Comic Books, Linux and KDE 4

Okular

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
Okular with PDF

Hate KDE4? Ignorance Is Probably the Culprit

Let’s bust some myths today because a majority of KDE 4 haters out there have the same reasons for hating it.  I’m pretty sick of seeing posts and news articles about “why I don’t like KDE 4″ and then seeing that the real reason the person is upset is because they don’t spend an extra few moments trying to figure things out…aka lazy and ignorant.

KDE 4 was NOT feature complete when it came out in the 4.0 version.  It IS feature complete (in my opinion) with the 4.2 and 4.3 versions.

Ignorant Reason #1 – I hate Dolphin and I Can’t Have Konqueror Anymore

filemanagerWrong, you can use Konqueror.  You don’t have to use Dolphin, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of useful stuff.  Tell you what, now that you know that you don’t have to use Dolphin, why not use KDE 4 and give Dolphin a try every so often…you can still use Konqueror in the meantime and now that you know you can, you don’t have to go around trumpeting that you can’t to everyone who will listen and saying what a piece of crap it is.  Forget that you’ll lose nepomuk and the semantic desktop by dismissing dolphin.  Don’t know what that is?  Let me google that for you…

I sure hope this solves many peoples beef with KDE 4 right out of the gate because this is one of the reasons I find all over the web.  I really think the problem is the lethargic attitude that prevails from die hard KDE 3 fans.  Honestly guys, give Dolphin a try…it’s really a pretty decent file manager and is light years ahead of any other DE file manager.

Ignorant Reason #2 – I Can’t Have Folders or Files on the Desktop Anymore

desktopsettingsWrong.  Right click on the desktop and choose “Desktop Settings”.  Select the drop down menu “Type” and select “Folder View”.  Your desktop now has folders, icons, and all other such things that you may want to clutter it with.

If you want to switch back to NOT using the folders and instead use widgets…right click on the desktop and choose “Folder View Settings” >> Select Type >> Desktop.

To top it off, if you select “Folder View”, the folders and icons act exactly like you would expect them to in KDE 3.  Not only can you select to show your desktop folders…but you can even show a folder like /home as your default desktop…show any folder you have access to, it’s up to you.  Yay right?  I give it a golf clap.  Let’s continue thinking out of the box and bust a few more myths.

Ignorant Reason #3 – I Can’t Move My Panel to the Top, Right, or Left.

panelmoveWrong.  Click the settings icon on the right hand side of your panel (it looks like a comma on the far right side of the panel).  The settings area pops open.  On that bar is something called “Screen Edge”.  Now, it seems pretty self explanatory that when you hover over the top of it, it gives you the 4 arrow icon that means you can drag and drop the panel wherever you want to…and being named “screen edge” seems to imply “which screen edge…left, right, bottom, or top…do I want this thing to appear on”.  Then again, I can see how screen edge can confuse people when you open the settings of a panel that resides on the screen edge.  Ok, maybe I can’t.  Well, at least you know you can move your panel around right?  Golf clap again?  Who plays golf anyway?

Ignorant Reason #4 – I Can’t Resize Folders and Files in Dolphin

Wrong again.  Are you sensing a pattern yet?  Open Dolphin, go to the directory where you want to increase the folder size.  Hold the control key down…now roll your mouse wheel and be amazed as the folder size increases.  Invest all your money in Yet Another Linux Blog stock and move to Nicaragua.  Golf clap on your way to expedia.com for purchasing tickets.

Ignorant Reason #5 – I Like to Use My Own Color Schemes…I Can’t Do That in KDE4.

systemsettings
System Settings

KDE4 absolutely allows you to create your own color schemes.  It really helps to look around inside the system settings tool.  Go to your Kmenu >> System >> System Settings.  Once there, look for Appearance.  You can also use the top search

appearancecolors
Appearance Colors

bar to look for any term…so if you were to type “color” there, you’d see that Appearance & Display are returned.

Click on Appearance and you’re taken into a wonderful world of color and granular control of said color.  Change anything you’d like….go crazy.  I hear pink is the new green…or is it green that was the new pink?  Whatever.  The only limits are your imagination.  For those without imagination.

Ignorant Reason #6 – The Default Menu is Cludgy and Different and I Can’t Find Anything in KDE4

Now there is no right or wrong here…you could be right depending on who you talk to.  However, the nice part about KDE4 is that they include the previous menu for you.  Right click the Kmenu and choose “Switch to Classic Menu Style”.  Now your menu is the exact same as it would be in KDE 3.5.10.  Please remember that answers are out there…you just have to search for them.

Closing the Door on Myths

Hopefully, this closes the door on many misconceptions helps people who are ignorant to the leaps and bounds that KDE4 has made just in the past few months.  I’ve grown very tired of journalists and bloggers taking swipes at KDE4 and spreading misinformation about it.  If you have any questions about how to do something in KDE4, please leave a comment below and let’s work together in finding a solution.

Convert Audio with Ease in KDE

I ripped a couple of CD’s for my son this evening. In the process, I decided to setup Kalarm and Korganizer on his computer so that he could set alarms to remind him to do various chores around the house. While doing all of this, I needed a .wav file so that he could use a song for his alarm. Of course, he wanted one of the songs I had just ripped from his CD. Since I had ripped his songs to .ogg format, I had to investigate which program could convert from .ogg to .wav this the easiest in KDE.

I’ve not used many of the whiz bang functions of KDE and desktop Linux…I’ve been more of a browser, mail, and RSS type of guy for many years. Now that I’ve been using Linux at work and at home, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to figure out how to do things that I’ve never done before. In this case, convert audio to .wav, .ogg, or .mp3 with ease. There is a tool called audiokonverter available in PCLinuxOS 2007 repositories that makes this a snap.

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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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PCLinuxOS 2007, USR5411 MaxG Wireless Primer

So you’ve just installed PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 on your laptop and your wireless card is detected! Finally, a distro gets it right! However, you’re not too sure how to proceed next…do you manage the device through the PCLinuxOS Control Center? Do you start another program and work that way? Do you use KDE’s built in applet to monitor things? What’s next?

This is something that is often expressed in the forums at pclinuxos.com and something anyone associated with this fine distribution is glad to see…that is working wireless. However, as noted above, people often wonder how to control their wireless device and how to move in and out of various different environments. I’d like to share how I do wireless on my Thinkpad a22m.

I have a US Robotics 5411 MaxG PCMCIA card for my laptop. PCLinuxOS 2007 detects it out of the box but doesn’t install it by default. The reason for this is that PCLinuxOS doesn’t assume to know how you want to install it…either using the built into the kernel support for the broadcom wireless chip or ndiswrapper…which is a program that allows Windows drivers for wireless to be used in Linux. I elected to go with Ndiswrapper since I had some problems with the broadcom driver in PCLinuxOS. Ndiswrapper is installed by default in PCLinuxOS which makes this process even easier…but the process still requires some forethought and I’ll share with you what I did to make this process go smoothly and easily.

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Dealing with Runaway Processes

Have you ever been using your Linux distro and suddenly found a program won’t close? It’s frustrating when an application hangs. In Windows, one could right click on the taskbar and choose “Task Manager” and kill the hanging process (which doesn’t always work BTW). In Linux, you can also kill these hanging processes.

First, if you’re using KDE press Control-Escape. This will give all processes in a handy window called the KDE System Guard. Clicking the column heading for “System %” so the arrow on it appears facing up will sort the processes from highest system percentage to lowest. Find the process that seems to be hogging up all the resources (or if you know the name of the process, highlight that) and then hit the kill button. Your process should end it’s routines and exit.

You can also check out which program is hogging up your virtual memory with its process which can also slow things up. Clicking on the column “VmSize” and sorting largest to smallest will allow you to see this and select which process to kill. I often elect to select only user processes using the drop down menu at the top right hand corner of the KDE System Guard. Doing this filters out all system files and shows any hanging applications that are initiated by the user (which is often what is hanging for me).

Don’t worry if you see the same process more than once (for example, Apache or php may have multiple entries if you run a webserver…this is normal). If you’re using Gnome, you’ll either have to use the console method I explain below or launch the Gnome System Manager to get things rolling. Since I don’t use Gnome, I won’t cover the Gnome System Manager here.

Another way you can do things…especially if all Xwindows (KDE, Gnome, Fluxbox, etc) have frozen or are sluggish is to drop to a console. You can do this by killing the Xserver or by dropping to a console. You can press Alt-F2 or Alt-F3 and get directly to a console. Login as root. Now let’s take a look and see what processes are hogging up resources. Kill the Xserver and drop to a console by hitting Control-Alt-Backspace. For our purposes, I’ll assume you’ve made it to the console now.

There’s a quick console way of finding exactly what is consuming the most of your PC as far as processes are concerned. Using the the ‘top’ command will display those processes that are beasts and allow you to take note of them. Look for the process taking up the most CPU% (which should appear at the ‘top’ of your ‘top’ output). Pay specific attention to the PID column of that high CPU% item and make a note of it. This is the process ID number and every program running on a Linux box is assigned one by the Kernel. We’ve found the one making problems for us and have recorded the PID so let’s slay it. Hit Control-C to stop the top command and then type:

kill PID

Where PID is the process ID number you made a note of before. You may not get confirmation that the task has been immediately killed so let’s see if it is still running. We may not get the information we need by using top again since it is mainly for finding the higher consuming processes aka runaways. Instead, let’s use the ps command.

ps aux | more

This command outputs all processes in a nice way…using the | and ‘more’ command allows you to paginate the output so that if there are a TON of processes, you can use the spacebar or arrow keys to page down (you can do that with any command too BTW). Now look for that PID that we just killed in the second column and see if it is there. You could also get creative and use:

 ps aux | grep PID

Where PID is once again the PID you killed. The grep command will search through the results and echo back to you any matching entries it finds. If you didn’t find anything and couldn’t match your PID to that of any displayed in your ps aux command, you just successfully killed that beastly process. As always, for more information, please see the man pages (e.g. man ps or man top).

Hopefully, this allows you to more efficiently manage your processes…runaway or normal. If I’ve printed an error, please let me know via the comments below or if there is a more efficient way of doing things let me know there as well…I’m always open to improvement.

UPDATE: Please checkout the comments section for a few more tips on killing processes!

UPDATE2:  Reader Scott M writes in the comments below “You don’t have to use the PID. You can use the -f option.  e.g. if there are multiple instance of SomeProgram, you can kill them all with one command:

pkill -9 -f SomeProgram”  Thanks Scott!