Last week I finally took the leap and did an online upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). To my relief it was a flawless operation and one of the things I wanted to experiment with the much hyped HUD feature which is being slated as a replacement/supplement to application menus. It's a Marmite feature. You either love it or loathe it but what caught my attention was the keybinding used to launch it and how this interacts with its "near neighbours".
People like Dolphins. They're fast and smart and swimming with them is on many people's "ten things to do before you die" list. Not me though. The nearest I'll ever get to a Dolphin is the one sitting on my laptop -- the Dolphin file manager that is. It's nippy too but I find that I can speed it up even more by using keybaord shortcuts.
One of the first things that newcomers to GNU/Linux learn to do is to bypass big Start menus and blank screens (like Fluxbox) and use
ALT+F2 to launch an application by simply typing in its name. Every desktop ecosystem has its own way of implementing this feature and I was pleasantly surprised, after a long absense from the KDE desktop, to see how it could be used to do some really clever things. Here's five of them.
The concept of the right-click context menu has been around since forever but you don't have to be content with the defaults that come with your software, especially file managers. KDE's Dolphin and Konqueror are no exceptions. It's a complete no brainer to install more contextual menus, so let's do it.
Adding menus works exactly the same way in both managers (the only difference is that Konqueror is also a web browser too). I'm using Dolphin today. So, fire it up and select
Configure Dolphin from the drop-down Settings menu.
When you build or update a website, it's a good idea to check that all the links on your webpages are OK. An excellent tool for doing this under Linux is the aptly named linkchecker, a GPL-licensed, command-line program.
However, 'OK' has more than one meaning. While linkchecker can check the URL you specify to see if it's properly formed and not broken, it can't tell you if the link points to the wrong URL.
Newcomers to Ubuntu will only really know about installing software via the Ubuntu Software Centre. Synaptic is no longer bundled by default (though still available) but all us, veterans and newbies alike, should also consider installing Deepin. It's similar to Ubuntu's tool but it has some really nifty and useful features.
Okular is the PDF reader for the KDE desktop. You can run it under any other desktop environment too, but you can also get some more mileage out of it with these three simple tips.
PDFs are very common and popular but with the rise of smartphones and tablets the EPUB format has risen to prominence too. Okular has some very neat features not available to other PDF readers and you might want to combine them with this relative newcomer on the block.
h5ai is a "modern web server index." What's that, you may ask? Basically, it's a simple software that prettifies the default interface the Apache web server uses to list files in a directory. This may not sound like much, but if you want to publish files on the web using Apache (or any other supported web server, for that matter), this unassuming tool can make the whole experience of browsing and downloading files more pleasant -- which is a positively good thing.
For my money Calibre is one of the most indispensible pieces of software in GNU/Linux. It can handle all your e-books in all the major formats, including PDF, EPUB and Mobi. It supports up to thirty e-reader devices but this article will tell you how to use Calibre to convert RSS feeds to EPUBs (which can then be read in Calibre's own E-reader or synced and transferred to your external reader of choice).
My wife has a huge collection of Scottish country dancing music on her Linux laptop – more than 2000 dance tracks. Details of all tracks are recorded in an OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet.
She asked me, "Could you make the spreadsheet into a jukebox, so that I could do a filtered search for a suitable track, then just click on the track to have it play?" The answer was yes, but it took a while to get there!
Gwenview is the default image viewer for the KDE desktop. Out of the box it's good looking but nothing obviously exceptional. Except for two things: Phonon and plugins. That combination really does make Gwenview a pretty useful bit of kit. Let's see what it can do.
In my last article on Chromium I explained how to add a command switch to the desktop icon's launcher tab to add a Purge Memory button to the task Manager. Browsers need memory, like memory and in fact love it. They don't give it up without a fight. I'm not belligerent by nature but it's my memory, I paid for it and I want it back. So, here's another trick in a similar vein to force Chromium to relinquish some more.
You've probably heard of this intriguing new crowd-funding service called Kickstarter, right? (If not, how are you getting this website from that cave of yours?). A lot of people are using it to fund all kinds of exciting new things, and it's obviously useful option for free software projects. Properly used, it can allow us to close the gap against proprietary applications that still have more polish or exist in niches that require more capitalization. But the idea that it is somehow immoral to ask for money to work on free software has got to go!
Not long ago, after giving a speech about free software I was asked by an audience member whether the free software community had come up with free (as in freedom) gambling software. I answered "no", and... I was wrong. A bit of research told me that there us such a platform: that's Cubeia's Firebase. Yes, it's fully free software/open source, the real deal. I couldn't resist: I asked its founder (and software engineer) for an interview. So, here we go!
TM: Hello Lars. Can you please introduce yourself?
In Part One about Gedit I covered three neat plugins to make it more productive and user friendly. More recently, I discovered another plugin that I simply couldn't ignore. The good news is that it really is cool; the not so good news is that the plugin is not available from the repositories, there is no PPA and no third-party stand-alone binary (yet). Bummer--but it can be installed from a source tarball. Easily. So, what is Dashboard and how do you install it?
So, you just got back from a trip, and you have tons of photos you want to share with the world. While there are dozens of photo sharing services to choose from, uploading megabytes of photos doesn't sound like a fun pastime. And why bother with a third-party service if you already have a Linux-based server? In this case, consider using Bizou.
The first thing you should always do after installing software (apart from viewing the manpages) is to check and see if it supports plugins. If you are not a programmer or hacker it really is the easiest way to extend capabilities. The Gnome text editor supports this feature out of the box.Here's three of the best.
Gedit is a text editor. The Gedit homepage list its full feature set.. It's my editor of choice when writing articles for FSM. By default, Gedit comes with bundled plugins but you can extend them via your distro's package manager. Search for
gedit-plugins, install it, open Gedit and select
Edit > Preferences. Click on the Plugins tab and scroll through them, checking the ones you want.
Despite the rise of USB sticks for data storage and booting GNU/Linux distros, there's still a place for the humble writeable CD and DVD. Most readers, including me, probably fire up a big hitter like K3B (KDE) or Brasero (GNOME). For me K3B is up there with GIMP, LibreOffice and VLC. It's best in class. However, for simple, quick backup Nautilus gets the job done. Let's use it to burn a multi-session data CD.
As part of a project to create a non-DRM fixed media standard for high-definition video releases, Terry Hancock has launched a Kickstarter campaign which will produce two Lib-Ray video titles and player software to support them ("Sita Sings the Blues" and the "Blender Open Movie Collection").
More details can be found on the Kickstarter page.
I'm used to thinking of region codes as an unmitigated evil, but they do serve one useful purpose: they divide DVD editions up so that any given regional edition has fewer languages to support. It's uncommon to find a DVD with more than just three or four languages in subtitles or audio tracks. Early on in the concept for Lib-Ray, though, I decided to do away with region-coding, and instead allow for broader localization in the design. This means there's just one edition worldwide, which is very helpful, but it does also mean that the subtitle menu in particular can become very cumbersome to navigate. How will we solve this user interface design problem?