Featured Comments: Week of 2012 April 22

There were no "Featured Comments" posts the past 2 weeks because I was too busy to either post at all or post anything substantial within the week. Anyway, this week there was one post that got a couple comments, so I will repost all of those.

Review: Linux Mint MATE 201204

An anonymous reader had this suggestion: "You can often fix dependency errors with 'sudo aptitude dist-upgrade'. I installed the XFCE version. Took some work to get sound to function. Then I discovered the (apparently Debian) repositories didn't contain the PAN Usenet newsreader, and I was unable to build it from source. That's a showstopper for me. Can you 'sudo apt-get install pan' on this release?"
In response to that, another anonymous commenter said, "You can 'sudo apt-get install pan' IF you add Debian Unstable's repos to your sources.list, looks like Pan Newsreader is in Debian Stable and Unstable repos, but not in Testing. http://packages.debian.org/search?keywords=pan&searchon=names&suite=all&section=all"

Thanks to those two for commenting on that post. This coming week is going to be much more normal, so I will definitely try to post something big then. After that, though, the tail end of my semester will get much more busy again with the last round of midterm exams followed by final exams, so posting will probably be a bit infrequent then. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Linux Mint MATE 201204

I apologize for the lack of posts over the last couple weeks. Since two and a half weeks ago, I was hit with a steady barrage of homework, exams, UROP-related work, et cetera. Today was the last day of most of the hard stuff (until two weeks from now), so I'm reviewing this now.

Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
Recently, the Linux Mint developers released a large set of major updates for users of its Debian-based GNOME edition. This would, among other things, replace GNOME 2 with GNOME 3/Cinnamon or MATE. To allow new users to try an updated version of the edition, they released new versions of the ISO files. I am now trying the MATE edition.

I tried the 64-bit version (because I also want to seriously see whether it could reside on the hard drive of my 64-bit computer full-time) using a live USB made with MultiSystem, and I did not test the installation procedure. To be honest, I would have liked to have tried the GNOME 3/Cinnamon and Xfce editions too, but I only have time for the MATE edition now. Follow the jump to see what it's like.


FOLLOW-UP: How-To: Get My Desktop with MATE in Ubuntu

Desktop Cube + Chromium + Marlin + Gloobus-Preview
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post here about how to replicate my current desktop setup (Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME) with MATE in Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot". The two things I complained about were the malfunctioning Compiz desktop cube effect and the ugly dark panel using the Zukitwo GTK+ theme. Well, I am happy to report that both of those issues are fixed. As before, I did this by using an Ubuntu MATE Remix live USB session made with MultiSystem, and before I did any of the other things I installed the necessary packages to allow for the use of other GTK+ themes as mentioned in the previous post about this.

I was able to fix the first issue by following the instructions set out comment #32 on this article. There were just two changes to these instructions that I needed to make. The first was to insert "sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install libgnome-menu2" just before the line "sudo dpkg install *.deb". The second was to change that line "sudo dpkg install *.deb" to "sudo dpkg -i *.deb" (because "dpkg install" did not work for me but "dpkg -i" did for some reason). After following the rest of the instructions, I was able to install and use Compiz and Emerald as I do on a daily basis on my installed system with no issues of the desktop cube flashing or anything like that, and I was able to use all the other important things that worked even in the newer version discussed before too (like the ability of Compiz to open certain applications on specific workspaces by default). This is all thanks to using Compiz 0.8.6 rather than the latest version. Yay!

