Friday, 16 December 2016

Strange Mouse Effects with Virtualbox

Since the latest updates to Virtualbox I've noticed a strange issue with the mouse pointer on the guest systems.

I usually run Linux VM guests but I've read reports that this can be  an issue with windows guests as well.  A very large and annoying pointer shadow appears on the screen:

I've googled all around and tried a few fixes but nothing works for me so far.  Plenty of other people seem to get this issue,  but there are no workarounds that have helped my situation.

The issue seems to vary in severity according to the mouse pointer scheme you choose,  with plain black pointers its much less pronounced but if you are using the chameleon cursor set you are really out of luck.

If anyone knows a fix: please let me know.

Freetype update issue from the aur

If you use the infinality font set one of the fonts you get is Freetype.

Recently when  updating I found there was an issue with updating this package,  which was from the AUR on my manjaro.

The update was failing and coming up with an error which complained about the PGP key in the update.

As always google is your friend,  and it lead me here

It turns out that you can refresh the required key with this command:

gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 58E0C111E39F5408C5D3EC76C1A60EACE707FDA5

Once that was done the update went through without an issue.

Infinality Fonts and text antialiasing issue

I always set up the infinality fonts when I set up a Linux distro.  Its not that Linux is awful at fonts,  but its hard to argue its always as good as windows.  If something can be improved with regards to a linux config,  I'll have a go.

Until now I've never had an issue with the infinality fonts which I use both in Manjaro and MX15/16.   However,  the other day I did come across something rather strange.

I was trying to set  up a logo for my sister's blogsite and I wanted a clear background with the text on top.  So I googled how to do this with gimp and off I went: but when I typed in my logo  this is what I saw:

The green highlight around the edge of the font was  hideous,  so I had to go another way.  

So off to google I went and eventually I found this

The solution was this:

Creating /etc/gimp/2.0/fonts.conf and adding

fixes the problem.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Getting my Manjaro to look just right

I use Manjaro (main XFCE edition) on my main desktop machine,  a second hand HP 6000 Pro bought for around £150 a year ago,  upgraded to 8Gb RAM and now running a moderate Nivida video card.

Its been running fine with just the odd hiccup since then.

I'm generally a fan of the dark themes and I do like a bit of Compiz (I'm a sucker for the wobbly windows).  I went with the manjaro-compiz package and I run it at startup using the Compiz Fusion Icon.

A consequence of this is that you end up redoing a lot of your settings again in compiz settings manager.  For example: I had to set new keyboard shortcuts for minimizing and maximizing windows.    One annoyance is that if you go this way you lose windows snapping.  The addon for wobbly windows conflicts with the one for snapping via CCSM and I chose my good old wobbly windows.  I'd like to have both.

Now that we have GTK3 coming in things change again.

Manjaro have recently updated pamac, their app for updates and installing packages that runs as default in the main XFCE edition.

This means that I need a theme which can deal with GTK2,  GTK3 and Compiz.

If you have had Manjaro running for a while you will of course have had all the updates but you may still be on the first theme that came with your initial install and that is the Menda theme.  I moved away from this when I had some issues with it and GTK3.  The solution is the great new theme that now comes with Manjaro : Vertex-Maia.  This works great with GTK3.

I used to use Emerald theme manager for Compiz but I've gone back to GTK for the window decorations.

However,  when you do this you'll find that the window decorations (the look for the maximize,  minimize & close buttons) are not consistent with the theme.

I found the solution in the Arch WIKI:

  • Selecting the theme in Compiz 0.9: The 0.9 version of GTK Window Decorator will read Metacity's theme settings from GSettings. The theme can be set with the following command:
$ gsettings set org.gnome.metacity theme theme-name
where theme-name is the name of the theme you wish to use.
  • Selecting the theme in Compiz 0.8: The 0.8 version of GTK Window Decorator expects Metacity's theme settings to be stored in GConf. Despite the fact that Metacity no longer uses GConf, the GTK Window Decorator theme can still be set using the following command:
$ gconftool-2 -s /apps/metacity/general/theme -t string theme-name
where theme-name is the name of the theme you wish to use.

I'm using  vertex-maia as my icon theme as well.  I use the dark variant of the main theme,  the package is: Vertex-Maia-Dark.

Here's what a normal window looks like:

And Pamac is now pretty consistent in its GTK3 guise:

I think the theme looks great on the start menu as well:

I think the background is of of Charlie Henson's excellent backgrounds.

Finally: the GKT Greeter: if you had the old menda theme and then are moving to Maia then you will need to look at this too.

Get in via the "all settings" manager and click on:

Now make sure that you have the new theme selected in there instead of the old menda one:

Finally lets consider LibreOffice.  It works fine with a dark shell but the icon set used is not the best by default.  I like the breeze and sifr icon sets available to LO but the standard ones don't show up well on a dark theme.

To get round this you may want to look up libreoffice-breeze-icons in the AUR.  This will allow you to install a special set of adjusted icons:

You can now select the icon set from within settings in LibreOffice Writer:

And this is how things should look now in LO:

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Logitech Media Server memory mangement under Linux

I've had a Squeezebox up and running for many years.  Its served me very well in that time,  and although admittedly a bit "techie" for all tastes it runs well and  has been reliable over the years. 

Around a year ago the NAS I was holding the data on and running the server software from (ancient Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ running sparc) died a sudden death.  Despite many attempts I could neither revive the NAS nor even get the data back from it.

I did have some backups and other sources for getting the data back,  and after a few weeks I had amassed most of it again,  thank goodness.  All those hours of burning CDs,  filling in MP3 tags and finding appropriate album images had not been wasted. 

I have an old Dell machine running in a small area I laughingly refer to as an "office area" and I thought: since its almost always running: why not use this as a media server instead.  So I went ahead and installed the linux version of the Logitech software on there and then added a 2nd hard drive and copied over my music and photos. 

After a good deal of fiddling around the setup seemed to work well: except for one thing.  A huge memory leak!  Within a week of a reboot the machine (Dell Vostro 200 with 4GB of RAM) had pretty much run out of memory.

A few days ago I came across a YouTube posting by Joe Collins which was talking about memory management under Linux.

He mentioned this command:

sudo sh -c "sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches"

I ran this on the machine and lo and behold: back came some free memory.

The next job was to schedule this to run regularly: otherwise the freed up memory would slowly disappear again. 

So I created a cron job to facilitate this.

Since the command was preceded by "sudo" I needed to edit the root contab file in order for it to run so the command was:

sudo crontab -e

This command takes you into the appropriate file to edit (after choosing your editor, in this case I chose NANO).

 At this point you need to enter some syntax into the file which firstly tells cron how often you want the command to run and secondly gives it the command to run. 

In my case the command was:

*/120 * * * * sudo sh -c "sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches"

The first bit (*/120 * * * *) tells cron to run the job every 120 minutes,  and the 2nd is our command.

No more reboots to reclaim memory for me!