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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Firefox 3.5 is out, but isn’t going to really be available to Linux users until tomorrow when the version in their repositories gets updated (unless you install it from source).  So, until then, I thought it would be interesting to write about what add-ons I use in Firefox.

I’m going to start off with my favorite add-on, called “DownThemAll!”.  This add-on is an excellent download manager that increases download speeds.  This feature, along with it being rock solid, is really helpful for large downloads.  While you could always use wget, having a good download manager built-in to Firefox really helps.  Now if they could only make a torrent add-on…

The second add-on that I find essential to a good web browsing experience is AdBlock Plus.  Basically, you install it, choose the filter for your region, and say goodbye to ads forever.  Now, you shouldn’t block every ad.  People need to make money somehow.  This is why I recommend disabling it on sites you frequent.  I only use it on sites with annoying ads or on sites I’ve never been to before.

The add-on Personas for Firefox is a really awesome Mozilla Labs project.  Personas for Firefox allows you to change your browser’s theme without restarting.  Now, before you immediately download this, it doesn’t work with standard Firefox themes.  You have to use Personas, which you don’t download.  They are available to you in the Personas menu.  If you are still confused, look at the screenshot below.

Personas for Firefox

Greasemonkey is one add-on that I don’t use very much, but when I do, I’m happy I have it.  Greasemonkey gives you the ability to insert your own JavaScript into webpages.  This is great for adding functionality to a website.  My favorite script which I’ll link to here, puts a little music player under Mp3 links, allowing you to play them in the browser.  This is awesome if you just want to sample a song on a site.  You can get other scripts here, but I find that asking other people what they use yields better results.  There is an add-on called Greasefire that automatically finds scripts for sites you visit as well.

Google Gears is a great add-on if you use web applications.  Essentially, it allows web applications to store data on your computer so that you can use them without an internet connection.  A great use of this is Gmail’s Offline Mode.  You get everything Gmail has to offer, without a connection to the internet.

Ubiquity is GNOME Do for Firefox.  You launch it with a simple key combination and tell it what you want to do.  Say you need to know the weather in New York City.  You simply bring up Ubiquity and type “weather New York City” and immediately, you have the weather.  It is still a work in progress, but is a highly recommended download.

Ubiquity

Now you know what Firefox add-ons I use.  If you have an add-on you use that isn’t mentioned here, leave a comment.  All add-ons mentioned can be found using the links below.

DownThemAll! https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/201

AdBlock Plus https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865

Personas for Firefox https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10900

Greasemonkey https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748

Google Gears http://gears.google.com/

Ubiquity https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9527

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Pros: Clean interface, fast, renders pages well, a lot of cool features like user script support

Cons: Unstable (crashes randomly)

Score: 6/10

Summary: Great potential, but too unstable at the moment for regular use.

There are a ton of web browsers on Linux.  I’m starting to wonder if there are too many actually.  A few stick out in the crowd though.  Firefox (obviously), Epiphany, Opera, and Konqueror just to name a few.  One browser, called Midori (which means “green” in Japanese), might be included in this group in the future if development continues.

Midori is a GTK+ 2-based browser, that uses the WebKit (formerly KHTML) engine to display web pages.  This means two things.  One, Midori looks great on GNOME and XFCE.  It also means that Midori is fast—really fast.  Pages load quickly in Midori and usually render correctly.  The browser is written entirely in C, so the program itself is lightweight and quick.  It has support for user scripts (like Greasemonkey for Firefox) and styles (like Stylish for Firefox) too.

Midori Running on Xubuntu 9.04

You’re probably wondering, if Midori is so great, why did you rate it so low?  Well, Midori is the most unstable web browser I have ever seen.  For example, I went to Google in Midori and after that, I attempted to go to Engadget.  Immediately after I pressed Enter to go there, Midori crashed with no warning at all.  The worst part is, the crashes are random.  You cannot predict when they will happen.  Sadly, this makes the browser unusable at the moment.  The browser is in the early alpha stages though, so this should be expected.  The web site does say that these crashes are the fault of WebKit, not Midori, while the FAQ says that the issue could be caused by Glib 2.16 and says that an upgrade to 2.18 could fix some issues.

