Enhancing Ubuntu’s network experience

NetworkManager LogoUbuntu is ready for network operations just after install. But what about easy configuration when you are on the go, like being able to select your wireless network, handling its security or viewing in real time its quality?
Even though Ubuntu do not provide this facility with the default installation, it is at a distance of a few clicks before you can get all those enhancements. A user simply needs to install NetworkManager, a small/neat applet for Gnome.

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Drivel, a Blog Editor

I am discovering Drivel, a small but neat application that allow me to edit my Blog off-line. Actually, this article is being written with Drivel.
Drivel is compatible with MovableType, Typepad, LiveJournal and Blogger. So as I am using WordPress, it is using the MovableType compatible XML-RPC. However, it is a bit disappointing because not all possibilities provided by WordPress are offered by Drivel. Besides writing rich text within Drivel, the only other option is to assign a single category to an article. This is yet a bit limiting, especially when compared to what drivel can offer when connecting to a LiveJournal Blog.
In addition and even though there is a way to split the article in two, in the “read more” manner (accessible via the menu Format->Insert link…), it is not compatible with WordPress and the article is displayed as one single block. Another concern is that once you have updated an article with Drivel, and if you want to re-modify it, Drivel has still in memory the original version of the article.
Still, Drivel is a neat application to have when you’re working off-line, but has room for improvement to better support existing possibilities in other Blog system than LiveJournal.

Update: The new version of Drivel (2.0.3) shipped with Ubuntu 6.10 does not bring visible changes when using WordPress apart that now after updating an article, Drivel will re-download the list of recent entries. Thus correcting the annoying bug that Drivel would still show the content of the original article before it was modified. The Drivel 2.0.3 complete change log is accessible on SourceForge. However, Drivel is still not capable to retrieve the currently assigned category of an existing post.

One can find another interesting review of Drivel on Linux.com.

Inkscape: The Free Vector Graphics Editor

Inkscape LogoInkscape is an Open Source software dedicated to Vector Graphics edition. It is using the standard SVG natively to store the creations. A couple of days ago, a new version of Inkscape was release, the version 0.44. Do not mistake the “0.xx”, this software is already usable and stable.

This article will try to explain what are Vector Graphics and what Inksape can do for you. In addition, we will summarise the new enhancement of Inkscape latest version and finally see how to install it on your Ubuntu distribution.

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Neat Computer Temperature Applet (Gnome)

Computer Temperature Monitor (Gnome Applet)I have found a little tiny utility that simply and neatly displays the CPU and hard disk temperatures: the Computer Temperature Monitor (ex-Laptop Temperature Monitor)

This is a Gnome Panel applet written in Python. There are packages for various Ubuntu releases and other Linux distribution.

Tips & hints

After installing the package, it worked out of the box for the CPU temperature. Regarding the hard disk temperature, one has to install the package ‘hddtemp’ (it is in the Ubuntu Universe repository).

Trying to reduce the hard disk noise – no luck yet

This is a current problem for Dapper, Breezy and Hoary whatever desktop you are using (KDE, GNOME or XFCE).

On some hardware – like my Dell Latitude D600 – you get constant disk access and noise. This does not allow your disk to spin down to save energy (especially annoying when running on battery). This problem is reported in this forum: Frequent HDD activity

So far I have manage to activate the laptop mode, but it does not seem to solve the problem for me. Anyway, if you want to activate laptop mode this is not straight forward, and this is why I am writing today.

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Administrator privilege phylosophy (sudo vs. root)

If you are a Windows 9x or Me user, I guess you are wondering what this article is all about. If you moved to Windows XP, you start guessing what it might be. But I guess when you had the opportunity during the Windows user creation to select “Limited Account” or “Administrative Account”, you have selected the latest. Not only the name “Limited Account” sounds pejorative, but you will not able to use a lot of your application then because of insufficient privilege (it is getting better, and if you have the luck to have the latest version of all your software, it might work), so you are using your Windows with administrative privilege.

This is not only a bad idea because if during your normal desktop use, you or one of your program fiddles with an important file, you might get your system to an unstable state. It can become tremendously bad when you get infected, as your whole system is then compromised (no need to find a privilege escalation security breach somewhere)

The Linux/UNIX users are surely all laughing at this. Because, they all know that you should have a root account for any administrative tasks, and a user account (see it is not a limited account in this philosophy) for all desktop use. However, there are two doctrines: the root or sudo doctrines.

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Sharing files and folders with the Windows world

Today, I wanted to retrieve an ISO image from my Windows desktop and burn it on my Linux laptop. I thought this would be pretty much straight forward. But computers like to make you sweat and work hard for simple tasks… :-( I wish I had a Mac!

Anyway, Windows was bugging me and not properly sharing my folder (not all the files and folders in a share were visible from the networks!). So I decided to share a directory under my Linux laptop. Then, from Windows, I was going to copy the file to Linux.

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Moved to Ubuntu Dapper Flight 5

I was stupidly playing with hdparm features, and after experimenting a few non recommended parameters, I nearly destroyed my / partition (the system one). So my Kubuntu was unusable on my laptop.

Seeing the few problems (bugs) I have encountered using Kubuntu, I decided to switch to Ubuntu and install the KDE desktop (not yet done, I am still under Gnome). I will have more or less the same as Kubuntu. However, the administration tools will be the one from Ubuntu, which, in my opinion, are a bit better and especially more stable.

Speaking of stability, I decided to move right away to Ubuntu Dapper Flight 5, so still a release which is under development. So, I do not expect it to be pretty stable. But I am planning to play around a bit with my laptop, so this release was suiting my idea then.

Nevertheless, as Kubuntu and Ubuntu are pretty similar, I will keep to the category Kubuntu for both distributions.

Kubuntu network configuration annoyances

If you have a screen like 1024×768 or smaller, if your network interface, whereas properly configured, does not get enable (when you select enable interface, it goes to enable and go back to disable shortly after), then you might be interested by this article.

In addition, this article will explain how to update your Kubuntu/Ubuntu installation, even though it is not possible to have the network up and running when using the Network Settings window.
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