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Saturday, February 24, 2007

13 Things to do immediately after installing Ubuntu


In this article i describe some of the things to do immediately after installing ubuntu on your machine . Since most of the people reading this would be shifting from Windows to Linux with a system dual booting so i would focus more on making transition easy from Windows to Linux.

Creating Your ultimate Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop

Ubuntu 7.10 Codenamed Gusty Gibbon was released few weeks back with much fanfare ,now Ubuntu for past couple of years has been one of the most popular Desktop Linux distributions . Ubuntu 7.10 includes a number of features , applets and Wizards to simplify desktop Linux experience however because of many licensing restrictions it does not include out of the box support for popular audio/video codecs and many commercial but good applications . Also because of the limitation of trying to accommodate all kind of applications on single CD Ubuntu comes with a limited set of applications .

Now , i often have arguments with my friends who are new to computers that windows is better , mac is better and blah blah blah and they often use this argument that it's difficult for newbies to install applications , codecs etc on Linux as a way to justify their arguments . So well i decided being such a Linux fanatic i have to do something about it so well i thought of writing a guide sort of step by step tutorial that would allow anyone to have a kicking Linux desktop with most of the codecs enabled and descent set of applications in few steps .

Steps Written in RED are of paramount importance and other steps may not work correctly if these steps are not followed .

Step 1 : - Enabling Additional Repositories

Now many applications need additional repositories to be installed or some to be enabled in Synaptic package manager so before trying out steps given below ensure that repositories in order.

Launch Synaptic Package Manager (System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager ) , then in Synaptic package manager go to (Settings -> Repositories ) you will find window like this . Ensure that all the check boxes are marked leaving source code(if you want to you can enable this also but you are not going to need this unless you are software developer) the dialog box should look like this .
Dialog Box showing the repositories that should be enabled

After completing above step you will find a dialog box like this

Besides these you may also like to add medibuntu repositories if you want to install applications like ------- , to add mediubuntu repositories follow the following steps

echo "deb gutsy free non-free" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list


wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update

2. Enabling Cool Graphics Effects

Unlike previous releases of Ubuntu where one had to manually download and install compiz,beryl etc (Compiz Fusion is composite window manager that provides best features of Compiz and Beryl) from Repositories if one wanted to have glitzy visual effects . Ubuntu 7.10 comes with Compiz Fusion pre-installed and on supported hardware offers a wide array of Visual Effect . Now depending on graphic hardware of computer one could chose from three level of Visual Effect (From System -> Preferences -> Appearance )

None : - This mode causes Ubuntu to use Metacity instead of Compiz Fusion , with no visual effect

Basic : - Has only simple visual effects like shadows , fading windows-menus etc

Advanced : - Recommended for PC with descent graphic hardware , enables effects like wobbly windows, transparency , animated workspace switching etc
Visual Effect Dialog Box
Now , the biggest advantage of Compiz Fusion is even on really slow hardware one can have descent set of visual effects even on my slow laptop i could use Extra graphics effects though it was painful while using application like OpenOffice because of my slow hardware.

However , compiz-fusion is capable of much more and you can enable more desktop effects /customize compiz by typing the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
After completing above step , you can customize compiz by going to System > Preferences > Advanced Desktop Effects Settings .

3. Installing Audio/Video Codecs

The first thing anyone who wants to use Ubuntu as a replacement to their windows operating system would like to do is install support for all kind of audio/video multimedia codecs . Ubuntu does not come installed with support for major audio/video formats because of licensing issue and other issues . To install support for audio/video codecs type in the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly
And if you want to install mp3 support in nautilus you may like to install mpg123 which is a nice command line based utility for playing mp3 files and it works well even on modest hardware .

sudo apt-get install mpg123

This would enable most of the popularly used codecs in the Totem Movie player which uses the GStreamer framework to play audio/video files.

If you want to use a different media player and framework you might try installing MPlayer or VLC (depending on which you prefer ) instructions on installing them are listed below .

Installing VLC Player : -

LC Player is another of popular video player available under Linux . It is released under GNU General Public license and is available for different platform including Windows,Linux,BeOS,Mac OS X etc. VLC player is based upon free open source libraries like libdvdcss,FFMpeg for decoding various video formats.One Important feature of VLC Player is it's ability to play files over NetWork Protocols. The Frontend of VLC player is created using wxWidgets toolkit and it's appearance can be changed by using different skins. One Popular feature of VLC Player is it's ability to play files that are incomplete/broken or partially downloaded , making it useful for previewing file while downloading on file-sharing networks.

To install VLC Player type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install vlc

After completing above step launch vlc player from (Applications -> Sound and Video -> VLC media player )

3. Installing Linux DC++ Client

DC++ is a popuar tool used for p2p file sharing and is especially popular in college campuses , to install dc++ for linux follow the following instructions .

Type the following command in the terminal window: -

sudo apt-get install linuxdcpp
And after completing above step launch dcpp from (Applications -> Internet -> DC++)
Linux Client of popular DC++ Application


aMule is alternative to popular eMule program on windows platform , amule supports/works with eDonkey2000 Network or Kadnetwork and allows P2P sharing of files . aMule is available on number of platforms , Current supported systems include Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Windows and Solaris.

To install aMule type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo aptitude install amule
After completing above step launch aMule from (Application -> Internet -> aMule )

4. Installing Adobe Acrobat Reader

* Requires Mediubuntu repositories

Type in the following command in the terminal window :

sudo aptitude install acroread acroread-plugins acroread-escript

and , plugin for firefox

sudo aptitude install mozilla-acroread

5. Installing Macromedia Flash support and Sun Java JRE

Both Macromedia Flash and JRE are an important part of internet experience almost all the websites use either of the two technology to add extra functionality to the web page . By default Ubuntu does not come preinstalled with support for these two , however they can be installed quite easily by typing in the following command in the terminal window .

To install flash type in the following command in the terminal window this command is going to download a script that would further download the files needed for installing flash-support and install it .
sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
Script downloading further files needed for installing flash support

and to install Sun Java JRE type in the following command in the terminal window .

sudo aptitude install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts

6. Scribus

Scribus is one of the most impressive Desktop Publishing application that is free and cross platform . Scribus is available on Windows , Mac OS X , Linux , OS/2 etc . It is highly suited for preparing file for professional quality image setting equipment .It has high end page layout features of the kind found in Adobe PageMaker, QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign.

It can also create animated and interactive PDF presentations and forms. Example uses include writing small newspapers, brochures, newsletters, posters and books.

Anyways , to install scribus type the following command in the terminal (Application ->Accessories -> Terminal )

sudo aptitude install scribus
and after completing above step launch scribus by typing "scribus" in terminal window.
Scribus on Ubuntu

7. Downloader For X

Downloader for X is a nice download manager that allows downloading files from Internet , pausing them and downloading them later . It also supports splitting file into number of segments so that files could be downloaded quickly . However one thing that i didn't like about is it's interface is somewhat difficult as compared to some of the download manager available on Windows.

Anyways to install " Downloader for X " type the following command in the terminal window.

¨sudo aptitude install d4x "

After installation is over launch ¨Downloader for X¨ by typing ¨d4x¨ in the terminal window , or by going to (Applications-> Internet -> Downloader for X )

This is how Downloader for X looks

Google Desktop

Google Desktop allows one to full text search of a user's e-mail, computer files, music, photos, chat, and Web pages viewed,OpenOffice documents , PDF files and more .

Now similar tools already existed on Linux like beagle (supported by novell ) , meta tracker etc . However Google Desktop search is not based on any of these tools and uses its proprietary algorithms to search for files on the computer ,also being 1.0 release and more stable then these products it could be preferred over tools like beagle .

To install type the following command in the terminal window : -



sudo bash

Now after completing above steps to install Google Desktop Search type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get update


sudo apt-get install google-desktop-linux

After completing above step logout of gnome session and relogin you would find the following dialog window

select the appropriate option : -

Now after choosing appropriate option you would find Google Desktop icon in the bar at the top of the screen , now it would automatically scan and index files on computer and store it in local database which could be searched using web browser .

9. Google Picasa

Google Picasa is an extremely professional good looking photo management application available on Windows ,Linux and Mac OS (??) . Now Google Picasa has a number of features that many photo management software on Linux dont have further Google Picasa looks very user friendly as compared to similar open source application available on linux . Now Google Picasa for Linux is not a native linux application but runs on Linux thru application layer called wine which allows many windows application to run flawlessly on Linux.

Now to install Google - Picasa type the following command in the terminal window

sudo dpkg -i picasa_2.2.2820-5_i386.deb
After completing above step launch Google Picasa from

Some Tips to consider before running picasa (taken from google picasa website )


  • If you use NFS, when Picasa first starts, tell it to scan just your desktop! Otherwise Picasa gets real slow while it scans all your NFS directories!
  • To get Picasa to see pictures on your hard drive, click "File / Add Folder" (NOT "Import").
  • When adding a folder to Picasa, the default action is to remove the folder from Picasa. You have to actively choose Scan once or Scan always.
  • Picasa is not supported over remote X connections.

10. Google Earth

To install Google Earth type the following command in the Terminal Window (Application->Accessories -> Terminal ),keep in mind that googleearth is downloaded from Medibuntu repositories and not Ubuntu hence be sure you have activated the repositories correctly as described in first step of this article.

¨sudo aptitude install googleearth"

After downloading is over you will get a screen like this press ¨Yes¨ to accept the license agreement and complete software installation.

Now you can launch Google Earth from (Application -> Internet -> Google Earth)

A Picture of Google Earth Running on linux

Installing gdesklets

gdesklets gives user a collection of impressive widgets that can be placed on desktop this is similar to feature available on Windows Vista and Mac OS X , it does provide quite a good look to the desktop.

To install gdesklets issue the following command at the command line

sudo apt-get install -y gdesklets
after installation go to (System -> Preferences -> Sessions) There go to Start up program and add gdesklets shell , now every time gnome loads up you should see your gdesklets on the desktop.

This is how my desktop looked like with all the desklets (Widgets )

12. Installing MPlayer with all codecs and dvd playing support

*This step requires Medibuntu repositories

MPlayer is one of the most popular media player available on linux , it supports playing all the major audio/video file formats . With w32codecs and libdvdcss2 it plays all the major audio/video format,however w32codecs has dll files from windows operating system hence its not available on the ubuntu official repositories and needs to be downloaded from the mediubuntu repositories.

To install MPlayer with all codecs type in the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install mplayer


sudo apt-get install w32codecs libdvdcss2

After completing above steps you could launch MPlayer by typing in gmplayer in the terminal window or from (Application -> Sound & Video -> MPlayer Movie Player )

Quod Libet : -

Quod Libet is an extremely versatile music player based on GTK+ that is extendible via plugins , has a rich feature set and has really unique feature of building playlist by searching for particular kind of music files based on search terms or regular expression . It has been programmed in Python programming language and hence it's plugin are also created in Python. A number of plugins are available including ones that help in copying songs to digital audio players , plugin , advanced editing features and many more .

Quod Libet uses GStreamer framework of GNOME to play audio files and hence integrates quite well the the GNOME desktop environment , also audio format supported would be same as the one supported by GStreamer so you may want to install mp3 support since by default many linux distributions these days dont come with mp3 support installed.

To install Quod Libet type the following command in the Terminal Window : -

sudo apt-get install quodlibet
and after completing above step launch quod-libet from (Application -> Sound & Video -> Quod Libet )

Quod Libet Website : -

13. RealPlayer

Realplayer is one of the most popular cross platform media player available on Windows,Linux , Mac OS and a number of other platform . RealPlayer plays popular .rm ,rmvb,.mp3 and other media formats.

To install RealPlayer first download RealPlayer10GOLD.bin file from the following website assuming you have downloaded it to your home directory .

After downloading the file go to the directory where you have downloaded the file in terminal window and type

After installation is over type

¨chmod +x RealPlayer10GOLD.bin¨


¨sudo ./RealPlayer10GOLD.bin¨

for installation to begin . Follow the instructions as presented to complete installation .

After installation is over you can launch Real Player from (Application -> Sound & Video -> Real Player 10 ).

Real Player for Linux

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop ,
(C) 2007 , Ambuj Varshney

PART BELOW IS AN OLDER ARTICLE (Orignal one i had written sometimes back for Ubuntu 6.10)

1. Enabling/Adding Extra Repositories
Ubuntu comes by default with only some of the repositories enabled because of licensing issue since downloading certain codecs and apps may be illegal in some countries so you have to enable these repositories/add new repositories to enable installation of these packages.

To enable new repositories go to (System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager ) , type in the root password .Then Go to (Settings -> Repositories ), there enable all the check-boxes to enable all the repositories you need .

Also for installing some apps extra repositories are needed since they are not in the default repositories so go to third Party and add the following there

deb edgy main main-all
deb edgy main main-all

This repositories below is for Multimedia files and stuff above was for ntfs-3g you can use any one of the above since they are mirrors.

deb edgy-seveas all

IMPORTANT: Do not press reload button now in synaptic package manager type first following command in the terminal to install the GPG keys.

After doing this exit Synaptic Package Manager go to (
Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type the following command to import GPG keys .

wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -

wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -

After doing this your system should be ready for installing extra application. Type the

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

at terminal to start adding data from the repositories.

2. Installing ntfs-3g

ntfs-3g this is necessary if you have a ntfs drive in your computer ( Usually Windows XP installs on NTFS drive) and you want to read and write data to the drive you have to install this .

This can be installed as following type the following at the command prompt

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

sudo apt-get install ntfs-config

Then type the following command

gksu ntfs-config

This is automatic configuration of ntfs-3g , enable read , write support and it should be configured.

these commands would back up fstab file if configuration goes wrong.

sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
gksu gedit /etc/fstab

Now one more thing you want your windows (NTFS) drive to be mounted automatically add the following entries to /etc/fstab
/dev/ /media/ ntfs-3g defaults,locale=en_US.utf8 0 0

Where /dev/partition is the partition which is NTFS drive , in my case /dev/hda1
/media/ this is just the directory you want to use as a mount point where windows drive would be mounted , you can very well use any drive you like.

now Restart ubuntu your windows partition should be working well.

