Changing to SDDM on SuperMario (Fedora 22)

Whenever I boot up post upgrade to Fedora 22, it takes much longer to load KDM than it used to. So I thought maybe it has something to do with Wayland and the fact that KDM is EOL’d. So I thought I’d convert to SDDM. I had no idea how to change DMs in the modern day, so I decided to look it up and ask on LinuxQuestions.org. Eventually, I found it on a stack overflow page:

systemctl stop kdm

systemctl disable kdm

systemctl enable sddm

systemctl start sddm

At first it wouldn’t load the greeter – and I think that was related to what I wrote about here and the default Fedora theme. Then I got it to load once and no users were there to select. Turns out that since I’ve been using Fedora for a long time, my UID was too low. It was only checking as low as 1000. So I changed the value in /etc/sddm.conf to have 500 as the minimum UID. After that….

It worked. The greeter had my name and I could type my password. It’d be nice if it could have my user image since I have that associated with KDE. It just shows a generic shadow-dude. I’ll have to look up how to change it. All the test images I’ve seen have cats for the user images. So it must be possible to change. I noticed somewhat less flickering when going from “Plymouth” to SDDM and from SDDM to Plasma desktop, but neither the greeter nor the Plasma desktop loaded any faster than usual. I have a decent processor (8 core KDE) and a good amount of RAM (8 GB) so I can only assume at this point that it’s my aging graphics card. I’m talking 5-10 minutes to get to a desktop I can do anything with. I’ve asked before and never gotten an answer – but if there’s a way to profile my login and see if some old program or helper I installed aeons ago is causing the issues, I’d love to use it.

Neat KDE Connect Behavior

I have KDE connect installed on my computer and phone. KDE connect allows phone alerts to appear on my computer – letting me see if I’m getting a text or something. It just went off, letting me know I had a phone call. What’s neat is that I was listening to music and it paused the music until the phone call was over. While there might be some circumstances where that wouldn’t be the best default (say a party where I was playing the music), it’s certainly neat in the context of a personal computer.

My First Attempt at Customizing my Fedora 22 KDE 5 Plasma Desktop 5

So I found out today that there is no way to re-enable different backgrounds and plasmoids per virtual desktop. It appears to be a mix of forcing people to finally use activities and a complication that was causing all kinds of bugs (according to their bugzilla). I was bummed for about an hour. The different backgrounds can make it very easy to know what virtual desktop you’re at without having to glance at the pager. And if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time longer than a couple months you have seen my Desktop Screenshots and know how much I customize it in KDE.

My usual setup had 3 virtual desktops with the last one being dedicated for the web. So in effect just two. Ballooning the number of activities I use by 1.5-2 times isn’t that big a deal – especially as the KDE programmers have done a good job of making switching nearly as fast as switching virtual desktops. It’ll just take a slight paradigm shift. So, here’s my first attempt at a KDE 5/ Plasma Desktop 5 customization:

I’m sure, just like my first attempt at KDE 4 desktops, in 2010 or 2011, I’ll look back and cringe on what I thought was a good idea. But for now I’m just trying to recreate a semblance of what I had in KDE 4.

Fedora 22 Upgrade Part 5: supermario

I was pleasantly surprised to see the next day, when I woke up, that plasma had loaded up despite the fact that I removed kmod-nvidia. Also, I did not have the same issue with KDM as I did with tanukimario. I was loaded in with the blue triangle background. I was greeted with the message “Your saved type “kde-plasma” is not valid any more. Please select a new one, otherwisee ‘default’ will be used.” I select “Plamsa” and am greeted with the KDE loading screen I’ve become oh-so familiar with.

Things load a bit slowly, although perhaps that has to do with the lack of the nvidia driver. I’ll have to check that presently. Interestingly, my activities have come along for the ride. Fedora didn’t eliminate them in the conversion to KDE/Plasma 5. I *did* lose my backgrounds and widgets which is par for the course. An

rpm -aq *nvidia*

seems to confirm that the packages haven’t somehow akmod installed themselves.

I start off with a

dnf groupinstall  "Fedora Workstation" "KDE Plasma Workspace" "Basic Desktop"

to make sure I have the base packages I’d have if I’d done a basic install. It includes a few more Gnome packages than I probably would have with a KDE install, but I’d probably end up with those anyway as I installed some Gnome stuff. dnf seems to run faster than yum did on the same system. Also, it was faster to load into Plasma 5 than it had been to go into Plasma 4.

Then

dnf install kmod-nvidia-340xx

that was incredibly quick! Then a distro-sync and a reboot. Interestingly, after all that my reboot led to my KDE desktop having a Fedora logo for the Kickstart menu instead of a K. Interestingly, despite my activities making it over, my virtual desktops were reduced to 1. Between a quick perusal of the settings and my memories of upgrading Kubuntu to Plamsa Workspaces 5, it’ll probably be somewhere between 1-3 weeks before I have all the settings the way I like them. Also, I can’t wait to try out KDE Connect! Once I have things configured, expect some desktop screenshot updates.

Fedora 22 Upgrade Part 4: supermario

Today was the big one, time to upgrade supermario, my workhorse machine. As usual I had to remove the kmod-nvidia packages. This time around, because my card was getting a little long in the tooth, it was the kmod-nvidia-340xx packages. I also had a bunch of plasmoid packages to get rid of that I didn’t need to remove on the other computers because I was only a heavy plasmoid user on this computer. Thankfully, I’d long since abandoned all the ones I had to get rid of. After running fedup 3 times (once initially, once after removing plasmoids, and once after removing kmod-nvidia packages) to make sure nothing was expected by the program to cause problems upon upgrade, I finally rebooted to upgrade. If the past is any indication, I should be able to get to a screen where I can reinstall kmod-nividia after the upgrades. I’m only a tiny bit worried that Fedora only seems to connect to the internet when a GUI comes up, but if it comes to that I’ll investigate what I need to do and be sure to publish the procedures here for anyone else in the same boat.

Fedora 22 Upgrade Part 3: kuribo

Today I upgraded my netbook. Interestingly, this had less problems than yesterday with the guest computer. Perhaps because I wasn’t using KDM on my netbook? Anyway, I was actually expecting a worse time, but it worked out. It appears that KDE Netbook edition didn’t make the jump to Plasma 5. But maybe it’s just a setting I need to discover. See, my netbook is a 2nd gen netbook – not a piece of garbage like our EEE Machine, but it has a sub-HD resolution and so using most programs is hard unless the Window Manager or Desktop Environment is getting rid of window decorations. So far, KDE 5 is OK. I may end up going to Fluxbox. (I did not like XFCE on this screen resolution) Here’s my desktop as of now:

Kuribo on Fedora 22 in KDE 5
Kuribo on Fedora 22 in KDE 5

Something nice and clean about that background image with the new, flat Plasma 5/KDE 5 and its monochromatic icons. KDE is a bit SLOW for this laptop with its underpowered Atom N455, but I may stick with it. We’ll see.

My Main Linux Activity Desktops

I just updated the Desktop Screenshot page. Here’s a gallery of my latest desktop with KDE 4:

Taking Fedora 22 KDE Spin Beta for a spin

It’ll be of no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I’m both a fan of the Fedora distribution of Linux as well as the KDE desktop. For the first time in six years, the KDE desktop is changing again. While the change is not as radical as the change from KDE 3 to KDE 4, it’s still a big technological change. I decided I couldn’t wait until May to experience it, so I took a look at the current beta from within virt-manager. Here’s the default desktop:

Fedora 22 KDE Beta
Fedora 22 KDE Beta

As you can see, it’s a cleaner default than KDE 4 where they were showcasing the folderview widget up front. Additionally, like everyone else in the tech world, they’ve gone for a flat look on the icons. This is easily seen on the “Leave” part of the Kickoff Menu:

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Leave Menu
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Leave Menu

There are two things I like about it: 1) it’s a clean aesthetic and 2) it does not hinder people with color or contrast eyesight issues. On the taskbar they’ve taken some steps to reduce clutter. I currently have mine hidden on my KDE 4 desktop as I find it useless for all but knowing the time, but I did find myself sometimes thinking there was a bit too much clutter in the past.

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Status Bar
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Status Bar

Here you can see that a number of previously separate sections have been joined into one. Clicking on either of those tells you about them. Sure, it’s one more click than it was before, but it does save screen real estate.

I certainly appreciate that the activities menu is now vertical. I think it makes more sense with the way we’re used to dealing with information on a screen.

