Sunday, February 28, 2010

Useful Google Chrome extensions

Now that Google Chrome is available for Linux, there is an enormous misconception about Chrome extensions (or rather the lack of it). I will list here some of the very useful extensions, which are exceptional and perhaps indispensable when it comes to a proper Chrome experience.

1. Ad Block - "AdBlock for Chrome! Blocks ads all over the web." And very rightly so. It even blocks facebook ads! Personally, this is my favourite extension.

2. RSS Subscription Extension (by Google) - Adds one-click subscription to your toolbar. Does exactly that. Brilliant extension, cant live without this.

3. Shareaholic for Google Chrome - This is the same old famous shareaholic that we all fell in love with back in the Firefox days. Except, shareaholic for Chrome is only better! It has all the standard options, plus it also has a 'live' URL shortener. So basically, you dont have to visit everytime you need a shorter URL. Saves time. Efficient. Superb extension.

4. SmoothScroll - Scrolls the websites smoothly when scrolling with the mouse wheel or the keyboard. This will change your experience of browsing the web. If you havent used SmoothScroll earlier, try it out. Its beautiful.

5. Stop Autoplay for YouTube - Autoplay can sometimes get very annoying. This extension stops autoplay on YouTube and lets the video buffer before you press the play button. Great extension.

(If you havent installed Google Chrome for Linux, this is an earlier post explaining in very simple words the entire process of installation: How to Install Google Chrome)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Edit your AWN theme to get the perfect dock

I admit, people have varied tastes and choices. But I guess this is a setting which most users will like.

I had recently come across this thread on Ubuntuforums, and it featured a really beautiful dock designed by Tipped OuT. The thing which I loved about the dock was it had the perfect colour combination. It was grey-ish without being too grey or white-ish without being too white. Hence, even if you have a completely white/very bright coloured wallpaper, the dock will still stay, lets say 'in focus'.

But the problem with the dock is that it has sharp edges to it, which I'm not really a fan of. I like the classy rounded edges to a dock. Take a look at how the theme looks on my desktop.

And this is how the default AWN theme looks (with the 3D effect):

If you look closely, you'll find that the second image has a better polish to the dock, but the colour isnt exactly what I'd call breathtaking.

Since I cant force the developer into producing a theme of my choice, what I did was replicate the exact colours and effects to resemble this new dock theme which is near-perfect, the default AWN theme.

(Of course you'll need AWN installed. If you dont have it installed, you should click here for a guided installation procedure for AWN)

I have for your benefit, made an AWN theme package (with a few tweaks of course) which resembles this dock but has rounded edges.

The modified AWN theme can be downloaded from here :


After downloading the file, open the AWN Manager and install the theme (click on Add and simply locate the file you have just downloaded and Apply the theme):

After applying the theme, it should look like this:

Do let me know how you like it.


(Wallpaper used is from

djl Game Manager

I found this awesome piece of software yesterday. It basically is an installation wizard/manager for all popular Linux games, and has a great interface. It has single click installation and removal options, hence even a complete novice can use it with ease.

"Djl makes it possible (via a repository) to download, install and remove a reasonable number of games placed into a distrobution independent subdirectory (but without dealing with any dependencies). It can also execute .desktop shortcuts located in another directory (this way, it's possible to launch games which were installed before djl)." [Description given on their website]

To download this manager, visit this site: and download it from the links given on that page.

Say goodbye to compiling and building games packages.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Ubuntu Pocket Guide And Reference

Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference is a book written by Keir Thomas. Its available for free download on this page:
(Alternatively you can also buy the book from

Its written in a very lucid way, clarifies everything a beginner needs to know about Unix, GNU and Ubuntu, and there's absolutely no technical jargon which is beyond the grasp of a beginner. And best of all, its a fun read! Although it is primarily aimed at beginners, I would highly recommend it to everyone using Ubuntu. There's something for everyone in this book. And the best part is the author has (and let me put it this way, out of pure goodwill) decided to release the book as a free downloadable one.

The size of the download is around 2MB, so it really wont take long to download. I am currently going through the book and I love it! Hence I would highly recommend it to everyone using Ubuntu (or any other version of Linux for that matter), beginner or not.


Thursday, February 18, 2010


I have been using quite a few sites for my daily dose of new wallpapers. If you have been following my blog and trust my judgement, take it from me, the following sites offer the very best wallpapers there are on the web. Of course, all of these sites offer their wallpaper downloads for free.

1. Socwall: Easily the best site for wallpapers and hi def photography enthusiasts. This site has some of the most breathtaking photos I have ever seen and wallpapers are constantly added to its database throughout the day. You can check out the website any way you want, but I would suggest going through the Most Viewed and Highest Rated sections.

2. HD HD Wallpapers has some great stuff, with their database classified into categories making it easy for you to select and download the wallpaper/s of your choice. The downside is that every wallpaper you download comes in .zip format, so basically you need to unzip/decompress the file before using it. That can be a bit irritating sometimes, but judging by the quality of photos on offer, I think its pretty much worth the pain.

3. If you are in the lookout for Ubuntu wallpapers/wallpapers with the Ubuntu logo, this is your destination to some of the most beautiful Ubuntu wallpapers.

These three sites should supply you with enough wallpapers to last a lifetime. Honest!


Ubuntu single sign on service

Canonical has introduced Ubuntu single sign on service "to provide a single, central login service for all Ubuntu-related sites" (Canonical Blog). In other words you dont have to repeatedly sign in/enter your username password for Ubuntu related sites like Launchpad, Shipit, Ubuntu One, etc.

This is really good news for us users, because well, it makes life easy. Also "Ubuntu single sign on is built on OpenID so, once all the sites we know about have moved over, we will also be opening up the OpenID service to enable you to log in to any site which accepts standard OpenIDs." So thats again very good news.

As stated, it works perfectly with Ubuntu One, Launchpad and Shipit. However this password didnt work for me with Ubuntu Brainstorm. I hope they will add support for this as well in future.

This new service although based on open source technologies (python, django, apache and postgres, etc.) is closed source, which is perfectly fine for me. I wouldnt security stuff to be made open source when the privacy of a large number of users is associated with it.

To login to Ubuntu single sign on service click on this link or copy and paste this to your browser:

The entire blog post is available here: Canonical Blog


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Songbird keyboard tweaks

If you're using Ubuntu, you'll know that the default music player of Ubuntu is Rhythmbox. Now thats quite a good media player, but I like the good looks and 'do more' things of Songbird, so I use it.

Now you might have noticed, when you press the Media key on your keyboard (I'm talking about a multimedia keyboard here of course), Rhythmbox opens up. If you're a Songbird fan (like me), you can change that setting, so that everytime you press the media key on your keyboard its Songbird which starts.

The solution is pretty simple really.

Go to GNOME Menu > System > Preference > Preferred Applications

Then select the Multimedia tab. The preferred media player would obviously be selected as Rhythmbox, you'll probably see something like this:

So what you should do right now, is select 'Custom' from the dropdown menu and then type 'songbird' as the command. It should look this:

You need not check the 'Run in terminal' option.

Now close the window and press the Media key on your keyboard. Voila! Its Songbird in front of you.

However I couldnt get the Play, Pause, Next, Forward keys to work though. So thats a bit of a let down.

Finally, if you would like to revert back to Rhythmbox, you can do that by selecting your preferred Multimedia application as Rhythmbox. Easy peasy.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Avant Windows Navigator (installation and themes)

I presume most of you already use it, if not its pretty easy to install. Avant Windows Navigator (AWN) is a dock application (similar to the Mac dock) which happens to be the stablest dock I have tried. (The other popular docks include Cairo-Dock and GNOME Do, these are available from the Ubuntu Software Center)

Go to GNOME Menu > Ubuntu Software Center, there search for AWN, install it. To start using it go to GNOME Menu > Accessories > Avant Windows Navigator.

Now theme-ing the AWN is as important as getting it installed. Here are some themes (official AWN themes): AWN Themes

Download the ones you like. It will be in .tgz format. Now to install the theme, open the AWN Manager (it should be located on the dock itself) and then click on the 'Themes' tab. Click on the 'Add' icon and then locate that .tgz file you downloaded. It will be installed. Now to apply the theme and click 'Apply'. The following screenshot should explain things:

Thats it!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Songbird - multiple album entries

Songbird with the following add-ons: MediaFlow...
Image via Wikipedia
This is something which I noticed the other day. When Songbird detects a new album which has songs from various different artists, it adds a new album entry for each and every song. This can be very annoying because you might end with hundreds of apparent albums when you have only a few.

The solution is very simple. Any album metadata (or ID3 tags) has an 'Artist' entry as well as an 'Album Artist' entry. Mediaflow characterises new entries on the basis of 'Album Artist', so if you have an album which has songs from various artists, i.e. has different 'Artist' entries, edit the metadata and make sure you have the same 'Album Artist' entry for the entire album. That way each album will have 1 entry regardless of the number of singers/artists for that album. I generally use 'Various artists' as my preferred entry. You can of course use your own.

This is a very minor issue but it can bother users. Hope this helped.


Monday, February 8, 2010

YouTube Auto Buffer for Google Chrome

YouTube Auto Buffer & Auto HD & Remove Ads (originally developed by JoeSimmons) is if course a very popular greasemonkey script for firefox. It does exactly what the name suggests, autobuffers youtube videos, removes ads and helps you select the default resolution for all. The problem which was there earlier was the fact that this script was unavailable for google chrome.

However I learnt today that a really awesome developer sizzlemctwizzle has come up with the perfect solution. There's no need to install greasemonkey if you are on google chrome. Just install the script. The script is on this page but for your benefit here's the direct download link. Just click on this link and it will be installed.

