Sunday, December 21, 2014

xfce's built-in random wallpaper changer

I'm using the built-in random wallpaper changer in Xfce 4.10.3 in Arch; not the greatest, but it works. 

It can't pull random images from a directory; I found that I had to create an image list file. This can be done manually by creating a text file (looks like you can name it whatever you want) where the first line of the file is:

# xfce backdrop list

Then, on each line after that, add a filename for a wallpaper image (use the full path). For example, the contents of the image list file can look something like this:

# xfce backdrop list

Then go to the Background tab in Desktop Settings (Menu > Settings > Desktop > Background tab):

In the "Image" section, select "Image list."

There won't be any wallpapers displayed under "Images" yet; the third button below the list of images allows you to "Create a new list, or load an existing one":

Click on that button, navigate to the image list file you just created, select it, and click "Open." Your desktop should now be displaying one of the images from your image list file.

Choose a style from the "Style" dropbox:

Select "Change the background (in minutes)" and enter a time interval. Mine is set to change every hour.

Alternatively, the image list file can be created by clicking on the "Create a new list, or load an existing one" button, choosing a directory for your image list file to go in, typing in a name for the image list file, and clicking the "Open" button. Then use the "Add an image to this list" button to add wallpaper images:

If you then open up the image list file in a text editor, you'll see the filenames of the wallpaper images that you just selected. Mine looks like this:

Later, you can add new images to the list manually (using a text editor) or by using the GUI's "Add an image to this list" button; either way works fine.

If you don't want to wait for your desktop background to change according to the time interval you've set, the following command will reload Xfce and randomly select a new wallpaper image from your image list file:

$ xfdesktop --reload

I create a panel button or a menu entry that uses that command, and I just click on that whenever I want to change to a new, random wallpaper.

I've noticed that the wallpaper changer GUI can be a bit buggy. For example, I see in the list of images that the last wallpaper is shown multiple times even though there's only one line for it in my image list file:

That seems to be a minor issue. Still, some users will not be satisfied with Xfce's built-in random wallpaper changer, and will want to install something else to use, like maybe the Variety Wallpaper Changer (see: I haven't tried Variety in Arch (I do use it in a few other distros), but it's available from the Community repo:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

spacefm still comatose

Still no news about the SpaceFM file manager. Its developer, IgnorantGuru, announced a "hiatus" from his public projects back in April, and there's been no work done on SpaceFM since then. I wonder if IgnorantGuru will ever come back to the project. I've seen some updates coming down the pipe in Arch every now and then -- maintenance updates, I guess -- but that's it.

I'm still using SpaceFM, and it's still working fine; but, for future installations, I'm gonna go back to using Dolphin, even for non-KDE installations. (That's the only file manager I'm using in openSUSE 13.2 KDE, by the way.) I do like the Sunflower File Manager, but not as much as I like Dolphin, and I figure that there's a better chance that Dolphin will be around long-term than there is that Sunflower will. Even with all the KDE stuff Dolphin brings in, it's still worth it to add Dolphin to non-KDE installations; in my opinion, Dolphin's the best Linux file manager out there.

"Small" or "one-man" projects can be great but it stinks when they die.

Some links:

IgnorantGuru's blog:

SpaceFM home page:

Arch Linux forums thread: "SpaceFM - A Customizable File Manager"

Monday, December 1, 2014

current installations

Here are the distros I currently have installed, across four different computers; desktop environments/window managers as shown:

- HP G72: Debian Wheezy Xfce

- Compaq Presario CQ56 (a): Debian Wheezy GNOME; Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Unity; also GNOME Shell); Arch Linux (Xfce); openSUSE 13.2 KDE (also Fluxbox); Bridge Linux (Xfce; also Window Maker)

- Compaq Presario CQ57: Kubuntu 12.04 LTS (KDE; also Openbox); Debian Wheezy KDE (also Openbox); ArchBang (Openbox)

- Compaq Presario CQ56 (b): CrunchBang 11 ("Waldorf") (Openbox)

Sometime soon -- probably in early 2015 -- I plan to replace the Debian Wheezy installations with Debian Jessie, which is still in the "Testing" stage. I like to move from Stable to Testing once Testing has been "frozen," but this time around I might wait until Jessie moves to Stable, just so that any systemd bugs in Debian have been taken care of.

Not sure yet if I'll continue on with CrunchBang when the Jessie-based release comes out. That certainly depends on whether or not the developer, Philip Newborough (aka "corenominal"), decides to continue on with the project, and what direction he decides to take. I'm hoping that he'll stick with Openbox, which I really enjoy using. I think it would also be nice if he offered Fluxbox. If Newborough drops the project (hey, it could happen!), or if he switches to Xfce for the default DE, I'm thinking that I might switch to the MEPIS/antiX project called MX; if I do, I might add Openbox or Fluxbox to that.

All four of my computers -- they're all considered to be "notebooks" -- are very similar; they seem to belong to the same family of laptops. They're all very Linux-friendly, and have worked out fine with every distro I've thrown at them. As you can see above, I actually own two CQ56 notebooks. One thing to note is that I don't know how well wifi on any them works with the distros installed; I've stuck with using an ethernet cable in each case -- just seems easier for my situation. I use my laptops/notebooks only at my desk.

I consider Debian Xfce to be my "primary" system, but each of the distros here has been great. I think I actually spend more time using Arch (and the Arch-based Bridge and ArchBang) than anything else, but lately I've been using openSUSE (which I'm posting from at the moment) quite a bit, mainly because openSUSE 13.2 is my most recent installation.

Besides the Debian and CrunchBang (or possibly MX) installations (when I'll go from Wheezy to Jessie), I don't foresee doing any other distro installations in 2015, unless I decide to upgrade Kubuntu 12.04 to the 14.04 release. More likely, I'll be installing new releases of Ubuntu and openSUSE in 2016, when Ubuntu 16.04 comes out, and when openSUSE 13.2 reaches its End Of Life. I'm thinking that I'll stick with my current Kubuntu installation until the 16.04 release. Arch, Bridge, and ArchBang are rolling-release distros, so there should be no need to re-install -- in theory, at least.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

more 13.2

Added Fluxbox to openSUSE 13.2.

Fluxbox isn't in the main openSUSE repos, but it can be found in the X11:windowmanagers repo once that's added. Or -- and this is one cool thing about openSUSE -- users can just go over to the openSUSE Package Search site and take advantage of the handy One-Click Install feature:

That adds the repo and installs the package. Nice!

Monday, November 17, 2014


I replaced openSUSE 12.3 (KDE) with openSUSE 13.2 (KDE). I installed it using the Live KDE option at the Download page, rather than from the full (4.7GB) DVD. This release ships with KDE 4.14.2.

A shot of the default desktop:

And after some customization:

Monday, November 3, 2014

college football and tradition

So many people keep saying that the Big Ten Conference needs Michigan football to return to a position of dominance.

Why? Why return to something like the days of the Big Two (Ohio State and Michigan) and the Little Eight (everybody else in the conference)?

Why do college football fans long so much to keep things the way they were? What is this attachment to tradition all about?

The problem I have with "tradition" is that sometimes it keeps you stuck in the past while the world is changing around you. Further, many times we try to hold on to traditions even when those traditions are not necessarily good for everyone.

A college football landscape where the same old teams rule -- many people think that's a tradition that we need to keep. Not me. I'd like to see Indiana or Northwestern or Purdue string together three or four consecutive Big Ten titles. I'd like to see Vanderbilt win the SEC a few times, or Oregon State and Washington State ruling the Pac-12 for awhile.

I'd even like to see the name of the Big Ten Conference changed to something else. Let go of the past; the conference has had more than ten teams for over two decades now, and currently includes 14 schools from 11 different states. Guess what, folks: Bo and Woody are not coming back.

Change happens, and that's a good thing. The ruling class will always want things to remain the same, while the lower classes will always strive to upset the equilibrium and get a piece of the action. Poor people don't want to remain poor; slaves want to be free. Nobody wants to be told to "know your place."

The Big Ten is not what it once was. College football is not what it once was. The world is not what it once was. The time comes when it's simply best to deal with reality and move on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

no thanks, mint

The "crippled" Synaptic Package Manager that Linux Mint ships with has been one of the main reasons I've stayed away from the distro since I stopped using it after the Mint 9 ("Isadora") release. For users like me, it looks like things have only gotten worse. Here's Ken Starks in "Synaptic Vs. Update Manager in Linux Mint":

Mint had already made upgrades [using Synaptic] a bit more difficult by making you choose all apps with a ctrl+A command and then right click to update all apps. But now, you can’t do even that. The Mark All Upgrades button is completely missing. It wasn’t stripped out; from my understanding, Synaptic had been replaced by Mint’s version of Synaptic. You can search and install applications with it…you just can’t upgrade your system with it.


What I will gripe about is completely neutering Synaptic as an alternative method of system upgrade/update.

There was a work-around for the "crippled" Synaptic in Mint back when I was using it, and I think there's a different work-around now. But Linux Mint does way too much hand-holding for my tastes. Great distro, for sure, but it isn't for me.

