How to run two Whisper systems Signal clients on Linux side by side

Running two signal clients on Ubuntu
Running two signal clients on Ubuntu without the stress, made one d.ark and other light themed to remind me which one is which

I’m very sure I’m not the only one with 2 mobile phones (heck I really have 3 actual active SIM cards in 3 phones but thats another story).

I have chosen not to use WhatsApp as their EULA doesn’t fit well with me, so instead I always suggest Whisper Systems Signal client. I have many reasons including a linux web client but I have been wondering why one client couldn’t support multiple accounts? Especially since you can easily and securely verify the phone to the desktop client, using a generated token.

I’ve been wondering if I could run two signal apps or run them under different system users… then it dawned on me, its using Google Chrome’s app framework, maybe I could use Open Source Chrome aka Chromium to do the same? Surprisingly without having to setup another user account for the Chrome store, I was able to download Signal again and make Chromium launch it.

Now I have 2 completely separate signal apps which are linked to different phones but using the same Ubuntu desktop environment.

I know it might seem obvious but there seems to be a few people asking for multiple users using a single signal desktop app. I also saw if it could be installed in Firefox, but it looks more tricky that just hitting install from an app store. Sure my tip will work for MacOSX and likely Windows too?

Little tip for friends and followers which I thought was worth sharing… Now get yourself on Signal

Using Amazon Glacier on Ubuntu

2015-04-27 10.55.13

Looking at my little home server, I noticed a Spideroak warning telling me I am up to maximum on online storage. I assume the reason for this is the 1391 pictures I took over the course of the 2 weeks in Tokyo.

Rather than just pay for the next band up, I thought I’d give Amazon Glacier a chance. because frankly I don’t need to view the pictures all the time. I uploaded the best ones to my Japan photoset on Flickr already.

Can I say one thing!

Amazon Glacier is certainly not ready for the general public!

Yes I’m using Ubuntu and yes I was seeking to do it with a GUI but boy oh boy… Amazon webservices is very very developer focused.

In the end after about 4 hours, I finally settled on using Simple Amazon Glacier Uploader, which uses Java 1.6+. It was that or try and use Wine to emulate a Windows app called FastGlacier. Don’t get me wrong there are many clients but not many for Mac and even less for Linux.

The thing which I think most people will miss is the fact you need to setup a user just for the uploading. Once you do that you need to setup a bucket and then give that user permissions to control that bucket. This is done in the policy control, without this you will get lots of errors which don’t make a lot of sense.

I’m still waiting to verify my test upload worked but I believe its correct now. If so, then the next few days would be the time I could really do with Hyperoptic fibre broadband. My picture count is currently at 91.9 gigs over 68794 files…

If this happens do this to my laptop…

I have already talked about IFTTT to death and how I liken it to some ideas and work I had around pipelining.

All the new movement in this area has been in the online space but I found this little app for Linux which operates in a similar fashion to the very old conduit (Conduit) but its focused around system events rather than webservices.

Cuttlefish is a tool which can execute various actions when specific events are triggered. For example, you can change the proxy mode depending on the currently connected wireless network, unlock your computer when a specific Bluetooth or USB device is connected or disconnected and so on.

I can easily see how webservices can be written into the application, although there is no roadmap yet.

Unity comes into focus

ubuntu login screen with alternative environment

On Friday I tried using Ubuntu’s Unity interface, which some people rightly pointed out I really didn’t like.

When I first saw Unity and tried to use it, I didn’t like it but over the last few months I’ve seen more of what Unity has to offer. The HUD, Lens/Scopes, Ubuntu on Android and now Web App Integration.

I’m not totally switched over yet, however…

One of the first things I did was hide the dash and menu because I don’t like it eating up my desktop space. I still hate the fact the menu for each application is at the very top right but I’ve started using one application full screen every workspace. It kind of works but still drives me nuts.

I have changed Unity so its workstations are stacked on top of each other just like Gnome Shell, however I miss having a dual screen setup with one which stays static. Having dual screen and workspaces seems a little too much? Sure I would get use to it after a while.

