Create zip files using maximum compression

When you right-click a file or folder and select Create Archive, File Roller steps in to shrink things down. However, it will only use "normal" compression for zip files. This is for a reason—not all operating systems are compatible with the more aggressive "maximum" compression, and it can also take quite a bit longer to crunch/uncrunch files. Yet the savings in file size can be worthwhile and the truth is that both Windows and Mac OS X are fine with maximally compressed files.

To switch file roller to use maximum compression by default, start gconf-editor and navigate to /apps/file-roller/general. Then change the com-pression_level key to read maximum. The changes will take effect straight away whenever you next opt to compress a file.

To learn how to add RAR archive support to Ubuntu's compression tool, see Tip 16, on page 75.

I'5 Create an Ubuntu "updates" CD/DVD

If you're installing Ubuntu afresh on more than one computer, your internet connection can start to feel the strain as each computer attempts to download and install available updates. There are a handful of solutions but perhaps the simplest is to set one of your new Ubuntu computers to cache the update package files and then burn the cached package files to a CD/DVD for manual installation on any other computers.

Of course, this technique can also be used if you've just installed Ubuntu on just one computer and would like to create an "emergency" archive of updates, although bear in mind that the sheer frequency of Ubuntu updates mean it will become out of date very quickly.27

Here's what to do:

1. Before you let the first computer update, start Synaptic on that computer and enable full package caching. Click Settings ^ Preferences, click the Files tab, and ensure Leave all downloaded packages in the cache is selected. Then close Synaptic and allow Update Manager to update the system as usual (you'll find Update Manager on the System ^ Administration menu if you want to force an update; hit the Check button when Update Manager starts to refresh the package lists).

2. Once the updates have downloaded and installed, select CD/DVD Creator from the places menu and then open another Nautilus window (Places ^ Home Folder). Using that window, browse to /var/cache/apt/archives/. Copy all the files ending in .deb to the Nautilus CD/DVD Burner window. Then click the Write to Disc button. Insert either a CD or DVD-R/RW disc, depending on the total filesize of the packages.

27. I once created a disc of updated packages for use on several computers I was installing Ubuntu upon. In the five minutes it took me to burn the disc and install the packages on one of the new computers, a new tranche of updated packages were released, and Update Manager subsequently popped-up to tell me.

3. On the computer(s) that is to be updated, copy all the packages from the freshly burned CD/DVD disc to an empty folder and then type the following (this assumes the packages have been copied to a folder called packages on the desktop):

Once the command has completed (it will take some time and you will see a lot of output scroll past; this is harmless), you can delete the folder containing the packages.

4. If you wish you can now delete the cached packages from the first computer by following Tip 166, on page 204.

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