Sunday, December 13, 2015

making the smart move

Sensible decision by Canonical. Will Cooke, the Ubuntu Desktop engineering manager, writes that "we’ve taken the decision to gracefully retire some aspects of the Unity 7 online search features."

Here's what Cooke says is changing (see "Online searches in the dash to be off by default."):

First of all online search will be off by default.  This means that out-of-the-box none of your search terms will leave your computer.  You can toggle this back on through the Security & Privacy option in System Settings.  Additionally, if you do toggle this back on then results from Amazon & Skimlinks will remain off by default.  You can toggle them back on if you wish.  Further, the following scopes will be retired from the default install and moved to the Universe repository for 16.04 LTS onwards:


The Music Store will be removed completely for 16.04 LTS onwards.

I've griped a few times before about the Unity Online Search being on by default -- see "shopping crap", and see "canonical: make it opt-in!", where I wrote, "I find it hard to believe that Canonical can't see the sense in reversing course on this issue. Keep complaining, people."

Canonical could have spared itself a lot of criticism if, from the beginning, they'd left it up to the user to turn on the online search stuff. Water under the bridge; good news.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

show me the video or it never happened

Presidential candidate Donald Trump claims he saw "thousands" of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey cheering the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

If it happened, somebody would have posted video of it online. Hey, we've got all kinds of '70s tv shows on YouTube, etc., etc.; but incredibly, nobody's ever posted footage of what Mr. Trump claims to have seen in 2001. Not even Trump's campaign people can find it. 

What a joke.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

ubuntu 15.10; fvwm-crystal in debian

Installed the new Ubuntu 15.10 release yesterday; first time I've tried a non-LTS release in a while. They've made some nice improvements here and there. Installation took only about 15 minutes even with choosing to download updates during the install; Ubuntu's still great for getting up and running quickly. Spent a few hours after that adding apps and tweaking things to my tastes, though.

A shot of the default Ubuntu 15.10 desktop:

And, after a bit of tweaking:

My only complaints so far:

- Couldn't find an option in the installer for not installing grub rather than installing it to the MBR or to the / partition.

- Still had to go through and turn off the Unity online stuff -- any of that should be opt-in rather than opt-out. This is the price you pay for using Ubuntu -- you have to know to go into the Settings to turn that crap off.

- Speaking of price, when you download Ubuntu from their web site, they try to get you to donate money right before the download begins. Two shots here show the top of the page and the bottom of the page:

You can say "Not now" and the download proceeds. I guess there's really nothing wrong with any of that, but I don't like it.

- History in Synaptic (had to add Synaptic since Ubuntu doesn't include it by default anymore) is broken. If you bring up Synaptic's History, the window is blank, no text at all in there.  Here's what it looks like:

That's messed up! Yeah, there are bug reports on this. Plus, an older bug is still present -- the left part of the window isn't showing like it's supposed to, unless you use the cursor to drag the bar over to the right:

Anyway, everything that's supposed to show up in that window can be found in the files in the /root/.synaptic/log/ directory, so this isn't quite a deal-breaker.

Even with those few complaints, I ended up with what looks like another great Ubuntu installation. I still have Ubuntu 14.04 installed on another computer, for the moment. 15.10 is supported for only nine months, but by then the next LTS release will be out, and I'll certainly be moving on to that.


On separate note, I installed the window manager fvwm-crystal in Jessie Xfce. Here's a shot of the desktop (default, for the most part):

Took me some time to (kinda) get a feel for how things work. Given more time, I might warm up to fvwm-crystal, but at the moment I don't like it very much and I'm wondering, "Why bother with all that when there's Openbox?" To which the next guy might reply, "Why bother with Openbox when there's Xfce?" :)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Kool DE

19 years ago (Oct 14 1996), Matthias Ettrich announced his new project, the Kool Desktop Environment (KDE), as noted in this Softpedia article, which includes the following screenshot of KDE 1.1:

Back then, folks were still using these:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

football -- this week's top three games - v.1.1

My top 3 college match-ups for this week:

#7 MSU (6-0) at #12 Michigan (5-1)
#8 Florida (6-0) at #6 LSU (5-0)
Arizona State (4-2) at #4 Utah (5-0)

My top 3 NFL match-ups for this week:

Cardinals (4-1) at Pittsburgh (3-2)
Bengals (5-0) at Buffalo (3-2)
Patriots (4-0) at Indianapolis (3-2)

Previous week's (v.1.0) top three games (NFL) results:

Arizona 42, Detroit 17
Denver 16, Oakland 10
Patriots 30, Dallas 6

Previous week's (v.1.0) top three games (college) results:

Michigan 38, Northwestern 0
Utah 30, Cal 24
Florida State 29, Miami (FL) 24

Sunday, October 11, 2015

rethinking the name of a holiday

The City of Albuquerque is one of about a dozen U.S. cities that have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day (See: "10 US cities ask: Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day?"  and Albuquerque's proclamation, in .pdf format, here.

Brown University student M. Dzhali Maier writes:

I’ve always thought Columbus Day was a celebration of the massive economic, political and cultural phenomenon known as the Columbian Exchange. What is this, you ask? The Columbian Exchange was the massive introduction of Old World organisms, culture and technology into the New World, as well as the game-changing introduction of New World plants and animals into the fields, gardens, minds and architectures of Old World Europe. 

These introductions, which still very much continue today, began with Christopher Columbus and his epic voyage to what he thought was India...


According to Wikipedia, "The term ['The Columbian Exchange'] was first used in 1972 by American historian Alfred W. Crosby in his environmental history book The Columbian Exchange." Charles C. Mann wrote a lot about it in 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.

I tend to agree with Maier's opinion: "Rather, keep Columbus Day. Celebrate the Columbian Exchange, not the man." Cristóbal Colón's voyages marked a turning point for the people of the world. I like the idea of an Indigenous Peoples Day, but not in place of Columbus Day.

make things a little bit nicer

To get transparency working in Fluxbox in openSUSE 13.2, I had to turn on "Pseudo-Transparency" (Fluxbox Configuration > Config > Transparency > Force Pseudo-Transparency):

From that same Transparency menu, you can then adjust the alpha for focused windows, unfocused windows, and the menu (alpha value: opacity increases to a max of 255).

You can also adjust the alphas for the slit and for the toolbar:

Then get yourself some coffee and get some real work done.

little free libraries

A couple of the "Little Free Library" boxes I'm finding around Albuquerque.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

lines in the sand

In  "The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely" at The Atlantic, Alex Tabarrok writes:

What moral theory justifies using wire, wall, and weapon to prevent people from moving to opportunity? ...No standard moral framework, be it utilitarian, libertarian, egalitarian, Rawlsian, Christian, or any other well-developed perspective, regards people from foreign lands as less entitled to exercise their rights—or as inherently possessing less moral worth—than people lucky to have been born in the right place at the right time.

Just imagine: no borders. Isn't that what John Lennon did, years ago?

Imagine there's no countries 
It isn't hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
And no religion too 
Imagine all the people living life in peace

football -- this week's top three games - v.1.0

My top 3 NFL match-ups for this week:

Arizona (3-1) at Detroit (0-4)
Denver (4-0) at Oakland (2-2)
Patriots (3-0) at Dallas (2-2)

My top 3 college match-ups for this week:

#13 Northwestern (5-0) at #18 Michigan (4-1)
#23 Cal (5-0) at #5 Utah (4-0)
Miami (FL) (3-1) at #12 Florida State (4-0)

tint2 panels

Check out this desktop (from here):

This user's got Openbox with three tint2 panels, all configured quite differently. I go with a much simpler look, but this kinda shows the coolness of tint2, different looks you can give it. All done with tint2's config file (~/.config/tint2/tintrc) (or in this case, I think the user must have worked with three tint2rc files, something like that), although I guess there's a GUI called tintwizard that's supposed to be good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

new mexico green chiles

Article from the BBC: Is the chilli pepper friend or foe?

Here in New Mexico, we know what to do with chiles -- put 'em on everything! "Red or green?"

And here, we know how to spell it. :)

easy on the eyes

antiX-15 is nice, but finally I decided to replace it with Debian Jessie's LXDE spin. I used debian-8.2.0-i386-lxde-CD-1.iso for the installation.

Here's a shot of the default desktop in Jessie LXDE:

I set up LXDE like this:

I like LXDE, but after awhile, I logged out, logged into the Openbox session, and set that up. Once again, I went with the tint2 panel, and I chose Nitrogen for handling wallpapers. This was a quick and easy process because I had config files for Openbox and Nitrogen saved from earlier installations; I just copied them over, tweaked 'em a bit, added a few other things (like obmenu, volumeicon-alsa, a script for random wallpapers, etc.), and everything was good to go. A couple of shots:

Simple, speedy, and set up nicely for getting work done. Kinda pleasant to look at, too.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

big ten, pac-12 football

Big Ten

Would you drop Ohio State from #1 and/or Michigan State from #2 after those close calls? I'd keep OSU at #1; whatever, they keep winning. Spartans, I don't know, maybe TCU or Baylor should get the #2 spot.

UofM QB Jake Rudock could face his former team if and only if Iowa (5-0, 1-0) and Michigan (4-1, 1-0) meet in the Big Ten Championship game. And, how cool would that be? Well, it's mathematically possible!

Who's got the best defense in the Big Ten? Maybe Michigan? In the four games after losing 24-17 at Utah, the Wolverines have given up 7, 7, 0, and 0 points. But Northwestern has also posted two shutouts (against Eastern Illinois and Minnesota), and held Stanford to 6 points.

Next three games for Michigan:
- Next Saturday, Northwestern (currently 5-0), at The Big House.
- Oct 17, MSU at The Big House.
- Oct 31, at Minnesota



Arizona: Are the Wildcats really this bad? Last two games, UofA gave up 56 to UCLA, then gave up 55 at Stanford.

Arizona State: Are the Sun Devils really this bad good? ASU lost at Texas A&M 38-17, lost to USC 42-14, then won at UCLA 38-23.

Already, only 3 teams remain undefeated in Pac-12 play: Stanford (3-0), Cal (2-0), and Utah (1-0).

Pac-12 teams play nine conference games; some teams (UCLA, for example) have to play 5 Pac-12 games on the road; others (USC and ASU, for example) get 5 at home.

Cal's remaining games look particularly rough: Road games at Utah, UCLA, Oregon, and Stanford, and home games against USC, Oregon State, and Arizona State. Yikes! On paper, that looks like a 1-6 finish!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

screenshot of lightdm login screen (debian jessie)

I was trying to get a screenshot of my lightdm login screen after I'd added Openbox to Debian Jessie Xfce. The steps I used:

First, I installed ImageMagic. From a terminal in an Xfce session, I ran:

# apt-get install imagemagick

Next, I created the file ~/, with the following inside:

chvt 7; sleep 5s; DISPLAY=:0 XAUTHORITY=/var/run/lightdm/root/:0 xwd -root -out ~/screenshot.xwd; convert ~/screenshot.xwd ~/screenshot.png; rm ~/screenshot.xwd

(In the above, chvt 7 is the number of the virtual console. It takes a screenshot 5 seconds after the script has been run and saves the screenshot to the home directory.)

Then, I made the script executable.

Then, to take the screenshot, I logged out of the system, pressed Ctrl+Alt+F1 at the login screen to go to console mode, logged in as the normal user, got root access, and ran the screenshot script:

# ./

Once the script ran, it took me back to the login screen and after five seconds it took the screenshot and saved it in the /root directory with the filename screenshot.png. (I then copied screenshot.png to my home directory.)

To do this, I (somewhat loosely) followed the steps I found in this article: How To Take Screenshot Of Login Screen In Ubuntu 14.04

Monday, September 14, 2015

basically, he just went to the rack

The great Moses Malone passed away this weekend at the age of 60. Malone was the first guy to go straight out of high school to play professional basketball when he was picked in the 1974 ABA Draft by the Utah Stars. His pro career spanned 21 seasons and included stints with two ABA teams and seven NBA teams, most notably the Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Malone was an ABA All-Star in 1975, and a 12-time NBA All-Star. He won three NBA MVP Awards, and won the NBA Finals MVP Award in 1983 when he led the Sixers to the title.

He was called "Chairman of the Boards," and for good reason: No player finished with more combined ABA and NBA rebounds. He led the NBA in rebounding six times in a seven-year span, including five straight times from the 1980-81 season to the 1984-85 season. The greatest offensive rebounder the game has ever seen, he led one league or the other in offensive rebounds nine times over the course of his career. He's the NBA record-holder for career offensive rebounds, single-season offensive rebounds, and single-game offensive rebounds.