3. Making Windows see your Linux partition

Windows XP lacks support for reading and writing files to Linux file system however external utilities like free Ext2 File system for windows allows Windows XP to read and write files to a Ext2 , Ext3 file system however ReiserFS file system is not supported .

You can get Ext2 file system for windows at the following link : -

4. Installing flash-plugin

Macromedia Flash player is not installed by default but since we would be surely needing it while browing the net , installing it is necessary
it can be installed by following command

sudo apt-get install -y flashplugin-nonfree

5. Installing Microsoft True Type Fonts

If you are making a jump from windows to ubuntu you would surely miss the true type fonts that Windows uses , since Microsoft has released them free so they can be installed without a hitch in ubuntu (Though not distributed with Ubuntu) .

sudo apt-get install -y msttcorefonts

6. Installing unrar

RAR is one of the very widely used archives on Windows , however unrar tool to decompress RAR is not shipped with distribution and has ti be installed manually.

sudo apt-get -y install unrar

7. Installing mpg123

mpg123 is a very nice command line based mp3 player that can play mp3 files even on a slow processor based computer , further installing this provides a way of playing mp3 files from within the nautilus file manager . Hence i recommend installing mpg123

sudo apt-get install -y mpg123

8. Installing Adobe Reader

Though ubuntu comes with default evince reader for viewing pdf files , but i am sure you would like to use more complete version of pdf reader Adobe Reader 7.0 which is quiet professional and
more robust , the Linux version of Adobe Reader 8.0 has not been released but the version 7.0 is available and could be downloaded from the following website : -

9. Installing DVD playback support

Now this is a contentious issue , in some countries playing DVD files through DEcss is illegal so use it at your own will , anyways to enable dvd playback issue the following command at the command line : -

sudo aptitude install libdvdcss2

Note : the above commands would only work if you have added the repositories i had mentioned before the Seveas repositories.

However if you do not have these Repositories installed issue the following command to install the DVD playback support : -

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/./

10 . Installing the extra multimedia codecs,players

Now you would surely want to install all the codecs for playing various media files and the players primarily xine,vlc,mplayer issue the following commands to install the multimedia codecs.

sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-pitfdll gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-gl gstreamer0.10-plugins-base gstreamer0.10-plugins-good gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse libxine-extracodecs w32codecs
vlc mplayer

This command would install most of the codecs for gstreamer multimedia architecture and vlc media player and Mplayer , as well as the dll files codec (w32codecs) for decoding various files whoose open source decoder are not available.

11. Updating the system

After installing Ubuntu you would surely like to update the system so that all the packages on the system are up to date to new version of the software .
It can be done by following steps , go to (System > Administration > Update Manager)
Now press the Check button and then Install updates to start the installation of updates to the ubuntu system.

12 . Installing beagle

Now Ubuntu does not come with beagle pre-installed maybe because it is still not a final 1.0 release still it is very nice and efficient for searching files and directories on Linux providing features similar to Google Desktop Search and Mac OS Spotlight anyways to install beagle issue the following command at command line :

sudo apt-get install -y beagle

13. Installing gdesklets

gdesklets gives user a collection of impressive widgets that can be placed on desktop this is similar to feature available on Windows Vista and Mac OS X , it does provide quite a good look to the desktop.

To install gdesklets issue the following command at the command line

sudo apt-get install -y gdesklets
after installation go to (System -> Preferences -> Sessions) There go to Start up program and add gdesklets shell , now every time gnome loads up you should see your gdesklets on the desktop.

This is how my desktop looked like with all the desklets (Widgets )

Late additions:-
If you find above steps complicated and would like to do it simple way try EasyUbuntu described below , since Automatix have not been well received by Ubuntu Developers and is somehwhat similar in features to EasyUbuntu i am describing EasyUbuntu only.

EasyUbuntu is a community maintained script that provides a easy way of installing most of the codecs , applications ,tweaks not included in official ubuntu installation. Initially there were fears that attracted a lot of negative publicity to the EasyUbuntu script that is it forces application installations and modifies systems sources.list however according to official EasyUbuntu website these problems have been corrected .

Some of the packages it installs include following : -
(Note : taken from official EasyUbuntu Website )


  • Enhance video player: Install a better multimedia backend (totem-xine replace totem-gstreamer)
  • Free Codecs: Add Support for playing mp3 and other non-free formats
  • Binary Codecs: Add support for proprietary video and audio formats (w32codecs) (only x86)
  • libdvdcss: Read commercial and encrypted DVDs
  • MIDI: Add support for playing midi files


  • Flash: Enable the Macromedia Flash plugin (only x86)
  • Java: Enable the Java plugin (Sun Java for x86, amd64) (IBM java for ppc)
  • Videos: Enable viewing videos embedded in webpages


  • RAR: extract and create RAR archives
  • ACE: extract ACE archives
  • 7-Zip: Extract 7-Zip archives


