Archive for the ‘jwm’ Category

Update 20110723 – CentOS 6, Sabayon, Slackware, NetBSD, Etc.

July 23, 2011

Long time no see, haters. Since my last update earlier this year, I’ve been pretty busy. Usual stuff: family, work, and sports injuries.

I have a shiny new Lenovo laptop. One of the reasons I chose this one is because I was able to get a list of the hardware and checked it against lists of supported devices. It’s all supported very well under Linux and the BSDs (Net, Open) I looked at.

First thing I did was reduce the very large NTFS partition someone formatted it with (I never have booted this into Windows 7) so that it’s actually quite small. Then I installed a release candidate for Scientific Linux 6 on it, as that was the first available RHEL6 clone. I’ve since changed that over to CentOS 6 using a net install. And since I have no interest in booting the pre-installed OS, I changed my grub menu.lst to no wait, no options, just load that one in a freaking hurry.

As usual, I found some nits to pick about how certain other things were configured and I had to make some changes to get simple things to work. This goes for software as well as hardware.

First the hardware side of it. I thought the inkjet printer I keep in my room was supported out of the box despite noticing the printer would “eat” up paper upon finishing the job — not fully ejecting it before pulling it back in to the printer. It was only the past few days, though, I realized there was more wrong than met the eye. I needed to make some quick scans and xsane reported back I had no scanner. Hmmm. I checked it via scanimage and it was detected. I also double-checked the drivers and saw that the sane backends for hp and usb were there. I decided to see if the hplip site had a newer RPM than is available in any of the repositories I’ve enabled. I entered the relevant information and downloaded an up-to-date RPM with new drivers. Installing it required removing old RPMs. Then I had to set some permissions so I could use the scanner without escalating my privileges to root. The new hplip RPM also resulted in better printing and no more “eating” paper.

There was a variety of software I installed from the normal as well as third-party repositories. Most of it has been without any trouble — only a couple things from a more bleeding edge repository (EPEL) have conflicted with packages from others. Some of the configuration issues have been simple and straightforward. I’m coming around to accepting pulseaudio, especially as it makes some things easier. My Bluetooth headphones work fine and are able to remotely control playlists in totem. Haven’t tried yet in rhythmbox but mplayer (from rpmforge) needs remuco to work.

Even though I’d be exaggerating to call RHEL6 or its clones bleeding edge, it’s still new enough that repositories lack certain packages that I wanted to install. One solution (other than “wait”):

sudo yum groupinstall 'Development Tools'

I’ve recompiled things that bugged me as well as things that were either unavailable or that I wanted to update. I wanted liferea so I had to compile it myself. Dittos sylpheed (NOT claws) and mew (emacs e-mail client). I also wanted an update of org-mode for emacs, but I’ve also played around with compiling other emacsen. This morning, I decided to try sxemacs.

I wasn’t impressed with the clunky xaw widgetry, let alone the faces available on my laptop (trust me, terminus looked only a little better), and I decided against installing GTK1 headers just to see if that would look any better. Not even some minor color changes helped. I usually run emacs from console anyway because it’s easier to run it in screen and then shell in and out, locally or remotely, as needed. The faces (fonts) bother  me a lot more than the widgets — it’s not about the aesthetics as much as if I can clearly see what the hell I’m doing.

I’m going to try this for a while and see how much work it’ll take to get it working the way I use GNU emacs. Just remembered I forgot to change EDITOR=emacsclient to EDITOR=gnuclient. Also, this (last line!) has to go in the init.el to keep from opening a new sxemacs GUI instance:

(require 'gnuserv)
(setq gnuserv-frame (selected-frame))

Sheesh! Recompiled –without-x. Much better, too, after removing background color (transparent terminal over black wallpaper).

Now the fun of getting my other emacs stuff to work correctly with this.

I also converted my previous laptop over to CentOS 6. I did a minimal net installation, installed xfce from EPEL, and then added some of my own packages (including dwm and jwm because I decided I don’t care for xfce). My ridiculous Acer Aspire One is still running SL6 and still having issues with the fucking Atheros wireless card. When it starts to flake out on me, I pop in a zyd-based USB wireless adapter. Voila. I should blacklist the module for the Atheros card but, honestly, the AA1 has been such a pain in the ass that I seldom use it. I recently updated XP (30-something packages!) after not even booting it for like half a year and suffered some USB-related issues as a result. The good news is under the RHEL6 clones, all the other AA1’s hardware — including both internal card readers — work properly, without having to boot one side with a card inserted.

Okay. The headline mentions other distros and NetBSD. I’m considering some changes on the other laptop because a lot of stuff I’ve compiled for it would be just as easy from scratch instead of using source RPMs or new source. I tried to get a measure of how many packages are installed by default on a minimal install of various distros. I figure RHEL clones will have the most, followed by Debian, and on the other side of the scale will be Slackware and Gentoo (I haven’t used Sabayon before but I like the option of using a binary or portage depending on my tastes — this is why I’m also considering a BSD and pkgsrc).

There are certain distros I’ve taken off my radar list despite having a fondness for them. As I now use laptops, netbooks, and other portable devices — including portable USB storage — about 90% of the time, encryption is very important to me; one of my parents’ was a victim of identity theft in the past couple years and I was already a bit paranoid about what kind of information could be found in plaintext on my computers. On all my computers, I like the option of installing to, or easily setting up, one encrypted LVM which includes at the very least my /home, /var, /etc, and swap. I used to think it was adequate to encrypt just /home and swap but I’ve changed my mind after auditing “identifying” information available elsewhere on an unencrypted system. For example, plaintext wifi passwords in /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf (or elsewhere on a “non-standard” system) or stuff stored in /tmp. I also think it’s not enough that the “core” of the operating system be protected from threats, such as over the Internet; the biggest vulnerabilities usually stem from applications and user choices, and you can’t reboot those problems away — they’ll still be there if (or because) /home and /usr/local are RW, not read-only. When storage is measured in GB and TB and speedy multi-core processors, it’s harder for me to choose to run my OS in some “embedded” style.

Still on my TODO list is my post about what I use instead of Also, I’ll try to write a post about the minimal install I did with more specifics (need to edit my gnote version of it — wish I could import that into this without reformatting) in the near future. As usual, no promises on time lines.

Debian Squeeze – Not All Perfect But Close

March 15, 2011

Not everything has gone well under Debian Squeeze. I’ve been running jwm and ratpoison, my preferred window managers (even though I’ve grown more tolerant of Gnome; it’s just a bit much for my laptop). In jwm, one of the things I do first is set up various apps to run maximized without borders. This has proven stable in most cases.

Here’s a shot of how emacs should start and look. Unfortunately, something in my .emacs has resulted in a problem where it doesn’t open full screen (even though I commented out fullscreen mode) — but that’s easily fixed by alt-f2 and selecting maximize. The above shot is what I should have, right?

Okay, so let’s switch desktops and then come back. This is what happens.

I first noticed this on my Aspire One. The icon and menu bars are fine so long as:

  • I don’t start w3m-el, or
  • switch desktops

Either of those happens, then bad stuff happens. I thought at first it might be GTK-related but this happens in jwm, not in other window managers (no fail in ratpoison or evilwm) — in the other window managers, the w3m icons are displayed while in w3m-mode and the default ones when in standard emacs modes. I think it’s something with jwm (whether it’s with jwm or the way it’s configured in Debian who knows), not emacs, since it’s not occurring in other window managers — I can switch between applications and/or desktops in evilwm, for example, and the icons don’t change or disappear.

This really is no big deal since my .emacs has lines turning off both the menu bar and icon bar (currently commented out), which is why I may not have caught this before. Another reason I may not have caught it is because I usually run emacs in console instead of using the GTK instance. Once I uncomment those lines in my .emacs, it’s going to be no big deal again in jwm.

One more nit to pick about the default jwmrc from Debian (again, no big deal because I edit/customize the hell out of it anyway). It has a lot of extraneous tags, including a section in the keybindings.

