UberStudent Changelog

New in version 4.0

July 21st, 2014
  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS base
  • Linux 3.13 Kernel
  • Xfce 4.10
  • 32-bit and 64-bit ISO versions, for trying and installing on PCs and Macs
  • 32-bit and 64-bit OVA versions, for trying and running in VirtualBox

New in version 3.0 (June 30th, 2014)

  • Dedicated Repositories! This represents a major step forward for UberStudent's maturity as a Linux distribution. Updates and fixes will be quick and seamless.
  • 3.0 is a dividing line between itself and prior editions of UberStudent. Most will agree that it is the most polished Xfce desktop available anywhere, period, full stop. New Linux users will experience a very smooth transition. Meticulous attention to their experience has been given top priority. A goal in developing 3.0 has been to fix common Linux desktop annoyances so as to improve the user experience and reduce support requests, while facilitating intellectual curiosity about open source computing. Seasoned power users will be equally delighted.
  • It's cliché, but there are really too many changes to list.
  • Dedicated UberStudent repository:
  • Any needed fixes will be quick and easy. No PPAs are used--none. Besides the UberStudent repository (http://uberstudent.net), the official Google, Oracle, Dropbox, and Medibuntu repositories are part of the default repository configurations. As a distribution downstream of Ubuntu, UberStudent in most cases remains dependent upon, but in some cases overrides, packages in the Ubuntu repositories. The remaining packages are specific to UberStudent. Probably the singular most important package in the UberStudent repository is uberstudent-xfce-default-settings-enduser. 50 MB of very important files in the package fix common Linux and Xfce annoyances, and give much of UberStudent its polish and unique functionality.
  • A lighter ISO:
  • Version 3.0 is 1 GB smaller than prior versions. This was accomplished primarily by avoiding QT dependencies. For example, although the eBook reader FBReader is less versatile than Calibre, Calibre is no longer installed by default. As well, large programs like Skype and Google Earth are no longer installed by default and have been replaced in the menu with an entry you can click on to install the programs. Once installed, the entry to install the program gets removed automagically from the applications menu.
  • Applications menus:
  • 3.0's menus are even more tidy and well-organized. Some people disliked that prior versions contained webapps in the normal menus. Now, in each application category, WebApps, Documentation, and Resources have their own subcategory in the menu. Using about 3,000 lines of code the menus in UberStudent exploit the full range of freedesktop.org specifications, compensate for the shortcomings of those developers who fail to sub- categorize their applications, and then push the matter into current times without waiting around for upstream specification changes. For example, a Streaming subcategory is used in the Multimedia menu to reflect a now-common sub-category of application. Additionally, the System entry on the task bar is now called Settings and runs the Xfce Settings Manager. An overwrite of its startup script allows only one instance to run at a time. WebApps in each category have separate packages that can be removed and installed at will from the UberStudent repository.
  • New-user helps:
  • Not everyone is a geek yet. :-) Accordingly, UberStudent contains thoughtful and very helpful assistance for new users in strategic places and ways. Some examples include:
  • Whenever a program lacks good documentation by default, it is added in to a Documentation submenu of the program's menu entry. If I missed any program, please file a bug report and suggestions for documentation resources.
  • The UberStudent Documentation Wiki is growing. You can help! A link in the menu points to it.
  • When you use LibreOffice Writer the second time you boot up, a dialog will display asking if you wish to go to a brief tutorial about interoperability between word processor file formats. Keep in mind that Windows literally hides file extensions by default, thus facilitating user ignorance. New LibreOffice users need to know about saving and sending word processor files appropriately.
  • Imagination files are not portable across computers. Many a user, myself included, has had to find this out the hard way, with miserable consequences and a sleepless night right before a presentation. A script runs the first time the user runs Imagination, informing them of the non-portability issue and asking if they wish to be taken to a brief tutorial about the matter and how to work around it. This is essential knowledge for new users of Imagination.
  • The version of Impressive in UberStudent is no longer a command line-only application. It instead opens a small GUI from which you navigate to a PDF presentation file and display it with the default Impressive settings. This makes the program accessible to new users and easier to use for all.
  • Update dialogs, such as in GDebi and Synaptic, have been changed to show what is going on by default, rather than hiding it--simple Glade tweaks. A few yet remain to do. The point here is to facilitate intellectual curiosity about Linux. People have to first see what is going on before they can wonder about it.
  • KeepNote Example remains, as in prior versions. It is an example usage of using KeepNote during an entire semester of academic work that students can use to get a good idea of how they might use KeepNote to organize their own semester.
  • Much more!
  • UberStudent Update Manager amd Software Sources:
  • Version 3.0 has dispensed with Ubuntu's update manager. The update manager and software sources configuration tools in UberStudent have been forked from Linux Mint's Update Manager and Software Sources tools and undergone some redesigning. The Update Manager takes a very conservative approach to updating your system so as to favor a stable, smooth-running system that is less subject to negative upstream issues or just doing updates for the sake of updates. The Software Sources tool is designed to make it very difficult for you to break your system. One click restores the default settings. Synaptic is still installed by default but configured to discourage doing updates from it in favor of the Update Manager. Traditional apt methods on the command line for updating and installing packages of course remain in their upstream state. The Ubuntu Software Center is installed and has been configured to pick up the UberStudent repository. The lsb-release is UberStudent. You won't see Ubuntu in grub, ubiquity, etc.
  • UberStudent Welcome Screen:
  • The Welcome Screen is a small program that runs at startup until the user decides her or she no longer wishes it to. It contains links to help, etc. Importantly, there is an entry in the Welcome Screen for installing a comprehensive set of multimedia codecs, which draws in some packages from the Medibuntu repository. After the codecs are installed, the Welcome Screen no longer displays the option to install them. The Welcome Screen was forked from Linux Mint, reworked, and given a KISS redesign.
  • UberOxygen Icons:
  • The UberOxygen icon theme is believed to now be comprehensively ported to GTK, stock, and Xfce--there are no known gaps and no known fallbacks on to the GNOME icon set. This has been accomplished primarily by a good amount of symlinking, and a fair amount of remixing Oxygen icon components wherever there was no equivalent; in some cases I have designed new icons in the Oxygen style, e.g., the ones that show the strength of your wireless. If you do happen to find any gaps, please file a bug report. If you install these icons into GNOME 3, you will still find gaps, which I will not fix but will be happy to incorporate GNOME fixes contributed by others.
  • Zotero with LyX and/or LibreOffice and Chromium and/or Firefox:
  • All of the needed Firefox and Chromium extensions are in the UberStudent repositories, as is both Zotero Standalone and Zotero Firefox. It was something of a feat, but you'll find that everything is configured "to just work" and share the same Zotero database. Only in LyX must the user set a path in the program's preferences, but there is documentation in a sub-menu near LyX showing how.
  • Academic templates:
  • A script runs at first boot and places a set of templates for academic work into the user's home Template folder. These become available in the context menu. The script currently only does this if the language is English, but it is capable of detecting any user language and placing templates for that language. With user help, multiple languages can be implemented in future versions.
  • Default compositing by compton:
  • 3.0 disables Xfce native compositing by default in favor of a much nicer set from compton. If you try to turn on Xfce's native compositing, a warning box informs you of a few steps to take to turn off the compton compositing, which is done from a simple entry in the System > Look and Feel > Compositing menu. In that menu, there are four levels of compositing you can toggle between: Least, Default, Most, and None. Using any of these menu entries first smartly checks if Xfce's native or any other known compositer is running and turns it off, to prevent more than one compositer running at a time.
  • Conky on your desktop:
  • The UberStudent logo on your desktop is not part of a desktop background. It's a conky script that runs at startup. It discretely adds some system information, as well. If you change the background image, the logo remains. If you don't want the logo displayed, just turn it off in the startup programs.
  • Thunar Custom Actions:
  • A very useful set of Thunar custom actions is installed by default. You can "Quick View" or "Quick Play" every type of file you're likely ever to encounter. Gloobus Preview handles the mime types it can handle, while Quick Play of odd media files are done in a command prompt. You can move and copy files to specific locations, and more. The overall goal has been to avoid clutter and overload but add some very useful functionality from the go. A set of Thunar custom actions are installed for the root account but the package may be removed, while another optional package contains documentation for configuring your own custom actions and making UberStudent use them on startup.
  • DocFetcher:
  • I packaged the latest version of DocFetcher, and with assistance from the DocFetcher developer the issue of high CPU usage should now be fixed. Please file a bug report if there are any issues.
  • Guake Terminal:
  • The version of Guake terminal in UberStudent displays at an 80% default width, rather than its upstream 100%, and you can configure the percentage to your liking using gonf-editor. Guake Developers: This should be the default behavior of Guake, don't you think? The patches are in the UberStudent repository for the taking.
  • Default programs not available in the Ubuntu repositories:
  • Several programs are default in UberStudent that are either not available in the Ubuntu repositories or available in only older versions. They are contained in the UberStudent repository. These include Anki, Autokey, BootRepair, Dropbox, Format Junkie, Kazam Screen Recorder, and a few others. Tools that have been developed by UberStudent and that are contained in the UberStudent repository include Audacious OMG!, DebCache Cleaner, Disc Path Locater, GPACalc, Housecleaner, Red Curtain, and a few others.

New in version 2.10 (March 15th, 2013)

  • All known bugs from prior releases are dead, squashed, and I've spent weeks putting this release through rigorous testing to squash any that might otherwise have emerged
  • Contains a development version of Thunar, v.1.6.2, which brings a long-requested feature to the file browser: tabs! The version of Thunar functions stably, so there's no need to be fearful about using this release for production
  • 2.7 gig download, which is 1 gig smaller than the prior release. This was accomplished by by
  • Making some program selections that avoided heavy KDE and mono dependencies.
  • Providing menu links for very weighty installations, e.g., one for installing spellcheck support into KeepNote rather than installing it by default trimmed 40 MB.
  • Removing some program redundancy.
  • Gorgeous desktop compositing turned on by default, provided by compton.
  • Some menu redesigning - there are submenus for Webapps and Documentation in each category, for example.
  • The UberOxygen icon theme is now _comprehensively_ ported to XFCE and GTK
  • Some new art
  • Much more!