More Mozilla Replacements

Last time I wrote, I was describing replacement software for Mozilla products. Not because I’m one of those rabid FOSS activists who runs only GNU, open-source, non-proprietary software (I really don’t know how anyone actually does anyway), but because of Mozilla’s politics.

I had replaced my once-beloved Seamonkey with Midori (Xfce’s own awesome lightweight web browser) and Geary (A Gnome project, unsupported for awhile and recently resurrected and updated). Both are wonderful!

Just out of curiosity because of some minor limitations with Geary and Midori, I wanted to try the GNU versions of Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird. They are IceCat (GNU’s version of Firefox) and Icedove (GNU – Thunderbird).

I installed them on my custom Xubuntu-core machine by adding the repository from Trisquel Linux (all GNU software) and using Synaptic to load ’em up.

IceCat refused to display anything with Java until I modified the settings, which I expected. Other than that it’s every bit like Firefox or Seamonkey’s browser, but a whole bunch quicker and more nimble. A good Mozilla replacement!

Icedove is awesome, and right out of the chute it has all the features I loved about Seamonkey’s mail reader and composer, including in-line links and images, Address Book, etc., which Geary lacks, as awesome as it is. Another good Mozilla replacement!

So if you think you can’t do without Mozilla’s great products, but don’t want Mozilla’s branding or to use their products showing, even unwittingly, some support for their political corruption, check out these sweet GNU alternatives.

Grrrr, GMX Mail

Stupid GMX Mail. I should have known, I guess. I don’t trust Google (and therefore I don’t trust Gmail), so I set up an account at a free e-mail provider called GMX. Free POP3/IMAP access, generous terms, all that. Very popular. Great Webmail interface but I like to use a 3rd party e-mail client (like Thunderbird, but I use Geary).

But the outgoing server (smtp) times out, fails, won’t connect, whatever. Constantly.

Welllll,

It turns out that GMX is apparently known to be a big ol’ spam factory, so a lot of ISPs block it. Who knew? Everybody but me, I guess.

Fine, GMX, be that way. I don’t need your stupid outgoing server anyway, and since it’s blocked by a lot of people, I’ll bypass that.

The trick is to use your own ISP’s email server for outgoing mail. You’re not stuck using your free e-mail provider’s smtp server, y’know.

Shared just because – a lot of us are un-Googlifying, especially since Google has started quietly censuring conservative sites and profiles lately. Natural News, for example, has been effectively “banned.”

I’m not recommending GMX by any means, only suggesting that if you’re using one of those free email services and an e-mail client like Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, etc., you can use your ISP’s outgoing server if the free one is as unreliable as GMX’s has turned out to be.

Giving away my MacBook Pro and going back to Linux

Ethics, Freedom, and Clarity.

thealarmclocksixam

I’ve used GNU/Linux as my main and only desktop OS since more than 10 years (as a University student first and now at work).

I’ve always been fine with Linux and I never felt like I was missing something (except Skype, maybe – or a better multiscreen support on KDE). I would from time to time change my desktop environment to refresh the user experience when the UI started to become boring on the eyes (cycling between Unity, KDE, elementary, GNOME) and that purely aesthetic freedom felt great.

But I kept seeing a growing number of colleagues around me using Apple laptops. Were/Are they all blindly following the flavor of the week? No, I don’t think so, they’re smart people. I concluded that there had to be something really better about these MacBooks.

So I ordered one as my new work machine…

…and my experience with it has been positive (yes…

View original post 391 more words

Update Garmin Nuvi Maps for Free!

No you don’t have to have either Windows or Mac in order to update your Garmin Nuvi GPS (or Magellan, TomTom, and a few others). And no, you don’t have to pay for updated maps either, even if your GPS is older or unregistered with the company.

I did it, and I’m still as technophobic as I ever was. So if this li’l technophobic sidekick can manage it, it’s likely that any of my readers can. I do the FedEx Ground delivery driver thing, and I have an old hand-me-down Garmin Nuvi that I use on my route. Not for directions, but just as a “rolling map” to tell me where I am and streets are coming up as I travel.

The technique I’ll show you here uses OpenStreetMap, a free and open-source collaborative work. Maps are updated much more often than the official Garmin maps. They also show considerably more detail, judging by my Nuvi’s performance today. I’m just going to write about the Garmin GPS because that’s what I have and all I really know. But according to this wonderful web page, it also works for some other brands.

I navigated to my /home directory and created a new folder named “GarminNuvi.” It has a subfolder called Maps.

I connected my Garmin Nuvi to my computer via a USB port and it was automagically mounted, thanks to Thunar’s awesomeness (Thunar is the Xfce file manager in Linux). I then copied the map file, named gmapprom.img, to /home/robin/GarminNuvi/Map. You can do this in the terminal or just open your file manager as root (“sudo thunar” in a terminal window) and move the file from your Garmin to the “Map” subfolder. This is a safety thing! ALWAYS BACK UP the old map in case something goes wrong! Now you can DELETE gmapprom.img from the Garmin. I renamed this backup file gmapprom-old.img. If I needed to restore it, I’d give it back it’s original name.

Select and download the new maps from http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/ It’s easy, just follow the prompts on the screen to select your map by continent, country, state, province, or customize your own. If you customize yours, you’ll need to enter your e-mail address and they’ll notify you when it’s compiled and ready to download. My old map is North America, nearly 3GB in size! Yikes! So I selected only my own state for the new map, because that’s really all I need and it’s just a few hundred MB in size. Easy peasy. And fast! The file you want for the Garmin Nuvi is named osm_generic_gmapsupp.zip.

Move that file to /Garmin/New and extract it there. 7-zip works, most default "archivers" work for decompressing zip files. After unzipping it, you'll have a file called gmapsupp.img. For the Garmin, you must rename that file to gmapprom.img. This is your new map! Copy it back to your Garmin, re-start it, and take it for a test drive.

