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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Wed, 05 Aug 2015

Running GNOME 3.16 in Fedora 22

Since my home Internet connection has been so bad, I haven't been using my Fedora 22 laptop as my main production machine for Citrix apps, and that means I can run GNOME 3 on it without trouble.

Instead, I use the laptop for writing, web browsing, development and watching media.

And instead of my usual Xfce, I've been using GNOME 3.16 as the desktop environment.

I have few complaints. GNOME 3 is getting better and better with each release, and even between releases there have been little improvements here and there.

Right now my only complaint with GNOME 3 is with file management in Nautilus. When you drag a file into a folder, if you linger too long over the folder, you end up in it. That should be something you can configure not to happen.

To avoid this problem, I've been using Nautilus' move to feature. It's clean.

My problems with the upper panel (I'm using the TopIcons GNOME Extension) are pretty much gone. Everything shows like it's supposed to.

I like the notifications system.

GNOME Software's notion that you want to reboot for every update is absurd. I use the Yum Extender for DNF to update, and that doesn't require any rebooting. The new Yum Extender fails about 25 percent of the time. I'm confident that the Fedora team will continue polishing the application. In the meantime, dnf in the terminal works without fail.

I'm having a PulseAudio issue that presents itself in both GNOME and Xfce: When I switch audio to HDMI via PulseAudio Volume Control (aka pavu), there is no audio over that connection unless I log out and log back in. I can switch back to local audio and hear it on the laptop speakers, but going back to HDMI requires another logout/login. This fairly recent issue is not a deal-breaker but is annoying.

Otherwise, my 2-year-old HP Pavilion g6 laptop is running better than ever under Linux.


  • While I said I was going to stop obsessing about Linux, I reserve the right to talk/write about software I'm using. Tools are still interesting. And important. My focus remains on programming. And the rest of life. (Or so I tell myself.)

  • I am getting ready to pull the trigger on 100Mb/s Time Warner Cable broadband to replace my sub-1Mb/s DSL Extreme "broadband." That would mean I could work at home more, and I would probably swing back to Xfce for production because it plays so much better with the unwieldy Citrix apps I must use.

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, 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.

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, 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).

Read the rest of this post

Fri, 28 Mar 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I installed it. Then I ran it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tue, 10 Dec 2013

GNOME 3: Adjust 'hot corner' sensitivity with the Activities Configurator extension

It kept nagging at me. Why was the "hot corner" in Debian's version of GNOME 3 so "sensitive," compared to the GNOME 3 desktop's hot corner in Fedora 19?

In Fedora, I'd mouse into the upper left "hot corner," and half the time wouldn't get the app panel or search box to open. I'd have to "aggressively" mouse to get it working.

So I've been using GNOME 3 less and less. Was it just too slow?

Today I did a bit of searching and found out that "hot corner" sensitivity was something that the user can set, not in stock GNOME 3 but with the Activities Configurator extension.

I installed the extension and cranked the sensitivity number way down, from 100 to 43, making it more sensitive. Now my "hot corner" is much more responsive to mouse movement, and GNOME 3 is easier to use.

Once you have the extension installed, you can access its settings via the GNOME Tweak Tool, or by right-clicking on the "Activities" menu or the little smiley face that now appears to its left.

Fri, 01 Nov 2013

I like the Xfce Whisker Menu

Those who saw yesterday's entry know that I at once discovered and installed the Xfce Whisker Menu on my Fedora 19 Xfce system.

I already had the standard Xfce Application Finder bound to my alt-F2, alt-F3 and Super (aka "Windows") keys, though I didn't use it that much. What I was going for with the Application Finder being bound to the Super key was Unity/GNOME 3-like functionality in terms of finding and launching applications while retaining the speed and stability of Xfce.

I haven't even used the Whisker Menu for a full day, yet I just used the Xfce Keyboard settings' Application Shortcuts to bind the Whisker Menu to the Super key.

Aside from the Whisker Menu actually working, since it saves me a keystroke/mouse click over the standard Application Finder when searching for and launching an application, I'm pretty much sold on the Whisker Menu.

I'm sold enough that if I find it really working out, I'll remove my application-icon-filled panel on the left side of my screen.

The point: I like the Whisker Menu.