Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sat, 25 Jul 2015

Still using Linux, just not talking/reading/obsessing about it

I'm probably using more Linux than ever. My laptop runs Fedora. I'm the admin on a server running CentOS.

I will keep doing those things.

But today I unsubscribed from most of the mailing lists that have been flowing through my Gmail account over the past few years.

The Debian, Fedora, Xubuntu and Lubuntu users list? All gone. So are the development lists for Debian, Fedora and Xubuntu, and most of the others. I'm keeping a few low-volume lists. For now anyway.

I was always more of a lurker than active participant on all of those mailing lists.

Lately, and probably before that, I didn't find much of value in most of that mail. Even though the quality of the Fedora lists is a bit higher than average, I wasn't getting a whole lot out of them. I'd scan the mail, maybe read one or two posts every few days, then delete the whole lot.

At this point, I see my operating system as a tool. To get things done.

I'm not interested in Linux evangelism. If you want to use it, that's great. I still do and will do.

If not, that's cool. Do what makes you happy.

I'm still a satisfied user of Linux. It's pretty much all I've run on my laptops since maybe 2009, and I messed around a whole lot with it before that, starting in late 2006 if I remember correctly.

There's more to life.

There's my family. I sure as hell want to do better where they're concerned.

Putting together coherent sentences? I'm still very much interested.

I've threatened to write about more than Linux for years. I'd like to write about things that aren't technology. It's been in the sidebar of this particular blog for as long as I've been writing it.

I see the "tech guy" on the morning news, and I wince. Is that me? Other than the fact that I'm very obviously not on TV, I worry that it is.

There's more to life than gadgets and apps.

That being said (there's always a that being said) ...

It sounds like I'm just on the other end of the same pool, but lately programming has dominated what little free time I have. I read a whole lot about it. And occasionally do it. Maybe I'll be able to tip the scales toward more doing in the near future.

I've been playing with Go, Perl, Python and Ruby. I need to focus.

Coding is what interests me at the moment.

What I'm not playing with are Linux distributions. I don't burn ISOs of anything, don't install just to see what something's like.

New releases of obscure distributions, or even not-so-obscure ones? I'm just not into it.

The ins, outs, politics and boiling pots of the Linux world? Not interested.

Give me my working Fedora system (or maybe Debian if the hardware is willing) and let me do my work, write my code, live my life.

If that sounds melodramatic, so be it.

I reserve the right to change my mind. But for now, I'm 50 other things first and a Linux user after that.

Fri, 24 Jul 2015

Writing with Vim, especially for Mac users

Writing with #vim, especially for #mac users https://lilii.co/aardvark/writing-with-vim

Paragraphs in the Web - a deep dive into typography

Take a deep dive into paragraphs on the web https://lilii.co/aardvark/paragraphs #CSS #javascript

11 JavaScript Code Snippets for Dynamic Web Projects

11 #JavaScript code snippets for dynamic web projects https://webdesignledger.com/tips/javascript-code-snippets

Thu, 23 Jul 2015

Reasons for choosing Perl web framework Mojolicious

From @jhthorsen: Reasons for choosing Perl web framework Mojolicious http://thorsen.pm/perl/programming/2015/07/10/a-restful-backend.html

I am working on my first Ode addin

I am working on my first http://ode.io addin. Made much progress today.

Wed, 22 Jul 2015

Did you know that Reddit is open source?

Did you know that @reddit is open source? https://github.com/reddit/reddit

Blog comments in the age of social media

The comments problem is hard. Because spam, most blog software punts by using @disqus

This Ode-to-Twitter thing is working out

This blog-to-Twitter setup, in my case using http://ode.io, to create social-media entries, is working out.

The Now time toolkit in Go

I'm very interested in time as it applies to code, and Now time toolkit is available in Go https://github.com/jinzhu/now #golang

Use Go to sync to Amazon S3 with gosync

Use gosync to sync files with Amazon S3 https://github.com/brettweavnet/gosync #golang

Writing web apps in Go

A really nice tutorial on writing web apps in go http://golang.org/doc/articles/wiki/ #golang

Thu, 16 Jul 2015

This Virgin Mobile hotspot is seven times faster than DSL Extreme

This @virginmobileusa wifi hotspot using my LG phone is 7 times as fast as @DSLExtreme when working, which it's not

My Virgin Mobile phone-as-wifi-hotspot is way faster than DSL Extreme

Out of desperation using @virginmobileusa phone as hotspot. It's cheap and super fast

Wed, 15 Jul 2015

DSL Extreme, I am dead to you, as you are to me

.@DSLExtreme, I am dead to you, as you are to me

All of my tweets live here

All of my tweets begin and live here: http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog/updates/ #recursive #ownyourcontent

From 'What's the Go language really good for': GTK for Go

From http://www.javaworld.com/article/2929811/scripting-jvm-languages/whats-the-go-language-really-good-for.html: GTK http://mattn.github.io/go-gtk and GTK3 https://github.com/conformal/gotk3

What's the Go language really good for?

What's the Go language really good for? http://www.javaworld.com/article/2929811/scripting-jvm-languages/whats-the-go-language-really-good-for.html

Filezilla working again in Fedora 22

After many months during which the FileZilla FTP client would eat a ton of CPU and basically stop working in Fedora, whatever was wrong has been fixed, and the program is working once again.

After a FileZilla update caused the problem (and yes, I did contribute to the bug report), I set up gFTP because I need a working FTP client. And gFTP gets the job done. It's super fast. It's also not actively developed.

Maybe I'll go back to FileZilla. Maybe not. But it's nice to have the option.

Tue, 14 Jul 2015

475-square-foot Orange, Calif., apartments

Tiny vintage apartments in Orange, Calif., are 475 square feet. Check out the photo gallery http://www.ocregister.com/lansner/apartment-671316-one-siler.html

Automate the Boring Stuff With Python - book and videos

https://automatetheboringstuff.com isn't just a great @nostarch book (that I happen to own), it's also a series of videos #python

Mon, 13 Jul 2015

Hardcore Go training

Hardcore Go training from @ardanlab https://github.com/ArdanStudios/gotraining #golang

Introduction to Go book and videos

I already have and recommend http://www.golang-book.com and just discovered a ton of videos based on it: http://www.golang-book.com/guides/bootcamp #golang

Can you see this Markdown-coded image?

Steven Rosenberg

This image was coded with Markdown. Can you see it?

Can you see this picture on Twitter?

It's Steven Rosenberg, shot by Hans Gutknecht

Can you see this picture on Twitter?

The Sourcegraph Blog has a lot of Go in it

Follow https://sourcegraph.com/blog for Go #golang

Revel is a web framework for the Go programming language #golang

Revel is a web framework for Go http://revel.github.io #golang

The L.A. Times uses Python, Django, QGIS, JavaScript to do traffic accident project

The @latimes breaks down the tech behind its deadliest-intersection project http://graphics.latimes.com/la-pedestrians-how-we-did-it/ #python

Checking out EditEdit on mobile

Short posts made with http://ode.io addin #EditEdit should work fine on Android

Sun, 12 Jul 2015

I fixed my dryer again

Fixed my clothes dryer again. Needed to change those coils that open the gas valve. My 2nd time doing this repair #cheap

Why Are People Still Waiting for Proprietary Linux Apps?

Why Are People Still Waiting for Proprietary Linux Apps? http://www.datamation.com/applications/why-are-people-still-waiting-for-proprietary-linux-apps.html

How a complete beginner learned Go as her first backend language in 5 weeks

How a complete beginner learned Go as her first backend language in 5 weeks https://sourcegraph.com/blog/live/gophercon2015/123565059490

Sat, 11 Jul 2015

Ellen Pao out, Steve Huffman back in as Reddit CEO

Ellen Pao is out, original CEO Steve Huffman back in at Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/3cucye/anoldteamatreddit/

Fri, 10 Jul 2015

Using dlvr.it to split my regular and 'social' posts out of Ode

I've been playing with the idea of using Ode as both a traditional blogging system as well as a social platform, generating exactly the kinds of posts that I normally would originate on social media sites like Twitter.

With the help of dlvr.it, this is entirely possible with not just Ode but pretty much any blogging platform.

The key to this concept is that my social-media updates should originate on my system, where they will continue to live. They would be mine. Twitter will have a copy, but I will have the "original."

And now I can tell you that it's easy to do this. And it doesn't just work for Ode but can be done on any blogging platform (including WordPress) that allows you to post to categories and tap into RSS for that specific category.

Read the rest of this post

There are ways of posting to Twitter

Twitter has https://github.com/twitter/twurl and https://github.com/sferik/t uses #Ruby to access it

My Ode-to-Twitter bridge is text only

Images appearing in blog posts do not become "native" images on Twitter. Maybe there's a hack for this.

Planning my blog/social update app

Now using dlvr.it to turn blog entries in a specific directory into Twitter posts. Would love to work directly with an API

This is a microblogging post that will appear both here and on Twitter

I am now posting to Twitter from http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog/updates with help of http://dlvr.it

The state of Go: Russ Cox's keynote at Gophercon

Russ Cox's keynote Go, Open Source, Community at Gophercon

Welcome to updates

This is where I'm going to stash the kind of updates I'd usually put on Twitter.

I'm not going to think of where in the directories (aka folders) it should go.

If it's a quick update, it'll go here.

For the Ode people, I'm thinking of using EditEdit, Ode's de facto GUI, to do these quick updates.

Ode project leader Rob Reed and I have discussed adding Twitter-like (or, to be suitably generic, microblogging-like) speed and ease to Ode (or any filesystem-based blogging program, for that matter), and a simplified, mobile-enabled version of EditEdit would be a great way to do that. Or a mobile app that (for my purposes and on my Ode workflow) generates the proper text file, uploads it, reindexes the blog for Indexette and rebuilds my archive page.

The "disconnect" between "regular" blog posts and social/microblogging updates are that a blog post traditionally contains a title and then a block of text (or a message, if you will), and a "social" update is just the text, with no title.

Should be easy enough.

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 09 Jul 2015

The Evolution of Go by @robertgriesemer from #gophercon #golang

The Evolution of Go, a talk by @robertgriesemer, from Gophercon 2015 in Denver.

