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Listener Feedback podcast episode 50: Tab – Dead Poets: The Village Idiots

December 27th, 2015 No comments

Listener Feedback podcast is a royalty free and Creative Commons music podcast. This episode, titled “Episode 50: Full Album – Tab – Dead Poets: The Village Idiots” was released on Sunday December 27th, 2015. To suggest artists and albums that should be featured you can send an e-mail to contact@listenerfeedback.net or message @LFpodcast on Twitter.

To subscribe to the podcast add the feed here or listen to this episode by clicking here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Listener Feedback podcast episode 49: Final Round – None Of Us Will Ever Leave A Legacy

December 13th, 2015 No comments

Listener Feedback podcast is a royalty free and Creative Commons music podcast. This episode, titled “Episode 49: Full Album – Final Round – None Of Us Will Ever Leave A Legacy” was released on Sunday December 13th, 2015. To suggest artists and albums that should be featured you can send an e-mail to contact@listenerfeedback.net or message @LFpodcast on Twitter.

To subscribe to the podcast add the feed here or listen to this episode by clicking here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Let’s write a very simple text editor in CoreGTK

December 5th, 2015 No comments

In this post I’ll quickly show how you can write a very simple text editor using CoreGTK. This example is purposely very basic, has no real error handling and few features but it does show how to use CoreGTK in various ways.

To start with I quickly threw something together in GLADE (which if you aren’t aware is an excellent drag and drop GUI editor for GTK+).

coregtk_glade

Very basic shell in GLADE

Next I created a SimpleTextEditor class that will house the majority of my logic and stubbed out my callbacks and methods.

@interface SimpleTextEditor : NSObject
{
    CGTKTextView *txtView;
    CGTKWidget *window;
}

-(void)show;

// Callbacks
-(void)winMain_Destroy;
-(void)btnNew_Clicked;
-(void)btnOpen_Clicked;
-(void)btnSave_Clicked;

// Helper methods to deal with the text view
-(NSString *)getText;
-(void)setText:(NSString *)text;

@end

Now the fun part begins: filling in the implementation of the methods. First create the init and dealloc methods:

-(id)init
{
    self = [super init];
    
    if(self)
    {
        CGTKBuilder *builder = [[CGTKBuilder alloc] init];
        if(![builder addFromFileWithFilename:@"gui.glade" andErr:NULL])
        {
            NSLog(@"Error loading GUI file");
            return nil;
        }
        
        NSDictionary *dic = [[NSDictionary alloc] initWithObjectsAndKeys:
            [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(winMain_Destroy)], @"winMain_Destroy",
            [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(btnNew_Clicked)], @"btnNew_Clicked",
            [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(btnOpen_Clicked)], @"btnOpen_Clicked",
            [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(btnSave_Clicked)], @"btnSave_Clicked",
            nil];
        
        [CGTKBaseBuilder connectSignalsToObjectsWithBuilder:builder andSignalDictionary:dic];
        
        // Get a reference to the window
        window = [CGTKBaseBuilder getWidgetFromBuilder:builder withName:@"winMain"];
        
        // Get a reference to the text view
        txtView = [[CGTKTextView alloc] initWithGObject:[[CGTKBaseBuilder getWidgetFromBuilder:builder withName:@"txtView"] WIDGET]];
        
        [builder release];
    }
    
    return self;
}
-(void)dealloc
{
    [txtView release];
    [window release];
    [super dealloc];
}

OK let’s break down what we’ve done so far.

CGTKBuilder *builder = [[CGTKBuilder alloc] init];
if(![builder addFromFileWithFilename:@"gui.glade" andErr:NULL])
{
    NSLog(@"Error loading GUI file");
    return nil;
}

First thing is to parse the GLADE file which is what this code does. Next we need to connect the signals we defined for the different events in GLADE to the callback methods we defined in our code:

NSDictionary *dic = [[NSDictionary alloc] initWithObjectsAndKeys:
    [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(winMain_Destroy)], @"winMain_Destroy",
    [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(btnNew_Clicked)], @"btnNew_Clicked",
    [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(btnOpen_Clicked)], @"btnOpen_Clicked",
    [CGTKCallbackData withObject:self andSEL:@selector(btnSave_Clicked)], @"btnSave_Clicked",
    nil];

[CGTKBaseBuilder connectSignalsToObjectsWithBuilder:builder andSignalDictionary:dic]

Finally extract and store references to the window and the text view for later:

// Get a reference to the window
window = [CGTKBaseBuilder getWidgetFromBuilder:builder withName:@"winMain"];

// Get a reference to the text view
txtView = [[CGTKTextView alloc] initWithGObject:[[CGTKBaseBuilder getWidgetFromBuilder:builder withName:@"txtView"] WIDGET]];

Before we can test anything out we need to fill in a few more basic methods to show the window on command and to exit the GTK+ loop when we close the window:

-(void)show
{
    [window showAll];
}

-(void)winMain_Destroy
{
    [CGTK mainQuit];
}

Now we can actually use our SimpleTextEditor so let’s write a main method to create it:

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{    
    NSAutoreleasePool *pool = [[NSAutoreleasePool alloc] init];

    /* 
     * This is called in all GTK applications. Arguments are parsed
     * from the command line and are returned to the application. 
     */
    [CGTK autoInitWithArgc:argc andArgv:argv];
    
    // Create and display editor
    SimpleTextEditor *editor = [[SimpleTextEditor alloc] init];
    
    // Check for error
    if(editor == nil)
    {
        return 1;
    }
    
    // Show the window    
    [editor show];
    
    // Start GTK+ loop
    [CGTK main];

    // Release allocated memory
    [editor release];
    [pool release];

    // Return success
    return 0;
}

Compile and run this and you’ll be presented with a cool Simple Text Editor window!

Our very... err... simple text editor

Our very… err… simple text editor

So far so good. Let’s keep filling in our stubbed in methods starting with our helper methods that will allow us to manipulate the underlying text buffer:

-(NSString *)getText
{
    gchar *gText = NULL;
    GtkTextBuffer *buf = NULL;
    GtkTextIter start, end;
    NSString *nsText = nil;
    
    // Grab reference to text buffer
    buf = [txtView getBuffer];
    
    // Determine the bounds of the buffer
    gtk_text_buffer_get_bounds (buf, &start, &end);
    
    // Get the gchar text from the buffer
    gText = gtk_text_buffer_get_text(buf, &start, &end, FALSE);
    
    // Convert it to an NSString
    nsText = [NSString stringWithUTF8String:gText];
    
    // Free the allocated gchar string
    g_free(gText);

    // Return the text
    return nsText;
}

-(void)setText:(NSString *)text
{
    // Get reference to text buffer
    GtkTextBuffer *buf = [txtView getBuffer];
    
    // Set contents of text buffer
    gtk_text_buffer_set_text(buf, [text UTF8String], -1);
}

At this point we have everything we need to implement our New button click callback method:

-(void)btnNew_Clicked
{
    [self setText:@""];
}

Like I said this is a pretty basic example so in a real world application I would hope you would prompt the user before blowing away all of their text!

All that’s left to do at this point is to implement the Open and Save callback methods. For these I’m going to create a new class, MultiDialog, to show how you can still really dig into the GTK+ C code when you need to.

@interface MultiDialog : NSObject
{
}

+(NSString *)presentOpenDialog;
+(NSString *)presentSaveDialog;

@end

And here is the implementation:

@implementation MultiDialog

+(NSString *)presentOpenDialog
{
    // Variables
    CGTKFileChooserDialog *dialog = nil;
    gchar *gText = NULL;
    gint result;
    NSString *filename = nil;

    // Create the dialog itself
    dialog = [[CGTKFileChooserDialog alloc] initWithTitle:@"Open File" andParent:nil andAction:GTK_FILE_CHOOSER_ACTION_OPEN];
    
    // Add cancel and open buttons
    gtk_dialog_add_button ([dialog DIALOG],
                   "_Cancel",
                   GTK_RESPONSE_CANCEL);
    gtk_dialog_add_button ([dialog DIALOG],
                   "_Open",
                   GTK_RESPONSE_ACCEPT);
    
    // Run the dialog
    result = gtk_dialog_run (GTK_DIALOG ([dialog WIDGET]));

    // If the user clicked Open
    if(result == GTK_RESPONSE_ACCEPT)
    {
        // Extract the filename and convert it to an NSString
        gText = gtk_file_chooser_get_filename ([dialog FILECHOOSERDIALOG]);
        filename = [NSString stringWithUTF8String:gText];
    }

    // Cleanup
    g_free(gText);
    gtk_widget_destroy ([dialog WIDGET]);
    [dialog release];
    
    return filename;
}

+(NSString *)presentSaveDialog
{
    // Variables
    CGTKFileChooserDialog *dialog = nil;
    gchar *gText = NULL;
    gint result;
    NSString *filename = nil;

    // Create the dialog itself
    dialog = [[CGTKFileChooserDialog alloc] initWithTitle:@"Save File" andParent:nil andAction:GTK_FILE_CHOOSER_ACTION_SAVE];
    
    // Add cancel and save buttons
    gtk_dialog_add_button ([dialog DIALOG],
                   "_Cancel",
                   GTK_RESPONSE_CANCEL);
    gtk_dialog_add_button ([dialog DIALOG],
                   "_Save",
                   GTK_RESPONSE_ACCEPT);

    // Set settings
    gtk_file_chooser_set_do_overwrite_confirmation ([dialog FILECHOOSERDIALOG], TRUE);
    gtk_file_chooser_set_current_name([dialog FILECHOOSERDIALOG], "Untitled document");
    
    // Run the dialog
    result = gtk_dialog_run (GTK_DIALOG ([dialog WIDGET]));

    // If the user clicked Save
    if(result == GTK_RESPONSE_ACCEPT)
    {
        // Extract the filename and convert it to an NSString
        gText = gtk_file_chooser_get_filename ([dialog FILECHOOSERDIALOG]);
        filename = [NSString stringWithUTF8String:gText];
    }

    // Cleanup
    g_free(gText);
    gtk_widget_destroy ([dialog WIDGET]);
    [dialog release];
    
    return filename;
}

@end

There is quite a bit of code there but hopefully the comments make it pretty easy to follow. Now that we have our MultiDialog class we can use it in our SimpleTextEditor methods:

-(void)btnOpen_Clicked
{
    NSString *text = [NSString stringWithContentsOfFile:[MultiDialog presentOpenDialog]];    
    [self setText:text];
}

-(void)btnSave_Clicked
{
    NSString *filename = [MultiDialog presentSaveDialog];
    NSString *text = [self getText];
        
    NSError *error;
    BOOL succeed = [text writeToFile:filename atomically:YES encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding error:&error];

    if(!succeed)
    {
        NSLog(@"%@:%s Error saving: %@", [self class], _cmd, [error localizedDescription]);
    }
}

And there you have it a very simple text editor that lets you open text file and save them. You can find the full source for this application under the examples directory of the CoreGTK github repository.

 

This post originally appeared on my website here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: Open Source Software, Tyler B Tags:

hpr1913 :: Help us take The Linux Experiment to the next level!

December 2nd, 2015 No comments

Hacker Public Radio (HPR) is a podcast that releases shows every weekday Monday through Friday. What differentiates HPR from other podcasts is that the shows are produced by the community. This episode, titled “The Linux Experiment” was released on Wednesday December 2nd 2015.

To subscribe to the podcast add the feed here or listen to this episode by clicking here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Listener Feedback podcast episode 48: Boom Boom Beckett – Boom Boom Baby

November 29th, 2015 No comments

Listener Feedback podcast is a royalty free and Creative Commons music podcast. This episode, titled “Episode 48: Full Album – Boom Boom Beckett – Boom Boom Baby” was released on Sunday November 29th, 2015. To suggest artists and albums that should be featured you can send an e-mail to contact@listenerfeedback.net or message @LFpodcast on Twitter.

To subscribe to the podcast add the feed here or listen to this episode by clicking here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: Podcast, Tyler B Tags:

Linux alternatives: Mp3tag → puddletag

November 28th, 2015 No comments

Way back when I first made my full-time switch to Linux I made a post about an alternative to the excellent Mp3tag software on Windows. At the time I suggested a program called EasyTAG and while that is still a good program I’ve recently come across one that I think I may actually like more: puddletag.

A screenshot of puddletag from their website

A screenshot of puddletag from their website

While it is very similar to EasyTAG I find puddletag’s layout a bit easier to navigate and use.

This post originally appeared on my personal website here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Big distributions, little RAM 9

November 28th, 2015 2 comments

It’s been a while but once again here is the latest instalment of the series of posts where I install the major, full desktop, distributions into a limited hardware machine and report on how they perform. Once again, and like before, I’ve decided to re-run my previous tests this time using the following distributions:

  • Debian 8.2 (Cinnamon)
  • Debian 8.2 (GNOME)
  • Debian 8.2 (KDE)
  • Debian 8.2 (MATE)
  • Debian 8.2 (Xfce)
  • Elementary OS 0.3.1 (Freya)
  • Kubuntu 15.10 (KDE)
  • Linux Mint 17.2 (Cinnamon)
  • Linux Mint 17.2 (MATE)
  • Linux Mint 17.2 (Xfce)
  • Mageia 5 (GNOME)
  • Mageia 5 (KDE)
  • Ubuntu 15.10 (Unity)
  • Xubuntu 15.10 (Xfce)

I also attempted to try and install Fedora 23, Linux Mint 17.2 (KDE) and OpenSUSE 42.1 but none of them were able to complete installation.

All of the tests were done within VirtualBox on ‘machines’ with the following specifications:

  • Total RAM: 512MB
  • Hard drive: 10GB
  • CPU type: x86 with PAE/NX
  • Graphics: 3D Acceleration enabled

The tests were all done using VirtualBox 5, and I did not install VirtualBox tools (although some distributions may have shipped with them). I also left the screen resolution at the default (whatever the distribution chose) and accepted the installation defaults. All tests were run prior to December 2015 so your results may not be identical.

Results

Just as before I have compiled a series of bar graphs to show you how each installation stacks up against one another. Measurements were taken using the free -m command for memory and the df -h command for disk usage.

Like before I have provided the results file as a download so you can see exactly what the numbers were or create your own custom comparisons (see below for link).

Things to know before looking at the graphs

First off if your distribution of choice didn’t appear in the list above its probably not reasonably possible to be installed (i.e. I don’t have hours to compile Gentoo) or I didn’t feel it was mainstream enough (pretty much anything with LXDE). As always feel free to run your own tests and link them in the comments for everyone to see.

Quick Info

  • Out of the Cinnamon desktops tested Debian 8.2 had the lowest memory footprint
  • Out of the GNOME desktops tested Mageia 5 had the lowest memory footprint
  • Out of the KDE desktops tested Mageia 5 had the lowest memory footprint
  • Out of the Xfce desktops tested Debian 8.2 had the lowest memory footprint
  • Out of the MATE desktops tested Debian 8.2 had the lowest memory footprint
  • Elementary OS 0.3.1 had the highest memory footprint of those tested
  • Debian 8.2 Xfce and MATE tied for the lowest memory footprint of those tested
  • Debian 8.2 Xfce had the lowest install size of those tested
  • Kubuntu 15.10 had the largest install size of those tested
  • Elementary OS 0.3.1 had the lowest change after updates (+2MiB)
  • Mageia 5 KDE had the largest change after updates (-265MiB)

First boot memory (RAM) usage

This test was measured on the first startup after finishing a fresh install.

big_distro_little_ram_9_first_boot_memory_usageMemory (RAM) usage after updates

This test was performed after all updates were installed and a reboot was performed.

big_distro_little_ram_9_memory_usage_after_updatesMemory (RAM) usage change after updates

The net growth or decline in RAM usage after applying all of the updates.

big_distro_little_ram_9_memory_usage_change_after_updatesInstall size after updates

The hard drive space used by the distribution after applying all of the updates.

big_distro_little_ram_9_install_sizeConclusion

Once again I will leave the conclusions to you. Source data provided below.

Source Data




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Distro hopping: feeling good with my time on LXLE

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

Well the time has come to officially switch off from LXLE. This time around however I find myself in a weird spot. I’ve honestly struggled with LXLE; not in using the distribution itself but rather coming up with things to write about it. That isn’t to say that LXLE is bad by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it is quite good, it’s just that once you get used to the light weight desktop environment (DE) there is a perfectly capable “heavy weight” distribution underneath. What I mean by this is that once you get used to the DE and it fades into the background you’re left with a perfectly functional distribution that could just as easily have been Ubuntu or Linux Mint or Fedora or {insert your favourite one here}.

Due to this strength I didn’t find myself struggling to make things work or figure out new ways to accomplish the things I needed to do… things were pretty much where I expected them to be… and that’s a great thing! It means that if you want to run a distribution that will be somewhat lighter on your system but you don’t want to scrimp on the applications you need to get work done then LXLE may just be for you.

The desktop

The desktop

Pros:

  • One of the few distributions that uses the light weight LXDE environment
  • Very low system resources (my machine took less than 400MiB of RAM after logging into the desktop!)
  • Just because it is a light weight distribution doesn’t mean it gives you less featured alternative applications
  • Boring… but in a good way! The distribution gets out of your way and lets you get work done!

Cons:

  • Still a couple of little bugs that seem like obvious things that would be caught if it had a larger user base
  • Ships with a load of applications, the majority of which most people probably won’t use day-to-day (maybe they could save some space instead?)
  • Boring… other than the desktop environment there isn’t anything overly unique to this distribution. Seems like you could just install LXDE on top of Ubuntu and get the same thing.

Other:

  • How awesome is the desktop background changer button right in the tool bar? I mean at first I thought it was a ridiculous waste of space but now I’m addicted to changing my desktop wallpaper with the push of a button.

Be sure to check back here soon to find out where I land next!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: LXLE, Tyler B Tags: ,

Distro hopping: adding a podcast in Guayadeque on LXLE

November 15th, 2015 No comments

I have to admit that I hadn’t even heard of Guayadeque until starting this little distro hopping adventure but since then I’ve found it to be the default music player in more than one distribution. As such I’ve decided to try and use it to see if it will work better for me instead of the usual alternatives.

Seeing as I’m a big fan of podcasts I’ve decided to see how Guayadeque handles the process of adding and listening to my feeds.

Start Guayadeque and click the Podcasts tab

Step 1

Step 1

Right click under the Channels column and click New Channel

You can add feeds directly from the podcast directory or from feed URLs

You can add feeds directly from the podcast directory or from feed URLs

If for some reason you can’t find your podcast in their existing directory you can simply find the podcast RSS feed and plug it into the Url text box instead.

For example let’s say I wanted to add the feed for Listener Feedback podcast. Unfortunately it isn’t already listed in the built-in directory but there are a few handy feeds that I found on the website here (there is even an Ogg Vorbis feed for higher quality). Once pasted in Guayadeque was able to find the podcast details right away:

Some handy settings are available

Some handy settings are available

Download and play

A short download later and the podcast is ready to be played!

Playing away

Playing away

So all told it’s a relatively painless to add a podcast to Guayadeque. My one issues with the user interface are that it feels a bit dated and seems to require a lot of right-clicking and context menus which may not be immediately obvious for some users. That said they’re very minor complaints and it is still a very functional application.

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Listener Feedback podcast episode 47: LukHash – The Other Side

November 14th, 2015 No comments

Listener Feedback podcast is a royalty free and Creative Commons music podcast. This episode, titled “Episode 47: Full Album – LukHash – The Other Side” was released on Saturday November 14th, 2015. To suggest artists and albums that should be featured you can send an e-mail to contact@listenerfeedback.net or message @LFpodcast on Twitter.

To subscribe to the podcast add the feed here or listen to this episode by clicking here.




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Distro hopping: slimming down with LXLE

November 8th, 2015 1 comment

Now that my time with BSD has come to an end I thought I should jump back into Linux via a distribution I had never even heard of before (just to keep things interesting!). DistroWatch is an excellent source for finding different, unique and of course obscure distributions but I was surprised to find one in the top 10 that I had never even heard of before: LXLE.

LXLE on the DistroWatch top 10

LXLE on the DistroWatch top 10

So what exactly is LXLE? Well according to their website:

LXLE is based on Lubuntu which is an Ubuntu OS using the LXDE desktop environment. It is designed to be a drop-in and go OS, primarily for aging computers. Its intention is to be able to install it on any computer and be relatively done after install. At times removing unwanted programs or features is easier than configuring for a day. Our distro follows the same LTS schedule as Ubuntu. In short, LXLE is an eclectic respin of Lubuntu with its own user support.

After a quick install I am now running on LXLE!

The desktop

The desktop

Let’s take a quick walk through of what comes with this light weight distribution.

To browse your files it comes with the slim PCManFM:

PCManFM

PCManFM

Unfortunately it is also where I ran into my first issue with the distribution. The default user name in the installer was “qwerty” but somehow this survived, even though I replaced it with my own name, in the quick Places links along the left-hand side of the window. They still pointed to non-existent locations based on this default user name.

That's... not right...

That’s… not right…

Seamonkey suite is used for most basic Internet functionality including web browsing, e-mail, FTP, IRC, etc.

Seamonkey

Seamonkey web browser

Other interesting inclusions are anti-virus scanner ClamTk, password manager KeePassX, open source BitTorrent Sync alternative Syncthing, instant messenger Pidgin, Tox client uTox, music editor Audacity, music player Guayadeque, a load of games and many, many more utilities.

ClamTk, for all your virus scanning needs

ClamTk, for all your virus scanning needs

For a distribution that prides itself on being light weight it sure does ship with a lot of software! Like the others I’ll be playing around with LXLE over the next couple of days and post my thoughts and experiences here.

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: LXLE, Tyler B Tags: ,

KWLUG: Sound in Linux (2015-11)

November 5th, 2015 No comments

This is a podcast presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of Sound in Linux published on November 5th 2015. You can find the original Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group post here.

Read more…




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: Linux, Podcast, Tyler B Tags: , ,

Distro hopping: shutting down PC-BSD

October 14th, 2015 2 comments

Like the other distros before it the time has come for me to move on from PC-BSD. This has been an interesting experience as it is really my first time working with BSD up to this point.

Welcome to your PC-BSD desktop

Welcome to your PC-BSD desktop

Pros:

  • Neat standard technologies (like ZFS, file system compression, jails, etc.).
  • Really not that different from Linux so it feels very familiar.
  • Good software selection for the most part, although it could be more clear as to what the differences between some versions are. Common software makes it easy to jump between PC-BSD and other operating systems.

Cons:

  • Weirdly AppCafe which is designed to make installing software easier gave me a lot of problems. Sometimes clicking install wouldn’t actually install anything. Other times there would be errors but redoing the same process a second time would make it work. Once I somehow initiated a system update while trying to install a program and it wasn’t very clear what was happening or how much longer it would take before I could continue.
  • Konqueror is unnecessary with Firefox installed by default and often times doesn’t even work well. This is especially odd because I haven’t had as many problems using Konqueror in the past on Linux so the problems may be unique to PC-BSD.
  • I know this will likely start a religious debate but from a practical day-to-day desktop user perspective I’m not quite sure what would draw someone to using PC-BSD over Linux. That isn’t to say PC-BSD is bad or even lacking but with the much larger software library and support for Linux and very little differences between the two it seems like a no brainer to stay with Linux.

Other:

  • How come PC-BSD uses /usr/home/{account}? It still requires a link from /home/{account} (I assume for compatibility) so why not just keep it all under /home?

Where will I distro hop to next? Stay tuned!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: PC-BSD, Tyler B Tags: , ,

Distro hopping: installing Plex Media Server and Home Theater on PC-BSD

October 10th, 2015 No comments

Back when I was using elementary OS I made a post on how to install Plex Home Theater on Linux. While Plex officially supports Linux in most cases it did not for Home Theater but that thankfully didn’t stop me from getting it working. When it comes to PC-BSD things get a little more complicated. The only BSD download that Plex officially supports is Plex Media Server and even then only for FreeBSD. As I’m not overly familiar with BSD yet I’m not sure if I can just use that download on PC-BSD or not.

A search through the AppCafe

Thankfully PC-BSD comes with this nice application called AppCafe that is basically a big repository of software (like an app store). Searching for Plex in there finds Plex Media Server:

AppCafe

AppCafe

However if I check the box that says “Search all available PBIs and packages” then not only do I get a newer version of Plex Media Server but also Plex Home Theater as well.

Even more options!

Even more options!

The newer version of Plex Media Server was called ‘Plex Media Server – Plex Pass’ and as I don’t have a Plex Pass I chose to just install the slightly older version instead. Maybe this is the beta channel download or something? Anyway the install went well and Plex Media Server was good to go. One odd thing I did notice was that the local Plex management website wouldn’t fully load in Konqueror for some reason, only in Firefox…

Plex would only load in Firefox for some reason...

Plex would only load in Firefox for some reason…

Installing Plex Home Theater was a similar experience. I simply grabbed it from the AppCafe and away it went.

Because who doesn't love Big Buck Bunny?

Because who doesn’t love Big Buck Bunny?

So all told it really wasn’t that different of an experience installing Plex Media Server and Home Theater in PC-BSD compared to elementary OS. This mirrors what I’ve seen elsewhere in PC-BSD during my time with it as well. Basically as a long time Linux user I must say that so far BSD really isn’t that much different in day-to-day operations.

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: PC-BSD, Tyler B Tags: , ,

KWLUG: File Synchronization (2015-10)

October 10th, 2015 No comments

This is a podcast presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of File Synchronization published on October 5th 2015. You can find the original Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group post here.

Read more…




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Distro hopping: so what comes with PC-BSD?

October 6th, 2015 No comments

In my previous post I talked about the differences between Linux and BSD and quickly showed the installation process. Now I will go through what comes with a default install of PC-BSD.

Just like Manjaro, for some reason PC-BSD ships with a number of development utilities including tools for Qt interface builders. It also comes with something called Easy PBI. I have no idea what a PBI is but apparently it’s easy to make one!

EasyPBI

EasyPBI

Interestingly the next two on the list didn’t even start when I tried to launch them… The first was Marble which claims to show a globe (again I can’t confirm that), and the second is AMOR which might be a game?

The graphics menu is full of little utilities but the real heavy weight there is the venerable GIMP.

For browsers PC-BSD comes with both Firefox and Konqueror. This is likely due to Konqueror being a big part of KDE but it still feels like an unnecessary addition that could confuse new users. Even weirder Konqueror is the set as the default which I guess actually makes Firefox the odd inclusion… very confusing indeed.

Two browsers for the low, low price of FREE!

Two browsers for the low, low price of FREE!

For media playback it also comes with two options in the form of VLC and SMPlayer. Again I’m not quite sure why both are included in the default install as each would have been a decent choice in their own right.

You also have your choice of default media players

You also have your choice of default media players

Beyond the major applications PC-BSD comes loaded with Adobe Flash saving you an install as well as a number of additional utilities. I’m not sure why it doesn’t come with an office suite by default like most Linux distributions but I suppose that’s not a huge deal.

So there you have it. A quick walk through of what comes with PC-BSD by default. Check back soon for my ongoing adventures in the world of BSD!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: PC-BSD, Tyler B Tags: ,

Distro hopping: a Linux user tries PC-BSD

October 6th, 2015 No comments

That’s right, the next hop on the great distro hopping experiment of 2015 is not a Linux distribution at all but a BSD instead! While some of us have briefly used BSD on The Linux Experiment before, including PC-BSD, I personally have not and so this is a bit of a new experience for me. I’m looking forward to seeing what the differences are and if I end up preferring one over the other but first what exactly are the technical differences between the two?

If you would like a full list of differences I would highly recommend checking out the following excellent links from which I will summarize below.

  • Different kernels
    • Linux distributions start by using a version of the (shocker!) Linux kernel whereas each BSD maintains their own BSD kernel.
    • While the distinction is largely a technical one the other main difference is that while Linux is worked on by many people it is Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, who maintains control over the direction of the project. For BSD each project team maintains their own control, although within each project there is usually a small group or single individual who has last say as well.
  • Linux is just a kernel
    • As mentioned above Linux is actually just a kernel, thus that whole GNU/Linux thing. BSD projects on the other hand maintain all software in one place, including things like the applications (Firefox, KDE, etc) as well. That doesn’t mean that BSD projects create all of that software mind you so the differences again are largely minor.
  • Different software licenses
    • Linux is released under the GNU General Public License while BSD is released under the BSD License. The major difference between the two are that if you make a change to Linux you must make the source code for that change available upon request and it must also be licensed under the GNU GPL. The BSD license on the other hand has no requirement for you to make your changes available to the public.
  • Not compatible with each other (well… sort of)
    • While Linux and BSD software are compiled differently and technically incompatible many BSDs come with libraries that can run Linux programs almost natively making the difference (at least in that direction) somewhat moot.

Without further ado I give you a walk through of the install process for those who are interested in seeing how it may differ from a standard Linux install.

Welcome to the graphical installer for PC-BSD

Welcome to the graphical installer for PC-BSD

On the first screen you get to choose the type of install (i.e. Desktop or Server) as well as customize the additional software you want to install. PC-BSD uses KDE by default which should provide some familiarity.

System Selection

System Selection

By default PC-BSD uses the ZFS file system and appears to enable compression on a number of directories which may not be unique in the BSD world but is certainly something new for a Linux user.

Default disk layout

Default disk layout

Here is one thing all operating systems have in common: loading bars…

Installing the system

Installing the system

A quick reboot and some minor user configuration later we get to log into our desktop.

A pretty basic login screen but not the worst I've ever seen

A pretty basic login screen but not the worst I’ve ever seen

Welcome to your PC-BSD desktop

Welcome to your PC-BSD desktop

In my next post I’ll go through the default applications that come with PC-BSD and provide my initial thoughts on using it.

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I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: PC-BSD, Tyler B Tags: ,

Distro hopping: curtains for Manjaro Linux

September 29th, 2015 1 comment

The time has come to wrap things up with Manjaro and hop on to the next distribution to try out. So here are some final thoughts on my short time with Manjaro Linux.

Manjaro has a very nice theme

Manjaro has a very nice theme

Pros:

Cons:

  • …at times also a completely bizzare collection of default software. Qt4 Designer? Sensor Viewer? These seem like things that could probably just be added by users who want them after the fact instead of being default software.
  • Just like what Chakra did for Gentoo, I’m not exactly sure where Manjaro wants to sit. Is it a polished distribution for new/average users? Is it a power users dream come true? Neither is really quite right…

Other:

  • Why isn’t Manjaro a more popular distribution? It seems like it should be.

manjaro_welcome

Come back soon to find out what’s next!

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I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: Manjaro Linux, Tyler B Tags:

Distro hopping: adventures in installing software from the AUR (from within Manjaro)

September 27th, 2015 No comments

Manjaro Linux allows you to take advantage of its Arch Linux background and search for software from within the Arch User Repository (AUR). This is a collection of community maintained source code packages that are built and installed on your system (instead of being downloaded as pre-built binaries). Historically this has been a good solution for getting more niche software or just the latest version of a particular piece of software. Plus it lets you feel all l337 as you watch the terminal scroll through the compilation process like you are part of The Matrix.

Using the AUR in Manjaro

If you want to make use of the AUR in Manjaro you can but you should know that doing so can also cause problems on your system. These are not officially maintained or supported installations and so any number of things can go wrong as a result. Because of that the AUR is disabled by default so in order to enable it simply open the Package Manager application and enter the preferences window.

Before enabling the AUR these are the officially supported packages available

Before enabling the AUR these are the officially supported packages available

 

Enable AUR support

Enable AUR support in this menu

Once enabled you can choose to search in the AUR and doing so often shows additional results.

More results with AUR

More results with AUR!

If you choose one of the packages from the AUR (usually ending in -svn) it will kick off an interactive terminal where you have to OK various parts of the build process. I believe there is an option under preferences to turn this off should you wish to do so.

Downloading source, compiling package, installing...

Downloading source, compiling package, installing…

Huzzah! You’ve successfully compiled a program out of the Arch User Repository! Now you can go on your merry way doing whatever it was you wanted to do!

Once finished installing you can use the software just like anything else you've installed on your system

Once finished installing you can use the software just like anything else you’ve installed on your system

Conclusion

The Arch User Repository provides a nice addition to the regular officially supported repository that makes it much easier to find, download and install extra software packages from source rather than you having to track them down yourself. While there are some risks involved, many people swear by the AUR and so in general it should be relatively safe to use.

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I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).

Distro hopping: round two with Manjaro Linux

September 23rd, 2015 No comments

While looking around for different distributions to try I stumbled across Manjaro Linux and having never used it before decided that this should be the second stop in the great distro hopping experiment of 2015! I downloaded the Xfce version, as that seems to take priority placement on their website, and got to work installing. The installer reminded me of an interesting hybrid between what I had seen in OpenSUSE way back and what you can find in something like Ubuntu or Linux Mint these days. Overall it was a nice, straight forward install and actually had some cool power user options (encryption, placing home directory on different volume, etc.) as well.

The default desktop

The default desktop

Never having used Manjaro before I have to say that, at least with the Xfce version, this is a polished and snappy distribution. It reminds me quite a bit of what you would find with Linux Mint Cinnamon only much faster. Reading the About page on their website seems to confirm this thought as it presents itself in comparison to Arch Linux as the Linux Mint of Ubuntus or perhaps the elementary OS of Linuxes:

Manjaro is a user-friendly GNU/Linux distribution based on the independently 
developed Arch Linux. Within the Linux community, Arch itself is renowned 
for being an exceptionally fast, powerful and lightweight distribution that 
provides access to the very latest cutting-edge software.

However, Arch is also traditionally aimed at more experienced or 
technically-minded users. As such, it is generally considered to be beyond 
the reach of many, especially those who lack the technical expertise (or 
persistence) required to use it.

For newcomers, a user-friendly installer is provided, and the system itself 
is designed to work fully “straight out of the box”...
Thunar the file manager

Thunar the file manager

So what comes with Manjaro you ask? Well I’m glad you asked! For Browser and E-mail it uses Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird respectively. These are solid applications and my standard go-tos as well. It also includes quite a few utilities like a bulk file renamer and sensor viewer for power users.

View all the sensors!

View all the sensors!

Interestingly it also comes pre-loaded wth some Qt development tools for some reason. I’m not sure why this is included by default but… there you go. Cooler than that though is that it comes with Steam already installed so you can jump right into your games as quickly as possible.

For music it comes with the Guayadeque Music Player which is an application I’ve never even heard of before. I’ll have to dig into this one a bit more before I can give my impressions on it but for now have a screenshot!

A screenshot!

A screenshot!

VLC rounds out the rest of the multimedia applications which is a solid choice.

Unlike some other distributions, Manjaro comes packed with options and settings for configuring it however you’d like. It also ships with a graphical kernel configuration and installation screen which I believe is the first of its kind that I’ve ever seen at least.

So many kernels!

So many kernels!

I’m looking forward to playing around with Manjaro in the coming days but so far I must admit that I’m impressed, especially considering I had never even heard of this distribution until this week. Check back for my continued updates on my experiences with Manjaro.

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I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 18.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Categories: Manjaro Linux, Tyler B Tags: