Would You Get an Ubuntu Tattoo Like This?

As the editor of an online Ubuntu  website it’d be fair to surmise that i’m fairly committed to the Ubuntu project.

But committed enough to get the Ubuntu logo tattooed on to my arm? Not quite.

article','http://wiki.ubuntu.com']);" target="_blank">Benjamin Kerensa has no such qualms: here he is showing off his newly daubed Ubuntu logo: -

Circle of Friends

Let’s hope Canonical don’t change the Ubuntu logo/branding colours anytime soon, eh? ;)

Via benjamin kerensa

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Ubuntu 12.04 Development Update

(This is a guest post from Ubuntu developer and Canonical employee Daniel Holbach, which was originally posted here.)

Ubuntu Development Update

<br />It is always an exciting time when a new release opens. As a developer you get to finally merge the feature you would have liked to see in the last release already and you can merge changes you submitted to Upstream. We have a 27 weeks until the new release gets out, so lots of time to get everything into a tip-top LTS-release worthy state.

As mentioned in the last update, Matthias Klose and Colin Watson have been coordinating the opening of the ‘precise’ series, here’s a few key changes that have already landed: an updated toolchain and a 3.1 linux pre-release, among 570+ other uploads to ‘precise’. It’s a great to see this well-oiled machinery getting to work at the start of every cycle and everybody working hard to reduce the delta between Ubuntu and Upstream (including Debian).

If you want to get involved with Ubuntu development, now is a great time. You still have 27 weeks left to get your great work out to millions of happy LTS users.


Ubuntu Open Week
This week Ubuntu Open Week happened (in fact, today is the last day), with heaps of great sessions about all kinds of Ubuntu topics. Daniel ‘dholbach’ Holbach gave a double session about “Getting started with Ubuntu Development” and got loads of great questions from the audience.

Ubuntu Developer Summit
UDS is kicking off on 31st October in sunny Florida. This is where all the plans for 12.04 are going to be discussed and long lists of work items are written. Check out Stefano Rivera’s list of specification blueprints that were last registered to get an idea what’s going to get discussed.

Spotlight: Ubuntu Friendly

While we were working together in Berlin, I had a chat with Ara Pulido, who has been leading the Ubuntu Friendly effort.

Hello Ara, you are one of the heads behind “Ubuntu Friendly”? For those of us who don’t know about it yet, can you explain what it is?

Ubuntu Friendly is a programme that tries to collect hardware test results from the Ubuntu community and present the list of systems in a way that is useful for other Ubuntu users. The website shows a rated list of systems based on those test results. For those who are already wondering, the rating is calculated automatically based on the results, there is no room for subjection here. We divide the components of a system in “core” and “additional” components. If a system fails one of the core components, it gets only 1 star, and if it passes all the core components it gets 3 stars (good enough!). The remaining two stars are given by additional components. A submission can also get small rating penalties if the user skipped a core test because they didn’t have the peripherals needed to do the testing (like an external monitor, or a USB stick).

What is the state of things in Ubuntu Friendly now? Does it already have everything you and your team want?

During the 11.10 cycle we have developed the backend and we have polished the System Testing test suite, so it tests only hardware stuff. Right now we just released the beta of the programme and we want the programme to be stable once 12.04 LTS gets released. In order to achieve that we need to get as much data and feedback as possible in the next months, so we learn which are the pain points and fix the site and client accordingly.

How many people did you have contributing already?

We are very pleased with the results we are getting in the first week of Ubuntu Friendly. We released the beta a week ago and we already got more than 500 submissions!, 135 of them with more than 3 stars and it increases every day!

Is there anything people can do to help out?

Yes! The simplest way to help is obviously testing and submitting your system. It is very easy to do and it won’t take more than 15 minutes to complete. We have some nice instructions and a screencast to help you getting started at: http://friendly.ubuntu.com/participate/. If you are very excited with the project and want to do more, you can join us in the Ubuntu Friendly Squad and help us shaping up the tools and tests for the next cycle!

What are your plans for 12.04?

As said, in the 11.10 cycle we have focused in setting the needed infrastructure to make Friendly happen, but there is still a lot to be polished until we can remove our A-Team font BETA message from the site We will be focusing in improving the test suite and rating calculation based on the results and feedback that we get. The other big change for 12.04 LTS will be the System Testing UI. We know it does not look fancy enough and that’s why we have decided to just completely rewrite the UI, so we can make it look nicer and more integrated in the Ubuntu experience.

Thanks a bunch for the interview! You rock!

Thanks to you!

Get Involved

  1. Read the Introduction to Ubuntu Development. It’s a short article which will help you understand how Ubuntu is put together, how the infrastructure is used and how we interact with other projects.
  2. Follow the instructions in the Getting Set Up article. A few simple commands, a registration at Launchpad and you should have all the tools you need, and you’re ready to go.
  3. Check out our instructions for how to fix a bug in Ubuntu, they come with small examples that make it easier to visualise what exactly you need to do.

