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Linux tips and tweaks

Speed up access to files and programs with Gnome Do

There are lots of great programs available for Linux, but frequently the operating system is distributed as a stripped down bare bones system. You get the essential tools and features, but little else. This is partly so that it fits on a CD and is not too unwieldy to download. You can't cram every utility and application into a distro because it would be huge. It is also partly because with a minimal system you can choose the utilities you need and then build the perfect system for yourself. Software is easily downloaded and installed and you can create an environment that suits the way you work.

Gnome Do is a fascinating utility that isn't often bundled with Linux distros, but it is well worth checking out. It enables you to access your files and applications more easily and faster. It can streamline your work and make tasks easier. It's not for everyone, but most people should find it useful.

If you want to install Gnome Do the easy way, go to your distro's package manager (in Ubuntu go to System, Administration, Synaptic Package Manager) and enter Gnome-do into the search box. Find it in the list of applications and select it for installation. If you want to do this the hard way, and Linux users often do for some reason, go here and click the download link at the top of the page. You'll find a tarball you can download and instructions for Debian (type apt-get install gnome-do gnome-do-plugins at a command prompt) and Fedora (type yum install gnome-do).

Gnome DoGnome Do should start automatically with Linux, but if it doesn't you can start it from the menu. Even if you can't see it on the desktop, it may actually be running, so press Super+Spacebar (Linux users call the Windows key on the keyboard the Super key). You'll see two boxes displayed and the left-hand one has a magnifying glass in it.

This isn't a mouse-driven application, it's accessed using the keyboard. Press F and you will see it change. What it does is look for the first application or file beginning with F or containing F. A likely result is that the Firefox or F-Spot is icon is displayed, but it may also be a bookmark or even a file. You could press Return and run the application or open the file, but if the right one isn't displayed, just keep typing until you see it. The left hand box is always the active one by default, but you can press Tab to switch to the right-hand box.

Gnome DoThat's basically it. You start typing the name of whatever you want and stop as soon as you see it. Press Tab or Return and it opens. There must be some intelligence built in because the second time you try to acces your file or application you have to do less typing. After running Firefox a few times you'll find that it appears as soon as you hit the F key.

Gnome Do is powered by plugins that enable it to perform a wide variety of functions. Press Super+Spacebar to display it on the screen and then click the small arrow in the top right corner. Select Preferences from the menu. Go to the Plugins tab and you'll find lots of plugins. There are tick boxes next to each one so you can turn it on or off. You can search files and folders, Firefox bookmarks, Rhythmbox music, Skype, Thunderbird contacts and much more. Just choose the ones you want.

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