Compiz Wobbly Windows bug

I recently made a video clip to capture a bug with Compiz in Ubuntu that has irritated me as long as I’ve used it.

Now that Ubuntu 10.04 is getting a new and polished theme, it would make sense to polish the visual flaws that this “Wobby Windows” plugin still presents.

I also opened a thread for further discussion about this. You can also view the bug report and mark it as affecting you as well.

Ubuntu 10.04 Wallpaper – Dual Screen

Ubuntu 10.04 Dual Screen Wallpaper (2560x1024)
Ubuntu 10.04 Dual Screen Wallpaper (2560x1024)

If anyone is interested, I’ve uploaded a modified Ubuntu 10.04 Wallpaper to fit Dual Screen displays a little better. I got tired of using the default wallpaper, one per monitor, and prefer to stretch the same continuously wallpaper across both. Feel free to grab the wallpaper and use it yourself.

Ubuntu 10.04’s Themes…

If you’re a regular to the world of Linux news then you’ve surely heard the news of Ubuntu 10.04’s new “theme shakeup” and probably seen screenshots of the two new themes that are still in the process of being tweaked and finalized.

I’ve been using the new wallpaper and themes since they were first introduced and I’ve began to love and hate them at the same time. I’ll try to explain why.

<rant>

The theme that I’m using of the two is called Ambiance (the other is Radiance, which is brighter) and it seems to be the best based on appearance in my opinion.

Ubuntu 10.04 Ambiance

As you can see from the screenshot above (click to view a larger image) the title bars have a smooth gradient touch that even works well with transparency (seen in the windows that aren’t focused).

The window controls have moved to the left-hand side by default and have also been reorganized, which can be task to get used to as I’ve only finally began to feel comfortable with the controls on the left-hand side.

Side note: If you’re interested in easily moving these controls around and re-arranging them, you’re in luck!

I can only imagine that the thought process behind the brainstorming session for the window controls position and layout was something like the following poorly executed logic.

Windows is obviously very popular and people relate to their traditional window controls. We can use alternatives to these so we are “different”: “x” for close, “/\” for maximize, “[]” for restore, and “\/” for minimize. Now we can move the controls to the left side of the window to please all of the apple fans. Save. Commit.

The window controls are probably one of the most important design points to any theme. While it appears that Ubuntu is going for a more polished and professional appearance, its going to be near impossible get the polished feel of Mac OS X and the traditional simplistic controls from Windows to integrate together using the new colors that Mark Shuttleworth and his team have chosen.

Many people across the Ubuntu forums and blogosphere are repeatedly comparing Ubuntu’s new theme designs to Mac OS X. While they are correct in identifying the similarities, they are missing the fact that Mac OS X is a continually highly polished operating system with the user interface being one of the main attractions. Rounded window controls and gradient windows aren’t going to be enough to attract users the way OS X does.

The Ubuntu 10.04 Ambiance window controls don’t even have decent hover effects for the current window (window with the red/orange close button).

I for one want to see uniform and consistent icons for all applications as well as attention to folders, drives/devices and thumbnails on the desktop and in other folders. The default orange folder icons have been around for far too long and are in desperate need of some updates.

Moving on, the scrollbars have very little hover attention. While its generally a good idea to be subtle with interface hovers and interactions, the current implementation seems to harm more than help. Rather than fading darker on hover or introducing a bolder border (as XP does), it simply brightens by minimal amount. This isn’t enough visual confirmation to assure the user that they are indeed interacting with the scrollbar.

The scrollbar up, down, left and right arrows have absolutely no hover or press affects. This is a major interface failure and I assume it will eventually be corrected before the theme is finalized. Until then, its a major bug in my opinion.

The buttons. If you look at the screenshot again (from above) you’ll notice how boring and unimpressive the new buttons are (apparently I’m not alone). One thing that I’m impressed with is the was they’ve created a common design between fixed combo boxes and buttons. While the general design of the buttons is just not impressive at all, the thought behind consistency here impresses me.

What doesn’t impress me is the choice of colors for selected and enabled controls..

Window controls (buttons, checkboxes, radio buttons, tabs, etc)
Highlighted button example

To me, this idea that purple and orange are going to be widely accepted among new and current users is just absurd.

I’m sure many people tend to just deal with skins and themes rather than trying to find alternatives that are more friendly. I find that I never need to adjust themes in Windows or Mac, but Linux themes seem to have a history of being poorly designed or poorly executed.

I can see how making the Terminal transparent can be attractive to users who know how to even open it, but what were they thinking when they decided to make it purple?

Seriously? A Purple Terminal Window? WTF?

Anyone serious about Linux is going to be using the terminal. Even those who are not so serious about Linux will be subject to opening the terminal to enter obscure commands as solutions to problems that they don’t remotely understand.

I just don’t see purple being as commonly accepted among the male user-group as I do among the female user-group for integration into the default theme. The point in that being that the themes should be more gender neutral with the purple coloring. Especially in the tooltips, OMG! 😉

Another common complaint that I’ve seen among fellow Ubuntu users (and a recent blog post) is the default title bar font which is very bold and not very attractive. One thing I wish they would adopt from Mac is the use of text shadow. In CSS this would simply be something like “text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px #ccc;“. Mac OS X uses a brighter shadow to enhance the appearance of the title bar font in a very slight and elegant way.

While this is a major change from the previous default Human theme, Ubuntu still presents itself as unpolished and unprofessional. Developing a truly unique and efficient interface is without a doubt a difficult task. The previous interface promises that were abandoned are proof of that. However, the importance of introducing a polished interface can’t be stressed enough.

Developing a truly polished interface takes time. This is one thing that is not on Ubuntu’s side with the release of Ubuntu 10.04, which is to include the new theme, scheduled for April 29, 2010 (less than 2 months away).

What they should have done is start this new theme back in the developmental process of Karmic and only installed it through the community-themes package. This would allow people to easily test the theme and provide a fair amount of time to turn feedback into progress. If they had followed this model, the new themes would be very matured by now and especially by the final release of Lucid.

While the final release may produce a polished set of new themes for Lucid, just remember that they could have been (read: should have been) more polished and thought out. 😉

</rant>

In case you were interested in seeing the Radiance theme..

Ubuntu 10.04 Radiance

While there are many other flaws that I’ve encountered in the new themes, the ones mentioned above are in my opinion the ones that are most important. If you’ve got opinions about the new themes, voice your opinions and share your ideas!

Making My.Opera more social

I recently posted an idea in the “Idea Mill” for Gwibber which is a social client for GNOME developed with Python and GTK+.

My idea is to evolve My.Opera from a traditional web browser based social community to a client based community so that users can quickly and effortlessly update their status, reply and receive private messages, follow community updates and more.

This project will require a large effort to get going from the start, but would help the My.Opera community grow by making the service available to a larger crowd.

The current problem with My.Opera is that it depends on a community of Opera enthusiasts. Lets face it, Opera has a very small market share when compared to the current leading browsers. If the community is to truly succeed it would make more sense to remove the requirement of being an “Opera fan” and focus more on making the service a social success such as Facebook or Twitter.

With my idea, My.Opera could integrate with applications such as Gwibber and TweetDeck to allow users of the online service to easily follow others, review and update their private messages, keep track of community updates and stay updated in general with the activities available at My.Opera.com.

Here is my mockup for Gwibber:

As you can see, My.Opera would be able to attract users in a fashion nearly identical to that of Twitter with features that already exist and have existed for some time now.

The only current setback….My.Opera doesn’t offer an extensive API to make this idea possible. While they do have some API support in place, they lack what is needed (AFAIK) to make this support possible without fetching and parsing pages designed for a web browser.

The inclusion of this support would be very beneficial to My.Opera, especially when Ubuntu 10.04 is release with default integration with the social client Gwibber.

Making this giant step into the micro-blogging and “friending” era via clients would also be very beneficial to Opera Software ASA‘s business model. With more people joining the My.Opera community (after seeing the service support in Gwibber and other clients) the number of people exposed to the Opera browser would be fantastic!

This could potentially be a game changing move for Opera and it would be wise to take advantage of it as soon as possible with the current popularity and high demand for social micro-blogging services today!

If you’re a frequent My.Opera user and you’re interested in this idea for Gwibber and potentially other social clients, please cast your vote to show support and let the My.Opera community developers know that you’re interested!

Gwibber + U.NU

I’ve been using Gwibber on and off for a while now, but recently I’ve started using Ubuntu 10.04 full time and Gwibber has now been directly integrated.

Back when I used Gwibber before, it was a half-developed Twitter client. Its much more than that now and its progressing nicely!

Gwibber 2.29.90.1

Some people might compare it to TweetDeck for Windows, but it has a little ways to go before its as feature complete as TweetDeck.

I’ve decided to start making contributions to the client via user interface improvements and improving service reliability among other things. However, I’ve started with a simple contribution that is one requirement for me…the use of my favorite url shortener service: U.NU

U.NU is your basic url shortening service, but it lacks a great deal of features that other services typically offer such as detailed statistics for each link. This doesn’t bother me, as the most important thing to me is a short url. 😉

Now that I’ve submitted a (very) simple python script that enables a new url service in Gwibber, I’ve marked a point where I’ve actively began contributing to the open source community (to applications that are not my own).