  • Repository list: Main, Universe, Multiverse and PLF (replace your previous sources.list)
  • Fonts: Install Microsoft and other nice fonts
  • DMA: Enable Direct Memory Access to improve DVD reading (breezy)
  • Nvidia: install the official driver to enable 3D on Nvidia graphics cards
  • ATI: install the official driver to enable 3D on ATI graphics cards

Voice Over IP

  • Wengo: a free Voice Over IP software (available in dapper)
  • Skype: the most popular VoIP software (only x86)

Installation : -

To install EasyUbuntu first download the Ubuntu package from the following link:

now go to (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal) and go to the directory where you have downloaded the debian package of EasyUbuntu and issue the following command to install EasyUbuntu : -

sudo dpkg -i easyubuntu_latest.deb

after completeion of the above process issue the following command in terminal

sudo wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Now EasyUbuntu should be set up for installation of packages .

Go to (Applications -> System tools -> EasyUbuntu ) to launch EasyUbuntu , beyond this the applications interface is quite easy for beginner and one can easily install packages without much help.

Automatix is another community maintained script , similar to EasyUbuntu simplifies the installation of the commonly used codec(Mp3,Video formats, Flash 9 and more ),applications(like Google Earth,Picassa,VMWare Player and more) there has been both positive and negative things said about Automatix , personally i have not used it but i have heard a lot more positives than negatives in using Automatix ,However German version (not officially supported by the Automatix team) has some serious issues currently: removes its own files instead of using the packaging system. uses apt-get --force and --assume-yes anyways some of the programs and is not officially supported by Automatix team.

However Automatix has received some serious comments from Ubuntu Community which have criticized it since it makes Upgrading Ubuntu difficult since it adds it own repos.

Ubuntu CTO Matt Zimmerman said "I cannot recommend the use of this program, and systems where it has been used cannot be supported with a clean and official upgrade path. , and Some individual Ubuntu developers blamed Automatix 1 for breaking updates from Dapper to Edgy

So i am not describing it here .

Article written by : -
Ambuj Varshney
For Linux On Desktop (
(C) 2007 Linux on Desktop

IMPORTANT : I will not be responsible for any loss of data suffered by you by using the commands in this article i have tried to make the document as correct according to my knowledge further i have tried removing certain things and improved certain points based on comments of users . If you have anything to say/improve/correct in article please comment .

Also about repositories , well what i have added was from reputed sources first 3 were of ntfs-3g now of which one was not working i have removed the link now for remaining links well you can go to official website of ntfs-3g( There if you click on Ubuntu it takes you to a page of Ubuntu Forums describing method for installing ntfs-3g( since the forum topic has been well received and has been referred by the offical ntfs-3g site so i linked it.

Also about the last repositories link it is of official ubuntu Netherlands site so should not be a problem.

About automatix2 and easybuntu well they can simplify the job mentioned here but i decided to follow a different approach and i have mentioned here , you are welcome to try them out and maybe i would review them also later.

Thank You

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Using Archives on Linux


Archives like tar,gzip,bzip2,rar,zip pack in a number of files in a single archive and further compresses them using various algorithms thus making the files occupy much less space as compared to original files. Linux provides a number of options for compressing the file , in the article we look at various options available under Linux and using them describing the command line tools and graphical front-ends like Ark and File-roller.

gzip (GNU Zip)

gzip can be used for compressing a single file , it is not meant for compressing entire directories as other file formats do . The default extension used bu gzip archives is (.gz) .

gzip filename.ext

This would create a file name filename.gz and replace the existing filename.ext file with filename.ext.gz file which is compressed gzip archive , the gzip command retains the file's attributes the modification,time stamp, access etc.

The compression level of the file can be varied by using options from 1 to 9 while compressing a file

gzip -1 filename.ext
would compress the file quicker but with less compression.

gzip -9 filename.ext
would compress the file slower but with more compression.

the default compression level is 6.

The file size of compressed gzip archive would depend on the original file format it would do well with a non - archived file such as txt,doc,bmp etc but would fair poorly with JPG , PNG etc which are already compressed by some algorithm.

The gzipped file can be decompressed by using the gzip -d or gunzip command at the command line.

the default file extension used by gzip archives is .gz if you want to use a different file extension it could be done by using the -S option
example : gzip -S .x filename.ext would create a archive by the name of filename.ext.x

tar ( Tape archiver )

The tar program combines a number of files and directory in a single file which then can be compressed using a gzip or bzip2 program to reduce it's file size.

tar -cvf file.tar file1 file2 file3 file4
This would create a tar archive combining the file1 file2 and file3 into a single file the archive have the same name as the file1 since we have specified the -f option which makes tar use the first option as the filename of the archive , -c tells the tar program to create a archive and -v option displays all the background information on the screen.

tar -cvf file.tar file1.tar file/
This command would create a archive named file.tar with file1.tar and file subdirectory as the content of the archive .

tar -cvzf file.tar.gz file1 file2 file3 file/
This command would create a tar file consisting of the files and directory specified and then the file is compressed using the gzip program, to create a final archive file.tar.gz.

tar -cvjf file.tar.bz2 file1 file2 file3 file/
This command would create a tar file consisting of the files and directory specified and then the file is compressed using the bzip2 program, to create a final archive file.tar.bz2

tar -xvf file.tar
This command would extract all the files contained in the tar file file.tar

tar -xvjf file.tar.bz2
This command would extract all the files contained in the file file.tar.bz2 , it would first call the bzip2 program to extract the file.tar and the call tar to extract the file.tar and it's content.

tar -xvzf file.tar.gz
This command would extract all the files contained in the file.tar.gz , it would first call the gzip program to extract the file.tar and then call tar to extract file.tar and it's content.

If you have created the file.tar but want to add some file(s) later it can be done using the following command and using the -rf option .
tar -rf file.tar file(s)


The bzip2 is similar to gzip program but compresses file better and more effectively as compared to gzip program . The default extension used by bzip2 program is (.bz2) , the usage of bzip2 is very similar to the gzip program but has some additional options , which are described here .

bzip2 -k filename.ext
This command would create a archive of the filename.ext but would also keep a copy of the original file unlike gzip which replaces existing file with the the new archive file.

the bzip2 program also has different compression level ranging from 1 -least to 9-maximum . which can be set by using syntax like : bzip2 -1 filename.ext

bzip2 archives can be extracted by using the bzip2 -d option or by using the program bunzip2 .


RAR is another popular archive used both on windows and Linux platform , RAR archiver is available for both Linux and windows and could be obtained at The rar archives end with extension .rar and became quiet famous because of high compression ratios and impressive features .

It is not installed by default with most Linux distribution since it is neither open source nor free software and because of license issues.

to extract file type the following commands assuming rar file is in the /usr/bin folder or it's path has been defined in environment variables .

rar e filename .rar

To extract a particular file use the following command

rar e filename.rar file-to-be-extracted
Where filename.rar is the file you are interested in extracting .

To archive all the files and directory in the presently working directory type the following command

rar a file
where file is the name of archive you want to create .

If the file already exists then the new files are appended / added to the existing archive file and previous content of the archive is not deleted and if file with same name as one is being added exists then it is over-written in the archive.

To archive files and directory of a particular directory type the following command

rar a file /path-to-directory-you-want-to-archive

To view the list of files in the archive

rar l archive.rar or rar v archive.rar
if RAR cannot extract file properly you can repair the archive file with command

rar r archive.rar


zip is one of the most popular file formats used for creating compressed files in Windows/DOS , a number of programs are available for creating zip files popular one being Info-zip and PKZIP . Since programs for handling zip files are widely available on all platforms so zip is most suitable file format for archives for sharing files between platforms.

zip a archive file-to-be-archived
to compress a file use the following command

zip -R archive
This command would archive the entire contents of the current directory in the file archive

zip -r archive directory
This command would archive entire contents of directory including all the subdirectories in filenamed archive

If you try to make archive of same name a already existing archive then zip would add the files you are specifying int the existing archive preserving the files already existing in the archive.

unzip archive -d directory-location
This command would extract the contents of archive into the directory directory-location.

zip -t archive
This command would test the integrity of zip file.

You can get zip programs from the following links :

PKZip : :

.lzh,.lha Archives : -

LHA was created by Haruyasu Yoshizaki in 1988 and orignally named LHarc which was later renamed to LHA , LHA is not widely used now but it was used by id Software to compress installation file of game Doom. It is still somewhat used in Japan .

lha e archive.lzh
This command would extract the contents of the archive.lzh in the current directory.

lha ew = where-to-extract archive.lzh

This command would extract the content of archive.lzh in the directory where-to-extract

lha a archive-name file
This command would compress the file into archive with name archive-name , extension .lzh is automatically added.

If the archive already exists then the command would simply add the file to existing archive.

lha a archive directory
This command would compress all the files and sub-directories in the directory to a archive.lzh
For adding specific files wild cards can be used.

lha l archive.lzh
This command would list the content of archive

lha t archive.lzh
This command tests the integrity of archive.

The lha program can be obtained from :


File-Roller is default application used for using archives on Gnome Desktop environment , File-roller is not complete archiving program but provides a front-end for the command line archive tools . It's interface may not be as good as WinZip or Winrar on Windows platform but nonetheless it's quiet usefull for newbies who do not know the command line tools ,also since it integrates well with nautilus making life easy on desktop.

To create a archive go Archive -> New or alternatively type + N , type the name of archive and choose the type of archive you want to create .
After creating archive add files and folder to the newly created archive by going to Edit -> Add files or Edit -> Add folder and select the files and folder you want to add to archive.

