My experiences with Ubuntu GNOME

Looking for a GNOME 3 distribution that sticks to GNOME upstream is very difficult in a way. I like Debian, Ubuntu and the debian-based distributions out there. If you are a user that have come from Fedora to Ubuntu GNOME there’s a high chance you will see that there are differences between GNOME upstream and GNOME offered by Ubuntu.

Ubuntu does quite a lot of patching to offer their main flagship which is Ubuntu with Unity. Unity itself uses a lot of GNOME apps like Nautilus, gnome-control-center, etc.

The problem comes when you want something very specific like wanting the upstream version of Nautilus or gedit, that’s where you realize Ubuntu GNOME is sort of crippled not by the team that develops it but by Canonical itself. There’s just no way of providing upstream packages without it being altered or just using the PPAs which maybe ships vanilla packages.

Thus, it actually makes Ubuntu GNOME not a fit to the people who wants a true GNOME 3 experience.

I don’t particularly have any strong feelings on how Canonical/Ubuntu developers are handling these things. I believe that the Ubuntu GNOME team is great, the only way for Ubuntu GNOME to undo the patches is by setting up a PPA for each official release, which is totally feasible.

That said, I’m just contemplating on jumping to Fedora 22.

Fixing Spotify in Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet)

Only five days left till one of the major release of Ubuntu with codename: Vivid Vervet. I’ve been using 15.04 for a few months now, it’s by far one of the most stable releases I’ve used.

Ubuntu 15.04 brings a lot of internal changes like the change of upstart in favor of systemd.

I never realized that Spotify was broken in the sense that one of the dependencies were missing. The library libgcrypt11 is used by Spotify and it’s no longer available in Ubuntu 15.04 repositories.

You can “fix” this by just downloading the library from Utopic repositories:

$ wget http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/libg/libgcrypt11/libgcrypt11_1.5.3-2ubuntu4_amd64.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i libgcrypt11_1.5.3-2ubuntu4_amd64.deb

That’s it. Spotify will run as expected.

Honestly? I feel a miffed that Spotify doesn’t really care about Ubuntu users at all in the sense that the client is using rather incredibly old packages. The team stopped delivering updates, so yea maybe it’s time for Spotify to actually do a revision of the dependencies.

Using WINE or Virtual Box to run Spotify is extremely overkill.

Anyway, in other news congratulations to Canonical as Ubuntu is now touting a modest 20 million users, sweet!

Weekly Update: Site changes, a look at Fedora 21, and becoming a freelancer

There will be a few changes soon. I’m pretty sure Google algorithm is going to obliterate me thinking I’m some sort of a spam site. Recently I acquired a new domain name which I’ll be pushing forward this month along with a new blog theme. Some of the site’s posts will be reviewed and expunged.

That said. I’m loving my laptop, it might not be the best laptop in the world but I can tell you that the GNOME 3 experience does some good. (Until Plasma 5 becomes stable)

Some of you know that I love Debian and I’ve been using Debian based distributions for a while. I recently installed Fedora 21 on my laptop, my eye as a normal user see it as the following: it’s not that user-friendly, and why do I have to install a script called Fedy to end my griefs…. It’s a can of mixed feelings. Nothing I can’t handle though.

Anyway, I’m preparing myself to become a freelancer as a web developer and tackling traditional application using languages like C++, D, etc. But mainly I will be doing web development.

That’s all for now.

Ubuntu 14.10 privacy issues

There’s something that has been bothering me over the last three weeks. The default permissions offered by Ubuntu are incredibly permissive and anyone sharing a computer or laptop wanting to have some privacy is screwed by it.

How is it that a relative of mine can just enter my /home folder, snatch whatever file and do whatever he/she wants with it?

The notion itself is crazy, and I don’t know why Canonical haven’t addressed it. In a multiuser environment no one should read/write anything.

This is something OpenSUSE got right, something that Fedora also got right (as far as I remember). But Ubuntu? far from it.

I hope that someday they attend the issue; and yes, I realize I can tweak a few settings and chmod my home folder but that doesn’t make the fact that there is a privacy issue going on.

The key here is that average users have a right for privacy, regardless of their technical knowledge.

Pelican2Ghost plug-in released

Pelican2Ghost is a plugin for Pelican site static generator that generates a JSON file so you can import it in Ghost blogging platform.

How to use?
git clone git@github.com:allenskd/pelican2ghost.git

Open your pelicanconf.py and add

PLUGIN_PATHS = ['/my/base/path']
PLUGINS = ['pelican2ghost']

For more information please check pelican2ghost Github

I found a bug!

Please do not comment that you found a bug. I’d appreciate it if you could report it, here.

Thoughts on migrating from Pelican to Ghost blogging platform

Thoughts on migrating from Pelican to Ghost blogging platform

Finally, it took me a whole day to do the full migration but I’m finally back. I’m very much glad that this is over; I shudder at the thought of having more than 400 posts and needing to migrate to other blog/CMS system as it’s a very ardeous task in general, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly either.

