Markdown is a lightweight markup language. Using markdown, you can write content in a simple and easy to read plain text, and finally, it will generate the equivalent html(valid XHTML or html) for publishing on web. So, it’s certainly more human friendly for web writers, specifically if you are looking for a simple and efficient replacement for WYSIWYG editor.
Ubuntu 12.04/12.10 comes with a plain text editor called – gedit. gedit is good text editor, you can also use it as a markdown editor (it will highlight the syntax well) but the problem is that – you can not preview your document. You can’t export your markdown text to html or pdf or any format. You will have to manually export it using the command line utility and if anything goes wrong, then again – edit -> save -> export. That’s not very efficient.
So a dedicated a Markdown editor is obviously, a better choice. There are many markdown editors available for Ubuntu 12.04/12.10 such as ReText, Uberwriter etc but ReText is the best one!
ReText – Markdown Editor for Ubuntu/Linux
ReText is a text editor for markdown and reStructuredText. It’s a simple and easy to use editor but it has lot of cool features. It’s written in Python, so you can run it everywhere, not just in Ubuntu or Linux Mint (check recommended links section for official page where you can download it for other platforms).
Few basic features of ReText :
Export to various formats such as HTML, PDF, ODT
Preview (normal and live modes)
Shortcuts for quick editing (Ctrl+b for bold, Ctrl+i for italics and Ctrl+u for underline)
Installing ReText in Ubuntu / Linux Mint / similar_distributions
In Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal), there is no additional drivers section in system settings, in fact, it has moved to a new tab in software sources. If you’re using NVIDIA, ATI or any other graphics card and the graphics performance looks bad (poor rendering, noisy textures etc), then it means, you need to install the proprietary graphics card drivers.
There may be a default open source driver (alternative driver, Nouveau display driver) enabled by default, but that doesn’t perform well in some cases, probably in high end graphics cards, in that case, you have to install the official driver from the manufacturer. Ubuntu should automatically detect and recommend the appropriate driver for your device.
To install the driver, go to Software Sources -> Additional Drivers and select the appropriate driver. (I selected the first one, because it’s the appropriate driver for my graphics card, it’s tested and of course, it really worked – now the graphics performance is satisfactory). Then click on Apply Changes, it will download and install the drivers. Finally, restart your computer and you’re done!
After a fresh install, you need to install/configure few programs in order to get things done on Ubuntu 12.10 (a.k.a Quantal Quetzal, it’s the code name for this release). Since Linux based distributions (such as Ubuntu) are based on Configuration Over Convention principle, so they can’t just do all the things by default.
There are some licensing problems too, with proprietary libraries and codecs. But no one is stopping you, from doing what you want – so go ahead and customize your Ubuntu (12.10) desktop as you want; before you move on to some advanced stuffs, here are few essential things you should complete first.
These steps are not strictly required but might help you in getting a better experience with Ubuntu 12.10 and possibly save a lot of time later if you’re a beginner Ubuntu user.
#1. Update your system
Update your package repository cache so that next time when you install something, it will have the latest details about that application/package. You can just run the Software Updater (the new update manager) or just execute the commands –
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
#2. Install some necessary programs/ media codecs
As explained earlier, the media codecs for playing your music files (mp3), flash player for playing flash content while browsing with Mozilla Firefox etc are missing and they are crucial for everyday things (even though web is moving from Flash to HTML5, the transition has not been completed yet). To install these common media codecs – simply install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package (which bundles all the commonly used proprietary codecs/libraries). Open a terminal and execute –
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
Although, the above command will install some popular proprietary libraries/plugins but still you won’t be able to play encrypted DVDs (most of the commercial DVDs are encrypted using CSS(Content Scramble System), some sort of DRM technique). libdvdcss is the free and open source solution for that. To install libdvdcss, execute the command –
For compressing/decompressing popular file formats such as zip, rar, 7z, xz, tar, gzip, bz2, xar etc install 7zip, type the commands –
sudo apt-get install p7zip-full p7zip-rar
#3. Install Drivers for your devices
Although most of the things works out of box and you don’t need to install any drivers for the basic devices. But for other devices such as printer, graphics card, tablet, etc you will have to install the appropriate device drivers, in order to work.
Installing Webcam software
For controlling your webcam, you can try cheese or guvcviewer (looks better than cheese, certainly for video recording). To install cheese, simply execute –
sudo apt-get install cheese
or install guvcview webcam software using the PPA –
The Additional Drivers section, which used be there in system settings (in older version of Ubuntu), has moved to a new tab in Software Sources section. So if you’re using a graphics card (e.g a Nvidia Graphics card or whatever) then you might want to enable proprietary drivers (select a driver which is tested by Ubuntu developers) from that, unless you’re not experiencing any graphics problem with the open source driver (nouveau driver, in the above screenshot), enabled by default. When you select and apply changes, it will download/install the drivers. You may also have to restart your computer.
Installing Printer Drivers
When you connect printer to the computer, the automatic driver installation setup should be started, you just need to select the correct model and it will automatically download and install the correct driver for printer/scanner (it’s far easier when you’re using HP or Canon printer). On the other hand if the automatic detection/setup process doesn’t begin you can manually start the process or in worst case you can download/install the driver manually from the official website of your printer/driver.
VLC multimedia player is a must have application, it supports a variety of file formats. TO install vlc simply execute –
sudo apt-get install vlc
#5. Find and Install your favorite application
Ubuntu Software Center has thousands of free and open source apps, now even paid apps. So there is more likely that you will find a free and open source equivalent of your favorite window app, probably a better one (not kidding).
Don’t like Firefox ? or just want a secondary browser, Try Google Chrome or Chromium!
Download and Install Google Chrome Browser (open the *.deb file with Ubuntu Software Center)
Want an image editing App ? like Adobe Photoshop, Try GIMP!
sudo apt-get install gimp
A simple Music Player like winamp ? Try Audacious!
sudo apt-get install audacious
Open Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager (or terminal, if that’s what you prefer – use sudo apt-cache search <app_name>) and explore your favorite apps. In Software center, there are user ratings and comments, which will also help you in filtering great apps.
Few cool apps you might want to try –
SMPlayer – a great MPlayer front-end
Chromium – another great browser
Kazam – for creating screencast
Clementine Music Player – A powerful music player
Shutter – featured rich screenshot app
Pinta – image editing program for beginners
Hotot – a cool Twitter CLient
Pidgin – Chat client
Bleachbit – CCleaner for Ubuntu
Filezilla – FTP Client
NitroTasks – a TODO management application
K3b – Disk writing program
and don’t forget to try integrating some cool web apps, right into your desktop. Go to System Settings -> Online Accounts for managing various accounts.
#6. Disable Amazon search results in Unity Dash search
If you don’t like the amazon products in unity search results, then you can turn it off from the privacy settings. Go to Privacy Settings -> Search Results and adjust the settings.Or, you can just uninstall unity lens for shopping, using the command (you may have to reboot the computer) –
sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping
You should also checkout some other privacy options and adjust it as you want.
#7. setup a backup program
You should always have a backup of all your important files and it’s pretty easy too (and free). Dejadup is the default backup program installed in Ubuntu 12.10, you just need to configure it (locate the important files/directories and select a remote backup location such as Dropbox, Ubuntu One, Amazon S3 etc)
If you have used (or want to give it a try (or if you have Ubuntu One account then you can start using that instead)) Dropbox before then first install the app.
sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox
Then start the application and login or Create a free account (if you don’t have already one) and you’re reay to upload/sync your critical stuffs.
Ubuntu One is another great client that offers 5GB of free storage, it’s the default backup client for Ubuntu, already installed. You just need to enter your login info and you’re done! (or sign up if you don’t have an account)
#8. Don’t like Unity ? Try alternative Desktop Environments!
Unity is the default desktop environment (more accurately – it’s a shell (just like GNOME shell), made on the top of GNOME 3). For any reason, if you’re not happy with unity, then you can checkout some alternatives such as Gnome Shell, Cinnamon, Mate, FLuxbox, LXDE, KDE, XFCE etc.
Lightweight weight desktop environment : XFCE
To install xfce desktop environment, simply execute –
Customizing Ubuntu is pretty easy, there are lot of tools available to customize various things like themes, icons, fonts, login-settings, unity launcher, unity lens behavior, graphics effects, app menu (e.g global menu options), applets, startup applications etc.
You can customize a lot things using System Settings but for more advanced options/tweaks there are many apps available such as Unsettings, MyUnity, Ubuntu Tweak, Gnome Tweak Tool etc.
Unsettings : for customizing Unity
Unsettings is useful for various unity settings like panel, dash, lenses etc. To install Unsettings simply execute the commands –
Synaptic package Manager is an advance app management software, it’s a fast and easy to use app. If you don’t like the bloated software center then it may be a good alternative for you. To install synaptic package manager, simply execute the command –
sudo apt-get install synaptic
Finally, relax, explore and enjoy
Update 1 : fixed some errors and added few links for more relevant stuffs.
Ubuntu 12.10 stable will be released on the 18th of this month, but if you’re curious about the upcoming features in next version, then checkout – what’s new in Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal”, and some screenshots (below) from Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2.
Screenshot Tour of Ubuntu 12.10 [From Beta 2 release]
The Desktop : Unity, the default desktop environment (shell) with few improvements and tweaks (e.g buttons, launcher, graphics effects, panel options etc).
Preview in Unity Dash : (triggered by right click on the unity search result, you can also download/install/uninstall the app, right there without opening software center or package manager)
System Settings – did you notice extra options such as Privacy! (Additional Drivers is missing, may be it will be there in stable release, anyway you can get it from software center settings has moved to a new tab in software sources)
Software Sources (additional driver section, by default open source driver is activated, if the performance is not good then you may try activating proprietary drivers)
Appearance Settings – looks pretty similar to what we have in 12.04!
Workspaces : active workspaces are looking more bright!
Online Accounts – nicely integrated web apps
Can’t wait to try ? Relax! The final version will be out in 10 days! (if you love experiment, then you may try beta version now but not as your primary OS; I prefer latest LTS release as the primary one(for desktop as well as server))
Update #1 : added the additional driver / software source screenshot and fixed some error! Thanks to Mr. Iceman!
In the upcoming version of Ubuntu – 12.10 (final is coming on oct 18th, 2012), when you do a default search in Unity dashboard, it also returns amazon products in results, along with some expected normal results. Of course, Canonical will make some money out of it as it’s like an Amazon Associate program.
There is nothing wrong with that, Ubuntu has always been a free (in freedom as well as in beer) operating system for both Desktop and Server environment, after all they do need to generate some revenue out of it. Paid services such as supports, Ubuntu Advantage, Ubuntu One, premium apps etc also generate revenue for Canonical but it seems like they are looking for few more stable source(s) of revenue – this Amazon experiment indicates that.
Why most of the users don’t like the Amazon product results ?
Amazon products in dash search ? It may be useful and convenient for some users but most of them simply don’t like this new feature in Ubuntu 12.10. In most of the cases, when users search something in Unity dash, they simply want to search Apps or files, so the amazon product results are simply irrelevant. it looks like an unnecessary clutter in the results and causes some sort of distraction. There are some privacy issues too.
So for most of the users, it’s simply annoying and so they should be able to turn it off (wither in the beginning of installation or later via settings). Unfortunately there is no option available right now (I’m using Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2), so that you can change the settings to turn-off the Amazon products results from the unity dash search. But certainly, it’s going to be available in stable release or may be in next update or in next release (Ubuntu 12.10).
How to Disable Amazon Search Results in Ubuntu 12.10 ?
So until, you get any option for disabling the Amazon products results, you can try this –
0. Disable Online search results entirely in Privacy Settings or simply execute the command –
sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping
1. Try keyboard shortcuts, e.g Super+a for searching applications in Unity dash, Super+f for searching through files and so on. The ads appear with full search mode only (Super)
2. Move away from Unity – try any other desktop environment (or shell) such as Gnome Shell, XFCE, MATE, Cinnamon or KDE. The amazon_related_feature is tightly integrated with unity desktop.
3. If it’s too annoying for you, then better stick to the latest LTS release (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS). After all, it’s an experiment, initially there wasn’t even any plan for disabling this feature but now there is.
I’ll update this post when any better solution will be available!