The Xubuntu strategy

May 25, 2008 at 5:57 am | Posted in xubuntu | 5 Comments
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A while ago, there was a little disagreement in the Xubuntu developer community. Since it did not look like the dispute was going to be resolved on the developer mailinglist, an online meeting was held led by Canonical‘s Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon.

That meeting led to several decisions, the most important one being that Cody Somerville was appointed as Xubuntu’s project leader and assigned to create a strategy for Xubuntu, so that everybody knows where Xubuntu stands and what its goals are.

Well, Cody set to the task and, after gathering feedback at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, came up with the first draft of what is to be the Xubuntu Strategy Document.

This being a first draft, everybody is invited to send feedback to Cody’s email address

My first impression was that Cody did a great job on this one: Xubuntu has a bright future ahead under his lead 🙂

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 😀

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

Thanks David!

Murrine – now with transparency

December 14, 2007 at 7:53 pm | Posted in programs, xubuntu | 4 Comments
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Ryan Paul reports that Andrea Cimitan, developer of GTK theme engine Murrine, has added support for transparent widgets. Yep. This means that themes using this engine can now be partly transparent.

If you want to see what it looks like, go and see Cimi’s blogpost. Yes, it does look beautiful.

The Murrine engine is used by Xubuntu since 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon”, for the MurrinaStormCloud theme. This probably means that, in future versions, Xubuntu, too, can enjoy transparency. “But what if your computer does not support it?”, I hear you asking. Well, no worries there:

The translucency effects obviously require a compositing window manager, but the theme engine is designed so that the widgets will simply be rendered without transparency when no compositing window manager is present.

And if that wasn’t enough, in a last note, Cimi points out:

And yes, it is FAST!

I can’t wait 🙂

How the MPAA’s University Toolkit got taken down

December 9, 2007 at 7:24 pm | Posted in xubuntu | 1 Comment
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It all started with an article on the Washington Post blog on a new software “toolkit” by the Motion Picture Association of America. According to the article, the MPAA was urging some of the nation’s largest universities to deploy custom software designed to pinpoint students who may be using the schools’ networks to illegally download pirated movies.

One word in a paragraph in that article raised some eyebrows in #xubuntu-devel (an IRC channel) though:

First, an explanation of what the toolkit is and how it works. The University Toolkit is essentially an operating system (xubuntu) that you can boot up from a CD-ROM.

Wait. Xubuntu? The screenshots showed the Xubuntu boot screen. Furthermore, apparently the MPAA had modified some of the source code without providing it anywhere, even though most software in Xubuntu requires that programs of which the source has been modified and which are distributed also provide access to those modified sources. If this was not complied to, it is considered a violation of copyright law. Additionally, since Canonical owns the trademarks for Xubuntu the inclusion of Xubuntu’s logo would also have been a trademark violation, since it could harm the reputation of Xubuntu.

Anyway, the article got submitted to with a description of the suspicions, where it received a lot of votes and made the front page, which is a guarantee that it’ll be viewed by a lot of people. Apparently Mathew Garret, an Ubuntu developer, noticed it too (I don’t know whether it was because of the Digg link, but he noticed) and contacted the MPAA. Upon not receiving a reply, he contacted their Internet Service Provider with a takedown request. And even though he did not receive a meaningful reply, there you have it: the University Toolkit’s homepage no longer provides a download link! (Though according to the MPAA, they removed the link themselves without the ISP being involved)

That, in turn, got picked up by news site Slashdot (tags: haha, gnu, pwned, mafiaa, tasteyourownmedicine – don’t you love them 🙂 ) which again got picked up by several other sites – and again on the frontpage of Digg.

And with that, the circle is closed: Xubuntu continues to do its thing and look pretty and the MPAA can continue suing people without misusing open source code. Justice has prevailed!

Or not? The MPAA is planning on fixing the license violations and then make the software available again. However, would they also solve the trademark violations? We shall see…

Mythbuntu has seen the light!

September 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Posted in xubuntu | Leave a comment
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Today the xubuntu-devel mailinglist received this message from Mario Limonciello from Mythbuntu:

Hi guys,

I’m leading the Mythbuntu effort, and for our next alpha we are
switching over to Xfce for our base. We were previously doing an
openbox/feh/idesk method, but Xfce is much prettier.

So in our migration over, there were a few items that I wanted to iron
out the proper way to do things.


This is great news, not only for Mythbuntu users (which now get to enjoy the finesse of Xfce), but also for Xubuntu because, as Jani Monoses put it:

it’s nice to see getting more users, testers and devs for
xubuntu even if indirectly 🙂

Mythbuntu seems to be a good citizen, which means Xubuntu will be even more polished:

The Mythbuntu team works closely with all of the relevant package maintainers in Ubuntu to make sure that our changes, customizations, and enhancements are included within Ubuntu for other users, teams, and projects to take advantage of. Also, all scripts used for our build process are GPL licensed and available to anyone interested on our launchpad bzr branch at mythbuntu/mythbuntu/mythbuntu

What is Mythbuntu you ask? Well, according to their website:

Mythbuntu is an Ubuntu derivative focused upon setting up a standalone MythTV system similar to Knoppmyth or Mythdora. At the time, it is not a Canonical sanctioned project because of the licensing on several of the MythTV dependencies. Mainly, it can be seen as a preconfigured Ubuntu install for mythtv usage. All unnecessary applications such as OpenOffice, Evolution, and a full Gnome desktop are not installed for a Mythbuntu installation. At any time, a user may choose to install ubuntu-desktop, kubuntu-desktop, or xubuntu-desktop and add a full desktop onto their installation.

Then of course you also need to know what MythTV is. Well, Wikipedia answers that question:

MythTV is a Linux application that turns a computer with the necessary hardware into a digital video recorder, a digital multimedia home entertainment system, or Home Theater Personal Computer. MythTV is free software licensed under the GPL. It can be considered as an alternative to Windows Media Center, although MythTV predates Windows Media Center.

Congrats Mythbuntu community, and welcome to the team!

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!

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