Category Archives: Gnome

Binding Action

So you’ve got one of those fancy mice with lots of extra (read “spare”) buttons and no configuration interface at all?

Yes, that’s admittedly something the Linux desktop has been lacking for a long time. The drivers are capable of almost everything, but it seems no one ever bothered to add a sophisticated configuration utility for macros or extra buttons – I mean beyond what e.g. Compiz offers. Gamers (if there are any at all) should even more want something like that.

On my Logitech mouse there’s a thumb button to which I’d really like to bind the overlay mode in Gnome Shell. If you know xbindkeys the solution’s quite obvious, just make it listen to that button in .xbindkeysrc:

"/usr/local/bin/show-gnome-shell-overlay"
  m:0x0 + b:10 + release

My first guess was to scan D-Bus for anything related to “org.gnome.Shell” because nowadays almost everything seems to use D-Bus for IPC. Nevertheless, I have to admit I was quite surprised seeing the overlay after calling that D-Bus method though. ;)

Here’s that script referenced above:

#/bin/sh

dbus-send --session --type=method_call \
    --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell \
    org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Set \
        string:org.gnome.Shell \
        string:OverviewActive \
        variant:boolean:true

Gnome 3 – Like and Hate

It has been discussed controversially before its release and it certainly will be for the next few weeks. To be honest I wouldn’t expect anything else if a very important desktop environment decides to make the radical changes Gnome made for their 3.0 release.

Nevertheless, after a few days of using and liking the Gnome Shell and Gnome 3 there’s still a quite a lot I dislike:

Gnome Shell eats my Windows-key. Yeah, using Super_L is a good idea and finally gives that modifier some meaning. I actually used Super for a lot of stuff like

  • Super+V: display Parcellite’s menu (Ctrl+C history). Quite obvious to use something close to Ctrl+V, right?
  • Super+Arrows: switch workspaces, because I never liked Ctrl+Alt+…
  • Super+Z (or Y on German keyboards): display Guake terminal

As I said: Gnome eats Super_L which means that every shortcut using that key doesn’t work any more. Bad bug, really bad bug. Well, I admit that’s a small problem, a bug report, and not really influencing productivity here – I just disabled Super_L for now.

The much more annoying “innovation” is the complete lack of applets. I never cluttered panels with lots of stuff – I use only one panel at the top – but there are three applets I can’t live without:
CPU monitor, weather and, most important, my time tracking Hamster.

I frequently caught myself looking at the temperature to only read my username – seriously, who needs to read his own name in the top panel? Alzheimers? – or the Activities button where the hamster applet and CPU monitor used to be.
They are gone (forever?) and I’ll miss them very much. I’m a sad panda.

Well, some sync today

After getting an Android phone and blogging about it’s lack of synchronisation options in Gnome I was finally able to make some progress.

The answer is GCALDaemon which can read Evolution’s .ics-files (even the locally cached ones from my university) and copy the events within to Google Calendar.

Combining it with my Notification Server you can use “bin/sync-now.sh” in a script and even get a nice notification after running it (for example a few minutes after logging in).

Not the best solution (I’d rather skip one step and write directly to my Legend), but usable nevertheless.

Time-tracking Hamsters

I’m following the development of a great time-tracking software since mid 2008. Project Hamster, an applet for Gnome’s panel, has constantly evolved from a nice tool to something I could not do without any more.

It’s easy to use, fast and for someone like me (I always forget to write down start and stop times) it comes with a few handy reminding features.

The new interface they are planning for Gnome 2.30 is cleaner and better arranged than ever before, but I’ll let the screenshots (excuse the German labels) speak for themselves.