The other day, a co-worker was in my office, and we needed to search for a spreadsheet on the server shared drive. I (shamefully) had to boot up my VirtualBox instance of XP in order to use the gui search function in it. All the while I kept thinking, “A real nerd would know how to do this at the command prompt.”

So today I did some research. I had already heard of the tools find and locate.  And I have been using grep in different situations (like to limit results from other commands).  But I never really knew how to use these tools to find exactly what I was looking for.  Fortunately (and this is one of the best parts about using Linux) many nerds have gone before me and documented what they know.  So a simple Google search is often all it takes to step up my Linux game.

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I found a great explanation of using regex with OO.o’s search and replace feature in Writer: Searching and replacing paragraph returns (carriage returns), tabs, and other special characters in OpenOffice Writer.

Cut & Paste Chmod Calculator, where have you been all my life?

Thanks to the Masters of the Linux Universe for pointing this out to me.

Gentoo Peeble mentioned a Space Invaders clone hidden in Calc. A quick Google search revealed a few more easter eggs noted on the OO.o wiki.  Although, I couldn’t get the Tic Tac Toe to work for me.

Check out this post on the Linux Mint Blog about a Mint user who bought a new PC from Dell, rejected the EULA, and… get this… got a refund!

He donated his refund to Linux Mint. Way to not only beat the Microsoft tax, but to negate it by giving the money to the Open Source world.

I had used k9copy to make backups of some of the DVDs in my collection, but instead of selecting the final output as .iso files, I had set k9copy to produces title set folders.  After learning that my favourite media player (VLC) would play an .iso file just as if it were on an actual DVD.  So I needed a way to transform my TS folders into .iso files.  After some research, I found that mkisofs could do the trick.

The syntax for mkisofs is pretty straightforward, though different from some other input/output tools.  In order to generate my .iso files, I used the following options in mkisofs:

  • -o to indicate the output file location and name
  • -V to set the volume label on the .iso file (which VLC displays when it begins playing the file)
  • -dvd-video to generate a DVD-Video compliant UDF file system

The general format for the mkisofs command is

mkisofs [options] file

So, if your AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS  are located in /home/dude/ts_folders/mydvd, and you want your .iso file to be /home/dude/dvdisos/mydvd.iso, then you could use the following command

mkisofs -dvd-video -o /home/dude/dvdisos/mydvd.iso -V MYDVD /home/dude/ts_folders/mydvd/

The GUI for VirtualBox needs very little commentary.  But if you feel like you needs some pointers, or you simply want to see how it’s done before you dive in, check out How to install Windows in VirtualBox over at the Klikit-Linux Wiki.

Using the <Super> key for keyboard shortcuts

This howto describes features in Linux Mint 7 (Gloria) and Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)

Having come to Linux from Windows, and having to still use and support Windows from time to time at work, I have become very familiar with some of the default shorcuts Windows uses that involve the Windows key (that little key between the <Ctrl> and <Alt> that has the Windows flag on it) such as:

  • <Win>+D to toggle the desktop
  • <Win>+E to launch Windows Explorer
  • <Win>+L to lock the screen

I currently use Mint 7 and found that it provides these same shortcuts (and so many more) by default, but that it maps the shortcuts to different key combos.  I learned the combos (like <Ctrl>+<Alt>+L to lock the screen.  But switching back and forth between Windows and Mint made it difficult when I hit <Win>+E in Mint, and it launches the Expo wall.

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Wiping hard drives and partitions thereof

When I want to get rid of a hard drive, I wipe the whole thing. I generally use a tool called dd or it’s slightly more robust counterpart dcfldd.  Many arguments have been raised over the best method to use when wiping a drive: Is setting all the bits to 0 good enough?  Should you use random or pseudorandom paterns?  How many passes do you have to make?  After reading Overwriting Hard Drive Data: The Great Wiping Controversy, I decided to stop worrying about all the multi-pass,/random issues and just wipe with zeros.

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Probably the first command line tool I learned was ls.  It’s a simple tool that lists (hence the overly-abbreviated name) the contents of a directory.  I’ve often wondered about the color-coding that is built into ls.  I could tell that it had meaning, but I couldn’t find any sort of chart anywhere to tell me what the different color codes mean.  I asked a co-worker about it one day, and he knew the color codes and explained them to me, but the explanations didn’t stick.  When I went to research it later, I figured it was one of those things that unixy people just know, as I couln’t really find any information on it–not in any handy form, at least.
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