New Fangled Ubuntu

One is not supposed to need notes with Ubuntu. It’s all supposed to just work and if it doesn’t, it’s supposed to be obvious how to fix it. But as Ubuntu struggles desperately to debase itself enough to be acceptable to normal people, it leaves me personally quite irritated.

The main problem to start with is the Unity window manager or maybe it’s a window manager theme on a window manager on a windowing system. Confused yet? This Unity is clearly designed for tablets. That may be fine if you have a tablet, but if you don’t, it’s like putting motorcycle handlebars in place of a car’s steering wheel.


OMG. What a mess.

So how do you disable a service?

It is painful to think about so just check out this good explanation.


The first thing to do is to get rid of Unity. One possibility is this.

sudo apt-get install xfce4

But I now am pretty convinced that this is the superior solution.

sudo apt-get install mate-core

I hate things wasting valuable screen real estate, especially on the more limited Y pixels. The main reason to get rid of Unity is that it insists on wasting the top of your screen with a stupid Mac-inspired bar. The top "panel" as it’s officially called is easier to deal with in xfce4. With xfce4 just right click on an empty part of it, then select "Panel" and then "Panel Preferences". From there choose "Automatically show and hide the panel". This is the same in Mate and sufficiently solves the problem. There may be a way to get rid of it completely, but if you’re that serious, look into ratpoison (or awesome or dwm).

The bottom panel is easy to get rid of in Mate. I don’t mind the workplace switcher which shows if I have things open in other windows (hidden until bidden, of course). I add that to the top bar and then right clicking on the bottom bar allows a "Delete this panel". Problem solved.

Check the Debian notes for more on smooth dealings with Mate.

Sensible keyboard shortcuts are now under "System→Control Center→Keyboard Shortcuts".

How do I get an SSH agent? The old fashioned way, I guess.



Gah! If you are a skilled programmer then you’ll want to abolish this debilitating editor:

sudo apt-get remove nano

Put this in ${HOME}/.bashrc:

export EDITOR=/usr/bin/vim

If that doesn’t work, do things like:

alias visudo='sudo EDITOR=/usr/bin/vim /usr/sbin/visudo'

There are smarter ways to do this, but they have to keep getting reset when you install a new OS. This solution is based on your own private settings.

Ubuntu One

WTF? No thanks.

sudo apt-get purge ubuntuone-client python-ubuntuone-storage*

This may screw some things up in your current session. Reboot.


A very annoying thing about Unity is that they have destroyed (with no option to fix) the very powerful and easy way that cut and paste works. Moving to xfce4 almost solves the problem but my mouse, the Logitech Marble does not have a useful 3rd button. Many trackpads suffer this problem too. To get the left and right buttons held together to represent a center click, I had to install gpointing-device-settings. Run this and select "Use middle button emulation". I have had some trouble getting this to survive reboots.

Another option is to install:

sudo apt-get install xkbset

Then use xev to figure out what’s what and then map things the Linux way, i.e. the way your fussy self wants them mapped. My trackball’s two useless inner buttons are button 8 and button 9. Try:

xmodmap -e 'pointer = 1 8 3 4 5 6 7 2 9 10'

Missing software

Ubuntu comes with tons of software, much of which I wish it wouldn’t. Unfortunately it’s missing some crucial obvious stuff that serious people would like. For example, the SSH server and the full and proper version of Vim.

gimp xpdf inkscape ssh vim feh mpg123 g++ screen mercurial


xpdf on Ubuntu is seriously messed up!

Need to:

sudo apt-get remove xpdf

because it completely does not work (seg faults). Go get the source package (I used xpdf-3.03 which has been stagnant for a while).

When configuring (./configure) there are lots of errors. This cures the one about X:

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-dev-lts-quantal

Make sure you have:

sudo apt-get install libfreetype6-dev

This cures the freetype error:

./configure --with-freetype2-library=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu \

Now make sure you have:

sudo apt-get install libmotif-dev libxt-dev libxt6

Then configure with:

./configure --with-freetype2-library=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu \
--with-freetype2-includes=/usr/include/freetype2 \
--with-Xm-includes=/usr/include/Xm \

Then make and test it out before make install. You test it out because it still doesn’t work! Now it runs but the screen is garbled. What a mess.


Wow, it sure can be a pain to install something like GP6. Here’s roughly what I did that mostly worked.

sudo dpkg-deb --fsys-tarfile gp6-full-linux-r11686.deb >
mkdir $T ; cd $T
tar -xvf ~/gp6-full-linux-r11686.tar
sudo mv opt/GuitarPro6 /opt/
rm -rv $T
cd /opt/GuitarPro6
ldd GuitarPro  | grep not
sudo apt-get install libportaudio2:i386
sudo apt-get install libsm6:i386
sudo apt-get install libasound2-plugins:i386
export GTK2_RC_FILES="$HOME/.gtkrc-2.0"   # ?? Maybe not
sudo /opt/GuitarPro6/GPBankInstaller /tmp/Banks-r370.gpbank /opt/GuitarPro6/Data/Soundbanks/

Note that I had to download the sound bank and install it manually. Worked though.

OpenGL Development

You probably won’t but I needed all this:

freeglut3 freeglut3-dev freeglut3-dbg python-opengl
libglew1.6 libglew1.6-dev glew-utils python-pyglew
libdevil-dev libdevil1c2

Video codecs

What a mess this continues to be. For 12.04 I followed the directions on this web page.


sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver

Make Your own Packages

Interested in making your own Debian style packages? Maybe this will help.