phayz's blog

…it's time for a new phayz of life

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HowTo: Create a simple, private online photo slideshow

TL;DR I can recommend PhotoSwipe to anyone who needs to create an online photo slideshow on their own web host.

I was recently asked to create an online photo slideshow. Despite being web savvy, I had never done anything like this so I asked my colleagues for suggestions. As a result I used PhotoSwipe, and found it was incredibly easy to get working. All I needed was a web host and access to upload the files which made up the slideshow application.

The steps required were:

  1. Download PhotoSwipe;
  2. Extract the contents of the PhotoSwipe zip file;
  3. Upload PhotoSwipe to a folder on the web host;
  4. Edit the index.html with the names of the images and configuration options;
  5. Upload the images.

Other hosted options such as Dropbox’s native slideshow option would have achieved a similar result but in my case I needed to keep the slideshow private.

Ayatana on Frugalware?

NOTE: This blog entry was published on Devil505’s blog, on 13 September 2010. With his permission I have translated it into English and republished it here.

Last week I started a sort of Frugalware Linux project, porting the Ubuntu project Ayatana. Simply put, the system includes Ayatana indication and reporting used by default on Ubuntu and the Unity menu for Ubuntu’s netbook version. You can find more information about Ayatana on the Ubuntu wiki.

I first followed Arch Linux by focusing on the indication system. I don’t want to make Frugalware like Ubuntu but I found some interesting parts of Ayatana so I thought, why not make them available to Frugalware’s users? The indicator-applet package is available in the ‘current’ repository, together with indicator-me, indicator-messages, indicator-monitor, indicator-session, indicator-sound and xchat-indicator. Below are screenshots which illustrate some of the indicators in action.

I do not certify that it works 100% because certain things like new mail notification are not fully developed. Sound control works if you use pulseaudio. indicator-me is able to import my email accounts from Pidgin.

I am currently using versions also used by Ubuntu Lucid (Updates) for more stability. The versions used by Ubuntu Maverick would require me to update the Ido library to version 0.1.11 and that’s just not feasible at the moment.



It’s not yet been decided if notification-daemon will be replaced by notify-osd. Admittedly notification-daemon has not really evolved since the last commit date of 2009. To my knowledge, no distro (besides Ubuntu and its derivatives) has officially abandoned notification-daemon for notify-osd’s benefits. Bouleetbil, the maintainer of GNOME in Frugalware would not consider this change at the moment, but the debate remains open. Some parts of GNOME need to be patched to use notify-osd and Frugalware’s policy is to avoid unofficial patches where possible. 

In the meantime, you can test notify-osd test this way:

# pacman-Rd notification-daemon
# pacman-U…

If you want to revert to using notification-daemon, uninstall notify-osd with pacman-Rd and then reinstall notification-daemon.


When it comes to Unity, I’ll leave that aside for now.

Thankyou, but I don’t want touchscreen support for my PC

Recently, Frugalware developer Devil505 packaged libraries such as utouch-grail (Gesture Recognition And Instantiation Library) and utouch-geis (Implementation of the Gesture Engine Interface and Support interface). If I understand correctly, these provide underlying support for touchscreens. I appreciate Devil505’s efforts because providing support for touch screens for those who have them simply makes sense. However I won’t be installing them, even when I buy a touchscreen.

My wallpaper features Halle Berry but I had to promise my wife that while using the PC I would have any open window set to fullscreen mode. 😦 I am OK with that, because I get to see her (Halle) for at least a little while, every time I log in. If I had a touchscreen, how could I possibly explain to my wife why it is that I am stroking my wallpaper? Even if I took the time to explain the advantage of making touchscreen gestures instead of using a mouse, she simply wouldn’t allow it. Instead I would have to choose something else, maybe one which featured scenery. I don’t want to be without Halle, though, so sorry but I don’t want touchscreen support for my PC.

FLOSS and newcomers

After using Frugalware for some time there were some questions I wanted to ask and I thought the users’ IRC channel would be the best place to ask. I asked a few questions and got some good answers. There was just one problem, though, one annoying user. This user, named “mxw”, kept interrupting conversations saying “Stop using “…” it’s annoying”. I can’t remember the exact phrase, but it was something like that. Now I regularly used “…” to indicate my flow of thought(s), perhaps also to indicate a pause.

It may be difficult to believe, but although I had been a geek for many years and used Linux for at least 7 years, the Frugalware users’ IRC channel was my first entry in world of IRC. I knew nothing about IRC and assumed that everyone there was an actual person. What I didn’t know about mxw was that this was not a person but in fact an IRC channel bot which could automatically carry out simple tasks, including monitoring the usage of “…” in messages.

I was so annoyed at these rude messages that I seriously considered quitting from using IRC completely. Thankfully I continued and, several years later, am still a happy Frugalware user.

The point to this blog post is to demonstrate just how easy it can be for people to be turned away from the world of FLOSS. Responses like “RTFM” and “what a n00b!” can turn away people who, if they were welcomed, might make a fantastic contribution to FLOSS. Since you can’t know who are new users, the best approach is to ensure that you treat everyone with respect.

