Epson RX560 Scanner..

This is just a quick tutorial to show you how to get the scanner on an Epson RX560 all in one printer working. The printer itself should work by installing it from the Gnome printer utility, so this guide is only to help you get the actual scanner part working.

First step is to make sure that your printer is plugged into the USB port on your laptop.

To next step is to download, convert and install the needed drivers.

To install the scanner drivers you will need to convert an .rpm file into a .deb file or it wont install on Ubuntu, so make sure you have Alien installed (a tool to convert .rpm to .deb). Do this by opening up a terminal and entering..

sudo apt-get install alien

Keep your terminal open because you’ll be needing it again real soon πŸ™‚

Next you need to head over to the Avasys site here for the needed drivers.

Scroll down the page and click the circle next to Stylus Photo RX560/RX580/RX590 in the second section called – Image Scan! for Linux & Photo Image Print System Lite.

Keep scrolling down the page and choose Debian in the *Distribution* box and Others in the *Distribution version* box.

Scroll down again, fill in the answers for the Questionnaire and click on the next button to continue.

Once the next page has loaded up, scroll down one last time past the Printer Driver to the section called Scanner Driver and download the RPM package called iscan-2.11.0-1.c2.i386.rpm.

This will probably download to your desktop, so head back into your terminal and enter..

cd Desktop

and then..

sudo alien -d -c iscan-2.11.0-1.c2.i386.rpm

..to convert the .rpm file to a .deb one.

Leave it a while to convert. It should say iscan_2.11.0-2_i386.deb generated when finished.

Double click the newly created .deb file on your desktop to install with gdebi. Just click on the Install button when gdebi’s finished loading and close the program down when it’s done.

Now it’s time to clean up a little.

Back into your terminal and enter the following command to remove both of the unwanted packages as you won’t be needing them anymore..

sudo rm iscan_2.11.0-2_i386.deb iscan-2.11.0-1.c2.i386.rpm

That should be all you need to do software wise. Feel free to close the terminal now and navigate away from the download page in your web browser.

That’s it, just start up whichever program you want to use for scanning and the scanner should be found automatically.

Thanks to mabhatter on the Ubuntu Forum for the correct Alien command πŸ™‚

How to get involved in open source..

Everyone who has a blog or website dedicated to open source seems to write an article like this sooner or later, so here’s mine πŸ™‚

First of all a story:

Ever had an itch that you just had to scratch? My itch was more of a burning desire to help out in the big wide world of open source software. I never really wanted to start my own project from scratch; I didn’t care about making money out of open source software, I don’t feel the need to prove myself to anyone (except myself) and I don’t want fame, glory or any of the hassles that can come from creating and maintaining a successful project. My desire came from a different place altogether.

I wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on others, even if it was only in a very small way. something that I could feel good about and that could help people to improve themselves. I hoped this would have a knock on effect and the people who I helped would go on to do something even better, or in turn help others in the same way. As I wasn’t planning on making any money I also needed to do things that would help me learn new skills, or at the very least help me to improve my old ones.

I didn’t have a job so spare time wasn’t really a problem for me. Money on the other hand was very limited and I couldn’t afford to pay out for anything. My skills in most areas were sorely lacking and my life was completely devoid of any structure or routine. I didn’t want to get involved in projects that required other people to depend on me too much as I didn’t want to let anyone down. Basically I had time on my side but very little else. How on earth could I ever hope to make any type of meaningful contribution to the open source movement?

After a lot of thought and contemplation, I decided to start small by reading up on a few projects that interested me personally. I contributed ideas to try and improve these projects and got help or feedback from existing project members. Once I’d learned the basics of the projects and felt confident enough to find my own way around them, I started to answer some of the easier questions on the forums to help out the newer users in the same way that I’d been helped out myself. This of course got me into writing basic tutorials, which in turn led me into running a website/blog that would hold all of my tutorials in one easy to find location.

Anyway that’s how I got started. I might not be a huge part of what’s going on in the world of open source, but I like to think that I’ve made a difference somewhere along the line πŸ™‚

Now it’s your turn:

If your interested in getting involved with open source yourself, there’s some information that everyone needs to know..

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Lots of people in the open source world suffer from what’s known as burn out. They work hard on too many projects at once and one day get bored, tired, or find that they just can’t motivate themselves enough to contribute anymore. A nice long holiday usually sorts them out, but this wouldn’t be necessary if they hadn’t taken on so many projects at once.

It’s a lot easier to work on a project that you have a personal interest in. This makes it more fun than work and you’ll find yourself getting lots done without even realizing it. I constantly loose track of the time when writing tutorials just because I enjoy doing it so much.

If you can’t find a project that interests you personally, find one that needs help in something that you can already do but could always use more practice in. My English skills were going down hill since leaving school due to lack of use. Writing tutorials, answering posts on forums and running web sites has helped me to bring them back up to speed. I’m still pretty crap.. but a lot better than I was πŸ˜‰

Easy ways to get involved:

The following suggestions for helping out are not only easy to do but will allow you to learn a lot of new skills which can be useful for you in other ways as well.

Spreading the Word

This doesn’t mean you should run around the nearest town centre grabbing everyone you see and forcing them into listening to you or trying out software. Nobody likes being told what to do, or that the software they paid their hard earned money out for is.. well.. rubbish. There are more subtle ways to let people know about open source.

Clothing – A simple logo on a t-shirt or hat will tweak peoples curiosity every time. It doesn’t need to be a big logo, it doesn’t even need to say Ubuntu, Linux or mention anything about open source. If it catches some ones eye human nature will urge them on to find out more about it.

Email and forum signatures – Same can be said for these two as well. If every email you send or post you put up on a forum has http://www.ubuntu.com/ on the bottom of it, it’s pretty much a given that some people will open the address up in their web browser just to find out what the hell it is.

Use it in public – If you own hardware that runs open source software, letting people see you using it out in public is normally enough to make them inquire more about it. I’ve been asked tons of times about my GP2X and my Nokia N800 while out and about just minding my own business. I can guarantee that they have at least heared about open source by the time they say goodbye to me.

When all is said and done, people are always looking out for something better than what they already have (especially if it’s free). Don’t chase them, just let them come to you πŸ™‚

Voting

Ubuntu Brainstorm – This site allows you to vote on features that will improve the Ubuntu operating system. It’s a terrific way of contributing to Ubuntu and will allow you to actively help to shape the project. If you like an idea give it a thumbs up, if you don’t then give it a thumbs down. Not hard is it? πŸ˜‰

Reading

Proof Reading – Proof readers can be extremely useful to developers. It’s easy to miss simple mistakes when your writing pages and pages of instructions for software manuals or a wiki. As an added bonus you’ll learn more about the software you use in the process.

Testing – If you have a computer or hard drive spare and you know someone who writes a lot of tutorials, why not offer your services as a beta tester? all you need to do is read through the tutorials that they write and follow them. You’ll not only learn more about the software, but also pick up on some of the more commonly used Linux commands too. If you trash your computer while testing, just do a re-installation.

Writing

Writing tutorials yourself (IMHO) is one of the best ways of both helping out others and gaining more experience yourself. To write a successful tutorial you need to fully understand what it is that your writing about. This means reading as much information on the subject as you can find, comparing it, dissecting it, writing it up and then testing the hell out of it.

By writing documentation or MAN pages, you will be freeing the developers to work on writing the software or submitting patches and in doing so speeding up the actual creation of the software itself.

Translating

If you know more than one written language, why not help out with translating software? In most cases a developer will send you a simple text file. All you’ll need to do is open the file up in a text editor, change the words that you recognize from one language to another and send the new version back to them. This might not improve how the software works directly, but it will enable more people to use it and in turn bring in new volunteers to help out on the project.

Bugs

Helping to fix bugs doesn’t need to be hard work or take any specialized knowledge in computer programming.

Confirming – The easiest part of fixing bugs is to go on-line and choose a bug that someone else has already reported. Follow the same steps that they took to find the bug and confirm that you get the same results. Just because they reported it as a bug, doesn’t mean that the bug effects everyone. It might be that they had already installed some software that changed the way their system works and it’s the other software that has the bug not the one that they reported.

Graphics

Graphic artists are a highly sort after commodity in the world of open source and you don’t even have to be good at drawing to be one.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG‘s) are used in just about everything graphical these days. It doesn’t take an artist to create something useful with SVG’s, you just need to be capable of following some tutorials and you’ll be amazed what you can do with some simple shapes.

With programs like Inkscape you can create icons that don’t loose resolution or quality when resized, unique wall paper for your desktop, personal avatars for forums and messengers, comic books and even movable objects for animation or computer games. SVG is also the preferred format of graphics for mobile devices and web pages too, so you know it’s a useful skill to have.

Couple Inkscape with a program like the Gimp and you have yourself a free graphics factory that will help you to turn out your first masterpiece in no time at all.

Programming

I wouldn’t really class programming as an easy way to get involved in open source. If you find that you want to try it anyway though, learning Python is probably the best way to go. Most people will tell you this is because Python is easier to learn than some of the older languages but that’s only half of it. Scripting is probably the best reason to learn Python.

Scripts are basically just small programs with no graphical user interface. They can be run from the command line or from inside another program but they aren’t normally big enough to be considered an actual program themselves. Python was designed and created to work either by itself or in conjunction with just about any other programming language in use today, so Python scripts will work with them too.

Graphics – Most open source graphics software like Inkscape, Gimp and Blender, are capable of using Python scripts to add features that aren’t normally included with a native installation. A script will enable you to add new effects to photographs or allow you to export your creations in other formats than what are normally allowed.

Desktops – Open source desktops like Gnome and KDE can also be extended by scripting in Python. It’s even possible to enable encryption and other advanced desktop features by using scripts.

Games – It can be a good idea to use scripts for the artificial intelligence of objects. There easy to write, easy to implement and easy to replace without having to change or re-compile any code from the actual game engine itself.

Internet – Sites like Twitter or Facebook can have features added or expanded by implementing scripting. Python scripts for interfacing with databases are very popular on web servers too to extract information and compile statistics.

Software – Of course you can also build complete programs out of Python if you wish to do so πŸ˜‰

Conclusion:

There are loads of ways that a person can help out in open source these days. However you decide to help out please remember this; even if you only make a slight difference.. you have still made a difference πŸ˜€

Easier Scanning in Gnome..

XSane’s a great piece of software for scanning on Linux, but suffers from over complexity for new users & it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of your Gnome programs when it comes down to the looks department.

Gnome Scan is software that was originally developed as part of the 2006 Google Summer of Code. This is another project that I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while, just waiting for it to mature enough before recommending it to you guys. I’ve only tested the 0.4.1 version as that was the one in the Ubuntu repository (still is) and the newest version is 0.5.2. I’ll try and find a newer .deb for testing when time permits.

This version will scan fine to PNG, JPEG and TIFF formats, but the scan to PDF option doesn’t fully work yet. It’s a shame as the scan to PDF feature is one of the most useful options in this software. With having no controls for changing colours etc. it’s not as well suited to scanning photographs as XSane, but the simplicity makes it perfect for quick scanning documents for friends or work mates.

This is the main program window..

Scan

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the options for this program. The developer has taken great lengths to keep the software as simple & straight forward to use as possible. Some options are even hidden until you choose a certain option, then it allows them to be changed.

EXAMPLE: If you choose the scanning feature from within Gimp (File, Acquire, Scan …), the option to save won’t even show up in the program and you will instead be presented with the option to scan straight to a layer within Gimp itself.

Getting Started (Stand-Alone Mode):

Click on the scanner that you want to use from the list of detected hardware, choose what you want to do with the image after you’ve captured it (where to save it and what type of image format to use etc.), click on the Advanced tab to set what resolution you’d like (normally 300dpi) and click on the preview tab to select what part of the image you want to scan..

Scanning

If the preview image isn’t already present in the window then click on the Refresh button to acquire it. It would be nice if it did this automatically, but it’s not really a big deal to do it yourself. The boundary box can be used to select the region for scanning. Just left click and hold on any of the little squares and drag until all the wanted image is inside the dotted lines. Then all you need to do is press Scan..

Aquasition

The good thing about this software is that you can still choose to use XSane if you want to. Both programs will live on your system quite happily together.

To install, either open up a terminal and enter..

sudo apt-get install gnomescan

or search for gnomescan in your package manager.

Once installed, you should be able to find its shortcut in the Gnome menu under the Graphics section and it’s named Scanner Utility.

I really hope they update this to the newest version soon πŸ™‚

Loads Faster ;)

Preload monitors applications that users run, and by analyzing this data, predicts what applications users might run, and fetches those binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times.”

That was the promise anyway, but does it actually work?

To find out, open up a terminal and enter the following line..

sudo aptitude install preload

You can also install it by searching for preload within your package manager.

I haven’t bothered doing a highly scientific test on this; basically I just started counting after I had clicked on the programs shortcut and stopped once the program had fully loaded. It doesn’t really matter though as the programs start up noticeably faster.

Before Installation:

Firefox = 8 seconds
Thunderbird = 13 seconds
Gimp = 20 seconds
Writer (Open Office) = 40 seconds
Rhythmbox = 11 seconds

After Installation:

Firefox = 2 seconds
Thunderbird = 3 seconds
Gimp = 6 seconds
Writer (Open Office) = 8 seconds
Rhythmbox = 3 seconds

These can’t really be considered consistent results. The programs didn’t start up quite as fast once I performed a clean reboot, but they were still faster and easily worth the meager resources that Preloads background daemon uses. It only makes a difference to programs that you start and stop a lot.Β  I don’t use email enough to warrant keeping Thunderbird open all the time and I’m forever opening and closing the Gimp so this suits me fine.

There’s no extra configuration necessary by the way, just install and enjoy πŸ˜€

Big thanks go out to The Social Retard for this little nugget. Check out their post on Optimizing Ubuntu for more hints and tips πŸ™‚

Secret Maryo Chronicles!

