Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gnome DO | Docky

Since almost day one of my Linux experience, I've loved the idea of having a Mac-like dock at the bottom of my screen. I've never really been fond of the Windows-like panel that comes by default. The first dock that I used was Avant Window Navigator and I was very happy with it, and I still think that it's an awesome dock. However, I decided that it was time for a change.

Enter Docky.

Docky is a dock that is actually a theme used by Gnome DO. In my personal opinion, it looks and feels more like the Mac dock than AWN does. It's been a great dock to use lately, however there are couple of cons:
  • Difficult to change program icons.
  • Does not allow for custom launchers (if it does, please enlighten me.)
I have finally learned how to edit the icons that appear for programs in Docky.

Disclaimer: This requires opening Nautilus as root. Please be very careful that you do not hurt your computer while doing this. If you follow the steps here, your computer will be fine.

Open a terminal and type in this:
sudo nautilus
This will open Nautilus as root. Please navigate to:
Now locate the program that you would like to change the icon of. Right click on it and open it's properties. Change the icon. Close Docky completely and open it again. You should now see your preferred icon.

Indicator Applet

I know that not everyone likes the new Indicator Applet, but I do. I like that it can centralize where notifications for certain programs can happen. However, the programs that actually utilize the indicator applet are not all programs that I use.

Like some others, I've removed Empathy & Evolution from my computer. To be completely honest, I never gave Empathy or Evolution a shot. The thing was, I already have programs that I like to use, and I want to continue to use them. For Instant Messaging, I use Pidgin and for email I use Thunderbird.

While Pidgin puts itself on the indicator applet as part of the installation, Thunderbird does not. I have searched for quite a while on how it can be added to that damn envelope.. and it's finally happened.. Here's how..

It's quite a simple process, it just needed to be found. Open a terminal and type:
sudo gedit /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/thunderbird
When the file opens, type in this line:
Please note that xxxxxxxxxx should be changed to the command used to summon Thunderbird. For me it was thunderbird-3.0

After this you should be able to see Thunderbird when you click on the indicator applet (Envelope). If you want the notifications that libnotify would give you, please check out the Mozilla Notification Extension

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Look on the Brightside

So I was at work today and using the new iMac that we recently received. It has our company’s new software installed on it (Z4).Being the geek that I am, I decided to look around at OS X to see if I really liked it and to see how it compares to GNOME. Needles to say, it's pretty snazzy. In a lot of ways it's similar to GNOME, but in EVEN MORE ways it's not. There also happen to be some things that I really like about OS X that I wish my computer could do. I'm not saying that these things are not possible; I'm just saying that I don't have them...yet. Look at the 'Brightside' (keep that in mind).

As I was playing with the iMac, I decided that this thing just HAD to have my favorite screensaver on it, Helios. Setting it up was a breeze, but that's not why I'm writing today. I noticed an interesting piece of functionality that I really wanted to have. Hot Corners.

Hot Corners give the ability to initiate screen saving or power saving functions by simply moving the mouse to one of the four corners of your screen. For example, I setup Hot Corners so that when I put the mouse at the bottom right corner of the screen, it will start the screen saver.

I started Google searching for a program that provides similar functionality for Ubuntu & GNOME. That's when I stumbled upon Brightside (see, there it is again). Brightside provides virtually the same functionality that Hot Corners does, plus the ability to switch screens by moving the mouse to the side of the screen. Brightside doesn't seem to have been worked on since Dapper was around, however it still works perfectly. There are some install issues though, simple fixes for them too.

Here's how to get brightside running...
sudo apt-get install brightside
This is where you will encounter two issues:
  • Brightside's properties configuration will not automatically be added to System > Preferences. So you will have to add this yourself.
  • Brightside will not automatically start when you login. So you will have to add the program to System > Preferences > Startup Applications.
Once you've done all of this, you'll be able to go to System > Preferences > Screen Actions and setup your 'Hot Corners.'


