Linux Desktop Hacks


The KDE and Gnome desktops have developed into mature operating environments. These technologies not only act as interfaces between the user, the powerful Linux kernel and GNU operating system, but they do so in a fun and intuitive way. Many users are content with the tools and facilities included with these desktops, but—for those who are ready to probe a little deeper—much more functionality can be found by going under the hood.

With hacks that any user can follow, Linux ...

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The KDE and Gnome desktops have developed into mature operating environments. These technologies not only act as interfaces between the user, the powerful Linux kernel and GNU operating system, but they do so in a fun and intuitive way. Many users are content with the tools and facilities included with these desktops, but—for those who are ready to probe a little deeper—much more functionality can be found by going under the hood.

With hacks that any user can follow, Linux Desktop Hacks demonstrates how easy it is to modify Linux to suit your desires. The book is packed with tips on customizing and improving the interface, boosting performance, administering your desktop, and generally making the most out of what X, KDE, Gnome, and the console have to offer.

From the practical to the whimsical, and some things you never thought of trying, the hacks in the book include the following, and more:

  • Kill and Resurrect the Master Boot Record
  • Jazz Up Your Debian System Boot
  • Energize Your Console with Macro Music Magic
  • Konquer Remote Systems Without Passwords
  • Run KDE on the Bleeding Edge
  • View Microsoft Word Documents in a Terminal
  • Read Yahoo! Mail from Any Email Client
  • Motion Capture and Video Conferencing Fun
  • Automate Your Life with cron
  • Protect Yourself from Windows Applications
  • Make an Internet Connection Using Bluetooth and a Mobile Phone
  • Print to Unsupported Printers
  • Accelerate Your Gaming

If you're yearning for information to make the Linux desktop easier, more powerful, and more fun, Linux Desktop Hacks is just the ticket.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596009113
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/15/2005
  • Series: Hacks Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Petreley began his career in computing in 1983 as an Assembly-language programmer for a signal-processing research and development firm called Adaptronics, located in McLean, Virginia, and he hasn't been able to escape the field since. After getting a taste of writing as a weekly columnist for the Times in New Jersey, Nick began spending more time with the English language than with Pascal, C, C++, and the dozens of other languages that previously dominated his life.
Nick's former lives also include conference advisor for LinuxWorld Expo, creator of the Golden Penguin Bowl quiz show, editorial director of LinuxWorld, editor-in-chief of Network Computing World, executive editor of the InfoWorld Test Center, award-winning columnist for InfoWorld, and regular technical columnist for ComputerWorld. You can find his current articles on Newsforge and in other publications under various pseudonyms. He is a columnist for Tux magazine, the author of the Official Fedora Companion, a part-time Evans data analyst, a freelance writer, a creator and maintainer of the VAR-oriented web site (, and a professional open source consultant.

Jono Bacon is an established writer, developer, and musician. Jono has been working as a full-time writer and technology consultant/developer since 2000, for a variety of publishers and companies. They include Linux Format, Linux Pro, Linux Magazine, Linux User & Developer, Linux Journal, PC Plus, MacFormat, MacTech, Digital Home, Newsforge, Sitepoint, and ContentPeople. Jono has also worked as a writer/consultant/developer for Trolltech, Apple,, the University of Wolverhampton, Delta Institute, and others. In addition to this work, Jono has been a part of the Linux community since 1998 and has worked for various free software projects including KDE and Kafka, and he founded Linux UK, the KDE Usability Study, KDE::Enterprise, and the Infopoint Project. He currently works on various free software projects, as well as for OpenAdvantage in Birmingham, UK, as a professional open source consultant.