In the comments following the article, one person wrote:

Mint forks a huge number of packages from the Debian/Ubuntu repos. Synaptic installs the Debian/Ubuntu versions from the Debian/Ubuntu repos, and the Mint update manager/package manager installs the Mint version from the Mint repos. A full upgrade using synaptic would result in a Ubuntu/Mint hybrid. If you have ever noticed when upgrading with synaptic in mint that it will ask to keep the original config (mint version), or install the package maintainer’s config.

Okay, I can understand that. So, why even include the "crippled" Synaptic in the default Mint installation? Leave it up to the user to decide whether or not to use Synaptic the way it's supposed to be used. Don't make the user have to jump through hoops to do this. If the user wants to install and use the real Synaptic and risk borking Linux Mint, that should be up to the user to decide.

No other distro that I'm aware of does what Mint does to Synaptic. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth back when I was running Mint. I actually liked the distro, for the most part. But as long as the Mint devs feel the need to protect users from themselves like this, I won't be going back. Thanks, but no thanks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

i was wrong

I was wrong in my earlier post. The systemd uproar continues: "Fork Debian" Project Aims to Put Pressure on Debian Community and Systemd Adoption


learning linux

I tend to want to remain quiet these days when folks talk about going from Windows to Linux. Long-time, experienced Windows users often struggle with Linux. They've spent years accumulating Windows knowledge, and it's difficult to accept that, in the same way, it will take a long time to really learn Linux. It takes time for things to sink in, and it takes time for the brain to stop thinking in Windows terms and to begin thinking in Linux terms.

One thing I did, I approached Linux with the thought that it would take at least four years to get to where I wanted to be. And that was indeed how it worked out. I kept looking at it as if it was a college program; after one year, I was barely moving on from freshman year to sophomore year, that sort of thing. After about four years, I had become pretty knowledgeable, but at that point I was only then ready for "graduate school," still not at "expert" level by any means.

Some will disagree, but my opinion is that a good approach is to find a computer that comes with Linux pre-installed, or to have someone install it for you, while keeping your Windows computer around for when you need it.

Another approach is to focus on live Linux sessions, especially if you can run Linux live with persistence. Again, keeping Windows around, untouched, while you learn.

And, lots of reading. Read the documentation that comes with Linux, read the documentation at the distro's website, read what's being written at the forums, read everything you can find. There are no shortcuts.

Not everyone is willing to do something like this. Especially folks who have been using Windows for a long time. You can do it, but you have to accept that there will be struggles, that you have to start at the beginning, with the fundamentals, and work your way up. You don't just switch over to Linux and have your Windows knowledge apply to the Linux world. It just doesn't work that way; completely different operating system.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

gnome shell favorites

Nautilus being named "Files" bugs me. Here's how it looks when my cursor hovers over Nautilus' icon on the Dash, in the GNOME Shell Overview (shots taken from Debian Wheezy):

Here, I've got Nautilus running, but "Files" is the name that appears on the top panel:

And if I search for Nautilus in the Overview, the "Files" icon is shown:

With dconf-editor, you can open ​ and look at the "favorite-apps" key. That key lists the .desktop files for the GNOME Shell "Favorites" that you see on the Dash in Overview mode.

The .desktop files are in the /usr/share/applications directory. Nautilus and PCManFM show the names of these files according to the value for "Name=" within each file (SpaceFM shows the actual file names, though). The names of the applications as seen in the Dash Overview, as well as on the Dash bar itself, are also taken from that line in each corresponding .desktop file.

So... Here, Nautilus was called "Files."

In /user/share/applications/nautilus.desktop, I changed Name=Files to Name=Nautilus.

I used the keystroke Alt+F2 to bring up the "Run" dialogue, typed r, pressed Enter. That reloaded the desktop, and now Nautilus is Nautilus. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

window maker menus

A tip about menus in Window Maker, from the Window Maker Guided Tour:

"Menus can be forced to remain open on the workspace by left-clicking the titlebar. This creates a close button on the titlebar."

For example, here's my root menu, with the close button showing:

You can force a submenu to remain open:

And you can move menus and submenus around on the desktop, keeping certain ones open for your convenience:

Another tip:

"The keyboard can be used to open and move through some of the menus. For instance, the root menu can be opened using F12 (default setting). The Up and Down arrow keys can then be used to navigate through the menu or the Left and Right arrow keys to jump between parent menus and submenus. Hitting the Enter key executes the selected item. the Escape key closes the menu or stops menu traversal."

