An updated system

opensuse 13.2 Plasma 5.5
My current desktop: opensuse 13.2 Plasma 5.5

I have been away from developments in the larger Linux world since quite some time. I’m not a distrohopper any more. I’ve kinda settled down on my (childhood) favorite openSUSE. I’d installed version 13.1 about two years ago on my brand new laptop. A few days ago I decided to update my KDE 4 to Plasma 5. To be honest, the KDE Frameworks 5 fad hadn’t really caught my attention until only a week ago when I stumbled across KDE’s latest release announcement. I was bowled over by the screenshots! The looks, the elegance, the finesse… everything was perfect. So I instantly took the decision.

Sadly, there’s no officially supported way to install Plasma 5 in openSUSE 13.1. I tried, but ended up screwing my installation. So I did a full distro upgrade zypper dup. 2GB of package updates and a few hours later, I was on a 100% working openSUSE 13.2. Nothing broke during the upgrade and all my settings were preserved. Plasma 5 turned out to be as good as it had seemed in the screenshots.

I’ve been living happily ever after. True story.

P.S.: A bit off-topic: After months of inactivity, my Raspberry Pi is back on its legs after I finally fixed its SD card issue (caution: please seriously consider safely switching off your Pi every time). Now I’m working on a top secret IoT project using my Pi. Shhh…

The mighty impressive Slax 7

Slax 7 Desktop
Slax 7 Desktop

I was so impressed with the latest iteration of my oldest favorite mini distro, especially its KDE implementation, that I immediately wanted to make Granular’s next release look like and as fast as Slax. Slax 7 comes loaded with all the bare essentials that actually make sense. Plus its ability to run from a USB drive without much efforts makes it a winner to me.

Everything just works, very straightforwardly. It has a lot of stuff packed in a small size of 220MB, which is a marvelous feat (made possible by use of compressed/packaged modules). But it may or may not detect all of your hardware correctly. For me, it didn’t recognize my WiFi module, which I got working by installing the necessary firmware files (look here for instructions). My laptop’s (Synaptics) touchpad performed fine, but its vertical edge scrolling didn’t. I corrected that using the command synclient VertEdgeScroll=1.

Enabling 3D effects in KDE 4

KDE 4 comes with it’s own set of cool 3D effects built-in, but disabled by default. In order to enjoy these effects, you need to enable them manually through the Desktop section of System Settings. But in some cases, enabling 3D can get painfully difficult, as was in my case.

3D can be enabled through one of two options – XRender and OpenGL. Effects using XRender are quite slow and inferior to what is offered by OpenGL.

Enabling 3D with XRender normally works well on almost all machines, but problems start when you try to enable 3D using OpenGL. The most common error that pops us when trying to do so is:

Failed to activate desktop effects using the given configuration options. Settings will be reverted to their previous values

Here are some simple steps to make sure you can enable OpenGL 3D effects without errors and problems.

To start with, make sure you have:

  • Proper video drivers installed (proprietary drivers in case of NVIDIA and ATI) and 3D acceleration enabled.
  • The xorg.conf file setup properly.

In most situations, these sections are usually missing from the file xorg.conf (found in /etc/X11):

Section "Files"
    ModulePath     "/usr/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/nvidia"
    ModulePath     "/usr/lib/xorg/modules/extensions"
    ModulePath     "/usr/lib/xorg/modules"
EndSection
Section "Screen"
    Option       "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True"
EndSection

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