Installation of proprietary NVIDIA drivers on Ubuntu 14.04.1

I recently built a brand new PC – which was awesome – with an i5-4690k, 8GB RAM, and a EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti GPU.

Now, for basic work, the open source Nouveau drivers work just fine. However, this system was made to be a high performance video editing & graphics rig – so I wanted to have the best performance possible; and NVIDIA’s proprietary drivers provide the best performance.


Normally, one could simply open up the Additional Drivers tab in Software & Updates, but my system, strangely, said there were no drivers available:

Screenshot from 2014-12-16 17:50:06

This was very strange, as I knew that there should be something listed there.

So, I took to Stack Exchange. The Stack Exchange network, in this case specifically Ask Ubuntu, is an amazing tool and has helped me countless times. I was talking with a couple of more advanced Ubuntu users (if you’re on Ask Ubuntu – Seth & Mateo) and we managed to find a solution – though it was rather hacky to say the least.


Tricks, Traps, and Hackery

When I say the solution was hacky, it’s not hacky in the form that I was piecing together drivers and compiling my own kernel – it’s that it was hacky because of the amount of steps it took to complete what should have been relatively simple.

First off, I tried running updates. That should be the first thing you do when debugging an issue, unless of course there is a known issue with an update that’s even worse. Then you might want to skip the update. That didn’t help any, still nothing was shown.

Next up, I looked around at other solutions to the same problem. As I soon found out, this is actually a fairly common bug in 14.04, with the NVIDIA drivers not showing up. Most of the solutions involved enabling the Xorg-Edgers PPA – something I wasn’t totally comfortable with, since the Xorg-Edgers PPA is a bit bleeding edge and I didn’t want to mess with the black screen bugs it has been known to cause.

So, I went on and decided just to go with the drivers straight from NVIDIA. Granted, they aren’t as community tested as the ones from Ubuntu, but they’d do the trick. So, I downloaded the newest stable .run file from NVIDIA for my GPU (you can access it here, if you need to – I believe this is the page with the newest drivers.)

Once the driver installer had downloaded I tried to run it from a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T), but got this:

Screenshot from 2014-12-21 13:36:18

Obviously, I had to run the command when an X server wasn’t running. Pretty simple stuff – just pull up a TTY, kill lightdm, and you’re golden! Right? Wrong.

For whatever reason, there was/is a bug with the Nouveau drivers I had that meant I couldn’t access a TTY (nothing displayed), unless I booted with the GRUB flag nomodeset. Again, big deal. Just add the flag and reboot. Well, it’s not that simple. Turns out that when I added nomodeset I did get the TTYs…but my GUI was all messed up. So, I removed the GRUB flag nomodeset and rebooted. No TTYs but a working GUI. I guess it was choose your own poison day at Canonical.

This is where the awesome guys on Ask Ubuntu come in. I popped on over there and we started working together to figure it out.

The first solution that was suggested was running the command sudo init 1 command, which was supposed to take me into single user mode with just a command line – nothing else. However, for reasons unbeknownst to me and the other users trying to help me, I was simply being shown the Ubuntu boot splash and nothing else. Yet another issue.

So, that theory went out the window.

Now, you’re probably wondering – why didn’t you just boot with the nomodeset GRUB flag, install the drivers, and the remove the nomodeset flag? Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t do that. After trying a few other things with init I booted with that flag, killed lightdm via sudo killall lightdm, and ran the installer. There was actually a warning that came up saying that a script had failed – but I ignored that (one of the other users said they’d had the same thing & just ignored it – no problems).

I removed the nomodeset flag, rebooted, and had a working desktop with decent FPS. Actually, quite awesome FPS – especially compared to my old laptop. Just to give you an idea of the performance increase it gave me – remember that I had said I wasn’t getting more than 20 FPS in Minecraft? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words:

fps

That’s with the render distance set to 14 and the graphics cranked all the way up. I had just barely loaded up the world and so was having lots of chunk updates. Once the world had fully loaded I could get well over 150 FPS stable on render distance 25 & everything fancy.

Now, I know that Minecraft isn’t exactly the crown gem of gaming prowess – far from it actually – but it’s what I had. I don’t game much, so my library is very limited and I don’t have any intensive games.

But yeah, that’s my experience/process with/that I took installing NVIDIA graphic drivers on Ubuntu 14.04.1. Not sure if it’ll help anyone much, but it’s what I had to do and I figured I’d blog about it!

Now, this didn’t actually fix the bug with the Additional Drivers not showing up correctly – I actually had another issue occur later on with Unity not loading correctly (I think I must have rebooted at an…inopportune time) and the solution for that (which I’m also going to be writing about) actually fixed it.

Make sure to comment below with any experiences you’ve had with graphic drivers and tell me what you thought about the post!

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Using Buttons with Arduino

Introduction

This tutorial shows you how to use a simple push-button with your Arduino to light up an LED, not unlike the Flashing an LED tutorial on this site except we are flashing it only when the button is pressed.

Buttons are pretty important in Arduino, not to mention breadboarding and DIYing in general. By the end of this tutorial you should know how to wire a push-button for use with your Arduino.

This is a nice and easy first-time project for you to try out on your brand new Arduino!

For this tutorial you’ll need:

Finally, few pieces of hookup wire, or breadboard jumper wires – just to hook everything together.

Please note, I am not affiliated or being paid in any way with/by Foxytronics. It’s simply a good store that provides quality components at great prices and my experience has been only good with them.

 Electrical

The wiring for this tutorial is pretty simple, just follow this graphic:

Using Buttons with Arduino Wiring – Image made with Fritzing

First, connect 3.3V and GND to their respective rails on the breadboard.

Second, place the button. You have to place the button straddling the center gap on the breadboard to correctly place it. Just follow the orientation shown above and you’ll be fine.

Next, place the LED. You’ll want the bent leg facing towards the button, the straight leg facing away.

Next, you’ll need to place two 4.7kΩ resistors. One will be connected to the button, on the lower-right-hand corner. The second will be connected to the non-bent leg of the LED. The reason we’ve got a resistor in front of the button is because we’d be getting the full 3.3V through the button and feeding that right back into the Arduino, and we don’t want that. As for why we’re placing a resistor after the LED, if we didn’t have that resistor we’d be putting 3.3V through our LED, which would burn out the LED quite quickly.

Finally, complete the wiring for the button and LED. Nothing too complicated here, just connecting the button to the ground rail to complete that circuit, connecting the button to pin 7 so we can get input from it, and then connecting the LED to the Arduino.

If you followed the diagram correctly, that’s all the Electrical work you need to do, time to get programming!


Programming

This code is fairly simple. Just copy/paste or type it all into your Arduino IDE, explanation comes after.

/* Button Tutorial Code
 * Version: 1.0.3
 * Author: RPiAwesomeness
 * Modified: 12/9/14
 */
// First define some constants for the pins
 #define PIN_BUTTON 7
 #define PIN_LED 2
// Define some variable that we'll be using later
 int buttonState = 0; // Keeps track of button state
 // 0 = NOT pressed, 1 = IS pressed
 /*
 * setup() is called when the Arduino is turned on or resets
 */
 void setup()
 {
   Serial.begin(9600); // Start the Serial console at a baud rate of 9600
   pinMode(PIN_BUTTON, INPUT); // Declare the 7 digital pin's mode as input
   pinMode(PIN_LED, OUTPUT); // Declare the 2 digital pin's mode as output
 }
/*
 * void loop() loops constantly while the Arduino is powered
 */
 void loop()
 {
   checkButtonState(); // Check the state of the button
 }
/*
 * This function checks the state of the button
 */
 void checkButtonState()
 {
 // Read the state of the button into the buttonState variable
 buttonState = digitalRead(PIN_BUTTON);
// Check if the pushbutton is pressed
 // if it is, the button's state will be HIGH
 if (buttonState == !HIGH) {
 // Turn our LED on
 digitalWrite(PIN_LED, HIGH);
 }
 else {
 // Turn our LED off
 digitalWrite(PIN_LED, LOW);
 }
 }

What this code does is checks whether or not the button is pressed and turns on the LED if it is.

First off, we’ve got the #define PIN_BUTTON 7 line and the #define PIN_LED 2 statements. These simply set the variables PIN_BUTTON and PIN_LED to equal 7 and 2 respectively, which allows us to easily reference the pin we want in the future and helps keep our code readable and easily understandable.

Next, we declare the buttonState variable as an integer (int) and set its default value to equal 0 – meaning that the button is NOT pressed.

Next up is the setup() function. Any and every Arduino program must have this function and it’s what is called automatically when the Arduino first starts up. We’re going to start the Serial console at a 9600 baud rate (don’t worry about this, that’s just what you should default to for now.) We’re also going to set the pin mode for the PIN_BUTTON (pin 7) as an input pin and PIN_LED (pin 2) as an output pin.

The loop() function is continuously called automatically and is yet another required function. In our case we’re simply calling the checkButtonState() and nothing else.

Finally, we’ve got the checkButtonState() function. This function gets the current state of the button and stores that in the buttonState variable. It then checks that variable to see whether or not the button is pressed and if the button IS pressed, then it lights up the LED. 1

And that’s all there is to it! Upload your code to your Arduino:

Selection_001

and once it’s uploaded, go ahead and press the button on the breadboard. If you wired everything up correctly and your code doesn’t have any bugs from copying, compiling, or uploading you should  see the LED turn on when you press it!

Congratulations! You’ve just completed the Using Buttons with Arduino tutorial! The ability to use buttons in your projects is incredibly useful and is definitely something you will most definitely use down the road if you continue working with Arduino!

1 One thing you may notice about the code here is that we’re using what looks like a DOES NOT EQUAL statement that got typed in incorrectly. However, this isn’t the case. When I coded if (buttonState == !HIGH) { statement, I meant that. You see, there’s the NOT operator in C++/Arduino code, and it’s expressed via the exclamation mark (!).
In a nutshell, it takes whatever the normal result would be (has to be a true/false result) and inverts it. If you want more explanation, read here.
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Ubuntu Tech Snippet #11 – Speed up your Ubuntu installation with Preload

One of the great time & space conundrums is the need for speed. Everyone wants things, especially their computers, to be fast. And while Ubuntu can be much lighter on system resources than Windows or OS X, any extra speed is awesome and probably accepted by most people.

And so, I present to you Preload. Preload is, according to the manpage (man preload):

“an adaptive readahead daemon that prefetches files mapped by applications from the disk to reduce application startup time.”

Basically, this means that it keeps files loaded that are accessed by applications you commonly use, thus speeding up application startup time.

Note, if you’ve got a smaller amount of RAM (4GB or less) this may not be the best idea for you, as it stores all of the data in RAM – which may lead to slower overall system responsiveness.

However, if you’ve got more than 4GB of RAM or want to try it regardless, here’s the steps:

Tech Tip:

  1. Open Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T)
  2. Enter sudo apt-get install preload
  3. Hit Enter.
  4. There is no step four

Yeah, it’s that simple.

Of course, if you really want to tweak it, there is a config file stored at /etc/preload.conf.

Conclusion:

What’s this good for? Well, it depends on what you do.

If you’re a developer, video editor, music maker, basically any content creator and are constantly launching a few key programs, then Preload is great. It speeds up launch times for those apps you use all the time and may only launch for a few minutes or seconds at a time.

If you’re just using your system for general work, like writing papers, checking stocks, or balancing a spreadsheet, this may not be as useful and may in fact harm performance, as you’re using up RAM to save a few seconds off the launch of an application that you’re going to leave open for quite a while.

This should work on basically any supported desktop and server Ubuntu release (at the time of writing, this is Desktop: Ubuntu 12.04.5, Ubuntu 14.04, and Ubuntu 14.10 and Server: 10.04.4)

Leave a comment down below telling me what you thought of this article, tell me something you want me to write about, and feel free to share any tech tips of your own!

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Ubuntu Tech Snippet #10 – Remove Extra Music Players from the Ubuntu Sound Menu

Tired of pesky music players swarming your sound menu? Sick of all those silly video players making your sound menu take up half your desktop? Well, wait no longer. This Ubuntu Tech Snippet is going to show you how to, in über-l33t fashion, remove the programs that you don’t want hijacking that menu.

Problem:

The Ubuntu Sound Menu is a stupendous idea. Don’t get me wrong – I love this feature and think it should be standard everywhere. It just makes so much sense and make listening to music so much easier, all without the need to keep the music player open.

But there is one key issue, and that’s the fact that basically any music or video player that even sneezes at playing audio can technically plop itself down in this menu. Obviously, if you’re like me and like testing out new software, you are going to end up with a lot of programs filling up the menu, making the menu more of hastle than usual:

ubuntu sound menu - messy

Ubuntu Sound Menu – Look at all those media players…

Solution 1:

Fixing this is a pretty simple solution – uninstall those pesky buggers. Just uninstall the software that’s giving you trouble and you’re good to go – they’ll be removed automatically. Now, this isn’t that great of a solution – read on for the real solution.

