Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to Create a Custom Launcher in Unity on Ubuntu 11.10

One of the first things I always have to do after a fresh install of the latest Ubuntu (or whatever distro is striking my fancy at the time) is create some custom launchers for applications like Eclipse.


Prior to Unity this was done quite easily by editing the menus. In Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity this was no longer an option, so you could right-click on your desktop and select "Create Launcher" and then move the new launcher to ~/.local/share/applications, or there was also a method of creating a .desktop file manually that did the trick.


In Ubuntu 11.10 the right-click menu option for "Create Launcher" was removed (you can read more about why here), so we're really left with no easy way to create custom launchers. I consider myself a gearhead but even I didn't care for the "just launch the binary from the terminal" suggestion by some people in the bug thread.


So in my semi-obsessive reading about all of this last night I came across a metion of a package called alacarte that brings back the classic menu editing functionality we knew and loved back in the pre-Unity days.


Just install it:

sudo apt-get install alacarte


Then run it (alacarte from a terminal, or just hit super and search for alacarte), and you've gone retro with your menu editing.


One of the 10,000 things I love about free sofware--if there's an annoyance like this chances are someone else who's annoyed will fix it, or you can always jump in and fix it yourself. Clearly this wasn't something on which the Ubuntu developers were going to budge but the alacarte solution works extremely well.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Installing Cisco AnyConnect on 64-Bit Ubuntu 11.10

Every six months for the past few years I've been posting how to install Cisco AnyConnect on the latest 64-bit releases of Ubuntu and for a couple of cycles Linux Mint since I was using that as my primary OS for a while.


This time around it's finally downright boring, which is a good thing. No more installing 32-bit libraries, creating symlinks to Firefox libraries, etc. etc. you just do the following:



  1. Hit your company's VPN server in a browser and log in with your user name and passcode

  2. Click the AnyConnect link on the left

  3. Click "Start AnyConnect"

  4. This will attempt to install AnyConnect via your browser's Java plugin. If this works, you're done! If this doesn't work (give it at least 60 seconds), read on.


In my case on the two machines on which I attempted this it didn't work. The browser-based install just hung even though I verified I have Java installed and the browser plugin is working.


If you don't have Java installed, however, the browser-based installation will detect that and give you a download link for the installer. So what I did was in Firefox I went to Edit -> Preferences -> Manage Add-Ons -> Plugins and I disabled the IcedTea-Web Plugin, which is the Java plugin that Firefox ships with.


I then restarted Firefox and repeated the steps above, only this time on step 4 it detected I didn't have Java installed and provided a link to the 64-bit installer. Download that file (vpnsetup.sh), chmod +x it, run it, and you're done.


I'm a little disappointed I didn't have to the usual dance on this, but it finally just works.

Fix for Empathy AOL IM Login Issues on Ubuntu 11.10

I've installed Ubuntu 11.10 on my two System76 laptops (I have a Lemur and a Serval), and on both machines I noticed while I was configuring Empathy it wouldn't log into AOL IM successfully.


After verifying I wasn't fat-fingering my password I did some poking around and came across a post-install to-do list for Ubuntu 11.10 that fixed the issue for me. You can of course pick and choose which plugins to install, but I suspect just using the latest version did the trick. There were some on-again off-again bugs related to AIM and ICQ logins during 11.10 development.


Full details are in the linked blog post above, but here's the basics:



sudo add-apt-repository ppa:telepathy/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install empathy


With the new version the AIM login issue immediately went away.


 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Manually Installing Java Plugin for Firefox on 64-Bit Ubuntu 11.10

Since I always forget how to do this I figured I'd blog it for my own purposes so I don't have to sift through Google every time.


This assumes you have the JDK installed under /opt/java/jdk1.6.0_27 -- adjust accordingly if you have things installed elsewhere or only have the JRE.


Open up a terminal and do this:



cd /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
sudo ln -s /opt/java/jdk1.6.0_27/jre/lib/amd64/libnpjp2.so


Then restart Firefox if it's running.


Now to look into doing this for Chrome ...