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Monday, March 30, 2009

Easily Convert and Encode videos with Handbrake

Handbrake has been one of the more user friendly tools available on Windows and Linux for ripping DVD's and converting them to mp4 format. However , handbrake has been available on Linux as a command line application and did not support converting videos to lets say a format that could be easily played on Portable Meda Players. Handbrake with version 0.9.3 on Linux is available with a GTK+ based graphical frontend and supports a number of different video formats as source, allowing one to convert these video formats into format suitable to be played on your PMP's like Apple iPod.

Installing HandBrake

It is extremely easy to install HandBrake on Ubuntu 8.10 , HandBrake provides easily installable .deb file for Ubuntu 8.10. To install HandBrake issue the following command in the terminal window (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal)

sudo dpkg -i HandBrake-0.9.3-Ubuntu_GUI_i386.deb
This should install HandBrake onto your system , you can launch HandBrake from (Applications -> Sound & Video -> HandBrake ).

Using Handbrake

The first time you launch Handbrake you should see a number of predefined presets on right hand side of the Window , allowing you to easily configure Handbrake to convert videos to format capable of being played on number of devices.

Once you have selected the device you want to convert video for, configure/tweak the settings further and select source to select the source video which you would like to convert to suitable format, Also select the destination where you would like to save the video. Now , press Start button to start encoding the video.
Encoding in Progress

Handbrake also supports queues allowing you to put number of files for conversion into the queue and automating the conversion proces. Handbrake offers a number of options and features which cannot be fully described in a short article like this. So , What are you waiting for ? Download and Test Handbrake today.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scan for Viruses under Linux with AVG Free Antivirus

Most of us run multiple Operating Systems on our PC's and are connected to LAN with machines running different Operating Systems. Now, Linux even though is sort of immune to viruses (there are few viruses, and Linux can get infected ) most of Desktop Linux users don't need Anti virus tool, but there are people who run Windows and there are umpteen number of Viruses, Worms and Trojans for Windows and removing them can be difficult.

Running Antivirus tool on Linux can be especially helpful in such cases , searching and removing viruses from a different Operating System would definitely help speed up the process and prevent Viruses from interfering with AntiVirus's scan process, also for PC's connected to LAN, Anti virus for Linux could detect any virus laden file transfer prompting one to take appropriate action and prevent virus from spreading to other PC's on the LAN.

There are couple of AntiVirus tool available on Linux, and in this article I would look into AVG Free Antivirus, which is one of the most user friendly of the Lot and offers a simple , intuitive interface.

Installing AVG Free Antivirus on Ubuntu

AVG provides a debian package along with packages for other distributions that you can download from this site , Or if you are on Ubuntu you can issue the following command in the Terminal (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal ) window to install AVG Free Antivirus.

sudo dpkg -i avg75fld-r51-a1243.i386.deb
Finally , Once you have install AVG Free launch it's GUI Frontend from (Applications -> Accessories -> AVG for Linux Workstation ).

AVG Antivirus Linux Frontend

The AVG Free version that you have downloaded and installed contains Old Virus definitions and needs to be updated which you can easily do by clicking on the Update button.
AVG Antivirus Updating itself

Now, once AVG has updated itself you can start scanning your drive for Viruses. You might though like to configure few of AVG Antivirus settings which you can do easily from (Service -> Program Settings ).
Different AVG Antivirus settings

To scan click on the Test button and select the folder/drive you want to scan. However , one thing I disliked about AVG Free anti virus was that it does not offer any option to remove scanned Viruses ( You would have to buy a commercial version of the AVG to enable removing of viruses). You would either have to go to the path and delete the infected file yourself or use some other Virus scanner on Windows to remove viruses. I looked into the manual for options to enable removing viruses or at least quarantining infected file and found we could do by modifying configuration file , I tried on my system but it sadly did not work.
Scanning for viruses , and final test result.

The Test result of Virus scan are stored with names of virus , date/time and location where virus was found stored in the database. The Test Result can be accessed by clicking on Test Result button in the front end of AVG.

Virus Scan test result archive

: Antivirus on Linux is not essential, still it is useful addition to your desktop arsenal especially if you are computer is part of a network with Windows computers. AVG Free though is limited with its lack of ability to disinfect virus laden files, still AVG Free is one of the most user friendly Antivirus solution available on the Linux platform.

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

Friday, March 13, 2009

Open Multiple Terminals in Single Window using Terminator

While programming I have often found myself switching between terminals, debugging and compiling program in one terminal , looking up man pages in other and modifying source code in the other. I have always wished somehow I could avoid this nuisance of switching and juggling between terminals . Terminator is an application that might just solve this problem.

Terminator allows you to open multiple terminal in a single window , each of these terminals are independent of other, and one can easily switch between these terminals by clicking on the terminal you want to use.

Terminator does not come pre-installed on Ubuntu, but is available in the repositories and can be easily installed by issuing the following command in the terminal window :
sudo apt-get install terminator

Once, Terminator is installed you can launch it from (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminator)

When you first launch Terminator , it looks like your normal Terminal window(by normal I mean without multiple terminals ). However , you can easily split this window into multiple terminals by either right clicking in the Terminator console and selecting one of the Split options or using the following shortcuts :
  • Ctrl-Shift-O: split horizontally.
  • Ctrl-Shift-E: split vertically.
  • Ctrl-Shift-Q: exit terminator.
Multiple Terminals in a Single Terminator Window

Terminator is an extremely useful application especially for programmers , or people who like typing in commands , using terminal and shell instead of using GUI.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Create Screencasts with recordMyDesktop

Screencasts are an important and user friendly way of demonstrating application capabilities and explaining them. Screencasts in lame man terms are video of desktop/application allowing you to demonstrate it's capabilities to people who might not be running the application or might not be running a computer at all.

Now , I have been working on an application for some time now I wanted to show it's features and capabilities to few of my friends but I was unwilling to share pre-alpha code with them. So , I decided to Screencast my application and share this Screencasted video with them. While searching for right Screencasting application , I discovered an extremely simple , small and functional application called recordMyDesktop.

recordMyDesktop is a command line application that allows you to record entire desktop , a portion of desktop or activities in a particular window as a (.ogv) file. However , since most people might find command line cryptic, there is also a graphical front-end to recordMyDesktop which is aptly called gtk-recordMyDesktop (GTK is the graphical toolkit it has been created with) which simplifies creating Screencasts.


To install recordMyDesktop and gtk-recordMyDesktop issue the following command in the terminal window(Application->Accessories->Terminal ).
sudo apt-get install recordMyDesktop

sudo apt-get install gtk-recordMyDesktop
Once , gtk-recordMyDesktop is installed you can launch it from (Applications-> Sound & Video -> gtk-recordMyDesktop ).


In the Upper Right Corner of the gtk-recordMyDesktop there are two slide-bars which allows you to tweak Sound and Video quality of the Screencasted video. The better the quality more file size your video will take. Under Advanced section of gtk-recordMyDesktop you can configure a number of trivial things like your default working directory , tweak Performance , tweak Sound etc.

Even though most of the options under Advanced section are self explanatory with helpful tool-tips , still I am describing Performance section here.
Frames Per Second : as the name suggest allows you to select number of screen shots you want recordMyDesktop to take per second. The more FPS the smoother your video will be and larger would be your file size.

Encode on the Fly : This Encodes the video simultaneously as gtk-recordMyDesktop records activities of your desktop , this would take bit more processing power, but if you have descent processor would save you time.

Zero Compression : If Encoding on the Fly is disabled and you have enabled Zero Compression the temporary file that is created before final encoding is done is not compressed , so this option would consume hard disk space if enabled.

Quick Subsampling : If enabled Screencasting video will take less processing power but this option can make your Screencasted video blurry.

Full Shots at every Frame : For recording 3d Windows or Composite Window Manager.

Once you have configured recordMyDesktop , you can start recording video. You have to select either a region which you want to record , by selecting from the " Thumbnail view of Desktop " in recordMyDesktop the region you would like to record or you can press Select Window button and click on any Window in the Thumbnail you would like to record.

Selecting the region of desktop to record

Once , you are done selecting the region click on record button to start recording Screencast. When you are done recording the Screencast press the toggle button in the task bar to stop recording.

gtk-recordMyDesktop would do some processing and you will get back your original window. Now, press Save As button and specify pathname and file name to save the screencasted video.

Conclusion : recordMyDesktop is an extremely powerful application that allows you to take Screencasts of your desktop easily, coupled with simple and easy to use and friendly frontend gtk-recordMyDesktop , it allows anyone to make user friendly Screencasts.

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

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Take and Manage Screenshots easily with Shutter

Shutter is a simple application that allows you to take, manage and store screen shots. One might ask, What is the need for a separate application to take screen shots when we can easily take screen shot using Print-screen. Shutter is a huge improvement over Print-screen approach , Shutter offers number of features and improvements over the conventional Print-screen approach.

Installing Shutter

To install shutter issue the following commands in the terminal (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal ) window. These commands would add repository of shutter to your local list of repositories and allow you to download and install shutter using apt-get command or synaptic package manager.

NOTE: The commands are for Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex only for other version of Ubuntu or Distributions see Shutter website

sudo echo "deb intrepid main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo echo "deb-src intrepid main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
and , finally
sudo apt-get update
Now , Once you are finished adding and updating repository data issue this command to install shutter on your computer.
sudo apt-get install shutter
Now you can launch Shutter from (Applications -> Accessories -> Shutter - Screenshot Tool ). First time you launch Shutter you will find a screen similar to one shown here.

Now , Shutter offers five different options for taking Screenshots which you can chose from (File -> New ) , these options are :
  • Selection : This allows you to take Screenshot of a particular section of the screen.
  • Full Screen : As the name suggests allows you to take screenshot of entire screen.
  • Window : This allows you to take Screenshot of a particular window
  • Section : Section allows you to take screenshot of particular part of Window or Screen. This is slighltly different from Selection as you dont have much control over the area you want to copy.
  • Web : This is probably the most interesting option , this option allows you to type in an URL and shutter would take screenshot of the webpage at that URL.

Trying to take screenshot of a website

Shutter Selection option for taking screenshot of user defined area of screen

I tried Web option on my Ubuntu installation but for some strange reason it did not work. I am not sure whether this is actually a bug in the application or something related to my system's configuration (as I am using proxy to access Internet).
Once you take screenshot each of the screenshots are opened as seperate tabs in Shutter.

Once you have taken Screenshot , you can perform basic editing on the Screenshot using built-in shutter DrawingTool it has a number of simple image editing tools like Pencil , Eraser , Rectangle , Ellipse , Text etc.

shutter drawingTool

Finally , Shutter comes with a number of plug-ins preloaded that allows you to add number of different effects yo your Screenshots like Grayscale , pdf export , soft edges , sepia etc.

Shutter Sepia Plugin and Different default plugins available in Shutter

File sharing Website configuration

Shutter also allows you to configure online photo sharing accounts enabling you to take screen shots and upload directly onto these photo sharing websites like Imageshack. However , as i was having problem connecting interent through Shutter I wasn't able to try this feature.

Conclusion : Shutter might not be a revolutionary desktop application but it can prove to be extremely useful for people like me who spend a lot of time taking screenshots of application. Shutter with extremely simple and user friendly interface should prove to be extremely useful tool in each bloggers arsenal.

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

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ubuntu Tweak 0.4.6: Easily Configure and Tweak your Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu Tweak a druid based application that allows you to configure various aspects of your Ubuntu Desktop easily and tweak number of settings, is out with new version. Ubuntu Tweak 0.4.6 introduces some new features and has number of important bug fixes. If you remember I had written a short write up about Ubuntu Tweak close to an year back and In this article I would try to divulge bit more details of Ubuntu Tweak.


Like most applications available on Ubuntu , it is relatively simple to install Ubuntu Tweak on your system. Open Terminal from (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) and issue the following command:


sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.4.6-1%7Eintrepid1_all.deb

Note: The above installation instructions are for Ubuntu 8.10 - Intrepid Ibex

Once you have installed Ubuntu Tweak , you can launch Ubuntu Tweak from Applications -> System Tools -> Ubuntu Tweak . The first time you launch Ubuntu Tweak you will be greeted with the following screen.

Now , In Ubuntu Tweak under Applications section there are a number of different features concerning applications on Ubuntu. One of the features is Add/Remove which allows you to install a number of popular desktop applications easily without using messy Synaptic Package manager or apt-get command.

Number of applications can be easily installed using Ubuntu Tweak

other options under Application section of Ubuntu Tweak are, Source Editor which allows you to easily add/remove repository from your system's config file, Third Party Sources which allows you to add various third party repositories and Package Cleaner which allows you to remove unneeded packages or remove downloaded packages from cache.

Note: for using most of these options you would have to unlock these features.

Unlock button to use these features

Next is Start Up section which has options Session Control and Startup. Session Control allows you to configure things like Splash Screen while Startup allows you to configure which applications you want to start after you log in.

Startup Programs

Desktop has option concerning UI of Gnome.It has Icons ,Windows, Gnome and Compiz Fusion options. Desktop allows you to configure which icon you want to show on desktop, whether you want Trash/Home Folder icon to appear on desktop etc.

allows you to configure different effects for Windows like Translucency, Mouse action and other Metacity options. Compiz Fusion allows you to tweak Compiz Fusion allowing you to configure things like whether you want Wobbly or Snapping Window effect enabled , or Simple Desktop Effects setting manager installed etc. Gnome has gnome related settings.
Different Compiz Fusion settings

Personal has options like Folders which allows you change location of default folder(don't change them unless you have valid reason this can leave your system in unstable state ) , Scripts allows you to add different nautilus scripts and Shortcuts allows you to configure different keyboard shortcuts.

Finally , System has as name suggests system related options which allow you to configure and tweak different part of your desktop. System has options File Type Manager , Nautilus , Power Management and Security. File Type Manager allows you to associate different file types with different applications.
File Type Manager

Nautilus option allows you to configure different things relating to Nautilus , Power Management allows you to configure different Power Manager related settings like whether you want to enable hibernation or sleep or whether you would like to disable Network Manager when computer sleeps. Finally , there is Security option which allows you to configure different simple System Security Related settings like whether you would like to have Printing, Lock Screen , Run Dialog or Print Setup disabled etc.

Conclusion : Ubuntu Tweak has definitely progressed and become more user friendly compared to previous version(0.3 to be exact) I tried close to an year back . Ubuntu Tweak is like Swiss Army Knife in hands of Ubuntu Newbie allowing one to easily configure different aspects of Ubuntu desktop without typing Cryptic commands.

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