MSB and SBo common entries

I decided to make a quick check of the common entries between MATE SlackBuilds (MSB) and (SBo). The following packages provided by MSB 1.8 (as “base” and “extra”) for Slackware 14.1 are available at SBo 14.1 repo:

MSB (base)
gtk-engines | Theme engines for GTK+2
libunique | a library for writing single instance applications
murrine | Gtk2 Cairo Engine
pangox-compat | X font support for Pango
rarian | documentation metadata library
yelp-tools | documentation checker
yelp-xsl | stylesheet for Yelp

MSB (extra)
atkmm | C++ bindings for ATK
cairomm | C++ wrapper for the cairo graphics library
gksu | Gtk+ frontend to su and sudo
glibmm | C++ bindings for glib
gssdp | GObject-based API for handling resource of SSDP
gtkmm | C++ interface for GTK+
gtksourceview | a GTK+ framework for source code editing
libgksu | library for gksu
libgtop | a top-like library
libsigc++ | typesafe callback system for standard C++
mm-common | build infrastructure and utilities for GNOME C++ bindings
pangomm | C++ API for Pango
perl-net-dbus | Net::DBus perl module
perl-xml-twig | Perl XML transformation module
pygobject3 | GObject bindings for Python
pygtksourceview | Python bindings for gtksourceview

So, whenever I install something from SBo, I should keep in mind that these are already present.

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MATE SlackBuilds

I have been following the development of the MATE SlackBuilds (MSB) project for quite some time. Finally, I decided to give MATE a try. I wanted to have a relatively clean system before I install, since some of the packages provided by MSB are also available at I say “relatively”, because I wanted to keep the -multilib packages from AlienBob and sbopkg. So, I did

slackpkg clean-system

and removed anything that had the _SBo extension. Then, I run sbopkg and went to the Packages menu, just to make sure… I also removed the XFCE series, since I do not need two GTK based desktops:

slackpkg remove xfce

I am using the slackpkg+ extension, so I opened and modified /etc/slackpkg/slackpkgplus.conf, as suggested at the MSB howto:

# List repositories you want to use (defined below)
# remember to launch 'slackpkg update' if you modify that row.
REPOPLUS=( slackpkgplus restricted alienbob multilib msb )

Add this, too:

# MATE SlackBuilds

Then just run:

slackpkg update gpg
slackpkg update
slackpkg install msb

It installed like a breeze! I then selected it as the default desktop for my user from xwmconfig:

There are many reasons to like MATE. It is visually appealing, uncluttered and overall feels complete out-of-the-box. Here is an excerpt from the ChangeLog (Sun May 4 07:32:09 CEST 2014) of Microlinux:

The MATE desktop environment has proven to be as rock-solid as Xfce. The Caja file manager offers more functionality than Thunar while being visually more appealing. Basic desktop applications like a simple text editor, a document viewer or an archive manager are already shipping with the base desktop. Multimedia hotkey support is perfect, as well as a number of tiny details. With all this, MATE stays light on system resources and runs perfectly even on very old hardware.

One problem that I encountered was that playing with the icon sizes of the file manager is a bit buggy. I had to log off and back in for the changes to take effect. Otherwise, the desktop is very responsive. Many thanks to Willy Sudiarto Raharjo and Chess Griffin for their work!

There are many already enough screenshots at the MATE and MSB web-pages, but here we go:

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Reboot instead of shut down

I have a Lenovo ThinkPad S430 laptop. Occasionally, when I want to shut down the machine, it would power off and a second later turn on again. Seems to happen more often when using the battery, but I am not sure. I am using XFCE and this happens when I select shut down from the Log out menu. This behaviour can be really annoying if you are on a hurry…

I did some searching and in the end, the solution found here seemed to work. I created this file /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown and pasted the following in it:

for i in /sys/bus/usb/devices/*/power/control;
do echo on > $i

Then, I made the file executable:

chmod +x /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown

I tested the shutdown process 10 times on battery and 10 times on power. There were no reboots and I hope this really fixed the problem. If this was the problem, here’s an excerpt from this post:

The problem seems to arise from incorrect work of pm-utils. But if you write on into /sys/bus/*/devices/*/power/control, the kernel takes control over power management at the specified devices – and somehow this makes the hardware to shut down correctly.

Here are some additional discussions of the same problem:
A thread on LQ, also a talk on the Ubuntu forums and some more on Ubuntu forums; there is thisĀ  discussion on the Arch Linux forum.

Seems people started having trouble using the above solution after their distro switched to systemd, but we don’t have this problem, do we?

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Two years for slackalaxy…

It has been two years. :)

This makes total of 71 posts, over 11,000 views and 30 comments, including my own replies.

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Filed under misc

Zotero bibliography manager

I have been looking for a good bibliography manager for Linux. I have used Bibus in the past, it it does not seem to work with the new versions of or LibreOffice. Luckily, I got a great tip from Ryan P.C. McQuen — Zotero. As their website states:

Zotero is a [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.

Now it is available from SBo — the script just repackages the binaries provided from upstream. When you start the application, it will automatically search for an installation of / LibreOffice and install the appropriate office plugin. The plugin adds the following toolbar, which is very easy to use:


Zotero supports a variety of References styles, and in case you need something more — new styles can be easily downloaded.Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Cite > Styles and click on the Get additional styles... link. This will bring you to the Zotero Style Repository. Search the journal you want and download the cls file.

To import it, use the plus button:


The only disappointing thing was that inserting in-text references would reset the double-spacing of the text.

Apart from that the program seems very nice.

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Filed under Academic, office, SlackBuilds

gdm Init

I am using XFCE and decided to make my laptop boot directly to X. So, I installed gdm from SBo and changed the runlevel in /etc/inittab:

# Default runlevel. (Do not set to 0 or 6)

After a restart, the machine boots up directly to a graphic log in screen.

I like setting the brightness of my screen to a lower value, which I usually do by adding these two lines to ~/.xinitrc:

xgamma -gamma 0.4
xbacklight -set 70

Similarly to the case of KDM, this approach does not work when using GDM either. So, after some searching, the solution I found is adding the above lines to /etc/gdm/Init/Default. I place them below the first two lines of the file, like this:


xgamma -gamma 0.4
xbacklight -set 70

Log off and the new brightness values are already set at the log in.


Filed under desktop, system

Faster boot

I usually do not care too much about my system boot time. Slackware running on modern hardware, especially with a SSD for / (root file system) will boot very fast without any additional tweaking. My laptop, however, does not have a SSD and although the machine is relatively new, I find it convenient to speed up the booting a little more.

important I just want to state clearly that messing with the boot process is not recommended! Improper editing of rc.M can and will cause problems!

That being said, here’s what I do:

First, I open /etc/lilo.conf and uncomment the following line in the beginning:

compact # faster, but won't work on all systems.

The warning speaks for itself, if you uncomment the line make sure to run lilo for the settings to take effect:

lilo -v

Then, I open /etc/rc.d/rc.M and comment out all steps from the boot process, which I think I do not need. In my case, these are the following sections:

  • Update the X font indexes
  • Update any existing icon cache files
  • Update mime database

I copy these sections (uncommented, as they were originally in rc.M) to a new bash script file and save it as a cron job. Let’s name it and make it executable:

chmod +x

Now, save it as /etc/cron.daily/ — if you decide to execute it yourself, just run it from the terminal.

I make these tweaks only after I have set up my new system, installed additional fonts, etc. The laptop boots faster, which sometimes can be important.

Here is a LQ discussion concerning this and a post from another blog.

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Local .desktop files

In XFCE, whenever I needed to customize some menu entry, I would just go to /usr/share/applications/ and edit the corresponding .desktop file. This applies the changes globally and whenever the program is updated the modified .desktop file will be overwritten.

However, there is a “local” approach for this, which will affect only the current user. Copy the .desktop file you want to edit to:


Open it in a text editor, edit and save the changes. Now, the menu will display this local copy.

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Mounting an ISO image

Now, that’s a piece of trivia!

Sometimes I want to see what’s on an ISO image, so easiest will be to just mount it to a folder. I have been doing this occasionally since I started using Linux and I still do not remember the exact options. For example, to mount the ISO of SalixOS:

# mount -o loop salix-xfce-14.1.iso /media/cdrom

There it is.

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Filed under misc, system, virtualisation

Installing from a USB

I had never installed an operating system from a USB stick. However, I had to deal with a netbook (dual core Atom CPU and 1 GB of RAM) that had no CD-ROM. It was not for my own use, so I ended up installing Lubuntu, but I tried Slackware first just to see how it runs.

I downloaded the Slackware 14.1 usbboot.img from here, got an empty flash drive, plugged it in and made sure it was not mounted. Then I run:

# fdisk -l

to see what device name (red X below) it was assigned. Then, following the instructions nicely provided, I did:

dd if=usbboot.img of=/dev/sdx bs=1M

The dd command expects the name of a device, not a partition, so you should use /dev/sdx instead of /dev/sdx1. There is a warning in the instructions that I have to quote:

importantBe careful about the device name for your USB stick! The above ‘dd’ command will wipe out any existing data on the device, so you had better be sure that it is not the SATA hard disk you’re targeting!

The USB image is small, so it took very little time for it to be copied to the stick.

For boot options, apparently I had to be pressing ESC upon netbook startup. However I did not know that at the time, so in stead I went to BIOS to check the boot order, saw that the USB stick is listed first and was even recognized, exited BIOS and the computer just booted from the stick! I later tried several other distros, but Slackware was the only one that was able to boot like that. Unpacking the kernel took a while, but after that I did a regular netinstall. I selected XFCE as a desktop and it ran very well, consuming less than 150MB of RAM.

Now for copying a whole ISO image on a USB stick I checked the corresponding section of Slackware’s wiki and something from Ubuntu. In case the ISO is not hybrid it has to be converted with isohybrid before copying it to the USB stick:

isohybrid slackware-13.1-install-dvd.iso
dd if=slackware-13.1-install-dvd.iso of=/dev/sdx

Well, in the end I just got a Lubuntu 14.04 alternative installer and following the above instructions (it is already a hybrid ISO) copied it to the USB stick. Plugged it in the netbook, pressed ESC several times and was presented with a boot options menu. After that the installation was quite straightforward, I even managed to do the netinstall through my wireless network. The system boots fine, only the screen stays black during the boot process and I don’t like not knowing what’s going on. Althought advertised as a very “lightweight” system, Lubuntu did not run noticeably faster than Slackware with XFCE, but whatever…

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Filed under desktop, system