Overall, Midori is a great web browser, if you can overlook the crashes.  This will obviously be fixed in future releases, so it should be relatively stable in a while.  Right now, I would stay away, but it is definitely a project to keep an eye on.

You can find more information about Midori at http://www.twotoasts.de/index.php?/pages/midori_summary.html.

This little command saved me a ton of time and searching back in Ubuntu 8.04 when I needed to know what wireless card I had.  I found out by running the command:

lspci|grep -i “wireless”

What It Does

The lspci command shows you your computer’s hardware interfaces (SATA controllers, wireless cards, etc.).  The standard output it gives you can be a little hard to read, so I piped it to grep.  The grep command allows you to search through a file or a program’s output for a line with a string in it that you specify.  The -i option tells grep to ignore case.  The string at the end finishes the command by telling grep what to look for in lspci‘s output.  So, the full command runs lspci, sends the output to grep, which searches through the output to find the string “wireless”, regardless of case.

Why It’s Useful

This command is amazingly useful, especially in Arch Linux.  Arch doesn’t give you a GUI by default and you need to install X with the right drivers.  If you replace “wireless” with “VGA”, you’ll know what you need.

After just a few months of blogging here, I feel that it is time for a change.  First of all, tutorials seem to be very popular with you, the readers.  For this reason, I will start to write quite a few more.  They are short and to the point, so I can write a lot of them (possibly more than one a day).

Another change is that I will be posting command-line tips.  These tips will just have the command, what it does, and why it is useful.  Since they are short, they will be posted frequently.

Reviews will be written in a new format as well.  I know that not all of you want to read a huge review.  You want the pros and cons.  So, I’ll be writing the pros and cons on the top of the reviews.  This way, you can get a quick summary of what is good and bad about a piece of hardware or software without having to scroll down or read the entire post.

Last, but not least, I will have a site or podcast of the month.  These posts will highlight why I like the site or show, what it covers, and why you should check it out.  Finding cool stuff on the web can be hard (even with Google), so I figured it would be good to do something like this.  Also, you can feel free to leave a comment about a site or show you like as well.

The blog is going to change a lot in the coming days.  More content will be posted and new topics will be explored.  Essentially, the blog will be much improved.  Hope you enjoy the new Geeky Linux Blog!

I know this isn’t the MAME post I promised, but I felt that I should write about this first.  Network Manager, which comes with GNOME, does exactly what its name implies.  It manages networks…well…sometimes it does.  It crashes a lot and for no apparent reason.

That is why I decided to switch to Wicd.  Wicd does exactly what Network Manager does except it doesn’t crash and it doesn’t have any GNOME dependencies, so it runs great in all desktop environments.  Installation is simple.  Simply use apt-get or whatever your distro uses to manage packages to get it.  It should remove Network Manager and replace it with Wicd.  The rest is quite self-explanatory.  Try restarting if something doesn’t quite work and go into Wicd’s options to set it up.

Why Wicd isn’t included by default is beyond me.  Nearly everyone complains about NetworkManager.  The only benefit I see is that Network Manager can use 3g cards and that Wicd cannot as far as I know, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, if you are looking for an alternative to Network Manager, Wicd is for you.

My Eee PC has been gathering dust, so I decided to put Xandros back on it and see what I could do with it.  I never really got into customizing Xandros because I immediately put Ubuntu 8.04 on it when it arrived.  Little did I know, there is a heck of a lot of good stuff you can do with it.

I got the “Full Desktop” mode first.  By default, Xandros uses a custom ASUS “Easy Mode”.  This was easy to fix by following these directions.  Next, I installed the latest stable version of Opera.  The Eee PC comes with an outdated version of Firefox, so I decided to just switch to Opera rather than upgrading (which is not a very easy process).  Installation was simple.  I went to Opera’s download page, downloaded the Debian Etch package, and installed it using dpkg -i.

Xandros Running Opera and Console

After I was done doing this, I wanted to play some games.  The Eee PC does come with some great casual games, but I wanted real ones.  Tremulous and Open Arena run well on it and don’t require installation, so I naturally chose them.  I downloaded both (Tremulous can be found here, while you’re going to have to Google for Open Arena), ran chmod +x on the tremulous.x86 file and the openarena.i386 file, and then ran them with ./.

There are many more things I’m planning to do as well.  My next post will most likely be on getting MAME installed.  Finding ways to get things to work on this odd distro is quite fun and has been the focus of my time recently.  If you have any tips on installing applications or modifying the distro leave a comment below.

Linux isn’t known for games.  In fact, one of the main reasons people don’t switch is because almost no commercial games have native Linux support.  The Wine project is certainly helping, but we Linux users really want native Linux games, which there are many already available.

Crack Attack! is a free, fast paced puzzle game for Linux.  It is in most distribution’s repositories and is a blast to play.  In the game, you try to line up blocks of the same color.  Once you have three or more lined up either vertically or horizontally, the blocks dissappear and you get points.  While you are doing this, more blocks are slowly added until the blocks touch the top of the window.  When that happens, the game ends.  The goal is to prevent this from happening by getting rid of as many blocks as possible.

Crack Attack! Being Played on Fedora 11 KDE

Although it is a “casual game”, it is great fun.  Also, all you really need to move the blocks are the arrow keys and the spacebar, so a netbook will be fine to play it on.  In fact, it was one of the games included in the ASUS Eee PC’s Xandros Linux install, so it should work on almost any machine.

Fedora doesn’t include support for Mp3s by default.  Thankfully, the people over at RPM Fusion have made it easy to get.  To start, you have to add the RPM Fusion repositories.  To do that, follow the directions here.  I recommend that you use the command-line directions on KDE (the standard directions didn’t really work with KPackageKit on my system), but the standard directions should work fine on GNOME.  Once you add them and apply the two updates you have waiting for you (click yes on all of the warning dialogues), add gstreamer-plugins-ugly on GNOME or add xine-lib-extras-freeworld if you use KDE.  This can all be done from either PackageKit or KPackageKit.  Now you have Mp3 support on Fedora!

Note: You may have to close your package manager and reopen it after the updates are applied.

Fedora 11 is amazing, but due to their commitment to freedom, they leave out Adobe’s Flash Player plug-in.  Getting it is easy, but it could be confusing to someone who has never used anything but Ubuntu.

There are a few ways to install Flash.  The easiest way is installing it using a .rpm package.  The only downside is that you have to manually upgrade it.  In other words, it doesn’t add a repository to update itself with.  To install it this way, go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ and select the .rpm package.  Download it and open up a terminal window.  Login as root with the command su -l, go to the directory you saved it to, and run the command rpm -Uvh filename.rpm.  Then you’re done.

Using RPM To Install Flash In Fedora

To install it using YUM, which is recommended, go to the site mentioned above and select YUM for Linux.  Once you have that, open up a terminal window, login as root, go to the directory you saved it to and run rpm -Uvh filename.rpm.  Then, run yum install flash-plugin. To update it using YUM, run the command yum update flash-plugin.

While the commercial operating systems are looking more towards flashy GUI’s, we Linux users seem to be trying out lightweight window managers.  Openbox, IceWM, Fluxbox, and Enlightenment are just a few of these usually bare, but extremely fast user interfaces.  Why are so many switching you ask?  To tell you the truth, I don’t know myself.

I think that this trend toward lightweight desktops is kind of odd.  We have the processing power, so why wouldn’t we use it?  I like XFCE, but it is ugly compared to KDE and if my friends saw what XFCE looked like, their interest in Linux would decrease.  If we are to spread Linux, shouldn’t we show that it looks better and has more features?  Yes, speed is important, but with hardware at the level it is today, it isn’t much of an issue.  I mean, if something has enough power to run Windows Vista, then it definitely has enough power to run Linux with KDE 4, which is the heaviest of all Linux desktop environments as far as I know.  So why then, are we trying to make Linux look like Windows 95?

We shouldn’t compromise looks for speed.  It is fine to want a fast desktop, but who wants to use an ugly one?  What we, the Linux community, should do, is write a desktop environment in an extremely fast language like C, and make it look great.  That way we have the best of both worlds, speed and good looks.  While speed isn’t as important to me, with this desktop, Linux will at least be acceptable to all users.  Also, I guarantee that the first desktop environment to do this will be the most popular.