I’ve been following the progress of this game for over four years, but up until now I’ve been a bit reluctant to recommend it to anyone. It was originally too much like the Mario Bros games (Nintendo could have pulled the plug on the project at any time), support for joysticks/pads and other controllers wasn’t very good and the game itself just didn’t feel playable enough. That’s all about to change though as version 1.5 is on the horizon and shaping up very nicely indeed πŸ™‚

To install it, look for smc in your package manager or type sudo apt-get install smc into the terminal.

Secret Maryo Chronicles started life as an attempt to make an open source Super Mario type game with the added bonus of a level editor so users could create their own levels and worlds. Most of the projects original graphics were basically just copies of the official Nintendo ones, as was the music and sound effects. I’m guessing it was done this way to make it easier for the developers to concentrate on coding the game engine and level editor, without having to worry too much about the more artistic side of the game. This was definitely a good move as the project is currently at its 1.4 release and the game engine and level editor both seem to be working superbly.

Old screenshots from the 0.97 release…

Old Style! Editor1

Little by little with each release the temporary graphics, music and sounds have been replaced by new user created content and the games finally getting its very own unique look and feel to it.

New screenshots from version 1.4…

New Style! Editor2

Particle effects have been added to sweeten the graphical goodness, as have multiple layers for the backgrounds, weather effects (that can be made to affect game play) and new music + sound effects licensed with either GPL or creative commons licenses.

The games engine now offers support for multiple exits from a level, hidden rooms, horizontal and vertical extended playing screens, better handling and movement of the player camera, big boss battles at the end of a level, movable or rotating platforms, different surfaces that affect how your character handles and an editable world map view that allows the player to get to the next level or re-visit one that they’ve already completed.

As well as improvements to the actual engine of the game, the developers have been busy with adding tons of new playable features too. They’ve taken the best user ideas (not only from Nintendo’s games, but from other platform games too) and are integrating them all into a well balanced game that will appeal to most people. It’s fun and colorful enough for kids to enjoy and tricky enough to keep the average adult occupied.

You’ll probably find yourself familiar with a lot of the main characters actions and power ups already (if your used to playing Nintendo’s Mario games). So far they include…

Big – Allows you to get hit once by enemies before reverting you back to normal size.
Fire – Allows you to throw fireballs and kill most enemies.
Ice – Allows you to throw iceballs which kill more enemies than the fireballs.
Invincible – Grab a star and become unbeatable for a short amount of time.
1up – Adds an extra life to your character.
Ghost – Allows you to walk past enemies without them seeing or chasing you. It also shows up blocks and shortcuts that are usually hidden from sight.

Smash blocks for power ups.
Pick up and throw shells.
Climb up and down vines and ladders.
Collect 100 coins to receive an extra life.

This is by no means a complete list of the games features, but it should give you a general idea of what the game engine is capable of and how much time and effort has already gone into making it (5 years so far).

One of the best things about this project is that it’s completely open source. Anyone with an idea to improve the game can create a new post on the forum and help the developers implement it. It’s very gratifying to contribute to a project such as this and pretty amazing to see how it evolves with every new update.

Nice work to the developers and everyone that’s contributed so far in the creation of Secret Maryo Chronicles and all the best for your projects future πŸ˜€

p.s This game will work on any VGN-FS model laptop as it doesn’t require a very powerful processor, tons of free RAM, or use any 3D graphics.

SecretΒ Maryo

New categories added..

With the impending release of the next long term support version of Ubuntu looming just around the corner, I’ve started to worry that people might get mixed up with what version of Ubuntu the articles on the site were made for and have been tested with.

Rather than me having to write the release version on all my tutorials etc., I thought I might be better off adding some new categories to the site then editing all the past articles to include the new links. This should make it a lot easier for people trying to find articles and tutorials for the version of Ubuntu that they’re running.

This will be even more important after the release of Hardy Heron, as the underlying technologies of GNU/Linux are starting to change dramatically and even minor tutorials will eventually become incorrect and obsolete.

I’ve currently added two new categories to the site..

Dapper Drake +

and

Hardy Heron +

All the Articles that have been posted up until now, will just be put in the Dapper Drake + category. The tutorials should still work for all the Ubuntu releases up to Hardy anyway, so I don’t really see the point in dividing them all up.

Any Articles written after the day this post is put online, will be split up into release sub categories within Hardy Heron +, such as..

Hardy Heron +

….Hardy Heron +1 – The version released after Hardy

….Hardy Heron +2 – The version after that

….Hardy Heron +3 – Etc.

I’ll add the categories for the later releases when I find out the names that they’ll be using. All posts for the later releases will also show up in the Hardy Heron + page.

If anyone has any useful idea’s for the site such as this one, please feel free to run it by me. All suggestions are welcome and credit will be given πŸ™‚