Tag Archives: Ubuntu

Openoffice.org 2.3 color palette

You can add custom colors with > Tools > Options > Openoffice.org > Colors.
In this process, OOo crashed down on me this morning (I’m running Gutsy and using OOo from Ubuntu repos). It would run again, reopen the files, but all the color palette for text or objects was gone gone gone:

A purge/reinstall with aptitude did not help.

Thanks to my friends from the “Linux On The Roots” mailing list (see the link under “Linux” category, web site in French), I could get the palette back in my user folder. The ~/.openoffice.org2/user/config/standard.soc was empty… I just copied back /usr/lib/openoffice/presets/config/standard.soc in my ~/.openoffice.org2/user/config/ file.

Hmm. Not the first time around an app closes down on me emptying some config files. Last time, it was the Xfce panels. Gremlins?


Xfce Compositing Manager and password windows for root graphical applications

Several Ubuntu Xfce users have reported a delay when root graphical applications (ie launched with gksudo or gksu) ask for the password. The windows hang for several seconds, up to 40. I’ve noticed that even the clock stops ticking.

This bug is probably related to Xfce compositing manager, in particular the shadows under the popups.
The current workaround is to disable “Display shadows under popup windows” or launch the application with gksudo -g.

man gksudo
--disable-grab, -g
Disable the "locking" of the keyboard, mouse,
    and focus done by the program when asking for password.

Edit 071124:
From the UF thread (see below), run gksu-properties and disable capture-mode. I’ve looked around, but does anyone have more infos about this workaround?


UF thread
LP bug report
Xfce bugzilla report


I have been reading UbuntuHQ for a while now, after I found an incoming link in my dashboard :)
They have a nice collection of Tutorials and Tips, application reviews and news related to Ubuntu. You can browse the Howtos section here. They are a community site, meaning you can register and submit articles.

I’ve added their RSS feed to my blogroll, please feel free to subscribe to their feed, lots of good stuff :)

(Side note: nice blog theme too ;-D).

What is a rank regarding the web?

BoardReader. I had never heard of this site, I’ve just been getting lots of results from them when I perform Linux and Ubuntu Google searches lately. So I looked a little bit more into it.

The About Us page states:

Boardreader uses proprietary software that allows users to search multiple message boards simultaneously, allowing users to share information in a truly global sense.

Special retrieval and indexing algorithms as well as unique topic relevance ordering rules are but a few parts of what is needed to allow you to view what we affectionately call the ‘human experience’.


Here is the ubuntuforums page on BoardReaders. UF is ranking 19 (Apple is 9) and there is an interesting list of the most active threads and members for the week ^^
I am not sure what to make of it for now, but this is another piece of information regarding UF activity.

However, I have a couple of questions.

      1- How do they measure activity? I’m not so tech and math savvy, so even if they explained, I may not be able to understand. But I guess it should be explained, so that the results they are displaying can make sense. I suppose it has to do with numbers (posts, incoming and outgoing links, pages views etc..).
      2- They provide a ranking page. What is a rank? How is it set up? What does it mean?
      3- Is it fame, based on usage? The more a forum is used, the more relevance it has kinda thing?

World Wide Word of Mouth? Is that what ranking is? Please tell me something new.

Using restricted formats with Gutsy.

Even when you have decided you would go with free formats and applications, you can end up owning a device that only plays restricted multimedia formats (and do not wish to spend more money until its time to get a another one reading free and open-source formats), want to watch a DVD you’ve rented or bought, some videos on the intatubes, use some Microsoft fonts to share work documents with colleagues etc. The world is not perfect :)

For legal reasons, Ubuntu is not shipped with the packages that will allow you to use the restricted formats. In most parts of the world, you are however entitled to play and watch CDs or DVDs you own (you have paid for using the license, right?) on your Ubuntu system. It is illegal to use the packages to crack the protections and redistribute the files.


This package and the kubuntu or xubuntu flavors (kubuntu-restricted-extras, xubuntu-restricted-extras) is located in the multiverse repositories. It will install the following:

 gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly, gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse,
            msttcorefonts, flashplugin-nonfree, sun-java6-plugin, unrar,
            gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse,
            gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg, liblame0, libdvdread3

 Installing this package will pull in support for MP3 playback and decoding,
 support for various other audio formats (gstreamer plugins), Microsoft fonts,
 Java runtime environment, Flash plugin, LAME (to create compressed audio
 files), and DVD playback. 
 Please note that packages from multiverse are restricted by copyright or legal
 issues in some countries. See http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/licensing for more

Enable the multiverse repositories. Here is a GUI tutorial, below is a complete /etc/apt/sources.list file for Gutsy:

# Base.
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ gutsy main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ gutsy main restricted universe multiverse

## Bug fix updates.
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ gutsy-updates main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ gutsy-updates main restricted universe multiverse

# Security.
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu gutsy-security main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu gutsy-security main restricted universe multiverse

Reload the /etc/apt/sources.list file and install the package with your favorite package manager. The procedure I give here is with aptitude, please use apt-get or Synaptic if you prefer.

sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras

You’ll be pretty much set up with these.
You’ll have to accept some licenses along the install process. Use the Tab key to get to the OK button ;)

Other codecs

These are not within the Ubuntu repositories. You have to go for third party repos. Be aware that you should disable all third party repos to perform a version upgrade.

libdvdcss2 and the xxxcodecs (w32codecs, w64codecs and ppccodecs) are provided by the medibuntu project. Please look here for a tutorial.

Unfortunately, seveas repos do not have Gutsy packages yet.. Looking forward to it :)

Want to become a MOTU?

A MOTU (Master of the Universe) Q&A session will be held on Friday, November 16th, 12:00 UTC, in #ubuntu-classroom on irc.freenode.net.
Thanks to 23meg for posting this announcement in the Packaging and Compiling Programs section on UF. The Agenda:

  • MOTU processes, how to get involved, Ubuntu Development process
  • packaging


UF thread
Ubuntu-motu-mentors mailing list thread

The power of misused rm command on Ubuntu Linux

Some @##&% posted rm based commands on UF yesterday. The intent was to deliberately nuke new users systems, as the posts were in the beginners section, in unanswered, or 1-2 replies threads.

In addition to be banning the accounts and IPs and removing all the posts, we turned back on a confirmation email registration process. Many thanks to all the regular members who have been helping, placing warning in their sigs, posting in threads and reporting the infamous posts.

It is so frustrating to see this happening. There must be at least 10 pages of reports and infractions sitting around the staff area for the two posting waves we had. Breaking someone else’s system, I just do not see how funny it is. Is it for fame? Power? Out of boredom? See K.Mandla’s blog article for some interesting insights.

In any case, educating the new users is one of the answers we can give. Here is a little tutorial, based on a forum’s post where Aysiu has explained the rm command.

Excerpt from man rm:

       rm - remove files or directories
-f, --force
              ignore nonexistent files, never prompt
 -r, -R, --recursive
              remove directories and their contents recursively

So any command based on rm -rf will recursively remove files without asking for a confirmation. As everything is a file on Linux (the concept of directories does not really apply, each “directory” is a file) you can wipe everything that is sitting in the “directory” you are running the command from. Guess what happens if you run it in your /home..

Examples – DO NOT RUN THEM

Now, a precise file to delete can be indicated:

rm -rf /home
sudo rm -rf /

The first one will wipe /home, regardless from where the command is running. The second one will wipe the entire root file system (/). Admin privilege is required to access /, gained with sudo on Ubuntu.

Basic recommendations

  • Do not run these commands, unless confirmed by long time members. rm is useful and is sometimes the only solution.
  • Backup, backup and backup again. On at least two separate removable devices for important stuff. The only user I am aware of being caught in the process had everything backed up.
  • Be curious and search for commands you do not understand, either with man or a search on Google or UF. You’ll improve your knowledge and skills at the same time.
  • Read the UF announcement

Oh well.. One of these days.

PS: thanks to Stefano Rivera, see the comments below :)