CentOS 8 desktop perfection - the sequel

Updated: April 18, 2020

It's time for another article in my years-long CentOS pimpification series. We started this with CentOS 6 back in the day, continued with CentOS 7, and recently, I've also shown you how to transform the relatively dull yet fully functional server distro AKA CentOS 8 into a nice and fun desktop. We did many a cool task, but there's more to be done.

So I set about polishing the desktop some extra, adding new software, making fresh changes, testing every which option in order to discover the corner cases and resolve them. It mostly went well, but then, a few things didn't. Which means, for the first time, we will have an imperfect desktop. I wasn't expecting this, but I guess that's part of this ongoing adventure. Let's commence.

Teaser

NTFS permissions

I tried to mount some internal Windows volumes - formatted with NTFS naturally. No go. I realized that I had to install the right libraries. Basically, this is what's missing:

sudo dnf install ntfs-3g ntfsprogs

Now, if you also need to be able to read compressed files (not sure if anyone uses this in Windows), then:

sudo dnf install ntfs-3g-system-compression

Opera browser

In the first article, we install Chrome, in addition to Firefox. If you want Opera, it can be done. Now, you do need to configure the right repository - the official page only has the Deb package for download. The instructions for how to do so mention Fedora, but this will work in RHEL/CentOS 8, too:

sudo rpm --import https://rpm.opera.com/rpmrepo.key

Then, create the following file: /etc/yum.repos.d/opera.repo, and copy into it the following text:

[opera]
name=Opera packages
type=rpm-md
baseurl=https://rpm.opera.com/rpm
gpgcheck=1
gpgkey=https://rpm.opera.com/rpmrepo.key
enabled=1

Once you have the repo configured, you can install Opera, either stable or developer edition:

sudo dnf install opera-stable (or opera-developer)

Dependencies resolved.
==============================================================================
Package         Architecture    Version              Repository    Size
==============================================================================
Installing:
opera-stable    x86_64          67.0.3575.115-0      opera         62 M

Transaction Summary
==============================================================================
Install  1 Package

Total download size: 62 M
Installed size: 216 M
Is this ok [y/N]:

Opera installed

Vivaldi browser

You may decide Opera is not for you, and you prefer Vivaldi. Well, no problem. Again, a repo config. Here, you can do as we did earlier, or import the repo:

sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://repo.vivaldi.com/archive/vivaldi-fedora.repo

And again, you have the option to install different editions (stable or dev):

sudo dnf install vivaldi-stable

Vivaldi installed

Possible error: Duplicate repo configuration

After I configured Vivaldi, the next time I used dnf, I got an error that says:

Repository vivaldi is listed more than once in the configuration.

To see if this was indeed the case, I did a simple search for the string "vivaldi" in all my repo files:

grep vivaldi /etc/yum.repos.d/*
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi-fedora.repo:[vivaldi]
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi-fedora.repo:name=vivaldi
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi-fedora.repo:baseurl=https://repo.vivaldi.com/
archive/rpm/$basearch
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi-fedora.repo:gpgkey=https://repo.vivaldi.com/
archive/linux_signing_key.pub
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi.repo:[vivaldi]
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi.repo:name=vivaldi
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi.repo:baseurl=http://repo.vivaldi.com/archive/
rpm/x86_64
/etc/yum.repos.d/vivaldi.repo:gpgkey=http://repo.vivaldi.com/archive/
linux_signing_key.pub

Indeed, it seems that two repos were configured - you can delete the Fedora one.

Java setup

You may require Java (either 8 or 11). There's an official set of instructions for this, including a test case to see that you have indeed correctly configured your system:

sudo dnf install java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel

sudo dnf install java-11-openjdk-devel

Gnome Layout Switcher (no luck)

After I did my Manjaro 19 test, I felt enthused about testing the Layout Switcher tool, and CentOS 8 looked the right opportunity for this little game. Alas, things didn't work out quite as well as they could or should have. I did download the files from GitHub, ran the script ... and didn't get the layouts I needed. Some of the options simply logged me out without making any changes. Others only changed the icons. Loading a saved default configuration also didn't work - the icons from a different set were retained. So this needs more work.

GLM, run script

The restore to default did not fully work

Humanity icons from the Unity set remain - I expected Papirus back.

Global application menu (no luck)

I also thought trying a Unity-like layout with a global menu would be super nice, like I did in Plasma. And there's even a Gnome extension that does this. Alas, it has not been updated for Gnome 3.32, which CentOS 8 has, so this doesn't really work. I couldn't even install this, so I have nothing to show here.

LyX (no luck)

My favorite text processor in the whole world is LyX - and I did mention in the first article that it ain't around in the extra repos I configured. So I went around searching, and came up short. There's LyX in the CentOS 7 EPEL repo, but it requires Qt 4.X, which has been deprecated. There's also a version in Fedora 31 repo, but this one uses libraries that are too new. One more sad face.

- nothing provides libQtCore.so.4()(64bit) needed by lyx-2.2.3-1.el7.x86_64
- nothing provides libQtGui.so.4()(64bit) needed by lyx-2.2.3-1.el7.x86_64
- nothing provides libQtSvg.so.4()(64bit) needed by lyx-2.2.3-1.el7.x86_64

- nothing provides /usr/bin/dv2dt needed by lyx-2.3.3-2.fc31.x86_64
- nothing provides /usr/bin/dvipost needed by lyx-2.3.3-2.fc31.x86_64
- nothing provides libQt5Core.so.5(Qt_5.12) needed by lyx-2.3.3-2.fc31.x86_64
- nothing provides libhunspell-1.7.so.0() needed by lyx-2.3.3-2.fc31.x86_64
...

IrfanView

I really like IrfanView - it's my favorite image viewer in the whole world. It's a Windows application, but it also works really well in Linux, and whenever I have a chance, I grabbeth. Now, I did this using snaps, which also opens a range of other options before you, applications wise. Hint: I be affiliated with the snap effort, so if you smell bias, run away! But on a serious note, a nice little success after a few snags.

snap install irfanview

IrfanView

Conclusion

And this brings us to the end of this adventurous rollercoaster. Good stuff, bad stuff, good stuff again. Now, what worries is me is the newfound bipolar nature of the CentOS 8 desktop transformation. On one hand, some things are so much simpler, easier and faster than they were in the past editions of this distro. Significantly so. CentOS 8 is very modern, so there's none of that chasing the dinosaurs thing here. But on the other hands, lots of cool stuff is missing, or hasn't been added to the popular third-party repos, and I wonder why.

Has the distro waned in popularity - or the need for the extras? Do people use their computers differently now than they did when CentOS 6 or CentOS 7 came out? Perhaps the lack of cool software is a sign of the overall fatigue in the Linux space. Or something else entirely? All in all, you can accomplish a great deal in CentOS, and enjoy a lot of cool and fun things. Never forget this is essentially a server distro! But for the first time, I'm also sensing a great disturbance in the force, and there be negatory elements preventing me from having perfect fun. Well, I you find today's piece useful - and if you have any other asks, ask away. We're done.

Cheers.

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