Tue, 25 Apr 2006
After I said that I wasn’t that bothered about transparency I found myself drawn towards this. I thought that the opaque text would make this more usable that plain transparency. I was packaging the Xfce4.4 beta, and compiled Terminal as part of this, and thought I’d add this hack to it. It worked OK, but you could only use a black terminal, and the alpha was hardcoded.
So I went out and found this which does the same thing for gnome-terminal, and so shares the backend with Terminal. I used the patch for libvte, and ported the changes to Terminal. It works quite well I think, and with Terminal’s ability to lose it’s own window decorations you could do some interesting things.
So, the obligatory screenshot. Looks pretty unusable I know, and it is like that, but I wanted to show what could be done if you wanted.
Sat, 15 Apr 2006
With some help from d-u I finally got my Canon S1 IS working under Debian.
I was concerned because the usual messages that I get when plugging in a USB device about SCSI emulation were missing. However I saw that some people had it working, and that it was in the list of supported cameras for gphoto2. The key was to avoid autodetection and to tell gphoto2 to use PTP mode for my camera. I also had to add myself to the camera group. In the end this was the command that lists all of the images on the device
gphoto2 –camera "Canon Powershot S1 IS (PTP mode)" –port=usb\: -L
So that's another thing that I don't need XP to do, and the list of things that it do need it for is tiny now. Maybe one day I'll get round to removing it completely, after all I haven't booted in to it for a long while.
So ever since I installed WordPress I have been wanting to use SSL for logins and admin, but everything I tried seemed to have some drawbacks.
First I tried the mod_rewrite sugestion from wordpress.org, but this still had cookies travelling over non-ssl, and also meant that each request was redirected from https to http doubling the required number of requests, and meaning that any user would have to trust my SSL cert even if they weren't going to use SSL.
Then I tried the secure-admin plugin that seems to be quite new, but this prevented me from accessing the admin section at all. I think this is because I am using the latest SVN WordPress and so the plugin might not have been updated to work with it.
Firstly cookies are set to be secure only, so that should prevent anyone being able to snoop my session. Secondly the site works normally over http for most things, logins and admin are redirected to https. I don't allow anyone to register on my site, so this only has to work for me, and I'm not sure how it would fare if you want your users logged in. This patch only requires an SSL enabled server, it doesn’t require mod_proxy or anything, though mod_rewrite can make things a bit cleaner.
If anyone is interested then there is a patch against the SVN of 2006-04-14 at http://jameswestby.net/ssl-admin.patch. It comes with no warranty, and you are free do distribute and modify it as you wish. If you do make a useful change then perhaps you could notify me and I could incorporate it in to my version.
I have tried to document the effect of the patch within the file, but if you feel that you would like more information then please just ask. The only configuration that you have to do is change one line in wp-config.php to reflect the address you would like to use for admin over SSL. I am working on incorporating this in to the usual options system.
[EDIT - I think this patch breaks the preview (if you hit save and continue editing while drafting the preview reports that there is no such article, is that normal behaviour?)]
Fri, 14 Apr 2006
So I wanted to get my hands dirty and try something that was going to live up to the label “unstable” as a 2.6.16 kernel hadn’t really managed that. There were a few posts on the debian-user mailing list this morning that seemed to suggest that it may not go smoothly, so I thought I’d have a go. It’s not really the time to be trying to break my main box, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway.
So using aptitude and doing some manual dependency resolution (including a new nvidia kernel module using the fantastic module-assistant) I got a bunch of packages to install, many of them with names xserver-xorg-.* It all settled down after a couple of debconf questions that I probably should have paid more attention to, the screen seemed to flash, but maybe that was the lack of sleep, and everything went quiet.
So i then logged out of XFCE and killed the X server, the screen flickered for a bit as it is prone to do, but KDM didn’t come up. Oh dear I thought, but I didn’t panic, who hasn’t had problems starting X, I certainly had plenty before I worked out how to get my Nvidia card to play nicely during kernel recompiles. So I did the normal thing and checked /var/log/Xorg.0.log and it complained about lack of fonts, a quick check with lynx (how glad am I that I can do that now rather than dropping out back in to XP?) suggested that I should check the font paths and not bother with xfs. Checking the paths showed that the location of the fonts had moved, or that the xorg.conf had been rewritten (I suspect the former), and changing the paths bought KDM up.
So I then enabled compositing and the nvidia acceleration for it and restarted and it came up, but I didn’t know if it had worked. So I switched in to KDE and tried to enable transparency, but nothing seemed to show, so I went back to XFCE and recompiled xfwm with its compositing manager (after grabbing some extra libs and learning a little about PKG_CONFIG_PATH). Creating a transparency file in my .xfce4 dir and restarting confirmed that it worked.
So i wanted to play with this new gimmick and so grabbed some apps, transset and transset-df. A bit of tweaking with keyboard shortcuts, and using the superior transset-df means that I can now alter the transparency of the window under the cursor with keyboard shortcuts. I also tried to look into transparency on inactive windows, and transinactive from the xfce team does this, but it doesn’t play that nice with virtual desktops so I’ve dropped it for now. It looks pretty simple, so it might be worth a hack later. I saw a suggestion to have opaque text in translucent terminals, which seemed like a good idea, but I couldn’t find any code for doing this to xterm, only a mention that someone had done it. I’ll keep an eye out though.
However, all was not rosy, as I couldn’t log out of XFCE, the panel would go, but everything else would remain. xfce4-session-logout complained there was no session manager running when there was (maybe worth improving the error message if possible), .xsession-errors was reporting ICE connection rejected. I eventually bothered to look at the top of that file and saw that xrdb couldn’t be found. locate showed it was in /usr/X11R6/bin, and I thought about just sticking that on my PATH (what? it’s got bin in the name) but the folks on #debian-xfce said that it wasn’t on their path, and their xrdb was in /usr/bin/X11. So apt-file showed me where I could get this binary from, and I upgraded to the unstable version which solved the problem.
So all in all, not too bad for an upgrade to a brand spanking new major revision of an important package that was causing lots of problems. My troubles mainly came from trying to use as few packages as possible from unstable.
But, you know what? After all that I’m not all that keen on transparency, and I’ll probably end up turning it off most of the time. It hasn’t made a noticable impact on performance yet. Maybe when I get rid of all the unneeded modules I can have a nice trim X server which might aid performance anyway.