XFCE Corebootbook, almost

date: 2023-01-11

Giving XFCE a try

For desktop environments, I currently prefer the Cinnamon desktop. I have used tiling window managers and other more minimal window managers... but Cinnamon just works well for me as a default and as something to install for people using Linux for the first time.

I have been following "chaslinux" on the Fediverse and on his website. He refurbishes computers and almost exclusively uses the xubuntu Linux distro, which features the XFCE desktop enviroment.


XFCE is an option with Devuan, so I thought I'd give that a try while getting a "corebootbook" ready for a customer as it may perform better than Cinnamon.

Going fine for a while

The installation went well. I changed /etc/default/keyboard so that it was configured to use a Chromebook keyboard and rebooted.

The sound, browser navigation keys on the top row worked... but the screen brightness keys didn't do anything. I started to look into that.

Where things went bad

I found a power setting widget on the bottom panel and it had a screen brightness slider bar.

I clicked on it.

The screen went black.

When clicking on the slider, it must have gone all the way to zero brightness. Weird. Couldn't use any keys to change the brightness. Can't see the slider to change it. Let's try rebooting.

I held down the power button until the laptop went off. Pressed it again and was greeted by the coreboot logo, then the grub screen and linux proceeded to boot with things visible on the screen... until it got to a certain point, probably the login screen. Then it went black.

I tried to fix it several different ways, but with no success.

Even if I had been successful, I wouldn't want that problem to happen to a customer if they pressed on the screen brightness slider.

Back to Cinnamon

This problem couldn't have happened on a desktop as desktop monitors do not have their brightness controlled by the computer. But I need the screen brightness keys on the top row of the Chromebook keyboard to work as expected on this corebootbook that someone else will be using.

Cinnamon does work after changing the keyboard model in /etc/default/keyboard - so I will keep using Cinnamon for now on corebootbook laptops.

I may look into getting those keys to work in XFCE, but it is a low priority for me.

DE opinions

The current version of Gnome would be too sluggish on this hardware, so I haven't even tried that. There is "Gnome Flashback", which is an option in the Devuan installer. I haven't tried that yet, but I do not really want to. GTK spinoffs like Cinnamon and Mate are about as close as I'll get to Gnome. There's a reason why Cinnamon was created as an alternative to Gnome 3 and I agree with those reasons, though using something else entirely is an option I will be exploring... though that may not work great on corebooted Chromebook hardware either.

I have never really done much with KDE or qt. lxqt is lightweight and I have installed that on a ThinkPad for a customer before.

I am mostly staying away from qt because it is programmed in C++ ... not a great reason on it's own, but I'd prefer to stay with things programmed in C or other languages on my preferred languages list.

Wrap up

So Cinnamon wins again. Tried something new, but couldn't get it to fully work as I needed it to in the time I had.

tags: #linux #cinnamon #xfce