Life with Linux: More apps

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I’ve been working on tuning the Linux installation I have on my work Lenovo Thinkpad T400, and it’s time to add a few more applications. I’ll break them down by category.

User Interface

One feature I really like on OS X for the Mac is the ability to change the desktop background at regular intervals. Evidently KDE 4.3 can do this, but Ubuntu 9.04 uses GNOME as the default desktop manager. When I looked around the web, I found a number of possible solutions, though some of the sites with code were missing. That is, I didn’t immediately find anything that looked like it would just work all the time and was current.

Last night I found and started to use Wallpapoz. It seems to do the trick. For each of your workspaces, you can define a set of images to be used as the background wallpaper. Then you tell it how often to change the wallpaper. Make sure you set up the daemon if you don’t want to manually restart the application every time you reboot. A fix regarding the instructions on doing this on Ubuntu 9.04: do it via System > Preferences > Startup Applications. Wallpapoz is an open source application (GPL v2) written in Python.

Evidently development has stopped, but it works. Even though this has a better user interface than most, this whole idea and execution should be easier. Ideally, a future version of GNOME should just include it.

Update: Since I wrote this original entry I’ve started using Wallpaper Tray. It’s a wallpaper/background switcher for GNOME that sits in one of the panels. For Ubuntu, install via Syntaptic, then right click on the GNOME panel, choose Add, and then pick it out from the bottom of the list. Once installed, you can right click to set a schedule for changing the background. There are other options as well.


I use JungleDisk. I keep the primary copies of files, documents, music, and photos on my desktop iMac, but by using JungleDisk I can access them from anywhere in the world. I could also use JungleDisk to backup my file on the Linux machine, though I don’t do that now.

JungleDisk works by being an interface to Amazon S3 online storage. Therefore you’ll have to get an appropriate Amazon account. The JungleDisk website has all the information you’ll need. The JungleDisk software is not open source.

If you are using your Linux machine for work, you may have online storage backup tools available. Check around.

Text Editing

For simple editing, the gedit application works just fine and is builtin. It’s what you get under Applications > Accessories > Text Editor. I’m underselling gedit when I call it “simple,” because there are many plugins available for it that extend its functionality. Make sure you look under Edit > Preferences to see what you can do. For example, I always turn on display of line numbers.

Die hard Unixy types might prefer emacs or vi, and those are just builtin. I was always more of a vi kind of guy and to this day if I turn off my brain and just try to edit I can recall many of the commands. If I think too hard about it, I’m lost.

Eclipse is available for installation via Applications > Add/Remove. Eclipse is open source. [David Carver in the comments notes that it would be best to get Eclipse from as the version in the Ubuntu repository is out-of-date.]

I mostly used Komodo open source editor since it is a full text editor and has modern support for many programming languages. It also suits my frequency of coding, which is not very often. Komodo is open source.

Also see: Life with Linux: The series


  1. The version on Eclipse is way out of date. It’s best to get Eclipse from Version in Ubuntu is 3.2.

  2. Thanks David, I added some text to the post to indicate that.

  3. I started using Jungledisk, but found that more difficult on Ubuntu. I’ve switched to using S3 Firefox Organizer. I’ve moved I’ve got folders in my S3 bucket and have moved files from my Ubuntu 9.04 desktop at work, home and from my Windows notebook and virtual desktop at work. Jungledisk on Windows and Macintosh seem to work better than on Ubuntu. S3 Fox really makes the process of moving files easy. I too use “gedit” and with “sudo” when I need to alter config files. I only use “vi” or “vim” when I’m on Ubuntu Server.

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