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Month: July 2013

Posted on by Arnon Erba in General

If you’re a Windows user, you’ll most likely know that the taskbar can be moved to any edge of the screen by right-clicking it, unchecking “Lock the taskbar”, and then dragging the taskbar to the screen edge of your choice. By default, the taskbar appears at the bottom edge of the screen, and this is what most people envision when they think of the traditional Windows desktop.

Though the taskbar is placed at the bottom of the screen by default, that doesn’t mean it has to stay there. Moving the taskbar to the left or right hand sides of the screen could put it in a more useful location for you, and here’s why.

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With the traditional size of today’s computer screens set at a 16:9 aspect ratio as opposed to 4:3, many applications leave a lot of wasted space on the left and right sides of the screen. Most webpages are oriented toward the center of the screen, and in those cases nearly half the screen space on a large monitor goes to waste. Word processing programs generally default to an 8.5×11″ display which once again wastes space on the left and right sides of the screen.

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If you move the taskbar to the left or right side of the screen, you can take advantage of that wasted space while freeing up space on the bottom of your screen. Ubuntu does something similar to this by default by putting the launcher on the left side of the screen. Though Ubuntu has an OSX-like toolbar at the top of the screen, this does not take up extra space because it doubles as the title bar for any open windows.

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Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

The login sound is disabled by default in Ubuntu 12.04+. The only sound that plays by default when an Ubuntu machine boots up is the drum beat sound that plays when the login screen loads. The sound that plays when the user logs in is disabled by default, but it is possible to enable and change it to anything you want. You can also disable the drum beat sound, if you would like to. See this Ask Ubuntu post for instructions on how to disable it.

To enable and change the Ubuntu login sound, you won’t need any extra tools aside from a terminal window and your own custom sound in .ogg format.

First, you will need to unhide and enable Ubuntu’s login sound startup process. Open up a terminal window, copy/paste this line of code, and run it.

sudo gedit /usr/share/gnome/autostart/libcanberra-login-sound.desktop

This will open up the file libcanberra-login-sound.desktop in Gedit with root privileges so that you can edit it. You should see this script open in Gedit:

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Edit the last line in the file and change NoDisplay=true to NoDisplay=false.

Once you’ve done that, save and close the file and open the Startup Applications dialogue. The option GNOME Login Sound should now be visible.

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Check the box next to it. Now, the default Ubuntu login sound should play when you log in to your account.

Now you can change the default sound. To do this, you will need to replace the default sound file with one of your choosing. However, to edit the login sound file, you must access it with root privileges. You can do this through a terminal session or by opening Nautilus, the file manager, with root privileges.

Method One: Terminal Session

Convert your custom sound file to .ogg format, name it desktop-login.ogg, and move it to the Downloads folder.

Then, open a terminal window and run this command:

cd /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo

This will open the directory containing the login file in the terminal window.

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You will need to replace the file desktop-login.ogg with one of your own. You can back up the original file and then replace it with your own all inside the terminal window by running these commands:

sudo cp desktop-login.ogg desktop-login.ogg.old
sudo cp ~/Downloads/desktop-login.ogg

The first command renames the original desktop-login.ogg file to desktop-login.ogg.old. The file will remain untouched in its original directory, but Ubuntu will ignore it and use any custom desktop-login.ogg that you add to the directory.

The second command imports your custom desktop-login.ogg file to the system sounds directory. Done!

Log out and log back in to test your new login sound.

Method Two: Open Nautilus as Root

This method uses the file manager’s GUI to perform the sound file switch.

Open a terminal window and run this command:

gksu nautilus

This will open Nautilus with root privileges so that you can edit the login sound file. Browse to /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo and click on desktop-login.ogg. Press F2 and rename the file to desktop-login.ogg.old. This is the backup of the original file. The file will remain untouched, but Ubuntu will ignore it and use any .ogg file with the name desktop-login that you add to the directory.

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Now, open a new window and browse to the location that your custom sound file is stored. It must also be named desktop-login.ogg, but it can be any file you want. Copy/paste your custom file into the root window we were just using. Done!

Log out and log back in to test out your new login sound.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

Windows 7 bases its default theme offerings off of which location you select during setup. Though there are multiple regional themes, only one of them is installed by default when you choose your location during setup. If you would like to install the other themes, here’s how.

First, copy and paste this into the Start menu search box and press Enter:

C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT

A folder called MCT should open. In it, you will see five folders with country codes for Australia, Canada, Great Britain, the United States, and South Africa.

MCT Folder

In each folder, there are a number of subfolders. The subfolder with the country name contains the images for that region’s theme, and the subfolder called “Theme” contains the installable themepack for that region’s theme. Double-click on the themepack to install it.

Any themes you choose to install will appear under the My Themes section of the Personalization window.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in General

Ever been told to turn off your modem for 10 seconds or to leave your desktop off for 15 seconds before powering it back on? There’s a reason for doing this, and it can mean the difference between successfully troubleshooting a device or not.

Electronic devices have capacitors that retain a charge even after the device is turned off. Ten seconds is generally the minimum time it takes for the capacitors to drain after you turn the device off. Here’s why you’d want to clear the capacitors before turning the device back on: the device’s RAM, or Random Access Memory, does not clear until the device is fully powered down (e.g. the capacitors have discharged). If you want to clear everything in the RAM completely and start fresh next time you boot up the device, you should wait for at least 10 seconds for the capacitors to discharge and the RAM to clear. On a computer, you can also press the power button a few times or hold it down for a few seconds to help drain the capacitors.

This is also a reason why rebooting a computer is different than turning it off and then turning it back on. If you’re having a problem with your computer, modem, etc., try turning it off for at least 10 seconds and then turning it back on. This will give your system fresh RAM to work with on the next boot.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

By default, Ubuntu hides the system’s default autostart entries in the “Startup Applications” dialogue. If you want to enable, disable, or remove any of these entries, you will need to unhide them before opening Startup Applications.

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To unhide the system’s default entries, run this code in a terminal:

sudo sed -i ‘s/NoDisplay=true/NoDisplay=false/g’ /etc/xdg/autostart/*.desktop

Now your Startup Applications dialogue should look something like this:

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To disable an option, uncheck its box rather than removing it. As these are system startup options, don’t disable something unless you know what it does.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

(Editor’s note: It’s been a while since I got stickers from System76, so the stickers probably aren’t the same, but it looks like the offer is still valid.)

After a while of looking for an Ubuntu sticker for my Ubuntu-powered Sony Vaio laptop, I came across System76’s free Ubuntu sticker offer. To get free stickers, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the location listed for your country at https://system76.com/swag/stickers. I sent a letter in as well as an envelope, and a few weeks later got my envelope back in the mail with stickers inside.

If you’re thinking about taking this free sticker offer, here’s what the stickers I got looked like. (Ed: My old photography is horrible.)

One sheet had a white System76 logo and four slightly translucent grey and orange Powered by Ubuntu stickers.

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There was also a strip of four shiny foil Powered by Ubuntu stickers.

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A small sheet with four Ubuntu Key stickers.

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Finally, a large black-and-white System76 banner.

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Thanks to System76, Inc. for providing me with the stickers!