Ubuntu Software Center: proprietary and free software mixed in a confusing UI

I have been watching the evolution of the Ubuntu Software Center for quite a while now. I had doubts about its interface and its speed, but I liked the fact that it offered an easy, down-to-earth interface that allowed users to install software easily.

However, I have to say that the way the Ubuntu Software Center has evolved is worrying me -- a lot.

Ubuntu Touch: the (natural) next step in personal computing?

I don't think many people have realised that we are on the verge of a technological revolution. The computing world is changing, and this is the first time GNU/Linux is catching the revolution as it begins. Computers are getting smaller and smaller, while phones are getting bigger and bigger. Everybody can see that they are about to converge -- but in what form? Well, the answer is: GNU/Linux -- before anybody else. The ingredients? A great GNU/Linux distribution, a leader with the right vision, and a few very bold, ground-breaking choices. Mix it well: the result is Ubuntu Touch.

Book Review: Ubuntu Made Easy

Ubuntu Made easy: A project-based introduction to Linux, published by No Starch Press, was written for the new Ubuntu user. The authors Rickford Grant and Phil Bull deliver on the titles promise with content that covers a comprehensive range of practical topics. This book rapidly describes practical recipes for the most common and a few less common home centric tasks. The authors push the new user with increasing velocity towards a detailed understanding of the Ubuntu Unity desktop.

Installing Software from the KDE System Settings Menu

Think "installing software in distros like Debian and Ubuntu", and you think automatically of Synaptic, apt-get on the command line or the new kid on the block, Unbuntu Software Centre. Sometimes, you just overlook the obvious. Did you know that you can also install and remove software using the KDE System Settings Menu? Thought not. Me neither, until I accidentally stumbled upon it--and I wasn't even in the KDE desktop at the time. I was using the LXDE desktop when I spotted it in the Preferences section of the Start menu. Curious? Me too. Let's take a look.

Controlling Privacy Setting in Ubuntu with Gnome Activity Log Manager

Whenever the The Electornic Frontier Foundation (EFF) commends Ubuntu for "retrofitting operating systems to support privacy against local attackers" as a worthy objective, I'm inclined to sit up and take notice. Since Ubuntu Precise Pangolin (12.04) these privacy setting have been integrated out of the box as a feature in the System Settings menu. It's called Activity Log Manager (previously Zeitgeist Global Privacy), a GUI frontend to partially control Zeitgeist. It's what powers Ubuntu's Dash in the Unity desktop. Here's how to use it to control what the Gnome activity log is recording.

Backing up Your Desktop Settings with Ubuntu-Tweak

There is no shortage of backup software in GNU/Linux. From full clones of hard drives to browser bookmarks there's something for everyone. However, sometimes you just need to be more selective about what you backup.

If you want to backup your precious desktop settings, you should try Ubuntu Tweak: it is bundled with a host of really useful features, it's been around for a while and it's up to version seven. You might find a version in your distro's repositories but if you're out of luck, download it from the official site.

Ubuntu's HUD: fixing the keyboard binding conflicts

Last week I finally took the leap and did an online upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). To my relief it was a flawless operation and one of the things I wanted to experiment with the much hyped HUD feature which is being slated as a replacement/supplement to application menus. It's a Marmite feature. You either love it or loathe it but what caught my attention was the keybinding used to launch it and how this interacts with its "near neighbours".

QuiEdit: An Editor for Anyone Who wants a Quiet Life

Editors, like file managers and browsers, are legion. To carve out a niche for itself an editor needs to have some compelling or unique feature(s). QuiEdit is unique. No, really. It is. If you want to write, unplugged from the distractions of the digital world, it has to be a contender. How?

Debian/Ubuntu: Making a Package Repository on Your LAN

This is one of those things that doesn't get explained much, because it's almost too simple to document: it's often useful to keep a few Debian package files (.deb files, used in Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux distributions derived from them) available for installation, either on your local host or on other computers on the same local-area network (LAN). You can make these available as an extra "repository" for your APT system, so that APT-based package tools (apt-get, Aptitude, Synaptic, etc) can access them. This makes managing these special packages just like your other packages, which can solve a lot of problems.

Create a radio station in five minutes with Airtime 2.0 on Ubuntu or Debian

Airtime is the GPLv3 broadcast software for scheduling and remote station management. It supports both soundcard output to a transmitter, and direct streaming to an Icecast or SHOUTcast server. Web browser access to the station's media archive, multi-file upload and automatic metadata import features are coupled with a collaborative on-line scheduling calendar and playlist management. The scheduling calendar is managed through an easy-to-use interface and triggers playout with sub-second precision.

Ubuntu's Unity Desktop: A Free Republic or Paternalistic Democracy?

If your computer is so old that it was last spotted in the wild roaming with the dinosaurs before they were flamed by an extinction-level event, then (like me) you just might just be grateful for Unity (2D) to extend the lifetime of your machine. Since the doctors switched off the life support on my best, though ageing laptop (private funeral only, no flowers, donations in lieu) I've had to switch the hard drive into my second best machine. The problem is that it's even older, at seven or eight years (probably about sixty eight in dog years).

Checking Out Ubuntu Studio 11.04

Well, it's not exactly brand new, but I am taking my first real look at Ubuntu Studio 11.04 (based on Ubuntu "Natty Narwhal"). This is what we decided to put on our "guest" computer when Debian "Wheezy" proved not to be so easy, and it gives us an opportunity to step out of our rut and look at a new GNU/Linux distribution.


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