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Thread: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

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    GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    [EDIT 7 Feb 2012: I notice that some of the detail content below is getting a bit out-of-date now.
    Since I have dropped out of mainstream Unity & Gnome to play with Lubuntu, I am not in a position to keep track of GUI Tips & Needs for the popular desktops.
    So I guess this thread may become somewhat frozen, unless anybody else wants to take over...]


    OK & firstly, I really do fully understand that Terminal is a wonderfully powerful, flexible & efficient interface for young, fit, regular, proficient users, really I do!
    I am not trying to eliminate it.
    I am not trying to suggest that anybody who likes it should consider stopping.
    I know I could get lynched for even thinking that sort of thing here!

    None the less, many casual users, much of the time, find Terminal daunting, obscure, demanding, dangerous and generally a step back to the dark ages of DOS after years of lazy Mac or Windows mouse clicking.

    My personal view is that the undoubted efficiency, in the rare case when I happen to know exactly the right short command & type it right first time (& I do that voluntarily sometimes for stuff I need regularly) is completely offset by the 99% of cases when I have to search for the right complicated command, cross check that it really will do what I want in my particular circumstance, then either type it meticulously & cross-check my input, or look up a list & copy/paste it.
    By that time I could usually have clicked my way to where I want to get with a good GUI.
    Put it down to age, if you like.
    I also happen to have a deep-rooted conviction that any user interface which requires substantial, error-free keyboard input is fundamentally a bad interface, especially for the general public.
    A keyboard is quite suitable for writing, because reading is error-tolerant. Computer OSs are not.
    As one illustration, I never, ever, try to input a website address directly as “http://etcetcetc.org/nanana” but I always Google something like “etcetc” & click on the best offering.
    I also have a big bank of well-sorted bookmarks, so most of the time I can get to a regular site in 2 clicks anyway.
    So, basically, I prefer GUI methods wherever possible.

    Let me repeat, I am not trying to persuade anybody to hate Terminal.

    What I WOULD like to do, is to help anybody who, like me, prefers the GUI way of doing things, to be able to find the many existing tools, tips & methods as easily as possible.
    Reading all the available Ubunu/Linux guides doesn’t seem to do this (or maybe I have not found the right guide yet - there is always one more stone to unturn…).
    As a later step, it might be feasible to push for development of suitable GUI tools for some tasks which enough users ask for.

    A probable side effect would be that less newbies would give up on Linux, so the Linux community would grow quicker, so it would have more clout, so manufacturers would take more account of it, and so on…
    We need this.

    Although I have had these general feelings for a very long time, what prompts me to publish this post now is some serendipitous experiences I just had on this forum.
    1. Looking for a simple way to act as root when I need to, somebody mentioned I could:
    Go into Synaptic and install the package nautilus-gksu. Log out, and log back in again. Now whenever you right-click a file or folder, you will have the option to "Open as Administrator".
    Man, this is heaven !

    2. Wanting to get my boot process as I like it (Default to XP for the family, 3-second screen for selecting Ubuntu for me, limit displayed kernels to current & previous without having to wipe some out manually after every update, show scripts, etc) I had been having to revise boot/grub/menu.lst file with root permission & with potentially disastrous consequences at the slip of a fingertip. I did get all that to work, but not first time, and the several times when booting failed completely were heart-stoppers!
    Then I discovered I could go into Synaptic and install the package startupmanager. Now I can make all the above adjustments in GUI, simply, instantly and, above all, safely. I don’t need to remember anything about becoming root, locating menu.lst, splash, quiet, #,##,### etc etc. I just click the options I want from those on offer, and change them as often as I want.
    Heaven again!

    So how to proceed?

    I invite any GUI enthusiasts to contribute to this thread, with all the available GUI tools, tips & methods they have found useful.
    Also with any tasks they particularly would like to find GUI methods for.
    Beyond that, we would have to see how to get the accumulated information tidied up & kept obviously available somewhere, but we are not there yet!

    To start the ball rolling, here are a few suggestions:
    I am NOT an expert, so some of what I say below may be rubbish. Use at your own risk.
    Constructive correction is welcome!

    If you need trouble-shooting or help on any particular item, it would probably be better not to use this thread, thanks.

    1. GUI Tool: Synaptic Package Manager (I really suppose everybody knows this one!)
    How to see all (well most) available packages you can add to Ubuntu, and install them in a couple of clicks, with all dependencies & conflicts looked after automatically.
    Uninstall & reinstall just as easily.
    Wonderful!
    Find it at: System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager.

    2. GUI Tip: Rapid scrolling in Synaptic Package Manager
    It is a long, delicate & frustrating business in Synaptic, to try to scroll to a particular package you know the name of, because there are 25000 packages in the list.
    The wheel is too slow & the scroll bar too fast...
    Instead: click on any item in the list, then start typing the name of your package
    As soon as you enter, say "s", it takes you to the top of the "s" items.
    If you then enter "c" you get to the top of the "sc" items.
    If you then enter "r" you get to the "scr" items.
    Etc.
    2 or 3 letters are usually enough to get within easy wheel-scrolling distance.

    3. GUI Tool: nautilus-gksu
    Allows you to open & modify files with root priviledges by a simple right-click on the file.
    Find it in Synaptic.

    4. GUI Tool: startupmanager [EDIT Feb 2012 - Startup Manager no longer developed - Try Grub Customizer]
    Get your boot process exactly how you want it.
    Select which OS is default.
    Adjust timeout on selection screen.
    Decide if you want scripts or not.
    Keep as many or as few kernels as you want.
    Change it as often as you want.
    Find it in Synaptic.

    5. GUI Tip: Bookmarks in file sytem
    Instant access to any folder you regularly use, without having to drill down to it – even in another OS zone.
    Find it at:
    To set bookmark – navigate to folder using File browser, then Bookmarks > Add Bookmark.
    To use bookmarks – Places > Bookmarks

    6. GUI Tip: middle click copy/paste
    If Control+C > Control+V is too much for you, try this (once you've tried it, you won't go back) :
    Select what you want to copy.
    Move cursor to where you want to paste.
    Middle click – that's all!
    Don't tell anybody, but it even works in Terminal, where you previously had to remember to use Control+Shift+V or something like that.
    There are some limitations. Google for more details.
    You can even do this in Windows, using DragKing v1.3 (see post #27).

    7. GUI Tool: Ping
    Helps in checking networks.
    Find it at: System > Administration > Network Tools > Ping

    8. GUI Tool: Firefox Add-on: Scrapbook

    Bookmarks save the address, but using them brings you to the latest updated page, or maybe nothing if the page has moved on.
    Scrapbook allows you to save the page exactly as it is now, then look at it whenever you like as a Firefox page.
    Find it in Synaptic.

    9. GUI Tool: Firefox Add-on: ScreenGrab!
    Make screenshots of any rectangular portion of any page in Firefox.
    Save as .png image.
    Note, you choose Screengrab! first, then make your rectangular selection afterwards – somewhat counter-intuitive!
    Find it at: Firefox > Tools > Add-ons > Get Add-ons > “Screengrab!” > Enter > Add to Firefox

    10. GUI Tool: sbackup
    Easily backs up what I suppose are a good selection of important files to your Ext HD (or whatever).
    Numerous options.
    Can restore individual documents or whole directories, but could be tedious from incremental backups...
    I just do a weekly full backup with sbackup & use Grsync for frequent backups of /home but experts may disagree!
    Find it in Synaptic.

    11.GUI Tool: Grsync
    Easily backs up whatever you want to your ExtHD.
    Maintains a single synchronised copy of files so it's easy to find any documents in their latest state.
    Personally, I use this for my /home directory & sbackup for the wierd stuff, but experts may suggest better strategies!
    Find it in Synaptic.

    12.GUI Tip: Put ikons on the panel (top of screen) for instant access to whatever you want.
    Like Terminal (!), Screenshot, Grsync, Synaptic, OOo Word Processor, Tomboy notes.....
    Find it, for example: Applications > Accessories > Calculator > Right click on ikon > Add this launcher to panel.
    Or: right click on panel > Add to panel > then follow options



    ..................................

    Missing GUI items - What would I like to find GUI tools/methods/tips for?

    a. MD5 checksum generation & checking. SOLVED see item 22
    Like the simple md5.exe I have added in XP.

    b. More obvious rapid scrolling in Synaptic Package Manager (& others).
    Without needing to know/remember to click on some odd folder first.

    c. Real-time Wi-Fi signal strength indicator/meter
    Why do I have to optimise my aerial position in XP (with signal strength gauge) instead of in Ubuntu?

    d. Setting-up & fault-finding in Networking & Wi-Fi
    I suppose that is a big one – I am not holding my breath!

    Oh & finally, PLEASE do not use this thread to try to convince me that I should learn to love Terminal because it is great & fast & efficient & smart & powerful &…
    I know all that, as I said at the beginning.
    By all means, start your own thread on that subject if you want to!

    Thanks!

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Edit: following items pulled up to first post from subsequent posts.
    Thanks to those contributors!

    13.GUI Tip: Put icon on the panel for instant navigation as root, so you can modify files with root permissions (post#3 & 4 Thanks meindian523)
    Right click on panel.
    Add to Panel > Custom Application Launcher > Add
    Name "root" or whatever you want
    Command "gksudo nautilus"
    "OK"
    Should provide a new icon on panel.
    Click icon.
    Insert your own password (not root password).
    Should open navigation window "root – file browser"

    14. GUI Tool: gnome-do (post#5 Thanks ByteJuggler)
    Looks like you can do anything in a couple of clicks!
    Not tried it yet.
    See http://do.davebsd.com/ and watch some of the screencasts!
    Find it in Synaptic.

    15. GUI Tool: gnome-schedule - for for configuring a users' cron (automatic jobs) (post#15 Thanks Killerkiwi)
    Find it in Synaptic.

    16. GUI Tool: rapache - for configuring apache (post#15 Thanks Killerkiwi)
    Find it at: https://edge.launchpad.net/rapache

    17. GUI Tool: nautilus-actions - add context menu items to nautilus (post#15 Thanks Killerkiwi)
    Find it in Synaptic.

    18. GUI Tool: quicksynergy - set up a synergy keyboard / mouse connection (post#15 Thanks Killerkiwi)
    Find it in Synaptic.

    19. GUI Tool: system-config-samba - creating, modifying, and deleting samba shares and users. (post#19 Thanks mgmiller)
    Find it in Synaptic.

    20. GUI Tool: pysdm - create mount points for drives (post#19 Thanks mgmiller)
    Find it in Synaptic.

    21. GUI Tool: fusion-icon - easily switch between metacity, compiz and beryl (if it's installed) and also quickly get to the settings dialogs for everything (post#19 Thanks mgmiller)
    Find it in Synaptic.
    Run it from Applications > System tools > Compiz Fusion Icon
    It will put an icon in the top panel, right click it see choices.

    22. GUI Tool: Make md5 - generate md5 checksums by right-click on file (post#24 Thanks itssaurav2004)
    Find it at: http://g-scripts.sourceforge.net/cat-fileproc.php > Make_md5
    See post#26 for details

    23. GUI Tips: setting up your sound so you never need to use a terminal (post#33 Thanks Markbuntu)
    Find it at: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=843012

    24. GUI Tool: Remastersys – easily make a live CD/DVD of your own complete Ubuntu set-up (Thanks newbee70)
    You can then install it on any other PC &/or keep it as a backup with all your data & settings.
    Find information: http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/remastersys.html
    That is a GUI tutorial which includes how to add the Software Source to Synaptic.

