Friday, October 26, 2012

Kubuntu 12.10 No Menubars in GTK?

Today, when I launched Audacity on my Kubuntu 12.10, I was greeted with a window with no menubar for File, Edit, etc. It reminded me of how there are no longer menubars in a lot of Windows apps.

No menu bars... where'd they go?
I thought about it a bit, trying to figure out why this happened. The conclusion I came to was that this must be the result of some change in Ubuntu 12.10 related to Unity...

Image from:
Notice how Ubuntu integrates the menu bars from GTK applications into Unity?
In Ubuntu, apparently, in order to make menu bars show up in Unity instead of the application's window, they export the menus through DBus. This makes sense for Ubuntu, I guess; it's part of the reason why I never really liked the whole Unity thing.

However, the menus don't show up anywhere obvious in KDE:
After a quick Google search, I found one possible solution. There is now a KDE widget that does the same thing as Unity's menu-bar-stealing-system.

Huh, this is new...
Well, my menus are there... but YUCK!
Surely there must be a better way... thankfully, the fix is extremely easy.

How To Fix It

Simply uninstall appmenu-gtk and appmenu-gtk3. Restart your apps, and your menus will be back!

sudo apt-get remove appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3

If I had to guess, GTK apps must install these packages by default since that's what they'd need in Ubuntu. However, these packages are just dumb for KDE users. Thankfully, the fix is very easy.

I hope this is a bug and not a feature. If Ubuntu starts to deviate so much to make Unity run, I hope Kubuntu/Xubuntu won't suffer. If they do, Ubuntu will lose even more users than it already has. Not that there aren't good alternatives, Mint Debian is continually getting better. And Fedora's not bad, I just like the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) much better than any alternatives.
Unity has had this feature for longer than just 12.10 though. Anyone know why this suddenly became a problem in 12.10?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why I Like Buckling Springs over Cherry MX Switches

If you're into mechanical keyboards, you almost certainly are familiar with Cherry MX Switches, they're the most popular these days. Especially MX Blues...

Personally, I prefer the buckling springs on the old IBM clicky keyboards.

Don't get me wrong, I think Cherry MX Blue switches are great, but I still think buckling springs are better.

The thing I don't like about Cherry tactile switches is that there is a noticeable "bump" on the release of a key.

This effect is nearly absent (in fact, it's slightly the opposite effect, it feels more like a springy pop) with buckling springs.

This is visible in the force diagrams.

Cherry Switches. MX Blue (and Brown) switches have a noticeable drop in force on the return, this results in a noticeable bump in the return of the keypress. It has the opposite feeling of the Buckling Springs' return path.
Buckling Springs. Notice how the return path is almost completely smooth? It actually jumps up a little near the end of the return of the key press.

As you can see from the two diagrams, the feel of the key return is completely opposite on the Cherry tactile switches versus the IBM buckling springs. The actuation is fairly similar though.

This is the main reason I don't like MX Browns, I'm not really a fan of the tactile feel of Cherry switches... I do like MX Blues, but mainly because I like the clicking (even if I can't hear it with headphones). It's been awhile since I've used Browns though, so, perhaps I wouldn't notice a huge difference between blues and browns if I can't hear the click. All I remember was that I originally thought Browns and Blues were the same, except for the noise, but I remember them feeling different when I tried them...
Also, the actuation force is too low on MX Blues for me... would love to see some keyboards with MX Greens (basically, MX Blue switches with MX Black springs), but they don't exist.

Either way, bucking springs are better.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kubuntu: Line In Hardware Passthrough

If I record music through Line In, I also want to be able to listen to it in real time while recording.

I don't want to use additional hardware splitters or software playthrough in Audacity (which has high latency). In Windows, I would normally enable playthrough for Line In through Control Panel or through the driver software for my soundcard. However, I couldn't find an easy way to do it through kmix. I eventually found that alsamixer will do what I want, and it's an easy enough fix.

Open a terminal, type "alsamixer".
Using the arrow keys, scroll right to "Line", hit "M" to unmute, and press Up until the volume is at its maximum. You should now hear all input through Line In immediately on your speakers.