Aario's blog about life and technology

>How to pimp your Ubuntu?

>(Please listen to my podcast)
This episode I will talk about how to make your ubuntu looks better than commercial Operating systems like Windows Seven or even Mac OSX.
If you transfered from windows to Linux, You may see your new operating system more secure and powerfull than in windows, but you have one more step to enjoy the freedom of open source softwares:
Pimping your linux distro

3D Workspace
If you’ve seen Mac OSX before, you may seen that beautiful dock under the screen, and those seperate workspaces which you can move windows across them. Also I you’ve worked with Windows Vista or Seven, you may seen 3D windows when switching windows with Win+Tab keys. What if your linux has this eyecandys together with its security? Linux Can be even more beautiful that Windows or Mac. There are a lot of pimping eyecandy in Compiz Project which makes your linux PC just like those computers in Sci-Fi movies.

What is Compiz?
Compiz is such a composite window manager. As I know, Compiz is a library of codes that makes your current workspace (Gnome, KDE or XFCE) 3D and with more effects and options like fading windows, scaling windows near each other to select one of them, 3D rotate your windows to switch between them, and so on. If you are interested in installing compiz, Let’s assume that you have Ubuntu, because I have ubuntu myself and I know that compiz is already accessible in Ubuntu and Ubuntu based linux distros in Synaptic Package manager. But first of all you must make sure that your graphic driver supports 3D accelerated graphics.

How to activate your graphic driver in ubuntu?
You may have a powerful graphic card, but not have the appropriate driver for it. The easies way to install graphic driver and compiz together is to right click on your desktop, select “Change desktop background”, and go to Visual Effects tab page. Click and select Extra. After many seconds it asks you to download and install properietry drivers and after restarting your system you can sense changes to your system appearence. For example windows are elastic and shaking when you move them by mouse. Or desktop will move smoothly when you change active workspace with workspace switcher applet on gnome panel.

How to install Compiz config settings manager?
If you are familiar with synaptic package manager then you may install compiz-config-settings-manager package via it. This is a graphical user interface lets you customize whole behavior of compiz 3D effects on your system. As you can see on the image on left, There are a lot of options which guides you to several pages where you can set-up and disable or enable individual visual effects like 3D and Rotation of desktops. Below you can see some effects which may be disabled by default but you can enable the trough Compiz-Config-Settings-Manager (CCSM). CCSM is accessible from System\Preferences\Compiz-Config-Settings-Manager Item in main menu.

How to install and activate Emerald?
But there is also some other thing you need to have to make your linux event better than MAC or Windows Seven. If you want semi-transparent title bars just like in Vista or Seven, without the risk of being infected by dummy windows viruses, you don’t need to install windows! You just need to install Emerald. Install it the same way you installed CCSM. Open emerald from System\Preferences\Emerald item in main menu. There you may see a default theme or nothing. By the way you can download and a lot of themes from “Compiz” section of http://www.gnome-look.org website and import downloaded theme into emerald window by clicking on “Import” button. You can also modify each theme the way you like by navigating other pages in Emerald window.
After all you may notice that even by importing and selecting a theme in emerald window, Nothing changes. This is because of the fact that gtk has taken control of window title-bars in you system. You must replace it with your emerald themes by running this command:
emerald –replace
You can run commands by pressing Alt+F2 key on your keyboard.
How to install Avant Window Navigator?

Just one more thing. You can install a fancy dock more beautiful than the one in Mac OSX. How? By installing avant-window-navigator package trough synaptic. Avant Window Navigator is a python based dock application which has several applets to add to your panel and several appearance effects to for example turn your dock in 3 dimmensions or make your dock semitransparent. As you can see in avant project home page wiki.awn-project.org/Installation, you may install trunk packages or universe packages for your ubuntu distro. Universe packages is the packages which are in Ubuntu Synaptic repositories by default, but you may add other repositories from other project sites to always have more updated packages in your system.
If you want the more updated avant (And also more beautiful one), you can add trunk repositories of this package into your repositories. You can find address of those repositories in avant official project site. Also you can find how to add repositories to your ubuntu distro by searching internet. And I guess I have not enough time to explain it all just in this post!
And about widgets on your desktop like an analoge clock or a weather monitor, well you may install screenlets package via synaptic and use it as well. Maybe I will write another how to about that later. 
But untill that day, you can see an screenshot of my PC desktop with ubuntu, compiz,emerald, and Avant.

So happy pimping! Come back soon and don’t forget to comment me.


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