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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 01 Dec 2016

I tried to tweak my Fedora settings in KDE Plasma, and it screwed up everything in GNOME and Xfce

The morale of this story is that the KDE Plasma settings can screw up your Xfce and GNOME settings. So if you're using multiple desktop environments on a single system -- like my Fedora 25 laptop, or any other Linux system -- you could be in for some pain.

What I was trying to do is configure a dark theme for KDE Plasma (easy) and also use dark themes when running GTK3 and GTK2 apps on the Plasma desktop.

It looked pretty good in KDE Plasma, but things went pear-shaped in GNOME 3 and Xfce. My fonts were screwed up, Menus were gray type on a gray background, and icons were messed up -- with KDE icons bleeding into Xfce.

And then I had trouble logging in with Plasma at all. Blame the Fedora 25 upgrade (and KDE Plasma in general) for that one.

I first tried using the many Xfce configuration utilities to make it right. That didn't do much. I finally was able to log into Plasma (only after a reboot) and attempt to undo the damage. I was partially successful.

In GNOME 3, I had a lot of success with the GNOME Tweak Tool (which should be preinstalled on every GNOME system). I was able to use the Xfce Adiwata Dark theme to make even my GTK2/GTK+ apps look better in GNOME. The whole dark-themed GNOME experience is pretty much better than ever. So that's a win.

And I finally got Xfce looking right. I'm still having display font issues, but everything is more than good enough, and figuring out how to make dark-themed GNOME look better than ever is a bonus.

Thu, 24 Nov 2016

I did the Fedora 25 upgrade

I upgraded from Fedora 24 to 25 today. So far, so good.

Update: I've had periodic Google Chrome freezes. I've had to kill it and start again a few times. I just had one while writing this post with Ode's EditEdit plugin. Not sure if this is a Google Chrome thing or a Fedora thing. I do have Fedora's version of Chromium to test.

Another update, a day later: No Google Chrome freezes today. I just had my first Google Chrome freeze of the day. Before that I replaced RPM Fusion's Audacity 2.1.2 with Fedora's own Audacity 2.1.3, and my GTK3 rendering issues are now gone. And for some reason I can still output an MP3 even though this isn't the "freeworld" version.

Trying Chromium: I am trying the Fedora-packaged version of Chromium to see if I experience the same freezes that I have been getting in Google's version of the application.

Chromium update: You know what's not crashing? The Fedora-packaged Chromium browser.

So far today, I have replaced the Chrome browser hosted on Google's server and Audacity from RPM Fusion with versions of both from Fedora's own repository. I always like using as many packages as possible from a distribution's own repo (generally a point in Debian and Ubuntu's favor), and it's nice to get closer to that ideal in Fedora.

I have been meaning to write about the coming of Chromium to Fedora for a long time but never got around to it. It installed on my computer automatically as the dependency of another app, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

I also should write about MP3 support (decoding, not encoding) coming to native Fedora (i.e. without RPM Fusion). While I do have RPM Fusion repos active on my Fedora desktop installation (I'm sure there are people who don't ...), I'm not sure if that's the reason my now-Fedora-supplied (and non-"freeworld") Audacity is able to output an MP3 file. All I know is that I'm happy to have my Audacity rendering issues (which have been problematic for a couple of months) and Chrome freezing issues (only a problem since the Fedora 25 upgrade) both solved in very short order.

More info on Fedora's Chromium package: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Chromium

Possible clue on why Google Chrome is freezing in Fedora 25: From a Fedora mailing list exchange

GNOME 3.22: As dozens of entries on this site will tell you, I periodically try GNOME 3 and usually abandon it because I get more work done in Xfce. In Fedora 25 -- for the first time -- Wayland is the default display technology for GNOME. When I try to run that on this 3-year-old AMD-running laptop (HP Pavilion g6-2210us), it freezes. The Xorg version, still available in the GDM choices, does work.

Chrome in GNOME: It seemed to be working fine. Once again, time for a GNOME test.

A ton of updates means Wayland is now working: All the video drivers updated just now in Fedora 25, and I can now run GNOME in Wayland. That was a quick fix.

