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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Mon, 16 Jan 2017

There is an rsync for Windows, and it works

I've been meaning to look into backup solutions for Windows, and while there should eventually be a full Ubuntu Linux shell coming to Windows 10, it's not there yet unless you tweak things that I can't ask other users to do.

So I figured that when the Linux shell comes to Windows, I'll use rsync, the Unix/Linux backup utility I've been using for years.

I just found out that there's already an rsync port to Windows called cwRsync that you can pay for, with a free command-line-only edition available for download.

Since I use rsync on the command line in Linux, why do I need the GUI in Windows? I don't.

So I downloaded it, unzipped it all, put my rsync command into the cwrsync Windows Command Script file, and it worked right out of the box.

So far my tests have been small ones that haven't involved ssh into remote servers (I do backups to USB hard drives anyway), but I am very confident that cwRsync will work well for full Windows user-file backups. Plus it's free and nobody's going to bug you about buying anything ever.

Wed, 12 Oct 2016

I am trying Shutter as my GNOME screenshot program

Since the GNOME screenshot program is very broken, at least in my installation of GNOME, I decided to try Shutter, the Linux screenshot program written in Perl and seemingly aimed at GNOME users.

Shutter has a lot of options, and so far I can get it to work.

Going back to the beginning, why is the GNOME screenshot program broken in my GNOME installation? I have no idea.

When I hit the print-screen key, nothing at all happens. If I bind it to alt-p, I get the "shutter" sound, and a PNGJPG image appears in my Photos folder. Even if I go into gconf settings to modify just about everything, calling the screenshot program from the keyboard produces the same resultwon't allow me to change the target directory.

But if I hit the super key (or mouse into the hot corner), then search for Screenshot and run it, I get the full GNOME Screenshot window to open, and it has all of my configuration options (JPG instead of PNG, choose my own directory/folder). Why can't I make this work from the keyboard -- from print-screen or any other keyboard shortcut?

I've dwelled on GNOME Screenshot enough. Now I'm going to see if Shutter can do what I need. Or I can just use Xfce, where the screenshot program works like it's supposed to -- with the print-screen key. Why is this so hard, GNOME people?

Update: After using Shutter once (I have it bound to alt-P), the icon sits in my upper panel. I can then take a screenshot by clicking the icon. Easy.

Speaking of panels in the panel-less GNOME (where not having things appears to be a "feature"), I do have a panel in the form of the TopIcons, Places Status Indicator and Applications Menu extensions. And yes, it is not a good thing that what many consider core funtionality can only be implemented through Extensions that aren't part of the GNOME 3 core.

More GNOME Extensions: I just added Frippery Panel Favorites to make the upper panel on my GNOME 3 desktop even more GNOME 2-like.

Tue, 14 Jun 2016

I used Firefox a bunch

I've been using Firefox version 47 for the past couple of days. And it's been working well. This isn't for my day job, where I beat the hell out of the browser, but for "research" (aka looking things up) while learning programming.

Nothing cost $ .

I should probably give it a try for my real work and see how it holds up.

Update: Firefox did better than I thought but not good enough.

Slow rendering in Google Maps was annoying.

It couldn't handle Tweetdeck at all. Nobody would (or should) argue that Tweetdeck is anything but a mess. It is built with unwieldy amounts of JavaScript and delivers messes (or masses) of data. Trying to run Tweetdeck in Firefox was a parade of "unresponsive script" pop-ups that had me bailing out for Chrome within the hour.

I want Firefox to be competitive. I'd rather have fewer eggs in Google's basket. But my web production workflow is just too many windows of pain.

Wed, 13 Jan 2016

Revisiting GNOME's Web (aka Epiphany) browser

The Unix/Linux desktop environment GNOME's many components include a full web browser that used to be called Epiphany and now goes by the very non-Googlable name Web. Yes. it's a Web browser called Web.

Back in the GNOME 2 days, I used it a lot. That wasn't just the GNOME 2 days but the Gecko days, when Epiphany was based on Mozilla's Gecko engine rather than Apple/Google's WebKit.

In the early WebKit days, I think Epiphany/Web went downhill a bit.

Now I use Google Chrome much of the time, though I know in my heart that I shouldn't. I'm usually logged into Google Services for my job, and Google is getting into everything I do.

These days Firefox is just frustrating. Once I get 10 tabs open, it tends to hang when Chrome doesn't.

Maybe a basic browser like Epiphany/Web can help me. Maybe not.

