Tuesday, April 24, 2012

black clothing, hot desert

We don't get the kind of heat up here in Albuquerque that they get down in the Phoenix, AZ area -- the so-called "Valley of the Sun," where I lived for almost 25 years. But our forecast for today here is calling for near-record heat -- pushing 90 degrees (in April!).

For folks living in the Desert Southwest, it seems almost like common sense to wear light-colored clothing out in the sun. But then we see photos like these, of Bedouin or Taureg people wearing black.

Are they crazy? Or do these desert-dwellers know something that we don't know?

Food for thought:

Or, this letter at nature.com. Folks in Albuquerque, a kinda windy place, but with quite warm, dry summer days, might want to take note of the reference to wind speeds; a little breeze, and loose clothing (dark or light), appear to be key factors.

Might have to rethink my summer wardrobe.

unixmen interviews bacon

As the attention of much the Linux world turns to this week's release of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, we find this interesting interview with Canonical's community manager, Jono Bacon: http://www.unixmen.com/interview-with-canonicals-jono-bacon-interview/

If nothing else, check out his reply to the following question:

Many people like to accuse Canonical of being arrogant and not really care about what the current community has to say about the various changes that take place. You are the best person to tell us whether this has valid grounds, or not. Is Canonical aiming for a “different community” turning its back to the current one?

I think the assertion that Canonical turns its back on its community and doesn't listen to its users has always been ridiculous and unfounded, but Bacon's comments probably won't change folks' opinions. 

I also feel that Ubuntu's place in the Linux world is no less important than any of the other leading distros.


At Canonical we have always tried to bring innovation to Ubuntu [...] The challenge with innovation is that innovation fundamentally challenges the norm and in a distributed community this sometimes causes some concerns in our more conservative community members. There are some parts of our community that would be quite happy with us focusing our efforts in making software primarily of interest to Linux enthusiasts and/or purely shipping GNOME 2.x for years and merely revving the applications in each release.

This in my mind defeats the ethos and philosophy of Ubuntu...

A good read, the Bacon interview should spark lots of comments from Linux folks.

Oh, yeah... I liked the photo they included, so I'm adding it here:

Pink Panther on the wall, right? The Essence of Cool. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012


After seeing this article about the Takeoff Launcher, I decided to take a look at it in PCLinuxOS. It was easy to install in PCLOS via Synaptic.

I think it's okay but it can take a few more clicks to get to an application, like with the GNOME Shell and Unity set-ups. But also like those, you can type in a word to find stuff quickly. For example, if I open the Takeoff Launcher and type word, it shows Dictionary and OpenOffice Writer. If I type editor, I see KWrite and a few other apps. The word screen brings up about a dozen apps.

And, of course, if you start typing in the name of an app, the first three letters of the word will bring up the icon; start typing in the name of a recently opened document, and there it is.

So, that's cool, there are pros and cons.

I generally prefer to use classical-styled menus, but the Takeoff Launcher looks kinda useful, like the set-ups in Unity or GNOME Shell. The ones I really don't care for are KDE's "Application Launcher" (aka "Kickoff" style?) (I use "Classic" style instead) and Linux Mint's MintMenu or whatever they're calling it.

The Takeoff Launcher has that smartphone-type interface like what's in Unity and GNOME Shell. Some people like it, some don't. This screenshot, from PCLOS, shows it with "All Applications" selected. Too much stuff spread all over the desktop. 

But you don't have to dig through sub-menus like with a classic set-up.

On my systems where I have GNOME Shell or Unity, I've added and/or turned on classic-style menus, but I don't use them at all. So I can imagine that I might use Takeoff in PCLOS's KDE4 more than the "Classic" main menu from the panel. Can't see it taking the place of my desktop right-click menu, though.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

ten gmail tips

Lifehacker always seems to have some interesting stuff. Saw this today: Top 10 Clever Tricks Built Right Into Gmail

I don't know about the "Remove Formatting" button (#8). The article says it'll "instantly remove the properties of all your email's text", but you can highlight a portion of the text and click on the button and it'll remove the formatting only from the highlighted text.

