Thursday, April 24, 2014

Backing up application data in the Cloud

Access to Cloud / Ladder to Heaven by FutUndBeidl from Flickr under CC
Application data like chats, annotations and personal data on the Desktop etc can be automatically backed up using a cloud service like Dropbox. Here are the steps to put such data in this case .bashrc automatically in the cloud and restore it back if required.

1) Copy the .bashrc file to Dropbox
cd
cp .bashrc /home/praveensripati/Dropbox/Ubuntu/.bashrc

2) Remove the original .bashrc file
rm -rf .bashrc

3) Create a symbolic link to the file in the home folder
cd
ln -s /home/praveensripati/Dropbox/Ubuntu/.bashrc 
Now, updates to the .bashrc file in the home folder will be automatically uploaded to Dropbox. And, lets say for some reason the hard disk drive crashes, then the .bashrc in the home folder can be restored using Dropbox data with Steps (2) and (3). The above mentioned procedure can be applied for other data like document annotations, desktop files etc.

Delayed screenshot for getting menus

Once in a while we might have to take screenshots with menus displayed as shown below. But, by pressing the `Print Screen` button the keyboard makes the menu go away and the screenshot doesn't have the menu.
One way to get around this problem is to use the Screenshot application and set the delay to 5 seconds. Then click on `Take Screenshot` and make the desired application active with the menu displayed to take the screenshot after 5 seconds.
Similar delay can be set with Shutter also, but Shutter for some reason allows a maximum delay of 1 second which is a very short time to switch to the desired application and display the menus.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Changing the login wallpaper

In Ubuntu wallpapers can be set by opening images in an Image Viewer and using the option as show below. The image is set as wallpaper for the Desktop, but the login screen doesn't use this image and the default and dull purple color background is shown.
To change the background for the login screen, first copy the image as a root using the sudo command to the /usr/share/backgrounds folder, open the document in an Image Viewer and set it as the wallpaper as shown above. Now enjoy the cool login background as shown below.
This is what I like with Ubuntu. It is heavily customizable, but needs a bit of research to be done and a bit tweaking here and there.

Repositories disabled during the 14.04 upgradation

As shown in the below Synaptic Package Manager screen after upgrading from 12.04 to 14.04, the repositories which have been manually added in 12.04 have been disabled automatically in the upgrade process. For those who are new to Ubuntu, here (1) is what repositories mean.
Lets look into why I had to include the repositories in 12.04 in the first case. Ubuntu 12.04 had been rock solid and I had been using it for close to 2 years. But, within a particular release, Canonical the company behind Ubuntu provides patches only for bug fixes and stability purpose and not for providing new features. So, 12.04 after 2 years had old versions of most of the softwares.

For the above mentioned reason and to get the latest softwares with new features, I had to add repositories (1) for R, Gimp, VirtualBox and others. But, as of now Ubuntu 14.04 has the latest version of R, Gimp, VirtualBox installed by default and so the additional repositories were not required and so I left the repositories disabled.

Overtime, the softwares packaged with 14.04 will become obsolete and maybe I would be enabling these repositories.

OpenShot video editor

I had been using Kazam (1) for screencasting and Shutter (1) for taking the screenshots for this and other blogs (1). The images from Shutter are being watermarked with Phatch (1). Recently I was looking for some tool to watermark the screencasts I had been doing lately and found OpenShot (1, 2).
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3182023/Screencasts/OpenShot-adding-watermark.mp4
OpenShot is easy to use and I had been able to add watermarking to mp4 videos, but it took quite a time to figure it out as the documentation and videos on OpenShot had been very sparse. So, I thought of doing a screen cast on adding a watermark to existing videos. So, here (1) it is.

I created an mp4 video (my-blogs.mp4) using Kazam and a transparent image (thecloudavenue.png) using GIMP (1). Later imported, merged and exported using OpenShot as shown in the above screencast.

The screencast shows a simple usecase of OpenShot for adding a watermark to a mp4 video, but has a lot of other cool features as listed here (1). I am discovering a variety of tools on Ubuntu and they work out of the box which is really cool. Would be blogging more about them.