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Sync Tomboy Notes and Zim in Dropbox

Tomboy Notes is a multi-platform application, so keeping your notes synced with Dropbox is handy for obvious reasons.

Luckily it’s dead easy to do: enter Preferences (either by opening up Tomboy and clicking Edit -> Preferences, or if you’ve got it on your GNOME panel, right-click the icon) and select the “Synchronization” tab. Choose the “Local Folder” service and find your Dropbox, which is inside your home folder by default. Inside of Dropbox, make a new folder for the Tomboy Notes database, and select that folder.

Dropbox acts like any other directory on your computer, so when Tomboy syncs itself to your Dropbox, Dropbox automatically syncs that database across all the computers you have it installed on. Now you can access your notes anywhere!

As for Zim, syncing is even easier, and gives you more benefits. When you start a new wiki, just remember to save it somewhere in your Dropbox folder – that’s it. If you’ve got a wiki you’ve already started and want that synced instead, you need only move the folder you saved it as (remember, Zim wikis are saved as folders, not files) to your Dropbox. You’ll have to tell Zim where it is next time you start the program, of course.

Beyond file synchronization, saving Zim to your Dropbox has another two little bonuses: if you login to dropbox.com and navigate to the place where you’ve saved a Zim wiki, you’ll find you’ll be able to actually read your Zim notes anywhere, regardless of whether Dropbox is installed or not! Since they’re stored as plaintext, you could also edit them without Dropbox or Zim by downloading and re-uploading the file.

As for the other extra feature, if you’ve worked with wikis at all you probably know most give you the ability to revert changes or view the history of an article. Zim doesn’t come with that functionality – which is understandable, as storing every revision of an article can clutter up a folder right quick. But Dropbox will give you a similar feature:

It is what it looks like, folks. Wiki history, brought to you by Dropbox, accessible from your own file browser.

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How Ubuntu didn’t destroy my MacBook

This time, anyway.

In the past few days I’ve bitten the bullet and installed Linux on my primary machine. Before I’d only been dipping my toe in Ubuntu (and its close friend, Linux Mint) by way of virtual machines. But now I’m positively swimming in it. Swimming, and only occasionally treading water.

Why was I so hesitant to install Ubuntu? My reasons are as follows:

  1. Lazy.
  2. Too chicken.
  3. Pretty sure I’ve seen “triple-booting” listed as a symptom of madness.

But most importantly: 4. Last time I tried that, Ubuntu possessed my MacBook and transmuted it into something demonic.

The Ubuntu of yesteryear

When Linux was still – to me at least – new (and, well, not shiny) I decided to install Ubuntu on my MacBook. This was Ubuntu 8.04 or 8.10, I’m not sure which. Either way it was a huge mistake.

The screen was squished, the mouse impossible to use, and the brightness totally unadjustable. The wireless card was a hopeless case, and the graphics drivers even more so. I think I remember the fans not working, either, though that might be the memory’s tendency to dramatize. It was, in short, a disaster, turning a once-tolerable laptop into a blindingly bright and blisteringly hot deathbox.

Since the incident, I’ve been far more cautious about what I install Ubuntu on. This may seem a strange idea to some people, especially those new to Linux. “What, you don’t install it on every machine you touch?” I hear you asking. No. It’s unstable, it’s dangerous, and above all it is ugly.

There, I said it. I like brown, but really – too much brown.

But then Ubuntu 10.04 happened.

The Ubuntu of today

Knowing full well what I was getting into (this is always a lie when it comes to computers) I had my MacBook hooked up to an external monitor, an external mouse, an external keyboard, and an external drive. If there were any chances being taken, they weren’t here.

And then it worked beautifully. That’s probably some kind of irony, but I was too busy wondering what the hell just happened to categorize it.

Out-of-the-box: Touchpad support, button support, graphics support. It took only the installation of one single other package to be able to adjust brightness. There aren’t any fan problems, the wireless card worked after plugging my MacBook directly into a router and downloading the drivers (System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers). It is mind-blowing. (Oh, and it looks like a real operating system these days, so that’s always a plus.)

So what I’m saying here is this: if you have a MacBook of any kind and you’ve been afraid to Linux it up, don’t be. Find your MacBook model in this list and be amazed at what Ubuntu can do these days.

The Ubuntu of tomorrow

Okay, so this has been a terribly optimistic post – possibly because my head is still reeling at the amount of MacBook support that appeared seemingly out of thin air in the past year. But there’s still work to be done.

For one thing, the touchpad is… weird. Not much more weird than it is running Boot Camp for Windows, but still weird. It’s extremely sensitive, but if I use traditional mouse utilities to decrease the sensitivity even a little it detects only one tap out of five. And supposedly Ubuntu shuts off your trackpad whenever you’re typing, but this is only true if you’re typing without any breaks whatsoever, and I can’t find a way to customize the wait time between “touchpad off” and “touchpad o– hey, where’d that paragraph go?”

For another, the battery life sucks. I can’t figure it out. Especially since I can dim the screen in Ubuntu far more than I can in Windows. Go figure?

Still, it’s a comfortable experience with an external mouse and the touchpad shut off. And that’s good enough for me – I’ve moved from virtualizing Ubuntu in Windows to virtualizing Windows in Ubuntu. It’s not my OS of choice when I’m going mobile, but if I’m just sitting plugged in somewhere, hell yeah Ubuntu.

In summary, thanks Ubuntu for being awesome. Now I can get back to writing!