How To: Purge All Software from a Linux PPA and Restore the Default Software

I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 64-bit the other day, and am still in the process of getting the system just-so – but in the process one of the things I did was install Nautilus Elementary, a modified version of the standard Nautilus file manager with extra-bits and pieces, only it hangs all the time when I browse my NAS – so it has to go!

As I’d installed it through a separate third-party PPA (this one – linked at the bottom of the page), it can be a pain to know what’s installed from what PPA when you want to go back to default Ubuntu repos – but there’s a quick-fix:

Go grab purge-ppa from here (link is again at the bottom of the page), and then run that bad-boy on the PPA where you want to remove all software from that PPA. In my case, that meant running:

Job done! PPA removed from sources list. All PPA software uninstalled. Original s/w restored! Now, because it’s nautilus in this case I just need to run nautilus -q to kill all running instances of the old elementary version, and I’m back in the game with the fully-working standard repo stuff. Mice! =D

Thanks to for all the good stuff – had never seen the site before, but am well impressed w/ all the neat new stuff they cover!

How To: Stop Windows Vista/Windows 7 from Automatically Restarting Your PC after Updates

I went to clone a USB hard-drive onto another last night, and because VirtualBox USB throughput is pretty slow, and there was a couple of hundred GB to copy, I booted into Windows to do it. So far, so good. Only at some point during the night Windows decided to install some petty IE fix or some shit, and then proceeded to restart my box. Mid-clone. It probably put up a 15 minute warning saying I’m going to reboot your box unless you stop me, and then without any further input just did it.

That is just some of the most wrong-headed thinking I can possibly imagine. It’s basically saying: I don’t give a shit about anything you’re doing. I don’t care if you haven’t saved your files or you’re in the middle of something. I’m just gonna reboot. Because I want to. And I’m in charge, not you.

You can fix this default, and frankly rage-inducing, behavior as follows:

1.) Fire up the Group Policy Editor by going Start | Run | gpedit.msc

Fix Vista auto-reboot with gpedit.msc

2.) Go to: Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Windows Update and modify the No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations to Enabled

Fix Vista auto-reboot with gpedit.msc

3.) Reboot for it to take effect. (How ironic ;))

It should be noted that if you’re on a domain, domain-level settings can override group policy ones, and that after the restart window will still pop up after updating Windows – it’ll just never reboot the machine without user confirmation that it’s okay to do so.

Oh, and if you’re on Vista Home Edition, you don’t even get group policy tools in the first place, in which case you can get busy with the registry as per this article – or use the registry file they provide, or just use this Auto Reboot Remover tool.

How To: Install Thunderbird 3 in Linux

Update: In Ubuntu 10.04 Thunderbird 3 is now in the repositories so you can just install it through Synaptic or use sudo apt-get install thunderbird

Thunderbird is my email client of choice, but Thunderbird 2.x has some issues that bug me, like poor search facilities, no tabbed emails etc. so I want the next version with all its added goodness. However, Thunderbird 3 isn’t packaged in the Ubuntu repos yet, and I don’t feel like adding a PPA to my software sources (where Thunderbird is oddly branded as its project codename: Shredder) or waiting a couple of months until it’s available – so I’ve installed the new version manually and hooked it up to my Thunderbird 2 emails like this:

Thunderbird Logo

1.) Get Thunderbird 3 from

2.) Extract it by right-clicking on the file and selecting Extract Here, or from the console with something along the lines of:

Why xfvj? Because:
x = Extract
f = File mode (use the file listed on the command line)
v = Verbose (print a bunch of stuff to the screen so you can see what’s happening)
j = The file is compressed (you can tell because it’s called thunderbird-3.0.tar.bz2), so pipe it through bzip2 to decompress it first

3.) Copy it to a more reasonable location where you want it to live with:

4.) Sort out your email profile:

Thunderbird 2.0 uses the location ~/mozilla-thunderbird (i.e. a folder called .mozilla-thunderbird located in your home directory) to store your email, while Thunderbird 3 uses ~/.thunderbird, so when I did this I hedged my bets to make sure TB3 didn’t knacker the only copy of my email hive by creating a copy of the ~/.mozilla-thunderbird folder and renaming it to .thunderbird

5.) Create a launcher for our new Thunderbird install:

Assuming you’re using gnome, right-click on the top gnome panel and select Add to Panel, then select Custom Application Launcher and enter the following details:

Thunderbird 3 Launcher Details

6.) Launch Thunderbird 3 from your spiffy new launcher

Ch-Ching! New, emaily goodness is yours for the taking. You might want to uninstall Thunderbird 2 from Synaptic and nuke your old ~/.mozillia-thunderbird folder once everything’s up and running as it’s pretty unlikely you’ll ever be going back to an older version.

Shouts out to Parick Micka for his post which got me started, as the official Thunderbird install/upgrade instructions for linux – well, I couldn’t find them, and don’t know if they even exist.

How To: Install Open Office 3.1 from .debs in 9.04 Jaunty

Open Office 3.1 is out with much new goodness, and I don’t want to have to wait for it to make its way to the standard repositories or add any 3rd party repos to my sources.list plus the repo keys, so I’m just gonna go with the debs. Here’s how:

1.) Remove/Purge the current version of Open Office from your system however you see fit. Synaptic Package Manager would do it.

2.) Get yourself an appropriate Open Office 3.1 package in .deb format (i.e. for 64 Bit Linux I’ve grabbed the OOo_3.1.0_LinuxX86-64_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz file from here)

2.) Extract the downloaded package somewhere and navigate to it in a bash terminal/console

3.) In the terminal, go into the DEBS sub-folder in wherever you extracted Open Office and run:

4.) Once that’s installed, go into the desktop-integration folder and run sudo dpkg -i *.deb again there to install the menu shortcuts.

Tap-tap. Job done.