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If you want to try the GnomeBaker disc writer as an alternative to Brasero, or already had it only to find it uninstalled when you upgraded Ubuntu to 12.10, there is no version for Quantal Quetzal, but you can nonetheless get it to install. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just getting Synaptic Package Manager or Ubuntu Software Center to install it, as it won’t be found in the official repositories.

GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer

First, you need to add the PPA, which you can do by running the following command in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnomebaker/stable

Now you need to edit that source list:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/gnomebaker.list

… and replace both instances of quantal with oneiric, then save/exit the file.

Next, run the following to update your software sources:

sudo apt-get update

… and then install GnomeBaker:

sudo apt-get install gnomebaker

You’ll now have GnomeBaker back on your system, or have a great alternative to Brasero if you’ve never used it before!

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Besides moving to the Unity interface, one of Ubuntu‘s other big moves in 11.04 Natty Narwhal will be the replacement of the default music player, Rhythmbox, with another popular media player, Banshee. This is actually because the Rhythmbox development team has announced that while they might push out one more version, it’s the end of the road for this popular music player (PLEASE NOTE: This situation only lasted a couple of Ubuntu versions, and Rhythmbox is again being developed, and is once again the default music player).

We’ll have a general look around the new default player, as well as cover everything you’ll need to know if migrating from Rhythmbox.

Those upgrading won’t have to worry about Rhythmbox being uninstalled, and any installing a new system can always install Rhythmbox as well, and even uninstall Banshee if so desired. But Banshee is a worthy successor, and is very much like Rhythmbox anyway, just with more bells and whistles. Not just that, if you’re planning on trying it out on your current system, it can import all your Rhythmbox playlists to make the transition less painful.

At first glance, Banshee is almost identical to Rhythmbox, except that it displays album covers in the browser. But besides having all of the features of Rhythmbox and some of its plugins, Banshee is a full media player, able to play video as well as all sorts of audio.

Setting it up is easy, as it will automatically scan your ~/Music folder’s contents (you can of course change it to wherever you store your music via Banshee‘s preferences; whenever you want to force a scan, go to Tools > Rescan Music Library).

Importing Rhythmbox Playlists

You can then import your Rhythmbox playlists via Media > Import Media… (if you also have Rhythmbox installed); the Import Playlist… option you’ll also see is for importing individual playlists you may have saved, which would be the case if you’re migrating settings into a fresh install.

When you import your Rhythmbox playlists, you might find the tracks listed in alphabetical order (by band), instead of the order you previously had.

Just click above the track names (on “Name“) and it will cycle through different methods of arrangement, including the original setup you had saved in Rhythmbox. Actually, you can do it with “Artist” and “Album” as well, with it arranging tracks alphanumerically by artist or album, then the reverse order, followed by the original custom layout.

Importing Your Rhythmbox Covers

Your Rhythmbox covers may be something else you wish to import. For many, it won’t matter at all, as the covers Banshee fetches are quite adequate. But if you find some of your old covers are better, or you went to some effort to find better covers than Rhythmbox offered (or couldn’t find at all), and don’t want to waste those, you will find all your covers in /home/yourusername/.cache/rhythmbox/covers. (Note that the period (.) before “cache” denotes it is a hidden folder, so you will need to enable viewing of hidden files and folders if you haven’t already done so).

Simply locate the desired cover – which is easy, since they are named in alphanumerical order by band, followed by album title – and drag it on the cover you see in the bottom-left while a song is playing. If you don’t see a cover, you’ll just have to go to View > Show Cover Art to enable it (currently the default is to have it off, but I imagine that will soon change).

You’ll probably want to know where your covers will be from now on, so the location is nearby at /home/yourusername/.cache/media-art. Note that your covers will no longer be listed in the logical order you’re used to.

While there currently doesn’t seem to be a way to import Rhythmbox‘s album art easily, you might find many are better than what Rhythmbox found anyway, so you’ll probably only need to replace a few covers, notably those Banshee can’t find either. Also, if your music folders contain cover art with names like cover.jpg, then Banshee will probably use those instead of looking for them.

When Banshee can’t find a cover for you, or you just want a better one than the one that’s offered, simply search online, save the picture, then drag it onto the cover in Banshee‘s bottom-left, and it will save a copy in its art folder.

Where’s the Shuffle Button?

Banshee might at first glance seem devoid of a shuffle button for mixing up the order of tracks played, but it actually has a much better one than what you’re used to in Rhythmbox. In fact, you can look at it more as a shuffle menu, as you can not only enable it, but chose the method of shuffling.

All you need to do is click the little down-arrow at the end of the Next button, and a menu will drop down. From there, pick anything other than Shuffle Off.

You will notice the Next button is now a Shuffle button (actually, it’s a Next button that shuffles), and you can choose to shuffle by song, artist, album, rating and score via the menu.

And Where’s… ???

As you can see with the seemingly hidden shuffle button, all you need to do is look around a bit, and you’ll soon find your way around. If you’re migrating from Rhythmbox, some things might be named different, and found in different menus than you’re used to, but you’ll get there. Banshee will probably surprise you with a few cool features, and you should find you can do everything you did in Rhythmbox. If there’s still something missing in comparison, then it was probably a Rhythmbox extension that gave it to you, and you’ll probably be able to find the same as an add-on for Banshee.

Installing Plugins

To install additional features, you can just search for “banshee” in Synaptic. You’ll be presented with a bunch of extensions, including support for visualisations (banshee-extension-openvp), an alarm with variable volumes (banshee-extension-alarm), a radio stream recorder (banshee-extension-streamrecorder), support for displaying lyrics (banshee-extension-lyrics), and much more. There is even a plugin that changes your desktop wallpaper to the album art of the currently playing track (banshee-extension-coverwallpaper).

The Context Pane

One cool feature of Banshee is the Context Pane, which basically adds a section at the bottom that lets you view other data, like lyrics, YouTube videos, and even the Wikipedia page! You can be forgiven for thinking it is overkill, but it actually comes in handy, though you might not want it visible the whole time.

Obviously it will show you lyrics (if it finds them, though it looks to more sources than Rhythmbox, which is a pleasant surprise), but the Wikipedia option is actually quite neat, as it will automatically look up the band currently playing.

The initial viewing area isn’t that huge, and can’t be customised by dragging any borders (more on that in a second), but most of the time, this will do fine for a quick bit of info.

The YouTube plugin is another that is a great feature, yet also appears limited in its appeal due to the size, however the pane can actually be expanded via a hidden button. In the seemingly blank area above the plugin icons/buttons on the right side of the context pane, if you hover your mouse cursor there, you will see a small button appear with the tooltip “Make the context pane larger or smaller“.

Use that toggle button to enlarge the context pane, and shrink it back again.

When you find a clip you want to play, click it to play it in the context pane, or click the down-arrow to the right of it and choose either to “Play in Banshee…” or “Play in Web Browser…“.

Now, there is one more way to expand your viewing area, which makes playing it in Banshee even more valid an option, and that is by selecting “Now Playing” in the top-left, instead of “Music” or one of your playlists. The context pane will then take up the bulk of Banshee.

And you can then go one better by clicking the Simplify button that will now be present above the context pane. This will hide the menu bar, as well as the left-hand pane. Click the button again to toggle back to the previous made.

(At the time of writing, playing YouTube clips inside Banshee doesn’t seem to work, so unfortunately I can’t illustrate what that would look like, but the size seems adequate, and for now at least the option to play the selected vid in a web browser works).

To hide the context pane, next to that little hidden toggle button you’ll find another that will “Hide context pane“. To show the Context Pane again, simply go to the View menu and click Context Pane.

You might not be impressed, especially if you just want a music player, but you have to admit it will catch on with those used to doing it all (ie: looking up info and YouTube vids while playing music) in the one place, namely their smart phone.

And don’t forget to keep an eye out for extensions for the context pane, as there are already a couple out there, and soon there should be a whole heap to choose from.

(Note: to enable or disable any plugins, go to Edit > Preferences, and in the Extensions tab scroll down to Context Pane and either tick or untick the desired add-on).

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As you can see, Banshee is quite a full-featured media player, and will be even more so as more extensions are developed. And if you’re making the move from Rhythmbox, the transition should be a lot easier than you imagined.

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As you probably know, when you open System > Preferences > Appearance, the only way to preview the themes you have installed is to click on them, thereby applying the selected theme. While that’s not such a big deal, it does take a few seconds to redraw everything on the screen, and on less powerful machines this can be quite a drag.

But there are a couple of small apps around that can show you a preview within a single window. They are tiny downloads and easily installed, so if you plan on playing around with themes a fair bit, you should give them a go.

GTK+ Change Theme

To install via Terminal: sudo apt-get install gtk-chtheme

How to Run: Applications > System Tools > Gtk-ChTheme

Official blurb: ‘Gtk Theme Switch’ based utility that aims to make themes previews and selections as slick as possible. Themes installed on the system are presented for selection and previewed on the fly.

