Conky & Xfce

To get transparency with conky in xfce, I had to go to Menu>Settings>Window Manager Tweeks>Compositor, then put a tick next to Enable Display Composting.

I then altered the .conkyrc file. Commenting out the Create own window section & it works.

# Create own window instead of using desktop (required in nautilus)
# own_window yes
# own_window_transparent yes
# own_window_type desktop
# own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager

This is more of a note to self.

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And the winner is Arch LXDE (for the moment!)

After a long time I have decided to swap my main distro to Arch Linux LXDE. I did have Debian Wheezy as my fall-back, running an openbox-session with tint2. I fell for Arch due to its heavily optimised set of binary’s, installing stuff is crazy fast. Pacman, the default package manager will pull in any dependency’s automatically. There are also quite a few extra packages in the Arch User Repository or AUR for short. As with my recent slackware experience, I first learned to install these by hand (really easy in comparison!) Then installed and now use Yaourt, it is community-contributed package forked from official Pacman which adds access to the AUR packages and able to install them automatically.

Hats off to Debian, I have been using it (or derivatives of it) for about 12 years or so. The main edition is rock solid & smooth, but, a little outdated package wise. If you move from stable to testing, things start to get a bit buggy. So I needed to find a balance.

In comes Arch. I’m using the LTS kernel. But everything is up to date, bleeding edge! Stable! Fast!  Woohoo. There is also a very detailed wiki, just fantastic documentation. So I now have two spare partitions to mess around with. Gentoo or Crux (building your own kernel is not that painful? Who knows? It’s great to have so much choice!

So bye for now my friend Debian, thank you for my introduction into the Linux world 🙂

More Slackware …..

So, I have been using Slackware 14.1 for the past few days. I come from a Debian background, then Arch. So it was the next logical step I suppose.

There are a few binary’s around from various sites, this page of the Slackware docs is quite useful for a few pointers.

There are also a mass of source packages found at Slackbuilds, a collection of third-party SlackBuild scripts to build Slackware packages. Instructions on how to compile can be found there. It’s not as daunting as it first seams! It is probably a good idea to learn this way of doing this at first. Then after that grounding, there is Sbopkg. It is a very useful command-line and dialog-based tool to synchronize with the SlackBuilds.org (“SBo”) repository. With this you can search, compile & install a package. It can take a while to compile sometimes, dependant on the package. For example I wanted to install ‘Nitrogen‘ to handle the wallpaper in my openbox session (my preferred wm at the moment.) I had to download, compile and install the main package, dependency’s, the dependency’s-dependency’s, and the dependency’s-dependency’s-dependency’s (pheww…) All in all it took about 2 hours!! Ok, my desktop is an old tired Dell, I think it would be completely different on a faster processor, I may install a copy on my laptop later too, just to see. But, be mindful that the compiled package fits like a glove for the particular system. Smooth, stable, snappy as a result! The time thing shocked me though, on Arch the same thing took me approx. 9 seconds, on Debian 20 seconds. That time is for the download and install of there pre-compiled binary’s.

So, everything seams to be quite a bit of effort to install stuff. Not all the time. But, I find it quite fascinating getting things to work. The level of control is amazing, more in-depth insight into the workings of Linux. I will be using the copy I have installed to experiment with, may shift onto in eventually?!?!?!?

SpiderOak & Security.

Decided to drop Dropbox (pun intended 🙂 ) Insecure. Not that I have any secrets to store, but I am entitled to a little privacy. It’s not a privilege, it’s a basic human right. So Spideroak is a step in the right direction. It allows secure backup and syncing between all my devices.

Another useful addition to my browser is HTTPS Everywhere. It’s a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. Visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get the plug-in and for further information.

The next step up would be using the Tor browser/network, witch works by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. it prevents snooping on your internet activity’s, what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location. Tracking.

The a further step would be using something like Tails, a live USB based system. It allows you to use the Internet with even greater anonymity and to circumvent censorship. All connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network. It leaves no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly and uses the latest cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.

Its a shame we have to do any of this, but privacy cannot be taken for granted any more. (If it ever could!)