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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 Explored !

If you would take a look at the About Me section in the right, it says that I uses Ubuntu 11.10 and Kubuntu 11.10 as my main distributions. Now the hard disk(Seagate 1tb) on which Ubuntu 11.10 was installed(actually I upgraded it from 11.04) had gone corrupt and hence sent for repair. On Nov 22, I got the hd back and well you must have guessed it, I installed Ubuntu 11.10 on it. 
Ubuntu 11.10 was codenamed 'Oneiric Ocelot' where Oneiric means-'of or relating to or suggestive of dreams' and Ocelot actually is a 'nocturnal wildcat of Central America and South America having a dark-spotted buff-brown coat'(definitions courtesy Artha).

If You haven't downloaded Ubuntu 11.10 by now, take my advice and download it because by the end of the post you will definitely want to try it. Yes! you can try it without even touching your hard disk by making a live CD or USB(All the information that you may need pertaining to it is provided on the download page). 
As always installing Ubuntu is super easy and this occasion was no different.
Preparation and Installation: Made the live USB with the ever reliable UNetbootin on my Kubnutu, plugged in the 1tb hd, booted the Ubuntu live USB, formatted the hd with the help of disk utility. Installed Ubuntu. A user may quite aptly gauge the beauty of whats going to follow from this installation screenshot itself.
When installation finishes, the installer asks for a restart and that's all there is to installation.

I hadn't selected the "log in automatically" option while installation, hence was  greeted by a splendid log in screen. You will be notified if proprietary drivers for your hardware is available. I was already running Unity 3D as Ubuntu comes with the Open Source drivers but as always drivers for my NVIDIA 9800GT graphics card was available so I installed it. 

Also I hadn't selected the "Download updates while installing" and "Install this third-party software"(3rd party codecs/restricted drivers)as it decreases the installation time(slow internet here) and can be done easily post installation.

I installed the available updates

The Ubuntu Software Center has been revamped, looks and works beautifully.
You may very well see Ubuntu restricted extras visible in the top rated section. If not,
just type "ubuntu-restricted-extras" in the search box and install it.

There have been rafts of improvements in the 11.10 release cycle, the system feels more responsive and snappy and the better Unity desktop integration also provides a more coherent experience.
If you are new to Ubuntu or Unity, No Problem as we have got you covered.[1]

  1. Windows Title
  2. Application Menu
  3. Dash Icon
  4. Launcher Icons
  5. Workspace Switcher
  6. Launcher
  7. Trash
  8. Indicators

The functionality and speed of the dash has also increased. Dash can be invoked by pressing the 'Super' key also known as the 'Meta' key(unfortunately also known as the Windows key) or by clicking the icon with the Ubuntu logo on the launcher.
The chameleon effect is awesome, check how the dash has imbibed the average colour of the desktop wallpaper. 
The dash can be used for searching and launching, applications, files and folder on your system. 
There are also three lenses that come integrated with dash and can be accessed by pressing the 'Tab' key while dash is opened or clicking on the respective lens at the bottom of the dash.
The first lens is the Application lens. 
Your most frequently used apps show up on the top, all the apps installed on your system can be checked by clicking on 'see more results' and you can even install applications from Software Center right from the dash.
Click on Filter results and you get filters through which you may further search the apps installed on your system. 

The next lens is the File lens. It show files that you recently opened on the top, the Downloads folder's content in the middle and Folders at the bottom. This lens also has a comprehensive filtering options through which you can find things easily and swiftly.   

The third is the Music lens which ties into your music collection. I don't listen to music and hence don't have a music collection. 

The file manager nautilus has also been redesigned to seamlessly fit in the Unity setup. 
This Ubuntu release features 14 HQ default wallpapers and all of them are picturesque to say the least.
The System Settings has also been revamped and is looking much more comprehensive than the previous release.
The default theme 'Ambiance', which I have used in my screenshots above is pretty slick. So is 'Radiance', which I will use in the next few screenshots.

The indicators have also seen an overhaul. 

The cog in the top left hosts your important system related functions(they can also be accessed through the dash yes even shutdown,restart and the kinds).

Next up is the user indicator: Switching accounts was never so easy and fast. 
Date and Calendar indicator:

Sound indicator:

Networks indicator: 

IM Status indicator: This indicator holds up all the social and messaging notifications and accessing that you will need. Changing your chat status for taking that coffee break is a breeze. 

Chat ties to the default chat application: Empathy. It is an excellent application that provides text, voice, video chat(as available by the service provider) and supports Jabber, Facebook, Google, IRC, Yahoo, AOL and more.
See the notification of my friend Vishal doing a countdown and sending me a 'nugget of wisdom'. This kind of awesome notification is received when the chat box or simmilar applications aren't active. The backdrop to the notification: I had asked him to send some nice quote for this screenshot and after few of them, I liked this one and asked him to resend in 5secs. 

Fun right. Vishal also notified me about an article that he had just finished, How G+ will effect LinkedIn. I am sure you will find it insightful and interesting.

Broadcast ties to the default microblogging client: Gwibber. Gwibber has also been updated. The new Gwibber features a revamped interface, slick animations, better start up speed and has also gotten a bit resource efficient from the last release. Gwibber supports Twitter, Facebook,, Digg and more. 
Ubuntu now boasts 20 Million Users. I am ecstatic. 
Just because you are working doesn't means that you miss the latest buzz. Check this shot where Gwibber notifies me about the latest news.

Mail ties to the default mail client: Thunderbird. Now Thunderbird(in my humble opinion)is the best mail client out there and the Ubuntu team have a made a great choice by making it the default mail client. FOSS and non FOSS people alike are aware of this powerful yet light on resource, Blue Bird. 

And while I was writing this post, Thunderbird also got updated to the latest 8.0

Ubuntu One is your one stop solution for cloud storage and related services. Every Ubuntu users gets 5gb of free cloud storage that you can access and sync from various OS's like Ubuntu, Android, iOS, Windows and also from the WWW. Check the Ubuntu One site here for more information. I already had an Ubuntu One account from my previous installs and I signed in with that one.

If you notice, in some of the screenshots you will see a Weather Indicator. Now this doesn't come by default but you can easily install it from the Software Center by searching "indicator-weather".

The Ubuntu 11.10 like always is ready for most of your computing needs from the beginning. It has a great collection of software pre-installed. Also the Ubuntu Software Center has you covered for more apps and is just a click away. 
You have already met with Empathy, Gwibber and Thunderbird. Now meet the rest of them.
Firefox 7 is you default web browser which got updated to the latest version 8.0 when I had updated the system earlier. 
I also installed another web browser, Chromium. Chromium is the open source project from which Google Chrome initiated and pulls in its source code. You can also install Google Chrome on Ubuntu but at the end of the day with installing Chrome you will only get Chromium with the Google branding and Chrome's 'EULA' to mull over. 
Now If you notice the above screenshots, the application menu isn't visible and the applications seems to have gorgeously blended with the top panel and indicators(I love this feature). This feature is called the Global Menu. So how do you get the application menu?
 Just a simple mouse over. It can also be invoked by holding the 'Alt' key or by pressing F10.

Transmission is your default app for torrent downloading and it works very well.  

Banshee Media Player in its own words for 'Extraordinary Multimedia Management an Playback'. 
There are plenty of apps available on similar terms like 'Amarok', Rythmbox', 'Audacious' and many more in the Software center. Choose what serves you well.
Just in case you think that installing apps from the Ubuntu Software Center is some hardwork, check this video:
Totem movie player is your default video player.
I like Totem for its minimalist approach and design. 

I also installed the favourite of many(including me), the VLC media player.

Ubuntu also comes with games in the likes of Sudoku, Mines and 4 more that will keep you mentally fresh. 

