create new tag
, view all tags
I've now got an installation of the CFK Vector Distro (ver 1.0, IIUC) on a test computer at home. Using it is raising some questions or possibilities for suggestions. (Some questions are ones I had in the past but seemed to disappear once I started using, for example, KDE. But this is really irrelevant, isn't it.)

I suspect some of the questions will evolve to suggestions, so I am not separating them at this time.


Questions and Suggestions

Black on White Terminal

Q: How can either of the terminals, xterm or rxvt, be set up to display black text on a white or light background?

A: Right click anywhere on the desktop, highlight DFM for X11, click on Desktop Options. Then change "Icontext color (window)" as desired (click on either the foreground or background color which will give you a color wheel and some entry boxes -- black on white is 255 255 255 background with 0 0 0 foreground).

On the same screen, you can change the legends on the desktop icons by changing the "Icontext color (desktop)".

Black text on white is much easier on my eyes, and partly, I think, because there is something wrong with the way white text on a black backgound is rendered -- the "strokes" of the characters always seem narrower to me. (But I don't think simply making the strokes broader will solve the problem for me.)

Virtual Consoles

Q: How can I set up a virtual console? (Why isn't at least one provided by default?) (You know, the consoles you get by pressing <ctrl> <alt> <F1> and so forth.)

A: ?

Brighter Skin for XMMS and GCD

Q: How can I create (or find) a much brigher (i.e., lighter) skin for XMMS and GCD? (Both seem like a mass of dark colors which is very hard for me to see / read.)

A: ?

Aside: Changing the icon and window text / background colors improved several things but did not seem to have an effect on XMMS or GCD (although GCD looks a little better to me now, changing the colors back the other way does not seem to make the appearance any worse -- currently all the little arrows and so forth for play, rewind, etc., are light colored (white) -- earlier I thought they were dark -- maybe I'm misremembering. Currently GCD is at least tolerable.

Avoid the Scrolling Desktop

Q: How do you set up Linux so the desktop does not scroll (when you "bounce" the mouse against the edges of the desktop) when you are using less than the highest defined desktop "resolution"?

I've typically set up <something> for 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768 (??). If I use <ctrl> <alt> + or - to change the resolution to less than 1024 x 768, I get the scrolling desktop.) Is resetting X to the specific desktop size I want to use (800x600 or 640x480) the only way to avoid this? Jeff Zartler mentioned there might be a flag (virtual <something> somewhere to turn this on and off. I did reset the allowable resolutions on my test Vector box to include only 800x600 and the screen no longer scrolls.

The smaller resolutions are hard on older adults (like me) -- aren't they also harder on small children? And, aren't they likely to be harder on their eyes even if they (claim to) see adequately at this time?

Looking back on the above, it may be ambiguous (or mistated) -- the higher resolutions (1024x768) (with typically smaller characters) are the ones that are hard for me, and might also be harder for small children. (In fact, at a certain age I'm positive of that, or at least to phrase it a different way, young children learn to read faster with very large characters, only gradually recognizing the same patterns at much smaller size. (This is why one of those child's learn to read thingies has words like sofa, refrigerator, chair, etc. in very large type (3 or 4"). But, maybe small type doesn't actually cause any damage to their eyes.). Anyway, I use 800x600 resolution on 17" monitors, tend toward 640x480 on 15" monitors.

Black on White Legends on Desktop Icons

Q: How can I change the legends under each icon on the desktop to be black text on a white or light background?

A: Right click anywhere on the desktop, highlight DFM for X11, click on Desktop Options. Then change "Icontext color (desktop)" as desired (click on either the foreground or background color which will give you a color wheel and some entry boxes -- black on white is 255 255 255 background with 0 0 0 foreground).

On the same screen, you can change the windows for things like xterm by changing the "Icontext color (window)".

Network Setup

Q: I haven't successfully set up Vector with a NIC even though my NIC is fairly standard (I think -- chipset is Realtek 8139). Don't know what my problem is -- ran through VASM (??) and that seemed to go OK. Ping says "network unreachable". ifconfig shows only the lo interface.

A: (started)

I think I need to load the module (driver) for the chipset using modprobe -- I need the module / driver name for the Realtek 8139 -- lspci reports the card as RTL-8139/8139C (rev 10). Google time, I guess.

Ok, looks like there are things like rtl8139.c, and I've found (and tried) modprobe rtl8150, which implies to me that the module I'm looking for is rtl8139 and it is not installed by default on Vector CFK. At some point I'll dig deeper -- i.e., find it and figure out how to install it.

Here's a page that may be helpful: http://www.ovislink.com.tw/DRIVERS/8139/linux-help.htm -- sort of rough, but ??. It suggests compiling -- I should search the original vector disk and see if a precompiled version is there (or learn to / be more comfortable compiling). (Found with a google search on [modprobe "RTL8139"] -- about 2500 hits.)

Ok, made some progress (with some hints and help from the CFK mail list and, e.g., the Network Debugging mini_HOWTO) -- the driver I needed is the rtl8139too and is present in Vector. So, as root I (IIRC -- this is somewhat approximate from memory) :

Aside, several times during this process I ran netconfig, either directly or from vasm, and it seemed that nothing ever got saved. dann or Linc (or both) suggested that it sometimes seems that you have to reboot after running netconfig. As always, interesting.

modprobe rtl8139too
ifconfig # IIRC, eth0 was still not present (or not fully configured)
ifconfig eth0 up
# now could ping my LAN and gateway, could not ping Internet by name or IP address
route # no gateway entry
route add default gw eth0

_Linc also sent an email with a lot of clues which I plan to incorporate at least on http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/Wikilearn/NetworkChecklist._

"Instant" Command Line

Q: Is there some way to quickly get a prompt to enter a (CLI) command? Like the box that pops up in KDE and Windows on pressing <alt> <F2>? Or a "run" command on the menu (at the top level of the menu)?

Rox calls the similar feature a "shell command box" so maybe that's a useful set of search terms.


see next item for some hints on adding an item to the icewm menu

Toolbar and Menu Text

Q: Now that I have the icons and terminals with black on white text, I'd like to do something similar to improve the readability of the toolbar and menus. How? Can't find options so far -- maybe I need to read up on icewm?


Collecting resources -- may move these to a new page, possibly on Wikilearn.

  • ICEWM: 2.- Manual configuration -- looks like I want to focus on the $HOME/.icewm files "menu" and "toolbar" (not near a Linux machine right now, so have to wait until later) -- well, actually more likely the "preferences" file

OK, I don't know what the problem is, but an awful lot of the links I'm finding either don't work at all or link back to the page they're on or something similar useless. Will try again from home -- maybe the problem is just at NCCAC?

  • And, while I'm reading, try http://rox.sourceforge.net/Manual/English/ this also -- a manual for ROX-Filer (starting with compiling) -- what exactly does the ROX-Filer do in Vector Linux (or Vector CFK)? -- Skimmed the manual, no screen shots, chapter 18 on hacking looks useful -- discusses compiling, patching, and autoconf with simple instructions / explanations -- could be the basis for some WikiLearn pages on those topics (I'm sure I haven't started one on autoconf).

UPDATE: OK, some success finally, but some inexplicable (so far failures).


  • There are some "keys' related to the menu text in the preferences file in ~/.icewm (4 keys similar to ColorNormalMenuItemText) -- but editing these and restarting Icewm had no effect.

  • Found the quickest way to restart Icewm <crtl><alt><del> (for some reason one manual said "SUPR") and then choose the option "restart icewm".

  • I kept trying to figure out how to choose a different theme -- at one point I tried to copy the themes in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/icewm/themes to ~/.icewm/themes (after making that directory). Tried multiple times with variations on:

cp /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/icewm/themes/* themes/

and was not successful from the command line (tried as root and as cfk, with . instead of /, with and without trailing slash, etc.) A few times I got an indication that the file was being copied (each file name echoed to the screen, etc.) but the files were not actually copied. Finally, opened one of the file managers, emelfm (from a menu entry labeled LinXpler (??) under Applications. Copied the files fine. (Later I realized I need not have bothered.) I'll try this again (after deleting the files, and if it occurs again, I'll try to dig deeper into permissions and ownership.

  • Finally realized (somehow) that there was an option in the preferences file to turn the Themes menu on or off, and it was off. Changed it to on (1, IIRC), restarted Icewm, and had my themes menu (with doubles of each theme because of the unnecessary copying I did above.

  • Went through all the available themes, none perfect, warp3, metal2, and gtk2 seemed the lightest (brightest, easiest to see) (except at least gtk2 had a dark or black desktop -- changed that to a fairly light blue using the desktop options thingie, and am using that for now. The font is not the easiest to read, may work on that sometime.

While doing all this, I noticed some other problems -- some listed above, also:

  • Nedit has a very gray background -- on Mandrake (all versions that I've used, it's white) or, did I change it at some point on Mandrake?

Terminal Font Size

Q: How do I increase the font size in either xterm or rxvt?


in progress -- have a useful page open at home -- first way (but not permanent) is just to rightclick anywhere in the terminal window then select a larger (or smaller) font.

Here's the useful page: Changing The Font Size in X Applications

Additional Partitions

Q: Should we consider adding some partitions to the basic CFK install, like:

  • /var so that logs don't fill up the disk and hang the system

Next Steps

I want to turn some of these into suggestions / proposals -- I think the visibility / readability things should be implemented in a revised CFK Distro.

Then, whether not they are incorporated in the distro, the methods to change these things should be documented -- on the TWiki if nowhere else. Plus, I can think of other things that should be documented, so I'll start a list.

Things to be Documented

  • Selected (almost all) items from the list of questions above, phrased like "how do I change the text on my icons", for example.

  • How to format a floppy
  • How to mount a floppy
  • How to exchange a floppy with a PC (IMHO, all floppies should be msdos formatted, not ext2, making this slightly easier)
  • How to find files in Vector (find, locate (and update db))
  • How to install a:
    • NIC
    • modem
    • sound card
    • printer
    • scanner
    • TV card
    • webcam
    • digital camera
  • Explain ownership and permissions (well, in fact, everything on the LinuxFrustrations page -- don't duplicate that list here (or remove it from there))
  • TheEssentialVi (:q, :wq, :q! and how to get there -- and maybe x for delete) -- maybe start: most modern editors are modless, vi is modal -- one reason to try vi is just to understand what I'm talking about
  • TheEssentialEmacs - I forget how to quit -- best advice is never start wink -- explain C (to mean <ctrl>, meta (right <alt-gr>?? (or usually, just <alt> or right <alt>
  • SimpleEditorsInVector -- Nedit -- haven't seen joe or jstar so far -- pico -- what else?
  • <more>

First time around, some of the answers might either be "I don't know" or "it ain't easy" "-- contact the CFK for help". On the other hand, we might find resources that are usable by a beginner and should provide the links there.


  • () RandyKramer - 23 Feb 2003
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

Topic revision: r1 - 2003-03-17 - RandyKramer
  • Learn about TWiki  
  • Download TWiki
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform Powered by PerlCopyright 1999-2017 by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding WikiLearn? WebBottomBar">Send feedback
See TWiki's New Look