Archive | June 2011

Moving To Natty Narwhal: What’s New?

Basically, a new OS would mean new features right? It’s practically like living in a whole different environment. As I said previously, moving to Ubuntu wasn’t a real hassle. It all takes some common sense as well as being adventurous to try out the new stuff to get the most out of this OS. Ubuntu welcomes its new users to its community with the Ubuntu Wiki, which covers the basics of using this OS.

 

What exactly is Unity?
The default desktop in Ubuntu was changed to Unity from the usual GNOME. The Unity interface is one great excuse to use Ubuntu. It certainly is different from GNOME. What I like about this interface is it is simple yet beautiful. The Unity launcher at the left side of the screen is Ubuntu’s answer to the Windows Start button and the Mac App Dock. It works very well and gives users a lot of screen space when it hides automatically. The top bar is also very usefull, keeping the important things such as battery information, wireless connections, date and time within the reach of the user. You can also add more apps as you wish.

At first, I thought that the Unity interface replicated a Mac OS X interface, especially with the top bar controls. But there is something that makes Unity stand out – though I’m not sure what – that made me fall in love with it. The notification baloons are lovely, the dash is also a nice and easy way to find stuff and there seems to be more social media interaction with Evolution and Gwibber. One problem still remains, Unity is not as customizable as GNOME and this can drive some of the Ubuntu users up the wall.

 

Introducing Ubuntu One
Ubuntu One is Ubuntu’s answer to cloud computing. It allows you to sync all your files and music. The best part of this is you don’t really need to be running Ubuntu to use this service. It’s compatible with Windows and also smartphones. Music streaming is also available with the Ubuntu One Music Store – this works more like iTunes on Apple. The only problem I found was that not every song in today’s music industry was available, which kind off frustrated me.

Ubuntu One

The basic sign up for Ubuntu One gives you 2GB free storage, and you can buy more as you wish. There certainly are many more cloud storage options but Ubuntu One makes it much easier to sync, especially for Ubuntu users.

 

The Ubuntu Software Center
The Ubuntu Software Center is what I would like to call heaven. It’s amazing what applications you can find in here. The software center is rather organized with all the apps divided into categories and in some cases, sub-categories. Users can easily find the application they want, view a review of it and install it. The process is rather simple and you can install many applications at one go.

Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center also keeps track of all software installed on the system. You can view all your installed software and choose to remove them without additional dialog boxes that you usually get on Windows. This application basically acts the same way as Add/Remove Programs on Windows.

 

A more organized interface
If you hated that never organized Windows desktop and Mac desktop, Ubuntu is the way to go. Desktops are a lot neater and icons can be resized as you like with different sizes for each icon. Screenlets can be installed, putting all necessary stuff on the desktop in a neat, beautiful and simplified way. Natty Narwhal also enable Workspaces where you can switch easily to four different windows. Users can easily customize what to place on each window to avoid a cluttered screen.

workspace

Natty Narwhal gives you a whole bunch of new features that you can really enjoy and go crazy over, especially if you are new to the Ubuntu community. I’m still trying out the new stuff here and hope to make full use of the features it offers.

Don’t forget to read the last part of Moving to Natty Narwhal which shall be coming soon, and if you missed the first article, you are much welcomed to read it – Moving to Natty Narwhal: The Switch.

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Moving to Natty Narwhal: The Switch

Since the day I was born started using a computer, my OS has alwasy been Windows. Moved from Windows 3 to 98, ME then Vista. Mac OS X never seemed right for me and I still stand by the statement that it’s not practical. And that is when Ubuntu steps in, as an open-source OS running on Linux. They recently released Ubuntu 11.04 – codenamed Natty Narwhal and gives in a much better interface compared to previous versions of Ubuntu with the same functionality of the Linux OS.

Installing Ubuntu is a breeze – not to mention free – only if you have an excellent internet connection. But living in Malaysia with such inconsistent connections and also where ISP don’t really deliver what you pay for, it may take hours or if you’re unlucky, days. It took me roughly six to seven hours of banning everyone else in the house to use the WiFi for me to get it downloaded. Ubuntu has introduced Wubi, which downloads and installs Ubuntu 11.04 as a program in Windows and allows you to dual-boot your computer without having to manually partion your hard disk. This certainly made the job much easier.

Wubi

My first impression of Ubuntu, awesome! The interface was great. Actually it looks more like OS X especially the top bar. The launcher (which is the new addition to Ubuntu) is great and it didn’t take me long to get used to it. The Ubuntu dash, which acts the same way as the Start button on Windows is also useful. The only biggest in switching from Windows to Ubuntu is that you actually pay less attention to the bottom of your screen as the important things are located at the top and left of the screen. The launcher on the left disappears when you have an application running which in a way gives you a bigger screen as compared to the view on Windows.

Ubuntu Desktop

 

This means goodbye to Notepad

If there was one application on Windows that I actually loved, it would be Notepad. I didn’t only use it for my html and css coding, but also the type any random things or documents. Not to mention, it’s one of the only Windows applications that hasn’t changed since its first version.

Honestly, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Notepad. In fact, I didn’t realise that moving to Natty Narwhal would mea googbye to Notepad. Anyways, the closest replacement for Notepad I got on Ubuntu was the gedit – which is also the official text editor of the GNOME desktop environment. Gedit is actually a great text editor, it allows you to type in plain text or choose various languages such as C, C++, HTML, CSS et cetera. The interface is simple and the top bar features the common New, Open, Save, Print and Undo buttons. It actually provides more features than Notepad without losing its simplicity.

gedit

 

Moving out of Microsoft Word

Am I one of the few people that actually liked the Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 interface? It had great features that were displayed well with the use of the Ribbon. The default office application on Ubuntu is LibreOffice but you can also use OpenOffice. And since I don’t intend to download OpenOffice for the time being, let me just talk about LibreOffice.

LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice comes with Writer, Calc, Impress, Math and Draw. Writer is alot like the OpenOffice interface, confusing at first go but manageable at second. What’s really missing is the Ribbon of course, so you actually have to find this features through those drop down menus they have. Most of the features come in as extra windows, which can get annoying, but you can move them to be part of the tabs. And if you want to have the usual Microsoft fonts such as Times New Roman and Trebuchet MS to be available you have to download them. Which was what I had to do for better web experience.

It can get really confusing, especially for first time users. I managed to get used to Writer but I find Calc and Impress a pain – maybe because I was more used to the interface of the Microsoft Office versions. So it shall probably take some time for me.

 

Where is my Control Panel?

The very familiar control panel that we have on Windows is known as System Settings or Control Center on Ubuntu. It has almost the same features as it’s Windows counterpart. The features can be added by downloading more settings from the Ubuntu Software Center. Not to mention, it actually looks much better (and less confusing) compared to the Windows Control Panel.

System Settings

One difference that I noticed was how Ubuntu doesn’t display the hard disk as separate partitions but as one whole hard disk drive. This makes it slightly hard to view program files and to see what is actually on your system. I can’ really view how much space is actually taken up by my Windows either. However, I can view files that were saved on my Windows if only they are saved to my D:drive.

So basically the switch was quite nice, considering that I was looking for a way to get out of Windows without buying an Apple product. And it didn’t take me long to get used to Natty Narwhal. Anyways, this isn’t the end of my move to Natty Narwhal – be sure to read the remaining two parts of this post. Till then.

10 Great Apps from the Chrome Web Store

The Chrome Web Store was introduced by Google a couple of moths ago to give way to more web applications and acts as a Google Chrome version of the Apple App Store and Android Market. And now with the introduction of the Chromebook, the Chrome Web Store plays a more important role for Google. Nevertheless, it’s amazing what applications you can find here. They practically have an application for everything.

We have chosen our top ten pick for the best applications from the Chrome Web Store.

10. Read Later Fast

Read Later Fast

Read Later Fast acts as a bookmark page. The interface is simple. This apps adds an extra option when you right-click on a website as it shows the option ‘Read Later Fast’. The page is then bookmarked and can be viewed from the app. This is also a great way to move out of traditional bookmarking and save pages for a read for another day.

9. Jolicloud

Jolicloud

Jolicloud acts as an app desktop for Chrome users. You can keep track of all your web applications from one page and also find new applications to explore.

8.  Theme Creator

Ever wanted to create those awesome Chrome themes you find. This app makes it all possible, not to mention easy.

7.  Coolandar

Coolander claims to be a mixture of ‘Cool’ and ‘Calender’. It’s a break from tradiotional calenders where all the users havve to do is fill in the task or event and the time, and Coolander will send reminders just as you need them.

6.  1Calendar

This is a calender application allowing its users to keep track of all their activities and events. Events are easily differentiated by their colours. Users can also sync their Facebook events and birthdays to this calender with ease.

5.  SpringPad

SpringPad is an awesome notebook app with great features. It allows users to keep personal info, bookmark webpages, keep track of events and share them with their peers. SpringPad also has a Chrome Extension which allows users to Spring a page without leaving the tab.

4. Angry Birds Chrome

This game needs no introduction. A simple yet addictive game created by Rovio, that took the world by storm, is now having its own Chrome version with additional Chrome levels. And it’s even nicer playing it on Chrome thanks to the bigger screen.

3.  Aviary Image Editor

Aviary has a good range of applications but their Image Editor stands out really well as a replacement for those desktop applications. It has most of the features needed and serves as a good replacement especially for those who are used to Adobe Photoshop.

2.  CashBase

CashBase is financial tracking application that allows users to keep track of thier finances without having any financial knowledge. It’s a simple app that lets you list you incomes and expences as well as view you monthly spending.

1. Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk is one of the best task manager around today. The interface is simple where users just have to list the task and its due date – and users can just write in “next Friday” instead of typing the date – and Remember The Milk will be there giving reminders just as you need it. A truly reliable app.