Xubuntu Install Tweaks: Fine Tuning

After getting everything installed, there remains some fine tuning. These are some of the jots & tittles & glitches from my installation, in no particular order, which mostly apply to Xubuntu 8.10, but may also have something you need to know.

Mplayer grumps about not being able to resolve IPV6 addresses. Add prefer-ipv4 = yes to /etc/mplayer/mplayer.config and it’ll be perfectly happy with plain old IPV4. Which is, of course, what essentially everybody uses. It’s not clear to me why Mplayer is the only program to fail this way, but that’s the story and it’s been that way for a long time.

With compositing turned off, X doesn’t draw some OpenOffice menu & dialog items when it’s running on the right-hand portrait monitor. Turning the compositor on, however, reveals what an utter dud compositing is on a dual-core 2.8 GHz 1 GB box with an nVidia-flavored 9400 dual-head board. So turn compositing on, dial main windows back to opaque, allow shadows & transparency foo-foos only on small windows, and it’s pretty much bearable.

But then the every pop-up window or dialog box displays weird trash from deep in the display buffer: icons, chunks of other apps, pure raw pinball panic, it all flashes before my eyes.

Something in the X infrastructure interacts badly with the Mouse Gestures Redox Firefox add-on, but only on the left landscape monitor. Attempting a right-click-swipe-left to return to the previous page plunks a copy of the display that’s as wide as the portrait monitor on the left side of the landscape monitor, overlaying the live display beneath it. Minimize, restore, and the overlay is now dead black. The only way to get rid of it is to restart Firefox.

Just exactly who do I file that bug with? The gestures extension? Firefox? Xubuntu? FXCE? X.org? Replacing it with FireGestures seems to work OK.

The local CUPS server won’t display printers from the file server downstairs. Fix that by browsing to http://localhost:631, clicking the Administration tab, checking the Show printers shared by other systems box, and click Change Settings. Go brew up some tea or check your news feed; when you get back, all the network printers should appear when you click the Printers tab.

Microsoft seems to have changed the definition of their keyboards such that the volume keys on a “Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000 V1.0” don’t quite match the stock X layouts for MS multimedia keyboards, although msprousb seems close. More study is indicated. It’s not obvious how to link the keystrokes to the stock mixer, either.

You can have only one mixer in the panel, aimed at one audio device, so adjusting a USB phone / headset will require some fiddling. A drop-down menu on the mixer main window permits setting other devices, but not from the panel.

You can’t have menu / status panels on both monitors; you can only put either one on either monitor. Similarly, desktop icons must appear on both monitors; I think that’s ugly. So the only way to start programs on the “other” monitor is to either have duplicated icons or configure the Desktop settings to show the app menu on right-clicks, then scroll through it every time.

Ctrl-Fnkey swaps workspaces; it’s even easier than point-and-clicking. Alas, you must have the same number of desktops on both screens and corresponding workspaces share the same name. All workspaces on a given monitor must have the same backdrop, so you can’t tell which one you’re on if there’s no program active: mouse-wheel scrolling gives you no hint which workspace you’re on.

Alt-Tab clicks between active programs on the current monitor and sorts the programs in MRU order. Once you get used to it, you’ll love it.

All in all, it does what I need.