Category Archives: Ubuntu Forums

Peppermint: Just like any other Lubuntu, only more so

These days you only get about 15 minutes of originality before someone grabs your idea, swirls it around into a slightly different shape, and then rereleases it as their own. That’s a good thing really. But it does mean that mentioning Peppermint Linux immediately after mentioning Lubuntu is the appropriate thing to do, considering it came hot on the heels of Lubuntu’s imprimatur.

I have to admit up front that I am not a netbook owner, a Linux Mint fan nor a proponent of cloud-based computing. If anything, I find it amazing that (for example) in the midst of so much negativity over Facebook’s supposedly obtuse privacy policies, people are still interested in foisting all their computer habits out into the wild.

But it’s always possible that you are one, two or even all three of those things. In that case, a Mint rendition of Lubuntu is probably quite attractive. The system profile is almost indistinguishable from its progenitor — roughly 100Mb on cold start. And the framework is obviously still Lubuntu, with the addition of Mint’s flair — things like preinstalled Flash, or the Mint software upgrader.

But Peppermint subtracts almost all the standalone software that I mentioned yesterday, and in its place are shortcuts to web-based alternatives. You can see some of them in the screenshot — things like Pandora, pixlr, the Google suite, Facebook, Hulu and so forth. Almost everything is wired to run through Prism, which I don’t really know as much more than a stripped out version of Firefox, intended to reclaim screen space for web-based applications.

Maybe that’s the underlying principle here — tear out the generally accepted tools to make “space” for remote substitutes. I’m not sure I follow the logic, but if that’s conventional wisdom, I won’t fight it.

And I also wonder why there is such a press for lightweight systems among netbook users, when even some of the most basic models appear to have speedy processors and gigabytes of memory. Why squabble over the difference between a bland Ubuntu Gnome installation and a Lubuntu-based cloud-computing system when you have hardware that can probably handle either one?

Ultimately it all falls to preference, and we’re back to the most important idea: Freedom to change and choose. So if Peppermint appeals to you because you believe you’re sparing your netbook the effort of thrashing through the Gnome desktop, and at the same time undercutting the system requirements of Lubuntu … well, you are always welcome to use it.

But the clock is ticking, and there are only a few minutes left before someone carves up Peppermint, and rereleases it as something new. Move fast. πŸ˜‰


Carving up the corpse of Fluxbuntu

I’ve never been a big Fluxbox fan; my allegiance fell to the side of Openbox, and even today that’s where I find myself most at home. On the other hand, a thread on the Ubuntu forums the other day brought Fluxbuntu back to mind, which reminded me of the only Fluxbox desktop I ever really cared for, aesthetically speaking.


To me, that’s a rather pleasant Fluxbox arrangement, if for no other reason than it doesn’t look like an exploding star. Sometimes it seems like every Fluxbox fan is trying to out-sci-fi the others.

Those are the original styles and icon themes from the Fluxbuntu 7.10 alternate ISO, which is still available from the site’s home page. If you want to carve those out of the ISO, mount it to your system like this:

mount -t iso9660 -o loop fluxbuntu-7.10-installer-i386.iso /mnt

From there, you can dredge out the original deb packages in /mnt/pool/main/, with the bulk of the cool stuff in the /f/ sub-folder. Look for fluxbuntu-artwork, fluxbuntu-default-settings and fluxbuntu-meta, and probably fluxconf can’t hurt. In the /g/ folder copy out gtk2-engines-salsa, and from /s/ the salsa-icon-theme folder.

If you’re running Ubuntu you can probably just install Fluxbox and then force dpkg to install those deb files and start it up. If you’re using Arch, grab the deb2targz tool out of the repositories, transmogrify each one of those debs into tar.gz files, then extract them to your root directory — the file structure will drop them perfectly into place. Probably most other distros could follow that same route, and get these same results.

I didn’t put the desktop icons on my system, mostly because it’s more work than it’s worth for me. And you’ll still have to manage the right-click menu to put the programs you want in your system. I like looking at PCManFM if I am going to have that green theme going, but you’re free to experiment.

To close, it’s a bit of a shame that the Fluxbuntu project sputtered and died. It had a quick, short run and was becoming quite popular before it melted away into dust. Kind of like an exploding star. πŸ˜‰

P.S.: Bonus! If you check out the Launchpad pages for fluxbuntu-design, you’ll find a wallpaper there that approaches the same theme, but is slightly different. Unreleased mystery wallpaper? Who knows. Worth a look, either way. …

VICE 2.2 for Ubuntu 10.04

datenraffzahn has suggested a quick one-step edit to keep the VICE Commodore Emulator from crashing when it compiles under Ubuntu 10.04. In essence, you replace one word with the number “1” and everything finishes fine.


