Take complete control of desktop effects and animations

As you probably know, Ubuntu includes several desktop effects and animations. For example, windows visually shrink to the panel when minimized.12 You might also have realized that you can activate more of these effects by clicking System ^ Preferences ^ Appearance, selecting the Visual Effects tab, and click the Extra radio button. This will add "wobbly windows" to the visual mix, amongst other things.

To take more control over the desktop effects, consider installing one of two packages. The first is Simple Compiz Config Setting Manager, which can be installed via Synaptic by searching for the simple-ccsm package. Once installed you'll find the software on the System ^ Preferences menu. At its simplest, the program lets you select between more profiles (collections of effects) compared to Ubuntu's default tool. To select a different profile, just select from the dropdown list at the top of the program window. Alternatively, you can personalize the setup by tweaking the Animations, Effects, Desktop, Accessibility and Edges tabs. Animations lets you change the minimize/maximize effects. Effects lets you change

12. If you don't see any visual effects then it's possible your computer isn't capable of supporting the effects. Alternatively, you might not have the correct graphics drivers installed—click System ^ Administration ^ Hardware Drivers and, if necessary, put a check alongside the entry in the list representing your graphics card.

the animation that appears when you [Alt]+[Tab[ through applications. Desktop lets you control the animation that appears when you switch virtual desktops. Accessibility controls screen magnification, while Edges lets you define the hotspots at the sides of the screen; these are needed by some effects.

For ultimate control over desktop effects, use Synaptic to search for and install the compizconfig-settings-manager package (note that if you installed Simple Compiz Config Settings Manager, this will already be installed). Once installed, this can be found on the System ^ Preferences menu and is referred to as Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (although the program refers to CompizConfig Settings Manager, and this is how it's referred to in the wider Ubuntu community). This lets you manually activate and deactivate all the plugins that provide the desktop effects functionality, as shown in Figure 3.19, as well as tweak their settings by double-clicking their entries in the list. Some effects require a key combination to activate them and this can also be found (or changed) by double-clicking the entry of the effect within the list.

Ubuntu's desktop effects can be hard to understand at times and a good place to start your desktop effects adventure is at the Ubuntufo-rums.org forum dedicated to the purpose: http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay. php?f=330.

For more tricks to add zing to your Ubuntu desktop, see Tip 21, on page 79; Tip 79, on page 138; Tip 147, on page 192; Tip 199, on page 237; Tip 220, on page 255; Tip 274, on page 313; and Tip 289, on page 338.

It's possible to do just about anything on Ubuntu and desktop publishing presents no challenges. Simply use Synaptic to search for and install the scribus package. Scribus is professional-level DTP software designed to compete with the likes of Adobe Indesign and Quark Xpress. As such it features CMYK color, color separations, press-ready output, and much more. Indeed, several major publishing houses use it for compositing. Once installed, Scribus can be found on the Applications ^ Office menu.

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Figure 3.19: CompizConfig Settings Manager [[Author: sic]] (see Tip 74, on the previous page)

Need to create sophisticated diagrams, and used to the power of programs like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw? No problem. Just use Synaptic to search for and install the inkscape package. Inkscape is a professionallevel vector drawing package that can be used for just about any task, and is used to create much of the GNOME desktop artwork. It features node editing, complex path operations, the ability to trace bitmaps, and lots more. Files are outputted in the industry-standard SVG file format. Once installed, Inkscape can be found on the Applications ^ Graphics menu.

If you'd like to try creating your own TrueType fonts, or modify existing ones, you might be interested in the Fontforge (use Synaptic to search for and install fontforge). Once installed it can be found on the Applications ^ Graphics menu.

If you're interested in DTP on Ubuntu, see also Tip 101, on page 155, to learn how to install 465 excellent fonts. A handful more fonts are available in Synaptic, and generally speaking their package names start

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