Sun, 05 Jul 2015

Learning Go: create a web server in five lines

The documentation for Go (aka Golang) is peppered with examples, and one of those examples, for Go's net/http package, shows you how to easily create a file server.

net/http is part of Go's standard library Here is the example code from golang.org/pkg/net/http:

package main

import (
    "log"
    "net/http"
)

func main() {
    // Simple static webserver:
    log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(":8080", http.FileServer(http.Dir("/usr/share/doc"))))
}

When you drop this code into a file in a directory (in my case I made the directory web_server and named the file main.go), then either compile it with go build or run it with go run, it creates a web server on port 8080 that serves the contents of your /usr/share/doc directory, which always exists in Linux and Unix (and probably in the Mac OS X version of Unix).

To see the results, open a web browser and go to http://localhost:8080/, and you should see a directory listing. Just like any web page, you can click on the links and see what's in those files.

This example program -- a web server in five lines -- is fun to play around with. You can change the http.Dir and serve "real" web content. You can change the port from :8080 to something else.

Sun, 21 Jun 2015

I wrote my Ode Indexette time-stamp program in golang

Last year I decided to write a short script that outputs the time/date-stamp line required for Ode's Indexette add-in.

Back in 2014, I did it in Perl, Ode's "mother" language. It's really just a two-liner with a whole lot of notes:

#!/usr/bin/perl

# The purpose of this script is to generate a in Perl
# that allows automatic creation and insertion of an Indexette
# tag into an Ode blog post. The tag looks like this:
# tag : Indexette : index-date : 2014 02 17 19:30:42

# This program should produce the above output with the current
# timestamp.
#
# The next task is to get the output into your text editor
# without needing to copy/paste out of the terminal.
#
# To bring the output of this program into the Gedit text editor:
#
# 1. Make sure Gedit's Snippets plugin is installed and active
# 2. In Gedit, under Tools > Manage Snippets, create a new Snippet
# and call it as a shell command like this:
# $(1:/your/path/to/this_script)

# Here is the script:
#
    ($sec,$min,$hour,$mday,$mon,$year) = gmtime();
    printf("tag : Indexette : index-date : %04d %02d %02d %02d:%02d:%02d\n", $year+= 1900, $mon+=1, $mday, $hour, $min, $sec);
#
# Notes on the script:
# Adding 1900 to get the current year, adding 1 to get the current month

I've been playing around with lots of other languages since then. I know I should stick with one and really learn it, but for now it is what it is.

I decided to try to get the same output from the Google-created go (aka golang) programming language, and with the help of this web page, I was able to hack it together pretty quickly:

package main

 import (
    "fmt"
    "time"
 )


 func main() {

    // get the current time in UTC

     indexette_time := time.Now().UTC()

    /* print the time to standard output in the format
    required by Ode's Indexette add-in. Note that the 
    .Format parameters use an "old" date just to set 
    the format, the output will be the current time
    due to the use of time.Now() */

     fmt.Println("tag : Indexette : index-date :", indexette_time.Format("2006 01 02 15:04:05"))

}

I'm still calling the script into gedit the same way (through Snippets), and it works just as well as the Perl version.

One thing I just learned about go that's pretty cool is you can run your go program as a script, or compile it as a binary and run that. Advantages of a binary are that it's portable -- anybody with a system for which the binary is built can run it without needing to install go on their own system. And the binary should run faster than the script, though this is admittedly not an issue for three lines of code.

But it's cool anyway.

In the case of this script, I named it ode_time. Through experimentation, I figured out that the go build program that makes the binaries takes their name from the directory containing the file. So since I wanted the go binary to have the same name as the file, I gave the directory the same name, too:

My script file is here (I'm leaving out most of the path, but suffice it to say this is the place where I keep my program files):

/golang_code/ode_time/ode_time.go

I run the uncompiled script this way while in the /ode_time directory:

$ go run ode_time.go

I get this output:

tag : Indexette : index-date : 2015 06 21 00:52:23

Perfect!

I wanted to make a binary just because.

Here's how I did it. I am working in the /ode_time directory that contains ode_time.go:

$ go build ode_time.go

Now the directory contains two files:

ode_time ode_time.go

The first is the binary (which was automatically made executable by the go build command), and the second is the "raw" go script.

So I can now run the binary from my console like I'd run any binary that isn't in my path:

$ ./ode_time

And I get the same output.

tag : Indexette : index-date : 2015 06 21 00:55:04

The takeaway: I wanted to write a go program, and with the help of the Internet (and people who actually know how to do these things), I did it. And it was a program that I use on a daily basis -- whenever I write a blog post for my Ode system.

I like the idea of go, which is the language used by the Hugo static blogging system. The documentation seemed OK, but I did have to go "off the reservation" to find an example that I could work off of.

I'll clearly have to seek out tutorials and books if I want to pursue programming with go. Fortunately there are a few go books about to be released, and that might help me figure it out.

Sat, 06 Jun 2015

I love the design of wit.io

I stumbled across the wit.io blog. The layout is nice, but it's the typography I love.

Here's an entry: Clojure: All grown up

The font, the sizes, the colors of the type and the background. I like it.

Font color is #666

The background color is #e9e9e9

From the CSS:

font-family: "Gentium Book Basic",Vollkorn,Baskerville,"Hoefler Text";

The Vollkorn font is drawn in from Google:

@import url(http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Vollkorn:400italic,400,700&subset=latin);

Nice!

Sat, 30 May 2015

Getting rid of workspaces in GNOME 3

It's not that I don't like virtual desktops (aka workspaces) in Linux.

On the contrary, I love them.

But when I'm using the horrible Citrix-delivered applications my company provides, switching to another workspace (or virtual desktop) causes those apps to lose their connection to the server.

So I have to be disciplined in order not to switch to another workspace.

In Xfce I removed the desktop pager from my panel.

And just now in GNOME 3, I was searching for an Extension that would do this for me. I found an out-of-date Extension that included a very good workaround in the comments:

This extension didn't work for me on Fedora 20/GNOME 3.10. Instead I used GNOME Tweak Tool and set the 'Workspace Creation'=Static and only 'Number of Workspaces'=1.

I already have GNOME Tweak Tool, since you really can't run GNOME 3 (successfully anyway) without it. I went into the Workspaces portion of the utility and made the changes.

Now my Workspaces are gone, as is the ability to even go to them with ctrl-alt up/down-arrow, and I should be safer than ever to use GNOME Shell for my Citrix work ... unless minimizing apps, or switching between them, kills the connection.

Update: Switching between applications, including my Citrix-delivered ones, and minimizing them with the Super (aka Windows) key or mousing into the hot corner does NOT cause the Citrix apps to lose their connection to the server.

So we can call this a win. I'll know for sure when I try to do a full day of production in GNOME 3 on Monday.

Tue, 26 May 2015

Gear review: The iRig 2 guitar interface to iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

The iRig 2 guitar interface

Here's my short and not so sweet review of [IK Multimedia's iRig 2] guitar interface to the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and some Samsung Android devices.

The iRig 2 was floating around the office, and I figured that I'm a guitar player, I've always been interested in headphone-amp type solutions, and maybe this would enable me to play an electric guitar, with the aid of my iPod Touch 5th Generation, and leave amplifiers behind.

Here's the challenge: I play jazz mostly. I don't like distortion. Jazz guitar for the most part requires a lot of headroom but no distortion.

Can the iRig 2 handle it?

First of all, the iRig 2 is an inexpensive device. It's something like $39. That's cheap. So how much can you expect from it? How good is the onboard preamp?

Read the rest of this post

Dodgy Windows 8 leads to me running Citrix on Fedora Linux

I wasn't even going to write about how I used to run Citrix on Windows 8 instead of Linux on my HP laptop because my particular Citrix-delivered application reacted poorly to the horrible DSL Extreme broadband service at home and its frequent (every three minutes or so) total dropouts. Maddeningly, the crucial link to "reconnect" to my application was present the Firefox and Chrome web browsers under Windows but absent in those same browsers under Linux.

No, I was instead going to write about how to configure Citrix in Linux to allow you to access local drives via your Citrix apps. I'd like to thank the Ubuntu community for that very helpful portion of an overall Citrix-on-Linux page that has helped me many times.

But since I'm already going this road, here is how and why I decided to do my Citrix-based production work in Fedora Linux instead of Windows 8.

Initially I thought I "had" to use Windows for the ungainly Citrix-delivered apps that my employer requires, including Adobe InCopy (which I wouldn't wish on anybody) and a proprietary CMS from Hell. That was when I was having Internet issues at home and kept getting disconnected from my Citrix apps.

But since then I've "solved" my broadband issue, and the connection is slow yet consistent (as opposed to slightly faster but extremely inconsistent; thanks DSL Extreme, who I'm dropping as soon as my contract ends).

So once I had "consistent" broadband, I thought I was home free. I could run my Citrix apps under Windows 8 (the 8.1 upgrade fails for me every time, probably because I dual-boot Fedora, and an encrypted Fedora at that) and all would be well.

Except that Win 8 started crashing. Yeah, I'm stressing the #$%& out of it, but that's how I work.

Read the rest of this post

Static blogging systems written in Ruby

I'm always looking at new blogging systems, and here are a few links about systems written in Ruby:

http://www.sitepoint.com/static-blogging-g-face-middleman-vs-jekyll/

http://www.sitepoint.com/wordpress-vs-jekyll-might-want-make-switch/

http://www.sitepoint.com/6-static-blog-generators-arent-jekyll/

https://middlemanapp.com/basics/blogging/

You might already know about Jekyll and its close cousin Octopress, (I do), but this is the first I've heard about Middleman, which is billed as a general static-site generator written in Ruby that can be configured to produce a blog.

I dumped the links above with little context because I waiting to explore where they lead, as I hope you will, too.

Trying to remove LXDE from Fedora 21 breaks Xfce, and why Fedora makes for a sturdy Citrix platform

I installed the LXDE desktop environment a while back. Part of me just wanted to check it out because it has been awhile. But I also was "auditioning" it as a potential working environment in Fedora because I'm now doing a lot more of my $dayjob work via Citrix Receiver in Linux instead of Windows.

As a current Xfce user, moving to LXDE isn't quite the culture shock as it would be going from, say GNOME or KDE to the LXDE environment.

