Volume 37 February, 2010
Volume 37
February, 2010
10 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid
KDE 4: Introducing Plasma
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
KDE 4: Dolphin or Konqueror?
Game Zone: Machinarium
Gadgets & Gear: Notebook Stand
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
Double Take & Mark's Gimp Tip
Forum Foibles: Be My Valentine
Behind The Scenes: davecs
Computer Languages A to Z: Haskell
Testimonials
1
ms_meme's Nook: PCLOS a Smoocho
Table
Table Of
Of Contents
Contents
Welcome From The Chief Editor
Behind The Scenes: davecs
10 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid
Double Take & Mark's Gimp Tip
Happy Birthday Texstar Shine
Gadgets & Gear: Canyon Notebook Stand
Screenshot Showcase
KDE 4: Konqueror or Dolphin?
Screenshot Showcase
Forum Foibles: Be My Valentine
KDE 4: Introducing Plasma
Screenshot Showcase
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
Screenshot Showcase
Computer Languages A to Z: Haskell
Game Zone: Machinarium
ms_meme's Nook: PCLOS A Smoocho
Screenshot Showcase
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
HDR Photography With Qtfpsgui & Gimp
Testimonials
Screenshot Showcase
More Screenshot Showcase
Page 3
Page 4
Page 7
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 20
Page 21
Page 28
Page 29
Page 32
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 45
Page 47
Page 48
Page 49
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Disclaimer
All the contents of the NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine are only
for general information and/or use. Such contents do not
constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making (or
refraining from making) any decision. Any specific advice or
replies to queries in any part of the magazine is/are the
person opinion of such experts/consultants/persons and are
not subscribed to by the NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine.
The information in the NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine is
provided on an "AS IS" basis, and all warranties, expressed
or implied of any kind, regarding any matter pertaining to any
information, advice or replies are disclaimed and excluded.
The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine and its associates shall not
be liable, at any time, for damages (including, but not limited
to, without limitation, damages of any kind) arising in contract,
rot or otherwise, from the use of or inability to use the
magazine, or any of its contents, or from any action taken (or
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or any such contents or for any failure of performance, error,
omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or
transmission, computer virus, communications line failure,
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use of information contained on the magazine.
No representations, warranties or guarantees whatsoever are
made as to the accuracy, adequacy, reliability, completeness,
suitability, or applicability of the information to a particular
situation.
Certain links on the magazine lead to resources located on
servers maintained by third parties over whom the NEW
PCLinuxOS Magazine has no control or connection, business
or otherwise. These sites are external to the NEW
PCLinuxOS Magazine and by visiting these, you are doing so
of your own accord and assume all responsibility and liability
for such action.
Material Submitted by Users
A majority of sections in the magazine contain materials submitted by
users. The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine accepts no responsibility for
the content, accuracy, conformity to applicable laws of such material.
Entire Agreement
These terms constitute the entire agreement between the parties with
respect to the subject matter hereof and supersedes and replaces all
prior or contemporaneous understandings or agreements, written or
oral, regarding such subject matter.
2
Welcome
Welcome From
From The
The Chief
Chief Editor
Editor
by Paul Arnote (parnote)
Welcome to the February 2010 issue of The NEW
PCLinuxOS Magazine. February is looking to be a
very busy month. First, KDE 4.4 is scheduled to
come out in the early part of the month. Second, the
new 2010 release of PCLinuxOS draws nearer (very
near!) with each and every passing day. Texstar has
been a packaging machine, as he works hard to
provide a new, stable, and updated ISO that will be
PCLinuxOS 2010, featuring the latest
up­to­date version of KDE 4.4, Kernel
2.6.32.4 and an updated xorg server.
In preparation for the new PCLinuxOS
release, this month's magazine features
a series of articles aimed at getting
PCLinuxOS users more familiarized with
KDE 4. First, Meemaw compares
Konqueror and Dolphin, in KDE 4:
Konqueror or Dolphin? I take a look at
Plasma in KDE 4, in my article KDE 4:
Introducing Plasma. To further help
with the transition to KDE 4, the
magazine reprints the official KDE 4:
Plasma FAQ from the KDE 4 userbase
site. The magazine staff is planning on
taking a closer look, in future issues, of other new
developments and changes with the KDE 4 desktop.
Not everything deals with just KDE 4 in this issue,
however. I have written an article to help users
transitioning from another operating system to Linux,
with 10 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid. AndrzejL
writes another Gadgets & Gear column this month,
featuring a new Canyon Notebook Stand for his
notebook computer. Gary L. Ratliff, Sr. offers up
another installment in his exploration of computer
programming languages, Computer Languages A
to Z: Haskell. Mark Szorady provides another
Double Take cartoon, along with his monthly
"Mark's Gimp Tip." I review another game for the
Game Zone column, with Game Zone:
Machinarium.
We get a close up view of yet another person
responsible for helping keep (and make) PCLinuxOS
what it is, with the Behind The
Scenes: davecs article. Ms_meme
graces us with another installment of
her monthly columns, Forum Foibles
and ms_meme's Nook, as well as a
special birthday wish for Texstar.
Peter Kelly continues his series of
articles on learning the command line,
with Command Line Interface Intro:
Part 5. Dave Buckler gives us a good
tutorial on creating high dynamic range
photographic images, using programs
from the PCLinuxOS repository, with
his article HDR Photography With
Qtfpsgui & Gimp. We also have 3
testimonials from new users in this
month's magazine. Finally, this month's
magazine cover was created by me, to
celebrate Valentine's Day, which is a February
tradition in the United States.
All I can say is that you had better hang on to your
seats, as February is looking to be a very exciting
and busy month for PCLinuxOS users! Lots of
changes are literally just around the corner. Stay
tuned, and pay close attention to the
announcements on the PCLinuxOS home page, as
well as developments that are posted in the forums
and on the PCLinuxOS Twitter page.
Until next time, may each of you enjoy nothing but
peace, love, happiness, and joy!
Paul Arnote [parnote]
PCLinuxOS Magazine Chief Editor
The PCLinuxOS name, logo and colors are the trademark of Texstar.
The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine is a monthly online publication
containing PCLinuxOS­related materials. It is published primarily for
members of the PCLinuxOS community. The Magazine staff is
comprised of volunteers from the PCLinuxOS community.
Visit us online at http://www.pclosmag.com
This release was made possible by the following volunteers:
Chief Editor: Paul Arnote (parnote)
Assistant Editor: Andrew Strick (Stricktoo)
Consultants: Archie Arevalo, Tim Robinson
Artwork: Sproggy, Timeth
Magazine Layout: Paul Arnote, Meemaw, ms_meme
HTML Layout: Galen Seaman
Staff:
Neal Brooks
Galen Seaman
Patrick Horneker
Guy Taylor
Andrew Huff
ms_meme
Mark Szorady
Macedonio Fernandez
Meemaw
Gary L. Ratliff, Sr.
Contributors:
Peter Kelly
AndrzejL
The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons
Attribution­NonCommercial­Share­Alike 3.0 Unported license. Some
rights are reserved. Copyright © 2010.
3
Behind
Behind The
The Scenes:
Scenes: davecs
davecs
by Paul Arnote (parnote)
In the continuing series of highlighting those
responsible behind the scenes to keep PCLinuxOS
running and making PCLinuxOS what it is, this
month we have a chat with Dave Spagnol, a.k.a.
davecs, one of the Global Moderators in the
PCLinuxOS forum. – Paul Arnote, PCLinuxOS
Magazine Chief Editor.
compared to Wayfarer, which refused to run under
Win9x.
When did you make the move to Linux, what
distro were you using, and what attracted you?
It was USB that made me investigate Linux. I had
Win98SE, and did not want to upgrade to WinXP,
which I thought was designed to control the user,
rather than the other way around. I thought (wrongly)
that USB would not work under Win98SE. I thought I
could put in a USB board and use Linux. I was also
What is your name, chief occupation, age,
geographical place of residence, and marital
status?
Name: David Spagnol, Age 55, Live in Barking,
Essex (Greater London), UK. Separated.
When did you first get into computing (what type
of computer, what OS, etc.)?
Like many of my generation, I cut my teeth on a
Sinclair ZX81. I added a 48k memory expansion and
an expanded graphics ROM, and a "real" keyboard.
Couldn't leave anything alone even then. I
progressed to the Sinclair Spectrum, with 48k, then
with 128k, Microdrives etc. writing some stuff in
Machine Code. Also the Tatung Einstein. My first
PC­like experience was a Victor Vicki which was
great fun. I got my first "proper" PC, a 486, when I
was 40 I think. Running Windows 3.1.
Of course I couldn't leave it alone, using all sorts of
"Alternate" shells my favourite being "Wayfarer"
which added a proper modern style Taskbar, and all
sorts of ways of displaying folder contents. Being
forced up to Win95 (and 98) was a step back
4
Behind The Scenes: davecs
cynical of Microsoft, because everyone I knew used
MS, without questioning. Why spend hundreds for
MS Office when you could get Lotus Office, in my
opinion at the time, a far superior product, for a
tenner? Even in the previous Win3.1 days, Ami Pro
was superior to Word or Wordperfect! Being a bit of
a rebel, I thought why not go the whole way?
hardware. He sent me a file he had written to run in
a loop, detect when the connection was dropped,
and restart it. It didn't work on Mandrake, but I
looked at it. It was a bash script, not much different
in essence to a Windows Batch File, I had a little go
at it, and got it working in Mandrake. I had learned
my first lesson about the Linux Community.
In the middle of all this, I got broadband for the first
time. The guy who installed it used a USB
connection (even though there was also Ethernet on
both the cable modem and the computer), thus
disproving what I thought about Win98SE and USB,
but hey, my mind had been made up.
Another one followed soon. I had a digital camera
whose "movie clips" needed a commercial program
to convert them into something that Windows or
Linux could actually use. And it didn't work in Linux.
Rather cheekily, I emailed the guys working on
Transcode. I ended up with a long personal
correspondence with Tilmann Bitterberg himself,
which ended with him sending me a patch which
was later incorporated into Transcode. And it wasn't
like he was doing me a favour; it was almost that I
was helping him, just by giving him a new format to
work on.
I initially downloaded Mandrake, v8.0 or 8.1 I think. I
was very disappointed. I could not get the display
out of 800x600 mode, and the default graphics make
it look like a kid's toy. Later I tried Debian, 3.0r1 I
think, 7 disks downloaded and it was slower in those
days. That scared the bejasus out of me. I managed
to get up an OS with no graphics, and no idea what
to do with it. That was almost me and Linux finished!
Some time later, I relented and tried Mandrake 9.0.
This time I got it off a Magazine Cover, and this time,
I was able to get up a 1280x1024 display, though a
very shaky unpleasant one. It was then that I
discovered the true meaning of collaboration, and
learned how to hack the XF86 initialisation file to
make the display rock solid. I was on my way.
Another problem was that the internet connection
kept dropping, and I could only start it again by
rebooting. I found a guy in Hong Kong who used
Red Hat, but had the same problem with similar
Whilst using Mandrake, I had discovered extra
repositories through PLF (Penguin Liberation Front),
including Texstar's. As a result I joined Texstar's
web site PCLinuxOnLine. Shortly after I tried
Gentoo. Although the installation is long and tedious,
it's not actually all that difficult. And my computer
was now flying.
It was a little after this that I thought I'd have a look
at the latest Mandrake/iva again, 10.0 or 10.1 I think.
Horror of horrors, no "Texstar" repository. I did a
search which led me back to PCLinuxOnLine, and it
was then that I found the reason, Tex had made his
own distro. I sort of felt duty bound to try it, after all I
had had a few exchanges with Tex on his forum,
and used his Mandrake rpms in the past.
The most amazing thing was that PCLinuxOS was
easier to install than Mandrake had been, but flew
almost as quickly, and with fewer quirks than
Gentoo. At first I just copied over some of the
superior artwork from PCLinuxOS to Gentoo, but as
time went on I kept thinking why spend all this time
compiling? PCLinuxOS gives me what I want without
the hassle. I'll always be grateful for Mandrake for
giving me that first leg­up onto the Linux train,
Tilmann and the guy from Hong Kong for showing
me what community is all about, and Gentoo for
making me look under the hood. But PCLinuxOS
was the first time I thought to myself: Here is
something I could give to others.
When did you make the switch to PCLinuxOS?
I think it was around the time of release 0.81.
Whenever that was. As you can see, I remember
release numbers more than years. History was my
worst subject in school even though I think I
understand the processes, for much the same
reason.
What attracted you to PCLinuxOS?
As I said earlier, that it was something I could pass
forward to others, not just take for myself.
With the 2010 version of PCLinuxOS just around
the corner, what do you think will be the biggest
challenge facing PCLinuxOS users?
For those who are stubbornly hanging on to KDE3,
moving upwards (KDE4) or sideways. By making our
default desktop Folder View (~/Desktop), we can
5
Behind The Scenes: davecs
minimise the unfamiliarity. I've found it's possible to
make Dolphin more like Konqueror File Manager,
let's make the default as painless as possible, and
then discuss on the forum how to make best use of
what's new.
What do you view to be your greatest challenge
as a Global Moderator in the PCLinuxOS forum?
Finding the time to do it at present, my life is a little
complicated! I spend most weekends with my
girlfriend as she lives too far away to be with in the
working week, you can imagine this restricts my
time.
What do you view to be your greatest reward in
your role as a Global Moderator?
The knowledge that you are helping keep the forums
accessible for the users that need them most.
What do you view to be your greatest strengths
and your greatest weaknesses?
I think when I first became a moderator, my strength
was that I was the first non­American. We try to
avoid political controversy on the forum, but in truth,
what is "normal" in one place is "controversial" in
another. Unfortunately to give examples would be to
stoke up controversy in itself, which is not what I am
here to do. We're mainly an English speaking forum,
but that includes many nationalities, colours,
religions etc. We're here to help people get their
Linux computers up and running, and maybe we can
do our bit for world peace just by being civil to each
other, helping each other, and not flagging up the
things that divide us. There are plenty of places to
go to on the net for that, and I've got plenty to say ­
in the appropriate place!
My greatest weakness is that I can get lazy! Can't
we all?
If you had to describe yourself and your
personality in terms of art, which piece of art
would best describe you?
I like making friends on line and chatting. Watching
Football (us British invented the game and we don't
call it Soccer!!!). Socialising. Spending time with my
girlfriend.
What "parting words of wisdom" would you like
to leave us with?
If it takes a week to walk a fortnight, how many
apples in a bunch of grapes?
I can be quite a philistine at times, I really haven't a
clue.
Do you run other OS's, and if so, which ones,
and what attracts you to them?
On my main computer I have a Windows2000
partition. I have used it once, to connect the serial
port to my PVR to change the firmware. On my
NC10, I shrunk the main partition to 39Gb and left
WinXP there. I still don't know why I bothered. I
haven't even bothered to correct the keyboard layout
from American to British yet.
PCLinuxOS Enlightenment e17 ISO
How much time (per week) do you devote to your
duties as a Global Moderator of the PCLinuxOS
forum?
I really don't keep count. Maybe not as many as I
should, for reasons already stated.
When you are not working, either at your primary
occupation or as a Global Moderator, what do
you like to do to occupy your time (hobbies,
activities, etc.)?
Coming soon!
6
10
10 Beginner
Beginner Mistakes
Mistakes To
To Avoid
Avoid
by Paul Arnote (parnote)
Ever increasingly, Linux is becoming more and more
popular. Perhaps it's due to users looking for
something different or better. Perhaps it's due to the
tough economic times, where users cannot afford to
lay out reams of cash for commercial software
packages or operating systems. But whatever the
reason, there are more and more users giving Linux
a try.
Along the way, there are several common mistakes
that users new to Linux tend to make. In fact, from
time to time, you can even find some seasoned
Linux users making some of these same mistakes. If
you can avoid these mistakes, the transition to Linux
will be a lot easier.
1. Installing from outside the official repositories.
One of the biggest mistakes new Linux users make
is trying to install programs from outside the official
repositories. Linux is not, for the most part, like the
commercial operating systems, where you either
download programs from the internet or purchase
them from your favorite computer or software store,
and install them on your computer.
Most every Linux distribution has
a package manager. In
openSUSE, that package
manager is called YUM. In
Mandriva, the package manager
is called URPMI. In PCLinuxOS,
the package manager is called
Synaptic. The package manager
lists all of the programs that are available for your
distribution of Linux. In most cases, those packages
have been prepared in such a way that the addition
of one program doesn't break three others (or the
whole system) by removing or changing libraries that
other programs rely on. Take note that you may not
notice any breakage right away. But maybe one
week, three months, or a year down the road, after
you've installed yet another package that needs one
of the libraries that have been removed or changed,
you are going to run into problems. And, because
you've installed programs from outside the official
repositories, there is little chance for you to receive
assistance, since those "in the know" will have no
way to know what changes the "alien" packages
have made to your system. In such a case, the best
advice you are likely to receive will be to a) re­install
your system, and b) stop installing packages from
outside the official repositories.
2. Doing "selective" updates.
Without a doubt, this is a sure­fire way to break your
system and make it unstable. PCLinuxOS is a rolling
distribution. This means that updates are rolled out
as they are ready, instead of on a regular schedule,
as some other Linux distributions do. By doing
selective updates, you will eventually reach a point
where your system will break, since libraries that are
needed by one program won't be present, because
they are included in another package that you did
not install.
Rather, it's considered good practice to periodically
open up Synaptic, press "Reload," then "Mark All
Updates," then "Apply." This will download and
install ALL the updated packages, and you will be
left with the most up­to­date version of PCLinuxOS.
How often you choose to do this is up to you. It can
be done daily or weekly, but you should never pick
and choose which updates to apply.
3. Linux is NOT Windows.
Face it: Linux is NOT Windows. Sure, there may be
a lot of similarities, and
you will be able to use
many of the skills you
developed while you
were using Windows, or
any other commercial
operating system, for that
matter. But don't expect
Linux to be exactly like
Windows. The similarities
make it easier to make
the transition to Linux.
The differences are,
more than likely, the
reason you switched.
Embrace the similarities,
and take the time to learn
the differences.
4. Avoid learning the command line.
The computer world has "graduated" from a text­
based interface, to a more intuitive and usable
graphical user interface, or GUI. In fact, it is the
single most important advance in computing history,
as it paved the way for the non­technical user to
have access to computing, and it helped lead the
way for computers to make the inroads into daily life
7
10 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid
that it has. Way back "in the day," most computing
was done from a command prompt, as in the early
days of Linux and the olden days of DOS. Today,
you can do most of what you need to do from the
GUI, without even a thought about a text­based
command prompt. However, that text­based
interface has not gone away. It's still there, and more
powerful than ever.
And, because so much of what you may need to do
can be done from the GUI, many users shy away
from the "more technically challenging" command
prompt or command line interface. Many users find it
to be "too hard" to use and learn. Once you learn it,
though, you are likely to find that many things can be
done faster from the command line. And, you are
likely to find some things that can only be done from
the command line, further exposing the full power of
Linux.
So, once you've learned the
GUI you've chosen to go
with in Linux (isn't it nice
having so many choices?),
take the time to start learning
the command line. An added
benefit: should you ever find
yourself in the position where your GUI will not boot,
knowledge of the command line may just help you
get things right again. You can get a great start at
learning the command line interface, by either going
here (http://www.linuxcommand.org/), or by following
Peter Kelly's (critter's) Command Line Interface Intro
monthly tutorial series, here in PCLinuxOS
Magazine (the fifth installment is running in this
month's magazine, and started in the October 2009
issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine).
5. Misusing the help forums.
Even though Linux is free, help for getting started is
close at hand, and available from multiple avenues.
There are help files, user manuals, and even the
"man pages" that are easily accessed through either
the command line or Konqueror. One of the most
popular avenues for getting help, though, are the
community forums that exist for the various Linux
distributions.
tasks that can only be performed with root privileges,
like running system updates or changing your
internet connection settings.
7. Having too high of expectations.
While it may be easier to just pop into the forum and
ask your question – which most likely has been
asked a thousand times before – many users will
have their question answered faster by first doing a
forum search. Don't expect to be spoon fed. By
searching, you are likely to learn other important
things along the way, which will help you become
more proficient, faster, and find the answers to other
lurking questions.
It is a well known fact that Linux runs exceptionally
well on older hardware – and even better on cutting
edge hardware. In fact, Linux
has a reputation of being able
to breathe new life into older
hardware, extending the
useful life of that hardware.
But keep your expectations
realistic. Linux isn't going to
make your computer
equipment run 1000% faster. A old Pentium III is still
just that: an old Pentium III. It never has been, nor
will it ever be, as fast as a Pentium IV, or any of the
newer multi­core processors.
6. Avoid running as root (when needed).
8. Relying too much on WINE.
One thing that most
new users discover
upon their switch to
Linux, are repeated
statements that you
DO NOT RUN AS
ROOT. However,
that doesn't mean that you should avoid doing root
tasks. Just be careful. With root privileges, you can
inflict some serious damage on your system. In fact,
it's a good idea to get into the habit of triple checking
any command you enter on the command line
before hitting the "Enter" key. And, there are some
WINE is a nice, handy program that will allow you to
run many of your favorite Windows programs on
Linux, but not all of them. It is understandable that
users will want to continue to use the programs that
they have become accustomed to from when they
were running Windows, or who may wish to continue
to use the programs that they paid good, hard
earned money for. But you shouldn't neglect
checking out the Linux equivalent to many of the
programs commonly used under Windows. Linux
has many programs that replace those you may
have become accustomed to under Windows, and
many of those programs run better, faster, and have
8
10 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid
more features than their Windows counterparts.
Plus, the price is right: free, just like Linux.
Many times, there are multiple Linux programs for
their Windows counterparts. Linux is about choice,
so feel free to check them all out, and see which one
best suits your needs and the way you work. Once
you've made your choice, remove the ones you
aren't interested in. Most of the package managers
in Linux are excellent at removing all traces of a
program that you wish to remove from your system.
9. Ignoring the system messages and errors.
Just as with any operating system, you will
encounter errors from time to time. It's inevitable,
since modern day computer operating systems are
very complex and intricate
animals. When you
encounter those errors, pay
particular attention to not
only the error, but also any
accompanying messages
that come up with that
error. Not only will the error
message be important in
troubleshooting your
problem, but the
accompanying message
will often give you a tip on
what you may need to do to
rectify the situation.
Also, it's a good idea to jot those messages down on
a nearby pad or notebook. This way, should you find
the need to ask for assistance in the community help
forum, you can provide the exact error message and
the accompanying messages in the statement of
your problem. This will help those resident "experts"
direct you in the proper direction to solve the error.
Once you solve the problem, write the solution
down, under the error, on the same pad or notebook
page. If you ever experience the problem again, you
will already have the solution at hand. Not only will
that help your situation become a learning
opportunity, you will be in a position to assist others
in the forum who may experience the same problem
down the road, in a "pay it forward" type of situation.
10. Giving up too easily.
Unfortunately, this one happens all too often. Face
it: you were not born knowing how to run Windows,
or OS X, or any other computer operating system.
There was a time when
even all of that was new
and foreign to you. Try to
remember the first time you
ever sat down in front of a
computer. You had to
spend the time and put
forth the effort to learn your
way around, and to learn
the ins­and­outs of
whatever operating system
was installed on that
computer. Linux is no
different.
to do with the operating system they have become
accustomed to. Remember point #3 above: Linux is
NOT Windows, or OS X, or whatever other operating
system you've ever used. There will be things that
you will have to learn. The advantage is, depending
on which Linux distribution you choose to go with,
that many of your skills that you developed while
working with that other operating system will also be
useful and transferable to Linux.
PCLinuxOS has a reputation of being one of the
easiest Linux distributions for users transitioning
from Windows to use. But that doesn't mean that
you won't have new things to learn. If you invest the
time and effort, you will be rewarded by being able
to run an operating system that is not only much
more stable than your old one, but also much more
secure. And, even though PCLinuxOS has the
reputation of being one of the easiest Linux
distributions for users transitioning from Windows to
use, you will find that PCLinuxOS is also very well
suited for experienced Linux users, since none of
the power of Linux is sacrificed in providing that
ease of use.
After all, PCLinuxOS is "Radically Simple."
The internet is ripe with reports of folks who have
tried Linux, given up, and now proclaim that "Linux
sucks." Those are the people who didn't invest the
time and effort into learning Linux, as they once had
9
by Mark Szorady
Double Take
©2010 Mark Szorady. Distributed by georgetoon.com
Double
Double Take
Take &
& Mark's
Mark's Gimp
Gimp Tip
Tip
Mark's Quick Gimp Tip
Plug in to the power of The Gimp with Plug­
Ins! The Gimp, like other popular graphic
apps, extends its power and functionality
through the use of third party plug­ins.
Wikipedia defines Plug­Ins as, “In
computing, a plug­in (also called plugin,
addin, add­in, addon, add­on, snap­in or
snapin, but see also extension) consists of a
computer program that interacts with a host
application (a web browser or an email
client, for example) to provide a certain,
usually very specific, function 'on demand'. “
The gimp has hundreds of plug­ins available.
They are designed by Gimp users for Gimp
users and are completely free of charge. All
Find at least seven differences between cartoons.
you need do is log into the Gimp Plug­In
registry at http://registry.gimp.org/. For
instance, I needed to take one of my cartoon
characters and turn it into an icon. I simply
searched the registry for “Iconify” and found
the Plug­In called Iconify2.scm. After
downloading, I dragged the .scm file into
/.gimp­2.6/scripts. The next time I booted
Gimp, the plug­in was in the “Script­Fu” menu
and found Iconify2. With two clicks, this plug­
in took my cartoon character Elbie and
created an icon! As you search for plug­ins
you'll come across both .scm files and .py
files. As a general rule, .scm files are placed
in /.gimp­2.6/scripts and .py files are placed in
/.gimp­2.6/plug­ins. The Gimp Plug­in
Registry has hundreds of plug­ins available at
Answers on Page 13
your fingertips! And like PCLinuxOS, The
Gimp Registry has a friendly community
forum to help you along!
­Mark Szorady is a nationally syndicated cartoonist. His work is distributed by georgetoon.com. Email Mark at [email protected]
10
Happy
Happy Birthday
Birthday Texstar
Texstar Shine
Shine
Happy Birthday Texstar Shine we want you to know
What you create for us we love it so
Happy Birthday Texstar Shine you lead us along
My friends and me as we sing our PCLOS singing song
MP3
OGG
Grubby Grubby Grubby we're your fan clubby la la la lo
Linny Linny Linux we all love Texas le le le lo
Rooty Rooty it's the best PCLOS hear our singing song
Singing a song humming a song singing a song
Down loading PCLOS without any stress you can’t go wrong
Sing the song song the sing
Song song song sing sing sing sing song
Happy Birthday Texstar Shine we give you a cheer
Our thanks to you are so sincere
Happy Birthday Texstar Shine you're still going strong
My friends and I will have PCLOS our whole life long
11
Gadgets
Gadgets &
& Gear:
Gear: Canyon
Canyon Notebook
Notebook Stand
Stand
by AndrzejL
Many times on our forums, I have seen a topics
starting with a subject line, “My laptop/netbook is
overheating. What can I do?”. Most common
reasons were that the CPU was working at its top
speed, due to a process running wild. Or, a ton of
dust was clogging the fan and radiator. But what if
that is not the problem? What if the designers of the
machine saved few €/£ or $ or whatever the
currency is used in your country? What if the
computer really needs a better cooling solution?
I know! Lets dissemble it and make a holes in the
cover so the machine has better ventilation. NO!
Lets not do that. Making holes in the laptop case is
not a way out of this situation. So maybe I could
gently open the case, and put a bigger fan into it.
No. Lets not do that, either. Opening the
case/replacing any parts inside (if you're not a
trained/skilled computer maintenance technician)
can be dangerous for you, and for your gear. It will
void the warranty of the computer, too. What can I
do then, you ask? Well, then how about this:
http://www.canyon­
tech.com/products/companions/n
bstands/CNP­NS1
You could go to the computer
store, and ask for a notebook
stand with the fan built in. I kid
you not. I got one myself. I
bought a notebook stand from
Canyon (http://www.canyon­
tech.com/), marked with a s/n
CNP­NS1. It was €23 (about
$32.50 in US dollars) in my
local computer store, which
means you can get it much
cheaper if you live in bigger
city where the competition
won't allow a single,
monopolistic shop to set
unrealistic prices. As you can
see on the product site, you
can buy different versions of
the stand, including the
smaller version
(http://www.canyon­
tech.com/products/companion
s/nbstands/CNP­NS3).
Notebook stand. What can
one expect from it? I didn't
know until I got one, to be honest. What does mine
have? It has:
• 360­degree swivel base – Nice feature that allows
you to turn your notebook around
• Ergonomic adjustable stand –
Ergonomic. Well it does looks
nice/cool to me.
• Ultra silent fan – I can barely
hear it and the computer's temp
is down a bit. The case is not
getting hot anymore.
• USB power supply – For the
fan.
• Unique cable storage
design. ­ Errrr, I know
nothing about cable storage
designs, to be honest. It does
it's job. That's all I know.
• Design for up to 17''
notebook – I bet it is, and I
wish I had a 17'' lappy to test
it.
To be honest, it's a very cool
gadget, and ever since I
bought it, I've been happy
with it. What I like about it
most? I can barely hear the
fan, and it makes my Acer
Travelmate 2420 work a bit
less noisily. The computer's
temperature is down, which
makes the internal fan work on a lower speed
setting. That will probably allow the fan to live
longer. Also, the keyboard is not getting hot, which
used to be the case. And, on the top of that, it
makes my old machine look cool.
What does Canyon says about it's product on it's
web site?
“Notebook stand with adjustable rotating base
and silent USB­powered cooling fan.
This notebook stand allows positioning the
notebook so that its screen is at a height of your
eye with viewing angle close to 0° ­ the position
recommended by ergonomics experts. Stand
also includes cooling fan to improve heat
dissipation thus ensuring maximal performance
12
Gadgets & Gear: Canyon Notebook Stand
and system stability. If the laptop is not very hot
even under heavy loads, you may easily unplug
the cooler from USB port and hide its cable into
special notch.”
Would I recommend it? Yes. It does the job.
Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
Was it expensive? No, in my opinion it was not very
expensive. And, it helps avoid a larger expense,
since heat can kill a processor and various other
computer parts.
Did it work up to my expectations? Definitely. I have
had it for over a month, and I've had no complaints
so far.
If you have a heat problem, and you have tried
everything so far and nothing worked, give it a go.
The only thing you have to lose is the use of your
computer, due to heat damage.
Do you have a piece of equipment that has made your
computing life easier or more pleasant? Have you
recently bought a piece of computer equipment that you
have found to work with PCLinuxOS? If so, please let the
magazine staff know, and we'll consider featuring it in an
upcoming Gadgets & Gear column.
Answers to Mark Szorady's Double Take:
(1) Hole smaller; (2) Nose smaller; (3) “hog” changed to
“Hogg”; (4) Umbrella wider; (5) Mailbox shorter; (6)
Hair added; (7) Fence missing
Posted by Blackbird, January 21, 2010, running KDE 4
13
KDE 4: Dolphin or Konqueror?
by Meemaw
I recently made the
switch to KDE4,
and was greeted
with a new file
manager called
Dolphin. While I
have used
Konqueror for
almost four years, I
decided I'd try
Dolphin while still
using Konqueror. I
wanted to see just
how much they
differ, rather than
just deciding there
was something
wrong with Dolphin, just because it didn't look
exactly like Konqueror. After
using them both for about
three weeks, I've found that
they are actually much more
alike than one would think.
If you open Konqueror, then
open Dolphin right next to it
you should see basically the
same thing.The arrangement
of each window is pretty
much like the other, and the
default location that opens is
your /home folder. Default in Dolphin is single­click
to open a file, but you can change it if you wish. (If I
remember correctly, it was that way in Konqueror as
well, but I'm used to double­clicking, so I changed
mine.)
at the bottom.)
However, the two file
managers can be
configured to look
almost exactly alike if
you wish.
The Location bar is
just a little different.
In Konqueror, it is in
the toolbar to the
right of the buttons;
in Dolphin it is a little
more hidden, being
just above the view
window where your
home folder is
displayed.
So, now let's compare:
In Dolphin, these three items can be toggled on and
off in View > Panels, and can be placed at the left or
right side of the window, or even stacked on top of
each other with tabs for each one. I have Information
on the right and Places and Folders on the left (tabs
You can do something in Dolphin's location bar that
you can't in Konqueror. Say you are looking for
something in /usr and have gone 'in' several folders.
Now look at your location bar in Dolphin. It shows
the path you are on (just like in Konqueror).
However, maybe you think it's back up the tree in
another folder, but you don't want to lose this
location. Go to your location bar and click on the
arrow to the right of the directory you think you want.
You'll get a drop menu of the folders under the
location bar, and you can see if the one you are
looking for is there. (Notice the one you are in is in
Boldface.)
14
KDE 4: Dolphin or Konqueror?
Above ­ Back through the tree
Split View is
possible in both
Konqueror and
Dolphin. In
Konqueror, it is
under Window >
Split View. In the
default setup of
Dolphin, there is
a button on the
toolbar.
Below ­ Split view
Web bookmarks are used by Konqueror when it is
being used as a web browser.
Places (both applications use these) are usually
only those places on your system
you access regularly or want to
remember ­ like the Places menu
in System. You can right­click a
folder in Dolphin, choose "Add to
Places," and it will be added to
the places menu. (I added my
Magazine folder to Places.) ­­­>
Application bookmarks can
be accessed from any KDE
application, if you wish. If you
store all the photos you took on
your trip in a single folder for use
in Gwenview, for example, you
can bookmark that folder. It is
Tools ­ The two main tools are 'Find File' and 'Open
Terminal' and are present in both file managers.
However, in Dolphin you can open a terminal within
the Dolphin window as well. Simply go to View >
Panels and choose Terminal.
Bookmarks: each program can use Bookmarks.
There are three types ­ web bookmarks, places and
application.
then available in any other KDE program. You first
have to enable bookmarks in one of the KDE
programs.
There are a couple of neat little features in Dolphin
you might like. Hover your mouse over a file or
folder... see that plus sign? It allows you to select
that item. Now do it again with another item... you
can select as many files or folders as you wish (in
case you want to move some things around.) We've
always selected multiple files by holding down
CTRL and clicking away, but this method works too.
If you select one by mistake, you can go back to it
and click the minus sign that's there now and
Dolphin will remove it from the selections.
Also, see that slider at the
bottom of the window? You can
change your icon size just by
sliding the slider to the right. I
like it because it's right there and I don't have to go
into the menu at all (Lazy? Probably!!!)
15
KDE 4: Dolphin or Konqueror?
There's much more, but this will get you started. I
found that either of the file managers works equally
well, plus there are a few extra things that Dolphin
can do.
You can also visit
http://userbase.kde.org/Tutorials/File_Management#
Discover_Dolphin
for KDE's Dolphin tutorial.
Want to keep up on the latest that's
going on with PCLinuxOS?
Follow PCLinuxOS on Twitter!
Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
Posted by Texstar, January 1, 2010, running KDE 4
http://twitter.com/iluvpclinuxos
16
Forum
Forum Foibles:
Foibles: Be
Be My
My Valentine
Valentine
Got a honey who is waiting
CS
y
P CL O b er
H
#1 u g s
who is wondering and more?
What you're gonna give him/her
Crazy
le
Co n so
and just what is the score?
and candy is really nice
But Tex has made something
G et
Gimp
Bios
Bab y
t
Ro o
e
4M
P CL O
S
UR4 M
e
Pclos luv
u long
time
Be My
Nerd
Hu b b a
G ru b b a
Let's
U p d a te
x
d Linu
Craze
ic
F an at
wrapped up all in blue
It's the darling of the Linux World
Gr
a
Gr b a
ub
OS
P CL K S !
RO C
ux
Lin ly
D e s k to
On
p
Darl i n g
Crazy
Code
Linu
Lov x
e
Boot Me
Baby
It comes on a disk
and you'll really like the price
B e My
OS
Love at
1st byte
P CLO
S
#1
Well you might try roses
T i ckl e
T ex
Groovy
Geek
S
P CL O
B ­MY
L I NUX
from here to Kalamazoo
So surprise your little sweetie
you'll be a great success
Give her/him the OS
that's called PCLOS
ms_meme
17
KDE
KDE 4:
4: Introducing
Introducing Plasma
Plasma
by Paul Arnote (parnote)
By now, anyone who uses Linux has heard of the
new KDE 4. The KDE developers no longer call "it" a
desktop environment, or DE. Nope. Now, it's known
as KDE SC, or Software Compilation.
One of the cornerstones of the new KDE 4 SC is
Plasma. In fact, Plasma is your desktop. It's
everything you see on your screen when you start
up KDE 4. It's the panel(s), the desktop, application
launcher – the whole she­bang.
Plasma is a whole new way of looking at the
desktop. Sure, you can make it look like and have
virtually the same functionality as the KDE 3.5.10
desktop. But then, you'd be missing out on some of
the new features that Plasma delivers. So, let's take
a look at Plasma, how it changes the desktop
metaphor, and the things you can do with it.
At right is what a typical Plasma desktop looks like.
There are three principal components of a Plasma
desktop. They are: the panel (often referred to as
the "task bar," and defaults to the bottom of the
screen), the desktop (the area occupied by the
wallpaper and where any Plasma widgets are
placed), and the Plasma toolbox (represented by the
"cashew" in the upper right corner of the screen).
You use Plasma just as you would any other
desktop on most any other computer operating
system. You launch your programs from the KMenu,
you view the currently active programs in the panel,
access programs from the panel tray, etc. Much of
that is just as you have become accustomed to while
running the previous versions of KDE.
An important part of Plasma is the widgets, also
called plasmoids. Widgets are individual parts of the
desktop metaphor. They can include, but are not
18
KDE 4: Introducing Plasma
limited to, the panels, the clock, the system tray,
icons and folders, weather forecasts, the trash can,
photo slide shows – the sky is the limit, limited only
by the imagination of the widget authors. In fact,
panels and desktops are widgets, who's job it is to
contain other widgets. In Plasma, these are called
"containments."
The key to using widgets is the Plasma
toolbox, commonly referred to by many
simply as the "cashew." From the
cashew, you can add or delete widgets
from your desktop or panels, lock the
widgets, or several other functions. You will also find
the cashew on some widgets, as well as some
panels (like on your main panel, usually located at
the far right side of the panel).
One thing you are likely to notice is that there are no
icons placed on the desktop, as many users
sometimes like to do. Rather, icons are placed in a
container, called Folder View. One advantage is that
you can have multiple Folder View widgets on your
desktop, each pointing to a different directory on
your computer. In this way, it makes it easier to
organize your desktop, and to group your icons
together.
Once on your desktop, widgets can be configured
via the widget handle. The widget handle is
displayed when you mouse over the widget, but only
when widgets are unlocked, via the Plasma toolbox
cashew. With the tools on the widget handle, you
can resize the widget, set options for that widget,
move it about your desktop, and delete that
particular widget from your desktop.
Clicking your mouse on an empty part of the handle
will allow you to drag the widget to the desired
location on your desktop. By clicking on the first tool
in the widget handle, you can resize the widget. The
second tool will allow you to rotate the widget. Click
this tool and rotate the widget to the desired angle.
The third tool (the wrench) allows you to access the
configuration parameters for that particular widget.
The last, and bottom, tool allows you to remove the
widget from your desktop.
As surprising as it may seem, not only widgets that
are written specifically for Plasma can be used, but
you can also use widgets created for Google
Gadgets and Dashboard Widgets from Mac OS X.
These may be installed from "Get Hot New Stuff," a
KDE module scheduled to become a part of the KDE
libraries (kdelibs).
Plasma also brings a new way to work with your
desktops with something called activities. Activities
allow you to define different widgets (and
wallpapers) to each of your virtual desktops. There
is, understandably, a limited amount of real estate
on each of your different virtual desktops. As a
result, you may not be able to place all the widgets
you want to use on your desktop, without it
appearing cluttered and crowded. By using activities,
and defining different widgets for each desktop, you
can maximize the placement and use of a greater
number of widgets. You set these activities by
clicking on the Plasma toolbox (cashew), and
zooming out to display all of your desktops on one
screen. Then, select "Use a different activity on each
desktop." That is all you have to do to set up
different activities for each desktop.
