April 29, 2007

Gadgets? Widgets? No! Screenlets.

[Update: also for Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon]
Having these nice looking and even useful pieces of mini-applications on desktop have become a trend in modern operating systems. Apple has nicely implemented the idea in OS X. Vista have them and even windows XP users can enjoy playing with them if they install Konfabulator (yahoo) or google desktop. Therefor I don't see why we, Linux users, cannot enjoy this eye candies. The matter of fact is that: we can.
Long story short:

1. In Synaptic:
Settings > Repositories: in thisrd party software tab, add this:

(for Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon users):
deb http://hendrik.kaju.pri.ee/ubuntu gutsy screenlets

(for Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn users):
deb http://hendrik.kaju.pri.ee/ubuntu feisty screenlets

2. In Synaptic, click on reload button.

3. In Synaptic, install "screenlets"

4. In terminal, type:

screenletsd start

[update: Screenletsd isn't used for starting screenlets anymore. Please use the new 'screenlets-manager' or start each Screenlet individually from now on]

5. In your file browser go to:


6. You will see lots of folders that most of them contain screenlets. You may run a acreenlet by running the file with .py extension.

7. Screenlet will start. You may play with them as you like and arrange them on the desktop.

8. If you want to have them every time you boot up, add this line in to startup programs in sessions (which you can fine in Control Centre):

screenletsd start

You dont need to add each screenlet individually next time.
For more inormation visit:

If you have any problem get some screenlets running, visit the post about this problem.

April 27, 2007

Using mouse scroll to change sound volume

It happens all the time that you need to change sound volume very quickly. You should know by now where the sound volume applet is located on the panel.
move you mouse pointer on it, and use the scroll button on the mouse to turn up or down the sound volume. No clicking is required.

April 26, 2007

A nice desktop analogue clock

There is a nice looking analogue desktop clock, but again, it is not pre-installed in Ubuntu Linux. This time instead of using Synaptic we opt for command line in terminal. Synaptic is no different from this command. It is just a graphic shell.
In terminal type:

sudo apt-get install cairo-clock

When it is installed, you may add it to startup programs in sessions or run it whenever you want from terminal. In terminal type:

cairo-clock &

"&" tells Linux that even if you close terminal, cairo-clock will continue running.

April 25, 2007

Excel alternatives in Linux

There is a fairly good alternative to MS-Excel and that is Openoffice Spreadsheet. But it is not without incompatibilities and glitches.
One example of incompatibility I found was datedif() function. It is missing in Opneoffice Spreadsheet but present in the other spreadsheet application available for Linux, gnumeric. It is a native application of gnome (the default desktop environment of Ubuntu) thus it runs faster and as far as I know it is more compatible with Excel.
Open Synaptic and look for gnumeric. Install it and enjoy it.

Where is compiz manager?

You have installed Ubuntu 7.04 and you have activated "desktop effects" and now you have drop shadows under windows and menus and a rotating desktop cube. After a couple of hours you will start looking for somewhere to fine tune compiz. Compiz is what makes all these desktop effects possible.
In fact, there is a compiz manager. It is just not installed but no worries. Start synaptic, find and install:


Now in terminal type:


and the setting manager for compiz fires up.
But you don't need to type this command every time. There is tiny application that reside in the panel and from where you can fire compiz manager in no time.
This application is called: compiz-tray-icon.
It is better to have it among startup applications so whenever Ubuntu starts up this application will be up and running. To do this, go to control centre, click on sessions and add


to "startup programs" tab.

Up time

Have you ever asked yourself how long your computer has been up and running?
In Linux, it is quite easy to know "up time".
In terminal type:


Here is an output example of this command:

02:44:01 up 1:23, 2 users, load average: 0.73, 1.60, 1.32

The first part shows current time, then "up time" in hh:mm format, then number of users conected to your computer, then system load averages for the past 1, 5, and 15 minutes.
Don't panic if you see more than one users are connected to your computer. If it is 2, one is your current session and the other is the terminal that you are using for "uptime" command.
If it shows more than 2 users, you may panic now!

Ok! Enough panicking!
In terminal type:


This is to see details of users reported by uptime command.

April 24, 2007

Increasing mouse scroll speed in firefox

If you are using firefox in Ubuntu Linux, you might have wondered how you can change mouse scroll speed.
To do that, you should roll up your sleeves and go to the hidden firefox settings. In address bar type:


You will see a textbox and a long list of options and settings. In the "filter" textbox type:


Change the default value to "false". Then type:


The default value is "1". Increase this number to have faster scroll speed in firefox. I personally prefer "6".
You don't even need to restart firefox to see the changes. They take effect on the fly.