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 ...  Using HOME and END in BASH  ...  0 Comments  ... 

On a few of my Debian systems which have been upgraded in-place several times, I have had the frustrating problem of being unable to use the home and end keys in bash. Instead of going to the front or end of the line, they just insert a tilde instead. Today I found a little time to research it and I might as well document what I found here so I can find it again.

The file which controls this behavior for bash on a Debian system is ~/.inputrc or if that does not exist, /etc/inputrc and in my case, /etc/inputrc was an old version which was missed during upgrades. I fetched a copy of the file from a system I recently installed and presto, bash is behaving just like I expect.

Here are the specific lines from the file (commented out in the old version):

# allow the use of the Home/End keys
"\e[1~": beginning-of-line
"\e[4~": end-of-line

# allow the use of the Delete/Insert keys
"\e[3~": delete-char
"\e[2~": quoted-insert

 ...  KDEs Become XFCEs  ...  0 Comments  ... 

Yesterday I finally got tired of KDE4 pulling senseless stunts like automatically restarting that incredibly annoying knotify4 after you kill it (unless you chmod -x the binary... HAH!) and moved ahead with my plan to try another windowing system. Extensive research a few weeks ago resulted in a pretty short list of candidates: Compiz and XFCE. Since I rather detest Gnome, Compiz had a slight edge since it can use KDE themes. However, XFCE had its own edge because it is designed to be fast, and it doesn't say Novell on it anywhere. I decided to try XFCE first and fall back to Compiz if the themes annoyed me too much.

So far, I am thinking I will be sticking with XFCE. As expected, there is no theme I like as much as I did a couple of the KDE ones, but that and my other quibbles about XFCE are all fairly small overall. In no particular order, here are some pros and cons I've seen as a long-time KDE user switching to XFCE.


  1. XFCE's task bar is the Gnome task bar and it sucks. It sorts things in whatever random order it feels like. It will arbitrarily switch back and forth between one row of tasks and two rows (if you have made it tall enough for two) and there is no way I have found to make it just settle on two. I expect I will miss KDE's task bar for a long time. While I was writing this, the task list switched from two rows to one. I think it was because a window changed its title a little...
  2. There is no theme (in the Debian packaging of XFCE, anyway) with (1) a style of window decorations I like, (2) some indication (color change, outline, etc.) when I mouse over the window controls and (3) visibly different colors for all the highlighting hints. Also most of them are either pure white or some horrible saturated color for the backgrounds. I still need to try and find a Gnome theme package if one exists and is not yet installed.
  3. Some XFCE config windows are modal and it prevents you from switching to another workspace using the workspace widget. At least I can get around this one using ALT-TAB.
  4. This is a very minor quibble, but I wish all the configuration dialogues accessible from the XFCE 4 Settings Manager would load inside the manager. Most do, but some open new windows instead. It is jarring.
  5. XFCE successfully applies styles to Firefox and Deluge ... this is perhaps both a con and a pro. For now it is mostly a con because I am having to get used to these applications looking different from their usual un-themed appearance.
  6. You can't create an application launcher on the toolbar by dragging the application from the application menu like you can in KDE. So far the only way I have found is to create a new launcher and then fill in all the fields. On the other hand, I only do this when setting things up anyway.


  1. The clock. I am using Orage Clock and OMG it lets me put date output strings in there! *heart*
  2. There are lots of configuration options but after a little bit using XFCE I can find them pretty quickly. The settings manager is better organized than KDE4's settings manager. XFCE offers low-level configuration in a number of places where KDE offers dumbed-down high-level configuration.
  3. The screen-saver is xscreensaver and the XFCE integration is about as good as KDE's.
  4. So far I haven't found any real issues with the copy-paste buffer. I still need to run a Java app and see how that works, though.
  5. Automatic screen locking seems to work correctly (KDE4's screen locking has issues in Debian and Fedora at least).
  6. So far, nothing has popped up a giant box across whatever I'm working on just to tell me I'm low on disk space, need to restart for updates (yup, KDE wants to grow up to be Windows), etc.
  7. XFCE with compositing turned on is using less compositing resources than KDE was, leaving enough that I can resize mplayer windows without running out. Very nice!

I'll probably edit these lists a couple of times over the next few weeks.

(I'm thinking this should have the tune of Flowers Become Screens by Delerium in the background...)

 ...  mussh in upcoming debian/stable  ...  0 Comments  ... 

Just received the following missive in my inbox:

FYI: The status of the mussh source package
in Debian's testing distribution has changed.

Previous version: (not in testing)
Current version: 0.7-1

 ...  Mega Healthy Bean Soup  ...  0 Comments  ... 

I made a batch of this yesterday and it's good enough to blog on. If your biggest pot is only a 12 quart and you are not both Master and Commander, you might want to use only 8 cups of the bean mix. One thing to note is this recipe is very low fat, so if that is not to your tastes I suggest adding some olive oil, butter or pork lard to the beans.


10 cups (3 bags) Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Mix
4 cups (1 bag) Bob's Red Mill Pearl Barley
4 cups (one box) Pacific Natural Foods Low-Sodium Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth
3 lb (5 ... or more) organic chicken breasts
1 bottle red table wine (I used Castillo de Fuendejalon 2006 Crianza, a tasty but very dry red you can get for about $6)
6 large dried red peppers (new mexicos or similar)
1 or 2 yellow onions
several cloves of garlic

Spices to taste ... I used cumin, hungarian sweet paprika, ground chipotle powder, yellow mustard powder, brown mustard seed, salt and pepper.


Soaking the beans is recommended but in a pinch you can boil them for a minimum of ten minutes instead. Rinse the beans. Dump them in a really big pot (18 quart if you have one), then add the chicken broth and enough water to fill the pot about half way. Bring the beans to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium. Stir the beans occasionally and add water as needed. At this point you are about three hours from completion.

Fill a large pot (at least two liters), half full of water and put it on high heat. When it gets near boiling, add the dried peppers (I suggest removing any stems), the entire bottle of wine, and the chicken breasts. It is better if you cut up the chicken first, but I am lazy and usually do it after the chicken is cooked. Cook the chicken breasts for around half an hour (less if you cut them up) so they soak up some wine. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool. Retain the water.

Add the pearl barley to the wine+pepper water from the last step and resume boiling for about an hour. Stir the barley occasionally and add water as needed.

While the barley cooks, dice the onions and crush the garlic, then toss them in with the beans. Cut up the chicken breasts if you haven't already, and add them to the beans. Add the heavier spices (paprika, chipotle, mustard seed, etc.)

Once the barley finishes cooking, you will need to pick out what's left of the peppers. Toss the barley and any remaining liquid from the barley pot into the pot with the beans. Add any remaining spices and salt to taste. Depending on your tastes if you used low-sodium broth like I do, you may need to add a fair bit of salt. Stir plenty well. Make sure there is enough water, and simmer at least another ten minutes, or until the beans are done.

Let it cool overnight, then you can spoon about 2 cups each into freezer bags and freeze them.

Makes around 16 servings.

 ...  New OpenPGP Key  ...  0 Comments  ... 

Since Debian (quite reasonably) requires the GPG keys of their maintainers be RSA larger than 1024 bytes, my old personal key is in need of retirement. I am in the process of switching from it to a new 8192 byte key.

Old key:
fingerprint: 8CDB 0F32 A9D4 531F 442E 7CA3 780C F833 1BCD 8FA3
id: 1BCD8FA3
length: 1024

New key:
fingerprint: 8648 88F9 7FF4 1116 2786 65D6 5C9D B080 5823 5D71
id: 58235D71
length: 8192

Text copy of this statement, signed with both keys:

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