Of course if you are using firefox, first install greasemonkey from here and then install the script from the userscripts page.


UPDATE: There is now an official extension for Google Chrome in its Extensions page which autobuffers YouTube videos (unrelated to the Greasemonkey script mentioned above). Its called Stop Autoplay for YouTube. Although this doesnt select HD as the default resolution, I think this extension will come in pretty handy for those who have a slow internet connection.

Link: Google Chrome Extensions Page


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gnome Globalmenu

Global Menu is the globally-shared menu bar of all applications launched in your desktop session.

In other words, it works more like the menu bars you see on a Mac. Its very useful and works brilliantly. Although support for many apps are missing, its in constant development and improvements are likely to be seen very soon. The installation guide for the app is quite exhaustive and doesnt need any explanation, so I'll direct you to the guide:

Okay, so after you have installed it, you need to add this applet to the panel. Right click on the GNOME panel, select Add to Panel and then select Global Menu panel Applet from the list. Thats all. Try it out. And of course if you dont like it, you can remove it the usual way by typing sudo apt-get remove gnome-globalmenu


Monday, February 1, 2010

Ubuntu + Yahoo...what next?

Canonical, the company which runs Ubuntu has entered into a revenue sharing deal with Yahoo! As per terms of the deal, the default search engine for Firefox in Ubuntu 10.04/Lucid Lynx will be Yahoo! (Official confirmation of this deal can be found here by Rick Spencer, Ubuntu Desktop Team manager at Canonical.

I will repeat here what I have already expressed on Ubuntu forums.

I had been a Windows user for many years. My first introduction to computers was with Windows. However I switched OSes just to be part of the ‘community driven’ open source projects. I switched mainly because with Ubuntu I knew my thoughts, my opinions would be given its due importance. Whenever a new release of Ubuntu comes out, I feel good, coz I know that I have contributed (even though to a tiny tiny tiny extent to the development of the OS).

Without a doubt, Ubuntu wouldnt be what it is today without the support of Canonical. In the same way without the support of the community/developers (most of whom I believe are not Canonical employees) I dont think Ubuntu could have been this popular/awesome an OS.

I think all of us agree on the fact that Google is the best (okay if not the best, undoubtedly the most popular) search engine out there. And now, canonical, knowingly is asking us to use Yahoo! as the default search engine. I know that I can change the option with just 2 clicks but frankly speaking Canonical expects us to use Yahoo! (that is exactly the reason why they have entered into the deal) knowing that they are asking or lets say expecting users to use an inferior (or a less popular) search engine by default (after all, they wont be able to earn any money if a user didnt use yahoo). Frankly, I am a bit uncomfy with that. Just to make my point clear, I am not at all worried with the 2 clicks change. (it takes many many more clicks for me to even get Ubuntu working, for me that is, when i install it afresh. codecs, other softwares I prefer etc etc.) what i am worried about is the fact that now, Ubuntu ‘expects’ us to use a particular search engine for Firefox. In other words, Ubuntu, lets say Canonical, (coz clearly it seems as though Ubuntu NOW is more of a product of all the hard work of canonical than of the community) is expecting us to use the OS in a certain way. Forgive me if u think this is silly, but isnt this asking users to use the OS in a particular way the domain of Microsoft and Apple?

About consulting the community, I think (or so I thought, seems that i was mistaken) Ubuntu is a community driven OS backed by a company called Canonical. Now we definitely dont have the right to interfere with the functioning of the company, (eg. we dont have any say if Mark Shuttleworth steps down as the CEO of Canonical and appoints someone else, which he did or if Canonical ties up with some other company for better distribution of Ubuntu) but we, as users of an open-source operating system, do have a right to discuss and debate about the development of Ubuntu.

I thoroughly and absolutely appreciate what Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical have done for Ubuntu. As i always say, Ubuntu would never have been what it is today without their help. But certainly that doesnt mean, that Canonical can enter into a deal with another corporate giant relating to the functioning of the OS (the browser in this case) without consulting or at least having the courtesy to inform the community (which has so strongly supported it so far in all its endeavours) beforehand. I feel hurt that way.

Going mainstream doesnt mean giving up on values but retaining them and striving to maintain them. i am willing to put up a Pepsi/Coca Cola wallpaper on my desktop if that brings canonical money, since apparently Canonical is SO desperate for financial support.

I hope and I pray, Ubuntu doesnt lose its values, and the support of its community, something which made it stand out in the first place.

Sorry, if you think I got a bit emotional with all of this, but Ubuntu is something I feel strongly about.

UPDATE : Ubuntu 10.04 will have Google as its default search engine. This has been confirmed by Rick Spencer (Official confirmation)



By now many of us are familiar with HTML 5. If not, check out the wikipedia page here.

So I happened to bump into a page which actually has HTML 5 demos. The site's called

This is cutting edge stuff, take a look.