Ubuntu 11.10 Beta Released, Reviewed

The first beta release of Ubuntu 11.10 has been made available for download – but what can you expect to find?


If you’ve been following the development of Ubuntu 11.10 either here on OMG! Ubuntu! or by being brave and testing the various Alpha releases then you won’t find a great many surprises in the recap below – so here’s the download button ;)

But for those new to camp Oneiric Ocelot (that’s the codename for Ubuntu 11.10), here’s a quick look at some of our favourite changes from Ubuntu 11.04 to now.

Do remember that Ubuntu 11.10 is still in development; what you see below is not representative of the final product due mid-October.

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta


The Ubuntu installer remains a straightforward and user-friendly process. A new ‘user photo’ step is presented during the set-up which allows you to choose or take a picture (using your webcam) for use as your user picture. Later on you’ll see just why having a user picture matters…

New login screen

Ubuntu 11.10 now uses a different technology for displaying the login screen called ‘LightDM’. This change has allowed the Ubuntu design team to craft an entirely new greeter fitted out with slick effects and an even slicker look.

On the whole LightDM works as it should, although I did detect some noticeable lag when using it on my netbook. On my desktop the greeter worked well.


The default application set has been updated and upgraded. You’ll find the following sitting pretty in the beta: -
  • GNOME 3 and associated packages (nautilus, eog etc)
  • Firefox 7 (beta)
  • LibreOffice 3.4.2
  • Shotwell photo manager (with hierarchal tags)
  • Rewritten Gwibber
  • Revamped Ubuntu Software Centre

The Dash

Ubuntu 11.10 builds upon the interface changes introduced in Ubuntu 11.04. Refinements to the Unity interface are apparent: a new look ‘Dash’ ‘triggered’ by a new look launcher-based button are the most visible.

The Dash now has its own window controls, positioned at the top left-hand of the screen, which allow you to maximize the Dash, return it to “half screen” or close it. Fiddly on a touchscreen, but I’ve no need to continually resize the Dash anyway.

In this Beta I experienced a few performance issues with the Dash including lag and weird looking layered icons in search results. If you’re testing don’t expect a perfectly polished performance just yet.


‘Lenses’  provide you with a quick way to search for specific files or information. For Ubuntu 11.10 they have been moved from individual items placed on the Unity Launcher and integrated into the Dash itself. From here Lenses can be selected using the “tabbed” strip of icons towards the bottom of the Dash.

The File and Application Lenses have been brought over to the Dash, and a new Music lens added.

All three have various filtering options: -
  • Filter Applications by category and Ubuntu Software Centre star rating
  • Filter Files by Date created, size or type?
  • Filter Music by date or genre

Personally, I haven’t used ‘Genre’ for filtering my music collection since, well ever. The local record shop used to filter by Genre and it was damn annoying…

Star rating filters 

Applications can be searched by star rankings. Am I really going to have a need to solely find 3 and a 1/2 star music? It seems like a neat solution to have, but it’s one seeking a problem to solve, too.


The most controversial change present in the Beta is the hiding of window controls on maximized window by default.

When an application window is maximized the window controls, to much controversy, hide by default. Although you only need to mouse over top the panel to access them, many early adopters have reacted negatively to the change citing it as ‘unintuitive‘ and potentially confusing to newcomers.

“Oh, you have to move the arrow to the top of the screen [to see Window Controls]. Odd.”

Whilst the “change” is odd, and a bit daft, I’m rather content with it. But to better help guage whether or not it on the fail side of, well, fail, I hijacked some of the family present at my mothers 70th birthday celebration in order to find out what “casual computer users” – 2 of whom use Windows XP, 1 uses Windows 7 and 1 uses OS X – make of the change…

The Task: Using Ubuntu 11.10, I asked them to close a maximised Firefox window. 

After a few titters at comments such as “This version of Windows looks nice/I like the pretty thing on the side/Is this that new ‘My Windows 7?’”  they got down to completing the task.

Result? All managed it – and all fairly quickly.

I was surprising that all managed to complete the simple task – including my 69 year old Auntie. Only one of my guinea pigs ‘went to the top’ of the screen instantly (the mac user). The rest spent a good few seconds sprinting around the screen with the mouse cursor until the buttons revealed themselves. As soon as they saw the buttons they knew what they did and, when asked to repeat the process 30 mins and 1 sherry later, they all remembered exactly where to find the buttons and how to “reveal” them.

Of course, this unscientific study doesn’t prove that this approach is the right one, and with enough time anyone would uncover the window control buttons eventually, ut it does go some way to show that if non-Ubuntu users can adapt fairly quickly to this change then long-term users of the OS can too. It’s a bit odd, but it’s really rather trivial in the end.

Little things that count

Aside from the big, bold and easily noticeable changes come a raft of smaller UI tweaks and fixes that are worth mentioning: -

The Battery Indicator now works. An option to display battery time remaining/until charge on the panel can be toggled through the Battery menu.

The “Device Menu is a new addition, housing a new icon and various new options, including attached devices and system update status

New User Menu with Avatars and Guest user switching: -

Messaging menu with “clear” option lets you acknowledge new tweets, e-mails or IM chats without having to actually open the corresponding app. So simple, yet so welcome.

When launching Banshee through the Sound Menu the ‘Play’ button displays a new rounded loading animation. In Ubuntu 11.04 the Play button would simply ‘pulse’.


‘Wallch’ Update Adds 64bit Support and New Icon

Ubuntu friendly wallpaper changing app ‘Wallch has added support for 64bit Ubuntu users in its latest release. 

Wallch – short for Wallpaper Changer 211; lets you configure when and how to change your wallpaper, and what to change it to; you add as many wallpapers as you like, order them in a queue or have them change at random at a chosen interval.

Other changes in the latest version include a new application icon, updated translations and a fix for the Live Earth wallpaper not changing correctly.

Although all of the changes are to be welcomed, particularly support for 64bit users, there are regressions too. For example, the Unity Quicklist, which contained controls for changing wallpaper from the Unity Launcher, has vanished.

Edit: No it hasn’t. If, like me, you don’t see the Unity Quicklist after installing just log out, log back in and re-pin Wallch to the Launcher.


Ubuntu 11.04 users willing to upgrade/install the latest release should add the PPA below to their Software Sources, update and then install Wallch from the Ubuntu Software Centre:
  • ppa:wallch/wallch-gnome2

Ubuntu 11.10 users can install Wallch from the Ubuntu Software Centre.


GNOME 3 Adding ‘Web App’ Mode

Chrome has them, Firefox has them and, soon, so will GNOME 3. What am I wittering on about? Web apps.

GNOME Web Apps

The late September release of GNOME 3.2 will provide, amongst others updates and features, a “web application mode” for GNOME’s default web browser ‘Epiphany‘.

The GNOME approach to creating web apps is simple: you save website as a web app via a menu entry or by pressing CTRL+A. Web apps created this way behave just like a traditional app on the GNOME desktop: they can be launched from the Activities overview, pinned to favourites, etc.

GNOME Web apps sport a minimal interface, displaying not a jot more than a title bar and your chosen site.

Neater still, GNOME web apps become independent of Epiphany and run as a separate process: if Epiphany crashes or freezes your web app will remain unaffected.

Web apps are also sandboxed; if you try to follow a link within the web app that goes to a different website or service that link will, instead, open up in Epiphany and thus not affect your web app.

More information on this feature, along with credit for the images used above, can be found @ blogs.gnome.org


Germany Lifts ‘Doom’ Ban After 17 Years – Toast Demons To Celebrate

Germany has lifted a 17 year ban restricting the sale of classic video game ‘Doom’ to adults only.

co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Screen-Shot-2011-09-02-at-11.57.51.png" >

Doom, along with its sequel Doom II, were banned in Germany back in 1994 as authorities considered the game ’likely to harm youth‘ due to ‘drastic portrayals of violence’ within the game.

It’s this high level of violence and gore that has ensured ‘Doom’ continues to feature in lists of the most controversial video games of all time.

“Crude Graphics”

So why the change?

The ‘Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons’ (known as the ‘Bundesprüfstelle‘ in Germany) adjusted the restriction on the sale of Doom following an appeal by the current owner of id Software, the company which originally created the game.

They (the owners of id Software) argued that the ‘crude graphics‘ in the game, when compared to modern gaming, had lessened the impact of the violence in the game. Agreeing in part that this was true, Bundesprüfstelle also felt that the game was now unlikely to be played by children and held ‘a historical interest’ to gamers.

The American version of Doom II, which incorporates levels of Wolfenstein 3D, remains on the controlled list due to the Nazi imagery used throughout the game.

Chocolate Doom

To ‘toast’ the lifting of the ban instructions follow for installing the ‘historically accurate’ Doom port “Chocolate Doom“.

Chocolate Doom remains faithful to the original version as far as possible, opting to shun the addition of extra levels in favour of remaining within the limitations of the original.

Chocolate Doom can be installed on Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10 and 11.04 by adding the following PPA to Software Sources, updating and then install ‘Chocolate Doom’ from the Ubuntu Software Centre: -
  • ppa:pmjdebruijn/chocolate-doom-release


No related posts.


Oneiric Software Centre Now Radiance Friendly

The latest updates to Ubuntu’s default themes in Oneiric have, thankfully, sorted out some of the various issues the Radiance theme when with the new-look Ubuntu Software Centre.

The result is pretty…

ge wp-image-19955" title="radiance" src="http://cdn.omgubuntu.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/radiance-500x281.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="281" />

…but still not an equal match for that of Ambiance; the gradient just doesn’t seem – no pun intended – as seamless.

Another minor difference brought with the recent update: navigation arrows now use icons from your system theme.


The New Ubuntu Software Centre Icon: Is It really That Bad?

The new Ubuntu Software Centre icon present in Ubuntu 11.10 seems to have few fans – but is it really that bad?

Appreciation of any graphic – be it icon, wallpaper or other – is always going to be a subjective call. And whilst it’s not a general rule that the more people like something the better it is (or vice versa) indications as to the general group taste can often be gleaned from “listening to the masses”.

Why the need for a new icon?

To accompany the Software Centre revamp the Ubuntu Design Team sought to create a new icon based on the brief of “an attractive shopping bag with handles, such as you might get from a high-class department store.

The icon that was created was this bright beauty:

When compared against the “old” Software Centre icon (pictured below) it’s easy to see which of the two looks more in keeping with the new look of the store. The paper bag of the original infers ’a convenience store of essentials’ rather than ‘a mall of must haves’.

But i’m unconvinced that the new icon conveys the notion of an “App Centre”  – let alone one full of fantastic apps – as well as the one it’s replacing.

For a start the icon is mostly just “plain orange bag”, and at smaller sizes even the “bag” aspect becomes barely legible.Whilst bag = shopping and thusly shopping = apps, it’s just a bit too much bag for such a small icon; the emphasis should be on the “Apps” element.

Then there are the “applications” flying out of the carrier: these look rather obtuse and, unless you were au fait with the stock Humanity/GNOME icons, rather nondescript too.

Jeremy Bicha wrote the following in a bug report filed against the icon (bug #834204), and it made me chuckle: -

When I go shopping, I don’t have stuff floating in the air and a bright white light streaming out of the bag but I may have my bag overflowing because there’s so much good stuff to get and I can only carry a few bags…

It’s a fair point, although I assume the “white light streaming out” aspect is supposed to convey there being a ‘whole world of apps’ inside (i.e. by clicking on) the icon.

But does the icon sell the “Apps” aspect as well as it could? Judging by other App Centre/Store/marketplace icons it’s conforming an emerging app store mime: -

Various app store/centre/place icons


In the big report mentioned above Daniel Planas Armangue presented his proposal for a replacement icon: -

(Daniel’s first language is not English, hence the spelling errors in his image)

His mock-up adds the much-needed “App” association through the badging of ‘tools’ to the front of the shopping bag.Using this iconography is a superior approach to placing an Ubuntu logo – or a plain front – as it tells me the icon is related to “doing stuff” (ergo “applications”) rather than it’s something related to the OS itself.

Sadly the positioning/angle of the bag in Daniel’s design is a bit unfortunate (it resembles a brief case) and the app icons used around the top of the design are more nondescript than the actual icon its proposes to replace.

Which icon do you prefer? How would you approach designing an icon for the Ubuntu Software Centre? Let us know below.


Ubuntu 11.10 Countdown Widget for Android

How many days are left until the release of Ubuntu 11.10? 

If that’s a question you cannot live without knowing the answer to (or if you just want to ramp up some excitement ahead of the release) the following ‘Ubuntu Countdown’ widget for Android devices serves that niche admirably: it counts down the days remaining until the next Ubuntu release.

There are extra options for the tweaker’s amongst you, including two sizes of widgets (1×1 and 2×2), light and dark themes (how very Ubuntu) and the option to set a custom date (maybe you want to count down to the next Beta).


The widget is available to download from Android Marketplace for the always-awesome price of  nothing.

Either snap or click the QR code below to head over to the Android Market to grab the widget.

download ubuntu countdown android widget



“Aero-Snap” in Ubuntu Is About To Look Better…

Although the Ubuntu 11.10 development cycle has already seen an improvement to Ubuntu’s “aero-snap” feature by way of a throbbing golden effect, an improved and more visually-informative animation could yet find its way into Oneiric before release.

The new effect replaces the ‘coloured outline’ animation currently used in Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 beta by fading in a blurred screenshot of the window to be ‘maximised’.

It might sound like a minor cosmetic change but being able to essentially ‘preview’ the effect of the ‘snap’ on the content inside the window before you apply it you can better make a choice about whether or not it will impact or improve your workflow.

The  subtle effect of “fading” the window out when backing away from the edge without releasing the window will help inform you that you’re no longer in danger of activating the ‘snap’ should you release the window.

If you’re still not following – and admittedly it’s an effect better seen than read – hit play on the video below: -

The bug related to this issue has been tagged ‘backlog’. If it doesn’t manage to find a way in to the release of Oneiric in October, the April release of 12.04 should certainly play home to it.

#689792 via Scott on Google+


‘Ambiance Meets Radiance’ In This Nameless GTK theme

You can have your GTK2 cake and eat it with the following theme – it combines elements for Ubuntu’s default Ambiance theme with the light-tones of Ubuntu’s Radiance theme.


The theme was created by DeviantArt user ~simplygreat, whose previous work includes a dark toolbar mod for Nautilus Elementary.

The theme, which currently lacks a name, is in development and requires the installation of the “Equinox” GTK engine.

Unity users should note that whilst the theme was not designed for the Unity desktop it does work okay under it.

Nautilus-Elementary is required for parts of the theme to display correctly.



Series: Introduction to Ubuntu Development – Part 2

This is the second 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.

Getting Set Up

There are a number of things you need to do to get started developing for Ubuntu. This article is designed to get your computer set up so that you can start working with packages, and upload your packages to Ubuntu's hosting platform, Launchpad. Here's what we'll cover:
  • Installing packaging-related software. This includes:
    • Ubuntu-specific packaging utilities
    • Encryption software so your work can be verified as being done by you
    • Additional encryption software so you can securely transfer files
  • Creating and configuring your account on Launchpad
  • Setting up your development environment to help you do local builds of packages, interact with other developers, and propose your changes on Launchpad.


It is advisable to do packaging work using the current development version of Ubuntu. Doing so will allow you to test changes in the same environment where those changes will actually be applied and used.

Don't worry though, the Ubuntu development release wiki page shows a variety of ways to safely use the development release.

