Catch up

As you can see from my previous posts, I have been having a lot of fun with my truck and the Sunshine chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club. I am now managing the Sunshine Chapter’s website.

In the mean time, I replaced the Davis Vantage Pro with an Oregon Scientific WMR200A station. It lasted about 3 months before the rain gauge failed. I now have a Davis VantageVUE connected to a MeteoBridge. That’s a neat gadget from Ambient Weather which is a linux (naturally) computer measuring about 3″ square and less than 1″ thick. It talks to the weather station via a small radio a little larger than a thumb drive. It is also connected via ethernet (or wifi) to my local network and the internet. It periodically sends data to Weather Underground and a MySQL database on my server. The server then updates this web site.

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Netbooks and KDE network manager

I’m currently running an ASUS eeePC 1201n netbook/laptop.  It has a 12″ screen and a full sized keyboard;  sort of on the border between a netbook and a laptop.  It’s small enough to carry around comfortably and large enough to see and type.  I tried running openSUSE with KDE on it, but KDE has a major problem with the network manager.  It cannot connect to a wireless station with a hidden SSID.   Bug 209464 has been open on KDE since October 2009 and still marked NEW with priority HI and severity NORMAL.

My wireless station is not broadcasting the SSID and is using WPA/WPA2  personal with a pre-shared key.  I’m not about to change that. There is no point in broadcasting the SSID and letting the neighborhood know that wireless access is available to anyone with a good key cracker.

There are some workarounds which I’ve tried with limited success.  The Gnome network manager works fine.  I’ve also tried LXDE and Enlightenment successfully.  Come on KDE, that bug has been open over a year and a half.  If Gnome and the others can do it, look at their code and fix it.

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Back to KDE on openSUSE 11.3

I did finally get openSUSE 11.3 to run on my dual screens, by installing Linux Mint 9 and copying the xorg.conf file back to openSUSE. That solved one display problem, but there were more to come. Skype, which I use a lot to talk to family and friends, installed. It needed a bunch of 32-bit libraries to run. Once I got it running, it kept dropping sound or locking up the system to the point of needing to power off.   The sound hardware finally stopped working.

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I Switched to the Gnome Desktop

I’ve been using SuSE or openSUSE since Caldera Open Linux shut down about 10 years ago. I liked the KDE desktop and YAST (Yet Another System Tool.) YAST concentrates all the system tools into a common graphic interface, which makes configuring the system easy.

I’ve since upgraded my hardware many times and now have a dual monitor display. I have a slide show of photographs I’ve taken as the background image spanning both monitors. KDE3 was a very comfortable desktop. It was much more flexible than Gnome. I had a number of icons scattered around the periphery of the desktop so that I could get to frequently used applications with one click. My panel spanned both screens at the bottom.

OpenSUSE 11.1 and 11.2 had early versions of KDE4 which were not ready for prime time. So I stuck with 11.0 and KDE3. I did have Qt4 installed and have converted my programs to run on it. Now openSUSE 11.0 has reached the end of support.

With some trepidation, I installed 11.3 with KDE4. I quickly discovered that configuring it was a real PITA. It does not handle multiple screens well, if at all. It will not allow a background image to span the two monitors. It will not let you move icons from one display to the other. Just getting them on the desktop is frustrating. Panels cannot span both displays. Wobbly windows do not improve productivity.

Over the years, Gnome has improved a lot. I reinstalled openSUSE 11.3 with the Gnome desktop. I still needed some KDE4 libraries to run KMyMoney, the best open source replacement for Quicken.

I do have my pictures in a slide show spanning the two displays and icons scattered around edge of the desktop. It won’t let a panel span the two displays. So, I put a panel at the bottom of each display. Most of the fixed stuff goes on the second screen.