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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Introduction

If you read my recent review of Ubuntu 16.04 you will know that despite the Ubuntu Software Centre being replaced by the GNOME Software installer the same problems are still there, notably that you can't easily install Chrome, Dropbox, Steam, Skype and the multimedia codecs.

In this guide I am going to introduce you to a tool which will help you install all of these packages and many more.

It is worth noting that you will have to add a third party PPA but believe me it is worth it.

Introducing Ubuntu After Install

























The tool I am going to show you today is Ubuntu After Install. You can read more about it by visiting https://www.thefanclub.co.za/how-to/ubuntu-after-install.

All you really need to know however is that using this tool you can download and install any or all of the following applications:

  • Ubuntu Restricted Extras - Multimedia Codecs
  • Videolan libdvdcss2 - Allows you to play DVDs
  • Unity Tweak Tool
  • Numix Circle Icons Theme
  • Variety - Wallpaper Changer
  • My Weather Indicator - Weather indicator
  • Google Chrome
  • Tor Browser
  • LibreOffice (already installed)
  • Telegram - messenger
  • Skype
  • Pidgin - messenger
  • Dropbox
  • Kodi - media centre
  • VLC - media player
  • Radio Tray - online radio
  • Spotify
  • Gimp - Image editing
  • Darktable - Image processor
  • Inkscape - Image editing
  • Scribus - DTP
  • Openshot - Video editing
  • Kdenlive - Video editing
  • Handbrake - Video transcoder
  • Audacity - Sound editor
  • Steam - Games platform
  • Keepassx - Password manager
  • Shutter - Screenshot tool
  • Filezilla - FTP client
  • Bleachblt - Secure file and history deletion
  • Samba - File sharing
  • PDF Tools - PDF editing
  • p7zip - Compression
  • Oracle Java 7
  • Atom - Code editor
  • Brackets - Web development
Now I am not suggesting you will want to install all of these but there is bound to be something on that list that you will require.

How To Get Ubuntu After Install

Open a terminal window by pressing CTRL, ALT and T at the same time.


Enter the following command into the terminal:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:thefanclub/ubuntu-after-install

A message will appear telling you what the PPA is about. Press enter to continue adding the repository.

Now enter the following command:

sudo apt-get update



Finally enter the following command to install the software:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-after-install

Running The Software






















Press the super key on the keyboard (Windows key). Type "Ubuntu" into the search bar and an icon for "Ubuntu After Install" should appear. Click on the icon.

The Ubuntu After Install Interface































The user interface is very basic. 

There is a list of applications. 

To the left of the application is a checkbox. If you leave the check in the box the application will be installed.

To the right of the application is a little circle. If the circle is green the application is already installed.

Rather annoyingly all of the applications are checked by default. If you just want to install a few applications you have to untick all the other applications. The interface could do with a select none button and a select all button.

I used the application to install Skype and Dropbox.































I already had the Restricted Extras and Chrome installed.

When I clicked install both applications were installed correctly as shown below.






















Issues

The procedure wasn't entirely as simple as clicking install. Dropbox required clicking another download button before it installed completely.

I would therefore recommend that installing one or two applications at a time because you might find more and more installers requiring input.

I can already envisage Steam requiring a large update and license agreements appearing.

The only other thing to note is that despite the application stating it had completely installed both applications the Skype progress bar was only at 99% which is a bit disconcerting. Did it or did it not fully install?.

As you can see it did install but there is obviously a slight error with the progress bar.

Summary

This is a great tool which will save people time when installing much needed applications within Ubuntu.

To be honest the tool shouldn't be required because Ubuntu's own package manager should make it this easy.

However things are what they are and hopefully highlighting the availability of this package will help.






How To Install Chrome, Dropbox, Skype and Codecs The Easy Way Within Ubuntu 16.04

Introduction

If you read my recent review of Ubuntu 16.04 you will know that despite the Ubuntu Software Centre being replaced by the GNOME Software installer the same problems are still there, notably that you can't easily install Chrome, Dropbox, Steam, Skype and the multimedia codecs.

In this guide I am going to introduce you to a tool which will help you install all of these packages and many more.

It is worth noting that you will have to add a third party PPA but believe me it is worth it.

Introducing Ubuntu After Install

























The tool I am going to show you today is Ubuntu After Install. You can read more about it by visiting https://www.thefanclub.co.za/how-to/ubuntu-after-install.

All you really need to know however is that using this tool you can download and install any or all of the following applications:

  • Ubuntu Restricted Extras - Multimedia Codecs
  • Videolan libdvdcss2 - Allows you to play DVDs
  • Unity Tweak Tool
  • Numix Circle Icons Theme
  • Variety - Wallpaper Changer
  • My Weather Indicator - Weather indicator
  • Google Chrome
  • Tor Browser
  • LibreOffice (already installed)
  • Telegram - messenger
  • Skype
  • Pidgin - messenger
  • Dropbox
  • Kodi - media centre
  • VLC - media player
  • Radio Tray - online radio
  • Spotify
  • Gimp - Image editing
  • Darktable - Image processor
  • Inkscape - Image editing
  • Scribus - DTP
  • Openshot - Video editing
  • Kdenlive - Video editing
  • Handbrake - Video transcoder
  • Audacity - Sound editor
  • Steam - Games platform
  • Keepassx - Password manager
  • Shutter - Screenshot tool
  • Filezilla - FTP client
  • Bleachblt - Secure file and history deletion
  • Samba - File sharing
  • PDF Tools - PDF editing
  • p7zip - Compression
  • Oracle Java 7
  • Atom - Code editor
  • Brackets - Web development
Now I am not suggesting you will want to install all of these but there is bound to be something on that list that you will require.

How To Get Ubuntu After Install

Open a terminal window by pressing CTRL, ALT and T at the same time.


Enter the following command into the terminal:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:thefanclub/ubuntu-after-install

A message will appear telling you what the PPA is about. Press enter to continue adding the repository.

Now enter the following command:

sudo apt-get update



Finally enter the following command to install the software:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-after-install

Running The Software






















Press the super key on the keyboard (Windows key). Type "Ubuntu" into the search bar and an icon for "Ubuntu After Install" should appear. Click on the icon.

The Ubuntu After Install Interface































The user interface is very basic. 

There is a list of applications. 

To the left of the application is a checkbox. If you leave the check in the box the application will be installed.

To the right of the application is a little circle. If the circle is green the application is already installed.

Rather annoyingly all of the applications are checked by default. If you just want to install a few applications you have to untick all the other applications. The interface could do with a select none button and a select all button.

I used the application to install Skype and Dropbox.































I already had the Restricted Extras and Chrome installed.

When I clicked install both applications were installed correctly as shown below.






















Issues

The procedure wasn't entirely as simple as clicking install. Dropbox required clicking another download button before it installed completely.

I would therefore recommend that installing one or two applications at a time because you might find more and more installers requiring input.

I can already envisage Steam requiring a large update and license agreements appearing.

The only other thing to note is that despite the application stating it had completely installed both applications the Skype progress bar was only at 99% which is a bit disconcerting. Did it or did it not fully install?.

As you can see it did install but there is obviously a slight error with the progress bar.

Summary

This is a great tool which will save people time when installing much needed applications within Ubuntu.

To be honest the tool shouldn't be required because Ubuntu's own package manager should make it this easy.

However things are what they are and hopefully highlighting the availability of this package will help.






Posted at 20:27 |  by Gary Newell

Introduction

Many of the comments at the bottom of my guides for dual booting Windows 10 with Ubuntu relate to the use of SSDs.

In this guide I am going to show you how I dual booted Ubuntu and Windows 10 on my Lenovo Y700 Ideapad which contains a 128 gigabyte SSD and a 1 terabyte hard drive.

I have dedicated a whole new post for this guide as there is enough information to warrant it but there are links to other guides for areas that cross over.

Backup Your Computer

I always start with this option because you need to know that you can get back to where you started should something go awry.

Follow this guide which shows the safest way to back up Windows 10.

Create A Bootable Ubuntu USB Drive

In order to install Ubuntu you will need a bootable Ubuntu USB drive.



You can either follow this guide which shows how to create a USB drive using Win32 Disk Imager or you can purchase a Ubuntu USB drive from here.

Disk Management

This is where the major part of the guide differs from the previous one. 






















Right click on the start button and when the menu appears choose "Disk Management".






















The image above shows how the disks on my laptop were partitioned prior to me changing them.

Quite frankly they are ridiculous and I suspect other people who have bought laptops also have poorly thought out installations by the manufacturers.

Disk 0 represents the 128 gigabyte SSD and Disk 1 represents the 1 gigabyte hard drive.

So Why is this disk layout ridiculous?

The best performance you will get is when you are reading from the SSD. There are 2 recovery partitions installed on that very same SSD.

The whole point of recovery partitions is that they sit out of the way and are only read when you are up a creek without a paddle.

Therefore there is over 20 gigabytes of SSD totally wasted. There is also a recovery area on the hard drive which takes up over 70 gigabytes. 

I think it is sensible to have recovery partitions on the hard drive as although they waste space they are wasting space on the drive you want to use least.

I use Windows very infrequently so I don't need the Windows recovery partitions. I therefore decided to get rid of the Windows recovery partitions and keep the 1 gigabyte OEM partition and the recovery partition on the hard drive. This means I can always do a factory restore. (I have Windows 10 on a USB drive so there really isn't any need for me to keep this really either).























To remove the recovery partitions I opened an administrators command prompt by right clicking on the start button and choosing "Command Prompt (Admin)" from the menu.

The command line tool I used is called diskpart.

To run diskpart simply type diskpart into the command window.

You can view the disks on the computer by typing list disk.

From the image above you will see that disk 0 and disk 1 were returned.

The disk I wanted to work on was disk 0 which is the SSD. To select the disk you wish to amend type select disk n where n is the number of the disk.

To see the partitions on a disk type list partition.

As you can see I have 6 partitions listed. I wanted to remove partition 4 and partition 5 which were the recovery partitions.























To select a partition the command to use is select partition n where n is the number of the partition.

Normally to delete a partition all you have to do is type delete partition.

Recovery partitions are special though and are protected from deletion. You can force the deletion of the partition by typing delete partition override.












































The above image shows my disk after removing the recovery partitions.

Now 20 gigabytes is just about enough for Ubuntu but I wanted more so I reduced the size of the Windows partition as follows.






















To shrink a partition right click on it and choose "Shrink Volume" from the menu.


A window will appear and it will show you how much you can afford to shrink Windows by.  You can choose less than the amount specified but never more.

When you feel you have enough space click "Shrink". I went for the default option.























As you can see I now have nearly 60 gigabytes free for installing Ubuntu to on the SSD.

Power Options






















To be able to boot into Ubuntu you will need to adjust the power options so that your computer can boot from the USB drive.

Right click on the start button and choose "Power Options".





















From the menu click on the option "Choose what the power option does". 

At the top of the screen you will see a link with the words "Change settings that are currently unavailable".

Now scroll down and make sure the "Turn on fast startup" does not have tick in it. If it does click on it until it doesn't.

Click "Save Changes".

Boot Into Ubuntu Live






















To boot into Ubuntu hold down the shift key whilst logged into Windows. Reboot the computer whilst holding down the shift key.

A window will appear with UEFI boot settings. Choose to boot from an external device and choose boot from EFI device.

You should now boot into a live session of Ubuntu.

Install Ubuntu

If you want to be able to install updates during the installation click on the network icon in the top right corner and choose your wireless network. Enter the security key when requested. 

If you are happy to wait until after the installation before installing updates do not worry about connecting to the internet. 

If you have a poor internet connection I recommend not installing updates until after the installation has completed.






















Double click on the install icon on the desktop. The above welcome message should appear. 

Choose your installation language and click "Continue".




















If you haven't connected to the internet then the download updates option will be greyed out but if you have connected you can choose to download updates.

Also on this screen you can choose to install third party codecs which make it possible to play MP3 audio.

Note the option that says that you need to turn off secure boot to install the codecs. It is actually easier to not install codecs now and do it post installation whereby you won't have to do anything with secure boot.

Click "Continue".






Rather strangely I was asked whether I wanted to unmount the SSD before installing. I clicked "No" to this option.



















Normally at this stage I would say to choose the "Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot Manager" option but because I want to show how to partition the drive manually I suggest using the "Something Else" option. This allows you to specify where each partition is located.





















The next screen shows the layout of your disks. In my case there are partitions on /dev/sda and /dev/sdb.

What you are looking for is the free/unallocated space on /dev/sda which is the SSD and free/unallocated space on /dev/sdb which is the hard drive.

I chose to go for a full install of Ubuntu on the SSD as I will be using this regularly. I also decided to create a swap partition although with 16 gigabytes of RAM this is probably wasted disk space. I therefore put the swap partition on the hard drive.

To create a partition click on the free space on /dev/sda and press the plus symbol.



For the size I chose the whole of the space on the SSD. It is a primary partition and I want to use the beginning of the space (although it doesn't really matter because I am choosing all the space).

I chose EXT4 as the file system and / as the mount point. Clicking OK creates the partition and returns you to the disk layout screen.

With the SSD now completely allocated I moved on to the hard drive.

To create a swap partition I clicked on the free space on /dev/sdb and press the button with the plus symbol again.


I went for the full 16 gigabytes to match the amount of RAM in my machine. This is severely overkill but as I wasn't limited for disk space I went for it anyway.

Again I set the partition to primary but note that I chose to use the end of the space. In theory as this should be hardly used moving it to the end of the disk seems a sensible idea.

The only other thing to note is that I set the use as drop down list to "swap area". Clicking OK takes me back to the disk layout screen.

The rest of the hard drive is still an empty block of free space so what should I do with it?


I chose to create a 50 gigabyte FAT32 partition which gives me a nice area to share files between Linux and Windows without worrying about one not being overly happy with NTFS and the other not being at all happy with EXT4.



The rest I partitioned as a large block of space as an EXT4 partition. This is where I will store all of my larger files that I won't use regularly. Things like movies would fit well into this space.

Note that for these partitions I didn't choose a mount point. I did that later on in the Ubuntu disks tool as it is more user friendly.

With both of the disks now fully allocated I clicked the "Install Now" button. A message appears showing the partitions that will be created. Just continue past this screen.

The rest of the installation is fairly ordinary.

Select where you live by clicking on the map. This will set the time correctly on your computer.


Choose your keyboard layout by selecting the language in the left pane and the layout in the right pane.

Finally create a user. Enter your name and a name for your computer.

Then enter a user name and choose a password and repeat it. 

By default the setup requires you to log in every time you boot but you can get your computer to log in automatically by selecting the option but I don't recommend this.

Click "Continue".

The files will now be copied across and the system will be installed.


Finally you will be asked whether you want to continue testing or restart now. 

You can try rebooting and if the computer boots straight to Windows reinsert the USB drive and hold down the shift key and reboot back to the UEFI boot screen as you did before to get into the live version of Ubuntu.

Then follow this guide which shows how to use EFI Boot Manager to change the boot order.

Summary

When you have finished it is worth following this guide which shows 33 things to do after installing Ubuntu.

Also check out my new guide which shows how to show common applications such as Chrome, Dropbox and Steam easily in Ubuntu.

I am not saying my way is the only way to format the SSD and I welcome comments and suggestions in regards to this area.

The current layout is working well for me however.






How To Dual Boot Ubuntu And Windows 10 Using An SSD

Introduction

Many of the comments at the bottom of my guides for dual booting Windows 10 with Ubuntu relate to the use of SSDs.

In this guide I am going to show you how I dual booted Ubuntu and Windows 10 on my Lenovo Y700 Ideapad which contains a 128 gigabyte SSD and a 1 terabyte hard drive.

I have dedicated a whole new post for this guide as there is enough information to warrant it but there are links to other guides for areas that cross over.

Backup Your Computer

I always start with this option because you need to know that you can get back to where you started should something go awry.

Follow this guide which shows the safest way to back up Windows 10.

Create A Bootable Ubuntu USB Drive

In order to install Ubuntu you will need a bootable Ubuntu USB drive.



You can either follow this guide which shows how to create a USB drive using Win32 Disk Imager or you can purchase a Ubuntu USB drive from here.

Disk Management

This is where the major part of the guide differs from the previous one. 






















Right click on the start button and when the menu appears choose "Disk Management".






















The image above shows how the disks on my laptop were partitioned prior to me changing them.

Quite frankly they are ridiculous and I suspect other people who have bought laptops also have poorly thought out installations by the manufacturers.

Disk 0 represents the 128 gigabyte SSD and Disk 1 represents the 1 gigabyte hard drive.

So Why is this disk layout ridiculous?

The best performance you will get is when you are reading from the SSD. There are 2 recovery partitions installed on that very same SSD.

The whole point of recovery partitions is that they sit out of the way and are only read when you are up a creek without a paddle.

Therefore there is over 20 gigabytes of SSD totally wasted. There is also a recovery area on the hard drive which takes up over 70 gigabytes. 

I think it is sensible to have recovery partitions on the hard drive as although they waste space they are wasting space on the drive you want to use least.

I use Windows very infrequently so I don't need the Windows recovery partitions. I therefore decided to get rid of the Windows recovery partitions and keep the 1 gigabyte OEM partition and the recovery partition on the hard drive. This means I can always do a factory restore. (I have Windows 10 on a USB drive so there really isn't any need for me to keep this really either).























To remove the recovery partitions I opened an administrators command prompt by right clicking on the start button and choosing "Command Prompt (Admin)" from the menu.

The command line tool I used is called diskpart.

To run diskpart simply type diskpart into the command window.

You can view the disks on the computer by typing list disk.

From the image above you will see that disk 0 and disk 1 were returned.

The disk I wanted to work on was disk 0 which is the SSD. To select the disk you wish to amend type select disk n where n is the number of the disk.

To see the partitions on a disk type list partition.

As you can see I have 6 partitions listed. I wanted to remove partition 4 and partition 5 which were the recovery partitions.























To select a partition the command to use is select partition n where n is the number of the partition.

Normally to delete a partition all you have to do is type delete partition.

Recovery partitions are special though and are protected from deletion. You can force the deletion of the partition by typing delete partition override.












































The above image shows my disk after removing the recovery partitions.

