Fixing Problems with Gnome Indicator Applets

If you are using gnome 2.x and you have problems with your indicator applets not displaying properly after login.   I often do.   I don’t know the reason.  It occurs sporadically and more often than not.

A simple fix is to restart gnome-panel.  You don’t need to use sudo.  Open a terminal and run the following command.

$ pkill gnome-panel

That was easy–and is usually all you need to do.

However, if that didn’t solve your problem.  You can try reseting your panels and get pristine panels again.  WARNING:  If you have customized your panels by adding application launchers and etc, you will lose those setttings and have to customize them again.

Now that you have been warned, here are the steps to reset your panels.

$ gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/panel

$ rm -fr ~/.gconf/apps/panel

$ pkill gnome-panel

I hope you found this post useful.

Configure Ubuntu to start in text mode

In my previous post I showed you how to add the gnome desktop to your Ubuntu server.   Suppose you want to configure Ubuntu to start in text mode rather then automatically starting the gnome desktop.  It is an easy change to make.  Here is how.

1) Edit /etc/default/grub.  Locate and change the following line.




GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash text”

Then save your changes.

2) Run

sudo update-grub

The next time you reboot, Ubuntu will boot to text mode and you will see the console login screen (cmdline).  You can start the gnome desktop manually after loggging on by running “startx“.  When you logoff from the gnome desktop, you will be returned to the cmdline again.

Install a graphical desktop on Ubuntu Server 10.04 (without alot of extras)

Sometimes I find the need to install Ubuntu Server with a gnome desktop like the one that you get with Ubuntu Desktop.  You can install Ubuntu Server and then use apt-get to install the package ubuntu-desktop.  However, if you do that you will end up installing almost everything that comes with a Ubuntu Desktop installation.  This is not what I want.

What I really want is a  gnome graphical desktop running on top of Ubuntu Server and very little else.  Here is what I do.

Step 1:

Install Ubuntu Server

Step 2:

Logon and install the following packages.

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop –no-install-recommends

You will want the indicator applets.

$ sudo apt-get install indicator-applet-complete indicator-applet

If you want a web browser, a good choice is chromium.

$ sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

Step 3:

Reboot and enjoy.

That is all.

Useful nautilus extensions

I want to tell you about two useful nautilus extensions.  The first one lets you right-click on a folder and you get an option in the pop-up menu to open a terminal at that location.

The other extension allows you to right-click on a folder and you get an option in the pop-up menu to open as administrator.   This will open another nautilus window, running as root, at that location.  This is especially handy when you need root privileges for a quick task.   For example, when you need to  modify a folder or file which you don’t own.

Here is how you install both of these using the cmdline.

# sudo aptitude install nautilus-gksu nautilus-open-terminal

Close any open nautilus windows.  Now force nautilus to restart.

# pkill nautilus

You are done.  Any new nautilus windows that you open will have the new extensions whenever you right-click a folder.

Change the login screen background in Ubuntu 10.04

I used to have a custom background setup on my Ubuntu 9.10 system.  My login screen background was reset to the default purple background after upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04.  If you want to setup a custom login screen background there are (at least) two methods.

Method 1

Install Ubuntu Tweak.  Ubuntu Tweak will let you tweak many things including the login screen background.

Ubuntu Tweak

To install Ubuntu Tweak add the third party repository to your list of repositories.

Go to System-Administration-Software Sources, Third-Party Software tab, Add:

 deb lucid-getdeb apps

Add the repository GPG key, open a terminal window and type:

 $ wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Install ubuntu-tweak from the command line.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

Method 2

Copy your favorite background .jpg file to /usr/share/backgrounds

$ sudo cp  my_cool_bg.jpg /usr/share/backgrounds

$ sudo cp /usr/share/applications/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow


You should see an “Appearance Preferences” window, select the Add button and select the .jpg file that you want for your login screen background.  Close the window.

Appearance Preferences

Login again and remove the gnome-appearance-properties.desktop file that you copied in the previous step.  This will prevent you from getting the appearance-properties windows at every gdm login.

$ sudo rm /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop

Which method should you use?  If you really enjoy customizing your GUI and changing its behavior, then use Method 1 and install Ubuntu Tweak and enjoy having the control over many settings within easy reach.