For more info, see

Monday, September 22, 2014

random wallpaper script for nitrogen

Tested this in Openbox in Kubuntu 12.04. Create the following script, substituting your preferred directory path for [wallpapers-directory], save the file, and make the file executable:

#! /bin/bash
ALIST=( `ls -w1 $WALLPAPERS` )
let "number = $RANDOM % $RANGE"
nitrogen --set-centered --save $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$number]}

I saved the file as /home/steve/wallpaper-script-nitrogen and added that command to ~/.config/openbox/autostart. I also added a “random wallpaper” entry in the Openbox menu (using the same command) so that I can switch to a random wallpaper on demand.

See man nitrogen and nitrogen --help for more info on options to use with the nitrogen command in the above script. This script should also work fine using feh instead of nitrogen. Thanks to "uname" for providing this in post #26, here in the CrunchBang forums.

Monday, September 15, 2014

international hoop

Article: NBA needs to pull stars from USA Basketball, which is showcasing only Duke's coach

I agree with that article in that it would be better at this point if basketball in the Olympics and the Worlds was an under-22 thing. The rest of the world has gotten better, but they really can't compete when the U.S. teams get serious about it.

Unfortunately, Wojnarowski turned the article into a Coach K hate-fest, which is ridiculous. I'm no Duke fan, but Krzyzewski's a great coach, he's done a great job with the U.S. team, and he's earned the right to be there.

This isn't about Coach K, it's about competition. Same thing I'm always saying about major college football programs scheduling cupcakes. It ain't no fun if the other team has no chance of winning. Why even play the game?

I don't know if "under-22" will make the tournaments more competitive, but it's worth a try. The Worlds were boring this year. They tried to act like Spain was gonna give the U.S. a tough time, and then Spain got upset and didn't even medal, and Team USA blew everybody out. That's a gold medal that you can barely be proud of. Waste of time.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

another controversy crushed

The Linux world has been in an uproar about systemd. People are acting like it's such an awful thing. Some are advocating a boycott of all distros that use systemd, or even a move to BSD distros. The whole thing has become a huge concern for many people.

Debian will be moving to systemd with the next release (Jessie). It's incredible to me that some people are saying that they're gonna move away from even Debian because of all this. I figure that the Debian devs know what they're doing. They certainly know a lot more about all this than I'll ever know.

So does Linus Torvalds, of course... and, alas, Torvalds doesn't seem concerned. Interview: Torvalds says he has no strong opinions on systemd

"I don't personally mind systemd, and in fact my main desktop and laptop both run it."

So much for that controversy. Next?

Friday, August 29, 2014


Earlier this month (see browsers, browsers...), I wrote about switching over from Chromium to Firefox. I haven't removed Chromium or any other web browser. I've been using Firefox most of the time. I want Firefox to be my main browser. I've added Pale Moon to only half of my Linux installations.

The problem is, in my systems, Firefox Australis is slower than Pale Moon, Chromium, or Iceweasel.

I'm in Wheezy GNOME today, and I was using Firefox earlier. Later, switched over to Pale Moon, and the words that come to mind are "blazing speed."

I'm disappointed in Firefox. I've really given it an honest chance this time around. The Australis interface isn't an issue here. But, I'm seeing a huge difference between Firefox and the other browsers in how long it takes web pages to load -- even with only one tab open.

Not cool.

In Wheezy Xfce and in Wheezy KDE, I have Iceweasel installed, but not Firefox or Pale Moon. I'm okay with Iceweasel's performance, so I think I'll keep using Iceweasel in those installations.

Firefox, though, is (sadly) very close to getting kicked to the curb. It's Pale Moon FTW.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Decided to take a look at a live session of the Wheezy-based Handy Linux (with Xfce 4.8) after reading this article: HandyLinux 1.6 - A sample of what you can achieve using the power of Debian

Very nice-looking presentation of Xfce on the desktop, as you can see.

I downloaded handylinux-1.6.1-686.iso. Got the md5sum and verified it:

steve[~/Downloads]$ md5sum handylinux-1.6.1-686.iso
6a82e0dc7aeec0e6135eb27bad708fc0  handylinux-1.6.1-686.iso

Created the flash drive:

# dd if=/path/to/archlinux.iso of=/dev/sdx

# dd if=/home/steve/Downloads/handylinux-1.6.1-686.iso of=/dev/sdb

With the flash drive plugged into the HP G72 notebook, I booted with the "[EN] Test HandyLinux" option.

First thing that popped up was the Keyboard Selector window. I chose "us English US."

The next window that popped up was the Welcome to HandyLinux window.

The Handy Linux Main Menu simplifies things a bit too much for my tastes.

It's easy enough to get to the Applications List from the Raiders tab.

Or just add the Xfce Applications Menu to the panel.

When I opened up Chromium, everything was in French, including DuckDuckGo and Gmail.

