[xstreamos-discuss] xfce desktop?

Valrhona valrhona at gmail.com
Thu Aug 7 13:43:06 CEST 2014

Thank you again for all of your hard work in making this distribution.
I have a few more notes for you:

1. Audio: it turns out that after rebooting, it can work. I still
can't find the volume control anywhere, but the internal sound card on
my Dell Workstation gets autodetected, and I can listen to sound.

I also have a dedicated headphone amplifier, that connects through USB
(I don't know off-hand which USB chipset and DAC are in inside, but
it's called the Fubar IV from Firestone audio). It works without a
driver on all operating systems I have tried: Windows, Linux (various)
and OpenIndiana 151a7. It does not work well on XStreamOS, with some
periodic clicking and oscillations, even after reboot. If I take it
out, I need to reboot in order for the internal audio to be

But other than the UI issue (can't find any sound controls), after
rebooting a few times, the audio works reliably.

2. Flash: I am using version If I recall correctly, the
version in XStreamOS is based on Flash 10. The issue is that, I think,
Adobe moved more stages of the video rendering pipeline into the GPU
for hardware acceleration between version 10 and version 11, so it
would be good to have the more modern flashplayer. At present, the
video gets a little choppy when I run it fullscreen (which doesn't
happen with VLC player, so I think it is the flashplayer version).

That being said, the version you have in there is quite stable. I
watched several hours of video without a crash. But then after a
reboot, Firefox kept crashing and wouldn't start any video. Until
another couple of reboots, and then everything was okay again. So it's
really finicky. Either it is stable for hours, or videos won't play at

3. DVD: I have a slot-loading slim DVD player in my machine, and don't
have a spare (and rarely use the DVD drive), so it might be a while
before I can test it directly.

4. XFCE: I agree that there probably are not enough resources to
support more than one desktop. But the LXDE as implemented right now
is too rough for non-experts to use. Lots of things are missing:
volume control, consistent ability to edit menus, which applications
show up (if you want to add a terminal to the menu system, it's
different than the one that is on the Cairo dock, etc. etc.). I think
this is something that we computer nerds kind of forget about, which
is making sure the UI works and is polished and documented. I want to
set up XStreamOS (i.e. a clean Illumos distribution) for some non-UNIX
users, to just get them started, and right now the LXDE just isn't
easy enough to work with that I can give it to someone else.

My personal feeling, and it's just a feeling, is that XFCE is a bit
easier to navigate, and with a couple of tools (e.g. alacarte), the
user can set things up easily, find all of the relevant applications,
and it isn't too hard to get working. With LXDE you have separate
editors for the menu and for the dock, and they don't have the same
access. Basic things are missing (like volume control), and you have
to drop down to the command-line (which of course I prefer, but not
easy for newbies) to get a number of things working, because the icons
never show up in the menu, and you can't see them when you want to add
to the menus, either.

According to distrowatch (I think), about twice as many people use
XFCE as LXDE, if I read the numbers correctly. It's the choice for
Linux Mint XFCE, Xubuntu, Tribblix... basically the only common
denominator. GNOME 2 is dead, MATE is a Mint fork that exists only
within that distribution, GNOME 3 is huge and unwieldy, Cinnamon is
again Mint-specific, Enlightenment is an interesting concept but not
fully implemented. That leaves XFCE, KDE and LXDE; KDE I have not seen
anywhere in the Illumos world, leaving XFCE and LXDE. pcmanfm runs
just fine, and I prefer it over Thunar (faster, and has tabs, which
Thunar doesn't). There are various XFCE components that installed
themselves when I added that package, and can be found in the LXDE
menus, but not in any uniform fashion. Given that Tribblix has XFCE
running just fine, I don't see any showstopper. So I think if you
support that, you have a better chance of people feeling comfortable
trying it out coming from Linux (either Mint XFCE or Xubuntu).

5. Have you looked into the pkgsrc repositories? There is a lot of
stuff there, and Jonathan Perkins got it working for Illumos. I have
used it on OmniOS just fine. Would this interfere with your version of


On Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 8:57 AM, Gabriele Bulfon
<gabriele.bulfon at sonicle.com> wrote:
> First of all, thanks a lot for all the feedback you're giving us.
> It's of great value.
> I'll try to answer all your questions:
> - Audio: we still have to figure out how to have rbac allow console users to
> access
> the audio devices (which should be a basic setting on illumos, but still
> don't know why
> it's not doing it)
> So, we have temporarily added an svc to setup permissions on audio devs,
> this should have
> done his work already, on pkg update, but maybe something in between
> replaced permissions
> again.
> Just run once : pfexec svcadm enable
> svc:/application/desktop-audio/audio-permissions
> - Flash: The flash version is old, because newer ones seemed very unstable,
> but if you can
> help us find one that works better, we will absolutely update it
> - VB Ext Pack: We will take a look at the problem
> - USB Stick: We will take a look at the problem
> - DVD: Let us know if the DVD problem was caused by your drive
> - Firefox two-factor auth: we will take a look at it
> - LXDE vs XFCE: We mainly started building the desktop with XFCE, then we
> encountered
> found LXDE looked more modern and promising, so we switched very early.
> That's why you find xfce packages already available on our repo.
> There must be a simple way to let xfce run instead of lxde, I will take a
> look ant let you
> know if it's possible.
> Actually, we wouldn't like to end up having "every possible window manager,
> session manager,
> login manager" and allow users to select its own.
> This would lead to a non focused desktop, with different problems coming
> from different parts.
> So we would like to choose a fixed number of components building the
> desktop, than concentrate
> on applications.
> We will check back xfce, anyway.
> Thanks again, let us know your experience when you go on checking XStream
> Desktop.
> Gabriele.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Da: Valrhona <valrhona at gmail.com>
> A: Gabriele Bulfon <gabriele.bulfon at sonicle.com>
> Cc: xstreamos-discuss at lists.sonicle.com
> Data: 28 luglio 2014 7.23.46 CEST
> Oggetto: Re: [xstreamos-discuss] xfce desktop?
> I managed to get a few more things working:
> 1. nVidia Quadro 295 NVS now driving dual displayport monitors: 30" at
> 2560x1600, and 27" at 2560x1440. The nVidia driver works great.
> 2. Got some Java programs working, specifically JabRef (for academic
> references), but the colors are a little funny.
> 3. Installed and can run Linux Mint in VirtualBox 4.3.14.
> 4. can modify the application bar and the dock to get more programs to run,
> etc.
> 5. I could change the default application opening PDFs with Thunar
> (after installing the xfce packages)
> A number of things don't work:
> 1. Not sure how to enable audio, but can't get any sounds out of
> anything. I can't find any volume control, VLC shows no installed
> devices, and I get a warning from VirtualBox that there are no audio
> devices installed.
> 2. The older version of flash bundled with firefox crashes often (e.g.
> with YouTube) and gives errors on updating and doesn't work with many
> major websites, e.g. facebook.
> 3. Cannot install the VirtualBox extension pack, which gives error
> exit code 255: VBoxExtPackHelperApp: error: Invalid parameter:
> VMrcExit=2.
> Details: Result Code: NS_ERROR_FAILURE (0x80004005)
> 4. Trying to eject a USB stick causes pcmanfm to crash, and all file
> windows disappear. It's easy to restart, but still not great behavior.
> 5. disks in my DVD drive are not recognized and do not automount. This
> might just be a problem with my drive, though.
> 6. I can't get my password vault with two-factor authentication to
> work with Firefox. I use LastPass and a YubiKey. This works fine on
> every other Linux
> 6. Lots of small stuff with LXDE. editing the menus isn't very easy,
> and some of the applications don't appear; but when you add items to
> the Cairo-dock, you get more options for installed programs. Changing
> the themes occasionally breaks the display, such that text doesn't
> appear. Restarting / logging out have fixed this problem during the
> times I tried it. This really isn't that close to be ready for anyone
> who is not very, very comfortable with various forms of UNIX
> Overall, I think this is really some very good progress toward a great
> distribution. I like what you have done:
> Emphasis on making a few modern packages work (firefox, vlc,
> libreoffice), instead of trying to be all things to all people (e.g.
> OpenIndiana) and have things that remain broken for months (I still
> can't upgrade from 151a7, because that is the last version where
> everything basically works). The problem with staying on an old
> version, of course, is that you don't get any updates. And because you
> have the applications packaged properly, there are no manual updates
> to worry about there. This is a big improvement.
> XStreamOS is a bit more mature than a lot of the smaller Illumos-based
> distributions; I always get worried if a major piece of software is
> basically an unpaid project of a single individual (Tribblix,
> OpenSXCE) because there is no guarantee it will be around in the
> future.
> Performance is overall quite good; the nfs client is excellent, and
> the responsiveness I get from my OmniOS NFS server is great.
> What I think would be really helpful going forward is just to get a
> simple, easy desktop to standardize on, and I think XFCE is probably
> the best choice now. It's widely used in a lot of distributions, and
> comparatively simple and fast. There needs to be a bit of work making
> sure things work, but going with XFCE 4.10 and Alacarte for menu
> editing (menulibre just isn't working well, even on Linux Mint where
> it should be) would be a big help. It's easy enough to set up, and
> simple enough that the less expert can be taught to use it, if not
> modify it, pretty easily. As we know, GNOME 2 is sadly dead (otherwise
> I would recommend using it), GNOME 3 is a non-starter, Cinnamon / MATE
> are too Mint-specific.
> And perhaps most importantly, Peter Tribble has gotten XFCE to work
> with his Tribblix distribution, so it clearly can be done.
> Most of the rest of the hard work is already finished, in terms of 90%
> of what I do on a daily basis: updated FireFox, VLC, OpenOffice,
> modern nVidia driver. The last major bits are audio (see above), full
> VirtualBox with extensions, and the most recent version of FlashPlayer
> working, as it does on OpenIndiana 151a7, and with OpenSXCE (which
> Martin Bochnig figured out, but I don't entirely understand).
> I know there is always a big debate as to which is the best approach,
> but given the size of the Ilumos community, particularly on the
> desktop end, I wish everyone could come together and work on the same
> distribution, because otherwise everything gets spread too thinly. All
> of the important pieces have been figured out, and so we know
> everything can actually work, and it's just a matter of getting it all
> put together.
> Congrats on such a great job that you all at Sonicle have done to get
> so far, and close to a great distribution. If you could incorporate a
> few of the other developments that others have already made work, I
> think we finally will have a great usable desktop that not just
> replaces but exceeds OpenSolaris.
> Thanks!
> Peter
> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:18 AM, Valrhona <valrhona at gmail.com> wrote:
>> The main issue is the convenience of settling upon a single desktop
>> environment (if possible) for all of my different systems. I use XFCE
>> as part of an official ubuntu distribution (Xubuntu), and in the Linux
>> Mint XFCE edition; and XFCE has already been implemented on Illumos
>> with Tribblix, so it should be possible to make it work in a
>> relatively straightforward manner. I am fine with GNOME 2, since that
>> is what I use with OpenIndiana and am accustomed to it, but it's a
>> dead-end path since the code is not being actively developed. XFCE is,
>> for lack of better reasons, what I decided was the easiest for me to
>> learn when I played with it; in my experience, LXDE and Enlightenment
>> were a bit less polished. All desktop environments can be
>> idiosyncratic, but I suppose I just know XFCE's best.
>> As for the XStreamOS implementation, I can't get the right programs to
>> open the right files; PDFs are opened in gimp, instead of Evince, and
>> I couldn't find in a few minutes of looking how to fix this. The
>> right-click behavior doesn't open a drop down menu, which must be
>> prompted by holding down the right mouse button. I couldn't find the
>> menu editor, etc. etc. I am sure there is nothing fundamental about
>> this, but I just fine XFCE easier and more intuitive, and it is more
>> widely distributed among other Unix and Linux distributions.
>> Those are just my thoughts, though more experienced users may
>> disagree. Thanks again for all of the important work on this
>> distribution!
>> On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 4:21 AM, Gabriele Bulfon
>> <gabriele.bulfon at sonicle.com> wrote:
>>> Please let us know the features you miss from xfce, and we may reconsider
>>> having it work again
>>> Thanks a lot!
>>> Gabriele.
>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Da: Valrhona <valrhona at gmail.com>
>>> A: xstreamos-discuss at lists.sonicle.com
>>> Data: 17 luglio 2014 9.53.59 CEST
>>> Oggetto: Re: [xstreamos-discuss] xfce desktop?
>>> To elaborate, I have downloaded the xfce package in the package
>>> manager, but don't know how to activate it, or if it will work. Have
>>> you guys tested this out?
>>> I got a lot of other stuff working that I use regularly: Wine (with
>>> Irfanview), LaTeX, Eclipse (though only 4.3.2 works, not 4.4),
>>> VirtualBox, git. The biggest thing remaining is the desktop; if you
>>> can get xfce working, then with all of the other hard work you have
>>> done (updated Firefox, LibreOffice, VLC, NVIDIA, pcmanfm), I should be
>>> able to switch over from OpenIndiana completely.
>>> So I hope you might be able to take a look into this soon, since I am
>>> definitely looking to make the switch as soon as I have a desktop I
>>> can use every day. Thank you so much for all of your hard work! This
>>> is really a great gift, once everything is working!
>>> Peter
>>> On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 4:31 PM, Valrhona <valrhona at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Thanks for all of your hard work and updates. It's very exciting to
>>>> see you have a clean code base for an Illumos desktop, with so many of
>>>> the important applications working. I am used to using GNOME 2 (from
>>>> OpenIndiana) and XFCE on other platforms. I find the Cairo desktop a
>>>> bit simple; is there a way to get XFCE running on XStreamOS? That
>>>> would be a huge step forward for usability for me. Thank you!
>>>> Peter
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> XStreamOS-discuss mailing list
>>> XStreamOS-discuss at lists.sonicle.com
>>> http://lists.sonicle.com/mailman/listinfo/xstreamos-discuss

More information about the XStreamOS-discuss mailing list