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I don't like the default desktop offered at all. I would like to use an alternative desktop instead. What can I do?

You can of course freely choose the programs that are executed when you start your session. Please note, however, that we can only provide support for our standard desktop (Gnome). If you are using an alternative desktop, we can only provide limited support if the problems are caused by the desktop. To start a different desktop after logging in, proceed as follows:

In a text editor, create the .xsession file in your $HOME and list all programs there that are required to start your desktop environment. You can find further help on the xsession file e.g. here. Start the setup during the next login and change your session to Custom. From now on, when you log in, your own desktop will start instead of our standard desktop. Please refer to the documentation of your chosen window manager to find out which programs are required to start it. If you want to use our standard desktop again, you can of course change this in the setup if necessary.

Why have all my settings for program $foobar disappeared?

Unfortunately, developers of application programs do not always attach importance to supporting old configuration files in new program versions (even read-only) when making changes to their software. Incompatibilities often creep in between different program libraries (e.g. GTK3 can no longer read themes from GTK2. So if a theme was chosen in GTK2 which is not available in GTK3, GTK3 programs suddenly look strangely broken).

Since many such changes have been made, we have decided to set the search path for configuration files in the standard desktop session from ${HOME}/.config to ${HOME}/.config/techfak. This ensures that most users receive a functioning working environment by default. This does not apply to users of the Custom session, as they want to ensure that their working environment works themselves anyway and can fix these errors (if not, the custodian mode is not for you!).

How do I get my old $foobar settings back?

If you are sure that your settings will run smoothly in the new environment, you can simply copy or link them from the corresponding ${HOME}/.config/<i>$foobar</i>subfolder ${HOME}/.config/techfak/<i>$foobar</i>. If something no longer works as expected as a result, it is better to discard the old configuration.

Why is package $foobar no longer installed?

The Ubuntu environment includes more than 3000 packages! A large number of these packages were only used for certain projects and are no longer needed by users. Other packages are now obsolete, have been replaced by alternatives or are no longer available. Furthermore, there are packages whose installation makes newer versions uninstallable because they conflict with them.

We have therefore decided to initially only deliver those packages that are known to be in use. All other packages can, as usual, be requested by users if required and will be installed by us as soon as possible.


What about software that is not part of the Ubuntu distributions we support?

In some cases we get requests for software that is not part of the Ubuntu distributions we support. Including this software would mean running our own TechFak Ubuntu distribution. We would then have to do the same work as an Ubuntu package manager: We would have to make sure that the software works like a part of the distribution. Dependencies to other packages must be observed and fulfilled to ensure proper operation. Conflicts with other packages must be resolved. Since we are not members of the Ubuntu project, the maintainers of the Ubuntu distributions make decisions independently of us about which packages are available in which versions at which time. If we were to decide to offer non-distribution software as part of the TechFak netboot, we would have to do a lot of customization work every time an update of the Ubuntu distribution or a security patch is due. Unfortunately, we do not have enough manpower or the necessary testing infrastructure to do this. In order to enable the entirety of Netboot users to operate as smoothly as possible, we unfortunately have to live with the restriction of only installing original Ubuntu packages.

Which parts of the Ubuntu distribution can we install?

We endeavor to install Ubuntu packages, unless there are technical reasons to the contrary. These can be, for example

  • Programs or libraries that should not be made available on all systems for security or policy reasons. These include, for example, setuid root binaries, emulators such as wine or Virtualbox, as well as daemons that listen on public interfaces.
  • Programs or libraries that disrupt the workflow of other programs or the entire system. These include plug-ins for browsers or mail clients that are automatically loaded for each user or desktop applications such as gnome-do that are automatically started in every user session and generate a lot of unnecessary network traffic between the netboot clients and the netboot servers.
  • Programs or libraries that require kernel modules that are not part of the standard kernel.

Since Netboot systems are not standalone machines, but installed packages are immediately available to the entire TechFak, we try to check all applications for the above criteria before installing them. Therefore, there may be some delay in the installation of packages.

How do I find out if a package is already installed?

To find out if a package is already installed before sending a support request, any user can use dpkg -l | grep paketname. E.G:

$ dpkg -l | grep g++

ii g++ 4:4.4.3-1ubuntu1 The GNU C++ compiler

ii g++-4.4 4.4.3-4ubuntu5 The GNU C++ compiler

ii g++-4.4-multilib 4.4.3-4ubuntu5 The GNU C++ compiler (multilib files)

ii g++-multilib 4:4.4.3-1ubuntu1 The GNU C++ compiler (multilib files)

To see what is available in a distribution, any user can use "apt-cache search paketname" on a netboot client.

$ apt-cache search iotop

iotop - simple top-like I/O monitor

To see if iotop can be installed without conflicts, any user can use apt-get install --recon. If the answer is without the note

The following packages will be REMOVED:

then it looks good for a package request.