Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is an operating system built by a worldwide team of expert developers. It contains all the applications you need: a web browser, office suite, media apps, instant messaging and much more. Ubuntu is an open-source alternative to Windows and Microsoft Office.

Why Ubuntu?
There are many different reasons to install Ubuntu, the three main reasons that made me switch are:
  • Free and open source software allows me to be in control of my system and data.
  • Ubuntu is free, as in cost, and allows me to have a powerful operating system for very little money.
  • Ubuntu runs faster, looks prettier and fits my lifestyle more than any other operating system I've used.

This site and its articles are not intended to convert people to using Ubuntu. Rather, it's designed to help people that have already decided to switch in running Ubuntu on their Dell Mini/Vostro and other similar netbooks.

Why might Ubuntu not be right for me?
Ubuntu has its share of features, as well as faults. Ubuntu is a GNU/Linux system and it is not an Windows clone or replacement. Using Ubuntu will require you to learn a new operating system. It will take time, effort and possibly having to deal with a few failures. If you are unwilling or don't have time to learn a new operating system, Ubuntu may not be right for you.

Microsoft products like Internet Explorer and Office are not designed to work in Ubuntu. Ubuntu offers full featured alternatives, but if you need the functionality of a Windows-specific program, Ubuntu may not be right for you.

Adobe's Flash Player does not work in Ubuntu as well as it does in other operating systems. This is not Ubuntu's fault; Adobe continually releases updates to its Flash Linux Player, but it has its problems. If playing Flash games, watching fullscreen Flash video and other flash intensive web applications are a necessity, Ubuntu may not be right for you.

Which version of Ubuntu should I install?
I always recommend installing the current version of Ubuntu. Every April and October, Ubuntu releases an updated version of their operating system and the site switches its focus to that version.

- a video detailing the Ubuntu release schedule

Installing older versions of Ubuntu is not discouraged. If you would like to install an older version of Ubuntu, there are guides that detail installation, setup, workarounds, and release-specific articles for past versions of Ubuntu's operating system.
Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex
Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope
Ubuntu 10.4 Karmic Koala

Should I install Ubuntu Netbook Remix or the Standard Ubuntu Desktop?
Ubuntu released a version of its operating system with a special user interface designed for netbooks called Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It is a beautiful and intelligently designed interface that helps compensate for the smaller screen size on a netbook. Its clutter-based launcher makes finding and starting programs intuitive and easy. It draws windows maximized for easy reading/usability and utilizes a specially-designed window switching applet to manage these maximized windows. Personally, I have been a fan of UNR since it was first released.

- a brief overview of Ubuntu Netbook Remix

The standard Ubuntu desktop works perfectly on netbooks. I personally use the standard Ubuntu desktop and enjoying having a more conventional desktop experience on my netbook. The small screen size is not an issue and windows can be manually maximized for easier readability and usability.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix and the standard Ubuntu desktop are 100% compatible with one other. Just because you have chosen to install one does not mean you cannot easily switch install/use the other and you do not have to reinstall Ubuntu to switch.

How do I install Ubuntu?
First you will need to download a disc image of Ubuntu. This comes in the form of an "ISO" file, which most CD/DVD burners will burn to a blank CD or DVD. You can download the latest version of Ubuntu from www.ubuntu.com. Once you can downloaded an Ubuntu image, you can either burn it to a CD and use an external DVD/CD drive to install Ubuntu, or use a USB flash drive to install Ubuntu. You can find help for putting the Ubuntu disc image onto a USB flash drive here.

Once you have downloaded and prepared your install medium you can reference the above Ubuntu user guides for help installing Ubuntu.

I need help with Dell's default Mini 0S Ubuntu 8.04 version of Ubuntu.
Unfortunately, Dell Mini OS based on Ubuntu 8.04 is not supported on www.ubuntumini.com. I replaced Dell's version with Ubuntu proper within minutes of receiving my machines. Dell's version of Ubuntu uses a different architecture and software repositories. Many of www.ubuntumini.com guides and fixes will not work on machines running Dell's Mini OS. If you need support for Dell's Mini OS you can try contacting Dell or posting your questions on the Ubuntu Mini Google Group. Some group members still run Mini OS and might be able to answer your questions.

I installed Ubuntu what should I do next?
Use it. Learning a new operating system takes a lot of work. It's like learning to walk, you're going to stumble, fall, and maybe break something. The guides and the Ubuntu Mini Google Group are there to help if you have any questions.

Also, try the General Ubuntu User Guide article. It spotlights great software, tweaks and other helpful how-tos for customizing your netbook.

Help! Why I can't play MP3's or a video?
Ubuntu does not come with non-free codec support out of the box for many common, but non-free codecs. These include MP3, H.264 (currently used on Youtube), and AAC (iTune's music format). To enable non-free codec support you must install the codec packages individually or install the metapackage ubuntu-restricted-extras.

Help! Why can't I play Flash or Java?
Ubuntu does not come with support for Flash or Java out of the box. To enable flash or Java support you must install the packages individually or install the metapackage ubuntu-restricted-extras.

Your guide says to use the terminal. What's a terminal?
A terminal is a program that can access Ubuntu's command-line interface (CLI), a tool for interacting with the operating system or software by typing commands to perform specific tasks. In Ubuntu, the default terminal is called "gnome-terminal". You can find it under Application>Accessories>Terminal.

Help, I'm having a problem not covered in this FAQ or on the www.ubuntu.com site.
This is why we have the Ubuntu Mini Google Group. It has over 600 members that can answer your Ubuntu-related questions that aren't covered on the site.

I love the site, how can I help?
Leave comments, join the Google Group or donate.

Some of My Favorite Articles & Guides:
- Customize Firefox for Netbooks
- Install common media codecs (allows you to play mp3, avi, mpeg, mov, mp4, Flash & Java)
- Install DVD playback and restricted codecs
- Use Aircraft Manager to turn wifi & bluetooth on and off (saves battery when not in use)
- Installing Skype
- Install the newest Flash Player (improved Flash performance)
- Speed up your Ubuntu update downloads
- Become a Command Line Commando

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.

Creating a LiveUSB Drive: Installing Ubuntu Without a CD/DVD Drive

To install Ubuntu without a CD/DVD drive you will need to create LiveUSB drive. A LiveUSB drive is a USB flash drive containing the Ubuntu install .iso.

Like the Ubuntu install discs, a LiveUSB drive allows you to try Ubuntu in a "Live" environment before permanently installing it onto your hard drive.

To Create a LiveUSB drive you will need:
1. A compatible usb flash drive, over 2GB is recommenced but 1GB sticks do work. A list of compatible drives (This is not a compete compatibility list).
2. An Ubuntu .iso. An .iso is just a image of a DVD/CD. You can download the latest version of Ubuntu from www.ubuntu.com.
3. A PC running Windows or Ubuntu.

On Windows:
Use unetbootin to make your LiveUSB disk. You can can download the .exe from sourceforge.net here. Unetbootin supports all major Ubuntu releases and can download the correct Ubuntu .iso for you.

On Ubuntu:
Use Ubuntu's USB Startup Disk Creator to make your LiveUSB disk.
To install it, in a terminal type:
sudo apt-get install usb-creator-gtk
usb creator
- Once installed you can find it under System>Administration>USB Startup Disk Creator
- USB Startup Disk Creator in Ubuntu 8.04 does not work reliably. Using 8.04 to create your LiveUSB drive is not recommended.

Once you have installed unetbooitn or USB Startup Disk Creator.
- Plug the flash USB disk into your computer.
- Select you Ubuntu iso image.
- Select your usb disk, formatting if necessary (disk should be formatted to fat32).
- Make your startup disk.

The biggest issue readers encounter in creating a LiveUSB disk come from the drives themselves. Not all drives are compatible and drives with bad sectors often lead to install errors.

If you need help, refer to the Ubuntu Community Documentation on Installation from a USB disk or the Ubuntu Mini Google Group

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.

Ubuntu Restricted Extras: Installing Multimedia Support, Adobe Flash, Sun's Java Plugin and Microsoft Fonts

ubuntu-restricted-extras installs support for MP3 playback and decoding, support for various other audio formats (GStreamer plugins), Microsoft fonts, Java runtime environment, the Adobe Flash plugin, LAME (to create compressed audio files), and DVD playback. This does not install libdvdcss2, and will not let you play encrypted DVDs. To enable encrypted DVD playback see the installing Medibuntu guide.

You can choose to install the ubuntu-restricted-extras metapackage, which will install all the packages listed below, or chose to install the packages individually.

To install the metapackage, in a terminal type:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Audio/Video Codecs
gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly (GStreamer plugins from the "ugly" set)
gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad (GStreamer plugins from the "bad" set)
- these package install mp3, DVD, DTS decoding, MPEG, MPEG1, MPEG2, and various other multimedia support.

gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg (FFmpeg plugin for GStreamer)
libmp4v2-0 (MP4 aka AAC library)
libavcodec52 (library to encode decode multimedia streams)
libavformat52 (ffmpeg file format library)
libpostproc51 (postproc shared libraries)
libswscale0 (ffmpeg video scaling library)

Sun's Java Plugin
sun-java6-plugin (Sun's JavaPlug-in, Java SE 6)

Adobe Flash Player
flashplugin-installer (Adobe's Flash Player plugin installer)
- this installs the 32-bit version of Flash. If you want to install Flash on a 64-bit machine, install the other packages manually and follow this guide for installing the 64-bit Flash Player in Ubuntu/Debian.