So the four-year-old howto is still working, for both the xaw and Gnome UI versions. Thanks to datenraffzahn for posting that; you may now continue in your conquest of Bruce Lee. πŸ˜‰

Ubuntu 10.04 Desktop i386 bootable USB image

Clonezilla does it. Arch Linux does it. A lot of other distros do it. But Ubuntu still doesn’t offer an image you can flash to a USB hard drive to make a clean installation with.

It’s true, there is a Startup Disk Creator tool that will write out an Ubuntu system to a USB connection, but you still have to get Ubuntu running to get to that point. For example, in my case I downloaded the ISO, burned it to a CDRW, booted into a live system, and then I could access the disk creator.

unetbootin is an option — and really, it’s more than just an option. That’s a fantastic program and good to have on hand no matter what system you’re using. With that you can usually spit any ISO onto a USB drive and it will start up like a CDROM. Usually.

But what would be nice is if some kind soul made a bootable USB drive, wrote out the image to a file with dd, and uploaded it. Then everyone could share in the quick download and dd it to a drive and just boot. …

Why is everybody looking at me? 😯

Okay, here is the Ubuntu 10.04 desktop ISO for i386, flashed out to a 1Gb USB drive with the Startup Disk Creator, and written back with dd. The image has been tested on my end, but of course that’s no guarantee it’ll work as planned. But there are no customizations in place, no freaky wallpaper or third-party repositories.

Write this to a USB drive by inserting the USB stick, then checking the drive assignment with fdisk -l. Once you know the drive label, you can type

dd if=ubuntu-10.04-desktop-i386.img of=/dev/sdX

Make sure you change the X to the letter for your USB drive. And remember that anything you have on that drive is going to be overwritten. Permanently. Forever. The end.

I might be able to do this for the x86_64 architecture too, but I won’t be able to test the results, since I don’t have a machine that will boot the stick after it is written. If you decide to do the same thing and share it, please test and tell us where to get it. Cheers, all.

P.S.: Thanks to markp1989 for reminding me of this.

Let’s not make a big deal out of it

I made a big deal out of it when I started, and I made a big deal out of it when I stopped, but this time I’ll just put a note here quickly, to mark the fact that I put my moderator uniform back on yesterday. It’s been a year or so since I stepped down and in that time my workload has tapered a little bit.

I enjoy working with the staff on the Ubuntu Forums and I think I can fill out at least a few hours a week, as a volunteer service. So after an unrelated PM with Bapoumba, all the interested parties agreed, and now my name is in red again.

Yes, it coincides with the Lucid release. That is just coincidence, I swear. πŸ™„

Guess I better update my About page. … πŸ™‚

Two unusualΒ signs

Either someone is baiting me, or the tide has turned and the command line is regaining some prominence. Of course it probably never lost much prominence to start with, just suffered a little bad-mouthing, which no one ever died from.

But any time I spot two threads in the same day in the Ubuntu Forums — the Ubuntu forums mind you, where you’re more likely to meet complaints about the CLI than a notes of support for it — that poll its popularity or ask about X-less systems, then something is afoot.

There’s not a lot to be gleaned from a terrifically unscientific poll of command-line use, or a random callout for anyone running without X. In fact, had they occurred anywhere else — the Arch Forums, for example, or even the Debian forums — and you could probably safely overlook them altogether.

Arch Linux users, after all, are notorious command-line freaks who boast of their keyboarding prowess with screenshots of bizarre window managers like xmonad and Musca. And the elite of the elite of Debian peer down through the clouds that surround their aeries and wonder why you’re still using a mouse. Is your keyboard broken, perhaps?

I kid. I know it’s unusual to find an Ubuntu user who veers clear of X, since stripping away most of the graphical element of Ubuntu is stripping away most of Ubuntu … meaning that what’s left resembles other distros more than it resembles Ubuntu. You could call that the common denominator between all Linux systems, and it would be a warm, happy moment. πŸ™„

But … all things being equal, it’s nice to see some recognition of the command line, with a large percentage of that aforementioned terrifically unscientific poll going toward “daily use.” And it’s nice to hear about a few other people, in the midst of so many Ubuntu devotees, voicing a preference for such a large chunk of it omitted.

What it all means in the grand scope of things … I have no idea. πŸ˜‰

In pursuit of productivity

Everyone has their own definition of productivity, and their own vision of how best to achieve it.

For my own part, I get more done by avoiding all the desktop doodads and whirligigs. I have my own faint streak of attention deficit disorder to contend with, but I would suspect that a lot of the desktop gadgets and tools that people consider essential to their day-to-day tasks … are really just stealing their attention away from the things they should be doing.

So I stand by my answer to that thread — that the most productive desktop for me has been one without any superficial layout or oddball keystrokes or hot-wired graphical arrangement or esoteric time management software. You’re free to add or subtract from just about any desktop or packaged distribution, just as you’re free to build up from nothing and fine-tune every last option. That’s the beauty of Linux.

But I still feel less is more. Take away the distractions and you will find yourself getting more done at a better pace, and if that’s what you mean by “productivity,” that’s what I mean by my answer. :mrgreen: