Archives For App Review

Working with PDF files regularly in Ubuntu Linux? QPDF Tools is a nifty tool to manage your PDF documents.

It’s a free and open-source software, easy to use Qt based user interface for Ghostscript and Stapler, with ability to compress, split, merge and rotate your pdf documents.

The main window is simple and works with 4 buttons. Click the action you want to do for the PDF documents. Then select the PDF along with a few options and click the button to go.

The Compress a PDF file option will change the resolution for printing, Ebooks, or screen optimized. It also reduce the file size depends on the option you choose.

It however may stuck a few seconds when you clicking ‘Save‘ button on exporting file dialog.

While ‘Merge PDF files‘ option allows to add multiple PDF files, arrange them, and convert them into single, the ‘Spile a PDF file‘ option allows to extract all PDF pages or export from one page to another. And ‘Rotate a PDF file‘ can rotate left or right with live preview.

How to Install QPDF Tools:

The DEB package for Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, as well as the source tarball are available to download at the link below:

The software developer also maintains an Ubuntu PPA that support all current releases, e.g., Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 20.10, and Ubuntu 21.04. The packages for old releases, e.g., Ubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu 14.04, and Ubuntu 16.04 are also available.

1.) Open terminal from system app launcher. When it opens, run command to add the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:silash35/qpdftools

2.) Then refresh package cache (optional for Ubuntu 20.04 & higher) and install the tool via commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install qpdftools

Once installed, open the tool from your system application launcher and enjoy!

Uninstall QPDF Tools

While the Ubuntu PPA is used to install or upgrade the software package, you can safely remove it either by running command in terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:silash35/qpdftools

Or by going to ‘Software & Updates’ -> ‘Other Software’, and remove the relevant line.

To remove the software, either use Synaptic Package Manager or run command:

sudo apt remove --purge qpdftools

I used to create bootable Ubuntu USB installer with UNetbootin, then with Ubuntu’ built-in USB creator. Now Ventoy is a good choice you should try!

Why Ventoy:

Different to other USB creators, you don’t need to format your USB stick again and again to write data from ISO images. With Ventoy, it just format your USB one time, create a small (34 MB in my case) EFI partition, and leave all other spaces free in another partition.

Without extracting, just drag and drop to move ISO images into USB drive, and it will boot them! Like normal USB driver, you can put your photos and other data along with ISO images. Ventoy will find what to boot and show them all in startup menu.

Ventoy features:

Ventoy is a free and open-source tool written mainly in C. It features:

  • Just copy ISO to USB and boot it! No extraction needed.
  • Mutil-boot support. As many ISO images as your USB stick can store.
  • Save all other data along with ISO images, just like a normal USB driver.
  • 700+ ISO files supported (Windows, Linux, WinPE, Unix, Vmware, Xen).
  • Windows auto installation supported
  • Also support Local Disk, SSD, NVMe, SD Card
  • and more.

How to Install Ventoy:

The software provides ISO image as well as installers for Windows and Linux. Download them from the link below:

a.) Install Ventoy in Linux from command line:

For Linux users download the “linux.tar.gz” tarball. Then extract, and select ‘Open in Terminal‘ from source folder’s context menu.

When terminal opens, run command to install Ventoy to USB:

sudo ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i /dev/sdb

If your machine boot with UEFI mode, also add -s flag for secure boot support, so the command will be:

sudo ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i -s /dev/sdb
Though the device name of your USB stick is mostly /dev/sdb, check the terminal output, or use gparted, mount command, etc to confirm.

For USB device with GTP partition, use sudo ./Ventoy2Disk.sh -i -g /dev/sdb command instead.

Type ‘y’ to confirm twice. If everything’s done successfully, it will prompt ‘Install Ventoy to /dev/sdb successfully finished.

b.) Install Ventoy in Windows or Linux via Web UI

The software also has a Web UI which has same appearance to Windows EXE.

As the previous step did, download ‘linux.tar.gz‘, extract and go to source folder. Then right-click on blank area to select ‘Open in Terminal‘.

When terminal opens, run command to start the Web UI service:

sudo ./VentoyWeb.sh

Next in web browser go to http://127.0.0.1:24680

In the web UI, select your USB device and click ‘Install’. Also for UEFI mode enable ‘Secure Boot‘ under options.

When everything’s done, you’ll find the USB driver mounted with name “Ventoy”, put ISO images into it and enjoy!

Totally new to Linux, and want to give a try? Here are some of the Linux Distributions friendly to beginners.

Linux is a family of open-source operating systems based on Linux Kernel. As there are so many distributions available, I’ll list the top 8 that are easy to use for beginners.

Ranking and opinions expressed here are solely my own! As an Ubuntu user for more than 10 years, I’m not new to Linux but new to those in the list. So this could be a Linux review via a beginner!

8. Solus

Solus, formerly known as Evolve OS, is an independently developed OS for 64-bit processor. The system provides 4 desktop editions: Budgie, GNOME, MATE, and KDE.

Its own Budgie Desktop provides the classic Windows look-like desktop appearance, along with settings utility to change themes, fonts, and manage panel items. And it also has a Gnome style ‘System Settings’ to configure many other settings.

Solus ships with a variety of software out of the box. Besides its own package repository, it also support Snap and Flatpak with more choices.

7. Elementary OS

Elementary OS is a Linux system based on Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support). It was marked as the most beautiful Linux Distribution. Now it promotes itself as “fast, open, and privacy-respecting” replacement to macOS and Windows.

The system features Pantheon desktop. Along with the custom apps including Photos, Music, Videos, Calendar, Terminal, Files, and more, it’s ready to use without any customization.

With the benefit of Ubuntu and Flatpak, a huge collection of software packages is available for the system.

6. Zorin OS

Zorin OS is another Ubuntu based system designed especially for those new to Linux.

The system has 4 editions in the download page. While “Ultimate” need to play for downloading, the core, lite, and education editions are free.

It features a customized GNOME desktop, aims to be the alternative to Windows and macOS. Zorin OS is clean and polished. And it has an appearance dialog to change the desktop layout with single click.

Thanks to Wine and PlayOnLinux, many Windows applications can be easily installed on Zorin OS via simply a few clicks.

5. Deepin Linux

Deepin is a Debian based Linux distribution that focuses much of its attention on intuitive design.

Deepin is the most beautiful Linux system as far as I can see. It features Deepin Desktop Environments with its core applications.

Deepin Linux is developed by a company from China. It ships with its own WPS Office with full MS Office file support, as well as CodeWeavers’ CrossOver, the paid, commercialized version of Wine.

Installing Windows apps, e.g., WeChat, QQ, is quite easy in Deepin. It’s the best Linux OS for users from China.

4. Fedora

Fedora is a Linux distribution developed by the community-supported Fedora Project and owned by Red Hat, a subsidiary of IBM.

Same to Ubuntu, Fedora announces new releases every year in April and October. However, each release has only 9-month support. And Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, uses Fedora as his main Linux Distro.

Due to the close relationship between Gnome and Fedora, Fedora Workstation (the desktop edition) is always the first to benefit from the latest Gnome Shell releases.

Fedora Workstation is bleeding edge. It’s always the first to get the new technologies, drivers and package updates. And the desktop appearance is easy to configure via System Settings, Gnome Tweaks, Dconf Editor, as well as Gnome Shell Extensions. However, installing proprietary drivers is not easy for beginners.

3. Manjaro

Manjaro is a Linux Distro based on Arch Linux. It focuses on user-friendliness and accessibility.

Different to other Linux, Arch Linux and Manjaro uses a “rolling release” system. Which means you don’t have to re-install or upgrade the whole system again and again.

It features three desktop editions with XFCE, KDE, and GNOME. The system looks modern and works out-of-the-box with a variety of pre-installed software.

The XFCE and KDE editions has the classic Windows like style layout. And Gnome defaults to top panel with left dock. It however has a settings dialog to the UI layout.

The package manager ‘pamac’ is great, it enables ability to get the latest software packages from either main repository, AUR (Arch User Repository), flathub, or snap store all in one. As well, it has built-in utilities to install the latest Kernels, and proprietary NVIDIA drivers.

2. Ubuntu:

Ubuntu is the top popular Linux Distribution ranked by Google Trends. Not only for the Desktop, but also popular as Linux Server and for clouding computing.

Like Fedora, Ubuntu announces new releases every 6 months. Versions released in April of even-year (e.g., 16.04, 18.04, 20.04) are LTS with 5-year support. All others has only 9-month support.

Ubuntu is based on Debian, and uses GNOME as the default Desktop Environment. The Desktop is not perfect out of the box, the Software Center sucks, media codec is not pre-installed, clicking app icon on dock does not minimize the opened window, and more and more.

However, there are tons of tutorials and answers on the web shows you how to tweak Ubuntu. And you can ask on https://askubuntu.com/.

Ubuntu contains a wide range of software packages. Though the packages in default repositories are always old, many software developers (e.g., LibreOffice, Inkscape) and third-party maintainers maintain PPAs (Personal Package Archive) with most recent packages for Ubuntu users. And Flatpak and Snap is also available for choice.

Ubuntu is not the best for those totally new to Linux, but it has the largest community base actively participates and provides support to its users.

1. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is the most friendly Linux system for beginners in my own opinion.

It is based on Ubuntu LTS, and feature three desktop editions: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. Linux Mint includes a variety of pre-installed software and it’s ready to use out-of-the-box.

All the settings for desktop users are easy to access via all-in-one ‘System Settings‘ tool, including desktop appearances, account, privacy, display, power management, printers, driver, firewall, and more.

Along with Ubuntu package base, Linux Mint also has its own package repository. Apps are easy to install either via Synaptic or System package manager. Kernels are easy to install via its update manager. PPAs and apt repositories are easy to manage via its ‘Software Sources’ utility. Thanks to Ubuntu, the latest NVIDIA drivers are also easy to apply.

As a fast growing Linux Distribution, Linux Mint is a stable, safe, reliable, and extremely easy to use.

At Last

Since there are so many Linux Distributions, I can’t try all of them one by one. Feel free to leave comment if you found a better one.

Want to embed a terminal in the Files, Nautilus file manager, in Ubuntu? Nautilus Terminal is the project to do the job.

Nautilus Terminal is an open-source project started in 2010. It’s now at version 4.x that supports up to Nautilus 40.

With it, you have an integrated terminal in each file window and tab. The terminal follows the navigation, without running cd command, the terminal automatically go to the directory when you navigate to a folder in file manager.

The terminal placement can be at top (default) or bottom. You can press F4 on keyboard to show or hide it. And it supports drag & drop of file on the terminal.

By right-click on terminal area, you can do copy & paste actions, and go to its Preferences.

The “Preferences” indeed opens Dconf Editor (you need to firstly install it in Ubuntu Software) and navigate to “/org/flozz/nautilus-terminal” settings page. There you can configure:

  • Background color.
  • Text color.
  • Font.
  • Focus by default.
  • Toggle shortcut.
  • Terminal placement.
  • Custom command.

How to Install Nautilus Terminal in Ubuntu 20.04 & Higher:

The project developer used to maintain an Ubuntu PPA, which is however no longer updated. Ubuntu 20.04 and higher users can now run following commands to install it from PyPi.

1.) Open terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T on keyboard. When it opens, firstly run command to install required libraries:

sudo apt install python3-nautilus python3-psutil python3-pip libglib2.0-bin dconf-editor

2.) Then install Nautilus Terminal via command:

sudo pip3 install nautilus-terminal

3.) And install it for system wide by running command:

sudo nautilus-terminal --install-system

4.) Finally restart Nautilus to apply changes. To do so, run command:

nautilus -q

NOTE: Ubuntu 18.04 users, can run the previous commands one by one by replacing python3 with python to get integrated terminal in Files.

How to Remove Nautilus Terminal:

To remove the integrated terminal, simply run pip command with uninstall flag in terminal:

sudo pip3 uninstall nautilus-terminal -y

And restart Nautilus via step 4.) to apply changes.

For Arch Linux, Fedora, and other details, go to Nautilus Terminal project page.

Szyszka is a new batch file renaming tool written in Rust programming language with GTK+ 3 toolkit. And it works on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS.

The name, Szyszka, is Polish word which means Pinecone. The tool has a very simple user interface, simple click “Add Entries”, press and hold Shift, or Ctrl to select your desired files. Add folder is not supported in the first 1.0 release, it is however marked as planned feature.

You can then add multiple rules which can be freely combined:

  • Replace text
  • Trim text
  • Adding text
  • Adding numbers
  • Purge text
  • Change letters to big/small
  • Use custom rule

While adding rules, it shows example at bottom with before and after change which is extremely helpful for beginners.

How to Get Szyszka in Ubuntu:

The tool is available in Ubuntu Software as Snap package. Before installing it, you can try the .Appimage package which is available to download in the releases page:

Once you get it, right-click and go to file ‘Properties’ dialog. Then check “Allow executing file as program” in Permissions tab. Finally right-click and select ‘Run’ the Appimage.

As a new project, there may have bugs. Please report issue at the Github page.