Desktops, Drivers and Other Stuff

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent some time switching back and forward between Xfce (my preferred Desktop Environment) and KDE. I once ran KDE almost exclusively but for various reasons I’ve been using Xfce for the last couple of years.

One of the reasons was the frequency of KDE to lock up. It would just stop running. I have long suspected it was a graphics problem but had no proof. I have  a nVidia GT240 video card and had been using the open source nouveau driver. After a recent lock up I was forcing a shutdown when the screen filled with nouveau errors. Although I prefer to use open source drivers where possible I decided to install the nvidia drivers from RPMFusion using Korora’s PharLap application.

All went well with the installation and it did solve the lock up problems. Doing a bit of research I found an old bug which has been kept current. As far as I can see there has been no action on it. Anyhow problem solved and now I have working Xfce and KDE desktops and can and do switch between them as I feel like it.

Speaking of old bugs a long time I reported a problem with landscape printing and after much investigation by many people it was narrowed down to cups-filters and an update provided which fixed the problem. Now some months later those packages were updated and the problem returned. I commented on the bug and straight away another update was provided along with an apology. Well done Jiri Popelka. I tested and provided karma to the update so hopefully it is making its way through the update system now.

I’ve been testing installations on a uefi system the last couple of days. I was surprised how simple it was with Korora and so also with Fedora. More details later but if you want a linux system on an uefi computer either as a single installation or a dual boot Korora is the way to go.


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.