I went to Settings > Show advanced settings... > Languages > Languages and input settings button. In the Languages box, I put English (United States) at the top.

That took care of any language issues in Chromium.

Some comments by Gary Newell in the above-mentioned article (might be important for anyone planning to install this distro):

Incidentally, whilst running the live version of HandyLinux everything worked fine but after installing the full version to disk the HandyLinux menu wouldn't start when I clicked on it.

I therefore ran the menu from the command line and the message that appeared stated that the file "/home/user/.config/user-dirs.dirs" could not be found. To resolve this issue I ran a search for the user-dirs.dirs file using the following command:

find / -name user-dirs.dirs

The file was found in /etc/skel/.config/user-dirs.dirs. I therefore copied that file to /home/user/.config/user-dirs.dirs using the following command.

cp /etc/skel/.config/user-dirs.dirs /home/gary/.config/user-dirs.dirs

After copying the file, the menu started to work correctly.

As you can see in this screenshot, Handy Linux's repos are pure Debian Wheezy (plus backports):

Handy Linux is another attempt to make Debian easy for folks new to Linux. For the experienced Debian user, Handy provides a quick-and-easy installation, loads of default applications (my download was about 1.2 G), and Debian underneath, with the Debian repos available. Nice for folks who love Debian and who want to get a machine up and running quickly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

browsers, browsers...

Back in May, I was talking about going back to Firefox. Since then, I've kinda re-converted to the Mozilla side, although I haven't uninstalled Chromium or Google Chrome.

Here's how I have Firefox in Debian Wheezy GNOME:

I've also, since May, spent some time with some other web browsers, including Iceweasel (in Debian Stable), QupZilla, and Pale Moon.

Extensions found at Firefox's Add-ons site work in Iceweasel and Pale Moon. I like that part. For example, with the Hide Caption Titlebar Plus extension, setting up the "home" button and its floating menubar is the same in all three browsers.

While Firefox is currently at version 31-point-something, Iceweasel in Debian Stable is "way back" at version 24.7. To me, that's okay, as I think Debian provides security updates for Iceweasel. I really just use Iceweasel about the same as I'd use Firefox. Here's Iceweasel in Wheezy Xfce:

Pale Moon, a wonderful, lighter alternative to Firefox and Iceweasel, looks and feels a lot like using Firefox.

Nice article about Pale Moon: Want Firefox without Australis? Try Pale Moon
I used some of the instructions there to install Pale Moon here. In other words, I downloaded the .tar.bz2 file from the Pale Moon for Linux page at Sourceforge; extracted it to my home folder; opened a terminal, cd'd to the pminstaller directory, and ran the script (this can be run later to update, uninstall, etc.). Something like:

#  ~/pminstaller-0.1.5/


$ sudo ~/pminstaller-0.1.5/ gives you this GUI:

I found the palemoon package at the Arch User Repository (, but I used the method above to install Pale Moon in ArchBang.

Extensions I'm using in Firefox, Iceweasel, and Pale Moon: Adblock Plus, Flashblock, Omnibar, Xmarks, Tab Mix Plus, Hide Caption Titlebar Plus.

I'm also using Forecastfox in Iceweasel; it works in Pale Moon as well, but doesn't work in Firefox as of FF 29. For Firefox, I'm using Fastest Weather Forecast 0.1.3.

Right now, on my systems, Chromium and Google Chrome have taken a back seat to  Firefox, Iceweasel, and Pale Moon. It's good to be back to the Firefox ecosystem; hopefully it'll be a nice, long run.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

just a quick glance

Took a look at a live session of the Arch-based Manjaro 0.8.10 (Xfce). I downloaded manjaro-xfce-0.8.10-i686.iso, used Unetbootin to get it onto a flash drive, and ran it live on my HP G72 notebook.

Manjaro comes loaded with apps -- the download was about 1.1 GB. They include the Whisker menu, but the standard Applications menu is available via desktop right-click.

Thunar, showing the ~/Desktop directory.

Manjaro ships with Firefox.

I found 36 backgrounds in the /usr/share/backgrounds/xfce directory.

Here's a listing of what's found in the live session's Whisker menu:

Under the Accessories menu - Application Finder, Bulk Rename, Catfish File Search, Clipman, Engrampa Archive Manager, Galculator, HP Device Manager, Menu Editor, Mousepad, Notes, Orage Globaltime, Screenshot, Sensor Viewer, Task Manager, Thunar File Manager, Xfburn.

Under the Development menu - OpenJDK Policy Tool, Qt4 Assistant, Qt4 Designer, Qt4 Linquist, Qt4 QDbus Viewer.

