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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Thu, 24 May 2012

When X dies in Linux

X died on me today. For the uninitiated, I mean the graphical environment -- the GUI, if you will.

The cursor moved, but the mouse and keyboard otherwise had no effect. I'm running Debian Squeeze with the default GNOME desktop environment.

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Tue, 22 May 2012

OwnCloud releases version 4

The OwnCloud team has released version 4 of the run-it-yourself file-sharing software.

Development on OwnCloud has been happening rather quickly. I distinctly remember updating my own installation with the last two point releases in Version 3.

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Blosxom in Github

I don't know what it means (and it could very well mean nothing), but Blosxom is now in GitHub.

Crawl through these files to find out more.

This file in particular says:

Welcome to Blosxom 3.0, the future of the Blosxom self-publishing system, coming soon to a computer near you.

Why I turned off dlvr.it

I like dlvr.it. It's a refreshingly easy service to work with. For me, it's understandable in a way that ping.fm never was.

So why am I turning it off?

In a word: hashtags.

Postings to Identi.ca and Twitter work better when the proper words are hashtagged (in Twitter) and #hashtagged or !bangtagged (is that the word?) in Identi.ca. And services like dlvr.it don't do that. Nor should they.

So I'm back to manually flogging my blog posts via social networks, hash/bang-tagging where needed.

Fri, 18 May 2012

Despite GNOME 3, GNOME remains compelling

I'm not jumping headlong into GNOME 3's GNOME Shell, though I see the day coming very soon when I'll leave GNOME 2 and Debian Squeeze behind.

I don't know who said, "The current desktop environment and its actual menus aren't working. Let's blow that stuff up and try something totally new with fewer features and little configurability." I'm neither totally against it, nor excited about making the transition.

With that in mind, I've tried lots of other desktop environments, including Xfce, LXDE, Openbox with Xfce's Thunar, Enlightenment (with PCManFM), etc.

No, I haven't given KDE a shot recently. I may.

But right now there are features and polish in GNOME's Nautilus file manager, Gedit text editor, and many other helper applications, that I would miss were I to leave GNOME entirely.

I could mix/match, bringing Nautilus, Gedit, Rhythmbox, NetworkManager and more into a different DE. Or I could close my eyes and leap ... into GNOME Shell.

I'm running Linux kernel 3.2.0-15 from Debian Backports

After months and months on Linux kernel 2.6.39 from Debian Backports on my Squeeze laptop, I decided to give a newer kernel a try.

I'm only using newer kernels than the 2.6.32 that ships with Squeeze because the version of the ALSA sound system built into that kernel doesn't mute the audio on my Lenovo G555 laptop when I plug in a headphone jack. Kernels after 2.6.35 or so, which include a newer ALSA, fix this bug, and that's pretty much the only reason I'm not running the stock Squeeze kernel, which is updated regularly for security patches.

The Debian Backports kernels don't seem to update on their own. You need to periodically go in there, see what new kernels are available and install one.

I've had few kernel panics here and there in 2.6.39, so I figured that dipping into the 3.x era of Linux kernels was warranted.

There are two 3.2.0 kernels right now in the Debian Backports repository -- 3.2.0-4 and 3.2.0-15. I used 3.2.0-15, and so far all is running well. Sound works as expected. So does suspend/resume. And in a couple of days, I've experienced no kernel panics.

Absent my sound issues, I would have never used a "newer" kernel, and by the time I move this laptop to Debian Wheezy (or any other distribution with a post-2.6.35 kernel), I should be able to run that system's default kernel for the duration.

Tue, 15 May 2012

I'm updating a CentOS 5 installation that hasn't been booted in three or four years

I have a dual-boot Ubuntu/CentOS laptop that my daughter has been using for the last few years. I'm about to decommission it (is that the proper terminology, decommission?) due to the fact that the laptop pretty much falling apart. Even so, I'm in the process of updating both the CentOS 5.2 and Ubuntu 10.04 installations.

While I do have a Linux/Windows dual-boot on my main laptop (the 2010 Lenovo G555), these days I don't stuff more than one Linux or BSD on a single machine. (For the most part, dual-booting is just not worth the trouble, though I reserve the right to change my mind.)

On the CentOS/Ubuntu dual-boot, the Ubuntu side started out as Xubuntu and eventually morphed into GNOME-running Ubuntu that survived an upgrade from 8.04 to 10.04.

Now that I have the laptop -- the old 2002-era Gateway Solo 1450 -- plugged in, I decided to update the CentOS 5.2 side first, just to see if it would work after years of being neither booted nor upgraded. It's in the process of downloading and installing some 350+ packages and is taking its own sweet time despite a very fast network connection.

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Thu, 10 May 2012

How to get more (or fewer) than four virtual workspaces on Ubuntu's Unity desktop

I've been wondering how you adjust the number of virtual workspaces on the Unity desktop in Ubuntu 12.04.

Well, you can add more or take some away. This AskUbuntu.com article shows you how to do it.

There's a new Icedove (aka Thunderbird) in the Debian Mozilla APT Archive

Icedove's recent history in the Debian Mozilla APT archive has been spotty.

You can rely on the archive for either the latest stable Iceweasel (aka Firefox) or a development version. But Icedove has been in and out. The "newer" version that the archive offered for quite some time was v.5, and that tended to break iceowl-extension and Google Calendar integration, neither of which were part of the Debian Mozilla APT archive themselves but which limped along from Squeeze itself.

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Tue, 08 May 2012

Video-editing update: LiVES, KDEnlive and OpenShot

I really wanted LiVES to work. I installed it in Debian Squeeze, but I couldn't figure out the first thing about how to use it. I figured out how to play a clip, but it wouldn't work -- I just got a blank window on my screen.

It really makes me appreciate how well OpenShot works.

Not that I'm against trying everything, because I'm not. Right after LiVES failed me, I installed the KDEnlive video editing application on my Debian system. While I haven't actually edited anything in it just yet, I have poked around in the interface and imported and played with a few clips.

I hope to try it soon for a full video, but I'll have to do a little reading first so I know what I'm doing.

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