How to Make a Bootable Linux Thumb Drive via Command Line

This is another one of those things where I always have to consult my own notes because it never sticks in my head. Part of the reason for this is the fact that I am old fashioned and still insist on doing this the non-graphical way.

Why? Because graphical tools for such things often fail or provide unpredictable results at random, or don’t offer enough of the right options.

Also, because I really like the command line. Weird, I know. But use it enough, and you might like it too. You’ve been warned.

So… Beware, there is command line ahead. Don’t be afraid of it. Sometimes that’s the only reliable way to get something done when other tools break and fail.

And yes, for the Linux gurus who might be reading this, the post you’re about to read is kind of aimed at newbies. That’s okay, because people gotta learn somehow, right?

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Clock Configuration

People become accustomed to seeing certain information displayed in their panels, and one of those is always a clock of some kind.

I like to configure that to my preference in whichever GUI I’m using in Linux, be it Fluxbox, Cinnamon, Xfce, or whatever.

A lot of times the default options available don’t have what I prefer, but nearly all Linux-friendly window managers and desktop environments offer the opportunity to enter a “custom” string for how time and date are displayed, and that’s the subject of this little writeup.

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Xfce: Stop workspace hopping by browser

I’ve been using the Xfce desktop environment again lately, for the first time in years, because I was curious to see how it has changed over time.

As an overall, I’ve been enjoying this experiment; I was never very satisfied with it before for a variety of reasons, but its flexibility and stability are still attractive to me, and I’ve discovered that it’s better this time around than when I last gave it a shot.

That said, I’ve encountered an annoyance or two, and in figuring out the solution to one of the biggest ones, I thought I’d do a which howto and share it for reference.

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Change screen brightness in LXDE

I decided to play around with LXDE on a cheap laptop I bought in an employee auction recently (on which I’m running Linux Mint Debian Edition). Everything works great – I forgot how fast and comfortable LXDE is to me, since it’s been quite a while since I used it regularly.

However, the keybindings don’t work for adjusting the screen brightness, and I had to struggle for a bit to figure out how to get them properly mapped to this functionality. Here’s how I did it.

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A quick way to change default browser in LMDE

Just a quick note here, in part for myself (because inevitably I’ll end up needing to do this again, and that was some of the reason I started this blog to begin with), but also for the benefit of anyone else who finds this handy.

I’ve been using the beta version of Google Chrome on my Linux Mint Debian Edition machines lately. It works well, but I had trouble getting it set as my default browser utilizing the graphical options in the settings in Cinnamon.

So, I explored some command line options. This is what I got to work, after some experimentation.

xdg-mime default google-chrome-beta.desktop x-scheme-handler/http
xdg-mime default google-chrome-beta.desktop x-scheme-handler/https

Didn’t even have to sudo it or anything!

Anyway, hope that helps someone else out as well!

– Trent

How to change the boot splash in Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

This is more of a note to myself than anything else, but as always such things can come in handy for anyone trying to figure something out.

With the last Update Pack for LMDE I managed to screw something up and the boot splash (the slick little Linux Mint logo that displays on boot) stopped displaying on boot.

This isn’t a big deal… it’s not like it affects the functionality of the machine. But it was an annoyance, particularly since it was a visible indicator of how I screwed something up, every single time I powered on this laptop. 🙂

Nothing I did seemed to make any difference — GRUB looked fine, everything was set correctly, but something had obviously broken in the update process.

Here is how I fixed it. I installed the Plymouth boot splash application, the Plymouth Direct Rendering Manager (Plymouth DRM) and the Mint theme pack for it. Then I used the command to set the theme I wanted and updated the initramfs, like so:

sudo apt-get install startupmanager plymouth plymouth-drm plymouth-themes-mint

sudo /usr/sbin/plymouth-set-default-theme mint-logo

sudo update-initramfs -u

Then, after a quick reboot, the Linux Mint boot splash appears!

Pianobar: Command line Pandora client HOWTO

In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself installing and configuring Pianobar a lot. It’s an open source command line client for the popular Internet music streaming service, Pandora. In rebuilding a couple of machines recently, I have found myself installing and configuring it a few times, and I keep stumbling over it, because it’s broken in the Ubuntu and Debian repositories, so in order to get this really great application to work, it takes a few more steps than a quick apt-get install command.

This little writeup is at least in part for my own benefit, since I’m sick of the stumbling and trying to remember, wait, what did I do to get this to work again? So if it helps any of my readers out, even better!

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