Gnome-Shell gets a Live CD

GNOME-Shell is very nearly upon us – but it’s been an absolute age since I last played with it myself (been knee deep in Natty, folks!).

Work on it, regardless of my attention, soldiers on apace.

GNOME Shell LiveCD

A LiveCD/LiveUSB of GNOME-Shell is now available for curious folks to test. The LiveCD is built using OpenSUSE (not Ubuntu) and is not designed for actual installation.

.iso downloads for 32bit and 64bit users can be found @ this link.

UI changes

Elsewhere in Shell-land David Zeuthen’s stunning Calendar applet redesign made its d├ębut.


Making workspaces work

Jakub Steiner talks about the latest proposal to simplify workspaces in GNOME-Shell by employing ‘auto workspaces’. Not sure I dig this myself, but I can’t deny the elegance of the idea.


One click could help the HeliOS project grab a grant

The non-profit HeliOS Project – which refurbishes old computers (with Linux)  to give to disadvantaged kids in Austin and the Central Texas -  has the chance to grab some much needed funding.

And all you need to do to help is click a "Like" button.

HeliOS have been invited to take part in the ‘Rock A Charity‘ event run by Austin Involved which will see several non-profit charities compete to gain the most ‘Likes’ on their Facebook page over a 48 hour period.

HeliOS explain what happens next: -

"During that party, donors will be able to "purchase" small rocks.  There will be three conference rooms set up, each one representing a charity. Those conference rooms will have a table and a fish bowl in them.  The rock holder chooses which charity he wishes to support by dropping his rock in that non profit’s bowl.

At the end of the evening, each bowl is tallied and the winner receives the total amount of money from all 3 bowls."

The first stage of the contest is running from 9 AM CST on Tuesday, February 1st until 9 AM CST on Thursday, February 3rd only.

‘Likes’ made after this time will not count.


Lubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 to be delayed

Lubuntu news

The second Alpha release of Lubuntu 11.04 will be delayed by up to two weeks, Lubuntu’s Julien Lavergne has announced.

The delay is the result of hardware failure on the system which generates the ISO images for Lubuntu.

This comes as further bad news to the Lubuntu team. Earlier this week Lubuntu 10.10 ISO’s were inadvertently removed from its server. The reason as to why this happened is yet to be determined.


Lotus Symphony fix pack for 64bit Ubuntu users

IBM’ ‘fix-pack’ for Office Suite ‘Lotus Symphony’ was, as with most things Lotus Symphony flavoured,  32bit only.

But 64bit Symphony users are also able to benefit from the bug-fix band-aid thanks to a re-packaged 64bit .deb installer – once again the work of dedicated Lotus user Dylan C.

Dylan remarked to us on his perceived gains from installing the update: –

"[The fix-pack] greatly improves performance [and...] is pretty much on par with LibreOffice in my opinion."

Will that be your opinion too? Download the fix pack @ photofiltre-lx.org/lotus_symphony3_fp1.amd64.deb and find out.

It should go without saying that the pack requires Lotus Symphony to be installed.

Related posts:
  1. LibreOffice 3.3 Released
  2. 64bit language pack .deb for Lotus Symphony
  3. IBM office suite Lotus Symphony 3 released (updated with .64bit .deb)


Wingpanel updates: now less wing, more panel

Anyone pulling the Launchpad branch of Wingpanel – the space saving desktop panel – today may be in for a surprise…

The ‘clipped winged’ approach taken previously has now morphed in to something more panel-esque, at least by default: -
New look elementary desktop?

Why the change? Wingpanel was one of many ideas borne out of experimentation by elementary team as they play around with new concepts and ideas on improving the user-experience for users.

In fact, the new look ‘Wingpanel’ code above resembles a recent elementary desktop mock-up by Dan Rabbit: -

Dan teases, saying that ‘some parts of this mockup exists in real code’, and that the Dock used is not Docky, AWN, Cairo-Dock or ‘any other dock you know.

Intrigued? We’ll be allowed to share a bit on this shortly.

Related posts:

  1. Create a ‘wingpanel’ effect using the default gnome panel
  2. Elementary’s new Wingpanel in action
  3. Wingpanel – elementary’s slick new space-saving panel project


VTerminal is a lightweight pop-up terminal

Long for a pop-up Terminal to appear at the push of a button? Well, you got it with VTerminal.

VTerminal in Ubuntu

VTerminal describes itself as “a dock and DE independent terminal applet for the masses” designed to be a “..mix between the awn-terminal applet and guake“. You press a button and the Terminal appears. Click elsewhere and it auto-hides.

How to use VTerminal

To launch VTerminal simply create a keyboard shortcut (via your preferred method) or create a launcher-icon to launch it like a regular program.

As VTerminal ‘hides’ itself in the background when it loses focus (i.e. you click on another app) you can instantly resume from right where you left off with push of a button.

VTermianl can be tweaked further; right clicking on the open terminal offers a settings menu to configure various keyboard shortcuts, increasing/decreasing the transparency or toggling the auto-hide feature.


Requiring no dock bloat or performance hit to run VTerminal is an ideal app for users of lightweight desktop environments.

Find a pre-packaged 32bit .deb for Ubuntu (along with source tarball)  @ sourceforge.net/projects/vterminal/files

The emerging Elementary experience

Today saw ‘Slingshot’ – a new application launcher project headed up by the elementary team – leak in to the wild. But just what is it and what does it form part of?

Something rather special, it turns out.

Slingshot in Ubuntu

Not just a a’theme team’

To some the elementary project is seen as little more than a ‘team’ of themers. Having first established the project around a GTK+ theme and icon set this isn’t an entirely unjust view to have.

But when looking much closer you soon see that it couldn’t be further from the truth. With their own batch of applications (contacts app Dexter, e-mail client Postler, Noise music player, Marlin) either released already, currently cooking in development or, for some, tried and abandoned the question asked is simple: why so much work and what’s it all for?

To answer this we’ll start with a look at ‘Slingshot’.

Slingshot: A better way to launch applications

"Slingshot brings search and browsing together in an attractive package for both advanced and basic users" Slingshot developer and elementary project member Allen Lowe put rather succinctly when I asked about the project earlier.

But why the need for an entirely new launcher?

"There isn’t any good way to launch apps: menus are cumbersome and they’ve been tried over and over" Said Dan Rabbit.

"A lot of people like Gnome-Do and Synapse; they like the searching, the intelligent suggestions but my mom could never use Synapse – she wouldn’t know what to do. Searching in slingshot should be just as productive as Gnome-Do or Synapse"

Launching Slingshot with Wingpanel is easy: you just hit the apps button and your apps and the launcher catapults  into view.

A notable difference in Slingshot, when compared to Unity’s application places for example, is the use of pages instead of scrolling for listing applications. This, the elementary team say, is better for muscle memory.

All I know is that it’s easier on my eyes!

Early Days

The code for Slingshot is at a very early stage with lots of features and functions that will prove essential to the project missing. Features planned for development over the coming months include: -
  • Drag and Drop apps from Slingshot to dock
  • Application Categories
  • Animations
  • Zeitgeist integration

Slingshot – when available – will even be usable with the traditional GNOME Panel.

Plank: The Dock. Simplified.

Next up is Plank – the ‘new’ dock application that will also form part of the new elementary experience.

Plank: elementary's new dock

Plank is not a new dock at all in many respects – but more so Docky rewritten in Vala. Much of the team is the same, much of the code is the same.

But one thing is not the same: the features.


Plank is all about simplicity. You won’t find distracting docklets or complex configuration windows: it’s just there to manage your windows and provide a home for commonly launched items.

And it has a crazy low memory footprint, to boot.

Early Days

The code for Plank is not yet ready for proper use.   Features planned for development over the coming months include: -
  • Drag and Drop apps
  • Intellihide
  • ‘Pin’ applications to dock
  • Simple animations on removing launchers
  • Badges and labels for launcher icons (e.g. unread count on email app icon)


The rejigging of the ‘simplified’ desktop panel we covered earlier today. It has a clock in the middle and a ‘slingshot’ launcher on the far left… and well, is a panel.

And so… Pantheon

Slingshot, along with the re-worked WingPanel and Plank all form part of a new ‘desktop experience’ from the elementary project codenamed ‘Pantheon’.

