. There were 145 updates available.

Next, I added mount points for all of my other partitions, and edited /etc/fstab accordingly. Then I installed Yumex, LibreOffice Calc, and LibreOffice Writer.

Fedora 15 came with only Konqueror for web browsing, so I installed Chromium. First I installed wget, then I ran the following commands to install Chromium:

$ su
# cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
# wget
# cd
# yum install chromium

I set up Chromium; then I added a color user prompt for the terminal by adding the following to ~/.bashrc:

PS1='\[\e[1;32m\]\u[\w]\\$ \[\e[0m\]'

As in Fedora 14, in Fedora 15 I didn't like the appearance of the analog clock widget.  I went to Workspace Appearance > Desktop Theme and clicked on “Get New Themes...”  Then I searched for “Glassified” and installed it.  Then, in  Workspace Appearance > Desktop Theme > Details tab, I changed the analog clock to the Glassified Analog Clock theme.

I installed the Smooth Tasks widget, which I prefer to use instead of the Task Manager widget. Installed my favorite image viewer, Geeqie. Finished personalizing the desktop, including turning on desktop effects and getting those set up, then used the following procedure for Flash for Chromium (using the instructions from

First, I selected "YUM for Linux" from the Adobe page.  This downloaded adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm . Then I ran the following commands:

steve[~/Downloads]$ su -c 'rpm -ivh adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm'

steve[~/Downloads]$ su -c 'rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-adobe-linux'

steve[~/Downloads]$ su -c 'yum install nspluginwrapper alsa-plugins-pulseaudio flash-plugin'

steve[~/Downloads]$ su

[root@steve Downloads]# ln -s /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/ /usr/lib/chromium-browser/plugins/

My desktop:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

trying to be enlightened

I've spent a good amount of time playing around with the Enlightenment window manager. I used E16 quite a bit in the past, and I have E17 installed in PCLinuxOS. I know that lots of people rave about Bodhi Linux, which features E17, but I haven't tried it, because, while I enjoy using Enlightenment sometimes, I've never been completely won over by it.

The desktop looks pretty nice. Here's a shot of it, using the A-Black-S1 theme:

I've got two panels (called "shelves" in E17 talk) -- my main shelf at the bottom center, and another one at the bottom right. The reason I put one at the bottom right is because of the first little annoyance that I want to mention here: The show desktop button, called Deskshow, looks too much like a desktop pager, so I don't like having it on my main shelf.

Here's a close-up of that shelf, with the Deskshow icon on the left:

Why did they make it look like a desktop pager?

The icon on the right is for the Slideshow gadget. I'm glad that E17 has it, but I want E17's Slideshow to work like the one in KDE4. Check out its settings window:

You can't set the timer for more than 300 seconds; I happen to like my wallpapers to change every 6 minutes, or sometimes every 10 minutes.

The sub-directory to use for backgrounds is ~/.e/e/backgrounds. It looks like you can change it, but you can't. You can't simply select a directory for your backgrounds, you have to add them one by one by going to Settings > Wallpaper:

Also, I'd like to have wallpapers changing on Desktop #1 while having set wallpapers on the other three desktops, but Slideshow gives you the following choices: 1) set wallpaper on all desktops; 2) set wallpaper on current desktop; 3) set wallpaper on current screen. When I choose #2, the wallpapers change on whatever desktop I happen to be using. Nice, but not what I'm trying for.

When I hover the cursor over an icon on the shelf, the application name that pops up looks kinda cool, but at the same time, kinda annoying. Here, I'm hovering over the Synaptic icon:

It would be better, I think, if the name showed up just above the icon, instead of right on top of it.

Here's an annoying "feature" (and I think they do call it a feature -- it isn't considered to be a bug): When you open up a menu too close to the right edge of the screen, you can't see the submenus to the right. Here, I've right-clicked on Deskshow; the submenus are off the edge of the screen:

You have to move the cursor way over to the right before the whole thing shifts left so that you can see the submenus:

Why not just open the submenus to the left when the menu opens up so close to the right edge of the screen?

E17's Settings menu is really nice. There are tons of configuration options, some of which might even address some of the issues I've mentioned above:

It's really a beautiful window manager, and I certainly could be doing a lot more with it than I am. I have fun using E17, but after about a day (and sometimes after only a few hours), I get to a point where I just want to go back to a nice, normal, quiet desktop - KDE4, or GNOME, or Openbox or whatever.

Different strokes for different folks. I guess I still haven't been enlightened.