Under the Education menu - LibreOffice Math

Under the Games menu - Steam.

Under the Graphics menu - GNU Image Manipulation Program, Viewnior.

Under the Internet menu - Avahi SSH Server Browser, Avahi VNC Server Browser, Firefox, HexChat, Pidgin Internet Messenger, Steam, Thunderbird.

Under the Multimedia menu - Audio Mixer, PulseAudio Volume Control, Qt V4L2 test Utility, VLC media player, Xfburn, Xnoise.

Under the Office menu - Dictionary, Document Viewer, LibreOffice, LibreOffice Calc, LibreOffice Impress, LibreOffice Math, LibreOffice Writer, Orage Calendar, Orage Globaltime.

Under the Settings menu - Accessibility, Adobe Flash Player, Appearance, Bluetooth Manager, Desktop, File Manager, Firewall Configuration, IceTea-Web Control Panel, Keyboard, Login Window, Majaro Settings Manager, Menu Editor, MIME Type Editor, Mouse and Touchpad, Network Connections, Notifications, Orage preferences, Panel, Preferred Applications, Print Settings, Privilege granting, Removable Drives and Media, Screensaver, Session and Startup, Settings Editor, Settings Manager, Window Manager, Window Manager Tweaks, Workspaces.

Under the System menu - Add/Remove Software, Avahi Zeroconf Browser, Bulk Rename, dconf Editor, Firewall Configuration, GParted, Install Manjaro Linux, Install Manjaro Linux (cli), Login Window, Manage Printing, Manjaro Welcome, New Login, Print Settings, Sensor Viewer, Software Update, Task Manager, Thunar File Manager, Xfce Terminal.

Looks like a nice distro, overall. They include more apps that I would ever want or need, but it's probably a good selection for their target users. I was thinking of replacing my Bridge Linux (Xfce) with Manjaro, but decided against it. Maybe I'll install Manjaro sometime in the future.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

glowing review

A glowing video review of MX-14 "Symbiosis."

Nothing but accolades for MX-14; no negativity here! The reviewer looked at MX-14.0, but MX-14.2 is now available. Here's the brief release announcement from the antiX main page:

1 July 2014

MX-14.2 "Symbiosis" bugfix upgrade release available

Upgraded bugfix versions (pae and non-pae) of MX-14 are now available. This version has fixed some bugs found in MX-14.1.1 and Debian upstream.

- LibreOffice updated to 4.2.5version
- Google search engine bug fixed.
- Toned down faulty hard drive error when installing.
- Image files open with mirage.
- wl modules for broadcom wireless now on the cd image.
- updated documentation.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

kubuntu's cousins

Links to a couple more reviews done by Arindam Sen:

Netrunner 14 "Frontier" Review: Looks and feels awesome to use with new animated wallpapers!

Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" KDE Review: Better than Kubuntu with pleasant aesthetics and superb performance

Sen clearly prefers both of these distros over Kubuntu. The most recent Kubuntu release I've run here is 12.04, which I still have installed, and I haven't tried Netrunner 14 or Mint 17 KDE. I figure that Sen's correct in saying that Netrunner 14 and Mint 17 KDE are better, overall than Kubuntu 14.04. For my purposes, however, Kubuntu 12.04 is good enough that I haven't found any reason to bother with Kubuntu 14.04, Netrunner 14, OR Mint 17 KDE! Whatever -- they all pull from the Ubuntu repos, anyway...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Arindam Sen likes it: Manjaro Linux 0.8.10 KDE and XFCE Review: Bang on target release after release!

Note the opening paragraph:

I have used a lot of rolling release distros in last 5 years, but, for production purpose, till recently, I mostly relied on only a few - Linux Mint, Debian and Ubuntu LTS. Primarily because the so-called "install it once only" promise hardly worked for most of the rolling release distros and they inevitably break or become unbootable after a couple of major upgrades. However, my experience with Manjaro Linux and Chakra Linux in the past 12 months have successfully changed that impression. These two Arch based distros survived 4 major upgrades and still running great, even with a whole lot of customization and niche packages that I installed.

What impresses me about this is that I've had a great experience with Arch Linux so far, and I consider it to be the best, most "stable" rolling-release distro that I've spent more than a few months with. Manjaro brings Arch packages into their (Manjaro's) own repos, so there's a bit of a buffer there that should make Manjaro even more "stable" than Arch. Makes sense, although this means (as Arch purists would say) that Manjaro is not Arch.

Sounds like a great distro. I may eventually install Manjaro here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

looking in on bodhi

I've never installed Bodhi Linux here, but I've mentioned it here before, a couple of years ago. Recently, I downloaded bodhi-2.4.0-64.iso, used Unetbootin to get it onto a flash drive, and fired up a live session. I used the "Default" boot option.

As you boot into the live session, you're presented with several "Profiles" to choose from: Bare, Compositing, Desktop, Fancy, Laptop/Netbook, Tablet, and Tiling. I chose the Laptop/Netbook profile.

As well, there's a choice from six themes. I chose the "A-EB1-Moonlight" theme.

Here's the desktop:

Navigating the desktop takes a bit of getting used to if you aren't used to Enlightenment E17, but it isn't really much of a problem. E17 in Bodhi looks great, too.

Bodhi kinda keeps to the minimum with the default apps. The .iso weighs in at about 690 MB. There's no office suite -- no LibreOffice, not even AbiWord or Gnumeric. There's Leafpad for text editing. Terminology is the default terminal emulator. The system comes with the Enlightenment File Manager.

For web browsing, they include Midori.

The Synaptic package manager is also included; I tested it out by installing the Chromium web browser. No problems there.

Bodhi 2.4.0 is based on Ubuntu 12.04; the next Bodhi release, presumably based on Ubuntu 14.04, is still in the beta stage. But 12.04 is an LTS (Long-Term Support) release that will be supported for a few years yet, so Bodhi 2.4.0 should be fine to use for quite some time. I took a look at Bodhi's /etc/apt/sources.list file; as you can see (I've included only the lines that are uncommented by default in the live session, below), everything comes from Ubuntu 12.04 ("Precise"):

deb precise main restricted
deb precise-updates main restricted

deb precise universe
deb precise-updates universe

deb precise multiverse
deb precise-updates multiverse

deb precise-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb precise-security main restricted
deb precise-security universe
deb precise-security multiverse

deb precise partner

deb precise stable
deb precise-getdeb apps games

Good-looking distro, from what I can tell, but I guess it's basically Ubuntu, when it comes down to it. For those who like E17, Bodhi's worth a look.


Interesting project. They're trying to port Android to run on a regular computer. I mean mainly for stuff like laptops, notebooks, and netbooks, but (I guess) not for your typical classic desktop computer. Although these days I use my notebooks as desktop computers. But don't let me digress here.

The development is at RC2 (that is, 2nd release candidate). It can be downloaded and run live or installed like any other Linux distribution. Cool, I do that kind of thing all the time.

RC2-level, in this case, as least, is too raw for me, so I'll wait awhile. But I'm curious, so I'll take a look at it later, on one of my notebooks. Maybe. I've read some reviews of the earlier release candidates, and as things stand right now, I don't see Android-x86 as being suitable for laptop/notebook use. It definitely falls short of what can be done with any of the many desktop environments currently available for Linux.

Also, it looks like Android-x86 involves too much Google for my tastes.

Still, this project is in its infancy; and, there's considerable interest, for whatever reasons. Potentially, it could actually work out.

I'd like to do a more in-depth blog post about it, but I don't want to have to jump through hoops just to do simple stuff like, for example, get screenshots and save them somewhere to use later. Here's what Dedoimedo wrote in his review of Android-x86:

To be able to record my activity with the system, I had to install a screenshot utility. Now, this worked just fine, however, I had to disable the system privilege escalation prompts in order to keep the screenshots clean. All right, so I had a bunch of images now, but no way to copy them from the virtual /sdcard device to a persistent storage. As I've noted earlier, Samba sharing worked only in one direction. The internal hard disk in my eeePC netbook was invisible. And I did not want to upload my files to my Google account.

So what I did was connect an 8GB micro-SD card using an SD card adapter. Android automounted the storage card to /mnt/USB, however with root privileges. So I had to open the terminal emulator, su myself and then do a classic command-line copy from the virtual SD card to a real one. But this worked, and now you enjoy some lovely screenshots.

See, I read all that and say, "Aw, hell naw."

In any case, like I said, I might take a look at all this later. For now, here's a link to their website:

Some screenshots:

And, a couple more reviews:

From LinuxBSDos: Android-x86 4.4 review – first Release Candidate

From LinuxInsider: Android-x86 Just Might Make a Good Linux Desktop Alternative

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

for the most part

Steven Rosenberg concludes his article "Fedora is remarkably stable despite a constant flow of new" by saying, "But for the most part, it works."

That falls in line with my experiences; my first Fedora release was F14, and from there I ran each release through F18. As Rosenberg notes, sometimes things go wrong. "...kernels, applications and lots of other components are new, new, new," he writes; several times with Fedora, I had to revert to using an older kernel because the most recent one sent down the pipe didn't work out here.

