Wednesday, June 26, 2013

archbang live session

ArchBang, like Bridge Linux, starts you off with more than the minimal, non-GUI environment that you'll get with Arch Linux (from which ArchBang and Bridge are derived). Like Bridge, ArchBang uses the Arch repos. It includes the base Arch system, a functional desktop, and some scripts and configuration files.

A "real" Arch user might say, "If you want Arch, then install Arch." That's cool. But I appreciate having things set up a little bit for me. For now, I'll settle for being a "fake" Arch user as I check out Bridge and ArchBang.

With Bridge Linux, there's a choice of Xfce, GNOME, KDE, and LXDE/Openbox downloads. ArchBang, on the other hand, simply offers Openbox. I downloaded archbang-14.06.2013-i686.iso (only 397 MB!) and burned the image to a blank DVD (I had no blank CDs available). Here's what it looked like when I first booted into the live session:

A sample of what's included in the live session:

- Openbox, along with the Openbox menu, configuration manager, and other goodies
- the tint2 panel
- Compton, a compositor for X
- Firefox 21.0
- SpaceFM 0.8.7
- medit text editor
- LXTerminal
- Galculator
- GuCharMap, the GNOME character map app
- Pragha music player
- GPicView 0.2.3 image viewer (from LXDE)
- scrot, for screenshots
- the Parcellite clipboard manager
- HTop, the system-monitor process-viewer

No office suite, no games, not much in the way of multimedia stuff; just a handful of tools to get the user started. The Openbox menu is nicely set up and includes an "Install" option. The "Guide" menu option opens Firefox up to the "ArchBang Document," a guide at the ArchBang wiki.

Running the live session from the DVD I burned was obviously not going to be as snappy as running it from a flash drive; I'll try that before attempting an installation. Here are a couple more screenshots:

Some links:

Monday, June 24, 2013

approaching an anniversary

My Sabayon installation has just about made it through a full year. I installed the Gentoo-based Sabayon 9, which shipped with KDE 4.8.3, back on June 26, 2012. The latest release was called a "monthly release," to Sabayon 13.04 (here's the release announcement). That came out in April. The updates I brought in this morning gave me KDE 4.10.4.

There are some people who say that over time the rolling-release Sabayon becomes unusable. That hasn't been the case here; perhaps some people aren't following the instructions given by the devs at the Sabayon site and in the forums.

One drawback with Sabayon is that the updates can be frequent, massive, and time consuming. I use the sabayon-weekly repository. I usually see updates available each Saturday or Sunday, so I bring them in once a week.

But Sabayon has been great for me. I've been able to find everything I've needed in the repos. Sabayon's KDE desktop is perhaps the most beautiful of any distro. Not much bugginess to speak of. Good documentation and the devs communicate well with the users. It has turned out to be one of the best distros I've used. Hopefully, I'll be saying the same things around the end of June next year.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

package managers

From over at DistroWatch, the very cool Package Management Cheatsheet ("A package management reference card for Linux distributions and FreeBSD"):


Decided to take a good look at Firefox (and Iceweasel), after all this time using primarily Chromium and Chrome.

A few things are a bit hard to get used to, but I'm having fun with it. I already had Iceweawel 17.0.6 in Debian Wheezy, so I got that all set up, then installed Firefox 21.0 in Bridge Linux, from the Arch repos.

Having the address/location bar along with the search bar seemed kinda pointless after being used to Chromium's Omnibar, so I finally installed the Omnibar extension in Firefox. Much better.

It may take me a little time to become comfortable with Firefox again, but that's okay. I'm not sure that I'll switch permanenty from Chromium/Chrome to Firefox, but I do intend to use Firefox a lot more than I have been over the past few years. Not bad, so far.

A screenshot from Bridge Linux, below. As you can see, I'm using DuckDuckGo as my home page, and as the default search engine.

online character maps

Sweet! I never realized before today that there are online character maps out there!

I use GuCharMap (GNOME) and KCharSelect (KDE) fairly often, but it's good to know that the online ones are available. Looks like there are a few of them, but here's a link to the one I found to use:

Monday, June 17, 2013

huh? QApt?

I don't know who's dropping the ball on keeping the Chromium web browser maintained over at Ubuntu, but I wish somebody would get on top of things. When even the Debian Stable repos have a more up-to-date version, you know something ain't right.

Well, you can always install Google Chrome and use that instead, and not have to wait around for Chromium to be updated. As I did with Ubuntu, I added Chrome to Kubuntu 12.04 by downloading google-chrome-stable_current_i386.deb from Google. Getting it installed was a piece of cake: I opened up Dolphin, went to ~/Downloads, right-clicked on the .deb file, then Open With > QApt Package installer.

I'd never seen this QApt Package Installer before, but when that opened up, I clicked on the "Install Package" button.

I was prompted for the password, then a terminal window opened up showing Google Chrome being installed. Quite simple.

I did a search with Synaptic and found the package qapt-deb-installer; then I found this post from 2010 at Jonathon's Blog, which explains that the Muon package manager, which Kubuntu ships with, is based on QApt. Ah, okay.

Anyway, qapt-deb-installer worked as advertised for installing Google Chrome in Kubuntu 12.04. Good to know.

jordan and james

I guess I'm one of the very few who isn't convinced that the Michael Jordan of the 1990s would have had the same championship successes here in the 21st century.