Install basic packaging software

There are a number of tools that will make your life as an Ubuntu developer much easier. You will encounter these tools later in this guide. To install most of the tools you will need run this command:

$ sudo apt-get install gnupg pbuilder ubuntu-dev-tools \ bzr-builddeb apt-file

Note: Since Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" (or if you have Backports enabled on a currently supported release), the following command will install the above and other tools which are quite common in Ubuntu development:

$ sudo apt-get install packaging-dev

This command will install the following software:

  • gnupgGNU Privacy Guard contains tools you will need to create a cryptographic key with which you will sign files you want to upload to Launchpad.
  • pbuilder – a tool to do a reproducible builds of a package in a clean and isolated environment.
  • ubuntu-dev-tools (and devscripts, a direct dependency) – a collection of tools that make many packaging tasks easier.
  • bzr-builddeb (and bzr, a dependency) – distributed version control with Bazaar, a new way of working with packages for Ubuntu that will make it easy for many developers to collaborate and work on the same code while keeping it trivial to merge each others work.
  • apt-file provides an easy way to find the binary package that contains a given file.
  • apt-cache (part of the apt package) provides even more information about packages on Ubuntu.

Create your GPG key

GPG stands for GNU Privacy Guard and it implements the OpenPGP standard which allows you to sign and encrypt messages and files. This is useful for a number of purposes. In our case it is important that you can sign files with your key so they can be identified as something that you worked on. If you upload a source package to Launchpad, it will only accept the package if it can absolutely determine who uploaded the package.

To generate a new GPG key, run:

$ gpg --gen-key

GPG will first ask you which kind of key you want to generate. Choosing the default (RSA and DSA) is fine. Next it will ask you about the keysize. The default (currently 2048) is fine, but 4096 is more secure. Afterward, it will ask you if you want it to expire the key at some stage. It is safe to say "0", which means the key will never expire. The last questions will be about your name and email address. Just pick the ones you are going to use for Ubuntu development here, you can add additional email addresses later on. Adding a comment is not necessary. Then you will have to set a passphrase, choose a safe one (a passphrase is just a password which is allowed to include spaces).

Now GPG will create a key for you, which can take a little bit of time; it needs random bytes, so if you give the system some work to do it will be just fine. Move the cursor around, type some paragraphs of random text, load some web page.

Once this is done, you will get a message similar to this one:

pub 4096R/43CDE61D 2010-12-06 Key fingerprint = 5C28 0144 FB08 91C0 2CF3 37AC 6F0B F90F 43CD E61D uid Daniel Holbach <dh@mailempfang.de> sub 4096R/51FBE68C 2010-12-06

In this case 43CDE61D is the key ID.

Next, you need to upload the public part of your key to a keyserver so the world can identify messages and files as yours. To do so, enter:

$ gpg --send-keys <KEY ID>

This will send your key to one keyserver, but a network of keyservers will automatically sync the key between themselves. Once this syncing is complete, your signed public key will be ready to verify your contributions around the world. (Note: if you have no default keyserver set, gpg might need the additional --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com arguments in the command above.)

Create your SSH key

SSH stands for Secure Shell, and it is a protocol that allows you to exchange data in a secure way over a network. It is common to use SSH to access and open a shell on another computer, and to use it to securely transfer files. For our purposes, we will mainly be using SSH to securely upload source packages to Launchpad.

To generate an SSH key, enter:

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa

The default file name usually makes sense, so you can just leave it as it is. For security purposes, it is highly recommended that you use a passphrase.

Set up pbuilder

pbuilder allows you to build packages locally on your machine. It serves a couple of purposes:
  • The build will be done in a minimal and clean environment. This helps you make sure your builds succeed in a reproducible way, but without modifying your local system
  • There is no need to install all necessary build dependencies locally
  • You can set up multiple instances for various Ubuntu and Debian releases

Setting pbuilder up is very easy, run:

$ pbuilder-dist <release> create

where <release> is for example natty, maverick, lucid or in the case of Debian maybe sid. This will take a while as it will download all the necessary packages for a "minimal installation". These will be cached though.

Get set up to work with Launchpad

With a basic local configuration in place, your next step will be to configure your system to work with Launchpad. This section will focus on the following topics:
  • What Launchpad is and creating a Launchpad account
  • Uploading your GPG and SSH keys to Launchpad
  • Configuring Bazaar to work with Launchpad
  • Configuring Bash to work with Bazaar

About Launchpad

Launchpad is the central piece of infrastructure we use in Ubuntu. It not only stores our packages and our code, but also things like translations, bug reports, and information about the people who work on Ubuntu and their team memberships. You will also use Launchpad to publish your proposed fixes, and get other Ubuntu developers to review and sponsor them.

You will need to register with Launchpad and provide a minimal amount of information. This will allow you to download and upload code, submit bug reports, and more.

Besides hosting Ubuntu, Launchpad can host any Free Software project. For more information see the Launchpad Help wiki.

Get a Launchpad account

If you don't already have a Launchpad account, you can easily create one. If you have a Launchpad account but cannot remember your Launchpad id, you can find this out by going to https://launchpad.net/~ and looking for the part after the ~ in the URL.

Launchpad's registration process will ask you to choose a display name. It is encouraged for you to use your real name here so that your Ubuntu developer colleagues will be able to get to know you better.

When you register a new account, Launchpad will send you an email with a link you need to open in your browser in order to verify your email address. If you don't receive it, check in your spam folder.

The new account help page on Launchpad has more information about the process and additional settings you can change.

Upload your GPG key to Launchpad

To find about your GPG fingerprint, run:

$ gpg --fingerprint <email@address.com>

and it will print out something like:

pub 4096R/43CDE61D 2010-12-06 Key fingerprint = 5C28 0144 FB08 91C0 2CF3 37AC 6F0B F90F 43CD E61D uid Daniel Holbach <dh@mailempfang.de> sub 4096R/51FBE68C 2010-12-06

Head to https://launchpad.net/~/+editpgpkeys and copy the "Key fingerprint" into the text box. In the case above this would be 5C28 0144 FB08 91C0 2CF3  37AC 6F0B F90F 43CD E61D. Now click on "Import Key".

Launchpad will use the fingerprint to check the Ubuntu key server for your key and, if successful, send you an encrypted email asking you to confirm the key import. Check your email account and read the email that Launchpad sent you. If your email client supports OpenPGP encryption, it will prompt you for the password you chose for the key when GPG generated it. Enter the password, then click the link to confirm that the key is yours.

Launchpad encrypts the email, using your public key, so that it can be sure that the key is yours. If your email software does not support OpenPGP encryption, copy the encrypted email's contents, type gpg in your terminal, then paste the email contents into your terminal window.

Back on the Launchpad website, use the Confirm button and Launchpad will complete the import of your OpenPGP key.

Find more information at https://help.launchpad.net/YourAccount/ImportingYourPGPKey

Upload your SSH key to Launchpad

Open https://launchpad.net/~/+editsshkeys in a web browser, also open ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub in a text editor. This is the public part of your SSH key, so it is safe to share it with Launchpad. Copy the contents of the file and paste them into the text box on the web page that says "Add an SSH key". Now click "Import Public Key".

For more information on this process, visit the creating an SSH keypair page on Launchpad.

Configure Bazaar

Bazaar is the tool we use to store code changes in a logical way, to exchange proposed changes and merge them, even if development is done concurrently. It is used for the new Ubuntu Distributed Development method of working with Ubuntu packages.

To tell Bazaar who you are, simply run:

$ bzr whoami "Bob Dobbs <subgenius@example.com>" $ bzr launchpad-login subgenius

whoami will tell Bazaar which name and email address it should use for your commit messages. With launchpad-login you set your Launchpad ID. This way code that you publish in Launchpad will be associated with you.

Note: If you can not remember the ID, go to https://launchpad.net/~ and see where it redirects you. The part after the "~" in the URL is your Launchpad ID.)

Configure your shell

Similar to Bazaar, the Debian/Ubuntu packaging tools need to learn about you as well. Simply open your ~/.bashrc in a text editor and add something like this to the bottom of it:

$ export DEBFULLNAME="Bob Dobbs" $ export DEBEMAIL="subgenius@example.com"

Now save the file and either restart your terminal or run:

$ source ~/.bashrc

(If you do not use the default shell, which is bash, please edit the configuration file for that shell accordingly.)


Tetris Meets Physics In This Crazy New Version

What happens when the classic game of Tetris becomes bound to the laws of physics? Not Tetris 2, is what. 

Not Tetris 2 might look like Tetris, play like Tetris and even sound like Tetris but it is not Tetris as you know it.

In this unofficial – and open source, sssh – spin the classic game of blocks becomes adherent to the laws of physics; falling blocks can still be rotated but if do it too quickly or add too much downward motion you’ll end up with a right royal mess: -

Tetris Jumble in Not Tetris 2

The added dimension of Newton and co’s rules only serves to make gameplay more fiendishly fun, and, the easily frustrated amongst you will be happy to know that lines “clear” when ‘sufficiently filled’; you don’t have to be spot on.

Other features

As with the Gameboy classic that ate up a significant chunk of my childhood (yes, I am that old) there are multiplayer options available. Thankfully these don’t require the purchase of an overpriced link cable to enable battle.

The timeless chiptune soundtrack is also present – B-Type ftw – as are options for adjusting the screen colour and size. A fullscreen option is also available.


Not Tetris 2 is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users and can be downloaded from the NotTetris2 mini-site by hitting the fancy button below:

To game requires the installation of the 2D LÖVE game engine in order to play. LÖVE is available to install in Ubuntu 10.04 onwards through the Ubuntu Software Centre.

Click here to install LÖVE in Ubuntu With LÖVE installed, extract the .Zip file and double click on the ‘not tetris 2.love‘ file inside the resulting folder.

not tetris 2 in Ubuntu

Thanks to Tushant M


PlexyDesk – A Widget Filled Desktop For Linux

There was a time when I, like many, covered my Linux desktop in all manner of Screenlets, gDesklets and widgets. I grew out of this, but ‘PlexyDesk‘ –; a new widget-toting project, may just light those creative fires on my desktop once more…

So what is it?

PlexyDesk is a Qt/QML powered widget space that ‘covers’ the default desktop space with an alternative that, according to its developers, lets you ‘efficiently use your desktop background.’

The app is cross-platform (Windows, OS X and Linux) and works under most desktop environments, such as KDE, GNOME 2, GNOME 3/Shell and Ubuntu Unity.

What can it do?

With the “app” currently in active development there’s not an awful lot to play with just yet, but what is there is more than promising with: -
  • Small selection of widgets (clock, photo frame, file browser)
  • Some widgets have extra themes – just right-click to switch between them
  • Ability to change desktop wallpaper by dragging and dropping an image on to the desktop
  • 3D support
  • Themepack support for changing themes (QML)
  • Drag and drop adding of new widgets
For the more technically interested PlexyDesk has an ‘API for writing data models and C++ widget plugins’ and GLSL shader support.

Is it any good?

Plexy isn’t yet complete or stable but the current snapshot feels quite robust, not crashing once during my play with it. Widgets can be freely moved around the desktop although, somewhat annoyingly, none of these can be removed (nor can extra ones added manually.) You can sort of “hide” widgets by double clicking on them, upon which they turn into a semi-transparent square.

The ease of changing background is nifty, as are the different themes some widgets (such as the clock) have when right-clicked on.

Negatives: the ‘File’ widget is a bit slow and cumbersome to navigate, and certainly fails to beat a scatting of icons on the desktop or a smack of the ‘Super’ button to call up the Unity Dash for intuitiveness, and the lack of variety in the widgets will limit the usefulness of PlexyDesk as a replacement for the most ardent of widget fans.

Some extra widgets (many half finished) are available in ‘/usr/share/plexy/themepack/default’. Adding these to the desktop is a matter of dragging and dropping the relevant .qml file from within the relevant folder on to the desktop.

How to Install Plexydesk in Ubuntu

A daily build PPA – which is unstable and unsuitable for users dependent on Ubuntu running smoothly – provides packages for Ubuntu 10.10, 11.04 and 11.10 users. This PPA only contains one package – PlexyDesk – but does pull in a number of Qt dependencies from the main Ubuntu repositories.

To install PlexyDesk in Ubuntu add the following PPA to your Software Sources, update and then install ‘plexydesk’ from the Ubuntu Software Centre: -
  • ppa:plexydesk/plexydesk-dailybuild

Plexydesk homepage


Development Ceases On Open Source Graphics App ‘Pinta’

Is Paint.NET inspired graphics application Pinta dead? q.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://groups.google.com']);" target="_blank">According to its only developer it is.

Pinta billed itself as a ‘simple yet powerful way to draw and manipulate images on Linux’; the perfect stepping stone between applications of lesser ability, such as XPaint, and those more advanced such as ‘The Gimp’. 

Whilst it was crashy - very crashy - the feature set it sought to bring to users, along with its nippy development speed and light resource usage meant it was a popular choice for novice and demanding users alike. Informal suggestions at the bi-annual Ubuntu Developer Summit once discussed the possibility of shipping Pinta as a default application. This ultimately never came to anything.

Pinta’s last release, version 1.0, slipped out in April of this year and brought with it only minor bug fixes.

In a posting to the “google group” listing for the Pinta project the applications sole developer, Jonathan Pobst, confirmed that work on the project has ceased: -

“[Pinta] is dead because I have no desire to work on it, and I was the only  one working on it.”

It’s always a shame when any application ceases development, but doubly so when that application is as well regarded and widely used as Pinta. Thankfully, as an open source project, this doesn’t have to be the end of the road for Pinta – it’s free to be picked up and worked on by anyone with the motivation and know-how to do so.

Pinta announcement via Bill M.


Flash Player 11 Hits Release Candidate

The first release candidate of Adobe’s Flash Player 11 has been made available for download.

Adobe Flash 11 brings 64-bit support, NVidia VDPAU and Broadcom Crystal HD acceleration and a variety of of technical features for web developers and flash programmers to take advantage of.


Download links for both the 32bit and 64bit versions of this release can be found at labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer11. Do bear in mind that this is a release candidate and not a stable build, so usual warnings about non-stable software apply.


64bit Ubuntu 8.04, 9.10, 10.04, 10.10, 11.04 and 11.10 users are also able to upgrade/install using the unofficial Flash PPA maintained by SevenMachine.

Add ppa:sevenmachines/flash to your Software Sources. Don't know how to do that? See here.

Via Phoronix 


‘Pomodoro’ Indicator Timer for Ubuntu

Indicator-Pomodoro is a small tray-based timer tool designed specifically for use with q.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','http://en.wikipedia.org']);" target="_blank">Pomodoro technique.

The small app uses the indicator applet framework to provide a panel-based timer. Menu items for starting, pausing and stopping the count are available via a drop down menu, as is a timer showing the time elapsed since the ‘Start’ button was pressed.

When your 25 minutes have passed a notification bubble will appear informing you to ‘take a break’ – as the technique teaches. Likewise the Pomodoro tray icon will change from a grey tomato into a red envelope until you acknowledge the break.


Currently the indicator has as to be built from source. Download the latest release from the Launchpad homepage @ launchpad.net/pomodoro-indicator and extract. In a terminal use the ‘cd’ command to enter the extracted folder and run: -
  • sudo python setup.py install
to install the indicator system-wide.

As the applet lacks a menu item it has to be run manually using the Terminal/Alt+F2 and entering ‘pomodoro-indicator‘.

Tip via gnaag


Banshee 2.1.4 Released

Banshee 2.1.4, the third* development snapshot leading to Banshee 2.2, has been officially released.

2.1.4 is a bug fix update and comes hot on the heels of Banshee 2.1.3 which popped out into release-ville last month. That release brought support for the shipping of ‘default internet radio stations’ by Linux distributions, as well as chucking in support for various hardware devices. These included: -
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Motorola Ace
  • Samsung Galaxy S2
  • Notion Ink Adam tablet
  • Custom support for the Barnes & Noble Nook

Full release notes for the 2.1.3 release can be found here and for the 2.1.4 release here.


Banshee 2.1.4 can be downloaded as source from the Banshee website.

Banshee 2.1.3 - released late August – can be installed from the ‘Banshee Unstable‘ PPA. This PPA will be updated with 2.1.4 within the coming weeks.

We don’t recommend adding this PPA without being fully aware of the perils that development software brings.

*Banshee 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 were not released