Migrating to Debian LXQt - great apps, tips and fixes

I like LXQt and use Lubuntu.  I'm trying out Debian LXQt because of... snap issues.  So here's the Debian LXQt edition of my previous Lubuntu productivity software to install and  migration notes.


After installing the standard Debian testing distribution (currently bullseye), I like to:

# for building some kernel modules
sudo apt-get install build-essential dkms linux-headers-$(uname -r)

# enable contrib and non-free repos
sudo sed -ri 's/^(deb.*main)$/\1 contrib non-free/' /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

# productivity software I like (note nomacs is in Debian unstable repository)
sudo apt-get install chrony file-roller xournal evince nomacs graphicsmagick ghostwriter emacs gimp gimp-plugin-registry gimp-gmic default-jdk gcc make ttf-mscorefonts-installer ruby vlc  libsecret-1-0 libsecret-1-dev keynav gedit restic rename git gitk git-gui

# enable libsecret for git
sudo make --directory=/usr/share/doc/git/contrib/credential/libsecret
git config --global credential.helper /usr/share/doc/git/contrib/credential/libsecret/git-credential-libsecret

# because where I am, it's hard to contact a time server except Apple's...
echo 'server time.apple.com iburst' >> /etc/chrony/chrony.conf

# make an icon for GraphicsMagic
cat > ~/.local/share/applications/GraphicsMagic\ display.desktop << EOM
[Desktop Entry]
Name=GraphicsMagick display
Comment=GraphicsMagick display
Exec=/usr/bin/gm display %F

# install aws-cli 2 using curl,unzip,install, like this:
curl "https://awscli.amazonaws.com/awscli-exe-linux-x86_64.zip" -o "awscliv2.zip"
unzip awscliv2.zip
sudo ./aws/install

Note: ttf-mscorefonts-installer might require user interaction to install, so don't walk away from it overnight thinking everything will be done by morning.

Then install by hand VS Code, Chrome, Netbeans, and LibreOffice dictionaries and plugins etc.

Finally, also set up file-roller integration.

Software to Download and Install by Hand

The default package manager using the default Debian software sources (testing channel) are pretty good at keeping up with the versions.  I like doing that most of the time to reduce on maintenance.

Some things are worth the manual install though.

1. LibreOffice needs some extensions, dictionaries, and settings:
  • an extension I rely on a lot:  MultiFormatSave.  Let's you save a document to multiple formats at the same time, great for archival compatibility.

  • it needs a dictionary for spell checking!  For English, these dictionaries from LibreOffice are good.

  • this setting is essential to prevent previews of recent documents on the start screen, which is quite a privacy blunder:
    • Tools menu > Options > LibreOffice > Advanced > Open Expert Configuration > Search for RecentDocsThumbnail property > toggle to false.

2. Google Chrome is self-updating.  I prefer Firefox, which is installed by default, but sometimes you need Chrome.

3. Apache NetBeans.  This requires as a dependency the Java JDK at least version 8.
  • So use muon to install the default-jdk because the default is version 11, which works fine so far.

  • And get the "Maven Remote Search" plugin before Netbeans starts downloading and extracting the maven index that's apparently more than 1 GB in size (froze my computer since I have very little disk space...).

4.  VS Code.

    Screen Saver Lock Screen Madness

    It's madness, there are at least 3 places to set the screen saver / lock screen / sleep settings:
    1. Preferences > LXQt Settings > Session Settings
    2. Preferences > LXQt Settings > Power Management
    3. Preferences > Screensaver
    They seem to interact with each other, and each has slightly different settings and uses.

    My default Screensaver sometimes ran the CPU real hot, so maybe set that to something less energy intensive first.  I used Deco with settings reducing the framerate.

    I'd suggest using each tool for orthogonal tasks:
    1. use Screensaver purely for setting the screensaver and when it turns on.

    2. Set when the screen locks using Power Management (Idle tab).

    3. Use the Session Settings to set whether the screen locks before suspending the OS (I think it defaults to locking after suspending).

    File compression tool

    For reasons, I like file-roller.  So just install file-roller via apt-get.

    The default file explorer PCManFM-Qt has a preferences option to integrate with file-roller instead as well for ease of use.

    Explanation of certain software choices

    Basic graphics editing

    The default graphics viewer LXImage is actually a bit of a pain to use, especially coming from Mac Preview, which really has a great mix of UI, UX, and editing features for graphics and PDFs...

    There's no equivalent to Apple's Preview, but for graphic files, nomacs Image Lounge is pretty good.  nomacs has a UI UX reminiscent of Preview, and has some basic graphics editing features too.

    Little more graphics editing features

    The default graphics viewer LXImage has some annotation tools, I guess, but nothing more.  nomacs has some more graphics editing features, but I sure miss the Mac Preview tool.

    Anyway, ImageMagick or the more updated GraphicsMagick fork is quite useful (but beware it has a very... historic?... dated?... GUI).  It can be installed via apt-get, but it doesn't seem to install a default app launcher icon --- well, it's meant to be used from the terminal, but I like to deal with the GUI.

    So I added a blank file to ~/.local/share/applications called "GraphicsMagic display.desktop" with the following text saved to it:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Name=GraphicsMagick display
    Comment=GraphicsMagick display
    Exec=/usr/bin/gm display %F

    Now you can use it like LXImage (in fact, it uses the LXImage icon because, why not?).

    If I need more intensive graphics editing, I'll use GIMP.

    Time Clock Auto Update Synchronization Problem

    Debian looks to use timedatectl by default for setting time, including synchronization via NTP Network Time Protocol.  It doesn't allow me to force a sync though.

    You could instead use chrony.

    It lets you do things like chronyc sources to see the currently available and selected time sources.  Perhaps your network is blocking NTP updates?

    Or chronyc sourcestats to see your clock's time offset from the various NTP sources.

    You could do a single time offset check, without setting the time: sudo chronyd -Q

    Or manually force a time synchronization with: sudo chronyd -q

    Oh, and I like to add to /etc/chrony/chrony.conf  : server time.apple.com iburst because where I am it's hard to get to a time server except Apple's.

    Microsoft Fonts

    Install ttf-mscorefonts-installer.  Some instructions for this but it's straightforward from the package manager.  Just use sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer.

    Markdown editor

    I like Ghostwriter so far.


    For file backup, restic looks great.  Some people like borg.

    Remember Git passwords securely

    Git is great.  Remember Git passwords securely is even better, but requires manual install though.


    keynav  ---  Didn't have it in Lubuntu, but it exists for Debian!!!!

    skippy-xd  --- It hasn't been updated and doesn't work anymore for Lubuntu (OpenBox, LXQt).  Debian LXQt uses Xfwm though, so somewhat similar functionality is already built in!

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