Computer fun

Another item from the weekend:

I did two things on my computers. One of which was much easier than I'd anticipated, the other of which was trickier.

The GNU/Linux distribution that I'm using is called Gentoo. I had decided to add a feature to the old machine in my basement that mostly holds backup files and a print-server.

The new feature is a Media Server.

After a little tweaking and searching, I ended up at this web site. I spent a little time pulling in upgrades to the core Gentoo system, then I ran the installer for plex-media-server.

A few minutes later, Plex was installed and I was importing MP3 files. I could see the server from any computer on the in-house network, and could also see the new Plex server from my Roku media center.

The harder task was changing the Login Manager on that same Gentoo system, while enabling the screensaver software to let another user log in.

The software that handler user login is separate from the software that handles the screensaver, and is also separate from the Window Manager that handles most user interaction. Further, some Login Managers depend heavily on libraries from the related Window Manager, while others don't.

(Technically, this is also true in Windows and Mac. However, Microsoft/Apple don't make it easy for the user to replace one of these tools.)

Thus, I had to find and parse directions for switching from SLiM Login Manager to LightDM. And then find the command offered by LightDM to plug into the newLogin option offered by the XScreenSaver toolkit. The answer wasn't easy to find in the Gentoo online documentation, but I eventually found something in the documentation of the Arch Linux distribution.

Then I had to test. However, it didn't work...I'd forgotten that I needed to shut down and re-spawn the XScreenSaver process to use the new setting. After that, I realized that I also needed to log out of the active session, restart the Login Manager, and then log in again.

Eventually I figured it out.

One of the hassles of not using a fully-integrated desktop environment (like GNOME) is that I occasionally run into poorly-documented interactions between components.

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