Friday, November 25, 2016

Automatic update notifications in Debian Testing

Automatic update notifications alert you to security and other updates that can be installed- and it's good to be made aware that these updates are available.

As I have pointed out before, automatic update notifications were broken in Debian Jessie, they apparently were fixed, but didn't work for a lot of people including me, they were fixed in Debian Testing, but didn't work for me after a recent update to Testing (Stretch) on this laptop.

I have now discovered that automatic update notifications are working in Testing- I just needed to enable show-upgrade-prerelease in dconf-editor.
After doing that, I started to see notifications.
As I wrote about previously, updates are now done offline in Gnome.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Things that are broken in Debian Stretch- file transfer from Android phone with Bluetooth

File transfer via Bluetooth from an Android phone is currently not working in Stretch. However, I was able to transfer a file today using a workaround.
The solution is to manually start obex and re-pair the phone with the computer. The command is systemctl --user start obex. (Found on

It seems obex isn't auto-started properly. (There's a bug report at Red Hat Bugzilla.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Things that are broken in Debian Jessie - Update

I pointed out in May 2016 that automatic updates were broken in Debian Jessie.

I came across a post on Ximions blog yesterday explaining the reason why.

A subsequent post claims that the issue was fixed at some point, but also mentions that many people using Jessie have never received automatic updates- which was true for me: running Jessie until last week, I never saw an automatic update notification.

The update also states that automatic updates are working in Debian Stretch.

A while back I posted about how I'd seen automatic update notifications in Debian Testing (Stretch) on my old laptop, and how updates are now carried out offline.

Last week I updated my current laptop to Stretch- but I haven't seen any update notifications yet.

Important to note that Stretch is still in Testing, but I do hope automatic updates are going to work in Stretch.

I've also blogged about how Bluetooth file transfer from an Android phone to Debian Jessie was broken.

Despite having seen this work previously in Testing, I've had no luck getting this to work in Debian Stretch recently- either on the computer it originally worked on, or my laptop recently updated to Stretch.

Another disappointment.

I will keep an eye on these issues as updates arrive to Stretch and report if I see these features start to work.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Shrink title bar and remove border in Gnome 3.22

I mentioned in my previous post that I don't especially like the border line under the title bar in Gnome 3.22 and think it's a waste of space, and posted a screenshot of how it looks in Firefox.
If you want to shrink the title bar and remove the border underneath, create a file gtk.css in ~/.congif/gtk-3.0 and add the following text:
window.ssd headerbar.titlebar {
    min-height: 0;

window.ssd headerbar.titlebar button.titlebutton {
    padding-top: 0px;
    padding-bottom: 0px;
    min-height: 0;

window.ssd headerbar.titlebar {
  border: none;
  background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom,
  shade(@theme_bg_color, 1.05),
  shade(@theme_bg_color, 1.00));
  box-shadow: inset 0 1px shade(@theme_bg_color, 1.4);
Restart Gnome Shell or log out and log in and Firefox now looks like this:
The code above was collated and edited by me from various sources: stackexchange, stackexchange and reddit.

It's also possible to add a line to reduce text height:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Debian Stretch preview

Debian Stretch has entered the first stage of freeze. Life is boring, so I decided to update. (Proviso: do not try this at home unless you understand that Stretch is still in Testing and can break. If it breaks, you get to keep the pieces.)

And so, here it is:
I should point out that Stretch artwork has not being finalised yet: the background is just one of several candidates- it's just my favourite.

The update was pleasantly painless with no issues.

I did soon find one bug- the mouse pointer will disappear after the screen blanks out and is reawakened.

However, Gnome now works with Wayland, and using Wayland, this bug is not an issue, so I'll be trying out Wayland for the time being. An issue with Wayland is that Synaptic does not start. I expect that may be true of other applications.

(See why I cautioned about using testing?)

Otherwise, everything seems to work well.

I will mention a few things that I have noticed.

A minor (but annoying) font artefact that appeared in Jessie does not seem to be present in Stretch- which is good. This is probably only something that affects my graphics card, so other users may not have noticed it.

Stretch comes with Gnome 3.22 (I don't think there will be another update before the final freeze). The most noticeable differences (for me) are that notifications are now at the top of the screen (similar to Android) and the pop-up notification tray at the bottom of the screen has gone. A big improvement, if you ask me- when other people were using Libre Office on my computer, they occasionally caused the notification tray to pop up, and didn't know how to get rid of it.

The Gnome music player can be controlled from the notification drop-down screen.
The Gnome file manager has been updated and the buttons simplified. The new buttons are far more intuitive- I could never find the option I wanted with the old buttons. One changes from icon to list view and the other gives you tab, zoom, sort and revel hidden files options- much easier to use and remember, and more in accord with the Gnome philosophy of intuitive minimalism.
There are of course many new features and improvements in Gnome 3.22, which you can find out about at

One striking visual change is that the title bar is now separated by a line from an application window- which doesn't look especially good in Firefox.
The title bar is a waste of space in Firefox anyway- pity there isn't a way for Gnome to get rid of it (you can with an extension in Firefox).

I've been using Debian Sid for a while on another computer, and have commented before on a number of things that were broken in Jessie, but seemed to have been fixed in subsequent updates. I will try to confirm that update notifications and Bluetooth file transfers from a phone are working in Stretch and post some screenshots in later posts.

Overall, Stretch seems like it's going to be a big improvement over Jessie for me.

It seems like something I could live with quite happily for the next two years, whereas with Jessie I thought, do I have to live with this for two years?