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Adding Activities
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Adding Activities

I decide to go ahead and add an activity. It asks me to name (and potentially select an icon):

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Adding Activities 2
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Adding Activities 2

It does so. Interestingly, it does not ask about templates as it does in KDE 4. I’m not sure if this is to simplify things or simply hasn’t been readded. I tried to add a new wallpaper from the “Download Wallpapers” button, but the wall paper service get an API error. So I download one of my own so I know which desktop I’m on. I try the shortcut key for switching activities, but it appears to be mapped to a different set of keys than it is in KDE 4. It should be the same key. I’m going to chalk this up to the fact that it’s a VM.

The movement between activities is smooth and fast even though it’s in a VM which is more than I can say for the activities in KDE 4 (at least on my machine). So far on my Kubuntu laptops I’ve gone from KDE 4 to KDE 5 and they seem to have done the smartest thing (even if it’ll mean an annoying day or two) which is to start from scratch rather than trying to migrate settings. As my long-time readers know, I’m a heavy user of widgets. For example, here’s a recent version of my current Internet desktop on the main activity (I have the same widgets now, but in a different configuration):

Main Activity - Desktop 3
Main Activity – Desktop 3

So if I look at the current KDE 5 offerings, I can do some of this.

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Widgets 1
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Widgets 1

But I’m missing some stuff. The Ktorrent widget isn’t there. The Quicklaunch isn’t there (although I can add in the icons one at a time as separate widgets). Again, the API isn’t working for getting new stuff. (And the internet’s working – that’s how I got a new background for my second activity).

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Widgets 2
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Widgets 2

KDE 5 comes by default with only one virtual desktop.  I went searching for how to add more and came across these settings that probably explain why the shortcut wasn’t working:

Fedora 22 KDE Beta Activities Settings 1
Fedora 22 KDE Beta Activities Settings 1

I think they still haven’t added my wishlist item: different numbers of virtual desktops per activity. I think that would make activities WAY more valuable for me and possibly even make it make sense for those who still don’t get the point. When I’m compiling software I might want a half dozen virtual desktops so I can have all my Konsole windows maximized, but for my regular activity I might only want 2 or 3.

Overall, nearly everything about KDE 5 seems more professional and polished than KDE 4 which was more polished than the cartoony KDE 3.

Here’s a video I shot with RecordMyDesktop showing how smoothly KDE 5 runs (even in a VM!)

Overall, I’m pretty excited for Fedora 22 to land with KDE 5. I’m going to miss some of the widgets. (I also make heavy use of the Kate and Konsole widgets) But I’m sure some of those will reappear soon enough. Overall, KDE 5 seems to be in a much better place at 5.3 than KDE 4 was at the same time.

An appeal for keeping KDE Activities

As KDE 5 reaches 5.2 and many begin to debate its features (this is a small evolution on 4 compared to the difference between 3 and 4) there has been an ever-increasing assertion that Activities are pointless. (At least it appears that way to me) I wanted to share how I use Activities, why they make me more productive, and why they’re the biggest feature keeping me on KDE.

So, I have lots of Activities: Main, Media, School, Photography, Video Games, Video Editing, Programming, and Reading. In its current implementation, each Activity must have the same number of virtual desktops; three in my case. In each activity I make use of different widgets. On nearly all of them are the brilliant folder view and application launcher widgets. These allow me to quickly see the folders relevant to the task at hand. In the case of the Multimedia activity, desktop 1, this is very useful for my workflow. Let’s look at that desktop:

Multimedia Activity - Desktop 1Clicking on the image should make it a useful size. (You may want to open it in a separate tab or window to follow along) There are two workflows for new music I acquire. Let’s start with music I buy from Amazon. For some reason, even though there is no DRM on the music, Amazon makes it very hard to efficiently d/l music if you don’t use their app, which isn’t available on Linux. So I buy my music on my Windows (Bowser) computer and d/l it there. Then I move it to the shared drive on BabyLuigi. That appears on the middle-right folder view here. I then move it to the folder to its left. There I run a script to exact spaces from the folders and files. Once that script is run, I can move it to the folder above, my Music folder. There it’s automatically picked up by both Google Music (for listening on the go) and Amarok (for listening at my computer) Whether at the commandline or with a mouse and Dolphin, it would be way more inefficient than the way I currently have things set up. The bottom-most folder is for music I get other ways – legitimate d/ls that I can do on my Linux computer. Once I extract zips/tarballs, I can quickly copy them into the Music folder. So you see how I’m using KDE’s widgets to make life better for me.

One more similar example. Here’s my Main Desktop 3:

Main Activity - Desktop 3
Main Activity – Desktop 3

The right monitor usually has some web browser open. All my web browsers and other Internet programs are there for me to click on in the bottom right. Overall, the Internet is less fractious than it used to be, but some things, like Google’s Inbox only work in Chrome. Above is my own tmp directory (separate from the system one). I use it as a tmp folder the deletes after a certain amount of time (3 months, I think) rather than on reboot so I save all my desktop screenshots there. I can see what I have, drag-drop into WordPress, etc. And on the left the top is my Download folder and the bottom is the same music folder you saw at the bottom of the Media desktop. This allows me to move music downloads into there and then later, when I’m doing audio stuff I can already have it in the right place . In the middle of it all, my Ktorrent widget. Pretty useful to see the status of my d/ls. Here I can see that one of the comics from the Dynamite Humble Bundle is done.

Now, you might be asking – why use activities for this? Why not use 24 virtual desktops? Two reasons. First of all, in this setup I put my web browser into the third desktop and make it active across all virtual desktops. This means that access to the web is never more than 1 hop away. (If I’m in virtual desktop 1, I can wrap-around backwards) If I had 24 virtual desktops, I’d have to jump around a LOT to find the web. If I made it into a 12×2 grid (or any other setup that equals 24), I’d have to figure out where I was in order to get there as quickly as possible; not efficient!

Second, I don’t always need all these things. The best thing about Activities is that they can be turned off. This saves me from having too many widgets in memory and from having to scroll through virtual desktops I use once in a while. I might use the programming Activity constantly for a few weeks and then not use it again for months. The only ones I constantly have open are Main, Multimedia, and School (when I’m doing a graduate degree semester). The rest of them open/close as necessary. In fact, when using only KDE programs, they can be automatically opened/closed when you open/close an activity – which is pretty convenient.

There are lots of other things I like about KDE, but many of them are either in other desktop environments or can trivially be added. It is Activities that primarily keep me from Xfce or something else even simpler. Hopefully there are others with similar experiences and we can keep this great technology – and maybe even grow its uses. Maybe krunner can learn what I tend to launch or search for in each activity and tailor my search results to match.

Updated to KDE 5

On the guest computer I updated to Kubuntu Vivid Alpha so I could check out KDE 5. Looks awesome – lots of polish over KDE 4. Sad that I’ll lose my current settings, but a chance to recreate with a new desktop.

Fedora 21 Beta KDE Spin Part 2

It’s a week and a half after the last time I looked at the Fedora 21 and about 2 weeks away from the final release if there aren’t any showstopping bugs. I just did an update and it appears that Fedora 21 will start out with KDE 4.x instead of KDE 5. I spoke to someone in IRC and it appears that KDE 5 is in no state to be included in Fedora. That’s fine with me. It appears we have learned from the KDE 4 fiasco. I’m OK getting KDE 5 later on in Fedora 21’s life or even Fedora 22. After all, if you really want it, there are ways to get it like COPR repositories or self-compilation. Fedora 22’s less than a year away, anyway.

I decided to take a look at the software included on the default ISO for the KDE Spin of Fedora 21. The games selection is pretty paltry. Then again, KDE has an astonishing number of games and I don’t think it’s necessarily important to include more than a few.

Fedora 21 KDE Beta - All the installed games Games
Fedora 21 KDE Beta – All the installed games

What I did think was odd was the non-inclusion of Digikam. With the knowledge of Fedora.next I went to the Fedora KDE spin page. This page doesn’t come right out and say that it’s for Developers. However, I’m going to chalk that up to a site that perhaps hasn’t been updated for Fedora.next. Clearly anyone savvy enough to a) use Fedora and b) know there’s more than one desktop is perfectly capable of installing the software he/she needs. I think what I would do if I were to install Fedora KDE for others or on multiple computers would be to make a custom Fedora KDE spin with all the software I typically use and use that to do installs. Or, perhaps more simply (and certainly smaller MB-wise) just have a yum or dnf command to install the stuff I usually use.

Perhaps more interesting to me than what wasn’t installed is some of what WAS installed. I didn’t know there was an AMZ Downloader. I had assumed I needed Windows if I was to buy music on Amazon. I’m going to have to install this on SuperMario and see how well it works. I also think it’s interesting that KsCD (a CD player) is installed. I am nearly 100% positive it’s been 10 years or more since I used a computer to play CDs.

Perhaps when I’m done with next semester’s class I’ll join the KDE SIG to help guide the direction of the KDE spin. I think it’s a good spin, but I think it could be a great spin with a bit more focus.