Saturday, November 30, 2013

looking good

Just a glance at Linux Mint 16 "Petra" (Cinnamon), from a live session:

It does look very nice, and quite polished. Impressive. I used Unetbootin in Debian Wheezy to put it on a flash drive, and it runs quite well.

The last Mint release I installed here was Mint 9. I won't be installing this release, but I think it would be a nice choice for newbies, or even for experienced Linux users. Everything is set up quite nicely for the user to be able to get right to work.

Mint comes with the Nemo file manager, forked from Nautilus, and I think Nemo's an improvement over Nautilus.

The Cinnamon 2.0 desktop looks fine, easy enough to get around. Here are some shots of what's in the menu:

The live session looks good enough that I'll probably keep Mint 16 on a flash drive for awhile; might come in handy, as it includes all of the tools that I like to have in a live session.

Good job by the Mint folks!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

nice tutorial

Of course this gets posted after I've stumbled through my first Arch installations on my own: How to install Arch Linux - easy way

I tried two "test" installations on a spare computer, just to make sure I understood things, before going ahead with the real deal. I had browser tabs opened to the Beginners' Guide and the Installation Guide (from the Arch wiki) during my installation (I mostly followed the former) but I would have had this tutorial open on another tab. I liked reading through this tutorial, though, and comparing what was written there to my own installations notes, which are quite fresh in my mind. Most of the steps are the same, except I used GParted from Parted Magic for the partitioning, didn't set up sudo, and installed Xfce (not KDE). A few other things.

While it's good that people write articles like this, I'd say that it's important to refer to the wiki's guides first. In any case, this tutorial looks like a good resource that nicely supplements the official documentation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

yay for xfce lovers

Dedoimedo gives Xubuntu 13.10 a 9.99/10 score in this review:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

planet debian

Good Debian site, for those who have some time to kill: Planet Debian

Over 90% of what's posted there is completely over my head, but that's okay. Might learn a thing or two.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

keeping an eye on this one

When I first started looking into Arch Linux and Arch derivatives, Manjaro wasn't as appealing to me as Bridge Linux and ArchBang. I decided to go in a different direction because Manjaro was such a new distro, combined with the fact that Manjaro's packages come via Manjaro's own dedicated repositories (although I guess many or most of those packages originate from the Arch repos). Arch Linux has been around for a long time, and I figured that the best way to benefit from that longevity (aside from installing Arch itself) would be to go with Bridge or ArchBang, where the packages come directly from the Arch repos.

Still, Manjaro is a very interesting and attractive project, and I may want to run it in the future. Manjaro appears to have a strong development team and good documentation. The Manjaro Wiki article "Manjaro: A Different Kind of Beast" explains some of the differences between Arch and Manjaro, and notes: "An important benefit brought by Manjaro's use of its own repositories is that the developers will automatically implement critical updates on your behalf, and there will therefore be no need for you to intervene manually."

So, Manjaro aims to be more "stable" and more user-friendly than Arch, or even Bridge or ArchBang. It's getting a lot of attention around the Linux world, and I'm sure that the distro will be around for awhile. I think I might wait a year or two before trying it out for myself. Perhaps that'll happen sooner if I become unhappy with Bridge and/or ArchBang.

Here's Arindam Sen's review of Manjaro 0.87 Xfce:

Manjaro Linux at Wikipedia:

Manjaro's DistroWatch page:

And, Manjaro's home page:

another one-man distro goes down

Anthony Nordquist is ending the SalineOS project:

I decided quite some time ago; that I simply do not have enough free time in a day to complete all the work that needs to be done to make a release that lives up to my own quality standards. Working an over 40 hour a week job and trying to assemble a fully complete and just works Linux distribution is just entirely too much work for one person.

arch, archbang, bridge

I've been running Bridge Linux since February 2013 and ArchBang since June 2013. I like to spend a year or two with a distro to get a really good feel for it, but things have gone well enough with both of these distros that I'm becoming convinced that, along with Debian, I'll be using an Arch-based system for years to come.

I can't call myself an "Arch user" because I haven't installed "straight" Arch Linux. I'll probably do that at some point, but right now I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason to bother with a "real" Arch installation. ArchBang and Bridge get a user up and running with an Arch system much more quickly and easily; to me, it seems that installing Arch would involve extra, unnecessary time and effort, and I'd end up with an installation that wouldn't be much different (and perhaps no better) than what I've already got with either ArchBang or Bridge.

I don't know which I like better between Bridge Linux and ArchBang. ArchBang comes with Openbox, but other environments can be installed. ArchBang has been around a little longer than Bridge. ArchBang has more documentation, but that might not be so important because the user will refer to the Arch Linux documentation most of the time, anyway.

On the other hand, Bridge offers Xfce, GNOME, KDE, and LXDE/Openbox .isos (I've only tried Bridge Xfce).

In any case, both Bridge Xfce and ArchBang (with Openbox) are quite nicely done. I think that either environment is perfect for an Arch installation. Both distros include scripts to make it easy to get things set up. Bridge uses only Arch repos -- the [core], [extra], and [community] repos; ArchBang, along with those repos, includes the [archbang] repo, but I currently have no packages installed from that one (the command paclist archbang returns nothing). The Arch User Repository ("AUR") is, of course, available for both distros as well.

I think that eventually I'll want only one Arch installation, whether it's Arch, ArchBang, or Bridge Linux. Either one would be fine with me. For now, I'll keep both ArchBang and Bridge; I'm finding it helpful, sometimes, to be able to compare how things are done in each distro.

Friday, November 15, 2013

simple and clean

My Openbox set-up in Debian Wheezy (I added Openbox to the KDE spin).

Friday, November 8, 2013

canonical: make it opt-in!

People are outraged: Linux Outfit Canonical Launches Campaign to Silence Privacy Critic

About the title of the article: I'm fine with calling it what it is, but not so much with making something out to be what it isn't. From the same article:

The editor of the Ubuntu news site, OMG! Ubuntu!, says that Canonical’s email to “does make for uncomfortable reading,” but Joey-Elijah Sneddon believes that the company is trying to preserve its trademark rights, not silence critics. Although OMG! Ubuntu has been critical of the privacy issues, Canonical hasn’t sent him a nastygram. Were “Canonical really out to suppress criticism, they’d have given me a bit of a prod before now,” he said in an email interview.

As for the underlying issue, however, I agree with Micah Lee (see

Canonical employees: If this still bothers you, there’s a simple thing you can do to make me completely shut down the website. You can require users to opt-in to you collecting information about what they’re searching for on their own computers and then displaying ads to them about it, rather than violating their privacy by default. If people didn’t need to find websites that teach them how to opt out, there would be no reason for me to run

This is what I would like to see happen, but I've seen no indication that Canonical intends to go this route. I do hope that folks in the Linux community will continue to pressure Canonical to change this to an "opt-in" thing. Maybe Canonical will end up changing it; I figure they can't be enjoying the bad press.

In the meantime, the information that Lee provides at may be useful, and is worth repeating here:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses remote-content-search none; if [ "`/usr/bin/lsb_release -rs`" \< '13.10' ]; then sudo apt-get remove -y unity-lens-shopping; else gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"; fi; echo | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts; echo | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts;

What does this do?

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses remote-content-search none -- Turns off "Remote Search", so search terms in Dash don't get sent to the internet

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']" -- Turns off other remote Dash scopes, just in case (for Ubuntu 13.10 and newer)

sudo apt-get remove -y unity-lens-shopping -- Uninstalls Amazon ads built-in to Ubuntu (for Ubuntu 13.04 and older)

echo | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts; echo | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts -- Blocks connections to Ubuntu's ad server, just in case

Also, users might want to take a look at Dedoimedo's review of Ubuntu 13.10 ("Ubuntu is back with Saucy Salamander!"), where he says this:

As always, you can tweak the privacy options with a single toggle, so I don't see what the big fuss in the media about evildoing and privacy violations is all about really. People do themselves more harm just by using Facebook.

"Linux is about choice," people like to say. Folks can choose not to use Ubuntu -- nobody's being forced to run it. Or they can choose to use Ubuntu, but to run some other environment besides Unity and sidestep the entire issue. I'll probably choose to keep running Ubuntu, either by switching "Include online search results" off or by following steps similar to those mentioned by Lee.


I find it hard to believe that Canonical can't see the sense in reversing course on this issue. Keep complaining, people.

Update -- from Mark Shuttleworth (

This was a bit silly on our part, sorry. Our trademark guidelines specifically allow satire and critique ('sucks sites') and we should at most have asked him to state that his use of the logo was subject to those guidelines. 

Update: Steve George from Canonical had already responded at 

We are obliged to have SOME agreement in place with anyone using the Ubuntu logo. Rules for nominative use are subjective and thus a policy and agreements are required if we want Ubuntu to remain a defensible mark. It's a pain but that's the system. 

In this case we should just have said 'you may use the mark if you say that you are doing so with permission'. I guess a new guy made a bad call, but that happens and there's no point in beating Canonical up over an inadvertent slip.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

shopping crap

As I've mentioned before, I'm still running Ubuntu 12.04, so I haven't yet had to deal with the Unity shopping lens issue.

To remove it in 12.10 and 13.04, it was this simple command:

$ sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

There's no "shopping lens" to remove in Ubuntu 13.10 because the whole thing is part of the Unity Smart Scopes project. Individual "scopes" plugins can be disabled. And to disable all shopping results:

$ gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"

A few relevant links:

So, even though it still amounts to a simple copy-and-paste procedure, they made it more difficult, and now I'm ticked off.

I'll wait and see what happens with 14.04. There's a lot I like about Ubuntu, and I have a lot of options available that would allow me to continue enjoying the things about it that I like.

I could run the above command to disable the shopping results. I could add GNOME Shell or something else and use that instead of Unity. I could go with Kubuntu or Xubuntu or Linux Mint or Ubuntu GNOME to avoid the whole issue. I could just keep running 12.04.

Or I could just get away from anything related to Canonical. I've made sure not to let myself get too tied down to any one distro (besides Debian, I guess). I can take it or leave it.

I'll see how I feel next year, I guess. But I'm not so sure anymore that I'll be continuing on with Ubuntu.