Linux Journal Insider - February 2011

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

This month we focus on the desktop. No, not the one cluttered with dirty coffee cups and dried up pizza crusts (ie, Shawn's desktop), but rather the Linux desktop. Whether you're a die hard Gnome fan, or you think Gnomes should stick to protecting gardens -- we have you covered. Shawn and Kyle talk about KDE, Gnome, and a bunch of other desktop goodies you might not be so familiar with. So grab some holiday leftovers, and listen to this month's Linux Journal Insider.



Anonymous's picture

Where are the results of the "send us a screenshot of your desktop" competition?

but rather the Linux desktop

mpegteknesi's picture

Florida heat screwed up the touch but rather the Linux desktops.

Desktop & USB sticks

bpalone's picture

Most of us came to Linux for two reasons: 1) A more stable operating system. 2) Get away from all the BLOAT and regain control over our systems. So, a vast majority of us aren't really interested in eye candy, we just want a "Get'er Done" system.

As for USB sticks. Some time back, it was big news about a tool used from within Windows to create a Fedora USB system. Now, let's be real and honest here, most of the world uses Windows. So, I installed VirtualBox on that USB stick along with an installation of Windows and the must have applications installed. I then threw it into the laptop bag for an emergency rescue in the event of a hard drive failure while on the road. Provided it is only a hard drive failure, it could save the day.

BTW, I wasn't aware that VWs were part of the Geek Genome.

Live USB Systems

metalx2000's picture

Funny, I have always found that running a Live System off a USB Drive to run faster then off the hard drive on most machines.

I also have used the DSL QEMU before, and you can do it with any LiveCD ISO. Works pretty good on all Windows Systems I've tried it on.

I use My live USB Sticks all the time. I have a 1GB I made with 2 versions of Slitaz, a copy of Mint, and a copy of TinyCore.
I use them to
1)recover systems,
2)show people quickly that there Windows Computer can run faster if they use Linux
3)I tested hardware compatibly with systems at the store while picking a new computer out for my wife.
4)remove Windows Password on systems that I was locked out on
5)Anytime I have to use a computer that I will enter private information that runs Windows (sure it's got a web browser, but I'm not typing my gmail name and password into a Windows Machine).
6)It's a lot faster to install from a USB Drive then a CD (I do a lot of installs)

Great Podcast guys, Can't wait for my issue to show up (Although I have been so busy I haven't finished last months)
Everything you ever need to know about Free Software.

running from usb stick

nawglan's picture

For faster speeds, be sure to turn off access time updates for files. (add noatime to fstab file for the usb filesystem).

Every time the file is accessed the system likes to update that timestamp on the file. If you turn it off, it doesn't do this. This does have issues if your backup software uses access time to see when to make backups. However, turning it off causes the boot up time on my USB stick OS to shrink noticeably.

My current setup at home is the OS on the USB stick, spinning disk for /home and other user data.

Dychotomy of the Linux user

jza's picture

I wonder if there is an issue with the gurus and the regular users. This happened with SuSE developers. Most of them are either on an OSX or are on a minimal desktop. Yet developing this big desktop apps like applets or plasma.

The problem of 'power users' in Linux is that they are very 'unpowered' desktop users. They see the command line as hardcore and whatever gui or configuration of gui apps as something that is 'unnecessary' or something for 'end users'.

This is what really makes the thought of the Linux Desktop as a fantasy and fallacy as many want to improve it and customize it for a user that really doesn't exist. A power Mac/Windows user usually know what to download and do to make his desktop as customized as possible. Sure Linux u can do that also, but the goal is really not to have many eyecandy stuff, but the complete opposite.

Linuxer, Rapper, and part time lunatic
Living in the sandy beaches of Cancun


Anonymous's picture


I hear people say this sort

metalx2000's picture

I hear people say this sort of thing often. My Question is, "What is it you are trying to do that you can only do from the command line?"

I am a heavy Commandline user, but Linux today has GUI front ends for everything. I think the problem arises when some one asks how to do something and they are told to do it from the commandline even if there is a GUI front end for it. The reason for this is because it's easier to say, "copy and paste this in the terminal 'aptitude install GIMP'" then it is to say, "Click on you application menu (which may be at the top or at the bottom), then go to system, find 'synaptic', click on it, type in your password, find the search bar, type 'GIMP', look for GIMP in the list below, mark it for installation, then click 'Apply'"

If some one asks you for help, you are going to give them the simplest way to do it. The command line scares people, but really it's easier in most cases.

As far as eyecandy, I think Compiz has more eyecandy then OSX. It has every feature of OSX I've seen, and more (Cube, Wobbly Windows, etc)

P.S. I like your signature, do you use Linux for your Rap Music recording/mixing?
Everything you ever need to know about Free Software.

No power desktop user :(

jza's picture

Yes I agree with you, for support, but this podcast tries to review the desktop and how has it grow. But instead they discover they don't really use the desktop or any of the new features. So I wonder if this is what we should consider a "power user".

I guess is up for interpretation, we are used to latest and greatest in most stuff in technology. But FLOSS is so disruptive, using man to find help or cat or grep isn't necesarily cutting edge but works.

So I guess we will never get an indepth review of gnome-do, unity, nepomuk or the 'social desktop' from kde. To be fair, I guess I am overdramaticing this, and I guess I should judge the articles on the magazine. But I wanted to bring attention.

P.S.: yeah mostly audacity, and mixxx, have tried lmms but still nothing to help me with slice the samples to make beats. Still FL and Reason are betters for that.

Linuxer, Rapper, and part time lunatic
Living in the sandy beaches of Cancun

ReZound is a nice little

Anonymous's picture

ReZound is a nice little program for slicing audio files up. Not sure if that is the type of thing you are looking for, but give it a try if you haven't.


Shawn Powers's picture


In all fairness to the podcast, it's really intended to introduce the topics, showcase what is in the new issue, and possibly spark interest in learning more. Granted we do that from the particular slant and angle of two rather geeky Linux users.

In fact, inspiring objections to our coverage might be a good thing. Because like you mentioned, it will hopefully draw people to the full article. If we tried to cover the topics in depth, the podcast would be MUCH longer, and MUCH more boring. Especially the latter, considering most articles are not in our specific field of expertise.

but this podcast tries to review the desktop and how has it grow

No, really in this podcast we just review the Desktop issue. Desktop is the theme of the February issue, so that's what we concentrated on. The podcast is seriously just a review (preview?) of the upcoming issue. My apologies if that wasn't clear.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


metalx2000's picture

maximus is the program that maximizes all windows by default. You can uninstall or turn it off on the Netbook Remix. It's not built into the Window manager.

On the other hand, you can install it on your regular distro if you want to make everything Maximized. I have an EEEPC hooked to my TV now and I have maximus running because it makes sense in the setup.

maximus is in the repose for most distros.
Everything you ever need to know about Free Software.

Good to know

Shawn Powers's picture

Thanks Kris!

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

No Problem, it's a handy

metalx2000's picture

No Problem, it's a handy little program for certain projects. Wish I know about it when I have my Linux setup on a 7" screen in my car. Unfortunately the Florida heat screwed up the touch screen last summer :(
Everything you ever need to know about Free Software.