Thoughts on Pelican

To those who don’t know Pelican is a static site generator. Recently I posted a few days ago that static site generators sucks in general and it has much to do with the fact that it doesn’t solve anything. It devolves to the idea that just writing markup formats such as Markdown and Textile is okay rather than making a better blogging software. When it comes to managing your posts, updating them or adding assets it dawns on you that maybe it wasn’t a great idea.

Ghost isn’t so bad in the resource consumption department. I have set up nginx and both combined just works quite well. Personally? I didn’t want to deal with WordPress either.

Pelican documentation for users and developers isn’t that good. It made the whole migration harder as I had to poke through every little class to know what I’m dealing with. There is even a broken signal that should have sufficed for this export called all_generators_finalized; sadly I never got to use it because Pelican doesn’t recognize it.

Thus, all in all a simple task became a time sucker–although let be honest, programming in general is time consuming.

Insights

Thoughts on migrating from Pelican to Ghost blogging platform

My little script only exports articles right now. I guess I should say that I only created it out of need, not because there’s demand. The exporter will create a file in the folder you decided to place Pelican base folder, for example mine is in /home/david/Projects/websites/dgzen and that’s where Pelican runs and create all the necessary files for it to sync it to the server.

So using that path the json dump is created in /home/david/Projects/websites/dgzen/ghost_export/pelican2ghost.json. Not hard to find, huh?

After you get the generated json file it’s time to go to your Ghost installation, and go to the Labs section http://my-panini-blog/ghost/settings/labs/.

Import the data, and that’s it.

As for any migration you have to take care of your assets (images, archives, etc).

One of the nuisances of importing to Ghost is that it doesn’t really throw errors or anything. It’s pretty much a “YUMMY! DATA, MUCH MUNCH. YUM YUM!” and it does so in a way that it would throw this message:

Cannot call method ‘replace’ of undefined

I guess my first reaction was: “I wonder if Ghost’s import method is broken…?”

It ended up being the fact that it was lacking the markdown key in the “posts” collection. I guess I should be thankful for my gut feeling.

Ghost also has a very interesting bug that when you export everything is scrambled in the content page All posts side panel. One might think they are sorting by date…. I don’t know why it’s not sorted by date.

Moving on

That’s it from me. I haven’t changed Ghost themes yet. I feel “safer” that it’s using SQLite as its backend so I don’t have to deal with dozens of markdown files.

I’ll be uploading the script today on Github. I’ll post about it when it becomes available.

Restoring data

If you are currently reading one of my How-To articles or downloading the WINE binaries for a game. My apologies, I’m currently restoring the data as I migrated everything to Ghost blogging platform.

It won’t take long; I’m just waiting for rsync to finish uploading all the data, then I’m off to tweak a few setting in nginx and I’m done.

I’d also like to announce that the script I used to migrate from Pelican to Ghost will be available.

April is here, so what’s new?

So recently I’ve been pondering on why is there’s such an overabundance of static site generators lately. I know it’s a trend I’ve been sucked into like an idiot.

So here’s the thing. For what it’s worth, static site generators are not the answer. I learned this in a slow, painful way.

I’m going to open this post with that: static site generators sucks in general. If you are doing pure writing, then yes, maybe, just maybe it’s the answer for you. Except, there’s no actual gain. Sure, you can tweak it here and there, that’s pretty much a feature most modern blogging tools provides you.

In truth, there’s no reason to use a generator. It won’t make you smarter, or increase your skills ten folds by using one. Maybe it might boost your ego a bit because you are using something average people don’t use.

So I’ll be moving this blog to a dynamic blogging platform. It might be wordpress, or text pattern, or Ghost. I’m still deciding which one.

As for the tone, my bad but I’d rather let people know how I feel sometimes about tools.

Now that that’s been said I had to stop Where’s my package Indicator development as the more I dug the more I became aware that the APIs offered were a different type of beast.

I have to do a few arrangements to prepare this site to migrate to whatever blogging platform I choose and that means handling assets is going to be a pain.

I’ve some ideas cooking as well, my quest on learning C++ hasn’t stopped either so we are good in that area.

My experience with GNOME 3 so far in 2015

Those who have wanted to do serious work with linux knows the frustrations that it lacks good ecosystem. Canonical is doing an amazing good job in bringing a sane ecosystem to the table. GNOME 3 is also bringing good things with its somewhat crippled version of user experience.

KDE is sort of… staying behind, I won’t lie I love KDE dearly. Sadly, whenever it comes to using KOrganize it dawns on you that KDE, while it’s an amazing desktop environment it’s not financially backed like GNOME or Ubuntu are. (As far as I remember)

And then there’s the user who swears to God all the users need is i3/openbox/whatever anorexic windows manager they are using these days.

