Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lightweight browsers Part I: Midori and Qupzilla

Debian comes with iceweasel (ie repackaged Firefox) by default. It is stable and run well, plus with some tweaking of the config you can get some improved performance. However it does consumes CPU cycles since it is a heavy browser. These next two post I will be presenting four lightweight browsers that you can to supplement your web browsing.


As its web site suggest midori is "a lightweight, fast, and free web browser". It renders pages fairly well even heavy graphic pages. It does have some nice features like colored tabs and ability to use greasemonkey scripts. However it does have its issues. Downloading files can be at times buggy, however uploading files works fine. Sometimes it renders pages as a mobile site. Also it logs you out of gmail if it is idle for a long period of time. The midori web sites explains some of these issues in their faq. Personally I do like using it due to the speed but it does annoy me when pages like Ubuntu Forums comes up as a mobile site. Here are some screenshots:


Qupzilla is a lightweight qt based web browser. Like midori it renders pages pretty fast. It has password manager that defaults to holding your passwords in plain text but you can change it to hold them in an encrypted database (I do not know why encrypted is not on by default). It has no issues rendering pages, however uploads and downloads at times either fails or crashes. I usually use wget to download so this is not an issue for me. The stability in page rendering make qupzilla my default browser besides iceweasel. Here is a screenshot :

Midori is available in the stable repository and Qupzilla is available in Jessie repository.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mount your iPhone on Debian Wheezy.

One thing that was giving me issues with Linux was mounting my iPhone. When I would just plug it into my powerbook it would throw up errors and my iPhone would constantly ask me if I trusted this device. So after much researching I once again needed to learn the lesson that one must begin with the wiki and usually to find you answers. All I needed was to do a search on the wiki for iPhone and lo and behold this wealth of information appeared. It gives pretty detailed instructions on getting iPhone to mount in Debian. I have not tested this in Ubuntu or any other Debian based distributions, but I would not be surprised if it worked on them as well. The one downside I discovered was that I could only share my music via Rythmbox but not my photos or video I created on my iPhone. I tried using dropbox but apparently it is not working on Debian based on what I learned on this thread I started. However I was able to grab my photos and videos if I put them on google drive. If anyone has a better way to share iPhone photos or videos please share.

UPDATE: Apparently DropBox is dropping support PowerPC Macs you can read more at The PPC Luddite blog.

UPDATE II: I found this on Planet Debian. This blog mentions that using an applicaton called shotwell to copy pictures and vidoes you made on your iphone to Linux. So I wondered is this app available for the PowerPC architecutre? So I ran 'apt-cache search shotwell' and there it was! So I installed the application on my powerbook g4 and launched the application. I was then able to see my photos and videos and also import them! Happy Day!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Debian backports

Debian has three primary distributions, stable, testing, and unstable. Wheezy is the current stable distribution.  The Debian community takes its time testing before they release their stable distributions. On an older machine like apple powerpc, running a stable distribution makes a huge difference. What you get is an OS the will run and is less like to crash on you. However the price of stability is that you will not get the latest software. This is no deal breaker but if you do want the latest it will mean a little more work.

Sometimes there is a need for a newer version of an application than the one that is in stable. I was wanting to use an extension for libreoffice that will give networking device images similar to what you will find in visio to make diagrams. However the extension would work not with the current version of libreoffice I had installed. Libreoffice would crash every time I tried to use the extension. So I needed to get a newer version.

There are a few ways to get newer software on Debian. You can always go grab the source code and compile it. Just be sure that to look up what software dependencies it needs to be sure you can get them or it will not compile. There is a great "how to" on the Debian forums on how to properly compile a package on Debian. Now before you decide to go down that route you should look to see if there is a package available in the Debian backports repository. Here is an excerpt from the Debian wiki on backports:

"Backports are recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates), so they will run without new libraries (wherever it is possible) on a stable Debian distribution"

Now not all the software on testing has been backported to stable so you would need to check first. I verifed that there was a backport for libreoffice by doing search for the package on the debian site. Now to install packages that backported from testing you will need to do the following:

   1. edit your sources.list file to add the backports repository by running the following command 'sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list'. then enter your password and add the following lines at the bottom:

# wheezy-backports
deb wheezy-backports main contrib non-free
deb-src wheezy-backports main contrib non-free

   2. save (CRTL+o) then exit (CTRL+x). update apt by running 'sudo apt-get update'

   3. then install the backported by typing 'sudo apt-get -t wheezy-backports install package'

The '-t' option tells apt from which distribution to get the package in this instance from 'wheezy-backports'. If you want more info on stable/testing/unstable or other distributions in Debian go to the FAQ here.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention you can also install new packages from testing and unstable by adding their repositories to your sources.list file then running 'sudo apt-get update'. However I would caution against doing that since you may get dependencies that might break stable. If you do decide to go that route backup your system in case you need to roll back. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Debian Wheezy On My PowerBook G4

In 2007, I bought my first Mac from a friend.  It was a PowerBook G4 running OS X 10.5 (Leopard).  Since then I have always used Macs. When Apple changed from the PowerPC architecture to Intel I still kept my powerbook handy.  Then in 2009 I purchased my MacBook Pro.  I still use this MacBook today. This is what always impressed me with Apple, they just produce reliable hardware.  I kept my PowerBook handy, but as time passed and Apple stopped supporting Leopard I just put it away.  I tried in the past to put Linux on it, but was unsuccessful.  Recently, I tried again to revive my old PowerPC machine.  This time with some patience and research I have been able to get a modern operating system on my old PowerBook. Running Linux on PowerPC takes time and patience.  However, if you love tinkering and are willing to make the effort then Linux can bring life to your old machine.  Below are some screenshots of my machine.

LXDE Desktop:


Here are some sites to reference that greatly helped me get Linux working on PowerPC:

Dan DeVoto's blog has a great series on installing and configuring Debian.  Plus, for those who still run Tiger or Leopard he has great suggestions for video playback and securing your Mac.

Zen's powerpcliberation is another source of information for Linux and OS X on PowerPC. Dan is a guest writer for that blog as well.

The Ubuntu wiki and Debian wiki have helpful sections on PowerPC  here and here