Category Archives: Development

LXSession 0.5.1 released.

The session manager for LXDE was in long development and it still is. Julien did a lot for it to make it better. It is far from perfection yet but it is usable again and we hope it is a bit better than it was before. Two releases in row – 0.5.0, then fast bugfix next one – 0.5.1.
New release tarball download link:
lxsession-0.5.1.tar.xz – SHA1: 3419802c9e7269093900dd5fd4948acb95dec253

The most noticeable changes since previous stable release 0.4.6.1 (see git log for details):

  • Translations updates.
  • Added support for reboot and shutdown in LTST client.
  • Added support for user switch.
  • Added clipboard support, based on Xfce one.
  • Added options to launch default applications.
  • Rewritten whole lxsession in Vala.
  • Implemented a connection to session bus.
  • Added ability to change settings by Dbus call, example by keymap configuration.
  • Added signal / Dbus for changing window manager.
  • Added Dbus method for restarting Xsettings.
  • Added Dbus methods for xrandr options.
  • Added more details in the desktop.conf example.
  • Added GTK, Mouse and Keyboard to the list of settings + Dbus methods to change them.
  • Added lxclipboard standalone, and an option to launch it instead of built-in the support.
  • Implemented network GUI default application (nm-applet, wicd, etc.).
  • Moved in lxpolkit from standalone package.
  • Moved in lxsession-edit from standalone package.
  • Implemented audio-manager handler support.
  • Implemented quit manager support and expose it in Dbus.
  • Implemented workspace manager option and expose it in Dbus.
  • Implemented launcher manager support and expose it on Dbus.
  • Implemented terminal by default support and expose on Dbus.
  • Implemented minimal support for inhibition of the screensaver.
  • Implemented option to disable autostarted applications on home and system directory.
  • Implemented new way of launching windows manager.
  • Implemented composite manager handler.
  • Rebased lxlock on xflock, and extend it with lightdm and xdg-screensaver.
  • Added i3lock support in lxlock.
  • Added systemd-logind support.
  • Added more options for the disable_autostart option.
  • Added an option for screenshot to take only the current window.
  • Made lxsession-logout working when lxsession is not running.
  • Added lxsession-default utility.
  • Added PackageManagerRunning signal and ProxyOption initial commit.
  • Increased timeout for lxsession-logout, to make authentification possible.
  • Removed conditionnal support for Dbus, it’s now mandatory.
  • Added razorqt polkit agent support.
  • Added the version to the session name in lxsession-logout.
  • Implemented AudioManagerSet.
  • Implemented others Get() Set() functions for *_manager.
  • Implemented close() and reload() for all Apps.
  • Implemented panel control mechanism.
  • Implemented a more complex quit_manager.
  • Implemented ability to set some custom XDG environment variables.
  • Added an ssh-agent option instead of gnome-keyring.
  • Added lxterminal conffiles, and enabled the one for xscreensaver.
  • Added “support” for libfm in conffiles.
  • Implemented Desktop handler.
  • Implemented upstart user session option.
  • Implemented lxsession-default-apps, the GUI for configuring lxsession.
  • Implemented  lxsession-db, to build database of available applications by categories.
  • Made it possible to set working directory when launching app, and set it for the terminal.
  • Added a lxsettings-daemon binary independant from lxsession core.
  • Implemented SessionSupport and SessionSupportDetail Dbus interface.
  • Removed gee dependencies, use HashTable.
  • Fixed lxsession-logout when lsb_release is not available.
  • New –disable-gtk flag, which doesn’t build any gtk component at build time.
  • Added support for ubuntu appmenu environment variable.
  • Added light-locker in lxlock.
  • Added support for only reload 5 times applications which are reloaded.
  • Added missing man pages for some binaries.

LXQt now has “full” Qt5 support

After the first official public release 0.7, the LXQt team is working on making it better. Our recent focus is fixing existing bugs and migrating from Qt4 to Qt5, which is required if we want to support Wayland. Now we had something to show. The latest source code in our git repository can be compiled with Qt5. by just passing -DUSE_QT5=ON flag to cmake. Building with Qt4 is still supported until the next release, but later we’ll focus on Qt5.
Recently we also got some patches from the community and also a new developer joined us. We’re now fixing some remaining bugs. Hopefully we can have 0.8 release soon. :-)

LXQt-Admin: System admin tools for LXQt arrived

It’s known that system admin tools for LXQt were lacking.
This is no longer true.  A new component lxqt-admin landed int our git repo. Please see the screenshots. :-) These are “desktop-independent” pure Qt tools based on system-tool-backends.

lxqt-admin-time: Tool to configure date and time.

lxqt-admin-time

lxqt-admin-user: Tool to manage users and groups.

lxqt-admin-user

We know that LXQt is not good enough, but it will getting better and better. Long live LXQt, the classic desktop!

Some Numbers About LXQt for Those Who Are Curious

After the initial release of LXQt, I found that there is a FAQ. How’s the memory usage? Will it become a bloated memory hog because of Qt? Here are some numbers for you.
My test environment is the latest Debian stable installed in VirtualBox with 512 MB of RAM and 1 CPU core assigned. After cold boot, the memory usage is as follows.

  • Plain Openbox only: 58 MB
  • XFCE: 89 MB (with default configuration of Debian. This value will increase after xfce is ported to gtk+ 3)
  • LXDE (gtk+ 2 version): 78 MB (add 20 MB to openbox)
  • LXQt: 95 MB (add 37 MB to openbox, still has some room for optimization)

The screen resolution is 1280 x 1024. So a wallpaper roughly used 1280x1024x4 bytes = 5MB of RAM. If you don’t set a wallpaper, this number can be lower. Besides, this is a virtual machine so some special modules for vbox are loaded. I turned off printer service and network-manager applet since they’re not used.

Yes, the memory usage slightly increased, but the difference is really negligible. Moreover, LXQt has more features, such as a better program launcher and new power management stuff.

Apparently the gtk+ 2 version uses less memory, but we cannot use gtk+ 2 forever. It’s not a secret that gtk+ 3 is not a memory saver. So, I’d say Qt is really not that bad.

Why yet another DE? Why can’t you do something more innovative? I think the answer for this FAQ is simple.

  • Nowadays everything goes mobile and touch, but we still saw unmet need for a classic desktop environment. Otherwise, Windows xp should have been killed years ago and Windows 8 should have high market share now.
  • In the history of free software, we see forking everyday, but (successful) merging rarely happened. We want to prove that it actually works. People can focus on what they can share with each other, not how they are different.

The following is my personal opinion (not on behalf of other LXQt developers)
Seriously, if a 17 MB memory usage increment can buy us faster development, more active developers [Figure 1], more contributors, and a healthier upstream community, that’s definitely worth it. When I say healthier, I mean those who do not hold a “Follow our way, or go away!” attitude. This is just as important as other technical considerations when you choose a toolkit.
Many people like to argue that Qt is not C++ since it requires a pre-processor. Did anyone tell you that Gtk+ actually uses a preprocessor, too? Check the manpage of “glib-genmarshal” please. Without this pre-processor to generate some code for you, it will be awfully difficult to add signals to your GObjects. That’s not C language, right?
It does not really matter for users what toolkit you’re using given the final result works. Let’s save some time not arguing which is better and focus on what we can do with them. :-)

Figure 1. A screenshot from Google Trend
google-trend-qt-gtk

LXQt Got Initial FreeBSD support.

Recently, PC-BSD developers just reminded us that there is an unmet need for a Qt desktop for BSDs. So, here you go. :-)

LXQt-FreeBSD

As stated earlier, we’re not really Linux-centric. We support Linux better simply because we’re Linux users. Now with some help from several FreeBSD users, things can be different. I installed FreeBSD 10 in Virtualbox last week. After reading some docs and fighting with it we fixed some broken makefiles. Now the major components should work as expected.
Of course, there are still some Linux things which do not work (yet).

  • lxqt-powermanagement: this requires upower
  • lxqt-policykit: I haven’t test if policykit works for FreeBSD
  • volume control applet: currently it only supports ALSA and PulseAudio. I’m going to implement OSS support for it.
  • removable device applet: this requires udisks
  • Reboot/Shutdown from the menu: We use logind/consolekit now. Any good alternative for BSD?

Other parts should just work. We hope that we can improve FreeBSD support more. Of course, help from the BSD community is needed.

Cheers!

 

The First Alpha Release of LXDE-Qt (or LXQt) is in Preparation

Since the merge of the LXDE and Razor-Qt teams in July 2013, there has not been any releases to the public. After months of works, the merged product is in a good shape now. It’s quite stable and usable. So we are discussing about the possibility to make the first alpha release for the long awaited DE. The exact date of the release is still under discussion, but we will do it as soon as possible. Since it’s an alpha release, which means it’s for early testers and developers interested, please do not expect too much. Things are expected to be broken and some parts might still need some polishing. For example, translations are not done yet. They will be done before the final release of LXDE-Qt (or LXQt).

p.s.: If someone is willing to help test it on FreeBSD, please let us know.  :-)

3 Tips to improve the CPU usage of Qmmp music player

In the GTK+ world, we have many lightweight music players, such as Audacious. While migrating to Qt, some people might want a Qt-based alternative for use in LXDE-Qt. Fortunately, we have Qmmp. Here are screenshots from their website. They provides the old-school WinAmp-like skins, or you can install the qmmp-plugin-pack to get the foobar2000-like simple UI.

Winamp like UI
Winamp like UI
Foobar like simple UI
Foobar like simple UI

The music player looks very suitable for LXDE-Qt, but it has some known problems, one of which is higher CPU usage then similar music players (mainly Audacious). To improve that, I spent two days hacking and found some potential solutions so I share them here.

  1. Install qmmp-plugin-pack and use mpg123 plugin for playing mp3 files instead of the default libmad plugin. Mpg123 is highly optimized  and can use CPU features when available, such as SIMD. This can be changed in the preferences dialog. Just turn off the libmad plugin and turn on the mpg123 one. This greatly reduced the CPU usage while playing mp3 files. Qmmp by default give libmad higher priority, so you have to turn off libmad. Otherwise mpg123 won’t be used.
  2. Apply these 2 patches I created and recompile qmmp from source. The subversion r4265 code of qmmp should be used. Detailed information about the bugs they fixed is in the bug report 685. I already send the patches to the upstream, but they’re not yet applied. I post them here so other qmmp users can try them.
  3. Turn off the visualizer (spectrum visualizer) if you’re using the simple UI (the second screenshot above). It’s the main cause of high CPU usage.  Turning it off can decrease CPU usage to some degree. With the second patch I provided, you can get rid of the CPU usage completely when the visualizer is off.

If you love qmmp, try to see if the solutions provided here solve your problems.

Cheerrs!

PCManFM-Qt Reaches a Quite Usable State

The LXQt project is steadily developed. While the image viewer lximage-qt just got some polishing lately, the Qt port of PCManFM file manager also reaches a quite usable state.

pcmanfm-screenshot

Some notable changes are:

  • Add dir tree to the side pane
  • Improved file popup menu
  • Able to open the selected files with arbitrary apps
  • Improved handling when trying to open an executable file.
  • Improved statusbar info
  • Many bug fixes

Though we don’t have a stable release yet, basically the feature set of the Qt port is quite close to the earlier 1.0 version of the gtk+ version. Users interested to the project are encouraged to test the latest code in our git repo. Patches are always welcomed! :-)

Here is a guide for building lxqt components from git.
http://wiki.lxde.org/en/Build_LXDE-Qt_From_Source