Marlin + Linux Mint Menu + Pluma
I was able to fix the second issue by not using the Zukitwo GTK+ theme but instead using the Greybird GTK+ theme that is the default in Xubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot". Because I would use that version of Xubuntu frequently as a live USB in order to run VirtualBox to install other distributions in a VM, I had to interact with that theme a lot, and I happen to like it quite a bit. It is a modified version of the Elementary GTK+ theme, and it retains the smooth, slick, gray, inoffensive look of the original while making the scrollbars normal (instead of ultra-thin). Plus, the panel is dark, yet there is no part of the panel that looks ugly like it did with Zukitwo. I was able to install this theme by issuing the commands "sudo add-apt-repository ppa:shimmerproject/ppa" and "sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install greybird-themes" into the terminal in that order. I was then able to change the theme settings to use that theme, and because Greybird has GTK2 and GTK3 themes both native MATE applications as well as Marlin (which I installed on the side as discussed in the previous post about this) looked quite good. Plus, because the dark panel actually looks nice, it did not require any further modification, so I didn't have to edit the gtkrc or create a "~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini" file as before, which is comforting. The only thing that the PPA seemed to lack (which was weird, because this was promised as being part of the full package too) was the Greybird window decoration theme for Emerald, so I went to the website of the project that created the Greybird theme, downloaded and opened the TAR.GZ archive and extracted only the Emerald theme package to a different folder. I then used the Emerald Theme Manager to locate and use that theme, and the desktop became complete.

And now, I truly do have my old desktop back. The only remaining problem is that Gloobus-Preview claims to be crashing a lot, but I haven't seen an actual crash yet, so I will just ignore those crash dialogs just as with Marlin or the Linux Mint Menu. Other than that, I do not have much else to say besides the fact that I am in all probability just going to install Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" GNOME/MATE (yes, apparently "Maya" is the official codename now) and follow these instructions. Also, given that I am using an older version of Compiz, I would probably have to use the Synaptic Package Manager to lock the installed versions of Compiz and Emerald to prevent any upgrades. This should not be an issue because I already have a few packages locked on my installed system, and that was easy to do and I haven't had any troubles with those packages since then. Awesome!


FOLLOW-UP: Requiem for a Gauss

Over a month ago, I had written this, and at the end I promised there would be a more complete, expanded version. Well, although I did get to write it, I never really got around to posting about it here, until now. So I finally converted the LaTeX into HTML using the program LaTeX2HTML and put the HTML code up on my MIT web locker, which you can see now. I hope this is a bit more complete and causes less confusion than my rough draft from before.


Featured Comments: Week of 2012 April 1

There was one post that got a few comments, so I will repost all of those.

Revisited: Linux Mint (KDE), Chakra, Fuduntu

Reader Andrew Wyatt, who is also the creator of Fuduntu, had this suggestion (which unfortunately did not work) for my Skype issues: "Try going to Preferences > Sound, then selecting the Hardware tab and then set the Profile to "Analog Stereo Duplex". Next, select the Input tab and then Click the radio button for Internal Analog Stereo (you'll probably find that it is not selected). Now set the Mic volume to whatever you want. Do a test call in Skype to see if your Mic works."
Commenter tracyanne said, " I've already moved to KDE on my Linux Mint 12 desktop. I was running LM 9 with GNOME 2 + Compiz, but an update broke something, basically Compiz stopped working, I could change the settings but they had no affect. So I upgraded to LM 12 and installed KDE then upgraded KDE 4.7.4 to 4.8.1 with the PPA."
Reader Randy had this suggestion: "Here is something for you to try! If you like gnome-do, gnome 2.3, compiz, then you should try Mint 12 LXDE and change the window manager from openbox-LXDE to Compiz! It's lighter than KDE and you can customize it to feel like Gnome 2.3. Best of all you will still have gnome-do available."
Commenter claudecat said, "Mint 12 KDE is a fine choice, and let's face it - gnome 2 is going to be gone forever at some point, and I have my doubts about MATE's longterm prognosis. For an even lighter KDE, you might try Arch or the dreaded Gentoo (230k ram use at idle with the full KDE installed - akonadi and nepomuk disabled). Not sure how or if your apps of choice would work with those however."

Thanks to all those who commented on this past week's posts. This coming week, I hope to have two follow-up posts to some previous articles I wrote, and maybe something else (or maybe not). Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Revisited: Linux Mint (KDE), Chakra, Fuduntu

I had tried out all these distributions again last week (during spring break) and this week, but I didn't think that each of them warranted their own posts (and this is also why there were no posts last week), so I have decided to combine them all into a short summary of my experiences. I'm doing this because I'm seriously trying to figure out what I should start using after Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME. I tested the 64-bit (because my computer has 64-bit hardware) live USB sessions of all of these using MultiSystem. Follow the jump to see what each is like.