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Monday, July 14, 2008

Convert CHM files to HTML/PDF

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A few years back reading book involved going to the neighborhood book shop,purchasing the book and then finding cozy place to sit and read the book . However with the advent of Internet and computing with laptops getting smaller ,less bulkier and cooler and the easy availability of Ebooks on the internet scenario has changed.These days you could go to online book shop and purchase Ebook (any time of day ) and start reading them immediately , all this sitting in your Bed.However most of these Ebooks are in CHM format (Microsoft Compiled HTML Help) ,which is a native documentation format of Windows operating system. CHM basically combines HTML and it's associated images together into a single (.chm) file.

Now by default Ubuntu and many other Linux distributions do not include support for opening (.chm) files out of box owing to CHM file being proprietary file format of Windows operating system. There are viewers available on Linux which allows you to open these files , as i had highlighted in my previous article (Read Here ). Still if you want to convert (.chm) files to (.html) or (.pdf) , maybe for sending them to your friend who does not have this chm viewer installed you can do so easily .

First open Terminal from (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) and issue the following command to install chmlib
sudo apt-get install libchm-bin
chmlib allows extracting HTML files and images from (.chm) files. Now if you want to convert extracted HTML files into PDF, PS etc , you would need to install htmldoc which you could install easily by issuing the following command in the terminal window :
sudo apt-get install htmldoc

Converting CHM files to HTML and eventually PDF


Now suppose you have a file named "Primer.chm" from which you want to extract HTML files and images into "Primer" directory , you could do so easily by issuing the following command in the terminal window :
extract_chmLib Primer.chm Primer
This should quickly extract all the HTML files and associated images from the chm file and put it into Primer directory.

Now once you have extracted the HTML , you are ready to convert them and combine them into a single (.pdf) file . Open the Terminal Window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) and issue the following command in the terminal window to launch "htmldoc"
htmldoc
Once htmldoc finishes loading its interface ,click on Continuous radio button and press "Add Files..." and add all the files you would like to combine into single PDF document, as shown in image below :

After choosing all the HTML files you would like to combine , click on the "output" tab and chose output file type to be PDF and the name and location of the finally generated PDF file.If you want you could change compression level , whether you want output to be in Grayscale etc .
Finally press the "Generate" button to actually start the process of combining (.html ) files with their images into single (.pdf) file .
Files being combined into single (.pdf) file
The entire process of combining (.html) files into (.pdf) files should not take more than few minutes , infact on my Core 2 Duo based laptop entire process of combining about 1000 page long book in HTML format to PDF format took 4 minutes.


Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Desktop on Linux Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mount ISO images easily under Nautilus

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I had purchased Lenovo y410 series laptop few months back , the laptop worked flawlessly for few months but well sadly few weeks back optical drive stopped working. I had downloaded an iso from which i wanted to run few files, now as the DVD drive on my laptop was not working and well repairs will take time so i was in a fix , about how to extract files from this ISO and run them . Searching Google , Ubuntu forums etc i found a very simple and easy way of mounting ISO's under nautilus which i am trying to document here in this article.


Open the terminal window(Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) and issue the following commands in the terminal window :

wget http://www.debianadmin.com/images/iso/mount.sh
and
wget http://www.debianadmin.com/images/iso/unmount.sh

Now we need to change the file permissions , to make the above script executable. Which we could do by issuing the following command in the terminal window :

sudo chmod +x mount.sh

sudo chmod +x unmount.sh

Finally we move the above scripts to nautilus directory by issuing the following command in the terminal window ;

sudo mv mount.sh ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/

sudo mv unmount.sh ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/

Now open nautilus and inside nautilus open directory containing ISO image you want to mount. Right Click on the ISO image and you will find menu similar to one shown below :


Click on the mount.sh file , if ISO file mounts properly you will find two dialog boxes similar to one shown below :

Also on the desktop you should find the icon of the mounted DVD/CD ISO file .
Now if you want to unmount the ISO volume , right click on the icon of the mounted ISO and click on the unmount.sh as shown in figure below :
Tutorial Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Desktop on Linux Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cheese : Easy to use WebCam application for Linux

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Cheese is an open source GNOME application that allows you to use your WebCam for taking photos and recording videos. Cheese has an intuitive interface which somewhat resembles that of Phonebooth, a similar application available on the Mac OS X Platform. Based on GStreamer framework , it allows you to introduce various fancy graphical effects into your photos and videos.


Cheese is available in Ubuntu 8.04 Repositories and hence can be easily installed by typing in the following command in the terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) :

sudo apt-get install cheese



After installation is over you can launch Cheese from (Applications -> Graphics -> Cheese ) .
This is how Cheese looks


Cheese is really simple to use, the entire window is divided into two parts . The bottom part of the Cheese window has a file manager that displays all the videos and photos you have taken till date.Double clicking any photo opens that photo in the "Eye for Gnome" application(or any application you have set as default for opening image files ) while clicking on Video files opens the Totem Movie Player. Now for capturing photos you need to click on the Photo button to set Cheese into Photo capturing mode and then press the "Take a photo " button, Similarly for capturing video you need to click the "Video" button to set the Cheese application into video capturing mode and the click on the "Start recording" button to actually start capturing video from the WebCam.
Now Cheese provides you with a number of really cool graphic effects too though limited, Still some of the Graphic effects are really good, giving your images and videos a new creative look.Also you can apply multiple effects to your images/videos by selecting more than one effect.
Effects available in Cheese

Another fun thing about the Cheese application is the Count Down from 3-2-1 and then Screenflash before taking Photo snaps.
Countdown !!!!

However i encountered problem while recording videos, when i tried recording video it recorded the video alright but as soon as i finished and pressed the "Stop recording" button the entire application crashed , however when i restarted the application and played the video in the file-manager i found it to be properly recorded.

Overall Cheese is an extremely useful application that should be bundled by default with the GNOME desktop environment , Providing simple interface to your WebCam as well as simple graphical effects to enhance your photos/images. Though feature rich , still one could have added the ability to upload images to various Photo Albums online within the Cheese application.


Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Desktop on Linux Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gnome Do : Attractive and Functional launcher for Gnome

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Gnome Do is an innovative launcher for the GNOME desktop environment similar to Quicksilver available on "Mac OS X" . Gnome Do tries to provide best of Keyboard driven interface(providing short-cut keys and command terminals) and cursor driven interface(menus , attractive buttons and icons), thus making it useful to both novice and experienced users. It is extensible and supports number of plugins thus increasing the functionality of GNOME Do.

GNOME Do allows you to quickly search for many items present in your GNOME desktop environment (applications, Evolution contacts, Firefox bookmarks, files, artists and albums in Rhythmbox, Pidgin buddies) and perform commonly used actions on those objects (Run, Open, Email, Chat, Play, etc.).

Installing GNOME Do on Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

To install GNOME Do on Ubuntu 8.04 issue the following command in the terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) :

echo "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/do-core/ubuntu hardy main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
and
echo "deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/do-core/ubuntu hardy main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
and
sudo apt-get install gnome-do
After issuing the above command GNOME Do should be properly installed , you can launch GNOME Do from (Applications -> Accessories -> GNOME Do) . Once GNOME Do is running you can type in commands/search phrase/application name and as you type it will show relevant matches which you can the run by pressing the enter key.
GNOME Do running on my desktop :)
Also if GNOME Do disappears from the desktop you can bring it back on by pressing the "Super" key ( The Key with Windows sign on your keyboard) and space bar simultaneously . Though if you want you can configure different set of key combinations also from GNOME Do preference box for doing this.

GNOME Do can also be configured to run automatically on startup by clicking on the Small arrow sign on the top right corner of GNOME Do which would bring the following dialog box allowing you to configure among other features(like installing plugins , keyboard shortcuts etc) option whether you want to start GNOME Do automatically when GNOME starts.

Sadly for some strange reason plugins did not work properly on my Ubuntu 8.04 installation :( . I am not sure whether it's a bug with GNOME Do or some dependency or some other issue with installation of GNOME Do on my installatio. So am providing few Screenshots of GNOME Do from David Siegel(Cretor of GNOME Do ) blog .


Switching Between open windows of GIMP using GNOME Do and Pidgin Integeration with GNOME Do

Plugins available in GNOME Do and Skype integration with GNOME Do

Overall GNOME Do is an interesting application that is not only attractive but also improves your effectiveness by providing you easy access to your applications , files , chat history etc with pressing of few buttons.

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Desktop on Linux Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney