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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Make Klipper Work FOR you

“Klipper is the KDE clipboard utility. It stores clipboard history, and allows you to link clipboard contents to application actions.” That’s the common explanation you get from most people and online manuals when seeking information about Klipper. But what else can Klipper do? Is that ALL it does? Can we empower it to be what cut and past is in Windows? (ducks the possible flames) Perhaps. Grab a pen and paper Klip…let’s see what this thing can do. Please note that this article is written with the assumption that you are using KDE 3.4 or higher.

In most KDE default KDE desktops on the major distros, you find this little icon:

That icon is Klipper, your clipboard tool. A clipboard is just what it sounds like…a place where you can clip text to be used at a later date. I wanted to take a look at where Klipper came from…so I went into the ‘about Klipper’ menu and emailed a couple of developers. A few actually responded quelling the myth that developers are unreachable by the general public. Carsten Pfeiffer, a previous developer, responded about the history of Klipper:

“It was started long time ago by Andrew Stanley-Jones, for storing a history of clipboard entries. I took over maintainership and added those annoying popups, that appeared, for example when you selected a URL in a terminal or somewhere else. The popup allowed you to do something with the URL, like opening it in Konqueror or Mozilla.

More generally speaking, the feature allowed you to configure custom “actions” to execute when something specific, described with a regular expression was put into the clipboard (see klipper’s Preferences dialog).

Later, I attempted to make klipper hide X11’s IMNSHO broken concept of “Selection” and “Clipboard”, but I didn’t really accomplish that.

Later, Lubos Lunak worked hard on fixing Qt’s clipboard implementation and making klipper play well with it and now I’m very happy that Esben is taking care of it.”

I contacted Esben in an attempt to get some inside information about where Klipper might go in the future (integration into KDE-core perhaps? or other such directions). He was able to provide a few possible directions Klipper may go:

“My vision of Klipper is mostly as a clipboard history application… the actions I merely maintain for those that uses them. Thus the features I have implemented so far has centered on the history: Expanding the history (really making the history scalable), support for images (this was sort of a test, I want to support abitrary mime types in history) and search-as-you type support.”

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Get in the mix, the Kmix…

What is all this K stuff? That’s often the question when people that have never used Linux and KDE ask when logging in to the environment for the first time. The K naming convention is often portrayed as confusing and cheesy, lacking professionalism. Despite these sentiments and harsh feelings, KDE still flexes its muscle as the desktop of choice for most Linux users. For those of you who have just gotten your start in Linux and perhaps for some of you that just haven’t had the time to investigate application Kxxx in KDE, Yet Another Linux Blog seeks to Ktantalize your KDE Ktastebuds and Ksupplement your Knowledge.

This week’s application is one that is often the first that shows itself when KDE initializes at login. A pop up window greets you with a bunch of adjustable sliders…that’s right, it’s Kmix.

NOTE: You can open up Kmix differently in each distribution. It is usually easy to find and is named ‘Sound Mixer’ or ‘Kmix’ by most distributions of Linux. In Kubuntu, it is located under the ‘Multimedia’ section of the Kmenu.

What is Kmix?

Kmix is pretty much what it sounds like. K for KDE and Mix for Mixer. Kmix is the default sound mixing program for KDE. It allows you to control your soundcard. It is used and supported by ALSA (The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) driver, HP-UX, Solaris, Irix, and all BSD varieties of operating systems. So Kmix allows you to control the volumes, panning(moving sound to the right or left), and which sound card you’d like to have enabled. Y

Multiple Sound Cards? What For?

Many people have the need for two sound cards. For instance, they may want to save music or sound effects at a higher quality and one of their soundcards will do this. Kmix provides a quick and easy way to shift back and forth between the cards and allows access to settings for each. You can select sound cards by toggling the pull down menu under “Current Mixer”.

What are the Settings For?

You can access the settings for Kmix by pulling down the “settings” menu. After that, select “configure Kmix” and a window similar to this will popup:

As you can see, it’s a no brainer thus far to operate…but what do these settings actually tell us? Let’s go through some of the more common settings. We’ll start by explaining all those in the image to the left and then we’ll branch out into some that might be present for only certain types of soundcards.

  1. Dock to Panel – Very handy. This allows you to dock Kmix to the System Tray when using the close button
  2. Enable System tray volume control – Does exactly what it sounds like it does…it allows control of the volume when Kmix has been minimized to the system tray by the previous setting.
  3. Show Tickmarks – this setting displays hash marks on your slider for volume control and panning.
  4. Show Labels – This setting displays labels for each sound device when enabled.
  5. Restore Volumes on Login – This also does what it sounds like it does…your volumes remain constant through logoff and login. Very handy as well.
  6. Orientation – supposedly a setting for the applet to go horizontal or vertical but I’m not sure if this feature is enabled yet. Some mailing list traffic suggests that it hasn’t been enabled yet in KDE 3.4.2. If anyone has corrections to this, please post them in the forum and I’ll correct it and give you a nod here.

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New Category, New Direction

So I’ve decided to write a bit more for the blog again. Too many editorials/Rants regarding stupidity/injustice in Linux have been published as of late. This portrays the wrong purpose for Yet Another Linux Blog. I originally started the blog to serve as a place where I could chronicle my search for the best Linux Desktop, which, as some of you witnessed, I found for 2005. It seems I’ve started to migrate away from this purpose. Well, it was bound to happen right? I mean, there is plenty of stupidity and injustice floating around…

Therefore, I opened up this category to record my true learning…true as in I’m going to step through each and every application present in most desktop distros…of KDE. I haven’t even begun to find out what every single application in KDE does or what it is for…I’m just as big of a newb as most people are having started and remained with slackware and the shell for so long. So this will be fun.

I figured that many people switching to Linux probably wouldn’t use half the applications because they most likely wouldn’t know what they are for. With a little help from your friendly neighborhood Linux Blog, hopefully things will right themselves in the KDE world. I’ve also got plans to enter the forray that is Gnome very soon as well. I would cover XFCE but a majority of the programs present there are in both Gnome and KDE so it would defeat the purpose. Perhaps a review of XFCE 4.2.2 would be a good addition to these categories?

Anyway, this first entry serves as clarification on the direction this category will go. Each week I’ll pick out an application (or maybe a few if they are smaller) and I’ll go through the functionality and purpose of the application as well as which desktop distros have this application by default. I’ll also link to the author/homepage for the app. As I said, I hope this helps some people out. I know I was confused the first time I logged in on a desktop distro chock full of applications.

I’ve also found that the Linux Blog forum has been gathering some cobwebs as of late. I think this is a shame because it provides such an organized way of discussion. Thus, I’m closing comments on KWhat? (on all other posts besides this one) and the “yet-to=be-named-gnome” category and redirecting comments and questions on the article to the forum. So this sounds like a good time…if I can get another hard drive (I had one die on me) so that I can get the old PII 350 up and running as a spare test box. That way I can triple boot on two machines and check out different desktop distros simultaneously. So if any of you have a spare 10+ GB ATA hard disk laying around, get in touch with me 😉 That’s it for now. Look for Kwhat? to begin sometime this week.

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