Friday, 29 April 2011

Review: Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

Welcome back Ubuntu Adventurers!

Today I'm going to be writing a quick review with some initial thoughts about the new release of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. I haven't made any secret of the fact that I was pessimistic about the new Unity interface. I have to say, I was really REALLY wrong. This new interface is really intuitive and quick to pick up.

Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop
At first I found it difficult to find my way around the OS but after playing around for around 30 minutes and reading some online help such as the two sites I have referred to in my last couple of posts (links at the bottom of this post) it's becoming natural, very quickly. There are 3 main features that I have found that make the OS really simple to use. The first of which is the use of the super key (windows key). If you press is you will be greeted with the new launcher menu (known as a lense). Start typing for what you need and shortly after the results are there for you.

Search results after hitting the super key

Another great idea, if you hold down the super key then the unity launcher gets numbers attached for quick launch. This is a great idea for shortcutting work - especially when multi tasking.

Unity Launcher - Numbered

The final thing I want to quickly show you guys is a great new Compiz feature that Windows has and I feel Ubuntu has been missing - snap in windows. Now, when you drag a window to the left or right it will fill half the screen to allow viewing of multiple windows with ease.

Compiz Snap-in Window

I could talk about Ubuntu 11.04 all night and the hundreds of features that the guys at Canonical have written in, but what would be the fun in that hey? Click the download link below, burn the ISO to a CD or USB drive and start playing...enjoy Ubuntu Adventurers!

Ubuntu Download
OMG! Ubuntu Natty Guide
Jorge's Stompbox Natty Guide

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

OMG! Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Guide

Hello again Ubuntu adventurers!

As some or all of you may know, Ubuntu 11.04 Natty is going to be released tomorrow (28/04/2011). Some of you might have already played around with the new Unity interface. Personally I have only played with it a little and that was when it was the netbook edition.

Anyway, im looking forward to the release and really want to play around. You may have read my post earlier in the week with the online natty guide. I have today found another one that has been created by the awesome guys at OMG! Ubuntu. There is a link to the guide below, I would strongly recommend you all take a look if you are considering upgrading to Natty.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Thinking of using Ubuntu 11.04 Natty? Heres some help

Hello again Ubuntu adventureres!

As most of you probably know, PinguyOS is my preferred distro. BUT I will be playing with the new release of ubuntu when it is realeased along with the new unity interface. Now, I tried unity a while back when it was used in the ubuntu netbook remix and i wasnt impressed at all.

This may be because I dont really know unity and it looks different because, lets face it people, we are creatures of habbit. All of the above has spured me to give unity a second chance, so, in doing so I have been trying to find online resources to help me out.

I have to say people, my time wasnt wasted when i found Jorges Stompbox. This site is an online resource for everything unity. So if you are thinking about making the big move to Natty you should really check this site out (link below).

jorge's stompbox

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

How To: Backup and Restore Gmail Emails in Ubuntu

Hey Guys!

Welcome back Ubuntu adventurers! I have come across a really cool tool that enables you too backup and restore all of your Gmail emails locally just in case things go wrong or if you delete some mail. The tool that we will be using is called 'Backup Gmail' (inventive hey!).

Backup gmail can be used to make full backups of your emails from Gmail and also take incremental backups. For those of you that don't know, an incremental backup is a backup of files (or in this case emails) that have changed since the last backup. It will even preserve the read/unread state of emails if you want it too. Pretty nifty hey!

Hold your horses Ubuntu adventurers....there's more! Backup Gmail can also backup emails from between a certain time scale, for example, you could backup emails from between 01/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 or any date you like...clever or what?

I have tested Backup Gmail with both a free Gmail account and also my Google Apps account and both work well :)

Backup Gmail Window

How To Install
Firstly, you will need to install the dependencies, you do this by running the following command in a terminal window:

sudo apt-get install python-pyside.qtgui python-pyside.qtcore

To use 'Backup Gmail', download it from Launchpad (make sure you download the latest version), extract it and double click "", then select "Run". You can also set up automated backups using the command line interface - navigate to the folder where you've extracted Backup Gmail and run "./ --help" to see all the available options. Basically all the features that are available for the GUI are also available in the command line interface.

Important: do not check the "Incremental Backup" option the first time you do a backup because you'll get an error like this: "username or password incorrect". You can check this option once you've performed the first backup.

Hope you like it guys :)


Sunday, 10 April 2011

How To: Remove The 'Anchor' Icon From Docky

Hey Guys!

For those of you that use Elementary OS or PinguyOS (11.04 beta review coming soon by the way!) or just have any version of linux and run Docky, you may notice that by default, the Docky 'Anchor' Icon is shown on the left of the dock at all times. Personally, I don't like this, so, I removed it...and now I'm going to tell you how I did it. :)

It's very simple, all you need to do is follow the instructions below and the Anchor icon will be gone for ever.

  1. Press ALT + F2
  2. Type command “gconf-editor" and hit enter/return
  3. Go to apps > docky-2 > docky > items > DockyItem in the gconf-editor
  4. Uncheck the "ShowDockyItem" box
  5. Close gconf-editor and restart Docky

Hey Presto - no more Anchor! (if you want to get it back just put the tick back in the "ShowDockyItem" box and restart Docky again) :)

Now, you might be thinking "great - I've done that but how to do I get to my Docky settings?" Well, fear not Ubuntu adventurers, I have the answer! All that you need to do is go to the very far right or left of Docky so that the mouse curser isn't on an icon but you are still within Docky. Click your right mouse button and once again - Hey Presto! You have the Docky settings. If you cant see the settings option on the balloon then move your curser a little further over until you do see it like below:

Docky Settings Balloon

Docky Settings Window
Enjoy guys :)


Thursday, 7 April 2011

First Look: GNOME 3

As some of you may or may not know, the new GNOME interface GNOME 3 (or GNOME Shell) got released today. I haven't tried it running in Ubuntu 11.04 just yet (that will come in the next few days). For now, I have downloaded the Suse GNOME 3 'try it' version from the GNOME 3 website. Your can download this or the fedora version yourself from HERE.

It's different, very different! In my humble opinion I see it as a mish-mash between the Ubuntu Unity interface and GNOME 2. Instead of the normal Applications, Places & System menus you instead have a single Activities button that opens a menu where you have a set of quick launch icons on the left, a search bar at the top right and a field down the right hand side that resembles the old applications menu.

After some playing around with the new GNOME 3 shell, I found it alien and unfamiliar. It has subtle similarities to GNOME 2 but for me, it's just too far removed from the GNOME 3 we all know and love. I personally would rather see KDE make a come back to becoming the main linux GUI over this. I don't think it will be very popular, but I am only one person with one opinion, only time will tell I suppose!


Saturday, 2 April 2011

How To: Unlock the Desktop & Top Panel in Elementary OS (Jupiter)

Default eOS Desktop

Hey guys! If you are anything like me then you will try multiple distro's to see what's going on in the world of linux, but have a favorite that you use on your machine(s) (mine is PinguyOS). I have recently reviewed Elementary's new OS “Jupiter” and found that it doesn't quite live up to all of the hype surrounding it.

I found there were two main features that I feel where missing for the average linux user to truly be happy. There where 1) the lack of desktop features (no right click or shortcuts aloud) and 2) the inability to change the top panel. After playing around with this distro for 24 hours or so I have worked out a way to allow you to do all of the above :)

Step One – Install Ubuntu Tweak
For those of you that don't know, Ubuntu Tweak is a really powerful tool that allows users to make a lot of changes to Ubuntu (or any Ubuntu based distro) that you wouldn't normally be able to do (not without knowing a million and one terminal commands anyway).To install Ubuntu Tweak run each of the following commands in terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppasudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak
Ubuntu Tweak
Step Two – Unlock The Desktop
Now that you are in Ubuntu Tweak you need to go to “Desktop Icon Settings” and highlight the “Show Desktop Icons” check box and un-check the “Show Contents of Home Folder” box (otherwise you will end up with a short cut to every folder in your home folder on your desktop). The desktop is now unlocked horay!! :)
Desktop Settings - Ubuntu Tweak
Step Three – Unlock The Top Panel
Still in Ubuntu Tweak, go to “GNOME Settings” and un-check the box that says “Complete Lock Down Of All Panels”. That's it! The panel is now unlocked also, horay!! :)
Allow Panel Editing - Ubuntu Tweak
As you can see below, a screen shot with desktop icons and a customised panel (gnomenu & dockbarx added instead of standard ubuntu menu)
eOS Edited Desktop

Review: Elementary OS (Jupiter)

Well, Elementary OS (Jupiter) is finally with us after seemingly a lot of internal problems with the distro. I decided to download the iso and take it for a spin.

Default Elementary Desktop

Initial Thoughts
Very locked down but quick, looks good - I think it would be good for people with little or no experience with linux/ubuntu but they would soon out grow it.

Quick - this distro is quick, really quick. They have got rid of a lot of stuff from ubuntu and really slimmed it down. It takes just a few seconds to boot up (even on my 1GB RAM virtual machine).

Slick Looks - As expected with anything that has the name 'Elementary' - it looks good. With a lot of the apps being especially created just for this distribution, it has a very uniformed and sleek look, with the trademark grey & blue throughout.

Good For Beginners - The development team for Elementary have really locked this distro down ensuring that beginners can't 'mess around' too much. This is a double edged sword though as I personally feel that the distro is locked down too much.

Midori - The default browser

Too Restrictive - As I touched on above, eOS is really locked down, some standard features that you would expect to be present are not. Such as, no icons whatsoever on the desktop - you just can't copy anything to it, nada! You can't edit the top panel, it is completely locked with no option to either add or remove things too or from the panel. These restrictions I think will really annoy your average linux user.

You also cannot edit or personalise the bottom dock (docky) at all. It is rather big and takes up a lot of screen space, the size cannot be reduced and you cannot auto hide it (not that I have found anyway).
**** EDIT **** - I have just worked out how to edit the settings on docky. If you go to the far edge of the dock (either side) and right click > settings you will be able to edit the size of the dock and add launchers etc. **** END OF EDIT ****

Not Enough Functionality - The custom apps (postler - emails & dexter - address book) are VERY simple. This may well be a good thing for some people but I personally think that there just isn't enough functionality within the apps. Simple things like add-ins or google intergration are completely missing from the apps.

The dev's also decided to go with Abiword for word processing and Gnumeric for spreadsheets. Whilst these are good programs they are a long way off LibreOffice in my opinion. With the ISO still being over 600MB I am interested to see where all that size came from??

Plus it only comes with the standard elementary theme. Knowing elementary and how good there design team is I would have thought there would have been at least a couple of unique themes...unfortunately not :(

Postler (email client) - edited as it's setup with my personal emails (sorry!)

Final Thoughts/Conclusion
A nice looking distro that works quickly but missing some basic features that you would expect to be in any modern distro. Maybe a good thing for a less advanced user. I think normal linux users will soon get bored of this distro as looks can only take you so far.

Personally this doesn't get my vote and I think that all the hype surrounding this distro within the community is over the top - unfortunately.