OpenSUSE Linux Rants

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November 9, 2009

Linux LiveCD Saves Windows Admin Jobs

by @ 1:53 am. Filed under Linux tips, security, sweet tools

Ophcrack Linux LiveCD

Ophcrack is the Linux LiveCD that you reach for when you forget your admin password on your Win32 (incl. XP and Vista) box.

From the Ophcrack Sourceforge page:

“Ophcrack is a Windows password cracker based on a time-memory trade-off using rainbow tables. This is a new variant of Hellman’s original trade-off, with better performance. It recovers 99.9% of alphanumeric passwords in seconds.”

For all admins who use said proprietary OS, if you ever forget your admin password, this is one great way to recover it, and help you keep your job.

Please do not ever, ever, ever use tools like this for malicious purposes, because that’s just plain not very nice.

November 4, 2009

Pimping Linux with Gigolo

by @ 1:45 am. Filed under Linux tips, sweet tools

As many know, one of my BIGGEST gripes with Gnome and/or GTK-based apps is their inability to NATIVELY support remote filesystem access, like Konqueror does by default, and Kate does by default, and many of the other applications built for KDE do by default. As mentioned in a previous post:

kio-slave – For anyone who doesn’t know what this does, it gives KDE the ability to interact with remote filesystems via FTP, SSH, etc. You can open up a remote filesystem, and drag and drop a text file right onto your Kate icon. Kate will open the file for you to edit it. When you are done editing, just click SAVE and close the file. KDE via kio-slave saves the file back to the remote fileystem (assuming you have the proper privileges). This is the one thing that has the supremest of importance to me. It is possible to have one Konqueror window open and have it split into 16 different panes, each pane connected to a different filesystem or directory, whether local or remote. If you have never done this, you have to try it some time. You can split Kate windows the same way. Before anyone says it, I realize that you can make other desktop environments do this, but KDE just does it right out of the box.”

Some may even remember when I posted a bit of a rant about this. I use remote filesystems ALL DAY LONG.

As I’m moving away from KDE and everything that ties me to it, the need arose to access remote filesystems very quickly in a windowing system. I realize ssh does this. With ssh, it takes about 12 seconds to log in and copy a file over, not to mention all the keystrokes. With Konqueror, I click the Konqueror Icon, press CTRL+SHIFT+L, and select the remote filesystem I want from my bookmarks and I’m there. All of 3 seconds and a tenth of the effort.

How to mimic the functionality I want?

One possibility is a little app called gigolo. Why the name? As the author says, “Because it mounts what its told to.”

For XFCE4 users, this little baby is pretty fun. It allows you to bookmark remote filesystems, autoconnect to them, and all sorts of great stuff, quite a bit like kio-slave does. Just a bit more cumbersome, but at least I get the functionality.

Experience is a great teacher, so add the repo and install gigolo:

[1207][root@suse-desktop:/home/scott]$ zypper addrepo "http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/X11:/xfce/openSUSE_11.1" XFCE4 ; zypper modifyrepo -r XFCE4 ; zypper in gigolo
Adding repository 'XFCE4' [done]
Repository 'XFCE4' successfully added
Enabled: Yes
Autorefresh: No
URI: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/X11:/xfce/openSUSE_11.1

Autorefresh has been enabled for repository 'XFCE4'.
Retrieving repository 'XFCE4' metadata [done]
Building repository 'XFCE4' cache [done]
Loading repository data...
Reading installed packages...
Resolving package dependencies...

