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Friday, December 19, 2008

Installing Adobe Air and some AIR applications on Ubuntu 8.10

Adobe Air Environment is one of the hottest new technology around, it allows one to easily create cross platform Internet rich applications combing the strength of Adobe Flex , Adobe Flash , Ajax and HTML to create applications and widget that are Internet ready . Adobe Air allows one to deploy browser less rich Internet applications on desktop that are not bounded by local storage limitations or limited file system access as is the case with Ajax application running inside a browser.

Now Adobe finally has released the stable version of the Air environment on Linux bringing it up to date with the version available on Mac OS X and Windows.

Here in this tutorial , I describe how you can easily install Adobe AIR environment on your Ubuntu 8.10 desktop and some interesting applications that you can run atop Adobe AIR.

Installing Adobe Air :

To install Adobe Air environment open Terminal window from (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) and issue the following command in the terminal window .


chmod +x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

After issuing the above command you will get a installation dialog box like this follow the instructions to install Adobe Air .
Adobe Air Installer
After installation is over you will find a menu item (Applications -> Other ->Adobe Air Application Installer ) which allows one to easily install Adobe Air applications.

Installing interesting Adobe AIR applications

These are some of the Adobe AIR applications that I have found interesting , also I have tried including installation instruction and brief information about the application.


ReadAIR is a desktop client of Google Reader ( News Feed Aggregator), it syncs with Google Reader and allows you to read the feeds you have subscribed to easily. ReadAir has an extremely simple UI and has same basic layout as Google Reader and is loosly themed like Mac OS X application. ReadAIR allows one to search through feeds , also it allows you to organize feeds using tags.Though , I was somewhat disappointed to find lack of Keyboard shortcuts.

ReadAIR running on my Ubuntu Desktop

You can download ReadAIR from here : or follow this link to download (.air) package :

Now , you can install the downloaded the (.air) package using (Applications-> Other -> Adobe AIR Application Installer ) and once installation is over you can launch ReadAIR by clicking on the icon on the desktop.
ReadAir icon @ Desktop


RichFLV is a cute little video editor for flv files , some of the features RichFLV supports are :
  • Read flv Metadata
  • read/edit/modify/delete cuepoints
  • cut flvs
  • convert the sound of the flv to mp3
  • convert flv to swf
However , RichFLV is still in early stage of development and is an alpha release.

You can find more info about RichFLV here :
Download and Install RichFLV from here :

RichFLV playing video


RoadFinder combines Yahoo! Maps and Google Maps into a single application , and allows one to easily look up address using its intiuative interface. RoadFinder allows you to search maps for physical directions anywhere in the world, Also besides having option for maps it also allows you to view satelite images.

Even after entering "New Delhi" RoadFinder kept showing US map.

Download and install RoadFinder from :


WebKut allows one to capture Web Pages or part of Web Page in an extremely simple way. You open the website you want to capture within the WebKut interface and capture WebPage using 3 capture options: the entire page, the current view, or only a selection. However ,the maximum dimension for an image that can be captured is 2880 pixels.
WebKut in action, in the screenshot a part of WebPage has been selected to cut.

You can get more information about WebKut here :
Download and Install WebKut from here :

XDrive Desktop Lite

Xdrive is a data storage service from AOL and gives you 5GB of free online storage.XDrive Desktop Lite is a desktop client for the online service and allows you to manage files in your online Xdrive account.Xdrive Desktop Lite supports drag n drop and allows you to drag files from your computer into your online Xdrive account.

Download Xdrive Desktop Lite from here :

You can get more information here :


Spaz is an Open source Twitter client and features an extremely user friendly interface. Some of the important features of Spaz are :
  • Built-in global search powered by Summize
  • Short URL creation tool with support for multiple services (,,, and more)
  • In-line short URL decoding
  • Markdown syntax support
  • Multiple themes and support for user-created themes
  • User-defined CSS overrides
  • Event sounds using the Tokyo Train Station soundset by Dominik Dimaano
  • Directory listings of users you’re following, and your followers.

Download and Install Spaz using this link :

You can get more information about Spaz here :

Google Analytics
Reporting Suite

Google Analytics is a statistics tool and provides you different stats about your site/blog. This application brings you the functionality of Google Analytics onto your desktop. The application has clean and simple Interface and allows viewing reports in tabbed manner. It allows exporting reports to numerous file formats like PDF , XML or Excel.

Download and Install application from this link.


Fresh is a RSS Reader built using AJAX and Adobe AIR . The Fresh reader features offline RSS reading, multiple panels within a single window, tabbed browsing, and basic browser integration.

Download Fresh from this link :


MiniTask is a easy to use task management tool and allows you to manage your todos list efficiently and properly. It supports drag 'n' drop reorder, alarm timers, printing of pretty task sheets, copying tasks from and to other applications etc.

You can get more information about MiniTask from this link:

Download and Install MiniTask from this link :


Posty is a microblogging application that allows you to post simultaneously to a number of different microblogging sites like twitter, jaiku, tumblr, friendfeed and with a single click. Some of the features of Posty include :
  • browsing of personal, public and friends’ timeline
  • posting of replies (Twitter, Pownce, Friendfeed,
  • browsing and posting of direct messages (Twitter and
  • support to favorites (Twitter and
  • search of past messages (Twitter and Friendfeed)
  • automatic, as-you-type, spellchecking of messages
  • built-in url shortening service
  • configurable notification of recently posted messages (Twitter)
  • automatic notification and installation of new versions
  • visualization of multimedia items (Youtube and Vimeo videos, Tumblr audio, Flickr/Zoomr/Smugmug galleries)
  • automatic management of internet connection (works behind proxies!).

You can get more information about Posty from the following site :

Download and Install Posty from the following link : (You would need to extract the zip file and then install the .air file )

Tutorial Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop Blog ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Midori : Light Weight WebKit based browser for Linux

The best thing about Open Source World is the number of different choices available whether its in the number of Linux distribution available or applications, and Web Browsers are no exception.

There are a number of different web browsers available on the Linux platform like the popular Mozilla Firefox running on Gecko , Opera or the Konqueror running atop KHTML. However, most of these web browsers are bulky owing to host of features they offer and there are only few lightweight "usable" Web Browsers available on the Linux platform, last one I tried was Dillo which was good for displaying simple web pages. Midori is a notch above Dillo and is based on popular WebKit engine (used by Safari).

WebKit is an open source engine that was created by Apple computers for it's Safari web browser( which is available on a number of different platform like Mac OS and Windows ). Code for WebKit was derived from another Open Source project Konqueror's KHTML Library and KDE's Java Script Engine (KJS).

WebKit is being developed by a number of different organisation and groups and is at the heart of two popular Web Browsers Apple Safari and Google Chrome. WebKit also powers a number of web browsers on the mobile platform(in fact Nokia plans to develop a web browser based on WebKit for it's Symbian mobile platform). It is an extremely robust rendering engine , and competes neck to neck (and in fact is ahead) with Gecko , Opera in terms of Java Script rendering.

Midori is a light weight Web Browser that has been built using WebKit, Midori is the only Web Browser available presently on Linux that uses WebKit engine(Chrome is not out for Linux yet). Midori uses GTK 2.x graphical tool kit for it's user interface and is in fact part of XFCE ( a lightweight window manager) as part of it's goodies package. Though Midori is still in early phase of development and is buggy, still it is usable. Some of the features of Midori are :

* Full integration with GTK+ 2.
* Fast rendering with WebKit.
* Tabs, windows and session management.
* Flexibly configurable Web Search.
* User scripts and user styles support.
* Straightforward bookmark management.
* Customizable and extensible interface.
* Extensions written in C.
* Custom context menu actions.
Midori is extremely good at rendering Web Pages (owing to it using WebKit for rendering web pages) and is extremely fast as compared to Mozilla Firefox or Opera on the Linux platform. Though , Midori lacks flash support presently which could limit it's usage slightly, Midori could be extremely useful for some one running an Old PC or Linux based Kiosks.

Midori is included in the official Ubuntu repositories , so it is extremely easy to install Midori. To install Midori issue the following commands in the terminal Window (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal )
sudo apt-get install midori

after issuing the above command you can launch Midori from (Applications -> Internet -> Midori Web Browser ).

Midori Web Browser in Action :)

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop Blog ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

UsplashSmooth : TIme Based Usplash for smoother bootup bar

Usplash is an application that uses Linux framebuffer interface/direct vesa to display splash screen at boot up(or while shutting down) while all the daemons are loaded(unloaded during shutting down). Usplash displays a progress bar which shows how much the operating system is loaded, this progress bar increases in a non linear way(is not smooth) , it remains standstill for sometime and sometimes increases rapidly.Progress bar moves in a jerky way , which does sometimes look odd especially if some one is making the jump from MacOS to Ubuntu(or other operating system which have much more user friendly Boot Splashes).

UsplashSmooth tries to correct this problem , by displaying a progress bar that increases/decreases linearly and smoothly, showing you precisely the amount of time that is left for system to start or shut down. Though this is not without hitch , UsplashSmooth uses recorded time of boot/shutdown to synchronize animation of the progress bar , so if something goes wrong or lets say some daemon takes wee bit more time , progress bar animation goes out of sync with actualy boot process.

Installing UsplashSmooth

To install UsplashSmooth , issue the following command in the terminal(Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) window:


tar -xvzf 93394-usplash-smooth-0.4.tar.gz

The above commands would download and extract archive containing the UsplashSmooth package files ( deb files).

Finally to install i386 version of UsplashSmooth issue the following command :
sudo dpkg -i usplash-smooth_0.4_i386.deb

or if you are running 64bit Ubuntu on a AMD processor , issue the following command:
sudo dpkg -i usplash-smooth_0.4_amd64.deb

If above commands executed well , UsplashSmooth should be properly installed on your pc. Reboot your pc , the first time you reboot/restart your computer you will find Usplash progressbar to be terribly out of sync with the boot process. This is because UsplashSmooth records your bootup/shutdown time and uses this time to synchronize the animation of progress bar , so first time the progress bar is out of sync with the boot process.

Though Usplash is no where near perfect , one thing in particular I noticed was most of the times shutdown progress bar animation was out of sync with the shut down process(it moved slowly). Leaving these minor glitches aside UsplashSmooth is an interesting piece of addition to Ubuntu desktop , it's small addition like these that makes ubuntu experience complete and makes Ubuntu user friendly.

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop Blog ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

References used: