Category Archives: Software Roudup

The List: The Top 5 Media Center Programs for Linux (2013)

I thought I would share my thoughts on my exploits with the popular Media Center Solutions for Linux. While none of them are perfect some come very close. Please keep in mind these are my opinions and you do not have to agree with me, but I feel my points are pretty spot on as of 09/13 , the current month and year. Some of the points made are with my personal experience with the program while one is based off a review, as I had trouble installing it. Please feel free to comment or use the “Contact Us” page at the top of the site.  I would LOVE to hear any other suggestions for media center software if you have them.


Updated 2013-09-29

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Remove that Panel! A Review of Popular Window Navigators for Linux

After a long time, I really said to myself, can I lose that bottom panel? I really wanted something semi-flashy that had function, giving me access to my favorite shortcuts. I have heard of Avant, and tried that, but I also wanted to give “the other guys” a good try too! I came across Gnome-Do and also Cairo Dock. While each actually has its ups and downs, I’m sure everyone can agree they accomplish the job. Here is The Linux Cauldrons review of Popular Window Navigators.


  • Decent graphics hardware
  • Compositing Enabled (go to System > Appearance > and enable at least the next tier of effects for your system.
  • On systems (such as Arch Linux) that do not have an option on “Appearance”, a working install of Compiz or Compiz fusion is required.

Avant Window Navigator (AWN)

My avant bar, "flat style" not the "3D look"

My avant bar, "flat style" not the "3D look"

Avant is the “safe bet” for many people. It tends to be the one alot of people go for, for its balance of usability and functionality. While it may not be as glitzy as Cairo Dock, it has its place, and does what it needs to do. Avant has a few nice options like the ability to be able to start it up upon user logon, instead of manually making it a service in your startup options.


  • 3D or Flat Look optioins
  • Decent color control for bar appearance
  • Easy to add launchers via AWN’s configuration editor
  • Can drag and drop shortcuts from desktop to AWN
  • Theme support
  • Option to start when user logs in
  • Easier to change the “simple” things and get it up to the way you want it

  • Lacks advanced customization options
  • Sometimes AWN will fail to “keep” the icon I set for it when adding a launcher (i.e. Songbird).
  • Animations could be better, instead of simple “Zoom” or “Highlight”
  • Some applets fail to load or work properly


The GNOME Do instant search in action

The GNOME Do instant search in action

The GNOME Do "Docky" appearence mode.

The GNOME Do "Docky" appearence mode.

When I first heard about GNOME Do, I was quite intrigued. GD is a great “search, find, and execute” window navigator. While still a ways off from perfection of any kind, GD is a promising window navigator that gives some great functionality for your desktop. Its instant search feature is bar none, the most intuitive system search for your desktop. However there were some things that kept me from making this my window navigator on my system.


  • GNOME Do instant search is a great versatile tool for your Linux distribution
  • A plethora of plugins for various Linux applications
  • Ability to start when user logs in
  • Fairly smooth “mac like” zoom animation with “Docky Appearance” mode
  • GNOME Do icon in tray, for easy access to the instant search feature
  • Summon search mode with a editable shortcut
  • Recent Correction: Can be re-sized by dragging the separator like Mac’s dock. (Credit to DBO of Gnome Do)

  • Lacks ability to add new custom themes. This is something I deem necessary to to be as versatile as competitors. Kids these days (I do act like I’m 6 years old), like those fancy themes 🙂
  • Half of my docklet apps do not work, come up as white lines
  • Not very customizable
  • Lacks icon editing for alternate images on icons
  • Needs some more functionality to be as popular as Cairo Dock
  • If things are fixed up Gnome-Do could smash the competition

Cairo Dock

A simple theme for Cairo Dock on my system

A simple theme for Cairo Dock on my system

Cairo Dock is a very formidable candidate for consideration here. There seems to be so much effort put into Cairo Dock, it can be intimidating to customize at first. In fact there can be so many options it can turn users away. However once you get a hang of Cairo Dock, it soon could become your favorite window navigator. There were some issues for me, noted below in “notes,” but I had to say I was very impressed with the overall package of Cairo Dock.


  • So customizable, I thought I was going to cry with happiness
  • Amazing theme support
  • Complete control over Icons and Plugins / Applets
  • “Easy Mode” and “Advanced Mode” for customization
  • Good “Mac like” zoom animation which can be changed if you wish

  • When customizing some icons, I noticed some options were left out
  • Can be glitchy at times
  • For some systems, installing Cairo could be a pain, unless you know what to do
  • The default animations can be annoying (such as desktop switcher)
  • I was forced to create some icons for certain launchers, leaving my dock with some ugly icons (see picture above, power button in red)

  • To install Cairo Dock (such as on Arch Linux), you may have to force remove the package “cairo” and install “cairo-wglitz” For some reason cairo conflicts when installing on some systems where the package resides in a User Repository or even the normal Repository. “cairo-wglitz” does* include cairo, so do not worry about losing functionality on your system.
  • By default, the dock will Auto Hide itseslf, hover your mouse near the bottom-middle of the screen. To change this behavior, right the bar and go to Cairo-Dock > Configure > System, and un-check the “auto hide” box.

That does it for today. I would like to thank all of you for reading and for posting comments. Every bit you say helps me improve on what I’ve done, and what I plan to do. Remember, I am still in search of a contributor or two for the site. Please see the “Contact Us” page at the top of the site and this post for details. Also on that page is the twitter page for this site, be sure to add us!



DVD Galore: The Best GUI Programs For Ripping / Copying DVD’s

I have LONG been frustrated by many DVD ripping / Burning programs, there just doesn’t seem to be an all in one Disc Copy Program does there? Well for most K3B will do everything you want (DVD copy, Title rips, compression etc), although I am working out some bugs in my K3B program on Arch Linux, so I will show you my two favorite Programs that you will sure to love.


