lunes, 28 de febrero de 2011

How to add personalized icons to Kopete

My first experience with an IM (chat) session in Linux was through Kopete, the KDE IM client, but I stopped using it because I found it rather stiff and its interface was "too complicated". By the last statement, I should have said "too different from MSN Live Messenger" instead.

Anyway, I have been using Kopete for some time now because I was attracted back to it by its many functionalities and I have to admit that it is a remarkable IM client. It has lots of features, like handling multiple accounts, multiple IM services, and multiple identities. It's great that you can have Kopete manage your accounts in MSN, Yahoo, and Gmail because, thanks to KDE integration, you receive an immediate notification when a new mail hits any of your mail accounts.

However, the icon set that comes with it is rather limited, so for those who enjoy sending emoticons every other line or for whom "an image speaks a thousand words", Kopete might seem lacking.

If you are one of the people for whom emoticons are vital, you can always install more icon sets to use with Kopete. The process is very simple. First, do not look for a way to do it from the program (the "Windows way" of doing things!). There are just too many places to explore and one gets lost easily.

This is how you can retrieve emoticon sets and add your own (the Linux newbie way, that is):

Step 1. Look for KDE configuration options (Configure Desktop) in the lower panel. Click on the tools icon.
Step 2. A Windows opens. Click on the "Appearance" icon.
Step 3. Find the emoticon section. You will see it a the bottom of the new window that opens.
Step 4. Click emoticons (You are almost done!). This is pretty much what you see.
KDE 4 corresponds to the KDE built-in emoticon set. I installed the Kadu penguins, the onigiri and the qip sets.

To add new sets
, just go to the options below, where it says "get new icon theme". You will be taken to the available sets. Click and add to your heart's content!

To add your personalized icons, put all the images or animated gifs in the same folder and make sure you don't move it later. Then, from step 4, select a theme other than KDE 4 (you cannot modify that one!) and go right, where it says "add".
A small windows opens:
The blank square corresponds to the emoticon you are about to add. Click on the blank square and find the folder where your emoticon is. Select it. It will replace the blank square. The dialog line next to it is for the trigger code. Type there the word or initials that will fire up the emoticon in an IM/Chat session, like this:
Then click "accept" and then "apply" and you are ready to go. I'm using Mandriva 2010.2, KDE, but the same tutorial should be applicable to any KDE-based distro with some minor changes.

sábado, 26 de febrero de 2011

2010 FLOSS Workshop Aftershock: An Unexpected Invitation

In a former post, I talked about how Open Source was becoming more visible in the university where I work. That post was followed by another one narrating our speech in a congress and the post about our workshop (described by Megatotoro here).

Well, I thought that had been all our contribution to raise awareness on the existence of multiple choices when dealing with computers. However, yesterday I got an email that startled me. It was a request from a project coordinator asking Megatotoro and I to participate as the main speakers in another workshop. The idea was to cover the following topics:

1. How to install Ubuntu/Mandriva (I'd like to add Mepis, Pardus and Mint, haha)
2. How to work with open word processors, spreadsheets, electronic presentations
3. How to save documents in compatibility mode (This one is funny. People still fail to see that incompatibility issues spring from Microsoft, not from open documents)
4. How to dual boot Linux/Windows.

This hands-on workshop is again addressed to professors. They chose us, it turns out, because both Megatotoro and I are not technical users, which proves that ANYONE can use Linux.

What does this say to me? Well, the more people discover that Windows is neither the only nor necessarily the best OS available, the closer we are to the end of the Windows era. Yes, when people see that they have choices, they begin to do what Microsoft has never wanted them to do: choose!

Plurality is always beneficial. It fosters innovation, cooperation (and competition, why not?) and guarantees freedom. Upon those conditions, a wonderful phenomenon takes place: it's called PROGRESS.

But don't panic, Windows fanboys: if more people start using Linux, maybe that is going to benefit Windows users in the long run, too. Who knows? Perhaps Microsoft will be forced to release an OS that can rival Linux security without all the bloatware, antivirus paranoia, etc. that actually makes users switch to Linux! That would be progress!

martes, 15 de febrero de 2011

This is MAGEIA!

Well, OK, I am not a developer. My knowledge is not technical, so this Mageia Alpha 1 was not targeted to me. But who would blame me for trying it out?

This is what the installing sequence of Mageia looks like:

After the language selection (this alpha does include SPANISH!), the license, and the partitioning, all of them very PowerPackish, you see this:
Then, you type your root password and create your user account:
After which you create the GRUB and read a summary. Then you install updates, again, very Mandriva-style:
That's the installation: a real piece of cake. When complete, you read this message:

So, you boot the system up and you get to see this, the Mageia GRUB:

and the splash screen:


That's as far as I got.

As you can see, the alpha looks promising and, to be an early release, you can appreciate all the effort that has been put into the making of this new distro.

CONGRATULATIONS, MAGEIA TEAM! AWESOME WORK!!
¡FELICITACIONES, EQUIPO MAGEIA! ¡¡IMPRESIONANTE TRABAJO!!
マジアチーム、おめでとう
! よくできた!!

lunes, 14 de febrero de 2011

Mageia .iso released!

The clock has just stricken midnight, so it's February 15, 2011. With the sound of the clock, magic is released...wait, let me rephrase it: MAGEIA is released!

Yes, the so-awaited .iso is finally here. It's the first alpha of Mageia, named "Cantine".

Right on time, and just as anticipated by Megatotoro...
こわいい!未来が見られますか?

Well, it seems that I have to download it and give it a test drive, too.
(Yes, I'm not crazy about the logo, either)

Happy Valentine's from Mandriva!

Yes, the Mandriva Team kept their promise and released the Alpha 1 of Mandriva 2011...right on time, coming like a Valentine's gift for those who love this distro.

As the release announcement stresses, it comes with two browsers (presumably three, if we include Konqueror), Wine, and some other characteristics.

There is no mentioning of the Office Suite, so I'm curious to see if this release brings Libre Office or Open Office.

I'm also curious about the artwork.

For me, it's good that Mandriva is still alive because I have a feeling of fondness for the distro that showed me that a world "without Windows or Gates" is truly possible.

So, Happy Valentine's, Mandriva users!

sábado, 12 de febrero de 2011

Ubuntu Fan? How about a writing contest?

I stumbled on this and found it sort of interesting: Cult of Ubuntu is offering a Dell netbook (with Ubuntu preinstalled, of course) as a prize for the winner of their writing contest. Read about it here.

lunes, 7 de febrero de 2011

Free time experiments: GhostBSD, Zorin OS4, Mandriva 2011 TP

Motivated by the post on BSD that yunani deniz, my Italian friend and "un appassionato di sistemi linux" wrote, I decided to try BSD. My main problem with OSs of the BSD family is, yes, you guessed it, text installation. Luckily, I stumbled upon GhostBSD, a BSD OS that comes in a Live CD and Live DVD (I tried them both and they do pretty much the same). GhostBSD has a Gnome desktop environment
and, thanks to that, it looks like another Linux distribution to the untrained eye. However, there were several points that I did not like:
1. Partitions were not mounted.
2. Some of the software is fairly old. Firefox, for instance, would take me to a page urging me to update the browser.
3. The office suite is Abiword, Gnumeric, and a dictionary.

Unfortunately, although GhostBSD was nice enough for a simple user, it cannot be used as a rescue tool. I loved the wallpaper, by the way.

yunani deniz also commented on Zorin OS4 here and very kindly invited me to try it. About that Linux distro, Megatotoro told me that he wanted to try it, but he refrained when he saw it was an Ubuntu spinoff and that there were too many of those. I somehow shared the same impression, but I downloaded the Zorin OS 4 Live DVD and gave it a try.

