Tag Archives: kubuntu

Accessing Google Online Account from GNOME and KDE

In this post, I’d like to share my experiences in setting a Google Online Account in GNOME and KDE. Actually, I have more than one Google account, and the procedures I show can be repeated for all your Google accounts.

First, a disclaimer: I’ve always loved KDE and I’ve used that since version 3. Lately, I have started to appreciate GNOME though. I’ve been using GNOME most of the time now, in most of my computers, for a few years. But lately, I started to experiment with KDE again, and I started to install that on some of my computers.

KDE is well-known for its customizability, while GNOME is known for the opposite. However, I must admit that in GNOME settings most of the things are trivial, while in KDE, you pay a lot for its customizability.

I think setting a Google Account is a good example of what I’ve just said. Of course, I might be wrong concerning the procedure I’ll show in this post, but, from what I’ve read around, especially for KDE, there doesn’t seem to be an easier way. Of course, if you know an easier procedure I’d like to know in the comments 🙂

In the following, I’m showing how to set a Google Account so that its features, mainly the calendar and access to Google Drive, get integrated into GNOME and KDE. I tested these procedures both in Ubuntu/Kubuntu and in Manjaro GNOME/KDE, but I guess that’s the same in other distributions.

TL;DR: in Gnome it’s trivial, in KDE you need some effort.

GNOME

Just open “Online Accounts”, and choose Google. Use the web form to log in and give the permissions so that GNOME can access all your Google data. As I said, I’m focusing on the calendar and drive. Repeat the same procedure for all your Google accounts you want to connect.

Done! In Files (Nautilus) you can see on the left, the links to your Google drive (or drives, if you configured several accounts). In the Gnome Calendar, you can choose the Google calendars you want to show. The events will be automatically shown in the top Gnome shell clock and calendar widget. Notifications will be automatically shown (by Evolution). For the Gnome Contacts, things are similar. By the way, also Gnome Tasks and other Gnome applications will be automatically able to access your Google accounts data.

To summarize, one single configuration and everything else is automatically integrated.

KDE

Now be prepared for an overwhelming number of steps, most of which, I’m afraid, I find rather complex and counter-intuitive.

In particular, you won’t get access to your Google account data in a single step. In fact, I’ll first show how to mount a Google drive and then how to set up the calendar.

Mount your Google drive

Go to

System Settings -> Online Accounts -> Add New Account -> Google

As usual, you get redirected to the “Web authentication for google”, login and give the consent allowing “KDE Online Accounts” to access some of your Google information, including drive, manage your YouTube videos, access your contacts, and calendar. (This procedure can be repeated for all your Google accounts if you have many.) Note that with all the permissions you give, you’d expect that then everything is automatically configured in KDE, but that’s not the case…

Back to the system settings, you get a “Google account”, not with your Google username or email, which is what I’d expect, but a simple “google” and a progress number (of course, you can rename it).

OK, now I can access my Google drive files from Dolphin and have my local calendar automatically connected to my Google calendar? Just like in Gnome? I’m afraid not… we’re still far away from that.

If you go to Dolphin’s Network place you see no Google drive mounted, nor a mechanism to do that… First, you have to install the package kio-gdrive (at least in Kubuntu and Manjaro KDE that’s not installed by default…). After that, back to Dolphin’s Network place you can expand the “Google Drive” folder and you get asked for the Google account you had previously configured. Select that, and “Use This Account For” -> “Drive” in Accounts Details. Now you can access your Google drive from Dolphin.

Add your Google calendar

What about my Google Calendar? First, you have to install the package korganizer (or the full suite kontact); again, at least in Kubuntu and Manjaro KDE, that’s not installed by default… Great, once installed I can simply select my previously configured Google account? Ehm… no… you “just” have to go to

Settings -> Configure KOrganizer -> General -> Calendars -> Add… -> Google Groupware -> a dialog appears, click “Configure…”

Now the browser (not a web dialog as before) is opened to login into your Google account. Then, give the permissions so that “This will allow Akonadi Resources for Google Services to…” (Again, you have to do the same for all your Google accounts you want to connect to.) In the browser, you then see: “You can close this tab and return to the application now.” Go back to the dialog in KOrganizer, and your calendars and tasks should already be selected (unselect anything you don’t want). OK, now in the previous dialog you should see KOrganizer synchronizing with your Google calendar and tasks.

Now I should get notifications from Google calendars events, right? Ehm… not necessarily: you need to make sure that in the “Status and Notifications” system tray, by right-clicking on “KOrganizer Reminders”, the “Enable Reminders” and “Start Reminder Daemon at Login” are selected (I see different default behaviors under that respect in different distributions). If not, enable them and log out and log in.

OK! But what about my Google calendar events in the standard “Digital Clock” widget in the corner of the system tray? Are they automatically shown just like in GNOME? No! There’s some more work to do! First, install kdepim-addons (guess what? At least in Kubuntu and Manjaro KDE, that’s not installed by default…). Now, go to “Digital Clock Settings” -> “Calendar” -> check “PIM Events Plugin” (quite counter-intuitive!) -> Apply; now a new “PIM Events Plugin” appears on the left, select that. Fortunately, this one will automatically propose to select all the calendars that have been previously configured in KOrganizer.

something similar for kaddressbook; probably with kontact the steps will be less, but I’ve always found Kontact chaotic…

Summary

Now, I like KDE customizations possibilities (while GNOME is pretty rigid about customizations and most things cannot be customized at all), but the above steps are far too much! After a few weeks, I wouldn’t be able to remember them correctly… In KDE, even the number of steps of the above procedures is overwhelming. You have to follow complex, heterogeneous and counter-intuitive procedures in KDE, and long menu chains. Maybe it’s the distribution’s fault? I doubt. I guess it’s an issue with the overall organization and integration in the KDE desktop environment. In GNOME the integration is just part of the desktop environment.

Installing KDE on top of Ubuntu

If you like to use KDE you probably install Kubuntu directly, instead of Ubuntu, which has been based on Gnome for a long time now.

However, I like to have several Desktop Environments, and, now and then, I like to switch from Gnome to KDE and then back. Currently, I’m using Gnome for most of the time, that’s why I install Ubuntu (instead of Kubuntu).

In any case, you can still install KDE Plasma on top of Ubuntu. The following has been tested on an Ubuntu Disco 19.04, but I guess it will work also on previous distributions.

For a reduced installation of KDE you might want to install only these packages

In particular, kwin-addons includes some useful things: it contains additional KWin desktop and window switchers shipped in the Plasma 5 addons module.

When installation has finished you may want to reboot and then, on the Login screen, you can use the gear icon for specifying that you want to enter the KDE Plasma environment instead of the default Gnome environment.

The above packages should provide you with enough stuff to enjoy a Plasma experience, but it lacks many (K)ubuntu configurations and addons for KDE.

If you want more Kubuntu stuff, you might want to install the “huge” package:

And then you get a real Kubuntu KDE Plasma experience.

Note that this will replace the classic Ubuntu splash screen when booting the OS: it replaces it with the Kubuntu splash screen. If you want to go back to the original splash screen it’s just a matter of removing the following packages:

Remember that you can also use the Kubuntu Backport PPA for enjoying more recent versions of KDE software.

Enjoy Gnome and KDE! 🙂

HiDPI in KDE Plasma

HiDPI support in KDE Plasma has been recently improved! I’m afraid what’s not improved is the procedure for using that. In this post I’ll detail the steps to use HiDPI with KDE if you have a high resolution display (for example, I have that in my Linux Dell M3800).

Remember that the settings you change will not be applied completely until you logout and login again into KDE.

First of all, you need to go in Settings, then

Display and Monitor” -> “Display Configuration“. If you scroll down you see a “Scale Display” button

kde_hidpi_1

Click on that and in the “Screen Scaling” dialog, drag the “Scale” in the middle, corresponding to a scale factor of 2 and press OK.

kde_hidpi_2

Then go back to the main page of Settings, select “Font“, and force to the DPI font to 168. (or even more if you want).

kde_hidpi_3

Apply the settings, logout and login again into KDE and you’ll enjoy your HiDPI display with a scale factor of 2, which basically means it will be usable 🙂

Be warned, KDE applications will look correctly, but there’ll still be other applications which might not have been implemented with HiDPI in mind… and they’ll still look horrible even with the scaling you set.

Flickering for Intel graphic card in Linux 4.2

After I upgraded my Dell Precision m3800 to the new Kubuntu Wily 15.10 I had a very bad surprise: the screen was continuously flickering in a way that it was unusable. This happens only if you are NOT using the default highest resolution 3200×1800 which, at least for me, is really too small.

I thought it was a problem with the new Plasma, but the culprit is the Intel i915 driver in the 4.2 kernel which comes with the new version of (K)ubuntu, as reported in this bug: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=91393. In particular, two commits seem to be the cause, and reverting them fixes the problem (hopefully the whole bug will be fixed).