Things I liked in LXDE included that it picked up on the Adiwata Dark theme I'm using in GNOME and had a lot more "darkness" to it than Xfce picks up when I choose Adiwata on that side and Adiwata Dark in GNOME. Doing the latter makes GTK3 apps show up with a dark theme, though all GTK2 apps are as white as the Xfce Adiwata theme makes them.

Things I didn't like included a lack of screen animation when clicking an application button in a panel (I never knew if I really clicked it or not) and (more crucially) no way to manage touchpad tap-to-click in a GUI.

Yeah, it came down to touchpad management. Xfce is good at it. LXDE is not.

So I stopped using LXDE, barely used GNOME 3 (too many issues with Citrix and too hard to configure the way I want/need it to be) and focused on Xfce as my go-to desktop environment.

I recently removed the desktop pager from my upper panel to keep myself from accidentally clicking into a second desktop and causing my Citrix apps to lose their connection to the server. It's barbaric. But I can accept it.

And now LXDE has been hanging around unused on my Fedora system for more than a little time.

I figured, why not remove it?

So I went into my favorite Fedora package manager, searched for LXDE and removed everything that came up.

Bad move.

There were things in that mass package removal that Xfce needs.

After that ill-fated software removal, Xfce lost its wallpaper. And its ability to pretty much work at all. Applications would launch, but they would no longer refresh on the screen. And I couldn't do much of anything.

How did I set things right?

I went into Yumex again -- yes, it did work -- and added back all of the LXDE items.

Now Xfce works once again. And I still have LXDE.

Mon, 27 Apr 2015

The Latvian-coded ONLYOFFICE adds document server for Linux

The new onlyoffice.org page for the self-hosted version of the software

In my first entry about ONLYOFFICE, which is both a software-as-a-service offering you can purchase for individuals or teams and software you can install on your Linux system via traditional package or Docker containers, a key piece of the puzzle was missing.

That piece was the "document server," which allows users to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations through the web browser in real time.

As of April 20, ONLYOFFICE is offering Document Server 3.0 to make that happen.

And to separate out the hosted service from the community edition, there are now separate web sites at http://onlyoffice.com and http://onlyoffice.org

Also announced that day are Mail Server 1.0, and Community Server 8.5.0.

And according to the blog post, you can get it all in one bundle.

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 02 Apr 2015

Have you heard of ONLYOFFICE? It's like Google Docs, only it's not from Google ... and you might be able to run your own instance

How could I have missed ONLYOFFICE? If not for this How to Forge article on installing it, I would have never known that it existed as a hosted alternative to Google Docs/Spreadsheets or that you can self-host the software, though I'm not sure how functional the roll-your-own version is at this point.

The air leaves the balloon when I see this line:

*Online Document Editors aren't included into the Community Server solution and will be available soon as a separate installation, however now you can download the previous version.

Without the "online document editors," what's left?

I certainly want to try ONLYOFFICE on their hosted service. The world is crying out for collaborative tools that aren't controlled by Google/Apple/Microsoft.

At my day job, we've been using Slack to collaborate and mostly cut down on email. Probably half the attraction is that Slack is not part of a massive corporate entity.

Any of the biggies -- Google, Microsoft, Apple -- could have done what Slack is doing. They still could. It's pretty simple. And that's one of the main reasons why Slack is so compelling. I expect Slack to do much more as time goes on. I also expect somebody big to make an offer to buy Slack outright.

Like Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, Slack is a hosted service. It has to stay that way to monetize. Or so it seems.

Companies like mine are happy to use hosted services. We are deep in Google (Docs/Drive/Mail). A large part of the attraction is not having to host, troubleshoot or maintain the software or the servers. Many companies large and small don't think of IT as part of their core business and would rather farm it out to Google, Amazon or Microsoft (and often all three). Or it comes down to cost. The cloud can be cheaper. Or at least those costs are consistent.

But there are other people, entities and companies that desperately want to host and run their own services and keep everything under local control.

Just because it's a cloud world doesn't mean we don't want our own cloud (even if OwnCloud isn't quite the way to do it).

If ONLYOFFICE lives up to the hype, it could be a player for those who want to collaborate using web-based apps while retaining total control over their work.

This just in: There are forums for the hosted ONLYOFFICE and the self-hosted version.

Printing in Linux with the HP LaserJet 1020: The 2015 edition

Printing in Linux with the HP LaserJet 1020 has been a battle since forever. It used to be easier.

Back in Fedora 19, it really did just work. Same with older versions of Debian. (Can you tell I've had this printer a long, long time? It was cheap. It is small. It still works.)

But since Fedora 20 (and into Fedora 21, and other Linux distributions, as a trip around the web will confirm), it's been hell to get this printer to work.

That's because HP cheaped out with the LaserJet 1020 and didn't put the necessary firmware on board. You have to load that firmware with every print.

Linux should be able to handle this. Hell, HP's own HPLIP utility should be able to handle it.

No and no.

The printer shows up as a USB device, but neither CUPS nor HPLIP acknowledges its existence.

Every few months or so, I try again. I re-Google and look for clues. I go back and try things again.

Today I came upon Mark911's How to install printer drivers for HP Laserjet 1020 in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit without needing access to openprinting.org website and without using buggy hplip drivers. (That title is even longer than my titles ...)

It basically says, "Get rid of HPLIP, don't use the foo2zjs driver with your distro, and instead go to the source, compile it yourself, add the firmware and go to town.

So I did just that. I went to http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/. First I used my favorite Fedora package manager, Yumex, to get rid of HPLIP and foo2zjs (the latter from RPM Fusion, if I'm correct).

During the process, I also had to get rid of system-config-printer-udev to get hot-plugging set up.

I downloaded the foo2zjs source from http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/, followed the instructions for compiling it, getting the HP LaserJet 1020 firmware, configuring hotplugging and restarting the CUPS spooler.

Then I started Fedora's system-config-printer GUI (which you can start from the menu as Administration - Print Settings or at the console with system-config-printer, sent out a test page, which worked (!!!), and the proceeded to print a document out of gedit, which also worked.

The question now is, will this loveliness survive a reboot?

Later: This configuration does survive a reboot. And a suspend/resume.

SELinux trouble?: If SELinux throws an error when you plug in your USB printer, follow the utility's instructions for allowing an exception for your printer.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015

Reddit: Why do developers choose OS X over Linux?

If you're wondering why real-life developers (and I suppose primarily web developers) who happen to hang out on Reddit often choose OS X over Linux for their laptop/desktop operating system, read this lengthy Reddit thread, which Jim Lynch brought to my attention.

Especially due to the large number of comments, it provides a very interesting snapshot of why a given developer chooses one platform or another.

Since you can now embed Reddit comments in your HTML, I'll provide a few samples:

There are 500+ more comments over at Reddit, and the thread is well worth reading.

My $.02

  • I neither need nor can afford the Adobe Creative Suite. I use GIMP, Inkscape, Gthumb, Irfanview under Wine, OpenShot (and I hope to pick up KDEnlive).
  • If I needed Microsoft Office, I could run it under Wine or in a VM. (Now I do most things in Google Docs/Spreadsheets or LibreOffice, if not in a local text editor)
  • I am a Linux hobbyist, and meeting the little challenges required to set up a computer with Linux is something that I enjoy. Yes, I'm probably a glutton for punishment. And things are never as smooth as billed in the "other" OSes (Windows and OS X).
  • There will always be Linux distributions that will work on my hardware and have timely security and bug-fix support. Windows is OK at this, but Apple sucks hard by orphaning hardware with no regrets (on their part, anyway).
  • I love coherent, systemwide package management and vast software repositories.

But

  • If my work required an Adobe-type proprietary application or three, I'd have to run them on OS X or Windows. I would do that if I had to.
  • Even though, as I mention above, I'm a self-proclaimed Linux hobbyist, going months and months on hardware without checking off all of my "it works" boxes can be disheartening.

That said, my laptop price point is ~ $500, and that's well below anything Apple offers.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015

Test your (or any) web site’s availability with Apache’s ab utility

Buried in this blog post is a great tip: Using the Apache web server utility ab to determine web site availability and speed.

Definitely check out the post (which is about hosting static sites on Amazon S3), and if you are interested, install ab, which comes bundled for Debian/Ubuntu-style Linux systems in apache2-utils and for Fedora/RHEL/CentOS-style systems in httpd-tools.

The article linked above gives you the command to install apache2-utils in Ubuntu/Debian, and I could provide a similar yum command for Fedora/CentOS, but you probably already know how to install packages both from the command line and a GUI, right?

(I'm not sure how you'd get the Apache utilities in Mac OS X or Windows -- maybe someone else knows.)

Once you have the appropriate package installed (I already had it and didn't even know it), you just run the ab program from a terminal. This line hits my site with 1,000 requests:

$ ab -n 1000 -c 40 http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog

And the output is:

This is ApacheBench, Version 2.3 <$Revision: 1604373 $>
Copyright 1996 Adam Twiss, Zeus Technology Ltd, http://www.zeustech.net/
Licensed to The Apache Software Foundation, http://www.apache.org/

Benchmarking stevenrosenberg.net (be patient)
Completed 100 requests
Completed 200 requests
Completed 300 requests
Completed 400 requests
Completed 500 requests
Completed 600 requests
Completed 700 requests
Completed 800 requests
Completed 900 requests
Completed 1000 requests
Finished 1000 requests


Server Software:        nginx/1.6.2
Server Hostname:        stevenrosenberg.net
Server Port:            80

Document Path:          /blog
Document Length:        309 bytes

Concurrency Level:      40
Time taken for tests:   4.828 seconds
Complete requests:      1000
Failed requests:        0
Non-2xx responses:      1000
Total transferred:      530000 bytes
HTML transferred:       309000 bytes
Requests per second:    207.14 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:       193.109 [ms] (mean)
Time per request:       4.828 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:          107.21 [Kbytes/sec] received

Connection Times (ms)
              min  mean[+/-sd] median   max
Connect:       71   82  32.9     76    1077
Processing:    76  106  31.6     96     431
Waiting:       76  105  29.9     96     282
Total:        148  188  46.7    182    1157

Percentage of the requests served within a certain time (ms)
  50%    182
  66%    189
  75%    199
  80%    209
  90%    232
  95%    259
  98%    283
  99%    312
 100%   1157 (longest request)

That's a pretty useful utility, am I right?