Microsoft Fonts
(Installer for Microsoft TrueType core fonts)

unrar (Unarchiver for .rar files, non-free version)

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.

Medibuntu: Installing Encypted DVD Support & w32codecs

Medibuntu (Multimedia, Entertainment & Distractions In Ubuntu) is a repository of Debian packages that cannot be included into the Ubuntu distribution for legal reasons like copyright, license or patent restrictions or for geographical variations in legislation.

Medibuntu's repository comprises two components: free and non-free.
The free component contains Free software, whose source code is distributed under an open source licence. Software in the free component is not distributed by Ubuntu because of legal issues with that software in certain countries. Some software—such as Amarok and Kaffeine—is distributed by Ubuntu but with certain functionality taken away, again because of legal issues. Medibuntu distributes this kind of software with that functionality in place. The non-free component contains software whose source code is not distributed under an open source licence. “Non-Free” refers to freedom and not to price. Software in the non-free component is not distributed by Ubuntu because the software's licence restricts how it can be distributed. This software is usually not needed for general use, as open source alternatives are usually available.

Install Medibuntu for Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
Install Medibuntu for Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope
Install Medibuntu for Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibexa

Packages available in Medibuntu:
aacgain (lossless mp4 normalizer with statistical analysis)
aacplusenc (high-Efficency AAC/AAC+ Encoder)
acroread-fonts (fonts for Acrobat reader)
alsa-firmware (contains firmware for ALSA devices)
amrnb (floating-point Adaptive Multi-Rate/AMR speech codec)
amrwb (adaptive Multi-Rate - Wideband/AMR-WB speech codec)
apport-hooks-medibuntu (allows users to
generate crash reports against Medibuntu packages and submit them to the
Medibuntu bugtracker)
gizmo5 (A VoIP software)
googleearth-data (Google Earth - data files)
googleearth (Google Earth)
hot-babe (a GTK-based monitoring app)
ices (streaming source for Icecast 2)
libamrnb3 (floating-point Adaptive Multi-Rate/AMR speech codec)
libamrnb-dev (development files for libamrnb3)
libamrwb3 (adaptive Multi-Rate - Wideband/AMR-WB speech codec)
libavcodec-extra-52 (ffmpeg codec library)
libavdevice-extra-52 (ffmpeg device handling library)
libavfilter-extra-0 (ffmpeg video filtering library)
libavformat-extra-52 (ffmpeg file format library)
libavutil-extra-49 (ffmpeg utility library)
libdvdcss2 (simple foundation for reading encrypted DVDs)
libdvdcss-dev (simple foundation for reading encrypted DVD)
libswscale-extra-0 (ffmpeg video scaling library)
medibuntu-keyring (contains the repository key for Medibuntu)
realplayer (RealPlayer 10 based on the open source Helix player)
rmconverter (Convert Real Media to AVI, MPEG, VCD, DVD,& WMV)
w32codecs (Proprietary codec binaries, i386 version)
w64codecs(Proprietary codec binaries, x86_64 version)

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Install Skype

Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to Skype users and to free-of-charge numbers are free, while calls to other landlines and mobile phones can be made for a fee. Skype also features instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing.

Skype 2.1 Beta for Linux

This guide will show you how to add the official Skype repository to your apt-get source list and allow you to download the newest version of Skype as they become available.

In a terminal type:
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
- this will allow you to edit your source list

Add this line to the bottom of that file:
deb http://download.skype.com/linux/repos/debian/ stable non-free
- save and exit the file

Refresh your sources, in a terminal type:
sudo apt-get update

Then in a terminal type:
sudo apt-get install skype
- to install Skype

You can also download the Skype .deb directly
- if you are using Ubuntu 64-bit this repository will not work for you, you will have to install Skype manually from the website.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lucidor eBook Reader

Lucidor is a computer program for reading and handling e-books. Lucidor supports e-books in the EPUB file format, and catalogs in the OPDS format.


Lucidor provides functionality to:
  • Read EPUB e-books.
  • Organize a collection of e-books in a local bookcase.
  • Search for and download e-books from the internet
  • Convert web feeds into e-books.
Download Lucidor
- once installed you can find it under Application>Offic>Lucidor

lucidor google book search
- Lucidor searching Google Books

I found a lot of excellent classics from Project Gutenberg. It is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. As of December 2009, Project Gutenberg claimed over 30,000 items in its collection.

lucidor pg http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
- reading Project Gutenburg's edition of Sherlock Holmes

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.