Malone had per game averages of 24.8 points and 17.6 rebounds for the Rockets in the 1978-79 season, his first time leading the league in rebounds per game; in one game that season, against the New Orleans Jazz, he powered his way to a career-best 37 boards!

As a scorer, he averaged at least 20 points per game in 11 different seasons. His 31.1 points per game for the Sixers in the 1981-82 season was second in the league only to the great George ("Iceman") Gervin's 32.3 mark.

Old timers will fondly remember Malone's "Fo, fo, fo" prediction back in 1983; Malone was saying that the Sixers, who also had Julius ("Dr. J") Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, and Andrew Toney, and who had gone 65-17 during the regular season, would go undefeated in the playoffs. As things turned out, Philly went 12-1 in the playoffs and swept the Lakers in the Finals.

A short article at Grantland: Moses Malone: 1955–2015

Malone's bio at

And, here's a link to Malone's career stats page at

Sunday, September 13, 2015

just asking

The rational scrutiny of religious faith involves asking believers only two questions:

How do you know that?

What makes you so sure that the claims of your faith are right and the claims of other faiths are wrong?

-- Jerry A. Coyne, in Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible

Friday, September 11, 2015


Nice article from The Atlantic: Grace Jones’s Disciples

But as i read through it, I kept thinking about how the author was writing only about the image, the show, and not at all about the music.

I've never seen Grace Jones in concert; I've heard only three or four of her albums, and I have only two of those (Nightclubbing and Living My Life) left in my collection. Don't recall looking at much video of her, either. For me, it was really only about the music, the sounds, the words to the songs, all that. Those things alone were enough to make her special and unique.

Miles Davis used to talk about how it was all about the sounds, and few were as bold and creative with sounds as he was. The two opening cuts on Living My Life -- "My Jamaican Guy" and "Nipple to the Bottle" -- are perfect examples of this, and, to me, are up there among the best opening one-two punches I've ever heard on a music album.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

still not happening

Here's the deal: Back when I installed Ubuntu 14.04 last year, I also added GNOME Shell to it. Sometimes I log into Unity, other times I go with GNOME Shell.

In the GNOME Shell session, under System Settings > Brightness & Lock, I have "Dim screen to save power" checked, and "Turn screen off when inactive for:" is set to "10 minutes."

Yet, the screen never turns off. There's no problem in the Unity session -- the screen turns off after the time interval that I've set. But I can't get it to work under GNOME Shell. I've resorted to running the following commands:

$ xset +dpms
$ xset dpms 600

That'll make the screen turn off after 600 seconds (10 minutes) of inactivity. But I have to do that every time I start a new GNOME Shell session.

I haven't seen this issue with GNOME Shell in other distros, only in Ubuntu. I'm not sure if it has something to do with having GNOME Shell installed along with Unity, or if some other settings are messing things up, or if it's just a bug from Ubuntu.

I've actually given up on trying to find a fix. Next year when 16.04 comes out, I'll install GNOME Shell and see if the same thing happens.

Monday, August 3, 2015

simple panel

Playing around with fbpanel (for the first time in a long time!) in Openbox in Debian Jessie, I ended up with probably the simplest panel I've ever used. Placed at the upper left side of the screen, this panel contains time and date displays, a taskbar showing icons for running apps, a "show desktop" icon, a volume icon, and an icon for fbpanel's main menu.

I couldn't get fbpanel's pager to look nice in this configuration, so I decided to go without it. That works out fine because I can switch workspaces with the mouse wheel, with the cursor anywhere on the panel or on the empty desktop, and Openbox pops up a message showing me which desktop I've moved to.

A right-click on the empty desktop brings up my Openbox menu.

Here's a look at fbpanel's main menu:

If you install fbpanel in Debian Jessie, check to see if ~/.config/fbpanel/default has been created. If not, you can run the following, which creates the file from /usr/share/fbpanel/default:

$ fbpanel -p default

I edited ~/.config/fbpanel/default until I got a panel configuration that I liked, then added the following to ~/.config/openbox/autostart:

fbpanel &

For more info, see man fbpanel.

Might be time to switch back to fbpanel as my preferred panel for Openbox (I've been using tint2 for some time now).

Another look, after more tweaking:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

antiX installed

I downloaded antiX-15 and played around with the live session. I was impressed enough to decide to replace LMDE-2 (Cinnamon) with antiX-15 on one of my Compaq CQ57 notebooks. Overall, it's been a nice experience. The installation was so quick and easy that for once I didn't even bother to take notes. I've decided to use the "Space-Fluxbox" desktop for now. After a good amount of time spent tweaking, I settled on a set-up that works for me:

antiX's Control Centre is helpful for getting some things configured:

In some situations the user might prefer to just to edit config files directly:

So, now I have both antiX-15 and Lubuntu 14.04 LTS on this CQ57. Both are light-weight distros that do okay with the hardware.

antiX seems to have a lot more going on, from multiple desktop choices to the wealth of tools included by default to some of the creative configurations and ideas that make antiX so unique. I'd say that antiX would be best for folks with at least a moderate level of Linux experience.

Lubuntu, on the other hand, seems less complicated once installed; pretty much just Ubuntu with LXDE instead of Unity. But Lubuntu also seems a little less fun than antiX.

Many users will enable the Debian Testing repos and run antiX-15 as more of a rolling-release distro with newer software. I'll stick with the default set-up, with the Stable repos enabled; that should give me a problem-free installation for the next couple of years.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

good site for linux info

If you're looking for some useful information about Linux, you might want to check out the Easy Linux tips project. It focuses primarily on Ubuntu and Linux Mint, but there's quite a bit that will apply to other distros as well.

The website's author asks that users "configure your ad blocker to make an exception for this website," which I think is a fair request.

the latest from antiX

antiX-15 was released back around the end of June, but since I'm running several other distros (Debian, Arch, openSUSE, Ubuntu, LMDE, and Lubuntu) and I'm pretty happy with each of them, I really didn't give antiX-15 a second thought.

That is, until I watched this video from "dolphin_oracle": antiX-15 - What's New!

Well, as of this writing, I still haven't downloaded the iso and taken the release for a spin, but antiX-15 looks VERY interesting; I may have to look at in a live session, at the very least. If/when I do, I'll post a little more about it here.

For more info, check out the antiX Main Page, and especially the antiX-FAQ. You also might want to take a glance at the distro's DistroWatch page.

Friday, July 3, 2015

gnome shell help

Help for GNOME Shell desktop users:

The GNOME Help link on that page defaults to the current stable release of GNOME 3. Click the "Previous Versions" link for other choices. You can find which GNOME 3 version you're running by navigating to Settings > Details; you can also bring up the Applications Overview, begin typing "details," and click on "Details":

For example, I selected the 3.14.2 guide:

There, you'll find links to documentation covering many topics. For users who really want to become familiar with GNOME Shell, and with GNOME 3 in general, this is probably the first place to go. Dig around and read up; you'll find the visit well worth the time spent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

as stable as Stable?

Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 ("Betsy") and Debian Jessie (the current Debian Stable) differ in some important ways besides LMDE 2's quicker and easier installation and set-up. LMDE 2 is based on Jessie, but package updates are not handled the same as in Jessie.

The /etc/apt/sources.list file in LMDE 2 is essentially a blank document. The distro's official repositories are stored in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-package-repositories.list, which by default looks like this:

deb betsy main upstream import

deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free

deb jessie main non-free

deb betsy main

By contrast, my /etc/apt/sources.list file in Debian Jessie contains only the following lines:

deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free

I have no apt-pinning set up in my Jessie installation; the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ and /etc/apt/preferences.d/ directories are empty. LMDE 2 ships with the following files in /etc/apt/preferences.d/:

# /etc/apt/preferences.d/official-extra-repositories.pref

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: release o=LP-PPA-gwendal-lebihan-dev-cinnamon-nightly
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 700

# /etc/apt/preferences.d/official-package-repositories.pref

Package: *
Pin: release o=linuxmint
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 700

Package: *
Pin: release o=Debian
Pin-Priority: 500

So, there's a lot more going on in LMDE 2 than just Debian Stable. Basically, Mint packages (pin-priority 700) have priority over the same packages from Debian (pin-priority 500). Also, Mint's Update Manager (you're supposed to use that for updating instead of Synaptic) is set to allow only "safe," Linux Mint approved updates, according to Mint's "Levels" system:

This is actually a nice set-up because with all of the special Mint packages included in LMDE 2, you want to feel sure that updates won't break anything. LMDE 2 isn't "straight" Debian Jessie, but the added precautions (which, in the past, I've labeled as "excessive hand-holding") should, in theory at least, make LMDE 2 about as "stable" as Debian Stable.

not quite good enough

The Cinnamon desktop leaves me feeling a bit disappointed. I have it installed in Debian Jessie, and I also have an installation of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE 2) with Cinnamon.

