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If you upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04, you might find that some of your familiar icons in the notification area of your panel’s system tray are missing. These will include such system apps as the Update Manager, but more importantly those programs you are running that usually put icons or indicators there.

Some of these might be used for bringing the related programs to the foreground (which is the only way to access those that disappear when minimised, like Firestarter and Vuze), while others are completely useless if not shown in the notification area. A good example of the latter is Parcellite, a clipboard manager which sits in the system tray, and which you can’t access any other way.

So, in Unity, you might not even be sure certain apps are running, without opening the System Monitor. They’re actually open and still trying to put their icons there, but are being prevented by a default Unity setting. But it’s easy to fix, either by the hands-on/visual approach, or the quicker command-line method.

Dconf Editor

First off, if you don’t have Dconf Editor installed, do so by entering the following into a terminal:

sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

To open it, hit Alt+F2 and enter dconf-editor. Navigate to desktop > unity > panel, where the value for the systray-whitelist entry should look something like: [‘JavaEmbeddedFrame’, ‘Mumble’, ‘Wine’, ‘Skype’, ‘hp-systray’, ‘scp-dbus-service’]

You can manually add programs and indicators to it (eg: [‘JavaEmbeddedFrame’, ‘Mumble’, ‘Wine’, ‘Skype’, ‘hp-systray’, ‘scp-dbus-service’, ‘your-indicator-here’]), or you can just get it to show all notifications (which would be preferable, since any programs you install in the future would be included there).

Simply click the systray-whitelist entry and type ['all'] over what is there. That should restore all your usual system tray icons, which were always running, just not visible. To complete this, you will need to run (via Alt+F2) unity --replace to refresh Unity.

Terminal Command

It’s even easier to do this via the terminal (or Alt+F2):

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['all']"

Once again, you’ll need to refresh Unity to see your changes.

Extra Notes

No Notifications: If you actually want no notifications showing up, leave the value empty. Actually, it will need to be [”] (that’s two single-quotes inside the box bracket), which you can do manually, or by the following command:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['']"

Don’t Refresh Unity in Terminal: Use Alt+F2 to refresh Unity, as while running unity --replace in the terminal is fine, if you halt that process, or close the terminal window, Unity will crash. While that isn’t a major deal, it will however leave you without a way to rectify this, as Alt+F2 will not produce the Run dialogue (since the panel isn’t running – which also means no way to log out or restart). You may also find that if you manage to get a terminal up (like if you have a launcher for it on your desktop), you won’t be able to type anything into it.

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In Ubuntu 11.04‘s new Unity desktop, you may have noticed that the clock in the panel’s system tray only shows the time, whereas before you may have been used to it showing the day and date as well. But this is actually very simple to remedy: just click the clock, and when the calendar/menu appears, click Time & Date Settings… at the bottom.

When the settings app appears, in the Clock tab you will see you can customise it in all sorts of ways. If you would simply like to show the date, just check Date and month, and it will immediately appear.

If you’d also like to add the day, check Weekday as well. You’ll also be able to choose to show Seconds, or change the time display mode to 24-hour time.

 

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If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04, you may have noticed your Emerald themes for window borders are no longer working. You can still open the Emerald Theme Manager, but selecting new themes does nothing. And if you try starting Emerald via the terminal, all you will be presented with is a “segmentation fault”. This is because while Emerald may technically still be on your system, it’s actually not compatible with the latest Compiz-Fusion.

And you can forget about finding a newer version in the repos, since Emerald is unfortunately a dead project which hasn’t been maintained for a while now. So you can forgive Ubuntu for no longer supporting it, especially since Jasper, the successor to Emerald, is on its way.

But you can actually get Emerald working in 11.04, which you can do by uninstalling it, and reinstalling via git and manual compiling.

First off, we need to totally remove Emerald, which you can do by running the following command in a terminal:

sudo apt-get purge emerald

Next, we need to install git and some dependencies:

sudo apt-get install autoconf git intltool libdecoration0-dev libemeraldengine0 libtool libwnck1.0-cil-dev libwnck-dev

More dependencies will need to be installed, so just agree to those to proceed:

The following NEW packages will be installed:
 autoconf automake autotools-dev emacsen-common git git-man intltool
 libatk1.0-dev libcairo-script-interpreter2 libcairo2-dev libdecoration0-dev
 liberror-perl libexpat1-dev libfontconfig1-dev libfreetype6-dev
 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-dev libglib2.0-cil-dev libglib2.0-dev libgtk2.0-cil-dev
 libgtk2.0-dev libice-dev libltdl-dev libpango1.0-dev libpixman-1-dev
 libpng12-dev libpthread-stubs0 libpthread-stubs0-dev libsm-dev
 libstartup-notification0-dev libtool libwnck-dev libwnck1.0-cil-dev
 libwnck2.20-cil libx11-dev libxau-dev libxcb-render0-dev libxcb-shm0-dev
 libxcb1-dev libxcomposite-dev libxcursor-dev libxdamage-dev libxdmcp-dev
 libxext-dev libxfixes-dev libxft-dev libxi-dev libxinerama-dev libxrandr-dev
 libxrender-dev libxres-dev x11proto-composite-dev x11proto-core-dev
 x11proto-damage-dev x11proto-fixes-dev x11proto-input-dev x11proto-kb-dev
 x11proto-randr-dev x11proto-render-dev x11proto-resource-dev
 x11proto-xext-dev x11proto-xinerama-dev xorg-sgml-doctools xtrans-dev
 zlib1g-dev
 0 upgraded, 64 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
 Need to get 29.9 MB of archives.
 After this operation, 96.2 MB of additional disk space will be used.
 Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

Now we need to fetch Emerald via git:

git clone git://anongit.compiz.org/fusion/decorators/emerald

Cloning into emerald...
 remote: Counting objects: 2265, done.
 remote: Compressing objects: 100% (2215/2215), done.
 remote: Total 2265 (delta 1619), reused 0 (delta 0)
 Receiving objects: 100% (2265/2265), 825.06 KiB | 132 KiB/s, done.
 Resolving deltas: 100% (1619/1619), done.

Once done, you will have an emerald folder inside your home folder, so get the terminal to point to that:

cd emerald

Now you can start the compiling (run each command once the previous one has finished):

git checkout -b compiz++ origin/compiz++

./autogen.sh

./configure --prefix=/usr/local

make

sudo make install

If you want to remove the emerald folder immediately, you can run the following commands:

cd ~

rm -rf emerald

However, you can always manually delete it later, once you’re sure you no longer need it (you will need it if you want to uninstall it later; read below for more info on that).

To enable your Emerald theme, hit Alt+F2 and run emerald --replace. You should now see your window borders change to an Emerald-themed one, and you can now open the theme manager to choose another.

If the Emerald Theme Manager is not in System > Preferences yet, you can try update-menus (or even update-menus && killall gnome-panel) in a terminal or via Alt+F2, but in my case it only appeared there after I ran Applications > System Tools > Compiz Fusion Icon and tried running the theme manager from there. For me, that only made the launcher appear, and I could only get the Emerald Theme Manager to open by running emerald-theme-manager --replace in the terminal (it probably won’t work in the Run Application dialog via Alt+F2, and you’ll need to keep the terminal window open until you’re finished using it).

You’ll see all your old themes are still there, as they weren’t uninstalled when Emerald was purged. Just click on another theme, and it should change instantly.

Can’t Move Windows After Initiating Emerald?

After that, you may find you can’t move your windows, but don’t worry, as you can change a Compiz setting to rectify this. Open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager (if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal) and go to the Window Management section.

You will see that Move Window is unchecked, so click in the box to the left of it and you should now be able to move your programs and windows around. If Resize Windows is also unchecked, you may as well activate that too while you’re there.

Want to Uninstall Emerald?

If you look in Synaptic Package Manager, you’ll see that Emerald is apparently not installed. That’s because you didn’t install the version in the repositories, since it wouldn’t work. You will need to manually uninstall it, which you can do by going the the ~/emerald folder you compiled from, so open a terminal there and run the following: sudo make uninstall

Can I Use Emerald With Gnome 3?

You can forget about trying to run Emerald in Gnome-Shell, as Gnome 3 uses Clutter instead of Compiz-Fusion.

