Friday, July 31, 2015

Google Earth and Stellarium

Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program that was originally called EarthViewer 3D created by Keyhole, Inc, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded company acquired by Google in 2004 . 

It can be downloaded from here  . If you have a 32 bit system you need to download 32 bit .deb , if you are 
using a 64 bit system you need to download the 64 bit .deb .

After downloading the .deb navigate to the folder where it was downloaded > right click it > open with >
Gdebi package installer . When the installation is done google-earth can be opened from dash .

Stellarium is a free software planetarium, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. It uses OpenGL to render a realistic projection of the night sky in real time.

It can be installed in Ubuntu via ppa :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stellarium/stellarium-releases
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install stellarium

Typhoon weather widget for Ubuntu

Typhoon is a free and open source weather widget application which displays weather situation in and around your area on your Ubuntu desktop.

The weather widget can be installed on Ubuntu by using the following commands :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:apandada1/typhoon
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install typhoon

To enable Typhoon to start at boot look for startup applications > autostart > add  and type in the information as shown in the next screenshot :

After a reboot Typhoon should autostart once you log in .

Bypass you countries Internet censorship with Tor Browser

The Tor Browser lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained. More information on Tor Browser can be found here

Tor-browser give you the ability to bypass Internet censorship and filtering rules, especially if your are in a country that has restricted access to certain websites .

Note: If you are in a location where access to the Tor Project website is blocked, you can request a copy of the Tor Browser Bundleinstaller via email. To do this, send an email to with the version of Tor you want in the body of the email. E.g. windows if you have a Windows computer, OsX if you use an Apple Computer or Linux if you use a Linux based computer. You will receive a reply to your email with a link to download the installer via Dropbox. Further details about this feature are available on the Tor Project website

Tor Browser Bundle is a web browser based on Firefox ESR (Firefox with extended support), configured to protect users' privacy and anonymity by using Tor and Vidalia, tools that come bundled with it. The bundle also includes 4 Firefox extensions: TorButton, TorLauncher, NoScript and HTTPS-Everywhere.

Tor Browser Bundle can be install in ubuntu via ppa (ctrl+alt+t) :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/tor-browser
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tor-browser

When the installation is completed tor-browser can be launched from Unity Dash and hit connect :

Maximizing the browser window can allow websites to determine your monitor size,which
can be used to track you , it is recommended to leave Tor Browser windows in their original
default size !


TorChat is a decentralized anonymous instant messenger that uses Tor hidden services as its underlying Network. It provides cryptographically secure text messaging and file transfers and can be used for things such as business dealings, and confidential communication between doctors and their patients.

To install torchat :

sudo apt-get install torchat

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Opera & Google Chome installation on Ubuntu + extensions for increased privacy

Opera is now based on Chromium and Blink engine just like Chrome.Chrome . It features compression technology and a working sync feature. 

Opera is a web browser developed by OperaSoftware. The latest version is available for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems, and uses the Blink layout engine. An earlier version using the Presto layout engine is still supported, and additionally runs on FreeBSD systems.The latest version can be found here . 

The following tweaks work on Opera , Chrome and Chromium.
For increased privacy when surfing the Internet the browsers can be used with an openvpn client . The tutorial can be found here 

Navigate to the folder where .deb file has been downloaded > right click it > open with > Gdebi
package installer > Install Package .  Opera can be opened from ubuntu dash .
After opening opera go to the navigation bar and type in the following :


In order to speed up Opera and enable hardware acceleration we need to change or enable some experimental features.
We are going to use the experimental search bar for easier access to these features.

Type in the following key words and make the necessary changes :

  • override  and enable Override software rendering list 
  • tiles  and change the Maximum number of tiles for interest area to 512
  • raster and enable  Enable GPU rasterization 
  • raster and change the Number of raster threads to 4
(These tweaks are not recommended for low end hardware !)

Relaunch Opera and check if hardware acceleration is enabled by typing about:gpu in the navigation bar as seen below: 

For incresased privacy and security we can disable access to our location, webcam and microphone :
go to opera menu > settings > websites :

To install extensions go to View > Extensions > View Extensions > Get more extensions
(Note that some extensions can be heavy on resources )
  • Adblock or Adguard
  • Https Everywhere
  • No script (optional, can be used when banking, limits functionality )
  • Ghostery (requires a bit of setup , the configuration will open after this extension is installed)
  • WOT ( also known as web of trust)
  • DuckDuckGo for Opera/Chrome (DuckDuckGo is the search engine that doesn't track you. We also have smarter answers and less clutter)

The following screenshots should help ease Ghostery configuration :

Next navigate to  Edit > Preferences > Privacy&Security and check the option

  •  Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic
Scroll down the same page until you see Cookies :

For increased privacy we can block sites from setting any data and we can also block third-party cookies . However if you need to login into an account like  gmail , cookies will be required .
In that case the best option is :

  • Keep local data only until I quit my browser

Flash player is obsolete so i have attached the following link for more information: (this will also show you if you have flash installed)

In order for opera to play youtube video in html5 , navigate to and request HTML5  as default player .

Google Chrome is a freeware web browser developed by Google. It used the WebKit layout engine until version 27 and, with the exception of its iOS releases, from version 28 and beyond uses the WebKit fork Blink.
Because of the similarities between Opera and Google Chrome installing the extensions and changing the settings for better privacy and security can be done using the same steps provided for Opera.

You can download Google Chrome from here.

Opera vs Chrome :

A  comparison can be found here .

To add Google-Talk-Plugin download the .deb file from here   , navigate to the folder where the plugin is located , right click it > Open with > Gdebi-package-installer . After the install is complete you can add the extension from the Chrome Web Store . (Works with chromium as well)

How to tweak and speed up Ubuntu

1.Unity Tweak Tool:

Unity Tweak Tool is a settings manager for the Unity desktop. It provides users with a fast, simple and easy-to-use interface with which to access many useful and little known features and settings of the desktop environment that one may want to configure.

To install unity tweak tool copy paste the the following commands into your terminal 

(ctrl+alt+t) :

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool



 (to open the settings manager , note that unity-tweak-tool can be opened by doing a Dash search as well )

From webapps we can turn off the integration prompts and uncheck Amazon and Ubuntu One.

To speed up Unity go to General  set texture quality to fast under hardware acceleration and

turn off animations .

2.Install Compiz Config :

Compiz is a compositing window manager for the X Window System, using 3D graphics hardware to create fast compositing desktop effects for window management. Effects, such as a minimization animation or a cube workspace, are implemented as loadable plugins.

To install CompizConfig , open a terminal (ctrl+alt+t) :

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins-extras

After the installation is done you can open the settings-manager 

from Dash .

Go to Composite and uncheck Detect Refresh Rate:

Hit back and return to the main configuration window . Next click on OpenGL and uncheck

Sync to VBlank. (caution using compizconfig-settings-manager as it can break your system)

3.Moving Temporary Files to Memory (RAM):

Before starting this process it’s a good idea to backup the fstab file:

sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak

The next step is to edit fstab:

sudo gedit /etc/fstab 

Add the following lines at the end of the file :

tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,size=1G,mode=1777 0 0

tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/log tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0755 0 0 
tmpfs /var/log/apt tmpfs defaults,noatime 0 0

The first line mounts /tmp in memory with a size limit of 1 gig. This may be larger than you need. If you exceed this limit the swap area will be used.
The second line mounts /var/tmp into memory. The third mounts the logfiles in /var/log–note this means that a reboot will clear your log files which may not be what you want. The fourth line mounts the temporary files associated with apt into memory.
The new mount points will become active on your next reboot.

4.Control Startup Applications:

Ubuntu hides most of the system’s default autostart entries from this dialog. To view them, run the following command in a terminal:

sudo sed -i "s/NoDisplay=true/NoDisplay=false/g" /etc/xdg/autostart/*desktop

Don’t disable an autostart entry unless you understand what it does.
5. Tune Swappiness

If you have alot of RAM this tweak is for you . The swappiness value controls the Linux kernel's tendency to swap - that means moving information out of RAM and onto the swap file on the disk. It accepts a value between 0 and 100. In order to change swappiness value we need to edit /etc/sysctl.conf :

sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf

Look for vm.swappiness in the file and change its value. If it doesn’t exist, add it to the end of the file on a new line.

vm.swappiness = 1 (1” is the minimum possible “active swapping” setting while “0” means disable swapping completely and only revert to when RAM is completely filled. Using these settings in low-spec systems of 2GB RAM or less may cause freezes and make the OS completely unresponsive)

Save the file after making the change.


6. Install Preload: 
Preload is an adaptive readahead daemon that prefetches files mapped by applications from the disk to reduce application startup time.

sudo apt-get install preload

7. Disable Ping Response:

sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf

and add the following line at the bottom page . Make sure there is no "#" ahead of the line as it will uncomment it :

net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all = 1

Other network tweaks  

In the same file you can also add :

net.core.somaxconn = 1000
net.core.netdev_max_backlog = 5000
net.core.rmem_max = 16777216
net.core.wmem_max = 16777216
net.ipv4.tcp_wmem = 4096 12582912 16777216
net.ipv4.tcp_rmem = 4096 12582912 16777216
net.ipv4.tcp_max_syn_backlog = 8096
net.ipv4.tcp_slow_start_after_idle = 0
net.ipv4.tcp_tw_reuse = 1
net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range = 10240 65535

Save the file and close it , then use the following command in terminal :

sudo sysctl -p

Before network tweaks:


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to install Spotify and Pithos (Pandora radio client) on Ubuntu

Spotify is a commercial music streaming, podcast and video service that provides digital rights management-restricted content from record labels and media companies . Music can be browsed or searched by artist, album, genre, playlist, or record label. 

To install spotify on Ubuntu type in the  following information into your terminal:

                       sudo apt-add-repository -y "deb stable non-free" &&
                       sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys D2C19886 &&
                       sudo apt-get update -qq &&sudo apt-get install spotify-client

After the installation is complete you can launch Spotify from Dash :

Pandora Internet Radio (also known as Pandora Radio or simply Pandora) is a music streaming and automated music recommendation service powered by the Music Genome Project. 
Pithos is already available in the Ubuntu repositories however this is an older buggier version of the client . In order to install the latest version use the following commands in a terminal :
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pithos/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pithos

How to install graphics drivers on Ubuntu (proprietary and open-source)

For optimal performance using open source drivers installation of the latest kernel is recommended . A tutorial for that can be found here(Warning : only use with open-source drivers !)

1.Installing Intel normal drivers (open-source):
(ctrl+alt+t to open a terminal)

sudo apt-get install i965-va-driver
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libvdpau-va-gl1
sudo apt-get install libva-intel-vaapi-driver
sudo apt-get upgrade

Intel GMA 4500 series and newer GPUs are supported by the libvdpau-va-gl package together with the libva-intel-driver package.

2.Installing AMD with open-source radeon (built-in) driver:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo apt-get install mesa-vdpau-drivers
(if you experience any dependencies errors install via synaptic)
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

AMD Radeon 9500 and newer GPUs are supported by the mesa-vdpau package.
The ppa's work best with the latest kernel (tutorial located here)

For better results and no overheating there are 2 ways to improve GPU power management:

  • dynpm
  • dpm
dynpm is dynamic but causes flickering. Dpm is new since kernel 3.11 .

To enable it:
Open a terminal.
First you need to set a kernel parameter, this will tell your kernel it needs to enable dpm
sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

there you need to add "radeon.dpm1" to the kernel line in your grub config:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash radeon.dpm=1"
save the file and update grub :

sudo update-grub

You can use 3 profiles for dpm:

  • battery
  • balanced
  • performance
Balanced is the most useful one . To enable it :
again in the terminal

sudo gedit /etc/rc.local

add the following lines in this file (above the line that says "exit 0")

echo balanced > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_dpm_state
Save the file and reboot your pc .

The GPU power management can also be configured using TLP .

3.Installing AMD with fglrx driver :

The latest AMD proprietary driver 15.9 has been backported to ubuntu 14.04 and is included in the repositories  as fglrx-updates.  The easisest way to install AMD priprietary drivers is accessing the 1.system settings , doing a Dash search for 2.Software&Updates or a Dash search from 3.Additional Drivers and selecting the option fglrx-updates. Click on Apply Changes wait for the instalation to finish and reboot your computer.

After reboot open a terminal and use the following commands :

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libvdpau-va-gl1

4.Installing nvidia driver (open-source):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nvidia-349 nvidia-settings
sudo apt-get install libvdpau1 vdpau-va-driver

NVIDIA GeForce 8 series and newer GPUs are supported by the mesa-vdapu package.

A new ppa has been setup and a lot of nvidia drivers have been made available through this ppa. Use the following commands to install it :

sudo add-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Afterwards open synaptic (sudo apt-get install synaptic then sudo synaptic) to install the Nvidia driver you want to use .

To check if hardware acceleration is enabled open a terminal and install mesa-utils:

sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

then type :

glxinfo | grep direct

"Direct rendering : Yes" means hardware acceleration is enabled .