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Installing Vista Fonts in Ubuntu September 16, 2007

Posted by Carthik in guides, looks and feel, microsoft, packages, ubuntu.

Microsoft’s new ClearType fonts for Vista are great. The fonts include Constantia, Corbel, Calibri, Cambria, Candara and Consolas.
Microsoft Vista Fonts

Getting them installed in Ubuntu is a breeze, thanks to a script I found.
To install the Vista ClearType fonts in Ubuntu, you need to install cabextract first. Cabextract is a utility found in the universe repository, so before you run the following command, make sure you have universe enabled in your repository list. Once this is done, install cabextract using:
$sudo apt-get install cabextract

Then, once that is done, use this script to install the Vista fonts. Create a file called “vista-fonts-installer.sh” in your home (~) directory.
Then open up a text editor and copy and paste the script into that file.
Do a chmod a+x ~/vista-fonts-installer.sh to make the file/script executable.
Then run the script using:
$ ~/vista-fonts-installer.sh

The script downloads the Powerpoint Viewer installer from microsoft.com, and then extracts the Vista cleartype fonts using cabextract. These fonts are then installed in the ~/.fonts directory.

Please remember that the ClearType Vista fonts are not free as in they are not GPL-ed or made available under a re-distributable license. Since you are downloading the fonts from the MS website, and since you might already have a Windows XP/Vista license, this is not a crime, but consider yourself warned against the perils of supporting closed systems πŸ™‚


  1. Looks like the use of these fonts are restricted to only Microsoft Windows/Vista operating systems according to the terms of the license. I am sorry, but you’ll be installing them at your own risk.
  2. Also, please make sure you use the bash shell, or change the first line of the code to #!/bin/bash
  3. In retrospect, this was a bad post – I think we’re better off not using stuff folks don’t want us to use – let’s use the better, freer, easier to install fonts.

300+ Easily Installed Free Fonts for Ubuntu May 21, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, gnome, looks and feel, packages, ubuntu.

Ubuntu offers a lot of fonts, in addition to the defaults installed, and the MicroSoft msttcorefonts package, in its repositories. All these fonts mentioned here are provided as packages, which can easily installed using command line tools like apt-get or using Synaptic. These fonts will come in handy for designing flyers, or for designing headers and graphics for the web using the Gimp. Also, some of these fonts are pretty commonly used to render pages, like Lucida.

I will save the packages with the biggest collection of fonts for the end here. Since I have included screenshots of most of the fonts, and this article is sorta long, please read on by clicking the “More” link below.


Ubuntu-tan Wallpapers Make Up for Missing Ubuntu Mascot April 11, 2007

Posted by Carthik in looks and feel, ubuntu.

There is some small talk about the need for an Ubuntu Mascot at the Ubuntu-sounder mailing list. Though there are suggestions for a space-helmet sporting penguin, the idea hasn’t come to anything so far. In an email in the thread, there was link to some OS-tans to temporarily make up for the lack of a mascot. Its about time Ubuntu got a chweet-overloaded mascot,for the kids if not for us, don’t you think?

Without much further ado, here’s a couple of OS-tans for you to love, and to optionally invite to reside on your desktop πŸ™‚

Ubuntu tan 1

To avoid flooding the planet with pictures, there are two more pics, and some more details below.

Ubuntu’s New Website March 17, 2007

Posted by Carthik in looks and feel, ubuntu, Ubuntu Sites.

Ubuntu’s new website is the talk of the town.
Color me impressed!

Ubuntu's new website
To read more about the creation of the new design, visit Matt Nuzum’s article on the redesign of the website.

The decision was difficult. We finally chose Drupal. They have excellent documentation, the cms is easy to extend through modules, they have a responsive security team and it’s easy to learn to edit and add content…each server can now handling(sic) 5,000 to 6,000 simul connections.

Congrats to Matt, the sysadmins and Canonical for a job well done!

Also, interestingly enough, I found that ubuntusucks.com redirects one to ubuntu.com. Talk about pre-emptive measures!

Of Apples and Oranges, GNOME and KDE February 17, 2007

Posted by Carthik in commentary, gnome, looks and feel, ubuntu.

