Ubuntu User Day

On Thursday Chris Johnston announced the upcoming Ubuntu User Day.

Ubuntu User Day Logo

From the announcement (emphasis is copied from pleia2):

The Ubuntu User Days Team would like to announce the first Ubuntu User Day, on January 23, 2010. This will be a very informative one day session geared towards beginner and intermediate Ubuntu users, as well as people who are interested in using Ubuntu. We have 14 classes covering topics ranging from installing Ubuntu, finding help, equivalent programs, using IRC, getting involved in the Ubuntu Community and more. We have enlisted the help of many talented people to lead these classes throughout the day.

These classes will be taught in #ubuntu-classroom with questions being asked in #ubuntu-classroom-chat on irc.freenode.net. Please visit http://wiki.ubuntu.com/UserDays for a complete class list and schedule of classes.

There is also a Spanish version of Ubuntu User Days being offered on January, 23, 2010. Please visit Día Del Usuario Ubuntu at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DiaDelUsuarioUbuntu for more information on the Spanish Ubuntu User Day!

The classes will begin at 12:00 UTC and end at 3:00AM (Sun) UTC

Users can connect to IRC from Empathy, Pidgin, Web interface, or X-chat. Empathy is available as default in Ubuntu Karmic, and Pidgin and X-chat are available from the repositories. Remember to join both #ubuntu-classroom and #ubuntu-classroom-chat, and remember to preface any question with “QUESTION: What is blah blah blah?”

Lernid is available via PPA and after Jono did a demo session, the interest is pretty high. Nathan Handler and I have worked to get the Lernid schedule submitted so it is possible to use Lernid to participate in this User Day, but we will not be fashioning our classes for Lernid (sorry, no slides) because we feel adding PPAs is something beyond a normal user.

I had a great time so far working with some great folks like Chris Johnston, Elizabeth Krumbach, Mark Cox, Nathan Handler, and Penelope Stowe in this project. Initially, I helped Chris recruit (read “strong arm” 😉 ) several volunteers from the Beginners Team and brainstorm for topics for people to teach. Two people from my LoCo even volunteered to teach. I myself will be leading a session on “Using Launchpad” from a user standpoint at 1700 UTC. Its going to be a great day and I’m looking forward to it.

It’s been a real delight to work on this project with all these fantastic folks and to see all these teams come together for our first Ubuntu User Day. So join us on Saturday, January 23rd to share with us the fruits of our labors!


Backing up with APTonCD

In my previous post about Keryx, I had mentioned there are 3 different ways to bring .debs from another system to your own, but I skipped explaining APTonCD because (a) those packages need to be installed on another Ubuntu system, (b) that system must be running the same release of ubuntu as yours (c) it gives an output of an iso file or has to be written to CD. This makes it non-ideal for bringing specific packages from one system to another system.


APTonCD though is the perfect backup tool. When you want to reinstall your OS for some reason (like playing with it too much that it does not work), APTonCD is the tool to use. It’s fairly straightforward. Once installed just run it from System > Administration > APTonCD. Click on create and all the applications installed will be listed out. Then click on Burn, and viola all the packages that you’ve installed gets backed up onto a CD, DVD, or iso.

After reinstalling the OS, pop the CD or DVD that was burned earlier into the CD drive, run APTonCD (install it first), and click restore. Now all the .debs will be copied to apt cache. Now go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager and go to Edit > Add CD-ROM. Then click on Origin in the bottom left and all those packages will be listed and can be added.

All the applications installed will be restored. If like me, you have /home on a separate partition, not much configuration required either.

Installing packages without Internet Access

On the Ubuntu desktop, it is difficult for a user stuck without Internet because all packages are directly downloaded by the package manager. In India, unfortunately, Internet is not available for everyone. If you’re is lucky to have a laptop AND have a friendly local Internet Centre where you can connect your laptop, you’re among the few who can browse on Ubuntu (apart from those who have Internet ;)). I’ve been searching for a way to download the packages off-line and then install at home for people from my LoCo.

The latest Full Circle Magazine had an article giving a few workarounds for this, including a script generated by Synaptic Package Manager, APTonCD, and Keryx. The 2 most attractive options are to generate a script from Synaptic Package Manager and Keryx Project. They let you download on systems without Ubuntu and bring the .deb files to Ubuntu.

Generate a Script from Synaptic Package Manager
Start Synaptic Package Manager and mark all the applications that you want to install/upgrade. Instead of clicking the “Apply” button from the toolbar as you would normally do, go to the File menu and select “Generate Package Download Script” menu option to generate the download script. Save the generated script file. Give it a name like ‘ubuntu.sh’ and click the “Save” button. This script file can now be carried to a machine which has a fast Internet connection and it needs to be executed there.

Synaptic Package Manager

To download the softwares on a Windows machine, use Linkification plugin to convert text links into genuine, clickable links. Then, use DownThemAll plug-in. When the plugin in installed, go to Tools > DownThemAll and include *.deb in fast filtering. If downloading from another Ubuntu machine, just type sh .sh in terminal after changing directory to the folder containing the script.

Keryx Project
The Keryx Project only needs to be installed on the system with Internet connection and it downloads the debs. The best about Keryx is that its compatible with Ubuntu/Debian, Mac, and Windows. Download the Keryx Project from their download page.

Keryx Project

There is an excellent tutorial on using Keryx by crashsystems on his website.

All about the IRC and Freenode

Almost all big open source projects have one IRC channel where they can meet and coordinate or else it would be very difficult for someone new to join the group or ask for help. For a new user though, IRC is very daunting. It takes some time understanding something that was originally made in 1988 (wow, 21 years old). Today, I just want to break it down, a little bit of history, and why the open source world loves it. And no, its not that we don’t have GTalk or MSN.


According to wikipedia, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing.

There are some reasons why we open source geeks tend to use IRC

    1. IRC is an open procotol. Makes a lot of sense for open source people. Its all about principles.
      Most IRC servers don’t need a sign up. Now, that is a major advantage. True, some channels may require that you register your nickname, but that is after actually entering the IRC server. Most of the time, to participate or ask questions, registration is not really required.
      IRC is real-time. Kinda obvious for a chat, but I just wanted to state it anyway.
      Not really graphics heavy. It can even be run from command line. Need I say more?

    The Ubuntu community uses IRC for support, in the channel #ubuntu, and for discussions of all sorts. All official teams have an IRC channel and sometimes even more. We use the Freenode network. Its a network that exists solely to support peer-directed projects, including those relating to free software and open source. The aim of Freenode is to help our participants to improve their communicative and collaborative skills and to maintain a friendly, efficient environment for project coordination and technical support. That’s just their official philosophy. In simple words, they’re there so that open source projects have a place to discuss and support.

  • Ubuntu User Days

    At the Ubuntu Developer Summit Lucid a couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion for extending Ubuntu Open Week throughout the release cycle by having a few smaller “days” in #ubuntu-classroom which were devoted to certain things. So the current plan is to have a “Ubuntu User Day” where a series of beginner level sessions would take place. Our vision is for this to happen on a Saturday and probably last 8-10 hours. This depends on getting volunteers to lead sessions and we’re working on that.

    Ubuntu Classroom on IRC
    Ubuntu Classroom on IRC

    The first User Day is scheduled for January 23rd, Saturday, from 1200 UTC to 2200 UTC, which comes to 1730 IST to 0330 IST. It drags a bit late, but that is to accommodate a wide range of time zones.

    Right now, we don’t have many volunteers, so we’re looking for a bit of participation both in terms of teachers and participants too. I’d like to re-emphasize that most of this is going to be beginners friendly.

    Thanks for your help and hope to see you there.