View technical details of your PCs hardware

GNOME Device Manager used to be a standard feature of Ubuntu but, for some reason, isn't any longer. You can still install it using Synaptic— search for and install gnome-device-manager. Once installed you'll find

Remove the annoying delay when installing Firefox extensions it on the Applications ^ System Tools menu. To significantly enhance its usability, click View ^ Device Properties in the program window. This adds a second Properties tab to the display that shows the technical details about each application. In some ways it's an information overload but it can prove vital when problem solving.

In most ways GNOME Device Manager is similar to its Windows counterpart. The main difference is that it's purely an informational tool, with no ability to change drivers or configurations. The other difference is that, just because hardware appears in the list under GNOME Device Manager, that doesn't mean it's setup for use under Ubuntu. GNOME Device Manager's list is produced by simply probing the hardware and reporting what it finds.

lspci and lsusb do a similar job at the command line. You can use the -v, -vv, and -vvv commands with lspci, depending on how much information you would like returned (-vvv providing the most information). lsusb takes a simpler -v command option if you require more information.

Also worth investigating for command-line hardware diagnosis is hwinfo, which you can install via Synaptic. This provides extremely detailed lists of hardware connected to the system, and it's usually best to pipe its lengthy output to a viewer application (hwinfo|less). hwinfo also takes the --short command option to reduce the volume of its output slightly.

Nautilus can work in two separate modes. The default, in which you see a toolbar, and the window is "reused" to show the contents of each folder you double-click, is known as browse mode. The other mode is known as spatial browsing, and you might already be aware of how it works because it's how file browsing windows used to work in the days of Windows 95—every time you navigate to a new folder, a new browsing window opens.

Some people swear by spatial browsing, although quite a few others find it annoying. If you want to give it a try, click on any open Nautilus window and click Edit ^ Preferences. Select the Behavior tab and remove the check alongside Always open in browser windows. Then close

Switch to old-fashioned "spatial browsing" mode

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all Nautilus windows and open a new one. Note that spacial browsing Nautilus windows have an additional feature in the form of a dropdown list showing the current browsing hierarchy. This is found in the bottom left of the window, and lets you both find out where you are in the file system and also change to a parent folder quickly and easily.

For more Nautilus tricks, see Tip 72, on page 129; Tip 85, on page 143; Tip 132, on page 175; Tip 104, on page 157; Tip 144, on page 187; Tip 261, on page 301; Tip 272, on page 312; and Tip 295, on page 343.

If you're running tight on disk space you can try deleting the cache of package files. By default, the APT system keeps all the packages it has downloaded in case they're needed in future. It's very rare this is the case (and, anyway, assuming you have a decent always-on Internet connection, you can just download afresh if you need to).

To clear the package cache in Synaptic, click Settings ^ Preferences and click the Files tab. Then click the Delete Cached Package Files button. To clear the cache from the command-line, type the following: $ sudo apt-get clean

Whenever you read a man page it's very likely you'll be looking for a particular term, such as a command option. You can search by hitting the forward slash key ((/) and typing your search query at the prompt that appears. Then hit [Enter]. The document will scroll to the example found, which will be at the top of the terminal window. Every other instance of the search term will now be highlighted. You can simply move through the document using the cursor keys or type Q to jump straight to the next example of the search term (typing a slash once again also does this). (ShTft+Q will search backwards.

If you want to search for a character, you need to "escape" the character by typing a backslash, just like with filenames (see the sidebar on page 37). To search for the dollar symbol ($) in a man page, you would hit (/ to open a search prompt, and then type \$.

if you want to search ALL man pages for a particular term, use the apropos command at the prompt. Let's say you wanted to search for any man page that discussed fonts. To do this, you could type the following:

$ apropos font

This will return the line from any man page that the search term is on, alongside the name of the man file. If you're searching for a phrase, enclose it in quotes:

$ apropos "font name"

Not every computer has a PDF viewer and not everybody likes handling PDF documents. Sometimes the best policy is to convert a PDF to an image. To do this, first install the imagemagick package using Synaptic, then open a terminal window and type the following (this will convert filename.pdf to filename.png:

$ convert filename.pdf filename.png

You can specify a different file type by changing the file extension of the second file—to output bitmap files, for example, you could alter the above example to read convertfilename.pdffilename.bmp.

A separate image file will be outputted for each page of the PDF file, and they will be numbered sequentially from 1 onwards (ie filename1.png, filename2.png, filename3.png etc).

For more PDF manipulation tips, see Tip 116, on page 164; Tip 189, on page 228; Tip 215, on page 249; and Tip 258, on page 298.

Like all Linuxes, Ubuntu has spotty support when it comes to dial-up modems (those used to dial into ISPs over the phone line). Some work. Some don't. Generally speaking, those that work tend to be older models that connect via the serial port, or newer more expensive models

Convert a PDF to an image

Use a dial-up modem that connect via USB (more expensive models have dedicated modem hardware, rather than relying on software drivers to handle the decoding, which is what causes problems for Ubuntu).

If your modem works, you can use the gnome-ppp software to connect/disconnect. It can be installed via Synaptic and, once installed, you'll find it on the Applications ^ Internet menu. When running it for the first time, click the Setup button and then click the Detect button under the Modem heading in the dialog box that appears. Once done, click Close to return to the main dialog, where you can enter your ISP's username, password and phone number. Then click Connect to dial-up.

When connected, gnome-ppp minimizes to the notification area. Right-click it to disconnect from the call.

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