Free software and 2-D barcodes

You've probably seen them: black and white checkerboard-patterned matrices printed on labels and other real-world objects that you can optically scan with a cameraphone or other handheld device to extract an encoded message. But although 2-D barcodes (as they are known) are getting more common, working with them is still a bumpy road for the Linux and free software crowd. Fortunately, several options exist for reading and generating them with open source software.

Making music with M-Audio on Linux

M-Audio has supplied hardware and software to computer-based musicians for 20 years. Its new "make-music-now" line of products, aimed at musicians just getting into computers or PC users with an interest in music, includes a microphone, speakers, drum machine, and DJ mixer deck. Unfortunately, its bundled software, called Session, is for Windows only. Our challenge was to try out this hardware -- specifically the KeyStudio MIDI keyboard and Fast Track audio interface -- with Linux applications. We were half successful.

Open RAR Archives in Ubuntu

Downloaded a file compressed in the RAR format and found that Archive Manager couldn’t open it? RAR support can’t be included in Ubuntu by default because it’s proprietary, but installing it is simple.

Add Items to the Right-Click Menu in Nautilus


Linux is known for letting users configure settings to customize nearly every aspect of their desktops. In the past, this has largely been relegated to the more advanced crowd, since it often required editing text-based configuration files; but as Linux becomes more mature, many GUI programs are being written to allow easy customization of the user interface. The Nautilus Actions Configuration utility is one such program that lets you add custom commands to the right-click menu in Nautilus, the default file manager in Gnome.

Firefox 3.0 beta plugs hundreds of memory leaks, says Mozilla

Firefox 3.0's memory consumption is "dramatically improved," claimed Mozilla Corp.'s chief engineer yesterday, because developers have aggressively attacked the open-source browser's notorious memory "leaks."

Mozilla raises Firefox security bar

Firefox 3.0's new anti-malware blocker, a tool that prevents some malicious pages from loading, is the browser upgrade's most important new security feature, Mozilla Corp.'s head of engineering said today.

Resizing the slides in OpenOffice Impress Handouts

This excellent tip comes to me from Robert. You can specify the number of slides in your Presentation handouts. Click the Handouts tab at the top  of the work area and you get this view. Pick 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 slides per page. But sometimes the slide placeholders are kind of small. Really small. It varies a bit depending on what your page orientation was when you made the change.

One thing you can do is switch between number of slides per page, like from 6 to 2 to 3. That can help.

Another approach, you're thinking is "Hey, why not resize the slides????" That would be nice, but when you move your mouse over the corner handle, you get the "denied!" ghostbusters symbol.

Save your command for later execution

Sometimes, you change your mind when you are in the middle of typing in a command at the command prompt. You don't want to execute the command until a later time, but you don't want to retype the line again. What to do?

Quick Review: Firefox 3 Beta 3

Mozilla has released the latest beta of Firefox 3 for testers and early adopters. This latest beta includes many useful features and improved user interface. There is expected to be a beta 4 coming out in end February:

Commercial Ubuntu

I just read a post by Bruce Byfield, where he raises an interesting question: after the fact that Canonical will try and offer commercial software from a specific repository, would anyone use it? And if not, could it alienate other users of Ubuntu from using the distribution at all?

Discover the possibilities of the /proc folder

The /proc directory is a strange beast. It doesn't really exist, yet you can explore it. Its zero-length files are neither binary nor text, yet you can examine and display them. This special directory holds all the details about your Linux system, including its kernel, processes, and configuration parameters. By studying the /proc directory, you can learn how Linux commands work, and you can even do some administrative tasks.

Install Firefox 3 Beta 3 in Ubuntu with One Command

Heard about the new Firefox 3 Beta 3 and want to try it out in Ubuntu? Here’s a one line command that will install it in Ubuntu (or anther distro) alongside your existing Firefox.

Accounting Software for the Geek Ranch

I hate accounting. The one accounting class I took in college proved that to me. The fact that I could get an A in the class by doing one homework problem and copying all the others during class was only part of the reason. But, it's related. I hate doing the same thing over and over and, to me, that is exactly what accounting is.

Tape-Oriented Backup is a general driver for making and maintaining backups

Tape-Oriented Backup is a general driver for making and maintaining backups. Given a set of `volume definitions', it creates arj, tar or afio based backups, and stores them either to a device in /dev, or a file in the filesystem, to be burned to optical media later, moved off to other machines, etc.

StartUp Manager - change settings in Grub, Grub2 and Usplash

StartUp Manager, or SUM, is a gui tool for changing settings in Grub, Grub2 and Usplash.SUM should work with recent versions of Debian and Debian-based distributions such as Ubuntu.

Setup a Software Firewall in Linux using Firestarter


One of the great features included in Linux is the IPtables firewall. Unfortunately, its command-line use is rather complex, and it can be intimidating for even experienced Linux users to configure it. Firestarter is a friendly graphical interface that allows you to configure a software firewall in Linux using the built-in IPtables/IPchains utilities.

Delete Your Files (Or Wipe Your Hard Drive) Beyond Recovery

How confident are you that when you ‘delete’ a file, it really get deleted/removed/erased/wiped from your hard disk? The fact is, the ‘delete’ command does not remove your file(s). It simply tells your system to free up the space for other data. Until the space been filled with new data, your file(s) will still remain on the disk itself. That is to say, with some simple recovery tools, the files can be easily recovered. Now, if you want to completely eradicate porns files that contain sensitive information, you have to do more than just ‘delete’ and ‘empty trash’

Scripting Scribus

Have you ever said, "This program is pretty nice, but I wish it would ..."? For applications that offer the capability, scripting gives users the ability to customize, extend, and tailor a program to meet their needs. Scribus, a free page layout program that runs on Linux (and Mac OS and Windows) uses the Python programming language for user scripting. Python scripting in Scribus can drastically improve your work flow, and it's relatively easy for beginners to not only use scripts, but also write them.

Add Your Document Templates to GNOME

GNOME has a menu of document templates in its file browser. It seems to have been forgotten, unless you add some templates yourself the menu will only ever display “No templates installed”.

When files disappear, Magic Rescue saves the day

If you've ever had that sick realization that you made a mistake immediately after emptying your Trash or deleting a file with Shift-Del, then Magic Rescue may be the cure you're looking for. Magic Rescue searches block devices for particular file types, then restores them to a designated directory where you can sort through them.

Elisa: Ubuntu Media Centre

The Ubuntu Media Centre Team have decided to use Elisa as their core infrastructure to push the free software media centre effort forward. Elisa is a open source cross-platform media centre, designed to be as simple to use as possible. The software is in its early days and so is still quite basic in terms of features found in other media centre solutions. However, the project is gaining momentum and is improving rapidly. Here’s a list of some of its features.

A new Compiz release 0.7.0 is now available

According to information from upstream compiz 0.7 will be ready for the timeframe of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. compiz will introduce an object system and abstract the output, allowing output plugins based on XRender or OpenGL.

Digital Music Management with Linux (revisited)

A while ago I blogged about the long process of managing my music on my laptop (opensuse 10.3 with KDE). I’ve been able to trim it down a bit so I thought I’d post my findings in the hope that someone else saves some time and effort. My requirements are simple:

Joining an Active Directory domain with Ubuntu

What a pain. Imagine you are in Windows network environment and have a small amount of Ubuntu desktops. You task is to let them join the Active Directory so users can login with their known credentials. There is a package in universe called “authtool” even providing and promising to do what you need.

Measuring Ubuntu's Boot Performance

In this article, we are looking at Ubuntu's boot performance for the past five releases through the use of Bootchart for measuring its boot time, disk throughput, and the running processes.

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