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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.

Wed, 24 Sep 2014

Hammering hard on Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 20

So I'm working from home today and doing the full breaking-news production routine (anything that nine websites throws at me plus other assorted sundries) in Fedora 20 with Xfce 4.10. When I'm at the office, I usually split the load between a monster ThinkCentre machine (8 GB RAM, AMD CPU with 4 cores) running Windows 7 and this less powerful laptop with Fedora/Xfce (3 GB RAM, AMD APU with 2 cores).

But today I only have the laptop.

First, my latest software change: It's been getting more and more difficult to run the AMD Catalyst driver in Fedora. For the past month and then some, running Google Chrome would crash X if I didn't start it with just the right command switch. Then Firefox started crashing X if I opened up certain web sites in a new tab. File that under "time to ditch Catalyst."


So I pulled the AMD Catalyst packages I've been using from Fedora 19, and I'm back on the open-source Radeon driver. Surprisingly, I don't detect any decrease in graphics performance (but I'll get back to you when I try to watch a few more videos), and the laptop doesn't appear to be running any hotter.

Of course there is no suspend/resume with Radeon on this hardware (AMD A4-4300M APU with AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics).

But weighing fairly regular browser crashes against working suspend/resume when I have to get work done means Radeon kills Catalyst (for the time being).

That said, when I do this kind of production work, I run a couple of applications over Citrix (which is worse for the networking than it is for the CPU), a couple of browsers with a couple dozen tabs, FileZilla, the IrfanView image editor under Wine, Gedit, Thunar and a few more things here and there.

Xfce makes it easy to manage this many applications and windows. I doubt I could do as well or as quickly with GNOME 3.

Why am I mentioning GNOME 3 at all? Now that I'm no longer running Catalyst, I am able to run GNOME 3 once again in Fedora. In case you haven't been following along, GNOME 3 doesn't run with Catalyst in Fedora 20 because GNOME is built to be Wayland compatible, and that makes it fail spectacularly when using the Catalyst driver.

So while I've been dabbling in GNOME 3, for real work it's still Xfce all the way.

Later that day: First of all, like the days before I figured out fglrx/Catalyst, full-screen video in VLC pushes both CPU cores to 70+%, sending the fans whirring like crazy and slightly "stilting" the video. And rebooting on this system without Catalyst, for some reason (probably modifications to GRUB that aren't undone when the package is removed) got to be a bit dicey, with a black screen the result more times than not.

So I caved, returned to AMD Catalyst with the Fedora 19 packages, and enjoyed full-screen video in the usual way (not straining the CPU). Plus, I get back suspend/resume. And the ability to reboot at will.

The next day: I have to return to Windows for Citrix's sake.