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2023-04-29 📌 Project Zebra: And thus, the Cyclopean nightmares

Tags All Linux Tech Personal

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

Title reference: a Guardian article I was apparently reading about the London Olympics around a decade ago, and just found again. Neither mascot had anything on Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat, unofficial mascot of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but I've got the metal figure of Wenlock dressed as a police monster on my desk because it seemed appropriate to a job role at the time.

Since the 22.10 upgrade I had some issues with browsers not selecting the default audio device. I'm not sure if it was a factor, but apparently Kubuntu (like Ubuntu) added PipeWire and WirePlumber in 22.10 but didn't remove existing packages. The first thing I did was remove an unused USB sound device to reduce the variables involved, leaving the built in audio and a USB headset.

Then looking at this Lubuntu article I added alsa + jack + vlc pipewire plugins, removed pulseaudio and pulseaudio bluetooth packages and explicitly started pipewire with:

systemctl --user enable --now pipewire && systemctl --user enable --now wireplumber && systemctl --user enable --now pipewire-pulse

Touch wood I haven't had further issues. Pipewire seems a reasonable drop-in replacement for the other sound systems and as always there's a useful write-up on the Arch wiki: https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/PipeWire

At the time of writing Kubuntu 23.04 was due to released in a week, so throwing away caution I promptly did a quick "sudo do-release-upgrade -d" into a terminal in the hope that Qt 5.15.8 would fix the issues with VLC showing a black screen with 5.15.6 annoyingly frequently. Hopefully I'm not jinxing things but it seems to. Upgrading took a few hours, but I wasn't paying attention to it and there were several prompts during to keep existing config files, etc. Plasma 5.27 is planned to be the last Plasma 5 feature release, and things like that are always a little bit concerning as the major version jump will likely bring new bugs.


An interesting rabbit hole. Besides woes with Wayland, a question about the next 5-10 years of Linux DEs is whether GTK will end up meaningfully forked.

The next bit isn't strictly Linux related but I'm setting up a lower friction music workflow that doesn't depend on using or remote controlling a tablet containing my collection when the main PC isn't on, which is a lot more of the time these days. I've set up a pair of Philips SPA2210 USB speakers as wireless with a TP-Link bluetooth receiver (both run happily from the USB adapter included with the receiver, through a cable and mini hub). An old Fire tablet with a 256GB card provides storage that files can either be played directly on or streamed from via another device and output to the bluetooth device, but the main draw is that the speakers can get audio directly from a main tablet for more spontaneous choices or DIY MTV. And sticking the speakers on a smart plug means they can be turned on and used from a distance, or go off on a timer.

And this isn't a new issue but VLC seems to ignore the KWin setting to centre new windows (nothing too unusual there) and saves whether a window was snapped to part of the screen or horizontally/vertically maximised. Adding window rules to set horizontal and vertical maximisation initially applied as No stops this. Even if most other window rule properties fail.

There've been coincidental issues with other package formats since Ubuntu (which is trying to push Snap) pulled Flatpak support and ordered variant distros to do likewise. The appimage issue is about new installs not having libfuse2, and mine are still working.


There's more detail about the Python change by Debian here and as that site notes you can add a --break-system-packages switch when installing, eg

python3 -m pip install -U yt-dlp --break-system-packages

Memo to self: necessary Android apps include - Auto Bright Tile, Caffeine, Edge Gestures, Giganticon, Nova Launcher, Rotation Control, Turn Off Screen. ES File Explorer, WiFi File Transfer Pro are extremely outdated but handy.