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Please note: if you are using Ubuntu 10.10 backwards, with Emerald supplying the window border themes for Compiz-Fusion (or have Emerald successfully running in 11.04 onwards), read this guide instead.

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If you occasionally find your title-bars or window borders missing from your programs and folder windows, it’s actually quite easy to fix, and there’s no need to reboot.

You will need to edit a Compiz-Fusion setting, so open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager; if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal.

Once open, scroll down to the Effects section, where you will see Window Decoration is not enabled. Simply click the check box to the left of it, and you should see your window borders reappear.

Keep this in mind for the future, as certain things can upset Compiz-Fusion and you’ll likely be without title-bars again (especially if you’re playing around with settings, as enabling one Compiz plugin can disable another).

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If you’ve upgraded your system to Ubuntu 11.04, you may notice the handy Run Application dialog seems to be missing. Or you may be a total newbie with a fresh Natty Narwhal system who is wondering what’s this useless Alt+F2 key combination everyone keeps mentioning in forum posts.

Well, the handy way of running commands without opening a terminal – hitting Alt+F2 to open the Run Application dialog – is disabled in 11.04, but you can easily enable it again.

You will need to edit a Compiz-Fusion setting, so open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager; if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal.

Once open, in the General section you will see Gnome Compatibility; if it isn’t already checked, then do so to enable this plugin.

When you click on it, you will see a couple of legacy options, one being Run Dialog, which you will notice is Disabled.

Click the Disabled button, and a box will appear letting you enable it.

As soon as you check Enabled, a box will appear to let you choose the key binding.

Rather than click on Shift, Super, Ctrl or Alt, click the Grab key combination button, and hit your key combo, which you’ll probably want as the familiar Alt+F2 (you can of course choose any available combo you like, but at least you won’t get confused if seeing guides and forum posts talking about Alt+F2).

Once the Edit Run Dialog box reappears, click OK to finalise the key binding.

You will see that all is as it should be, and can close the settings manager.

After that, you’ll be able to run commands quickly by hitting Alt+F2 and typing them in the Run Application dialog, or by choosing them from the menu of previous commands. The other benefit of this method of running commands is that you would usually need to keep a terminal window open for many commands, or else they’ll cease to run, whereas when invoked through the dialog they’ll continue to run once the Run Application dialog has disappeared.

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If you upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04 (or installed a fresh Natty Narwhal system) and are running the Classic desktop, you may find something amiss with the ability to bring folder windows or programs to the foreground by holding an item over its taskbar button until it appears.

For example, you’re looking in a folder at a sound file you downloaded, and wish to play it in Banshee, which is already open but hidden from view. Normally, you would drag the file over the Banshee taskbar button in the bottom panel, wait till Banshee appears, then drop the file onto it.

A more common use is perhaps file management, when you’re dragging files and folders from one Nautilus window to another which is hidden from view. This is most handy, as it means you don’t need to carefully line up both source and destination folders before doing the drag-and-dropping.

But you may find something is preventing you from doing this, with the only thing happening is a + sign appearing, and if you finally let go on the panel instead of press the Esc key, a launcher will be created there, which you then have to remove. This is not some new setting you can change in Nautilus‘s preferences (which is evident if you try with another file manager like Thunar), but a Compiz bug. While that obviously needs to be ironed out, there is a way around this, which is to run the following command in a terminal:

compiz --replace

Note that the next time you restart, things will be back as before, but at least you can just run that command again (which you can easily do by hitting the up arrow when in the terminal, or pick from the menu in the Run dialogue via Alt+F2).

Also note that if you try adding that command to your startup programs, it will likely do nothing, but you can always make a launcher for your panel, which you can then click once everything has loaded, or when you go to drag stuff via the taskbar and remember you need to.

This bug will likely be fixed soon enough, but at least there is a way around it for now. If you’d like to add your voice to the bug report (since more voices mean quicker action), click here (note that if you haven’t already got a Launchpad account, it only takes a couple of minutes to join, and is worth the small effort, since you can then report your own bugs).

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Can’t get the Run Application dialog to appear when you hit Alt+F2?

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Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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