October 5

Fixing Pidgin’s Missing System Tray in Linux+Cinnamon

I love using Pidgin for… well, pretty much all my IM’ing needs.  And I’ve come to depend on the little icon in the system tray to show me what’s going on.

For a long time, though, the icon has only sporadically worked.  To “fix” it, I killed & restarted it a bunch of times until the icon finally showed (or until I finally gave up).

Well, here’s the real fix, from an old post I found:

As root (or via sudo):

root@laptop:~$ cd /usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor/
root@laptop:/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor$ mv 16x16/ _OLD_16x16
root@laptop:/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor$ ln -s 22x22 16x16
root@laptop:/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor$

Boom.

UPDATE [October 6th, 2015]: Halt the presses.  This doesn’t seem to work all the time, at least not on an alternative machine… I should have known not to publish based on a single success.

Category: Living With Linux | Comments Off on Fixing Pidgin’s Missing System Tray in Linux+Cinnamon
August 18

Solving the Puzzle

Sometimes a puzzle presents itself to you. Sometimes you’re aware of the puzzle, of it’s nature, and sometimes you just have this little… thing, this irritating little itch that you can’t seem to scratch.

Solving the puzzle can be straightforward.  The answer comes to you in a moment, in a flash of brilliance–or common sense–and then you move on.  But then there are those puzzles that take longer.  Hours.  Days.  Weeks.  Months.  Even years.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

I solved one of those puzzles.  It was a puzzle I’d been working on for years, one that I was only casually aware of, but it was really digging at my (crazed)sanity.

This particular puzzle was one whose nature was in programming.

“I’m not a programmer.  This is gonna suck.”

I won’t get into the details; hell, that would bore the crap out of me.  And I’m the one that’s excited about it.

With programming puzzles, you’re almost never sure if it’s truly complete.  With a real puzzle, you’re told straight out of the box that there’s 250 pieces and it’s 15″ x 15″.  With programming, it might be five pieces, and be 50′ x 50′.  Or it could be 50,000 pieces, but only be a few inches wide and a few feet long… it’s just impossible to know.  And when you get to a point where you think, “gosh, I think it’s done,” you realize there’s a whole bunch more pieces that suddenly showed up.

And the other thing is, sometimes there are pieces of the puzzle that you don’t even realize are pieces.  You hold onto this little bit of information, because you know it’s important, but it just doesn’t seem to have correlation… until all of a sudden, you go, “holy crap, this thing here hooks onto this other thing…”

Yep.  It’s like that.

Category: Code, Living With Linux, PHP, Rant, Software Development | Comments Off on Solving the Puzzle
March 9

Why I Just Can’t Get Stuff Done

It seems like I’m always chasing my tail.  I start doing one thing, and it spirals into all kinds of other things.

First, I start by working on a web application of mine.  I start up a browser, and I get notifications that I need to upgrade, that browser is no longer supported.

Fine.  I go to figure out how to get the newest version of that browser.

I could download the most current version, and install it into my home directory, or… of COURSE the other option is to install a newer version of Linux.  Because, why the hell would there be an easy way just to get a repository that lets me get updates for the most current version of Firefox (or Google Chrome, or whatever)?

Fine.  I go download the newest version of Linux.

Wait.  What do you mean, I’m running 32-bit?  I could be running 64-bit!  Things are so much better that way!

Uh-oh.  I can’t just do an upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit.  That doesn’t work.  It might not work to upgrade from 32-bit to 32-bit… ugh.

Fine.  But I’m not going to use up another DVD just to get a newer version of Linux.  That’s annoying, it makes the upgrade slower, and… ugh.

Fine.  Spend a few hours figuring out how to create a bootable USB drive.

What do you mean, the newest version of UNetBootin doesn’t support my USB drive?  I HAVE TO FIND AN OLDER VERSION?!?!

Fine.  Get the older version.

Hours and hours and hours later, with a bunch of errors, a wiped USB disk that doesn’t seem to mount anymore at all…

FINE.  I’ll burn the damned DVD.

Wait… if I do this, I have to wipe out my home directory.  That means I lose everything, and I’ve gotta go through this painfully long process of backing up and restoring that data… why don’t I put my home directory (/home) onto a different partition?  I’ve got an SSD (Solid State Drive), it should be crazy fast.  Do it.

FINE.  Figure out how to re-partition my drive.  Burn ANOTHER disc, with Gparted on it.

Wait.  Why can’t I eject my DVD drive?  I press the button and… nothing.

