Archive for the 'LibreSoftware' Category

Cross-platform Video Editing with Avidemux

One of the reasons I gravitate toward searching out free cross-platform applications is that it matters less and less which operating system I happen to use. I can become familiar with an application that performs a certain essential function for me with the confidence that both my expertise and my data is platform neutral and portable.

So today I’ve set out to look at a solution for doing simple video editing of home videos I’ve taken with our little digital camera (Canon Powershot). My intent will be to successfully perform all the essential functions necessary in Linux Kubuntu where the same codecs and software interface are also freely available for MacOSX and Win32 as well.

  • The software I researched for this task is called “Avidemux”, and it can be located at Sourceforge.
  • Here is the brief description from the project homepage on Sourceforge:

    “Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.

    Avidemux is available for Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows under the GNU GPL license. The program was written from scratch by Mean, but code from other people and projects has been used as well. Patches, translations and even bug reports are always welcome” (source).

    What’s nice about running Kubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) is that I was able to install this software with one easy command:

    sudo aptitude install avidemux

  • Basically all I really want to do is the equivalent of cropping my pictures, except with video. In other words I just want to trim off those parts that don’t contribute to the story very well such as some of the very beginning or at the very end. Well for this kind of simple work Avidemux is just what I need.

Creating an email sized PDF newsletter with Scribus on Kubuntu (Ubuntu) 7.04 (Feisty Fawn)

Here are some notes I took while learning how to use Scribus to create our first family email newsletter.

Here’s a little bit about Scribus from the home page:

Scribus :: Open Source Desktop Publishing for Linux, Mac OS® X and Windows®

“Scribus is an open-source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of “press-ready” output and new approaches to page layout.

Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.” (http://www.scribus.net/).

Basically what follows is an emphasis on optimizing the output for an email sized attachment after I enjoyed using Scribus to do the layout of the newsletter.

  1. Layout newsletter
  2. Install latest version of Ghostscript
    sudo aptitude install gs-gpl
  3. Export as PDF (1.3 or 1.4)
    1. General Tab:
      1. Resolution for EPS Graphics: 300
      2. Compress Text and Vector Graphics: [X]
      3. Compression Method: Automatic
      4. Compression Quaity: Maximum
      5. Resample Images to: 115 dpi
    2. Fonts Tab:
      1. Embed all fonts
    3. Save file to news.pdf [~ 315KB]
      1. If size and quality are good enough then you are done, else
      2. Re-process the pdf file through ghostscript [~70kB]
        gs-gpl -r115 -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=newsletter.pdf news.pdf

        (-r115 sets the resolution or DPI to 115 pixels per square inch)

  4. If you feel like it, you can also use pdfopt to linearize the PDF, so Acroread can start showing the first pages while the rest is still being downloaded.

Comparing Pseudo OpenXML to the Open Document Format

Hi everyone: I just came across the following paragraph in a review of word processors I felt was pretty compelling:

  • “Let us be clear: the choice is not between being able to interoperate with Microsoft— thanks to Novell and Corel doing interoperability work for them — or being stuck in some ODF ghetto, unable to read Microsoft documents. Everyone wants to interoperate. The question is how. The problem is Microsoft. The solution lies with Microsoft. It’s 2007, and it’s time that Microsoft followed the same standards everyone else, instead of insisting the world bend to their ways. Microsoft’s OXML doesn’t disrupt this propensity. It’s not only unacceptable, but quite strange that even now we can’t all freely share documents with one another, no matter what operating system we like to use. We can send each other email, read each others’ blogs and websites, even if you are on Windows, I’m on Linux, and Uncle Fester is using OS X. Why isn’t that the norm for everything? It ought to be. The bottleneck is Microsoft. FOSS software is happy to interoperate with any other software. Why won’t Microsoft? That is the $64,000 question in 2007. All this only matters if you intend to use Microsoft Word. The good news is that there are many good alternatives” (DonationCoder.com, 2007.02.16).

What do you think?

