Archive for the ‘Desktop User’ Category

New Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Themes

August 28, 2009 18 comments

ubOne thing that I look forward to each time a new distro is released is the artwork, theme and overall graphical setup of each distro. As Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala matures we are getting closer and closer to seeing the default desktop, theme, splash screen and other graphical enhancements. In April, many Ubuntu users were caught off guard when the Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope default background did not feature the animal it was nicknamed after as some of the earlier Ubuntu releases did. This only added more excitement and uncertainty to the Ubuntu beta and RC releases which often contain the graphical changes included in the final release. Although the default graphical appearance shouldn’t be a deal-breaker when choosing a Linux distribution, for many people it’s just that. Make sure you’re choosing a Linux distro based on its features and compatibility with your hardware. A theme is secondary.

If you’re an Ubuntu beginner be sure and check out these Ubuntu Training Videos.

I came across a firestorm of Twitter updates claiming new changes to the Ubuntu 9.10 theme selection were available. After a closer look I was excited to see several themes community themes are available. The “Community-themes” package includes 4 new themes Turrican, Hanso, Impression, and Kin. If that’s not enough 2 new icon sets are also included. Looks like Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala is going to be all dressed up.

These themes are not set in stone but seem to be headed in the same direction as the Wave and Dust themes that were accepted for Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. I am excited for user input, screenshots, and to see the final look of Ubuntu 9.10.

Here are my two favorites out of the new Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala themes.

Turrican Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Theme

Hanso Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Theme

Impression Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Theme

Kin Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Theme

I want to know what YOU think!

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Ubuntu Download Software – Some of the Best, Free for the Downloading

August 23, 2009 3 comments

Everyone knows that the Ubuntu operating system is free to download; not everyone is aware, however, that the operating system has a host of applications and utilities that you can also get for free. Here is some of the most popular Ubuntu download software you can find online.
The GNOME Do is an application launcher that allows users to quickly search for items on their desktop or online and perform useful tasks on them. The latest version of the software, version 0.8.2, also includes an intuitive new desktop dock called Docky. It can be downloaded from the Do homepage,


VirtualBox is a virtualization program which is loaded on an existing OS, then allows you to load and run additional operating systems, each within its own virtual environment. It can be downloaded from

If you’re looking for an open source music manager, Songbird is a good Ubuntu download application. Songbird allows you to manage your IPod, download album art, play streaming audio on its browser and has a whole host of useful add-ons such as LyricMaster, which displays lyrics from your favorite tracks. You can get it from

HandBrake is an open source video transcoder that allows you to convert any mpeg video (including DVDs) into an mpeg-4 video file that can be played on virtually any device. The latest version, HandBrake 0.9.3 can be downloaded from The software is cross-platform and is also available for Windows and Mac OS.

If you’re unhappy with the way your Ubuntu desktop looks, then Ubuntu Tweak is an essential Ubuntu download application. Tweak allows users to change hidden system and desktop settings but can be used only with the Gnome desktop environment. It also makes the task of installing third-party upgrades such as the latest Firefox beta easier. Get it from

Conky is a software system monitor that allows the user to monitor the status of many system variables including the CPU, memory, swap space and network interfaces and displays the information on their desktop. It is available from

Aside from applications, there are many essential Ubuntu download e-books in pdf format that you can get for free that will allow you to get the most out of your Ubuntu OS. These include The Official Ubuntu Book, the Linux Bible 2007 edition, Beginning Ubuntu Linux and Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks. These resources and others can be downloaded at the site.

If you are interested in Flash training movies or printed manuals for Ubuntu check this out.

And of course, what would an OS be without some games to kill time with? Some popular games include America’s Army 2.5 (multiplayer shooter game), Babylon Project (space combat simulator) and Flightgear (flight simulator). Try for links to these games.

Of course, the ultimate Ubuntu download is the latest release of the Ubuntu OS, version 9.10 which is codenamed the Karmic Koala. Although the OS is not due to be formally released until the end of October, you can already download the Alpha 4 version of the software for testing and de-bugging by the online community. The OS features new versions of the Linux kernel and the Gnome desktop environment. The default instant messaging client has also been changed from Pidgin to Empathy and Firefox 3.5 is the new default web browser. Also added is the Palimpsest Desk Utility application, a testing and monitoring tool which shows you the uptime and temperature of the driver as well as being a partition management tool.

The Ubuntu Alternative

August 22, 2009 2 comments

The Ubuntu 9.04 – An Alternative to Commercially-Available Operating Systems
The latest release of the Ubuntu OS is nicknamed Jaunty Jackalope, and the free software lives up to the playful qualities of its imaginary namesake. A Jackalope is a folkloric animal that is supposed to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope; it has been portrayed as a rabbit with antlers. Like a rabbit, Ubuntu 9.04 runs faster, offering boot speeds as short as 25 seconds and faster access on the majority of laptop, desktop and netbook computers. Other notable features of the new release include improved suspend-and-resume features so that you can immediately access your computer after putting it in sleep mode and broadening the switching between Wi-Fi and 3G, which supports more wireless devices and 3G cards.

The new release also comes bundled with OpenOffice 3.0, which provides users with word processing, spreadsheet and presentations applications that are compatible with Microsoft Office. Another notable application included with Ubuntu 9.04 is the Evolution 2.26.1 e-mail client, which integrates mail, address book and calendaring functions. The new version of Evolution now allows Windows users to directly import Microsoft Outlook files to Evolution, letting you transfer e-mail and contacts to the new application. The new Linux kernel 2.6.28-11.37 also speeds up the performance of your storage drives through better disk performance, improved solid-state drive support and enhanced virtual memory scalability.

The Ubuntu 9.04 desktop edition is noteworthy for its inclusion of technologies to make computing more accessible to handicapped users. For the blind, Ubuntu includes Orca technologies to help them use many of its applications. Orca uses a combination of Braille, magnification and speech software to enable sight-impaired users to use the Ubuntu interface and access the Firefox e-mail client, OpenOffice and other applications. The OS also offers slow-key support, which allows the keyboard to be used as a mouse, making this an essential tool for the physically-challenged. The Ubuntu OS can also support a touch-screen keyboard used with pointers.

Will the Ubuntu 9.04 OS entice users away from well-entrenched operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS X? The outlook is promising with the inclusion of the Eucalyptus technology in the Server Edition of the OS. Eucalyptus – which stands for Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs to Useful Systems – is open source, cloud computing technology which allows users to set up storage and create virtual machines online through Amazon’s Web Services. The Ubuntu OS can also run well with as little as 384 MB of allocated base memory. And, of course, the price – free – is unbeatable.

If you want to try it, the Ubuntu 9.04 OS is easy to find and install. You can download it online from the Ubuntu website or a host of torrent sites. If you’re already using Ubuntu 8.04 you can get an automatic upgrade to the newer edition through the Upgrade Manager tool. You can also get a host of applications for the OS free for download. In short, there is no reason for you not to install the Ubuntu OS on your computer and sample the many features it can offer.

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Installing Netbook Images

August 3, 2009 2 comments

A common issue with a Netbook is that they do not have a CDROM so that you must load the operating system from a flash drive. UNetbootin, the Universal Netbook Installer does an excellent job at creating an image to put on your flash drive so you can install it on your Netbook.

The first thing to do is to download the .iso image that you want to place on your Netbook. An iso is an image of the distribution that you want to install on the machine. It is important that it is not just copied, it must be installed as an image so that it can boot. Here you can see the image has been selected. Put your flash drive into the machine that will create the image. In this example you can see that /dev/sde1 has been detected.
WARNING:Be very careful not to select the show all drives, as it will show you all of your drives and it is easy to overwrite a drive that is on your computer.

Once this is set up it creates the image, unmount the drive, put it in your Netbook and boot to the USB drive and your new installation will begin.



There is also the option to download and install an image right from the Internet and place it on the USB flash drive. Just select the image you want, and click and it will be completed for you.




Using Debian from a USB Drive

June 21, 2009 2 comments

There are various ways to try Debian before you ‘buy’ it. One is the live CD either Debian or Ubuntu, and the other is to run a self contained install from a USB drive. Seeing as these handy little gadgets are getting larger and cheaper as time goes in, this is a pretty viable method of doing things.
When I first tried this a year or so ago, I found it almost impossible to figure it out. Luckily a little further down the line, it is as easy as it could be. If you can complete an install on a normal hard drive, you can complete is on a USB drive. If I can do it then anyone can! Previously there were lots of command line action needed to get anywhere with a USB install. Now it’s pretty much the same as a standard one!

Caution: You should have all of your important files backed up before you try this or any other installs…use at your own risk.

I will now describe the basics of putting this altogether, assuming you have a decent speed USB drive with a capacity larger than 256mb. Decent speed is quite important as you are running almost everything from the drive. My first install used a cheapo slow-o drive that seemed to take an eternity to do anything. Then I upgraded to my 8gb Patriot Xt and now it flies.
To get started, load the Debian installer disk as usual and choose graphical install. Go through the normal install routine until you get to Partition Method. Here you want to choose your USB drive. In my case it came up as /sda.


Select ‘All files in one partition’ at the next option. This is the easiest way to run things on an external drive. You can partition if you want to, but it complicates life somewhat so I’m not going to cover it here.

Complete the process as you would a normal install. Make all the selections you would do on an HDD, just make them relevant where necessary to you /sda mount point. Also ensure you install the Grub bootloader onto the USB drive, otherwise it won’t work.
Once you have made your selections, the install process begins. It may take a while depending on the speed of your USB drive. Once done remove the drive and reboot your machine. When your machine reboots access the BIOS and add the selection to be able to boot from a removable device or USB drive. Where this is will vary depending on your motherboard.
Save and reboot once more making sure you plug your USB drive in. Grub should then load and you get the option to boot into Debian from the drive! Worked for me!
When using Debian in this way you don’t really notice the difference from a standard install. Space may become an issue if you use this method for a prolonged period of time, but that will depend entirely on the size of the USB stick you use.

Desktop Publishing with Scribus: Adding Links

June 20, 2009 1 comment

Scribus is an excellent Desktop Publishing tool. This Open Source project provides a great way to create document, brochures, etc. This tutorial will show you how to set up links to web sites in your document that will link to the actual web site.

The best way to learn how to insert links is to open a template so you have something to work with. Go to File/New from Template and select a template to work with. Next Select Insert PDF Annotations, note the work “Link” next to it on the Menu Bar. Make sure the feet are showing in the button.


Now you will be able to create a box over an existing image, as you see in the illustration. If you do not do this with an existing image you will not be able to see the link.


Right click the box and select PDF Options and Annotation Properties. Now in the drop down menu select external Web-Link and type in your website. Choose Save As,so you do not destroy your template, and give it a name. Next go to File Export and export as a PDF with the same name. Now go to the location where you saved the PDF and double-click and it will open with an active link.


Petition: Proprietary Software In US Schools

What’s holding back US schools from catching on to the open-source software wave like the rest of the world?

Some say the replacement applications are just not available on the Linux platform. However some apps like could be implemented without even switching away from Windows. The savings in even a small computer lab not buying licenses for MS Office has got to be worth it.

Others argue that the software is there but the support isn’t and that a switch would cause too much confusion amongst students. Wake up people. These kids are all using Openoffice and booting Ubuntu on Live CDs. We need to brings open-source into our schools and teach our children about sharing, community, and freedom. Your kid could be heading up the Ubuntu 15.04 Kruzin’ Kangaroo project or could be a proprietary zombie, with no skills, no options, and no future. The choice is yours.

Please Sign My Proprietary Software Petition

Many good points about why schools are resisting this practical change are detailed in this article: U.S. Schools: Not Ready For Linux

Categories: Desktop User