7.12. Important Utilities

GNOME has many applets and applications designed to interact with the desktop and each other. This section introduces some of them. Learn how to manage little notes on your desktop, use the GNOME dictionary, chat using Gaim, and enjoy various types of multimedia applications.

7.12.1. Taking Notes with Tomboy

Tomboy is a desktop note-taking application that helps you organize ideas and information. To add Tomboy to a panel, right-click the panel then click Add to Panel. Scroll down the list of items, select Tomboy Notes, then click Add. The Tomboy icon appears on your panel.

Left-click the panel icon to open the Tomboy menu then select Create New Note. Type the text of your note. Link notes with each other by clicking Link. These links can even survive renaming and reorganizing. A Search Notes function located in the panel menu of Tomboy lets you search your notes. Web links and e-mail addresses can also be dropped onto Tomboy. Click Recent Changes to view a list of your notes in the order they were last modified.

Tomboy also supports advanced editing features, such as highlighted text, inline spell checking, automatically-linking Web and e-mail addresses, undo and redo, and font styling and sizing.

Figure 7.8. Examples of Tomboy Notes

Examples of Tomboy Notes

7.12.2. Dictionary

GNOME Dictionary provides dictionary definitions of words using any server that supports the dict protocol (an Internet standard for client/server dictionary applications). An Internet connection is required because this applet accesses an online dictionary. To open Dictionary, click Applications+Office+Dictionary+Dictionary or enter gnome-dictionary in a terminal window.

Figure 7.9. GNOME Dictionary

GNOME Dictionary

Enter a word in Look Up. By default, the query is sent to the dict.org server. To use a different server, click Edit+Preferences. dict.org lets you choose between various databases for special vocabularies, such as jargon or computer terminology. Under Strategy, specify the search strategy to use, such as matching the exact word, parts of the word, or the prefix or suffix. Click Help to access the online manual.

7.12.3. Messaging Using Gaim

Gaim is a powerful instant messenger client. It supports various protocols, such as AIM, ICQ, GroupWise®, IRC, Jabber, and MSN. Its most popular features include the ability to log in to multiple accounts on multiple instant messaging networks at the same time, automatic text replacement, and spell checking. Gaim has buddy pounces (known as “buddy alerts” in AOL Messenger), meaning that you can configure Gaim to notify you whenever one of your buddies enters or leaves a channel you are currently connected to. Gaim can send you a message announcing this, play a sound, or execute a command.

To access Gaim, click Applications+Internet+Chat+Gaim Internet Messenger or enter gaim in a terminal window. On first start-up, create a list of your accounts on different instant messaging networks by clicking Accounts+Add. Select the protocol then specify your screen name, password, and alias. Select Remember password and Auto-login if you want Gaim to log in automatically on start-up. To keep track of your e-mail while using Gaim, select New mail notifications. To use a buddy icon with your account, open a file dialog and select one. Additional options, such as proxy settings and server addresses, can be configured after clicking Show more options. When you have completed your account settings, click Save to exit this dialog.

As soon as you are finished specifying the account data, it is shown in the login window. To sign on, select your account from the Account menu, type your password, click Sign on, and start chatting.

7.12.4. Internet Telephony and Video Conferencing with GnomeMeeting

GnomeMeeting lets you see and speak to other people via Internet telephony (VoIP) and video conferencing. The GnomeMeeting address book is shared with the Evolution™ e-mail client, so you do not need to specify contact information in more than one place. You can browse for other GnomeMeeting users on your local network without discovering their contact details first and you can view your own video output side-by-side with the video from your conversation partners so you see what they see.

To open GnomeMeeting, click Applications+Internet+Telephone+GnomeMeeting. The first time you access GnomeMeeting, you need to complete the steps in the First Time Configuration Druid that automatically opens.

7.12.5. Managing Archives with File Roller

In GNOME, you can manage file archives with File Roller. As an archive manager, it can create and modify archives, view the content of an archive, view a file contained in the archive, and extract files from the archive. File Roller supports the following formats: tar archives uncompressed (.tar) or compressed with gzip (.tar.gz , .tgz), bzip (.tar.bz , .tbz), bzip2 (.tar.bz2, .tbz2), compress (.tar.Z , .taz), lzop (.tar.lzo , .tzo); Zip archives (.zip); Jar archives (.jar , .ear, .war); Lha archives (.lzh); Rar archives (.rar); and single files compressed with gzip, bzip, bzip2, compress, and lzop.

You can easily view archive contents from File Roller with other applications without needing to decompress the archives. File Roller supports drag and drop, allowing you to drag file icons from the desktop or file manager (Nautilus) to the File Roller window and drop them there.

To open File Roller, click Applications+Utilities+Archiving+Archive Manager. To create a new archive, click Archive+New. Specify a name for the new archive (without a file extension) and the directory in which to create the archive. Then select an archive type. Click New to exit the dialog. Add files to the archive by dragging and dropping files from the desktop or the file manager or by clicking Edit+Add Files.

After completing the selection and configuration, exit the dialog. The archive you created is available for further processing at the specified location. To decompress an archive, load it to File Roller, click Edit+Extract then specify the target directory.

7.12.6. Reading News Feeds with Blam

Blam is a tool that helps you keep track of the growing number of news feeds distributed as RSS. RSS provides news updates from a Web site in a simple form for your computer. You can read these files in a program called an aggregator, which collects news from various Web sites. Blam is a GNOME aggregator that lets you subscribe to any number of feeds and provides an easy-to-use interface to stay up to date. Blam can print news entries and automatically updates feeds at regular intervals.

To open Blam, click Applications+Internet+RSS Reader+Blam Feed Reader. Channels appear in a list on the left of the Blam window. Click any channel then view the headlines in the top-right panel. Clicking a headline displays the article in the lower-right panel. To see the full article, scroll to the bottom of the lower-right panel and click Show in browser.

Figure 7.10. Blam Feed Reader

Blam Feed Reader

To add a new channel, click Channel+Add, enter the URL, then click OK. For example, entering http://www.novell.com/newsfeeds/rss/slp.xml adds the SUSE Linux Professional Cool Solutions channel to your list and downloads the latest articles.