I must admit that this is truly a nice work. It boots fast and the Compiz effects are well balanced, which makes the distro very attractive for those who enjoy eye candy. It also has a chameleon feature to change its appearance to several versions of Windows and even Mac OS X. When I switched to Windows 7, it crashed. That's what I call a GREAT IMITATION, just like in this comic strip! :-P

I have to say that I loved Zorin OS 4 and I agree, it's a wonderful distro. My concern is that it is an Ubuntu derivative. Please do not misinterpret me; I'm not an Ubuntu hater. I'm only thinking about what srlinuxx commented: with the new moves that Ubuntu is making, its derivatives might have a hard time (Read the comment on Tuxmachines). It would be sad to lose a project like Zorin.



Finally, I tried the new alpha 1 of the distro that made me drop Windows back in 2009: Mandriva. I downloaded the DVD of Mandriva 2011 TP and there is an adjective to summarize my experience: BUGGY!

Yes, it is as buggy as you can expect an alpha to be. But let me describe first the work-in-progress issues that I encountered. After the boot up sequence, I could not find Spanish in the language selection. In fact, I used USA as geographic location because there was not a single Spanish-speaking country on the list...Not even Spain!! How about that?

The next problem was that the system would not start the network manager. That was mentioned in the release information, so, with resignation, I decided to proceed without being able to browse the Web.

Then, I was prompted to create a user account. That was funny because it was a Live DVD, but I created it and Woah! To log in, there were three choices: Guest, Live, and the account I created (!?). Anyway, I used my account and got to the familiar Mandriva desktop. (Well, as you can see, there is no icon for HOME...I guess the home was built in Spain! ;-P)


I instinctively opened Firefox and behold! it worked! After browsing the Internet for a while, I got an error message telling me that network manager "could not load because there was another program running" and asked me if I wanted to stop that program. I decided to ignore the message and, when I minimized Firefox. the screen started acting up. Well, I hope these are temporary bugs and problems. For the most part, playing with GhostBSD, Zorin OS4 and Mandriva 2011 TP was a lot of fun.

I am also waiting for my Mageia .iso.

domingo, 6 de febrero de 2011

No le instalen Linux a su madre

Me gustaría ofrecer un consejo honesto a aquellos que se preocupan por sus progenitores y las destrezas informáticas de ellos. Hagan lo que hagan, no le instalen Linux a sus padres. Sí, ya sé que a veces sus constantes llamadas de auxilio relacionadas con problemas de seguridad, fallas del sistema e infección por virus pueden tentarlos a instalar una distribución Linux en las máquinas de sus padres...¡Pero sean fuertes y no cedan!

Por supuesto, muchos lectores pueden estar esperando (si no demandando) una explicación que justifique lo que dije. Bien, permítanme que les ahorre todo el razonamiento aburrido y, en su lugar, les presentaré una ilustración en la forma de una anécdota que espero sea suficiente.

Mi madre, quien está ya en sus cincuenta y nunca había utilizado un computador hasta hace tres años, tomó un curso sobre Windows y MS Office. Debido a esto, y con confianza en sus recién adquiridas destrezas, se compró una linda computadora. No obstante, a pesar del tiempo y esfuerzo invertido en los cursos, avanzaba muy poco gracias a las conocidas pantallas de error que Windows le muestra a todos aquellos que confían en Microsoft, sin mencionar las comunes infecciones por virus que enloquecían a la máquina. No es necesario decir que los episodios normalmente concluían con su justificada frustración ("¡No vimos nada de esto en el curso!") y nuestra visita a su casa para solucionar el problema...una y otra vez.

Entonces mi hermano llegó al término de su paciencia y le instaló Pardus Linux (Anthropoides Virgo, me parece) en el año 2010. La reacción fue inmediata: luego de una minúscula resistencia, las llamadas relativas a problemas con la computadora disminuyeron hasta casi cero. Una de sus últimas llamadas fue para contarme que se sentía orgullosa porque había podido quemar un disco de MP3 usando K3b. Realmente me sentí feliz por ella porque solía experimentar terribles problemas para hacer lo mismo con Nero.

Pero aquí viene lo más sorprendente: dado que los virus ya no eran una preocupación, el enero pasado, mi madre consiguió una conexión ASDL para acceder a Internet. Todo marchaba viento en popa hasta hace dos semanas. Recibimos una llamada suya: algo le había ocurrido al módem y no se podía conectar. Como era un problema del proveedor del servicio de Internet, la compañía envió un técnico a resolver la situación y...¡el tipo jamás había visto Pardus Linux! Este hombre se encontraba impactado porque una mujer de la edad de mi madre estaba usando Linux, un sistema operativo supuestamente complicadísimo.

Mi madre me contó que el técnico se tomó tiempo adicional para configurar el módem, pero tuvo éxito y se fue orgulloso de haberlo logrado...(¿No era Linux imposible de usar?)

Cuando le di un vistazo a la máquina, el técnico había hecho desastres con Plasma y había borrado algunas aplicaciones del panel inferior. Además, tiró los iconos del escritorio a la papelera y cambió el tamaño de la pantalla. En resumen, "no dejó títere con cabeza", como dice el Quijote.

Regresar la computadora a su estado original tomó 15 minutos y mi madre afirmó que era "porque Linux is fácil". Bueno, tiene razón. De hecho, Pardus 2011 es aún más amigable. También lo es SimplyMepis. Y Mandriva 2010.2 es fácil también de acuerdo con este artículo (en inglés).

Por lo tanto, no le instalen Linux a su madre o a su padre. Puede ser que ellos terminen adorándolo, aprendiendo lo que nunca pudieron o, en el peor de los casos, avergonzando a algún técnico desapercibido acostumbrado solamente a Windows.

sábado, 5 de febrero de 2011

Don't give Linux to your mother

I'd like to give an honest piece of advice to those who are concerned about their parents and their computer skills. Whatever you do, don't give Linux to your parents. Yes, I know that sometimes their constant calls for help regarding security breeches,crashes, and virus infections might make you feel tempted to install one Linux distribution on their computer...but be strong and don't give in!

Of course, many readers might be expecting (if not demanding!) an explanation for my position. Well, let me spare you all the boring reasoning; instead of that, I am going to give you an illustration in the form of an anecdote which I believe will suffice.

My fifty-something mother, who had never used a computer until three years ago, took a course on Windows and MS Office and, as she grew confident with her new skills, she bought herself a nice computer. However, despite all the time and money invested on her courses, she could not advance in her computer usage because she would constantly get the familiar error screens that Windows gives to those who trust Microsoft, not to mention the common virus infections that made the machine act funny. It goes without saying that the episodes would normally end with her justified frustration ("I did not cover any of this in the course!") and our visit to her house to fix the problem...time and again.

Then my brother got truly fed up and installed Pardus Linux (Anthropoides Virgo, I think) onto her hard disk in 2010. The reaction was instantaneous: after a minor resistance on her part, the calls concerning computer problems dropped to almost zero. One of her last calls was to tell me that she was proud because she had been able to burn an MP3 CD using K3b. I felt really happy for her because she had terrible problems trying to do the same in Nero.

But here comes the most remarkable thing: since viruses were no longer a problem, she got an ASDL connection to the Internet last January 10. Everything went off quite nicely until two weeks ago. We got a phone call: something had happened to the modem and she could not log in. It turned out that it was an ISP problem, so they sent a technician to solve the situation and...the guy had never seen Pardus Linux! He was extremely surprised because a woman her age was using Linux, an OS that is supposed to be horribly hard to use.

My mother told me that the technician spent some extra time trying to configure the modem, but he succeeded and went away proud because he could...(wasn't Linux impossible to use?)

When I saw the computer, the guy had messed up with Plasma and deleted some applications from the lower panel, too; he also threw the desktop icons to the garbage bin and resized the screen size. To sum up, "no puppet kept its head", as written in the Quixote.

Returning the computer to its normal state was a matter of 15 minutes and my mother said "It's because Linux is easy". Well, she is right. In fact, Pardus 2011 is even more user-friendly. So is SimplyMepis. And Mandriva 2010.2 is easy too, according to this article.

Therefore, do not give Linux to your mother or father. They might end up loving it, learning what they never could and, worst of all, putting an unsuspecting technician accustomed to Windows to shame.