The Unity WebApps feature has been available in Ubuntu 12.10 for some time, but besides the Amazon and Ubuntu One Music Store webapps which are installed by default, no other webapps were available for installation.
Today, the webapps that were available in the preview PPA are available in the official Ubuntu 12.10 repositories, but as separate packages so you can install only the webapps you want and use.
Using these web applications, you get tight desktop integration for popular websites like Gmail, Google Plus, Last.fm radio, Facebook, Google Docs and many others. By desktop integration, I mean not only notifications and an icon on the Unity launcher, but also HUD, ALT+TAB, quicklists, Sound or Messaging Menu support. So, for instance, using these webapps, you can:
Control Last.fm radio or Grooveshark from the Ubuntu Sound Menu
See how many unread emails you have in your Gmail or Yahoo Mail inbox from the Ubuntu Messaging Menu
Get native desktop notifications for Facebook, Gmail, Google+
Check out this quick video I’ve recorded, demoing the Unity WebApps desktop integration:
Right now, the following webapps are available in the Ubuntu 12.10 repositories: Amazon Cloud Reader, Angrybirds, BBC News (UK), Cut The Rope, Facebook Apps, Facebook Messenger, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Plus, Google Plus Games, Grooveshark, Hulu, Last.fm, Launchpad, Libre.fm, Linked.in, Live Mail, Mail.ru, Newsblur, Pandora, QQ Mail, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, vk.com, WordPress.com, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Yandex Music, Yandex News and YouTube.
In my test, some webapps didn’t work, like Yahoo News for instance. So don’t expect everything to work as this feature is still work in progress.
Install Unity WebApps In Ubuntu 12.10
Note: if you’ve added the Unity WebApps Preview PPA, you should purge it because it’s most probably not compatible with the new webapps from the repositories (which are now separate packages instead of just one package):
To install a webapp for a site, search for the site name in Ubuntu Software Center, or search for “webapps” in Synaptic to see all the available webapps (searching for “webapps” in Ubuntu Software Center doesn’t work for some reason).
Or, if you wish to install all the available webapps, use the following command:
sudo apt-get install unity-webapps-*
By default, the Unity webapps work with Firefox, but you can also get them to work with Chromium, by installing an extension available in the repositories:
sudo apt-get install unity-chromium-extension
For now, only Firefox and Chromium browsers are supported.
Please note that you need to use the Chromium version available in the Ubuntu 12.10 official repositories (version 20 at the time I’m writing this post; in my test, it didn’t work with Chromium 23).
Along with Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, etc. 12.10 beta 2, another Linux distribution which aims at becoming an official Ubuntu flavour has reached a new milestone yesterday: Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 beta.
There haven’t been many changes since alpha 2, except for the obvious: most of the GNOME application stack has been updated to 3.6 RC and if you run an upgrade as soon as you install Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 beta, you should get the 3.6 stable packages for many of the GNOME applications. Also, GNOME Shell 3.6 and GDM 3.6 are already available with Ubuntu GNOME Remix beta. That means Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 beta looks pretty much like the GNOME 3.6 video we’ve posted a couple of days ago (except for Nautilus 3.6 which isn’t available in the official Ubuntu 12.10 repositories).
Other changes in Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 beta include bug fixes, like the “Undefined video mode” error which was present in alpha 2, and also, Evolution has been added to the default application stack.
Unfortunately, there’s still no Ubiquity slideshow and no Plymouth theme specific for Ubuntu GNOME Remix so if you can help, join the Ubuntu GNOME mailing list!
The final Ubuntu GNOME Remix 12.10 version is expected to be released on October 18, just like the official Ubuntu flavours.
Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal beta 2 has been made available for download today. There are quite a few changes in Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2, including a new Unity version which brings some more polish and tweaks along with 3 new Unity lenses, Amazon and Ubuntu One Music store webapps installed by default, a new default wallpaper, but also some LightDM and Messaging Menu changes. Read on to find out more!
Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2 video
As usual, we’ll start with a video in which you can see some of the changes available in the latest Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal beta 2:
A new Unity version is available in Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2, which brings new gradients, new ordering for the home lens, as well as some new animations for Dash Previews and window minimize.
You can see these new animations in the video above. It’s worth mentioning that the minimize animation is slow at first, but gets faster as the user minimizes more windows.
Other Unity changes include:
coverflow is no longer used for the music available for purchase in the Music Lens
new artwork for missing album covers in the Music Lens
“unity –reset” has been removed
the workspace switcher and removable devices icons can now be moved on the launcher
new gradient, tweaked highlight box and shadows
lots of bug fixes
Three new lenses are installed by default with Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal beta 2: a “social” (Gwibber) lens, a photo lens and a shopping lens:
– The social lens can display results from Twitter, Facebook and Identi.ca, nicely organized in various categories: Messages, Replies, Photos, Videos, Links and Private:
The Dash Previews feature works with the new social lens, and it doesn’t just allow the user to preview the tweets or Facebook posts, but you can also like a post or retweet without leaving Dash:
– The new photo lens displays images from various accounts you’ve enabled in Online Accounts, like Picasa, Facebook or Flickr as well as local photos. You can filter the results by date or source and that’s about all the photo lens can do. And of course, the preview feature works with this lens too:
– Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2 ships with a shopping lens which displays commercial content into Dash search results and is only visible when the user performs a global search from the Dash home screen and there are matching suggestions to show. The shopping suggestions differentiate from the rest of the items by using a badge which displays the price:
The shopping lens isn’t the only way Canonical tries to make more money – there are also two new webapps pinned to the Unity launcher in the latest Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2, for Ubuntu One Music Store and Amazon:
The new social and photo lenses are very slow on my computer and it takes minutes to display some results and sometimes nothing loads at all. The weird thing is, the shopping lens results load instantly, even though it’s also an online feature. Mmm. This, hopefully, will be fixed by the time the final Ubuntu 12.10 version will be released, but even so, is it worth having so many online features in Dash? There are many users with a limited Internet connection which I’m sure won’t appreciate these new features, but luckily, an option turn off at least some of these online results should land soon.
Another Unity change is the addition of a close button as well as the window title in the window spread (on hover):
This isn’t “The Spread”, as announced a while back, but the regular spread, and it looks like the new implementation which is supposed to improve Unity task switching won’t make it into Ubuntu 12.10.
As for the new “WebApps” technology, the feature is available by default, but there are no webapps preinstalled besides Amazon and Ubuntu One Music but hopefully they will be available soon, at least via Ubuntu Software Center.
The Messaging Menu has received a minor, but useful change: the status icons are now displayed as emblems on the envelope icon:
With Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2, there’s a new default wallpaper which continues to use the same colors as the previous wallpapers – not a popular choice among the Ubuntu users it seems:
LightDM has gained support for remote desktop logins by default. This is currently done through the Ubuntu Single Sign On service:
Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2 ships by default with Nautilus 3.4.2, Firefox 15.0.1, Thunderbird 15.0.1, LibreOffice 3.6.1 (now with built-in global menu support), Ubuntu Software Center 188.8.131.52, Transmission 2.61, Deja Dup 24.0, Shotwell 0.13.0, Rhythmbox 2.97, Gwibber 3.5.90, Gedit 3.5.3, Totem 3.4.3, Brasero 3.4.1, GNOME Control Center 3.4.2 and Empathy 3.5.92 on top of Unity 6.6.0 and GNOME 3.5.92 (some 3.6 components have landed already).
Quantal beta 2 uses the Ubuntu Linux Kernel 3.5.0-15.23 based on the v3.5.4 upstream Linux kernel, Xorg server 1.13.0 and mesa 9.0.
As for those who do not want to use Unity, GNOME Shell 3.6 is now available in the Ubuntu 12.10 official repositories.
With Ubuntu 12.10, there are no more CD-sized images available. The new ISO size is 800MB, so it won’t fit on a CD anymore, so users will have to rely on DVDs and USB to install the latest Ubuntu version.
Download Ubuntu 12.10 beta 2
Ubuntu 12.10 is pretty stable, but there are some known issues! For instance, on systems using ATI Radeon 9200 graphics, you’ll get a black screen on boot (a work-around is to add “nomodeset” to the kernel command line). So make sure you check out the official release notes before installing / upgrading to Ubuntu 12.10.
