Category Archives: raring ringtail

Press Reaction to Ubuntu 13.04 Is a Muted, “Meh” Affair


Ubuntu 13.04 was released last week – but, unusually, to muted and minimal press coverage compared to previous releases.

The Linux Action Show asked whether Ubuntu 13,04 is the most boring release in the history of Ubuntu. A quick glance at the column inches dedicated to this update would indicate yes. Even outlets who normally offer in-depth run-downs of Ubuntu have struggled to get a hold on this release, with many instead opting for more perfunctory “It’s out & this is what the press release says” overviews than bothering with the formality of a review.

But a few stalwarts have risen to the occasion…

‘Ubuntu 13.04 is a bit of an anti-climax.’ 

Zdnet‘s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols speaks positively about the performance improvements including in Raring, saying that, on a test machine of his own, ‘Unity [is] much faster than before on the same box’. 

Fellow Zdnet writer Terry Relph-Knight is a bit more strained, and gives the release 6/10. He argues that while 13.04 is a ‘good, solid release‘ it’s also ‘a bit of an anti-climax’ in terms of new features and changes.

This ambivalence is also in play over on PCPro, whose description of Ubuntu 13.04 as a ‘modest update’ that brings ’no major enhancements’ to the desktop is unlikely to result in an influx of new users to Ubuntu.

Several reviewers, including Jon Brodkin of ArsTechnicapick up what isn’t included in 13.04. Brodkin notes that the removal of the workspace switcher in Unity’s Launcher is likely to be ‘disconcerting’ to some users.

‘A victim of confusion and mixed motives.’ 

Datamation‘s Bryce Byfield is far more cutting in his analysis of the release, calling it a ‘victim of confusion’ and ‘mixed motives’ as Canonical attempt to reconcile ‘the principles of simplicity and efficiency [with] its new priority of profitability.’

But it’s Fabian A. Scherschel of the H-Online who hits the nail on the head of this release by concluding that ‘due to the limited number of features [in 13.04] it will be hard for some decide whether they actually want to upgrade.’

Press Reaction to Ubuntu 13.04 Is a Muted, “Meh” Affair 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.

Ubuntu Button Tweaked to Meet ‘Cultural & Aesthetic’ Expectations

The Ubuntu button in 13.04 has received a last minute change: the background swirl now spins in a clockwise direction.

Trivial, right? In fact, if had it arrived sooner, then our recent post on ’7 subtle changes in Unity 7 you probably won’t notice…‘ would have been 8!


Left: Old direction; Right: New Direction

Why The Change?

But why has the background direction been altered? And why now?

We don’t need to go too far back in history to answer the latter question, just to yesterday when a bug report was filed by Matthieu James, Ubuntu’s icon maker.

In the issue he cites a mail forwarded to him by Mark Shuttleworth in which a user argues that the button background swirl should spin clockwise, as there are cultural and historical dispositions favouring this procession.

Still following? Good.

Now, there is certainly no denying that, for most cultures, the clockwise/right-leaning movement is seen as being ‘good’, ‘positive’, and, in some cases, ‘holy’.

Whether it makes sense to us today is moot; the fact is that the vast majority of us are socialised to believe that clockwise = moving forward and moving forward = good. It sits within in us at a subconscious level, handed down to us from ancient times when the movement of the sun in the sky ( ‘east’ to ‘west’) was revered as important, life-giving and divine.

‘Sunwise’ became shorthand for ‘the right way’. Shorthand that remained core through subsequent cultures and civilisations; a crutch that influenced architecture, mathematics, science, mechanics.

The procession of clockwise over anti-clockwise is a movement we’re just darn well used to. Even some of our words, like ‘sinister’ are hold overs from this, being derived from the latin for anti-clockwise ‘sinistro‘!

‘iron age thinking’

Back to the present. The BFB icon in 13.04 has now been changed (albeit committed to Unity but not yet landed) to conform to this cultural/historical expectation.

This hasn’t pleased everyone, especially Steve Riley who writes:

“The notion that left = bad and right = good is steeped in ancient (and wrong) beliefs about what nature prefers. It’s the 21st century now. Do people really make technology decisions based on iron age fairy tales?”

He wasn’t alone in feeling a little peeved. The Ubuntu Documentation team, who have already taken screenshots of Ubuntu 13.04, also felt a bit put out. And Kevin Godby raised the point of whether this change means other anti-clockwise-leaning icons will also be hanged, like the new Software Updater icon.

Ultimately it’s a change that is both trivial and, to those who don’t care about such inferences, an irrelevant one at that.

But for designers, who speak a language that’s heavily based on symbolism, the change of direction will be seen a touch of finesse aimed at reassuring the subconscious eye with a familiar shapes, patterns and flows.

And that, cultural reasonings aside, is the most important thing: making sure it looks good. 

Ubuntu Button Tweaked to Meet ‘Cultural & Aesthetic’ Expectations OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

7 Subtle Unity Changes You Might Not Notice in 13.04…

Ubuntu 13.04 will be released later this month, and whilst many will be focusing on the big bang-whizz changes – like new animation effects, features and app changes, few will give much attention to the subtler changes. 

So we’re doing our bit to champion the ‘little things matter’ with this list of 7 subtle spots of Unity polish you might not have ever noticed…

Faster Icon Reveal

I don’t pin enough app items on my launcher to ever see Unity’s ‘accordion’ effect, and chances are many of you don’t either.

But for those of you that do, Raring makes accessing apps within the accordion fold far quicker. Hit play on the video below to see a before and after of the effect in action.

Dash Error Finding

Raring no longer requires you to type application names letter-for-letter. It now uses ‘fuzzy searching’ to try and determine what it is you’re probably looking for.

I’ve, personally, sorely missed this feature. Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that I can be a little clumsy fingered when it comes to typing (rather, I type faster than my ability allows!).

fuzzy searching in the unity dash

fuzzy searching in the unity dash

Scroll Switching

Unity 7 includes a number of ways to switch between application windows – alt+tab, the app spread, and quicklists.

Another method, debuting in Ubuntu 13.04, is ‘scroll switching’. Just hover your mouse over a launcher item with more than one window open and roll on your scroll wheel to cycle through open windows.

FIlesystem Fill

It’s now easier to see when the trash can, SD card or external hard-drive is open in Nautilus.

When a filesystem item that is pinned to the Launcher is viewed in Nautilus its launcher item tile will fill with background colour.

Had I not seen this change in Unity’s changelog a few weeks back I likely would never have noticed it.

The old behaviour left Trash, SD cards, file system launchers etc ‘empty’ and without a ‘running’ pin.

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 20.09.13

Trash not open VS Trash Open

Tooltip Fade

Everytime you mouse over items pinned to the Unity launcher a tooltip shows up with a description label telling you what it is or what it does.

Simple stuff.

In Ubuntu 13.04 these tooltips are now animated, fading in and out.

Non-Pixelated Pips

In the image comparison below try to spot the difference? Easy, right? The changes to the Alt+Tab switcher are many (glows, highlights, shapes, etc). But the change I want to highlight are the newly un-pixelated pips used to denote apps with multiple windows open.


Radio Dot

We mentioned this change a few days back: when more than one window of an app is open you can right click on its launcher item to see a list of open windows. If one has focus you’ll now see a ‘dot’ next to it.


7 Subtle Unity Changes You Might Not Notice in 13.04… OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Focus Pip Added to Unity Quicklists


Here’s an update to file under ‘little things that matter’: Unity quicklists in 13.04 now denote the state of a focused window.

What does that mean in more intelligible terms?

Say you have two Firefox windows open, and you want to switch to the one you didn’t look at last using the Quicklist.

Previously the quicklist would list open windows but not indicate which one was ‘in focus’.

But recent updates to Unity in Raring fixes this by adding a ’dot’ next to the window you’re currently looking at.

Minor change? Certainly. Useful? Likely.


Focus Pip Added to Unity Quicklists OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Where’d Gwibber Go in Ubuntu 13.04? And What’s Friends?

Gwibber needs little in-way of introduction. The social networking client has been a default app in Ubuntu since 10.04, but was popular with users long before then too.

But anyone booting into the new-fangled Ubuntu 13.04 desktop later this month will notice that it’s missing; Gwibber does not come pre-installed on Ubuntu any longer.

So what’s going on?

Making Friends with Gwibber

To best understand we have to go back a few months to the launch/announcement of Ubuntu Touch. its unveiling created a storm of interest and opportunity for existing and new Ubuntu developers, not least because it promoted the use of a new, flexible ‘toolkit’ for developing apps – Qt/QML.

Gwibber had been in need of some due love and attention for a while, so its developer, Ken VanDine, took the opportunity to rewrite the app using these newly recommended technologies.

And so this was born:

Friends Apps Full View

Friends-App – The Next Generation Gwibber

But an app is nothing without its data. Alongside the rewritten, recoded and revamped ‘client’, work was also happening on the ‘backend’ to make it leaner, more performant and more reliable than that used by Gwibber in the past.

This new backend, dubbed ‘Friends’, fetches, delivers, and dispatches data to and from the app itself. You can’t see it, but it’s an integral part of the process.

Status Updating in Friends

Supports Many Social Networks – Including Facebook

A Fresh Start

With Friends (the backend) up and running, the Qml Gwibber hooked up to it, and users starting to test it, things began to get a bit confusing for the developers – as Ken explained to me:

“With the rewrite of the gwibber client to QML and the new friends backend, I still saw lots of comments online about gwibber and past experiences.  And as users started filing bugs against the client, it was difficult to distinguish which code base the user was using.”

The solution? A new name.

“Considering it was a completely new code base, even new branding with the awesome new logo, we felt it made sense to start off with a new LP project as well.  And now we have friends-app”

Friends App – So Far

So what’s the ‘new’ client like? It’s okay. It’s clearly not a finished piece of work by any stretch, but the features and functions included all work as they should.

Ken suggests that we view it as being somewhere between a ‘preview’ and a ‘stable’ release, erring against the latter because of a lack of wider testing.

On to how the app runs.

As this is an app made for touch there are features like inline-replying, large action buttons, and ‘drag to refresh’:

Pull To Refresh

Pull To Refresh

Unlike Gwibber past there is now only one column called ‘Timeline’. This displays all statuses, mentions, tweets, etc in on vertical list.

If you think that sounds confusing – and it can be – each status is badged with the network it came from and, for things like mentions, avatars are badged to differentiate them from the rest of the stream:

Replying to a Mention

All Updates, Mentions, Etc Appear in One Column

Ken hopes to re-introduce multi-column views at a later date. ‘Most likely something along the lines of automatically detecting the best layout based on form-factor,‘ he explains.

For portrait/single column users a “tabbed view” will also be introduced, letting you swipe through columns.

“I’ve played with these concepts a bit already, and it is pretty easy to implement in QML and the Ubuntu SDK,’ Ken says, ’I just didn’t want to rush and re-factor all that right as we were landing it in 13.04.”

The client and its new backend don’t support as many services as older versions did but all of the main networks are covered, including Facebook:

inline replying in friends-app

inline replying in friends-app

The compose window lets you choose which network an update is posted to:


Status Updating in Friends

Notable features missing at present, but pegged for inclusion in later versions:

  • Username autocomplete
  • Status management (deleting a tweet, etc)
  • Twitter searching/filtering
  • Locations
  • Rich media views 

Going Forward

While sexy new Friends client isn’t included in Ubuntu (due to some last minute dependency security issues) all is not lost for social-fiends.

Firstly, Friends is available to install straight from the Ubuntu Software Center, so it’s still pretty much at your fingertips.

Click to Install Friends in Ubuntu 13.04

Secondly, Unity has a social lens installed by default in Raring. While you can’t tweet from it you can view statuses, mentions, messages, etc.

Unity Lens Friends

Unity Lens Friends

Where’d Gwibber Go in Ubuntu 13.04? And What’s Friends? OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Ubuntu 13.04 Beta Released


The final beta of Ubuntu 13.04 has been made available for download.

Also shipping alongside it are betas for all of the official Ubuntu spins, including the newly anointed Ubuntu GNOME and Ubuntu Kylin projects.

Key features new to Ubuntu 13.04, and available in this beta, include:

For details of precisely what has changed between Ubuntu 12.10 and 13.04 you can view our development coverage by using the Raring Ringtail tag.

Getting Ubuntu 13.04 Beta

If you’re running daily builds of Ubuntu 13.04 you don’t need to do anything special to get the beta – as long as you’re up-to-date, you’re using it.