As you can see, everything you need is in the one small window. Simply click on a theme name to see everything in that window change. When you find one you’d like to change to, click Apply.

GTK Theme Switch

To install via Terminal: sudo apt-get install gtk-theme-switch

How to Run: gtk-theme-switch2 in the terminal

Official blurb: Utilities to easily switch GTK+ themes that can be run from the console, and has an optional GUI dock and theme preview. It can install themes downloaded from gtk.themes.org as well straight from the tarball.

Just select a theme and click Preview to see a small sample of it open in its own window; you will need to close each preview manually, as it does not reuse the current window. When you find one you’d like to change to, click Apply.

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AnyMeal is a recipe database program for Linux that is a great way to store and edit your recipes, and because it is compatible with the Mealmaster program for Windows, you can find thousands of recipes online to import. To install it, simply enter the following into a terminal:

sudo apt-get install anymeal

You’ll also need to make sure the packages mysql-server and mysql-client are installed, as the database won’t work without them. If not, you can open Synaptic and enter mysql-server in the Quick search bar, and when you select if for installation, it will automatically mark all the other packages it needs. Or you can install everything at once with:

sudo apt-get install anymeal mysql-server

This should install all the needed MySQL stuff, as well as some packages AnyMeal will need, like the KDE Wallet Manager (since AnyMeal is in fact a KDE program, but runs absolutely fine in Gnome once it has installed a few KDE packages).

Once installed, open AnyMeal (Applications > Accessories > anymeal), click the Connect button, and enter your normal password to open the KDE Wallet Manager.

You will then be presented with the “Connect To Datasource” dialogue, and you will notice the default Server is “Embedded“, with User being your username.

You’ll need to change the Server toNetwork“, which will be listed as “localhost“, and set the User toroot“. However, this will only work once you’ve created a user called “root“. If you have never created a password for the root user, you will be doing so shortly, so make sure you write it down somewhere, as it is something you don’t want to forget!

Click the New button at the bottom of the dialogue box, then Next when you get to the “Welcome to AnyMeal” message. You’ll see pretty much what you saw before, so change the Server to “Network“, and the User to “root“. Then click the Connect button beneath, then Next. In the next screen, you will be asked for a name for the database, which you can just leave as “anymeal“. Click the Create/Connect button, followed by Next.

In the “Setup MySQL Datasource” box, you can leave the Client as “localhost“, but change User to “root“. You will then need to enter the password for root, and confirm it, then click Create/Use, then Next.

You will then be told “You can import some recipes already, if you want to” (if you do, click the Import Recipes button), so click Finish.

You are now ready to start adding to your recipe database, which you can do via Edit > New Recipe (or the “Edit new recipe” toolbar button). You can also use File > Import > Mealmaster (or the “Import recipes from Mealmaster-file” toolbar button) to import recipes stored in the .mmf format for the popular Mealmaster program. Just do a Google search for “Mealmaster recipe” and you’ll find thousands online to choose from.

As an example, here is the seafood page from one of the more popular recipe sites:

Open a desired recipe in a new tab, then click the small “Display Recipe for Import” link at the bottom so it opens as text-only without all the banners and links.

Save the page, but make sure the extension is .mmf, not .txt or .html; it is very likely most recipes you will come across will be either plain text (.txt) or a web page (.html) – since the browser knows how to display these – so just rename the suffix to .mmf (and don’t forget to give it a descriptive name).

You will occasionally come across web pages with multiple recipes in Mealmaster formatting one after the other, so you will need to copy and paste each recipe into its own .mmf text file. Similarly, if you find a site that has one recipe per page, but has no plain text version to view (ie: the page also has images and links), you will need to copy the text and paste it into new .mmf files for importing.

In AnyMeal‘s “Batch Import Mealmaster” box, click Add and browse for and select a recipe you downloaded. You’ll notice the file has been added to the import list (which can feature multiple files), but the OK button is disabled. Next to Input Encoding you will need to select “UTF-8“, then under Handling Of Erroneous Recipes select either “Abort on error” or “Ignore errors“, then click OK.

When you return to AnyMeal, it will probably look empty, but if you go to Edit > Search (or click the “Search recipe by title and category” toolbar button) and click OK (no need to type anything), your imported recipes will appear. You might need to do this again if the list of recipes is not refreshed after adding more.

To view a recipe, simply double-click it. If it is maximised, you can use the Search button to get back to the recipe list, unless you have a Back button at the top of your keyboard, which should work fine. Of course, you can also just use the Restore button (between Minimise and Close) to restore it to a smaller window, and you’ll be able to see your list behind it. Just make sure you don’t use the Restore button in AnyMeal‘s titlebar, but the one in the row of buttons beneath.

