Posts Tagged ‘launcher’

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).


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


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Please note: this guide is for Ubuntu 10.10 backwards, as Emerald is no longer supported by Ubuntu. If you have upgraded to 11.04, Emerald will still the there, but the themes will be useless unless you uninstall Emerald and reinstall a version compatible with the latest Compiz-Fusion. If you have Emerald running successfully in 11.04 onwards, then this guide will still apply to you. Otherwise, read the guide for restoring window borders in 11.04 onwards.


Once in a while, you might find that when you boot to your desktop, the title-bars to all your windows are missing, along with the control buttons (Minimize, Maximize and Close).

While many wouldn’t know any way around this situation other than a reboot, others will be aware of the fusion-icon package that lets you reload your window manager. Once installed, it can be found in Applications > System Tools > Compiz Fusion Icon, and when launched you’ll find its icon in the system tray. Simply right-click it and choose the Reload Window Manager option, and Compiz-Fusion will be forced to restart, and your title-bars will reappear with the Emerald theme currently in use.

But there is actually a much easier way to go about this, and it is as simple as pasting the following command into a terminal or via Alt+F2:

emerald --replace

This just reloads Emerald, which is all that is needed to get your title-bars back. As you can see, this is much quicker than using the Compiz Fusion Icon, and means you don’t have to worry about installing the fusion-icon package if it’s not already on your system.

But there is an even easier way to do this, and that is create a launcher for it. You can put it anywhere you like, like the desktop or on the panel, but if you’re worried about clicking it accidentally, or just want it out of the way until needed, you can add a drawer to your panel and stick it in that.

The command for the launcher is exactly the same as for the terminal, and you can name it something like Reload Emerald/Compiz. Then all you have to do from then onwards is click your launcher and watch your title-bars bounce back.


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If you’ve upgraded your system to 10.10, when you look in System > Administration for Software Sources, you’ll likely find it missing. But is hasn’t been removed, just hidden.

Simply right-click the System menu, and choose Edit Menus. In the left hand pane, go to the bottom and select Administration within System. In the right-hand pane, simply check Software Sources, then click Close.

If you find you have two of them listed, that would be because you have KDE as well as Gnome in the one system. All you have to do to find out which one to enable is right-click them and choose Properties. The KDE version will have the command as something like software-properties-kde, while the Gnome one will be gksu --desktop /usr/share/applications/software-properties-gtk.desktop /usr/bin/software-properties-gtk or similar (the important point being the one with “kde” in the name is likely not the one you want).


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You’ve got to love Linux. There are so many things you can do with it that you could only dream of in Windows. What I’ll show you here is how to set up a button (or launcher actually) that will erase a rewritable disc with one click, with no further action needed on your part.

The command that will do the task is:

cdrecord -v dev=/dev/cdrom blank=fast

If you enter it into a terminal, you will see output similar to:

Starting to write CD/DVD at speed 2.0 in real BLANK mode for single session.
Last chance to quit, starting real write in 0 seconds. Operation starts.
Performing OPC…
Blanking PMA, TOC, pregap
Blanking time: 48.879s

But you don’t have to open a terminal, as this command runs fine from a launcher. So for one-click erasing of CD-RW and DVD-RW media, make a panel launcher for that command, and it’s done. Just insert a disc that needs to be blanked, click the button/launcher, and when the optical drive’s light finishes flashing, your media is now empty and ready for use.

Note: You may need to substitute the correct device path if it differs from /dev/cdrom, as the command will not work if it is looking to an address that doesn’t exist. It will likely be something like /dev/scd0 or /dev/sr0; to find out exactly what it is, read this guide.

Another error you may encounter may be that the operation cannot proceed because the disc is mounted (which can happen if you stick in a RW with data on it), and will end with something like:

Error trying to open /dev/cdrom exclusively (Device or resource busy)… retrying in 1 second.
Error trying to open /dev/cdrom exclusively (Device or resource busy)… giving up.
WARNING: /dev/cdrom seems to be mounted!
wodim: Device or resource busy.

Simply unmount the disc drive by right-clicking it in the left pane of Nautilus and choosing Unmount, then try the command again.

Note: If you can find no Unmount option, only Eject, you can do it via the terminal (replacing /dev/scd0 with the correct path if need be):

umount /dev/scd0

You can of course also run both commands at once (note this will not work as a launcher, as it will only run the first command):

umount /dev/scd0 && cdrecord -v dev=/dev/scd0 blank=fast


Can’t Blank a Disc?

Unfortunately, while this command works great with some media, on other discs you might see it end with the following error:

Error: this media does not support blanking, ignoring.
This drive or media does not support the ‘BLANK media’ command
wodim: Cannot blank disk, aborting.

You can try adding the options -force and blank=all to the end of the command, but don’t get your hopes up. In my case, old 2x RW DVDs get blanked fine, but the 4x RWs I just bought simply refuse to be blanked in this way.

You will need to erase such discs with a burning app such as K3b (which will let you pick an alternate method if the default blanking option doesn’t work).



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Please note: this article is for users of Ubuntu 10.04 through to 11.10users of 12.04 onwards read this guide instead.


If you’ve just upgraded to 10.04 “Lucid Lynx” and found that the volume icon/button is missing from the system tray (at the far-right of the top Gnome panel), there are two ways you can get it back:

Right-click an empty area of the panel, choose Add to Panel, then drag Indicator Applet 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.

OR (if you don’t want to use the Indicator Applet,
but want the old volume button back):

Use Alt+F2 to open the Run Application app, paste gnome-volume-control-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, go to System > Preferences > Startup Applications and add it as a new entry with a name like “Volume Button”.


Here are some ways to Customise your Indicator Applet:

Remove Evolution Mail Notifier from Indicator Applet in Ubuntu’s System Tray


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While most Ubuntu users experience greater overall stability than in OSes like Windows, occasionally programs may fail to work as they once had. Sometimes this is due to updates, with either an updated version of an app causing problems, or perhaps an updated library or other system file interfering with the existing program. The beauty with Ubuntu is that quite often a subsequent update will fix the problem before you can even start complaining about it, but this isn’t always the case.

While bugs/problems can vary, the annoyance that causes the most grief of course is programs crashing upon execution. So here are a few tips you can try if a program you’ve already had working no longer loads, or even if you installed a program and it never actually loaded successfully. Try the first 2 tips before moving onto more drastic measures if needed.

Exit the Program if it Loads Briefly

This will be of no use to those who see the program appear then vanish, or die with an error message (or not appear at all), but could be a fix for those who have the app crash after a certain task. For example, it could be opening or saving a file, or performing a certain editing feature like paste, so see if you can exit the program the proper way before it dies. You might find that it was in a loop of crashing due to not being properly exited previously, or whatever reason, and now works fine.

I had this happen recently with KAlarm, though it crashed immediately upon opening. Read the next tip on how I got it to appear, enabling me to then exit it cleanly, thus fixing the problem.

Try Again in the Terminal

If you try and run the program via the terminal, you might see some text come up that might explain what is going wrong (which is invaluable when trying to get some help in the forums or report a bug), but it generally still won’t load the app, since clicking a launcher to a command or entering it into a terminal are the same thing. I’ve seen a few exceptions, so definitely give it a try, but don’t expect too much. But if you follow the command with an ampersand (&), which is what you would do if wanting it to run in the background, you might get a pleasant surprise.

For example, after some KDE system updates, KAlarm began crashing on opening, but after entering kalarm & in the command-line it opened fine, and after making sure I exited the program properly (ie: not just closed the terminal), it now loads without issue!

Try Reinstalling the Program

Synaptic Package Manager makes installing and uninstalling software a simple task – just find the package, right-click it, and choose to either reinstall it, remove it, or remove it completely. So if you are having problems getting a program to load, the next step might be to reinstall it. You shouldn’t need to worry about settings being lost, even if you choose to remove it. In fact, I’ve seen programs leave settings folders behind on complete removals, so even if you have to resort to that, you might still get your old settings back.

Reinstalling it might not do much, as it just reinstalls the same version, but a couple of times it was enough to do the trick for me. If that fails, the next step is to mark it for removal, and once it has been uninstalled, select it for installation again. If the problem still persists, then go back and mark it for complete removal, and then install it again. Sometimes it is a setting or corrupted config file or whatever, and only in a complete removal will it be replaced by a safe default or uncorrupted file.

Report a Bug or Search for Existing Solutions

If nothing you’ve tried works, then it might mean that at least for now, there’s nothing you can do. It could be some issue like a conflict with an updated version of a library file, and could be such a widespread bug that it soon gets fixed in an update. Or it might get fixed in the next version of Ubuntu. Or if it’s some little app that not everyone uses, then it may never get fixed, because no-one knows there is any issue with it.

If you really want that app to work and want it fast, then don’t just complain about it, make the effort to report a bug. Finding the program maker’s site is easy enough with Google, and if there is no site, then ask for help in the Ubuntu forums. I have had bugs fixed within a week, and even cool features I proposed added almost immediately, so it is definitely worth the time. Some programs have such a large user base they have forums and bug report centres, while smaller apps might have a homepage and email link direct to the author.

You might email a developer of a small but useful app and next thing he is emailing back saying he fixed the problem, so go download the new version. With some more well-known programs, you might be surprised to find no bug report area, or to get no replies to emails sent, and that’s if they even have a web page. In cases like that, it’s time to hit the Ubuntu forums, where you might actually find a fix some clever person has figured out.

Just remember that whether you’re reporting a bug or asking for help on a solution, always supply as much information as possible. “KAlarm doesn’t work” generally isn’t considered descriptive enough to be of use to those who wish to help. Post info like your version of Ubuntu, and definitely the version number of the app (which you should be able to get by searching for it in Synaptic and looking through the details supplied). And adding a whole bunch of text you copied when trying to run it in a terminal would certainly give those assisting something to work with. Also, be prepared to send in any log files they may need to see what is going on.

And in this day and age, I doubt I have to remind you of search engines like Google. Someone could have already found a fix, and stuck it up on his blog or website, so make sure you’ve ruled this out first. Once again, the more info you bother to give, the more results you are likely to get. “KAlarm doesn’t work” is certainly going to get you a lot less useful info than “KAlarm crashes on loading in Ubuntu“. One last tip is that while more relevant words in the search generally produce better results, sometimes they can interfere, so try cutting words out. Sometimes a simple “KAlarm crashes” can get you what you need with little searching through the results.


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PLEASE NOTE: This article is for earlier versions of Ubuntu running on Gnome 2.x, so you will not be able to add this to the panel in Unity (the default desktop environment) or Gnome Shell, both of which are based on Gnome 3. You can, however, make desktop launchers, or find other ways to execute the eject command. If using Gnome “Classic” or KDE, you can still add eject and close buttons to your panel.


While the eject command obviously ejects the disc tray, many are stumped when it comes to the opposite: a command to close the disc tray. It is quite simply eject -t, but you can get the equivalent and much more if you install the package cdtool. It is a collection of command-line tools for your disc drive, and the one you are after is cdclose. You can then make a launcher for your panel (for either eject -t or cdclose) to add next to your eject button.

For those interested in some extra tools for their disc drive, all the commands you get in the cdtool metapackage are:

cdctrl   cdloop   cdadd   cdown   cdtool2cddb
cdplay   cdpause   cdstop   cdclose   cdeject
cdir   cdinfo   cdreset   cdvolume   cdshuffle

To find out a bit of info on usage on each, just enter the command in a terminal, followed by a space and -h (for Help). To close the disc tray, all you need is the cdclose command.

To install, either open Synaptic and mark cdtool for installation, or paste the following into a terminal:

sudo apt-get install cdtool


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