Korora Project | Korora 18 (Flo) beta released

The Korora Project announced today the first beta release of version 18 (codename “Flo”) which is now available for download.

Features

Derived from Fedora 18 stable, this release comes with the usual Korora extras out of the box, but now also includes:

  • Adobe Flash plugin
  • Experimental support for Valve’s Steam client
  • unburden-home-dir, which moves cache files (like in Firefox profiles) onto RAMFS at login
  • undistract-me, which pops up a GUI notification when a terminal command has completed

Upgrade

It is now possible to upgrade from Kororaa 17 to Korora 18, thanks to Fedora’s FedUp tool.

via Korora Project | Korora 18 (Flo) beta released.

More on Geotagging

I posted recently about geotagging photos in Linux. There is a post on the digiKam blog about the same subject with a good idea I hadn’t thought off, using your Android (or any other one that can tag photos) phone to take a reference shot. Read the whole post here, it’s worth a look.

Geotagging in Linux

You may ask why geotag images? I have some images I took on film 20 years ago and would love to know where they were taken. Often I have a rough idea but I couldn’t find my way back there if I wanted too. One image is marked ‘beside the Croydon to Georgetown Road, Queensland’. Not very helpful when you think those 2 towns are nearly 150k apart, that’s almost 95 miles for those from non metric places.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with automatically geotagging my photos, also known as GPS Co-relating. This requires having a gps track of where I have been and an application that can match that track with the appropriate photos.

First thing is to create a gps track. This can be done with a dedicated gps unit or with some other device. I chose to use my android phone because I always have it with me. To record the track requires an app. There are many available but I use ‘Open GPS Tracker‘ because it is open source, it’s free and it works. It has many options that I don’t use including real time streaming. It has the option to output .gpx files which is what the co-relating applications require.

After you have the track you need an application to read it and match it to your photos. As always there are a number of options in Linux. Digikam has this option but I couldn’t get it to work reliably so I use ‘GPS Correlator’. It is available in the repos of many Linux distros, just needs a ‘yum install gpscorrelator’ in Kororaa (and Fedora). It has more options than Digikam which is how I got it working.

One thing I should mention is that your camera and gps unit (phone in my case) must have the time settings synchronised as accurately as  possible. Doesn’t need to be to the second but as close as you can get it. As most phones handle their time settings automatically this means changing the setting on your camera. Check it before each use particularly if you live in an area with daylight saving.

In the gpscorrelator screen you can select photos to process then the gpx file you got from your gps unit. You should set the time zone your camera is set to as gps data is always in UTC. You can also set the time difference and offset. Fortunately gpscorrelator has tool tips which describe how to use these options. If you still get no match on some images try selecting the ‘Between Segments’, it compensates for any gaps in your track. Particularly useful for areas with poor gps reception like cities and wooded areas.

Gpscorrelator also has an option to remove gps data from images if you want your location to remain private. This is handy for phones and other cameras that automatically record your location. For images taken at home and at friends’ places you might prefer to keep the location private when you post them on photo sharing sites.

There are a couple of things I’ve learnt so far. First is allow some time between starting the tracker and taking your first image. Also between taking the last image and stopping the tracker. First time I tried it I stopped the tracker when I got back in the car after taking the last images. None of the images taken there would match as the last point in the track was some time before the images were taken. Today when I got it working I started the tracker when I left home and stopped it when I get back.

Second is if you are constantly moving you might need to adjust the ‘Logging Precision’ in ‘Open GPS Tracker’s settings. It defaults to normal but if you find this doesn’t give enough points try a more precise setting or set you own custom interval. Experimenting is the only way to know what works for you. Explore the settings for other options that may improve your accuracy or that you might find useful too.

If you are using the tracker for a long period, e.g. most of the day, you might need to consider battery life. So far I’ve been in the car and I can plug the phone into a charger so that isn’t a problem. But without the external power recording a track for several hours may result in a dead phone battery. This maybe a good use for an old android phone if you have one laying around, maybe you know someone who has recently updated?

Adding location tags to your images is useful now and so easy to do why not try it.

Kororaa 17 Released (Finally)

Chris Smart announced finally announced the release of Kororaa 17 today. It had been delayed by a couple of weeks waiting for enough mirrors to sync the iso’s but he obviously didn’t want to wait any longer. Full details can be found at the Kororaa site.

The new Cinnamon desktop is a great addition. As expected Kororaa 17 comes with all the extras that we come to expect. It is still based on the current Fedora and so has all the latest applications and access to one of the largest repos around. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Cinnamon Adds Some Spice

One of the big additions to Kororaa 17 is Cinnamon. You probably know that Cinnamon is an alternative interface for Gnome 3. It was developed by LinuxMint to provide a similar usability and experience to Gnome 2 while retaining the technical advantages of Gnome 3. It provides a more traditional user interface that many of us prefer. In the last couple of days Cinnamon has accepted as an official package in Fedora.

I’ve experimented with Cinnamon in a vm for a few days and I must say it is impressive. I can see why it is so popular. Performance is good, even in a vm and it can be made to look good. I found my way around the system without problems and felt comfortable using it something I can’t say for Gnome 3.

Cinnamon is option on the Gnome version of Kororaa 17, you need to select it in Sessions on the login screen. Kororaa 17 beta has been out for some time and if you have it installed you will get the updates to the  final version by simply doing a regular system update. The final version will be officially announced any day now.  See the Kororaa site for more details.

Kororaa 17

Kororaa 17 “Bubbles” Beta was released yesterday. As with previous Kororaa it is based on the final Fedora 17. There are the usual KDE and Gnome versions with the extras you have come to expect from Kororaa. Kororaa 17 introduces a new option too, the Cinnamon desktop is included with the Gnome version.

Check it out here.

Creating PDF from Any Application

This is a version of a post I made on the Kororaa forums in the Tips section. It has application to more that just Kororaa so I repeat it here.

There are many tools available for Linux, too many for one person to get to know them all so this is an introduction to just one. One of those hidden gems is Cups-PDF. This short introduction to Cups-PDF will tell you what it is and what you can do with it.

Quite simply Cups_PDF is a virtual printer that creates PDF files. It can produce a PDF file from any application that can print. It is simple to use as it behaves just like any other printer.

Why Use It?

Why use Cups-PDF when LibreOffice can create PDFs? Cups-PDF works with every application that can print. Also it can do a couple of things that the built in LibreOffice PDF can’t.

Activate Cups-PDF

Although cups-pdf is installed with every Kororaa system it will need to be installed on many Linux systems including Fedora. Use your favourite package manager, in most distros the package name is ‘cups-pdf’. There is one step needed before it can be used. It needs to be added to the printer list. Select “Printing” from the menu, (actual name on menu and the location differs with different desktops) or in a terminal run ‘system-config-printer’

Click the ‘+’ and the system will show you the available printers. Select ‘Generic Cups-pdf Printer’ and it will search for a driver. Select the recommended ‘generic’ driver and select the recommended options. I found system-config-printer slow to do each step so be patient, it will get there. When it returns to the Printing window you can right click on the Cups-pdf icon and change some options, go to Properties – Printer options. I usually reduce the dpi setting as I don’t normally want a high quality output. The minimum setting is still quite good.

There is a configuration file at /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf but it doesn’t have many options. Fortunately it is well commented so you can see what each option does. The one you might want to change is the output location, the default on Fedora and Kororaa is the user’s desktop.

Using Cups-PDF

Using it is simple. Just select it as the printer and print. A file with the same name as the original with the extension changed to pdf will appear on the desktop. It also changes any spaces in the name to underscores.

One of the things I use Cups-PDF for even in LibreOffice is to use some of the printing options. E.G. you can change the number of pages per sheet in the printing screen but this option doesn’t exist in “Export to PDF”. Experiment with it you may find Cups-PDF is a better alternative than the built-in option plus it works with other applications.

One thing Cups-PDF can’t do, but the LO built-in PDF converter can, is create bookmarks within the document. At least I haven’t found a way to do it, if anyone does know please add a comment.

 

Conky

Conky is a lightweight system monitor. While that is correct it doesn’t start to explain what Conky can do. Conky can be used to display almost anything you can think of on your Linux desktop. It is simple to use but you can make it as complex as you wish simply by editing the configuration file.

One of the great things is that configuration files from any distro will work on any other distro with little or no change. This means you can copy someone else’s file and use it, adapt it and learn from it. My configuration, like most people’s I guess, is a combination of pieces I found all over the place. See here for a screenshot.

I’ll link to a copy of the file at the bottom of this post along with some links to other info. I’ll go over a few of the parts of my set up that may help someone building their first Conky or maybe looking to improve an existing one. For more information look at the man file for conky with the ‘man conky’ command.

Conky is available for most distros in the standard repos. Most of the temperature readings require lm_sensors (called lm-sensors in some distros) to be installed, configured and running as a service.  There are a couple of other packages needed. I mention them where they are needed.

My Conkyrc File


own_window yes
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_type normal
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
own_window_argb_visual yes

#own_window_argb_value=100

These lines do 2 things. First the ‘type’ and ‘hints’ were needed for it to display properly on Xfce. The ‘transparent’ and ‘argb’ lines give transparency.  The line that is commented out (which isn’t in my file) provides a partly transparent background if you prefer it. That does make things easier to read but I prefer full transparency which is the same as setting that line to zero. If you use that line you need to comment out the second line in the section as setting transparency to yes will override the argb value.

<div>

color0 ccaa77
color1 grey
color2 ffff99 #yellow
color3 lightgrey
color4 990033 #dark red
color5 ccaa66 #light gold

You can set colours in the text section but doing it in the layout & options area makes it easier to change colours later. Just one line needs to be edited and the new colour is used right through the display.

In the ‘Text area there is a line for the KDE version. Comment this out if you don’t use KDE.

The next section on the cpu has provision for 4 cores, numbered 0 – 3.  Change this to match the number you have. You could replace the whole lot with a single entry that displays the average for the whole cpu if you prefer.

I’ve commented out the nvidia section as I don’t use the propriatary driver on this system any more and nouveau doesn’t provide this information as far as I can see. If you have any suggestions here please let me know.

The Hard drive section requires hddtemp to be installed and running as a service. You need to edit the /etc/sysconfig/hddtemp file to have the drive in the HDTEMP_OPTIONS= line. I found I couldn’t add 2 drives here. The only way to get it working was to comment the line out. Then all drives are detected.

The last section is for the network details. It uses the ‘if_up’ options to detect which connection I use. This is useful on my laptop where I use Mobile Broadband when I’m not at home and wifi at home. Although this code is for my desktop where I rarely use the mobile broadband. Only for testing and in the rare case of the broadband being down. It requires the following line in the options area at the top.


if_up_strictness address

I find address is the best option here as until an address is found there isn’t a working network connection. See the man file for an explanation and other options.


${if_up ppp0}${font DejaVu Sans:weight=bold:size=10}${color0}MOBILE INTERNET ${font :size=9}(${addr ppp0}) ${hr 2}

$font${color1}Down:$color ${downspeed ppp0}/s${alignr}${color1}Up:$color ${upspeed ppp0}/s
${color0}${downspeedgraph ppp0 25,145 990033 ffbb55} ${alignr}${upspeedgraph ppp0 25,145 990033 ffbb55}
${color1}Downloaded: $color${totaldown ppp0} $alignr ${color1}Uploaded: $color${totalup ppp0}

$else${font DejaVu Sans:weight=bold:size=10}${color0}INTERNET ${font DejaVu Sans:weight=bold:size=9}(${addr em1}) ${hr 2}
$font${color1}Down:$color6 ${downspeed em1}/s${alignr}${color1}Up:$color7 ${upspeed em1}/s
${color0}${downspeedgraph em1 25,145 ffbb55 cc0000} ${alignr}${upspeedgraph em1 25,145 ffbb55 cc0000}

The order is so that it defaults to the home broadband and only shows the Mobile Broadband when it is connected. An ‘endif’ is required too but I have it at the end of the next section so that it is only displayed when I’m at home. If you only use one type of connection you could remove the ‘if_up’, ‘else’ and ‘endif’ as well as one section and edit the remaining section for your connection.

The final part displays the total download for yesterday, the last week and month. It requires vnstat to be installed and running. Unfortunately vnstat is broken in Fedora 16 and hence Kororaa 16, due to systemd I gather. My system is still running 15 so the screenshot shows it working.

That is one of my Conkys. The other one in the screenshot in the last post is for the Amarok track information. You can have as many Conkys running as you want or need.

A good source of further information is the Conky site. There are plenty of sapmle files online a search in your favourite search engine will bring up more than you could ever look at, but here a couple, Conky Galore  and here.

