Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gnome introduces offline updates

I'm running Debian Testing (Stretch) on my old laptop and I noticed that updates are now done offline. The reasoning, according to the Gnome Blog,is that it's safer and updates are applied immediately, rather than waiting till the next reboot.

Here are some screenshots to illustrate the process:

In distros which use a boot splash, like Fedora, users will see a message like this:
Just as long as offline updates doesn't resemble Microsoft updates...
Just talking care of a few more things
Almost ready
Won't be long now
Have you read War and Peace? Now might be a good opportunity

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Iceweasel now Firefox in Debian Jessie Backports

If you have the release version of Iceweasel installed from Debian Backports, you will notice an error message when updating:

Failed to fetch Unable to find expected entry 'iceweasel-release...

This is because Iceweasel is no more and Firefox has taken its place, as I described in my previous post.

Changing the sources.list file to the entry given by the Debian Mozilla team now installs Firefox, as the above screenshot shows.

Now I just have to try to uninstall Iceweasel without uninstalling the whole of Gnome...

Update: "Debian stable will receive Firefox ESR after Iceweasel/Firefox ESR38 is end-of-lifed, in about 3 months." Glandium.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Son of Firefox returns to Debian

Over five years ago I wrote that Iceweasel was going to be renamed Firefox in Debian.

Well, now it finally seems to be happening, according to

Scanning the bug report, the change might happen in June in Debian Jessie.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Things that are fixed in Debian Stretch - File transfer from mobile phone

I wrote a while ago (checks... over a year ago) about some things that were (and still are) broken in Debian Jessie. Like the ability to transfer files via Bluetooth from a mobile phone.

I am happy to report that file transfer from a mobile phone is fixed in Debian Stretch- from which I am now posting.

What? No proof without pictures? Go on then:
Debian Stable users will be able to access this basic functionality (again- it worked in Wheezy) about a year later when Stretch becomes stable.

Not sure why Bluez5 not accepting file transfers from a mobile phone wasn't a blocker bug, but hey ho.

Update Notifications are also fixed in Stretch: I will blog about this when I grab a screenshot.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Video thumbnails in BunsenLabs

I'm trying out BunsenLabs Linux on my old laptop. I came across the same problem I encountered in its predecessor CrunchBang Linux, namely I didn't get a thumbnail preview of video files in Thunar.

The solution I found at the time (see my review of CrunchBang), which was to install ffmpegthumbnailer, didn't work.

The solution this time was to install tumbler-plugins-extra.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How to transfer files from Android phone to Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.3 via Bluetooth

I'm trying out Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.3 on my old laptop. One thing I noticed is that Mint uses Bluz4 rather than Bluez5 in Debian Squeeze (I suppose because Mint is based on a LTS vesion of Ubuntu and is therefore fairly conservative in packages like this providing basic functionality).

As a result, file transfer from an Android phone works in Mint whereas it doesn't in Debian Jessie with Gnome. At least, it doesn't on my newer laptop. It did on my old laptop when I had Jessie installed, but not consistently.

However, I couldn't enable Mint to receive files until I installed


I'd been searching for quite a while before I found this information. Maybe there's a guide I missed, but if you're searching for how to receive files in Mint via Bluetooth, that's what you need.

VPN in Gnome on Debian

I was wondering recently if the IP locations given for posters on some internet forums could be faked: could somebody appear to be in one place and actually be in another?

I'd read something about VPN and looked into using it in Debian.It seems the required packages aren't installed by default. (They are in Linux Mint, which I'm trying out on my old laptop.)

Google suggested that PPTP was a good option for getting a free IP address in the US, and these are the packages required in Debian Gnome:


You can then go to network settings and create a new VPN connection (I've already created one here).
Click on the plus sign and choose VPN.
I didn't install Open VPN so the only option is PPTP.
Fill in the details from a VPN provider. Gateway is the provider's server name and NT Domain can be left blank. (This is not something I knew- it took me a while to find the information via a web search. I can't remember where I found it exactly, but no credit to me and thanks to whoever it was that put the information up somewhere.)
Hit "Advanced" and untick everything except MSCHAPv2, and enable Point-to-Point encryption MPPE. At least, this worked for me, again based on skimming through various pages of setup advice.
Now test your connection.

The settings given by the first provider I tried didn't work. I tried another provider's details and got a connection straight away. A search for "free American IP address VPN" brings up many providers.

The answer to my question is don't trust an IP location: with VPN a forum poster can appear to be somewhere they are not.