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Thoughts that make me go hmmm! August 14, 2007

Posted by Carthik in snippets, ubuntu.

This thought just struck me: the GNOME “save file” icon is still an image of a floppy (or it is at least in Gnumeric). How many people still remember what a floppy looks like?

Should the save icon be replaced by something else (a picture of a cd/usb drive)? Or should floppy discs be “icon”ized forever?
Somehow, all these days, the above thought never occurred to me. That icon with a floppy drive in it meant “Save” and to be honest, I have failed to think “floppy” when I have seen the icon before.

Preserve Threaded View in Thunderbird May 20, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, Friends Etc., snippets.

Via Chris Ilias’ Blog comes this gem of a tip.

If you use Mozilla Thunderbird, and love the threaded view, but hate losing the threaded view whenever you click on “Sender” or “Date” to sort the messages, then this is the tip for you. This helps you keep the threaded view regardless of how you sort the messages.

Go to Tools–>Options–>Advanced–>General, and select the Config Editor option.

Thunderbird Threaded View

In the Config Editor, search for “mailnews.thread_pane_column_unthreads” by typing it in at the top. When you see the preference, change the value from “True” to “False” by double-clicking on it, or by right clicking and changing the value. This will help you keep the threaded view stuck across the different sorting methods.

I find the threaded view useful when browsing the list of bug-related emails, for one. Of course, I use the Claws GTK email client much more than I do Thunderbird, but I have Thunderbird setup on an infrequently used office computer, and I thought many of you might be using Thunderbird anyways.

Using “tee” to write to files and the terminal May 17, 2007

Posted by Carthik in administration, commands, snippets, ubuntu.

The utility “tee” is very useful for plumbing on the command line. Curiously enough, it gets its name from the T-splitter used in plumbing, shown below:
T-splitter used in Plumbing

Say you want to run a command, and be able to see the output and errors on the screen, and be able to save them to a file. That’s where tee comes in, so you could do a:
$sudo apt-get upgrade 2>&1 | tee ~/apt-get.log
…to run apt-get upgrade and save the output and errors to the file apt-get.log in your home directory.

Purists please excuse the following explanation 🙂 The “2” refers to the “tap” from which the errors pour out (called stderr). The “1” refers to the tap from which the output pours out. The 2>&1 makes the errors to also pour out of the output tap. So then stderr goes to stdout. The pipe “|” redirects the output to tee. Now tee splits the output of the previous command two ways, and puts it both in ~/apt-get.log and in the standard output, which happens to be your screen/terminal.

tee is also handy when you have a small permissions problem. Say you want to write some text to a file “filename.txt” owned by the “root” user – you would just use something like:
$sudo vim filename.txt
and then change the file, right?

Now suppose you want to echo what you write, and write the file, all in one command, you then can use tee thusly:
$echo "localhost" | sudo tee filename.txt > /dev/null

This would write the text “localhost” to the file filename.txt which is not owned by you. The output of tee itself will go to /dev/null (nothingness) instead of the standard output, which is your terminal.

Don’t lose sleep over this, but someday it will come handy, and when you can figure out why the “sudo” does not apply after the “>” in your command, remember tee and come back here.

For all your command line redirecting needs, and to learn to wield pipes and tees like nunchakus read this excellent page.

Ubuntu’s Logo Copied By ReviewIt Mag April 12, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., snippets, ubuntu.

The latest edition of Reviewit Magazine features the Ubuntu Logo on the 37th page. (via Digg). Also, as Jeff points out, they also use imagery from the Fedora stable(the bubbles), and so it is twice lame. Thanks for pointing these out, Jeff.

ReviewIt magazine copies Ubuntu Logo

Earlier there was that offending MSN Spaces Logo which looked close but wasn’t a 100% copy. That logo is not being used by spaces now, which is now called Windows Live Spaces.

So what do we do about blatant trademark violations? Somehow, the idea of a corporation that aggressively pursues copyright and trademark violation does not fit in with Open Culture. That said, it is essential to maintain the integrity of Ubuntu’s branding. I suppose since the magazine in question is not so popular, and since it is a one-off violation, nothing will be done about this (then again, I might be wrong).

By the way, I have been blogging here at a crazy rate over the past day or two. Most of the posts have been news or opinion items. This is so unlike me 🙂 This is the last of them, I promise. It is tempting to blog about every little Ubuntu related thing that I think is interesting, but doing that takes me a little farther from the blog’s stated goal.

Update: Earlier I had implied that the logo appeared in an advertisement. It was not an ad – it was an article in the magazine. So, since it is no fault of the institution featured in the magazine, I have removed references to the institution in the article above. I apologize if I misled/misinformed anyone temporarily. I have also edited some comments below to remove references to the institution mentioned upon request. I received two emails – one each from the institution and from the magazine that seem to confirm that the logo appeared in an article, not an advertisement. Thank you!

Remove Wrong Firefox Auto-suggest text February 23, 2007

Posted by Carthik in snippets, ubuntu.

I found the solution to another long standing gripe I had with Firefox – if you mistype a url once in the url bar, the ‘fox remembers it for a long long time. So I’d type “ubintu” once, and then, each time I type “ubu”, firefox autocompletes the url with “ubintu….” which is very annoying.

Lifehacker tells me that I delete those annoying typos using Shift+Delete. So the next time the bugger pops up, I will delete ubintu.wordpress.com! It also works for form text entry fields.

I am sure more than a few readers would be as glad as I was when I read about this 🙂

Find Hardware Specs (Details) on your Computer February 18, 2007

Posted by Carthik in commands, snippets, ubuntu.

I stumbled upon the nifty “lshw” tool today. lshw lists your hardware. Try it now:
$sudo lshw

You can get specific details by using the -C flag:
$sudo lshw -C disk
will list all you hard disks.

It create an html page with your hardware details if you do a:
$sudo lshw -html > your-file-name.html

I generated one for my laptop and put it up for future reference
. Now I have an answer to the question, “what network adapter do you have, or what wireless driver are you using?”

I know, this is something probably all of you know already. I just found out about this little tool today. I expect this info might be useful for those of you just learning the ropes, like me.

Fix Firefox Backspace to Take You to the Previous Page December 21, 2006

Posted by Carthik in bugsquashing, snippets, ubuntu.

In a surprising development that seems really strange and unnecessary, Firefox 2.0 won’t go to the previous page when I press the “backspace” button on the keyboard. I have grown used to this over the period I have used Firefox. The fact that I can’t use backspace the way I am used to has been annoying me no end. So I decided to dig a little deeper.

The feature was removed to fix a bug. The bug that was caused by fixing the previous bug, which is that the backspace does not behave like it should has been fixed too (Thank heavens!)

But then, until the bug fix propagates to a firefox build available on Ubuntu, one has to resort to a little scratching to fix the matter. Here’s how you resurrect the backspace button in Firefox 2.0 (current as of this date):

Type “about:config” in the address bar of Firefox and press Enter.
`Filter` for ‘browser.backspace_action’ and change its value to 0 (zero).

No .Trash on External USB Drives September 13, 2006

Posted by Carthik in snippets, ubuntu.

Nautilus creates a .Trash-xxx directory on external USB drives when you delete something on them. Now this directory will take up space since it has a copy of the files you deleted. You sure can empty the “Trash” on the external USB drive immediately, but if you forget then it can annoy you at random. For example, after deleting all the files from my 256 MB USB drive, I took it to school, and no matter what I did I could not save new photos on the disk, since it was out of space. You may not be able to empty the “Trash” on another computer, especially if you have a different username on that computer. Also, in the past, items in the .Trash folder in external USB drives would cause the trash applet on my panel to show that it had files in it. Right clicking on it and emptying it would not cause the icon to get back to the the “empty” state.

You can fix all this by adding a “Delete” option in Nautilus that straightaway deletes your files without first putting them in the recycle bin (or Trash). After you enable this option, right clicking on a file in nautilus will give you two options “Move to Trash” and “Delete”. I use “Delete” for files on External USB Drives and this then prevents the .Trash-xxx folder from being created on the drives. Here’s how you can enable the “Delete” option. Open Nautilus, then go to the “Edit -> Preferences” option in the top menu. Then in the menu that shows, choose the “Include a Delete command that bypasses Trash”. That’s it, you’ve enabled the delete option.
Enable delete in Nautilus
If you often find yourself looking in Trash for files you have accidently deleted that you suddenly need, then be careful how you delete stuff! After enabling the option, using the “Del” key on the keyboard is a shortcut to move an item to Trash and “Shift + Del” instantly deletes the item without putting it in Trash. Of course, as I said before, for those of you who use the mouse more, right clicking on an item in Nautilus, or the desktop will now show you options for both ways of removing the item.

Download and Install the Ubuntu Title Font July 12, 2006

Posted by Carthik in snippets, ubuntu.

I found a precious little gem quite by accident when I was using Synaptic (the package installer) today.

The package ttf-ubuntu-title consists of the font used by Ubuntu’s logo, you know, the familiar font used for the letters below:
Ubuntu Logo

So, a
$sudo apt-get install ttf-ubuntu-title
will install the font and make it available to GIMP, OpenOffice and everywhere else that you can use fonts.

If you only want the font, to install it on another OS or such, you can get it here. The font is an OpenType Font, which installs just like a TrueType font. The font is licensed using the LGPL, for those of you who wish to know.

I must say the font is very nice, easy on the eyes, readable and suitable for titles.

Clean Up Old Thumbnails February 15, 2006

Posted by Carthik in administration, commands, maintenance, snippets, ubuntu.

The nautilus file manager shows you thumbnails of images, pdf files etc when you are browsing your directories. But you already know that. Nautilus also saves a copy of the thumbnails for later, to speed things up. The thumbnails are stored in your ~/.thumbnails directory. Over time, thumbnails keep accumulating, since, even if you delete a file (an image, say), the thumbnail remains. Cleaning this up might save you some space. It saved me about 650MB!

I found this neat command that you can execute to find and delete thumbnails that have not been accessed in the last 7 days. Deleting a thumbnail should not affect anything much, since if Nautilus cannot find a thumbnail, it will just create one anew.

$find ~/.thumbnails -type f -atime +7 -exec rm {} \;

You can put that code in your cron if you like, to have it run every month or so.