Adafruit’s Computer Add-On Pack for Raspberry Pi Gets You Started Fast

Adafruit's Computer Add-On Pack for Raspberry Pi Gets You Started Fast

The Raspberry Pi is great, but it’s also missing a few things you need to actually use it. Namely, a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Adafruit solves that (with the exception of the monitor), with the Computer Add-On Pack.

 Included here is a wired keyboard, wired mouse, and HDMI cable, all for $23. It’s not exactly the best stuff on the market, but if you just want to get started using a Raspberry Pi it’s handy to have everything you need in one pack. Everything’s verified to work with the Pi, doesn’t require any setup (except plugging them in), and it’s cheap enough that it’s worth it even if you already have this stuff around just so you can get a dedicated setup for your Pi.

Introducing Vagrant

Have you ever heard the following? “Welcome to the team! Here’s a list of 15 applications to install, the instructions are in the team room, somewhere. See you in a week!” Or: “What do you mean it broke production, it runs fine on my machine?” Or: “Why is this working on her machine and his machine, but not my machine?”

Development environments are becoming more complex, with more moving parts and tricky dependencies. Virtualization has been a huge boon for the IT industry in saving costs, increasing flexibility and maintaining control over complex environments. Rather than focusing on virtualization on the delivery side, let’s look at how you can provide that flexibility and control to developers to manage multiple development environments easily using Vagrant.

What Is Vagrant?

Vagrant is an open-source (MIT) tool for building and managing virtualized development environments developed by Mitchell Hashimoto and John Bender. Vagrant manages virtual machines hosted in Oracle VirtualBox, a full x86 virtualizer that is also open source (GPLv2).

A virtual machine is a software implementation of a computer, running a complete operating system stack on a virtualizer. It is a full implementation of a computer with a virtual disk, memory and CPU. The machine running the virtualizer is the Host system. The virtual machine running on the virtualizer is the Guest system. As far as the Guest operating system is concerned, it is running on real hardware. From the perspective of the Host, all of the Guest’s resources are used by the virtualizer program. A Box, or base image, is the prepackaged virtual machine that Vagrant will manage.

Installing Vagrant

Starting in version 1.0, Vagrant provides two installation methods: packaged installers for supported platforms or a universal install with Ruby Gems. This article covers installation using Gems. This method has three parts: 1) install VirtualBox, 2) install Ruby and 3) install Vagrant itself.

VirtualBox is available from the VirtualBox home page with builds for Windows, OS X, Linux and Solaris. Note that Oracle provides the Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack on the Download site that provides additional features to the virtualizer. The Extension Pack has a separate license (Personal Use and Evaluation License) and is not needed to use Vagrant, but if the Box you are using was created using the Extension Pack, you will need to install the Extension Pack as well.

Ruby is a popular dynamically typed object-oriented scripting language. Ruby is available out of the box in OS X, and most Linux distributions also have a Ruby package available. For Windows users, the RubyInstaller Project provides an easy way to install the Ruby runtime.

Ruby libraries and applications are available in packages called RubyGems or Gems. Ruby comes with a package management tool called gem. To install Vagrant, run the gem command:


> gem install vagrant

Vagrant is a command-line tool. Calling vagrant without additional arguments will provide the list of available arguments. I’ll visit most of these commands within this article, but here’s a quick overview:

  • init — create the base configuration file.
  • up — start a new instance of the virtual machine.
  • suspend — suspend the running guest.
  • halt — stop the running guest, similar to hitting the power button on a real machine.
  • resume — restart the suspended guest.
  • reload — reboot the guest.
  • status — determine the status of vagrant for the current Vagrantfile.
  • provision — run the provisioning commands.
  • destroy — remove the current instance of the guest, delete the virtual disk and associated files.
  • box — the set of commands used to add, list, remove or repackage box files.
  • package — used for the creation of new box files.
  • sshssh to a running guest.

The last thing you need to do in your installation is set up a base image. A Box, or base image, is the prepackaged virtual machine that Vagrant will manage. Use thebox command to add the Box to your environment. The vagrant box add command takes two arguments, the name you use to refer to the Box and the location of the Box:


> vagrant box add lucid32 http://files.vagrantup.com/lucid32.box

This command adds a new Box to the system called “lucid32″ from a remotely hosted site over HTTP. Vagrant also will allow you to install a Box from the local filesystem:


> vagrant box add rhel5.7 rhel5.7-20120120-1223.box
[vagrant] Downloading with Vagrant::Downloaders::File...
[vagrant] Copying box to temporary location...
[vagrant] Extracting box...
[vagrant] Verifying box...
[vagrant] Cleaning up downloaded box...
> 

Now there are two Boxes installed:


>vagrant box list
lucid32
rhel5.7

It is important to note that you can reuse these base images. A Box can be the base for multiple projects without contamination. Changes in any one project will not change the other projects that share a Box. As you’ll see, changes in the base can be shared to projects easily. One of the powerful concepts about using Vagrant is that the development environment is now totally disposable. You persist your critical work on the Host, while the Guest can be reloaded quickly and provisioned from scratch.

Starting Vagrant

Create a directory on the Host as your starting point. This directory is your working directory. Vagrant will share this directory between the Guest and the Host automatically. Developers can edit files from their preferred Editors or IDEs without updating the Guest. Changes made in the Host or Guest are immediately visible to the user from either perspective:


> mkdir ProjectX
> cd ProjectX

To get started, you need a Vagrantfile. The Vagrantfile is to similar to a Makefile, a set of instructions that tells Vagrant how to build the Guest. Vagrant uses Ruby syntax for configuration. The simplest possible Vagrantfile would be something like this:


Vagrant::Config.run do |config|
  config.vm.box = "lucid32"
end

This configuration tells Vagrant to use all the defaults and the Box called lucid32. There actually are four Vagrantfiles that are read: the local version in the current directory, a user version in ~/.vagrant.d/, a Box version in the Box file and an initial config installed with the Gem. Vagrant reads these files starting with the Gem version and finishing with the current directory. In the case of conflicts, the most recent version wins, so the current directory overrides the ~/.vagrant.d, which overrides the Box version and so on. Users can create a new Vagrantfile simply by running:


> vagrant init 

This creates a Vagrantfile in the current directory. The generated Vagrantfile has many of the common configuration parameters with comments on their use. The file tries to be self-documenting, but additional information is available from the Vagrant Web site. To run most Vagrant commands, you need to be in the same directory as the Vagrantfile.

