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Archive for the ‘Desktop Customisation’ Category

If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 13.04, you may have noticed that its file manager, Nautilus, has lost some of its functionality. One of the glaring omissions in the 3.6x versions (the current is 3.6.3) is the Open With sub-menu when right-clicking a selected folder. Previously, you could use it to open a folder with a program, like Movie Player (now called Videos, though technically it’s totem) to open a folder full of video clips, or a folder full of pictures with Image Viewer (or eogEye Of Gnome – to be precise).

In this guide I’ll show you how to do both, but you can of course apply this to any program you want, as long as it has the ability to open a folder starting with the first file. In the case of Image Viewer, it will open the first file within the folder and continue to cycle through the rest as you use your arrow keys; in the case of Videos, it will open the media player with all videos from the selected folder in its playlist, in alphanumerical order.

To get around the missing Open With option, you will first need to install Nautilus Actions. To do so, run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions

Once installed, you can use the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool to define your own actions (in Unity’s Dash menu, just start typing the name; in Gnome Classic, it will be in Applications > System Tools).

New Menu Item for Image Viewer:

In the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool, click the Define a new action button and name that action to what you want to appear in the menu (eg: Open with Image Viewer; whatever name you choose will also appear in the Context label: field in the first tab in the right-pane, Action).

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Image Viewer to Context Menu

Making sure that the new action is selected in the left-pane, in the right-pane go to the second tab – Command – where you define what that menu option will do. For the Path: enter eog (or the full path /usr/bin/eog), for Parameters: enter %b (for first basename), and finally for Working directory: enter %d (for first base directory). While there are a bunch of other tabs in the tool, that is all you should need to do.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Image Viewer to Context Menu Step 2

If you want to add an icon for that menu option, you will see Icon: in the Action tab, where you can browse for an icon to use.

Nautilus-Actions Icon Chooser

Once you’re finished, click the Save button, and exit the tool. You will find your new action in the Nautilus-Actions actions sub-menu in your context menus.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Image Viewer to Context Menu (DONE!)

(OPTIONAL: If you also want this action to appear in context menus for locations – in other words, not just the selected folder, but when you right-click an empty area of the folder you’re currently in – check the box next to Display item in location context menu in the Action tab)

New Menu Item for Movie Player (Videos):

In the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool, click the Define a new action button and name that action to what you want to appear in the menu (eg: Open with Movie Player or Play Movies in Folder; whatever name you choose will also appear in the Context label: field in the first tab in the right-pane, Action).

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Movie Player/Videos to Context Menu

Making sure that the new action is selected in the left-pane, in the right-pane go to the second tab – Command – where you define what that menu option will do. For the Path: enter totem (or the full path /usr/bin/totem), for Parameters: enter %b (for first basename), and finally for Working directory: enter %d (for first base directory). While there are a bunch of other tabs in the tool, that is all you should need to do.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Movie Player/Videos to Context Menu Step 2

If you want to add an icon for that menu option, you will see Icon: in the Action tab, where you can browse for an icon to use.

Nautilus-Actions Icon Chooser

Once you’re finished, click the Save button, and exit the tool. You will find your new action in the Nautilus-Actions actions sub-menu in your context menus.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Movie Player/Videos to Context Menu (DONE!)

(OPTIONAL: If you also want this action to appear in context menus for locations – in other words, not just the selected folder, but when you right-click an empty area of the folder you’re currently in – check the box next to Display item in location context menu in the Action tab).

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If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 13.04, you may have noticed that its file manager, Nautilus, has lost some of its functionality. One of the glaring omissions in the 3.6x versions (the current is 3.6.3) is the ability to open selected folders in their own windows.

Nautilus 3.6 Options for Selected Folders

Nautilus 3.6 Options for Selected Folders

Currently, the only options available when you right-click selected folders are to create a new folder containing whatever is selected, or to open them in new tabs. The Open option simply mimics the next option, which is to open them in new tabs. The only way at all to open another (single) folder in a new window is if you right-click the breadcrumb in the toolbar.

