Installing Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

Posted in Linux, Ubuntu by aliencam | 14 Comments »

I just installed the newest version of Ubuntu, Karmic Koala. The website said that an install should only be about 20 minutes, so I wanted to time it. I started at 3:52, and by 4:00, the installation was “configuring apt” with the option to “skip” (I did not skip until 7 minutes later, after it had been “downloading language packs” for 5 minutes ( I only want english) :P. The installation had completed by 4:10, and I was browsing the internet by 4:12.

Computer: Thinkpad x61 Tablet with Multi-Touch (7764).

Works OOTB:
Audio
Volume keys
Tablet buttons (the “lock” button, arrow keys, and power button)
All applicable FN key combinations
“Back” and “Forward” web browsing buttons
Tablet with stylus
Tablet with touch (!) (needs to be calibrated at the edges)
Wifi
Ethernet
Bluetooth
Suspend/Hibernate (Hibernate is a little slow still, but much faster than it was in 9.04)
…and most everything else

Doesn’t Works OOTB:
Middle-mouse-scrolling (ugh.)

Anyway, it is great to have a nice clean computer to use, and I really like the new boot screens (they should have put that as the default desktop background).

Ubuntu Setup Guide Part III. Firefox Tweaks.

Posted in Guides, Linux, Lists, Ubuntu by aliencam | No Comments »

Now, I’m putting Firefox as the first item on this list of things to do because Firefox is definitely where I spend most of my time.

Flash:
go to a site that requires flash (youtube doesn’t work anymore, try google videos) and click the “install missing plugins” button that pops up at the top right corner of the website. Choose the “Adobe Flash Player” and click “next,” click “install” and enter your password.
Once you finish, you need to restart firefox to get it to work.

Some about:config tweaks:


open a new tab and go to about:config. Here you will be able to adjust many very advanced options in Firefox, some of which could mess up your browser, so be careful and don’t change random things.

In the “Filter:” bar, search for “browser.search.openintab” It should read “false” by default, double-click, or right-click and change it to “true.” This will make it so that every time you use the search bar (top right corner of the browser,) it automatically opens in a new tab.

now search for “middlemouse.paste” and change that value to “false.” Now every time you use the middle-mouse button to scroll, it won’t also paste randomly.

next, go to layout.spellcheckDefault and change the value to “2” This allows spellcheck to work in every field, instead of just large text entry boxes.

Installing Firefox Extensions


One might say that I love my firefox extensions. I would not argue with them at all. All or most of these can be installed by searching for them on the Firefox extension website, then clicking “install.” If they aren’t on that site, google the name and they might be hosted on the author’s site. Here is a list of Firefox Extensions by importance:

Absolutely Essential:

  • Adblock Plus (blocks ads, see configuration steps below)
  • Tabs Open Relative (new tabs open next to the current one)
  • Xmarks (syncs bookmarks and passwords)

Pretty Much Essential:

  • Wise Stamp (awesome custom email signatures)
  • Read It Later (saves pages for you to read later)
  • Twitterbar (post to twitter from the address bar)
  • Down Them All! (download embedded media and multiple files)
  • FireFTP (FTP client in Firefox)

Useful:

  • Better Amazon
  • Better Gcal
  • Better Gmail 2
  • Better Greader
  • Customize Google
  • FasterFox (some tweaks for broadband connections. you can do these manually in about:config)
  • Firebug (useful for web development)
  • Google Gears (! If using 64 but see later, installing this is different. enables offline stuff)
  • Greasemonkey (allows website tweaking. I keep disabled except during a woot off)
  • Hide Find Bar (auto hides the find bar when you aren’t using it)
  • LongURL Mobile Expander (expands tinyurls and other on mouseover. Also available as aGreasemonkey script)
  • Menu Editor (necessary for customization section next)
  • TinyURL Creator (creates tiny URLs)
  • User Agent Switcher (lets you pretend to be IE or another browser to trick websites)

Not Really Necessary At All

  • Alexa- Sparky (helps the Alexa ratings of websites you visit, kind of like spyware)
  • Fission (moves the loading bar to the address bar, like Safari)
  • Mr. Uptime (tells you when a website is back up)
  • Novell Moonlight (lets you use Microsoft Silverlight in Linux/Unix)
  • Retail Me Not (alerts you to coupons on websites using retailmenot.com)
  • ScreenGrab (allows fullscreen screenshots of websites since print to pdf doesnt work well)
  • Stealther (locally disables cache and history and stuff temporarily)
  • Stylish (allows you to tweak websites or firefox with userstyles.org scripts)
  • URL Fixer (fixes .cmo to .com and stuff)

Now once you install all of these your firefox window will be covered in buttons and icons for all these extensions. Most of these are useless and just waste space/time, so I get rid of almost all of them. See “Customization” section below.

Google Gears


Google gears is an extremely useful extension for offline browsing (particularly it lets you use Gmail and Google reader offline), and for speeding up websites like wordpress. Unfortunately, Google does not release a 64 bit version of it, but since it is open source, users have been able to recompile it to work with 64bit versions of Firefox. Strangely, enough, not much actually has to be changed, so I don’t understand why Google won’t release a 64 bit version… anyway, the quickest method I have found is to google “Gears 64 linux” and many people will have compiled and posted a version on their blogs. I have not done this because I don’t have the time right now, and last time I tried, I did something wrong.

Currently, the most recent version available is on Niel’s Blog. Go to that site, download the updated binary (at the moment it is gears-linux-opt-05180.xpi), and to install in Firefox, go to “File > Open” then select the .xpi file you just downloaded.

One problem with this method is that periodically you will get a message saying “Gears cannot be updated because it is not compatible with your architecture” Just ignore these messages, and when you are prompted to “update” firefox extensions, just uncheck google gears so the other extensions update. When this happens, wait a few days then do a google search to see if anyone has posted an updated version of the extension.

Adblock-Plus Configuration


When you install Adblock Plus and restart firefox, the first thing that happens is that it asks you which blocklist you want to subscribe to. Select EasyList (USA). Ever since they have implimented this feature, it is recommended (by the authors of adblock) that you DO NOT install Adblock-Plus Filter Uploader.

Once you have Easylist chosen, adblock will block almost all ads out there. Which, for me, and much of the internet, is actually a problem. Many websites rely on ads to survive, but unfortunately they choose annoying flashing, moving pictures, and similar ads. This is why we use adblock. On the other hand, tasteful and relevant text ads are not only not annoying, but often helpful in finding related websites. As such, I like to allow the Google text-only ads (like the ones I have on this site). There are two adblock-plus filters you can add to allow Google Text-Only ads.

Click the arrow on the “ABP Stop Sign”, and select “Preferences” (in the top right corner if you just installed adblock, otherwise Tools > Add-Ons > Extensions > Adblock > Preferences. ) and click “Add Filter…” Then enter the following two lines as new filters:

@@/pagead2.googlesyndication.com/*ads
@@/pagead2.googlesyndication.com/*$script,subdocument

The first one enables the ad, and the second the “Google” text and rounded corners around some of the text ads.

****NOTE: I’m not actually sure those filters work anymore… I’ll have to look into this more, definitely added to my todo list… dang. leave a comment if it does or doesn’t work***

Firefox GUI Customization/Condensing


NOTE: this section is near unintelligible, I wrote this right when I woke up. I will change it to a list format or comprehensible sentences later.

My screen is very small (12.1″) so I need to save every pixel possible so I can see more content. I also don’t want annoying things bugging me while I’m using Firefox. First thing I do is remove all of the icons from extensions. Top right corner and bottom right corner are covered with these. Most of these can be disabled by right-clicking on them, going to options, and changing some option in the extension itself.

Now, right-click on the menu bar and uncheck “Bookmarks Toolbar,” then select “Customize”. Drag off any items you don’t need (home, the “throbber” and the separator line in the top right) , and drag everything else to the top bar. Then check “Use Small Icons.” Now right-click and uncheck “Navigation Toolbar” as well.

Now there are still a few more changes that need to be made, and these are a bit more advanced. I like to get rid of the magnifying glass icon in the “search” bar, and I would like to combine the stop and reload buttons (you can only use one at a time anyway!), don’t show the forward or back buttons if there is nothing to go forward or back to, auto-hide status bar, and italicize unread tabs.

you can do this all with stylish scripts, guide on Lifehacker, userstyles.org but I would prefer to do it without the extension (this way I can keep stylish disabled except when I really need it).

First step is to make a UserChrome.css file. In Ubuntu Linux, go to /home/$USERNAME/.mozilla/firefox/***profile***/chrome ($USERNAME is your username and ***profile*** will be random letters and numbers). In Windows this will be at “C:\Documents and Settings\$USERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\***profile***\chrome\”

Make a copy of userChrome-example.css, and rename it “userChrome.css” . Now open this new file, and paste the following section into the bottom (or right below the @namespace line, it doesn’t mater).

/* This removes the Search Bar Magnifying Glass */
.search-go-button-stack { display: none !important; }

/* Combine Stop and Reload buttons*/

#stop-button[disabled] { display: none;}

#stop-button:not([disabled]) + #reload-button {
display: none;
}

/* Remove Back button when there's nothing to go Back to */
#back-button[disabled="true"] { display: none; }

/* Remove Forward button when there's nothing to go Forward to */
#forward-button[disabled="true"] { display: none; }

/* Auto Hide Status Bar Unless Mouseover */
#status-bar:not(:hover) {margin-bottom:-20px;}
#statusbar-display[label*="."], #statusbar-display[label*="."] ~ * {margin-bottom:20px;}

/*This makes unread tabs appear in italics*/

#content tab:not([selected]) {
font-style: italic !important;
}

These were taken from various places; userstyles.org, lifehacker.com, and some other blogs.

now save and close the userChrome.css then restart firefox.

In Edit > Preferences > Content, I change the default font size to 15 instead of 16, to make everything just a little bit smaller.

in “Privacy” I set Firefox to keep only 30 days of history (even 30 days is a lot of data).

Then, using the preferences option in the “Menu Editor” plugin that I installed earlier, follow the following steps.

Open Preferences for Menu Editor (Tools > Add-Ons > Extensions > Menu Editor > Preferences)
Enable “Advanced Mode”.
Uncheck “visible” for “Edit”, “History”, and “Help”
Then, in the right column, change the dropdown menu to “Edit” and in the left, go to “Tools”
Drag the “Preferences” menu item from the right into “Tools” on the left.
Apply, and click “OK.”

Here are some Screenshots of before and after this customization for Firefox.

screenshotscreenshot-1

UPDATE:

I have now added the Wolfram Alpha search plugin to the firefox search bar. click here to install it.

Ubuntu Setup Guide II. Update and Repository Setup

Posted in Guides, Linux, Lists, Ubuntu by aliencam | No Comments »

Enabling Repositories


Before updating or installing any programs, you should enable more repositories. By default, you will only get security updates, recommended updates, and updates of proprietary drivers / nonfree software in the repositories. With this it is most likely that an update will not break anything new, but you will have older versions of everything.

In order to do this, go to System > Administration > Software Sources, then enter your password and go to the “Updates” tab.

Check both the “Pre-Released Updates” and the “Unsupported Updates” boxes. Pre-released updates means updates that will go into the next 6-month ubuntu release, but did not make the cut for this one, and unsupported updates are updates that are not widely tested for stability yet. Neither are necessary, but I like both of them.

Now, go to the “Third-Party Software” tab and enable both of the repositories there. These “partner repositories” enable the use of non-free software, like flash, mp3 codecs, dvd codecs, and similar. I would say these are necessary unless you want to keep your computer 100% open source (in which case I applaud you for being much more intense than I could stand to be right now).

Then, go to the “statistics” tab, and choose whether or not you want to submit statistical data to Ubuntu. I like to do this because it lets them know how many people are updating, and installing which programs from the repositories. Essentially it helps programs you like to use in the popularity contest of “default” programs.

Another optional step is to choose a different server. This can sometimes get your updates much faster, because you won’t be downloading from the same server as everyone else in the world. To do this, go back to the “Ubuntu Software” tab, and on the “Download From:” dropdown menu, choose “other” and then click “choose best server.” It will now run a series of tests to choose which server you are able to connect to and get the fastest speeds. When it finishes, it will automatically select the best choice, click “choose server,” then “close” and “close” again (the update button never works for me).

Now open up a terminal (Applications> Accessories > Terminal) and type sudo apt-get update, then sudo apt-get upgrade.

Fixing Update-Manager Behavior


I don’t like how update-manager behaves in this new version. What happens now is that once per day the update-manager window will open completely, but if you close it, you won’t see it until a week later unless you restart the computer. I prefer it to show an icon in the taskbar telling me that I need to update, and never pop up the update window.

Here are the steps to get back the old update-manager behavior (from the Release Notes):

Open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and enter the following:


gconftool -s --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false

Now you will have an icon in the taskbar if you have available updates.

Restricted Extras


By default, Ubuntu can’t have certain things installed like MP3 codecs, flash player, MS fonts, and Java. You probably will want to install all of these, and thankfully if you have enabled the repositories above, there are two packages that handle most of this.
open a terminal and enter:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras linux-restricted-modules

enter “y” when it asks you if you want to install all the packages, then let it run.

During installation you should be prompted (in the terminal window) to setup Java, When this happens, scroll down to the bottom with either page-down or the down arrow key, then arrow to the right to get to “ok”. Hit enter, then move the selection left to “Yes” and hit enter again.

You now should be able to do these things.

Firefox Extensions

Posted in Linux, Lists, Ubuntu by aliencam | No Comments »

As I am backing up all my files and settings, I needed a list of all firefox extensions that I have installed. I found a nice extension called “add-on dump” so I installed it, and it printed me this nicely formated list of all extensions. Many of these will be rendered unnecessary (w00t!) when I convert to firefox 3 beta 5 after the install, as opposed to the swiftweasel version I am currently using. But if swiftweasel trunk is faster than the FF3b5 (which it probably will be) I will switch back to swiftweasel.

Add-Ons list:
Application: Swiftweasel 2.0.0.13 (0000000000)
Operating System: Linux (x86_64-gcc3)

April 25, 2008

Total number of items: 32

– Adblock Plus 0.7.5.4
– Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper 1.0.4
– Better GReader 0.2.2
– Better YouTube 0.4.2
– BugMeNot 1.8
– Copy All Urls 0.8.0
– CustomizeGoogle 0.71
– del.icio.us Bookmarks 1.5.44
– DOM Inspector 1.8.1.13
– DownThemAll! 1.0.1
– Extension List Dumper 1.13.1
– Fasterfox 2.0.0
– FireFTP 0.97.1
– Fission 0.9.5
– Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer 2.0.45
– GooglePreview 3.11
– Greasemonkey 0.7.20080121.0
– keyconfig 20060828.1
– Linky 2.7.1
– Mozilla XForms 0.8.5
– Nightly Tester Tools 1.3
– OneClick Installer for WordPress 1.0
– PDF Download 1.0.1.1
– Preferences in Tools Menu 0.1
– Quick Locale Switcher 1.6.5.1
– RetailMeNot 2.1
– Save Session 1.3.1.3
– Stealther 1.0.1
– Twitterbar 0.0.8
– Update Scanner 2.0.15
– Usage Counter 0.2.1
– User Agent Switcher 0.6.11

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