Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Raspberry Pi 3B+ Desktop for an RV


Years ago on one of his visits home from Japan, my son gave me his old Raspberry Pi, because he had just upgraded to the new Pi B+.  It didn't take much messing around with it before I saw some potential and ended up with a Pi B+ as well.  As luck would have it, the Pi 2 was released about a week later, and with the faster processor and double the RAM, I acquired one.  

Then the Raspgerry Pi 3 came out with a faster processor and 4 USB ports, and even more useful - built in Wifi and Bluetooth.  Suddenly I had the basis for something I had wanted.  A low power draw desktop computer for one of the yachts I was living aboard for part of the year.

A wander around the computer stores found me a 15 inch LED TV that used a 12 Volt power supply and had HDMI input and a USB port.  I had thought the USB port could be used to power the Pi, but while it may have been sufficient for the B+, the Pi 2 needs close to 2.5 Amps and the early TV USB port outputs were seldom that high.

The neat thing though, was that this TV used a 2 Amp 12 volt power adapter with a standard D.C. plug end.  It worked fine instead with a car cigarette lighter adapter.  A Pi of course, will run nicely using a cigarette lighter USB charger adapter.

So the electrical requirements were sorted, because the 26 foot Cavalier keel boat I was living on was already set up with 12V cigarette outlets in various places, and solar charging.

A few things happened with my health - mainly three apparent Golden Staph infections in my brain, and a mess of it in my heart,  The brain was stabilised using very strong antibiotics, but the heart was bad and required a replacement Aortic Valve.  That took me off the yacht and screwed up my life for the next 6 years.  After years of suffering from a 1999 spinal injury that the hospital had ignored, then more from the dozen or more fractures in the hit and run incident in 2004, I could do without more health dramas.

My life had been pretty well 'stolen' from me by medical incompetence for years, and now this!  As it turned out, things would get worse.

In 2017, the yacht "Shepherd Moons" was wrecked in cyclone Debbie, and while I was trying to salvage some stuff in the wreck lying in the mangroves, I got infected again.  I ended up with a Golden Staph infection in my heart that was so serious they were doubtful if it could be operated on.  On top of that I had three bleeds into various lobes of the brain.  One in the occipital lobe has affected my eyesight, one might have made me a little dumber, but the other was into the cerebellum and was definitely life threatening of its own accord, because there was a real likelihood that I would return from surgery in a permanent vegetative state.

The surgical team pointed out that this time the Golden Staph infection was not only in the valves of my heart, but had apparently eaten into the 'mitral curtain', and area separating two of the chambers in my heart.  They would not know for sure, but they suspected repair might not be practical.  If it was reparable, they planned to remove a section of my heart containing the root of the Aorta, and the Aortic Valve, and replace the whole piece with a section from a pig's heart.

They also insisted my son, who was now working in Brisbane, fly to Townsville to say 'goodbye'  just in case.  

Despite saying goodbye to the people closest to me, I ended up surviving again.  But my days of living aboard yachts are probably over.  I came through with permanent effects of stroke, and some extended peripheral nerve damage as well as a couple of eyesight problems.  But I can still drive, which is where we get back to this post.


I still have my Toyota HiAce van, and although it is getting a bit long in the tooth, I have spent a bt on it to keep it mechanically sound.  And as much as a laptop might be more practical, I have all the bits here to make a small mobile desktop computer.  So when the new Raspberry Pi 3B+ came out I bought one, because I had given my Pi 3 to my son.

I had a couple of Pi 2 around in cases, and since the cases haven't changed, I fitted one to the Pi 3B+, along with spare heat sinks left from when I overclocked the Pi 3.  I also still had a bluetooth keyboard with a track pad.

All the parts were there, so I hooked it all together,  Immediately I found that the system runs about the same as the overclocked Pi 3.  But it is definitely sucking more power than my 2.4 Amp adapter likes.  That means I will have to look for a 12V 2750ma or 3000ma adapter.

But it works.  Video is ok on Chromium, and great on Kweb with OMXplayer.  I worked on some stuff for Kweb with Gunther Kriedl a couple of years ago, so I like Kweb.

I also found that no matter what I did, VLC and SMplayer will not work properly because unlike OMXplayer, they do not have the appropriate codecs available and do not work with the Pi hardware acceleration.

However Kodi still does, so I can play video at 1080p using OMXplayer or Kodi, and I can watch 1080p or 720p YouTube videos.


The last big difference is that the Pi 3B+ can access my 5GHz WiFi with its built in wireless and bluetooth module, and streaming is now seamless.

The Pi case attaches to the back of the TV using velcro, and I use a very short flat HDMI cable for neatness - not the one shown above.  Sound is though the HDMI cable,but I also have a little gadget that plugs into the audio socket on the Pi and transmits audio to the car radio if I want to play music with decent sound.

The van has a built in 4G WiFi hotspot access, so I can also have Internet and comms on the move, as well as TV if I am in a reception area.

I'm happy as a pig in stuff.

Friday, 6 April 2018

My Linux KDE Video Wallpaper problem SOLVED

I have been using Shantz xwinwrap for years now to have video wallpaper on my Linux systems.  These days with so many 4k UHD video demos for various 4K TV brands available on YouTube, it is possible to have some spectacular video clips, instead of say, a slideshow as a desktop background.

I used VLC wallpaper mode for a while, but when I found xwinwrap, I was in my elephant.  Completely configurable by creating a bash script, and able to be used with, as far as I can see from trials, all common desktop managers.  I have had it running on Mint Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE etc, and even on Elementary OS and others.

But KDE and more recently Plasma 5 are my preference.  Plasma 5 is still horribly messed up, (even at April 2018) but Mint 17.3 KDE edition is wonderful.  Light weight, fast and incredibly customisable.  Just the candidate for a video background, especially since running video wallpaper on it still uses minimal overheads.

As a matter of interest, I have used this on Plasma 5 with various distros including Mint and Kubuntu.

A small oops here.  If you run a different video on each of several Virtual Desktops it uses minimal overhead.  If you do the same thing on several different activities it will eat CPU cores.

However, it wasn't easy to get the thing set up the way I like it.

What I wanted was an easy way to group videos, so I could choose Scenery (silent), Relaxation (with background music), Personal videos from my own camera, Music videos (onviously with sound) and whatever else I felt like.

First things first, I set up a VideoWallpaper folder.  Then I created subfolders for each of my categories.  Of course, I didn't want to just cycle through the videos in a set order - I wanted to play the videos in a folder in random order.  And I wanted the whole thing to repeat, especially if there were only a few shortish videos in a folder.

Sounds easy?  It wasn't.  Shantz provides a starting script, but it didn't do what I wanted.  Lots of googling had me trying all sorts of 'while do;' and 'for' scripts to try to get the random and repeat but working - but no matter what I did, the videos would play until each one gad run once, and them perhaps repeat the last one over and over, or more often simply exit the videos.

There was one more thing.  I could make a video play on ONE Activity or ONE Virtual Desktop - but not all Activities or desktops.  That one I solved accidentally, and I'm still not completely certain I have it right.  For now though, it plays on all Activities, but still lets me have individual Virtual Desktops within those Activities with ordinary images as wallpaper. And within the Activites. I have the music videos playing in an 'eliptical porthole' though the desktop image.

About the one thing that is still unsolved is if I have clickable icons on the desktop, something I rarely do.  But if I want to set a plain colour as a background and allow a little translucency to the video wallpaper, clicking in the icons below works fine.

Ok, first, it is necessary to download and install Shantz xwinwrap.  It comes in 32 or 64 bit.  I use the .deb package, but it is available in .rpm and others as well as source.  Downloads and some instructions are here:
https://shantanugoel.com/2008/09/03/shantz-xwinwrap/

Next, the script.  The code below is what works for me - except the bit about sticking to multiple Activities or desktops (that has to be done differently in KDE).

The code below is a file called "4kscenery-silent".  It is in a folder called Video-Shelf which is in my VideoWallpaper folder.  I made the 'shelf' folder to put all the script files in one place - sort of gives me an index on the panel.

Clicking the Video-shelf folder on the panel shows the various scripts just lie a menu, and clicking '4kscenery-silent' gives me a full screen rectangle video background chosen at random from the videos in the store folder, which is where I add and remove various scenery videos/

The path to the store folder is /VideoWallpaper/UHD-SCENERY/4k-Scenic/store
Since I am starting in the VideoWallpaper folder, the path to the files is:
../UHD-SCENERY/4k-Scenic/store/*


(contents of 4kscenery-silent below)

!#/bin/bash
if ps -e | grep xwinwrap
 then
  killall xwinwrap
  sleep 1
  exit
 fi

# RECTANGLE-Shuffle
 # RECTANGLE
 xwinwrap -ni -o 1.0 -fs -s -st -sp -b -nf -g 1680x1050-0+0 -- mplayer -loop 0 -shuffle -wid WID -nosound -aspect 16:10 ./store/* ../UHD-SCENERY/4k-Scenic/store/*


Now this script after a lot of trial and many errors, gives me a randomly repeating selection of videos, but I need to be able to turn it off.  So Another script needs to me written and made executable, then dragged to the panel and the icon changed to something suitable (in my case a red square with a white X.

I called it Kill-xwinwrap and it contains the following code:

!#/bin/bash
#To enable repeat mode in mplayer by default,
#edit /home/Your_User_Name/.mpalyer/config and add loop=0
#at the end of the file.
#To do that, press Alt+F2 and then type in   gedit .mplayer/config

if ps -e | grep xwinwrap
 then
  killall xwinwrap
  sleep 1
  exit
 fi

Clicking the Icon on the panel kills the video.  There IS a reason for the
  killall xwinwrap   in the main code LEAVE IT IN THERE !!

You might have noticed
-g 1680x1050-0+0  and
-aspect 16:10

The -g flag tells xwinwrap what screen resolution I have set in my Display settings.  -aspect tells mplayer what aspect ratio to play the movie at.  I discovered that adding the -aspect setting close to the resolution aspect (16:10 is pretty close to 1680x1050 and 19:11 is close enough to 1920x1080) makes things go fullscreen nicely.  Something else that I could not find an answer for on Google.

Ok, so the video is playing with no sound.  If I add a new folder in the VideoWallpaper folder called 'Music'  and put some music videos in there, I can play them with sound while I work.  I can make them play though an oval porthole in the desktop if I want to as well.

I have the music videos sorted in separate folders for moods or artists, so my I drag my 'MusicVideos' folder to the panel.  It has the scripts for each artist etc.  and once again clicking on the folder just shows a list of the  scripts in that folder - again, sort of like a menu.
Here's the script for one artist:

!#/bin/bash 
if ps -e | grep xwinwrap
 then
  killall xwinwrap
  sleep 1
  exit
 fi

# Circle-Shuffle
 xwinwrap -ni -o 1.0 -fs -sh circle -s -st -sp -b -nf -g 1680x1050-0+0 -- mplayer -loop 0 -shuffle -wid WID -aspect 16:10 ./store/RoyOrbison/*

So this script is in a folder called 'MusicVideos', which contains a folder called 'store', which contains folder for various artists. And in among those folders there is a folder called RoyOrbison with his videos.

This script also has an argument 
-sh circle
But the geometry and aspect settings make it an oval.  So the video looks like it is playing through a hole in the normal desktop image.

If you compare the script with the first one you will see that the argument 
-nosound 
is missing.  That allows it to play the songs in the videos.

I'll append screen shots below to illustrate some of this stuff.  It took a while to get it all working smoothly and Googling showed me that many other people have tried and failed to get the wrinkles smoothed.

I've still got to explain how to stick it to multiple Activities and Desktops.  And although I can make it accept a different video on each Activity or Virtual Desktop - I don't recommend it, as it really hogs resources and ruins a slick little idea.

Ok, because this is such a long post and I have been double checking things as I go, including reinstalling Plasma 5 (this time Mint 18.3 KDE), I am writing it over several weeks.  Sorry for the mess..

To make the video stick to ALL Activities, or ALL Virtual Desktops - or to both Activities AND Desktops, I created a new Window Rule.  In Mint 17.3 KDE go to System Settings > Window Behaviour >Window Rules
and click the New button.
Now, I do no know why this works, but I'll explain what happened.  At first I thought that since the script runs mplayer, I should make a rule for that.  I soon found out that applying the rule means every time I want to use SMplayer to watch a movie, or Kmplayer for that matter, it plays on every desktop and / or activity.  So I killed that off.

I made a new rule called RossVidWall.  Now the idea was to put in the parameters, and then work out what to call it based on the script (which is NOT actually called RossVidWall.  I entered the settings I wanted, clicked Apply, and then ran the script I created for one artist.  Let's just say the script was called Scenery.

I clicked the executable script called Scenery, and the video began playing as wallpaper on all activities and desktops.

In Window Rules this is what I changed:

On the Window matching tab I changed:
Window class (application) = Exact Match

On the Size & Position tab I changed:
[v] Desktop = Force > All Desktops
[v] Activity = Force > All Activities

Everything else I left as Default!


To see if I could do individual desktops and activities with video -
I went back into Window Rules, clicked on RossVidWall, clicked the Modify button  and unchecked the box for Desktops, hit Apply, and each Virtual Desktop had individual images as wallpaper, except one, which had a video.

I adjusted the settings in the window rules to put the video on only ONE Activity and hit Apply.  Now all Activities had separate images as wallpaper - except one that was playing a video, and the same applied to the Virtual Desktops.

Last, as I mentioned earlier I reinstalled Mint 18.3 KDE and tested the same thing, but this time I simply called the new script xwinwrap.  I have no idea why the or how the window rules thing works, when I don;t link it to a program or a script, so I cannot guarantee that bit will work for you.  But even giving the rulle a different name in Plasma 5, it worked.  It may be because I already had the video background running on one Activity  when I did it, or it may be some other reason.

I apologise for the long winded explanation, and I WILL add some pictures soon.
But I hope reading this will help someone avoid all the hassles making video wallpaper work on Linux, and especially on KDE 4 and Plasma 5.

For now, it works great and I at least, am happy with it.

And a reminder, with the exception of the stuff relating to KDE Virtual Desktops and Activities - it works for me on Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE, Elementary and Zorin.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Stop Autoplay of video on Chrome and Vivaldi browsers

There are many things I like about the Vivaldi browser, but being based on Chrome means it can also be a pain in the rs.  One of the most annoying problems with both Chrome and Vivaldi is that videos on web pages, particularly news sites and tech sites tend to autoplay.

That in itself is not too bad, until one has several tabs open, each with a video.  There are per video settings to switch OFF autoplay on a per page basis, but having to do  it over and over is a bloody nuisance.

Fortunately the flags page in both Chrome and Vivaldi allows you to set 'click to play' for media.

Open Chrome or Vivald

Type “chrome://flags” in the Address bar and hit Enter

In the search box at the top, type in “autoplay"

Look for “Autoplay policy” and from the drop down menu, select “Document user activation is required”

Close Vivaldi or Chrome and open it again

Check chrome://flags and see if the setting has changed
If you have the browser set to reopen the last used tabs, just leave the flags page open and you will see on reopening it if the setting has stayed.

That's abo tit.




Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Linux Distros - The search continues

I suppose I shouldn't be bothered investigating various Linux distros, but the reality is that my favourite desktop is probably no longer being developed and Plasma 5 is ugly, buggy and slow on my Celeron N3150 powered Brix.


I've stuck to distributions that use the .deb package system, not because I see it as 'better', but because I got comfortable with it around 20 years go and just stayed with it most of the time.  Considering my first foray into Linuxland was with a 3.5" floppy version of Red Hat, that sometimes surprises me.    As does my move from distributions like Mandrake, Suse and other KDE distros, to distros based on Debian.  Overall though, I find the Debian/Ubuntu base is comfortable to work with.


Since I have been pushed out of work by my injuries, the computing that used to be my business for over 30 years, has become a bit of a hobby.  People used to laugh at me because I had so much of the latest expensive computer equipment, but other than the odd flight simulator, hardly a game to be seen.

Since the hit and run in 2004 I always imagined rebuilding some sort of business, so I still spent a considerable amount of money keeping my computer equipment up to date with the aim of getting myself independent of Disability support.

Now that I am at retirement age, and the Queensland health system has made it quite clear that I am not even allowed to walk or cycle 30 minutes a day for exercise - I have concluded that a return to business is not going to happen.

So over the last couple of years it is the 'fun' things about Linux I am enjoying more.


Which is where my search for a replacement for Mint KDE comes in.  In my last few posts I have been trying out various distributions running Plasma 5, after discovering that Mint KDE 18.1 and 18.3 were horrible.  Kubuntu 17.10 was worse, so I tried various distributions using XFCE and last week I even had a go at using Bodhi Linux.  Aaaarrrrgh!

At the moment I am back to Mint 17.3 KDE on my main drive, and it is pretty snappy except when it somes to certain file operations - like choosing an image to insert in this blog, which just takes far too long.  But I can live with that.

Everything else works perfectly and is crisp.  Themes and transparencies are nicely configurable.  Networking is a nightmare.  But as long as the computer doesn't have to share stuff with other computers, things are great.  I do miss the days of Mandrake where one click enabled a whole network.  But I suppose there were security issues.  These days, no amount of tweaking or setting rules has allowed me to share stuff on my network unless I disable the firewalls.

I still have a spare root partition with that awful Bodhi thing installed, so my new project will be to explore playing with some tweaks to Mint Cinnamon in the hope that I can keep an up to date kernel and packages, while still having a quick system and some eye candy.

Update 20th March 2018

I've now installed and uninstalled so many distros in my spare root partition, that my computer is like a musical chair.  I know it is easier to use a virtual machine, but honestly, having a spare 30GB root set up permanently is just as easy and means I always have a working alternative should I ever really screw something up on my main distro. 

The only downside was having to edit grub each time on two distros, until I realised that only the grub set by the last distro is active.
So now I just watch the system boot into the new distro, hit an up/down arrow when in grup to stop the timer, and count how far down the menu my 'Main' distro is.  The last installed distro will always default to Default = "0", so if my main distro appears at line 5 on the list, I count  0, 1, 2, 3, 4   and then note that I need to set Default = "4" in grub.

I then select the top (default) entry for the new distro, and let it continue to boot.

Once booted into my latest spare distro, I find out the name of the text editor.  For example, in KDE, it is usually kate.  So I simply open a terminal and type:

sudo kate /etc/default/grub

Scroll through the lines until I see Default="0"  and change it to "Default="4"  or whatever number I counted to get to my Main distro.

On a couple of distros, I ended up changing to Default="2" or Default="3"  because they created the initial grub config differently.

REMEMBER!

After editing /etc/default/grub  you have to SAVE the file and CLOSE the editor, then in the terminal type:

sudo update-grub

Now on reboot, you will go straight into the original main distro, but can easily choose the new one instead.

This is great for long term learning and setting up of a completely different distro, as I have been doing, to see what it really does.


Friday, 23 February 2018

More on Plasma and MyRepublic.

First, Plasma 5. 
After another couple of months ironing out the wrinkles, I've finally decided it is time to give up on Plasma 5 again for now.  And at the same time I've wiped XFCE, Cinnamon, MATE and Kubuntu off my main computer. 

I'm back to using plain old Mint 17.3 KDE with Kernel 4.4.0-112-generic, and KDESC Version 4.13.2 and that is about as good as it gets.

On my spare root drive I experimented with various newer kernels including 4.8, but there are some security issues with 4.8 and 4.15 is slow and buggy on my system.  Updating KDE 4 to 4.13 however has the system nice and snappy.  Something like XFCE on steroids.  By that, I mean it seems almost as fast as XFCE, but looks so much better, especially in font rendering - as well as being infinitely more customisable.  IN fact, the desktop and fonts are far superior on my system that anything else I tried, including Cinnamon, MATE, LXDE and others.

Performance is fantastic with the exception of switching Activities using the pager.  But switching them using the mouse wheel on the desktop is snappy.  And of course, the limits of Plasma 5 are not in Plasma 4.  I can have whatever I want on each of my activities and each of my virtual desktops.  At the moment I have 6 Activities, each with 4 Virtual Desktops, and each activity and desktop has its own wallpaper.  On top of that, Activities can be set to remember their open programs and layouts.

Of course, video wallpaper, with or without sound is a click away.  So if I want to I have a relaxation video running in the background while I am working.

And on to MyRepublic.
On the 28th of January, there was a major outage on the NBN that affected MyRepublic and some other providers.  My download speeds dropped from about 95 Megabits a second to about 10 Megabits a second.  Uploads were about 1Mbps.

I noticed it was a bit slow, but didn't realise just how bad until I saw the message from MyRepublic advising about the outage.  As usual, people started posting about how bad MyRepublic's service is - without taking into account that MyRepublic only 'sells' the product.  They don't 'make it'.  Companies like MyRepublic are retailers.  They have to rely on the equivalent of a 'distributor' (In their case, Optus) or the 'manufacturer' (in this case NBNco) to actually rectify the problem.

Anyway, as usual I kept them updated, and when they posted that the nationwide problem was resolved (according to Optus and NBNco), I showed them that it was still not fixed here in Queensland.  And as usual, they kept me up to date with what they were doing to try to find the issue.  Including a series of tests to ascertain that there was in fact a network problem and not some glitch in my equipment.

Gradually bits improved and after a few days I had downloads around 80Mbps.  But uploads were still only 1 to 3Mbps until around the 14th of Feb when they started improving.  By the 17th of February all was well again and now speeds are back to around 95Mbps download and 35Mbps upload - which means a 1.5GB file takes a little under a minute and a half to download.  And I can stream YouTube High Res again :-)

It probably doesn't help to abuse your RSP when there is an NBN problem.  When they tried to follow up on my issue, it seems they were told they could not raise a service complaint because I was getting 'better than the minimum service level'.  It seems that as long as I am receiving either 12Mbps or better download, and 1Mbps or better upload, there is no provision for MyRepublic to raise a service complaint.  Even though MyRepublic is 'buying' 100/40Mbps to on sell to me.  Go figure!! 

How is my reseller supposed to help me with a problem, when the wholesaler won't even consider there is a problem?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

KDE 4 vs Plasma 5 - The Farce Awakens

Well, that might be a little harsh.  But the move to Plasma 5 is still a pain.  As I've written previously, I'm running a Gigabyte BRIX with a Celeron N3150 1.6GHz 64 bit CPU (about 2GHz in burst mode) and 8GB of installed RAM.
It is working pretty hard for a low end processor, but it wasn't really all that long ago (1984) that I was using an $8,000 Epson QX-10 with a Z80 8-bit processor at about 4MHz and about a quarter of a Meg of RAM for all my heavy business work.  So I'm pretty happy with what the $300 BRIX can achieve.

Ok, so back to 2018.  I've used most of the main Linux distributions since we first converted all our business computers to Red Hat in 1998. Before the end of the year I had installed Mandrake on one computer and that was the beginning of my experience with KDE.  I've used almost everything else available in Desktop Environments, but I always end up back at KDE.

I settled on Linux Mint as my favourite distro quite a few years ago after it was suggested by a friend.   Over the last five years it has really improved and although I often mess with other distros, I keep a copy of the latest Mint KDE in my main root folder.  The second root folder is used for either testing new releases of Mint, or dabbling in other distros, while enabling me to immediately reboot into something stable and familiar if anything goes wrong.

And that is what happened when I installed Mint 18 point something last year.  Mint KDE had moved to Plasma 5 and so many things didn't work any more.  Now I had tried NEON in the early days of Plasma 5, and given up on it.  So my main distro is Mint 17.3 with Plasma 4.13.2, and my spare distro is Kubuntu 17.10 with all the latest bits of Plasma 5 and QT.

Here's the How the desktops look:

Mint 17.3 with KDE 4 (above) 


Kubuntu 17.10 with the latest Plasma 5 and all the beta bits (above)

So how do they compare?  KDE 4 is mature, slick and almost bullet proof.  Even on the Celeron, it is snappy with no lag, and no compositing problems.  Everything just works.  A bit like KDE 3 was when KDE 4 first came out.  And back then we all complained about how slow and clunky KDE 4 was.

That's what Plasma 5 feels like compared to KDE 4.  Slow and clunky.  Plasma 5 takes forever to boot, although the latest is a little faster to shut down.  It is also a little laggy when switching work spaces, even with the timing set to zero.
I also tried it with Wayland instead of X11/Kwin.  That was a mistake.  Almost nothing works properly, but luckily CTRL+ALT+Backspace got me logged out and I could log back into a standard Plasma session.

That will all change though.  Work seems to have more or less stopped on KDE 4.x, and pretty well everything is being focused of trying to sort out Plasma 5.  Each time I upgrade it, there seems to be a few less bugs.

One of the worst is the apparent memory leak in 'heap'.  If I run either the Screensaver Wallpaper option on the desktop, or if I set a Media Frame Applet on the desktop, I can run KSysGuard and watch as the plasma-desktop process just grows and grows every time an image changes.  Left alone it will soon eat all of my 8GiB of RAM and start using my 16GiB of Swap space.

The plasma-desktop process also eats RAM when doing something as simple as clicking the Application launcher on the Panel, then clicking the desktop to close it.  Doing that over and over, but never clicking on a menu item, it can leave up to 100Kib or more in plasma-desktop each time.  It soon takes the used RAM from say, 1.8GB to 2.4GB.  Little things like that need to be fixed before Plasma 5 will be ready for everyday use.  But as long as you set up the Plasma Restart icon in the Panel

(see an earlier post about 'kquitapp5 plasmashell && kstart plasmashell')

 it only takes a moment to free up RAM.  And the problem happens much more slowly now, especially if you remember NEVER to leave Desktop Wallpaper running or install the Media Widget.

Luckily I have a script on the panel that reboots Plasma without affecting other running apps, and without having to log out and back in.

This update is being written as a follow up, because I did a major upgrade of Plasma 5, Frameworks and also Qt today and There are a few slight improvements.  I still boot into Kubuntu 17.10 with Plasma 5 frequently, but the moment I finish messing around there, I sigh with relief when I'm back in Mint 17.3 and KDE 4.

Sadly, that can't last.  Eventually KDE 4 will be phased out like KDE 3 was.  I just hope Plasma 5 is matured enough by then to take over the heavy lifting.

The one good thing is that both are still very easy to customise.  As you can see in the screen shots, I can still have my translucent title bars and panels, and I have Cairo-Dock on KDE 4 and Latte-Dock on Plasma 5.





Saturday, 13 January 2018

Kubuntu 17.10 Working. Solution seems to be - DON't use 'Slideshow Wallpaper'


Kubuntu 17.10 with Plasma 5 working at last!
Solution seems to be - DON't use 'Slideshow Wallpaper'

After so much time trying to fix memory issues with Plasma 5, I finally seem to have Plasma 5 and Kubuntu 17.10 working happily - for now. 
The worst culprit seems to have been using the Slideshow option for Wallpaper in Configure Desktop.
I'm sure that could change, and I'm keeping Mint 17.3 with KDE Plasma 4 in the spare root partition for Justin.

I have mentioned before that I have a spare panel on the right side of my desktop mostly to make desktop switching easier by simply scrolling in the blank space at the right of the screen.  But I always liked having Docky running in hidden mode at the bottom for quick access to a few odd things that I use most often.  

In plasma 5, when I installed Docky it had some issues, so I did some snooping around and found 'Latte Dock'.

Check it out HERE



 Latte Dock was in the Kubuntu repository, and it works similarly to Docky, although it doesn't seem as versatile so far.  It did however blend nicely with my theme and in the top screen capture you can see it taking up most of the bottom of the screen - like Docky in Panel Mode.  It doesn't eat much of the system's resources and unlike Docky when I tried it, Latte Dock sits nicely on all my Virginal Desktops AND all my Activities.

Today I have been running most of my usual programs and even with KODI and Waterfox running RAM used after five hours was only up to 2.1GiB and Swap used was zero.

This is a huge change because previously after a couple of hours the RAM was often up to 6GiB used and swap around the same!

Just for now, I am impressed with Kubuntu 17.10 and Plasma 5 for the first time ever in the years that I have been trying to use Plasma 5.

Below is the System Information for the Brix Celeron n3150 system I am using.


Day 2 of the Kubuntu 17.10 / Plasma 5.11 experiment and I have learned a few more things.  I kicked in a browser I have been messing around with - Vivaldi.  There are some things I don;t like about Vivaldi.  In fact I hate them /  One is that I can't find any way to open Speed Dial entries in new tabs with a left click.  Another is that I cannot use my double click actions on the Title Bar, for example Double Click to toggle shade does not work..

However in most other things, Vivaldi is faster and using a few less resources than most of the other high end browsers I have at the moment - even with some extensions installed.

Here's the RAM use comparison yesterday with Waterfox, and today with Vivaldi.