GNOME, KDE, and Unity targets different audiences. In terms of usability KDE and Unity are up there, in my opinion. GNOME requires you to waste your time learning things that should be intuitive from the very start.

But well, my post won’t mean much to GNOME designers or developers. I remember reading that GNOME itself is losing users and it shows from recent polls that KDE is on top. It certainly doesn’t help that GNOME developers have dismissed user complaints as “people hate change”. Truly, something that will probably haunt them for a few years until eventually GNOME hits the stage that it becomes usable again. Maybe GNOME 4?

Anyway, we all know OS X has a very powerful ecosystem through its devices. Microsoft has done a lot to catch up with Surface, Windows Phone, etc.

Canonical also wants a piece of that cake with Ubuntu phone, so does Google.

I personally can’t wait to use an Ubuntu phone myself. I think most of us are looking forward to is “will it be usable enough that I can share my data (photos, videos, documents) easily with almost no tinkering?”

That’s the question!

I’ve been harsh about GNOME 3, and yes they do deserve all the friction they are getting.

GNOME 3 can still make it though. I feel like out of all the DEs available both Unity and GNOME 3 will be the ones pushing forward a better ecosystem.

So let me talk to you about my experiences so far with GNOME 3.

I started using it a week ago, note that this is my third attempt to use GNOME 3. I’ve become more “accepting” yet not so submissive to say that GNOME 3 is heading the right way. First, let’s talk about workflow.

GNOME 3 Workflow

GNOME 3 isn’t your traditional DE, we know that. What you don’t know however is that you have been actively stopping yourself from giving GNOME 3 a chance. GNOME 3 workflow takes a bit of learning because more than often you are required to memorize the key bindings.

Note that GNOME 3 itself does a very, very awful job in showing itself how it works. For example, in my first try of GNOME 3 I didn’t know the message panel that is at the bottom hidden existed.

Now, my workflow is incredibly simple and I find that “abusing” workspaces comes at a great price of having your desktop organized and task related. For example, in my first workspace I have Thunderbird which I use for my day to day communication. In my second workspace I might have Rhythmnbox or Spotify running. In my third workspace I have development related applications running such as vim, terminals, etc. On my fourth workspace I have Google Chrome running to go back and forth in terms of research, etc.

It sounds insane, right? How can I possible keep up with all these workspaces? Well, let me introduce you to the Super + Page Up / Super + Page Down keybindings. They are the ones responsible to switch workspaces. You can also turn on the workspace indicator through Gnome Tweak Tool. The keybinding also works inside the dash, meaning you can use it, then rapidly switch to alt + tab to select the application you want.

But that’s not all.

In terms of window management you can use Super + D to hide all windows, which is incredibly useful if you have a lot of windows in one workspace.

Also, you don’t have to do the resizing manually, sort of. You can use Super + Arrow Keys, where are left and right will resize the window half-screen and to their respective alignment.

There’s also alt+f2 which allows you to execute commands.

So what happens when a window lands in a workspace you don’t want? Well, let me tell you that all you have to do is use Super + Shift + Page Down / Page Up to move it wherever you want in the workspaces.

Finally, for fully task-oriented desktop turn on alt-tab only for current applications in a workspace using the command

:::bash
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-switcher current-workspace-only true

Saving space

I realize that the header bar the DE sports is a bit bulky. Honestly? I think if you sit down and appreciate for a moment that you run all your applications at max size you’ll learn very quickly that there’s a lot of space that’s been saved. All you have if the top bar that has an Activities button, date, and the indicator tray.

In this, GNOME 3 shines in saving space regardless on how bulky the application looks.

Some visuals, because everyone loves visuals!

Remember to right-click and open the images in a new tab!

Desktop

Not much to show here, just a fake busy desktop.

Cool features

I’m a fan of WWE and wrestling in general. I love that stuff. I find that being able to keep communicating through the message tray panel is incredibly handy. I just wish that Empathy offered a more polished experience. The UI feels incredibly lacking.

Remote Desktop

Both Ubuntu/Unity and GNOME 3 offers hassle-free screen sharing through VNC. These features works out of the box without any additional package. I’ve connected back and forth through VNC in my household and as always if you are in the family room or somewhere else chilling out or doing a different activity, connecting remotely is always the answer.

dropbox1
dropbox2

Dropbox is a very critical application for me. I’m still waiting for Google Drive to appear, geez.

Online Accounts

You have seen these countless times. I think it’s important for me to say that this feature here is what will keep the average joe glued to GNOME 3. Hassle-free seamless integrating through the plethora of GNOME applications is and will be one of the key features.

Rhythmbox

Now with soundcloud support 🙂

Conclusion

GNOME 3 may very well still rough around the corners. Let’s just hope that GNOME designers start listening to their userbase instead of ignoring them. As for me? I’m keeping GNOME in my laptop. I don’t have any real reason to remove it. Everything works as it’s supposed.

And to those wondering, I’m using Ubuntu GNOME 15.04.