A week or so ago, I was upgrading my Slackware systems to Current and noticed an unwanted “feature” had been added to my Xfce 4.10 Thunar file manager.
Thunar now shows all unmounted partitions on my systems by default. Years ago, I had this issue in Debian and had to create custom 10ignore-disks.fdi configuration files in /usr/share/hal/preprobe/95userpolicy to eliminate the display of unwanted volumes in Gnome/Nautilus. Unfortunately, that’s not a viable solution in my current situation. My Slack is not utilizing HAL anymore in its current version. I was at a loss on how to resolve this issue. With numerous partitions across three drives on my main system, it really made for a cluttered up Thunar left pane. See Fig 1 below:
Fig 1: Thunar showing unmounted volumes in left pane
I’m sure there is a resolution for this annoyance, but I haven’t found it as of yet. However, I did find a fabulous “work-around”, as mentioned in my previous article here about my adventures upgrading from Slack 13.37 to Current. I found a neat little file manager called X File Manager or Xfe. The more I use this little app, the more I really like it. See a shot in Fig 2 below:
Fig 2: Xfe showing standard Linux file system in left pane
As you can see in the above screenie of Xfe, I have just my standard Linux file system tree in the left pane. That’s how I want it. That’s how Thunar used to be before the recent upgrades to Xfce 4.10. Coincidentally, I had this same issue in Arch Linux when they first introduced Xfce 4.10 to their repos. I had other issues there also, namely failed auto-mounting, which I also experienced in Slack with this new upgrade. X File Manager solves it all.
This is a feature-rich and lightweight file manager. My only complaint is that it doesn’t use my already installed Xfce4 icon themes. That’s no big deal, though. The interface is fully customizable in regards to colors, fonts, highlighting, etc. I’m using the standard issue Tango theme that came with it. I can easily create (or modify an Xfce4 theme) a custom icon theme for it should I really want to some time in the future, but for now I’m just happy to be rid of the unmounted volumes and have my auto-mount back. It’s actually one-click mounting in Xfe. Still, faster than CLI mounting/dismounting… depending on your typing speed. ;)
So, if you’re tired of Nautilus, Dolphin, Konqueror (my old fav) or Thunar, give X File Manager a shot. You might find that it grows on you.
From the above Xfe Homepage:
What is it ?
X File Explorer (Xfe) is an MS-Explorer or Commander like file manager for X. It is based on the popular, but discontinued, X Win Commander, originally developed by Maxim Baranov.
Xfe is developed since 2002 by Roland Baudin, a French Linux enthusiast.
Xfe aims to be the file manager of choice for all light thinking Unix addicts!
A recent upgrade in Arch Linux caused my Thunar file manager to lose its auto-mounting capabilities.
Now granted, auto-mounting of removable media (floppy, ZIP, CD/DVD, USB, etc.) on my system is purely a convenience. It’s not a necessity. I have no fear of the command line, so mounting manually can always be achieved. It’s the principle of the thing, dammit. What used to work should continue to work. Unfortunately, as we all know, thanks to updates of one sort or another (in any operating system), this doesn’t always hold true.
After doing some reading and research into the causes of Thunar’s apparent crippling, I became aggravated with Arch because recent updates have been plaguing me with breakage. Now, let’s be honest here… it’s not really Arch’s fault. Arch is a rolling-release distribution. Things change rapidly. The developers keep the base system closer to the bleeding edge that most periodic-release distributions. Anyone who uses Arch knows these things.
I run Slackware as my primary operating system on all my machines (except for an old Dell Latitude 610 running Bodhi Linux). Arch is my secondary (backup) operating system on my main system. I used to use Debian for this purpose, but as much as I love Debian, it is just too sluggish about getting current versions of apps in its repos. Now don’t all you Debian folks start throwing rubber chickens at me. I understand that Debian’s legendary stability is due to the fact that its stable repos contain only tried and truly long-term tested versions of applications. That is how it should be with Debian (I run Sid as a tester on my system, by the way).
So, back the Arch situation…
In the process of trying to find out what I needed to do to fix the auto-mounting issue, I ran across some information here and there about systemd. What is systemd, you might ask.
systemd is a system and service manager for Linux, compatible with SysV and LSB init scripts. systemd provides aggressive parallelization capabilities, uses socket and D-Bus activation for starting services, offers on-demand starting of daemons, keeps track of processes using Linux control groups, supports snapshotting and restoring of the system state, maintains mount and automount points and implements an elaborate transactional dependency-based service control logic. It can work as a drop-in replacement for sysvinit.
I noticed that Arch’s core repo shifted udev from its stand-alone status to a sub-app of the systemd-tools application.
2012-06-01 – Dave Reisner
systemd and udev have been merged upstream. We will still ship them in separate packages. However, in order to keep things simple, udev will now be part of a package called systemd-tools. This package contains several other standalone tools which can be used without systemd. The astute reader will note that this also means the entirety of systemd is available in the core repository.
Please replace udev with systemd-tools when prompted. If you upgrade the linux package at the same time, you may see an error during initramfs creation that the udev hook is not found. After the upgrade completes, please rerun ‘mkinitcpio -p linux’ to ensure that a bootable image is created for the newly installed kernel.
Seeing this made me wonder if Arch was going to transition to systemd over initscripts sometime soon. To be honest, as some of the folks at Scot’s Newsletter Forums/Bruno’s All Things Linux can attest to, I actually became a bit peeved… pissed off, you might even say. ;) All’s well, though. Ignorance is a great stimulant for fear and loathing. Knowledge paves the way for understanding and acceptance.
A little research was in order, so I spent the next few days after this initial rant about systemd learning what I could about it. Eventually, I decided to convert my Arch to systemd 100%, eschewing initscripts entirely. How did that go? Relatively well, actually. Read more about how I did it and how things turned out HERE, if you’re interested. I even managed to solve my auto-mount issues along the way.
systemd is available in many distributions already. I do believe that it has a good chance of replacing the standard initscripts method of services in GNU/Linux in the near future. If you’re a tinkerer, go give it a try on some test partition on one of your systems. I wouldn’t recommend converting 100% to systemd on your main operating system, though; not unless you really know what you’re doing. It wouldn’t hurt to learn the fundamentals of systemd. I believe it’ll be around for a while.
*Sorry for the raw links. I’m being lazy today. :(
So, you’re not too thrilled with Gnome 3, Unity, or KDE 4. Well, here’s another option…
MATE is a Gnome 2 fork started by Arch Linux Forum member Perberos. I like the description: MATE Desktop Environment, a non-intuitive and unattractive desktop… Heh! Can’t get much more honest than that.
Christopher Tozzi at varguy.com wrote a nice article about MATE. Here’s a snippet or two:
Right or wrong, plenty of Linux users — such as this guy — have been less than happy with the interface changes wrought by the advent of Unity and GNOME 3. Lucky for these people, there’s hope in the form of MATE, a fork of GNOME 2…
To be perfectly upfront with my readers here, I have never tried Gnome 3 or Unity on any of my systems. I do have some experience with KDE 4, as many of you know; none of it was pleasant. My main desktop environment is Xfce. I’ve been using Xfce primarily in my main (Slackware) and secondary (Arch) installations for quite some time now; ever since KDE 4 first came on the scene, actually. I was a big KDE fan up till then. Oh well… the world moves on.
GNOME 2 may not have been ideal for touchscreens or tablets, and it wasn’t the most visually dazzling interface out there. But it got the job done without giving me a headache or turning every mouse click into a surprise by eliciting totally unpredictable behavior.
A surprise with every mouse click. Hmm… that sounds a lot like my KDE 4 experience. ;)
Seriously, folks… as I always say, whatever works best for you is what’s best for you. If you would like to go back to the older, more stable, less visually orgasmic Gnome 2 days, give Mate a shot.
For a couple weeks now, I’ve been having issues with Thunderbird 5 in my Arch Linux installation.
I have a few much-used extensions installed in my Thunderbird, and 5.x broke four of them when it updated in Arch from 3.1.11. I tried a few work-arounds. I tried to live without the extensions. This morning I decided that I just wasn’t going to deal with this any longer. I reverted. How’d I do that, you might be asking? Well, with Arch (in most instances), it’s pretty simple.
First item of importance is that I had a backup of my Thunderbird 3.1.11 .thunderbird directory backed up on separate media (DVD). Second item is that I had not run pacman -Scc in a while. This command clears the cache of installed items in Arch. So, with those items being satisfied, I was able to revert using the magical pacman -U command.
#pacman -U thunderbird-3.1.11*
The asterisk denotes auto-completion at the command line. BASH will automatically add the remaining characters to the command.
And with that simple series of commands, my world is back to being wonderful once again. Oh, and to make sure that I don’t accidentally upgrade T-bird on my next pacman update session, I’ve added it to the ignore list in my pacman.conf file.
# Pacman won’t upgrade packages listed in IgnorePkg and members of IgnoreGroup
IgnorePkg = thunderbird
There you have it. The wonderful simplicity of Arch package management.
Have fun… and learn something while you’re at it. :)
…you can’t have just one. With that thought in mind, here’s a freshly minted GNU/Linux distribution for you diehard experimenters to check out.
LDR is another wonderful choice (ain’t GNU/Linux great!?) in your further Linux adventures. It was recently transformed from idea to actual distribution by friend Thomas Medhurst. It’s based on Arch Linux and uses the Gnome Desktop Environment.
Keep in mind, this one is fresh off the assembly line. It might need some polishing and tweaking here and there. Get in on the ground floor on another new GNU/Linux, folks. Thomas is also very interested in hearing any and all feedback and suggestions. You can contact him at the LDR webpage or his own personal webpage.
Give it a go… might be fun!