Gwibber is now a part of Gnome so I’m hoping that when Gwibber 2.30 is released, along side Gnome 2.30, they will include my little patch/contribution so I can use my favorite url shortener in my tweets. This is the beauty of open source. 😀

If you’re curious about the theme I’m using, it’s the Homosapien Metacity theme. I used the online Homosapien Metacity Customizer to get the blue theme though. You can make your own remix of this theme there if you wish or you can just download the exact one that I’m using.

Ubuntu 10.04 and LifeCam VX-1000

If you’re using the same web cam that I’m using, the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000, then you may already be familiar with the difficulties involved in the process of getting this web cam to work in Ubuntu…or rather, the difficulties that were involved.

After countless days spent and hours wasted over the past 4 months that I’ve owned this web cam, I had not been able to find a solution to see it work even once.

The problems I ran into were that the few solutions for this camera were specifically for 32-bit Ubuntu, while I’m using 64-bit Ubuntu.

Typically these days, this type of problem isn’t architecture specific in Linux, which means that fewer people have to battle the problems that are unique to x86_64 platforms. In my experience with Ubuntu, x86_64 application/firmware support 4 years ago was a joke. Today, x86_64 support is commonplace and practically a standard.

After upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04, I was able to see this support change yet again! Without configuring anything in Ubuntu 10.04 x86_64 the video feed from my web cam was working flawlessly (I tested using Cheese 2.29.90)!

There is the small matter of getting the mic on the web cam to work, but for now I’ve got an old mic that plugs into the ports from the motherboard. So I will have sound, just not through the web cam just yet. Hopefully I can find a solution to this as well, in which case I will be sure to link you to. 😉

In the future, I’d also like to submit a patch or hack to enable the LifeCam Call Button like I did previously in Windows 7 so that you can configure what the button should do…take a picture, video, start a call or chat, etc.

Ubuntu + iPod Touch/iPhone

Updated Information at End of Article

After spending a great deal of time researching Ubuntu and iPod Touch/iPhone sync issues, I’ve finally found a solution that isn’t a dreadful experience.

There is currently a project in the alpha/beta stages that, when completed, will provide sync support for the iPod Touch and iPhones that are using Firmware 3.

If you’re not using Firmware 3 on your iPod Touch or iPhone, then I’m not sure how much this guide will apply to you. You can try looking here for more information.

If you are using Firmware 3 (my iPod Touch is running OS 3.1.2), then I’d suggest you following the guide provided by A. Tres Finocchiaro (aka FatButtLarry) over on his blog.

Following his guide, which is comprised of two lines of terminal commands to copy-n-paste, I was able to have my iPod Touch sync’ing in no time!

While the transfer speed seems to be a bit slow, it is indeed working well! Cover art is transfered flawlessly, everything seems to be in order!

Remember that this project isn’t complete and you are likely to encounter bugs. My experience thus far has been positive, your mileage may vary. Good luck. 😉

Update (2010-02-24):
If you are using or plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04, you will not need to manually install any of the software mentioned above. Ubuntu 10.04 brings support for the iPhone and iPod Touch by default. You should not have any problems with your device and Rhythmbox!

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

If you’ve not already read the news (I’ve been too busy to post this lately)…it’s time again to update your computer now that Ubuntu 9.10 has been released! With the release of Ubuntu 9.10 you’ll find a wealthy list of new features!

Upstart
Upstart gets you to your desktop to start using Ubuntu even faster than before.

Software Center
The Software Center has replaced the Add/Remove option in the Applications menu and provides an easier to use experience for anyone when looking for an application that you don’t already have installed.

GNOME
With GNOME 2.28, Empathy is the default instant messenger, a new login screen has been added, and you’re now protected more than ever when viewing documents with Evince thanks to AppArmor!

Ubuntu 9.10 translation status
Ubuntu is available in the following 25 languages: Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian, Swedish, German, Hungarian, Simplified Chinese, English, Russian, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, Finnish, Danish, Catalan, Czech, Polish, Korean, Bulgarian, Greek, Slovenian, Traditional Chinese, Basque and Galician.

Application development with Quickly
Quickly is a new tool that makes it quick and easy to create and share applications in Ubuntu via deb packages!

Kubuntu
Kubuntu 9.10 includes the first Kubuntu Netbook release!

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud Images
Ubuntu 9.10 includes images for common use on Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) and Amazon’s EC2.

Ubuntu One
Ubuntu One is a tool that allows you to drag and drop files to a folder on your computer that are uploaded and synchronized with your existing files in the clouds! You can work on a document on one of your Ubuntu computers and it will be automatically updated on your other Ubuntu computer! This is similar to DropBox.

Linux kernel 2.6.31
Ubuntu 9.10 includes the 2.6.31-14.48 kernel based on 2.6.31.1. The kernel ships with Kernel Mode Setting enabled for Intel graphics (see below). linux-restricted-modules is deprecated in favour of DKMS packages.

hal deprecation
Ubuntu 9.10’s underlying technology for power management, laptop hotkeys, and handling of storage devices and cameras maps has moved from “hal” (which is in the process of being deprecated) to “DeviceKit-power”, “DeviceKit-disks” and “udev”.

New Intel video driver architecture
The Intel video driver has switched from the “EXA” acceleration method to the new “UXA”, solving major performance problems of Ubuntu 9.04.

ext4 by default
The new ext4 filesystem is used by default for new installations with Ubuntu 9.10.

GRUB 2 by default
GRUB 2 is the default boot loader for new installations with Ubuntu 9.10, replacing the previous GRUB “Legacy” boot loader.

iSCSI installation
The iSCSI installation process has been improved, and no longer requires iscsi=true as a boot parameter; the installer will offer you the option of logging into iSCSI targets if there are no local disks, or you can select “Configure iSCSI” in the manual partitioner.

Putting the root filesystem on iSCSI is now supported.

AppArmor
AppArmor in Ubuntu 9.10 features an improved parser that uses cache files, greatly speeding up AppArmor initialisation on boot. AppArmor also now supports ‘pux’ which, when specified, means a process can transition to an existing profile if one exists or simply run unconfined if one does not.

Source: New features since Ubuntu 9.04

Download Ubuntu 9.10
If you’re looking for a place to download Ubuntu 9.10, you can find the direct download from Ubuntu’s official download page here. If you prefer downloading via BitTorrent then you may want the Desktop i386, Desktop amd64, or NetBook Remix i386 torrents!

Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10
If you just want to upgrade from Ubuntu 9.04, just press Alt+F2 and type update-manager -d then press enter. After you continue through the upgrade you’ll be running Ubuntu 9.10…in no time!

Either way, enjoy Ubuntu 9.10!

Final Release: Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

Today’s April 23, 2009 and you know what that means. Ubuntu 9.04 is to be released in it’s final state.

To upgrade from Ubuntu 8.10 on a desktop system, press Alt+F2 and type in “update-manager -d” (without the quotes) into the command box. Update Manager should open up and tell you: New distribution release ‘9.04’ is available. Click Upgrade and follow the on-screen instructions.

To upgrade from Ubuntu 8.10 on a server system: install the update-manager-core package if it is not already installed; edit /etc/update-manager/release-upgrades and set Prompt=normal; launch the upgrade tool with the command sudo do-release-upgrade; and follow the on-screen instructions.

I’ve been using Jaunty Jackalope since the early Alpha releases with few problems and the ones that were there have disappeared thanks to speedy updates!

Ubuntu New Wave skin for Opera

I’ve recently been flip flopping between two themes that are offered in Ubuntu 9.04 and I like to have everything integrate nicely.

So, I spent a little time putting this skin together, or modifying it rather, so that it helps give Opera a more integrated feel into the Ubuntu New Wave environment without sacrificing the graphics and layout that Opera has by default.

You can find this skin in the Opera section along with a few others that I’ve uploaded or simply take the direct link to the skin page.

You can also find out more details about the skin there as well as a complete change-log with previous versions of the skin.

opera-standard-new-wave-03

Click the images below to see a larger version.

opera-standard-new-wave-02

opera-standard-new-wave-01

Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Beta Released

Today marked the Beta Release day for the next release from Ubuntu, bringing us from Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex to Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Beta.

If you’ve been waiting for a stable version of Jaunty Jackalope to upgrade to then you may have found the right version with the release of this Beta. Although Beta indicates that the product is not complete and may contain a few bugs, I have been using Ubuntu 9.04 since the early alpha stages and have watched it develop into what it is now…which is a very solid Beta release with no problems that I’ve experienced.

If you’re ready to upgrade then you can find a simple step by step guide that I wrote: How-To: Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 and ext4

If you’re still not ready to upgrade then you’ve only got a month to wait until the Final Release is scheduled to be made public.

To get a full list of changes that have been introduced in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope thus far, please take a look at the Beta release notes.

The Ubuntu Dust theme is now available in the Themes list as well. I highly recommend that you give this theme a try and take a look at my Dust skin for Opera.

Also new with 9.04 is a redesigned boot screen and login window. Some new artwork, such as backgrounds, have been added to the mix as well now, however, I don’t think they are completely finished just yet.