Now 20 gigabytes is just about enough for Ubuntu but I wanted more so I reduced the size of the Windows partition as follows.






















To shrink a partition right click on it and choose "Shrink Volume" from the menu.


A window will appear and it will show you how much you can afford to shrink Windows by.  You can choose less than the amount specified but never more.

When you feel you have enough space click "Shrink". I went for the default option.























As you can see I now have nearly 60 gigabytes free for installing Ubuntu to on the SSD.

Power Options






















To be able to boot into Ubuntu you will need to adjust the power options so that your computer can boot from the USB drive.

Right click on the start button and choose "Power Options".





















From the menu click on the option "Choose what the power option does". 

At the top of the screen you will see a link with the words "Change settings that are currently unavailable".

Now scroll down and make sure the "Turn on fast startup" does not have tick in it. If it does click on it until it doesn't.

Click "Save Changes".

Boot Into Ubuntu Live






















To boot into Ubuntu hold down the shift key whilst logged into Windows. Reboot the computer whilst holding down the shift key.

A window will appear with UEFI boot settings. Choose to boot from an external device and choose boot from EFI device.

You should now boot into a live session of Ubuntu.

Install Ubuntu

If you want to be able to install updates during the installation click on the network icon in the top right corner and choose your wireless network. Enter the security key when requested. 

If you are happy to wait until after the installation before installing updates do not worry about connecting to the internet. 

If you have a poor internet connection I recommend not installing updates until after the installation has completed.






















Double click on the install icon on the desktop. The above welcome message should appear. 

Choose your installation language and click "Continue".




















If you haven't connected to the internet then the download updates option will be greyed out but if you have connected you can choose to download updates.

Also on this screen you can choose to install third party codecs which make it possible to play MP3 audio.

Note the option that says that you need to turn off secure boot to install the codecs. It is actually easier to not install codecs now and do it post installation whereby you won't have to do anything with secure boot.

Click "Continue".






Rather strangely I was asked whether I wanted to unmount the SSD before installing. I clicked "No" to this option.



















Normally at this stage I would say to choose the "Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot Manager" option but because I want to show how to partition the drive manually I suggest using the "Something Else" option. This allows you to specify where each partition is located.





















The next screen shows the layout of your disks. In my case there are partitions on /dev/sda and /dev/sdb.

What you are looking for is the free/unallocated space on /dev/sda which is the SSD and free/unallocated space on /dev/sdb which is the hard drive.

I chose to go for a full install of Ubuntu on the SSD as I will be using this regularly. I also decided to create a swap partition although with 16 gigabytes of RAM this is probably wasted disk space. I therefore put the swap partition on the hard drive.

To create a partition click on the free space on /dev/sda and press the plus symbol.



For the size I chose the whole of the space on the SSD. It is a primary partition and I want to use the beginning of the space (although it doesn't really matter because I am choosing all the space).

I chose EXT4 as the file system and / as the mount point. Clicking OK creates the partition and returns you to the disk layout screen.

With the SSD now completely allocated I moved on to the hard drive.

To create a swap partition I clicked on the free space on /dev/sdb and press the button with the plus symbol again.


I went for the full 16 gigabytes to match the amount of RAM in my machine. This is severely overkill but as I wasn't limited for disk space I went for it anyway.

Again I set the partition to primary but note that I chose to use the end of the space. In theory as this should be hardly used moving it to the end of the disk seems a sensible idea.

The only other thing to note is that I set the use as drop down list to "swap area". Clicking OK takes me back to the disk layout screen.

The rest of the hard drive is still an empty block of free space so what should I do with it?


I chose to create a 50 gigabyte FAT32 partition which gives me a nice area to share files between Linux and Windows without worrying about one not being overly happy with NTFS and the other not being at all happy with EXT4.



The rest I partitioned as a large block of space as an EXT4 partition. This is where I will store all of my larger files that I won't use regularly. Things like movies would fit well into this space.

Note that for these partitions I didn't choose a mount point. I did that later on in the Ubuntu disks tool as it is more user friendly.

With both of the disks now fully allocated I clicked the "Install Now" button. A message appears showing the partitions that will be created. Just continue past this screen.

The rest of the installation is fairly ordinary.

Select where you live by clicking on the map. This will set the time correctly on your computer.


Choose your keyboard layout by selecting the language in the left pane and the layout in the right pane.

Finally create a user. Enter your name and a name for your computer.

Then enter a user name and choose a password and repeat it. 

By default the setup requires you to log in every time you boot but you can get your computer to log in automatically by selecting the option but I don't recommend this.

Click "Continue".

The files will now be copied across and the system will be installed.


Finally you will be asked whether you want to continue testing or restart now. 

You can try rebooting and if the computer boots straight to Windows reinsert the USB drive and hold down the shift key and reboot back to the UEFI boot screen as you did before to get into the live version of Ubuntu.

Then follow this guide which shows how to use EFI Boot Manager to change the boot order.

Summary

When you have finished it is worth following this guide which shows 33 things to do after installing Ubuntu.

Also check out my new guide which shows how to show common applications such as Chrome, Dropbox and Steam easily in Ubuntu.

I am not saying my way is the only way to format the SSD and I welcome comments and suggestions in regards to this area.

The current layout is working well for me however.






Posted at 19:28 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Introduction



Last month saw the release of everybody's favourite Linux distribution, Ubuntu. I have spent the past couple of weeks reading other people's opinions, watching videos and listening to podcasts.

I have also spent some time trying out the latest offering and within this review I will highlight the new features, the bits I like, the bits I think are a little bit strange and the things I really don't like at all.

New Features For Ubuntu 16.04

Some people aren't interesting in reading a full review so I will list the new features here so that you can go about your day should you feel the need.


I am approaching the new features from the point of view of a standard desktop user as that is what Everyday Linux User is about.

Snap Packages

Ubuntu has introduced a new kind of package called snap. You might be thinking "wow that is just what we need, another package format". Actually in this case it is a really good idea.

Snap packages are installed as sandboxed software (much like Android apps) which means that they won't interfere with other parts of your system. This is more secure than standard package formats and the software won't be bothered by missing libraries and conflicts.

To find the new snap packages you need to open a terminal window.

You can search for snap packages using the following command:

snap find
This provides a list of packages. You can install a package using the following command:

snap install packagename
Unfortunately when I run these commands however I get the following error:
download snap "ubuntu-core" from channel "stable" (snap not found)
The number of snap packages available is currently very small but as a feature I suspect this is one for the future and one to look out for. Meanwhile if anyone wants to tell me why I am getting this error I would be truly grateful.

Linux Kernel 4.4

If you own a modern computer the 4.4 kernel released with Ubuntu 16.04 is a godsend. This prevents me having to perform so many tricks such as backporting in order to get wireless working on my Lenovo Ideapad Y700.

That isn't to say that the wireless problems go away completely. On the Ideapad there is still an issue which I will come to later on.

Python 3

This probably won't matter to the average user but if you dabble in Python development you should know that only Python 3 is installed by default and therefore your programs written for Python 2 will not work unless you install Python 2.

Gnome Software Replaces The Ubuntu Software Centre

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In my review of Ubuntu 15.10 my comments with regards to the Ubuntu Software Centre were as follows:

"the main application for installing software in Ubuntu is the Software Centre and I think it has to be the biggest drawback for new users. 
Let's take the three applications listed in the previous section, Skype, DropBox and Steam. 
Each one of these applications is less straight forward to install than it should be using the Software Centre.
The answer by the Ubuntu developers is to remove it completely and use the Gnome Software manager instead.

This isn't to say that all the problems have been solved but it shows that the developers do listen.

Online Searches Disabled By Default

One of the least popular features added to Ubuntu in recent years was the inclusion of online searches within the Dash.

This has now been switched off by default although you can turn it back on if you so wish.

Other

Here are the rest of the announced amendments:

  • Gnome calendar included by default
  • Brasero and Empathy removed from the default installation (DVD burner and chat client)
  • Chromium is now version 48 and Firefox is at version 45
  • More supported languages
  • Bug fixes
  • Various Compiz and Unity amendments
  • LibreOffice is now at 5.1

How To Get Ubuntu 16.04

You can download Ubuntu 16.04 from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop






Simply click the download button.

Note that by default you will get the 64-bit version. If you want a 32-bit version you will need to click the "alternative downloads and torrents link".

I am guessing that if you are using a 32-bit computer it is quite old and therefore might not be up to running Ubuntu 16.04.


You will be taken to a donation page where you can choose how much to pay for Ubuntu. There is a link in the bottom left corner which allows you to download it for free.


How To Create A Ubuntu USB Drive

If you want to create your own Ubuntu USB drive download Ubuntu and follow this guide.

How To Install Ubuntu

To dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 10 follow one of these guides:


Changes To The Installer

The Ubuntu installer has changed subtly since Ubuntu 15.10. 



















The pre-requisites screen has gone and there is also no longer a screen which asks you to connect to a wireless network.

After choosing your language you will see the above screen which gives you the option to download updates and to install third party software.

Note that the download updates is greyed out. This is only available if you connect to the internet.

For those of you wanting to take advantage of this feature connect to the internet before running the installer.






















You can connect to the internet by clicking on the network icon in the top right corner and by choosing your wireless network of choice. If you connect using a wired connection you won't have to do this.

The pre-requisites screen was largely pointless and so I am not surprised that it is gone. It used to have three options:

  • are you connected to the internet
  • are you connected to a power source
  • have you got 6 gigabytes of hard disk space
You didn't need to be connected to the internet to install Ubuntu and you didn't really need to be connected to a power source if you have enough battery left on a laptop and if you are using a desktop computer why wouldn't you be connected to a power source.

The minimum disk space requirement was also incredibly small and gave the false impression that you could get away with such a low amount. 

The decision to remove the network connection screen in the installer is probably a bit more strange. I would at least expect a link giving the option to connect to the internet so you could download updates if you want to.

Not really a deal breaker though.

First Impressions






















For the average user not much appears to have changed from previous versions of Ubuntu and I want to talk about this because I have watched this video which has a mini rant about Ubuntu and this one from what used to be the Linux Help Guy but who is now the Windows Help Guy.

The general upshot is that Ubuntu has become boring. The complaint is that nothing has changed in a few years. 

I watch most of the videos by VWestlife because he does produce interest and detailed reviews about old hardware and technology. He has never really been a Linux fan though.

I liken the "Ubuntu has become boring" thing with an old episode of the BBC sitcom "Fawlty Towers" whereby a lady complains about the view from a hotel window. 

The transcript from Fawlty Towers goes something like this:

  • Customer: "when i pay for a view I expect something more interesting than that"
  • Basil Fawlty (Owner): "but that is Torquay madam"
  • Customer: "well it is not good enough"
  • Basil: "well may I ask what you expected to see out a Torquay hotel window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon? Herds of wilderbeest sweeping across the plain
The point is this. Ubuntu is now far more stable than it has ever been. There is no need to make massive changes to the user interface. They did that already 5 years ago and got seriously panned for doing so.

The changes over the past few years have been measured and one thing I really have to compliment the developers on is their ability to listen.

For instance when Unity was first released the menu bars were stuck at the top and there was no way of moving them. People complained and an option was put in to choose where to place the menus.

People complained about the shopping results and online results in the Dash. Options were put in to remove them or show them based on a setting.

Users complained about the Ubuntu Software Centre and the developers have done something about it.

Users wanted to be able to place the launcher at the bottom of the screen and the developers have implemented the ability to do so, although it is a terminal command:

Ubuntu is rock steady. Yes there are bugs and yes there are inconsistencies but there are bugs and inconsistencies with all operating systems including Windows 10.

A lot of the work with Ubuntu is going on behind the scenes, getting ready for a move to MIR and the introduction of snap packages. These just don't happen overnight.

All in all Ubuntu is much like it has been for the past few years. There is a panel at the top and a launcher down the left.

There are a whole host of keyboard shortcuts which can be used to manage the system.

Finally there is a dash interface for finding and launching applications.


As mentioned previously you can connect to the internet by clicking on the network icon in the top right corner.

Simply choose the network you wish to connect to and enter the security key.





Installing Software























The Ubuntu Software Centre has been replaced by the GNOME Software manager. 

The main screen highlights featured applications, editor's picks, recommended applications from a particular category (i.e. sometimes it will be graphics, other times audio etc) and finally a list of categories.



Clicking on a category pulls up a list of sub categories. The right panel will show the items within the sub category. By default you see the featured items within the category.

From the main screen you can also search for a package by name or description.


 All good thus far. I did however find some issues with the new package manager.

The package manager doesn't list anything that requires a command line. That means tools such as the youtube downloader don't appear.



























You can however install the Youtube Browser for SMPlayer which does allow you to download Youtube videos.

Slightly more worrying is the fact you can't install Steam.
























Another thing that doesn't appear are the restricted extras packages.



























Whilst you can install the third party codecs using the installer many people don't and many people use the restricted extras packages. (myself included).

The first program I recommend installing via the software manager is Synaptic.























A quick search in Synaptic for restricted extras brings up a complete list of packages.

A bug that appeared in the previous couple Ubuntu releases was that installing the restricted extras package via Synaptic or any other graphical tool failed because of a license agreement that didn't appear.


This bug has been fixed which means you can install the entire package using Synaptic.

I find it a little bit ironic that this bug has been there for at least 2 releases and now the bug has been fixed you can't find the software in the default graphical package manager.

Another package that can't be found in the Software Manager is Chrome. You can find Chromium but not Chrome. Like many other people I think Chrome is the only worthy web browser as it includes all the features that are required from a browser including the ability to play Flash videos and games.



In order to install Chrome I went to the Google website and clicked on the "Download" link.  An option appears for 64-bit Ubuntu/Debian. When you choose this option you can choose to save the file or open it.

Choosing the save option saves the file to your downloads folder. Clicking on the downloaded file opens up the installer in the Gnome Software Manager.

You would think it was plain sailing from this point on. Click "Install" and away you go. Unfortunately it doesn't work.

Back to the command line I am afraid. Open a terminal using CTRL, ALT and T and then type the following:

cd ~/Downloadssudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb

It will fail to install.

Now run this command:

sudo apt-get install -f


Finally run this command again:


sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb
It finally installs.





When it comes to installing Steam even Synaptic didn't help.

It was purely command line:

sudo apt-get install steam
 A license agreement will appear. Click tab to select the ok button and return to accept it.

Another screen will be displayed with the option to accept or decline the agreement. Use the tab key to select "I Agree". Then tab to "OK" and press return.

All in all the Software Centre may have gone but the pain lives on and in many ways the situation feels much worse than it was in Ubuntu 15.10. I think these issues need to be dealt ASAP.

Audio












The default audio player in Ubuntu 16.04 is Rhythmbox (and it has been for some time). It is probably one of the best Linux applications available and far surpasses anything provided by other proprietary operating systems.

Click here for a complete guide to Rhythmbox

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is the premier free office suite for Linux and for the average home user it has everything you need.

With a word processing packages, spreadsheet package, presentation package and drawing package you can easily write letters, books, produce budgets and create presentations.

It may not be Microsoft Office but for most people it actually has more than enough features. It is perfect for students.

Thunderbird





























The email client in Ubuntu 16.04 is Thunderbird. Personally I prefer Evolution but Thunderbird can easily be set up to work with common mail providers such as Google's GMail.

Video























The default video player is Totem.

You can choose to watch local video files or you can choose the search feature. There are a couple of default channels or you can choose to search various other channels such as Youtube.

Other Software

There are lots of packages installed by default so I won't list them all but here are the highlights:

  • Rhythmbox - Audio 
  • Totem - Video
  • Thunderbird - Email
  • Firefox - Web Browser
  • Shotwell - Photo Manager
  • Cheese - Webcam Viewer
  • LibreOffice - Office Suite
  • Transmission - Bittorrent Client
  • Gnome Calendar - Calendar

Hardware Support

This is a bit of a mixed report. Everything works fine on my existing Dell and Toshiba laptops.

I can connect to the Epson WF2630 printer. The scanner and printer work well.

I can also connect to a Western Digital MyCloud device.

My new Lenovo Y700 Ideapad had a few extra issues however. The Intel Wireless Network card needed some extra steps to get it working. 

The NVidia graphics card was picked up but then I was locked out at the login screen. I fixed the issue (which I will write about in another post) but it wasn't plain sailing.

Performance

On my Dell Inspiron 3521 is a little bit sluggish when using the Gnome package manager. The Lenovo Ideapad however runs like a dream and Ubuntu is the perfect operating system for it.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to suggest that better hardware provides better performance.

Moving The Launcher



You can now move the launcher to the bottom of the screen.

To do so open a terminal window and enter the following command:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

To set it back to the left side use the following command:


gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

If you were hoping to put it on the right side then you will have to wait a bit longer for that.

Issues

For a long term support release I have come across lots of issues, most of which have been already covered.

The latest NVidia cards will probably get you into a loop at the login screen unless you use the Nouveau driver.

The latest Intel wireless cards don't work straight away.

The new software manager tool doesn't install Chrome, Steam or anything that requires the command line.

Summary

To summarise I want to go back to the title:

The Good

The developers do appear to listen to their users. Everything that people have asked for in the past few years has been implemented in one way or another.

The Bad

This is a long term support release and it feels like it isn't quite ready. I find it hard to believe that nobody working on Ubuntu tried a clean install, followed by installing some of the more popular applications like Chrome, Dropbox and Steam.

The Not Quite So Ugly

The Software Centre has gone.

This would have been great as a point release, say a 16.10 or a 17.04 because you expect some experimentation and you expect the odd cock-up.

The LTS release should be ready to go from day one with only minor issues. Sadly that isn't the case.

An Everyday Linux User Review Of Ubuntu 16.04 - The Good, The Bad And The Not Quite So Ugly

Introduction



Last month saw the release of everybody's favourite Linux distribution, Ubuntu. I have spent the past couple of weeks reading other people's opinions, watching videos and listening to podcasts.

I have also spent some time trying out the latest offering and within this review I will highlight the new features, the bits I like, the bits I think are a little bit strange and the things I really don't like at all.

New Features For Ubuntu 16.04

Some people aren't interesting in reading a full review so I will list the new features here so that you can go about your day should you feel the need.


I am approaching the new features from the point of view of a standard desktop user as that is what Everyday Linux User is about.

Snap Packages

Ubuntu has introduced a new kind of package called snap. You might be thinking "wow that is just what we need, another package format". Actually in this case it is a really good idea.

Snap packages are installed as sandboxed software (much like Android apps) which means that they won't interfere with other parts of your system. This is more secure than standard package formats and the software won't be bothered by missing libraries and conflicts.

To find the new snap packages you need to open a terminal window.

You can search for snap packages using the following command:

snap find
This provides a list of packages. You can install a package using the following command:

snap install packagename
Unfortunately when I run these commands however I get the following error:
download snap "ubuntu-core" from channel "stable" (snap not found)
The number of snap packages available is currently very small but as a feature I suspect this is one for the future and one to look out for. Meanwhile if anyone wants to tell me why I am getting this error I would be truly grateful.

Linux Kernel 4.4

If you own a modern computer the 4.4 kernel released with Ubuntu 16.04 is a godsend. This prevents me having to perform so many tricks such as backporting in order to get wireless working on my Lenovo Ideapad Y700.

That isn't to say that the wireless problems go away completely. On the Ideapad there is still an issue which I will come to later on.

Python 3

This probably won't matter to the average user but if you dabble in Python development you should know that only Python 3 is installed by default and therefore your programs written for Python 2 will not work unless you install Python 2.

Gnome Software Replaces The Ubuntu Software Centre

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In my review of Ubuntu 15.10 my comments with regards to the Ubuntu Software Centre were as follows:

"the main application for installing software in Ubuntu is the Software Centre and I think it has to be the biggest drawback for new users. 
Let's take the three applications listed in the previous section, Skype, DropBox and Steam. 
Each one of these applications is less straight forward to install than it should be using the Software Centre.
The answer by the Ubuntu developers is to remove it completely and use the Gnome Software manager instead.

This isn't to say that all the problems have been solved but it shows that the developers do listen.

Online Searches Disabled By Default

One of the least popular features added to Ubuntu in recent years was the inclusion of online searches within the Dash.

This has now been switched off by default although you can turn it back on if you so wish.

Other

Here are the rest of the announced amendments:

  • Gnome calendar included by default
  • Brasero and Empathy removed from the default installation (DVD burner and chat client)
  • Chromium is now version 48 and Firefox is at version 45
  • More supported languages
  • Bug fixes
  • Various Compiz and Unity amendments
  • LibreOffice is now at 5.1

How To Get Ubuntu 16.04

You can download Ubuntu 16.04 from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop






Simply click the download button.

Note that by default you will get the 64-bit version. If you want a 32-bit version you will need to click the "alternative downloads and torrents link".

I am guessing that if you are using a 32-bit computer it is quite old and therefore might not be up to running Ubuntu 16.04.


You will be taken to a donation page where you can choose how much to pay for Ubuntu. There is a link in the bottom left corner which allows you to download it for free.


How To Create A Ubuntu USB Drive

If you want to create your own Ubuntu USB drive download Ubuntu and follow this guide.

How To Install Ubuntu

To dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 10 follow one of these guides:


Changes To The Installer

The Ubuntu installer has changed subtly since Ubuntu 15.10. 



















The pre-requisites screen has gone and there is also no longer a screen which asks you to connect to a wireless network.

After choosing your language you will see the above screen which gives you the option to download updates and to install third party software.

Note that the download updates is greyed out. This is only available if you connect to the internet.

For those of you wanting to take advantage of this feature connect to the internet before running the installer.






















You can connect to the internet by clicking on the network icon in the top right corner and by choosing your wireless network of choice. If you connect using a wired connection you won't have to do this.

The pre-requisites screen was largely pointless and so I am not surprised that it is gone. It used to have three options:

  • are you connected to the internet
  • are you connected to a power source
  • have you got 6 gigabytes of hard disk space
You didn't need to be connected to the internet to install Ubuntu and you didn't really need to be connected to a power source if you have enough battery left on a laptop and if you are using a desktop computer why wouldn't you be connected to a power source.

The minimum disk space requirement was also incredibly small and gave the false impression that you could get away with such a low amount. 

The decision to remove the network connection screen in the installer is probably a bit more strange. I would at least expect a link giving the option to connect to the internet so you could download updates if you want to.

Not really a deal breaker though.

First Impressions






















For the average user not much appears to have changed from previous versions of Ubuntu and I want to talk about this because I have watched this video which has a mini rant about Ubuntu and this one from what used to be the Linux Help Guy but who is now the Windows Help Guy.

The general upshot is that Ubuntu has become boring. The complaint is that nothing has changed in a few years. 

I watch most of the videos by VWestlife because he does produce interest and detailed reviews about old hardware and technology. He has never really been a Linux fan though.

I liken the "Ubuntu has become boring" thing with an old episode of the BBC sitcom "Fawlty Towers" whereby a lady complains about the view from a hotel window. 

The transcript from Fawlty Towers goes something like this:

  • Customer: "when i pay for a view I expect something more interesting than that"
  • Basil Fawlty (Owner): "but that is Torquay madam"
  • Customer: "well it is not good enough"
  • Basil: "well may I ask what you expected to see out a Torquay hotel window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon? Herds of wilderbeest sweeping across the plain
The point is this. Ubuntu is now far more stable than it has ever been. There is no need to make massive changes to the user interface. They did that already 5 years ago and got seriously panned for doing so.

The changes over the past few years have been measured and one thing I really have to compliment the developers on is their ability to listen.

For instance when Unity was first released the menu bars were stuck at the top and there was no way of moving them. People complained and an option was put in to choose where to place the menus.

People complained about the shopping results and online results in the Dash. Options were put in to remove them or show them based on a setting.

Users complained about the Ubuntu Software Centre and the developers have done something about it.

Users wanted to be able to place the launcher at the bottom of the screen and the developers have implemented the ability to do so, although it is a terminal command:

Ubuntu is rock steady. Yes there are bugs and yes there are inconsistencies but there are bugs and inconsistencies with all operating systems including Windows 10.

A lot of the work with Ubuntu is going on behind the scenes, getting ready for a move to MIR and the introduction of snap packages. These just don't happen overnight.