The following NEW package is going to be installed:
  gigolo


Overall download size: 90.0 K. After the operation, additional 310.0 K will be used.
Continue? [YES/no]:
Retrieving package gigolo-0.3.2-1.1.i586 (1/1), 90.0 K (310.0 K unpacked)
Retrieving: gigolo-0.3.2-1.1.i586.rpm [done]
Installing: gigolo-0.3.2-1.1 [done]
[1208][root@suse-desktop:/home/scott]$

Now just run it. You’ll get a window similar to the following:

Gigolo Window

Press CTRL+B to edit your bookmarks. A window like this comes up:

Manage Bookmarks Window

Click ADD. In the box that appears, fill out the info and click OK:

Adding a Bookmark

If you selected autoconnect, you’ll be prompted for the password:

Password Prompt

You may also have to create a keyring password. When you are done, if you selected autoconnect, you’ll see an icon showing that it’s connected:

Showing Connection

If not, click the down arrow next to the bookmark button (furthest left), and select the bookmark you want to connect to:

Connect via Bookmarks

Once you have connected to a bookmark, double-click it in the gigolo window. Nautilus comes up displaying the remote filesystem. Not sure if you can use other file managers, but if you can, let me know.

July 30, 2009

Linux appliances made easy with SUSE Studio

by @ 8:25 am. Filed under SUSE News, SUSE Tips & Tricks, sweet tools

Linux appliances made easy with SUSE

¡Por fin! It’s about time they did something like this with OpenSUSE Linux. Uses for this are infinite. What a fantastically cool concept.

From the site, “Novell has launched a new service called SUSE Studio that makes it easy to build software appliances. Ars gives it a spin and find it’s an excellent tool for building virtual appliances.”

Now honestly, who couldn’t use that?

Check this out: “Novell has launched a new Web service called SUSE Studio that simplifies the process of building Linux-based software appliances. It provides a convenient interface for creating custom versions of Novell’s SUSE Linux distribution with specialized configurations. The service is part of Novell’s broader SUSE Appliance Program initiative.”

“Enterprise software deployment comes with a lot of serious technical challenges. Getting a complex piece of server software up and running on backend infrastructure often requires system administrators to wrestle with dependencies and configuration issues. Software appliances are increasingly viewed as a compelling solution to this problem.”

“A software appliance is a preconfigured stack that includes a software program and its dependencies bundled with a minimal operating system image that can get the program up and running with the smallest possible resource footprint. This concept is often referred to as “Just Enough Operating System” (JeOS).”

“SUSE Studio allows users to build software appliances on top of SUSE Enterprise Linux or OpenSUSE. It offers several templates that can be used as a starting point, including a minimal JeOS template, a server template, a minimal X11, KDE, and GNOME templates. After selecting a base template, users can customize it and add additional software.”

The versatility of Linux never ceases to blow my mind. I mean, to each their own, but if you are looking for the X-11 of consumer-level operating systems, Linux stands up to the test, tell you what (tell your mom, too).

Enough of my yammering about this new OpenSUSE project. Take a look at the screen shots and full story:

Linux appliances made easy with SUSE

July 21, 2009

Linux command for “What’s up on this here box?”

by @ 8:33 am. Filed under bash, command-line, General Linux, sweet tools

Linux has so many marvelous tools. The great part about this is that you can combine the tools to make new tools. As you may know, there have been previous postings about a tool called ‘sup’ which tells you some useful information about the linux box into which you are logged. Having so many terminal windows open, and screen sessions going, it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of connections and sessions. This tool clears all that up for you really quick.

Since the last version, the most significant change is the ability to determine which version of which Linux distribution you are using.

Here is some sample output:

<=== SYSTEM ===>
  Distro info:  Welcome to openSUSE 11.1 - Kernel \r (\l).
  Kernel:       Linux laptop 2.6.27.19-3.2-pae #1 SMP 2009-02-25 15:40:44 +0100 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux
  Uptime:        9:20am  up   0:47,  1 user,  load average: 0.64, 0.54, 0.38
  Memory:       Total: 1986Mb   Used: 730Mb     Free: 1256Mb
  Swap:         Total: 4180Mb   Used: 0Mb       Free: 4180Mb
  Architecture: i686
  Processor:    0 : Intel(R) Core(TM) Duo CPU T2250 @ 1.73GHz
  Processor:    1 : Intel(R) Core(TM) Duo CPU T2250 @ 1.73GHz
  Date:         Tue Jul 21 09:20:09 MDT 2009

<=== USER ===>
  User:         scott (uid:1000)
  Groups:       users www
  Working dir:  /home/scott
  Home dir:     /home/scott

<=== NETWORK ===>
  Hostname:     laptop
  IP (lo):      127.0.0.1/8
  IP (lo):      127.0.0.2/8
  IP (eth0):    10.245.106.6/24
  Gateway:      10.245.106.1
  Name Server:  10.45.106.10

 

Download this “Linux ‘sup’?” script here.

July 16, 2009

SSH Attack Foghorn

by @ 6:20 am. Filed under bash, General Linux, Linux tips, ssh tips, sweet tools, Work-Related

I don’t like it when people try and hack my web servers. To make myself aware of people trying to access my ssh daemon, I wrote me a little script. Yup, I’m certainly aware of DenyHosts. Notwithstanding, in the hopes that this script may find use elsewhere, I post it here. Behold, enjoy, and chuckle a bit at how much better you could write it. Then, let me know how you’d improve it:

#!/bin/sh
LOGFILE=/root/hack_attempts
IFS=$'\n'
PATTERN="^"`date --date="1 minute ago" "+%b %e %H:%M:"`""
tail -n 1000 /var/log/messages | grep ""$PATTERN"" | grep sshd | grep -i "invalid user" | grep " from " > "$LOGFILE"
if [ $(stat -c%s "$LOGFILE") -gt 0 ] ; then
	echo "See the attached log for details" | mailx -a "$LOGFILE" -s "Possible hack attempt" YOUREMAIL@YOURDOMAIN.COM
fi
rm "$LOGFILE"

Copy it to your /root folder. Name it something cool like ‘ssh_foghorn’, and chmod +x it to make it executable. Put it in your /etc/crontab file to run once every minute. Make sure you set the system log to whatever your distro uses. And change the email address to your own. Doesn’t cure cancer, but for 8 lines of code, it does what it needs to.

Again, I’m sure there are better ways to do this, so let’s hear ’em!

February 18, 2009

Linux Tool Resurrects Deleted Images

by @ 3:42 pm. Filed under sweet tools

OpenSUSE Linux Blog

In Linux, it’s a little more difficult to recover deleted files than in Win32 platforms. Some may argue that this is not the case, but for your regular old non-techie email-and-Internet user, I’d venture to guess that it is. That, and I’m always right (Raise your hand if you think I actually believe this. Brett, put your hand down.).

As it so happened, I deleted about 500 photographs of my family the other night. The problem was that those were the only copies. Yep, that sucks.

As it turned out, I was able to retrieve them using photorec, a part of the testdisk suite of tools for the Linux operating system. The latest version of photorec for OpenSUSE Linux is available from the packman repository. Here’s the description from the Photorec Wiki Page:

“PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from Hard Disks and CDRom and lost pictures (thus, its ‘Photo Recovery’ name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the filesystem and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s filesystem has been severely damaged or re-formatted.”

You install photorec and run it from the command line. It will then present you with a few screens, where you tell it how you want it to operate. Generally, you’ll need another partition to restore the files to (I used a USB drive). I was able to recover about 4900 images, which included all of the ones that I had deleted accidentally.

If you accidentally delete images in Linux, give photorec a try.

February 4, 2009

Linux does Ruby on Rails – but what’s the best way?

by @ 9:29 am. Filed under sweet tools

So the boss wants me to learn Ruby on Rails. As a sidenote, right now I’m running OpenSUSE 11.0.

I’d like to use a great IDE so that I can get going quickly. So I have to learn the IDE and the language.

Which IDE to use? Well, I thought since Eclipse is an IDE platform, that I could do PHP and Ruby on it.

I spent the next few days learning how to install Eclipse so that it would work with Ruby on Rails.

Here’s where I stand:

First, install libmysqlclient-devel, because you’ll need to compile the mysql gem for Ruby. Then, install ruby (1.8.6 patchlevel 114 worked best for me), and make sure gcc is installed so you can compile gems when necessary.

When you’re done with this step, check to see what version of ruby you have, and make sure it’s 1.8.6:

$ ruby -v
ruby 1.8.6 (2008-03-03 patchlevel 114)

Next, install eclipse. I found version 3.4 from the OpenSUSE BuildService. Version 3.3 is available for OpenSUSE 10.3.

While that is installing, install rubygems 1.3.1. Again, this version for OpenSUSE 11.0 was only available on the BuildService.

Then, you’ll need to update your gem repository, and then install a handful of gems:

$ gem sources -u
$ gem install rails
$ rails -v
Rails 2.2.2
$gem install mysql cgi_multipart_eof_fix ruby-prof linecache ruby-debug-ide ruby-debug-base mongrel gem_plugin
$ gem update // gets the latest versions of installed gems

When eclipse is done installing, follow the instructions in the “Plugging Aptana into an existing Eclipse configuration” article.

It will prompt you for lots of updates, just go ahead and do them all. Once in awhile, I’ve had it crash, so I just start the article over from the beginning.

Finally, run eclipse, go to the MyAptana view, click on the Plugins icon. You’ll see a list of available plugins. One is PHP, and one is Aptana Radrails. Click on “Get it”. You’ll go through a similar installation process to install that plugin.

Again, if there are any updates, go ahead and do them.

Now, that is how far I’ve gotten, and I’ve even been able to do a tutorial or two with that setup. For all the ruby experts out there who are running it on Linux, what IDE do you use? If you use Eclipse w/RadRails, do you have any further suggestions? If you don’t use Eclipse, why? And if you don’t use Eclipse, what tutorials exist that teach one how to use your preferred IDE with Ruby on Rails?

January 21, 2009

Linux Tells Us What’s Up (new version of ‘sup’ tool!)

by @ 9:44 am. Filed under bash, sweet tools

I have updated the ‘sup’ bash script so that you can see some useful stats about your Linux box at a glance. Here is some output:

  User:         scott (uid:1000)
  Groups:       users dialout video
  Working dir:  /home/scott
  Home dir:     /home/scott
  Hostname:     suse-linux
  IP (lo):      127.0.0.1/8
  IP (lo):      127.0.0.2/8
  IP (eth0):    192.168.12.144/24
  Gateway:      192.168.12.2
  Name Server:  192.168.12.1
  Date:         Wed Jan 21 09:38:57 MST 2009
  Uptime:        9:38am  up 15 days 23:36,  6 users,  load average: 0.22, 0.22, 0.24
  Kernel:       Linux suse-linux 2.6.25.18-0.2-pae #1 SMP 2008-10-21 16:30:26 +0200 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux
  Memory:       Total: 2016Mb   Used: 972Mb     Free: 1044Mb
  Swap:         Total: 4102Mb   Used: 150Mb     Free: 3952Mb
  Architecture: i686
  Processor:    0 : Intel(R) Pentium(R) Dual CPU E2160 @ 1.80GHz
  Processor:    1 : Intel(R) Pentium(R) Dual CPU E2160 @ 1.80GHz

I’ve added the processor info and gateway and nameserver info. I’ve commented out some other stuff that will give you your sound card info, video card info, and basically everything you can get with “lspci -v”. That would be why it’s commented out. Anyway, take a look at the new version:

Linux ‘sup’ bash script

December 15, 2008

Linux + Cinelerra = some pretty entertaining videos

by @ 1:03 pm. Filed under My Opinion, SUSE Tips & Tricks, sweet tools

Linux Video Editing with Cinelerra

I have another Cinelerra animatic storyboarding assignment done. We had to convey a story to the audience that would persuade them to purchase our product. Mine went a little overboard, but everyone thought it was a hoot:


Click image to download Ogg Theora Video
Here’s a WMV if you don’t do Ogg Theora

There was a time when I would rather take a 2×4 full of rusty nails and jam it through my neck sideways than try and use Cinelerra, but the more obstinately I mercilessly force myself to keep using it, the cooler the stuff I am able to do. Now, don’t confuse that with me having delusions of talent. It’s just that I can find the cooler features of the program.

For what that’s worth, take a gander at the video, and see if you get the joke. Have a good one.

October 8, 2008

Linux – Mastering Movie-making

by @ 7:25 am. Filed under sweet tools

School is quite a bit funner than I remember. 😐

However, I am taking an interesting class dealing with storyboarding for movies. We have to do these things called “animatics.” You all know what a movie storyboard is, right? If not, google “movie storyboards” and read up. The boiled down version is that it is a scene-by-scene (generally using stills) depiction of the sequences of a movie. Could be a short movie. Could be a scene.

Well, an animatic is where you take these storyboarding pictures and make a glorified slide show with them. You are able to put in sound effects, filler music, placeholder dialogue, and other assets to make the storyboard much more like the movie will actually be.

So our professor gave us a few exercises. He gave us a series of drawings, a basic plot, and told us to make an animatic out of them.

What tool did I turn to? When all was said and done, it was Cinelerra, the non-linear video editor for Linux:

Cinelerra for Linux
Click for larger image

Just to refresh, these are not movies, but more like an indicator of where people will be standing, what kind of shots will be used, what kind of lighting there might be, etc.

With that, if you’d like to take a look at what I finally turned in for these three projects created with Cinelerra, here you are:

Project 2 - Made in Linux with Cinelerra
2.8 Mb – Ogg Theora format – right-click, save as…

Project 3 - Made in Linux with Cinelerra
7.2 Mb – Ogg Theora format – right-click, save as…

Project 1 - Made in Linux with Cinelerra
3.9 Mb – Ogg Theora format – right-click, save as…

Spielberg I am not. Lucas I am not. But at least I got credit for doing the exercises.

July 9, 2008

One of the Greatest Linux Tools Yet

by @ 9:53 am. Filed under SUSE News, sweet tools

From the OpenSUSE Newsroom:

The openSUSE Project is proud to announce the 1.0 release of the openSUSE Build Service. The 1.0 release provides all the features necessary to support building openSUSE in the public build systems and allowing direct contributions to openSUSE from all contributors. Developers can now submit contributions to openSUSE directly at build.opensuse.org.

The openSUSE Build Service allows developers to create and maintain packages for openSUSE and many other Linux distributions, including CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Red Hat, and Ubuntu. With the 1.0 release, the openSUSE Build Service expands its scope to building the entire openSUSE release, and provides everyone with the same access and transparent interface to work on the openSUSE distribution.

The openSUSE Build Service has offered a simple collaboration system since its inception for groups to work closely together on packages or solutions stacks. The 1.0 release improves on existing functionality to allow the Build Service to scale to larger projects like openSUSE’s Factory distribution, and to allow building openSUSE’s stable releases in the open.

What the changes mean for contributors:

The majority of this functionality is implemented on the server side. The rest can be implemented by the various Build Service clients, so that contributors can take advantage of the new features.

The Build Service team has also introduced a number of smaller improvements and bugfixes to make the system more scalable and usable.

The openSUSE Build Service is now considered “feature complete” for collaboration. The Build Service team is looking for additional feedback on improving the openSUSE Build Service as it will now be the standard tool for working on the distribution.

September 18, 2007

Top 9 Things Thunderbird Will Need to ‘Make It’

by @ 12:39 pm. Filed under sweet tools, Thunderbird

Thunderbird

When it comes to communication, my preferred method is either email or IM. The telephone thing really doesn’t do it for me too much. While I do spend a great amount of time typing into a Gaim/Pidgin chat window each day, it’s my email application that takes the cake. Am I an email addict? Not really. It’s actually the additional functionality provided by my email client that makes it so absolutely useful.

