Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to install Latex typesetting package in Ubuntu 14.04 / Debian Jessie

Latex is the probably the best typesetting package available. Though the learning curve is high, the benefits of using Latex outweighs several other programs. First of all its free, available on all platforms. The way it handles whitespaces is logical. There are lots of graphical backends for actually typing and creating Latex documents.

Latex is packaged as texlive packages for Ubuntu and Debian.

The barebone packages used for installing and using Latex in Ubuntu/Debian systems are: texlive-latex-base, texlive-latex-extra, texlive-fonts-recommended (for special font packages such as marvosym.sty etc)

sudo apt-get install texlive-latex-base texlive-latex-extra texlive-fonts-recommended

For creating documents you need can also install a good Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Latex. The options are lots such as Texmaker, Texworks and Kile. My personal favourite is Texworks for its simplicity and lightweightedness. Kile is also a very good Latex editor for KDE.

sudo apt-get install texworks

If you want to use beamer for presentations:

sudo apt-get install latex-beamer

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How to install Adobe flashplayer from .tar.gz from adobe website

Though Adobe flash is getting less and less popular with the rise of HTML5 for online video content, it is still an integral part of the web. Adobe pushes security updates to its 11.2.202.XXX version of flashplayer even though it has pledged not to update it to newer version numbers.

Popular Linux distros offer easy ways to install and update the non-free Adobe flash plugin. For example Ubuntu lets you install Flash through a package called 'flashplugin-installer'. Similarly Linux Mint offers 'mint-flashplugin'. The problem with these install scripts is that they don't work well when you are behind a company or university's proxy settings (sometimes even after you set your proxy environment according to this blog). The way to setup proxy to your wget is given here and here. But even after trying those, my mintupdate-flash was not able to fetch the latest flash though it informed me of an update that is available (on my Linuxmint Debian Edition install).

So I had to resort to installing it manually by downloading the binary from Adobe's website. The method I followed was pretty much based on this thread as per user IgnitE's post. This blogpost also tells us how to install flashplayer for Debian based distros.

I'll summarize what I did to install Adobe flashplayer from Adobe's website and it works for an update as well as a fresh install of flashplayer from Adobe directly.

First go to Abode flash download page, choose the updated version as .tar.gz version. Make sure you choose the 64-bit version or 32-bit version according to the Linux installation you have. The download usually goes to the Downloads folder in your home directory(~).

Make a directory under ~/Downloads to place the untarred files

mkdir adobeflash

Untar the contents into it

tar -xzf install_flash_player_11_linux*.tar.gz -C adobeflash/

Change to the directory where the files are untarred

cd adobeflash

Now there would be: /usr, and readme.txt files in the untarred folder. We have to copy the /usr and to the appropriate directories for the install process.


sudo cp -r usr/* /usr

If you are in Debian or Ubuntu prior to 14.04 i.e., 13.10 and below follow the below command (Yes, it works for both Firefox and Iceweasel).

sudo cp /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/

IF you are in Ubuntu 14.04 or above, then use the following command

sudo cp /usr/lib/firefox/browser/plugins

Restart the browser and you have the latest flash installed, check it by right clicking flash content or by clicking here.

Apart from this you can get the Google updated Pepper flash by installing Google Chrome. But for now, I would prefer to use the flashplugin provided by Adobe in Firefox and Chromium.

PS.: The problem of mintupdate for flash was not due to wget proxy problem, but due to the fact that linux mint software repository mirror has been clogged due to heavy usage. When I changed the software update repositories from the mint update manager (Software updates - Edit - Preferences - Update sources; change the mirrors to something else than the default) and refreshed the cache, I was able to install mintflash update properly even under my proxy settings. So it is better to check your repo mirrors before trying the method mentioned above. Otherwise the update manager would still be showing an update unless you unistall the mint-flashplugin package.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to create new users in Ubuntu/ Debian and delete them

Creating new users is the probably the most basic task in a linux system. Though there are lot of forum posts which help you in this, I am going to post once again for someone who might benefit from it.

