How to Use GNOME Shell Extensions [Complete Guide]

By Abhishek Prakash

GNOME Shell Extension in action

Brief: This is a detailed guide showing you how to install GNOME Shell Extensions manually or easily via a browser.

While discussing how to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10, I briefly mentioned GNOME Shell Extension. It was used to enable user themes. Today, we’ll have a detailed look at GNOME Shell Extensions in Ubuntu 17.10.

I may use the term GNOME Extensions instead of GNOME Shell Extensions but both have the same meaning here.

What are GNOME Shell Extensions? How to install GNOME Shell Extensions? And how to manage and remove GNOME Shell Extensions? I’ll explain all these questions, one by one. Let’s start with knowing about GNOME Extensions first.

What is a GNOME Shell Extension?

A GNOME Shell Extension is basically a tiny piece of code that enhances the capability of GNOME desktop.

Think of it as an add-on in your browser. For example, you can install an add-on in your browser to disable ads. This add-on is developed by a third-party developer. Though your web browser doesn’t provide it by default, installing this add-on enhances the capability of your web browser.

Similarly, GNOME Shell Extensions are like those third-party add-ons and plugins that you can install on top of GNOME. These extensions are created to perform specific tasks such as display weather condition, internet speed etc. Mostly, you can access them in the top panel.

GNOME Shell Extension to display weather information

There are also GNOME Extensions that are not visible on the top panel. But they still tweak GNOME’s behavior. For example, middle mouse button can be used to close an application with one such extension.

Installing GNOME Shell Extensions

Now that you know what are GNOME Shell Extensions, let’s see how to install them. There are three ways you can use GNOME Extensions:

  • Use a minimal set of extensions from Ubuntu (or your Linux distribution)
  • Find and install extensions in your web browser
  • Download and manually install extensions

Before you learn how to use GNOME Shell Extensions, you should install GNOME Tweak Tool. You can find it in the Software Center. Alternatively, you can use this command:

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

At times, you would also need to know the version of GNOME Shell you are using. This helps in determining whether an extension is compatible with your system or not. You can use the command below to find it:

gnome-shell --version

1. Use gnome-shell-extensions package [easiest and safest way]

Ubuntu (and several other Linux distributions such as Fedora) provide a package with a minimal set of GNOME extensions. You don’t have to worry about the compatibility here as it is tested by your Linux distribution.

If you want a no-brainer, just get this package and you’ll have 8-10 GNOME extensions installed.

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions

You’ll have to reboot your system (or maybe just restart GNOME Shell, I don’t remember it at this point). After that, start GNOME Tweaks and you’ll find a few extensions installed. You can just toggle the button to start using an installed extension.

Change GNOME Shell theme in Ubuntu 17.1
GNOME Shell Extensions in GNOME Tweaks tool

2. Install GNOME Shell extensions from a web browser

GNOME project has an entire website dedicated to extensions. That’s not it. You can find, install, and manage your extensions on this website itself. No need even for GNOME Tweaks tool.

GNOME Shell Extensions Website

But in order to install extensions a web browser, you need two things: a browser add-on and a native host connector in your system.

Step 1: Install browser add-on

When you visit the GNOME Shell Extensions website, you’ll see a message like this:

“To control GNOME Shell extensions using this site you must install GNOME Shell integration that consists of two parts: browser extension and native host messaging application.”

Installing GNOME Shell Extensions

You can simply click on the suggested add-on link by your web browser. You can install them from the link below as well:

Step 2: Install native connector

Just installing browser add-on won’t help you. You’ll still see an error like:

“Although GNOME Shell integration extension is running, native host connector is not detected. Refer documentation for instructions about installing connector”

How to install GNOME Shell Extensions

This is because you haven’t installed the host connector yet. To do that, use this command:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Don’t worry about the ‘chrome’ prefix in the package name. It has nothing to do with Chrome. You don’t have to install a separate package for Firefox or Opera here.

Step 3: Installing GNOME Shell Extensions in web browser

Once you have completed these two requirements, you are all set to roll. Now when you go to GNOME Shell Extension, you won’t see any error message.

GNOME Shell Extension
It’s a good idea to sort the extensions for current version of GNOME

A good thing to do would be to sort the extensions by your GNOME Shell version. It is not mandatory though. What happens here is that a developer creates an extension for the present GNOME version. In one year, there will be two more GNOME releases. But the developer didn’t have time to test or update his/her extension.

As a result, you wouldn’t know if that extension is compatible with your system or not. It’s possible that the extension works fine even in the newer GNOME Shell version despite that the extension is years old. It is also possible that the extension doesn’t work in the newer GNOME Shell.

You can search for an extension as well. Let’s say you want to install a weather extension. Just search for it and go for one of the search results.

When you visit the extension page, you’ll see a toggle button.

Installing GNOME Shell Extension
Toggle the button to enable or disable GNOME Shell Extensions

Click on it and you’ll be prompted if you want to install this extension:

Install GNOME Shell Extensions via web browser

Obviously, go for Install here. Once it’s installed, you’ll see that the toggle button is now on and there is a setting option available next to it. You can configure the extension using the setting option. You can also disable the extension from here.

Configuring installed GNOME Shell Extensions
Extensions can be configured via browser

You can also configure the settings of an extension that you installed via the web browser in GNOME Tweaks tool:

GNOME Tweaks to handle GNOME Shell Extensions
Installed extensions will always be accessible in Tweaks

You can see all your installed extensions on the website under installed extensions section. You can also delete the extensions that you installed via web browser here

Manage your installed GNOME Shell Extensions
Manage your installed GNOME Shell Extensions

One major advantage of using the GNOME Extensions website is that you can see if there is an update available for an extension. You won’t get it in GNOME Tweaks or system update.

3. Install GNOME Shell Extensions manually

It’s not that you have to be always online to install GNOME Shell extensions. You can download the files and install it later, without needing internet.

Go to GNOME Extensions website and download the extension with the latest version.

Download GNOME Shell Extension
Download GNOME Shell Extension

Extract the downloaded file. Copy the folder to ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions directory. Go to your Home directory and press Crl+H to show hidden folders. Locate .local folder here and from there, you can find your path till extensions directory.

Once you have the files copied in the correct directory, go inside it and open metadata.json file. Look for the value of uuid.

Make sure that the name of the extension’s folder is same as the value of uuid in the metadata.json file. If not, rename the directory to the value of this uuid.

Manually install GNOME Shell extension
Name of extension folder should be the same as uuid

Almost there! Now restart GNOME Shell. Press Alt+F2 and enter r to restart GNOME Shell.

Restart GNOME Shell

Restart GNOME Tweaks tool as well. You should see the manually installed GNOME extension in the Tweak tool now. You can configure or enable the newly installed extension here.

And that’s all you need to know about installing GNOME Shell Extensions.

Remove GNOME Shell Extensions

It is totally understandable that you might want to remove an installed GNOME Shell Extension.

If you installed it via a web browser, you can go to the installed extensions section on GNOME website and remove it from there (as shown in an earlier picture).

If you installed it manually, you can remove it by deleting the extension files from ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions directory.

Bonus Tip: Get notified of GNOME Shell Extensions updates

By now you have realized that there is no way to know if an update is available for a GNOME Shell extension except for visiting the GNOME extension website.

Luckily for you, there is a GNOME Shell Extension that notifies you if there is an update available for an installed extension. You can get it from the link below:

Extension Update Notifier

How do you manage GNOME Shell Extensions

I find it rather weird that you cannot update the extensions via the system updates. It’s as if GNOME Shell extensions are not even part of the system.

I’ll write a separate article about best GNOME Shell extensions in coming days. Meanwhile, share your experience with GNOME Shell extensions. Do you often use them? If yes, which ones are your favorite?

From: It’s FOSS

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How to Install Firefox Quantum in Ubuntu Right Now

By Abhishek Prakash

Firefox Quantum Wallpaper

Brief: If you cannot wait for the official release of the game-changing Firefox Quantum, you can install the beta version right now.

The upcoming version of Mozilla’s web browser Firefox is called Quantum because it’s blazing fast. It has been coded in Rust instead of the usual C++ and it is the first web browser to utilize the power of a multi-core processor.

There has been lots of buzz around Quantum release. It is touted as a game-changing release that will help Firefox gain its lost userbase to Google Chrome.

Ideally, Firefox Quantum should be released this month. But since I wanted to test it, I thought of installing it before its official release.

Installing Firefox Quantum beta in Ubuntu Linux

Warning: Your existing Firefox install will be upgraded to an unstable version of Quantum. A number of existing add-ons and extension won’t work in the newer version. Of course, you can remove Quantum and go back to the older and slower stable Firefox 56 by reinstalling it.

Mozilla has an official PPA to test the beta version. You can use the same PPA to install Firefox Quantum.

Open a terminal and enter the following command one by one:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next
sudo apt update

If you already have Firefox installed, you’ll see that it has been metamorphosed into Quantum. Firefox logo changed immediately.

Firefox Quantum vs Firefox 56 logo

In case you don’t have Firefox installed already, you can use the command below to install it:

sudo apt install firefox

That’s it. You can enjoy the newer, faster and better Firefox.

Firefox Quantum in Ubuntu Linux

Revert Firefox Quantum beta to Firefox stable

If you do not like the beta version of Firefox Quantum, you can remove it and install the stable Firefox 56.

To do that, use the commands below:

sudo apt remove firefox

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next

sudo apt install firefox

You should be back to the normal Firefox.

How is Firefox Quantum?

If you try Firefox Quantum, don’t forget to share your experience with it. Is it really as great as people say?

From: It’s FOSS

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How to Show Battery Percentage in Ubuntu 17.10 [Quick Tip]

By Abhishek Prakash

GNOME Tweaks tool in Ubuntu 17.10

Brief: This quick tip shows you how to display battery percentage in Ubuntu 17.10 that uses GNOME desktop environment.

One of the radical new features in Ubuntu 17.10 is the introduction of GNOME as the default desktop environment. And since it is a whole new desktop environment, finding small things like displaying battery percentage on the top panel can be tricky.

In Unity, you could show battery percentage of laptops from the system settings itself. However, that’s not the case in GNOME desktop used by Ubuntu 17.10. You’ll have to use a dedicated tool like GNOME Tweaks. Let’s see how to do this.

How to show battery percentage in Ubuntu 17.10

You can use the dconf editor for this task but we’ll be using GNOME Tweaks here. You can also use GNOME Tweaks to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10.

Step 1: Install GNOME Tweaks tool

Installing GNOME Tweaks too is fairly simple. Just search for it in the Software Center.

Alternatively, you can also use the command below to install GNOME Tweaks:

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Step 2: Enable battery percentage in GNOME Tweaks tool

Once installed, start the Tweaks tool by searching for it in applications. Use Super a.k.a. Windows key to bring up the search option.

In here, go to Top Bar in the left sidebar and then toggle the option of Battery Percentage in the right sidebar.

Display battery percentage in Ubuntu GNOME

The changes take place immediately. You can see that your laptop’s battery percentage is displayed in the top right corner:

Display battery ercentage in Ubuntu 17.10 and 18.04

I prefer to see the battery percentage, be it my laptop or my phone. It gives you an accurate idea of how much battery is remaining on the system instead of you trying to guess from those tiny bars in the battery icon.

I think I should include it in one of the first things to do after installing Ubuntu 17.10. What do you think?

From: It’s FOSS

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Zorin OS: From the Hobby Project of Two Teenagers to a Growing Startup

By Abhishek Prakash

Kyrill and Artyom Zorin in 2010

Brief: Two teenagers created a Linux distribution 8 years back. Today it has become a prominent name in the Linux world. Read the story of Zorin OS.

The CEO and the co-creator of popular Linux distribution Zorin OS, Artyom Zorin shares a few insights about the project, its goals and its achievements with us. By the way, now you can guess that Zorin OS was named after its creators. I didn’t know that 🙂

What made you start the Zorin OS project?

The story of Zorin OS began in the summer of 2008 when my brother Kyrill and I first tried Linux. As soon as we booted our CD of Ubuntu 7.10, we were amazed at how much better it was than the traditional desktop operating systems. It made our computer run so much faster, it was far more customizable and flexible, and we didn’t have to worry about getting viruses.

We thought to ourselves “This is better than Windows and Mac in pretty much every way, why isn’t everyone using this?” However, when we showed Linux to our father – who was a regular computer user – it became apparent that Linux wasn’t designed with the general public in mind, as it was difficult to use and the desktop layout was confusing to someone accustomed to Windows or macOS. We saw this as the biggest roadblock to the success of Linux on the desktop, so we decided to solve this problem by creating a distribution with a familiar user interface that adapts to what the user is comfortable with.

The only problem was that we were 12 and 14 years old, and neither of us knew how to develop software. We took this as a challenge and started developing Zorin OS while learning how to program. Nine months later – on 1 July 2009 – we shipped Zorin OS 1.0.

Kyrill and Artyom Zorin in 2010. Picture credit: podcast.ubuntu-uk.org

That’s impressive! But developing a Linux distribution on your own as a teenager must have been difficult. Did you have help from your parents? Do you have other developers working on Zorin OS?

When we started Zorin OS in our early teens there wasn’t any computer science curriculum at our school, so we needed to teach ourselves how to develop software by reading books, watching tutorials on YouTube, and Googling. Our father was a translator and our mother is an artist. While this meant we were the only programmers in the house, our father was instrumental to the inception of Zorin OS. His early experience with Linux served as the inspiration for our project, and his guidance in strategizing our new venture gave us a clear path towards building Zorin OS into what it is today.

After graduating from school and studying Computer Science and Business in university at Trinity College Dublin, we’re now working full time on Zorin OS. We would like to thank our community of users and customers of the Ultimate edition for helping to support our development efforts and making it possible for us to focus purely on making Zorin OS even better.

As an Open Source project, we also receive contributions from other members of the community, both indirectly and as direct code commits to our sub-projects. In times when we need to add more expertise to our team, we hire remote developers on an ad-hoc basis. Over the coming months, we’re planning to expand our core team even further to support the creation of new Zorin OS-related projects.

Kyrill and Artyom Zorin in 2010
Kyrill and Artyom Zorin in 2015

What would you recommend to users coming from other OS? And would Zorin OS be the right distribution to start with and why?

Ever since the release of version 1.0, our primary focus when developing Zorin OS was to make it as easy and frictionless as possible to move from traditional systems to start with Linux. If you’re familiar with Windows, you should be able to use Zorin OS right away without having to learn anything new; the start menu and taskbar are right where they were in Windows. We’ve also made it possible to change the desktop layout in a click using Zorin Appearance, so if you’re used to macOS or another operating system you can feel right at home. However, behind all of the desktop refinements and ease-of-use tweaks, you still have access to the power of a full Ubuntu-based Linux distribution in Zorin OS.

Some people do not like that Zorin OS Ultimate is paid. How do you justify putting a price tag on Linux?

The spirit of Free Software is to create technology that is free as in freedom, not “free beer”. This allows developers to charge for their work to make it sustainable. The GNU GPL license actually highlights the fact that Free Software can be paid-for.

Even though many Linux-based projects are available for free, a lot of the development work for Linux is actually done by salaried engineers in large companies like Intel, IBM, and (surprisingly) even Microsoft. These companies contribute these resources to Linux because their servers and products run on it, and by developing Linux they’re also improving how their businesses run to positively impact their bottom lines. This commercial funding is why we see such a vibrant Open Source community around Linux on servers and IoT.

However, the Linux desktop hasn’t seen that level of success yet, as there still hasn’t been a strong commercial push into it. When Canonical axed the Unity and Convergence projects earlier this year, they noted that they weren’t able to justify funding the development of these projects as they weren’t able to produce financial returns to be able to pay for themselves. We believe the lack of commercial focus could risk the stagnation of the development of desktop Linux (case in point above) which would be sad to see. By paying for a Linux desktop distribution, you’re also directly funding the engineers who are developing and making Linux even better on the desktop. In the case of Zorin OS Ultimate, you’re also getting a huge library of additional software and technical support as part of the package, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

I have noticed that some of the Zorin releases are based on the version of Ubuntu that is reaching the end of life in a few weeks. Why does Zorin take such long time after an Ubuntu release? And how does it work after the base Ubuntu version reached EOL?

I’m not sure where the “End of Life” question comes from. Zorin OS 12 – our current version – is based on Ubuntu 16.04 which will be supported until April 2021. This version was released in November 2016, and we continue to provide support and software updates for it, including point releases like version 12.2 which we released this September.

There is indeed a delay of a few months between the base Ubuntu version and the official release of a new stable version of Zorin OS. In between then, we work to integrate our existing software with the new technologies introduced in the new Ubuntu version. In addition, we use this time to create more new features and fix any issues we find ourselves. Once we’ve created and assembled all of the Zorin OS components into a working image, we allocate at least another month for Beta testing to let the community find any upstream and downstream bugs we didn’t catch beforehand. We’re strong believers in the “release when ready” philosophy.

With the release of Zorin OS 12, we announced that we will be committed to using LTS versions of Ubuntu as the base system for major releases going forward. In between major versions, we make a number of point releases which include incremental updates to the built-in apps as well as support for new hardware, security fixes and various under-the-hood improvements. We believe this release schedule provides the optimal balance between the robustness of tried-and-tested technology and the latest and greatest features. When the next major version of Zorin OS is released in 2018, Zorin OS 12 users will be able to upgrade to it from the Software Updater.

Zorin brothers
Picture credit: Irish Times

Do you think Zorin OS has achieved the original purpose or still has a long way to go?

When we started Zorin OS, our big audacious goal was (and still is) to make Linux a dominant force in the desktop world. Thus far, we’ve been delighted with our progress in developing an OS that is both powerful and well-designed for usability. In addition, this year Zorin OS passed the 17 million download mark, with over a million of these for our latest version which we released less than a year ago. What’s most exciting is that over 60% of these downloads were coming from proprietary systems like Windows and macOS, which means we’re accomplishing our mission of bringing Linux to people who’ve never had access to it before.

There are still so many things on our roadmap which we believe will accelerate progress towards our goal. In the coming months, we will launch a new package which will make it far easier for more businesses and governments to make the switch to Zorin OS. Further down the line, we’re aiming to bring Linux-based desktop computers into the developing world, where billions of people have never owned a PC before. There’s an exciting future ahead for the Linux desktop, so in short, we believe this is only the beginning for Zorin OS.

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How to Install Themes in Ubuntu 17.10

By Abhishek Prakash

How to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10

Brief: This beginner’s guide shows you how to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10. The tutorial covers installation of icon themes, GTK themes and GNOME Shell themes.

Newly released Ubuntu 17.10 looks good but it can be tweaked to look better. One of the reasons why I like using Linux is the flexibility of customization. Changing themes gives the system an entirely new look and feel. And the best thing is that there are tons of good themes for Ubuntu and other Linux at your disposal. You can play with them as you like.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you various type of theme customization, ways to install them. Of course, I’ll discuss how to change the themes in Ubuntu.

Let’s start with the type of theme elements.

Know the difference between icon themes vs GTK themes vs GNOME Shell themes

This is the default look of Ubuntu 17.10:

Ubuntu 17.10 default look
Ubuntu 17.10 default look

And if I change all three theme elements, the same may look like this:

Ubuntu 17.10 theme change
After changing icon, GTK3 and GNOME Shell theme

Icons: Icons are pretty straightforward. Changing the icon theme will change the looks of the icons of applications. You should opt for an icon theme that has support for a wide range of applications else you might see some icons remain unchanged and look out of the place. You can refer to this article to find the best icon themes for Ubuntu.

GTK theme: GTK is a framework used for building the graphical user interface of an application. Basically, it determines how an application interface will look like (if it is a GTK application). At present, Ubuntu uses GTK3 so you should download GTK3 themes.

GNOME Shell theme: Changing the GNOME Shell theme will change the Shell elements such as the top panel, activity overview, desktop notification etc.

Some theme packages provide all three types of theme elements to give you a uniform experience. On the other hand, you’ll also find a standalone icon or GTK or Shell themes. Of course, you can combine them to give your Ubuntu system an attractive look.

Now that you are familiar with the terms, let’s proceed to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10.

How to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10

Just for information, I’ll use the term ‘themes’ for all three i.e. icons, GTK and GNOME Shell themes, unless individually specified. I have also made a video about installing themes in Ubuntu 17.10. You can watch the video to see the things in action. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Ubuntu tutorials.

There are three main ways you can install themes in Ubuntu:

1. Using PPA to install themes

My favorite way of installing themes is to use a PPA. This way you get the themes updated automatically. All you have to do is to use three lines of code, one by one.

Let’s take Pop OS theme for example. This is a beautiful theme package developed by System76 for its own Pop OS Linux distribution. You can install the theme package using the command below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:system76/pop
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pop-theme

This will install Pop OS icon, GTK3 and GNOME Shell theme. You don’t have to do anything else. You now have the new themes available in your system. All you need to do is to change it. We’ll see how to change themes in Ubuntu slightly later in this article. Let’s move on to other ways of installing themes.

2. Using .deb packages to install themes

Some theme developers provide .deb executable for their theme. All you need to do is to download the .deb package and double click on it to install the theme like any other software. Take Masalla icon theme for example. You can download the .deb files from SourceForge.

Download Masalla icon theme

Once downloaded, just double-click on it to install the theme.

3. Using archive files to install themes

This is perhaps the most common way of providing themes. If you go to GNOME Looks website in search of themes, you’ll find that themes come in zip or tar archive form. Don’t worry, installing themes this way is also not a big deal.

Let’s download Ant GTK theme from the link below. You’ll have to go to the Files section. If you see more than one file, it’s because this theme has some variants. These variants are similar but varied a little in terms of looks. For example, there could be a dark variant of a theme.

Get Ant Theme

Once you have downloaded it, you’ll have to do one extra stuff here.

Go to your Home directory and press Ctrl+H to show hidden files and folders. If you see .themes and .icons folders, you are good. If not, create new folders named .themes and .icons.

You can use the command below if you want:

mkdir ~/.themes
mkdir ~/.icons

Now remember that when you download the archived version of GTK or GNOME Shell theme, extract it and copy the extracted folder to .themes folder in your home directory. If you download archived version of icon theme, extract it and copy the extracted folder to .icons folder in your home directory.

To summarize:

  • .themes – for GTK and GNOME Shell themes
  • .icons – for icon themes

Well, you have just learned how to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10. It’s time to see how to change the themes here.

How to change themes in Ubuntu 17.10

You’ll have to use GNOME Tweaks tool for this purpose. It is available in the software center. Just search for it and install it.

If you prefer terminal, you can use the command below to install GNOME Tweaks:

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Once installed, just search for it and start it:

GNOME Tweaks tool in Ubuntu 17.10

When you start Tweaks, you’ll see the options to change the icon, GTK3 and Shell theme under the Appearance section. GTK theme is changed from the “Applications” option.

How to change themes in Ubuntu

Troubleshoot:

You might see a triangle over the GNOME Shell option that won’t allow you to change the GNOME Shell theme.

Enable GNOME Shell change

This is because some functionalities to GNOME Shell are locked by default. They can be changed using GNOME Shell Extensions. While there are numerous GNOME Shell Extensions available, the most reliable way is to use GNOME Shell Extensions included in Ubuntu’s repository. This consists of 8-10 useful extensions, including the one that will allow you to change the GNOME Shell theme.

To install, you’ll have to use the terminal here. There is no other way:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions

At this point, I don’t remember if you need to log out or reboot your system. If you go under the Extensions option in GNOME Tweaks and don’t see a bunch of extensions there, you should log out and log back in.

Change GNOME Shell theme in Ubuntu 17.1

What you need to do here is to enable the ‘User themes’ GNOME Shell extension. After that, restart GNOME Tweaks application. Now, you’ll see that the triangle has gone and you can change the GNOME Shell.

Do you often change themes in Ubuntu?

Well, that would be all you need to do in order to install themes in Ubuntu 17.10. If you ask me, I almost never keep the default theme. It’s not that the default Ubuntu theme is not good looking. It’s just that I am used to of having better-looking themes. How about you?

From: It’s FOSS

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A Tale of Two Arches: ArchLabs and ArchMerge

By John Paul

ArchLabs vs ArchMerge

Brief: The rapidly growing Archlabs Linux distribution has split into two as the developers clash. As a result, we now have a new Linux distribution called ArchMerge.

Distros are made by teams. Sometimes those teams don’t get along. This is the story of one of those times.

Discovery

Last month, I was going through my Twitter feed when I stumbled upon something that caught my eye. It was a tweet from Archlabs and it linked to a tweet from a user named ArchMerge announcing a new wallpaper. At first, I thought ArchLabs had decided to change its name, which some distros have done in the past. However, after I investigated further I realized that ArchMerge was another Openbox powered Arch Linux distro. The fact that it looked very similar to ArchLabs stuck out in my mind, so I sent an email to each project to try and get the low down on what was going on.

It turns out that the team that had originally formed to create ArchLabs had fractured over creative differences. It also appears that the split was not exactly amicable. As it stands now, the ArchLabs team lead by Matt is continuing to work on an Arch-based version of Crunchbang while the ArchMerge team lead by Erik Dubois is working to create not just a light Arch-based Linux distro, but a platform to learn how to use Linux.

A Fork in the Road

Since both ArchLabs and ArchMerge started as the same project, I’m going to take a quick look at how each has progressed.

ArchLabs

In August, the ArchLabs team launched a cut-down version of ArchLabs R2-D2 named ArchLabs Mínimo. This version removed the Tint2 themes, the Conky themes, a bunch of GTK/Openbox themes and a number of apps. “All LX, QT and K apps and dependencies have been removed,” according to the release announcement. The goal of these removals was to make the ISO under 1GB in size.

In my original ArchLabs review, I noted that ArchLabs did not have a post-install script like CrunchBang had. The new version of ArchLabs does include the post-install script.

As I stated in the ArchLabs review, Pamac (the GUI frontend to Arch’s package manager) came preinstalled. The new release replaces Pamac with Pacli, a bash tools, which does many of the same things.

ArchMerge

In many respects, when you boot into ArchMerge it looks just like ArchLabs R2-D2. The big difference is the addition of Xfce and i3. When I booted into Xfce, it made me think of my Manjaro install.

The biggest change on the ArchMerge side of the scope. ArchMerge is positioned to be more than just an Arch-based distro. On the ArchMerge website, Eric has a series of phases planned out make ArchMerge a tool that people can use to learn about Linux.

Besides the release of ArchMerge 6 (the numbering shows the relationship to the previous version of ArchLabs), Eric released a net installer ISO named ArchMergeD. Users will be able to use ArchMergeD as a foundation to build their custom Arch install.

Confusingly, Eric also announced the creation of a companion site named ArchMerged. This site is full of tutorials teaching users all aspects of ArchMerge specifically and Linux in general.

Final Thoughts

As someone looking at this from the outside, this parting of the ways appears to have been caused by a conflict between two strong personalities. Matt of ArchLabs had the goal of imitating Crunchbang with an Arch environment and I think he has succeeded in this goal.

On the other hand, we have Eric. First of all, I want to say that Eric has done quite a bit for the Linux community. He has a website full of tutorials about how to theme and customize your Linux distro. That being said, a couple of the things he had done rub me the wrong way or just don’t really make sense. First of all is the name confusion. ArchMerge is the full distro while ArchMergeD will be the cut-down version you can use to build your OS the way you want it. Also, the learning platform/website is named ArchMerged. I can see it getting confusing after a while. Also, Eric seems to be very interested in making sure everyone knows that ArchMerged is his baby. On both Twitter and Facebook, Eric has his picture overlaid on the ArchMere logo. It appears that he even trademarked the ArchMerge logo.

Of the two, I’d be more interested in using ArchLabs just because it is very similar to CrunchBang. ArchMerge is just too similar to Manjaro for me to use. I would probably make use of the tutorials on the ArchMerged.

Have you ever used AchLabs or ArchMerge? What is your favorite minimal Linux distro? Please let us know in the comments below.

From: It’s FOSS

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Complete Guide for Using AsciiDoc in Linux

By Sylvain Leroux

Controlling text alignment in Luc Barthelet's Epistole (1985-Apple II) by using commands embedded into the text

Brief: This detailed guide discusses the advantages of using AsciiDoc and shows you how to install and use AsciiDoc in Linux.

Over the years I used many different tools to write articles, reports or documentation. I think all started for me with Luc Barthelet’s Epistole on Apple IIc from the French editor Version Soft. Then I switched to GUI tools with the excellent Microsoft Word 5 for Apple Macintosh, then the less convincing (to me) StarOffice on Sparc Solaris, that was already known as OpenOffice when I definitively switched to Linux. All these tools were really word-processors.

But I was never really convinced by WYSIWYG editors. So I investigated many different more-or-less human-readable text formats: troff, HTML, RTF, TeX/LaTeX, XML and finally AsciiDoc which is the tool I use the most today. In fact, I am using it right now to write this article!

If I made that history, it was because somehow the loop is closed. Epistole was a word-processor of the text-console era. As far as I remember, there were menus and you can use the mouse to select text — but most of the formatting was done by adding non-intrusive tags into the text. Just like it is done with AsciiDoc. Of course, it was not the first software to do that. But it was the first I used!

Why AsciiDoc (or any other text file format)?

I see two advantages in using text formats for writing: first, there is a clear separation between the content and the presentation. This argument is open to discussion since some text formats like TeX or HTML require a good discipline to adhere to that separation. And on the other hand, you can somehow achieve some level of separation by using templates and stylesheets with WYSIWYG editors. I agree with that. But I still find presentation issues intrusive with GUI tools. Whereas, when using text formats, you can focus on the content only without any font style or widow line disturbing you in your writing. But maybe it’s just me? However, I can’t count the number of times I stopped my writing just to fix some minor styling issue — and having lost my inspiration when I came back to the text. If you disagree or have a different experience, don’t hesitate to contradict me using the comment section below!

Anyway, my second argument will be less subject to personal interpretation: documents based on text formats are highly interoperable. Not only you can edit them with any text editor on any platform, but you can easily manage text revisions with a tool such as git or SVN, or automate text modification using common tools such as sed, AWK, Perl and so on. To give you a concrete example, when using a text-based format like AsciiDoc, I only need one command to produce highly personalized mailing from a master document, whereas the same job using a WYSIWYG editor would have required a clever use of “fields” and going through several wizard screens.

What is AsciiDoc?

Strictly speaking, AsciiDoc is a file format. It defines syntactic constructs that will help a processor to understand the semantics of the various parts of your text. Usually in order to produce a nicely formatted output.

Even if that definition could seem abstract, this is something simple: some keywords or characters in your document have a special meaning that will change the rendering of the document. This is the exact same concept as the tags in HTML. But a key difference with AsciiDoc is the property of the source document to remain easily human readable.

Check our GitHub repository to compare how the same output can be produced using few common text files format: (coffee manpage idea courtesy of http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/1158)

  • coffee.man uses the venerable troff processor (based on the 1964 RUNOFF program). It’s mostly used today to write man pages. You can try it after having downloaded the coffee.* files by typing man ./coffee.man at your command prompt.
  • coffee.tex uses the LaTeX syntax (1985) to achieve mostly the same result but for a PDF output. LaTeX is a typesetting program especially well suited for scientific publications because of its ability to nicely format mathematical formulae and tables. You can produce the PDF from the LaTeX source using pdflatex coffee.tex
  • coffee.html is using the HTML format (1991) to describe the page. You can directly open that file with your favorite web browser to see the result.
  • coffee.adoc, finally, is using the AsciiDoc syntax (2002). You can produce both HTML and PDF from that file:
asciidoc coffee.adoc                   # HTML output
a2x --format pdf ./coffee.adoc         # PDF output (dblatex)
a2x --fop --format pdf ./coffee.adoc   # PDF output (Apache FOP)

Now you’ve seen the result, open those four files using your favorite text editor (nano, vim, SublimeText, gedit, Atom, … ) and compare the sources: there are great chances you will agree the AsciiDoc sources are easier to read — and probably to write too.

Who is who? Could you guess which of these example files is written using AsciiDoc?

How to install AsciiDoc in Linux?

