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Ubuntu Hacks

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the 101-things-to-do dept.

138

Ravi writes "I recently got hold of a very nice book on Ubuntu called Ubuntu Hacks co-authored by three authors - Kyle Rankin, Jonathan Oxer and Bill Childers. This is the latest of the hack series of books published by O'Reilly. They have made available a rough cut version of the book online ahead of schedule which was how I got hold of the book but as of now you can also buy the book in print. Put in a nutshell, this book is a collection of around 100 tips and tricks which the authors choose to call hacks, which explain how to accomplish various tasks in Ubuntu Linux. The so called hacks range from down right ordinary to the other end of the spectrum of doing specialised things." Read on for the rest of Ravi's review.

The book is divided into 10 chapters each containing a collection of hacks on a particular topic.

In the first chapter titled - Getting Started, the authors explains how to install Ubuntu on a Mac and Windows PC, moving data like mail from windows Outlook express to Ubuntu, setting up a printer and more. This chapter contains a total of 14 hacks. And my favorite hack is the one where the authors explains how to create a customized version of Ubuntu Live CD containing ones favourite applications.

The second chapter dwells on the topics related to customizing the Ubuntu desktop. Here the authors give tips to install Java, customize Ubuntu desktop, install additional window managers, synchronizing ones PDA and Pocket PC, just to name a few. This chapter contains around 27 tips. My favourite one here would be how to create PDF files by using the print command from any application in Ubuntu.

Ubuntu like other main stream GNU/Linux distributions is encumbered by the patent restrictions related to various popular multimedia file formats. The net result is one cannot play multimedia files like mp3, wmv or quick time in a default Ubuntu installation. In the chapter titled "Multimedia", one gets to know how to enable audio and video applications bundled with Ubuntu to play these restricted media files.Topics like CD ripping, playing encrypted DVDs and playing any media formats using the all time popular mplayer are also explained in simple detail. But the one hack which takes the prize is that which explains how to buy songs at the iTunes music store and download the music on Linux.

Laptop users have some advantages as well as disadvantages over people using the desktop. And considering that the number of laptop users are ever increasing, there is a need to explain how to configure and take care of ones laptop running Ubuntu - like prolonging the battery life, configuring the wireless card on the laptop, hibernating, setting up bluetooth connection and so on. The 4th chapter contains around 8 detailed tips which deals with these interesting topics related to a laptop. I really liked the tip explaining how to make ones laptop settings roam with ones network which could be quite useful for people who are always on the move.

Chapter five of this well structured book deals exclusively with configuring and fine tuning X11 - the X Windows System. Here one gets to know how to configure ones mouse the old fashioned way by editing the requisite section in the X configuration file.As an example, the authors elaborate on a special case of configuring a seven button mouse with a tilted scroll wheel to work properly in Ubuntu. This chapter additionally contain a slew of tips to configure different difficult to configure hardware like the touch pad, setting up dual head displays, installing and configuring Nvidia, ATI and Matrox proprietary graphics drivers to work in Ubuntu and more.

The next chapter titled "Package Management" has a collection of tips in managing packages. Over and above explaining how to install, remove and update packages using apt-get, synaptic and Adept, this chapter also contain tips on creating ones own Ubuntu package from source, cache packages locally from source and more. I especially found the hack where the authors explain how to create ones own Ubuntu package repository really informative.

The seventh chapter dwells exclusively on Security. Usually Ubuntu for the desktop comes with all the ports closed by default which makes it relatively secure. But in these times of cheap high speed Internet access when a home network is connected to the Internet at all times, it is always prudent to run a firewall on ones machine. In this chapter, the authors explain how to setup a robust firewall using iptables and firewallbuilder and then manage it from the Ubuntu desktop. But that is not all, there are tips on configuring SUDO to limit permissions to different users where one gets to know how to do it the command line way. But my favourite tip in this chapter is the one which explains how to encrypt the file system to protect important data. This chapter contains a total of six in-depth hacks all related to enhancing the security of the machine running Ubuntu.

Ubuntu developers have always persevered in providing easy to use front-ends for conducting the most common system administration tasks - be it creating additional user accounts or managing the services running on ones machine. But at times the user is forced to do system administration tasks the command line way. In this chapter titled "Administration", the authors explain for instance how to compile a kernel from source the Ubuntu way and also ways of installing multiple copies of one kernel version on the same machine which could be useful for testing purpose. There are tips for taking backups as well as restoring them. I found the hack titled "Rescuing an unbootable system" really useful. This hack is in fact a collection of tips where common rescue scenarios are elaborated. I found this chapter full of very useful tips as varied as ways of synchronizing files between different machines, mounting a remote filesystem and even a tip on creating videos by capturing what is done on the desktop which could be really useful when shared with others while seeking help on a particular error.

A virtual machine is a simulated computer-inside-another-computer, allowing one to boot an extra operating system inside the primary environment. The next chapter titled "Virtualization and Emulation" explains the different virtualization and emulation technologies available which allow one to run windows/Dos applications and games in Ubuntu, running Ubuntu inside Windows and so on. Here the authors gives in-depth step-by-step walkthroughs in configuring and running virtualization and emulation technologies such as Xen, VMWare server and Wine which imparts a lot of importance to this chapter.

The final chapter of this excellent book which is also the 10th chapter deals with setting up a small home/office server. Here one gets to know how to install and configure a Ubuntu server from scratch. All the topics like setting up quotas to control disk space usage among users, setting up an SSH server, configuring Apache web server, building an email server, DHCP server, DNS server and so on which are a part and parcel of an office server setup have been given due importance in this chapter.

All the ten chapters combined, there are a total of 100 tips (Oops! hacks) in this unique book which are based on the latest version of Ubuntu - Dapper Drake. What is worth noting is that one is not expected to read the book from cover-to-cover rather, you can flip to the hack you are interested in and carry on from there which makes this book a very good reference for setting up and configuring all things related to Ubuntu. At this point, one might have questions in ones mind whether many of the solutions listed in this book aren't already available on the net in popular Linux/Ubuntu forums. True, with some searching one might be able to get what one is looking for. But if you ask me, it is always nice to have something tangible in ones hands while reading instead of having to stare at the monitor for hours on end. More over, each and every tip in this book has been tested by the authors on the latest version of Ubuntu (Dapper Drake) and is guaranteed to work. In writing this book, it is clear that the authors have put in a lot of hard work in covering all facets of configuring this popular Linux distribution which makes this book a worth while buy.


