KDE Plasma Remap Meta/Windows Key From App Launcher to KRunner

Sometimes I want to run applications that I do not have pinned to the quick-launch bar of my choice’s operating system/desktop environment. To do that, I am used to pressing the Windows/Meta Key, begin typing a few characters, and hit Enter. This is muscle memory and hard to get rid of. Although it does not matter which UI opens, I do not need the full-blown KDE Application Launcher, Gnome Shell, or Windows Start Menu. The amount of UI that pops up and changes while searching for the app is distracting.

Therefore, I wondered whether I could remap the Meta/Windows key from opening the Application Launcher to opening KRunner. And you can, but only on the command line.

Remove the key mapping from the Application Launcher.

kwriteconfig5 --file kwinrc --group ModifierOnlyShortcuts --key Meta ""

Open KRunner instead.

kwriteconfig5 --file kwinrc --group ModifierOnlyShortcuts --key Meta "org.kde.krunner,/App,,toggleDisplay"

Apply the changes to the current session.

qdbus org.kde.KWin /KWin reconfigure

I hope this helps you. Thank you for reading.

Customize Nautilus Default Bookmarks

Nautilus is the default file manager in basically all Gnome-based distributions. I wonder why I cannot configure the default Bookmarks in the left panel through a context menu with that wide adoption. Is there no demand?

I managed to achieve my goal by editing two files. One is for the user, and the other one is a system file. I have not tried multiple user accounts, but I assume it affects everyone that uses the computer.

I wanted to remove "Desktop", "Public", "Templates", and "Video" because I never need that. What I ended up doing was to also change the location of "Documents", "Music", and "Pictures" to point to their respective OneDrive equivalents. That saves me from creating symbolic links, as I have explained in one of my OneDrive posts.

First, the user file.

vim ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

#XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME/Desktop"
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR="$HOME/Downloads"
#XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR="$HOME/Templates"
#XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR="$HOME/Public"
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR="$HOME/OneDrive/Files"
XDG_MUSIC_DIR="$HOME/OneDrive/Music"
XDG_PICTURES_DIR="$HOME/OneDrive/Pictures"
#XDG_VIDEOS_DIR="$HOME/Videos"

Next, the system file. If you only remove entries from the user file, they will be added again the next time you log in. My tests showed that it is enough to customize the location in the user file. The other way around does not work, however.

sudo vim /etc/xdg/user-dirs.defaults

#DESKTOP=Desktop
DOWNLOAD=Downloads
#TEMPLATES=Templates
#PUBLICSHARE=Public
DOCUMENTS=Files
MUSIC=Music
PICTURES=Pictures
#VIDEOS=Videos
# Another alternative is:
#MUSIC=Documents/Music
#PICTURES=Documents/Pictures
#VIDEOS=Documents/Videos

Finally, you need to log out and log in again for this change to take effect.

I hope this helps. Thank you for reading.

OneDrive Sync On Linux Part 3, With abraunegg/onedrive As Daemon

In a previous blog post, I showed another way of syncing OneDrive folders on Linux as an alternative to using RCLONE. It was the Open-Source project “onedrive” by Github user “abraunegg” (a fork of an abandoned project by user “skilion”). One thing I was having trouble with was the installation as a daemon. I used an @reboot crontab workaround to achieve my goal instead. However, I was not satisfied, so I went back to the documentation to see if I missed something. And miss I did. To my defense, other steps I had tried are omitting a necessary detail required to make it work.

I have mentioned the installation in the other post, but I also left out a thing or two that I came across. That is why I will include the setup process again, this time in more detail, and refer you to the other blog post for configuration tips. That is the part I will skip here.

My test system is the same Fedora 34 distribution, and I have also tested the steps on Pop!_OS, which means it should work on the other Ubuntu derivates.

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OneDrive Sync On Linux Part 2, With abraunegg/onedrive

Edit: There is a part 3 that solves the daemon problem.

It has been about a year since my first blog post about syncing Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage on Linux. The last time around, I used RCLONE, which required a more hands-on approach. I have found a new tool that I think is better because it can sync automatically in the background without scripting or manually hacking. It is aptly called onedrive that you can find on Github.

Its name might suggest that Microsoft finally ported their Windows and Mac clients to Linux, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. I would still like to see this happen, and if there is ever a time for Microsoft to do it, it is probably now.

Let me briefly explain how I have installed and configured the onedrive tool to suit my needs. Thanks to good default values, it is straightforward, and you might not need any configuration at all.

(I wonder how I managed to not find this tool a year ago)

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Xbox Series S – Is It Any Good Or Do You Need a Series X?

In a recent blog post (that I somehow accidentally deleted; thank you to WordPress for having a Trashed section from which you can restore), I already summarized my first impressions of the smaller variant of the new Xbox consoles, the Series S. Now that I have had the Xbox Series S for a couple of months, it is about time that I go into more detail.

There are a few reasons why I bought the Series S:

  • Overall hardware shortage, especially GPUs because I wanted a PC upgrade
  • The Series X was available nowhere or only overpriced (even worse for PlayStation)
  • It was the only console of the new generation available in Germany for MSRP

Before I took the plunge, I was very conscious about what to expect. I watch Digital Foundry videos regularly where their team investigates the performance and target resolutions of many console games, old and new, among other things. From my experience with connecting my PC to my 4K TV, I was confident that a resolution of 1080p is actually good enough for me to enjoy a game. Sure, I can see the difference to 4K. But my TV does an excellent job of upscaling, and the picture does not wash out and become a blurry mess. Therefore, the Series S should not disappoint. And it didn’t. There is a caveat, though, and I will address it in a later section of this probably pretty long wall of text that is going to come.

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Delete Windows System Folders From Former OS Drive

I demoted a former Windows OS drive to a data drive recently without formatting it. The SSD still contained my OneDrive folder, and I did not want to download it again or copy it from a backup. Therefore, all of the Windows system folders were still on the drive. I tried to delete them, but whatever I did using the GUI, Windows slapped my fingers. I was not able to remove the Program Files and Windows folder.

There is a solution using the command line, though. You must execute all commands in an Administrator command prompt.

Example for the Program Files directory.

takeown /f "Z:\Program Files" /a /r /d Y
icacls "Z:\Program Files" /t /grant administrators:F
rd /s /q "Z:\Program Files"

Gotcha: I have noticed that I had to execute the statements a second time on some folders to delete them finally.

An exception is the Windows directory. It cannot be removed using these commands. I have found another workaround that tricks Windows into believing it is a previous Windows installation. Rename the Windows directory to “Windows.old” and then run Disk Cleanup -> Clean up system files. Windows will detect this as an old installation and offer to remove it.

Documentation

  • takeown
    • /f – Path to folder
    • /a – Give ownership to Administrators group
    • /r – Recursive
    • /d Y – Do not require confirmation
  • icacls
    • /t – “Recursive”
    • /grant – Replace previous permission with new owner and full access (:F)
  • rd
    • /s – Recursive
    • /q – Quiet mode, do not require confirmation

Disable Banners on Sony Android TV (2019 Model)

I’ll try to make this quick. I started gaming on my 2019 Sony Android TV, and it frequently displayed a banner at the top with connection and resolution information. I hate when things constantly pop up, but it also blocked a pretty large portion of the screen. After some research, I found references about older versions of the operating system where Banners have their own menu item. Not on my TV, though, and I was starting to become very frustrated.

The option is there! It is in a location where I did not expect it. Open the settings and navigate to "Watching TV".

I associate that with a cable connection which is why I never looked there in the first place. I do not have cable. Next, disable "Info banner" and feel relieved.

OpenRGB – An RGB Software I Want to Use (It Runs on Linux!)

If you are in the market for anything gaming PC or gaming laptop related, chances are, you have come across the industry-wide trend of RGB illuminated hardware and peripherals. Everything is RGB, from the graphics card to the RAM, to your headset (because you can see the lights when you wear it 🙄), and many, many more. I am not against RGB lighting per se, but if you follow the industry as a PC hardware enthusiast, it is evident that in some aspects, this has gone too far.

Quick side note: after a rant about RGB software, I will show examples of using OpenRGB on Windows and Linux. If you are interested in only that, skip the rant and scroll to the bottom.

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Apple, Stop Parenting Me – Rant About iOS 14 Auto-Volume Reduction

Apple is a company that tends to believe it knows best what its customers want. Sometimes a company – not specific to Apple – does actually know better than the customer. Apple has been very active in the past years to push customer health and provide hardware, the Apple Watch, and software, the Health app, to facilitate this push in the form of products they can sell. I do not own an Apple Watch, but I genuinely view it as a good thing.

Now, with iOS 14, Apple has gone a bit too far with regards to health monitoring. It now enforces rules I, the customer and user of a device, cannot override. I am talking about the automatic volume reduction when iOS thinks I have been listening to loud audio for too long.

This is not okay!
This is not a situation where a company knows better.

It is actively limiting its product’s usefulness to me, the customer who paid a lot of money for it. I understand the motivation, but I cannot condone the action taken. Apple cannot even know why I turn up the volume to levels it deems inappropriate for a more extended period.

Here are a few examples, some of which already happened to me.

  1. Bluetooth-pairing the phone with my car’s audio system.

    I usually crank the phone’s volume to max to roughly match the other audio sources, like music on a USB stick (yes, I am a cave-man that has music on a stick).

  2. Listening to podcasts while going for a walk or run next to a busy road.

    Imagine my surprise when the voices speaking to me seemed to have disappeared because iOS lowered the volume to a point where the audio was drowned by traffic noise. I thought my phone had died – which has happened often enough thanks to an iOS bug that incorrectly reported battery percentage and dropped from 30% to turning off within 15-20 minutes.

  3. Listening with studio headphones that have a high input resistance (in ohm).

    I recently bought a new pair of headphones, and the quickest way to compare them with my old ones was to plug them into my phone. 80 Ω is not a lot, but enough to have to crank up the volume a bit higher to get a decent fun level. In the end, it is still much quieter compared to my PC soundcard that supports up to 600 Ω headphones.

No. 1 has not yet happened, but I assume it might once the world is rid of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I can/must travel to work a couple of times per month. On longer car rides, I usually listen to podcasts, and as mentioned, I turn up the volume on my phone in those cases. The other two issues have already managed to annoy me, and No. 3 prompted me to write this little rant – although that is the least likely of the three examples to occur regularly. Most of the time, it will be No. 2 when I am out walking or going for a run. The traffic noise is much worse than people talking to me. I am not even listening to music, which is also worse than people talking to me. I prefer Apple to turn down the car noise on the roads instead of my headphones. Until they can do that, stop messing with my volume, please.

(Is this a ploy to get me to buy horribly expensive AirPods Pro with
noise cancellation?)

I can agree that a notification is a good start to educate users. But please do not take any automatic action. At least make it configurable. I am an adult, and I should be able to decide for myself. On top of that, there are legitimate use-cases where a higher "theoretical" volume is required.

Linux Gaming: Middle Earth – Shadow of Mordor; Get it to run, and run it fast

Gaming on Linux is a challenge because only a few companies take the time to create native Linux ports of their games. It is even more challenging when those natively ported games do not run at all or do not run well. One of them is Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I have bought this game specifically because it has a native Linux version – and because I remember that it was well received by media and players.

This game has two issues:

  • It refuses to start in full-screen mode.
  • The performance is terrible.

Let’s go through these two issues and see how they manifest and how to fix them.

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Pop!_OS Linux Fixing Windows Dual Boot Problem

In a previous blog post I have mentioned that I was not able to add my Windows 10 installation to the Grub boot menu. I have finally found a solution. Now, in my last Linux blog post I mentioned that I ultimately gave up on Linux after trying Ubuntu 20.04. Well, I could not stop thinking about it. I am on Pop!_OS again and although I did not disconnect any SSD on installation, Pop! did not detect Windows 10 and add it to Grub itself. So, I was back at where I started.

Quick recap of the setup: I have two SATA SSDs (yes, SATA, like a cave man), one with Windows 10 (the Crucial MX500) and one with Pop!_OS Linux (the Samsung 850 Evo). The bootloader for each OS is on the respective SSD.

Now, enough background, let us get to the solution!

If you are CLI wizard do your thing, I will be using a convenient UI for the first step. Open “Disks” and locate the Windows 10 EFI partition. It’s around 100MB in size. Once you have found it, click the “Play” button to mount it.

The Disks utility will then display the mount point that is required in the next step.

Now, copy some Windows 10 Boot files to your Linux /boot folder. Yes, you read that right. Sounds weird, but it did the trick.

Do this with Nautilus or use the following command (which I recommend). Replace <mount point> with the path you got from the Disks utility. Note that path completion does not work once you go past /boot/efi. The EFI folder exists, you merely do not have permissions to see it as a regular user.

sudo cp -r /<mount point>/EFI/Microsoft /boot/efi/EFI

The last step consists of making the boot menu show up so you can actually select an entry. Edit loader.conf and add “timeout 10” (or any amount of seconds you prefer).

sudo vim /boot/efi/loader/loader.conf

All you need to do now is reboot and (hopefully) enjoy a boot menu with your Pop!_OS and Windows 10 boot entries. I do not know if this procedure also works with other Linux variants. It might for the Ubuntu based distributions, but I cannot say.

OneDrive Sync On Linux With RCLONE

Update, 2, July 2021 I have found another tool that I now prefer. Read this blog post to learn more, or read this blog for yet even more information 😉.

In my quest to move to Linux as a daily driver it was important for me that I could continue to use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage. Unsurprisingly, Windows 10 comes bundled with a OneDrive sync client. There is no official Linux support though, so I had to resort to a 3rd party tool. Luckily, there is a very powerful utility called rclone that does almost exactly what I want and I’ll explain how I have it set up to suit my needs.

Spoiler: it’s not as convenient as Microsoft’s sync client, but it has other things going for it.

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The Linux Experiment: One Month Later

It has been roughly a month since I switched from using Windows 10 as my main operating system to Linux. The reasons for that have all been detailed in The Switching Windows to Linux Experiment blog post. Now I will share a few of the experiences I have made during the first month (it’s been that long already) and what I think about how well it is going.

Let me address the elefant in the room first, the distribution. I think that is likely the first question you, the reader, would ask. The short answer is Pop!_OS by System76.

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