Let’s give it a try:


$ vagrant up
[default] Importing base box 'lucid32'...
[default] The guest additions on this VM do not match the install 
version of VirtualBox! This may cause things such as forwarded 
ports, shared folders, and more to not work properly. If any of 
those things fail on this machine, please update the guest 
additions and repackage the box.

Guest Additions Version: 4.1.0
VirtualBox Version: 4.1.8
[default] Matching MAC address for NAT networking...
[default] Clearing any previously set forwarded ports...
[default] Forwarding ports...
[default] -- 22 => 2222 (adapter 1)
[default] Creating shared folders metadata...
[default] Clearing any previously set network interfaces...
[default] Booting VM...
[default] Waiting for VM to boot. This can take a few minutes.
[default] VM booted and ready for use!
[default] Mounting shared folders...
[default] -- v-root: /vagrant

Let’s break this down. I’m running with VirtualBox 4.1.8 and a Guest at 4.1.0. In this case it works smoothly, but the warning is there to help troubleshoot issues should they appear. Next, it sets up the networking for the Guest:


[default] Matching MAC address for NAT networking...
[default] Clearing any previously set forwarded ports...
[default] Forwarding ports...
[default] -- 22 => 2222 (adapter 1)

I used the default network setting of Network Address Translation with Port Forwarding. I am forwarding port 2222 on the Host to port 22 on the Guest. Vagrant starts the Guest in headless mode, meaning there is no GUI interface that pops up. For users who want to use the GUI version of the Guest, the option is available in the Vagrantfile to run within a window. Once the network is set up, Vagrant boots the virtual machine:


[default] VM booted and ready for use!
[default] Mounting shared folders...
[default] -- v-root: /vagrant

After the Guest has started, Vagrant will add the shared folder. Vagrant uses the VirtualBox extensions to mount the current folder (ProjectX in this case) as /vagrant. Users can copy and manipulate files from the Host OS in the ProjectX directory, and all the files and changes will be visible in the Guest. If the shared folder isn’t performing well because you have a large number of files, Vagrant does support using NFS. However, it does require that NFS is supported by both the Guest andHost systems. At this time, NFS is not supported on Windows Hosts.


	

OS X Mountain Lion: Shortcuts for taking pictures of the screen

Pictures of the screen (screenshots) are saved as files on the desktop, but if you prefer to put a screenshot in the Clipboard, hold down the Control key while you press the other keys. You can then paste the picture into a document.

Action Shortcut
Take a picture of the whole screen Command (⌘)-Shift-3
Take a picture of part of the screen Command (⌘)-Shift-4, and then drag the crosshair pointer to select the area. Continue to press the mouse button, release the keys, and then press Shift, Option, or the Space bar while you drag to resize the selection area. When you are ready to take a picture, release the mouse button.

To cancel, press Escape before you release the mouse button.

Take a picture of a window or the menu bar Command (⌘)-Shift-4, press the Space bar, move the camera pointer over the area to highlight it, and then click.

To cancel, press Escape before you click.

Take a picture of a menu, including the title Click the menu to display the menu commands, press Command (⌘)-Shift-4, and drag the crosshair pointer over the area.

To cancel, press Escape before you click.

Take a picture of the menu without its title Click the menu to display the menu commands, press Command (⌘)-Shift-4, press the Space Bar, move the camera pointer over the menu to highlight it, and then click.

To cancel, press Escape before you click.

You can also take pictures of the screen using the Grab app.

Some apps, such as DVD Player, may not let you take pictures of the screen.

Solve display problems in Ubuntu and Linux Mint

Major problems (no graphical display at all)

1. You can try to restore normal graphical display in Ubuntu or Linux Mint as follows:

a. In the Grub bootloader menu, boot your computer into recovery mode:

Ubuntu:
Advanced options for Ubuntu – Ubuntu, with Linux xxxxxxx (recovery mode)

Press Enter.

b. In the recovery menu that appears then, choose the first option:
resume    Resume normal boot

This will attempt a normal boot with failsafe video settings.

c. No avail? Then restart in recovery mode and choose the fourth option:
failsafeX    Run in failsafe graphic mode

d. No avail again? If you’re familiar with the terminal and its commands, then you can restart in recovery mode and choose the option:
root    Drop to root shell prompt

This will allow you to try to restore normal graphical display from the terminal.

Minor problems (bad display)

Other, minor display problems (wrong resolution, instability, wrong brightness) can have various causes:

Bad stability and performance

2. Stability and performance issues can usually be addressed by disabling the visual effects (switching to another desktop environment).

Wrong resolution: Nvidia card

3. Do you have an Nvidia card running on the restricted Nvidia driver (which is recommended), and is the display resolution wrong? Then proceed as follows:

a. First make sure that you have installed the application gksu:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (or copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

b. Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo nvidia-settings

Press Enter.

Now you can configure your display with this nifty tool from Nvidia itself. Proceed as follows:

Click “X Server Display Configuration” (top left, second entry).

On the right in the window: click the tab “Display” (which should be opened already).

Resolution: click the button that says “Auto”, and choose the display resolution that you want.

Click “Save to X Configuration File”.

Click Close.

c. Reboot your computer. Now the display resolution should be right.

Wrong resolution: SiS 671/771 card

4. For the SiS 671/771 video card, check here.

Wrong resolution: XGI Z7 or Z9 card

5. For the XGI Z7 or Z9 video card, look here.

Brightness of the display is wrong and not adjustable

6. Some laptops have a problem with the brightness of the display: the Fn keys to adjust the brightness, don’t work. Therefore the brightness of the screen may be too high or too low, which can be maddeningly annoying.

In some cases this can be solved by installing Brightness Applet in the panel. With that, you can try to adjust the brightness. But sometimes even that doesn’t work. Then you can try the following progressive scheme:

Easy method: fix brightness for an Intel video card

6.1. For an Intel video card you can do the following to fix the brightness:

a. Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

b. Copy/paste this command into the terminal:
ls /sys/class/backlight/

Press Enter. You have an Intel video card when the output reads:
intel_backlight

c. Copy/paste the following command line into the terminal:
sudo touch /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. This will remain entirely invisible, you won’t even see dots, this is normal. With this command you create an empty text file.

d. Now make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Copy/paste into the terminal:
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter.

e. Now copy/paste this line into the terminal:
gksudo leafpad /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf

Press Enter.

