After installing Ubuntu 14.04

If you have decided to move to the next LTS version of Ubuntu and have indeed installed Ubuntu 14.04, here are work arounds to fix some minor but critical issues you may encounter once you start using the system in production. This applies only to Desktop OS.

  • Skype icon not showing in the top panel

When Skype (the latest version released by Microsoft) is installed, it does not get an icon in the top panel in the right hand side corner. You can sign in Skype but when you click on the windows close button, the Skype windows closes leaving you stranded because you cannot open the window again. If you click on the Skype Icon in Unity, it will throw an error that one session of Skype is already running. To fix that issue you need to run the following command

    1. open terminal
    2. sudo apt-get install sni-qt:i386 (It may throw an error); if it does then run the following command
    3. sudo apt-get install ia32-libs – followed by the above command
    4. Restart the computer. Start Skype and once it starts it takes a couple of minutes for the Skype icon to start showing in the top panel.
  • Spell Check in LIbre office Not working-

In a default Ubuntu 14.04 installation, spell check does not function for some geographies and for some languages. No additional software is required – just some configuration changes in Libre office. Following are some things that one needs to do to get the spell check working

    1. Open Libre Writter
    2. Click on Tools -> Options -> Language Settings -> Languages. The one which have a ‘ Blue Tick Mark’ in the drop down are the ones which are installed on the computer. Select one of them; else download a new one that you need and you select the same in the drop down once installed.
    3. Restart the computer. Spell check should now start working

spell check

  • Microsoft Core fonts could not be installed –

Sometimes it happens that you are installing the Ubuntu Extras and for some reason the internet connection fails or the power fails and you need to reinstall the Ubuntu Extras package. I have encountered this issue several times, that while the Ubuntu extras appears to be installed, Microsoft Core TTF fonts don’t appear in Libre office and one has to reinstall them in order to use them. A simple command to re-install MS Core fonts is

sudo apt-get install –reinstall ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Restart the computer and you are all set.

  • Standard Software to install – easy to configure Ubuntu to your liking

– Users & Groups Management Tool –  sudo apt-get install gnome-system-tools

– Google Chrome, Google Talk / Hangout Plugin (Open www.google.com in any browser, google will prompt you to install Google Chrome. Go ahead and select the system architecture and install the Google Chrome Browser). For installing the hangout plugin, visit google plus (plus.google.com) and sign in and try to create a new Hangout. Google will prompt you to install the plugin. Install and enjoy.

– Tweak Tool – sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

– Ubuntu Restricted Extras – sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

– Thunderbird Extensions – Snapshot below

thunderbird extensions

Interesting extensions for thunderbird client

– Firefox Browser Plugins – Trust me it blocks all ads, you can download youtube videos and videos from many other sites. Snapshot below

firefox extensions 1 firefox extensions 2

 

Raring to Go – The Raring Ringtail – Super fast OS

This is what Ubuntu 12.10 should have been. A polished avtar of 12.04. This is a very good release of Ubuntu and I would strongly recommend to upgrade to this version, if you ‘have’ to upgrade. This release has brought in a lot of eye candy, a lot of polish, some new minor enhancements which makes this release a good release to upgrade to.

The Ubuntu team has not done any thing radical in this distribution as such. There are no major changes in the UI, just little bit of animation when minimizing applications in the Unity. You will love it when you minimize or maximize the application. Ubuntu has released a complete new icon set for this release. I can easily say, it is the best icon set ever that I have come cross in Ubuntu. It is fresh and it makes the desktop look vibrant and intuitive.

This is how the basic desktop looks like

Desktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the important omissions / downsides in the distribution are

  1. Network Tools – I think this is a disaster. It can be installed from the Software repository. But I think, omitting it from the default install was not required.
  2. Gwibber – Replaced by a QT based Application called as Friends. Facebook account cannot be added and does not integrate with Gnome notifications. Has to be used in a minimized mode.
  3. System information in the System Monitor is also omitted
  4. Application ‘White-Listing’ using dconf has been ommitted. The down side is that when you install Skype, the icon does not appear in the notifications bar on the top right hand side. There is no way to add that icon in the notification area in this release as ‘White -Listing’ is not longer available. It was possible in Ubuntu 12.04, but not in this release. This is a big downside.
  5. Updates and upgrades for this release would be available only for 9 months. So after 9 months you must upgrade to 13.10 or live for 3 more months without updates till 14.04 is released

icon missing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the interesting additions / upgrades

  1. Ability to make facebook, gmail, linkedin, hotmail and a few more web applications as desktop applications – This time they all work. A feature similar to Windows 7 – Pin to Taskbar
  2. Upgraded Empathy – Looks very polished and has larger thumbnails for the friends list. For someone who has a big user list it can be quite tiresome to scroll down.
  3. Upgraded Libre Office to v4 – The enhancement in this version is higher compatibility to Microsoft Office
  4. Unity has become very fast. Super Fast. Overall the operating system has become significantly fast.

linkedinTwitter

 

 

 

 

Verdict

There are no major changes on the front end as such, just subtle enhancements which I am sure would just add to enhancing the overall user experience in some ways. If we are to see a cumulative effect of the changes when 14.04 arrives, I am sure these changes would add a lot to the user experience.

This is a fast OS. It is far far better than the 12.10 release and overall usability is satisfactory. If you don’t mind upgrading the OS in 9 months, strongly recommend to update, though not in production environment. Else continue with Precise – 12.04

My personal choice is 12.04.02 as I use the system for all my day to day work and is a production system. I get impacted if my system goes down. I have not moved to 13.04 on my production system, but running raring ringtail in a VM and use it occasionally for doing web based work.

 

Users & Groups Management in Ubuntu

Desktops

All early versions of Ubuntu Desktops had a fantastic tool called as Users and Groups. It was available until Ubuntu 11.04 or perhaps until Ubuntu 11.10 (My memory is failing me). Since Ubuntu 12.04, this tool was dropped from the default list of Ubuntu packages. Sometimes I wonder what the guys in the Ubuntu development teams are thinking when they drop such superb tools, especially when they don’t have any other alternative. One such similar tool that has been dropped in Ubuntu’s Raring Ringtail is ‘Network Tools’. I will soon be posting a ‘Yah’ or a ‘Nay’ review on Raring Ringtail.

Coming back to ‘Users & Groups’ tool in Ubuntu –  It is available in the repository and can be very easily installed from the terminal by running the following command.

sudo apt-get install gnome-system-tools

Once you have installed gnome-system-tools, you can find it in the dash as ‘Users & Groups’ and it will have the ‘Advanced Tab’ to make the necessary changes to the users. For making a user a part of a group, simply click on the check-box of the group the user will have to log out and log back in for the group associations to take effect. If you happen to delete a user, the home directory will not be deleted. You will have to manually delete the home directory of the user. Also, just by disabling a user, it will not stop the user from doing a remote ‘SSH’ connect with the machine, as keys have been exchanged. You have to ensure that even the key bindings have been removed.

Users & groups

Servers

With a command line, making any changes to the users and the groups is a bit tricky. But the following examples will help you know how you can quickly create users, add users to a group, delete users and difference between two similar looking commands in Ubuntu Linux

Adding Users

  • Method 1 – sudo useradd kedar –  This will add only the user. No home directory will be created, nor will the user be added in any group. There will be no password set for this user. You will have to set a password using ‘passwd’ command (sudo passwd kedar)
  • Method 2 – sudo adduser kedar –  This will add the user ‘kedar’ and will also create a group by the name ‘kedar’. This will also create a home directory for kedar. You will also be prompted to set a password for the user and enter other details for the user such as Full Name, Phone Number etc.

Method 2 is the recommended way of creating a user if the user is required to be a qualified user and not just a virtual user.

  • You can add a user directly to a group by using the command ‘sudo adduser kedar www-data’. This will make kedar’s primary group as ‘www-data’ and will be able to run ‘Apache’ related processes

Deleting Users

  • Method 1 – sudo userdel -f kedar –  This will delete the user and the home directory and mail spool. This will delete the user, even if the user is logged in. This command with ‘-f’ option is dangerous and can leave your system in a unstable condition. Group will not be deleted
  • Method 2 – sudo deluser kedar –  This will delete the user only and all other entries will have to be manually deleted – such as home directory, mail spool. If the user is logged in, you will not be able to delete the user. Group will not be deleted

Method 2 is the recommended way of deleting a user unless you are very sure of what you are doing

Adding an existing user to an existing group

  • sudo usermod -a -G sudo kedar – This will add ‘kedar’ to ‘sudo’ group.
  • sudo usermod -g sudo kedar – This will make ‘sudo’ group as a primary group of kedar. By default the primary group of kedar was ‘kedar’ when we created the user. By running this command we changed the primary group of kedar to ‘sudo’

One needs to be very careful when moving users to a group or removing users from a group. Permissions and privileges are managed through the groups and it is important you understand what you do while making changes to the groups.

Cheers!!

Happy GROUPING

Steer away from 12.10

I am myself surprised to say ‘ Steer away from 12.10 – Quantal Quetzal’. Many of us who use Precise version of Ubuntu (12.04), would get a notification for an upgrade. Surprisingly, when I fell for the temptation to install Quantal, I did not know what it would lead me into. I was totally disappointed. There are no changes in the default apps – thank you for that – but otherwise, there have been minor changes in the overall look and feel, icons, color changes and overall the new version is a bit more polished than Precise. Hey……but @ what cost – SPEED

It carries forward all the goodies of 12.04, but also adds on a few features / functionalities that makes Quantal slow and laggy and hence a version which you can easily skip and not be worried about. I generally like every version of Ubuntu that gets released because of the new features and functionalities, however, the performance degradation because of the new additions are unacceptable. Unity was anyways a little slow to start with, however with Quantal, it has now become even slower. I have a decent hardware configuration, running an 8 core AMD, 64GB of dedicated SSD for the OS, and 16 Gigs of ram, however, I still find the overall desktop performance below par. It is just ‘DAMN SLOW’.

Some of the new system highlights include

  1. Web Apps – We all use web applications such as Google Docs, Facebook, and Twitter on a daily basis. The new webapp feature in Ubuntu lets you use these as tools on your desktop as if they were installed applications on your desktop. Not only that, it integrates well across all apps in the operating system. For example, after you visit Gmail for the first time in Firefox or Chromium, you’ll get a prompt asking you if you want to integrate it with your system. If you say yes, you’ll see Gmail show up in Ubuntu’s launcher, and you can click on it to bring it up in its own window. You can also right-click on it to perform actions such as composing a new message.All webapps integrate well with the menu bar. Gmail will notify you when you have new mail via Ubuntu’s indicator icon. You can add any webapp to the launcher, but only some will have the ability to integrate with the OS natively
  2. On line & search Previews in Dash – Till Quantal was released, the Dash was a single window for Ubuntu for anything in your system . It was kind of a search for anything and everything lying on your PC. However, in Quantal, on line searches are included when you search for an item through the dash. That means if you use on-line Docs such as Google docs or Zoho, the Dash will search your local documents and on-line storage when you start searching. You can sign into these accounts once from the new On line Accounts Menu, and you’ll see them everywhere in the system.What I don’t like and many would second my opinion, is the Amazon search. Whenever, one searches for anything in the Dash, one also gets to see what Amazon has to offer REAL-TIME,  that matches your search criteria. You can turn this off in Settings > Privacy > section, but unfortunately, that will turn off the on-line search capability altogether.
  3. Unity 2D has been switched off for low power machines – Those of you on low power machines such as those using P3s or Atom Processors, you will notice that Unity 2D no longer exists. If you have a low-powered system, Ubuntu will use the CPU for all your graphics handling.

Apart from the above – there are other changes such as – A new set of fresh wall papers, a new lens has been added – The Photo Lens – lets you search for photos through the Dash, the messaging menu has been cleaned up, there are new status icons for chat / email, the system settings pane has been improved. Many of these changes are noticeable when one is configuring their machines for the first time. I always recommend a fresh installation of the OS and not an upgrade. I don’t know anyone to have any problem while upgrading from 12.04 to 12.10, however, best is to go afresh.

Overall – I would suggest ‘Steer away from 12.10’ Skip this release. Wait for 13.04

Ubuntu 12.04 – Precise Pangolin

Canonical cranks out another winner – Ubuntu Precise Pangolin

The long term support version of the popular Ubuntu Linux was released earlier this year in April with much fanfare and ‘hype’. The OS is out for last 5 months and the first update to the version is already out. The new update only adds to the stability and hardware compatibility.

Ubuntu has improved the the use of Linux Operating systems on desktops & laptops and changed the world’s perception towards free and open source software. Ubuntu team keeps cranking out new releases and updates for Ubuntu Desktop operating system and provides the latest and the cost cutting edge technology available in the software market.

The beauty is not that it is free, the irony is that other OS development companies charge end users with dollars. With Ubuntu & many other Linux Desktop operating systems, several applications come freely bundled for unlimited usage and are compatible with many commercially available software.

The critical aspect is that of the User Interface. Conventionally, all Linux desktop operating systems relied on Gnome or KDE for the user interface and since those were the only two feature rich user interfaces for Linux OS, there was no uniqueness in linux distributions. With Ubuntu, the user gets a fresh and contemporary, forward looking user interface which the Ubuntu team has developed and packaged along with their latest release – The Precise Pangolin.

Ubuntu has so far released 16 versions of their OS and have a clearly defined road map for the next 5 years, which demonstrates their vision and commitment towards the Operating System. It would be interesting to see how in the years to come, Ubuntu penetrates the corporate world with their OS, applications and support packages thereby providing alternative to Operating Systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS.

Some interesting snapshots of the popular desktop system are below.