How to fix KDE, LibreOffice, and dark themes in Kubuntu

I need to use a dark theme in KDE because I spend so much time on the computer that my eyes get tired of looking at whiteness all the time. I use a very dark theme to minimize the strain on my eyes. If you use LibreOffice and a theme such as Zvon Black, you may have found that your background is totally black and you cannot read documents. Here is the fix:

  1. Download this icons file called “”
  2. At the command line, run this command, altering to match your username and possibly your file location if you do not have it in /home/username/Downloads.

    sudo mv /usr/share/libreoffice/share/config/ /usr/share/libreoffice/share/config/
    sudo mv /home/username/Downloads/ /usr/share/
  3. Open LibreOffice. Tools –> Options –> View –> Change “Oxygen” [or whatever other theme you’re using] to “Crystal”. Go to Colors after View. Change the background color to white and the font color to black.

I took several sets of instructions from several sources, updated them, and created a simplified howto here.

Thanks to:

Lenovo Z570 phy0 hard blocked solution

If you’ve had issues with wireless being grayed out and you’re unable to enable it on your Lenovo Z570 or any other box, there is a simple solution. You must reset your bios.

There’s an oddity in the bios for Lenovo Z570 machines; even after unblocking all interfaces, you can still see that phy0 is hard blocked, like below:

0: ideapad_wlan: Wireless LAN
Soft blocked: no
Hard blocked: no
1: ideapad_bluetooth: Bluetooth
Soft blocked: no
Hard blocked: no
2: phy0: Wireless LAN
Soft blocked: no
Hard blocked: yes
3: hci0: Bluetooth
Soft blocked: no
Hard blocked: no

You may be seeing errors such as:

sudo ifconfig wlan0 up
SIOCSIFFLAGS: Operation not possible due to RF-kill

The solution is a reboot. Hit F2 to enter bios, then F9 to reset, then F10 to save and exit. Your wireless
should be working at that point.

This is a workaround for the bug located here:

How to get the microphone working in Skype with Kubuntu 12.04 (and likely with previous versions)

I have had this problem perpetually since starting to use Skype. I had to boot into my Windows partition for this single task in order to have conference calls via Skype. I finally put together a howto and a script to fix this problem. So, the issue is that PulseAudio conflicts with the internal microphone in the Skype settings. Others have noted that the problem exists there, and while I do not have a fix, I have a workaround. Here’s what I do. When I want to start Skype, I run the following script from the command line.

#©Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack 2012,,
#Bash script to workaround PulseAudio conflict in Skype with Kubuntu
echo "autospawn = no" > ~/.pulse/client.conf
killall pulseaudio
pkill skype

You can also download the script here.

Skype’s audio may work
immediately, or you may have to look at the settings under Sound Settings and use the dropdown for Microphone. I use a Logitech USB microphone, and have to select “USB Device 0x46d…” after using this script. At that point, my audio works in Skype.

When you have finished using Skype, you may restart PulseAudio to get sound back on your machine with:

pulseaudio --start

Any questions? I’m happy to help.

HOWTO: Always know your home computer’s IP address from anywhere using Dropbox

To always know what your home machine’s IP address is (and while I’ll assume that you’re running Kubuntu, this can be adapted using the following bash script to any machine).

  • Apt-get ‘kcron’.
  • Open Task Scheduler and set the following bash script to run every five minutes:
J=`wget -qO - | grep -Eo '\<[[:digit:]]{1,3}(\.[[:digit:]]{1,3}){3}\>'`
echo "$J $K" >> ../Dropbox/ANYDIRECTORYYOUCHOOSE/output.txt
  • Ensure the script is executable, and test it in a shell.

Now, you can always see what your home computer’s IP address is in any browser window; I use this in case there are issues with SSHing into my home box.

Dream gizmos

There’s a refrigerator that runs Linux now. That seems like a bit of overkill to me, but there are a few devices around the house that I think could use a bit of OSS ingenuity.

We have hibernation features for most laptops; is there a way to hibernate, say, a kitchen? Energy vampires like toasters (and I’m only going off of popular rumor, not fact here) are supposed to suck watts even when powered down. Wouldn’t it be handy to run a script that actually interfaces with your house’s power systems? I bet Bill Gates’ house does that already, so it’s time for the NIX crew to get it together 😉

My dream device: A kitchen touch screen computer like this one, but which can also be interfaced with remotely, and which can control the oven, the yogurt maker, the coffee
pot, and the dishwasher. With that, I’d be able to interface my OurGroceries list with the kitchen’s DB on food stores, cook something remotely that requires a long cooking period with changes in temperature over time (like a crown roast), preheat the oven as I’m getting home to throw a pizza in, and which can warn me if the freezer or refrigerator rise above a certain temperature (a sure sign that the cats have found a way to knock open a door).

How about you?

How to SSH into your home computer to access media files, documents, processes, or anything else you might need

I wanted access to my home machine so I could access any files I want. Dropbox is pretty awesome, but if you’ve forgotten to put something in your Dropbox folder, you’ll be in deep trouble.

(1) Run “sudo apt-get install openssh-server” at the command line.

(2) Run “sudo cp /etc/ssh/sshd_config /etc/ssh/sshd_config.original”. This copies your original configuration file for SSH so if you muck up the settings, you can always replace them.

(3) Run “sudo kate /etc/ssh/sshd_config” (or whatever text editor you use) and change the port number from 22 to another port so you won’t be targeted by so many bots.

(4) Ensure that your firewall isn’t blocking the port you chose. You may need to add SSH as a running service. You should probably also include ‘sshd’ as a startup application in your distro so that if you need to do a remote reboot, the service restarts and you can log back in.

(5) Forward the port
being used for SSH in your router. To do this, you need the internal IP address of your computer on your home network, as I presume you’re not dumb enough to directly connect your home machine to a modem. Ask me if you have problems figuring out how to forward the port.

(6) Get out your Android phone if you have one, since a connection over 3G will mean that you can test your SSH connection without ever leaving your comfy chair. Install ConnectBot through Android Market.

(7) Open ConnectBot (or any SSH client from any machine; Putty will work well) and type in your home machine username, your external IP address, and if you have changed the port, include that as well. Here’s the format: username@ Where is your external IP address and XXXXX is the port number you chose to replace the default.

(8) If you have issues getting a connection, hit me in the comments; I had several oddities in router configuration making this work, even though it’s
quite simple in theory.


You may think that Dropbox’s limit of 2GB on their free accounts is somewhat small, especially if you want to transfer media files.

However, I have accidentally stumbled upon a FTP (file transfer protocol) use for Dropbox that isn’t popularly known–or so I think.

Without realizing, I put a folder of .avi files (tv shows, movies, etc) in my Dropbox folder. Of course I saw the little red x that means Dropbox is full…once I got to the other computer I use daily.

I started pulling files out of Dropbox on that other computer, and found out that what Dropbox does is queue files for syncing. I completed a 10GB transfer simply by pulling files out of Dropbox on the other end and letting the next file queued at home sync to Dropbox.

*Note that on my OpenSUSE install, the Dropbox cache filled rapidly and needed to be manually cleared, as my
OpenSUSE /home partition only has 10GB allotted to it. I doubt this is a common problem. I’d be interested if any other OSes are liable to this problem.