You can purchase Ubuntu Hacks - Tips and Tools for Exploring, Using and Tuning Linux from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Dead tree publications (4, Insightful)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578234)

I totally agree with the author in that I like having a real book in my hands when I'm working on something new, difficult, etc. I don't think the value of a book can ever be underestimated.

Re:Dead tree publications (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578249)

O RLY?

Re:Dead tree publications (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578263)

Very true. Besides the intangible benefits of having the "real" book, with computer stuff it's always nice to have some hard copy reference material. There will always come a time when the problem you need to fix is keeping you from getting onto the damned Internet to find the fix for your problem.

Re:Dead tree publications (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578472)

I don't think the value of a book can ever be underestimated.

I believe you mean "overestimated." Because this makes it sound like books are worthless...

Re:Dead tree publications (4, Funny)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578567)

Yay, my grammar troll bait caught two! I get a +4 cloak of haste now. Thanks guys!

Re:Dead tree publications (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578604)

I see you already got + 2 Boots of Revisionary Motivation. Unfortunately, I have an Amulet of Divination of Bullshit, and therefore pwned you already.

Re:Dead tree publications (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578514)

I like having a real book in my hands when I'm working on something new, difficult, etc.

Exactly. Nothing better than having a book in your hands to read when taking a shit.

Re:Dead tree publications (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578546)

> I don't think the value of a book can ever be underestimated.

Underestimated. You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Dead tree publications (3, Interesting)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578727)

I have to agree there. The reason isn't generally about having a hard copy (although it is nice to have when a system goes tits up) but rather that most tech books are written as page-by-page textbooks. This makes them far easier to follow and learn from than a manual. This is because manual's are generally for reference or very brief introductions to whatever you're trying to learn, they rarely help in actually grokking the subject.

Most of the time manual's simply outline what functions foo, bar and baz do seperately rarely giving you 'recipes' for using foo, bar and baz together.

Sick of B&N favoritism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578235)

Slashdot's linking to B & N, supposedly because they get nice kickbacks, shows a disgusting disregard for us readers, considering that Amazon has it cheaper [amazon.com] .

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (2, Insightful)

sammyo (166904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578277)

I'd agree most any forum other than Slashdot. If a slashdoter is fooled by a link or
fails to do their own research they should be reading zdnet...

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (3, Funny)

GonzoTech (613147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578295)

You mean I don't have to go to B&N? THANK GOD!

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1)

gregm (61553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578308)

Of course it could be because Amazon has patented the rather obvious idea of one-click shopping. That's why I don't buy from Amazon but that's probably not the case here.

G

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578481)

They're running an animated ad for microsofts anti-linux "get the facts" campaign, so I don't think that geek philosophy or politics enter into the equation at all - they're trying to squeeze out what little financial value this (once useful) site still has.

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578720)

Of course it could be because Amazon has patented the rather obvious idea of one-click shopping. That's why I don't buy from Amazon but that's probably not the case here.


I don't believe it! You choose to pay more for a product just because the vendor's site has patented technology??? You are having a reeeeal bad time as a consumer, don't ya?

Why don't you simply suicide and avoid jeopardizing humanity's genetic reserve?

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (4, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578338)

Thanks, but I buy locally. I like the few independent bookstores that we have left.

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578509)

Yep, you, me and that other guy. Seriously, the next 10 years or so will tell if they survive, and I'm even more concerned about the mom and pop indie music shops; I can't buy stuff from Best Buy or Amazon and have the same experience.

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578775)

This is off topic, but if you ever want to order something online from an independent try powells.com. They aren't as cheap as Amazon, but their service has always been excellent for me.

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578836)

How is Powells any more "independent" than Amazon? Both Amazon.com and Powells have multiple large warehouses in various parts of the country, both sell most of their stock online, both get their special orders from the same providers... People think Powells is "independent" because they have a northwest hipster attitude about them, but they're really not any different from Amazon.

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578853)

Local mass retail is a dying business model whether you realize it or not. Retail is going to be an extremely niche business as the world goes forward. It just doesn't make sense to store stock all over the country when it can be centralized and shipped as needed, for less energy input. I understand your desire to stop the clock, but it can't be done.

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579395)

I'm afraid to say that both of you guys may be right... I might be naive in thinking that local retail can make it (I own an independent retail store, too!).

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578976)

Slashdot's linking to B & N, supposedly because they get nice kickbacks, shows a disgusting disregard for us readers, considering that Amazon has it cheaper.

AFAIK, slashdot editors refuse to link to Amazon in protest of their "one click patent".

Re:Sick of B&N favoritism (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15579032)

No, it's probably because of higher referral rates from B&N. After all, even the GNU project [gnu.org] stopped boycott Amazon years ago.

This is a book report, not a review (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578245)

n/t

Re:This is a book report, not a review (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578701)

So? Time to get over yourself. I found it pretty useful.

There comes a point where you judge something on it's value rather than its definition. I couldn't give a flying fuck what slashdot calls it, and I'm not an Ubuntu user, but this looked like a pretty reasonable book for someone who was new.

Re:This is a book report, not a review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15579171)

This is what a book review SHOULD BE! I wish more of the articles on /. were this concise, informative, and thorough.

Agreed (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579173)

Though the same author wrote a book on Ninnle Linux [ninnlelinux.org] (site may be down), which was excellent. I have no reason to doubt that his latest work on Ubuntu is of similar quality.

One of the first hacks in the book.. (5, Funny)

GonzoTech (613147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578254)

... tells a user how to post information on slashdot pertaining to the book itself. An advertisement hack, which is very similar to the wonderful people who write books on, "How to write a book and make a million dollars from it," collections.

The Linux Flaw (-1, Troll)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578294)

tips and tricks which the authors choose to call hacks, which explain how to accomplish various tasks in Ubuntu Linux

I love linux ... but sadly this statement sums up it's flaw ... in order to do oridinary tasks, you must know "hacks". Non-techy users just can't understand, let alone perform such "hacks".

Re:The Linux Flaw (4, Insightful)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578340)

You act like these types of books/articles don't exist for Windows. Look at digg on any given week. You'll likely see at least one "How to do $x in Windows to speed up $y" or "How to unlock $z in Windows" article.

Re:The Linux Flaw (2, Insightful)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578885)

True, but these books don't usually have to have things like "How to upgrade Firefox" and "How to make your DVD software actually play DVDs". As annoying as Windows is, the stuff that requires "hacks" are normally things that the average user is not interested in anyhow. I like ubuntu, I use Dapper Drake and love it so far. However, to get Totem to actually play DVDs, for example, is beyond what a normal user is capable of doing. Try upgrading from Firefox 1.0.8 in Badger without using the CLI. Good luck with that. Not sure if Dapper fixed that, I guess we'll see when Firefox 1.5.5 comes out...

If only people would devote some time to the OSS community trying to fix stuff like this instead of vehemently refuting every /. that points these things out. Then /. posts decrying legitimate difficulties with Linux distros would not need to exist.

Re:The Linux Flaw (2, Informative)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579120)

You're right. Instead you get "How to use firefox to access windows update from your pirated Windows install" or "How to schedule nightly defrags," or "how to optimize your internet settings." Not to mention that Sun's Java is now installable from multiverse / non-free (or will be eventually if the current Sun PR is to believed, I'm not sure where Debian + java currently stands).

Saying that nobody is busy addressing the "stuff like this" is a lie. The FSF and plenty of other OSS organizations join up to fight software patents, the primary cause that you can't play DVDs, listen to mp3s, or any other potentially patented function in the future with open source software legally. And plenty of other people are finding ways to work with existing patent holders to come to a workable agreement between them. For example, Fluendo recently worked with the MP3 people to join in on mp3 support. There's even more people working on alternatives to restricted software, like Vorbis and gcj. And there are people "trying to fix stuff like this," like Automatix or EasyUbunbtu; they just don't personally advertise on Slashdot where you might read it. I dislike that their solution is an addon program rather than solving the deficiencies within Ubuntu, but that's a personal opinion and there are at least some fixes that are justifiably unmergable with Ubuntu. So it is being solved, by a number of people, in a number of ways. It's just not done yet.

One of the biggest problems I see surrounding the Ubuntu support and help forums is that the "howto foo" authors are all heavily experienced in the command line, so where a GUI tool would suffice they instead jump to console. For you and I, synaptic may provide little value (perhaps that itself is a bug) over apt-get, but it represents a good improvement for the unindoctrinated. The things it does are generally unsurprising, and the features it directly presents to the users are very suitable for their needs (searching, upgrading, descriptions). Of course it isn't perfect yet, but it's far from unusable. I think if the howto authors spent some time using the GUI tools with a focus on their documentation, they'd be able to contribute some insightful advice to developers on improving it, sort of an "eat your own dogfood" scenario.

For the record Dapper is running [ubuntu.com] 1.5.4. The main problem revolved around whether it was appropariate to break people's plugins or not. So far they've already pushed one upgrade to Firefox through, from 1.5.3 to 1.5.4. And it was always feasible to install firefox to your homedir (right click to extract, right click to run), if you were willing to take an adventure on plugins.

Re:The Linux Flaw (4, Interesting)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578372)

Have you tried Ubuntu? You absolutely do _not_ need any hacks to use it as a normal desktop system. In fact, I would venture to say that it's easier to install and configure than Windows XP is. Of course, most normal users never have to install and configure Windows because it comes with their computers, so maybe that is a moot point. Still, in the 60ish Ubuntu installs I've done (mostly at installfests for average Joe users with laptops), I've had very few Ubuntu installs that didn't detect and configure all the hardware on the machine correctly. Windows XP almost never detects new hardware on a machine correctly. The default Ubuntu setup is very clean and easy to use. It's _different_ from Windows (as it should be - Windows has an ass interface), but not harder to use.

The need-to-know-hacks-to-use-Linux argument no longer holds. It was completely valid when I started using Linux (circa 1998), but today it is 100% myth.

Re:The Linux Flaw (4, Insightful)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578432)

Unless theres a piece of hardware that doesn't work out of the box.

Re:The Linux Flaw (2, Informative)

frostoftheblack (955294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578757)

That's true. But I've tried a bunch of different Linux distros, and based on what I've tried, Ubuntu offers the best out-of-the-box functionality of all of them, as someone has posted. But you're right, it gets ugly when you have to manually install and configure hardware. Graphics cards, touchpads, and dare I say....wifi cards? A wifi card that is not automagically supported (cough, Broadcom-based prior to Ubuntu Dapper) is pretty difficult for someone who has no idea about Linux.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579204)

WiFi is simply Linux's weakest link. I think we all know the reasons why this is true, so I'll skip that part of the conversation entirely... but the simple fact is that WiFi on linux is craptacular.

I have an Avaya card which is supported by the wavelan driver. Unfortunately that doesn't support scanning for APs, or acting as the master.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578766)

Of which I have encountered very few. I mean, I installed Ubuntu on my girlfriend's brand new HP laptop and even the volume control soft keys worked out of the box. There's hardly anything common that Ubuntu won't detect and configure, and chances are that if you're using something uncommon enough that it doesn't work, you have enough expertise to make it work anyway.

Compare to Windows XP where damn near _nothing_ works out of the box (note that I define out of the box as I plug it in and it works, not I plug it in, install drivers, reboot and it works).

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578797)

I think you and the OP are both right.

I am not a linux expert. Having never used Linux, I successfully installed Breezy Badger the first time, and sat there amazed as everything just worked. The install is _much_ easier than Windows. Everything just worked. I had a few updates to make, and they were downloaded and installed. It was easy and life was great. Or so I thought. Now to why I also agree with the OP...

