Tracking LC problems with Linux

Richmond richmondmathewson at
Sat Dec 28 05:11:23 EST 2013

On 28/12/13 10:16, Peter Alcibiades wrote:
> This comes up from time to time, so here is my own approach to tracking down
> incompatibilities systematically.
> It is going to be either the base system, kernel and libraries, the window
> manager or the desktop environment.  Or its going to be LC itself, and that
> is what one is trying to establish.
> So you need a reference base system.  My own choice would be Slackware,
> because it is the least tweaked of all distributions.  If something will not
> run properly on Slackware it is almost certainly a problem of the package
> itself.
> But, to establish that its the base system you have to eliminate the window
> manager and desktop environment.  Ubuntu is heavily idiosyncratic in this
> respect.  However in all cases of the big desktop managers you will be
> running a different window manager.  KDE is kwin, XFCE is xfwm, Gnome used
> to use metacity but has now changed to something else.

What you say makes very good sense.  BUT . . .

it presupposes that somebody has:

1. a free (as in 'available') PC on which to run a reference base system.

2. the time and inclination to do all these tests.

And I'm not sure whether there is anybody (unless, just possibly, your 
good self) who has
both #1 and #2.

> So to narrow this down, see if the problem occurs on Slackware without a
> desktop environment proper.  One way would be to use metacity.   Another
> would be fluxbox or openbox by themselves.  These once again are very
> standards oriented packages.  If you can reproduce the problem on more than
> one of them, running on Slackware, its almost certainly an LC problem.
> Suppose they all run perfectly?  Then the next step is to add a desktop
> environment.  You know at this point that metacity works, so run XFCE over
> metacity on Slackware.  If that works, XFCE with its own wm.  If that works,
> try KDE on Slackware.  If that works, then the problem is almost certainly
> the distribution and not LC.  In this case its Ubuntu.
> It is not surprising that most people report these issues on Ubuntu because
> first of all its heavily tweaked and second its release policy gives little
> time for whole system testing.  Debian may go way over the top on this in
> the conservative direction, but Ubuntu is at quite the other extreme. Ubuntu
> also seems to be more widely used than any other, maybe this is a factor
> too?
> Lets say that as a result of an afternoon

Um, an afternoon.

Let's see:

Correct 50 essays.
Empty the washing-machine and hang laundry on balcony.
Wash dishes from lunch.
Empty the cats' loo.
Read sections of textbooks for next week's teaching.
Do as much programming on one's latest thing as possible as people are 
breathing down my neck.
Cook supper.
Feed cats.
Spend pleasant 30 minutes with similarly busy wife.

Sorry, but I wonder how many people can manage "an afternoon spent with 
Slackware", not forgetting
having to install it and LC GUI-less on a PC?

>   spent with Slackware, probably on
> a VM,

Aha; well that gets rid of requirement #1.

Mind you there is a school of thought that running systems inside VMware 
or Vbox is not quite
the same as doing it on the bare hardware.

>   we have not tracked down any problem.  In that case, go to Debian,
> probably on a VM, and try first metacity and then, for instance, XFCE.  If
> we now have two distros with completely different lines of descent both
> working fine, then the problem is Ubuntu.  Where in Ubuntu we do not know.
> It could be in the base system or it could be in the desktop or window
> manager.  But its certainly in Ubuntu (or the respin version, if that is
> what we are using).
> In the case people are writing about now, it seems to be a problem that
> shows up in one version of Ubuntu respun using XFCE but not in another.
> Surely what matters is to be using XFCE, if that's the desktop choice, so go
> to the most stable distribution you can get with that.
> That is probably to do a plain vanilla Debian or Slackware install, and
> manually install XFCE, and then tweak it to running over metacity.  And have
> fluxbox or openbox installed alongside, just in case.
> If it were me I would spend all my energy finding out if its an LC problem.
> If I found it was an Ubuntu problem I would spend no time at all tracking
> down exactly where, because its a moving target and in six months time it
> will be something else.  My priority would be getting a production system
> where I don't have to do this stuff.
> But, to each his own!

I have recently discovered a number of discrepancies between how LC runs 
in the IDE
and in a standalone.

So I did something that is probably by your standards a bit moronic:

I ran the original stack and the standalone side by side and did a 
compare and contrast exercise;
and, as my target is to end up with a standalone that does what I want 
rather than a stack,
I noted down the differences and worked out, by good old trial and error 
how to get what I want
in the standalone by producing the equivalent but different effects in 
the IDE.


I understand your objections to Ubuntu, and you probably understand my 
objections to Windows XP [I had
an enquiry the other day from someone running Windows Millennium !!!!!]; 
but, like it or not, the installed base
of desktop computers running Linux is largely Ubuntu, just as my target 
demographic for my latest thing
consists of an installed base of around 90% Windows XP.

If one sells [/gives away] a LC standalone like this:

Product XXX from QQQQQ costs $50 for an individual licence and the 
requirement that if you have a
fairly manky old PC struggling along with Windows XP you have to chuck 
it out and buy something more
contemporary with Windows 7, or a type of Linux that is not one of the 
ones on this list here (where top of
the list is Ubuntu).

Your product, however good it may be will probably float around like a 
dead duck in the water.

Over here, in Bulgaria, Laptops (which are all the rage) are offered 
with Windows 7 OEM, Ubuntu or DOS (this option
for folk who want to buy something and install pirate Windows - the wee 
man in one of the shops told me that 90%
of their sales are laptops with DOS: and there is not a strange 
resorgamenta in DOS use in the Balkans, I assure you).

You cannot kick against the pricks.


Beyond this, with reference to Linux. Linux is not, as we are all well 
aware, a monolithic thing (beyond the kernel)
and almost everybody who has Linux installed on a Desktop PC and/or 
laptop has a variation on the central theme,
or a variation on a variation on that theme; and, admittedly, Ubuntu 
feels at times like Andrew Lloyd-Webber's
variations on Paganini's A minor caprice; not a patch on Lutoslawki's 
and so on; but I don't honestly see how RunRev can
be expected to produce something that will work ALL of the time on ALL 
installed Linux systems.

Now were I Kevin Miller [a situation about which he and I mutually agree 
is thankfully not the case] I would be concerned about
making sure my Linux IDE, and more importantly my Linux standalones 
[and, by-the-way, I do 99% of my development with
Livecode on Macintosh regardless of where any resultant standalones are 
going to be deployed] run on the most widely used
Linux distros; which [bite down hard Peter] is, unfortunately 
Slugworth's Ubuntu and its variations.


Oh, while I'm here; a quick note to people who were miffed about my 
remark about "posers" and so on.
I am slowly picking up odd jobs sorting out people's real or imaginary 
problems with their Macintosh laptops:

3 academics from the University; all laptops paid for from European 
Union grants.

4 university students whose parents either belong or are attached to the 
Bulgarian mafia
(err . . .  "emerging business class" . . . go and read your Marx, 
Richmond) and are very, very careful
to carry their Mac laptops around with special laptop carriers with 
holes cut in the sides so
everybody can see the Apple logo.

My younger son: who has a MacBook that he saw when a kid at his posh 
school in Germany
ordered both a black one and a white one; opened them both and said "Oh, 
I like the white one." and
just dropped the black one into the waste-paper basket. Needless-to-say, 
my son waited around until the
rich kid pushed off, fished the laptop (brand new and not even having 
been booted up) out of the bin
and ran, singing, all the way to the phone-box to call his Dad.

My son, being 18, is just as careful as every other teenager to make 
sure everyone notices he has an Apple laptop!

This should serve him in good stead as we have just spent 5 days 
translating tax returns, filling in FAFSA forms,
and so on for his applications to Princeton, Harvard, Chicago, 
Pennsylvania and a 5th one whose name escapes me.


Wow; if I can spend time writing all this, then maybe I do have the sort 
of time to do some testing as per Peter's method.


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