Conky Always on Top Fix in Openbox

I hit a snag recently when installing Openbox on the newest Alpha2 for Unity Linux.  I initiated Conky in my autostart.sh and it was always on top…of everything on my desktop.  That’s not a good thing when you’re trying to browse the web with your Conky layout on top of your browser.  After thinking about some of the settings, I thought maybe that own_window setting might be good to play around with in conky settings…however, after a few tries, that didn’t pan out and fix this problem.

I recalled something similar with wbar in Openbox…it would draw itself on top only and have a large black box around it.  No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it to not display the bar nor get it to stop displaying on top.  I eventually would have to kill the PID and restart the program; then I tried something…on accident actually…pypanel, my previous panel, displayed so fast I had to make it sleep to avoid problems.  So I just replaced pypanel with wbar and let it go.  Wouldn’t you know it, Wbar displayed fine and in all it’s glory after that.

I tried the same with Conky and I am happy to report it works just fine to solve the “always on top” issue.  To make a task sleep before running in your autostart.sh, alter it as follows:

(sleep 6 && program) &

Where 6 is the number of seconds you want things to sleep and program is the program you wish to run.  Hopefully this helps a few people out…it threw me for a loop for a while before I was able to solve it.  Gratuitous and obligatory screenshot is below:

openbox and conky

openbox, conky & tint2

Mozilla Firefox, From Darling to Enemy in One Release

FirefoxWhat is wrong with everyone in Linux land bagging on Mozilla Firefox and their 5.0 release?

Complaints pretty much have one thing in common:  They claim there isn’t enough ‘new and shiny’ things inside FF5 to warrant a major version.  This is illogical thinking because major version means NOTHING when it comes to usability of software.  I’ve noticed that I can browse and use FF5 just as easily as I could FF4 and FF3 before it…I still type in URL’s and websites display.  My plugins all still work.  It starts up a bit faster and websites seem to load just a bit faster…which is good.  So why all the whining and complaining?

The silliest thing about this is that the same people complaining about Firefox 5 say that Chrome and IE are going to overtake it and that this is the beginning of the end for Mozilla and Firefox.  Poppycock!  Chrome and Chromium have been using Agile programming and the SAME EXACT METHODOLOGY BEHIND releases and version numbers that Firefox is doing now.  So where was the flack for Google and Chromium when they released often and incremented all the way up to version 10 and then version 12??

It is my opinion that the people shouting from the rooftops that Mozilla and Firefox are a sinking ship doomed to fail while using Chrome/Chromium in the background have no clue what Agile Programming (or in Google’s case, Agile-like programming) is or what it sets out to accomplish…and they’re showing how hypocritical they are.  If you’re one of these people, where were you when Chrome and Chromium was ratcheting up their version numbers without noticeable improvements and features?

Sad that Firefox and Mozilla, who championed one of the first fantastic browsers on Linux, has went from Linux Darling to Public Enemy Number One in a single release in some peoples eyes.  Hopefully, people will realize how silly it is and stop complaining?  Well, one can dream right?

Let’s look at the quality of the software when levelling complaints instead of being upset that the version number doesn’t jive with what we think it should.  Thus far, my experience with FF5 has been pretty darn fantastic.  Thanks go out to Mozilla…you’ve done a great iteration of software yet again.

Some Random Helpful Hints

I’ve been slowly collecting a few commands that are useful to me for various things while using Linux.  I figured that I would share some of these handy commands.  In no particular order, they are:

To copy, preserving permissions AND structure AND recursively, from a remote system to your local system:

rsync -r -a -v -e ssh server1.address.com:/dir/youwant/to/copy/ /local/location/for/directory/

Please note that the code above assumes that you are using key based authentication and not password.  For password based authentication, it would look more like this:

rsync -r -a -v -e ssh remoteuser@server1.address.com:/dir/youwant/to/copy/ /local/location/for/directory/

To remove all files matching a certain extension (xml in my example) in a directory:

find . -type f -name "*.xml" -exec rm -f {} \;

To go into a location, find all files that match a certain extension (jpg in my example) and move them to a different directory:

find . -name "*.jpg" | xargs -i mv '{}' /location/to/move/them/to/ 

To recursively remove empty directory from the directory you are currently in (your pwd):

find -depth -type d -empty -exec rmdir {} \;

These are a few of the commands that I’ve found useful in the past few weeks.  I hope you find them useful as well.  I’ll be test driving quite a few different distributions and reporting back what I find as well as experimenting with various different commands…I really like find because it is so powerful so look for some more posts with uses of the find command.  Thanks for reading and sorry for my lapse in posting this past month!

Radio Tray – A Radio Player That Fits In System Tray


Radio Tray is a very simple application that plays your favourite radio stations and it does so from the system tray, meaning any station you want to listen to is only two clicks away. Naturally you’ll need to add your favorite streams to this program before it will actually be useful. Most websites offering streaming will give you access to a “.pls” file. Copy the link to this file and you can add it to Radio Tray. It supports most media formats as well as PLS, M3U, ASX, WAX and WVX playlist format. You can even bookmark the stations you really like for easy access, which is pretty nice too. To install Radio Tray in Ubuntu Linux, launch Ubuntu Software Center from Applications menu (at the top) and search for “Radio Tray”. From the results, select “Install” and you are all set to use this amazing piece of software.

ubuntu-software-center

Radio Tray can be launched from “Sound & Video” menu under “Applications”. It will appear in the system tray area. This is the beauty of this software that as it runs in system tray so it does not consumes much system resources as it does not require any browser window or any other heavy application to function. Radio Tray will launch in system tray and will not automatically play any station. To play the radio station, click on the Radio Tray (tray) icon and select the station from drop down list (you may require extra plugins for proper functioning of the application e.g gstream libraries).

radio-tray-unconfigured

Perhaps the pre-configured radio stations may not interest you. You can not only add your favourite channels but even Remove or Edit any existing channel. To Add/Remove channel(s) in Radio Tray, Right Click on the tray icon and Select “Configure radios…”. A dialogue box will appear. Here you can Add new channels, Remove or Edit existing channels and Move the Channels UP or Down in the list. Lets, now add a radio station to Radio Tray. Go to: http://www.shoutcast.com/ and search for some radio station (say, rock). From the results, just copy the link of any radio station. Now come back to “Configure Radios” and Click on “Add” Button. In the “Radio name” box enter any friendly name (say Soft Rock) of the radio station while in the “URL” paste the link of the radio station.

radio-tray-add-station

Your new radio station is now added into the channel lists of Radio Tray and you can listen to it just by selecting it from the drop down list of Radio Tray.


radio-tray-configured

If your favorite station doesn’t have a standard M3U or PLS playlist posted on their web site, you can always find the stream’s URL by other means. Radio Tray isn’t incredibly feature-filled, but on those occasions you just need a simple unitasker, it’s perfect for getting the job done and staying out of your way. Its a perfect substitute for proprietary radio softwares and not only available in .deb format but also in source format.

Install Firefox 4 on Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

I am testing out Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) and wanted to benefit from Firefox 4 and all its speediness.  It’s not available in the repositories and since LMDE uses Firefox and NOT Iceweasel, you really can’t install it from the Mozilla Debian repository.  So, I decided to manually install things.

Normally I don’t like to manually install things outside the repository because when updates are pushed, there is no upstream source to differentiate from…so your chances of running outdated software increase unless you are vigilant.  Luckily, I consider myself vigilant.  Unfortunately, I’m not as vigilant as I consider myself to be…so I’ve added in reminders for myself on my Google calendar to check for Firefox 4 updates.

So, here’s how to get Firefox 4 onto your LMDE desktop…First, uninstall the version of Firefox you have using Synaptic or the software center.  Open a terminal up and let’s get started.

Create a temporary directory to house a downloaded and unzipped Firefox:

cd ~/ && mkdir tmp && cd tmp/

Next, let’s download and unzip it (please note this is for en-US version only…you’ll have to adjust the URL for diff. languages):

32bit

wget http://releases.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/latest-4.0/linux-i686/en-US/firefox-4.0.tar.bz2

64bit

wget http://releases.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/latest-4.0/linux-x86_64/en-US/firefox-4.0.tar.bz2

Now let’s unzip and extract it:

tar -xvjf firefox*.tar.bz2

Now let’s move the newly extracted items to /usr/local so it can be used by the system:

sudo mv firefox /usr/local/firefox4

Now we need to create a link so that applications calling firefox 4 access it correctly:

sudo ln -s /usr/local/firefox4/firefox /usr/local/bin/firefox4

Ok, the hard part is done…but you don’t have a menu entry for it nor a shortcut you can execute.  Let’s do that now.  Right click your mint menu and choose “edit menu”.  Now, select the “Internet” menu in the left hand pane.  Click the “New Item” button.  The following window will pop up…fill it in with the information contained in the picture below:

The command line should be (remember the link we made above? let’s use it!):

/usr/local/firefox4/firefox %u

launcher properties

Notice in the picture above the Firefox icon is present…yours most likely isn’t.  In order to set the icon, click the area where it appears above and then select the following image:

When you’re finished, click close.  Firefox 4 should now appear under “Internet” in your Mint Menu.  You can now right click that item and add it to your favorites if you wish.

Now let’s make sure you list Firefox 4 as the default web browser for Gnome.  Do this by opening up the control center in the Mint Menu.  Select “Preferred Applications” inside the control center.  Make sure that you choose ‘custom’ in the drop down menu shown below and the path for the command will be the same as it was for your launcher but instead of a %u you can use a %s at the end of the command (as shown in the picture below):

preferred applications

That should be everything you need to have a good Firefox 4 experience in LMDE.  To uninstall things, you can simply delete the menu items and then delete the directories we created during the install process.

Hopefully this will help those of you out there who want Firefox 4 on your LMDE install!

Back to the Basics with Debian

Sometimes, you just have so many problems with the distribution you’re running that you have to wipe it out with a clean slate. I did that this past week and am now using Debian.

With using Debian there comes a feeling of being back to the very basic of Linux distros…much in the same way when you use Arch…it just feels plain, unencumbered, and basic and there is a feeling you get when build something from nothing…you start with a kernel and just enough CLI tools and create your house…then live in it.

It feels good to be stable. It feels good to not have to worry about programs crashing, the net disconnecting, or not being able to install programs.

People like to ride the unstable or testing route with most things out there…as I move forward in my Linux journey, I find myself looking to be less and less cutting edge and more and more stable. Plus, if there is a program out there that needs updating…backports are always a good way to get them.

I’m enjoying my new digs and will look to getting back into the swing of posting enjoyable articles and how-to’s in the upcoming weeks.