Things were working well and I was loving ubuntu. Then I noticed that Firefox was still on 1.0.8. So I tried to upgrade. Well, to make a long story short, I could not find a way to do so without having to use the command line (and _not_ for a lack of trying). Then I tried to play a DVD only to find out Totem, the "DVD player", doesn't actually play DVDs. Again, more command line "magic" (remember, not a *nix expert) to get this to happen, or at best using Synaptic to find some a package (that wasn't there, btw). The I noticed that the web was slow and learned that I needed to disable IPv6. More "hacks" still.

Bottom line is that I still love ubuntu. I recently upgraded to Dapper and was amazed at how easy that was. And I enjoy learning how to do this stuff, that is, work with ubuntu using the CLI. While I don't mind having to do this, you KNOW average users aren't even going to know where to begin. I think this is one of the last real hurdles preventing Distros like ubuntu from being usable by the masses.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578921)

On the other hand, finding the usual nonfree stuff is nonintuitive. You have to add repositories and install packages with obscure names to get a full set of codecs and whatnot. Of course, you can use EasyUbuntu (I think that's what it was called anyway) to get all that stuff done for you - but if you want flash, acrobat (necessary for some PDFs, and in any case, the included pdf viewer is garbage) microsoft fonts, and the like, there's some slightly hackish things you have to do.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

srcosmo (73503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579480)

You're right, though Dapper has improved this somewhat. You still have to edit the repositories to get the goodies, but it can be done by clicking a few checkboxes within Synaptic. (No need to add brand-new sources or edit the config file by hand).

However, in order to get Flash player working for Firefox, I had to manually install it into /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins/. And I don't know if I've ever gotten the Acrobat plugin working properly...

Re:The Linux Flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578942)

For the most part I would agree with you that Ubuntu will install fairly flawlessly on most laptops and even desktops....enter the new Dell desktop systems with USB only for keyboard and mouse and the new Dell laptop system without PCMCIA and built in wireless and express cards and all of a sudden almost nothing works. I have installed Debian and Ubuntu several hundred times over on desktops and laptops and rarely experienced a problem until these new systems came out that pretty much are only supported by windows based drivers that are proprietary to Dell. Take for example the Dell Dimension E310 (3100), this system does not have any standard keyboard or mouse ports and offers only USB. There are postings on the web of how you can hook up a USB hub and use that to install Debian or Ubuntu and I did that and it worked fairly well and it also worked for FreeBSD but it should not have to be that way. Then take the Dell laptop B130, what a freakin nightmare to get the built in wireless to work with Linux. This laptop offers no PCMCIA and instead uses the expresscard technology in which not many cards are available if any at all. In order to get the internal wireless working, the user has to download some Dell provided broadcom drivers that can be installed through a series of modprobe and depmod commands but the success level is hit and miss. I got it working maybe once but when I rebooted the settings were gone and when I repeated the process it would not work again. If using just the onboard ethernet then this laptap works like a charm with Debian, Ubuntu, Suse and BSD but be prepared for a very long night if you want that wireless working. Here is a good one though, if you blow away the preconfigured XP install on this new laptop and then try and reinstall XP, it blue screens during the install every time and never succeeds!!

Re:The Linux Flaw (3, Interesting)

amide_one (750148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578420)

In other words, "there's lots of cool stuff you can do if you know how, but it's not always immediately obvious how". So... you want it spelled out for you or what? Except... wait... that's just what's already been done in this book. Except... wait... apparently the simple fact that this book is potentially useful is "what's wrong with Linux". Linux should make it blindingly obvious how to handle the "special case of configuring a seven button mouse with a tilted scroll wheel to work properly". (Does Windows, yet?)

I haven't seen the book but I've used (K)ubuntu and most of the stuff sounds like information that's already pretty freely available -- for instance, "know how to enable audio and video applications bundled with Ubuntu to play these restricted media files" turns out to be covered very nicely [ubuntu.com] on the Ubuntu support wiki. Dunno how much extra this book adds to that info, but the wiki already includes the "takes the prize" tip on how to get stuff from iTMS.

In other words -- don't complain that people are working hard to make it much easier for "non-techy" users to do "oridinary" tasks (like spelling).

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578950)

Linux should make it blindingly obvious how to handle the "special case of configuring a seven button mouse with a tilted scroll wheel to work properly". (Does Windows, yet?)

In windows this functionality is provided by the driver; there are hooks to allow adding property pages to the mouse control panel. Windows itself only recognizes a small handful of mouse events; AFAIK they are positional (both differential and absolute) and some mouse buttons. I'm not sure if more than three buttons are directly supported, but the way it is normally handled is that you map the other buttons to keystrokes (or macros) and those keypresses are stuffed into the keyboard buffer (or similar) and they end up looking like any normal keypress.

Any device covered by DirectInput (anything with a windows input-class driver, like a mouse or keyboard device, or any USB HID input class device) is supported in DirectX games which use DirectInput (pretty much all of them.) Any button on any device is supported. In general they are just listed by number.

Linux SDL provides the same kind of functionality, but that's about as much as I know about the Linux support... But anyway, if you had an umpteen-button USB HID input-class mouse, it would definitely be supported on Windows. Buttons 1, 2, and 3 would be left, right, and middle, in that order. If the device defines a primary scrolling wheel, then those events will work as well.

Re:The Linux Flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578424)

'Cause we all know posting to /. (or anywhere on the internets) is such a wonderful example of integrity, right?

Re:The Linux Flaw (5, Insightful)

Braino420 (896819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578433)

What [amazon.com] about [amazon.com] the [amazon.com] Microsoft [amazon.com] hacks [amazon.com] ? And yes, most of those books talk about "getting updated",installing drivers, web browsing and changing themes. Oh ya, there is even something included in there that isn't in the Ubuntu one: controlling spyware.
I think I've just been trolled.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578452)

Such books exist for every mainstream OS. Including MacOS X.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578470)

I love linux ... but sadly this statement sums up it's flaw ... in order to do oridinary tasks, you must know "hacks". Non-techy users just can't understand, let alone perform such "hacks".

