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Tuning Lubuntu 16.04 Xenial for a 2008 Macbook

I just installed Lubuntu (LXDE-based Ubuntu) on a 2008 white plastic Macbook, and stuff didn’t work properly out of the box. Here is how I got Lubuntu working better on my Mac.


This was the first and worst problem. The touchpad wasn’t disabled when typing, and it was too sensitive. Solution: edit ~/.config/lxsession/Lubuntu/autostart and add the following lines:

syndaemon -d -t
synclient PalmDetect=1
synclient FingerLow=38
synclient FingerHigh=44

Note that you may want to tune FingerLow and FingerHigh. From the synaptics ‘synclient’ man page:

Option "FingerLow" "integer"
       When finger pressure drops below this value, the  driver  counts
       it as a release. Property: "Synaptics Finger"

Option "FingerHigh" "integer"
       When finger pressure goes above this value, the driver counts it
       as a touch. Property: "Synaptics Finger"

Adjust the numbers to your liking; FingerLow=38 / FingerHigh=44 is perfect for my Macbook, but you may want something different.

You’ll need to either restart your session or maybe reboot for these settings to take effect.

General System Tuning

Some of these tips are from “10 things to do first in Lubuntu 16.04,” which is a great in-depth post. I’ve streamlined the instructions here, and it should be noted my Macbook has an SSD. So this is tuned for a machine with 3GB RAM and an SSD.

Reduce swappiness

I’m taking it on faith that you want low swappiness with low RAM, so, edit /etc/sysctl.conf and add: vm.swappiness=20 and reboot.

Applications on Lubuntu

Lubuntu is nice and lean, but you may want more than just the default applications. Here is what I use.

Install Chromium and a couple extensions

For Reasons, I prefer Chromium to Firefox, despite Google’s data mining.

My main tips: install uBlock Origin as your ad blocker (it’s memory-efficient, which matters on old machines), and install Privacy Badger, because it’s also memory-efficient and can block threats which are not yet filtered by uBlock Origin.

If you’re concerned with privacy, it doesn’t hurt to install HTTPS Everywhere.

Install minimal Libreoffice

For the office-y tasks I do, I need at least Writer and Calc. I gotta say, the default word processor (Abiword) managed to handle basic tasks without pissing me off at all, which is a high bar. But I need the more fully-loaded Libreoffice apps. Fortunately, you can keep it lean for Lubuntu.

sudo apt install libreoffice-writer libreoffice-calc libreoffice-gtk

The libreoffice-gtk package apparently improves integration with LXDE.

Next, turn off some bloat (I dunno what bloat, but I’ll take it on faith) in Libreoffice by disabling Java features:

Fire up Libreoffice Writer, click the Tools menu, click Options…

Under LibreOffice > Advanced, uncheck “Use a Java runtime environment.”


I’ll update this post as I have to fix more out-of-the-box settings.


If ya gotta: making events with Magento’s Event / Observer model

Magento. ugh.

Here are some links about programming Event Observers in Magento. Hopefully somebody will find them useful:

Here’s a mix of things Magento:

And here’s a payware debugger extension that is well worth the license cost:


“…rather advanced, but still first stage global dementia, most probably of the Alzheimer’s type.”

There’s a moment laying awake at night, I suspect, for everybody looking out for a relative with dementia.  A moment where you just have to let it grip you, the horrifying realization of it.  The person is still your loved one.  But whatever they’ve lost – and it’s part of what makes them human, makes them who they are – it’s gone.  And it’s not ever coming back.

And what do you do?  Well, you have to get up the next day and see that the next thing gets done, the next step gets taken, in addition to running your own life, which I’m coming to realize for many people is still plenty challenging in their mid 30s, mid 40s.  But man, for me at least, it makes me think about my own life.  Consider my options.  I’ve seen a lot of un-unseeable things, having been on the Internet for about 20 years, but the one thing that kept me up for weeks, stomach churning, was a deep spelunk one night into the history of the frontal lobotomy.

The mind is a whole patched together from a lot of pieces.  Somebody with dementia is losing those pieces, which affects other pieces, like a patchwork quilt starting to come apart.  But their identity is still there, at least in the early to middle stages.  And they’re still fucking fully human, despite losing some of what sets us apart from animals.  And thinking of people wandering around just … missing something … it’s gut-wrenching to me.

My dad does great on the test of drawing analog clocks.  He can draw clocks fine.  But he can’t put the hands in the right places to show a specific time.  The dementia specialist who assessed him says this is a fallback to “concrete visual reasoning.”  In other words, the stage that an eight year old would be almost ready to surpass.

He can’t navigate a supermarket.

I watched him take five minutes to write a check to the patient bank teller for cash.  He had plenty of prompting.

But he still pets his cat and calls her disparaging names out of pure love, just like I do with mine.  And he still thinks the housekeeper isn’t very bright.

It makes you consider what you’re doing with your life, and it ain’t easy.