19
KDE 4: Introducing Plasma
Say that during your "day job," you are working for a
financial consulting firm. On your "off hours," you are
writing the next bestselling novel. You also have a
vast personal photo collection of your kids,
grandchildren, and other significant members of your
family. In your "free time," you are working to learn
packaging. Now, with activities, you can devote each
of your desktops to a particular activity. So, on
Desktop 1 you have all of the files related to your job
with the financial consulting firm. On Desktop 2, you
have all of the files related to your creation of that
next bestselling novel. You can place multiple
picture frames and slide shows on Desktop 3,
displaying your picture collection of those who are
dear to you. And finally, on Desktop 4, you can have
all of the files that are related to your efforts to learn
packaging in yet other Folder View widgets. I think
you should be able to catch on to the idea being put
forth here.
Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
Overall, the KDE developers have made great
efforts to extend the usefulness and flexibility of the
computer desktop. Do you have to use these new
features? Certainly not. There is a setting in KDE 4
SC to change your desktop from one that utilizes
Folder View, to the more traditional Desktop View
that you have most likely become familiar with under
KDE 3.5.10. But, under the Desktop View, you may
lose, to varying degrees, the ability to utilize the
newer features that Plasma brings to the KDE 4 SC
desktop.
After all, Linux IS all about choice.
Posted by Crow, January 25, 2010, running e­17
20
KDE
KDE 4:
4: Plasma
Plasma FAQ
FAQ
From the KDE 4.3 Userbase Plasma FAQ
Reprinted under the
Creative Commons Share­Alike License
Editor's Note: With the impending change to KDE
4.x inevitable, especially since support for KDE 3.5.x
officially ended October 31, 2009, there are bound to
be lots of user questions concerning KDE 4.x, and
the direction that the KDE developers have chosen
for KDE 4 SC. This FAQ goes a long way in
answering many of the questions that KDE 3.5.x
users may have, and may help users making the
transition adapt to those changes quicker. This FAQ
covers up through KDE 4.3.x. KDE 4.4.x is due out
this month, February, and should be applicable to it,
as well. — Paul Arnote, PCLinuxOS Magazine Chief
Editor.
General Questions
What does Plasma do?
Plasma is the desktop interface for KDE SC 4,
including the application launcher (start menu), the
desktop and the desktop panel (often referred to
simply as the task bar). However Plasma is more
than just this familiar collection of utilities, it is a
common framework for creating integrated
interfaces. It is flexible enough to provide interfaces
for mobile devices, media centres and desktop
computers; to support the traditional desktop
metaphor as well as well as designs that haven't yet
been imagined.
What is wrong with the current desktop
technology?
Today's desktops are static. Typically they are tied
to a folder in which one can find icons (application
launchers), or user­placed documents and folders.
Along with pictures and images as backgrounds, the
current desktop doesn't go any further, or work for
the user. Plasma takes a different approach,
engaging the user by creating a dynamic and highly
customizable environment.
I don't think it's such a good idea...
With Plasma, you can let your desktop (and
accompanying support elements) act like it always
did. You can have a task bar, a background image,
shortcuts, etc. If you want to, however, you can use
tools provided by Plasma to take your experience
further, letting your desktop take shape based on
what you want and need.
How does Plasma work?
Plasma's components are widgets called Plasmoids.
Plasmoids can take on a variety of functions,
ranging from displaying your desktop and associated
wallpaper, showing your laptop's battery level,
displaying your plugged in devices, and drawing the
taskbar: basically, they are small applications that
live on the desktop. Plasmoids can be grouped
together in "containers" called containments. On a
default desktop, there are two main elements: the
Panel and the desktop itself. Both are containments
in the Plasma sense.
It doesn't sound too new... other operating
systems have done that.
The key difference here is that plasmoids can
interact together. You want a better view of your
laptop battery in order to find out when you are
running low? You just drag it away from the taskbar
and put it on the desktop. Also, applets can be
resized and rotated at will, thanks to the use of
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs). As you can see,
the desktop not only interacts with you, as the user,
but also with itself in new and interesting ways. You
are now able to control how your workspace
behaves and what it displays, in a visually pleasing
and user­friendly manner.
Since Plasma is the sum of its plasmoids, every
element, even the desktop itself, is a widget. This
allows you to move your desktop anywhere with
respect to the windows (back and forward). It is no
longer rooted behind everything and becomes
instead another element of real interaction.
Kicker and Kdesktop were working fine in KDE 3.
Why did you have to change that?
Especially regarding kicker, there was the important
issue of maintainability. The code was in place since
the KDE 2 days, and it was difficult to add new
features without breaking others. In the end, to
proceed forward the only viable option was to start
anew from scratch.
I can't find my favorite <insert feature here>!
Don't forget that the Plasma Desktop is still in heavy
development and that KDE 3 was an extremely
polished codebase: it took seven years to get to that,
while Plasma is much younger. With time, the
21
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
Plasma developers plan on reintroducing features
that are missing and fix regressions. As it
progresses through the KDE SC 4.x cycle, Plasma
will improve with it.
Why was the way the desktop operates
changed?
The idea of a Desktop folder is fundamentally a
broken concept. It assumes that everything you will
access there resides on a single physical directory
on your disk. It may be convenient, but at the same
time it greatly limits what you can do. For example,
you can't use custom layouts for different desktops,
as everything would be read from the directory. Also,
quite often a desktop structured like that becomes a
dumping ground for files and folders, without any
other function.
I heard there are no more icons on the desktop...
That is not entirely correct. You can have icons and
launchers (shortcuts) by dragging them from Dolphin
or the K­menu. What has changed is that the
desktop will no longer display the contents of the
Desktop folder. However, you can show an arbitrary
number of folders (local or remote) on your desktop
view, instead of being forced to display only the
contents of the "Desktop" folder. To do so, the
Folder View applet comes into play.
Also, should you wish, you can replicate the "icons
on desktop" paradigm with minimal effort.
What is the Folder View applet?
The Folder View applet, like its name says, is used
to display items (folders, files) from a directory. Such
a directory can be either a local one residing on your
computer, but also a remote FTP, SSH, or SMB
share. In the future, it will even contain results from
Nepomuk searches and tagging.
You can choose to view either all files, or filter either
by specific regular expressions (e.g., all files with a
certain extension) or by file type (for example, just
images).
Lancelot, are ready for daily usage and offer exciting
new features.
What is KRunner?
KRunner is the versatile mini­command line you can
activate by pushing "Alt­F2" or by selecting "Run
Command" from the desktop contextual menu. It can
search for applications, bookmarks, even sessions
basing on your input, show system activity and even
do simple arithmetic calculations.
This applet also supports basic file management
properties (moving, copying, cutting and pasting for
example), and you can have as many as you want
on your desktop.
KRunner's functionality can be extended through the
use of plugins ("runners").
Lastly, you can use one Folder View as the whole
desktop, effectively replicating the "old style"
paradigm.
What is commonly referred as "cashew" is the
Plasma logo you can find on the default desktop, on
the upper right corner, and on the panel, on the right
hand side (left hand side if you use a Right­To­Left
language). By clicking on them, you can access
other configuration options, such as panel
configuration and the Zooming User Interface (ZUI).
Some of these, like the panel cashew, only appear if
the widgets aren't locked (see below).
What's the deal with Kickoff (the new K Menu) ?
During the development of KDE 4.0, different
approaches for a K menu (application launcher)
were tried. Some projects were ambitious but there
was no way they could be completed on time. At the
time, one developer ported SUSE Linux's application
launcher (Kickoff) to the new KDE desktop
architecture. As it was the most ready and feature
complete (not to mention the product of usability
testing) it was chosen to be the default menu. If you
don't like it, the traditional K­menu is available as
well ­ right­click onto the K Menu to find an option
"traditional style". Also, some alternative menu
systems have been announced and some, such as
What are the "cashews"?
Please provide an option to disable the upper
right cashew.
Although putting an option to disable the cashew for
desktops sounds reasonable, from a coding point of
view it would introduce unnecessary complexity and
would break the design. What has been suggested
is, since the desktop itself (a containment) is
handled by plugins, to write a plugin that would draw
22
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
the desktop without the cashew itself. As a matter of
fact, some distributions ship already a "Desktop
without cashew" plugin.
What is the Zooming User Interface (ZUI)?
The Zooming User Interface, or ZUI, is another
component of Plasma. It enables the user to group
different groups of plasmoids together, and to
quickly switch between one and another using a
zoom­and­pan approach. Notice that at the time,
although significant improvements have been made,
this feature is still under heavy development and
may be fully functional only with later KDE SC 4.x
releases.
How does the ZUI work?
Suppose you have three groups of plasmoids (such
as widgets, application launchers, etc.) which you
want arranged in specific combinations depending
on what you want to do. You first group them
according to your tastes, then you can switch
between them by zooming out (getting a preview of
all the groups) and then back in on the specific
group you want to use. Notice that it is different from
traditional X11 virtual desktop switching, as there is
a higher degree of flexibility by using this approach,
as the groups can be totally different from each
other.
A very good example of this behavior is shown by
this image courtesy of Half­Left from #kde on
freenode.
That said, you can tie virtual desktops to ZUI
activities.
Why can't I use the ZUI from Dashboard view?
That feature is a work­in­progress. We're looking
into it, but can't yet say how and when it will be
finished.
On multi screen setups, the ZUI operates on all
screens, the Dashboard just on one. Why is that?
The workflows are different. When zooming out, the
user wants to get an overview, therefore activities on
all screens are zoomed out. Whereas when using
the Dashboard, the user usually wants to access
specific functionality and might not want to interrupt
his or her workflow on other activities.
Configuration
Can I place icons on the desktop?
Of course you can. Dragging an icon from Dolphin or
Konqueror to the desktop will work. Notice that
dragging on the desktop will not actually create a file
there, just a link to it.
To display the contents of your Desktop folder, or
any other folder, use the Folder View applet.
Alternatively, right­click on an empty area of the
desktop, select "Desktop Settings" and in the dialog
that will pop up locate the "Desktop Activity" text.
Click on the "type" combo box and select "Folder
View". Click OK and you will have a Folder View
applet as desktop (showing the contents of the
Desktop folder by default), like the "old style"
paradigm.
TIP
If your widgets are locked, you must
first unlock them, using the right­click
menu.
I am using two screens, and I used to have
kicker over the two displays. Can I do that with
Plasma?
No. The reason is that having a panel over two
displays adds a great deal of complexity, especially
when the two displays have different resolution. As a
result of this added complexity, this feature would
not be guaranteed to work in all cases, hence it was
not implemented.
Can I put the panel on only one screen?
All Plasma panels live in one screen. If you want
panels on multiple screens, you can add panels and
drag them to your preferred location using the panel
controller you get when clicking on the Plasma icon
in "Unlocked" mode.
How can I add applets to the panel?
Method 1: Open the Add Widgets dialog in the
Plasma cashew (upper right corner of the screen)
then select the widget of your liking and drag it
directly (don't double click or use the Add Widget
button) to the panel.
23
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
Method 2: Drag an applet from the desktop to the
panel.
panel can have. If they are set differently, the panel
will readjust its size depending on the contents.
The applet handle takes care of resize, rotate and
move.
Method 3: Click on the cashew on the panel, and
select "Add widgets". Once you have selected the
applet, it will be automatically added to the panel.
Under "More Options" there are additional options to
align the panel and configure its behavior.
* To move an applet: Click on the handle, then drag
the applet around.
Can I auto­hide the panel?
* To rotate an applet: Click on the curved arrow then
drag to rotate
Can I move the applets on the panel?
To do so, open up the panel controller (by clicking
on the cashew or by right clicking on the panel and
selecting "Panel Settings") and hover the mouse
cursor over the applets. Its shape will turn into four
arrows, and you'll be able to rearrange the applets
as you wish.
Lydia Pintscher's blog has a video showing
movement in action. Another one is available on
Aikurn's blog. Aikurn has also made an annotated
video.
How can I change the height and the size of the
panel?
Open the panel controller, select "More Options",
then click on the relevant option.
How can I remove a panel?
Click on the panel cashew, click on "More settings",
then select "Remove this Panel". Alternatively you
can right click on the panel itself, select "Panel
options" and choose "Remove this Panel".
General Panel Configuration Help
This forum page gives an illustrated guide to
configuring the panel.
Click on the panel cashew (the small icon on the
right side of the panel) to open the panel
configuration interface. By clicking on "Screen
Edge", you can position the panel on any of the
edges of the screen. Clicking on height and dragging
increases or decreases the size of the panel.
I heard that you can use OS X's widgets with
Plasma. Is this true?
The arrows on the sides of the panel define its size:
there are two, which define "minimum" and
"maximum" sizes. The maximum size is the size at
which the panel can expand when items are added,
while the minimum size is the minimum size the
How do I move, rotate or resize an applet on the
desktop?
Yes, Plasma can use OS X's widgets. Work has
been done to implement also Javascript­based
widgets (reverse engineered due to Apple's license).
First of all, hover over the applet you want to resize.
The applet handle will appear.
* To resize an applet: Click on the square icon and
then drag to resize the applet. You can constrain the
resize operation to the applet's aspect ratio by
holding down the Ctrl key.
My widgets are hidden under the windows. How
can I show them?
You can bring all the widgets to the front by pushing
Ctrl­F12, which will bring the Plasma Dashboard to
the front. When you are done, you can either push
the Esc key or select the "Hide Dashboard" option
from the cashew.
How can I lock the positions of the widgets?
Method 1: Right click on an empty area of the
desktop and select "Lock Widgets" from the
contextual menu. If you want to reverse that, right
click again and select "Unlock Widgets". The same
option is available if you right­click on the panel.
Method 2: Select "Lock Widgets" from the Plasma
cashew on the upper right corner or from the panel
controller.
24
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
How do I remove widgets?
If they're on the panel, right click on the widget and
select "Remove this...". If the widgets are on the
desktop, you have different options:
* If you hover over them, clicking the X on the applet
handle will remove them;
* If you use the Add Widget dialog, you can click on
the minus symbol icon next to the widget name to
remove it.
How do I switch between Kickoff and the old
style menu?
Right click on the menu icon and select "Switch to
Classic Menu Style" (if using Kickoff) or "Switch to
Kickoff Menu Style" (if using the classic menu).
Alternatively, you can add either type of menu using
the Add Applets dialog.
Aikurn has a video showing how to switch between
the different styles.
How can I add/remove an activity?
Adding an activity: Zoom out from your current
desktop view by clicking on the desktop view
cashew (the icon in the top right corner) and
selecting Zoom out. You see a toolbar under your
current desktop. Click on "Add Activity" to create a
new desktop view.
Removing an activity: Zoom out from your current
desktop view and select the red cross from the
toolbar that will appear to remove the activity.
* Previous activity: Shift­Ctrl­P
Note: You must Unlock Widgets (Ctrl+L) before you
can remove any activities.
* Remove applet: Ctrl­R
KDE Forums user Fengshaun has made a
screencast showing ZUI usage.
How can I quickly move between Activities?
The ZUI method is rather slow, so a better way is to
use an Activity Bar. A short how­to here explains
exactly what you need to do.
Are there any keyboard shortcuts for Plasma?
In addition to the mouse, there is a number of
shortcuts available:
* Lock widgets: Ctrl­L
* Zoom out: Ctrl­ ­
* Zoom in: Ctrl­ = or Ctrl­+
* Next applet: Ctrl­N
* Previous applet: Ctrl­P
* Add activity: Shift­Ctrl­A
* Next activity: Shift­Ctrl­N
* Applet settings: Ctrl­S
To change shortcuts, click on the desktop cashew
and select "Shortcut settings".
How can I associate a keyboard shortcut with an
applet?
Simply select an applet's settings (the wrench icon
on the applet handle) and then click on "Kyeboard
Shortcut". You will then be able to define a keyboard
shortcut for your applet. Notice that some applets do
not offer this feature (generally the ones that have
no configuration).
Can the Dashboard show widgets other than
those on my desktop?
Yes, it can. To configure it, click on the desktop
cashew and zoom out. Choose "Configure Plasma"
from the toolbox that it appears, and check the "Use
a separate dashboard" option. Click on OK and you
will have a different dashboard than your desktop
when you access it.
How can I use virtual desktops as activities ?
Zoom out by clicking on the desktop cashew and a
new toolbox will open. Click on "Configure Plasma"
then check the box "Different activity for each virtual
desktop". Click on OK and you are done.
25
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
Notifications take up too much screen ­ can I get
rid of them?
For those who do not like it, there is a simple way to
disable them. Right click on the system tray
notification area (the "i" icon) and select "System
Tray Settings".
There you will have the options of disabling
notifications for applications or for jobs (such as file
transfers) by unchecking the relevant check boxes.
Theming
I don't like the default look of the panel and other
Plasma components. Can I change that?
Yes, the ability to change the look of Plasma was
planned since the beginning. Plasma can use
"themes", which are essentially a number of SVG
images and files specifying the colors, to change its
appearance. A number of themes are already
available on kde­look.org.
How can I change my Plasma theme?
Right click on your current desktop, select "Desktop
Settings" (alternatively, you can select the same
option from the desktop cashew) and you will find
the option under "Desktop Theme". You can also
download new themes directly from there by clicking
the "New Theme" button, using Get Hot New Stuff
(GHNS).
Step by step instructions, although made for KDE
4.1, (including screenshots) are available on Aikurn's
blog.
Is there support for advanced visual effects
(transparency, etc.) without using compositing?
In an effort to keep the codebase clean of
workarounds (if not even hacks), the Plasma
developers have decided that features that require
compositing to work will not have a composite­less
version. The main reasoning is that in the past (KDE
3.5.x), such approaches were one of the causes of
the unmaintainability of the code, and also because
supporting those features is actually pushing
graphics card developers to write better graphics
drivers.
Troubleshooting
Plasma crashed, how can I bring my desktop
back?
Normally Plasma automatically restarts in the event
of a crash. If this doesn't happen, open KRunner by
pushing Alt­F2 (it should be still running) and type
"plasma­desktop". Plasma will be restarted.
My panel is gone, how do I get it back?
kquitapp plasma­desktop; rm
$KDEHOME/share/config/plasma­desktop­
appletsrc; plasma­desktop
This deletes your plasma settings, so you'll get the
default configuration back. If running the 3
commands at once doesn't work, try typing them in
manually and wait a few seconds before running the
next command.
(Note that the $KDEHOME environment variable
may not be set. Try ~/.kde (Fedora, Kubuntu
Intrepid, Debian, upstream default) or ~/.kde4
(OpenSUSE, Kubuntu Hardy and several others).)
Some GTK+ applications show wrong system
tray icon sizes.
That is unfortunately a problem in the
Freedesktop.org system tray specification, which
does not define the sizes for system tray icons
properly.
I experience extreme slowness when using
Plasma with the NVIDIA binary driver.
This is NVIDIA's fault entirely, due to their driver not
supporting correctly the XRender X11 extension,
and it also affects other parts of KDE SC such as
Konsole. See this blog entry on how to report issues
upstream to NVIDIA. This page contains a few
suggestions on how to improve performance.
NVIDIA has released the 18x.xx series driver that
can improve performance dramatically with the
Plasma Desktop and KDE SC 4.x in general.
Users who have a NVIDIA 6 or 7 series card should
add the following lines to their xorg.conf in the
"Screen" section, which may improve performance.
26
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
You don't need to add these lines if you have a 8/9
or above series NVIDIA card, since they're enabled
by default.
Option "PixmapCacheSize" "5000000"
Option "AllowSHMPixmaps" "0"
There are some other options you can try, which
may improve things if you get poor Desktop Effects
performance.
Go to SystemSettings»Desktop»Desktop
Effects»Advanced, you will see "OpenGL Options",
make sure "Bilinear" or "Nearest (fastest)" is set as
the "Texture Filter" option. You can also try turning
off "Use VSync" there as well.
Folder View and other plasmoids look badly
rendered with an ATI video card and the open
source radeon driver.
To work around this issue, you have to change the
2D acceleration method from XAA (X Acceleration
Architecture) to the newer EXA. As this involves
editing your xorg.conf file, bear in mind that such a
modification may damage your system. Do it at your
own risk.
To make the switch, edit your xorg.conf file (make a
backup just in case) and locate the Device section
for your graphics card. Add the line
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
before the "EndSection" line. If there is already a line
with AccelMethod, change it from XAA to EXA. Save
the file and restart the X server.
Notice that EXA is still marked as unstable, and that
some other applications such as some KDE3
programs may render incorrectly.
Hints & Tips
Add an application launcher to the panel
If you use kickoff as your menu, right­click on the
application icon, and select Add to Panel. If you use
Lancelot simply drag the application onto the panel ­
you may need to hold it there for a second or so
before letting go.
Add a launch menu to the panel
Lancelot makes this possible. Click on the menu
launcher, then drag Applications as described
above. When the popup menu appears, select
'Lancelot part'.
Various parts of the Lancelot menu can be dragged
to the panel in this way. Read this description of how
to use it.
'Favorites' may be a good choice for adding to the
panel
Disabling ARGB visuals
ARGB visuals and increase performance, you need
to set the KDE_SKIP_ARGB_VISUALS environment
variable to 1 (KDE_SKIP_ARGB_VISUALS=1)
before Plasma starts. You can do so by putting a
line setting this variable in /etc/profile or in ~/.profile.
Right­click the panel when your task bar is full
To make some changes to the panel you need to
right­click on it ­ and if you have open applications
that may not be easy, The workaround for this
problem is to use the panel cashew to bring up the
panel settings, then you can right­click anywhere on
the panel, including on application tabs, and the
command will go to the panel, not the application.
Re­arrange the application tabs on your task bar
Right­click on an empty part of the task bar (or use
the method described above) and select Task
Manager Settings. In the 'Sorting' combo­box, select
'Manual'. 'OK' to close it. Now you can re­arrange
your task icons by holding down Alt and dragging
the tabs to their new order. (If you use this alt­drag
while the panel config panel is open the whole group
of application tabs will move as one.)
Watch some Screencasts
This forum page has links to screencasts that will
help you understand Desktop Settings, Panel
Settings and the Zooming User Interface (a.k.a. the
Cashew).
For many of its effects, Plasma makes use of the so­
called "ARGB visuals". For older video cards, this
can mean a severe performance hit. To disable
27
KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
Miscellaneous tips
Some alternatives for those who like a sparse
desktop:
1 ­ you can remove the panel entirely. Open
applications would be available using the ALT+TAB
cycling.
Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
2 ­ Remove the panel and add a short one at the top
of the screen, to hold only the task manager
3 ­ Create a panel containing the task manager and
use autohide.
HowTo
A page of Screencasts to help understand Plasma
The NEW
PCLinuxOS
Magazine
Created with
Scribus 1.3.5
Posted by ms_meme, January 18, 2010, running KDE 3.5.10
28
Computer
Computer Languages
Languages A
A to
to Z:
Z: Haskell
Haskell
by Gary L. Ratliff Sr. (eronstuc)
In his address on the evening he received his Turing
Award in 1977, John Backus praised the type of
languages known as Functional Languages. This
address was mentioned in my recent article on
Fortran, and is officially known as: Can programming
be liberated from the von Neumann style?: a
functional style and its algebra of programs. Haskell
is one example of such a language. He also created
such a language himself, which was known as FP.
Haskell is an Open Source language, and is
available for many different platforms including:
Unix, Mac, Windows, 64 bit Linux, 32 bit Linux, BSD,
and Solaris.
There are many different versions of Haskell
available, but the one we will be using in this article
is GHC (The Glasgow Haskell Compiler.) This
language, once installed, can be operated as a
compiler or an interpreter.
To get a suitable version for the PCLINUXOS 2009­
x versions we will go to the following web site:
http://haskell.org/ghc/download_ghc_6_10_4.html#bi
naries.
On the download section, you will find two different
files for the i386 versions of Linux. At the moment,
the most current version of this file is version 6.10.4.
You will notice that one is 72 megs, and the other is
74 megs. The name of the file to select for download
is: ghc­6.10.4­i386­unknown­linux­n.tar.bz2 (72
MB). I have installed it on my copy of PCLinuxOS
2009.1, and my Gnome 2009.2, so I can verify that if
you have either of these systems, this file will
function properly. If you make an error and select
the larger file thinking that it would have more
features, you will receive the same surprise I did
when I tried to install that version on my Gnome
system. The 74 meg version, when being
configured, will report that it can not determine which
directory it is in and will not create the Makefile
needed to compile this for your system.
bunzip2 command would be used, followed by the
tar command to extract the file.
Installing the system is very easy. We do not need to
be root to download and to configure the system.
But, as the file we download expands when un­
archived to an item requiring nearly 700 megs of
space, we will want to delete it once it has been
properly installed and is operational. So, log in as
root once you have the file downloaded. However,
for the entire install, as well as the correction of two
matters, we will need to become, and stay, root for a
while. (NOTE: it is not advisable to be logged onto
the internet while running as root!)
Now a web page will be displayed. If you begin to
click on the provided links, you will discover that they
all function properly, except for two which will
produce a file not found (browser error 404). These
two links are the one for the users guide, and the
one for Cabal. Notice that the link for the users guide
is trying to take us to:
/usr/local/share/doc/users_guide/index.html. And, at
present, there is not any directory in this structure for
the users guide. Now we see why we remained root,
as the creation of this directory would not be
permitted as the normal user. Lets now make this
directory:
Installing and Adjusting
the GHC System
su
«enter password for root»
# tar ­jxvf ghc«tab»
# cd ghc«tab»
# ./configure
# make
# make install
OK, since Linux uses the GNU version of tar, this is
a shortcut which allows the system to be unarchived
and untarred with one command. If the product were
a zipped file, then the command tar ­zxvf would
perform the required unarchiving. If you wish to
perform the unarchiving as a separate step, then the
The last item of information you will see when the
make install finishes, is that the documentation for
the product will be found in this location:
"/usr/local/share/doc/ghc/index.html." This is true, so
while still logged in as root, open this file in Firefox,
using this command: # firefox
file:///usr/local/share/doc/ghc/index.
html.
# cd /usr/local/share/doc/ghc/
# mkdir users_guide
Now, if you are using several different screens, you
would just click on the one which still has the Firefox
browser open. Then, in the search box, search for
ghc users guide. You should find an item mentioned
as: The Glorious Glasgow Haskell Compilation
System User's Guide. So download this item to your
system. In the KDE version, it seems to be
downloaded to the desktop, while in the Gnome
29
Computer Languages A to Z: Haskell
version it was found in a Downloads folder.
However, it may be that is just how I had the feature
set on these two systems. In any event, once it has
been located, rename it to index.html. Once this is
done the first item to correct will be completed by
moving this file to the users_guide area. Now we
indeed do have:
/usr/local/share/doc/users_guide/index.html.
The next item we wish to correct is the Cabal item.
