Howto: Install XFCE in Ubuntu 11.10

You realise how spoiled you are by the ease at which software can be installed in Linux only when you’ve done the same in Mac OS X or Windows. apt-get or aptitude will install a wide variety of software and in the case of aptitude will remove the software and all it’s dependencies afterwards.

Yeah, I’m saying goodbye to Unity and embracing XFCE (for the moment at least. Choice is good!)

# aptitude install xfce4 xfce4-goodies
The following NEW packages will be installed:
desktop-base{a} exo-utils{a} gtk2-engines-xfce{a} hddtemp{a} libexo-1-0{a} libexo-common{a} libexo-helpers{a} libgarcon-1-0{a} libgarcon-common{a} libkeybinder0{a} libtagc0{a} libthunar-vfs-1-2{a}
libthunar-vfs-1-common{a} libthunarx-2-0{a} libtumbler-1-0{a} libxfce4ui-1-0{a} libxfce4util-bin{a} libxfce4util-common{a} libxfce4util4{a} libxfcegui4-4{a} libxfconf-0-2{a} lm-sensors{a} mousepad{a}
orage{a} ristretto{a} squeeze{a} tango-icon-theme{a} thunar{a} thunar-archive-plugin{a} thunar-data{a} thunar-media-tags-plugin{a} thunar-volman{a} tumbler{a} tumbler-common{a} xfburn{a}
xfce-keyboard-shortcuts{a} xfce4 xfce4-appfinder{a} xfce4-artwork{a} xfce4-battery-plugin{a} xfce4-clipman{a} xfce4-clipman-plugin{a} xfce4-cpufreq-plugin{a} xfce4-cpugraph-plugin{a}
xfce4-datetime-plugin{a} xfce4-dict{a} xfce4-diskperf-plugin{a} xfce4-fsguard-plugin{a} xfce4-genmon-plugin{a} xfce4-goodies xfce4-mailwatch-plugin{a} xfce4-mixer{a} xfce4-mount-plugin{a}
xfce4-netload-plugin{a} xfce4-notes{a} xfce4-notes-plugin{a} xfce4-panel{a} xfce4-places-plugin{a} xfce4-power-manager{a} xfce4-power-manager-data{a} xfce4-quicklauncher-plugin{a} xfce4-screenshooter{a}
xfce4-sensors-plugin{a} xfce4-session{a} xfce4-settings{a} xfce4-smartbookmark-plugin{a} xfce4-systemload-plugin{a} xfce4-taskmanager{a} xfce4-terminal{a} xfce4-timer-plugin{a} xfce4-utils{a}
xfce4-verve-plugin{a} xfce4-volumed{a} xfce4-wavelan-plugin{a} xfce4-weather-plugin{a} xfce4-xkb-plugin{a} xfconf{a} xfdesktop4{a} xfdesktop4-data{a} xfwm4{a} xfwm4-themes{a} xscreensaver{a}
0 packages upgraded, 82 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 40.9 MB of archives. After unpacking 144 MB will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/?] y

Once installed, logout and select XFCE from the login menu.

XFCE has it’s own quirks and gotchas but it feels lighter and more responsive than Unity. The most difficult part was making the top menu bar autohide. I had to remove the “running programmes” list to get at the panel preferences. Only later did I notice the “Panel” item when you right click some of the menu widgets. The full screen mode in Gnome Terminal gets me back the extra 2-3 lines of terminal I missed. So winning all around as a certain actor once said …

Installing Gnome 3.2 is just as easy and looks gorgeous!

aptitude install gnome-shell

Notes when upgrading to PHP5

I upgraded one of my servers to PHP5 this morning. Two things to watch out for:

  • The location of your php.ini may have changed. It’s probably now in /etc/php5/apache2/. You need to copy over any changes from your old one.
  • Update your libraries too such as the mysql client and the gd library. Don’t forget you can delete the old ones. apt-get install php5-mysql php5-gd will do the job of installing, the old packages have a php4 prefix.
  • WP-Cache doesn’t like PHP5 much. If you see a blank page after upgrading to PHP5, then hit reload and it loads, then WP-Cache needs to be modified. Leroy has the fix, open wp-cache-phase2.php in your wp-cache folder and change ob_end_clean() to ob_end_flush(). SImple as that!

The reason for the upgrade? I wanted to install the gd extension, but after lots of fun upgrading everything my browser tried to download every page, complaining that it was a phtml file. I chose the upgrade to PHP5 to fix it!

And finally, the reason for gd, was to get the heatmap in this wordpress click tracking plugin working. It’s like Crazy Egg and it works well, but I couldn’t get it to display a heatmap for any page other than the front page. Some of the comments on Daily Blog Tips where I found it are hilarious. They completely miss the point of using a heatmap!

Ubuntu's useful apt-get hints

Ubuntu 7.04, or Feisty Fawn as it’s known to it’s friends, has added a neat upgrade to the apt-get tool. For those who don’t know, apt-get is the tool Ubuntu uses to install and remove software. A small problem in the past has been trying to figure out what the name of the package required was.

In Feisty Fawn, if you try to run a command that isn’t installed a small message will be displayed telling you how to install it! The software has to be in your repository, so typing notepad and expecting it to tell you to apt-get install windows isn’t going to happen!

This morning I needed to update my local WPMU work area so …

$ svn update
The program 'svn' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install subversion

apt-get moo still works too! 🙂