How to Show the Day in Ubuntu

Trapped inside during COVID-19. Spending days on your computer either working or looking for work or just searching for something interesting to keep your mind off the four walls it is easy to lose track of the day. Those of us who write software for a living can get so far into what we are doing we even forget to eat. When someone finally does get our attention coming back to reality is like waking from a coma.

Default Ubuntu Date Display

Few can understand why Ubuntu chose to leave the day off. Thankfully you can fix it rather easily.

If you don’t already have a bin directory under your $HOME create one now. You probably want to log out and log back in as well. By default, if you have a bin directory in your home directory Ubuntu will add it to your path. This is where you put your personal scripts and executables that you want available from the command line.

Now open your favorite text editor and paste in the following code:

#
first="$1"
param="${first,,}"

case "$param" in
	"false"|"0") 	gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface clock-show-weekday false ;;
	""|"true"|"1") 	gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface clock-show-weekday true ;;
	*) 				echo "invalid parameter"
esac

exit

Save the file in your bin directory under the name “show-day”. Use the file browser and navigate to the file you just created. Right click on it. Select “Properties” from the menu that appears.

Select Properties

Navigate to permissions and flag the file executable.

Make executable

Close the dialog and you should be good to go. Run this command in a terminal using nothing, true, or 1 as a parameter and the day will appear on your display. This setting will remain until you manually change it (or Ubuntu pushes out an untested update that whacks it.)

If you want to get rid of the day for some reason run this script in a terminal again passing either false or 0 (that’s a zero) as the parameter. That will turn it off and the setting will persist the same.

Some Annoying Differences Between Gnome and KDE

The more developers try to push Gnome towards the future the further it seems to fall behind. Admittedly I’m a bit biased because I have always thought, and it will take a change of biblical proportions to make me think otherwise, that all variants of Gnome are freakin-ugly. While we are at it, Unity looks like pedestrian meets train on bridge, but I digress.

Be that as it may, there are two massively annoying differences between KDE and Gnome. We can only hope the Gnome developers wake up and smell the fresh brewed tea!

Our first vicious difference is between konsole (the KDE terminal) and gnome-terminal (yes, you guessed what it is.) Under console there is no menu bar. If you want to run the Jed text editor, or any terminal application which has a menu, both <Alt>f and <F10> keys work with the menu as they should. On Gnome, some fool put a menu on it and decided to glom onto both <Alt>f and <F10>. In short, terminal applications with menus could not run right on a bet.

Under Cinnamon Mint17 (and probably other flavors) there is an additional bug. The terminal emulator sends duplicate key scan codes. No matter if you press <End> or <Ctrl><End> you get the same scan code. Same problem with <Home> and <Ctrl><Home>. Nice huh?

The next major difference has more to do with the installers and a bad philosophy. For KDE, most installers will prompt you to choose a mount point for any existing partitions or they will default to using the label on the partition. The mount points are generally created under / as they should be. Gnome developers appear to be under the misguided thought path all partitions should be mounted under /media and only on demand. By and large the installers for Gnome stuff doesn’t ask you to supply mount points, at least not unless you magically find some “advanced” path through the installer which also seems to abandon the default sizing and creation of both / and swap.

Under Cinnamon (and probably most others) you now have to go to a “disks” menu after installation to auto-mount your database disks.

gnome disks menu

gnome disks 2

Once you have a partition highlighted you can click on the little pair of gears to create the drop down menu seen in the above image. “Edit Mount Options” will bring up the following screen.

gnome_disks_3

Once you change the Automatic Mount Options from ON to Off you can select a mount point, etc.

Reboot.

Guess what? You now have an error being displayed which says something like

unrecognized mount option x-gvfs-show

Now you have to go here to find out you still need to hand hack /etc/fstab to manually add the entries. You also need to manually create the mount points.

