Archive for July, 2010


PDF-Shuffler

I came across a rare problem tonight: I need to merge slides from a Power Point slide presentation and a slide show I made in LaTeX Beamer. I hate the .ppt format, if I ever have to view a .ppt I install Impress, convert the file to a .pdf and uninstall Impress. But this time around I need to teach one lecture for a friend of mine, and she uses slides provided by the text book. About 50% of the slides are usable, but I need to make 20 or so slide of my own and add them. Since the text book slides have pictures and crap I don’t want to redo in Beamer, I needed to find a better way (insert David Cross electric scissors joke here).

PDF-Shuffler is an app I came across in the Ubuntu repos. It has a single python dependency and does a few things, but one thing very well: you can open as many .pdf’s as you want, it displays every slide from each .pdf in a grid, and you choose what order they go in. Any slide you don’t want, you simply delete. You can also resize and rotate slides. And that’s it. But since that’s all I needed it to do, that’s pretty sweet.

PDF-Shuffler

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These apply to any buntu actually, but I can’t use any other buntu for more than a few days without replacing it with something using LXDE or Openbox, for me they only apply to Lubuntu. While I think ArchBang, Crunchbang, Debian and SliTaz are fantastic distributions, they all are missing some combination of the following three attributes:

1. Live CD/USB
2. Nvidia support
3. Simple graphical installer

Lubuntu, like all buntu’s, is easy to test, view and install. While SliTaz is easy to boot from a USB, it’s video support is lacking. Debian, and therefore CrunchBang, is sometimes a pain when trying to boot from a USB. And ArchBang itself is easy to boot from a USB, but I last tried to compile and boot the new LXDE version and it gave me some problems. ArchBang could end up being my favorite distro, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The first linux distribution I ever used was Ubuntu, and as it began to annoy me more and more with every release, my frustration finally boiled over and I ended up becoming a chronic distro-hopper. I moved to Xubuntu, then to Crunchbang, then to Debian+LXDE. What I discovered about myself is that I prefer distributions that don’t have a lot of default applications and dependencies. Ubuntu infuriated me with their integration of everything into evolution. I tried to remove the email client and I was told I would also be uninstalling the bulk of my desktop. That was the last straw. Next was Crunchbang, which is awesome, but but not updated as frequently as I liked. I was spoiled by Ubuntu’s 6 month release cycle, and as much as I liked Crunchbang, the old software began to wear on me. I then played around with a minimal Ubuntu+LXDE system, and while the installation was a simple, it didn’t feel like a distribution. That was the same issue that ended my usage of Debian+LXDE, it just never felt like anyone was in charge. That may sound odd, and it’s even a little odd to type, but whoever that Mario Behling guy is, he’s in charge of the project, and if something isn’t right, he’ll fix it, most likely.

Now there are other distributions that fit that description, Crunchbang and all the buntus comes to mind, but they both have their drawbacks. The new Crunchbang is built from Debian and I like the Ubuntu repositories more because of their inclusion of “non-free” packages. Linux nerds redefining the meaning of the word “free” drives me nuts. Free means I don’t have to pay for it. Free doesn’t mean I can sell it as my own as long as I credit the creator. Example: if some gives you a book at no cost, it’s free, even though you’re not allowed to copy it and sell it for profit. So the intel wireless driver I need during installation, but isn’t included because it’s not “free”, actually is free douchebags. But I digress. The other members of the buntu family are the reasons I have become such a huge fan of the LXDE desktop: they come with so much crap I don’t need and can’t easily remove that I just get angry. Lubuntu is truly lightweight, and flat out works. I’ve installed it on my media center, netbook, laptop and desktop, each one without a hitch. Yes, I know that sounds nutty, to install it on every computer I own, but it’s just that good. It’s both the best Ubuntu based distribution AND the best LXDE distribution.

I’m probably jinxing myself, but there is not one thing about Lubuntu I don’t like. Easy as hell to install? Check. LXDE desktop? With the latest components? Yep. Access to the Ubuntu repos? Uh hu. A minimal amount of applications in direct conflict with what appears to be the Ubuntu mission statement? You betcha. Fast as hell? So fast, it’s kind of odd. Why aren’t other distributions this fast? Hell, it even looks nice. The new Ubuntu and Xubuntu are ugly as hell. Lubuntu is a very pleasing blue. This is so weird for me; I used to strongly dislike Ubuntu. And now? I can’t shut up about are awesome one of it’s derivatives is. I attribute most of it to the use of LXDE, and what I can only assume is the amazing vision by that Behling fellow.