Monday 10 June 2024

How To Install Mkchromecast on Ubuntu and Ubuntu based Distros

Mkchromecast is a way to stream any sound from your desktop to your Chromecasts, which to me makes it a lot more useful than the Android app for streaming, particularly for streaming offline music to the no longer made Chromecast Audios. Just like Google Home, you can stream to just one or to a Home Group. As per my previous article, I was using Mkchromecast on Manjaro until recent updates killed it, so I switched that particular laptop to KDE Neon, which is my favourite distro. Anyway, here's how to install Mkchromecast: 

Firstly, install git, and then download Mkchromecast from git: 

    sudo apt install git

    git clone 

Then, switch to the mkchromecast directory and install the dependencies:

    cd mkchromecast

    pip install -r requirements.txt

Then install Mkchromecast

You can install from Discover or with apt (sudo apt install mkchromecast) and now it should work fine. I usually use mkchromecast -s to scan for devices and choose my Home group to stream all simultaneously. It's a shame Google discontinued the Chromecast Audio because it works pretty well, and is much cheaper than expensive streaming solutions like Sonus.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

From Manjaro to KDE Neon on My Dell Vostro 3300

So there was a huge update on Manjaro recently to KDE plasma 6 and it killed Mkchromecast again on my Dell Vostro, but this time I wasn't able to get it working again. However I worked out how to get it working in 'buntu based distros, so I decided to switch it to my preferred 'buntu-based distro, KDE Neon. Neon is based on the Kubuntu LTS but with the latest KDE installed. The installer was even easier and smoother than it used to be, so after backing up stuff I wanted to keep, I installed Neon in about 5 or so minutes. This machine has an old hard drive but it still feels fairly snappy to use. 

One of the first things I like to do with KDE now is turn off the stupid Offline updates setting. Seriously KDE devs, this isn't Windows, I don't want or need to have updates run on shutdown! Linux doesn't need to reboot for most updates! I also switched to Breeze Dark theme, and moved the panel to the top, disabling the new floating panel setting. That's what I like about KDE, everything is configurable, unlike Gnome where they have a like it or lump methodology. And the search feature in Settings works very well. Also I discovered that my Dell Vostro has a back-lit keyboard, I accidentally hit the Fn keyboard shortcut to turn it on! 

I also installed all the usual items such as GIMP, Audacious music player, FilezillaCantata (mpd front-end) Yakuake (a drop down terminal) and Kubuntu-restricted-extras. In general this fresh install has gone very smoothly compared to an upgrade, though I did have a slight issue with menus not popping up from the system tray, Switching from Wayland to X11 at the login screen sorted that out. Another little tweak I do is re-enabling the Leave option in the desktop right-click menu. So, other than that slight issue, this fresh install has gone very smoothly, and I'll likely keep KDE Neon on this laptop until the hardware dies whenever that might be, this Vostro is a tough old thing.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Upgrading to KDE Plasma 6.0 - a rocky start for KDE Neon User Edition

When I read about the first stable release of KDE Plasma 6, I thought I'd probably just wait awhile until I try it, but of course I forgot that KDE Neon User Edition would get it so soon.  Well, the update happened and the first thing I noticed, on my main desktop machine, was that for some reason the onscreen keyboard came up on the login screen, large and covering half the screen! To fix this I found a solution on a forum, which entails editing sddm.conf like so:

sudo nano /etc/sddm.conf

and then add 


Save and exit and the onscreen keyboard shouldn't appear again on the login screen. Also it's a rather basic login screen for some reason, no matter which theme I choose. Update - switching to the default Breeze login theme fixes this.

Then I noticed that Wayland was set as default again, after I tried to login and it wouldn't work. Nvidia is the reason for this, but thankfully X11 is still an option and that works. Then on the first few logins I noticed a lot of little errors I think some parts hadn't updated, so a quick trip to Discover, the package manager to make sure everything got updated was needed. And then a day or so after i updated, there was some major bug fixes, which has made things better but i am still getting the odd Plasma crash, usually after logging in and opening Chrome for the first time. Right now the desktop seems to have has settled down and actually feels a bit snappier than Plasma 5 was. I am still getting the occasional error and a few graphical glitches, black screens occasionally., 

KDE Activity manager constantly crashed with the "kactivitymanager closed unexpectedly" error.until I found a solution,  Navigate to ~/.local/share/kactivitymanagerd/resources and delete database, database-shm and database-wal. You will lose your favourites in the KDE menu but at least the annoying kactivitymanager won't keep crashing! Amother odd thing is that the Print Screen key does not open Spectacle anymore.   

Another minor issue is that since Plasma 6 is qt6 based, so Latte Dock no longer works, and will never be updated since it's been abandoned by the lead developer. A shame because it's been my favourite OSX-style dock for years. For now I have added another KDE panel, auto-hiding, and using the new floating panel feature. It's not exactly pretty, but it's functional. I shall miss the magnification effect from Latte, and I can't seem to get the panel to go translucent, even though I have set it to. Floating panels are default now, but to me they look odd on the normal panels so I have disabled them for those. Another minor niggle is that Dolphin always opens without the sidebar even though I closed it with it open. It used to remember my choice. 

On my main laptop, a T430s Thinkpad, the update installed more smoothly, there was no kactivitymanager errors but still have the same basic login screen and had to disable the onscreen keyboard like with my desktop machine. No graphical issues of course, because it's got Intel graphics. One thing I have noticed changed is that when I close the lid then open it again, the keyboard backlight now goes off instead of remembering which setting it was on. My laptop does not have the Dolphin sidebar issue though.

The KDE Neon developer blog has put up an apology for the number of issues with KDE Neon User Edition. Apparently the testing and unstable versions have been running more smoothly. Hopefully they'll send out more fixes soon.

You can read more about what's new in KDE Plasma 6 on the KDE website