Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Its been a while since I've written for this blog.

These days I use KDE. Qt is a quality toolkit which I have plenty of experience with (more than GTK at least), and is supported by a wide number of langauges. The new QML/JS is particulary exciting to me, as is the fact that KDE runs on a number of QML/JS plasma extensions, meaning it is quick, easy, and fast to iterate for.

Specifically, I am using Kubuntu 12.04.2. I like Ubuntu for its stability, but I don't much care for Unity. If I wanted a Dock and a super bar, I'd use a Mac. If I wanted pure simplicity, I'd use GNOME3. But I like stability, wide support, and most crucially a capable desktop environment, so the KDE derivative of long term support release of Ubuntu makes a lot of sense to me. I can focus on software I love, and want to write, rather than focusing on something breaking on my desktop every few weeks (and believe me, it can pile up). It also offers me a lot of functionality and power, unlike lighter weight desktops such as lxde or xfce.

So, I though I'd revive this blog with a quick script to help any Ubuntu user to switch to Kubuntu. First, the code:
sudo apt-get --purge remove ubuntu-desktop unity unity-2d && sudo apt-get autoremove && sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop 

 What this code does is to remove the ubuntu-desktop and unity, and install kubuntu-desktop. However, there are couple other steps you'll want to make sure and follow. First, copy the script into a file somewher, say '~/switch-desktops' . Then, chmod the script so you can actually execute it:

chmod +x ~/switch-desktops 

For bonus points, if you have a directory in your path setup, you can move it there and leave off the directory when using it. Now, switch to Virtual Terminal 1 (VT1). In case you don't know, this is one of the numerous virtual terminals accessible via the F keys (e.g. F1-F9). Most graphical shells, like Unity or KDE, run on VT7 or VT8 these days. Simply use Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch to VT1.

Login into the terminal (same username and password as normal), and run your new shell script:


Or if you didn't put the file in the PATH, you can run something like:


Thats all! Happy Switching.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10, and Gnome 3

I'm going to a quick piece here on Ubuntu, Unity, and Gnome 3. Its been a while since 11.04 and 11.10, and while I'm learning how to bend Gnome 3 to my will, I figured I might as well start a comprehensive investigation into the concepts behind Unity and Gnome 3.

I started my current distro install somewhere around Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10, and I don't remember any major issues with those distros. Sure, there was a bit of instability here, there, but I remember running my laptop for months, on end.

With 11.04, I've been frequently lucky to get a day of my laptop without a full reboot.

But, this is not a lets-bash-Natty post, we can all agree that Ubuntu has seen better days; the question remains, how does 11.10 shape up?

Not well, in my experience. 11.04 broke my install, to the point that the system crashed, and I had to use my knowledge of apt-get to recover the package installs via command line. After much tinkering, I eventually got my 11.04 install to a usable state. 11.10 hasn't been much different so far, it took me the better part of 8 hours to fix the package states, after the OS went into completely frozen state of unresponsiveness. Yes, I have a lot of packages, around 3k, that I had to upgrade, but this I think is a fundamental design flaw with the distro. If you have that many packages, you should be able to keep distro-agnostic packages that don't care which "platform" you happen to be running, with the exception perhaps of compatibility layers in the form of scripts, for programs that may require some special love to work with the "distro settings", for lack of a better word.

Honestly, I suspect that my 3 GB of 3k packages was largely redundant packages provided on a new section of the Canonical server, not any real upgrades. Even after I've gotten 11.10 to come up for lsb_release -a, the packages were still largely broken and I'd ended up removing a lot of stuff that either had no business being removed, or I suspect had been artificially outmoded. Thanks Canonical, you apparently suck at software management (which means I should be trusting you why?). But sadly, to get support from Canonical (read to use the updates which will only be posted to Oneiric repos), the upgrade is mandatory, at the cost of completely switching to a new platform.

Which brings me next to the gui. Unity was a broken concept, IMHO, and remains one. This is not MacOS wannabe, this is Linux. We aren't wannabe anything. Docks are ok, if you don't attempt to force users into your concept of a dock, and if you don't force badly designed ui concepts on us. Thankfully, the Unity dock is not forced on us, it is merely pressed upon us at every major release by the parent company, and its fairly trivial to remove the dock with a checkbox in Compiz. With a bunch of other potentially annoying changes.

So what will I be going over in depth in subsequent posts, you ask?

A) What is and isn't broken in this new gui release of Unity + Gnome3.
B) Relative ease of getting Gnome3 to behave like the old Gnome2 components.
C) Investigation of productivity behaviors.

Finally, you may wonder why I simply don't move to another UI. Why not? Because I loved Gnome2. Unless you can say that another platform like LXCFE not only replicates Gnome functionality, but does it down to the configuration files, themes, and settings, then I'd say its not the same thing. There are also just a lot of gtk applications, such as the gimp, which look better when kept within their standard UI environment. Yes, Qt runs on Gnome, and Gtk runs on KDE, but for anyone's who has used either solution, they are likely familiar with some of the quirks that end up popping up.

One of the possibilities I will be investigating is rebuilding Gnome2 components using Gnome3 libraries. I have heard that such efforts exist, but the only fork I am aware of hasn't gotten very far; specifically I will be looking for people using the work that the (snobby) Gnome3 developers are doing, and using that work to replicate the very functionality they seem to loathe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Introductory Post

Greetings, and welcome to my blog.

This blog is intended primarily to be a chronicle of my linux experiences, as well as any tips and tricks I come across along the way.

A bit about me and my computing heritage -

I've grown up on Windows machines since I was probably about 5 or 6 years of age, starting with Windows 95 (we may have had earlier but I don't remember if we did), 98, 2000. My first personal computer was an XP, and so its perhaps with a bit of bias that I still swear by XP, though I've heard plenty of others swear by that OS, even in these Windows 7/8 days.

During the latter parts of my teen years, I began having my first experiences with MACs, first in a school library, later when my parents purchased their first Mac, a venerable OSX 10.4 Intel iMac. Upon attending a boarding school, I became thoroughly acquainted with them for a two year experience, and began learning how to hack on one with Terminal, as well as multi-os basics such as java, VMs, EFI, triple boots.

Since then, I've lost access to that Mac, but fell in love with what to me at the time seemed the ease of access, the amazing thing called a Terminal (and all the unixy bits it had to offer), and funnily enough, the synaptic package manager found in Ubuntu. I managed to screw that install up beyond my abilities to fix it at that time, and abandoned it in favor of more HDD space for my Window/MAC.

These days, I run primarily Linux. Occasionally Windows 7 (64-bit), when I feel the need (and that's rarely). I'm happy to say I can do all that I did (and more) on *nix, though I don't have any hatred towards Windows/MAC OS systems (though whether or not I agree with the companies that make those products, is another thing). I've been running Linux solidly for about a year and a half by now, and while its still a learning journey, I've come aways from being an utter noob.

You can find me on IRC as lorddelta, I'm usually hanging around the #qc (questionable content webcomic) and #sixgun (freenode) channels. I'm usually building software/websites, playing/dev-ing MineCraft plugins (, or hacking my (gnome/kde) desktop/portable devices (iPod/Kindle).


Here's to many more posts!