Sat, 05 Nov 2016

This Fedora install still kicking after SIX upgrades

I started this laptop on Fedora 18 before a fairly quick upgrade to F19. I've kept it going all the way through Fedora 24.

So far that's six "major" upgrades. And it still works fine. Not that it shouldn't, but I don't remember things ever going this smoothly for this long.

Mon, 22 Aug 2016

Keep Fedora's dnf from upgrading certain packages

Since the OpenShot video editor is pretty much broken in version 2.0.x, and I'm using a Fedora 22 package of version 1.4.3 so I can keep editing video while I contemplate learning KDEnlive.

I installed the OpenShot 1.4.3 package, and in my next run of the yumex-dnf package manager, it cheerfully offered to upgrade to 2.0.7.

No.

So how do you keep yumex-dnf and regular ol' dnf from bugging you about this every time?

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 18 Aug 2016

Do broken apps in Fedora mean I should turn to Ubuntu?

I hadn't edited a video in a long time, and when I opened the OpenShot video editor in Fedora 24 yesterday, I found a completely updated user interface in version 2.0.7 that made the app harder to use. I could barely see the tracks at the bottom, and there appeared to be no way to make that window big enough to remedy the problem.

I could no longer change the "properties" of an item and modify the time it occupied on the video.

It wasn't recognizing linefeeds on my Inkscape-generated titles.

And then it crashed all the time.

In short, a decent, workhorse app has become totally useless.

I then tried to edit some audio. Again, I haven't done it in awhile. Audacity is very stable, so how could there be a problem?

There was. The play/pause buttons kept disappearing, as did the icons for switching modes. I was able to do a quick audio edit, but it was neither easy nor pleasant.

I think the OpenShot issues are systematic to the project and its one-man-band development situation. (I know -- I really should figure out KDEnlive and be done with it.)

Audacity's problem lies elsewhere in the system, as this Fedora bug report details.

I have a test Ubuntu 16.04 system on another drive. I loaded it up and installed Audacity (same version, 2.1.2). It worked perfectly.

I installed OpenShot, which RPM Fusion distributes for Fedora users in version 2.0.7). Ubuntu provides version 1.4.3. Which is old. But it works.

So I'm wondering if I should just make the leap and dump Fedora 24 for Ubuntu 16.04. It would do wonders for my video- and audio-editing productivity, for one thing.

And I thought that Ubuntu's HUD (heads-up display) was roughly equal to what GNOME 3 offers in its "hot corner" search. Nope. In GNOME, you can search for applications but not files. Ubuntu's HUD allows you to find applications and files. This is no deal-breaker because you can search for files in the Nautilus/Files file manager in both Ubuntu's Unity and any system running GNOME. Still, the HUD (love or hate what it CAN search for) is better than anything else out there for Linux.

So will I do it? I hate replacing systems and moving my files over. But I'm thinking.

Fri, 22 Jul 2016

I'm doing the Fedora 23 to 24 upgrade

I'm finally getting to the Fedora 23-to-24 upgrade on my laptop, which has been running Fedora on the same installation since the F18 release. (That means the upgrade has never failed.)

The upgrade process is getting smoother and smoother. This time the upgrade uses dnf instead of fedup.

I think that there will be a graphical upgrade for Fedora Workstation (i.e. GNOME) systems in this current release. But since I'm in Xfce right now, it's still a command-line process.

I used this guide from the Fedora Magazine site, and all is going great so far. Dnf has 4,033 items to download and 7,870 tasks to perform in the course of the upgrade, so it'll take a while to finish.

Update: As expected, the upgrade is taking a long time. That's normal. I managed to start early, and I have a whole day ahead of me. Plus I have use of another computer, so I'm able to continue working while the laptop is unavailable.

No 'n': When I finally resolve the issue, I'll recount my tale of the broken 'n' key on the HP Pavilion g6-2210us. With a barely working 'n' key, it's a great time to do an upgrade since typing words with the letter 'n' is not my favorite activity (though at home I have an external keyboard to get around the problem).

After the upgrade: I don't use GNOME very often, but I can confirm that the default Catarell font does display better (as promised). A better-looking display definitely makes me want to use GNOME more.

