Category Archives: Technology

Concept of Installing Applications in Ubuntu

Until now we have discussed how to install Ubuntu, concepts around files, keyboard shortcuts to navigate easily and various ways to customize Ubuntu with Gnome shell. Today I am going to discuss how to install applications in Linux along with the various ways to do them, and will end with a special note that would explain how “running” applications in Ubuntu is fundamentally different than Windows.

You must be used to installing softwares in Windows by downloading .EXE files or .MSI installers. You open these files and click Next -> Next and viola. Installing applications in Ubuntu is a bit different and safer than Windows in some cases. But before we get into the steps its important to understand the concept of Packages in Ubuntu.

What is a Package?

A package can be considered a collection of files bundled into a single file. Package contains among other things, the installation script which tells where the files will be copied and what settings needs to be changed once the package is installed.

In essence, the output of a package is equivalent to .exe or .msi installers, that is they install a software on the OS. There are many ways to install a package on Linux. You can install a package using Package manager which itself are categorized in Low-Level and High-Level package managers. You can also download packages over the Internet and use it to install it on the system (more on this later in this article).

Low level package managers are dpkg (for Debian based Linux like Ubuntu) and rpm (for SUSE and Fedora). While high level package managers are apt-get (for Debian), zypper (for SUSE) and yum (for Fedora).

Packages can depend on other package to be installed first. Say if you want to install some software which was written in PHP, you may need to install the PHP package first. This concept is called dependency and is usually taken care of itself if you are using a high level package managers.

Advanced Packaging Tool (APT)

The underlying package manager in Ubuntu (or any Debian based Linux) is APT. You can use the command apt to install or remove packages on your system. APT is also used in background in GUI based package managers like Ubuntu Software Center and synaptic.

EDX have a pdf which lists some basic commands to using package managers. Download it here.

What is Source and Binary?

Continue reading Concept of Installing Applications in Ubuntu

The User Experience of using Ubuntu

In previous articles we installed Ubuntu, learned how to use Gnome shell on Ubuntu and customize it as per needs. In this article I would be dealing on some more points which makes it easier to understand the aspects of Ubuntu for those who are still deeply wrapped up in the world of Windows. Then we will learn how you can use keyboard shortcuts to improve the User Experience of using Ubuntu. In the end we will see how you can use built in ways to help yourself if you ever needed to learn more about Ubuntu and Terminal commands.

Philosophy of Linux over Windows

There are a few structural changes one notices when they migrate to Linux based OS like Ubuntu as compared to Windows. Following is a list that explains some of them:

1. Disk System

In Windows each partition of the HDD is referred as Disk1, Disk2 etc. While in Ubuntu it is termed as sda1, sda2. Here sda stands for one physical hard disk. And sda1 stands for Storage Device “A” partition 1 on a single physical HDD.

2. File System Type:

Filesystem is a way for the OS to keep the data on the HDD and a way to access it. Windows user would be familiar with NTFS and FAT32 but on Ubuntu, EXT3 or EXT4 is used primarily while EXT2 and XFS are also common.

3. Drive Naming Convention:

In  Windows people are too familiar with drives named on alphabet like C, D, E and F. It’s the C: drive which is the root drive and where OS is installed. Ubuntu is radically different  where the naming convention is considered.

In Ubuntu, root is a single forward slash. That is, “/“. So suppose I create a directory (another term for “folders”) called home in the root folder. The path for that would be /home.

Due to this convention, the way removable drives are handled is also different in Linux. A CD you insert with label projectone in the CD drive will be “mounted” and can be accessed from say, /media/username/projectone.

Lastly, in Linux, file and folder names are case sensitive. So, /home/user is different from /home/User and /home/USER.

A typical Directory Structure in Linux
A typical Directory Structure in Linux. Image Courtesy: edx.org

Continue reading The User Experience of using Ubuntu

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

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.

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

Saying Adios to my first Android

Every once in a while a piece of technology sets it’s foot from inception to reality, that is perceived ahead of its time. It features tech which makes people awe in wonder. People dream of owning such a piece of technology that catapults them into the future.

One such device was my Optimus One P500 (O1 in short), an Android device manufactured by LG which featured specs which were uncommon at its price point. Granted it was not supposed to “take you to the future”, but it was as close as you get if you were under a budget. The device had 512 MB of Random Access Memory, which none of the branded manufactures at the time managed to pull it of in a sub 10k phone. Quickly it became the most loved gadget by amass and also among the developers at XDA, a place where developers collaborated for the greater good.

O1 came with Froyo (Android ver 2.2) when it was launched in October 2010. With the curves and specs it had it looked a neat little Android gadget to admire. It was after 9 months of the launch that I came to know about O1, took me one month time to research, write a blog about it and to finalize that my next smartphone can only be “the One”. After that it still took me 2 months to save money from teaching programming classes to school students, apart from doing 9-5 regular job. But it was a good phone and a gadget worth the hard work to own.

I remember when the delivery boy from “LetsBuy.com” came to my home and handed me over the phone while I was fiddling with my wallet to make it lighter. My dad was surprised by the way I handed hard cash to some stranger who just arrived at the doorstep. That was my first experience in online shopping but I trusted it. And it payed off well over the years.

Continue reading Saying Adios to my first Android

How many Apps you *Really* use in a Regular day?

Recently I came about a thread on a tech forum I regularly visit, which asked a question about how many apps one uses in a day. Surely there are a lot of apps. Thousands and thousands of them in the apps market. I even made a list about the must have apps. But does one really use a lot of apps on a regular day?

I guess, apps like Launcher, Dialer, Messaging, People (contacts) and Gallery (includes camera app) need not even be mentioned. Since those are by default used by everyone. So what other apps…? I tried to write a story based on actual events to see where I judge myself in this regard. Results were pretty revealing!

I can’t wake up in the morning unless the Alarm plays a random song from my list of my favourite songs. So that’s one. Then I need to watch what time it is when I *finally* wake up. Clock and weather widget it is. That counts as an app too.

While traveling to office I would listen to my songs on TTPod and chat with friends on WhatsApp and Telegram. I would also surf some forum on Tapatalk since it’s just unavoidable.

Now I am in office. I pretend to work for sometime. Then I would need some break and I would goto breakout area where I see one of my colleague have this amazing trailer of a latest movie, “Edge of Tomorrow”. I just need to watch this and have it on my phone too. I would use ShareIt app to transfer the video to my phone in seconds (it uses wireless tethering to do that and is a great app btw). I would view the video using MXPlayer on my phone. Wow the trailer is amazing and I need to make a post about it on my FB Page. So I use Pages manager to do that. I don’t use Twitter or I could have used Hootsuite to update on FB and Twitter together.

Now its lunch time. And I would have forgotten to check whether I published that article on my website which I was drafting the previous night. I would use WordPress app to do final touches and “publish” the article. I could have also uploaded any media on the web server using ConnectBot if its needed.

I will now view how my recent blog looks like on any browser like Opera or Chrome. I can also use Chrome to read articles which arrives via RSS feed like Flipboard or Appy Geek when I am on the loose after lunch.

Oh dear, its month end! Did my salary came? I would quicky check it from my bank’s app. Be it ICICI or Citibank. Even government bank like Canara Bank have an app now. I would leave for home early that day since I would remember I had some shopping to do. I would refer the list I made using ColorNote or a task application like Astrid to remind me of the list of things my sister wanted me to buy for her too.

I am on the Metro platform now and want to goto a market very far. An app of DMRC Metro would guide me before I get lost. (Yea, asking from people would help too, but I have been taught not to talk to strangers, unless it’s urgent).

While I am traveling to the market I would play some games on my mobile. Anything like Asphalt 8 or a quick race of Subway Surfer could help me avoid the strangers I was talking about earlier. Oh wait.. did I see someone playing this good looking puzzle game I haven’t seen earlier? Lets just download it through Play store and get started to shatter his record.

While shopping I can use my Barcode application to quickly scan and get to know the exact date of manufacture so that I don’t pickup old stuff. (Mom would have loved a portable Barcode scanner when she shops. But, I could be a barcode scanner for her anytime now.) But I consider myself a smart shopper, ain’t I am? So while shopping I would  compare the prices of different stuff available online. Flipkart app it is.

Well, its about time now. Time to return home. I don’t really know I have the energy to catch another metro in the rush hour of evening. Lets just call a cab using an app I still have to find on Google play (cause I know there is one) and reach to my home keeping an eye on the driver, meter and Google maps. I don’t want him to drive me home using the longest route, do I?

Anyway I reached home. Now which app? Well, at home I would keep my phone in one corner. I won’t use any other app now since I don’t need them to talk with family. Enough apps for today. Maybe I would need to use more apps like Dropbox when I need to share some documents with my friend tomorrow, or Endomondo, when I need to track how much calorie I burn after a quick jog in one hypothetical but possible morning, or AndChat to chat on IRC with online friends. For now… its the end of the day and I need some rest. Screen locked.