I’m detailing the procedure to get the kernel sources, reverting the two commits, and compile your own fixed kernel:

  • You need git to revert the patches (though you’re not getting the kernel sources from the git repository), so you need to install that if it’s not already installed.
  • Install the kernel sources for your current kernel:
    apt-get source linux-image-$(uname -r)
    this will unpack the kernel sources in the current directory (you don’t need to use sudo for this; if you use sudo, you may want to change the owner of the sources’ directory to match your user, so that you won’t need to compile the kernel as root)
  • Install required packages to compile the kernel
    sudo apt-get build-dep linux-image-$(uname -r)
  • Install other required packages (needed when you install your compiled kernel later):
    sudo apt-get install linux-cloud-tools-common linux-tools-common
  • Save the above mentioned two commits into two local files, in the following order (e.g., name them patch1.txt and patch2.txt):
    https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git/patch/?id=4e96c97742f4201edf1b0f8e1b1b6b2ac6ff33e7
    https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git/patch/?id=5fa836a9d85975c5f0f1219669523c1f0ac64349
  • Enter in the directory where the kernel sources have been unpacked and revert the two commits in the reversed order:
    git apply -R patch2.txt
    git apply -R patch1.txt
  • Run the following commands in the kernel sources directory as described here:
    chmod a+x debian/scripts/*
    chmod a+x debian/scripts/misc/*
    fakeroot debian/rules clean
  • “In order to make your kernel “newer” than the stock Ubuntu kernel from which you are based you should add a local version modifier. Add something like “+test1″ to the end of the first version number in the debian.master/changelog file, before building. This will help identify your kernel when running as it also appears in uname -a.”
  • Compile the kernel (this will take some time, and require some free space on your hard disk):
    fakeroot debian/rules binary-headers binary-generic
  • This will create in the end some .deb files in the parent folder; install them all with dpkg, e.g., with
    sudo dpkg -i linux*4.2*.deb
  • reboot and enjoy your Linux without flickering 🙂

Installing Linux Kubuntu on a Dell Precision M3800

Dell-m3800I recently had to install Linux Kubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander (at the time of writing I’ve already upgraded it to 14.04 Trusty Tahr) on a Dell Precision M3800 (a really cool and powerful laptop, see the details here).

The installation went really smooth, and I’m enjoying a very fast and stable Linux OS on this laptop.

In this blog post I’ll detail only a few tips and further tweaks after the installation.

As for the initial setup (Hard disk resize, Backup and UEFI Boot issues) I followed this really nice detailed guide, http://www.everydaylinuxuser.com/2013/09/install-ubuntu-linux-alongside-windows.html, and I strongly suggest to do the same, especially if you have the same laptop.

Tweaks after installation

Here some tweaks after the installation.

Adjust Screen Resolution

This laptop comes with the “crazy” resolution of 3200×1800! Unfortunately, this is barely usable at least in my experience: everything is so small that I can’t read almost anything… adjusting the DPI as suggested here really did not help: the fonts, window border become readable and usable, but the system looks ugly… (by the way, the same problem holds in Windows 8, at least for my everyday program, i.e., Eclipse: most fonts and icons are not readable)… until these resolution problems are fixed in Kubuntu (and in some applications as Eclipse), I reverted the resolution to something smaller (and still the resolution is high :), that is 1920×1080.

kubuntu-screen-resolution

Enable Hibernate

First check that hibernate actually works by running (remember that your swap partition is at least as large as your available RAM):

After you computer turns off, try and switch it back on. If your open applications re-open you can re-enable hibernate: run below command to edit the config file:

Copy and paste below lines into the file and save it.

Enable Scheduled Trim

First of all, make sure you enable the anotime option for your SSD partition in /etc/fstab to avoid further writings to your SSD disk.

As reported here, http://askubuntu.com/questions/18903/how-to-enable-trim/, scheduled trim seems to be the preferred way to keep your SSD performant.

Run the following command to create and edit the file in cron.daily

And copy and paste this:

Then make the file executable:

Power optimizations

To keep power consumption low, install the following tools

then TLP:

Also run powertop when you’re on battery to check for further optimizations.

Install Bumblebee, as detailed here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bumblebee.

The problem with Fn keys

At first, I thought that Function keys were not working at all… then I discovered that on new laptops like this one F-keys are default to their media mode (!). You can change the default behavior of the F keys in the BIOS, but I prefer the F-Lock icon on the Esc button: this will take them back to their standard behavior.