Category: LXDE


Linux Mint Debian: fuck, really?

God damnit. The Linux MInt team has released a version of their OS based on Debian. So why does this anger me? Cause it’s freakin’ awesome, and I thought I finally was done shopping around for a distro. I have become a Lubuntu zealot, even going as far as installing it on random computers around the building. And I thought that was the end of it. Because I have tried Linux Mint before, but it wasn’t for me. Now, I think it’s a fantastic distro. When friends ask me which Linux OS should they begin with, I always say Mint LXDE. But for me, I like Lubuntu better. It just feels “tighter” if that makes sense. But like I said, Mint LXDE is great, and I have a lot of respect for it.

The reason I switched from Debian to Lubuntu is that I prefer distros that feel like they have someone in charge; that have direction. And as great as Debian is, the project seems to lack direction. And god damnit, I need my OS to have a clear vision. That’s why this pisses me off. The Mint project has great leadership and vision. So when you combine that with Debian, well fuck, that’s what I was looking for all along.

But, I do really like LXDE. Not that I hate GNOME (I do hate KDE however), but I prefer to use LXDE. And since Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) is GNOME only, maybe I will have a difficult time installing LXDE and gutting out the GNOME schwag? Nope. It’s not only really easy, it’s better than I had expected. To install LXDE, just add the “lxde-core” meta package from the repos and you have an LXDE session ready to roll. There’s no LXDM in the Debian repos yet, but I don’t get too bent out of shape over login-managers, gdm is fine for me. And removing the schwag? Also not hard. Just kill the main mono library, the main compiz library and the main pulseaudio library, and whatever GNOME utilities you don’t need, and it gets pretty lightweight pretty fast. I refuse to uninstall any package that removes a mint package, like I said, I like vision and I want to see where the team takes this project. And one way to monitor that is to see what apps they decide to include. All of this was expected.

What I didn’t expect, is how easy it was to overcome one of my main pet-peeves with Linux. For some reason, all of the gtk themes other than clearlooks annoy me. And nothing really seems to go with my favorite openbox theme onyx. But the mint team has made an openbox theme “Mint” and a gtk-theme “AuroraMint” that look fantastic together. Like I said, I know this is stupid, but when everything looks “themed” it just feels like a real distribution. I feel stupid typing that, but it’s the way I feel. Toss in some Mint wallpaper, and fuck, I have a really slick looking, fast as hell, LXDE/Debian desktop. Which would have been great, if I hadn’t already committed to Lubuntu.

But it gets even better. Much better. The first is, the Mint team made LMDE a live DVD. Works flawlessly. They also made an installer, a really easy to use one to boot. These are two of the biggest drawbacks to other Debian distros. But the Mint team fixed them both.

But it’s not perfect. One, it’s a live DVD, so it’s a bigger file. Kind of annoying, but by no means a deal breaker. And there’s no native LXDE version. Now, with about 30 min of work, you can have a really slick LXDE desktop, that’s about 95% of what an official Mint LXDE Debian desktop would be like (I guess, I have no idea really, but I can’t think of anything else I can do to make it more “LXDE-like”). But that’s it. Everything else is as expected.

So, LMDE is what you would guess: the Debian repos plus the ease of use and enjoyable design that is a Linux Mint distribution. I can see a lot of Linux Mint GNOME, Lubuntu, Crunchbang, Debian and Ubuntu users switiching to LMDE. Mint might soon become known as a “Debian derivative” as opposed to an “Ubuntu derivative”, LMDE is that good.

The first linux distribution I ever used was Ubuntu, and as it began to annoy me more and more with every release, my frustration finally boiled over and I ended up becoming a chronic distro-hopper. I moved to Xubuntu, then to Crunchbang, then to Debian+LXDE. What I discovered about myself is that I prefer distributions that don’t have a lot of default applications and dependencies. Ubuntu infuriated me with their integration of everything into evolution. I tried to remove the email client and I was told I would also be uninstalling the bulk of my desktop. That was the last straw. Next was Crunchbang, which is awesome, but but not updated as frequently as I liked. I was spoiled by Ubuntu’s 6 month release cycle, and as much as I liked Crunchbang, the old software began to wear on me. I then played around with a minimal Ubuntu+LXDE system, and while the installation was a simple, it didn’t feel like a distribution. That was the same issue that ended my usage of Debian+LXDE, it just never felt like anyone was in charge. That may sound odd, and it’s even a little odd to type, but whoever that Mario Behling guy is, he’s in charge of the project, and if something isn’t right, he’ll fix it, most likely.

Now there are other distributions that fit that description, Crunchbang and all the buntus comes to mind, but they both have their drawbacks. The new Crunchbang is built from Debian and I like the Ubuntu repositories more because of their inclusion of “non-free” packages. Linux nerds redefining the meaning of the word “free” drives me nuts. Free means I don’t have to pay for it. Free doesn’t mean I can sell it as my own as long as I credit the creator. Example: if some gives you a book at no cost, it’s free, even though you’re not allowed to copy it and sell it for profit. So the intel wireless driver I need during installation, but isn’t included because it’s not “free”, actually is free douchebags. But I digress. The other members of the buntu family are the reasons I have become such a huge fan of the LXDE desktop: they come with so much crap I don’t need and can’t easily remove that I just get angry. Lubuntu is truly lightweight, and flat out works. I’ve installed it on my media center, netbook, laptop and desktop, each one without a hitch. Yes, I know that sounds nutty, to install it on every computer I own, but it’s just that good. It’s both the best Ubuntu based distribution AND the best LXDE distribution.

I’m probably jinxing myself, but there is not one thing about Lubuntu I don’t like. Easy as hell to install? Check. LXDE desktop? With the latest components? Yep. Access to the Ubuntu repos? Uh hu. A minimal amount of applications in direct conflict with what appears to be the Ubuntu mission statement? You betcha. Fast as hell? So fast, it’s kind of odd. Why aren’t other distributions this fast? Hell, it even looks nice. The new Ubuntu and Xubuntu are ugly as hell. Lubuntu is a very pleasing blue. This is so weird for me; I used to strongly dislike Ubuntu. And now? I can’t shut up about are awesome one of it’s derivatives is. I attribute most of it to the use of LXDE, and what I can only assume is the amazing vision by that Behling fellow.

But Wicd is good stuff. Anyone know why the buntu’s are so in love with Network Manager? And, why does the LXDE team feel the need to develop their own network manager, when they could just include Wicd in the same way they include Leafpad? Same goes for Slim and LXDM. If there are good lightweight apps out there, just use them.

SLIM in Debian Squeeze

I’m not sure why SLIM isn’t the default login in manager for LXDE, and I’m also not sure why I’ve never installed it before. But I just did, and I’m pretty pleased with the results. Just run

aptitude install slim

and when asked to select a default login manager choose SLIM. Then reboot, and run

aptitude remove gdm

Then use Synaptic to remove the residual config files. I’ve been using SLIM for all of 10 minutes, and it already seems much faster than GDM. To change the default theme, download (or create) a new theme, and place it in

/usr/share/slim/themes

and modify the slim configuration file

/etc/slim.conf

to select to the new theme. I couldn’t find an LXDE theme (I didn’t look very hard either), but I did find a pretty slick Debian one. Does anyone know why the LXDE project is developing their own login manager? This one seems pretty light weight and configurable.

Slick grey Debian theme

Debian+LXDE Squeeze obconf fix

Recent versions of Debian Squeeze with an LXDE desktop generate an error when you try to make and save changes using obconf. The default theme is Clearlooks, and it’s too close to Ubuntu for my liking, I prefer Onyx. This has been fixed in updated packages, but they have not yet made their way into the testing repositories. Here’s how I fixed it

1. Open your sources file and add (or uncomment) the Debian testing repositories

sudo leafpad /etc/apt/sou*

and then add or uncomment

deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
deb-src http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free

2. The update your LXDE desktop with the LXDE packages from testing

apt-get update
apt-get -t unstable install lxde

3. Make sure you install the lxde meta-package and not just lxsession as it will generate an error and not let you boot into a working desktop (trust me).

4. Comment-out or remove the testing repositories and run

apt-get update

to ensure that you don’t accidentally upgrade to Sid the next time you run a system update. You should be able to make and save changes in obconf now.

I always have problems finding this information, so here it is. Why is the 24 hour mode default?

Adjust the LXDE clock

New LXDE wallpaper

There aren’t many LXDE wallpapers out there, and I like to rep my desktop as much as possible. Plus this one is pretty cool.

New LXDE wallpaper