Let me borrow a quote from my upcoming ebook on the topic:

“If you are like me, having a great personal information management system ranks right up there in necessity with Oxygen itself. Tens of thousands of email messages find their way into my inbox each week. Then there is all of the tech news which is required reading each day. Don’t forget that there are eleven full address books on my system that need to be maintained very carefully. Also, what about the appointments? We need some kind of scheduling system. How am I going to remember to pick up some milk on the way home from work? Need those task lists. By the way, reminder pop-ups would be nice, too. And please make sure that we can access all of this from different computers, and share it all with other users.”

“Truth be told, myriads of information management systems are available these days. Especially if you count all the commercial solutions. A common solution is to pay $15,000 to license Microsoft Exchange, and then another $400 per computer for Microsoft Office, which includes Outlook. Because lots of folks don’t have that kind of money, and even less tolerance for all the security risks involved with this solution, we have to find something else.”

I do all my scheduling in my email client of choice. I can even collaborate and sync calendars with other users. The address book is also synchronized with other people. Every one of my tasks has its home there. It manages each one of my 150+ RSS feeds with rules and filters.

So what is this overly amazing email client? It’s Thunderbird, of course.

Before I get flooded with comments to the effect, no one knows better than I do that Thunderbird supports almost none of this by default. It does email, address book and RSS. The scheduling, synchronizing of the schedule, synchronizing of the calendar, and task management are all provided by extensions.

How to get all this set up and working is the subject of my forthcoming ebook.

Apparently, I’m not completely up in the night with my desire to have Thunderbird as the solution for all my organizational needs. Mozilla has announced its desire for Thunderbird to enjoy the same success as Firefox. They will set up a subsidiary, tentatively called MailCo, with about $3 Million, placing David Ascher as the CEO and go from there. One of their primary concerns is having to compete with Outlook. In other words, calendar collaboration, a unified address book directory, tasks, todos, appointments, and so forth. I have spent the past 2 months learning ways to set this stuff up in Thunderbird.

With that, what will Mozilla need to put into Thunderbird to make it even more appealing in the eyes of potential users?

Calendar Collaboration – Thunderbird will need to have the ability to share calendars with other people. I’m certain that I’m not the only one who will also want to view others’ calendars, as well. We will want to be able to manage those calendars very easily. Let’s have abundant support for things like repeating events. Make it nice and easy to manage. Give us the ability to invite other people, and also allow us to notify other people of impending events. Also, it would be spectacular if I could give read-only rights to some people for my calendar, and full read-write permissions to other people. When an event is coming up, it would be nice to have a customizable notification. Oh, I will also likely want to have notifications via pop-up, email, and likely SMS (if I’m away from the desk).

Address Book Directory – How about the ability to share address books with people? I have a couple of business ventures that I am involved with. I also have quite an extended family. It would be nice to maintain different address books for the different groups. Again, read-only and read-write access would be nice to grant as necessary. How about the ability to import and export contacts from many different formats?

Mailing List Support – For years, I used a mailing list software on Windows called “Arrow Mailing List Server“. It would be really nice to have a large part of this type of mailing list functionality built into Thunderbird. There are thousands of mailing lists that exist out on the Internet. People use them quite a bit. Email clients like Foxmail have this built in. Why not Thunderbird? Personally, this has a very big appeal to me to create mailing lists for my family and friends.

Task Management – This would have the ability to classify tasks into different categories. Also, we’ll need to assign different importance to different tasks. No, I don’t mean, “low,” “medium,” and “high.” Let’s have the ability to select a number from a drop-down, say from 1 to 25. The task management system needs to have a percentage done for each task. Oh, I’d also like to sort my task list by the category, the priority, and the percent done. As well as assign tasks to other people. Along with the usual read-only and read-write privileges for me to grant other people for my task list. Of course this means that we’d also need to be able to share task lists with other people. Hey, maybe we could even put Gantt chart functionality in here?!

Real Spam Filters – Surely you could build better spam detection tools. Collaborate with the Spamato folks and they’ll hook you right up. For now, one can use their extension. But wouldn’t it be absolutely spectacular if Thunderbird shipped with that functionality right out of the box? I’m absolutely sick to death of spam. Fix this please.

Extension List – Wouldn’t it just be swell to have a list right in Thunderbird of all the extensions that are compatible with it? And whether or not they are installed. Also, let’s have as much detail on each one as possible. That way, the MailCo folks won’t have to work so hard so fast, especially when incredible functionality already exists as an extension. Such is the case with Spamato. They could focus on other areas first.

Text Chat – This could be something as simple as working with the Gaim/Pidgin (or Kopete) project to provide some amount of interactivity with that software. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, here. Simply providing information as to whether the sender of the current email message is online or offline would be nice. Maybe providing some kind of button on the Thunderbird interface to initiate a chat with that person. It then pops up your IM client and opens the chat window for you to start typing your message. It would be nice to quickly glance at a contact list to see who on that list is currently online or offline, as well.

Voice Chat – Could initially start as a collaboration with something like Skype. Again, why re-create everything? We don’t need to have the NIH attitude involved here. Plug into something that already works well. A simple API would do nicely to accomplish this. Just to let me know whether I can initiate a voice chat with them, and a small button to do just that.

Faster UI – One of the things that makes me homicidal is waiting. Do not make me wait for a button rollover to appear when I move the mouse cursor over it. The number of RSS feeds it is pulling and processing is irrelevant. I don’t care if it is in the middle of indexing 200,000 messages. Do not make me wait. When a button is clicked, let’s see it do its function.

Ok, so I threw the last one in as a personal preference. I would bet my house that, if Thunderbird does end up a huge success, you will find the majority of this functionality in it in one form or another.

Thunderbird also has some spectacular themes. Take a look at “The Top 10 Best Themes for Thunderbird 2.0.”

September 17, 2007

Manhandle that PDF on OpenSUSE Linux

by @ 1:23 pm. Filed under General Linux, review, sweet tools

So I bought a new motorcycle a couple of weeks ago. It is a Kawasaki KLR650 (street-legal and rides well in dirt). I took ‘er out Friday for a spin amongst the vast hilly region to the west and south of my house, just about all of which belongs to the Bureau of Land Management (sweet, this means no neighbors on that land). There are some fun and interesting things to be found there.

I had gone up this really sweet incline, the view from which was cool and all that. Proceeding back down the incline, I realized that I was riding almost entirely in the finely powdered dirt commonly found in that area. All too quickly, I discovered that when you apply the rear brake going down an powdered incline, the back tire locks up readily. Problem is, going down hill, using the front brake is a no-no because if that baby locks up, you are gonna eat some dirt (and perhaps a rock or two).

About that moment, my guts shoot up into my throat as I realize that I am now headed down a steep, curvy incline essentially with no brakes. As I’m bouncing down that hill, wrestling the 337-lb bike to stay on it, I realize something… “Boy, it would sure be cool to have a good PDF manipulation tool.”

Well, the story has a happy ending, because I found that pdftk (included in openSUSE) can do an astonishing number of things with and to a PDF. Not only that, it can handle multiple PDFs at once. Go, Linux.

Bunches of Open Source applications exist that allow PDF creation, such as OpenOffice, Firefox, KGhostView, etc. Every once in awhile, you need to cut out some pages, or combine multiple PDFs. Maybe you want to rotate some pages, grab metrics, add watermarks, or even repair a corrupted PDF. pdftk does all of this.

One of the reasons I use it is to merge several PDFs into one. This is very simple:

pdftk first.pdf second.pdf third.pdf cat output final.pdf

A superb page with large amounts of great info on pdftk is right here.

pdftk is a lifesaver when you need to manipulate PDF files. Take a look.

In all fairness, pdftk will actually work on Windows and Mac, in addition to Linux.

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