Saturday, 31 October 2015

install Google Earth on Elementary OS Freya - Ross Devitt

Google Earth has changed from just being a popular diversion on Linux to becoming a handy and for some people, indispensable tool used by many.   There are several ways to install Google earth in Debian based Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Elementary OS.

If you are using the 32 bit Elementary OS system, the quickest and by far the simplest way to install Google earth at the time of writing this post (October 2015) is from the terminal.   Simply press Ctrl+Alt+T  keys and when the terminal opens, type the following commands.  Type each one as soon as the previous one is completed and you have the $ prompt again.  You will need to be connected to the Internet of course, and you will be asked for your root password after you enter the second command.

This first command will get the install package from google.


This one will unpack the deb file and prepare it for installation.

sudo dpkg -i google-earth-stable*.deb

(you will now be asked for the [sudo] password.  this is your root password.

You may see a message that there are dependencey problems with lsb-core and that Errors were encountered while processing.  You should be able to ignore these, because lsb-core is probably already installed.

The final command which actually installs Google Earth is

sudo apt-get -f install

You might be asked to confirm you want to go ahead with the installation - just hit enter.  Once complete Google Earth will appear in your Applications Menu under the Internet section.

Here are the three commands one after the other.  Just copy each one (one at a time), paste and hit enter.

sudo dpkg -i google-earth-stable*.deb
sudo apt-get -f install

NOTE!  This is for 32 bit systems.  64 Bit installation is a little more tricky.
For various reasons I run 32 bit OS on my 64 bit somputers.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Elementary OS and other distributions - ROOT low on space

This morning I again got a warning message the 'root' is low on space.  I've mentioned before that I'm used to the old days when Linux fitted nicely onto a single floppy.  And that a legacy of that is my tendency to only allocate about 15GB to the Linux root file system.

One major problem with root getting low is its impact on /tmp, particularly during operations like working with a HD video or something similar that uses /tmp a lot.  That is easily fixed in the short term by making /tmp a link to a tmp directory in my /home.

But even with that in place, I was warned that I knoy had around 500MB of free space in /root today.  So I set about discovering the culprit.  An analysis of my file scructure soon showed that I had almost 7GB in /usr, with much of it in /share.  One of the  surprising finds was around 2GB of icons that I never use.  Another was a huge stash of old Linux kernels and headers.

By deleting the folders for icons I never use from /usr/share/icons I managed to get about 1GB of free space.  it was after that I discovered all the kernels and headers.  But past experience reminded me that digging around these stripping one at a time was slow and tedious.  However deleting them all in one go is a big risk.

I used the uname -r command in a terminal to show me which kernel is being used, the rebnooted the system to confirm that this was the one used by GRUB.  I am aware of the importance of leaving at least one previous kernel and header in the system as a fallback in case the one being used fails.  In practice however, I have never managed to get a system to boot into one of the old kernels from GRUB.

So I opted for the riskier method of stripping the old kernels by purging all but the one currently in use.

Using the following in a terminal (acquired from:

dpkg -l 'linux-*' | sed '/^ii/!d;/'"$(uname -r | sed "s/\(.*\)-\([^0-9]\+\)/\1/")"'/d;s/^[^ ]* [^ ]* \([^ ]*\).*/\1/;/[0-9]/!d' | xargs sudo apt-get -y purge

Then waiting while it did its business then rebuilt GRUB brought my total free space on /root  to a little over 4GB.  Plenty to get me out of trouble until I decided some time to repartitions the hard drive and reinstall from scratch.

Before too long Elementary should complete another update with a replacement kernel and I should have a backup kernel and headers in place anyway.

For now, I have some room to move again!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Elementary OS FREYA Some keyboard shortcuts and a little surprise

Ok, this is probably no secret, but it is something I just noticed.  After using Elementary OS Freya for quite a while now it still provides little surprises from time to time.

I was about to put a hot key combination in a program and I pressed what used to be the 'Windows' key but is now more commonly called the 'SUPER' key.  (That's the one between Ctrl  and  Alt on most keyboards).   The plan was to use an easy to remember combination of Super and something else.  But I pressed the combination without opening the program.

And here's the result!

This is the menu as it first pops up - showing 'Places' on the computer.  Files, folders and stuff:

And here's what happens when I click on Graphics from that MENU:

A rather neat shortcut to a nice elegant desktop menu.

This is probably built into most Linux distributions, but because I'm so used to simply right clicking the desktop to bring up a Desktop Menu, I've never seen it.  it is probably also in Windows, but I haven't used that OS in more than a decade.

Almost 18 years now of using Linux and it still surprises me.  One thing about Freya's implementation of the desktop menu is that it is attractive.

The most common actions activated by the  'SUPER' key are.

SUPER and TAB will
cycle between desktops,
(just as Ctrl Alt Right Arrow - but with one less key to hold down)

SUPER and Home as well as SUPER and End -
will move forwards and backwards through workspaces
(just as Ctrl Alt Right or Left Arrow - but with one less key to hold down)

toggles a view of all running programs in the current workspace

SUPER and A  on the other hand is quite useful.    It is similar to Supper W, but it
shows ALL programs currently running regardless of whatever workspace they are on.

opens the normal Slingshot menu on the panel.

SUPER and L   -  
LOCKS the screen and requires your login password to get back in.

N O T E ! ! !
SUPER and P -  is   something to avoid.    It cycles between screen mirroring, swapping primary and secondary display settings and other stuff.  If you had 'Conky' clock running on your secondary display for example, it will rewrite it to appear on the primary display.
so SUPER and P is a SUPER P ain in the Arse.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Linux, Elementary and the problem with temp files

One legacy of more than fifteen years using Linux is complacency.  some of us are so used to Linux being pretty well bulletproof that we forget it has changed.  And it has grown.  I fall for this all the time.  A root file system of a grew hundred megabytes used to be plenty.  Later as Linux distributions grew I started making root about two, then four gigabytes.  Over the last few years I installed into root partitions of fourteen and twenty gigabytes.  Now I find my Elementary OS Freya is taking all but three and a half of the fourteen gigabytes allocated to root.

This was not much of an issue in the past, but with NBN in Australia we have significantly increased our ability to move data around.  And as someone who likes playing with operating systems and graphics, not to mention editing video, I end up with large files in my /tmp directory.  This creates fairly regular warnings that my hard disk is low on space.

As an example, just now I decided to pull in a 1.6GB iso.  It wants to transit /tmp on the way to its eventual destination.  And there is only about 2GB space in /root.  Next time there's a major release of Elementary I will probably reformat my hard drive and allocate about 30GB to root.  For now though the simplest option is to make more room in /tmp.

Luckily in Linux the problem is relatively easy to solve.  First I need to redirect all saves to /root/tmp to my home directory.   So first I make a new /tmp under /home/user.   Then I send all 'current' tmp stuff there.  This applies to operations after Linux has actually booted.  There will be some files still going to /root/tmp, but most of them will be zero bytes in size.

Opening my text editor as root I can edit the environment file.

$  sudo kate /etc/environment          And on a new line enter the following:


Then save the file and reboot the computer.   whatever text editor you use can be substituted for kate.  gedit, kwrite, vi, whatever is in use at the moment.

Something to be aware of though is that things like lock files for the word processor and other functions will also be redirected to this /home/user/tmp directory.  So it is easy to kill stuff that shouldn't be 'made dead'.   If that is a concern, make the tmp directory hidden by putting a dot in front of it.  But remember to make the environment path read    TEMP=/home/user/.tmp      so the system can find it.

Monday, 5 October 2015

SLIMJET - My Favourite Browser for Linux and other Operating Systems

 Ok, I've been a naughty blogger again and haven't written anything for a while.  One of the joys of bad health.  However, I have been plagued by the slow browser thing again.

 Over the years I have seen web browsers gain more and more features, while becoming slower and slower to use.  This can be blamed on many things. The Internet becoming overloaded is the main suggestion I hear, but with the massive improvements in delivery speed people are writing richer and more intense content.  This often means downloading much more 'stuff and then everything slows.

However it is more than that.  Firefox used to be fast.  Opera once blitzed almost every other mainstream browser.  Google Chrome was brilliant for a while, and recently I switched to Chromium to get away from some of the annoyances that Mr Google imposes on us.

Opera is still fast and nice but has serious limitations in a Linux Environment.  Quite simply it cannot cope with the demands of something more powerful and versatile than poor old Windows.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel though.  One of my annoyances with Google Chrome that has been inherited by Chromium is the lack of customization.  And of course one of the reasons may of us 'old timers' still love Linux and particularly Ubuntu is that we can customise 'stuff'.  We can make most things look and work almost exactly as we want to.

I save a lot of pages from the web.  Pages I have created for people that I want to experiment on in a live situation.  And in most browsers I can simply go to File > Save Page As  and save the page with its various 'bits' to a folder.  Now, it is easy enough to do this with a keyboard shortcut, but I'm an old man and I use so many keyboard shortcuts that sometimes it is easier to click the File menu and choose Save As than to remember the shortcut.

But Google Chrome no longer makes that available.  I can find it by opening the file dropdown and looking under More Tools.  And there I can see the shortcut.  But right next to the shortcut is the menu item anyway, so I can click that.  However it is not somewhere easy to find.

So I discovered Flashpeak Slimjet.  Now, Slimjet is built on Chromium.  But unlike Chromium it allows customization.  So I can have just about anything just about anywhere I want it.

Slimjet ( claims to be the "Fastest web browser for Windows & Linux Powered by Blink engine".  But it doesn't stop there.

Let's have a look at the features offered by this browser.

Efficient Ad BlockerKill Annoying Ads with Ad Blocker

internet download managerTurbocharged Download Manager
  Fed up with all the annoying ads? Kill them all with the built-in ad blocker. Boost the performance of your browser by saving memory, CPU and bandwidth consumed by the ads. Boost file download speeds by up to 12 times by making multiple parallel connections to the server. Also allows you to resume download jobs between different sessions.
form filler and password managerQuickFill Intelligent Form Filler
Fast Download ManagerFully-customizable Toolbar
  Smarter and more convenient than the basic password manager in Chrome. Save page link and login data in a form file which lets you open your favorite online account with a single click later on. Slimjet let users customize the toolbar and add/remove additional buttons to quickly access more features and functionalities.
In-Browser Facebook IntegrationConvenient Facebook Integration
download videoYoutube Video Downloader
  In Slimjet, you can share the link you visited, a paragraph of text or an image easily on facebook with a single click on the facebook toolbar button. Download any youtube videos to local hard disk in various resolution and format for offline viewing. You can also extract mp3 file from the downloaded video file.
fast photo uploadingPhoto Enhancement & Photo Framing
photo shrinkingInstant Photo Upload
  Slimjet includes a Photo Salon in which you can apply different effects or add beautiful frames to the photos before they are uploaded. Automatically compress photos to web-optimized resolution so that photos are uploaded up to 20 times faster.
Integrated Weather ForecastWeather Condition & Weather Forecast
url aliasURL Alias Support in Omnibox
  Display currrent weather condition and weather forecast directly on the browser window. Slimjet lets you define short aliases for long URLs which are slow to type and hard to remember. After that, just type the aliases from the omnibox to open the corresponding page.
browser extensionExtensive Support for Plugins and Themes
quick-dial new tab pageCustomizable New Tab Page

  Slimjet is compatible with most plugins and extenions designed for Chrome, such as Adblock Plus, RoboForm, LastPass, Avast Online Security, etc. It is also compatible with all the chrome themes. You can customize the number of quick-dial buttons and the background image. Multiple search engines and voice input are supported on the search box in the New Tab page.
Built-in Web Page TranslationFlexible Web Page Translation
options and settingsFlexible Options and Settings
  Instead of automatically translating a full web page into the current UI language, Slimjet lets you translate a web page or a piece of text between any two specified languages. Slimjet provides many additional options and settings so that you can customize the browser to best suit your personal preference instead of being forced to take everything as it is without any choice.
I must admit that I have replaced Slimjet's speed dial with FVD 3D Speed Dial, and I will write about that another time,  But it is simply because I like the curved screen look of FVD 3D.  On the other hand, I do use the YouTube download part extensively and I can also vouch for the ridiculously fast download manager.

There are many more features and options that can be used in Slimjet, but I don't know how much it can be loaded up without slowing it down.  For now though I find it lives up to its promise of speed and flexibility perfectly.  Chrome keyboard shortcuts work of course and I had no problem importing bookmarks and stuff from both Chrome and Firefox.

 More Features and Options:

 Auto refresh web page
Auto refresh one or more web pages based on a preset period.

 Enhanced autofill from predefined identity information
Added support of login id and preferred password to the autofill feature available in Chrome.

 Bookmarks side panel
Get quick access to more bookmark links and folders with the bookmarks side panel.

 Quickly switch search engine
A drop down button is available at the right end of the omnibox which allows users to quickly switch between different search engines.

 Save webpage screenshot
Save screenshot of the entire page or selected region as an image file.

 Flexible Tab Behavior Control
Options to control automatic tab activation, automatic tab creation, tab insertion order and more.

 Stop all gif animations
A simple switch can be flipped to stop all gif animations (most of them annoying ads) from playing.

 Allow mixed-mode http/https content
Option to allow mixed http/https content to run properly.

 Option to disable desktop notification
A simple switch to quickly disable all desktop notifications that many users find annoying in Chrome.

 Upload clipboard image
Upload image stored in clipboard quickly without having to manually saving it to a file first.