For this posting, we shall call this new user as 'tedy'. So be sure to substitute this user with your username.

To create a new user:

sudo useradd -m tedy

adding -m flag will create a home directory for 'tedy'  as well.

When the user is created there is no password for him/her

So, issue the following command to create a password for the new user 'tedy'

sudo passwd tedy

Now if you want 'tedy' to be an administrator or superuser or root you have to add him to the group "sudo", for this:

sudo adduser tedy sudo

Now we have to specify which shell tedy should use, we specify that in case your distro cannot map it directly

sudo chsh -s /bin/bash tedy

That's it you have created a brand new user account with superuser powers

The simplest way of removing our new user 'tedy' involves two commands

sudo userdel tedy

then remove his home totally

sudo rm -r /home/tedy

You might need to delete or add new users to test a new gui settings of a beta distribution which gets updated daily.

The default user created in Ubuntu will be a part of several groups such as adm, cdrom, lpadmin etc so we need to add our new user tedy to those groups in case he has to act as the same user created by Ubuntu by default during install.

sudo usermod -a -G adm,cdrom,lpadmin,sudo,sambashare,dip,plugdev tedy

Friday, December 28, 2012

Installing Samba and sharing files within a home or office network

There are innumerable tutorials to explain sharing a folder, a partition or a disk drive using samba. Here's one more, it doesn't hurt, on the contrary it may help someone.

The best way to use old laptops and desktops is by installing a Linux distro and experimenting with it as a file server. After you install the OS and later ssh, samba, remote desktop, apache etc., you can add it to the network and do all the rest with another computer through remote desktop or ssh.

I used Linux Mint 14, Nadia, which is superb, in terms of quality, functionality, ease and aesthetics. In my scenario, I have mounted the storage partition as /D in my Linux Mint box. For this tutorial, we are going to use an ordinary user named "john" who's password will be needed to login to the samba network.

I am going to tell you how to install samba and share your folder step by step:

1) Install samba

sudo apt-get install samba

2) Stop samba in case it is running

sudo /etc/init.d/samba stop

3) Backup your default samba config file smb.conf (this step is optional)

sudo mv /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.backup

4) Under home or any location create a new smb.conf using, vi, nano, emacs, gedit, or kate

the contents looks like this:

path = /D
available = yes
valid users = john
read only = no
browsable = yes
public = yes
writable = yes


i) What does [test] mean ? Your shared folder will be called test in the network, but you can use any name as you like

ii) What is /D? It is the path is the path to the folder you want to share e.g if you want to share a newdirectory in home, it would be /home/john/newdirectory
In my case, I mounted the NTFS D partition (of windows) as /D so I used it.

iii) Who is john? john is a user whose credentials will be needed to login to the shared folder. john can be replaced by any name you want to use.

Save the smb.conf file.

5) Copy your created smb.conf to its right workplace

sudo cp smb.conf /etc/samba

6) Change permissions of the shared folder in case it does not have read-write permission to all users
sudo chmod 0777 /D

7) Add a user with access rights to the samba share

Create user john without a home (i.e., /home/john) using /bin/true feature

sudo useradd -s /bin/true john

Create password for john (optional), if you don't want to use john as normal user login, you can skip this step

sudo passwd john

8) Make sure you add john to group plugdev

sudo usermod -a -G plugdev john

9) Create a samba password same as above (same as login password) to avoid confusion

sudo smbpasswd -a john

9) Test the parameters

sudo testparm

10) Restart samba

sudo restart smbd

VoilĂ  samba

Check your folder in your Linux (under network) or windows network (under Workgroup). Enter username john and password, now your old computer is a silent new file server.

To stop sharing and removing samba:

1) Stop samba

sudo stop smbd

2) Delete user

sudo userdel -r john


sudo apt-get remove samba --purge

PS: I personally feel running a computer as a server continuously for trivial functions is a huge waste of power. So shut down your "server" whenever you won't use it for extended periods of time. Everytime you start the computer, samba will come alive and serve your folders and files.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ubuntu Precise Pangolin - Another KDE user tastes Unity

The new Ubuntu LTS release looming in the horizon tempted me to try it out as a candidate for a my next Linux OS. Here's what I think.