Find something to work on

Pick a bitesize bug. These are the bugs we think should be easy to fix. Another option is to help out in one of our initiatives.

In addition to that there are loads more opportunities over at Harvest.

Getting in touch

There are many different ways to contact Ubuntu developers and get your questions answered.
  • Be interactive and reach us most immediately: talk to us in #ubuntu-motu on irc.freenode.net.
  • Follow mailing lists and get involved in the discussions: ubuntu-devel-announce (announce only, low traffic), ubuntu-devel (high-level discussions), ubuntu-devel-discuss (fairly general developer discussions).
  • Stay up to date and follow the ubuntudev account on Facebook, Identi.ca or Twitter.


Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Desktop To Be Supported for Five Years

Next April’s release of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will provide desktop users with five years of support and maintenance releases Canonical have announced. 

Previous ‘Long Term Support’ releases provided 3 years of support for desktop users, whilst 5 for server users.

The increased support period is a ‘response’ to the popularity of LTS usage in businesses, Canonical have said.

The five year support period, which consists of 2 years of hardware updates and three years of maintenance updates, will make Ubuntu 12.04 a desirable choice for companies seeking to roll out or upgrade large deployment of Ubuntu, with a mind on costs and technology.

‘ability to keep pace’

“Ubuntu has always been known for its ability to keep pace with the latest applications and hardware”, Ubuntu’s Engineering Director at Canonical, Rick Spencer says.

"But as our user-base grows and matures the ability to plan for the longer term is vital. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will give desktop users the perfect combination of keeping pace with hardware changes and extended support depending on their needs".

Support for Ubuntu’s previous LTS release, Ubuntu 10.04, ends in April 2013.

Ubuntu 12.04 is scheduled for release in April 2012.



Five Alternative Terminal Emulator Apps for Ubuntu

Though for many users it is likely comforting to know that use of the terminal can be largely, if not entirely avoided with today’s crop of shiny Linux distributions, there are those among the community who love the raw utility of the command-line.

Others still find they need the Linux terminal to effectively accomplish certain tasks.

Applications used to access the Linux terminal from the desktop are known as terminal emulators.  For example, the default terminal emulator in Ubuntu’s latest stable release is called Gnome Terminal.

While Gnome Terminal gets the job done (and with an accommodating feature set that is easy to overlook), there are still some areas in which, by nature of its design, it can fall a bit short.  That’s okay, though, because the variety of use-cases has lead to a variety of terminal emulators.  Which one suits your particular needs?


Tabs are a huge step up over multiple windows, but what if you want to actually see several processes at once?  For example, you may need to manipulate some configuration files while at the same time browsing your filesystem or viewing a manpage.

Being a tiled terminal emulator, Terminator is especially great if you have a generous amount of screen real estate and spend any significant amount of time in the terminal.  It allows you to split it’s main window into as many tiles anyone could ever need.  Thus, one could conceivably get along just fine with only one instance of Terminator opened at a time


Tilda is a configurable “Quake-style” terminal emulator, meaning that it slides down from the top of your desktop when a user-configurable key (default is F1) is pressed.

Simply put, Tilda’s strongsuit is that it stays hidden from view until it is needed, at which point appears conveniently without your needing to search through menus to launch the application.  It is especially useful for one-off quick tasks such as installing or removing a package in apt.  In fact, though, all of those things can be said about any of the Quake-style apps mentioned here.  What sets Tilda apart is that its set of user-changable preferences allow it the flexibility to be capable of more complex tasks.

Specifically, its size can be configured so that it can be “maximized”, and a scroll bar can be toggled on and off.  Also, it looks quite pretty, if you’re into that sort of thing.  Its appearance (transparency, orientation, borders, animation[!], etc.) can be tweaked to your liking.

Preferences are available by right-clicking on an instance of Tilda and selecting the Preferences item from the menu that appears.

It is worth mentioning that Tilda hasn’t seen a new release in quite a while.


Guake is similar in functionality to Tilda, but has less “eye-candy”, and is a bit less configurable.  That being said, it also has some features that Tilda does not (such as a keyboard shortcut to switch tabs, which many Yakuake fans will be accustomed to).

A handle on the bottom right corner allows click-and-drag resizing, and users can also set the main window height in preferences.  The window’s border can’t be removed, which is a bit disappointing, but the scrollbar can be toggled on and off and transparency is adjustable.


Quake-style terminal app Stjerm seems to be overlooked, perhapse because it is configurable only via command-line or a text file.

