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 –
Ubuntu (Latest Stable Version : Ubuntu 11.04 (Maverick Meerkat), upcoming version – 11.10 (Natty Narwhal) – set to release on Oct 13, 2011) is now dominating the market share of Linux desktop (or would dominate the total desktop share in few upcoming years). So the numbers of laptop users running Ubuntu (or other flavors of GNU/Linux) has also increased but it’s still not in the resonance with the growth of Ubuntu, probably due to hardware compatibility problems.
Therefore in this post some of the best laptops are described – which is known for good compatibility with Ubuntu, although any (laptop) model, from a recognizable brand such as Dell, ThinkPad, ASUS, Acer, HP, Lenovo etc, released in past few years, are capable of running Ubuntu smoothly. Anyway – if you’re willing to run Ubuntu on a new laptop – then better choose any of these.
What is the best laptop for using/running Ubuntu ?
1. Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15 series Laptops are well suitable for Running Ubuntu 11.10 or other versions (if you want to enjoy 3d effects in ubuntu then better choose one with dedicated graphics memory, in later versions of Ubuntu – Gnome 3 and Unity both needs better graphics performance otherwise you will be running in fallback mode). Ubuntu works smoothly without any problems and so you’re good to go with any Dell XPS 15 series laptop. Therefore if you’re going to purchase a laptop for running Ubuntu (version 10.04 LTS/11.04/11.10 ..) then you are recommended to choose any of these to ensure better compatibility, Although it’s a different fact that most of the dell laptop(new version) works well with Ubuntu. Here is a laptop from this series – with latest processor (Intel Core i7) and overall configuration is pretty good! so it would be suitable for most of the needs.
Dell XPS 15 X15L-1024ELS @ $949
Technical Specifications :
Intel Core i7-2630QM
6GB, DDR3, 1333MHz
15.6″ HD WLED (1366×768) display
640GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive
6 cell Lithium Ion Battery (56 WHr)
Built in 2.0 MP Webcam, HDMI Port (click on Image to know more)
Update! Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition may be a better choice for you. Check out this one.
2. Lenovo X201
Lenovo has always been a good laptop brand for Ubuntu – because most of the Linux based distributions works great on Lenovo without much hassle. Lenovo x201 series laptops are also good for running Ubuntu.
Ubuntu 11.10 (code named as Oneiric Ocelot) beta 1 has released and final (stable version of 11.10) released a week ago. If you’re a absolute beginner – i.e you’ve very little (negligible) or no experience with Linux distributions then this post might help you in getting started with Ubuntu as it contains step by step instruction for installing Ubuntu 11.10 on your Desktop/Laptop/Netbook.
The instructions given in this post assume that you want to install ubuntu as a dual boot with Windows 7 (or XP/Vista or whatever you’ve already installed), which is recommended for absolute beginners as if any problem occurs with Ubuntu (or you are not feeling comfortable with Ubuntu, although that’s not probably going to happen) then still you would be able to access Windows, but if you want something else like – removing windows and install Ubuntu or erase whole disk and install Ubuntu on a new computer – then most of the steps would be same – few things will change that I’ve pointed out (Jump to steps).
Ubuntu 11.10 beta 1 has released with a lot of surprises/changes, new features and some improvements in the unity desktop. One of the biggest change is that Ubuntu 11.10 uses Gnome 3, unity also uses Gnome 3 so it means you can install gnome shell on ubuntu 11.10 – in few steps without breaking the unity i.e it will support Gnome 3 without any problem. (although there may be some bugs right now as it’s beta release).
Installing Ubuntu 11.10 – step by step guide
Ubuntu 11.10 can be installed in many ways – one of the easiest method is using wubi installer, but it doesn’t provide much control options so we would go with advanced installation..and one more thing – it’s not as difficult as it appears to be, just follow the instructions – if you’ve any doubt then drop a comment.
Preparing for installation : First of All – backup your important data
Before going to start the installation procedure – you are strongly recommended to backup your data (using a backup disk or online backup program), although you aren’t going to loose any if you’ve multiple partition on your drive and want to go for custom installation procedure, but you’re supposed to have a backup of all your critical data before starting any experiments.
