Monthly Archives: April 2009

New Layout!

I’ve decided to try a new layout for the site. Im not quite sure I like it, but please comment on if its appealing or not, in case you wondering this was the old layout:

Free Image Hosting at

Thoughts? Like the old look, new look, or what to see a new layout? Comments below! 🙂



Remove that Panel! A Review of Popular Window Navigators for Linux

After a long time, I really said to myself, can I lose that bottom panel? I really wanted something semi-flashy that had function, giving me access to my favorite shortcuts. I have heard of Avant, and tried that, but I also wanted to give “the other guys” a good try too! I came across Gnome-Do and also Cairo Dock. While each actually has its ups and downs, I’m sure everyone can agree they accomplish the job. Here is The Linux Cauldrons review of Popular Window Navigators.


  • Decent graphics hardware
  • Compositing Enabled (go to System > Appearance > and enable at least the next tier of effects for your system.
  • On systems (such as Arch Linux) that do not have an option on “Appearance”, a working install of Compiz or Compiz fusion is required.

Avant Window Navigator (AWN)

My avant bar, "flat style" not the "3D look"

My avant bar, "flat style" not the "3D look"

Avant is the “safe bet” for many people. It tends to be the one alot of people go for, for its balance of usability and functionality. While it may not be as glitzy as Cairo Dock, it has its place, and does what it needs to do. Avant has a few nice options like the ability to be able to start it up upon user logon, instead of manually making it a service in your startup options.


  • 3D or Flat Look optioins
  • Decent color control for bar appearance
  • Easy to add launchers via AWN’s configuration editor
  • Can drag and drop shortcuts from desktop to AWN
  • Theme support
  • Option to start when user logs in
  • Easier to change the “simple” things and get it up to the way you want it

  • Lacks advanced customization options
  • Sometimes AWN will fail to “keep” the icon I set for it when adding a launcher (i.e. Songbird).
  • Animations could be better, instead of simple “Zoom” or “Highlight”
  • Some applets fail to load or work properly


The GNOME Do instant search in action

The GNOME Do instant search in action

The GNOME Do "Docky" appearence mode.

The GNOME Do "Docky" appearence mode.

When I first heard about GNOME Do, I was quite intrigued. GD is a great “search, find, and execute” window navigator. While still a ways off from perfection of any kind, GD is a promising window navigator that gives some great functionality for your desktop. Its instant search feature is bar none, the most intuitive system search for your desktop. However there were some things that kept me from making this my window navigator on my system.


  • GNOME Do instant search is a great versatile tool for your Linux distribution
  • A plethora of plugins for various Linux applications
  • Ability to start when user logs in
  • Fairly smooth “mac like” zoom animation with “Docky Appearance” mode
  • GNOME Do icon in tray, for easy access to the instant search feature
  • Summon search mode with a editable shortcut
  • Recent Correction: Can be re-sized by dragging the separator like Mac’s dock. (Credit to DBO of Gnome Do)

  • Lacks ability to add new custom themes. This is something I deem necessary to to be as versatile as competitors. Kids these days (I do act like I’m 6 years old), like those fancy themes 🙂
  • Half of my docklet apps do not work, come up as white lines
  • Not very customizable
  • Lacks icon editing for alternate images on icons
  • Needs some more functionality to be as popular as Cairo Dock
  • If things are fixed up Gnome-Do could smash the competition

Cairo Dock

A simple theme for Cairo Dock on my system

A simple theme for Cairo Dock on my system

Cairo Dock is a very formidable candidate for consideration here. There seems to be so much effort put into Cairo Dock, it can be intimidating to customize at first. In fact there can be so many options it can turn users away. However once you get a hang of Cairo Dock, it soon could become your favorite window navigator. There were some issues for me, noted below in “notes,” but I had to say I was very impressed with the overall package of Cairo Dock.


  • So customizable, I thought I was going to cry with happiness
  • Amazing theme support
  • Complete control over Icons and Plugins / Applets
  • “Easy Mode” and “Advanced Mode” for customization
  • Good “Mac like” zoom animation which can be changed if you wish

  • When customizing some icons, I noticed some options were left out
  • Can be glitchy at times
  • For some systems, installing Cairo could be a pain, unless you know what to do
  • The default animations can be annoying (such as desktop switcher)
  • I was forced to create some icons for certain launchers, leaving my dock with some ugly icons (see picture above, power button in red)

  • To install Cairo Dock (such as on Arch Linux), you may have to force remove the package “cairo” and install “cairo-wglitz” For some reason cairo conflicts when installing on some systems where the package resides in a User Repository or even the normal Repository. “cairo-wglitz” does* include cairo, so do not worry about losing functionality on your system.
  • By default, the dock will Auto Hide itseslf, hover your mouse near the bottom-middle of the screen. To change this behavior, right the bar and go to Cairo-Dock > Configure > System, and un-check the “auto hide” box.

That does it for today. I would like to thank all of you for reading and for posting comments. Every bit you say helps me improve on what I’ve done, and what I plan to do. Remember, I am still in search of a contributor or two for the site. Please see the “Contact Us” page at the top of the site and this post for details. Also on that page is the twitter page for this site, be sure to add us!



The Eternal Battle: Gnome 2.26 and KDE 4


It seems this debate has been discussed over and over again, with no end in site. It often looks like the only people fighting are the Gnome guys, but its the same on both sides. I cannot tell you how many times I visit a forum and ask question, and somehow everyone starts fighting over why that person is using Gnome instead of KDE, or vice-versa. In this article, I take a look at KDE and Gnome and more specially their current releases.

The Wonder Years

I first took a look at Linux in 2004, and instantly fell in love the simplicity of Gnome over KDE 3 at the time. I loved being able to pull down Applications menu and find something really fast. Whereas in KDE, I had to hop through a few sliding menus to get what I needed. The overall presentation of KDE seemed bloated, more settings, widgets and fan-doogles that I really wanted. In all due respect to KDE users (at least for KDE 3), I personally felt that the desktop environment was trying too hard, and ended up pushing too much at me.

Back to the Future:

In the present day we see new releases (surprisingly) of Gnome, version 2.26.0, and currently KDE 4 (in beta). I said to myself after using Gnome for so long, why not be a nice guy and give the KDE folks another fair run? Using Arch Linux as my base distro I installed all the necessary packages for KDE under the Arch repository, and switched my environment from Gnome to KDE. Even with a Intel Q9550 and a Nvidia 8800 GTX graphics card, KDE 4 was slow to boot in comparison, even without Compiz Fusion running. I decided to jot down the disadvantages and advantages of KDE 4 from using it for several weeks. I also noted what I liked and disliked about Gnome.

The Eternal Battle:

Here are my personal thoughts on each Desktop Enviroment. Keep in mind these are my personal opinions and you do not have to agree with them. I did not pick a “winner” of the two, however I wished to show what I though of each of the two in the current time.



  • Lots of glitz and glamor. Depending on your window preferences, almost everything in KDE 4 is nice and shinny, fluid and smooth.
  • Interface, for many the interface of KDE is great. It resembles windows in the way the menu bar is designed, with a sleek moving menu system is once you hit the K icon.
  • Many utilities, configuration editors, and tools
  • Able to replace default window manager
  • Seems to have that “edge” that Gnome lacks
  • development is red hot on KDE 4, although in beta at the moment

  • Too much longer to load the desktop environment. Upwards of an extra 10 seconds.
  • Truncating of long file names below icons.
  • Menu editing is not as simple as in Gnome
  • I often felt overwhelmed by annoying widgets and panels that were unnecessary
  • Searching in the menu is cumbersome, its much easier to pull down one menu in gnome and see everything, instead of going through 3 to 4 menu slides to find the same in KDE
  • KDE seems to focus more on appearance than usability and stability. KDE 4 crashed several usual apps that I run all the time.
  • Panel Apps are not the best compared to Gnome.

Gnome 2.26


  • Simplistic, and laid out in a fashion to make tings easy to find
  • With Compiz Fusion, can be every bit as pretty as KDE 4
  • No overabundance of configuration editors a usual user would never use
  • Usability and simplicity over Appearance
  • Each version of Gnome focuses more on fixing bugs not making things more pretty looking, providing a better, usable desktop.
  • The simple organization of “Applications, Places, And System” makes navigating apps and places a snap, quick and easy

  • Gnome lacks focus on releasing new versions of its Desktop Environment platform.
  • You sometimes get the distinct impression gnome could accomplish more
  • There are some configuration editors like Startup Manager, that I feel should be standard on a default Gnome Install
  • Less control over the system in some areas (via graphical tools), but this can be a good thing.

Final Thoughts:

In the end the choice is up to you. Do you prefer a pretty, fairly easy to use environment, or a simple, very easy environment? It is all up to the user. Most apps that run in KDE and run in Gnome and vice-versa. Where the differences come is in how the two Desktop Environments present those apps and tools to the user, and how it handles the Linux kernel. For the most part you can’t beat the speed of Gnome, while KDE 4 is shaping up to be a formidable opponent, compared to its past offerings with KDE 1, 2 (3 was about the same from 2, minor changes).

Whatever you choose, do not let fanboys and harsh advocates of either Desktop Environment bully you around. That is the joy of Linux, CHOICE. It is your choice to use what distribution you like, which applications you want to use, and how you want to use them and your system. I would like to thank you for reading this article and for visiting The Linux Cauldon.



Fix This! : Troubleshooting Audio Problems in Debian/Ubuntu


Can’t play that favorite Rick Roll video of yours? No sound on Youtube or from your favorite audio player? No problem, we can help. In this first edition of Fix This!, we go into common issues Debian/Ubuntu users may experience with audio.

Common Problems:

  1. No sound from any flash movie or clip on the internet regardless of browser or no matter what Driver you pick in System > Preferences > Sound, and hit “Test,” there is still no audio
  2. I opened up youtube, played a video, now my media player on my machine won’t play my music library
  3. I rebooted after updates and now I have no audio, rebooting does nothing
  4. I have audio, but its really quiet or faint, I have to turn the volume all the way up just to hear something
  5. I have no sound from my application

1. No sound from any flash movie or clip on the internet regardless of browser or none of the sound driver seem to work

  • This may be due to a recent update to your system or an application that broke the sound driver, or switched it to an incompatible one
  • You may be using a sound driver that just doesn’t “jive” with your system. Try going to System > Preferences > Sound, and chaning the entries in the pull down bars to “ALSA” and pressing test in each category. If you still have issues try a different driver fromt the list and make sure* the last pull down bar at the bottom is selecting your correct hardware, if not try switching that box as well to, for example “Intel xxxxx (ALSA)”
  • If you are using the ALSA driver, you may want to install the Gnome Alsamixer app to check your sound levels. Install this by doign “apt-get install gnome-alsamixer” as root. Application will be most likely placed in Applications > Accessories. Be sure to check that sound levels, especifally in “master” and “PCM” are up. PCM shoudl be 3/4 the way up. You may want to mae sure channels are not muted, such as “front” or “center” or “surround” possibly

2. I opened up youtube, played a video, now my media player on my machine won’t play my music library

  • This most likely indicates that you are using the ALSA sound driver. ALSA does not have the ability to play two sound streams at the same time. So, if you have a youtube video running or video stream on the internet up and running, you will not be able to hear that other media player such as Audacious or VLC.
  • Kill firefox or restart the machine to regain this. Usually killing firefox is enough.
  • To play two streams at once you make want to look into using the Pulse Audio driver, although I have never gotten to work on my hardware.

3. I rebooted after updates and now I have no audio, rebooting does nothing

  • As before, your sound driver may have been reset to its default driver or messed up in some cases.
  • Check that in System > Preferences > Sound, that should sound driver did not change from whatever you were using before (possibly ALSA) to something else.
  • Try installing “ALSA utilities and ALSA base” via apt-get in teh terminal. (I belive it would be alsa-utils, and alsa-base)

4. I have audio, but its really quiet or faint, I have to turn the volume all the way up just to hear something

  • Right Click your sound icon on the top gnome bar panel, and choose “sound manager” or “sound preferences.”
  • Make sure applicable tracks are raised to max, such as “master, front, center” and also make sure your “PCM” channel, or what is known as the “2 channel stero mixer” is 3/4 the way up
  • Install gnome-alsamixer as stated above and check all your sound levels if using the ALSA driver in System > Preferences Sound.
  • My girlfriend actually had to unmute and raise “center” on here hp laptop. All laptops and external speakers can be named differently, for instance, on my external Logitech Sound System, I only need “master” and “Front” to function, not even PCM, its handled internally for me.

5. I have no sound from my application

  • This is most likely due to the program using a different sound driver or architecture than what you system is set to
  • For instance, I myself use ALSA on my desktop as Pulse will not work for me. When I first ran Audacious and VLC I wondered why they were the only two apps not giving sound. Turns out in the “advanced” preferences of VLC and Audacious it was set to use Pulse Audio instead of ALSA. Chaning this to ALSA fixed things right up.
  • If you are sure* an application does not have a sound option for the driver to use, be sure to post your question on the Ubuntu Forums


  • If you still experience issues be sure to post your question on the Ubuntu Forums, Linux Quesitions, or on debian’s forums for debian if you wish, witht the output of (in Terminal) :

    lspci -v | grep audio
    uname -r
    cat /proc/asound/cards (if applicable)
    cat /proc/asound/oss/sndstat (if applicable)

  • Also try the latest ALSA driver from the ALSA project website
  • Try running “alsamixer” in Terminal, if it does not work, note the output down for the questioning in the above forums
  • A massive How-To on Linux Sound if you wish to get really into sound / troubshooting.

Hope some of this helped any of you out there and thanks for reading! Take care and cheers,


The Wire: Follow Us on Twitter!


Yes people, I have finally done it, I have succumbed to the life snatcher that is “Twitter.” Let me state this in a clear way everyone can understand, I don’t like twitter, I see no point in constantly telling someone “Hey I made a MASSIVE poop” or if “Cindy is depressed because her boyfriend dumped her.” Facebook is enough people. And when people follow you are they really your friends? Idiosyncrasies aside, I decided to nab an account not to do as mentioned, but to shamelessly promote The Linux Cauldron 🙂

So, if you do have twitter and wish to follow us, be sure to add Our Twitter Page to your account! Additionally, you can add our RSS Feed, located at the bottom of the right hand column on the site. Also be sure to watch out for us on Digg!



How-To Session: Installing Office 2007 with Wine on Linux


With more and more people using Open Office 2.4 and Open Office 3.0, you might be asking why in the world would I post how to install Office 2007 in Linux? Well simply, on a personal level the formatting of Open Office often aggravates me. Sorry if that does not agree with you, but when the bullets and numberings system messes up my tab stops or when viewing a .ppt or .pptx files all the pictures are hanging off the page, its good to have Office 2007 as a second office suite simply for those times when Open Office makes you pull your hair out when you open that nicely done work document or that school PowerPoint project. Let me make it abundantly clear, I do not* hate Open Office, there are simply times when using Office 2007 is the better choice for at least viewing the material. Maybe someday Open Office will match the formatting quality of MS Office.

Installing Wine:


Use Add/Remove under “Appications” at the top gnome menu and search for wine
“sudo apt-get install wine” in Terminal.
See : This for more details

Other Distributions:

Your other distributions should definitely have this in their software repositories. Here is a list of commands which should install it, depending on your* package manager you use. All commands are performed as root user (type “sudo su”, OR “su -” in Terminal) and are done in your respective Terminal.

  • For pacman : “pacman -S wine”
  • For YUM: “yum install wine”
  • For All other Distributions and package managers see: Wine HQ’s Binary Downloads

Installing Microsoft Office 2007 via Wine:

  1. Insert the Disc containing the Office 2007 install. Note: if you have burned a copy of MS Office 2007, make sure* that the “setup.exe” and the reset of the folders are present in the root or starting directory when you open the CD, otherwise complications can occur on install especially with the commercial version of Wine, Crossover Office Pro
  2. Cancel the autorun box if it appears
  3. Open up Terminal, in gnome this is done by going to Applications > Accessories > Terminal, from the top menu bar.
  4. Now type “cd /dev/cdrom0” where cdrom0 could also be “cdrom” The best way to determine what /dev location has your CD is to do “ls /dev | grep cd” This will show any devices matching cd, try uppercase as well.
  5. Once you “cd /dev/cdrom” in Terminal, type the command “ls -la” to see all contents, making sure the “setup.exe” is present for you Office 2007 disc.
  6. Now type “wine setup.exe” (or replace setup.exe with the name of the setup installer .exe file) to begin the installation process
  7. Follow the prompts as usual
  8. When finished, you will now see a program listing under the Applications menu on the top bar for “Windows Applications” and The Office Apps should be there now.


  1. Some apps have odd compatibility issues but , Word, Powerpoint, and Excel all run without a hitch
  2. This install process is pretty much the exact same for Office 2003
  3. If you wish to add a new “save” point, i.e. when you hit Ctrl+S or “Save” in a program, you can edit the “drives” by going to Applications > Wine > Configure Wine and going to “Drives.” From here you can add any* folder, even folders in /mnt or /media to be a “drive” in the wine virtual world of Windows. This would be just like if you booted up windows and hit “Save” and browsed to the C:\ drive to save your document.
  4. For an application compatibility listing please see Wine HQ’s App List

Hope you enjoyed this How-To and for reading The Linux Cauldron.



LOL of the Week: The Lenovo T400

In my search for a new laptop that is going to replace my horrible Dell Laptop (yes it will get Linux on it silly), I came across Lenovo’s Thinkpad, as many people have told me its still made almost as good as the once IBM owned Thinkpads were. With this in mind I wandered on over to the Lenovo online store. I always configure the lowest of whatever model (in this case the T400), and just bump it up, however this time I choose the second model over in the columns. To my surprise I found this delightful option:


I have to say I was quite surprised, $9533.00 USD for a graphics card? The listing reads, “Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD – Non-AMT [add $9,533.00]” My Jaw dropped. I checked the other model columns for the T400, and this wasn’t the case, as they had ATI cards under the hood. It was a funny mistake, and a good one at that, now I wonder what you get for a “Non-AMT” Video Card? And closest result on Google to “Non-AMT” is a tax free relief option, but I doubt that is what it means, but I can’t see it being $9,000+ USD. Wikipedia says AMT is “hardware-based technology for remotely managing and securing PCs out-of-band”. This Wikipedia entry has nothing to do with the context of the graphics card option pictured here so I am completely unsure just what this technology is. Obviously the price is type for sure. Just for fun I threw every option available onto the T400 and got this:


Shame on you Lenovo! It gave me a good laugh, and I figured I would share it with you. I will probably check back later and see if they fixed it. I have attached a thumbnail of a large screenshot. There you have it, the LOL of the week.

Free Image Hosting at



Xorg Issues: Is Ctrl+Alt+Backspace Broken For You?


I have found , especially for bleeding-edge distro users that at least one nice shortcut is now disabled by default for X11’s new version, 1.6.0, you use that. To determine what version of xorg you use, type this command into Terminal:

man xorg | grep xorg-server

If you have 1.6.0 or above, Ctrl+Alt+Backspace will NO LONGER work. This was very useful to restart X Server to reset any changes to X or after an upgrade to your system that broke icons or other visual elements.

To fix this (as root):

  • vim /etc/X11/xorg.conf
  • Go to the section called “ServerFlags”
  • Under that section add: Option “DontZap” “false”
  • If you don’t have that section in your xorg just make the section as so :

Section “ServerFlags”
Option “DontZap” “false”
End Section

That’s it! Log out and log back in , or restart if you want, and Ctrl+Alt+Backspace should be functional again!



The Wire: Want to contribute?


If you would like to contribute to this blog, I would LOVE to see blog entries from you about the Linux world. They could be about anything, from Linux News, to How-To’s, Important Information and more. If you interested please hit the “Contact Us” page at the top for more information. As I am busy with school I only get to posting one article a day, and more help would be greatly welcomed.


  • Individual must possess simple knowledge of HTML, such as using tags (“P,br,font,ul,li”), but can be instructed on how this works regardless.
  • Must have a love for Linux in general
  • No foul language or windows bashing
  • Must be willing to contribute 3-5 short entries a week, short stuff no novels 🙂
  • Must respect privileges given when added as an author
  • Must have a account
  • I ask that 2-3 short stories or your prospective works on sites/blogs be send to the contact email in “Contact Us” for review
  • Guidelines will be given to prospective individuals


The Wire: Many Turn to Open Source Software


With the economy at hard times many are looking to cut corners by any means possible. We see the horror stories, lay-offs, pay cuts, and much worse, liquidation, bankruptcy and more. With these dire times, many companies are seeing the positive and are turning to Open Source software to save some pennies and at the same time, are seeing the benefits not only in cost, but performance, stability, and more.

Here is some indication of Worldwide software revenue year-over-year growth rates 2006-2013 (Source: IDC)


With Linux showing up in more and more businesses this only means good things for the future of open source software. Even Companies once using Unix systems are switching to Linux as an alternative, that can pretty much do just as much as Unix, minus the Support they may be missing, but at this point they most likely know how to do anything anyway. IDC is quoted as saying “highly compatible with two of the hottest trends in the industry: virtualization and cloud computing.” With the surge of “cloud computing” we see companies turning to Linux for its low cost and efficiency, with much more customization that closed source alternatives.

We see most revenue as of late coming from Server/Hardware areas for Linux, but most of that is slated to change. According to, it seems software will be making a bigger dent, especially in the United States were the economic downturn is affecting business’s everywhere. Most companies are now realizing, in their darkest hour, the benefits of Linux and Open Source applications.

In the following chart we see a surge in application software:


I think we will see alot of this growth in database, enterprise apps, and and many other general apps. What is most exciting is many IT executives and Admins are actively considering Linux on the desktop , and even more, up to 3/4 of 300 polled by IDC for servers. However, we shouldn’t see huge decreases in Linux distros like Red Hat, the focus is primarily on the benefits of Linux and Open Source software, not saying that the IT execs will fork over money for a professionally supported distro or not.

The following graph shows the growth of Linux server Operating sytems:


In any case, it should be an exciting surge for Linux, especially in the United States. Just be glad IT execs arn’t pushing for Mac Servers 🙂
You can read the full IDC article here Credit to the pictures and link mentioned go to IDC.

Some credit goes to [Desktop Linux] for the original information I based this blog off of. Credit due where credit is due.

Thanks for reading!