    25. GUI Tips: listing and removing orphaned packages (post #35 thanks mgmiller)
    Best see that post for details.

    26. GUI Tools: Disk-Manager & PySDM & MountManager - file system configuration, mounting, shares, etc without fstab intervention (posts #36 & #37 Thanks KillerKiwi)
    Find them in Synaptic
    Run them from System > Administartion > XXXX
    Warning: Probably not for total noobies?
    See links in posts #36 & #37 for more info.

    e. GUI Need: Something to rename (label) USB drives & other partitions - more simply that using GParted.
    Windows Explorer does it by: Right Click > Rename > XXXX
    That is a good benchmark!
    [EDIT Feb 2012: Accessories > Disk Utility > Click on Drive > Unmount Volume > Edit File System Label]

    27. GUI Tools: Ubuntu Tweak - for tweaking system settings and adding items quickly. (post#40 thanks Twitch6000)
    http://ubuntu-tweak.com/

    28. GUI Tools: Control Center - quick GUI access to just about everything. (post#40 thanks Twitch6000)
    Find it in: System > Control Center
    Sorry, I don't remember if it's there initially or if you need to put it there...

    29. GUI Tips: GIMP - Screenshots, Missing Toolbox menu & How to minimize GIMP Toolbox window. (post#41)

    30. GUI Tools: Shutter (aka Gscrot) - very flexible screenshot tool with great edit facility (post #43 thanks jolx).
    Not for noobies due to installation via PPA & no help yet.

    31. GUI Tips: GUI Launcher Icons - change, find, make your own... (post #44)

    f. GUI Need: Control over frequency & timing of disk checks at start-up. (post #55)

    g. GUI Need: For Setting System-Wide or Printer-Wide Default Papersize. ((post #56)
    Last edited by 2CV67; February 15th, 2012 at 06:15 PM. Reason: Modified item e
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  2. #2
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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    I was wondering how to copy text in liferea, and that nautilus-gksu is really useful.
    Thanks!

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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    Correspondingly,you could input gksudo nautilus and everything would be well with the world.Please move to Recurring Discussions.

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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    Quote Originally Posted by meindian523 View Post
    Correspondingly,you could input gksudo nautilus and everything would be well with the world.
    Yes, if you can remember it's gksudo nautilus and not sudogknautilus or any of the other millions of combinations possible, and then type it right first time, which I can't...
    Of course you can also keep a list of that stuff ready for copy-pasting (I do...) but that is not the way I want my Ubuntu.
    I am not suggesting you do anything different, just allow me (& anybody else) to try to do what we want.

    Profiting from meindian523's contribution, for anybody who would like to be able to navigate as root in one click, then you could try adding a root-file-browser icon as follows (you don't have to!).

    13.GUI Tip: Put icon on the panel for instant navigation as root,so you can modify files with root permissions
    Right click on panel.
    Select "Add to Panel" "Custom Application Launcher" "Add"
    Name "root" or whatever you want
    Command "gksudo nautilus"
    "OK"
    Should provide a new icon on panel.
    Click icon.
    Insert your own password (not root password).
    Should open navigation window "root – file browser"

    Other ideas (for improving the GUI experience, I mean)?
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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    As somewhat of a compromise between a "blind" command prompt and the confines of a pre-canned GUI with buttons etc, I suggest you try "gnome-do". It's like GUI versoin of "command-line completion" on steroids. Very very useful/fast especially once you're used to it. A bit like your google analogy - type a few letters or a shortcut acronym for something and Gnome-do will suggest the most appropriate completion/action, but there's a lot more to it than just that. See here and watch some of the screencasts!
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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    I've always thought that requiring Ubuntu users to use the terminal for certain tasks was against the Ubuntu philosophy, which says:
    Every computer user should be able to use their software in the language of their choice.
    Every computer user should be given every opportunity to use software, even if they work under a disability.
    How can you expect someone who only speaks Arabic to use the terminal? They'll have to learn a new keyboard layout just to use it!
    BTW, does this thread really belong in Absolute Beginner Talk?

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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    Quote Originally Posted by Flimm View Post
    I've always thought that requiring Ubuntu users to use the terminal for certain tasks was against the Ubuntu philosophy, which says:

    How can you expect someone who only speaks Arabic to use the terminal? They'll have to learn a new keyboard layout just to use it!
    BTW, does this thread really belong in Absolute Beginner Talk?
    I don't know about another languages, but I installed ubuntu (at least once) in my language (romanian) and the name of the folders (viewed in the CLI) (and many applications and some help pages) were translated from english, and quite correct too. And anybody can contribute to translations into his/her own language, or even other's, on launchpad, so he or she can help. But alas, the translations were not complete, but for sure were much better than those found on Microsoft Windows and Office (and even there, the translations are not complete).

    And the name of commands, for sure, were the same as in english, but I think this is the way to be.

    And this kind of questions, indeed, only an absolute beginner can ask. And ubuntu does not require use of terminal, but it is used on posts as it is very difficult to understand so many languages as are spoken on Earth, and english is usually common known, and ubuntu is developped in english mainly, and english is the language most used over the internet. How so many people could understand each other if we were speaking only in our languages (one chinese, one french, one hindi, one swahili, and so on)? And of course, one can use GUI for the same commands in the CLI, if so desires.
    Last edited by Liviu-Theodor; September 8th, 2008 at 12:11 PM.
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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    Quote Originally Posted by Flimm View Post
    BTW, does this thread really belong in Absolute Beginner Talk?
    Thanks for your comments.

    I put it in Absolute Beginner Talk mainly because it is absolute beginners who most often have difficulty with Terminal & who are most likely to give up in the face of those difficulties.
    I hoped (& still hope) it might become a repository of enough good GUI ideas to be really useful for such Absolute Beginners.
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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    Quote Originally Posted by ByteJuggler View Post
    ...I suggest you try "gnome-do". It's like GUI versoin of "command-line completion" on steroids. Very very useful/fast especially once you're used to it...but there's a lot more to it than just that. See here and watch some of the screencasts!
    Thanks for that information!

    I had never heard of gnome-do, but it looks amusing & is most certainly GUI (so has its place in this thread)!

    Not sure that it is the way I want to go, but I will give it a try anyway.
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    Re: GUI Fan Club – for a Terminal-free Ubuntu experience ! (Only if you want it…)

    Quote Originally Posted by 2CV67 View Post
    1. Looking for a simple way to act as root when I need to, somebody mentioned I could:

    Quote:
    Go into Synaptic and install the package nautilus-gksu. Log out, and log back in again. Now whenever you right-click a file or folder, you will have the option to "Open as Administrator".

    Man, this is heaven !
    I'm not sure if you're thanking me for giving you the GUI-ised version of the instruction rather than the terminal-ised (sudo apt-get install nautilus-gksu) version; but if so, then you're welcome.

    Your point about opening files and folders as root is absolutely correct - I cannot see a non-terminal way of doing this unless you install the nautilus-gksu package. And the point raised later on about "How does somebody with an Arabic keyboard type English-based commands, and isn't this against the Ubuntu philosophy" was an excellent one.

    Ubuntu has been making strides toward removing the need for terminal use on compatible hardware, and there's always room for improvement. But I've been to the Microsoft Knowledgebase, and I *know* that a huge number of things that Windows users want to do require dropping to the MS-DOS prompt and typing in very long commands that are more cryptic than GNU/Linux commands and seem to be directly calling functions in Windows APIs.

    Also, be aware that when faced with the choice between Windows 95 and Mac OS, most people still bought Windows 95 even though it definitely required use of the terminal and the Mac OS didn't even have a terminal. Once you use the terminal on GNU/Linux enough, you remember the commands that you use, just like how salespeople can remember model numbers.
    I try to treat the cause, not the symptom. I avoid the terminal in instructions, unless it's easier or necessary. My instructions will work within the Ubuntu system, instead of breaking or subverting it. Those are the three guarantees to the helpee.

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