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is pretty stable for its current status as beta. The linux kernel at version 3.2.0-20 feels good and seems to support wider range of hardware. The AMD Turion CPU seemed to be reasonably cool while idle. But still Linux has a long way to go in terms of prolonging battery usage. All applications are up to date at least to the latest stable versions which is the best thing in Ubuntu.

Now jumping into the hot topic of opining about Unity, I have mixed feelings. I have migrated from my favourite KDE and experimenting with Unity here. To me Gnome is as strange as is Unity. So I am unlike any long term Gnome follower. Unity is stable enough at this stage than in Ubuntu 10.10 where it froze and was unusable in my laptop configuration. The best thing I liked is the use of the Windows button which triggers the HUD (Heads up display / launcher) and you can open up any program without the hassle of clicking various menus. This way of launching programs is a definite plus for CLI savvy users but might not impress everyone. Unity has simplified the use of menus significantly and in one way claimed more desktop space (I have set the left menu bar to autohide). Moreover there is only only top panel instead of two in Gnome 2.

Now coming to the things I don't like about Unity. I can't figure out why have they designed the launch bar to be on the left side of the screen. Leave aside usability, I have to say its huge and its ugly. I am not closed to change, but change should be beautiful. The dock at the bottom in MacOS X simply feels much more aesthetic.

The second major issue is again in the dock (left bar). All minimized windows go back to the left bar along with the launch icons. Its a new thing and all users must to get used to it. Instead of clicking the minimized programs in the bottom task bar, users have to seek their minimized programs stacked in the left dock. This is the major hurdle that many users face and its the same which makes people hate Unity. We are so used to MS "Windows" style operation that this is a big hurdle in usability. Again the buttons on the left is a hurdle from my point of view.

Every new gadget will have a new interface and people have to learn to use it. But computers to most of us is not a new gadget. If Ubuntu is targeting virgin computer users with Unity, then it might be a different thing, but not the general population who are used to computers since the age of Windows 95. Even for new computer adopters the usability of Unity is should be tested and can be improved.

I would say Unity is a bold move on Canonical's part but they have to be very careful to lure users not shun them away. As I see, they are not quite there in luring users. As many bloggers and columnists have pointed out, its hard for me to see where Ubuntu will be in another five years. They are betting everything in innovation which particularly is not so attractive as MacOS would have made.

But still Precise Pangolin will be a wonderful release and will form a great basis for the thousands Ubuntu based remixes to follow. So the greatness of Canonical's job is that despite Unity, their efforts will still play a major role in the Linux world.

My message to Canonical is, I like your ideas about innovation, but can you figure out a way to create a better dock.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Setting up proxy in Kubuntu

I have been forced to be away from Linux in my work place due to network proxy (with user authentication) in my Institution. The setup was difficult and even though done, it didn't work well with all the functionality, like apt-get, console ssh-es and wget-s etc. I had to use Windows for a while, but my heart felt something missing. That's due to my long time relationship with GNU/Linux. I love KDE and I feel not at home with Gnome. Though setting up proxy in GUI under Ubuntu provides it system wide upto to the console (konsole, terminal), it was not the case in Kubuntu. In Kubuntu, I could setup the proxy from the KDE control centre, but it provides the proxy info to GUI apps like Firefox where I am required to enter my username and pw with a pop-up. But there is a serious bug in KDE, that other KDE apps report a proxy authentication failure error even if I provided the right information. For e.g., Rekonq or Konqueror, would ask for proxy authentication the first time when I open a first page, it would open up that page. But, in the next time, if I provide the same proxy authentication, it would mention there is an authentication failure. I have had this problem several times in all KDE distros I have tried and its KDE bug that needs to fixed.

