How To Backup Your Files Using Deja Dup [Ubuntu] Part-1

Ubuntu 11.10 is going to come with a backup tool – Deja Dup – by default. Using Deja Dup is not difficult. In this article, I will explain how you can use Deja Dup to back up the files in your Ubuntu machine.


Before we get to how to use it, here is how to install Deja Dup in Ubuntu. Deja Dup is in the Ubuntu main repository. So to install it, open the Terminal and execute the command,

$ sudo apt-get install deja-dup

After the installation, you can find Deja Dup using the Dash in Ubuntu 11.04. If you are using an earlier version of Ubuntu or the Classic Desktop in Ubuntu 11.04, you will find Deja Dup under Applications > System Tools.

Backing up files

Before you start using Deja Dup, you need to set it up first. Run the application Deja Dup Backup Preferences. Under the tab, Storage, you have to specify the backup location. Deja Dup supports backup to local folder, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, SSH, WebDAV and Windows Share. Pick the backup location – most of the users will backup to local folder. For added security, it is recommended that you check the box next to Encrypt backup files.

If you pick Local Folder, select the folder where you want to store the backups. It is recommended that you select a folder on a different hard disk from the one you are taking the the backup. Also note that the backup files might require a large memory. So, make sure there is enough space available in the backup folder.

Now that we have set up the backup location, we need to select the folders we want to back up of. To do that, click on the next tab, Files. There are two fields – Include files in folders and Except files in folder. In the first field, you can select the folders of which you want to take back up of. Deja Dup will take backups of all the files inside the folder and those in the sub folders. The second field can be used to exclude sub-folders inside the folders included in the first field from being backed up.

The next step is to decide if you want to do either a manual backup or an automatic backup. Choosing automatic backup means that you have to schedule the backup and select how long Deja Dup holds on to the backup files. For those details and how to restore the files, read the second part of this coming up soon.

Ubuntu Studio Leaves GNOME; Moves To Xfce

In a surprising development, the Ubuntu Studio developers have decided to switch over from GNOME to Xfce.  Ubuntu Studio is an official Ubuntu derivative which is developed mainly for multimedia works. Unlike Ubuntu, it comes installed with a number of applications for video, audio and image editing etc.

In an email to the Ubuntu Studio mailing list, Ubuntu Studio developer Cory K announced that from the next release – that is Ubuntu Studio 11.10 – they will not be using GNOME. Instead of GNOME, they have decided that they will use the light weight Xfce desktop environment. Unity and the GNOME Shell are cited as the result for leaving GNOME. The developers feel that neither Unity nor GNOME Shell is a good choice for their target users.

After various discussions, investigation and tinkering the Ubuntu Studio team have decided to re-base the project on XFCE. The team simple feel that Unity and GNOME-Shell do not fit our target audience or intended workflow.

From the next release, we will see Ubuntu Studio with Xfce with a custom user interface. The new user interface will be based on Avant Windows Manager while keeping Xfce as the base.

The biggest challenge for the Ubuntu Studio developers could be providing a smooth upgrade path for the Ubuntu Studio users when the next release come. Because of the change in the desktop environment, creating a smooth upgrade path from Ubuntu Studio 11.04 to Ubuntu Studio 11.10 is going to be challenging for the developers. Cory K addressed this issue and said that they will ensure a smooth upgrade.

Personally, I feel that the Ubuntu Studio deleopers made the right call. While Unity could be a great idea for normal users, for the target users of Ubuntu Studio, it seems a bit too gimmicky. Besides, the workflow change in Unity and GNOME Shell could be a little challenging to get used to.

source:  Ubuntu Studio Mailing list

The Case Of LibreOffice And CD Space Restriction At UDS-O

Last week, we talked about the constrain of the CD size and the need for Ubuntu to move to a DVD ISO. Well, today at the Default Apps Discussion, something happened which further supports the need to move to a DVD image.

As usual, the disk space is a big constrain for Ubuntu 11.10. Before any new applications or packages are approved, the council has to make sure that there is enough free space to put them. The way to get free space generally is to drop applications and packages that are no longer in use – like PiTiVi and Computer Janitor that had been dropped from Ubuntu 11.10.

