Category: Life with Ubuntu

Teamviewer 12 and Ubuntu 16.10

I use TeamViewer to hop onto a couple of my friends and family member’s PCs to provide occaisional tech support. I couldn’t get TeamViewer 11 to run no matter what I tried, but the following sequence worked for me with TeamViewer 12.

On my 64bit box I had to tell it to add the files to allow it to run 32bit software.

sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386
sudo apt-get update

Then I created the following script. I named it Put the following text into a file and save it and name it what you want, then set it to be executable (right click and select properties and set the appropriate check box).


sudo apt-get install libdbus-1-3:i386
sudo apt-get install libasound2:i386
sudo apt-get install libexpat1:i386
sudo apt-get install libfontconfig1:i386
sudo apt-get install libfreetype6:i386
sudo apt-get install libjpeg62:i386
sudo apt-get install libpng12-0:i386
sudo apt-get install libsm6:i386
sudo apt-get install libxdamage1:i386
sudo apt-get install libxext6:i386
sudo apt-get install libxfixes3:i386
sudo apt-get install libxinerama1:i386
sudo apt-get install libxrandr2:i386
sudo apt-get install libxrender1:i386
sudo apt-get install libxtst6:i386
sudo apt-get install zlib1g:i386
sudo apt-get install libc6:i386

In the folder where you saved your file, execute it. My file was called so the command I used was

sudo ./

Expect errors. To rectify the errors run the following command. It’s the -f (force) flag that does the magic in this case.

sudo apt-get -f install

Then in the folder you’ve downloaded the TeamViewer deb into run the following command (substitute the appropriate deb filename if it is different).

sudo dpkg -i teamviewer_12.0.71510_i386.deb

That worked for me, TeamViewer fired up and connected as expected. If you’re having difficulty with TeamViewer and Ubuntu 16.10, hopefully these steps might work for you too.

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RaspberryPi and Pushbullet Notifications

I posted previously about using Twlio to get an RPi to send text message notifications to me using a Twilio trial account. These trial accounts used to keep going unless you stopped using them for a period of time, but now they time out like most trial accounts do.

I scouted around looking for another notification method. I didn’t want to use email. I’d previously used sSMTP with some success, but I wanted to try something different.

Pushbullet is working well for me. You can get a free account, and apps for Android and Apple. Once you’ve got your free API authentication key you can make web requests to the Pushbullet service and they’re delivered to your mobile.

I use the cUrl app to make the requests. If you need to install it, you can do so by entering this command in a terminal. (For other unrelated purposes, I also incorporate cUrl into some applications I develop, so I always install the libcurl3 development libraries as well. If you don’t need them you can leave them off the command. For completeness, this is the command I use to install all things cUrl on my boxes.)

sudo apt-get -y install curl libcurl3 libcurl3-dev

Then I create shell scripts similar to the following which can be called by other scripts or applications, or triggered by cron.

In the title= parameter, it is often convenient to use the name of the process you’re reporting on, or the name of the RPi or PC it is running on.


API="enter your API key here"
MSG="This is where you would put your message text"

curl -u $API: -d type=note -d title="Message Title" -d body="$MSG"

Nice and simple, and free.

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Nautilus Showing Hidden Files By Default

Out of nowhere, each time I opened Nautilus it was showing hidden files by default.

If I used Ctrl-H to hide them they went away. But next time I opened Nautilus, they were back. This was a global issue, not something goofy with a single folder. So the issue seemed to reside with Nautilus itself.

I found a way to correct it by using the dconf-editor application. Open dconf-editor (you may need to install it first, it isn’t a default part of Ubuntu 16.04) and navigate to org, gtk, file-chooser and then uncheck the show-hidden checkbox.


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Reigning in the Dash

The Dash in Ubuntu 6.04 had decided to come up in full screen mode every time I opened it. This wasn’t what I wanted. After a period of Googling (during which I was surprised to discover that most questions on the Dash were asking how to make that the default behaviour) I found the command I was looking for:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity form-factor Desktop

Entering this in a terminal forces the Dash to adopt my preferred fashion, taking up the top left of the screen only.


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Google Earth and Ubuntu 16.04

After upgrading to 16.04 (for upgrade, read wipe and re-install) I needed to re-install all my applications. I have a shell script that runs through them and installs them in one quick batch, which is great.

There’s one package that requires manual intervention and I haven’t found a way round that, so I set that to be installed last. When I leave my shell script running and come back to it, it’ll be sat waiting for the few options to be selected in this particular package, and then I’m done. That package is the ttf-mscorefonts-installer package that installs some of the common Microsoft TrueType fonts.

From a backup, I drag back in the appropriate dot folders and files and pull back in my data and that’s it, we’re good to go.

Apart from Google Earth.

Desktop with Google Earth

To install Google Earth in Ubuntu always seems to require a special incantation, and that incantation changes (in my personal experience, your mileage might vary) for each new version of Ubuntu. It’s a pain, because it means it can’t be automated.

Anyway, after the usual period of research and frustration (do people even test the instructions they post online?) I whittled the required steps down to this sequence below.

To be specific, this loaded Google Earth onto Ubuntu 16.04 on an Asus R500V core i7 laptop with an nVidia Geforce 610m graphics card. It has been tested on two other lower-spec dekstop PCs.

You need to download these packages first:

Then open a terminal and cd to the folder containing the downloaded files and install them one after the other.

sudo dpkg -i lsb-security_4.1+Debian13+nmu1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i lsb-invalid-mta_4.1+Debian13+nmu1_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i lsb-core_4.1+Debian13+nmu1_amd64.deb

If you have any dependency issues this should fix them (although on my box it didn’t appear to do anything at all).

sudo apt-get install -f

Reboot, then go to the following page and download the Google Earth .deb. Note that although I have a 64bit machine and 64bit Ubuntu, I had to use the 32bit .deb package.

Install the downloaded file. Substitute the name of the file you’ve downloaded, the 32bit .deb is shown in the example below.

sudo dpkg -i google-earth-stable_current_i386.deb

That should be it. Google Earth should now run. It is still a bit flaky trying to show the embedded Panorama photographs, but that is a feature I never use anyway. If I find a way to make that work I’ll post it here.

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Stop Google Chrome From Asking to Make it the Default Browser

I had a strange problem show up out of the blue on Ubuntu 15.10 with Google Chrome Version 46.0.2490.80 (64-bit). It kept saying it wasn’t the default browse. It opened the ‘Set as default / Don’t ask again’ dialog each time it started.

In the Ubuntu Default Applications dialog Chrome was the default browser, but it still prompted every time it started. It got old real fast.

I did a bit of digging and found a workaround. Edit


..and change the following:

“check_default_browser”: true

to be:

“check_default_browser”: false

Save the file and reboot.

Until a bug fix comes round that’ll have to do. The same thing is currently happening with Chromium too.

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The Case of the Vanishing Cursor in 15.04

I’d been having an issue in 15.04 with Nvidia graphics where the cursor vanished when it was pushed right to the top of the screen. Using menus or closing maximised windows was tough. I eventually found a solution in this bug listing.

Near the bottom there is an entry by Heath Jones (hjones014) from the 2015-05-18.

He says:

“I finally remedied the problem, using the xorg-edgers ppa. This is what I did –

1. sudo apt-add-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
2. sudo apt-get update
3. goto additional drivers and select driver 349.16
4. reboot
5. goto software/updates and goto the “Other Software” tab and UNCHECK the xorg-edgers ppa. I DID NOT PURGE THIS PPA.

The reason why I nixed this ppa is because after selecting driver 349, the software updater would try to pull in other updates from the xorg-edgers ppa which kept crashing my system. This allowed me to keep the driver 349 and not pull in any other updates. If you do a ppa-purge, it will also nix the driver, hence why i just unchecked it in the sources tab.”

I followed those instructions and it worked for me. Hopefully it’ll help someone else.

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Restarting the Printing Daemon

I’ve got a recurring issue with my laptop, that even a recent re-install didn’t cure. Periodically, but thankfully not too frequently, when I attempt to print from within an application such as LibreOffice, none of my printers are listed. I haven’t got to the bottom of it yet, but I have a recovery step that doesn’t take much to perform, so it hasn’t become too much of a pain yet.

The quick remedy (but alas not the cure) is to execute the following in a terminal window:

sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart

Straight away my printers are back. I’ll dig deeper into it once I get a spare hour or two.

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Shellshock – What To Do To Make Yourself Safe

Shellshock is a vulnerability in the Bash shell. A shell is the program that provides a command line interface. Bash is the default shell in the Ubuntu universe. The Bash shell is vulnerable to a particular type of attack, described here: GNU Bash Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2014-6271).

To determine if your Ubuntu box is vulnerable, Type the following at a command line, and then press enter. It is probably easiest to copy this and paste it into the terminal window, it must be typed exactly as shown and the spaces are important.

env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable’ bash -c “echo this is a test”

If your system has the vulnerability, the output to the terminal window will be:

this is a test

If your system is secure, the output to the terminal window could show one of two things. One is this longer message:

bash: warning: x: ignoring function definition attempt
bash: error importing function definition for `x’
this is a test

The other, shorter message is simply:

This is a test

If you find you have the vulnerability you can update your system to a patched version of Bash by entering the following at a command line and then pressing enter:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

You will be prompted for your password. A lot of screen output will be displayed, and eventually you will be returned to a command prompt. You can then repeat the above test to check that the vulnerability has now been secured.

Following my own updates on my Trusty Tahr 14.04 the version of Bash I was upgraded to is version 4.3.11(1)-release, and this passes the vulnerability test.

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Saucy, a US keyboard and the £ sign

Well, time´s gone by, and I did eventually get my desktop up onto Raring. For the most part it has been stable and well-behaved, and a good daily driver. Of course, along came Saucy. I tried that on my desktop and had issues with the App Centre (of all things) so I had to roll back.

On the other hand Saucy has taken to my laptop without any issues what so ever, and I would even go as far to say it is the best Ubuntu experience I´ve had yet. It is fast and responsive, looks good and works perfectly with the hardware of my laptop. It´s an Intel Core i7, Nvidia GeForce 610M-powered ASUS. And it flies.

There is one peculiarity with it, it has an American keyboard and I want to get UK characters out of it, such as the UK pound sign £. You can do this by setting the keyboard to English (US, Alternative International).

I can then type a £ by holding the menu key (alongside the right Alt key) and pressing the = key, releasing both and then quickly pressing the l key. Bit of a faff, but it works.

I´m going to give it a few more weeks and then try Saucy on my desktop again.