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If you’re a Kubuntu user (or, like me, an Ubuntu user with multiple desktop environments installed, including KDE), you may have noticed that every time you start Chromium (or Google Chrome) web browser, KDE Wallet pops up and asks for authentication. While you can just exit that without having to enter your password, one can be forgiven for finding it irritating to have to do so every time the browser is opened. But it’s actually quite easy to disable, and all you have to do is enter the following into a terminal:

gedit ~/.kde/share/config/kwalletrc

Once the file opens, hit Ctrl+End to go to the bottom of the file, hit Enter a couple of times (so there will be a blank paragraph between the last entry and the test you’ll be pasting), and add the following:

[Auto Deny]
kdewallet=Chromium

(substitute “Google Chrome” instead of “Chromium” if using the former)

Save and exit the file. Log out and back in again for the changes to take effect, or simply enter the following into the terminal:

killall -9 kwalletd

That’s it – the next time you open Chromium/Google Chrome, kwallet will no longer appear to annoy you.

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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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Users of Ubuntu 10.04 onwards note that XSplash is no longer used, so read the “Plymouth” customisation guide instead. Since it is still basically GDM that is providing the login screen, the bulk of this guide should still apply.

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As you are probably aware, since Gnome is moving away from its own GDM login screen to that of X-Server’s XSplash to improve boot time, Ubuntu “Karmic Koala” has little to offer in the way of customisability of the login process. While the masses are wailing about the step backwards that Ubuntu has taken, it has to be stressed that this is something the Gnome developers have done, and that (unsurprisingly) there are ways around this. And as you’ll see, while before you had to download GDM themes and hope you liked all the aspects (or make your own), with these little hacks you can change one or more features of the login screen, so in effect create your own themes.

There is a command-line hack that involves logging out and entering a tty session, and you can change many aspects of your login there (everything but the throbber, welcome sound and user icon). However, since there are ways to change each aspect while at the desktop, usually with quick terminal commands, I’ll list those first, and include the former near the end. And I’ll also show how to do the same thing as the tty hack, but with the Appearance dialogue while you’re still logged into your current session; this is by far the easiest method for changing nearly everything visual about your login screen, so we’ll begin with that.

For some users, none of the cosmetic aspects matter as much as the user list being shown by default, which many see as a major security issue. I’ll include methods for rectifying this at the end.

The list of topics covered here are:

  • Appearances GDM Customisation
  • Login Background
  • Logo & Throbber
  • Previewing Your Changes
  • GTK & Icon Themes
  • User Icon
  • System Sound
  • Gnome Control Center Hack
  • Disabling the User List
  • Things To Avoid
  • Conclusion

There should be enough alternative methods for each task that if one doesn’t work for you, another will.

Appearances GDM Customisation

You can actually change most aspects of the loginGTK theme (window borders, etc), background, font, and icon theme – via Appearance Preferences. But don’t go clicking on System > Preferences > Appearance, as that will only let you customise your desktop. Instead, run:

gksudo -u gdm dbus-launch gnome-appearance-properties

… and when Appearance Preferences loads, any changes you make will only be applied to the login screen. As you can see, you can change most aspects there, and only have to change the throbber, welcome sound and user icon manually. If for some reason this doesn’t work while logged in, log out and try the “Gnome Control Center Hack” method.

♣♣♣ If Appearance Preferences keeps reappearing every time you log in, read this.

Login Background

If you just want to be able to specify your own background image for the login, you can overwrite the existing one in /usr/share/images/xsplash (where all images for the login are stored). If there are wallpapers of all resolutions installed with the current theme, you would usually be correct in assuming the image size would match the screen resolution. Or if you’re used to boot and login images needing to be smaller, you’d assume a picture of a smaller resolution would be used.

