Sun Nov 14 2010

I recently upgraded to Maverick Meercat with me beloved KDE and things went mostly swimmingly but I soon discovered Google Earth won't run without some finesse (as usual), it likes to crash at start up. Some clever soul at Tech Drive-In has posted a fix: pico ~/.config/Google/GoogleEarthPlus.conf Look for this line if it exists or add it to the end of the list: enableTips=false

What I'd like to know is how said soul figured out how that miscellaneous bit in a config file brought the entire program to its knees? You also still have to turn the "atmosphere" option off for it to run acceptably (Google apparently has their own ideas on how compositing should work). Still a lot of hiccups with this new release but that's nothing new. Most things worked fine from a Lucid upgrade with everything pre-installed but not so much with a dist-upgrade from a fresh Lucid to Meercat.

Next up: fresh install. I'll let you know how it goes...

Mon Jul 26 2010

I've been thinking for a long time that certain desktop icons would be more useful with a text area input but since no one has done it I wasn't sure it was as clever an idea as I thought. After toying around with the iPad for a while it clicked. Here I am coding it up as a plasmoid. It basically works but is totally Alpha at the moment. When I get it spit shined I'll share.

Wed Jul 21 2010

The "Web Slices" Plasmoid in KDE4-Ubuntu is a little buggy and lacks configuration options but can be useful. I've been looking for a way to get a doppler radar feed embedded on my desktop and this plasmoid made it pretty painless. I chose Wunderground's site to take a slice from because you can set their image to loop up to six times and can easily pass just your favorite variables to their server like so: And the magic element ID: #container

Now we're literally bringing the Cloud to the desktop. Ha!!! -couldn't resist!

Tue Jun 15 2010

I've been itching for an excuse to install Lucid from scratch and was recently handed an opportunity when there was a power outage while me boxen was suspended to RAM. The real hurt was on when I got my system back up and running and discovered I'd lost and was (possibly) losing data. I switched into damage control mode to back up everything only to realize my /home directory had balooned to over 90 Gig. -Ouch, how'd that happen? Most of it was from running different distro's in Virtualbox but a lot of it was from music CD's I've ripped.

Getting a fresh install of Ubuntu up to speed should be less tedious. I could see an encrypted DB stored on your UbuntuOne with the applications you'd like to have automagically after a fresh install. Otherwise for us in the trenches, you'd make a plain text file with a space delimited list of the appy's you want and paste it to the command line like so: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gimp inkscape digikam stellarium gftp kruler xaos xaralx eclipse blender abiword -Go grab a beverage of choice...

Update: It's probably worth mentioning that if you're going to make a list of this sort, apt-cache is an invaluable tool to find the base package name as well as finding lot's of other goodies like extensions and plug-ins that don't always show up in a GUI package manager. GIMP, for example, has a ton of them and you should definitely pipe the output through the more command like so: apt-cache search gimp | more

Sun May 2 2010

The latest release of Kubuntu is looking like Canonical has put some elbow grease into it.

Just to be cheeky, I installed the Bouncy Ball plasmoid on my Games desktop and themed it to blend with the wallpaper there. Too bad it won't do a transparent PNG. It likes SVG presumably so you can scale it but it, oddly, is one of the few plasmoids I've tinkered with that doesn't. It's easy to change the default graphic tho, just clicking on it opens it in Inkscape and you can just drag an off white color onto it and save.



After spending days tweaking my Karmic desktop with no end in sight, I think it's safe to fall in love with KDE again.

It's super tweaky (cue up a certain Rick James song). After I crank up the eye bling under System Settings I head on over to for some more candy (yesss, we likesss it don'ts weee).

At present it doesn't make sense to have multiple desktops yet as Plasmoids will show up on all of them, which is annoying but the Plasmoid documentation (of which there is amazingly little of) says this will change in the future. Even the Dashboard is useless thus far. So for now I have Daisy to organize my Launchers, which can be customized to look like the OSX dock. Heh, how could I resist?

Karmic curiously doesn't come with any screensavers and there's nothing in the repo's you haven't seen before. comes to the rescue here too. My favorites so far that will compile without dependency issues are:

Another little goody worth mentioning is the Oxygencolors icon pack that add a bunch of slick icons and lets you even change the Kickoff Application Launcher icon from the command line. Schweet!


Mandriva on the Eee-PC rocks. It's hands down the best distro I've installed on the little beasty. All of the basics work straight out of the box. Since I had a bad experience in the past with urpmi, I went about tweaking this puppy in GUI mode in the Mandriva Control Center and was impressed. MCC is really neat but sadly, doesn't always work as advertised. It will not under any circumstance mount a remote Windows share no matter what helper appy's you install or config files tweaked. I ended up installing smb4k for that. -Seemed a bit ghetto at the time but has worked fine for the few days I've been toying with it and it's much improved since I last used it a year or so ago.

It boots a bit quicker than Ubuntu-eee but overall doesn't feel as snappy. I like how the installer asks to remove packages that aren't needed for your hardware, although after installing all my essentials I'm still left with a half a gig out of the four on my root partition. This is something I've been a bit tiffed about on Ubuntu as all of my hardware is Intel and I see things like Nvidia and ATI driver updates regularly with no way to opt out (that I know of). Update: It's there but not obvious. A topic for another post...


Ever curious about the state of Kubuntu, I was searching for some useful info about the recent Ubuntu Developer conference hosted by Google in California. Oddly, not much info on how that went on the Web but I found an interesting article about Ubuntu and it's founder Mark Shuttleworth in general at the NYT online. Nice piece that fleshes out the Ubuntu background.


OK, someone has got to make this a plasmoid (won't be me, I'm smart enough to know I'm nowhere near that level a coder). It's inevitable. Couple this with KDE4x backgrounds and you've got something like Steampunk meets Tim Burton. Saa-weeet.

Seems a little redundant to have the LED's lit all the time with hardware spinning, save the outer ring, to show the time when it can all be done with software to save some wattage/wear.

Then again, I'm not a watch maker.


I took some time meandering around and taking a look at other Linux distro's. I tried out openSUSE as it has KDE as its window manager. I ditched it. It wasn't for lack of polish, it looked really nice. The installation sluggishness came off feeling like bloat. Ubuntu 8.10 installs in just over 10 minutes! It wouldn't even install in Virtualbox so I put it into a separate partition. The thing that really threw me is after a fresh install I automatically open a terminal and instinctively type "sudo apt-get update". Screech....BAM! What is this YAST you speak of?!?

To be fair I didn't even try it out but Apt, I can't do without.

My next distro I want to try is Mandriva. I always hear good things about it -erm, besides that whole identity crisis/sex change thing they did a few years back. I even revisited SimplyMepis (just call me Mephis ;P) , which I cut my Linux teeth on, it brought back the warm fuzzies and gave me a chuckle, the desktop is a cluttered mess with icons all over the place. I remember it was fun to clean up and organize it the way I wanted but it doesn't look like it's changed in years. The same reason I can't stick with Gnome for any length of time. I got kind of weary though, so many distros, so little time. I feel like a professional Linux installer, my list of distro's to date:

I read on some forum you are considered a "noob" until you've installed five to six distro's </tongeincheek>. Woo-hoo, noob no more!

I went back to trusty Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE4.1x, no problems except for having to set monitor size in KDE at reboots. I tenaciously upgraded to 4.2 and got caught with the same display problems as before. This time before I could mess around with Xrandr to see if it would solve my display problems something went bad with the composite manager and windows got stuck in place with no title bars. I couldn't get focus on the one thing that could've saved the install: the mighty command line. I gave up again. I'll try back at 4.3 in a separate partition. I'm stuck with 4.1x for now (I know, heroic but I've spent way too much time with this already). The joys of the bleeding edge.


I recently went through a little withdrawal over not having Google Earth on my KDE4.1 desktop and I managed to get it installed properly by messing with .deb packages and such but I just stumbled upon a site that gives easy instructions that seems to work if you've installed Medibuntu: sudo apt-get install googleearth -Doh!

Google Earth will run strange with your favorite compositing manager running. Turning off the "Atmosphere" option under the "view" menu will give you a useable app.


Ubuntu and KDE4 are coming along. LAN works refreshingly well out of the box. Very nice. There are still monitor resolution issues that I haven't had under Ubuntu. It's annoying to have to set it every reboot. If you need to connect to a Windows server the best guide is here. Works every time but I've recently discovered you can only mount specific shares due to cifs which doesn't yet support this.

With every fresh Ubuntu install you should install Medibuntu for those pesky codecs to play multimedia.

Alternatively, if you live in the States, and therefore with kooky IP laws, you can purchase Fluendo through Canonical. I thought this was going to handle all my media playback needs but much to my consternation Amarok won't play streams out of the box. For that: sudo apt-get install kubuntu-restricted-extras So even though I purchased Fluendo I'll just save some time next install and do the Medibuntu, it seems to take care of everything.


I like to have useful/educational shortcuts on my desktop like a quick link to Wikipedia's search page. Right click on the image to the right -> Save Image As -> File System -> usr -> share -> icons.
Next copy the following code and paste into a .txt file in a hidden folder such as /home/pete/.icons (I haven't been able to find a better place for it in KDE4. Even though it will have an ".desktop" extension it will still render this icon with the extension when you drag and drop it onto the desktop so I put it in this hidden folder) and save as Wikipedia.desktop. Then drag and drop this onto the desktop to make a proper link. I think this also works in Gnome, haven't tried it though.

[Desktop Entry]