Find Out the Version of Ubuntu

Here’s a fast way to find out the version of Ubuntu.

Open a Terminal window (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+T), and then enter the following command:

lsb_release -a

And you’ll see some output like this:

Example output of the command,.
Example output of finding the Ubuntu version

Installing KompoZer in Quantal Quetzal

It was only recently that I upgraded my desktop PC to Quental (12.10). I had upgraded my laptop and that ran well, but my desktop had issues Precise (with 12.04) and so I was wary about taking my desktop up to Quental. My thinking was that I would give Quental time to stabilise and get a few patches out, and then I’d upgrade. That’s what I did and I’m pleased to say my desktop likes Quental (and vice versa) so once again my two machines are running on the latest and greatest Ubuntu, and with no apparent issues.

So that was good, but I was dismayed that a few of my favourite applications were no longer included in the 12.10 distribution. That was no major problem, I just installed them from the Ubuntu Software Centre. But KompoZer, one of my often used applications, had been removed from the Ubuntu Software Centre (although it does seem to be back now). Just in case it vanishes again and you need to install it, you can get the two required packages from the links below. One is for KompoZer itself, the other is described as ‘KompoZer data files’. You need to install the data files first.

Follow the links below and then download the .debs. Double-click the downloaded .debs to install them.

KompoZer Data Files

KompoZer Application

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Raring Ringtail Development Schedule

The development schedule for the April 2013 release of Raring Ringtail is shown here.

Third Time is the Charm

I’ve never had the best of luck with Ubuntu on laptops. Several years ago I loaded a version onto an old Compaq laptop I had lying around, but no matter what I did I couldn’t get the wireless networking to behave. Or, in fact, to work at all. I gave up with that particular struggle and left it for a while, thinking I would come back to it when a few more versions of Ubuntu had come and gone. A little more recently I thought it was time to try again with a recent version of Ubuntu. But age had not been kind to the Compaq, there are bad sectors on the hard disk and so Ubuntu won’t install. It detects the bad sectors, complains and drops out of the install. So I abandoned that idea and decided to wait until I can get my hands on a donor (read: free) hard disk for it.

Then I remembered that my wife has a new desktop PC, a Nexus 7 tablet and a new work laptop into the bargain. Her personal laptop was lying around gathering dust. One quick period of negotiation later and I had permission to throw Ubuntu 12.04 onto it.

This went on like a dream and to my surprise, joy and (let’s be honest) relief Ubuntu found and worked with all of the hitherto tricky bits that sometimes blight the Ubuntu and laptops experience.

Ubuntu 12.04 found and correctly configured the networking, both the wired and the wireless. It correctly set up the touchpad, the roller-wheel volume control and the scroll up/down swipe pad at the edge of the touchpad. It also works with the inbuilt graphics card just fine. Unity works in a fast and slick fashion and all of the compiz eye-candy like wobbly windows works, first time, with no no manual intervention required.

As laptops go it is fairly modest (in all things apart from weight and size). It is a Toshiba something of a certain age (it originally came with Vista). It has a 1280×800 screen, and is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7250 @ 2.00GHz. It boasts a meagre 1 GB of RAM and an 85 GB hard disk. Nevertheless it runs just fine. It isn’t blazingly fast but it works fast enough that you don’t feel limited by it. But for me the best part of this whole experiment is that everything worked, right off the bat. If I close the lid it goes into hibernation. If I press the menu key beside the Alt Gr key I get a right-click context menu. Small things all of them, when counted on their own, but it does show just how far Ubuntu has come.

Forgive me Ubuntu for my lack of faith. I should have known better – it was just a matter of time.

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Transparent Terminal Windows

I saw an Ubuntu desktop recently with semi-transparent terminal windows. I’m not a great one for UI tweaks and themes but this looked good to me, and I was intrigued about how it was achieved. My Unity UI is more or less standard. I’ve changed the wallpaper, reduced the size of the icons within the launcher and have Conky running. Apart from that it is basically your standard Unity.

I didn’t want to have to install new themes or UI tweaking applications just to achieve transparent terminal windows which, let’s face it, are nothing more than eye-candy, so it was a pleasant surprise to find out it is controlled by a setting that is built right into the standard terminal window.

Open a terminal window and from the main menu select:
Edit, Profile Preferences, Background Tab and then select the Transparent background option. You can use the slider to set the degree of transparency.

Desktop with transparent terminal windows
Desktop with transparent terminal windows
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Shared Folders Between Two Ubuntu PCs

I was recently asked how to share folders between two Linux PCs. I didn’t know off-hand but I said I’d look into it. To research this I’d need two Linux PCs, so I used my main Ubunto PC (Nostromo) as one and a VirtualBox PC running Ubuntu as the other. The virtual PC was called Sandbox. Sandbox was configured so that it and Nostromo were on the same network. They could ping one another.

As it turned out the process of setting up shared folders was nice and straightforward.  I first created a folder on Nostromo called Nostromo. I right-clicked it and selected Sharing Options.

Right-Click Folder Options
Right-Click Folder Options

The Folder Sharing options dialog popped up. I selected the Share this folder option and then clicked the Create Share button.

Folder Sharing Dialog
Folder Sharing Dialog

I was prompted to install the Windows Network Sharing service. I typed in my root password and the files were downloaded and installed. I was then prompted to reboot.

The Nostromo folder now had a two way arrow icon on it, indicating it was shared.

Nostromo folder with Sharing icon
Nostromo folder with Sharing icon

I repeated this on Sandbox. I created a folder on Sandbox called Sandbox, and set up a share on that folder. I had to go through the same steps as above, and then reboot. That folder now showed a hand icon, showing that it was shared. The visual differences in the UI and in the sharing symbols is because Sandbox wasn’t running the Unity interface.

Sandbox folder with Sharing icon
Sandbox folder with Sharing icon

I highlighted the Network entry in the desktop browser on Sandbox and saw that the Nostromo PC and the Sandbox PC were both listed in the network window.

Network entries on the Sandbox PC
Network entries on the Sandbox PC

I double clicked on the Nostromo computer icon and the display changed to show the shares that were available on the Nostromo computer.

Shares on Nostromo visible on Sandbox
Shares on Nostromo visible on Sandbox

The Nostromo folder was listed (but without the capital N for some reason). When I double-clicked it to open it I was prompted for the login details of an account on Nostromo that had permission to access this file. Because the folder I had shared was in my home folder I entered my normal user details for Nostromo. (If I had clicked the Guest Access option in the Folder Sharing dialog I wouldn’t have had to do this step.)

I saw that the test file I had placed in that folder on Nostromo was visible and accessible from Sandbox.

Test file on Nostromo accessible from Sandbox
Test file on Nostromo accessible from Sandbox

And that was that.

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Going back to Natty

On the 13th October 2011 the latest version of Ubuntu became generally available. It is called Oneiric Ocelot, and some of the enhancements contained in this release are listed in this lifehacker article: Ubuntu Linux 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” Released; Here’s What’s New

Because of my strict habit of backing up my computer to two separate external devices on each and every day on which I have used it, I decided it would be easier to blow it away and install Oneiric from scratch. I have my backups to get my data and program settings back from, so why not? The alternative was to do an over the top upgrade but I thought i’d take the opportunity to have a clean and fresh install.

I installed Oneiric and then pulled back my data and added my small list of must-have applications from the Ubuntu Software Centre. Within 2 hours I was all done. Happy days? Not quite. After a few days working with 11.10 I have reversed the process and gone back to using Natty Narwhal, 11.04.

Why?

Well, there are a lot of small nice touches in Oneiric. Many of the new items that were introduced in Natty, especially to do with the Unity interface, have been refined and improved. You can see where the developers and designers are trying to get to, and they’re showing great promise in getting there. But there are a few niggling glitches that I can’t put up with.

Quite often an application will open with its menu bar hidden, tucked underneath the status bar of the desktop. Applications periodically need to be forcibly shut because they have frozen. Programs that worked fine in Natty have a stubborn streak in Oneiric. Sometimes things need two clicks when one should have been enough. Cumulatively there were too many small annoyances, so I reverted to Natty.

I will wait until Ubuntu 12.04 comes out, and see what the experience with Precise Pangolin is like. The 12.04 release is going to be a LTS release, which means it is a Long Term Support release. Between now and then the Ubuntu developers and designers will be doing much more work in refining and polishing the Unity interface and, importantly, the developers of the applications will be able to make the small tweaks and changes to their software to make it integrate and perform in Unity cohesively.

I’m not discouraged by my experience of Oneiric, instead I am excited about the potential for Precise Pangolin.

Here, Canonical talk about their Long Term Support being extended from 3 to 5 years: Ubuntu 12.04 to feature extended support period for desktop users

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Easily get your own QR code

If you go to QR Stuff you can easily get a free QR code.

My QR Code
My QR Code
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Wubi – Windows Ubuntu Installer

I have an old Compaq laptop that I thought I’d put Ubuntu on. Unfortunately the hard disk is damaged and there must be bad sectors on it. Ubuntu therefore refuses to install.

I know – I should get a new hard disk and be done with it, but all I wanted to do was have a spare machine for testing and messing about. I also wanted to do some tests with Ubuntu and WiFi, and my desktop PC is hardwired and doesn’t use WiFi. If I was doing anything serious with the laptop I’d get a new hard disk for it – but I’m not, so I won’t.

As I say, Ubuntu checks the integrity of the disk before commencing the main part of the installation and refuses to install. Windows XP of course was either oblivious or uncaring – it installed without a murmur.

Wubi is an installer for Ubuntu that runs within Windows. It makes it easy to set up a dual-boot system. It also allows you to uninstall Ubuntu and revert to a single-boot Windows machine by going to the Add/Remove Programs settings within Windows and removing the Ubuntu entry.

I wondered. If Windows had gone over-written the bad sectors with Windows files, the Wubi installer wouldn’t have to check those areas of the hard disk. Perhaps I could get Ubuntu on to that disk through Windows, even though the naked Ubuntu install refused to co-operate.

Wubi is a small program (1.45 Mbyte), it doesn’t include the installation files themselves. I downloaded it and dropped it into a folder with the Ubuntu 11.04 ISO image file and started the Wubi.exe. it located the Ubuntu ISO image, and offered me a few settings I could provide values for, such as user name, password and how much of the hard disk to set aside as the Ubuntu partition.

It churned away to itself for a little while and then rebooted the laptop and the normal Ubuntu installation took place. When that was finished I had a dual boot laptop with Ubuntu 11.04 and Windows XP.

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Oneiric Ocelot Development and Release Cycle

I found this release cycle and development time line. It shows the release schedule and development phases of the next version of Ubuntu, which is code-named Oneiric Ocelot. It will be numbered 11.10.

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