Andrew Min's articles

How to completely ditch GUI internet applications for the command line

Today, terminal-based programs have almost disappeared. GUIs are taking over, whether we like it or not. However, there is still a place for the old command line. Take the internet as an example: everyone’s using Firefox, Thunderbird, and Pidgin for their internet activities. Even though these are great, quality, free software apps, they tend to be bloated. That’s where the terminal comes in.

Introduction

Kopete: the KDE instant messenger

Today, everyone uses a different instant messenger. Your boss may use Lotus Sametime, your colleague AIM, your friend Google Talk, and your kid Yahoo! Messenger. However, these all take up hard drive space, RAM, and CPU usage. In addition, many of these are proprietary and Windows-only (two big minuses for GNU/Linux users). Luckily, the free software world has several alternatives that enable users to chat with users of all of these programs (and many more). For KDE users, the answer is Kopete.

How to fix your computer's graphics with dpkg-reconfigure

There is always a time when your GNU/Linux machine's screen output stops working. Maybe it's displaying garbage to your monitor instead of Gnome or KDE. Or maybe it's displaying 640x480 resolution with 8 colors instead of 1280x1024 with 24 colors. Actually, this will happen with Windows as well. But unlike Windows, GNU/Linux provides a handy tool to fix it. It's called dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg.

From the driver to the window manager: how to install Compiz Fusion for Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Xubuntu

The 3D world just got a lot brighter with the birth of Compiz Fusion, a powerful compositing window manager for GNU/Linux operating systems. Originally there was one project, Compiz, but the project forked into Compiz, and the unstable and unofficial fork of Compiz known as Beryl. Now, the two projects have been reunited for one amazing compositing window manager. In a nutshell, it adds effects to your desktop like wobbly windows (the windows actually wobble when you move them), a cool virtual desktops manager via a cube, and much more. For proof of how cool it is, just do a Google Video/YouTube search for “compiz fusion”.

Kicking around the ol' soccer ball with Bygfoot

Programming free software is tons of fun. But every so often, it’s nice to get a change from the daily grind and have some fun. That’s where Bygfoot comes in. Bygfoot is a Windows or GNU/Linux (or Macintosh via fink) compatible football (or soccer, as us Yanks call it) management game in the spirit of Football Manager (Americans and Canadians know it as Worldwide Soccer Manager).

What is it?

Stretching your instant messaging wings with Pidgin

Today, everyone uses a different instant messenger. Your boss may use Lotus Sametime, your colleague AIM, your friend Google Talk, and your kid Yahoo! Messenger. However, these all take up hard drive space, RAM, and CPU usage. In addition, many of these are proprietary and Windows-only (two big minuses for GNU/Linux users). Luckily, the free software world has an alternative that enables users to chat with users of all of these programs (and many more). It is called Pidgin.

Tips and Tricks

This is a collection of tips&tricks written by Gary Richmond and Andrew Min. In this article:

  • How to get the best out of the history command in GNU/Linux (Gary)
  • How to close down GNU/Linux safely after a system freeze with the SysRq key (Gary)
  • How to find .debs (even if you think they don't exist) (Andrew)
  • How to kill processes (Andrew)

How to use Quake-style terminals on GNU/Linux

We know all about how powerful the GNU/Linux terminal is. However, it’s a pain to have to fire up a terminal emulator like Konsole or gnome-terminal, wait for a few seconds for it load, and then have to keep Alt-Tabbing to it. Wouldn’t it be easier to just have a terminal that automatically hides and shows itself at click of a button? Today, I’m going to look at three different terminal emulators that do just that.

What the heck is a Quake-style terminal?

Dual-booting Kubuntu and Windows

We have come to a cross-roads in the computer world today. Stick with the familiar Microsoft Windows, or try the stable, secure, but unfamiliar GNU/Linux-based operating systems that have recently started taking off. There are two big factors that stop most people from loading GNU/Linux onto their computer. The first is that they think they need to be a geek to install it. I admit that it is often hard to install something you’ve never had experience with. But with the right coaching, you can do it. Also, people think that you can’t run Windows if you have GNU/Linux (so they lose all their games and other important programs). However, it is actually possible to run Windows and GNU/Linux on the same computer. So what are you waiting for?

Using VirtualBox to run Ubuntu and any other operating system

GNU/Linux can be scary to a new user. After all, what if you mess up? What if you end up corrupting your hard drive so badly that you need to format it to get rid of GNU/Linux? The solution is to use virtualization technology. A virtual machine creates a virtual hard drive as well as a virtual computer, so you can install and run it from within another operating system. If you want to get rid of the virtualized (also known as the guest) operating system, just delete the virtual hard disk from the real (host) computer’s hard drive.

Introduction

How to find .debs (even if you think they don't exist)

One of the biggest strengths of Debian (and derivatives like Ubuntu) is support for the .deb package. After all, it provides a one-click method of easily installing programs. Best of all, these programs are automatically updated via the official Debian repositories. Unfortunately, the official repositories aren’t always the best. Some programs aren’t always up to date (the latest version of Thunderbird is 2.0. However, the latest version in the repositories is 1.5).

How to kill processes with GUIs

One of the things I hate about Windows is that there is no good way to kill frozen processes. Theoretically, you type Ctrl-Alt-Delete, wait for Task Manager to pop up, and kill the process. But in reality, the process doesn't always die immediately (it usually takes multiple tries and a very long time). GNU/Linux users don't have this problem. Here's how to end processes using the terminal, a few GUIs, and even a first person shooter.

The story (and the protocols) behind instant messengers

There was a time when geeks were the only ones who used instant messengers. Not so now. Almost everyone, from high school students to Congressmen, have instant messaging accounts. Businesses use instant messengers like Lotus Sametime or Novell GroupWise within their companies. How did instant messengers get this far?

In the beginning...

The portable web development toolkit

Web developers are sometimes forced to travel. Unfortunately, lugging a big, bulky laptop around with all their programs is the only way to develop on the road. After all, using another computer is out of the question since it doesn’t hold all of your favorite programs. Luckily, there is a best of both worlds. Thanks to John T. Haller, the Apache Friends, evolt.org, winPenPack.com, and a host of others, you can carry an Apache server, a MySQL (and SQLite) install, a PHP install, a Perl install, a mail server, an FTP server, two popular web browsers, an FTP client, an HTML editor, an image editor, and a vector graphics editor on a 512MB flash drive to be used with any Windows computer. All using free software.

Integrating Firefox and Thunderbird into KDE

Ever since I first fired up KDE on openSuSE, I’ve been in love. The KDE interface just swept me off my feet. But there’s always been one nagging thing. Firefox and Thunderbird stick out like two sore thumbs. They don’t look like KDE apps (see figure 1 and figure 4), they don’t work with KDE programs (like KPrinter), and they just don’t feel like they belong in KDE. Luckily, since both of these apps have support for add-ons, it is easy to remedy this.

Launch your programs faster with Katapult

One of the biggest navigational issues with any operating system is using program menus. Windows users have to open the Start Menu, scan for the program, realize that the program is probably in the subfolder under the programmer’s name, scan the appropriate subfolder, and then click on the program’s icon. Macintosh users must open Finder, find and click on the Applications folder, and then search for the program’s name. GNOME and KDE users have an advantage: they have categories in their respective Applications and K menus.

Questions I have for Michael Dell regarding Ubuntu

The free software world erupted into cheering when Canonical announced that Ubuntu would be one of the first GNU/Linux distributions to ship pre-installed on Dell machines. Obviously, this is huge news. A major computer manufacturer has not included a GNU/Linux distribution as a pre-installed option on desktops and laptops in a very long time. However, I’m not getting excited until a few questions are answered.

Question 1: What versions of Ubuntu?

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