Why I don’t like KDE-Plasma anymore

By Wayne Boyd

I don’t care so much about how much system resources a desktop environment uses in a Linux distribution. Most modern computers can handle that sort of thing without even blinking an eye. So when people say they run Openbox, LXQT or XFCE because they want a system that doesn’t eat up memory and speed, I don’t care about that.

So far I haven’t found the best desktop environment for my personal needs. I have, of course, used KDE-Plasma for a long time off and on, and frankly, I like the sliding or cubed desktop rotation thing.

I don’t like that I can’t do that anymore using ctrl-alt-right (or left) arrow. I have to either put the mouse over the panel and rotate the mouse wheel, or click on the desktop pager in the taskbar. Frankly, that’s just annoying to me.

As I understand it, KDE-Plasma has moved away from virtual desktops and they prefer you to use Activities, which I get but don’t need and don’t use. Even with Activities, switching is annoying.

I do like XFCE because you can switch with the ctrl-alt-arrow thing, and with the mouse by rotating the wheel. I also like that you can have multiple wallpapers on each of your virtual desktops. I’m not happy that there’s no animation with the switching, but that’s okay with me as a trade off.

Mate is pretty much the same thing but without multiple wallpapers.

My favorite right now, oddly enough, is Openbox as implemented in the maboxlinux distribution, but not because it supports multiple wallpapers (it doesn’t) or rotating wallpapers (it doesn’t) but just because I like what the maboxlinux people have done with it. It works really well with my ultra-wide curved monitor as the image below demonstrates how I’m writing this article.

Mabox Linux lets you put a website on the left with Superkey-leftarrow and on the right with Superkey-rightarrow, exactly splitting the screen down the middle. Many other cool window placements are available, too.

Every time I think of coming back to a distro that uses Plasma, I’m annoyed by this virtual-desktop switching issue.

In fact, when it comes down to it I really like Gnome’s implementation of virtual-desktops the best with their dynamic allocation. Essentially Gnome starts with one virtual desktop, but when you open a program a second virtual desktop becomes available, and expands (or contracts) as necessary. With Gnome extensions you can even make the desktops scroll horizontally instead of the default vertical arrangement. You can even make it so when you get to the end of your virtual desktops in Gnome it automatically goes back to the first.

All this is done with Gnome extensions and this process, making a Gnome system to my liking, takes a whole lot of work and I wind up adding so many extensions that it doesn’t look or feel like Gnome anymore at all and eventually seems to slow down the typing on my keyboard.

Which is why I keep coming back to Openbox on the maboxlinux installation. I do need to customize it to my liking, but isn’t that part of the challenge and fun of Linux anyway?

Not to try to sell you desktop environments you might not like, I just don’t like KDE-Plasma anymore. I wish they’d provide an easy fix to the virtual desktop switching problem.

Here’s an image of my maboxlinux desktop on my ultra-wide monitor (3440 X 1440).

Wayne Boyd's mabox Desktop
My maboxlinux desktop on my ultra-widescreen monitor.

My Mabox Linux – a work in progress

Is it maboxlinux or mabox linux or Mabox Linux or MaBox Linux or MaBoxLinux? I’m not entirely sure. I’m going to call it MaBox Linux.

This is what my customized MaBox Linux desktop looks like on my ultrawide curved monitor.

It’s a work in progress.

So let’s get to the name: mabox. This is a distribution that’s based on Manjaro Linux which in turn is based on Arch Linux. On top of that a highly customized desktop using Openbox gives it a lot of flare. So Ma(njaro)+(Open)box=mabox. I think the whole “don’t capitalize the name” thing is pretty lame. Also, should the word “Linux” be without a space or with a space? Is it maboxlinux or mabox linux or Mabox Linux or MaBox Linux or MaBoxLinux? I’m not entirely sure. I’m going to call it MaBox Linux.

I like it, even though I’ve not been a fan of Manjaro Linux for a long time now. I’m more of an Arch Linux kinda guy, and I find the Manjaro people have been less than inviting and I don’t like what they’ve done overall to good ol’ Arch. When I was using Manjaro some years ago I said some things I probably shouldn’t have said in their forums and some of them said something back to me and I just decided never to talk to them again and moved on. I’ve been doing this Linux thing since 1998.

Nonetheless, I recognized Manjaro is a solid Linux distro based on Archlinux, and I like what the MaBox Linux people have done to build on that. So although I’m no fan of Manjaro per se, I’m willing to run a distro built upon Manjaro, and that’s maboxlinux.

Underneath there are still aspects of Manjaro that I just don’t like. For example, don’t try to run grub-customizer with Manjaro. You’ll break it because the Manjaro people just had to mess with Arch’s grub in ways that wasn’t at all necessary. If you ask them why they kind of look down their noses at you because “their” version of Arch Linux is better. It’s not. In fact, half the time the Manjaro installer breaks a system, but the Manjaro people don’t seem to hear about that.

I digress. Pushing Manjaro more to the background, along comes MaBox, a distribution based on Manjaro that uses Openbox as the display manager and desktop environment, and they’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve even gone so far as to make it my main distro that I live in on my desktop.

You can take a look at MaBox Linux here.

My New Favorite Linux Distribution – MaBox Linux

A new Linux distribution that has quickly become my main OS on my home computer.

It’s been awhile since I posted anything on my website. We are, of course, still in a pandemic, but I’m in Texas and as of writing Texas is coming out of one of the worst freezes and winter storms in modern history.

This has given me plenty of time to play with my 20 year old hobby: installing Linux distributions.

Linux distributions are a dime a dozen these days. Most are based on somebody else’s distribution. Ubuntu is based on Debian. Mint is based on Ubuntu. Sabayon is based on Gentoo. Manjaro is based on Arch. So on and so on. Some are independently developed, like Gentoo, Red Hat, Arch, Debian, Slackware and so on.

Many distros specialize in certain ways, like for education, penetration testing, being as much “Windows-like” as they can for newbies, et cetera.

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly stumbled on a new distro that’s so revolutionary that I just had to make it my main distribution! It’s called Mabox Linux.

Now, Mabox is based on another distribution – Manjaro – which in turn is based on Archlinux, and it is using a desktop environment that I would never ever have considered making my main DE – Openbox. But let me tell you. Wow.

This distribution is not only wow – beautiful. It’s very functional, very customizable and in every way the perfect desktop environment for an operating system because of the special optimizations they have applied. I’ve included a screenshot of my desktop below. The only thing I’ve added is my own customized conky with the time in hours, minutes and seconds.

Customization is both easy and frustrating. For example, I recently discovered how to add items to my panel and I did add some items. Now I want to rearrange the order the items are in the panel and I can’t remember how to get back to the config file. So it’s a challenge, but wow. Look at the screen and the functionality. Not bad at all for an Openbox desktop environment.

If you’re looking for a Linux distro to satisfy you needs, this just might be the one. So download your ISO today.

Screenshot of slightly customized installation of Maboxlinux, a very good Arch/Manjaro Distro that uses a highly customized Openbox as both display manager and desktop environment.

SSL certificants aren’t free anymore

It’s been a pain and during the pandemic I’ve not been up-keeping with my self-installed, free SSL certificates for my websites, including rationalthinking101.com.

Alas, however, zeroSSL is now charging for SSL certificates if you want more than 3, and after 3 months you don’t get any more freebies.

So I did some research. GoDaddy wants to charge me $80 a year for one SSL certificate if I install it myself. zeroSSL charges $10/month for 3 domains. This means $180/year with Godaddy and $120/year with zeroSSL for 3 domains.

So I went again with zeroSSL.

Time Portal

Even as Gene stood with his back toward the chalkboard, sweat beading on his forehead, the blue disc hovered silently if not defiantly.

It was baffling. Nothing was reappearing on the other side.

Where did everything go? They’d tossed in a pencil, alarm clock (with the alarm sounding), a handball, a basketball… All had vanished.

The calculations seemed simple enough. A 60-second time portal. Things were disappearing when you threw them in but weren’t emerging from the other side a minute later as they should. Calculations were recalculated and double checked. Everything was as it should be. What was happening here?

So now Gene rested his hand on a powerful transmitter sitting on a cart with wheels. He planned to push the cart through the portal and have them search for the signal that emitted from it 60 seconds in the future.

So the cart was wheeled forward and pushed into the portal where upon it abruptly vanished from sight.

The technicians placed on their headsets and adjusted the dials on their radios while a 60-second timer was initiated. Find the signal 60 seconds from now and they would know where things were going and why things weren’t reappearing on the other side.

What they discovered was truly astonishing, but in retrospect completely logical.

Yes, the signal was detected. Very faint and very distant but completely detectable. So where did the transmitter go?

The transmitter was in space, apparently orbiting the sun, thousands of miles away from Earth.

In the sixty seconds that the transmitter traveled into the future, Earth itself had moved away by thousands of miles.

At the equator, the rotation of Earth is about 1,037 mph (1,670 km/h), or over 17 miles a minute. Meanwhile, Earth has an orbital speed around the sun of about 67,000 mph (107,000 km/h), or about 1,100 miles per minute. The sun and the solar system orbit the center of the Milky Way Galaxy at approximately 448,000 mph (720,000 km/h) or 7,466 miles per minute.

So when the transmitter was pushed into the time portal and jumped 60 seconds into the future, the Earth spun around it’s axis 17 miles at the equator, 1,100 miles around the sun and 7,466 miles around the galactic center. Simply put, the transmitter came out sixty seconds later exactly where it went in, but Earth itself was no longer in that location.

Therefore the pencil, the ringing alarm clock, the handball, basketball and the transmitter all emerged into space, orbiting the sun over 8,000 miles behind Earth’s orbit.

It turns out the time portal was the easiest and most efficient way to send things into space.

How to install a free SSL Certificate using cPanel

If you want to do this, the only hassle is that you have to redo it every 3 months. So if you’re willing to do that, you will never have to pay for another SSL certificate for your website.

Here it is the secret in easy steps. Bookmark this page.

Go to zerossl.com

zerossl.com homepage.

Click “Online Tools”

You will go to a page that says: FREE SSL Certificate Wizard. Click on the START button in the top section. See below.

This brings you to the following screen.

In this case we will ignore the left half of the screen. Type your domain name on the right side. Use both yourdomain.com separated by a comma and a space with www.yourdomain.com as indicated above.

On the bottom right there are two boxes, click them both. Then click NEXT.

This will now “Generate your CSR”. Just wait until it completes. It takes a minute.

Then you come to this screen below.

Here you download a copy of your SSL request and click next. Your account key will then be generated. This also takes a minute. Just wait until it’s done.

Then download your two keys. Once that’s done, do not close this page. You will still need it. Open a new tab and go to your cPanel. In my case I use GoDaddy.com, but whatever provider you use, the cPanel setup will be basically the same.

Inside your cPanel, open your File Manager.

  1. Find a folder called public_html and navigate into it.
  2. Inside public_html create a folder called .well-known [the dot in the beginning is important]
  3. Navigate into .well-known and create another folder called acme-challenge
  4. Navigate into that folder and then upload the two files you downloaded from zerossl.com. They will look something like this:

Once these files are uploaded with your cPanel, navigate back to your cPanel main page and scroll down until you see “Security”. Under that section click on SSL/TLS.

Then click on the last item below. It’s under Install and Manage SSL for your site (HTTPS) and it’s called Manage SSL sites.

Then you come to a page called “Manage Installed SSL Websites”. You must find your website for your certificate.

Then click on Update Certificate. This will bring you to a page with three boxes. You will paste information into these three boxes that you still have on your open zerossl.com page.

Information from the right hand side of the zerossl.com page is actually two keys. Copy that and paste it into the top box of your cPanel Manage SSL page. It will say it’s an invalid certificate because you have two certificates. You have to find the middle part and cut and remove it out, then paste that into the bottom (not the middle) of the Manage SSL page. Then you go back to the zerossl.com page and copy the information from the left side of the screen and paste it into the middle box of your Manage SSL page.

That’s it.

GoDaddy vs WordPress.com: Pros and Cons

For two years I hosted this site on WordPress.com even though I had a GoDaddy hosting plan. Previously, all my sites on GoDaddy were designed by me from the ground up and were mostly static websites. So when my wife decided to create her own site on WordPress.com, she talked me into starting my own: RationalThinking101.com.

I liked having a WordPress site on WordPress. The pros were many. I could see Stats, how many visitors I was getting and from which parts of the world. I would get likes and comments left by other wordpress.com users. It was great.

However, when it came around to renew the whole package this year, it seemed expensive. Why pay all that when I can host it myself on GoDaddy for free (since I already owned a hosting plan there).

Having made up my mind, I began the arduous procedure of how to move the site from one hosting plan to the other, how to install a free SSL certificate, how to get all the files transfered and so on. It was a hassle, and in the end not perfect. The site has been transferred but some of the media files are missing and some of the links don’t work.

Not only that, no one from wordpress.com “likes” or visits my site anymore, and I don’t have stats telling me how many countries my visitors are coming from.

It is cheaper.

So the pros of moving are: It’s cheaper.

The cons of moving are:

  1. It was a hassle and some files were lost.
  2. Some links don’t work anymore.
  3. I don’t have the stats I used to have.
  4. I don’t get “likes” from my wordpress.com followers.
  5. In fact, I have no idea at the moment what kind of traffic this site generates at all.

I’d say the cons outweigh the pros and it’s better to have a site hosted on wordpress.com or wordpress.org unless price is your number one bottom line.

What would the world be like if everything ran Linux and Windows and MAC/OS never came about?

This is a very interesting question with two answers. The short answer and the long answer.

The short answer is….

The stock market would be much different and many industries that depend on revenue from Windows and Mac/OS would not exist. Computers would be more secure and although there would still be some hacking into computer systems, it would be much less.

However bad that sounds, it simply would be a different parallel universe because….

The long answer is…

Bill Gates and his wife have done a lot of good in the world with all of their money. That wouldn’t have happened.

On the other hand, the whole idea of ransoming and monetizing an operating system is bad for a freedom seeking society.

Even now, all of the top 100 mainframe supercomputers in the world run Linux, not Windows or Mac/OS.

Windows is fading as the desktop computer fades (but will never completely go away). Now we have a lot of reliance on smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and consequently the cloud. Even so, although the Android operating system is in itself a Linux distro, it certainly has been monetized and ransomed in almost all major brands of phones, including Google who created the Android OS.

The conclusion is…

The world would be a little different, but there would be and always will be big fortune 500 companies making money one way or another off of operating systems.