Note: So how did Ode do in this test? Very well. The site carries Javascript for Disqus and the Twitter and Google Plus counters, so it's not as light as it could be, and the speeds are no slower than for my entirely static sites on this same shared-hosting server.

And it also shows that Ode can easily handle 1,000 simultaneous requests. Not bad at all.

Sat, 07 Mar 2015

PulseCaster records both sides of your conversation - and I can confirm that it works

PulseCaster has a very simple GUI

So I'm looking for PulseAudio-related software today, and I come across PulseCaster, a Python application created by former Fedora Project Leader (and current Red Hat employee) Paul Frields.

It's a simple app. On Linux systems equipped with PulseAudio (which these days is most of them), it will record both sides of a conversation you are having on any application that pushes that audio over PulseAudio. The default is recording both sides of the conversation to a single OGG file. There is an "advanced" setting that records each side of the the conversation as a separate, uncompressed WAV file.

It's a simple app, and I can tell you that it works well. The wiki suggests that you use it with VOiP apps like Ekiga and Twinkle. Let me tell you now that it also works just fine with the non-free, freedom-hating Skype.

If you wanted to record a podcast, or just a VoIP call with someone else (and yes, PulseCaster warns you not to record without the other party's permission), it couldn't be easier than this.

PulseCaster's warning screen

PulseCaster is packaged for Fedora, but you can get the code from the links on the project home page (which is generated out of GitHub).

It's a simple app that works. What more could you want?

All the PulseCaster links you'll need: Wiki, GitHub, Home

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.

Sat, 03 Jan 2015

Strehler is a new CMS built with Perl and the Dancer2 Framework

Spotted on Reddit is Strehler CMS, described as "A light-weight, nerdy smart CMS in Perl based on Perl Dancer2 Framework."

I'm not sure what to say about it, and I haven't even found a blog running it, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Fri, 19 Dec 2014

I'm running Fedora 21 with Wayland, and so far (almost) everything is working just fine

After saying I wouldn't jump into a Fedora 21 upgrade, I rather quickly had a change of heart and mind, ran a Fedup upgrade and am now running Fedora 21 on my go-to HP Pavilion g6 laptop.

With Wayland.

Yep, one of the new features of the GNOME 3.14-running Fedora 21 is a preview of the next-generation, post-X Window Wayland display manager, and you can choose "GNOME with Wayland" in the login/session manager.

I'm running Wayland right now. I've heard the caveat many times: Not all applications will work in Wayland. But so far, every application I've tried (Firefox, Gedit, Transmission, FileZilla, VLC, Files/Nautilus, Liferea, Yumex, Google Chrome, Geany, even apps in Wine) has run in Wayland with no trouble.

I've been running Fedora 21 for a few days now, spending most of my time in the non-Wayland world of Xfce and GNOME with X, and the system is as solid as ever. And by that I mean pretty damn solid.

The only glitch I've had with Wayland has been in suspend/resume, which is pretty touchy anyway with my hardware. (I've probably written 50 posts about it since I got this laptop.) When running Wayland, the laptop will suspend and then resume, but I'm seemingly "detached" from my session and have to log in again. At this point I'm logged in twice. This doesn't happen in X. If this is the only thing I can find wrong with Wayland, I'll still consider it pretty remarkable.

Just from a "look and feel" perspective, GNOME 3.14 is working better and faster than version 3.10 did in Fedora 20. I'm not saying I'm going to throw Xfce over for it, but the environment is more usable than ever. I moved to the Adiwata Dark theme while still in F20, and everything looks that much better in F21.

As I've said since I began running Fedora 18 on this laptop and upgrading via Fedup to each subsequent release, a system as forward-looking as Fedora shouldn't be anywhere near as stable as it is. It's a tribute to the developers for Fedora and the many upstream projects that go into the distribution.

Today marks only nine days since Fedora 21 went stable, and my system is running like a well-maintained watch.

So if you think of yourself as the adventurous type, someone who likes everything to be pretty new all the time but doesn't really want to deal with a lot of breakage and is curious about Wayland in the real world, give Fedora 21 a try.

Later: You know what got fixed in Fedora 21 that was broken in F20? Mounting of Apple iOS 8 devices.

Tue, 16 Dec 2014

This is an Ode Markdown formatting test

This paragraph is set off with tabs and has a Markdown-generated link:

This is my Ode site, [which lives here](http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog).

This paragraph uses "blockquote" HTML tagging and an HTML link:

This is my Ode site, which lives here.

This paragraph is set off with tabs and has an HTML-tagged link:

This is my Ode site, <a href="http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog">which lives here</a>.

None of this text uses the "code" tag.

So my question is, how do you call "blockquote" without "code" in Markdown?

Later: I have the answer. Set off every line with the > character:

> This text will be set off in blockquote style.

With the proper Markdown, this becomes:

This text will be set off in blockquote style.

Fri, 12 Dec 2014

Fedora 20 confession: Now that F21 is out, I'm enjoying the quiet

So I haven't upgraded my daily-drive Fedora 20 system to Fedora 21, which was released two short days ago.

From what I can see, the RPM Fusion repositories are ready for F21. Google Chrome might break, but a quick removal and reinstall should fix that.

In F21, there will be many changes in the GNOME desktop environment and applications.

But for my go-to desktop environment, Xfce, it's going to be pretty much the same. (Yes, Xfce is moving glacially slow, and I've heard talk of people turning to the GNOME 2-inspired Mate desktop because it's under heavy development.)

My web browsers (Firefox and Chrome) won't fall behind. I get the latest versions from Fedora and Google, respectively.

I'm dabbling in Ruby, and F20 has version 2.0. F21 has 2.1, but at the level I'm at, it doesn't matter.

And now that all the heat is on F21, it's been relatively quiet, update-wise for F20. It's a bit closer to running Debian Stable. After awhile you get a few security patches here and there, but updates are quiet and quick.

Even an old (but still supported) Fedora release gets more updates than a current Debian Stable, but for the moment, I'm enjoying the ritual of staring Yumex and seeing either only a few or, better yet, no updates waiting to be installed.

Sure I'll move to F21. It could be tomorrow (probably not) or next month (you're getting warm). But what's the hurry?

Sat, 06 Dec 2014

Keybase: Cryptography and keys made easier

I'm trying to wrap my head around https://keybase.io/. http://devio.us uses it, and that's how I learned of its existence.

I already use keys for some services, so I'm not completely in the dark, but I sense that between the Keybase web service and local command-line interface, this is something useful.

Thu, 04 Dec 2014

Unhappy Node.js users fork the Joyent-run project, creating community-driven io.js

The Node.js server-side Javascript runtime is today’s hot thing. You might say it’s the Ruby on Rails of the ’10s. Where developers used to code in Perl and PHP, then Ruby/Rails, today’s startup-fueled web-development world is all about Javascript on the server, and Node is the grease that makes it all go.

And sitting atop the Node.js heap is Joyent, the company where Node creator Ryan Dahl was working when he came up with the idea and the code to make it run.

So even though Node.js is an open-source project, its direction is largely guided by the for-profit Joyent. And that doesn’t sit so well with some Node users/developers.

As reported in InfoWorld and elsewhere, a group of them just started a fork of Node.js called io.js, which is now living on GitHub and prepared to take the Node code in a community-driven direction.

As the io.js project’s “Read Me” text states:

"This repository began as a GitHub fork of joyent/node where contributions, releases, and contributorship are under an open governance model.

"We intend to release, with increasing regularity, releases which are compatible with the npm ecosystem that has been built to date for node.js."

As InfoWorld previously reported the Node forking threat has been floating around for awhile, and in response Joyent created an advisory board to get more community input into what has become one of the most-used open-source projects in the world of web-delivered application development.

Fighting, infighting, forking and just plain grumbling is nothing new to open-source projects. Friction over the transition from Python 2 to Python 3, the never-ending gestation of Perl 6, everything about Linux distribution Ubuntu and its SABDFL (self-appointed benevolent dictator for life) Mark Shuttleworth since he moved the buttons from right to left, Debian and the now-raging debate over the systemd init system that’s so much more than an init system … and the beat goes on.

The question is, does Joyent have enough developer (and major corporate) juice to keep Node as the glue holding together today’s Javascript-driven web stack?

The short-term bettor says yes, since Javascript on the server is so “now,” and corporate IT has wrapped its arms firmly around Node. But since Javascript on the server has gone from curiosity to total domination in a few short years, and there’s always something new on the hot-development-tool horizon, it’s anybody’s game.

If the many-horse race over “best Javascript web framework” is any indication, another player in Node’s space is nothing more than the familiar brand of healthy competition that keeps the technology world on its code-slinging toes.

Most forks come to nothing. Just like ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once said in all his sweat-drenched glory, it usually comes down to “developers, developers developers.”

Wed, 03 Dec 2014

So I did a Fedora 21 install, and the Anaconda installer was efficient and super quick

I needed to do a bare-metal install of Fedora 21 today, and I used the beta image for the live Xfce Spin.

I didn’t do anything special. The whole disk was devoted to Fedora. I encrypted everything.

It was probably the quickest Linux install I’ve ever done — even quicker than OpenBSD’s excellent text-based installer, where if you go with the defaults you have a working system within minutes.

Sure Ananconda isn’t “linear” like other installers, but once you get used to its “hub and spoke” logic, you can bring up a Fedora system very, very quickly.

As much as I love Debian, whenever I try to do anything complicated with disk partitioning, I run into trouble. Ubuntu’s Ubiquity installer is pretty good, too. But considering the bad press that Fedora/RHEL’s Anaconda installer has gotten over the past few years, once you get to know it, you can do installs very quickly and efficiently.

Thu, 27 Nov 2014

The secret to successful suspend/resume in Linux on the HP Pavilion g6-2210us

After a year and half, I've finally cracked suspend/resume in Linux on the HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop (AMD A4-4300M APU with AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics) with the open-source Radeon driver.