  • The way you install this on your distribution may vary, but the package should always be called “k3b” For instance “sudo apt-get install k3b” or on Arch Linux, “pacman -S k3b”
  • Note: The DVD RIP tool AND DVD COPY tool can be also found under “tools” on the main screen in K3B
  • When you open the program it will look like so:


  • In most cases you can simply click on your DVD drive in the left-hand menu, in this case, the movie Hitman (Which I actually DO own RIAA 😛 )
  • This next dialog box will inform you that you are RIPPING the dvd, if you wish to COPY the dvd straight up to a Dual Layer DVD-R, then select “Open Copy DVD Dialog


  • If you choose to COPY the disc, this next screen will come up (see below). What you are to do here is select the source and destination, typically the movie disc and the DVD-RW drive, respectively.


  • Follow the prompts and it should burn your DVD fine. Keep in mind K3B burns DVDs as DUAL LAYER, so that is why I go on to explain how to rip the “main title” or “main movie” only with K3B and also K9copy (below)
  • This next screen is the screen you will see if you choose to open the DVD RIP dialog box. Right click the title you wish to rip, most likely “Title 1”. You will know its the main movie, as it is likely the largest file size



  • K9copy is your best friend when it comes to ripping a DVD from DVD9 to DVD5 (which will be covered in a later segment) and what we will talk about here, namely ripping the main title of a film and burning it
  • First thing, install the program in your respective distribution. If Ubuntu this would be “sudo apt-get install k9copy” or in Arch Linux, “pacman -S k9copy.
  • If you are using a minimalist distro such as Gentoo or Arch Linux, its a very GOOD idea to install these dependencies: (dvdauthor ffmpeg hal kdebase-runtime libdvdnav mplayer xine-lib). If you don’t desktop and program icons may not display properly, or the program may malfunction
  • This is the main screen:


  • What I do here, and no offense to “elitist” persona, is open up the “wizard” (located on the main toolbar)


  • Choose the source drive, hit next and you will see this screen:


  • All you have to do here is specify if you want it to: burn to a disc, save to .iso disc image format, or copy to a folder on your respective machine. Typically we just want to burn to the DVD-R disc, so select that. Don’t worry about the options below, such as “Rip and Encode” as for normal use this is not necessary.
  • Hit “next” to start analyzing the disc and begin copying! If you receive a message to insert a DVD-R disc, and you know it is in the drive, just hit “Ok”

That’s it for “Programs Gallery” today. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial, leave some feedback, I don’t mind. It will help me be more complete in the future.



The List: Ten Linux Apps That I Can’t Do Without


There are many times when I install or try out a new distro and wonder, hmmm what apps do I need first?  Well the basic needs come first right?  If your a programmer you go for the programming apps, multi-media user you go for the video playing or music playing apps.  Keep in mind, most of these apps are made for debian, and the commands I list are for debian/Ubuntu, but they can be obtained for Red Hat / Slack based systems most likely.  These apps are in no particular order.

Number 1:  VLC

  • Why install proprietary codecs when one open source player can play anything?  VLC is an amazing media player, designed mainly for video, but it can play anything.  I have rarely had an occasion where VLC could not play something.  The App can be installed via Add/Remove , Synaptic Package Manager, or via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install vlc

Number 2: Pidgin/GAIM (old school name)

  • While this app is included with most distros, it is one no Linux user can be without.  If one app can handle so many protocols, what else could you need?  Having all your messaging programs combined into one is great, isn’t it?  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install pidgin”

Number 3: Mozilla Firefox

  • Also included with most distros, Firefox is an invaluable browser for Linux users.  With its wealth of add-ons and amazing speed, firefox is a must have app.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install firefox

Number 4: Mozilla Thunderbird

  • Let’s face it, evolution is not the favorite among Linux Users.  So,  Thunderbird is typically the Mail Client of choice.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install thunderbird

Number 5: Audacious

  • For windows users, nothing beat Winamp.  It was the king.  When windows converts started using Linux they craved an app that could deliver the same GUI and features their beloved Winamp.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install audacious” See my post about the Audacious EQ

Number 6:   K3B

  • Your disc burning program of choice for Linux may differ from mine, but for all around burning, you can’t beat K3B, its as close as the non-free Nero Linux 3 as you can get.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install k3b”

Number 7: Open Office

  • Currently in its 3.0 release version, Open Office is the must have office application for Linux.  Its closely following cousin Star Office, may not be around much longer as of 2009.  Reading .doc and .docx, it is a fantastic program.  Be sure to install the Microsoft Core Fonts, that include Times New Roman.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install openoffice

Number 8:  Wine

  • It a solid fact, if you want to get a popular Windows app to possibly 🙂 work on Linux, Wine one of the easier, and best best you have.  While its commercial cousin, Crossover Linux, has better application support, Wine is free and open source, not a paid program such as Crossover Linux.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install wine”

Number 9:  gFTP

  • If you need to grab some files off your SFTP server, you can use many apps.  FireFTP via Firefox, Filezilla, or my personal favorite, gFTP.  While somtimes unstable, I have never had a personal problem with the application.  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install gftp-common && apt-get install gftpgtk

Number 10: Bittorrent

  • For nostalgic  reasons, many choose to still run the original Bittorent application for their torrenting pleasures, sure Transmission, and lots of other apps work great, but hey, I get a fuzzy feeling when I use my old pal, Bittorent 🙂  This program can also be installed via Add/Remove, Synaptic Package manager, and via terminal by typing “sudo apt-get install bittorrent

Thats it!