My essential Firefox addons (extensions) post

Okay I know everyone has their own list of favorite Firefox addons (extensions), and that this topic has been posted on Digg.com so many times that is now the subject of jokes and jabs, and I also know many of us have already discovered “the best ones” such that we already have many of the same ones installed anyway…

Yet right now I am faced with having just installed Firefox on my new Kubuntu (Ubuntu) box, and thought I would finally document which addons I like most because everyonce in awhile I go through the process of reinstalling an operating system or Firefox and it would help if I had this information somewhere with the links to the appropriate addons for convenience.

So without further delay here are the essential Firefox addons that I really like and either use every hour throughout the day or that I like to have installed for the sake of curiosity. I’ll list them in the order I use them most frequently.

  1. Adblock Plus and Noscript: These two addons are just so essential, so fundamental to improving security and my browsing experience that I just do not even like to go out browsing the Internet without them. Both projects are actively maintained and have demonstrated they are worthy ofScreenshot of the lower right corner of Firefox Browser window being trusted on my computer. I then disable messages about javascript being blocked because this is obvious enough from looking at the state of the icon.
    1. Preferences: I like to configure both Adblock and Noscript so that they appear in the bottom right corner of my browser window.
  2. Copy Plain Text: Next on the list is the most simple and useful addon I use numerous times during any given hour. Basically this one is essential for any student required to copy and paste quotes (properly cited of course) in any writing assignment. If you are stuck using Microsoft Word you will be especially grateful for this extension in how it effectively strips all formatting from the source with frequently causes Microsoft Word to stall while attempting to do some kind of reverse internet address lookup or something. But even if you have liberated yourself from dependence on Microsoft Word, this addon provides the benefit of importing text from the clip board while retaining the formating or style you have currently selected in your document. Indispensible.
  3. Copy URL +: This is another addon extension that I use fairly constantly throughout the day. It basically allows me to capture a selection of text to the clipboard including the title and url of the source. There is one problem however, and that is that the original author has not updated the addon to work with Firefox 2.0. This is simple enough to fix however, and thus I have rolled my own version which can be downloaded here. As for how the extention works, here is an example of copy and pasted text:
    1. FAA May Ditch Microsoft’s Windows Vista And Office 2007 For Google Apps on Linux
      “March is coming in like a lion for Microsoft’s public sector business. Days after InformationWeek reported that the Department of Transportation has placed a moratorium on upgrades to Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Internet Explorer 7, the top technology official at the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that he is considering a permanent ban on the Microsoft software in favor of a combination of Google’s new online business applications running on Linux-based hardware.”
      http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=197800480

OpenOffice 2.1 on Ubuntu (Kubuntu)

Here’s a quick reference I adapted from another blog that had covered the need at an earlier time, but had become somewhat in need of updating. So here is the basic steps to installing OpenOffice 2.1 on Kubuntu (both Edgy 6.10 and Feisty Fawn 7.04):

  1. Download and install The Java SE Development Kit (JDK)
    1. I chose the link for Java(TM) SE Development Kit 6
    2. I then chose the link for the Linux self-extracting file (jdk-6-linux-i586.bin)
    3. run “sh jdk-6-linux-i586.bin” as normal user.
    4. I moved the resulting jdk1.6.0 directory to /home/username/bin/jdk1.6.0
    5. cd ~/bin && ln -s jdk1.6.0/jre jre
  2. Download OpenOffice 2.1 for Linux
  3. Remove previous version of OpenOffice 2.0
    1. sudo apt-get remove --purge openoffice.org-*
  4. Convert OpenOffice 2.1 RPM packages to Debian packages:
    1. sudo apt-get install fakeroot alien
    2. tar zxvf OOo_2.1.0_LinuxIntel_install_en-US.tar.gz
    3. cd OOE680_m6_native_packed-1_en-US.9095/RPMS
    4. Convert the .rpm packages to .deb (debian packages)
    5. fakeroot alien -d *.rpm
  5. Now install the new Debian packages
    1. sudo dpkg -i *.deb
    2. cd desktop-integration/
    3. sudo dpkg -i openoffice.org-debian-menus_2.1-5_all.deb
  6. Profit. ;-)

Adapted from: Techno Wizah: Debian HOW-TO: OpenOffice 2.0