I Switched to PCLinuxOS

I finally made the switch from Ubuntu 11.10 to PCLinuxOS. It took me some time because I wanted to make sure that a new Linux distro would be right for me.

So I read as much as I could reviews about the various Linux distros available. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot.

There are 2 major reasons why I gave up on Ubuntu and didn´t wait anymore for its upgrade set to be released on April. One, I did not like their Unity desktop, which was forced upon its users with the 11.10 version. Before this users had a choice between the classic desktop and Unity.

Many users disapproved of Unity, but the Ubuntu developers went on and forced it down our throats. It doesn´t bode well for developers when they don´t listen to their users. The least they could do was continue to give users a choice.

The second reason I gave up on Ubuntu is because I could no longer use RecordMyDesktop with the upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10. RecordMyDesktop is a screencast software that I use extensively for my tutorials. And nobody seems to know a solution. My post about this problem in the Ubuntu forum continues to be in Limbo. I know I´m not the only one with this problem.

So PCLinuxOs it is. My only disappointment is that Libre Office didn´t come in the package. It had to be downloaded and installed with what they call an lomanager. But that was a minor issue with me. Otherwise, PCLinuxOs looks good and is functioning nicely.

I made a video (yes, created with RecordMyDesktop) showing the PCLinuxOS desktop. It´s right below. As always, I appreciate your feedback.

Ubuntu 11.10 a Disappointment

Ever since I began using the Linux distro, Ubuntu (and this was v. 8.04), I’ve never been disappointed with their updates. That is until now.

I updated to v. 11.10, the latest, code-named, “Oneric Ocelot.” And, boy, am I disappointed!

For one thing, the developers removed the option of two interfaces, the classic interface and what they call the “Unity” interface (view the entry, The 2 Interfaces of Ubuntu 11.04. Now it’s just the Unity interface, which lets the user click too many times to get to and fro an application. There are even applications that I have installed but need to search for before using them.

Why the developers have insisted on using this interface when users have complained about it, I’ll never know.

Secondly, and this is a major disappointment, I can no longer use RecordMyDesktop, which is the best screencast app for Linux/Ubuntu. As you have already known, I have been creating videos about using Ubuntu. This was when I had earlier versions of this OS.

With v. 11.10, however, RecordMyDesktop loads, but when I click on the record button, I get this message: “recordmydesktop has exited with status: 3328.” And RecordMyDesktop won’t record. It shuts down.

I’ve gone to the Ubuntu and other Linux forums and posted my problem, but no one seems to have a solution. Another user complained that he tried to contact the developer of RecordMyDesktop, but never received a response.

So now I’m stumped. I can no longer screen cast until some good soul tries to do something about this problem because I’m not the only one who has it.

A third albeit minor disappointment is I could no longer use Kmail, which is an email app. With the latest version of Ubuntu, I also get an error message when I try to load Kmail. I didn’t bother posting this in forums as I just placed all my email inboxes in Thunderbird. But I still had to configure Thunderbird to receive the added inboxes.

So the Ubuntu developers are about to release a new version. I’m in a wait-and-see mode. If the new version will still carry the problems I have with this current version, I’m going to look for a new Linux distro.

Any recommendations?

Oh, by the way, Linux still hasn’t come up with a speech recognition software, open source or proprietary. So I still have an old desktop with Windows XP and installed within are Camtasia and Dragon Naturally Speaking, the former a screen cast app and the latter a speech recognition app.

So I’m using them again. Ironically, the only one preventing me from discarding Windows altogether is Linux.

How to Make an Inspirational Video Using Free Software and Free Resources

People love inspirational messages or quotes! This is probably because inspirational messages motivate them and help get them through the day. In making inspirational videos, you can reach out to scores of people and inspire them.

