How-to: Get Audacity working after a Hardy upgrade

April 28, 2008 at 7:02 am | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 16 Comments

Xubuntu 8.04 comes shipped with PulseAudio, a new sound management system. For the most part, your commonly used programs should work with this new program. For some, however, Audacity may quit being able to play and record sound. (For those who don’t know, Audacity is a sound editor; which means not being able to play and record sound renders it pretty useless!)

This how-to is extremely easy and short, but it helps me work with one of my favourite programs. In short: uninstall jackd.

1) Go to Xfce Menu > Accessories > Terminal, and enter in the following:

sudo apt-get remove jackd

Reopen up Audacity. Hopefully, it should start working again as it should. If not, you may have to quit the jackd program. Go back to the terminal and enter the following:

killall jackd

Now Audacity should be working just as it did before. Good luck!

(Credit goes to

Howto: use audio-convert in Thunar

February 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm | Posted in programs, scripts, tips and tricks, xubuntu | 7 Comments
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One of the best scripts for GNOME’s file manager Nautilus is audio-convert. audio-convert is a program that lets you convert mp3s to oggs, wavs, and vice versa. For me, it’s one of the main reasons I use Nautilus. Now, though, I can also use it with Thunar too. Here’s how:

1) If you haven’t already, install audio-convert. To do so, open up a terminal (Xfce Menu > Accessories > Terminal) and run the following:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-script-audio-convert

2) Next, open up the Thunar file manager and go to Edit > Configure custom actions…. Click the Add (plus) sign and put in the following:

a) Under the Basic tab:

Name: audio-convert
Command: /usr/share/nautilus-scripts/ConvertAudioFile %f

b) Under the Appearance Conditions tab:

Put a checkmark next to Audio files. Click Ok and exit out of the actions manager.

Now you can right click any audio file and go to audio-convert. audio-convert will do the work from there. Enjoy!

Howto: Fixing GRUB After A Windows Installation and Fixing The GRUB Menu

January 25, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 31 Comments
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Windows is not really friendly towards other operating systems – when you installed it while another operating system is already installed, it will replace the bootloader with its own, without including any reference to that other operating system – preventing you from booting it. This is why it is often recommended to install Xubuntu after Windows. Sometimes, however, installed Windows afterwards is unavoidable. Restoring Xubuntu’s bootloader (GRUB) can be a pain.

Luckily, David Mooney comes to the rescue: in a post to the xubuntu-users mailinglist, he explains how to restore GRUB:

If for some odd reason you missed having the Windows operating system and you decided to install it on another partition, you will notice your GRUB is missing afterwords. This usually happens and is a huge headache for those trying to get their GRUB back. Here’s what you need to do to get it back:

Put your bootable Ubuntu/Xubuntu install disk in the CD drive and run it. Instead of installing anything, click on the menu to open the terminal application.

In terminal mode, type the following:

sudo grub
find /boot/grub/stage1
root (x,y)
setup (x)
sudo shutdown "now" -r

The resulting “find” command will display something like (hd0,1). In this example, you would then type root (hd0,1) and then setup (hd0) in the above area. These numbers might be different; that’s why I included the “find” command so that folks who might have their Ubuntu partitions located either in front or behind their Windows installation or on a completely separate internal/external hard drive so that you will get the appropriate/correct setup numbers.

Ok, now you got your GRUB-on, but what about that darn GRUB menu? It’s not displaying what you want it to display? Well, let just see here…

Upon reboot, select “Recovery Mode”, usuaully the second option down on the GRUB menu. This will allow you to boot into the root. Once you’re in the terminal mode, type:

editor /boot/grub/menu.lst

Well, the rest is pretty much self explanatory. There should be enough comments in the menu.lst to direct you to what you can and cannot do to your GRUB menu.lst.

I usually put the Windows option at the top of the menu so that others (none-Linux users) who use my computer can find it easily if they have to do a reboot. Your Windows installation will have a different root than your Ubuntu/Xubuntu, but it’s usually automatically placed by GRUB once it’s set up again (like the above). I also recommend removing the timeout option as this is sometimes annoying. Have fun!

-David ūüėÄ

P.S.- If you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer to the best of my ability.

Thanks David!

Howto: Set a background image for your panel

October 12, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 18 Comments
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Just like in GNOME! …With a little bit more effort, of course.

So, why would somebody want a background image for their panel? Well, for one, a nice gradient image on the panel can really complete the feel of your desktop. For another, using a section of your wallpaper for a panel background can make your desktop feel more integrated.