But you may be surprised to find that the current background is in a higher resolution, so if you’re running a widescreen monitor set at 1680×1050, it will likely be:

/usr/share/images/xsplash/bg_2560x1600.jpg

To find out which image is being used as the login background (if there’s more than one wallpaper image in the folder), enter the following in a terminal:

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --get /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename

You can then just replace the current background with a picture of your own. In the case of the previous example, you could rename a smaller image of 1680×1050 as bg_2560x1600.jpg and it would work fine. Since the folder is a protected system one, you’ll need to open it with root privileges before you can edit, delete or overwrite files therein, so enter the following in a terminal:

gksu nautilus /usr/share/images/xsplash

Then just drag your new background to the folder that appears and overwrite the original. Or you can specify a picture of your own, which can reside anywhere (like your ~/Pictures folder), via the command-line.

To change the image being used as the login background, enter the following in a terminal (replacing the path and file name on the end with your own):

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --set --type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename /home/yourusername/Pictures/wallpaper.jpg

Logo & Throbber

If you’ve downloaded or made your own alternative logo (to replace the Ubuntu one) and/or “throbber ” (the progress animation), it’s really a simple process to add these to your login. All XSplash image files reside in /usr/share/images/xsplash, so it is a simple matter of replacing the default images there.

The logo images you need to replace are:

/usr/share/images/xsplash/logo_large.png
/usr/share/images/xsplash/logo_medium.png
/usr/share/images/xsplash/logo_small.png
/usr/share/images/xsplash/logo_xtra_large.png

The throbbers you need to replace are:

/usr/share/images/xsplash/throbber_large.png
/usr/share/images/xsplash/throbber_medium.png
/usr/share/images/xsplash/throbber_small.png
/usr/share/images/xsplash/throbber_xtra_large.png

So, if your images have different names, simply rename them to those outlined, and overwrite the current images in the folder. Since the folder is a protected system one, you’ll need to open it with root privileges before you can edit, delete or overwrite files therein, so enter the following in a terminal:

gksu nautilus /usr/share/images/xsplash

Then just drag your new images to the folder that appears and overwrite the originals.

Previewing Your Changes

To preview your current XSplash theme (it will show the background image, logo and throbber):

sudo xsplash (hit Esc to exit)

GTK & Icon Themes

To find out which GTK theme is being used to decorate window borders in the login screen, enter the following in a terminal:

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --get /desktop/gnome/interface/gtk_theme

To change the GTK theme being used in the login screen, enter the following in a terminal (replace “BlackPlastic” with the name of the theme):

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --set --type string --set /desktop/gnome/interface/gtk_theme BlackPlastic

To find out which icon theme is being used in the login screen, enter the following in a terminal:

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --get /desktop/gnome/interface/icon_theme

To change the icon theme being used in the login screen, enter the following in a terminal (replacing “Tangerine” with the name of the desired icon theme):

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --set --type string --set /desktop/gnome/interface/icon_theme Tangerine

You can also edit the file /usr/share/gconf/schemas/gdm-simple-greeter.schemas if you don’t like the computer icon. To do so, enter the following in a terminal:

sudo gedit /usr/share/gconf/schemas/gdm-simple-greeter.schemas

Then change the icon <default>computer</default> in the section:

<schema>
<key>/schemas/apps/gdm/simple-greeter/logo_icon_name</key>
<applyto>/apps/gdm/simple-greeter/logo_icon_name</applyto>
<owner>gdm-simple-greeter</owner>
<type>string</type>
<default>computer</default>
<gettext_domain>gdm</gettext_domain>
<locale name=”C”>
<short>Icon name to use for greeter logo</short>
<long>Set to the themed icon name to use for the greeter logo.</long>
</locale>
</schema>

The value you would change it to would be the name of the icon, minus the .png extension. If you look inside your icon themes folders (in ~/.icons and /usr/share/icons), you’ll see they all have a computer.png icon, usually in the Devices subfolder. So for icon themes to work, the images for all the system icons have to have specific names. Therefore, just change “computer” to another icon from the current theme, like “gnome-dev-keyboard” for gnome-dev-keyboard.png in the same folder.

