I’m running Fedora 21 with Wayland, and so far (almost) everything is working just fine

 I'm running Fedora 21 with GNOME 3.14 and the Wayland display server. Everything is minimized at the moment.
I’m running Fedora 21 with GNOME 3.14 and the Wayland display server. Everything is minimized at the moment.

After saying I wouldn’t jump into a Fedora 21 upgrade, I rather quickly had a change of heart and mind, ran a Fedup upgrade and am now running Fedora 21 on my go-to HP Pavilion g6 laptop.

With Wayland.

Yep, one of the new features of the GNOME 3.14-running Fedora 21 is a preview of the next-generation, post-X Window Wayland display manager, and you can choose “GNOME with Wayland” in the login/session manager.

I’m running Wayland right now. I’ve heard the caveat many times: Not all applications will work in Wayland. But so far, every application I’ve tried (Firefox, Gedit, Transmission, FileZilla, VLC, Files/Nautilus, Liferea, Yumex, Google Chrome, Geany, even apps in Wine) has run in Wayland with no trouble.

I’ve been running Fedora 21 for a few days now, spending most of my time in the non-Wayland world of Xfce and GNOME with X, and the system is as solid as ever. And by that I mean pretty damn solid.

The only glitch I’ve had with Wayland has been in suspend/resume, which is pretty touchy anyway with my hardware. (I’ve probably written 50 posts about it since I got this laptop.) When running Wayland, the laptop will suspend and then resume, but I’m seemingly “detached” from my session and have to log in again. At this point I’m logged in twice. This doesn’t happen in X. If this is the only thing I can find wrong with Wayland, I’ll still consider it pretty remarkable.

Just from a “look and feel” perspective, GNOME 3.14 is working better and faster than version 3.10 did in Fedora 20. I’m not saying I’m going to throw Xfce over for it, but the environment is more usable than ever. I moved to the Adiwata Dark theme while still in F20, and everything looks that much better in F21.

As I’ve said since I began running Fedora 18 on this laptop and upgrading via Fedup to each subsequent release, a system as forward-looking as Fedora shouldn’t be anywhere near as stable as it is. It’s a tribute to the developers for Fedora and the many upstream projects that go into the distribution.

Today marks only nine days since Fedora 21 went stable, and my system is running like a well-maintained watch.

So if you think of yourself as the adventurous type, someone who likes everything to be pretty new all the time but doesn’t really want to deal with a lot of breakage and is curious about Wayland in the real world, give Fedora 21 a try.

Later: You know what got fixed in Fedora 21 that was broken in F20? Mounting of Apple iOS 8 devices.

The Adiwata Global Dark theme is enough to get me using GNOME 3

Here is my Fedora 20 desktop running Files (aka Nautilus), Gedit and GNOME Terminal with the Adiwata Global Dark theme, which is easy to invoke with the GNOME Tweak Tool.
Here is my Fedora 20 desktop running Files (aka Nautilus), Gedit and GNOME Terminal with the Adiwata Global Dark theme, which is easy to invoke with the GNOME Tweak Tool.

Through the GNOME Tweak Tool, I discovered the GNOME 3 Adiwata Global Dark Theme, which makes GNOME 3 looks so good, I find myself wanting to use it, leaving Xfce aside for the time being.

You select the Global Dark Theme via GNOME Tweak Tool as seen here.
You select the Global Dark Theme via GNOME Tweak Tool as seen here.

It’s not all sweet darkness. GNOME 3 is GTK3-centric, and since Firefox uses GTK2, it’s not dark.
While there are ways to “force” Firefox to go dark, it’s much easier to find a new Firefox theme. I looked at a bunch and settled on one called Dark Black. Unfortunately, the title bar stays white, but you can’t have everything:

Firefox with the Dark Black theme. Note that the title bar stays in the light Adiwata theme from GNOME 3.
Firefox with the Dark Black theme. Note that the title bar stays in the light Adiwata theme from GNOME 3.

Google Chrome goes its own way, too, and I was able to go to the Chrome themes page and find a few darker choices. I settled for Dark Vibe, and now when using Chrome I’m keeping the darkness of the overall GNOME 3 Dark Theme.

This is Google Chrome with the Dark Vibe theme. It's dark. Maybe a little too dark to "match" the rest of the GNOME Adiwata Dark theme. I'll look for something that is not quite so dark.
This is Google Chrome with the Dark Vibe theme. It’s dark. Maybe a little too dark to “match” the rest of the GNOME Adiwata Dark theme. I’ll look for something that is not quite so dark.

Later: Thanks to a reader in the comments below, I was introduced to the Htitle extension for Firefox, which makes the glaringly white header bar go away when using GNOME 3 in full-screen (aka maximized) mode. Here’s what Firefox looks like on my system now:

The HTitle Extension for Firefox by Alexander Seleznev makes the top title bar go away. It's great to make Firefox look more integrated with GNOME 3.
The HTitle Extension for Firefox by Alexander Seleznev makes the top title bar go away if your browser window is maximized. It’s a great way to make Firefox look more integrated with GNOME 3.

