Linux Mint 19.3 has been released

Linux Mint 19.3 has been released. The update of the popular Linux distribution is available in the flavors Xfce, Mate and Cinnamon as usually. The new version of the Linux distribution is a long term support release that will be supported until 2023.

New and existing users may download the ISO images from the official project download site. The new version introduces several changes and new features, brings refinements, and bug fixes among other things.

Tip: Check out the how to upgrade to Linux Mint 19.3 guide for instructions on upgrading existing installations.

All three desktop environments feature the same core that is made up of a Linux kernel 5.0 and is based on Ubuntu 18.04.

linux mint 19.3

Let us start with something that is no longer included by default in any of the Linux Mint editions: GIMP. The image editor is no longer preinstalled but since we are talking Linux, can be installed just like any other Linux application with a couple of clicks. Our guide on installing third-party software in Linux Mint may help you out in case you are in need of guidance.

The developers of Linux Mint made the decision to focus on the simpler app Drawing which supports basic image editing options only. Windows users may be reminded of Paint, which is included natively in Windows, and third-party image editors such as Paint.net, Photoshop or GIMP that are more powerful but need to be installed manually.

Another change that will be noted by many Linux Mint users is the focus on the media player Celluloid in the new release. Previous versions of Linux Mint provided the app Xplayer instead. Celluloid is a MPV frontend and offers better performance and hardware acceleration according to the team.

The apps that got replaced does not end here. The note taking application Tomboy has been replaced with Gnote. Gnote offers the same functionality — with the notable exception of the system tray icon — but is based on modern technology unlike Tomboy (which, among other things did not support HIDPI).

Support for HIDPI is almost completed in the new release; it is supported by all applications except for Hexchat and Qt5Settings.

Linux Mint 19.3 users may set time zones in the language settings along with locale and region.

Linux Mint 19.3 features a new System Reports feature that displays an icon in the system tray area. The app is designed to inform users of the system about potential issues. The team notes that it may hint at missing language packs, multimedia codecs, or newer hardware drivers that are available.

Improvements for all editions:

  • New status tray application XAppStatusIcon that supports HIDPI, support for dark themes and more.
  • Blueberry app improvements with better detection and error reporting.
  • Hardware detection tool added to the BIOS Menu.Also, redesigned boot menu.

Cinnamon-specific:

  • Panel Zones may now have their own text and symbolic icon sizes.
  • Nemo context menu can now be customized to add or remove entries.
  • Improved startup animation and speed optimizations.
  • Option to disable touchpad when a mouse is connected.
  • Various other improvements across the board (see what is new for an overview)

Xfce-specific:

  • Latest Xfce 4.14 included which supports HIDPI.
  • Window manage supports vsync,  HIDPI, and for Xinput2.
  • Panel and desktop support RandR’s monitor feature (improved window grouping, new default clock format, orientation option, advanced the wallpaper and more).
  • New settings dialog to manage color profiles.
  • Display settings support the saving and loading of multi-display configurations.
  • Session manager supports hybrid-sleep and comes with other improvements.
  • Thumbnails supports Fujifilm RAF format.
  • Application finder may be opened in a single window.
  • Notification service gets logging and do not disturb option.
  • Various other improvements across the board. See what is new in Xfce here.

Now You:Have you tried the new Linux Mint 19.3 already? What is your impression?

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Latest Kali Linux features an Undercover Windows 10 theme

The latest version of the Linux distribution Kali Linux features a new “Undercover” theme that turns the interface into one that resembles Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system.

Kali Linux is a security-focused Linux distribution based on Debian that is used by security researchers and hackers alike. It features advanced penetration testing and security auditing tools and is maintained by Offensive Security, a security training company.

The new Undercover theme that the developers integrated into Kali Linux makes the interface look like Windows 10. While it does not match Microsoft’s Windows 10 theme 100%, it may trick anyone who catches a glimpse of the desktop in thinking that Windows 10 is used on the device.

kali undercover windows 10

The developers highlight why it may be favorable sometimes to make the interface look like it is Windows 10:

Say you are working in a public place, hacking away, and you might not want the distinctive Kali dragon for everyone to see and wonder what it is you are doing. So, we made a little script that will change your Kali theme to look like a default Windows installation. That way, you can work a bit more incognito. After you are done and in a more private place, run the script again and you switch back to your Kali theme. Like magic!

The disguise is designed to reduce attention in public environments. Some users may prefer the Windows 10 interface over the default but that comes down to personal preference.

All that needs to be done to switch between the standard theme and the Windows 10 undercover theme is to open terminal and run kali-undercover. Doing so toggles the theme between the default and the undercover theme.

The new Kali Linux release, version 2019.4, comes with additional improvements and changes:

  • New default desktop environment Xfce (no longer the resource-heavier Gnome)
  • New GTK3 theme (for Gnome and Xfce).
  • New home for documentation is /docs/). Also documentation was moved into Markdown.
  • Public Packaging support.
  • PowerShell integration.
  • NetHunter Kex introduces a full Kali desktop on Android devices.

Kali Linux 2019.4 is the last release that supports 8 Gigabyte SDcards on ARM devices. The next official release requires at least 16 Gigabytes.

Kali Linux may be downloaded from the official project website. Direct downloads and torrents are posted on the we page.

Now You: do you run a Linux distro? If so which and why? (via Bleeping Computer)

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Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic, an open source program for Windows, Linux and macOS

PDFs have long been a commonly used format for eBooks, digital manuals or documents thanks to how content is presented regardless of operating system that is used and great support for PDF reading applications (check out Sumatra for an excellent PDF reader).

Editing PDF documents on the other hand has never been great, especially if you limited your search to free solutions.

Most free PDF tools are online based, which means you’re uploading your document to a third-party server. While that is okay for generic files, it may be an issue for anything else.

PDFSAM — PDF Split and Merge

Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic free

If you just want to perform some basic operations such as splitting a PDF or merging multiple files into a single document, you can use PDFsam Basic. It’s a free, open source program that’s available for Windows, Linux and macOS.

The main screen of PDF Split and Merge is where you select what you want to do. The application provides the following options:

  • Merge
  • Split
  • Rotate
  • Extract
  • Split by bookmarks
  • Mix
  • Split by Size

Clicking on one of the options takes you to the editor interface which may look different as it depends on the selected action. The left side-bar can be used to switch between the tools. You can drag and drop files on to the interface or use the add button to select the PDFs that you wish to use. Right-clicking on the added files allows you to rearrange the order of the documents, remove them, or view the PDF’s properties.

Merge PDFs

Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic

This option can be used combine multiple PDF documents into one. The Page range selector lets you select specific pages from each document for the merging process.

The Merge tab has options to add a blank page at the end of each document if the number of pages is odd. The footer setting, when selected, adds the name of the PDF to the page, while the normalize page size option re-sizes pages to the width of the first page. Other options provided include generating a Table of Contents, Bookmark retention, and interactive form management. To merge the selected files, set the desired options and hit the Run button; the merged PDF will be ready in a few seconds.

Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic

You can customize the destination folder where the PDF should be saved, and also set the name of the new file using the “Destination” section.

The Mix and merge section of the sidebar uses pages in alternating order from two or more PDFs to create a single PDF. So it will use a page from the first PDF followed by one from the 2nd PDF, and so on to mix and merge the document.

Split PDF

If you have a large PDF that you wish to break down into smaller documents, you can do that with PDFsam. There are a few different ways to split a PDF including: after each page, odd or even pages, split after specific page numbers, or after every “n” pages (for e.g. after every 5 pages). There are two more ways to Split PDFs: by bookmarks and by size (in KB and MB).

Rotate

Ever had a PDF which had pages or pictures in landscape mode? This set of options in PDFsam can be used to rotate individual pages, all pages, odd or even pages of a PDF, by 90 or 180 degrees clockwise, or 90 degrees anti-clockwise.

Extract

This option is handy if you just want to extract one or two pages, to use for reference or quick access. You can also extract the pages by using the page ranges selection tool (like extracting a Chapter).

There is a whole section of Premium features that you obviously can’t use in the free version. It just serves as an ad for the paid versions, and you can ignore it or disable the Premium section from the settings. PDFsam Basic does not require Java to be installed, it comes with the required files needed to run the application. The program is available as a portable version.

Closing Words

In my tests, I merged various eBooks to form a single book. I did this a few times with various options enabled, and the size of the final PDF differed a bit depending on what I selected. For the price of free, I have no complaints with it.

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Mutt is a command line email app for Linux and here's how to set it up

Mutt is a command line email app for Linux; we continue our series of reviews for Linux-based command line applications. Check out MusicCube (music player) or nnn (file manager).

Like many terminal programs, it too has a learning curve, perhaps more than the average app. We’ll try to help simplify the process to set it up and explain how to use it.

Mutt view inbox

Open a terminal to run the app and type mutt. The app’s running but can’t work because you haven’t setup your email account.

This is where you may get confused: How do I set up Mutt?

Create the configuration file

We need to place the configuration file “muttrc” in the location ~/.mutt/muttrc. Use the mkdir command or manually create it in your home/USERNAME folder. Edit the muttrc using any text editor; this document will contain the settings which are required to authenticate the email account.

Tip: I’ll tell you how I learned to use the program. Add one line (command) to the muttrc at a time, run the app and see what happens. It took some trial and error, but it was a rewarding experience.

If you’re using 2-factor authentication (and you certainly should), you’ll need to use an app password (for Gmail, Outlook, etc) to login.

Add the following lines to the muttrc file.

set imap_user = [email protected]
set imap_pass = YOUR PASSWORD

Let’s add the URL for the account. Say, we’re going to use Gmail over IMAP and SMTP, you should add this line:

set folder = imaps://imap.gmail.com/

Note: When you try to send a mail, mutt will ask you to enter the password, you can set the smtp_pass attribute to use your IMAP password to avoid manually entering it every time.

We’ll need a folder to download your mails from your inbox. Without this, Mutt cannot function. So add the following command to the config.

set spoolfile = +INBOX

You may have noticed that mutt takes a long time to start up (fetching message headers). To reduce this, you can set up the cache using the command

set header_cache = ~/.cache/mutt

Try running mutt again and it should start instantly, because the cache has been stored locally. Similarly, you can define more settings for the Sent, Drafts folders, etc.

Mutt is a command line email app for Linux and here's how to set it up

Interface

The menu bar at the top of the window lets you navigate between various tabs.  A list of keyboard shortcuts is displayed just below the menubar. The large pane in the center is the message viewer pane. You will see the mails that’re in your inbox along with the date, name of the sender and email subject. Highlight a message (use the arrow keys), and press enter to view the message.You can scroll down the message/inbox using Page Down and Page Up.

Mutt does not have an email composer built-in, so you’ll need to use a text editor. You can use advanced ones like Vim, emacs, or stick to the basic editors.

Tip: Add the command set editor=EDITOR to your muttrc. Replace the EDITOR with your favorite app, for e.g. set editor=emacs.

Press m to compose a new mail, and you’ll be prompted to select the recipient’s email address, and then the subject. The editor will open in the next step. Save the document and close it. Now, on the send screen in mutt, hit y to send the mail.

Mutt send mail

Try sending an email to yourself to test the functionality and make sure that everything is set up correctly.

Mutt view email

Tip: Press ? to access the built-in help section at anytime.

Mutt help

Here are a few important shortcuts

q = Quit
d = Delete
m = Mail (Compose)
r = Reply
y = Send
i = exit (when reading/sending mails)

There are a lot of configuration files made by other users that you can use. Here’s mine which should let you receive, read, send emails.

set imap_user = [email protected]
set imap_pass = PASSWORD OR APP PASSWORD
set realname = “YOUR NAME”
set from = “[email protected]
set folder = imaps://imap.gmail.com
set smtp_url = “smtps://[email protected]@smtp.gmail.com
set smtp_pass = PASSWORD OR APP PASSWORD
set ssl_force_tls = yes
set header_cache = ~/.cache/mutt
set spoolfile = +Inbox
set record = “+Sent”
set postponed = “+Drafts”
set trash = “+Trash”
set editor = “emacs”

The ArchLinux Wiki for Mutt was used as a reference source for this article.

I didn’t want to make this a basic tutorial, but seeing as the official Wiki was a bit confusing, I wrote one to help people. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up with advanced options, or review the NeoMutt client soon.

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nnn is an excellent command line based file manager for Linux, macOS and BSDs

The program nnn is one of the lightest file managers available for Linux, macOS, BSDs. It is not your traditional file browser though as it lacks a graphical user interface.

Tip: if you are looking for a traditional file manager instead, check out File Commander.

nnn is an excellent command line based file manager for Linux, macOS and BSDs

To install it, download one of the pre-compiled binaries from the releases page. Since it is a command line interface app, fire up a terminal and type nnn to launch it. There you go, a file manager inside the terminal. I came across it in a YouTube video by Luke Smith and was intrigued by it.

Navigation

Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate up or down in the file and folder structure, and left and right arrow keys go back or forward. The Enter-key opens a folder or file, and you can use Page Up or Down to scroll up and down a directory. Use the Q key to quit the app or exit certain views.

nnn folder view

Note: Hit the ? key to view a cheat-sheet of all the keyboard shortcuts. Use the H key when in the help menu to view an explanation of the shortcuts.

nnn help

Speaking of which there are many keyboard shortcuts which use the Shift and Control key for combos. For e.g. you can use Shift + P to copy files, Ctrl + O to open with (and enter the name of the file handler program). The numbers that you see at the top can be activated by holding down the Shift-key and pressing the corresponding number on the keyboard. These work like tabs in other programs so that you may have different views open.

Selecting files

Want to select a single file? Highlight it and hit the space key. Once selected, you may perform actions on the selection such as using F2 to rename the file.  Control is used for range selection (that’s the same as multi selection which you would do with Shift).

Once you’re in a folder, you can access the files in it by selecting them. Since nnn lacks a previewer, it will open the files in their default handler app. But the one exception to this is text documents which it can open directly. You can edit text files by hitting e, or view them by using p.

nnn text viewer

Search for folders instantly

nnn has an as-you-type search which can be toggled with the / key. It supports regex and substring formats; the functionality provides advanced search functionality but advanced queries require that users know how to use regular expressions and the options provided by the file manager.

nnn help detailed

File Archiver

Did you know nnn can be used as a file archiver? It can open, extract and create archives. Use F to create an archive, and Ctrl + F to extract one. T opens the archive and Shift + F lists the contents of the archive.

Plugins

nnn supports plugins which greatly increase its functionality (play music, upload to imgur, view PDF, etc). You can install plugins with the command:

curl -Ls https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jarun/nnn/master/plugins/getplugs | sh

nnn plugins

To access plugins use Shift + R, which displays a list of available plugins. Execute the plugin with the enter key. For e.g. if you wanted to calculate the checksum value of a file, you should select the file. Then use Shift + R, highlight the checksum plugin and enter.

I haven’t scratched nnn’s surface. You can do a lot more with the program, but this should hopefully get you started with the basics.

This article was partially based on the official nnn Wiki. I simplified it a bit.

Closing Words

The file manager nnn is an advanced tool that may appeal to users who use Terminal regularly the most. Its advanced capabilities may make it interesting to advanced users who need to locate specific files and folders quickly, or run actions on those. The available plugins extend the functionality of the program significantly.

Now You: What is your favorite file manager on *nix systems?

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Fedora 31 Linux distribution is out: here is what is new

Fedora 31 Workstation has been released on October 30, 2019. The new version of the popular Linux distribution comes with the desktop environment GNOME 3.34 and several other improvements and changes.

New users may download the ISO image from the official Get Fedora website or, if they use Windows or Mac OS devices, use the Fedora Media Writer tool instead to download the Linux distribution. Fedora Linux can be run as a Live distribution, ideal for getting a feel for the operating system.

Upgrade instructions to upgrade existing installations to Fedora 31 are provided on the project website as well.

Note: Fedora 31 is available as a 64-bit version only; it is the first version of Fedora that does not provide a 32-bit version.

