Monthly Archives: September 2014

Graphics Tools: Fotowall

I love building desktop wallpapers and collages for different projects. A fancy desktop of family photos, or even a quick and easy Christmas or birthday card for someone special.

While I usually use Gimp for this purpose, there is a great piece of software that you should try. It’s called Fotowall, and is available in your Software Manager.

Fotowall Collage Builder

Fotowall Collage Builder

After a quick setup, you can import any number of photos, and then resize them, rotate them and lots of other cool stuff! Add some text, which you can conform to any line or arc.

Fotowall Collage Builder

Fotowall Collage Builder

Once you are happy with your creation, you can export it several different file formats, ready for your desktop background or  other purpose.

Finished Collage

Finished Collage

My only gripe with this software, is the lack of an undo function. CTL-Z is a wonderful tool when you are putting together images!


Linux Tools: FSArchiver

If you have been following along at all, you may have figured out that I’m nuts about making backups of not only files, but entire partitions on my many hard drives here on the farm.

Today I want to tell you about a simple Terminal program that can create a complete image of any partition(s) and save them any place you’d like. The program is called FSArchiver

Head over to your Software Manager and do a search for FSArchiver, then once installed, you  can open a root Terminal window and start backing up!

fsarchiver backup tool

fsarchiver backup tool

I recommend you start your journey with this program by heading over to the official web site for FSArchiver. They have a great quick start page that will have you up and running in just a few minutes. You can find their site HERE

To speed things up, the first thing you’ll want to do is get the listing of all the available volumes on your computer. Open a root Terminal and type the following command:  fsarchiver probe simple

In my case, here’s the reported volumes on this particular computer:

FSArchiver volume listing

FSArchiver volume listing

Now that I can see my available volumes, I determine that I want to archive the sda2 partition, which is where my Windows 2000 partition is (don’t laugh!)

Again, from my root Terminal, I now type: fsarchiver savefs win2000.fsa /dev/sda2 and the archiving will start. Note that there will be no indication in the Terminal window that anything is happening, but give it time, eventually it will finish, and report the success or failure of the archiving. Note that at this time, NTFS file system archiving is experimental, but it worked great for my small NTFS partition.

What I really like about this software, is that you can do the backup on a running system, unlike some tools where you have to boot to a separate disk to do the backup, like CloneZilla.




Linux Games: Out Of Order

I’m not a big gamer, but I stumbled upon a cute little game in the Synaptic Package Manager that is too cute to not share. It’s called Out of Order

It’s a dated game, and the listed web site seems to be taken over by a cybersquatter, but from the program description:

Ever woken up in the middle of the night to find you’ve been kidnapped… and so’s your bedroom? Ever had to fend for yourself in the face of strangely hypnotic music, alien doctors, talking computers a-plenty and half-finished bathrooms? Ever found something unpleasant in a burger?

If so, Out Of Order should play like any other day in your life.

Otherwise, it’s an experience not to be missed.

Out of Order

Out of Order

The low resolution graphics offer a bit of nostalgia, taking me back to the old Space Quest and Commander Keen days!

Control is through your mouse. Right clicking selects an action, and left clicking executes the action. Simple as that! The sound effects and music are cute, so turn up the volume and enjoy!




Tools: Zenmap Network Scanner

There is a great terminal software package called nmap that you can launch to get a readout of open ports etc. on a target machine on your local or Internet.

With the addition of the GUI (graphical user interface)  Zenmap, this tool is even easier to use!

Head to your Software Manager and search for Zenmap. This is the GUI, but will also install the dependency  nmap as well.

Zenmap GUI for the nmap network scanner.

Zenmap GUI for the nmap network scanner.

Running it on your localhost can show you open ports you might not be aware of, or show you how well your firewall software is running. (You do run a firewall right?)

Running against my Android phone, I was quite happy to find no open ports, and the phone rejected attempts to get any useful data from it.

You can check your entire network at once, by typing your local network in the Target box like this: Target: 192.168.1.* (or however your network is set up. In my case, Target: 10.1.0.* ) The * variable is an easy way to force a check of everything the scanner can find. While *.*.*.* will indeed work, we don’t recommend it!

One of my favorite features is the ability for Zenmap to map out your entire network, as shown in the example below:

Zenmap GUI for the nmap network scanner.

Zenmap GUI for the nmap network scanner. Network Map

Zenmap can  help you find those open ports in networked computers that you might want to shut down,  or even find machines on your network you didn’t even know were there!




Tools: Psensor Hardware Monitor

If you are not keen on installing and configuring  Conky to your desktop, there is another wonderful tool to keep tabs on the health of your computer. It’s called Psensor

Head to your Software Manager and do a search for psensor. After you get it installed, launch it from your Menu, and do a very quick configuration of what sensors you want to show, and what colors you want them to display and off you go!

Psensor hardware monitor

Psensor hardware monitor

Psensor will monitor all the temperature probes in your machine, as well as fan speeds. It’s nice to keep an eye on your processor temperature when under heavy load.

You can also log everything to a file for future viewing, and my favorite part, by installing the psensor-server, you can monitor your remote servers health just as easy.