Incredibly, I also didn't know about this part (in #6):

You can also copy and paste images from the web, which is particularly handy if you don't want to download an image to your desktop first.

By the way, those two "tricks" work the same here in Blogger (which is, of course, a Google product).

oS 12.1 -- nVidia

It became clear that by default, openSUSE 12.1 wasn't quite handling the graphics on my old Dell pc perfectly.  I was sometimes getting a momentary garbled window when opening new windows, etc. At first I was willing to live with it since it wasn't much of a hassle, but then I decided to investigate further.

I opened up the YaST Control Center, and in the "Hardware" section, I clicked on "Hardware Information." This started a hardware probe that produced this window:

Brilliant. It also allows you to save the info as a text file.

In the "Display" section, I found: Model: "nVidia GeForce 6800 (0x00C1)"

Then I found this page at the openSUSE wiki regarding nVidia. It says:

The NVIDIA drivers can not be included with openSUSE because of their license. Fortunately for new users, NVIDIA has an openSUSE repository containing their drivers.

Then it details various methods for installing nVidia drivers in openSUSE. Very cool. I decided to try the 1-click method for "all NVIDIA current cards (Geforce 6 and newer)"; this started up YaST2, prompted for my root password, and installed the necessary repositories and packages. I rebooted, and that took care of that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Steven Rosenberg posts, This Debian Squeeze installation has lasted since late 2010.

That's Debian for ya. He installed it in late November, 2010. That was actually before Squeeze became the current "Debian Stable" -- that was February 6, 2011.

I know, because I'm typing from a Squeeze installation that I added to this computer back in July, 2010.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

openSUSE -- very nice!!!

I'm becoming more and more impressed with openSUSE 12.1. Looks like, going forward, I'll be using this distro for a very long time.

openSUSE's YaST Control Center might be the best in Linux:

openSUSE might not be the best distro for someone brand new to Linux, but from what I've seen so far, the documentation is excellent -- always a good sign -- and it isn't too difficult to get everything up and running.

I've run into a few bumps here and there, but nothing that was too much trouble. They've done a great job with the KDE4 desktop, which they have at version 4.7.2.

openSUSE puts out a new release every eight months, and each release is supported for 18 months. The S.u.S.E Linux distribution goes back to the early '90s, when it was a German translation of Slackware. The openSUSE Project came about in 2005. You can bet these folks know what they're doing.

When I was first considering getting started with Linux, back in late 2005, an IT guy at my job suggested that SuSE was the best way to go, but I ended up going in another direction; I took a look at a few live sessions over the past several years, and they looked nice, but I was more interested in Debian-based distros for a long time. I'm very happy about finally getting around to installing and using openSUSE. Very nice experience so far.

considering bodhi

I keep reading wonderful things about a fairly new distro, Bodhi Linux. Bodhi comes with the Enlightenment (E17) desktop; it's based on Ubuntu LTS, so there's no re-install necessary for at least two years. Blogger V.T. Eric Layton, a respected poster over at the Bruno's All Things Linux forums, seemed quite impressed by it (see: "Bodhi Linux -- It's About Time").

Another well-known Linux veteran, Carla Schroder, wrote: "Bodhi Linux is gorgeous, functional, and very customizable. It just so happens that's what grumpy old Linux nerds like me think Linux is always supposed to be." Check out her recent article, "Bodhi Linux, the Beautiful Configurable Lightweight Linux."

Bodhi's DistroWatch page says:

The default Bodhi system is light -- the only pre-installed applications are Midori, LXTerminal, PCManFM, Leafpad and Synaptic -- but more software is available via Bodhi Software Center, a web-based software installation tool.

Sounds like something worth looking into. Here's a link to the Bodhi Linux home page. You'll want to take a look at the links under "About."

I think Canonical should have put out something like Bodhi Linux. There's Ubuntu Minimal, which also seems quite interesting, if you don't mind having to install everything yourself, including the desktop manager and network manager. I found a nice guide at maketecheasier.com: http://maketecheasier.com/install-a-minimal-ubuntu-on-old-laptop/2012/02/24.

