Wednesday, December 27, 2017

depends on how you're looking at it

From Dedoimedo's conclusion in his review of BunsenLabs Deuterium:

...BunsenLabs Deuterium gives us a lightweight setup, it truly is that, but on any moderately decent hardware, the advantage goes away, and in its place, you get the horrible ergonomics of Openbox, which is simply not suited for any reasonable, modern work.

Hardware support is mediocre, the installation process is quirky, it's very hard to customize the desktop, network support is average, and in the end, you need to invest energy to achieve something you get out of the box with any other desktop environment. There's really no justifiable reason for that. Perhaps Deuterium will appeal to a small base of users, who want the flexibility and simplicity of Openbox, but for the vast majority of people, it's a hassle.

So much in fact that I gave up. There wasn't anything cardinally wrong with the distro. But it's like walking into a store, seeing something, and then you move on, because there was no magic. Something like 2/10. Well, maybe next time. Or perhaps a different desktop environment.

That's about what I'd expect from him. I really have no issues with this review. It's a matter of perspective; BunsenLabs is not the kind of distro he'd like. I doubt that he'd like anything that shipped with only Openbox.

Earlier in the review, he wrote, "Why is the would-be panel called Tint2? How's that relevant?" I smiled when I read that; I don't know where the name "tint2" came from. tint2 is unlike any other panel I've used. It's probably my favorite panel, though.
This line really sums things up: "Perhaps Deuterium will appeal to a small base of users, who want the flexibility and simplicity of Openbox, but for the vast majority of people, it's a hassle." He's right, of course. It's a distro for the Openbox fan -- a user who knows what to do with Openbox, one who stashes away old Openbox config files for later use, and one who doesn't need a so-called "modern" desktop.
It's for somebody who understands that Openbox is not a desktop environment, but rather a window manager that can be used instead of a desktop environment.

A user like me. He rates it 2/10; me, I give it a 9. :)

Monday, December 25, 2017

more about bash history

Some time ago, I posted a few tips for calling up previously run commands in "searching bash history". Using those and other bash history tricks saves me lots and lots of time at the command line.

The following command outputs everything from bash history:

$ history

Since that command can result in a very long list, sometimes it's helpful to pipe it into less:

$ history | less

From there, press Enter to scroll down the list one line at a time, or press Space to scroll down a page at a time. Press Q to exit less. (See man less for more about the less command).

Often, it's easy enough to simply use the up and down arrow keys from the command line to scroll through the history of previously run commands.

The history n command will list the previous n commands you've run. For example, the following lists the previous 10 commands:

$ history 10

As I mentioned in my earlier post, the Ctrl+R keystroke starts a "reverse-i-search". I normally have to type no more than three letters after that to find the command I'm looking for. Pressing Ctrl+R again finds an earlier match; Enter executes the command. The left or right arrow key will place the command onto the command line for editing; Ctrl+G exits the reverse search.

For a lot more info, check out the documentation in man bash. See "Searching" in the READLINE section, and check out the HISTORY section, and the HISTORY EXPANSION section.

man bash is such a long document, though. I've found it helpful to bookmark a couple of nice web pages for some good, quick info:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

give it a break, jerk

Christmas Eve morning, Trump's at it again, firing shots at the FBI's Andrew McCabe and the so-called "Fake News." Dude just can't help himself. Will he have the decency to give it a break on Christmas Day, at least? Let's hope so. C'mon, man, rise above it just this once!

gnome-terminal work-around

In Debian Stretch, Terminal (gnome-terminal) was failing to start up. To try to figure out what was happening, I tried running it from a different terminal emulator:

$ gnome-terminal
Error constructing proxy for org.gnome.Terminal:/org/gnome/Terminal/Factory0: Error calling StartServiceByName for org.gnome.Terminal: Timeout was reached

None of the "fixes" I found online were working for me, so I installed Terminator to use instead. Terminator, of course, is an excellent terminal emulator, and I have no problem using that instead of gnome-terminal; but me being me, I couldn't just let things go at that.

I noticed that the following command did launch gnome-terminal:

$ dbus-launch gnome-terminal

I decided to use that command as a work-around. I copied the /usr/share/applications/org.gnome.Terminal.desktop file to the ~/.local/share/applications directory. Found the following line:


Changed that to:

Exec=dbus-launch gnome-terminal

Saved the changes. Problem solved.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

fresh archlabs release

As described at the ArchLabs website, "ArchLabs Linux is an Arch Linux based distro, heavily influenced and inspired by the look and feel of BunsenLabs." Like BunsenLabs, it ships with only Openbox. Very cool.

Here's a link to the ArchLabs 2017.12 release announcement:

Also, the release announcement at DistroWatch:

Monday, December 18, 2017


I never thought I'd see something like this in my lifetime, and I can't imagine it lasting beyond a few more weeks, so I figured I'd post it here now and enjoy it while it lasts.

Arizona State, off to a hot start (10-0), and ranked #3 in college basketball (AP poll). Just behind Michigan State, and ahead of Duke! No way. Way. Go Devils! Lol -- Sun Devils, that is!

another nice image viewer

nomacs is a free, open source image viewer that can be used in Linux, as well as in Windows, macOS, and FreeBSD, according to the nomacs website.

I found version 3.4 available in the Debian Stable repos; the Arch Linux repos have version 3.8, which I think is the current version.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

mx menu entries

Open up the MX-17 menu and click on "All" and you'll get a sense of how much stuff they've packed into this release. Far too many entries to view without scrolling down, even with the menu view completely expanded:

I typed up a list of the entries that I found when I clicked on "All" in the menu (from the live session). Descriptions that the devs provided are in parentheses (I left some descriptions out where I thought the menu entry name was self-explanatory, or if I thought info about the app could be easily found online; notes added by me are in brackets, colorized:

