Ubuntu 11.10 (code named as Oneiric Ocelot) stable version has released today! So you’re now ready to enjoy the cool features of Ubuntu 11.10. It’s available for download and use. If you are already using earlier version of Ubuntu then you can just upgrade the existing version or install the fresh version.
Ubuntu 11.10 has released with a lot of surprises and changes – specifically in desktop environment, as now it uses GTK 3 (instead of 2.3) and the it uses Gnome 3. Some default applications has also been changes or in other words I can say that it has been selected more wisely. Ubuntu has now become the most popular Linux distribution for Desktop users. It runs on all hardware – whether it’s old or new and the graphics performance has also improved a lot.
What’s new in Ubuntu 11.10 ?
Linux Kernel 3.*
Improved features in Unity (Default Desktop)
Cool Applications like Thunderbird Mail Client, DejaDup etc is installed by default
Improved Software Center
LightDM login manager (instead of gdm)
a lot of other cool features and Apps
Try Ubuntu 11.10 Demo
Before installing Ubuntu 11.10 on your hard drive, you can see a live demo.
After downloading Ubuntu 11.10, you can follow this step by step guide to install Ubuntu 11.10. After that – here is some cool posts I’ve already written for new users to help them in customizing it according to their dream.
Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) is expected to release on 13th of this month, I’ve tried the beta versions. Few months ago, just after the release of Ubuntu 11.04, I published a post on Ubuntu 11.04 Tips ‘n’ Tricks, and it was a big hit – I got a lot of positive feedback. In fact, it was lot useful for a beginner Ubuntu users – specifically those who are coming from the Windows background. Some of the tips explained there are also valid for 11.10 (perhaps for all version of Ubuntu or may be for all Linux based OS) but most of the tricks are obsolete due to some major change like GTK 3 (instead of 2.3).
That’s why I thought to write an updated version of those cool tips ‘n’ tricks, and the expected users are absolute beginners but intermediate and advanced users might benefit from it. If you’ve just installed a fresh version of Ubuntu 11.10 then first go through this post – 10 things to do after installing Ubuntu 11.10, then come back here and apply some tips/tricks to customize the Ubuntu in your way.
So here is my most favorite collection of Tips and Tweaks, for a beginner Ubuntu 11.10 user. If you have something to say (e.g if you want to add or improve an existing tips or you want to share you experience or have some feedback) then feel free to share with us (using comment box).
Top 10 – Ubuntu 11.10(Oneiric Ocelot) Tips ‘n’ Tricks
The tips and tricks described here, are primarily aimed for Ubuntu 11.10 users but some of the tips may works seamlessly with other Linux distributions (specifically Debian based) such as Linux Mint, Opensuse, Fedora, Debian, or other Ubuntu derivatives such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu, MythUbuntu, Ubuntu Studio etc. So feel free to experiment but – always keep a backup to encounter any unexpected results.
1. Try GNOME Shell
Ubuntu 11.10 uses Gnome 3 (based on GTK 3) but the default user interface is Unity. Unity has improved a lot, but if you want to try something new or you like Gnome 3 (or you might be hating Unity), then it’s time to enjoy the next generation revolutionary desktop – GNOME 3. Gnome 3.2 is the latest version. It has a lot of new and innovative features.
GNOME 3 has been developed and designed from scratch rather than just adding some new feature in the predecessor version. The whole idea is to make desktop computing more fun and productive (switching between workspaces and windows takes very little time as compared to earlier max/min approach, distraction is also very less). So if you want to use Gnome 3 with Gnome Shell then you just need to install the second one i.e only the gnome shell (The User Interface for Gnome 3) because Gnome 3 is already installed by default (and unity is running on the top of it).
To install Gnome Shell, Open a terminal and Execute
2. Mount hard drive (partitions) automatically at startup
When your computer starts, it won’t mount any other hard drives or its partitions other than the File System (The partition where you’ve installed the Ubuntu). It means the other partitions will not be available by default, so you will have to mount it each time you log in to your computer before you use it.
For example, if you are using Ubuntu in dual boot mode with Windows 7 or any other OS then you may have multiple other partitions (including NTFS, FAT or other EXT4), so in that case if you’ve any desktop links which points to such partitions or any playlists whose contents resides on that drive, then it’s better to mount such partitions when the computer starts so that it will be available for use without any manual mount.
To mount drives/partitions automatically at startup (during system boot) you can use a simple utility – PySDM, a Storage Device Manager. It’s a cool application written using PyGTK and very helpful in customizing mount points for your hard drive(s)/partitions.
How to Install PySDM ?
Open a terminal (press Ctrl+Alt+t) and execute the command –
sudo apt-get install pysdm
Then start the application either by searching it in apps menu or press Alt+F2, type pysdm and hit Enter. Now you can customize it the way you want – Select the drive/partition, configure it and click on Apply. To avoid any possible loss from your silly mistake – Just Backup!
3. Advanced GNOME 3 Settings – using Gnome Tweak Tool
Gnome Tweak Tool is a simple application that will allow you to change/customize Gnome 3 desktop in an advanced way. If Gnome Tweak Tool has lot of options such as Shell, Themes, Fonts, Desktop, Icons, etc to tweak the appearance and look. So it’s a must have Apps for Enthusiastic Ubuntu users.
To install Gnome Tweak Tool, open the terminal and execute –
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool
4. Sync Tomboy Notes using Ubuntu One Cloud
Tomboy Notes is a simple note taking application – with a lot of features. If you have been using Evernote on Windows or Mac OS X, then you will be disappointed to know that – it’s not available for Linux based OS such as Ubuntu. Tomboy is a great application – it doesn’t have all those features but it’s a good alternative to evernote or other note taking programs. The most exciting feature of evernote is Sync – it automatically synchronized your notes with the main copy (stored in the remote server/cloud), which can be accessed from any where -computer(Windows/Mac), iPad, iPhone or Android. Tomboy has all these features by default – you just need to configure it. The default functionality can be easily extended, using plugins(add-ins).
To enable sync feature in Tomboy Notes you can use Ubuntu One (it provides 5 GB free storage for everyone). Ubuntu One and tomboy both are installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10. So –
To start synchronizing your Tomboy Notes, first configure Ubuntu One for backup, Then Open Tomboy Notes and go to Edit -> Preferences and select Synchronization tab. From the list of various sync option -select Ubuntu One!
5. Configure Boot Options – GRUB, using StartUp Manager
Startup Manager is a simple application that will allow you to customize GRUB and splash screen, in GUI mode. There are various options such as display size of GRUB menu(in pixels), default operating system to boot, timeout(in seconds) etc. To install startup manager, open a terminal and execute the command –
sudo apt-get install startupmanager
6. Customize the appearance of LightDM Login Screen
The default background at LightDM login prompt isn’t cool, Right? Probably yes! Using a simple application or tweak you can’t only change the background image but also the logo. It’s Fun!
I’ve already discussed a lot about changing background screen in Ubuntu 11.10.
7. Backup Your important Files using DejaDup
DejaDup is a simple, easy to use and fast backup program. In Ubuntu 11.10, DejaDup has been included in default programs installed with standard distribution package. So you got dejadup installed by default on your system but you need to configure it before it will start any backup job. DejaDup is a very powerful backup tool – it has lot of options to backup, e.g you can backup your data anywhere you want – local file system or remote location (on a standard server or Cloud such as Amazon S3).
If you want more detailed explanation then refer the post – how to backup Ubuntu 11.10, where I’ve explained about different backup options, in detail.
8. Install Cool themes and icons
The default theme and icons is cool but you may want to try something else. That’s very easy because a lot of free Gnome 3 themes and icons are available free to use. If you aren’t sure about which themes or icons to try then refer these posts – best Gnome 3 themes or Top 10 Gnome Shell Themes (if you are using Gnome shell), where I’ve sorted few best and good looking themes for Unity and Gnome Shell interface.
How to install themes/icons in Ubuntu 11.10 ?
step 0 Open nautilus with root power. To do that, open a terminal and execute the command –
step 1 To install GTK 3 themes you just need to copy the theme package to the usr/share/themes directory.
step 2 To install gnome shell themes – First, copy the gnome-shell directory from the theme_package to usr/share/gnome-shell. Second, rename the existing theme directory to default-theme (for backup purpose). Third, rename the gnome-shell(the one you’ve copied) directory to theme. Finally press ALT+F2, type r and your new shell theme will be reloaded (or you can just logout from the current session, and on next login, you will be enjoying something new!).
step 3 To install icons – copy the icon package to usr/share/icons
step 4 Finally You can select the theme or icon you want to use, through the help of Gnome Tweak Tool (see above if you don’t know)
9. Screencast Recording with Gnome Shell
screencast recording feature is built-in feature in Gnome shell interface. So if you want to record a screencast in Gnome shell, then you don’t need to install any application. You can start recording screencast just by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift+r (press again to stop/start). When the screen recording will begin, you will notice a red dot at bottom-right corner of the screen. Finally the file will be saved in home directory of the user with the file name like this – shell_today_date.webm.
10. Cool shortcuts for productivity
Keyboard shortcuts are very useful for speeding up your productivity to some extent. Since Ubuntu is an open source OS, there is no limit on how much you can customize. If you have been using shortcuts for a while, then first thing you would want is to change the default(if it doesn’t matches with yours) keyboard shortcuts.
To set your custom keyboard shortcuts go to System Settings -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts and define your own shortcuts.
Bash Aliases are also cool if you play a lot with Terminal. For example, if you are a ruby on rails developer, and install a lot of gems using the command gem install gem_name, then you can save a lot of typing by defining an alias for that. I’ll make it more clear with an example.
Creating alias commands for Terminal
step 1 Open terminal and type
step 2 Now, insert these lines at the bottom and save the file.
# My custom commands aliases
alias gi='gem install'
alias s5='sudo shutdown -h 8:00'
step 3 Next, reload the bash profile to propagate the changes, using the command –
step 4 That’s All..now you can see the command(defined in right side) in action – just by typing its alias name.
Ubuntu 11.10 (oneiric ocelot) uses LightDM, a simple, light weight and fast login manager (older versions of Ubuntu were based on gdm (Gnome Display Manager)). Ubuntu 11.10 has arrived (currently beta 2 has released, final would be released on Oct 13, 2011) changes, including some changes in selection of default applications. Anyway, the lightDM seems to be working well, but if you want to change/tweak the appearance and look of LightDM then just follow the instruction given below – Relax, it’s very simple!
In older versions of Ubuntu, login screen (i.e background, logo, theme etc) gdm could be easily configured or customized with any third party application like Ubuntu Tweak or Ubuntu Control Center, but those methods doesn’t seem to working in Oneiric, so in this post you will learn how to change/customize login screen – background/wallpaper or logo from command line (or using a simple GUI application).
How to Change Login Screen – Background/Logo from Terminal
Open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+t) and type the command (to manually edit the lightDM configuration file) –
sudo gedit /etc/lightdm/unity-greeter.conf
Then a new window will appear, where you need to provide the path for the background image.
In a similar way, you can change the default logo, by editing the just below line in unity-greeter.conf file.
Tweak LightDM appearance using ‘Simple LightDM Manager’
Simple LightDM Manager is a simple tool, written by Claudio, which will allow you to change the lightDM background and logo from a gui. There’re different options such as select a color for background or specify the location of the picture to view as a background image at login screen. Similarly you can specify the image to be used as logo in lightDM login prompt.
To install, Simple LightDM Manager, open a terminal and execute the following commands –
Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) have a backup software installed by default – Deja Dup. Deja Dup is a simple, robust and automatic backup tool that will allow you to backup your files to local or remote location (such as Amazon S3), in a couple of clicks. Although, it doesn’t have any fancy graphical user interface like Apple’s Time Machine but it does its work (it supposed to do) very fast.
Having a backup of all your important files means – you’re safe from most of the upcoming disasters! Right? surely from the technical disasters like hard disk failures. so backup is really good for the piece of mind, So you’re supposed to have a regular backup of all critical files. So in this post, you’re going to learn about some great backup softwares for Ubuntu (although it is expected to work smoothly on other Debian based Linux distributions). Some of the most popular open source backup apps are Deja Dup, Back In Time, Flyback, luckyBackup (based on rsync) etc.
Deja Dup is one of the most popular backup application among Linux users – that’s the reason why it comes as a pre-installed application with Ubuntu 11.10. So it means that you got the backup application installed, you just need to configure it – like what files/directories you want to backup? where do you want to backup all your data i.e locally or to a remote location such as Amazon Cloud, then select automatic backups (if you want) and finally click on Backup Now button to begin. So in short, I can say that – it’s the best backup software for Ubuntu.
Other Backup Applications you may want to try in Ubuntu
Back In Time
Back In Time is a simple and easy to use backup solution for Linux based OS such as Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, Linux Mint, etc. it creates backup of the specified files/directories in snapshots (like git – a version control system).
Install ‘Back In Time’ backup tool in Ubuntu
sudo apt-get install backintime-gnome
luckybackup is a backup tool with lot of advanced features. it is based on rsync protocol. it is very simple to use, fast, reliable and of course – fully customizable. The application is available in package repository, so you can install it either from the Ubuntu Software Center or fire up a terminal and execute –
sudo apt-get install luckybackup
Flyback is backup tool, trying to mimic the features of Apple’s Time Machine. Linux based OS has almost all technology already built in by default, so Flyback simply provides a GUI to use that. The project is hosted at code.google.com and if you want to try then download the debian package for Ubuntu. The installation is quite simple – either open it with Ubuntu Software Center or use the command –
Integrated Development Environment or IDE provides a very convenient environment for software development as it automates a lot of boring/complex tasks. Although some programmers do not prefer to use any IDE (specifically ruby programmers – they use TextMate or gedit or other powerful text editors) but java programmers uses IDE in most of the cases because having an IDE makes a lot of jobs much easier. So it means the need of IDE also depends on the type of programming language and the complexity of the project. Since, Java is based on configuration over convention paradigm so an IDE is a must have tool (for Java developers) to automate a lot of tasks, thus it saves a lot of time for coding the actual stuffs.
Install Eclipse IDE on Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)
Open Terminal (Shortcut : Ctrl+Alt+t) and execute –
sudo apt-get install eclipse
Once you’ve installed the eclipse platform and its dependencies, you can install the required package/plugin for your job.
e.g if you are a java developer then install JDT (Java Development Tools) using the command –
sudo apt-get install eclipse-jdt
for C/C++ programming, install CDT plugin,
sudo apt-get install eclipse-cdt
or you can just search in Ubuntu Software Center and install it from there.