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Monday, February 23, 2009

Make your USB Pendrive bootable under Ubuntu Linux

If you remember sometime back, I had written an article about making your pen-drive(memory disk) bootable using UNetBootin, Now while exploring Ubuntu 8.10 (yes I am still exploring it! ) I discovered an interesting feature that I missed while writing it's review. Ubuntu 8.10 comes preloaded with a tool that allows one to make Pen Drive bootable in a graphical manner easily.

Why would you want to boot from Pen drive ?, Firstly booting from USB Flash drive is extremely fast compared to Optical Drives,Secondly it gives you the convinience of taking your pen drive to any computer and loading your configuration of operating system, and finally you might(like me :( ) have non functional Optical Drive in which case Pen Drive is the only way of installing OS.

The tool we are taking about is housed under the Administration menu of the System section. To make a USB Flash Drive bootable we would need an ISO image(or Physical CD) of the Ubuntu 8.10 distribution (or any other distribution, haven't tried though) . To launch this tool go to (System -> Administration -> Create a USB startup disk ).

Now , If you already have Ubuntu CD in your drive , It should show or if you want to use ISO image click "Other" and select the ISO image.

Now, there are couple of options that you could adjust and are self explanatory. Once you are done configuring various options click on "Make Startup Disk" to start burning your ISO/CD onto USB Flash drive. Once, the operation is over enable boot from USB in your BIOS(or set boot order correctly with USB Flash drive on top of the boot order) and boot from your USB Pen drive.

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop Blog ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eleven Tools to make your Life simpler on Ubuntu

I have been over the past 3 years writing about all these nifty little tools and applications that makes your life on Ubuntu simple and better, also allowing you to configure your Ubuntu installation easily. I thought it would be useful if I could compile all these posts about tools and applications into one single post, and so here in this article I tell you about tools that help you do a number of simple (yet important) things on your Ubuntu installation.

1. APTonCD

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions )

Whenever you install applications via synaptic/apt-get/aptitude the corresponding Debian files are first downloaded ( /var/cache/apt/archives) then they are installed. APTonCD helps you create local repositories of these downloaded files along with all its dependencies on a CD/DVD, allowing you to install these packages locally on a different installation without connecting to Internet.

2. Cheese

Cheese is an open source GNOME application inspired by Photo Booth on MacOS X, and allows one to use WebCam for taking photos and recording videos. It has an intuitive interface and one of it's many features is allowing you to introduce fancy graphical effects into photos and videos.

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions )

3. PCMan Filemanager

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions )

PCMan File Manger is a lightweight alternative to nautilus and is extremely small and fast, it supports a number of features like Tabbed Browsing , Thumbnail view , Drag n Drop support, Clean and Simple interface etc.

4. USplashsmooth

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions )

USplashsmooth displays a progress bar that increases/decreases linearly and smoothly, showing you precisely the amount of time that is left for system to start or shut down similar to the taskbar that appears when Mac OS X loads , instead of jerky Progressbar of Ubuntu.

5. UNetbootin

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions)

Universal NetBoot Installer(UNetBootin) allows one to install a number of Linux distributions either on a USB Pen Drive or on a hard-disk partition. UNetBottin is available both on the Windows as well as the Linux platform. In the article linked, I have mentioned Windows version of UNetbootin.

6. CheckGmail

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions

CheckGmail is a simple and small tool that stays in your taskbar and whenever any new email comes into your GMail mailbox, it shows a small notification window clicking on which opens the browser taking you to that email.

7. Ubuntu Tweak

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions

Ubuntu Tweak allows one to easily configure Ubuntu using wizard based easy to use interface, which otherwise might take a number of cryptic commands and modification to config file to do so.

8. GSmartControl

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions

smartctl is a tool that comes with smartmontools package and enables one to control and monitor storage systems using the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology System (SMART) built into most modern ATA and SCSI hard-disks. This allows one to access the state of hard disk , it's level of degradation and monitor other parameters of hard disk, in addition to this it allows one to perform test to acertain this information. GSmartControl is a GUI frontend of this tool and allows one to find this information in a simplified way.

9. UTube Ripper

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions)

UTube Ripper is a gambas2(gambas is somewhat like Visual Basic available on the Windows platform allowing easy creation of GUI based application with minimal coding in basic styled language) based application that allows one to easily download and convert videos into different formats from YouTube.

10. View and Convert CHM Files

(Covered Here in detail with installation Instructions)

CHM or Microsoft compiled HTML Help is a format developed by Microsoft for online help. Most of the documentation in Windows platform is in chm format, also most of the ebooks available on the internet is either available in the chm file format or pdf file format. In the tutorial I describe some of the tools available on linux to view CHM files.

Converting CHM Files to PDF : Here

11. gtk-pod

(Here tutorial on converting video files to iPod format and using gtk-pod )

gtk-pod is a simple application that allows easy copying of audio and video files onto ipod. It has an extremely simple interface (though it lacks functionlities of itunes) and allows one to manage ipod as well.

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
(C) 2009 , For Linux On Desktop Blog (