I've been able to successfully suspend/resume for some time on this laptop with the closed-source AMD Catalyst driver, but two things have prompted me to give that driver up for the open Radeon driver:

1) AMD Catalyst hasn't been packaged for Fedora since Fedora 19, and we're about to see Fedora 21 released with no indication that things will change. There are at least a couple of workarounds that will get Catalyst/fglrx on your Fedora 20 system, both of which I've written about at length, but I'm tired of doing them. While the Catalyst/fglrx experience is somewhat smoother on distributions that are serious about packaging the driver (Debian and Ubuntu come to mind), breakage is inevitable on fast-moving distros like Fedora that get new Linux kernels all the time.

2) While AMD Catalyst allows the laptop to run cooler at idle (I'm pretty sure it runs at a similar temperature under load), the quality of video -- actual videos in applications like VLC, that is -- is better with the latest Radeon driver than with Catalyst. Briefly, when I'm watching something and the image is "moving," it breaks up horizontally in Catalyst, not at all in Radeon.

But suspend/resume trumps all. Having it with Catalyst kept me ... running Catalyst.

Now that I've cracked the code for successful suspend/resume without Catalyst, the infrequently updated, not-packaged-for-Fedora, closed-source driver is fading in my virtual rear-view mirror.

So how do you get suspend/resume working on this particular HP Pavilion g6 (or similarly equipped) laptop?

There are two changes you need to make in GRUB.

Read the rest of this post

Fri, 21 Nov 2014

Two Debian Jessie firmware packages that make the HP Pavilion g6-2210us run better

I've been doing test installs again, among them Debian Jessie, and things don't work as well as they should on my HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop without a couple of firmware packages that can be installed after a little tweaking.

Before I go on, for my particular laptop with a Realtek wireless module, the two Debian packages I need to install are firmware-linux-nonfree and firmware-realtek.

If you use the "regular" Debian images to install, as I did this time, instead of the harder-to-find, unofficial ones with non-free firmware included, after installation you have to first get into your /etc/apt/sources.list file as root and add the contrib and non-free repositories, update your software sources with apt, and then install the firmware packages.

First, as root, modify your /etc/apt/sources.list, adding contrib non-free to every repo line.

Here are a few web sites that can help if you've never done this before.

Let me just say that if you hope to use Debian for any length of time, you WILL be mucking with /etc/apt/sources.list, so you might as well learn it now.

Once you have contrib and non-free added to your lines in /etc/apt/sources.list, use either su or sudo to update your software sources with apt. Since sudo isn't in the Debian default (though I always install and configure it immediately with visudo), I will give the "recipe" below as if you are using su with the root pasword to get full privileges:

$ su

(enter the root password when prompted)

# apt-get update
# apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree firmware-realtek

Then reboot the box, and you are good to go.

Thu, 13 Nov 2014

Why OpenBSD runs so hot on AMD A4 APU hardware -- and how to cool it down 20 degrees C

The good news is that I can run X in OpenBSD 5.6 on my AMD A4 APU-equipped HP Pavilion g6 laptop. Before now, starting X would cause a kernel panic.

The bad news is that the laptop runs very, very hot.

This OpenBSD misc post explains it:


List:       openbsd-misc
Subject:    Re: Slow performance on Radeon (HD7770) video card
From:       Jonathan Gray 
Date:       2014-06-22 5:12:12
Message-ID: 20140622051212.GC9087 () mail ! netspace ! net ! au
[Download message RAW]

On Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 10:32:55PM +0200, Julian Andrej wrote:
> Hello,
> 
> i'm getting really low performance on my ATI Radeon HD7770 video card.
> glxgears runs at poor 27 fps and videos are stuttering (playback with
> mplayer and different -vo options).

We don't do acceleration on southern islands or newer Radeon
parts because it depends on LLVM, glamor and drm backed EGL.
This also requires the gbm part of Mesa which until very
recently has only supported Linux and udev/systemd.

Yes, even basic 2d acceleration requires this mess because
xf86-video-ati only has OpenGL backed glamor acceleration
for these parts, they didn't write any normal X style acceleration.

In the default configuration, my cpu is running at 70-80 degrees C as reported by:

$ sysctl hw.sensors

I was able to cool it down about 20 degrees C with this (as root):

# sysctl hw.setperf=0

I'm sure there's a way to get that parameter set automatically on boot, but I leave that to you (or for me another day).

So now I'm getting CPU temps of 50 to 65 degrees C, which is 122 to 149 degrees F. Not horrible, but not anywhere near the 95 to 120 degrees F that I get in Linux.

I did a few other OpenBSD 5.6 tests. I installed the Firefox browser and then the Xfce desktop environment.

Both worked well. Video playback from YouTube stuttered quite a bit. Audio was low, even when boosted via the Xfce volume control.

Then I installed GNOME, which consisted of adding the metapackage and making a couple of configuration changes.

That went well. I had a working GNOME 3 desktop in OpenBSD 5.6. I must say, it is probably more responsive than GNOME 3 in Fedora. It's pretty much like it is in Debian, except for the CPU heat and the fan blowing.

So the combination of excessive heat and fan noise along with poor video performance means I won't be doing much with OpenBSD on this particular laptop.

But it's always instructive to check in on OpenBSD with various hunks of hardware to see how they work together. OpenBSD has always been a project to watch, and I can only hope that hardware compatibility improves as development continues.

Mon, 27 Oct 2014

I just installed the TopIcons extension to GNOME Shell

After reading about it on one of the Fedora mailing lists, I hunted down and installed the TopIcons extension to GNOME Shell so the Dropbox icon shows up and persists in the upper panel.

So far I'm very happy with it.

I'm experimenting, as it were, with GNOME Shell and the GNOME Classic version of same, now that I'm using the open Radeon video driver and not the closed AMD Catalyst version (the latter of which does not play well with GNOME 3 at this point in time).

I finally did figure out suspend/resume in Radeon on my hardware (which I will write up at some point soon), so I'm able to run GNOME 3/Shell in addition to my go-to desktop Xfce. Suspend/resume has been a little squirrely at times, so I'm experimenting with it more than just a little before I declare myself satisfied with the fix.

Part of this means getting my GNOME Shell Extensions situation together so the environment isn't so user-unfriendly. To me anyway.

Fri, 24 Oct 2014

Matt Asay on why PostgreSQL is suddenly cool

Why is PostgreSQL on the upswing while Oracle and the Oracle-controlled MySQL are going the other way? Matt Asay aims to explain it all at ReadWrite.

Thu, 23 Oct 2014

Ars Technica looks back at 10 years of Ubuntu: The hopes, the dreams, the kerfuffles

As Ubuntu hits its 10th year as a Linux distribution, cause celebre and all-around topic of conversation among the free-software set, Ars Technica takes a look back at what started with release number 4.10, nicknamed Warty Warthog in 2004 and continues today with the version 14.10, named Utopic Unicorn.

Tue, 21 Oct 2014

The Debian Jessie installer: first impressions -- desktop choice (yay), encryption fail (boo)

I did a Debian Jessie install last week. This was a traditional install on "real" hardware, more specifically a different drive on my daily (HP Pavilion g6) laptop.

As much as I've praised the Debian installer in the past, and I'll praise it a little bit right now, I will also drop it in a hole and throw a shallow layer of dirt over it just because.

First of all, the Debian installer experience seem much the same in Jessie as it was in Wheezy and Squeeze before it. I don't remember it being much different in Etch. That was my first Debian installation, so my memory, hazy as it is, ends there.

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Catalyst/fglrx trouble in Debian (and not just in Fedora)

My AMD Catalyst (aka fglrx) trouble in Fedora is well-documented. Biggest of the big at this point is that the proprietary AMD driver DOES NOT work with GNOME 3.

The reason for this incompatibility seems to be that GNOME is getting ready for the Wayland display server, and code associated with that move makes GNOME crash when you try to run it under Catalyst/fglrx, which appears to know nothing about the imminent arrival of Wayland. (Note: You can play with Wayland today in Fedora 21. I did so briefly before the whole thing fell apart on me.)

The lack of an easy-to-install (i.e RPM-packaged) proprietary AMD driver has been a problem since the release of Fedora 20 and no doubt is a major factor in why nobody has packaged Catalyst for a Fedora/RHEL-derived distro since.

Yep, there is no RPM-packaged Catalyst for Fedora 20, and it looks like the situation will continue through the Fedora 21 cycle. There is also no Catalyst RPM -- from RPM Fusion or anybody else -- for RHEL/CentOS 7.

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Tue, 14 Oct 2014

Developer of Stella, the best CentOS-based distro for the desktop, not looking to create a CentOS 7 version any time soon

I've been saying for the longest time that if you want to run RHEL/CentOS on the desktop and don't want to quickly hit a wall in terms of packages, you need to either run the Stella spin on CentOS, or use the developer of that project's repo to give your existing CentOS/RHEL system what it's otherwise lacking.

Who is that developer? I'm talking about Nux, who not only produced the great CentOS 6-based Stella, but who also offers repositories for RHEL/CentOS 6 and now 7.

The way I look at it, without the Nux repo, you are going to miss a LOT of packages you're accustomed to seeing in Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian that you just don't see in Fedora, EPEL, El Repo and RPM Fusion.

Yep, three extra repos won't give you the desktop packages you need.

But the Nux repo will. And luckily at this point it's got hundreds of packages you might want or need for RHEL/CentOS 7.

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Dietrich T. Schmitz of Linux Advocates likes Fedora 21 Workstation

The reviews are starting to roll in for the now-alpha Fedora 21 Workstation, and Dietrich T. Schmitz of Linux Advocates likes what he sees so far:

It's a good sign when I find myself smiling, which is what happened after installing Fedora 21 Alpha Workstation. As I write, and after a week of poking around Fedora Workstation Alpha, I am thinking: "This is Alpha? It's more production-ready than other general releases I have seen". Seriously Folks, it's that stable. The most obvious change? Visual. Fedora Workstation gets the proverbial face lift with GNOME 3.14. And that is what keeps me smiling.

Go to Dietrich's review for more on F21 Workstation, including screenshots.

Thu, 09 Oct 2014

So I'm totally into Reddit right now

I recently started looking at Reddit, and I'm enjoying it.

It's more like Slashdot than not. The biggest difference is that on Reddit, it's easier for anybody to post a "topic," and actually see their post on the live site.

Fri, 26 Sep 2014

I turned off automatic Windows updates

I'm not in Windows 8 so often (except for the past two days) that on the rare occasions when I do load it up I am at all happy to wait a half-hour or more for the machine to shut down because it's downloading and installing dozens of updates.

I turned automatic updates off. When I have time, I'll boot into Windows 8 and do the updates manually.

Thu, 25 Sep 2014

With dodgy broadband on dodgy apps via Citrix, I turn to Windows 8

I had a pretty good day yesterday running the dodgy over-Citrix apps I need for my $Dayjob. But when bandwidth is poor and I keep getting disconnected, the only way I can manage to keep working is to run the Citrix apps in Windows (in my case Windows 8, not even 8.1 because that update went pear-shaped when I tried it months ago).

What happens is the bits on my DSL connection stop flowing for a minute or so, and I get disconnected from my Citrix apps. In Windows, there's an option on the Citrix page in my browser to reconnect to my "paused" resources. That option doesn't exist on the web page in Linux. Could it be because I'm using a slightly older version of Citrix Receiver / Wfica / ICA / Whatever the hell it is in Linux?

All I know is that it's a pain in the ass. When I'm on a "strong" networking connection with a ton of bandwidth, this isn't a problem, and I can probably run the Citrix apps in Linux. But with my not-so-great home "broadband," I need the extra cushion of being able to easily reconnect to my Citrix apps in order to stay working.

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Wed, 24 Sep 2014

Hammering hard on Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 20

So I'm working from home today and doing the full $dayjob breaking-news production routine (anything that nine websites throws at me plus other assorted sundries) in Fedora 20 with Xfce 4.10. When I'm at the office, I usually split the load between a monster ThinkCentre machine (8 GB RAM, AMD CPU with 4 cores) running Windows 7 and this less powerful laptop with Fedora/Xfce (3 GB RAM, AMD APU with 2 cores).

But today I only have the laptop.

First, my latest software change: It's been getting more and more difficult to run the AMD Catalyst driver in Fedora. For the past month and then some, running Google Chrome would crash X if I didn't start it with just the right command switch. Then Firefox started crashing X if I opened up certain web sites in a new tab. File that under "time to ditch Catalyst."

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Sure we need to kill e-mail dead, but here's an article with some interesting alternatives

In a business context, e-mail is horrible, outdated and a time-waster. With that (and more) in mind, Thomas Knoll of Primeloop writes for Medium, I banned email at my company.

Sure his reasons for ditching e-mail make sense, but what makes the article value is that Knoll mentions more than a few services that Primeloop is using to replace e-mail and help his team collaborate and communicate.

Among them are:

I'm still trying to wrap my head around what these services do and how/why to use them, but so far Slack and Hackpad look extremely promising for "situations," I find myself in.

It's not lost on me that the context of this article is a startup company leveraging the work of other startup companies, with all of that work being proprietary and hosted by said companies and not available for self-hosting at all. Even if a service is web-based, it's nice to have the option of loading it up yourself, on your server (or rough equivalent), and controlling it without a company getting in the way.

But a compelling service that fulfills an acute business need (or three) is well worth looking into and possibly adopting if that need is real (and unfulfilled). If/when the startup responsible for the product is acquired and said product is Hoovered up into the mothership, that's another problem, I guess.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014

I started my personal Fedora Wiki page

With inspiration from Paul Mellors, I decided to start my personal Fedora Wiki page. Yes, I am a Fedora member, though I haven't yet blossomed into an active one. At this point I try to answer questions on Ask Fedora, and I'd like to start contributing to the Fedora Magazine.

So I'm mostly just a user of Fedora. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't be a Fedora member, or have a wiki page. So I am. And I do.

Fri, 12 Sep 2014

Ruby's 'insert' method is something I'm definitely going to use

It's not a secret that I'm starting to look into the Ruby programming language. I've got a mess of second-hand books, plus there are plenty of helpful web sites.

I was looking into the gsub method of search/replacing in Ruby when I stumbled across something very useful: the insert method.

I'm sure there are plenty of better ways to do this, but the fact that I can do this and understand it ... that's something.

Here is what I'm talking about. I did it all in the interactive Ruby shell (aka irb) and have revised it because it's even easier to type out than I thought:

irb(main):017:0> phrase = "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back"
=> "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back"

irb(main):020:0> phrase.insert 0, "<bold>"
=> "<bold>The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back"

irb(main):024:0> phrase.insert -1, "</bold>"
=> "<bold>The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back</bold>"
Sat, 23 Aug 2014

Why I don't distro-hop: Because work. And pain.

I still see people installing new Linux distributions, one after the other, on their "production" laptops and desktops. I don't.

Sure, I fire up live images via USB or old-timey CD/DVD fairly regularly.

But I almost never do full, bare-metal installs on hardware I'm actually using. And I got rid of most of my PC boneyard, though I still have a 1999-era Compaq laptop (running Debian Squeeze LTS) and now a recently returned (from my daughter) 2002-era Thinkpad R32 (choking on Lubuntu 14.04 and in need of something new).

As far as "modern," equipment goes, all I have is my "production" laptop, an early-2013 HP Pavilion g6-2210us. And ever since I had the time to set up a Windows-Linux dual-boot, I've been running the same Fedora installation, upgraded via Fedup from F18 through F20.

Given that this is new, cheap AMD hardware, it's been a bit bumpy along the way. But the speed of updates in Fedora means that new kernels and drivers (theoretically) provide the latest drivers that are the lifeblood of any new, not-yet-supported hardware.

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Thu, 21 Aug 2014

Another great experience in Fedora bug reporting: Wine font fix solves my web-browsing problem

Fedora's motto is "Freedom. Friends. Features. First." I'm here to tell you Fedora lives up to that billing. Why do I say this now? I've just had another positive experience with Fedora, this time in finding a bug in my system, adding my information to an existing bug report and now seeing updated packages pushed to the Fedora 20 stable repositories and onto my system, where the problem has been fixed.

This all started a few weeks ago. After an update of the wine software that allows Linux users to run many Windows programs, many of the fonts in both the Firefox and Chrome web browsers started to look horrible. I narrowed it down to anything resembling Arial and Helvetica.

After searching for information, I found a command that would tell me what the system was using when asked to display a certain font:

$ fc-match -v arial | grep file

Now that the problem has been fixed, the output is different, but at the time it clearly showed that a wine-installed Arial font had been installed in my system's decidedly non-wine (aka "normal") font path.

And that font was hideous.

Many web sites, including the Fedora Forum and Gmail, looked like hell with that horrible Arial font. When Gmail looks horrible, you know there's a problem.

I began searching for other Fedora users who might have this same problem and came across this bug report on wine-courier-fonts overriding the system Courier font. In that bug report was this Aug. 9, 2014 comment by Arun Raghavan:

This also seems to apply to the arial font which makes things in Firefox look weird as well.

I saw this on Aug. 13, and immediately got into the thread because I'm a Fedora member and already have a Bugzilla account:

I am seeing this same issue with Arial. The fonts look terrible in both Firefox and Google Chrome. I think this happened during the last Wine update.

Hours later, Peter Oliver confirmed the problem:

Indeed, wine-fonts-arial was first included in 1.7.22-2, pulled in automatically by wine-fonts.

http://pkgs.fedoraproject.org/cgit/wine.git/commit/?h=f20&id=a401ea3e98ebe63b2654e2680e2a166b80aefc9a.

I know there's disagreement about whether Wine fonts should be made available as system fonts, but, irrespective of that, this affects the existing user experience, so ideally shouldn't have been included in a stable update.

The next day Michael Cronenworth wrote that he was pushing an update to wine that would take the fonts out of the system path:

The Font SIG has allowed us to remove Wine fonts from the system path. I'll be pushing a 1.7.24 update shortly to address this.

https://lists.fedoraproject.org/pipermail/fonts/2014-August/001736.html

A few days after that, the update was available in the testing repository. I waited for it to make its way into Fedora 20 Stable, which it did today. In the course of today's Yum (in my case the GUI Yumex) update, new wine packages were installed on my system, and now everything looks great again in Firefox and Chrome.

As asked in the bug report, I did add karma after installing the update.

Things do break in Fedora every once in a while, but not as often as you might think.

Pretty much every time something like happens on my system, even with the kernel, I've been able to either start a new bug report or chime in on an existing one. Soon thereafter, the wonderful developers who build packages for Fedora have addressed my problems and provided fixes that made those problems go away.

Chalk it up as another great experience with Fedora, both the Linux operating system and the community behind it.

Sat, 16 Aug 2014

Font changes on this Ode site

Changing fonts in Ode is as easy as changing the .css file in the theme(s) you are using.

I've been having some trouble in Fedora with the Arial font, which looks like hell. The Wine non-emulator that runs Windows software in Linux brought an Arial font into my system, and it's just plain ugly.

I started looking at Arial and Helvetica not just in Linux but in Windows, too, and I decided that I don't like either one very much.

So I went into my CSS and killed out Helvetica Neue and Arial. Now Verdana and sans-serif, in that order, are the default fonts.

Looks better, I think.

A new Ode site: Surface Markup development blog

There is a new Ode-running site out in the wild. Announced on the existing Surface Markup blog is the Surface Markup development blog, which has one of the nicest themes I've ever seen on an Ode site. It's minimal, beautiful and responsive.

Designer/writer Hans Fast helped me make this site responsive, and I continue to thank him.

Fri, 08 Aug 2014

Jordi Mallach says GNOME should remain the default desktop environment in Debian Jessie -- and why I agree

Jordi Mallach details in a post I found via Google Plus why GNOME should remain the default desktop environment in Debian Jessie despite the usual switch to Xfce prompted by a desire to keep the ISO image at CD size.

There's more. And it's not just image size: Most use Debian's netinstall image, which is always much smaller than a traditional data CD, and I think many if not most have access to a DVD drive or bypass optical media entirely for USB flash drives, so size doesn't matter as much as it might.

The dust-up over GNOME 3's controversial desktop is nothing new. Many will never like it. Cue irony: Windows 8, UI-wise, is as crazy as GNOME 3. They make the current Mac OS X desktop look positively old-school. That's probably drawing more to OS X than it is the other direction (to GNOME and Windows 8).

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Wed, 06 Aug 2014

Installing the AMD Catalyst driver in RHEL or CentOS 7

Hey everybody, it's not just Fedora users who have no RPM-packaged AMD Catalyst (aka fglrx) proprietary video driver.

