end of grey geek/ubuntu learner

It’s with regret that I intend to close this site. During a more innocent time it was fun to have several websites for different interests, but in a more cynical age, when spam and malware are the order of the day, the effort needed just to keep websites clean and its components up to date has become too much.
So anything I want to write about Ubuntu or open source will henceforth appear on my personal blog www.philipcasey.com/blog-news.

I hoped this site has helped a few over the years.

All best,

The new LibreOffice flat icon set

LibreOffice Flat icons
LibreOffice flat icons

I love LibreOffice and it has continued to serve me very well, but its look has seemed dated for quite some time. But, praise be, we are to have a new flat icon set.

In fact I’ve been using it for a while now and love it, and (here’s where I may be kidding myself) I’ve found it easier to use – certainly more pleasant to use.

Only problem is, new updates to LibreOffice from Ubuntu overwrite it.

However the set can be quickly reinstalled using code via http://www.webupd8.org
Try the new flat icon set for LibreOffice in Ubuntu

Installing Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview

App-dev-tablet-GoMobileThis is, if you like, an excellent noob step by step by TechHarvest through the installation of Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview on a limited number of phones – see the wiki for the list, but some brave souls have installed it on lower-spec models such as the HTC Desire S, and it looks very promising. Probably not to be recommended if it’s your day to day phone.

If you have 25 minutes to spare, this looks like an encouraging preview of what it will be like to install the real thing in a few months time.


TechHarvest TechHarvest·448 videos

Published on 20 Apr 2013

This is a step by step process showing you how to install Ubuntu on your Nexus device. Be careful though! There’s always the possibility of bricking your phone. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!

Here’s the step by step process as outlined by the Ubuntu Wiki:

Good luck & enjoy!

Install Sigil on Ubuntu


I’m grateful to iloveubuntu for drawing my attention to the latest version of Sigil and showing how to install it in Ubuntu. Sigil, by the way, is a powerful multi-platform open-source EPUB editor. Paste each of the following lines, singly, into your terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:rgibert/ebook

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sigil

I’ve just toyed with Sigil as yet but it looks interesting and capable.


Installing Celtx in Ubuntu

I haven’t used Celtx in a while, and when I went to use it again I was flummoxed as to how to install it in Ubuntu 12.04 (I’m using gnome-shell).

And then I found this on the Celtx forum, posted by DaSaint

It worked for him, and it worked a dream for me. Fortunately I had a copy of Celtx in my Downloads folder, as the Celtx site has recently changed and requires a sign-up.

Here’s DaSaint’s instructions.

Re: Package CELTX for Ubuntu?

Postby DaSaint » Wed May 02, 2012 3:37 pm
I am sucesfully running Celtx in Ubuntu 12.04 (and previously in 11.10.

Here is what I did.
I copied the celtx directory in my /usr/local folder.
You will need root access for this but if you go in your terminal and you type:
sudo nautilus
then you get nautilus filemanager with root access.

Copy the celtx folder and paste it in the /usr/local folder.

Then I used the program alacarte in Ubuntu. It’s a menu editor and allows you to create menus.
I made a new item with the following settings:
Type: Application
Name: Celtx
Commandline: /usr/local/celtx/celtx
Comment: Screenwriting

Then I clicked the “spring” icon and went looking for the Celtx icon that can be found in:

Then in the Dash i searched for Celtx and opened.
And in the sidebar I right clicked the celtx icon and clicked “Keep in starter”

Anyway, works for me.

Just one thing: alacarte is now called Main Menu, at least on my system.

Ubuntu for Android and The Boot to Gecko Project

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to justify my interest in technology to myself, but this past week has seen two developments which have made me sit up.

What I had hoped to live to see, but thought I probably wouldn’t was the Mozilla Seabird concept, the video of which was floating around about a year and a half ago

Mozilla Seabird 2D


Uploaded by BiIIyMay on Sep 19, 2010

Read about the project at http://www.MozillaLabs.com/seabird
Designed by Billy May: http://www.Billy-May.com

The kind of thing a grey geek might have dreams about.