Hammering hard on Xfce 4.10 in Fedora 20

So I’m working from home today and doing the full $dayjob breaking-news production routine (anything that nine websites throws at me plus other assorted sundries) in Fedora 20 with Xfce 4.10. When I’m at the office, I usually split the load between a monster ThinkCentre machine (8 GB RAM, AMD CPU with 4 cores) running Windows 7 and this less powerful laptop with Fedora/Xfce (3 GB RAM, AMD APU with 2 cores).

But today I only have the laptop.

First, my latest software change: It’s been getting more and more difficult to run the AMD Catalyst driver in Fedora. For the past month and then some, running Google Chrome would crash X if I didn’t start it with just the right command switch. Then Firefox started crashing X if I opened up certain web sites in a new tab. File that under “time to ditch Catalyst.”

So I pulled the AMD Catalyst packages I’ve been using from Fedora 19, and I’m back on the open-source Radeon driver. Surprisingly, I don’t detect any decrease in graphics performance (but I’ll get back to you when I try to watch a few more videos), and the laptop doesn’t appear to be running any hotter.

Of course there is no suspend/resume with Radeon on this hardware (AMD A4-4300M APU with AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics).

But weighing fairly regular browser crashes against working suspend/resume when I have to get work done means Radeon kills Catalyst (for the time being).

That said, when I do this kind of production work, I run a couple of applications over Citrix (which is worse for the networking than it is for the CPU), a couple of browsers with a couple dozen tabs, FileZilla, the IrfanView image editor under Wine, Gedit, Thunar and a few more things here and there.

Xfce makes it easy to manage this many applications and windows. I doubt I could do as well or as quickly with GNOME 3.

Why am I mentioning GNOME 3 at all? Now that I’m no longer running Catalyst, I am able to run GNOME 3 once again in Fedora. In case you haven’t been following along, GNOME 3 doesn’t run with Catalyst in Fedora 20 because GNOME is built to be Wayland compatible, and that makes it fail spectacularly when using the Catalyst driver.

So while I’ve been dabbling in GNOME 3, for real work it’s still Xfce all the way.

Later that day: First of all, like the days before I figured out fglrx/Catalyst, full-screen video in VLC pushes both CPU cores to 70+%, sending the fans whirring like crazy and slightly “stilting” the video. And rebooting on this system without Catalyst, for some reason (probably modifications to GRUB that aren’t undone when the package is removed) got to be a bit dicey, with a black screen the result more times than not.

So I caved, returned to AMD Catalyst with the Fedora 19 packages, and enjoyed full-screen video in the usual way (not straining the CPU). Plus, I get back suspend/resume. And the ability to reboot at will.

The next day: I have to return to Windows for Citrix’s sake.

Jordi Mallach: Why GNOME should be the default desktop environment in Debian Jessie — and why I agree

gnome-logo2Jordi Mallach details in a post I found via Google Plus why GNOME should remain the default desktop environment in Debian Jessie despite the usual switch to Xfce prompted by a desire to keep the ISO image at CD size.

There’s more. And it’s not just image size: Most use Debian’s netinstall image, which is always much smaller than a traditional data CD, and I think many if not most have access to a DVD drive or bypass optical media entirely for USB flash drives, so size doesn’t matter as much as it might.

The dust-up over GNOME 3’s controversial desktop is nothing new. Many will never like it. Cue irony: Windows 8, UI-wise, is as crazy as GNOME 3. They make the current Mac OS X desktop look positively old-school. That’s probably drawing more to OS X than it is the other direction (to GNOME and Windows 8).
Continue reading “Jordi Mallach: Why GNOME should be the default desktop environment in Debian Jessie — and why I agree”

How to stop GNOME 3 in Fedora 19 from suspending the laptop when the lid is closed

I thought you could take care of turning off suspend when the laptop lid is shut under GNOME 3 by using GNOME Tweak Tool. That doesn’t work.

Automatic suspend when the lid is closed doesn’t work for me because suspend/resume doesn’t function on my HP hardware, and I’d like to close the damn lid every once in awhile without having to do a hard boot afterward.

It’s the little things.

So I dug in a bit and found out in the Fedora Forum what you have to do (thanks to forum poster jvroig):

In a terminal:

su -
cd /etc/systemd/
gedit logind.conf

Once you’re in logind.conf, uncomment (i.e. remove the #) on this line:

#HandleLidSwitch=suspend

Then change “suspend” to “lock”

It should now read like this:

HandleLidSwitch=lock

Save and close the logind.conf file.

Once you reboot, closing the lid should lock the screen and not suspend the laptop.

Note: Xfce doesn’t suffer from the same inability as GNOME 3 to control what happens when you close the laptop lid.

