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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.

Tue, 08 May 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 and Unity -- I'm ready

We users of Linux are a fickle lot. We flit here and there, from one distro to another, even to a BSD on occasion.

I've been "loyal" to Debian for a couple years now. It works. But it's time for a change.

Given the demise of GNOME 2 in favor of the radically reimagined GNOME 3, I've been "auditioning" everything from CrunchBang (Openbox with Xfce's Thunar file manager) and Bodhi (Enlightenment) to Fedora (GNOME 3 and Xfce), Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Lubuntu and Debian Wheezy.

I go back and forth on GNOME 3 and Unity. Sometimes I think I can be productive in these very different environments. Other times I wonder what's wrong with having a traditional application menu.

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Sat, 05 May 2012

Xubuntu 12.04 with Xfce 4.8 - one giant leap and a mighty attractive desktop (revised)

So I'm in the live environment for Xubuntu 12.04, which aside from the ugly wallpaper (including every alternative wallpaper on the ISO image) is a great-looking and -working Xfce 4.8 desktop.

My main mission in running the live distro from a USB flash drive: Checking networked-filesystem support in the Thunar file manager.

So far I'm using FTP in Thunar to write this post. And I didn't need the Gigolo helper program to open the FTP site and create and save the file.

That's a win.

After a few false starts, I also got Thunar working for sftp connections.

Another win.

What I "forgot" to do originally when trying to start an sftp:// connection in Thunar was to specify the port number when I opened it up. Here's how I did it:

  • In Thunar, go to "Go" in the menu, then select "Open Location."
  • In the Open Location dialog, enter this:


In my case, that port number is 2222, so it would be something like this (I'm using a "fake" URL for demonstration purposes; use your real URL and real port number to make this work -- I can verify that it does work -- and you don't need Gigolo!):


  • Once you enter the sftp address with port number following the colon, you'll be prompted to OK the SSL certificate of the server.
  • If you trust that certificate, OK it. Then Thunar will open a window to your server via secure FTP, and you can use the file manager to treat that server like a native filesystem, sorting the files in Thunar and editing them with the application of your choice. I used Leafpad, as it is the default text editor in Xfce (and in Xubuntu).

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