Monday, January 26, 2015

opensuse, fluxbox, feh

I've been using xli to handle my desktop backgrounds in Fluxbox in openSUSE 13.2, mainly because I incorrectly thought that feh was not available from the openSUSE repos. However, I was running into a few issues with my random wallpaper script; I just couldn't get it to properly autostart when I logged into Fluxbox, even after trying a number of different approaches.

I found one approach that actually did work, in this Arch Linux forum thread. Referring to that, I edited the ~/.fluxbox/startup file, replacing the exec fluxbox line with fluxbox &, and adding code for the sleep function. The resulting startup file looked like this:

# fluxbox startup-script:
# Lines starting with a '#' are ignored.

# Change your keymap:
xmodmap "/home/steve/.Xmodmap"

# Applications you want to run with fluxbox.
# unclutter -idle 2 &
# wmnd &
# wmsmixer -w &
# idesk &

# Start fluxbox.
# Because it is the last app you have to run it with ''exec'' before it.
# Jan 25 2015 - changed 'exec fluxbox' to 'fluxbox &'

fluxbox &

sleep 2
   # Applications you want to run after fluxbox has started
    /home/steve/wallpaper-script1 &
   } &

wait $fbpid

# or if you want to keep a log:
# exec fluxbox -log "/home/steve/.fluxbox/log"

The only problem with that approach was that if I did a "Restart" from the Fluxbox menu, then Fluxbox, instead of using my random wallpaper script, would use whatever was stored in ~/.fluxbox/lastwallpaper -- and that was whatever wallpaper had last been set by the fbsetbg command.

Then I ran the the following command and took a look at the output:

steve[~]$ fbsetbg -i

display doesn't set the wallpaper properly. Transparency for fluxbox and apps like aterm and xchat won't work right with it. Consider installing feh, wmsetbg (from windowmaker) or Esetroot (from Eterm) and I'll use them instead.

So I went back to YaST and found that, indeed, feh was available for installation. Added that, then ran the above command again:

steve[~]$ fbsetbg -i

feh is a nice wallpapersetter. You won't have any problems.

That's what you're supposed to see. Good.

Still, feh was unable to load any of my wallpapers! If I tried to load a random image from my wallpapers directory, I was seeing this sort of thing:

steve[~]$ fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers
feh WARNING: /home/steve/wallpapers/hugerock.jpeg - No Imlib2 loader for that file format
feh ERROR: Unable to load image /home/steve/wallpapers/hugerock.jpeg
steve[~]$ fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers
feh WARNING: /home/steve/wallpapers/red_rocks_on_the_beach-wallpaper-1366x768.jpg - No Imlib2 loader for that file format
feh ERROR: Unable to load image /home/steve/wallpapers/red_rocks_on_the_beach-wallpaper-1366x768.jpg

So I tried using feh with the -U switch to see which wallpapers feh could actually load:

steve[~]$ feh -U /home/steve/wallpapers

It couldn't load any of 'em. Drat.

From YaST I could see that imlib2-1 was installed, but imlib2 was not, so I installed imlib2 to see if that would help. This also installed imlib2-loaders and libid3tag0.

That fixed the problem!!!

So, I no longer needed my random wallpaper script at all. Instead, I simply added the following line to the ~/.fluxbox/init file:

session.screen0.rootCommand: fbsetbg -r /home/steve/wallpapers

Then, from the Fluxbox menu, I clicked Reconfigure, then Restart, and was presented with a new, random wallpaper. Logged out, then back into Fluxbox, and again was presented with a new, random wallpaper, as expected. Mark this one "Solved."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

rc 1

Debian Installer Jessie RC 1 release

Progress! I've used the Beta 2 installer a few times, and that worked out fine for me, but I'm thinking that I'll wait for the final Jessie release before replacing Wheezy on my "primary" computer.

for partitioning

GParted is my tool of choice for partitioning. Many Linux distros ship with it; if the distro has a live session, just boot into it, run GParted as root, and get to work on your partitions. For example, in the past I've often run GParted from live sessions of MEPIS. More recently, I've used GParted in MX-14.

Parted Magic is one of the nicest distros for managing hard drives. It comes with Openbox, and it's loaded with tools -- including GParted, of course. The download will cost you about $10 bucks these days. I've still got a version on a flash drive from back when it was free (from pmagic_2013_05_01.iso), but Parted Magic is definitely worth the money, in my opinion.

Or you can just grab GParted Live. This is probably my favorite way to go. I downloaded gparted-live-0.20.2-i486.iso (only about 219 MB), used Unetbootin to put it on a flash drive, and booted it up. The GParted app started up automatically:

Besides GParted itself, GParted Live ships with Fluxbox, the PCManFM file manager, the Leafpad text editor, the LXTerminal terminal emulator, the NetSurf web browser, and a handful of other tools. As you can see in the release announcement, the current release is based on the Debian Sid repos as of October 24, 2014.

GParted Live page at DistroWatch:

GParted Live homepage:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

before and after

Yesterday, I downloaded debian-jessie-DI-b2-i386-xfce-CD-1.iso, used Unetbootin to put it on a flash drive, and installed it one of my notebooks.

How long before Jessie goes to Stable is anyone's guess, but it's looking pretty good right now.

A screenshot of the default desktop (Xfce version 4.10):

And after fixing things up a bit:

Monday, January 12, 2015

one more

One more Mint 17.1 Cinnamon review -- this one by Arindam Sen (one of the best distro reviewers out there!): Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" Cinnamon Review: As always, Impressive!

quite tempting

After playing around with the live session of Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" Cinnamon, I'm actually tempted to install this release. But I'm not going to. I have too many distros installed right now, including Ubuntu 14.04 (which Mint 17 is derived from) and Kubuntu 12.04. Two 'Buntu distros is more than enough, and I don't want to replace either one with Mint.

The Cinnamon desktop is excellent, and has matured quite a bit since the last time I played around with it, which I think was when I had Cinnamon installed in Fedora at one point. I used to say that I liked Cinnamon, but that I liked both GNOME Shell and Ubuntu's Unity more. But at this point, Cinnamon's as nice as anything else, and I see several things about it that would make users prefer it over other DEs.

I see that Cinnamon is available in Debian (Jessie), Ubuntu 14.10, and Arch, and it's still available in Fedora. But I don't think that there are any distros (besides Mint, of course) currently offering Cinnamon spins, so in that respect, I'd say that it hasn't reached the level of KDE, GNOME, and Xfce. The same could be said for Unity, but Unity is still a "shell" for GNOME, while Cinnamon, which started out as a "shell" for GNOME, is now a separate DE.

For more info about Mint 17.1 Cinnamon, check out the feature story in this week's DistroWatch: First Impressions of Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Edition

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Taking a look at Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" -- the default spin, with the Cinnamon desktop. I'm trying the live session from a flash drive, done with Unetbootin. Here's a shot of the default desktop:

One nice thing about Cinnamon is the Nemo file manager, forked from GNOME's Nautilus file manager by the Mint folks. Glad to see an option for dual-pane viewing!

Cinnamon has a nice automatic wallpaper changer. Not as good as what you can do in KDE, but better than what you get in GNOME or Xfce.

In Cinnamon, It isn't obvious at first how to use different workspaces, or how to add workspaces (there are two workspaces by default). If you go to System Settings/Control Center > Preferences > Hot Corners and enable hovering for one of the hot corners, then choose "Show all workspaces" from that hot corner's drop-down menu, you can use that hot corner to bring up the "Expo" view, which will show you all of the workspaces.

Or, in the Control Center's Applets window, you can add an Expo applet to the panel so you can bring up Expo that way.

There are other ways to get to Expo, too... In any case, from Expo you can add/remove workspaces, and switch workspaces from there. Unfortunately, you can't change workspaces with the mouse wheel on an open desktop like you can do in Openbox. However, you can add the Workspace switcher applet to the panel and use the mouse wheel on that to switch workspaces.

Mint 17.1 ships with a nice collection of software, including Firefox 33.0 (customized for Linux Mint).

Linux Mint still looks like a great option for folks new to Linux, and I think it would be fine for experienced Linux users as well, although I have no plans to install it here. Nice set-up; pleasant, attractive default appearances; easy to get up and running quickly. The live session booted up nicely from the flash drive, and everything seemed snappy and smooth. I encountered no major issues with any of the applications I tried. Pretty much what I've come to expect from this distro. Nice job, from what I could tell!

For more information, see Mint's page at DistroWatch and the Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" Cinnamon release announcement.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

another netinst, more practice

I did another Debian Jessie netinst (again with only Openbox). Just wanted to feel satisfied that I've got the process down.

I decided to install via flash drive this time, and to use the amd64 .iso instead of the i386 one. To do this, I went to the Debian Installer page (, scrolled down to the Current daily snapshots section under "other images (netboot, USB stick, etc.), clicked on amd64, then clicked on the hd-media folder. Downloaded the boot.img.gz file.

I basically followed the steps from, section 4.3.2. "Manually copying files to the USB stick."

Here's a list of the packages that I installed, not including the dependencies brought in by those:

sudo xorg openbox obmenu obconf tint2 synaptic lightdm chromium xfce4-terminal geany nitrogen spacefm iceweasel gparted galculator libreoffice-calc libreoffice-writer vlc menu ntp mirage geeqie localepurge gksu alsa-base alsa-utils volumeicon-alsa wicd linux-firmware-nonfree linux-firmware-free

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Installed Debian Jessie, which is still the current Debian Testing, from debian-jessie-DI-b2-i386-netinst.iso. This was my first time doing a Debian net installation. The netinst .iso was about 291 MB.

Packages I've installed include the following (plus the dependencies that these brought in): sudo, xorg, openbox, obmenu, obconf, tint2, synaptic, lightdm, chromium, xfce4-terminal, geany, nitrogen, spacefm, iceweasel, gparted, galculator, libreoffice-calc, libreoffice-writer, vlc, menu (for Debian menu), ntp, mirage, geeqie, localepurge, gksu, alsa-base, alsa-utils, pavucontrol (which brings in pulseaudio and other packages), xfce4-mixer (that brings in xfce4-panel and other packages), volumeicon-alsa (the command volumeicon puts the icon into the tint2 system tray).

Here's a screenshot:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

new archbang release

ArchBang's Mr Green has announced a new release for 2015, which can be downloaded from

I'm still using the ArchBang installation that I added from archbang-14.06.2013-i686.iso, back in June 2013, and it's running fine, fully updated; so, I can't think of a reason for me to downloaded this latest release, unless I was interested in testing it out, which I'm not.

For whatever reason, this release has not yet been mentioned at DistroWatch. Also, good luck finding any recent ArchBang reviews -- the latest review shown at DW's ArchBang page is from 2013.

In my experience, ArchBang's a very nice distro for those who like Openbox and Arch Linux, but who want a quicker, easier installation than you get with Arch. It's basically Arch with some things already set up for you, even though many "real" Arch users would say that no Arch derivative is really Arch.