Friday, May 27, 2011

HOWTO: Add transparency to dialogue and modal dialogue boxes

There are a few things you will need before being able to enable transparency for your dialog boxes and modal dialog boxes is compiz-fusion, which can be found in the repositories.  Install it in a terminal with

"sudo apt-get install compiz"

*(without the quotes).

Then, install compiz-config-settings-manager with the command

sudo apt-get install compiz-config-settings-manager

If you want to be fancy and do it all in one command it would look like this:

sudo apt-get install compiz ; sudo apt-get install compiz-config-settings-manager

If all goes well, and your graphics card and drivers and memory are all able to handle desktop effects, compiz and compiz config settings manager should be installed.
Right click on the desktop and click "change desktop background".
Click the tab "desktop effects" and if it's not already marked, mark "normal".

The program should search for drivers and then enable desktop effects (if all is well with your graphics card capabilities).

Now to enable transparency for your dialog boxes and modal dialog boxes:

Click on the main Gnome menu -> system -> preferences ->compizconfig settings manager

This will open up the settings manager for Compiz (wow big surprise there).  Scroll down to "opacity, brightness and saturation" and mark the box next to it to enable it.  Then click the actual button to enter the opacity, brightness and transparency options.

Under "Window Specific Settings" click "new"
When the dialog box comes up, change the opacity to something other then 0 before entering in the criteria for which components you want to make transparent.  It can be a pain if you somehow type "ccsm" into the windows field with it still set to 0, then try to somehow find the little slider thing to change it to something visible.  Anyhow best practice in my opinion is to change it to something like 80% and then choose your windows.

So to choose the windows we're going to be listing them according to their window type.

After clicking "new" to enable transparency for dialogs, modal dialogs, popup menus and drop down meus  you would enter

"type=Menu | PopupMenu | DropdownMenu | Dialog | ModalDialog" *(again, do not include the quotes).

I have mine set at 70, choose whatever you prefer.  You can use this same process and add another entry with "type=any" set to 90 or 95%, which is usually visually pleasing.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, have questions or comments feel free to let fly

Keep it pimpin' out there...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things to customize after a fresh install

One of the biggest strengths of Ubuntu is the degree to which it can be customized.  Most people leave things approximately where they are, however with the correct know-how and dedicated time you can customize your desktop to a high degree and make it operate EXACTLY how you want. 

In the newest release, Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, a new desktop environment was chosen over Gnome called Unity.  I personally don't like Unity because of how locked down it seems.  You can still upgrade to 11.04 and choose "Ubuntu Classic" when you log in, but it seems like Ubuntu 10.10 is a perfectly fine release and I see no reason to upgrade unnecessarily (if it ain't broke, don't fix it). 

For that reason, this guide/tutorial is going to be written for Ubuntu 10.10 and earlier, or for that matter any Gnome 2.x distribution. 

So then, to get started:  when you first install and log in, you should see a screen like this: (with the exception that mine is running in Virtualbox)

In a word, BORING. 

I'll explain how to go from that to this:

The things that I'm gonna be changing are mainly dealing with the look of the OS, not the functionality, as that would be an entire different post. 

I'll cover how to change the background, the theme, the cursor theme, the screensaver, the panels, the icon themes, how to add panel applets and a few other useful things. 

First off you want to get yourself some new themes.  Check out and look under "gtk2.x" for a theme you like.  Once you find one (mine is called divinorum revisited or something like that) download it and save it somewhere (a folder in your home folder called "themes" is suitable.  Then right click on your desktop background, and click change desktop background.  open the "theme" tab, and click "install".  navigate to your newly downloaded theme (should be .tar or .tar.bz2), double click, and it should install.  Depending on the theme it will ask you if you wish to apply it.  A trick is that themes can be somewhat mixed and matched.  You can use the controls of one theme, the window border of a different theme, the icons of a different theme, and a cursor of a different theme, all of which are installed in the same way.  To customize those aspects, click on any specific theme, then click "customize" and you will have all the options to customize the theme.  Some will let you customize the colors of the windows, some won't. 

Now about the panels:

You can leave the panels as they are, but they're pretty ugly.  I would always choose to make them transparent by right clicking on them, going to properties, then background, then choose solid color and make it all the way transparent.  If you wish to get rid of the shadow on them open up compizconfig-settings-manager (sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager if you don't have it already), go to "window decoration", go to "shadow windows" section and click the little "+".  click "invert", then click grab and click on your panel.  It should then exclude the panel from the shadow window decoration. 

Things I find to be very useful on the panel are the system monitor, set to a width of 100 pixels and update interval of 200 milliseconds, a main menu (not the custom one with the "applications places system" menus separate), the weather applet, the notification area, the volume/mail applet, the date/time, and the user control (log out/shutdown thing).  Using just these, and no bottom panel I have no problem switching between windows using the scale function and alt-tab (ring switcher FTW), and have a beautiful and uncluttered desktop. 

In addition, I would highly recommend installing desktopnova (you can find it in the repositories), and finding a bunch of good wallpapers for it to cycle through at regular intervals.  More information to come, ask some questions if you want to know more about which themes I used and how to do what and whatnot. 

