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Installing Vista Fonts in Ubuntu September 16, 2007

Posted by Carthik in guides, looks and feel, microsoft, packages, ubuntu.

Microsoft’s new ClearType fonts for Vista are great. The fonts include Constantia, Corbel, Calibri, Cambria, Candara and Consolas.
Microsoft Vista Fonts

Getting them installed in Ubuntu is a breeze, thanks to a script I found.
To install the Vista ClearType fonts in Ubuntu, you need to install cabextract first. Cabextract is a utility found in the universe repository, so before you run the following command, make sure you have universe enabled in your repository list. Once this is done, install cabextract using:
$sudo apt-get install cabextract

Then, once that is done, use this script to install the Vista fonts. Create a file called “vista-fonts-installer.sh” in your home (~) directory.
Then open up a text editor and copy and paste the script into that file.
Do a chmod a+x ~/vista-fonts-installer.sh to make the file/script executable.
Then run the script using:
$ ~/vista-fonts-installer.sh

The script downloads the Powerpoint Viewer installer from microsoft.com, and then extracts the Vista cleartype fonts using cabextract. These fonts are then installed in the ~/.fonts directory.

Please remember that the ClearType Vista fonts are not free as in they are not GPL-ed or made available under a re-distributable license. Since you are downloading the fonts from the MS website, and since you might already have a Windows XP/Vista license, this is not a crime, but consider yourself warned against the perils of supporting closed systems 🙂


  1. Looks like the use of these fonts are restricted to only Microsoft Windows/Vista operating systems according to the terms of the license. I am sorry, but you’ll be installing them at your own risk.
  2. Also, please make sure you use the bash shell, or change the first line of the code to #!/bin/bash
  3. In retrospect, this was a bad post – I think we’re better off not using stuff folks don’t want us to use – let’s use the better, freer, easier to install fonts.

Convert/Import from PDF and Keep the Formatting April 10, 2007

Posted by Carthik in applications, guides, microsoft, office, ubuntu.

I have often wanted to convert a PDF file to a MS Word (.doc) file or an openoffice.org file. Usually I just copy the text from the PDF file and paste it in the new word document. Soon, this gets pretty tiring.

Recently I found a way to convert a pdf file to other formats, including .doc and .odt which preserves the formatting of the text pretty well. It is not perfect preserved but it is way better than having no formatting at all.

The secret goes by the name KWord. KWord is a KDE application that has a pdf “import” feature which lets you import either entire pdf documents or just a few pages from a pdf document while preserving the formatting! Of course – this only works for pdf documents which are not scanned images of pages. I tried it out on files created using \LaTeX, MS Word and OpenOffice. The font sizes in the imported document are larger than they need to be, but at least the headings are heading, the normal text is normal text, and the bullets are bullets!


Getting Details about My Laptop Battery – and Taking Care of it April 8, 2007

Posted by Carthik in guides, maintenance, ubuntu.

Recently I have noticed that the “stamina” of my Acer notebook’s battery has been getting progressively worse. The laptop is hardly a year old and yet I get only 3/4ths of the time I used to get with it when I bought it. I wanted to know more details about how my battery’s doing.

Laptop Battery
(img credit: Sean Dreilinger on Flickr)

To find out all the details you would want to know about you battery, browse to the directory
/proc/acpi/battery/ and then to the directory that has your battery in it.

Once there, see the contents of the files to learn more about your battery. Here’s what my files tell me:
battery statistics screenshot

So, as you can see, my battery does not charge to its full design capacity of 4400 mAh. It only charges to 3134 mAh, which is almost 3/4ths of the original capacity. Looks like my battery is on the downhill slide.

Since it is a Lithium Ion battery, I went looking for details on how to take good care of it. It is a good thing I did, because it demystified me – Letting your battery drain to “dead” before recharging it is not good. I really thought it was, but it is not. Wish I had known this earlier! I found an excellent page online with details of what factors affect the performance and lifespan on Lithium Ion batteries. The page includes graphs to show stored charge levels, temperature, discharge load etc affect battery longevity. In case you don’t have the time to read the page, here’s some points for you to remember to ensure a long life for your LiON battery:

  • Avoid frequent discharges to 0% stored charge.
    • Several partial discharges with frequent recharges is better, since Lithium-Ion batteries have no “memory”
    • You still have to allow it to go from full charge to near-empty charge once in 30 charge cycles to make sure that the battery charge monitor is properly calibrated
  • Avoid Heat
    • Don’t leave the laptop in the car
    • If you are going to use the laptop connected to power for a week or more continuously, take the battery out. This will save it from the heat and from the charge-discharge problems
  • The batteries deteriorate even when they are stored cool!
    • Don’t buy a replacement battery or a spare battery until the time when you really need it!
    • If you have to store a Lithium Ion battery – store it at 40% charge and store it in a refrigerator

Take care of your battery, because there is no way to restore capacity to failed batteries. Also, an average battery is good for 300-500 charge/discharge cycles, or about 1-2 years. The main physical reason for the degradation of performance seems to be increased internal resistance, which causes the battery to be unable to deliver the charge stored in it to the outside world (the internal resistance eats it up 🙂 ). Chemical decomposition of components also reduces the charge delivery capacity over time. So it is best to do the most you can to slow down the degradation by following the tips above.

Using sshfs to Access Remote Directories in Windows March 5, 2007

Posted by Carthik in guides, Readers' Tips, servers, ubuntu.

I had a tough time deciding on a title for this post/article (“in” Windows or “on” Windows? I give up!).