Solution 2:

This solution is just a bit harder, involving modifying dconf settings. However, with the help of our trusty tool, dconf-editor, we can fix it! Now, Ubuntu should come with dconf-editor pre-installed – if it is, skip this next step. However, if it isn’t, you can just run the following commands in terminal:

sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install dconf-editor

Once it’s installed go ahead and start it. It’ll look similar to this, though not exactly the same, since I have the Numix GTK3 theme installed:

dconf Editor

dconf Editor

Once it’s open, expand com, then canonical, then indicator, then click on sound. The image below highlights each one:

All the steps, highlighted and numbered. See, it's not that bad!

All the steps, highlighted and numbered. See, it’s not that bad!

Once you’ve got the sound option selected go ahead and double-click on the text next to the label interested-media-players:

interested-media-players

interested-media-players is currently selected

You may have to scroll to the right a bit to see all of the media players that have plunked themselves into your Sound Menu’s digital lap.

You’ll want to locate all of the players you want to keep and not select those. Or, vice-versa, find all the players you don’t want to keep and select just those. Removing the select the entire entry, so select from the first single quote to the comma following the menu item you want to remove.
Don’t remove any of the square brackets anywhere or any of the single quotes and commas on the media players you want to keep.
In my case, I want to get rid of the Rythmbox and Clementine media players, so I’m going to select those and cut (Ctrl + X) them:
 dconf-selected-remove
And there you go! This will take place immediately after you remove the entries and click outside of the text box, no reboot required!
However, there is a caveat. This only removes them so long as you don’t launch those programs ever again, which is extremely unlikely.

Solution for the caveat:

This is pretty simple, again, and it explains why you should have cut the text instead of just flat out deleting it. You’ll need to blacklist the programs, and hey! Guess what! Canonical thought this out and included another entry, just for that!

blacklisted-media-players option - Yay Canonical!

blacklisted-media-players option – Yay Canonical!

Double-click on the text box next to blacklisted-media-players and go to the end of the text entry box and enter a comma (,). Then, just paste in the media players you cut from interested-media-players:

Paste in what you cut previously and you're good to go!

Paste in what you cut previously and you’re good to go!

Again, click outside the text box and the changes will be made automatically. You won’t see any change to the menu at that point, but those players listed won’t ever be allowed to put themselves into the Sound Menu again!

The result of this menu slimming:

Much better - I may even be removing more later

Much better – I may even be removing more later

Conclusion

Not everyone is going to use this, but when I read about it (originally on OMG! Ubuntu!) it was a fix for something that had been bugging me for a while and I figured I’d do a write-up while I fixed it myself!

Leave a comment down below telling me what you thought of this post and/or about any things that have been bugging you about Ubuntu/Unity that you’d like me to post about!

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First Working Project Ara Prototype Introduced

Project Ara isn’t one of the most well known projects out there – though I think it is definitely an awesome one.

Basically put, Project Ara allows you to build your own phone – choosing everything from the CPU and screen to the battery and speakers. Want a better, larger battery? Just change out the module for a replacement one. Accidentally dropped your phone and cracked the screen? Just buy a new screen module, slide out the old one, and slide in the new one.

It’s a great idea, and recently the first working prototype was revealed. The original prototype, while it technically worked, it froze within seconds of booting and was far less nice looking than the Spiral One, the current prototype.

If you watch the video above, you can get a pretty good gist for what the project is – modular phones that you can customize far more easily and less expensively than the options today.

While there are only a few seconds in the video that actually show the phone working, it is definitely a step up from what was shown at I/O (Google’s tech conference) in June of 2014.

The Spiral 2, a more advanced version of Spiral 1 that makes use of specific, custom-made chips from Toshiba, should be released at the Project Ara developer  conference in January of 2015. They also are planning on releasing their Module Developer’s Kit, which will allow developers to create modules for the Ara phone.

Make sure to leave a comment down below with your thoughts on Project Ara!

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Ubuntu 14.10 has been Released!

That’s right everyone, it’s that time of year again. When the internet is humming and servers are busy serving downloads, a new Ubuntu version is released. And this time… Unicorns!

Yup, the curiously named Utopic Unicorn release, 14.10, is live on the Ubuntu servers and upgrade notices should be sent out to everyone who is set to get them. If you’re curious about how to upgrade, I’ll be doing another post later, explaining how to do it and what to do after upgrading/installing Ubuntu 14.10. You can read it here (post coming soon!)

What’s New?

This release is a bit, well, underwhelming. It’s more of an update, stability, security release, with no major changes to user experience or included software. Kinda sad for a release occurring over the same week as Ubuntu’s 10th birthday.

And this may not be bad, as it, hopefully, means that Ubuntu 15.04 Versatile Vervet will have plenty of features and new stuff!

Obviously, the usual changes occurred; new community backgrounds – though no new default one and the change of the release number and code name through-out the system.

But, beyond that, there isn’t much. For the developers a very useful addition is the inclusion of the Ubuntu Developers Center. This is very useful, as it simplifies the process of installing the Android SDK and all the dependencies and addons and whatnot, with a single command.

There are a few major software release upgrades, namely the upgrades for the default software to:

  • LibreOffice 4.3.2.2
  • Firefox 33
  • Thunderbird 33
  • Nautilus 3.10
  • Evince 3.14
  • Rhythmbox 3.0.3
  • Unity 7.3.1

Also, the Linux kernel has been updated to Linux Kernel 3.16, which offers support for the latest Intel CPUs (Haswell and the upcoming Broadwell architectures, better support for NVIDIA and AMD graphics, and improved audio via the Radeon H.264 video decoder.

Consensus time

All in all, Ubuntu 14.10, in my opinion, is a solid OS that could probably serve as an LTS release. For users worried about stability, 14.10 would be a fine, although the nine month support cycle may be a hastle that users might not want.

There are very few major changes, and, if for no other reason, upgrade because of the wallpapers. This set is probably my favorite yet.


Upgrade anyone?

You can simply upgrade via Update Manager, though you may have to enable upgrade notifications for non-LTS releases. Here’s how you can do that:

Open the Unity dash by pressing the Super button (Windows button for all you non-l33t Ubuntu users). You can also click on it, just so long as you can open the Unity dash.

Once open, search for Software & Updates and select the first option that comes up. This is what it looks like on my system, with the Numix Circle icon set – it will probably look different on your system unless you have the same icon set:

Selection_091

Once the application opens up, click on the Updates tab:

Software & Updates_093

As you can see, on my system the option Notify me of a new Ubuntu version is set to For any new version. If you want to receive a notification when a non-LTS version is released you need to make sure that you have it set the same as I do, For any new version.

Simple Version:

  • Search for and open Software & Updates
  • Click on the Updates tab
  • Find option with the label Notify me of a new Ubuntu version
  • Change the selection in the drop-down menu from For long-term support versions to For any new version

Fresh Install

Of course, you can download the ISO file for Ubuntu 14.10. There are all the usual options available on the Ubuntu site. Here are the links to the Ubuntu 14.10 Desktop (64 bit) Torrent and Ubuntu 14.10 Desktop (32 bit) Torrent

Comment down below with what you think of the Utopic Unicorn and whether or not you’ve upgraded yet, plan to upgrade, or are just going to jump from the current LTS release (14.04 Trusty Tahr) to another future release or the next LTS release (16.04).

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Happy 10th b-day, Ubuntu!

The date is October 20th, 2014. A brand new Operating System, bound for greatness, was released. That Operating System, was none other than the infamous Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog. That’s right folks, Ubuntu has just turned ten! Here, have an internet-awesome, slightly goofy, birthday cake Ubuntu! (It’s in Canonical-correct colors too!)

ubuntu birthday cake

Now, I haven’t been using it for that long, joining the OS master-race in early 2011 with the Ubuntu 11.04 release. However, I have been with the OS for nearly a third of its life-span. I stuck with Windows XP as my main OS for another year or so after doing my first installation, simply because I was used to it and hadn’t yet realized the true awesomeness of Ubuntu.

I slowly began using Ubuntu more and more, especially as Windows XP got slower and slower, until around the 12.04 release I began using Ubuntu as my main OS, only booting into Windows for the occasional application that didn’t run right under WINE. And now, it’s the only OS I use; haven’t stepped foot at all in the territories of XP for several months now.

The Beginnings

Ubuntu began somewhere around six months prior to the initial release, somewhat of a short time period you might say, and it didn’t start under the name Ubuntu. The group started out called the Super Secret Debian Startup, a far cry from today’s Canonical-backed Ubuntu. The group was a bunch of people Mark Shuttleworth hand-picked and invited from the Debian mailing list.

Once the list was selected Mark Shuttleworth began sending out emails to the various chosen recipients. Some of the recipients of his invitations to join the project received a joke email, imitating the style of the Nigerian scam emails. Supposedly, it’s still included in Canonical’s “Welcome” presentation.

He also had a legitimate email, which went something like this:

I’m putting a team of Debian developers together to work full time on a derivative distribution of Debian. The idea is to provide a high-quality regular release based on Debian unstable, ensuring that all patches are given back to Debian, and ensuring that the install disk of our distribution consists entirely of Free software.

Martin and I spoke at length about the project and he seemed to like the idea very much. I’m sure he’d be happy to let you know his thoughts directly.

If you’re interested I’d like to give you a call to discuss it further with you. I’m based in the UK so we’re roughly in the same timezone, just let me know when and what number to reach you on.

Quote from James Scott Remnant’s Blog

Initially, the group talked via a secret channel on IRC, #weirdos on Freenode; the topic of the channel was “my boss is a cosmonaut”. Slowly and surely the group began rounding out, with more and more names from the Debian community joining.

The Name

The project, as I mentioned above, started out called the Super Secret Debian Startup. However, this name wasn’t actually chosen by Mark or any of the group – it came about by the fact that it was obvious a group of a bunch of Debian people were forming a new group that nobody outside of the group knew anything about.

ubuntu 4.10 warty warthog team

Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog Team

The official name of the group that remains to this day, Ubuntu, was decided upon during the first official company meeting. The original release codename, Warty Warthog, came from a quote by Mark Shuttleworth

“We’ll get it out in just six months, so it’ll be a bit of a warty warthog.”

The name of the IRC channel was changed to #warthogs. Even if it appears like the current naming scheme of Adjective Animal was decided upon way back then, it was kind of a mistake. One of the team made fun of the naming scheme, suggesting the next release should be called Bendy Badger; and Mark Shuttleworth liked it and thus the naming scheme was born that has stuck to this day.

The first meeting laid out the groundworks for the project, setting up the basics of Ubuntu and also Launchpad (known at the time as Soyuz.) The next event in the project’s history was DebConf in Brazil in that same year, and it’s kind of a big one, as it was at DebConf that the project was officially announced and the developers introduced.

The process by which the initial set of packages was decided upon was far from Orthodox, comprising of the team looking at the software installed on Matt Zimmerman’s laptop and deciding from that list. From there, the team slowly began putting together what is the most commonly used Linux distribution.

Ubuntu Installation CDs

The very idea of having an all-in-one, one-pass installer was revolutionary in and of itself. When combined with the option of getting free installation disks shipped to your door, Linux installation became far easier and more accessible to the general public.

Finally released on October 20th, 2004,  Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog was just the beginning of an incredible project that continues to this day. From the SSDS to Canonical-backed Ubuntu, from the first ever Late To Ship release to the Unity desktop, the trip has been an incredible one and it’s only going to get better.

Here’s to Ubuntu, and its future. Happy Birthday, Ubuntu!

Source: Happy 10th Birthday, Ubuntu – NetSplit
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Ubuntu Tech Snippet #9 – Change out the Unity launcher icon

One of the great things about Ubuntu is that it is so customizable. And one of the most commonly customized features is the theme. I currently run the Numix Circle icon theme with the Numix system theme. You can see an example below:

themes

Numix Circle Circle Icon Theme w. Numix Window theme

This screenshot doesn’t really show off the circle element of the icon theme, but this next screenshot does:

unity launcher w. numix circle

Unity Launcher with the Numix Circle icon theme

As you can see, the application icons are circular (thus, Numix Circle.)

Yay, cool. Icons. What’s the Tech Tip?

If you notice at the top of the panel (second screenshot) the BFB (Big Freakin’ Button) isn’t the normal Ubuntu 14.04 version. It’s a flat, circular version that fits much better with the Numix Circle icon theme than the default:

unity launcher icon 14.04

Unity Launcher Icon – Ubuntu 14.04 Default

Obviously, the first, flat icon would (and does) fit with the theme a lot better. So, I went a-searching on how to change out the Unity launcher icon (aka, the BFB) and found one that fit.

There aren’t any automatic ways to do this. However, the manual process isn’t that complicated, involving just copying and renaming a few files.

The Process

To change out the BFB, open up either Terminal or the file browser. As a side-note, you’ll need the ability to run commands as root via sudo. If you don’t have these rights, this tutorial won’t work for you, sorry 😦 Also, these actions set the icon for the entire system, I have yet to find a user-specific way to do this.

I suggest using Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and that’s what this tutorial will be via, though some people may find the file browser easier. If you do decide to use the file browser, you’ll need to launch it with root privileges, which you can do via pressing Alt+F2 and then entering

gksudo nautilus
If you are using the file browser and run into issues, please feel free to ask for help, I’ll try to help as I can.

In Terminal, you’ll need to get to the directory your replacement icon is in. If you downloaded it via Firefox or Chromium, it’s probably in your ~/Downloads folder.

Get to the folder that the icon is stored in via the command

cd WHATEVERFOLDERITSIN/FILEHERE.png

Make sure the icon you downloaded is an .svg or .png, as those tend to work the best. You can find the file’s location by finding it in the file browser and then right-clicking and selecting Copy.

Menu_081

Then, go into the terminal and type in sudo cp and then select Paste Filename

Menu_082

This will make the terminal look like this:

nate@excelion-Satellite-A105: ~_085

Without pressing enter, press Space and enter the following:

/usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_bfb_new.png

Your terminal should now look like this:

nate@excelion-Satellite-A105: ~_087

Go ahead and press enter, and you should be prompted for your password. Enter it in and then press enter again and it should instantly copy the file. If you’re get an error, make sure you put in all of the file names and paths correctly, maybe you entered cd where it should have been cp (those two are very easy to mix up, believe me, I do it all the time.)

Next, enter the following command:

sudo cp /usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_bfb.png /usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_bfb.bak && 
sudo cp /usr/share/unity/launcher_bfb_new.png /usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_bfb.png

This will create a backup of the original BFB (always, always, always make a backup when messing with system files) and then set your BFB icon as the default BFB icon.

Conclusion

Once you complete all of these steps without any errors, you should log out and back in again, and your new icon should be in place! If you have trouble understanding this tutorial, or get stuck somewhere, or get some strange error, comment down below and I’ll try my best to answer your question for you!

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PiTop Status Update – Indiegogo campaign launched today

You may remember a little while ago I posted about a cool new project I had found out about, the PiTop.

As you may remember, the PiTop is a project that gives you all the pieces you need to create a Raspberry Pi (Model B+) powered laptop. From the 3D-printed case, to the 13 inch HD screen, to the built-in WiFi & Bluetooth, you get to create a full-on, portable, Raspberry Pi-powered laptop.

If you want to know more about the project, go ahead and click through on the link above, as this post is just simple status update.

Status update inbound!

So, what’s this status update you’re talking about? Well, it’s that the PiTop’s crowd-funding, indiegogo campaign has been launched. This means you can now back the project, and get early-bird pricing on the product.

Currently $229, the Super Early Bird discount (full kit, including Model B+ Pi) has already sold out and the project is already at 47% of its $80,000 goal. Pretty impressive for the first day and the full goal should be easily reached, with an entire month left.

You can still pick up an early-bird version of the PiTop, albeit sans-Pi, for $209; and a full, non-Super Early Bird version for $249. Information on the project and all of the information about the campaign are available on the project’s Indiegogo campaign page.

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EmoJS: Programming Javascript in Emoji

EmoJS is a neat little project I recently was told about. Essentially (as you may have gathered from the title) it allows you to write Javascript, in Emoji. That’s right, Emoji Javascript.

The world’s most popular language, now in the world’s most popular language

The Project’s Tagline

The idea is actually quite fun, though not terribly practical. The project is far from a 1.0 release, currently in Alpha on the 0.2.1 release. There are, at the time of writing, twenty-seven (27) different emoji characters that have been: three escape characters, twenty-two single characters, and two multicharacters. However, not all of these can be used; some being reserved for later implementation.

You can currently see two example sets of EmoJS on the github page, though I have a screenshot below, just so I can explain the idea a little better:

emojs examples

EmoJS Examples – MIT EmoJS (emojs.github.com)

These are some basic examples, just showing off what the project is intended to do. Not terribly practical, but quite fun. They plan on adding an option to try out the language further down the road, but this is still very much in the works.

Yeah, that’s about all there is about this project right now. If you’re a programmer and want to help out, check out the projects page on GitHub. And/or, if you’re curious about the code behind the project, you can check out the project’s repository page on GitHub.

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