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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Fluxbox and dockapps

In exploring a renewed interest I’ve developed in Fluxbox recently, and spurred by some new stuff I learned from reading Patrick’s wonderful Fluxbox tweaking post a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d do a writeup on another capability that Fluxbox has that I’ve never delved into: dockapps.

Fluxbox has as a part of its toolbox a friendly home on its desktop for dockable utility applications that can provide information, handy functionality, and even dress up the otherwise normally spartan Fluxbox user space. I don’t use many dockapps, but it’s worth using the ones I have as examples in this writeup, if nothing else just to demonstrate how to set this up and take advantage of this capability.

So in this post, I’ll be discussing three dockapps: GKrellM, WMix, and WMWeather.

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Linux and my search for the perfect MP3 player

I’m a huge music fan. I pretty much have music playing all the time, in some form. As such, I like my MP3 player. Like many music lovers, I became enamored with the concept of having my entire music library at my fingertips at any time, so the MP3 player as a concept really appealed to me when they began to appear with larger capacities several years ago.

However, as a Linux user, there are some hurdles in choosing a portable digital music device, which limits one’s options, and then there is the simple fact that manufacturers have radically cut down on the products offered, which limits one’s options even more.

This is my discussion of that plight.

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Hannah Montana Linux review

By popular demand, I downloaded, installed, and worked with the new Hannah Montana Linux distribution, and decided to post a review of this product, as well as some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this niche Linux distro.

To aid the reader in following this review visually, I have taken numerous screenshots and included them here.

Downloading

I was able to download the ISO for HMLinux from the Sourceforge homepage of it. I downloaded “v2″ of it, using Bittorrent. It downloaded quite rapidly, only taking 15 minutes or so, leading me to believe that it is well-seeded as a torrent.

The ISO is a combination LiveCD and installation CD. I think it’s nice when distro developers/packagers do this, as it gives one the chance to see if the distro is going to work on one’s hardware simply by booting from the CD, and making that determination BEFORE one actually has to install anything to the hard drive.

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Fluxbox on Ubuntu: two more problems, two more solutions

Continuing with my attempt to document the problems I’ve run into running Fluxbox on top of Ubuntu 9.04 and their solutions, I figured I’d present two more things I’ve encountered and resolved since the other day’s rather annoying touchpad fiasco.

These two were both relatively little things, but they’re the kind of things that tend to drive me nuts. The first was a problem with the screen automatically locking (using Xscreensaver‘s built-in lock function — even though I had all such functions disabled), and the second was an issue with sound being muted and the master volume being set to 0% every single time I rebooted — necessitating my manually unmuting it and raising the volume if I wanted sound every day.

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How to disable the touchpad in Ubuntu

As I had mentioned in yesterday’s post about configuring Fluxbox on Ubuntu 9.04 on my old Toshiba laptop, I had one nagging issue I couldn’t figure out, namely the rather simple fact that the touchpad wouldn’t stay disabled.

I know this isn’t a big deal for most people, but for me it’s a rather vexing one, and it bothered me that I had to manually do so every single time I logged in.

So this afternoon I took a deep breath, did some more Google searching on the subject, and arrived at an overly-complex (but doable) solution.
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Now using Fluxbox on Ubuntu 9.04

Even though the jury’s still out on my opinion of Ubuntu 9.04 on my laptop, I finally had enough of GNOME today and configured Fluxbox on it and set it as my default window manager.

I’m running into some weirdness with that even, however, which may color my opinion of Ubuntu as a result… things that I’m not accustomed to fighting with when using Fluxbox.

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The most useful Linux resource on the web

When I first started using Linux, I came to the table with a grounding in old command line Unix, and a few solid years under my belt managing a couple of Ultrix boxes where I used to work.

So I knew the basic set of commands, the Bourne Shell (or the basics of it, at least), and the general architecture the more Unix-like distros follow.

However, when I started using Linux, I was trying something well outside of my experience and knowledge: I was using it as a desktop OS.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time searching the internet every time I had a problem or a question. In all that searching, I came to find one particular locale that always seemed to have the answers I was looking for.

It was called (and still is) LinuxQuestions.org. LQ is a massive forum, with subforums for the more popular distributions, and (in my experience) a very friendly, welcoming atmosphere for Linux users of all experience levels.

I know that in the fend-for-yourself world of Linux and open source software it can be kind of lonely out in the cold when you just CAN’T get whatever that is you’re working on to just WORK, damn it!

Do what I do. I go to LinuxQuestions.org and use their search page, and 9 times out of 10 I find what I’m looking for without even having to post my question.

So I think it’s worth giving the community at LQ some love, because they have been an invaluable resource for me in my years of using Linux at my primary desktop operating system, and I’m sure they can be for you too.

Will ARM processors be competitive?

I just ran across this blurb about an ARM-processor based netbook and it got me thinking.

I’ve been skeptical of ARM-based netbooks. While lauded for their low power consumption and versatility, because they’re mostly a PDA/cell phone/router type of CPU, I have trouble envisioning an ARM netbook as being very comparable in performance to one running, say, an Intel Atom.
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