Then this week, at Barcelona, Mozilla announced Boot to Gecko.
I was going to include a video of the developers because their cosmopolitan, youthful idealism is refreshing, and also because it gives some idea of just how exciting this project is. Imagine, a phone which does most of what an iPhone does for 10% of the price of an iPhone. That’s what I call revolutionary. Not only will young people (and old geeks like myself) be able to afford such a phone, they will be able to see (and change?) the source code of what makes their phone work. That way they can learn coding fast and well.

Sadly, their video is private, but you can see the video at this link http://hacks.mozilla.org/2012/02/mozillas-boot-to-gecko-the-web-is-the-platform

The “Boot to Gecko” engineering team talks about the project and their involvement on extending the capabilities of the Web to mobile devices.

Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko Mobile Operating System


Uploaded by muktware on Mar 1, 2012

We bring to you the complete demo of Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko from Mobile World Congress. Subscribe to our channel to stay updated with latest technology news.

So what about the dock we saw in the Sunbird video? Well, there’re no pico projectors in this video, but maybe this is the interim step. Welcome to

Ubuntu For Android Demo

Uploaded by AndroidCentral on Feb 27, 2012

Phil gets a look at Ubuntu for Android at Mobile World Congress

The Boot to Gecko project isn’t that dreadful word a product yet, only a demonstration, but it seems that phones will be available before the end of 2012. And the downloadable source, for geeks grey and otherwise, will also be available.
Some commenters have assumed that because it uses web technologies, that it will depend on a live connection to the web, but as I understand it, the apps you have on your phone, your address book, dialer, sms etc will stay on your phone. Things like games will stream from the web.

And I understand that Boot to Gecko, a geek term if ever there was one, will probably not survive as the name of the technology.

Seabird, anyone?
Or even Gaia?

Update: you can download Gaia here, but for the moment the install looks fearsomely complicated, so only try it if you have the hardware and the know-how. See Building B2G for Samsung Galaxy S2

Thus Spake Zarathustra on your smartphone, anyone?

What to do with your sad old android phone, lying in a drawer?

Samsung Spica i5700
Samsung Spica i5700

In my case it’s a Samsung Spica i5700 (see picture), which was the cheapest I could get in 2010. I replaced it with the Geeksphone Zero last year, but it’s still a nice phone with a nice screen (which actually appears bigger than that of the Zero, but isn’t). I discovered quite by accident that I liked reading books on it.

It has no SIM card, but doesn’t need one to be a dedicated e-reader (and music player, and photo album, perhaps, when I get time). All it needs is an SD card (I bought a cheap one on ebay) and wi-fi, which it has, plus decent book reading software.

Aldiko 2 does the latter job just fine.

I use it mostly to download public domain books, as (a) there’s a lot of classics I haven’t read, and (b) I like to buy hardcopy contemporary books. I actually have hard copies of many of the classics I’ve downloaded – so why bother?

Indeed, but why go hunting for a book when I have an electronic copy to hand? And now that books by Joyce and James Stephens, and Virginia Woolf are in the public domain, it’s nice to dip in quickly and read a few pages of books one knows quite well, perhaps, just to relax after a long day.

I’m not sure if I’ll manage Moby Dick or War and Peace, or Proust (none of which I have managed to finish in hard copy either, to my shame), but it’s nice to have them handy. Just in case. As for re-reading The Prince, or stories from Dubliners, well, it’s just perfect. The Book of Tea is delightful bedtime e-reading, I assure you.

Another reason to stick to public domain is that I haven’t got my head around DRM. If I publish another book, and I hope I will, no doubt I’ll have to face up to its rights and wrongs, but for the moment I’m shying away.

Aldiko taps into a number of e-bookstores for both paid and free material, and Feedbooks is excellent for public domain titles. If I ever get around to purchasing ebooks, I’ll no doubt do it at Feedbooks. Hosting public domain books is an excellent way to promote loyalty, I would say.

