Archive for the ‘elementary OS’ Category

Distro hopping: Finishing up with elementary OS

September 21st, 2015 No comments

I’ve been using elementary OS since I started this little distro hopping adventure and while I have enjoyed my time with this sleek and speedy distribution it is time to move on to the next one. Before completely jumping ship however I would like to just put together some of my brief thoughts on how elementary OS worked for me as a day-to-day operating system.


  • Very beautiful: If you ever need to show off what Linux can look like given some spit shine and polish this is the distribution to show.
  • Very fast: Applications load quickly, and you can easily jump between them almost instantly.
  • Very easy to use: Many applications have nice default settings that should work for the majority of users.
Showing off the Applications Menu

Showing off the Applications Menu


  • Weird defaults: Why is Midori the default browser? I understand that it might be about looks but it is not mature enough yet and can give a seriously negative impression of the distribution as a whole when it won’t stop crashing.
  • Terrible application names: Music? Videos? Photos? Really? You know how hard it was to write a post about how to import music into Music from your music folder so you can listen to music? Ugh..
  • Not enough customization or power user settings: There is certainly something to be said for streamlined applications with good defaults but once you’re familiar with your system you’ll start to want to tweak things to your liking and sadly elementary OS just doesn’t have a lot of options to do this.
It looks like there are a lot of settings... but that's a trick!

It looks like there are a lot of settings… but that’s a trick!


  • Why does almost every application try to remember where I was last?
  • Why is there no minimize button by default?
I understand that a minimize button isn't really required but it can be confusing for new users.

I understand that a minimize button isn’t really required but it can be confusing for new users.

Check back soon to see where I end up next!

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Categories: elementary OS, Tyler B Tags:

Distro hopping: Import music stored on NAS into Music

September 19th, 2015 No comments

So you’re running elementary OS and want to access the music files you have stored on a Network-attached-storage device within the Music program. Unfortunately while you can easily browse the network and find these files you can’t do so within Music. Luckily there is a solution to this problem! Borrowing heavily from a previous post this will walk you through how to set up a persistent media folder on your computer that will ‘point’ to the music directory on your NAS.

Step 1) Open up a terminal

Now wasn't that easy?

Now wasn’t that easy?

Step 2) Install the required software

For the purpose of this post I’m going to assume the NAS is presenting a Windows file share so we’ll need the software to be able to make use of it. Simply run the following command to install the needed software:

sudo apt-get install cifs-utils
Installing some software!

Installing some software!

Step 3) Create a location for where you want the media to appear

If this is just going to be used for your user account you can simply create a new folder in your home folder. For example create a new folder under the Music folder called “NAS”. However if we want multiple users to be able to access this then you’ll want to put it somewhere else (for example /media/NAS).

For my example I'm just going to put it under a new NAS folder inside of my Music folder

For my example I’m just going to put it under a new NAS folder inside of my Music folder

Step 4) Edit the fstab file and add the share(s) so that they auto connect on startup

So basically there is a file on your computer called fstab that contains information about all of the hard drives and mounts that the computer should create on boot. To make it so our new NAS folder points to the actual NAS directory we’re going to add a new line to this file telling our computer to do just that. Start by using your terminal and opening that file in an editor. You can use a terminal editor like nano or even a graphical one like Scratch.

To use the terminal editor nano run the following command:

sudo nano /etc/fstab
fstab in nano

fstab open in nano

To use the graphical editor Scratch run the following command:

sudo scratch-text-editor /etc/fstab
fstab open in Scratch

fstab open in Scratch

On a new line add the following (modifying it according to your system). Note that this should be a single line even though it may appear broken up over multiple lines here:

//<path to server>/<share name>  <path to local directory>  cifs  
guest,uid=<user id to mount files as>,iocharset=utf8  0  0

Breaking it down a little bit:

  • <path to server>: This is the network name or IP address of the computer hosting the share (in my case the NAS). For example it could be something like “” or something like “MyNas”
  • <share name>: This is the name of the share on that computer. For example I set up my NAS to share different directories one of which was called “Files”
  • <path to local directory>: This is where you want the remote files to appear locally. For example if you want them to appear in a folder under your Music directory you could do something like “/home/tyler/Music/NAS”. Just make sure that the directory exists (that’s why we created it above :)).
  • <user id to mount files as>: This defines the permissions to give the files. On elementary OS (as well as other Ubuntu distributions) the first user you create is usually given uid 1000 so you could put “1000” here. To find out the uid of any random user use the command “id <user>” in the terminal without quotes.

As an example the line I added for my example configuration here was:

//  /home/tyler/Music/NAS  cifs  
guest,uid=1000,iocharset=utf8  0  0

Now save the file.

Step 5) Test that it worked

Finally in the terminal we’re going to run command to actually test it:

sudo mount -a

This will do essentially the same thing that happens when your computer first boots so if this works it should work the next time you restart as well. If you don’t get any errors then congratulations it should have all worked! You can verify by now opening up your NAS folder and confirming that it shows the contents of your actual NAS directory.

We have music!

We have music!

Step 6) Import the music into Music

Now that we have the NAS music showing up in a local folder the Music application will be able to add it no problem. Simply open up Music and use the import option to import the music from your folder (in my case ~/Music/NAS).



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Distro hopping: how to install Plex Home Theater on elementary OS

September 15th, 2015 No comments

Plex is great. It is a very easy to use cross-platform program that lets you view and watch your own personal media almost anywhere. The main component is the Plex Media Server which actually hosts and provides the media but they have another program that offers a very nice interface to browse and view these files called the Plex Home Theater. Unfortunately while they have builds for Windows and OS X there are currently no such officially supported versions for linux. Thankfully the community has stepped in and provided the means to get this running on your distribution of choice. This post will show how to install it on elementary OS (or any other Ubuntu based distributions).

Visiting this page you can see that there are instructions for different distributions. As elementary OS is derivative of Ubuntu we’ll use that provided repository to install the program. The first step is to open a terminal and run the following command:

 sudo apt-add-repository ppa:plexapp/plexht

This will add the community repository to your system so that you can find and install the program normally. Next you just need to run the update command to re-sync with the repositories and then the install command to actually install the program:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install plexhometheater

Once the command finishes Plex Home Theater should be successfully installed.



Have fun watching your movies!

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Distro hopping: tweaking elementary OS

September 13th, 2015 No comments

So from my last post you’ll know that I ran into a couple of issues that I’ve since been able to address.

Default browser Midori crashes

I don’t know what it is but Midori is very crash happy on my installation. It would even crash on so you know something is wrong. So even though my goal was to use the distribution defaults I simply couldn’t continue that way. Instead I installed Chromium from the software centre and that seems to have worked out well.

Turning remember last place on and off

One thing that wasn’t really an issue but more of something I had to get used to was that most applications in elementary OS seem to be configured to remember where they left off. This includes things like the file manager application which I found a bit weird. Thankfully there is a way, albeit not overly straight forward, to change this behaviour.

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Install dconf-editor by typing (without quotes) “sudo apt-get install dconf-editor”
  3. Run dconf-editor from the terminal or open it via the Applications menu
  4. Expand the tree and uncheck restore tabs: org -> pantheon -> files -> preferences -> restore tabs
    • Alternatively you can run the following command in the terminal: gsettings set org.pantheon.files.preferences restore-tabs false
Changing settings with dconf editor

Changing settings with dconf editor

Add minimize button

Similarly by default the only way to minimize a window in elementary OS is to click the icon in the dock. You can change this behaviour if you’d like by modifying a different setting in dconf editor.

  1. Expand the tree and modify button-layout: org -> pantheon -> desktop -> gala -> appearance -> button-layout
  2. Add “minimize” to where you want the button to appear. For example changing it to “close:minimize,maximize” will add a minimize button to the left of the maximize button on the right hand side of the window.
Now with a minimize button!

Now with a minimize button!


That’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully someone else finds these useful for their own elementary OS installations.

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Distro hopping: first stop elementary OS

September 12th, 2015 No comments

Ah elementary OS, the distribution that looks so clean, so polished and well… so Apple-esque. I’ve never really played around too much with eOS, other than a brief time way back in 2013, but I have been consistently impressed reading about their latest updates so I figured this would be a natural starting point for my distro hopping adventure.

The install was very painless and if you’ve ever installed Ubuntu before you know the drill as not too much differs here. When all is said and done you are treated to your brand new desktop!

A very professional looking desktop

A very professional looking desktop

As you can see it has a nice little dock at the bottom which contains shortcuts to your applications as well as showing all running applications. This is very similar to what you would see on OS X for example.

elementary OS dock

elementary OS dock

OS X dock

OS X dock

The default browser that ships with eOS, and the one I am using to write this post, is Midori. I’ve never really used Midori before but it is a very streamlined, clean cut application with minimal settings. This fits nicely with the design of the rest of the distribution. However I have run into a few instances where the browser just up and quits due to a crash with no explanation of why it is happening which is a little bit frustrating. If I were to stay on eOS long term I think I would instead opt for a more mature browser such as Firefox or Chrome. Update: I had to install a different browser as Midori was crashing non-stop on me. Not sure if it is just my computer or what but I don’t have these problems with any other browser.

Showing the elementary OS website

Showing the elementary OS website

Next up is the e-mail application Geary. I’ve written about Geary before and have found it to be a very pretty and functional e-mail client, although lacking in expandability. However this again fits with what eOS seems to be trying to do by presenting a overall package that simply works out of the box for the majority of users.

Sorry for all of the censoring...

Sorry for all of the censoring…

There is also a simple calendar application which is very similar to the one you would find on OS X – not to keep bringing up the comparison but it does seem the fine people behind eOS set their targets on a certain popular OS. Oddly I couldn’t figure out a way to synchronize this an existing web calendar from Google. It seems to only support local calendars which is kind of a bummer.

Sure is a calendar

Sure is a calendar

Music is the… you guessed it… music management application. I quickly downloaded some tracks from Jamendo so that I could mess around with it. It seems like a pretty basic media player with no real bells or whistles but it gets the job done.

Music... no not the Madonna song

Music… no not the Madonna song

Videos… notice a trend here?… is the video application for eOS. Really not to much to say about it.

Photos similarly provides the photo management functions for eOS.

It shows your photos but doesn't do much else

It shows your photos but doesn’t do much else

Two things that I’m still struggling to get used to with eOS is that most applications seem to save where they were when you close them and that there is no minimize option for the applications. Saving state can be very handy in some scenarios but I’m not sure why the file manager has to remember which folder I was in last for example… however that is a very small complaint.

The lack of minimize is weirder. You can maximize (really a stretch button like, you guessed it, OS X has) and unmaximize but the only way to actually minimize the window to the dock seems to be to click on the application icon in the dock itself. Not a big deal but hardly intuitive (I’m sure there is a keyboard shortcut or something as well).

Overall I’m pretty happy with elementary OS as a distribution in my short time with it so far.

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