Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Great interview with Malcolm Moore, Network Manager at Westcliff High School for Girls Academy, in England: A year of Linux desktop at Westcliff High School

Westcliff began switching its "student-facing computers" to Linux (using KDE) about a year ago. They're using openSUSE. Looks like it's working out well!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Kwheezy was added to the the DistroWatch database this week. Ladislav Bodnar wrote, "Kwheezy is a Debian-based Linux distribution with an intuitive KDE desktop and a good selection of GNU/Linux and open-source software. It also includes popular device drivers, media codecs and browser plugins, all pre-configured and ready for use at first boot."

Kwheezy gives you Debian 7.1 (Wheezy) with KDE and a ton of other goodies (the 64-bit .iso comes in at a whopping 3.7 GB), and it's supposed to be easy to install. Yesterday, I tried a couple of times to download the 32-bit .iso, but the servers were so busy that I gave up; I'll try again some other time.

This distro is potentially a good alternative to something like Mepis, which still doesn't have a Wheezy-based release out, sadly (apparently, Mepis is still alive, but its small group of followers must certainly be running out of patience with the slow rate of development and the frustrating trickle of communication coming from its developer -- like I did months ago). I probably won't install Kwheezy here because I already have Wheezy KDE, but I do want to take a look at a live session. Kwheezy could turn out to be a nice project, especially for beginners, or even for more experienced users who want a quick and easy Debian KDE installation.

The Kwheezy web site:

Kwheezy's page at DistroWatch:

Monday, July 29, 2013

sabayon 13.04

Updated my Sabayon system today, but then was unable to boot into the system. After examining the situation, I decided to reinstall. Downloaded Sabayon_Linux_13.04_x86_KDE.iso and installed it.

The initial installation wasn't too difficult or time-consuming (installing it to the hard drive from a DVD took about 20 minutes), but setting things up after that took some hours -- all afternoon, really.

Anyway, I got everything finished up, pretty much. I still want to set up Fluxbox, which comes with Sabayon, but that won't take long; I copied the files from the previous installation.

Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this installation going for at least as long as the last one, which survived for about 13 months. I think I would have been able to keep that one going longer, but I think I made some mistakes over the past year or so that eventually led to today's breakage; I couldn't see how to easily get things fixed, so I figured it was time for a fresh installation.

After getting everything set up and bringing in all the updates, I once again have a beautiful Sabayon desktop, with KDE 4.10.5.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

bye, touchpad (part 2)

In "bye, touchpad" I wrote about turning off the touchpad (when there's a mouse plugged in) in Debian Wheezy KDE, which has KDE 4.8.4 and kde-config-touchpad 0.8.1 . The situation is similar in Kubuntu 12.04, with KDE 4.8.5.

I like things better in Chakra, with KDE 4.10.4. System Settings > Input Devices > Touchpad > General tab > turn the touchpad off > click "Apply." That's it. Just how things should be.


The Ubuntu forums remain down -- well, the latest word is that they're "up running again and being tested privately by Forum administrators." In the meantime, Ubuntu fans might want to check out Ubuntu Discourse. Fairly new, and still considered to be "in testing," but it looks like a good place to go to discuss Ubuntu-related stuff.


Friday, July 19, 2013

bye, touchpad

In Debian Wheezy KDE, I was trying to find ways to disable my notebook's touchpad, which I don't like to use at all. I installed kde-config-touchpad, which adds the Touchpad module in System Settings > Input Devices. But I could see nothing in the module for disabling the touchpad.

But, opening up synaptics from KDE Menu > Utilities opened a window with the same touchpad configuration module plus a "Touchpad management" tab. In Touchpad management, I put a check in the box next to "Automatically switch off touchpad, if a mouse is plugged," and that worked.

I found that Kubuntu 12.04 included kde-config-touchpad by default, so I used the same steps there to disable the touchpad in Kubuntu.

Alternatively, I found that it's possible to set the touchpad to be disabled only during typing by running the following command:

$ syndaemon -d

This disables the touchpad for 2 seconds after the most recent keystroke; 2 seconds is the daemon's default. To change this "idle time," use:

$ syndaemon -i n -d

where n is the idle time in seconds.

See man syndaemon.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ms. sharp

I love it. Somebody (Sarah Sharp) calling out Linus Torvalds on his abusive, foul language. I'm following the conversation in this thread.

Sharp writes, "Violence, whether it be physical intimidation, verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable.  Keep it professional on the mailing lists."

But Torvalds probably won't change, as he shows in this post:

Yes. And I do it partly (mostly) because it's who I am, and partly
because I honestly despise being subtle or "nice".

The fact is, people need to know what my position on things are. And I
can't just say "please don't do that", because people won't listen. I
say "On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle", and I mean
it [...]

I'm with Ms. Sharp on this, 100%:

"You are in a position of power.  Stop verbally abusing your developers."

Grow up, Torvalds. You may be the "Father of Linux," but your behavior can be pathetic, childish, and shameful. Other intelligent people manage to communicate without verbal abuse and foul language. Why can't you?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

back to firefox?

Speaking of Firefox, with the way I feel about all things open source, FOSS (free and open source software) or FLOSS (free/libre open source software) or however people want to put it, I've been feeling like I should be going back to using Firefox, and not Google Chrome so much.

As things stand right now, I do try to use the Chromium web browser (which is totally FOSS, and which Chrome is based on) instead of Chrome, but at times I fall back to using Chrome, like if the Linux distro I'm using at a given moment doesn't provide an up-to-date Chromium in its repos.

Several of the distros do, though. So when I'm using those, I use only Chromium.

Anyway, I started firing up Firefox again, sometimes.

Frankly, I still like using Chromium and Chrome better. Firefox is slower, at least for me, especially when I first open it up. I've been using Chromium/Chrome for so long now that I kinda have a hard time getting used to Firefox's layout. And I definitely prefer the way Chromium and Chrome handle tabs compared to the way Firefox handles them.

On the flip side, even though I don't use a lot of extensions/add-ons, and even though all of the ones I do use in Firefox have comparable extensions available for Chrome, the ones on the Chromium/Chrome side, while quite adequate, are really not quite as good, as polished, as the ones on the Firefox side.

On the one hand, I want to be practical and use the best tool for the job.

On the other hand, FOSS is my world. So, more of a focus on Firefox and Chromium; that's how I have to roll.


Madrid, Spain, the first Firefox OS smartphones, available now for about $90 bucks. Here's an article at The Washington Post.

This is great. Totally open source. Should drop in nicely as an option to what's out there now. While not competing directly with the iPhone or the Android smartphones, it does compete directly for "third place" among mobile operating systems -- against Blackberry and the Windows Phone, for example. 

Can't wait for this to hit the United States. Choice is good. But I know there are gonna be lots of people out there who are gonna want this to fail. I'll try to jump on it just like I jumped on the Firefox web browser several years back, and hopefully Firefox OS smartphones take off just like the web browser did.

Here's some info about it at The Mozilla Blog.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

latest fedora

One of my favorite Linux reviewers, Arindam Sen, takes a look at the Fedora 19 KDE, GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE 32-bit spins in Fedora 19 Review: Not flashy but very dependable, KDE being the best of the lot!

Sounds like, overall, F19 looks good; I'm not surprised. I had nice runs with the F14 through F18 releases.

Fedora's a great distro, but I've decided to pass on Fedora 19. Beginning with Fedora 14, I'd been keeping each of the two most recent releases installed here, running each release until its EOL (about 13 months). Usually, I switched between GNOME and KDE releases; for example, most recently, I had F17 KDE and F18 GNOME installed. This allowed me to get pretty good looks at recent developments with the GNOME and KDE environments.

But lately, I'm less interested in Fedora. I get the latest KDE in Sabayon and Chakra; I'm okay with older GNOME Shell versions (in Debian Stable and Ubuntu LTS); and, Arch Linux (via a couple of its derivatives -- Bridge Linux and ArchBang) has kinda steered me in another direction. Plus, unlike Fedora, with its approximately 13-month support cycle for releases, Sabayon, Chakra, Bridge, and ArchBang are all rolling-release distros. In theory, no installations of new releases required.

Still, Fedora's one of the most important distros out there, so I'll keep an eye on things, and maybe get back around to it later.

how strong is yours?

We've all seen those online password strength checkers; doesn't seem like such a good idea to type any of your actual passwords at those sites, no matter how trustworthy they might seem to be. But, check out this web page:

The idea here, as explained further down at that web page:

"Virtually everyone has always believed or been told that passwords derived their strength from having 'high entropy'. But as we see now, when the only available attack is guessing, that long-standing common wisdom  . . . is  . . . not  . . . correct!"

So, consider the two password examples given:



Note the number of characters in each of those examples -- the password length. The idea is that, contrary to what one might think, the first password is actually the stronger of the two. Here's what the authors of the web page wrote:

And here's the key insight of this page, and “Password Padding”:

Once an exhaustive password search begins, the most important factor is password length!

- The password doesn't need to have “complex length”, because “simple length” is just as unknown to the attacker and must be searched for, just the same.
- “Simple length”, which is easily created by padding an easily memorized password with equally easy to remember (and enter) padding creates unbreakable passwords that are also easy to use.
- And note that simple padding also defeats all dictionary lookups, since even the otherwise weak phrase “Password”, once it is padded with additional characters of any sort, will not match a standard password guess of just “Password.”

Fascinating stuff; and, that info might make you change the way you create your passwords (and eliminate any need for a password strength checker!).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

taking shape

Getting ArchBang installed and set up wasn't quite as easy for me as doing the same with Bridge Linux, but still, I'm quite pleased with ArchBang. I got a little help from the ArchBang forums, but the ArchBang and Arch documentation got me through most of it. The nice selection of tools that it comes with includes the tintwizard GUI for tweaking the tint2 panel. I've added a few of my favorite apps and configured things to my tastes a bit. A screenshot: