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Enter the Void! First impressions of Void Linux

January 23rd, 2016 No comments
Void Linux

Void Linux

While Gentoo is a great way to spin your own flavour of Linux, after a year I’ve found that recompiling packages every time you do an update becomes a bit of a drag. With that in mind I decided to look around for an alternative distribution, and while nothing is 100% perfect I have to say I really am very happy with Void Linux. There are a number of “live” iso images which will happily boot from a USB stick, I only looked at two of the images Cinnamon and Xfce, while Cinnamon was all very pretty and all that, I couldn’t get the audio volume widget to show itself and besides I didn’t see any real advantage. I’ve long been a fan of Xfce basically because of what it doesn’t try to do, you don’t get the kitchen sink (thankfully) but what you do get works solidly.

Now its entirely possible that I missed something obvious with the void_installer script but it has two distinct behaviours depending on what installation source you choose. If you choose to install from the internet what you get is a bare minimum of packages (command line only) and you’ll be left with a fair bit of configuration to do for yourself – this isn’t always a bad thing if for example you have some specific use maybe an embedded kiosk for example. For more usual desktop use, its better to choose the installation media itself as the source, this basically copies and configures the “live” image onto your machine. I did find that after an update I had to manually delete the old kernel, but once I did that and a few more of the usual chores one normally expects when installing a new system – (eventually after correctly using the installer!) I found myself in possession of a really nice system.

Void is a sleek system, obviously well engineered and the best thing has to be the package manager – xbps comprises in a small suite of interrelated console applications, which do just one narrow function each, for example given the choice of xbps-install, xbps-query, xbps-remove etc you can make a good guess at what they do. As you’d expect each xbps app if run without parameters gives you a quick run down of commands and parameters. One thing I did notice with xbps is its fast, and no mistake! There is a graphical package manager too (octoxbps) which is both familiar but refreshingly slightly different (and not just for the sake of it either) I didn’t manage to find an update reminder but the xbps tools are easy to work with and I was able to make a simple script to do a dry run update (so nothing’s changed) from this I can infer the number of updates that need to be done.

#!/bin/bash
n=`xbps-install -Snu | wc -l`
if [ $n -gt 0 ]
 then
 if [ $n -eq 1 ]
 then
 m="there is a system update to do"
 else
 m="there are $n system updates to do"
 fi
 zenity --info --text="$m"
 fi

I auto run this when the desktop environment starts, keeping package information synced and warning me of updates – this will be most useful when installed on machines that I maintain for others who let us say just need a gentle reminder about updates…

Of course everything was going far too well (spoiling my fun! just working like that) the only one big issue I had was with steam, but the Void forum soon came to my aid with a work around, a particular version of the Xorg driver for Intel gpu’s was causing some kind of networking issue (of all things) I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say its working with a “little” persuasion!

I did notice pulse audio is installed by default, which seemed a little odd as I’m not sure it provides a great deal for the extra overhead, uninstalling pulse audio doesn’t break anything and getting Alsa going is just a case of enabling the daemon in the alsa-utils package and adding the usual Alsa configuration (~/.asoundrc)

pcm.!default {
 type plug
 slave {
 pcm "hw:1,0"
 }
 }
 ctl.!default {
 type hw
 card 1
 }

I’ve since found a better way to configure ALSA – a quote from their website

Neither .asoundrc or /etc/asound.conf is normally required. You should be able to play and record sound without either (assuming your mic and speakers are hooked up properly). If your system won’t work without one, and you are running the most current version of ALSA, you probably should file a bug report.

That said it did assume the HDMI output was the default so an even simpler config for the kernel module itself allowed me to disable HDMI sound which I have no use for…

/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf 

options snd_hda_intel enable=1 index=0
options snd_hda_intel enable=0 index=1

Your system might differ but its not really a problem, its just nice there are no enforced and/or needless package dependencies like there are with some other distributions.

Further testing centred on Java development, I knew if I was going to hit any major show stoppers that Jgles2 (with its multiple build systems) would likely show up issues. Not unusually for Void, Ant’s package was bang up to date (wish I could say the same of Gentoo – as at the time of writing Ant is languishing at version 1.9.2 which isn’t enough to compile Lwjgl….) installing g++, make and pkg-config had the complete build system for Jgles2 working as I’d expect.

While its still early days, and its not impossible I could find some wrinkles – all in all so far Void seems a positive experience and well worth considering.

Introducing Chris C, our occasional guest writer.
This article was originally published at his personal website here.

Categories: Chris C, Linux Tags:

KWLUG: Mageia Linux, Tax Software (2016-01)

January 12th, 2016 No comments

This is a podcast presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of Mageia Linux, Tax Software published on January 5th 2016. 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 17.
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: ,

KWLUG: GNU Social (2015-12)

January 12th, 2016 No comments

This is a podcast presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of GNU Social published on December 8th 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 17.
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: ,

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 17.
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 No 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 17.
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 17.
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 17.
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 17.
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 17.
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: , ,

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 17.
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: 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!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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.

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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.

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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: Finishing up with elementary OS

September 21st, 2015 No comments

I’ve been using elementary OS since I started this little distro hopping adventure and while I have enjoyed my time with this sleek and speedy distribution it is time to move on to the next one. Before completely jumping ship however I would like to just put together some of my brief thoughts on how elementary OS worked for me as a day-to-day operating system.

Pros:

  • Very beautiful: If you ever need to show off what Linux can look like given some spit shine and polish this is the distribution to show.
  • Very fast: Applications load quickly, and you can easily jump between them almost instantly.
  • Very easy to use: Many applications have nice default settings that should work for the majority of users.
Showing off the Applications Menu

Showing off the Applications Menu

Cons:

  • Weird defaults: Why is Midori the default browser? I understand that it might be about looks but it is not mature enough yet and can give a seriously negative impression of the distribution as a whole when it won’t stop crashing.
  • Terrible application names: Music? Videos? Photos? Really? You know how hard it was to write a post about how to import music into Music from your music folder so you can listen to music? Ugh..
  • Not enough customization or power user settings: There is certainly something to be said for streamlined applications with good defaults but once you’re familiar with your system you’ll start to want to tweak things to your liking and sadly elementary OS just doesn’t have a lot of options to do this.
It looks like there are a lot of settings... but that's a trick!

It looks like there are a lot of settings… but that’s a trick!

Other:

  • Why does almost every application try to remember where I was last?
  • Why is there no minimize button by default?
I understand that a minimize button isn't really required but it can be confusing for new users.

I understand that a minimize button isn’t really required but it can be confusing for new users.

Check back soon to see where I end up next!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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: elementary OS, Tyler B Tags:

Distro hopping: Import music stored on NAS into Music

September 19th, 2015 No comments

So you’re running elementary OS and want to access the music files you have stored on a Network-attached-storage device within the Music program. Unfortunately while you can easily browse the network and find these files you can’t do so within Music. Luckily there is a solution to this problem! Borrowing heavily from a previous post this will walk you through how to set up a persistent media folder on your computer that will ‘point’ to the music directory on your NAS.

Step 1) Open up a terminal

Now wasn't that easy?

Now wasn’t that easy?

Step 2) Install the required software

For the purpose of this post I’m going to assume the NAS is presenting a Windows file share so we’ll need the software to be able to make use of it. Simply run the following command to install the needed software:

sudo apt-get install cifs-utils
Installing some software!

Installing some software!

Step 3) Create a location for where you want the media to appear

If this is just going to be used for your user account you can simply create a new folder in your home folder. For example create a new folder under the Music folder called “NAS”. However if we want multiple users to be able to access this then you’ll want to put it somewhere else (for example /media/NAS).

For my example I'm just going to put it under a new NAS folder inside of my Music folder

For my example I’m just going to put it under a new NAS folder inside of my Music folder

Step 4) Edit the fstab file and add the share(s) so that they auto connect on startup

So basically there is a file on your computer called fstab that contains information about all of the hard drives and mounts that the computer should create on boot. To make it so our new NAS folder points to the actual NAS directory we’re going to add a new line to this file telling our computer to do just that. Start by using your terminal and opening that file in an editor. You can use a terminal editor like nano or even a graphical one like Scratch.

To use the terminal editor nano run the following command:

sudo nano /etc/fstab
fstab in nano

fstab open in nano

To use the graphical editor Scratch run the following command:

sudo scratch-text-editor /etc/fstab
fstab open in Scratch

fstab open in Scratch

On a new line add the following (modifying it according to your system). Note that this should be a single line even though it may appear broken up over multiple lines here:

//<path to server>/<share name>  <path to local directory>  cifs  
guest,uid=<user id to mount files as>,iocharset=utf8  0  0

Breaking it down a little bit:

  • <path to server>: This is the network name or IP address of the computer hosting the share (in my case the NAS). For example it could be something like “192.168.1.123” or something like “MyNas”
  • <share name>: This is the name of the share on that computer. For example I set up my NAS to share different directories one of which was called “Files”
  • <path to local directory>: This is where you want the remote files to appear locally. For example if you want them to appear in a folder under your Music directory you could do something like “/home/tyler/Music/NAS”. Just make sure that the directory exists (that’s why we created it above :)).
  • <user id to mount files as>: This defines the permissions to give the files. On elementary OS (as well as other Ubuntu distributions) the first user you create is usually given uid 1000 so you could put “1000” here. To find out the uid of any random user use the command “id <user>” in the terminal without quotes.

As an example the line I added for my example configuration here was:

//192.168.3.25/Files  /home/tyler/Music/NAS  cifs  
guest,uid=1000,iocharset=utf8  0  0

Now save the file.

Step 5) Test that it worked

Finally in the terminal we’re going to run command to actually test it:

sudo mount -a

This will do essentially the same thing that happens when your computer first boots so if this works it should work the next time you restart as well. If you don’t get any errors then congratulations it should have all worked! You can verify by now opening up your NAS folder and confirming that it shows the contents of your actual NAS directory.

We have music!

We have music!

Step 6) Import the music into Music

Now that we have the NAS music showing up in a local folder the Music application will be able to add it no problem. Simply open up Music and use the import option to import the music from your folder (in my case ~/Music/NAS).

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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).

KWLUG: Swapping Laptop Drives, Helping New Users (2015-09)

September 19th, 2015 No comments

This is a podcast presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of Swapping Laptop Drives, Helping New Users published on September 14th 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 17.
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: , ,

KWLUG: git (2015-08)

September 18th, 2015 No comments

This is a podcast and video presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of git published on August 10th 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 17.
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: , ,

KWLUG: Docker (2015-02)

September 18th, 2015 No comments

This is a podcast and video presentation from the Kitchener Waterloo Linux Users Group on the topic of Docker published on February 2nd 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 17.
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: how to install Plex Home Theater on elementary OS

September 15th, 2015 No comments

Plex is great. It is a very easy to use cross-platform program that lets you view and watch your own personal media almost anywhere. The main component is the Plex Media Server which actually hosts and provides the media but they have another program that offers a very nice interface to browse and view these files called the Plex Home Theater. Unfortunately while they have builds for Windows and OS X there are currently no such officially supported versions for linux. Thankfully the community has stepped in and provided the means to get this running on your distribution of choice. This post will show how to install it on elementary OS (or any other Ubuntu based distributions).

Visiting this page you can see that there are instructions for different distributions. As elementary OS is derivative of Ubuntu we’ll use that provided repository to install the program. The first step is to open a terminal and run the following command:

 sudo apt-add-repository ppa:plexapp/plexht

This will add the community repository to your system so that you can find and install the program normally. Next you just need to run the update command to re-sync with the repositories and then the install command to actually install the program:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install plexhometheater

Once the command finishes Plex Home Theater should be successfully installed.

Plex!

Plex!

Have fun watching your movies!

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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: tweaking elementary OS

September 13th, 2015 No comments

So from my last post you’ll know that I ran into a couple of issues that I’ve since been able to address.

Default browser Midori crashes

I don’t know what it is but Midori is very crash happy on my installation. It would even crash on google.com so you know something is wrong. So even though my goal was to use the distribution defaults I simply couldn’t continue that way. Instead I installed Chromium from the software centre and that seems to have worked out well.

Turning remember last place on and off

One thing that wasn’t really an issue but more of something I had to get used to was that most applications in elementary OS seem to be configured to remember where they left off. This includes things like the file manager application which I found a bit weird. Thankfully there is a way, albeit not overly straight forward, to change this behaviour.

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Install dconf-editor by typing (without quotes) “sudo apt-get install dconf-editor”
  3. Run dconf-editor from the terminal or open it via the Applications menu
  4. Expand the tree and uncheck restore tabs: org -> pantheon -> files -> preferences -> restore tabs
    • Alternatively you can run the following command in the terminal: gsettings set org.pantheon.files.preferences restore-tabs false
Changing settings with dconf editor

Changing settings with dconf editor

Add minimize button

Similarly by default the only way to minimize a window in elementary OS is to click the icon in the dock. You can change this behaviour if you’d like by modifying a different setting in dconf editor.

  1. Expand the tree and modify button-layout: org -> pantheon -> desktop -> gala -> appearance -> button-layout
  2. Add “minimize” to where you want the button to appear. For example changing it to “close:minimize,maximize” will add a minimize button to the left of the maximize button on the right hand side of the window.
Now with a minimize button!

Now with a minimize button!

 

That’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully someone else finds these useful for their own elementary OS installations.

This post is part of a series:




I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint 17.
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).