Top 4 Terminal GUI Applications

Written by BinnyVA on June 19, 2009 – 1:19 am -

Terminal

Terminal GUI Apps? Does sound oxymoronic doesn’t it? Well, there are GUI apps in the terminal – and here is a tribute to ones that I find most useful…

top/htop – Process Viewer

From the man page…

The top program provides a dynamic real-time view of a running system. It can display system summary information as well as a list of tasks currently being managed by the Linux kernel. The types of system summary information shown and the types, order and size of information displayed for tasks are all user configurable and that configuration can be made persistent across restarts.

I always have a processor load displaying applet(System Monitor) in my panel. Whenever I see a spike, I fire up a console and type in the top command – its very useful in finding which process is creating the load. Usually, it is some cron job like updatedb or makewhatis. But occasionally, I find a zombie processes this way.

htop is, for the lack of a better word, a better top. It provides a more colorful display(top has a color mode as well – open top and press ‘z’). It also makes it a bit more easier to kill processes.

htop

mc – File Manager

mc(or Midnight Commander) is a file manager. Sure you can cp and mv your files around, but after a while, it gets tiring. mc is a dual pane file manager -it means you can see two folders at the same time. You can copy/move files from one to the other, delete, rename, view file etc – in short, everything a file manager is expected to have, mc has.

mc

mpg123 – Audio Player

I am not writing too much about this – considering the fact that I have already wrote a post about mpg123/mpg321 in the audio player series.

aptitude

aptitude is a ncurces based GUI for the apt package manage – as a result, this is only available in Debian based systems(Ubuntu, Knopix, etc.). I have not yet seen anyone using aptitude – if they have a GUI system, they use synaptic – and if they are comfortable with the command line, they use apt-get command. But still, there is a middle ground – if for some reason you need it.

aptitude

Thanks to Rajesh for the aptitude screenshot.

Anything Else?

Any other Terminal GUI application? I can only think of these at the moment. If you can think of others, comment.


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Posted in Applications, Command Line, Reviews, Tools | 12 Comments »

KDE 4.2: Stable and Shiny

Written by BinnyVA on February 6, 2009 – 12:59 am -

KDE Logo

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 usableunlike 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…

KDE 4.2 Screenshot

Still, I have some complaints…

Missing Widgets/Plasmoids/Whatever

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!

Bugs

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.

Kinda Crashy

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


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Posted in KDE, Opinion, Reviews, Ubuntu | 9 Comments »

Dell Vostro A840 Laptop and Linux

Written by BinnyVA on December 3, 2008 – 11:59 pm -

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…


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Posted in KDE, Reviews, Ubuntu | 14 Comments »

WFTL Bytes

Written by BinnyVA on October 21, 2008 – 11:42 pm -

WFTL Bytes “your occasiodaily FOSS and Linux news show” is a video podcast by Marcel Gagné. Go see it – it is Good – Good with a capital ‘G’. WFTL Bytes does for Linux what Zero Punctuation does for gaming.

This is WFTL(pronounced ‘Wuftal’) has to say about itself…

This is WFTL Bytes!, your occasiodaily FOSS news show featuring the latest Linux and FOSS news with your host, Marcel Gagné. WFTL Bytes! is a fast, fun, occasionally a bit goofy, but always informative look at technology news and events as seen from a free and open source software perspective. This includes Linux and everything that that orbits it. Watch! Enjoy! Comment on the stories. I want to know what you think and what you’ve got to say, either about the show in general, the topics covered, of the stories themselves. Tell your friends, relatives, co-workers . . . tell everybody!

WFTL Bytes does for Linux what Zero Punctuation does for gaming

A Demo

Here is a couple of episodes to get a feel of the show…

That’s it folks, go subscribe to WFTL Bytes and check out Marcel’s latest press hat. Bye.

Seriously, I’m done. Bye.


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Posted in News, Opinion, Reviews, Video | 1 Comment »

SMPlayer – Linux Video Player

Written by BinnyVA on September 18, 2008 – 12:37 am -

I have used a lot of video players on Linux – and over the time my favorite video player have changed. When I wrote the post Top 5 Video Players in Linux, it was VLC. After that, the position was held by Xine for a long time. But that was before I discovered SMPlayer.

SMPlayer is a front-end for MPlayer, from basic features like playing videos, DVDs, and VCDs to more advanced features like support for MPlayer filters and more.

Features

Remembers the settings of all files you play
So you start to watch a movie but you have to leave… don’t worry, when you open that movie again it will resume at the same point you left it, and with the same settings: audio track, subtitles, volume…
Extremely Configurable
This is one feature I absolutely must have in a video player – I want to use very specific settings. And SMPlayer is one of the few players that lets me do that.
Configurable subtitles
You can choose font and size, and even colors for the subtitles. Or you can drag and drop a subtitle file into the player when you are playing a video – the video will use that subtitle file from then on. Or you can automatically get the subtitle of the currently playing film from OpenSubtitles with the click of a button(you need the latest version for this).
Audio track switching.
You can choose the audio track you want to listen. Works with avi and mkv. And of course with DVDs.
Seeking by mouse wheel.
You can use your mouse wheel to go forward or backward in the video.
Video equalizer
Allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma of the video image. I have never used this feature – but it might come in handy for a bad quality video.
Multiple speed playback
You can play at 2X, 4X… and even in slow motion. SMPlayer speeds up the audio as well – which is kinda distracting – I wish they would mute it in fast mode.
Filters
Several filters are available: deinterlace, postprocessing, denoise… and even a karaoke filter (voice removal).
Audio and subtitles delay adjustment
Allows you to sync audio and subtitles.
Advanced options
Such as selecting a demuxer or video & audio codecs, providing mplayer command line options and more. Seriously, take a look at the Preferences dialog of this app.
Playlist
Allows you to enqueue several files to be played one after each other. Autorepeat and shuffle supported too.
Multiplatform
Binaries available for Windows and Linux.
Free Software
SMPlayer is under the GPL license.

Installing SMPlayer

In Fedora/Red Hat system, you can install SMPlayer using yum…

yum install smplayer

The package name is the same for Ubuntu/Debian systems…

apt-get install smplayer

Or you can download the app from their site and install it manually.

Related Links


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Posted in Applications, Reviews, Video | 7 Comments »

Firefox 3 Review

Written by BinnyVA on July 1, 2008 – 10:58 pm -

Firefox Logo

I have been a Firefox 3 user from day 1. So I thought it might be a good time to write a review. Some positive and negative points about it…

The Negative Stuff

Stability Issues

I am having some random crashes – this could be a problem with my setup. I have not heard about such a problem on other sites. Anyway, these crashes give no warning. One minute, you are browsing smoothly and the next minute you are looking at the desktop – the browser have gone away. Fortunately, Firefox has a session saver – so if you restart Firefox after a crash, the tabs you had earlier will be waiting for you.

Go Button

Firefox 3 removed the ‘Go’ button to the right of address bar. I want it back – fortunately, you can get it back using a userChrome.css hack…

Go to the profile folder of firefox. In Linux, it should be in some folder like /home/username/.mozilla/firefox/[random id].default/chrome/

Create a new file called userChrome.css and put this line in it…

#urlbar[pageproxystate="valid"] > #urlbar-icons > #go-button {
	visibility: visible !important;
}

Flash Problem

This should be a Linux only problem – and I think the flash plugin is the one that should take the blame. When I visit some pages with embedded flash, a new gnome window open up. It does nothing – just hangs around the screen. Do any of you guys have this problem?

The Positive Stuff

Awesome bar is, well, awesome

The new address bar is just great. It saves a lot of time. Its a very good feature – and I predict that other browsers will follow firefox lead and add this feature too.

FUEL Library

You users will not find this useful – but for us add-on developers, this is great. FUEL a javascript library that makes it much more easier to create XUL plugins for firefox.

Better Bookmarking System

Firefox 3’s bookmarking system is much better than the earlier one. It learned a lot from del.icio.us – now it supports tagging.

Looks Better

In addition to better color and font handling, the looks of some HTML elements have been improved(example, the dropdown/combo box). Also dragging have been improved – just try to drag an image or a link and you will see what I mean. You can see the item you are dragging along with the cursor instead of a generic icon.

So what are your opinions about the new Firefox?


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Posted in Applications, News | 8 Comments »

Fedora 9 Installed – And Uninstalled

Written by BinnyVA on May 20, 2008 – 10:11 pm -

Fedora Logo

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.

Links

Fedora 9/KDE4 Positive Reviews

And the Negative Ones…


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Posted in Fedora, KDE | 9 Comments »

Listen – Gtk MP3 Player

Written by BinnyVA on March 22, 2008 – 11:27 pm -

Listen Logo

I expected my MP3 player series will end with the last post – but the comments pointed to some other players. Two players stood out – so I decided that I will review them as well. The first one is Listen. Its a Gtk player written in Python.

Features

  • Supports Shoutcast Webradio
  • Supports Podcast
  • Multiple Display modes
  • Wikipedia Integration
  • Native Lyrics Support

Listen Screenshot

Disadvantages

No Global Shortcuts
At least, none that I could find.
“Interesting” Layout
The layout is kinda different from the standand layout of amaroK, Exaile, Rythmbox etc. I am still getting used to it. But once you get the hang of it, it could turn out to be a better system than the one that the other players use.

Advantages

OSD
Shows up on mouse hover and track change.
Tray Icon
Supports play/pause with middle click.
Music Library
Listen has a music library – but it supports only a single folder as its library folder.

More Information


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome | 7 Comments »

Top 10 Linux MP3 Players

Written by BinnyVA on March 14, 2008 – 11:11 am -

Music

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…

1. Amarok

Amarok Logo

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.

Amarok Linux MP3 Player Screenshot

More Information on Amarok MP3 Player

2. XMMS

XMMS Logo

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.

XMMS MP3 Audio Player Screenshot

Official Sites for XMMS Player

3. RhythmBox

RhythmBox Gnome Music Player Logo

Rhythmbox Music Player is a music player and library for tagged files, that support various music formats. It was inspired by Apple’s iTunes. Although it is designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, I had no issues with it in KDE.

RhythmBox – Gnome Music Player

RhythmBox Media Player Screenshot

Official Sites

4. Exaile

Exaile MP3 Player Logo

Exaile is a music player aiming to be similar to KDE’s Amarok, but for GTK+ and written in Python. It incorporates many of the cool things from Amarok (and other media players)

Exaile – Music Player for Gtk+

Exaile Media Player Screenshot

Official Sites

5. Audacious

Audacious Logo

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.

Audacious Media Player

Official Sites

6. Banshee

Banshee Music Player Logo

Banshee is an MP3 players for Gnome. You can import, organize, play, and share your music using Banshee’s simple, powerful interface.

Banshee – Music Management and Playback for GNOME

Banshee MP3 Player Screenshot

Banshee Official Sites

7. SongBird

SongBird MP3 Software Logo

SongBird is an MP3 player built on the XUL framework. It’s a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web.

SongBird – The Firefox of MP3 Players

Songbird Screenshot

Official Sites

8. Juk

Juk MultiMedia Player Logo

An audio jukebox that supports collections of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. It is a part of the kdemultimedia package.

Juk


9. mpg123/mpg321

mpg123 is a fast, free, minimalist, console MPEG audio player software program for UNIX and Linux operating systems.

mpg123/mpg321 – The Command Line MP3 Players

Official Sites

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…

So, which is your favorite MP3 Player? Leave a comment…

Update: I reviewed two more players…


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Posted in Applications, Audio, Gnome, KDE | 96 Comments »

mpg123/mpg321 – The Command Line MP3 Players

Written by BinnyVA on February 25, 2008 – 1:25 am -

Terminal

So far we looked at the GUI MP3 Players for linux – like Amarok, Exile, XMMS etc. Most linux users need only that – but there are some people who want a simpler system – command line players. The two top players in this area are mpg123 and mpg321.

mpg123

mpg123 is a fast, free, minimalist, console MPEG audio player software program for UNIX and Linux operating systems. The development on this project ceased for a long time – but now it has a new maintainer.

mpg321

mpg321 is a clone of mpg123.

Installation

Most distros have mpg321 in their repositories(not all have mpg123) – so just log in as root and use these commands to install it…
yum install mpg321 – For RedHat, Fedora, CentOS etc.
OR
apt-get install mpg321 – For Debian, Ubuntu, etc.

Using mpg321

Using mpg321 is straight forward. Since it has no GUI, just go to the folder with the song and just execute the command…

mpg321 MP3_FILE_NAME

If you want to play all the songs in a folder, you have to create a list of files in that folder. Then you have to specify this list as an argument for the mpg321 command. These commands can get the job done…

Create a list of all MP3 Files in the current folder…

find . -name "*.mp3"|sed 's/\.\///;'|sort>List.lst

Use this list as the play list for mpg321

mpg123 --list List.lst

Why Use Command Line Players?

If we have a number of shiny GUI players, why should one use a command line player? Unless you are an anti-GUI command line guru, chances are you don’t need it. But still, it has its uses.

For example, if you have to restart the X Server often for some reason, then mpg321 is the best player for you. All other player will stop playing when X server is down.

This actually happend to me – when I bought my second LCD screen, it took me some time to configure it. And that meant editing the xorg.conf file and restarting the X Server to see if it worked. At that time, I opened a virtual terminal(Ctrl+Alt+F1) and opened mpg321 with a bunch of MP3s in the list. It kept playing even if the X server is down. This is propably the reason that I was still sane after around six hours of XOrg configuration. :-)


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Posted in Audio, Command Line, Tools | 11 Comments »