Step 1. Download Ubuntu 11.10 ISO file
First, Download Ubuntu 11.10 ISO , select the archive file (ISO) depending on your computer architecture – such as Intelx86 or AMD64. If you are not sure then go for first one. When the download is complete move on to next step.
Step 2. Create a bootable media (USB/CD)
Then create a bootable USB stick/drive or a CD/DVD from the ISO file you’ve just downloaded. If you want to create a bootable CD/DVD – then it’s pretty easy- you just need to burn the ISO image to the cd.
If you are using windows now then use the free program called – universal USB installer. To make your pendrive bootable – use Universal-USB-Installer (Download and run it – then locate the ISO file, choose your USB drive as a target and your will be done in a minute). In Windows 7 you can burn ISO files directly in few simple steps – Insert cd in to the tray, right click on the ISO file and select burn this ISO.. and finally you will get a bootable cd.
There is a program called – ‘Start Up Disk creator’ is installed by default on Ubuntu. So just run the program – browse the ISO and select your pendrive/cd as the target startup disk. That’s All.
In the and of step 2 you will get a bootable media – which is also called as Live CD/USB Installer (this is also very useful for removing viruses from Windows or recovering data from corrupted OS, as you don’t need to enter any password (exception : BIOS password) when your boot your computer using this live cd/usb), Now we will boot the computer from this bootable disk and finally we will install it permanently into the hard drive.
step 3. Insert the USB disk (or CD) and restart
Now restart your computer (and enter your supervisor BIOS passsword, if you have set any password – you system may not boot from CD if you enter user BIOS password). Your computer should boot automatically from the bootable media, and the Ubuntu will be loaded in RAM (if any option comes then select ‘try Ubuntu without installing if you want to take a look before installing it on your hard drive’).
Then click on the install Ubuntu 11.10 icon on the desktop to begin.
Step 4. Select Installation Type
Now select the check boxes such as ‘Download Updates’ and ‘install third party software’, but you must be connected with Internet (it’s recommended – if wireless network doesn’t seem to work use wired connection). Although there is no hurry – you can always install them later, so it’s optional.
then click on continue – then a new window will appear – where you need to select installation type.
You may get different options depending on your computer configuration. The above snapshot has been taken while installing Ubuntu 11.10 on a computer with Ubuntu 10.04 and Windows 7 pre-installed as dual boot (Now it’s time for triple boot, it’s cool! Hmm). Most of the option seems self explanatory –
Install Ubuntu alongside with them : it will install Ubuntu 11.10 alongside with existing operating systems such as Windows 7.
Erase Entire Disk and Install Ubuntu : it’s going to erase your whole hard drive and everything will be deleted (your files as well as other operating systems), useful only if your hard-drive doesn’t have any important files or you just bought a new computer and want to keep only one OS – i.e Ubuntu.
Something Else : Create, Allocate and choose the partition to which you want to install Ubuntu, using advanced partition manager. At first look it may seems little difficult but it’s better as it give you more options/control.
We will go with the third option – select Something else and continue.
Step 5. Create a new Ext4 Partition and Install Ubuntu 11.10
In the end of step 4, you will get the partition manager window for creating/deleting partitions.
Then select the free space available for creating partition (if you don’t have any free space then try deleting any empty NTFS drive or the partition whose files has been backed up completely).
Now select the partition which says – ‘free space’ and click on ‘New Partition Table’.
Now, there are so many field in new partition window –
New Partition Size : The size of the partition (in megabytes) where you are going to install ubuntu 11.10.Recommended minimum size is 15 GB, if you want to use it for daily purpose, although 5GB (or may be less) is critically required. I’ve left it default as I want to use all that selected free space partition (around 51GB).
Location for the New Partition : beginning (if you want it to appear on the top in grub menu (when the system starts) – default OS ) or end (if you want the Ubuntu 11.10 to appear at the end in OS list at GRUB). Don’t worry you can change the default OS later. Let’s choose Beginning.
File System (use as) – select Ext4 journaling file system , the latest and recommended files system for Ubuntu 11.10.
Mount Point – select / (forward slash), it’s used to mount additional file systems, forward slash means – mounting is done with reference to root.
Then click OK to apply.
Next, click on Install Now button to begin installation procedure.
Step 6. Enter some basic info and Create a user
While installation procedure is going on – you will be prompted to enter some basic information such as
Your Physical Location – it will be used to set your local time and other settings. Select it on world Map.
Keyboard Layout – Leave it default if you aren’t sure or select the one you want to use.
Then Enter some basic details about the user –
Your Name : of course your Name (Mr(s). X)
Computer’s Name : x’s computer
username : Your username – e.g mrx
password : Your password (strong – something like this (think twice it’s very easy to remember and it’s very strong!) – U11#kkd_MS!)
Require my password to login : better leave this option selected if you want authorized access (unless you aren’t using BIOS password) to your computer, else you can also choose the other option – login automatically.
Step 7. Restart your computer
Now the installation procedure will complete within few minutes.
Now when you see a window saying installation is complete – restart your computer and remove the installation media and select Ubuntu 11.10 at the boot menu, and login to ubuntu.
Ubuntu 11.10 – Oneiric Ocelot beta 1 is out now! Now it’s the time to install some necessary applications/packages to make the system useful for any common purpose such as Listening music, watching movies, playing videos over the web etc. or any specific purposes (e.g if you’re a web designer then you need to install some cool fonts, image editors, graphics designing tools etc).
Since Ubuntu 11.10 has already made some good changes in the selection of default applications (as compare to previous versions), but still a lot of efforts are required to customize the Ubuntu for your needs. Here is list of top 10 customization tips that I think is required for most of the users, feel free to add one if you feel it’s useful for Ubuntu users, through comments. Some of the packages are mandatory while some are recommended based on its popularity – if you don’t like any Apps, just swap it out with your favorite one.
Things to do after a fresh installation of Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)
1. Update Ubuntu (Repository cache)
After installing Ubuntu 11.10, first of all, update the package information (you are always recommended to update your computer as frequently as possible but surely before installing any new programs so that you will get the latest one available in the repository). You can update your system either from command line
Open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + t) and execute the following commands –
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Alternate way – start update manager (it’s installed by default, just search for it) and click on install updates.
You need to install the audio mp3 (MPEG Layer 3) decoders as it’s required for playing your mp3 songs), similarly you need to install Adobe flash player on Ubuntu 11.10 for playing flash content such as YouTube Videos (although they are trying to replace the flash dependencies with HTML 5). You can install all these proprietary plugins/codecs by installing the package called ‘ubuntu restricted extras’. Open a terminal and execute the command –
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
Restricted library/packages for playing encrypted DVD’s
Although you’ve installed ‘ubuntu-restricted-extra’, you still won’t be able to play any proprietary DVD (which is usually encrypted with CSS(Content Scramble System) ). Therefore You also need to install libdvdcss2, a free software library for unscrambling/accessing those DVDs. Open terminal and execute the following commands (You may need to reboot) –
3. Install Additional (graphics card and webcam) drivers
If you are using any graphics/video card (which is recommended for 3D effects in Unity or Gnome-shell, if your computer doesn’t fulfill the graphics requirement then you will be 2D version of Unity, in fallback mode). In most of the cases, Ubuntu will automatically detect and tell you there any additional hardware drivers are necessary or not, you just need to select the appropriate driver and click on Activate.
For any reason if your graphics card (probably NVIDIA or ATI) doesn’t get detected automatically then don’t be panic. Go to System Settings -> Additional Drivers and wait for the window to appear with driver options. Select the driver software you want to install and click on Activate. After installing the driver – restart your computer. That set.
install cheese – webcam software/driver for your webcam
If you want to use your webcam for taking pictures or recording videos then you must need a webcam software. Cheese is the most popular webcam software, and it’s already there in Ubuntu Software Center, or install it from terminal –
sudo apt-get install cheese
4. Install Chromium Web browser for faster browsing
Firefox is the default web browser in Ubuntu 11.10, which is slow and very unstable (if you’ve multiple tabs and add-on’s installed). On the other hand Chromium is pretty fast and it’s popularity is increasing exponentially. So it’s a must have Application on Ubuntu (or any other OS). Chromium supports all the extensions/themes that you use on Chrome. it’s one of the most popular software in Ubuntu Software Center. So you can install it in a single click from Ubuntu Software Center, or just type the command in terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T ) :
sudo apt-get install chromium-browser
You should install some codecs like FFmpeg for playing multimedia contents on web.
VLC player is one of the most popular open source media player. It is commonly called as – ‘all in one‘ media player, it has lot of features that you expect from a modern media player. On Ubuntu 11.10 – it’s a must have application – for video player it’s probably the best one. VLC player is capable of playing a wide range media formats such as mp3, avi, mp4, flv etc. Since it’s available in Ubuntu Software Center – you can either install it from there or type the command –
sudo apt-get install vlc
6. Install any Image editing program
An image editing/creating software is necessary for every one, by default no such program is installed. So you’re recommended to install an image editor.
GIMP is the most popular open source and free image editor, having features similar to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP has a lot of powerful features which allows you to create complex graphics designs/images. it is more suitable for intermediate users – those having some experience in image editing. To install gimp – either search in Ubuntu Software Center or install it from terminal –
sudo apt-get install gimp
For some extra set of brushes, gradients and plugins etc execute :
Pinta is a good image editing program – with some basic features. it’s very easy to use, so most suitable for absolute beginners. it looks very similar to MS paint program. To install pinta – use Ubuntu Software Center or execute the command –
sudo apt-get install pinta
7. Try Gnome shell
Ubuntu 11.10 uses Unity as the default UI/window manager but it’s based on Gnome 3 so you can install Gnome shell simultaneously (without breaking the Unity desktop, which used to happen in previous version of Ubuntu i.e in 11.04). Gnome shell has been developed from scratch for a totally new experience. The interaction and navigation has been evolved in Gnome shell – so it appears to be the next generation desktop. The Gnome shell is already there, in the official repository of Ubuntu 11.10 – so you can install Gnome 3 in one simple command (or from USC)
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell
If you’ve any problem in using Gnome shell – then refer to my previous post about installing Gnome shell on Ubuntu 11.10 , where a little bit of extra information is there along with step wise installation instructions.
8. setup an online file backup program
You must keep an an online backup of your important files. Now a days- cloud backup is recommended. Ubuntu 11.10 has ‘Ubuntu One’ installed by default, in which you will get 2GB free storage and you can access (direct music streaming is also available) your files from anywhere. Most of the backup programs such as Dropbox offers sync features – which can also be used in collaborative projects.
it’s already installed in Ubuntu 11.10. You will get 2GB of free storage (in cloud). So you can easily synchronize your critical files using this application. Click on the Ubuntu One launcher in the panel and follow the instructions. Files can accessed from anywhere – and music streaming is also available on Android and iPhone.
Dropbox is one of the most popular file sharing (as well as backup) program. Dropbox offers 2GB storage for free. You must have a dropbox account to start, if you don’t have then create an account first. Sync feature of dropbox is great! which makes it well suitable for collaborative projects (as files are secure and easy to share/collaborate, deleted files can be recovered up-to 30 days (in free plan)). In Ubuntu 11.10 – dropbox (integration script with Nautilus) has been included in official repository. So you can install it directly from Software Center or type the command –
sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox
9. install gnome tweak tool
Gnome Tweak Tool is a utility for Gnome 3 desktop for tweaking the desktop settings – and so it allows us to customize (windows look/behavior, theme, Fonts etc) the desktop as we want. The ‘appearance’ settings doesn’t have much option now (as it used to be in earlier version of Gnome) so Gnome Tweak Tool will do that.
To install Gnome Tweak Tool open terminal and execute –
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool
10. Try cool themes / icons
The default theme in Ubuntu isn’t that cool. Right? I don’t know about you but many of us like to have cool/charming icons and themes. So find out some great themes and icons, and enjoy Ubuntu 11.10.