Hello all this is my first real development update since the whirlwind of releasing Chromixium 1.0. Apologies for the lengthy post but it is well worth a read!
It’s been an amazing month, where downloads have gone through the roof (about 40,000), we’ve been officially listed on Distrowatch and mentioned on numerous blogs and video channels. It wasn’t the easiest of starts and I very quickly had to upload a new hybrid ISO to combat some problems that early downloaders were having transferring the ISO to a bootable USB stick. I believe this issue is now resolved. Chromixium now supports creation of a live USB using dd from the command line, using Unetbootin with persistence, or using Rufus or Win32diskimager in Windows.
The forums have started to become busy and a fledgling community is starting to appear. If you’ve not introduced yourself there yet, please have a lurk and consider joining. I am answering the majority of issues within 24 hours, but I would love it if fellow Chromixers could chip in too 🙂
One of the benefits of all the downloads is the increased volume of feedback from users. I’ve had a couple of issues come across loud and clear that users want fixing and a couple of popular requests. Let’s deal with the issues first…
1. Screen Tearing in Chromium
A number of users have reported screen tearing in Chromium. Basically, when the Chromium browser window (or app windows such as YouTube, Gmail and Drive) are minimized, they don’t re-appear properly when restored. The window ‘tears’, basically it doesn’t render properly. Pressing F5 (refresh) brings it back.
So why does this happen? I narrowed down the source of the problem to the way in which Chromium interacts with Compton (the window compositor that Chromixium uses for transparency effects). After some very useful discussion on the Compton GitHub site, an initial fix was recommended. I posted this on G+ and it worked in my initial tests in Virtualbox. However, the bug was still apparent on real Intel hardware (and possibly other video cards). In fact it appears, it is specifically a problem with the version of the xorg driver used in Ubuntu (Chromixium’s base system). Luckily Ubuntu have released an updated hardware stack for the 14.04 LTS release and installing this does fix the issue for good. So, for any of you still experiencing this issue, upgrade the hardware stack as follows:
a) Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T
b) Type or paste in these commands:
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends linux-generic-lts-utopic xserver-xorg-lts-utopic libgl1-mesa-glx-lts-utopic libegl1-mesa-drivers-lts-utopic
c) Enter your password and the updates will be downloaded and installed
d) Reboot to complete the process.
2. Slow applications menu generation
This is not a bug, but it is certainly ‘bugging’ a lot of people. Depending upon the speed of your hardware, you might have to wait anywhere between 2 and 7 seconds before the Applications menu will appear from the right-click desktop menu. The reason for this is that the Chromixium icon theme is mainly 512px high quality vector graphic files. This means that the menu icons are nice and crisp but since the menu is generated ‘on the fly’ it does take a bit of processing power and hence the lag.
I have been looking at alternative openbox menu generators, but none of them implement the XDG menu specification as good as the one already in use. After lots of trial and error, the solution is to reduce that processing overhead by shrinking the icons to 22×22 pixels. I am working on this right now, trying to get the trade-off between file size and quality, and will post an updated icon theme in due course. In the meantime, I put some instructions on the Wiki on how you can remove the icons altogether for an instant menu generation, or add a more conventional left-click menu to the panel or dock.
In the next week or two I will be rolling up these and other fixes and improvements into a new ISO. If you don’t want to go through another install, then I will put all the information in one place on the Wiki on how you can update your existing Chromixium 1.0 installation. If possible, I will try and script it and release it as a service pack download.
Apart from the issues posted above, the main request that I have received, almost daily has been a request for a 64 bit version. You can all be rest-assured that this is in very active development! I have gone back to the drawing board as well, with the build process and sticking much more rigidly to the Ubuntu build process. As a result the 64 bit version should support UEFI boot, booting the ISO directly from Grub and even more importantly, it will feature the standard Ubuntu Ubiquity installer – probably the second most requested feature! There is no set timetable, but I am close to being able to upload a Release Candidate, within weeks rather than months!
It’s very exiting times for the project. There’s much to do but it will get done. Thanks to everyone who has donated, provided positive feedback or gone to the effort of helping a fellow user. I am Chromixium 😀