If you are using Conky on Fedora or Kororaa look at this thread on the Fedora forum.

Here is my conkyrc. It is called conkyrc.doc because WordPress doesn’t like text files. Just edit it as required, rename it to .conkyrc and put it in your home directory and start conky. You probably want to have Conky autostart whenever you log in so you don’t have to start it every time.

If you have any questions or any suggestions to improve my setup please add them in the comments. Thanks in advance.

Choose Your Desktop

One of the great things about Linux is that you have a range of Desktop Environments to choose  from. There is the new age Gnome 3, the unique KDE, the more traditional Xfce or the basic provided by any of the *box options and many others. Over the years I have been using Linux I’ve tried several of them including Gnome 2 and Enlightment.

Regular readers of this blog will know I am a fan of KDE. I run the latest 4.7.4 on Kororaa on a couple of machines. What many people may not know is that I also have Xfce 4.8 installed on both of those systems. These are 2 very different environments but I find both work well for me.

 

This is my Xfce desktop (larger size click here)and despite its performance advantages it clearly can be a good looking desktop.

So which one do I prefer? If you asked I would answer KDE without hesitation. It is the easier to configure, has more powerful options and some fancy effects. However if you asked which one I use the most I would have to say it differs from time to time but lately it has been Xfce. Why? Well it does have a performance advantage especially on my older laptop. It also feels more stable. For all KDE’s attractions it does have the occasional glitch, rarely the same one though. It locks up occasionally but there is no pattern to it so nothing I can report a bug on.

Xfce doesn’t lose much in appearance. It does have a little inconsistency on some screens. It is a little more difficult to configure, more editing of text files. E.g. there is no menu editor. But it has improved a lot over the last few versions. And it is very stable, probably an advantage of the slower update timetable.

I still use the same applications, mainly KDE, on both desktops and KDE apps run well perhaps even better than on KDE. It doesn’t affect my workflow at all as I have similar keyboard shortcuts set up.

Occasionally I try other environments but I always come back to these 2.

Fedora 16

Fedora 16 was released earlier this week and I decided to update one of my systems to it. Regular readers will know I usually run Kororaa, a Fedora remix. But I decided it is more than I need on my netbook. I wanted a simple light system with few options. I decided to go for F16 Xfce spin this time. Xfce has come a long way since I first saw it a few years ago. It is now at version 4.8 and is quite a well featured desktop. It has enough to be useful and look good but is still light on resources, at least compared to KDE and Gnome.

Installation was easy. I had previously partitioned my hard drive with a separate home partition and I kept it, saving the hassle of restoring all my data. I had backed up though, just in case.

The one problem I found was that I need to add an extra option to the boot line. Without ‘i8042.nomux=1’ I don’t have a working touchpad. F16 uses Grub2 so I had to learn how to edit the command line. I found a few references to editing /etc/default/grub and then running ‘grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg’. Both commands need to be run as root. That solved that problem.

The only other problems aren’t related to Xfce. First, I love drop terminals especially on netbooks. In KDE I use yakuake but to install that would pull in most of KDE. I had previously tried tilda on F15 and although basic it worked well. In F16 it crashes with a segfault. A bug report has been floating around for a couple of months. I will look at alternatives, maybe Guake. Any other suggestions?

The other small problem is turning on tap to click. Xfce doesn’t have a touchpad configuration gui so I looked for further information. I found a couple that required editing xorg config files. But each time I tried it X wouldn’t load. Further investigation is required.

Xfce has configuration options for much of the look and operation of the desktop. It even has it’s own compositor which gives basic desktop effects. I like setting inactive windows to be transparent as it makes seeing what is in focus so much easier. Xfce handles this well. It doesn’t have the fancy options of Kwin or Compiz but they aren’t really necessary. One new thing in 4.8 is the option to make the panels transparent  without affecting the icons etc. on the panel. With the compositor turned on there is an option to adjust Alpha on the Appearance tab of the Panel settings.

Fedora 16 is the first Fedora to use the 3.* kernel without it using an alias. In F15 the 3.0 kernel identifies itself as 2.6.40 so as not break parts of the system. F16 doesn’t need this.

Overall the update to F16 is good. Kororaa has promised a 16 beta soon so I am looking forward to that.