That being said, the options stjerm provides are comparable to those of Guake and Tilda.  It’s also very lightweight, features tabs, and an option to toggle fullscreen.  Keyboard shortcuts for tabs and fullscreen-toggle would be a welcome addition, and their absence will likely be a dealbreaker for some.  Stjerm can be made to launch on startup with any combination of parameters (add it as an item in Startup Preferences), which makes remembering the launch options a non-issue.

To start Stjerm from Unity and specify the f1 key as the toggle key to hide/display stjerm, you would press alt+f2 and input:

stjerm -k f1

As always, experiment with different preferences to find your own sweet spot.


For those who use Kubuntu or don’t mind using KDE applications, Yakuake is a great option.

In spite of being KDE-native, it seemed quite responsive under Natty on a very modest netbook, and in terms of its featureset and polish, it feels at least as mature as any of the other applications on this list, but has the advantage of currently being developed more actively.


How Well Did Your Ubuntu 11.10 Upgrade Go?

Ubuntu 11.10 has been out for little while now, so chances are many of you have upgraded.

If you choose to upgrade via Update Manager (that is you saw the prompt below and clicked ‘Yes, Upgrade Now’) I’d love to know how it went for you.

oads/2011/10/have-you-upgraded-via-update-manager.jpg" >

Why Do You want to Know?

In all my years of using Ubuntu I have always done a ‘fresh’ install (that is I’ve reformatted my Ubuntu partition and reinstalled it from a Live CD/USB). This is partly out of habit; when I first started using Ubuntu there were often drawbacks or issues that resulted from performing a ‘direct upgrade’.

But has it got any better? How did yours go?


Tanglet: Boggle Style Game for Ubuntu

I’m currently addicted to various Boggle-style word games available via the Android market.

Needing to ‘get a fix217; when on Ubuntu at my desk I headed into the Ubuntu Software Centre to see if I could find something similar.

What is a Boggle Style Game?

The premise of ‘boggle style word games’ is to find as many words as possible from adjacent letters in a grid.

Words can be created by joining letters horizontally, vertically or diagonally in any direction, with the only rules being that letters have to be next to each other; words must be of at least 3 letters in length; and each letter can only be used once a single word.


‘Tanglet’ was the only result I found in the Software Centre, but as it’s pretty comprehensive and well designed there isn’t much need to find something else.

Tanglet word game in Ubuntu

To help make things that bit more interesting Tanglet chucks in a variety of play modes. These range from simple countdowns to ’3 incorrect words and the game ends’.

tanglet timer modes

Other features include a larger board (with a 4letter word minimum), and a score board for you to log your progress.

Tanglet is available to install via the Ubuntu Software Centre in Ubuntu 10.10 onwards.

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Alpha Release of Linux Spirit Font Available For Download

An alpha release of Mint Spirit – a new system font designed for Linux Mint Debian Edition – has been made available for download.ng>

Mint Spirit - The new font for Linux Mint

The font face has designed to give Linux Mint Debian Edition its ‘own identity’ and is said to draw inspiration from Futura, Gillius, NeoGothis and Ubuntu fonts.

The aim of the font, the developer says, is to create a ‘clear, fresh, nice and modern typeface usable for text and screen rendering, based on the LinuxMint logo.’

Alpha release

As an alpha release Mint Spirit is far from being a readily drop-in-replacement for more established fonts, although basic Unicode support is included in the alpha release.

The beta release will contain support for Turkish, Central and Eastern European languages, as well as ‘complete OpenType features’ and other glyph variations.

A web font version is also in the works.

Download Mint Sprint Alpha font

Linuxmint forums via libregraphicsworld


Online Linux Games Store ‘Gameolith’ Launches UK and European Storefronts

The online Linux game download store Gameolith have launched two new sites for European and UK customers to purchase games in their own currencies. 

Prior to this launch all users purchased games in United States Dollars ($) irrespective of their locale.

Accessing Gameolith.eu and Gameolith.co.uk presents uses with game titles in Euros (€) and Pound Sterling (£) respectively.

The prices of games across the sites remain priced the same as before; so Brits and Eurozone customers won’t find themselves being charged more: a $4.99 games still costs £3.09/€3.59

Login details & games prices

User accounts/login details are said to work across all three sites so there should be no need for re-registering.



New Movie Scope Brings Rich Meta-Data Filters to Movie Files in Ubuntu

Browsing  your movie files could soon become a lot easier in Ubuntu. 

A new ‘Movie scope’ in development for Ubuntu’s Unity File Lens aims to enhance browsing your locally available video files by adding searchable movie-related meta-data.

So rather than R16;just’ searching for the file name, the scope will let you search through other movie-related metadata, such as filtering though your files by release year, genre, actor names, and, potentially, a lot more.

For example: Say I want to watch a movie with (the wonderful) Julie Delpy in. I would open the Unity File Lens, select ‘Videos’ from the filter pane and enter her name in the search bar. All of my local movie files would then be filtered down so that only those movies starring Julie Delpy were left on display.

And then there’s the look: How much nicer do movie files look when presented with their “artwork” rather than a random thumbnail from the movie file? Very is the answer.

You can see the Movie Scope in action in the video below.

Via untriangle


Five Pretty Awesome GNOME Shell Themes

One of the great things about GNOME Shell is that it’s comprehensibly themeable – from the top panel and applet menus to the awesome on-screen keyboard.

Below are five are five of my top GNOME Shell theme picks from those we’ve featured or been ‘tipped’ about recently. Don’t know how to install GNOME Shell themes? We’ve got that covered.


elementary OS gnome Shell theme (not official)

London Smoke


Smooth Inset

Got a different favourite? Working on a theme you think we should feature? Let us know via the usual methods.


How To Install GNOME-Shell Themes in Ubuntu 11.10

Earlier today we posted five of our favourite themes for GNOME Shell.

Chances are you’ll want to try a few of those themes out on your desktop – but how to do it?

Providing you’re using Ubuntu 11.10 and GNOME-Shell, it’s actually quite simple once we’ve installed a few odds and ends first…


The first thing we need to do (aside from ensuring we actually have GNOME-Shell installed) is to install the handy ‘user-theme-selector’ extension.

This isn’t provided in Ubuntu 11.10 out of the box but it is available to download in easily-installable .deb format.

First download and install:

Once completed install the next part: -

If you don’t already have it you’ll also need the GNOME Tweak Tool installed, too: -

You’ll now need to log out and back in for the extension to be ‘picked up’ by the system, then enable the extension from the ‘Shell Extensions’ tab in the ‘Advanced Settings/GNOME Tweak Tool’ app.

All that’s left to do is log out and back in one more time so that the extension is fully enabled.

Installing Themes

The hard part is over: now all you need to do is have downloaded a GNOME Shell theme you like (see our list of 5 pretty nice ones) and install it.
  • Open the Advanced Settings/GNOME tweak tool
  • Choose ‘Themes’ from the left-hand pane
  • Click the ‘(none)’ button and navigate to and select your downloaded theme
  • You will see a small pop-up telling you that the theme installed correctly
  • Select it from the drop-down menu next to ‘Shell Theme’.
  • The theme will be applied instantly 

Not all themes available online are packaged correctly. In these instances you will need to create a hidden ‘.themes’ directory in your Home folder and place extracted themes inside there.


Third Gen System 76 Lemur Laptop Goes on Sale

The third generation model in Ubuntu-dedicated hardware company System 76′s Lemur Ultra laptop line is available to buy.

c="http://cdn.omgubuntu.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/lemur-ec93d28b0c74b35-500x247.png" alt="The New Lemur Laptop" width="500" height="247" />

The 14.1″ portable starts at $599 for the base configuration, which sports a more powerful Intel i5 CPU clocked at 2.4Ghz than its predecessor (whose base system ran with an Intel  i3 @ 1.2Ghz); a bumped-up 720p HD-friendly graphics chip, but the same 2GB of DDR3 RAM and lacklustre 250GB HDD spinning at 5400 RPM as found in the previous model.

The good news is that Ubuntu 11.10 64bit is installed by default, meaning you won’t need to faff around upgrading should you choose to buy one the Lemur.

As with most System 76 devices, users are free to customise configurations based on their needs – including faster i5 and i7 CPUs, additional RAM, longer-lasting batteries and a slew of HDD and SSD sizes – but this does add to the overall cost.

System 76 | Lemur Ultra 

Thanks to James


It’s ‘Game Over’ for Linux. Apparently.

Unlike trains or buses you can pretty much bank on predictions of Linux’s impending doom, demise and decay arriving almost to schedule. 

Coming barely a day after the release of the latest linux kernel, Mike Gualtieri of technology research group Forrester has declared that it’s “game over” for Linux‘s plan of worldwide domination.

"It struggled so hard to dominate the world.” he writes in a blog post assertively titled Mobile Proliferation Killed Linux Hopes For World Domination. “It was the little open source engine that could, but it didn't."

He cites the well-trodden sub-2% stat as evidence of its failure, compounded, he argues, by the arrival and subsequent dominance of mobile platforms such as iOS and Android.

Now, we all know that Linux is just a kernel, and that Ubuntu, for example, is an operating system built around it.

Last time I checked that was true of Android, too.

But, just to really demonstrate the noble art of trolling, Gualtieri goes on to state: -

 " Open source never seems to be the innovator. Instead, it seems to disrupt pricing power for established technologies."

Shall I?



‘My Weather Indicator’ Adds Geolocation Support

Panel-based weather applet My Weather Indicator has added geolocation support, providing input free location detection based on your IP.

With many of us used to mobile apps and online weather sites using of geolocation to serve up weather info based on our country or county the idea of having to manually search for then enter my location into a weather app feels, well, a bit old hat.

So, in trying to keep up with the times, the latest version of panel-based weather reporting applet ‘My Weather Indicator has added in IP-based geo-location detection.

My Weather Indicator in Ubuntu 11.10

Not perfect

As stoked as I am to see geolocation used I have to admit that it’s not perfect, at least not yet.

I live in Exeter, UK but My Weather Indicator deduced my location as Bristol, UK – some 80 miles away.

Thankfully the Indicator retains the ability to manually enter/search for your location, so it only took a couple of seconds to set things right.

It would be interesting to see if other application settings could be adjusted depending on locale – for example here in the UK we typically display wind speeds in ‘Mph’ rather than the default settings of ‘Km/h’.


The latest My Weather Indicator can be installed in Ubuntu 11.10 by adding the 'Atareao' PPA to your Software Sources.


After doing this just update and install 'My Weather Indicator' (not the similarly named indicator-weather) from the Ubuntu Software Centre.

Via atareao.es (Spanish)


In-Store Ubuntu Displays, PCs Come to China

Imagine walking into a PC store and being greeted by a large Ubuntu-branded display with a host of Ubuntu-powered devices for sale.

Well, if you’re a PC-seeking shopper in China you’ll have over ample opportunity to see just such a display, as n-china/" onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://blog.canonical.com']);" target="_blank">Canonical’s new retail partnership with Dell puts Ubuntu-powered machines in over 200 stores across the country.

Beijing store Ubuntu display

This partnership sees Ubuntu pre-installed on a range of Dell computers, and backed up by colourful and informative in-store marketing. Staff will be trained in the advantages of Ubuntu so that shoppers are given helpful and accurate information about Ubuntu and what it offers.

If you’re going to try and reach your goal of 200 million Ubuntu users by 2015 then promoting Ubuntu in a country of 1.3 Billion isn’t a bad place to start, is it?


Ubuntu 12.04 Development update

(This is a guest post from Ubuntu developer and Canonical employee Daniel Holbach, which was originally posted here.)

Ubuntu Development Update

Wow, one week into the release cycle and already and by the time of writing, we had 921 uploads to precise coming in already. This is very exciting, because a bunch of things are happening at the same time:
  • new features and bug fixes are brought in from Upstream (including Debian)
  • the delta between Ubuntu and Debian is reduced
  • many of the fixes in precise will result in stable release updates (SRUs) for oneiric

81 people already got their contributions into Ubuntu (in form of uploads) and there are going to be many many more.

So what’s exactly happening right now?

Ubuntu Developers are currently going through a long list of packages that received updates and changes during the last cycle and check which new releases were put out, both in Debian and other Upstream projects. Luckily for Debian, we have a tool called merge-o-matic, which spits out a list of differences between Ubuntu and Debian, which make it easier to spot, if changes in Ubuntu can simply be discarded (this is what we want – the closer to Debian and Upstream, the better), and where we might have to merge changes. This is also a great opportunity to make sure that those changes are forwarded to Debian and Upstream, so they can get included there. Some of these merges can be quite hairy, others are easier. The packaging guide has an article about merging, in case you are interested and have played around with Ubuntu development tools already.

The other thing that is happening is obviously the planning of the Ubuntu Developer Summit. Next week a lot of people are going to be in sessions at UDS to discuss all kinds of feature work in and around Ubuntu. Make sure you participate remotely, if you are interested, not at UDS and have time.

A few people have blogged about their plans and ideas for the next cycle already. Colin Watson, who is in charge of big parts of the foundations of Ubuntu, particularly the installer, mentions work in the image building pipeline and the general maintenance of the development release. Daniel Holbach (your friendly editor of this post) blogged about his ideas about opportunities for new developers to join the project.

You can also check the time-line of new blueprints for UDS being registered, and subscribe to them to be notified of changes.


Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day
This year we are going to have the first ever Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day. The goal of this is obvious: take the time to thank somebody who put a lot of effort into Ubuntu to make it shine. Tell your friends and participate!

Ubuntu Developer Summit
UDS is kicking off on 31st October in sunny Florida. This is where all the plans for 12.04 are going to be discussed and long lists of work items are written. Check out Stefano Rivera’s list of specification blueprints that were last registered to get an idea what’s going to get discussed.

Spotlight: The Ubuntu Security Team

Yesterday I had a brief chat with Jamie Strandboge about the security team and their plans for precise. During the release of 11.10 the team put a lot of measures in place to help contributors to Ubuntu’s security world more effectively.

A good question is obviously: What does the team do to make Ubuntu more secure?

The work of the team falls into different categories. Of course a lot of the default choices have a great impact already (no open ports, etc.), also a lot of work went into making sure that all Ubuntu packages are built with the best security capabilities of our toolchain, other feature work like AppArmor and the Uncomplicated Firewall also help.

Then there is this massive amount of work reacting to published security fixes. For all of Ubuntu’s releases we have to make sure that the security fixes are integrated as quickly as possible, without the risk of regressions. (And this is an area you can easily get involved yourself, more on that in a bit.)

To cope with this Jamie’s team rotates roles in the team on a weekly basis, so somebody is always there to work on getting security fixes published, somebody else to help with reviewing changes and so on.

In the last cycle the documentation and tools were improved, so if you want to get involved, everything’s ready for you already. The security team updates this list of highlighted packages every week. You can also join the weekly meeting to get up to speed on what’s happening and get to introduce yourself.

If you think about it for a minute: is there a better way to contribute to Ubuntu than improving security for millions of users out there?

Get to know Jamie and his team: they are a very friendly bunch!

Get Involved

  1. Read the Introduction to Ubuntu Development. It’s a short article which will help you understand how Ubuntu is put together, how the infrastructure is used and how we interact with other projects.
  2. Follow the instructions in the Getting Set Up article. A few simple commands, a registration at Launchpad and you should have all the tools you need, and you’re ready to go.
  3. Check out our instructions for how to fix a bug in Ubuntu, they come with small examples that make it easier to visualise what exactly you need to do.

Find something to work on

Pick a bitesize bug. These are the bugs we think should be easy to fix. Another option is to help out in one of our initiatives.

In addition to that there are loads more opportunities over at Harvest.

Getting in touch

There are many different ways to contact Ubuntu developers and get your questions answered.
  • Be interactive and reach us most immediately: talk to us in #ubuntu-motu on irc.freenode.net.
  • Follow mailing lists and get involved in the discussions: ubuntu-devel-announce (announce only, low traffic), ubuntu-devel (high-level discussions), ubuntu-devel-discuss (fairly general developer discussions).
  • Stay up to date and follow the ubuntudev account on Facebook, Identi.ca or Twitter.


Seif Needs Your Help To Gather Some Statistics On Gedit

I am working on a dashboard (start page) for Gedit to make it easier for users to see their most commonly used files.

My initial idea looks something like this:

ekyogre.com']);">(The thumbnails will view some parts of the content of the file.)

We are not sure that for Gedit that “Frequent” is of interest for us, however before we take any decisions we decided to appeal to all gedit users who have been using Zeitgeist for over a month to run the following script in a terminal by typing:

python usage.py

and paste the results as a comment on this post. Help us make gedit more awesome!

Here’s the download link for the script again:

Download Gedit Usage Script



Ubuntu 11.10 at ARM TechCon 2011 [Video]

Canonical are putting a lot of effort into Ubuntu on ARM, and based on the small glimpses seen at this years ARM TechCon in California it’s effort that’s paying off. 

The awesome Charbax from cle','http://ARMDevices.net']);" target="_blank">ARMDevices.net was at the event and, as dependable as ever, he caught up with Canonical at their event booth to see what’s what and what will be.

In his video snapshot, embedded below, you can listen to Canonical discuss their push into Ubuntu Server for ARM (which Canonical are hoping is going to be huge); get a brief summary of ARM plans for 12.04; and, perhaps most importantly, have a good ol’ fashioned gawp at Ubuntu 11.10 running on a variety of ARM devices…

Thanks to Hendrik

No related posts.


Nifty ‘Tea Timer’ Unity Applet Gets Updated

Kettle’s on! Pizza’s in the oven! Only 23 minutes until a new episode of ['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://www.youtube.com']);" target="_blank">Inspector Spacetimeall are situations where keeping an eye on the time is important.

Now hopefully you’re not like me (i.e. useless at doing so) but, should you be, then TeaTime is a neat Unity-launcher based alarm applet that works wonders.

Better yet, it has recently been updated with Ubuntu 11.10 support, and an audible alert that will keep on ringing until click on the alarm launcher.

Tea Timer applet in use in Ubuntu 11.10

Sure, the user-base for such an applet is going to be niche, but that doesn’t stop it from being a super handy app to have lying around.


Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 users can nab themselves the applet by adding the PPA of Pavel Rojtberg (Tea Time’s developer) to your software sources, updating and then installing ‘tea time’ from the Ubuntu Software Centre.


Once installed just search for ‘tea time’ in the Dash, drag it  to the Unity launcher and position as desired.

To add an alarm first click on the application icon, then double-click on ‘new entry’ to provide a name and duration.

Tea time for Ubuntu lets you set your own alarms

Once ready press the ‘Start Timer’ button to begin the countdown.


Canonical Seek To Allay Windows 8 ‘Secure Boot’ Fears

Canonical, along with Red Hat, have today published a white paper on the potential implications, and benefits, of “Secure boot” for Linux.

'Secure Boot', a BIOS technology that seeks to safeguard against malware, works by keeping 'secret keys' within the system itself. These keys are then used to "sign" anything that wishes to run – such as operating systems. If an operating system isn't signed by a matching key then it won’t be allowed to boot.

But it's not just restrictive to software vendors either as Red Hat's Matthew Garrett explains: -

"A hardware vendor cannot run their hardware inside the EFI environment unless their drivers are signed with a key that's included in the system firmware. If you install a new graphics card that either has unsigned drivers, or drivers that are signed with a key that's not in your system firmware, you'll get no graphics support in the firmware."

The technology isn't new; most motherboards shipped today support Secure Boot but have it disabled by default. For the roll out of Windows 8 Microsoft  will require Secure Boot to be enabled by default.

Now, that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing: security is great idea. The issue is with Microsoft’s idea of how Secure Boot should be implemented – one that makes it nigh on difficult for software to be added to the “approved” list – a proposal that will see users of alternate operating systems, such as Ubuntu, placed at a disadvantage.

Microsoft have said that whilst they require Secure Boot to be enabled by default on Windows 8-toting machines they place no requirement on system manufacturers to provide users with an ‘off’ switch for Secure Boot. Fair enough.

But will OEMs go to the trouble of adding in an ‘off’ switch? That’s one of the worries.


Canonical and Red Hat propose a different solution in their whitepaper, one that provides users with both the security afforded by Secure Boot, but also allows the addition of additional software and OSes – such as Linux – to the approval list.

This would, it’s hoped, allow users to run both Windows 8 and Linux, be it installed or on live media, on a PC with Secure Boot enabled.

Further still, the white paper suggests that PCs ship with a user-friendly interface for disabling/enabling secure boot altogether.

Read the whitepaper

It will be interesting to see what impact the suggestion has on this issue, and with over 16,000 people having signed the Free Software Foundation’s statement on "Secure Boot" the chances of this issue meekly subsiding are small. 



Series: Introduction to Ubuntu Development – Part 5

This is the fifth article in a series to explain the basics of Ubuntu Development in a way that does not require huge amounts of background and goes through concepts, tools, processes and infrastructure step by step. If you like the article or have questions or found bugs, please leave a comment.
/>Thanks a lot to the Ubuntu Packaging Guide team for their work on this!

Packaging From Scratch

You have found an exciting new piece of software, it needs exposure to the wider world by getting it into Ubuntu or a PPA, so you have decided to package it.

Checking the Programme

The first stage in packaging is to get the released tar from upstream (we call the authors of applications "upstream") and check that it compiles and runs.

This guide will take you through packaging a simple application called KQRCode which has been posted on KDE-apps.org. Download version 0.4 from Sourceforge and put it in a new directory.

Now uncompress it:

$ tar xf kqrcode-0.4.tar.gz $ cd kqrcode-0.4

This application uses the CMake build system so we want to run cmake to prepare for compilation:

$ mkdir build $ cd build $ cmake ..

CMake will check for the required dependencies, in this case it tells us we need Qt and KDE libraries. We also need GCC, packagers can install build-essential which brings this in and is assumed to be installed for all packages. If you do not have the development files for these libraries installed it will fail, you can install them and run CMake again:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential libqt4-dev kdelibs5-dev $ cmake ..

Now you can compile the source:

$ make

Running this gives some errors about missing headers. This means there are other libraries missing which were not checked by CMake. Make a note to inform upstream of this problem. packages.ubuntu.com can be used to find which packages these headers come from, install these packages and continue the compile:

$ sudo apt-get install libqrencode-dev libzbar-dev libzbarqt-dev $ make

If the compile completes successfully you can install and run the programme:

$ sudo make install $ kqrcode

Starting a Package

bzr-builddeb includes a plugin to create a new package from a template, the plugin is a wrapper around the dh_make command:

$ sudo apt-get install dh-make $ bzr dh-make kqrcode 0.4 kqrcode-0.4.tar.gz

When it asks what type of package type s for single binary.

This will import the code into a branch and add the debian/ packaging directory. Have a look at the contents. Most of the files it adds are only needed for specialist packages (such as Emacs modules) so you can start by removing the optional example files:

$ cd kqrcode/debian $ rm *ex *EX

You should now customise each of the files.

In debian/changelog change the version number to an Ubuntu version: 0.4-0ubuntu1 (upstream version 0.4, Debian version 0, Ubuntu version 1). Also change unstable to the current development Ubuntu release such as oneiric.

Much of the package building work is done by a series of scripts called debhelper. The exact behaviour of debhelper changes with new major versions, the compat file instructs debhelper which version to act as. You will generally want to set this to the most recent version which is 8.

control contains all the metadata of the package. The first paragraph describes the source package. The second and and following paragraphs describe the binary packages to be built. We will need to add the packages needed to compile the application to Build-Depends: so set that to:

Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7.0.50~), cmake, libqt4-dev, kdelibs5-dev, libqrencode-dev, libzbar-dev, libzbarqt-dev

You will also need to fill in a description of the programme in the Description: field.

copyright needs to be filled in to follow the licence of the upstream source. According to the kqrcode/COPYING file this is GNU GPL 3 or later.

docs contains any upstream documentation files you think should be included in the final package.

README.source and README.Debian are only needed if your package has any non-standard features, we don't so you can delete them.

source/format can be left as is, this describes the version format of the source package and should be 3.0 (quilt).

rules is the most complex file. This is a Makefile which compiles the code and turns it into a binary package. Fortunately most of the work is automatically done these days by debhelper 7 so the universal % Makefile target just runs the dh script which will run everything needed.

Finally commit the code to your packaging branch:

$ bzr commit

This is the fourth article in a series to explain the basics of Ubuntu Development in a way that does not require huge amounts of background and goes through concepts, tools, processes and infrastructure step by step. If you like the article or have questions or found bugs, please leave a comment.

Thanks a lot to the Ubuntu Packaging Guide team for their work on this!

Building the package

Now we need to check that our packaging successfully compiles the package and builds the .deb binary package:

$ bzr builddeb

This should compile the package and place the result in ../build-area. You can view the contents of the package with:

$ lesspipe kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb

Install the package and check it works:

$ sudo dpkg --install kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb

Next Steps

Even if it builds the .deb binary package, your packaging may have bugs. Many errors can be automatically detected by our tool lintian which can be run on both the source .dsc metadata file and the .deb binary package:

$ lintian kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1.dsc $ lintian kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb

A description of each of the problems it reports can be found on the lintian website.

After making a fix to the packaging you can rebuild without having to build from scratch using:

$ debuild -nc

FIXME is there a UDD equivalent? Bug https://bugs.launchpad.net/bzr-builddeb/+bug/816376

Having checked that the package builds locally you should ensure it builds on a clean system using pbuilder:

$ bzr builddeb -S $ cd ../build-area $ pbuilder-dist oneiric build kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1.dsc

When you are happy with your package you will want others to review it. You can upload the branch to Launchpad for review:

$ bzr push lp:~<lp-username>/+junk/kqrcode-package

You could also upload the source package to REVU for review:

$ bzr builddeb -S $ cd .. $ dput revu kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1.dsc

You will need to log in to REVU before you can upload to it. The package must also be correctly signed by the GPG key you have in Launchpad. See the REVU wiki page for full details.

Uploading it to a PPA (Personal Package Archive) will ensure it builds and give an easy way for you and others to test the binary packages. You will need to set up a PPA in Launchad then upload with dput:

$ dput ppa:<lp-username> kqrcode_0.4-0ubuntu1.dsc

See uploading for more information.

You can ask for reviews in #ubuntu-motu IRC channel, or on the MOTU mailing list. There might also be a more specific team you could ask such as the Kubuntu team for KDE packages.


Recent Unity Updates Bring Changes to Workspaces Overview, Alt+Tab & Unity Launcher

With Beta 2 of Ubuntu 11.10 quickly approaching us – it’s due on September 22nd – things haven’t exactly been standing still in development land.

Below are a number of minor, but pretty noteworthy, visual tweaks that Ubuntu 11.10 has received over the last week.

Alt+Tab changes>
Windows displayed in the Alt+Tab window switcher are now all the same height; only the width varies between applications.

Tapping down whilst highlighintg an app icon in the switcher now reveals a larger preview with a new orange border for highlighting.


The Unity Launcher,, “Big Fat Button”, Workspace Switcher, Lenses and Track launcher icon all use the “average background colour” of your wallpaper – just as the Dash and Panel have done for the last few releases.

The result is stunning in action, as demonstrated in the short video below: -

Window Snapping

I won’t call it “Aero Snap”, but I will call it less blinding: the golden effect when dragging a window to the edge of your screen has been toned down in recent updates: -


The “Workspaces Overview” has a tighter, more compact look, complete with orange border for “active/selected” workspace and the dimming out of workspaces without an active application on.

Software Centre

The revamped Ubuntu Software Centre has had a detailed eye cast of it, with recent updates brining tighter spacing and less padding, along with less gaudy headers (no more orange), a much better banner, and other subtle improvements.

To keep you abreast of installation progress the Software Centre has a new look toolbar-based ‘spinner’: -

Accessibility wise, the Software Centre now plays nicely with High Contrast themes: -


The Dash and Lenses now sport slightly bigger icons.