 

 

KWrite and Kate

One thing which always annoys me about being forced to use a Gicky-Gnasty-Gnome based desktop is the total lack of indispensable packages. While, in theory, you can install KWrite and Kate under Gnome, they don’t run correctly. At least, they don’t run correctly on YAU (Yet Another Ubuntu) releases. I believe this is due in large part to Canonical not testing desktops together. They ship different products for each desktop so not much cross desktop testing needed in their view.

I spent a good many years in RPM hell with SuSE. I endured the ugly thing called YAST. I spent many an hour trying to recover from RPM installs which gagged part way through leaving the package manager in a state where one could neither uninstall the broken package nor repair it. Admittedly I was on dial-up and the package manager was absolutely worthless when it came to handling a lost Internet connection.

The thing which kept me using SuSE was their cross desktop testing. Back then when you installed SuSE you could install all of the desktops during the initial installation process. There was a high level of cross desktop testing. You changed your desktop with each login. Despite all of the other issues, I never noticed a problem where a KDE software package ran badly under Gnome or the other desktops.

Yes, when I’m doing development on Linux I’m typically using QtCreator because I’m developing with C++ and Qt, usually for some embedded target. That doesn’t mean I don’t use other editors. Here is what I tell the young developers on any of these projects.

Kate is your mommy. Tell your mommy everything and she will tell it to you when you need it again.

People laugh at that, and that is the point. You remember something which is funny. When they ask I tell them that Kate is more than just a fantastic editor. It’s a limitless shelf to store information you really need on. Once configured to automatically save the session on exit, you can have as many cheat sheet files as you want open in it. You click the one icon you add to the bar or desktop and one thing with all of your cheat sheets opens up.

A couple of projects ago everybody laughed at the Kate line, but by the time the project was over most of them had came to get one of my cheat sheets. Yes, they had theirs, somewhere, but mine were always right there. I didn’t have to remember file names or where I put that piece of paper.

KWrite has become another indispensable tool. Not so much for development. There have been a good number of years where WordPress ships an editor with severe gastrointestinal disorders. Not only is it slow and cumbersome to use, pasting to it from a text editor is fraught with peril. There was a brief period where Blogilo worked, then it was over. Just as brief a period where OpenOffice (before it was consumed by a corporation and dropped from most distros) where I could reliably past from OO. Once that stopped working I had to search for a text editor then reformat all of my embedded links. For a while the only text editor I could achieve some semblance of acceptable results with was Tea, then that quit working. Finally KWrite started working with WordPress. Yes, I still had to re-work all of my embedded links, but there was a 50/50 chance when I told the WordPress editor to perform full justification on the text it would actually work and that was the highest success rate I had found.

Recently I tested LibreOffice with WordPress and, in fact, I’m writing this post using LibreOffice. There seems to be some level of cooperation between the two packages now. That said, I still use KWrite a lot. I used it half a dozen times this morning while writing email just to look up spelling. Yes, Thunderbird flags the words as spelling errors and has some spell check feature, but when you have links in your SIG and other technical stuff in the email message it is a PITA. Much more efficient to notice the little red squiggly and pop the word into KWrite for magic to happen.

I keep seeing posts calling Gedit the Gnome equiv of KWrite. Well, it’s not. It has improved over the years, but it is still ugly. To compete with Kate you have to go commercial, or, you have to work around IDE needs in things like CodeLite and QtCreator just to write a blog post. The closest commercial product I have found is UltraEdit. There were a few years when I occasionally touched some nasty Windows stuff in the dark and distant past. (Thankfully I now only have to touch Windows once every 6 months or so to load results from my glucose meter for my doctor. Yes, enough sizable companies have left Windows so you never have to touch it again.)

During the dark period, when I had to touch that “other” platform, I wanted to find a commercial editor which ran on both (and ran the same on both) so I could load and go. That said, the Linux version was always the ugly red headed stepchild chained in the basement. The doc, help text, and even user forum answers would always be from a handful of Windows users. The real killer was the licensing. Ultimately they wanted $100/year for the rest of your life. Why pay that kind of money for something you don’t like as much as Kate and KWrite?

So, now that I’m going to have to use Gicky-Gnasty-Gnome for a while, I have to once again search for something which can begin to compare to both Kate and KWrite. At least until I can find a non-RPM based KDE distro which gets around the current set of NVidia problems.

Yes, I’ve looked at Jedit. I tried to use it for many months. Yes, there are a plethora of plug-ins. There are two things I’ve never been able to get over when it comes to that editor:

1) It’s a pig! To get many of the plug-ins to work you have to hack the JVM startup script and give it more memory which makes it a bigger pig. I can see why that “load in background at startup” option is so popular.

2) No matter what settings I tried the font rendering was simply atrocious.

I’ve tried almost every editor out there at some point. Kate and KWrite have simply been reliable tools which found places in my workflow. When I have to work in a situation where they either aren’t available or don’t work well, I become annoyed.

Icky of Gnome

Recently I upgraded to Mint 17 to get back on an LTS revision.  I couldn’t wait for KDE to come out so I went with the version built for Gnome 3 (Cinnamon).  It’s not as ugly as Gnome usually is.  Graphics drivers seem better as does the font rendering.  It might even be slightly faster on this 4Gig 64-bit AMD dual core netbook that the previous version was.

I was kind of shocked to find Thunderchicken was still the default mail client.  Would have thought the boys and girls working on Evolution would have finally gotten their act together.  Guess not.  Thunderchicken is horrible no matter what platform it runs on.

Work at my client site has dropped to the point I no longer need to work 7 days per week to keep us on schedule.  Seems like every IT project goes through that stage, at least the ones consultants are brought in to work on.  The free time is allowing me to get back into book writing and blogging.  I mention this because Gnome is still icky here.

Yes, it has the same LibreOffice for writing books and yes, I can install FocusWriter if I really need distraction free writing, but it really fails when it comes to blogging.  I don’t use or need a lot when it comes to blogging.

There was a time when I tried/used Blogilo on KDE.  When it worked it was great, but getting it to work was quite hit-or-miss.  I’m not dissing the developers.  Their problems will increase now that WordPress has rolled out automatic updates for sites.  API and feature changes will be even harder for them to chase which means the package will suffer from far more misses than hits.

All I really need for blogging is KWrite.  A test editor which is not going to insert any kind of formatting either on-screen or in the file.  I need it to have dynamic word wrap and spell-as-you-go.  It is really nice when the editor also has sort capability for both selected text ranges and the entire file.  When I’m done writing something I select the entire thing and paste it into the WordPress editor then create any links the article needs and finally click on the full justification format button.  That’s it, that’s how I blog.

Today I tried writing blog posts with the Mint 17.  It’s hurt.  Gedit can turn on word wrap and spell-as-you-go but cannot sort.  Not a nice looking editor either.  You can make it work, sort-of.  I’m using it to write this, but, I cannot see myself doing much blogging using Gedit.

I tried a few other editors.  Despite the fact nobody should really install or use Java anymore, I installed jEdit.  It looks a lot nicer now, but still doesn’t have spell-as-you-go spell checking.  A quick Web search turned up a discussion from 2005 requesting this feature, but it still isn’t there.

Tea has had a problem of adding formatting information which manages to survive cut & paste into WordPress, then causes WordPress all kinds of intestinal discomfort.  While I admire the grit of the developers, it crossed a threshold which now limits its use.

Juffed installed but wouldn’t run.  Seems to me this package doesn’t run much anymore.  I cannot remember the last time I installed it on a distro and had it actually start.

The editor which was quite simply perfect for my needs was KWrite.  It is a subset of KATE, for lack of a better description.  KATE is quite incredible for both programming and text editing.  KWrite is light weight and has all of the necessary features.

I really can’t wait for the KDE version of Mint 17 to come out.  Cinnamon simply can’t cut it.