Saturday, 15 September 2018

Things To Do after Installing Absolute Linux - Part 2

It's been a couple of days and a few more things became apparent that need doing when setting up Absolute Linux for the first time in areas with different time and date conventions than apply in the United States. Here's part two of 'Things To Do after Installing Absolute Linux' (continued from Part 1).
In particular you might want your date to be shown in the format that you're used to at home, but IceWM uses the US format by default and setting your timezone in the abs-panel doesn't fix this.

4. Date and Time Format

IceWM shows the time in the right bottom corner in the 12 hour format and date and time in the tooltip show up in US format. To change this, go into /usr/share/icewm for system-wide changes and edit the preferences file. Unfortunately this is overwritten every time there's an update to the Icewm package as it does not seem to make a backup of old configuration files or save new configurations as .new first.

You may want to copy the preferences file into your home user's .icewm directory after the changes to preserve settings.

Look for the following sections in lines 16 to 20 in the preferences file and change the format to taste (capital H to get 24 hour format):

#  Clock Time format (strftime format string)
TimeFormat="%H:%M"

#  Clock Date format for tooltip (strftime format string)
DateFormat="%A  %d/%m/%Y"

Or add the file to the skeleton directory before adding users.


5. Calendar Startup

Absolute Linux comes with the Orage calendaring application to keep track of appointments, sort of a very minimal personal information scheduler and reminder application. However, paired with the Lightning calendar extension in Thunderbird or Seamonkey this can be quite useful, and for many even Orage by itself may be enough just to remind of birthdays and other upcoming events. The emphasis here is on basic and light.

Orage is starting by default when first logging in to the root account, but as Absolute is not really designed for a separate user account and does not prompt us to set one up I found this start up setting is not automatically copied into any user account that might be created. Short of adding this to /etc/skel before creating any users we may just copy rc.calendar into the /home/user/.icewm directory.

Same for rc.gmail if you want IceWM to check your Gmail, and all the other files in that directory.


6. Install Themes from SlackBuilds

This one is easier. Slackbuilds.org also has a collection of theme files to offer with the icewm-themes package for Slackware, ready with build script to compile and install. These are installed system-wide into /usr/share/icewm/themes unless one specifies something else in the script. Or automate the whole process with sbopkg as I did. The repository for 14.2 still works fine for this, although we are now post-14.2.

Speaking of which, you might want to install sbopkg before and add a few more packages to your Absolute Slackware Linux.

7. Get a Full Applications Menu

Unfortunately not all applications that are added later show up in the Icewm menu, usually if installed from other sources like Alien's repo or from SlackBuilds. This goes for VLC for example or other terminal applications like Terminator and even for Xfce components like the Thunar file manager distributed by upstream. Older menu editors like iceme and the IceWM Control Panel are pretty much dead and haven't been updated in over a decade. This in itself wouldn't be a problem but they don't work anymore and the source for iceme has disappeared from Sourceforge.

To get a better menu SlackBuilds has the slackware-xdg-menu package that requires no additional dependencies. There's a good explanation on the Arch wiki page, the section for IceWM copied below. For Slackware derived distributions, just replace arch-applications.menu with applications.menu.

With xdg_menu

$ xdg_menu --format icewm --fullmenu --root-menu /etc/xdg/menus/applications.menu >>~/.icewm/programs

With update-menus

  • Uncomment icewm in /etc/update-menus.conf
  • run update-menus as root
  • make symlink to /var/cache/xdg-menu/icewm/programs in ~/.icewm/programs


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