While moving around in the dash, you will come across an application by the name Terminal. At first look it may raise the alarm 'Linux is for Geeks' and similar stuff, don't get perturbed. Terminal can be your friend(obviously if you want or you can be happy with the GUI way). Through Terminal one can do installations, removals, updation and lots of other system related work(that I simply don't recall). Like in the screenshot below, I am installing GParted Partition Editor(It is an advance tool for disk partitioning in comparison to Ubuntu's default Disk Utility).    
I could have installed this app from the Software Center also.

 I also installed Synaptic Package Manager which is an advance tool for installation, removal and upgradation of software packages.    
Versatility of Linux never ceases to amaze me. 

Ubuntu 11.10 has the latest LibreOffice 3.4.4 as its default office suite. 
"LibreOffice is a comprehensive, professional-quality productivity suite that you can download and install for free. There is a large base of satisfied LibreOffice users worldwide, and it is available in more than 30 languages and for all major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, ...)".[2]

Now the LibreOffice install on Ubuntu 11.10 doesn't include Base(the equivalent to MS Access) but you can easily install it from the Software Center. Also go ahead and check its features
Here you can see Writer in action with a document in .docx format.
Here you can see Impress in action with a presentation in .ppt format.
  Here you can see Impress in action with a presentation in .pptx format.
Here you can see Calc in action with a spreadsheet in .xls format.
All the files used for taking screenshots of LibreOffice in action are courtesy Vishal.

Somebody once said “ computer users can be divided into 2 categories:Those that have lost data...and those that have not lost data YET ”.[3]
Thankfully Ubuntu 11.10 has an excellent Backup software: Déjà Dup. It is a simple yet powerful tool for your backup needs. 
This only comes up  when you use the software for the first time
It has Support for local, remote, or cloud backup locations, such as Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud Files, and Ubuntu One. 
Other features include:Securely encrypts and compresses your data, Incrementally backs up, letting you restore from any particular backup and Schedules regular backups.
If you need something more comprehensive and advanced, you can install another favourite of mine "luckyBackup" from the Software Center. 

Multitasking is a pleasure in Ubuntu 11.10. 
You can switch between different applications running on your system by the classic combination of 'Alt+Tab'.
You can switch between them by pressing the 'Tab' key or by using the arrow keys. Pressing down will reveal it.
If you have multiple windows opened of an application, you can easily switch between them with 'Alt+`'. That is 'Alt' and the key between 'Tab' and 'Esc'.
You can also use 'Super+W' to get the Spread mode, zoom out on all windows in all workspaces.

You are thinking, All this is pure Awesome!. Well this is Linux and you will encounter many awesome things because awesome people use it, contribute to it and share it.
But what is this Workspace business all about. Think of it as having virtual screens in addition to the main one so you don't have to fear the clutter of Windows.    
With Ubuntu 11.10 you have by default Four workspaces. 
You have the Workspace Switcher with which you can easily manage your workspaces and windows. You can also use 'Super+S', to get the Workspace Switcher.
Here you can see me using Workspace Switcher in all its glory.
You can use your mouse to move around workspaces and windows. The orange highlighting that you see in workspace 3 represents that it is active. 
You can also use the 'Ctrl+Alt+arrow keys' to move around in workspaces and 'Ctrl+Alt+Shift+arrow keys' to move around windows. 

You can even access the items on the Launcher by holding the 'Super' key.
Now don't think that I am some whiz kid just because I know all these shortcuts. You can also know them and more, check here:What are Unity's keyboard and mouse shortcuts?.
I have only scratched the surface will all this, there is much more to Ubuntu 11.10 than what I have told above. But I leave that for you to experience. 
Here is a short video to see in action some of the features that I have explained above:
You have used your bandwidth in worst ways and have been left baffled(trust me on that) but you will not feel the same after trying Ubuntu 11.10(trust me on that). 
Go Ahead, Try it.  

If you have any comments/questions/suggestions please feel free to contact me via the comments section, Google+ or twitter. Also if you like what you have read, do share it with others.