Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Linux Desktop User’s Tips

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These are short and easy things to do which can make your Linux desktop even more convenient than it currently is. Trying Ubuntu out without changing your distribution or creating a new drive partition or installing it on another HD, setting up OpenOffice so ability to read/write Windows Office 2007 word processor documents are what you’ll learn how to do today.

The instructions assume you’ve got a working VMware Server, perhaps one you set up to run a Windows VMware guest. If you don’t, I recommend you find VMware Server instructions specific to your distro.

Installing a Linux OS on an installed VMware Server is relatively easy. Start the wizard by: From the main VMware Server Console tab: Push the “Create a New Virtual Machine” button.

Install as you would anywhere else. You may find that it can’t see all the USB peripherals connected to the host in Main VMware Window > VM > Removable Devices > USB devices. See the Troubleshooting section later in this article for the most likely problem/solution.

Setting Up VMware Tools

This is critical because in order to make easy clipboard data transfers between the guest VMs to from each other or the host,. one has to have VMware Tools running. Less important, with it running, you can move your cursor on and off the VM window containing your Ubuntu session without having to hit Control-Alt to release it.

Oddly enough, this is a bit harder on from a Linux guest, because the files are in a ISO containing a tarball.

First, in the main VMware Server console, go to VM in the main menu and select Install VMware Tools.

When you select it, a directory window will open to the content of a virtual .iso .Double-click the tar.gz file; a new folder called vmware-tools-distrib will appear. Drag the drop the directory anywhere convenient.

# cd vmware-tools-distrib
# ./vmware-install.pl

Hit the key every time it asks you to choose a directory path, If you chose to install VMware Server to somewhere other than the defaults, you’re on your own.

Create the desktop icon right-clicking on the desktop and selecting “Create Launcher.” Leave Menu set to “Application” and fill in Name: VMware Tools. The command needs to be /usr/bin/vmware-toolbox. Click OK.

To run VMware tools, click on your new icon, set anything appropriate, and minimize. You’ll want to run it whenever you have your VM running.


The following are the sound instructions from my windows 98.vmx file. To get my missing sound connection working, I copied sound-related instructions from my file shown below.

I copied them into the Ubuntu.vmx file and I had sound working immediately. This method may work on other missing sections of a .vmx file.

sound.present = “TRUE”
sound.startConnected = “TRUE”
sound.fileName = “-1”
sound.autodetect = “TRUE”
sound.virtualDev = “es1371”

ODF Converter for Debian and Debian-Derived Distros

ODF Converter makes it possible for people to read and write MS Word 2007 .DOCX files in OpenOffice.org . It’s word processor only, spreadsheets, etc. don’t run at this time with it.

I use Debian-testing. This should also work on Ubuntu, etc.

As anyone who’s looked knows, ODF Converter is distributed by Novell in .rpm format and not in .deb . As it turns out, this is an rpm which can be converted via the Debian alien utility, which can convert rpm format to deb or tarball or other formats. (if “other formats” interests you, $man alien for more information)

Get the files from here

Get both files, download them to anywhere convenient. You should be able to copy and paste each instruction directly into your console window.

So, as root (when the tarball is untarred, you’ll need root access to get the files into /usr):

# alien –to-tgz –scripts odf-converter-1.0.0-5.i586.rpm

# tar -xzvf odf-converter-1.0.0.tgz

Don’t bother cd-ing to the directory the tarball expands to; there isn’t one. The files are all over the disk. Just copy the directories as indicated:

# cp /usr/lib/ooo-2.0/program/OdfConverter /usr/lib/openoffice/program/

# cp /usr/lib/ooo-2.0/share/registry/modules/org/openoffice/TypeDetection/Filter/MOOXFilter_cpp.xcu /usr/lib/openoffice/share/registry/modules/org/openoffice/TypeDetection/Filter/

# cp /usr/lib/ooo-2.0/share/registry/modules/org/openoffice/TypeDetection/Types/MOOXTypeDetection.xcu /usr/lib/openoffice/share/registry/modules/org/openoffice/TypeDetection/Types/

This worked for me, but the conversion takes a long time to run and is resource-intensive, I’d guess about 20 minutes or more on a 201 page .DOCX test document I found, and running about 99% CPU utilization in one core of my Athlon 4200×2 dual core processor.

The test document I used was Office Open XML Part 1 – Fundamentals. You might want to look for a shorter one.

It’s a lot faster for shorter documents. Turning this article into .docx took about 2 seconds. Turning my 34 page business plan into docx took about 30 seconds, opening it in OpenOffice.org took less than a minute. I’m not sure how this handles dual/multicore processors, I saw it using both cores for shorter documents and a single core for longer ones, which doesn’t make sense.

If you change your mind about a document conversion, the best way to shut down ODF Converter is to do ps -A and kill -9 processID. Shutting down the OpenOffice.org Writer window will probably leave the converter running and crash any other OpenOffice.org windows you’ve got running.

For instance:

$ ps -A
4359 ODFConverter
$ kill -9 4359


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