23 February 2010

Tweaking Ubuntu's GDM and nautilus

GNOMEImage via Wikipedia

There are tons of little tweaks I constantly make in my system to have an easier time spending a lot of time in it.

With this post I'd like to show you two of them.

The first tweak is actually a fix to the new login manager GDM. Ubuntu got a new login manager in release 9.10 to essentially save a precious few seconds during start-up. Sadly the rewrite is much less configurable and some argue is a trend the GNOME project has been showing. I agree to an extent that some features are being rushed and not enough care is being made that functionality is preserved. For instance the configuration dialogue of the new GDM is very Spartan and doesn't even have many of the options that it should have. I find that NetworkManager actually lacks a useful command line interface because the D-Bus way is just way to cumbersome.
Anyway, I found the drum sound that played on every start-up very annoying. If you haven't guessed from my rant, there is no obvious way to disable it. Fortunately other people were as well(a moment of Schadenfreude indeed) so a quick tweak/hack arose and this is it:
$ cd /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo
$ sudo mv system-ready.ogg system-ready.ogg.DISABLED-FOR-BEING-ANNOYING
Some argue that such tweaks are actually hacks because they interfere with the system in unexpected ways (like my flash on amd64 guide). Unfortunately in the absence of supported solutions such quick fixes are necessary. It always helps to make a mental note or better yet to keep a log of such modifications in case things go awry on some upgrade.

The second tweak I wanted to mention is in fact something that is supported in the official Ubuntu software channels and those are pug-ins for the nautilus file manager. On its own it lacks some features a power user really needs, the most glaring of which is an Open terminal here command. I actually tried implementing this myself because nautilus has a simple extension mechanism using scripts but I found a better solution by just installing one package:
$ sudo aptitude install nautilus-open-terminal
Here are the other interesting extension packages you might want to use:
  • nautilus-filename-repairer - Nautilus extension for filename encoding repair
  • nautilus-gksu - privilege granting extension for nautilus using gksu
  • nautilus-image-converter - nautilus extension to mass resize or rotate images
  • nautilus-open-terminal - nautilus plugin for opening terminals in arbitrary local paths
  • nautilus-script-audio-convert - A nautilus audio converter script
  • nautilus-script-manager - A simple management tool for nautilus scripts
  • nautilus-wallpaper - Nautilus extension. Add a "set as wallpaper" entry in context menu

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22 February 2010

Finding old Ubuntu ISOs

Just a quick note so I have a post this month. You know, I'm super busy, blah blah work, etc. etc.

For a course I'm doing this year I needed several older Ubuntu releases to test Linux's Kernel Virtual Machine. It was included into Linux for the 2.6.20 release just over three years ago. It just so happens that the first Ubuntu revision that had this kernel was Feisty Fawn or the more commonly used label 7.04. Because of Ubuntu's support policy (18 months per revision, except LTS which has 36 months) revisions 7.04 and 7.10 are no longer supported. That also means the isos (CD images) are hard to come by because most mirror servers delete unneeded files. Fortunately I quickly found a nearby mirror on the mirror server listing that still had some older versions so I am a bit happier!

Running unsupported versions is of course discouraged because critical imperfections are no longer being fixed for the abandoned distribution but for educational purposes there is no objection.

Another good tip I found is that although these older Ubuntu revisions are no longer supported with improvements to software packages, at least improvements since the release of the CD image are still available through the in-built package management system. There are a few tweaks needed for adjusting software package sources, namely renaming all software package servers from archive.ubuntu.com to old-releases.ubuntu.com.

A quick history of Ubuntu releases:

Ubuntu release



kernel version

Ubuntu 4.10

Warty Warthog


Linux 2.6.8

Ubuntu 5.04

Hoary Hedgehog


Linux 2.6.10

Ubuntu 5.10

Breezy Badger


Linux 2.6.12

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS

Dapper Drake


Linux 2.6.15

Ubuntu 6.10

Edgy Eft


Linux 2.6.17

Ubuntu 7.04

Feisty Fawn


Linux 2.6.20

Ubuntu 7.10

Gutsy Gibbon


Linux 2.6.22

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

Hardy Heron


Linux 2.6.24

Ubuntu 8.10

Intrepid Ibex


Linux 2.6.27

Ubuntu 9.04

Jaunty Jacklope


Linux 2.6.28

Ubuntu 9.10

Karmic Koala


Linux 2.6.31

After I complete my report I might have to make a little series on KVM! :)

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