July 21, 2012
If you’ve tried to compile the source code for bbdock, that nifty little blackbox dock, on Debian Wheezy (and presumably other recent distros) without much success, try Markus Fisch’s bbdock code on github. If you have the proper dependencies installed (libx11-dev and libpng-dev on Debian) it should compile with the usual ./configure, make, and make install.
January 2, 2012
About a year ago I retired most of my computers, and am now left with only two: Loka, my old desktop (now with a new 23″ screen), and Savitar, a Thinkpad X41 I bought about 18 months ago.
Both computers run Debian Testing. My main desktop environments and window managers on Loka have been Xfce with Openbox and WindowMaker, which I rediscovered this year. On Savitar, I used only Openbox and Awesome.
Xfce 4.6 with Openbox, using the Alghattas Openbox and Gtk theme, and the Elementary icons. I don’t remember where I found the wallpaper.
Xfce 4.8 with Openbox, using the Erthe Openbox and Gtk theme, and the AnyColorYouLike icons.
Awesome, with the Children of the Earth Awesome theme, Gtk theme, and icons, and Caspar David Friedrich’s Monk am See.
Openbox with the Children of the Earth Openbox theme.
January 2, 2012
I had written this a year ago, but somehow forgot to post it. But here are my screenshots from two years ago.
As I’ve been doing for a few years now, I am posting screenshots of my desktops of the past year, to amuse you (nearly everyone likes to look at screenshots), to document my changing aesthetics, and to capture my mood of the year as reflected in these images.
Below are the screenshots of the computers I’ve used in the past year. Aryaman is a Thinkpad 240 I bought on ebay for £10. I used it particularly when travelling, or when working in a library. I no longer use Mitra (my 11 year old Dell Inspiron 2500) and Yantra (my 10 year old Compaq Presario), but recently gave them away to others who found some good use for them. Loka is my old desktop.
Openbox 3.4.10 in Xfce 4.6, with the Fearless Openbox theme, the Umbra Gtk theme, and the Iris icon theme.
Pekwm 0.1.11, with the Elegance Pekwm and Gtk theme, and the Iris icon theme.
Pekwm 0.1.12, with an updated Groove Pekwm and Gtk theme, and the nuoveXT-1.7 icon theme.
Pekwm 0.1.12, with the Groove Pekwm and Gtk theme. The icons are from the Any Colour You Like icon theme.
Pekwm 0.1.12, with the Groove Pekwm and Gtk theme. The wallpaper is home made.
Openbox 3.4.10, with the Brume Openbox and Gtk theme.
February 7, 2011
For all my Tex needs, I use Gedit with the excellent Latex plugin. For a while I used Texworks. I particularly liked its “Jump to pdf” and “Jump to source” feature (which I wish more Latex editors would implement), but in the end, its sparse customisability or lack of extensibility and its fairly basic default features led me back to Gedit (after a brief stop at Gummi, a young, but promising Latex editor).
The Gedit Latex plugin uses rubber to build the pdf of your text file. I write my documents in Xelatex, however, and not in Latex, because I need Unicode fonts (for Devanagari and diacritics). As it turns out, it is really easy to use rubber with Xelatex. Simply add the following line to your .tex file:
% rubber: set program xelatex
November 27, 2010
When I’m working on my computer, I often lose track of time. In itself I don’t mind this, but the downside is that I often am not aware of the different sandhyas, the different phases of the day (sunrise, noon and sunset) at which I should meditate on the Gayatri mantras I received at initiation.
Luckily, with Linux it is very easy to have your computer remind you that it is nearly time to chant. All you need is crontab and gxmessage. Crontab is part of the default installation of many distributions, and gxmessage is easily installed (. Here is how you would do it.
First of all, you’ll need to create a Gxmessage script. Here is what I use:
gmessage "It is time to chant your Gayatri mantras" -center -title "Take action" -font "Sans bold 7" -geometry 300x100 -default "Remind me later" -center -buttons "_Remind me later":1,"I'll _chant now":2 >/dev/null
case $? in
(sleep 10m && /home/USERNAME/.scripts/Gayatri_gmessage);;
Save the file in a convenient location as (I keep it in ~/.scripts/) as Gayatri_reminder or whatever else you like, and make the file executable with the following command:
chmod +x /home/USERNAME/.scripts/Gayatri_reminder
(Wherever you save it, make sure that the line which reads “sleep 10m && /home/USERNAME/.scripts/Gayatri_gmessage” in the above example points to the location of your script.)
If you’d like to test the script, you should be able to either double click on the file, or to enter the full path to the file in a terminal to launch Gxmessage. The script should launch a window that looks like this (it should follow your general Gtk theme):
If you click “Remind me later” the window will pop up again 10 minutes later; if you click “I’ll chant now” the message will simply close. You can change those settings (including the text that is displayed) by editing the script I gave above.
Now you’ll need to tell your operating system that you want this script to be run every day at noon and at 6pm. To accomplish this, you can use cron and crontab. Cron is a daemon that executes scheduled commands. It is normally started automatically when you start your computer. Crontab is a little application that allows you to add or remove scheduled commands for individual users. To add an entry for your Gayatri reminder message, start crontab in the edit mode with the following command:
If you have never used crontab before, an empty file should open that looks like this:
# m h dom mon dow command
This indicates the structure you need to use for crontab entries: for each entry you can specify the minute (0-59), the hour (0-23, 0 = midnight), the day of the month (1-31),the month (1-12), and the day of the week (0-6, 0 = Sunday), and finally the command you want to be executed at that time. If you want to run a command every day of the month, or every day of the week, you can enter an asterisk (*) as the value to that setting.If you want to cron to launch an application with a graphical user interface, such as Gxmessage, you need to specify what screen to display it on with the command export DISPLAY=:0. If you only have a single screen, you need to use DISPLAY=:0; if you have more than one screen and would like the message to appear not on the first screen change the number accordingly (to :1 or :2).
So if you want this Gxmessage script to be run every day at noon,and at 6pm, you would add two entries in crontab that looks like this:
00 12 * * * export DISPLAY=:0 && /home/USERNAME/.scripts/Gayatri_reminder
00 18 * * * export DISPLAY=:0 && /home/USERNAME/.scripts/Gayatri_reminder
This will run the script every day of every month and every day of the week (the three *s) at 00 minutes past 12 and 18 hours. The command part of each line ( export DISPLAY=:0 && /home/USERNAME/.scripts/Gayatri_gmessage) specifies that the Gayatri_reminder script is to be run on the first screen.
There are some obvious drawbacks to this system. If you want to be very strict and meditate on the Gayatri mantras at the exact sandhya times, this method is not very practical, unless you live close to the equator where the sunrise, sunset and when the sun reaches its zenith are nearly at the same time of day all year round. I started writing a script that took the exact sunset times into consideration, and had some success, but lost that script and can’t be bothered to rewrite it. Maybe I’ll revisit it in the future, but for now this system works fine. I’d rather chant my Gayatri mantras slightly off time, than forget them entirely.
June 16, 2010
This post is really meant for me, to remind me later how to do this, but perhaps you’ll find something useful in it too.
This is a little script using zenity that functions as a timer . When I run the script I am asked to enter a task description and then in how many minutes I want to be reminded of that (“10″ is ten seconds, “10m” is ten minutes). When the time is up, a simple dialog appears that reminds me to do the task I set myself.
#!/bin/bash # REMINDER=`zenity --entry --title="Timer" \ --text="What should I do?"` WAIT=`zenity --entry --title="Timer" \ --text="When should I do this?"` sleep $WAIT zenity --info --title="Timer" --text="$REMINDER"
Now I no longer need to launch a panel to run a timer panel applet (which I am sorry to admit I did for a while). This is simple and works great.
May 20, 2010
And here, with some delay, is my review of 2009.
As I mentioned a year ago my desktops generally reflect my mood. I chose a particular wallpaper and a matching theme or colour scheme that speaks to me at the time. The pictures that follow thus capture 2009, as I lived it.
Last year I did not change my desktop that much. I found a few themes I really liked (Umbra, Children of the Earth, Eidolon and Salvage on the four computers I’ve used last year) and stuck with them or repeatedly revisited them.
I’ve mainly used Openbox last year, but when I discovered Musca, that became the default window manager on Mitra (and the only screenshot you see of that was my desktop for a very long time).
Yantra and Mitra are laptops (an 8 year old Compaq and a 9 year old Dell respectively). Loka is a desktop of a similar age, while Grantha is my office computer. Yantra was my main computer up until October, when I began to use Loka more (after neglecting it for a few years). The screenshots are grouped per computer and ordered chronologically (oldest first), as good as I could remember.
All the screenshots of Mitra and Loka below are of Debian Testing (first Lenny, then Squeeze), with the exception of the first Loka screenshot which is still of an Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper) install. Yantra and Grantha run Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy).
August 17, 2009
One of the little things I do not like about Debian (and there are not that many of them!) is that the Iceweasel icons are…uhm…strange. Look at it:
The weasel’s body has a really odd, wide and flat shape (look at his hind leg!) and the poor creature looks exhausted and sad. But when you consider what the Iceweasel folks want to suggest with the picture (access http: //www.geticeweasel.org/ with Iceweasel and you’ll see) the picture is not just odd but rather disturbing.
That Iceweasel has such a terrible icon is sad, especially since there have been so many good alternatives available from the very beginning. The Ubuntu Wiki contains a whole page of different icons that are terrific. My favourite is without a doubt this one:
It is easy to change the icon of Iceweasel’s launcher or menu item (if you use one), but how do change the icon that appears in the taskbar or the alt-tab dialog? It isn’t much harder, really.
Iceweasel stores its icons in /usr/share/iceweasel/chrome/icons/default and /usr/share/iceweasel/icons. Replace those icons with the icons of your choice. Make sure your new icons have the same shape/size, name, and filetype — you can change all that with Gimp if necessary. Restart Iceweasel, and you’ll notice the icons have changed.
The Iceweasel icons stored in /usr/share/pixmaps and /usr/lib/iceweasel/ are linked to /usr/share/iceweasel/chrome/icons/default/ so they will be changed automatically when you change those icons.