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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 27 Sep 2016

Back to Xfce after screwing around with KDE/Plasma and GNOME 3

After a couple of weeks trying to make GNOME 3 and then KDE/Plasma 5 work for me, I'm back in Xfce 4.12 full time.

GNOME for sure doesn't work for me, and while I really liked KDE's Plasma desktop, it created more problems than it solved.

So I'm back to Xfce, which works like a champ and doesn't get in the way.

In terms of GNOME apps, I've been using Gedit less and less since Geany is so good and allows me to compile code that needs it and run all code without leaving the editor (and without jumping through any hoops at all to make it happen).

One thing I picked up from KDE was that I can still tap the Dolphin file manager when I need it (which won't be very often, but the split-screen mode is something that every file manager should have).

I also revisited digiKam, the photo organizing/editing software from KDE. It is much better than the last time I used it, and I am thinking about continuing to use the app even though I'm not in KDE.

Otherwise GNOME is still a problem for me. I am required to jump through a lot of configuration hoops just to get the desktop I want.

KDE is better. I like the animations (which are minimal). I like the "KDE menu." But it's just not all that stable. And KDE Wallet was continually screwing with my Google Chrome cookies and saved passwords. I didn't need that headache to continue. I mostly used Firefox just to keep from wrecking my Chrome setup more.

One problem I had with KDE: It wasn't all that stable. I killed it more than a few times. However, I love the attention to detail when it comes to configuration.

I had problems with screen-grabbing in both GNOME and KDE. It was worse in GNOME. I couldn't get the print-screen key to actually do the screen-grab. I had to settle for mapping alt-P. And then I couldn't get the format I wanted (JPG, not PNG) or the proper location. If I called the screen-capture utility from a terminal, it would work like it was supposed to. But with alt-P, it didn't.

In KDE, kscreenshot was pretty good, though it also didn't work with the print-screen. I had to call it from the menu and leave it running.

The fact that the Xfce screen-shot utility just works -- and well -- is huge for me.

And as I say above, Xfce stays out of the way and runs like a champ.

So I'm back.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016

Video: Swing expert Jonathan Stout plays 'It's Only a Paper Moon' on a 1929 Gibson L-5 at Norman's Rare Guitars, and then I keep on writing ...

Swing guitarist Jonathan Stout lays out his philosophy on swing music, the guitar, Charlie Christian, Allan Reuss, REALLY old Gibsons and Epiphones, X-bracing vs. parallel bracing and more on his Swing Guitar Blog and Campus Five YouTube channel.

His latest video was recorded on another YouTube channel because he made it at Norman's Rare Guitars in Tarzana. where Jonathan plays Harold Arlen's "It's Only a Paper Moon" on a 1929 Gibson L-5 acoustic.

Jonathan is a wonderful guitarist who explores three distinct "directions" on the guitar: swing rhythm on the acoustic archtop, swing-style chord-melody on the same instrument and Charlie Christian-style swing-to-bop soloing on the archtop electric.

They really are three different kinds of playing -- watch Jonathan's videos and see what I mean.

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Fri, 23 Sep 2016

Ford to city: drop dead

Headless body in topless bar

Sticks nix hick pix

Thu, 15 Sep 2016

I'm using the KDE Plasma desktop - and liking it

Though I'm a longtime Xfce user on the Linux desktop (and a longtime user of Fedora as my distribution), I'm open to other things.

As I've written many times, I want to like GNOME 3. Fedora Workstation is based on it. But it just doesn't work for me. I don't want to say GNOME 3 is unpolished, but it's just too stripped down until you start shoving GNOME Shell Extensions onto your system.

Plus, GNOME 3 doesn't play well at all with the Citrix applications that I've been using for the past couple of years and will continue using for maybe the next six months.

And GNOME 3 just doesn't "feel right." And "feel" is something I don't want to ignore.

On what I suppose is a bit of a whim (or maybe I did it by accident, I can't remember), I logged in to the Plasma desktop. I don't know if calling their desktop "Plasma" short-changes the KDE brand, or if that matters at all, but I had a poor grasp of what Plasma is in relation to KDE.

It turns out I like Plasma (or KDE, or whatever it's called).

The desktop works well, is faster than you'd think and has quite a bit of polish. There are lots of configuration options, and they are all built in. It's not like the comparative tragedy of the GNOME Tweak Tool and gconf.

And I am growing very dependent on the Dolphin file manager.

Things I like about Dolphin:

  • Split mode. Nautilus used to have it. Thunar never did. It's like having windows in a car that actually open. That's a bad analogy, but the ability to easily transfer files from one directory to another without opening two file manager windows is so fundamental that I wonder why every file manager doesn't have it.

  • Faster transfer to USB flash drives. Is it my imagination, or is Dolphin configured to speed up the copying of files to USB flash drives. Those operations are notoriously slow when done on my Fedora system in other file managers. I know there are ways to speed up those transfers, but I'm too lazy to figure them out. I'm happy to have Dolphin do that for me. I'm pretty sure I got this wrong. The file transfers go at the same speed in pretty much all the file managers.

  • Configuration, configuration, configuration. KDE has always been about configuration of all the things. And GNOME has been not-so-slowly offering a stripped-down, hard-to-configure experience that is low on included tools. Xfce is very configurable, KDE/Plasma even more so. The file manager is such an important part of any system, it's vital that you are able to do what you want with it.

From the "feel" perspective, as I say above, KDE's Plasma desktop is much faster than billed. The animations don't distract. It seems relatively easy on the CPU. I installed the overly complicated digiKam, which I have used in the past because it's one of a very few Linux applications that allows editing of the IPTC metadata in JPG images that the media industry uses pretty much universally. While still complicated as hell, digiKam passes the IPTC test.

I have had problems with the KDE Wallet system "eating" my Google Chrome browser cookies, and that's something I'm not terribly happy with. I lost all of my stored passwords at one point. Firefox definitely "plays" better with KDE/Plasma.

And right now I'm having issues configuring the touchpad with the KDE-supplied utility, though that's today. It worked a few days ago. GNOME is really bad at this -- as is LXDE, one of the many DEs I've sampled in the past couple of weeks.

I can't say that I will move from Xfce to KDE/Plasma because I probably won't. But I can certainly see using the Plasma Desktop as my part-time environment, with Xfce still doing the heavy lifting for my media production and software development needs.

But you never know.

Mon, 12 Sep 2016

Using Dir.glob to delete files with a pattern in Ruby

I have a bunch of files in a directory, and I want to delete all that begin their filename with the letters X16 (e.g. X16data.xml)

I used Dir.glob to select the files and iterated over what comes up in the pattern, using File.delete to get rid of what I don't want (Thanks, Stack Overflow):

Dir.glob("X16*") do |file|
 File.delete(file)
end

You can put any kind of regex in here, and it'll probably work. That's the theory anyway.

Sat, 10 Sep 2016

The rubyzip gem for creating and opening archives

On my current project, I am trying to use using rubyzip to unzip an archive.

So far it's not working, and I'll probably shell out to Bash and Linux/Unix's unzip to get it done.

I figured it out. Now I have to manage the unzipped files (deleting the unused, renaming the good, then deleting the good at the beginning of the run) and account for NOT running the program if there is no file on the other end.

Mon, 05 Sep 2016

I could almost run OpenBSD 6.0

I could almost run OpenBSD 6.0. http://www.openbsd.org/60.html. When I'm allowed to abandon Citrix on an ice floe, that is.

More on TrueOS

More on what TrueOS (ex-PC-BSD) is all about https://www.trueos.org/more-on-trueos/