[ubuntu-za] Ubuntu Indaba 0.6

Jason Norwood-Young jason at freespeechpub.co.za
Fri Jun 1 15:21:21 BST 2007

Ubuntu Indaba

Read this online at http://www.ubuntu-za.org/Wiki/News-0.6

Issue 0.6 (Corny Camel)

Friday 1 June

I often hear complaints about the Linux command line - how it
disenfranchises the non-technical users, and is clear proof that Linux
is not ready for the average user. I find this strange as I'm
hard-pressed to think of an Ubuntu feature that an average user might
need that would require them to hit the terminal. My mother uses Ubuntu,
and I promise you she doesn't know what a command line looks like. 
So why am I featuring some cool command line package management tools in
this edition? Because, if you want to learn more about your computer, do
things quickly, and change the very nature of your computing experience,
the command line is the place to start. More than that, the command line
doesn't disenfranchise - it empowers. I would encourage every newbie who
wants to really experience his or her computer to open that terminal,
and enter an endless new world of computing never before imagined. It's
scary at first, but there are people here to hold your hand until you're
surpassing us.

* No Ubuntu for SA's Dell *
It's no surprise, but it's still disappointing. Dell South Africa's
mobile brand manager, Gavin Slevin, has confirmed that we won't be
seeing Ubuntu on Dell machine in the country for quite some time. Slevin
says they will probably be available by the end of next year, reports

* Firefox spraak die taal *
Translate.org.za has released its Afrikaans translation of the coolest
browser on the web, Firefox 2.0. If you're one of the 1 million
Afrikaans-speaking Internet users in South Africa, you'll appreciate the
translation described as “the most extensively tested translation
release of ours to date” by Translate.org.za's Dwayne Bailey.

* The Masters of the Ubuntu Universe *
Want to know who's responsible for Ubuntu? Look no further than the
Masters of the Universe (MOTU), the Ubuntu working group responsible for
choosing, building and maintaining the carefully selected collection of
open source tools that make up Ubuntu. If you'd like to meet the folk
behind the impressive-sounding nomenclature, the Behind MOTU site gives
a fascinating glimpse of the people behind the code.

* Local Ubuntu: Impi Linux *
While Ubuntu is a South African word, and was started by a South
African, it really is an international Linux distribution, with most of
the developers working offshore. If you're looking for a truly South
African version of Ubuntu, check out Impi Linux. While based on Ubuntu,
Impi has a slightly more commercial flavour, and is supported by Impi
Linux, a subsidiary of Ubuntu's parent company Canonical. The latest
version, Impi Linux 7.05 Desktop version, uses Feisty as its base, and
includes some extra features, including a dictionary for all of our 11
official languages, better iPod support, and read-write support for
Microsoft's NTFS file system. You'll also get the full LPI and ICDL
coursework on your desktop. 
The catch? It's a commercial version of Ubuntu, so it's not geared up
for the hobbyist or home user. If you're rolling out Linux in your
company and you're looking for good support on a localised version, then
Impi should definitely be on your list. 

* How'd you do that? Command line your way to more free software *
While it doesn't take new Ubuntu users long to discover the Add/Remove
Software menu item at the bottom of the Applications menu, there is a
host of command line tools that make the Ubuntu software installer – and
its bigger brother, Synaptic – look like a kiddy's toy.
The two most noteworthy commands for getting free (as in speech and
beer) software are apt-get and apt-cache. The first lets you install and
remove any application in the software repository, while the second is a
great way to search for that cool application that you've always wanted.
To install new software with apt-get, the command is: “sudo apt-get
install [package name]”. You can install a whole bunch of applications
at once by listing the packages one after the other. For example, if you
wanted to install a number of great media players all at once, use the
command “sudo apt-get install vlc gmplayer xmms”. 
To update your system's list of packages with those available on the
servers, type “sudo apt-get update”. To bring all packages up to their
latest available versions, “sudo apt-get upgrade” will do the trick.
Apt-get includes a little feature called tab completion. If you don't
know the full package name, you can use the TAB button to check out
package names starting with a couple of letters. It's also a very quick
way of finding related packages. To find all of the many, many XMMS
plug-ins, type “sudo apt-get install xmms-” and then hit TAB. 
Of course, that's not the proper way to search. For real package
searching, use apt-cache. “apt-cache search [some term]”. So “apt-cache
search xmms plugin” will give you a more detailed list of the available
XMMS plug-ins. To see a detailed description of a particular package,
type “apt-cache show [package name]”.
There's another great package management tool that isn't installed in
Ubuntu by default. Apt-cacher lets you store all of the packages you've
downloaded on one machine on a network, and share those packages with
all the other machines on a network. If you've got ten machines on your
network, it avoids you downloading 10MB of data every time there's a 1MB
update – the first machine downloads the package, and the other machines
download the package from the first machine. It does take some skill to
set up, so if you're not a Linux guru, find someone who is to give you a
While you're playing with the apt command line tools, avoid installing
apt-spy. It's a wonderful package for the Debian system, sniffing out
the fastest mirror for updating, but unfortunately it hasn't been
updated for Ubuntu yet. If you run it on Ubuntu, you will mess up
your /etc/apt/sources.list file, which lists all of the repositories
available for your Ubuntu installation. Even as a newbie, feel free to
edit this file manually, adding or removing software repositories to
suit your needs, but remember to back it up first or you may end up
being unable to install anything.

* About Ubuntu Indaba *
Ubuntu Indaba is a weekly newsletter written for the Ubuntu South Africa
community, by the community, and about the community. Deadline is
12:00pm every Friday.

Editor: Jason Norwood-Young
jason at tectonic.co.za

Sub-editor: Jonathan Hitchcock 
jonathan.hitchcock at gmail.com

Ubuntu Indaba is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5
South Africa licence. 

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