About Me (Configure your profile image and contact details); Accessibility (Improve keyboard and mouse accessibility); Adobe Flash Player (Preferences for Adobe Flash Player); ADSL/PPPOE configuration; AisleRiot Solitaire (Play many different solitaire games); Alsamixer; Alternatives Configurator (Configure the system default alternatives); Appearance (Customize the look of your desktop); Application Finder (Find and launch applications installed on your system); Archive Manager; Asunder CD Ripper; Bluetooth Adapters (Set Bluetooth Adapter Properties); Bluetooth Manager (Blueman Bluetooth Manager); Bulk Rename (Rename Multiple Files); Catfish File Search; Chromium B.S.U. (Scrolling space shooter); Clementine (Plays music and streams); ClipIt (Clipboard Manager); Command line apt-based package manager (Search for and install Debian-based packages); Conky Manager (Conky Theme Manager); Conky Toggle (Toggle conky on/off); dd-Live usb (Create a live-usb using dd); Desktop (Set desktop background and menu and icon behavior); Dictionary (A client program to query different dictionaries); Disk Manager (Manage filesystem configuration); Disk Usage Analyzer (Check folder sizes and available disk space); Display (Configure screen settings and layout); E-book reader (FBReader E-book reader); FeatherPad (Lightweight Qt5 text editor); File Manager [Thunar]; File Manager (Configure the Thunar file manager); Firefox; Firewall Configuration; Galculator; GDebi Package Installer; gMTP (A simple MTP Client for MP3 Players); GNOME PPP (GNOME Dialup Tool); GNU Image Manipulation Program; GParted; Grub Customizer; gscan2pdf; GSmartControl (Monitor and control SMART data on hard disks); GtkHash (Compute message digests and checksums); guvcview (A video viewer and capturer for the linux uvc driver); Hearts (Play the popular Hearts card game); HexChat (Chat with other people online); Htop; Keyboard (Edit keyboard settings and application shortcuts); LBreakout2 [game]; LibreOffice [the entire suite: Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math, Writer]; LightDM GTK+ Greeter settings; Live-usb kernel updater (Update the kernel on a live-usb system); Live-usb Maker (Create a full-featured live-usb); Log Out (Log out of the Xfce Desktop); luckyBackup (Backup & sync your data with the power of rsync); luckyBackup (super user); Mahjongg [game]; Mail Reader (Read your email); Midnight Commander; Midnight Commander editor (Edit text files); MIME Type Editor; Mouse and Touchpad (Configure pointer device behavior and appearance); MX Boot Repair; MX Check Apt GPG; MX-Clocky Desktop Clock; MX Codecs Installer; MX Conky (Change details of desktop system monitor); MX-iDevice-Mounter (A GUI for mounting & unmounting IPhones & IPads); MX Menu Editor; MX Network Assistant; MX Package Installer; MX RemasterCC (Live persistence and remastering tools); MX Repo Manager (Choose the default APT repo); MX Select Sound (Easily select a default sound card); MX Snapshot (Create a live iso snapshot of your running system); MX Switch User (Change users without logging out); MX System Sounds; MX Time Settings; MX Tools; MX Tweak (Assorted useful tweaks); MX Updater (Re-enable MX Updater icon if even if no updates available); MX USB Unmounter; MX User Manager; MX User Manual; MX Welcome (Display welcome message); Network Connections (Manage and change your network connection settings); Nomacs (An image viewer); Notes (Ideal for your quick notes); Notifications (Customize how notifications appear on your screen); Nvidia driver installer; OpenJDK Java 8 Policy Tool; Orage Calendar; Orage Globaltime (Shows clocks from different countries); Orage preferences; Panel (Customize the panel); Passwords and Keys (Manage your passwords and encryption keys); PDF-Shuffler (PDF Merging, Rearranging, Splitting, Rotating and Cropping); Peg-E [game]; Power Manager (Settings for the Xfce Power Manager); Preferred Applications; Printers (CUPS); Print Settings; PulseAudio Volume Control; qpdfview; Quick System Info (inxi -F); Removable Drives and Media; Root Terminal; Run Program...; Samba; Screensaver; Screenshot [xfce4-screenshooter]; Sensor Viewer; Session and Startup (Customize desktop startup and splash screen); Settings Editor (Graphical settings editor for Xfconf); Settings Manager (Graphical Settings Manager for Xfce 4); SMTube (Browse and search videos from YouTube); Swell Foop [game]; Synaptic Package Manager; System Profiler and Benchmark; Task Manager; Terminal Emulator [xfce4-terminal]; Thunar File Manager; Thunderbird Mail; Transmission (Download and share files over BitTorrent); VLC media player; Web Browser [Firefox]; Window Manager (Configure window behavior and shortcuts); Window Manager Tweaks (Fine-tune window behavior and effects); Windows Wireless Drivers (Ndiswrapper driver installation tool); Workspaces (Configure layout, names and margins); Xfburn (CD and DVD burning application); Xfce Terminal


Ten years ago, back around December of 2007, distros I was running included Ubuntu 6.06 ("Dapper"), PCLinuxOS 2007, Linux Mint 4.0 ("Daryna"), Debian 4.0 ("Etch"), and Mepis 7.0. Of those distros, Debian's the only one still installed here today -- we're now at Debian "Stretch" (currently version 9.3).

This morning, I downloaded the latest release of the Mepis descendent MX Linux, MX-17 ("Horizon"). I used dd to copy the image onto a flash drive, and took the live session for a spin.

MX-17 is based on Debian 9, the current Debian Stable, which was released back in June. The download comes in at only about 1.2 GB, but MX-17 ships loaded with apps and tools, including Firefox 57.0.2. Users have access to thousands more apps and packages via the Debian repositories, of course.

Here's how MX-17 welcomes the user at first boot:

The default MX-17 desktop, empty:

The repository setup consists of a few files in the /etc/apt/sources.list.d directory; the repos enabled by default:

deb stretch main

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

deb stretch-updates main contrib non-free

deb stretch main non-free

MX Linux uses SysVinit instead of systemd, as explained in the MX User Manual:

Because the use of systemd as a system and service manager has been controversial, we want to be clear about its function in MX Linux. Systemd is included by default but not enabled. You can scan your MX system and discover files bearing systemd* names, but those simply provide a compatibility hook/entrypoint when needed.

MX Linux uses systemd-shim, which emulates the systemd functions that are required to run the helpers without actually using the init service. This means that SvsVinit remains the default init yet MX Linux can use Debian packages that have systemd dependencies such as CUPS. This approach also allows the user to retain the ability to choose his/her preferred init.

