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Customizing the Netbook Remix & creating shell script shortcuts

A couple more problems of mine with my Eee PC / Ubuntu Eee setup solved. Hopefully of use to others…

Customizing the desktop

Ubuntu Eee comes with a custom desktop designed for small screens by Canonical, called the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It’s a group of modifications that create more screen space and provide a slick application launcher instead of the normal desktop. It’s nice, but I found it hard to customize to my liking.

There are ways of totally replacing the NBR interface with the normal Ubuntu desktop. But I liked some aspects of NBR, like the Maximus window switcher that keeps windows maximized by default. How to just get the desktop back and turn the NBR “Show desktop launcher” button (top left) into an applications menu?

This page explaining NBR proved very useful. In the end, it boils down to this:

  1. Launch Synaptic, and press “Status” in the bottom left. Then select “Installed” in the top left, to show installed packages.
  2. Scroll down and “Mark for Removal” both “ume-launcher” (the replacement desktop) and “go-home-applet” (the “go to desktop” button, top left). Click “Apply”.
  3. Now you’re stuck. There’s no way to launch applications! Don’t worry. What you need to do is to customize the panel, the bar across the top, by right-clicking in an empty space. If there isn’t any space, right-click on something and move it (you might need to unlock it first). Play around. When you get some space, a right-click should give the option “Add to Panel”. Select “Main menu”.
  4. Now you can use right-click, lock-unlock, move, to get things how you want them along the top panel. Right-click the main menu and “Edit menus” to… well, you get the idea.
  5. If you still need a “Show desktop” button, there’s one in the “Add to Panel” thingy.

Shell scripts

On Windows, I had a few batch files on the desktop for me to quickly start/stop/restart ColdFusion, at least. How to do the same on Linux?

The equivalent of batch files on Linux are shell scripts. Like batch files, plain text files, but with .sh extensions instead of .bat. Here’s the basic process, using CF control commands as an example:

  1. Create a text file for each command you want to be able to run. The files should have the .sh extension, and you can keep them wherever you want. For CF, the three I’ve created (each line in a separate file) are:
    sudo /opt/coldfusion8/bin/coldfusion start
    sudo /opt/coldfusion8/bin/coldfusion stop
    sudo /opt/coldfusion8/bin/coldfusion restart
  2. For each file, right-click to select “Properties” and then the “Permissions” tab. Tick “Allow executing file as program”.
  3. On the desktop, right-click and “Create launcher”. Select “Application in Terminal”, type a name for the launcher shortcut, and browse to the relevant shell script file.