User Icon

To change your user icon, enter the following command, then click the icon in the dialogue that appears, and pick another from the list (or browse to another folder and choose one of your own, like a photo):

/usr/bin/gnome-about-me

System Sound

If you’d like to change the welcome sound from the default drum roll, here’s a workaround you can employ. If you look in /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo, you will see that the default system sound, system-ready.ogg, is actually just a symbolic link to dialog-question.ogg. So you can delete that link and create a new one to another .ogg file, without actually deleting any sound files.

If you want to use another sound file from the same folder, for example desktop-logout.ogg, open a terminal in the folder /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo (or just launch a terminal and enter cd /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo) and enter the following commands:

sudo rm system-ready.ogg (to delete the symbolic link)

sudo ln -s desktop-logout.ogg system-ready.ogg (to create a new link to the desired sound file)

You can also specify your own sound file, and it can be anywhere, like your ~/Music folder, so use the following command to replace the one above (remembering to change the path and filename in the example to that of your file):

sudo ln -s /home/yourusername/Music/MyStartupSound.ogg system-ready.ogg

Gnome Control Center Hack

1. Log out of your current session to return to the login screen

2. Switch to the tty command-line prompt using Ctrl+Alt+F1

3. Log in using your normal username and password

4. At the command-line prompt type: export DISPLAY=:0.0

5. Then enter: sudo -u gdm gnome-control-center

6. Switch back to the login screen using ALT+F7

7. Gnome Control Center will be open, so use it to configure your login screen.

8. Click on the Appearances icon to change your login screen’s font, theme and background image.

9. Close Gnome Control Center and log in as usual. (If this keeps reappearing every time you log in, read this).

Disabling the User List

You can disable display of the user list if you’re worried about security on a multi-user machine via this command in a terminal:

sudo gconftool-2 --direct --config-source \xml:readwrite:/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults --type bool\ --set /apps/gdm/simple-greeter/disable_user_list true

… or open Applications > System Tools > Configuration Editor, browse to /apps/gdm/simple-greeter/ and put a tick next to disable_user_list. However, while this looks like an easy method, you may find that it doesn’t change anything, but you can also log out and do it via a tty session:

1. Log out of your current session to return to the login screen

2. Switch to the tty command-line prompt using Ctrl+Alt+F1

3. Log in using your normal username and password

4. At the command-line prompt type: export DISPLAY=:0.0

5. Then enter: sudo -u gdm gconf-editor

6. Switch back to the login screen using ALT+F7

7. The Configuration Editor will be loaded.

8. Go to apps/gdm/simple-greeter.

9. Change the Value of disable_user_list to TRUE.

10. Close the Configuration Editor.

11. Reboot your machine.

Things To Avoid

When looking around for answers, you’ll occasionally come across some info that may have been at one time sound advice, but could now land you in all sorts of bother. Here are a few, and I’ll add more as I come across them.

Usplash: One bit of advice I certainly don’t recommend is for recreating the old Usplash – the image with progress bar you used to see before the login. Once upon a time, the command sudo dpkg-reconfigure usplash-theme-ubuntu would be good for recreating the Usplash if something had gone awry with it. I’ve seen this command mentioned as the way to change back the theme back to the original via the terminal, but that is incorrect, as it in effect redraws it and messes with the kernel while doing so. In Ubuntu 9.10 with XSplash taking over that and the login, this may cause a display driver error upon rebooting, and choosing to log in anyway in low-graphics mode may not get you anywhere (nor will trying to restore settings from a backup), and you’ll have to reboot and choose to create a new config file for the current hardware.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are actually many ways to customise your login process, so Gnome’s move away from GDM isn’t such a bad thing after all. Beforehand, you had to know how to create a GDM theme, or accept downloaded themes as-is, but now with XSplash you can tailor everything about your login to suit your tastes.

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Further Reading:

Stop Appearance Preferences Continually Loading at Startup

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Dolphin became the default file manager when KDE went to 4.0, so Kubuntu users already know what a great program it is (unless they preferred to stick with the previous default file manager, Konqueror). While Ubuntu‘s desktop environment, Gnome, has certainly stepped up of late when it comes to visual effects, screenlets and the like, KDE has always been about “bells and whistles”. And while Gnome can end up looking pretty stunning, the same can’t be said about its default file manager, Nautilus, which is about as plain as they come.

Dolphin, on the other hand, has the little niceties one would expect of a KDE file manager, like animated folder icons, and a lot more. There is an easy to access zoom slider for thumbnails, and has some pretty unique “views”. You can customise it in ways you could only dream of in Nautilus or Thunar, like not only add extra panes, but also move them where you like, and resize them to your needs.

If you look at the above pic, you’ll see that you can add a Folders (“tree”) pane and put it above the Information pane on the right (you could put it under Places, of course, but why not save that for shortcuts). Also, you can add a Terminal to the bottom, so whatever folder you’re in, you can just type commands without having to open a terminal in each folder (or continually change paths).

The views are Icons (like the same in Nautilus, but smaller, and just the icon, no preview),Details (your standard row-by-row format with information next to each file), Columns (starts off with 2 columns, and every sub-folder you click on opens another), Preview (turns your icons into thumbnails, and folders will show previews of pics inside), andSplit (gives you 2 columns you can browse with).

When you are inSplit mode, you can look at the beginning and end of a large folder at the same time, or use the second column to browse another folder or drive. The Columns mode offers another interesting and useful way of browsing, so you certainly have a few choices in ways to browse.

Some things to note are that with Dolphin, like other KDE file managers, the default is to treat a single-click as a double-click. This can confuse Gnome users, as even slowly clicking a file will open it. All you need to do to select a file is click the green + that appears in the top left corner when you hover your cursor, and it will select it. But if you’re selecting a file simply to know the filesize, like you would in Nautilus, then you don’t need to, as that information will appear in the status bar and the Information pane simply by hovering your cursor over the file.

Not only that, but if you are in Icons view, hovering over picture files will show the preview in the Information pane. In Preview mode, another nice feature is that when you hover your mouse cursor over a folder, its preview thumbnail will cycle through other pictures in the folder (which you can see in the second pic, as the selected folder looks different from the preview in the Information pane).

So there are some great reasons to try out Dolphin. There’s a lot more you can do to customise its interface, and if the single-click/double-click issue ends up annoying you, then don’t worry, you can change the setting to what you’re used to. You can change that and other default settings via Settings > Configure Dolphin.

While Dolphin needs certain KDE libraries, etc, to function, any such dependencies will be installed with the program into your Ubuntu/Gnome system. Mark it for installation in Synaptic, or enter in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install dolphin

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Ubuntu "Linux for Human Beings"The version numbers of each Ubuntu release simply reflect the year and month it was released, in that order. So, for “Saucy Salamander” the 13.10 reflects that it was released in 2013 in October. And since 6.10 “Edgy Eft”, upgrades come out every 6 months – ie: every April and October – so the upcoming versions are easy to guess (eg: next one will be in April, 2014, so will be 14.04).

Similarly, the code names for each release have gone up alphabetically, so since 6.10 we’ve had “Feisty Fawn”, “Gutsy Gibbon”, “Hardy Heron”, etc, through to “Saucy Salamander”. So when you see users in forums talking about them still running “Precise“, you’ll know they are referring to their particular version (in this case “Precise Pangolin12.04).

Just remember not to discount the zero at the end, so the current version is 13.10, not 13.1. Similarly, don’t leave out the zero from an April (x.04) release, meaning the previous release is 13.04, not 13.4. As you might imagine, it could get confusing otherwise, as 13.4 would have to come after 13.1, whereas the reality is that 13.04 comes before 13.10.

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