Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Indispensable Apps

Every time I install a new OS, I find myself reinstalling those indispensable applications that transform my computer from a dumb box into a powerful tool. Upgrading to 14.04 LTS this week has been no different and, for what it's worth, here are the apps that got loaded first:

  • Chromium Web browser - I just prefer this browser to Firefox. You'll need to install Flash Player to get the best out of this app, but that's pretty easy to achieve.
  • Bluefish text editor - I've written a couple of websites and drafted pretty much every blog post on Karmic Odyssey using this editor.
  • Shutter - the best screenshot tool available.
  • KeepassX (Password Manager) - this really is indispensable, all of my passwords are random and I've no hope of remembering them! I also use KeePass Droid on my phone.
  • Stellarium - this is a great application for identifying all of those stars and planets.
  • Tellico (Collection Manager) - satisfies my need for control over my library!
  • VLC Media Player - I'm sure that I don't need to justify this!
  • Ubuntu Tweak (GUI Configuration Tool) - handy tool for personalising your OS
  • Wine (Windows Emulator) - I need this to run Memory Map. It's pretty eccentric but it just about does the job (although I return to Vista if I need to print maps)

Of course, I'm still configuring my (beautiful) new OS. Here's a couple more applications on the install short list:

  • OpenOffice - this will wait until this year's tax return is finished but it will certainly replace the bundled LibreOffice.
  • GParted (Partition Manager) - just damn useful.

I'm sure that there are more that I've missed - perhaps I'll update this post from time-to-time.

Sources & Resources:

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Good Grief - It's Life Jim...

It's early days, but after a shaky start (no sound and corrupt video), I've got 14.04 running nicely on the DELL Dimension 8400. That's a ten year-old machine!

The fact is, I haven't been this psyched about an operating system since Karmic.

More to follow...

Sources & References:

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Quick Tip - Identify Sites That Share Your GMAIL Address

A fascinating article on MaximumPC gave me a heads up on a little trick to keep my gmail address private (or, at least, find out who's sharing it without my permission).

When signing up for online accounts, append your normal gamil account with a unique identifier, thus: Where xxx is a unique string of arbitrary length that identifies a particular supplier or website.

For instance, if your email address is and you want to sign up for komphix newsletters, you could append your email address to be


The whole article is worthy of your time if you want to make the most of your gmail account.

Sources & References:

Monday, 28 April 2014

14.04 Wallpaper of the Month

New OS, new wallpaper!

I love everything about Canonical's new OS: I've even chosen one of the embedded wallpapers as my desktop background rather than using one of my own pics.

Utterly beautiful

Sources & Resources:

  • None

14.04 LTS - ttf-mscorefonts-installer Package (Again!)

If you get an information update message about mscorefonts after upgrading to 14.04 LTS, the fix seems to be to reinstall the ttf-mscorefonts-installer:

In a terminal:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Sources & References:

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Chromium Flash Player in 14.04 LTS

If, like me, you're not a big fan of Firefox, you may prefer an alternative browser - I like Chromium, but in 14.04 flash player is not enabled by default. In 14.04 the fix is fairly straight forward, in a terminal, copy & paste:

sudo apt-get install pepperflashplugin-nonfree

Followed by:

sudo update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --install

If restarting your browser doesn't enable flash video, rebooting my PC worked for me.

Sources & References:

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on DELL Inspiron 6400 - restoring your network

Now that Microsoft has (finally) pulled the plug, I've helped a couple of people to migrate from XP to Ubuntu. In my most recent project, I thought I'd give the new release of 14.04 a try, just to see if The Register's Scott Gilbertson is right about needing a new PC to run Canonical's latest incarnation of the Ubuntu OS. He's not!

I loaded 14.04 onto a DELL Dimension 5150 that was shipped with XP. This model was released in 2006, so let's be generous and say that this machine is at least five years old. The installation was flawless with all of the hardware properly supported and functioning as expected - boot time is around 70 seconds and the old desktop is responsive and agile with a state-of-the-art operating system! So impressed was I with the look and feel of the new LTS, I thought I'd load it onto the Inspiron 6400.

Unfortunately, this was not so easy!

Running the live DVD was painless enough although I didn't have WiFi (no surprise there!) but, when I installed the system to the hard drive, I had no networking of any kind - that's kind of a deal breaker! After a couple of hours tinkering with the setup, it seemed that the bundled WiFi driver was killing my wired connection on boot, so I removed the driver with:

sudo apt-get remove --purge bcmwl-kernel-source

Rebooting gave me a brief error message that I had no WiFi drivers installed (as expected - I'd just purged them!) but eth0 popped up as if it had never been away! So, now the usual installation of the b43 driver:

sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer

A reboot saw my WiFi indicator light up and a wireless connection to my router! I expect the problem to return whenever the kernel is updated, but it should be fairly easy to fix from now on.

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