RHEL/CentOS 7 is also out in the cold.

(Note to all developers who have anything to do with Fedora or Red Hat: Recent AMD-running laptops with all-in-one APU chips (CPU and GPU together) tend to RUN LIKE CRAP without Catalyst.)

So RHEL/CentOS 7 users are stuck with AMD's upstream installer. To that end, here's a guide from the CentOS Forum on how to install Catalyst with AMD's .sh installer.

Tue, 05 Aug 2014

How to get Google Chrome to stop crashing while running the AMD Catalyst driver in Linux

If you're having the same problem I am with Google Chrome crashing while running the proprietary AMD Catalyst video driver in Fedora 20 (or any other version of Linux), I have a fix.

My thought was that I could play with command-line switches to "trick" Google Chrome into running.

(Note before we begin: I think different distributions have different commands to run Google Chrome or Chromium in the first place. In Fedora, calling google-chrome runs the browser.)

I found a huge list of command-line switches for Chrome and Chromium from Peter Beverloo's web site and started looking it over and trying a few.

This one worked:

$ google-chrome --disable-gpu

Peter's page describes --disable-gpu this way (and links to this portion of the content-switches code for Chromium):

Disables GPU hardware acceleration. If software renderer is not in place, then the GPU process won't launch.

This means that I'm back in the Google Chrome-running business. I'll have to add this modified command-with-switch to my Xfce panel so I can run Chrome without the terminal.

And now you can, too.

Sat, 02 Aug 2014

Lubuntu craps out, and I'm now auditioning Debian and Fedora for an ancient Thinkpad

I've been running Lubuntu on my daughter's ancient IBM Thinkpad R32 for as long as I can remember. The upgrade from 12.04 to 14.04 was anything but smooth. I wasn't offered a straight 12.04-14.04 upgrade and instead went through the steps (12.10, 13.04, 13.10 and finally 14.04) when I probably should have just reinstalled with 14.04.

Now there's another problem. Wireless networking doesn't work. I even checked with the Lubuntu 14.04 live CD. And two different USB Wi-Fi adapters.

The system sees the networks, but it won't join them. And none of the "help" I found online was very helpful.

I could go back to the long-unsupported Lubuntu 14.04. Since this laptop has a CD drive only, that limits the live images I can try because many have climbed over CD size.

Lubuntu has not. And as I say above, I have tried it.

Fedora LXDE is also still CD-sized. I'm trying to download a torrent now. I'm doing the same with the Debian 7.6 netinstall image, from which I can whip up an LXDE system. Unfortunately Debian is a bit crapshootish because the Debian Live images are, again, too large for a CD.

I'd rather not go with Fedora, as this is OLD hardware. Debian's extra speed really shows in this situation (namely a Pentium 4 with 768 MB RAM).

I'm fairly confident I can return the Thinkpad to wireless-running usefulness. But I remain disappointed with Lubuntu (and maybe all of Ubuntu) for whatever it's doing to this old laptop's ability to complete a Wi-Fi connection.

Sat, 26 Jul 2014

Working Saturday, sweating it out

So I'm working Saturday. At the office. I'm the only one here. And since it's Saturday, there is no air conditioning until 10 a.m.

I'm trapped in a large glass bottle of stale, hot air.

Update: It's 10:01. The air just kicked on. Half of any good employer-employee relationship involves free air-conditioning.

Internet, you bore me

Just wanted to say that.

Sat, 19 Jul 2014

Am I the only person who can't run Google Chrome under Linux with the AMD Catalyst driver?

Am I really the only person having trouble with the Google Chrome web browser while running the propretary AMD Catalyst video driver in Linux?

Just checking.

Fri, 18 Jul 2014

One year, two months with Fedora this time around

I looked back in the archives and found out that I've been running Fedora on this particular laptop (HP Pavilion g6-2210us) for a year and two months.

Since this el-cheapo, about-$400 AMD laptop is NOT a top-of-the-line Intel-running Thinkpad, it hasn't gotten anywhere near the same level of love from the Linux kernel and driver developers.

But things have gotten better and better over time. And excepting the relentlessly rolling Arch Linux, things improve more quickly in Fedora than anywhere else. New kernels, drivers and applications, for the most part, fly onto Fedora systems via regular updates.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014

Debian Developer switches to Mac, doesn't look back (and yes, we should be worried)

Debian Developer Jon Dowland writes about switching from Linux to the Macintosh with OS X:

It appears I have switched for good. I've been meaning to write about this for some time, but I couldn't quite get the words right. I doubted I could express my frustrations in a constructive, helpful way, even if I think that my experiences are useful and my discoveries valuable, perhaps I would put them across in a way that seemed inciteful rather than insightful. I wasn't sure anyone cared. Certainly the GNOME community doesn't seem interested in feedback.

It turns out that one person that doesn't care is me: I didn't realise just how broken the F/OSS desktop is. The straw that broke the camel's back was the file manager replacing type-ahead find with a search but (to seemlessly switch metaphor) it turns out I'd been cut a thousand times already. I'm not just on the other side of the fence, I'm several fields away.

What can I say? With the Macintosh seemingly left for dead by Apple while the iPhone and iPad shovel in the revenue, Mac laptops have quietly become the platform of choice for developers everywhere.

Meanwhile, fragmentation in the Linux desktop space and what appears to be not just a lack of attention to detail but a willful rejection of it haven't helped.

That said, I'm firmly in the "buy cheap, run Linux" camp, and I figure that the Microsoft-driven laptop price war to combat the Google Chromebook will provide a whole new class of sub-$250 machines on which to run the Linux distribution of your choice.

Since I don't have $1,500+ for a laptop that won't accept OS updates in a few years and generally don't need to run the Adobe Creative Suite, I don't have the opportunity/burden of trying to figure out how much free (as in freedom) software I could shoehorn into a Macintosh OS X environment.

But I can see how developers who aren't Linux distro developers want to go for what's "easy," if not at all cheap.

While Ubuntu has in the past tried to court developers, the current direction in which they're taking Unity is more about mobile compatibility than desktop productivity. And I don't see any advantages for the average developer with GNOME Shell. Maybe GNOME Classic in an environment with a whole lot more configurability out of the box would work. I know that a more polished Xfce with a lot of the rough edges smoothed out could be popular.

But it's the fragmentation ...

I'd love for Fedora Workstation with its (I think) target audience of developers to fill this gap. But without a long-term support release, that won't happen. Maybe a CentOS "developer desktop" spin could do better.

The elephant. In the room. It's the same thing it always was: Preloads.

It's going to require a major hardware vendor to commit to developer-centric laptops in a variety of price ranges with dedicated, in-house developers making sure the hardware is 100-percent supported in Linux and on the Linux distribution shipping with that hardware. I'm not saying it will never happen. I hope it does.

Until then, Apple is going to eat everybody's lunch, including Microsoft's. And desktop Linux's, too.

I'm not saying that choice on the Linux desktop is bad. What I am saying is that a stable, functional, not-scary desktop with some heavy development attention and (dare I say it) substantial corporate support could turn the tide and bring not just developers but others (back) to Linux.

Wed, 09 Jul 2014

AMD Catalyst packages for Fedora 19 still work with 3.15.x Linux kernel in Fedora 20

Probably the best "solution" I've found for the lack of AMD Catalyst packages in RPM Fusion for Fedora 20 has been to use the packages that are still being maintained in that repository for Fedora 19.

But as always with proprietary driver packages, there is a question as to whether or not they will work with a new Linux kernel.

Kernel 3.15.3-200 moved recently into Fedora 20, and I decided to make the leap into installing it today.

I can report that akmod-catalyst handled it perfectly. Catalyst works in 3.15.3, and everything is running as it should.

One of the touted features in kernel 3.15 is faster suspend/resume. Does using a proprietary video driver negate this speedup? I don't know.

I do periodically test suspend/resume with the open Radeon driver to see if I can ditch Catalys, but at this point I'll wait for live Fedora 21 (and Ubuntu 14.10) media for my next foray into the free driver.

Tue, 08 Jul 2014

Stella 7 is on its way

I mentioned this in my CentOS 7 post but felt that it deserved to lead its own entry:

For those who want to run CentOS 7 on the desktop with minimal pain, take heart: Nux is prepping a CentOS 7 version of Stella

I was a big, big fan of Stella 6 -- I really think it's the only way to run CentOS on the desktop without pulling your remaining hair out. Nux has packages of just about everything you're missing in stock RHEL/CentOS. And for those who haven't really looked into it, RHEL/CentOS is missing a lot.

Stella isn't so much a derivative distro as it is a spin on CentOS that includes all the extra repositories you need to replicate the desktop experience of, say, Fedora, but in the supported-just-about-forever world of RHEL/CentOS.

There's a CentOS 7 'Everything' image -- and a new Stella is in the works

In case you hadn't heard (and count me among that number until just about now), CentOS 7 is out.

One of the things that CentOS is planning to do in its cozy-with-Red Hat present and future is release a whole lot of specialized images.

One of those images is out right now. It's an "Everything" ISO image that fits on an 8 GB flash drive and offers every package in CentOS 7.

This is what that README file says about the "Everything" image:

This image contains the complete set of packages for CentOS 7. It can be used for installing or populating a local mirror. This image needs a dual layer DVD or an 8GB USB flash drive.

That README details the rest of the images available of CentOS 7, including the DVD-sized and minimal ISO images.

Want to download CentOS 7? Start here.

And for those who want to run CentOS 7 on the desktop with minimal pain, take heart: Nux is prepping a CentOS 7 version of Stella

Mon, 07 Jul 2014

Update: Can I really encrypt files and folders with Seahorse? I install seahorse-nautilus in Fedora 20 to find out

The title of this post is long. It says it all.

I'd like easy file-encryption from the file manager in Fedora (and every other version of Linux, for that matter).

I'd prefer that encryption be strictly password-based and not dependent on encrypted keys that I might lose, but encryption with keys that I have safely backed up offsite is better than no encryption at all, so I'm going to try using the GNOME application Seahorse to try this out.

I'll even ignore that I'm not using GNOME and instead relying on the Thunar file manager in Xfce.

But I do have a full GNOME environment installed, and I'd use it more if GNOME would run under the AMD Catalyst driver in Fedora 20. That it does not should be a much bigger deal than it appears to be among the greater Linux user base.

Anyway, I do have Nautilus, and to make Seahorse work in that file manager, Fedora offers the seahorse-nautilus package. I installed it just now and will be giving it a try in the very near future.

Update: After installing seahorse-nautilus, it is possible to encrypt files via right-click in Nautilus, but there is no right-click option to decrypt a file.

There is a Fedora 17-era bug on this issue, which appears to have been resolved.

Since the problem seems to be back in Fedora 20, I asked about this on Ask Fedora and was encouraged to file bug, which I did.

An answer on Ask Fedora provided a workaround, but I'm reluctant to try it at this time, though I should probably look into it for help in creating a "custom action" in Thunar so I can encrypt/decrypt directly from my chosen Linux file manager.

Wed, 25 Jun 2014

Google Chrome fails in Fedora 20 with AMD Catalyst, runs fine with open Radeon driver

I pulled the AMD Catalyst driver from my Fedora 20 system to do some tests. Among the things that started working: The Google Chrome web browser, which in recent weeks kills X while running under the proprietary driver.

It turns out that Google Chrome runs fine with the open Radeon driver.

As always, AMD Catalyst giveth (cooler operation, working suspend/resume) and taketh away (Google Chrome fails, trouble updating when driver doesn't support new kernels, general wonkiness).

Turns out I have a lot of stuff in Ubuntu One

I've been getting periodic e-mails from Canonical about the coming demise of the Ubuntu One file syncing/backup service and the need to get my files out of there should I want to keep them.

"I don't remember ever having anything on Ubuntu One, though I'm sure I played with it a bit," I thought.

Well today I went over there, reset my password and looked in on my Ubuntu One account. I've got a ton of stuff in there.

Mind you, it's all stuff I have on my hard drive, and I haven't run Ubuntu proper since 2010, according to the file timestamps, so I'm just going to let it all fade away when Ubuntu One sunsets for good at the end of July 2014.

Mon, 23 Jun 2014

Using Perl modules to parse an XML feed

I'm looking to figure out all the elements I need to convert my election-results Bash script to Perl, and one of the tasks involved is dealing with XML.

In the Bash script, I'm just treating the XML as text that needs to be hacked at with sed.

But in Perl, as in many languages I presume, there are modules to help with this.

XML::Simple takes a file in XML format and converts it to a "Perl representation," one of those "representations" being a Perl array. Here are some other links on parsing XML in Perl.

Perl Begin recommends avoiding XML::Simple and instead using XML::LibXML.

Now I'll have to figure out what to do with the data after Perl deals with the XML so I can turn it into the HTML I'll need later in the program.

I won't lie by saying that it is a lot easier to find recently written XML-parsing strategies for Python than it is for Perl.

With that in mind, before I close out this entry, here are some links on parsing XML in Python.

Wed, 18 Jun 2014

The Programming Project, Part 2: More from 'Learning Perl'

I'm continuing my reading of "Learning Perl."

The book is a bit dog-eared. Some of that is from carrying it around. But some of the wear is from actually reading the book.

I'm up to Page 74. I have been taking notes in the book and underlining things that seem important.

I meant to read this book with the Learning Perl Book Club, a reading group made up of Ode users.

That didn't work for me. The stopper was the "you need to do the exercises" part of the enterprise. While I had the time to do the reading, I had a lot of mental resistance to trying to hack at the exercises at the end of each chapter.

I know that doing the exercises in these books helps you "get" the concepts, but I just wasn't there yet.

Now that I'm a few chapters in, I want to start typing the book's programs into my local system, running them and playing around with them a bit. While that's less than going all in on the exercises, it's more than not touching the computer or using Perl at all.

Fri, 13 Jun 2014

Google Chrome ran on my Fedora 20 system a couple of days ago but does no longer

A couple days ago, there was a Google Chrome update, and for some reason the browser began working once again on my Fedora 20 system.

Now it's broken again.

It could have been a Mesa update in Fedora. Or something completely different. It could be the dubious AMD Catalyst/fglrx installation I have going, using Fedora 19 packages in Fedora 20.

Whatever it is, Google Chrome is broken again.

I even tried Spot's Chromium repo for Fedora. Chromium crashes X just the same.

Is it just me, or is anybody else having a problem with Chromium/Google Chrome in Fedora?

Wed, 11 Jun 2014

Google Chrome browser is working again on my Fedora 20 system

Google Chrome (using the Google repository because Fedora doesn't package Chromium) is working once again on my Fedora 20 system.

It had been broken for a few weeks. Whenever I started the browser, it would segfault and kill X.

Google pushed a new stable version of the browser today to its Fedora repository. I did the update, started Chrome and am now running it with no crashes and no problems.

Thanks, Google.

Getting Adobe Digital Editions working under Wine in Linux (specifically Fedora 20)

I want to borrow books via the Los Angeles Public Library's Axis 360 service, which won't give you their DRM-laden ebooks without use of the Adobe Digital Editions software to take the small file you download (normally called URLLink.acsm) and use it as a kind of key to download the longer .epub book file.

And Adobe Digital Editions is not available for Linux.

But it can be installed with Wine, the Windows compatibility layer for Linux systems.

I already have Wine installed on my Fedora Linux system so I can use the excellent IrfanView image editor that's written for Windows. While instructions on the installation of Wine might be useful, I don't want to go there for the purposes of this post. I'll just say that you should use your distro's package manager to install Wine, and in this particular instance, the version of Wine available in your distro's repositories should be sufficient. One thing I will tell you: Make sure you also install wine-mono (or whatever the package is in your system that includes the Windows version of Mono in Wine).

Back to installing Adobe Digital Editions in Linux via Wine.

A few people reported problems (a very few did not) with version 2.x. A few offered easy-to-byzantine workarounds to make Adobe Digital Editions 2.x work in Linux.

None of that worked for me.

So I followed the advice of Mr. Alphaville, used his download of Adobe Digital Editions 1.7, and was up and running with a working application in a few minutes.

You are prompted at some point after installing Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) to either create an Adobe account or use the one you already have.

I already had an Adobe account, so I used that login and password and was quickly swimmming in the world of DRM-ed ebooks.

Wait, there's a problem

Huge problem. The DRM'd epub files that Axis360 puts out aren't compatible with the Amazon Kindle.

Sure, I could break the DRM and use Calibre to convert the files. But I don't want to do that. I'd rather get the books for the alloted loan period and have them somewhat gracefully disappear when the loan is up.

So for Kindle, I'll stick with the Los Angeles Public Library's Overdrive system.

And for those titles from LAPL's instance of Axis360, I guess I'll just read them in Adobe Digital Editions via Wine.

Editorial comment: It's not like the Amazon Kindle is some obscure device. It dominates the ebook market. Axis360 basically tells users of the dominant ebook readers to take a long walk off a short pier.

Kindle Fire tablets, which are mostly-fledged Android devices, can access this content with the Blio or Bluefire apps.

But non-Fire Kindles (the cheap, not-a-tablet kind) get nothing. I guess that's what Overdrive is for.

Sun, 08 Jun 2014

The Programming Project, Part 1: What's this all about

Now is the time. I'm going to really learn to program.

I've been dabbling in programming for awhile now. I've mostly stayed within the friendly confines of the Bash shell on my local Linux system and the Linux servers on which I run various scripts and services.

I've been meaning to get deeper into real programming, whatever that is, for at least a couple of years. I would say it hasn't happened, but to a small extent it has. Now I'm ready to take the next step.

So what did happen?

A couple of years ago, I began writing little Bash scripts to automate my rsync-driven backups. With these little one- to two-liners, I didn't have to remember the exact syntax to do the rsync backup correctly and remember where my "exclude" file was living.

I also had trouble with screen blanking in Debian Wheezy. I finally figured out how to fix the problem with xset, and wrote a little Bash script to automate that process.

I have also written a bunch of scripts to automate posting and create an archive of this Ode site. Among these Ode-related scripts is a local Perl program that generates an Indexette date stamp. You can copy/paste it into your post file, or call the script from within a text editor, which is what I do with Gedit.

It's still a simple two-liner, albeit with more than a dozen lines explaining what's going on.

About a year ago, I started a more complicated programming project at my day job.

So what do I do at this job? I work for a bunch of local news web sites. I push content. I create web pages in an arcane CMS. I create blogs in a common CMS (WordPress). I fix broken things and solve problems. I take things that are separate and mash them together.

The project, the thing I've wanted to do, was to script together data from various sources, more specifically election results for the nine web sites I work on.

I wanted to do it in Perl. But when I finally decided to do it, I just didn't have the chops. But I did know Bash, and I learned (or learned more) about such Unix/Linux utilities as wget, cat, cp and sed to turn my data into HTML pages I could generate with cron and iframe into my various web sites.

Thus far I've been re-reading "Learning Perl", this time noting things that will help me in my election-results project.

I'm somewhere in the 40s in terms of pages, and I'm making notes in the book -- it's a real book, not an ebook -- in pencil.

  • Search and replace is pretty much a core function in Perl, so I can safely say goodbye to sed.

  • Concatenation can be done with a dot (a .) between items, so that takes care of cat.

  • I would really like to pump data into an array and use Perl's foreach to process each line.

  • Grasping scalars and arrays is going to be key.

  • I'll have to look into grabbing data over HTML and bring it into the scalar or array. The LWP::Simple module looks like a good candidate for this. I could also use the full LWP.

  • I'd like to code a date stamp into the data. I've already experimented with that in Perl for my Indexette date-stamper script.

  • Eventually I'll need to write the results out to files on the web server. That shouldn't be too hard.

Wed, 04 Jun 2014

Matthew Miller is the new Fedora Project Leader

I see in the Fedora Magazine that Matthew Miller is the new Fedora Project Leader.

Terrific choice.

Watch the video above, read his Fedora Magazine posts.

I'm very confident about Fedora being in good hands as the Fedora.Next project begins remaking what the distribution is for those who both use and produce it.

That Fedora is stretching its own particular envelope and remaking itself for the desktop, server and cloud is huge. And having Matt -- a longtime Fedora contributor -- at the helm is very reassuring indeed.