Screen blanks on Linux

I had the problem that suddenly my screen went black after a period of time. It must have been ten minutes. The problem was, that I could not disable the behaviour by the means of the GNOME tools (screensaver or energy preferences). Stupid Linux.

And if you find this, you probably have, because I left this hint for you. ūüėČ

If you have the same problem try this. First see if you got the same:

xset q |grep blanking

See of it looks like this:

  timeout:  600    cycle:  600

If so the number in the left says something about the timeout of the screen in seconds. 600 seconds are ten minutes.

For the current session you can just type

xset s 0

If you just type in “xset” it will list some screensaver related commands t the bottom of the output.

The “xset s 0” disables the timeout counter and so effectively prevents the blanking of the screen.

I have no idea why there seems to be now no interaction between the GNOME tools and X11? I had this problem for months. I had played with “xset -dpms” bit this did not help at all.

Many of us do not have a xorg.conf any more, because we learned that autoconfig mostly works. But now this does not? Well I have added a xorg.conf withonly  this content to the coniguration directory /etc/X11/:

Section "ServerFlags"
 Option "IgnoreABI" "True"
 Option "BlankTime" "0"
 Option "StandbyTime" "0"
 Option "SuspendTime" "0"
 Option "OffTime" "0"

This should be it!

Honestly this kind of shit fuels my doubts about some free software developments.¬† Personally I can wait for some months to solve a problem. Now I usually don’t do reinstallations of Linux to fix things, unless I have a very serious issue. And I recommend to act similar. I think for most desktop machines updating seldom and be patient in fixing is the best way to keep a stable system. Sure not updating can lead to some security issues. But in my¬† whole computer life I have not a single serious security issue. On the other hand I had thousands of problems with updates of software. So for most users the thing that really will cost you a lot of time is updating if you dont really need it.

I think the whole Microsoft/Windows shit has led people to believe that updating to the latest version is the best way to keep your operating system safe and stable. That might be very true for Windows. And it might also be a very good idea for internet servers. But on a generic notebook I would rather recommend to only install the software you need and stick with it as long as you can. What security risks do you fear? Somebody shutting down your system? Or somebody steeling your data? I guess your risk as a Facebook users is much higher that people steal your data that you just submitted.

Sure there might be people who need a lot more security. If you have important company data on your notebook and sit in an airport lounge connecting to  a wireless LAN you better have your disk encrypted as well as your connection. And there is a slight chance that somebody can break your system because you are using your has a security leak. But still my guess that chances of this statistically are very low.

Personally I would tend to use¬† OpenBSD for a notebook, which is more safe by default, especially for people who don’t want to invest much time in keeping a system safe. And I guess it’s a very good idea not to connect to a WLAN at all if you are really worried about security. But nowadays people want to have it all and at the same time they want zero risk. My guess, but I am not a security expert, is that this is impossible. It’s like you buy expensive outfit to protect yourself from being robbed – but then entering the darkest parts of a city often. You will be robbed, even if you feel well prepared. The best way for not being robbed is to avoid some areas .

Ok don’t take that too seriously. There is never a 100% security. My point was, that it’s also a question of how probable a risk is and what could happen as the worst case. Many people don’t have important data, but more people need to have a computer which works when they need it. Strangely many friends I know tend to risk the functionality of their computers while they worry a lot that the might be at risk. So that’s why I get called for help each and every time and need to fix what some updates have corrupted.


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Foresight Linux 2.5.0 release, it is still not dead

Wow, I did not think they would bring out another version:

Here is an Editor note about Foresight from Tomas Forsman.


Nothing much new. The release had increased the rank of Foresight to the 32nd most important distro. Popularity is nit everything, but the message of Foresight really was, that it would be for everybody. Which it isnt.

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GNOME 3 / GnomeShell Review

Somebody made a review. I can agree on his view mostly:

and here:

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Switching from Ubuntu to Debian again

I  had been a long time Debian user years ago. But I have switched to different Linuxes. I have used Ubuntu for the last years, but had a problem with it for quite some time. Where I have already talked about earlier.

I have now decided, that it is much easier to just not use it any more, instead of living with their craziness of manipulating all kind of behavior in a non standard way. Its worse enough that GNOME does not goes in the wrong direction. But GNOME still is workable. At least in Debian.

I am now using Debian Testing/Squeeze. I like to see that Debians community is alive and developing.

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Ubuntu: Is it worth it?

I have been enjoying using Ubuntu. But there is one issue that make me start to think about switching distribution, again. The one issue is Mark Shuttleworth. But the individual, but his role in the distribution.

First of all I do not believe in the concept of benevolent dictatorship. I rather believe in the wisdom of crowds. So I do not trust the decisions of a single person, whoever it is. Does not matter who!

The second step is to look at some decisions Mark had made. In tle last 2 years I especially have a problem of two core decisions, which are:

  • Deciding to remove the shutdown option from system menu
  • Deciding to move the window buttons from right to left.

My main reasoning for disliking the decisions is that I had big, big problems adopting the changes. But I dont want to reduce decisions oin if I can get along. But if you think twice it is easy to realise that people with disablities, children or old people with have much more problems adopting the changes. I have enabled the FUSA on some other desktops and it sill feels totally unnatural to me.

Also my view is, that a distribution in fact should not fiddle around with the software as much as Ubuntu does. The right way would be to talk to GNOME and to reach a consensus . From a service perspective it is just hell if you assume you are providing services to different Linux distributions and you cant assume a specific layout, which is known to be a GNOME standard.

Maybe Mark decided this way so that Ubuntu is so different to other distributions and then people who learn Ubuntu will stick to it? I dont know – because obviously he and the gus from Ubuntu made a very bad decision from a usability perspective (TWICE!).

I am not  always conservative. I have played around different window managers Рand I think GNOME has missed the opportunity to adopt tiled window managing before Windows did. And now Windows advertises with tiled window managing, while Linux had this for ages Рbut  GNOME can not claim to have supported it. It had the taste of being too geeky (while in fact its a very practical feature).

So I like to update my desktop. But what I do not like is that I incorporate drastic UI changes which are not really thought through. and forcing to manually fix. I install a great deal of Linuxes for other people – and what I hate is that I have to fix all kinds of stuff before I can let people work with the machine. I like to keep things as default – because this enables people to feel home on many machines. Right now its so that somebody who gets a default Ubuntu will never feel home on a default Fedora, although both use the same GNOME and would have the perfect chance to show that different distributions dont mean you have to adopt and learn before you start working with another distribution. And it is not Fedoras fault this time!

So my criticism to Ubuntu is exactly two very consious decisions they made – without any need. So its not just some kind of bugs. They want it that way – they want people to get upset and have second thoughts about using Ubuntu. Why? I do not know.

I am think between switching to Fedora or Debian right now. Debian has the advantage of being more democratic and me being mor efamiliar with apt-get. Fedora is more interesting technically. But as I am getting older I also do get more conservative. I have used both for some years. I did like the responsiveness of the Debian maintainers, whoch is much higher than on Ubuntu. On Ubuntu you are mostly being seen as just a stupid user.

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Software Freedom Day Registration is open

After some weeks of preparation the SFD worldwide has opened up the registration!

I had taken up the task to prepare the new wiki. The old wiki was quite outdated but we could not update it easily. We chose to through away the user database, because there had been a lot of spam user accounts and it was qute impossible to scan them all for good and bad.

I hope our server will survive to be slashdotted (fingers crossed).

Yes, we still use MoinMoin as the wiki engine. Its actively developed, has caching capabilities and an  advanced search engine. And also the ability to use templates for page creation makes it mor easy for the general user, to add content.

We also have a Drupal CMS as the new front page and so we seperate the stable content from the more chaotic wiki content.

Its an interesting experience to see all those teams around the world running over our infrastructure. And I am impressed about their (your) enthusiasm.

Ah btw. the SFD is on September 18th in 2010!

If you want to start please read the StartGuide! Also I like to welcome your questions and suggestions. Contact me in #sfd as ritinardo on Freenode!

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You can not download GNOME!

One might think that this should be a simple task. I have continuously written about what GNOME does wrong. I should not care. but sometimes I re-check if things changes. But they do not.

Simple thing: Let’s say you think you like GNOME and want to download it. If you are smart you go to the GNOME main website. You even might now that GNOME is not just some Windows software, but you have to do more. But even then. I already wrote about the GNOME Live Disc problem. Which does not really have beend fixed. You do not see any Download link on the GNOME main website:

The only thing you see is a link to the latest release: GNOME 2.30. But why should you care? GNOME developers always think people just want to know about what ahs changed, because thats how they think about it. But lets say you have trust in thins link and get to the release notes page of GNOME 2.30. What now? You can go to the Bittorrent downlaod page if you even know what Bittorrent is and that this can be a way of downloading. But you cant, because all GNOME 2.30 releases have a “Coming soon!” – But wait – we now see the “Download” button on top! We click it and where are we getting to, which this time again leads us to the release notes of the latest stable release (today that is GNOME 2.30). So we look what else we find and we are successful, because there is another link:

You can get a list of distributions that ship GNOME and discover the latest versions they ship on our Get Footware page.

Aha. This should be it – so lets click on that page. But at least on the german page version this link is broken (And because there is still now 404 page we would be lost). On the english version it works. But now we are facing the fact that we only reached a page of links to DistroWatch. Though the page is nice to have, this is much away from any direct ability to download. This page is much more like a wiki page, which keeps geting updated every now and then.

The problem is: downloading GNOME should be the most important thing for GNOMEs people to consider a general user wants. This is still true – but still nobody cares. But you even have “Support” twice in the main page.


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