Arch Linux on ThinkPad T440s



Arch-linux-on-thinkpad-t440s I recently got the opportunity to choose a new laptop and after some intensive research I choosed a ThinkPad T440s, mainly due to the combination of a strong i7 CPU, 12 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD and 1.6 kg weight. It might not be as pretty as a ZenBook, but it's looks way better than the old IBM ThinkPads anyhow.

Of course I wanted to run Arch Linux on this baby so after some dribbling with Windows 8 freeing up enough space to install Linux I gave it a shot.
As always stuff changes and things like BIOS and MBR have been replaced by UEFI and GPT which made me spend more time than I expected on the initial steps of the installation process.

After having that sorted out the next hurdle to overcome was to successfully install dm-crypt + LUKS. That also required a bit of head banging until I stumble upon this great guide.

After that installing the rest of the software, including the best desktop environment out there: Cinnamon, went pretty smoothly. Much thanks to the fact that I'm having all my essential config files on Dropbox, which just meant creating a bunch of symlinks.

Another big issue was that the WiFi connection dropped every now and then. After talking to a friend with the same model he recommended disabling the n band, which made the connection much more stable.

A final issue was the notorious ClickPad which's kind of useless out of the box in Arch Linux. This nice blog post have a good Xorg config to make it a whole lot better.

I must admit that there was a weak moment during the installation process where I jealously glanced over at the people around me running OS X triumphing that everything "just worked". However, I know that this was an investment I will get back many times over now that I'm running a kick ass configuration that will take my productivity to even higher levels. I just hope I don't have to install a new Linux machine any time soon ;)

Syncing custom commands with Dropbox



Anybody that have used Linux for more than a while knows about the power of shell scripting.
I have currently 97 custom scripts in my bin folder. Most of these are just small combination of commands that I frequently use, but I've also have some more complicated scripts such as a script for switching the display to my TV screen and starting various HTPC services, increasing fonts on terminals and editors and so on.

As I'm running Arch Linux on several machines I looked for a way to sync my scripts and also have them always available.

The way I solved this was very simple. First I created a folder in my Dropbox called bin, then I added that folder to my $PATH variable.
You can do this either locally by adding

to your .bashrc file or you could add it globally by creating a new script in the /etc/profiles.d folder containing
export PATH=$PATH:/home/username/Dropbox/bin

where username is the name of the user that has Dropbox configured.

Skype on Arch 64-bit



I was having some trouble getting Skype to work on my Arch Linux x86_64 machine, but I manged to get it sorted out. Here is how I solved it:
yaourt -S bin32-skype

then when trying to run it I got the error message
skype: error while loading shared libraries: libXv.so.1: wrong ELF class: \\

To see which libraries were missing I used the command
ldd /usr/bin/skype | grep not

which returned
libXv.so.1 => not found
libXss.so.1 => not found

Aha! So I then installed these with Yaourt
yaourt -S lib32-libxv lib32-libxss

and voilá, Skype is running natively!

Gnome 3



Gnome-3 Like most Linux users I like to experiment with different distributions, window managers, terminals and so on.
Back in 2005 when I first start to use Linux as my primary desktop, I ran Gnome 2 on my Ubuntu 5.04, as it was included as default. When Compiz then came along I was very excited by its cool 3D effects and spent hours on getting it to run and behave as I liked.
Then later on I was curious to try something else. I glanced a bit at KDE, but found it to be (and still does) too cluttred and glossy.
I then ran FluxBox and OpenBox for a while and was pleased by its simplicity, but missed the 3D effects provided by Compiz.
Then I turned to Xfce as it was more lightweigth than Gnome 2, but was compatible with Compiz. Since then I have been running Xfce/Compiz for some time now.
However, when I read about the all new and shiny Gnome 3 I saw that it has start to combine the elements I like both from Xfce and Compiz.

So after running Gnome 3 for a couple of days this is what I think:

  • The structure of the new Gnome Shell is very nice and simplistic. The overview and desktop search functionality gives you easy access to all your programs and windows
  • The clock and build in integration with the calendar in the status bar is awesome and gives you a good overview of the current schedule
  • The vertical tiling functionality of windows (á la Window 7) is also something I been missing in Linux. Nice!
  • The GUI feels overall very responsive and stable

  • Settings dialogs! Hey, I love my terminal, but sometimes you just want a rich settings interface with nice buttons and sliders instead of hacking a bunch of text files that you have to find first. This is certainly the biggest flaw of Gnome 3. The so called Gnome Control Center contains far too few settings to please a power user like me. This comes like a bit of a surprise as Gnome 2 had a very rich settings manager. Well, I hope new settings will be added continuously to give the user more control (and we all love control, don't we?)
  • Poor selection of extensions. This does of course also have to to with the maturity of Gnome 3 and I am sure that more will come along
  • Coming from "the desktop cube" world of Compiz and not being able to use horizontal vertical desktops creates a bit of annoyance

Overall, Gnome 3 has a high potential and I will continue to use it and is hoping for new exciting features and improvements soon. But for now Gnome 3 is a bit as Chrome was in the beginning stable but lacking of extensions and configuration.