Tag Archives: Ubuntu

Google Desktop for Linux

On June 27th, Google released Desktop for Linux. I had looked for a download link on the main Desktop page but it only offered a download of Google Desktop for Windows and Mac. The only download link available that I could find was on the Google Desktop Blog.

I installed Desktop for Linux on Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04. The installation process was very straightforward. The first thing I did after installing GDL was to turn off “Advanced Features”. Enabling this will send some search data over to Google, though, they claim it is non-personal data that is sent.

Hitting the Control key twice brings up GDL (unless you’re using Beryl and on a Desktop with no windows open). GDL appears to take a lot less resources than beagle but that could also be because beagle indexes a lot more file types than GDL. GDL searches through Thunderbird email but it would be nice if the search results showed where a specific email was found (mailbox name, application name, or Google Mail). It would also be great if GDL was able to search through contact lists and emails in Thunderbird, Evolution, and Gmail and show me all relevant correspondence with a given contact name or number. GDL does need to improve the ability of searching within Thunderbird. I can’t explicitly say that Evolution results are better as I haven’t used Evolution in a long time.

I have also found that GDL hasn’t indexed all of my OpenOffice or PDF documents. GDL routinely finds no results when I search for a specific person that I have received a PDF from and the PDF is saved on my Desktop. I would expect when I search for that person’s name, GDL would show me the email that I had received from this person, as well as the PDF on my desktop which has his name within the PDF as well.

It’s also a bit annoying that if you have turned on mouse focus in Beryl, the GDL window closes immediately when you move the mouse to another window on the Desktop. This makes taking screenshots impossible in Beryl.

Overall, GDL is not a bad version 1 but there are definitely enhancements that would make this desktop search application much better.

Take a look at my short video of GDL on Ubuntu (and first video on YouTube).

Related Posts:

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn on ThinkPad T60

After the release of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, I decided to try upgrading my installation of Edgy Eft directly using Ubuntu Update Manager. It wasn’t working for various reasons so I used the command line to run apt-get upgrade. That was a big mistake. It downloaded and installed a few packages which upon reboot, broke Gnome. I was able to only get Ubuntu to boot into run level 3. I poked around a bit and couldn’t fix the problems mainly because I didn’t have a wired Internet connection and I couldn’t effectively connect to a Wireless Access Point using Network Manager from the command line (I need to figure out how to connect to a wireless AP from the command line, especially when I can’t remember the WEP or WPA passcodes).

After a frustrating night, I decided to use my MacBook to download the Feisty Fawn LiveCD. I started the download at night via BitTorrent and by the time I woke up, the download was done. I burnt the iso image to a CD and popped the freshly minted CD into my ThinkPad T60. During the installation, I decided to do a completely fresh install of Ubuntu so I wouldn’t have to worry about all the broken dependencies from Edgy Eft and how they might make Feisty Fawn unstable. I did, however, preserve my home partition and mounted that into the installation of Feisty Fawn. The installation process was very easy and allowed me to get my T60 up and running within and hour.

Feisty Fawn picked up all the necessary drivers for the ThinkPad T60. The Intel 3945 wireless drivers were also installed and setup. The Ubuntu installation also allowed me to use the ThinkPad keys for volume control and brightness control with complete OSD. It didn’t appear to install the tpb packages but managed to provide similar functionality.

Feisty even recognized the proprietary ATI drivers that are necessary for the Radeon X1400 in my ThinkPad T60 and made it very easy for me to download and install the drivers, though, they aren’t open source. The open source drivers for the ATI video card were loaded by default and worked pretty well. I’m not doing any gaming on Ubuntu so 3D graphics aren’t a major concern.

I have wanted to play with Beryl and Compiz for a while and now I finally got my chance. It took a bunch of tweaking to get going. Unfortunately, Feisty Fawn has a broken package that doesn’t include the beryl-xgl package. I was able to download an older package and extract the relevant binary and put it into the right place. After a few hours of fiddling with driver updates and getting to the bottom of the whole beryl-xgl problem, I have the ATI drivers running with XGL on Feisty Fawn. Though, I’ve read it’s pretty unstable to use the proprietary drivers with XGL, I’ve yet to see any major problems. Beryl is pretty slick but it’s a resource pig. Even so, I haven’t stopped using it. The only thing that’s a bit annoying is that every time I login, I have to reload the Beryl Window Manager. If I don’t reload, my Metacity mobile themes load up and Beryl doesn’t. This is apparently caused by Beryl crashing immediately upon login but not crash when I reload. I’ll get around to writing a full post on my experience installing Beryl on the T60. Below are some screenshots of Beryl under Ubuntu on my ThinkPad T60.

The obligatory spinning cube
Desktop Under Beryl
Water Effects in Beryl
Wobbly windows effect

Upon booting up into Feisty Fawn, I didn’t notice any significant changes. Luckily all my settings were saved in my home directory and I was quickly attached to my wireless network. I did find that the Network Manager Gnome applet had an option to create a manual configuration which I don’t think it did before.

The sleep functionality is still broken. I can put the T60 to sleep using the hotkeys but waking up from sleep is a problem. However, applying this fix solves the sleep and hibernation problem on Feisty Fawn (unless you are using Beryl).

Overall, I find Ubuntu to be the best desktop Linux distro I’ve used thus far. Though, I’m still more comfortable using and developing on Fedora, I find that the basic things a distro should do work very well on Ubuntu and not so well on Fedora or OpenSuse. There’s a lot more tinkering involved with these other distros. Hence, I’ve decided to install Fedora 7 from the LiveCD into a VMWare appliance. Below are a few screenshots of Fedora 7 running in a VM.
Fedora 7 in a VMFedora 7 Welcome Screen

Related Posts:

BlogBridge 3.0 Released

BlogBridge 3.0 came out a few days ago. As some of you know, I’ve been using previous versions for quite a while. What I like most about BlogBridge is that the software is croos platform ( I run it on my Ubuntu PCs, Fedora PCs, Mac Mini PowerPC, and MacBook ). The second best thign is that all my subscriptions are synchronized through the BlogBridge service. I can run BlogBridge anywhere and always pick up my most current configuration. the third best thing, and the reason I prefer BlogBridge over Web based RSS aggregators is that I can access BlogBridge (without synchronization), and read previously downloaded posts even when I am offline. I just wish they would improve the performance of the UI a bit but that’s the price to pay for using Java ( a small price – the software and the service is free ).
Try it out … BlogBridge: Downloading and Running BlogBridge

technorati tags:, , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Related Posts:

IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad Vs. Apple MacBook Revisited

I’ve been using the Apple MacBook on and off for a little over a month now.Disclosure: The MacBook isn’t my only computer. At the office, I have a Dell now running Ubuntu 6.06 and at home, I removed the failed IBM Deskstar drive out of my Dell, installed Ubuntu from scratch. At some point, I’ll reinstall Fedora Core 5 on the free partition. My main computer at home is my 1st generation PowerPC based Mac Mini. Hence, I use my MacBook when I’m not at the office or when I’m not sitting in the basement.

My use of the MacBook, though not constant, is considerable. I have come to enjoy most aspects of the hardware along with the software (OS X). I was asked to discuss my thoughts on the following aspects of the MacBook.

  1. Sturdiness: I haven’t traveled with the MacBook yet. I have only carried it with me to the local Starbucks and to the office on several occassions. It feels like a fairly well built machine but I can’t vouch for how it would react to a few falls like my old T40. I would be very surprised if it continued to function as well as my T40 after the serious falls it took.
  2. Productivity:
    • Though I am still no fan of the Apple Trackpad, I have configured it well enough that it doesn’t annoy be as constantly as before. I still think the Thinkpad keyboard/Trackpoint combination is the most productive I’ve seen on any laptop or desktop (see my review of the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard).
    • The feel of the MacBook keyboard is pretty good. I don’t miss my ThinkPad in this regard. Though, it’s a bit different, it feels nice.
    • I also miss the Thinklight that exists on the Thinkpads. This is incredibly useful when you’re trying to type in the dark (e.g. late at night in bed, on an airplane, etc). Considering the prices that some Thinkpads are available at, I hope Apple puts a lit keyboard or a Thinklight-like feature into future MacBooks.
    • The built-in iSight on the MacBook is a very useful feature if you use Skype, IM, Video IM, or just like to take pictures randomly. I am using the MacBook to create an audio diary of a project I am working on. I might turn it into a podcast at some point but not just yet. I’m also using Skype for phone calls in the US while it is free.
    • The wifi piece of the MacBook has been acting pretty flaky recently. At Starbucks, I had to reboot the laptop a few times before it would reconnect to the AP. At home, it is disconnecting from my Linksys WRT54G very often in spots that it worked fine just a few weeks ago. I think a similar problem has been reported on the MacBook Pros but I have yet to call this into AppleCare.
    • Battery life has also dropped significantly. I was getting 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours of battery life on a full charge, with my settings optimized for battery conservation. The same settings are consistenly providing me no more than 2 hours and 45 minutes of battery life. I have tried calibrating the battery as per the manual but no luck. I am in the process of recalibrating for the 4rd time right now before I call AppleCare.
    • Apple OS X is pretty good in terms of productivity. I would like it if I could configure keyboard shortcuts for everything and maybe I can, I just haven’t tried hard enough to figure it out.
    • Apple ships the MacBooks with a decent amount of software for productivity. (Quicken 2006 for the Mac doesn’t compare to the Windows version).
  3. Applications: I am pretty happy with the applications on OS X. I’ve been able to get lots of Unix opensource applications running, including Postgresql, NeoOffice and OpenOffice, along with Perl and a good amount of the Perl modules from CPAN. The MacBook ships with a trial version of iWork and Microsoft Office for Mac. I didn’t find a need to use either of these applications and had not installed them when I reinstalled OS X. OS X is pretty good at sleeping, though I would like to see a hibernate function. It is just as stable as Linux from my use of OS X Tiger on my PowerPC Mac Mini and on my Intel MacBook. It’s probably much much mroe stable than Windows on anything.

I haven’t completely ruled out buying a new motherboard for my old T40. If I can buy it and get it installed, all for $200, I’ll probably do it. Anything more than that, I won’t. I guess that means that though I really like the MacBook, I am really used to my ThinkPad T40 running Linux and I miss.

The MacBook is a fist generation computer whereas the Thinkpad T series is tried and true. The MacBook is very good for early adopters and those that aren’t afraid of a little tinkering. It’s also a very cost efficient way of playing with OS X and being able to see first hand how things “just work”. The MacBooks do get pretty hot so be careful to keep the laptop on your lap for very long.

If anyone has any additional questions, please drop me a line.

Apple – MacBook
Lenovo – T Series

technorati tags:, , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Related Posts: