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The latest version of Ubuntu now ships with LibreOffice 3. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to offer much different from its OpenOffice predecessor other than a classy new loading screen. Hopefully improvements keep rolling in!

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Colemak is a popular alternative to the QWERTY keyboard layout. Why even consider switching?

The QWERTY layout was designed in the 19th century to allow typewriter salesmen to easily type the word “typewriter” and to prevent typebars from sticking. We’ve been stuck with QWERTY ever since.

Colemak is a modern alternative to the QWERTY and Dvorak layouts. It is designed for efficient and ergonomic touch typing in English.

Not convinced? Again, straight from the website:

  • Ergonomic and comfortable – Your fingers on QWERTY move 2.2x more than on Colemak. QWERTY has 16x more same hand row jumping than Colemak. There are 35x more words you can type using only the home row on Colemak.
  • Easy to learn – Allows easy transition from QWERTY. Only 2 keys move between hands. Many common shortcuts (including Ctrl+Z/X/C/V) remain the same. Typing lessons available.
  • Fast – Most of the typing is done on the strongest and fastest fingers. Low same-finger ratio.
  • Multilingual – Allows to type in over 40 languages and to type various symbols, e.g. “pâté”, “mañana”, €, em-dash, non-breaking space.
  • Free – Free software released under the public domain. You don’t have to buy a new keyboard, just install a program.

It’s easy to start learning to touch-type in Colemak. I recommend a program called KTouch.

sudo apt-get install ktouch

Once installed, run the program and select Settings > Keyboard Layouts > English Colemak. Then, go to Training > Default Lectures > Colemak (auto-generated). Finally. type along with the on-screen text, and begin to learn to type in Colemak.

The Colemak website has some helpful tips for learning.

Once you feel ready to remove the training wheels and use Colemak as your system layout, Ubuntu makes it easy. Just run the following code in the terminal:

setxkbmap us -variant colemak

To revert, enter:

setxkbmap us -variant

Enjoy!

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I have been a fan of Gnome-Do for a long time. Mac users have been used to having programs just a few keystrokes away with Quicksilver search, and Windows joined the fun with its newly designed start menu in Vista and 7. Cardapio simultaneously simplifies the gnome menu and delivers easy hotkey searching.

From Cardapio’s Launchpad page:

Cardapio can work in two modes: as a panel applet (in which case it is an alternative to Gnome’s application menu applet) or as a stand-alone launcher (in which case it is an alternative to the simplest use-cases of Gnome Do). It has a beautiful gtk-native interface and includes plugins for performing inline searches of Files (via Tracker), Software Center, Google, Wikipedia, and much more!

You can set the shortcut to any combination you like. I have mine set to Super (the key with the windows flag) and Space. I’ll show you how to do this after how to install the program.

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The aptly named Elegant GNOME Pack transforms the Linux desktop into a design experience. The icons are sleek, classy, and easy on the eyes. The wallpaper reads “Great Design isn’t Good Enough”. This pack hits the nail on the head: I want my Linux desktop to look awesome, and I want it to be dead simple to set up.

The breadth of the icon pack is particularly impressive, integrating nearly every icon in my menu (which you may notice, in the screenshot, is currently Cardapio).

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MyNotex is a cool little program for note taking. I have been searching for a program like this. I would just use Google Notebook, but not all of my classes are in areas with WiFi. I have experimented with many open source note taking applications, but I haven’t been thrilled with them. They usually feel counter-intuitive for whatever reason. Enter MyNotex.

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Guacamole is a very promising-looking HTML 5 VNC program. The latest stable release is 0.2.6, and is only available in source code. If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, dig in. It has quite an impressive list of features.

  • Near-native performance
  • Pure JavaScript/HTML5 client-side viewer
  • CopyRect encoding (if supported by VNC server)
  • Client-side cursor (if supported by VNC server)
  • Java servlet server-side proxy (requires a servlet container like Apache Tomcat)
  • Mouse scroll wheel support
  • Clipboard support
  • International keyboard support

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Haven’t you always wanted Calvin & Hobbes stargazing at the daily NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for  your wallpaper? I know I have. Now we can. In this tutorial I will show you how to set that up.

First, just double check you have these installed. I think most users will already.

sudo apt-get install imagemagick wget

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Let’s say you have Ubuntu and Windows installed side-by-side, and you usually use Windows. By default, Ubuntu is the first option, so you have to scroll down to select windows every. time. you. power. on. your. computer.

Might as well try to change the order once and for all. To do this, install a little program called Startup Manager.

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