I have no fears for hard copy books. They’ll survive, just like cinema and radio. They’ll just have to learn to live with their e-family.

Meanwhile, Thus Spake Zarathustra on your smartphone, anyone?

[and speaking of meanwhile, I got two spam about e-books while writing this]


Today is not tomorrow (or, how to beat Amazon) – via @dermotcasey on twitter

gnome-shell on Ubuntu 10.10

gnome-shell on my computer
I’ve been bothering myself looking at endless videos about the new Ubuntu 11.10. I’m a year behind, on 10.10, so I’ve been torn between upgrading and the work involved in a new install, not to mention the work I’m supposed to be doing… It’s been an eventful time in my life and time has been limited and energy even more so.

The thing about it is that the pictures and videos I’ve seen of Unity are not energizing – not to me at any rate, and I know it has its many admirers and converts. However, I’ve been taken by the Gnome 3 gnome-shell on 11.10, and have watched several videos with pleasure, so I was tempted.

And then I discovered that I could install an earlier version of gnome-shell from the Software Center in about 20 seconds. How could I have missed that?

So it was back onto the web to hunt for videos and articles.

First of all see How to Install and use Gnome Shell in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

And then this video, for example, How to install Gnome Shell in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat.

It looked great and I was in an edgy mood (probably a bit reckless) and I installed it from the Software Center, and added

Hit ALT + F2,run gconf-editor, and type the command

gnome-shell –replace

Have a look at the further tweaks suggested from 1’24 on the video.

It’s not the fancy gnome-shell you’ll find in Ubuntu 11.10, but I love it.

gnome-shell on my Ubuntu 10.10 click to enlarge

gnome-shell on my Ubuntu 10.10. Click to enlarge.

Ironically I couldn’t find the Software Center once I’d rebooted. Click on your name, System Preferences and you’ll find it in there. You can right click and make it a favourite in Activities/Applications if you wish.

The latest version supported in Ubuntu 10.10 is 2.32, apparently.
You can also install the full Gnome 3 gnome-shell, but that’s a bit more complicated.

We’ll see how I get on…

Change of Site Title

Grey Geek Looking at Ubuntu4Beginners becomes TuxGarage! made me think that my old Ubuntu Learner title, while still valid insofar as I’m still learning, is a little out of date as there are already a few entries on Android. So without any promises of in-depth articles – this will still be a learn-as-I-go site, welcome to The Ubuntu Android.

The Grey Geek
Android, Ubuntu, WordPress: Learning by mistakes

No jokes at the back, please. I know who you are ;>)

Dissing Unity

Uploaded by celebrateubuntu on May 24, 2011

I finally got a chance to download a fresh Ubuntu 11.04 and to give it a whirl.

It must be said that Ubuntu has done an excellent job with its download page, and burning the CD is a cinch. Previously I felt obliged to match checksum etc, but Ubuntu seems to take care of that now.

It takes a while for the CD/DVD to load but its worth the wait as it brings you to two simple options: Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu. I chose Try Ubuntu as I’m not ready to install, not having the time to cross-check that everything is backed up.

My idea of beauty is important to me and I suspect most others, having as we do to look at a desktop for most of the day. Beauty is subjective of course, and for some, utility is beauty, and the Unity launcher probably scores highly for such people and I respect that. However, to my mind I haven’t seen such ugliness on a desktop since the early versions of Windows.(tm).

Aside from the Unity launcher, Ubuntu comes with a number of handsome desktop images, but sells itself short by presenting us with those awful purples (previously awful browns). May I humbly suggest at least a button which says Change Desktop, as it might take a newbie a while to figure out that it takes a right-click to access the desktop images.

But to get back to the Unity launcher, not only is it ugly, but there’s no need for it. Clicking on the Ubuntu logo brings up a number of aesthetically pleasing shortcuts, so all we need really is the option of getting rid of the sidebar and hey presto, all is well.

Incidentally, it seems it is possible to have Docky and I presume Cairo. See this telling image at Leafage, which contrasts the pleasantness of Docky with the clunkiness of the Unity launcher. Moreover, the former makes the latter superfluous.

This is just my opinion, of course. Decide for yourself if you haven’t already by downloading an iso.

UPDATE: Showed a friend Ubuntu from the live cd, which I’d used to rescue her files from her virus-trashed Windows PC. She was mightily impressed, both with the Unity Launcher AND the purple colour. A subjective disser am I…

First Look at the Ubuntu Desktop Unity Environment at tombuntu.com

Upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04?

Hmm, not too sure that I like this new Unity desktop. I’ve hunted around for a few videos on upgrading, and I like this one – it’s pretty comprehensive, whether you’re contemplating using Ubuntu or a long-time user but still not expert like me. Quidsup doesn’t like the fact that you can’t move the Unity bar either, and now that I’ve become used to the Cairo Dock it looks restrictive. I wonder could you use both?

with thanks to Quidsup. Quidsup’s Youtube Channel

Upgrade Heaven

firefoxlogo-largeI was resolved to wait until both Firefox 4 and Libre Office were included in Ubuntu 11.04, but when I was too tired to work yesterday and came across a method to download the new Firefox 4 safely I went for it.

Install Firefox 4 In Ubuntu 10.04 / 10.10 Via PPA Repository – The Proper Way
Add the Firefox 4 PPA and install FF4 in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat or 10.04 Lucid Lynx using the commands below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install firefox ubufox

[thanks to WEB UPD8]

It went very well and to my mind Firefox 4 is a fabulous upgrade, with the new default Tango them blending beautifully with my Ubuntu theme. I didn’t think I’d like the tabs on top, but I do. There were a few quirks. There was no refresh icon that I could see, and as I’m right -handed, the home icon was very awkwardly placed on the right. However, it was simple to resolve. On the Navigation Toolbar rightclick and choose Customize. Drag the home icon into it, and then drag it to where you want it. The refresh icon is in there too, so just drag and drop.

I’m one of those people who don’t like the Google search. If you don’t either, just drag it into the open Customize box. Gone. But here’s a tip. Just type g into your url box followed by your query, and up comes google with the result. Much better! eg

g Ubuntu Learner.

I was startled however to find that an add-on I rely on, namely Zotero, was incompatible with Firefox 4. Fortunately, you can now install the updated version directly from the Zotero website, which is pretty nice. I added the Zotero Open Office.org integration extension, but I’m still not sure how that works.

Once you’re happy with all of that, you can have some fun with Firefox 4’s new html 5 features at Mozilla’s Web O'(pen) Wonder – not all of them work without webgl, but The Planatorium, for example, is pretty impressive.

A couple of other add-ons were also incompatible, Foxclocks was the main one I was peeved about as I need a world clock, but I went for Simple Clocks instead – much lighter and does the job.
All of that worked so well, and I still didn’t feel like working, so I decided against my better judgment to get rid of Open Office and install LibreOffice. The fact that you have to get rid of Open Office before you install Libre Office makes it a bit complicated, so I’ll hand you over directly to the illustrated instructions at Softpedia. It downloads LibreOffice 3.3.1, and it’s for 10.04 as well as 10.10 and in my experience is painless.

I’m delighted with LibreOffice. It seems a lot faster, and everything just works, as far as I can see. I had always suspected I hadn’t OpenOffice installed correctly, but altogether LibreOffice feels more solid, and has some nice improvements like Title Page, and a search bar with up and down arrows. Well worth a whirl.

Needless to say, your Mac and Windows friends can download it too.

One final update: Shotwell, and I was delighted that I could finally Adjust the Date and Time. It had far too many photo folders listed with dates 2012-2017, but the adjustment does the trick and updates a folder by click on one photo within it and adjusting the date and time.

I’m a happy camper, with 11.04 to look forward to in a few weeks time!

La Dolce Vita dvd

I’ve been quite preoccupied for one reason or another since updating to Ubuntu 10.10, so I hadn’t got around to viewing a movie – or as we call it here in Ireland, a film, on my computer, my only means of playing one.

La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita

I’ve long been a fan of Fellini, and had bought a copy of La Dolce Vita some years ago, only to have it fouled up by a faulty dvd player. So some time earlier this year I purchased another copy.

But dammit, it wouldn’t play on 10.10. I had installed the Ubuntu-restricted-extras. I had installed libdvdread4,
libdvdnav4, libdvdcss2. No dice.

What was frustrating was that other dvds played fine. I tried Rebel Without a Cause, for example. No problem.

But still no La Dolce Vita.

I gave up.

But back fresh after the Yuletide break, I went hunting for the solution again, and I have sir_robert007 on the Ubuntu Forums to thank. Here’s his solution.

First open Synaptic Package Manager and install Ubuntu-restricted-extras. Then open up a terminal and execute the following:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

Make sure any media players you have open are closed or you may get errors.


But why does it take the genius of one user in 2010/2011 to play a dvd I’ve paid for – twice?

Penguspy Database for Linux Games


I’m not a gamer but I like what this guy, Kostas Mavropalias, has to say. In part:

’I am a gamer in a state of denial. I refuse to use windows anymore! I love the speed, stability and ease of use of my Linux pc and I also love games.
One of the hard parts in Linux gaming is to find the actual games!
Being a professional Designer & Developer, I decided to create Penguspy as my contribution to the Linux ecosystem.
The goal of this project is to act as a showcase of the best Linux games (not all games, just the good ones), raise awareness of Linux as a gaming platform and provide an easy way to install all these games, in an aesthetically pleasing, feature-rich and easy to use environment.
Penguspy is constantly been updated with more games and extra functionality. On the technical side, Penguspy is built in pure HTML 5 and CSS 3 awesomeness (more cool bits are implemented as browsers add support for them) and some JQuery magic on top of WordPress, so if you use an old browser it’s time to update!.

Penguspy [via Lifehacker Linux]

Speaking of html5, check out html5Games. When I say I’m not a gamer, I’m temporarily [ahem] hooked on one of its featured games, Agent 008 Ball, until, that is, I sink ’em all. Up to 1400 so far…

Upgrade to Ubuntu 10.10

ubuntu 1010Well, I had the same problem as the upgrade to 10.04. It’s obviously due to how I set up the /home partition in 10.04, but for the life of me I think think why.

As I didn’t format the /home partition, I fully expected my documents, music etc to be where I left them, but for some reason Ubuntu shifted them to File System/Home/Username.
Wish I knew why, but at least all my stuff was there.

The little things:

create a link to home folder on Desktop

ln -s ~ ~/Desktop/home

thanks to andii

Flash in fullscreen is choppy, completely white or crashes
solution at Firefox tutorials: Flash Issues & Solutions (via Ubuntu Forums Ubuntu 10.10 and Adobe Flash)

In terminal try these commands:
sudo mkdir /etc/adobe
echo “OverrideGPUValidation=true” >~/mms.cfg
sudo mv ~/mms.cfg /etc/adobe/

Restart the browser.
That solved it for me.

Move Window Buttons Back to the Right
It’s a matter of taste, right?

Press Alt+F2 to bring up the Run Application dialog box, enter “gconf-editor” in the text field, and click on Run.
In the Configuration Editor click on apps, then metacity, then general. Double-click button_layout to edit it.
I changed it to menu:minimize,maximize,close, but again it’s a matter of taste, so you can juggle them around to suit you.
Hat tip to How-to Geek, who has illustrations

Android sdk and Ubuntu

Eclipse Android Source
No time to write about this other than to say I downloaded it and played with it – before I had my phone upgraded to Android 2.1. I failed miserably to upgrade the phone (Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700) myself. It has to be done through windows, strangely enough, but though I was kindly loaned windows computers on two occasions, and followed instructions to the letter, it was one big fail.
Android DIY – How to Setup Android SDK on your Ubuntu/Debian Linux!
The next version of Ubuntu is coming soon

Link to Creative Commons licence photo credit: farblog, by Malcolm Rowe some rights reserved.

