Office 2007 mime-type problem in KDE

Although Microsoft Office 2007 file types are normally opened by the correct Office 2007 application (running with WINE) in my Gentoo Linux Stable amd64 installation, KDE 4.14.3 on my new Clevo notebook opened *.xlsm (Excel 2007 macro-enabled spreadsheet) files with Ark instead of Excel 2007. For some reason the *.xlsm filetype was registed in the xdg-mime database to use the Ark application:

$ file myspreadsheet.xlsm
myspreadsheet.xlsm: Microsoft Excel 2007+

$ xdg-mime query filetype myspreadsheet.xlsm
application/zip

On the other hand, as you can see below, *.docx documents are correctly registed in the xdg-mime database:

$ file myworddocument.docx
myworddocument.docx: Microsoft Word 2007+

$ xdg-mime query filetype myworddocument.docx
application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

The Office 2007 mime types are listed on the Web page Office 2007 File Format MIME Types for HTTP Content Streaming. Notice the uppercase ‘E’ in the mime-type application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroEnabled.12 for *.xlsm files.

I had already used ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’ in KDE to configure the file association for *.xlsm files, but this made no difference.

I searched my installation and found the file /usr/share/mime/application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document.xml (for *.docx) and the file vnd.ms-excel.sheet.binary.macroenabled.12.xml (for *.xlsb), but the file vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12.xml (for *.xlsm) did not exist.

Then I found the freedesktop.org bug report ‘subclasses declared have wrong case‘ about the package shared-mime-info. One of the commenters stated the problem is in fact due to a bug in KDE.

I followed the work-around given in the bug report:

# mv /usr/share/mime/subclasses /usr/share/mime/subclasses.BAK
# sed -e 's/macroEnabled/macroenabled/' /usr/share/mime/subclasses.BAK > /usr/share/mime/subclasses

I then used KDE ‘System Settings’ > ‘File associations’ again, searched for .xlsm and removed Ark from the list of applications for application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12, then logged-out and back in to KDE. Double-clicking on *.xlsm files now opens them in Excel 2007 again, the file /usr/share/mime/application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12.xml now exists and the mime-type has been set correctly:

$ xdg-mime query filetype myspreadsheet.xlsm
application/vnd.ms-excel.sheet.macroenabled.12

(I don’t have this problem opening *.xlsm files on my Compal laptop, which also has Version 1.4 of shared-mime-info installed and is also running KDE 4.14.3, albeit under Gentoo Testing ~amd64 rather than Gentoo Stable amd64, so perhaps the KDE bug has already been fixed in the Testing branch.)

Installing PeaZip in Gentoo Linux

I like the archive file utility PeaZip. A couple of years ago I used an ebuild app-arch/peazip-bin in a local overlay to install the pre-compiled utility in Gentoo Linux. Today I wanted to install PeaZip on my new laptop but neither the ebuild for the binary package nor the ebuild for the source package in third-party overlays was able to install it, not to mention that I could not find an ebuild of either type for the latest version. PeaZip Portable, however, does not require installation, so it’s not difficult to get the latest version of PeaZip running correctly in Gentoo Linux without needing an ebuild. Here’s how I installed the latest version of 64-bit PeaZip Portable in KDE …

1. Download peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2.tar.gz from the PeaZip Portable x86-64 download page and extract it to the directory /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/ (change ‘fitzcarraldo’ to your own user name, of course).

2. Open a Konsole window and enter the following commands:

# ln -s /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/peazip /usr/local/bin/peazip
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/FreeDesktop_integration/peazip.desktop /usr/share/applications/kde4/
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/FreeDesktop_integration/kde4-dolphin/usr/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus/*.desktop /usr/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus/

The command given below is an alternative to the last command above, and the menu items would then only appear in the right-click menu of my user account and I would be able to edit them using the KDE 4 Service Menu Editor.

$ cp /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/FreeDesktop_integration/kde4-dolphin/usr/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus/*.desktop /home/fitzcarraldo/.kde4/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus/

3. Download a nice Peazip PNG icon that you find using Google Images (e.g. the 256×256 PNG icon at http://market.milouz.com/data/icon190.png).

4. Copy the icon to the PeaZip Portable directory:

$ cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/peazip.png /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/

5. Use the KDE Menu Editor to specify the icon for the PeaZip menu entry.

6. Finally, use e.g. Gwenview to create a PNG copy of the icon resized to 16×16, and copy it to the icon folder used by the KDE Service Menu:

# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/peazip_portable-5.6.0.LINUX.x86_64.GTK2/peazip16x16.png /usr/share/icons/hicolor/16x16/apps/peazip.png

That’s it!

How to install Sabayon Linux via the command line using the ‘text installer’

If you have trouble installing Sabayon Linux from one of the ISOs that include KDE, GNOME or Xfce, you could try installing from the ‘SpinBase’ ISO or ‘Minimal’ ISO instead and add a desktop environment later.

And sometimes the Sabayon Linux installer is unable to install the distribution correctly for the GPU or APU in your machine, so installing the distribution to use the X.Org VESA video driver then later trying another video driver can also be a way to get you to a working installation.

Whichever ‘spin’ of Sabayon Linux I try to install, I find my success varies considerably with the release of ISO. So, if you end up with a blank screen when you reboot after installing the distribution, try installing it again with a different ISO, such as a Monthly release instead of a Daily release. If none of the current ISOs result in a working installation, you may have to wait a few days for a new Daily release to be uploaded. Despite the name, the Daily ISOs are not necessarily released daily.

I recommend you practice installation in VirtualBox before trying with an actual HDD. You can do this on a PC running VirtualBox under Windows, Mac OS or Linux. N.B. If the console goes black at any time in VirtualBox, press Enter to refresh the contents.

The steps below worked for me with a Sabayon Linux ISO dated 14 September 2014 in VirtualBox running under Windows 8.1 on a machine with Intel HD Graphics APU. In the steps below I configure the installation for the time zone in which São Paulo is situated and specify British English and Brazilian Portuguese as the languages to be used. Obviously you should choose instead the time zone and language that you want in your installation.

1. Download the Daily SpinBase ISO (Sabayon_Linux_DAILY_x86_SpinBase.iso) from one of the ISO repositories (see the Download link on the distribution’s Web site).

2. Create a LiveDVD from the ISO (see my post Help for Windows users: How to create a Linux LiveCD, LiveDVD or LivePenDrive from an ISO file if you don’t know how to do that).

3. Boot the LiveDVD.

4. You have two choices here, really. Try (a) first and, if the LiveDVD will not continue to load the OS or it will but you end up with an installation that does not work, then re-boot the LiveDVD and perform (b) instead.

Either:

a) Press ‘Enter‘ at the Sabayon Linux boot menu, to start the OS from the LiveDVD.

or:

b) Press F5 at the Sabayon Linux boot menu, then Esc to close the pop-up list of boot parameters. Then delete the “---” at the end of the list of kernel boot parameters, delete the “vga=791“, add “xdriver=vesa” to the end of the list and press ‘Enter‘ to start the OS from the LiveDVD. Note that, unlike the other Sabayon Linux ISO releases, the SpinBase ISO does not include video drivers for X Windows. However, by booting the LiveDVD with xdriver=vesa the installation on the HDD will include that parameter in /etc/default/sabayon-grub and /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

In either case, Sabayon Linux on the LiveDVD should start in text mode and you should see a root user prompt:

sabayon ~ #

5. Enter the following command and follow the prompts to enter the relevant information to install Sabayon to your HDD:

# installer

Select 2) 'Use text mode' then work your way through steps 1 to 5, answering the installer’s prompts:

1) Timezone settings
2) Set root password
3) Create user
4) Network settings
5) Install Destination

When you select Step 5 (Install Destination) you will be presented with three ‘Autopartitioning Options’ (Replace Existing Linux System(s); Use All Space; Use Free Space). When you make your choice from those three options, you will then be presented with the options for partitioning:

Partition Scheme Options

[ ] 1) Standard Partition

[x] 2) LVM

[ ] 3) BTRFS

Select a partition scheme configuration.

Please make your choice from above ['q' to quit | 'c' to continue | 'r' to refresh]:

You may find that the installer crashes if you have selected either the default LVM partition scheme or the BTRFS partition scheme. If it does crash, run the installer again but select Option 1 instead (Standard Partition), which will create standard ext4 partitions. Actually, I prefer this option.