FINE.  Turn off the laptop, take out the screw that holds it in, and… WHAT?!?!? IT DOESN’T COME OUT?!?!?!

Hours go by.  Then days.  Finally, for no good reason whatsoever, the damned thing starts working again.  WTF.

FINE.  Burn Gparted.  Boot off it.  Resize the partition, should be simple.

Resize the drive, so there’s room for the home partition… wait for HOURS until it’s done.  I have NO IDEA WHY.  It’s a Solid State Drive.  It’s like FIFTEEN THOUSAND TIMES FASTER than the original drive.  And it’s acting like it’s fifteen thousand times SLOWER.

HOURS LATER, resize.  HOURS LATER, move.  HOURS LATER, resize again.  HOURS LATER, move something again… not sure why, it’s taken so long, I’ve almost forgotten WTF I’ve been doing this for.  Fix the fstab (file system tab) so it boots.  Reboot.

Hooray!  Now I’ve got a separate /home partition!  WOOT!

Fine.  Time to reinstall, now it won’t be too difficult.  Boot off the new, shiney, 64-bit Linux Mint disc.  Choose “something different” so I can have a separate root (“/”) and home (“/home”) partition.  Even though it takes a while because the DVD drive is slow (compared to a thumb drive install), I reboot and it’s the shiney new Linux…

WAIT!!! WHERE’S MY DATA?!?!

Oh.  I told it to keep my /home partition, but I forgot to tell it to actually boot up with that partition mounted to /home… right.  So, fix the fstab.  Reboot, delete the “/home” folder data from the old partition (being EXTREMELY CAREFUL not to wipe out my real data).  Reboot again.

HOORAY, I GOTS MY DATA!

Alright.  I’ve got my new version of Linux installed and… awww crap.  I have to go install all my old plugins and stuff, because that’s not stored in my home directory.  UGH.

What was I doing again?

Oh. RIGHT.  I was testing my web app.  Finally, got it tested, spotted an error, so I’ll go fire up my IDE to fix it.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I DON’T HAVE JAVA INSTALLED?!?!?

Category: Living With Linux, Rant | Comments Off on Why I Just Can’t Get Stuff Done
March 8

Choosing the Right Distribution

So one of the things you have to decide on when choosing Linux as your desktop OS is what distribution (or “distro”) to go with.  There’s a ton of options, but I’m not even going to get into it.  I’ve chosen Linux Mint, which is a Debian system based on Ubuntu.

The Choices

The real choice turns out to be a matter of the desktop window manager.  The main choices here are:

  • Gnome
  • KDE
  • XFCE
  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon and Gnome

Cinnamon and Gnome are pretty close to the same thing.  I used to use Gnome, but was frustrated when they decided to go away from having a system tray, which a lot of my favorite programs depend on.  After trying to get it to work again, I just went with Cinnamon.  Here’s a screenshot:

Linux Cinnamon Desktop

It has a lot of Windows elements: a standard desktop look with applications and files and shortcuts, a “start” menu, a clock and system tray.

KDE

Another option is KDE.  I used this one when I first switched from Windows, mostly because it was so close to what I was used to.

KDE

KDE is honestly pretty close to the look of Cinnamon.  I switched to Cinnamon because of how easy it was to use compared to KDE, and how much lighter it felt.  There are some other more technical details, but really it’s pretty close.

XFCE

The third choice is XFCE.  And… apparently it looks extremely close to the other options.

XFCE

It’s supposed to be “lighter” than the others.  In fact, probably the biggest difference in all these screenshots turns out to be the wallpaper.

The Choice

The ultimate choice is yours.  If you’ve got an older computer, you should probably go with XFCE, as it seems to work a lot better with fewer resources.  But if you’ve got a reasonably new computer, it really won’t matter.  In fact, you can install all of them, and decide which one to use when you log in.

Category: Living With Linux | Comments Off on Choosing the Right Distribution
February 17

New Series: Living With Linux

I’ve decided to start a new blog series.  I’m calling it “Living With Linux.”

It’s all about dealing with Linux on a daily basis.  I presume that at this point most people run Windows, or Mac.  If they run Linux, usually it’s because they know a friendly geek (or have offspring that became one) that installed it for them.  Hi, Mom!

Anyway.  Having ditched Windows at my house for many years now, I’ve picked up some things:

  • tricks on getting things done (insanely) fast
  • things that you just can’t do in Windows
  • reasons why I hate Windows
  • frustrations about Linux

This post is my public declaration.  I am planning on blogging on a regular basis.  How regular?  I guess we’ll see…

Category: Living With Linux | Comments Off on New Series: Living With Linux