A Fortnight With ASCII

I upgraded from jessie two weeks ago with any trouble. I've been using ASCII without any major issues since but there are a few wrinkles I thought I'd mention. Mind you, ASCII is still a work in progress and most of the wrinkles are not of Devuan's making.

The Good

Let's start off on a positive note and mention what definitely works fine. Networking (both wired and wireless), printing and scanning (using an EPSON PM-A750) and transferring data from my Suunto Ambit sportswatch all work as before. Playing ripped CDs in FLAC format with quodlibet still works (via speakers and headphones). The microphone also works (testing via appear.in) but I haven't been able to test video input (for lack of a webcam).

The Bad

I have been using lv as my preferred pager on jessie but after the upgrade less had become the default. I vaguely recall the same happening when I was still using Debian's testing so this cannot really be blamed on Devuan. Anyway, this was easily fixed with

sudo update-alternatives --set pager /usr/bin/lv

Oh, in case you wonder why I use lv, it does on-the-fly decompression and recognizes a large set of CJK encodings automatically. For me, that's a big plus.

Above, I said that wired networking works fine and it does. It's just that if the cable is not present, the eth0 configuration now halts the boot for about a minute before timing out. This was mentioned on the DNG list recently (it's a Debian introduced issue) and reverting the change to /etc/init.d/networking that broke things, as suggested on the list, made the wait go away.

The Ugly

Middle Button Mouse Copying

For well over twenty years I have been high-lighting text with the mouse and copy it with the mouse's middle button under the X Windows System. That no longer works 😲, without so much as a mention as to why and/or how to re-enable it. This seriously interrupts my workflow when copy-and-pasting links into blog posts and issue trackers.

There has been some talk about this being unilaterally imposed by the "GNOME toolkit" (it hasn't been the GIMP toolkit for a while now) but it seems that this may also have something to do with different copy-and-paste buffer approaches between Wayland and X11. I'm trying out the .config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini mentioned in the first link but I'm seeing inconsistent behaviour.

GUI Rendering Issues

Again, the above is not a Devuan introduced issue but what comes next is and it has to do with the Clearlooks-Phenix-Purpy theme. This is the Devuan default and when used on ASCII makes some applications rather hard to use. It does not affect all applications but for some, Emacs and quodlibet for example, the menu and icon bars are missing spacing between entries. As you can see from the screenshots below, jessie is on the left, ASCII on the right, the menu bar items, icons and menu entries are all squeezed together on ASCII. In addition, the separator lines, check boxes and submenu expanders have disappeared compared to the menu as displayed under jessie.

/images/a-fortnight-with-ascii/emacs-menu.png

Also, scrollbars are not displayed at all or are missing the slider making it just about impossible to get an idea of where in the display you are or move around using the scrollbar. Firefox is also afflicted by the scrollbar problem but even more troublesome is the absence of button, checkbox and entryfield decorations as illustrated in the comparison below. It's a cutout of the Debian packages' search page with the ASCII default theme at the bottom.

/images/a-fortnight-with-ascii/firefox-decorations.png

Fortunately, these problems are easily worked around. All you have to do is select another style via xfce4-appearance-settings. If you prefer to use the desktop menu, it's at "Applications" ▶ "Settings" ▶ "Appearance". A quick tests on my system indicates that you can choose whatever you like except Clearlooks-Phenix-Purpy. To be honest, the Firefox screenshots were both taken on Devuan ASCII 😇 but using the Clearlooks theme for the image on top.

All that said, work is underway on a new default theme for ASCII called Clearlooks-Phenix-DarkPurpy. I pulled the package mentioned in the mail and installed it with

sudo dpkg -i "clearlooks-phenix-darkpurpy-theme_7.0.1-1+devuan2.0_all (2).deb"

and gave it a quick spin. Seems to address all the issues mentioned above 👍. Now it just has to get into the Devuan package repositories.