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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
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).

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Fri, 28 Mar 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I installed it. Then I ran it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Thu, 31 Oct 2013

I installed the Whisker Menu for Xfce

I just read about the Whisker Menu for Xfce at OMG! Ubuntu and installed it on my system from the Fedora repositories.

While I'm happy with my panel on the left and the traditional Xfce Application Finder, I thought the Whisker Menu would be worth a try.

Once installed, the menu itself can be added as a panel item (that's a step that took me a second or two or 10 to figure out). After you do that, you're ready to go.

Not only does the Whisker Menu provide an alternative to the stock Xfce Applications Menu, you can access your 10 most-recently used applications, create favorites for their own portion of the menu, or easily plop an application launcher onto the desktop or into the panel.

It's a nice little application that Xfce users might very well want to check out.

Thu, 17 Oct 2013

I like what GNOME 3 and Unity are doing, so I'm replicating those things in Xfce

It sounds screwy, but I'm taking some of the elements I like in GNOME 3 and Unity and implementing them in Xfce.

First of all, I really like the idea of having a panel on the left side of the screen for my application launchers. Given that laptops are now widescreen and there is not enough vertical space but plenty of horizontal space, it makes sense to have the application launchers consume as little horizontal real estate as possible.

So in Xfce, I moved the lower panel to the left. That was an easy one.

The other thing I like about both GNOME 3 and Unity is the ability to click the "Windows" or Super key and then type in the first few letters of an application to launch it.

Xfce already has a great application finder that does this. On Fedora with Xfce, it's configured to open with alt-F2 and alt-F3. I went into the Xfce keyboard configuration and set the Windows/Super key to open this same application finder. Now I can click Super/Windows, type in a few letters and have my desired app open without going through the menu. Just like in GNOME and Unity.

Of course my favorite apps are already in my panel on the left. But for those that are not, this is a nice feature to borrow/steal from GNOME 3 and Unity.

That Xfce can replicate this behavior says a lot about what you can do with this lightweight, stable and very configurable desktop environment.

Wed, 16 Jan 2013

Is your screen blanking in Xfce despite your xscreensaver settings? I have the fix -- and this time it's for real

Some readers might have seen this post appear and disappear, appear and disappear again. That's because my first "fix" for this annonying Xfce problem didn't really work.

Neither did my second attempt. Nor my third.

Screw proverbs. The third fourth time now seems to be "the charm." That finally fortunate circumstance allows me to resurrect this entry yet again with my now-new onetwo-line script to keep the screen from blanking on its own -- without xscreensaver's help -- with a fix that has worked for me over the past couple of days. And this time I'm sure of it:

Here's a quick fix for Xfce users whose screens are blanking even though they have a much-longer screen-saving interval set in xscreensaver. This includes me.

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Sat, 12 Jan 2013

I just added the Axe Menu GNOME Shell Extension

The title says it all: I just added the Axe Menu GNOME Shell Extension to my Debian Wheezy system.

After complaining a bit about the lack of a menu in GNOME 3/Shell and not liking the last GNOME Shell Extension I tried to get a menu back, I decided to go to the GNOME Shell Extensions web site again. There I found the Axe Menu. Liking it so far.