Eye Candy in Ubuntu 8.04 – Hardy Heron

I’ve been using Ubuntu since version 5.04 the second ever release and love it. The version numbering is based on the year and the month so 8.04 is 2008/April (see table)


I use it primarily to recycle older PCs usually Pentium III so eye candy and effects provided by Compiz Fusion are not really an option on these systems. But since moving all the computers on my home network to Ubuntu I have been playing around with a few things. I particularly like the Avant-Window-Navigator (AWN) which is a dock app-launcher similar to that in Mac OSX. First you’ll need to find out if your system can handle the effects, Compiz Fusion is already installed in Ubuntu 8.04. Go to System>Preferences>Appearance>Visual Effects. There are three settings try them, if you can’t get normal or extra to work then your system and video card can’t handle the effects so I’d stop here. If you can get normal at least to work great.

Visual Effects

To install AWN open Synaptic  (System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manager) and search for Avant then mark it for installation and install. You will also need to update your Sources List, you can do this by opening a terminal window and typing sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list this will bring up your sources list in a text editor. Then add these lines

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/awn-testing/ubuntu hardy main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/awn-testing/ubuntu hardy main

or in Hardy just go System>Administration>Software Sources click Third Party Sources and add these two to the list, then reload the list. You will find AWN under Applications>Accessories but if you want AWN to run at start up you’ll need to add it to your session. Go to System>Preferences>Sessions click the Start up tab and then +Add, type Avant in the name field and avant-window-navigator in the command


field, AWN should now start automatically the next time you reboot. You can find out about AWN settings etc. in System>Preferences>Awn Manager. There are other dock app-launchers such as Cairo-dock and Kiba-dock, full details of how to install Cairo-dock in Ubuntu can be found here.

Now if the basic Compiz Fusion functions are not enough for you you can install the Simple Compizconfig settings manager (simple-ccsm) via Synaptic as before. This will give you and added choice of Custom on the Appearance-Visual Effects window where you can modify things the way you want. If this is still not enough then you can install the full blown Compiz configuration settings manager via Synaptic, this will give you access to all the possibilities available in Compiz Fusion in Settings>Preferences>Advanced Desktop Effects Settings.

The window manager or theme manager in Gnome is called Metacity and there are lots of themes available for it. If you are playing around with Compiz Fusion then you might also want to have a go with another theme manager or window decorator called Emerald. You can once again install this through Synaptic and have it run at startup by adding it to your session as before with the command emerald –replace, which will ensure the next time you log on Emerald will replace Metacity. The Emerald Theme Manager can be found in System>Preferences. Again there are a huge number of themes available here for Emerald.

I made a couple of screen casts using Compiz Fusion but quite frankly they were rubbish. There are loads of demonstrations on You Tube, here’s a particularly nice one.


Another thing you might want to try is using other Window Managers. Ubuntu ships with Gnome as the window manager and there are other flavours of Ubuntu such as Kubuntu which uses KDE. There are a few others such as Enlightenment, Open Box, Icewm and Fluxbox, do a search in Synaptic for Window Managers. If you install any of these it’s fairly easy to switch between them, just log out of Ubuntu as normal then log in again. Before you type your username and password click on the Options button on the bottom left of the screen. Here you’ll see a number of options, one of which is Select a Session, click this and select the Window Manager you want to try and that’s it…have fun.

WordPress Themes, Plugins and XHTML Compliance

The vast majority of WordPress themes available today claim to be valid XHMTL, and indeed I have no reason to disbelieve any author who makes this statement. Problems seem to arise when you have a particular theme + a range of plugins activated and XHTML validity goes out the window. Now this may be caused by the theme, individual plugins, combinations of plugins or indeed certain theme/plugin combinations, I’m not sure. A recent example on my own site where one theme throws up 5 errors on W3C Validator and with the same plugin combination another theme throws 85 errors, whilst a 3rd has no errors. I won’t name the themes but you can see my point, as both themes claim to be valid XHTML. When a theme generates a small number of errors I will attempt to fix them but in cases where there are large numbers of errors I simply won’t bother.

Essential web tools

Lists of resources are great, but often you just don’t get round to putting them together, so it’s even better when you find someone else has put a list of resources together that cover all the stuff you would have. So for a great set of web development tools pop over to Protolize, a site set up by Tony Yoo’s.

CSS & PHP Essentials

This list is by no means extensive, nor is it in any way comprehensive, it is just a selection of sites which I have found usefull, educational or just plain entertaining. There are many many more but these are a good place to start.
a list apartPHP Builderweb standardszeldmanzen gardenDzine labsCSS Maniamandarinholly css zeldmancss layout creatorhot scriptstutorialsphp editor

web design links

All of the software mentioned on this page is free to download.

HTML Editors:

Nvu is a great WYSIWYGHTML editor. In fact its the same editor as in Mozilla, just stand alone with a few enhancements.
Mozilla This is effectively Netscape after release to the open source community. it comes with a very good web page creation function (composer) which is WYSIWYG
Probably the best free
HTML editor I’ve come across. It has a vast ifferent modes, easy, expert, hardcore and normal. Also has built in FTP upload. Arachnophilia An old favourite of mine, it’s very easy to use and quite simple. However, version 5.x is written in Java and I found it a bit clunky on older PCs, but version 4.x is still available. Continue reading “web design links”

Flash image viewer in a flash

I like Flash, I like what can be achieved in Flash by those who know what they are doing, I’ve tinkered with a few things in Flash but never really had the time to get to grips with it. I tried to get a Flash based image gallery to work but eventually gave up. Now I’ve found a fantastic, simple and free utility called Simpleviewer from Airtight Interactive. You also need eitherPicasa or Porta. I use Picasa all you have to do is place Simpleviewer in the Picasa templates folder, choose a folder of images and save as a web page using the Simpleviewer template, voila! a cool Flash image gallery.