To delete a recipe from the database, right-click it and choose Delete. You’ll notice while you’re in the context menu that you can also Export your recipes in a number of formats, so you can even share your own recipes with Mealmaster users.

Also, you can choose to Edit a recipe, and you’ll see just how well AnyMeal did with converting that plain text file you imported into useful and editable information. You can add your own ingredients, change quantities and amount of servings, etc, as well as change the title. The latter is useful as many imported recipes will contain recipe numbers, or be in upper-case (which you can be forgiven for finding annoying!), and even contain typos, all of which can be edited. It’s also the place to change ingredient names to those you use in your own country, like if you’re an Aussie you’ll probably prefer to see “prawn” instead of “shrimp” (especially since we call tiny prawns “shrimps“), and “chick peas” instead of “garbanzo beans“. And let’s not forget converting American measurings (ie: pounds and ounces) to the modern metric system the rest of the world uses (ie: kilos and grams)!

For some info on the recipes stored, like the total amount of ingredients for all recipes in the database, go to Database > Database info.

This should be all the info you need to get you started, so have fun saving your recipes, and of course browsing through all those recipes you’ll be importing!

Extra Notes:

» Note that if you disconnect from the database and then reconnect, you will be asked for your password again to open KDE Wallet Manager, but since it is already open, you can actually ignore it and click Cancel.

» If the fact that the launcher is all in lower-case (ie: “anymeal“) bugs you, just right-click the Applications menu, choose Edit Menus, select the Accessories folder, then select anymeal and click the Properties button to the right of it, enter the new name (ie: “AnyMeal“), and click Close.

» For command-line options, check out the manpage (you can pick your version of Ubuntu under the top banner, though it really shouldn’t make any difference).

» You can resize AnyMeal so that your list of recipes is accessible on one side while viewing recipes on the other.


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K3b is a versatile CD/DVD burning utility that makes a great addition to anyone’s arsenal of multimedia apps. It has features many others lack, like the ability to successfully burn VIDEO_TS folders to playable movie DVDs, and even if you’re happy with your current burning app, it’s good to have just in case. But it is so feature-rich and easy to use that it could well become your disc burning app of choice.

K3b is actually made for KDE (Kubuntu’s desktop environment), but runs fine in Gnome. If you have KDE installed as a secondary desktop environment, then you’ll already have all the libraries and dependencies K3b will need; if you’re only running Gnome, when you install K3b any bits and pieces of KDE it needs will be installed along with it. It will probably look a bit different than your Gnome apps, because it will be themed by KDE, but should work absolutely fine.

K3b is user-friendly, yet has advanced options, and is even customisable. If you’re using another app and come across something it can’t do for you, you’ll probably find K3b has no such problem. And even if K3b can’t seem to do it, there is probably a way, if you just look around.

In this post you will find all tips related to K3b, so hopefully you can find answers for your burning needs, whether you currently use another program (like the default Brasero) or already use K3b.

If you don’t already have K3b, you can install it via Synaptic, or enter sudo apt-get install k3b into a terminal. Any dependencies will be installed automatically.

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Burn VIDEO_TS Folders to Playable Movie DVDs

Customise K3b: Add or Remove Quick Start Buttons

Long File-Name Support for Burning Data Discs with K3b

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There are many great disc burning apps for Ubuntu, but (just like in Windows) you may find not every one does everything you need. In Windows, you may have found a lack of support for burning ISO images (in Ubuntu, you just right-click and choose “Burn to disc“), but in Ubuntu and its siblings the feature nearly every one of them is missing is the ability to burn a VIDEO_TS folder to a playable disc.

With some, there just is no option for a proper movie DVD, and don’t be too surprised if those that do give you one playable on your computer, but not in the DVD player in the lounge. That’s where K3b comes in.

When you click the More actions… button, choose “New Video DVD Project” from the menu that appears.

You can then just drag and drop the VIDEO_TS folder into the blank project (or browse via the pane above).

You can then double-click the label (“K3b data project“) and enter your own disc label (the old name will be selected so just type away).

When you’re ready to proceed with the burning, insert a blank DVD and click the Burn button. When the dialogue appears, you may want to uncheck the default option of “Verify written data” before proceeding, as when the disc is burned the process will only be 50% through, since it will then scan the disc to verify the data. You may also want to check that “Simulate” is not enabled too, as that will force it to do a test-run before actually burning. Note that any changes you make will become the default, so you won’t have to manually do so again.

