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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.

Notes:

  • 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.

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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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.

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.

Thu, 27 Dec 2012

New GNOME Shell features in 3.7 and 3.8, plus a couple of development notes

I keep an eye on Planet GNOME and World of GNOME to follow the project, and via the Planet site I noticed GNOME developer Bastien Nocera's post on new features in GNOME 3.7 that will be polished through the 3.8 release. Those features include a search panel (to control search output; I really don't know what this means), a notifications panel to manage and filter notifications on the desktop and, best of all, a privacy panel that, as Bastien says:

... would be the go-to place to ensure your identity isn't leaked on the network, or visible on your system. You can see how some of the features in the two aforementioned panels will also affect your privacy.

On this last topic, GNOME executive director and (FaiF podcaster) Karen Sandler writes more about the increasing emphasis on privacy in the GNOME desktop.

More GNOME: From the As Far As I Know blog, Give a detail this Christmas follows GNOME's Every Detail Matters project and shows some of the new features that developers are bringing to GNOME 3. And there are pictures. Personally I like the little headphone icon that appears in the upper panel when you plug in headphones. (!!) If you want to know more, go to the GNOME Every Detail Matters wiki page.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012

GNOME 3: Lured into the hot corner

I get on any other computer, any other OS (even Windows and Mac OS), or any other desktop environment, and I find myself mousing into the top-left (or "hot") corner to get my application panel and search/launching dialog.

That works in GNOME 3. I do it all the time.

You can also hit the "super" (aka "Windows") key to make the same thing happen. And I do that, too.

But I'm so comfortable mousing into the hot corner that I continue to do it in environments that aren't GNOME 3.

You know what happens when you mouse into the corner in these other OSes/DEs (excepting Ubuntu's Unity, which shares more technology with GNOME 3 than you might care to admit)?

Nothing.

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Thu, 06 Dec 2012

Feeling my way around GNOME 3.6 in the Fedora 18 Beta

Thanks to readers who have helped me, and to the Fedora Project for offering a very solid GNOME 3.x environment in what is now the Fedora 18 beta, I'm getting the hang of working in GNOME 3.6 (as opposed to the GNOME 3.4 version of the desktop environment in Debian Wheezy).

My previous complaints centered on what I thought were the absence of the "Connect to Server" and "Create Empty File" functions in the Nautilus file manager, now pretty much called Files in the world of GNOME.

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012

GNOME 3 update: 'Connect to Server' lives in GNOME 3.5/3.6, I rant about features being moved and removed, and I fix my GNOME 3.4 problem in Debian Wheezy

In my test of the Fedora 18 Alpha release, I was left thinking the "connect to server" feature in the Nautilus file manager disappeared in versions 3.5.x and 3.6.x of the GNOME desktop environment.

Thanks to readers, I learned that "connect to server" has moved to a separate application that you call from the shell with the not-so-friendly name Nautilus-connect-server, as seen in the image above.

You can still get to ftp, sftp, secure and unsecure webDAV and Windows shares via this application. Again, it's a separate application from Nautilus proper. And when you do call it and go to a server, Nautilus is the application that opens. It's like using Gigolo with Thunar in Xfce, though Thunar has recently added the ability to go to remote servers without Gigolo's help.

Yes, GNOME is separating a feature from its file manager while Xfce is adding that same feature to its own file manager.

What do you think of that?

I am happy that "connect to server" remains in GNOME 3, but I do have something to complain about:

One thing that seems to be missing from Nautilus in Fedora 18 is the ability to create an empty file from within the file manager with the "Create New Document" feature. I do this all the time: I create an empty file, open it in Gedit and then write the file and name it. It's already in the exact directory where I want it. Without this feature, I have to open Gedit, start the file, name it, then navigate to where I want it to be and finally save the file.

It's not a huge deal to create the file in Gedit, then save it where I want it. But this is another case of a feature ("Create New Document") disappearing in Nautilus because the developers feel it's no longer needed. It's absence adds an extra step to my workflow.

I use "Create New Document." I will miss it. It's absence is not a huge inconvenience. But this removal of functionality doesn't help me, or anybody else, in any way.

In this same vein, I'm glad you can still "connect to server" in GNOME 3, but why take the functionality out of Nautilus proper and put it in a hard-to-find, poorly named Nautilus-connect-server? The feature didn't die, but it's harder to access. How does that help?

Heading back to GNOME 3.4.2 in Debian Wheezy, I did fix my problem with not having a desktop at all when I logged into the system. After countless reinstalls of gnome-session and gnome-panel, which sometimes worked for a brief time but usually didn't at all, I followed some advice:

  • I created a new user account in my system.

Surprisingly (or not), that account had a working desktop. And a much faster desktop. When my original user account worked, logging in used to take a full minute or more. Now I could log in and have a working desktop in a few seconds. And the shell responded faster to commands. Or so it seemed.

With this knowledge in hand, I went into my original, non-working account in a virtual console using ctrl-alt-F2, logged in and got rid of the entire .config directory in my home directory:

$ rm -r .config

OK, that wasn't the first thing I did. First I tried to get rid of everything in ~.config that might have had something to do with GNOME. That didn't bring back my ability to log in and use GNOME Shell.

Only killing out the entire .config brought back my GNOME 3/Shell desktop -- and with all the speed that my "new" account had.

Sure, I lost more than a few settings. But I now have a working, seemingly faster user account in GNOME 3 in Debian Wheezy.

Yeah, I thought GNOME 3.6 had a lot of speed improvements over GNOME 3.4, but I think cobwebs in my ~.config ~/.config directory -- possibly due to changes over the Debian Testing cycle -- were killing my desktop performance. In any event, I'm happy enough with GNOME 3.4.2 as implemented in Debian Wheezy to stay there for a good long while.

And despite all the amputations in Nautilus, GNOME 3.6 is looking pretty good -- but not good enough to dump Debian Wheezy for it.

Note: My Chromium browser settings were also in ~.config ~/.config, but since I do sync them over privacy-robbing Google I was able to log in and get all of my bookmarks back in seconds. I lost all of my gPodder settings, which was more of a pain because my sync with gPodder.net was old and incomplete. I also lost my Gigolo setting (that sounds worse than it is).

Now that I've had time to think about it, the way to go about this is to change the name of .config -- maybe to config (with no dot). Then log out and log in. Then you haven't lost anything. GNOME will generate a new .config, and you can then move back in things like your Chromium, gPodder, Gigolo and other configurations that I lost in my haste to fix this GNOME Shell problem.

Another note for command-line newbies: In case you're not on board with all of the bash shell conventions, The "~" in ~.config ~/.config means that what follows it is in my home directory, e.g. /home/steven/.config, since my user name is steven. The ~ is a shortcut for "my home directory" that you can use in the shell to get there:

$ cd ~

is the same for me as:

$ cd /home/steven

Correction note: Thanks to reader Thor in the comments for fixing my syntax with "~" -- you always need a "/", which I have done above, striking through the original type and underlining the new. I should have tested this out before posting it. Like some or many of you, I'm still learning all this.