cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Unlike the majority of the Ubuntu user population, I preferred the Gnome 3 desktop from the beginning. I'm really attached to it and have gone through a bunch of different distros trying to find one that works correctly in all the ways I care about. I couldn't get everything I needed to work with Debian.

Now [personal profile] waxjism is running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and I'm running Ubuntu Gnome 16.04 LTS, and the differences are more apparent:

+ Ubuntu Gnome:
  • Panel indicators show up in a single integrated menu for the most part in Gnome.


  • The Calendar widget displays events from my Google calendar.


  • There's a new, native calendar app that does the same, and is more convenient than the web interface or the previous Linux apps. (The new native world clock/clock/timer is useful too, if a bit rough around the edges, and there's a new to-do app which could display google tasks and provide an indicator applet, but is neat.)


  • The top panel is easily themed with CSS and a variety of extensions let you add applications and places menus and a number of useful toggles and indicators. You can't do anything about it in Unity but adjust the opacity, where you also can't do much about how hideously ugly and unthemeable the application launcher has always been and remains.


  • The application menus display seamlessly in the top panel and native gnome programs integrate title and menubar. The corresponding function under Unity looks stupid and takes extra screen real estate.


  • Gedit is my favorite editor and it's streamlined but just as functional now, which I love (an older version is packaged with Ubuntu Unity).


  • [personal profile] waxjism is having some kind of driver issue with Unity that makes some flash videos, depending on what the site is running (eg HBO Nordic and Viaplay - so: hockey - but not Netflix), crash the entire computer so it suddenly and without warning shuts down. I had this for a while about a year ago under Gnome 3 on Debian, but apparently not anymore. Wouldn't want to switch and suddenly have this problem start back up again, though.


+ Ubuntu Unity:
  • The standard Ubuntu & Gnome file manager - Nautilus - packaged in Ubuntu Gnome is so slow it's basically unusable. A lot of changes have happened under the hood with the new versions of Nautilus apparently? Whatever, it doesn't matter how much better it would work if it never finishes doing it. Alternative file manager Nemo, forked by and for Linux Mint, mostly works in Ubuntu Gnome, but for example, it doesn't handle symlinks to folders correctly under Ubuntu Gnome (a functionality that's been perfectly fine in every Linux I've tried since like 2007), it set up Samba but not without giving me some trouble, and it doesn't look right because it's designed for another distro that has its own themes (it works flawlessly in Mint, as far as I've ever noticed). - Meanwhile Nautilus is fine under Unity, although complaints about functionality that's been removed are still germane.


  • The greeter/login/lockscreen (LightDM) is better in Unity.


  • The quicklists, which add extra indicators and right click functionalities to running apps in the launcher under Unity, can be legitimately useful. There's nothing like that in the Gnome shell dock.


  • Terminal refuses to remember my preference to not display the menu bar under Ubuntu Gnome, another thing I've never had a problem with before.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (this is awkward)
OK whenever an electrician comes & they see our media server (which is just a spare computer running Kubuntu that is hooked up to our LAN and houses backups of our files and old media files that we leave on all the time), which means they see a spare computer tower humming in the corner hooked up to a mouse, keyboard and LCD monitor all stored on the floor in the corner behind the armchair...

... they always make a really similar reaction face/noise, which, because they are Finnish salts of the earth, is very "Jaha!"-based.

And I always feel this strong urge to EXPLAIN that we're not weirdos who have a mysterious HIDDEN FLOOR COMPUTER, it's not like THAT, it's our MEDIA SERVER and it's only in this room so the network cables don't have to cross the floor! -- but anything I can think of to say I can only imagine making their bemusement worse. So instead I just shove it out of the way without saying anything - still humming away, monitor still off, mouse and keyboard still balanced on top of a big Tupperware literally overflowing with about 30' of extension cord.

I wonder if these guys HAVE the concept of media server, and are actually just thinking "Lol these noobs don't even have a wireless card for their media server?" or if later they remember and are like "Oh you'll never guess what was in front of the electrical box in one of those apartments today."
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (stfu)
Yesterday my wireless keyboard and mouse stopped working and I got them started again by vigorous jiggling (of the USB wireless receiver: my current theory is that some tea spilled on the top of the computer case dripped down onto it) but in the process I got distracted cleaning the fuzz from the keyboard with a card between the keys.

