LxScreenshot and LxFind: A review

Posted: Monday, May 28, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , 0 comments
These little guys are getting a bit more stable. And it's nice to see some Lubuntu specific development occurring. So, here's what we've got:

LxFind is an app to locate files and documents on your hard drive.
It's a good start. I love how fast it is. And it locates my documents as advertised. However, I was disappointed. This app was billed as "simple" and "efficient", but I have to disagree. Most of the time I search for files, I look in one specific directory. It's called Documents.

The default directory for LxFind is set to the Desktop. Who searches the Desktop? And why can't LxFind save a default location? Not very "efficient" in my opinion.

Also, for such a simple app, why is there so much clutter on the window? There should be one text input box; the rest should be hidden in a drop-down options button.

Finally, it's not quite stable. When using it, openbox crashed on me.
LxScreenshot is also off to a nice start.
Like LxFind, it's not much to look at, but it gets the job done. However, I kept asking myself why it was important. In Lubuntu, the PrtScr button works well for entire desktop shots. My only need for a program like LxScreenshot is to capture active windows. Yet, the active window shots don't include the title bar (see below). This is a deal-breaker for me.
For now, I think I'll stick with my home-grown screenshot app.

So, all-in-all, a good start. But far from perfect.
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Lubuntu Looks Upgrade

Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: 0 comments
The Lubuntu team posted some mock-ups of new artwork and icons.
The mock-ups show a continued trend away from 90's era MS theming toward an OS X or elementaryOS, minimalist style. Considering Lubuntu's lightweight, minimalist structure, these artwork changes strongly align with the mission and ideals of Lubuntu.

Well done, guys!
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Dual Monitors in Lubuntu

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , 0 comments
If you want dual monitor functionality in Lubuntu, you have limited options. The following will show you how to enable and disable dual monitors "on the fly" using aRandR as help. These directions are a bit complicated, but trust me: they are not dangerous. This is a SAFE operation.

First, get aRandR from Synaptic or by opening the terminal and pasting:
sudo apt-get install arandr
You can find your new application under Menu -> Preferences
What you see is a virtual setup of your monitor arrangement. You will almost certainly have different names for your monitor, but here is what mine looks like.
Although you haven't really done anything at this point, save this configuration.
It will automatically create a new hidden folder called .screenlayout in your home directory. I would encourage you to not change the file location to help with later steps. I would also encourage you to use my file names as well. This one should be called "single"
Now add your second monitor. It should be hooked up to your computer at this point, of course. I added mine by scrolling through the only other monitors that allowed activation and selected it.
Position the monitors however you like. I prefer side-by-side, but you may also put one above the other. It doesn't matter which one is on the left (or the top). It's all up to you! Here's what I like:
Once you have your desired configuration, save it again. This time, name the file "dual".

The last step in this whole process is creating hotkeys to switch monitor on the fly. You may want to read this post first to give you an idea of what we're doing here. In the terminal type in the following:
sudo leafpad ~/.config/openbox/lubuntu-rc.xml
Scroll down to a place where you begin to see a lot of words that say <keybind>. You don't need to know what's happening here. Simply find a place after a </keybind>, but before the next <keybind> and paste the following:
<keybind key="W-2">
<action name="Execute">
<command>sh ~/.screenlayout/dual.sh</command>

<keybind key="W-1">
<action name="Execute">
<command>sh ~/.screenlayout/single.sh</command>
Your code should look a little like this:
Save. Close. Logout.

If you did everything right, you should be able to press Super-2 to activate dual monitor mode. To go back to one monitor, such as your laptop, press Super-1.

One final note about the lxde panel. When I switched into dual mode, my panel looked a little funny. If you experience this problem, open up your files you created with aRandR in the .screenlayout directory. Add the following lines to the bottom of the files:
lxpanelctl restart
Credit for much of this comes from this official Lubuntu screencast. If the method above doesn't work for you, the screencast give some other methods for achieving a dual monitor setup. Good luck.
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Lubuntu Panel Location

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , 0 comments
If you are using docky and want to move the Lubuntu Panel to the top of the monitor, here's how.

First, secondary-click (left-click) the panel at any location and chose "Panel Settings."
Second, click on the "top" edge radio button.
If you want to change the color of your panel, click on the appearance tab and select the "solid color" option.
I use the following options WITH approximately 50% opacity. If you want to see my entire desktop, click here.
Finally, if you're using docky and want applications to minimize to the dock rather than the panel, remove the "Task Bar" applet from the "Panel Applets" menu. Here's my setup:
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Lubuntu Office

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , , 0 comments
Lubuntu ships with Abiword and Gnumeric as the default office programs. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of both of these apps. But I've found certain parts of LibreOffice Writer to be essential. Although it is not as light as Abiword, writer is still snappy and the extra options are extremely useful.
If you're not familiar with LibreOffice, it's a fork of OpenOffice, and is considered by many to be hold the brightest future of the two. It is now the default office suite in Ubuntu.

To install the whole suite, paste the following into the terminal.
sudo apt-get install libreoffice
To only install the writer:
sudo apt-get install libreoffice-writer
This past week, after a software upgrade, the entire office suite got a nice visual upgrade. That is, it no longer looks like it runs on Windows, circa 1995.

I can't fail two mention two more essential (in my opinion) add-ons to LibreOffice Writer.

The first, is the Faenza icon theme. It's not colorful, but I love the minimalist, crisp feel. You can download it here with install directions.

The second add-on is the TexMaths extension.
It's an insanely fast, Latex editor for equations. Once you get hooked, MS word equation editor will seem incredibly dated.
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Lubuntu Digital Clock

Posted: | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , 0 comments
Editing the digital clock in the Lubuntu panel is always one of my first tweaks after a fresh install.
To edit The format of the clock, secondary-click the clock text and select "digital clock settings."
However, I always forget which letters correspond to which date format. I've posted some of them below, but this tool will solve all your problems with a simple drag and drop web interface.
%a - The abbreviated weekday name (Sun)
%A - The full weekday name (Sunday)
%b - The abbreviated month name (Jan)
%B - The full month name (January)
%d - Day of the month (01..31)
%e - Day of the month (1..31)
%H - Hour of the day, 24-hour clock (00..23)
%I - Hour of the day, 12-hour clock (01..12)
%l - Hour of the day ()
%j - Day of the year (001..366)
%m - Month of the year (01..12)
%M - Minute of the hour (00..59)
%p - Meridian indicator (AM or PM)
%S - Second of the minute (00..60)
%w - Day of the week (Sunday is 0, 0..6)
%y - Year without a century (00..99)
%Y - Year with century
%Z - Time zone name
%% - Literal % character
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Lubuntu Autostart Programs

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , , 0 comments
Lubuntu 11.04+
If you need an application or process to automatically start at login in Lubuntu, you simply need to copy and paste applications from your applications folder into your autostart folder.

In your file browser, navigate to the applications folder:
Find your targeted autostart program and copy it by secondary-clicking or CNTRL-c.
Next, navigate your file manager to the autostart folder:
Paste your application by secondary-clicking or CTRL-v.
That's it! This can be used to autostart Dropbox, Docky, etc.

If you want to autostart a process instead, you'll need to create a separate .desktop file that executes the process you want. A simple file that opens alsamixer looks like this:
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Alsa Mixer
You can change the Name and Exec to whatever you want. Save it as filename.desktop.

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MSI-X370 Ubuntu USB Problems

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , , 0 comments
Ubuntu (and derivatives) 11.10 and 12.04
I recently purchased the beautiful, lightweight MSI-X370. Besides some audio issues I had, I highly recommend this laptop for Lubuntu... that is, until Ubuntu 11.10 came out.
My USB drives won't work now. I'm sure this isn't a complete fix, but it does solve the problem.

In the terminal, copy-paste:
sudo leafpad /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
Note: if you are running Ubuntu, change leafpad to gedit, of course.

At the very bottom of the page, add the following line. Save. Reboot.
blacklist rts5139
I hope that helps...
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Lubuntu 12.04

Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , 0 comments
Lubuntu 12.04 was released a few days ago. After some configuration changes, here is my desktop:

(1) Moved panel to the top. Semi-transparent. Added Faenza icons, but I liked the elementaryOS panel icons better. Elementary background. Docky.
(2) PCManFM and the "updated theme" -- looks the same to me.
(3) My favorite: Synapse.
(4) The new Lubuntu Software Center. Looking good.
As for stability? I had a few things crash in the days right after the release. I can't say I have much to complain about now, however. Solid release.
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Lubuntu Sound on MSI X370

Posted: | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , , 0 comments
I had trouble getting sound to work on my MSI X370 after loading both Lubuntu 11.10 and 12.04. If you're having similar issues, here's what I did to get it working.
First, I installed pulseaudio and alsamixer from the Synaptic Package Manager. Open Synaptic, and search for the two items.

Pulseaudio got sound working again, but I was still having trouble binding my audio keys to the sound card because it wasn't treated as the default card. To change the default card, I entered the following into the terminal
sudo leafpad /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf
and added this line to the bottom of the file:
options snd_hda_intel index=1
Reboot and crank it loud!
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Lubuntu Hotkeys / Keybindings

Posted: | Posted by Aaron Hampshire | Labels: , 0 comments
Lubuntu 11.04 onwards.
There is no easy GUI shipped with Lubuntu for editing hotkeys. The easiest way to create key bindings for Lubuntu is by opening the terminal and pasting in the following code.
sudo leafpad ~/.config/openbox/lubuntu-rc.xml
This will open the hotkey configuration editor. At this point, you will need to search for the item you wish to edit. The following will help with some of the key codes:
C - Control Key
A - Alt Key
S - Shift Key
W - Super/Windows Key
Tab - Tab
Up - Up Arrow
Down - Down Arrow
Left - Left Arrow
Right - Right Arrow
Here's an example which binds Firefox to the key SUPER+f:
<keybind key="W-f">
    <action name="Execute">
Have fun...
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