Archive for April, 2010

Openbox Freedom Day

South Africa celebrated Freedom Day, Tuesday 27th April– a national holiday to commemorate the first democratic election. So I spent the day attempting to squeeze freedom out of my aging 1.8ghz PC with  1Gb Ram.

The solution to achieving the kind of brute-force computing and speed I need in order to have a faster Web experience was to use a different window manager. Creating an Openbox session which free’s up  RAM allows my heavyweight Firefox browser to access more computer resources and hence greater freedom. Less caching means the browser can live totally in RAM, which is what the programme was designed to do.

A minimal environment in which the browser and associated applications take center stage delivers a lot more speed than my current Gnome setup. What’s more, it is gnome-friendly  — All my apps just work.

Openbox is still alive –a continuation of the discontinued Blackbox project, a wm which only appears to live on amongst Windows modders. Finding lightweight alterntives to some basic tools took up most my morning and reading through code to implement the decisions and choices wasted the rest of my day, but the end result is probably a lot similar to what is going on in CrunchBang Linux world.

Openbox with Cairo dock

Window manager: Openbox

Dock: Cairo-dock

Panel: Fbpanel,  Lxpanel, or  XFCE4-panel

File manager: Rox-filer

Package Additions: OInstall

Image-viewer: Feh

Wallpaper manager: Nitrogen

Obconf Theme: Simply Aubergine

Compositor: Xcompmgr

3D Desktop support: 3ddesktop, brightside

Stats: Conky

TODO: Top panel is still a work in progress. None of the candidates do the job well. Issues like menu and icon placement all make the job of installation difficult.

Find way to save the desktop layout on logout. Am busy downloading Oblogout which might fix the problem

Find decent way to load conky at startup. Current configuration fails and it needs to be started manually.


Planet Openbox

Debian Openbox page

Ubuntuforums Openbox HOWTO

Openbox Guide


An Openbox2 FAQ

Gentoo OpenBox FAQ

3DDesktop Package

3DDesktop HOWTO

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Practical Open Source
Download E-book

“Can Professors Teach Open Source?” The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, TeachingOpenSource.org has written a book that work pretty much in the same way as any other open source software project – improvements, technically known as patches, are very much welcome.

The textbook has a foreword by Greg DeKoenigsberg, a Senior Community Architect at Red Hat. He was the founder and first chairman of the Fedora Project Board, the governance body for the Fedora Project, an open source software project.

The textbook team hopes to change the scenario in the academe wherein the computer science professors feel limited in teaching open source, especially when they have not been doing a lot of it, themselves. It is noteworthy, however, that universities and students are getting increasingly more exposed to open source.

The writers hope for this textbook to guide “a whole generation of students who want to learn how to become better software engineers, the open source way.” The open source textbook team has a solid reason for encouraging the academe to keep up with open source developments and thereby influence its students into doing the same. In the words of DeKoenigsberg, “The skills required to succeed in an open source software project are the exact same skills required to succeed in any large software project.”

This textbook is not only for those in the academe to patch and use. It is for everyone interested in open source and has a desire to contribute to the success of open source projects.

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Great meme doing the rounds in the Ubuntu community. Apparently started by Jono Bacon. Since I am a relative newcomer to Linux, I’ll open it up a bit.

My very first desktop PC had Windows 3.1 - the 32bit version thankfully, a whopping 20MB harddrive and about 512kb of ram

I spent a large part of the nineties carting around a Powerbook 180 loaded with System 7, with a 33mhz cpu, 80mb harddrive and 4mb of memory.

My pc today - Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala on 1.8ghz system with 700Gb hd and 1Gb ram

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Picked this tip up from http://ubuntuguide.net

I used to click Places->Home Folder to browse my home folder and find out something by navigate in this nautilus file manager.Here’s a quick-way to open folders in ubuntu desktop which will save a lot of time.
Just press / key in your ubuntu desktop,and a “Open Location” window pop up.
then,press enter to launch root folder or type ~/ to open home folder as well as Alt+Home key combination,/mnt/ to open mnt/folder:
In this “open location” window,you can also type following:
Shows Computer, lists the disk partitions
Shows the network locations
Lists the fonts installed on the system
Opens the CD Writing Window.
Lists the themes available for the Gnome Desktop
Gives access to system settings
samba – windows network

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Shift spaces with Ubuntu

There is so much happening in the World of Ubuntu, we often forget about the tools which are assisting us. Here are some excellent pieces of browser code I have come across in my journeys across the Net. They all utilise Firefox addons and/or Greasemonkey.

ShiftSpace Project



On my wishlist:

A user script for downloading from ccMixter

A user script which will replace all proprietory links with open-source links.

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Octoshape is an interesting P2P video plugin with Linux support, also used by CNN and other companies. At the moment it is still just an executable file which needs a script in order to run, so the support for Ubuntu has yet to be implemented. If you want to try it out, give it a bash and see how it flys. Then figure out a way to package it properly. I know it is something I could do, when I get round to reading the debian packaging manual.

Unfortunately the plugin is not GPL’d —  there is a fairly lenient  EULA which gives users a non-exclusive license for private use, and since this also entails interacting with other computers and users in order to create a P2P network, I don’t see how the license is actually enforcable. Give it a read, before you do anything rash like releasing it via a ppa, since you might have to ask the company for permission.

A simple mozilla plugin would help viewers deprived of bandwidth and living in the third world. Yes, P2P is a way out of the censorship model.

Download and installation instructions

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Google via the command line

Sometimes opening a terminal is a lot faster than opening a browser. If you like me, then you will enjoy having some extra supercow powers at the command line.

Here is how to set up Google on the command line.

1. Install the surfraw essentials

apt-get install surfraw surfraw-extra w3m

2. Setup surfraw

sudo gedit /etc/surfraw.conf

Change the following:




3. Now you have three choices:

A)  You can stick with the default action, which is:

sr google <subject>

B) You can add an alias to your bashrc

gedit /home/<user>/.bashrc

ADD under aliases section:

alias google="sr google"


C) You can add the surfraw ELVIS   dirctory to yout PATH variable

usually /usr/lib/surfraw/ or /usr/local/lib/surfraw/

eg. PATH=/usr/lib/surfraw/:$PATH

This is probably not such a good option since it will also give you instant access to the 80 or so “Elvi” which are  in the surfraw directory and part of the Surfraw suite. Since  some of the commands might conflict with commands already on your system,  we might want to first check to see which Surfraw “Elvi” commands and powers you need and which ones you don’t.

Remove the ELVIS  you don’t need by deleting or moving the ELVIS from the /usr/lib/surfraw/ and placing it in /usr/local/lib/surfraw/ or vice versa. You really only want one surfraw directory in your path!!!

That’s right ELVIS isn’t dead, he just lives on as the Shell Users’ Revolutionary Front Against the World wide web.

You can still command ELVIS to do your bidding.

More info

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