A Fix for Korora Xfce in KVM

There has been an issue where Korora Xfce running in a VM using KVM was pausing for a short time. It seems I wasn’t the only one experiencing this issue.¬†During a discussion on the Korora IRC channel I was experimenting with different settings and suggested a possible fix. It worked for me and others too. This may work for other distros too particularly Fedora and other Fedora remixes.

Thanks to bgstack15 for testing and documenting it, see his article here. But the short answer is to disable “Sync Drawing to the vertical blank”.

Using the Super Key in Xfce

Update: Ksuperkey is in the Korora repo now and included in Korora Xfce 24.

One of the restrictions in Xfce is that you can’t use a key as both a shortcut key and a key modifier. I have often seen questions about this particularly as regards the Super (aka Win) key. It is often set to open the menu whether the default menu or WhiskerMenu is used. If it is also used as a modifier, i.e. in a combination with another key as a shortcut, the menu will be opened as well as the action called by the shortcut.

A question from another Korora team member reminded me of Ksuperkey and looking at the Github page for the project I noted a comment that while it was written for KDE it should work in other Desktop Environments including Xfce. That sounded like it was worth checking out.

Unfortunately Ksuperkey is no longer packed for Fedora 23 so can’t just be installed in Korora. However it is simple to build. I followed this guide, replacing yum with dnf, and it worked without any issues.

If used without any options Ksuperkey calls alt + F1 which in Korora opens the menu by default. I removed that shortcut as I use whiskermenu. In Korora the Super key is used to open WhiskerMenu so in Settings – Keyboard – Shortcuts I edited that to use Alt + F1. Next I ran ksuperkey from alt + F2 and tested. I had previously configured some shortcuts to open applications using Super + other keys so I could easily test. The applications opened and the menu didn’t appear. When used by itself the super key opened WhiskerMenu. Exactly what I hoped to achieve and what was promised.

Lastly I added ksuperkey to Settings – Sessions and Startup – Application Autostart so I didn’t need to run it manually each session.

Ksuperkey adds useful and needed functionality to Xfce and probably other Desktops and is a worthy addition. It has a number of options that can tailor its operation to different situations, see the Usage section on the project page. Don’t be misled by the name, Ksuperkey doesn’t have a bunch, or even any, KDE dependencies that will be added to your system. Its name merely reflects it’s heritage.

A New Xfce Utility

A new utility has been made available for Xfce in Fedora. It is xfpanel-switch and has been packaged by nonamedotc who you may recognise as a busy contributor of Xfce on Fedora. His past efforts have certainly added to my enjoyment of running Xfce on Korora.

xfpanel-switch is a simple utility that can back up and restore your panel configuration. It includes a couple of different configs you can try out but use its backup option to backup your set up first. There are full details about it here.

I’ve been testing it for couple of days and it works well for me. It will be included in future versions of Korora Xfce but if you want to try it on 23 it is currently in updates-testing. You can install it with ‘sudo dnf –enablerepo=updates-testing install xfpanel-switch’.

Fedora’s Copr and Remixes

This is a slightly edited version of a news item I recently posted on the Korora Project site. It covered the failure of the repo setup instructions provided on Fedora’s Copr site.
The Fedora COPR repos are a great source of software that isn’t (yet?) available in the regular repos. Some are new versions that will appear in future releases but are available now for testing. Some are very specialised software for which there is little demand.
Adding a COPR repo is simple as dnf core plugins provide a one step command. Unfortunately the command provided on the COPR site does not work on Fedora remixes such as Korora. The command attempts to determine the version and arch you are running but doesn’t recognise a remix. You must provide this information as an additional argument. For example the following command would install a copr repo in a 64 bit Korora system:
$ sudo dnf copr enable reponame fedora-23-x86_64
This instructs the dnf copr plugin it to explicitly enable the Fedora 23 64 bit repo, edit the command for other versions (use i686 for 32 bit). Replace ‘reponame’ with the name given on the COPR page.
There is no need to add that argument if using the disable repo command only when initially setting it up. There are more details about the dnf copr plugin at http://dnf.baseurl.org/2014/03/19/copr-plugin/.

Kdenlive Appearance in Xfce

The KDE video editor Kdenlive is one of the best Linux video editors available for general users. I’ve used it for many versions both in KDE and other desktops like Xfce. Recently it was updated to version 15.12.2 in Fedora. One of the changes from the former 9.10 version was the conversion to Plasma 5 / QF5. This means it defaults to using the Breeze style.

Unfortunately Kdenlive doesn’t detect or use the GTK settings or even the QT5 setting. The style used is set within the application. I’m not sure why it does this but in my experience it is the only KDE application that does it.

I use a dark theme in Xfce and kdenlive looked way out of place. I tried to set it to use the GTK theme but that meant some elements were dark and some not. it looked a real mess. I needed to install the Breeze theme and then set Kdenlive to use Breeze Dark. ‘dnf install plasma-breeze’ is all I needed to do. Then select Breeze in Settings – Style and Breeze Dark in Theme and in that order too. It still isn’t exactly the same colours as other applications but it is close and that seems to be the best I can do.

Xfce Screen Locking without XScreensaver

If like me you dislike XScreensaver and its ugly unlock screen there is an easy alternative that is actually better integrated into Xfce. Korora like most distros includes Xscreensaver with Xfce. Xscreensaver provides both the screensaver graphics and screenlocking for security. Screensaving isn’t needed these days with modern monitors. It is a relic from the distant past of CRT monitors. However for laptops that can be taken anywhere and for desktops in public areas, screen locking is an important part of your security set up.

You can disable the screensaving so it just blanks the screen. But you still have the ugly Xscreensaver screen to type your password. There is a better way.

I remove xscreensaver, this isn’t strictly necessary but as it isn’t being used there is no point keeping it. ‘dnf erase xscreensaver*’ takes care of that.

Next I install light-locker. Light-locker works with LightDM which is the default Display Manager for Xfce in Korora and many other distros. Actually LightDM is used in Korora for other Desktop Environments too so this applies to them too. However it is well integrated into Xfce. ‘dnf install light-locker’ is all that is needed. I did a restart but I’m not sure if that is really needed.

Now Xfce’s Power Manager settings has gained an additional “Security” tab which allows you to configure Light-locker. Not that much needs configuring. On my laptop I enabled “Lock when Going to Sleep”. This enables me to put the laptop to sleep and lock the screen simply by closing the lid as I have set that as the default action elsewhere in the Power Manager settings.

Now when I open the laptop rather than the unlocked desktop or the ugly XScreensaver window appearing I get the LightDM login screen. That looks much better particularly as I have customised it but that is a subject for another day.

Conky Manager

Conky Manager is a simple way for those who aren’t familiar with Conky to start using it. I’ve mentioned before that I like Conky and have occasionally mentioned how powerful it can be. However making the first steps is the hardest part. It has a very steep learning curve so anything that gets you started is a good idea. That’s where Conky Manager comes in.

Cm-Korora

Conky Manager comes with a number of preformatted Conkys and a search of the internet will locate several more packs that can easily be added to Conky Manager.

The screen shows a list of the installed configurations and below a preview of most. There is an option to recreate the previews. This is handy if you edit any of the designs as I did in the displayed example.

 

Once you’ve selected the design you want there are some options that you can set. These depend on the design but commonly let you choose the screen location and correct network interface and similar personalisations that are unique to your system. You can then start the Conky, set it to autostart whenever you restart the computer. If you want to customise it further you can open it in a text editor.

Conky Manager is available in the repos of most manager distros including Korora and Fedora. You can install it in Korora easily with sudo yum install conky-manager.

If you have ever been curious about Conky and wanted to try it there is no easier way than with Conky Manager, give it a go.

KDE’s New Touchpad Settings

I’ve been testing KDE 4.14.3 on Korora 21 Beta over the last few days. As Korora 20 had the same version there is little difference between the two. However one change that is noticeable is the new configuration module for Touchpads. Korora 21 is based on Fedora 21 and so most, if not all, of this post applies to Fedora 21 too.

kdetouchpad

Although laptops and hence touchpads are very common, the options to configure them were very poor in the past. They worked but gave little choice in the set up. With the new module there are many more options for adjusting sensitivity. But there also some new options such as Palm Detection, and disable Touchpad while typing.

Another addition I particularly like is the option to disable the touchpad when a mouse is detected. This works well even with my Bluetooth mouse. There is even the option to ignore any detected advice. I guess this is for devices that may be incorrectly detected as a mouse.

KDE 4.14.3 may be one of the last versions of KDE4 as KDE’s Plasma 5 is out and will ultimately take KDE4’s place but for now the current version is great desktop.