To extract archive open file-roller go to Archive -> Open select the filename you want to open . Then after opening archive go to Archive -> Extract and select folder you want to extract files into.


ark is default application used for using archives on KDE Desktop environment , ark is not complete archiving program but provides a front-end for the command line archive tools . It's interface may not be as good as WinZip or Winrar on Windows platform but nonetheless it's quiet useful for newbies who do not know the command line tools ,also since it integrates well with konqueror making life easy on desktop. ark and file-roller are quiet similar since both of them are only front-ends to command line tools and dosent add much to them.

To create a archive go Archive -> New or alternatively type + N ,or choose from tool bar at top , type the name of archive and choose the type of archive you want to create .

After creating archive add files and folder to the newly created archive by going to Edit -> Add files or Edit -> Add folder and select the files and folder you want to add to archive.

To extract archive open ark go to Archive -> Open select the filename you want to open . Then after opening archive go to Archive -> Extract and select folder you want to extract files into.

Article written by Ambuj Varshney

For Linux On Desktop (

Saturday, February 17, 2007

DreamLinux 2.2 : Review - A Nice Linux based OS based on XFCE

DREAMLINUX : not quite a dream but still good

Number of Linux distributions just keeps on increasing, every now and then a new distro pops up claiming to be different from other but most of them are remarkably similar in features . However Dreamlinux was one distro I was highly impressed with to start with the distribution was based on XFCE as it's default desktop environment which was a very welcome change considering that Gnome and KDE are resource hungry and do make your old hard-ware slow. It was nice to see a Linux distribution based on XFCE .There are few Linux Distribution based on XFCE and the most notable is Xubuntu.

I tested DreamLinux 2.2 Multimedia Edition on my IBM Thinkpad(Cel 1.4 Ghz , 256 MB RAM ) , the distribution was LIVE CD on booting the CD-ROM the grub menu provided a number of options for booting the distribution , it was the largest set of options i have seen for any distribution .

DreamLinux Booting Up

I chose the default option the system booted in less than a minute the Graphics looked really polished . The System booted in less than a minute , and this was how the desktop looked .

The most notable feature when you first boot into DreamLinux was the Mac OS like Dock Bar at the bottom which did provide a nice feel to the desktop.

Since DreamLinux claims to be a Linux Multimedia Distribution hence there were a number of tools for playing multimedia files . For playing video files GXine (Based on Xine) and Mplayer were installed by default . For Playing Audio files XMMS was installed and yes it did play MP3 files . The small XMMS player at top right corner of screen was really nice .

The Flash Player 9 was installed by default , I feel a lot of distributions should come with Flash preinstalled it does give a more finished look to distribution for Linux Newbies as Flash has now more or less become a important part of Internet browsing experience.

Firefox 1.5.07 was installed by default as Default Web Browser, now they could add opera also.

On thing i disliked was the huge size of icons , the icons are really huge with odd spacing,maybe DreamLinux team would like to correct this.

The software installed included Evince for viewing pdf files , GIMP(For Editing Images) , OpenOffice (Office Suite) , There was aMSN messenger , Bittornado for downloading torrent files , XFCE 4.4 the default desktop enviornment it is running ,XaraLX,Inkspace for vector Graphics , For Desktop Publishing Scribus is installed , GnomeBaker for Burning CD . Wine is also installed for running some windows applications .
Xara LX(vector Graphics Software)

The root account could be used by typing sudo at the terminal similar to what Ubuntu does by default , root account was not activated by default .

Since tools for Writing into NTFS drives was installed by default i did not have any noticeable problem in writing to my windows partition, the distribution is based on Morphix and is Debian based so a number of repositories could be used for installing various application.

For accessing other partitions you have to go to Computer and mount the appropriate partitions they are not mounted by default.

Dream Linux comes with DCP(DreamLinux Control Panel ) for various configuration tools / utilities .

Dream Linux Control Panel

Speed Wise DreamLinux works like a charm being based on less resource hungry XFCE . Though I had some problem installing DreamLinux onto harddisk but overall DreamLinux is really good Linux Distro for someone new to Linux with a old hardware it works really well for playing Audio/Video files and surfing the Internet and being based on XFCE and stable Debian platform is another plus. Overall you could give this distro a try it might not be a OS you have Dreamed about but still is quite functional and since can work as a LIVE CD mode so you should have no problem trying it out.

get Dream Linux Here : -
DistroWatch DreamLinux page : -

Article by : -
Ambuj Varshney
For Linux On Desktop (
(C) 2007 Ambuj Varshney

Friday, February 16, 2007

Eleven Really usefull Linux Tips


1. Making linux files and folder unalterable : -

Suppose one has a folder/file 'linux' and you want to make it unalterable so that it does not get deleted mistakenly. This can be done with the following command

chattr -R +i [Replace this with the folder address , in this case it is /home/ambuj/linux]
After completeing the step the folder becomes unalterable and even the superuser - ' root' cannot delete the folder.

