Uncategorized, Linux, KDE, OpenSuse

Compiz works great with KDE 5

Screenshot_20170530_193645.png
Compiz was pretty much “the thing” that got me started with Linux. Whenever it comes up on online forums, there are usually a few people who say the same thing. When KDE 5 and Gnome 3 made their own compositors and window managers a lot the Compiz functionality was replaced. Most people seem to be content with this and Compiz was regarded as a thing of the past. When KDE 5 and Gnome 3 first came out Compiz was completely incompatible. Now it is possible to get Compiz running on both.

I’ve always felt that Compiz offered a lot more and was generally more useful than the KDE effects. Today I found out, it really isn’t that hard to get Compiz working in KDE 5 with Plasma.

I’m using Open SUSE but you should be able to find these packages in whatever distribution you are using.
compiz
compiz-emerald
compiz-emerald-themes
compiz-plugins
compizconfig-settings-manager
fusion-icon

Compiz is the window manager, Emerald is the window decorator, Compizconfig Settings Manager is the configuration tool, and Fusion Icon sets everything up.

You’ll want to disable KDE’s desktop effects. Search “Compositor” in your application menu and disable “Enable compositor on startup”.

Search “Autostart” in your application menu. Add fusion-icon to run on startup. Run fusion-icon from a terminal or the applications menu, and you should be able to change your window manager to Compiz. Right click the Fusion icon and choose “Select Window Manager”. Once that is set, it will replace your window manager on startup. From the Fusion Icon, you can set your Emerald Theme and Compiz settings.

If you log back in and you don’t have a desktop, or your desktop is blank, this is easy to fix. The blank desktop issue seems to happen if Compiz loads too fast. Replacing the autostart fusion-icon command with a script with the contents sleep 5; fusion-icon seems to give KDE enough time to load the desktop before Compiz loads. Compiz still starts while KDE is loading, so you don’t see a hacky switch in window managers 5 seconds into your desktop session.

If you want to use the “Windows Previews” plugin in Compiz, you may see two window previews when you hover over your task manager if KDE’s window previews are turned on. To disable this, right click your task manager, click “Task Manager Settings” and uncheck “Show Previews”.

So why even use Compiz? One of the main features for me is, just by holding down shift while switching desktops, I can bring the window with me while moving to different sides of the cube. I’ve never been able to find a way to do this in KDE. There are also a lot more features, plugins, and themes.

A lot of it seems frozen in time. A lot of the Emerald themes I remember from 10 years ago. But they still work fine

I think Compiz was good for the Linux community. It got a lot of people talking about Linux and a lot of people using Linux. It is kind of unfortunate that it was shut out by the big two desktop environments. When Compiz was popular, I remember seeing new plugins in the Compiz settings manager every few weeks. It has been years since KDE 5 was released and there are hardly any plugins for it’s “Desktop Effects”.

I know a lot of Linux users dismiss Compiz as pointless “bling”. Even if this was true, people were sharing Compiz videos and people were trying Linux just for Compiz. I think it would of been better if Gnome and KDE didn’t shut Compiz out.

Whatever the issue was with KDE 5, it seems to be fixed. With Gnome, even though most online posts say it is impossible to run Compiz, it has been reported to work if you start Gnome in “fallback mode”.

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KDE, Linux, OpenSuse

Installing KDE5 on OpenSUSE 13.2 as the only desktop enviorment

If you’re looking for a way to install KDE5 during the OpenSUSE OS installation there is a way. It takes a few steps but it works. I’ll explain how to do it below. As of this writing it will install KDE 5.1 on OpenSUSE 13.2.

Make sure you have a network connection during the install because the options you need don’t appear unless you add repos before installation. Fortunately the OpenSUSE installer now has you set up a network connection before you do anything else.

On this screen make sure you have “Add Online Repositories” checked off.
step1

The default repos are all you need.
defaultrepos

On this screen do not select any of the default desktop environments. Select “Minimal X Window”.
desktop

On this screen click software.
software

Check off Plasma 5 base on the left. Here you should also search for NetworkManager and install it as well. You might also want to check off some other packages such as image viewers and PDF readers. Everything you need to have a working OpenSUSE system with KDE 5.1 is selected already though.
plasma5base

Once you boot up you’ll have you’ll have a very minimal graphical interface. Log in as Root. You will need to go into Yast and then click the /etc/sysconfig editor.

Go to Desktop > Display Manager > DISPLAY_MANAGER and set it to kdm.
Then go to Desktop > Window Manager > DEFAULT_WM and set it to plasma5.

That’s it. Restart your system and you’ll have OpenSUSE KDE5 without the bulk of two full featured desktop environments.

