Monday, May 27, 2013

hy-d-v1 in 12.04

After seeing this article, I decided to try installing HY-D-V1 in Ubuntu 12.04. The article is about installing the desktop in Ubuntu 13.04, but the author mentions that it's also possible to install it in 12.04.

Looks like HY-D-V1 is another shell for GNOME 3 (others, of course, include GNOME Shell, Unity, and Cinnamon).

I added the PPA with the following command:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:olivelinux36/hydv1-desktop-dev-precise

Then, I installed the destkop and logged into it. When I logged into it, it immediately crashed. There was an option to try to restart it, but it crashed every time I clicked on that. Also, I couldn't see how to get back to the login screen. Finally got out with Ctrl+Alt+prt sc+K (which, on my computer, is the same as Ctrl+Alt+SysRq+K).

Couldn't figure out what the problem was, so I sent an email to Olivier Larrieau, the developer. He was kind enough to reply, and suggested that I run the the following commands and examine the results:

$ cd /usr/share/hydv1/

$ ./hydv

In the last line of the output, I saw:

xdg.Exceptions.ParsingError: ParsingError in file '/usr/share/applications/wally.desktop', File not found

Well, I had Wally installed, but I wasn't using it anymore; I use Wallch instead. So I went to Synaptic and completely removed Wally, then logged back into HY-D-V1. No crash. Problem solved.

There's still a lot of work to be done on HY-D-V1, but it's okay to use right now. Here's how it looks:

I'll spend a little time with it and see what I think. Right now, it looks nice and seems to be usable. I don't see a way to switch between workspaces. Looks like a good start, though. I was surprised to see that if I clicked on the "Hybryde" button on the bottom panel, I was actually able to go into a GNOME Shell or Unity desktop -- without logging out and back in -- and was also able to get back to the HY-D-V1 desktop.

For example, here's the desktop with Unity running. Click on the arrow button on the right side of the screen, and you're back to HY-D-V1.

So that part works even without installing the full Hybryde Linux. Cool.

spacefm and the global menu

I like using the SpaceFM file manager, but in Ubuntu 12.04's Unity, SpaceFM's menus don't show up in Unity's Global Menu (on the top panel) when the cursor hovers over the Global Menu area. They also don't show up where SpaceFM's menu bar would normally be:

That kinda cripples SpaceFM. The menus are supposed to show up on the Unity's top panel like they do here for gnome-terminal:

One work-around is to use the following to run SpaceFM:


Or, you can edit the "Exec" line in /usr/share/applications/spacefm.desktop. Here, the default was:

Exec=spacefm %F

I changed that to:

Exec=env UBUNTU_MENUPROXY= spacefm

That works nicely, but in researching this issue, I started wondering: Why bother with the Global Menu at all? There are a few different ways of getting rid of it. One solution I've seen:

$ sudo apt-get autoremove appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt

After looking over man apt-get, I'm not totally sure why "autoremove" would be used in this command instead of "remove." I'd probably run the following instead:

$ sudo apt-get remove appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt

Even after removing those packages, Firefox and Thunderbird's menus still show up in the Global Menu, as I understand, so you'd have to run the following for those apps:

$ sudo apt-get remove firefox-globalmenu thunderbird-globalmenu

More web searching turns up another command for getting rid of the Global Menu:

$ sudo apt-get remove indicator-appmenu

I like that one better, so that's what I used here. To get the Global Menu back, just run:

$ sudo apt-get install indicator-appmenu

Getting rid of the Global Menu puts the menus back on the application's menu bar, which is what most people are used to:

Removing indicator-appmenu also works for Firefox. For all maximized windows, the window control buttons (close, maximize, minimize) still show up on Unity's panel, but that's fine with me:

I don't hate Unity's Global Menu, but it can be irritating at times, so I'm kinda glad to be rid of it. There was supposed to be a GUI option for disabling it in Ubuntu 12.04, but I guess that didn't happen. In any case, it's gone from here, and I don't think I'll be missing it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I think I looked over Arindam Sen's review of Hybryde Fusion 13.04 at least five times before I had to check the distro out for myself.

You'll want to follow the link to the review, because Sen goes into a lot more detail than I'll go into here.

Hybryde Fusion is probably the most fascinating distro I've ever come across. It comes with the following desktop environments/window managers: E17, GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell and GNOME 3 "Fallback Mode"), KDE4, LXDE, Openbox, Unity, fvwm, Xfce, MATE, and Cinnamon. Plus, something new, their own environment, apparently called HY-D-V1, which might just be the coolest part of it all.

And you can switch back and forth between any of these environments without logging out.

The whole thing is based on Ubuntu 13.04.

I don't know if Hybryd would be good to use on a production machine. I didn't install it, and probably won't. But I downloaded Hybryde-Fusion-release-live-dvd-i386.iso and used Unetbootin in Debian Wheezy to put it on a flash drive, then booted into the live session, using the "“Hypbryde Fusion en” boot option (Hybryde originates in France, and it looks like their forum is all in French, but the live session -- thankfully -- has an English language option).

The information window you see when you first boot into the live session is in French, though:

They include tons of applications -- from every environment. For example, I used KDE's KSnapshot for these screen shots. The Firefox, Chromium, and Rekonq web browsers are all included:

To switch to another environment, you click on the "Hybryde" button at the bottom and pick from the list:

Here, I've gone into GNOME Shell. The button with the arrow, at the right, takes you back into HY-D-V1:

Back in the HY-D-V1 environment, the "Magic" button at the bottom takes you here:

Click on the "Apps" button and you get something like a Dash or Activities overview:

Or, there's the "Sys" button, for some system info:

The HY-D-V1 environment, which apparently is (or will soon be) available via PPA for Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 13.04, looks like something I might want to use. Here's another view, showing access to various directories:

Changing to one of the other included desktop backgrounds is a snap:

I may have missed it, but I didn't see a way to have multiple workspaces/virtual desktops in the HY-D-V1 environment. Arindem Sen's review points out some other kinks that need to be worked out. But what the Hybryde devs have done here is awesome, if only as something for exploring different desktop environments; and I really like where they're going with HY-D-V1. Beautiful!

Here's a link to the Hybryde Linux DistroWatch page:

Monday, May 20, 2013


I've become quite comfortable with using Pacman from the command line (in Bridge Linux and Chakra Linux) and equo commands for the Entropy package manager (in Sabayon), but for Debian-based distros, I tend to use Synaptic most of the time instead of apt-get from the command line. But I've found it to be useful to know how things work with either Synaptic or apt-get, and to be able to use one or the other when appropriate.

To start with, it's helpful to make use of manual pages like man apt-get, man apt-cache, man dpkg, man sources.list, and other related documents. You can open any of these man pages and scroll to the bottom to the "SEE ALSO" sections to find related man pages.

Now, I normally don't use the APT front-end aptitude, but many users prefer that over apt-get and apt-cache. There's plenty of information out there about aptitude; among other resources, there are always the man pages to refer to, and the Debian Wiki. There's also quite a bit of info in the "Maintenance and Updates: The APT Tools" section (Section 6) of The Debian Administrator's Handbook (still quite useful even though it has not yet been updated for Debian Wheezy). That's about all I'll say about aptitude here, though.

Synaptic is such a great tool that many users will have little reason to drop down to the command line for any package management tasks. For instance, if you open Synaptic and go to Settings > Preferences, on the "General" tab, next to "System upgrade:" you'll see a drop-down list that contains "Smart Upgrade," "Default Upgrade," and "Always Ask" options.

Well, "Smart Upgrade" is the same as running:

# apt-get dist upgrade

Similarly, "Default Upgrade" corresponds to apt-get upgrade. The "Reload" button at the top of Synaptic's interface is the same as apt-get update. You get the picture.

The command line tools can give you more than Synaptic in many cases, though. For example, I'm not aware of anything in Synaptic that does the same as the following command:

# apt-get clean

In fact, if you always use Synaptic, you might want to take a look at man apt-get and read about the clean, autoclean, and autoremove commands. Those can be very helpful for clearing up disk space.

Synaptic has a very nice tool under the File menu, called "History."

Synaptic's History is easy to navigate, and it'll show you all the changes you've made with Synaptic, arranged by date and time. Be aware, however, that it will NOT show you changes you've made with apt-get from the command line. For those, you'll want to take a look at the files in the /var/log/apt directory. /var/log/apt/history.log will show all the most recent package changes you've made, whether you made them with Synaptic or from the command line. The .gz files in /var/log/apt contain older history.log files.

You can compare what's shown in my Synaptic History for May 16th, above, to what's shown in my /var/log/apt/history.log for the same date:

Start-Date: 2013-05-16  09:33:08
Commandline: /usr/sbin/synaptic
Upgrade: mysql-common:i386 (5.5.30+dfsg-1.1, 5.5.31+dfsg-0+wheezy1), linux-libc-dev:i386 (3.2.41-2, 3.2.41-2+deb7u2), linux-image-3.2.0-4-686-pae:i386 (3.2.41-2, 3.2.41-2+deb7u2), libmysqlclient18:i386 (5.5.30+dfsg-1.1, 5.5.31+dfsg-0+wheezy1)
End-Date: 2013-05-16  09:33:44

Pretty much the same info.

You can really spend a lot of time learning about all the ins and outs of the various APT tools; in the end you might do like me and just use Synaptic most of the time. Or you might prefer some other GUI tool, like Ubuntu's Software Center or Kubuntu's Muon. Either way, it won't hurt to learn what you can about apt-get, apt-cache, dpkg, aptitude, etc. It's kinda fun, too.

kubuntu, once again

As I recall, the last time I installed and used Kubuntu, it was Kubuntu 6.06 ("Dapper") -- six or seven years ago!

A lot has changed since then. I've gained quite a bit of knowledge and experience with Linux, for one thing. Also, KDE development moved on to KDE4, which Kubuntu, of course, uses these days. Dolphin has replaced Konqueror as KDE's go-to file browser, and Rekonq has emerged as the default web browser for various KDE distros.

A new (to me) notebook came my way; I spent about a week trying to decide which Linux distro to install on it. I wanted something Debian-based and stable that I could leave installed on the notebook for a few years. I already have Debian Wheezy Xfce, Debian Wheezy GNOME, and Ubuntu 12.04 installed on other computers. I like Mepis, but the latest release isn't out yet (they're still at the Squeeze-based Mepis 11), and while I think Linux Mint is a great distro, I'm not so much of a fan of that one these days. I do like KDE4, and I had good experiences with Kubuntu in the past, so I finally decided to take a look at Kubuntu 12.04.2 LTS ("Precise"), which ships with KDE 4.8.5.

The installation was really quick and easy, and I was presented with this desktop:

That looked nice. Not sure what was up with the empty folder on the desktop, though.

Anyway, I got down to business, tweaking things and adding software. Kubuntu ships with Muon, a package management suite that includes Muon Package Manager, Muon Software Center, and Muon Update Manager. I've read nice things about Muon, but sometimes this old bear can be quite stuck in his ways; I turned off the update manager, and haven't used Muon at all. The first command that I ran in the fresh installation:

$ sudo apt-get install synaptic

I also installed a handful of other apps that didn't come with Kubuntu by default -- mostly apps that are not native to KDE, like the Chromium web browser, Geany text editor, SpaceFM file manager, and Mirage and Geeqie for image viewing.

I noted that while Kubuntu didn't come with Firefox, they did include a "Mozilla Firefox Browser Installer" to make it easy to get that web browser. The LibreOffice suite of applications was included, though.

Kubuntu (especially the LTS version) might be the best choice these days for a Debian-based KDE distro. I personally think that it's a better option than Mepis, Linux Mint KDE, or "straight" Debian with KDE, for various reasons, but the next guy might feel differently.

Here's a look at my Kubuntu Precise desktop after I finished setting things up:

jesse reviews wheezy

Kinda chuckled while reading Jesse Smith's review of Debian Wheezy in this week's DistroWatch Weekly.

Lukewarm review, I thought, with the same old complaints: It isn't easy to figure out which image to download, and where to go for various images. Documentation, release notes, etc., not all in an easy-to-find place, and some of the documentation hasn't been updated for Wheezy. Long installation process in comparison to many other distros. Old packages. Regarding documentation, he wrote:

I felt the documentation was a bit scattered and I found myself digging through the release notes, installation guide, release announcement and wiki looking for details on Wheezy.

All valid complaints, to be sure, although the issue of "aged" packages in Debian Stable is a fact of life -- and, part of the deal. There are usually ways for users to get more up-to-date packages in Stable (via Backports, for example; or, as another example, by installing something like the latest Firefox directly from the Mozilla site). But, in the end, you simply can't have both "stable" and "cutting-edge."

He wrote, "In the coming weeks there will probably be a live CD released to accompany these install discs, though at the time of my trial the live CD was not yet available." But I had a Debian Live image downloaded within a few of days after Wheezy went final.

He reviewed only Wheezy GNOME, and wrote, "Debian comes with two graphical package managers which act as front ends to the underlying APT package handling system [Synaptic and "Add/Remove Software"]. Not really an accurate statement, though. Debian Wheezy GNOME comes with gnome-packagekit. In GNOME Shell's Activities overview, if you type "software" (or just "soft") you see the following software apps:

Add/Remove Software
Software Settings
Software Update
GDebi Package Installer

Add/Remove Software (the command is /usr/bin/gpk-application), Software Settings (/usr/bin/gpk-prefs), and Software Update (/usr/bin/gpk-update-viewer) are all part of gnome-packagekit, which, of course, is not included in Wheezy Xfce. He didn't even mention GDebi, which is also a GNOME app that doesn't come with the Xfce version.

Jesse mentioned having a problem with his repository sources. He said when he first went to update the system, he found that the "installation DVD was still listed as a package repository":

...and this appeared to be short-circuiting the update process. I attempted to remove the Debian DVD as a source and found the utility would not permit the removal of the DVD as a package source. Whenever the checkbox was cleared it would be automatically re-enabled. At this point I dropped to a command line and manually edited the APT package sources file and set it to use the remote repositories exclusively. From then on I was able to check for updates and install new packages without any problems.

I think that he would have been able to remove the DVD from the list of sources via Synaptic just as easily as manually editing his sources.list file, but it would have been good if the approach he first tried (using the "Software Sources" tab in the Software Settings app) would have worked. In any case, it should be noted that after installing Debian, you might want to go back and check your sources.list file (and edit it, if necessary) before updating the system.

At least he had positive things to say about Wheezy's stability, performance, and so forth:

Debian is surprisingly light for a modern distribution and it is blindingly fast, both when it is booting and when logged in. The system is quite clean, responsive and comes with a decent collection of software. The Stable branch of Debian lived up to its name and I did not encounter any lock-ups, application crashes or other frustrations after my first day with Wheezy. The distribution stays out of the way, performs quickly and comes with a huge amount of software through the repositories.

Well, I've had Wheezy GNOME and Wheezy Xfce running here since late September -- quite a long time before Wheezy was finalized and released as Debian 7.0 (the current "Debian Stable"). It's been great -- stable and absolutely dependable.

It's true that it can be a bit difficult to find information about Debian, but for the most part, the information is out there, and a few good web searches will do wonders. Installation could no doubt be made easier and less time-consuming, but it really isn't so bad. I always plan for it to take about an hour -- and I take good notes during every step.

All of that makes Debian less easy to install than many other distros, but it's well worth it, and there are other distros that are definitely more difficult to install. All you really have to do is read and follow instructions, take your time, and take good notes. Then sit back and chill for a few years, because it's highly unlikely that Debian Stable will ever give you any problems.

Many interesting and informative comments regarding Smith's review can be found in this week's DistroWatch Weekly comments section; just scroll towards the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

23 words

According to a research team, these words have been around for 15,000 years:

Listed by the number of language families in which they have cognates.

7 - thou
6 - I
5 - not, that, we, to give, who
4 - this, what, man/male, ye, old, mother, to hear, hand, fire ,to pull, black, to flow, bark, ashes, to spit, worm

Here's a link from the article at The Washington Post Health & Science section. And, from this page:

A research team led by Mark Pagel at the University of Reading in England has identified 23 “ultraconserved words” that have remained largely unchanged for 15,000 years. Words that sound and mean the same thing in different languages are called “cognates”. These are five words that have cognates in at least four of the seven Eurasiatic language families. Those languages, about 700 in all, are spoken in an area extending from the British Isles to western China and from the Arctic to southern India. Only one word, “thou” (the singular form of “you”), has a cognate in all seven families.


Fascinating web site: North American English Dialects, Based on Pronunciation Patterns