Archive for the ‘KDE’ Category
I have upgraded my laptop(Kubuntu 8.10) to KDE 4.2. And all is well. The laptop did not, I repeat, did not explode. As a matter of fact, its been on KDE 4.2 for the last whole week – I never got to write anything about it because of my busy schedule. For the rest of the article, I have to write ‘KDE 4.2’ lots of time. To save some time, I am going to short it to 42. Seems appropriate. So when ever you see ’42’, mentally replace it with ‘KDE 4.2’
42 looks good. And by ‘looks good’ I don’t mean all those fancy effects. I mean it’s usable – unlike its 4.x predecessors. You can actually get things done on it. You don’t have to hit save every other second because you know that the inevitable crash is just around the corner. 42 fixes most of the glaring errors in the earlier releases.
And it does look good – yes, visually this time. They really got into gradients and shadows in this release. Lots of fancy effects as well. Some of them are actually useful, to my surprise. Usually, I just ignore the shiny things – but the ‘Present Windows’ mode have changed my mind. It is a effect that actually has a use. To enable it, go to System Settings > Desktop > Desktop Effects. Now set the ‘Effect for Switching Windows’ to Present Windows.
For all you screenshot fans, here is a nice one…
Still, I have some complaints…
- Command Widget
- I want a input area in my panel that can be used to execute commands. The new Run dialog is useless for this purpose.
- Bookmark Widget
- In the old KDE, there was an option to add the Konqueror bookmarks to the panel – this was very, very useful for me. I cannot find this in the new version.
I am not really worried about these – I am sure the KDE team will add these soon. If they fail, there is always KDE-Look.org. If they don’t have one, well, I could always write one myself. Tinkerability is one of the main reason I love FOSS!
There is still a few bugs left – and for some reason, most of the bugs I notice seems to be in the panel side.
I have two panels – the bottom(with taskbar, system tray, pager, etc) and top panel(clock, quick launch, etc). Unfortunately, my top panel is having a lot of troubles. I cannot position the icons correctly – some widgets(like clock, quick launch, etc.) try to take up way more space that they actually need.
Also the folder view desktop mode seems to have a problem remembering the icon positions.
Again, not too worried – nothing big enough to cause me any trouble.
Even though 42 is much more stable than 4 or 4.2 beta(Nightly neon) its still has a long way to go before it can reach the reliability of KDE 3.5. Still, since I am working on a laptop and not on a server, 42 is more than enough.
Anyway, whenever 42 crashes on you, use this mantra, as I do. Just tell yourself…
It could be a lot worse – I could be using Windows
Tags: 42, KDE, kde4, review, shiny, stable
Posted in KDE, Opinion, Reviews, Ubuntu | 9 Comments »
Dvorak is an alternative keyboard layout. Most systems(like 99% of systems) are configured in the Qwerty layout. But some people(like me) have opted for a better layout – Dvorak. Unfortunately, since most people use Qwerty, the support for Dvorak in most OSes/Window Managers leaves a lot to be desired. So I decided to do a comparison of how the major window manages supports Dvorak.
Note: I am biased towards KDE – keep that in mind while going through the article.
The most biggest problem faced by anyone who switches to the Dvorak layout is the shortcuts problem. Basically, most keyboard shortcuts are created with Qwerty users in mind. Think of the most commanly used shortcuts…
- Save – Ctrl+S
- Quit – Ctrl+Q
- Refresh – Ctrl+R
- Find – Ctrl+F
- Copy – Ctrl+C
- Paste – Ctrl+V
- Cut – Ctrl+X
- Undo – Ctrl+Z
All that can be done using the left hand in the Qwerty layout – very useful because the right hand might be on the mouse. Also, after a lot of use, these shortcuts becomes muscle memory – you will be pressing the keys without any searching.