Unlike other "all-in-one" environments, such as GNOME-Shell or Unity, Pantheon was made to be modular and lightweight. Don’t like the launcher?  Replace it was something else. Hate the file browser? No problem. With Pantheon you are able to replace any piece you want with something else.

It is unlikely that Slingshot or Plank will makes an appearance in Jupiter – the first release of elementary OS – coming this spring. But they are being developed, and that’s the important thing.

If you’re tempted to try any of the applications out let me remind you that there’s a reason nothing is yet packaged in a PPA or available to download…

Also see: elementary project home page

Zeitgeist is in action in the Natty software centre

Ubuntu Natty developements

Reader ‘Ingo’ spotted something nifty when playing around with his Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha install: Zeitgeist in action in the Ubuntu Software Centre.

What is sure to be pure bird feed to the paranoid pigeons amongst you; the Ubuntu Software Centre now tracks how many times an application is used and displays this information on the relevant applications’ Software Centre page.

As well as pleasing stat hounds the world over with usage analytics the Software Centre also provides application recommendations based on applications you already have installed.

Long time OMG! Ubuntu! readers may remember that semantic features were pitched for inclusion in the Software Centre for the Ubuntu 11.04 cycle.

As with all posts regarding Ubuntu 11.04 development the features presented above are merely a snapshot of how development looks today. The final release of Ubuntu 11.04 is scheduled for April this year.

Announcing Project Bossanova

On behalf of Ohso, I’m proud to announce the launch of a new startup, Project Bossanova.

Bossanova is Portuguese for "New Trend" - something we thought quite fitting for our goal.

With Project Bossanova, our aim is to deliver the first ever 3D game to run exclusively on Linux. We’re working with established players in the industry and with your support, we will reach our ambitious goal.

To register your interest, head on over to projectbossanova.com and simply punch in your email address.

More details will be revealed soon, so stay tuned!


Add a main menu to Docky

Long for a ‘main menu’ on Docky? RishavT has posted a tutorial on GNOME-Look.org for add a main menu ‘of sorts’ to Docky.


"I’ve been using AWN for quite sometime now, but that’s because of the lack of many docklets in Docky; the main-menu being an important one (at least for me)" he says on why he sought out a solution.

"What we do is change the "click" function of the Docky icon. So I modified that a bit, and got it to display the gnome-menu whenever I click the Docky icon."

Sounds neat, so how does one do it?

  1. Install "xdotool" (click here to install)
  2. Press ALT+F2 and type in "gconf-editor".
  3. Press enter.
  4. Navigate to /apps/docky-2/Docky/Items/DockyItem and double click on "DockyItemCommand"
  5. In the "value" field copy paste: xdotool key -clearmodifiers alt+F1
  6. Press OK and close the box.
  7. Click on the Docky icon

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 released

By Jove we’ve made it to the second alpha of  Ubuntu 11.04!

Time flies when you’re in a development cycle, I guess. To acknowledge the ace-ness of the alpha release (cos alpha’s are always ace, beta’s are brill’ and stables are swell) I’ve decided to write this post as if I was still twelve. And writing about Doctor Who.

So, to the crunch, what’s new and is it worth trying out yet? Buckle up and we’ll take a gander….

New since Alpha 1

Disclaimer: Ubuntu 11.04 is only at alpha 2. What you see listed below is not finished. I don’t know how many times I have to reiterate this to stave off mini-rebellions against Canonical in the comments, but folks: alpha. Remember ‘alpha’.


Unity, being the default desktop session in Ubuntu 11.04, has received all sorts of tweaking, fixing and honing.

The Launcher now respects your system theme and has intellihide enabled by default. Other important parts have also landed in Unity since Alpha 1, including: -


A initial version of the Dash is now present.


Browsing for files and applications is a mite easier in this second alpha thanks to the initial deployment (why am i writing like this is a company report? No idea, I’ll continue) of Unity’s ‘file’ and ‘application’ places.

unity places

They look a bit inelegant right now but it’s an alpha, folks. As D:Ream once sang: ‘things can only get better’.

Sound menu

As a long-time Sound menu advocate (Yes, being an advocate comes with a Unity-branded beret and sash) I was super pleased to see the return of playlist support to the menu. It’s not 100% as it should be in the Alpha (keyword being: alpha) but it works, therefore making it useful already for playlist aficionados like myself.


Ubuntu one control panel

The new look ‘Ubuntu One Dashboard’ is included by default in Alpha 2. The overhaul is welcome – it certainly helps make syncing and managing your Ubuntu One account easier.

Grid ‘Aero Snap’ feature

A nifty Compiz plugin now enabled by default is the ‘Aero Snap’ style ‘Grid’. Drag an app window to the top to maximise, left or right to resize windows side-by-side.

GTK+ Gripper

For the times when auto-sizing doesn’t do it you’ll find a new ‘grip’ handle on window borders and an invisible  ‘border aura’ make manual resizing much, much easier (particularly on touchscreens).

You can read some more on coming border changes on @ smspillaz.wordpress.com.

Software Centre

Ahh, and so we come to Ubuntu’s ‘app store’. Notable additions present in Alpha 2 include: -

Ratings and reviews

Long wanted and now they’re here: give your favourite apps a star rating, fill in a short review and then tweet your verdict to your social buddies via Gwibber.

Clever Centre

Zeitgeist-powered application recommendations and application usage tracking is also ticking away in Alpha 2. Use it to find new apps to install, find installed apps you don’t use or just freak out at its intelligence.

Ubuntu Classic Desktop

It may be classic but that doesn’t mean it’s sacred; Unity’s Global Menu applet now appears on the top panel, alongside a compact menu button. (See image above)


OpenOffice has been replaced with the newly released LibreOffice in this alpha for evaluation purposes.


Did you skim directly to this bit? Tsk!

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 is not recommended for installation on production systems, your brothers netbook or military supercomputers. If you’re eager to try it out do it safely: use a usb stick or a LiveCD.

The parent-part over, the official download links for Ubuntu 11.04, along with more information, can be found @ ubuntu.com/testing/natty/alpha2. Alternatively the direct links are below.

Use torrents where possible - this helps everyone get it a bit faster by not hammering the servers.

Related posts:
  1. A smattering of Natty updates: Software centre adds reviews, Dash gets improved, more
  2. Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 1 released
  3. Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 1 released


LiLi for Windows: the easiest way to try Linux

With the release of Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 many of you will be grabbing the nearest USB stick available and taking the Narwhal for a whirl.

If you’re a dual booter using Windows then try out LiLi – a free, open-source windows-based Linux Live USB creator.

Why LiLi?

LiLi is a simple, straightforward and intuitive application to use; perfect for Windows users looking to try out Linux but not wanting to waste physical media or install directly to hard disk.

Feature list time: -
  • Built-in virtualization feature lets you run your Linux USB in Windows – no reboot necessary
  • Easy slider and checkbox let you set persistence levels to store data
  • Option to hide ‘Linux’ files to keep your key clean
  • Automatic ISO integrity check
  • Works with .IMG files

But doesn’t Ubuntu/UNetbootin do this?

Regardless of your preferred tool it’s always nice to be aware of choices and Linux Live USB is a great one at that.

From personal experience I can attest to LiLi saving my butt so many times.

Where other ‘USB disc creators’ have produced hit and miss results – sometimes the resulting USB has worked fine, other times it’s taken multiple goes to get a USB capable of booting past the familiar name of ‘H. Peter Anvin’ – LiLi has always worked.


LiLi can be nabbed from the official site @ linuxliveusb.com/en/download.

A new Beta release is also available adding: -
  • Auto-detecting the latest SysLinux bootloader
  • Persistence for Debian 6.X
  • Download folder for Linux distros can be set
  • Install-Only flag for Linux distros without Live mode
  • Free space calculation is more accurate

This can be download @ linuxliveusb.com/en/more-downloads


Canonical’s New Year gift!

Chinese communities worldwide began a new year on February 3rd. With 15 days of cultural celebrations rolling , Canonical decided to kick-start the party with a gift of its own.

Previously, for anyone to have a working Chinese version of Ubuntu, they had to tweak/fix language packs and input methods. Another way was to install a Ubuntu derivative such as Dubuntu or LiUbuntu.

