Monday, 30 April 2012

Ubuntu 12.04: The Pangolin is Here

Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop and Software Centre
On Thursday, Canonical launched the latest free operating system, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS - that's long-term support with maintenance updates guaranteed for five years. This version, codenamed Precise Pangolin (it's a type of armadillo) makes the strongest bid yet to oust Microsoft Windows and Mac-OS as the consumer desktop of choice.

Canonical is also pitching to organizations facing expensive upgrades to Windows 7 or 8. 12.04 also includes support for desktop virtualisation from Citrix and VMware, or Microsoft RDP 7.1, so there is a choice of remote delivery of desktop applications, browser-based cloud solutions like Google Docs or the free Libre Office suite bundled with this release.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Full Circle #60 Fifth Birthday Edition Out NOW!

Full circle Magazine Issue 60Full Circle – the independent magazine for the Ubuntu Linux community are proud to announce the release of our sixtieth issue. It’s our birthday! Five years and going strong. This month:
  • Command and Conquer.
  • How-To : Beginning Python – Part 32, LibreOffice – Part 14, and Prey.
  • NEW! Graphics : GIMP – The Beanstalk Part 1, and Inkscape – An Introduction to the SVG file format.
  • Linux Lab – Serial Port.
  • Review – Desura.
  • I Think – Will You Upgrade To 12.04?
  • Closing Windows – Sound Settings
plus: Ubuntu Games, My Desktop, My Opinion, My Story, and much much more! Now available in a choice of formats:

Opinion: This time, more than any other time (re-post)

Camera lens and flash light close-up of the K700i by Laurijs Svirskis, licensed Creative Commons on Wikimedia 
This guest post by Stuart Langridge, UbuntuOne developer at Canonical, podcaster and all-round 'good-bloke', re-posted from his blog as days pass by  

This time, more than any other time, on the subject of Rants

 "Here lies Edmund Blackadder. And he's bloody annoyed."

Tonight I went to see my daughter dance in a show. Also there with me was my ex-wife's mother, and the chap she married a couple of months ago. So I suppose that would make him my future-step-ex-father-in-law. For simplicity we'll call him Rowland. Anyway, I wanted to video a particular bit of the show (a bit with Niamh in, obviously) but couldn't since I was a row or two back, so Rowland did it on his phone. During the interval I said: I'd like that video, and I know Sam* would too because that particular bit wasn't in last night's show, which she saw. And Rowland said: "OK, how do I get it to you?"

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Testing the Ubuntu 12.04 ISO's

I'm joining in testing the Ubuntu 12.04 RC (Release Candidate) disk iimages (ISO's) before this week's launch. It's all good so far.

Having downloaded the 32-bit ISO  as per the instructions, I've now done three faultless installs of 12.04 on both real hardware and virtual machines.

We're tracking the testing and results using the iso tracker, which comes with a fully documented set of procedures.

You can find the rc iso tests located at the Ubuntu Quality Assurance site.

I'm running the 32-bit Desktop image in VirtualBox 4.1.12 which has been fine so far with the 12.04 Releae Candidate; I have also given it a shot natively on my Dell 6400 Dual Core 2Ghz/4GB. Discovery of the day is getting Unity 3D working!

I may also try the 64-bit on the Dell if I get time.

Time is short, but you can join in right up to release time if you want to.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Opinion: The Trouble with Linux