For more info about MX-17, check out the MX Community web site at, where they describe the distro as "a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS communities, using the best tools and talents from each distro. It is a midweight OS designed to combine an elegant and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, solid performance and medium-sized footprint."

The MX-17 package list at DistroWatch:

Also see the Current Release Features page at the MX site, and the release announcement and the MX Linux page at DistroWatch.

Monday, December 11, 2017

good essay

Worth the read: "The importance of Devuan: A Sunday morning essay", by Nico Schottelius, CEO of ungleich glarus ltd.

As for my take on the systemd controversy, I'm still in the same place: Keep running Debian and Arch, wait and see how things play out. One of these days, I might actually get around to installing Devuan.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

towards a more peaceful holiday season

Would the holidays really be so awful if we all simply quit the gift-buying silliness? I'm on board with what Caitlin Schneider wrote:

Not to stress you out, but Christmas is 19 days away. And not to make assumptions about you, but you probably still need to buy gifts for your mom, dad, siblings, nieces and nephews, friends, significant other, office secret Santa, book club white elephant exchange, and that one aunt who always gives you a snow globe.

As visions of dollar signs and Amazon browser tabs start to dance maniacally in your head, let us present an alternative. Save your wallet, your blood pressure, and frankly your soul, by not buying gifts for any of them.

Full article at Lifehacker: Don't Give Holiday Gifts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

positively charged

Article: ProtonMail: An Open Source Privacy-Focused Email Service Provider

I decided to give ProtonMail's free version a shot. Looks good so far. The fact that it's FOSS (free, open source software) is a huge plus, from my point of view. The user interface looks sensible and easy to use.

Check it out here:

Monday, November 13, 2017


Hilarious article: How Not To Make Coffee

I'm not an everyday coffee drinker. I'll have some maybe a few times a week, tops, but other times I might go months without.

I drink it black.

I have a Mr. Coffee. Cost me about $15 bucks. But my favorite coffee maker was one we used to have, looked something like this:

I'd never spend money on a Keurig. When it comes to making coffee, the KISS rule applies. Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

grml live

You won't find Grml in the top 100 of DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking, but this distro has been around since 2004. Based on Debian Testing, Grml can be run live from a flash drive and ships with loads of system administration tools. It comes with the Fluxbox window manager rather than a full-featured desktop environment, and you'll get mc and nano instead of a fancy GUI file manager and text editor, but Firefox ESR is included.

I downloaded the grml64-full_2017.05 iso (the download was only about 600 MB), used dd to put it on a flash drive, and booted up, with no problems. Not much to the default setup:

Here's a shot with the right-click desktop menu opened up:

Here, running Firefox, mc, and xterm:

For a list of included packages, see:

For more info, check out the Grml website:
Grml at DistroWatch:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I have a Compaq Presario CQ57 notebook that doesn't seem to play nicely with any 64-bit Linux installation I try on it. This old notebook has only 2 GB RAM, so I thought maybe it would work better with a 32-bit system.

To test this, I downloaded the 32-bit version of the latest BunsenLabs release, codenamed "Deuterium" (bl-Deuterium-i386_20170429.iso). The Jessie-based Deuterium is the same release that good ol' Dedoimedo ripped to shreds in this review.

Here's a shot from the live session, with the desktop right-click menu opened up:

And here's what the fresh installation looked like:

Doing the installation was a breeze, and Deuterium performed like a champ on this hardware, My intent was to keep just about everything at the defaults, but I've been having so much fun playing around with BunsenLabs and Openbox that I couldn't help but tweak a few things and customize the desktop a little more to my tastes:

I think that BunsenLabs is a great little distro, and I'm anxiously awaiting the Stretch-based release (codename: "Helium"). For another reviewer's take on this distro, see:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

the reality, the mythology

"Kaepernick took it to the next level by pitting the reality of American racism against the mythology of American patriotism."

-- Gary Younge, in "Remember this about Donald Trump. He knows the depths of American bigotry", over at The Guardian.

Monday, September 25, 2017


I switched to using Double Commander as my full-time file manager about six months ago (see: "'go-to' file manager?"), after SpaceFM development ceased.

A few weeks back, I was reading about so-called "Othodox File Managers" (see: and decided that taking the time to really learn to use something like Midnight Commander would provide me with tools to work more effectively with any Norton-style, orthodox file manager.

Learning to use Midnight Commander did help me to use Double Commander better; but, at the same time, after a while I became hooked, and now "mc" is my "new" full-time file manager.

Here, I have Midnight Commander running on a second tab in Terminator, in GNOME 3 (in Debian Stretch):

There are lots of online tutorials and so forth to help get someone started with Midnight Commander, but the manual page that comes with Midnight Commander helped me more than anything else; just type man mc at the command line.

Midnight Commander also comes with a Help document, which appears to contain pretty much the same info as the man page, but is easier to navigate. It's accessible with F1 if the terminal has function key support. Otherwise, press Esc and then 1 to open the Help document, or simply click on the Help button at the bottom-left corner of the window.

Once in the main help screen, it's important to press Enter "to learn more on how to use the interactive help facility." The full key list of the help viewer is shown here:

I studied the documentation, took some notes, got in some practice, and stuck with it for several days. After that, I felt so comfortable with Midnight Commander that I couldn't see any reason to go back to using Double Commander or any other file manager. OFM, FTW.

web standards

Opinion piece by Jesse Smith in the September 25, 2017 issue of DistroWatch Weekly: "The W3C, encrypted media and software freedom"

In conclusion, Smith writes:

At this point it looks like people who value software freedom and an open web have just three options remaining. The first is to file a complaint with the W3C and ask them to reverse their decision. The appeal against baking DRM into the web failed, but perhaps enough protesters can get a vote to repeal the new web standard.

A second option is to boycott web browsers which implement the new, non-free standard. If Safari, Chromium and other mainstream browsers implement non-free code, we should avoid them and promote free software browsers which do not include non-free blobs by default. We can also petition distributions to patch out the non-free parts of otherwise open web browsers. If Firefox includes a non-free decryption module Linux distributions should remove it as part of their build process.