You can also choose how many copies you want, lower the burning speed if you’re spitting out coasters, and “Only create image” to “burn” the movie project to an ISO image for burning later. Once you’re ready to burn your DVD, click the Burn button.

You can view the progress via the “Writing Video DVD” dialogue, or just look to the progress bar at the top of your screen.

That’s it! Your movie disc will be watchable in any DVD player.

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Click here for all K3b tips

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Google Chrome is a fast and lightweight web browser that has already become the 3rd most used browser on the planet. OK, so at 4.4% of the market it isn’t threatening to topple Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer, but it has pushed my beloved Opera out of that position in a fairly short time.

Basically, it is a very slimmed-down browser with less screen real estate being taken up by things like a menu bar, and in independent tests has proven to be much faster than other browsers. For this speed boost, Google employs its own technology which many experts claim have Mozilla and Microsoft scrambling to match, let alone better.

Also, security is something the developers take very seriously, and once again has proved equal or superior than its counterparts in independent tests.

For more detailed technical info and browser comparisons, just search online with your favourite search engine (funnily enough, Google comes to mind), but you can check out the Wikipedia article for a good introduction.

To install Google Chrome, simply go to the download page and specify either 32- or 64-bit Ubuntu, and proceed to download the .deb installer. You’ll notice at the bottom of the user agreement it says:

Note: Installing Google Chrome will add the Google repository so your system will automatically keep Google Chrome up to date. If you don’t want Google’s repository, do “sudo touch /etc/default/google-chrome” before installing the package.

Note that simply downloading the installer won’t do this, but the repos will be added during installation. And you may notice that if you don’t want the repos added, there is a command outlined to prevent this, though I would suggest you let Google Chrome update itself, to keep it stable and secure.

Once you’ve downloaded the file, double-click it to proceed with the install.

In the first dialogue that appears when you start Google Chrome for the first time, you’ll see you can import settings from your browser. If you have Firefox, then this is simple, but if you have another installed, like Opera, then it may not appear in the list (in my case, I have multiple web browsers, and only Firefox was available to import from).

You’ll also notice you can have crash information sent back to the Google developers; the default (surprisingly) is not to send any info, but if you plan to keep using it and want to help improve stability and performance, you might consider enabling this before proceeding.

If you have Firefox open, it will complain that it could not import settings due to this. Simply close Firefox, then click the Continue button to proceed with importing your Firefox settings, bookmarks and passwords.

When Google Chrome finishes loading, it will likely open your Firefox “Home” page as the first tab, as well as an introductory page for the program itself. If you look to the first pic, you’ll see it also grabs any links you added to Firefox toolbars.

When you click the + button at the end of the tabs to open a new tab, you will find a customisable page for links which is similar to Opera‘s Speed Dial. Unlike the latter, however, you can’t really add new links at will, as it is more like a history of most frequently visited pages, but you can remove thumbnails for those you don’t want there (and also Keep on this page any you want there permanently). It’s worth spending a few minutes customising this page (once you’ve surfed a few sites), as it can be quicker than opening a blank tab and then finding the link in your Bookmarks menu, like you’d do in Firefox when opening a frequently used page.

And if you’re wondering where your imported bookmarks got to, just click on the Other Bookmarks button on the far right.

When you go to your favourite sites, you’ll see any login information would have been imported, and you’ll be ready to log into Facebook, MySpace or eBay with a click.

And if you’re wondering about customisability, while the window border obviously does not use your GTK or Compiz/Emerald theme, note that you can skin Google Chrome with the many themes available, like you can do with Firefox and Opera, as well as install all sorts of useful extensions. Once the browser is installed, go to the settings/spanner button to the far right of the address bar (it will say “Customize and control Google Chrome” when you hover your cursor over it), choose Extensions from the menu, and on the page that appears telling you you have none, click the browse the gallery link to look for goodies to install (use the Search field to look for theme and skin if you just want to change the look and not wade through hundreds of other extensions).

As you can see, it is no major pain setting up Google Chrome, and currently is just a 12.8Mb download, so you may want to give it a try, even if you just want a backup browser in case Firefox misbehaves and you don’t want to reboot. And if you’ve been having issues with your browser, or just prefer something more lightweight yet full-featured, this just may be what you’ve been looking for.

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Note: Currently the Linux version is still a “beta”, but on my 64-bit Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” system, seems perfectly stable.

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ADDITIONAL INFO:

Make Google Chrome Look Like the Rest of Ubuntu

Change Between Installed Themes in Linux

Google Chrome Themes for Ubuntu Users

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