You can try setting sddm as the display manager but as of now there is no easy way to get it running. Here is just one of several people I’ve heard feedback from:

From personal experience, sddm in openSUSE is very buggy. It does not allow a proper logout yet (display manager hangs during logout/restart/shutdown).

eeickmeyer (reddit.com)

KDE, Linux, OpenSuse

BIR – Linux GUI Batch Image Resizer

Images from your digital camera tend to be big. Really big. Even with our broadband connections having a slideshow of 5mb images does not make a lot of sense. If you want to email images you probably want to resize them all before you send them. There are also situations where you have images of many different sizes and you want to resize them uniformly. With a quick Google search I couldn’t find any way to do this that didn’t involve a command line. I set out to create a batch image resizer with a GUI similar to the ones I’ve used on Windows.

Its called BIR for Batch Image Resizer. It came out looking like this:

Linux batch image resizer
BIR – The Linux batch image resizer

Along with resizing it will also rotate your images and crop them. It has plenty of options for fine tuning. It can resize a directory recursively and preserve your directory structure in the destination folder. I coded this so it looks at all the images and finds the first parent folder that all of the files share. Alternatively, you can also set it so all of the resized files end up on the same folder with no subdirectories. I’ve tested it with hundreds of files and it seems to work fine no matter how much you throw at it.

It can resize almost any type of file you would need to resize. The list of formates are:

  • BMP Windows Bitmap
  • JPG Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • PNG Portable Network Graphics
  • PPM Portable Pixmap
  • TIFF Tagged Image File Format
  • XBM X11 Bitmap
  • XPM X11 Pixmap

Thanks to some helpful people on Reddit people have tested it and helped me iron out any issues they discovered

The source code is available here:
https://github.com/agronick/BIR

Here you can find packages for OpenSuse, Fedora, RedHat, and CentOS.

Here you can find the package on the OpenSuse Build Service.

Version 2.0 fixes some issues with Ubuntu and all the code is updated for Qt5. If you need to compile it you use the same exact steps you used for qt4 except the qmake command might be qmake-qt5.

Compiling the Batch Image Resizer
If you rather not deal with resolving dependencies yourself you can download Qt from the Qt website. You can also download Qt-Creator which is the IDE I used to create this program.

If there are no precompiled release for your distro you can compile a release very easy. You just need the dependencies for Qt5. The development package will probably have a suffix like -dev. With a command like this you can search for packages with the letters “qt5” in them that also has the string “-dev”. This works for Ubuntu.

sudo apt-cache search qt5 | grep "dev"

So anyways, once you get the sources and dependencies compiling and installing is very easy.

$ mkdir build
$ cd BIR/build
$ qmake-qt5 ../  
$ make
$ sudo make install

Thats all there is to it. The program should appear in whatever launcher you use.

KDE, Linux

I’m working on a batch image resizer for Linux

If you’ve ever built websites at some point you’re going to get a bunch of images that you need to resize. This happens whenever you’re adding a slide show or an image gallery. Anything that comes out of a digital camera is several megapixels big and just to email them you probably want to shrink them down. I’m working on a batch image resizer for Linux. Its focused on KDE but since its written with Qt it should run on anything, even Windows! I’m working on adding the last few features and Dolphin integration. Afterward I’ll package it up for different distros and see if I can find any repos that want to host it. Its on github right now: https://github.com/agronick/KDRe

To compile it you will need the qt5 development libraries. Compiling is just a matter of running qmake and make. It makes an executable called KDRe which is the working title right now. (Let me know if you can think of a better one)

KDRe Linux batch image resizer
New Linux batch image resizer
KDE

Plasmoid to Display BCache Statistics in a GUI

A screenshot of the BCache GUI
The Plasmoid in it’s current release

BCache has a wealth of information tucked away deep inside your file system. I decided to create a GUI to display this information. It seemed like a pretty simple task and I had been planning on learning how to create Plasmoids for a while.

I also created a data engine so other people can get this data easily as well. The code is all non-compiled. The install.sh script should install the data engine and the Plasmoid in one click. If you want to make any changes to the data engine or the Plasmoid itself all you need to do is run install.sh and the changes will be installed.

This is a beta release and there is still more to do in the way of error handling and configuration. If you use it, let me know your thoughts on it. It is the first Plasmoid I have ever created. Now BCache users will have a simple GUI to see what is going on behind the scenes.

You can find it on KDE Look.

KDE, Linux

The 4 year old KDE bug that makes crash reports appear whenever you close an app

On December 29 2010 a bug was filed. It was for KDE. It can still be experienced today with the most up to date distros and software. Truly annoying, it causes almost every program to make a segmentation fault when it is closed normally. The only solution right now is to completely disable the KDE crash handler by putting this in your .basrc file

export KDE_DEBUG=1

Its probably a really hard bug to fix and one no one wants to spend their time with. It also appears that QT and KDE are having trouble accepting responsibility for this bug. The cause of this bug seems to simply be transparent windows. This bug cases a plethora of crash dialogs to show on shutdown from things like kmix. I really enjoy having transparent windows and I truly hope this is fixed soon.

The bug report can be found here:
https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=261539