Linux Desktop Hacks
Tips & Tools for Customizing and Optimizing your OS
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: March 2005
Pages: 352

The KDE and Gnome desktops have developed into mature operating environments. These technologies not only act as interfaces between the user, the powerful Linux kernel and GNU operating system, but they do so in a fun and intuitive way. Many users are content with the tools and facilities included with these desktops, but--for those who are ready to probe a little deeper--much more functionality can be found by going under the hood.With hacks that any user can follow, Linux Desktop Hacks demonstrates how easy it is to modify Linux to suit your desires. The book is packed with tips on customizing and improving the interface, boosting performance, administering your desktop, and generally making the most out of what X, KDE, Gnome, and the console have to offer.From the practical to the whimsical, and some things you never thought of trying, the hacks in the book include the following, and more:

  • Kill and Resurrect the Master Boot Record
  • Jazz Up Your Debian System Boot
  • Energize Your Console with Macro Music Magic
  • Konquer Remote Systems Without Passwords
  • Run KDE on the Bleeding Edge
  • View Microsoft Word Documents in a Terminal
  • Read Yahoo! Mail from Any Email Client
  • Motion Capture and Video Conferencing Fun
  • Automate Your Life with cron
  • Protect Yourself from Windows Applications
  • Make an Internet Connection Using Bluetooth and a Mobile Phone
  • Print to Unsupported Printers
  • Accelerate Your Gaming
If you're yearning for information to make the Linux desktop easier, more powerful, and more fun, Linux Desktop Hacks is just the ticket.
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oreillyLinux Desktop Hacks

(based on 3 reviews)

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A good book for the bookshelf

By Sankarshan

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Linux Desktop Hacks:

Linux Desktop Hacks carries forward the good work of the "Hacks" Series from O'Reilly. The Desktop is a niche area and a potential minefield with each end user having his/her own idea of what all can be done with the desktop.

The book manages to steer clear of becoming a simple reference guide for newbies, yet at the same time manages to cram a lot of power hacks that will appeal to the end users.

The book is well organised - taking the user through the booting process into tweaking the Desktop Environments. And as is the norm, the Hacks can stand alone by themselves or be interlinked. It is possible to link across the hacks.

By themselves, the hacks manage to answer some of the famous newbie questions on various User Group mailing lists - for example hack # 2 (killing and restoring the MBR). Chapters 9 & 10 dealing with Administration and Automation, Kernel contain hacks which power users will enjoy trying out.

On a personal note, some more detail about commercial distributions like Red Hat, Mandrake, Novell etc would have increased the appeal of this book to the desktop users of commercial desktop distributions. But this small glitch does in no way take the credit for the extreme level of detail and collation and compilation finesse shown by the authors. A nice read and a must have.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Book Review: Linux Desktop Hacks

By Dan C

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Linux Desktop Hacks:

"Linux Desktop Hacks", by Nicholas Petreley and Jono Bacon, is a recent book published by O'Reilly in March 2005. It provides 100 "hacks" to improve the workability, performance, and cosmetic appeal of your Linux desktop environment. Be advised that "hacks" in this context might be better defined as "customizations" or "configuration improvements". It's just over 300 pages, and has a list price of $24.95.

The book seems well organized, and includes chapters on booting and login, console functions, general X usage, the KDE and Gnome environments, commonly used applications, hardware tweaks, and system administration (including compiling a kernel). There is also a decent index at the end of the book.

I must admit that my first impression of the book after picking it up was that it was yet another "Intro to Linux" book for newbies. After spending a little time with it, however, I have come to find that there are many tips and tricks in here that will prove very useful even to experienced users. Some of the improvements discussed have become items that I now use frequently.

One of the procedures that I have already used was the taking a screenshot of an X session screen from another login console. This can be very helpful with showing the progress of an installation routine, for example. I had known this capability existed, but this "hack" was explained very clearly and was very easy to use. Another section that cleared up some mysteries for me was how to run X applications remotely over a network (VNC), allowing me to run a program on one machine, and display it on another. Very handy for less capable machines on the LAN.

Some of the other tips that I look forward to trying are getting some keyboard "multimedia keys" to work properly (using the program Lineak), converting email client mailboxes from one format to another, scanning for wireless networks in the area, getting email notifications for certain system events, and doing backups over the local network. There are many other tricks that may be useful to some people too, such as playing restricted media formats (DVD's), making KDE more pleasant to use, customizing bootloader splash screens, and using the iPod and iRiver devices.

Overall I've found this book to be fun, interesting, and helpful. One good feature given for each "hack" is an indicator that tells the relative skill level needed for each procedure (beginner, moderate, expert). In any case, though, the steps are well explained and should be quite clear to anyone wanting to try it. I would recommend this book to Linux users of all skill levels. It appears to me that O'Reilly has another winner here in it's excellent "Hacks" series of books. More details about the book can be seen in the O'Reilly catalog, here: . Well done (as usual) to O'Reilly Publishing!


good reference tool

By Plano Geek

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Linux Desktop Hacks:

This book arrived on a day when my Linux wasn't cooperating. I looked in the book's table of contents to see if it had any hack I could use. I immediately found several useful ones. I was able to solve my networking problem of the day. This book has 100 hacks. You are not going to use all of them. But you will use enough to find this book worth the cost. It has some very useful shortcuts for console use that will make you look like a power Unix user in no time. I definitely recommend this book. It's a good reference tool for those days when you just need to look up something quick. And it's a good study when you have time to devote to really learning better scripting.

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