knetworkmanager: the solution to WiFi-WLan-WEP-WPA1|2 nightmares

July 29th, 2007 edited by Tincho

Article submitted by Ingo Wagener. We have run out of good articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!

I used to roam around cafés, schools, hotels, etc, logging myself into this network, that network, any network using the command line. Open networks are a breeze, WEP was not too bad but WPA on the command line took a bit of fiddling first time round. I then moved onto scripts depend…

OK, you are bored and couldn’t be asked to read any further —or was it that I was bored and installed knetworkmanager instead?

Now I cruise into a café, open up my notebook and thank whatshisname that I can just click on the little knetworkmanager icon in the system tray to list all available networks. I select the one I am after and its wizard asks me for authorization if it is necessary or just logs me in. Doesn’t matter whether it is WEP, WPA1 or even WPA2! Well, I felt pretty cool :) Of course you can choose to have the codes saved —encrypted, naturally.

Now you might have other programs installed, kwifimanager, the new kwlan or Wireless Assistant to name but a few. Most of them do the job well enough, but none of them have the same click and run capability. kwifimanager for example still does not have WPA compatibility, kwlan’s interface is not nearly as neat and Wireless Assistant (the highest ranking on KDE apps, by the way) asks for some informed decisions and has, similar to kwlan, a number of interfaces you have to work your way through.

If you want to cruise networks the easiest possible way, there is no way round knetwormanager.

Even though it is a KDE programme (and me a KDE addict) it works just as well on Gnome and is available under the standard repositories, regardless whether you are running Debian or (K)Ubuntu.

To date I have yet to come across another network manager as complete and pain free, although the Gnome lot are working on it. If it is half as good as knetworkmanager one should applaud them!

The opensuse project has some nice screenshots of Knetworkmanager running in KDE, Gnome and FVWM.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 10 Comments »

revelation: the gnome password manager

July 25th, 2007 edited by ana

Article submitted by Diego Martínez Castañeda. We have run out of good articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!

Revelation is a powerful tool which lets you manage and store sensitive information, such as passwords or credit cards numbers, in a password protected file, so you only have to remember one password to access all.

Some of its features are:

  • Password protected file. All your data will be as secure as your master password is.
  • Simplicity: Revelation is easy to use.
  • GNOME. It’s completely integrated with GNOME, and it uses GTK.
  • Search tool. The Search button is very useful when you’re browsing into hundred of keys.

First steps

As you start Revelation, the main window is divided into two vertical panels. The left panel contains a tree hierarchy in which you can create folders or entries, and right panel displays information about entries.


Initially, revelation creates an empty file for you, ready to be populated. You can easily add new entries with your data using the Add Entry button. Depending on the data type you’ve selected, information fields may be different.


Adding information

There are several basic types of data you can store, such as email, ftp or database. Every type has its own configuration and its own fields because Shell requires a hostname and Creditcard don’t.


In this example, I’m going to add my Debian Package of the Day account under my Home folder (see the images below). Be careful when you write down your password because, by default, Revelation will show it while you’re writing.


After you have added your important information, you save it into a password protected file by pressing Save button (or Ctrl+S). Revelation will ask you for this password and, importantly, this will be the only password you’ll need to access the file. Of course, if you don’t remember it, you’ll lose all data stored in the file.


Showing information

One you have populated your Revelation file, you can see your email password by selecting the corresponding entry on the left panel. The information will be shown on the right.


You can also try the Revelation Account Search GNOME panel applet. It is the best and fastest option for accessing your passwords when you’re using lots of entries in a single file.



There are other alternatives in Debian which you can use to manage your passwords, for example, KWallet Manager (integrated with KDE), gpass, pwsafe. I have chosen Revelation because I need to manage lots of passwords, stored in different files and I do not want to use a command line program. Plus, I need folder organization and different entry types to define exactly what type of data I’m referring to. Finally, search option and GNOME applet are very important in case of forgotten password..

The package has been available in Debian since sarge and in Ubuntu since Edgy.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 12 Comments »

ingimp: improving the usability of the GIMP by collecting and analyzing usage data

July 22nd, 2007 edited by ana

Article submitted by Francois Marier. We are running out of articles ! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like !

ingimp is an instrumented version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program that collects real-time usability data, such as the commands used, the size of images worked on, and so on. This usability data is automatically transmitted to ingimp for anyone to download and analyze.

It is meant to be a snap-in replacement for the GIMP, so it can be used for normal, everyday image manipulation tasks. By using it, the user and developer communities can gain new insights into how the GIMP is actually used “in the wild.” This information, in turn, has the potential to feed into future design and development efforts. Thus, you have the chance of contributing to open usability efforts simply by using ingimp as you would the regular version of the GIMP.

ingimp is part of human-computer interaction (HCI) research at the University of Waterloo investigating new forms of sustainable open usability.

Pretty Pictures

Numerical summarizations of overall ingimp usage are provided, along with personalized mirrors of your own personal, usage. Each ingimp user has an online persona that grows to reflect how they use ingimp. For example, if you are an artist who makes heavy use of the pencil tool, your persona will be seen clutching a pencil. Just use ingimp as you would the normal version of the GIMP and use the “Website + Stats” button at start-up to view your own persona along with a summary of your own usage of ingimp.

Group shot
Snapshot of all current ingimp users.


ingimp has been designed to collect data useful to usability analyses, without intentionally collecting any personal information. For example, ingimp does not record the actual keys pressed, just when they are pressed, along with any modifier keys used (i.e., Shift, Alt, and Control). Furthermore, ingimp does not record command parameters (for example, it doesn’t record the text you enter into the text tool) nor does it transmit the actual images on which you work.

Disabling logging
It is possible to disable logging at the start of the program.

ingimp is in Debian unstable and backported packages are available for Debian Etch and Ubuntu Feisty.

More Information

You can find out more about ingimp by visiting its homepage.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 5 Comments »

screen-message: use your screen to communicate

July 18th, 2007 edited by Tincho

Article submitted by Joachim Breitner (with a special contribution of the editors ;) ). We are running out of articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!

Have you ever used a text processor write just to display some text full-screen and found it too tedious? Were you sitting in some audience and tried to make a comment to those behind your? Needed to take mugshots?

Then you might want to install sm, short for screen-message. Once you start sm, you can type your text and it will be displayed as large as possible. The text can also be specified on the command line, when starting sm or piped from another program. For real convenient and fast usage, it is recommended to bind a key combination to starting sm.


Alternatives are any web browser and word processors with a full screen mode.

The package is available in Debian unstable and it’ll be soon in testing and merged in Ubuntu.

Finally, with the goal of enlighten our readers of how cool screen-message is and do some aggressive marketing:

We need your article!
Ana Guerrero and Martín Ferrari (aka Tincho), debaday editors.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 11 Comments »

Hugin: create amazing panoramas from your photos

July 15th, 2007 edited by Tincho

Having been to DebConf7, I took advantage to visit a few beautiful places around the venue. Some of them are very hard to photograph with a common camera, specially when you’re trying to capture the full landscape from a hill or the complete sensation from a room in a castle —with all the walls covered with paintings and complicated ornaments—. So you have to resort to taking many pictures, but that’s not like the real thing.

Coincidentally, some time ago I’ve been researching some image processing topics, and found some amazing algorithms for automatic blending of multiple pictures to create mosaics of them. But I’d yet to see some ready to use implementation. Then, somebody from the table at the hacklab in DebConf7 enlightened me: hugin was the solution!

I have to admit it: the first attempts were really frustrating. A good time lost trying to adjust the images and the result was a nonsensical patchwork of images. So, take this in mind, and do what I didn’t: read the fine manual (and the tutorials). The manual is not very useful, but there are plenty of tutorials in the website.

So, the process is more or less like this: load the images, indicate where they overlap (setting control points), optimise, preview, adjust the control points, repeat until done. Setting the control points is what will determine how the images blend; but the most critical task is remember to run the optimiser before previewing or you won’t see your changes correctly! Here you can find a small tutorial that summarises the basic operation.

File list Control point setting Preview
File list and basic controls Setting the control points Preview of the final image

There are some optional tools that you’d like to have installed along with hugin:

A tool that automates the most tedious part of creating a panorama: setting the control points. Note: you will have to change the default executable name in the hugin preferences to “autopanog”, as the default is wrong. Sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes it need to be helped by manually adding control points or horizontal/vertical lines, some other times is of no use at all. Your mileage may vary.
Since autopano-sift runs in the mono environment, you would need this to execute it as a normal binary.
Replacement for the tool provided with hugin for blending images, with much better results.

A big problem I had was that hugin asked me some “crop factor” which is proportional to the size of the camera sensor, but nowhere is documented what that means. So, if you bump into this, you need to get the diagonal size of the camera CCD in mm and calculate 43.3 / diagonal. To get information about that, in this page you have a nice explanation about CCD’s sensors sizes. In the same site, you will find information for most digital cameras. If you don’t put correctly this value, most probably you won’t get any good result.

I’ll recommend you to also read this article, which explains how to use autopano-sift and the replacement blending tool, and gives some very good tips. Experiment and you will be amazed of the results!

To put an end to all this chatter, here is an example of a 360° panorama I’ve created from 23 pictures taken from the top of the Arthur’s Seat hill in Edinburgh. The control points were created with autopano-sift, and later added manually some horizontal lines to put the horizon into place, and some vertical lines in the monolith. The final blending was done with enblend, and the finishing touch is to crop it and convert to JPEG with gimp and copy the EXIF headers with jhead.
Arthur's Seat Hill panorama

Hugin is available in Debian since Etch, and in Ubuntu since Edgy

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 18 Comments »

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