Switching to Lubuntu 11.10


I was pretty excited to upgrade to Ubuntu Studio 11.10 this past week but I was met with three big disappointments:

  1. The release notes indicated "the Ubuntu Studio suffered an almost complete team fail during this cycle" and the XFCE transition "remains incomplete and not fully tested".  In their defense, they also politely reminded their fans that "none of the active Ubuntu Studio team members is a paid contributor or developer, we are all volunteer. We apologize for any deficiencies in this release."  So, bottom line, Ubuntu Studio 11.10 is buggy - install at your own risk.
  2. No low latency kernel.  Part of the big advantage of Ubuntu Studio is their custom kernel with improved performance for image and video editing.  Per the release notes: "We are working with the Ubuntu Kernel Team to get a -lowlatency kernel into the archives which will then ship, in addition to the -generic kernel, in Ubuntu Studio."
  3. After throwing caution to the wind, I decided to forge ahead and install anyways.  Surprisingly, it took quite awhile just to find the installation download since Ubuntu Studio doesn't list it on their download page.  I found the torrent download on Ubuntu's site but it wouldn't work with my Transmission torrent client.  So, I was forced to use the standard HTTP download, which took forever of course.  After finally downloading the DVD iso, booting into it, and waiting forever during the install process, my new Ubunutu Studio was ready!  I excitedly rebooted as instructed, saw a few initialization lines, and then it just sat there hung/frozen.  I rebooted multiple times to no avail.  Thinking perhaps my iso image was bad, I actually downloaded and installed Xubuntu (since it's based on XFCE like the new Ubuntu Studio) and then used the psychocats script to remove the Xubuntu programs and instead install the ubuntustudio-desktop package (not the ubuntu-desktop package identified in the original psychocats script).  After waiting an equally long eternity, I was again disappointed when the OS froze after reboot.  As the Master Control Program in Tron would say, End of line.
With Ubuntu Studio out of the picture, I began my quest to find a suitable Linux replacement.  After trying Xubuntu, Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware, CentOS, and openSUSE, I finally settled on my final choice:  Lubuntu.

Lubuntu is based on the lightweight LXDE desktop environment.  Lubuntu 11.10 is also the first officially recognized and supported Ubuntu variant using LXDE.  Although I've tried other LXDE distros and found them too boxy and simplistic, this release adds just the right balance of attractive UI and streamlined performance while also providing full support and access to Ubuntu's and Debian's extensive software and security repositories.

The download and install was straightforward.  The only two issues were a black screen during the LiveCD boot that lasted for some time before the mouse finally appeared (in other words, be patient) and also after I installed Lubuntu it began the reboot process and ejected my CD but there were no instructions to hit [ENTER] to continue the reboot process.  Neither issue was significant, but a total newbie might have been a little perplexed/anxious.

After Lubuntu was successfully installed, there were still some tweaks I needed to make to be fully satisfied.  Feel free to use or ignore as you see fit:

1.  Remove unneeded programs:
sudo apt-get remove pidgin sylpheed xpad abiword gnumeric ace-of-penguins gpicview chromium-browser gnome-mplayer mtpaint

2.  Install additional desired programs:
sudo apt-get install firefox thunderbird libreoffice libreoffice-gnome dmz-cursor-theme filezilla keepassx inkscape audacity virtualbox g++ git meld eclipse libbatik-java xscreensaver-gl-extra gpick eog gnome-themes-standard lubuntu-restricted-extras vlc p7zip-full
Update: configure for DVD playback

3.  Change the default cursor set:
Start > Preferences > Customize Look and Feel > Mouse Cursor tab > Select DMZ (white) > Click Apply
4.  Change the clock appearance from military to a.m./p.m. format
Right-click time in bottom-right corner > Select Digital Clock Settings > Change clock format from %R to %l:%M %p
5.  Change the screen saver:
Start > Preferences > Screensaver > Indicate only one screensaver to be shown and choose Flurry (or another screensaver of your choice).
In the screen saver settings, Blank After 9 minutes, Cycle After 0 minutes, check the box for Lock Screen After and set to 1 minute.
If the screen saver starts automatically when Lubuntu boots, run sudo leafpad /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/autostart and move the @xscreensaver -no-splash line to be the very last line in the file (update: this fixed the problem for a couple weeks but it's back now...any other ideas from the blogosphere?).
6.  Remove the orphaned Gnumeric menu option
sudo mv /usr/share/applications/gnumeric.desktop /tmp
7.  Change the default view:
Open file manager > Edit > Preferences > General tab > set Default View to Detailed List View
8.  Change the launch bar:
Right-click the File Manager icon in bottom left corner > Select Application Launch Bar settings > add Firefox, Thunderbird, Leafpad, and LXTerminal
9.  Change the desktop wallpaper:
Search for a desired wallpaper (I liked this one) and save it to your hard drive.  Right-click desktop and select Desktop Preferences > Appearance tab > Click button next to current Wallpaper image and browse for your new wallpaper.
10.  Make sure Firefox is set as default browser:
Start > Preferences > Preferred Applications > make sure Web Browser setting says Firefox
11.  Set Thunderbird to reply to messages above quoted text:
Open Thunderbird > Edit > Preferences > Advanced tab > General tab > Config Editor... button > search for default.reply_on_top and set the value to 1
12.  Install printer (note: use BJC7000 driver for Canon i550)

13.  Install PhantomJS

14.  Install MySQL:
sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client
15.  Install Apache web server:
sudo apt-get install apache2-mpm-prefork
16.  Set correct permissions (sudo chown -R user_name:www-data /var/www) and then verify web server is running by opening Firefox and browsing to http://localhost  (resulting page should say "It works!")

17.  Install PHP and a few extra modules:
sudo apt-get install php5 php5-mysql libapache2-mod-php5 php5-curl php5-cli php5-gd php-apc php5-xdebug
18. Configure Xdebug by opening the php.ini file (sudo nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini) and adding the following lines to the bottom of the file:
19.  Restart Apache (sudo service apache2 restart) and then test the php installation:
sudo sh -c "echo '<?php phpinfo(); ?>' >> /var/www/phpinfo.php"
In Firefox, browse to http://localhost/phpinfo.php and PHP information should appear.
20.  Install phpmyadmin (for MySQL management):
sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin 
21.  Verify phpmyadmin installed correctly by browsing to http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ and logging in with user phpmyadmin and the password you created during setup.

22.  Install mod_pagespeed:
cd /tmp
wget https://dl-ssl.google.com/dl/linux/direct/mod-pagespeed-beta_current_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i mod-pagespeed-*.deb
sudo apt-get -f install
sudo service apache2 restart 
23.  Test mod_pagespeed by refreshing http://localhost/phpinfo.php a few times.  The HTTP Response Headers section should have entry for X-Mod-Pagespeed

24.  While actively developing code, you will want to disable mod_pagespeed (to see your new edits):
sudo nano /etc/apache2/mods-available/pagespeed.conf
change ModPagespeed on to ModPagespeed off and restart apache (sudo service apache2 restart)
25.  Open Firefox and install desired extensions:
26.  Configure Eclipse:
a.  Open Eclipse (Start > Programming > Eclipse) and from the Help menu select Install New Software...  If the sites dropdown does not include Indigo (or whatever your current Eclipse version is) add it by clicking the "Available Software Sites" link, and then clicking the Add... button:
Name = Indigo
Location = http://download.eclipse.org/releases/indigo/
b.  Once the Indigo site is added, select it in the sites dropdown and then search for PHP Development Tools.  Check the box next to the match in the General Purpose Tools category and use the Next buttons to install.
c.  Once PDT is installed, click on Windows in the Eclipse menu and select Preferences.   In the General > Web Browser tree menu, select Use external web browser & Firefox.  In the PHP > Debug tree menu, set PHP Debugger to XDebug.  Click OK to save these settings.  Click on Run in the Eclipse menu and select Debug Configurations... Set Server Debugger to XDebug.  Click OK to save this setting.

...Enjoy your new Lubuntu!!

WARNING: Due to a nasty Lubuntu bug involving the Archive Manager, do NOT drag and drop files from an archive (zip, rar, etc.).  Instead, use the "Extract" button in the Archive Manager GUI to extract files.  Otherwise, your system will totally freeze and you will have to hard reboot your computer!

FYI:  Due to a bug in Thunderbird, if you suddenly find it opening to full screen (no close/minimize buttons in top-right or task bar at bottom of screen), close Thunderbird, open /home/{your username}/.thunderbird/{random string}.default/localstore.rdf and change any sizemode="fullscreen" references to sizemode="normal", save and close file.

Official Dojo documentation site


Fans of Dojo have long been confused by the myriad and overlapping documentation sites that Dojo maintains.  For example:

Well, there's hope in sight.  It appears the Dojo team has finally settled on: http://livedocs.dojotoolkit.org/

Lots of new releases


It's been a busy month for a lot of developers...  Dojo has quietly released Dojo 1.7 RC1, Ubuntu has released version 11.10 (with their first official support of LXDE), Google has revamped their Blogger interface, and Fortress Linux has released version 1.0 of their distro.  Whew!  Good work, everyone!