Alternate instructions if you want to use vi and sudo:

Open a terminal and type:

$ sudo vi /etc/systemd/logind.conf

Change this line:

#HandleLidSwitch=suspend

to this (remove #, replace suspend with lock):

HandleLidSwitch=lock

Save and close the file in vi, then reboot.

I like what GNOME 3 and Unity are doing, so I’m replicating those things in Xfce

It sounds screwy, but I’m taking some of the elements I like in GNOME 3 and Unity and implementing them in Xfce.

First of all, I really like the idea of having a panel on the left side of the screen for my application launchers. Given that laptops are now widescreen and there is not enough vertical space but plenty of horizontal space, it makes sense to have the application launchers consume as little horizontal real estate as possible.

So in Xfce, I moved the lower panel to the left. That was an easy one.

The other thing I like about both GNOME 3 and Unity is the ability to click the “Windows” or Super key and then type in the first few letters of an application to launch it.

Xfce already has a great application finder that does this. On Fedora with Xfce, it’s configured to open with alt-F2 and alt-F3. I went into the Xfce keyboard configuration and set the Windows/Super key to open this same application finder. Now I can click Super/Windows, type in a few letters and have my desired app open without going through the menu. Just like in GNOME and Unity.

Of course my favorite apps are already in my panel on the left. But for those that are not, this is a nice feature to borrow/steal from GNOME 3 and Unity.

That Xfce can replicate this behavior says a lot about what you can do with this lightweight, stable and very configurable desktop environment.

I’m adding GNOME to my Fedora 19 Xfce desktop

It’s been months — probably six months — since I installed Fedora 18 with Xfce on this then-new HP laptop.

The main reasons for choosing both Fedora and Xfce were the newness of the hardware. Fedora is constantly getting new kernels, and Xfce didn’t require 3D acceleration. The open-source Radeon video driver still can’t do 3D with the AMD chip in this laptop (the AMD Radeon HD 7420G). Still.

But now that I have 3D with the proprietary AMD Catalyst driver (not something I choose willingly because the open-source driver is easier and more sane to use and maintain), I can use GNOME 3/Shell if I wish.

I’ve enjoyed these many months in Xfce, which used to seem less evolved than GNOME 2 but now seems more evolved than the still-forming GNOME 3.

The addition of GNOME to this Fedora system doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of Xfce. Both will be available on this system, and like I did before in Debian Squeeze, I’ll probably switch between the two.

The only tutorial I could find on how to add all of GNOME after the fact to Fedora was wrong, so here is my mini tutorial on how to do it in Fedora 19.

Open a terminal and enter the following ($ is the prompt, so don’t type that):

$ sudo yum groupinstall "GNOME Desktop"

That’s it. Then log out and log back in with GNOME as your desktop choice. I’m going to do it right now.

Later: GNOME 3 is working. It’ll be there for me to play with, but I had more trouble than usual with my company’s terrible Citrix-delivered application, so I’m back in comfortable ol’ Xfce.

Just as before, I don’t find GNOME 3 to be a resource hog, and I like its keyboard controls. I find no reason to be excited about things like GNOME Documents.

Nothing’s changed for me from the last time I had both GNOME 3 and Xfce available on the same system. I like both environments, and I expect to use both going forward.

Best post on what’s new in GNOME 3.8 comes from OMG Ubuntu!

This is the new Classic mode in GNOME 3.8. It should bring back many of the GNOME 2.x comforts while retaining features of GNOME Shell for those who want to use them. (Image courtesy of OMGUbuntu!)

Want to know what’s new in the GNOME 3.8 desktop environment? This OMG Ubuntu! post is the best look at the best new features in the desktop that I use every day (though I’m still in GNOME 3.4.2, as that is what Debian is shipping).

I like the idea that I can tap my Frequent apps in a tab and not have to put too much in the dock on the left side of the screen. I like GNOME Shell best when I only have about seven or eight items in the dock — they look bigger (and better).

I’ll be looking for the mentioned improvements in the Documents app. I like the idea of editing Google Drive documents through the app instead of in a browser. Maybe it’ll work.

I also am eager to see all the promised tweaks that are aimed at making the GNOME Shell experience better. I’m not unhappy in 3.4, but I expect a lot out of 3.8.

The application view in GNOME 3.8 has a Frequent Apps tab that remembers what you use most so you can get to it more quickly. (Image courtesy OMGUbuntu!)

Ubuntu shouldn’t matter to those who care about free desktops

So Canonical is chaining its desktop Ubuntu Linux distribution to a phone/tablet/TV future, and they want us, the community, to write apps for their in-the-works devices and not care so much about the core operating system itself.

That’s OK.

If you really care about free (as in freedom) desktop computing, upstream is where you should be. Not an upstream just for Ubuntu Phone/Tablet, but an upstream for every(damn)body.

The projects that make up the Linux (and BSD) desktop need you. They want your participation as coders, documentation writers, advocates and plain ol’ users.
Continue reading “Ubuntu shouldn’t matter to those who care about free desktops”