[xstreamos-discuss] xfce desktop?

Gabriele Bulfon gabriele.bulfon at sonicle.com
Fri Aug 8 11:48:06 CEST 2014

As I told you, we had already a running xfce at the beginning (before 1st beta release), I still can't
remember why we switched out of it, but I think we found lxde nicer.
So, give me a little time to check if I can make it run as is, and I'll give you instructions on what
to modify to have it running by default.
I've read Martin post. A bit scary!
Maybe I can try to provide the mdb traceback of the core flash 11.2 crates, to the illumos guys
and see what they think about it.
Da: Valrhona
A: Gabriele Bulfon
Cc: xstreamos-discuss at lists.sonicle.com
Data: 8 agosto 2014 11.37.42 CEST
Oggetto: Re: [xstreamos-discuss] xfce desktop?
I can try, but it will probably crash, too. Basically I am still
running OpenIndiana 151a7 on my main machine because it's the most
recent where FlashPlayer 11.2 actually works. This problem has been
solved by Martin Bochnig of OpenSXCE. but he seems not to have shared
how he did this:
I actually downloaded and installed OpenSXCE a while back, and I
believe the most recent 11.2 FlashPlayer worked (I certainly don't
remember it not working). I don't know if perhaps Martin can be
persuaded to share his secrets, or perhaps we could pool some funds
together to buy his expertise on this issue.
More generally, would Sonicle be interested in taking some donations
to speed up development? Basically I would really like to switch from
OI 151a7, and if you can get XFCE and the latest version of
Flashplayer working, and have all of the little things fixed in the
desktop, then given what is already done (latest Illumos, all of the
ZFS stuff), it's a really solid operating system for desktop use.
Peter Tribble has XFCE working; Martin figured out Flash, so it seems
like all of the pieces are already figured out. Is there any way we
can get the efforts combined?
I can't be the only user who would be really happy to see these final
pieces in place.
On Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 5:04 AM, Gabriele Bulfon
I tried replacing the libflashplayer with 11.2 , youtube crashes every time,
to me...
Can you make tests too?
The .so is under /usr/mozilla/firefox/browser/plugins
Just rename the current 10.x and place the 11.2
Da: Valrhona
A: Gabriele Bulfon
Cc: xstreamos-discuss at lists.sonicle.com
Data: 7 agosto 2014 13.49.00 CEST
Oggetto: Re: [xstreamos-discuss] xfce desktop?
Adobe appears to have archived older versions of Flash Player. The one
I mention for Solaris can be downloaded here:
On Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 7:43 AM, Valrhona
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
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
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
Just run once : pfexec svcadm enable
- Flash: The flash version is old, because newer ones seemed very
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
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
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
Da: Valrhona
A: Gabriele Bulfon
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
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:
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
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.
On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:18 AM, Valrhona
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
On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 4:21 AM, Gabriele Bulfon
Please let us know the features you miss from xfce, and we may
having it work again
Thanks a lot!
Da: Valrhona
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!
On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 4:31 PM, Valrhona
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!
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