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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sun, 30 Mar 2014

Printing with the HP LaserJet 1020 works again with Fedora 20, and I don't know why

I was ready to give up. But what's great about Fedora is if something's broken, sometimes waiting is all you need to do.

Your problem will be resolved somewhere upstream. And Fedora gets newness from upstream faster than almost anyone (Arch notwithstanding).

So I was able to print to the HP LaserJet 1020 from Fedora 18 and 19 but not Fedora 20.

It has much, much more to do with the HP LaserJet 1020 printer than it does with any part of the Linux operating system.

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Fri, 28 Mar 2014

Coming to Fedora's Xfce spin: the Whisker Menu and xfdashboard

This is a screenshot of the xfdashboardThis is a screenshot of the xfdashboard, which is billed as a GNOME Shell-like interface for Xfce

I saw on the Fedora Xfce mailing list today that it looks like xfdashboardand xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin are coming to the Fedora Xfce spin's ISO, if not as default choices at least as things you can add to your desktop after the fact.

I'm a fan of the Whisker Menu, which I already have installed, but I've never heard of xfdashboard, which brings a GNOME Shell-like desktop experience to the world of Xfce. I don't particularly want that, but it's an interesting idea.

I support bringing both of these packages, which are already in the Fedora repositories, to the Fedora Xfce Spin ISO (and therefore the default install), and I encourage you to try them out.

Xfce Theme Manager is kind of a train wreck, but I ended up with borders on the sides of my windows (and that ain't bad)

I was looking through the Fedora packages for Xfce applications I hadn't yet installed, and the Xfce Theme Manager came up.

I installed it. Then I ran it.

It screwed up my desktop. Not all the themes in my system were in the Theme Manager, and I was switched over to one of the few themes that were in there. My icons all grew larger in size. (Thank you very much. I'll be here all week. Please be sure to tip your waitress.)

So I had to re-select the Adiwata theme and manually shrink my icons.

But something good came out of it. For some reason Xfce themes have been "losing" the borders on the left and right sides of windows, and I have no idea now to restore them.

The Xfce Theme Manager has managed to do this for me, and I wouldn't want to reverse this change even if I knew how.

But otherwise the Xfce Theme Manager is trouble. I already removed it.

However, it did get me borders on the left and right sides of windows. And for that it was worth it.

Rhythmbox remains under active development, gets updated to version 3.0.2

You've heard the "Rhythmbox is dead" rumors. At various times over the past few years, the GNOME-centric music player, which I favor even in non-GNOME environments, has been called out for a lack of development, and replacements have queued up to take its place.

Well today a new Rhythmbox flowed onto my Fedora 20 system, and I took the opportunity to look at all of the fixes that went into the March 23, 2014 release of version 3.0.2.

Wed, 26 Mar 2014

Google Starbucks WiFi is strong in Granada Hills

So I'm at the Starbucks at Devonshire Street and Balboa Avenue in Granada Hills, CA, which happens to have Google (i.e. no longer AT&T) Internet service.

I'm getting 8.5 Mbps down, 1.3 Mbps up.

And there are a lot of people with laptops and tablets in here.

That's pretty solid.

If only my local Starbucks would dump AT&T for Google.

I'm not ignoring the fact that Google is able to collect a whole lot of data when you use this public WiFi. A lot of people use Google DNS ( and, which is a genius move because I always remember it), but with Google WiFi they control the whole connection.

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Sat, 15 Mar 2014

Interesting report: Phoronix's Michael Larabel on running Xubuntu with new Asus hardware after giving up on OS X

I saw a very interesting article in Phoronix, in which Michael Larabel writes about issues he is having with Xubuntu and a new Asus laptop after giving up on running Linux in a virtualized environment from within OS X on a Macbook Pro.