Quite a few Python-related error messages may be displayed towards the end of the installation process. I just ignore them.

6. Once the installer has completed installation, press Enter to quit, and you will see a root user prompt again.

7. Enter the following command to reboot (If you installed using VirtualBox, make sure you remove the ISO from the virtual CD/DVD drive, or you will just reboot from the ISO instead of the virtual HDD):

systemctl reboot

If you still have the LiveDVD in the drive, select ‘Boot from first hard drive’ in the LiveDVD’s boot menu.

8. You will see a log-in prompt:

sabayon login:

Log-in as user ‘root’ with the root user’s password you specified during installation.

9. List the available time zones:

# timedatectl list-timezones

(Press the Space Bar to page through the list, and the Q key to exit the list.)

10. Specify the timezone you want:

# timedatectl set-timezone America/Sao_Paulo

11. List the current locale:

# localectl list-locales
en_US
en_US.iso88591
en_US.utf8

12. If you want to change the current locale or add a locale, edit the locale.gen file:

# nano /etc/locale.gen

I wanted to have just British English and Brazilian Portuguese, so I made the file contain only the following:

en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8
en_GB ISO-8859-1
pt_BR.UTF-8 UTF-8
pt_BR ISO-8859-1

If I only wanted one language (I’ll use Brazilian Portuguese as an example), I would have made it contain the following instead:

pt_BR.UTF-8 UTF-8
pt_BR ISO-8859-1

13. Generate the locale(s) you want:

# locale-gen
* Generating 4 locales (this might take a while) with 1 jobs
* (1/4) Generating en_GB.UTF-8 ... [ ok ]
* (2/4) Generating en_GB.ISO-8859-1 ... [ ok ]
* (3/4) Generating pt_BR.UTF-8 ... [ ok ]
* (4/4) Generating pt_BR.ISO-8859-1 ... [ ok ]
* Generation complete

14. List the locales you have configured, just to be sure:

# localectl list-locales
en_GB
en_GB.iso88591
en_GB.utf8
pt_BR
pt_BR.iso88591
pt_BR.utf8

15. Set the language you want to use:

# localectl set-locale LANG=pt_BR.UTF-8

16. List the console keymaps available:

# localectl list-keymaps

17. Chose the console keymap you wish to use:

# localectl set-keymap br-abnt2

N.B. The above systemd command does not change the console keymap specified in /boot/grub/grub.cfg, which remains as “vconsole.keymap=us“. You will have to fix that later by editing /etc/default/sabayon-grub and running grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg, as I show further on.

18. List the X11 keymaps available:

# localectl list-x11-keymap-layouts

19. Chose the X11 keymap you wish to use:

# localectl set-x11-keymap br

20. Update the environment variables and profile to adopt what you specified:

# env-update && source /etc/profile

21. Reboot (Remove the LiveDVD if still have not already done so):

# systemctl reboot

22. Log-in as the root user.

23. Fix the console keymap specified in grub.cfg:

# nano /etc/default/sabayon-grub

and replace “vconsole.keymap=us” with “vconsole.keymap=br-abnt2“.

# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

24. Make sure the Entropy package database in your installation is up to date:

# equo update

25. Roll (upgrade) all installed packages to their latest version:

# equo upgrade

If you are prompted regarding any package licences, just accept them.

26. Update any superseded configuration files:

# equo conf update

27. Check if there are any missing/incorrect dependencies:

# equo deptest

28. Check if there are any missing/incorrect libraries:

# equo libtest

29. Install the X.Org VESA video driver:

# equo install xf86-video-vesa

This is needed because the VESA video driver does not get installed even if you specify “xdriver=vesa” initially in the kernel boot parameter list when booting a LiveDVD using SpinBase.

30. Install the desktop environment of your choice (I’ll choose KDE):

# equo install kde-meta

31. If you are installing KDE, also install the KDE language pack(s) for the locale(s) configured earlier:

# equo install kde-l10n-en_GB kde-l10n-pt_BR

32. Install the Sabayon Linux theme for KDE and KDM (I find this package is not installed automatically, and stops KDM from working if it is not present):

# equo install sabayon-artwork-kde

33. Reboot:

# systemctl reboot

34. Log-in as the root user and, if you installed KDE, enable KDM as the desktop manager (log-in screen):

# systemctl enable kdm

35. Then reboot:

# systemctl reboot

The installation on your HDD should now boot to the KDM log-in screen. You should be able to enter your user name and password, and the installation should launch the Desktop Environment and display the Desktop. From here you will be able to open a Konsole/Terminal window and install other packages. If you want to change the video driver from the X.Org VESA driver to a driver for an AMD, Intel or NVIDIA GPU/APU, you will need to install the relevant driver package and edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and /etc/default/sabayon-grub accordingly (and regenerate grub.cfg). Post in the Sabayon Linux Forums to ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Make Firefox for Linux use Dolphin to ‘Open Containing Folder’

When I click on the Download Manager icon on the tool bar, Firefox for Linux 32.0 opens a small pane listing downloads in progress, if any, and a link ‘Show All Downloads’. If I click on the link, Firefox pops up a window listing all the files downloaded via the browser, each with a folder icon beside it. Hovering the mouse pointer over the folder icon displays a tooltip ‘Open Containing Folder’. For as long as I can remember with Firefox for Linux, clicking that folder icon resulted in the Audacious music player launching and playing an MP4 file that happens to be in my ~/Downloads/ directory!

Firstly, I have no idea why Firefox was launching a media player instead of opening the directory. Secondly, I have no idea why Firefox wanted to open that specific file rather than any of the other files in the directory. Thirdly, I have no idea why it was launching Audacious, because Audacious is not even specified as the default media player for MP4 files in KDE’s ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’.

This has annoyed me for a long time, but only today did I resolve to fix it, although it was not so easy to find a working solution by searching the Web. It seems it is a common problem with Firefox in Linux, and I found threads in various forums recommending the creation of a set of preferences by using about:config. Some of those threads state that one of those preferences should specify Konqueror; other threads state that one of the preferences should specify a shell script. In the end I discovered a post in an openSUSE Forums thread from 2012 Re: How use Dolphin to “open containing folder” from firefox downloads? providing a broken link to a thread at a different Web site and, fortunately, quoting the solution which worked for me, which is to create a file named ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list containing the following:

[Default Applications]
x-directory/normal=kde4-dolphin.desktop;kde4-kfmclient_dir.desktop;

Now when I click on the ‘Open Containing Folder’ icon in Firefox, Dolphin launches and displays the contents of ~/Downloads/ just as I would have expected from the beginning.

Opening multiple browser tabs simultaneously — AutoKey comes to the rescue

hotkey to launch an application

I sometimes consult several dictionary Web sites concurrently. Typically I have them open simultaneously on different browser tabs so that I can switch between them quickly. Naturally I have the sites bookmarked, but it is still a bit of a nuisance to have to open each site by clicking on the browser’s ‘Open a new tab’ icon and then clicking on a bookmark. So I thought it would be nice if I could have an icon in the browser or on the Desktop that I could click to open all the desired Web pages at once.

Well, I could have created a Desktop Configuration File in ~/Desktop/ to launch a command such as the one listed below, and given the file a nice icon.

firefox http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ http://michaelis.uol.com.br/moderno/portugues/index.php http://www.conjuga-me.net/ http://www.priberam.pt/dlpo/ http://www.wordreference.com/

Then I would have been able to double-click on the icon on my Desktop, which would have launched a separate Firefox window with those five required Web sites in different tabs. But what if I happened to have an existing window maximised? I would then have to move it to be able to see the icon on the Desktop. So I decided that was not an ideal approach.

Next I thought about the possibility of a Firefox extension, so I searched the Mozilla Add-ons site and found one called Open Multiple Locations. But, from what I read, it seems the extension is no longer being maintained. Furthermore, it appears it would have to be launched from the browser’s File menu, which would still be a little inconvenient.

Then I remembered that I have the excellent utility AutoKey installed, so why not define a hotkey sequence to do what I wanted? This is what I did.

When you install AutoKey, it creates a directory ~/.config/autokey/data/My Phrases/ which contains directories named Addresses and Sample Scripts. The latter two directories contain examples of what you can do with AutoKey. Now, one of the example scripts in Sample Scripts is Insert Date.py, a very simple script which enables you to issue the Linux date command with a hotkey combination, preconfigured as Ctrl-Alt-d (Click on the Insert Date entry in the left pane of the AutoKey window and notice in the lower right pane that the hotkey is listed and there are Set and Clear buttons to enable you to change it).