That looks nice, but I think something like Bodhi would be a better starting point for me. From my point of view, there's a lot to like. I love using E17 (I've got it installed in PCLinuxOS); the LTS versions are the only Ubuntu versions I normally use; and it's always great having the vast Ubuntu repos to work with. I've got a feeling I'll be adding Bodhi before too long.

Monday, April 9, 2012

still the only one

As far as I know, KDE is still the only desktop environment that comes with fully-functioning, automatic, timed wallpaper changing -- and you can have different wallpaper set-ups on different desktops, too. (Enlightenment E17 also has one that I don't like quite as much; whether E17 should be called a "desktop environment" instead of a "window manager" is somewhat debatable, but in any case, its automatic wallpaper changer functions well.)

In openSUSE 12.1, I set it up by going to Configure Deskstop (Personal Settings) > Workspace Appearance and Behavior > Workspace Behavior > Virtual Desktops > Desktop tab. There, I checked the box next to "Different widgets for each desktop." That's so I can have different wallpaper set-ups on each desktop.

After that, I just went to the Desktop Settings for each desktop and set things up. For Desktop 1, under the Wallpaper drop-down list, I chose "Slideshow," set the time interval, and pointed to the directory where my images are stored:

For Desktops 2, 3, and 4, I wanted only one set image, so I went to Desktop Settings, chose "Image" from the Wallpaper drop-down list, clicked on "Open," and selected an image:

I don't know why the devs for other DEs can't implement something like this, but it's one thing about KDE that's head-and-shoulders above all the others. This is in KDE4, but folks were also able to do something similar back in KDE3, so it's nothing new.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

installed and configured

My openSUSE 12.1 (KDE) desktop:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

well, what the heck

No time like the present. Decided to go ahead and download the openSUSE 12.1 KDE .iso. I burned the image to a CD using K3b in Mepis 11.

The live CD booted up fine on my Compaq Presario CQ56-219WM notebook. Here's a shot of the default desktop:

openSuse 12.1 comes with KDE 4.7.2; here's a small sampling of the included applications:

- Firefox 7.0.1
- Amarok 2.4.3
- Gwenview 2.7.2
- LibreOffice 3.4.2

Midnight Commander was also included, which I thought was a nice touch.

The first time I tried to open LibreOffice from the live CD, I got the following message:

"JRE Required -- LibreOffice requires a java runtime environment (JRE) to perform this task. Please install a JRE and restart LibreOffice."

But after I closed that message box, LibreOffice Writer opened up just fine. I also tried Calc for good measure; no problems starting it up.

Here's a shot showing a few open application, and the default Kickoff Application Launcher:

I really dislike that Kickoff thing, and of course I changed to the Classic menu style, so here's one more screenshot:

openSUSE 12.1 KDE didn't run especially fast on my notebook from the live CD, but it wasn't bad. I'm sure it would be much faster from a flash drive, but I wanted to see how things went with a CD. They also offer a GNOME CD .iso, as well as a DVD .iso. See this page for download options.

Not a bad experience, just playing around with a live session! Had no problems with the internet connection (wired), with sound, or with anything crashing, but it isn't like I put it through any rigorous tests. As I've mentioned before, I'm no distro reviewer, and I don't really start thinking that I've gotten a good feel for a distro until I've been running it for several months, or over the course of a couple of releases, at least. Dedoimedo posted some less-than-positive reviews of the 64-bit and 32-bit KDE versions. looking at live and installed sessions; follow those links if you're interested, although you might be turned off from ever trying the distro!

openSUSE has new releases every 8 months, with support for 18 months, as I understand things.

The documentation I've looked at so far looks pretty good, but you'd expect that from any of the top Linux distros.

Anyway, I'll hold off on tryng an installation for now; I should have more time for that in a few days. Looks good so far, though!

Here's a link to the openSUSE website: http://www.opensuse.org/en/

maybe this year

I don't consider myself to be a "distro-hopper," in the traditional sense of the term. I'm just a "multi-booter." I run a handful of distros here, and tend to stick with the same distros over a period of years; the only two that I've stopped using, going back to about 2006, are Kubuntu and Linux Mint. In both cases, I stopped using them because I felt that I could get the things that were most important to me by using their "parent distro," Ubuntu.

So, I stick with three of the bigger names in Linux -- Debian, Ubuntu, and Fedora -- and a fewer lesser-known distros: Mepis, SalineOS, and Semplice (based on Debian); and, the .rpm distro PCLinuxOS, the only "rolling-release" distro of the bunch.

I've only been using Fedora for about a year and half, and Semplice for a few months, but I've been running the others here for 5 or 6 years. That's a lot of distros to maintain, so I haven't wanted to add more. If anything, I think I should cut back to just a few. But all of them continue to run well, so I keep using 'em. I love 'em all.

But there's one other big-name Linux distro that I've been meaning to add: openSUSE. And, I keep putting it off, for one reason or another. Stumbled upon a blog post about it today, openSUSE guide for Ubuntu users, at the Adventures in openSUSE Linux blog site. So, I'm thinking, "Maybe this year." I'd like to get openSUSE installed and running, write about it a bit here, and see how I feel about it two or three years down the road.

The above-mentioned blog post seems like as good a starting point as any, so I'll go back and read over it again, and then go from there.

lukewarm review

Just finished reading Dedoimedo's review of PCLinuxOS 2012.02.

I have it running here, but it isn't a fresh installation -- it's fully updated from PCLOS 2010.07 (KDE). I added Enlightenment (E17) some time ago, and I go back and forth between using KDE or E17, depending on my mood.

The installation has held up fine; just about everything continues to work well, so I have only a few minor complaints and I see no reason not to continue rolling along with PCLOS, for now.

One thing kinda bugging me is that I haven't seen any upgrades for the Chromium browser coming down the pipe in awhile. It's still sitting at version 16.0.912.63 (Developer Build 113337 Linux) PCLinuxOS 2011. As I mentioned earlier, because of this I added Google Chrome Beta, which is at 18.0.xxxx. But, again, that's a minor issue, anyway. I think the upgrades have slowed down due to the illness of the distro's developer, "Texstar."

Firefox is at version 11.0-1pclos2012, for those who prefer that browser.

Dedoimedo implies that PCLOS has been in decline since the 2009 release. I don't know about that, but I agree with him when he says, "PCLinuxOS is holding steady now." I don't see anything exciting going on right now, but it's still one of the better distros out there, in my opinion.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

linux command line ebook

If you're serious about learning to use the Linux command line, you might want to check out this eBook (in .pdf format): The Linux Command Line, by William E. Schotts, Jr. Thanks to PCLinuxOS forums member "menotu" for posting about this; here's the April 2, 2012 Linuxaria article about the eBook:

eBook "The Linux Command Line", a complete guide to using the command line

William E. Shotts, Jr., published a few years ago a useful ebook entitled “The Linux Command Line”, a guide to learn and know more about the Command Line Interface (CLI) on GNU / Linux. The ebook is still available for download and is released under a Creative Commons license.

Although most distributions have graphical environments and interfaces for applications, the command line continues to be a useful tool to do various tasks while using the system. Even the combination of GUI and command line interface, well used, can help you to perform the tasks that you need quickly and accurately.

The ebook “The Linux Command Line” is a comprehensive guide on the command line. Starting from the basics, the most common commands are presented and later Chapters offers increasingly more advanced information, so that makes it suitable for both new users of the Linux system, and for the skilled users.

“The Linux Command Line” is divided into 5 chapters

1. Introduction. The reason the book and that of its usefulness.

2. Learning the Shell. Start exploring the basic language of the command line including things like the structure of commands, file system navigation, editing in the command line and find the help and documentation for commands.

3. The configuration and environment. Covers editing configuration files that control the operation of the computer from the command line.

4. Common tasks and essential tools. Explore many of the common tasks that are performed from the command line. Unix-like systems such as Linux, containing many ‘classics’ command line programs  that are used to perform effective operations.

5. Writing Shell Scripts. Enter the shell programming, a technique certainly rudimentary, but easy to learn, to automate many common computing tasks. Learning the shell programming will become familiar with the concepts can be applied to many other programming languages​​.

The ebook is available to download for free in PDF format, in English: http://sourceforge.net/projects/linuxcommand/files/latest/download