Meanwhile, I still haven’t got around to installing wordpress on 10.04, but I presume the instructions will still hold on 10.10.
Installing WordPress on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx


I’ve long been a fan of Songbird, but when I updated Ubuntu and tried to download a fresh Songbird, I discovered that Linux wasn’t supported any more. What a pity.
A community supported replacement, Nightingale, is on the cards and I look forward to that, but in the meantime, what to do?

With all due respect, I don’t really like Amarok or Rhythmbox. Lots of people do. It’s a personal thing. I settled on Banshee for a while and that is indeed a fine player, doing almost everything I wanted. But I’m a visual person and I like to change how a program looks and I couldn’t see any way of doing that. So I looked a bit closer at the Ubuntu Software Center and after several tries, found what is probably my ideal player, Jajuk.
As the website says, the software is designed to be intuitive and provide different visions of your collection. It also has skins.

It’s really easy to make a grey geek happy. Really.

Ubuntu 10.04 and Me

lucid lynxWell, I went ahead and did it, and a lovely beast it is.
In the end I was too lazy to make a separate /home partition beforehand and took a chance in making it during installation. It worked although not seamlessly, obviously due to something I left out. Once I had made the root / and /home partitions (reformat the first but not /home – leave that alone) during installation, and Ubuntu had looked after importing my home folder, I thought I was home and dry. But instead of my home folder named for my username, if you follow me, my ‘username’ folder was in a subfolder of a subfolder of Home. Don’t ask me how. Anyway, it was a matter of copying and pasting all my folders into where I wanted them.

I thought for a day or so that 10.04 had a serious bug on my computer. My screen dimmed and forced me to log in after five minutes of inactivity. It seemed to be replicated in other complaints on the web, mostly to do with a clash of compiz and firefox(???) so I took the plunge and filed a bug. Within minutes I got back this email from Andrea, who I believe is in northern Italy.

Hi and thanks for your bug report. I suspect the issue you are seeing is
caused by the screensaver. May you please open
System→Preferences→Screensaver and check the options here?

Never have I been so glad to discovered I’d been so foolish. One untick later, and I was free of all bugs. ;>) Andrea marked the ‘bug report’ as invalid, and all was well.

One other thing was annoying me. Maximize, minimize and close were on the left hand side of the screen, which is probably good for left-handers and Mac users, but I found it difficult. The solution to change it back, in case you’re interested is here: Move Window Buttons Back to the Right in Ubuntu 10.04.

However… I still found the theme to be dull. One of the changes I made this time around was to abandon Songbird, a faithful companion since its early versions. But I read that it’s dropping support for Linux, so I dropped support for it, and installed Banshee. As Ubuntu users will know, Rhythmbox is the default player but I’ve never taken to it, somehow. Banshee does everything I want and looks good, except… it looks dull in the theme I had. As does Open Office. I use the latter all day and the Grey was getting to me. So the solution was to change the theme, or actually just the controls in this case. I tried a few and chose Serenity, by Jean-Paul Bizet. What a difference it made! I even went back to the default skin in Thunderbird. The window buttons have gone back to the left but now that they look so well I don’t seem to mind and haven’t bothered to see if I can put them back on the right.

Different tastes for different folks, of course, but this suits me very well indeed, as my old eyes get tired unless I have a good colour scheme.

What else? The look of the Ubuntu software center has improved greatly, and while I don’t use Evolution, clicking on the envelope icon gives me Broadcast, so I can nip into twitter via gwibber handily – and nip out again! Thunderbird is on version 3.0.4. As I’ve several email accounts, the smart folders were a pain, but them I discovered it was just a matter of clicking the right arrow at the top of All Folders and it reverted back to a sensible layout.

Android, Ubuntu, Wordpress: Learning by mistakes