Save a copy of your new gmapprom.img in the /Garmin/New folder as the next backup. When it's time, that can be moved to the Old subfolder. But until you're sure everything works okay, keep that old one around!

Oh My, Slackware Has No Gnome!

Gnome has been removed from Slackware, some months ago. It’s nothing against Gnome, I guess, but I was surprised when I went to try out a couple of Gnome applications because my favorite web browser (actually, Internet Suite) Seamonkey, has started acting up.

Not available in the repository, not available as a Slackbuild. Salix has a couple of Gnome things in their repository, but not the applications I wanted to try. Geary and maybe Evolution for e-mail and maybe some other browser (besides Firefox).

But I had to use another distro to try them out! Grrrr. Oh well, back to Xubuntu for this trial-and-error experiment. But not exactly full-on Xubuntu.

Xubuntu Core
is a nice little invention. Available as an .iso file from one of the Xubu developers, the official way to get it is to install the Ubuntu Mini iso, which installs only the base Ubuntu system and a terminal without any applications or desktop environment. Then do the

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-core

thing. This installs only the Xfce desktop with some of the wonderful Xubuntu settings that set Xubu apart from other Xfce distros for it’s elegance and classy looks. No bloat, just stripped-down, ultralight Xubuntu awesomeness. Next I installed Synaptic Package Manager and chose some very lightweight applications (Abiword and Gnumeric instead of LibreOffice, for example) and the applications I wanted to try out.

Oh, by the way, note to first-timers with that Ubuntu-mini iso: After it installs and asks you to reboot from the HDD, you must bring up the Grub menu the first time it boots from the hard drive. So that by holding down the Shift key during it’s boot-up. It works better than typing

start
run
begin
commence
engage
do something, dammit!

Trying them out on Xubuntu Core, Geary just plain sucked. Random crashes in the middle of composing an e-mail or even reading one. No wonder the Elementary team forked it (Pantheon Mail). And Evolution (a Novell product, I should have known, I hated it when I had to use their crap in the Fire Department) refused to connect to the Internet. Okay then, lesson learned. No wonder Slackware dropped them, I guess. Not just the Gnome 3 debacle, but these native apps suck.

The lightweight Midori browser no longer crashes randomly, however. It always did before, every time I have given it a try over the last couple of years. Now it’s working just fine! My long-beloved Seamonkey may be replaced by Thunderbird and Midori.

It’s always trial-and-error with Linux, ain’t it? Yeah, that’s really half the fun I guess.

KDE, Krunner, and Baloo

Guest Linux tech tip, written by “Tedel” (tedel)

If you’re running KDE as your desktop environment, you may have run into these issues. Tedel has found an easy way to solve both issues! He writes:

How to solve two minor annoyances on KDE desktop (Krunner & Baloo)

If you use KDE, you may have noticed that, now and then, Krunner or Baloo get crazy. Krunner starts eating resources and even overheating your CPU without explanation (I suffered an 84% CPU consumption once, and my computer turned off automatically because of the overheating); while Baloo sometimes seems to never stop crawling your home folder to build its database.

Fortunately both issues are quite easy to solve. Here the details:

Krunner takes a lot of CPU

The high CPU consumption of Krunner usually comes right after upgrading KDE. Although I cannot tell why because I am not a KDE developer, I was able to find that find out Baloo was causing the problem. It seems that, for some reason, the previous database of files becomes… er… incompatible (or something like that) after the upgrade and drives Krunner crazy. Krunner uses Baloo’s database to search for files as you type, so it makes sense any problem with Baloo might affect Krunner too.

The Fix:

The solution is to erase Baloo’s database and log out (and back in) to force Baloo to create a new database of your home folder, and a clean database usually solves the Krunner high CPU consumption issue.

Your Baloo database is usually on ~/.local/share/baloo/. You can erase every file without concerns. The database will be recreated in your next KDE session.

Baloo fails to index your home folder

This one was trickier for me because there was not any problem with Baloo (congratulations KDE developers!), yet no matter how many times I tried, my database still got stuck after indexing a fixed number of files.

$ balooctl status
Baloo File Indexer is running
Indexer state: Indexing file content
Indexed 10473 / 25555 files
Current size of index is 224.12 MiB

The problem was not a problem. All Baloo wanted to do is to index a corrupt file, but it couldn’t, so it kept trying.

Yet there is a small issue: Baloo does not have a time-out or a notification system in case a file fails to be read or indexed correctly, and there is no way to ask Baloo what file is trying to be indexed but fails. So I had to look for the problem manually playing with Baloo for a while:

The Fix:

First, I created a new folder in my computer.
Next, I moved all my home folder into that new folder I created.
Next, I opened “system settings” and asked Baloo not to search in that location by opening system settings > search > file search > and adding the folder I just created to the list of folders that would be skipped.
Next, I erased current Baloo’s database ~/.local/share/baloo/.
Next, I logged out and logged back in.

After logging back in, I opened a terminal (Konsole is enough, don’t complicate it) and I ran balooctl status to make sure the result gave me zero (no files to index, and nothing indexed).
Then, I began moving one after one each of the subfolders from the temporary folder back to /home, and monitored how they were being indexed by running balooctl status in the terminal window.
Eventually, I found where Baloo stopped indexing, and I began opening file after file in that subfolder until I found the corrupted files Baloo just couldn’t read. After removing those files, Baloo continued indexing the rest of my home folder, and still today…

$ balooctl status
Baloo File Indexer is running
Indexer state: Indexing file content
Indexed 25555 / 25555 files
Current size of index is 374.53 MiB

…my home folder is being indexed and updated without issues.