The Dash or overlay is a bit messy compared to Gnome 3’s and I frankly find the way you navigate around a bit poo. But that was before I learned about Super + S and Super + W. I haven’t got the hang of the Hud yet but we’ll see how things go. I also find the gnome extensions very useful which seem to be missing under Unity.

I do still find Unity very noisy, I much prefer the Gnome Shell look, so if there was a skin which looked like Gnome Shell and acted like it, I’d deploy it in a heartbeat.

No matter what, I find the Ubuntu Unity Web API really interesting and I’ll be looking forward to seeing if Gnome Shell adopts some of Unity’s features or Unity chills out in the future.

RescueTime for Linux (beta)

I got Rescuetime installed and working on Ubuntu! Thanks to Joe’s comment on my blog post about Rescuetime meet Arya

After years of broken promises, missed deadlines, and disappointed RescueTime Linux users, we are finally preparing to launch the officially supported Linux version of RescueTime.

Up to now, the only option for Linux users was the open sourced version of the RescueTime Linux Uploader hosted here: While this have worked out for many users, we have always wanted to have a version of RescueTime for Linux that mirrored the functionality of our Windows and OS X versions.

If you want to take part in helping us test out RescueTime for Linux, read on!

I take it all back Rescuetime! And thanks a lot Joe for alerting me to the beta, thought you guys gave up on Linux

Even worked for the latest Ubuntu with Gnome shell…You can also download a Deb file for i86 or x64, making it so much simpler than the bzr file previously. Finally make sure you file any bugs and give feedback as it is a beta…

Rescue time meet Arya


Rescuetime are meant to be working on a Linux version of their plugin but while we wait others are eating into their area.

We’ve already seen how Zeitgiest and Project Hamster could work together really nice. But this time theres another contender with some interesting ambitions…


Arya is a simple Gnome 3 Shell extension that adds up how much time you spend using each of your applications. It’s not very fully featured yet, but in the future it will hopefully be a useful extension.

Things to come

  • Pretty graphs to show app usage over time
  • Activity level monitoring to suggest when you should take a break

Sounds like something else I’ve heard before… right? Rescuetime…?

If I was rescuetime I would get my hooks into Ayra now and either support Rescuetime inside of Ayra or use the source code to create your own plugin…

I know its only Gnome3 but maybe like Unity App-indicators it can work across different linux shells?

Will I move to Ubuntu TV?

Ubuntu TV was launched at CES yesterday and frankly I wasn’t that surprised by the move (rumors for a while) but to see it actually live with Unity was actually quite impressive. There is no doubt Ubuntu really has thought about the design of it all much more than even I’d expect. And for all manufacturers its totally free as beer/as software, which will tempt some… Although I do worry about a patent showdown in the near future.

Unity remember came originally from the Netbook Remix, so it actually works well from the start. Specially if you look at some of the Lens being built for Ubuntu.

Although I do praise the idea of Ubuntu TV, I’ll be sticking with XBMC simply because its a much better interface, cleverly crafted and has the development momentum. Bring on Eden… Worth noting I installed Ubuntu TV on a PC at work for a quick demo.

Gnome Extensions vs Unity Lens

Fedora 16 & Gnome3

For sometime I’ve been trying to get Gnome Extensions (still alpha) going but for some reason most of the good ones failed to install. However when I head home (after Christmas in Bristol) I give it a try, and it suddenly all works.

Its a bit of a hassle to get it working without Firefox but now I got quite a few installed.


  • Activities Button Text – changed the text to say cubicgarden now
  • Music Integration – useful to know whats playing and change the seek
  • Coverflow Alt-Tab – Back to the Compiz style switching
  • Calculator – Great for quick calculations
  • Journal – Seems to bring up relevant stuff in the overlay mode
  • Jump Lists – You can search for categories not just apps
  • Notes Search Provider for Gnote/Tomboy – Search notes (more on this in the next post)
  • Recent Items – Rearranges the search by recent items
  • App Search – Searches for available apps not just installed apps
  • Status only icon – Removes your name from the top right

Generally I’ve installed many of them but turned off the ones I don’t really like.