J Wynia writes in to share a method to how to access remote directories, such as those on your web server through sshfs on Windows. Actually that’s not the full story.

The full story is:
1) Install Ubuntu in a virtual machine in Windows
2) Setup sshfs and use that mount your remote directory
3) Setup the sshfs-mount as a Samba share
4) Access said Samba share from Windows

Tin foil hat people keep away! 🙂 Also, the author mentions troubles with his Ensim server administration software (which he worked around). Folks who use cPanel or some other server control panel might have some trouble too.

So head over to the article already!

My old article on mounting remote directories using sshfs is what prompted J Wynia to write it.

Gimparoo – Converting Photoshop Tutorials to Gimp February 13, 2007

Posted by Carthik in Friends Etc., guides, Other sites, reviews.

It’s not everyday that I get stoked enough by a website/blog that I decide to write about it. I happened upon gimparoo today, and the first thought I had was, “The world so badly needs this blog – what a great idea.” Though I don’t muck around with the GIMP as much as I used to a few years ago, I still appreciate a good, useful resource.

Gimparoo converts photoshop tutorials for the Gimp. Linux users rejoice!

To whoever the author of gimparoo is – please keep updating the blog once a day 🙂

Use reportbug to report bugs better January 26, 2007

Posted by Carthik in bugsquashing, guides, ubuntu.

This little gem is from the Debian Administration blog. The article deals with how to report a bug in Debian without a working MTA. However, with a little modification it can be useful for Ubuntu Users and bug triagers too.

reportbug is a nifty command that creates a template for reporting a package bug, which it then fills out with your comment and emails to the bugtrackers. It automatically adds info about your system and about the package that has the bug to your report.

Only, in Ubuntu, reportbug sends the email to the ubuntu-users mailing list. This is a known bug and has been around for a long time. The emails with the bug reports are bounced from the mailing list and then they end up in my inbox, where I sort through them, and then report the bug manually on behalf of the original reporter if the bug deserves attention, is not a duplicate etc. Needless to say, this is a minor pain 🙂

So, if we were to follow the trick at the debian administration blog, we could all use reportbug’s useful, templated output regarding the package that has a bug and report the bug manually at Malone, our beloved bug tracker.

The next time you have a bug, find out the name of the package that has the bug (say “package-name”), and do the following:
1) Use the command reportbug --template -S normal package-name
2) Fill in an appropriate comment regarding what the bug itself is
3) File the bug after checking to see if it has already been reported.

The “–template” in the command will produce the template for the package, and the “-S normal” will set the severity of the bug to Normal.

Of course, you can report the bug via email too, but it currently requires that you have a gpg key on record at launchpad, so it might not work. Reporting via a web browser will work, a 100% of the time!

Ubuntu Screencasts from the Doc Team January 12, 2007

Posted by Carthik in guides, Other sites, ubuntu.

I had written earlier about a way to create screencasts in Ubuntu. Well, it looks like we have come a long way from there.

I was glad to find the documentation team’s collection of screencasts and also the details on how the screencasts were created. Awesome work!

There are a whole lot of screencast, including how to set up a dual-booting system with Windows and Ubuntu and how to install Flashplayer.

That’s all for now, folks.

Sync Evolution Calendar with Google Calendar December 18, 2006

Posted by Carthik in applications, calendar, evolution, google, guides, office.

Not so much a detailed guide as a couple of links to help me out in the future:

How to sync your google calendar with Evolution
The access is “read-only” which means you cannot add events in Evolution and have them show up in your google calendar, but your events in google calendar will be available in Evolution for you to read.

To circumvent the problem of the sync described above not being a “true” two-way sync, one can use scheduleworld as a go-between. This way, Evolution and Google Calendar both sync to scheduleworld, and everything is hunky-dory.

A guide to sync Google calendar using scheduleworld is available, but the guide (unfortunately) deals with MS Outlook primarily.

Many of the concepts from the guide can be usd with Evolution. The missing link is the SyncEvolution plugin for Evolution. There is a thread at Ubuntu Forums that explains how to get going with SyncEvolution. So put it all together, and you can sync your Evolution Calendar with your Google Calendar.

Maybe we should all try and add a few million more users to Ubuntu, and then perhaps Google and everyone else will make it easier for us folks to sync and inter-operate seamlessly with their services. Googlers use Ubuntu – I wonder why a few of them won’t spend their quota of free/creative weekly hours to make things easier for us folks 🙂

gnome-open: Open Anything from the Command Line December 16, 2006

Posted by Carthik in commands, gnome, guides, ubuntu.

There is a command called gnome-open which I find very handy. I thought of sharing it with you, and was searching for documentation on it, and found none, neither on the web using google, nor on the system. No man page entry, or info entry. All the more reason I should document what I know about it.

Simply put, the command
gnome-open opens the item specified by the url with the preferred GNOME app for that file/mime-type.

In a sense, this command resembles the universal “open” command on Mac OSX.

Read on for examples…

Ubuntu Cookies, anyone? December 11, 2006

Posted by Carthik in cookies, guides, news, ubuntu.

With the memory of the Ubuntu Cake War still fresh in our minds, let us turn to cookies.

Ubuntu Sugar Cookies

It doesn’t really surprise me that the best Linux distribution also has the logo that translates into the best sugar cookie. Let’s face it: Ubuntu is one sweet distro. I apologize now to Canonical Ltd. for unauthorized use of their logo. Let’s hope that in the spirit of Ubuntu, they will be as awesome in their forgiveness as they are in their flavor of Linux.

This one doesn’t stop at just the pics – detailed instructions on how to bake-get the cookies are included!