AsciiDoc is relatively complex to install because of the many dependencies. I mean complex if you want to install it from sources. For most of us, using our package manager is probably the best way:

apt-get install asciidoc fop

or the following command:

yum install acsiidoc fop

(fop is only required if you need the Apache FOP backend for PDF generation — this is the PDF backend I use myself)

More details about the installation can be found on the official AsciiDoc website. For now, all you need now is a little bit of patience, since, at least on my minimal Debian system, installing AsciiDoc require 360MB to be downloaded (mostly because of the LaTeX dependency). Which, depending on your Internet bandwidth, may give you plenty of time to read the rest of this article.

AsciiDoc Tutorial: How to write in AsciiDoc?

AsciiDoc tutorial for Linux

I said it several times, AsciiDoc is a human-readable text file format. So, you can write your documents using the text editor of your choice. There are even dedicated text editors. But I will not talk about them here— simply because I don’t use them. But if are using one of them, don’t hesitate to share your feedback using the comment section at the end of this article.

I do not intend to create yet another AsciiDoc syntax tutorial here: there are plenty of them already available on the web. So I will only mention the very basic syntactic constructs you will use in virtually any document. From the simple “coffee” command example quoted above, you may see:

  • titles in AsciiDoc are identified by underlying them with === or --- (depending on the title level),
  • bold character spans are written between starts,
  • and italics between underscores.

Those are pretty common convention probably dating back to the pre-HTML email era. In addition, you may need two other common constructs, not illustrated in my previous example: hyperlinks and images inclusion, whose syntax is pretty self-explanatory.

// HyperText links
link:https://itsfoss.com[ItsFOSS Linux Blog]

// Inline Images
image:https://itsfoss.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/itsfoss-text-logo.png[ItsFOSS Text Logo]

// Block Images
image::https://itsfoss.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/itsfoss-text-logo.png[ItsFOSS Text Logo]

But the AsciiDoc syntax is much richer than that. If you want more, I can point you to that nice AsciiDoc cheatsheet: http://powerman.name/doc/asciidoc

How to render the final output?

I will assume here you have already written some text following the AsciiDoc format. If this is not the case, you can download here some example files copied straight out of the AsciiDoc documentation:

# Download the AsciiDoc User Guide source document
BASE='https://raw.githubusercontent.com/itsfoss/asciidoc-intro/master'
wget "${BASE}"/{asciidoc.txt,customers.csv}

Since AsciiDoc is human-readable, you can send the AsciiDoc source text directly to someone by email, and the recipient will be able to read that message without further ado. But, you may want to provide some more nicely formatted output. For example as HTML for web publication (just like I’ve done it for this article). Or as PDF for print or display usage.

In all cases, you need a processor. In fact, under the hood, you will need several processors. Because your AsciiDoc document will be transformed into various intermediate formats before producing the final output. Since several tools are used, the output of one being the input of the next one, we sometimes speak of a toolchain.

Even if I explain some inner working details here, you have to understand most of that will be hidden from you. Unless maybe when you initially have to install the tools— or if you want to fine-tune some steps of the process.

In practice?

For HTML output, you only need the asciidoc tool. For more complicated toolchains, I encourage you to use the a2x tool (part of the AsciiDoc distribution) that will trigger the necessary processors in order:

# All examples are based on the AsciiDoc User Guide source document

# HTML output
asciidoc asciidoc.txt
firefox asciidoc.html

# XHTML output
a2x --format=xhtml asciidoc.txt

# PDF output (LaTeX processor)
a2x --format=pdf asciidoc.txt

# PDF output (FOP processor)
a2x --fop --format=pdf asciidoc.txt

Even if it can directly produce an HTML output, the core functionality of the asciidoc tool remains to transform the AsciiDoc document to the intermediate DocBook format. DocBook is a XML-based format commonly used for (but not limited to) technical documentation publishing. DocBook is a semantic format. That means it describes your document content. But not its presentation. So formatting will be the next step of the transformation. For that, whatever is the output format, the DocBook intermediate document is processed through an XSLT processor to produce either directly the output (e.g. XHTML), or another intermediate format.

This is the case when you generate a PDF document where the DocBook document will be (at your will) converted either as a LaTeX intermediate representation or as XSL-FO (a XML-based language for page description). Finally, a dedicated tool will convert that representation to PDF.

The extra steps for PDF generations are notably justified by the fact the toolchain has to handle pagination for the PDF output. Something this is not necessary for a “stream” format like HTML.

dblatex or fop?

Since there are two PDF backends, the usual question is “Which is the best?” Something I can’t answer for you.

Both processors have pros and cons. And ultimately, the choice will be a compromise between your needs and your tastes. So I encourage you to take the time to try both of them before choosing the backend you will use. If you follow the LaTeX path, dblatex will be the backend used to produce the PDF. Whereas it will be Apache FOP if you prefer using the XSL-FO intermediate format. So don’t forget to take a look at the documentation of these tools to see how easy it will be to customize the output to your needs. Unless of course if you are satisfied with the default output!

How to customize the output of AsciiDoc?

AsciiDoc to HTML

Out of the box, AsciiDoc produces pretty nice documents. But sooner or later you will what to customize their appearance.

The exact changes will depend on the backend you use. For the HTML output, most changes can be done by changing the CSS stylesheet associated with the document.

For example, let’s say I want to display all section headings in red, I could create the following custom.css file:

h2 {
    color: red;
}

And process the document using the slightly modified command:

# Set the 'stylesheet' attribute to
# the absolute path to our custom CSS file
asciidoc -a stylesheet=$PWD/custom.css asciidoc.txt

You can also make changes at a finer level by attaching a role attribute to an element. This will translate into a class attribute in the generated HTML.

For example, try to modify our test document to add the role attribute to the first paragraph of the text:

[role="summary"]
AsciiDoc is a text document format ....

Then add the following rule to the custom.css file:

.summary {
    font-style: italic;
}

Re-generate the document:

asciidoc -a stylesheet=$PWD/custom.css asciidoc.txt

AsciiDoc HTML output with custom CSS to display the first paragraph in italics and section headings in color

  1. et voila: the first paragraph is now displayed in italic. With a little bit of creativity, some patience and a couple of CSS tutorials, you should be able to customize your document at your wills.

AsciiDoc to PDF

Customizing the PDF output is somewhat more complex. Not from the author’s perspective since the source text will remain identical. Eventually using the same role attribute as above to identify the parts that need a special treatment.

But you can no longer use CSS to define the formatting for PDF output. For the most common settings, there are parameters you can set from the command line. Some parameters can be used both with the dblatex and the fop backends, others are specific to each backend.

For the list of dblatex supported parameters, see http://dblatex.sourceforge.net/doc/manual/sec-params.html

For the list of DocBook XSL parameters, see http://docbook.sourceforge.net/release/xsl/1.75.2/doc/param.html

Since margin adjustment is a pretty common requirement, you may also want to take a look at that: http://docbook.sourceforge.net/release/xsl/current/doc/fo/general.html

If the parameter names are somewhat consistent between the two backends, the command-line arguments used to pass those values to the backends differ between dblatex and fop. So, double check first your syntax if apparently, this isn’t working. But to be honest, while writing this article I wasn’t able to make the body.font.family parameter work with the dblatex backend. Since I usually use fop, maybe did I miss something? If you have more clues about that, I will be more than happy to read your suggestions in the comment section at the end of this article!

Worth mentioning using non-standard fonts— even with fop–require some extra work. But it’s pretty well documented on the Apache website: https://xmlgraphics.apache.org/fop/trunk/fonts.html#bulk

# XSL-FO/FOP
a2x -v --format pdf 
    --fop 
    --xsltproc-opts='--stringparam page.margin.inner 10cm' 
    --xsltproc-opts='--stringparam body.font.family Helvetica' 
    --xsltproc-opts='--stringparam body.font.size 8pt' 
    asciidoc.txt

# dblatex
# (body.font.family _should_ work, but, apparently, it isn't ?!?)
a2x -v --format pdf 
    --dblatex-opts='--param page.margin.inner=10cm' 
    --dblatex-opts='--stringparam body.font.family Helvetica' 
    asciidoc.txt

Fine-grained setting for PDF generation

Global parameters are nice if you just need to adjust some pre-defined settings. But if you want to fine-tune the document (or completely change the layout) you will need some extra efforts.

At the core of the DocBook processing there is XSLT. XSLT is a computer language, expressed in XML notation, that allows to write arbitrary transformation from an XML document to … something else. XML or not.

For example, you will need to extend or modify the DocBook XSL stylesheet to produce the XSL-FO code for the new styles you may want. And if you use the dblatex backend, this may require modifying the corresponding DocBook-to-LaTeX XSLT stylesheet. In that latter case you may also need to use a custom LaTeX package. But I will not focus on that since dblatex is not the backend I use myself. I can only point you to the official documentation if you want to know more. But once again, if you’re familiar with that, please share your tips and tricks in the comment section!

Even while focusing only on fop, I don’t really have the room here to detail the entire procedure. So, I will just show you the changes you could use to obtain a similar result as the one obtained with few CSS lines in HTML output above. That is: section titles in red and a summary paragraph in italics.

The trick I use here is to create a new XSLT stylesheet, importing the original DocBook stylesheet, but overriding the attribute sets or template for the elements we want to change:

<?xml version='1.0'?>
<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform"
                xmlns:exsl="http://exslt.org/common" exclude-result-prefixes="exsl"
                xmlns:fo="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Format"
                version='1.0'>

<!-- Import the default DocBook stylesheet for XSL-FO -->
<xsl:import href="/etc/asciidoc/docbook-xsl/fo.xsl" />

<!--
    DocBook XSL defines many attribute sets you can
    use to control the output elements
-->
<xsl:attribute-set name="section.title.level1.properties">
    <xsl:attribute name="color">#FF0000</xsl:attribute>
</xsl:attribute-set>

<!--
    For fine-grained changes, you will need to write
    or override XSLT templates just like I did it below
    for 'summary' simpara (paragraphs)
-->
<xsl:template match="simpara[@role='summary']">
  <!-- Capture inherited result -->
  <xsl:variable name="baseresult">
    <xsl:apply-imports/>
  </xsl:variable>

  <!-- Customize the result -->
  <xsl:for-each select="exsl:node-set($baseresult)/node()">
    <xsl:copy>
      <xsl:copy-of select="@*"/>
      <xsl:attribute name="font-style">italic</xsl:attribute>
      <xsl:copy-of select="node()"/>
    </xsl:copy>
  </xsl:for-each>
</xsl:template>


</xsl:stylesheet>

Then, you have to request a2x to use that custom XSL stylesheet to produce the output rather than the default one using the --xsl-file option:

a2x -v --format pdf 
    --fop 
    --xsl-file=./custom.xsl 
    asciidoc.txt

AsciiDoc PDF output generated from Apache FOP using a custom XSLT to display the first paragraph in italics and section headings in color

With a little bit of familiarity with XSLT, the hints given here and some queries on your favorite search engine, I think you should be able to start customizing the XSL-FO output.

But I will not lie, some apparently simple changes in the document output may require you to spend quite some times searching through the DocBook XML and XSL-FO manuals, examining the stylesheets sources and performing a couple of tests before you finally achieve what you want.

My opinion

Writing documents using a text format has tremendous advantages. And if you need to publish to HTML, there is not much reason for not using AsciiDoc. The syntax is clean and neat, processing is simple and changing the presentation if needed, mostly require easy to acquire CSS skills.

And even if you don’t use the HTML output directly, HTML can be used as an interchange format with many WYSIWYG applications today. As an example, this is was I’ve done here: I copied the HTML output of this article into the WordPress edition area, thus conserving all formatting, without having to type anything directly into WordPress.

If you need to publish to PDF— the advantages remain the same for the writer. Things will be certainly harsher if you need to change the default layout in depth though. In a corporate environment, that probably means hiring a document designed skilled with XSLT to produce the set of stylesheets that will suit your branding or technical requirements— or for someone in the team to acquire those skills. But once done it will be a pleasure to write text with AsciiDoc. And seeing those writings being automatically converted to beautiful HTML pages or PDF documents!

Finally, if you find AsciiDoc either too simplistic or too complex, you may take a look at some other file formats with similar goals: Markdown, Textile, reStructuredText or AsciiDoctor to name few. Even if based on concepts dating back to the early days of computing, the human-readable text format ecosystem is pretty rich. Probably richer it was only 20 years ago. As a proof, many modern static web site generators are based on them. Unfortunately, this is out of the scope for this article. So, let us know if you want to hear more about that!

From: It’s FOSS

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Lightweight Linux Distribution antiX-17 Released!

By Derick Sullivan M. Lobga

antiX Linux desktop

One of the best lightweight Linux distributions, antiX has just released its latest version, antiX-17 code-named “Heather Heyer”.

The new release is based on Debian 9.2. Like Devuan Linux, antiX is one of the systemd-free Linux distributions.

AntiX-17 supports both 32-bit and 64-bit processors which is not surprising because it focuses on supporting older hardware. It can support Pentium III computers with a minimum 256 MB RAM requirement. The installer needs a minimum of 2.7 GB hard drive space to run.

You can either install it on a hard disk or run live from an encrypted stick with persistence and remaster. It can be also used as a fast-booting rescue CD

antiX comes in 4 flavors:

  • ”’antiX-full”’ (c800MB) -4 windows managers – IceWM (default), Fluxbox, jwm and herbstluftwm plus full LibreOffice suite.

  • ”’antiX-base”’ (c620MB) -4 windows managers – IceWM (default), Fluxbox, jwm and herbstluftwm.

  • ”’antiX-core”’ (c310MB) – no X, but should support most wireless adapters.

  • ”’antiX-net”’ (c150MB) – no X. Just enough to get you connected (wired) and ready to build.”

New features in AntiX-17 Heather Heyer

Highlights of the new release are:

  • Live Bootloaders: antiX distro makes provision for legacy, 32-bit UEFI and 64-bit UEFI live bootloaders. The bootloaders provide popup menus that could be easily customized. Unlike other distros, it provides an “F8 Save” feature that saves your choices after reboots.

  • The distro is Debian Stretch based and comes without systemd and libsystemd0

  • udev has been replaced with eudev 3.2-4

  • Video player: gnome-mplayer

  • Introduced smtube for playing YouTube videos without using browser

  • streamlight-antix lets you streamline videos with little RAM usage

  • Convert video and audio files using winff and asunder

  • You can update kernel when running live using live-kernel-updater

antiX-17 also contains in-house apps in its repos. You have 1-to-1-voice-antix that lets voice chats between two pcs through an encrypted mumble. It also includes a remote access help application, 1-to-1-assistance-antix as well as ssh-conduit for remote resources through an ssh encrypted connection.

Check out what’s new on antiX in the video below. If you like Linux videos, do subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Get antiX-17

Download any of the 4 “Flavours” of antiX-17 for both 32-bit and 64-bit processors from the link below:

Download antiX

Do share your experience in the comment box below if you have tried antiX-17.

From: It’s FOSS

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No KDEing! Linux Mint is Killing its KDE Edition

By Derick Sullivan M. Lobga

Linux Mint KDE Edition is dropped

Brief: The KDE version of Linux Mint 18.3 that will be released soon will be the last to feature a KDE Plasma Edition. Which means Linux Mint 19 and above will not have KDE edition.

Linux Mint KDE Edition will soon be history. The Linux Mint Project head, Clement Lefebvre announced it in a blog post detailing the future plans of the project. He said, “In continuation with what’s been done in the past, Linux Mint 18.3 will feature a KDE edition, but it will be the last release to do so.”

This means Linux Mint 19 will be available only in Cinnamon, Xfce and MATE editions. According to Clement, KDE apps, ecosystem and QT toolkit have “very little in common” with their present project. Another reason for dropping KDE is that Mint team works hard on developing features for tools like Xed, Mintlocale, Blueberry, Slick Greeter but they only work with MATE, Xfce and Cinnamon and not KDE.

He also said that in as much as the project wants to diversify in order to attract a bigger market for Linux, they also want to focus on what they “do well and we love doing to get better and better at doing them. KDE is amazing but it’s not what we want to focus on.”

The announcement, however, was soft on KDE users as it states they will be able to install KDE on top of Linux Mint 19 (unofficially) and will also be able to port Mint software to Kubuntu. Suggestions were also made KDE users could also try Arch Linux “to follow upstream KDE more closely”.

Linux Mint 18.3 will be codenamed “Sylvia” and is expected to be released next month. It will have the support for Flatpak packaging. The latest Cinnamon 3.6 will also be included in this upcoming release.

On the positive side, those who will continue using Linux Mint will now have a better experience since the developers will be able to put more time to build Mint a better operating system.

What do you think of Linux Mint dropping KDE?

From: It’s FOSS

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Cutegram: A Cuter Telegram Application for Linux

By Aquil Roshan

Cutegram is a better Telegram client

Brief: Cutegram is an unofficial Telegram client for desktop Linux. It provides more features than the official Telegram client itself.

Telegram is one of the best instant messengers for Linux and it definitely needs no introduction. It is loved by the community because you can install Telegram in Linux thanks to the official native Linux client. Telegram runs on my Android phone and on my Linux desktop, so life is good.

Telegram is also privacy-focused, featuring a combination of 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, 2048-bit RSA encryption, Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange.

But the thing that sets Telegram apart is its limitless nature. There’s no limit on the size of the file you can share using Telegram. You can send files of any format. The groups can contain up to 20,000 people, which I guess is quite limitless.

Talking of groups, did you know that It’s FOSS has an official Telegram channel? If you are an active Telegram user, join our official channel to receive the latest updates instantly:

Join The Exclusive It’s FOSS Telegram Channel

Now although I don’t use Telegram on a regular basis, I do think that the Telegram desktop client looks kinda boring. I mean it’s simple and usable alright, but slightly boring. And that’s where Cutegram steps in.

Cutegram: An unofficial but better Telegram app for Linux

Cutegram is an alternative for Telegram desktop client created by Aseman. Do note that it uses Telegram as backend. It is not a different messenger service. It’s just a different client for Telegram with additional features and more intuitive looks.

Cutegram improves upon the visuals. The colors are bright and attractive. The theme is highly customizable with the options to change the background image and the color of the main bar. It uses Faenza icons and features the Twitter emojis. It overall looks better than Telegram.

As far as functionality is concerned, Cutegram does everything that Telegram does. It syncs your contacts as well as messages through the central Telegram server. You can access your groups and create group chats. And secret chat facility is also available if you want to use end-to-end encryption along with added privacy features. You can also use multiple accounts on Cutegram.

In addition to that, Cutegram uses native desktop notifications, Twitter emojis and provides drag and drop support.

If you are willing to give it a try, here’s how to install Cutegram in various Linux distributions.

Cutegram is available for Linux, Windows and macOS. You can get the executable file from its webpage. Just download and change the permission to executable and run it:

Download Cutegram

Alternatively, you can use the following methods.

Install Cutegram on Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary OS and other Ubuntu derivatives:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:aseman/desktop-apps
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cutegram

Install Cutegram on Arch Linux, Antergos and other Arch derivatives:

sudo pacman -S cutegram

Install Cutegram on any other distros, run the below commands one by one:

wget http://aseman.co/downloads/cutegram/2/cutegram-2.7.1-linux-x64-installer.run
sudo chmod +x cutegram-2.7.1-linux-x64-installer.run
./cutegram-2.7.1-linux-x64-installer.run

Wrapping up

If you use several messaging services, make sure to check out Franz, which has got almost various major messengers in one single application.

Cutegram is a better way of using Telegram on desktop Linux. In my opinion, it is the best Telegram client. What do you think? Do share your views.

From: It’s FOSS

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