Conky Manager

Well, it’s been a long hiatus! With a new job and Summer and kids, the last three months just flew by!

And the world of Linux is ever moving along.

This evening I’d like to draw your attention to a very useful application, and something I’ve been hoping would come along for quite a while now. I’ve mentioned Conky before, a lightweight system monitor for the X window system that can display all kinds of information about your computer hardware, operating system, network, weather forecasts and more on the desktop. It can display any kind of information or graphics and there are tons of Conky scripts you can download and run in Linux operating systems. I’ve tinkered around a tiny bit with some of these scripts to change what and how Conky displays information, but I never felt ambitious enough to learn the scripting language to make my own Conky scripts from scratch. And there was no GUI application for lazy bums like me to make using Conky easier. Until now!

Conky04_2013-09-05 09:10:30

Conky Manager is a cool little app that makes adding Conky to your desktop a breeze. Conky itself can be installed from most Linux distros, or if you use an Ubuntu or Debian based distro use the Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager to install. Then check out the Conky Manager website. All the info you need is there, plus a link to install a huge number of extra Conky Manager scripts. The application gives you many options for tweaking the scripts, too. On my computer running Zorin OS 6.2/Ubuntu 12.04, some of the CM scripts don’t run quite right, though, or they’ll run briefly when I check them and then quit. But most of them work fine, like one of my favorites called ‘Pencil’ above, a variation of the ‘Gotham’ Conky theme.

And here’s some more info from WebUpd8 on extra Conky scripts and updates. There are many very different and very wild visual styles you can use to decorate your beautiful Linux desktop. Go nuts!

My Experience with Zorin OS 6.2

I’m finally back after a long delay, and a lot has been going on in he Linux world over the past month: Ubuntu Touch, Ubuntu Phone, a new release of OpenSuse, the demise of Google Reader, to name a few.

But also during these last few weeks I decided to install another operating system on the main computer I share with my wife. This decision came about because, while attempting to run a back-up with Grsync, I discovered the mount point to ‘/media/Backup’ (my external hard drive) had mysteriously changed, and was now located at ‘/media/davey (my home directory)/Backup’. Naturally, I got error messages that ‘/media/Backup’ could not be accessed.

I’m sad to say that it had been a while (too long) since my last back-up. But sometime since then, an update of the kernel seems to have changed the USB mount point in my Voyager Linux. It was simple to change the back-up path in Grsync from ‘/media/Backup’ to ‘/media/davey/Backup’ and then Grsync worked without a hitch for me. But we have another user account on this computer, and when I logged into my wife’s account and tried to run her Home folder back-up through /media/my_home_directory, I got an error message of ‘permissions denied’. See here and here for more info.

I tried creating a symlink as suggested, but it still didn’t work. I tried other suggestions, some of which were a little beyond my understaning, again with no success! I just could not find a way to run a simple back-up for the secondary user account, and it got me really cheesed off! Why do they change things that work to something that doesn’t? I suspect this has caused problems with a lot of Ubuntu-based distro users. I certainly hope this is changed by the time Ubuntu 13.04 is released next month!

So to make this long story a little shorter– I just decided to install another OS. I checked around for one that did not use this new /media mount point, (even Linux Mint 14 had changed to /media/username/). I was seriously considering installing Fuduntu 2013.1, and I would have except there are one or two applications that I really like that are not in the Fuduntu repositories (yet).  Then I considered Zorin OS.

I had recently installed Zorin OS Lite (which uses LXDE) on a very old Dell laptop, and it runs quite nicely. I’ve liked Zorin OS for quite a while, and since Zorin OS 6.2 just came out, I decided to go with that on the main machine.

My experience with Zorin OS 6.2 over the last two weeks has been pretty darn nice! Zorin is based on Ubuntu 12.04, so the ‘/media/Backup’ mount point is back, and running a backup for my wife just works once again! But beside that, Zorin OS is very user-friendly. They use their own fork of Gnome 3 Shell. While I’m not a fan of Gnome 3, this gives a relatively good balance between usability and  configurability. I was surprised to find compiz activated by default and working very nicely without having to install the proprietary Nvidia driver! The newer versions of the open-source Nouveau drivers have come a long way! Desktop effects, even wobbly windows, work out of the box. Plus all the applications I wanted were a breeze to install.

I was able to change permissions on some of my wife’s configuration files with the “sudo chown” terminal commands so I could copy them to the Backup external drive, and then back again to the new user account I created. After a few hours of tweaking and copying files from the back-up, this new installation of Zorin looks and works great. Also, it’s based on Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Release.

ZorinOS_Screenshot

The only thing I’m not completely happy with about Zorin OS 6.2 is that it still uses Avant Window Navigator (AWN) as a bottom panel. This is probably a better option than Gnome panel, but AWN is no longer maintained, so a few things don’t work any more, like the weather forecast applet. In the screenshot above I decided to use the Clearweather screenlet to replace it. I haven’t used Screenlets in a few years, but if you don’t mind stuff on your desktop, it does the job. I also tweaked AWN’s theme and settings a bit so I like the look of it better. I’m hoping in the next version, Zorin OS will switch from AWN to Cairo Dock, as Fuduntu has done. I’ve also changed from the default Zorin GTK theme to Delorean-Dark and added a simple conky script (bottom left) I found on the web.

UPDATE: I just discovered that Zorin OS Core already comes with Cairo Dock installed. And it’s installed from the PPA, because it just updated today with the new version of Cairo Dock. That’s pretty cool! But for now, AWN is working just fine for me, so I guess I’ll keep using it for a while.

Beside that, and a couple of perplexing error messages last week, which didn’t amount to anything, I’m quite pleased with Zorin OS. I’m still thinking of eventually installing Solus OS 2 when it is released (which may be sooner than I originally thought)! But for now I’m very happy with Zorin OS! It’s a great user-friendly distro for new or more experienced Linux users.