Right-clicking Pictures lets me choose to Open in New Window

Right-clicking Pictures while in a sub-folder lets me choose to “Open in New Window”

However, there is a way around this: Nautilus Actions. To install it, run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions

Once installed, you can use the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool to define your own actions (in Unity’s Dash menu, just start typing the name; in Gnome Classic, it will be in Applications > System Tools).

Nautilus-Actions: Open in New Window

In the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool, click the Define a new action button and name that action to what you want to appear in the menu (eg: Open in New Window; whatever name you choose will also appear in the Context label: field in the first tab in the right-pane, Action).

Nautilus-Actions: Defining the Action

Making sure that the new action is selected in the left-pane, in the right-pane go to the second tab – Command – where you define what that menu option will do. For the Path: enter nautilus (or the full path /usr/bin/nautilus), for Parameters: enter %b (for first basename), and finally for Working directory: enter %d (for first base directory). While there are a bunch of other tabs in the tool, that is all you should need to do.

If you want to add an icon for that menu option, you will see Icon: in the Action tab, where you can browse for an icon to use.

Nautilus-Actions Icon Chooser

Once you’re finished, click the Save button, and exit the tool. You will find your new action in the Nautilus-Actions actions sub-menu in your context menus.

Nautilus-Actions: Open in New Window

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Please note: this is an updated version of the guide for restoring the volume button in Ubuntu 10.04/Gnome 2, and is specifically for those using the Gnome 3 “Classic” (Fallback) desktop (though may be applicable for Gnome-Shell and Unity).

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If you’ve just upgraded to 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” and found that the volume icon/button is missing from the system tray (at the far-right of the top Gnome panel), you can choose between adding the newer indicator applet, or running the old stand-alone volume button like back in Gnome 2. With the indicator applet, it will load automatically with each boot, but it doesn’t take much to get the legacy volume button to do the same.

Volume Button:

Note: Those who’ve had to do this before in Ubuntu 10.04 through to 11.10 will have noted the package gnome-volume-control-applet no longer exists, but since it has just been renamed, all you need to do is change the command to gnome-sound-applet.

To run it for the current session, hit Alt+F2 to open the Run Application app, paste gnome-sound-applet into the text field, and click the Run button (you can also enter the command into a terminal, but the button will disappear if you close the terminal).

To get it to start automatically from the next reboot, click the cog in the top-right (in Unity) and open Startup Applications and add it as a new entry with a name like “Volume Button”. If you’re using Gnome Classic, your user menu in the top-right won’t include Startup Applications, so just run gnome-session-properties via Alt+F2 or in a terminal.

If for some reason the volume app is missing on your system, run sudo apt-get install gnome-sound-applet in the terminal.

Indicator Applet:

Alt+Right-click an empty area of the panel (if you have Compiz effects enabled, then you will need to hold Alt+Super/Windows while right-clicking), choose Add to Panel, then drag Indicator Applet Complete to next to the clock in the system tray, or wherever you want to put it instead. The volume button will be restored, but as part of the Indicator Applet which also has a mail/message notifier for Evolution and messaging apps, as well as showing when other apps like Rhythmbox music player are open.

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Ubuntu has moved on to “Unity“, and Gnome has evolved to version 3‘s “Gnome Shell“, but many people (like myself) still prefer to use the old “Classic” desktop – be it the old Gnome 2 version, or the “Fallback Mode” of Gnome 3 (users of 11.10 upwards have no choice but to use the Gnome 3 version).

While the 2 versions of the “Classic” interface do have some differences – no “System” menu in Gnome 3 (read this if this is your only concern), and having to hold Alt while right-clicking it to access options – both have panels that are much more customisable (and infinitely more useful) than what “Unity” and “Gnome Shell” currently offer.

