Archive for October, 2014

detect easily if your machine is frozen

October 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Very rarely my system gets frozen. But is it just my keyboard and mouse that have problems? Or is my whole machine frozen? Or is it just temporary and everything will be normal in a few seconds?

I have an easy solution to detect if the whole system is frozen. In the top right corner you have a clock, right? Well, add seconds too :) If the seconds are stuck, there is a problem. If they are moving, there is still hope.


Update (20141014)
Yesterday my machine got frozen quite interestingly. I got an email with a youtube link that I wanted to play in Gmail. The machine got frozen, i.e. the mouse/keyboard had no effect and the clock didn’t move BUT the audio of the video was rolling :) I could do nothing but listen to it. At the end I had to restart the machine manually. Lesson learned: even if the clock is stuck, it doesn’t mean that your machine is completely frozen. (I guess this all happened because of Flash).

Categories: ubuntu Tags: ,

[manjaro] Manjaro: a fast, user-friendly, desktop-oriented operating system based on Arch Linux

October 4, 2014 5 comments

Ubuntu has been my primary operating system in the past 7 years. I got to know it quite well. New versions don’t bring too many exciting things, so I was looking for some “adventure” :)

One of my students, DMZ, talked to me about a cool Linux distribution called Manjaro. I’ve never heard about it before but what he said about it made me curious. It’s based on Arch Linux but much easier to set up; it has lots of packages; and it’s very fast. I saw it on his laptop and although it had Xfce graphical environment, it looked quite nice.

I won’t replace Ubuntu with Manjaro on my workstation (not yet, but who knows :)), but Manjaro is a good choice for an older laptop where Ubuntu would be slow. Also, if you need a virtualboxed Linux (for trying out something in a sandbox for instance), Manjaro is an excellent choice: it can be installed quickly, and it boots up very fast.

Well, let’s try it! I put it in Virtualbox and my first impressions are really positive. Here I collect some notes.

Install Nvidia proprietary driver
When I tried to install Manjaro first, I chose the installation with non-free drivers. Maybe it was a bug in the system, but I had problems with the video card. I think the proprietary driver was not installed correctly. So I installed the system with free drivers only, and the installation was a great success. Then I tried to install the video driver through the Manjaro Settings Manager -> Hardware Detection tool, and it screwed up my system again :( OK, one more try. I installed the system again with free drivers, then added the proprietry video drivers manually, from the command line:

sudo mhwd -a pci nonfree 0300

See this wiki post for more info. I had no problems this time, so I think this is the preferred way to install your video card drivers.

To make nvidia the default:

sudo mhwd-gpu --setgl nvidia

pacman: transaction not initialized
I think it’s a bug in Manjaro 0.8.10. The Update Manager cannot run correctly right after the installation. Here is the fix:

sudo pacman-mirrors -g
sudo pacman -Syy
sudo pacman -Syu

After this you can do a package update with the Update Manager. This tip is from here.

Increase icon size
If you find the desktop icons small, then right click on the desktop and discover the Desktop Settings. You can also set that you need to click on an icon just once to open it.

Right click on the desktop and add some launcher icons to the desktop (e.g. Firefox, Terminal, etc.). From the desktop you can also drag and drop icons to the bottom panel.

Install a newer kernel
In the bottom left corner click on the “Start” button. Then Settings -> Manjaro Settings Manager -> Kernel. You can select an LTS kernel, or you can select the newest one.

Install a new package
The package manager of Manjaro (and Arch) is called pacman. You can install a new package with it like this (example):

sudo pacman -S vim mc

Show running apps on the bottom panel
The bottom panel showed the running apps but somehow I managed to make it disappear :( Here is how to get it back: right click on the bottom panel, Panel -> Add New Items…, and add the “Window Buttons” plugin.

If you want to change the order of plugins on the bottom panel: right click on the panel, Panel -> Panel Preferences…

Create a shared folder between the Virtualbox host and guest
Follow the instructions here.

White cursor
I don’t like the black default cursor. Under Ubuntu and Windows I got used to the white cursor :) In the package manager check out the “xcursor” packages. The package xcursor-vanilla-dmz provides a basic cursor, while xcursor-aero also has shadow. Install them, then launch the “Mouse and Touchpad” application and visit the Theme tab. Here select the cursor that you prefer. My current favourite is the aero-drop cursor. (Thanks to DMZ for the tip how to use white cursors.)

Increase the size of the bottom panel
If the bottom panel is too small: right click on it, Panel -> Panel Preferences…, and change the row size.

Fonts for coding
Install the “ttf-vista-fonts” package that has the Consolas font, which is really nice. Check out these links for more info: link1, link2, link3.

Adding a secondary keyboard layout
Launch “xfce4-keyboard-settings” (or simply use the term “keyboard” in the search field) and add a new layout. I selected “Right Ctrl + Right Shift” for changing the layout.

Install new icon set
I had a Manjaro 0.8.10 that I upgraded to 0.8.11. It looked the same. Then I installed 0.8.11 from scratch on another machine and it looked so much better. It had a much sexier default icon set. Here is how to replace the old icons of 0.8.10: install the packages “menda-circle-icon-theme” and “xfce-theme-manager“. Start Xfce Theme Manager, go to the Icons tab and select Menda-Circle. Done.

Move window buttons to left
Under Ubuntu I got to like that window buttons are on the left. Start Window Manager, and under the Style tab you can reorder the button layout: close, minimize, maximize, title, etc.

Windows 8-like window theme
If you want Windows 8-like windows, install the package “xfwm4-theme-w8-mono“, then open Xfce Theme Manager, go to the Window Borders tab and choose w8.

Automount inserted media
Ubuntu, by default, automounts inserted medias. Here is how to activate this behaviour in Xfce4: start the thunar file manager, Edit -> Preferences…, Advanced tab, click on the Configure link. On the Storage tab select the first two options (mount removable drives when hot-plugged, mount removable media when inserted).

Update from terminal
Once I had a problem with the GUI updater, so I upgraded my system from the terminal, which went flawlessly:

sudo pacman -Syyu

This comamnd simultaneously synchronises with the repositories and updates your system.

To update all your packages installed from AUR:

yaourt -Syua
Categories: manjaro Tags: