Ubuntu 16.04 MATE: Plank and Tilda

Plank and Tilda are two already installed software programs on Ubuntu 16.04 MATE. As with a lot of programs that come already installed on any Linux distro, there are those that love em, and those that hate em. I tend to try whatever comes installed and see if it is better or worse than what I have been using, and then make a decision about using it or not. In this case I found a use for both, and really like one of them.

Plank

I did a little research on plank before firing it up. I have used desktop docks in the past and while I found them cute and somewhat useful, I didn’t really like running compiz. There was just entirely too much fiddling with it to suit my taste. Plank however can run with MATE using the less aggressive Marco compositor.

Plank is an easy way to get rid of one panel in MATE and make your desktop look a little nicer. It can be run at start up by adding it to your start up applications in the Control Center. The command is simply: plank. I had a bit of a problem adding program icons to it, with the older docks you just dragged and dropped the icon in the dock. Plank works a little differently, Just open the program from your menu and the icon will show up in the dock. Then right click on the icon and check: Keep in dock. Preferences can be set by right clicking on the bluish anchor icon in the dock and selecting preferences.

Tilda

Tilda is a drop down terminal that I really just stumbled across. I hit F12 and a terminal just appeared on my screen. I thought I had hit the wrong key so I hit F11 and holy cow, it blew it up to full screen. I sat there saying what was that. Once I got my tongue back in my mouth and that mouth closed, I hit Google to see what was going on. That’s when I found T. I wasn’t impressed…at first.

I just couldn’t get it to configure correctly, and I still don’t have transparency but, it turns out to be a solid, quick and efficient way to do those quick terminal chores without having to open a new terminal or tab. After getting it setup the best I could for my use, I find myself using it at every session at the computer. It’s a quick and easy way to use a terminal. There’s a screen shot below and as always Happy Computing!

 

Screenshot at 2016-08-18 14:38:09

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Screen, Weechat and ssh

If you are big on using the Internet chat rooms and don’t want to miss out on anything, you either have to leave your chat client gui running all the time, or you can do as I do and use screen. Screen is a utility that allows you to run a program continuously, but in the background. That means you don’t have to leave the gui running constantly.

To do this, first make sure screen is installed on the computer. Then open a terminal and type: screen. Didn’t notice much difference, that is because it looks the same as a running terminal. Now enter the command to launch your chat room client, in my case it’s: weechat-curses. If everything worked correctly you should see you client open up and run just like it normally does.

Go ahead and chat away to your hearts content, but DON’T disconnect as you normal would. That would end the program and screen would be of no use. Instead use the following key combination to “detach” the screen, but leave the program running. Ctrl+a+d. You should now be back to the screen terminal. You can also exit out of it if you want, and you should see just a regular terminal interface.

To resume the existing detached screen is just as easy. Simply open a terminal and type: screen -r and that should restore the previously running chat client. Simple! As long as you use the ctrl+a+d to detach and screen -r the reattach the running program you will always be connected to your favorite channels in irc.

Now comes the fun part. I have my chat program running in screen on my desktop computer, but lots of times I am using my laptop while watching TV or something. So instead of launching another instance of my chat program, I just ssh into my desktop and then use the screen -r command to launch it from my desktop. Major cool! The only thing you have to make sure of is that your screen is detached on your desktop or you won’t be able to reattach it on your secondary machine. More on ssh later and Happy Computing!

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

 

Xenial Xerus is the code name for Ubuntu’s  16.04 LTS release. LTS stands for Long Term Release and includes software and security updates until April of 2021. I’ve been using the Ubuntu OS for at least ten years, and have always found it to be a solid, always improving OS and  16.04 is no exception to that statement.

Installation is exceptionally easy for anyone who has installed any kind of Linux Systems before. For the novice, it always pays to do a lot of research and backing up of their systems before attempting their first installation. Partitioning of the drive is probably the most important and hardest part to get right for any novice, and after you get that correct, the rest of the installation is a breeze.

Post install, check to make sure your Internet connection is live, then update your repos and software. Once that’s done you can start exploring your new operating system, add software and customize it to your own specifications. That’s the beauty of Linux open source systems…you can have it the way you want it.

For me, customizing is about not only making your desktop look great, it’s also about having a computer that does what you need when you need it, and does it at lightening speed. It’s also about having a machine that is secure and safe from all those nasty bugs, viruses, trojans, rootkits, and ransomewares that are out there waiting for the unsuspecting.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS hits a pretty high mark for me. There was some fiddling around, but most stuff just worked, and most of the fiddling was with the config files. I’ll do some post on specific software that really hit a high note for me in the near future. Be sure to check out some of the Ubuntu links in the sidebar and Happy Computing.

Screenshot at 2016-08-14 15:06:22

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