Macbuntu, Part 3

I’ve finally gotten around to contacting the Macbuntu maintainer about some of my changes and modifications and have now been granted administrative access to the project!

Most of the changes I’m making are in the details, as most of the features are already available. I’ve contributed plenty of code and images to make Docky appear nearly identical to the Dock in OS X and even made the Docky bar image in Inkscape myself. πŸ˜€

I’ve contributed an Opera skin, that I mentioned in my last post, but it is still very unfinished. Over all it looks well, but there are several areas that need to be corrected and the skin itself needs to be slimmed down a bit.

The Docky icons zoom by default, though its not an OS X default setting to the best of my knowledge. It can very easily be toggled on or off from the Docky settings window.

I’ve removed the Docky settings icon that was seen in previous screenshots so that the Nautilus application launcher (Finder icon) is the first item in Docky as it is in OS X. You can still access Docky settings by right-clicking the separator on Docky between the Trash icon and the others.

I’ve also written a very very simple application that toggles the Widget layer, which is powered by Compiz, on and is handily disguised by the Dashboard icon…meaning it reveals the widgets. As of writing this, there are no default widgets installed.

Eventually I plan to work in Screenlets and preinstall a few default ones as you would find in OS X, but I’m still waiting to make sure that my tiny tool works pre-compiled on other computers (is 32/64 bit versions). πŸ˜‰

A lot of people are impressed with Compiz’s ability to render your workspaces in a Cube, Sphere or Cylinder. I’m pretty impressed with this feature myself, but having used it for a long time in the past I’ve found that I usually end up just switching workspaces with the keyboard and not paying much attention to the fancy cube in all of its transparent glory.

Honestly, this is one thing that should appeal to even OS X users as it looks cool and can give you a good quick visual of your windows. However, in Mac OS X 10.7 there will be a feature for Mac users that gives them a quick look at all of their activities and may possibly pass this Cube design right on by. Who knows? πŸ˜›

One feature that you couldn’t see in the first Cube screenshot was the 3D window aspects and stacking. This is a neat feature and helps make the Cube look a little less boring. Especially when you can see how busy, or possibly bored, you are!

As always, proof that this is indeed Ubuntu Linux. πŸ˜‰

Several other changes that I’ve contributed to this project include:

  • New transparency for the Top Gnome-Panel and all Menus
  • Alpha blurring for Docky
  • Added folders to Docky for the Applications, Documents, Downloads and Dropbox folders (where relavent)
  • Added detection for other applications and add them to Docky upon installation
  • Re-arranged several Docky launchers
  • Brand new Docky theme — Macbuntu
  • Reset the default wallpaper to the Snow LeopardΒ  wallpaper (was the Leopard wallpaper)
  • Changed the clock format the match OS X’s clock (with tips from OMG! Ubuntu)
  • Added setting to ensure that people with multiple monitors see the workspace cube as One big cube instead of each screen rotating separately.
  • Default the screensaver to blank in case its already set to something like Gnome Feet, but it would be neat to have an elegant OS X screensaver!
  • Various other bug fixes, minor details and cleanups.

Its great to see a project come together, but its even nicer to have the ability to speed it up. πŸ˜€

A few ideas that I’ve got include pre-installing Gloobus for a feature that mimics “Quick Look,” but until I find a good way to install this and until I can work out the bugs with this tool myself, it won’t be getting any prime time in Macbuntu.

The Docky Stacks feature that was covered at OMG! Ubuntu is also on the map, but is currently far too unstable to be included. I’ve been testing it out for a few days, but it consistently crashes Docky and ceases to function. When I come across a stable ppa for this tool, it will be adding to Macbuntu in a hurry!

Obviously there are several areas that I/we won’t be able to mimic thoroughly. Mac OS X is a great operating system and has a great deal of “simplicity” worked into it by design, somethings that just aren’t possible by “skinning” Ubuntu Linux.