The downside though is that those teams were completely separate from the Ubuntu team, thus they did not receive the same quality assurance & support from Canonical.

That’s all a thing of the past now thanks to the timely debut of the new official Chinese edition of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Chinese Edition

Due to my lack of understanding of the language and of documentation available about the Edition, I can only offer a micro preview of it. If anyone has a larger understanding please do comment.

This edition has every application included set up to use Chinese language input methods, language packs and dictionaries. Previously installing language packages and things of the sort weren’t always effective across every application.

It is for now only available in Meerkat flavor and Natty Alpha 2.

With the abundance of made-in-China Ubuntu tablets popping up nearly everyday, this leads me to believe that the New Year isn’t the only reason behind this release. For now, happy Chinese New Year to all celebrating the year of the Rabbit! You can download the Ubuntu Chinese Edition here!

Anyone else for Ubuntu 13.04: Raving Rabbit?


GMusicbrowser now default music app in Xubuntu 11.04

Lightweight music player ‘GMusicbrowser’ is to replace ‘Exaile’ as the default music app in Xubuntu 11.04.

GMusicbrowser Shimmer
GMusicbrowser from the Shimmer PPA in regular Ubuntu

Why GMusicbrowser?

One criticism of Exaile was it’s ‘slow and buggy’ performance when handling larger collections of music. GMusicbrowser is built with large libraries in mind, leading to better responsiveness in use.

GMusicbrowser comes with a huge set of features:
  • Mass-tagging and mass-renaming
  • Customizable window layouts
  • Support for multiple genres and multiple artists per song
  • Plugin system with Last.FM scrobbling; Wikipedia info; lyrics, etc.

It also boasts some great playback options.
  • Artist/album lock : easily restrict playlist to current artist/album
  • Easy access to songs related to the currently playing song

Xubuntu is likely to use a slightly improved version from The Shimmer Project which adds a new song tree layout and other UI fixes.


Xubuntu users wishing to try out GMusicbrowser can do so from the Shimmer Project PPA (Lucid through Natty) @ launchpad.net/~shimmerproject/+archive/ppa.

Related news

Firefox 4.0 will remain the default browser,  thunderbird will remain the default mail client. It is as yet undecided whether LightDM will replace GDM as the default display manager.

Source: Tinhed via xflinux via Xubuntu Team minutes

Hotot twitter app adds Indicator applet support. Again.

It feels an absolute age since I last mentioned slick Twitter application Hotot on these pages but today finally saw a feature fix that gave me reason to: Indicator-applet support is now working.


"Wait, didn’t it already have this?" you ask. Well, yes it did  but the emphasis lies very much on the ‘did’.

Despite a checkbox for enabling indicator support being available to enable in Hotot’s settings for the last few months it, like a stubborn teenager asked to clean his room, has refused to do anything. Until now.


The indicator itself doesn’t offer anything the system tray didn’t. In fact one wonders whether Hotot would find it more beneficial to integrate with the Messaging Menu rather than using an Application Indicator.

The indicator needs to be manually enabled via Hotot preferences and won’t take effect until you restart the application.

Panel purists note that whilst there is a mono icon included for Hotot it only appears when using the standard tray icon.



Hotot – with shiny indicator- can be installed in Ubuntu 10.10 from the Hotot PPA.

Terminal instructions are: -
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hotot-team
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install hotot

Also see: Hotot homepage

Related posts:
  1. Hotot twitter app adds an adorable new icon
  2. Hotot Twitter app adds multi-profile, identi.ca support in latest update
  3. Hotot: The hottest new Twitter app for Linux


Bodhi Linux hits RC: adds netbook interface, install slideshow, more

If you’ve yet to be bitten by charms of Bodhi Linux then now’s the perfect time to try it out: it’s just hit release candidate status.

Bodhi Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution using the Enlightenment desktop environment built off of Ubuntu 10.04.

We’ve covered the development of Bodhi the last few months, so for fear of retyping the same spiel again and again I’m just going to cover what’s new in this release candidate.

Release Candidate changes 

Hark back to Ubuntu 9.10 with Bodhi’s new installer slideshow!

Wry quips aside the slideshow orientation is a valuable aid for users  new to both Bodhi and the E17 desktop.

The login screen has had a garish, albeit unique, redesign: -

Firefox 4 has a quick-start guide set as the home page, perfect for for E17 newbies.

A tweaked interface for netbook users is also available: -

More details on the release candidate can be found @ jeffhoogland.blogspot.com.

 Download links are located  @ Bodhi.org

Related posts:
  1. Bodhi Linux hits Beta, tries to resolve theme issues
  2. Bodhi Linux hits Alpha 4, gets ace new look


Lego CAD app ‘Konstruktor’ hits beta

The first beta release of Lego LEGO CAD (computer-aided design) application ‘Konstruktor’ has been made available for download.

The app, based on LDraw project and available for all major operating systems, is “…almost feature complete and comparable to major LDraw-based CADs out there (MLCad, LeoCAD, Bricksmith, …)” according to its developer, Park Joon-Kyu.

For the moment the release is only available as source or a x64 bit .deb package. Download either at the projects homepage: -

Thansk to Nathanel (Sorry for the delay ;) )

No related posts.


Wintermute project aims to bring Artificial Intelligence to Ubuntu

Named after a computer from a very famous novel, Wintermute is an attempt to implement the world’s first personal edition of an intelligent framework of applications and libraries, and in the future, an intelligent operating system.

The Project

According to the project’s Launchpad page

Wintermute bolsters the capabilities of using neural networking to learn about its host, a pseudo-langauge engine that permits translations and grammar rulesets of any language to be incorporated into the system, and database downloads of different sets of data to permit the combination of the world’s first personal virtual self-thinking assistant.

The project aims to have something like Apple Knowledge Navigator implemented (READ: Not Clippy!), “So far, we’ve implemented an abstract system of language processing, so translations’ll be as swappable as extensions for Chromium, and we’re looking at other semantic projects (DPedia, NEPOMUK from the Semantic Desktop) to harness the need of knowledge.”, developer Jacky Alcine told us.

A Little Help

The project is looking for Programmers with either GLib, C++ or Python knowledge, Beta testers/People who can enhance the VoxForge voice modules and Designers for the Wintermute, UAIT and Intell@Ubuntu logos.

or more information see the Wintermute blog and the Wintermute Psychology and Ubuntu Artificial Intelligence Team project pages.

AppStream: The unified App Store for Linux

In an effort to make the installation and management of software on Linux less of a hassle a new, multi-distro ‘app store’ is in the making.

Lets face it, whilst installing applications on Ubuntu is ‘relatively’ easy for newcomers (Software Centre, PPA’s, .debs’ etc.) it’s not perfect. And on other distributions it’s  worse. (.rpm, packagekit, yum, etc.)

To help bring user-end installation of applications on Linux into the twenty-first century  a unified model for installing applications across all major Linux distributions is to be made.

This will consist of a both one application installer and one  unified market-place for installing applications from.

Consistency and ease of use is the aim.

The ‘front end’ proposed for the ‘store’ is to be based on the Ubuntu Software Centre. This, however, depends on Canonical dropping their ‘Contributor License Agreement’ to enable the work to ship in GNOME.

When will this balm be available for users to benefit from? The current schedule pegs it at the the of 2011 – if Canonical play ball. 

"If they refuse to drop the CLA, then it’s impossible to ship in GNOME, and we’ll have to write our own front end client. That would put the project back 18 months or so." Richard Hughes told serverwatch.com.

Regardless of the intricacies to be sorted out  the fact this is happening at all is but great news for Linux as a whole.

If you have an hour to kill here’s the meeting that took place a few weeks ago between the major distributions.


Faenza icons for LibreOffice

So you’ve installed LibreOffice but find the default icons a bit, well, OpenOffice-y.

No surprise there then given they are the same icons as used Oracle’s open-source office suite.

If you want to see some differentiation on your desktop then try these Faenza-styled set of replacements. They’re square, stylish and perfect for giving your Dock or Office menu a refreshed look.

Download @ gnome-look.org

Don’t have LibreOffice? Information on installing it can be found here.