End users

End users

Using the Synaptic Package Manager to Clone Installed Software to Another Computer

The GNU/Linux ecosystem is blessed with many tools to clone a hard drive image which can be used to reinstall your Debian-based distro in an emergency or duplicate on another machine, but sometimes you might want to do a clean install of Ubuntu on another machine and then add in the extra software you installed in the original distro. For that you need a combination of Synaptic, the GUI frontend for apt-get and a little command line magic.

Backing up Your Desktop Settings with Ubuntu-Tweak

There is no shortage of backup software in GNU/Linux. From full clones of hard drives to browser bookmarks there's something for everyone. However, sometimes you just need to be more selective about what you backup.

If you want to backup your precious desktop settings, you should try Ubuntu Tweak: it is bundled with a host of really useful features, it's been around for a while and it's up to version seven. You might find a version in your distro's repositories but if you're out of luck, download it from the official site.

Ubuntu's HUD: fixing the keyboard binding conflicts

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".

The Dolphin File Manager: Smarter and Faster with Keyboard Shortcuts

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.

Four Smart Things to do with the ALT+F2 Run Command in KDE

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.

Adding Context Menus in the Dolphin File Manager

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.

Deepin Software Centre: GUI Software Frontend Done right

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.

Listen to your books (ePUB or PDF) with Okular, KDE's PDF Reader

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.

Prettify Your Server with h5ai

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.

How to Convert RSS Feeds into EPUB files with Calibre

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).

Things You Didn't Know You Could do with the Gwenview Image Viewer

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.

Running Chrome with less memory: disable extensions

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.

Dashboard Plugin: A better way to search, find and open files in Gedit (Part Two)

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?

Instant Web Galleries on Your Server with Bizou

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.

Improve Gedit with three Extra Plugins (Part One)

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 forgedit-plugins, install it, open Gedit and select Edit > Preferences. Click on the Plugins tab and scroll through them, checking the ones you want.

Burning a Data CD/DVD with Nautilus

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.

Help create a new free standard, by funding a great Kickstarter project!

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.

How to install Speed Dials in Firefox -- and how to back them up

When Opera invented "speed dials", they quickly became an important wish list item in all other browsers. Speed dials allow you to visually "see" (via screenshots) a list of most recently visited web sites when you open a new tab. Several Forefox plugins tried to fill this important niche, but none of them really stood out -- until now. This great plugin also allows you to back your Speed Dials up.

Basics of mapping with KML

Two of the most useful free (as in beer) software applications from Google are Google Earth, which runs on your computer, and Google Maps, which runs as a Web service. You can use both Google Earth and Google Maps to plot your own points, lines or shapes on an interactive map. You can also annotate these things with informative details. Unfortunately, the user interfaces provided by Google for doing this kind of DIY mapping are... well, clunky. They're slow, especially if you have a lot of items to add to a map.

DRM books need to disappear. NOW. (Or, my horrific experience with www.kalahari.com)

DRM turned a 10 minute purchase into a 2 and a half nightmare (and counting). I wanted to buy a book: I ended up in a journey which made it dead clear that in a sane world, there is absolutely no space for DRM-protected contents. The only real warning I have about this article is that it may make you feel sick.


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