Open source desktops and closed source video drivers.

When you have a workstation running some variant of Linux, the Gnome desktop and you have an nVidia graphics card in the box, do yourself a favor and install their drivers. Make sure that the "Driver" line in /etc/X11/xorg.conf reads "nvidia" and not "nv". And when you get around to configuring multiple displays on the same system, don't mess with Gnome's System->Preferences->Display utility, use the nvidia-settings utility to do it for you (it'll ask for the root password).

Odd Gnome problems, or, what happened to my icons?

While upgrading Windbringer's systemware yesterday, I suddenly ran across a rather odd problem: all of the icons on my Gnome desktop suddenly turned into the default Gnome "blank page with a corner folded down" icon, which meant that Gnome wasn't able to figure out what sort of file a launcher really was. Even more oddly, the names of the launchers themselves turned into (for example), "gtkpod.desktop" rather than "GTKpod", which meant that double-clicking on anything resulted in the contents of the launcher being opened in a text editor. Everything inside of the Gnome application menu could still be executed …

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Linux, UDEV, HAL, and removable drives.

Now that I've metabolized the caffeine from the two-and-an-unknown-fraction pots of coffee I've drunk today (don't ask), I have it together enough to write about an unusually annoying glitch that plagues Linux users from time to time: Automatic mounting of USB storage devices stops working after you tinker with the systemware, usually after recompiling something or upgrading a package. I ran into this a few days ago but didn't think much of it because I've mostly been using Windows XP for work (yes, yes, you may now all laugh) but I decided to sit down and figure out what happened …

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