Later: I forgot to mention that I have tried the Xubuntu 14.04 Beta. It doesn't look radically different from previous Xubuntu releases. At first. There is a big change in the way the distribution deals with its application menu:

The Xubuntu developers didn't just add the increasingly popular Whisker Menu (which I use and like), they removed the traditional Xfce menu. I have both menus on my system. It's a trivial thing to add the "original" menu back to your panel, and I do think that the Whisker Menu can replace it, but it could be a bit unsettling to someone who is expecting a more vanilla Xfce experience.

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OpenBSD replacing Apache web server with nginx

In a move that surprises no one at this point, OpenBSD is in the process of pulling the Apache 1.3.x web server it has been maintaining on its own for what seems like forever and replacing it with the hot web server of the 2010s -- nginx.

Having a web server in the base install is mighty quirky in the first place, and OpenBSD has proudly flown this particular freak flag with no sign of changing things up.

But as much as a built-in web server (it's quite a help for development, in my opinion) is an enticing feature for many users, having that web server be nginx, which couldn't be more popular at this particular moment in geeky circles, should give many more people a reason to take a look at OpenBSD.

I'm not sure exactly how nginx will be configured in OpenBSD, by which I mean: Will it be possible to run CGI scripts without jumping through hoops due to a chroot environment?

Fear not, fans of the Apache web server. It will still be there in ports and packages for your use in OpenBSD.

Editorial: I don't think running CGI in Apache in the OpenBSD chroot was (or is) impossible in and of itself. What I do think is that a lack of interest among OpenBSD users and developers in doing it and writing tutorials about it made it pretty much impossible. Without someone leading the way, it's hard to stretch the well-established use case on just about any platform (those use cases being networking and firewalling on OpenBSD).

That OpenBSD users and developers are not interested in a particular feature, making said feature difficult to implement for mortal users -- and leading to "why do I have to re-invent the wheel?" syndrome among them -- is something you just have to accept when using a platform for a use case that isn't in its popularly accepted wheelhouse.

Thu, 13 Mar 2014

Actor/geek icon Wil Wheaton less than happy with Ubuntu

Rumbling around the Internet the past few days is talk about actor/geek icon Wil Wheaton's Google+ post about not being terribly in love with Ubuntu.

At least he's running it with Xfce.

The post made its way to OMG Ubuntu! where it provoked much discussion.

Much of it was of the "How dare he!" variety, though there were plenty of people who pointed out that the opinions of non-Linux users sampling today's distros are extremely important.

My constant complaining about the lack of proper suspend/resume with the open-source drivers and the concurrent lack of a packaged closed-source AMD driver in Fedora is the longtime user's equivalent.

For me, the benefits of Linux on the desktop outweigh the trouble I've had over the last year with video and suspend/resume.

But a new user who's on the fence? It's just another deal-breaker.

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Wed, 12 Mar 2014

After four days, I go back to AMD Catalyst in Fedora 20

I lasted four days this time. After I couldn't log in one morning after rebooting Fedora 20 under AMD Catalyst, I pulled the proprietary driver, leaving the open Radeon driver to run the graphics on my HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop.

With every new kernel, Radeon gets better. I'd say the performance differences between Catalyst and Radeon on this hardware are small enough that I'd be happy to stick with Radeon and leave Catalyst upgrade trouble behind (mostly because THERE IS NO CATALYST PACKAGE FOR FEDORA 20, THOUGH NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE).

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70 Decibels' Generational on blogging -- a detailed, geeky discussion on platforms of all kinds

For a very deep dive into blogging systems, listen to 032 - Blogging Platforms with Bob VanderClay. The blog post itself is valuable because there are dozens of links to just about everything they talk about. You can also go directly to the audio.

Here is the description of the show:

This week Gabe and Erik geek out about blogging platforms with Bob VanderClay. They discuss Blogging-as-a-Service (BaaS) vs. self-hosted blogging, then explore the advantages and disadvantages of static, dynamic, and hybrid blogging engines. Along the way, they touch upon a number of related topics including templating languages, commenting, writing tools, hosting providers, and backups.