Category Archives: Linux

How to run windows applications and programs on linux using Wine, Crossover & Playonlinux

How to run windows applications and programs on linux using Wine, Crossover & Playonlinux


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Crossover mac windows

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Wine, Crossover, Linux

If you are running linux as your operating systems, you can use and rely on free open source softwares almost for all the purposes. Some examples are Openoffice which is popular software provided by Sun microsystems and is compatible with MS office. However there are certain applications on windows that are so popular that finding substitute for them is very difficult.

In this hub i will explain, how to install and run programs designed for windows such as MS office on linux. There are basically two ways in which you can do it by using..

Wine (free software)
Crossover (proprieatary, non free software)
Playonlinux (free software)

A windows application utilises the DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries) provided by the windows operating system. To run the same application on mac or Linux, it needs the program to use some native DLLs provided as well as substituted DLLs. The above metioned packages provide the native as well as substituted DLLs to do so.

WINE — This is an acronym which satnds for Wine Is Not Emulator. This is an Open source project which has won many prizes in Google Summer Code Contest. Unlike popular belief it is not Emulator and so it does Wine does slow down the speed of programs. Wine can be freely downloaded from its website (search for Wine on google). It can be easily downloaded and installed on Ubuntu Linux from synaptic package manager. Once installed all the ‘.exe’ can b made to open with wine. The current stable version is 1.2.2 capable of running games and other popular windows softwares. It can also fully support MS office 2003.

The settings can be changed which can change the font size textures and other details concerned with th software.

Crossover — It is proprietary software provided by Codeweavers based on Wine and can run windows softwares both on mac as well as Linux. Crossover provided much more functionality than wine. You can run many application such as latest Internet Explorer and MS Office 2007 using this package. Many unsupported applications can also be made to run using without any issue using this package. Since Crossover is based on free software Wine, a part of the revenue is donated to wine project for its development when you buy any product of crossover.

Crossover is available in three versions.

Crossover Linux
Crossover Mac
Crossover Games.

The first two are self explanatory. Crossover Games are used to run popular windows games on Linux without any issue. You can run games such as GTA 3, San Andreas and GTA 4 on Linux. See the website for list of supported games. The greatest advantage of running games of Linux is that Linux kernel utilizes very less resources leaving most of the resources for the game itself.

PlayonLinux– Playonlinux is the front end of wine. Like Crossover it also utilses the DLLs of Wine and is based on this software. It is free to download and install. Ubuntu users can download and install easily from synaptic manager. Just remeber to include ‘third party softare’ in software sources in update manager. It also supports wide variety of games and applications with minimal or no issue such as GTA sries, Doom 3 , half life , MS office, Dreamweaver, Photoshop etc.

Speed– As already mentioned the above softwares are based on Wine which is not a emulator so there is unnoticeable or no change in speed of execution of the programs.

Negative Impact. With these applications it has become easy to run windows applications on mac and Linux. It reduces the cost by spending money on development of software targeted at windows only. However the major drawback of this is that, it discourages the development of softwares on non windows platform.

Your Choice

Which operating system you use ?

Windows and Linux
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Playonlinux on Ubuntu

External Links

CrossOver: Windows emulator for Mac and Linux computers – CodeWeavers
CrossOver is a Windows emulator for Mac and Linux requiring no Windows license. Be Windows. On Mac or Linux.
Home – PlayOnLinux – Run your Windows applications on Linux easily!
PlayOnLinux vous permettra de jouer vos jeux prfrs sous Linux, et sans difficults.
WineHQ – Run Windows applications on Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac OS X
Open Source Software for running Windows applications on other operating systems.

Can You Use your Mobile as PC?

Can You Use your Mobile as PC?
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Ubuntu going to revolutionize again!


Easiest web apps installation.
Lowest hardware requirement.
Virtual Desktop Support.

The new Ubuntu OS offers much more.

“When the phone is connected to keyboard, monitor and mouse, users get the same experience as they are using a PC” offers the makers of Ubuntu, Mobile phone manufacturers have to support this OS, which is now dominated by giants like google powered android and apple iOS

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What’s in this new OS?

Seamless Navigation

Observers reported, success of the OS depend on the extend of support given by manufacturers in coming month. In countries like India the phones to PC ratio is 10:1, hence this function is very important. Users choose PC to create content and phones to access the content. Using the computing power of the latest chip, users are able to create contents and improve productivity. In Ubuntu powered mobiles, Navigational system cleverly exploits all four edges of the phone screen for scrips that give access to navigation options & apps control and settings and pop up display space. Users need unlock phone everywhere they want to use it or come back to home screen to access contents.

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Enhanced Apps Performance

Web applications based on HTML v5 can be installed on the new OS and can run along with the other apps pre-installed. Softwares made for Ubuntu computers will also work like charm in this phone. The OS could work on even low end hardware because the apps uses the full hardware capabilities. The most interesting part is mobile phone gaining the features of a PC if its connected to a keyboard, monitor and a mouse. This can be done via cables, bluetooth or dock provided with the phone.

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Virtual Desktop Support

As we can see the boom in the mobile technology, devices with powerful quadcore processors will be easily available by the next year.At that time Ubuntu-loaded devices are expected to be the market monopoly. Corporates of India are already showing keen interest exploring such options.

Switching to linux : important points to consider

Switching to linux : important points to consider

window to linux

important points before switching to linux

One of the reason windows is considered as a synonym of the Desktops among non-geeks is its simplicity, everything can be learnt in a jiffy .For most of them nothing even exist except windows but one big problem that frustrate people is its virus catching ability,which causes a great deal of headache to its users in form of system format and squandering money in buying antiviruses(since licencing of windows and closed source are not even a point about which non-geeks ever bothered), and this is how people start looking for other options rather than windows and sometimes boys in engineering try out linux just out of curiousity(I am not sure about girls 😀 ).so here are the points which must be taken in to consideration before switching to linux or you will endup abusing linux and taking step back to windows.

First if you are a gamer Kind of person then never ever fully switch to linux because gaming in linux sucks(for real believe me.).windowsis heaven for you guys.Games are there in linux as well but not as good as in windows.
Try UBUNTU or LINUX MINT first rather than any other flavor of linux because UBUNTU and MINT are simplest and most advanced linux available right now. Ubuntu can even be installed in windows as an application and then try it. it is simplest method to try linux or using the live option while booting from linux dvd.Don’t ever try to start with Arch linux or Redhat etc (if you are not learning linux from some sources or institutions). otherwise you will end up hating linux.
Check out your wireless card (network interface card if it supports linux or not) because without it linux would become a bigtime know about wireless card, run this command on linux terminal(boot using live cd or wubi).just press “ALT+F2” and type in “gnome-terminal” or “konsole” and press ENTER “lspci | grep -i wireless”.if you are lucky as me to have broadcom wireless then here is the guide if not then google regarding your nic card.there are hosts of websites which will surely let you know whether your card supports linux or not.if it doesn’t supports don’t panic buy netgear wg111 v3 which is cheaply available and supports linux. there are other options as well but this was the cheapest one for me.
if you use android phone then you are lucky buddy,no problem no drivers needed to connect android to linux and using tethering internet connection can be established in easy way but if you use some kind of usb modem(e.g. micromax ) then be careful because drivers are not so eaisly available for all of them.(for this point you have to be little bit technical to apply) check out the links below. you will get the help. micromax 3g usb, micromax 353 g wireless modem, BSNL Micromax mmx 300G USB MODEM .
if you do some work with printer then before switching to linux watch out if your printer is supported by linux.visit these 2 pages carefully-: check support for your printer, how to setup a printer in ubuntu.
last but not the least, atleast have some patience to read one or two books about linux,here is the list of books which are fairly simple to read,not reading them won’t harm you in anyway, but reading them can make your interaction with linux more joyful and can read any of them.

The Official Ubuntu Book (6th Edition)

Ubuntu for Non-Geeks: A Pain-Free, Get-Things-Done Guide

officials ubuntu documentations or refer to this blog.

if all the above described things are in your favour then you are ready to switch to linux and beware linux community never believes in spoon feeding so one must always be willing to learn.all your desktop needs will be satisfied by the desktop version of linux and plus you get a solid ,stable, non virus catching, free of cost, operating system.but do consider donating some money to these organizations as they are working for mankind and ofcourse it helps save your lots of money in form of no licencing ,no antivirus,free softwares,no untimely formatting, protection of data so why not donate a little part of it to linux let me know what you think about this article in comments.

Building the Ultimate Budget Linux Tablet part 1

Building the Ultimate Budget Linux Tablet part 1
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I’ve been playing around with Linux systems for some time now, and in recent years have grown very fond of Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distributions. Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Linux Mint and all of the other distributions based on Ubuntu (and there are a ton of them out there) have shown how versatile Linux systems can be. (And speaking of versatile, I’ve even set up some dual boot systems, just so I could continue to use Windows programs that WINE couldn’t handle.) All of this brings me to my latest project, building a convertible tablet running a Linux OS.

For the past few months, I have been using a Dell Vostro 3350 as my travel laptop. This was an upgrade from a Dell Latitude 2100 netbook which hadn’t served my purposes well (I’ll explain later). For the most part, I really liked the Vostro. It had a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a fast 80GB Solid State Drive, and a 13-inch widescreen that straddled the gray line between too-small and too-big screens. Unfortunately, my wife’s archaic Dell Latitude D430 began experiencing problems, and rather than try to repair it, I decided to scrap her laptop and giver her mine. This left me without a laptop, which is where this story really gets started.

Being on a budget, I wanted to keep my costs down. At the same time, I had experienced budget laptops in the past and was often disappointed. This meant buying used, but not just any used. No, what I would want is to take yesterdays premiere laptop, add a little this and that, and have the ultimate laptop… at least the ultimate for my needs.

My Laptop Requirements

The “ultimate laptop” is going to mean different things to different people, all depending what their needs are.

Keyboard Most of my time at the laptop is spent writing. That means I need a comfortable keyboard that isn’t cramped. Keyboard flex can be a major annoyance when writing, so a rigid keyboard was a must. I also needed a track pad that would be easy to manipulate. A touch screen would be nice, but not a necessity.
12 to 13-inch screen I have had everything from netbooks with a tiny 8.9-inch screen to laptops with 17-inch screens. I love big screens (my desktop computer uses a triple monitor display), but since this laptop is for working on the go, I needed to balance screen size with portability. I didn’t want to go too small, as my eyes aren’t what they used to be, and straining to look at a little netbook screen gives me a headache. My Vostro had a 13-inch widescreen, and that has seemed like the perfect compromise between screen size and portability.
Speed When I had the netbook, I was often irritated by how slow it was. Since I mainly used writing software (which isn’t very resource-intensive), I was fine once I started writing. But waiting for everything to boot, running photo software, and anything that required much out of the computer was agonizing. Never again, I had said.

There are a few things that can contribute to a slow computer, and I decided to try and address as many as possible. For starters, I wanted a dual core processor of at least 2 GHz per core. I also wanted plenty of RAM… 4GB at the minimum. And finally, I wanted a fast hard drive. I had been impressed with the speed of the solid state drive (SSD) in my Vostro, so I knew this was something I would want.

Durability While I am not one to abuse my computer equipment, I also don’t want to treat it gingerly either. To that end, I was willing to put up with a little added expense, weight and bulk if it meant a more durable laptop.
Convert to a tablet I read a lot of books, and over the past few years, I have been buying more and more eBooks. At home, I usually read my eBooks on an android tablet. So I have a desktop computer, a laptop computer, and an android tablet. I began to think about how nice it would be to eliminate the tablet and make the laptop do double duty. This would mean a convertible laptop, one with a swiveling or flipping screen for switching to portrait orientation. There are plenty of eBook reading programs available, so on the software end, I would be fine.
Integrated SD card reader This may seem like a small thing, as SD card readers that plug into USB ports are cheap and widely available. They also tend to be rather fragile, and I can’t count the number that I have lost or broke over the years.

Armed with these specs, I began my research. I found several models that were a few years old that seemed to fit my needs, so I headed over to EBay and began to search. I soon found what seemed to be the perfect base for my project… a Fujitsu T5010 that was lacking both hard drive and RAM modules. After viewing the images of the laptop, I decided it looked to be in good condition. I also checked the seller’s EBay feedback, which was over 99%. Satisfied, I purchased the laptop for $100, shipping included. I also purchased 2 4GB DDR3 RAM modules ($46) and a factory refurbished 500GB Seagate hybrid hard drive ($65). This brought my total for the laptop to $211. While this is certainly not cheap, this is a far lower price than what a comparable new laptop would cost me.

I would like to take a moment to mention the hybrid hard drive, as not everyone may be aware of what this is. A hybrid hard drive combines a traditional hard drive with a small amount of flash memory. This allows you to have a relatively large storage capacity (in this case, 500GB) while having read/write speeds nearly equal to that of a solid state drive. The price of hybrid drives is also much lower than that of a solid state drive, making it an excellent way to achieve near solid state performance at a fraction of the cost.

After receiving the laptop, I was happy to see that it was in great shape. The finish was nice and clean, with only an occasional scuff mark; no chips or deep scratches. The keyboard was niche and stiff, with no loose keys. The battery seemed to be in prime shape. All in all, this was a great find.

The Fujitsu T5010

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The excellent keyboard

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My Expenses

Hybrid Hard Drive

The Fujitsu T5010 Specs

The Fujitsu T5010 is a business/student convertible tablet that first hit the market in 2009. When new, these units were priced between $1700 and $2100 depending on options. Sporting a rugged black alloy casing, the T5010 looks and feels very utilitarian. There is a very solid feel to this laptop, and everything feels well made. They keyboard is white and is said to be spill-proof. There is not even the slightest hint of chassis or keyboard flex… a very good thing.

The screen is 13.3-inch that is geared more toward writing and viewing documents than watching widescreen movies, which is perfect for me. Screen reflections are not a problem, and the color rendering is great. The screen is attached to the chassis of the laptop via a central swivel which allows the user to quickly switch from laptop to tablet mode. There is also an included digital pen for use with the touch screen (the touch screen only works with the pen, not your fingers).

The T5010 came with a variety of processor speeds. My particular laptop came with an Intel core 2 duo T9550, operating at 2.66GHz per core. There are two slots for DDR3 RAM modules, which allows for up to 8GB of RAM. An 80GB hard drive was commonly installed, although other hard drive options were available. The hard drive sits in a shock protected bay. The optical drive, which sits in the bay next to the hard drive, can be swapped out for an additional hard drive or an additional battery.

Plenty of ports were included. There are three USB ports, a SD card slot, wired internet, monitor, and mic/headphone jacks, and an express card slot

The back of the Fujitsu, showing the screws that had to be removed

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Installing RAM and Hard Drive

As I said earlier, I purchased this laptop separate from the hard drive and RAM modules, so these would need to be installed before I got the laptop running. I did a little searching on the Internet, and found some hard drive installation instructions. Simply flip the laptop upside-down. The hard drive/RAM area is accessed by removing a large black panel which is held in place by 13 small Phillips-head screws. Remove the screws and the panel lifts out.

The hard drive resides in a caddy. The caddy simply lifts from the laptop, revealing the four screws that mount the hard drive to the caddy. I removed these screws, placed the hard drive in the caddy, and then re-install the four screws. After that, I put the caddy back into the laptop.

The DDR3 modules were ridiculously easy to install. Like many laptops, there is a mounting point on the motherboard for the RAM modules. In the case of the Fujitsu, the RAM mounting point is in the center of the laptop. I simply pressed the RAM module into the mounting point and it snapped in place. I repeated this step for the second module, and then replaced the back cover to the laptop. The entire installation process took less than fifteen minutes.

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Building the Ultimate Budget Linux Tablet part 2

Building the Ultimate Budget Linux Tablet part 2
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This is part 2 to my buildup. If you need to read part 1, click here.

Installing the OS

I had thought long and hard about which Ubuntu-based Linux system I would use. My conclusion was to install Ubuntu 13.04 (64 bit), and then add different desktop environments to find which I liked best for the laptop. (I’m assuming everyone reading is familiar with installing Ubuntu; if not, you can read my article “Lubuntu: The Perfect OS for a Netbook or Older Computer.”) While this was a great idea, it didn’t work out quite the way I planned.

After installing Ubuntu 13.04, I began playing around with the system to make sure everything worked as it should. My biggest concern had been a non-functioning touch screen. Thankfully, the screen instantly recognized the digitizer-pen and functioned as it should. However, I had a problem when switched to tablet mode.

There are four small buttons on the screen bezel of the laptop. These were to control various functions while in tablet mode, including switching the screen from landscape to portrait orientation. None of the buttons worked. I tried creating a keyboard shortcut that would allow me to quickly switch to portrait mode, but this effort failed. So I began an Internet search for a solution. I soon found a piece of software for Linux systems that would allow those four buttons to work. I downloaded the zipped file, and then spent the next four hours trying to get the software to install. It never worked. I finally found a message board post saying that this software didn’t work with any version of Ubuntu after 11.10. Back to the drawing board.

video of the Fujitsu running Xubuntu with Magick Rotation

After another long search, I found another possibility. This was a piece of software known as Magick Rotation, which would automatically sense when the screen was rotated into portrait mode and vice versa. I found a few YouTube videos of people using the software, and it seemed to work well. So I went to the software website to download, and found another snag. The designer had yet to update the software to work with Ubuntu 13.04. Now what?

I decided to re-install Ubuntu, this time using version 12.04, which is the long term release. While I felt like a lot of time had been wasted, I did learn a lesson about the downsides to using the latest operating system release. After the installation of Ubuntu 12.04, I installed Magick Rotation. This did take a bit of time, as this is a zipped file not an installation package, and I had some additional files that needed to be installed before Magick Rotation would function. However, after installation, Magic Rotation worked as promised. I then began to check other functions on the laptop, just be sure everything was working as it should. Everything seemed to work, so now it was time to add a few desktop environments to find what I liked on this convertible laptop.

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Searching for a Desktop Environment

Laptops and tablets have a similar problem… screen space is at a premium. So a top priority for me was to lose as little screen pace as possible. Since there were only a few programs that I used on a regular basis, a large launching are was not needed. There was also some data that I would like displayed on the taskbar. Eventually, I came up with the following criteria:

A single taskbar that would be permanently visible at either the top or bottom of the screen. A second taskbar/launcher could be available at either the top or bottom of the screen, provided it would be hidden when not in use.
I DID NOT want a taskbar/launcher that would reside on either the left or right side of the screen (such as in Unity). I felt that while in portrait mode, this would make the screen too narrow, something I confirmed when trying Unity.
Compatibility with Magick Rotation was a must.
Applets/applications that could be added to the taskbar.
A quick search tool like the Unity lens that would allow me to minimize the number of icons on the taskbar.
An easy to modify desktop because I like to play around with things.

Before explaining the pros and cons of the various desktop environments, I would like to point out that all of the desktops loaded and functioned quickly. It is well known that some desktops such as lxde and xfce perform much faster on low powered computers. However, with my moderately fast processor, 8GB of RAM, and hybrid hard drive, all desktops were equally speedy on the Fujitsu.

If you are running Ubuntu and would like to try out one of these desktop environments, adding them to your computer is easy to do. Rather than repeat myself, you can read installation instructions in my article “Multiple Desktop Environments in Ubuntu.”

Unity is the desktop environment that comes with Ubuntu, so I decided to use this as my “standard” to compare against. While Unity has many critics and was not particularly popular when it was first rolled out, this is not a bad desktop environment. It is not buggy, and you can access everything from the taskbar, either by clicking on an icon or with the unity lens. However, for my purposes, this desktop just did not work. I want the taskbar on the bottom or top, not on the side. I could hide the taskbar and use an aftermarket launcher that I could place where I liked, but Unity still did not offer the level of customization I liked.

Both Gnome 3 and Gnome Shell were instantly disqualified, as Magick Rotation would not function with either. I did a bit of searching on the internet to try and find the culprit, but failed. Since I’ve never been a fan of either of these desktop environments, this was not a huge loss.

I had high hopes for the KDE desktop environment. For the past few months, I have been using KDE as my environment of choice on my office desktop, and I have become pretty familiar with this system. KDE is the ultimate in customization, but has a bit of a learning curve. Once you get past that curve, though, this is a great environment to work in. Unfortunately, KDE had problems with the taskbar (called panels in KDE). I like my taskbars rather large (40 pixel height), and every time I switched from landscape to portrait mode, the taskbar would resize to about half that height. And when I switched back to portrait mode, the taskbar would not switch back. Unable to find a way to fix this, I was forced to abandon KDE.

I encountered the same resizing issue with the Cinnamon desktop.

XFCE came to be my desktop environment of choice for the Fujitsu tablet. I have used XFCE in the past (see my article “Upgrading a Teen’s Laptop with Xubuntu”) and have always enjoyed how easy it is to use and how fast it is, even on low powered hardware. On my Fujitsu, Magick Rotation functioned, and the combination of upper/lower taskbars worked well. I used the upper bar to display data such as date, time, and open programs, and used the lower taskbar to launch programs. I set the lower bar to auto-hide, so it would be out of the way when I didn’t need it.

By this time, I had six different desktop environments installed on my laptop, and I because concerned that I would begin to have issues with Ubuntu. So I decided to once again do a clean install of the operating system, this time using the 64 bit version of Xubuntu (the version of Ubuntu that uses XFCE by default). While I may have just been paranoid (after all, Ubuntu Ultimate distribution comes packaged with several desktop environments), the clean install did give me the piece of mind that I would not be encountering problems a few weeks down the line.

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Installing Additional Software

One of the great things about Linux systems is the multitude of free software available, and the Ubuntu family is no exception. Xubuntu already comes with a pretty extensive collection of software, but wanted to add all of my favorite productivity software, as well as a few tools to tweak the desktop to my liking. Here is a list of the software I added, as well as links to any reviews I have done on that software. Unless otherwise noted, this software is available through the Ubuntu Software Center.

LibreOffice 4.0 The Ubuntu repositories for Ubuntu/Xubuntu 12.04 only provide the ppa for LibreOffice 3.6. To keep updated to the latest stable release, enter this in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa

sudo apt-get update

After adding this repository through the terminal, you can download LibreOffice 4.0, and you will be notified of each new stable release. LibreOffice 4.0 was a major upgrade in compatibility with Microsoft Office; you can read my review here.

Kontact An alternative to MS Outlook, this suite has email, RSS Reader, calendar, contact manager, task manager and more.
Calligra Office This is an office suite intended to replace MS Office for the KDE desktop environment. I recently reviewed Calligra Words, the word processing application (you can read the review here) and was less than impressed. However, I am still testing the other applications, plus I have high hopes that the next release will fix some of the bugs of the current version.
Easy Tether I use this application to tether my android phone to my laptop, allowing me to use my phone for internet service. If you have an android phone, this app is available through the Google play store.
7Zip Indispensable for opening zipped files
Dropbox Free cloud storage application
Wine and PlayOnLinux Need to run a windows program on Linux? These applications allow you to do just that (See my article “Adding Microsoft Office to Ubuntu”)
Opera I’ve always had a soft spot for this web browser; you can get it here.
Chrome or Chromium Very fast full featured web browsers. Chromium is the open sourced version and is available through the software center. Chrome is the commercial version, and is available here.
Scrivener hat I consider to be the ultimate writing software for novelists. You can read my review here.
Inkscape An open sourced alternative to Adobe Illustrator
DigiKam An open sourced alternative to Adobe Lightroom for photos
MS Office Although I usually use AbiWord (see my review here) or LibreOffice, sometimes work demands that I use MS Office. I installed MS Office 2007 using PlayOnLinux.
Synapse This app is great for finding programs, files or whatever you need. Think of it as an alternative to the Unity Lens
Shutter A screenshot application
Calibre Manage your eBooks
FBReader An eBook reader

Of course, everyone’s needs are different, so this software list wouldn’t be right for everyone. I mainly use my laptop to write with, read eBooks, and surf the web, so my applications reflect those needs.

The stock desktop

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Tweaking Xubuntu

In stock form, Xubuntu is pretty bland looking, not to mention it is not nearly as functional as it could be. So my goal was twofold. First, allow me to access my commonly used programs and needed information. Secondly, as much as I prize functionality, I wanted to dress up the interface.

There are tons of themes available for Ubuntu-based desktops, and several are available right from the Software Center. The same can be said of icons. There are also tons of places on the web where you can download icons and themes for free. If you want to go the easy route, find some icons and themes that have repositories so you can add the icons and themes through the Software Center. A good site for some of these repositories is WEB UPD8.

Desktop wallpapers are available all over the web. Another option is personal photographs. I like to change my wallpapers often, so I downloaded about twenty different wallpapers for my desktop. If you would like to automatically change wallpapers, there is an application called DesktopNova, available through the software center. I have never used it myself, but I know a few people who do.

Xubuntu allows you to add items to the panels. This can be launchers for various programs, indicators for things like CPU usage, mail watchers, or even calendars. Simply right click on the desired panel and select “add new item.” You can also modify the panels by selecting “panel preferences.” Here you can change things like panel width and height, the order of the items, and select if the panel will auto-hide or not.

If you look at the below photo, you will see my desktop after I completed my tweaks.

My tweaked Desktop

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Desktop showing popup launcher

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A closeup of the popup launcher

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The desktop theme I am currently using is Xfce-smooth; the icon them is Faenza. As you may have guessed from my wallpaper, I’m a country boy… grew up in farm country. My top panel is mostly indicators. I have a weather indicator (click on it and you get a full 5-day forecast), time and date (click on it for a full calendar), then battery and internet indicators. I also have a little app that minimizes all open windows when clicked. The only real “launcher” I have on the top panel is for Shutter, a screenshot app.

My bottom panel is where I launch my most commonly used applications from. I have this panel set to auto-hide to save on screen space. To save even more space, I have set each of my launchers, to launch several related programs. For example, I have several web browsers to choose from. If I click on the side arrow of the Google Chrome icon, a pop-up menu will appear and I can choose from which browser I want. I have also added a launcher for synapse, which allows me to find all of my less used programs.

Be sure to check out some of my other hubs!

Lotus Symphony Review
My review of the free Lotus Symphony office suite
Publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace.
What follows is my experience publishing my novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace
I’ve been looking at a replacement for Google reader and I think I found it in Feedly. Feedly is available both in browser and mobile formats.

Fujitsu Laptop Performance

So how does the laptop perform? One word… AWESOME! Boot time is pretty fast; ten seconds from a cold start. All of my programs launch fast, and there is never any sign of lag. I’ve had no problems thus far with glitches or crashes, and the keyboard is nearly as good as my desktop’s. Reading eBooks while in tablet mode is great; reading from a 13-inch screen is so much nicer than the little screen on my android. The one minor annoyance I have noticed is with the latch. Because the screen swivels, you have to get the alignment just right for it to latch, and sometimes I fumble with it for a few moments to get it to latch. But overall, I love the setup I have created.

I hope you have enjoyed this hub and it has given you some idea of your own. Feel free to leave comments below.

Lubuntu: the perfect OS for a netbook or older computer

Lubuntu: the perfect OS for a netbook or older computer
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You may have read my article titled “Upgrade your netbook with Ubuntu” in which I discussed removing windows from my netbook and replacing it with Ubuntu…a free Linux operating system (or OS). While Ubuntu was a big improvement over Windows, the computer did not run as fast as I would have liked. From the time you turned on the computer, it took nearly three minutes before the computer was ready to run an application. Worse yet, when pressing the icon for an application, it felt as if an eternity had passed before that application was ready to go. So I decided to give Lubuntu a try.

What are Ubuntu and Lubuntu?

Ubuntu is an open source operating system that performs the same function on your computer as Windows (or MAC OS if you are a MAC user). . It is available both free and with community/professional support. There is no extra fee for an enterprise or professional version, and new releases are available about every eighteen months. The current version, 12.04 LTS, is supported for the next five years, even as new versions roll out. Included with Ubuntu is a variety of software including games, internet browsers, image software, and an office suite.

You can think of Lubuntu as Ubuntu’s light and nimble little brother. The OS is based on Ubuntu, but with speed and efficiency as the primary goal. Instead of Ubuntu’s unity interface, which is a rather resource intensive interface, Lubuntu uses LXDE. LXDE is an extremely fast performing and energy saving desktop interface, designed specifically for netbooks and low power devices. The applications provided with Lubuntu are lightweight as well. For example, instead of the LibreOffice suite, it comes with the AbiWord word processor.

Switching from Ubuntu to Lubuntu

If you already have Ubuntu on your computer, switching to Lubuntu is very simple. Simply open up your terminal application and type the following:

sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

This will switch the interface to LXDE, which is the main difference between the two operating systems. The other option is to perform a fresh install; this is also the method to use if you are currently running windows and want to switch to Lubuntu.

Begin by downloading the software from the Lubuntu site and install it on a thumb drive. Since this is a disk image file, you will need a USB installer. I used the program LinuxLive USB creator (It is a free program) to move the program to the thumb drive. After creating your “boot disk thumb drive”, insert the thumb drive into the computer and boot from the thumb drive. To do this, you will need to change the boot order on your computer. When you first turn your computer on, watch for the screen that gives instructions on how to run the setup; on my netbook, you hit F12. From here, you can specify to boot from the USB. Select USB and exit the screen.

From this point, the Lubuntu installation begins. You will be asked if you want to replace your current OS or install alongside it. (I replaced my old OS.) You will also be advised that your computer should have a wired (not wireless) internet connection during the install, as the wireless won’t work during the install. It does take some time for Lubuntu to set up your computer, so be patient. After the installation, the computer will reboot and Lubuntu is ready to go.

My Results

The netbook I used is a Dell latitude 2100, which has 1GB of RAM and an Intel ATOM processor (single core)…pretty standard for a netbook. It had windows 7 installed when I purchased the netbook, which loaded slow and had a tendency to bog down. I had considered switching to Windows XP, but decided to go with Ubuntu instead. After seeing that Ubuntu still wasn’t as fast as I would have liked, I made the switch to Lubuntu.

On my netbook, Ubuntu took approximately one minute, fifteen seconds to boot. Lubuntu took a mere fifteen seconds…a huge improvement. In addition, there was no lag when clicking an application icon; the application started nearly immediately. As far as the interface, it is simple and easy to use, and is similar to Windows XP…except without all of the bugs and glitches. I also added the LibreOffice suite, which gave me all the office software I would need.

I was not entirely happy with the look of the interface. However, there are tons of backgrounds, themes, and icons available for Lubuntu (and Ubuntu as well). So I did a little searching on the net and found a theme and background that I was happy with. Below is a screenshot of what I came up with.

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The Lubuntu interface after I added a custom theme and background

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please feel free to leave comments below, and be sure to check out my other articles!


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One of the great advantages of Linux over Windows is the great variety of customization options. With Windows, you have one option… whatever version of Windows is in current production. Sure, you can use an older Windows system, but that may mean no support, lack of drivers, or feature that are not compatible with the latest computers.

Linux is a completely different animal. Not only are there different types of operating systems (Ubuntu, Debian, Arch…), but there are also a great variety of desktop environments available. From slim and sleek to highly customizable and everything in between, there is a desktop for everyone. But what is the right desktop environment for you?

With Linux, there is no reason to limit yourself to just one desktop environment. It is not only possible to add multiple desktops, it is relatively easy to do. Once you have added multiple desktops, you will simply select your preferred desktop from the startup screen before logging in.

Why would you want multiple desktops on the same computer? Perhaps you just want to try out several to find your favorite. Or maybe this is the family computer, and everyone has a different preference in desktop environments. Perhaps you like different desktops for different situations.

In this article, I will briefly discuss some of the more popular desktop environments available. I will also include the instructions to add that desktop environment to Ubuntu (currently in version 13.04), which is the most commonly used Linux system.

The Unity Desktop

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Unity is the default desktop environment in Ubuntu, so no special steps are required to get this one. It is recognizable at once due to its vertical task bar on the left hand side. When Unity first came on the scene, it received a lot of mixed reviews. Many didn’t like how different it was from previous desktops. And the initial builds of Unity were buggy, slow to perform, and hogged computer resources. Most of those problems have been fixed, however, and Unity in Ubuntu 13.04 is the best ever.

The idea behind Unity was to integrate all of your applications into a simple touch-ready environment. (As you may or may not know, Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, is pushing to move Ubuntu to phones, tablets, and televisions. Integrating Ubuntu into these other devices was part of the drive for Unity.) The vertical task bar gives the user access to every application on the computer, while at the same time conserving vertical screen space.

Unity is not a bad system, but it is like Windows in that it is not very customizable. You can change backgrounds, a few colors, download some new icons, change placement of icons on the taskbar, and that is about it. Still, it is a pretty good desktop environment for someone new to Ubuntu.

The LXDE Desktop

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Need a lightweight, fast loading desktop environment? Then look no further… LXDE is your ticket. This is a great desktop for an older computer or a low powered netbook, as it uses very little resources. (Some time ago, I wrote a hub about using this desktop on a netbook. If you wish to read about the experience, click here.) It’s not exactly the prettiest desktop to look at, but if you’re someone who values simple function, this is a great desktop environment. This is the standard desktop for Lubuntu, but if you wish to add this environment to Ubuntu, open the terminal and type in the following command:

sudo apt-get install lxde

After typing the command, press enter and you will be prompted for your password. Enter the password, press enter, and wait for the package to load. After the installation, you will need to reboot your computer. Once you reboot, you will have the option of picking your desktop of choice at the login screen, making this system very easy to customize

The XFCE desktop

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XFCE is another fast and light desktop, although it is not as light as LXDE. However, I think it is much more visually appealing and user friendly. This desktop used to be the no-choice alternative to KDE and Gnome. And for some time, those dissatisfied with the early versions of Unity came streaming in the doors of XFCE. In recent years, XFCE has seen a lot of improvement, and has become a unique and versatile desktop environment.

One relatively weak side of XFCE is that it comes bundled with so-called lightweight programs that are not as well-known or useful as some of the mainstream solutions, which can cause alienation with common users, although there is nothing to stop you from using the exact same programs on this desktop environment. Because of this, XFCE is definitely gaining in practicality and popularity.

XFCE comes installed with a dock-like panel at the bottom of the screen (you can move the panel to other places on the screen). You can place icons for your most commonly used applications in this panel for quick access, or completely hide the panel if you wish. There are also a wide variety of plugins for XFCE, making it very easy to tweak and modify.

XFCE is the standard desktop environment for Xubuntu (I recently wrote a hub about using this desktop environment on my stepdaughter’s laptop; you can read about it here.) If you wish to add XFCE to Ubuntu, open the terminal and type in the following command:

sudo apt-get install xfce4

Follow the same procedure I gave for LXDE, and you will soon have XFCE added to your computer.

The Cinnamon Desktop

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Cinnamon is the default desktop environment for Linux Mint, and was developed due to their dissatisfaction with Gnome 3. I gave this a try not long ago, and was really impressed. It is quite stable and light of resources, although not as light as either XFCE or LXDE.

For someone coming from a Windows desktop, this is a good choice as the feel and layout is very similar. In stock form, it is very simple to look at. However, there are tons of applets (widgets) available for this desktop, making it easy to tweak to your liking. To get this desktop up and running, open the terminal and type in the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/Cinnamon-stable

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install Cinnamon

The Gnome Desktop

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Gnome 3

The Gnome 3 desktop was designed to be all about simplicity and ease of use. Unfortunately, I feel the developers tried to make things so simple that it is now difficult to use. Derived from an eelier version of Gnome (Gnome 2), Gnome 3 was envisioned to bridge the gap between the keyboard and mouse platform to the touch screen generation. Unfortunately, the result was a desktop that was extremely controversial, causing many spinoffs and alternative solutions.

As you may have guessed, I’m not a big fan of Gnome 3. However, one of the features of this desktop that I do like is the activities overview. Everything is right in front of you, with no hunting for icons or trying to figure out how to start a certain application. My desktop has a touch screen, and I can say that the activities overview is great for use with a touch screen.

Gnome is developed by the Gnome community, which is a diverse group of international contributors. Because of this community, there are tons of add-ons, widgets, icons and themes to customize Gnome 3. And since Gnome has such a huge following, there is plenty of information on the web, from tips and trick to major customization.

Gnome is actually available through the Ubuntu Software Center, so installation is easy. Just open the center and do a search for gnome.

One word of warning: Cinnamon is derived from Gnome, and I have heard that you can’t have both installed on the same computer. I haven’t tried installing both at the same time, but just to be safe, I wouldn’t recommend installing both.

The KDE Desktop

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The KDE desktop

I recently made the change to the KDE desktop, and I am still wowed by its awesomeness. If you like the idea of the most flexible, most customizable desktop, this is the environment for you. I will warn you up front that there is quite a learning curve with KDE, as it definitely marches to its own drummer. However, once you get the hang of KDE, you will love the ability to tweak and modify everything. (I am currently working on a tutorial on how to tweak KDE, so keep your eye out for it.)

Like Gnome, KDE is developed by an international community. In addition to developing the KDE desktop, the community has developed a set of applications that not only function on the KDE desktop, but can also be used with other Linux distributions as well. Some of these include the Calligre Office Suite, digKam, and the Rekonq internet browser.

To install KDE, open the terminal and type in the following:

sudo apt-get install KDE-full

Here are some other hubs you may enjoy!

I recently added Microsoft Office to my Linux system. What follows is a tutorial of how I did it.
What follows is my review of Abiword, a free multi-platform word processor.
Publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace.
What follows is my experience publishing my novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are lots of different flavors of desktop environments for Linux systems, and in this article we have just scotched the surface of what is available. However, what I have described here does give you a variety of systems to try. From lightweight to robust, I think there is a desktop environment for everyone.

I hope you have enjoyed this hub. What is your favorite desktop? Feel free to comment below.