End users

End users

Desktop search tools for GNU/Linux: the competition hots up (part one)

I sometimes think that search tools are like my local bus: none comes along for ages and then three turn up in quick succession. For quite some time Beagle and Kat have been meeting the needs of users like you and me who fill up their hard drives with the results of our internet meanderings and because we have been remiss in keeping those drives well organized we eventually have to use search tools to find that PDF or HTML article we spent an eternity looking for.

3D desktops—Beryl, Compiz and more

Some would say 3D desktops are useless fluff; some swear by them. This article gives you an overview of today’s 3D desktop options, and how they can help you be more productive.

Barring that, you can still brag about your top-notch computer in front of those poor Aero Glass-limited friends of yours.

Windows by necessity: making MS-Windows more like GNU/Linux

MS-Windows can be a good operating system.

Okay, that’s probably overstating it. There is a nugget of good code in there, somewhere, the bit that Dave Cutler originally designed back around 1989. There’s been so much cruft added on, MS-Windows seems more like a large tank designed by committee; powered by a very fast, very solid, very small sports car engine; and painted a very soothing shade of blue. It’s not really pretty, and it’s not really fun, but it does move, mostly.

But, if you must use MS-Windows, there is a way to make it a tolerable operating system. Just make it more like GNU/Linux.

Windows by necessity: TheOpenCD

As much as I despise MS-Windows, I live in a world that requires at least a working knowledge of the Worst OS In The Universe (tm). From my earliest experiences with MS-Windows 3.0, I looked for ways to make my life bearable: from the Workplace Shell demonstrations to the registry hacks of today, I try to make MS-Windows very unlike MS-Windows.

We make many sacrifices in the name of employment. Giving up our soul to MS-Windows should not be among them. It should bow to our will, not the other way ’round.

Freemind in your kitchen

Tired of reading recipes the usual way? Frankly, I am. I find them more interesting, as well as easier and faster to read, by representing them as mind maps [3, 4]. In this article I have two goals: to demonstrate an alternative format for presenting recipes, and at the same time to provide a short users’ guide for Freemind [1, 2]. As I progress through the article I will also be describing a recipe that you can try for yourself—enjoy the meal!

Fun with Ubuntu - top ten next names, part 2

Last week I gave you half of my Top Ten Names for Ubuntu releases. As a reminder, they were: 'pissy porcupine', 'bitty bat', 'virtual viper', 'talky tortoise', and (my favorite) 'kinky kangaroo'. Now here are the rest. I do this, again, as a public service to Ubuntu, which can freely use these names as it sees fit (though a brand new laptop would be a most fitting 'gift' as a show of gratitude for my creative genius). Anyway... read em and weep! Oh, and you even get a bonus release.

Zesty zebra

Wengophone getting ready for round 2(.1)

Update: March 12th, 2007: The 2.1 RC1 is officially out. Go get it

With voice and video calls, file transfer capability and support for almost every instant messaging system on the planet, Wengophone candidates itself as the main free software competitor to Skype. With the 2.0 release, a pretty unstable, beta quality release, they failed the first attempt. What about the second?

OpenOffice.org and mail merge: how to suppress the Address2 line

Mail merges are a great way to save time, since they pull information from the same fields, over and over again with each new record in your database. There’s only one problem—all records aren’t created equal; they don’t all have, or all need, the same fields. This article solves that perpetual problem with labels. If you’re already familiar with the problem, you can go straight to the solution entitled: Suppressing blank lines with sections step by step.

The problem of blank [Address2] lines

The simplest way to make databases in OpenOffice.org

Do you need to make a database, but fear it’s too much of a pain or you don’t have the right tools? Don’t worry: it’s easy, free, and useful, too. Use the free OpenOffice.org office suite to get your data in shape for mail merges, queries, or useful analysis of your business data.

What’s the point of making a database?

Generating cool fractals

Whether you are a professional or amateur scientist, engineer or mathematician, if you need to make numerical calculations and plots quickly and easily, then PDL (Perl Data Language) is certainly one of the best free software tools to use. PDL has everything that similar high-level, proprietary, numerical calculation languages (like IDL or MATLAB) have. And it certainly comes with all the features you would expect to have in a numerical calculation package.

Making waves with Audacity

For me there is nothing quite as relaxing as the sounds of the beach. The slow crashing of waves and the gentle lapping of water in the tide pools really helps me find my inner calm. Of course, I could do without the smell of rotting fish carcasses, the constantly screeching gulls and the looming threat of melanoma. So I decided to create my own virtual beach experience using some free sound clips from the internet and the free software package called Audacity. I’ve got all the relaxation without the annoying dead fish, dive bombing birds and sunburn.


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?

Gnome vs KDE

It appears this old argument is flaring up again. On Linux.com there was an article discussing some recent posts on the Linux Foundation's Desktop Architects mailing list: Christian Schaller suggested Linus Torvalds should try using Gnome for a month and then report back on his experiences at the forthcoming GAUDEC conference in the UK. Inspired by this I've decided to take up the challenge – all be it in the opposite direction (and I won't be reporting back at GAUDEC!).

Desktop diagramming with Dia and Kivio

Don't let the simplicity of use fool you. Both Kivio and Dia, two free software diagramming tools, are very efficient at what they do. If you need to design a complex flow chart or create a no-fuss UML diagram then you could do a lot worse than to choose either of these packages. The tools have 90% of the expected functionality with only 10% of the hassle and fuss that more complex and unnecessarily feature rich proprietary diagramming tools deliver. The learning curve is small and the end result is potentially professional.

Firewall Builder

Have you ever wanted to configure a personal firewall for your GNU/Linux box, but were scared of the complexity of iptables? Well, I might not be able to make you a security expert, but I can show you a tool that will help you to configure your personal firewall the easy way. The secret? Firewall Builder (also known as fwbuilder for short).


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