I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes.

Update: Epiphany/Web works very well. I can't say for sure that it's "lighter" than Google Chrome, especially since it uses the same Webkit engine.

What I can say is that for general-purpose web-browsing, it is very fast and stable. And I bet Google is tracking me a whole lot less.

Epiphany is a simple browser. Like Firefox was in its early days.

It's well-integrated as a GTK3 application, so it'll look good either in GNOME 3, or (in my case) among all the other GTK3 apps I'm using in the Xfce desktop environment.

For search, Epiphany defaults to Duck Duck Go which bills itself as "the search engine that doesn't track you," and so far I'm happy with it. It's nice to have an alternative to Google, even in a Web browser using the same engine as a browser that is most definitely tracking you.

I'm not saying I will give up on Google Chrome, especially for my , but when it comes to personal browsing, I can see myself in Epiphany much of that time.

Wed, 16 Dec 2015

O, Change Case add-on for Google Docs, you complete me, or at least supply a must-have feature

One of the biggest holes in web-based collaborative editing software like Google Docs (and Microsoft's Office Live Word Online - I checked) is the inability of the programs to allow the conversion of a block of lower case letters to upper case and vice versa.

You'd think this would be core functionality. Knowing what I do of programming, most languages provide utilities/methods that do this very thing. And pretty much every "local" text and/or document editing program offers this as core functionality.

So why don't Google Docs and Microsoft's Word Online offer it?

Beats the hell out of me.

I got annoyed enough that I set out in search of Google Docs add-ons to bring case-changing capability to the editor I'm using every damn day for work.

The add-ons were not hard to find or install. I decide on Change Case by Alec Tutin.

It does exactly what it's supposed to do, and that's good enough for me. If you use Google Docs with any degree of seriousness, you NEED this add-on.

Fri, 30 Oct 2015

Fix for Firefox dark theme issues in GNOME 3

Hey Linux users, are you using GNOME Tweak Tool to choose the "Dark" theme, making your GTK3 applications dark and causing problems with white-on-white text in the Firefox browser?

I have. Even though I almost never use GNOME 3, I do have it installed, and the GNOME Tweak Tool's "dark theme" switch enables me to turn GTK3 applications like Firefox "dark" in their styling. Except that often you can't read text boxes on web sites because the "dark" theme turns the text white while also leaving the background white.

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 22 Oct 2015

Geany DOES have themes, and now I do, too

I try to switch to dark themes on as many parts of my computing workflow as possible.

The desktop environment, my applications -- I try to make it all dark.

Why? It's easy on the eyes.

I'll go into my full dark-theme setup later, but for now I'd like to share my discovery of the dark themes in the Geany text editor.

I didn't think Geany had themes, let alone dark themes. Turns out it has both.

And I've been using Geany a whole lot because a) copy/paste of text with Windows-style line endings is broken in Gedit (it comes out Unix style) and b) I'm using Geany to work on my Java code because it will compile and run it right in the editor.

I found a link to the Geany Themes site on GitHub. I downloaded the whole thing as a .zip file (I probably should just use git to fork it onto my local drive), then dropped the colorschemes directory into my own ~/.config/geany directory (making it ~/.config/geany/colorschemes) and then in Geany I could choose a Color Scheme under View - Change Color Scheme in the application's menu.

Right now I using the Monokai color scheme.

All I need to do now is figure out how to execute either a Perl or Go program and get the output into the editor (like I do with Gedit Snippets), and I can use Geany instead of Gedit to write this blog's entries, which include a script-generated timestamp for Ode's Indexette add-in.

Update: It is possible to insert a custom-formatted date into your file in Geany under Edit - Insert Date - Use Custom Date Format, using Edit - Insert Date - Set Custom Date Format to set it. For my Ode datestamp I used tag : Indexette : index-date : %Y %m %d %T. Unfortunately it outputs the date in my local timezone instead of UTC, which is what I use in my Ode site. I don't see any way of making the "Custom Date Format" output UTC, so this makes Geany that much less useful for the purpose of writing for Ode.

I tried the Mini-Script plugin, but that is cumbersome, and I even overwrote one of my scripts on accident because of its less-than-ideal user interface.

In short, there's nothing in Geany like Gedit's Snippets plugin, which is ideal (and makes Gedit itself ideal) for writing Ode entries.

Sun, 11 Oct 2015

Installing Citrix on Linux: Guides for the perplexed

Even though I have a working Citrix installation in Fedora 22, my recent failure to replicate it in Debian Jessie has me worried.