The inspirational video we will be making will consist of inspirational quotes with inspiring background images set with music. It is simple to make with no expenses, but this is a bit of a long process. We will be utilizing Open Source Software (OSS), which means they’re free to download and use. This tutorial mentions Linux and Windows because these are operating systems I’m familiar with. Mac users may have to scout out alternative software of the ones that are featured here.

First off, here’s what you’ll need to prepare to make your inspirational video:

1. OpenOffice Impress. This is the best alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint. While PowerPoint will cost you, OpenOffice Impress won’t. It comes bundled in a productivity software suite called OpenOffice, which also includes a word processor, a spreadsheet and a graphics application. The OpenOffice suite has both Linux and Windows version. You can download the suite at http://www.openoffice.org

2. Photo images. You can get free, no copyright photo images at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/, or you can Google the phrase, public domain images. Download 10-15 images that inspire you.

3. Inspirational quotes. You can Google the phrase, inspirational quotes. They’re all over the Net. Choose the ones that move you and then copy and paste them (be sure to include the name of the author of the quotes) into a text editor.

4. Background music. You can get free music here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/. Downlaod the music you feel will fit in well with an inspirational video.

5. GTK-RecordMyDesktop. This is a screen capturing application, which unfortunately comes only for Linux. But a Windows free alternative is Camstudio, which you can download here: http://camstudio.org/. Download GTK-RecordMyDesktop here: http://recordmydesktop.sourceforge.net/downloads.php

6. Devede. This is a video converting software. GTK-RecordMyDesktop will save in .ogv format, which you need to convert to .avi, the standard format most video players and Youtube can read. Camstudio for Windows is able to save in .avi, but the software is a bit buggy. You can download Devede here: http://www.majorsilence.com/devede

7. Avidemux. This is a simple but powerful video editor needed to cut off unwanted frames from the .avi video you make. They have versions for both Linux and Windows. Download site is here: http://fixounet.free.fr/avidemux/download.html

8. Audacity, an audio editor and recorder, so you can shorten or lengthen the background music of your video. They have versions for both Linux and Windows here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

Let’s now go through the process of making an inspirational video.

1. Fire up OpenOffice Impress. Place an image on each slide and then place a quote on each image. Make the image and the quote dissolve in one after the other. Don’t use too much animation. Set the slide transistion to automatic with intervals of 10 seconds. Don’t insert your chosen music yet. We’ll get to that later,

(Unfortunately I can’t add an OpenOffice Impress tutorial with this article as well as tutorials for the other software we’ll be using, or else this article would be too long.)

2. Play the slideshow of presentation you just made. If you’re satisfied, save your work. Don’t minimize the Impress interface.

3. Open GTK-RecordMyDesktop. Click the ‘Save as’ button to name your work and choose the folder to save it in. Select the screen area you want to record. This should be most of the screen of your monitor. Click on the ‘record’ button. The GTK-RecordMyDesktop menu will disappear but will already start recording. Press F5 on your keyboard so Impress will start the slideshow. When the slideshow ends, you can stop the GTK-RecordMyDesktop recording. The file will be saved as .ogv. Later you can edit out the excess frames that GTK-RecordMyDesktop captured apart from the slideshow.

4. Open Devede and convert the .ogv file into .avi. A good tutorial on how to do this can be found in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jqYOhpv6hg

5. Open Avidemux and load the converted .avi file. Edit out the excess frames that GTK-RecordMyDesktop captured. Save your work and check out how long the file is so you can sync this with your chosen background music.

6. Open Audacity. Load your chosen background music. Cut out or loop the music according to how short or how long your video is. Export and save it with a different name so you can retain the original music.

7. Go back to Avidemux and load the edited mp3 music with your .avi video. This is done by clicking on ‘Audio’ at the menu bar. A pop-up menu will appear. Click on the drop-down menu beside ‘Audio source’ and select ‘External MP3.’ Then on the space beside ‘External file,’ browse to where the music is and then choose it. Click ‘OK.’ Save your work.

That’s it! You just made your first inspirational video. Needless to say, practice makes perfect.

Of course, you are not limited to inspirational videos. With this process, you can make tutorials, business proposals, manuals, etc. You can then burn them into CDs or DVDs and distribute them aside from uploading them to video-sharing sites.

The Best Alternative to MS Office

I’m of course talking about Open Office. The best argument there is to choose Open Office to MS Office is it’s free.

This doesn’t mean it is a bare bones suite of applications. It is quite robust. I prefer Open Office Writer, for instance, to MS Word. For one it can save documents in both Open Office Writer format (.odt) and MS Word format (.doc). This means I can pass on documents to colleagues who only have MS Word and to others who may only have Open Office. OO also has versions for Windows, Linux and Mac for an even wider reach.

OO Writer has all the functionalities that you would need to be productive whether you use it personally or in the office. It has the all-important mail merge for sending out copies of a single letter to different recipients. I made a simple video on how to do this, which you can view here.

Personally I like the “Export to PDF” function of the Writer. In easy steps you can convert a document to .pdf format. PDF is another document format that the major operating systems can read. And if you’re into creating e-books, this certainly comes in handy.

You can also create letterheads with OO Writer. I’ll create a video in the next few days that instructs how to do this.

In short, if you want functionality and productivity in writing documents but without a hefty price, Open Office is the way to go.

You can get Open Office at their site at http://openoffice.org

Small Businesses Ride the Open Source Tailwind to High Profitability

By Ashok Ramachandran

Open source software (OSS) vendors are reporting spectacular growth in a year when many businesses are offering excuses about the economic downturn. So, how does it matter to you as a SMB? A well known quote from investment guru Warren Buffett is “One of the lessons your management has learned – and, unfortunately, sometimes re-learned – is the importance of being in businesses where tailwinds prevail rather than headwinds.” As a small business, you want to take advantage of the tailwind, whenever you can, so that you sail faster towards your goals.

xTuple ERP Doubles Customer And Partner Base

Norfolk, VA based xTuple is a vendor of Business Suites, also known as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. xTuple announced a very successful 2009 despite tough market conditions. They doubled their customer base by gaining over 100 new commercial customers and doubled their partner base as well. The free OSS PostBooks edition has been downloaded over 320,000 times and they have seen a dramatic acceleration of their global user community to over 20,000 active members. This is the prospect pool from which their paid support customers will emerge.

GroundWork Increases Customer-base by 105 Percent

GroundWork Monitor Community Edition is free OSS for monitoring the data center, suitable for small medium businesses. Groundwork reports outstanding growth in 2009, increasing its customer base by 105 percent.

Sugar CRM Adds Over 2000 Customers And 50 New Partners

Sugar CRM recently announced that it enters 2010 with record momentum across revenue, community partnerships and international growth. They reported adding over 2,000 commercial customers and securing over 50 new partnerships. They also expanded their international reach during 2009, conducting transactions in over 75 countries. In addition, Openbravo, vendor of open source Business Suites (ERP) as well as Point of Sale (POS) software, announced successful growth of its global partner community, which includes over 100 partners across more than 40 countries. Also, in early 2010 they reported reaching 1.5 million downloads. JasperSoft, a vendor of open source business intelligence solutions, expect to reach 60% growth despite the down economy.

Take Advantage Of This Open Source Tailwind

It is fairly obvious that the wind is blowing in the direction of using more OSS for cost saving, have flexibility in modifying the software to the special needs of your business and in automating your operations for better customer service. Isn’t it time you leveraged this open source tailwind to reach your revenue and profitability goals too?

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About the Author:
Ashok guides small medium businesses (SMB) leverage open source software. He writes articles describing how SMBs can use free open source software to improve customer service, free up their time by automating operations and pull together data to make better decisions. He has developed the Open Source Difficulty Level OSDL Rating to help SMBs climb the open source learning curve confidently. Visit and register today.

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