Here again the current reference is wrong. There is
an item, Cabal, under the libraries folder, and the
Cabal folder does contain an item index.html. I tried
two methods to fix this problem and neither worked.
One was to create a symbolic link to the proper
location of the file, and the other was to make a copy
and send it to that location. That would not work
either.
The method which works is to simply edit the html
source file. You may have kwrite in the KDE version,
gedit in the Gnome version, or you may well have
emacs, if you installed this in trying the features of
elisp. However, to save the edited file, you will still
need to be the root user. The file you wish to edit is:
/usr/local/share/doc/ghc/index.html. All you want to
do is locate the cabal line, and insert "libraries/" in
front of Cabal. Then save the file and exit. Next, you
will want to delete the folders for ghc and the
archived files from the location they were
downloaded to.
That fixes everything. So you can now return to
being a normal user. You can begin learning Haskell
and the most excellent starting place is the users'
guide. Here I recommend that you have the users
guide open in one screen area, and an active
Haskell session in
another. To start your
Haskell session, enter the
following command into a
terminal:
$ ghci (to which
the system will
respond with:)
GHCi, version
6.10.4:
http://www.haskell.
org/ghc/ :? for
help
Loading package
ghc­prim ...
linking ... done.
Loading package
integer ... linking
... done.
Loading package
base ... linking
... done.
Prelude>
You will soon discover
that having an interpreted
language which will also compile, is a very useful
feature. Once you read some of the user's guide,
you will begin to appreciate many of the features of
this system. For starters, the system will allow you to
set an editor to perform the edits of the programs
you wish to compile. The system will also allow you
to enter a shell program by executing :! «cmd»
However, do not try to use the su command to
become root, as the system will get the first letter
and skip to a new line so that you can never get the
password correct. As I had not yet installed Emacs
on the Gnome version, that was one of the first
things I tried. Also a simple apt­get install for Emacs
will not do, as this only installs the library files
needed by Emacs. Synaptic should be used to
select the version for X11, and perhaps also the
elisp sources. However, once you have Emacs
installed, you can edit and install your first Haskell
program. The easiest method is to just copy this
from the section of the users guide on compiling
30
Computer Languages A to Z: Haskell
source. The file is named Main.hs. Here is a shot of
this process. The example Main.hs file gives you a
simple factorial function.
Notice that the math is not limited. The amount of
precision is almost infinite. Also, when doing
division, you will obtain an exact answer, even if it
does seem obvious. For example 99/3 would yield
33. While 100/3 yields the answer 100/3. Also, note
that once a program has been compiled, the prompt
has been changed from Prelude» to Main*» If you
look at the items before the Prelude» prompt, you
will see that it loaded several packages for you. If,
for example, you enter pi, you will find that it is
defined for you to 15 decimal places.
One normally develops programs by trying out
expressions in the interpreter. A really fun item is the
reverse function. This takes a string and shows it in
reverse order. For example the reverse of Gary is
yraG. Now this is not limited to just a simple word, as
the next screen shot will reveal. Just be certain to
surround the string with double quotes. Here we see
some of the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln
altered by this Haskell function:
The operation of the compiler has a similar set of
flags as the familiar gcc set of compilers. The file
may be compiled into an assembler listing. Or, it
may be compiled into an object file for perhaps later
making into a library of Haskell functions. If you have
it compiled from within interactive mode, as we just
did with the Main.hs program, its functions will be
added to those offered by the interperter, and be
ready to start using. So we have installed the system
and corrected its few faults with the documentation
setup, and given some examples of its use. Now go
exploring with this new language and enjoy.
Before leaving we will mention what Cabal is. There
are rpm files in the Red hat system, which is what
PCLinuxOS uses. Another popular system is deb
files in the systems derived from Debian. This allows
installing new software. In a similar manner, Cabal is
a repository of Haskell packages which may be
installed to the Haskell system.
31
Game
Game Zone:
Zone: Machinarium
Machinarium
by Paul Arnote (parnote)
In the gaming world, there are shoot­'em­up games.
There are role playing games. There are arcade­
type games. There are strategy games. There are
card games. There are adventure games. And then
there are puzzle games. This month's game,
Machinarium, falls into that latter two groups of
games, as an adventure game where you have to
solve puzzles to advance to the next level.
Machinarium is created by Amanita Design, an
independent Czech game development studio that
was founded in 2003. Amanita Design has
previously created the award­winning Samorost in
2003, and Samorost2, in 2007.
From the Machinarium web site, the game is
described as a point­and­click adventure game.
Machinarium is a flash­based game, and there is a
playable demo online (just go to the Machinarium
web site ... you can't miss it), where you can play the
first three levels of the game right in your flash­
capable browser.
The premise of the game is fairly simple. You control
a cute little robot, who has been mistakenly kicked
out of a mechanical city. He must find his way back,
rescue his girlfriend robot, and along the way,
prevent a gang of hoodlum robots from setting off a
bomb. To progress through the 30 levels on his way
home, he must solve brain teaser puzzles. One
puzzles tends to lead into another, yet each one is
neatly separated from each other.
The game is provided in versions for Linux, Windows
XP/Vista/7, and Mac OS X (10.4 and higher). The
full version of the game features 30 levels of brain
challenging puzzles to solve. It is available for
purchase for $20 (U.S.), and includes copies for all
three platforms, as well as a copy of the game's
"soundtrack," providing you with the music from the
game for you listening pleasure. Everything in the
purchase comes DRM­free.
Since the game is entirely flash­based, installing the
full version is very easy, and makes no changes, nor
adds or alters any libraries, to your PCLinuxOS
installation. Simply untar the game to its own
directory, making sure that you preserve the
directory structure.
Game Play
Using your mouse, you guide your robot through the
various levels, solving puzzles along the way.
Sometimes you will find things that you will have to
read. Other times, you will have to find the materials
32
Game Zone: Machinarium
to trick your way through the level. And yet other
times, you will have to find a way to use the
equipment provided to help you advance through the
level.
• 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution
(1280 x 800 or higher recommended)
• 128 MB video RAM
Most everything you come across has the potential
to be useful – always in the current level. As you
come across items, you can take, and collect, them
for later use. You can also combine collected items
to make new tools, which are necessary to
successfully complete the level. To make your new
tools, simply click on one item and drop it onto
another item in your inventory bar. Your inventory
"stash" will be cleared as you complete each level.
I can attest that I personally played the game
successfully on hardware with lesser specs. For
example, I have played the game on an IBM
Thinkpad T23, Pentium 3, 512 MB RAM, and 8 MB
S3 video, running PCLinuxOS Phoenix 2009.4.
While the game was virtually unplayable when it was
set for play in a full screen, changing to playing the
game in a window made it run at a speed that made
game play possible, and even fun.
Hints & Tips
Game play is really quite simple, and you will catch
on very quickly as to what you need to do to get
through the levels – although I'm not saying that
game play isn't without its challenges. Each level will
present you with another brain teaser puzzle to
To use your collected items, you simply move your
mouse cursor to the top of the screen, and drag the
item you want to use to the place where you want to
drop it in the level. To put your item back (say,
you've picked up an item, but cannot find a current
use for it), reverse the process and drag the item
with your mouse to the top of the game play screen,
and deposit it in the inventory bar that appears.
Sometimes, you will have to locate "hidden" controls,
and perhaps even re­wire those controls, to be able
to get the machinery in the current level to operate in
such a manner that it helps you complete that level.
System Requirements
The system requirements to play Machinarium are:
• 1.6 GHz (or greater) processor
• 1 GB memory
• 380 MB Hard Drive space
33
Game Zone: Machinarium
solve before you are allowed to proceed to the next
level. It does make you think.
that is opened up to you throughout your game
travel.
If you get stuck, there are two built­in ways to help
you along your way. First, at the far right of your
inventory bar, you will see two items: a lightbulb and
a walk­through book. The lightbulb provides a hint at
what you need to accomplish in that current level.
It's a rudimentary and crude drawing, but usually is
enough to give you a valuable clue as to how to
complete that level. The other, the walk­through
book, provides more information on how to get
through the level. To access the walk­through book,
you must first guide the key through a spider­
infested maze and into the keyhole to unlock the
single, sepia and ink drawn cartoon panels that
detail what must be done.
There is a problem getting the game to run on
PCLinuxOS with the provided game launcher. For
whatever reason, the provided launcher will hang on
loading in the first introductory flash file. Fortunately,
there is an easy way to work around this problem.
First, install the Windows version on a Windows
machine, or partition, or in a Windows virtual
machine. Copy the 45 KB "machinarium.swf" file in
the Windows installation directory to a USB flash
drive, and copy that file into the main directory that
you installed Machinarium to in your PCLinuxOS
installation. Then, you can launch that file in your
favorite flash­enabled browser, and play the game
there. In Firefox, you can press F11 to switch to a
full screen, enabling you to play the game full screen
(if your hardware capabilities allow it). Otherwise,
just play it in the browser window without making the
switch to full screen.
Additionally, a simple Google search will reveal all
sorts of hints, tips, guides, and walk­throughs for
Machinarium. Simply use the game name as your
search criteria.
Pick up everything you can. Even the most
seemingly inconsequential item will be useful. If the
game allows you to take an item, then do so. There
IS a reason, and it will be used somewhere in that
level that you are on. Remember, your inventory will
be purged as you complete each level.
From time to time, you will find passage ways back
to areas that you have previously traveled through.
There is usually a reason, such as additional items
(that weren't available on your first trip through that
area) that are needed to help you get through the
current level. Explore everything, and every passage
Conclusion
Machinarium is a fun – albeit challenging – game.
And this is coming from someone who is definitely
NOT a gamer. The full version is definitely worth the
$20 price tag it carries. The artwork is outstanding,
and if you are like me, you will likely spend a good
portion of your gameplay just admiring the scenery
of the game. For me, the artwork reminds me of the
illustrations from some of the higher­end children's
literature books, like those from Maurice Sendak.
But be careful, since Machinarium can become quite
addictive – even for a non­gamer like me.
International Community
PCLinuxOS Sites
NETHERLANDS
TURKEY
DENMARK
CZECHOSLOVAKIA
ITALY
POLAND
34
ms_meme's
ms_meme's Nook:
Nook: PCLOS
PCLOS a
a Smoocho
Smoocho
MP3
PCL PCLOS a Smoocho
Each time I boot you I behold a desktop divine
PCL PCLOS a Smoocho
The rapture I feel says that you'll always be mine
OGG
PCL PCLOS a Smoocho
Each console promises rhapsody anew
PCL PCLOS a Smoocho
Your every device shivers me through and through
System tools oh what joy so easy to deploy
Never knew this thrill before
Engaging super user mode ecstasy of the code
More of you I wish to explore
Dearest one you must believe me
Your each little folder and file I will pursue
PCL PCLOS a Smoocho
I'll use you forever and make Texstar's dream come true
35
Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
Come
Join Us!
Your Community Projects Forum
Visit.
Contribute.
Build.
The PCLinuxOS
Wiki
It Belongs To YOU!
Posted by Archie, January 25, 2010, running KDE 4
36
Command
Command Line
Line Interface
Interface Intro:
Intro: Part
Part 5
5
by Peter Kelly (critter)
The Linux File System
The Linux file system is built like an upside down
tree starting with the root directory /. Don't confuse
this with the user name root. This is the root of the
file system. From this root, grow branches, and from
there grow other branches – ad infinitum. The first
level of branches is mostly standard, although other
distributions may add special directories, and you
may also add some yourself. Where a file or
directory is located within the file system is known as
the path. The path of these first level directories is
always /{directory name} e.g. /home. As you make
your way through the file system, every time you
reach a new branch, like a fork in the road, you add
another / so that you would refer to a particular file
as
/home/jane/mydir/myfile1.
This file is three levels deep, and this way of
referring to it is known as the absolute path. When
jane is in her home directory /home/jane, she would
refer to the same file as mydir/myfile1. This is
known as the relative path, relative to where you are
in the file system.
The standard PCLinuxOS file system looks like this:
/|
The root of the file system
| bin
Commands for use by the users
| boot Files used by the boot loader (grub)
| dev Hardware is treated as files and here is
where you can access them
| etc
Miscellaneous scripts and system
configuration files
I home | Users home directories are in here
|
| jane Janes home directory
|
| john Johns home directory
| initrd A special directory used by PCLinuxOS at
boot time
| lib
Common libraries of routines used by
various applications
| media Where the system mounts external media
(e.g. thumb drives)
| mnt Other files systems are often mounted here
| opt Additional 3rd party application software
| proc memory resident file system that tracks the
system state
| root The super user's home folder
| sbin System administration and privileged
commands
| sys A virtual file system akin to /proc storing
dynamic kernel data
| tmp Temporary system­wide storage area
| usr Other installed applications, documentation
and shared resources such as icons
| var Various log files, mail and print spoolers etc.
Any distribution that you encounter will not deviate
too much from this, although there may be some
small changes
All of this takes no account of which hard drive or
storage device any of these files are actually on.
That depends upon where on the tree the file system
that is resident on the device is mounted. Note that
/proc & /sys do not exist on any hard drive. They are
memory resident only. Try du ­sh /sys to display the
disk usage of the /sys directory.
Mounting and unmounting file
systems
When you boot the system, the device nominated as
the root of the file system is given the path /. The
installation process will have created the necessary
folders at the first level, as shown above. If you
elected to have a separate /home partition, then the
/home directory will point to that partition. The
partition is then said to be mounted at /home. You
may add or remove additional devices as you see fit
to anywhere on the file system. To mount a device
on the file system, you need to provide certain
information:
• The type of file system used by the device
• The mount point – where on the file system the
device is to be mounted
• The device name or id
• Any options that control how the device is
accessed and mounted
The type of the file system could be one of very
many recognized by the system but the ones thet
you are most likely to encounter are
• ext2
• ext3
• ext4
The second extended file system also
known as the linux native file system.