<!-- Key bindings -->
 <Key key="Up">up</Key>
 <Key key="Down">down</Key>
 <Key key="Right">right</Key>
 <Key key="Left">left</Key>
 <Key key="h">left</Key>
 <Key key="j">down</Key>
 <Key key="k">up</Key>
 <Key key="l">right</Key>
 <Key key="Return">select</Key>
 <Key key="Escape">escape</Key>

 <!-- #DEBIAN unused -->
 <Key mask="A" key="Tab">nextstacked</Key>
 <!-- #DEBIAN add -->
 <Key mask="A" key="Tab">next</Key>

 <Key mask="A" key="F4">close</Key>
 <Key mask="A" key="#">desktop#</Key>
 <Key mask="A" key="F1">root:1</Key>
 <Key mask="A" key="F2">window</Key>

In particular, that “unused” line is preceded and trailed by —>, and that first one shouldn’t be there if the goal was to comment out “nextstacked” in favor of next. I really hate that “nextstacked” setting in jwm, which renders meta (alt) unusable by anything but jwm — I consider it a bug. I’ve written to the author about this but for some reason that’s the default. If you use jwm and you have issues with using your meta/alt key, edit “nextstacked” to just “next” and then restart jwm. We fixed that in the default jwmrc in DSL. Looks like that was the intention here, too, but the result of not properly commenting out the whole nextstacked part is that the alt-meta remains locked up jwm. Guess I should report that. As well as the other issues.

An update, too, on the Aspire One. I ran into some problems with SL6rc1 on my Aspire One and needed something “ready to roll.” I haven’t decided if I’m going to run it again because I run Debian on just about everything else I own — which is why I decided to install it again on the AA1 despite past wifi-related issues. I did a very minimal net install of Squeeze despite concerns about wifi issues I’ve had under Linux with that netbook. The good news thus far is that it’s running without hassles and I haven’t had the problems even under the heaviest loads that used to cause the time outs — extensive uptimes and sftp’ing large and/or multiple files.

What did I install on the Aspire One? I’m using jwm almost exclusively with emacs, firefox (from mozilla rather than iceweasel), gtkpod, livetex,, skype, shotwell, gtkam, wicd-curses, and vlc. A few other things that don’t come to mind. It’s pretty lean and it rocks.

The emacs icon/menu bar issue doesn’t really put me off using jwm. It’s resulted in a noticeable performance boost over Gnome, and there are many things I like being able to customize (especially apps opening maximized sans decorations). Next trimming will come at the expense of network manager (though probably avoiding wicd because it’s not an improvement over using other more basic tools; wicd can’t scan for hidden SSIDs, but plain old wpa_supplicant does).

[Note/rant on wicd and hidden SSIDs: The documentation and lists for wicd suggest the inability to scan or find hidden SSIDs is exclusively a driver issue. BULLSHIT. I can find my SSID’s MAC address just fine via iwlist but wicd has failed on all three of my current laptops — that’s three unique drivers (Broadcom 43xx, Realtek something or another, Atheros ath5k), all capable of finding the SSID’s MAC address via iwlist and connecting straight-up via wpa_supplicant, and no such problem with network manager. I also ran into an issue with wicd-gtk that caused me to try the -curses version. When I would try connecting to my hidden SSID, the rescan would find no wireless connections — none! I’d have to restart wicd and try again, sometimes three or four times, to get a list of SSIDs again and then repeat the process trying to connect to the hidden SSID. The -curses version won’t connect to a hidden SSID but hasn’t required running ‘/etc/init.d/wicd restart’ at all — it just requires me to enter the hidden SSID name, rescan, connect. So I’m most likely ditching wicd altogether and probably running networking via my own shell scripts or the available networking scripts in /etc. I don’t hide my SSID for security reasons and I’m not going to unhide it just to use wicd.]

As you can see in the shots above, I’m running Bluetooth and the green dot on the bluez-manager applet signifies I’m connected at the moment to my headphones. I’m running mplayer streaming audio via pulseaudio (-ao pulse). Audio switches seamlessly between headphones and speakers, etc., when I turn the headphones on and off; the pulseaudio sink also switches between my stream and Skype during calls without interaction. No hassles at all. Just works. I had a lot of bad things to say about my initial experiences with pulseaudio but my recent experiences have been superb regardless of desktop environment/window manager.

Over all, I remain very happy with Debian Squeeze. It’s just a package here and there that may cause some minimal grief. Beyond anomalies, it’s rock solid, flexible, and has enough software options to keep most reasonable users happy.

Update: No tool bar, no menu, no problem:

Update 20100801: Back to Some Old Habits

August 1, 2010

I got fed up with NetworkManager in Scientific Linux. Around the house and around town it’s been okay — it’s been a pain in the ass with a gnome-keyring password after login via gdm if I log out and back in — but there have been a couple other encrypted networks it balked at associating with altogether (visiting family, etc.). Anyway, it’s no longer installed. I’m just using wpa_supplicant, which is a bit convoluted to set up in RHEL clones.

The first thing to do is generate a wpa_supplicant.conf, which is easy enough. After that, chkconfig needs to be run to add wpa_supplicant to whichever runlevels it’s desired. Then files in /etc/sysconfig need to be edited. First, wpa_supplicant needs to be set with the appropriate driver and interface in the appropriate form for wpa_supplicant. That means no space between “-Dwext” and “-iwlan0” or whatever driver and interface you need. Next is the ifcfg-device file so it knows to use WPA (WPA=yes). I set mine to start on boot (ONBOOT=yes).

I got everything working by the second try. Scientific Linux has a lengthy boot time compared to Debian and especially compared to Tiny Core, and waiting for the network to come up only adds to the anticipation.

Next was a more difficult decision because I’ve grown a bit more fond of Gnome than I used to be. It’s still a lot more overhead than I need, especially considering how I use my netbook. I decided to compile jwm since I couldn’t find it in the SL repositories or in the dag repo. I copied over .jwmrc and other files. Once I had it set up to my satisfaction, I had some fun.

It took a few minutes to get rid of all that stuff.

Notice the difference in the screenshots? The first was taken with gnome-screenshot, which wasn’t around to take the second (imagemagick import does the trick).

Next to go will probably be, which was updated to 3.x with the release of SL 5.5. I’m doing mostly LaTeX lately and doing that — and seemingly everything else — in emacs. I have a draft I started the other day about all that which I hope to finish soon.

Fixed and Opened “My DSL Pages”

April 19, 2010

I’ve taken care of one of the things that’s been on my to-do list for way too long by fixing and making “My DSL Pages” public. It had been set on private due to a number of issues with the page. Some of the older content from my previous host’s demise remains broken, but I think I now have each page linked correctly on that one.

Some of the content is related more generically towards JWM and other things which go beyond the narrow focus of DSL so at least it still has some use and life after DSL’s untimely demise. Many of those pages continue to receive hits on a frequent basis both from search engines and from links at the DSL forums; I guess it’s being put to use (whether it’s good or not is probably very subjective).

Update 20091219: Debian Lenny on New-Old Laptop, etc.

December 19, 2009

I’ve been tied up with family and work issues, so I’ve been unable to update the blogs as intended. After having issues with X crashing in PCLOS Zen Mini, I decided to find something a bit more stable. For me, that more often than not means Debian, a RedHat clone, Slackware, or one of the BSDs. I opted for Debian Lenny via net install.

I decided on the standard Gnome desktop (the default for net install to a computer intended to be used for a workstation), even though I’m primarily using JWM. I’ve also installed ratpoison. You can see my jwm tray has buttons similar to Gnome’s default top panel. It’s a work in progress; probably no need to add a bottom panel. I took the pager out of the tray but I’m using two desktops. I just switch by keybinding.

As you can also see in the screenshot, I chose Xemacs over GNU emacs this time. No particular reason, just haven’t used it in a while. I was going to stick with vim until I saw that I’d have all kinds of bullshit to install due to the packaging. Come on. At least with Xemacs there are several options beyond X and nox. That’s actually not an option for Xemacs — try MULE versions and Gnome versions. Like most of my applications that only open one window (GIMP sucks like that), it opens maximized without any decorations or borders.

No complaints, everything works like it’s supposed to. I had a few tweaks (permissions issues) to sort out for my printer and had to add the non-free repository to my sources.list to acquire firmware for my card. Piece of cake.

The packaging is a bit hefty compared to what I really want but it owns the full hard drive. There are a few things I wish were packaged differently. I had to go to debian multimedia to get mplayer without the skinned GUI; unfortunately, that version was compiled without dvdnav so I have to count tracks if a DVD has more than one. Wouldn’t you know there’d be one packages not bloated enough for my tastes.

I have a few things to write about third-party repositories and what users most often add to their systems with blind trust, but I want to do in the context of something I left hanging at the TinyCore forums a couple weeks ago. Hopefully, I’ll have time to do that tomorrow both there and here. Stay tuned.

crunchbang jwmrc, ratpoison screenshot, terminals, etc.

July 19, 2009

I’ve tried three times to post the #! jwmrc but the XML tags render it unreadable. If anyone wants it, just leave a comment and I’ll e-mail it or post it at a forum or something. I’m not using jwm much right now but I have the full #! menu jwm-ized sans the keybindings. I didn’t bother doing the keybindings after all, or change the colors much, because those are all personal preferences.

I really like the way I have this thing configured right now in ratpoison, with the exceptions of Skype and gimp. Not much I can do about that short of filing bug reports for each: “doesn’t open in single window mode.”

What’s this? I see conky plus trayer across the top, screen opened in the emacs terminal instance with my .ratpoisonrc.


I set the wallpaper (12kb with intentionally crappy gradients) using nitrogen to see how bad it would look under terminator and if I could still read my stuff in screen. I’m back to using terminator at least for the time being; font rendering in the version of aterm, especially under screen, I downloaded is fucking hideous so that’s another thing to recompile at some point. I usually use a solid background but I noticed when I set aterm to transparent and had an image for the background that the colors were totally distorted, as if I had the wrong resolution set or something. So now my .Xdefaults has transparency off for aterm. One of the things I really fucking hate about terminator — other than being wrapped in python — is that certain combinations of keystrokes are used to control opening and splitting “tabbed” terminals. I’ve tried tabbed terminals before and don’t understand the need for them when you have better tools like screen available.

Invisible: mocp, conkeror, various files and modes in emacs.

That’s it for now. Time to hit the gym.

Fiddling with emacs and ratmenu

July 12, 2009

I’ve been setting up some things for emacs and my window managers this morning. First, I got all my .emacs files together (the ones currently in use plus the backups I could find) and unified as much as possible. Then I set up weblogger.el on my AA1 (sorry to those whose RSS readers got broken links after I removed my test entries). Think it’s working better now. Either that or I’ll get pwnt soon.

I also worked on ratmenu-ing this morning. There’s really no difference between it and ratmen in terms of execution, but ratmen wasn’t available in the repositories so ratmenu it is. I put together a few menus I can launch from within jwm or ratpoison (which I finally installed while ago). I also made a cheatsheet I can get from the jwm menu to remind me of the ratmenu bindings and the keys for reconfiguring jwm to match the openbox bindings from #!. I need to edit it for the rest I set up and probably add  some of the other cryptic bindings I did.


The “audio” menu is my favorite. I’ll explain when I post my jwmrc. I should have time to finish editing the #! jwmrc later today and will post ASAP in case anyone’s interested in one that will allow a (hopefully) seamless transition from openbox to jwm, which is much lighter and has most, if not all, the parts used in the default #! desktop.

Also on my to-do list at some point is hitting the wikis and figuring out how to silence the fucking fan on this thing. I don’t remember it running non-stop in Fedora or PCLOS. I know it doesn’t in Windows.

coming attraction: jwmrc for crunchbang

July 11, 2009

Had a little time and converted the default #! openbox menu into something to suit jwm’s XML conventions (really fast in emacs; don’t try this in gedit, boys and girls). I’ll post the full jwmrc tomorrow when I put it all together with the other things #! handles separately, maybe with a similar color scheme (screenshot shows a work-in-progress). I’d post what I have now but I still need to edit the jwm keybindings to match the ones #! uses in openbox.


Beyond that, I didn’t do much else except fill in my own menu a bit (which is why I even bothered converting the openbox menu) and setting up a few things the way I want them. My own menu is nothing like the openbox one. Since I still get a lot of hits for ratpoison, ratmen(u), jwmrc, and jwm themes, maybe I’ll also post mine tomorrow.

crunchbang – More JWM Screenshots

July 10, 2009

Here are a couple more screenshots. New shell is mksh. Added a few more entries to .jwmrc and also uncommented the Debian part of the default menu. I also moved the <Dock/> tag down so there’s not that big empty space between the applets and clock (compare this emacs shot to the next two).


Remembered to get “free -mt” after a reboot.


I also took the openbox keybindings out of the .conkyrc and added in the other mount points I want to see. I’ll probably set up something like xbindkeys so my keybindings are the same regardless of which window manager I use.


That’s it. I have some reports to finish so I can call it a day. Tomorrow I’ll probably start pruning some of the things from my list last night and see what I can do to keep NetworkManager — or whatever alternative I can find — from associating with any other AP before it connects to mine. I also need to see if I can find out what the problem is with libmto and mtp-tools and my S3; it’s not being detected at all under #! right now.

crunchbang update: jwm, aterm, acpi/wifi issues, and office software

July 10, 2009

Just had a little time to mess with #! while I grabbed a bite. I installed aterm, terminus (the X fonts weren’t installed in the base but the console fonts were), dillo, and jwm. Edited a quick jwmrc and had to add an entry in /usr/share/xsessions for it so I can choose it from gdm.


Why jwm? I got a look at the menu for openbox with the number of tags it uses for each entry — just too much. I mentioned in comments previously that jwm is much lighter and yet has the basic pieces (panel/tray, etc.). Plus I can set it up so things open without borders or title bars, etc. It just suits me better. No idea yet when I’ll install ratpoison or even if this means I’ll make more space by removing openbox, tint2, etc. Who knows.

I  unplugged to see if the power manager applet would pop up like it’s supposed to. For some reason, it doesn’t do anything until I cat for battery state. Similarly, there’s a delay with nm-applet looking for my SSID when I boot or resume from suspend. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to start until I do iwconfig. Coincidence? I don’t know but it’s okay for now.

Speaking of wifi, I noticed in dmesg that NetworkManager isn’t associating first to my AP but to another one without encryption. I thought the whole point of setting it up is so it would scan for what you have listed first. Not sure what to make of that. I need to see if I can blacklist any other router so it won’t inadvertently try to connect. It shouldn’t be promiscuous by default like that — it should scan for approved APs first and, if so desired (I don’t), connect to “any.” I’ll look into that more this weekend.

(Edit: Here’s the relevant part of dmesg showing the wrong initial association to another AP.

wlan0: authenticate with AP xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:78
wlan0: authenticated
wlan0: associate with AP xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:78
wlan0: RX AssocResp from xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:78 (capab=0x401 status=0 aid=3)
wlan0: associated
wlan0: disassociating by local choice (reason=3)
wlan0: direct probe to AP xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx try 1
wlan0 direct probe responded
wlan0: authenticate with AP xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx
wlan0: authenticated
wlan0: associate with AP xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx
wlan0: RX AssocResp from xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx (capab=0x431 status=0 aid=1)

The wrong AP’s MAC ends with 78,  mine is the second set which are all Xs. It shouldn’t matter that my SSID is hidden and the much weaker signal isn’t encrypted. It should only associate with the AP which I’ve configured.)

Other than that, the few messages I’m getting about wlan0 appear to be normal and don’t look like the ones I had while running Fedora 10.

Finally, I was going to see if I could work on a couple spreadsheets in gnumeric before committing to installing instead. As I suspected, a lot of things broke when I opened in gnumeric. Now I’m looking at what all comes with the OOo package and wondering why the hell I keep doing this to myself. Guess what, pulseaudio is one of the dependencies. So are all kinds of fonts I’ll never use. Great. Just fucking great. I may hold off making any changes and only work on things from Windows until either I decide what I’m going to do in October or see if IBM will get the OOo-3.x-based version of Lotus Symphony (my favorite office suite; too bad the current version is based on OOo 1.x and not yet compatible with my OOo 3.x spreadsheets) out this year.