Restoring sanity to Cinnamon 2.0 in Ubuntu Precise

When the Cinnamon 2.0 was recently released for Ubuntu (PPA here) I noticed it broke quite a few default settings and resulted in the desktop looking like quite a mess when logging in. For some machines I had set up for other people to use this caused no end of strife so I investigated a fix.

It seems that Cinnamon 2.0 is now a fork of Gnome 3 rather than a shell, so as a result it now uses its own Gschema settings. Unfortunately it doesn’t bother to migrate any existing settings from Gnome so we end up with a bit of a mess on stock Ubuntu with missing icons and a very broken desktop theme. Fortunately it’s easy to fix!

Window and GTK+ themes

Edit /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/org.cinnamon.desktop.interface.gschema.xml and modify the following lines:

    <key type="s" name="icon-theme">
      <summary>Icon Theme</summary>
      <description>Icon theme to use for the panel, nautilus etc.</description>
    <key type="s" name="gtk-theme">
      <summary>Gtk+ Theme</summary>
      <description>Basename of the default theme used by gtk+.</description>


    <key type="s" name="cursor-theme">
      <summary>Cursor theme</summary>
      <description>Cursor theme name. Used only by Xservers that support the Xcursor extension.</description>

Edit /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/org.cinnamon.desktop.wm.preferences.gschema.xml and modify the following line:

    <key type="s" name="theme">
      <summary>Current theme</summary>
      <description>The theme determines the appearance of window borders, titlebar, and so forth.</description>

Desktop background

Edit /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/org.cinnamon.desktop.background.gschema.xml and modify the following line:

    <key type="s" name="picture-uri">
      <summary>Picture URI</summary>
      <description>URI to use for the background image. Not that the backend only supports local (file://) URIs.</description>

Apply changes

To actually make the changes take effect we need to recompile the binary schema file from the ones we’ve just edited:

sudo glib-compile-schemas /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/

Menu icon

The Mint menu icon also looks pretty ugly and out of place so let’s change it to a nice Ubuntu logo.

sudo sed -i.orig -e 's%/usr/share/cinnamon/theme/menu.png%/usr/share/unity-greeter/ubuntu_badge.png%' /usr/share/cinnamon/applets/

Original Cinnamon menu icon New Cinnamon menu icon

And that pretty much sums it up!


So why not use Mint? Well to be honest I don’t find it particularly good looking and once the surface is scratched it just feels a little kludgy under the hood. Pretty subjective I know, but it just doesn’t quite feel right.

Cinnamon isn’t the most polished of desktop environments either – its multi-monitor support is terrible and in my opinion Nemo feels a little clunky in comparison to Nautilus (not to mention the complete lack of CD/DVD burning support). Where it really shines is the fact that it provides a very low barrier for less technical users who are used to Windows. So much so that I’ve been able to install it in place of Windows and have no complaints from users until this happened. It’s almost enough to make me consider Unity again…

Hauppauge NOVA-S-Plus in Lucid

I’ve been using a Hauppauge NOVA-S-Plus DVB-S card for a while now with MythTV running on Ubuntu Hardy.

I recently upgraded to Lucid and had lots of difficulty getting the card to work with MythTV. All of the required kernel modules were loaded as expected (cx88xx, etc) and the device tree showed up as expected:

ls -l /dev/dvb/adapter0
total 0
crw-rw---- 1 root video 212, 1 2010-10-12 23:07 demux0
crw-rw---- 1 root video 212, 2 2010-10-12 23:07 dvr0
crw-rw---- 1 root video 212, 0 2010-10-12 23:07 frontend0
crw-rw---- 1 root video 212, 3 2010-10-12 23:07 net0

Testing dvbtune gave the following message:

dvbtune -f 1159000 -p H -s 22500000
FD 7: fd_dvr DEMUX DEVICE: : Device or resource busy

It turns out the fix is actually very simple, it’s just not very obvious or well advertised:

sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree

Apparently the firmware blobs have some legal restrictions regarding their distribution so they have been placed into a separate package as of Karmic.

Make sure you reboot after installing the firmware package.

Lucid gconf fail

This evening I encountered a weird problem when booting up Ubuntu 10.04. I simply had a black screen with a small error window saying:

There is a problem with the configuration server.
(/usr/lib/gconf2-4/gconf-sanity-check-2 exited with status 256)

Considering that I hadn’t knowingly changed anything last time I used the computer this seemed a little odd.

The following also appeared in /var/log/syslog:

Oct 13 22:05:34 hostname gnome-session[450]: WARNING: Error retrieving configuration key ‘/apps/gnome-session/options/auto_save_session’: Failed to contact configuration server; some possible causes are that you need to enable TCP/IP networking for ORBit, or you have stale NFS locks due to a system crash. See for information. (Details –  1: Could not send message to GConf daemon: Process /usr/lib/libgconf2-4/gconfd-2 received signal 6)

Fortunately the fix turned out to be easy; it’s simply a permission problem with /tmp. To fix it simply run:

sudo chmod 1777 /tmp

Brother HL-2150N in Ubuntu Karmic

Normally I try to stick with HP printers when using them in Linux as they seem to have the best support thanks to HP’s efforts with HPLIP.

I recently went against my own advice and purchased a Brother HL-2150N monochrome network laser printer. Brother have at least tried to provide drivers for Linux and even supply Deb packages. Unfortunately installation is a mess involving ugly binary wrappers and packages that don’t appear to conform to Debian policies very well.

Whilst there is no official support for this printer model in Ubuntu 9.10, it can be set up to work via Ethernet fairly easily. Read more of this post