(being a collection of papers, tips, and links Akkana considers
to be worth sharing with the world).
My Linux-Related Articles
I also write up lots of quick tips in the Linux, Tech and Programming
sections of my blog: see
Tags "linux" or for a complete listing of titles, the
And I keep some of my configuration files
online in case they're useful to anyone.
Some Linux-Related Presentations:
(Most of these took video and asked for slides, but they're not
always easily findable on the sites.)
Older Articles (less useful now)
Articles on external sites
Fun or useful little hacks I've discovered which aren't
major enough to deserve a page of their own.
- You can go to a URL in Mozilla or Netscape by selecting the URL
in any application, then clicking the middle mouse in Mozilla's main
content area. No need to go clear the URLbar first, paste there
and hit return -- the single middle click is much faster.
Once you try it you'll wonder how you lived without it.
- (General browser tip, not just for linux:)
If you don't already know about browser bookmarklets, they're
information about them. But they're not just for the
personal toolbar (I don't even use one); if you give a bookmark
a keyword (at least in mozilla) you can then invoke that bookmarklet
from the urlbar. For instance, I have a bookmarklet with keyword
"bug" that goes to "http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=%s"
and if I type "bug 12345" in the urlbar (or paste it into browser
content) I get taken to that mozilla bug. Awesome!
- To replace the Mozilla splash screen with your own,
convert your splash to an xpm named splash.xpm
(you can do this with the convert tool from ImageMagick,
convert youricon.jpg splash.xpm)
then put splash.xpm into mozilla's lib directory (wherever
Mozilla keeps its plugins and chrome and so forth).
It may have to be a specific size.
- I finally got mozplugger
working! This is a plugin manager for mozilla,
which lets you do things like specify which application is
used for which type of embedded content (normally, plugins
register themselves and declare what types they handle, and
you have no control over that, so when mplayer claims to handle
audio content but it doesn't work, you have no way to go back to
using xmms or whatever). The trick: it turns out that you have
to remove ~/.mozilla/pluginreg.dat after any change to
mozplugger. This is documented in mozplugger's manual page,
but it's way down at the bottom so I missed it the first few
times. Now I have full control: for instance, I can have
mozplugger shunt quicktime movies off to a separate mplayer
window, which I can then resize so I no longer have to view
video in a postage-stamp sized square in the browser window.
- If your distro doesn't remember your volume setting properly,
you can use aumix to set it at boot time or when you start up X.
For instance, put a line like this in ~/.xinitrc :
aumix -v 70 -p 100
- I recorded a sound that had dead space at the beginning and end,
and wanted to cut out the dead space. I couldn't find a linux
sound editor (everybody points to snd, but that's a huge bloated
lisp-driven package that requires installing a whole separate
version of guile, and I didn't want to deal with it; I installed
glame but it dumped core when I tried to edit a .wav with it).
But I discovered that emacs works fine for editing sounds.
It was pretty obvious which part of the file was the dead space
and which part was the real content, so I just cut out most of
the dead space parts and wrote the file (no, don't put a newline
on the end. :-) play complained "Premature EOF on .wav
input file" (I guess a .wav must have something at the beginning
saying how long it is) but "sox fil.wav fil2.wav" fixed that.
- (Related to previous tip) If you don't have a microphone, you
can plug headphones into the microphone port and talk into them.
- Need to know who's using a file? (Perhaps so you can eject a
CD or rmmod a driver.)
I can't believe I went this long without knowing about fuser.
- In 2.6, console beeps (ctrl-G) no longer work. It turns out
that to get your beeps back, you have to enable "PC Speaker
Support", which, strangely, is under Input Devices, not Sound.
- For window managers which don't display background images,
like openbox or the debian builds of icewm,
xsetbg, part of the xloadimage package, can handle that.
- If you've been beating yourself up trying to get a parallel
printer working, check the BIOS and try "ECP/EPP".
Linux is pickier than Windows about parallel port settings,
and newer Linux versions are pickier than older ones.
Some Cool Projects
The Open Source community is wonderful, and it's incredible what's
out there -- the trick is finding it. I went literally years saying
"I wish I didn't have to use Windows for printing photographs", not
realizing that the wonderful gimp-print project was already printing
photos better than my Windows drivers. So here are some cool but
perhaps under-appreciated open source projects that I think everybody
should know about.
One of my favorite projects -- nobody knows about it, but meanwhile
they're quietly writing the best color printing drivers available.
On my epson, gimp-print is much easier to use (as a gimp plugin)
than anything I'd used from Windows.
- The Gimp
Okay, not under-appreciated -- everybody knows about the Gimp,
the GNU Image Manipulation Program --
but I recently bought the book Grokking
the Gimp, from gimp-savvy.com and it's led to to realize what a
powerful program this really is.
Everybody knows about Mozilla now too, and of course I'm biased as
a Mozilla developer from the beginning,
but it deserves mention anyway, as the first mammoth commercial
product which converted to open source.
-- a lightweight program to print mailing labels and business cards.
Use this to make cool
"Powered by Linux"
stickers to replace the yucky Windows stickers on your computers.
See the image at right for a suggested use for the old Windows stickers.
Another case where a group of people quietly went out and wrote
software that just works. Pilot-xfer is the easiest way (on any
OS) to download files onto a PalmOS PDA.
The newer versions (0.11.*) adds better USB support.
- Plucker, an offline html viewer for
the Palm -- convert pages from the web (or download already converted
ebooks in Plucker format) and read them at your leisure.
Does what AvantGo did (plus more) without the nasty dependence on
a commercial site or the risk that a channel will disappear because
the site owner overcharged the content provider.
- Sitescooper, smart web-crawling
software that can package up web sites (such as daily news sites)
for offline reading. Works well with Plucker.
- SANE, Scanner
Access Now Easy: a standardized interface
which makes it (fairly) easy to support new scanners in linux.
This is an open-source layout program for Linux -- still in the very
early stages, but I mention it because desktop publishing is one
of the couple of things that are still hard to do on linux and
used as an excuse for not switching from other OSes.
Hotplugging devices, especially usb, has come a long way in the
last few years, though it still requires some tweaking now and
then. Desktop linux would be painful without it.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
Protect your rights before they're taken away!
- The GNU home page
The granddaddy of all open-source projects, more important now than ever.
Shallow Sky home