I find it very annoying the the apple developers fail to provide many of the features that have been standard with oranges for years. For example in oranges there is a very hand segment feature which allows the fruit to be broken up into small convenient bite size peaces. With apples the only way to do this is to use a third party utility such as a knife. I have tried to submit patches to get segments into apples but the developers arn’t interested telling me that it is just to much the orange way and thats not the way apples are. Against this kind of mentality what can you do. Lets not even get on to oranges convenient juice feature and how hard it is to get juice out of apples. (Hint requires a full application suit).

This made my day.

So Linus wrote a few patches to make GNOME work his way. The above quote is a comment to that article.

I find Linus’ GNOME-bashing phenomenally, umm, retarded (**). GNOME is made for those who want computers to be usable. I am sure there are many who appreciate KDE’s configurability, but the first feeling that hits me on logging into KDE is a feeling of being lost. I dread having to find something, since it most definitely will be placed in some non-intuitive sub-menu. I dread to think I have a choice to change “anything I want” to the way I want it to be, since I will have to find where to change it first, or what “feature x” is called in KDE. I lack KDE context – maybe with a few months/years of use, I will feel at home in KDE. But that brings home the beauty of GNOME – I felt at home by the time I had logged out of it after the first time I used it recently.

A little bit of history, now, if you will. The first time ever I used Linux was in the Summer of 1999. I was an undergrad back then, and on red hat I had the choice of GNOME and KDE. GNOME use Enlightenment as the window manager back then. I hated it the first time I used it, and I used KDE. But back then I did not have a computer to call my own. So whenever I used Linux (which was like once in two months or so), I used KDE.

The bad impression I had about GNOME persisted in my mind.

Then, when Ubuntu was released, I sort of regretted the fact that it used GNOME by default. Still, now that I had a computer of my own, I decided to give it a shot, after failing to get my network card working with a whole lot of other OSes.

I fell in love with GNOME. It was love at first sight. The emotional response was inexplicable, hence I call it “love” – which is a strong word! I could not figure it out, given my bad memories related to GNOME. Later, I installed Kubuntu as soon as it was available, to see if KDE would be better for me. Surprisingly, after a few months of GNOME, I could not stand KDE.

None of this goes to say that I hate KDE. In fact, I love some things KDE gets right, like how their apps interoperate beautifully (DCOP), and how apps like Amarok blow my socks off. I love the Konqueror idea – one browser to browse everything from files on a remote server, to webpages, to local files. I just happen to love the clean, orgnaized world of GNOME better. I like the way GNOME display fonts on the screen. I don’t want to have to change every little variable to get the perfect system. I want a good, functional, usable system. I will trade-in customizability for usability. Yes, I find GNOME’s lack of some features frustrating. I’d rather live with that than with the frustration of not finding where or how to change behavior “X” in KDE. The knowledge that something is customizable makes me want to customize it, and causes frustration when I am not able to find out how to do it.

Someday, I will do a side-by-side comparison of GNOME and KDE with respect to various factors like usability, features, etc. Finding a baseline list of “which is better” is hard, especially when it comes to usability. Defining a series of “tests” to impartially compare the two systems with regards to usability is hard, if not impossible – and that keeps me from going forward. X vs. XP does a pretty good job of comparing OSX and Windows XP. So, with an investment of a significant amount of time, I should be able to create a comparison. Searching for feature comparisons, or guides to choose from between KDE and GNOME either yield subjective articles, or biased commentary, such as this article. This has to change. There has to be a page to answer the question, “so what is the essential difference between KDE and GNOME, and what can I read to make a good decision regarding which of the two to use?”

The Absurdity of GNOME Font Sizes February 3, 2007

Posted by Carthik in looks and feel, ubuntu.

The Fonts used and the way they are displayed on the screen play a vital role in how we users interact with, and how much we love the operating system.

Federico has a very intelligent critique of the Gnome Font (size) Management.

What is “Terminal font”? Is that the font they use on your tombstone when you die?

Jokes aside, the article throws some light on a long-standing question I have had:

What does the “Size” referred to in the GNOME Font Management menu actually refer to? What are the units used? (They are not pixels, and they are not points, or mms). He says the “Size” field virtually means nothing. It is not meaningful.

For long, one the first things I do after installing Ubuntu is to tweak the “DPI” setting to something lower than the default 96. There is no other way to have a shorter (thinner) GNOME taskbar on my desktop. I have to reduce the DPI to have sane font sizes everywhere. I guess I could have changed the font sizes, but reducing the DPI reduced all the font size in one fell swoop. I recall thinking that it was really weird I could change the DPI setting. A usability-oriented, user-friendly GUI such as GNOME, which prides itself on being more easily understood, and having less (confusing) options certainly could do without the “DPI” setting.

This also brings to mind what a friend said when he logged into a GNOME session for the first time after Ubuntu had been installed. He said, “There is something wrong – everything is so big,” and then he proceeded to check if the resolution was right – it was. I then had to help him tweak the DPI setting and the font size settings, and he kept asking me, “So why does the taskbar on the top and the bottom have to be so fat?.” Exactly what I thought when I first saw a GNOME desktop.

Usability considerations are not to be taken lightly – user interfaces must serve the largest-possible cross section of people. But for ordinary normal folks, used to the teeny-tiny, but well-rendered fonts in Windows or OSX, maybe we need to have an easy way to make the fonts and text appear reasonably sized.

Ubuntu Satanic Edition, Anyone? December 15, 2006

Posted by Carthik in looks and feel.

The Ubuntu Satanic Edition features a theme set, that includes a login screen, desktop background etc, and a play on the names of the releases (Evil Edgy, Feisty Spawn etc)…

Good joke, and I would use the login screen if not for the “Ubuntu Satanic Edition” text in there.

Disable Touchpad Temporarily When Typing September 20, 2006

Posted by Carthik in commands, guides, looks and feel, ubuntu.

Earlier, I wrote about how to enable/disable your touchpad using the synclient command.

Recently, I faced a different problem. When typing on the new laptop that I got, my thumb often accidentally brushes the touchpad, and this leads to me continuing to type things in entirely a different place. This is because the thumb moves the mouse pointer to a different spot that where the typing cursor is, and then there is an accidental click. Argh! very annoying.

The good news is, I figured out how to fix this using syndaemon!

syndaemon watches activity on the keyboard and can disable your synaptics touchpad for a variable period after it detects activity on the keyboard. Here’s how I use it:

First, I edited the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and added the Option “SHMConfig” “on” line to the section called “Input Device” for the Synaptic Touchpad input device.

Then I restarted X (by using the ctrl+alt+backspace key combination).
Once I was logged in, I used syndaemon as $syndaemon -t -d

The -t option specifies that only the tapping and scrolling actions are to be disabled, I can still move the cursor around while typing on the keyboard.
The -d option asks syndaemon to run in the background as a daemon, so I don’t have to keep the terminal open after executing the command.

You can disable the touchpad entirely by not using the -t option.

By default, syndaemon disables the touchpad for 2 seconds after the last keyboard activity. You can change this by specifying the idle-time using the -i option. Read the manual for all details: $man syndaemon.

To make syndaemon start up by default each time you login, add it to the list of Startup Programs in System->Preferences->Sessions. I have the following command added there now: syndaemon -t -d. Log out and log back in to see if its working for you.

Re-do Ubuntu In Blue July 30, 2006

Posted by Carthik in looks and feel, ubuntu.

Since a one-off complaint about Ubuntu is it’s “brownness”, I thought I’d mention a couple of quick and easy ways to make your Ubuntu blue if you like your operating system to be blue. I, by the way, love Ubuntu’s brown theme – that was one thing that really made an impression on me the first time – I mean, everything else is blue, so a change was refreshing to me.

For this post, I don’t have to do much work. A couple of folks have made it a lot easier for me, and I don’t see the point in rewriting the already excellent descriptions.

So let’s get down to converting Ubuntu to blue, shall we?:

Teenage Tantrum’s guide is very comprehensive and covers all bases. He even mentions the Blubuntu Ubuntu Artwork project which seems to suggest that a “unified” blubuntu theme will be available to users after August 12th.

Brent Roos’ Prescription includes a GTK theme, a metacity theme and an Icon theme with detailed instructions on how to get and install them. Note: The tango icon theme is very blue and in my opinion, very pretty. You might want to keep that as an option for the icons.

I haven’t had any customization or style guides posted here so far since I think it is all a matter of personal taste. I use a brown + graphite theme on both my computers and am happy with it. If you like screenshots and would like me to feature cool “looks” let me know, and I will try my best.