Tag Archives: 14.04

How to install Ubuntu MATE Remix on a PowerPC Computer

PowerPC (actually an acronym for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC – Performance Computing) is an old CPU architecture that isn’t really used much any more.

Originally created in 1991 by Apple, IBM, and Motorola, the PowerPC architecture was originally created for personal computers and was/is best known for powering Apple computers from 1994 to 2006, before Apple transitioned entirely to using Intel processors.

I could go into more detail about the whole history of PowerPC CPUs and their uses, but that’s not what this post is about.


Mac OS? Nah, let’s go full-Linux

I originally recieved the mid-2005 iBook G4 from a relative as a Christmas present, Christmas 2013. The person who sent it actually hadn’t used it in a long time and had forgotten their password – so I was left with a bootable – but unusable iBook. Oh noes!

Luckily, I had read a post by Lifehacker from their “Evil Week” regarding breaking into Macs. Please note, this is not something I condone, unless you are breaking into your own Mac. Please hack responsibly.

So, I was able to get in, add a new user (my own) and continue using the iBook. Now, as you can probably tell from many of the posts on here, I’m a huge Linux/Ubuntu fan. As such, I wanted to install Lubuntu on the iBook – both because I prefer Linux, and because I wanted better performance. So I tried to dual-boot Lubuntu and OS X Tiger (what was on it when I got it.)

That didn’t go well.

I managed to accidentally erase the OS X partition, and then without realizing I had done so, completely overwrote it with Lubuntu. Hooray me.It really wasn’t that big of a deal, because I, like I said, prefer Linux/Ubuntu over any other OS out there.

So, to cut a long story short, I used Lubuntu 12.04 LTS for a long time, then tried upgrading to Lubuntu 14.04 LTS – and managed to break the system. It still booted and everything, and I could log in and use it, but the GUI, icons, and background were all messed up.

I then built my desktop, and had no need for the iBook any more – so away into storage it went. That is, until I read this post on OMG! Ubuntu! about someone porting the Ubuntu 14.04 MATE Remix to PowerPC. I knew that I had to try this out.


Initial Research

To start this whole project off I, obviously, read that post on OMG! Ubuntu! that I linked to above. I then downloaded the ISO from the G+ post linked on the OMG! Ubuntu! post.

Now, this is where the fun stuff starts happening. I knew that the iBook G4 that I had didn’t support USB booting by default – but I had read a while back that you could work your way through OpenFirmware and “hack” a USB boot.

So, I went a-searching on the internets, and came across this post from 2010 on Ben Collins’ blog describing exactly what I wanted to accomplish – booting an iBook G4 from USB.

In order to gain access to Open Firmware (which is what I would have to do to boot from USB) I had to press Command+Option+O+F and hold that while the iBook booted – until the Open Firmware screen came up.

Now, I originally ran into some trouble with the USB stick/LiveUSB-creator-software I was using in that it wasn’t actually installing the bootloader (a known bug in Startup Disk Creator.)

Screenshot from 2015-01-17 21:11:57

I ran the boot ud:,\\:tbxi command in Open Firmware, and was spat back

can't OPEN: ud:,\\:tbxi
Can't open device or file
  ok

Uh oh. Something’s not right here  – it should have booted.

The blog post by Ben Collins listed another method, so I tried that. Same thing – no USB boot and an error message. Strange stuff.

Anyways, I figured that it had to do with the bootloader error I was getting from Startup Disk Creator, and decided to try putting the ISO onto the USB stick via unetbootin. Flashed the ISO to the USB stick, booted the iBook into Open Firmware, and got the same error:

can't OPEN: ud:,\\:tbxi
Can't open device or file
  ok

Now, I’m not sure if this is a bug in both the Startup Disk Creator and Unetbootin software on Ubuntu 14.04 – but I do certainly find it strange that they both failed.

So, I turned to the ever-potent, ever-renowned, Disk Destroyer. That’s right – I used dd. (Crosses self and mouths 20 Hail Linus’).

It really wasn’t that bad, I was just extremely careful about what I was reading/writing to/from. I ran a simple sudo dd if=./ISO-FILE.ISO of=/dev/sdg command (dd is a very powerful tool – be extremely careful when using it. Double, triple, even quadruple check what you’re reading/writing to/from.) Your USB device will probably be different from mine (mine being /dev/sdg) – make dang sure you know what device you’re writing to.

This flashed the ISO to the USB stick, and I pulled up Open Firmware again. Again, same error.

