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.

It’s Still PCLinuxOS – But Xfce!

My exploration of KDE is over on PCLinuxOS. To be fair, the KDE-miniME installation disk is a minimal KDE intended for “advanced users,” but I explored for a week and found a few things far too resource hungry by the time I had it configured the way I like. It sure was visually pleasing and easy (easy but not simple – for a KDE newbie like me anyway) to use, but it did become slower with the added stuff I liked. I’m all pure Xfce now on PCLinuxOS, and it increased my speed as well as the simplicity I became accustomed to in Xubuntu.

Green is my favorite color, so I chose a simple green digital wallpaper. The icon set is Faenza (downloaded from PCLOS’s repositories along with the task-xfce4 and task-xfce4-plugins metapackages). Enable composting, make the panel invisible to show only the icons, add my favorite li’l Xfce goodies. It looks as good as Docky in my opinion, it it’s super-simple for a simple sidekick.

Now About Linux…

A conversation in one of the Linux forums I read was started by an Ubuntu user who expressed frustration at the problems he has had getting Ubuntu to work on his computer. Someone suggested that he buy a computer with Ubuntu pre-installed, that way all those bugs are worked out. Yeah, great solution – for about 6 months. Maybe three to five years if he gets one of their long-term-support versions and doesn’t mind doing without the newest versions of software.

Suddenly this rolling-release idea is a little less terrifying for me.I can’t blame anyone for being skittish about rolling release Linux, especially the all-or-nothing approach used by PCLinuxOS. But long-time users swear by it, and this distro enjoys fierce user loyalty that gives further credibility to its reliability. They have a testing team that does very thorough work, and when they do find a problem, they address it in the repositories very quickly. Stuff breaking after updating is the single greatest fear that I used to have about rolling release distros, but I’m feeling brave and school hasn’t started yet, so if I break anything there’s time to fix it in time for school.

 

 

My First Rolling Linux

I’ve always been scared of rolling-release Linux distributions. Perhaps because I’ve seen updates break things in other “distros” (geek shorthand for “distributions”). But re-installing the operating system every 6 months is out of the question, and even Ubuntu’s “long term support” versions require re-installation at intervals. I like the idea of a install-and-forget operating system that is maintained in a few simple mouse clicks. Here’s the one I’m testing today, just for grins while I have a half a day of free time.

The Mini KDE desktop with analog clock and weather widget
The Mini KDE desktop with analog clock and weather widget

When I first installed PCLinuxOS I decided ahead of time that KDE would be far too resource-hungry for this modest, aging hardware. I used the “mini” CD to install a minimal KDE version of PCLinuxOS, and figured I’d just tie Xfce on and go with what was not only familiar but proven to run superbly on my computer.

But before I did so, I thought I’d explore this KDE desktop a little just for grins. It wasn’t slow! Maybe adding all the goodies and extras would slow it down, but this “mini” version is quite speedy. KMail is broken (not even installed – I added it, tried it, tried to make it do something, then deleted it after reading a “don’t bother with KMail” post in their forums), but Konquorer is plenty fast, and doubles as a file manager! Not that Dolphin, the default file manager in KDE, is anything to sneeze at. Seems as simple as Thunar and just as fast.

Installation of PCLinuxOS mini is a snap. Once installed, it needs to be updated straight away before adding any new software. Open Synaptic Package Manager, Refresh, Mark All Upgrades, and Apply. That’s basically all the user does to maintain the operating system, presumably for years! It’s an all-or-nothing approach which is kinda scary to a noob like me who fears the “broken after update” scenario more than even having to reinstall. But I’ll explore this KDE desktop a little further and who knows – if it keeps behaving the way it has thus far in PCLinuxOS, maybe I’ll just keep it! PCLOS has some sweet configuration tools that make it simple enough for a sidekick.

My hopes are:

  • That KDE won’t become a resource hog before I’ve had a chance to plumb its depths and learn a little,
  • that this all-or-nothing update maintenance approach doesn’t prove to be as dangerous as I fear, and
  • that even if KDE disappoints me, Xfce will work as reliably on PCLOS as it always did in Xubuntu.

I don’t know what’s going on the “Ubuntu community” lately, but reading their forums one gets the idea that the community is feeling abandoned by the company behind the most popular Linux distro. There’s never been any such corporate shenanigans in the PCLOS community. Us ordinary folks can find the Supreme Developer hanging out in the forums and mailing lists, and the community is vibrant, friendly, and enthusiastic. Most are “ordinary end users” like me, several help develop this sweet distro (also frequently found in the forums), and all are equally enthusiastic about the distro and it’s users.