Project Zebra 2017 month one: in nomine imperator

A quick note on TrueCrypt

2017-02-15Project Zebra 2017 month two: slide!


Tags All Personal Tech

Linux and I are getting along alright, touch wood.

In 2017 news there’s a new major release version for Wine, mainly of interest as Office 2013 support is claimed (which I have a legit copy of).

Other than that it’s waiting for things like LibreOffice 5.3 and Wayland to turn up in the distro I’m using (April at the earliest) and fine tuning choice of software. So I thought I’d look back a bit.

I didn’t really mention the re-jigging partitions I did when removing the main Windows install from my desktop. Basically I started with the Linux partitions at the end of the disk, after Windows and a couple of data partitions. Copying the Linux OS partition was straightforward enough but as mentioned previously creating a new swap partition did require updating the conf file for uswsusp, and the instructions for updating the fstab file might be a little fiddly for new users. I’d definitely suggest a fresh start with your Linux partitions as the first ones on the drive is the better way to go if practical. Otherwise, info here:

Something else to bear in mind if you have lots of partitions to shuffle around and are using the older MBR standard for partitioning (such as if you’re coming from 32-bit Windows) is that you may need to work around the four partition (traditionally three normal, one extended) limit:

I’ve now got a “terabyte” drive (i.e. 930GiB in real units) split 60GiB Ext4 for the OS, 20GiB for swap (a bit wasteful since there’s not that much RAM to suspend to disk plus it gets compressed) and the rest an NTFS data partition, with no need for an extended partition. Windows only exists in virtual machines, and on a dual boot Win10/Xubuntu laptop that isn’t happy in Windows because normal services are constantly pegging the CPU at high levels.

I currently use Deja Dup to backup my /home/ directory up onto my data partition weekly (retaining changes for several months) which itself gets sync backed up daily. There’s application config in other folders, but nothing that can’t be fairly easily recreated from the notes I’m making in this and other entries. However, since I was writing this, I figured I should take a quick look for a more in-depth solution, and this rates highly;

I’m not in a hurry, but am inclined to sit down with it when time allows to cover certain other folders I’ve modified things in before I lose track completely. Memo to self:

Speaking of losing track of tweaks… there’s an extra setting you can add in GRUB (or Grub Customizer in my case) to standardise the preboot menu time. Since the OS can record a “fail” to boot in a range of circumstances (eg, hibernating) and otherwise defaults to 30 seconds, I find this preferable personally.


And I should update on something I mentioned in my original big post last year… whilst you can do things like “sudo thunar” or “sudo mousepad” you do need to watch out for file ownership. It’s safer and more consistent to (install if necessary and) use gksudo:

Elsewhere but still in Linux news, setting up a Windows PC for my other half, the easiest way to upgrade from the small SSD I’d left in it to a larger drive was with a Linux live CD and an external case/interface. I don’t know whether it’s good practice to use dd to copy partition structure then cancel out and use GpartEd as a front end on ntfsclone so that it’s easy to tell where it is in the process, but it worked fine. Windows 7 is okay-ish until 2020. Windows 8.1 would run until Jan 2023, but we’ll cross that bridge then.

Bug news: I looked a bit further into ExFAT support, which on Linux is an example of things not being quite there yet… read/write is possible, but exfatfsck can only check these file systems, not repair them.

Also on file systems, I liked that on plugging in an Android device it was immediately accessible in the file manager. MTP mounting randomly stopped working though – in this experimental phase I’m applying updates more or less as soon as available, so it was possibly after updating some Ubuntu core libraries. MTP is apparently buggy as hell anyway, so the surprise might be that it ever worked. I’ve tried a couple of cables, and that didn’t seem to make a difference. Something to revisit when 17.04 comes out.

And as of the last update Chromium and Chrome have acquired a “small fonts” issue – they don’t respect the system font size for menus and tab text. Not a show-stopper, and Google have been messing around with the Chrome interface on all platforms for years, often unreasonably, but it does annoy.

Mags: previously I’d mentioned and there are other mags officially on-line (mostly that don’t do print editions) such as

Additionally, current first result for “linux magazine pdf” is a library that probably isn’t supposed to be a crawled site; and I’m surprised by what’s on

Software round up: I still haven’t looked at the stuff I made a note to last month. I’ve installed qpdfview to use instead of of Foxit or Evince for PDFs, though, and it’s much nicer and more similar to Adobe Reader in the good old classic layout days. Just remember to turn on prefetch in the options for quick rendering of multi page documents when you’re flicking through them.

I finally got around to testing my scanner properly – an older USB powered Canon model, which was recognised without any setup and the Simple Scan utility included with Xubuntu works fine with, saving equally easily to PDF or a batch of JPEGs or PNGs.

I also had another quick squizz at Clementine (a media player) to see if did file/folder browsing well enough to use, but it doesn’t seem to. Although Deadbeef is decent, I’m strongly considering (have already decided, really) the Foobar2000 under Wine route suggested in a round up of audio players with folder structure browsing that all sound like they perform badly by comparison:

Foobar2000 does it all – folder browsing and a good library interface – with no GUI frills and the ability to use the vlevel plugin mentioned in last month’s blog entry for keeping volume consistent. Restoring the theme/layout file I backed up from my Windows install worked flawlessly. That file's here if you want it as a starting point.

It doesn’t work to minimise to tray, I assume due to the way the Xfce panel works, but the “close minimizes” hidden in the advanced options does and it’s a small loss. I might have a further play with KDocker on the panel inclusion as it has options other than simply minimising to tray, but it doesn’t seem to be as simple as prefixing the POL shortcut with “kdocker -t” as that targets and has no effect. Preventing accidental closes is almost as good for my usage, though, and helpfully shows the track currently playing.

Global hotkeys? Yes – for starters, as this thread reminds, Foobar2000 has command line options that can be used: (but read on for a way to just pass keystrokes).

wine [foobar2000 path]/foobar2000.exe /pause
wine [foobar2000 path]/foobar2000.exe /next
wine [foobar2000 path]/foobar2000.exe /prev

So for PlayOnLinux (assuming an assisted install of Foobar2000) that would be:

/usr/share/playonlinux/playonlinux --run "Foobar2000" "/pause"
/usr/share/playonlinux/playonlinux --run "Foobar2000" "/next"
/usr/share/playonlinux/playonlinux --run "Foobar2000" "/prev"

It’s not very responsive – and steals focus for a second whilst it runs – but does work reliably. You may want to note an “adds a space” caveat if trying to pass filenames:

A far better way of achieving this is to pass input through to the window using xdotool, which is in the Ubuntu repositories at time of writing and essentially a swiss army knife for some of things AutoHotKey or AutoIt might be used for under Windows. And it works basically the same way for Wine applications as other ones.

So to bind Win+Insert to “play or pause” in Foobar2000, I first set up a global hotkey in the Wine app with that shortcut (it’s important to do this first!) and then using the same key combo in the Settings app in the Keyboard section, run the shell script below. As HTG notes it doesn’t seem to work without being in a script.

And I like to use Win+Delete and Win+End for previous and next track, respectively. Win+Home, Win+PgUp and Win+PgDn are mute, volume up and volume down respectively, for which see my December blog.

The PlayOnLinux install script sets the hideous Royale theme, but that’s easily turned off. And I also changed the Wine background colour from the classic Windows #D4D0C8 to #E4E4E0 to fit with my desktop theme, as I’m used to the lighter bluer grey by now, and the font in Foobar2000 to Noto Sans 8.

But yeah, love this player. I think it’s unparalleled on any platform for what I want.


Tags All Personal Tech