Firefox hint for the address bar

Firefox allows you to assign keyboard shortcuts to search engines, allowing you to conduct searches from within the address bar. Assigning the shortcut “G” to Google for example, allows you to do a Google search in the address bar. If you’re searching for references to Halle Berry, you could type ‘g “halle berry”‘ into the address bar. 

When I discovered this I was left thinking “Why do I leave the search bar displayed, when I am now using the address bar to search?” To remove it I simply right clicked on the toolbar containing the search bar and from within the dialog, removed the search bar. Voila! I now have a cleaner-looking Firefox without missing any functionality.

I won’t be using Evergreen and Terminator

I recently blogged about two applications written in Java which I was testing – Evergreen and Terminator. After a little testing I have decided not to use them. Evergreen is a text editor with features aimed at development – i.e. writing code. Although I like some of its features, it’s not as customisable as I would like. Terminator also offers some interesting features but since it’s a terminal emulator, it’s slow to start and when I need a terminal I want it *now*. Both of the applications do what their developer says they do, so there’s no problem there. I won’t be using them though because I think I have better options available.

I still like Opera but I no longer *love* it

I recently blogged that I liked Opera and was using it as my main web browser. I was uncomfortable with this because I have always been a fan of FLOSS. Although Opera is free, it’s not open source. I liked the visual style of Opera, also some of its features, including a built-in IRC client which I thought looked quite nice.

I had a few problems occurring though, with Opera 10.60, where there were delays in closing and opening tabs for no reason I could understand. Also the IRC client, although lovely, didn’t support logging so I had no record of what I had discussed with people. I tried a new build – Opera 10.70 – but this had the same delays at various times and would sometimes lose all content of tabs.

I have now switched back to Firefox and am testing the FF 4 Beta. To ease the pain of switching back from Opera I have installed a few add-ons which are working well. Lack of add-ons in Opera was something I couldn’t quite understand. I know that they’re implemented differently than for FF but there really didn’t seem to be many options for customisation and most of the options that did exist appeared to be quite old.

X is freezing on my MSI Wind U200

I thought I had won a battle with my MSI Wind U200 in enabling wireless while running Frugalware Linux 1.3rc1 but I have another problem…it’s freezing. Now this is not because it’s Winter here in the southern hemisphere, it’s definitely a problem with a driver or…something. When I first installed 1.3 (following the rolling release known as ‘current’) I successfully enabled wireless support and was a happy user. Soon afterward though I found that X would freeze, although I could still move the mouse’s cursor. I couldn’t find out what was causing the problem but I’m quite sure it was the result of my fiddling to get wireless support working.

At the moment I have wiped the PC clean and reinstalled Frugalware 1.2 and it’s no longer freezing, but I also no longer have wireless support. This is not a big problem at the moment because I only use wireless support at home and at the moment I am simply using a wired connection instead. Soon though, I hope to install Frugalware 1.3 in addition to 1.2 on the PC and do some more troubleshooting.

What can you make with Salma Hayek?

The short answer is: Evergreen and Terminator. Confused? I’m not surprised!

The long answer: I recently stumbled across two applications which I am testing, and can be found here:

Terminator is a terminal emulator written in Java which runs on Linux, Windows (with Cygwin’s help) and Mac. It looks OK so far but it’s certainly slower to start than other terminal emulators. Features which make it different to other terminal emulators are the fact that by default it logs all output to log files, it has no limit on its scrollback buffer *AND* it has built-in find functionality. I think the find functionality would be cool, but I’m not sure just when/if I might need it.

Evergreen is a text editor/IDE written in Java which runs on Linux, Windows (with Cygwin’s help) and Mac. Like Terminator it looks OK so far but it’s not quite configured as I would like it. If it’s configuration can be changed to suit me then I may use it but if not, I’ll probably continue with my current editor(s).

With both of these being written in Java, they don’t quite have the native GTK look but they’re not too bad. I’ll report back here if I continue using them (or I may just forget completely). If I continue to use them I’ll ask that they be packaged for Frugalware Linux.

Now…where does Salma Hayek fit into the picture? In developing these two applications, the developer wrote a set of libraries which he named “Salma Hayek”. Why did he give it that name? Others have other asked him the same question, because his web site says “About the silly name: I needed a name for a repository containing useful Java classes shared by several projects. I couldn’t think of a good name, so I went for a nice name instead.” Before being able to compile Terminator and Evergreen, you first have to “make” salma-hayek so THAT’S why her name is in this blog entry’s title. 🙂

SOLVED – “configure: error: C++ preprocessor “/lib/cpp” fails sanity check”

I was recently trying to compile the Equinox GTK engine but the “configure” command returned the above error message and prompted me to look at the contents of config.log for further details. When I looked in that file I got messages telling me that certain files ending in “.h” were not found. This was one of those situations where I knew I had had this problem before but couldn’t remember what the solution had been. A little Internet searching suggested that I was missing the kernel headers and since that sounded right to me I then installed the kernel-headers package and my problem was solved!