But things can go awry, like after doing some tweaking, or installing a program, or having to do a hard reboot, and you can find your panel altered (particularly minus the menus), or even completely missing. So we’ll look at a few different scenarios, and how to rectify them, including how to force Gnome to reset your menus back to their defaults (which is probably the quickest and easiest method). Also, because I’ve seen a lot of newbies in forums say “My Applications menu is missing!” when they should be saying “My top panel has totally vanished!”, we’ll look at how to get your panel back as well.

Finally, because some will need to take a harder approach (or just prefer an easier one), we’ll look at how to totally reset your panels back to their defaults. This is by far the most drastic measure, but it’s quick and easy, and for most people there are no customisations to worry about losing. Besides, if your panel has totally died or vanished, and nothing else you’ve tried has worked, then it’s the only option left.

Try A Quick Panel Restart:

First off, it might be enough to simply refresh the panel by forcing it to close then re-open, which can be done by a reboot, or logging out, or simply entering the following command into the terminal or via Alt+F2:

killall gnome-panel

It pays to do that first, in case that’s all that’s really needed, but chances are you’ve already tried logging out or rebooting, so check out the following tips.

Restore Missing Menus to Panel:

If just your main menu (the “Applications” and “Places” menus, and the “System” menu in Gnome 2) is missing, then perhaps all you need to do is add the menu back to your panel. Right-click an empty area of your panel (holding Alt in Gnome 3) and choose “Add to Panel…“, then scroll down till you find “Menu Bar” (ignore “Main Menu“, as that is a small icon version), and drag it to the left area of your panel.

If it’s conceivable that you perhaps accidentally right-clicked the menu and hit “Remove From Panel“, then it might pay to do this, especially if you have panel customisations you don’t want to lose.

Force Reset of Main Menus:

If you can’t add the menus back to your panel, for example you can’t invoke “Add to Panel…” with a right-click, it’s time to reset the menus to their defaults, which is done by deleting some configuration files. Actually, technically you’re not deleting anything, as the 2 files in question are simply renamed with .bak extensions [so they’re still there if you really need them later], forcing Gnome to recreate those files with default values.

To force Gnome to rewrite its panel menus with default values, enter the following command into a terminal:

mv ~/.config/menus/applications.menu ~/.config/menus/applications.menu.bak && mv ~/.config/menus/settings.menu ~/.config/menus/settings.menu.bak

(That should work with either Gnome 2 or 3, though the settings menu part of it probably won’t do anything in Gnome 3).

All you have to do now is log out, then once you log back in again, your panel should be back with all its menus. Or you can simply enter killall gnome-panel into the terminal and it should successfully refresh your panels without having to log out.

Make a New Top Panel if Missing:

If your panel is absent, you could have even accidentally deleted it yourself, if you unwittingly right-clicked the panel and chose “Delete This Panel” (in Gnome 2 – in Gnome 3 that is harder to do, since you need to be holding Alt while right-clicking the panel). But don’t immediately blame yourself, as all sorts of mishaps can result in a missing panel.

Whatever the case, you should be able to recreate your top panel simply by right-clicking the bottom panel (while holding Alt in Gnome 3) and choosing “New Panel“. You’d then move it to the top, then right-click it (holding Alt in Gnome 3) and choose “Add to Panel…” to add back all the various bits and pieces you had before (the “default” panel is actually a blank panel with a bunch of plugins added).

Obviously, this would be the most time-consuming method, but if you plan to customise your panel anyway, you may as well start from scratch. However, the easiest method would be to totally reset your panels, so keep reading.

Force A Complete Panel Reset:

When all else fails, it’s time to force Gnome to completely reset your panels, which is done by deleting the configuration files. That might sound drastic, and in reality this really is the last resort, but if your panel is totally messed up, chances are your old settings are useless anyway, or rather that having to stick some launchers back on a clean panel will be a welcome alternative to having no panel, or one that is buggy, or missing the “Applications” menu or whatever.

To force Gnome to recreate its panels with default values, enter the following commands into a terminal:

gconftool --recursive-unset /apps/panel (This wipes the panel’s settings)

rm -rf ~/.gconf/apps/panel (This deletes the panel’s folders and files)

killall gnome-panel (This forces the panel to close and restart)

Your panel should now be back with all its menus (but of course minus any customisations). If for some reason they don’t appear immediately, a reboot should fix it.

Alternative Commands for Panel Reset:

ΔΔΔ Some guides have gconftool-2 --shutdown as the first command (this shuts down the current user’s gconfd), though gconftool --recursive-unset /apps/panel should work perfectly fine without it. However, if you aren’t having success, then run it first.

ΔΔΔ If you’re running the commands via the Alt+F2 Run Application box, chances are it won’t like the tilde (~) in the second command, so use rm -rf $HOME/.gconf/apps/panel instead.

ΔΔΔ Instead of killall gnome-panel, you can use pkill gnome-panel (which is basically the same thing), or nohup gnome-panel --replace &, or nohup gnome-panel --replace </dev/null &>/dev/null & (note that nohup specifies the command not halt when the terminal is closed, so is not needed if using Alt+F2).

ΔΔΔ If you’d rather make a backup of the panel’s files before deleting them, run mv ~/.gconf/apps/panel ~/Settings/PanelBackup (note the second path can be whatever you want; in this case, it’s a folder called PanelBackup inside a Settings folder within my home folder I have for storing various config files and settings backup). It actually moves the whole folder to a new location, which is basically the same as deleting it, so you shouldn’t need to run the second command (since there is nothing left there to delete, anyway).

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Ever since Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”, there has been a white border around thumbnails of pictures and videos when you look in a folder. But you can actually change that to whatever you want, and here I’ll show you how to turn the distracting white border into a nice drop-shadow, free of any other border.

Open a terminal and enter the following:

wget http://a.imageshack.us/img135/8666/thumbnailframe.png

That will download the image file to your home folder; the following command will then move it to the folder where Nautilus (your file manager) keeps its image files, renaming it appropriately as it does so:

sudo mv thumbnailframe.png /usr/share/pixmaps/nautilus/thumbnail_frame.png

Now, you need to totally restart Nautilus:

sudo nautilus -q

If you decide that you want to restore the original white border, you can basically run the same sequence again, but this time downloading the familiar thumbnail background:

wget http://a.imageshack.us/img651/5790/thumbnailframey.png

sudo mv thumbnailframey.png /usr/share/pixmaps/nautilus/thumbnail_frame.png

nautilus -q

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Additional notes:

Obviously, you can play around with your own thumbnail borders using the dimensions of the drop-shadow image (quite simply a square).

Also, if you would prefer to copy rather than move the image files to the Nautilus folder, thereby always having copies in your home folder, replace mv (move) in the command with cp (copy).

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Just in case the images are no longer available, you can find them below. Simply right-click them and (1) in the case of the larger drop-shadow image, choose to save the target of the image (or open it in a new tab and save the image that appears), and (2) in the small default image below it, choose to save the image. If you saved them to your home folder, the second command in each sequence will still apply; if you saved them to another folder, like ~/Downloads, open a terminal in that folder and the commands will work fine.

Right-click & save the target (not this smaller image)

Right-click & save this image

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The terminal for running commands in Ubuntu and any other Linux distro is dull to look at, but you can easily spice it up a little with some colour.

Simply run the following command in a terminal:

gedit ~/.bashrc

When .bashrc opens, locate and uncommentforce_color_prompt=yes” (that is, remove the hash, so it no longer looks like: #force_color_prompt=yes).

Save the file, and open a new terminal window, and you should already see a change (the prompt should be Light Green, which is defined by 1;32). You can then change any colour value you like; eg: 0;35 = Purple.

