Skip to main content

At Work with Linux: A Little Further Digging into Ubuntu

Three instances of Google's Chrome on the Unity desktop

Those three instances in tile layout after clicking the Chrome icon in the Unity launcher

In digging a little further into how Ubuntu 11.10 works, I installed Real Google Chrome. I then used Chrome to create a shortcut to Oracle Java on the desktop (via Wrench | Tools | Create Application Shortcuts), then experimented a bit with the results.

If you're not familiar with Google's browser "applications", know that when Google's Chrome creates a shortcut to a web page, on execution (double click the shortcut on the desktop) the shortcut launches Chrome as an application without any of the tabs or other decorations present on the regular Google Chrome browser. For those who are used to multiple tabs in one browser instead of multiple browser instances on the desktop this behavior can be somewhat surprising.

Unit's left-side launcher provides nominal visual feedback as to what is going on. In the case above I had three Chrome instances running on the desktop. On the left of the Chrome icon there were three little lit triangles. Clicking on the Chrome icon on the launcher arrayed all three instances in tile-like fashion allowing you to pick a specific instance. This is a nice touch to handling multiple instance clutter, but it will work only if there are a few running instances, and doesn't provide the same visually rich detail that tabs can provide. This doesn't make as much sense for the classic desktop as it does for a tablet screen, but even then tabbed browsers have adapted rather nicely to tablet interfaces, or at least I believe it has under Android Honeycomb on the Asus Transformer and Motorola Xoom.

There's nothing magical about Unity desktop shortcuts. They're bog-standard simple [application-name].desktop text files in the Desktop folder. This, of course, is the way it's been for some time now with Gnome. As the contents of the desktop file are text-based any editor can be used to modify it such as vi/vim, gedit, or emacs, to name but three. You can also create .desktop files from scratch, or copy a working one to a new file and then edit that. Yes, it's annoying that you can't create a shortcut directly from the desktop, but you can at least create desktop launchers the "old fashioned" way. Once you've added a shortcut to the Desktop folder that new shortcut will appear on the desktop automatically almost instantly. Creating shortcuts by adding or editing files to the Desktop folder is Absolutely No Big Deal, but for others it may be. Your Mileage May Vary.

I've reached the end of personal experimentation with Ubuntu and Unity. We will use it as a generic visual workstation, but for development we'll fall back to a selection of distributions we are already familiar with, primarily RHEL, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. We may draft Linux Mint as a more developer-friendly distribution for specific Ubuntu development if and when that opportunity presents itself.


Popular posts from this blog

A Decade Long Religious Con Job

I rarely write inflammatory (what some might call trolling) titles to a post, but this building you see before you deserves it. I've been seeing this building next to I-4 just east of Altamonte/436 and Crane's Roost for nearly 12 years, and never knew who owned it. Today on a trip up to Lake Mary with my wife I saw it yet again. That's when I told her I wanted to stop by on the way back and poke around the property, and photograph any parts of it if I could.

What I discovered was this still unfinished eighteen story (I counted) white elephant, overgrown with weeds and yet still under slow-motion construction. It looks impressive with its exterior glass curtain walls, but that impression is quickly lost when you see the unfinished lower stories and look inside to the unfinished interior spaces.

A quick check via Google leads to an article written in 2010 by the Orlando Sentinel about the Majesty Tower. Based on what I read in the article it's owned by SuperChannel 55 WA…

Be Careful of Capital One Mailings

Capitol One ("What's in your wallet?") sent me a bit of deceptive snail mail today. I felt sure it was a credit card offer, and sure enough, it was. I open all credit card offers and shred them before putting them in the trash. Normally I just scan the front to make sure I don't miss anything; the Capital One offer made me stop for a moment and strike a bit of fear into my heart.

The letter's opening sentence read:
Our records as of December 30, 2009 indicate your Capital One Platinum MasterCard offer is currently valid and active.Not paying close attention during the first reading, I quickly developed this irrational worry that I was actually on the hook for something important, but I wasn't quite sure what. The letter listed "three ways to reply" at the bottom; via phone, the internet, and regular snail mail. I elected to call.

Once I reached the automated phone response system, the first entry offered was '1', to "activate my Capital …

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…