Slackware 15 — 7

I continue to test updating to Slackware 15.0.

I installed the MATE 1.26 packages. I use MATE on the living room media player mostly because when I built the system MATE had more agreeable desktop locking features than Xfce. On the office system I use the Caja file manager, Atril PDF viewer, Eye of MATE image viewer, and the Engrampa file archiver, but otherwise seldom use the entire MATE desktop.

I use Xfce almost exclusively. In both Xfce and MATE I use the TraditionalOK theme. The theme is a MATE package but functions fine in Xfce. In MATE I use the Compact panel menu. Unlike the MATE 1.16 version I am using in Slackware 14.2, in 15.0 with 1.26 there are no separators in the panel menu. Just one long menu. The menu is awkward to use without the visual aids. The separators display fine in Xfce. The MATE Classic menu has separators but I do not like that menu. Some testing revealed this might be a theme issue because the separators appear with other themes.

There is a new MATE menu item called Collection that provides me no useful purpose. Like the Places menu item, this new submenu seems hard-coded into the menu.

For a file manager mostly I use Caja. A feature in Caja I much like are expandable directories in the file pane — tree view. Thunar lacks that support. Thunar has another quirk in that the old-style GTK2 autocomplete feature is retained in the Location bar. I dislike autocomplete features in any software. Do not try to guess what I want to do.

A new quirk with both Xfce and MATE is launching desktop software as root through pkexec results in thicker menu fonts. The culprit seems to be not sourcing the FREETYPE_PROPERTIES environment variable. I confirmed this by launching a root terminal window through pkexec and manually launching the geany text editor. The menu fonts were blocky with no hinting. When I manually set the FREETYPE_PROPERTIES environment variable then the text editor menu fonts looked sharp. I cannot replicate the problem in 14.2, but in 14.2 there was no need for the environment variable.

The 15.0 environment with PAM creates a login-keyring file for each user, which tends to be annoying when returning to the 14.2 production system because some tools then ask for a user password. The trick is to delete the file, but again booting into 15.0 results in error messages.

I struggled for some hours trying to uncover the cause of weird boot messages from rpc and sometimes watching a reboot or shutdown hang. The root cause was a NetworkManager (NM) dispatcher script I wrote. The script ensures network shares are unmounted and mounted when invoking and restoring suspend and also toggles the wireless radio with Ethernet changes. The dispatcher script is helpful because NFS is notoriously unfriendly and miserable when the NFS server is lost. The script also is for my convenience so I do not have to be annoyed by a blinking laptop wireless LED. The best I can figure is in the new environment NM and the dispatcher script cause some kind of race condition. In the end I removed the script and the problems disappeared but I lost my enhancements. The dispatcher script functioned for years until installing a newer NM in 15.0. I will have to write a new script.

On all systems I see different results displaying the kernel penguin boot logos. Some of my test systems will not show the penguins at all. Some will show them only when removing the quiet boot parameter.

This is the never-ending saga of software development. Something always breaks.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Slackware

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