Category Archives: Pro User

Indicator Weather Gives You ‘At-a-Glance’ Temp on Ubuntu Phone

the indicator in actionThis is going to be a super brief post — briefer than a British summer, in fact. Most us are familiar with weather indicators for the Linux desktop. Heck, i’d be surprised if you weren’t considering the amount of pixel inches we devote to them on this site! But Indicator Weather isn’t a weather indicator […]

This post, Indicator Weather Gives You ‘At-a-Glance’ Temp on Ubuntu Phone, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

How To Add Extra Category Folders to the Gnome-Shell Dashboard

Gnome 3.8 introduced a bundle of nifty changes like new applications for Weather, Clock, Documents and Note Taking, improved search in the Activites, Privacy Settings and so on.

Amongst those was a changes was swapping the old Application Overview categories for Category folders.

In essence the new categories folders are no different than the old categories sidebar. They categorise applications by what they do, so apps like Calculator and File Archiver go to “Utilities”; music and movie players appear under “Sound & Video”; GIMP, Inkscape and Pinta show up in “Graphics”, etc.

What makes them different is that the old Categories were shown as sidebar right of the Applications grid, whereby the new folders are displayed right in the grid itself and clicking on them invokes a popover that shows the applications themselves.

Utilities Folder in GNOME 3.8

Utilities Folder in GNOME 3.8

It’s pretty swish.

But there’s only one problem: by default GNOME only provides two folders – Utilities and Sundry. Everything else is appears on the one screen, making hunting for apps by eye a little overwhelming.

Every app. Happy swimming.

Every app. Happy swimming.

The good news is that it’s relatively easy to add new folders to group applications into – and this is exactly what this article is about.

Getting your hands dirty

The first thing you need to do is fire up “dconf Editor”.

Don’t know how? Simply press the “Super key” (may have a Windows logo on it) and type “dc” into the search field. The app will pop out as you type so that you can click on it.

Search for Dconf Editor

Search for Dconf Editor

Once Dconf is open navigate to org > gnome > shell in the sidebar. In the right pane you will see an item heading reading: app-folder-categories followed by its contents: [‘Utilities’, ‘Sundry’]

Within Dconf itself

Dconf in Action

Double click on the contents field so that it becomes editable. Delete all of the text inside it and replace it with the following:

 ['Utilities', 'Sundry', 'Office', 'Network', 'Internet', 'Graphics', 'Multimedia', 'System', 'Development', 'Accessories', 'System Settings', 'Other']

This will automatically sort your applications into appropriate folders, like so:

Categorised Applications Overview

Categorised Applications Overview

Which looks a tad more organised then before:

Uncategorised applications overview

Uncategorised applications overview

Going Further

For those of you that want a wee bit more power and feel like playing a bit more you can remove some of those categories, just watch the semantic of the regular expression to be like this:

 ['Category1', 'Category2', 'Category3', ... 'CategoryN']

Regrettably creating custom category is not yet possible, so you are stuck with the built-in ones.

But what if I mess up?

Oh, don’t you worry about that. There is “Set to Default” button at the bottom right of DConf-Editor that will restore the selected setting to it’s default value:

"Set to Default" button in Dconf

“Set to Default” button in Dconf

How To Add Extra Category Folders to the Gnome-Shell Dashboard OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Enhanced Previews, Scope Toggles Added to Unity Testing PPA


It might not have been mature enough to ship in Ubuntu 13.04, but work on enhancing the Smart Scopes Service for Unity continues apace.

Over in the more ‘development-y’ of the development PPAs enhanced previews are now available for most results, including those from DeviantArt, Launchpad and Wikipedia:

launchpad preview
Deviant Art Preview
Wikipedia preview

It’s also now possible to see what ‘Scopes’ – thinks ‘content-specific search engine’ plugins – are installed by way of Applications Lens > Filters > Search Plugins (see image at top of post).

Right-clicking on one of the Scope results shown opens a Preview with further details and, more interestingly, a toggle for enabling/disabling it.


Install Smart Scopes in Ubuntu 13.04

Installing the Smart Scopes Service and upgrading the various bits and pieces that are needed to make use of it, is easy to do but not recommended.

It didn’t make it into 13.04 for a reason. Parts of it are buggy, slow, and in varying stages of completion. If you value a stable, productive desktop (or you’re allergic to web results appearing in the Dash) you’re better off sticking with stable Unity.

Stern talk over, upgrading to the smarter version of Unity requires the addition of one of two PPAs.

The first is called ‘experimental-unvalidated’. This is the most frequently updated but also the one most likely to break your desktop. It’s the pre-validation PPA that the above changes are currently in.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-unity/experimental-prevalidation
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install unity-lens-* unity-scope-*

The second, much safter option is ‘experimental-certified’. While this is generally more robust to use as packages are tested before being pushed to it, it is also updated far less regularly. The features mentioned above are yet to land in it at the time of writing.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-unity/experimental-certified
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install unity-lens-* unity-scope-*

Downgrading back to stable Unity is possible using the PPA Purge tool available from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Enhanced Previews, Scope Toggles Added to Unity Testing PPA OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

How To Upgrade to GNOME 3.8 in Ubuntu 13.04

gnome-ubuntu-tileUbuntu 13.04 ships with an older version of the GNOME desktop in its archives. This is great for GNOME-fans wanting stability, less great for those wanting to try the latest release.

Thankfully the GNOME team make it easy to install/upgrade to GNOME 3.8 on Ubuntu 13.04 – and there are plenty of reasons why you might want to do that!

There are caveats aplenty – largely that some of the software is a little unstable – but chances are if you’re competent enough to upgrade your desktop you’re also okay to deal with whatever issues might arise.

How To Upgrade to GNOME 3.8 in Ubuntu 13.04

Add the GNOME 3 PPA

Before you skim-read any further make sure that you’re running Ubuntu 13.04. Y’know, the latest release. Better yet, run Ubuntu GNOME 13.04.

With that out-of-the-way, we’ll first add the GNOME 3 PPA to Ubuntu’s Software Sources. This can be done without using the command line but, for simplicity’s sake, it’s far easier to do so.

Open a new Terminal window and enter the following command carefully.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3

Upgrade or Install GNOME Shell

With the PPA added, you now need to do one of two steps depending on what you have installed.

If you don’t have GNOME Shell installed then run the following command in a new terminal, inputting your password where prompted:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnome-shell ubuntu-gnome-desktop

As the various packages are installed the following screen will appear, asking you to choose which display manager – “login screen” – Ubuntu should use:


Decisions, Decisions…

Both of these options will let you choose a session before logging on (so you can log in to Unity if you so wish). ‘lightdm’ is the Ubuntu default, but for a true GNOME experience, such as getting lock-screen notifications, you’ll want to opt for the GNOME Display Manager (known as GDM).

login screen display managers

LightDM and GDM side by side

If you do have GNOME Shell installed, or are using Ubuntu GNOME, run this command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Optional Staging PPA for Extra Bits

If you feel super cautious you can also add the GNOME 3 Staging PPA. But – and it’s a big but that you must pay attention to – many components within it are unstable.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3-staging
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Reboot and Login

That’s it – you’re all done. The make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible you’ll want to reboot.

If you’re using the Unity’s default login screen click the Ubuntu logo in the user pod, choose the ‘GNOME’ session, then go ahead and login as normal.


Unity Greeter’s Session Selector

If you chose the GNOME display manager then choose ‘GNOME’ from the session drop-down before logging in.

If all has gone well you’ll now see something similar to this…


GNOME 3.8 Desktop in Ubuntu 13.04

A Few Differences

Some differences to note when using GNOME Shell alongside Unity.

Firstly, you’ll see two ‘online accounts’ entries in System Settings. The left-hand one is Ubuntu’s fork. The right-hand is the GNOME version.

For integration with certain GNOME apps, including Documents, Contacts & Evolution and Calendar you’ll want to add your accounts to the right-hand version. For Shotwell, Empathy & Gwibber support you’ll need to use the left-hand version.


System Settings

Also ‘new’ in System Settings are entries for ‘Notifications’ and ‘Search’. Both are self-explanatory; the former lets you pick which apps can send notifications, while the latter concerns which applications/sources show results in the Activities Overlay.

Uninstalling GNOME 3.8

To uninstall the GNOME Shell desktop we need to do a few things.

First installed PPA Purge from the Ubuntu Software Center

Install PPA Purge

Next open a new terminal window and run the following command:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3

Pay attention to any prompts that appear in the terminal during downgrade. If you also added the GNOME 3 Staging PPA (see above) you will also need to run:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3-staging

Next remove GNOME Shell by running:

sudo apt-get remove gnome-shell ubuntu-gnome-desktop

Clear up any remaining stray applications not removed by the downgrade and removal, then reboot.