Only then when they started working again the keyboard was... on and off. It stopped and then started about 6 times last night and today. Also the green battery power LED on the keyboard which had gone out months ago came back and then went away... about three times.

It probably needs replacing :(. It's already lasted a lot longer than the cheap ones I was buying before it, but it's still a drag that the wireless kind is like 4-5x the cost. And that I apparently accidentally broke it (by poking it between the keys I guess?!).
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (workout)
We've been having trouble with the networked printer, so I put the laptop next to the printer and plugged it directly in to print.

Then I booted Windows...

...and a few minutes later at 4:30 my phone alarm went off with a check email reminder...

and 10 minutes after that it was 4:40 and Windows was still thinking. Chrome was blank, informing me that Gmail failed to load on the first try, and notification bubbles were informing me that the antivirus software had updated itself, that Windows had updated itself, and that to complete further 'critical' updates it wanted to restart. I reloaded Gmail, went to Google Drive, grabbed the top document in the list and clicked 'print'.

At 4:43, it still hadn't printed.

In contrast, when I wake up in the morning I hit the power button on my computer, go in the kitchen and put the kettle on and go to the bathroom, then pour the water in the teapot and put it by my computer to brew. In the time it takes the kettle to boil my computer has produced its login screen. I sign in and go back to the kitchen to make a bowl of oatmeal, and when I return in under 2 minutes, my desktop is all loaded and glowing peacefully. I click on Twitter and Firefox and they both open immediately, the latter with all 15ish of my saved tabs ready and waiting.

If I were using the Windows 7 laptop for my primary computer, I could hit the power button first thing and still not be past the "Welcome" screen when I got back with my oatmeal. And once I logged in, I'd have time to eat the whole bowl before I got to see my tabs.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (tea cup)
Last time I had to upgrade my mom's operating system, [personal profile] waxjism and I talked her through the installation disc/BIOS and other parts before she could install a remote control app via Skype, using her tablet to see the screen. But this involved the tablet trembling a lot and us saying "Left, no, other left, up, up, what does it say under that?"

I tried to do a package upgrade instead of a clean install so we wouldn't have to do that this time, but it didn't work (there's a problem with the Nvidia drivers, but it might not have been the only problem). So I have had to assume remote control of my dad's elderly Frankencomputer which is running Windows 7 (a computer that old should NEVER be running Windows 7 *shudder*, but it's a work computer and connects to their internal network, so it has to be) in order to create a bootable USB stick. Which I've done 2.5x now, the first attempt having failed.

This means we've attempted to boot from USB, and navigated the boot menu, several times, and it's going a lot more smoothly now that my mom has a smartphone. She takes a couple of snapshots of the screen and sends them to me with WhatsApp and then I can tell her what to do.

And Team Viewer is still really great. Highly recommended for long-distance troubleshooting and other within-operating-system technical support.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (um excuse me)
I thought I might try something Debian-based, instead of Ubuntu-based, so I downloaded an iso of Crunchbang. The livecd looked workable, but then it wouldn't install. I mean, I haven't given up on it yet, but if it consistently says it can't install Grub I am going to have to.

Anyone else have extra trouble with Debian systems?

I know almost nothing about Grub. Grub is complicated and the task of learning more about it looks pretty intimidating from here.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (bored now)
Every now and then I think, "Surely all the major Ubuntu-based distributions will have a default music player stable enough to not constantly crash by now, right? I mean, the overall user experience in all the main flavors is so smooth and mostly crash-free in other areas, so maybe I can switch away from Quod Libet now, since everyone is always so slow to include widget and menu integration for it and it lacks a good compact display mode. Some of the other ones have really sweet-looking widgets and stuff."

So then I try one.

And okay, to be fair, Amarok under the newest KDE is no longer crashing constantly on my system, but the browser's complete lack of multi-pane sorting and the inconvenient playlist management was enough to drive me away anyway.

But Rhythmbox! STILL crashing more than once per day... on the system it came pre-installed in!

I've been using Quod Libet for at least 4 years under Unity, Gnome Shell, KDE, Xfce, and LXDE, and it's never crashed or sucked up all the memory.

