Firefox 3.5 for Ubuntu Jaunty

Posted in Computers, Howto, Linux, Ubuntu on July 9th, 2009 by Andy
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The new version of Firefox is out now and will be included in Karmic when it’s released in October. If you’re running Jaunty and you can’t wait that long you can get a stable release of it now.

This PPA is a stable release, so you won’t be getting the unstable daily builds that you’d get from the Mozilla Daily PPA.

Step1

Go to Applications > Accessories > Terminal and paste in:

sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys 7EBC211F

This adds the key for the PPA.

Step2

Go to System > Admin > Synaptic Package Manager > Settings > Repositories > 3rd Party and paste in:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mozilla-security/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main

If you’re not using Jaunty just substitute your version.

Step3

Let Synaptic reload then install the package firefox-3.5-gnome-support. That’s your new browser and associated packages.

Step4

Go to System > Prefs > Preferred Applications and change the browser from firefox %s to firefox-3.5 %s. That’ll ensure that anything that wants to open a browser window will go to the new version.

Benefits of the new version include greatly improved speed and support for new web features like playing embedded videos without needing plugins. Downsides at the moment are that some of your extensions may not have been updated for 3.5 yet.

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Ubuntu One: File storage goes a bit cloudy

Posted in Computers, Ubuntu on May 15th, 2009 by Andy
Besides integrating seamlessly into your Jaunty desktop, Ubuntu One has a web interface.

Besides integrating seamlessly into your Jaunty desktop, Ubuntu One also has a web interface. Note the applet on the top panel.

Cloud computing is a trendy concept right now. And why not? The amount of bandwidth we have these days means you can squeeze a lot of computer power through an internet connection.

Ubuntu has just unleashed their new cloud-based Ubuntu One service into public beta. The service is similar to Dropbox, and is free for the basic version.

In a nutshell you get 2GB of storage, which you can access through some nicely seamless integration with Nautilus, so the data you put there can be used by any of your apps. When you’re away from an Ubuntu One-equipped desktop there’s a web interface. I’ve found it really handy for documents I want to access from my Windows machines at work, as it saves the hassle of converting everything into Google Docs.

You can pay for more storage at US$10/month, but at the moment this only gets you 10GB, which ain’t a lot.

Overall, it’s an interesting development from a few angles:

  1. This is only the beta. How far will Ubuntu integrate this into the desktop? Will we see mail and or calendars linked up to this? Browser bookmarks? Gconf?
  2. Canonical (the cash behind Ubuntu) are clearly looking at cloud services as a way to monetise their freebie desktop OS. That doesn’t bother me at all, but i’d imagine some open source freetards will be unhappy.
  3. The Ubuntu One client (though not the backend) is open source and all pythony, so there’s not a lot stopping people from plugging their Debian or Fedora/Redhat desktop into this service. Or their Mac or Windows one, for that matter.

Overall, it’s an interesting service. It’ll have to add features to compete with Dropbox, which currently gives you more storage for the same price. Watch this space though.

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Amarok 2 is a mess

Posted in Computers, Ubuntu on April 29th, 2009 by Andy
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The bones of an extinct Amarok

I’ve been a massive Amarok fan for ages, even though I use Gnome. So imagine my disappointment when I upgraded to the new release (Amarok 2) and discovered my favorite music player is now a complete turkey.

What previously was an easy-to-use, full featured music player  is now a clunky conglomeration of broken junk. That’s a massive shame, as previous incarnations knocked the socks off anything available on any OS. And don’t get me wrong, I tried to get used to the new look. But after finding myself still struggling against the interface after several weeks i’ve decided enough is enough, and Amarok has been ditched.

It’s not just me either. It looks like lot of folks hate the new Amarok. Some of this is bound to be garden variety resistance to change, but from the comments a lot of people (like me) genuinely wanted to like Amarok 2, but just don’t.

C’est la vie. Amarok is gone and Banshee
has replaced it. So far i’m pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly. Banshee seems to be doing everything Amarok did, but faster and in some cases slightly easier. Which just goes to show that a nasty surprise can sometimes be a good thing.