Fedora 31

fedora 31 linux

The biggest change in Fedora 31 is the upgrade to the desktop environment GNOME 3.34 which promises new features and performance improvements. Here is a short overview of important changes:

  • Support for custom folders. Just drag & drop icons on top of each other to create a new custom folder. The feature helps organize certain types of programs, e.g. system tools, entertainment, or games, into a single location.
  • Sandboxed browser. The GNOME web browser’s processes are now sandboxed for improved security. It also includes a new tab pinning option and comes with updated ad-blocking functionality.
  • Boxes improvement. Boxes, the GNOME virtual and remote machine manager comes with an improved New Box Assistant workflow, support for 3D acceleration, and more.
  • Game state saving. The retro application Games supports multiple save states per game in the new release. Gamers may save as many states as they want using the tool. There is also an option to import and export game states.
  • Background improvements. Redesigned background panel featuring previews and custom background options.
  • Music updates. The Music app may watch sources, e.g. the Music folder, automatically to update the database when changes are noticed. Playback has improved with the addition of gapless playback functionality.

Besides what has been mentioned already, there is more. Among the many changes are a larger list of featured applications in Software, support for right-to-left and bi-directional languages in Terminal, and a new warning when a user attempts to drop files in write protected locations.

Now You: have you tried Fedora? What is your take, or do you prefer a different Linux distribution?

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Conky is a highly customizable system monitor for Linux

A couple of months ago, we introduced you to a Windows program called Sidebar Diagnostics; this time, we are going to take a look at a similar program for Linux.

Conky must be a familiar name if you have been using Linux for a while. It is a fork of a now defunct app called Torsmo.

While it is a fork in the technical sense, it is more advanced than Torsmo. If you’re running Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, etc, you can just run the following command in a Terminal

$ sudo apt-get install conky

For other distros, refer to the official GitHub page on how to install Conky.

To start the program, open a Terminal and just type the word conky and hit enter. You should see a new window pop-up. By default, Conky displays the following stats: Uptime, Frequency, RAM Usage, Swap Usage, CPU Usage, Processes, File Systems (storage), and Networking.

It also lists the current top processes along with the memory and CPU usage of each; very useful for users and administrators who want to analyze the performance of the Linux system or keep an eye on resource usage.

Tip: To exit the app, use the command killall conky.

Customizing Conky

The program’s highlight is the customization options that it offers. Navigate to the Conky.conf file and open it in a text editor.  Copy the content of the text file as we’ll be using it as a guideline. To begin configuring the app, create a file called .Conkyrc in the home folder. Paste the copied text into this and start editing it.

For e.g. to change the white text to something else like say blue, edit the default_outline_color = ‘white’, and replace the word ‘white’ with blue. Next try moving the conky interface to the right or adding a new font and using it. Similarly you can change the values of the colors of other elements, font type, size, transparency, and more. You can get creative with it and even add or remove elements that are displayed in the widget.

There are many user configurations available online. So you can just download the one that you like and use it if you don’t want to customize it yourself. You can also use user-created configs, themes, for learning how to customize/theme Conky from scratch. Speaking of which, there are many themes available for Conky. Here is how you install a theme that you have downloaded.

Tip: check out DeviantArt for a selection of themes.

Download any theme. I’ll be using the Simple Conky theme from Deviantart. You will need the Ostrich Sans font if you want it to look as it does on the screenshot. Place the font’s folder in the Usr/Share/Fonts/TrueType folder.

Extract the theme’s archive to the Home folder, and rename conkyrc to .conkyrc. Restart conky How easy was that? You can of course, customize it further if you want to modify it.

Closing Words

Conky is a powerful system monitor for Linux systems. Configuration and customization options are powerful but fiddly, especially for users who are not used to editing configuration files manually.

Now You: Do you monitor your system’s performance and hardware metrics?

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OBS Studio is an open source video recorder and streaming app for Windows, Linux and macOS

OBS Studio aka Open Broadcaster Software Studio is very popular among YouTube users. You can use it to broadcast gameplay streams live or use it to record videos (which you may then upload to YouTube or other video hosting sites). Want to set up a camera and mic to record content for your vlog? You can do that too.

This is one of those rare applications that is user-friendly on the one hand but still advanced enough to deliver the options that advanced users require. That being said, we’re going to take a look at the basic usage of the program, the recording of on-screen content.

OBS Studio is a cross-platform program that is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

When you run the program for the first time you will see an “Auto-configuration Wizard” prompt. This can help you setup the program for your usage as it may optimize the settings for streaming (with recording as a secondary option) or recording (no streaming).

The wizard also lets you pick the resolution and frame rate per second, both of which are important for recording/streaming gameplay video. OBS Studio can stream directly to Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook, or Twitter among many other services. The program can be used to authenticate your channel’s account to stream content directly to it.

If you choose the auto-config wizard, OBS Studio will determine your system’s hardware capabilities and choose a pre-set for the video output (encoder, quality, resolution, fps..). This is recommended if you’re new to the video capturing scene.

The interface of OBS Studio is quite easy to grasp even for beginners. The menu bar at the top has some advanced options that you can tinker with but can be safely ignored for now. The large pane in the middle is the video preview pane. The bottom of the screen is divided into 5 parts; Scenes, Sources, Audio Mixer, Scene Transitions, Controls.

Video capture

Scenes are a collection of sources. You can have multiple scenes, each containing different sources. The Sources section is where you select the content that you wish to capture. You can select audio, video, images, browser (web URLs), windows (select the program),  games (full screen applications) etc. as the source.

Once you select the video source, the preview pane will display a live preview of the content that you wish to capture. For example, if you wish to record your desktop screen, select “Display capture”, for gameplay, select game, and so on.

OBS Studio is an open source video recorder and streaming app for Windows, Linux and macOS

Audio capture

Now that your video source is set up, let’s move on to audio. The Audio Mixer can be used to record the Desktop Audio and Mic Audio. These options can be useful if you want to record gameplay audio and want to add your own commentary to it. Or just one of the two. Control the volume using the bars, or mute either or both of them by clicking on the speaker icon. Clicking on the gear cog icon next to the audio bars lets you select the audio source in case you have more than one sound cards.

Finalizing the video settings

Scene Transitions are useful when switching from one video to another, or if you want to focus on something else. Before we dive to the Controls section, let’s go through the Settings. Here you can configure various options for the program.

More importantly, you can define the audio and video input and output settings. Examples include configuring the video output to use x264 encoding, or to save the recording in a format like mkv, mp4, flv or mov. You can also choose the bitrate of the video and audio as per your requirements.

Record or stream

Once you are happy with the settings, hit the Start Streaming button or the Start Recording button (in the Controls section) to start the capturing process. You can pause recordings with the pause button.

Interestingly, this feature wasn’t available until a recent update. Click on the stop button and the video will be saved at the location that you selected in the settings.

OBS Studio settings

Closing Words

Please refer to the official website for advanced usage tips, keyboard shortcuts, customization options, etc. It takes time to master the application. The program is easy to use and very powerful at the same time.

OBS Studio is available in a portable version for 64-bit systems. The program runs on Windows 7 and above, macOS 10.11 and newer, Ubuntu 14.04 or newer.

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Celluloid is a really good mpv frontend for Linux

If you are a Linux user who wants a front-end for the popular MPV video player, Celluloid may be your best bet.

I installed the application via flatpak but you can find quite a few packages linked at the official GitHub; installation instructions for flatpak are available on the same page.

Celluloid mpv frontend for Linux

The GUI of Celluloid is quite similar to most Linux apps, and quite minimal. Click on the + button in the top left corner to open a video, or drag and drop one on to the interface. You can also load a web URL to stream content directly using the player from the Open Location menu.

Celluloid is a really good mpv frontend for Linux

Celluloid has a couple of buttons in the top right corner. The first button is for toggling full-screen mode,  second (hamburger menu) lets you access a few options. You can toggle the controls (playback bar) and the playlist (hit F9 to view), and save a playlist from this menu. It also houses options to select the video track, audio track and the subtitle.

Click on the Preferences menu item to access the program options. You can toggle the dark theme for the interface,there are settings to remember the last file location (not the playback time, but the folder location), and an option to hide the mouse cursor automatically in window mode. Speaking of which, you can auto-hide the playback controls by enabling the “Use floating controls in Windowed mode”.

Celluloid lets you select where the MPV configuration file is located and lets you load your custom settings with ease. If you don’t have one, you can create one using our beginner friendly guide as reference, or if you have a Windows computer, maybe you can use Glow to generate an MPV config file quickly. The miscellaneous section has a few other options such as a setting to ignore playback errors, and to always open the video in a new window. You can also set custom settings (command line options) using the “Extra MPV Options” text field, located in the Miscellaneous tab.

MPV user scripts are compatible with Celluloid. To add them, navigate to the Plugins tab which is found under the Preferences menu. You can view the list of Celluloid’s keyboard shortcuts from the menu as well. There are 3 pages of shortcuts, which are very useful, e.g. to control the video size, volume, take screenshots, adjust subtitles, and more using the shortcuts.

Celluloid Linux keyboard shortcuts

Closing Words

The playback interface lets you pause and play a video with a right-click which I found to be useful. I had no problems with videos played with Celluloid; the audio quality and the whole media playback experience was just as good as the regular MPV application that I use on Windows. The program is light on resources, and there is no learning curve which is always a good thing.

Celluloid is written in GTK+, and was formerly called GNOME MPV. I would say that its interface is slightly more appealing than the Windows-only MPV.NET front-end.

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Newsboat is a command line based RSS feed reader for Linux

Once upon a time, there used to be a Command line based RSS feed reader called Newsbeuter, but, like many a good program it too was abandoned.

Fortunately, another developer forked the source code and Newsboat was born. The program is quite user friendly and offers a great deal of customization options. I’m going to point out  the basics to get you started with the program.

Newsboat is a command line based RSS feed reader for Linux

How to install Newsboat the easy way

If you’re not familiar with installing libraries, I’d suggest using Snapd. To install it, just run

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install snapd

Once it’s installed, run the command

$ sudo snap install newsboat

Newsboat how to install snapd

This is the easiest way to install Newsboat. I’d recommend this for advanced users too because it takes like a minute and uses the least amount of disk space.

How to install Newsboat – compiling the latest version from source

Newsboat relies on several libraries (sqlite3, libcurl, libxml2, stfl, json-c, ncursesw, etc) and the developers do not distribute ready-to-use packages that contain the dependencies.  If you are an advanced user, you can install the libraries by using the terminal command “sudo apt install”. Make sure you use the developer version of the libraries, since you will need to compile the program.

For e.g. sudo apt-get install libsqlite3-dev

How to add RSS Feeds to Newsboat

Newsboat will not run unless you have a list of RSS Feeds that it can access. You have 2 options for this.

Import an OPML feed list (from Feedly, Inoreader, or other RSS feed readers, e.g. QuiteRSS or Newsflow). To do this open the terminal and use the command “newsboat -i my-feeds.opml” (replace my-feeds with the name of your opml file).

Newsboat imported feeds

OR

Create a file called urls. Use a text editor, and save it in the Newsboat folder. For me it had to be placed at /home/ashwin/snap/newsboat/1471/.newsboat/

Open the urls file and paste the links of RSS feed URLS that you wish to access. Save and close it.

For example, you could add these to the urls file and Newsboat will display the corresponding feeds:

http://www.ghacks.net/feed/

http://blog.linuxmint.com/?feed=rss2

Newsboat feed list

The import OPML option basically creates the urls file for you. You can edit it after it has been created.

How to open Newsboat and use it

Open the Terminal and type newsboat. The program should load the urls file and you will be able to access the RSS feeds in the command line. When you are accessing a newly added feed, it may throw out some error. Hit the r key to reload it and Newsboat should be able to retrieve the feed.

Newsboat feed view

Use the arrow keys to navigate between the feeds. Optionally, you can type the number of the feed and hit enter to select it. Hit Enter again to open the selected feed. Repeat the steps to read an article from a feed. Press n to jump to the next unread feed. If you want to read the article in the browser, use o.

Here’s a screenshot of all the shortcuts available in Newsboat.

Newsboat keyboard shortcuts

Take some time to read the documentation on the official website to learn how to customize Newsboat. You can change the colour, add tags, set custom names for the feeds, etc.

Closing Words

I mostly use Feedly for my RSS requirements. But, they have been changing the design too much of late and it’s almost a pain to use it. I’m switching back to standalone readers.  Newsboat is a pretty cool way to read articles. Of course, not being able to see pictures from the posts is a con, as is the inability to interact with other content, e.g. links. I do like the minimal and distraction free reading experience.

Now You: Which feed reader do you use currently?

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