This is pretty neat. A Debian developer is proposing turning Debian Testing into Debian Rolling. Not much would change. Mostly Testing/Rolling would be acknowledged as a viable, distribution in its own right.
I’ve been using Gnome Shell (Gnome 3) exclusively for 2 weeks today, and while I do have a few good words to say about it… today’s the day I’m switching to KDE once and for all.
I’ve yet to play with GNOME 3 or Unity, so I can’t speak to the quality of either, but from what I hear and read around the Linuxsphere, it seems like tons of people are moving to KDE because of GNOME and Unity.
I kind of wonder if some KDE developers managed to infiltrate the GNOME and Unity teams.
I’ve been a little nervous because some people around me have had their Gmail accounts hacked.
I’m not sure if the hackings were preventable, but it was making me slightly nervous.
And then, James Fallows had a series of posts about the hacking of his wife’s Gmail account, complete with tales of other Gmail users losing all of their data after getting their accounts hacked.
And that made me really nervous.
I had been thinking I should backup my Gmail for a while, but the Fallows posts pushed me to finally sit down and do it.
NOTE: I know about the Google two-step verification process, but that just feels like a lot of work, just to check email. Plus, I hate the idea of being locked out of my email if I don’t have my phone with me and I’m not near a landline I registered with Google. Situations like that are probably when I’d want my email most. So for now, it’s off of the table for me.
There are a few ways to approach the backup, but I decided to use POP to download all of my messages. It took a couple of hours to download everything, but other than that, it was a painless process. There are lots of articles and tutorials online about backing up your Gmail, but there weren’t any that gave me a workflow for the entire process, which is why I’m documenting it here:
- Download and install Thunderbird, but don’t configure it
- Enable POP on your Gmail account
- Configure Thunderbird. Thunderbird is great with Gmail. Once you put in your address and password, it’ll set everything up for you. Make sure you tell Thunderbird to use the Gmail POP account, though
- Download all of your email. This will take a while because you can only download it in batches. You can leave Thunderbird to handle this on its own, or you can keep it running in the background while you do something else, and manually get your mail every time it announces it has finished a batch. I chose the latter
- Now that you have all of your mail held locally, you can leave it in Thunderbird. That seemed like a pain to me, though, so I downloaded a Thunderbird plugin (ImportExportTools) that let me export the messages as .eml files. ImportExportTools gives you a number of export format options, but .eml keeps attachments with the files. Plus, it can be read with a text editor.
- Save your email someplace safe and you’re all set! At this point, you can turn off POP in your email and remove Thunderbird, if you’re so inclined.
I’m not sure how easy it would be to work with email in this format, but at least I could search through the files for specific messages I needed. Hopefully, I’ll never need to use this archive, but I feel better knowing that it’s there.
Now I just need to remember to do this at regular intervals. I wish Gmail would let you POP email as of a certain date, so I could just regularly top off my local archive, rather than re-downloading everything.
But the backup process is really pretty simple. Especially now that I know all of the steps to take (and the order in which to take them).
I’ve never tried that but it’s an interesting idea. Let me know if you’re able to make it work.
A nice tour of Natty. I plan to try out Gmusicbrowser. It’s very cool that this runs Xfce 4.8. But I don’t think I’ll update from 10.04 yet.
Unity is getting a lot of attention, but this looks like a fairly impressive Xubuntu release, too. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with Mint Xfce, but this looks much more sophisticated.
Posted for those of us who are a bit burnt out on GNOME 3 and Unity talk.
A nice post on Mint Debian. I’m watching my virtual Xfce Mint Debian box very carefully for breakage, but so far, it’s been a real tiger.
This is another post that’s not exclusively Linux related.
It’s about capturing academic articles across different machines and OSs.
I did a roundup of some citation management tools a few weeks back. Ultimately, I decided to use CiteULike.
Since then, I’ve been using it to keep track of articles and it’s been working pretty well for me.
CiteULike is a bookmarking tool for academic articles. Rather than just capturing URLs, though, it also captures article metadata, allowing you to export your articles into a citation format, like Chicago or MLA. The citations usually need to still be cleaned up, but it’s easier than starting from scratch.
CiteULike also represents a way to organize your articles, allowing users to tag them.
I’ve mostly been using CiteULike for its citation functionality, but it’s also been very helpful in keeping my work organized.
Despite the sick amount of time I spend online, or perhaps because of it, I have trouble reading PDFs on the screen, and most academic articles are PDFs. So my workflow is to skim an article and then, if it seems like it might be useful for what I’m working on, I print it and then capture it in CiteULike. So I have the hard copy to work from and mark up, but the citation online. Plus, if I lose or misplace a printed article, it’s not too hard to find again.
What’s nice about this workflow, though, is that I can grab stuff whenever I’m near a computer, but even if I’m not near a printer. For example, I can find some articles, tag them with “printthis” or something like that, and then, the next time I’m near a printer, I just let them go and re-tag them with something more useful.
And it really pays off when it’s time to export citations. Even though the citations aren’t perfect, they’re easy enough to fix up and work with, saving me time and mental energy.
CiteULike isn’t great about pulling in metadata, so about half of the time, I export citations out of a subscription service as BibTex, a markup language, and then import the BibTex into CiteULike. It’s not as convenient as using a browser button, but it’s easier than crafting a citation by hand. But CiteULike also lets you search other people’s holdings, assuming they’ve made them public, so if someone else already has the metadata imported, you can just copy their work with the click of a button.
CiteULike also lets you upload files to attach to your records, which is a nice way to make sure you don’t lose hard-to-find material if your local computer crashes (although I’m not as conscientious about this as I should be).
CiteULike is very convenient, and because it’s browser-based, I can use it across OSs. There are actually a few cross-platform citation management clients (and quite a few Linux-only ones), but those are only helpful on computers where I have installation privileges. The convenience of CiteULike is that it’s something I have full access to no matter where I’m working.
If you find yourself doing academic research fairly regularly, try CiteULike for your next project. You’ll be shocked how convenient it is having everything in one place. Manila folders full of articles are nice, but virtual folders have their uses, also.
A final note: CiteULike has some recommendation functionality based on articles you capture. I’ve never used it but I do glance at the recommendations from time to time. It seems like a good idea in theory, but it hasn’t been great for me in practice. Maybe it will improve as my database gets bigger.
Wow. This looks really great. I need to find some people to collaborate with!
I’ve been following the conversations around Unity, the new front-end for Ubuntu 11.04.
Ubuntu is really trying to rethink the desktop concept, with an eye toward keyboard-free computing. It’s a bold step, so it’s bound to alienate some people.
I haven’t played with Unity yet, but I have to admit that I am curious. I love Xfce but it’s very much rooted in the “traditional” desktop paradigm. What I like about it, is that it’s very much menu driven, so I can do a lot of selecting, without a lot of clicking and mouse work. It’s almost more of a very powerful file manager than a desktop.
From what I can tell, Unity takes that model a step further. In a lot of ways, it seems like Canonical has crafted an iOS experience for the desktop.
But it’s made me appreciative of the thought Canonical puts into their products. Obviously, not everyone likes the direction they’re going in with GNOME and Unity, but in general, Canonical makes decisions based on what they think is best for the user.
Less and less users grew up with traditional desktops as their only means of computing. There are people who only use desktops for very specific purposes, like typing a paper. Or even just printing one. I actually once witnessed a student come into a computer lab, open up a word processor, and transcribe a paper off of her phone. I’m not sure why she didn’t email it to herself, but I was fascinated that she would compose a paper on a phone before moving to a desktop/laptop.
Canonical seems to be making an effort to make an OS that makes sense to those types of users.
But at the same time, Canonical seems very respectful of the users using the Canonical variants. I’ve been playing with Debian Testing and Mint Xfce and while both are good, neither feels as composed as Xubuntu. Xubuntu does more than just work. It creates a curated Xfce experience, with a lot of thought put into software selection. Debian is a little too hands-off in its software selection for Xfce, allowing the user to choose everthing himself. Mint is basically trying to cram GNOME into Xfce. Both OSs can be fixed by the user, but I like that Xubuntu doesn’t really need to be.
When we talk about Linux distros, we talk about stability and reliability and hardware integration. And those are all important things. But as those factors improve across distributions, user experience becomes more important. I can run any number of Xfce-based distributions and have similar reliability, but I’ll probably stick with Xubuntu because of their software selection. The maintainers think about how Xubuntu users might use the desktop manager and select programs to create a cohesive experience. Obviously, I could choose another distro and simply mimic the Xubuntu defaults, but why add in an extra step if it’s not necessary?
It’s safe to say that Linux now works easily in most (your mileage may vary) situations. So now, the next battle is creating distributions that create a certain kind of user experience. Unity is an attempt to do that. It’ll be interesting to see how non-Linux-inclined people respond to it.