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Twitter through Pidgin

Posted in Computers on April 11th, 2009 by Andy
The Twitgin, clearly a product of mad science.

The Twitgin, clearly a product of mad science.

I love Ubuntu Jaunty’s sexy new notification system. It’s elegant and unobtrusive. So much so that I have decided to let the distracting nonsense de jour, Twitter, loose on my desktop in the hope that the notification system keeps the information flow down to sensible levels. I really don’t want to run a whole separate app just for trialling Twitter, so it’d be nice to integrate it into Pidgin, since that’s exactly the kind of thing Pidgin is for.

Trouble is, Twitter have decreed: “Thou shalt not Twitter through IM!”

Wrong!

All you need is the microblog-purple plugin, and you’re laughing. The devs even have a nice PPA for Ubuntu users. Add that bad boy to your Software Sources and you’ll be kept up with the latest version.  There’s also Mac and Windows versions available on the project’s main page, but obviously those have to be updated manually. Sucks to be on Windows or Mac, huh?

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The Jaunty Jackelope is coming!

Posted in Computers, Linux, Ubuntu on April 9th, 2009 by Andy

Ubuntu 9.04, codenamed Jaunty Jackelope is due for release on April 23rd. Get it while it’s hot!

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Jaunty boots 35% faster than Intrepid!

Posted in Computers, Linux, Ubuntu, Windows on March 18th, 2009 by Andy

Anyone that’s been using Ubuntu for the last couple of years can’t help but feel like it’s gotten a bit sluggish in recent versions. That’s probably natural, after all, over time you have to expect the hardware requirements of your software to steadily climb. But with the next version of Ubuntu (9.04 Jaunty Jackelope, which hits beta on 29 Mar) the devs have stated they want to put some lightning in the tank, and try to reverse the effects of creeping bloat.

Overall time (s) to each stage:

System Grub > Login Login > Desktop Desktop > Usable
XP SP3 17.33 43.08 61.38
Intrepid 47.47 65.60 99.03
Jaunty 35.89 55.77 64.85

XP is still king of boot times, but Jaunty is within a whisker of toppling it

XP is still king of boot times, but Jaunty is within a whisker of toppling it!

So have they succeeded? Hell yes! I timed to boot sequence of Jaunty compared to the current release, Intrepid. Just to make things tougher on Jaunty, I also included the copy of Windows XP I have on the same machine. XP is a pretty old system now, and boots ferociously quick on new hardware.

The system:

  • Intel E8400 Core 2 Duo CPU at 3GHz
  • Intel DG33FB Mobo
  • 2GB Generic RAM
  • Seagate Barracuda SATA hard drive

Jaunty root partition is EXT4, and Jaunty and Intrepid share a common EXT3 /home partition. XP is on NTFS.

I timed from hitting the right entry in Grub until the login screen showed, then from login to the desktop appearing, then to Firefox launched and ready to use. None of these are a fresh install. XP has to load all the usual antivirus, etc. The Ubuntu systems have a load of panel applets like CheckGmail,  as well as the AWN dockbar,  etc to launch. I could shave the times down  easily, but as they are these represent a usable everyday system.

Conclusion

Jaunty is fast! Fast enough to give an old system like XP a real scare. I’d have liked to test it against Vista or Win 7 to see what the margin is against more modern Microsoft OSes, but I don’t have either installed on this machine.

You can see from the graph why it’s important to keep timing all the way to a usable desktop. Windows is designed to throw up the login window fast, then show you a desktop while it finishes booting. You can’t actually do anything with that desktop, but it creates the impression of speed, which is nice little trick from Microsoft but can lead to misleading timings if you stop the clock when the desktop appears.

Overall, the speed improvements seen in Jaunty Alpha 6 are a 35% improvement over Intrepid. Some of this will be down to it’s new fast EXT4 filesystem, and you’ve got to wonder how much boot times would improve if /home was also EXT4, or if they were on a SSD instead of an old-fashioned magnetic drive like the Seagate Barracuda.

Oh, and shutdown times? Intrepid = 22s, XP = 11s, Jaunty = 11s. Nuff said!

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