Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Useful tools for Ubuntu

These are some of the tools I found to be useful. This list is far from being comprehensive; depending on what you're up to, you might still have to search for the tools you need, but I suppose this is a good start.

Installing new tools and applications
Most tools can be installed via Ubuntu's Software Center or other package managers. Sometimes, however, you're left with just the command line install instructions:

The line commands needed to update / install software need to be run under the root user. To do that, the command needs to be preceded by the keyword sudo

If the tool isn't in one of the software repositories available to your system, the repository it belongs to must be added before you can actually install the software:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:[repository name].

If this is necessary, the add-apt-repository command, includingthe actual repository name, usually comes with the installation instructions.

It is good practice to update the package information before running any installation process:

sudo apt-get update

Note that this does not actually update any components of your system, it merely updates the list of available packages and their versions.

The following command actually installs your tool / application:

sudo apt-get install [softwarename]

So, let's add some software:

Synaptic Package Manager
Install, update, and remove software packages via a convenient GUI
Synaptic Package Manager home page

Via Ubuntu software center

GDebi Package installer
Another useful package installer
GDebi package installer homepage

Via Ubuntu software center

MAC Changer
If you wish to hide your computer's identity, be it for privacy reasons or simply to circumvent the time limit of a public WiFi hotspot, you need to change the MAC address your computer is broadcasting to the world. MACChanger is a command-line tool that does exactly that.

See also my earlier post regarding this tool

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install macchanger

DConf editor
DConf is a basic key / value database where desktop environment settings are stored. DConf Editor allows you to view and modify these settings (see also the section on file explorer settings in my post on setting up Ubuntu).

sudo apt-get update)
sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

The LibreOffice version included in your Ubuntu distribution may be outdated; check for updates (for example via Synaptic Package Manager).

The basic functionality of LibreOffice can be extended according to your specific needs by installing, well, extensions. Dictionaries are part of the extensions set, so you may need to deal with extensions even if all you want to do is type (and spell-check) the occasional document in a language other than standard US English.

Extensions can be found here; this site can also be accessed directly via the Extensions dialog within LibreOffice (Tools --> Extension Manager).

To install an extension pack:
1) Download extension pack file (*.oxt)
2) Install via the Add... button in the LibreOffice Extension Manager (Tools --> Extension Manager)

That's all for today; I shall recommend a few more useful applications later.

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