Finally, we should support organizations, such as the EFF, who are actively fighting in favour of software freedom and an open Internet. We should also avoid using websites which provide DRM-protected media. DRM is not good for anyone - it causes more hassles for the user, does not successfully block content piracy and it now introduces security risks for all of us - it should be avoided as much as possible.

Re: that second option, check out what the Pale Moon folks wrote at their Pale Moon Survery 2017 page:

DRM: We're aware that in-browser DRM is being pushed pretty hard by several big players (who, not-so-coincidentally, are also involved in editing and publishing the very HTML specifications that make this possible in-browser) and our approach is that "black-box" DRM content decoding modules have no place in an Open Source browser. It is even debatable whether DRM actually does anything to combat what it is supposed to be designed for.
In light of this, and also following the results from this survey, we remain firm in that, out of principle as well as our users' desire, we will keep the browser completely free of DRM. People who have commented that this approach was (one of) the main reason(s) to choose Pale Moon as their browser can rest easy in the knowledge that it will not find its way into this browser.

Pale Moon is my primary web browser, so I was happy to read that.

reid's op-ed

Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knee

Thursday, August 31, 2017

dist-upgrade, full-upgrade

From what I can determine, these two commands do the same thing:

# apt-get dist-upgrade

# apt full-upgrade

The following appears to work the same as the above commands as well, although the option is not explicitly defined in man apt:

# apt dist-upgrade

This is because most (if not all) apt-get commands can also be used as apt commands.

From man apt-get:

           upgrade is used to install the newest versions of all packages currently
           installed on the system from the sources enumerated in
           /etc/apt/sources.list. Packages currently installed with new versions
           available are retrieved and upgraded; under no circumstances are currently
           installed packages removed, or packages not already installed retrieved and
           installed. New versions of currently installed packages that cannot be
           upgraded without changing the install status of another package will be left
           at their current version. An update must be performed first so that apt-get
           knows that new versions of packages are available.

           dist-upgrade in addition to performing the function of upgrade, also
           intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions of packages;
           apt-get has a "smart" conflict resolution system, and it will attempt to
           upgrade the most important packages at the expense of less important ones if
           necessary. The dist-upgrade command may therefore remove some packages. The
           /etc/apt/sources.list file contains a list of locations from which to
           retrieve desired package files. See also apt_preferences(5) for a mechanism
           for overriding the general settings for individual packages.

From man apt:

       upgrade (apt-get(8))
           upgrade is used to install available upgrades of all packages currently
           installed on the system from the sources configured via sources.list(5). New
           packages will be installed if required to satisfy dependencies, but existing
           packages will never be removed. If an upgrade for a package requires the
           remove of an installed package the upgrade for this package isn't performed.

       full-upgrade (apt-get(8))
           full-upgrade performs the function of upgrade but will remove currently
           installed packages if this is needed to upgrade the system as a whole.


Screenshots of the two-page Debian Reference Card:

There are a couple of different ways to get a copy of this handy document. The package debian-refcard (v. 9.0.4) is available from the Stretch (Stable) repos, but it isn't the most up-to-date version of the document. Once installed, it can be found at /usr/share/doc/debian-refcard/refcard-en-a4.pdf.gz/refcard-en-a4.pdf. When I open up this document, I see:
Debian GNU/Linux Reference Card
Version 9.0 - Debian 9 'Stretch' - 2016-07-09
Alternatively, one can click on the "Debian GNU/Linux Reference Card" link at to download the refcard document, or download the latest refcard.en.pdf document from When I open the refcard.en.pdf document I downloaded, I see:
Debian Reference Card
Version 10.0 - Debian 10 'Buster' -- 2017-07-14
That more up-to-date version appears to be the same one currently found in the Testing and sid repos.

brain damaging sports

Column by Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune: I don't think I can watch football anymore
The most debilitating part of the sport appears to be not the rare concussion but the regular, inevitable blows to the head that occur at every level. A study conducted by Stanford researchers on Stanford players found that in a game, the typical offensive lineman endures 62 such hits, each equivalent in force to driving a car into a brick wall at 30 mph.
Ouch. Same thing with boxing, I'm thinking. But I don't know if I'm at the point where I can stop watching football and boxing. Not yet, anyway.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

soul deluxe

The "Soul Deluxe" radio program plays on KUNM here in Albuquerque every Sunday morning from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. Nice segment.

The DJ is Byron Fenix, out of Camelback H.S. in Phoenix. Born to a Navajo father and a half-Hopi, half-Navajo mother.

This show comes to us in Albuquerque via Native Voice One, the Native American Radio Network.


Soul Deluxe is a weekly radio program featuring eclectic mix sets by Phoenix-based DJ Byron Fenix.  The show spotlights Soul music and various genres that either gave rise to or were influenced by it, including Electronic, Disco, Funk, Hip-Hop, House, Jazz, and R&B. In addition to the music, the show exposes listeners to a variety of emerging urban-themed artists and musicians.

The program has its genesis in “Unity Vibe,” an earlier mix show launched in late 2008 on community radio station Radio Phoenix, which was hosted by Phoenix-based DJ RMC (Ruben Candelaria). One of RMC’s regular co-hosts was an emerging mix DJ by the name of Byron Fenix. When RMC decided to end “Unity Vibe” in mid 2010 to focus on his family, Byron took over his old time slot and launched the weekly radio program now known as Soul Deluxe. Since “Unity Vibe” focused on spotlighting house music, the early days of “Soul Deluxe” followed in the same direction.

As time went on, Byron decided to focus his mixes on more soulful cuts from a variety of genres including electronic, disco, jazz, and R&B. The show also began to spotlight emerging urban artists and musicians. Past guests on the show have included dance music artists Mochico & Boogie, Native American artist Damien Jim, and Byron’s former co-host DJ RMC.

Soul Deluxe is produced by Radio Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona, and is distributed nationally by Native Voice One (NV1).

Monday, August 21, 2017

fluxbox info

For those who want to learn to use Fluxbox, it's all about finding and reading the documentation -- the online documentation (a few web searches will turn up tons of info) and the installed documentation.

Documentation that comes with Fluxbox (in most distros):

As I wrote in "diggin' some fluxbox!":

For a little help and info, run:

$ fluxbox -h

$ fluxbox -info

man pages
See man fluxbox as well as these other man pages: fluxbox-apps(5) fluxbox-keys(5) fluxbox-style(5) fluxbox-menu(5) fluxbox-remote(1) fbsetroot(1) fbsetbg(1) fbrun(1) startfluxbox(1)

Online documentation:

Fluxbox home page:
Fluxbox FAQ:
man fluxbox online:

Some distro-specific Fluxbox pages:


Friday, August 18, 2017


Atlantic article:

What Kind of Monuments Does President Trump Value?

"He’s spoken in support of Confederate statues while threatening to undo as many as 40 conservation parks."

"...the excitement with which the president defends one kind of monument, while undermining another, does raise the question: What kind of history does the president value? What does it look like when history is destroyed? And what kinds of beauty and culture can be truly lost—what treasures of the United States can, once removed, never by human hands be comparably replaced?"


Sunday, August 13, 2017

42.3 review

A nicely done review of openSUSE "Leap" 42.3 at DistroWatch, by Joshua Allen Holm:

the latest gparted live

I wrote about GParted Live a few years back in "for partitioning" (January 25, 2015). That was version 0.20.2, and I used Unetbootin to put it on a flash drive. For the current version, I downloaded gparted-live-0.29.0-1-amd64.iso (released August 8, 2017) and used the following dd command to put it on my flash drive:

$ sudo dd if=/home/steve/Downloads/gparted-live-0.29.0-1-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M; sync

Partitioning hard drives is about the only thing I ever use GParted Live for, and that's its main purpose. The system boots up, and GParted is started automatically:

GParted uses the Fluxbox window manager. Here's a shot of the empty desktop:

GParted Live ships with other tools besides GParted, including:

PCManFM 1.2.5
NetSurf 3.6
LXTerminal 0.3.0
GSmartControl 1.0.1
Partition Image 0.6.9

NetSurf didn't work for me out of the box, so I didn't concern myself with it:

I don't know why the Calcoo calculator is included, but it's pretty cool:

The lower-level tool xcalc is also available, for those who want something simpler.

GSmartControl, as described here, "is a graphical user interface for
smartctl (from smartmontools package), which is a tool for querying and controlling SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) data on modern hard disk and solid-state drives. It allows you to inspect the drive's SMART data to determine its health, as well as run various tests on it."

Here's a shot:

Tools that don't appear in the Fluxbox menu can be found by examining the /usr/bin and /usr/share/applications directories. Some included command-line utilities:

fsarchiver      - File system archiver and restorer
partclone       - Backup partitions into a compressed image file (e.g., partclone.ext4)
partimage       - Backup partitions into a compressed image file
testdisk        - Data recovery tool that can help recover lost partitions
gpart   - (Older) data recovery tool that can help recover lost msdos partition tables
grub    - GRand Unified Bootloader for restoring GRUB 2 boot loader
mc      - Text based file manager known as Midnight Commander
nano    - Text editor
vim-tiny        - Enhanced vi text editor
parted  - Partition table editor
fdisk   - MSDOS partition table editor
sfdisk  - MSDOS partition table editor also useful to save/restore partition table to/from a file
gdisk   - GPT partition table editor
sgdisk  - GPT partition table editor also useful to save/restore partition table to/from a file
gptsync         - GPT and MSDOS partition tables synchronization tool useful for Mac OS X users
openssh         - Secure shell (ssh) connectivity tool suite
screen  - Screen manager with VT100/ANSI terminal emulation
ping    - Check network connectivity to another host on a network
rsync   - Fast, versatile, remote (and local) file-copying tool
telnet  - Communicate with another host using the TELNET protocol
traceroute      - Print the route packets trace to network host
bc      - Arbitrary precision calculator language

So, GParted Live can be used for a lot of things. While partitions on a hard drive or flash drive are not, by default, automatically mounted and accessible from GParted Live, I was able to access my hard drives, as well as another flash drive, by creating a mount point and then mounting the partition. I think I had to use sudo, but it didn't prompt me for a password. To get access to my drive's sda6 partition, for example, I used the following commands (after taking a look at the output from the lsblk command):

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/sda6
$ sudo mount /dev/sda6 /mnt/sda6

I used a similar routine to mount and access a flash drive (at /dev/sdc).

GParted Live's repository files are at /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/drbl-repository.list. As you can see below, GParted Live is based on Debian Sid. The contents of the sources.list file:

deb sid main non-free
deb-src sid main non-free

And, the contents of the drbl-repository.list file:

deb drbl unstable live-unstable
deb-src drbl unstable live-unstable

For download links and (much) more information, visit:

Also, see the GParted Live page at DistroWatch:

Monday, July 31, 2017

diggin' some fluxbox!

After installing Fluxbox in Debian Stretch, it might look like the default setup isn't much to work with, and the first impulse might be to go online to look for help. However, I found that apt-get install fluxbox brought in most of what I needed to get going, including great documentation.

If you can't find the app you're looking for in the default Fluxbox menu, commands can be run by opening up fbrun with the Alt+F2 keystroke.

Fluxbox comes with a bunch of fairly easy text files that can be used to modify just about anything. The key to Fluxbox, I think, is reading the documentation that Fluxbox comes with -- examine the default Fluxbox files, and definitely read the man pages.

I found the default Fluxbox files in the /etc/X11/fluxbox directory. Default Fluxbox styles are at /usr/share/fluxbox/styles. The idea is to copy default files into the ~/.fluxbox directory, then edit as desired.