There was a first, ext, but it is no longer
supported and shouldn't be used.
This is ext2 with the addition of a journal.
I'll explain journals in a moment.
The next stage in the development of the
ext file system. This is still in the testing
stage but usable if you want to
experiment.
37
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
It should not however be used in 'mission
critical' situations such as servers or for
the boot partition of a system until your
distribution approves it.
• reiserfs A popular journalling Linux file system
• iso9660 Used on CDROM and DVD disks
• vfat
Used to access Microsoft fat file systems.
• ntfs­3g The open source driver to access ntfs file
systems used by Microsoft Windows.
• nfs
Networking file system, not to be
confused with ntfs.
• swap The linux swap file system type
The device name may be given in various ways,
/dev/xxxx This is the traditional way
LABEL={the partition label} This can be used to
simplify recognizing what is on a particular partition.
UUID={Universally Unique Identifier} This is the
system that is currently used by PCLinuxOS in
/etc/fstab
While UUID may be confusing to look at, it has
advantages in multiple partitioned systems. If you
are happy to let the system look after things, then
this is best left alone. If you want to take control,
then either of the other two methods might be a
better bet.
The default options are usually ok but in certain
cases you may need to specify others, the most
usual ones being:
• auto or noauto to mount or not when the
command mount ­a (all) is issued or when the
system is booting.
• user to allow an ordinary user
to mount the file system, only
that user or root may unmount
the file system.
• users allow all users to mount
or unmount the file system
• ro or rw to mount the file
system read only (e.g. a cdrom)
or read write.
To use the mount command to
manually mount devices, you
usually need root permissions,
and you would issue commands
like these:
Results of fdisk ­l command.
To discover which file system devices are attached
mount ­t auto /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom ­o ro
to your system use the command fdisk ­l.
­t specifies the file system type, here we are
requesting that the system recognizes the file
system type automatically. If this option is omitted
then the mount command will
attempt to guess the file system
type.
­o is the start of a list of options, separated by
commas, that control the
method of mounting the device.
To then find the label, uuid and file system type of a
device you wish to mount issue the command blkid
{device name from fdisk ­l command}
If you need to use labels or uuid, then use ­L {label}
or ­U {uuid}
ro read only is the only option
used in this example.
mount ­t ntfs­3g /dev/sda1
/mnt/windows to mount an ntfs formatted windows
partition
38
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
To create a label for an ext2, ext3 or ext4 file system
use the command tune2fs ­L {label}
mount on its own gives a list of all mounted file
systems and their types, Adding ­l will also show the
labels. This information is actually the contents of
the file /etc/mtab, which is one of the places the
system keeps a list of mounted file systems. The
other is /proc/mounts. Try cat /proc/mounts.
mount ­a mounts all devices listed in /etc/fstab,
except those with the option noauto
If a device is listed in /etc/fstab, then the mount
command will take information from there and
require you to supply only the device name or the
mount point.
To remove a device from the file system, the
command is umount. Notice the missing n.
umount /dev/cdrom
umount ­a unmounts all file systems. A file system
cannot be unmounted if a file or directory in it is
being accessed. The root file system / of a running
file system cannot be unmounted
Why bother with unmounting a file system? Well, this
is all to do with keeping things in sync. Linux is a
multi­user, multi­tasking system, and as such, has to
use system resources like memory and processor
time wisely. Unless instructed to the contrary, data is
written to file systems asynchronously, i.e. not when
the command is issued, but when the system deems
it prudent to do so. Even if you are the only user on
the system, you may have several applications that
periodically write to a file, like perhaps an autosave
feature or a scheduled event like a backgrounded
backup task. All of the data cannot be written at the
same time, and so it is sidelined until it can be.
Removing a floppy disk without first unmounting it,
for example, might cause data loss and will confuse
the device management system. The umount
command synchronizes the file system before
releasing it.
Journalled file systems were introduced to go some
way towards protecting file systems against
corruption when asynchronous data writing is used
and the system suffers a catastrophic event, such as
a power failure. Writing data is a multi­part
operation, known as a transaction which involves the
data, inodes, the directory entries and other
metadata. If any part of this transaction is not
completed when the system is brought down, then
file system corruption occurs. On a large file system,
it can take a while to rectify, walking through inode
by inode, block by block. In a journalled file system,
when a transaction is authorized, the processes
involved in the transaction are recorded in a central
area before any data writing is committed. If the
transaction is incomplete when the crash occurs,
then on reboot the journal is replayed, and the
transaction is then completed. This makes recovery
much quicker. An ext2 file system can be converted
to ext3 without data loss by using the command
tune2fs ­j /dev/xxxx.
For a device like a CD drive, once the drive is
unmounted, you can get the disk out with the
following command:
eject ­T (­T toggles the state of the drive tray
between open and closed, repeat the command to
close the tray)
You could, of course, just push the eject button on
the device. But if the PC is under the desk, you may
it useful to put a shortcut on your desktop to this
command. eject should automatically unmount the
volume if you have not already unmounted the
volume. If you have an external floppy drive or an
iPod (such as a second generation Nano), you must
issue the eject command before disconnecting the
device, or removing the floppy from the external
drive. eject ensures that any data left in the buffers
is flushed to the device, preventing corruption of the
data on the diskette or device.
For those devices that need to be mounted at boot
time, or are required to be regularly mounted or
umounted, the system keeps a look up table that
provides this information. It is found in the /etc
directory and is called fstab.
The above is a fairly standard fstab. Look at the first
line. It tells the system that when mounting
/dev/hda1, it should be mounted to /, it uses the
ext3 file system and the default options should be
used to mount it. The last two numbers aren't
relative to mounting partitions, but for completeness.
The first of the two numbers is known as the dump
number. Dump is a back up program, and checks
39
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
this number to decide whether or not to include this
file system in a backup. Zero means no. The second
of the two numbers is used to decide the order in
which file systems should be checked using the fsck
utilities. It is usual for the root file system to have a
value of 1 here, and other file systems that are to be
checked to have a value of 2. If a file system is to be
skipped in a 'full' file system check, then it must have
a value of 0 here.
Working with partitions and file
systems
One thing that causes a lot of people problems is the
management of partitions. Not that there is anything
inherently wrong with partitions, or that they are
difficult to understand. Just sometimes they, or the
configuration files used to access them, get screwed
up.
A hard drive can be divided up into smaller chunks
to separate data, or to house different operating
systems. Initially, when the partitioning system was
proposed and hard drives were small (just a few
Megabytes. My first hdd was 40 MB Wow! All that
space.), four partitions were deemed sufficient, but
as hard drive sizes increased, a work around was
found to allow more than four partitions The original
partitions were designated primary partitions, and if
one of those was sacrificed and created as an
extended partition, then this could be used as a
container to house logical partitions. There can be
only one extended partition in the partition table.
Linux has a lot of utilities for dealing with partitions,
from small cli­only utilities, to full blown graphical
applications. PCLinuxOS Control Center uses the
excellent diskdrake to provide a 'radically simple'
graphical utility suitable for even the newest to
Linux. We are going to use a cli­only utility called
fdisk.
There several reasons to use fdisk. Messing about
with partitions can be very dangerous, and it is all
too easy in a graphical environment to get 'click
happy' and wipe out a full system (although if a new
file system hasn't been written to the device, it is still
possible to recover). In a console, things tend to be
more focused on the task at hand. A small utility like
fdisk has fewer commands, and here simple is good.
You will always find fdisk or something similar on
any distribution.
We've already used fdisk ­l to get a list of devices
but if we now type
There are only sixteen commands available,
including 'm' for the list of commands.
fdisk {device}
Linux uses DOS partition tables, so it is unlikely that
you will ever need the 'b' and 's' commands, and for
now I think that option 'x' should be avoided. That
leaves us twelve commands with which we can
destroy our system, but only one command will do
that: the 'w' command. Until that command is issued,
none of the changes that you have made are
permanent. The 'q' command is our 'get out of jail
free card.' Whenever we issue the 'q' command, we
are returned to the system without committing any
changes. Instantly and without fuss.
Here, device is the device name without a partition
number, as fdisk works with entire devices. So use
/dev/hda, not /dev/hda1.
Typing m (enter) at any time will give us a list of
available commands.
As for the remaining commands.
• a Some versions of the MSDOS/Windows boot
loader would only expect to see one, and only
40
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
•c
•d
•l
•n
•o
•p
•t
•u
•v
one, primary partition marked as boot­able,
usually the first partition on the disk. Linux boot
loaders grub and lilo just ignore this if set. If you
are dual booting Windows and Linux, it does no
harm to leave this as is.
Normally this flag is not set under Linux and if
set can cause problems with overlapping
partitions – best left alone.
Delete a partition
Print a list of all partition types known by fdisk
Create a new partition
Create a new partition table replacing the
existing one – this removes all partitions on the
device. Use with care.
Print the partition table to screen
Change the partition system id – this
hexadecimal code tells the system what kind of
file system to expect on the partition, e.g. 83 for
ext2/ext3 file system
Switches the display units between cylinders
and sectors
Verify the integrity of the partition table
You can experiment with these few commands until
you feel comfortable, just don't use the 'w' command
unless you mean it. 'q' will get you out.
(NOTE: IDE is now called PATA (for Parallel ATA) to
distinguish it from SATA, or Serial ATA. PATA and
IDE are interchangable terms when referring to the
technology.) The drive is organized into a total of
16644 cylinders, and so all of the partitions must be
created on cylinders 1 to 16644. If this is not the
case, then you have a problem. Partition numbers 1
to 4 are reserved for primary partitions, whether or
not they exist. Logical partitions are numbered from
5 upwards.
change the display units from cylinders to sectors
with the 'u' command.
Then, we can see some ragged edges between
starting and ending numbers. This is perfectly
alright. Partitions must start on a cylinder boundary
with the exception of partition 1.
Partition 5 also starts on cylinder 8592 running up to
cylinder 9649. This is the first logical partition.
Resizing partitions is a risky business. A partition is
a container for a file system, so you could use fdisk
to delete the partition from the partition table and
then create a new partition. You would then need to
resize the file system using a tool like resize2fs. Or,
you could use a tool like gparted or diskdrake to do
the job for you. In any event, it is a dangerous
process, and not one one that I would be prepared
to undertake without having a trusted, recent backup
of all the data on that partition. If such a backup is
available, then a better strategy would be to delete
the partition, create a new partition, create a new file
system on the new partition, and re­populate the
partition from the backup. (NOTE: this latter method
is also, typically, faster.)
Partition 6 occupies the remaining cylinders and is
the second logical partition.
Before a partition can be mounted it must contain a
valid file system.
Partition 1 occupies cylinders 1 to 8591 and is a
primary partition.
Partition 2 is also a primary partition created as an
extended partition and occupies the rest of the disk
so there can be no more primary partitions. This
partition runs from cylinder 8592, the next available
cylinder, to cylinder 16644 which is the end of the
disk.
This all works very nicely, using all of the available
space on the disk. Er! well no, not really. Let's
If you look at the output of the 'p' command in the
screen­shot, we can get a picture of the layout of the
entire device – IDE hard drive no 1 in this case.
The partition has been created with an id of 83,
which tells the system to expect a file system of type
'Linux Native,' so we need to create one. The
command for this is mkfs, and initializes or formats
41
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
the file system, laying out stuff like the directory
tables and inode tables and setting up block sizes
etc. Unlike partition table creation, this process
overwrites existing data.
If you type mkfs into a terminal and then press tab
you will see that there are many variations of the
command. You can use the one that fits the file
system type you want to create, or you can use the
mkfs command with the ­t option and supply a file
system type.
WARNING! Just make sure that the target
partition is correct, as you will get no warning
and all data on the partition will be overwritten!
file system is created, but in matters as fundamental
as file systems, I prefer to accept the defaults. You
can see from the output that automatic file system
checking will take place at predetermined intervals,
but if you want to do it yourself, then the drive should
be unmounted. To check the root file system, it is
easiest to reboot from a Live CD, and check the file
system while running from the Live CD.
To check a file system, use the command fsck.
Each file system has its own specific checking utility,
and fsck is a 'front end' for the these utilities. If the
file system type is known, then it can be specified
with the ­t option, or fsck will look in /etc/fstab for it.
Of course if you know the name of the correct utility
you can use that directly.
fsck ­t ext3 /dev/hdb5 or
fsck.ext3 /dev/hdb5
Whether or not a disk is to
be automatically checked is
determined by the value in
the sixth column of
/etc/fstab. The frequency
of checking ext file systems
is determined when the file
system is initialized, but this
can be overridden with the
utility tune2fs ­c to change
the total number of mounts.
Of course, there are a multitude of options that you
can pass to the command to control exactly how the
Use tune2fs ­i to change the interval in days. Add w
or m to the number for weeks or months.
Swapspace
This is a file system that always provokes a lot of
discussion. It has its own set of tools, and is used by
the system, not the users. One question that always
crops up is “How much should I have?” The answer
is always the same: “That depends.”
Swap space was introduced in the days when
memory was very expensive, and therefore very
limited. When system load was high, it was possible
to run extremely low on memory, which meant that
the kernel had a busy time trying to juggle things
around just keep the system running. This resulted
in a slow and unresponsive system. With swap
space, the system administrator could give the
system some storage space to use as temporary
memory. Because the data in memory had to be
'swapped' in and out of memory to the much slower
hard drive space, it was always only a temporary
solution, and if swap space was being frequently
used, it was a sure sign that the installed memory
was insufficient for the demands placed on the
system.
Today, things have changed and modern systems
have large amounts of memory. The rule of thumb
used to be to have twice as much swap space as
RAM. If you are limited to a small amount of
memory, say 256MB, then 512MB of swap would be
reasonable. If however your machine is fitted with
2GB or more, then twice that would be rather
ridiculous, and could even slow down the machine. If
42
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
you do a lot of memory intensive tasks, like video
editing, then you may benefit from more swap
space. If you use a laptop that utilizes hibernation,
then you will need a little more swap than RAM, as
all the contents of RAM are copied to swap space
when hibernation is entered, and copied back to
RAM on resume. The thing to do is to monitor
memory usage, either with a graphical system
monitor, or with the command free. You can always
add more.
Swap space can be in the form of a partition or a file.
Partitions are the preferred method, as they tend to
be somewhat faster, but a swap file can be a great
temporary measure if the system suddenly finds
itself low on ram and swap. To create a swap
partition, you can use fdisk and create a partition of
type id 82 (Linux swap).
Now, the file permissions need to be changed so
that only the system has read/write access.
chmod 0600 /myswap
The file is now ready to be used, and can be added
or removed with the commands swapon /myswap
and swapoff /myswap
Do not delete the file without first removing it from
swapspace with the swapoff command.
This file then needs to be formatted/initialized to the
swap file system.
mkswap /myswap 131072
This is a strange directory, unlike most of the others
that are full of files that are recognizable. Actually,
this directory is full of files, device files. As already
stated, Linux treats everything as a file, so device
files are how we communicate with the systems
hardware. They come in two distinct types: block
devices that store data, and character devices that
transfer data. A hard drive is a block device, and a
keyboard is a character device.
In a long directory listing, ls ­l, the first
character of every line denotes the file
type. ­ for a normal file, d for a directory
and l for a link to another file. If we type
ls ­l /dev, we notice that apart from a
few lines starting with d or l, the majority
start with a b or c to denote a block or
character device file. Every device on
the system, and some that aren't, will be
represented here, along with a few
strange ones. We've already met
/dev/null and /dev/zero.
To create a swap file is slightly more involved. You
will need to create a file of the desired size, and then
write data to it. To create a swap file of 128Mb
(131072 blocks of 1024 bytes) called myswap in the
root directory, and to fill it with null characters, use
the command dd if=/dev/zero of=/myswap
bs=1024 count=131072.
It is advisable at this stage to make sure that the
system has actually written all the data to the file.
The command to do this is simply sync.
/dev
If you want to make it permanent, then add an entry
to the /etc/fstab file.
/myswap swap swap defaults 0 0
There are a couple of system directories that need a
little more explanation, /dev and /proc.
If you look at the listing for the block and character
devices, you'll notice something strange about the
file size. It is given as two numbers, separated by a
comma. This is not a file size, but the major and
minor device numbers. The major number is specific
to the type of device, and is used by the kernel to
determine which driver to use to communicate with
the device, while the minor number refers to a
particular device. By example:
43
Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
The first IDE/PATA channel on a PC can support up
to 2 devices (master/slave), and is allocated block
major 3. The first full device is then hda – block 3, 0.
Partitions on the device are then numbered
sequentially.
hda1
hda2
3, 1
3, 2
(and so forth).
The second device is hdb – block 3,64
hdb1
hdb2
3,65
3,66 etc.
The second ide channel (hdc & hdd) get major
number 22
SCSI devices (including SATA drives and USB mass
storage devices) start at major number 8, but
partitions minor numbers repeat every 16, giving a
maximum of 15 partitions per device.
Partitions on SCSI devices are numbered similar to
the IDE/PATA devices, but are named as follows:
sda1
sda2
8, 1
8, 2
This will always be the case for systems equipped
with SATA drives. In the case of USB mass storage
drives, including external hard drives and memory
card readers (SD/MMC, MemoryStick,
CompactFlash, etc.), the device name will be sdx,
where x is determined by the order in which the USB
mass storage devices are detected. For example, if
a laptop has a SATA drive and a built­in card reader
that reads and writes SD/MMC and MemoryStick
cards, then these are named sda for the hard drive,
and sdb for the card reader. Plug in a external hard
drive, and that hard drive is named sdc.
For example, to temporarily change the machines
hostname you could type as root echo
newhostname > /proc/sys/kernel/hostname. Start
a new terminal to see the effect.
/proc
There is a wealth of information in here, and it
reflects the entire state of the system. Unfortunately,
it is not easy to find what you want, and when you
do, you will probably be overwhelmed by the amount
of detail. If you look inside this directory, you will see
a lot of sub­directories with numbers for names.
Each one of those contains all the details about a
running process. The numbers are the process id,
and the first one of these folders has the name 1,
and contains information about process 1 ­ init, the
first process to be run on boot up. If you poke about
in these directories, you can find out things like the
full command line that was used to invoke the
process, it's current working directory and a whole
bunch other stuff the the kernel finds really cool, but
is of little use to mortals. Get past these numbered
directories, and things start to make more sense. If
you want to know all about your processor, try cat
/proc/cpuinfo. Want a list of modules? Use cat
/proc/modules. Most of the files in here are read
only, but some of them, notably many in the
/proc/sys directory, are writable. Even though the
effects of any changes only last until the next reboot,
you should be careful in here.
It's easier than E=mc2
It's elemental
It's light years ahead
It's a wise choice
It's Radically Simple
It's ...
44
HDR
HDR Photography
Photography With
With Qtfpsgui
Qtfpsgui &
& Gimp
Gimp
by Dave Buckler (roc4fun)
Hi All, I'm Dave. You probably know me as roc4fun.
This is a tutorial about using Qtfpsgui and Gimp to
create HDR photographic images.
All photographic processes suffer having a fixed –
and arguably narrow – dynamic range, which is the
difference between the lightest and darkest portions
of an image. HDR – High Dynamic Range
photography is a way of expanding the range of
tones in an image. This is usually accomplished by
combining portions of several exposures of the
same scene. There is commercial software available
for this, but thanks to our wonderful packagers, we
have excellent open source versions in our repo. If
you haven't done so already, you'll want to use
Synaptic and install Qtfpsgui and Gimp.
First we need some images. It's best to use a tripod
to take a series of pictures of the same scene. You'll
want to bracket the exposures from too light to too
dark. I generally take 3 or 5 pictures, varying the
exposure by 1­2 stops.
Here (at the bottom of the page) are some shots of
my girlfriend's
lampwork studio.
See how the
windows are
completely blown
out in the lightest
image, while the
darkest image
shows little other
detail.
Open Qtfpsgui
and click New
HDR. Use the
dialog box to
load your
exposures.
If you've had too much coffee and your images
aren't perfectly aligned, you can use the automatic
tool here (below). Click next.
The next tool allows you to edit your
images if you need to. You can
manually align the exposures here.
Click next.
45
HDR Photography With Qtfpsgui & Gimp
each operator will give somewhat different results.
Additionally, each operator can be tweaked using
the controls. I've had good results with Mantiuk,
Fattal ­ both old and new, and Drago, but don't limit
yourself to my recommendations. Go crazy here
and make several tonemaps. Notice you can direct
the output size of your tonemap images. Small
images process faster, big images are ... bigger, and
take more time to process. Size them with your end
use in mind. Save them somewhere convenient.
Now switch desktops and open Gimp.
After some crunching, Qtfpsgui presents you with an
HDR image, but it doesn't look like much. That's
because the HDR image is being rendered in an
LDR medium. We can help this with some
tonemapping. Click Tonemap the HDR.
I think this is where it starts to be fun. On the left,
you find a place to select an operator. The operators
are different tonemapping algorithms. I'm not very
knowledgeable about exactly how they work, but
File – Open as layers the
tonemaps you created.
This is another opportunity
for creative exploration.
What I generally do is put
the most “fundamental”
image on the bottom of the
image stack and add the
others above. Experiment
with the layer mode of the
upper images; I've had good
luck with “Overlay” and “Soft
Light”. Use the mode and
the opacity of the upper
layers to control their
contribution to the overall
image. It should go without
saying that any of the layers
and the resulting flattened image can be tweaked
with any other Gimp tools. Merge your layers and
save.
Compare this image to the series of three initial
images, and you can see a little of the power of
HDR. Thanks to open source software developers
and our own PCLinuxOS packagers, we have a set
of HDR tools that is second to none.
46
Testimonials
Testimonials
New Guy From Illinois
by Howard Schabow (Howard75)
Hello everyone,
I'm a new member at this forum, but not Linux. I
have been using computers for the past 20 years,
and Linux for the past 10 years. Through the years, I
tried various Linux distributions, starting with
RedHat, then Mandrake, Suse, Mepis, Debian,
Ubuntu, and others. Finally found PCLinuxOS in
2007, which satisfied all my wants and needs. I
started with the 2007 KDE3 edition, later upgraded
to the 2009 KDE3 edition, and I'm eagerly awaiting
the next version with KDE4.
When I first started playing with Linux, I compared
KDE, Gnome, LXDE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Xfce,
IceWM, and JWM ­­ and found that I liked KDE the
most. I know it's strictly a personal thing, but I come
from the Windows world, so I find KDE suits my
needs the best. But of course, each to his own. I'm
just happy I have a choice of desktop environment. I
like to have choices, so I can make the best choice
to suit my wants and needs.
I have used all kinds of Microsoft operating systems,
starting with DOS, Win3.1, Win95, Win98, Win2K,
WinXP, Vista ­­ none are as stable, reliable or
secure as Linux. I dual boot my custom built
machine with Vista, and let me tell you, PCLinuxOS
is so much better. Linux boots quicker, shuts down
quicker, is much more responsive, plus I feel much
safer on the internet using Linux. Plus I love that it's
free to download and install on every computer that I
own.
I was even able to get my dad interested in Linux a
couple years ago, and now he uses PCLinuxOS
exclusively, never uses Windows. He loves that he
does not have to worry about viruses and spyware
­­ instead PCLinuxOS just works properly for him.
He does not want a bunch of problems, he just
wants something that works every time.
Anyway, thanks to all of you.
Howard
Finding A New Home
by Thomas Wyker (wyzwyk)
Hello to all. For the last dozen years I've been solely
a Windows XP user, but over time have found it
more and more difficult to embrace the M$ vision of
what the desktop computer experience should be.
Many things about the company, their products, and
their policies turn me off. A few years back, I started
looking for a viable alternative. It was only natural I
should give Linux a try, so I started looking at Live
CDs from all the major distribution developers.
While many had features I liked, none totally
satisfied my needs. However, during my search a
few things became very clear to me: 1) I liked the
idea of a rolling release far more than a set release
date. 2) I'm attracted to the KDE desktop, especially
KDE 4.3. 3) It's great to have an active and caring
distribution community that you can call upon when
help is needed. 4) The distribution needs to be very
newbie friendly, but not only so. Taking these needs
into account, PCLinuxOS becomes the natural
choice. Now that KDE 4 is approaching its second
birthday, and fifth version release, I am very excited
and anxious to see the PCLinuxOS KDE 4 .iso that
Texstar and his crew are putting together. I have a
gut feeling it will be AWESOME! With that said, I'm
looking forward to joining the PCLinuxOS community
and learning all about Linux.
G'Day, From Perth, Western
Australia
by Alan Drew (Lucky Blue)
I am now a forum member for a couple of days, a
PCLinuxOS user for a couple of months, a Linux
user for 6 mouths, a computer user for 40 years, but
still a tech ignoramus. It could be that I do not have
a logical mind.
I tried Knoppix and Ubuntu, but when I needed to be
serious, went for Mepis. I thought it was good, but I
had the usual problems, no doubt due to me, not the
distro. Then the entire disk got wiped by an 'expert' I
brought in to fix the wireless!
An install on a blank disk was an opportunity to
review. I wanted easy, reliable, versatile,
configurable, etc., so I reckoned that meant KDE,
47
Testimonials
and either Mepis or PCLinuxOS. So, I chose
PCLinuxOS that time. The rolling release policy and
remasterCD were attractions. I did it myself. Despite
what some say, it has not been easy. I had problems
with boot­up, downloading, repositories, file
managers, partitioning, mounting, mklivecd, etc.
Some were fixed by luck, some by forum searching
and Googling, some ignorable, and some still
hanging around. It is probably me rather than the
distro. I want stability, but cannot resist tinkering.
(The Gothic horror documentary with my disasters
with Windoz may be a future project).
Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
One thing is for sure ­ PCLinuxOS is clever. I see
from recent posts on the forum that the key chaps
have day jobs and still work on this '48 hours per
day and only 15 minute breaks.' My situation is the
opposite: I work 15 minutes, then fun with
PCLinuxOS the rest of the day. Anyway, after the
mess from configuring and adjusting and bringing in
non­repository programs, I am looking forward to the
new ISO with KDE4, as I want to do a (final this
time) clean install.
I hope this is not too far off ­ I still have a PC that
works despite the aforementioned 'fun,' a tribute to
the stability of the distro.
Cheers, and thanks!
Posted by T6, January 14, 2010, running KDE 4
48
More
More Screenshot
Screenshot Showcase
Showcase
Clockwise, from upper
left:
Posted by Neal, January
2, 2010, running LXDE
Posted by dalvarado62,
January 9, 2010, running
KDE 4
Posted by Pirate, January
14, 2010, running KDE 4
Posted by newmikey,
January 2, 2010, running
LXDE DPE (Digital
Photography Edition)
49
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