[SOLVED] Compiz text input problem in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 1

If you are using Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha, you may face compiz crashes. To recover from compiz crash, you can do a

compiz --replace

, but sometimes, you are not able to input text any more so doing that is not possible. Then, all you can do is restart the system. However, compiz can be restarted from other terminals. If you encounter a crash and are no longer able to input text, press Ctrl+Alt+F1 and login. Now, type in the following:

DISPLAY=:0.0 compiz --replace

Now, when you press Ctrl+Alt+F7, you will see that compiz has restarted and you can type text again. If some components (like unity) fail to load, bring up the terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and type in

compiz --replace

to load compiz again.

If it does not work, login to the terminal (Ctrl+Alt+F1-F6) and remove the compiz settings directory from your home directory. Here is how you do that:

mv .compiz-1 compiz-old

Now, restart compiz:

DISPLAY=:0.0 compiz --replace

Hope this helps.

[HOWTO] Enable Alt+F2 in Ubuntu Natty 11.04 Narwhal Alpha 1

If you have installed Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Alpha 1, you will notice the new Unity interface and hence no Gnome Panel(s) anymore. Since “Run Application” dialog is a part of gnome-panel, it is not possible to enable the same “Run Application” dialog. If you wish, you can achieve that by running the gnome-panel, but this is not the recommended course of action if you wish to keep running unity.
So, the other way to make it work is to use third party run dialogs from repositories. One of the best run dialog is gmrun. It is available in Ubuntu universe repositories. Open up the terminal (by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T) and type in the following to launch Synaptic Package Manager:

sudo synaptic

Then, go to Settings>Repositories and Enable the Universe repository.

After having done that, close the repository window and synaptic. In the terminal, type in the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install gmrun compizconfig-settings-manager

Now, lets launch compizconfig-settings-manager. Just type in the following in the terminal:


Search for commands and enable it. Click on Commands to set commands and Key Bindings. In Command line 0, type in gmrun and in Key Bindings tab, click on the Disabled button and check Enable to Enable it. Press the Grab key combination button and press Alt+F2. In the dialog that pops up, click “Disable Run Applications”.

If all goes well, you can now press Alt+F2 and a “Run Program” dialog will pop up. You can use tab to complete fields and press Ctrl+R to search older run entries.

Hope this helps.

Compiz in November 27 daily build of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

I just used zsync to download the latest daily build of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. It features Ubuntu Unity Plugin for Compiz among other changes.

Compiz version is 0.9.2 and it features several plugins by default for functionality and effects. However, extra plugins are not available in current repository (0.8.6 version is available, which breaks 0.9.2)

Clicking the Workspace Switcher icon on Unity brings up Expo interface and it is easy to switch to another workspace and move windows between workspaces.

You can enable autohide in Unity by installing compizconfig-settings-manager:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

After it is installed, you can launch it by pressing Alt+F2 to bring up the Run Application Dialog and then typing in ccsm.

The hidden unity dock can be brought back by putting mouse over the Ubuntu icon in the top left corner.

It also features a global menu (indicator-appmenu) which removes the menu bar from the applications and puts it up on the top panel. The menu shown is the menu of the application in focus. This feature is similar to Mac OS X. However, only GTK Applications are supported currently. This means, Openoffice and Firefox are not supported till date.

The current interface lacks an easy way to launch applications (it has to be done via Alt+F2 if compiz is enabled), compiz crashes a lot, sometimes when opening up Appearance Preferences, sometimes when changing compiz settings and sometimes just while doing something arbitrary.

Currently compiz in Natty is far from being perfect, but this is quite some change considering the fact that even the final relase is scheduled in April 28, 2011. The first alpha however, should arrive shortly and hope we see something better.

[SOLVED] Alt+F2 (Run Application dialog) stopped working

UPDATE: I figured the problem was due to messed up compiz settings. Disabling and enabling compiz (Right Click on Desktop>Change Desktop Background>Visual Effects None and then again to Normal or Extra) fixed it.
The older post follows.

I am using Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat 32bit. After a few updates and package changes, the run application dialog mysteriously stopped working. I had to do a little compiz workaround to make it work. To start, install Openbox for the tool “gnome-panel-control “. Use Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager or just the command line:

sudo apt-get install openbox

Once it is installed, run dialog can be brought up by running:

gnome-panel-control --run-dialog

Now, lets associate this with Alt+F2 with the help of Compiz Config Settings Manager(CCSM). To do so, CCSM must be installed:

 sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Then, just open it: System>Preferences>CompizConfig Settings Manager. Then enable “Commands” plugin and in the plugin prefernces, under “Command” tab, enter the following in any Command Line X (where X =0, 1, 2 …) as shown below:

gnome-panel-control --run-dialog

Now, goto the “Keybindings” tab and then in the respective “Run Command X”, click the “Disabled” button and “Enable” it. Then, click “Grab Key Combination” button and press Alt+F2. Close it and now Alt+F2 should work normally.

Hope this helps.

Unity shell to be the default user interface for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

Mark Shuttleworth, at the Ubuntu Developer Summit held on October 25th 2010, has announced that the next version of Ubuntu i.e. Natty Narwhal, which is scheduled to be released in April 2011, will feature Unity Shell as the default interface. The Unity Shell was introduced in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Netbook Edition.

Additionally, since Mutter has been disappointing, they have decided to change the Window manager to Compiz in Unity interface for Natty. Shuttleworth also emphasized on commitment to use Zeitgeist, which was declared earlier to be a part of Gnome 3 but later rejected.

Shuttleworth said that this change is the most significant change ever for Ubuntu. With control button moved to the left and several small modifications to the default Gnome interface, Ubuntu seemed to part away from the default Gnome interface. This change will help it even more. However, Shuttleworth has emphasized that Ubuntu is still committed to Gnome and these changes will encourage innovation and benefit the Gnome ecosystem.

Since Gnome Shell is still not ready for prime time and Gnome 3 is not coming anytime soon, this change may be refreshing for many Ubuntu users. But Ubuntu can also lose users that are committed to Gnome in the long run. Also, since people resist change, they may want to change the look and feel back to the original Gnome and continue to use Ubuntu. However, many users may move to other distros which use Gnome as is and are contributing in the development of Gnome Shell instead.

Personally, I think this change was required. The Gnome 2.x interface is too old and many users already use docks like Avant Window Navigator or Docky and remove the bottom panel anyways. If Gnome 3 would have made it by now, there would be not much reasons to choose Unity over Gnome 3. However, that is not the case and Unity will provide a visual and usability refresh for those who were bored with similar look and feel. Also, the Compiz Project, which is one of the wonderful things that have happened to Desktop Linux will continue living with the endorsement of Ubuntu.

There will be disappointed people who will speak against the change. But we have always opposed change and will continue to do so. Computerizing your workplace, upgrading from Windows 9x to NT or moving from Windows to Linux, all of these are/were not easy but once it is done, it feels way better. As a Linux user, I am all for positive changes, diversity and innovation.

[HOWTO] Disable conky minimization on Show Desktop

If you have conky installed, then by default when you click on Show Desktop icon on your panel, conky also gets minimized. You can bring it back by clicking it again, but that does not work if you open another window or selectively maximize/restore a window(s). Also, when you click on the Desktop after activating scale, then conky is lost. In both of these cases, the conky process keeps running, however it cannot be brought back. You must terminate it and run conky again.

However, if you just disable “Hide Skip Taskbar Windows” under General Settings in Compiz-config-settings-manager (ccsm), then conky will not be minimized if you press Show Desktop icon and it will not get lost if you click the Desktop after scale plugin is activated.

Hope this helps.