Copy/paste the following text block into that empty text file:

Section “Device”
Identifier “card0″
Driver “intel”
Option “Backlight” “intel_backlight”
BusID “PCI:0:2:0″

EndSection

Save the modified text file and close it.

f. Reboot your computer: you should be able to change the display brightness now, with the usual Fn keys. If not, continue with item 6.2 in the right column of this page.

Another easy method to fix the brightness: add a Grub parameter

6.2. It might be sufficient to add a parameter to Grub.

a. First make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (or copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

b. Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /etc/default/grub

In the text file that opens then, find the line:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=””

Replace it with this line:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”acpi_osi=Linux”

Save the file and close it.

c. Now in the terminal:
sudo update-grub

Press Enter.
Type your password when required; this will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal. Press Enter again.

d. Reboot your computer. The Fn brightness keys should work now. If not, continue with 6.3.

The moderately difficult method to fix the brightness: xbacklight

6.3. By means of xbacklight you might achieve the desired result.

a. First, you install xbacklight:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (use copy/paste):

sudo apt-get install xbacklight

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

b. Then create a new startup application.

Ubuntu: click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: startup.
Click on Startup Applications.
Click Add

Give the new addition the name Brightness and the command:

xbacklight -set 70

Click Add.

Note: this only takes effect after logging into your user account. If the login window is too dark as well, you might configure Ubuntu to login automatically.

c. Reboot your computer. The screen brightness should be OK after logging in.

Note: other brightness values than 70 might suit you better; you can experiment with that.

If this doesn’t work, try 6.4:

The more difficult method to fix the brightness: setpci

6.4. If all else fails, you might try setpci:

a. Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (use copy/paste):
lspci | grep -i vga

Press Enter. The output will show the exact type of your video card, and (what’s more important right now) the BusID. That’s the number with which the output line begins.

The BusID has five digits. Use your digit combination in the terminal command mentioned below (use copy/paste to avoid errors). I’ll explain it by means of the following example:

b. When the BusID is 00:02.0, the command to dim an overly bright display is:
sudo setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=50

And for this same BusID the command to increase the brightness on a darkish display is:
sudo setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=90

Adapt this command according to your BusID.

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted; this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal. Press Enter again.

If all has gone well, this should set the brightness at a better level (in the example: either at 50 or at 90).

Experiment with other values in the range of 1 – 100, and pick the one you like best. 100 is maximum.

c. You can make this setting permanent, so that it’ll survive a reboot. Like this:

– First make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

– Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /etc/rc.local

Press Enter.

Now Leafpad opens with a text file. Add the following line (use copy/paste to avoid errors), just above the existing line exit 0:
setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=50

(adapt this line to your BusID and desired brightness level)

It will become like this then (example):

#!/bin/sh -e
#
# rc.local
#
# This script is executed at the end of each multiuser runlevel.
# Make sure that the script will “exit 0″ on success or any other
# value on error.
#
# In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution
# bits.
#
# By default this script does nothing.
setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=50
exit 0

Save and close the modified file.

d. Reboot your computer. The brightness should be alright now. If not, continue with 6.5.

Last resort: use xrandr for adjusting the brightness

6.5. You can also tune the display brightness with xrandr. That’s being done on the software level and not on the hardware level, so it’s not the most elegant solution. But sometimes it’s the only means left.

First determine the video port to which your display is connected.

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Copy/paste the following command line into the terminal:
xrandr | grep connected | cut -f1 -d” ”

Press Enter.

On my laptop that generates the following output:
LVDS1
VGA1
HDMI1
DP1
VIRTUAL1

Those are all the available video ports on my laptop.

You can now set the brightness from 0.1 to 1.0. On my laptop this creates a pleasant brightness:
xrandr –output LVDS1 –brightness 0.8

On my laptop the display is connected to the first port, so LVDS1. For your computer that could be different; use trial and error to find out…. When you specify the wrong port, you get this error message:
xrandr: Need crtc to set gamma on.

10 THINGS TO DO AFTER INSTALLING UBUNTU 14.04 TRUSTY TAHR TO GET A NEAR PERFECT DESKTOP

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) will be released tomorrow and since many of you will install it as soon as it’s released (or maybe you’re already using Ubuntu 14.04), here’s a list of 10 useful things to do to get a near perfect desktop.

 

Ubuntu 14.04 things to do

 

While the tweaks below are targeted at Unity, many of them also work with other Ubuntu flavors like Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu or Ubuntu GNOME.

Update: the instructions / things to do below also apply for the latest Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn), except for:

  • 1.2 (Pidgin Indicator is no longer required because Pidgin now ships with a Unity integration plugin; you can still use Pidgin Indicator if you want though);
  • 3.1 (Firefox now supports H224 without any tweaks);
  • 4.1 (you can continue to use Pipelight for various web services that require Silverlight, but that’s no longer required for Netflix – to use Netflix with HTML5, simply install Google Chrome and it should work without any additional tweaks – that’s now also the case for Ubuntu 14.04).

1. Install Ubuntu AppIndicators (applets)

Ubuntu ships with just a few indicators by default because well, it can’t guess what everybody needs. So here are some indicators you might find useful.

1.1 Calendar Indicator is one of my favorite Ubuntu indicators. This AppIndicator displays your 10 upcoming events in the indicator menu, can add new events (which of course, are synced with Google Calendar) and it has a complete calendar view where you can see all your Google Calendar events, edit or add new events, etc.

 

Google Calendar Indicator

 

To install Calendar Indicator in Ubuntu 14.04, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install calendar-indicator
1.2 Pidgin may not be the default IM client for a few Ubuntu releases, but it’s still a very popular application. Pidgin uses a tray icon by default but you can now use an AppIndicator which is especially useful since the old Unity systray whitelist is no longer available.

 

Pindgin Indicator

 

Pidgin Indicator is not an part of Pidgin by default but it works great and you can install it in Ubuntu 14.04 by using the main WebUpd8 PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pidgin-indicator
Once installed, open Pidgin and from its menu select Tools > Plugins, then scroll down until you see a plugin called “Ubuntu Indicator” and enable this plugin.

 

1.3 Since Ubuntu doesn’t ship with a weather indicator, I recommend My Weather Indicator, an appindicator that displays the current weather on the Unity top panel. The tool can also display a 5-day forecast (it depends on which Weather service you use), it comes with some very nice (optional) desktop widgets and more.

My Weather Indicator

To install it in Ubuntu 14.04, use the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install my-weather-indicator
1.4 Variety is more of a fully featured application than just a simple AppIndicator, but I’ll add it here anyway since I’m sure many of you will love it.

 

Variety Wallpaper Changer
Variety is a wallpaper changer that automatically downloads and changes your wallpaper on a given interval. Using it, you’ll get cool, fresh wallpapers each day. Or each hour. Or… well, it’s up to you when the wallpaper changes. From the AppIndicator menu you can quickly switch to the next (random) wallpaper or copy the wallpaper to favorites, for later use.

To install Variety in Ubuntu, use the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peterlevi/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install variety
1.5 Cpufreq Indicator is the equivalent of the old GNOME CPU frequency scaling applet which can be used for changing the CPU frequency on-the-fly. Install it in Ubuntu by clicking the button below:

Or install it from the command line:

sudo apt-get install indicator-cpufreq
Cpufreq indicator

Note that Cpufreq Indicator doesn’t work with Intel P-State (see 8.2).

2. Tweak Unity

2.1 Some Unity settings are available in the Appearance settings, some in CCSM, some can only be accessed via Dconf and so on. With Unity Tweak Tool, you have access to almost all these settings in one place, using a very nice user interface.

 

Unity Tweak Tool

 

Unity Tweak Tool allows you to change various Unity settings, like auto-hide behavior, tweak the Dash, the Unity Launcher or HUD, change window snapping and hot corner settings, change the GTK and icon theme, access various font settings and more.

Install it in Ubuntu 13.10 via command line:

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

2.2 Privacy

By default, Dash displays all the recently accessed files along with other files found on your system. But you can change this by selecting Security & Privacy from System Settings, and then tweak everything to suit your needs:

Ubuntu Privacy

 

On the Search tab, you can select to disable online search results from being displayed in Dash. However, you may want to use some scopes so instead of completely disabling this, you can open Dash and on the applications lens (the second lens) click “Filter results”, then select “Dash plugins” – here, you can enable/disable any Dash plugin you want:

Ubuntu Dash Plugins

To disable a plugin, click it and then simply click “Disable”:

Ubuntu Dash Plugins

 

If you want to disable the shopping suggestions, you can run the following command in a terminal:
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"
2.3 An option to enable minimize on click for the Unity Launcher was one of the most requested Ubuntu features and you can now enable this in Ubuntu 14.04.

Update: Unity Tweak Tool was updated with an option to enable minimize on click for the Unity Launcher.

To enable minimize on click for the Unity Launcher (Unity Tweak Tool doesn’t support this yet), install CompizConfig Settings Manager.

To install it via command line, use:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
Then, open CompizConfig Settings Manager from Dash, click the “Ubuntu Unity Plugin” and on theLauncher tab, enable “Minimize single window applications (unsupported)”:

 

CCSM

Note that this feature only works with single window applications.

2.4 Try the new locally integrated menus (LIM)

Ubuntu 14.04 ships with a new (non-default) type of menu called “LIM”, or “locally integrated menu”. Locally integrated menus are displayed in the window decorations for unmaximized windows, instead of the default Unity approach which is to display the menu on the top panel, and are displayed on mouse over.

Ubuntu locally integrated menus

 

Since the Unity global menu is not appreciated by everybody, maybe you’ll find LIM better, so give it a try. To enable it, open System Settings > Appearance and on the Behavior tab, select to show the menus “in the window’s title bar”:

 

Ubuntu locally integrated menus

 

3. Fixes

3.1 Get Firefox to support H.264

The FFmpeg plugin for GStreamer 0.10 is not available in the official Ubuntu 14.04 repositories (because FFMpeg is not available either – libav is used instead) and because of this, Firefox doesn’t support the H.264 codec.
Furthermore, without the FFmpeg plugin for GStreamer 0.10 package, KDE apps can’t play H.264 videos in Kubuntu 14.04 if they use the GStreamer backend. Another issue with this is that Amarok can’t play WMA files. There might also be other affected applications.

Before:

Firefox h.264

After:

Firefox h.264

 

To “fix” this, all you need is install the “gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg” package and its dependencies. If you’ve upgraded from an older Ubuntu version, this package might already be installed but if this is a fresh install, you can get the package from a PPA. Add the PPA and install it using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mc3man/trusty-media
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg

3.2 Fix Skype not using the correct system theme on 64bit

On 64bit Ubuntu systems, Skype uses the Clearlooks theme instead of the default Ubuntu theme, Ambiance (this also happens with other themes).
This occurs because Skype is a 32bit application and the GTK2 theme engine (Murrine or Pixmap in most cases) is not installed for 32bit.

Before:

Skype broken theme 64bit Ubuntu

After:

Skype fixed theme 64bit Ubuntu

To fix this, you need to install the 32bit Murrine and Pixmap GTK2 engines:

sudo apt-get install gtk2-engines-murrine:i386 gtk2-engines-pixbuf:i386

3.3 Fix missing Skype tray icon / appindicator on Ubuntu 64bit

On 64bit, the required package to get a Skype tray / appindicator icon is not installed automatically. To fix this, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install sni-qt:i386

The Skype tray icon might disappear after you log in, but it should show up after a few seconds.

4. Web browser (Firefox, Google Chrome / Chromium) tweaks

4.1 Firefox, Google Chrome/Chromium: if you want to use services such as Netflix, Maxdome and others, you can use Pipelight. Pipelight lets you use Microsoft Silverlight, Widevine (the built-in Chrome Widevine doesn’t work with many websites), and more with native Linux web browsers (Pipelight itself uses Wine).

Netflix Ubuntu

 

Before installing Pipelight, it’s strongly recommended to close your web browser. Without doing this, the plugin may fail to install or crash the browser (you can copy the instructions below to a text editor).
To install Pipelight in Ubuntu 14.04, you can use its official PPA. Add the PPA and install Pipelight using the commands below:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

Then, install the Silverlight plugin using the following command:

sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

To install the Widevine plugin, use the command below:

sudo pipelight-plugin --enable widevine
4.2 Chromium will soon stop using the Netscape Plugin API, and as a result, the Linux Adobe Flash will stop working. To get Flash working in Chromium, you can use the Pepper Flash Player installer (Pepper Flash is extracted from Google Chrome), which is available in the official Ubuntu 14.04 repositories. To install it, use the following commands:
sudo apt-get install pepperflashplugin-nonfree
sudo update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --install

 

Chromium Pepper Flash Ubuntu

 

4.3 Firefox doesn’t use native notifications under Linux. A work-around for this issue is to use GNotifier, a Firefox extension that makes the browser use native notifications on the Linux desktop. The extension currently supports GNOME (Shell), Unity, KDE and Xfce.

 

Firefox native notifications GNOME Shell

 

Firefox native notifications Unity

The extension is available HERE and doesn’t require restarting the browser after it’s installed.

5. LibreOffice tweaks

LibreOffice has 2 cool features (well, one of them isn’t exactly a feature but anyway) that aren’t enabled by default: a sidebar that enables quick access to document styles, formatting, etc. and a cool new monochrome icon set.

 

LibreOffice sifr

 

5.1 To enable the LibreOffice sidebar, simply select View > Sidebar from the LibreOffice menu.
5.2 To use the monochrome icon set, firstly install via the command line using:
sudo apt-get install libreoffice-style-sifr
And then to activate it, from the LibreOffice menu select Tools > Options > LibreOffice > View and select “Sifr” under “Icon size and style”:

6. Nautilus “tweaks”

The heading says “tweaks” in quotes because one of them is not exactly a tweak, but a replacement.  
6.1 Use the search / type-ahead feature that suit your needs
In Ubuntu 14.04, Nautilus was patched to use type-ahead find instead of its default behavior for a few Nautilus releases, which is recursive search. However, there’s a Dconf option you can use to switch between these two behaviors.
Type-ahead find allows to type the name of a directory or file in the file manager to select it without searching in the sub-folders while the recursive search is, like the name suggests, a search inside the current folder and all its sub-folders.

 

Nautilus recursive search
Recursive search

 

Nautilus type-ahead find
Type-ahead find

 

To switch to recursive search in Nautilus under Ubuntu 14.04, use the following command:
gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-interactive-search false

 

If you want to switch back to type-ahead find (“interactive search”), use the command below:
gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-interactive-search true

6.2 If you don’t like Nautilus 3.10, switch to Nemo

As you know, Ubuntu 14.04 uses Nautilus 3.10 as the default file manager. Nautilus is nice, but it lacks many features it once used to have, like the dual pane view (which was triggered using F3). You can get this back by using Nemo, which I patched to work properly under Unity and to get rid of the Cinnamon dependencies (the original patches were created by Jacob Zimmermann, I just updated them for a newer Nemo version and added some other patches for better desktop integration).

 

Nemo file manager

Since there are some quite a few things you should know before replacing Nautilus with Nemo in Ubuntu 14.04, I won’t post the instructions here, but you can read all about it in an article I posted a while back: Install Nemo With Unity Patches (And Without Cinnamon Dependencies) In Ubuntu (it includes instructions for replacing Nautilus with Nemo, installing some Nemo extensions as well as how to revert the changes in case you want to go back to Nautilus as the default file manager).

7. Nvidia Optimus tweaks

Note for AMD hybrid graphics users: you can use fglrx-pxpress and AMD Indicator which are basically the equivalents of the tweaks below for AMD, but since my laptop uses Nvidia Optimus, it means I can’t test this on AMD hybrid graphics so I won’t post instructions here. See the Ubuntu wiki for more info.
7.1 Switch between Nvidia and Intel graphics
Installing nvidia-prime can get your system to boot in low graphics mode if it’s not used properly so be careful. This should be considered an “expert” feature and should only be used by those who know how to fix their system in case something goes wrong!
It’s also important to note that you need to use LightDM (so this won’t work for Ubuntu GNOME users by default because it uses GDM – you’ll need to switch to LightDM) and the proprietary Nvidia drivers!
In Ubuntu 14.04, you can switch between the Nvidia and Intel graphics from the Nvidia Settings. Firstly, install nvidia-prime:
sudo apt-get purge bumblebee*
sudo apt-get install nvidia-prime
(the first command makes sure all the Bumblebee packages were purged – without this, nvidia-prime won’t work)

 

Then simply open Nvidia Settings, select “PRIME Profiles” on the left and select the graphics card you want to use:

 

Ubuntu Nvidia Settings Prime profiles

 

Note that switching between CPUs requires a logout so you can’t for instance run the desktop using the Intel graphics while running a game using the Nvidia graphics under the same session. For that you can continue to use Bumblebee, but unfortunately you can’t use both, so remove nvidia-primeif you want to use Bumblebee.

7.2 Prime Indicator (requires the nvidia-prime package, see 7.1)

Ubuntu Prime indicator

 

To quickly switch between the Intel and Nvidia graphics or see which graphics card is currently in use, you can use Prime Indicator. You can install it in Ubuntu 14.04 using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install prime-indicator

8. Laptop tweaks

8.1 Improve battery life

There are various tweaks that you can apply to your laptop to save battery power, but many of them depend on the hardware, Linux distribution, some are outdated or too hard to apply for regular users and so on.

TLP is an advanced power management command line tool for Linux that tries to apply these settings / tweaks for you automatically, depending on your Linux distribution and hardware.

To install TLP in Ubuntu 14.04, use the commands below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
sudo tlp start
Important: make sure laptop-mode-tools is not installed (simply run “sudo apt-get remove laptop-mode-tools” and it will be removed if it’s installed), as it conflicts with TLP.

For more information, see our article on TLP.

8.2 Thermald + Intel P-State

While some users have reported that their laptops actually get a bit hotter using this, but that they get better performance with Thermald + Intel P-State (see the comments), for my laptop, this has done wonders and I can say that my now quite old laptop was never cooler. That of course might not be the case for you (since it depends on your hardware), but you can give it a try and see for yourself.
Since the instructions are pretty long, I won’t post them here. Instead, see our Thermald + Intel P-State article.

9. Install codecs, Java and encrypted DVD playback

 

9.1 To be able to play most audio and video formats, install Ubuntu Restricted Extras by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
9.2 I suggest to also install the unrestricted version of libavcodec so you don’t encounter issues with missing codecs when trying to use some video editors or transcoders – install them by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra
9.3 You may also need Java, but you must figure out what you need. Most users will only needOpenJRE and the Java browser plugin which you can install by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install icedtea-7-plugin openjdk-7-jre
For development, you’ll also want OpenJDK which you can install by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk

If for various reasons, you need Oracle Java (the package includes JDK, JRE and the browser plugin), you can install Oracle Java 7 by using the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer
9.4 Encrypted DVD playback: the Medibuntu repository no longer exists and while most packages in the Medibuntu archive are obsolete or unnecessary because most are now in the official Ubuntu repositories or have better equivalents, livdvdcss is still required for playing encrypted DVDs.

 

You can enable encrypted DVD playback in Ubuntu 14.04 by using the following commands:

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

 

10. Other tweaks / things to install

 

10.1 As you probably know by now, Ubuntu One will be shut down. If you were using this cloud storage service, there are many alternatives you can use, which work under Linux. Dropbox is probably the most popular, but you can also use Google Drive, which is getting better and better and it’s cheap too if you want some extra space (you also get 15GB of free storage).

 

Ubuntu Google Drive

 

There’s no official Google Drive client for Linux (yet), but you can use a tool like Insync (paid), orGoogle Drive Ocamlfuse, a tool that lets you mount Google Drive in Linux. To install Google Drive Ocamlfuse in Ubuntu 14.04, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alessandro-strada/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install google-drive-ocamlfuse

 

Once it’s installed, you’ll firstly need to authorize it with Google, by running the following command:
google-drive-ocamlfuse
This should open a tab in your default web browser, asking to allow google-drive-ocamlfuse to access your Google Drive. Click “Allow”, wait a few seconds for google-drive-ocamlfuse to retrieve the authorization code and you’re done.

 

Now let’s mount Google Drive. Create a folder in your home directory, let’s call it “gdrive”:
mkdir ~/gdrive

And mount Goole Drive using the command below:

google-drive-ocamlfuse ~/gdrive

That’s it.

10.2 If you’re constantly getting crash report popups, disable Apport

 

Apport is disabled by default in stable released according to THIS (thanks Silviu!) however, it’s not disabled if you’ve installed an alpha, beta or daily build.

 

Reporting bugs is important for Ubuntu, but if you get a large number of crash reports and nothing is actually crashing, you can disable error reporting. To do this, you need to edit “/etc/default/apport” with a text editor such as Gedit (as root):
gksu gedit /etc/default/apport

and change “enabled” from “1” to “0”, then save the file.

After completing the steps above, Apport won’t be started at boot any more, but let’s stop the running Apport process too, so you don’t have to wait until you restart your computer:
sudo service apport stop

10.3 Unity global menu & HUD support for Java swing applications

Unity global menu java swing applications

 

Unity HUD java swing applications

 

By default, Java Swing applications (IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio, jDownloader and others) don’t support Unity global menu (AppMenu) / HUD. You can get these features though, by using JAyatana, which you can install in Ubuntu 14.04 by using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danjaredg/jayatana
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install jayatana

Once installed, log out and log back in.

10.4 Adobe Flash Player (YouTube and a few other websites only, it seems) hardware acceleration with Intel graphics
libvdpau-va-gl is a VDPAU driver that uses OpenGL under the hood to accelerate drawing and scaling, and VA-API (if available) to accelerate video decoding.
Using it, you can get hardware acceleration on some Intel graphics cards for Mplayer (well, we already have mplayer-vaapi but it hasn’t been merged) and even Adobe Flash Player. That means a lot less CPU usage.
For instance, in my test, a full-screen 1080p flash YouTube video used around 160-170% CPU without libvdpau-va-gl and about 14-17% CPU when using libvdpau-va-gl:

 

libvdpau-va-gl1

Since there are a few things you should know and the instructions include 2 use cases, I won’t post the instructions here and instead, I’ll add a link to our libvdpau-va-gl article: Adobe Flash Player Hardware Acceleration on Intel Graphics Cards

The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now

An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug is already being dubbed one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. The bug has affected many popular websites and services — ones you might use every day, like Gmail and Facebook — and could have quietly exposed your sensitive account information (such as passwords and credit card numbers) over the past two years.

But it hasn’t always been clear which sites have been affected. Mashable reached out to some of the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web. We’ve rounded up their responses below.

Some Internet companies that were vulnerable to the bug have already updated their servers with a security patch to fix the issue. This means you’ll need to go in and change your passwords immediately for these sites. Even that is no guarantee that your information wasn’t already compromised, but there’s also no indication that hackers knew about the exploit before this week. The companies that are advising customers to change their passwords are doing so as a precautionary measure.

Although changing your password regularly is always good practice, if a site or service hasn’t yet patched the problem, your information will still be vulnerable.

Also, if you reused the same password on multiple sites, and one of those sites was vulnerable, you’ll need to change the password everywhere. It’s not a good idea to use the same password across multiple sites, anyway.

We’ll keep updating the list as new information comes in. Last update: April 19, 11:00 a.m. ET

Social Networks

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
Facebook Unclear Yes Yes “We added protections for Facebook’s implementation of OpenSSL before this issue was publicly disclosed. We haven’t detected any signs of suspicious account activity, but we encourage people to … set up a unique password.”
Instagram Yes Yes Yes “Our security teams worked quickly on a fix and we have no evidence of any accounts being harmed. But because this event impacted many services across the web, we recommend you update your password on Instagram and other sites, particularly if you use the same password on multiple sites.”
LinkedIn No No No “We didn’t use the offending implementation of OpenSSL in www.linkedin.com or www.slideshare.net. As a result, HeartBleed does not present a risk to these web properties.”
Pinterest Yes Yes Yes “We fixed the issue on Pinterest.com, and didn’t find any evidence of mischief. To be extra careful, we e-mailed Pinners who may have been impacted, and encouraged them to change their passwords.”
Tumblr Yes Yes Yes

 

“We have no evidence of any breach and, like most networks, our team took immediate action to fix the issue.”
Twitter No Yes Unclear Twitter wrote that OpenSSL “is widely used across the internet and at Twitter. We were able to determine that [our] servers were not affected by this vulnerability. We are continuing to monitor the situation.” While reiterating that they were unaffected, Twitter told Mashable that they did apply a patch.

Other Companies

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
Apple No No No “iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key web-based services were not affected.”
Amazon No No No “Amazon.com is not affected.”
Google Yes Yes Yes* “We have assessed the SSL vulnerability and applied patches to key Google services.” Search, Gmail, YouTube, Wallet, Play, Apps and App Engine were affected; Google Chrome and Chrome OS were not.

*Google said users do not need to change their passwords, but because of the previous vulnerability, better safe than sorry.

Microsoft No No No Microsoft services were not running OpenSSL, according to LastPass.
Yahoo Yes Yes Yes “As soon as we became aware of the issue, we began working to fix it… and we are working to implement the fix across the rest of our sites right now.” Yahoo Homepage, Yahoo Search, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Food, Yahoo Tech, Flickr and Tumblr were patched. More patches to come, Yahoo says.

Email

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
AOL No No No AOL told Mashable it was not running the vulnerable version of the software.
Gmail Yes Yes Yes* “We have assessed the SSL vulnerability and applied patches to key Google services.”

*Google said users do not need to change their passwords, but because of the previous vulnerability, better safe than sorry.

Hotmail / Outlook No No No Microsoft services were not running OpenSSL, according to LastPass.
Yahoo Mail Yes Yes Yes “As soon as we became aware of the issue, we began working to fix it… and we are working to implement the fix across the rest of our sites right now.”

Stores and Commerce

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
Amazon No No No “Amazon.com is not affected.”
Amazon Web Services(for website operators) Yes Yes Yes Most services were unaffected or Amazon was already able to apply mitigations (see advisory note here). Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon EC2, Amazon Linux AMI, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu, AWS OpsWorks, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Amazon CloudFront were patched.
eBay No No No “eBay.com was never vulnerable to this bug because we were never running a vulnerable version of OpenSSL.”
Etsy Yes* Yes Yes Etsy said that only a small part of its infrastructure was vulnerable, and they have patched it.
GoDaddy Yes Yes Yes “We’ve been updating GoDaddy services that use the affected OpenSSL version.” Full Statement
Groupon No No No “Groupon.com does not utilize a version of the OpenSSL library that is susceptible to the Heartbleed bug.”
Nordstrom No No No “Nordstrom websites do not use OpenSSL encryption.”
PayPal No No No “Your PayPal account details were not exposed in the past and remain secure.” Full Statement
Target No No No “[We] launched a comprehensive review of all external facing aspects of Target.com… and do not currently believe that any external-facing aspects of our sites are impacted by the OpenSSL vulnerability.”
Walmart No No No “We do not use that technology so we have not been impacted by this particular breach.”

Videos, Photos, Games & Entertainment

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
Flickr Yes Yes Yes “As soon as we became aware of the issue, we began working to fix it… and we are working to implement the fix across the rest of our sites right now.”
Hulu No No No No comment provided.
Minecraft Yes Yes Yes “We were forced to temporary suspend all of our services. … The exploit has been fixed. We can not guarantee that your information wasn’t compromised.” More Information
Pandora No No No No comment provided.
Netflix Yes Yes Yes “Like many companies, we took immediate action to assess the vulnerability and address it. We are not aware of any customer impact. It’s a good practice to change passwords from time to time, now would be a good time to think about doing so. “
SoundCloud Yes Yes Yes SoundCloud emphasized that there were no indications of any foul play and that the company’s actions were simply precautionary.
YouTube Yes Yes Yes* “We have assessed the SSL vulnerability and applied patches to key Google services.”

*Google said users do not need to change their passwords, but because of the previous vulnerability, better safe than sorry.

Financial

All the banks we contacted (see below) said they were unaffected by Heartbleed, but U.S. regulators have warned banks to patch their systems.

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
American Express No No No “There was no compromise of any customer data. While we are not requiring customers to take any specific action at this time, it is a good security practice to regularly update Internet passwords.”
American Funds Yes Yes Yes American Funds told customers to change their username and passwords, as the company “learned of a very narrow window of risk to those who logged into americanfunds.com between December 12, 2013 and April 14, 2014.”
Bank of America No No No “A majority of our platforms do NOT use OpenSSL, and the ones that do, we have confirmed no vulnerabilities.”
Barclays No No No No comment provided.
Capital One No No No “Capital One uses a version of encryption that is not vulnerable to Heartbleed.”
Chase No No No “These sites don’t use the encryption software that is vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug.”
Citigroup No No No Citigroup does not use Open SSL in “customer-facing retail banking and credit card sites and mobile apps”
E*Trade No No No E*Trade is still investigating.
Fidelity No No No “We have multiple layers of security in place to protect our customer sites and services.”
PNC No No No “We have tested our online and mobile banking systems and confirmed that they are not vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug.”
Schwab No No No “Efforts to date have not detected this vulnerability on Schwab.com or any of our online channels.”
Scottrade No No No “Scottrade does not use the affected version of OpenSSL on any of our client-facing platforms.”
TD Ameritrade No No No TD Ameritrade “doesn’t use the versions of openSSL that were vulnerable.”
TD Bank No No No “We’re currently taking precautions and steps to protect customer data from this threat and have no reason to believe any customer data has been compromised in the past.”
T. Rowe Price No No No “The T. Rowe Price websites are not vulnerable to the “Heartbleed” SSL bug nor were they vulnerable in the past.”
U.S. Bank No No No “We do not use OpenSSL for customer-facing, Internet banking channels, so U.S. Bank customer data is NOT at risk.”
Vanguard No No No “We are not using, and have not used, the vulnerable version of OpenSSL.”
Venmo Yes Yes Yes Venmo sent an email to its users, saying the company took “immediate steps to patch the potential vulnerability” and recommended that they change their passwords.
Wells Fargo No No No No reason provided.

Government and Taxes

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
1040.com No No No “We’re not vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, as we do not use OpenSSL.”
FileYour Taxes.com No No No “We continuously patch our servers to keep them updated. However, the version we use was not affected by the issue, so no action was taken.”
H&R Block No No No “We are reviewing our systems and currently have found no risk to client data from this issue.”
Healthcare .gov Unclear Yes Yes Healthcare.gov originally told Mashable, “Consumer accounts are not affected by this vulnerability.” But they later posted, “We have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers’ passwords out of an abundance of caution.”
Intuit (TurboTax) No No No Turbotax wrote that “engineers have verified TurboTax is not affected by Heartbleed.” The company has issued new certificates anyway, and said it’s not “proactively advising” users to change their passwords.
IRS No No No “The IRS continues to accept tax returns as normal … and systems continue operating and are not affected by this bug. We are not aware of any security vulnerabilities related to this situation.”
TaxACT No No No “Customers can update their passwords at any time, although we are not proactively advising them to do so at this time.”
USAA Yes Yes Yes USAA said that it has “already taken measures to help prevent a data breach and implemented a patch earlier this week.”

Other

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
Box Yes Yes Yes “We’re currently working with our customers to proactively reset passwords and are also reissuing new SSL certificates for added protection.”
Dropbox Yes Yes Yes On Twitter: “We’ve patched all of our user-facing services & will continue to work to make sure your stuff is always safe.”
Evernote No No No “Evernote’s service, Evernote apps, and Evernote websites … all use non-OpenSSL implementations of SSL/TLS to encrypt network communications.”Full Statement
GitHub Yes Yes Yes GitHub said it has patched all its systems, deployed new SSL certificates and revoked old ones. GitHub is asking all users to change password, enable two-factor authentication and “revoke and recreate personal access and application tokens.”
IFTTT Yes Yes Yes IFTTT emailed all its users and logged them out, prompting them to change their password on the site.
OKCupid Yes Yes Yes “We, like most of the Internet, were stunned that such a serious bug has existed for so long and was so widespread.”
Spark Networks (JDate, Christian Mingle) No No No Sites do not use OpenSSL.
SpiderOak Yes Yes No Spideroak said it patched its servers, but the desktop client doesn’t use a vulnerable version of OpenSSL, so “customers do not need to take any special action.”
Wikipedia(if you have an account) Yes Yes Yes “We recommend changing your password as a standard precautionary measure, but we do not currently intend to enforce a password change for all users.” Full Statement
WordPress Yes Yes Yes WordPress confirmed that it was vulnerable to Heartbleed and that it has patched its servers “within a few hours of the public disclosure.” WordPress is not forcing users to change their passwords, but said users “are welcome” to do it.
Wunderlist Yes Yes Yes “You’ll have to simply log back into Wunderlist. We also strongly recommend that you reset your password for Wunderlist.”Full Statement

Password Managers

Was it affected? Is there a patch? Do you need to change your password? What did they say?
1Password No No No 1Password said in a blog post that its technology “is not built upon SSL/TLS in general, and not upon OpenSSL in particular.” So users don’t need to change their master password.
Dashlane Yes Yes No Dashlane said in a blog post users’ accounts were not impacted and the master password is safe as it is never transmitted. The site does use OpenSSL when syncing data with its servers but Dashlane said it has patched the bug, issued new SSL certificates and revoked previous ones.
LastPass Yes Yes No “Though LastPass employs OpenSSL, we have multiple layers of encryption to protect our users and never have access to those encryption keys.” Users don’t need to change their master passwords because they’re never sent to the server. But passwords for other sites stored in LastPass might need to be changed.

Reporters who contributed to this story include Samantha Murphy Kelly, Lorenzo Francheschi-Bicchierai, Seth Fiegerman, Adario Strange and Kurt Wagner.

Guide: How to format an external drive to work seamlessly with Macs and PCs without third party software.

mac external drive exfat

External drives allow you to quickly moves large files between computers. If you want yours to seamlessly work with both Macs and PCs, your external drive needs to use a filesystem that is supported by both platforms. The problem is that by default Windows uses NFTS, and Macs use HFS. Out of the box, Windows can not read or write HFS drives, and Macs are unable to write to NTFS drives.

There are free and paid third party solutions to get Macs to work with NTFS, and Windows to understand HFS. But these often cost money, are slow/buggy, or you may simply not have permissions to install software on the computer. Below I’ve outlined how you can use FAT or exFAT filesystems to make your external drive is compatible with Macs and PCs out of the box, for free.

Warning: Following this guide includes re-formatting your external drive, this will erase the data from your drive. Make a backup copy of files you don’t want to lose before starting.

Option 1: FAT

Pros: Works natively with all Macs and all PCs.

Cons: Can’t handle files that are larger then 4GB in size.

How to format using FAT:

  1. Open disk Utility on your Mac. (Find it quickly with Spotlight, click on Magnifying glass and start typing Disk Utility.)
    mac spotlight type disk utility
  2. Select the drive you wish to format.mac select the drive you want to format
  3. Select the “Erase” tab in Disk Utility.mac select erase tab
  4. Select MS-DOS (FAT) from the drop down box.mac select fat from dropbox
  5. Click Erase and follow the prompts.
  6. Let it finish, and you’re done.

Option 2: exFAT

Pros: Can work with large files.

Cons: Not compatible with older operating systems. You must have Mac OS X 10.6.5 or newer, and PCs need to be Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7, or newer.

Although it is possible to format a drive as exFAT from Disk Utility on the Mac.

How to format using exFAT (on Windows):

  1. Plug the disk into a Windows Vista SP1 or Windows 7 computer.
  2. Open the Computer window.windows computer menu
  3. Right click on the drive, and select Format.windows format drive right click
  4. Select exFAT from the drop down box, and click on Start.select exfat from drop down box
  5. Done! Now this drive will work with Macs and PCs.

Although FAT is more compatible with older systems, the maximum 4GB filesize is very limiting. You would not be able to use this disk for long HD videos and large disk images, for example. For this reason I would recommend exFAT. By this point in time, most computers you encounter will work fine with exFAT.

Use the exFAT File System and Never Format Your External Drive Again

Use the exFAT File System and Never Format Your External Drive Again  

Using an external drive between Mac and Windows computers can be a hassle, since you constantly have to reformat it to fit which computer you’re using it on. Instead of reformatting it all the time, just use the much more platform-independent exFAT and never format it again.

Windows’ default NTFS is read-only on OS X, not read-and-write, and Windows computers can’t even read Mac-formatted HFS+ drives. FAT32 works for both OSes, but has a 4GB size limit per file, so it isn’t ideal. You can always install drivers for those other OSes, but that doesn’t help when you’re sharing files with your friends’ computers. Besides, it’s kind of a hassle. The exFAT file system is a much simpler option.

exFAT has been around for awhile, but we’ve never really talked about it. Essentially, it’s a file system that’s both readable and writable on any modern Mac or Windows machine (sorry, Leopard users). All you need to do is format the drive on a Windows machine and you’re good to go. Note that you can’t format it on OS X, you have to format it on Windows for it to be compatible with both platforms (Update: A lot of you are noting that OS X formats these just fine, so your mileage may vary). To do so, just:

  1. Open up Windows Explorer and right-click on your drive in the sidebar. Choose “Format”.
  2. In the “File System” dropdown, choose exFAT instead of NTFS.
  3. Click Start and close this window when finished.

From then on, that drive should work fantastically between Mac and Windows machines. It won’t work with Linux unless you install Linux’s exFAT drivers, but for most people, exFAT is just about perfect.

 

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