December 22, 2008
Per my last post, I spent the greater part of the morning customizing Xfce for my office desktop. An annoying quirk I noticed is that Xfce sets Alt-Del and Alt-Space as default keyboard shortcuts for some window manager functions. In Emacs, Alt-Del is supposed to delete the word before the cursor. I tried doing this several times today, only to find myself reduced to one workspace, with the programs from the other workspaces suddenly popping into the one I was working in. I eventually figured out that Alt-Del deletes a workspace from Xfce every time it’s invoked (it will not, of course, delete the only workspace left, if you have only one). Alt-Space, which sets markers in Emacs, does something more benign — I used it many times without noticing any changes.
In any case, to save my future self or others the trouble of Googling for the solution, you can restore the functionality of Alt-Del and Alt-Space in Emacs by customizing the keyboard shortcuts in Xfce’s Window Manager settings. Confusingly, Xfce has two places to configure keyboard shortcuts — one under the Keyboard settings, and one under Window Manager –> Keyboard. It’s the latter you need to disable the shortcuts that interfere with Emacs.
Another thing — the latest Xfce installations don’t seem to come with a default panel that includes shortcuts to the web browser and the terminal. You have to add them yourself to the empty panel, and to do this you need the command for the application. It took me some time to figure out what command would invoke a terminal, since I’ve never invoked a terminal from the command line! I’m using gnome-terminal now, but if you have it installed, you can use xfce-terminal, or even the minimalist xterm.
In other news, I am very, very sick of C++.
December 19, 2008
I’ve been having problems with Gnome and Firefox 3 crashing in Ubuntu Hardy Heron. The Firefox crashes don’t bother me much, since upon restart Firefox remembers the tabs that were open before the crash. Gnome crashing, however, is annoying — I lose all the processes that were running beforehand, and some programs cannot be restarted after I immediately log into a new session of Gnome (they can be restarted only after I restart the computer, rather than just starting a new Gnome session).
So I’m going back to Xfce. I’d used Xubuntu Dapper Drake before on the old desktop with limited RAM they dumped on me when I started work, and Xfce never crashed.
I also installed Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex on my 256MB RAM, ancient Dell laptop. It was practically frozen on Windows XP, but runs at a passable speed with Xubuntu. I was driven to do this because I’m sick of using Windows while Applecare takes forever with my Macbook.
I still prefer OS X to Ubuntu, but I’m not at all happy that Apple wanted to charge me the equivalent of US$200 to backup my data and reinstall the OS. (I told them to just change the defective hard disk, a free service under the warranty, and screw the data — I have all the important bits backed up anyway.) Also, I was inadvertently left with time to kill in an Apple store recently, and, strolling the aisles, was struck by how evil their marketing was. So I’m reconsidering giving more money to Apple for my next laptop.
Update: After 8(!) working days, I have my Macbook back with a new hard disk, and a Leopard installation as a bonus (I only had Tiger beforehand). Does not make up for the long delay and the generally bad service from the frontline staff, but a nice silver lining nonetheless.
December 28, 2007
My MacBook is about 16 months old now, and already I’ve had to deal with the following issues:
- Two hard disk failures
- Splitting of handrest area
- Failure of internal microphone (it seemed to work for a minute after resetting the SMC, but quickly stopped responding to my test noises again, and has failed to work on subsequent resettings of both SMC and NVRAM)
And why, why am I able to use Gmail Chat in Safari for one Gmail account, but not for another? I can’t even change anything under the settings for the latter account to enable Gmail chat when I’m using Safari — the ‘Chat’ options tab is not available.
I am almost sure that my next laptop will be running Linux only.
August 3, 2007
I have been quite spoilt by TeXShop on Mac OS X. I have used Emacs + TeX on Linux before but find it extremely user-unfriendly compared to TeXShop. It appears that TeXLive is one of the more popular LaTeX alternatives for Linux, but for some undefinable reason I’ve not been terribly excited by what I’ve read about TeXLive. And I’m tired of Googling for reviews of TexLive or other Linux LaTeX frontends, so this is a last wave for help before I give up and do all my typesetting on my MacBook rather than on my work PC. (I’m lazy about lugging my MacBook to and from work, but since I miserably failed to install VMD on Xubuntu Dapper Drake, and I can’t abide Windows, and they provide only PCs here, I might as well get used to retreating to Mac OS X for the right mix of security, programming tools, and usability.)
Update 18/10/09: I now use AucTeX with Emacs, and am pretty satisfied.