Aptosid - An Overview

aptosid might sound like a package management tool, but it's actually a desktop-orientated (KDE4 or XFCE) Debian derived Linux distro. It's more than a mere respin of Debian, but does it have what it takes to distinguish it from all of the other desktop distros?

The Linux Desktop: We've Arrived.

Linux Desktop articles are all over the place. I can hardly open up a browser without tripping over one. Most of them are negative whine-fests, complaining that Linux is too hard for new users, or has become too dumbed-down for technical users, or the fonts are ugly, or the next generation desktop environments are too different, or... well I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Spotlight On Linux: wattOS

So many computers head for landfill when they are still able to carry out useful work. However, some organizations and individuals do what they can to put these machines into the hands of people who can use them. Naturally, this is an ideal application for Linux, and having had a quick look at it, I suspect that wattOS would make a good choice for refurbishing older computers.


Some tools are so amazing, but unfortunately, if no one ever talks about them, many folks never hear of them. One of those programs is BackupPC.

Autokey: Desktop automation utility for Linux

Like many of you, I've been aware that there are several desktop automation utilities available for Linux, but until recently, I'd never used one. However, one of our readers sent me an email suggesting that I check out Autokey, so I did.

Navigating and Working in Scribus

Scribus has mixed reputation among free software users. On the one hand, users are vaguely aware of Scribus as a first-rate application that can hold its own against proprietary counterparts like InDesign.

When is a Gnome Not a Gnome? In Ubuntu 11.04!

At the Ubuntu Devloper Summit on Monday, it was announced that Ubuntu 11.04 will ship with Unity as its default shell.  It will still focus on Gnome applications, and depend heavily on the Gnome libraries -- but the default interface will be Unity.  For those unfamiliar with Unity, it's the default shell for the Netbook Edition of Ubuntu. Draw: Objects and Their Problems Draw is all about objects -- items inserted into a document, each of which can be edited independently. In fact, whether you insert a picture from a file or create an object selected from the primitives (basic shapes) in the Drawing toolbar, everything in Draw is a frame. Even text in Draw is an object, and behaves differently from ordinary text in Writer.

DeVeDe 3.16.8, create DVDs from video files

DeVeDe is an application that converts various video file formats into a disc that can be played in a DVD player. Other applications and tool chains can be coaxed into doing this but DeVeDe has the advantage of being a dedicated utility that has been designed for a single function. Resource Files

Most users interact with on the desktop. But what if you need to do a selective restore on the files that store custom gradients or colors? Troubleshoot why an extension won't install? Share resources with other users? For these kinds of tasks, you need to know a bit about where stores its files, and what you can do with them.

PDF Export in

Originally, PDF export in was limited to three levels of quality, whose exact differences were obscure to most users. But that was many releases ago.

KDE4: It hurt, but did it work?

Last month's release of the KDE 4.4 desktop environment restored the faith of many after what has been something of a roller coaster two years. Even the most loyal KDEians found that loyalty stretched by the debut of version 4.0 in 2008. Reassessing, and with hindsight, I think it's fair to characterize the whole saga as both a cautionary tale and an admirable example.

Quick and Dirty with Open Office Base.

Even with all of the high quality software available, sometimes you just have to break down and write a custom application, and usually you don't have a lot of time to devote to it. This is the situation I found myself in when my wife started a new business and needed a simple means of tracking sales leads.

The Small Picture: More Extensions

Every few weeks, I like to browse the Extensions site to see what is available, and what people are using. New extensions that are both useful and well-designed seem to be getting few and far between. However, if you search patiently, you can still find extensions worth trying. Cross-References Revisited

Four years ago, I wrote an article about writer called "Fielding Questions, Part 2 - Cross References and User-Defined Fields." I regularly receive mail about it, but these days I have to preface each reply by explaining that the article is obsolete. Repeating the explanation gets old quickly, so I decided that an update is necessary. Calc: The Mysteries of DataPilots Revealed

If you're coming fresh from Microsoft Excel, you might wonder where the Pivot tables are in Calc. The problem is, they're masquerading under the name of DataPilots. But, under any name, DataPilots are Calc's way of allowing you to quickly reorganize information in a range of cells so that you can gain a new insight into them.