If you have any suggests that are actually feasible, I’d love to here them! The biggest area that I’d like to work on is the GTK theme and get the theme’s quality up tremendously. I’ve had no part in the GTK theme (originally known as GTK Leopard) thus far, and its actually a great piece of work, but it still has a long way to go before being smooth and finished.

One last thing thats interesting is the fact that someone has already began a spin of Macbuntu, dubbing it Macbuntu-iso, and it is available for download in 32 and 64-bit!

Macbuntu, Part 2

After spending a little time working in Inkscape, I realized how terrible I am with vector graphics, lol, but I did manage to create a slightly more accurate Docky theme that incoorporates the wavy design and dark tool tips and menus.

You’ll also find that the menu is not working correctly in the top Gnome Panel and that I’ve now created a pretty accurate OSX/Macbuntu skin for Opera!

You may also notice that the background image has changed. The latest OS X default wallpaper appears to be included with the setup, but is not used for some reason. I guess its a matter of opinion, but I prefer the setup to be as default as possible to the latest OS X design.

Hopefully I can contribute a few things to this project such as an improved Docky theme for Macbuntu, Opera Macbuntu skin, updated icons for those that are missing

I’ve re-arranged the Dock icons into a semi-accurate order, but some applications are in need of replacement icons.

Shotwell, for instance, could make use of the iPhoto icon and be added by default, making it appear that much more authentic.

Another awesome feature thats not included, but makes this transformations much more accurate is the plugin for an implementation of Stacks!

Unfortunately, the applications stack isn’t near as clean and even has duplicates of some applications, but it is a very good start and the stack plugin itself works fantastically!

I’m hoping that I will be able to get all of my tweaks and hacks so far worked into Macbuntu to automate what I’ve done, but since I’m still tweaking and fine tuning a lot of aspects, I haven’t had time to contact the developer(s).

That being said, I’m going to refrain from posting how-to’s and files for the changes I’ve made for now, but if you’re interested in the Opera skin I’m working on just let me know and I’ll send you what I’ve got so far. πŸ˜‰

Macbuntu: The Mac OS X Transformation Pack for Ubuntu

Since I recently slipped over into the dark side and bought a MacBook, I’ve been spending a whole lot more time in OS X than I ever have before.

I wouldn’t consider myself a Mac fanatic (yet), but its difficult to not fall in love with the great amount of attention to detail.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look into macifying Ubuntu again (as I’ve looked into in the past and had decent results) only this time I came across Macbuntu. Macbuntu is an all-in-one package to transform your Ubuntu desktop (fresh dual screen account pictured below) from this:

Before

To something that resembles the infamous Mac OS X a little more closely, like this:

After

For an Mac purist, this transformation pack would be no where near acceptable with small differences and quirks here and there. The good news, however, is that the transformation pack appears to be maintained and updated regularly so it may not be much longer before your Linux box is indistinguishable from an original Mac…at least on the inside. πŸ˜‰

The Macbuntu installation is extremely easy. If you’re interested in installing this, but afraid of messing anything up, keep in mind that there is an uninstall option that is extremely painless and it restores all of your original settings!

Install

  1. Download the transformation package from SourceForge or GNOME-Look.org if you prefer (but they are both hosted from SourceForge) and save it to your Desktop.
  2. Extract the package to your Desktop. You can do this by right clicking and selecting “Extract Here” from the menu.
  3. Open a terminal and type “cd Desktop/Macbuntu-10.10/” (without the quotes) and press enter.
  4. Now type “./install.sh” (without quotes) and press enter.
  5. Follow the directions and answer a few questions and it does all of the rest! …and you’re done!

Uninstall

  1. If you’ve deleted the original files that your extracted before, re-download them and extract them using the same steps as before.
  2. Open a terminal and type “cd Desktop/Macbuntu-10.10/” (without the quotes) and press enter.
  3. Now type “./uninstall.sh” (without quotes) and press enter.
  4. Follow any directions or quick questions and before you know it, things will be back to the way they were before!

While I was impressed with the degree of success after I installed this transformation pack, I quickly uninstalled it. Part of this was due to pure testing, but the other part was simply because I want to spend more time tweaking it to perfection later and don’t have the time right now.

Amazingly, I was able to take a stock Ubuntu 10.10 desktop and morph it into a decent OS X lookalike and back again all in a matter of 15 minutes, and that includes a short amount of time spent looking around. πŸ˜€

My Notes & Ramblings (probably boring)

One thing I’d really like to do is to create a Mac OS X skin for Opera to be included with this package since the one for Opera for Mac isn’t compatible with other platforms (afaik). I’d also like to figure out how to get the full menu bar removed and placed into the top panel properly, where it was only partially added in the screenshots.

A lot of the dock details are accurate, but then again a lot of them are just flat wrong. Empathy needs an icon replacement to Adium or iChat. The dock itself is angled slightly higher and the gloss detail is completely different (lacking the wavy design). The separator is also incorrect and needs to be updated.

One thing that I think would go far with adding a genuine feel is to organize the Dock icons properly as the default dock icons are in a specific order already and the order from this install seems to be somewhat random in some cases.

Stacks would be great, however, I recall hearing not long ago that this or a similar feature is on the way already possible, just not included yet (maybe I’ll send them an email soon πŸ˜€ ).

A white drop-shadow for text and icons in the top panel would be great for perfection. It also wouldn’t hurt to add the default slight transparency to the top panel so the background and shine through a little.

The actual theme being used appears to be very outdated, with buttons using old icons such as the back and forward buttons in Nautilus. The breadcrumbs are also very outdated visually and need to be updated. The author(s) of the transformation pack probably have nothing to do with the development of the theme that’s packaged with it, but this is the most important element and is in dire need of some TLC.

Conclusion

Macbuntu is a great and quick solution, but its not pixel perfect or even close to pixel perfect. If you’ve got any suggestions or know of better options such as themes or tweaks, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

But ours go to eleven…Opera 11

Opera 11 has been making a lot of buzz across the Internet today now that an alpha version has been released.

New in Opera 11 is support for the very much requested extensions! While there is currently a very limited selection of extensions available, I suspect this will quickly change. πŸ˜‰

If you’re using Opera 11 already and you’re also using Ubuntu 10.10 with the Ambiance or Radiance themes, do forget to update you skin with my Ambiance and Radiance skins for Opera.

For those who are curious, you can find brief changelogs in the comments with the latest one being here.

If you’re not using Opera 11 yet and would like to, go get it!

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Released!

Code named Maverick Meerkat, Ubuntu 10.10 has been officially released and brings with it loads of improvements both in visual and stability sense. Ubuntu 10.10 is yet another release that helps hold the bar high among other Linux distributions.

With Ubuntu 10.10, the Ambiance and Radiance themes found in the previous release have steadily gained aesthetic improvements that will, in future releases, set Ubuntu on par to rival the simplicity and beauty of mainstream competitors such as Mac OS X and Windows 7.

Rather than repeat whats already been posted across the Internet in many different places already today, I’ll direct you to my friends blog, which also happens to be my favorite Ubuntu blog… πŸ˜€

If you’re just looking for the downloads, you can find them here. Their simple guide will have you ready to install Ubuntu 10.10 in no time!

MacBook Pro

In with the new, out with the old. I got my new MacBook Pro 13″ around noon today, but had to wait until noon to start playing around on it.

Here are my phones blurring pictures of the old HP dv4000 (left) and the new MacBook Pro (right).

Notice the HP isn’t running. Thats because it no longer even boots thanks to some internal hardware problems.

This time around I decided that I wanted a smaller, more portable laptop. Since I’ve had plenty of Windows computers and have been running Ubuntu Linux for a few years, I decided it was about time for me to get a Mac.

So far I’ve gotten the basics installed and setup thanks to suggestions from my brother and friends.

  • Opera
  • Adium
  • Skype
  • Last.fm Scrobbler
  • Tweetie
  • Dropbox
  • Coda
  • QuickSynergy
  • Xcode

I’m still testing out Xcode to see how I like it, but my first impression of the 3gb download wasn’t too positive. If it works well then great, but I was hoping to find a good medium between size and features.

I’ve also tweaked my MacBook’s name so it appears a little more customized on the network (using this guide). Now it appears as “kyBook Pro.” πŸ˜€

Have some suggested apps or tips for me, or something better than what I’ve listed above? I’d love to hear what you like to install on your Mac!

Solaris International/Deep Blue Radio Show Podcast

A few years ago, while I was up late working and listening to what was then known as Virgin Radio at the time (and now as Absolute Radio), I happened to catch an episode of the “Deep Blue Radio Show.” Since then, it appears to have been renamed to “Solaris International.”

If you’re unfamiliar with this show, its simply a two hour mix of electronica and trance tunes by Solaris International with Solarstone. You can listen to their previous airings straight from their website, but I’ve finally come across their podcast in iTunes and found that it works perfectly in Linux as well with Rhythmbox!

Their site doesn’t seem to be as intuitive as it could be, which is why it took me so long to stumble across their podcast link. If you’re interested in subscribing, the link is posted immediately below. Copy and past it into your media player. If you’re unsure how, take a look at this excellent guide from GoingLinux.com.

Podcast Link to copy and paste:
ο»Ώο»Ώhttp://www.solarstone.co.uk/listenAgain/deepblueradishow-podcast.xml

At the moment, there are over 220 previous podcast episodes available to download, so if you’ve got the time then they’ve got the tunes. πŸ˜‰

I’m usually not a fan of podcasts, but I have a select few that I frequent. This will easily become my favorite.

If you’re not a fan of electronica or trance music then you can kindly disregard this post or use this as a reminder to search for podcasts featuring music you yourself may enjoy! πŸ˜€

If you have podcast recommendations, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Polishing Rhythmbox’s GUI vs. Forking

With recent news from OMG! Ubuntu regarding a fork in the Rhythmbox source code for a new project called Rhythm-e (Elementary design in mind), and the controversy or mixed reactions that this has sparked in the comments and mailing list, I’ve decided to take a deeper look at Rhythmbox and share my thoughts and suggestions.

The Elementary take on Rhythmbox that is covered at OMG! Ubuntu attempts to clean up the interface by moving and removing various parts of the default Rhythmbox player. While this can be beneficial at times, I feel that its very important to heavily consider the features that are being removed.

The Rhythm-e project is only a few days old, so I’m holding my judgement on the project for a later date. Instead, I just want to point out changes that I think could have been made before the extreme decision of forking a long standing and popular music player for Linux.

The default Rhythmbox player for Ubuntu 10.10, as pictured above, is by no means perfect, but there are plenty of little tweaks that could be performed to polish the fine details of the application without very much work. Keep in mind that these are solely my opinions and in no way do I consider them to be the only or best way of improving Rhythmbox. I simply offer them out as suggestions and examples.

I’ve taken the screenshot posted above and tweaked a few aspects to show how some spaces could be used more efficiently, thus giving Rhythmbox an overall cleaner appearance without the need to fork the entire project.

The only difference between the two is that the second mockup has a library that has been filtered enough to remove the scrollbar.

Looking closer at the images and comparing them to the original, you should note the following changes:

  • The song title, artist and album have been pulled up into the button toolbar to reduce wasted vertical space.
  • The song’s progress slider has been pulled up in-line with the textual position output to reduce wasted vertical space.
  • The Library and Store list on the left has been widened by 1 pixel and shifted left to hide the unnecessary left border. This creates a cleaner and more flush appearance.
  • The album art image holder has been scaled to take up the full available area, thus removing wasted space and padding. It may be ideal to shrink the image a bit, but keep the top of the album art flush with the list above it in order to allow the resize bar to remain clickable, but the rest of the available space should be used and not wasted.
  • The redundant spacer at the end of the “Time” category has been removed. This is most likely more of a theme problem than a Rhythmbox problem, but it does still make it look cleaner.
  • In the second mockup (short list), the scroll bars are not necessary and have been removed as usual, but the list has been widened enough to push the right border out of the window which helps create a cleaner and more flush appearance.

I also think that the status bar is a bit unnecessary by default, but have left it in the picture to show that it can still look good. If the status bar is removed, the library list should stretch to also push the bottom border out of view as the right side is in the short list mockup.

I think the menus are still relevant and useful, but with the menu bar being removed from the application window in UNE, this would only help in cleaning up the interface.

One thing that Rhythmbox could do to help ideas like Rhythm-e take hold more quickly is to make the interface more configurable by themes or manual configuration files. Allowing stylists to easily move buttons around and remove various elements could also spark new ideas on realistic was of improving Rhythmbox for everyone!

While I think its not always necessary to fork an existing project for a new idea, I also like to see the interest and efforts in making existing applications more appealing. I look forward to seeing the rests of Rhythm-e as it matures, but I’m also hoping to see better communication and collaboration to improve Rhythmbox itself.

While you’re free to take open source software and do as you please without asking questions, its just plain friendly to contribute back as a token of thanks for the work that went into it in the past. Keeping up with the mailing list, I’ve seen a few talks and suggestions back and forth, so I’m crossing my fingers that the two can work together and combine their strengths rather than simply competing separately.

Are there changes that I’ve missed? Something I’ve changed that you disagree with? Let me know in the comments!

Ubuntu 10.10 Wallpaper – Dual Screen

Ubuntu 10.10 Dual Screen Wallpaper (2560x1024)

For those of you unaware, the new default wallpaper for Ubuntu 10.10 has just recently been released. The new wallpaper seems to be unanimously better than the previous rendition consisting of crude orange spots mixed into the Ubuntu 10.04 wallpaper.

As you might have noticed (from screenshots), I’m usually surfing the net from my desktop which has dual monitors for more efficient working so I like to paint a nice wallpaper spanning across both rather than repeating them.

This is my quick GIMP (second time I’ve done this for a default wallpaper) work where I simply scaled the original image (which can be found here) into a 2560×1024. Nothing major, it took about 10 seconds, but it will save you the work if you like it! Maybe you’ll find it useful and use it yourself, if not thats okay too. πŸ˜‰

Ubuntu 10.10 Banner

Recently I was looking through theΒ Ubuntu 10.10 banners and really liked the simplistic design of one by Anthony Scarth.

Curious about adding it to my blog (as you should now see in the right column), I fired him an email. Unfortunately he didn’t have a script prepared, but still offered up the images!

Taking a little time, I grabbed the old script for an Ubuntu 10.04 Banner, made a few modifications (and corrections) and got the banner up and ticking in no time!

If you’re interested in using one of these two banners on your site then you’ll be happy to know I’m posting easily linkable scripts to these two right here!

Orange
<script type='text/javascript' src='https://fun.kyleabaker.com/ubuntu1010banner/orange.js'></script>

Purple
<script type='text/javascript' src='https://fun.kyleabaker.com/ubuntu1010banner/purple.js'></script>

Copy and paste the style that you’d like to use into your blog or web site. If you have any problems just let me know.

Be sure to give Anthony a shout out and thanks if you like his design as well! You can find his email listed on the Ubuntu banners page linked above.

Making Calls From Gmail

If you’ve somehow managed to miss this one in the news then you must be hiding in one deep dark hole. πŸ˜›

Here are some pictures for your entertainment. If you’d like to use this, you need to install the Google Voice plugin first and then restart you web browser.

Keep in mind that you need the plugin to do this (and obviously a microphone) and that you’ll be calling friends or family using a number provided to you by Google Voice (so they may not recognize it at first).

The best thing going for Google’s new calling feature (if you ask me) is that its completely free for me to call any phone in the USA. While this pricing may not be permanent, it should at least last through the course of this year (my source for that is linked somewhere up above πŸ˜› ).