Whilst I have been generally happy with both Xubuntu and Debian with XFCE as the GUI, there have been a number of issues running programs under XFCE that have caused me to doubt its capabilities. Mostly these surface with Qgis because of the nature and extensive use of the software and are in three two areas:
  • The right click or shortcut menu is almost impossible to open without accidentally clicking the menu item closest to the mouse pointer. This has been mostly under Qgis but I have lately been seeing it happen under other applications as well. This has been confirmed not to be a XFCE specific issue and is possibly application implementation specific.
  • Drag and drop in many cases is poorly implemented, that in many cases you will be dragging an item even when you aren’t holding the mouse button down. This causes a lot of problems with the Qgis layer list which supports drag and drop to reorder items. Frequently layers are inadvertently dragged and dropped to wrong places in the list.
  • Double click also seems to be poorly handled and in many cases single click is taking the action where a double would normally be needed.
Up until now apart from filing a Qgis bug report concerning the right click issue I haven’t done much, but seeing the right click affecting another piece of software in the last couple of weeks has spurred me forward into creating a Kubuntu virtual machine with Qgis installed for testing. So far the drag and drop issue seems to be resolved, but I need to spend a lot more time using it to be really sure. Understandably I will be testing the other issues on it as well.
This Kubuntu VM will be used on mainpc instead of the natively installed Qgis on that computer so that I can get as much testing as possible done with it over the coming weeks and that will give me time to look at whether to permanently adapt my Debian computers, probably just mainpc and serverpc at this stage, to KDE. This would probably happen when Buster comes out. There is no pressing need to upgrade all the computers at this stage.
In regard to Qgis, I have previously looked into making the raster aerials usage more efficient by scripting the copying of only the images used by extracting from the QLR file in XML. I have instead gone for a much simpler process of a simple command script that copies the manually entered filenames (with as much abbreviation as possible) running on the Windows 10 PC, to copy only the required imagery from serverpc to mainpc for each section of rail corridor that I have aerial imagery for. Hopefully this will soon progress to all the aerial imagery I have for the various corridors, and without gobbling hundreds of gigs of disk space as was happening before.
The need to come up with a backup solution is becoming more pressing and will, I think, simply consist of local Borg backups on each computer. The idea of a backup server is not well enough supported by Borg at present to work well with multiple PCs. In addition there are now problems with OverGrive which is a Linux sync client for Google Drive, which I rely on to do backups of map projects and data files. Google has changed its API yet again and typically they will drop support for an old API at the same time so I have been shocked to discover OG has no mechanism for flagging upload errors which are being reported in its log. It turns out the OG developers have abandoned it.

UPDATE: Because buster is probably as much as year to 18 months away I am looking at putting KDE onto mainpc as a replacement UI install, rather than doing a completely new install. It takes a bit of work to make it the default replacement for XFCE. I am also going to test out LXQT in a virtual machine, this is like LXDE but updated to use QT components and therefore has a more modern appearance than LXDE. Both environments will be tested in VMs before installing them, I am about to build a Debian 9.4 VM for LXQT testing.

I have decided to continue the “backup server” model with Borg but there will be separate disks for two different backups. One 2 TB disk will be mainpc by itself and the other will be for mediapc and serverpc combined on one 2 TB disk. It may be that I need to buy some more disks, but at the moment there isn’t really any money to spend on these. I will begin testing out Borg for this very soon. There is a free replacement for OverGrive but without the automatic detection for uploading so I have to think about how to install it.