Monthly Archives: January 2015

Making Ubuntu Personalized with GNOME

Until now we got familiar with Ubuntu and know how to install updates and softwares, as well as know how to use a few commands using Terminal. And now that we know what is Unity and the Unity bar, it’s time to dump it! Seriously, there are cooler alternatives out there. One such alternative is GNOME. GNOME was native part of Ubuntu until a few versions ago. But Canonical switched it for Unity later. And while Unity may provide a very good shell I don’t think it’s on par with modern era.

In this guide I will install GNOME  and write about how to customize it with extensions.

GNOME:

GNOME shell provides a fully customized UI on top of Ubuntu. Consider a shell akin to a completely new theme in Windows, except, shell is much more than just a theme. It actually is a complete Desktop Environment (DE) and contains completely different and sometimes a unique set of features which other shell lacks.

Unlike Windows, you can  choose to use any DE right before you login from the login page. So while one user might be using Unity, you on the same Ubuntu can use GNOME. I should warn though that GNOME is a little heavy on resources than Unity, but it’s beautiful and that there are some sacrifices which have to be made for “elegance”. Without wasting more time lets just install GNOME and see it in action.

To install GNOME run following command on Terminal (again Ctrl + Shift + T) while entering password when asked:

sudo apt-get install gnome

This will install a bunch of packages (around 500 MBs) which are included in GNOME by default. Continue reading Making Ubuntu Personalized with GNOME

Ubuntu: Updating and Setting up Softwares

In my last article I wrote about my first impressions of freshly installed Ubuntu 14.04 and shared what I knew about Unity interface which Ubuntu comes bundled with. Today I am going to update the OS and install various softwares. You can follow the steps to replicate the same on your copy of the OS or skip a few steps as per your requirements.

Installing updates is the first thing which one should do after installing a fresh copy of Ubuntu. Updates may include feature enhancement or security bugs. There are two methods to update Ubuntu. For first you can press “Dash Home” button on top of the Unity bar and type update, then select “Software Updater“.

Software Updater
Software Updater
Software Updater Checking for Updates
Software Updater Checking for Updates

 

Software Updater Confirmation
Software Updater Confirmation

This would check for updates and give you an option to install the updates right away. But there’s no fun in that. And I on the other hand will use more traditional way to update my OS… Continue reading Ubuntu: Updating and Setting up Softwares

Ubuntu: The Stage is Set

So we have installed Ubuntu in a Virtual Environment and know that some (or a lot) of the things in Ubuntu differs from windows, like filesystem and how removable drive works. In this article I will be starting from a fresh install of Ubuntu and try to get familiar with the User Interface. In the upcoming post I will proceed to set it up with softwares and settings.

I will literally be writing this article “while” I am using my PC, so this is not just a guide but more of a walk-through. Hence, please excuse my remarks which I sometimes make to emphasize my excitement (or disappointment) when I discover something.

Here’s what a freshly booted Ubuntu looks like:

Freshly booted Ubuntu
Freshly booted Ubuntu

We can notice a few things now:

  1. The taskbar is above the screen. It have the text “Ubuntu Desktop” written in right side of the taskbar. It also includes some icons on the top right corner including a clock and an icon on extreme right which looks like “Settings” icon.
  2. Unity bar which runs across the left side of the desktop, containing some icons of softwares like Firefox, Libre Office and System Settings. You will also notice an icon of Recycle bin down below.
  3. Rest of the screen is just plain desktop with no other stuff than default Orange wallpaper.

Now that we know about these three things, we would like to know how does these differ in functionality. Nice! Now we are getting into the good stuff …

Continue reading Ubuntu: The Stage is Set

Ugly – A not so ugly film

I use to watch a few Bollywood movies. And then I saw Ugly from Anurag Kashyap. What followed next were a lot of surprises and regrets.

I was surprised since I never expected such a movie to be coming out from today’s Indian cinemas, and regret since I have seen very few movies of Kashyap’s movie before and none from the recent times!

Quoting from IMDb,

Ugly is a terrible tale of corruption, indifference, and systemic violence which starts when 10 year old daughter of an aspiring actor disappears.

Yes, the film’s as dark as it sounds. Just eleven minutes into the film the daughter disappears. What happens next is a reflection of the sheer terror of our own society. The film takes you on a spin ride that feels so real that you start to think you are a part of the film. The actors did such a phenomenal job that it surmounts the very definition of what acting means. You feel as if the story is being broadcast Live on your screen.

The dialogues of the Ugly doesn’t feel scripted out. In fact I would not be surprised if Kashyap didn’t give the actors any script at all. At some places it felt as if maybe he just explained the plot to the actors and let them speak their own dialogues.

Even though the theme of the film is dark it also have a lots of Humour, which gives the film a much needed comic relief. There are a lot of moments in the film which makes you chuckle so hard that you almost forget the dark premise. Special mention have to be given to the policeman in the film, Jadhav played by Girish Kulkarni. When he sings the Item number, “Tu mujhe nichor le”, I just burst out laughing.

And yes, the film does go in length to feature a fictional item number complete with a scene from the dance itself!

Ugly, doesn’t shy away from scenes which might make the viewers uneasy and dares to be different and while if it’s Kashyap’s signature is yet to be judged. Hence my next set of movies will be what I heard are best from Anurag Kashyap’s contribution to Hindi cinema, Gangs of Wasseypur, Bombay Talkies and That Girl in Yellow Boots.

While the title of the movie is “Ugly” the film is a beautifully directed by Kashyap. There maybe other interpretations of the title of the film, but I think it refers to the ugly side of humanity which always resides within us, lurking and trying to find any opportunity to show it’s ugly face,  no matter how much we try to ignore it.

In a nutshell, Ugly is a break from the normal rom-com films that Bollywood makes today, it dares to do what most other directors gets apprehended of.

It’s a dark movie at its finest.

Bollywood is filled with so much crap today that films like Ugly gets lost amidst the noise and fails to get the recognition it deserves among masses. Needless to say, we need more of these. Anurag just made a new fan following here.

End note: If anyone tried to spot cameo of Alia Bhatt in Ugly, she’s at around 42:31 but you may miss her in the blink of the eyes!

Stuff I do in Windows that needs an alternative in Linux

In my previous post I said I would be looking an alternative in Linux for everything I do in Windows. Here’s an initial list of the applications that I am finding an alternative to. I would be updating this post fairly regularly, adding more things to the list and their alternatives, until I am confident that I can plan to make Ubuntu as my primary OS.

 

Softwares Type Alternative in Linux
Which have Nix versions
Firefox Browser Firefox
F.lux Screen Dimming app F.lux
Dropbox File sharing Dropbox
Telegram Chat application Telegram
VLC Player Video Player VLC
Steam Gaming software Steam
Which have no Nix Versions
Garena Gaming LAN client NA
Raptr Gaming Client NA
Which have good alternatives
uTorrent Bit torrent application Transmission
Everything Real time file search Locate command in Terminal
Nettalk IRC Client XChat
Microsoft Office Picture Manager Picture editor Shotwell or GIMP
Wordweb Dictionary GoldenDict
Netmeter Record of consumed bandwidth Conky comes closest
IDM Download manager uGet
Google Talk Google chat application EmpathyIM
Winamp Music Player Rhythmbox or Banshee
MS Office Office Suite LibreOffice or Wine
Where no alternative is needed
BullZip PDF Printer Not Needed since ubuntu have built-in PDF Printer
PuTTY SSH and Telnet Client ssh and telnet command on Terminal
FileZilla FTP Client ftp command in Terminal
Code::Blocks C, C++ Programming IDE Use GCC from Terminal or Emacs
To Be Decided
MS-Paint Pixel level bitmap picture editor

Apart from the applications, there are other things which a particular Windows user gets adapt to:

  1. Custom Keyboard Shortcuts: As per current info it’s possible to set custom Keyboard Shortcuts in Nix easily.
  2. Ability to create apps shortcuts:
  3. Background apps and a System Tray:
  4. Window Switching: From what I know now, switching in Nix is cooler and more functional than windows. Shortcut to use it is “Home key” + “W”.
  5. Autostart Apps: Ability to let the apps start automatically  when OS boots by putting the app in something called as StartUp folder.

When the softwares and UX is sorted out next thing which comes is understanding some lingo of Nix which might be totally unfamiliar to newbies in Linux:

  1. Filesystem: Nix don’t have the concept of Drives like C, D or E. Rather everything in Nix starts from the root. “\” is root folder. Hence path to your home folder can be, “\home\vyom” which means “vyom folder inside home folder of root folder”.
  2. Mounting of drives: Any DVD or removable USB drive you insert is mounted to some folder inside root folder. <insert example>.
  3. Installing Apps: Nix don’t have .EXE files rather it have various ways to install apps.
    • apt-get install <softwarename>
    • TAR Packages

Expect revision to this post to reflect new information soon.

The Theory of Everything

A lot of time have passed since I last wrote a good movie review and after I watched Theory of Everything, I had this urge to write that I couldn’t contain.

The Theory of Everything is a biographical  movie which tells the story about the romantic side of Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his first wife, mostly unknown to the general public including me. Movies like this (based on some living legendary person) always feels a little diplomatic (like The Social Network) but are still, for the lack of a better word, interesting and also motivational.

In my teenage years I use to love all those documentaries on Discovery about theories with mind bending possibilities. It always use to take me to amazing realm of a world that remains invisible to the naked eye. Hence it was natural that I was expecting to be dazzled yet again and experience that once again on big screen. But what I saw actually was the story of him before he become a successful physicist. The movie is a story not about his professional work rather it’s solely focused on the personal life of Stephen Hawking. We got to know about how incredibly nice Jane (his first wife) was with Stephen. She was an incredible woman to sacrifice so much of her life for the love she had for Stephen. Her devotion towards Hawking for so many years was rather unparalleled.

I was expecting a cameo of real Stephen Hawking in the movie, but Eddie Redmayne, the actor who played Stephen did such an incredible job that the cameo wasn’t really missed. I haven’t watched other works of Redmayne but the portrayal of him as Hawking really transpired my imagination and felt like it was the real Hawking himself on the screen. The wife of Hawking was acted by Felicity Jones who was also good. Involvement of David Thewlis was a little distracting at first since I was used to see him as Lupin in Harry Potter movies. Guess what, he is a professor in this movie too and hence I didn’t find it out of character.

Anyone who have read the Marriages subsection on Wikipedia had already read the whole plot of this movie, since the story is consistent with what was shown on screen.

In a nutshell, The Theory of Everything is a Romantic and emotional film that grips you till the end, except when in second half you realize it’s not just a romantic film, but a Biography first. Even though having interest in Cosmology and Physics, I enjoyed the film very much. I got to know the personal side of his personality, about the man I have always adored as a cosmologist.

If I could reverse the time, I would still watch this film  and probably love it again.

Now, here are some Fun facts which I came to know after some research (no spoilers):

  1. Stephen Hawking is English, not American, as I discovered from this movie! What!?!
  2. At the end credits of the movie, the name of the casts which are credited are in the reverse order of appearance since “reversing the time” is the theme of the movie. So if you are watching this movie you may observe it first hand.
  3. Stephen Hawking owns the copyright to the “electronic voice” that he speaks through the computer!

Lastly, even though real Stephen Hawking doesn’t have a cameo in the film, he does lends his voice in the end of the movie reciting one of his most famous quotes. And while the quote ended on screen I could hear claps from some people in the audience. I gladly joined them with few claps myself. The quote was so overwhelming and profound that I think I felt the impact it created on my perception towards life. I would end this post with the same quote,

There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.

– Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

Ubuntu: Beginning my Walk on Uncharted Territory

I had a long awaited dream of migrating from Windows to Linux. I was exposed to Windows since more than a decade and made aware of Linux a lot later. But when I did, sheer glimpse of Linux use to make me feel all geeky inside, but I never really gave Linux a chance. I was too engrossed by the ease of use of Windows and just-reinstall-windows as the default option to get out of any misery I face in Windows. Till the time I get to know the real power of Linux in the form of Ubuntu and the general open source nature of it it was very late. I had become so dependent on Windows for my daily tasks that I started to avoid Nix for all the reasons.

Now I have finally decided to give Linux (in form of Ubuntu) a fair trial. But instead of installing it on a dedicated drive I decided to virtualize it so that I can use both Windows and Linux till the time I become proficient in Ubuntu.

Installing Ubuntu on VirtualBox would have been a breeze had I followed this guide (created by my friend Aaruni). But alas I came across his walk through a bit late and also came across this problem of not getting to install 64 bit Ubuntu on VirtualBox. But thanks to the suggestion provided here, I managed to solve it without spending hours. The summary of the problem was that I had to disable “Virtualization” from “Turn Windows Features On or Off” since it conflicts with the “Enable Virtualization Tech” turned ON in BIOS.

So now, here I am publishing this post from within Ubuntu 14.04 and exploring the world of Linux without completely abandoning my comfort zone of Windows. But I Intend to make Ubuntu my primary OS in a few months until I can learn every nooks and cranny of this seemingly giant but not completely unknown territory that is Ubuntu.

I also intend to document my journey of using Ubuntu from a perspective of “oh-I-am-a-Windows-guy-and-I-want-to-work-on-Nix-but-not-sure-of-how-to-do-certain-things-that-I-use-to-do-in-Windows!” kind of guy. Hence I would be looking for “every” alternative of things in Ubuntu that I am so use-to in Windows from tools to shortcuts to the whole User Experience. It will be an exciting journey and something to look forward to but in the end worth doing.

