Some ramblings and write-ups about tech, music, travelling and other topics.

Ubuntu 11.04


So I've recently updated the Ubuntu installation on my laptop to 11.04 (Natty) and I'm starting to come to terms with the new Unity interface. I think I might like it, mostly because it is very similar to how I've set up my Mac, though I've not used it in anger (ie for work) just yet, so we'll see if I change my mind. One thing I have discovered though is it's actually quite hard to change any of the Unity settings. I couldn't find any configuration or preference applications anywhere, and right clicking on certain locations doesn't bring up a menu from which you can select "Preferences" or similar. Unity is actually a Compiz plugin from what I can see so accordingly, you need to configure it like you would other Compiz features... 1. Install CompizConfig Settings Manager if it's not installed already:
$ sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
2. Use Unity to find and launch the CompizConfig Settings Manager (super+a and search for Compiz) 3. Select "Desktop" in the left column and "Ubuntu Unity Plugin" on the right

Login Screen

Update: actually, instead of trying to get slim to work on 11.04, it's easier to use Ubuntu Tweak. Since Ubuntu 9.10, installing new login screen themes or changing the login window appearances is not as easy as before. There’s no powerful GDM login manager do change login appearances as you like. So I dug around and found an alternative login manager for X11 called SLiM.  It's desktop-independent and completely configurable through themes and an option file; is suitable for machines on which remote login functionalities are not needed. It can instead GDM to customize your own login screen appearances.


Run the command in Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal:
sudo apt-get install slim
while installation, it asks for choosing a login manager between GDM and SLiM, just choose SLiM. If you change your mind and want to change the default login manager back to GDM, run:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm

Customize a login theme

You can download a SLiM login theme from Or create a theme (read
  • a background image (background.png or background.jpg)
  • a panel image (panel.png or panel.jpg)
  • input box(es) and messages and their placement and properties (slim.theme)
Now, let’s change the login theme:
  1. Put the downloaded/created theme under /usr/share/slim/themes
  2. Edit /etc/slim.conf
# current theme, use comma separated list to specify a set to
# randomly choose from
current_theme debian-moreblue-orbit
To select a random a theme, replace the theme name with couple themes separated with “,”(without quotes). To Preview the theme:
slim -p /usr/share/slim/themes/NAME

Craftheads, Shibuya

image A few weeks ago I went to this cozy pub in Shibuya called Craftheads. Nice selection of ales and fruit beers, mostly exclusively imported. Nice atmosphere, good food, although the price was little bit costly for the casual Friday night drinking.


Detach subdirectory into a separate Git repository

  • git

When you are working with Git repositories, sometimes you want to separate out a folder into its own repository, removing it from history in the parent repository, but keeping history for the folder in the newly create repository. Here are the steps.

VirtualBox – Shrink VDI images

Often when you install a VM in virtualbox you’ll notice that initial size of the VM image would be more or less equal to the disk space actually used in the VM. However with time, as you play around, you will find that the size of VM image would always keep on increasing. The disk space actually used would be far lesser than the VM image size. We would try to compress the VM image to the space actually used up inside the VM. Pre-condition – The image that we are going to shrink should have been dynamically expanding type, when you created the disk very first time. This is explained for a windows VM. Theoretically should work on other VMs also. Ok, Lets get started. We’ll need the following tools: 1. : This tool zeroes out free space, which our next tool compresses. For Linux based OS, search for a file, zerospace.c, which you’ll have to compile yourself. 2. VBoxManage : This tool is the command line management tool that ships with VirtualBox. Whatever you can do with the GUI, can be done by this. + A lot more :) Ok now. 1. First boot into your VM. Defragment your drive atleast 2 times. 2. Copy the tool, nullfile mentioned above to the VM and run it. A simple double click should do it. 3. Now shutdown the guest. Open a terminal in the VM image directory. Most probably /home/<user_name>/.VirtualBox/VDI 2. Run our final command, We would be done after this. VBoxManage modifyvdi <file_path> compact