Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot Tips and Tweaks

After having a look at the more specific driver issues related to installing the latest version of Ubuntu linux on my Toshiba Tablets, it’s time to have a more general – and, hopefully, useful to more readers – look at what’s new and what needs to be changed in this new install. Obviously, I’m building upon my previous install notes (10.10).

ocelotI’ve no idea what Unity is doing and why is messing with the Systray: it seems the Gnome has pushed the concept of “clean desktop” and “hiding crap from the user” so far that it makes users like me feel like Alice in Wonderland with pedophile rabbits. Not good. Anyway, here’s what I was able to gather on fixing the damn thing..

To further customize Unity 3D you need to instal CCSM, sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager; if anything goes wrong and want to reset run

gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/compiz-1
unity --reset

..(or just unit-reset for Unity)

Some old, familiar apps may no longer appear in the tray, where you expect them to be.

For Unity 2D, the story is long. Now, there may be other new apps you want to install, but what about the old ones? As it turns out, they will not show up in the new “indicator” thingie unless you trick it. QT-based apps (Skype, VLC) show by default because of sni-qt which will convert automatically systray icons into indicators. The systray is still available for Wine, Java, scp-dbus-service and Update-notifier only but you can whitelist all applications ( gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['all']" ) just like in Ubuntu 11.04 - and that bug that caused the non-clickable indicators issue seems to have been fixed. To whitelist selectively, replace ‘all’ with the app names separated by coma, e.g., 'Wine', 'Skype' etc.

The above can also be accomplished using a GUI tool called dconf-editor, part of dconf-tools. Once installed, run dconf-editor then navigate to desktop > unity > panel and to enable the Notification Area (Systray) for all applications, enter: [‘all’].

To reset, run gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['JavaEmbeddedFrame', 'Mumble', 'Wine', 'Skype', 'hp-systray']" or click on “Set to default” in dconf-editor.

All these complications (on a shell that prides on making it all simple) made me want to try KDE.

0. Gnome Shell

For going beyond Unity, try Gnome:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell gnome-tweak-tool

Gnome tweak tool is optional but very useful. For shell extensions, try:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update

If using Gnome Shell, you’ll also have to fix Alt+F2 which does not work by default by going to System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts > System.

To move icons from the message tray (at the bottom, hidden by default) to the topbar,

sudo apt-get install git-core
git clone https://github.com/rcmorano/gnome-shell-gnome2-notifications.git
sudo cp -r gnome-shell-gnome2-notifications/gnome-shell-gnome2-notifications@emergya.com /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/

You’ll have to restart Gnome via Alt + F2 and “r”.

If after going through all this trouble you find that you’d rather login to Gnome Shell by default, sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -s gnome-shell

Finally, by default, there's no shutdown entry in the status menu unless you press and hold ALT.

1. Weather Applets

There does not seem to be a weather app installed by default. Luckily, we have “My Weather Indicator”:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install my-weather-indicator

Once installed, find it in Accessories.

An alternative to the weather app is Conky-HTC which is much nicer, but it’s a full app and complicated to install. Here are the necessary steps:

    1. sudo apt-get install conky
    2. download Conky Forecast: .deb | .tar.gz
    3. Download Conky-HTC and extract it, press CTRL + H to see all hidden files and copy all hidden files and folders (.fonts, .images, .conkyForecast.config, .conkyrc, .conky_start and .vreme.template) to your ~
    4. gedit ~/.conkyForecast.config and replace “PT-br” with “en”
    5. get location code from weather.com: e.g., Toronto is CAXX0504, Bucharest is ROXX0003
    6. gedit ~/.conkyrc and replace BRXX0232 with the code above
    7. replace "gap_y 10" with "gap_y 40"
    8. on line 52, there is some code that looks like this: "${time %e} de ${time %B} de ${time %G}" - remove both "de" instances
    9. To add Conky HTC to startup, open "Startup Applications", click "Add", under "Name" enter "Conky HTC" and for the command, select "Browse", hit CTRL + H to see hidden files and select the ".conky_start.sh" file from your home directory.

Too much trouble, I know. If using Gnome Shell, try its weather extension:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-weather

WOEID is the Yahoo Weather ID for your city – get it from http://weather.yahoo.com/ by hovering over the RSS you get when searching for it. The extension needs to be enabled from gnome-tweak-tool.

2. Other Indicator Apps

Another indicator applets worth having is Mounty (which mounts and / or burns ISO, IMG, BIN, MDF and NRG):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tldm217/tahutek.net sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install mounty

  • Update Manager Indicator may be installed from Alin(Andrei)Dragomir’s PPA (nilarimogard/webupd8) – indicator-updatemanager. I won’t install it: I’ll configure automatic security updates, after selecting the best server (turns out it’s nexicom).
  • same PPA as above as well as official, indicator-sensors will display temperature and fan speed
  • System Monitor indicator will display system CPU and memory usage in the panel (PPA: indicator-sysmonitor) – this may work only on 11.04
  • System Load Indicator is a port of the old Monitor Applet without the tooltips ( ppa:indicator-multiload/stable-daily ) then install indicator-multiload.

There may be more, but in Gnome Shell, which I might install shortly.

3. Radio

I like to have my Soma.FM radio stations in Banshee. I tried RadioTray but I messed up the choice – should’ve chosen second option – App indicator, so I purged it. Here’s what the .pls files contain:

Title1=SomaFM: 480 Minutes (#1 128 mp3): Live Every Friday: What alternative rock radio would sound like had Nirvana never happened.
Title2=SomaFM: 480 Minutes (#2 128 mp3): Live Every Friday: What alternative rock radio would sound like had Nirvana never happened.
Title3=SomaFM: 480 Minutes (Firewall-friendly 128 mp3) Live Every Friday: What alternative rock radio would sound like had Nirvana never happened.

Title1=SomaFM: Groove Salad (#1 64k aacp): A nicely chilled plate of ambient beats and grooves.

[ills64 ]
Title1=SomaFM: Illinois Street Lounge (#1 64k aacp): Classic bachelor pad, playful exotica and vintage music of tomorrow.

Title1=SomaFM: Secret Agent (#1 64k aacp): The soundtrack for your stylish, mysterious, dangerous life. For Spies and PIs too!

Title1=SomaFM: Underground 80s (#1 128k mp3): Early 80s UK Synthpop and a bit of New Wave.
Title2=SomaFM: Underground 80s (Firewall-friendly 128k mp3) Early 80s UK Synthpop and a bit of New Wave.

Canadian Rock Indy Alternative Music

I just entered the radio station info above into Banshee. Other lightweight media players are DeadBeef:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alexey-smirnov/deadbeef && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install deadbeef

…and Gnome MP:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome-media-player-development/development && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnome-media-player

Gnome MP supports VLC, Xine & Gstreamer.

4. Wifite

As this is my laptop, I sometimes need to perform security audits of wireless networks. I don’t bother carrying around Backtrack after me everywhere (though I have it installed on another M200), but wifite is good to have, for those times when you need to show a client how simple it is to break through a WEP-secured wireless network or (WPA with bad password). Here’s how I do this:

wget -O wifite.py http://wifite.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/wifite.py

chmod +x wifite.py

sudo apt-get install aircrack-ng pyrit macchanger python-tk

cd /usr/share/dictionaries-common

wget http://ftp.sliim-projects.eu/wordlists/backtrack/darkc0de.lst (also: wpa.txt & bt4-password.txt)

As expected, my USB cards with antenna worked as previously: the dual USB / dual antenna Rosewill RNX-N2LX (8192su) no injection (howto):

  1. Download the latest firmware from Realtek for 8192su
  2. Unzip, compile and install that driver:
    • cd <download directory>/rtl*/driver/rtl*;
    • make;
    • make install;
  3. Also download the fw:
  4. Then place the firmware the the new directory RTL8192SU we will create in /lib/firmware/
  • mkdir /lib/firmware/RTL8192SU;
  • mv <download_directory>/rtl8192sfw.bin /lib/firmware/RTL8192SU/;

My single USB / single antenna USB adapter based on another Realtek chip worked out of the box.

5. Ubuntu ONE and online office

You can never get too much storage, and Ubuntu One (U1), now available also for Windows iPhone and Android, comes with 5 GB. I immediately login and some of the stuff I have to download (wifite, boxee) is synced from the cloud. There is now a Backup app – deja-dup - that can backup your data to U1. U1 also has the ability to save your app configuration (OneConf) so that you can easily replicate it, it can save and stream your music, your notes from TomBoy and your Google Contacts. It will prompt you to install two other packages and some services must be enabled from the website.

We will look at online storage in depth in a separate article. Until then though, if you have qualms about Google omnipresence and want to ditch Google Docs, consider Zoho, which Canonical is working on integrating in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install webservice-office-zoho

This will open documents using your default browser. Zoho has the advantage of not requiring login. Also, if you want to similarly replace your desktop email client with webmail via your default browser, sudo apt-get install desktop-webmail and change it under Preferred Applications.

6. Nautilus Terminal

After configuring my shared network drives it took me quite a while to find out how to bookmark them – it’s a plus button at the bottom of the window.

If Nautilus crashes it’s usually because of the following package which would need to be removed:

sudo apt-get remove nautilus-open-terminal

If we got rid of open-terminal, how about a terminal in Nautilus?

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flozz/flozz
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nautilus-terminal

Restart Nautilus after install with “nautilus –q”. F4 toggles it on/off and more configuration options can be accessed by editing directly ~/.nautilus-terminal

Another nice terminal is guake, which transparently slides down when pressing F12.

7. Other Repos and Proggies

Generally, when adding a repo you need to first figure out your distribution. 11.10 is oneiric but when you’re not sure, use lsb_release -c or cat /etc/debian_version .

With every distro upgrade, the old PPAs tend to be disabled even when they don’t have to be. Y PPA Manager will re-enable them:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/y-ppa-manager
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install y-ppa-manager


sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update

Google, for Google Earth and others (use testing with 7FAC5991 key for the bleeding edge)

wget https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub -O- | sudo apt-key add - && echo "deb http://dl.google.com/linux/deb/ stable non-free" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google.list &&
sudo apt-get update

Wine, a must for any dual boot machine:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa

You might also consider installing Chromium daily build PPA, though that has a lot of traffic (i.e., you might want to install Chromium from regular repos):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

Here’s what I usually install (in a sudo apt-get install line or via the Software whatever, where unfortunately you cannot queue as in Synaptic): gparted + addons (kpartx ntfsprogs gpart), 7zip, epiphany-browser gnome-sushi pinta photofilmstrip xournal wine openshot pidgin truecrypt cheese (hover for comments)

If you ever build stuff you will also need to install the necessary tools:

apt-get install build-essential fakeroot devscripts 

Better install them now, when I’m connected to the ‘net, as there is a small chance I might need to install something from a local archive without my ‘net connection.

Accustomed to install PDF printer in Windows, I was looking for one for Linux, forgetting that Ubuntu allows me to print to file straight to PDF.


Although Pinta is quite advanced and should suffice, for tighter integration with Google (PIcasaweb) you might want to install PIcasa. Unfortunately, the Linux version, currently at 3.0 lags behind the Windows version, currently at 3.8. There is however a trick to use the latest version under linux with maximum interoperability. It involves installing the latest linux version and then installing the Windows version on top of it, with Wine.

The missing features are:

  • Camera/media detection integrated with Gnome/KDE.
  • Mozilla/Firefox browser integration done via a plugin.
  • picasa:// urls work in Firefox 3.
  • Downloading albums from Picasa Web Albums launches faster.
  • Xinerama support.

You will need the Google Testing PPA, hopefully installed in the repos step above. If not,

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://dl.google.com/linux/deb/ testing non-free' >> /etc/apt/sources.list"
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 7FAC5991

Then, sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install picasa

If you stop here, you’ll have an older but functional Picasa, running natively on Linux. If you’d rather have the latest running through wine, continue on with

cd ~/Desktop && wget http://dl.google.com/picasa/picasa38-setup.exe
chmod +x ~/Desktop/picasa38-setup.exe

Now 2X the .exe file and install it with the default settings and copy the resulting .exe over the linux executable with

sudo cp -r ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Google/Picasa3/* /opt/google/picasa/3.0/wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Google/Picasa3/

You can now run it just like you did run the linux version, with one caveat: don’t click the “Places” button, or it will freeze.


This app will allow you to watch movies uninterrupted by the screensaver.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:caffeine-developers/ppa sudo apt-get install caffeine python-glade2

To set it up, search for Caffeine Pre then check start on login (screen saver movie).

Google Earth

just type:

sudo apt-get install lsb-core googleearth-package

sudo dpkg -i googleearth<HIT THE TAB KEY>

(if fonts issues – install ttf-mscorefonts-installer  

Controlling Autostart

All items that start by themselves (for all users) are in:

/etc/xdg/autostart/ and the shortcuts are in the form *.desktop. You can get the shortcuts from /usr/share/applications/. Go for it with gksu nautilus.

Speed Dreams

I don’t have much time for games these days, but I might consider trying this torcs fork:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:speed-dreams/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install speed-dreams

Wallpaper Changer

There’s a few wallpaper changers, but this one has the option of showing you live Earth as well:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:wallch/wallch-ppa

Then, as usual, upd & inst wallch

Installing tor browser

Many people ensure their privacy / anonymity by using a VPN. Why bother though, when you have TOR? The Onion Router is best when it comes to ensure privacy, though granted, it can be slow at times. On my laptop, I prefer the temporary install (tor browser) to the permanent one.

Installing the TOR browser bundle is as simple as going to their download page and choosing the one that suits you. Also, don’t forget to right click the sig and save it along with the main download. The bundle comes as a “directory agnostic” archive (.tar.gz) which you download to your Download or Desktop directories. To check the sig, you need to mess with gpg:

gpg --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 0x63FEE659

gpg --fingerprint 0x63FEE659

compare it with what’s shown on their verify page

Needless to say, this is not tamper-proof, which begs the question why do you do it, then? :)

To install, perform the following:

  1. Right-click the .tar.gz ball and expand to the directory of your choice (such as ~/bin or /usr/local/bin/). Personally, I prefer to do this from a Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) window with tar xvf tor[TAB].
  2. Rename the directory to something shorter (you don’t have to, but uh, baby, that’s what I like).
  3. Copy or move the “startor” script to a directory in your path, then gedit it to cd to the right directory. The line you’re looking for is # Try to be agnostic to where we’re being started from, chdir to where # the script is.
  4. And.. that’s it, you can startor whenever you feel like :)

For a more permanent install, add to your /etc/apt/sources.list

deb     http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org <DISTRIBUTION> main

..with oneiric for <DISTRIBUTION>. Add the gpg key:

gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv 886DDD89
gpg --export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add -

apt-get update && apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb

If running a permanent install, consider configuring a relay, as you will get stronger anonymity and possibly faster browsing as well.

8. Synaptic replacement

I grew accustomed to using it, but here’s how to do without:

  • Check a package's dependencies / dependent packages. (This can be done in Synaptic by viewing the properties of a package):

    apt-cache depend 'package-name' apt-cache rdepend 'package-name'

  • Browse available packages

    apt-cache pkgnames
    apt-cache search '.*'
    apt-cache show 'package-name'

  • Search (in package names as well as the details/descriptions) for some key. (The search function at the top of synaptic)

    apt-cache search pattern
    apt-cache --names-only search pattern

  • Check if a package is installed or not

    dpkg -l | grep package-name

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll reinstall it; most likely I won’t.

9. Make Ubuntu look like Mac or Windows

I have no desire to make Ubuntu look like Windows, but if you do, download win2-7 from gnome-look or

sudo wget http://web.lib.sun.ac.za/ubuntu/files/help/theme/gnome/win7-setup.sh

If you’d rather, understandably, go for the Mac look, use mac4lin or the macbuntu package.

10. Power (regression) bug and Jupiter

Phoronix has reported on a Linux starting to use significantly more power than Windows and they believe it to be a bug. Here’s their fix:

In /etc/default/grub find GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" and add pcie_aspm=force within the quotes so that it becomes GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash pcie_aspm=force" then run sudo update-grub.

Phoronix has also checked performance against Windows and found (as one would expect) that the video cards performed far worse under Linux, with nVidia having the closest performance and ATI + Intel behind.

Jupiter might also help with power consumptionas well as a number of other improvements such as tablet rotation; it is an applet designed for netbooks and laptops that helps you switch between maximum and high performance and power saving mode, change the resolution and orientation, enable or disable the bluetooth, touchpad, WiFi and so on. If you own an Asus EeePC netbook, there's also a separate package that adds support for Asus Super Hybrid Engine (SHE) as well as some other EeePC tweaks.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/jupiter
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install jupiter

More power tips:

  • If you laptop hangs at checking battery – recovery console –> sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm
  • Battery Status is also a nice indicator app: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:iaz/battery-status && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install battery-status
  • Powertop lets see which devices consume the most

For more tips on saving power under Linux/Intel see LessWatts.org

11. Install SIP VoIP app

I was under the impression that the best SIP VoIP client for linux was sflphone. Sadly, they don’t have an Oneiric repo as of now which makes install a bit difficult.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:savoirfairelinux

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install sflphone-client-gnome

Another good choice is Jitsi (Twinkle is good especially if you’re using KDE). With Jitsi, installing the .deb will also add the repositories. As detailed in an earlier article on SIP / VoIP softphones or recording, other free softphones offering call recording are Homer (OSS), PhonerLite (Windows only), SightSpeed (Win+Mac), Voice Op Panel (Windows only).

If you don’t need advanced features like call recording, you might as well stay with Empathy, the Pidgin replacement, installed by default.

12. Java

I don’t really use Java so I don’t miss it, but if you do, here’s 2 ways to install it:

  1. Open JDK: sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jre
  2. Sun Java 6 from LFFL PPA:

      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ferramroberto/java
      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin

13. Disable IPv6

It may not seem like a good idea, with the often announced death of IPv4, but I have yet to find a situation where I needed IPv6. To disable it, add at the end of /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf: blacklist ipv6

What do YOU like to do with a fresh install (other than eyecandy stuff, which I don’t care much about)? Did I miss anything?

Sources / More info: webupd8.org, fewt-whtlst, uscrit-hackunt, homer-sip, picasa-linux-google, trycatch-picasa


Jimbo said…
Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I didn't need all of it, but hey; I took what I needed :3
InBonobo said…
 that's the spirit! :)
Travis said…
I've created a mailing list for linux gurus and am working on a post-install script to do all the necessary Ubuntu customization.   I'd really like collaborators to help fix and improve it...

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