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Table of Contents

About the Authors;
Why Linux Desktop Hacks?;
How to Use This Book;
How This Book Is Organized;
Conventions Used in This Book;
Using Code Examples;
How to Contact Us;
Got a Hack?;
Safari Enabled;
Chapter 1: Booting Linux;
1.1 Hacks 1-9;
1 Give Your Computer the Boot;
2 Kill and Resurrect the Master Boot Record;
3 Bypass the Boot Manager;
4 Set a Bitmap Boot Screen for LILO;
5 Create Your Own LILO Boot Splash;
6 Display a GRUB Boot Splash Background;
7 Create a GRUB Boot Splash Background;
8 Jazz Up Your Debian System Boot;
9 Graphics on the Console;
Chapter 2: Console;
2.1 Hacks 10-15;
10 Redefine Keyboard Actions;
11 Energize Your Console with Macro Music Magic;
12 Take a Screenshot from the Command Line;
13 Put Your Command Prompt on a Diet;
14 Simplify Changing Directories;
15 Colorize Files in Your Pager;
Chapter 3: Login Managers;
3.1 Hacks 16-21;
16 Switch Users Fast;
17 Double Your KDM (KDE) Login Screens;
18 Double Your GDM (GNOME) Login Screens;
19 Get Multiple Desktops the Macho Way;
20 Scrap X11 for Fancy Login Consoles;
21 Personalize Your Qingy Theme;
Chapter 4: Related to X;
4.1 Hacks 22-34;
22 Take Your Screens Black;
23 Spice Up Your Desktop with Creative Mouse Cursors;
24 Convert CursorXP Themes for Use with Linux;
25 Use Windows and Mac Fonts;
26 Never Miss Another Reminder;
27 Make Applications Trigger On-Screen Alerts;
28 Heat Up Your Keyboard with Hotkeys;
29 Get Hotter Hotkeys with LinEAK;
30 Access Windows and Mac OS X from Linux;
31 Run Your Desktop over the Internet;
32 Access Your Programs Remotely;
33 Add Depth to Your Desktop;
34 Give Your Desktop X-Ray Vision;
Chapter 5: KDE Desktop;
5.1 Hacks 35-44;
35 Make Konqueror a Window into Remote Spaces;
36 Konquer Remote Systems Without Passwords;
37 Ai Karamba! Flashy KDE Gadgets!;
38 Start Applications in Weird and Wonderful Ways;
39 Script Hacks with DCOP;
40 Create Your Own KDE Right-Click Menu Actions;
41 Make KDE Even Easier to Use;
42 Give Depth to Your KDE Windows;
43 Lock Down KDE with Kiosk Mode;
44 Run KDE on the Bleeding Edge;
Chapter 6: GNOME Desktop Hacks;
6.1 Hacks 45-48;
45 Randomize Your GNOME Wallpaper;
46 Grow Your GNOME with gDesklets Steroids;
47 Create Your Own GNOME Right-Click Actions;
48 Compile a Bleeding-Edge GNOME Desktop;
Chapter 7: Terminal Empowerment;
7.1 Hacks 49-54;
49 Share Applications and Monitors with screen;
50 Stop Using Terminal Command-Line Switches;
51 Ultimate Terminal Transparency;
52 View Microsoft Word Documents in a Terminal;
53 Display PDF Documents in a Terminal;
54 View Word and PDF Files from Within Mutt;
Chapter 8: Desktop Programs;
8.1 Hacks 55-69;
55 Reduce Startup Time;
56 Read Yahoo! Mail from Any Email Client;
57 Encrypt Your Email;
58 Reclaim Your Email with procmail;
59 Convert Your Mailbox;
60 Configure Firefox Under the Covers;
61 Eliminate Annoying Browser Stalls;
62 Get Browser Plug-ins Working;
63 Create an Internet Phone;
64 Motion Capture and Video Conferencing Fun;
65 Put Screenshots Automatically on the Web;
66 Scan for Wireless Networks;
67 Map Your Meatspace;
68 Connect to a Microsoft PPTP VPN;
69 Play Restricted Media Formats;
Chapter 9: Administration and Automation;
9.1 Hacks 70-87;
70 Automate Your Life with cron;
71 Update Your Clock via the Internet;
72 Start Desktop Applications Automatically;
73 Don't Let Elvis Leave the Building;
74 Clone Your Linux Install;
75 Forward Ports over SSH;
76 Take Control of New User Setups;
77 Send Email Alerts for System Events;
78 Create a Passwordless Login;
79 Magically Empower Your Network Cable;
80 Protect Yourself from Windows Applications;
81 Build a Custom Firewall Computer;
82 Link Monitoring in Linux with Wavemon;
83 Make Network Backups;
84 Recover from Debian Disaster;
85 Prelink for Performance;
86 Grab the Latest Source Code;
87 Speed Up Compiles;
Chapter 10: Kernel;
10.1 Hacks 88-91;
88 Compile a Kernel;
89 Upgrade Your Kernel to 2.6;
90 Use CKO to Make Your Desktop Go to 11;
91 Tweak Your Kernel Without Recompiling;
Chapter 11: Hardware;
11.1 Hacks 92-100;
92 Make an Internet Connection Using Bluetooth and a Mobile Phone;
93 Perfect USB Devices with Project Utopia;
94 Optimize Your Refresh Rates;
95 Print to Unsupported Printers;
96 Control Your Power with ACPI;
97 Use an iPod with Linux;
98 Sync Your iRiver with Linux;
99 Boost Hard-Drive Performance;
100 Accelerate Your Gaming;

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