Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Thoughts on Xfce 4.6.0

Xfce, the cholesterol free X windows desktop environment, is rock solid. Thanks to Robby Workman's excellent packaging it went right in and worked from the very first startx.

Only one personal gotcha in the upgrade. I was/am/will be a BIG fan of the right-button-click access to the full application menu. Oh, I know it is in there...but another level down... and it used to be soooo simple.

Explanation to follow...

It is always the smallest of things that seem to bring the wheels of progress to a screeching halt - sand in the gears, if you will.

Well the 'one personal gotcha' turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Papa's Rule #3: If a tool doesn't meet the hand, don't pick it up.

If you have ever tried to do real work with someone else's hammer you know exactly what I am referring to. This applies to the intimate art of personal computing. This is the foundation of my interest and full time use of Linux. With Linux I have been afforded a selection of tools to choose from. With Linux I have found a selection of tools that meet the hand.

That is until I encountered Xfce 4.6.0. By way of subtle recanting the things I said about Robby Workman's packaging are absolutely true - it did install and run flawlessly. Then the little grains of sand in 4.6.0 began to grind against my gears.

I mentioned the Applications menu - being 'buried' another level down on the right-button-click menu. I might have been able to overcome this except for one very important thing. When I went to Menu Edit and tried to customize I ended up with a boulder in my gear box. The Menu Editor could see my previously customized menu ( ~/.config/.../menu.xml). It would even let me edit and save it. BUT when I went back to the right-button-click menu my customizations were not available. ARRRRGH! FAIL!

Then there was another little tiny gain of sand that found its way into my well oiled GUI. A small matter of the panel applet for accessing the audio mixer. Oh, sure, it worked well enough BUT the applet itself did not have the volume slider bar control on the panel itself. Again, I would have to drill into the mixer control to adjust the volume. Three steps backwards, one step forward.

Now before my critic(s?) claim that I wasn't diligent I went on to try the Volume Control applet. Which appears to be exactly the same as the Mixer Control applet.


Here the real beauty of Slackware Linux shines through. Referrencing the same packages that I used to install Xfce 4.6.0 I turned right around and did a removepkg on 4.6.0 and it was gone. I then went back to the Slackware 12.2 DVD, drilled to the /slackware/xap folder and did a installpkg on the original Xfce tarball. BINGO - startx put my familiar Xfce back on my screen.

Except for one minor detail. I had to run xfce-panel manually the first time to 're-initialize' it. Once done I had everything back to the original state.


I will make my views regarding Menus and menu editing known to the Xfce community. Perhaps in their copious spare time they can both clean up and sort out the issues. (More to my point perhaps they can follow the FVWM model that allowed users to assign what ever they wanted to which ever button.)

As for Xfce 4.6.0 ... I will take a wait and see approach to 'progress' ... and following Papa's Rule #3 I will hesitate to pickup a tool that doesn't meet the hand.

Monday, March 02, 2009

AdBlock Plus Surprise

Hard to blog when my editing interface doesn't give me my toolbar!!! Seems that a recent update of Adblock Plus (A great Firefox add-on) wasn't allowing the editing toolbar for to be displayed. Actually it was just the editing icons. Hmmmm. I put "" in My Exception Rules and now everything is blogging away happily.

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