The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

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The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby shane on Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:06 pm

hi all!

sorry for not being active here... it has been due to a combination of factors, including my own fault for slacking off... however, i do work on Mint Fb during my free time which is kind of hard to come by nowadays.

i have decided not to release Mint FB Final version for the following reasons:

1. i was facing the problem of open office which is automatically installed by ubiquity during the system install... it took me a while to trace the problem... which i eventually found. the thing is once a language is selected in ubiquity at the beginning of the installation, ubiquity automatically selects the dictionaries of the language to be installed... including the dictionaries for open office... which installed open office to satisfy dependencies... the problem was upstream in ubuntu... and so there wasn't much i could do... one way was to have ubiquity autoselect 'no localization' during the install but that would mean an english only install and had to be done by preseeding the kernel... and i wasn't having much success with that. the other way to stop this was to do the installation without an internet connection but that gave some errors with gdm because some localization files were not installed... now this problem wasn't there when i started... but creeped up later after some package updates...

yeah so this is what had me stumped the most... and it got quite frustrating...

2. Ubuntu Hardy's release date kept creeping closer and closer meaning that Mint FB 4 would become old pretty quick. right now Hardy final is only 2 days away.

Mint FB 4 Beta is a very hacked together distro... by that i mean that Mint Gnome 4.0 got converted to Mint XFCE 4 which then got churned into Mint FB 4... so things started getting messy under the skin pretty quick. after a chat i had with merlwiz i decided to build a new iso from the ground up based on Hardy... The Beta 4 still had a few bugs so i thought i would wait a bit... i have since got the Xubuntu release candidate which comes installed with AbiWord and Gnumeric by default (it was Open Office before) so i think they have sorted out the localizations/dictionaries/ubiquity issue... and that should make things a lot easier.

thats about where i stand right now... i do apologize for my silence.

i have a few ideas to make Mint FB less dependent on Gnome or XFCE. ATM I am using config tools from these DEs and they pull their own dependencies along... which makes keeping the ISO small a hard thing to do. so the aim here would be basically building our own config tool. that would mean some parsing skills in python which i dont have... if someone could help me out with this that would be great! as for now i am going to go with XFCE tools.

sorry again for the silence... there was just no progress to talk about...

cheers.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Guest on Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:28 pm

Thanks for the update. Hopefully there will be a release schedule forthcoming, that would be great!

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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby shane on Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:52 pm

I tried to work with the latest Xubuntu Hardy RC... but the dependency problems were still there... it is strange since Xubuntu now comes without OO by default... and no one had picked up this problem till now. Anyway, I reported the bug to the devs yesterday and bugged them on IRC today... they've found the problem but it is too late for a fix to be implemented in the final release. That means, this problem will persist until version *buntu 8.04.1.

We could have OO installed by default or live with this problem until it is fixed in *buntu.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Zwopper on Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:28 am

It's great to hear that this project is still alive, I really like the idea of Mint's elegance paired with Fluxbox' speed!
Keep up the good work - btw I reaaly like the beta, using quite a bit actually! :)
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Helmut on Sat May 03, 2008 4:15 pm

Hi Shane,

This is just to say thanks for going to all the troubles. There are folks out there who really appreciate it. I mean thanks a lot indeed! I particularly like the Fluxbox edition as it is, and run it on my modern box at home but also on my 1998 laptop with 300 MHz and only 256MB RAM. I'm quite happy how LinuxMint Fluxbox works, including WiFi and all.
Abiword and Gnumeric is perfectly good for me. And I'm saying this as a person using the laptop mainly for office work. The only suggestion from me is considering Kazehakaze as a browser alternative.
Maybe there should be a Mint edition for the increasingly popular Cloudbook or EEE sort of computers. Fluxbox may be the right sort of base. I wonder what others think...
Thanks again,
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby shane on Sun May 04, 2008 7:32 pm

hi all! thanks for the kind words of support... it is much appreciated...

i have started working on Mint FB 5... starting off from the xubuntu live/install cd. unfortunately the bug that installs OO still persists. I took it up with the Xubuntu developers and it took them about a day to pin point the dependency problem. i was kind of surprised that they hadnt picked this up earlier since they did decide to go with Abiword and Gnumeric. unfortunately it was too late for any changes to be made for the final release... but it has been ear-marked to be fixed in 8.04.1

As for config tools which I was thinking of using, writing tools from the ground up seems to be more than i can handle so I will be going with the default XFCE tools... which themselves include a number of default Gnome tools. I will obviously add the Mint tools as well.

On the point of choice of applications, balance between resource lean apps and functionality is still the main aim... the main culprit here i think is Firefox. As much as I would like to see a lightweight browser (eg Kazehakase as Helmut suggested), the functionality of FF is something I can't ignore... the effect on the size of the ISO is quite small. what do the others think? sylpheed seems like decent replacement for thunderbird... i think gmpc + mpd do a good job as an audio player... totem has worked very well in my current hardy installation handling all formats (except real media i think), including media embedded in web pages and flash video... i'll have to see how much of gnome it drags behind it (it is the default player in xubuntu)... for an image editor, the majority wanted GIMP from what I remember... GPaint just didn't cut it... Transmission, Brasero, Pidgin, Abiword and Gnumeric are obvious choices i think.

Let me know what you think.

cheers.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby wrender on Sun May 04, 2008 11:50 pm

Just wanted to say thanks and that I am impressed how well Mint FB works out of the box, especially considering its a beta.

ps. In future versions Is there a way to free up the ALT key so programs like maya can use it?(I don't see why the windows key can't be used for moving windows instead :P)
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Mindhunter2202 on Mon May 05, 2008 3:01 am

Hi shane,

Thx for your hard work. The Fluxbox CE runs stable since more than 3 months and I love it. I sent you a pm because of the config tools...
I would like to have vlc in the Fluxbox CE. This is a wonderful and very powerful media player and streaming tool. I have installed it on a debian with Fluxbox and it seems to work perfect...
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby interested passerby on Wed May 07, 2008 5:07 am

Hi Shane & others,
I like your choice of apps. I tend to think that, if you have the space, it is worth having both Firefox and a lightweight browser, as Damn Small Linux does (DSL uses links, I believe). That allows those with older computers to run something fast, but still have firefox present for websites that require the more bloated option (secure websites for example). Sylpheed works for me. I like having Open Office, but a lighter weight word processer & spreadsheet like Abiword or siag would be fine. (I can always install Open Office after all.)

Very much looking forward to seeing a final release. I've been using fluxbox for months now, and it would be good to have the last bugs ironed out. It is a fine distro! (And, please don't take this as a criticism, if you are able to keep information flowing about schedules, progress, setbacks, and so forth, then I think it will pick up a good community around it.)

All the best,
Ian
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby ShadeTree on Sat May 10, 2008 1:34 pm

Having OO install by default is not a problem for me as I'm using Mint Fluxbox CE on my Road Warrior box and would need it anyways.

Definitely go light on how much gnome underpinnings are required. I bought a bottom dollar box with the essential equipment I thought I needed. As it turned out this distro was the only distro to fulfill all my needs at that time.

A little history, I had some very specific plans in mind for the Laptop I would buy. I was so excited about getting it I gave very little attention to what I would run on it as I had been using Gentoo for about six years. -Then the morning before it came after I showered and began to dress the word 'fluxbox' jumped into my head. I said to me, huh? "FLUXBOX" came the reply.

The next day came and I got my Laptop, just took it out of the box and never booted it. Actually never booted into windows for about three weeks after I got the machine and then only to initialize the wireless and set the date and time, make backups of the partitions.

I spent the interim installing and testing live CDs and DVDs that used Fluxbox as a primary desktop. I all I downloaded and tested 15 distros, some of them multiple times getting accustomed to the setup for each one making sure I didn't overlook any nuance. Most were KDE (QT) boxes with FB installed or Gnome machines with FB installed. Bloat with FB on top, most of them that are marketed today still have the same underpinnings. For some it was all but impossible to set the language, most wouldn't handle the modern video driver, few had any concept of wireless pre-installed. One that was billed as a distro for doing security work after an attack even had a Trojan in it that started transmitting information to a commercial site!

In all I tested a total of 15 distros before installed Mint Fluxbox CE and 2 immediately after because I was waiting for their release. So there! I tested 17 distros.

Then came Mint Fluxbox CE, it was much like when a couple become spontaneously amorous in unexpected ways, -it just flowed. It had its own vibration level its own attitude. No excess baggage and new and different lightweight applications instead of the same-old, same-old. Are you getting a visual on this?

Keep it simple and sweet, I don't know that I would upgrade but I'd be willing to boot it up and put it through its paces. The fewer libraries that the system require the fewer updates required to maintain a healthy system. For the most part I will assume that Mint Fluxbox CE will end up on Laptops that have been outselling desktop PCs in the US since last year.

Yep Shane, you did such a good job on the 0-2-8 that I scratch my chin when I consider upgrading, but I know it would go over big if you duplicated the perfection on the updated framework (8.04), keeping things of course to the Ubuntu and not the Debian side for packages.

How's that for encouragement?

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A small update

Postby shane on Mon May 12, 2008 10:28 am

Hi all!

thanks again for the encouraging words... i thought it was fair enough to request updates on my progress from time to time... so here goes...

When i started using Fluxbox, one thing that seemed a little old hat was the way Fluxbox handled its menu... ie manual creation and editing of the menu. I asked a friend who has some coding experience to work up an application that would bring the Fluxbox menu upto par with the likes of Gnome and XFCE... He did the basic ground work in python and I have been working on the final touches using a few bash scripts and right now i think as far as the menu is concerned I am done... with the exception of a some minor tweaks...

The major departure from the old Fluxbox auto generated menu is that it will conform to the freedesktop.org 'standards'... which is what the major DEs use... i.e. Gnome, KDE and XFCE. Basically what the new menu should provide is a menu that will require no input from the user... (unless you like fiddling of course)... the menu will be generated automatically... when new programs are installed they will be added and when programs are uninstalled they will be removed. It will provide the option of having a menu with icons or without... and for those who like fiddling, the changes you make to the menu should remain intact.

ok... thats basically what i've been working on so far... and i think it has come along pretty well.

shane.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Zwopper on Mon May 12, 2008 11:58 am

Glad to hear about the progress, it sounds exciting, thanks for keeping us updated!
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Re: A small update

Postby merlwiz79 on Mon May 12, 2008 4:11 pm

That's the main thing I didn't like about Fluxbox.
It's not really easy for new Linux users if the menu has to be edited manually.
Great work :)
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another small update

Postby shane on Sat May 17, 2008 11:54 am

hi all!

work on Mint FB 5 has gone at a better pace this past week... although I have faced one major setback... for which i do not have the knowhow to fix.

so the bad news first. the menu system that i will be using has a bug that i didnt notice till this week. and to fix it it would require fixing the code which is in python... and i don't know python. my friend who wrote the code is pretty busy and hasnt had time to go over it. if anyone out there is willing to spare some time to have a look at it and provide a fix please let me know. you can find the project at http://code.google.com/p/marchfluxmenu/

this is the problem in the code. the menu that is generated is basically broken into 3 parts... the top section and the bottom section are manually coded and give menu entries for standard stuff like quit, firefox launcher, etc... the middle section is where the automatically generated and updated menu is. the screenshot on the project site will help you get the picture. The problem is when a new application is installed (or old one removed) and the menu updated, any submenus that are present in the top and bottom sections get included into the automatically generated menu and the links in there are all broken. generating a fresh menu does not give this error. it only happens in an updated menu. the change that is supposed to have been made (menu entry removal or addition) happens ok. i suppose it has to do with the way the menu file is parsed by the code that updates it. more exactly... that the code searches for submenus and includes the submenu that it shouldn't... anyway thats just my assumption.

so if anyone can have a look at it... it would help me a great deal.

otherwise, i have trimmed down the ISO image. it is a little over 500MB now. i have been working on default settings and branding mostly. there are a few bugs... and the more i look more keep popping up :roll: i havent yet gotten round to setting up gfxboot and usplash... but i can see me doing some hair-pulling when i do... especially with gfxboot...

i am trying to change as little as possible to avoid clashes with ubuntu packages and other mint packages... and any changes i make i am trying to do using the mint fluxbox packages while sticking to standard methods... this should make everything less hacked up unlike the Daryna beta version. also it should make my work in building and maintaining future releases much easier. an extra bonus that this might give is the ability to install mint fluxbox over other versions of Linux Mint with minimal fixing... for the days when you need a little speed on your box :D

anyway... i am still not very sure about what movie player i should use. at the moment i have totem installed... i know it is not the lightest player but this is my case for totem:
1) it plays everything i have thrown at it so far
2) it uses gstreamer... which is what Ubuntu is using by default (totem as well) and so we can expect fewer bugs with it... especially with all the pulse audio issues.
3) it works very well, better than mplayer, when it comes to playing media embedded in web pages.
4) using totem saves a bit on the size of the ISO image... this is because a lot of libraries (esp gstreamer ones) are used by other applications... so removing totem and other libraries that can be removed frees up about 29MB in an installed system. compare this to 44MB which VLC uses in an installed system... mplayer uses about 15MB but is shady with embedded media content on the web.

i concede that totem uses more RAM but i think it is the best one stop solution for most media playback... i would like to hear your feedback on this.

just a reminder... the menu bug... any help will be great! oh and the debian package on the project's page is quite old... i have made changes since that version, but the python code is unchanged.

that's it for now... not such a small update after all :lol:

shane.

P.S. anybody know where i can get the mintWifi debian package? its not in the repos :?
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Mindhunter2202 on Sat May 17, 2008 12:15 pm

Because of media players: Have you tried vlc? I use it since years. Vlc plays any media files, because of its own codecs. Also the streaming features and remote controlling per http are very useful things...
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby exploder on Sat May 17, 2008 12:36 pm

I have to agree with using Totem. Totem receives a lot of attention in the way of development. Totem will play anything you can throw at it.

I have seen the proposed menu used in other fluxbox based distributions. A possible way to get around the problems might be to have a look at how it is in the fluxbox edition of PCLinux. Possibly convert the version PCLinux Fluxbox uses with alien. Just an idea.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby exploder on Sun May 18, 2008 11:11 am

I just installed AntiX 7.2 on an old Dell with a PIII 933 and 256 MB of RAM. I could not get any other light distro to run properly on this machine. AntiX would be a distribution to look at for ideas. Here are some of the reasons I have found.

- The system only uses 30 MB of RAM at startup.
- The ISO is only 355 MB in size.
- All of the multimedia problems seem to be resolved.
- Menu editing is possible in Fluxbox and IceWM. (yes AntiX has both WM's fully configured.)
- No need for a root password to shut down the system.
- AntiX has kernel options for older hardware as well as more current hardware.

This old Dell is a very problematic system, yet AntiX makes it very usable. I had tried Mint Fluxbox CE and Fluxbuntu on the same machine and it ran extremely slow and used a lot more RAM. Anticapitalista, the maintainer of AntiX is very knowledgeable with Fluxbox and at one time had a very good tutorial on setting up and configuring Fluxbox. I think many of the ideas used in AntiX could be applied to the Mint Fluxbox CE.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby BlahBlah_X on Sun May 18, 2008 12:13 pm

Check this tool out if you are having problems with the menus:

http://menumaker.sourceforge.net/

Looks super cool, haven't tested it yet.
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby Mindhunter2202 on Sun May 18, 2008 2:04 pm

Menumaker sounds real good! I'll try it during next week and post my results...
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Re: The status of Mint Fluxbox CE

Postby tuluse on Sun May 18, 2008 5:01 pm

I was looking into the original problem, and I think I found a solution. Put the auto generated menu in it's own file and include it in the menu file. I can post the solution, but if you are going to use menumaker instead of marchfluxmenu (this is a weird name), then I won't bother.
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