However, since this was the last idea I had to get this working, I was determined to get it working. I read through all the comments on the Ben Collins blog post, trying all the solutions – nothing worked.

I was giving it one last go and decided to switch USB ports on the iBook. Up until now, I had been plugging the USB stick into the port closest to me – so I switched it to the other USB port, closest to the screen – and it booted! I got a yaboot prompt and was able to boot the iBook – albeit with a lot of graphical issues.


The Installation

There’s a common issue with running Ubuntu (and it’s offspring) on many old PPC Apple laptops – the ATI Rage 128 Graphics.

This chip causes many issues, from graphical corruption, to general slowness, to entire failure to show anything at all on the screen! Fortunately, the fix is relatively simple from yaboot (Yaboot being the Linux bootloader on PowerPC systems.)

Normally, when you get to the Yaboot prompt you would just hit enter and it would, by default, boot the LiveUSB. However, to fix the graphics issue enter live video=offb:off video=radeonfb:off video=1024x768-32 radeon.agpmode=-1 and press Enter. This disables the radeonfb framebuffer, sets the video parameter 1024x768-32 (resolution?), and finally forces PCI mode (a work-around necessary for 3D acceleration.)

If this doesn’t resolve the graphics issue try reading the page on the wiki – PowerPCKnownIssues. Even if this solution works for you, I suggest you at least skim that page – it will help you with a plethora of issues.

While you’re booting, you may notice an error message regarding Firmware file"b43/ucode5.fw" not found:

Sorry about the potato quality - This was taken after dark and the light wasn't the best

Sorry about the potato quality – This was taken after dark and the light wasn’t the best

This is simply the airport card complaining about not having the firmware – not something that is going to cause any problems with the installation.

Go ahead and continue on with the installation, the system should continue booting just fine.

Note! When booting other versions of Ubuntu (vanilla, Lubuntu, etc.) you may run into this error and have it actually halt the boot. If this happens, change the yaboot parameters to include b43.blacklist=yes as part of the yaboot command. The full solution to this issue is beyond the scope of this post, but feel free to comment and I’ll try to help!

When presented with the Preparing to install Ubuntu screen, you’ll notice that the Download updates while installing option is greyed out. That’s fine, it’s something you can really only fix after you install.

mate-installer2

Once you’ve got the system booted from USB & running without crazy graphic weirdness there is pretty much nothing left. Once I had booted from the USB stick & set the yaboot flags I was able to install just fine – no more hackery required.

Just set up your system the way you want it as prompted, and let the installer run! Once installed, reboot. I was able to just reboot, and it pulled right up.


Fixing the WiFi

When you reboot you should see the yaboot prompt and then be able to boot. Just let the system boot, you shouldn’t have to interact with the system until you get to the login screen.

Log in, and when possible, pull up a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T).

Now, you’re going to need an Ethernet connection for this next step. You can technically download everything you’d need on another Ubuntu/Debian machine – but it would be more pain than it’s worth.

Just connect the iBook to your router/network hub for a quick sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install b43-firmware-installer.

This will download and install all of the necessary drivers for the Airport Extreme WiFi card in the iBook G4. Once the drivers are downloaded & installed, you can reboot again, and you should be able to use your WiFi!


Conclusion

Once you finish installing the drivers you can continue on setting up your system as you wish.

The instructions I wrote here are my personal experiences with the iBook G4. The issues and solutions may vary between devices.

Now, keep in mind that although Ubuntu MATE is not a Beta piece of software, PowerPC support still is. There is an Ubuntu Forums thread regarding installing Ubuntu MATE Remix on PowerPC which is pretty active and should help you with any issues that may arise.

I have noticed a few bugs – the most major being that when I suspend the laptop by closing the lid and resume – I’ve lost WiFi capabilities and the ability to run sudo! This, and the Mesa issuing false colors in games cropped up in Pinta (as noted here) bug are ones that I’m working on figuring out a solution/work-around to. If I do find (a) solution(s), I’ll post about it here.

Hope you found this post useful! Please feel free to leave a comment down below with your experience & any questions/solutions you may have!

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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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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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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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Install Pepper Flash in Ubuntu 14.04

If you are one of the many Chromium users on Ubuntu you may have noticed that you were having issues with flash content. This is because Google retired the Netscape Plugin API (commonly known as NPAPI) earlier this year from the Chromium code base, and plan to do the same for the Windows and Mac versions as well.

There are a lot of reasons why this is happening, OMG! Ubuntu! has a post regarding why. While inconvenient, this is a necessary and long overdue change.

However necessary, there is a drawback, as there often is with this sort of thing. The version of Adobe Flash available in the software center no longer works with Chromium.


Enter Pepper Flash, a modern, updated version of Adobe Flash maintained and distributed by Google. However, this ‘Pepper Plugin’ is only distributed as part of its Chrome browser, which a branded version of Chromium with extra bells and whistles added.

But, there is good news. You can install Pepper Flash for Chromium with just a single package from the Software Center.


How to install Pepper Flash

Although technically only released on Chrome, because of the fact the Chrome is based off Chromium you can still install Pepper Flash in Chromium, albeit with a slightly complicated process. Well, complicated for the developer of the package, but simple for the user that is.

Although the actual installation process is a little complicated, the installer has to download Chrome, extract the Pepper Flash plugin, then install it into Chromium, all you have to do to get Chromium back in Flash-y order is install the pepperflashplugin-nonfree package. You can either install the software via the Ubuntu Software Center or via the command line with the commands

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pepperflashplugin-nonfree

Once it installs you can close and reopen Chromium and it should have its Flashyness restored.


Um…Houston we have an issue

Some people are finding that they have to tell Chromium about the plugin after installation, instead of it happening automatically. While not ideal, you can’t usually expect perfect performance from workarounds 24/7, as they are just that, workarounds. To fix this issue, just run

sudo update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree

If this doesn’t fix it you may to manually configure it. You have to have Chromium completely closed and then you have to run the following command in terminal to edit the correct file (you can replace gedit with whichever text editor you prefer):

sudo gedit /etc/chromium-browser/default

and then add the following line to the end of the file:

. /usr/lib/pepflashplugin-installer/pepflashplayer.sh

Make sure you save, it’s easy to forget, and then close the file. Reopen Chromium and …

(Video taken from OMG! Ubuntu! Post)

Note, neither Pepper Flash nor Adobe Flash work with the Ubuntu Web Browser used for Unity Web Apps in 14.04, sadly.
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Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr – Customized Default Wallpaper

Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr - Customized Default Wallpaper

I took the default wallpaper for Ubuntu 14.04 and added in a simple mascot head as well as the text Trusty Tahr. I can’t take any credit for this image beyond adding the mascot head and text, so it isn’t licensed to me in any way. Hope someone likes it!

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Top 10 Things to Do after installing Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Ubuntu 14.04 laptop

Ubuntu 14.04 running on Dell XPS laptop

First Thing to do after installation:

 Find out about all of the new features.

There are several guides on the internet about things to do after upgrading, and this seems to be a common one. I’ve done a post regarding the features I’ve seen and read about, it went up yesterday. You can read OMG! Ubuntu’s write-up, it’s pretty similar to mine, but that’s because they took the good ones. They’ve also put together a great video, which I featured on my review post.

Second Thing to do after installation:

Enable local menu integration:
nautilus with locally integrated menus

Nautilus in Ubuntu 14.04 with locally integrated menus

I mentioned in my review that local menus had been integrated in 14.04. Basically, this means that the menus can be placed on the window’s title-bar instead of at the top of the screen like in the past. Enabling it is relatively simple.

  • Open up System Settings > Appearance
  • Select the ‘Behaviour’ tab
  • Go to section titled ‘Show Menus for a Window’
  • Check the box next to ‘in the window’s title bar’
  • In case you get lost, this is where you are trying to get:
Locally integrated menus option

The settings page to enable locally integrated menus

Third Thing to do after installation:

Enable the Launcher click to Minimize app functionality:

One oft-requested feature that made its way, albeit undercover and experimentally, into the 14.04 release is the ability to click on an application’s icon to minimize it, just as you can do in Windows. For this feature, you’ll have to be brave enough to use Ubuntu Tweak, a great app for, well, tweaking Ubuntu! If it isn’t already installed, you can download and install it, and another incredibly useful tool focused directly on Unity – Unity Tweak Tool, via the command

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool ubuntu-tweak-tool

Once it’s done downloading/installing you should fire up Ubuntu Tweak. It’s quite a powerful program, so don’t be worried when it takes a bit to load. Once it loads up, search for minimize. Click the result (should only be one) and it will load a screen like this:

Ubuntu Tweak option

Ubuntu Tweak with Minimize option highlighted

Toggle the Launcher click to minimize app option to ON, as it is in the picture.

You should now be able to click on app icons to minimize them, a nice feature in my opinion.

Fourth Thing to do after installation:

Install third-party drivers and Media codecs

Because Ubuntu is Open-Source and because of legal issues, third-party/non-free drivers, software, and codecs like Flash, DVD/music/video decoding software, and drivers for hardware aren’t pre-installed with Ubuntu. This is easily remedied though, just keep reading.

To enable the drivers it is really simple, just fire up the Software and Updates tool (you can search for Updates in the dash) and click on the ‘Additional Drivers’ tab. Just follow the prompts that will come up as it checks for drivers, choose the ones you want to enable.

Flash and media codecs (Flash being required for many online things, Youtube being the most commonly known, and media codecs required for reading DVDs and popular/proprietary audio and video formats, like MP3s/MP4s. Thus, if you want to be able to listen to your favorite music, watch DVDs, and use anything requiring Adobe Flash, you’ll want to install the restricted extras package.

The folks behind Ubuntu understand you’re going to want to be able to do those things, so they combined what you’ll want in a neat little package, for easy installation. Just run the command

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras libdvdread4 && sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

You will get various prompts for confirmation throughout the install process, this is normal, as the ubuntu-restricted-extras package is actually a package containing several pieces of software instead of a single one.

To install flash, just run

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installer

Follow the prompts, and you should have flash installed, as well as the previously installed media codecs and proprietary drivers, and thus have a happy, working system!

Fifth Thing to do after installation:

Check out Web apps

Although technically not brand new to 14.04, they were introduced 12.10, they have really become integrated with Ubuntu in 14.04. Previously they would open a tab in Firefox of Chromium, now they open up in Ubuntu Web Browser, the browser for Ubuntu Touch (Ubuntu for Phones and Tablets.) You can install more web apps from the Ubuntu Software Center, just search Unity web apps. You can get webapps for Gmail, for Grooveshark, for the BBC, for Launchpad, the list goes on and on.

Sixth Thing to do after installation:

Explore and find new software
Ubuntu Software Center

Ubuntu Software Center – Hub for all sorts of stupendous software

While the default software for Ubuntu is great, you can find all sorts of awesome software in the Ubuntu Software Center. Just open it up and it provides randomly suggested software based on what is popular at the time, or, if you so want, you can have the suggestions tailored to follow what you search for and install. Some of the great software that is available is listed below, complete with links to the Ubuntu Software Center link for the application:

  • VLC – Your all-around best, play-anything you throw at me, media player.
  • Steam – PC gaming platform, plenty of games have been or are being ported to Linux
  • Dropbox – Popular cross-platform, cloud storage service
  • GIMP – Popular, Powerful, and Open Source graphics editor, could be considered a replacement for Photoshop
  • Chromium – Open Source replacement for Google Chrome, Chromium is the base of Chrome
  • Skype – Popular voice and video communication software. Can be installed through Software Center or through Skype’s website.
  • Spotify – Popular music streaming site. While no official software is available,  there is a workaround. One more thing, the guide is intended for 12.04, but it should still work with 14.04. Read how to on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Seventh Thing to do after installation:

Take control of your privacy
Ubuntu Security and Privacy settings

Ubuntu Security and Privacy settings

We all like Privacy, but it seems to be coming at a premium today. Luckily, you can easily lots of what is shared and used from the Security and Privacy section of the System settings.

You can

  • Choose what apps & files can be searched from the Dash
  • Whether or not to require a password on waking from suspend
  • Disable sending error reports to Canonical and/or anonymous system information (programs installed, specs, etc.)
  • Disable all ‘online’ search features of the Dash

Eight thing to do after installation:

Make the desktop your personal computing haven
Appearance settings

Ubuntu Appearance Settings – Control what wallpaper to use, what theme, and what launcher size

Each version of Ubuntu comes with a new set of community-supplied wallpapers, and each time they are just stupendous. 14.04 is the first one in a while to not provide a created wallpaper with the releases’ mascot on it, but that’s okay, as it has plenty of other great photos to make up for it. You can have a static one, or have it change throughout the day! My personal favorites are Ibanez Infinity, Ubuntu (the default one), and another one of which the name I’m not sure. It was definitely installed, it’s one that changes throughout the day apparently, and is blue and abstract.

Other options that you can configure other than the background include the theme, so long as it comes installed with Ubuntu. To install and use your own theme you’ll need to use Unity Tweak Tool. You can also change the launcher size, now all the way down to a tiny 16 pixels.