I migrated to Digital Ocean

It was about one year that this site was hosted on a VPS server of Leaseweb. They provided a good set of specs but had some amount of unreliability when it came to providing 24×7 up-time. Also it once had a service outage that resulted in the loss of our data. Thanks to offline backups and Google cache I was able to restore all my posts. So it was high time before we moved onto something more trustworthy. It was then when I came to know about Digital Ocean, an SSD only VPS hosting provider. After a lot of geeky research I realized how quickly they grew their scope to provide a quality platform for VPS.

What follows next in this article is the story of how I migrated to DigitalOcean with help from my friends. Be warned that this article is fairly technical and can also serve to anyone who wants to migrate to DigitalOcean. I wholeheartedly thank Aaruni for his help on setting up the server, without his help it could have taken me days to do the same.

1. New Server on DigitalOcean (DO) VPS

There are numerous VPS providers but none at the feature to price ratio which DO provides. Hence me and my online friends decided to go for the most basic plan of $5 per month, which provided us with following features:

  • 512MB Memory
  • 1 Core Processor
  • 20 GB SSD Disk Space
  • 1TB Transfer Bandwidth

This configuration is modest to run a Unreal Tournament (UrT) gaming server and to host numerous small websites which were our requirements. Plus its easy to upscale so starting from the smallest option seemed to be a wise decision.

Continue reading I migrated to Digital Ocean

Landscape of Lansdowne

Year 2014 at a Glance

Year 2014 was one of the busiest year so far. And while my friends are busy posting what made their past year so happening on Facebook I thought I shall not rely on some artificial algorithm to tell my story of the year 2014. Hence what follows next are some of my real life experiences with lots of personal touch.

2014 proved to be a very important year for personal growth, learning and getting new experiences. I worked on many projects at job, revived old technologies and learned new ones. 2014 was a sad year for a lot of people but it also proved historical one for Indian political system.

During the first quarter of 2014, I caught myself in a situation where two of my immediate seniors at job left almost simultaneously leaving me in charge of a whole new set of responsibilities. That was a sudden change in the pace of my life but nothing which I couldn’t handle if I followed what my peers had taught me.

Nasir Akhtar is one of those good colleague/friend/peer who have the most impact on my way of doing things, atleast since last couple of years. He is one of the guy who have a clear vision about everything. He use to imagine something in his mind and do it ten times better on paper. He also have the charm to impress someone by his wits and convince anyone with his intellect. He had a sense of business little people have at his age, yet he was the most humble where he needed to be. A Software Engineer needs such person so that they can understand the client’s requirement to the core and can give solutions no matter how out of the box it were. When such person leave a corporation nothing can prepare you for the future. One can only hope that he can carry the legacy that the person built with such passion.

Moving on, there were lots of experiences about the job that I can share but largely it involves with meeting new colleagues and learning from them. But one thing which I really enjoyed at my workplace was Team Outings. I went to 2 places outside Delhi as part of the team outing. First of them being a trip to Lansdowne, a town in Garhwal district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It was a breathtaking trip that our team planned in April of 2014. With hoards of fresh air in the valley, enough to quench the thirst of freshness that people like you living in metro cities like Delhi, long for! We went to places like Bhulla Taal, a park; Tip-In-Top point (one of the highest places of mountain, with an incredible view); and Jai Tarkheshwar Dham temple.

That was only the beginning. After a while on 4-Oct some friends including Ankur, Nasir and Ashutosh, planned to make a trip to Kasauli, a cantonment and town, located in Solan district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, to take a breather from the daily routine of work. But this trip proved nothing to be a breather and instead was one heck of a ride. We only had 2 weekend days to spare and with no proper planning we booked tickets to Kalka. After reaching Kalka we took a bus to Kausauli and wandered in what seemed to be a location straight out of heaven. Streets were made of stones and had an inclination so steep that if you lie horizontally it would be nice game of rolling down the street (with possibly sad ending where you fall in some deep valley). We didn’t have a hotel room booked which implied we either book a room costing upwards of Rs 4 thousand or spend night down-town in Kalka and came back to Kasauli the next morning. Being on a budget trip we eventually choose the later. After spending night back in Kalka we also had to reach Kasauli for the Sunrise. So next day, (very) early at 3:30 am, we headed to the station took Toy Train and reached Dharampur from where after taking a Taxi we finally reached Sunshine point just a little after sun rise and managed to take following pic:

Sunrise in Kasauli
Sunrise in Kasauli

We also went to see Manki point (where cameras are not allowed), Kasauli Church and also spent time in one of the local dharamshala in Kasauli (which very less people would know is very affordable if you are traveling in a budget). I would remember Kasauli trip for a long time since it was a tip where little to no planning was done and still it wasn’t half as bad an experience.

Next trip I had was to Katra and Vaishno Devi on 6th November. No, I wasn’t in some spiritual intervention or in need of some divine enlightenment but I went there with my sister for an exam which she had to give. Since the exam got delayed we made a plan to go to Vaishno Devi. And even though I didn’t have any initial plan to go there the experience was both tiring as well as pleasant. Walking to the top of the mountain let me judge my inner limits and each milestone proved to be a new emotional barrier. The only encouragement for me to climb to the top was the excitement of my sis who seem to have little to no impact of the potential energy that the height imposed on her. Slowly and steadily like the tortoise I did climb to the top and witnessed the glory of Mataji in all her eternal beauty and took her blessings. Ever so slowly I walked down from the mountain but this time using stairs which provided a quicker way to the valley. Overall it was a journey my legs won’t easily forget for next few weeks. Following is an enthralling beauty of Katra valley as seen from the top of Vaishno Devi mountain:

View of Katra Valley from Top
View of Katra Valley from Top

The last trip I made outside Delhi was of Jaipur as yet again with my Team on 21 November. My legs were still echoing the pains of the Vaishno Devi trip but at-least this time we weren’t going to climb any mountain in Jaipur. What followed was another enchanting journey to a place I had only imagined in likes of Delhi Trade Fairs. But a Pavilion of a city can’t be compared to the actual experience of being in the city, especially with so many other people.

The thing I found myself doing the most in Jaipur was counting how many stuff in Jaipur are Pink! I found that it’s said to be “Pink City” for a reason. Most of the things in Jaipur are actually Pink. From forts to walls, and from hotels to buses. You will find a flair of Pink in almost every street. We saw Hawa Mahal, did shopping in the shops behind the Mahal, and went to “Chokhi Dhani” a place where everything good about Jaipur and Rajasthan were curated at a single place. We drank the milk, saw folk dance, played some games, saw flame throwers and rope walkers and it ended with us being filled by the popular dinner where local people try to stuff every bit of your stomach with some flavour of Jaipur. We also went to Jantar Mantar which puts the one in Delhi to shame. Since as per the story the one in Delhi was only built as a test ground by Jai Singh, who was a Rajput king. But the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur was kind of a final version and which still can be used to calculate time with great precision. Overall the trip of Jaipur was one of the most fascinating journey and which marked a good end of 2014 when it comes to Incredible India!

Choki Dhani in Jaipur
Choki Dhani in Jaipur
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur

And before I forget I must also add that we also went to Amer Fort which is one of the coolest forts I ever saw in my own city, with lots of places to hide, there by making it the most awesome place to play Hide n’ Seek! Following is some of its magnificence, as it looks from the outside:

Amer Fort in Jaipur
Amer Fort in Jaipur

Well, apart from places above I also went to see many places in Delhi itself like Agrasen Ki Baoli and Humayun’s Tomb.

On a personal development curve I started to work on projects which allowed me to revive my SQL Server skills and I also got introduced to new and developing technology called, “Salesforce”.

I also did a lot of shopping in 2014, including a new phone for my sis: Moto E and a Moto X for myself. Well, Moto X warrants for another dedicated post so I would be writing about this revolutionizing piece of tech in detail later.

Lastly, I would also like to mention about one of my school friend, “Atul Jain” which got married on 7 December. Atul together with Abhishek, we use to compare ourselves to the 3 friends of Dil Chahta Hai. Hence his marriage was surely a shocker to me. Almost 9 years after departing from school and now his life have changed for forever. Just one day changes everything. My blessings will always be with him.

2014 proved to be a year with lots of experiences in my personal life, just like our nation went through the experience of change in government. With Mr. Narender Modi (NaMo) becoming Prime Minister of India from May, India is on a verge of so many change with the biggest change according to me is “hope”. Now the people of the nation have “hope” that our country can excel in the markets of the world and that India can be a synonymous of everything positive.

I feel that this “new found hope” have become part of me somehow. Some of the atoms inside me have chosen to absorb the energies imparted by the new positivity of the nation itself.

Well speaking of which it would be ironical to say that during the end of year my health took a bad curve. I had to make the transition of new year lying in bed in fever. So I hope I get fixed soon and can return to my full potential for 2015, for it will be a year of change. There’s lot of changes to be seen, many things to complete and much greater stuff to learn. It’s time to switch from the Mega lane to the Giga one and with full throttle.