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2017-12-31Project Zebra 2017: WE KNOW THAT YOU CAN HEAR US EARTHMEN

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This entry is part of my Project Zebra series covering migration to Linux for personal computing use.

Ah yes, that mythical "next month" that turns into two or more. Ubuntu 18.04 is within sight but despite writing most of the entry below in November it's only now (late Jan 2018) getting around to being posted and backdated, due to a house sale completion and spending most of the intervening time trying to do it up (not done yet by a long shot, but it's habitable). I did already make an anniversary post, at least. I think it's fairly obvious any Project Zebra posts in 2018 won't necessarily be to any kind of schedule, but I am still enjoying keeping up with developments in the world of Linux and tinkering with it.

After a less-than-smooth 17.04 upgrade I was prepared for similar with 17.10 but it actually went fine, apart from preferences for a couple of applications (VLC and SMPlayer) needing to be cleared before they'd open again afterwards – with VLC I tried to be a bit more careful and it was a choice between deleting the contents of ~/.config/vlc altogether or parts of vlc-qt-interface.conf – and I'm not sure if it's a coincidence they're both the same type of application.

It was ultimately nothing to do with Linux but I ended up having to replace my monitor as it wasn't showing the login screen for a long time after resuming. At first I thought it was a graphics driver or hibernation issue since Grub didn't display on the larger DisplayPort driven monitor but the logon screen came up… I got as far as making sure the display manager was using an additional check parameter;

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/LightDM

However, the monitor wasn't actually responding to its own power button and eventually by the time it got to a desktop the top of the screen was flickering and taking a few minutes to settle down. Thinking back, it had been a slow progression from the BIOS not showing to the current situation, so it looks like the power/capacitors had degraded after six-and-a-half years.

Skimming articles such as this it might have been fixable, but it seemed like a good point to get a 1080p 24" one. I'm not keen on messing around with electricity or fire risks.

During the last few days before switching I set up a screensaver (3D matrix effect) rather than sending the monitor to sleep, which is a simple sudo apt-get install xscreensaver-gl and it takes over the xflock4 action from LightDM automatically. I have to say I like it, as it can still require a password and/or apparently do power management if you want, but it's clear that a session isn't being started. Or since the new monitor can be switched off completely by software, rather than just sent to sleep, the settings in Xfce Power Manager are all of a sudden relevant.

On the topic of LightDM, I came across this article; https://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/2414.html about the wisdom of display managers failing to implement desktop environment functionality.

Also in hardware news, after reading some conflicting opinions on how worthwhile it is, I've ticked "Using Processor microcode firmware for Intel CPUs" in Additional Drivers – https://wiki.debian.org/Microcode

Due to being busy with other stuff I haven't done much else, so here's a shorter then intended version of a post about developers alienating users with interface changes...

A few months ago, it got picked up by some tech news sites that the default text editor in Gnome, one of the most widely used Linux desktop environments, had lost its then-developers.

https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/08/05/025227/gnomes-text-editor-gedit-no-longer-maintained-needs-new-developers

Near the top of the comments someone gets to the crux of what the main issue could be considered to be;

Whereas it looks as if Windows and Mac users of gedit actually still have toolbars and/or menus: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Gedit/Screenshots and for people on the platform it originated on, someone else points out just below that Pluma is a fork that preserves gedit's traditional interface: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluma_(editor)#/media/File:Pluma_1.8.1.png

Maybe this is the future – Gnome, Firefox, et al commit suicide by UI, and forks (Cinnamon, Mate) or competitors (Chrome) pick up the baton. Maybe those responsible for tainting the projects get shorter shrift with the new ones, since part of the reason for re-founding was specifically them. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say "we can hope" but removing functionality or choosing poor defaults are the sort of things that can bring down otherwise stable projects and, whilst it's a shame for developers who've been involved with essentially feature-complete stuff seeing it brought low in its current form by others chasing a next big thing, at least forking is possible.

In the meantime, you could try using a text editor that's intended to be an IDE as well, as it's unlikely that people who use and develop those are UI hipsters. https://www.geany.org/

Elsewhere, Windows 10 is looking even more like KDE Plasma except more flat. Everything's cyclic, and there are some drop shadows now at least, but I hate flat designs at the best of times. And I have problems with white on dark text on large areas such as a taskbar panel if the contrast is too much, it really messes with accessibility. https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/06/08/announcing-windows-10-insider-preview-build-16215-pc-build-15222-mobile/

I'm leaving myself a note for when we end up on Win10 at work:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Accents\0\Theme0 32-bit DWORD = ffac815a to go with desktop rgb(58,110,165) and title bar #525e54

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize\ColorPrevalence 32-bit DWORD = 0|1

I dislike rounded corners on fundamentally square bits of UI such as windows and buttons too, so a take on the Vista/7 Aero glass I found that doesn't have them (link below) is actually quite appealing. It's not something I thought I'd have nostalgia for until 8 and later versions came out.

http://fediafedia.deviantart.com/art/Windows-8-Consumer-Preview-for-Win7-289207270


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