If you’ve installed a previous Ubuntu 12.10 milestone (like alpha 3 or beta 1) or a daily build and you’ve updated the packages through the Update Manager (now called “Software Updater”), you already have beta 2 so there’s no need to reinstall it.
Valve has announced they will be testing internally their new Valve for Linux starting next week and a private external beta will be available sometime in October.
The external beta will only be available for 1000 users who will be provided with a sign up page that will be announced in a future post:
For existing Linux users, the external private beta is a good release for seeing where we are in running our games on Linux. We will be using a sign up page for the external beta. Information about the sign up will be announced in a future post.
The external beta will only include one game, which will probably be Left 4 Dead 2, although the post doesn’t mention the game name. No additional Valve games will be included in the external beta and there will be no Big Picture mode. They also mention that only Ubuntu 12.04 and above will be supported.
The GNOME Project has released GNOME 3.6 today, the new version bringing many enhancements and new features, including a redesigned Message Tray, smarter notifications, improved Activity Overview layout, new design for Files (Nautilus) and a new lock screen. Let’s take a look at what’s new!
GNOME 3.6 video
Below you can watch a video with the latest GNOME 3.6 in action, running under Ubuntu 12.10:
For Nautilus (Files) 3.6 and a few other GNOME 3.6 bits which aren’t in the official Ubuntu 12.10 repositories, I’ve used the GNOME 3 PPA. In the video, I’m using Web 3.5.4 instead of 3.6 because the latest version isn’t even available in the GNOME 3 PPA.
Now, let’s take a look at the most important changes in GNOME 3.6.
Core / GNOME Shell changes
With the latest GNOME 3.6, the Message Tray and the notifications have received some major changes:
The Message Tray items are bigger, the hot corner has been replaced with the whole bottom screen edge; also, the Message Tray can now be accessed via a keyboard shortcut (Super + M)
The notifications are smarter, more noticeable and easier to dismiss thanks to a close button
Another change – not major, but it will definitely please some users, is that the GNOME Shell User Menu now displays a Power Off item by default:
In the latest GNOME Shell 3.6, the Activities Overview has received some important changes. Firstly, now when you click “Activities” on the top left, the windows are displayed by default and to access the applications, you must click a grid button displayed at the bottom of Dash:
Another major new feature in the latest GNOME 3.6 is a new Lock Screen (requires GDM so it might not show up for you if you’re using Ubuntu 12.10 with LightDM instead of GDM) which displays the time and date along with notifications and the user has the ability to control media playback:
And now a bit about the GNOME applications. Files (Nautilus) is the application which has received probably the biggest attention in GNOME 3.6. Files comes with a new user interface which is now consistent with the other GNOME applications, but there are some removed features too, like the dual pane.
Among the changes in Files 3.6 are:
a new way of searching for files has replaced both the old search tool and the “search as you type” feature
new toolbar and pathbar, GNOME Shell appmenu, a new “cog” menu, symbolic icons for the sidebar, a new “Recent” section in the sidebar
list view changes: new date format display, better column order, new icon size: 32
Clocks: a new application introduced as a “preview”, because, according to the GNOME developers, it’s not ready for prime time just yet. But it’s already functional and it can be used to display the time around the world, set up an alarm, stopwatch and a timer:
Introduced as a preview in GNOME 3.4, Boxes (an application to connect to remote machines and manage virtual machines) is now officially a GNOME application. Changes in the latest Boxes include a reworked selection mode, allow customizing a box memory and disk size before it’s created and more.
Epiphany (Web) has introduced “The Overview” with version 3.6. This is the beginning of a new design which should improve the user experience, about which we’ve talked about a while back:
For now, “The Overview” doesn’t have the functionality that was announced a while back, and it only presents a grid with the most visited pages. The new version also comes with an improved full screen mode and other changes.
Of course, there were many other improvements, including various changes for Disk Usage Analyzer, Disks, Font Viewer, support for Microsoft Exchange, Windows Live and Facebook for Online Accounts, updated modal dialogs which now expand from the middle instead of dropping from the top, Empathy now uses Zeitgeist, and many accessibility and internationalization enhancements.
There’s also a new feature which I’m sure those who like to customize their desktop will love: with GNOME 3.6, the GNOME Shell extensions installed via extensions.gnome.org are updated automatically.
The next stable GNOME release, 3.8, is expected on March 27, 2013.
Getting GNOME 3.6
There are no official GNOME 3.6 ISO files available for download yet, but if you want to try it already, you can use the latest development builds of Ubuntu 12.10, Fedora 18 and so on in a virtual machine or boot the images from an USB stick.
When available, the GNOME 3.6 live images will be downloadable from HERE.
Adwaita for Firefox is a theme designed to integrate Firefox with Adwaita, the default GNOME 3 theme. The theme features GNOME 3 like tabs, a toolbar like the one used in the latest GNOME 3.6 and many other tweaks.
Adwaita theme for Firefox 15 has been released recently and was submitted to addons.mozilla.org but it hasn’t been approved yet so for now, you can get it from GitHub. To install it, download the .xpi file, then drag and drop it from Nautilus onto the Firefox window.
For a full GNOME 3.6 experience, you may also want to install HTile, an extension which hides the Firefox titlebar when the window is maximized, just like the new behaviour for the default GNOME 3 applications.
With no major release in more than 2 years, many thought Exaile, once a pretty popular music player (it was even the default Xubuntu music player), was dead. But it turns out that’s not the case and a new version – 3.3.0 codenamed “jump” -, has been released a few days ago.
Exaile, an application designed with Amarok 1.4 in mind, but for GTK, comes with many of KDE’s Amarok 1.4 features, along with some extras. Since our last post on Exaile dates back to 2010, here’s a quick features overview:
can handle large music libraries
plugins support which includes a huge list of plugins
CD playback, iPod and USB mass storage support
advanced tag editor
equalizer with presets
many many other features
Besides dropping the leading “0” from the version number (going from 0.3.x to 3.3.x), the latest Exaile 3.3.0 “brings hundreds of fixes as well as a lot of new features”, says the release announcement. Here’s a list of the most important changes in the latest Exaile:
New / updated plugins: A-B Repeat, BPM Counter: manually set BPM per track, Group Tagger, History: keep history of played tracks and export them to a playlist, Inhibit Suspend, Last.fm Loved Tracks, Main Menu Button: moves the main menu into a single Chrome-like button, MusicBrainz Covers, OSD: completely rewritten with new options, Preview Device: allows playing audio over a secondary device, useful for DJs
Lots of threading issues which resulted in hangs during playback and upon startup have been fixed
Asynchronous cover fetching
Improved import of media from drag drops
New playlist column: scheduled playback time of tracks
Tracks and playlist import from and export to arbitrary locations (like network locations)
Revamped cover chooser and cover manager
Completely new, provider-based menu system
Completely rewritten playlist API (cleaner, more flexible and extensible, move and copy tracks arbitrarily between playlists)
Support relative paths in playlist import/export
Tag handling: support albumartist for MP3/MP4
Many UI tweaks and fixes
Lots of improvements made to Exaile for Windows, including an installer
For a complete list of changes, see the Exaile homepage.
On the left: some of the plugins available in Exaile; on the right: the Exaile cover manager
The new version isn’t bug-free and since there wasn’t a new release in a long time, expect to find quite a few bugs. Some of the bugs you’ll encounter in Exaile 3.3.0 include: non-working Shoutcast plugin, a buggy Lyrics plugin and most importantly, a bug in the Collection Manager dialog under Ubuntu 12.10 (doesn’t occur with older Ubuntu versions): when adding a music folder, Exaile always adds your home folder instead of the folder you select.
Here’s a work-around for this Collection Manager bug in Ubuntu 12.10: in the “Add directory” dialog, click the “Type a filename” icon (the pen icon), then enter the exact path to your music collection, like for instance “/home/YOUR_USERNAME/Music” and click “Add”, like in the screenshot below:
Install Exaile 3.3.0 in Ubuntu
The latest Exaile 3.3.0 is available in the main WebUpd8 PPA, for Ubuntu 12.10, 12.04 and 11.10 – add the PPA and install it using the following commands: