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.