So I used the Desktop Environment’s GUI to navigate to the directory ~/.config/autokey/data/My Phrases/ and created a directory which I called ~/.config/autokey/data/My Phrases/My Scripts/. I copied the file ~/.config/autokey/data/My Phrases/Sample Scripts/Insert Date.py into the new directory and renamed it Launch_Firefox_with_dictionaries.py then set its AutoKey hotkey combination to be Ctrl-Alt-f and edited it to contain the desired command:

output = system.exec_command("firefox http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ http://michaelis.uol.com.br/moderno/portugues/index.php http://www.conjuga-me.net/ http://www.priberam.pt/dlpo/ http://www.wordreference.com/")
keyboard.send_keys(output)

Now, when I am using a browser (be it Firefox, Chrome, Konqueror or whatever) or any other application and I need to consult those dictionaries, I just press Ctrl-Alt-f and up pops a Firefox window containing five tabs with the Web sites I wish to be able to use. Done and done.

Of course, if you happen to be using a Desktop Environment that has its own shortcut tool, you can use that instead. For example, in KDE I could have instead used ‘System Settings’ > ‘Shortcuts and Gestures’ | ‘Custom Shortcuts’ and configured Ctrl-Alt-f to run the above-mentioned command to launch Firefox with those five URLs. (You need to log out of KDE and log in again for the shortcut to become active.) That would have achieved exactly the same result as with AutoKey.

WINE tips: File associations for Windows applications in Linux (continued)

There is a downside to the approach described in my previous post regarding file associations for Windows applications run via WINE, at least in the case of KDE.

By using KDE’s ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’ to change the application launch command from:

env WINEPREFIX="/home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5" WINEARCH="win32" wine /home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5/drive_c/Program\ Files/Visio/Visio32.EXE

to:

env WINEPREFIX="/home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5" WINEARCH="win32" wine C:\\windows\\command\\start.exe /Unix %U

the launch command in KDE’s Kicker application launcher menu is also changed to the latter. Trying to launch the Windows application from the Kicker menu (Wine > Programs > a_Windows_application) then fails. Presumably this is because the wine command expects a filename (the %U in the command string) but that is not being provided.

Alternative 1

One solution is to use a shell script as described in my earlier post: WINE tips: How to associate IrfanView with an image file type in Linux. Kicker can still be used to launch the application (e.g. Wine > Programs > IrfanView) when the menu command is of the following form but no filename is provided (even though the %f is left in the command string):

/home/fitzcarraldo/launch_IrfanView.sh %f

Alternative 2

Another solution – well, really a work-around – is to accept that the Windows application cannot be launched from the Kicker menu and to create a separate Desktop Configuration File in /home/fitzcarraldo/Desktop/ which uses a different command to launch the application. For example, in my previous post the file association I configured via ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’ for Visio was:

env WINEPREFIX="/home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5" WINEARCH="win32" wine C:\\windows\\command\\start.exe /Unix %U

and therefore the command in the Kicker menu entry is the same, but I created a Desktop Configuration File which I named ‘/home/fitzcarraldo/Desktop/Visio 5 Professional‘ which contains the command:

env WINEPREFIX="/home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5" WINEARCH="win32" wine /home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5/drive_c/Program\ Files/Visio/Visio32.EXE

$ ls -la ~/Desktop/Visio*
-rwxrwxrwx 1 fitzcarraldo users 562 Aug 26 17:42 /home/fitzcarraldo/Desktop/Visio 5 Professional

Notice that the command to launch the Windows application does not contain a filename parameter (%U), so when I double-click on the icon on the Desktop it launches Visio.

Summary

Ideally, KDE should be changed to allow the application launching command in ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’ to be edited to be different to the application launching command in the Kicker menu. In the absence of that, you have two alternatives in the case of WINE:

  1. Create a shell script to launch the application. This allows you to launch the Windows application via Kicker and by double-clicking on a file of the applicable type.

    or

  2. Create a separate Desktop Configuration File in e.g. the ~/Desktop/ directory. This allows you to launch the Windows application by double-clicking on a Desktop Configuration File for the application and by double-clicking on a file of the applicable type. However you cannot launch the application from its entry in the Kicker menu.

WINE tips: File associations of Windows applications in Linux

I have several applications for Windows installed under WINE in Linux. These applications launch correctly if I double-click on a file for that application, but, in the case of some of these applications, the file itself is not opened. Therefore I first have to launch the application and then load the file from within the application (File > Open, or whatever). Some time ago I explained how to fix this in the case of IrfanView by creating a shell script – see my post WINE tips: How to associate IrfanView with an image file type in Linux – but there is an easier way to do it in many cases, as illustrated by the example below for another Windows application I use regularly in Linux. I finally got fed up with not being able to open .vsd (Visio drawing) files by double-clicking on them in Linux, and decided to fix this. The same procedure applies, whatever the Windows application.

I use KDE, but the principle applies whatever Desktop Environment you are using. Just use the relevant File Association configuration tool for that Desktop Environment.

  1. I selected ‘System Settings’ > ‘File Associations’ from the KDE Kickoff menu launcher.

  2. I entered ‘vsd’ (without the quotes) in the search field in order to find the application associated with that file type.

    The ‘Known Types’ box then displayed the following:

    >- application

  3. When I expanded that by clicking on it, the ‘Known Types’ box displayed the following two application file types:

    v- application
            vnd.ms-visio.viewer
            vnd.visio

  4. Clicking on either displayed ‘Visio 5.0 Professional’ in the ‘Application Preference Order’ box. I selected it and clicked on ‘Edit…’, which opened a Properties window for the application’s desktop configuration file.

  5. I clicked on the ‘Application’ tab. The ‘Command’ box contained the following command:
    env WINEPREFIX="/home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5" WINEARCH="win32" wine /home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5/drive_c/Program\ Files/Visio/Visio32.EXE

    (The wine command itself has to be preceded by the definition of the WINEPREFIX and WINEARCH environment variables because I specified those environment variables originally when I installed the application via WINE.)

    I changed the command to be the following:

    env WINEPREFIX="/home/fitzcarraldo/.wine-visio5" WINEARCH="win32" wine C:\\windows\\command\\start.exe /Unix %U

    for both vnd.ms-viso.viewer and vnd.visio application file types, and clicked on ‘OK’ and ‘Apply’.

That’s all there was to it. Now when I double-click on any file ending with ‘.vsd’, Visio launches as before but the actual file is opened in the application. Very straightforward, and I really should have made the effort to fix it sooner. :-)

Dragging windows between sides of the KWin Desktop Cube

The KDE Desktop Cube is one of the ‘eye-candy’ features provided by KWin’s Desktop Effects. Actually I use the desktop cube a lot at work (far more than at home), as I often have several windows open simultaneously on each virtual desktop (cube side) and, for some reason, I find it more natural (and fun) to rotate an on-screen cube rather than switch between 2D virtual desktops. Perhaps it’s because we live in a 3D world?

I also like to be able to drag windows from one cube face to another, a KWin feature I also find natural and fast to use. However, its configuration is not as intuitive as that of some of the other desktop effects. Also, this feature can be prevented from working if some of the other effects are enabled. Sometimes I find the feature has become disabled after I have upgraded KDE. For example, if I drag a window to the edge of the screen the cube stubbornly refuses to rotate and the window snaps to the side of the screen and expands vertically (something with which Windows 7 users will be familiar). I always forget how to reconfigure KWin to be able to drag windows between cube faces, and end up wasting several minutes fiddling with the KWin settings. This happened to me again today, so, in case others get fed up trying to get it working, here is a configuration that works for me:

  • Select ‘System Settings’ > ‘Desktop Effects’.
  • Click on the ‘All Effects’ tab.
  • ‘Desktop Cube’ and ‘Desktop Cube Animation’ should be ticked.
  • Click on the spanner icon of ‘Desktop Cube Animation’ and make sure ‘Start animation when moving windows towards screen edges’ is not ticked.

  • Select ‘System Settings’ > ‘Workspace Behaviour’.
  • Click on ‘Screen Edges’.
  • Make sure ‘Maximise windows by dragging them to the top of the screen’ and ‘Tile windows by dragging them to the side of the screen’ are not ticked.
  • Select ‘Only When Moving Windows’ for ‘Switch desktop on edge’.
  • Adjust the ‘Activation delay’ and ‘Reactivation delay’ to your taste. I find 150 ms and 1000 ms, respectively, work well on my main laptop.

Where have my Konqueror favicons gone?

I upgraded to KDE 4.13.0 recently only to find that Konqueror no longer displayed some of the favicons, neither in the Bookmarks menu nor in the URL address bar. It seems this is a known KDE bug first reported in 2007 (Bug 153049 – Konqueror from KDE4 doesn’t load some favicons) although apparently it does not affect many users, which is why it still has not been fixed, I suppose.

In 2010 a KDE user reported in the KDE Community Forums thread Konqueror favicons again the steps he used to fix the problem in his installation, but he did not give the precise file names and paths of the files he deleted. In any case, I did not fancy deleting any sockets.

I tried various things, such as exporting and reimporting bookmarks in Konqueror, but was unable to get the missing favicons to display again. In the end I accepted I would have to lose all my bookmarks and decided to reinstall Konqueror. However, not all files are removed when a package is uninstalled, so I made sure everything was gone as follows:

1. Uninstall Konqueror

# emerge -C konqueror

2. Delete left-over directories and files relating to Konqueror

# rm -rf /home/fitzcarraldo/.kde4/share/apps/konqueror/
# rm /home/fitzcarraldo/.kde4/share/config/konq*

3. Log out of KDE and switch to a VT (virtual terminal, a.k.a. console)

# rm /var/tmp/kdecache-fitzcarraldo/favicons/*
# rm /var/tmp/kdecache-fitzcarraldo/icon-cache.kcache

4. Log in to KDE again and re-install Konqueror

# emerge -1v konqueror

5. Launch Konqueror and bookmark all your favourite Web sites.

That will get favicons working again in Konqueror, but what a hassle. KDE developers, please fix this old bug (no. 153049)!

UPDATE April 20, 2015: There is a slightly better way of restoring your favicons in Konqueror. You can export the bookmarks before uninstalling Konqueror, then import the bookmarks after re-installing Konqueror. This saves you having to re-bookmark all you favourite Web sites. So, add a step before Step 1 above, as follows:

Select ‘Bookmarks’ > ‘Edit Bookmarks…’ > ‘File’ > ‘Export’ > ‘Export Mozilla Bookmarks…’ and enter ‘konqueror’ in the file name field of the pop-up window (the suffix ‘.html’ will be appended automatically when you click ‘Save’).

Then, instead of Step 5 above, launch Konqueror and import the bookmarks from the file konqueror.html by selecting ‘Bookmarks’ > ‘Edit Bookmarks…’ > ‘File’ > ‘Import’ > ‘Import Mozilla Bookmarks…’. Then ‘Bookmarks’ > ‘Tools’ > ‘Update All Favicons’ should result in visible favicons. Any that are not visible this way can be updated individually from the same menu.

Can Linux cope with 24 Hours of Happy?

I enjoyed Pharrell Williams’ feel-good songs in ‘Despicable Me‘ and its sequel, ‘Despicable Me 2‘. ‘Happy‘, a very catchy ditty he wrote for the sequel, also features in the World’s first 24-hour-long music video, ‘24 Hours of Happy‘, shot in and around Los Angeles and released on 21 November last year. The song is played a total of 360 times over the duration of the video, each 4-minute take featuring a different person or persons dancing (improvised) along streets, in petrol stations, through Union Station, in a church, around a school, in a moving school bus, around a supermarket, in a bowling alley, and so on. Each 4-minute performance was filmed in one take using Steadicam, and the location at the end of each take segues into the next take. You see the sun rise; you see the bright sunlight of the morning and the warm sunlight of the afternoon; you see the sun set; you see the twinkling city lights at night. The concept is simple yet brilliant.

Clips from some of the takes were used to create the 4-minute official music video for ‘Happy’, so you can watch that on YouTube to get a flavour of the takes, although it does not do justice to the full video.