For instance, here’s one of my panels with a background image the same as my wallpaper, to make it feel more like a dock:

My panel

One image I recommend using is the OSX menubar image. Scroll down and choose the image for your desktop resolution.

Sounds good? Let’s get started!

1) Rename the image that you want to background.ext (ext being the file extension. ex: png, jpg, etc.). Put the image in your home folder. (actually, you can name it whatever you want, but for consistency, we’ll leave it as background.ext. Make sure it’s in your home folder though!)

2) Open up the terminal (Xfce Menu > Accessories > Terminal), and create and edit a GTK configuration file:

touch ~/.gtkrc-2.0
mousepad ~/.gtkrc-2.0

3) Copy and paste in it the following:

style "panel"
bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "background.ext"

widget_class "*Panel*" style "panel"
widget "*Panel*" style "panel"
class "*Panel*" style "panel"

(Again, .ext, of course, being the file extension).

4) Save the file and exit. You’ll have to log out and in again for the changes to take effect. If you don’t want to do that, run the following in the terminal:

killall xfce4-panel
xfce4-panel &

to complete the changes.

Have fun with your panel!

(Special thanks to crimesaucer at for this tip!)

Gvtray: A volume control for your system tray

August 15, 2007 at 12:39 pm | Posted in programs, tips and tricks | 16 Comments
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this guide is no longer necessary IMO. I’ve solved my volume control problems by dragging the Volume Control plugin from the item list to the panel. Simple, but it works.

I have problems with the default Volume Control plugin in Xubuntu, so this is a useful solution. It displays the volume percent, and can be turned up or down using the mousewheel.

1) First, open up the terminal and get the necessary programs:

sudo apt-get install python-alsaaudio python-gnome2-extras

2) Extract gvtray-1.1.tar.gz and go into the newly created directory:

tar -xvf gvtray-1.1.tar.gz
cd gvtray-1.1

3) Run all of the following commands:

sudo mkdir /usr/share/gvtray
sudo cp gvtray /usr/bin
sudo cp /usr/share/gvtray/
sudo cp -r gvtray_about/ /usr/share/gvtray/gvtray_about

4) Now test it out:


And there it is, a volume control in the system tray. You will get an error message in the terminal; just ignore it.

Hope this program is useful!

Howto: Access packages through Apt-get/Synaptic

August 5, 2007 at 7:02 pm | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 27 Comments

Ok, so it’s not really Xubuntu-related, but it is something that I think will be helpful to a lot of people. If you’re a user, you can use this tip to sync your GetDeb packages with the update manager and Synaptic.

As of July 26, 2008, this repository is unusable. You can still add it correctly to your /etc/apt/sources.list, but any updates from their repository will fail to download. You will have to continue using the main website until further notice. Sorry for the inconvience.

WARNING: This repo seems to update to the latest Ubuntu version at random times. Currently it is supported for Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. If you use any other version, you will have package conflicts. This repo also does not have an authentication key. You’ve been warned.

1) Open up a terminal (Xfce Menu > Terminal) and run the following:

gksudo mousepad /etc/apt/sources.list

2) Put in the following on a new line at the end of the file:

deb getdeb/

Save the file and exit.

3) Now run the following in the terminal:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

If all works well, you should get updates for the programs you downloaded through, and be able to install programs through the Synaptic package manager.

From my experience, the site has occasional downtime. If running sudo apt-get update gives you 404 Errors relating to, don’t panic. Simply be patient and try rerunning sudo apt-get update later in the day.


Howto: Better integrate Firefox with dark themes

July 18, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 2 Comments

Here’s the problem: in some themes (in my case, Murrina Aero) the menubar has a dark background. In other programs, the text of the menubar is white. In Firefox, however, it’s gray and unreadable. Here’s a quick fix to make the menus easier to read:

1) Open up Firefox, and type about:config in the address bar. Once loaded, right click and go to New > String. When asked to type in the preference name, type in ui.menutext. Hit OK. Now type in #ffffff.

Restart Firefox. The menu will be easier to read, but now we’ve run into another problem: your submenus and right-click menus have also turned white, and they’re unreadable. Fear not, there’s a fix for this too:

2) Go to Xfce Menu > File Manager (Thunar). Once there, click View > Show Hidden Files. Then navigate to .mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default/. (Note: xxxxxxxx changes for each system. For instance, mine is x3s7t788.)

3) Now go to the chrome folder. Under there is a file called userChrome.css. Open it up and paste in the following at the end of the file:

menupopup > menu, popup, menuitem {
color: black !important;

Save the file and exit.

4) Restart Firefox. Now your menu bar will be readable, as well as the submenus.

Known bugs:

This still doesn’t affect the right-click menu of about:config. No big problem, though, since any configuration you do in there can also be placed in .mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default/prefs.js.

Special thanks to this guide on creating Office XP style menus for Firefox 2 for helping how to figure this out.

Special thanks to the

Howto: USP setup + tips and tricks

July 12, 2007 at 10:48 am | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 11 Comments

As everyone knows, Xubuntu’s start menu is…lacking, to say the least. With this howto, you can get a menu that is comparable to KDE’s Kicker or GNOME’s Slab.

The program I will be using is called Ubuntu System Panel, which describes itself as a “Simple launcher for the GNOME desktop, providing easy access to Places, Applications and common configuration items for your computer”. Even though it is designed for GNOME, it can be easily set up for XFCE. Let’s get started!

1) First, open up a terminal and install what is needed to get USP running on Xubuntu:

sudo apt-get install subversion xfce4-xfapplet-plugin python-gnome2 python-gnome2-desktop python-gmenu python-pyinotify gnome-menus

2) Make a folder, and call it usp-svn:

mkdir usp-svn/

3) Go into that folder, and download USP:

cd usp-svn/
svn checkout ubuntu-system-panel


cd ubuntu-system-panel
./usp_update install

5) Now, we need to create a .usp folder in your home folder BEFORE running USP. To do that, run:

mkdir ~/.usp

If you plan to use the Places plugin, you should also run:

mkdir ~/.usp/places
touch ~/.usp/places/.gtk-bookmarks

6)¬†Right-click¬†the¬†Xubuntu¬†panel,¬†and¬†click¬†“Add New Item”. Add the XfApplet plugin.
Afterwards, a window should pop up and give you the choice to add the Ubuntu System Panel. Make sure that you add it. USP will now appear in the panel.


To configure USP, run


a configuration window will pop up. Even though everything is GNOME-oriented, these tips will make it fit better in Xubuntu:

Under “Main”:

  • Change “USP Button Icon” to xubuntu-logo
  • Make sure “Hide Side Pane”, “Hide Stickied Headings”, and “Hide Border” are checked.
  • If you’d like to set the Windows key to open up the menu, set “USP Hotkey” to Super_L.
  • To make it look nicer on lower resolutions, reduce the number of number of plugins that are loaded. I have mine reduced to “applications”, “newpane”, “uspuser”, and “system_management”.

    To remove any plugins you don’t want, select it and click “Remove”. When you’re done, click “Save”.

Under “Applications”:

  • Make sure “Hide Vertical Separator” is checked. Set “Applications Width” to 200 and “Applications Height” to 270.
  • To enable searching, install Catfish, a GTK file searcher. It is in Feisty’s universe repo and can be installed as such:

    sudo apt-get install catfish

    Afterwards, change “Search Command” to

    catfish SEARCH_STRING

Under “User”:

  • Set “User Height” to 90 and “User Width” to 60. I also have “Hide User Name” and “Hide Logged On Date” checked, these are optional.

Under “System Management”:

  • Make sure “Hide Vertical Separator” is checked. Set “System Management Height” to 160 and “System Management Width” to 100.
  • Set “Install software” to gksu /usr/sbin/synaptic, “Control Center” to xfce-setting-show, “Lock Screen” to xflock4 and “Quit” to xfce4-session-logout.

You can also create your own set of shortcuts. To do so, go to “All Applications” under the “Applications” category, right click the shortcut you want and click “Add to Favorites”.

The end result should be something like this:


Feel free to make any changes as you see fit…but make sure to press the “Backup” button beforehand in case anything goes wrong.

Happy USPing!

Howto: Backport the latest usplash to Dapper

September 26, 2006 at 7:29 pm | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 4 Comments

If you’re interested in putting the latest and greatest usplash on Xubuntu Dapper, you can. Here’s how:

1) Get the needed development packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get build-dep usplash xubuntu-artwork

2) Get Edgy’s source packages (not binary), and download them:

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb-src edgy main restricted universe multiverse' >> /etc/apt/sources.list"
sudo apt-get update
apt-get source usplash xubuntu-artwork

3) Begin to build the packages for usplash:

cd usplash-0.4
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

4) Install them:

cd ..
sudo dpkg -i usplash*.deb

5) Begin to build the packages for Xubuntu’s usplash:

cd xubuntu-artwork-0.11
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

6) Install these too:

cd ..
sudo dpkg -i xubuntu-artwork-usplash*.deb

Enjoy! You’ll want to remove the line
deb-src edgy main restricted universe multiverse
from /etc/apt/sources.list, or you’ll have problems compiling packages.

(Credit goes to jamadagni at

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