Ubuntu lenses — search applications bug?

9 02 2012

Today I noticed that searching application with Ubuntu lenses didn’t work. I typed application names but nothing appeared. Googling. I found this thread on Ubuntu forums. I didn’t go into details but the solution to this issue is to remove the following directory
~/.cache/software-center and re-login.

This only confirms my opinion that Unity is an immature piece of software and really needs more testing.

Concerning my last post (buying mp3 files from Amazon) — I tried also www.amazon.pl. It redirected me to www.amazon.co.uk. I already have an account there so I tried buying the same mp3 from there. No success. The same reason. I can’t buy it from Poland.


Buying music on the Internet

25 01 2012

Since Lucid Lynx I use Ubuntu One Music Store to buy music on the Internet.

Although I had some problems at the beginning now I’m happy with the service. Still, I can’t find all the music I would like to and I consider the prices a little too high (comparing to Polish earnings) but the number of available tracks and artists grows constantly and buying one or two mp3s in a month is affordable.

Ubuntu One Music Store -- no Metallica

Recently I noticed that also Amazon store was integrated with Banshee. I was really kindly surprised when I found in the Amazon store music that is not available in Ubuntu One Music Store. I picked a track and was about to pay when a nasty screen told me they don’t sell it outside the US.

Amazon -- outside US

Is my money worse? Don’t I deserve that goods? I mean, what the hell is wrong? I know it’s not Amazon’s fault. The zone/region music distribution system has nothing to do with people’s need today. I want to spend my money and I can’t! That makes no sense to me.

Removing indicator-appmenu package from Unity

5 01 2012

In Ubuntu with Unity just type:

sudo apt-get remove indicator-appmenu

logout and log in again. Your life will become… normal 🙂

E-mail anonymization in Firebird

29 09 2011

I worked recently with Firebird database. I want to share my experience in one task I had to do: anonymization of e-mails.

To anonymize all e-mails in a table run in Firebird one of the following SQL expressions depending on what output is desired.

Let’s assume we have two tables MEMBRE and SOCIETE (in French: member and company). Both have an email column. MEMBRE has NOT NULL and UNIQUE clauses on that column. SOCIETE is not restricted.

In my case I wanted to be able to see if e-mails were actually sent to the anonymized addresses. That’s why I change domain names to @yopmail.com. See www.yopmail.com for more details about the service.

Scenario 1

update membre set email=substring(email from 1 for position('@' in email)) || 'yopmail.com';

update societe set email=substring(email from 1 for position('@' in email)) || 'yopmail.com' where email is not null and email like '%@%';

Will do the following change: john.doe@company.com => john.doe@yopmail.com

The simplest solution but may cause a data violation error if the same username is used in different domains, e.g. john.doe@company.com and john.doe@societe.fr

Scenario 2

create sequence anonymizator;

update membre set email='mem' || next value for anonymizator || '@yopmail.com';

update societe set email='soc' || next value for anonymizator || '@yopmail.com' where email is not null and email like '%@%';

drop sequence anonymizator;

Will do the following change: john.doe@company.com => mem1@yopmail.com

Requires a sequence which is created before and deleted after the operation. ‘1’ in the result address will be increased for subsequent rows. Completely erases any information of previous e-mail value so it really anonymizes data.

Scenario 3

update membre set email=substring(email from 1 for position('@' in email)-1) || '_' || substring(email from position('@' in email)+1) || '@yopmail.com';

update societe set email=substring(email from 1 for position('@' in email)-1) || '_' || substring(email from position('@' in email)+1) || '@yopmail.com' where email is not null and email like '%@%';

Will do the following change: john.doe@company.com => john.doe_company.com@yopmail.com

The most sophisticated but keeps information of initial e-mail value. So doesn’t really anonymize but successfully prevents sending e-mail messages to affected addresses.

Note: Anonymizing e-mails may increase its length and therefore may cause an error during execution. When the database replies

arithmetic exception, numeric overflow, or string truncation

it means that a new value probably exceeds the length of field being changed. The table can be changed with this SQL:

alter table membre alter column email type varchar(100);


27 09 2011

I didn’t post about Ubuntu for a long time. Today I decided to break the silence. I’ll explain later what made me do that.

The reason why I didn’t say a word about Ubuntu is Unity. This new default interface in Ubuntu brought many controversies to the distro’s community. My first impression was: “Ok, we’ve got something new. It looks odd by we need to move forward. Win95 looked strange in 1995 but it change our way of interacting with machines”. I gave it a chance despite of the fact that most of blog entries were somewhere between “I don’t like Unity” and “I hate it”. I used Unity since it was set the default UI in Ubuntu. I wanted to post about Unity once I have a deep enough insight in this UI.

Yesterday after a subsequent “minor annoyance” in Unity I switched to Gnome. And guess what? Suddenly I felt… just better. But to be honest here are my remarks on Unity.

The good
Lenses! I like it very much and I already miss it after switching to Gnome. It’s really a very useful feature.

The bad
Slow! Unity is just much slower than Gnome. And to be honest — I realized that speed is the most important reason why I use Linux on daily basis. But with Unity I felt like I stepped one step back.

Hiding a window top panel. I find this feature really frustrating. For example — when I have two windows in Gnome side by side I can directly select an option in the second window’s menu when the first window has focus. With Unity it require one click more. It’s especially annoying when you want to close a window. First you need to pass focus to it and then close it. I just can’t stand it. What’s even worse — this feature is buggy. E.g. WINE windows incorrectly receive mouse position when the window is maximized. It’s a nail in the coffin.

Limited configuration of sidebar. I like the sidebar it’s functional and… pretty 😉 But I missed some configuration options. E.g. how to change some icons positions? For example, I want partitions to be higher.

The ugly
Bugs! Bugs! And more bugs! They are not “critical” but highly annoying. Just to give some examples of bugs that happened to me:

  • invisible window — covers some part of the screen and prevents clicking anything under it. Nice, huh?
  • hanging — Unity just hangs from time to time.
  • exploding theme — not every time but quite often any theme, be it Ambiance or Radiance or any other, explodes and switches to a gray default theme. Icons, top panel and UI other element becomes “default” but windows keep their Ambiance decoration.
  • disappearing icons in sidebar — as I said I like the sidebar but sometime some icons disappear. E.g. “applications” and “places” (or whatever it’s called — I don’t remember).

That was enough for me. I switched back to Gnome and I’m happy. I wish all the best to Unity. I hope some issues will be solved in the incoming release. But in Unity 11.04? — No, thanks.

MySQL anonymize e-mail

26 07 2011

Working with MySQL I encountered a task I’ve never faced before. I had to anonymize (mask) e-mail addresses in a table. In first attempt I googled this article on StackOverflow. That give me a feeling that some functions useful for this issue should be already implemented in MySQL. I was right. I found string functions documentation and finally I ended up with the following solution:

select concat(substring_index(email, '@', 1), '@yopmail.com') from societe;

It changes e-mails from:




Alternatively, you can change username and leave the string after ‘@’.

select concat('user@', substring_index(email, '@', -1)) from societe;

And the result is:


Ubuntu 10.10

26 10 2010

The latest Ubuntu was released on 10.10.2010 at 10:10. The numbers look magical but is the latest release really so extraordinary? I doubt. Someone may say that I’m going to grumble again against Ubuntu. But I’m not. I simply didn’t switch to the latest release so I can’t say anything about it which goes beyond information from release notes. And this is the first time since, I guess, 2005 when I left a release behind.

The one reason is that I have to do some stuff using Windows and therefore I use Ubuntu less often these days. The second reason comes from a simple fact that my current Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is stable and causes no problem now. But the ultimate reason is that this release brought literally no new feature that I could be possibly interested in. Let’s take a closer look at the release notes.

Ubuntu Software Center

Added “Featured” and “What’s new” sections, history of installs and removals (sounds promising) and Fluendo DVD player for purchase. Commercial software is something that I really want to see more in the Linux world but for now it’s rather a curiosity[1]. History of installs might be useful but not a necessary feature.

Ubuntu font

Wow. The Ubuntu brand grows. But, frankly, who will update his/her release up to the latest version because of a new font?


I had no problem with the installer. But if it’s better, ok – let it be.

Ubuntu Desktop Edition

New GNOME — does it have any important changes to me? I don’t know but I suppose nothing “visible”.

New Evolution — I don’t use it.

Shotwell has replaced F-Spot — I use neither of them.

Updated Gwibber — what the hell is that? I don’t use it.

Upgraded sound menu — would I notice a difference?

Updated Ubuntu One integration — good but again, would I notice any difference?

And that’s all for changes that might be interesting for me. Might be, but are not. I’ll stay with 10.4 but it doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in changes in Ubuntu. Quite the contrary! I will, indeed, carefully observe the way the distribution goes.

[1] — I called a commercial piece of software in Linux a curiosity because it’s the first time I see it in a software manager such as Ubuntu Software Center.