Thursday, December 24, 2009

Customizing Ubuntu Lucid (alpha)

With the latest releases of Ubuntu has come a loss in being able to customize certain things via a gui.  For instance, Ubuntu used to give you all sorts of options to customize the login screen, but if you look now at System >> Administration >> Login Screen, virtually all of those options are gone.  Also, Grub2 has come to Ubuntu.  For the old grub, Startup-Manager (SUM) was a great gui tool that let you tweak a number of things from the login timer to the splash image.  SUM has limited functionality with Grub2.  See for details.

Customizing the login screen

Changing the login theme

Press Alt+F2, and run "gksudo -u gdm dbus-launch gnome-appearance-properties".  Use the "Theme" tab to customize the login theme, and the "Background" tab to customize the background image of the login screen.  After doing this, you might notice some new blue icons in your notification area.  Go to System >> Preferences >> Keyboard, click the "Accessiblity" tab, and uncheck "Accessibility features can be toggled with keyboard shortcuts" to get rid of one of them, and then reboot to get rid of the other.

Changing the "System Ready" sound

This is the drums sound that plays when you get to the login screen.  The file is located at "/usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/system-ready.ogg".  Run nautilus with root permissions via Alt+F2 "gksudo nautilus", and browse to the folder " /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo".  Rename "system-ready.ogg" to something else (e.g. "system-ready.ogg.bak") to disable the sound.  If you want to replace it with your own custom sound, back up the original file by renaming it, then make a new file called system-ready.ogg in that folder and it will play your new sound.  The program Audacity is good for trimming a sound file and saving it in the .ogg format.

Customizing Grub2
Be careful editing your grub2.  If you screw something up, you might have trouble booting, so have a LiveCD handy to help you undo whatever you did.

You can try StartUp-Manager for some limited customization options.

You can find plenty of detailed info in the Ubuntu documentation .  The only spot it lacks is in configuring a spash image, for which there is an easier method if you're running Lucid (which is in alpha right now, so I'm not suggesting you should run it).  Perhaps this method works in earlier Ubuntu versions too, but I don't know.

Configuring splash image in Lucid
1) Install grub2-splashimages.   This will give you a set of background images to choose from.

GUI Instructions:
Run Synaptic via System >> Administration >> Synaptic Package Manager.
Search for grub2-splashimages, right click on it and select "Mark for Installation"
Click "Apply" in the toolbar.

Terminal Instructions:
sudo apt-get install grub2-splashimages

If you want to create your own image, see the Ubuntu documentation for saving your image correctly, and then put it in the folder /usr/share/images/grub (use alt+f2, then type "gksudo nautilus" to do this, or you'll get a permissions error).

2) Use alt+f2, then type "gksudo nautilus".  Create the folder "desktop-base" in /usr/share (unless it already exists).  Create the document "" in this folder, and open this file for editing (right click, and select "Open with gedit")

Terminal Instructions:
sudo su
mkdir /usr/share/desktop-base
gedit /usr/share/desktop-base/

This is what my "" file looks like:

The first line specifies the image, the second the color of text, and the third the color of higlighted text.  Text color is specified as "text color/background color", where black as a background color is just transparent.

3) Run "sudo update-grub2" in the terminal.  Be patient, it might take a few seconds before you see it do anything.  You should see a line like "Found background image: Lake_mapourika_NZ.tga" in the output.

4) Reboot and see if it worked.  Go back and change the text color if it's hard to read.

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