To that end (and so I will have a place to go when I need to do this again and again), here is a list of Citrix-on-Linux how-tos:

Overall Linux

Citrix: Receiver 13.1 for Linux


Install Citrix Receiver 13.1 on Fedora 21 x64 by Chris Savage

Installing Citrix on Fedora 21 by Ken Fallon

Citrix Receiver on Fedora 19 64 bits from Ask Fedora

CITRIX ICA (RECEIVER) 13.1 UNTER FEDORA 20 (64BIT) from iSticktoit.net (in German, but understandable from a Linux perspective)

CITRIX RECEIVER 13.2 (ICA) ON FEDORA 22 (KDE) from iSticktoit.net (in English)


Ubuntu Community Help Wiki: CitrixICAClientHowTo

Installing Citrix Reciver on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) by Ken Fallon

How to install Citrix Receiver icaclient in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit – tested and working using Mozilla Firefox by Mark911

Quora: How do I run the Citrix ICA Client on Ubuntu? by Cesar Augusto Nogueira


Superuser.com: How do I install Citrix ICA Client (Receiver) 13 on Debian 64-bit Linux?

Arch Linux

(Often the Arch Linux Wiki can help users of any Linux system, regardless of distribution)

Arch Linux Wiki: Citrix

RHEL (and CentOS)

UC Berkeley Knowledge Base: How to install the Citrix Receiver using Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.5

Thu, 08 Oct 2015

Debian Jessie fails passes Citrix ICA test, which just like Fedora passes easily

Update on Nov. 18, 2015: I finally did succeed in getting Citrix ICA installed and running on Debian Jessie.

I can't find the exact web page I used for help, but the "core" of my successful method was adding the i386 architecture, updating my sources and then installing Citrix from the .deb package:

# dpkg --add-architecture i386
# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade
# dpkg -i icaclient(bunch of other stuff).deb

So I now have Citrix ICA working in Debian. I use it through Chromium, so I don't have to go through any machinations to get CACerts into Firefox/Iceweasel.

Now that I have Citrix working on Debian, the stable Jessie release is a viable alternative for me. But since I've grown very accustomed to having the much-newer packages of Fedora (and I'm not as willing to run Debian Sid), I am looking at Xubuntu, staying with Fedora, or the Korora spin of Fedora.

The original post:

I've been having networking issues on the Fedora 22 installation I've been using and upgrading since it started out with Fedora 18 in early 2012.

None of my attempts at fixes seem to bring the network (principally the wired network, whether I'm using it or not) back after suspend/resume, though I have a quick-and-dirty script that I can run from my application panel when I need it.

So that means it's time to audition new distros. I love Debian, and I tend to end up with it when my hardware starts to age. And yes, a 3 1/2-year-old laptop is aging as these things go.

So I'm auditioning distros. I continue to like Xubuntu, and reinstalling Fedora is always an option, especially since the networking problem is not present in the live environment.

But I wanted to try Debian Jessie. I'd love to be running Debian Stable.

Read the rest of this post

Tue, 22 Sep 2015

How to fix LibreOffice spell check in Fedora 22

I needed to use LibreOffice today. It's not something that happens very often. I almost always write or edit in a text editor, web form or Google Docs. But today I opened up LibreOffice.

I wanted to use "automatic" spell-checking in LibreOffice, which you invoke with shift-F7. But it didn't work.

I looked at my default "language," which was U.S. English. There was no little blue check next to it that indicated it had a dictionary. I checked my packages. I wasn't missing English.

It turns out there's a hack that gets spell-checking working and gives me the red squiggly lines under my misspelled words (that's the way I like to do it.

I found the answer in LibreOffice's "Ask LibreOffice" forum (which uses the same software as Ask Fedora).

Here is the fix from that helpful post:

Under Tools -> Options -> Language Settings: Writing Aids, the list of available language modules showed almost everything set. I unchecked and then re-checked "Hunspell SpellChecker" and "Libhyphen Hyphenator" and hit OK. (I strongly suspect that the hunspell was the significant checkbox). Then, when I go back to Language and look at the default language settings, the "English (USA)" entry has the ABC✔ by it, and now spell checking is working.

Best guess is that some results of invoking something from hunspell is saved by libreoffice and that with updating versions, the cached output is no longer valid. Re-invoking (when re-checking the checkbox) refreshes the cached data and now everything is all better.

It sure worked for me.