Slackware 15 — 6

I continue to test updating to Slackware 15.0.

I do not like the interface changes introduced with GTK3. The GTK3 file picker dialog leaves much to be desired. Users have grown accustomed to dialog buttons being at the bottom and now (at least some) are at the top. Many GTK3 tools no longer have a menu bar. Eliminating tooltips is impossible through any simple GUI control or dconf setting. The tooltips can be controlled only by enabling the window compositor and setting tooltip opacity to zero in the user’s gtk.css file. I have no idea why file managers have an editable Location bar and the file picker does not.

I have to find a new display/login manager because the older and simpler version of GDM no longer compiles. Slackware 15.0 comes with only two login managers, the venerable XDM and SDDM. I am a curmudgeon and prefer to boot to console but a login manager is used on the living room media player to support autologin.

There is the old proverb of having one chance to make a first impression. On the first launch of SDDM I was molested by some kind of virtual keyboard. I figured out how to stop that nonsense, but I found no way to disable avatars. I prefer a simple text box login with no listing of accounts. The DisableAvatarsThreshold=0 option did not work for me. Trying different themes resolved that problem, but overall SDDM does not support a comprehensive set of configurations.

I notice the Salix folks have created a LightDM package because they too no longer can use the older GDM. Using LightDM makes some sense now that Slackware supports PAM. I will have to look into the Salix build script and package. As an alternative I should look into whether I can configure XDM in a tolerable manner.

On the office system I use two virtual desktops or workspaces. In Xfce I configure the workspace switcher to use the miniature view with two rows. I have disabled mouse wheel cycling. In 15.0 the wheel cycling no longer is disabled unless configured to use a new Buttons mode. The difference seems intentional because the configuration dialog box options change when toggling between Buttons and Miniature View. I worked around the problem by selecting Buttons mode, editing the workspace text strings with two leading and lagging spaces with the number of the workspace in between. This seems to be functioning, but the Buttons mode does not provide a miniature image of the desktop. This is an example of something that was not broken and did not need fixing. Once again a so-called enhancement introduces regressions.

Another Xfce quirk is opening text files from a file manager. Sometimes I have a text editor open but because of the rudimentary design of the GTK file picker dialog, I use the file manager to search and select a desired text file. After selecting a file in the file manager the text editor automatically regains focus. With the newer Xfce there is no focus change. I think I have this fixed in Settings->Window Manager Tweaks->Focus->Bring window on current workspace, but I do not understand why I never had this problem previously when the option never was enabled.

Another Xfce quirk that is unresolved from my spring 2021 testing is some panel icons are flat and not part of the overall icon theme.

Yet another Xfce quirk is the keyboard shortcut Alt+F1 no longer opens the panel menu. Digging deeper, the shortcut launches the script wrapper /usr/bin/xfce4-popup-applicationsmenu. I found only a few discussions online and no solutions. I suspect this is a casualty of the GTK3 migration. Reassigning the shortcut to the Whisker menu seems to function fine but I prefer the simpler menu. There is an almost identical /usr/bin/xfce4-popup-whiskermenu script wrapper, which means the bug likely is in /usr/bin/xfce4-panel. Creating a new Xfce profile did not resolve the problem.

Yet another Xfce quirk is toggling between production and test systems. I use the detailed list view in file managers. After using the testing partition and returning to the normal production partition, which understandably is a change in the Xfce environment, Thunar displays the details in the file pane at a magnified zoom size. The keyboard shortcut restores the size but the effect is annoying. The difference is in the older Xfce my preferred zoom option is THUNAR_ZOOM_LEVEL_SMALLER while in the newer Xfce the option is THUNAR_ZOOM_LEVEL_38_PERCENT. The older Xfce does not understand the newer configuration.

A related quirk is the Timer panel plugin disappears when toggling from the new version of Xfce to the older version. When returning to the older Xfce the applet disappears from the panel. I have to manually add the applet.

One last Xfce quirk is sometimes after launching the desktop there is a popup notification about sticky keys. The option is not enabled. I do not know what is triggering that notification. The popup does not always appear.

I accept that changes with toggling between the two environments is not the upstream developers’ fault, but irritating nonetheless.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Slackware

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