For a little help and info, run:

$ fluxbox -h
$ fluxbox -info

man pages:
See man fluxbox as well as these other man pages: fluxbox-apps(5) fluxbox-keys(5) fluxbox-style(5) fluxbox-menu(5) fluxbox-remote(1) fbsetroot(1) fbsetbg(1) fbrun(1) startfluxbox(1)

Users should be sure to check out the ~/.fluxbox/keys file, to see what can be done on the Fluxbox desktop with the keyboard and mouse. This is important! See man fluxbox-keys for more info about using the keys file. My current ~/.fluxbox/keys file (Mod1 = Alt; Mod4 = Super):

# click on the desktop to get menus
OnDesktop Mouse1 :HideMenus
OnDesktop Mouse2 :WorkspaceMenu
OnDesktop Mouse3 :RootMenu

# scroll on the desktop to change workspaces
OnDesktop Mouse4 :PrevWorkspace
OnDesktop Mouse5 :NextWorkspace

# scroll on the toolbar to change current window
OnToolbar Mouse4 :PrevWindow {static groups} (iconhidden=no)
OnToolbar Mouse5 :NextWindow {static groups} (iconhidden=no)

#added by steve - middle click on the toolbar to open root menu
OnToolbar Mouse2 :RootMenu

# alt + left/right click to move/resize a window
OnWindow Mod1 Mouse1 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {StartMoving}
OnWindowBorder Move1 :StartMoving

OnWindow Mod1 Mouse3 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {StartResizing NearestCorner}
OnLeftGrip Move1 :StartResizing bottomleft
OnRightGrip Move1 :StartResizing bottomright

# alt + middle click to lower the window
OnWindow Mod1 Mouse2 :Lower

# control-click a window's titlebar and drag to attach windows
OnTitlebar Control Mouse1 :StartTabbing

# double click on the titlebar to shade
OnTitlebar Double Mouse1 :Shade

# left click on the titlebar to move the window
OnTitlebar Mouse1 :MacroCmd {Raise} {Focus} {ActivateTab}
OnTitlebar Move1  :StartMoving

# middle click on the titlebar to lower
OnTitlebar Mouse2 :Lower

# right click on the titlebar for a menu of options
OnTitlebar Mouse3 :WindowMenu

# alt-tab
Mod1 Tab :NextWindow {groups} (workspace=[current])
Mod1 Shift Tab :PrevWindow {groups} (workspace=[current])

# cycle through tabs in the current window
Mod4 Tab :NextTab
Mod4 Shift Tab :PrevTab

# go to a specific tab in the current window
Mod4 1 :Tab 1
Mod4 2 :Tab 2
Mod4 3 :Tab 3
Mod4 4 :Tab 4
Mod4 5 :Tab 5
Mod4 6 :Tab 6
Mod4 7 :Tab 7
Mod4 8 :Tab 8
Mod4 9 :Tab 9

# open a terminal
Mod1 F1 :Exec x-terminal-emulator

# open a dialog to run programs
Mod1 F2 :Exec fbrun

# volume settings, using common keycodes
# if these don't work, use xev to find out your real keycodes
176 :Exec amixer sset Master,0 1+
174 :Exec amixer sset Master,0 1-
160 :Exec amixer sset Master,0 toggle

# current window commands
Mod1 F4 :Close
Mod1 F5 :Kill
Mod1 F9 :Minimize
Mod1 F10 :Maximize
Mod1 F11 :Fullscreen

# open the window menu
Mod1 space :WindowMenu

# exit fluxbox
Control Mod1 Delete :Exit

# change to previous/next workspace
Control Mod1 Left :PrevWorkspace
Control Mod1 Right :NextWorkspace

# send the current window to previous/next workspace
Mod4 Left :SendToPrevWorkspace
Mod4 Right :SendToNextWorkspace

# send the current window and follow it to previous/next workspace
Control Mod4 Left :TakeToPrevWorkspace
Control Mod4 Right :TakeToNextWorkspace

# change to a specific workspace
Control F1 :Workspace 1
Control F2 :Workspace 2
Control F3 :Workspace 3
Control F4 :Workspace 4
Control F5 :Workspace 5
Control F6 :Workspace 6
Control F7 :Workspace 7
Control F8 :Workspace 8
Control F9 :Workspace 9
Control F10 :Workspace 10
Control F11 :Workspace 11
Control F12 :Workspace 12

# send the current window to a specific workspace
Mod4 F1 :SendToWorkspace 1
Mod4 F2 :SendToWorkspace 2
Mod4 F3 :SendToWorkspace 3
Mod4 F4 :SendToWorkspace 4
Mod4 F5 :SendToWorkspace 5
Mod4 F6 :SendToWorkspace 6
Mod4 F7 :SendToWorkspace 7
Mod4 F8 :SendToWorkspace 8
Mod4 F9 :SendToWorkspace 9
Mod4 F10 :SendToWorkspace 10
Mod4 F11 :SendToWorkspace 11
Mod4 F12 :SendToWorkspace 12

# send the current window and change to a specific workspace
Control Mod4 F1 :TakeToWorkspace 1
Control Mod4 F2 :TakeToWorkspace 2
Control Mod4 F3 :TakeToWorkspace 3
Control Mod4 F4 :TakeToWorkspace 4
Control Mod4 F5 :TakeToWorkspace 5
Control Mod4 F6 :TakeToWorkspace 6
Control Mod4 F7 :TakeToWorkspace 7
Control Mod4 F8 :TakeToWorkspace 8
Control Mod4 F9 :TakeToWorkspace 9
Control Mod4 F10 :TakeToWorkspace 10
Control Mod4 F11 :TakeToWorkspace 11
Control Mod4 F12 :TakeToWorkspace 12

Lately, I've been much more interested in Openbox than in Fluxbox, but I've gained a new appreciation for Fluxbox after installing it in Stretch and getting it set up to suit my tastes. It's super-customizable, it includes lots of great features for navigating and manipulating the desktop, and it's a pleasure to use for just plain getting work done.

Fluxbox is at version 1.3.5 in Debian 9 ("Stretch"), but the latest version (currently 1.3.7) can be found at or at


Sunday, July 30, 2017

a tweak here, a tweak there

Another look at my Fluxbox setup in Debian Stretch, this time with a top panel -- "toolbar" in Fluxbox-speak -- set to 100% width, and a revised menu:

In the ~/.fluxbox/init file, I'm using the following line for the toolbar:    RootMenu, workspacename, prevworkspace, nextworkspace, iconbar, systemtray, clock

The "RootMenu" part puts a right-arrow button on the toolbar; clicking on that opens the Fluxbox menu (which can also, of course, be opened with a right-click on the empty desktop).

Saturday, July 29, 2017

adding fluxbox in stretch

I installed Debian Stretch on an old notebook a few months ago; for this installation, I went with the Openbox window manager, but no desktop environment.

Later, I decided to add Fluxbox.

The default Fluxbox desktop in Stretch:

The default menu wasn't all that great, but it included an entry for gmrun, which was enough for me to get to work.

Here's how my Fluxbox desktop is looking right now:

Not too bad.

By the way, there's a project (still under development) called DebianFluxbox, which is "a Debian Pure Blend which aims to provide a fully configured installation of Fluxbox, a light weight windows manager, out of the box." Interesting; I'd like to check it out sometime.

Monday, July 10, 2017

time and date in plasma 5

KDE Plasma 5 (version 5.8.6 in Debian 9) is still kinda lacking when it comes to being able to customize the date and time formats, but the "Formats" window in the System Settings Module does help somewhat.

I prefer to have a 24-hour digital clock, and I like a mm-dd-yy date format. Or even something like  Jul 07 17 or Jul 07  -- either one would be fine with me. I can easily do these things in Xfce, but not in Plasma 5.

Getting the 24-hour digital clock was fairly simple; I marked the "Detailed Settings" box; then, changed the setting for "Time" to "Default (C)":

Then I clicked the "Apply" button. I had to log into a new session for the changes to take effect.

Note the "Examples" towards the bottom of the "Formats" window. The "short format" for the date is not exactly what I want. The "short format" is what shows up for the date on the panel; I saw no easy way to customize it to my liking, so in the end I decided to leave the date off the panel. I guess I can live with seeing the date when the cursor is hovering over the digital clock:

goodbye to the K, hello to the Swirl

Clicking on the big "K" icon on the KDE Plasma 5 panel brings up the Application Menu -- aka, at least in the old days, as "the KMenu." That icon is shown here, at the bottom of my left-side, vertical panel:

In Debian 9 ("Stretch"), I prefer a Debian logo icon. To change it, first I right-clicked on the "K" icon and selected "Application Menu Settings...":

In the Applications Menu Settings window, I marked the box to "Use custom image":

Then, over to the right of that, I clicked on the folder icon:

In the "Choose an image" window, I navigated to the /usr/share/pixmaps directory and selected debian-logo.png:

Then, back in the "Application Menu Settings" window, I clicked the "Apply" button:

All finished:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

stretch, with kde and openbox

Debian 9 ("stretch") was officially released as the latest Debian Stable on June 18. A little over a week later, I downloaded the debian-9.0.0-amd64-netinst iso and did a network installation; I went with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop, and I also added Openbox.

Stretch ships with KDE Plasma 5.8.6. I've added the Double Commander file manager to use instead of Dolphin, along with several other apps that weren't provided by default, like Geany text editor, VLC media player, Geeqie image viewer, and Mirage image viewer. Stretch comes with Firefox ESR (version 52.2.0), but I installed Pale Moon web browser to use instead.

Some other packages I added included synaptic, inxi, rsync, localepurge, screenfetch, and some stuff to use in Openbox, like nitrogen, gmrun, the Debian menu package, compton (for Konsole transparency in Openbox), and gxmessage for my logout/shutdown script.

The default Plasma desktop in Stretch:

Note the absence of application launchers on the panel. Those can be added, of course, but I kinda like that the choice is left to the user.

Here's a shot of the empty desktop after I made some changes:

Clicking on the KMenu displays what, in my opinion, is a smart arrangement: a customizable "Favorites" bar, which I use instead of "traditional" panel launchers; below that, the Logout, Reboot, and Shut Down buttons; the Application Menu, which I use instead of Plasma 5's default Application Launcher; and below that, a search box:

From the Desktop Settings, I switched around the mouse actions so that a left-click on the open desktop reveals the Standard Menu and a right-click opens the "Application Launcher" menu:

I've turned off most of Plasma 5's desktop effects, but one I've kept is the Desktop Cube. In my case, it isn't really a "cube" since I use only three virtual desktops:

For my Openbox setup, I'm using a customized desktop right-click menu, and a left-side, vertical tint2 panel with a few application launchers at the bottom. KDE apps, and all other apps, are of course available from within the Openbox session:

While many people complain (quite loudly, in many cases) that Debian is still too time-consuming (and, at times, still to difficult) to install and set up, I rather enjoy the process. I feel the same way about installing Arch Linux. For users with less patience and less time on their hands, there are many other Linux distros out there that provide nicer out-of-the-box experiences than what you'll get from Debian (or Arch), but at the cost of fewer installation options. Also, those "easier distros" tend to include a lot more stuff that I don't want or need.

In any case, I'm now set with another nice Debian Stable installation, which I'll be using on my main computer for the next two or three years. Life is good.

Some options for getting Debian can be found here:

Monday, May 29, 2017

keyring issues

While trying to bring in updates in Antergos the other day (with the pacman -Syu command), I saw the following error messages:

error: antergos-keyring: signature from "Antergos Build Server (Automated Package Build System) " is unknown trust
:: File /var/cache/pacman/pkg/antergos-keyring-20170524-1-any.pkg.tar.xz is corrupted (invalid or corrupted package (PGP signature)).
Do you want to delete it? [Y/n]
error: antergos-mirrorlist: signature from "Antergos Build Server (Automated Package Build System) " is unknown trust
:: File /var/cache/pacman/pkg/antergos-mirrorlist-20170527-1-any.pkg.tar.xz is corrupted (invalid or corrupted package (PGP signature)).
Do you want to delete it? [Y/n]
error: pamac: signature from "Antergos Build Server (Automated Package Build System) " is unknown trust
:: File /var/cache/pacman/pkg/pamac-4.3.6-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz is corrupted (invalid or corrupted package (PGP signature)).
Do you want to delete it? [Y/n]

I typed n for "no" at each of those prompts. Result:

error: failed to commit transaction (invalid or corrupted package)
Errors occurred, no packages were upgraded.

I got things fixed, but only after having to dig through a few threads at the Antergos forums. Today, I see the issue mentioned in the "Pacman & Package Upgrade" section at the main page of the Antergos forums (at the moment, there's a link to the "Error during updating" thread). Too bad that there wasn't an "official" announcement posted somewhere.

