Installing Ubuntu Phone (Touch) on Nexus 7 LTE

ubuntu phone

Add SDK repository

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-sdk-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-device-flash

Enable USB Debugging on the device

  1. Make sure you have developer mode enabled (see if you are unsure).
  2. Navigate to Settings > Developer options
  3. Enable USB Debugging. When a device is connected, you will be prompted in Android to authorize it.

Unlock Bootloader

adb reboot bootloader
fastboot oem unlock
fastboot reboot

Check that you have the right device

adb shell grep /system/build.prop > mydevicedata \
&& adb shell grep ro.product.device /system/build.prop >> mydevicedata \
&& adb shell grep /system/build.prop >> mydevicedata

Check which channels are available

ubuntu-device-flash --server="" query --list-channels --device=deb

ubuntu-device-flash –server=”” query –list-channels –device=deb
ubuntu-touch/devel (alias to ubuntu-touch/vivid)
ubuntu-touch/devel-proposed (alias to ubuntu-touch/vivid-proposed)
ubuntu-touch/ubuntu-rtm/devel (alias to ubuntu-touch/ubuntu-rtm/14.09)
ubuntu-touch/ubuntu-rtm/devel-proposed (alias to ubuntu-touch/ubuntu-rtm/14.09-proposed)

In my case I am going for the currently stable ‘ubuntu-touch/vivid’ channel.

Install Ubuntu Touch

ubuntu-device-flash --server="" touch --channel="ubuntu-touch/vivid" --bootstrap

Ubuntu Devices:

Finding a private location check-in service

Foursquare decided that it was too hard for them to compete with location services like Yelp and split their app into two separate apps. Whilst that might make sense to the 4Square CEO and his VC masters, it makes no sense from a users perspective. Foursquare can be a bit of a battery hog already, and having 2 apps to open and “annoy” you with notifications is not an improvement by any means. And if I wanted Foursquare to be Yelp – I would have used Yelp in the first place. So no – I do not want to install another separate check-in App (called Swarm). One battery hogging location app was enough.

no checkins here by leogaggl, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  leogaggl 

The other argument used by 4Square’s CEO is that he didn’t want users confused about the “gamification” aspects of 4Square. I personally think that this is highly patronising to the Foursquare user base. I am sure most users would be able to work out what it is useful for.

Since I have always used 4Square mainly as a means to get some analytics of my movements and historic record of where I was at what time (I always downloaded my checkins to Thinkup on my own server) I was trying to find something that would fit the same use case. Meet Ushahidi ( – an excellent geo-coded “reporting” service developed in Kenya. I have been following this project for years already.

Dynamic Timeline

Track your reports on the map and over time, filter your data by time, and see when things happened and where.

Interactive Mapping

One of the most powerful ways to visualize information is to display it on a map. The Ushahidi platform give you rich information mapping tools.

Multiple Data Streams

The Ushahidi Platform allows you to easily collect information via text messages, email, twitter and web-forms.

Free & Open Source

The Ushahidi Platform is free for you to download and use. It is released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

Installation information for your own Ushahidi Server can be found on GitHub – or you can use their hosted service called Crowdmap.

Whilst this is obviously not an option for everybody it works for me. I will miss some the social aspect of 4Square as I had a small number of people I was sharing my check-ins with and it did bring about some by-chance meetups & conversation about other people’s check-ins. But the Ushahidi instance can be shared between multiple people. Maybe some will come along for the ride.

So long Foursquare – it was nice while it lasted ! If you treat your users like sheep – all you will be left with is sheep…

And for those who want to delete their Foursquare account:

Turning the Toshiba Z830 into a Ubuntu Ultrabook


EDIT: Here are some tweaks if you install 12.04 (Precise Pangolin).

Since I will have to do a fair amount of traveling in the next year I was in need of upgrading my trusted workhorse of Toshiba Qosmio F60 to a more portable option that will be easier on the shoulders during long travels. After doing some research into which of the major manufacturers offer the best support for a Linux based Operating System it came down to a final two: the Intel i7 variants of Samsung Series 9 and the Toshiba Z830.

Thanks to these sites for some useful content:

In the end it came down to Toshiba having full-size VGA, HDMI and Ethernet connectors at the rear of the unit (no need for carrying adapters) and getting a very decent price rebate for the Toshiba.

The first and only task in the included Windows 7 OS was to create a recovery USB drive using the Toshiba included utility (on the desktop). You need a 12GB USB stick (found out the hard way after buying an 8GB version with the unit on advice of the sales guy).

After booting from a USB stick created from the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO ( with Ubuntu Bootdisk Creator (or alternatively UnetBootin) I opted to wipe the whole SSD drive. If you are not sure that you want to stick with Ubuntu it might be safer to try running from USB or dual-boot.

Note: you need to use the USB3 connector on the right-hand side of the machine to boot (not the rear USB2 connectors). Press the F-12 Function key when turning the unit off and choose the USB Boot option.

It always gives me strange pleasure to wipe a pristine new machine from all the rubbish that manufacturers pre-install and start with a clean system that I can customise to my needs (without having redundant stuff cluttering the system and waste valuable resources).  So enjoy that part ;-)

toshy ultrabook

The Oneiric Ocelot (11.10) installation was extremely smooth. As predicted by the previous research all the hardware was detected automatically. Even Bluetooth and Toshiba Function keys (screen brightness and display switching) work without any tweaking.

I am currently looking into some SSD specific tweaks thanks to this article on ZDNET. I will post future updates on further experiences when it comes to battery-life and other day-2-day issues.

Update: I have made a tweak to improve disk I/O parameters to improve SSD performance

Disable the ‘elevator’ I/O scheduler in the kernel by editing the default Grub config (/etc/default/grub)

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash elevator=noop"

Looks like this unit is definitely a good option for people looking for Ubuntu Notebook / Ultrabook hardware. Well done Toshiba ! Now I just want a refund for the wasted Windows license….

Enjoy your OPEN Ultrabook !

Alternatives to Google Adsense

Due to a recent absolute Customer Service failure with Google Adsense I have done some research on the alternative to Google Adsense as a content-sensitive mobile and web advertisements.

We are currently reviewing the following services:

Once we have some results I will update this post. Please add your comments should you have any (good or bad) experiences with similar services.

Hat tip goes to the following listing pages to get started:

GoogleApps (Gmail) as default Ubuntu mail client

Keeping mail on a local machine does not make sense when working across a large number of different (vitual) devices. As a GoogleApps user I have long preferred browser based mail client as my default.

Unfortunately this is not yet a very straight process on most Operating Systems and Ubuntu is no difference.

Edit: all the commands need to be run with root privileges. so either run “sudo su” or prefix all with “sudo ” (thanks to Paul for the comment below)

Remove Evolution (thanks to Grant Likely for the comment below)

apt-get remove evolution evolution-indicator

Install Gnome-Gmail

apt-get install gnome-gmail

Create entry for gnome-gmail using your preferred text editor and copy the following into the created file:

vim /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/gnome-gmail
#insert this line

Edit this file: /usr/share/applications/gnome-gmail.desktop and add the following line:


Update desktop database for Gnome Gmail to be recognised as an email program:


Go to System Settings –> Preferred Applications and choose gnome-gmail as the default e-mail client

Log out for the changes to the indicator to take effect (or kill gnome-indicator process).

Desktop Notifications

Ubuntu – the ‘old man’ experiment

Recently my father, who has so far not wanted to have anything to do with computers, decided to change all of this with age 67. While initially surprised (and remembering the comments I got when sitting in front of computers as a teenager instead of working on the family farm), I quite liked the idea. It’s a great to see him still wanting to explore and learn new things.

Unfortunately since there is approximately 17.000km between us, there was a limited amount I could do to help him get set up. So my eldest sister (as she always has to do) ended up having to help out instead. Finding hardware was the easy part and very cheap these days (and since it was bought online I could help with the technical aspects). However the machines in that particular shop came as white-boxes without an Operating System (which is a good thing in my book).

So rather than forking out another 90 or so Euro for Windows Vista, which I personally dislike with a passion, I suggested her to download Ubuntu and give it a try. If things did not work out you could always get it later. While I personally have a very pragmatic approach to OS selection and no particular ‘religious’ views when it comes to Linux, I do generally choose an Open Source alternative over a Proprietary system all other things being equal. I was a bit worried about people not being familiar with it, but in the case of my father he has never had any experience with computers so did not have any Windows ‘baggage’. And his usage would mainly be for Internet access, e-mail and maybe some comms (Skype and similar).

But the ease of setting up the whole system surprised even myself. My sister only had one problem with the whole install. She burned the downloaded ISO file to CD (as .iso) rather than using some burning software to convert the ISO to a CD image. The rest was smooth sailing and did not even involve any intercontinental phone calls to myself. When it came to connecting the machine to the Internet I got a call asking me what she needed to do to access the net. When I replied if she had already tried to open the browser I was told ‘no’. When she opened Firefox everything was already working.

As a result of this she is now converting her old computer (which she has unsuccessfully tried to re-install WindowsXP for months because of driver problems) to Ubuntu

The 90 Euros saved on the Operating System will go to a webcam and some peripherals so the grandkids in Australia can hopefully see Opa more often.