Fun with Gwibber themes

In order to be fully buzzword compliant, all conference type gatherings in this web 2.0 social media age now have a compulsory twitter tag and live twitter projected display. Oggcamp (which, I would just like to mention, The Open Learning Centre is sponsoring) is no exception to this rule, but being all about Free culture needs to incorporate (or dents alongside the tweets. The best way to do this is to leverage (I have a buzzword for every situation) the existing technology and make Gwibber fit for the purpose of projecting a continuous stream following a hash tag at a conference. The first thing it needs is a full screen mode. I have hacked one in, but it needs a bit of improvement, some more bits really need to be hidden when in presentation mode. The next thing I wanted to do was give each of the various hashtag pipelines (or “hash pipes” as I like to call them) it’s own theme. This bit was tricky as the search query isn’t currently available to the theme engine. I asked the upstream developers for a bit of guidance at this point and within 15 minutes of me explaining what I wanted to do I was given a new patch by segphault that exposes the search query to the theme.

So now I have a nearly finished Oggcamp theme which adapts when it sees you searching for #oggcamp, #ubuntu, #lo, #shotofjaq or #uupc. If I missed out any interesting hashtags then do let me know. Screenshot below is it running fullscreen on my 2048×1152 monitor. In reality it would be tracking two of them on a 1024×768 projector, but this shows all the hash pipe themes together, click to go large.

I will be pushing up a bzr branch of all this so you can play with it in the comfort of your own home or your own conference. If you have further suggestions, or want to help tweak it a bit more, then give me a shout in the comments.

Ubuntu Rebranding

We have known for quite a while that aubergine was likely to be the new brown and this week the new look for Ubuntu has been shown for the first time. Here is the new logo, complete with the white on orange circle of friends image.

So what colour is that exactly? I copied the logo into the Gimp and used the eye dropper tool to pick out the orange from the circle of friends. The top set of three sliders show the hue as a location round the colour wheel in degrees, saturation and value are basically the amount of white and black added to it. So this orange lives at 23 degrees.

Now lets take a look at the aubergine that makes an appearance as a solid colour on the startup screen.

Using the same trick in the Gimp we can see that the aubergine is a dark shade of the hue at 323 degrees, exactly 60 degrees apart from the orange. Relationships between colours on the wheel tell you whether colours will go together or clash. I have to admit to not actually understanding this aesthetically, but I like the numbers behind it all. I expect 60 degrees mean they go together jolly well.

So what does this branding mean for us? Well it is aiming to provide a more professional and enterprise feel to Ubuntu, which is exactly what we want. It also means we have rather a lot of printed leaflets with an Ubuntu solution provider logo that is going out of fashion soon, we will have to get them out in front of customers as soon as possible!

The comings and goings of the partner repo

The comments in the previous post raised an interesting question about the Ubuntu/Canonical partner repository. What exactly is in it for the various releases? Did Zimbra ever get in? Well the repos are all publicly available so we can go see. Here are the contents of the partner repo from Dapper to Lucid. Caveats are that there could have been stuff in at a point in time that have subsequently been removed and Lucid is not released yet so the list there is rather more suspect than the others. I also don’t know when things were added to each distro, it could be that packages have been incrementally added to Hardy as it is the current Long Term Support release, maybe the Lucid list will grow over time, maybe a bunch of those Hardy packages will go in to Lucid as it is the next LTS release. What does it all mean? I don’t know. What do you think?

The Zimbra story is interesting. It isn’t in the list below, but as Jef Spaleta points out, the Zimbra desktop package for Hardy is in the pool. I, for one, am puzzled by this.

Dapper 6.06
Edgy 6.10
nothing at all
Feisty 7.04
nothing at all
Gutsy 7.10
nothing at all
Hardy 8.04
Intrepid 8.10
Jaunty 9.04
Karmic 9.10
Lucid 10.04

Using Facebook XMPP chat on Ubuntu

The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Hi everyone, my name is Alan and I do have a Facebook account. There, done it. Feels better already.
I don’t use it that much, and frankly I find it a little disturbing the way it mixes up all your friends, family and work contacts so they all talk to each other. But this isn’t a post about my insecurities and paranoid delusions. No, it is a post about Ubuntu and XMPP. Facebook now does XMPP, which is an instant messaging protocol also known as Jabber. It is the same thing Google talk uses and the same thing that the most awesome OLPC XO uses for communication.

  • First up you need to set a facebook username up. Log on to facebook and go to your account settings page. Set your username if you haven’t already. I chose alanbelltolc, to match my twitter and names. Now I think you have to log out of facebook and back in – this might not be appears to be a necessary step.
  • Now run Empathy, Applications-Internet-Empathy Instant Messenger.
  • Press F4 or go to Edit-Accounts in the Empathy menu.
  • Press the Add button and choose Jabber from the dropdown list of account types.
  • Press the Create button.
  • Your login ID is – we think it prefers all lower case
  • Your password is your facebook password
  • Now make sure the account is enabled (checkbox next to the account name on the left)
  • It may ask you if you want to let it save your password in the gnome keyring at this point.
  • Make yourself available and the names and pictures of both of your friends should appear!

The account setting dialog as you go through the setup:

You can chat with your friends

You even get lovely libnotify popups like this one >>

If you want to try it out on someone please feel free to find me on Facebook and . . . um what is the verb? XMPP me? Jab me? Next up I will have to take Debian off my OLPC, put Sugar back on and try and get Sugar to use Facebook as a back end.

Is Canonical Becoming The New Microsoft? [Updated]

[Update: It seems I made my point very badly. Please read this follow-up post where I try to explain what I was asking].

Whoah! Hold on everyone. Let me don my asbestos suit first will you.


Right then. I have been thinking about this post for some time and I think the time is probably right for pressing the old “publish” button.

I am not trying to incite riots or wars in the halls of residence or corridors of power but Canonical/Ubuntu is starting to catch more “bad karma” than is healthy for it IMHO.

  • Let’s start with Mono. Yep. It’s been a prickly thorn for many and the concerns expressed are not going away. There’s no point in raking over the old ground; it is just one of the bad-karma attractants in a growing list.
  • Then we have Ubuntu One. Proprietary, closed, caused much debate and friction when announced and now the possibility of a Windows version too.
  • Next comes dumping GIMP, OOo and other much-loved applications from the default installation of versions of the forthcoming distribution.
  • Then the discussion about what closed/proprietary applications should be made available in the Ubuntu repositories.
  • Then we have the change of the default search engine from Google to Microsoft Yahoo.
  • Then Matt Asay joins as COO which should be, and probably is, good news. Matt is well known, respected and experienced, yet some of his prodigious public commentary tugs at the heartstrings of many a Freedom Fighter.

I don’t really want to comment on the individual points above; the point is that this list is growing…

I really like Ubuntu. I use it everywhere, I help in the Ubuntu-uk irc channel when I can and we [our company] promote Ubuntu to our customers and I [as an individual] to friends and family.

What concerns me is not any particular item in the list above: some I care about, others I do not; as I am sure many of you will do too. It is the increasing volume of criticism and vitriol as a whole. It is getting louder. This, I believe, is indicative of a turning tide that, if we are not careful, will result in Ubuntu losing popularity and more of the FOSS community exercising it’s freedom.

I’m pretty thick-skinned (I think I will need to be with this post!) so if you think I am barking up the wrong tree, or just plain barking, then say so. But I am noticing increasing criticism and anti-Ubuntu rhetoric which is not just because it is becoming more popular, although that is certainly one factor.

Something is changing and I am not sure it is for the good of Ubuntu or our community.

Indicator Applet & libnotify support for Thunderbird

Thunderbird Preferences

Thunderbird Preferences

This looks great!

I’ve never really got on with Gnome‘s Evolution (the default mail client in Ubuntu) and so always install Thunderbird, Lightning and other great extensions for the Mozilla family of products on my Ubuntu desktops and laptops. Since the new notification tool (9.04?) and then the Indicator Applet (9.10) were introduced however, Thunderbird hasn’t been able to avail itself of these useful tools. Until now.

Ruben Verweij has created a small Thunderbird extension that seems to fix this limitation. Simply follow the very clear and easy instructions on his blog post to create the .xpi package and then install it in the usual manner. I had to install the Ubuntu package libnotify-bin to get the notifications working but that was easy: sudo apt-get install libnotify-bin.

You can then turn off Thunderbird’s internal notification tool as shown here. This stops the old-fashioned opaque pop ups that usually appear in the bottom right of the screen.

As Ruben is clear to point out this is still experimental so all the usual rules apply and YMMV.

Libnotify Preferences

Libnotify Preferences

It has worked for me so far and was easy to install and set-up. In fact, I only just noticed, whilst I was writing this, that there is a “preferences” dialogue for the extension. Short and sweet:

Thanks Ruben, this is a great addition.

« Previous PageNext Page »