In any case, the commands I used here to fix the problem:

sudo pacman -U antergos-keyring-20170524-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
sudo pacman -Scc
sudo pacman-key --refresh-keys
sudo pacman -Syu

The above-mentioned "Error during updating" thread contains posts showing a similar set of commands -- slightly different than what I ended up using here, though:

pacman-key --verify antergos-keyring-20170524-1-any.pkg.tar.xz.sig
pacman -U antergos-keyring-20170524-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
sudo pacman -Scc
sudo pacman-key --refresh-keys
sudo pacman -Syu

Or, to "skip the sig-check":

pacman -U antergos-keyring-20170524-1-any.pkg.tar.xz
sudo pacman -Scc
sudo pacman-key --refresh-keys
sudo pacman -Syu

Good luck, Antergos users!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

from the 'labs

I haven't tried this one myself, but ArchLabs Linux was "inspired by" BunsenLabs. I'm a big fan of BunsenLabs even though I don't really use it these days, as I prefer my own Debian Stretch + Openbox installation. Still, BunsenLabs is easily my favorite Debian derivative, so maybe one day I'll have a look at ArchLabs. Can't imagine that I'd ever replace Arch with it, but I might like ArchLabs for a quick installation on a spare computer.

Anyway, thought I'd post a couple of links, for those who might be interested:

They've got a tutorial about installing ArchLabs in Virtualbox, too.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


For years, I've been a proponent of a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Many elite athletes would agree.

Consider the San Antonio Spurs and their cold-pressed fruit and vegeatable juice drinks. It seems that the Spurs are kinda tight-lipped about it, but according to the article linked below, "Several Spurs see their special drinks as an all-important first step to the recovery process that staves off fatigue and injury."

They may be on to something:

"Over the last decade, and despite an older roster, the Spurs have ranked first in the league with only 1,054 missed games to injury."

Article: The San Antonio Spurs, made with 100 percent juice

Sunday, April 30, 2017

use real words!

I hate emojis. What, people are too lazy to write with real words anymore? Or do they think emojis are cute?

They aren't cute. They're stupid.

linux setups

"The Linux Setup" feature at My Linux Rig: Nice place to read about what some people are doing with their Linux systems:

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Nice piece written by my friend, Wesley Hazen, for The Albuquerque Journal:

Downtown museum celebrates the telephone

I'm hoping to go over and check out the Telephone Pioneer Museum soon. Thanks, Wes!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

future system

A background I found today. I thought it fit nicely with Openbox, in Arch Linux.

The concept behind this "planetary system" may have roots in the sci-fi classic Ringworld, by Larry Niven (1970); the novel opens in the year 2850 AD.

"Ringworld won the Nebula Award in 1970, as well as both the Hugo Award and Locus Award in 1971."


Monday, April 10, 2017

one step closer

Announcement: Debian Installer Stretch RC 3 release

I don't think I'll be needing to try the RC3 release of the installer. I used debian-stretch-DI-rc2-amd64-netinst.iso for a Stretch network installation -- added Openbox to that -- and I used debian-stretch-DI-rc2-amd64-xfce-CD-1.iso for a Stretch Xfce installation. Both systems have been up and running for about a month now, and both look great. The final release of Debian 9 "Stretch" is just around the corner, looks like...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

plain and simple rules, no problem

I see a lot of shots being fired at the Arch forums for "their antagonistic approach" and "elitism" towards users of Arch derivatives who want to come to the Arch forums for support.

Personally, I have no issues with the Arch forum rules, which begin with:
These boards are for the support of Arch Linux, and Arch ONLY

If you have installed Archbang, Antegros, Chakra, Evo/Lution, Manjaro, Whatever, you are NOT running Arch Linux. Similarly, if you followed some random video on YouTube or used an automated script you found on a blog, you are NOT running Arch Linux, so do not expect any support, sympathy or anything but your thread being closed and told to move along.

Arch is a DIY distro: if someone else has done it for you, then showing up here asking to have your hand held for more help is just help vampirism and is not welcome.

I started out in the Arch world by trying out Arch derivatives Chakra, Bridge Linux, and ArchBang. Those distros convinced me to finally install "straight" Arch. I currently have an Arch installation as well as an Antergos installation.

Arch derivatives have been very important here, but, I'm sorry, they are not Arch. In all this time of running Arch and Arch derivatives, the Arch forum rules have never been a problem for me. These Arch-based distros do have their own forums, and there are also some Linux forums out there where questions about any distro are welcome -- for example, and the Bruno's All Things Linux forums.

Besides all that, users have the excellent Arch Wiki, web searches, and system documentation (man pages, help documents, etc.). With these tools at hand, I haven't found it necessary to post more than a few Arch-related questions at any forum.

If you use an Arch derivative, don't go to the Arch forums asking for help with that distro. Plain and simple. This is not "elitism", as some like to call it, but just a sensible approach that the Arch folks feel is the best one for them to take. Works out fine, seems to me.

d'backs sweep!

The Diamondbacks sweep the series! Not sure how many times I'll get to say that this season! This afternoon in Phoenix, the final score was Arizona 3, Cleveland 2. D'Backs start the (very) young season on fire, with 6 wins and 1 loss.

another amazing finish by westbrook

You can't be serious!

I didn't see the game, but...

Russell Westbrook gets his record-breaking 42nd triple-double of the season, with 50 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists on the road against the Denver Nuggets.

For Westbrook, the coolest part had to be that Oklahoma City trailed for much of the game, trailed by 9 going into the 4th, and trailed by 14 with 5:56 left. Westbrook notched his 10th assist, breaking the triple-double record, with 4:17 remaining; scored the team's last 15 points and 18 of their last 21; and hit a 40-foot game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. Thunder 106, Nuggets 105.


For most users these days, accessing flash drives in Linux is handled nicely by the desktop and file managers. But sometimes it's convenient to be able to mount a flash drive from the command line, as a normal user; for that, try the udisksctl tool.

I tested this in Antergos, in Debian Stable ("Jessie"), and in Debian Testing ("Stretch"). Insert the flash drive and run lsblk to check for the device name:

sdb1 is the device name for my flash drive. To mount it, I used:

$ udisksctl mount -b /dev/sdb1

The -b switch is short for --block-device, according to udisksctl mount --help.

Running lsblk again shows the flash drive mounted:

To unmount the flash drive, I used:

$ udisksctl unmount -b /dev/sdb1

For more info see man udisksctl, udisksctl help, udisksctl mount --help, and these excellent articles: