Comic Books, Linux and KDE 4

Sometimes I read comic books.  I would hope that some of you do as well.  I collected the paper version of comic books when I was a kid (Mostly Superman and Spiderman) and I’ve graduated up to the digital version now.  Comic books in digital format usually use the .cbz or .cbr file extension.  To read these in Windows or on my Linux desktop (I was running XFCE for the year or so) I had to use a specialized application…a comic reader…to do this.

The program I used in Linux was called Comix and it did a great job when I used XFCE.  I know you can also use Evince and I’m sure it does every bit a good job as Comix does.  Both are GTK applications though.  Since I now use KDE 4 on my primary workstation, I wanted to see if there was a Qt application that I could use and I was very disappointed when I didn’t find any.  So, there I was with comics in my Home Directory collecting dust with nothing preferable (read: Qt based) to open them up to read them.  I double clicked on one of them in frustration….and I was surprised when it opened right up.

Okular, the do-it-all reader for KDE4 opens up every comic book I throw at it.  I was saved…rather, my comic collection was saved.  Very handy that the KDE4 devs put in such a great tool to open so many formats.  So if you’re looking for something that can handle your comic collection, look no further than Okular which comes preinstalled with most KDE4 based distributions.

Okular with PDF

Laptop Multimedia Keys and PCLinuxOS 2009

I installed PCLinuxOS 2009 recently on a Dell D630 Latitude and was disappointed to see that I couldn’t get the hardware volume (up/down/mute) buttons didn’t work out of the box.  I thought a bit about kmilo, a program that was previously used for laptop buttons (thinkpad buttons though) and I searched around a bit inside the KDE Control Center for keyboard shortcuts to see if I could assign the keys manually.  However, I couldn’t find any volume setting inside this menu.

Then, it hit me, I had remembered seeing volume settings before…inside kmix; there is an area for assigning global shortcuts for volume and mute!  This should work for anyone running KDE 3.5.8 and above (I think).  Left click on Kmix in your tray and choose the mixer button.  From there, choose Settings >> Configure Global Shortcuts.  Now assign the volume up, down, and mute keys manually by clicking in the blank and pressing the hardware button.  This should work for a majority of people out there.  For me though, this didn’t work.  When pressing the keys, nothing happened.  I thought I was doomed.

I researched a bit more and found that installing a program called keytouch would allow me to, at the very least, program my keyboard in any way I wanted to program it.  I opened Synaptic and installed keytouch and keytouch-editor.  After install, I went to Kmenu >> System >> Configuration >> Hardware >> Keytouch.  It prompted me to choose my keyboard.  Since it didn’t have the Dell D630, I chose the closest thing which was the Dell D800.  I closed the application and now the volume buttons and mute button works!  Keytouch also has the ability to manually edit and also to import keytouch ‘schemas’ to give maximum flexibility.  Hopefully, this helps some of you out there that cannot get your multimedia keys working in PCLinuxOS and KDE to work!

Autostart Apps in PCLinuxOS 2007 (KDE)

There’s a question that is often asked via IRC on freenode #pclinuxos-support. Many people want to know how to get programs to startup immediately upon login.

Now there are two ways to do this…kind of. Actually, there is only one way to get programs to autostart but there is another way you can have programs startup when you login…let’s look at both of them.

The First Way

First, go to the PC Menu (or kmenu) >> Run Command >> konqueror –profile filemanagement

When Konqueror opens, navigate to /home/user/.kde/autostart (replace user with your login name). Now minimize that window…we’ll come back to it later. Next up, click on the My Computer icon on your desktop (or for other users, open up Konqueror and put the following in the addressbar: system:/). When that opens, click on applications and minimize the window and place it side by side with the previously opened window.

Hieronymus has posted a helpful tip that simplifies the process above.  After opening up Konqueror, use the Go Menu and click the entry for “autostart” which will take you directly to the correct folder for the current logged in user.  Thanks Hieronymus for the tip!  Visit their homepage here.

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Going Fishing for a WinSCP Replacement?

So you’ve got insert_linux_distro_name_here installed and you’re ready to get started with your standard computing day. You’ve only recently converted to this Linux thing. You know enough about Linux to install it and have it up and running for your main desktop. You’ve slowly begun easing yourself into this new Linux role by replacing the applications you used in Windows with free and open source ones installed or installable on Linux.

Today, your mission is to replace WinSCP. You scan through your distro repositories and ask questions in various forums looking for that WinSCP replacement. Sound familiar? It should. I’ve seen this question in many forums and have also seen in it many mailing lists. In fact, I’ve asked this very question myself. WinSCP was a program I had been using for years in Windows. I found it to be one of the best free programs available for the Windows platform for SFTP and SSH connections and file transfers.

The interesting part is that I didn’t need to ask these question. Had I searched for the right terms like “SCP Client Linux” (instead of googling “winscp replacement linux”) I would have found that Linux has a very good replacement in FISH. So if you are searching for a WinSCP replacement after converting into this Linux thing…please read on. You’ll be shocked and amazed that Windows doesn’t have some new fandangled technology like this :p Not only has fish simplified my server administration tasks…it’s revolutionized the way I manage my information on the 5 websites I have. To top it off, it’s built into the Konqueror file manager in KDE which is my primary desktop.

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KDE Shortcut Keys

Most people know shortcuts in Windows but neglect to find out shortcuts in KDE when they make the switch to Linux. So, if you have a shortcut in KDE that isn’t covered here…please comment it so that others can benefit from your knowledge! PS: Some of these might not work with your version of KDE…just test them out and see if they do!

Brings up a “Run Command” prompt

Alt-Print and Cntrl-Print
Take a screenshot. You have to paste it from your clipboard

Alt-Esc or Control-Esc
Shows the KDE session manager, from which you can switch to a specific application or log out of KDE.

Switch to a specific desktop.

Alt-Tab or Alt-Shift-Tab
Cycle through your windows.

Ctrl-Tab or Ctrl-Shift-Tab
Cycle through your desktops.

Close the current active window.

Window destroyer (every window you click on will be destroyed).

For your Window Menu

This exits KDE but doesn’t save your settings or work.

Ctrl-Alt-Numpad +
Cycles to the next screen resolution available.

Ctrl-Alt-Numpad –
Cycles to the previous screen resolution available.

Hope these help you out…please post any you might have that are helpful and I’ll add them to the list with credits. Thanks again for reading.

Schedule Tasks in Linux with Ease – Kcron

When I first started using Linux, one of the most daunting tasks was creating crontabs to automate processes. For example, one might want to rotate apache logs (done automatically now by most distros) or perhaps pull info out of those logs, paste them to a file, and send said file to the webmaster. Now this wouldn’t be feasible to do by hand daily and that is where crontabs come in. Just like scheduled tasks in Windows, crontabs allow you to run a process at a given time. Unlike Windows though, you have ultimate control over the task. Nowadays, things are much easier by using a GUI such as Webmin, pycron, or Crontooie (if you’re a MAC user). The great thing is that KDE contains a handy tool to create and manage your Crontabs. You can disable or enable them straight from an easy to understand and control GUI. Today, we’re going to take a look at how to setup a simple crontab using Kcron.

Let’s start off by seeing if the cron daemon is even running on your system. Open up a Konsole or Shell and type the following:

ps aux | grep crond

If there is output similar to that in the screenshot, we’re in business because the cron daemon is running. If not, restart cron by typing: ./usr/sbin/crond (may vary by your distro…if you need help, let me know in comments section).

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