How To Upgrade to GNOME 3.8 in Ubuntu 13.04 OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

[How To] Run Unity Next on Ubuntu 12.10


Unity Next, the next-generation Qt/QML version of Ubuntu’s Unity interface designed to intelligently adapt to multiple form factors, can now be tried, tested, and hacked-on right from the desktop.

You’ll need to be running Ubuntu 12.10 and know your way around the command line to get it up and running. It’ll also help if you’re a dab hand at being able to deal with compiling errors.

Now, the method below, taken from the Unity developers page, isn’t fool-proof. Indeed, due to a slight regression with the HUD I needed to manually install packages from the Phablet PPA – not something that’s recommended on the desktop! This error should be fixed shortly.

Warnings aside, if you’re brave, aware of the pitfalls, and want to proceed, just follow these instructions…

Step One: Source Grabbin’

First things first: create a folder to house all of the Unity Next code:

 mkdir ~/unity

Then install Bzr and pull the Unity Next source code:

 sudo apt-get install bzr

 bzr branch lp:unity/phablet ~/unity/unity-next

 cd ~/unity/unity-next

Step Two: Building Stuff

Next, run the following command:

./build -s

This step will add couple of PPAs to your system, build and install some required branches, and install a bundle of necessary dependencies.

 Step Three: Building More Stuff

Now build Unity Next by issuing the following:


Step Four: Running Unity Next

Run the People Lens daemon to enable ‘contacts’ in your


To run Unity Next in a window on your desktop run:

cd ~/unity/unity-next


If all of the steps above have completed correctly you should see this:


To keep your Unity Next build updated run the following two commands every now and then:

./build_unity -u


To build a-fresh, run:

./build_unity --clean

Unity Next is currently designed for touch-input so you’ll need to pretend that your mouse is a finger – o.e click and drag your way around the interface.

To go from ‘phone’ to ‘tablet’ interface just resize the Unity Next window.

Lastly, please remember that this entire schaboodle is under active development. That means you can’t complain if something is missing, broken, or buggy. Seriously.

For further information on running Unity Next on your desktop, as well as building and developing for it, head over to the Unity Developer Pages.

[How To] Run Unity Next on Ubuntu 12.10 OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

[How To] Reset Unity & Compiz in Ubuntu 12.10 and 13.04

unity-tileEver wondered how you can reset Unity and Compiz back to their default settings? 

Providing you are confident enough with the command line you’ll find that it’s a pretty easy thing to do.

Both Unity, and it’s window manager ‘Compiz’, can be set to their default values with just a command or two…

Why Reset Unity?

Before I get on to showing you how to reset let’s look at some of the reason why you might want to do it.

For example:

  • You might want the feel of a fresh start, but without the bagge of an actual fresh start
  • You may have tweaked some system settings – intentionally or not – and now want to revert them
  • You’re experiencing issues and want to see if your settings are to blame

What a Reset Does And Doesn’t Do

The word “reset” sounds scary but in this instance it isn’t.

Resetting Unity only affects the following:

  • The number of workspaces
  • Launcher size, behaviour & animations
  • Multi-monitor behaviours
  • Shortcuts for the HUD, Window Spread, Alt+Tab, etc
  • Compiz animations and effects

It will not affect files, applications or anything else not directly controlled by Compiz or the Unity plugin.

This means that any indicator changes made, such as System Tray whitelisting, or Sound Menu blacklisting, will also be unaffected.

How to Reset Unity in Ubuntu 12.10 & 13.04

In Ubuntu 12.04 resetting the Ubuntu desktop require the running of one command:unity --reset . This was retired in Ubuntu 12.10.

Yo get your Unity desktop settings back to brand spankin’ new behaviour in 12.10 and 13.04 we need to do a few things…

Step 1

Unity, and Compiz, the window manager that powers Unity, stores its settings in a configuration system called ‘dconf‘.

This isn’t a standard bit of software to play with, so proceed with caution.

Install dconf-tools:

Install dconf from the Ubuntu Software Center

Open a Terminal and run the following command to reset animations, workspaces, launcher size, etc:

dconf reset -f /org/compiz/

Log out of your desktop session and back into Unity for changes to take effect.

Step 2

To refresh your Unity launcher with the default set of icons, run the following in a Terminal:

unity --reset-icons

This command will “restart” Unity immediately, running from the Terminal. Closing the Terminal will also ‘close’ Unity, so it’s best to log out and back in after running this command.