And there Amarok goes again…

January 20, 2010

Of course, after yesterday’s post, I notice that Amarok doesn’t load half of my music when it starts. Only a complete rescan of my music folder solves the problem.

Funny, it always “deletes” the same music… . Anyway, back to square one.


From Gtk to Qt: Amarok, Knetworkmanager, and Kopete

January 19, 2010

I’ve blogged before how I think Gtk applications are superior to their Qt counterparts, but since I’m using KDE pretty much exclusively since October last year, I’m always on the lookout for good Qt apps.

The main application I keep returning to is Amarok because, and let’s be honest here, there’s not alternative in Qt. I keep on installing it, and I keep rejecting it, and then a few months later I install it again. The last couple of times I noticed an improvement: instead of a buggy, slow, unintuitive mess it’s now quite stable, fast and…well, it’s still unintuitive. But at least it works now.
Another thing I mentioned before is how much I detest the default layout. Let’s have a look at the screenshot of version 2.2.2, straight from the Amarok homepage.

Amarok: Default layout

Amarok: Default layout

The main focus here is the information pane, which is just wrong. It’s a music player. It plays music, ergo the focus should be on the music you’re playing. Right now there’s so much information showing in that screenshot it doesn’t even have enough room to show it all. Are you constantly scrolling up and down when you’re listening to music? I know I’m not. I’m doing other things, and the music’s in the background.
Fortunately, the layout is now very customisable, which means you can choose something more sane (and doesn’t show album covers everywhere). Case in point:

Amarok: My layout

Amarok: My layout

I’ll be the first to admit that looks a lot more boring. It also shows a lot more music, and I find that this layout works for me, so I’m keeping it. Behind all that form-over-function and visual hoopla, there’s actually a very decent music player. I keep on discovering more and more features I really like. It seems like my long, long search for a decent Qt media player is finally over.

Another Gtk application I’ve replaced is wicd, the lightweight network manager. I didn’t replace it because I didn’t like it (I still run it on my netbook), but because I kept ending up without any network connection at boot. A reboot would solve the problem, but understandably it drove me absolutely crazy. I even suspected hardware failure, but a quick install of Sidux on a seperate partition showed no problems at all. At long last, I replaced wicd with Knetworkmanager. It’s a KDE front-end for Networkmanager (duh), developed by SuSe, and it has the good sense of putting itself in the systray where it belongs, instead of the plasmoid with the same function.
To my utter amazement, there’s no package available for Arch, not even in the AUR. Installing the Chakra package will complain about some missing dependencies, but it works anyway, so that’s what I’m using now. The network problems haven’t returned.

One app I didn’t replace is Pidgin. Kopete works fine for me now (it used to complain that my password for MSN was wrong when it wasn’t), but it doesn’t have a couple of features I want. One I can forgive is that it doesn’t allow you to save and use other people’s moving smileys. However, I want to be able to cycle between chat-tabs using ctrl-tab, something I couldn’t even find in the Kopete shortcuts. That means that at the moment, I’m staying with Pidgin.


Howto: Use Windows 7 desktop themes in Linux

January 9, 2010

Okay, this one is actually incredibly easy, but still, it was fun when I found out.

Windows 7 is by no means my favourite OS, but in my opinion it has some very “desktop themes”, packs of wallpapers which after install will rotate on your desktop. In Windows, it’s as simple as clicking “Download”, after which the pack will unzip itzelf and show up somewhere in your Appearance settings.

When I downloaded one in Arch, Ark recognised it as a zipfile, but didn’t recognise the .themepack extension. After some googling, I found out that the zip format is actually 7-zip, so simply renaming the extension to 7z does the trick (if you have p7zip installed, of course). KDE and GNOME can do rotating backgrounds too, so the rest should be easy.

Like I said, obvious really, but I liked it.

Latest KDE with a wallpaper from one of the Eastern desktop themes
Latest KDE with a wallpaper from one of the Eastern desktop themes