To edit the colour values, locate the following section, and change the default values with some of the examples listed further down:

if [ "$color_prompt" = yes ]; then
PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;31m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '
else
PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ '
fi

You can check out this Bash colour chart for a full range of colour values, but here are a few basic ones you can play around with (note that “Light” isn’t what you might think – it actually means “bold”):

Black 0;30Dark Gray 1;30Blue 0;34Light Blue 1;34Green 0;32Light Green 1;32Cyan 0;36Light Cyan 1;36Red 0;31Light Red 1;31Purple 0;35Light Purple 1;35Brown 0;33Yellow 1;33Light Gray 0;37White 1;37

For those curious about the codes used in the example pic, here’s the line from that section:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;35m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '

As you can see, 1;35 is the Light Purple user and machine name, while the 1;34 is the Light Blue tilde (~). If you want yours a bit brighter, try:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;36m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;31m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '

… which will give you Light Cyan and Light Red, and look like the following:

In case you’re wondering about the colon and dollar sign, you can change those as well, but you need to do more than just edit the colour values. You’ll need to insert code in the appropriate places, so the line looks like this:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;36m\]\u@\h\[\033[01;33m\]:\[\033[01;31m\]\w\[\033[01;33m\]\$ '

You’ll notice the first highlighted code is just before the colon (:) while the second is before the dollar sign ($). In this example, both are yellow, with the result looking like:

Now, if you want to go even further, you can make the user name stand out by doing the following:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;36m\]\u\[\033[01;35m\]@\h\[\033[01;33m\]:\[\033[01;31m\]\w\[\033[01;33m\]\$ '

That extra bit of code is specifying Light Purple for the @ and the desktop name, making it now look like:

And of course, one last bit of fiddling and you can have every element a different colour. In this last example, we’re going to make the computer name the same as the user name, and have them broken up by red, as with the yellow elements:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;36m\]\u\[\033[01;31m\]@\[\033[01;36m\]\h\[\033[01;33m\]:\[\033[01;31m\]\w\[\033[01;33m\]\$ '

As you can see, the @ is now Light Red, while the code before \h is specifying Light Cyan, like the user name:

You’ll also notice when you type commands that the colour of the text will match that of the $, which can be preferable if using a “light” colour, since the bold text is easier to see.

Lastly, in case you’re wondering whether the prompt can end in anything other than a $, the answer is yes, and it’s as easy as opening the Character Map (sudo apt-get install gucharmap if you don’t have it), selecting a character, and pasting it over the $ at the end of the line of code:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;36m\]\u\[\033[01;31m\]@\[\033[01;36m\]\h\[\033[01;33m\]:\[\033[01;31m\]\w\[\033[01;33m\] '

In that example, I simply selected a cool looking character from the font Runic, and replaced the $ with that. You’ll also note one other thing you’ll have to do, and that’s remove the \ before it, or else that will appear too (obviously, that doesn’t happen if using the $, but will with other characters).

Have fun experimenting!

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Whether you have a fresh Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal install or have upgraded, one thing you may have noticed is that the familiar Alt+Tab key combo for cycling between open programs and folder windows doesn’t work, which is even more of a pain if you’re using Unity.

 

Since there is no taskbar in the Unity desktop, and at this current early stage of development leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to accessing running applications, this can be a problem for those not wanting to waste a lot of time fiddling.

But you can actually rectify this, and that’s by enabling a Compiz-Fusion plugin. Go to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager, and under Window Management enable Static Application Switcher (if prompted, click the Enable Compiz Library Toolbox button to proceed).

If that doesn’t work, click on that plugin, and set the desired binding (“Next window“) to Alt+Tab in the Bindings tab. Make sure you click the button opposite the “Next window” for keyboard, not mouse. After selecting to enable that combo you can click Grab key combination and hold Alt while you press Tab.

Alt+ Esc?

If you’re wondering whether the other related key combo can be restored, being Alt+Esc for cycling between windows without the popup, you’ll note further down in the Bindings tab that there is also “Next window (No popup)“. You can once again get it to grab the key combo, but after setting it to <Alt>Escape it unfortunately did not work. However, setting it to <Super>Tab did work, just not as it used to, in that it will only bring another window to the foreground once you’ve let go of the keys. Hitting the combo once just cycles between the last two windows repeatedly, but hitting more than once will bring others in the chain to the fore, so for now the Alt+Tab combo is preferable (unless you know the order of open windows).

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