Although I really like Gnome3 Extensions, I’m really liking the look of the Unity Lens extensions (for example, Youtube, Piratebay, TomboyNotes Lens) I’m seeing going by in my Google reader via sites like OMGUbuntu and Webup8.

I’m not totally sure how hard it is to create the Gnome Extensions but I gather its mainly Python with a smidgeon of JS and CSS? It would be great to see even more extensions including some of the Unity Lens ones. Certainly could make use of some of the internet connected ones…

Generally I like what the Gnome team is doing, installing a Unity Lens is much more trouble than a Gnome Extension, now all we need is many more of them and a better way to search and sort them.

Which Desktop Environment?


OMG!Ubuntu is running a poll on what desktop environment linux users are using

The results are actually quite surprising on two counts…

  1. Gnome 3 is actually quite high with over 28% of the vote (over 4000 users). Even though you have to install it separately in Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10.
  2. Gnome legacy is surprisingly low (lower than XCFE and KDE) for all the fuss about moving forward…
I know its not anything scientific but its a good sign… not quite sure what it says about Unity?

Revolutionising your desktop one step at a time

Desktop Agosto 2011

Recently I’ve had the joy of taking the tram into work everyday. I keep meaning to buy a monthly pass but having to get a photocard done at the GMPTE (greater manchester transport, like TFL is to London) but forget. Anyway some people may have noticed I’m tweeting a lot of links and passages from my Kindle. This only works due to the wifi hotspot on my rooted HTC desire, because of course the Trams don’t have wifi but have the advantage of being above ground and crossing Manchester City centre.

One of the posts I read via Linux Magazine was about the design choices going into the next generation desktops.

The post talks about the outrage by different communities involved with the next generation of desktops.

This is something I feel very strongly about because of my disdain of Ubuntu’s unity desktop. I understand some of the reasons which make it opinionated software but it doesn’t mean I have to like it 🙂 So I switched to using the very much beta Gnome3 desktop which is a breath of fresh air but also has problems (even on my new thinkpad x220).

At work I tend to switch between the two because I’m driving a 24″ full HD display along side my laptop screen, so keep logging in and out for reasons I’ll explain another day.

In the post, it talks about how Gnome3, Ubuntu Unity and KDE4 have had problems because they all have made some difficult changes. But to be honest this is consistent with Microsoft Windows 8’s move into Metro and OSX’s move into a more iOS type platform. All are tricky and full of people upset and confused.

To be honest they could all learn from the points of the post…

  • Don’t change too much too quickly
  • Build user testing into each stage of the development
  • Whenever possible, leave legacy features in place
  • Don’t impose work-flows from above
  • Beware of designer fads
  • Don’t view function and aesthetics as separate
  • If a design is too noticeable, then maybe it’s too clever to use
  • Talk to your readers as you work
There all valid and good points. I’m sure most of the linux desktops are doing most of these. Interesting point however is the tension between
opinionated software and the last point talking to the users of your work. Being too proud or too precious will ultimately put you in a worst position overall in my book, but I’m sure others would totally disagree…?

What about sex?

Found in Linux Magazine, the start almost sounds like one of tiny nibbles podcasts.

“What about Sex?” the woman sitting across from me at the dinner table asked. I felt my face start to flush. She was about my age, and fairly attractive. I, of course, am unmarried, and therefore “available”. However, her husband was sitting next to me……

“She is afraid that these young people who are in front of computers the whole day, only communicating by Facebook and the Internet do not have the social contact that people need”, her husband explained. “She wants to know if they have ‘significant others’.”

The rest of it is much more what you’d expect from a Linux magazine… Which I guess is a bit of a shame. But I really want to leave a comment pointing to the series of talks and workshops which made up geeks talk sexy series. Hey and lets not forget the article which turns the question on its head too…

UGR Linux: Ubuntu Gnome Remix project

I have Ubuntu 11.04 on my laptop but I’ve added Gnome 3 and ditched Unity by adding repositories which have Gnome3. Everything kind of works but there are problems as described before here.

So I was happy to see the Ubuntu Gnome Remix project is growing and has a couple of releases such as gNatty.

This all comes at a point when I’m seriously considering wiping my laptop drive and building a version of Ubuntu without Unity from the very start. Problem is I don’t really want to loose all the applications, preferences, etc, etc… So I’ll try and get Gnome3 fully working then maybe one day soon, just do the wipe. I am hoping Ubuntu allow Gnome3 to be a part of Ubuntu or allow such projects to grow and establish themselves.

Gnome 3, its got some issues…

Ubuntu 11.04 running Gnome3

Since I switched to Gnome3 I’ve been finding some weird inconsistencies. The problem is, I can’t be sure its actually Gnome3 or something else?

My first ignorance is the vertical only workspaces. I’m use to using ctrl+alt+left/right to wizz around the work spaces I have open (usually about 6). Now the left and right does nothing and you can only wizz around the available workspaces by doing ctrl+alt+up/down. From reading the web, it seems the only reason for it is because of the Activities mode.

If they could rearrange that it would work quite well.

Gnome-Do is also a little lost now, because of the total change in Gnome 3 shell. I do still use it over the windows/super key which brings up the menu and other stuff. But had to change the mappings to ctrl+space instead of super+space to avoid conflict with Gnome3. If you do hit the super key and start typing it will find stuff for you but its no where near as clever as Gnome Do. What needs to happen is Gnome do needs to be a plugin for Gnome shell or something. Not heard anything from the author about this yet. The last update was quite some time ago to be fair, so I’m not even sure its still going or not. I also noticed that the dock option seems to have gone from Gnome do, which I wonder is to do with Gnome 3’s Dash or not?

Alt+Shift+Tab no longer seems to go backwards when selecting windows which is a real pain (and yes I do have that set in my keyboard options). What makes things maybe worst is you can’t seem to easily select windows within an application from the Alt+Tab menu. So instead you have to hover over a sub window menu which shows the application windows. This is a real pain when using something like Evolution with lots of sub windows of old and new emails. Even using Dolphin (file manager) with multiple windows is a nightmare.

The Activities menu/Window Picker is a nice style exposure type system but selecting windows is a nightmare because you can’t tab or shift+tab. Instead your forced to use your mouse to select windows and applications. You can type in what your after like Gnome Do but that only selects new applications not applications/windows which are already running. There’s this easily overlooked highlight which shows you whats open already and whats not but its too easily missed.

I’m hearing Gnome 3 is not very good about handling multiple screens and I can believe it if you can’t move left or right. I’ll find out for sure tomorrow when I return to work and plug my laptop into a 24″ LCD monitor which sits on my desk.

Inline replies

I certainly think something is up because I’m not getting the lovely way Gnome 3 should look going by the Gnome 3 Design page.

I do still miss my Compiz 3D rotating cube but if they can get some of these issues solved I’m willing to change and kind of embrace the new style of Gnome 3, specially if they can sort out the horizontal and reversal stuff. I’m very interested in some of the other stuff I’ve seen like Gnome Shell with Zeitgeist (gnome activity journal) replacing part of the shell.

Its also worth pointing out Webupd8 which I thought was a spammer site but actually turns out to be a good site for the latest to do with Gnome Shell and Unity.

Evernote take notes from Dropbox and Rescuetime

I’ve said it many times but Evernote really winds me up no end. I even went down the completely open route for a while using Tomboy Notes and there online service. To be honest the only reason why I switched back was because of Nevernote and the fact Tomdroid, couldn’t sync with any online service unless you transfered the notes via SD card.

However I started thinking via Dropbox, it would be trivial to do the syncing part. The only issue left seems to be about the fact tomdroid doesn’t seem to support editing or anything like that.

Anyway, the thing is going back to Evernote. Is I’ve been looking around some of my other apps I also pay for. Dropbox is the key example here.

Dropbox does support Linux but to be fair there a little behind the windows and mac versions. Not by much but its understandable. Rescue time don’t officially seem to support linux but they do unofficially support someone elses linux uploader, it would seem.

The fact is Evernote could really help there dominance by helping Nevernote. If they don’t Tomboy notes isn’t that far behind and will rise up and become the choice for many people.

How to use the Pacemaker editor with Ubuntu via wine

How I got the Pacemaker editor working under Ubuntu with Wine

This should be a easy task but Tonium did something to a later version of the free pacemaker editor, so it no longer worked. In the meantime I personally have been running a virtual machine just for the purpose of taking tunes on and off my pacemaker. No one could work out what they changed in the later version but although you could get the software to work, it wouldn’t recognize the pacemaker device at all. I even stuck it on WineHQ to see if that might help…

Many people tried different ways to get it working but none of them worked. Tonium unhelpfully said it was only supported on Windows and Mac.

But they came back with…

Yeah i am aware of this. ubuntu runs a program called ‘wine’ that emulates windows so you can still run windows only programmes such as this. was just wondering if anyone out there had experienced similar problems…

i have looked on ubuntu forums and pacemaker should run fine, apart from it being a bit fiddly to unmount sometimes.

Then today I had a good think about the problem and started thinking out of the box/experimenting over lunch. Last night I was convinced I would need to install a Github version of Wine for the USB to work and thought I’d install wine from source while eating my lunch.

But before I got to remove Wine, I thought I’d have a online search again and look through the wine settings again. Surely someone must have the solution. I found someone who suggested there might be a read/write problem with the pacemaker and suggested the following.

chown yourusername /media/yourpacemaker

chmod u=rw /media/yourpacemaker

After that I thought for a while, surely theres nothing magical happening. I mean Tonium are using open methods for most of the software and the build of the pacemaker. Even the config files are simply .xml files. The only illusion so far is the stm files which seem to be the analysed raw data stuffed in xml files. So we’re talking low level methods to make it all work, surely this would extend to the way Tonium did the method for putting tunes on the actual device. In actual fact, Musicinstinct2 had already started building a manager for linux and got it mostly working except for the stm file part. Then I had a moment of genius…

My thoughts I documented on the pacemaker getsatisfaction help list.

I got thinking that Windows simply mounts the Pacemaker then the Pacemaker Editor simply looks at a certain drive letter. The problem we’ve had is as default Wine sets the Pacemaker hard drive as drive E: as default. Windows from memory allocates drive letters from Z backwards. That or Tonium through they would be clever and use a letter which wouldn’t normally be used!

I also thought about upgrading my Wine to support USB better but I started thinking, wine can see the pacemaker as a drive if I select it. So it must be the editor which is at fault.

So the first thing I did was mounted the drive under Z: Y: X: then used different advanced options to see if that made a difference. By pure chance on the 1st time I loaded up the pacemaker editor it automatically showed the contains of the Pacemaker. I thought it was a mistake and decided to close it down and load it up again. Bingo! Exactly the same thing. So I did some crude operations like copying files, renaming files, etc. They all pretty much worked.

At this point I had to share my joy with the world by posting up this post.

After this I did some tweaking so it could see my music collection, etc and discovered the option of type was essential to the whole thing working. I had by pure chance selected floppy disc on the correct drive letter. I also tried removing drives to see exactly which drive it was expecting, and discovered it was all about X: it seemed. Without waiting I wrote up the whole thing on the community maintained forum.

Mount the Pacemaker as usual by plugging it into a linux machine (I’m using Ubuntu 10/10 64bit edition)

I set the pacemaker to be writable using,

"sudo chown yourusername /media/yourpacemaker"

"sudo chmod u=rw /media/yourpacemaker"

*warning if you don’t understand the command don’t type it in… and I’m not responsible for anything which happens.

I’m assuming you already have Wine 1.3 and the Pacemaker Editor installed…

In the Wine preferences, setup a new drive letter X: and set it to /media/Pacemaker

Then set the type under the advanced options to floppy drive.

Now start the pacemaker editor with the pacemaker connected to the machine and it should come up and you can drag files on and off it.

Now in hindsight it might just be the floppy drive option not the drive letter and I’m unsure if you need to make the pacemaker writable using the commands above. But to be honest, I don’t see them harming anything and I’m sure someone else will narrow the instructions down soon enough.

The only question left is if Linux pacemaker users will see this or not? I certainly hope so…