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who Ya Gonna Call!...

As with any new users to Ubuntu, I have been hit with my fair share of frustrations. I don't whine and complain about how my computer won’t do this or won’t do that. Instead, I go out and find the solution. (Just ask my wife, she knows I'm too stubborn to give up until I find the solution to a problem)

On this journey of mine there has really been a place that I know I can go to and receive support from wonderful 'experts.' I use quotations for a reason, but I'll get to that soon. This place that I seek answers to my Ubuntu mysteries is the Ubuntu Forums. This has been a place that I can always go to for support. I mean support in different ways: problems that I'm having, questions about a new program that I discovered, or even guidance from a friend about something going on in life.

One of my favorite places to be while at the forum is the Community Cafe; this is typically where I spend most of my time. The conversations are so eclectic that I love it there. I can read things ranging from Ubuntu barking at cats to finding Malicious applications found on Android marketplace. It's really a fun place to be at.

When I can, I try to head over to the Absolute Beginner Forum. Even though I am no Ubuntu or Linux 'expert' (see, there it is again ;-) ) I might still be able to help someone that has been using Ubuntu for a shorter period of time than I, and that person might consider me to be an expert if I was able to solve their problem. I know that I have thought this. Someone helps me to fix a problem that has been driving me up the wall, and I might think of them as an expert at what they’re doing. This is what I love about Ubuntu and Linux, anyone can help anyone. There is always going to be someone that is asking for assistance with something that I may have encountered in the past.

In the past I've used different forums for various reasons, but none of them have ever compared with this one. The Ubuntu Forum is truly a community. People like each other and help each other as if we were all brother and sisters. We care about the well being of the other user and will offer as much assistance as we possibly can. People working together is a wonderful thing.

I don't want to forget to mention the Moderators either. I have always felt that the Mods at the Ubuntu Forum are quite level headed and fair as far as how they treat the users. I have never once suspected one of them of playing favorites with a user for any reason. But truly the best part is that the whole community of users can be considered a Moderator in itself. Using the Report Abuse button can really come in handy when someone has crossed the line. Do I feel like bad when I report someone? There are times when people forget that the person on the other side of the post is a real person. They might say something that could go against the Code of Conduct, and those things should be reported. But as I mentioned before, the forums are still a great place to be.

A little history:

UbuntuForums History:The UbuntuForums were created by Ryan Troy (ubuntu-geek) in October 2004 the forums quickly became a popular resource for Ubuntu and was deemed the Official Ubuntu forums in November 2004. The forums hosting continued to be maintained and paid for by Ryan until March 2006 when Canonical graciously offered hosting for the forums. In June of 2007 the forums domain, license and assests were transfered over to Canonical they now maintain sole ownership of the forums. Ryan continues maintain the forums and serve's on the Forums Council along with KiwiNZ, jdong, Technoviking, matthew, bodhi.zazen and bapoumba.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Temporary Band-Aid

As with many other users of the wonderful Remote Desktop feature, I was afflicted with the broken refresh while 3D effects are enabled on the host computer. This is a problem that began when Ubuntu 9.04 was released. Basically, when logging in to the host computer remotely, Vino decides that it does not want to refresh the screen because 3D effects are enabled. If 3D effects are disabled, the screen refresh will start working normally. I'm sure that there is a lot more involved with this that I don't completely understand, but I know that it's been quite annoying for me.

Honestly, it should have been fixed by now, but I digress...

For the entire time that I was using Jaunty and for a few weeks into the release of Karmic, I didn't know what to do. Then I finally did a Google search that produced an amazing result! Here is the temporary "band-aid" that I discovered..

On the host computer...

Applications > System Tools > Configuration Editor

If you don't have the Configuration Editor installed, do a simple

sudo apt-get install gconf-editor

Once the Configuration Editor is open you will need to navigate to

desktop > gnome > remote_access

From here, the check box called disable_xdamage needs to be checked. After that you will be able to remotely access the host computer with refresh.

