Jan 20, 2017

Albert Quick Launcher 0.9.0 Released With External Extensions Support

Albert is a quick launcher for Linux inspired by Alfred (Mac). It can be used to run applications, open files, search the web, open bookmarks in your web browser, calculate math expressions, and more.

Albert quicklauncher

The application is written in C++ and based on the Qt5 framework, and is desktop environment agnostic, meaning you can use it on any DE you want, be it Unity, Xfce, GNOME, Cinnamon, KDE, and so on.

Albert features:
  • plugins available for running applications, calculate math expressions, open Chrome or Firefox bookmarks, open files, run system commands (shutdown, lock, suspend, etc.), run terminal commands, control VirtualBox and search the web;
  • the extensions are configurable: you can edit, add or remove web searches, configure which directories and file types the Files plugin should index, etc.;
  • supports fuzzy search (this is disabled by default and can be enabled individually, per extension);
  • you can modify the actions taken by pressing the modifier keys;
  • configurable hotkey, maximum number of proposals, and more;
  • ships with 35+ themes.

Albert quicklauncher
Albert settings

Albert 0.9.0
was released recently, bringing a new "External extensions" plugin that allows running programs and scripts as if they were Albert extensions. An example of such an extension for GoldenDict can be found in the Albert 0.9.0 release announcement. For writing and using external extensions, see the Albert documentation.

Another change in the latest Albert is a new Firefox bookmarks extension, which lets you search (and open) through Firefox bookmarks via Albert. From the extension preferences you can select the Firefox profile Albert should use, enable fuzzy search and choose if the bookmarks should open in your default web browser or Firefox:

Albert quicklauncher

The VirtualBox extension was updated as well, receiving options to control the state of the virtual machine (besides running it, you can now pause, stop, save, etc.). Note that this extension doesn't seem to work with VirtualBox downloaded from Oracle's website (or at least that was the case in my test).

Other changes in Albert 0.9.0 include:
  • added option to clear input text on hide (off by default);
  • improved icon lookup performance;
  • fixed random lagging while typing;
  • various other performance improvements and bug fixes.

To use Albert, simply assign it a hotkey in its settings (something like Ctrl + Space - make sure it's not already in use), then use the hotkey to invoke Albert. Note that Albert doesn't start automatically when you log in, so you'll have to add it to your startup applications manually.

Install Albert in Ubuntu or Linux Mint via PPA

To install the latest Albert in Ubuntu 16.10, 16.04 or 14.04 / Linux Mint 18 or 17, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt update
sudo apt install albert
If you don't want to add the PPA, download the deb from HERE.

For more about using Albert, installing it in other Linux distributions, etc. check out its documentation. Report any bugs you may find @ GitHub.

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Jan 18, 2017

Add A Searchable Command Palette To Any GTK3 Application Using Plotinus

Plotinus is a library that adds a searchable command palette to any GTK+ 3 application, similar to the Atom and Sublime Text Command Palette feature (or Unity HUD).

Plotinus with Gedit

To use it, press Ctrl + Shift + P and you can easily find the action you're looking for by typing a few letters, without having to go through the application menus. The keyboard shortcut cannot be changed, unless you build Plotinus from source.

You don't have to make any modifications to GTK+ 3 applications to use this, you'll only need Plotinus, which can be used either for some specific applications, or globally, for all GTK+ 3 applications.

Since I'm not sure if it works properly with all GTK+ 3 applications (I didn't encounter any issues in my test though), the Plotinus package from the WebUpd8 PPA doesn't activate Plotinus globally, but you can do this manually if you wish.

Installing and using Plotinus

For Ubuntu 16.10 or 16.04 / Linux Mint 18 (I was unable to build it for Ubuntu 14.04), you can install Plotinus by using the main WebUpd8 PPA. Add the PPA and install Plotinus using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt update
sudo apt install libplotinus
Alternatively, you can download the deb from HERE.

For how to install Plotinus in other Linux distributions, see its installation section on GitHub.

To use Plotinus for an application, use the following command:
GTK3_MODULES=/path/to/libplotinus.so application
where "application" is the application executable and /path/to/libplotinus.so is the exact path to libplotinus.so. If you've used the WebUpd8 PPA, the path is:
  • 32bit: /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libplotinus/libplotinus.so
  • 64bit: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libplotinus/libplotinus.so

For example, to run Gedit with Plotinus enabled on a 64bit system (assuming Plotinus was installed via the WebUpd8 PPA), use the following command (make sure no Gedit instances are currently running):
GTK3_MODULES=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libplotinus/libplotinus.so gedit

You can either run this command from a terminal, or edit the application .desktop file and change the "Exec" line to this command.

To enable Plotinus globally (for all GTK+ 3 applications), open /etc/environment with a text editor (as root) and at the end of this file, paste the following:
where "/path/to/libplotinus.so" is the exact path to libplotinus.so (if you've installed Plotinus from the WebUpd8 PPA, see the exact path for 32bit and 64bit above). Then restart the session (logout/login).

To download the source, report bugs, etc., see the Plotinus GitHub page.

Also see: How To Get A Unity-Like HUD (Searchable Menu) In Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Linux Mint, More

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Jan 17, 2017

Secure Text Editor EncryptPad Sees New Release

EncryptPad, a free, open source text editor for sensitive information, was updated to version recently, bringing numerous bug fixes along with some minor new features.


EncryptPad is a text editor that can be used to save private information, such as passwords, credit card info and so on, and access the files by using a password, key files, or both. It can also be used to encrypt binary files as well, like images or videos, etc. The application is available for Linux, Windows and Mac.

For a bit more about EncryptPad, see our initial article: EncryptPad: Secure Text Editor That Protects Files With Passwords, Keys, Or Both

Changes in EncryptPad include:
  • in the File Encryption dialog, a radio button was added to select between EPD and GPG. Previously the user had to edit the extension manually to output to the GPG format;
  • there are now more properties in the preferences to control default encryption parameters: key file random sequence length, key file encryption properties, default file encryption properties (cipher, s2k, iterations, compression), the number of encryption keys to save or load without prompting the passphrase again;
  • the default number of iterations has been changed to 1015808
  • bug fix: if a decrypted passphrase-only EPD file contained less than 4 characters, the content was ignored and EncryptPad produced an empty file;
  • bug fix: when opening a plain-text file and saving it as encrypted, the encryption parameters did not reset to the default values but used the parameters of the last encrypted file;
  • bug fix: the encryptpad file command line parameter did not support non ASCII characters;
  • bug fix: when multiple EncryptPad instances were opened and preferences updated, the last instance overwrote the preferences changed in other instances on closing;
  • more.

A complete changelog can be found HERE.

Install EncryptPad in Ubuntu or Linux Mint

To make it easier to install EncryptPad in Ubuntu or Linux Mint, I've uploaded it to the main WebUpd8 PPA. Since security is very important for an encryption app, you may want to verify the PPA source integrity. The EncryptPad GitHub page explains exactly how to do this (but note that it's for an older EncryptPad version, hopefully it will be updated soon).

To add the PPA and install EncryptPad in Ubuntu 16.10, 16.04 or 14.04 / Linux Mint 18 or 17, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt update
sudo apt install encryptpad encryptcli
If you don't want to add the PPA, you can download the binaries from HERE (you'll need both encryptpad and encryptcli).

To download the source, AppImage, Windows or Mac binaries (as well as the source), see the EncryptPad GitHub page.

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Integrate Your Android Device With Ubuntu Using KDE Connect Indicator Fork

KDE Connect is a tool which allows your Android device to integrate with your Linux desktop. With KDE Connect Indicator, you can use KDE Connect on desktop that support AppIndicators, like Unity, Xfce (Xubuntu), and so on.

KDE Connect Indicator

The original KDE Connect Indicator hasn't been updated in about 2 year however, Steeven Lopes forked it, getting it to work with recent Ubuntu versions, while also adding various improvements:
  • support sending multiple files from the indicator;
  • new feature to find your phone;
  • new icons;
  • open KDE Connect settings from the indicator device status menu item;
  • added extensions for Nautilus, Caja and Nemo, which allow sending files from the file manager context menu;
  • bug fixes.
If you're not familiar with KDE Connect, here are some of its features:
  • display Android 4.3+ notifications on your desktop (I recommend Recent Notifications so you don't miss important notifications);
  • send and receive files (by default, the files are saved in ~/Downloads on the desktop and in the kdeconnect folder on the Android device);
  • share clipboard between your Android device and desktop;
  • allows using the Android device as a remote for Linux media players;
  • use your phone screen as your computer's touchpad;
  • uses TLS sockets encryption.

Here are a few screenshots of the KDE Connect Android app:

KDE Connect 1.0.x includes some new features, like triggering custom commands (you set this up on the desktop using the KDE Connect configuration, then launch them from the mobile device), displaying desktop notifications on the Android device (this plugin is disabled by default and you'll have to enable it on both the desktop and Android device to use it), and replying to SMS messages from the desktop. The SMS reply feature is not yet supported by KDE Connect Indicator.

The KDE Connect Indicator fork PPA only has packages for Ubuntu 16.04 (including KDEConnect 1.0, required by indicator). However, I've installed the packages in Ubuntu 16.10 and they installed successfully and everything worked, except browsing the device - but this didn't work in my Ubuntu 16.04 test either.

Sending and receiving files, displaying notifications on the desktop, shared clipboard, using the Android device to control media players or as the computer's touchpad, and so on, all worked in my test.

I should also mention that the indicator may disappear when the phone is in sleep mode, but it shows up again when you receive a notification or use your Android device.

Install KDE Connect Indicator fork in Ubuntu

Important: Before installing KDE Connect Indicator, it's important to mention that it depends on kdeconnect, a KDE package which will install quite a few KDE dependencies. If later on you want to remove KDE Connect and KDE Connect Indicator, you may want to save the list of packages which are installed by running the "apt install" command below, and manually remove those packages after you remove KDE Connect ("apt-get autoremove" won't work).

To be able to use KDE Connect Indicator, you'll need to install the KDE Connect application on your Android device.

Ubuntu 16.04: Steeven's KDE Connect Indicator fork is available in a PPA for Ubuntu 16.04. To add the PPA and install the indicator, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:varlesh-l/indicator-kdeconnect
sudo apt update
sudo apt install indicator-kdeconnect kdeconnect

Ubuntu 16.10: There are currently no Ubuntu 16.10 packages in the PPA, but you can add the PPA in Ubuntu 16.10 and change it to use the Ubuntu 16.04 packages. To do this and install KDE Connect Indicator in Ubuntu 16.10, use the commands below:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:varlesh-l/indicator-kdeconnect
sudo sed -i 's/yakkety/xenial/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/varlesh-l-ubuntu-indicator-kdeconnect-yakkety.list
sudo apt update
sudo apt install indicator-kdeconnect kdeconnect

Arch Linux users can install KDE Connect Indicator (git) via AUR (it uses the new fork).

Once installed, launch KDE Connect Indicator from the menu / dash. For pairing it with your Android device, see below.

Note: if you had an older version of KDEConnect installed before installing the version from the PPA, you may need to restart your system before KDE Connect Indicator works properly.

For source code, bug reports, see the KDE Connect Indicator fork GitHub page.

Pairing your Android device with KDE Connect Indicator

There are two ways you can pair KDE Connect Indicator with your Android device:
a) click "Request pairing" from the KDE Connect Indicator on your desktop, then accept the request from your phone;
b) select the desktop device from the KDE Connect application on your Android device, click "Request pairing, then on the desktop click "Request pairing" from the KDE Connect Indicator menu.

Thanks to Alex for the tip!

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