Ugh.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (um excuse me)
My mom is a 56-year-old public school art teacher. She has numerous volunteer commitments and home projects, as well as a young lab-mix dog (and two cats!). She has her own computer at home (not shared with anyone except occasional houseguests) for casual use and basic tasks:
  • scanner and digital camera management with online Picasa integration

  • checking her Gmail once a month or so, without, however, ever clearing her inbox

  • Pinterest

  • Appearing on Twitter to reblog 2-4 social justice links and then leave again every few weeks

  • Occasional word processing, like simple letters

  • Reading my blog and my photoblog

  • Occasionally watching Youtube videos, at my or my sister's instigation

  • Frequent transfer of image and document files via USB to/from Windows computers she is required to use at work


So, unlike us, she doesn't need:
  • Any but the most basic video and music playback, for very infrequent use (e.g. no codecs or converters needed)

  • Gimp or any other drawing/image manipulation (although they are default components of modern Mint)

  • Twitter, chat, BitTorrent, or email clients

  • Google calendar integration or Samba filesharing


Several years ago I built her a simple system and installed Linux Mint on it, which I judged the most friendly Linux OS for her needs. Mint 10, based on Ubuntu Jaunty, was a long-term support release supported until April 2012. When I set up the system for her, I created a separate partition for her files and set it to auto-mount on system boot, creating a link. I explained that she should save her personal files that she wanted to keep on it so that they could be kept separate from the OS files for upgrading.

Well, I've been trying to encourage her to upgrade with increasing urgency for a year and a half now, but it didn't happen until yesterday, week 2 of her having her new tablet at home so we could use it for skyping through the process. We also installed Team Viewer, a desktop sharing program, and Wax (because I couldn't install it as quickly on my newer system) used it to create the install disk.

But when we got Team Viewer up, we found her desktop covered with files and folders. Wax dug into the computer and found out that:

  • The data partition I set up was empty and unused

  • All the files had been saved to her home directory and many to her desktop, with no organization. Folders with names like "New hair March 2012" (containing 3 files) were mixed with empty folders and folders like "architecture" and "[music album]".

  • At some point someone had installed Windows on the computer. She did not know about this, or didn't remember, and had no idea who could have done it. The partition was still there.


Fortunately I had made her home 20 GB, because she'd used 17 of it (contrast this to the empty data partition's 400 GB).

Ultimately, Wax simply preserved the home partition untouched, formatted the 400 GB partition, and then, after install, copied the old folders to the larger partition, providing numerous links to them from the desktop and file manager.

She can't touch-type and is confused by right-click menus, but she isn't a novice at computers: my parents have owned a computer since they were in college, first a Commodore 64 and later a Windows 3.0 machine. They used a dot-matrix printer for years and my mom was competent at DOS and an expert at the pre-desktop-OS word processor WordStar, which she used while working as a managing editor in a scientific journal for several years when I was a kid. Unfortunately, she's got a distractable personality and finds it difficult to follow computer-related directions exactly, so Team Viewer was a real life saver here. Trying to direct her what to do over Skype was difficult. Fortunately being yelled at didn't make her mad.

All in all, via Team Viewer on both systems and verbally on Skype in between, Wax and I were occupied ~ 5 hours last night with this. This system set up involved several restarts after boot, all but the first few of which Wax controlled via Team Viewer. But when I got up at noon (4 am their time), there were messages waiting for me from both parents via email, as well as by Twitter and Facebook, that my mom's computer "won't boot Linux". Apparently she "was editing" (what?) when it froze and she restarted via the power button, after which it they claim it froze in a black screen and wouldn't boot. I suspect it was just checking the disks, which can be time-consuming and modern Ubuntu-based systems use quiet boot by default, which means you can't see any sign that it's doing things. That can cause anxiety. But by then they'd gone to bed, so now I have another tech support session to look forward to. Hopefully it won't involve reinstalling.

Although looking at it in retrospect, given how little mom requires of her system, I think perhaps we should have gone with an Xfce desktop. It's more lightweight and I think more easily tweakable, and it's not like she needs widgets, applets, web apps, or any of the other things that make me reluctant to use the lightweight desktops. My personal biggest quibbles in Xfce are things like lack of built-in Samba support (unnecessary, in her case) and fewer file browser features (but she isn't aware of those anyway). On the other hand, generally you're more on your own if you have a problem in a lightweight desktop. The main edition of Mint has the most built-in support and direction, I think.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (sweatdrop)
A counterweight to the trouble I went to in order to get my computer working again was that at the same time I checked out Firefox more thoroughly and for the first time in years I'm no longer dependent on Opera!

I've used Firefox for various periods of my life, but eventually I've always gone back to Opera. Opera is faster and uses less system resources, and round about 2005, the first time I got fed up and moved back to it, it was because Firefox was consuming all the memory and not just crashing a lot, but also causing X to crash, requiring me to logout and back in. Other reasons for reverse pilgrimage, or failed attempts to use Firefox, have included:

  • Opera's mouse gestures, the original reason, but a Firefox add-on duplicated that years ago.


  • At one time it was impossible to keep my Firefox bookmarks in a side pane and edit them easily via dragging and dropping. This is now accomplished by the All-in-One Sidebar extension, which also allows downloads, history, and add-ons to be managed from the side pane, much like in Opera.


  • Opera's customizeable Speed Dial is better than the Chrome and FF default behaviors. You can manually enter the addresses of the bookmarks you want to show there. The last time I tried to go back to Firefox - because several sites I needed to use frequently wouldn't work in Opera - this was the stumbling block. A few years ago there were a couple of Firefox add-ons for this functionality but none of them would work correctly for me. Constant crashing, very slow loading times, etc. But the add-on New Tab Plus suffers from none of those problems.


  • Opera's tab groups are actually still more convenient than Firefox's tab stacks, but it's not the end of the world. I don't mind the group view page, but I would like to be able to view each group as a stack the size of one tab in my tab bar, to allow switching between groups via the tab bar. In opera you can also mouseover a tab bundle and get a preview pane showing thumbnails and titles of every tab in the group. You can then click on the tumbnail to open that tab even if it's not the top one in the stack. It's not unlikely that a Firefox add-on duplicates this functionality but I haven't found it yet.


  • Opera Dragonfly was way more useful than the Firefox alternatives for some time. It's most useful when saving images as it allows you to highlight CSS elements and objects by hovering and click on them to view their selectors in the code pane. That made it quite simple to find the address to the image, usually. It was also quite nice for trying to do CSS yourself of course. However, I was pleased to find that the clickable element selection is now available in Firefox too.


  • FF still doesn't have its own open closed tabs button, but the Undo Closed Tabs Button add-on takes care of that. Tumblr savior also works more easily in Firefox.


  • One thing I've been wanting since forever is for Opera to remember my page zoom preferences by default. I want to always view this site at 90% or that one at 120%. Well, Opera doesn't have it, but in Firefox you can do it with the NoSquint add-on. NoSquint also allows you to override text, background and link color, and to disable images.

  • Unfortunately, the one thing I couldn't figure out how to replace are Opera's view buttons, 'viewer/author style' (disables the style sheet) and 'fit page to width'. You can disable the stylesheet in Firefox but I don't know of a toolbar button that will do it with one click; and I wasn't able to figure out how to duplicate Fit Page to Width, which is really, really useful. I found an add-on that sounded like it might do some of the same stuff, but it was part of a broader zoom control widget and, unfortunately, it broke NoSquint. I needed NoSquint.



There's also Extended Statusbar, which gives more information during page loading, like Opera's does. I also like Tile Tabs, which will automatically resize several tabs within the window for you, side by side or in other configurations. Share This didn't work for some reason, but I don't use it that often anymore anyway, since most of the places I might want it now have their own Tweet This buttons.

Anyone else got any add-ons or user script recs?
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
The great thing about Linux is that you can pick and choose and customize anything you want to, as long as you're willing to work at it. The problem is, sometimes the cost-benefit analysis doesn't work out once you know enough to understand how much work would be required. Another problem is that once you get attached to (and adapted to) a feature, it's sometimes a really big deal when it's taken away.

This has led, at least for me, to a kind of Goldilocks experience in the world of Linux, trying out different desktops, giving them time to start to sink in, and each time there's something wrong - sometimes an actual bug, sometimes just a feature from another desktop environment that I can't duplicate.

When Gnome 3 was first introduced I was fascinated by a lot of things about it. There were a lot of things that I liked, but at the end of the 11.04 cycle my install was crashing way too frequently, even after a clean install, so I decided to give Unity another go as the blogs were saying it had become much more stable since Natty, when Compiz was essentially non-functional on my machine.

I installed Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. It was still ugly, the top bar was still black, but it was possible to render the top panel transparent and the launcher now respected the system icon theme, which, yes, was non-negotiable for me. As far as I remember, it contained no major bugs, but I wanted to upgrade when Quantal came out because the new features sounded cool.

And then the problems began.

Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzel: VLC was broken by an update shortly after install and it never worked again. The bug was reported at various spots online, so it was a common one, but it was never fixed. I tried several other media players and all were way less convient for screencapping. I got tired of it and had been increasingly fed up with Ubuntu's ongoing campaign to remove features from the install in order to 'streamline' everything so it can be identical to the eventual user experience on the future phone OS.

At this point 13.04 was not yet out, so to get a working VLC I had to go backwards. I installed Kubuntu 12.04. I was happy with the new KDE for the most part, but when I installed Caffeine - a popular applet that automatically keeps the monitor from going to sleep whenever a media player is open or a flash video is playing - it failed to work. It installed all right; it just wouldn't launch. I crawled all over the internet, but there was no replacement app for KDE. Various users more leet than me had put various hacks in place to replace Caffeine, but this was a disappointing lack.

I upgraded to Kubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail thinking it might fix that problem, but it didn't. I was quite happy with KDE otherwise - its customizability suited what I wanted almost exactly.1 There's also an icon-only task manager - another of my OS requirements - similar to Dockbar X that can be installed to the main panel straight from the repositories. The functionality, though, is less robust than in Dockbar X, Unity launcher, or Cairo/AWN.

The main problem with 13.04, though, was Peer Guardian Linux. It had started crashing every time I booted the computer, requiring a manual restart. This only took thirty seconds or so, but it was quite irritating, especially since Google seemed to indicate it was a years-old bug that had been gotten rid of several cycles ago. I even reinstalled the same OS from scratch just in case, but the problem remained.

So I downloaded an image of PCLinuxOS on a whim, on the basis of a really positive review. Now, the reviewer was right, it DID work right out of the box. The problem was that I had completely failed to notice in my airheaded rush that it was not an Ubuntu-based system, and when I decided to install it to a smaller partition to play around with in the long-term, I didn't know that that would be a problem. Not knowing what the hell I was doing, or that there was anything I needed to check out first, I accidentally destroyed my previous grub entries in the install process and was unable to boot to my previous KDE install. I wasn't even able to back up my bookmarks and I wasn't able to recover them from the other OS or the liveCD I then tried. My need to have my bookmarks back was growing urgent and I didn't have the time to teach myself to install Opera manually in PCLinuxOS just to get at them, but the native format can't be read by other browsers. I tried to install Opera, then open it for the purpose of exporting the files, on the liveCD, but that didn't work either, so I had to install a new OS to the harddrive anyway to get my bookmarks. Therefore I decided to make it one that did not so far as I know suffer from any major problems, hence my choosing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail.

I did that on... Tuesday I think. Yesterday afternoon I finally had (almost) everything set up to my liking.

By default Nautilus, the filebrowser, has lost tons of functionality. Not only is the split pane button missing, a pretty trivial feature but one I use a lot, several way more important things are missing, like ANY ACCESS WHATSOEVER TO THE TOOLBAR OR MENU ITEMS, or the ability to in any way alter the display in the sidebar. Like, I couldn't bookmark my own folders. There's a fix for that, though. I installed a patch found on Webupd8. There were a bunch of other things I did and some of them are not all a fog... )
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (strike a pose!)
One of our Finnish teachers uses IE. And she's the more computer-skilled of them. (Neither one of them can remember how to scale up text size, either on webpages or in Word. Literally every time somebody in our class asks someone to enlarge text, whoever is teaching has to be told how to do it. Several times.)

Anyway, so the teacher who hates computers was trying to show us how to walk from the bus stop to the public ice rink, and she was in Google maps dragging the little point of view figure who opens street view. She kept dragging the little person in different directions, quite far away from the destination, and zooming in and out in map view without any appreciable effect, for like five minutes. Various people were shouting out theories for why it wouldn't work, and suggestions like restart the computer, or the browser, or maybe the mouse is broken, when suddenly and apparently miraculously a photo of the ice rink appeared!

"OH!" gasped the teacher. "You have to DOUBLE-click!"

(I teared up with laughter and had trouble gasping, "All that time you weren't double-clicking?")
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (you shall not pass)
It's lucky that I've streamlined the process of new-OS-installation-and-setup so much during the past year, since I started naming each install with consecutive letters of the alphabet. In fact, the year isn't up yet, but this install is Madame Xanadu, #24. I took out the old hard disk and the mysterious clicking stopped. (But there's less than 100 gigs of free space left on the terabyte media drive now... )

Also, if I just have two more computer failures/upgrades between now and Easter I'll have finished the whole alphabet.

This is my streamlined process, from the text file I keep at the top of my backups directory:Read more... )
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (o.O)
Recently the tower containing all my computer bits has been producing an intermittent, thoroughly ominous clicking noise with no particular correlations as far as I can tell with anything the OS does.

Possibly unrelatedly, just now I got an alert bubble that one of the disks was feeling poorly, did I want to open the disk utility? So I clicked on the disk utility and opened the small elderly 320 gig hard drive that houses my operating system and all my personal settings (in order to keep the media hard drive strictly for media storage). So the Disk Utility was all: "SMART status: DISK FAILURE IS IMMINENT!" So I clicked 'check and repair disk', but it was like "Sorry, the disk is busy." (I knew that. It's busy because, well, the OS is running. It has to check during boot.)

So. Time to back up all my personalized settings! This is actually a blessing. If the media drive were the one with a problem, it would take almost all of our everythings with it, and at least it has enough spare space to run an OS for now.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (dead)
Wax's beloved laptop Jean-Luc died this morning - froze and emitted a rattling noise instead of booting after that. Honestly, he's been a trooper for a mid-price laptop considering that he's about 4 or 5 years old now. Now she has to replace him with a new laptop instead of perhaps getting herself a new desktop again - our two extra machines, Zombie and Osha, are fine with lightweight OSes but not up to regular use with the heavy multi-tasking that implies. That's definitely a bit of a bummer. Now we are further away from being able to set up an extra computer as a media server - we'll have to buy a new motherboard first because mine (from 2007) is the only one we have that could handle it.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (descartes)
Ever since Ubuntu 11.04, the lack of the ability to configure many aspects of the new Unity interface has been pointed out and questioned widely.

Today, at the “Meet Ubuntu Desktop Designers” session in the Ubuntu Developer Summit being held in Orlando, Florida, members of the Canonical design team clarified that they never intended Unity to not be configurable; instead, it is very much on their radar.

According to them, the only reason why it didn’t make it to Ubuntu 11.04 or 11.10 was simply because “there were other, more important tasks to complete for those releases” and that they “never wanted to alienate power users or fans of customization from Unity”.

[OMG!Ubuntu: Ubuntu Desktop Designers: ‘Unity Should Be Configurable’]


I don't care what your intent was. You released it unconfigurable, and if you meant it to be configurable then you released it unfinished. That. was. stupid.

Don't release things that aren't finished (I won't even go into 'things that crash all the fucking time' which is what Compiz did in 11.4). It's not exactly rocket science!

If you're launching your operating system with a big party and a slideshow, I don't expect it to crash several times a day. Or for windows to randomly turn blank white half of the time when I maximize them. Or for everything to stop working as soon as I enable a new Compiz plugin. What are you, Microsoft?
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (that just happened)
So, when I was with my family we mostly just ate and talked a lot, but there were a few other things that happened that were funny.

  • My great-aunt and uncle tried to insist that Urdu was in the Finno-Ugric language group. I was like "Seriously, you guys, I live in Finland. The group doesn't have that many. It definitely doesn't contain ANY languages from, you know... India." But in 1960 they were in the Peace Corps and they got a briefing on languages and they could totally swear! This was solved on Wikipedia, via my phone.


  • My sister gets so offended by people interrupting her that she yelled at the entire room, threatened not to come to any more family reunions if people were going to be interrupting each other a lot, and then went to her room to cry. Um. Was I ever 19 years old? (Don't go back to the beginning of this journal and rub it in my face, please.)


  • I went to Best Buy to get parts to make a new computer for my mom because it was the only place open on Saturday (seriously?). People had warned me their selection was bad, but I didn't realize that meant they don't actually stock motherboards and CPUs. So we had to rush-order from Amazon and I had to build the entire thing in the second half of my last day before my flight left at 4 am. Also, the prefab Dell box proved impossible to take apart because the back was riveted, not screwed, and we had to return to Best Buy for a shell. The cheapest they had was a low-end gaming case, gigantic, called 300 something, with space for six internal hard-drives, with two built-in fans and blue LEDs. It cost $80. The best anecdote of the trip happened then:

    The guy at the checkout lit up and asked me, "Are you sure you don't want the 900?" (The only other shell they stocked, even bigger, costing $130).