In frustration I tried several distros: Simply Mepis, Ubuntu and OpenSuSE 12.1. etc. I hate Gnome and now you can imagine the situation with Unity. Simply Mepis worked fine in resolving my proxy issues using the given Mepis control centre, but for some reason it stopped working after a while and it also did not allow reverting back to Kdenetwork manager. Opensuse, though I have I a high regard for that distro, did not work. Even in a proxyless environment in my home, its clunky YAST2 could not fetch the update repos. I couldn't figure out why? I have to say Opensuse's software repo refreshing (everytime which is default) is slow and patience testing. Debian beats OpenSuse infinite times in this issue. Its easier to setup the repos and the package info fetching is fast. Finally I returned to my good old friend Kubuntu. But I didn't know how to setup proxy for the console.

export http_proxy=""

did not work:

Finally (Hurray) with the help of our uni's sysadmin, I figured out where the proxy environment is set in Ubuntu- /etc/environment (we grep -ed /etc * for "http_proxy" and found out where it is located.)

So to setup proxy in Kubuntu in CLI, as a superuser (sudo), edit /etc/environment file

append the following lines at the end*:


*replace "" with your work/uni's proxy server name,replace "80XX" with your work/uni's proxy port number.

Save it and reboot your system. You can get internet in your konsole and you can ssh, ping or wget to any computer in the web.

Now I am back at work with my favourite KDE :)

Additional how-t0 :

To setup apt-get to your proxy environment, create a apt.conf file in your /etc/apt/ folder and specify the proxy like this. As a su or sudoer edit apt.conf file (create one if there isn't)

Acquire::http::Proxy "";

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

PCLinuxOS 2010 mini review

The much awaited PCLinux OS 2010 was released in beta yesterday. Time for another celebration and another install test. PCLinux OS (PCLOS) is all I wanted, a stable KDE distro with the latest KDE 4.4.1 and Firefox 3.6. I spared no time and tried the beta on my Virtualbox setup.

Look & Feel

The heavily modified KDE theme strongly personifies PCLOS. But most of its elements and layout remind of its mother Mandrake (now Mandriva). The theme is no stranger to all of us who have tried/used PCLOS. The bluish theme is inviting and soothing and at the same time characteristic of a unique distro. The selling points of the distro, the PCLOS control centre, synaptic package manager and the KDE control centre are neatly displayed on the "quicklaunch" bar. The menu is old KDE style instead of the kickoff menu which I prefer. The system settings are also as expandable trees (just like KDE3) instead of icons which is the norm in many other distros.

Applications and Multimedia

The choice of applications is very apt in my point of view. For example, Imagemagick is installed by default in the graphics category , DVD slideshow maker is installed in video, and system cleaner and unncessary file cleaner are installed in file tools category. These are programs which one does not use often but they are very important for productivity and maintaining the system. The default install took around 2.6 gb. The full set of KDE games are installed by default. Interestingly, Wally the desktop wallpaper changer is there. As if to mock Ubuntu's decision to drop it from the default install, Gimp is installed by default in PCLOS. Obviously, due to space constraints Openoffice is not installed by default but can be easily installed by using a shortcut from the menu.

As expected flash worked out of the box (though its a version older than in Adobe's site). Firefox played Apple trailers with mplayer plugin. In many distros just installing the right plugin does not play Apple trailer movies, you have to tweak firefox user agent to let Apple play its movie trailers on your computer. Amarok ( is the default music player and Dragon handles all video files.


If you are looking for a Linux distro specialized for the common everyday desktop computer then PCLOS is the number one choice. Like the much advertised MacOSX, PCLOS is ready to do every fun stuff, like watch online videos, download files using torrents, do some photo editing make DVD slideshows etc., right after install. PCLOS 2010 is the first release featuring KDE 4 as default desktop. Despite using KDE 4, the PCLOS architects have managed to maintain the original and unique style of this great distro. Though KDE4 series is radically different from KDE 3, an average Joe user who installs PCLOS 2010 wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I think this would greatly help in KDE 4 adoption among more and more people. I am looking forward for the final release to install on my ASUS Nova lite mini desktop at home which is currently running PCLOS 2009.