Upgrading from Fedora 18 to Fedora 19

It was time to take the plunge and upgrade from Fedora 18 to Fedora 19. Fedora 18 was one of the worst releases ever, so I figured it could only get better. I ran my backups as usual, however this time I didn’t seem to need them, the upgrade process went off without a hitch! I used the fedup-cli process over the network. I always run these things inside of screen.

Here are my post install notes and comments:

Brown folder icons:

Someone broke the icon theme, and folders are now an ugly brown. Even though you’ll see a “Fedora” entry in the GNOME tweak tool, icon theme section, it won’t work. You need to install a theme package first:

# yum install fedora-icon-theme

tweak tool will now let you fix the brown icon issue.

Dash doesn’t launch new windows:

The GNOME shell is back to its old habit of trying to imitate Mac OSX. Thankfully there’s an official extension to fix this: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/600/launch-new-instance/

If you search for “Classic Mode” on https://extensions.gnome.org/ you’ll find some other useful add ons. You might enjoy: AlternateTab, AvoidOverview, and SystemMonitor.

Evolution is snappier:

Congratulations to the evolution developers, this release seems a bit snappier! I haven’t tested it thoroughly, however closing evolution now happens in under ten seconds! Usually it would either hang or take much longer to close. Keep up the good work!

Clocks deletes your old clocks:

The clocks application deleted all the clocks that I had added. I suppose there are worse forms of data loss, but this is still pretty unprofessional! I had added one for every new place I had visited. Goodbye memories!

YUM breaks pexpect scripts:

A new version of YUM, now prompts you differently:

# yum install foobar[...]
Is this ok [y/d/N]:

No it’s not okay that you’re confusing my brain by adding a d. I actually don’t have any pexpect scripts depending on this, but after years of seeing y/N, the change is not welcomed. It should have been handled with a YUM download target instead.

Password prompts are annoying:

The GNOME shell handles most of the password prompts. This makes sense because it can help prevent you typing your password into a chat room. The problem is that if you need to run an external password manager to find a password, you’re out of luck. Maybe someone can add an option to minimize the focus stealing window. In addition, the “remember password” checkbox should NOT be on by default! It still is for evolution, and perhaps other apps too.

GNOME shell isn’t smooth, but it’s better:

Fedora 17 provided a smooth GNOME shell experience. Fedora 18, somehow killed the performance, and no fixes could be found. The performance seems to be a bit better in Fedora 19, but it’s still not perfect. Drivers are probably partly to blame.

New version of Gedit breaks some things:

The Gedit dashboard plugin no longer seems to work. After debugging the issue, it seems to be a packaging problem. To fix:

# yum install python3-dbus

and dashboard should work when enabled. The gedit-autotab plugin is thoroughly broken. I’d love to get that working again for smarter spaces!

That’s all for now,

Happy hacking,



running your file manager from a terminal

I do a lot of my work in a terminal. For the unfamiliar, this might seem strange, however once you’re comfortable with your shell, this is the best place to be. I don’t restrict myself to it though. I often want to spawn a file manager, or a graphical text editor. When I run nautilus, I usually see something like this:

james@computer:~/some/awesome/directory$ nautilus .
Initializing nautilus-open-terminal extension
Shutting down nautilus-open-terminal extension

This is useful, because I can open a file browser right where I want it, it’s annoying, because nautilus runs in that terminal until I close it. (This doesn’t happen if the nautilus process is always running, but since GNOME 3, it isn’t.)

My solution is a short bash script that runs nautilus, and leaves your terminal alone. I named my script nautilus, and placed it inside my ~/bin/. Here is the script:

# run nautilus from a terminal, without being attached to it; similar to nohup
# use the full path of nautilus to avoid it calling itself (recursion!)
{ `/usr/bin/nautilus "$@" &> /dev/null`; } &

I hope this is useful for you too. Feel free to do the same for gedit, nemo, and any other app which you often find convenient to run from the terminal. You can generalize this by leaving out the nautilus program:

if [ "$1" == "" ]; then
        echo "usage: ./"`basename $0`"  (to run a command nohup style)"
        exit 1
# do a nohup bash style according to:
{ `"$@" &> /dev/null`; } &

I name the above script run.sh, and it helps me out from time to time, when I don’t want to touch my mouse.

In case you haven’t heard about it, there’s also an open-terminal extension for nautilus and nemo which lets you get to a terminal, from your file manager. A quick internet search should help you install it.

If you found this information useful, please let me know, and as always,

Happy hacking,


PS: If you plan to do this for gedit, you probably want to preserve stdin, so that you can still pipe things in. To do this, you’ll probably want:

{ `/usr/bin/gedit "$@" &> /dev/null`; } < /dev/stdin &    # accept stdin too!

learn how to do one minute hacks, in three minutes

I write this technical blog for you to enjoy, and to help me remember. So where do I get all this knowledge? I figure it out! Here’s how I learned to fix a small gedit annoyance in one minute, and within the next three, you’ll be able to do the same for other types of problems too. Ready? Set? Go!

I use gedit enough, that when I hack, I often end up using up more than the five allotted spaces in the “recent files” sections. I wanted to see eight. Since I knew it would have been silly for the developers to hard code the number five, I decided there was a chance that they stored it in the dconf settings. (BTW, there’s also an amazing “Dashboard” plugin which I use for more complex recent-files searching…)

Enter dconf-editor. Run this, and start browsing through the hierarchy. You’ll notice that the org.gnome.* hierarchy has a lot going on. Look around, and you’ll find a “gedit” section. Once there, you’ll probably recognize some of the key names, as preferences you’ve seen. I searched for the number 5 and I found it next to a ‘max-recents’ key.

You can edit this with the editor, or for your convenience, just run:

gsettings set org.gnome.gedit.preferences.ui max-recents 8

the corresponding ‘read’ command is:

gsettings get org.gnome.gedit.preferences.ui max-recents

of course. The interesting thing about these settings, is that if coded properly, their actions are “live”. Which means, you can toggle them on and off, and in most cases, you’ll see the results immediately. Similarly, if you toggle a particular setting in gedit, you should see the changes instantly in dconf-editor.

Have fun playing with this and,

Happy hacking,



Multifile mode for text editors

Dear internets,

I’m a sysadmin/architect, which means I spend a good amount of time coding in puppet and other languages. Puppet is a great tool, however the puppet community is a bit anal strict about their style policies. I can respect this because I understand how important uniformity is when many developers are sharing code.

(On a side note, I absolutely can’t stand using spaces for indentation, but that’s another story. Please, just tell people to use tabs – preferably with a width of eight spaces.)

The puppet community has a habit of splitting up each class, subclass and function (“define”) into a separate file. When I’m hacking on a new module, I usually have everything together inside one big init.pp file until it becomes big enough that I need to split it up.

What I’d like to do, is have separate files loaded into my text editor linearly, so that as I scroll up or down with my mousewheel or keyboard, gedit or vim smoothly transitions me from one file to another. It would have per file line numbering (as usual), and a soft visual break when you transitioned from one file to the next. It would feel like a single file!

Interface wise, gedit could allow you to group tabs into this single “multifile” mode, which lets the native tab semantics (drag to reorder, open, close, see name) reorder, add, remove and view file name, respectively. Clicking on that tab would smooth scroll you right to where that file starts. I’m not sure what the grouping/ungrouping mechanism should look like, because this will depend on what is possible/sane with GTK+.

Gedit devs, can you make this happen? I will be a happy programmer/sysadmin.

Happy hacking,


getting gedit to work like magic

i use gnu/linux. it’s probably no secret. what is more of a secret, is that i secretly (well actually not so secretly) love using gedit for editing text. i still use vim, echo (gnu bash) and emacs (but only for org-mode).

vim is really, really great. but for day to day full-screen coding, i love working in gedit. i only have one [1] longstanding gripe, and today i believe that it is solved. here is the magic combination which appeases my troubled spirit:

  • gedit smart spaces plugin [2]
  • gedit autotab plugin [3]
  • gedit modelines plugin [4]

install these, restart gedit, enable them, and happy coding!
while it will be much friendlier to use spaces for indentation, i still recommend using tabs, i mean, that’s what the 0x09 was invented for!

[1] actually i wish that everyone would just use eight-space-tabs for all their coding needs, but i realize there are some problems with this, and so i reluctantly am glad that modelines and the above magic exist.

[2] http://git.gnome.org/browse/gedit-plugins/tree/plugins/smartspaces

[3] http://code.google.com/p/gedit-autotab/

[4] http://library.gnome.org/users/gedit/stable/gedit-modelines-plugin.html.en