Monday, October 31, 2011

How To Get Kubuntu 11.10 Akonadi, Nepomuk, and Kontact All Working Correctly

Kubuntu users using 11.10 for the first time will quickly discover that there are some serious issues with the indexing system. The problem affects Kontact significantly and can cause your system to come to a crawl. Fortunately, these issues have been addressed but are not available in Canonicals standard repositories yet.

To fix the problem you need to add the KDE Backports repository and activate experimental updates.

If you are upgrading from Kubuntu 11.04 you will have to do a fresh upgrade in order to get a proper upgrade.

IN 11.04 - Backup all your Kontact Files: There is a major change in how Kontact handles, indexes and stores data between Kubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 the updated version of Kontact cannot read your files from 11.04 and you will have to export everything to be imported to the new version of Kontact later.

Boot the 11.10 CD-ROM or USB Drive Into Try Kubuntu Mode - Your going to have to do some file maitainance here first.

If you have one Linux partition mount that partition. Then use Alt+F2 key combination to open the run dialog box. Type in 'kdesu dolphin' to have root privelages in it. Navigate to the Linux partition and remove all files and directories except for the home directory.

Once that task is complete go into the home directory and then into your user directory. Tell dolphin to show hidden files and directories. You will need to remove them all. Remember that all hiiden files and directroies have a leading . before them. Example; your hidden directory that holds your KDE configuration files will have the name .kdesu

This will keep all your persnonal files intact while allowing Kubuntu 11.10 to get a fresh install. This is important since an upgrade install does not work well between 11.04 and 11.10.

If you are like me and have a separate Linux partition for home (i.e. mount point is /home) then just go into it and remove all the hidden files and folders in your user directory. You can reformat the other partitions when you do the install.

If there is more than one user on your system make sure that all necessary backups for them are done and also remove all their hidden files and directories in their user directories as well.

Once you have backed up all necessary data files and cleaned up the system as described then start the Kubuntu install.

Once Kubuntu 11.10 is installed and you have booted into your system you need to do the following:

Install the Kubuntu KDE Backports ppa - sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

Go to Applications >> Settings >> Software Sources in the menu. Click on the "Updates" tab and make sure that Pre-released updates (oneiric-proposed) and Unsupported updates (oneiric-backports) are selected. All boxes ubder "Install updates from:" should be checked.

Open Konsole and use the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

You will notice that your entire KDE install from the CD or Flash Drive install is going to be upgraded to version 4.7.2 allow this as this version has several bug fixes, including the ones needed to fix Akonadi, Nepomuk and Kontact.

After all updates have installed and the system reboots you can restore all your Kontact Data and go about getting your system setup back to where you want it.

One thing you need to know, the new version of Kontact does not play well with clamav or with spam filters (yet) so you should avoid using them for now. Otherwise you will find yourself waiting on Kmail (Kontact) constantly as it filters email everytime you run it. Kmail filters all email in your inbox everytime you download, startup or setup your personal filters. The new version of Kmail is not probably tagging files as already scanned so if its in your inbox its going to get scanned everytime Kmail does something.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Remove Akonadia in Kubuntu

Having to make a decision on where to go with using Linux without using Unity led me back to KDE. Initially I installed Kubuntu 11.04 and was pleased with several of the features but when I upgraded to 11.10 I encountered severe issues.

I liked Kmail until I did the upgrade, unknowingly I had several backend issues due to changes in the KDE PIM suite, all caused by Akonadi.

From Wikipedia Akonadi is is explained as:

Akonadi is a storage service for personal information management (PIM) data and metadata named after the oracle goddess of justice in Ghana. It is one of the “pillars” (core technologies) behind the KDE SC 4 project, although it is designed to be used in any desktop environment. It is extensible and provides concurrent read, write, and query access.

Akonadi provides unique desktop-wide object identification and retrieval.[3] It functions as an extensible data storage for all PIM applications. In KDE 3 each PIM application had different data storage and handling methods, which led to several implementations of essentially the same features. Besides data storage, Akonadi has several other components including search, and a library (cache) for easy access and notification of data changes.

Akonadi communicates with servers to fetch and send data instead of applications through a specialized API. Data can then be retrieved from Akonadi by a model designed to collect a specific data (mail, calendar, contacts, etc.). The application itself is made of viewers and editors to display data to the user and let them input data. Akonadi also supports metadata created by applications.

Because Akonadi takes care of data storage and retrieval, which are traditionally the difficult parts of creating a PIM application, development of PIM applications is made much easier. In fact, the Mailody developer Tom Albers demonstrated how a mail reader could be created in only 10 minutes using Akonadi.

That's all fine and dandy, except for one huge and very important detail, its murder on the CPU resources. My duo core did not drop below 93% the whole time it was active. It severely affected my network speed, graphics, disk and memory access. When I setup Clam and Spamassasin in Kmail it bogged down so bad I couldn't use it. To make matters worse I couldn't shut it down without killing any KDE PIM service to boot. Finally, in Kubuntu anyway, removing it via apt would remove half of KDE as well. Oh I was not pleased by this.

There was no doubt Akonadi had to go. I removed all KDE PIM applications, which irked me bad because I did want them, but they were useless to me with Akonadi completely tied to them. Installed Thunderbird and manually removed all Akonadi bin files in /usr/bin/ and removed the akonadi folder in /usr/share/ (kdesu dolphin can do wonders)

Result is my average CPU state is back down below 10% when I'm not running intense Multimedia or graphic applications and still well below 50% when I do. In other words I can run my computer normally and not worry about overheating my CPU which Akonadi was definitely doing.

This is an example of a good idea badly implemented and released prematurely. If Akonadi stopped indexing and scanning its data base when PIM applications didn't need the service then it might have been useful. But between it and Neopuk there was no downtime for the CPU. Since I use a laptop that's just absolutely unacceptable. Bad enough there is still a power management bug in the Linux Kernel causing issues, I sure don't need a data base indexer causing even more of an issue and killing my battery even faster.

Yes I am staying with KDE (Kubuntu) but I won't be using Kontact. Which really is a shame because Thunderbird does not replace it completely. However, i can read my email, setup functional spam filtering and anti-virus scanning without making computer bog down so much that a 486 using Windows XP actually runs faster.

I'm all for shared resource technology, it makes a lot of sense. However, it shouldn't eat up resources like Akonadi does.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Desktop Enviroment Group Posted at

Base Specifications for the Free Desktop Environment

1. Any Desktop Environment needs a set of standards to determine the development path it will take. This specification is currently a rough draft of ideas and concepts. This is a beginning phase draft designed for interested parties to begin conception of a new Desktop Environment.

2. The following however, are base requirements for this DE:

Must follow and use all Open Desktop Specifications
Must use Compiz-Fusion for 3D, desktop effects and animations
Must use Emerald for theme Decorations
Must be OpenGL compliant
Must be user configurable to create the look, style and layout they desire
Must be user friendly but allow for advanced options for power users
Must not use any other Desktop Environment's tools and confguration applications
Development of tools to ease the creation of themes, including cursors and icons
Include integration with WINE using links to library files that handle the functions required to run the desired programs
Must fully Comply with Fitts' Law
Must be portable to work with any windowing system such as Xorg, Wayland, Xfree2k and others.

3. This DE needs to incorporate ideas and features found in Gnome, KDE, Xfce, LDE and all other DE environments used by *NIX systems. These features need to be properly evaluated for their usefulness and ability to enhance the Free Desktop Environment not just add features. If the feature does not add quality and desired ability then another solution or method needs to be utilized instead.

4. The DE must look at several sources for inspiration, ideas and concepts. Not only from DEs but from distribution specific implications of tools, layouts and designs as well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Switching From Gnome 2 To Xfce

Switching to another Desktop Environment can create some havoc. Especially finding replacement programs, applets and utilities one had previously but in some cases those options are no longer viable for any number of reasons.

Switching to Xubuntu I incorporated the following changes to my software line up;


When I switched from Gnome to Xfce I initially spent some time getting things set back up. I originally installed Evolution but that became a problem when I tried to fix a minor issue. I was going to do a reinstall of Evolution as part of the fix but dependencies somehow got broken. I decided to install Thunderbird to handle my email while I looked into the issue. Instead I discovered that Thunderbird had matured considerably and now had available the features I needed, plus others I didn't have with either Kontact or Evolution previously. Since Xubuntu used Thunderbird as its default email client I decided to go ahead and make it my default as well. With available add-ons I was not only able to get the features I needed and wanted but others that produced a better experience for me overall. The following is a list of the add-ons I have installed:

Adblock Plus
Contacts Sidebar (Not available at Mozilla site. Must be obtained at developers website.)
Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus
Firetray (I used AllTray in Gnome for Evolution and it didn't work so well in Xfce. This add-on works better and has user configurable options you will never see in AllTray.)
Image Zoom
Lightning (I removed the Xubuntu version of this add-on and installed the one from Mozilla. I highly suggest you do this as well since this add-on is under heavy development you will want to get and use the latest stable copy available.)
Mail Merge
Mail Tweak
Message Faces for Thunderbird
Provider for Microsoft Exchange
Timezone Definitions for Mozilla Calendar (This is a required add-on. DO NOT REMOVE)
.vcs Support


Sadly this was an applet I found extremely useful but in order to get it into Xcfe required an install of most of the Gnome Core system which I was not willing to do. The good news is I found this neat little utility that is actually better and does not require dbus access to function. You can configure it to automatically run when certain programs start as well.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:caffeine-developers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install caffeine


There is a plugin for Thunar to access Dropbox available here:

Get the latest tarball version and follow the instructions on the website to build and install it.


I just can't get Gwibber to work and this is due in part to new Twitter sign in security requirements. Thankfully a new Linux Native Twitter Client just came on the scene. It has some very nice features while being surprisingly lightweight. Its called Hotot and is available via Launchpad:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hotot-team
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install hotot


I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. The following Blog Post has the correct information on how to get Emerald working on Natty. (Any version of Natty)


Its not Gnome but then with Gnome 3 changing to Gnome Shell and Ubunty defaulting to Unity I wanted a Desktop Environment that allowed me to have the workflow, look and feel I wanted. Xfce has provided that for me and using the above applications, utilities and blog posts have allowed me to keep those functions I had grown accustomed to having.

Many others have expressed the same opinion concerning Unity and Gnome 3. So this post is to help anyone who wants to keep a similar layout like the one they currently have under Gnome 2. Xfce just may be the answer for you.

Its certainly worth looking into.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

XFCE - The Mouse That Works

Like just like three years ago when KDE 4 came on the scene I am finding myself being forced to move onto another Desktop Environment. However, unlike last time many of the alternative environments have matured significantly and this allowed me look them over with a happier feeling that I wouldn't be left to far out where my productivity would suffer.

Three years ago Xfce was decent but lacked in features I needed. Today that's changed with Xfce 4.8. The only real issues I faced was finding solutions to my personal needs and taste that replaced Gnome based functions that required me to basically load Gnome itself. Don't get me wrong here I have several Gtk apps installed, many of which were created with Gnome in mind. What I'm saying is that getting certain functions implemented were not easy unless I was willing to also install Gnome. Being that the idea here is to replace my Desktop Environment I really wasn't willing to do that. Since Xfce is Gtk based I really had no issue with using Gtk based apps but installing Gnome wasn't going to happen.

Thank God for Google as I have been able to find plug ins, and applications that fulfilled the needs and saved me from having to install Gnome alongside Xfce. (I will write about this on another post.)

While there are some things about Xfce that are still in my learning curve I am actually happy with it overall. Though there are a couple of things that I feel need to be addressed.

1. To dependent on Gnome for system settings and functions. Xfce developers may not see a need to reinvent the wheel but use of another Desktop Environment to gain access to system settings, functions and configuration is just not a good idea in the grand scheme of things. Requiring the libraries and tools that force a parallel install of another Windows Manager is just asking for trouble, especially in the event that things become incompatible. Which is very likely to happen with Gnome 3 when it becomes the default Gnome system. (Which is starting to happen now. Main stream distros will soon be replacing Gnome 2, before the end of this year.)

2. I don't mind simplicity but I would like to see more options in the few settings apps that are Native to Xfce. It would also be nice to have a way to install themes, icons and cursors without having to do it manually, or using the Gnome tools.

3. Better integration and by this Xfce developers need to develop the tools for various program hooks like LibreOffice/OpenOffice, Firefox and other programs so that they function correctly within the Windows Manager. This also includes having the system tell applications where the panel(s) are located. For some reason all my tray apps assume the panel is on top where my panel is at the bottom. When I open them again they drop down slightly and it gets annoying. LibreOffice had a whole different issue, the title bar was off the top of the screen. I did get this fixed but its obvious that Xfce is not reporting coordinates to applications correctly. On this note it would be nice to see a Compiz plugin for Xfce. Xfce developers themselves need to take the lead on these or work with others to implement this.

My final gripe was something I saw from an Xfce developer to a user. A user was asking if there was a replacement for Gnome-Applet-Sleep-Inhibitor (By the way I did find a solution to this. Its called Caffeine The user was told to use the Gnome-Applet because there was no need to create a separate applet for Xfce. What the developer is not understanding is to use that applet you have to install the Gnome-Power-Manager, which requires that you install most of the Gnome Core features. Since the idea is to replace Gnome and not install it I was more than a bit upset by this statement. If that is the kind of support the Xfce community is giving then Xfce will always be nothing more than an alternative low end Desktop Environment.

Despite the above I find there are a great many things I like about Xfce. Its easy to configure and modify when you finally figure out how. You can make it look the way you want without to many issues. Honestly the only way I can tell the difference between my current Xfce desktop and my old Gnome desktop is the Icons in my Notification Tray and how they act.

One major kudo is the Xfce Weather Applet. I love how it gives more complete data without having to actually open the interface. With the animations turned on it has a nice affect down in the panel. Though I would like to see a radar map added to the interface I do like the forecast window a lot more than Gweather.

If you, like me, aren't happy with where Gnome is going with Gnome 3 and prefer to have the options to make your desktop layout like you want, then Xfce is a good option to look at. Its not a perfect replacement but I do have my system setup and ready for work. Xfce three years ago wasn't mature enough for that but with the recent 4.8 release it is now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Linux Mint Debian Review and How To

1 Overview:

After thinking long and hard about the changes that Canonical plans with their 11.04 release I finally decided it was time to move on to another distribution. The problem, finding one that suited my needs and at the same time kept a level of familiarity I was used to with Ubuntu. However, I also wanted more control over my system and its configuration.

I knew I wanted to stay with a Debian base and specifically wanted it to be based on Sid. I looked at Aptosid (formally Sidux) and a few others but many of the tools I wanted weren't available. Then I discovered Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE).

I will be straight forward, this distribution is not for beginners and should never be considered for general use in an office setting. It is usable but considered unstable so things will break here and there with the updates since its based on Debian's testing repositories. Its for those of us who look to get as close to bleeding edge as possible and enjoy challenges in solving issues in our computing environment. This distribution is definitely for tech savvy users. Once installed and setup just about anybody can use it easily, but keeping things running takes some real knowledge, and a willingness to look for and implement some pretty radical solutions. This includes compiling source code to keep things working correctly.

Now let me say this, Linux Mint has always been a solid Ubuntu based distribution, and the Debian edition is pretty solid as well. Though there are some pretty big issues to deal with once its installed.

One thing about LMDE I find highly appealing is that its a rolling release. This means, unless you have a major issue occur, that you no longer need to reinstall the OS as the updates keep it up to date with the latest version (which are snapshots taken of the current files which you should have. Providing you keep it updated.)

2 Getting And Installing Linux Mint Debian Edition:

LMDE is released as a DVD iso and can be downloaded from here -

Once you download and burn the DVD (you can also put it on a USB thumb drive if you desire) then boot from the media to the Live Desktop and double click the installer.

I discovered a minor glitch while installing, even though I used the advanced option to setup my hard drive with gparted, the installer still forced me to format the drive again and set my mount points (i.e. / /home and swap partitions.) So if you do need to use gparted to set the partitions don't bother to set the mount points or format them. Instead to just set your partitions with gparted and then do the rest with the installer.

Installation itself is smooth and very quick. The real issues occur once its installed.

3 After Initial Install (Setting Up The System):

Because of differences in Debian's system and Installer compared to Ubuntu the first thing you will have issues with is that not everything the system needs to be fully functional gets installed. Also you may find that wireless isn't working because of this as well, laptop users will have to hard plug into a network. So your first step is to install all the missing recommended files. Synaptic is installed so you can use it to select them and install. Once the recommended files gets installed and things start working right then you can go back and remove any cruft (unwanted and unneccessary files) to clean things up.

If you use a laptop and require proprietary drivers for wireless (like I do) you can then get those installed. Once you do a restart it should bring up the wireless. Be aware the drivers I used for Ubuntu are not the drivers I needed with LMDE as LMDE now follows Debian for the system and therefore driver packages aren't put together to handle several different WiFi cards and are instead packaged as they were originally developed. You will need to find out which package is appropriate for your wireless under Debian, not Ubuntu. I would like to also note my wireless actually works much better under LMDE than it did in Ubuntu.

You probably noticed by this point that LMDE has no startup splash screen by default. Plymouth is not installed but is available in the repositories.

"sudo apt-get install plymouth plymouth-themes-all v86d"

Next to get plymouth working correctly you need to setup and configure the system.

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Then copy and past the following over the current entries;

# If you change this file, run 'update-grub' afterwards to update
# /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
#GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="splash vga=788"

# Uncomment to enable BadRAM filtering, modify to suit your needs
# This works with Linux (no patch required) and with any kernel that obtains
# the memory map information from GRUB (GNU Mach, kernel of FreeBSD ...)

# Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)

# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'

# Uncomment if you don't want GRUB to pass "root=UUID=xxx" parameter to Linux

# Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entries

# Uncomment to get a beep at grub start
#GRUB_INIT_TUNE="480 440 1"

Now run the following commands;

sudo echo FRAMEBUFFER=y | sudo tee /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/splash
sudo update-grub2
sudo update-initramfs -u

Restart to make sure Plymouth is running correctly.

I created a Plymouth Splash for LMDE which can be found at

To install and use this theme after downloading and unpacking it use the following commands;

sudo cp -R LMDE/ /usr/share/plymouth/themes/
sudo /usr/sbin/plymouth-set-default-theme LMDE
sudo update-initramfs -u

You will now have a complete base system with an appropriate boot splash.

Now comes the issue of repositories for software. Since its easier to just show you what repositories I use by posting my sources.list file I am going to do so;

deb debian main upstream import backport romeo
deb testing main contrib non-free
deb testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb testing main non-free

################### OFFICIAL DEBIAN REPOS ###################

###### Debian Main Repos
deb main contrib non-free

###### Debian Update Repos
deb /updates main contrib non-free
deb -proposed-updates main contrib non-free

##################### UNOFFICIAL REPOS ######################

###### 3rd Party Binary Repos

#### Bimoid -
## Run this command: wget -O - | apt-key add -
deb stable non-free

#### Debian Multimedia -
## Run this command: apt-get update && apt-get install debian-multimedia-keyring && apt-get update
deb sid main non-free

#### Google Linux Software Repositories -
## Run this command: wget -q -O - | apt-key add -
deb stable non-free main

#### Google Linux Software Repositories (Testing) -
## Run this command: wget -q -O - | apt-key add -
deb testing non-free

#### Unofficial Maintainer -
## Run this command: wget -q -O - | apt-key add -
deb sid main contrib non-free restricted

#### Wine -
## Run this command: wget -O - | apt-key add -
deb sid main

# deb ./

deb sid main contrib non-free

deb stable main

4 Final Review:

I am extremely happy with LMDE and even though I have a lot more to do to get things working the way I want overall I'm impressed. One thing I did was replace gdm3 with gdm. This allowed me to make use of GDM themes and I am using this one,

For my icons I am using the following,

Finally for gtk2 I went with this theme,

The total combined affect is impressive and very pleasent to the eyes.

The above information simply gets LMDE to a complete base system that is both functional and enjoyable. I have been able to get all the programs I use installed, including LibreOffice (instead of OpenOffice) and I am back up and running. Currently my only issue is getting Compiz and Emerald up and running. The version in the repository is older and buggy. I am going to have to compile and install the latest version myself, but that's another how to.

For experienced Linux users and those looking to step up LMDE is an excellent choice for a personal system.