Tux part of the trouble with Linux
How often do you get into the awkward conversation that begins "the trouble with Linux is...?" My advice is cut off the detractors before they get started. Like Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, give it the abuse yourself and do the job properly. So the trouble with Linux is...
  • Saying it. Lyn-ux. Line-ux. Lee-nux. Or if you're Richard Stallman, Lee-narcs.
  • What flavour? Red Hat, Fedora, Suse, Mint; ten things all ending in 'buntu'. Nobody knows what a 'buntu' is. They've never seen one in the wild. There is a rumour that somebody was gored to death by one.
    Sorry bored to death.
    I'm sure Mark Spaceshuttle would love Ubuntu to become the single identiifiable 'brand' of Lee-narcs, but owing to the very things we love about it - choice, freedom and competition (sorry Stallman) - that's not going to happen.
  • It's tribal. The whole 'my desktop is better than your desktop' thing is always going to keep us oppressed, the way it did the Celtic Tribes or the Scottish Clans. Substitute 'package manager,' 'logo,' or 'hat' for desktop in the example quoted.
  • Speaking of package managers, Linux has more package managers than Fed-Ex. I prefer the short ones; Yum, Yast, Apt. Software Center sounds like Home Depot, frequented by men in overalls carrying steel rules with a deep knowledge of the application of seventeen types of glue.
  • At the first mention of the word repository, most people think of 'suppository' and giggle.
  • It's not sexy. What we want is the sparkly flying suit like Iron Man. What we've got is a part-work model kit of the non-flying Spruce Goose. At least the chicks have heard of Windows and the iPad.
  • It's a terminal disease. As soon as something breaks, the advice always begins, 'open a terminal session.' It has the same unwlecome connotations as air travel. Terminal equals mortality. Life is too short.
You may continue. Somewhere before you reach the end of the list, run your intellectually dazzled opponents through with the broken shards of an Ubuntu Live CD. Cyrano would be proud. RC

Friday, 20 April 2012

How-to: Opt Out of Google Personalised Ads

How do I opt out of interest-based advertising?

In a previous post, we explained a little of the "interest-based advertising" model now used by the likes of Google and other on-line advertising companies.

Remember Google makes its vast fortune from advertising, the services such as email and search are cost centres that only exist in order to pull you in to look at the ads!

To cease the interest-based advertising in web browsers, you can click the “Opt out” button on the Ads Preferences Manager. When you are accessing the web through a browser, Google also offers a number of options to permanently save your opt-out settings in that browser. After you opt out, Google will not collect interest category information and you will not receive interest-based ads via Google when accessing the web through a browser.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Opinion: Why the Long Face?

As has been expressed in Full Circle in the past, there is no such thing as an inherently intuitive computer interface. We all draw on the iconography and experience of the technology we use in our daily lives.

How we used to live...
If we are lucky enough to live in a developed economy that includes televisions, phones, ticket machines, elevators, even bus stops; not to mention all those other computers badged by fruit-based marketers and some outfit with wobbly architecture (that's what you get when you have a life without walls, apparently).

Monday, 16 April 2012

How-to: Change LightDM Greeter Background Image

LightDM login manager is much more useful and visually pleasing than the old GDM login, albeit with a fixed background wallpaper at present. Fairly soon, you will have the option for the LightDM login manager to automatically pick up the default wallpaper for any username highlighted at the login selection screen.

In the meantime, you can set the wallpaper to pretty much anything you want using another a magic setting in one of the LightDM configuration files. This applies in Ubuntu 11.10 and 12.04.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

How-to: Disable 'For Download' in the Unity Dash


Another 'Marmite' design choice (you'll love it or hate it, indifference is not an option) in the Ubuntu Unity Dash; head for Applications and an entire chunk of the Dash is taken up with “Applications for Download” with a selection taken from the Ubuntu Software Center.

It would be a great idea if it ever suggested anything useful (to me, anyway), but instead it just eats up space in the Dash I could use for other things. Like seeing the stack of favorite programs I already installed, thank you.

In Ubuntu 11.10 and 12.04, this "Applications for Download" section in the dash can be disabled.

In the Dconf Editor (see previous article), navigate to desktop > Unity > Lenses > Applications and un-check the ‘display-available-apps’ box, which is enabled by default.

You will get a whole line of extra space in the Dash from the next time you login. RC

Thursday, 12 April 2012

How-to: Understand Google Personalised Ads

Google Policies and PrinciplesLike dozens of other on-line advertising companies, Google does its best to “target” the ads you see using information it’s gathered about your browsing and searching habits. Google has now changed it's privacy policies so that it can legally serve up advertisements based on browsing history, recent searches and the message threads in your Gmail inbox.

The ad industry calls this "interest-based advertising" on the basis that they're pushing products in which you have expressed an interest. And before you sneer "yeah, right," this is the way the Internet is monetised.

This is (allegedly) anonymised data based on a profile of you rather than your identity. That doesn't stop it being creepy, intrusive and frequently annoying.

Don't like it? Well, remember if you're not paying for the product you are the product. If you don't want any ads, go elsewhere for your mail, search and other products.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

How-to: Get More AppIndicators for Unity


There is a huge list of further AppIndicators available over on Ask Ubuntu, which just goes to show how utility will override design intentions any day!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

How-to: Stop Worrying about Duplicate Threads

I looked on my System Monitor recently and saw a lot of process with the same name and the same use of memory.

In particular:
  • ext4-dio-unwrit: 7 process
  • getty : 5 process
  • udevd : 3 process
  • gnome_keyring_daemon : 2 process
I never noticed these before. Are they all normal ? All the 'duplicates' belong to the same user.

Friday, 6 April 2012

How-to: Home Folder Encryption in Ubuntu

How paranoid are you about theft or the sensitivity of your personal and business data? You may want to consider encrypting your Home folder.

The Ubuntu 11.10 installer, offers to securely encrypt the Home folder; put the check in the box for this during the install.

On first login, you will be prompted for an encryption pass-phrase to your private home folder. You may as well allow the encrypt-fs software to generate your pass phrase, it will generate a strong pass phrase consisting of at least 32 uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, white spaces and special characters.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

How-to: Add Local Dictionaries to Firefox Web Browser

Add Local Dictionaries to Firefox BrowserIf you don't live in the US of A and would prefer your Firefox browser to be a little more local, you can add local dictionaries such as the British English Dictionary 1.19.1 by Mark Tyndall or the British English Dictionary R1.19 for Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey by David Bartlett. Both are very handy plugins, very easy to use.

If you go to Tools > Add-Ons > Get Add-Ons, you will find a search box in the top left corner to assist you. Entering the word "dictionary" and a country will likely bring up something for your locale, in order of relevance.

Click the Install button beside the one you want and Firefox will handle the task. You can then switch to the Extensions tab to manage your extensions (enable, disable, remove and configure options if there are any) for the Add-ons you have installed.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Full Circle Magazine Issue 59 Out Now

Full Circle Magazine #59 is available from the main site.

This month:
  • Command and Conquer.
  • How-To : Beginning Python – Part 31, LibreOffice – Part 13, Portable Linux, Resizing Your VirtualBox Drive, and Create Your Own Greeting Card.
  • Linux Lab – Foremost for data recovery.
  • Review – Bodhi Linux
  • I Think – What turns to/from a distro?
  • Closing Windows – Task Manager
plus: more Ubuntu Games, My Desktop, My Opinion, My Story, and much much more!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

How-to: Closing Windows Pt.5 (Guest Post)

Closing Windows pt5, formatting a USB DeviceClosing Windows Pt 5: Formatting a USB Device

Guest post from Full Circle Magazine Issue 58. Written by: Ronnie Tucker (KDE), Jan Mussche (Gnome), Elizabeth Krumbach (XFCE), Mark Boyajian (LXDE), David Tigue (Unity)

Formatting (or erasing) a storage device in Windows is relatively easy. You right click the drive you wish to format, and you’ll be presented with a window which details the steps to take in erasing all information from your device.

Linux is slightly different in this regard as it’s almost impossible to format a device without seeing a mention of partitions. And that always bothers people. Think of partitions as being drives within a drive. If you want to only format a USB/SD storage device, then you’ll more than likely not bother with partitions.