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News

I think that a news feature will be helpful just to let anyone who is interested know whats going on. There may not be a lot of updates, but I will try and post important changes and events.               

7/2/24
My wife is pretty sick and is in  a nursing home for long term antibiotics. This project is keeping me sane by distracting me when I am alone. I am spending a lot of time with her, and if something in the future is delayed please understand. I will do my best to keep putting the spins out, but some things are more important.
 
6/28/24
I have been looking at the Manjaro downloads for each of the desktops over a three month span. The data shows which are popular. LXQt and Cinnamon are the most popular, and then Mate, Xfce, and Gnome. Talking Mate is last, but Pantheon is close.
Talking Mate is something I will continue making no matter what. While it doesnt have a lot of downloads, its possible user base is smaller than standard desktops.
Pantheon is a lot of work, and while I like the desktop, its often broken and not usable. Gnome is not one of my favorite desktops and it also requires extra work to build.

All of this has me contemplating if it would be wiser to build fewer desktops, and add more options like a panel iso for those the project builds.

6/14/24
The Manjaro 24.0.2 series is done. Pantheon is again broken and I am seriously considering removing it from the desktops the project builds.
With a little time on my hands before the Debian builds at the end of the month I have to take care of a problem. One of the hard drives on the build server is making some noise and will likely go out at some point. I have a ssd I am going to be moving the build environments to. It should protect the data and as a side benefit speed up the building of iso's.
To accomplish this I will have to put the server offline. I am temporarily moving the website to Tuxfamily while I do the work. The only change that end users may notice is the url in the address bar will be different.

Update: The replacement went better than I expected. It took most of the morning till late afternoon to get data transferred and then fix broken links, NFS shares, and partition mounts. The build environments tested out and were about 7 minutes faster building a Cinnamon panel iso. 
5/24/24
The Manjaro series was finished a couple of days ago. The update was over two months from the last one and had some major updates, so it took some time. The changes to Pantheon were nice and will hopefully make it easier to build in the future.
I now have a few days before starting the Debian 6/24 series. The last series used an older Manjaro theme series that had never been used with Debian. Since the themes are pretty much interchangeable using an older series just means more themes for Debian in the SbK repositories. I plan on adding more themes this way. So for the 6/24 series I will again use a previous Manjaro theme series that doesnt exist in the Debian repositories. Current Manjaro themes will follow.
At present there are about 175 complete desktop themes in the Manjaro repositories with 6 new ones added monthly. The plan is at some point creating an application for Manjaro and Debian that can set any existing theme to a desktop. I dont have the coding skills at present but I am learning to code. If anyone would like to create an application that would do it, I would be happy and help in any way I can.

5/6/24
I have been able to complete the Debian 524 series. Talking Mate is the last one and it is built. I should upload it tonight after final testing and put out a release announcement in the morning.
The 524 series did not have a preceding Manjaro release so the themes wont be the same. Instead I used a theme series from before I started making Debian releases. This has the benefit of having more themes for Debian because the packages needed to use the themes are now in the Debian repository.

5/3/24
I was all ready to build the Debian 524 series. Then I found that there was a HUGE logjam in testing, at present count its over 700 packages just for LXQt. I was able  to build the minimal iso, but not the full. I contemplated ways around the problem, including building unstable iso's (which build fine). But in the end decided against it, after all Sid breaks things. The last thing I want is to put out iso's that fubar a month or so after install.
I will put off building the Debian series for a week or two. Even if a month is skipped its better than users with broken systems. The 424 series still install just fine, and will work even if packages are held back for a few weeks.

3/30/24
We are heading into the busiest time of year for gardening, and I love gardening. Early spring will eat my free time up quickly. To keep the releases on schedule I have started making themes for releases in advance. I now have 2 sets of themes done, and I am hoping to get at least one more ready. That way no matter what I can hopefully get a release out quickly.
At present the 4/24 Debian series is ready to build the final release iso's. I should have LXQt out on April 1st.

3/15/24
I have some family commitments this weekend, then I am an election judge on Tuesday of next week. Thats an all day thing and I am physically useless for a few days afterward.  Because of this I released almost all of the Manjaro 23.1.3.2m series today.
I still have Talking Mate left, and it will be released sometime next week. The older iso still works if you cant wait to install it.

2/28/24
After banging my head into a wall yesterday fixing the Directory Menu applet settings in the Xfce-Compiz release, a bug surfaces in the Cinnamon iso I built. Its an easy bug to troubleshoot this time, intel-ucode image not found,just like the amd-ucode error last series. It will take a lot more work to fix. This bug will affect anyone with intel graphics. That means a package needs to be added to all iso's, and so everything in this release series will have to be built and uploaded again.

2/24/24
I just announced the LXQt 23.1.3.1 release, its really nice in my opinion. I also finished changing to the new modified website theme. The pages look good and scale to about 800 pixels wide. That should be ok for most computers still in use today. The text overlaps the solid background below that slightly, but its still readable.
 
2/23/24
Real life got in the way of starting the Manjaro 23.1.3.1 series. Traveling 40 minutes one was for my wift to have a cataract removed, and then back the next day to a doctor, then taking care of her ate up my free time.  Some things are infintly more important than putting out spins. I will get the LXQt out today.
I also took a look at the website in Chrome. It was awful. I went to work and fixed it. The pages should all be replaced soon, I just need some free time, and that is in short supply lately.
 
2/9/24
After finishing the 2/24 Debian series I took a look at my electric bill. It seems leaving an extra computer on all the time to host the website is wrecking my budget plan. I had hoped the "Buy me a coffee" button would have helped offset the cost, but so far no one has donated. So its back to free hosting. The projects spinsbykilz.com url will be replaced by spins.tuxfamily.org.

1/14/24
The 23.1.3 Manjaro series is in progress. LXQt is uploading now.

12/16/23
This is going to be a long post, and its reason may never be reveled, but its important to understand the past to choose the future. Please read it all.
 I have been using Linux a long time. In the early part of my journey I spent a log time using Ubuntu. In those days the 32bit version was promoted over the 64bit version. At that point the 64bit version was not multiarch. The problem was at the time a few important pieces of software were only 32bit, some of them were browser plugins that only worked with the 32bit browser. I wanted to use the 64bit version, but with a 32bit browser and plugins. The OS at its core could do this, but multiarch support, while promised, went a few years with no results. So I wrote a script that downloaded 32bit packages and setup a 32bit browser and plugins along with all the libraries they needed. It was one of the most popular threads on the forum, and my posts were one of the highest there helping other users.
Finally 64bit became multiarch, but it had taken years, and about that time Ubuntu introduced Unity. Unity was a huge misnomer. People, thinking their opinions mattered posted against the change to Unity. Posts against Unity started to be deleted, and users were eventually banned for posting them. I had 6k posts at the time and one of my posts against Unity was edited by a mod to remove some of the criticisms.
I questioned it in a private message and was told that criticizing the OS direction would not be allowed. I left that very day and never went back to Ubuntu. Choosing whats allowed to be said was just to much. I gave my help freely and there were others distributions that valued what people had to say. I helped out where I could over the years going to Debian and others before landing with Manjaro.
The lesson is freely expressing yourself is important. If a projects steps on that, find one that allows you to express yourself.
 
12/15/23

Two days after I started the 23.1.0.1 series when a stable update was released, a stable update gets released. This one has security updates. Its a no brainer to to just rebuild the 2 desktops already built.

Rebuilding the two that were done was fast and I am uploading the new iso's as I write this. It just took a few hours to do and was worth it to me.

12/13/23
I wasnt planing on building a Manjaro series until later in the month. Its only been 15 days or so since the last one finished. But I delayed that one, so it was later than usual. Then the holidays are at the end of the month. There might not be an update then, and I would rather have that time for family, church, and friends. Since I finished the themes yesterday now is as good a time as any. It will be  a point release, 23.1.0.1.

12/1/23
I  will start building the Debian 12/23 series tomorrow. All the themes are ready and the packages built and uploaded. But its been a hectic day and a pour of Wild Turkey Rare Breed is in front of me. Time to relax a little.

11/21/23
The next Manjaro stable update was today. I have started on the 23.1.0 release series. I am really enjoying the performance benefit I got by spending $23 last month to upgrade the build server/nas. The builds finish about 15 minutes faster.

11/15/23
Life sometimes gets in the way of fun. I am real busy taking care of my family and taking them and myself to appointments right now. So I took a break on the Manjaro release cycle until the next stable update. I still have a little time here and there like this morning. I cleaned up the left hand menu of the website, put the Buy me a coffee button back, and added a Sourceforge achievement badge.

11/2/23
I just posted the release announcement of SbK Debian Cinnamon 1123. Its a great release. To me the Debian releases seem faster and the iso's are about 200mb smaller on average. Whats amazing with that is they have larger software packages like the Waterfox browser.
Talking Mate for Debian, the next release, also has a big advantage, the screen reader works with the calamares installer. I have tried and tried to port the obvious changes to Manjaro but they dont work there.
11/23 is looking to be a great release. Then I will take a small break while waiting on Manjaro to make a stable update.

10/26/23
While updating some of the websites pages to add Debian info I noticed inconsistency with the websites theme. That was a rabbit hole I fell into and ended up redoing the website template and transferring all the pages to the new theme. It still has the basic concept of the old theme, but when going from one page to another the layout of a page stays closer to all the other.
 
10/24/23
With a nice new https url that shows the projects domain and the hosting for the site figured out I am slowly going through the pages. The 11/23 Debian spins are still a few days away from the final builds so now seemed like a good time to edit pages. My left  hand is still messed up so the typing is hard and slow. But a lot of the pages are Manjaro specific. Since Debian spins were added, sections of the pages that deal with a specific distribution base need to be defined. Hopefully it wont take long.

10/21/23
While I know a little about websites and hosting, I am not an expert. But the main host for the website has been down a week so I splurged and upgraded my build server/nas with a core 2 quad and an extra 4gb of ram for $23 on eBay. I then installed Apache and had the site up in no time. Next came a https certificate. Everything looked good when I installed the cert, but the site wouldnt come up.  I proceeded to pound my head into a wall for two days trying to make it work. Searching and reading, trying anything that was suggested.

Turns out my router wasnt setup correctly.

Well at least I now know way more about setting up https software than I ever wanted to. The benefit is that the site is now working at https://spinsbykilz.com and is nice and fast with no warnings.

10/19/23
I have most of the work for the Debian 11/23 series done. I took a little time today to update the About page. Next month the project will be 4 years old.

10/15/23
Just after posting the release of Xfce-Compiz for Manjaro Tuxfamily, the main host for the project, went down. I was prepared this time and tried hosting thee site and repo myself, it was a disaster. Slow and full of connection errors. But its to be expected from a AthalonXP (i386) that I had available. Yes the project runs on ancient hardware. The best is a FX-6300 system, my main computer. The build server/nas is a Dell 380 with a core 2 duo. I had hoped some kind soul would have donated to help me replace them with something a little newer, but so far a total of $0 has been donated.
Dont get me wrong, I build the spins as a labor of love. But a little help wouldnt hurt. Paid hosting and upgrading to more modern hardware (Zen 1, 2 or 3) are the end goals of asking for donations. Sadly being disabled and on a fixed income it wont happen without help.

10/03/23
Im in the middle of the Debian 10/23 series and had a little time. I updated the websites theme pages adding a Debian page for full themes.
I pinched a nerve in my back that affects my right hand. ts getting better slowly, but my left pinky and ring finger are useless right now. Typing is hard without them so I may be a little slow getting things out.

9/24/23
I am working on the Debian 10/23 series.  While I wasnt planing on adding another desktop after finishing the 9/23 series, I thought Talking Mate should also be a Debian spin. It has a special place in my heart as my wife needs visual accessibility in a desktop.
Adding Talking Mate to Debian was not easy and required a new setup. While it took some time it was well spent as it will help the Manjaro version. I have gotten at least some screen reader functionality with  the Calamares installer.
The change in setup also makes it eary to disable the screen reader if someone just wants the Mate desktop. This will also be useful if someone who doesnt need a screen reader wants to use the computer. All thats needed is setting up another login and disabling it for that account.

9/10/23
The Debian 923 series finished a few days ago, and I am now building the Manjaro 23.0.1 series.

9/4/23
I am uploading the first of the Debian 9/23 series, Cinnamon. The other two will follow over the next two days.

8/28/23
Its been a productive week. On the Debian side Cinnamon and Xfce-Compiz were added. This took a lot of scripting to the eznix build platform to have multiple profiles available,  and pull and replace files in the setup depending on the profile.
A few generators were created to build and make the common packages, and one to update the profiles for the various iso's for a series.
It took some time to setup, but in the long run it will free up time to improve the spins. An example, it took about 6 hours to make the 11 package folders, create the packages, and test them for the 923 series. The generator does it in about 3 minutes.
Everything looks on track for the Debian 923 series to be out the first week in September. I also have a head start on the wallpaper and themes for the next Manjaro and Debian series. After release its time to relax and od on Hearthstone for a few days.

8/23/23
I have been working on the 9/23 Debian series. Xfce-Compiz was so easy I figured I would get a start on Cinnamon because there is a dock and a panel iso. Even if it wasnt done for 9/23 I thought the work would make it easier to add it for 10/23. The good news is that Cinnamon is coming along nicely. There are still a few things left to do, but it will be ready for the 9/23 series.
LXQt, Xfce-Compiz, and Cinnamon will be the lineup for the near future.  For the 10/23 series I will be looking at the included software lists to see if I can improve it.

8/17/23
The Manjaro 23.0.0.2 series is almost done. Only Cinnamon is left, and its built and being tested. It should be released on 8/18/23.
I have built the first Debian Xfce-Compiz iso. It still needs some work but it should be ready for the Debian 923 release.  A huge thank you to Donald Norwood. He answered an email to the Debian Forums and said it was ok to post about the Debian spins there.

8/8/23
I am uploading the 8/23 Debian release as I write this. I was able to do the scripting to make a minimal iso. That will put me ahead for next month when I plan on adding a desktop to the Debian side of the project. I am still thinking about it. The choices are Mate-Compiz or Xfce-Compiz. Cinnamon has an outside chance, but its going to be more work. Gnome will be last if its added at all.
I did create my first little application. Its an update script for the update notifier. It will open a terminal, ask for your password, then update and upgrade. It will stay open a few minutes in case there are any errors so they can be copied into a txt file for troubleshooting purposes. Not much, but the other option was bloated and added a lot of files. For a lightweight desktop like LXQT, its good.

8/6/23
Its been some time since the last update. The 23.0.0.1 Manjaro series was finished about two weeks ago and I started on the Debian spin. Since I couldnt make a Pantheon spin, I had an extra theme already made. I used it for the upcoming August Debian spin that should be released in the next week.
The Debian side of the project took some big steps since the initial release. Its now multiarch, has a timeshift autosnap, the SbK Debian repository is up, and lots of graphics have been made for its parts.  The build script is also pretty well set for a full LXQt iso.
The September release will see a minimal iso release and possibly another desktop. Thats going to take a lot of scripting to accomplish so it wont make the August release.

7/19/23
The repository and web host are back up. I am working on the 23.0.0.1 series. OSDN is still down, but Sourceforge is a good for a download host. I am keeping all the backup sites updated in case one of the main hosts goes down in the future. Please, if you can, help support this project with the "Buy me a coffee" button.

7/17/23
Its been a frustrating week for the most part, but at least one bright spot. The frustrating part is that the website, repository, and release hosts all went down. There is no timetable for them to return. I got a free web host for the website and resurrected the old Sourceforge site that had not been used in a year. So the project is back online, but the repository on Sourceforge is slow and sometimes errors out. I will move back to the hosts I was using when they are up. The Sourceforge site will be kept up to date as a backup from now on.
The bright spot worth mentioning here is that the first Debian spin was built and released. I spent a long time in the Debian community at large. It feels good to give something back. You can check it out here if you want.

7/4/23
I have added a "Buy me a coffee" button to the website. If you would like to help support my work you can click on the button. At present the plans for any funds raised will be used for paying for the domain the project uses. Additional money raised will likely be saved to upgrade the ancient computers the project uses before they die.
Thanks in advance for any donations.

6/24/23
I have uploaded the new website theme. I hope everyone likes it.

6/22/23 With all the work that went into the last series on the theme generators I find I have a little extra time on my hands. While I am typing this I am looking at the dated website I created in the early days. It works and info is easy to find, but its far from my best work.
That being said I have been working on a website refresh. Not sure when it will be done, but the early test page has progressed to a point it is the clear path forward. A little more work and maybe it will be ready for the launch of the next series.

5/7/23 An update was released, so the next series (22.1.1) is being built. There is a new LTS kernel 6.1. I expect the LXQt spin will be released Monday.

4/30/23 All the themes and wallpapers are ready. A release should happen with the next big Manjaro stable update. Until then I will take some time and polish a few things.

4/21/23 If there was one piece of advice I would give to someone working with css or some other code they do not know like the back of their hand, its backup often. After two days of hard work I had the full theme generator 98% complete. I forgot to back it up. I made some changes to get that last two percent done. That didnt happen,  I fubar'd the gtk 3.0 and 4.0 templates up. I thought I had a current backup, but it was more than a day old. So back to work I went, backing up after each little area I worked on. Two days later its all done.
The project now has a complete theme generator instead of five separate ones. This is going to make the theme very consistent, and save a lot of time. The next release series will use themes from the generator, and I am sure there will be bugs that need to be fixed. But I am also sure I will backup as much as possible, at least until a month goes by and I start some other project. :)

4/17/23 The new Gnome shell theme is pretty much done. There are a few tiny things I would like to change, but its nice as it is. The advantage is that all themes from this point on will include a gnome shell theme. I am thinking of making this an all in one generator. It will take a little work, but it should be doable.

4/16/23 I have spent a few days working on a new gtk theme generator script.  Its based on Otis, but has had extensive changes including a complete recreation of the gtk asset icons. The css is also modified. Its looking real good. One advantage is that Otis also has a Gnome Shell theme, something I wanted to address at some point. Well no time like the present. I already have the shell icons I need modified for the script. Next is the css.

4/11/23 The 22.1.0 series is complete. It turned out to be very nice, and as a total might be the best series of the past few. But I think it can be better. One area I am not happy with is the gtk theme. Specifically the dotted outlines in some situations. I will be looking into alternatives for the next series.

3/31/23 The big update I was waiting for happened today. I have started work on the 22.1.0 series. The packages for it are uploaded. I had to do a little work on the build scripts, but everything looks to be ok now. I expect to have LXQt up tomorrow, and the rest will follow.

3/11/23 The last big update was to close to the last release series, so I put it off for one more. Everything is ready, so the next series will come right after the next big update.

1/26/23 I have uploaded the first of the 22.0.1 series. The rest is going slow. I may get out Mate-Compiz today, but it will take some luck. If not the rest of the series should be out daily after today.

9/29/22 I have a lot of spare time so I went looking for things to fix. In September of 2021 the project moved to a new repository. For a long time the old repository was left as it was and it was more or less forgotten. In June of this year I was forced to pretty much empty it because of limited hosting space. That brings us to today, I have created a symlink linking the old repository to the new repository. I am not sure how many people are still running the old spins, but they will need to add the new repository key to access the files, instructions are found here.

9/27/22 The 22.0.0 series has been done for a few days. My foot is getting better and while it is healing it gave me time to finish the preparations for the next series. It also gave me time to sit and think about what needs to be done. One area of need was a way to backup the build server, the repository and the theme creation setup. A day of scripting fixed that and I can now backup everything with a command. While it doesnt improve the spins it does make sure that if something would happen to a hard drive it would be easier to restore it from archives stored in the cloud.  Otherwise years of work could be lost, and its a real possibility with my ancient hardware.

9/19/22 Just when things are going good, life takes a turn. I was mowing my backyard, in a house I have owned for over 20 years. I must have walked on every part of that yard, or so I thought. I stepped on a big rusty crusty nail that went into my foot. I cleaned it out, put antibiotic ointment on it. The next morning my foot swelled up, I went to the emergency room.
I spent over a week in the hospital, had surgery, and now have a nifty hole in my foot than needs to heal. I have been out now a few days and I am working on the 22.0.0 release that Manjaro released during my hospital stay. Its going slow, but I am half way done. I hope you like that new Pantheon spin.

8/28/22 A few days after stopping work on the Enlightenment spin I tried Pantheon. It has gone a lot better. Most of the work was theme and package selection related. The only real bug is I ran into was getting the live environment to auto sign in. Along with its release, likely in the next release cycle, will be a Pantheon specific theme that may work with other desktops, but I havent tested it yet. Still some scripting work to do to fit the desktop into my build/packaging setup, it should be easy but time consuming.

8/22/22 After pounding my head against a wall for a day trying to change the default file manager in Enlightenment, I am shelving this build for a bit.  The file manager that is part of Enlightenment is just bad. I was considering Caja or Nemo, but after trying a lot of ways to do it, it still wont start them by default.

8/21/22 The 21.3.7 series is done and I'm a little bored. I have some of the theming done, and the rest wont take to long, and a month until I will likely release the next series. I have been looking at Enlightenment as a possible desktop to spin. I have created a buildiso profile and an iso. The iso boots to the desktop, and installs. But there is a lot of work to do. I'm not sure when it will be ready, or if it will ever be released. But its a start.

7/18/22 The 21.3.4 update dropped this morning. Its only been 21 days since Manjaro was updated to the 21.3.1 series, but I am going to create the SbK 21.3.4 series. Updates to stable have been over a month at times in the past. If the next update takes that long there would to much time between releases. I have all the packages created and uploaded and I will start making the iso's soon.

7/9/2022 I went ahead with spinning the Kora icon set. I created a color change script and created the base package (KoraSpinBase). The base package is in the SbK repository, but it only has grey folders. Kora will not be in the next release because the icons for it are already done, but they will be in the one after that.

7/7/2022 I am getting a little bit bored at the moment. So I am looking for ways to improve the spins. FlatRemix icons are nice, but the appeal they once had is swiftly fading. I have been looking at the Kora icon set. There is a good chance I may Spin it. It likely wont appear for two releases if I do.

6/22/2022  I think I misunderstood what was said on a update post on the Manjaro forum. I thought that the 22.0 series was next, and Manjaro did not update the lsb-release package that shows the release version. So I named the last SbK series 22.1.b. Then Manjaro released 21.3 after the SbK 22.1.b series was released. In the future I will not advance the series number if that happens again, instead I will create a point release.
 At present all the theming is done for the next series. Its likely to be 21.4 or 21.5 with the release coming after the next stable update. I will delete the 22.1.b iso's from OSDN site once the next release is posted since the numbering will be off.
  Earlier this week I did some repository maintenance. I removed some ancient packages from a very old repository on OSDN. I created some empty package databases and uploaded them to OSDN so any users that still have not moved to the new repository will not get any errors.