Showing posts with label ubuntu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ubuntu. Show all posts

Thursday, December 12, 2013

From Gnome to Cinnamon

Gnome 2 and 3

Ubuntu with Gnome 2
Ubuntu with Unity
After moving to Ubuntu GNU/Linux for all my work, in 2009, I used the default interface, Gnome 2, for a while.  Later, with version 3, Gnome moved to a completely new concept, but Ubuntu forked the development and moved to Unity, so I did that too.  

Gnome 3

Gnome 2 and Unity both had their virtues and their flaws.  The six-monthly upgrade cycle ("cadence") was never as smooth as it should be, so there have often been niggles that lasted a few weeks or months.  I didn't like Unity's two different search boxes.
Ubuntu with Gnome 3
I started using the Gnome Shell, ver. 3, on Linux (Ubuntu) after seeing my friends and colleagues using it at the TeX conference in Trivandrum in 2011.  I really liked Gnome 3, but with the update from 3.6 to 3.8 and 3.10, they did some major, major things wrong, and I've finally dumped it, in favour of Cinnamon.

The biggest boo-boo in the development of Gnome from version 3.8, was fooling with the default file-manager, Nautilus.  Many people have complained about the stripping out of function, like split-screen, and that was bad enough.  So was the nonsense about shifting the menus to the panel bar (or not!).  But what hasn't got mentioned so much (at all?) is that the new Nautilus changed all the keyboard shortcuts and rearranged the shortcuts relating to the menu system.  So Alt-F didn't bring up a "File" menu any more, for  example.  Right mouse-click+R didn't begin renaming a file.  If one uses computers all day, then one's fingers get trained, and no interface designer should mess with that stuff without expecting backlash.  With Nautilus 3.8, it was like being a beginning typist again, looking at my fingers, chicken-pecking for keys.

I liked the general design model of Gnome 3, with the corner switch to the meta level for choosing programs, desktops, and so on.  Searching for lesser-used programs with a few keystrokes rather than poking hopelessly through nested menus.  Much better.  A genuine and valuable contribution to the vision of how a computer should work.

Thanks to Webupd8, I was able to work around the Nautilus problem by uninstalling it and using Nemo instead.

But things just kept going wrong.  The shell crashed too often.  On two of my machines it stopped coming up at login, and had to be started manually.  Only after a couple of weeks did I track this down to a bad file in ~/.config/gnome-session (and I'm still not 100% sure).  Frequent crashes of the gnome-control-panel and other utilities.  More and more extraordinary tweaking to make it comfortable and useable.  Finally, I've had enough.



Ubuntu with Cinnamon
I'm in my first few days of using Cinnamon, and so far things are okay.  I'm running Cinnamon on top of Ubuntu.  It's like stepping back in time, a bit, all those menus.  But one doesn't have to use them, and with a bit of tweaking one can set things up so that actual shell behaviour is very similar to Gnome 3.6.  Nemo is there - what a relief.  Alacarte actually works, but I've dumped it in favour of Menulibre in any case.  Configuration and tweaking is much nicer.  Many useful add-ons, and although I liked the system, Cinnamon handles the add-on business in a much more integrated way.  Ibus+m17n work as expected again.  In general, it's an update from Gnome 2 in the direction of Gnome 3 but not the whole way.  And it seems more stable, which is critical to getting work done.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Checklist of things to do on reinstalling Ubuntu

I'm finally moving to 64 bit Linux (since all my machines are fine with that).  My disks have my /home and root files in different partitions, so I can erase and reinstall Linux itself without touching any of "my" files.  This works flawlessly, and the new installation comes up with all my old desktop settings etc.  Since the Ubuntu Software Center's "sync" function still doesn't work properly, here are some installations and customizations that I like:

Friday, June 08, 2012

Xapian niceness

In older Linuxes, if xapian indexing is sucking up all your CPU cycles, here's a fix:
I believe this is long ago fixed in Ubuntu releases and doesn't need to be done manually.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A gold star for Gnome 3

When Canonical decided that Ubuntu would have a new user-interface, "Unity," to replace Gnome 2, there was a lot resistance and discontent in the Ubuntu user community.  Gnome 2 was a drop-down (or pop-up) menu system, harking back in a general way to the familiar Windows interface.

People who didn't like Unity could easily just go on using Gnome 2, at least for the foreseeable future (and switch to MATE after Gnome 2).

But the other alternative was to use Gnome 3, the official successor to Gnome 2.  Gnome 3 and Unity have quite a lot in common.  In fact, and it's clear that the Unity user interface is - broadly speaking - based on the same thinking as Gnome 3 about where user interfaces might be going.

As is documented in this blog, I was willing to give Unity a shot, and I even quite liked it.  But I had a lot of technical difficulties with Unity, so I decided to try Gnome 3.

Now I've been using Gnome 3 for nearly six months, and I'm very much at home with it.  And I'd like to put in a good word.  Recently, I had to work briefly with the old  Gnome 2 menus, and I couldn't believe how slow and fiddly the old interface now felt, after being thoroughly used to Gnome 3.

So, from me, at least, a gold star for Gnome 3.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

T500+ubuntu 11.10 = slow wifi network access

News, November 2012: 

The problem described below went away with the upgrade to Ubuntu 12.10 (Linux kernel 3.5).  Thank goodness, and high time.

There's a bug between the Thinkpad T500 and wireless n transmission.

Bug discussion here, fix here, thanks to Damon:

sudo rmmod iwlagn
sudo echo "options iwlagn 11n_disable=1" > /etc/modprobe.d/disable11n.conf
sudo modprobe iwlagn

Friday, October 28, 2011

Oneiric Ocelot upgrade woes

My main desktop machine got in a terrible mess during the Oneiric update.  Could have been my fault - I started the update and then left the machine for two days.  When I got back to it, it was frozen, and on hard reboot it wouldn't boot.  Finally, I got it back by booting from a USB stick and then using chroot to get a pseudo-login as root on the hard disk.
Having a network connection, that enabled me to clean up the system with dpkg and apt-get, so I fetched all the latest versions of everything and updated and upgraded tidily.  But still couldn't get a boot because of an obscure network problem with connecting to the bus.  Finally solved by these (weirdly written) instructions:
Now up and running, amazingly.


and another thing...

The compiz grid feature developed a fault about putting a window on the top-right of the screen.  Solution is here:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Ubuntu Evince menu fonts turn to garbage

Grr, recurrence of the old, old problem that the Evince menus turn to little squares like this:


sudo mv /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.evince ~/
sudo /etc/init.d/apparmor restart

Friday, August 26, 2011

printer driver

Ubuntu, HP LJ 1300 - use the Gutenprint or the Foomatic/pxlmono driver.  Not CUPS or HPLIP.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ubuntu / dropbox

 If you get the warning
Unable to monitor filesystem
Please run "echo 100000 | sudo tee /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches" and restart Dropbox to correct the problem.
here's one way to increase the default value of /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches at startup, so one doesn't have to do it manually at every boot.

As root (or with sudo), create a file


with the contents


Reboot, or run "sudo service procps start".

That's it!