Google Desktop for Linux

Continuing the efforts to bring their software to Linux, Google released a port of their desktop search utility.

Google Desktop for Linux indexes the files on your computer which leads to almost instant search results.

The software sits in the tray area and is most easily accessed by tapping the Strg key two times, which will show this search box:

The search results appear as-you-type and the files can be opened by a click on the drop down list. If there are many results they can also be listed in the web browser with an interface that closely resembles Google’s online search.

In fact, most of the software interface, like the preferences is only accessible in a web brower. For example, this is the index status on my computer right now, shown in Firefox:


As of now, I didn’t do a thorough test, but this is what I think of the software so far:


  • It’s always nice to see a company acknowledging the Linux user base.
  • The indexing process is very light and barely noticable.
  • Google probably shares the same codebase with the Windows and Mac versions so it is fairly proven software.


  • It’s closed source. This isn’t a show stopper for me, but it may be for some of you, and in any way, an open source version would be better.
  • The Windows and Mac version are much more feature rich, for example the Linux version doesn’t support Google Gadgets at all
  • The UI is mainly in the web browser, which means it is rather badly integrated with the desktop. I hope they add a panel applet and other means of integration in future versions.
  • The native (GTK+) UI doesn’t fit in very well, the context menu of the tray icon isn’t aligned as it is in Gnome apps and no entries have an icon. The dialogues have the button order reversed:bildschirmfoto-google-desktop.png
  • Google Desktop creates a top level entry in the Applications menu. I know no other software (including Google’s Picasa and Earth) that does this and I have know idea why they chose to to this.


Google Desktop is one more of those proprietary applications that is now also available on Linux. Whatever your views on “software ethics” are, you probably should agree that this is a good thing. Many people will oppose to using this software and there is nothing wrong with that, but for other people this will lower the barrier to using Linux, and even if it’s only a tiny bit.

I, for one, will use Google Desktop from time to time, but what I’m really looking forward to is Google Talk for Linux.

Hi Carrie! This is just a note that might convince you that this really is one of my old blogs

5 reasons to use Ubuntu and not Windows

Freedom of choice

Ubuntu, like other free operating systems (including all Linux, BSD and Solaris flavors), is a very modular system. Naturally, the advantage of the modular approach is that you can choose a piece of software based on your needs and preferences. If you don’t like a certain aspect of the software or you dislike the software as a whole: exchange it.

  • You don’t like the behaviour or look of your windows? Switch to a window manager that suits you better.
  • You don’t like the Gnome desktop? Use KDE.
  • You are a command line junkie and don’t want any graphical software? Then whipe it all of your hard drive and enjoy the blinking cursor.

I could go on with this list but I guess you get the idea.

For me, it is important that I use software that I tested and found to be the best, and not because it already came with the computer.

A stable system that doesn’t have to be renewed

I don’t know how long ago I installed Ubuntu on my PC, and that’s a good sign. I just installed the system once and just upgraded when a new release was out.

On Windows a scenario like that is impossible, because the system basically wears out. When you remove applications there are alway files and registry entries that stay on the computer. The system gets slower and more unstable until it reaches a point where you have to reinstall… and its starts all over.

Ubuntu had problems with defective updates in the past, too. The difference is: there is always a solution that isn’t “remove everything and start new”.

Competition is good for technological progress

Vista has been released and the critical consensus seems to be “Oh, that is some nice stuff, but what did you actually do in the past 5 years?”

The answer is: They’ve done everything to maintain their position in the market. And unfortunately, that was significantly less than one would expect from a multi-billion dollar company.

Be honest, If you could sell a mediocre product for a high price, and you know that people will buy it, would you invest more money and time to make the product better? Probably not.

Software is there to do a job, not to benefit a company

If you look at successful open source projects like Firefox or the Video Lan Client and you compare them to proprietary software like Internet Explorer and iTunes you will realize that the former are almost entirely used voluntarily while the latter are often used because the user is somehow forced to do so.

If the user is being told: To watch this you need the Real Player the user will most likely install it. And I think we all agree that it’s not because the Real Player is particularly great.

I’m not claiming that all Ubuntu software has feature parity with their closed-source counterparts but you can be sure that the software is written to do a job that its developer(s) intended it to do, and not because some marketing people decided that it will do great for their company when software forcefully nests itself in the user’s system, overwrites file associations and is nearly impossible to remove.

The many, many little things

The reasons above are very important and they stick out, but there are countless little reasons that, together, are equally, maybe more important.

Be it the way the community interacts, be it the philosophy that drives Ubuntu and the projects that make Ubuntu possible, be it a little feature in some application that you always wanted: Ubuntu has many reasons that speak for it and you are invited to test it for yourself.

If you never had the chance to test Ubuntu, download it right now and run the Live CD. It is free and has no strings attached, so who knows, maybe you will soon find your personal reasons why you want to use Ubuntu.

How to prettify the Firefox progress bar

Fission is a Firefox extension that merges the progress bar with the address bar. The result is a bar that, in my opinion, looks nicer and is easier to monitor because it is in the top toolbar to which you will most likely pay more attention.

You can change the color to your liking and even use an image instead, although I’m perfectly happy with the default, which looks like this:


Try it out yourself and download the extension at Mozilla’s Add-ons page.

It’s official: Dell will offer Ubuntu PCs

There have been many rumors but now we know for sure what most of us already expected: Dell will offer PCs preinstalled with Ubuntu.

That means when you buy a Dell with Ubuntu you…

  • don’t have to waste your time replacing Windows with Ubuntu
  • don’t pay the “Microsoft Tax”
  • show your support for Ubuntu and the people and projects that make Ubuntu possible

More information is available in the Ubuntu press release and a Dell Blog Entry that features a video of an interview with Mark Shuttleworth.

The Gutsy Gibbon repositories are open

With Feisty just out of the door the development on the new version of Ubuntu has started. The different stages of development and important dates are outlined in the Release Schedule.

To follow which software packages are being uploaded to Gutsy refer to the gutsy-changes mailing list or use the more convenient Gutsy RSS feed provided by Dennis Kaarsemaker of Ubuntu-NL.

As usual, the uploading starts with the tool chain, a new version of GCC, glibc and so on. Naturally it’s very risky to upgrade to an unstable version right at the beginning of the development cycle, but if you don’t mind fixing a broken system from time to time, go ahead, open your /etc/apt/sources.list and change every feisty to gutsy.

I’ll say it again: If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, don’t upgrade to gutsy.

If you are interested in contributing to Ubuntu Gutsy, here are two ways to do so:

  • Start working with Launchpad: Launchpad is Ubuntu’s central tool to manage bug reports, translations, feature ideas (blueprints) and more. If you want to help out with any of these, you will need to get an account. The easiest way to get started on Launchpad is probably by taking the tour.
  • Participate in the Ubuntu Forums: There is a subforum for Gutsy Gibbon where you can share and exchange your ideas with other Ubuntu community members. The forum staff will try to connect the users with the developers so that everyone can be a part of the development process. Before you start new posts be sure to have read the top (sticky) posts which contain valuable information.

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04) released, starting the wait for Gutsy Gibbon

The new Ubuntu release is finally here. Check out the tour to evaluate whether you want to install or upgrade to this release (hint: you want to).

The first thing you want is probably to download a CD image of Feisty Fawn.

Before installing however, you should read the release notes to avoid or be prepared for certain problems. If you already run Ubuntu and just want to upgrade, be sure to also read the notes on upgrading.

With Feisty released, a new development cycle will start soon. The next Ubuntu version is codenamed “Guty Gibbon” and is set for release on October 18th.

My Feisty regressions, what are yours?

I’m currently running the development version of Ubuntu, codenamed Feisty. The final version was planned to be released on April 19th, but this might change since the RC has already been postponed.

There seems to be no official announcement what exactly causes the delay, but I have some ideas, because there are some problems I’m currently experiencing myself:

  1. The newest Kernel is broken
    I’m currently running the 2.6.20-13 Linux kernel since the newer ones fail to boot. They spit out some error about the superblock and when I press Ctrl+D (which is what I’m told to do) my PC boots but fails to mount my /home, which leaves the system essentially unusable.
  2. My DVD drive doesn’t work
    At some point my DVD drive stopped working. I say at some point because I haven’t used it for weeks, but I wanted to yesterday and it didn’t work. When I insert a disk it doesn’t automatically mount and clicking on the drive only gives me “Unable to mount media. There is probably no media in the drive.”
  3. The Nvidia drivers don’t work
    Maybe this isn’t a bug of it’s own and related to the Kernel problem, but my X doesn’t start with the (restricted) Nvidia drivers.
  4. The Totem video plugin doesn’t play anything
    Totem is a great Media Player both interface-wise and using the Xine backend also with regards to format support. The standalone player works fine for me (except that it used to support the sound in Real videos), but the Firefox plugin doesn’t work at all anymore. It loads but doesn’t play the video or audio file.

I don’t know what the Ubuntu developers’ current plan is, but I really hope that they focus on the quality of Ubuntu and don’t rush out a release.

What do you think about this? Is Feisty working fine for you or are you also experiencing bugs? Leave a comment or write a blog post of your own.

Ubuntu Magazine is looking for contributors

“Full circle” is the name of a new e-magazine that covers topics about or closely related to Ubuntu.

full circle

The name comes from the name of the logo, which depicts a circle that contains elements of all major Ubuntu derivatives, namely Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Edubuntu.

The Magazine is yet to have its first issue and right now, there are not enough articles to release one.

If you are interested in writing articles or contributing in some other way to the magazine, visit and find out how.

Launchpad is now public beta

Launchpad is Canonical’s web collaboration platform for managing bug reports, translations, support and more.

It is similar to services like SourceForge, but offers new features like translations and in general, it is easier to use for people who are new to Open Source software development.

Originally created for Ubuntu, it now offers its services to everyone who wants to use it for a free software project.


Today Launchpad “relaunched” with a brand new design and beta status. If you’re interested in supporting Ubuntu or other projects, go ahead, file a bug, translate or check out all the other features of Launchpad.