Writing about Mat Enders' comments about Fedora in a recent episode of Sunday Morning Linux Review, Rosenberg says:

Mat's point, more specifically, was that he has less trouble with Fedora than he did with Debian Sid, the "Unstable" release that gets new packages all the time.

What's notable is that Fedora is almost always ahead of Debian Sid when it comes to newness. (It's not ahead of Arch, but what is?)

However, so far I seem to be having less trouble with Arch than I had with Fedora. And, while Arch might be more difficult to install than Fedora, it's a rolling-release distro; in theory, you could go years rolling with the same installation.

Not to knock Fedora here, though; I enjoyed using it. I'd probably still be running it, if I wasn't running Arch, and I may even get back around to Fedora at some point. I'm a Debian person when it comes to my production machine, where I need "solid and stable," but one thing I liked about Fedora was getting to try out new stuff -- especially newer versions of KDE and GNOME.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

mint will be "LTS-Only"

Clement Lefebvre has made the following announcement:

The decision was made to stick to LTS bases. In other words the development team will be focused on the very same package base used by Linux Mint 17 for the next 2 years. It will also be trivial to upgrade from version 17 to 17.1, then 17.2 and so on. Important applications will be backported and we expect this change to boost the pace of our development and reduce the amount of regressions in each new Linux Mint release. This makes Linux Mint 17.x very important to us, not just yet another release, but one that will receive security updates until 2019, one that will receive backports and new features until 2016 and even more importantly, the only package base besides LMDE which we’ll be focused on until 2016.

Excellent plan. I stick with the LTS (long-term support) releases of Ubuntu, and I did the same when I used Linux Mint. This should free up some time for the Mint devs, who will no longer have to work on those "in-between" releases.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

it's always the refs!

Clippers led OKC 101-88 with just over 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Couldn't seal the deal. Got outscored 17-3 the rest of the way and lost 105-104. 

Questionable calls at the end? Pfft. Handle your business and don't leave the game in the refs' hands. After the game, it's always only the losers whining about the refs. Key word being "losers."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

back to firefox?

Back when I used Windows XP, someone told me about Mozilla's Firefox web browser, which had recently come out. That was the first time I'd heard of open source software. I started using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, and as I became more aware of other open source projects (OpenOffice was something else I started using at about that time), I found out about Linux, which kinda left me with a sentimental attachment to Firefox -- in a way, it led me to using Linux. It was the first step I took in that direction, anyway.

Later, Chromium and Google Chrome were released. I liked that interface even better than Firefox's (I also liked the way Chromium/Chrome started up so much faster than Firefox did); I've been using mainly Chromium as my default web browser for about five years now. So much for that sentimental attachment; I guess I'm not really much for brand loyalty.

It might be time to switch back to Firefox. Mozilla recently released Firefox 29; the interface is somewhat similar to how Chromium/Chrome looks, with the tabs placed up at the top and the so-called "hamburger menu button" to get to the browser's settings.

A few more add-ons (Omnibar, Tab Mix Plus, and Hide Caption Titlebar Plus) give me a Firefox browser that looks and performs almost like Chromium. Here's my set-up in Kubuntu 12.04, using Openbox:

Lots of people are very unhappy -- even angry -- with the changes Mozilla brought with Firefox 29, but I'm thrilled and excited. For the first time in a long while, I'm seriously considering switching back from Chromium and making Firefox my default web browser again. I'm gonna take a closer look and spend more time using Firefox over the next week or so, but so far I'm quite pleased with what I'm seeing. Looks like Mozilla may have won back this former Firefox devotee!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

cut off

Here's something I don't like about GNOME Shell:

Truncated application names in the Activities overview (shot from GNOME 3.10 in Ubuntu 14.04). Not a big issue, but it can be kinda annoying.

trusty screenshots

I finally decided to go ahead and install Ubuntu 14.04 ("Trusty Tahr"), Ubuntu's latest LTS release. Here's what my default desktop looked like:

I went to System Settings > Security & Privacy and basically turned everything off, and that pretty much took care of the online search stuff and all that. Easy enough.

I added compizconfig-settings-manager (haven't used it, though), Nautilus-Actions Configurations Tool (haven't used that yet, either), Ubuntu Tweak, Unity Tweak Tool, Synaptic, SpaceFM, Variety wallpaper changer, and a bunch of other things.

Overall, Trusty looks pretty good, but not perfect. These LTS releases tend to get better with time, though. This screenshot shows the "Utilities" quicklist that I added in Unity:

I also added GNOME Shell:

I spent a lot of time tweaking, but for the most part I've got things set up nicely. I'm definitely having a lot of fun with Ubuntu 14.04; looks like it'll be great to use over the next few years.