Cinnamon's set-up includes a more "traditional" panel than GNOME Shell's, but still I can't do everything with it that I'd like to do. It isn't as configurable as Xfce's panel. I can't adjust the width so that the panel doesn't stretch 100% across the screen. Icons on the panel for running apps show icons plus text when I'd prefer icons-only.

I don't see how to show icons for apps running on all workspaces rather than only the active workspace. Because of that, when I've got apps running on multiple workspaces, it's actually easier for me to get around the desktop by bringing up the Expo view (using the upper-left hot corner) than by using the workspace switcher and the icons on the panel.

Expo would be about the same as using GNOME Shell's Activities overview, except the Expo view doesn't give me access to other applications like the Activities overview does.

With Cinnamon, some of the advantages of having a "traditional" panel are therefore lost. Cinnamon's is a better panel than GNOME Shell's, but since it still doesn't give me enough of what I'd want in a panel, I feel like I might as well be running GNOME Shell (which I'm quite comfortable using) instead. At any rate, GNOME Shell's Activities overview eliminates the need for some panel items like an application menu, application launchers, workspace switcher, and panel icons showing running apps -- for me, at least.

What I see in Cinnamon is a panel that isn't as good as several others you'd find in Linux, and an overview (Expo) that isn't as good as GNOME Shell's Activities overview.

I must say that one of the nicest things about Cinnamon is the Nemo file manager, which I like much better than GNOME's Files (aka Nautilus). However, I use SpaceFM almost all the time, anyway, so the default file manager is kinda irrelevant to me. Also, Cinnamon's main menu is pretty nice, although I wish I could access it with a right-click on the desktop.

I've been playing around with LXDE in Lubuntu 14.04. For me, LXDE has the edge over Cinnamon. I can do what I want with the LXDE panel; mine is sized to 85% width, the icons for running apps are icons-only, and the panel shows all icons from all workspaces. I can set-up Openbox's desktop right-click menu -- can't do anything like that with Cinnamon OR with GNOME Shell. The mouse's scroll-wheel, with the cursor on the open desktop, takes me to another workspace; that's another thing that doesn't happen in Cinnamon. And LXDE lets me have different backgrounds on different workspaces. There are no hot spots and no overview so navigating the desktop must be done in the more traditional manner, with panel icons and workspace switching, but that's fine with me as long as everything can be set up to my liking.

Mint fans won't like me saying this, but I feel that my workflow is actually better when I'm using either GNOME Shell or LXDE than when I'm using Cinnamon. However, with each DE/WM I've used, I've always become much more comfortable with it over time, and already I feel the same thing happening with Cinnamon. Anyway, to each her/his own; many people with have far more complaints about GNOME Shell than I have with Cinnamon. Often, the "best" environment is the one you're most used to, and the one that you don't like as much is the one that you're not (yet) quite good enough at using.

Monday, May 25, 2015

two superstars

After Golden State and Cleveland finish cleaning up in their respective conference finals (the Warriors lead Houston 3-0; the Cavs, same thing over Atlanta), we'll have the pleasure of watching (arguably) the NBA's two best players in The Finals.

Golden State's Stephen Curry, playoff per game numbers so far (13 games): 29.9 points, 6.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 47.5 FG%, 44.8 3PT%, 82.4 FT%.

Cleveland's LeBron James, playoff per game numbers so far (13 games): 27.9 points, 8.4 assists, 10.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.3 blocks, 42.4 FG%, 16.1 3PT%, 78.1 FT%.

LeBron's shooting hasn't been good. But the team he's about to lead into The Finals is hit hard by injuries, missing both forward Kevin Love and guard Kyrie Irving. Take that same team and replace LeBron with any other player in the game and you won't still be playing come June. Also, he's averaging close to a triple-double (points, assists, rebounds) for the playoffs. Impressive effort.

Steph has been spectacular shooting the ball. The talented son of former NBA star Dell Curry has a chance to add a Finals MVP award to the one he just picked up for the 2014-15 regular season. He's become the most popular basketball player in the country, it seems. And, possibly, the most dangerous.

The Warriors appear to have the better team, and the best shooter in the game. The Cavs... Well, the oft-repeated theme these days is that the Cavs have the best player in the world, which is probably true. My guess: Golden State in six. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

no vote

This week's DistroWatch Weekly includes their "first weekly opinion poll," where readers can vote on their "Favourite Desktop." The choices:

- Cinnamon
- Enlightenment
- GNOME Shell
- Unity
- Xfce
- Other

This list didn't include any "window managers" -- if you prefer only Openbox or Fluxbox or AwesomeWM or Window Maker, etc., your vote gets lumped under "Other."

I'm writing this from Fluxbox in openSUSE, but Fluxbox is only one of several environments I regularly use. I have each of the following DEs/WMs installed somewhere on at least one of my systems: Cinnamon, Fluxbox, GNOME Shell, KDE, Openbox, LXDE, Unity, and Xfce. The laptop that I call my "primary" computer was running Xfce in Debian Wheezy until recently; now it's running KDE in Debian Jessie, with Openbox added.

I don't have a favorite; there are things that I like about each environment, and I'm quite comfortable using any of them. So, I'll pass on casting a vote in this week's poll.

Monday, May 18, 2015

cinnamon added

In my Debian Jessie GNOME installation, I added the Cinnamon desktop by going to Synaptic and installing the cinnamon package (version 2.2.16-5). This brought in the following additional packages:

cinnamon-common (2.2.16-5)
cinnamon-control-center (2.2.11-4)
cinnamon-control-center-data (2.2.11-4)
cinnamon-desktop-data (2.2.3-3)
cinnamon-l10n (2.2.4-1)
cinnamon-screensaver (2.2.4-6)
cinnamon-session (2.2.2-5)
cinnamon-session-common (2.2.2-5)
cinnamon-settings-daemon (2.2.4.repack-7)
cjs (2.2.2-2)
gir1.2-cinnamondesktop-3.0 (2.2.3-3)
gir1.2-cmenu-3.0 (2.2.0-3)
gir1.2-gconf-2.0 (3.2.6-3)
gir1.2-meta-muffin-0.0 (2.2.6-4)
gnome-power-manager (3.14.1-1)
libcinnamon-control-center1 (2.2.11-4)
libcinnamon-desktop4 (2.2.3-3)
libcinnamon-menu-3-0 (2.2.0-3)
libcjs0 (2.2.2-2)
libmozjs185-1.0 (1.8.5-1.0.0+dfsg-4.3)
libmuffin0 (2.2.6-4)
libnemo-extension1 (2.2.4-2)
muffin-common (2.2.6-4)
nemo (2.2.4-2)
nemo-data (2.2.4-2)
nemo-fileroller (1.8.0-1)
python-pam (0.4.2-13.1)
python-pyinotify (0.9.4-1)

I set up Cinnamon with the panel at the top instead of the more traditional (and default) bottom placement. I added, removed, and/or moved some panel items, so the shots below show a somewhat personalized desktop:

Cinnamon's Expo provides a nice workspace overview:

Cinnamon's default file manager is Nemo, which I prefer over Nautilus. I'm very comfortable using GNOME Shell, but many people are not. Cinnamon seems to be very nicely done in Debian Jessie, giving users yet another excellent desktop option. Note: Jessie Cinnamon ISOs (there's a live one, too) are available at, so you don't have to add Cinnamon to an existing installation like I did.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

debian live

The Debian Live project used to be a kinda separate project, and the images would come out some time after the Stable release. Now, for the first time, the live images are made available at debian dot org "as a new alternative to the standard images."  A nice step forward for Debian, in my opinion.

I used the GNOME live image to install Jessie over my Wheezy GNOME installation (that was the last remaining Wheezy installation here). I like to use Unetbootin to get the .iso onto a flash drive, but sometimes that doesn't work out -- I've had problems trying to use it with Jessie images. Better to use dd; in this case, I ran:

#  dd if=/home/steve/Downloads/debian-live-8.0.0-i386-gnome-desktop.iso of=/dev/sdb

The live session looks good, but I couldn't find an "Install" icon or menu entry; looks like you have to reboot and then choose one of the installation options from the boot menu. Then it's just a straight Debian installation.

There's a curious entry in the menu (in the GNOME Shell Activities overview): "Install Debian sid." Interesting.

Also, the live session doesn't ship with GParted. However, it does ship with Synaptic, so GParted could be easily added for the live session, if there's an internet connection. They ship  the GNOME Disk Utility, which shows up in the menu as "Disks":

Looks fine for obtaining the same type of info I'd get from GParted, but I don't know if I'd actually use it for partitioning.

Overall, it's a pretty good live session. Very snappy if run from a flash drive, of course. I'd add an "Install" button and GParted, that's about it. Recently, I've spent some time with the latest MX release's live session and with live sessions from Linux Mint Debian. MX is kinda nice because it can give you root and/or home persistence, but for the most part any one of those distros' live sessions is about as good as the other, so I'd just as soon use the one that comes straight from Debian.

The installed Jessie GNOME (it's GNOME 3.14) looks great; I haven't found a need to add any GNOME Shell extensions. Remember to edit the sources.list file and comment out the line for the CD if you don't need it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

a man, a coach

A book about one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time: Breaking Through: John B. McLendon, Basketball Legend and Civil Rights Pioneer, by Milton S. Katz.

McLendon was mentored by the inventor of the game of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, at the University of Kansas, even though he wasn't even allowed to play for the Jayhawks. This was the 1930s, and there would be no black players on the KU varsity team until 1951.

In 1937, McLendon became an assistant coach at North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University), and was named the head basketball coach there in 1940. He went on to coach at the Hampton Institute, Tennessee A&I University (now Tennessee State University), Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University), and Cleveland State University. His Tennessee A&I teams won three consecutive NAIA championships (1957, 1958, 1959). At Cleveland State, he became the first black coach at a predominantly white college. He later became the first black coach of an integrated professional sports team (the ABL's Cleveland Pipers),

Always conducting himself with class and quiet dignity, battling segregation and discrimination every step of the way, McLendon pioneered a fast-breaking style of basketball; as well, as Katz notes in Breaking Through, when McLendon passed away in 1999:

The first floral arrangements to reach his home came from North Carolina coach Dean Smith, who expressed gratitude to McLendon for teaching him the four-corners offense.

What impressed me most, however, was that McLendon spoke about basketball and athletics as being secondary to the greater goal: "Athletics is a vehicle to assist in scholastic objectives and education... A man should want to go to school and participate in athletics, not just be an athlete."

I like to say that sports should be about having fun and staying in shape. These days, it often seems to be more of an entertainment industry than anything else.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

coming along nicely

MX Linux has turned out to be a unique and special distro (even as DistroWatch continues to leave it off their list of distros!).

Here's a link to the DistroWatch announcement about the latest release (note that MX is called a "special edition" of antiX).

This MEPIS/MX Community page has interesting info about the current release:

MX-14.4 is based on Debian Wheezy, but it's rockin' Xfce 4.12, and it comes with many features you won't find elsewhere. I'm running it live here, from a flash drive, with home persistence.

Here's how MX-14.4 is set up by default, with the Whisker menu showing:

Right-clicking on the desktop gives you access to the more traditional-looking Applications menu, along with lots of desktop tools:

MX doesn't do so hot in the "looks" department, but it's Xfce, you can do lots of things to it. Xfce 4.12 lets you have different backgrounds for different workspaces, and you get two MX-14 wallpapers to choose from! :)

The RemasterCC tool, where you can set up persistence and so forth. If you click on the Help button, the appropriate section of the MX Linux Users Manual opens up in mx-viewer.

I set up home persistence and changed things around. G'bye, Whisker menu.

I decided to use the darker default wallpaper on workspace #2. Look at all those tools under the System submenu!

I've never done a hard drive installation of MX Linux, but it's great for live sessions from flash drives, and the MX-14.4 release looks like the best one so far. It's obvious that the community has put a lot of work into it. Nice job!