It would be fun if we could replace LeBron James with Jordan in his prime, put him with the Miami Heat against San Antonio in this Finals series, see what happens. Obviously, we can't.

Wilt Chamberlain was (arguably) the greatest basketball player ever -- if you look at what he did back in the '60s, against 1960s competition. Would he have ever had a season where he averaged over 50 points and over 25 rebounds per game (like he did in the 1961-62 season) if he had come into the league in 1970? Or in 1980 or 1990? Who knows, but I doubt it.

While it's fun to try to compare players from different eras, doing so really makes no sense. In Michael Jordan and LeBron James, we're talking about two completely different players, with different styles of play, different teammates, different opponents, different coaches, and different rules of the game.

Here's how Sean Highkin put it in a recent article:

But the debate is growing tiresome—LeBron is enough of a physical freak that he would have been a superstar in any era. It’s not his fault the rules are now more restrictive of physical play. If he had grown up in a previous era, he would have been conditioned to expect that and been able to adapt his game to it. He would have been fine.

James is already one of the greatest players ever. He should be appreciated as that, on his own terms, rather than being constantly held to standards that are irrelevant to him.

I fully agree.

classic mode

GNOME 3.8 was released back around the end of March, but I still haven't taken a look at it here.

For me, GNOME Shell in earlier GNOME 3 versions has been great; I don't miss the old GNOME 2, and I don't use GNOME Shell with a bunch of extensions to try to make it look more like GNOME 2. For example, in Debian Wheezy (with GNOME 3.4), I use exactly two GNOME Shell extensions:

- Alternative Status Menu, which replaces GNOME Shell Status Menu with one showing Suspend/Hibernate and Power Off as separate items. This extension is no longer needed as of GNOME 3.6, as there's now a "Power Off" menu item.

- Quit Button, which replaces the user name and status icon with a quit button.

GNOME 3.8 comes with "Classic Mode." Here's how it's described in the GNOME 3.8 Release Notes:

Classic mode is a new feature for those people who prefer a more traditional desktop experience. Built entirely from GNOME 3 technologies, it adds a number of features such as an application menu, a places menu and a window switcher along the bottom of the screen. Each of these features can be used individually or in combination with other GNOME extensions.

Here's the screen shot they include in the release notes:

I'm not sure if this Classic Mode will satisfy those folks whose lives were destroyed by the GNOME developers' decision to go in a completely different direction with GNOME Shell, but perhaps it'll help ease the pain. You can read more about it (and see more screen shots) at WebUpd8, here and here, and at Muktware, here.

According to one of the WebUpd8 articles, the new GNOME Classic session uses the following GNOME Shell extensions (I've included descriptions for each from the GNOME Shell Extensions site):

- Alternate Tab:  "A replacement for Alt-Tab, allows to cycle between windows and does not group by application."
- Places Status Indicator: "Add a systems status menu for quickly navigating places in the system."
- Applications Menu: "Add a gnome 2.x style menu for applications."
- Static workspaces: "Disable dynamic workspace management."
- Window List: "Display a window list at the bottom of the screen."
- Default Minimize and Maximize: "Adds minimize and maximize buttons to the titlebar by default."
- Launch New Instance: "Always launch a new instance." [That one's because in the current GNOME 3 set-up, clicking on the icon of a running app brings up the already-running instance, not a new one.]

Saturday, June 15, 2013

freedom and user-friendliness

Over at DarkDuck's blog, check out the article "Divergence in the distros: how the Linux community is splitting into a two-tier system" (while keeping in mind the author's comment that "...the two tier model is not meant to be proof of itself. I'm using it to illustrate a divergence in purpose within the Linux community"). As always, I'd also recommend taking a look at the comments following the article.

For the purposes of the discussion, the author compares Zorin OS, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu, on the one hand, to Debian, openSUSE, and Fedora on the other (of those, I'm using or have used all but Zorin):

Zorin and Mint [and Ubuntu] draw their users by offering functionality and usability at no cost whatsoever. They offer a product [...] Debian, openSUSE, and (in some ways) Fedora don't intend to offer a product. They do, but it's more by accident than design (excepting, to an extent, Fedora). Instead, what they offer is a philosophy. A movement.

This may not accurately describe things -- one could argue that Debian Stable, for example, is certainly an intended end-product of that distro's philosophical approach -- but the author's main point is well-taken; I see nothing at all wrong with this "divergence in purpose."

Sunday, June 2, 2013


KDE's KSnapshot has been my preferred screenshot tool, but Shutter looks a lot better. Powerful, versatile, cool.

I found Shutter 0.88.1-1 available in the Ubuntu 12.04 repos (looks like 0.88.3-1 is available in the Debian Wheezy repos), but 0.90 is the latest. You can install 0.90 (and keep up with the latest versions) in Ubuntu distros via PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:shutter/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install shutter

I went with 0.88.1-1 in Kubuntu 12.04, from the main repos. Very nice. A couple of shots:

Sabayon users can install Shutter 0.90 right from the Sabayon repos. Here's a view from Fluxbox in Sabayon:

A link to the Shutter web site:


Interesting project that I just became aware of: openSUSE "Evergreen."

The normal support period for openSUSE releases is "two releases plus two months," which works out to about an 18-month time span. Evergreen "is a community effort to prolong maintenance of selected openSUSE versions as they reach official end-of-life" -- kind of an LTS type of thing, I guess, but not "official" like Ubuntu LTS releases.

For more info, follow this link: