Gwibber is a Python/GTK microblogging client for Linux, and it will be installed by default with Ubuntu 10.4 (Lucid Lynx). It allows you to update any of your social networking sites one at a time, all at once, or in any combination. Gwibber supports:

  • Twitter
  • StatusNet
  • Facebook
  • FriendFeed
  • Digg
  • Flickr
  • Qaiku

Gwibber also allows you to slice and dice your own posts and the posts of your social networking friends in a number of ways. Below is a basic tutorial to get you started.

When you first start Gwibber, you will see a window that looks like this…

Connecting to Twitter with Gwibber

I’ll walk you though setting Gwibber up to interface with your Twitter account. The process for setting it up with other social networking accounts is practically identical. Set the drop-down selector to “Twitter” and press the Add button. You will now see the following window…

After entering your twitter username and password, click the Add button and the Close button. You will then be presented with Gwibber’s main console.

Note: For some social networking sites, Gwibber will prompt you to authorize a connection between itself and the site. All you have to do in those cases is click the Authorize button.

Now, when you enter text into the field at the bottom of the console and hit the Send button, the text will be sent via your Twitter account. Here is a console after setting up both Twitter and Facebook…

Notice that both my twitter and Facebook posts are present. Also notice the vertical bar of buttons on the left side of the console. It is (so far) comprised of three sets of similar buttons, each set having a different background color. The top set of buttons pertain to all of your social networking interfaces (i.e. in this case, Facebook and Twitter). There are also a couple of buttons in the bottom left corner of the console. Here is what each button does.

  • This button shows you all primary posts from all of your friends pertaining to all of your social networking accounts. It doesn’t show replies to those posts.
  • This button shows all primary posts pertaining to the account the icon is associated with. So, if the icon is in the twitter section (i.e. the section with the blue background above), it will show all of your twitter primary posts, as well as the primary posts of all your twitter friends.
  • This button shows all replies to your posts pertaining to the account the icon is associated with. So, if the icon is in the Facebook section, it will show your friends’ replies to your posts.
  • This button shows pictures posted by your friends pertaining to the account the icon is associated with.
  • This button shows private messages pertaining to the account the icon is associated with.
  • This button shows all primary messages you’ve sent (but not replies you’ve posted) pertaining to the account the icon is associated with. It also shows replies to your posts, but only if you’ve offered a response to the reply. Weird.
  • This button shows all primary posts by you and your friends for Facebook. It is sort of a Home button for Facebook.
  • This button does the same for Twitter.
  • In the bottom left corner of the console, there are also two buttons — one for Facebook and one for Twitter.  Clicking those buttons will turn them on and off. By doing so, you control which of your social networks your message will be posted to.



I just can’t help being nostalgic about CLI (Command Line Interface) apps. My first computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000 with a plastic membrane keyboard. I purchased it for $100 of hard-earned, lawn mowing money from a catalog, and — after waiting five miserable weeks for it to arrive — I plugged my Sinclair into a TV and started learning to program in BASIC.

I purchased books and magazines containing the code for numerous programs: checkbook registers, simple word processing programs, checkbook registers, games, checkbook registers, etc… After manually entering hundreds of lines of code, I’d save my programs on standard audio cassette tapes — the state-of-the-art data storage and retrieval media back then. (No, I’m not old enough to remember when punch cards were state-of-the-art storage.)

Graphical interfaces were pretty much unheard of at the time, so all of these programs were command line, or text-mode, programs. Today, the average computer user is more familiar with windowed and web-based software. And unless you’re a server administrator, a tech support guy or a bona fide computer nerd, it may not have occurred to you that CLI programs can actually be fun and useful.

Recently, I came across a very nice CLI program called task, maintained by the Taskwarrior project. As with most text-mode programs, you can’t sync it with your Android phone or access it from another computer unless you establish an ssh tunnel or VNC connection — far more technical fiddling than the average user cares to engage in. However, if you need a task management program with very basic project management functionality, and you only need to be able to access it from a single computer, you might want to give task a try.

Task is available for Fedora,  Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, MacOS X, and cygwin. Installation instructions are here. Once you have it installed, you must open a terminal and start it by running this command:

task shell

The first time you run task, it will request permission to create a configuration file. Just type “y” and press enter. Now, let’s add a few tasks. Run each of the following commands:

add “Saw boards”

add “Install doors”

add “Shingle roof”

add “Install tires”

add “Add oil”

Then have a look at your task list by running this command:


But wait! There’s more! Now let’s assign your tasks to projects. Run the following commands:

NOTE: the number listed in each command is a reference to the id number of the task:

1 project:House_Building

2 project:House_Building

3 project:House_Building

4 project:Car_Maintenance

5 project:Car_Maintenance

Then, list your tasks again.

Now, let’s give your tasks a priority and a due date. For priorities, you can use H, M or L (for high, medium and low). Due dates can be actual dates or shortcuts like today, tomorrow, Wednesday, eow (end of week), eom (end of month), and eoy (end of year). I’ll illustrate modifying one of our tasks. You can modify the rest as you see fit. Run this command, and then list your tasks again:

1 due:eow pri:H

Now lets mark a couple of your tasks as completed. Run:

1 done

2 done

4 done

List your prayers and notice tasks 1, 2 and 4 are no longer there. Now, let’s view a project summary. Run:


Since you had three tasks in the House_Building project, and you completed two of them, sixty-six percent of your work in that project is done. Likewise, you did fifty percent of your work on the Car_Maintenance project.

Task also has a number of other neat features more fully explained in its manual pages and the Taskwarrior website. For example, it allows you to create sub-projects ( and House_Building.electrical), supports recurring tasks, and provides some basic time tracking functionality. It also allows you to slice and dice your task listings in a number of ways, including by due date, by project and by overdue tasks.

Give task a try and let me know what you think of it.

I found Alie the Ubuntu Lab, a Yellow Labrador Retriever,  when she darted across a remote stretch of highway near Alamosa, Colorado. She had no collar, was covered with mud and was a little malnourished. We took her home, cleaned her up, and brought her to the vet to see if she had a micro-chip. After making every effort to determine whether she had been maliciously dumped or accidentally lost, we came to the conclusion she had been abandoned. We decided to adopt her and haven’t regretted the decision for a moment. The vet said she was about twelve weeks old.

Every member of the family has developed a unique, special bond with Alie. She is very tolerant and fun-loving — despite our skewed notion of what constitutes fun.

Alie is very smart and needs to be challenged. To accommodate, I began training her for upland bird hunting and waterfowl hunting. She’s turning out to be a fine bird dog.

She is now about ten months old and is very sensitive to our daily rhythms. When I’m ready for a nap, so is Alie.

It’s true that a dog is man’s best friend (with the exception, of course, of his wife). But it’s especially true if you’re talking about his bird dog.

At System76, we are now testing Lucid Lynx (Ubunu 10.04) across our product line, and it is promising to be the nicest Ubuntu release yet. While it is beyond the scope of this post to describe our progress on any particular system, I would like to make a few observations about Lucid to get your saliva flowing.

First of all, it is very polished, or, as my 19-year old son would say, it is tight. The stock theme, Ambiance, is somewhat Mac-esque with circular window decoration buttons sitting in an oval-shaped inset on the left corner of the window. If you’ve never used a Mac, having the buttons in the left corner takes a few minutes to get used to, but the new look definitely is an improvement over the previous Human theme. If I had to give you two words to describe it, I’d say: professional and fun. And who couldn’t stand to have a little more fun being professional?

While Lucid’s default purple background isn’t really my cup of tea, there are a number of other background options available, and purple is admittedly a marked improvement over the traditional blah-brown. But beyond appearances, there are a number of other changes in Lucid. Here are a few of them:

  • Probably the first thing you will notice is how fast it is. It boots and resumes from suspend faster, largely because the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) has been remove from the boot process. It also shuts down faster, and stores and retrieves information faster, largely due to the use of the ext4 filesystem. I won’t even tell you how fast it boots with a solid state drive. If you don’t have one, you would be green with envy; and if if you do have one, you would not be able to contain yourself until release day.
  • Fans of the GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) will quickly notice that this fine piece of software is absent. That’s OK. It’s still in the repos. They scared me for a minute with that one.
  • The Gwibber Social Client is a nice addition to Ubuntu. While it seems to be a bit of a CPU hog, we hope it will be patched up by release day. Gwibber is a Python/GTK microblogging client that supports Twitter,, StatusNet, Facebook, Flickr, Digg, FriendFeed, and Qaiku. Using Gwibber, you can update all of your social networking accounts (or whichever combination of them you want to update) with a single click. Pretty slick.
  • The Monitors interface, previously called Display in Ubuntu’s menu system, is markedly improved for machines with Intel graphics. I’ve never seen an easier, more straight-forward way to set up a spanned monitor configuration. Kudos to the developers. This is the way it should be.
  • Besides having built-in integration with Ubuntu One, which allows you to sync important files across multiple computers, Rhythmbox is tied into the Ubuntu One Music Store, Jamendo and Magnatude, bringing us closer to (if not outright giving us) a viable alternative to iTunes. I long for the day when prospective customers no longer ask if iTunes runs on Linux. Gag.

  • Not only does Empathy provide a front-end chat client for nearly every IM service under the sun, it now sports integration with Facebook, allowing you to chat with all of your Facebook friends without logging into the website. I’m finding this to be a bit of a mixed blessing, as chat notifications now come rolling in every time I turn my computer on. Since you can’t set your status to Away on one account without appearing away in every account, the trick is to disable the Facebook account until you actually want to use it. But it’s a slick idea, as would be the ability to set statuses on individual accounts. Devs, are you listening?
  • I’m not much of a Gnome gamer, but Lucid has a new game that is pretty neat. It’s called gbrainy, and it is the most challenging game I’ve seen in a long time. It is packed with logic puzzles, arithmetic operations, memory trainers and verbal analogy games that will fry your brain. Hint: Get your work done before playing gbrainy. Otherwise, you’ll have neither time nor functional gray matter left to do your job.

There are a lot of other cool features in Ubuntu 10.04, but I’ll leave them for you to discover on your own. In my opinion, that’s half the fun of open source software.