But once you move over to Dvorak, these keys are scattered all over the keyboard – most of them needs both hands to press. But a bigger problem is muscle memory – you will be pressing the Qwerty position for the shortcuts even after you have switched over to Dvorak. For example, the ‘S’ key in Qwerty becomes the ‘O’ key in Dvorak – every time you try to save a file, you will be calling the open function. Very irritating.
In KDE you can solve this problem by remapping the shortcut keys. One great feature of KDE is that you can assign shortcuts to almost anything. And an alternative shortcut is available as well. So for, say, Copy, I have assigned the shortcut ‘Ctrl+C’ and ‘Ctrl+J'(‘C’ key becomes ‘J’ in Dvorak) – so the shortcuts work in Dvorak as well. This makes it easier to switch to Dvorak – but it will take some time to make all the configurations. Another method is to relearn all shortcuts in Dvorak mode – this is what I did eventually.
Gnome has a better way of doing this – all you have to do is add the Keyboard Indicator Panel widget. When you are in Dvorak mode and you press the left Ctrl key, it remaps the keyboard to Qwerty mode. So Ctrl+S stays as save in Dvorak mode as well. You will be typing in Dvorak – but when you press the Ctrl key to save, Gnome will remap your keys before you hit the ‘S’ key – calling the save function. That’s neat.
It might be a bit disorienting at first, but I think its a better approach than KDE.
- Gnome: 1
- KDE: 0
You need an easy method to switch layouts – especially if others use your system occasionally. One easy way to do is to click on the keyboard layout indicator on the panel. This is possible in both KDE and Gnome – if you add that widget to your panel.
In KDE I used to set the shortcuts Ctrl+Alt+L and Ctrl+Alt+P to switch the layouts(P becomes L when switching from Qwerty to Dvorak). But an easier way do this may be to set both Shift key as the switch shortcut. Go to System Settings > Regional & Language > Keyboard Layout > ‘Advanced’ tab. Then find the ‘Both Shift keys together switches layout’ option(under Layout Switching). Enable that. Now if you press both shift keys, you can toggle your layout.
You can do the same thing in Gnome. Go to System > Preferences > Keyboard > ‘Layout Options’ tab. Enable the ‘Both Shift keys together switches layout’ option under Layout Switching.
Actually you can set this option in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file – just add the line
Option "XkbOptions" "grp:shift_toggle"
Section InputDevice" section.
Both KDE and Gnome gets a cookie.
- Gnome: 2
- KDE: 1
Its important to know which layout is activated – you can do this by pressing the ‘S’ key – if the outputted char is ‘S’ then its the qwerty layout. If it is ‘O’, then you have the Dvorak layout. But it is very helpful to have a visual indicator as well. Both KDE and Gnome provides this option.
Go to System Settings > Regional & Language > Keyboard Layout. Change label of the layouts to ‘Dvo’ and ‘Qwe’ – you can see the label appear in the indicator in the system bar.
You have to add the Keyboard Layout Indicator panel widget for this. Now when you switch between layouts, they are shown as USA and USA2. Not as good as what KDE does.
- Gnome: 2
- KDE: 2
Choose System > Lock Screen. The dialog that accepts the password don’t have a layout chooser. It shows the current layout – as USA – you have to guess wether it is Dvorak or Qwerty. The password entry will not help you – you cannot see the characters being entered. If you know Dvorak, you can get in by guessing. But if you don’t know Dvorak, you will not be able to get in even if you know the password.
In KDE, this dialog is much better – it shows the current layout – and also provides you an option to switch between them.
- Gnome: 2
- KDE: 3
Tags: comparison, dvorak, keyboard, layout, qwerty
Posted in Gnome, KDE, Opinion | 4 Comments »
A few days ago, I bought a Laptop – the Dell Vostro A840. Specs…
- Intel Dual Core
- 1 GB RAM(I upgraded to 2 GB)
- 120 GB Harddrive
- OS: Preloaded with Ubuntu 8.04
Since its preloaded with Ubuntu, every thing worked without much problem. Wifi autoconnects, display look good, all the laptop specific buttons work without any problem(did not check suspend/hibernate). So what’s my next step? Uninstall Ubuntu, of course.
Don’t worry, I am not going to install Windows on it. No, I am not going for Fedora either(I use Fedora 8 on my desktop). I installed the latest version of Kubuntu – 8.10 or the ‘Intrepid Ibex’. As a matter of fact, I installed Xubuntu and then install the kubuntu-desktop package(I couldn’t get a Kubuntu CD). So now I have Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE 4.1. If my last experience with KDE4 has taught me anything, it is that KDE4 is nowhere near ready. Well, KDE 4.1 is much better – but still it has a long way to go before I am going to switch my desktop over to it.
My main complaints about KDE 4.1…
- Lots of bugs
- KHotKeys don’t work
- Panel setting don’t get saved – the position of the icons gets reset
- No Icons in Desktop! (I hear 4.2 has fixed this)
- And more.
Anyway, I am going to continue using KDE 4.1 on the Lap. Hopefully they will release the stable release of 4.2 soon and I’ll upgrade to that.
After I moved to Kubuntu there were a lot of ‘driver missing’ issues. Wifi stopped working. Some laptop LEDs stopped functioning. So I begun the driver hunt. The DVDs provided with the laptop had linux drivers in them – but they where RPMs – not DEB packages. I cannot understand why Dell did that either. If you preinstall ubuntu, provide the .deb packages.
Before long, I stumbled upon an excellent tutorial on how to enable Atheros wireless. That got my Wifi up and running. The LED don’t work yet, but who cares.
So what does this mean for you visitors? Expect some posts on Laptop specific topics as well as some on Ubuntu/Kubuntu. Earlier I only wrote about Fedora.
This is what my laptop looks now…
Tags: hardware, kde4, kubuntu, laptop, review, Ubuntu
Posted in KDE, Reviews, Ubuntu | 14 Comments »
If you are using Konqueror and have not used custom service menus, you are missing out. Just like the Nautilus Scripts in Nautilus, Konqueror also has the ability to customize the context menus. This post will show you how to do it.
We are going to create two different kind of service menus – one will create an item in the action part of the right click menu. The next type will create a submenu in the ‘actions’ menu with multiple menu items. Hopefully, you will get an idea about how to do it by yourself.
Single Item Service Menu
This service menu will create a menu item in the Action section of the context menu for all ISO files. For this to work as intended, the mimetype for ISO file must be application/x-iso .
- Open ~/.kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus folder
- Create a file with the name ‘PlayISO.desktop’ – the name can be anything – but the extension must be ‘.desktop’
- Enter the following content…
[Desktop Entry] ServiceTypes=application/x-iso Actions=PlayISOInXine [Desktop Action PlayISOInXine] Name=Play ISO File in Xine Icon=player_play Exec=xine -pq --no-splash dvd:/%f
Now lets see a line by line explanation of the code.
- [Desktop Entry]
- Start the file with this line.
- This decides which all file types must this service menu be shown to. You can find the mimetype for various files by taking Control Center > KDE Components > File Associations. Then search for the extension in the given text field.
- Name of the action – this will be defined in the next line
- [Desktop Action PlayISOInXine]
- The definition of the ‘PlayISOInXine’ action goes here.
- Name=Play ISO File in Xine
- The text to be shown in the menu item.
- The icon to be used in the menu. The icon can be an absolute path or the file name of an image in your current theme(for example, if you are using Crystal SVG theme, then the images you can use is in the folder ‘/usr/share/icons/crystalsvg/16×16/actions’).
- Exec=xine -pq –no-splash dvd:/%f
- The command to be executed when the menu item is clicked. The %f stands for the full name of the file. The other options are listed in the documentation.
This is the end result…
Submenu Service Menu
This sample will give you the option to convert the selected html file to a plain text file or a compressed archive. The code looks like this…
[Desktop Entry] ServiceTypes=text/html Actions=convertToText;convertToZip X-KDE-Submenu=Convert [Desktop Action convertToText] Name=Convert To Text Icon=txt Exec=lynx -dump "%f" > "`dirname "%f"`/`basename "%f" ".html"`.txt" [Desktop Action convertToZip] Name=Compress as Zip Icon=tar Exec=zip "`dirname "%f"`/`basename "%f" ".html"`.zip" "%f"
Again, a line by line explanation…
- [Desktop Entry]
- You know.
- This is only for HTML files – so we specify the mimetype as text/html
- We have two different actions instead of just one as in the last case. So we provide the name of both actions separated by a ‘;’.
- This will make sure its shown in a submenu – and that the name of the submenu is Convert.
- [Desktop Action convertToText]
- Defining the first action – convertToText
- Name=Convert To Text
- The label of the menu item
- And its icon
- Exec=lynx -dump “%f” > “`dirname “%f”`/`basename “%f” “.html”`.txt”
- This command will convert a html file to a text file and put the resulting file in the same folder as the html file.
- [Desktop Action convertToZip]
- Defining the next action – convertToZip
- Name=Compress as Zip
- And Icon
- Exec=zip “`dirname “%f”`/`basename “%f” “.html”`.zip” “%f”
- The command to compress the html file as a zip file.
If done correctly, it should look something like this…
Tags: action, context, desktop, konquoror, menu, script, service
Posted in Applications, Configuration, KDE | 2 Comments »
Windows has a nice feature in Networking – you just configure the IPs correctly, and the network sharing “magically” works. In Linux we will have to manually configure Samba or some other similar tool to share files between two linux systems – and that’s a bit daunting for a new user. But there is an easier way – using SSH.
SSH or Secure Shell is a program for logging into a remote machine and executing commands on a that machine. Don’t worry – you won’t have to type commands to transfer files – there are GUI clients that supports SSH protocol – for example, the great Konqueror.
SSH is installed and turned on in most distros – so chances are you are running an SSH server at the moment. But if its not installed by default, you can install it using these commands…
In Fedora/Red Hat
yum install openssh
apt-get install openssh
After installing it, you have to activate it in the Services configuration utility. Once that is done, SSH will turned on at boot. Make sure the remote machine have SSH installed and running before trying to connect to it.
An Example Implementation
I use SSH to transfer files between my system and my brothers system. This will give you an overview of the network…
Both the systems have SSH enabled. Now if I want to get some files from my brother’s system, all I have to do is open Konqueror and enter this address in the Address bar:
That is fish://[Remote User]@[Remote Machine’s IP/Name].
This will show a password prompt – where you have to input the password of the remote user. Once that is done, you will see all the files in the remote machine that is accessable by the user you logged in as. All operation you are used to in Konqueror are still supported – Copy/Paste, Drag and Drop etc – they will work between the local system and the remote machine.
If you are a Gnome user, this is possible in Nautilus as well. Instead of
fish://firstname.lastname@example.org , you have to enter
ssh://email@example.com in the address bar – protocol is ssh:// instead of fish://.
Keep in mind that this is practical only for small home networks. If you are implementing a large network with permission settings, shares and stuff, go with Samba. SSH is not a choice there.
Tags: fish, konquoror, local, network, remote, share, ssh
Posted in KDE, Networking, Tools | 4 Comments »
As promised, I installed Fedora 9 – and promptly moved back to Fedora 8. The problem is not Fedora – its KDE. KDE 4 is not yet ready for normal use. And if you are a KDE user, I would suggest that you stay away from Fedora 9.
The purpose of KDE 4 is to make KDE compactable with Qt4. Its not for actual use. Sure, it could be used as a desktop, but it will lack many features that you expect in KDE.
I am surprised that Fedora decided to include KDE4 – despite its ‘alpha-ness’. But they have their reasons
Problems With KDE4
- Customizable Panel
- I could not find any options to customizing the panel – KDE 3.5 have a lot of options.
- Many Options/Settings are missing.
- It will be coming in the future releases – but its missing now.
- Desktop Icons have no consistency
- Some icons are bigger than others. On the other hand, you can rotate these icons – but I fail to see any practical application for that.
- And many more…
- Random crashes, dolphin, irremovable ‘Add Plasmoid’ option on the desktop, etc.
Long story short, I am back in Fedora 8. And I will be on it until Fedora 10 is out. And even then, I’ll wait some time before upgrading.
Fedora 9/KDE4 Positive Reviews
- Fedora 9 Review
- Fedora 9 and the road to KDE4
- Review Roundup: Fedora 9
- Fedora 9: Leading edge or bleeding edge?
- Hats off to Fedora 9
- 5 Reasons Why Youâ€™ll Love Fedora 9
- aseigo: talking bluntly
- KDE 4.0 – why now?
And the Negative Ones…
Tags: Fedora, install, KDE, review, upgrade
Posted in Fedora, KDE | 9 Comments »
There are no shortage of audio players in Linux. It has everything from command line MP3 players(mpg123) to RAM eating GUI players(like Amarok). With easily available codecs, linux supports almost all available formats.
This is the final post on a series about MP3 Players in linux. This series focuses on dedicated audio players – not video players that can handle audio as well(like mplayer). Without further ado, presenting the top 10 Linux MP3 players…
amaroK is currently the player of my choice – it rocks. Everything I ever wanted in a MP3 Player and more. It is the clear winner in this field. In my opinion, there is nothing that beats amarok even if you look at Windows and Mac MP3 players as well.
More Information on Amarok MP3 Player
A Winamp clone. Simple and user friendly, it is very popular on linux. It does not have a large feature set – but I am going to give it second place due to its popularity.
Official Sites for XMMS Player
Rhythmbox Music Player is a music player and library for tagged files, that support various music formats. It was inspired by Appleâ€™s iTunes. Although it is designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, I had no issues with it in KDE.
Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDEâ€™s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python. It incorporates many of the cool things from Amarok (and other media players)
Audacious is not among the ‘star media-players’ in Linux – so many people never try it out. But those who have tried it out like it. For the sake of the article, I installed it – and I liked it. I even considered switching from amaroK to Audacious.
Banshee is an MP3 players for Gnome. You can import, organize, play, and share your music using Banshee’s simple, powerful interface.
Banshee Official Sites
SongBird is an MP3 player built on the XUL framework. It’s a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web.
An audio jukebox that supports collections of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. It is a part of the kdemultimedia package.
mpg123 is a fast, free, minimalist, console MPEG audio player software program for UNIX and Linux operating systems.
10. Other MP3 Players and Media Software…
Instead of putting the last MP3 Player here, I am going to list the MP3 software that did not make it to the list…
- Beep Media Player
- X-platform Music Multiplexing System 2 – XMMS2
- Decibel Audio Player
- Cactus Jukebox
So, which is your favorite MP3 Player? Leave a comment…
Update: I reviewed two more players…
Tags: Audio, Gnome, KDE, list, mp3, music, player, review, software, top10
Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome, KDE | 96 Comments »
If you are using Fedora 8 with KDE you may have noticed an interesting bug. Once you open some Gnome apps(for example, Exile, all the fonts in the KDE applications becomes one size smaller.
If this happens, the only way to fix it is to restart the X server – or so I thought. At first, I thought it was the issue of just one application – namely RhythmBox.
But I just found that there is a simple fix for this problem…
- Run the command ‘gnome-appearance-properties’
- Go to the ‘Fonts’ Tab
- Click on the ‘Details’ Button at the bottom
- Change the Resolution to 96 Dots per Inch(DPI)
That should solve your problem.
This issue appears only if your screen resolution is bigger than normal – mine is 1440×900.
Tags: dpi, Fedora, font, KDE, resolution, size
Posted in Fedora, Gnome, KDE, Troubleshooting | No Comments »
amaroK is currently the player of my choice – it rocks. Everything I ever wanted in a MP3 Player and more.
I must be able to control some functions in the player like Play/Pause, Next/Previous song etc. with the keyboard without having to open the software. For example, you are banging away at your keyboard creating the next big thing. Suddenly someone calls you – but you can’t make out what they are trying to say because you are playing music at volumes that makes it audible to a deaf man halfway round the world. Now you have to open up the player, find the pause button(in some winamp skins, they are nearly impossible to find), pause the song and then try to listen to what someone was screaming about.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a keyboard combination from any app and your player pauses? Winamp(version 5 onwards) had this feature if you enabled a plugin called Global Hotkeys. amaroK supports this feature natively – amarok->Settings->Configure Global Shortcuts.
Stays in the System Tray
Another must have feature – when I listen to music I don’t want to see the application that plays it. I don’t want to see some any stupid visualizations. I don’t want to see any dancing pixies. In short, all I want from a player is hear the music – not play some animation that’s eating my CPU cycles.
The best way to make sure of this is if the app stays in the system tray(or status bar). And amaroK does that. Some basic operation(play/pause, stop, etc.) are available from the right click menu of amaroK icon in the system tray.
There is also a hidden feature – just bring you mouse over the amaroK icon in the system tray any scroll the mouse wheel down – this reduces the volume!
But I have one complaint about that – there is no way I can know what song is playing. In the XMMS Status docklet, the name of the currently song will popup if you hover over the icon for some time. That is not possible in AmaroK.
Update: Amarok has this feature – but in Fedora, its disabled. Some bug, I guess
Other Cool Features…
- Media Library
- Fetches Lyrics/Artist Info from the Web
- Supports Podcasts
- Inbuilt Bulk MP3 Tag editor
- Able to access MP3 players(the hardware players – you know – like iPod)
For More Information
Tags: amarok, mp3, review, software
Posted in Applications, Audio, KDE | 17 Comments »
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a keyboard combination from any app and your player pauses? Winamp(version 5 onwards) had this feature if you enabled a plugin called Global Hotkeys. You can’t do this in XMMS – but you can set up KHotkeys or Input Action to do it for you.
This is an extremal cool feature of KDE(sorry – no support for Gnome). You can access this feature by opening up Control Panel->Regional & Accessability->Input actions. You could configure it to give some commands to XMMS when you press a shortcut key.
The Examples group already have a XMMS action – next. Follow the format of that example to set the shortcuts for other actions in XMMS. I have 3 action in my system…
- Play/Pause – Ctrl+Alt+Home
- Previous Song – Ctrl+Alt+Page Up
- Next Song – Ctrl+Alt+Page Down
Working of KHotkeys
For this example, I am going to create the Next Song action for XMMS. Click on the New Action Button at the bottom.
First you have to set the action type – the simplest is ‘Keyboard Shortcut->Keyboard Input’. This type simulates a specified key input in a given application when you press the shortcut trigger. For example, when you press ‘Ctrl+Alt+Page Down’ KHotkeys will send the key ‘b’ to XMMS – that is the shortcut in XMMS to go to the next song.
In the next tab, you can set up a shortcut trigger(Say Ctrl+Alt+Page Down).
The ‘Keyboard Input Settings’ tab does all the major work – it decides the key to be send and the application to which the key must be send. In our example, the Keyboard Input is ‘b'(XMMS Shortcut for the next Song).
Next click on New->Simple Window in the Window section. Now open XMMS, click on the ‘Autodetect’, and then click on XMMS. This will populate the fields of the Window popup. We only need the ‘Window Class’ – change the drop down to the ‘Is’ option.
Now click the Apply button.
That’s it – open up XMMS and play any song. If you press Ctrl+Alt+Page Down, XMMS will skip to the next song.
Try doing other things with KHotkeys – it is a powerful tool.
Posted in Applications, Audio, Configuration, KDE | 3 Comments »