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Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Bill Malchisky  May 17 2011 04:00:00 AM

Update: Apparently, the utilized blog template is unable to handle mulltiple image files. Below I have unique images shots defining a chronoligical order through a process. Upon publising, some shots are missing, some are duplicated, while others appear out-of-order. I am uncertain why the template mangles images in such a horrible manner. Apologize for the poor graphic quality of this and yesterday's post....but the prose is sound. It would appear that the Domino blog template can only handle one (1) image per post. A travesty, if I do say so myself. Tomorrow I will only use grapics sparringly as I have wasted far too much time attempting to fix this. Thank you for your patience and understanding.



As I described the smooth upgrade process yesterday on my test box, my production laptop from Ubuntu 10.10 to 11.04, did not go smoothly--due to an error on my part, not their installation program. So, I needed to steamroll through a fresh installation, including remapping all of my partitions and logical volume groups. Not what I expected to do Sunday evening, time-wise, but I must say...wow, it was worth the effort.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, if you want a broader view of what's new in 11.04, click here. It includes hotspots for all of the different enhancements along with the Release Notes if you are curious. My posts on this subject cover lower level details and subtleties previously excluded in other coverage I read.

Launcher Insight

The design of Unity is fresh, clean, and well done. Subtle cues abound, ensuring that space is utilized carefully, ensuring that much of your real estate for applications is maximized. When you start an application from the Launcher, rather than drop a separate icon on a separate row of screen space for easy access, they just put a white arrow head (triangle) to the left of the respective icon (presuming a left justified Launcher panel) and you can see which applications are running. Just click the application again and the minimized program reappears. The program with current focus displays an opposing arrow head on the right edge of the respective Launcher icon. All nice and easy.

Application Installation

Application installation enhancements and integration through the window manager is where many of the improvements exist. Previously, one would just go to the Ubuntu Software Center, type in the name, and you can see if the Canonical approved version is there. If so, click to install and you are all set. Canonical will track updates and feed them to you whenever they are available. Be it third-party closed source ISV applications like Adobe Acrobat, third-part open source ISV applications, and any applications that Ubuntu is tracking. When you install an application unsupported by Ubuntu's software center, it will inform you that support is available via the Ubuntu community instead. Very helpful.

In Ubuntu 11.04, this process is significantly easier. For starters, if an application is available and you lack enablement or inclusion in your apt-get stream, the proper software channel is listed, provides a link to add it, and then lets you install it. Wow! What is even better, is that if you select More Info..., you can see application size, community reviews, corollary applications (e.g. extra fonts that you might be interested in using, or hooks into other programs) that can be installed with a simple click in a checkbox. All very easy, really.

What really impressed me, is where they extended this process. When you click on the Applications link in Launcher, you are presented with a program window where you can search for programs. Yes, most other desktop operating systems have this, and have for a while -- including Ubuntu. Where they excel here is that below the choices of Installed applications listed, they provide options of programs you might want to install, that match your search criteria. If so, click on that icon and that application is installed. Very nice touch. Try that with Windows!

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Installing Adobe Acrobat From Within Ubuntu

To illustrate the ease of installation and some nice features, I will choose a useful and powerful program, then walk through the steps.

If you launch the Ubuntu Software Center and type Adobe in the search window, you are presented with three programs. A green circle with a check mark inside on an icon indicates the program is already installed. (e.g. Adobe Flash plugin)


Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Here are some screen shots showing the application installation process of Adobe Acrobat. I like that they also include the size to download and the install size. This allows users to decide when is the best time for the user to install a program. Nice touch.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation


Additionally, beyond the details and Add-ons, you can see reviews on the application and the median rating next to the program name. Once you install the application, you can also comment by creating a review.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

The first time you install this program, you also get prompted to set it as the default viewer. For the types of PDF files I view, I definitely want to do so. Also, in 10.04 LTS, there is a known bug with the included open source viewer not displaying PDF files. You can download them, but when you open them, the page is blank. Before 10.04 LTS, Adobe's x64 Linux flavor lagged their other Acrobat offerings. With the popularity of Ubuntu and some Adobe's increased commitment to their product, version 9 is out and works great. Thus, I use this as my default PDF viewer. It quick and effective -- even in my browser as a plugin.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

And when you are done, on the left side, in the Launcher, if you selected, "Add to Launcher"  you will see this icon automatically appear.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Update Software History

One of the nice features with installing software through this portal is the history. Akin to the ACL history in Notes databases, one can view removals, installs, updates and know what is precisely happening---software-wise---on your system. A nice touch and very helpful.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

The installed software link in the left navigation pane, makes it easy to find what programs are on your system.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Clicking on one entry makes it easy to learn more info, removal, or check reviews.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Last two points on the Ubuntu Software Center: (1) it includes improved support to collect/accept payment for licensing fees. Now, open source applications that also would like alert you to a suggested contribution, you can honor the request in a far easier manner than previously doing so; (2) when you launch the USC you will observe that at the top of the main window, the USC provides suggested software applications, based upon programs you used and what it thinks might be helpful. I know there are other criteria as well.

Window Manager Widget Changes

Using a omnipresent application in Firefox 4 for easy contrasting across operating systems, here are two selected screen shots.

First, when in a less than maximized state, the minimize, maximize, and close buttons exist in the upper right corner, as expected. The color scheme is softer with Unity, but everything else looks as expected.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

When maximized, you see the Ubuntu logo in the upper left corner, which provides the program and file search feature. Also, you will see the close, minimize, and maximize buttons are now left justified, and with a slightly different order -- the close remains closest to the window edge.


Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Adobe Ups Their Linux Commitment

If you notice in the Adobe search results, that Adobe Flash plugin is installed. This is a huge enhancement for 11.04. Why? Previously, Adobe only offered an i386 version. With the increase in popularity of Ubuntu, this long-running issue is now fixed. I am very pleased with this.



Additionally when you install the Flash plugin, notice inside the Add-ons section there is a "Non-free TrueType fonts from XFree86" entry. If you want to run Lotus Notes, install this package. Notes is dependent upon this. Having the correct fonts available here and able to be installed with one click, saves you a lot of time later. Take advantage of this


Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part II: Application Installation

Some nice visual changes are included with Unity. Some changes are unexpected and welcomed. More Linux goodness to come.

And onward to Part III, tomorrow...
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