Ubuntu 11.04 Tweaks and Hints

One of my Ubuntu desktops has dual screens with a separate system to the left running Windows. The two systems share a mouse & keyboard using Synergy, and this has worked well for the past few years. Upon upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04, a few problems arose with Synergy. By default, the Unity bar (or column, whichever you wish to call it) was set to auto-hide, and to only show itself when the mouse hits the left edge of the screen. Great, except that when the mouse reaches the left edge of the screen, Synergy takes over and puts it onto Windows and the next screen over.

Also, over the years, I’ve become accustomed to using super+l to lock the screen, and super+space to bring up Gnome-Do to launch programs. Upon upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04, Unity takes the super key for itself, and breaks/changes all other key combinations that use the super key.

Here are the tweaks that I’ve made so far to make Unity a bit more friendly. I’m writing this assuming that you already have compiz enabled (desktop effects prior to upgrading), and that you have CompizConfig Settings Manager installed.

Disable the Unity Bar from autohiding and make it narrower

Open up CompizConfig Settings Manager and search for “Ubuntu Unity Plugin”. Once there, set Hide Launcher to “Never” on the Behavior tab, and optionally set the Launcher icon size smaller on the Experimental tab (I have mine set to the lowest possible value of 32).

Change the Unity launcher key away from the Super key

On the first tab of the Ubuntu Unity Plugin screen of CCSM, change “Key to show the launcher” to something other than “<Super>”. As seen in the screenshot, I’ve set mine to “<Shift><Super>”, which is working out just fine.

Changing this has also enabled Gnome-Do to resume working via super+space and I’m able once again to set the “Lock screen” setting to super+l. (Just like on Windows. Using both systems, it’s nice to have consistency.)

Opening multiple instances of a program from the Unity Bar

This is nothing special, but it took me a bit of time to figure out. Middle clicking on the icon on the Unity Bar will launch a new window/instance of the program.

Dual Screen wallpaper

Ubuntu 11.04 has a new option for displaying wallpaper, “Span”. Time to hit up your favorite site for images that work on dual monitor setups.

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Moving Photos to Flickr

After using Gallery2 for a few years, I’ve decided to move my photos to Flickr. Currently I only have a couple new galleries up from the Chester County Restaurant Festival and the most recent Guerilla Drive In.


More galleries will be moved over soon.


Google Chrome OS

With more and more people solely using their computers for web browsing only, Google will be doing the natural thing and announced Google Chrome OS.  I’ll assume that it will just be a matter of time until the EU tells them they can’t bundle a browser with their operating system… or is it the other way around?


Nelson Rocks Mini9 Desktop

After purchasing a Dell Mini9 a couple weeks ago, I decided to use a photo from my climb at Nelson rocks for the desktop.


(Click the photo for full 1024×600 goodness.)

If you’d like this for your larger screen (or smaller) let me know and I’ll prepare one for any other resolution from the original.

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Broken Filter

A short drop was all it took to break the filter that was on my camera…


Thankfully, the damage was limited to just the filter and lens cap.


Freenode and Mibbit

Earlier today, Freenode started to block all access to their networks from Mibbit.  This allegedly stems from people using Mibbit to evad bans, along with poor communication and responsiveness from Mibbit’s administrators.  As a solution for this issue, Freenode released their own web based IRC client.  After watching #freenode for most of the day, I have to congratulate the Freenode staff for continuing to answer questions, even if they were the same ones, all day.

Based on my observations, here are some of the common questions and concerns:

  • Will Freenode be blocking access from any other client? No.
  • Does this have anything to do with Mibbit being closed source and Freenode using open source software for their web client? No.

And I’ll toss in one more with my own answer:

  • How am I supposed to have my special setup wherever I go? Use something like: screen irssi

Mibbit had their own answer to all of this.


Southeast Linuxfest

Tomorrow I will be attending the first Southeast Linuxfest in Clemson, SC.  I’ll post more tomorrow.


GIMP – Fun With the Rectangle Select Tool

The Rectangle Select Tool in GIMP is a lot more powerful than it first appears.


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GIMP Layers – Mode & Opacity

The next part of this tutorial covers Mode & Opacity.  These two options combine to provide a decent amount of simple, yet powerful layer manipulation in GIMP.


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An Introduction to Layers in GIMP – The Interface

When working on any project in GIMP larger than a few simple tasks, layers become vital to keeping one’s sanity.  For starters, layers allow for quick changes and easy edits.  The more comfortable you are with layers, the more you will find that they are useful.  Through this multipart tutorial, I plan to share as much as I can about the power of using layers.  This first part is a fairly basic one to get everyone comfortable with the basic use of layers.  Even though it is called “The Interface”, I don’t plan on going too deep until later parts of the tutorial. Read the rest of this entry »


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