The ongoing role of my old Toshiba laptop

Bet you guys thought I forgot about this blog, huh?

Well, as I mentioned in my last post (ugh, all the way back in November already?), I’m gainfully employed again, and busier than a one-legged man in an…. well, you get the idea.

I get home from work and the LAST thing on my mind is writing any kind of intelligible technology articles.

That said, I DO need to start contributing some content to my own Linux blog again, so here goes.

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KDE 3.5.10 packages released on Slackware.com for Slackware 13

Just as an update to my Upgrading KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 3.5.10 in Slackware 13 post, Patrick Volkerding has apparently released KDE 3.5.10 for Slackware 13.0 (link here).

This is probably a better way to go than my procedure, which was more of a proof of concept than an actual workable solution, though I have received some comments that indicate that the KDE 3.5.10 packages from Slackware 12.2 were usable in Slackware 13.0.

This quote from the README is actually one of the things causing me to feel validated in seeking another distro going forward though:

Don’t look for future updates for come from us, though — KDE4 is way to go, and KDE3 is dead. I know how it goes, though… I’ve found over the years that no feature can ever be removed without some fraction of users expressing disappointment (or even anger), and KDE3 was a truly great desktop. However, in my opinion KDE4 has already passed KDE3 in most regards and will only continue to improve.

KDE3 is only dead if people stop using it. To the contrary, there are new KDE3 communities appearing, and renewed interest has been expressed in keeping this “truly great desktop” alive.

But when Patrick states that “KDE4 has already passed KDE3 in most regards”, he must be referring to some version of KDE4 that I haven’t seen, because KDE 4.3 certainly hasn’t surpassed KDE3.

But perhaps he’s using a different definition of the word “surpassed” than I am. I confess I honestly don’t understand how anyone can use it and claim it’s “better” than what came before it when it gives the user a fraction of the options, configurability, and flexibility KDE 3.5.10 provided.

Soapbox aside, this is a great option for those who would like to see a usable desktop environment specifically packaged by Patrick for the latest Slackware release; too bad it’s going to be the last one.

KDE 4 Fanboys: seriously, knock it off.

When I say “I’m looking for a way to make KDE 3.5.10 work on Slackware 13″ or “I’m looking for applications to replace the ones I’ve gotten used to using in KDE, since I won’t be installing KDE going forward”, what does that mean to you?

I know what it means to me… it means I’m looking for some procedural help to accomplish a task, help from some other technically minded individuals who may offer some useful suggestions on how to make something work.

It means I’m looking for ideas for what kind of applications to try, since the open source universe is a big one, and while I try out and use and write about a lot of apps, there’s no way for me to be up on EVERYTHING.

To me, both of those things seem pretty clear and apparent. But based on what I keep seeing in response to things like that, I guess they somehow aren’t that clear.

So, to clarify, here’s what questions like that DO NOT mean.

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Openbox: A fun and lightweight window manager

I am always on the lookout for a new way of doing things when it comes to personal computing, and one of the best ways to do so is to experiment with different window managers for Linux.

Since I have my laptop set up as an Ubuntu test platform, and since APT makes it easy to download and install applications and not find myself in dependency hell, my laptop seemed to be a great way to play around with a window manager about which I’ve been reading for some time: Openbox.

Those of you who are familiar with LXDE will have some experience, albeit limited, with Openbox, as LXDE is based on it (with a bunch of other cohesive applications and a consistent look and feel integrated to complete the transition from “window manager” to “desktop environment”), but Openbox will seem much more familiar to users of Blackbox and Fluxbox, predominately in the sense that Openbox is built very light and minimal, with a desktop bare of icons, and a user-defined right-click menu that is used for launching applications. Like Blackbox and Fluxbox, Openbox is also dockapp friendly, and as a window manager it runs very fast on limited hardware.

I’m a big fan of Fluxbox, so I thought it worthwhile to give Openbox a try, if nothing else to give me material for a Linux Critic writeup, and instead I found that I just liked using Openbox, so this turned out to be more than just a review.

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Upgrading from KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 3.5.10 in Slackware 13

So a few days ago, Slackware 13.0 was released. Unfortunately, Patrick Volkerding greatly deviated from the basic philosophy to which he’s faithfully adhered for years with nearly every release — one of stability, simplicity, and only including elements in the distro that are thoroughly tested and functional — and replaced the highly stable, robust, and fully tested KDE 3.5.10 with the much less stable, buggy, half-baked and in fact barely usable KDE 4.2.4.

I wrote the other day that I considered this a minimum of a year or so premature, and had decided sight unseen that this was a bad decision, based on my extensive attempts at using KDE 4 releases as recent as 4.3 (on OpenSUSE 11.1).

Turns out I was right. KDE 4.2.4 on Slackware 13 is a disaster. I did a full install of Slackware 13 last night on VirtualBox and found KDE 4.2.4 to be just as unusable on Slackware as I had found it to be in Kubuntu when I tried it out a couple of months ago. Not surprising, since I didn’t expect that Patrick would have been fixing the massive usability issues intrinsic to KDE 4 just by including it in a Slackware release; that just isn’t a realistic expectation. Still, I had to get a baseline, and that baseline was about what I had expected.

Then, I set about finding a way to upgrade KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 3.5.10 on Slackware 13. I was successful in this today, and here is my writeup of how I did it.
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The first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Slackware

DISCLAIMER: Be prepared. There is whining ahead. I want to preface this by saying that I’m not interested in having a discussion about why I don’t gush with love over KDE 4, and I’m not particularly interested in suggestions for forcing it to work for me. This post is more about me wrapping my head around planning for how my use of Linux is going to change now that I’m going to have to re-think a lot of things about what has been my favorite Linux distro for years.

Why I’m disappointed

I guess I probably shouldn’t be too surprised, because I knew that Pat Volkerding has been working with my least favorite desktop environment and it’s been in /current for a while now.

But I guess a part of me still was holding out a childish hope that KDE4 was going to be included in /testing only, and that the default version of KDE for the Slackware 13.0 release would be KDE 3.5.10, the last decent release of that desktop environment. Given Patrick’s tendency to play it safe in regular Slackware releases and stick with only stable, fully-developed and thoroughly tested applications and desktop environments, I would have thought that something like KDE 4 — a desktop environment that’s still easily a year’s worth of hard development away from being a suitable replacement for KDE 3 — would be back-burnered in Slackware in favor of what is known to work and work well.

I probably shouldn’t be upset about this; it’s Linux… if I don’t like it, I can just make my own distro, right? If I want to spend the hours and hours it’ll take for that, sure. Well, I’m not to the point of making my own distro yet. But this does mean I’m going to have to significantly change my Linux usage, starting with replacing a bunch of stuff.

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5 reasons why I love Linux

Every so often while I’m working on something, I’m struck by how satisfying it can be to be running Linux as my operating system of choice. No, this isn’t about beating up Windows or tearing Microsoft down any notches… as much as I tout the benefits of Linux and as much as I dislike some of Microsoft’s practices, they have their place in the grand scheme of things.

No, this is about the actual good things that come to mind for me when I say “I love Linux”, and why you should too.

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