If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent more time
installing Linux than actually using it. Here’s what you need to know
to get started on a permanent switch to the penguin
good news about Linux is that there’s an unbelievable amount of
information available on the Internet to help you learn to use the
open-source operating system. The bad news is that it can be crushingly
difficult to find said information. There are a multitude of reasons
for the search problems, but most of the time the problem is that
you’re not searching for the right thing. A normal person wouldn’t know
that you need to edit the fstab to mount new drives or edit xorg.conf
to adjust your resolution. Here’s the info you’ll need to get started.
Beryl lets you map your virtual desktops to the outside of a
the next best thing to multiple monitor. (Click the image for a
high-res shot or download the wallpaper)
Beryl is a desktop compositing engine that works much like the one
included in Windows Vista and Apple’s OS X. It uses your 3D accelerator
to draw your desktop, which gives better performance and a
better-looking desktop—assuming you’ve managed to install your 3D
To install Beryl, you’ll first want to add the following line to
your repository list: deb
http://ubuntu.beryl-project.org feisty main Before clicking
reload, open a new terminal (Applications > Accessories
>Terminal) and type wget
http://firstname.lastname@example.org -O- | sudo
apt-key add –(that’s a capital O, not the numeral).
These two commands tell your Linux install where to find the Beryl
software and exchange a cryptographic key so that your machine can
verify that the Beryl Project server is the machine it claims to be.
Once you’ve done that, you can go back to Synaptic and install the
beryl, beryl-manager, and emerald-themes packages. Next, type
beryl-manager in a new terminal window, and your desktop will be 3D. If
you have problems with the installation, check the Beryl Wiki.
Of course, installing the app is only the first step. You’ll want to
spend some time futzing around with the options. The Beryl GUI is
infinitely more configurable than the Vista or OS X equivalents. Using
the Beryl Settings Manager (right-click the red gem icon in your system
tray), you can adjust everything from the window open-and-close
animation to the amount your windows wobble when you drag them across
the screen. The other panel of interest to Beryl users is the Emerald
Themes Manager (it’s also accessible by right-clicking the Beryl gem).
This tool lets you change the window fixtures common to all apps: the
window borders, control icons, and title bars. Feel free to play around
with these settings all you want, nothing you adjust here can do
Beryl is still early software, so while we had good luck running it
on some hardware, your experience might differ. For now, it’s a preview
of the future—and not something that’s suitable for most people to use
on a day-to-day basis.
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Last Updated Friday, May 11 2007 @ 01:03 PM EDT