Smoothwall Firewall project

Monday 26 July 2010

New Tab Candy with Firefox 4 Alpha build on Ubuntu

I stumbled across this new feature build of Firefox 4 in my daily Google alerts, and I'm really glad that I did.

This new build of Firefox 4 offers a very new feature for tab management , that to be honest is quite frankly very impressive.

It allows you to drag and drop tabs into little organised groups, but you can happily move tabs between these groups if you like.

The best way to have a look at how this works is to view this video by the developers.

Tab Candy Video

I have been using it since I found it, and it really does make your browsing experience so much better, to the point I have started using Firefox a little more often again.

One thing to watch out for though, is don't let this alpha auto-update, as it pulls in the latest FF 4 beta main trunk code, which doesn't have this feature turned on yet. So turn off auto update, and just manually grab the latest builds from the site below.

I would recommend downloading and having a play , and see what you think.

Tab Candy web page and download

Thursday 22 July 2010

Is Ubuntu thinking about switching to Chromium in 10.10?

While testing with the latest daily build I thought I would look through the App store to see if Google was in there, and instead I found a Chromium version (fully open source) version which is pinned to the exact same release code as the stable release of Google Chrome.

Now I get why in the base installation they don't want the Google Chrome release, but the Chromium version has up until now always been bleeding edge. So by taking the same stable version and just building the open source bits make it very easy to now include this.

As it stands today, you get FF 3.6, and it is very unlikely that FF 4.0 will be ready in the development timeframe for Ubuntu 10.10, but Chromium is ready now, and offers a much faster experience than FF. Now, version 5 of Chrome/Chromium is not perfect, but for 99% of peoples surfing needs it works fine.

Now, this is me finding something in repositories and making 5 from 2 + 2, but it really wouldn't take that much of a step, and it would be a real differentiator between the distro's. They must be thinking about it, otherwise why go to all this problem.

Have a look yourself and see what you think.

Problem adding the new Spotify Linux client repository security key

The great news is that there is now a native version of spotify, which works really well on Ubuntu, and I'm listening to it now as I type.

While I was installing it though, I found the link - below - to install the security key for the repository was broken - timed out.
gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 4E9CFF4E

So I found the key manually, and I'm posting it here so you can manually install it. How?

1) Copy all the text in the key below and paste it into a text file, using your favourite editor
2) Open the software sources application and click on the Authentication Tab - see below
Import your key
3) click on the Import Key file
4) Select the file you created earlier
5) Done ;-)

Here is the key and the spotify web page that gives the other instructions

Version: SKS 1.0.10


Spotify client for Linux

Sunday 18 July 2010

Using and looking at Btrfs in the latest Ubuntu Maverick build

I love looking at new technologies and assessing what they might be able to offer not only me, but the people that I do consultancy for. There is nothing like being able to pluck a technology white rabbit out of the hat in front the of the decision makers.

Well, for several years the modern file system designed by Sun called ZFS, has been rightly getting plaudits for not only it's usability but the built in functionality that companies have been paying large sums of money to Symantic to have the same features.

Ironically, an open source project was started within Oracle to come up with a system for Linux that would offer the same features - the company that now owns Sun and ZFS.

Well the developers in the Linux community have been busy with this next generation file system, and it is now available in the latest Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 2 builds, and I have just installed it using the alternative iso file into a Virtualbox test machine. I will be doing this on real hardware as well next week.

The installation was easy enough using the ncurses method as opposed to the more modern GUI mode, and the virtual machine started without any issues. At the moment you have to keep the /boot partition on ext4, as btrfs doesn't work with that as yet, but it is being worked on.

One of the features I'm looking for along side the advanced features of easy command line snapshots and duplication is a speed boost, only time will reveal if this is to be realised.

Using the command btrfs from the command line you can take snapshots of subvolumes and resize the filesystem on the fly, which offers so much simplification over the tools and methods we current use, like LVM etc.

I'm looking forward to spending some more time investigating all of the features of this very interesting new filesystem.



Saturday 17 July 2010

Setting Chromium to use the search engine of your choice

Chromium, like all good browsers is very flexible and allows you change things around, which is good, as one of it's default features can be very annoying. The feature , is that it auto detects which country you are in , and when you do a search it returns the information in the language of that country. This is great if you want that, but can be a real pain in the backside if you don't. As I travel between France and the UK very regularly, I need to be able to have the search engine, where ever I am, and this little trick sorts that out for you.

Well there is a easy way to fix that.

1) Go to the wrend menu and select options
2) Then click on manage search engines
3) Click on add to create a new one
4) Make it look like the picture below - substitue your country as appropriate.
5) Make it one of the defaults
6) Now test it with a search in the omnibar for something

The other great part of this is you can also set up other custom search engines for all your favourite sites , and I have set one up for the Linux Man pages , which I found on another site.

So if I now want to look up the man page for a command, I just type man command in the omnibox, and it takes me straight there.

See this picture on how I did that one.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Google web apps appear on the latest Chromium builds

I have been following the development of the ChromiumOS, and one the things I liked was the way that my often used apps would appear on a menu page and be easy to load. There is nothing revolutionary about at present, apart from it's convenience and the potential of what Google has up it's sleeve for the next generation of browser based web apps.

Well, you don't have to wait for the release of ChromiumOS anymore as you can have a play with them now, thanks to these articles

Download Squad

Google Chromium blog

Basically you need to add a start up option to your Chromium start button/icon which is --enable-apps. Once this is down, download the crx files from the second link onto your harddrive, and then just drag and drop them onto Chromium. If you know press Ctrl-t , you will see the web apps displayed. Click on one and it will appear on the left of the browser.

Now, if like me you follow the PPA chromium development build, then you will find that the web apps mentioned - gmail etc - in the first article are not in place in /usr/lib/chromium/resources, so use the ones from the second article instead.

If you look at my picture above you will see the web apps on the far left of the browser screen.

There is also some interesting discussions happening on the web about what these offer over a normal extension, apart from the pretty icon above the tab, I think currently , this is showing what will be available , and how it is going to progress rather than astounding us now.

Ubuntu takes another step towards the MAC UI and away from original UI

This change has been designed for the next release of the netbook remix - 10.10 maverick, but works perfectly on my Lucid 10.04 desktop setup. What is it , you may ask, well it's the moving of the application menu from the application window itself, and onto the Panel menu, at the top of your screen, just like the MAC does when you open an application. I have to say I like it , and I will be using it for a while to see how it goes.

This is what it looks like while using gedit.

It is definitely something worth having a look at and having a play with.

Here is the post on how to set it up, and make sure that you edit the file /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80appmenu , and change this setting APPMENU_DISPLAY_BOTH=0. Then restart your windows session by logging off and then back on again.

The Indicator Panel - from Jono Bacons blog

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Firefox Beta 1 release candidate out in the wild

There have been quite a few changes between 3.7 alpha and the 4.0 beta 1 release. There is a definite change in performance again, which is always good to see. They have added a new bookmark icon on the top Chrome area which works well, and along side that is added a Feedback button to help you get more involved in the beta testing process. Whether that will continue into the final release is not clear at this stage.

They are going to change the arrangement of the tabs at the top of the window, but this has not been implemented on the Linux or Mac versions yet, but we are told it's coming shortly. Update with the release of the beta this morning , having the tabs on top is now working on Linux.

The add-ons menu has been changed and makes it very easy to navigate all your plugins, themes and extensions. See the picture below.

The Mozilla sync - which was weave - is now fully integrate and works seamlessly with the new browser.

There are also many under the hood changes which I feel will make a lot of difference to the developer community and offer extra facilities for the end user like HTML5 video codec support using WebM

See here

Get it here

Thursday 1 July 2010

July is the month for new Browsers for Linux

I have been using all the latest browsers from the main standards compliant camp lately, as the heat is turned up with performance and functionality.

Well July 2010 is a real watershed in the available browsers for Linux with the arrival of the long awaited Opera 10.60 - which is a very polished, fast and extremely enjoyable browser to use. It has delivered on the long awaited promises that it has alluded to over the years. Google Chromium now has another real competitor on their hands, no doubt about that.

Also , while checking the Mozilla Firefox nightlies this morning - an oxymoron ;-) - I found that the availability of the next major release is getting prepared for it's beta testing phase on or around the 5th July. I have been using the 3.7Alpha5 for most of June, and this is what I believe will become the version 4.0 beta1, and it is a lot faster on Ubuntu 10.04 than 3.6 is, and it is now as close to Chromium and Opera as to not really be a deciding factor.

There is no doubt that Chromium stirred things up for ever when they appeared for good. We are now reaping the rewards of that entry into the browser arena, and as consumers of browsers we should all be grateful for that.

It does however now present the average Linux user with a fantastic dilemma, which browser should I use today? There is not an easy answer for that I have to admit.

I use Google Chromium now on a daily basis, as I like it's speed, auto-sync and extensions, but there are still a few rough edges , which occasionally mean I have to switch back to using Firefox to get work done. I'm working with the developers to make this situation better by reporting bugs as I find them, but it's not always easy, when you just want to get things done.

I also now have another contender in the form of Opera to switch to , as it also has far less problems with IE specific web sites, and now offers so much it really can't be ignored.