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#1 2009-07-02 15:52:47

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

[Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

System is a Debian Lenny Xfce system (fully updated) using network-config to help me switch easily among a number of different wired networks, all with fixed IP addresses.

I decided to experiment a little. I edited /etc/network/interfaces, reverting it to the supposed "default" setting. I expected some issues with networking. What I didn't expect was to see the window title bars and window borders disappear. Keyboard shortcuts were somewhat affected. I was able to use all applets within the Xfce Settings Manager except for "Window Manager" and "Window Manager Tweaks". Both of these applets simply gave me an error dialog when I tried to launch them. The dialog state that "these settings not compatible with window manager (unknown)" -- or something to that effect.

The thing that puzzles me is that I reinstated my original /etc/network/interfaces file, and that had no effect whatsoever on this problem. I logged onto an alternate standard user account, and it appeared normal.

I did not pursue research on the issue at the time because I needed the laptop to be fully functional within a couple of hours. I resorted to a full reinstallation, easily resulting in a fully functional system within a couple of hours.

I'm not asking anyone to diagnose this for me. I'm asking for a pointer in the direction of any documentation that might elucidate any possible connection between the /etc/network/interfaces file and the behavior of the desktop environment. I can't, for the life of me, find anything that would lead me to believe that screwing around with the network configuration should cause my windows to go wacko -- and then stay that way when the network configuration was corrected.

Could someone put me on the scent? I'd like to work on this now that I have a little time. I'm interested in knowing:

a) how the network configuration did this to Xfce, and
b) where I should have gone on the system to right the wrong I had done.

Thanks.

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#2 2009-07-03 05:37:42

Avinash.Rao
Member
Registered: 2009-06-28
Posts: 21

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

What changes do you make to /etc/interfaces file?

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#3 2009-07-03 11:15:38

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

I just changed this

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
allow-hotplug eth0
iface eth0 inet static
    address 192.168.1.100
    netmask 255.255.255.0
    network 192.168.1.0
    broadcast 192.168.1.255
    gateway 192.168.1.1
    # dns-* options are implemented by the resolvconf package, if installed
    dns-nameservers 208.67.222.222 208.67.220.220

to this

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

I wasn't trying to accomplish anything except to see what would this change would do to the network-config package's ability to control the network configuration of the laptop. I expected (or at least allowed for) adverse effects on network configuration. But putting the original interfaces file back in place did not restore the desktop environment's proper behavior.

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#4 2009-07-04 02:13:17

Avinash.Rao
Member
Registered: 2009-06-28
Posts: 21

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Hi,

I have no idea how this could affect your desktop environment.
After you changed your interfaces file, did you check your network configuration, i mean did it get an IP?
To figure this out, Why don't you make the same change you made using the ifconfig command instead of editing the /etc/interfaces file directly and check if your desktop is ok.

This reminds me of a problem i had with Windows many years back. If the network was not configured properly, for instance, if it was configured for DHCP or if it was looking for a domain, and when I logged in, the OS would be searching the network for IP or the domain and wouldn't show the desktop until it gets an IP or whatever. After many tweaks, i removed the network cable and the machine would login without any problem.

This may not be the same in your case, just thought i will share it. Guess you can report this in Launchpad.net

Regards,
Avinash

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#5 2009-07-04 05:54:06

Pindakoe
Member
From: NL
Registered: 2003-11-26
Posts: 110

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

I do not quite see how a change in networking can have such an effect (unless your home would be on a share which you access via networking). Just one other suggestion should this happen again: the problem appeared to be user related, i.e. other users did not have the problem. A faster work-around probably would have been to delete your own userID, rename /home/username to something else, create a new user with same name, UID and GID and then copy over the userdata from /home/username to your new name

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#6 2009-07-04 12:05:28

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Avinash.Rao wrote:

Hi,

I have no idea how this could affect your desktop environment.
After you changed your interfaces file, did you check your network configuration, i mean did it get an IP?
To figure this out, Why don't you make the same change you made using the ifconfig command instead of editing the /etc/interfaces file directly and check if your desktop is ok.

This reminds me of a problem i had with Windows many years back. If the network was not configured properly, for instance, if it was configured for DHCP or if it was looking for a domain, and when I logged in, the OS would be searching the network for IP or the domain and wouldn't show the desktop until it gets an IP or whatever. After many tweaks, i removed the network cable and the machine would login without any problem.

This may not be the same in your case, just thought i will share it. Guess you can report this in Launchpad.net

Regards,
Avinash

The system was initially configured with a manually set IP during the installation process using a netinst image and wired network connection. I have not installed the proprietary wireless firmware, so the system uses only the wired eth0 connection. As I said, restoring the original interfaces file (or using one with a different manually set IP address / broadcast / gateway / nameservers did nothing to restore proper desktop behavior. I realized that the network interface wasn't going to get all of the data it needed when I tried the experiment. I was just trying to find out just what network-config provided. Apparently, it just uses ifconfig. Anyway, I lost interest in the network settings research when my desktop started having problems. The desktop was still usable, but not conveniently so.

Thanks for your interest. I will probably experiment with this on a more "disposable" system later this weekend to see if I can duplicate the problem and correct it.

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#7 2009-07-04 12:15:02

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Pindakoe wrote:

I do not quite see how a change in networking can have such an effect (unless your home would be on a share which you access via networking). Just one other suggestion should this happen again: the problem appeared to be user related, i.e. other users did not have the problem. A faster work-around probably would have been to delete your own userID, rename /home/username to something else, create a new user with same name, UID and GID and then copy over the userdata from /home/username to your new name

Yes, that was exactly what I was thinking. How on earth could the DE be affected in this way by a change in network settings? No, my home directories aren't on a network location.

Yes, the problem was definitely affecting only the primary standard user profile. I started to just re-create the profile -- but I had a nice, shiny, newly-burned Debian Lenny 5.02 netinst disc (just released a couple of days ago). Since I'm new to Linux and am trying to learn about it I would normally have tried to find the exact location of the configuration issue so I could fix it. Replacing the user profile would have been my second choice, and doing a full re-install would have been my last choice (normally).

I intend to attempt to duplicate the problem on a different system later this weekend. If I learn what was going on, I'll post it here in this thread.

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#8 2009-07-04 20:00:10

s0ulslack
Moderator
From: Idaho
Registered: 2005-12-25
Posts: 291

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

It sounds like xfwm4 died, open a terminal and check (ps ax | grep xfwm4), if so manually run "xfwm4 --replace" (Alt+F2 should bring up the Xfce Run window)

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#9 2009-07-04 20:27:43

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

s0ulslack wrote:

It sounds like xfwm4 died, open a terminal and check (ps ax | grep xfwm4), if so manually run "xfwm4 --replace" (Alt+F2 should bring up the Xfce Run window)

Yep, I really need to actually learn something about Xfce instead of just using and enjoying it. The error message I was seeing mentioned an "unknown window manager". It was really dumb of me not to realize that the message might have meant simply that the window manager wasn't running.

I haven't had time yet to do any testing to try to duplicate the problem, and it may not happen at all this weekend. Kids and grandkids want to do stuff. But when I get around to testing I'm going to remember your suggestion. If I am able to duplicate the problem I'm still going to be very interested in learning why fussing around with the network settings would cause the window manager to become disabled. I have changed the way the network settings are managed on the system by using network-config, so I suppose it's possible that the problem stems from that.

And, at some point, I've got to just do some reading about Xfce so that I actually know the names of the modules. I use Alt+F2 for starting most software, but just haven't got around to learning much about Xfce -- other than the fact that I really like it. A lot.

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#10 2009-07-05 04:29:20

s0ulslack
Moderator
From: Idaho
Registered: 2005-12-25
Posts: 291

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Probably just died and your Session was saved, for whatever reason.  Probably not even related, don't see any reason network configuration would play with it (especially xfwm).

Ask away, the ppl here and on irc (irc.freenode.net in #xfce) are knowledgeable smile

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#11 2009-07-05 12:35:13

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

s0ulslack wrote:

Probably just died and your Session was saved, for whatever reason.  Probably not even related, don't see any reason network configuration would play with it (especially xfwm).

I guess I just had too many other things (project at work) buzzing around in my head when the failure occurred. I keep forgetting about sessions being saved. There's no excuse for my forgetting that because I've been bitten by this feature before -- and figured it out on my own that time. (I had the panel fail and was surprised to not see it come after I logged out and logged on. Typical Windows user response.) But now that you mention it, this makes sense. All I would have had to do was restart the window manager (as suggested before) and log out, thus saving the session with the wm configured to run.

Come to think of it, maybe it would just make sense for me to turn off automatic session saving once I've got things configured the way I want them. Can you think of any real disadvantage to doing so?

Ask away, the ppl here and on irc (irc.freenode.net in #xfce) are knowledgeable smile

Yes they are. But before I post 500 questions about "how stuff works" I'm going to be doing some man page and wiki reading.

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#12 2009-07-05 14:10:25

Avinash.Rao
Member
Registered: 2009-06-28
Posts: 21

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Good Luck!  ;D

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#13 2009-07-05 21:08:35

s0ulslack
Moderator
From: Idaho
Registered: 2005-12-25
Posts: 291

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

I rarely change my saved session smile

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#14 2009-07-06 02:13:41

Avinash.Rao
Member
Registered: 2009-06-28
Posts: 21

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Another thing i have notice in my Xubuntu running on my laptop is that, when i log in, few applications that i have used last time open automatically. And I am sure that I have closed these applications when i used them last time.

I don't understand how these windows come up?

Avinash

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#15 2009-07-06 04:33:50

s0ulslack
Moderator
From: Idaho
Registered: 2005-12-25
Posts: 291

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

Avinash.Rao, please start a new thread smile

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#16 2009-07-11 01:05:17

Snood
Member
Registered: 2009-05-02
Posts: 56

Re: [Solved] Links Between /etc/network interfaces and Desktop Environment Features

I haven't had any luck duplicating the problem, so I suppose the WM simply failed coincidentally at the same time that I made the changes to /etc/network/interfaces, and then the session got saved that way when I logged out. I've seen occasional weird stuff like this (user interface related) on that system. It's the only one of these systems that has an nVidia graphics card (Quadro). Desktop compositing (with the Open Source driver) is pretty bad on that system, so I have to leave it switched off. Compositing on the other systems, which have ATI or Intel video subsystems, works extremely well and quickly.

I wonder if the nVidia graphics is the problem. I may never know. The problems with graphical user interfaces on this system have happened in GNOME, IceWM, LXDE, Fluxbox, and Xfce. They are always inconsistent in nature, being hard to reproduce (except for poor compositing behavior). It's almost certainly not bad software, per se, since the motherboard and video subsystem have been replaced, once and twice, respectively, with no apparent change in the behaviors.

I'm going to consider this issue "solved".

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