Teething Problems Mostly Solved.

On my work desk I have two computers.  I probably don’t absolutely have to have two, but I think that being a computer officer I can probably justify it!

One is a 27″ iMac. It is huge, and the display is lovely.  I have issues with it that I will probably document somewhere one day.  But it is a thing of beauty, and it is so large that it certainly gets the attention.

Next to it is a pretty standard PC. I bought it with Windows 7 installed and it still has the ability to run Windows if you select it from the startup menu, but by default it boots up in to my preferred Linux distribution.

Nowadays that preference lies with Crunchbang.  This is a relatively recent choice, and may change again one day in the not too distant future.  For a long time I was a devotee of Gentoo, but I had problems with Gentoo (once again, I will write about that one day) and Crunchbang got my notice and my devotion!

Based on Debian, and using Openbox as its window manager, Crunchbang is pretty light (especially when compared to Windows) and positively flies on the i3 processor that this PC has.

However, while I have been running Crunchbang on my laptop for a while, the initial installation on the desktop PC still lead to some head scratching.

By default Openbox relies on a pop-up menu appearing when you right click the desktop.  This works well (though the menu has to be edited manually via a text file when adding new entries). But I am afraid that I like to have a start/task bar at the foot of the screen.  I know that relying on it is a bit Windows centric of me, but it is what I find myself most comfortable with!  The good news is that the packages for this are all available easily within the Synaptic package manager, and a quick visit to add in Xfce4 packages and I have a working taskbar.

Another useful system is the Conky monitor.  This is an infinitely customisable widget that can be embedded in the desktop and can display whatever information you select.  In the first instance I chose to use the configuration file that I had for my laptop.  This displays system information (hostname, date and time, uptime), Processor information (system load on the individual cores), Network speeds (upload and download rates as graphs), Top processes (the first five entries in Top), Memory (memory usage), Disc usage (root, home and tmp), Last.fm (last 5 tracks, but this is only up to date if I use a Last.fm aware music player or sync my iPod) and Disc in/out.

I also have a conditional section that only displays when the MPD player is active!

I did a bit of tweaking of the interface when I copied the configuration file across to my desktop. The main ones initially were to do with colour. On my laptop a lot of the backgrounds are light, so I use dark text, on the desktop the opposite is true.

However, there was one problem that persisted.  The conky window that displayed was ‘on top’ of all other windows.  That meant that a full screen program would be ‘under’ the conky display, effectively hiding the minimize/maximize/close buttons.

The problem was eventually fixed by changing the line:

own_window_type override


own_window_type desktop
And restarting conky.