Keep it real. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I'll be posting random screenshots here from how my computer used to look to what i'm up to currently, and other various screens.  check it yo

This is Windows Server 2008 updating.  I got bored with it and killed it before the updates were done installing because it was taking FOREVER.  

This is installing Ubuntu 11.04 Server Edition in Virtualbox.  Still working on this project.  Also good reggae playlist, with some nerdcore.  

This is just what my desktop normally looks like, peaceful, colorful, just nice...

Using Virtualbox to run Windows XP inside Ubuntu

Ok this one's pretty easy.  step uno:  go here:

select the appropriate file, download, and install either with gdebi or ubuntu software center (doesn't really matter which).  or you can go into synaptic package manager and install the one in the repositories, they're slightly different but work the same as far as I'm concerned. 

So once it's installed, you're gonna want to open it up, it's under "system tools".  Once it's open, click "new" and choose your settings.  For XP you choose "windows", "xp", and give it a name "Windows XP" is pretty creative.  Anyhow, then after that you allocate how much memory to give it, click next, next, next, blah blah.  Then it's created.  Great. 

Now you need an ISO to mount or your original Windows XP install CDs (haha yeah right).  So you click on your windows xp virtual machine, click start or run or whatever (the thing with the green arrow), and a first-run wizard pops up.  you can now tell it where to boot from (your ISO image), what size hard drive to give it, and a few other options.  When all's said and done, it'll boot up and prompt you to install windows XP just as if it were installing directly to your computer.  Once it's working, it operates exactly as if it were installed directly to your machine, so....yeah awesome right?

peace out!

Friday, May 20, 2011

First Post; Ubuntu Networking Crash Course

Hello world!

This is my first post.  Here's some quick networking info about networking on Ubuntu 10.10 (should be applicable to earlier versions as well as 11.04).

First off: Networkin' on Ubuntu is EASY.

Wired: You plug it in (the RJ45 into the RJ45 port, duh), you are connected to your local network.  To check if you have connectivity, you can look at the link lights on the plug, they should be lit or blinking.  Furthermore, you can try to go to a website to see if you are connected to the Internet, or view your local network by clicking on "places -> network".  It's pretty basic, to troubleshoot your connection if it's not working you can type "ifconfig -a" into a terminal to get information about your connection.  My "ifconfig -a" output:

"eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:16:d3:5a:64:e0 
          inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
          inet6 addr: fe80::216:d3ff:fe5a:64e0/64 Scope:Link
          RX packets:39443315 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:29875076 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
          RX bytes:2076862443 (2.0 GB)  TX bytes:2079179665 (2.0 GB)
          Interrupt:44 Base address:0xa000

eth1      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:19:7e:8f:dd:49 
          inet6 addr: fe80::219:7eff:fe8f:dd49/64 Scope:Link
          UP BROADCAST MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 B)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)

lo        Link encap:Local Loopback 
          inet addr:  Mask:
          inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
          UP LOOPBACK RUNNING  MTU:16436  Metric:1
          RX packets:5510 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:5510 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:534795 (534.7 KB)  TX bytes:534795 (534.7 KB)"

Neat things you can do with this connection: share it!  If you've got 2 NICs, you can share your wired connection to another computer using the second NIC.  Right click on your network icon and click "Edit Connections".  Under the "Wired" tab, click your preferred network connection or create a new one, then click "Edit".  Click on the IPv4 tab, then click on "Automatic DHCP" and change it to "Shared to Other Computers".  Then you either log out and log back in again, restart, or restart your network services, the choice is yours.  When you connect to your network, it will then share your connection with any other computers connected to yours via an ethernet cable.  You can use the same technique with a wireless connection and 1 NIC card to share your wireless connection over your wired NIC, which is especially useful if you have a laptop with wireless and a desktop without, but a spare ethernet cable laying around.

This is just a quick howto, more will be expanded upon later.

Networking Ubuntu (Part II)

So lets say you've got a few computers all connected to your LAN and you'd like to be able to access any of them from any of them.  This is easily accomplished from directly within Nautilus. 

To do so you need to have an active internet connection. 

Hit Alt-F2, then type "gksu nautilus".  It will prompt you for your password, and then after that open up a root nautilus window.  Navigate to the parent folder of the folder you want to share, right click on the folder you want to share then click on "properties".  Go to "permissions" and set the folder access permissions to your liking (as in who can view the items in the folder, who can create, who can delete, etc...
Once you are done with that click "apply permissions to enclosed files", then click on the "sharing options" tab and click the box "share this folder".  If you don't already have it installed, Ubuntu will prompt you to install the file sharing service (Samba), after which you need to restart or log out and log back in, or just restart the service.  Then repeat the first couple steps, open a root nautilus window, navigate, blah blah and go to sharing options again and click the check box "share this folder".  It should work just at that, but sometimes you may need to rename it (it'll tell you if there is an error at the bottom of the window).  Then click the two check boxes granting access to people without an account and granting access to people who can create and delete files.  When you finish all these steps, your share should show up if you go to "places", then "network".  You should see an icon right on this screen listing your computer's share, but if you don't click on "windows network", and it should show up in there.