    "It's for her," I said, jerking a thumb at my mom.

    "Oh," he said. ":/."

    "This was the smallest one you had," I added.

    "The only one!" piped up Mom.

    "No, they had a bigger one, Mom. That's what he was talking about."

    "Oh. Was that what that box was?"


  • I tried to install a dual-boot with Xubuntu or Mint LXDE on my mom's eeepc, but kept running into an input/output error. I struggled with the errors for days, but when it came time to build the new box, ran out of time to try the next solution on the list (a reformat with a partition magic disk). So she doesn't really NEED it, but I left her with an eeepc that can only boot from live usb. :/


  • I struggled for a while to get mom's Windows wireless modem USB to work on the new Linux machine, but I had to fall into bed before I finished trying all the drivers on the CD. Meanwhile, I explained that Linux is a different format from Windows and Windows software won't just work in a Linux manchine and isn't even supposed to - twice. Or maybe three times. I ended up having to troubleshoot over the phone, and since my ultimate solution was that she should just buy a Linux-compatible modem or network card (they're not that expensive), I suggested she could use an ethernet cable in the meantime if she wanted.

    "I can just use an ethernet cable?" she asked.

    I explained that she could and how you could just plug one end into the computer and the other into the router. "Will it work on the computer though?" she said. "I don't know if I saw a plug for it."

    "Yes, it will work on basically any new computer; all motherboards usually have a plug, and this one definitely does. I put it in."

    Once we established that you can in fact plug multiple machines into a router or modem, she said "Oh! If I'd known I could do that I would never have wanted to use wireless in the first place!"

    She's been using wireless for years, guys.


  • I talked to her when I called my dad on Father's Day and she said how much she loves her new computer, (named ElizaBennett and running Linux Mint 10 Julia, which is based on Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick), because it's so nice "to just click something and it happens instead of having to wait for several minutes!"

    Yes, isn't it amazing? XD
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (workout)
I was having a couple of minor issues with Ubuntu Natty. Read more... ) The result of all this was that I could fix a lot of problems by falling back to an older OS: Samba working out of the box, just enable a compositor and install AWN and bam, good to go1. The only functionality I'm missing now is the ability to tweet from the panel/task manager. I imagine that that particular improvement from Natty will trickle down to daughter distros soon enough and in the meantime, I'm not in the habit of maximizing the browser anymore since my screen resolution is 1920; I've been running Twitter (Gwibber) on the left of the browser and chat (Pidgin) on the right.

I didn't actually like the panel-titlebar-menu integration: or rather, I like titlebar-menubar integration, but I don't like either or both of those things appearing in the panel. In fact, I prefer a setup that lacks a panel entirely, with everything showing up in a window-dodging dock or else a mini-panel in one corner (which is where I've got a digital clock and a logout button atm).


1. Actually I spent about two days configuring Linux Mint Isadora LXDE after I installed it, but that was because I've never really used any desktop but Gnome before so the learning curve was a trifle steeper.

2. I do recommend anyone using AWN uninstall the version from the repos and get the latest release instead. There are more useful applets for it as well as some nicer theming ability. I haven't gotten around to upgrading this one yet and am consequently lacking the play/pause, previous, and next buttons and the digital clock applet.

cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (dragon)
Thanks for everyone who left me FF tips! I was quite confused because FF4 was supposed to have the tab bar on top by default but it wasn't showing up that way no matter what I did with the settings, but apparently it was an Ubuntu Is In Beta, Guys issue, and it resolved itself after reboot, although the native skin is still showing a little glitch (an extra rounded top corner on top of the tab bar that intervenes between the tab and title bars), which I assume will vanish soon. While Natty is quite stable on my system, I'm still planning to try out Gnome 3 for the lulz.

Also, I don't want to give the impression that I dislike the clueless noob teachers, even when they're accidentally showing their privilege! They've all been really nice to me and I feel really welcomed and appreciated and am having a great exciting time every day. I used to think I preferred pre-school aged children to work with, but now I've definitely noticed that I prefer second graders (8-9 yrs) to first graders and also to fifth graders.

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