Ubuntu 13.04 is scheduled for release on April 25th. It will come with a reduced support cycle of only 9 months. Support for it will end in January 2014

A release candidate of Ubuntu 13.04 is due for release on April 18th.

Download Ubuntu 13.04 Beta

Ubuntu 13.04 Beta Released OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

Unity’s Slick New Payment Feature Postponed Until Ubuntu 13.10

 Ubuntu 13.04′s Unity desktop will not ship with a new in-Dash payment feature as originally proposed. 

The feature, which allows users to complete Ubuntu One Music Store purchases without needing to open a browser, has been postponed until Ubuntu 13.10.

News of the decision comes but a day after a video was posted demoing the Payment Previews process.

Why Delayed?

Developer Olli Ries, in a post to the Ubuntu Devel Mailing list explains the reason for the delay:

“…we ran into an authentication issue and it couldn’t be determined in time whether this is a client or server issue. As this feature is dealing with sensitive information (credit card) we are taking our responsibility to not putting users at risk.”

A wise decision, I think you’ll all agree.

But it’s not all bad news. Much like other new Unity features recently rescinded from Raring’s line up, Payment Previews could yet appear in a PPA for the more adventurous to install.

For a view of how the feature worked, just hit play on the video below.

Unity’s Slick New Payment Feature Postponed Until Ubuntu 13.10 OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

In-Dash Music Purchasing Proposed for Ubuntu 13.04

In-Dash App Purchase Transaction

In-Dash App Purchase Transaction. Image credit: alecu83

This feature has now been postponed until Ubuntu 13.10. For more on the reasons why, see this post.

Ubuntu 13.04 wants to let users buy music from the Ubuntu One Music Store directly from the Dash – no web-browser transactions needed.

The ‘Payment Preview’ feature, currently proposed for inclusion in Raring by way of a Feature Freeze Exception, will allow users of Ubuntu One to purchase tracks and albums from within the Music Lens with just a few clicks.

‘Payment Previews’ can, Ubuntu say, also be used by other Scopes and Lens developers.

For the transactions to work users must already have Ubuntu One set-up on the desktop, be logged in, and have automatic payments enabled on their Ubuntu One account.

Files purchased from the Ubuntu One Music Store are automatically backed up to Ubuntu One and synced with the Ubuntu desktop.

The good/bad news (it’s up for you to decide) is that this feature may not ship by default in Ubuntu 13.04 because of its late arrival. It will be added to the Experimental Unity 7 PPA for wider testing shortly, after which a final decision will be made.

Whether or not the feature does land in Raring – and given the recent delay of Smart Scopes that’s by no-means a certainty – Payment Previews do show the potential of the Dash. Not just a one-stop-search spot, but a one-stop shop spot, too! It’s just a shame that features like this weren’t introduced sooner.

You can see the proposed feature in action in the video below.

In-Dash Music Purchasing Proposed for Ubuntu 13.04 OMG! Ubuntu! – Everything Ubuntu. Daily.

WUBI To Be Dropped from Ubuntu 13.04, Windows Users Lose Out

WUBI, the Windows-side installer for Ubuntu, is likely to be dropped from Ubuntu 13.04.

In a message to the Ubuntu Devel Mailing list, Canonical’s Steve Langasek states that the Ubuntu Foundations team ‘…does not expect Wubi to be in a releasable state for 13.04.’

Adding that the tool ‘…is not currently in very good shape for a release.’

The tool allows Windows users the ability to safely install Ubuntu without the need to partition their hard-drive. It was introduced into Ubuntu images by default during the 8.04 release.

As well as safe-guarding users’ data and saving them from ‘Did I wipe Windows?‘ panic, WUBI allowed for Ubuntu to be easily uninstalled using the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ section of the Windows Control Panel.

But the introduction of Windows 8, combined with a lack of general development on the utility, means that Ubuntu now consider the user-friendly tool a millstone around their necks.

This is not the first time that WUBI’s fate has been up in the air, however. During the Ubuntu 12.04 development cycle it was considered for removal from the Ubuntu CD. It ultimately saw a reprieve.

Have you ever used WUBI? Did you like it? How should Windows users now go about trying Ubuntu? Comments, as ever, are welcome below.