All in all Ubuntu is much like it has been for the past few years. There is a panel at the top and a launcher down the left.

There are a whole host of keyboard shortcuts which can be used to manage the system.

Finally there is a dash interface for finding and launching applications.


As mentioned previously you can connect to the internet by clicking on the network icon in the top right corner.

Simply choose the network you wish to connect to and enter the security key.





Installing Software























The Ubuntu Software Centre has been replaced by the GNOME Software manager. 

The main screen highlights featured applications, editor's picks, recommended applications from a particular category (i.e. sometimes it will be graphics, other times audio etc) and finally a list of categories.



Clicking on a category pulls up a list of sub categories. The right panel will show the items within the sub category. By default you see the featured items within the category.

From the main screen you can also search for a package by name or description.


 All good thus far. I did however find some issues with the new package manager.

The package manager doesn't list anything that requires a command line. That means tools such as the youtube downloader don't appear.



























You can however install the Youtube Browser for SMPlayer which does allow you to download Youtube videos.

Slightly more worrying is the fact you can't install Steam.
























Another thing that doesn't appear are the restricted extras packages.



























Whilst you can install the third party codecs using the installer many people don't and many people use the restricted extras packages. (myself included).

The first program I recommend installing via the software manager is Synaptic.























A quick search in Synaptic for restricted extras brings up a complete list of packages.

A bug that appeared in the previous couple Ubuntu releases was that installing the restricted extras package via Synaptic or any other graphical tool failed because of a license agreement that didn't appear.


This bug has been fixed which means you can install the entire package using Synaptic.

I find it a little bit ironic that this bug has been there for at least 2 releases and now the bug has been fixed you can't find the software in the default graphical package manager.

Another package that can't be found in the Software Manager is Chrome. You can find Chromium but not Chrome. Like many other people I think Chrome is the only worthy web browser as it includes all the features that are required from a browser including the ability to play Flash videos and games.



In order to install Chrome I went to the Google website and clicked on the "Download" link.  An option appears for 64-bit Ubuntu/Debian. When you choose this option you can choose to save the file or open it.

Choosing the save option saves the file to your downloads folder. Clicking on the downloaded file opens up the installer in the Gnome Software Manager.

You would think it was plain sailing from this point on. Click "Install" and away you go. Unfortunately it doesn't work.

Back to the command line I am afraid. Open a terminal using CTRL, ALT and T and then type the following:

cd ~/Downloadssudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb

It will fail to install.

Now run this command:

sudo apt-get install -f


Finally run this command again:


sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb
It finally installs.





When it comes to installing Steam even Synaptic didn't help.

It was purely command line:

sudo apt-get install steam
 A license agreement will appear. Click tab to select the ok button and return to accept it.

Another screen will be displayed with the option to accept or decline the agreement. Use the tab key to select "I Agree". Then tab to "OK" and press return.

All in all the Software Centre may have gone but the pain lives on and in many ways the situation feels much worse than it was in Ubuntu 15.10. I think these issues need to be dealt ASAP.

Audio












The default audio player in Ubuntu 16.04 is Rhythmbox (and it has been for some time). It is probably one of the best Linux applications available and far surpasses anything provided by other proprietary operating systems.

Click here for a complete guide to Rhythmbox

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is the premier free office suite for Linux and for the average home user it has everything you need.

With a word processing packages, spreadsheet package, presentation package and drawing package you can easily write letters, books, produce budgets and create presentations.

It may not be Microsoft Office but for most people it actually has more than enough features. It is perfect for students.

Thunderbird





























The email client in Ubuntu 16.04 is Thunderbird. Personally I prefer Evolution but Thunderbird can easily be set up to work with common mail providers such as Google's GMail.

Video























The default video player is Totem.

You can choose to watch local video files or you can choose the search feature. There are a couple of default channels or you can choose to search various other channels such as Youtube.

Other Software

There are lots of packages installed by default so I won't list them all but here are the highlights:

  • Rhythmbox - Audio 
  • Totem - Video
  • Thunderbird - Email
  • Firefox - Web Browser
  • Shotwell - Photo Manager
  • Cheese - Webcam Viewer
  • LibreOffice - Office Suite
  • Transmission - Bittorrent Client
  • Gnome Calendar - Calendar

Hardware Support

This is a bit of a mixed report. Everything works fine on my existing Dell and Toshiba laptops.

I can connect to the Epson WF2630 printer. The scanner and printer work well.

I can also connect to a Western Digital MyCloud device.

My new Lenovo Y700 Ideapad had a few extra issues however. The Intel Wireless Network card needed some extra steps to get it working. 

The NVidia graphics card was picked up but then I was locked out at the login screen. I fixed the issue (which I will write about in another post) but it wasn't plain sailing.

Performance

On my Dell Inspiron 3521 is a little bit sluggish when using the Gnome package manager. The Lenovo Ideapad however runs like a dream and Ubuntu is the perfect operating system for it.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to suggest that better hardware provides better performance.

Moving The Launcher



You can now move the launcher to the bottom of the screen.

To do so open a terminal window and enter the following command:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

To set it back to the left side use the following command:


gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

If you were hoping to put it on the right side then you will have to wait a bit longer for that.

Issues

For a long term support release I have come across lots of issues, most of which have been already covered.

The latest NVidia cards will probably get you into a loop at the login screen unless you use the Nouveau driver.

The latest Intel wireless cards don't work straight away.

The new software manager tool doesn't install Chrome, Steam or anything that requires the command line.

Summary

To summarise I want to go back to the title:

The Good

The developers do appear to listen to their users. Everything that people have asked for in the past few years has been implemented in one way or another.

The Bad

This is a long term support release and it feels like it isn't quite ready. I find it hard to believe that nobody working on Ubuntu tried a clean install, followed by installing some of the more popular applications like Chrome, Dropbox and Steam.

The Not Quite So Ugly

The Software Centre has gone.

This would have been great as a point release, say a 16.10 or a 17.04 because you expect some experimentation and you expect the odd cock-up.

The LTS release should be ready to go from day one with only minor issues. Sadly that isn't the case.

Posted at 22:26 |  by Gary Newell
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