2015 — 5 April: Sunday

Famous last words!1 But happy Easter anyway...

I now have...

... a brand new Xfce desktop, Mint 17.1 system. That's the Good News. The Bad News is my 40" 4K screen is once again sitting on the naughty step out on the dining room table. And the ATI Radeon "Ultimate Fanless" graphics card is once again sitting atop my HP printer/scanner before I take the thing back upstairs to longer-term exile in the Books Warehouse.

What went wrong, David? :-)

It would be quicker...

... to ask "What went right?" as that's a much shorter conversation.

For some reason quite late last night (overheating?) the system locked up on me after a reboot. At that point, it had been happily driving the 4K screen via the Radeon card quite flawlessly for a couple of hours as I tinkered along re-installing applications and generally setting about tweaking things back towards the way I wanted them. But on the reboot, it got 'past' the choice of OS, displayed a hi-res 'Mint' graphic in the centre of the screen, and then just sat there.

And that was essentially that. Selecting the recovery mode scrolled me through a wealth of messages, none of which looked particularly life-threatening, landing on a full screen (not very hi-res) display of options, the top one being "Try a normal boot". This time, instead of the 'Mint' graphic I got some digital hash along the top of the screen (I've come to recognise this as the graphics card's way of saying "I'm deeply unhappy, squire") and so at that point I just gave up, in mild disgust, shut everything down and set off for bed with a Good2 Book. (Not the King James one.)

This morning, with a twinkle in my eye and a spring in my step, whistling a happy tune, I lugged the 4K screen back out to the dining room. Retrieved Mr 27" from upstairs. Whipped out the Radeon card. Plumbed in the screen via HDMI, switched on, and three seconds later was typing my password into a perfect login screen. Two more seconds, and there's my newest Xfce desktop looking smug and pristine.

Computers, heh? Go figure.

For the time being...

... I shall have3 to content myself with this tiny screen. Been there before. Done that before. No problemo. Besides, any 'pain' is considerably eased by defining six virtual desktops. A trick I never was able to master under Win8.1 Pro (or any earlier [even more primitive] variant). Now all I have to do is restore get_iplayer before last week's editions of "Late Junction" disappear from the face of the BBC. Meanwhile, not only am I very pleased with what I've seen of Xfce so far, I've also been handed the magic invocation to install the very latest build from the Ubuntu repository. I shall get to that later today, methinks.

Right! Radio programme downloading is fine. My Decibel music player is back, and I'm currently using it to listen to last Friday evening's show on 6Music that was 'curated' by the Decemberists. Digital audio output via optical fibre can (theoretically) be locked to my Creative X-Fi sound card by the version of PulseAudio volume control baked into the Xfce system. We shall see. My "localhost" web serving is back online courtesy of lightppd. And my one-character typo in its config file that temporarily stopped SSIs from working was spotted and quickly repaired. Sounds like time for my next festive cuppa.

Now, about those four deliveries I mentioned... [Pause, while I first install Inkscape, and then find where I'd tucked the images safely away, group and resize them in Inkscape, and then export them (via the GIMP) as a single JPEG]:

3x BDs plus DVD

I shall be particularly interested to watch "37 Days" as I'm shamefully ignorant of what went on just before the First World War (though I remember a televised lecture by Toynbee back in monochome 405-line days that banged on about railway timetables for troop and munitions movements). I always thought there had to be more to it than that.

Time (after my delicious late lunch — it's now 15:22 already) for my Great Xfce Upgrade Adventure. I may (again) be Gone for a While :-)

Well, that was painless, even with a detour to the Xfce Wiki to read all the caveats. Time for more tea.

The date...

... on this newsletter is a mere five years adrift, but there's some mighty fascinating stuff both in it, and linked from it.

One of my six desktops...

... Blimey! I've just doubled my screen real estate by driving both my Asus 27" monitors from the integrated graphics on the motherboard, effortlessly. I now have six virtual desktops all of that same 'double' width. I think I'll leave it at that, before my head explodes. "Quit while you're ahead," as they say. Here's a (tiny!) screen shot of one of the desktops — all 5,120x1,440 pixels of it:

One of my six desktops

The image of my new DVD artwork is tailored to fit exactly the "height" of a Full HD display, if that's any help.

I'd not previously tried multiple screen support under Linux, of course, as I was using the 40" 4K screen when my Win8.1 Pro collapsed a couple of months ago. Meanwhile, the Thunar File Manager that comes along as part of Xfce now lets you use tabs. My spy assures me that, having fired up a new tab (Ctrl+T) you can then right click on one of the tabs and "detach" it, opening up two independent views on the same file space. Quite why you want this is a question I have not yet answered.

Look what...

... got pushed quietly through Parliament when nobody was looking:

Nuclear waste



1  See the end of yesterday's ¬blog jotting, and imagine my pain.
2  I finished, and very much enjoyed, last week's "Parker" by Richard Stark.
3  While I remain on the hook to sort out mother's Probate I simply need a system that's stable enough (cue hollow laughter) to scan, or create, and print documents of various flavours of "official". It's a pain in the butt not unlike the one caused by a troubled 4K display under Linux that works perfectly, but not all the time.