Now if you again want to delete the folder it can be done first by removing these attributes from the folder

chattr -R -i [ Folder address, /home/ambuj/linux in this case ]
Now the folder can be removed.

2. Resetting user password

There are often case when some new user forgets his/her password , this password can be reset by the root user
using command

passwd [name of user]

this will ask for new user password of the user.

3. Recovering lost root password

if one has lost his root/superuser password , then the password can be easily be reset to a new password using the following steps : -

If you have grub installed as a boot manager at the boot screen type 'e' to enter into edit mode select the kernel you want to load and add 'single' at the end . Exit the edit mode and boot into the kernel by typing the b mode . this will enter the user into a single user mode where from one can change the root password by typing the command : -


if you have LILO installed as boot manager then

type linux single at boot prompt. to boot into a single super user mode .

after booting into the single superuser mode type

passwd to reset the password.

However if you are running graphical LILO then enter the text boot: prompt by typing Ctrl + X and repeat the above steps.

4. Playing mp3 files at command line

mpg123 is command line based audio player that forms the backbone of number of graphically available Audio players , it is one of the most efficient player on the Linux platform and can play mp3 files on as low hardware specs as a 120Mhz Pentium Processor based computer . A similar command line application is mpg321 that can be used for playing mp3 files.

mpg123 or mpg321 file name - To play mp3 file

Ctrl + C - This skips to next track

Typing Ctrl + C Twice - quits the application

mpg123 -z *.mp3 : - Command would play all the mp3 files in the directory with a shuffled play-list.

mpg123 -w filename.wav filename.mp3 :- This command would convert the mp3 file to wav file , whic can then be used for burning on to cd to make audio cd.

However if your audio files/file is located in some location in sub-folders and u don't know exact location then following command can be used

mpg123 $ (find -name "Filename")

5. Running any application with keystrokes in Metacity(Gnome)

In Gnome it is very easy to run any program you want with a keystroke , you can assign any program to a keystroke and the program would launch when you type those keystrokes. For Example : if you assign + F for File Roller (Archive Manager) everytime you press this File Roller application would open.

To do this first launch gconf-editor

Now open apps -> metacity -> global keybinding

Now choose the keystroke you want to associate command with for example chose run_command_1 and type the value +(KeyStroke) where KeyStroke is the KeyStroke you want to associate the command with.

After doing this go to apps -> metacity -> keybinding_command and chose the command you have set the value , and put the name of command you want to execute as the value of the command . Now exit the gconf-editor , the KeyStroke should have been properly adjusted now when you type the selected KeyStroke your selected command is executed.

6. Creating symbolic links in linux

Symbolic links if you have used windows is way of making short cuts in linux , now using a symbolic link you can refer to any file or directory by another file name in different directory .

To create symbolic links : -
ln -s [Path of script , folder file] [path where to create shortcut/name of shortcut]

example : to create symbolic link of folder /windows type ln -s /windows /home/amXXX/win
Creates link of folder /windows at /home/amXXX with name win.

7. Creating Directories and subdirectories quickly

Directories and sub-directories can be created quickly with a single statement saving some of your time. For example if you want to create the following directory structure

Temp -> a ->(b -> c) , d->(e->f->g),h,i,j

you can do this with the following commands

mkdir temp
cd a
mkdir b
mkdir c
........ (and so on)

or you can reduce the number of commands typed by using a statement like this : -

mkdir -p Temp/{a/b/c,d/e/f/g,h,i,j}

This would create all the directories in single line without you having to type a lot of mkdir and chdir.

8. Extracting a archive in a particular directory

If you want to extract a particular archive in a particular directory you don't have to move the archive to that particular directory and chdir to that directory and extract the archive this can be done easily by using command like this : -

Example : to extract file newfile.tar.gz to directory Temp/a/b use following command

tar xvf -C Temp/a/b newfile.tar.gz

9. Viewing listing of files in particular directory page wise

If you have a really long file list in a particular directory you can view the files page wise by piping the output ls to more command.

ls -l | more would view the content of the directory page-wise.

10. Turning off annoying PC Speaker Beep

If you are really annoyed by the beep computer produces using the PC speaker you can turn it off using the following command : -

rmmod pcspkr

To re-enable the PC Speaker beep use the following command

modprobe pcspkr

11. Changing the background of nautilus file manager

Nautilus file manager by default doesn't provide a way of changing the background of file manager , how ever if you want to set the background of nautilus file manager to something different say pic.jpg file this can be easily done by the following command .

gconftool-2 /apps/nautilus/preferences/background_set -t bool -s true

gconftool-2 /apps/nautilus/preferences/background_filename -t string \-s {Image name with path}