Using Blackboard Collaborate (Elluminate) on Ubuntu

Like it or not (personally I am in the second category) Blackboard Collaborate or Elluminate (as it is still more commonly referred to) is something you have a hard time avoiding if you work in online education. I discovered that I have audio issues on some Ubuntu Linux machines and found the following to fix the issues. 1) Install alsa-aoss apt-get install alsa-oss 2) Save the Elluminate Java Webstard (.JNLP) file to a local folder - DO NOT OPEN IN BROWSER 3) Launch Elluminate using this command (in the folder you saved the JNLP) aoss javaws meeting.jnlp Thanks go to all people involved in this forum thread: EDIT: 1) This assumes you are already running Sun (Oracle) Java JRE not the default OpenJDK as apparently Blackboard Collaborate does not play nice with the default OpenJDK. I have described the install on 11.10 here. 2) Make sure you have updated the alternatives for javaws (install only sets the java alternatives). update-alternatives --config javaws    

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Ubuntu – create manual application launcher (Unity)

With every new release of Ubuntu I am becoming more resigned to the fact that the effort to revert back to the Ubuntu Classic (Gnome 2) interface is getting harder and sooner or later I will have to bite the bullet and learn to live with the ugly and more cumbersome Unity interface (specially since Gnome 3 seems to be even worse). One of the first issues I found is that there seems to be no easy way to manually add programs to the "Launcher" (as well as to the applications list). After some digging everything seems to be still via .desktop files in /usr/share/applications/ 1) Create the desktop file vim /usr/share/applications/eclipse.desktop 2) Copy the following into the file (Note: adjust application name and path) [Desktop Entry] Version=1.0 Type=Application Terminal=false StartupNotify=true Icon=/path/to/application/icon.xpm Name=Eclipse Comment=Programming IDE Exec=env UBUNTU_MENUPROXY=0 /path/to/application/eclipse Categories=Application;Development; 3) Update the desktop database update-desktop-database UPDATE: According to this article: the Ubuntu developers have confirmed some more reconfigurability in future releases.

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Installing Java6 JDK on Ubuntu 11.10

UPDATE: To install on 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) you need a different PPA. Since sun-java6-jdk has been removed from the default Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) repositories you need to add a PPA repository (unless you want to install by hand) sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ferramroberto/java sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin

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Export Delicious Bookmarks in XML

After the recent takeover of Delicious from Yahoo Inc by Avos and the subsequent total screw-up of what was a workable system I have been struggling to export bookmarks from Delicious in XML format (since the API is badly broken). The API export of all bookmarks limits the export to 1000 bookmark entries. Which is fine if you have less than 1000 bookmarks stored. But it makes it impossible (since there is no paging functionality exposed by the API) to export the rest should you have more (and many people would have much more than that). After two weeks worth of helpdesk emails from Avos I got this (which does not sound very comforting that these guys well ever get it sorted): -------------------------------------------- Although we have several engineers, the main guy dealing with API coding has been out with the Flu so progress on this issue is slow. Ever since our launch last week all our engineers have been working and pushing really hard trying to fix bugs so hopefully we can get to this issue soon. We have a community based thread going on at If you post this up, one of the engineers or other users may be able to chime in. Hope that helps for now. Sorry for any inconveniences. -------------------------------------------- NOTE: if you only need a simple HTML export go here:   After some digging I found the IP Addresses of the OLD DELICIOUS SERVERS (on Yahoo - which luckily are still live ! -…

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Back up Google Apps Mail using getmail4 + IMAP

Just a quick note on how to configure backups of Google Apps email to a local machine. Install getmail apt-get install getmail4 create config directory Create a subdirectory in users home folder (and change permissions) mkdir .getmail touch .getmail create config file Create a file such as .getmail/ [retriever] type = SimpleIMAPSSLRetriever server = username = username@domain.tld password = password mailboxes = ("[Gmail]/All Mail",) [destination] type = Maildir path = /path/to/storage/directory/ [options] # print messages about each action (verbose = 2) # Other options: # 0 prints only warnings and errors # 1 prints messages about retrieving and deleting messages only verbose = 1 message_log = ~/.getmail/gmail.log create data directories for storage Create 3 sub-directories in your designated data directory mkdir cur new tmp run getmail getmail -r Whilst this is more a 'note to self' rather than actual documentation - maybe it's of use to somebody. Thanks go to Matt Cutts: for the start.

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OpenSource e-book creation

After recently researching the available software for e-book creation for some of our clients (in the education sector) I came across quite a number of options.  However after some further look into the option and trying some I was able narrowed the field down to 2 options that seem to be reasonably user-friendly and matured. The two are using a very different approach and will suit different types of users. One is a native e-book writer which will give better low-level control for the more technical types. The other is a plugin to the popular OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) Office Suites. by goXunuReviews SIGIL - a native e-book creator Sigil comes with installers for Linux, Windows and MacOS ( Installation on Linux : wget chmod +x Sigil-0.4.2-Linux-x86_64-Setup.bin ./Sigil-0.4.2-Linux-x86_64-Setup.bin (64 bit install - change appropriate download file if on i386) Writer2ePub - OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) Plugin Users of LibreOffice or OpenOffice might prefer a plugin to there text processing software rather than a native solution. The installation is very easy - just download the extension ( and double-click the downloaded file. Extension install: Don't forget to restart Writer after the install. After the restart you should see new buttons in the toolbar. Hope this helps somebody.

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Running your business (mostly) on Open Source Software

The release of the latest Ubuntu Version has been seen by a number of commentators as the most end-user friendly yet and signals another milestone in the readiness of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for more widespread (and business) use. As a long-term user of a number of different Operating Systems and as SME Owner for the last 15 years I have overseen the gradual replacement of a number of proprietary software solutions with FOSS Alternatives. With the beginning of the new financial year however, we are planning to go another step further and are starting to change our default Operating System to Ubuntu (from MS Windows). It is worth pointing out that I don't have an issue with paying for software (after all we are partly in the software development business). We also happily pay quite a number of SaaS suppliers for their services (see list below) and support. My main issue is why I should pay license fees for standard software (i.e. Office Productivity Tools) when there is so many excellent community developed products out there that do the same (in some instances better, in some instances just adequate) job ? It is hard enough running a small business in the current climate. One major benefit of changing over to a web-based (FOSS) approach to our back-end systems has been the ability to operate from anywhere. This has dramatically increased productivity for myself as well as staff being able to work from home more often. This is…

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Installing Ubuntu: Extending the HP Touchpad

As one of those who grabbed a HP Touchpad at the recent firesale (after announcing the killing of the product line) I did it as in full knowledge that this device in it's current form is of limited use and (highly) unlikely to have lots of additional applications created for it. After casually using it for a few nights of use I am personally not surprised that HP decided to ditch this product. Compared to the current Tablet leaders the Touchpad is miles behind both Android and iOS and HP would have had to spend  serious money to even get close to the current functionality of the competition. And you can take a bet that both of these will not remain static. I was actually hoping that WebOS can be a serious competitor to the current duopoly, but after using this thing I have to say that it is not even close. However I still think the AUD149 I spent for the 32GB model are actually well spent. Since WebOS has always been a very open platform built on a Linux base I knew it would not be a major effort to run other Open Source OS's on this device. There is already a whole bunch of people working on a full Android port (see TouchDroid and XDA Devs). But since I already have an Android Tab (Samsung Galaxy Tab 7'') I am more interested in other alternatives at this stage. As a current Ubuntu user I started looking around and after comparing…

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Open Source Content Management Comparison

This is an interesting info-graphic comparing the 3 most popular OpenSource Content Management Systems. While I don't really agree with some of the metrics (such as the web-service stats) it is never the less a very good visual overview. As a long-term user of Wordpress and Drupal there are some good points to give a quick overview.

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VoIP client for Ubuntu II

After upgrading to Ubuntu 11 (Natty) I did some further research on VoIP clients (SIP) for Ubuntu Linux as XLite seems horribly out of date now. I came across QuteCom (formerly WengoPhone) and from first testing it seems to work quite well. The install is easy as it's part of the Ubuntu Community Software (Universe) and that means it can be installed via apt-get, Software Center or Synaptic. So far the early testing has been very positive and the interface seems quite workable as well as having a number of other instant messaging options available.

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