Monday, February 7, 2011

Debian Linux 6 and the Trinity Desktop

Originally published December 6th, I thought this was an excellent way to open my "blog".

Enjoy. Curt-


Well, I am finally done with a week's efforts at almost successfully jumping from Lenny and a very familiar KDE3.5 environment to Sid and the Trinity Desktop.

====== Debian Squeeze Install: ======

Having installed Debian quite a few times over the course of 15 years, this was not difficult. I used a daily-build of the Squeeze bootable business card for the install:

Debian 6, Squeeze, was released February 6, 2011, so my "daily build" comment is no longer valid. Best to use the current "stable" release.

The build I had, which was some couple of weeks old, had an unfortunate tendency to "hang" for a while with a blank (blue) screen, waiting for something. It would eventually get on with the install, and there were no errors that I could see, but it was not a Good Thing to do that.

I didn't use the "graphical" install, since it's just a change in the display of the same text menues. I'll take the text, thank you, "Advanced ==> Alternate Desktop ==> XFCE".

Being concerned about the "hanging", I ended up doing the install a couple of times, and the last time I decided to do the "Expert Install" which is nothing more than manually choosing ALL the options, and manually selecting each step in the install process. This harkens back about 10 years in the automation process, but it also allows for selecting a pure "Sid" install right from the very start, or Squeeze or even Lenny while it's still the official Stable, if that's what the customer wants.

Using the 44MB "business card" means that the target machine MUST be network attached in order to install. 5 years ago, it was possible to use the "business card" image to install a remarkably minimalistic system without the network, and then connect and do the rest by hand. No more. If there is no network connectivity, there is no install, but this is hardly a concern unless you're trying to use an esoteric F/OSS unfriendly Wifi card.

Once up and running, I put the TrinityDE repository in /etc/apt/sources.list, along with such nice additions as

Prior to rebuilding, I copied my entire /home directory to another machine. When I was satisfied with the running system, I copied the entire directory back, which means Iceweasel had all its settings and add-ons, Wesnoth has it's ad-ons, .ssh, .gnupg, .skype, .Virtualbox, and the .kde (and .kde4) directories were available as they were the last time that "everything worked".

This is a Very Good Thing. It also means that if I blow something up, the last working settings are always available to start over.

======= TrinityDE =======

Installing TrinityDE was as easy as any other package set, just let apt-get, aptitude, dselect or whatever your favorite tool is do it's job.

Do add all 4 of the Trinity repository lines, even if you aren't going to be building from source. For some reason, it just doesn't quite work otherwise.

Even though I'm using Sid, I used Squeeze as the target in the Trinity repository. With TrinityDE, and with others such as VirtualBox which do not offer a Sid specific repository, I have had no problems with doing so. When Squeeze launches, and the repositories are updated, I will change them to point to the next "testing".

Ah, the joys of command line computing!

The download took quite a while, because Trinity does not have the immense bandwidth available that the mainline Debian repositories do. No matter, Xfce worked just fine in the interrum.

What I wanted to do was copy over ONLY those things, like bookmarks, password wallets, kmail settings and the like, that I needed. I didn't want all the cruft that had built up in the application menu over the years, for example.

Alas, that was not to be.

Trinity Wallet Manager: would not, simply would NOT, import the old wallet data. I tried copying all the .kwl files into the analogous .trinity/ folder, that didn't work. I tried "Import Wallet" in the wallet manager, but it took it as 460 instances of binary data, not text of passwords or form entries.

Needless to say, without the wallet, I didn't even bother to start Kmail.

Konqueror: although the bookmark.xml file copied just fine, and worked, favicons simply would NOT update. It's a little thing, but I like the way that Konqueror uses the favicons in its menues and I know what to look for. I have a lot of bookmarks in Konqueror, and it's very much a case of "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." Also, there are now two status bars at the bottom of Konqueror, one with just the adblock filter showing, redundant to the fact that the adblock icon is also on the "normal" status bar at the bottom of the window, so at some point I'll figure, or find, out how to turn that new one off.

Nepomuk: Started automagically whether I wanted it to or not, I don't, but at least I could turn it off quickly and easily. Hooray.

The answer to these problems was,

$ rm -r .trinity
$ cp -a .kde .trinity

This is what I've done in the past when upgrading, and it worked exactly the same as it did before. I got my entire set of KDE3.5 settings back, favicons in Konqueror, passwords in Kwallet, even Kpgp came up without my remembering that I needed it.

Kmail: certainly has been updated, I need to go through and find out more about the changes. There are header changes in the message view window, but at least the email accounts were all scanned, mail downloaded and parsed correctly the first time.

One very good thing about the TrinityDE Kmail, trash compaction WORKS! For all the YEARS I have been using Kmail, I had to delete the /bob/Mail/trash file by hand, "touch trash" to recreate it, just because every time I would try "compact trash folder" Kmail would give the awful message, "for security reasons, compaction has been turned off for trash."

Several months of spam, attachments, family photographs and Debian-User mailing list digests can create multi-hundred-megabyte trash files. The fact that compacting the trash file has been enabled is the first new thing in TrinityDE that I am exceedingly happy about.

Let's hope that the continued development of TrinityDE, as shown by that seemingly small change, is on an evolutionary basis, rather than the revolutionary fervor that caused the need for TrinityDE to be founded in the first place.

I'll post the results of trying to expunge the cruft from the application menu, later.

The expunging never took place. More on that later.

Thank you for listening, and Don't Fear Trinity. For us hopelessly disgusted with KDE4, it _works_.


  1. Right, Trinity certainly has the edge over KDE4. They have (sit tight) 2 developing contributors. and the last build was 10 months ago. Seriously, if you don't dig KDE4, at least move to a desktop with a future. Holding on to KDE 3.5 is just, well, autistic.

  2. CevO, you might like to look at "Follow-up to the Trinity Desktop".

  3. Hi Curt,

    I enjoy reading the latest impressions of Debian 6. However, you practises are quite... different from normal users. No problem, Linux is freedom of choice.

    But I would enjoy it if you would post your impression of Debian 6 with KDE 4.4 using the standard (GUI) installation procedure (only tweaking it after completing the full installation). Use it (as your standard desktop) for a month, then comment on your findings new vs. old. That would be an interesting view on the advancements of the Debian ecosystem.

  4. Martin,

    I did spend a week with KDE4, I put it on a client's laptop, and various else. Not to put too fine an edge on my phrasing, I despise it.

    There is no way to find what I want to do, the settings are scattered hither and yon, the plasmoid and database back-end are utterly frustrating and annoying. The KDE developers don't care a wit for my opinion or the opinions of the many other people with whom I have commiserated over the last three years on

    Except as a comparison tool, I will not be using KDE4 unless you want to pay me for a month of my time to do so. I'll gladly write it up for you in that case too. :^)

    Check back on Friday, I have a "Debian ecosystem" review scheduled to come out which you might find interesting.

  5. "Holding on to KDE 3.5 is just, well, autistic"


    I agree with everything Curt said especially the despise part... I loved my Hardy Heron with KDE3 setup, it had everything I wanted, setup EXACTLY the way I wanted after much fiddling and tweaking and it finally worked perfectly. One day after a period of disuse I run the package manager for updates and suddenly WHAM I have a chugging, crashing, confusing pile of steaming KDE4 that broke some of the software I used like KDocker. To me this was EXACTLY like an XP to Vista "upgrade". How can something that makes my system seem slower and doesn't work with your sofware be called an "upgrade". Day 1 with it I accidently deleted the taskbar and took forever to painfully rebuild it from scratch. I was SO upset about the poor experience that I think I have been soured for life on KDE4 and they will have to pry my hands from a cold dead completely decomposed kde3.

  6. Yes, KDE3 still rocks, specially when compared with kde4. Why didn't the kde fellows keep things simple and working!? - following the UNIX philosophy: Migrate first to Qt4, then, making things modular and most important of all optional, they could have all the stupid plasmoids, 3d effects, nepomunk and whatever they wanted... I'm very, very disappointed...

    (Really, the extra work would be only porting kicker to Qt4.)

  7. Bit off topic... One would expect that others would learn from this, but no. At this moment Gnome is making the same mistake with #3. Not to compare Gnome with KDE, but they both seem to be misguided about the difference between user-friendly and retarded.

  8. Speed, I could not agree with you more.

    It used to be that I would compare the products KDE and GNOME, but more and more I find the projects KDE and GNOME seem to be, as you point out, following the same "let's ruin it for everyone" policy.

    I wonder if Microsoft moles in those projects have been doing this? I find it hard to believe that it never occurred to MS to plant moles into the competition, Miguel de Icaza being an excellent example of someone who, maybe without any reality, displays what seems to be Microsoft bias at every turn.

    And if you like that one, the Rothchilds own the Federal Reserve, and the Carlisle Group has owned every US President since Johnson. Right.

  9. >>Right, Trinity certainly has the edge over KDE4. They have (sit tight) 2 developing contributors. and the last build was 10 months ago.

    It's KDE3. How much development does it need? Just keep it secure and compatible with current distros, and I'm good, thank you.

    I've used KDE4 for a couple of years now, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it just doesn't make me more productive. I'd hate to see the KDE3 option go away.

    >>Seriously, if you don't dig KDE4, at least move to a desktop with a future. Holding on to KDE 3.5 is just, well, autistic.

    What's your idea of a desktop without a future? FVWM? TWM? Blackbox?

  10. KDE and Gnome will just have to push on without us. Might I recommend LXDE?

  11. I want to install trinity desktop on my linux Debian, thanks already to guide how to install

  12. Anonymous5/9/12 11:30

    What a shame so few people care about Trinity. Two developers for the whole project! KDE3 was the linux-answer to windows. Now version 4 looks even more like apple as Windows7 does. Slower it got in addition. Just looked on distrowatch...there is no linux-distro with Trinity preinstalled. Who dares talking about independent open-source-development? What a shame nobody is helping the project!