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Easy-to-see mouse pointer

May 24, 2018 — BarryK

I use a small 1080p TV as the monitor for my desktop system, so I run at 1920x1080 pixels. It's nice, plenty of room on the screen, except I sometimes "lose" the mouse pointer.

I then jiggle the mouse, trying to see it. I think that many people reading this can relate to the moment of frustration!

Easy and Quirky have 'Pcur', in the 'Desktop' category of the menu, for selecting a different mouse cursor theme, however, it requires the 'pcur' PET package to be installed. Those themes are installed in /root/.icons

I want a new default cursor theme, seen at first power-up of Easy/Quirky. This link explains how to install cursor themes system-wide:

...except that the correct path for Xorg is /usr/share/icons, not /usr/share/cursors/xorg-x11.

I have put the 'jaguarx' theme into rootfs-skeleton/usr/share/icons/jaguarx, with rootfs-skeleton/usr/share/icons/default setup as explained in the above link.

jaguarx is not a big mouse pointer, but is more visible than the original default. A bit of colour too, with a whirling ball when there is action.

Tags: easy, quirky

Qt5 and Scribus in next Easy Pyro

May 22, 2018 — BarryK

I received an email from John, suggesting that one gap in the app collection in Easy Pyro is a good desktop publisher. Actually, LibreOffice does a pretty good job at that, however, a specialised desktop publishing app would be nice.

Years ago, in one of the pup series, I decided to use Qt4 apps rather than progress from gtk2 to gtk3. In reflective moments, I still find myself asking what is the point of gtk3, when gtk2-based apps have no discernible disadvantage ...anyway, that is a grumble for another time.

One very important reason why I like the progression from Qt4 from gtk2, is that Qt4 can use the current gtk2 theme. This makes theming very simple. It was simply a matter of a few lines in ~/.config/Trolltech.conf:
font="DejaVu Sans,10,-1,5,50,0,0,0,0,0"
Unfortunately, that does not work for Qt5. I think that I read, that ability was taken out at 5.7. I read about it, and the solution, in the Arch Wiki:

It is required to install 'qtstyleplugins', from here:

Grab it:
git clone git:// --depth 1
# mv qtstyleplugins qtstyleplugins-20170311
# cd qtstyleplugins-20170311
# qmake PREFIX='/usr' LIBDIR='/usr/lib'
# make
# new2dir make install
# make install
...the second-last line above, is broken, need to run the last line to install all files.

I then ran scribus, the theme looks correct, however menu font is too small, so I also did this:
export QT_SCALE_FACTOR=1.2
Note, I managed to create a much smaller subset of the full Qt5 package for running scribus and smplayer, that I named 'qt5-basic'.

I plan to include scribus in the next release of Easy Pyro, that should be 0.9.3.

Tags: easy

Improving Linux Capabilities

May 20, 2018 — BarryK

I have been struggling to get Linux Capabilities to work as I want in containers. Various problems...

Applications run as "restricted root" in containers. That much is working OK, but as I want to fine-tune it, hit snags. A very significant capability that is dropped is cap_sys_admin, which among many things, drops the ability to execute mount/umount.

Unfortunately, the only way to restore mount/umount (which I might want to do in certain circumstances) is not to drop cap_sys_admin, but that is very bad because it will give restricted-root too many other powers.

This is a recognised problem, and a chap named Nicolas has created one solution, to break the mount/umount capability out of cap_sys_info, named cap_sys_mount. Some comments on his patches are negative. The patches are here:

I have compiled the 4.14.41 kernel with the cap_sys_mount patches, but it doesn't seem to work, so have sent an email to Nicolas.

Another problem is that the 'getcap' and 'setcap' utilities do not work. After much googling, I finally found a post in a forum, that CONFIG_EXT4_FS_SECURITY needs to be set in the kernel (for the case of ext4 f.s.).

No other documentation that I had read mentioned that little detail. Yes, docs stated to set CONFIG_EXT4_FS_XATTR -- though for the 4.14 kernel, that option is no longer there, as it is always set.

This is what I now have:

# CONFIG_EXT4_DEBUG is not set

Tags: easy

Audacious now in Easy Pyro

May 19, 2018 — BarryK

This is one for the audiophiles!

With Easy Pyro, I have been throwing in everything, lots of heavy-duty apps. The build has grown to 401MB, which, several years ago would have been considered way overweight by Puppy standards. The oldtimers will recall when Puppy was only 20MB!

These days though, with beginner-PCs having at least 2GB RAM, I am not so worried about the size, more about providing an out-of-the-box complete experience.

The recent Easy Pyro releases have a bit of a gap. The current release, 0.9.1, has Xine-ui and Gnome-MPV multimedia players, which do a pretty good job as music players. However, there is room here for a dedicated music player.

Most pups have Pmusic, our in-house music player created by zigbert. Some pups have Aqualung. However, I decided to do something different this time, and have gone for Audacious.

Audacious is a fully-featured music player, with heaps of plugins to do just about everything that an audiophile would want. I googled around, and found Audacious to be highly rated. Website:

I compiled it with GTK2, and also compiled 'audacious-plugins', and added a new dependency, 'mpg123' (for playing mp3 files).

The GUI is nice, but there were some icons missing. Fixed that. One thing, audacious-plugins has skins, but I couldn't see anywhere how to choose a skin.

Easy Pyro is accumulating the big apps, and still keeping the download size reasonably small. We have gimp, inkscape, libreoffice, dia, ...yeah, well, the list goes on. Any other gap in the collection?

Tags: easy

ROX-Filer right-click Open With menu

May 18, 2018 — BarryK

I should have done this years ago. The Right-click-Easy PET created by don570 has reminded me of this. I wrote about his PET recently:

Up until now, woofQ has fixed entries for the right-click Open With (or Send To) menu, that may be totally inappropriate for the file being right-clicked on. For example, Geany text editor is in the menu, but that is not appropriate for, say, an image file.

So, I have written /usr/sbin/build-rox-sendto, which builds a complete mime-sensitive Open With menu in /etc/xdg/, by reading the .desktop files in /usr/share/applications. Note, it also erases everything in /root/.config/

Now, the menu is appropriate to the type of file, for example:


Those applications are all able to open an image from the commandline. The bottom group, Bcrypt and gHasher, will appear in all cases, regardless of mime-type.

Furthermore, the menu is updated when a package is installed or removed by the PPM. The modified scripts are /usr/local/petget/ and

I kept thinking that we need this, amazing how procrastination can keep delaying something year after year!

I have removed don570's PET from the repository, as it will conflict.

EDIT 19 May 2018
Continuing to refine the context-sensitive right-click menu, lots of good things happening. For example, right-click on a PET package:

image you can see, the mime-sensitive choices appear on the top-level, no need to burrow into the "Open With..." sub-menu. For PET packages, there is now the very convenient choice of "pet2dir" which is a utility to expand the PET to a folder, or "petget" to install the PET.

Tags: easy, quirky

Xsane and MAAG for Easy Pyro

May 16, 2018 — BarryK

Easy Pyro 0.9.1 (the latest in the Pyro builds of easyOS), does not have Xsane, a scanner GUI, as I was unable to compile it in OpenEmbedded.

I have now compiled Xsane in a running Pyro 0.9.1 and created PETs. This will be in the next release. If you want it now (348KB):

There's a nice app created by rcrsn51, that I did include in Quirky I think, but has got left out of the Easy Pyro builds: MAAG. This is a GUI app for creating animated GIFs. Forum thread:

I am using version 1.6. I modified rcrsn51's PET, as Pyro does not have 'gcolor2.png'. This will also be in the next release of Pyro. If you want it now (4KB):

Tags: easy

Easy Beaver 0.9.2 released

May 15, 2018 — BarryK

For awhile now, I have been building EasyOS from binary packages compiled in my fork of OpenEmbedded. Those binary packages were imported into woofQ, my Easy (and Quirky) distro builder.

However, woofQ, like the woof-CE used for Puppy Linux, can build with any binary packages. So, I have done a build using Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver DEB packages, and named it "Easy Beaver".

It is an interesting thing to do, that some users might like, as the PETget Package Manager (known as Puppy Package manager in Puppy Linux) then has access to the huge Ubuntu DEB package repositories.

Easy Beaver 0.9.2 can be downloaded from here:

It is an image that you can write to a USB stick, as described here:

There are probably bugs, as it has had minimal testing. In particular, I don't know if all apps have their required dependencies.

There is also, something very odd. Click the icon on the desktop labeled "sfsget", to download the "devx" file, to turn Easy Beaver into a complete development environment. I did that, and compiled Geany (text editor) 1.33, choosing to link against the gtk2 libs.

However, it linked against the gtk3 libs. I can't see how that happened. The Geany configure script reported that it was using gtk2, somehow Ubuntu subverted that.

You are welcome to test and report to the forum here:

I have lots of plans for improving EasyOS, and want to get back to that. The above exercise has been a temporary diversion.

Tags: easy

Telstra $69 byo endless data mobile plan

May 10, 2018 — BarryK

There is a revolution happening here in Australia. Two of the major telcos have released "endless data" plans for mobile phones.

Apparently, there are such plans in some other countries. but this is a first for Australia.

Vodafone's endless plan is $60 per month, you get 40GB, beyond which it is shaped, that is, restricted, to 1.5mb/sec (mega-bits per second, which is about 150 kilobytes/sec):

It also includes 2000 minutes of international calls to selected countries.

This is a much better deal than Telstra, however, you do have to be in an area with a Vodafone tower not too far away.

Telstra has much better coverage in rural areas, which is one reason that they can get away with charging more. For example in one country town, Dumbleyung, Vodafone and Optus only have 3G coverage, Telstra has 4G.

The Telstra deal is also 40GB per month, tapered to 1.5mb/sec, but costs $69 per month. Also, there is no free international minutes:


I have signed up with Telstra for 12 months.

Already I have tested it on a country trip, and got continuous coverage throughout the trip.

One issue with Telstra, they use the 4G 700MHz band (B28) in most rural areas, and only one of my phones has it. Unfortunately, my favourite phone, my LG Nexus 5, does not have 700MHz.

As my phone is my only means of Internet access, and I use it as a wifi hotspot (tethering) for my desktop PC and laptops, I am very pleased to have the 40GB -- real luxury, as my prior Optus account was only 10GB per 28 days!

Yes, the Telstra endless-data plan does allow tethering.

One website that I found to be extremely helpful is this, as it enabled me to determine what frequencies the telcos were transmitting on at various rural locations:

Whistleout has excellent overage maps, that easily compare the three telcos. For example, looking at the small town of Dumbleyung:,+WA+6350&tab=postpaid

...scroll down to see the map.

Tags: tech