Williams appears in a different take every hour on the hour, and a few other takes have celebrity cameos, but the vast majority of the participants are unknown extras of all ages, races, shapes, sizes and looks. To quote Williams talking to the Los Angeles Times: “We wanted all humanity in there, not just the model-types you might expect.” Some are good dancers, others not so good. But they all have one thing in common: they’re having fun, so they look good. The joy is infectious, and I found myself watching far longer than I would have expected, having to return to the site again and again. Half the fun is watching the bystanders.

When you open the ’24 Hours of Happy’ site, the take that was in progress at the current time of day starts playing from the beginning. However, you can drag the pointer around the clock dial and watch any take from the 24-hour period. There are also buttons you can click on to jump between takes or to jump to each take featuring Williams. The yellow on-screen controls can be made to disappear by not moving the mouse pointer for 5 seconds.

Still from 24 Hours of Happy, showing on-screen controls

Still from 24 Hours of Happy, showing on-screen controls

The Web site is well-designed and fun to use, so I was not surprised it was voted ‘Site of the Month‘ and ‘Site of the Year Users’ Choice‘ by AWWWARDS, and voted ‘Site of the Month‘ and ‘Site of the Year‘ by TheFWA.

It’s impossible to list them all, but a few of my favourite takes are:

01:36  Very perky woman with ponytail.
05:28  Jogger who has to keep pulling his shorts up!
08:24  Woman on roller skates.
09:52  Very cute little girl.
09:56  Woman with some groovy moves.
10:40  Woman in Union Station. Some of the bystanders are particularly amusing.
11:16  Man with cast on foot.
11:20  Boy with an Afro.
11:36  Three groovy old ladies.
11:44  Chubby guy with style.
12:36  Woman with some groovy moves.
13:32  Dancing couple in pink.
14:20  Two cool guys in dinner jackets inside and outside Union Station.
15:00  Pharrell Williams in a church with a gospel choir.
19:04  Woman with a lizard puppet. The lizard does the lip-synching!
19:36  Guy on stilts.
23:40  Woman with LED hula hoop (love it!).

If you want to start viewing a take made at a specific time of day, you can append the time to the URL, like so:

http://24hoursofhappy.com/09h53am

Obviously I think ’24 Hours of Happy’ is fabulous, but why am I discussing it in a blog predominantly about Linux? Because Firefox 27.0.1 (32-bit) running in Windows 8.1 (64-bit) on my new Acer Aspire XC-600 micro-tower PC (dual-core Intel Pentium G2030 @ 3 GHz & 3 MB cache, 4 GB DDR3 RAM) handles ’24 Hours of Happy’ at 720p with ease, but the story is very different on my main laptop running 64-bit Gentoo Linux with KDE (quad-core Intel Core i7 720QM @ 933 MHz & 6 MB cache, 4 GB DDR3 RAM). Both machines are on my home network, connected to the Internet via high-bandwidth broadband (FTTC).

On my laptop, the latest available versions of Firefox (27.0) and Opera (12.16_p1860-r1) for Gentoo, both 64-bit, do not even complete loading the ’24 Hours of Happy’ site: the black progress bar at the bottom of the home page stops about 7/8th of the way across the page and the KDE Network Monitor widget shows there is no network activity. Clearing Firefox’s Web content cache or increasing the cache’s size to 1 GB make no difference. Konqueror 4.12.2 (configured to use the WebKit browser engine rather than the KHTML engine) loads the site and plays it quite well at 720p to start with, but eventually video becomes choppy and I notice a lot of spawned kio_http processes. The KDE Network Monitor widget shows a continuous 3600 Kib/s data stream, which does not stop when I exit Konqueror. Numerous kio_http processes are spawned and remain after I exit Konqueror, and the 3600 KiB/s activity on the network only ceases when I kill all the kio_http processes. The number of spawned kio_http processes increases if I drag the pointer around the clock to select different takes, and the page just displays ‘LOADING’ ad infinitum if I do this several times. To be fair, if I do this a lot in Firefox running in Windows 8.1, I can get Firefox to stall too. I thought I’d try a lightweight browser and installed NetSurf (3.0-r1), but that couldn’t even render the title on the home page, let alone begin to load the video.

So, does ’24 Hours of Happy’ play nicely in your Linux installation? If it does, what hardware, distribution, desktop environment, browser and quality (360p, 480p, 720p or 1080p) are you using?

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