Thomas Sampson

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Fixing Ubuntu/Xubuntu 14.04 screen resolution in VirtualBox

After recently installing Ubuntu 14.04 inside VirtualBox and installing the guest editions, I was stuck with a very small screen resolution. Apparently this is a bug with VirtualBox and until a fix is applied to the VirtualBox guest additions package, the following command should be used to fix this issue:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms virtualbox-guest-utils virtualbox-guest-x11


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Installing .deb packages without Ubuntu Software Centre

If like me, you attempt to avoid Ubuntu Software Centre at all costs (due to it’s often slow and clunky nature) you can easily install a downloaded Debian package from the terminal as follows:

sudo dpkg -i mypackage.deb

Packages can also be removed in a similar fashion if you know the package name:

sudo dpkg -r mypackage

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Creating Your Own Ubuntu Unity Launcher

Today I needed to setup a custom unity launcher for an application which would show in the unity dash and could be pinned to the unity launcher after launch. It turns out that unity launcher entries are represented as “.desktop” files and reside in the following location:


or additionally per-user in the following location:


Below is a template for creating your own .desktop file, simply edit this to suit your application, the entries in the file should fairly self explanatory.

#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Sublime Text Editor
Comment=Sublime Text Editor
Exec="/usr/bin/sublime" %F

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Ubuntu Transparent Panels

To achieve 100% transparent panels within Ubuntu, this involves modifying the default theme (Ambience).

sudo cp -R /usr/share/themes/Ambiance ~/.themes/
sudo gedit ~/.themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/apps/gnome-panel.rc

Then comment out the following line, as below

#bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "img/panel.png"

A theme switch (from System > Preferences > Appearance) is required for changes to be applied. Now setting the transparency on panels effects all areas 🙂

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Changes in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Update: For Ubuntu 12.10 use Ubuntu Tweak

After updating to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS everything seemed to have gone smoothly but for some reason the window buttons have shifted to the left for this release! The following tutorial shows how to put them back to the right and only takes around 30 seconds to apply.

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Improving Ubuntu Screen Resolution inside VirtualBox

My recent install of Ubuntu on VirtualBox 3 went surprisingly well and was completed within 30 minutes of acquiring the ubuntu iso file. This is my first experience with VitualBox and to date I have been really impressed with how stable the virtual machine has been, and particularly impressed with features such as seamless mode. VirtualBox really has a lot to offer for a piece of free open source software, however I did come across a small problem. Immediately after installing Ubuntu onto the VM I noticed that the screen resolution would not go any higher than 800×600. I’m not sure if this is an issue everyone would experience in the same way after install, or whether the issue was specific to my setup, however there is a simple solution.

A few Google searches revealed suggestions that this was somehow something to do with the video memory allocated to the virtual machine, and as I expected this was false information. The problem was actually that you need to install the “VirtualBox Guest Addons” on the guest machine. VirtualBox package this toolkit up really nicely, and allow the toolkit to be directly mounted onto the guest environment for installation. Here is a quick guide on how to install the “Guest Addons” toolkit in order to improve your display resolution (amongst other things).

Step 1

From the VirtualBox interface choose

Devices > Install Guest Additions….

As soon as this is done you should see Guest Additions virtual disc mounted onto the desktop as shown below.

Step 2

Open up a terminal window, navigate to the mounted disc ( usually /media/cdrom0/ ). On the CD there are separate installs for different architectures (x86 / 64bit), however if you are unsure, the fail safe option is to run the autorun file script which should detect the system architecture and begin the appropriate install.


You should see the installation progress as shown below.

Step 3

Reboot the virtual machine!

Once the system has rebooted you should be able to pull up the screen resolution to the maximum supported. You should also notice that the Guest Additions toolkit has been installed under the hardware drivers dialogue box.

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Making an ISO file from terminal in Ubuntu

Today I discovered the mkisofs command, a general linux command not specific to Ubuntu. This command enables you to make an ISO disk image of any folder or group of files on your hard drive or external media. I used it today to make an ISO file of a CD which appears to have worked perfectly using the following command

mkisofs -o EPSON.iso /media/cdrom0

The -o parameter specifies the desired output file-name (in this case EPSON.iso). This command has literally hundreds of paramaters which are explained better than I would even attempt here.

Launch an “explorer” window in ubuntu

Thanks to my friend Dave I today learnt the command in ubuntu that would be the equivalent to

explorer.exe “E:/”

And that is…

nautilus “/media/cdrom0”

The reason for wanting to do this was i wanted to make an application launcher on the tool bar link to a location, some to network paths ( smb:// ) and some to local mount points.

As with the structure of the windows command, nautilus is a window manager as is explorer.exe on windows. Nautilus is the official file manager for the GNOME desktop and any valid path can be passed as a parameter in terminal.