Back to Xfce

So, I’m back to Xfce on Fedora 20 and I’m staying put for now. Gnome has its advantages, and I could probably make it work, but I simply don’t have time to figure out all of its quirks right now. It hit me the other day that I really just need to settle on a desktop environment for a while until I have time to fritter away. Life’s busy right now (calculus 2, baby coming, big projects at work, etc). Xfce is easily the most usable without massive changes being required.

Things I like about Xfce:

  • Speed. It’s fast on my semi-old computer (Thinkpad T60). Even things like hibernating or starting up are just so much faster than Gnome or (especially) Windows 7. It’s easily the biggest boon for me and a strong reason to use Linux at all, in my opinion.
  • Ease of use. It’s not hard to find things, everything seems to work reasonably well, etc.

Things I don’t like:

  • I wish I could just click the start bar and type like I can in Windows, Gnome, or even Unity. Sometimes that’s just the fastest way to find something you don’t use much.
  • It’s missing some default programs that Mint had that I like (USB writer, LibreOffice, Firefox), but those can be added back.
  • It’s functional, but could look better. I.e., it ain’t purty.

When I have more time, or if I get a faster computer, I intend to give Gnome a more full go. I think its paradigm will work better, ultimately. I just don’t have time to figure it out and make it work sufficiently on this older laptop.

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White Text on Black Background == ACK!

This should be illegal. That is all.

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Gnome 3

So, I’m trying to really try Gnome 3. There are a few problems:
1. Heat. It’s definitely hotter than Xfce.
2. Fonts. Some fonts, like on my blog, for instance, are fuzzy. I got most of them fixed, but some remain fuzzy. I don’t like that.
3. I really don’t like the main bar being at the top. I know that’s because I’ve been using Windows for 20 years or so, but I’ve been using Windows for 20 years or so. It’s not easy to change, especially when my work computer still is the other way.

But, otherwise, I think it’s going well. It’s nice to be on the “main” desktop supported by Fedora, since I’m going with Fedora. Most questions online seem to assume it, so it’s nice to be on the main. I’m not sure if I’ll stick it out, but it’s good to give it a go.

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Printing on Linux — Wow.

That’s a good “wow,” by the way. My wife’s computer has kicked the bucket, apparently, so when she needed to print something this morning I inwardly groaned. I figured it’d be an arduous task to set up printing on Linux (since many things still are a pain). But it wasn’t! I was honestly surprised how easy it actually was.

I’m still primarily using Fedora 20 Xfce edition, so I went to the menu and printing, searched for my wireless network printer which was found right away, accepted the defaults, and printed the test page moments later. Then, since I’m a skeptic, I verified that the print-job she actually needed worked, too. It really couldn’t have been much easier. I didn’t verify that duplex printing works, but it did give me that option, so hopefully it does.

Anyway, I’m pleased.

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Installing LibreOffice

So, um, I googled this and found no easy instructions for installing LibreOffice. The only instructions I found looked arduous. I don’t like 37-command-line-commands to get a popular program installed. So, I took a guess and it worked:

sudo yum install libreoffice

Say yes, wait a few minutes, then bam, it’s installed and I’m using it. Works in Fedora 20 Xfce at least, and almost certainly the other spins as well.

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Nuclear Option

So, the nuclear option “fixed” the problem I was having. I mean, it was so bad that I couldn’t use the danged OS. It was horrible. But reinstalling everything from scratch worked wonders. I can SEE again.

I think I’ll install parts of EasyLife right away and see if hte problem recurs. If it does, I’ll probably nuclear option again and never use it again.

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I installed that program EasyLife, and I think it screwed with my system font settings. All the text is now kind of fuzzy. I can’t figure out how to easily uninstall the danged thing, either. Bah. I want to basically just rollback before it was installed. I think there’s probably a way to do that, but I don’t know how. It installed a boatload of packages, so I really don’t want to remove them individually. I might just, again, format and start over. That will get old soon, though. Oh well.

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So, this post goes under a new category, creatively named the same as this post: Security.

Security has been on my mind a lot recently. I’m not for sure entirely certain why. Snowden has certainly been a part of it. There’s something remarkably unsettling about the thought of people, even the “good” people at the NSA, reading private correspondence, having access to any account you own, etc. The idea that privacy is a fiction somehow strikes me at my core. As such, following Snowden has become, kind of unintentionally, a pet hobby of mine. And as a result, I’m finding myself more interested in cryptography and security.

None of this is to say that I have any actual expertise in the field. Straight up: I don’t. I know more than your average Windows user, perhaps, but that only comes from reading articles on security. I really don’t know the technical stuff yet. I find myself repeatedly feeling like knowing more about this stuff is damaging to my health since it makes me nervous. Rather than feeling more secure, the more I read the less secure I feel. But that’s OK. I think I’m actually learning and/or will learn such that it won’t make me less worried. Time will tell, I suppose.

Anyway, today’s learning told me that feeling secretive about my methods of choosing passwords or how I store passwords is foolish. It essentially constitutes security through obscurity, which every security expert I’ve read says is stupid. So today, despite my misgivings, I installed a password manager and had it create a “secure” password for me, which was certainly more nonsensical than any I’ve had before. Of course, for that, I still have to have an actual password to unlock it. For that, I continue to use a method that I’ve since seen recommended by security experts repeatedly (mainly because it makes sense). Take a phrase that means something to you but is largely unknown (i.e., not Psalm 23), and take some letters from the words in a meaningful way to you, such as the first letters. Then add randomness in it. So, if the 23rd Psalm, it might be “tlims$isnwHmmtldigp”. Which, if you aren’t familiar with the Bible (and you should be), is, “The Lord is my shepherd (random bit), I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” Obviously, if you choose an obviously famous quotation (like the 23rd Psalm), and if this method becomes popular, you’re potentially screwed. It’s still better than 12345, of course. But if you were to take another random sentence, such as “I like to drive to Montana Tech College, and eat dried prunes,” assuming that means anything to you, you could convert that to iltdtMTCaedp, and add some randomness in it, and it’d be fairly easy to recall, but difficult to crack.

Anyway, I want to become more knowledgeable about this subject and will likely post more here as I go along.

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Update: still on Fedora

So, after nuking everything except Mint, I installed Fedora 20 Xfce spin and set it up to my liking again. It’s been my daily OS since then. Yesterday, I found a pretty cool script for adding a few things that I’m going to want every time I have to reinstall (not that I hope that’s a constant chore). EasyLife. Made it simple to add codecs, fonts, and Nvidia support (had I needed it on this computer).

Anyway, it’s becoming less and less of a hassle to just fire up my computer and use it. My wife has even used it some. I won’t “make” her switch over, but I’m very confident that she could if we needed her to.

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Btw, regarding time here…

I have no idea where this setting originated, but WordPress was apparently just assuming that I was UTC-6. I changed the setting in Settings to Los Angeles, and the time is now correct. Kind of weird.

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