Happy Remote Accessing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Favorite User

One topic of discussion that seems to surface every once in a while is, How many people out there use linux? To be honest, answering that question is next to impossible. It cannot be tracked by how may times the operating system was downloaded because one person can download the same OS multiple times. Not to mention that person could have downloaded it one time and then installed it on several different people's computers. It also cannot be tracked by how many people contacted the maker of the OS and asked for a free Live CD. The end user can again install the OS onto multiple people's computers using the same Live CD. However I can tell you how many people use linux.....


It's easily over a million users world wide, and if it's should be!

I have to tell you though, there really is one user that stands out above them all. My Wife. That's right, my wife is also a user, and even though she would never tell you....she enjoys linux. She is not my favorite user simply because she's an amazingly wonderful woman, but also because she's genuinely a fan of linux at this point. She uses it everyday at home and even on her laptop.

I remember that I mentioned to her that I wanted to get her a netbook with a built-in webcam so that she could use that to call me at home on my webcam. I was planning on getting a netbook for her with Windows XP installed on it (the program that we use with the webcam is for Windows or Mac only) and then I could answer the call in my Virtual Machine running Windows 7 beta. Here's a small part of the conversation we had:

Me: So we'll get you that netbook.
Me: Then we'll run the Z-PC100 in that.
Wife: Can you install Ubuntu on it?
Me: Really? You...want...Ubuntu on it?
Wife: Well, yea.
Wife: I've gotten so used to it that I don't want Windows on it.

How awesome is that! She actually asked for linux to be installed on her future netbook. I have to tell you, that makes me very happy. My wife is amazing.

Firefox Fields

If people are anything like myself, they like to change the default theme that Ubuntu uses. As much as I appreciate the hard work that the art team does, I'm not that big a fan of the default theme. Personally I prefer darker themes, most of my electronics are black and I feel comfortable around a darker theme.

However, there has always been a "flaw," at least in mine and my wife's eyes, with using a darker theme in Ubuntu. This flaw is with Firefox. You see, by nature Firefox for Ubuntu incorporates the theme of the environment into itself. Meaning, if you change the desktop theme, Firefox will follow suit. Sometimes when a darker theme is used, Firefox will have dark entry fields to type into. For the most part the text color will be something of the lighter nature and it's ok, but once in a while I will stumble upon a website that has a dark entry field and dark colors for the entry field text. Needless to say, in my case this causes a lot of typos.

I'm getting tired of highlighting what I typed...

Here is my solution for fixing this "flaw."

Navigate to /home/username/.mozilla/firefox/~/chrome

Replace username with your computer login username.
Replace ~ with the crazy folder name that's located in your firefox directory. For example, mine was 5ts89n7i.default

Now open userContent-example.css
Replace everything in the file with this: (Note: If you already have a custom userContent.css file, this will not work for you.)
/* Smooth Scrolling Workaround: Disable Fixed Background Images on Pages */

input {
border: 2px inset white;
background-color: white;
color: black;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

textarea {
border: 2px inset white;
background-color: white;
color: black;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

select {
border: 2px inset white;
background-color: white;
color: black;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

input[type="checkbox"] {
border: 2px inset white ! important;
background-color: white ! important;
color: ThreeDFace ! important;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

**::-moz-radio {
background-color: white;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

input[type="submit"] {
border: 2px outset white;
background-color: #eeeeee;
color: black;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

body {
background-color: white;
color: black;
display: block;
margin: 8px;
-moz-appearance: none !important;

@namespace url(""); /* set default namespace to XUL */
Now save the file as userContent.css

Restart ALL sessions of Firefox that are running.

Your entry fields should now look like this...
I am still working to tweak a few more things, but this should definitely get the ball rolling for you as it has done for me.

What I'd like to tweak still:
  • Check box background color
  • Upload file entry field
  • Radio buttons
If anyone else has a fix for this already, I'm all eyes...