Monday, October 11, 2010

Keeping your ubuntu system up to date

A short and easy way to keep ubuntu up to date is simply to run the following command

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude --assume-yes safe-upgrade

Assuming you have an active network connection at this time, this will download and install pending updates. If prompted for password, enter the password you use to login to ubuntu.

Update: Ubuntu maverick users may not have aptitude installed by default. To install aptitude, run the following command.

sudo apt-get install aptitude

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trash your rights ! Buy the iPhone ! ... Oh, wait !

As you have definitely read several times over (and over), buying an iphone is not exactly a smart move for any person respecting their rights and freedom. By rights and freedom, I mean something as simple as being able to access a mail/ poem/ blog post that you wrote whenever you want to.

Now with smartphones looming as the personal computer of tomorrow, there is one company that cannot be left behind in the business of pinning down the smartphone population of tomorrow. You guessed it right, it is none other than Micro$oft who has come out with a ~500 M$ ad campaign behind the Windows 7 Phone .

What is different this time is I think Win 7 Phone is facing a more informed customer base that already has experienced what microsoft is (via windows etc) and what it is not, i.e., choice in the marketplace and open platforms. Apart from the very valid technical and quality reasons why people are not buying it, there is an important perspective about asserting digital rights which is why Win 7 should be as far as iphone from the shopping list of any well-informed tech buyer.

None can state it better than the FSF who have been actively promoting campaigns for preserving consumer rights and privacy in this space. Their recent report is about Win 7 Phone - read on and spread the goodness !

Windows 7 Phone Series: Another proprietary device designed to trash your rights.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Slow and steady wins the race ?


Image courtesy Tech Drive-In

Stat agencies have reported that for the first time the market share of Microsoft Internet Explorer may be below 50%. The last time so few people used IE was around 1997-1998 - a time when the web was not yet a household term even in the USA.

Read more about the general decline of IE market share here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Questions and Answers

Anyone active on the technology/software blog scene has surely heard of Joel Spolsky and Jeff Attwood. Their fascinating brainchild - a series of free community-driven topical Q&A sites, combine the best of forums, online support and Q&A sites into one very useful offerring.

Each site focusses on a particular topic but underlying all is the same engine which gives a familiar feel to all other sites once you know about one. Each site also has a "meta" site where the community discusses how the site should be driven.

The flagship site is Stackoverflow - a website for aksing and answering programming questions. There are a host of other sites in various stages of construction and Area 51 has the overview.

Some of the more interesting ones ...
  • SuperUser - For powerusers (all OS)
  • ServerFault - For system admins and server users
  • Ubuntu SE - For Ubuntu. This site is beta so the url is likely to change once it gets out of beta.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Best of xkcd

xkcd is IMO the funniest geek comic strip ever... and courtesy of Tech Drive-in here are some real gems. Just 10 of them per link so won't take long to scan :-).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ubuntu: Minimized windows vanishing ?

Recently a friend of mine started complaining that he doesn't see icons for the minimized windows on the desktop bottom panel. Any application opened from the menu will work ok, but will simply vanish when he clicks the minimize button. Upon investigation I realized it could be because the windows list applet is not visible in the gnome panel.

There are 2 methods to try to fix this. First try method 1 and if that is not solving the problem then try method 2.

1 Method 1

  1. Check bottom panel for a small vertical bar with three black stripes on it - something as shown in the screenshot below (circled in red).
    Look really really hard. If you still don't find it anywhere on the panel then go to Method 2.
  2. If you find it, right click on it and select "Move". Then move the mouse to expand the window list all the way to the left of the panel. Left-click again to finish resizing.
    • If the "Move" button is disabled (greyed out) and there is tick next to "Lock to panel", then click on "Lock to panel" (make sure the tick-mark goes off) and try step 2 again.
  3. Now, you should see all the buttons of open apps in the windows list.
  4. If not try resizing again in the appropriate direction.

2 Method 2

  1. Right click on an empty place in the panel. I'd recommend bottom-center. Make sure you right-click with mouse on the panel (in default theme this will be a dark gray bar at the bottom of the screen). This will open the panel menu. Below screenshots illustrate this.
    • Screenshot of whole desktop with right-click on bottom-panel.
    • The right-click menu "zoomed in"
  2. Select "Add to panel…" A new dialog titled "Add to Panel" will open.
  3. On that dialog perform the following actions. The relevant location in the screenshot for each action in the list below is illustrated in the screenshot below.
    1. Against "Find an item to add to Panel:" type "window"
    2. From the list below, click on "Window List"
    3. Click on Add
  4. A new window list with buttons for all open windows will be added to bottom panel. Click "Close" on the "Add to panel" dialog to dismiss it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ubuntu Stackexchange in public beta

With rise in popularity of ubuntu as the distro of choice for mainstream desktop users (at least until 10.04 version) the number of people looking for help has also increased. The people behind stackoverflow.com (a popular Q&A site for professional and enthusiast programmers) recently launched ubuntu.stackexchange.com - a website focussed on ubuntu Q&A. This site is very user-friendly - posting and answering questions is very easy and the summary views and powerful search capabilities enables newcomers to find existing answers easily.

There is also a "karma" system - like in stackoverflow.com that is, IMO, a very neat way to setup a hierarchy based on merit and initiative which naturally helps those users with the right intention to gain control and moderate site functions.

The site is currently on beta. Based on participation and feedback from the beta the final is expected to be launched sometime next month (max beta time is 90d).

Overall a great concept applied to a popular problem at the time of need. Check out the site and post your questions & answers.

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