Saturday, March 31, 2012

copying synaptic terminal output

If you want to copy the output from Synaptic's terminal and paste it into a text file, you'll find that ctrl+C and ctrl+V won't work. You could take a screenshot, but you'll have to take more than one shot if the output doesn't fit into one terminal window, like my output here from today in Ubuntu Lucid:

So, what to do? Experienced Linux users might remember this old Linux copy/paste trick: Simply highlight the text in the terminal (left-click > select), and then, in your text editor, use the middle mouse button to paste (if you don't have a middle mouse button, holding down the right and left mouse buttons will also work).

m8 -- end of life

I still have Mepis 8 installed here even though I have the current version, Mepis 11, as well. Since around '06 when I first started using Mepis, I've been using its grub to boot any other systems installed on the same computer. So, whenever a new version comes out, I usually keep the old one, at least for awhile, just to have something there that I know I can count on while I check out the new version. I think I started doing this back with Mepis 3.4-3 and 6.0.

Mepis started out based on Debian Stable. They went to an Ubuntu base for 6.0 and 6.5, then switched back to a Debian base after that.

Mepis 8 is based on Debian 5 (codename "Lenny"). Debian 6 ("Squeeze") is the current "Stable" version. Lenny reached its "end-of-life" on February 6th, when its security support was terminated; this, of course, affects Mepis 8.

The Debian "oldstable" distribution was moved from the main archive to the repository after March 24th 2012 (see Accordingly, the "official" Mepis 8 sources.list was changed to reflect this (see

I'm probably gonna keep Mepis 8 running until the next Mepis version comes out. It's working just fine, and it's the only Linux installation I have here that still has the old KDE 3.5. So, I edited my Mepis 8 sources.list to reflect the "official" one, although I've commented out some of the repos that I don't use:

# See sources.list(5) for more information

# This file should be edited through synaptic

# MEPIS improvements, overrides and updates--the MEPIS magic
deb mepis-8.0 main 
# MEPIS master pools, please use only if mirror is slow or down
# deb mepis-8.0 main

deb lenny main contrib non-free 
# deb-src lenny main contrib non-free

deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free

# deb lenny/volatile main contrib non-free

# Some Debian Multimedia software might be illegal in some jurisdictions
# deb lenny main

Kind of sad to see Mepis 8's "end-of-life." It's been one of the most solid, stable Linux installations I've had. I don't log into it much anymore, though, and I've found that I really don't miss KDE 3.5 at all (I'm actually typing this from Xfce in Mepis 8). But I'll still feel comfortable using it every now and then, even without the security updates.

Mepis is a great distro; I love Debian Stable, but it's nice to have something else around based on Stable that comes with a live CD or DVD, and that's quicker and easier to install than Debian. It's also nice to see some other distros coming out recently that are like that, such as SalineOS and Crunchbang. My only complaint about Mepis has always been the lack of communication coming from its developer, Warren Woodford. He doesn't participate at the forums, and you rarely hear anything about what he has planned, or what he's up to. But he always seems to churn out good, solid releases, so I've found that I don't mind the lack of communication too much.

Monday, March 26, 2012

stairway to heaven

For those of you who can't stand GNOME Shell or Unity, check out Dedoimedo's piece on Cinnamon 1.4:

Still not interested (I still don't get the GNOME Shell/Unity hatred, and enjoy using both of them myself), but Cinnamon's looking pretty good. Dedoimedo says, "I believe Cinnamon is currently the most sensible, most user-friendly desktop environment slash user interface available in the Linux market." I might disagree, but I'm glad to see Cinnamon out there for folks who want to use it.

the hoop

Nothing like shootin' the pill down at the neighborhood basketball court. Feelin' it?


I've been kinda tooling around on this one-speed cruiser:

But more and more I started noticing that there are a lot of bike paths, routes, and trails around Albuquerque. I took a look at the Biking In Albuquerque site and found a pretty nice interactive bike trail map.

That got me wanting to do a bit more serious biking around town. For that, I don't think the one-speed cruiser will do, so I'm looking for a better, lighter bike with at least 10 speeds. Should be fun for weekend bike rides around town.

updating chrome in pclos

About a month after installing Google Chrome Beta in PCLinuxOS (see "google chrome in pclos"), I noticed that no Chrome upgrades were appearing in Synaptic. It seems that unlike in Debian, Mepis, SalineOS, etc., no google-chrome.list file got installed in /etc/apt/sources.list.d when I installed Chrome in PCLOS. So there's no repo for Synaptic to check for upgrades.

I wasn't able to get any info from the PCLOS forums about this issue, but I found a rather simple solution. I just went back to the Google Chrome Beta download page and downloaded the current 32-bit Fedora/openSUSE .rpm. Then:

steve[~]$ su
[root@localhost steve]# cd Downloads/
[root@localhost Downloads]# rpm -Uvh google-chrome-beta_current_i386.rpm
Preparing...                ########################################### [100%]
   1:google-chrome-beta     ########################################### [100%]
[root@localhost Downloads]#

That was relatively painless because all I did was paste the rpm command into the terminal.

So I'm now at version 18.0.1025.113 beta. Problem solved.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

the experiment continues

Hadn't logged into Semplice Linux for awhile, so today I did. 277 packages to be upgraded (or installed for dependencies). Wow. I don't know about this Debian Unstable stuff (Semplice is based on Unstable)!

Before bringing in Semplice upgrades, I've gotten into the habit of visiting the Debian Weather site and checking to see how "safe" things are to do upgrades for my version (i386) on a given day. I don't really know how good of an indicator this page is, so all I can really do is hope for the best, I guess.

In Synaptic, I clicked on "Mark All Upgrades" and "Apply." After a moment, the following appeared:

I probably should have unmarked the packages shown here, but instead I typed "Y" for Yes and continued on. Then, held my breath as I rebooted.

Whew! The system booted up fine, and from what I can tell everything's working fine. I was kinda expecting some serious problems this time around.

I don't know how long it'll be before something breaks on this system. I certainly wouldn't recommend Semplice Linux -- or Debian Unstable -- for a "production machine." Better to go with Debian Stable (or one of the spin-offs that uses Stable repos, like Mepis or SalineOS) and have no worries.

But, so far so good with my Semplice experiment. Got my fingers crossed.

alive and kicking

Had a good laugh about this article: "Why Linux on the Desktop Is Dead"

I laughed because most of us desktop Linux users will be surprised to find out that Linux on the desktop is dead. I guess I should stop using it right now. What a joke.

But in some ways, it wasn't funny at all.

For one thing, the author, Tom Bradley, tried one Linux distribution (Ubuntu) for 30 days. To be fair, it would really have to be like the first 30 days ever using Windows, or the first 30 days ever using a Mac -- and on top of that, if you had installed Windows or Mac OS-X yourself on a computer that was built for a different operating system. How much does the "average" user really know about Windows after the first 30 days of ever using it? It's the same with Linux.

Also, Bradley talks a lot about "market share," I don't see any reason why Linux needs a large market share to be useful, or even successful (depending on how you define "success," I guess). It hasn't had a large market share in all this time, yet many of us don't use anything but Linux, and have no reason to use anything else. I don't care what percentage of desktop users use Linux; I'm not sitting here hoping for the day when Linux becomes a "major player." As long as Linux is available for those who want to take the time to learn to use it, and as long as I can figure out how to make it work for me, I'm happy.

Check out the comments following the article, and you'll see how ridiculous many of Bradley's comments really are. He begins the article by saying that Linux is "never going to be a factor on the desktop, so don't even waste your time considering it." What? There are tons of reasons why someone might want to try Linux that have nothing at all to do with how many other people use Linux. So what if it never becomes a factor in someone else's eyes?

Bradley concludes:

It doesn’t change the fact that you’re part of a negligible market segment. It doesn’t change the reality that Linux is not as intuitive or user friendly as it’s rivals, or that it lacks the third party hardware and software support of its rivals, or that using it requires a learning curve and the dedication to dive into forums and learn to tinker. It’s great for hobbyists and hackers, but not for an average user at a company.

So, move on. There’s nothing to see here. The dream of Linux becoming relevant in the desktop market will never be realized. The desktop OS market is a two horse race between Windows and Mac OS X.

I'm glad I didn't listen to people like Tom Bradley when I was first starting out with Linux, and in my eyes, this article seriously damages his credibility. He got a taste of Linux, but he still doesn't know much about it, or much about Linux users. When it comes to this article, I'd say, "Move on. There’s nothing to see here." Linux on the desktop is alive and well, thank you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

glued to the tv

This is the one time of year when I find my butt planted in front of the tv for hours -- March Madness, the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Impressive performances so far by Kentucky and North Carolina. Indiana looks surprisingly tough, too; they're one of two teams to beat Kentucky this year, and the two teams will face off again this week.

Kudos to Ohio University, from the Mid-American Conference, for making it to Sweet Sixteen. They're the lowest remaining seed (13th) in the tournament. Their reward? A date with the Tar Heels. Ouch.

And, how about the state of Ohio? Four Ohio teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen: Ohio State, Xavier, Ohio, and Cincinnati.

There have been some nice upsets so far in the tournament -- most notably, #15 seed Lehigh over #2 seed Duke, #15 seed Norfolk State over #2 seed Missouri, and #13 seed Ohio over #4 seed Michigan. But all four #1 seeds (Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Syracuse) are still standing.

It's "March Madness," so anything can happen, but chances look good for seeing two #1 seeded teams facing off for the title. And while I'm pulling hardest for Michigan State to win it all, I'm always hoping for a Final Four with no #1 seeds.

Great teams like Kentucky and North Carolina are incredible to watch, but this tournament is all about the upsets. That's what puts the "Madness" into "March Madness." The main reason I tune in is for the chance to see unheralded players from unheralded teams rise to the occassion and slay some giants. It's "The Big Dance" -- one of the greatest events in all of sports (up there with the Olympic games and World Cup soccer, in my opinion).

To view the current NCAA Tournament Bracket, you can go to:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

opposite points of view

To get an idea of how divergent the opinions are in the Linux world regarding the GNOME Shell and Unity interfaces, one only needs to check out a couple of blog entries that were posted today.

In "Linux Mint and Cinnamon: Spice for your desktop," Dedoimedo describes Mint's Cinnamon shell as "the last hope for the Linux world," and writes:

One day, Linux Mint people decided they had enough with Gnome 3, the bland and moronic interface that killed functionality and turned everything sluggish. So they decided to start developing their own desktop, which would focus on allowing users to actually work without being ugly or compromising the long-term support Ubuntu family relationship. In one sentence, Cinnamon aims to combine the GOOD aspects of Gnome 2 and Gnome 3 and become the one desktop interface that everyone will like and use.

But in Unity vs. GNOME Shell: Comparative Review at the Muktware site, we find a much more positive outlook on the new interfaces. About GNOME Shell and Unity, the author writes:

I have used both of them and I think that both represent the future of the desktop environment in their own way.

I personally feel that in some ways Dedoimedo might be blinded by his own hatred of GNOME Shell and Unity; he never acknowledges that many people (including myself) feel that these two interfaces are much better than what we had in GNOME 2. But his opinions are important, and despite his negativity I feel that he's still a positive force in the Linux world, and I read his posts even though I don't always agree with what he says.

So far, I've had no interest in using Cinnamon instead of GNOME Shell or Unity, but I have to admit that Dedoimedo's screen shots and comments make Cinnamon look pretty good.

Everyone always says that "Linux is about choice," and nobody's forcing anyone to use GNOME Shell or Unity. The emergence of Cinnamon is a good thing for many former GNOME 2 users; many others have happily turned to other environments like KDE or Xfce, and still more have embraced GNOME Shell and/or Unity. There's something out there for everyone; improvements and new stuff keep coming.

I don't think I really agree with Muktware's comment that GNOME Shell and Unity "represent the future of the desktop environment." For whom?

And I certainly don't agree with Dedoimedo's assertion that Cinnamon is "the last hope for the Linux world." Maybe it's his last hope.

As always, the best thing to do is to use what works best for you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

darkduck reviews semplice

DarkDuck's Semplice Linux review:

What interested me here is that I've also noticed that PCManFM doesn't always start when I click on "File Manager" in the menu, as DarkDuck mentioned. I don't understand why this happens, but it seems to happen about half the time, and less frequently lately. For example, I logged into Semplice just now and clicked on "File Manager" in the menu and PCManFM opened up normally, and I think that it has opened normally in my last several sessions.

Perhaps bringing in some Sid updates has fixed the issue.

I found that each time PCManFM fails to start, if I log out and back in it opens up fine.

Anyway, the distro looks nice here, especially for such a young project. DarkDuck's complaints about the default set of apps -- who cares? You've got the Debian repos at your fingertips.

The real question is how, or if, Semplice Linux (or Debian Unstable) fits in.

I don't think I'd use any distro besides Debian Stable as my sole production system without some other installation available to log into. Even with Fedora, which I absolutely love, when a new release comes out I keep the old one installed, just in case.

But I guess that's part of the beauty of Linux -- and of Debian. After spending some time with Semplice, I can imagine a dual-boot set-up with Debian Stable and Debian Unstable. I could use Sid most of the time, taking advantage of the more up-to-date packages, and still have Stable available if/when things went wrong. I think that's the approach one should take with Semplice, if it's a distro that interests a user. I love using it, but it'll never be the only distro installed here.