Driving My Ubuntu Desktop

Pictured above is how I drive my Ubuntu Desktop. It’s clean, fast and it’s brown all over. That’s Ubuntu for sure. Some people don’t really care for the earthy tones, but I don’t mind. My screen resolution is set to 1280 x 1024 pixels. I’ve decided to use this background for a bit of a change. By the way, the Compiz Fusion Desktop Effects are super. I love the applications: OpenOffice, Gimp, MoviePlayer, Rythymbox Music Player and the Bluefish Editor are just a few. The only thing I miss in Windows are the games. It may be time for some virtualization using VMWare. That’s my next project.

Compiz Fusion Keyboard Shortcuts

For Linux users who are fortunate enough to be playing with the Desktop Effects on their favorite Linux distribution – mine is Ubuntu, here’s a list of keyboard shortcuts for the Compiz Fusion Desktop Effects that you may have been looking for. I have put together a list mainly because I’ve had a hard time finding a comprehensive list from a single location. I may have missed something, so please let me know. One more thing, the Super key is the Windows key in case you are wondering. Here are the shortcuts.

Desktop Effects1 Keyboard Shortcuts
Rotate Cube Mousewheel on Desktop
Switcher2 Alt + Tab
Shift Switcher3 Super + Tab (2 modes: flip and cover)
Ring Switcher Super + Tab – overrides Shift Switcher
Expo Super + E (toggle)
Film Effect Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow4
Rotate Cube Manually Ctrl + Alt + Left Mouse Button
Scale Windows Alt + Shift + Up Arrow
Show/Clear Desktop Ctrl + Alt + D (toggle)
Snapping Windows Move a window across workspaces5
Screenshot Super + Left Mouse Button
Zoom In/Out Super + Mousewheel
Transparent Window Alt + Mousewheel
Resize Window Alt + F8
Move Window Alt + F7
Add Helper Super + P
Widget Layer F9 (toggle)
Water Effects Shift + F9 (toggle)
Fire Effects: On Super + Shift + Left Mouse Button
Fire Effects: Clear Super + Shift + C
Annotate: Draw Super + Left Mouse Button
Annotate: Start Super + 1
Annotate: End Super + 3
Group: Select Window(s) Super + S
Group: Group Windows Super + T
Group: Ungroup Windows Super + U
Group: Flip Windows Super + Right or Left Arrow

1 Effects have to be enabled to see results.
2 To see the full effect, have multiple windows or programs open.
3 To configure: Go to Advanced Desktop Effects Settings.
4 Use left and right arrow thereafter to move to workspaces.
5 Disables Wobbly Windows.

Make sure the effects are enabled to see results. You can do so by going to System – Preferences – Advanced Desktop Effects Settings. Some effects will disable others. For example, the Desktop Wall will disable the Desktop Cube, Snapping Windows will disable Wobbly Windows and many more. Please let me know if I missed something, so I can add more effects to the list.

Ubuntu 7.10

I recently upgraded my Linux desktop to Ubuntu 7.10. The upgrade process took a little over an hour considering the number of packages that were being downloaded and installed. Moving from Ubuntu 7.04 Fiesty Fawn to 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon as they are known to the Ubuntu community, is an extremely easy process. All it takes is a handful of clicks. I suggest that you go for a coffee break while the system is downloading. The download can last up to an hour and that is with a fast internet connection.

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon’s features include: the latest Gnome 2.20, a “fast user switching” utility allowing easy switching of users between sessions, a “NTFS writing” capability allowing Ubuntu users to write to a Windows NTFS file system – a first in Ubuntu, a “desktop search” utility and the “fully automatic printer configuration” just to name a few.

The inclusion of the Compiz Desktop Effects in my opinion is the biggest draw to Ubuntu 7.10. It’s the eye candy. Unfortunately, the Desktop Effects didn’t work for me from the outset. It was somehow disabled due to my restricted ATI graphic drivers which were not included on Ubuntu’s whitelist. There is no cause for concern. After scouring the forums, I installed the xserver-xgl, compiz and the compiz settings manager to make Desktop Effects work again. Here’s the command if you are interested.

#sudo apt-get install xserver-xgl compiz compizconfig-settings-manager

I’m quite impressed with the Compiz Desktop Effects although the documentation is very skimpy. I had to scour the internet to find some keyboards shortcuts that I badly needed. I hope Ubuntu fixes the issues with the ATI drivers because leaving the Desktop Effects uninstalled is not what I expected with Ubuntu 7.10.

Evolution vs Thunderbird

It didn’t take time for me to throw out the Evolution email client from my Ubuntu platform. Instead, I installed Mozilla’s Thunderbird, an email client which I’m very familiar with. What caused the switch? Well, I was trying to configure an email account running on an IMAP server. I had a terrible time in getting it to work. After so many unsuccessful tries, it was time for me to kiss the Evolution package goodbye. I’m glad it’s gone because Thunderbird is working just fine in Ubuntu.

To remove Evolution package:
#sudo apt-get remove evolution

To Install Mozilla Thunderbird
#sudo apt-get install mozilla-thunderbird

Dell Picks Ubuntu Linux

Dell has decided to ship Ubuntu Linux on its desktop and notebook computers. The decision to offer the free open-source operating system to its customers was a result of a program called IdeaStorm. Ubuntu recently released version 7.04 code named Fiesty Fawn. For laptop users, the wireless laptop drivers are very important. It better be included in the release and distribution.

Bucking the Popularity

I recently had the urge to replace my Linux desktop from Fedora to Ubuntu mostly because of the popularity of the Ubuntu desktop among Linux users. I gave Ubuntu a try using Ubuntu’s Live CD. After a few hours of playing around with the desktop, I’ve decided to stick with Fedora Core 5. It’s not about the drabby brown color of the Ubuntu desktop, although I prefer the dark blue colors of Fedora. It’s all about the tools I’m familiar with in Fedora. I feel really comfortable with Fedora. I feel lost in Ubuntu. It’s ok to buck popularity for now. Maybe, in the future I can revisit Ubuntu.

Favorite Desktop Linux

What’s the most popular Linux desktop? It’s Ubuntu, according to a recent DesktopLinux.com survey conducted on 15,000 Linux desktop users. I happen to use the Fedora Redhat desktop which came in at 5th place at just 7%. So, why Ubuntu? Is it hype or a cult following? Ease of use and commitment to regular releases and updates every 6 months is their main selling point. I tried Ubuntu more than a year ago, but I didn’t see anything special from this popular desktop. Maybe, it’s time to revisit Mr. Ubuntu.

Popular Linux Desktops

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I’ve learned something new today, Sudo. Sudo is a Unix command that allows system administrators to give certain users the ability to run some or all commands as root. Why? Well, I have this program called Bluefish which I use as a HTML editor. I have to run Bluefish as root to modify my webroot directory. I could have ran Bluefish as a regular user, but I didn’t want to use my home directory to shuttle back and forth the modified web pages.

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