Slackware 12.2, AfterStep and KDE 3.5.10

Thursday, 29/01/2009 ≅22:11 ©brainycat

It was ridiculously easy to get KDE and AfterStep working together. And they truly do work together, way better than AS and gnome ever did. They are seemless! Note however that KDesktop does NOT play well, and need to be turned off. From what I can tell, this means you can't have KDE icons on your desktop. I don't use desktop icons at all, not even closed AfterStep windows, so this is no loss to me.

Here's how I did it:

cp /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.kde /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.kde-afterstep
rm /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
ln -s /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.kde-afterstep /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
edit xinitrc.kde-afterstep to invoke startkde.afterstep
cp /usr/bin/startkde /usr/bin/startkde.afterstep
exit startkde.afterstep and look for the line "kwrapper ksmserver" and change it to "kwrapper ksmserver -windowmanager /path/to/afterstep"
mv /usr/share/autostart/kdesktop.desktop /usr/share/autostart/kdesktop.DONOTLOAD
mv /usr/share/autostart/klipper.desktop /usr/share/autostart/klipper.DONOTLOAD

Next, I configured Kicker to glue itself to the top left corner, no hide buttons, and removed all apps and decorations except Kmenu and Konqueror. I tried to find a way to put KMenu in the AfterStep menu, but it's a function of Kicker.

Installing Slackware 12.2 on the Thinkpad T-30

Sunday, 25/01/2009 ≅11:43 ©brainycat

I decided it was time to move on from LinuxMint. LinuxMint is a great distro... for people who view computers as tools that make music, video and the internet happen, and I recommend it wholeheartedly for firsttime linux users. It comes with absolutely gorgeous themes; I'm partial to dark themes and they had a great dark grey theme with green accents. However, as a ex-sysadmin, sometimes developer and all around geek, I found the lack of libraries, development tools and applications too limiting. Additionally, I discovered I'm not very impressed with gnome. The most important thing I wanted gnome to do, manage my network connectivity with clickety-magic, was entirely beyond it's aegis. Also, when I tried to hibernate after tethering it would usually just wake itself back up. And the best subversion and cd/dvd copying/burning software is built against the KDE libraries, so I decided to go back to my beloved slack. Finally, I was not able to install a package that could rip my BOUGHT and PAID FOR cds to mp3. My blackberry doesn't play ogg or flac, so this was a critical issue.

Then I found the notice that slackware had  updated to 12.2, and included some new tools for laptops. I downloaded and burned the install disks, then backed up the following directories:

  • /home/[user]
  • /etc/apache2
  • /etc/ppp
  • /etc/hosts
  • /etc/pm
  • /usr/share/fonts
  • /usr/share/icons
  • /usr/share/themes
  • /usr/local

When I did the original install, I did a monolithic partition so it was imperative I backup EVERYTHING. Also, I didn't back up any dotfiles from /home/[user] except .xchat2, .purple and .afterstep. I use foxmarks, so I wasn't concerned about my firefox bookmarks. I did make a list of my installed add-ons for referance. I exported my Newsfox feeds as an OPML file. Also, I did "lsmod > ~/lsmod.txt", as the linuxmint distro did a fantastic job of finding all my hardware. Next I sat on it for a couple of hours to see if I would remember anything else to backup. I didn't.

The install went very smoothly, slack hasn't changed their install procedure since I started using it years ago. I broke up the partition table into /, /home, and /usr/local. I installed everything on all three disks, and the whole install took around 45 minutes. I selected the framebuffer video driver and KDE's native window manager. When I rebooted, I was greeted by a nice splash screen that disappeared once I selected an OS (IBM laptops have a WinXP rescue partition that I leave alone), then it went to the scrolling dmesg. Everything was detected normally. I created a user account for myself and logged into another virtual console.

Startx brought up X without any problems, at my full 1024x764x32bit. KDE provided me with a setup wizard with some basic options about the themes. The first thing I noticed is that this install is VERY NOTICEABLY faster and more responsive than LinuxMint. The process table is a lot cleaner too; when LinuxMint boots and I'm in my windowmanager, it's running ~125 processes. I'm in the KDE WM right now, with 4 applications running and a USB drive connected, and it's showing 118 processes. KDE is very easy to use, but I'm looking forward to installing AfterStep. More applications are installed than with LinuxMint, too. The install takes 9.3GB of diskspace.

I like KDE a lot more than gnome. It's snappier and has a more polished feel to it; the UI just works. I was not able to configure my wireless network, but I didn't consult any instructions either. I'll try again now that I've set it up via CLI. Firefox has no extensions, and I haven't installed flash yet. Also, the themes that come with KDE are all pretty standard, I'm going to have to find a darker theme to match my AfterStep theme. I was able to plugin my USB drive, and it was automagically mounted. Konqueror is a FANTASTIC file browser.

So far, I'm extremely pleased with this installation. I still have a lot to do for the workstation:

  1. Get the networking to work via the KDE tools.
  2. install AfterStep, configure for KDE
  3. get the scroll/button3 working on my mouse (that's what I wish I had backed up: Xconfig)
  4. Find a better theme
  5. get suspend/hibernate working (enable ACPI)
  6. get the ThinkPad button to work
  7. figure out why I can't set my font smoothing to do sub-pixel rendering

Also, I need to get the following applications working:

  1. setup apache, php and mysql for my development environment
  2. sync my software projects out of my SVN depot
  3. setup xdm

Killing bugs and dropping some cruft

Monday, 27/10/2008 ≅15:51 ©brainycat

I fixed the "phantom category" problem. I either added each post to an existing category, or I deleted the post.

Actually, I deleted about half my posts. I lost all the pictures when I messed up my upgrade a while back [ note to self: look for a way to setup the /upload directories to stay static as I move the codebase/ServerRoot around ] and a lot of the posts from email just didn't seem like it was worth the effort to massage into shape.

I had actually been giving a lot of thought to wiping all the posts and starting over. I definitely want to do more with this blog, and like EVERY other blogger "I really need to post more often". So, I believe I shall. I really do have the time, and I have plenty of things to say... It's just that I haven't gotten myself into the habit of both saying them when they come up in conversation, and remembering to blog about it. Additionally, I need to update some plugins and install Gallery. If I'dve installed Gallery, my images would be in the database and I wouldn't have had to delete all those posts. Oh well.

How I got AfterStep 2.2.7 and Gnome 2.2 to work together

Monday, 27/10/2008 ≅15:23 ©brainycat

much later. trying to get gnome working in afterstep. When gdm invokes afterstep, its not calling up the gnome daemons. Where is afterstep getting called? that's the question of the century. The desktop works after running nautilus and the appearances menu. neither network interfaces are working.
these are running in the integrated desktop but not in afterstep alone:
/usr/lib/pulseaudio --log-target=syslog
/usr/lib/bonobo-activation/bonobo-activation-server --ac-activate --ior-output-fd=24
I need to find where gdm is invoking this stuff for metacity and get it invoked when afterstef is called.

fc-cache -fv

there are a LOT of gnome utils that don't show up in aftersteps menus. music players. Administration is there though, and that seems thorough. there's a gnome util for configuring the gnome menu, and it works in metacity. It'd be nice to be able to invoke it from afterstep

sound and video > pulseadio > [nothing]

internet > firefox > ( > playlist.pls) > play with default > [music happened! very impressed with how good the video looks. dragging window or going back to window mode disables video]

thinkpad buttons: volume up/down, but the mute button does not unmute. stop/restart mp3 stream player, still mute.

lets disable eth0 and enable eth1
administration > network tools > eth0 stats works
whois works
> configure [error: interface does not exist]

opend terminal. VERY extensive module list! much more than I had installed on slack. Some were features I don't use: parport, irda. bluetooth was loaded. radeondriver (administration > video settings showed that my monitor was at 50hz and 1400x1050, but no bitdepth??) was installed.

Went to sleep. Came back later. dmesg shows errors inserting hermes module. Modprobe hermes, then modprobe orinoco got the core modules installed. Attempting to connect to wifi fails, no error. Used administration > network interface, unable to bring up wifi though the ESSID is showing up now. It seems that I have to flip between roaming mode on/off to get to the options.

Installed 44 package updates as prompted. Painless enough. It asked me before overwriting /etc/bashrc. I clicked on "diff" button but nothing came up in the window.

Used the Synaptic Package manager. Found afterstep 2.2.7!! Selected numerous dockapps for installation. Selected subversion and subversion-tools. Selected apache2 amd mysqld. PHP required too much click and choose, it would be nice to have a "all php extensions" option.

Control Centre. Lots of options in compiz, but there are no effects available for me. I had effects running afterstep on this machine. I've got the afterstep package installd, but how do I select it? I don't even have virtual desktops in this mode!!!!!!

I'm impressed with the way the screen blanks (though doesn't dark) and wakes up right away.

Window manager does not focus on mouse. disappointing.

to get gnome working i have to call the appearance manager. and desktop icons aren't working. and i had a list of what was in one and not the other.

fc-cache -fv

afterstep's menus are much different than the gnome menus. perhaps i need to point afterstep at the right .desktop files.

Ultimate *n[i,u]x cheat sheet linkylove

Friday, 27/06/2008 ≅06:13 ©brainycat

LinuxMint – Liveboot try before you buy

Tuesday, 10/06/2008 ≅14:06 ©admin

After years of using slackware through it's various stages, I came to a point where it wasn't meeting my needs anymore. I bought a refurb ThinkPad T-30 with a p6 1.8G/.5GB RAM. Output is handled by the ATI Radeon 7500/16MB driving a 1400x1050 LCD. For a console junkie like me, this is heady stuff.

I booted the Elyssa beta I picked up from a buddy at work. I'd driven his machine for a little bit, and I liked the way the UI just... it just worked. I use XP-Pro.sp2 every day, and I use slackware/afterstep everyday on the aforementioned hardware. Practicing my workflow in this new UI presented no surprises. There was a decent selection of software off the bat, and I'd heard that ubuntu had a decent set of packages.

Why do I need a new distro for my laptop? Because I want things to just work. Because I want to focus on the things that make money - webdevelopment and sysadminning. I want a unified system to take care of getting this laptop connected to the rest of the world. I shouldn't have to dig around for obscure apps to string together to get simple things done. Because this is the best hardware I've ever had to do whatever I want with, and I want eyecandy and multimedia without any gymnastical scripts. Additionally, this needs to happen without interfering with my beloved window manager AfterStep, my trusty sidekick elvis and my secret weopon, bash. Don't get me wrong, I owe my allegiance to Slackware and forever until I die any distro I have an opinion about will be compared against it. But Dr. V had to make a decision, and he chose what's best for his distro. Unfortunately, at this point in my computing career it's a choice that leaves me on the outside. It's a good excuse to learn about this whole deb/ubu/gnome/sysv/grub phenomenon anyways. So after rsyncing a bunch of config files over the fileserver, I issued shutdown -r now for the last time on Slackware 12.0. I popped the iso in and took some notes. What follows is the mostly unedited notes I took as I imbibed in Lemon Hart and limeade while installing LinuxMint v5 Beta vx.x. Observations from retrospect will be denoted by C style comments

lcd is awesome. found mouse. connected itself via ethernet.
found my windows domain. was able to clickopen .txt files with gedit. Saved to desktop.

actual time: 6/7/2008 20:00PDT displayed: 6/8/2008 03:45

start > preferences > appearance > prefs > [unable to select any desktop effects] /*kernel did not load the improved radeon driver with gl*/

sound and video > pulseadio > [nothing]

internet > firefox > ( > playlist.pls) > play with default > Music Happened! very impressed with how good the video looks. dragging window or going back to window mode disables video though. /*maybe because the radeon's gl isn't enabled?*/

thinkpad buttons: volume up/down, but the mute button does not unmute. stop/restart mp3 stream player, still mute. /*very typical for the thinkpads. It's worked before, it'll work again*/

lets disable eth0 and enable eth1
administration > network tools > eth0 stats works
whois works
> configure [error: interface does not exist]

opened terminal. VERY extensive module list! much more than I had installed on slack. Some were features I don't use: parport, irda. bluetooth was loaded. radeondriver (administration > video settings showed that my monitor was at 50hz and 1400x1050, but no bitdepth??) was installed. No orinoco or hermes modules.

saving a file to ~/Desktop/ does NOT create an icon on the desktop. Is there a refresh function? Can I automate this check? Or will I need to learn to have seperate workspaces for the gui and the cli? that actually makes sense... break up coding versus my pim

clicked on desktop icon in bar... help menu not found

clicked on network icon in tasktrayish thingy. was able to locate my wifi, but was not able to authenticate when cutnpaste 128b WEPkey from firefox.

wlan0 as an interface? why?

ssh worked to local fileserver

netstat -atpn does not show mysqld or httpd, and what is gvfsd-smb-bro !?!?!? is that the gnome FS I saw something about on their site? port 127:139 is connected to 127:54591 what is that?

default vi is vim. elvis not installed, but it offered to install it for me. svn was offered. mysqld was offered. httpd was not.

smb shares show up as desktop icons. i think it did this since boot, but I just noticed. nice touch, that's what I wanted gnome for.

kyeboard shortcuts utility: nice touch! set "launch media player" to ctl-f8: worked. Set "run terminal" to shift+t: worked. THIS IS A KILLER APP. THIS MAKES ME HAPPY!!!

virutual terms 1-5 showed user mint already logged in. The term size seemed to be very small, but it filled the screen making each char large. I'd rather have a smaller font and more characters.. ls is colored, thank you. I find myself impressed.

Interesting environmental var: RUNNING_UNDER_GDM=yes

keyboard shortcuts: ctl-c/ctl-v work AND SO DOES *NIX mouse select!!!!! OMG!!! Another KILLER APP!!! > gedit seems to be the default editor. Ideally, this will be tweaked to launch elvis in a term when non-binary files are selected.

Overall, I am impressed. More features are working out of the box than I bothered to get configged under slack. My biggest concern is the wifi connectivity, but that needs more testing and this is a hotmount environment. There's no way I can work with metacity. I need virtual desktops, window control and wharf.

My mind was made up, I committed the box to an installation...

and what next?

Sunday, 01/06/2008 ≅01:08 ©brainycat

First, I need bugtracking software. I was originally trying to commit myself to making sure I had my codey notebookwith me at all times... but I've been doing it that way for years and it hasn't gotten me very far. I need an indexed system to track all the stuff I want to fix and help me stay focused on my roadmap. And if it has a timer, so I can see how much time I'm spending on certain projects or types of projects.

And I work with several ticketing systems, so I'm not at all intimidated by them. I looked at the Dreamhost wiki to see what other people are using... the packages were all familiar, but there aren't any that are auto-installed. Mantis of course strikes my fancy. Clean and lean but still robust and intuitive. Software written by people who depend on it is a beautiful thing. And I found some great instructions explaining exactly how to integrate mantis and subversion. Happiness ensues!

I'll actually be able to get some work done in a timely manner with a decent toolset. Now I just need to find more time in the day to do all the coding I want to do. And I need to figure out how to post faster. Sometimes it seems like such a hassle. Why won't they just integrate SEO into the core?

brainycat version 1.0 unleashed

Sunday, 01/06/2008 ≅00:29 ©brainycat

Version 1.0 of The Adventures of BrainyCat is now in production. Violating every rule of what blogs look like, it looks like what I like to see on my screen.

I've added many features. Let's see... post via email, post to bookmarking sites, rewrote the rendering inside the loop, new colorscheme.

I could not have done this without subversion. It's been a little challenging at times to get my head around it's way of doing things, but I've certainly gotten to a point where I feel comfortable navigating the repo as well as my workspace. I'd been having tremendous difficulty with trying to undo changes. While reading up on tags I found the directions for undoing changes. Oops.

If I wanted to start the svn configuration over from scratch, here's what I'd do:

  1. install wordpress and all the plugins and themes to the dev site
  2. create repo as normal
  3. import the dev site into the rep, skipping the local configuration files
  4. svn mkdir path/to/tags/version-0.1
  5. cd path/to/dev/docroot
  6. svn copy ./ path/to/tags/version-0.1
  7. cd /path/to/prod/docroot
  8. svn switch path/to/tags/version-0.1
  9. login as admin to prod site and activate plugins, setup options, etc
  10. test instalation.

Stay tuned for some big changes around here…

Sunday, 18/05/2008 ≅22:00 ©brainycat

Big things happening over on the dev site. I started the day with a total of 30 checkins to svn, and I ended the day with 114. I've got the sidebar setup, most of the bookmarking done and the 90% of the stylesheet done.

I still need to make sure the bookmarks are integrated, and that's probably going to require digging into the trunk to be able to run url_encode(the_permalink)). I may be able to skate if some kind soul has posted some docs. I need to update all the drilldown pages to reflect the new classes I installed in the style.  I'm going to let the header slide until the next release, because CSS positioning and I don't get along very well. The footer will be done in this release.

I really need to generate some scripts that will sync every table except options from the live site to the dev site.

And I need to remember to remove the static configuration file from svn before I update the live site.

I'd like to say I'm a lot more comfortable with svn now... but not really. I needed to undo some changes I'd checked in, and I had a lot of trouble trying to revert. I'll read up on that tomorrow. All in all, I only had to dig out the books once.

How To Embed YouTube videos in WordPress 2.5.1

Saturday, 17/05/2008 ≅22:03 ©brainycat

jdh358 posted a nearly 4 minute long video explaining how to get the cut and paste code from youtube to work for you. I had enough difficulty getting this job done that I had to consult the oracle. So I'll save you four minutes of your life listening to a poorly miked presentation and cut right to the chase:

  1. Find a video that you want to post on your blog at youtube
  2. Select the generated <object> tag
  3. Login to wordpress and select "Profile"
  4. Deselect the Visual Editor option, select "Update Profile"
  5. Goto the Write page
  6. Write and publish your post as normal, pasting the <object> tag as appropriate
  7. Enjoy the oohs and aaaahs of millions of adoring fans

It's very important that the WYSIWYG editor never sees the <object> tag. It doesn't parse it properly, so the brackets that are supposed to denote a tag get translated into it's numeric entity. This means that your lovingly crafted tag is treated as literal text by WordPress.