Monday, January 30, 2012


Regardless of which desktop environment or window manager I'm using, I normally install KDE4's Dolphin. It's my favorite file browser/file manager. Prior to KDE4, I'd add Konqueror and/or Krusader.

When I installed Fedora 16 (GNOME), I decided to see how I'd like going without Dolphin, using only Nautilus.

Well, Nautilus is okay, but it simply isn't as convenient to use as Dolphin, in my opinion. There's no toolbar, so for doing certain things like going up a directory level or showing two panes or showing hidden files, you have to either use the drop-down menus or use a key-stroke combination.

On a tip from a member of the Fedora forums, I decided to try emelFM2. Version 0.8.0 was a available in the Fedora repos, and installing it brought in only a couple of extra packages for dependencies.

emelFM2 is much more configurable than Nautilus. By default, it has a dual-pane set-up, like Midnight Commander and Krusader. It comes with a few different toolbars (which are also configurable) that contain icons for lots of different tools. Makes life easier, in my opinion.

I found the helpful "usage" document at /usr/share/doc/emelfm2-0.8.0/USAGE, which shows you how to get around the file manager and set things up.

Dolphin has convenient file previews, and the preview pane, and that's something I miss with emelFM2. Other than that, I'm fine with using emelFM2 in GNOME 3, and I find it better to use than Nautilus.

Here's a link to the official emelFM2 web site:

And, for more screen shots:

The user guide is online at:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

public radio

Plugging my favorite public radio stations...

The local stations I listen to over the airwaves:

- KUNM (89.9 FM) and KANW (89.1 FM), out of Albuquerque, NM.

And, a couple I pick up via the internet:

- KJZZ (91.5 FM), broadcast from the Phoenix, AZ area, a service of Rio Salado College and Maricopa Community Colleges.

- WEMU (89.1 FM), from the campus of Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, MI.

e17 in pclos

As I mentioned some time ago in "trying to be enlightened," while I've been a fan of of Enlightenment (both E16 and E17), I've never totally warmed up to it, and don't think of it as my favorite environment.

E17 gives you a lot more eye-candy stuff than window managers like Fluxbox, Openbox, or AwesomeWM, but the cool thing is that it still manages to be quite fast and snappy. I'm using it in PCLinuxOS, where I can choose to log into E17 or the default KDE 4. This gives me access to my favorite KDE apps while I'm in an E17 session.

It seems amazing to me that E17 packs so much stuff, yet feels so light.

PCLOS does KDE as well as or better than just about any other distro, but there's something magical about Enlightenment. It has a few strange quirks, but it's so pleasant to use that I find myself logging into E17 sessions at least a third of the time I boot into PCLOS.

the linux timeline

If you do a web search with the terms linux timeline (especially if you narrow the search down to "Images" using Google search), you'll find tons of charts showing how Linux has evolved over the years and branched out into different distributions. Some of the charts are old; some are kept relatively up-to-date.

A site that appears to frequently publish an updated Linux timeline:

They provide links for .png and .svg images, as well as a tar.bz2 file. If you click on the .png image, for example, the timeline will open up in your browser, and you can click on it for a close-up view.

A Linux fan could spend a lot of time exploring the branches of one of these timelines! I check 'em out from time to time, but today is the first time I noticed the inclusion of some of the relatively new distros like SalineOS and Linux Mint Debian on the Debian branch, and PearOS (based on Ubuntu).

These timelines show that most current Linux distros descend from Debian, Red Hat, and Slackware, with quite a considerable number descended from Ubuntu on the Debian branch. And more than a few distros have died off, like the Lindows/Linspire line (Linspire was my first distro!), and the Corel/Xandros line (Xandros was another one I used early on in my Linux days).

Looking down the "2003" column, where Mepis (which I still use here) first appears, I notice an explosion of distros that year and in the following couple of years -- especially on the Knoppix line. This kinda shows the influence of the live CD (pioneered by -- but not begun with -- distros like Knoppix and Mepis, both of which came before Ubuntu).

There's been an incredible amount of branching, resulting in hundreds of Linux distros. I was somewhat surprised to see all of the distros coming from the Red Hat branch prior to 2003; lots of those are no longer alive.

Anyway, a must-see for anyone interested in Linux history!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

a year with saline

Well, it's been a full year since I first installed SalineOS here. I like to spend some time with a distro and not jump to any conclusion about it after a few days or weeks; Saline has not disappointed.

For the most part, Saline is just Debian Squeeze with Xfce. A few things that set SalineOS 1.x apart from Squeeze:

- Quick, easy installation from a single live DVD
- A User Manual, located conveniently on the desktop (I later moved mine into my home directory) that includes installation instructions and other information
- Lines in /etc/apt/sources.list for Squeeze Backports, WINE, and Remastersys
- Chromium is the default web browser, instead of Iceweasel
- While Synaptic is available for adding software, there's an AutoUpdate script that uses aptitude for updates; they include an icon on the panel to start this script, and one kinda odd thing about it is that it opens up two terminal windows

From the SalineOS "About" page:

The primary goal of the SalineOS project is to deliver a fast, lightweight, clean, easy to use and well doccumented operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. In keeping with these goals SalineOS includes many things added on top of Debian to make it easier to use and more complete out of the box. This includes a choice of sgfxi and magix-driver-installer for installing proprietary graphics drivers, Debian repositories that include software that does not conform to Debian's strict free software guidelines, WINE repositories, Remastersys backup utility, binary firmware for common wireless network cards, the Debian backports repository and a script to install potentially patent encumbered multimedia codecs with one command.

Saline's developer, Anthony Nordquist, released SalineOS 1.0 right after Debian Squeeze was "frozen" -- before Squeeze actually became Debian Stable. Looks like he plans to do the same kind of thing with 2.0, planning to release the early development builds with the Wheezy freeze (probably at least 6 months away, yet).

Among other things, he plans to go with the Midori web browser, and will not include the Synaptic package manager. Chromium in the Stable repos kinda lags behind (which is why I ended up installing Google Chrome in Saline, as well as in Debian Stable). And Synaptic is easy enough to install, if you want it (I do).

Nordquist also plans to set up his own repository -- as he posted in the forum, "...this is likely to include packages for the user manual, salineos_utils, game packages built from upstream's pre-compiled binaries and packages pulled from Debian backports (When they start for Wheezy)."

About the only thing about SalineOS that I can think of that might be considered a drawback is that it's a "one-man distro." I don't necessarily consider that to be a drawback; part of the beauty of Linux is that lone developers can do some things that really can't be done with distros run by large organizations. Also, Saline uses Debian repos, so in that sense it isn't completely a one-man distro.

Considering that a lot of people complain about Debian being kinda difficult to install, and that a lot of people are unhappy with the direction GNOME has taken, and prefer something like Xfce, it surprises me a bit that SalineOS hasn't caught on more than it has. But it's still in its infancy, really. I'll be interested to see how much more popular it becomes over the next few years. I certainly plan to keep it installed here!

Here's a link to the home web page:

And, one more screen shot of my SalineOS desktop:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

man pages in your browser

This worked for me in Ubuntu 10.04 and Debian Squeeze. Don't know yet if it will work in other distros. A "thank you" for this tip to Linux Mint forum member "Habitual."

For this to work, you will need to have groff installed. In Ubuntu 10.04, installing groff brought in these packages:

groff (1.20.1-7)
libnetpbm10 (2:10.0-12.1ubuntu1)
netpbm (2:10.0-12.1ubuntu1)
psutils (1.17-27)

In Squeeze, it brought in these:

groff (1.20.1-10)
psutils (1.17-27)

Next, add the following to ~/.bashrc:

export BROWSER=chromium-browser
alias manb="man -H"

If you don't use Chromium, replace "chromium-browser" with "firefox" or "google-chrome" or whatever.

Then ran the following command:

source ~/.bashrc

(As Mint forum member "Jesse654" explains: "The file .bashrc is being changed. The source command reloads .bashrc. If you logged out, then logged in again, .bashrc would be reloaded automatically.")

Then, the following command will open "man page" in your browser:

$  manb [man page]

For example:

$  manb date

When I tried this without having groff installed, I got something like this:

$  manb date
man: command exited with status 3: /usr/bin/zsoelim | /usr/lib/man-db/manconv -f UTF-8:ISO-8859-1 -t UTF-8//IGNORE | preconv -e UTF-8 | tbl | groff -mandoc -Thtml

So, you need groff.

I couldn't get this to work in PCLinuxOS. Here's what I saw:

$ source ~/.bashrc
bash: TMOUT: readonly variable
$ manb date
What manual page do you want?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Seems that one of the main reasons I had little problem adapting to KDE4 and GNOME 3 had to do with something I read in a book some years ago -- one of Octavia Bulter's science fiction novels. One of her characters was saying something along the lines of how "Change" is gonna happen no matter what, and the thing is to prepare yourself and position yourself to take advantage of that.

A simple idea, but it struck me as profound at the time, and I kinda decided to try to have that sort of outlook in my life.

It was an idea that was in the back of my mind when I decided to learn to use Linux. And while using Linux, it's had a lot do with my deciding to spend time with different distros, DEs, and WMs, and to try to become comfortable with .rpm distros as well as the Debian distros that I started out with.

So I wasn't all that tied down to KDE 3 or GNOME 2, and I've adapted to KDE 4 and GNOME 3 quite easily.

I really feel that my being open to Change -- preparing for its eventuality, positioning myself for it, embracing it -- has really allowed me to be more accepting than a lot of other people of the directions that KDE and GNOME have taken. So many of the comments I saw about KDE 4, and that I'm seeing about GNOME 3, are along the lines of, "It isn't KDE 3," or "It isn't GNOME 2." "It isn't what I'm used to," "It isn't like what we've been using all along."

And folks feel that the changes were forced on them. But that's usually how Change happens. Change doesn't usually stop and ask, "You gonna be okay with this?" It just comes, and if you haven't prepared yourself for it, you're gonna get blindsided by it, and you're gonna find yourself longing for the way things used to be.