Salix 14.0 Xfce install

So I went for childrens' version of Slackware, sue me.
Why Slack? Because it seems to be most stable and conservative (compared to nowadays mad-rush Linux developments). No systemd or pulseaudio or Mir or perverse experiments with GUI. Not yet at least. And they avoid even GTK3, it seems. Which is good - I definitely prefer 'less modern' look to broken porridge after every Gnome update.
As of preparations - a partition for installing Salix was made before install.

64bit stright-install image (means, not Live) was written with Unetbootin to USB. The process (and probably structure of image) was different of usual - in meaning that it was continuous, without huge main file. Not that I care...
There is only two 'options' in boot-screen: 'default' and 'huge.s' ... Default seemed to be the same as 'huge.s' so, here we go:
Installer loaded quite long and is old-school ncurses-based - pure terminal, no bling, no frills. Installers' structure is different of Debians', Suses', RHELs' and even Archs' installer.
Now, what to keep in mind: In partitioning - have to select correct disk where your premade partition is. Then it's possible to pick it for Root. You can also mark already (if) existing swap for use. No separate home for me anymore, I keep all important stuff of my distros on separate 'common' partition. And I do my backups with FSArchiver - so Home (confs only) gets backed up together with Root.
The most problematic part of installation was a question 'where is your install-data': No, USB-stick is not a 'CD' or something other 'movable' - USB stick is a 'hard disk'. At least you can browse partitions and pick the right one. The table there doesn't show partitions' sizes... so I identified my USB (from about 15 choices) as only one having fat32 filesystem. Then installer wants to know the folder name...&^%$#... to cut it short, it's 'salix'.
Then you can make password for root and also create your common user - and define users' parameters to all details. By the way, there is no problem with using the same password for root and user...
And at the end there is choice of install-packages: I picked Full (desktop and 'one app per task').
There were, of course, the usual things (keyboard etc), and also an offer to install Lilo (bootloader) - which can be skipped entirely (which I did).
It installed successfully.
I rebooted, logged to Wheezy, update-grub, and rebooted to Salix. There was a lot text flying by (quite different-looking of Debian, and it took a little longer too), then Gdm-greeter for logging, then desktop and then you can admire 'a flying rag'... - screensaver kicked in an instant after desktop appeared. Fancy. I have no idea if this bizzarre behaviour goes with every boot - I removed xscreensaver from startup.

I think it's first Xfce desktop (I have tried) what comes panel-at-bottom and no dock. What a pleasure! Especially after quick swap of wallpaper...
First I did some fast clean-up and pimping: removed some startups and daemons, deleted some apps, changed themes and icon-set, tweaked panel a bit... the usual. And sure, I installed my favourite file manager - SpaceFM - and threw Thunar out. I downloaded Spacefm installer and whole thing went without any hitch, dependencies and all.
Ah, by the way, I had also one mysterious crash when I left Salix running. When I returned after some 2 hours, it appeared to be in console and frozen. No idea why.

Then came serious part - updating (minor) kernel and installing Nvidia driver. No automation here, no smxi script either. There is almost perfect tutorial for Nvidia, though. In nutshell, it went like that:
1. Get kernel source: slapt-get --update && slapt-get -i kernel-source
Update kernel: ls /var/log/packages/kernel*
There are some 4-5 files, all has to be updated separately, like this:
slapt-get -i kernel-modules (no version numbers needed!). Then (re)create initrd file - see howto in /boot/readme.initrd .
2. Download Nvidia driver.
3. Blacklist Nouveau. And here I found difference with tutorial. There is no such file as tutorial says. I solved it with Gslapt, searched for 'nouveau' and found 2 packs, and installed blacklist-one. It's name was the same as of driver.
3. Reboot. Log to console, init 3, cd wehere-your-driver-is, sh (and answer questions it asks), init 4.
Done. If you said 'yes', it even created conf. And DO NOT let Nouveau to be updated afterwards, or you loose your 'blacklist'!

There are quite a lot of conf available in menus. For installing codecs there is a launcher. Packages can be managed through Gslapt, sources through Sourcery (both are GUI frontends). There is even update-notifier...
Package manager is 'slapt' - works like this: slapt-get -u
for example, is the same as debian 'apt-get update'. Nothing difficult here, do read Salix (or Slackware) wiki etc.

It has been pleasant experience. After first flurry of tweaks I find it hard to spot next 'urgent' tweak... because it's already OK. Salix is super for everyone looking for traditional distro + desktop. It's also very fitting for newcomers to Slackware - it really is Slack-made-easy. Recommended.

Grub 1.99 in Debian 7. Part 2

Changing menu item looks in Grub2 menu. Deleting and adding entries.
Now - I am no coder and know next to nothing of scripting. So I really can't rewrite grubs' scripts. After more hours wasted with combing interweb for tutorials how to change files 10_linux and 30_os-prober, I came to conclusion that it's hard to find ready-made drop-in script-bits for easy tweaking. And I didn't feel like spending all my time with testing...
I decided to drop my ambitious plans to alter above-mentioned files and go for easier (and commonly used) way: create a 06_custom file.

What I did:
Took existing /etc/grub.d/40_custom file and saved it as 06_custom (in this way it will be the first entry of menu). Then I copied whole entry from between #10_linux start and end lines in file /boot/grub/grub.cfg to my custom-file, under first 5 existing lines.
- Then I changed menuentrys' name
- deleted class statements
- and replaced filenames in /boot/ with links in /. That's because it's said that then you will allways boot with latest kernel (through those links). We'll see about that when there is kernel update... But - if there is kernel number in menuentry, it has to be changed manually, of course.
And final result, scriptways (after first 5 existing lines):
menuentry 'Debian 7 Wheezy, kernel 3.2.0-4-amd64 on /dev/sdb6' { 
load_video set 
insmod gzio 
insmod part_msdos 
insmod ext2 
set root='(hd1,msdos6)' 
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root cc715c11-4b56-4d78-bb29-6d78688ce48b 
echo 'Loading Linux 3.2.0-4-amd64 ...' 
linux /vmlinuz root=UUID=cc715c11-4b56-4d78-bb29-6d78688ce48b ro quiet nomodeset nouveau.modeset=0 
echo 'Loading initial ramdisk ...' 
initrd /initrd.img 
And, update-grub when done, of course. Interesting enough, custom entry is not shown in 'Found' list... but, when
grep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg - it's there alright.
Reboot, test your freshly baked menu-item. If boot is successful, do
sudo chmod -x 10_linux, to exclude this file from menu.
That's it. The same way you can deal with 30_os-prober. Entries like kernel instances etc can be deleted or added (might be wise to make os-prober temporarily active for adding - to get correct entry for copy-paste). Downside is that when distros come and go, all entries has to be deleted/added manually. Doesn't make you to spit blood but is still a bit bothersome...


Grub 1.99 in Debian 7. Part 1

Debian Wheezy netinstall and Grub 1.99 tweaking 
Part 1: Facelift

With Debian stable comes Grub 1.99. It is not especially nice-looking and/or handy:
- it has useless wallpaper
- there are a lot of entries without submenus (I have 4-way multiboot, currently)
- menu is a bit too black and white... and other little things.
So I decided to change it. Research took enormous time. Versions and tutorials differ... there are no place to find everything together... tips might work, or not... a lot is simply old...
See here: Ubuntu, more Ubuntu, and this one, and Arch, and my own puny paragraph.
Before tweaking anything, we do backups, of course - like this, for example:
sudo cp /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme /etc/grub.d/05_.debian_theme.bak 
# ... and all others in /grub.d we happen to hack. Then we make baks un-executable: 
sudo chmod -x /etc/grub.d/*.bak
Also, do backup files: /etc/default/grub and /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Here we go, with multiboot system, one Grub in MBR, one in root, one distro without Grub, and Windows XP.

What I did:
(Let's remember - ALL changes has to be written in with update-grub.)
1. /etc/default/grub
- I wanted my Vsido to be the default boot-choice.
grep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg shows all listed menuentries. First one is 0, second is 1 and so on - simple, but it's more complicated when dealing with submenus. Fortunately I do not have them... unfortunately I would like to - menu looks a lot more tidy when bunch of different kernels are hidden.
So, third item in list means GRUB_DEFAULT=2 and highlight is on Vsido entry now.

- Default console size is GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480. Text is therefore big and longer lines end behind screen edge. We change it like that:
Reboot, and when in Grub, press 'C' to get command line, set pager=1 (because there are probably 2 pages of text coming, then vbeinfo. Correct/supported resolutions are displayed, pick one, write it down, 'esc', boot to desktop and replace old resolution with new and bigger one. Mine is GRUB_GFXMODE=1280x768.
After that line add a new one: GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX=keep
That keeps resolution the same for whole boot process (no jumping back to big letters).
NB! 'Keep' doesn't work when booting another distro with its own Grub. Probably gfxmode should be changed there also.
Edit 06.07.2013: Changing the resolution in local Grub doesn't help -  no change. Also - resolution doesn't change for distros without Grub too. So, it seems that whole thing works only for grub-mastering distro. Edit ends.

- If you do not need your machine searched for additional OS-es (for whatever reason), disable 30_os-prober, by adding this line:

- If you do not want bunch of Recovery Modes hanging around, then remove comment from line #GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_RECOVERY="true".
But, there is interesting twist: IF there is Grub also installed for some other distro, then you have to disable recovery mode there also. Otherways master-Grub reads them from there, and displays.
Other weird thing I encountered: I unpacked my Xubuntu (from archive) to another partition, fixed fstab, and removed Grub complitely. Now, when I ran master 'update-grub', it found whole pile of 'Ubuntus'. It appeared that not only current .img, but also symlinks and '.img.old' kernels were listed... I simply deleted links and .olds - and problem was solved and only one Ubuntu was left in list.

2. /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme
- Wallpaper. This file has very nicely commented sequence how wallpapers are searched for... not that it helped me very much. I deleted wallpaper-line from /usr/share/desktop-base/ and changed also colors. No cookie. Nothing changed.
Then I checked what's in /boot/grub/grub.cfg. There I found certain png as wallpaper. After some pondering I resolved thing in inelegant and nasty way - I simply renamed joy-grub.png to joy-grub.png.outcomment. Update-grub! No wallpaper was found AND Grub defaulted to 'set_default_theme', which is quite at the beginning of the file (05_debian_theme) AND which can be now edited (with results):

- Colors. See also: Here and here and here.
Default is 'Debian blue', update-grub, reboot and take a look. I found it a bit too bright, so my tweak ended like this:
 # Set the traditional Debian blue theme.
 echo "${1}set menu_color_normal=white/black"
 echo "${1}set menu_color_highlight=yellow/dark-gray"
 echo "${1}set color_normal=white/dark-gray"
Menu text is white, background black, higlighted menu-items' text is yellow and under that is gray background. Outside of menu-box is gray with white text (and this last line I added).

That's it. I'm quite satisfied how things look now (errr... no, still can't be bothered with screenshots).
Now, if not terminally lazy, I might produce also a part 2, dealing with hacking of files 10_, 30_ and 40_custom. Means, how to change menuentries themselves.


Linux Mint 15: C & M

Cinnamon and Mate. Review-like ...
I did it for nostalgic reasons (Mint was my first distro on Linux road; and also because I started this blog as intended help for n00bs.
Both Mint ISOs were 64bit Lives, written with Unetbootin to USB.

# Cinnamon
I didn't bother to install, just clicked around in Live.
It booted OK and desktop looked (again very) traditional Mint.
Cinnamon is simple-user oriented, allright. No question about that. I - as an advanced user - shouldn't whine about things-missing... but I do anyway.

- Two panels are possible! Progress!
- Driver Manager: Now separate app.
- Software Sources: Much better usability.
- Get some frills and bling stright from internet. And new data is NOT mixed with default. You can pick what you want to add.
- Classic menu still installable (maybe - as it failed in Live).
- Login Window conf: New place to play.
- Cinnamon is ready for all usual user tasks, and has all ubuntuish 'restricted extras' (codecs, etc) installed.

- MintMenu is still not resizable, not very-much-configurable Windowish thingy.
- File Manager Nemo is average. Definitely better than current Nautilus, but despite of various preferences, it's not especially configurable. Partitions list is not very clear and it is not in logical order. If partitions happen to be without labels, then it's probably total mess. (And the same goes for Mate, and it's even worse.) And of course you still can't remove some bookmarks. (And it's even worse in Mate.) Media handling default is clearly for idiot (err... careless?) user - play everything automatically.
- There is 'settings' icon on panel... it behaves ... strange and stupid way? Why it's there?
Desklets: Useless bling. Trying to be KDE?
- Startup Apps: Dumb-user stuff. Very few items there. Has 'maybe-options' all started... and real important things are not shown at all.
- Preferences: Looooong list of things... some of them are in System Settings, others you can get when using those apps. I suppose it's a bit confusing for Mints' intended users.

I think Mint Cinnamon devs succeeded again. It's a distro for a genuine 'User'. Nice. Smooth. Works out of box. Reminds of MS Windows - in a good way.
And it's definitely not for someone who wants to seriously tweak, tune and customize.
It's very good for a common user, and not so good for a tweaker.

This one was installed for real. And strange enough - first Live boot hung just before desktop, I wrote USB over and then it booted OK.
As an afterthought - could be the same bug what appears later.
Installer is Ubuntus' usual - simple. Desktop is copy of previous one (Cinnamon).
Boot came with greeter error - but it 'switched' something and recovered. Next time was OK. After that I got some 'recursive error...' and everything froze, reboot - and greeter problem again.
By the way - boot time is twice longer than Debian Wheezys'.
Here, like in Cinnamon, everything is installed out of box.
Some things (Caja, Menu opening, System Monitor, ...) are a bit laggy to open, in operation, or when closing.

- The same as in Cinnamon.
- There are no desklets and no strange 'settings'-thing on panel. Oh, good!
- I might be wrong, but there seems to be more configurable items in Control Centre compared to Cinnamon.
- Startup Apps: Sure, a lot more options to check/uncheck, and those are real, important ones.
- Services: Kinda 'Startup Apps' part separately. I am not sure if it's good to separate them... but they are available - which is good thing allright.
- Mint screensaver: Whatever looks better than stone-age Xscreensaver. Good.

- There seems to be serious issue with boot and/or greeter.
- Mintmenu looks different here. Still can't resize it. I still don't like it. But classic one is available (pro-thing).
- File Manager Caja seems even less pleasant than Cinnamons' Nemo. List of partitions is especially cryptic, and default bookmarks are ALL undeletable.
- Time/Date on panel is automatically taken from location and not from language used - which is quite bizarre thing to do.
- Preferences and Control Center  are duplicates.
- Compositing seems to be the usual: tearing when scrolling and so on.

All in all: Mate seems better than it was in previous version. Generally a nice desktop for doing all simple user-stuff in most efficient way. It's n00b-friendly. And it leaves a bit more playground than Cinnamon. Definitely recommended to Linux newcomers. The same as with Cinnamon - userfriendly.