Monday, September 30, 2013

a couple of reviews

Distros based on Debian Testing aren't really my cup of tea, but from what I've read, the Testing-based SolydXK is certainly worth a look. They deliver two spins: One that comes with Xfce (SolydX) and one with KDE (SolydK).

Arindam Sen has posted reviews of the latest releases:

SolydX 201309 Review: Simple, effective and efficient, as good as Linux Mint!

SolydK 201309 Review: Rock-solid Debian spin offering KDE 4.11.1

I haven't tried SolydXK yet, but a lot of people are very excited about this new distro. Here's their DistroWatch page:

And, the SolydXK home page:


Linux users in the Santa Fe area might be interested to know of the New Mexico GNU & Linux Users Group. From their web site:

We are a user group in the Santa Fe area of New Mexico who are dedicated to the use of the GNU/Linux Operating System and other Free Software.

We meet every other Thursday to broaden our own, and others, knowledge of computing in regard to the GNU/Linux OS.

Meetings are held at Santa Fe Baking Company, over on Cordova Rd.

set in stone?

From the PCLinuxOS Knowledge Base; I think that #6 is particularly important:

The 10 commandments for Linux users

and the ROOT user did speak

1. Thou shalt not log in as root. Use “sudo” or “su -” for administrative tasks.

2. Thou shalt use the package manager when possible. Sometimes installing from source code can’t be avoided, but when you use your distro’s package manager to install software, you can also use it to update and remove it. This is one of the main strengths of Linux.

3. Thou shalt be a part of the community. Freely give what you have received for free. Offer help and advice whenever you can.

4. Thou shalt read documentation and man pages. Always read the documentation. The people who wrote the software tried to anticipate your questions, and provided answers before you asked.

5. Thou shalt use the available support system. Switching to Linux can be tough. It can be frustrating, but there are a lot of people out there who want to help you. Let them.

6. Thou shalt search. In most cases, your question or problem has already been addressed. Try to find the answers that are already out there before asking someone to provide a new one.

7. Thou shalt explore. Linux opens a whole new world of options and possibilities. Try everything you can.

8. Thou shalt use the command line, or at least try it. It is a very powerful tool and is not all that hard to use. Really!

9. Thou shalt not try to recreate Windows. Linux is not meant to be a clone of Windows. It’s different. Embrace and appreciate the differences.

10. Thou shalt not give up. I tried several distributions before I found one I liked. I still try other distros from time to time. I also tried several different programs to serve one purpose before settling on what I use now (amarok, xmms, beep, exaile for music – azureus, ktorrent, deluge for bittorrents). If you don’t like the defaults, remember that you can change almost everything to suit you.

resize an avatar

Found this trick over at the CrunchBang forums, where the maximum size for a forum avatar is 60x60 pixels:

$ convert -size 60x60 $TARGET -resize 60x60 +profile '*' $OUTPUT

The convert command is part of the ImageMagick software suite; the package imagemagick is in the Debian repos. See man imagemagick, man convert, etc. Additional information can be found at

Sunday, September 29, 2013

easy md5sum check

I've always checked my md5sums the hard way, by running

$ md5sum [filename-of-the-iso]

and then visually checking the resulting md5sum, digit by digit.

Duh. RTFM.

Well, today I downloaded GParted Live and found the following from their checksums page:

a2b1a962a7d8df4aab68c22618d7cb2c  gparted-live-0.16.2-1b-i486.iso


steve[~]$ cd Downloads/
steve[~/Downloads]$ echo "a2b1a962a7d8df4aab68c22618d7cb2c  gparted-live-0.16.2-1b-i486.iso" | md5sum -c -
gparted-live-0.16.2-1b-i486.iso: OK

Much quicker and easier.

Another approach (this one takes an extra step, but is really just as quick and easy) is to create a file (I'll name mine hash.md5) that contains the correct md5sum and the filename of the iso (with two spaces between the md5sum and the filename. The following shows the contents of my hash.md5 file:

steve[~/Downloads]$ cat hash.md5
a2b1a962a7d8df4aab68c22618d7cb2c  gparted-live-0.16.2-1b-i486.iso

To check the md5sum of the iso:

steve[~/Downloads]$ md5sum -c hash.md5
gparted-live-0.16.2-1b-i486.iso: OK

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Interesting article by Carla Schroder: "Roll Your Own Customized Ubuntu with UCK"

UCK is the Ubuntu Customization Kit. It allows you to build your own customized Ubuntu, and can be used with Ubuntu derivatives like Linux Mint. Here's a link to the Ubuntu Customization Kit web page:

Towards the end of her article, Ms. Schroder also mentions SUSE Studio, Linux From Scratch, and DebianCustomCD in the "Other Ways to Roll Your Own" section. Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the view from here

It just seems to me that when it comes to Ubuntu, Canonical, and Shuttleworth, quite a few people only see, and only talk about, what they perceive as bad, evil, stupid, or whatever. Nothing positive, nothing good.

Canonical and Shuttleworth are supposed to be so awful, so terrible, and yet when I sit down to my computer, their distro seems to me to be as good as anything else out there. I don't have problems with it crashing, or with things breaking when I bring updates in; I'm able to install it on just about anything; the documentation is great; I can get the apps I want or need; I can run just about any environment on it that I want; I can tweak it to my heart's desire.

And, it's free. I can use it to get my work done. If there's anything I don't like, I can turn it off or change it.

Just like any other distro.

It isn't perfect, but I'm not looking for perfection. I just need for it to be something that I can use, for it to be good enough to make me want to keep using it. And it is.

Having both Debian and Ubuntu running here, I feel, is to my benefit. One is better in some respects, the other is better in other ways. I feel like I have more freedom, more flexibility, using both than I'd have if I used only one or the other.

You know what, just like a lot of other Ubuntu users, I may not be the most knowledgeable guy out there, but I'm not stupid, either. I read what's written about Ubuntu, Canonical, and Shuttleworth. I understand their commercial intentions, and I'm not blind to the implications. I get it.

But I also see the other side. The positives. I see what I've got in front of me, and what I can do with it.

Just like anyone else, I weigh things out. I'd drop Ubuntu just like I've dropped other distros if I didn't think that it remained advantageous for me to keep using it.

I guess I wouldn't mind it so much if most of what I hear (or, rather, read) was like, "Here's the good, here's the bad, try it for yourself, maybe it'll work out for you, maybe it won't." But so many people only write about the bad, as if there's nothing good about Ubuntu at all, and it makes me want to say, "Wait a minute, I've been using it here for, what, something like seven freakin' years! What kind of idiot would I be to keep using something for that long if it was as awful as you say it is? I'm not the only one, and a lot of Ubuntu users are much more intelligent than I am and know a lot more about Linux than I do. So what's really going on here?"

Is Mark Shuttleworth going around pissing in everybody's coffee, or what? Why so much hatred and anger towards a distro that's free to use or to not use? If some people don't like Ubuntu, that's fine, but why do so many people who don't even use Ubuntu, or who quit using it years ago, seem to keep going out of their way to criticize it and ridicule it (and, in too many cases, its users)?

Rip the other guy to pieces -- there's nothing good about them. From where I sit, that's what's wrong with Linux: Tribalism, jealousy, elitism. End rant, I'm finished.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

tint2 and unity

tint2 has become one of my favorite panels to use in Openbox. I was browsing around this morning and stumbled upon this article: Running Tint2 under Unity (a Lightweight Taskbar)

Interesting idea. I haven't tried it yet; I'm okay using Unity without adding another panel. Might be useful to others, though.

Monday, September 9, 2013

two wolves

Thank you, Jonquil.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


The latest Ubuntu LTS release has received updates to version 12.04.3. Arindam Sen posted a review of Ubuntu 12.04.3 and one of Kubuntu 12.04.3 -- fresh installations in both cases. I've got fully updated installations of both of those running here, but mine are updated from the original 12.04 releases:

$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS
Release:        12.04
Codename:       precise

I prefer to stick with the LTS releases instead of using Ubuntu's "in-between" releases, and I found it interesting that Sen seemed to feel that 12.04.3 was actually better than the 12.10 and 13.04 releases. In the first of those two reviews, he says:

"Ubuntu 12.04.3 is much smoother to use than Ubuntu 12.10 or Ubuntu 13.04, the resource consumption is more than 50% lower in the LTS release. Further, compared to Ubuntu 13.04, Ubuntu LTS occupies about 60% less space."

Sen updated to KDE 4.11.0 in Kubuntu 12.04.3 (by default, it comes with KDE 4.8.5), and provided instructions for doing so in the second review, where he concluded:

"KDE 4.11.00 or not, the LTS release is still way better than Kubuntu 12.10 or 13.04."

I'm sticking with KDE 4.8.5 in Kubuntu because I'm already running 4.11.x in Sabayon and Chakra. Also, I'm happy with 4.8.5, although I have to admit that 4.11.x brings some nice improvements.

As always, Sen does a very thorough job with these reviews -- he's one of the best out there -- so anyone interested in these or other distros, do yourself a favor and check out his blog, Linuxed - Exploring Linux distros.