GNOME Shell itself seems more responsive. But again, I don't use it enough to know for sure.

I just found out that I'll soon be able to leave Citrix Receiver behind, and that will mean that I can use just about any desktop environment. For the past year and then some, only Xfce has played well with the Citrix apps that I use, which stretch across multiple screens and pose problems when it comes to switching from one screen to another.

Thu, 07 Jul 2016

Fix for Ubuntu 16.04 with Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 WiFi adapter and Time Warner modem

Update: This issue went away in a normal install. I presume that the added firmware during installation took care of the WiFi issues.

Original entry begins here:

I was just saying how compatible my now-3-year-old HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop is with Linux at its advanced age. Everything in Fedora works with no tweaking, no modifications.

So I wanted to try Ubuntu 16.04 (with Unity even). First I used Unetbootin to put the ISO on a USB key. That didn't seem to work, though I had enough trouble getting the display to work that the problem could very well lie elsewhere.

So I used dd to put the ISO on the USB:

sudo dd if=/path/to/ISO of=/dev/sdb bs=8M

That worked. I booted into Ubuntu 16.04. Then I still had a blank screen. I tried to switch to a virtual terminal with ctrl-alt-F2, and eventually hit all the ctrl-alt-number combinations, after which ctrl-alt-F7 got me the graphical desktop.

That very well could have worked with my Unetbootin-created bootable USB stick.

Meanwhile, once I had Ubuntu running, I could connect to my older Netgear router running WEP but not to my newer Time Warner modem/router (I can't remember the brand or model) with WPA.

My laptop uses the Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 WiFi module, and that was where I looked first for ideas.

I found something pretty quickly.

In a terminal, enter this line:

 echo "options asus_nb_wmi wapf=1" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/asus.conf

After that, I was able to connect to my WPA-enabled router, and all was well.

I didn't think I needed to resort to this kind of filthy hack in 2016 and on a laptop that has been in the wild for three full years.

But I did.

I'm not sure what I think of Ubuntu 16.04 just yet. I'll need to do a Citrix test. Running the big Citrix-enabled application that I use for my day job is pretty good in Xfce but horrible in GNOME Shell in Fedora. If it is in any way better in Unity, that will carry a lot of weight.

Thu, 28 Jan 2016

Linux advice: How to get started with Debian (or any Linux) web server

I answered this question on Quora and figured that I might as well put the answer here, too:

The question: Are there any good resources (Books) to get started on a Linux (Debian) web server?

Here is my answer:

You should definitely get The Debian Administrator's Handbook.

Then there is everything on the Debian documentation page.

And the good thing about Debian is that most posts and other references that explain how to do something in Ubuntu will also work for Debian.

With that in mind, just about any book or site that helps you run any kind of Linux web server will help you with Debian.

O'Reilly is releasing a new version of The Apache Cookbook in two months. I highly recommend it.

I also recommend two No Starch Press books: How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know and The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction

This part is not on Quora:

I've been thinking for years that the technical publishing industry has thought of Linux as "done," and would continue to wind down their previously robust book schedules.

That pretty much happened, but seeing a new "Apache Cookbook," plus these two excellent titles from No Starch as well as a third, The Linux Programming Interface: A Linux and Unix System Programming Handbook, I see four very compelling Linux books that aren't woefully out of date.

They may not be focused on individual distros, but that is a strength, not a weakness.

Thu, 31 Dec 2015

Things Fedora 23 fixes: Yumex DNF display with dark theme

Like any software upgrade, going from Fedora 22 to 23 has its wins and losses, however temporary in both cases.

In the "wins" category: Yumex-DNF, the graphical package manager that isn't GNOME Software now displays normally with the Adiwata dark theme that I've been using.

Hopefully there is improvement across the board in GTK3 application rendering with dark themes.

Tue, 29 Dec 2015

Great Fedora Magazine interview with Kevin Fenzi

Fedora Magazine did a "How Do You Fedora" interview with Kevin Fenzi, longtime Fedora contributor and Red Hat employee who does so much for Xfce in the distribution.