I just Kiboshed my Last Remaining Windows Computer…

As it last stood, I still possessed one remaining Windows computer, which was a 64-bit Octa-Core (threaded as 4) running Windows 7, a tower-computer which has 12GB of RAM, and which I had named ‘Mithral’.

I finally completed my conversion, kicked Windows off that computer, and installed an up-to-date Linux desktop onto it.

The distribution which I chose to start with, was ‘Kanotix‘, which I have been subscribing to for decades now. However, I cannot name this installation a direct Kanotix installation. The reason for this is the fact that the last Kanotix version which their team distributed a ‘KDE’-based version of, was called “Kanotix Spitfire”, and was based on Debian / Jessie, which is also known as Debian 8, and which is not state-of-the-art. Kanotix has been offering a leaner version of all their distributions, which use ‘LXDE’ as their desktop manager, for some time now, starting with ‘Spitfire’. Their latest distribution is called “Kanotix Steelfire”, is based on Debian / Stretch, aka Debian 9, but is only offered from their site as an LXDE-based version.

LXDE stands for ‘Lightweight X Desktop Environment’, and what was ‘KDE version 4′, has been replaced with ‘Plasma 5′, although the last time I checked, there was still no official Plasma 5 -based ‘Kanotix Steelfire’ version.

And so what I did, was to install their LXDE-based version of ‘Steelfire’, and then to use the Debian package-manager to click together an arbitrary Plasma 5 Desktop Manager, which I was also able to actualize as my new Desktop Manager.

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Right now I don’t have much installed on it, except for Plasma 5, but more software is to come. The screen-shot above, also prominently shows the ‘gkrellm’ widget, that gives me real-time usage-data, that all my Linux-based systems have, except for the one tablet.

When I install a whole new O/S, I also change the name of the computer in question. The one I’m writing about is now named ‘Plato’. ‘Mithral’ is no longer with us.

It’s not necessarily a good practice for novice users, ‘just to click together’ a Desktop Manager in this way, because there may be compatibility issues which specific users are not aware of. For example, the new Kanotix version, just like all of Debian / Stretch, no longer uses ‘kdm’ to start and stop sessions, as a starting-point for causing Plasma 5 sessions to run. I found that I was able to overcome the hurdles, but then the Plasma 5 version Kanotix is about to recommend in the future, may not be an exact match of the one I ‘created’. In fact, it most-probably won’t be.

But what I have works.

(Edit 10/17/2017 : )

I suppose that one potential question that deserves a preemptive answer would be, what the actual difference is, between installing an LXDE-based system from Kanotix, and putting Plasma 5 on it myself on the one hand, and installing a hypothetical, future Plasma 5 -based system from Kanotix, on the other hand.

And the answer to that would be, that what happens on a Linux computer is divided into a system partition, and a user – aka home partition. It’s possible to install a huge number of Plasma packages on the system partition – aka the root partition – which might even be similar to what Kanotix would eventually have pre-installed. (This is especially true, since after I install an officially-supplied, Plasma 5 -based distribution, my normal behavior would be to install more packages on it anyway.) But then on the home partition, each user has his personally-gestalted desktop.

Further, on the root partition there is a directory named ‘/etc/skel’, from which the entire set of files and sub-directories is copied to a new home-directory, every time the system administrator creates a new user-account. That set of files defines what the new user will see, when he first launches Plasma 5.

Well as I received the initial system, ‘/etc/skel’ only had skeleton-files relevant to an LXDE desktop. This means that at first, I was greeted with a functioning Plasma 5 desktop – that was essentially blank. I had a swirly background-image, and a task-bar, with the “K-Menu” – aka the Start Menu – as its only feature on the left-hand end. With the exception of an auto-generated notification tray on the right-hand end of the same task-bar.

I had to build my desktop configuration widget-by widget, until I had something to show for it.

Well as soon as I create a new user-account, its user will again be greeted with a functioning Plasma 5 desktop, which is blank. But, every time he expands his K-Menu, doing so will initially reveal hundreds of installed applications – all of which work…

Eventually, when Kanotix makes an official Plasma 5 release, their skeleton directory will not be deficient. Any new user from their system will be greeted by a desktop, which is somewhat initialized. For example, end-users can usually enjoy a first-run, start-page, that asks them how they’d like to set up their account, and, ‘Welcome to Kanotix…’

And then that updated set of skeleton-files also gets propagated by them to users like me, in the form of a Kanotix-package.

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Dirk

 

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