Ah - so if "Ubuntu Hacks" gives a bad impression, what do you think of "Windows Annoyances" [annoyances.org] available from all good booksellers?

Cheers,
Toby Haynes

A Linux Zealot probably wrote that book. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578485)

Your little dig proves nothing, except that even the Devil can quote Scripture.

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578512)

in order to do oridinary tasks, you must know "hacks".
I still can't figure out how to set programs like calc.exe under windows to stay ontop of others while using the other applications.

Non-techy users just can't understand, let alone perform such "hacks".
I'm a techie user and I still can't get Windows todo most of things I want.

Re:The Linux Flaw (2, Interesting)

williambbertram (958094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578639)

I've been using the current Ubuntu at home in a fairly complex environment, and the amount of normal computing tasks that require hacks seem minimal. There were a few thing that required some googline like installing JRE, pptp, and flash but on the whole it's workable. Photo management (simple red eye / crop / slideshow like Picassa, not photo editing with beefy complex apps like Gimp or Photoshop) is still a little rough. Even Picassa for Linux has some major issues to work out. I tried to print several very small .jpg, .gif, and .png files to two different printers and the print jobs were blown up to 300+MB in the spooler. GThumb doesn't have red eye, crop, or any tools like that. I tried several other photo management packages that were ok, but still not quite there. I guess my point is that Ubuntu is very useable, but some tasks are still going to be painful, and others will still require "hacks". This "hack" problem is not limited to Ubuntu though. I sold 10 PC's at a garage sale last year, 5 of which I KNOW are still running Ubuntu because I know the people. NONE of those people have called me with spyware, virus, or any of the goofy buggy shit you commonly see on Windows. People I know who use XP are CONSTANTLY bugging me with spyware, virus, broken MSI installers, windows updates that break something they're using, PC's that won't boot, cheap hardware with poorly written drivers causing BSOD's, you name it. My point is that Ubuntu still requires a few "hacks", but my Ubuntu users seem to require far less maintenance than my XP users. Maybe someone could write a hack for XP that makes less people call me to fix it!

Re:The Linux Flaw (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578700)

There is a hack, its called Linux.

Or the alternative hack is a caller display system for your phone. That way when the windows users ring up you can ignore them, after all you know what they will want already.

Dapper Hacks, or Ubuntu in general? (0, Redundant)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578651)

I know I'll get modded down for this, but...


I really like Ubuntu, but since I upgraded to Dapper from Breezy, things that used to work flawlessly are now either a pain to get working or still impossible.


three useful hacks off the top of my head: USB scanning - broken in Dapper. Haven' t found a way to fix it yet. USB printing - broken in Dapper, but found an answer in the Ubuntu forums. Touchpad driver - broken in Dapper. Haven't found a way to enable sidebar scrolling.


Any hacks mentioned to get these simple things working again?


All these things worked out of the box with Breezy.

Re:Dapper Hacks, or Ubuntu in general? (1)

JamesGecko (797637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578912)

USB printing worked out of the box for me. I don't know what kind of printer you have, but my Grandfather's HL-1240 works great with Ubuntu. I didn't even have to download any additional drivers.

My Touchpad also was set up, no fuss. The side scrolls and tapping the bottom right corner actives a right click menu.

I suggest you file some bug reports. :-)

Re:Dapper Hacks, or Ubuntu in general? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579357)

It has to do with Dapper's CUPS install. A well known problem. Google Dapper+CUPS and you'll see many complaints. FWIW, my printer is an HP PSC 2175, which worked beautifully in Breezy. Seems fresh installs don't suffer from this, only upgrades.

Same situation with Dapper+Touchpad. Again, a known problem. And it also worked flawlessly in Breezy.

Re:Dapper Hacks, or Ubuntu in general? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579005)

three useful hacks off the top of my head: USB scanning - broken in Dapper.

No it isn't. I have a Canon LiDE 20 (or was it 30?) that I got at fry's for $40. I plugged it in, and it worked. Actually, I had one, I broke the glass recently :(

Re:Dapper Hacks, or Ubuntu in general? (1)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579677)

Ubutu broke your printer glass?

Take that, linux fanboys!

You're absolutely right... (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579027)

in order to do oridinary[sic] tasks, you must know "hacks"


With MS-Windows [google.com] you don't need to know any hacks. There are books [annoyances.org] about MS-Windows [amazon.com] but they aren't about hacks.


BTW, doesn't your browser do spell checking? The one I use, in a standard Ubuntu installation without any hacks, shows your "oridinary" in red, it's easy to find typos that way.

One.. (-1, Offtopic)

euxneks (516538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578315)

When one speaks such as this, one can't help but sound a little bit on the hoidy-toidy side. One does hope one doesn't speak like one did in one's review. One would be terribly bored with one speaking such as one did. ;P

Seriously though, who writes like that anymore? I think I would have been a bit more interested in this review if there weren't so much "one this" and "one that". IANAEM (english major) but I don't think it's entirely appropriate to use "one" in a case such as this.

Re:One.. (1)

bzerodi (731405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578461)

IANAEM (english major) but I don't think it's entirely appropriate to use "one" in a case such as this.

Perhaps there's a Slackware Hacks book coming out ?

Re:One.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578516)

Seriously though, who writes like that anymore?

People that write correctly, that's who.

Re:One.. (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578584)

Seriously though, who writes like that anymore?

People that write correctly, that's who.


      Ahem. People WHO write correctly, that's who.

Re:One.. (2, Interesting)

cranos (592602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579255)

SHouldn't that be:

Ahem. People WHO write correctly, that's WHOM.

Re:One.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15579326)

No, it's "that is who" ("that's who") because "is" takes no direct object, rather, it has a subject complement, e.g., "This is he," not *"This is him."

This post brought to you by the Grammatical Inquisition.

Re:One.. (2, Funny)

Gryle (933382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579863)

Still, less expected than the Spanish Inquisition!

Re:One.. (5, Interesting)

jimmyfergus (726978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578855)

Actually, it's completely appropriate. It seems you, like the British aristocracy, don't understand how to use it. They say "one" when they mean a specific person, usually themselves, too, or at least they used to. In your post, "Such as one did", is nonsense.

It's sad that such useful usage has become passe, usually inappropriately replaced with 'you'. The aforementioned royalty and their hangers-on probably had a lot to do with its fall from grace.

Think about it - to express, for instance, that people should generally be polite, people now usually say "you should be polite", which strictly speaking arrogantly excludes the speaker. Much better to say "one should be polite" ...it's more polite ;).

But then, sadly, ignorant people think you are affected.

Re:One.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578997)

But then, sadly, ignorant people think you are affected.

If they are truly ignorant, they think you are effected.

Re:One.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15579597)

Actually, in British English it's more common to replace instances of "one" with sentences in the passive. It makes sentences clearer, avoids the appearance of being "affected", and is generally easier to understand. Thus, your example sentence would be "Politeness is good", or "It is better to be polite" etc depending on context.

And as for the British Aristocracy using "one" to refer to themselves, that's because no-one addresses them directly, including themselves. Even "your Majesty" is an indirect address, because it addresses their "Majesty" rather than them personally. I wonder when the last time someone addressed the queen as "Liz" was...

Re:One.. (1)

Milton Waddams (739213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579396)

I actually think it's quite refreshing to read a well written and measured article on the web. So much stuff on the web seems to be written by the same people that graffiti public toilets.

Re:One.. (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579555)

I agree, and am pleasantly surprised whenever I find such an article to read on 'the web.' This book review wasn't one, though.

Re:One.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15579917)

I thought he was talking to Number One from Star Trek.

Re:One.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15579982)

Disclaimer: I have a bachelor's in Linguistics.

While it is fine to say 'one' when referring to a third person without referring to that person's gender, it has certainly gone out of common usage. Many actually feel that to use such phrasing is to show a certain amount of snobbery or pedanticism. In the reality of spoken English, we actually tend to use the third person plural (they, them) when we want to obscure the gender of the person in question (as opposed to using the traditional third person singular pronouns he/she, him/her, etc.), often to avoid the more akward "he or she." While this is not technically correct (if you're into prescriptivism), there's nothing actually wrong with it. The point of language is communication. As an English speaking society, we've decided on a certain set of rules, but nothing is stopping us from trampling all over those rules and rewriting them. It's happened many times before and doubtless it will continue--even to the point that we won't recognize our own language. Imagine what Chaucer or Shakespeare would think should he happen to find himself in modern company.

Re:One.. (3, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15580018)

Imagine what Chaucer or Shakespeare would think should he happen to find himself in modern company.

    They would both think "RTFM".

other uses for one hack (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578325)

and even a tip on creating videos by capturing what is done on the desktop which could be really useful when shared with others while seeking help on a particular error.
Or could be very useful for showing $[RECENTEXWINDOWSUSERRELATIVE] what they did that was a no-no. Plus provide hundreds of chuckles to Linux maestros who get to laugh at the video of the silly user who smacked his system upside the head yet again.

distro fragmentation (3, Interesting)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578333)

shouldn't most distro hacks be more applicable to any distro, or has linux become too fragmented? every distro has different ways to handle packages, and ubuntu's (synaptic) is a good front end to apt-get. I really like it far better than the rpm methods. however, most "hacks", such as installing LAMP, tuning perforamnce, file sharing, etc., should be mostly the same for all linux distros. I liked the Knoppix hacks from a while ago which was cool in that you could do things like build your own specialty live CD. Things like that are truly hacks. Configuring X or getting DVD's to play in ubuntu are hardly hacks. Ubunut is a great distro and I use it now instead of Fedora or Mandr*.

Re:distro fragmentation (2, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578418)

Generally, a "hack" on one distro will work on another if they are related. For instance, I'm pretty sure most of these would work with Debian with minor adjustments. Of course, many such adjustments will also work just fine with Fedora/etc. if you change "apt-get" to "yum" and "sudo" to "su -c".

In my experiences, one of the main factors tends to be package managment. Does the distro use .deb or .rpm?

Re:distro fragmentation (2, Insightful)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579197)

In my experiences, one of the main factors tends to be package managment. Does the distro use .deb or .rpm?

It does'nt make any difference. .deb and RPM are just package format; a way to carry files, meta-data and (de)installation scripts. Technically, they are both pretty close in term of functionnalities. The real difference between distro packaging is two-folds : high-level package manager (apt, yum, urpm, yast, emerge, etc), and quality of packaging.

The two main high-level package manager are apt and yum. Yum is serviceable, but slow (so is YaST). Apt is very fast, but quirky at times. I have a love-hate relationship with both. Functionnally, they are pretty similar.

Where Debian-derived usually spank the competition is quality of packaging. It's hard to beat the result of the Debian packaging policy and thorough QA. Compared to Debian, RedHat feel slapped together by amateur. And don't mention Mandriva, I will puke.

So in the end, RPM or .deb, it does'nt make any difference. Even the choice of high-level package management tools is really just a matter of taste at this point. What really make or break a distro is the amount and quality of work that have gone into brewing the distro.

Re:distro fragmentation (2, Insightful)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579259)

however, most "hacks", such as installing LAMP, tuning perforamnce, file sharing, etc., should be mostly the same for all linux distros.

Hummmm ... no. SysV init management, configuration files localisation (layout of /etc), default configuration of various subsystem, etc vary greatly between distro. Example : Apache configuration. In RedHat and friends, the default config is pretty vanilla, and reside in /etc/httpd. In Debian, it's in /etc/apache2, and the way virtual hosts configuration is managed (sites-available/sites-enabled symlinks) is pretty unique (and astucious).

Some people find the differences irritating and call that "fragmentation". Personnally, I think they are mostly superficial, and become clear once you know the fundation and rational behind the distro design. You need to know your tools, anyway.

Ok. You Piqued My Interest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578346)

I'm interested in how to buy music and play music from iTunes Music Store(ITMS) from within Linux. Is this for real or is this iTunes on Wine and a lot of pain?

I'm interested in the video recording as well. Is this desktop video application or is this Flash via VNC?

My interest is piqued but, not enough to spend $30 to find out that it's just Windows apps running on Wine. Can anyone elaborate?

Re:Ok. You Piqued My Interest. (2, Informative)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578492)

I'm interested in how to buy music and play music from iTunes Music Store(ITMS) from within Linux. Is this for real or is this iTunes on Wine and a lot of pain?
Use Firefox or Opera to buy music.

There is some software you can use (combined with VLC) to decrypt Apple's DRM files into raw AAC streams, and stick them into .mp4 containers.

However, why would you want to buy from iTunes when you can buy unencrypted (no DRM) high quality files from All of mp3 [allofmp3.com] ? Which can come in higher quality.

If you want iTunes on Linux OS, you're better off using crossover office [codeweavers.com] instead of Wine, here is the compatibility information [codeweavers.com] .

I'm interested in the video recording as well. Is this desktop video application or is this Flash via VNC?
I use VLC for recording Video on Linux. As for Flash via VNC... What the hell is that about?

My interest is piqued but, not enough to spend $30 to find out that it's just Windows apps running on Wine.
Books take up too much room here, I'm not getting it either.

Re:Ok. You Piqued My Interest. (3, Interesting)

mindtriggerz (914619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579010)

DVD Jon has a program called Sharp(#) Musique that allows you to buy from the iTMS in Linux, and without DRM too. Unfortionatly, if you've used iTunes v6 it does not work for purchasing. However, there is a 3rd party patch floating arround that fixes this. #Musique is availible from http://nanocrew.net/ [nanocrew.net]

Re:RestrictedFormats (1)

xerxesdaphat (767728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579478)

On the Ubuntu wiki's RestrictedFormats page there is information pertaining to getting stuff from iTMS: here [ubuntu.com]

Regarding 101-things-to-do dept (2, Insightful)

Valthan (977851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578384)

Shouldn't it be "100-things-to-do" dept since it has 100 "hacks"? Just an observation...

Re:Regarding 101-things-to-do dept (1)

drazaelb (127150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578454)

Things to do:

1. Buy the book.
2. Try Hack #1.
etc.

Re:Regarding 101-things-to-do dept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578818)

Perhaps...
summary This book contains around a 100 hacks in configuring various aspects of Ubuntu.

and perhaps 101 is "around 100"?

Where's the icon? (2)

ABoerma (941672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578392)

Odd. This is the first story on Ubuntu I've seen without the Debian icon.

A better book on hacking would be: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578408)

Ubuntu Hacks - Tips and Tools for Exploring, Using and Tuning Linux

This reminds me of another nice book I purchased recently:

A Dozen Hacks - Tips and Tools for Exploring, Using and Tuning Your Mom. [wikipedia.org]

I found it very useful last night. Although I'm not sure these were really hacks so much as just interesting ways of doing things with your mom.

Ubuntu Hacks (1)

drpimp (900837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578434)

Take Debian, hack it, yield Ubuntu.

Use ubuntuforums.org (4, Informative)

Bleeblah (602029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578435)

These sound like basic HOWTOs to me, instead of hacks. And if you need Ubuntu HOWTOs, look no further than www.ubuntuforums.org.

Not to be too pedantic about it, but... (1, Insightful)

caudron (466327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578449)

...this is a book summary, not a book review.

I'm not saying it isn't useful, nor that it doesn't have a place on /., but it most certainly is not a book review. It's a reasonably helpful summary of contents.

Tom Caudron
http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]

Re:Not to be too pedantic about it, but... (4, Funny)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578737)

Well, at least you got to plug your blog either way. Thank god for that.

I mean, if I hadn't discovered you blog (which is automatically linked as part of your user comment header, by the way; hows that for redundancy?) with it's gnome tips, funny pictures and flash animations (that obviously won't work on any real linux-users machine) I would have been seriously intellectually impoverished.

Either way, I think the word I'm looking for is thankyou.

Re:Not to be too pedantic about it, but... (4, Funny)

caudron (466327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579997)

Well, at least you got to plug your blog either way.

If my blog interests you, perhaps you'd also like to sign up for my Tom.DigitalElite.Com [digitalelite.com] newsletter.

I also have Tom.DigitalElite.Com [digitalelite.com] coffee mugs and t-shirts for the serious fan.

For the more sedate sophisticate such as yourself, I offer a Tom.DigitalElite.Com [digitalelite.com] roasted java bean blend---smooth, satisfying, and oh so mmmmm, just like my blog [digitalelite.com] .

At my blog [digitalelite.com] , you'll find that sarcasm is but one of the many services I provide free of charge.

Act now, I'll throw in a free Tom.DigitalElite.Com [digitalelite.com] "Lonely Fornication" baseball cap.

Tom Caudron
http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]

But what version? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15578488)

I read the review, checked out the book web site, and looked at the Amazon.com site - nowhere, that I saw, did it mention the version of Ubuntu that it covers.

One would hope, but unfortunately, must assume (and you know what that means) that it is for the 6.06 version that was recently released.

Re:But what version? (1)

sarcasticfrench (949383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15580058)

In the last paragraph of the review it says the hacks are for Ubuntu 6.06, aka Dapper Drake.

Ubuntu Hacks... thanks for the review! (5, Informative)

WildBill1941 (187641) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578490)

Thanks for the positive review of Ubuntu Hacks. As one of its authors, I'm very pleased to see that the book is well received so far. We geared the book for the Dapper Drake release, and doing that was no easy feat as it was a moving target the whole time. We'd write a hack, and then we'd have to continually revise things as the code changed and new features got rolled in. I believe I rewrote the Java hack at least three times, thanks to the fact that Sun relaxed their licensing.

At any rate; I'm very pleased to see that the book is well accepted. Thanks again for the good review. I'd like to add that we're going to continue to update things at the http://www.ubuntuhacks.com/ [ubuntuhacks.com] blog - there's no real content there at the moment, but as we think of new things or there are new developments in the Ubuntu world we'll keep that site up to date.

- Bill

Re:Ubuntu Hacks... thanks for the review! (1)

BroncoInCalifornia (605476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579354)

I will have to get a copy of the book. I met one of the authors when he was working on the book in a coffee shop in Gilroy CA. I am glad the book turned out well.

That's UNencumbered to you (2, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578623)

Ubuntu like other main stream GNU/Linux distributions is encumbered by the patent restrictions related to various popular multimedia file formats.

Actually, what you mean to say is that Ubuntu is not encumbered by the patent restrictions on certain multimedia formats, because it does not include support for those formats.

Re:That's UNencumbered to you (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578771)

"encumbered - To hinder or impede the action or performance of"

Ubuntu IS encumbered by patent restrictions, unless you are trying to say ubuntu supports those formats out of the box? Nice try though..

aaah! (1)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15578763)

omg h8x!

*reports to a GM*

I considered not posting this, but hey, my karma can't get any worse, right?

The book is outright wrong on several points (1)

Tetravus (79831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579238)

From the book:

The Dapper Drake release of Ubuntu Linux includes the new gnome-power-manager package, which enables ACPI sleep much like the system-tray power applet in Windows. Finally, sleep "just works" in Linux. The gnome-power-manager applet is configured to start automatically, and it lives in GNOME's panel notification area. If you right-click on the little battery icon, you'll see a menu pop up, as shown in Figure 4-1.

Figure 4-1. gnome-power-manager in action

This deceptively simple little application gives you a lot of control over your laptop's sleep behavior. If you click on Preferences, you'll see the Power Management Preferences dialog box shown in Figure 4-2. In this dialog's Sleep tab, you can configure different behavior depending on whether you're plugged into AC power or running on battery. One of the most interesting features is your ability to control the backlight brightness of your laptop's screen depending on the machine's power state. It happens to work out that a large consumer of power in a laptop is the screen's backlight, so being able to automatically turn down that lamp while on battery will help squeeze more runtime out of the system while it's unplugged.

Figure 4-2. The Sleep tab of gnome-power-manager

The Options tab (see Figure 4-3) is where you can set the default type of sleep you wish for the system to use, as well as what actions will engage the sleep mechanism. For this hack, the default sleep type is set to Suspend, which refers to ACPI sleep. (Hibernate [Hack #39]">Figure 4-3) is where you can set the default type of sleep you wish for the system to use, as well as what actions will engage the sleep mechanism. For this hack, the default sleep type is set to Suspend, which refers to ACPI sleep. (Hibernate [Hack #39] is a totally different type of sleep mechanism.) If you wish, under the Actions section of the dialog box, you can set the system to automatically sleep when the laptop lid is closed. This is a very handy feature if you're on the go: simply shut the lid and run off to your next appointment; then open the lid later, and the machine will wake up without any intervention.

Figure 4-3. gnome-power-manager's Options tab

The Advanced tab of the dialog (Figure 4-4) controls the notification icon's behavior. If you want the icon to appear only when you're charging or discharging, or you want to turn off the icon altogether, here's where you change those settings.

Figure 4-4. gnome-power-manager's Advanced dialog
When you have all your settings configured to your liking, simply click the Close button, and the dialog box will close, saving your configuration changes.

Testing ACPI Sleep

Your system is now ready for you to test sleep mode. Ensure that your system is running on battery; then simply shut the lid of the laptop and see what happens. You should hear the hard disk power down, and one of the power LEDs should indicate a power-state change by blinking or some other method. Hopefully, your machine went to sleep properly. Now you need to see if it wakes up correctly. Simply open the lid, and the computer should start waking up. When it's ready for use, you'll be prompted for your system password by gnome-screensaver. Enter your password, and your system should be in the exact same state as it was when you powered it off.

Thanks to the hard work of the Ubuntu developers, something that used to be extremely difficult to accomplish in Linux has been made very easy.

I followed the instructions above on my Toshiba Satellite that's running Ubuntu Dapper Drake and noticed a few things...
1. Those listings for figures don't display images in the Safari Online version of the book.
2. There is no "Sleep" tab on the power management tool.
3. There is no "Options" tab on the power management tool.
4. There is no "Advanced" tab on the power management tool.
Okay so those are minor quibbles, right? How about:
5. There are no instructions at all beyond the 'click the shiny button' guidance quoted above (yes I quoted the entire page because I'm referencing diverse parts of the 'hack' in my derivative work, this post). No troubleshooting, no common problems, no reference to web pages or even IRC channels. And no tips on what to do should your system fail to recover from a sleep state.

After setting my system to sleep when the laptop lid is closed, it was unable to fully recover. I.e. the HDD spun up and the fans kicked in, but the display wouldn't turn on. So I turned the system off using the power switch. Oops, ACPI is integrated with the kernel so the system tried to go back to sleep. I had to remove the battery to force the system to do a full reboot. Not a big deal for someone who's familiar with the proclivities of Linux on a laptop but an annoyance none the less. And one that the authors should have predicted and addressed.

Look, I love Ubuntu. It's the cat's meow. But glib instructions like those in the Ubuntu Hacks book, that assume everything will "just work" and fail to provide any troubleshooting guidelines or even functioning screenshots, are more harmful than helpful to end users.

The Good Old Books are better (2, Interesting)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15579591)

I prefer the classic old books on Unix. It should have a chapter on setting up your environment (i.e. .cshrc) and should cover all the important dotfiles. It should have a chapter on ed/ex/vi, preferrably one that starts with the ed commands and branches forward. It needs to have a roff chapter, since that was the first really useful application on Unix. Shell scripting is another must, and should start with /bin/sh and only after that is covered branch into any of the arcana of newer scripting.

When I first started involving myself with the freenixes, there wasn't anything else out there in printed documentation but ye olde Unix books and a few things newer things from O'Reilly (the _UNIX Power Tools_ book is excellent and will remain very very relevant for a long time, if we can fight off the GUI mess people seem to think that other people want). My favorite UNIX book is still one published by Osborne back in, I think, about 1983. It fulfills all the requirements I listed in the above paragraph.

Any book with screenshots in it is disallowed from consideration. If there MUST be illustrations, and there are cases where they are helpful, they should look like nothing more than what one can come up with using Xfig.

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