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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 03 Mar 2015

Xfce 4.12 Copr repos available for Fedora 20 and 21

Thunar in Xfce 4.12

Copr repos are to Fedora what PPAs are to Ubuntu. And there are Copr repos for the new Xfce 4.12 that work on Fedora 20 and 21.

So what's new in the long-awaited Xfce 4.12? The Xfce news post details the changes, and an online tour provides a more graphical look at the new release.

I'm running Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 21, and there's nothing in 4.12 I can't wait for, so I'll probably be sticking with what I've got until the next Fedora (or other) release I upgrade to or install.

But it's nice to see development continuing for Xfce, which had quite a dry spell between 4.10 and 4.12.

A nice note at the bottom of the Xfce.org tour:

A note on Xfce's portability

All but one of those screenshots were taken on machines running OpenBSD -current, a good proof that Xfce is still portable and friendly to all Unix systems.

Wed, 25 Feb 2015

How to turn on tap-to-click in LXDE on Fedora 21

Almost all the tutorials on tap-to-click for LXDE are on how to turn it off, mostly in Lubuntu.

I've just started experimenting with LXDE in Fedora 21 and was surprised to find out that I can toggle tap-to-click in the configuration of Xfce but not in LXDE, where there is no tap-to-click out of the box.

I repeat: There is seemingly no GUI way to toggle tap-to-click in LXDE. I'd love to be wrong, but I fear I am not.

There is more than one way to turn tap-to-click on with scripts, or modifying xorg.conf or files in xorg.conf.d.

I just wanted something simple. I turned to the synclient utility (using it in the terminal).

First of all you can use synclient to check your setup:

$ synclient -l

And to turn on tap-to-click:

$ synclient TapButton1=1

Like I say above, there are ways to do this via Xorg, and probably other ways, too.

I'm not sure whether or not there is a GUI in LXDE to autostart scripts, but I notice that one of the choices in LXDE's Desktop Session Settings is Xfsettingsd, the Xfce Settings Daemon. Could that bring some of my Xfce settings into LXDE? It's probably worth a try.

But for now, just running synclient TapButton1=1 in the terminal gets me where I want to be.

Sun, 22 Feb 2015

Jono Bacon: Too much hierarchy kills your company, community, family (and anything else)

"Bobbing for Influence" by former Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon, now community manager for XPrize, is an insightful look at a problem affecting many communities.

And if you don't recognize your organization, be it a family, project or company, as a community, you're doing it wrong.

Jono's articla is all about how rigid observance of hierarchy can really kill a company's culture, mission and even bottom line. The worst is when your boss/CEO/etc. thinks that acting like Steve Jobs is going to work. Steve Jobs was a genius. And an asshole. (The chances that you're a genius are slim. And the idea that genius only thrives when mashed up with asshole is stupid. Steve Jobs was an edge case who made thousands of other guys mock-turtle it up and steamroll everybody in their path. Not good.)

Be that as it may, Jono says it better:

A big chunk of the problems many organizations face is around influence. More specifically, the problems set in when employees and contributors feel that they no longer have the ability to have a level of influence or impact in an organization, and thus, their work feels more mechanical, is not appreciated, and there is little validation.

Now, influence here is subtle. It is not always about being involved in the decision-making or being in the cool meetings. Some people won’t, and frankly shouldn’t, be involved in certain decisions: when we have too many cooks in the kitchen, you get a mess. Or Arby’s. Choose your preferred mess.

The influence I am referring to here is the ability to feed into the overall culture and to help shape and craft the organization. If we want to build truly successful organizations, we need to create a culture in which the very best ideas and perspectives bubble to the surface. These ideas may come from SVPs or it may come from the dude who empties out the bins.

The point being, if we can figure out a formula in which people can feel they can feed into the culture and help shape it, you will build a stronger sense of belonging and people will stick around longer. A sense of empowerment like this keeps people around for the long haul. When people feel unengaged or pushed to the side, they will take the next shiny opportunity that bubbles up on LinkedIn.

Jono goes through 10 individual points on the problems of lack of influence in communities. I can think of few people who wouldn't benefit from reading this article. (I sure did.)

If this isn't a chapter in one of Jono's current books, it should be in his next one, for sure.

Mon, 16 Feb 2015

What is 8th? A cross-platform development environment/language ... but there's a $199 catch

I'm coming into this blind. I saw a link to the 8th site and found out that 8th is a while new programming language and development environment that allows you to code once and run on:

  • Windows
  • OS X
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS

Really?

As the 8th site says:

Program code is only written once, in 8th™, regardless of how many platforms are targeted. The code is then packaged to run on the target operating system, which may be any combination of Windows, OS X, Linux, Android or iOS. Differences between operating systems are handled by 8th™, letting the developer leverage existing knowledge across all platforms.

And it looks like simplicity is important to 8th. Here is the "Hello, World" program in 8th:

"Hello, world!\n" . bye

That's easy, all right.

I don't know enought about 8th, or about what exactly you can code with it, but the idea that these applications are so vigorously cross-platform really gets me thinking. Even just in the mobile space, the ability to code once for both Android and iOS is huge. And add to that all the major desktop OSes (Windows, OS X, Linux), and this could potentially be something.

There IS a catch (and truthfully, I didn't see it coming)

To produce "packaged applications" with 8th, you have to pay $199 per year.

I'm not sure this is good, let alone $199-per-year good.

What do you think?

Wed, 14 Jan 2015

Answers from a Fedora Xfce developer

Fedora developer (and Red Hat employee) Kevin Fenzi answers questions that users have about the project's Xfce spin in a new blog post.

As a longtime user of Fedora's Xfce spin, naturally I'm interested.

He covers:

  • The reasons why Xfce 4.11 is not in Fedora Rawhide (because there is no 4.12 release imminent, and 4.11 in "stable" Fedora would be bad, but there is a COPR repo for those who want it)

  • Rumors that Xfce, the project, is dead (It's not -- fixes and small changes continue to be committed; there's just no timetable for a 4.12 release)

  • The Xfce spin leaving its 700MB CD size behind and now aiming at 1 GB USB flash drive size in Fedora 22

  • Xfce continuing to be available for RHEL/CentOS users in EPEL

  • Ways of making Xfce work better on HIDPI displays (but don't expect miracles until Xfce adopts gtk3)

Read the original post. It's well worth it.

I've been running the Fedora Xfce Spin since F18, and I think it's one of the best-kept secrets in the Xfce-running distro world. It comes well-configured out of the box, looks great, is as cutting-edge as you'd want and really does just work most of the time.