Saturday, November 28, 2015

Post-installation setup for Ubuntu

After installing Ubuntu, you’re not done yet.

You need to install more stuff post-install depending on what you use your desktop for, primarily. So, here’s a list of things I installed after a clean installation of Ubuntu.

This serves mainly as a reminder for myself (because my memory for these things is absolutely horrid), but hopefully others wondering what else they need on their setup will find this somewhat helpful.

Here goes.


Programmer, or not, you’ll probably occasionally need to compile something from source. If my bad memory isn’t misleading me, proprietary GPU drivers also make use of this package to compile their kernel modules.

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install build-essential


Because intellectual property.

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Ubuntu Make

For the programmer in you. As I understand it, this is only available on the latest version of Ubuntu and development versions of Ubuntu. I just need this for Android Studio.

~$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-desktop/ubuntu-make
~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-make

The boring details are on the wiki.

Oracle Java
Screenshot from 2015-11-28 11-03-23.png
Oracle Java downloading through Terminal

Android Studio makes a fuss over OpenJDK so, this just shuts it up. If you just need the runtime to run some Java-based software ubuntu-restricted-extras should already have install OpenJDK runtime for you.

~$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer

At time of writing Java 8 is the recommended install. More details on Launchpad.

Android Studio

Google’s Android IDE. It’s better than Eclipse but it still kinda sucks. I hope someday somebody makes something awesome instead.

~$ umake android

Ex Falso

Ex falso is the best mp3 tag editor I’ve encountered so, I’ll use it until I find something better.

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install exfalso


Although Thunderbird is a e-mail client, I use it as a RSS feed reader. I’m sure there’s better options out there but I'm too lazy to search right now.

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install thunderbird


I’d like my computer to never have to touch a Windows machine, but reality says otherwise. This lets me share folders on my computer that is accessible from Windows.

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install samba libpam-smbpass

After installing, just share a folder from the GUI context menu, but if you want the nitty gritty details the wiki is available.


The HTPC video player. I’d like to use Totem but it doesn’t handle subtitles or dual/multi-audio very well. VLC just isn’t my thing.

~$ sudo apt-get update
~$ sudo apt-get install kodi

That should be it. With that all the use cases I need should be covered.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bluetooth in Gnome Shell > Unity

Compared to Unity 7 back in Ubuntu 15.04, Bluetooth support seems much simpler in Ubuntu Gnome 15.10. In 15.04 I had to key in the default PIN to pair my headphones. That, after a clunky process of retrying multiple times. After that, it was hit or miss whether Ubuntu remembers the pairing once you reboot the system.

Screenshot from 2015-10-31 15-04-20.png
Gnome's Bluetooth Settings app

On Ubuntu Gnome 15.10, pairing my headphones is much simpler.

  1. Set headphones to pairing mode.
  2. Click on your device in Gnome’s Bluetooth Settings.
  3. When it says “Connected” you’re done.

Super simple.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

In-place upgrade your Ubuntu

Screenshot from 2015-10-24 06-18-51.png
Ubiquity offering a Ubuntu 15.04 to Ubuntu GNOME 15.10 upgrade
It's time to upgrade your Ubuntu again. The usual (and recommended) way would be to use Ubuntu’s Software Updater to do the upgrade for you. It handles downloading the right packages for you and makes the upgrade process as smooth as possible.

But there's another way and that's to do the upgrade from a Ubuntu Live session. If you haven't already creating a bootable USB stick is easy.  

Upgrading from a live session is a mostly offline process. You already have the packages you need on the bootable media so the Ubuntu upgrade process can just use those. You can optionally let it download newer versions during the upgrade, but if you're in a hurry then you can defer that for later and have a working Ubuntu up and running more swiftly.

Warning: While running the upgrade on my particular setup, Ubiquity got stuck at “Restoring previously installed packages…” which I take to mean something broke while it was reinstalling non-default packages during upgrade. I don’t know if this is just one odd case, or if it’s some bug but my guess would be packages from PPAs causing the problem. It’s a good idea to ppa-purge any PPAs you may have added before starting the upgrade.

You can even switch Ubuntu editions as an upgrade. If you feel like a change of Ubuntu editions but would like to retain your settings, then simply create your bootable stick using your edition of choice (Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc) and use that to upgrade. For my upgrade to Ubuntu 15.10 I'll be upgrading Ubuntu to Ubuntu GNOME. Awesome!

Lastly, it's a safety net. Software Updater works really well, but sometimes it screws up and leaves you with a non-working system. While upgrading from a live session can also screw up, you already have the tools you'll need to save your files and do a clean installation. No need to find another PC, download the ISO, and create bootable media before you can start the rescue operation.

So pick your poison. There's plenty of choice here. I've given Cinnamon desktop a short spin and it's awesome, too. Just pick your desktop environment of choice and go with that Ubuntu flavor. You can't go far wrong.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Playing Prison Architect

Prison Architect by Introversion Games
If you enjoy SimCity or Cities: Skylines then you’ll find things to like in Introversion Software’s Prison Architect. Just as city builder games have you building your own metropolis from an empty plot of land, Prison Architect has you building a prison facility.

The tech tree also allows you to unlock additional features to play with and some even unlocks additional levels of control over your prison. Micromanage to your heart’s content or, let the game run with default policies. The choice is yours.


I didn’t mention this about Pillars of Eternity or Deponia, but Linux games generally don’t come in a nice installation package. There are games that come in .deb or .rpm packages, of course, but right now those look to be far and few between. Simply unpack the tarball and play seems to be the way to go for the moment.

If we’re going to get more users on Linux this is something the needs work. As awesome as Linux is, the software installation situation is… embarassing.

The Game

If you haven’t played the game, then be prepared. It’s addictive. Prepare to sink hours of your life into this once you start. Looking over your self-designed prison run day-to-day is… strangely mesmerising.

But the game certainly has it’s faults. Nothing deal breaking, but it can be a little frustrating sometimes. For example, the prison security grant tells you to research Patrols and assign Patrols but fails to mention you need to also research Deployment to setup those patrols. It’s not a big leap of logic to figure out but it’d be nice if the game mentions it rather than let you figure it out yourself. Building the prison is a big enough challenge already.

Then there’s the problem with more items than fits in the game’s control menus. The list of objects you can purchase for your prison, for example, only shows around 30 objects when there’s many more things available. You can use the search box to filter the list but that’s useful only if you know what you’re looking for. It’s not that hard to realise the ‘+’ button expands the menu neither is it immediately obvious that I can expand the menu.

Overall, the game plays well. There’s the occasional stutter which I’m not sure is caused by the game, or the GPU drivers. I’d lean towards blaming the game since it doesn’t look like something that pushes the GPU to it’s limits.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Create bootable Ubuntu USB stick with GNOME Disks

GNOME Disks.png
GNOME Disks writing Ubuntu ISO to USB stick
Other than Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator and unetbootin, there's a third option available for creating a bootable USB stick. The best part is it's built right into your Ubuntu installation just like Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator so no need to install additional tools like with unetbootin.

A quick way to access the feature is to right click on a Ubuntu ISO you've downloaded and select Open With > Disk Image Writer. That'll bring GNOME Disk's restore disk image tool right up and let you select your USB stick as the target.

Once done you're ready to go. It's as simple as that.

The downside is this overrides your USB stick's partition unlike Startup Disk Creator or unetbootin so be sure to backup anything that you want to keep before proceeding. You'll, of course, need to reformat it for use after you're done unless you want to stick with the tiny partition size.