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Posts Tagged ‘Natty Narwhal’

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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Thunar is the default file manager in Xfce, and happily runs in Ubuntu. But besides being a great backup in case Nautilus plays up, the reason I’ve always told people to install it is the awesome Bulk Rename app that comes along with it.

Now, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already got it installed, but you probably noticed you get the following error trying to launch the app after upgrading your system to 11.04 Natty Narwhal:

Error: Failed to execute child process “/usr/lib/thunar/ThunarBulkRename” (No such file or directory)

Basically, there are two errors causing this, being not only the wrong path specified, but also the name of the command. If you look at the properties of the launcher, you’ll see the path /usr/lib/thunar is specified, with the command being ThunarBulkRename %F.

All you need to do is change the command to Thunar -B (no need to specify a path), and your launcher will work again.

Additional Info:

You may see mention online of the Thunar plugin thunar-bulk-rename, but you can ignore that, as the renamer is now part of the thunar-sbr package, which should be installed by default along with Thunar. If you don’t find Bulk Rename in Applications > Accessories, then run sudo apt-get install thunar-sbr in a terminal.

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While Ubuntu‘s new Unity interface has been designed for less clutter, and generally makes getting to common tasks a breeze, many have found navigating through the rest a bit of a nightmare. While everything is supposed to be more simplified, some would argue having all your launchers accessible via categories in the old Applications menu was actually simpler and quicker.

But you can actually have the best of both worlds, so if you’re avoiding Unity and using the Classic Desktop simply for access to the Applications and System (or Wine) menus, read ahead.

While you can’t actually add the old menu system to the Unity panel, since it is not gnome-panel that is running, there is actually an “indicator” available for Unity that will do the same thing. So while this new (or old?) menu won’t replace Unity‘s “Dash“, you will see an Ubuntu icon in your system tray’s notification area. Click that, and you will see the old familiar Applications menu, with all the categories you’re used to.

To install Classic Menu Indicator, enter the following commands in sequence in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:diesch/testing

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install classicmenu-indicator

Once installed, hit Alt+F2 and enter classicmenu-indicator as the command to run.

Apart from easy access to all your launchers, you’ll find your old System menu is there too, split into the familiar Preferences and Administration sub-menus.

More importantly for many, you will also have your old Wine menu back for running Windows programs. Unity‘s Dash menu system does not currently show a Wine section, and finding those apps can be near-impossible, but classicmenu-indicator will rectify this.

If you find that this menu/indicator does not automatically run upon your next boot (which it should), simply add classicmenu-indicator to your Startup Applications, and it will be forced to load from then onwards (it should already be in there, so check it isn’t disabled).

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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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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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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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