On the Behavior tab you can control the auto-hiding feature of the launcher, enable workspaces (multiple desktops, an awesome feature,) add show desktop icon to launcher, and whether or not to use the locally integrated menus.

Ninth Thing to do after installation:

Turn down the amount of results in the dash
dash plugins

Herd the massive dash plugin mess – Pretty simple to disable

Although the idea started in 12.04 with the occasional amazon search result, smart scopes really bloomed in 13.10. And by bloomed I mean got incredibly, excessively, expanded and began throwing tons of online results at you when-ever you searched for something. Thankfully, you can tone down the mess a bit with a few simple clicks.

Just open up the dash, go to the Applications tab and the click on Filter Results > Dash Plugins. You’ll see a whole list of the plugins. Click one and you can disable it by clicking on Disable.

Tenth Thing to do after installation:

Re-enable your third party PPAs

During upgrades all third-party PPAs are disabled, so they don’t interfere with the upgrade. While this is good, they don’t get automatically re-enabled when the upgrade is complete. So, you have to do it manually, which isn’t too bad, unless you’ve got a large number of them set up.

First, search for “updates” in the dash. Click the Software and Updates one and it should open a window that looks like this:
software and updates window

Software and Updates window – Just opened

Go to the ‘Other Software’ tab and it will look like this, albeit with less checked:

other software tab

Other Software – Third-party PPAs that need re-enabling

If you see any that say disabled on upgrade to trusty, then you need to re-check them. However, make sure you are re-checking only the ones that don’t say Source Code at the end, unless you are a developer and want the source code for software.

Eleventh Thing to do after installation

Yay! Extra free stuff!

How to enable the Apt terminal progress bar
apt progress bar

APT Fancy Progress Bar – Image from OMG! Ubuntu!

One thing I noticed during the upgrade is that if done via the terminal (as I did it) there is just an endless scrolling list of text and commands and you, unless you really understand the internals of Linux, have no clue where you are in the process.

Enter Progress Fancy. A brand new feature introduced in 14.04 allows you to have a progress bar at the bottom of your terminal, allowing you to see progress clearly. Note, this only applies when it is an actual APT command, such as apt-update, apt-install, or apt-upgrade and does not show up when running apt-get commands. It will only show up during the unpacking/installing phase, as that is when apt is actually used, apt-get being only the user-friendly front-end. Thus, during a release upgrade, you would see the progress bar.

To enable this handy feature, simply run as root (you have to be root root, not sudo – just run su) the command

echo 'Dpkg::Progress-Fancy "1";' > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/99progressbar

That’s all for this post. Thanks for reading and be sure to leave a comment down below saying what you thought of the post and/or some things I may have missed! Also, if you see a grammar error or something appears to be missing, comment down below. This is a long post and it’s kinda hard to keep track of everything as I’m researching and writing.

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Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr – Review

I just upgraded to 14.04 LTS today and, from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty slick. While Ubuntu LTS releases don’t usually include tons of new features, 14.04 is definitely not a boring release!

The majority of the features in 14.04 are cosmetic, and even though your average user wouldn’t recognize them, there are definitely there and if you know what to look for, they are very cool.

Here’s a video by OMG! Ubuntu! showing off some of the great new features (I have no rights to it, all work was done by OMG! Ubuntu!):

Just as a side note, many of the features are very hard, or even impossible, to show in a screenshot. I’ve done my best to provide pictures as I can, but if you want to see the features the best, watch the video above.

First thing I noticed after upgrading was actually before the post-upgrade reboot, or rather, while it was going on. The Ubuntu logo hex now, instead of having a transparent ring of friends inside of white, has an orange ring of friends inside of white. In my opinion it brings a bit of color to the boot/reboot sequence, and I quite like it. You can see a comparison of the two here:

bootscreen comparison - 14.04 vs pre-13.10

Comparison of 14.04 boot splash & 13.10 boot splash  Compare the highlighted areas

Second feature I’m going to cover is the new lock screen. Ubuntu finally has an integrated lock screen that works flawlessly. You can now press Super+L and lock the screen with a slick new fade-in/fade-out animation. You no longer have to click on the power menu to lock the screen, just press the key combination and you’re golden.

Ubuntu 14.04 Lock Screen

Ubuntu 14.04 Lock Screen

One feature is the locally integrated menus. In previous versions of Ubuntu the window’s menus were displayed at the top of the screen, and a long-requested, and long-begrudged, feature is the ability to have them on the actual window. So, in 14.04, you get the option to enable this. You do have to enable it manually, it isn’t automatically enabled. I’ll be posting a Top 10 things to do after installing 14.04 later and I’ll explain how to enable this feature.

For now, this is what it looks like (window is currently not maximized

Locally integrated menus in 14.04

Locally integrated menus in 14.04

Next, Theme changes. Unity, although hated by many, is really becoming a usable and well-crafted Desktop Environment. I’ve used GNOME, Unity, and LXDE, not to mention XFCE shortly, and, although my GNOME and XFCE use has been limited, and I use LXDE quite often on my iBook G4, I do prefer Unity.

And, Unity went on a shopping trip, coming back with border-less windows and the corners are now anti-aliased and thus smoother. You can see both of those here, sort of:

14.04 Nautilus Window

14.04 Nautilus Window – Shows the new anti-aliased corners and border-less windows

Also,  Unity comes with the new GTK3 CSS3 themed window decorations which Web UPD8 covered a while back, replacing the Compiz Decor plugin.
The new decoration will support full GTK 3 theming as well as a fix for an old issue: the top panel is now right-clickable when a window is maximized. It’ll allows you access to the usual window right-click menu (maximize, minimize, move, resize, multiple desktop controls, and close.)

The default Ubuntu themes, Ambiance and Radiance, received support for these new decorations a while back, that’s why they look the same as with the old Compiz decorations. Thus, you won’t see any major change just because it uses the new CSS3/GTK3 decorations.

Menus have a slight style change, the dividers are a bit more pronounced. In the following picture my pointer is pointing at the divider:

Menu in 14.04

Menu in 14.04 – Pointer is on the divider

Another thing, when you resize windows, they live-resize instead of the orange box it was previously. This means that you get to see the content of the window as it will appear within the resized window.

One other thing is App & Window Spread Typing, you can now narrow windows down by name. I don’t tend to have a lot of windows open, or if I do, they will be on separate desktops. Thus, I don’t think I will be using this feature very often. However, I’m sure others will.

The graphics engine behind Unity, Compiz, has slowly been getting better. The animations, are smooth as butter and has very few visible graphics glitches. Canonical has also made the UI optimized for Hi-density displays, a must for many modern systems.

The latest versions of the default software, Firefox, Thunderbird, Libreoffice, Shotwell, Rythmbox, and Empathy are all pre-installed, giving you the most up-to-date software at your finger-tips!

All in all, what I’ve seen of 14.04 LTS has been very nice. It does seem a bit slow on the boot, but that could be my hard-drive dying or post-installation kinks being worked out and I haven’t run any tests, so don’t go by my judgment on the speed.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but as I discover new features I will definitely edit this post to include them! Also, make sure to check for my Top 10 things to do after installing Ubuntu 14.04 post tomorrow!

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Ubuntu 14.04 Upgrade Changes – Removed offline upgrades?

14.04 Trusty Tahr - Image from OMG! Ubuntu!

14.04 Trusty Tahr – Image from OMG! Ubuntu!

I run Ubuntu as my main Operating System on all my devices (except for the Raspberry Pi, as there is no non-EOL ARMv6 version of Ubuntu) and so I have been really hyped for the release of 14.04, the newest iteration in the Ubuntu life-cycle. It was just released and so I want to upgrade, obviously.

Now, I don’t have the greatest internet, so upgrading is always a take-over-the-internet-for-the-night type dealios, and is a huge hassle what with making sure the computer isn’t falling asleep or dying because I forgot to plug it in or getting disconnected from the internet. All of these break an upgrade real fast.

So, I loved the functionality of being able to download the ISO, stick it on a USB stick/CD and upgrade that way. However, it looks like Canonical has removed that functionality from the ISO. Ouch.

I’m really bummed out by this, as it means I have to hassle about with sleep times and power and internet speeds/connections, which I really would rather not. I plan on doing some research to see if this functionality is actually entirely removed, as stated on the Trusty Tahr Release Notes:

Offline upgrade options via alternate CDs are no longer offered for Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server. Please ensure you have network connectivity to one of the official mirrors or to a locally accessible mirror and follow the instructions above.

It sure looks as if it has been removed entirely. If you ask me, this is a bad move Canonical. Bad move.

I’ll still stick with Ubuntu, but I really don’t like this choice.

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