Believe it or not, one of the application that was brought up for removal during the Default Apps Discussion was none other the LibreOffice. Yes, LibreOffice the office applications suite. The rationale behind it was that removing LibreOffice will free up some serious disk space (around 60MB) and “we aren’t office workers”. It was suggested that a desktop file that offers to download and install LibreOffice after the OS installation be included.

It is just amazing that there was even a discussion on removing applications as important as LibreOffice just because of the CD space constrain. Common sense, however, prevailed and it was decided that LibreOffice will be kept as a default application in Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”.

This further strengthens the call for Ubuntu to leave the CD image and switch over to a DVD image as soon as possible. While it might be possible for a lot of people to install new applications; in many places where Ubuntu is trying to get a foot hold, proper internet connections are not available to install all the applications needed. Besides, the default applications are what almost all the new users will use.

Read more here.

Video Editor PiTiVi And Computer Janitor Dropped From Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”

At the Ubuntu Developer Summit – Oneiric at Budapest, the Ubuntu developers have decided to drop two applications from the default installation – PiTiVi and Computer Janitor.


PiTiVi is a video editor that was first made a default application in Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”.  Although  PiTiVi had a lot of potential when it was first included, the Ubuntu developers at UDS-O have decided to drop it from the next realease – Ubuntu 11.10 – because it is “poorly maintained”. PiTiVi is a decent video editor but it also has a problem of crashes and is not considered ready for normal users. Another thing that went against PiTiVi is that video editing is not something that a lot of people does.

PiTiVi will still be available in the main Ubuntu repository, though. If you want it, you can install it with:

$ sudo apt-get install pitivi

Computer Janitor

Computer Janitor, as the name implies, is an application for cleaning up the system. It cannot be exactly called a user friendly application – it has a bad user interface and could be  dangerous  for new users. Packages inadvertently removed using Computer Janitor by a new user could break the system. Because of this it has been decided that Computer Janitor will also be removed from Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”.

Like PiTiVi, Computer Janitor will still be available in the main repository for anyone who want it. It can be installed with the command:

$ sudo apt-get install computer-janitor  computer-janitor-gtk

You can get more details of the discussion from the meeting notes.

LightDM To Replace GDM And Dialog Sheets To Make An Appearance In Ubuntu 11.10

As you are probably aware, the Ubuntu Developer Summit – Oneiric is going on in Budapest to decide on the different aspects of Ubuntu 11.10. We have already had a lot of interesting news from USD such as Deja Dup being accepted and Thunderbird almost certainly replacing Evolution.

Well, the excitement has not ended. Here are some more details of the changes coming in Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”:

LightDM Will Replace GDM

The GDM (GNOME Display Manager) is the first thing that greets you when you boot into Ubuntu. It provides the login screen and the option to select different users, sessions etc. In Ubuntu 11.10, GDM will be replaced by a lighter display manager, which is rather unsurprisingly called LightDM.

LightDM provides a lot of improvements over GDM:

  • It has all the features that GDM supports.
  • It has a much smaller codebase. LightDM has 5000 lines of code while GDM is composed of 50,000. This makes LightDM easier to maintain.
  • LightDM is much faster than GDM. GDM requires the GNOME session to start, while LightDM does not have any such requirements.
  • LightDM supports more theming  capabilities  compared to GDM.
  • LightDM is independent of the desktop environment and can be used with GNOME, KDE, Xfce etc.

Here is a mockup of a login screen made using LightDM:

Dialog Sheet instead of Dialog Box

A dialog sheet is basically a dialog box which is attached to its parent window. It is used in both OS X and recently introduced in GNOME 3 as well. With Ubuntu 11.10 adopting GNOME 3, Ubuntu 11.10 will also have the dialog sheet. (Note: Ubuntu 11.10 is using GNOME 3 only, not the GNOME Shell. Unity will still be used in Ubuntu 11.10.)

The beauty of the dialog sheet is that, unlike dialog box, it cannot get lost among a number of Windows. In Ubuntu, though, it will be called Slate Style Dialog.

Here is an example of a Dialog Sheet:

[sources: Digitizor, OMG!UBUNTU!]

Thunderbird Could Become The Default Email Client In Ubuntu 11.10

Today at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, there was a discussion on which application should be shipped as the default email client with Ubuntu 11.10. So far Ubuntu has been shipping with Evolution as the default email client.  Of late, there has been a growing number of people who are not pleased with Evolution and instead asking for Ubuntu to ship with Thunderbird. So, basically the discussion was to decide between Evolution and Thunderbird.

Being a part of GNOME, Evolution integrates very well with the GNOME desktop. But it suffers from several flaws such as an outdated and confusing user interface. Evolution is also fairly slow compared to other email clients.

Thunderbird has a fairly modern tab-based  interface. It is quite fast compared to Evolution and has a lot of extensions to extend its functionalities. However, Thunderbird still has a few critical problems. Thunderbird does not have calender support (although there is an extension for that) and does not integrate well with the GNOME desktop. Another problem for Thunderbird is that it does not work with Microsoft Exchange. Microsoft Exchange support is particularly important as a lot of  businesses  uses it.

Because of these shortcomings of Thunderbird, it has been decided that Thunderbird will become the default email client in Ubuntu 11.10 if these issues are fixed. For now though, development for Ubuntu 11.10 will go ahead with Evolution.

However, work is already going on with Thunderbird to address these issues. Thunderbird is being integrated into Unity and it is getting contact sync with Ubuntu One as well.

You can view the notes from the discussion here.

Lubuntu Accepted As An Official Ubuntu Derivative

The flexibility of Ubuntu (and Linux in general) means that it not very difficult to create derivatives from it – and there a number of derivatives. Ubuntu derivatives could be created for a specific function or created with different desktop environment. To receive support from Canonical, though, the derivative has to be officially recognized by them.

Lubuntu is one such derivative. Lubuntu is based on the Ubuntu but instead of Unity/GNOME, it uses a very light weight desktop environment – LXDE. Ever since the project was started Lubuntu has been quite popular compared to the other non-official derivatives. In fact, during the Maverick Meerkat release cycle, it was considered a very strong contender to receive the official status but missed out at the end.

Today, Lubuntu has been finally accepted as an official Ubuntu derivative. Getting the official status means a lot of things for Lubuntu:

  • Lubuntu packages will be available in the main Ubuntu repository.
  • Users will be able to install Lubuntu over Ubuntu or other derivatives without adding extra repositories.
  • Lubuntu will follow the Ubuntu development cycle.
  • Most importantly, it means that Lubuntu will get more exposure as an official derivative.

The decision was taken at the Ubuntu Developer Summit but no official announcement has been made yet. You can see details of the discussion here.

The addition of Lubuntu brings the total number of official derivatives to six. The other official derivatives are Kubuntu, Xubuntu. Edubuntu, Mythbuntu and Ubuntu Studio.


Deja Dup To Be Included By Default In Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”

We had reported earlier that the backup tool, Deja Dup, has a very strong possibility of being included by default in Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”. In the GNOME mailing list, Deja Dup developer, Michael Terry, has announced that it has been included by default in Ubuntu 11.10.

Michael Terry made the announcement while applying for Deja Dup to be included as part of GNOME. This is what his message said:

Here’s a quick thousand foot view:

  • Homepage here:
  • It’s a backup program aimed at non-technical users.
  • It’s a graphical wrapper and policy manager for the backup program duplicity.
  • It’s included by default in Fedora 13 on and will be default in Ubuntu 11.10.
  • It follows the GNOME schedule and best practices already.

The inclusion of Deja Dup in Ubuntu 11.10 is a very good move by the Ubuntu developers. With so much importance being placed on data, a simple backup tool which just works for everyone is a very essential application.  Although accepted, Deja Dup is not yet ready for Ubuntu 11.10. It will have to support Ubuntu One and the CD size issue that we had talked about extensively have to be sorted out first.

Terry also announced some details of the future direction that Deja Dup is taking.  In the next major version (20.0), Deja Dup will be redesigned to make it more invisible and to make it act and look more like a part of the operating system rather than a  separate  application.

You can view screenshots of Deja Dup here.

[source GNOME mailing list, via WebUpd8]

Is It Time For Ubuntu To Switch To A DVD ISO?

Ever since its first release, Ubuntu has always been released as a CD image. Back in 2004, the year when the first version of Ubuntu was released, CDs were the dominant medium and computers had CD drives. DVDs were just starting to take off at the time. So, back then distributing Ubuntu as a CD image made sense.

Seven years later, Ubuntu is still being distributed as a CD image. Nowadays, with every Ubuntu release the 700MB limit of a CD is becoming a major talking point. The CD size restriction has become a major factor in deciding if an application should be installed by default or not. The addition of new features with every Ubuntu release is constantly pushing the 700MB to its limit and has resulted in popular applications, such as GIMP, being dropped from the list of applications installed by default to make room for other stuffs.

In the Ubuntu Developer Summit for Ubuntu 11.10, the 700MB limit has again become a major point of consideration. The decision to have applications such as Deja Dup is currently being deferred until the CD size issue has been sorted. And in Ubuntu 11.10, a lot of new stuffs are being added – stuff such as Qt, GNOME 3, Unity 2D, Python 3 etc. The new additions being considers requires around 13-18 MB of space. The Ubuntu image has already been packed to the maximum and that much space is not available. To make the space required for these new packages, other packages will have to be dropped.

Nowadays, DVDs are very common and it will be hard to buy a new laptop which has only a CD reader and no DVD reader. A computer that supports only CD and does not support USB boot will have problems running Ubuntu anyway. So, the problem that they faced seven years ago is no longer there. So why is Ubuntu still being distributed as a CD image? Frankly, I am not sure. As I have mentioned above, the developers have managed to keep the image limited to 700MB by dropping some packages to make room for new ones. It will not be possible to keep up with this size restriction forever. Sooner or later, they have to adopt another approach.

Another approach being considered that addresses this problem without switching to a DVD image is having two CD images – a basic installer and another which contains the other extra applications. The drawback of this approach is that it is messy. Having two installation media unnecessarily complicates the installation process.

If Ubuntu were to switch to a DVD image, all these problems about deciding which packages to drop would become non-existent. It would also mean that useful applications which deserve to be installed by default, such as GIMP, Deja Dup, can be installed by default. The fact that we now have 4.2 GB does not necessarily mean that the image has to be made 4.2 GB. It simply means that the 700 MB which decides if an application can be included is no longer there.

A bigger installation media would mean that there will be less dependence on the internet to download dependencies and a better collection of useful applications from the start which translates to a better user experience. They have to switch to a DVD ISO sometime, there is no reason why it cannot be done with Ubuntu 11.10.

[image credit]

Lenovo And Canonical Collaborate To Provide Ubuntu Certified Systems

Yesterday, Canonical founder, Mark Shuttleworth, announced that Canonical is aiming for 200 million Ubuntu users in four years. When he made the announcement, many believed that such a number will not be possible unless Canonical partners with OEMs.

Today, taking a step in that direction, Canonical and Lenovo has announced a collaboration to provide Ubuntu certified Lenovo products such as laptops, desktops and servers. The collaboration between the two companies will mean that users who are buying Lenovo systems can be assured that Ubuntu will work properly on their system.

Canonical has already given the Ubuntu certification to around 30 Lenovo systems. Right now Canonical certifies systems for Ubuntu 11.04, 10.10 and 10.04. With the partnership, it is expected that the number of Ubuntu certified Lenovo systems will increase. Announcing the collaboration, Canonical made the following statement:

Having hardware certified through Canonical provides consumers and corporate user the assurance of a high quality, user-friendly, maintainable operating system on every device. The key benefits of combining Ubuntu with Lenovo Thinkpads is the hassle free operation and a fast reliable performance.

Such collaboration might be just what Ubuntu need. One of the main problem that I see with Ubuntu nowadays is that it does not work well out-of-the-box with certain hardware. For example, with my laptop, Ubuntu 11.04 does not work out-of-the-box. When a new Ubuntu installation does not work out-of-the-box, most of the normal users will not waste their time trying to get the system working and would instead shift to Windows. For this reason, Ubuntu certification might be the next best thing to buying the system with Ubuntu pre-installed. With an Ubuntu certified system, users can be assured that their hardware will work without problems when they install Ubuntu.

You can see the list of Ubuntu certified Lenovo systems here.