Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

The League Of Moveable Type – Open Source Fonts For You

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Several weeks ago, someone at the ChurchCreate blog sent out a link to free and good commercial use fonts.  One of the main sites they referenced was The League of Moveable Type where you can download several high quality and completely open source fonts.  Very cool!

Post back here and let me know if you use them in a project…

Using HDDSLR Footage With Kdenlive

Monday, November 15th, 2010

The Kdenlive team recently posted with tips on using your HDDSLR footage with Kdenlive.  I know a lot of the church community is using DSLRs in their video workflow because of the high quality and low price point compared to anything else.  Kdenlive is a very capable (but still maturing) non-linear video editor that compares to FinalCut Pro, Vegas, Premiere, etc.  Hope this helps!

Make Gimp To Be More Like Photoshop

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the biggest hurdles that open source software has is just the fact that it isn’t the well-known commercial software.  There will always be things that each software does better or worse or just different and in these conversations the incumbent (i.e. the commercial software that everyone already uses) is always right no matter what is good, bad, or ugly.  The Gimp vs Photoshop comparison is no different.

So, as much as possible, I try to find ways that make moving to the open source alternative as comfortable as possible.  So, if you are a Photoshop user thinking about trying out Gimp, I just ran across this article about several things you can do to make the transition a little easier.  I hope it’s helpful.

Making Ubuntu Look Like Windows

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

For those trying out Ubuntu, but finding it a little too different, here’s how to make Ubuntu at least look and feel more like Windows 7.

Adding non-open source software to Linux

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Despite the fact that I encourage an “all open source, all the time” mindset, there are still times when I just can’t get by without adding some proprietary software into the mix.  I also know that I used proprietary software much more in the transition period before I moved into more and more open source software.  So rather than drive the hard line, I want to make it easy for new open source users to start moving closer to an all open source model.  One of the best ways to get further into open source is to use Linux as an operating system.  There’s so much more open source software available and the installation and configuration mechanisms are much better on Linux than other operating systems.  However, making the move from Windows or OSX can be a scary transition because many of the tools you currently use are no longer available.  So when I saw this article from ITWorld about how to use proprietary software on their Linux PCs, I had to pass it along.  Check out the article and comment if you have further questions.

ps.  I’ve never gone totally “free” by running completely free (as in freedom) software only.  I have been an Ubuntu user for several years now and a Fedora user before that.   I also just tried out Linux Mint recently, and it seems to be really nice especially for less techy users (or really even more techy users that don’t want to mess around with it like me) that need easier access to do normal things like playing DVDs, MP3s and Flash.  The tools you need to support almost all of your requests are just a few clicks away.

pss.  I also suggest NOT running a “dual boot” system.  If you really need to run your old operating system, install Linux, install VirtualBox (as recommended in the article) and then install your old OS into VirtualBox.  Then you can run both Linux and Windows/OSX at the same time without rebooting.  I do this almost every day at work and it’s a pretty seamless way to keep your feet in both worlds.

Phatch – Simple Image Editing and Batch Processor

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

So, I’m still going through all of the Libre Graphics Meeting videos and today I watched a short tutorial on Phatch, a batch image processor.  Basically, it’s a graphical ease of use layer on top of many command line tools such as ImageMagick or the scripting languages of other open source graphics applications such as Gimp, Inkscape or Blender.  It’s also a batch processor making it a snap to edit many files all at once.

It serves as an image “recipe box” rather than an editor.  Therefore it allows you to save how you edit one image so that later you can come back to that recipe and rerun the edits simply, whether after a lunch break or a year later for another project.  It also shows the power of mashing open source applications together to get huge productivity gains with a minimum of effort.

Phatch makes it easy to do effects you see all across the web such as reflections, rounded corners and perspective changes.  It also allows you to mix and match them in any order.  This has got to be a huge time saver for website image content managers.  I’m sure I’ll be using it in the future as I start to develop the look and feel of this blog.

It’s probably also helpful for those of you that aren’t very tech savvy.  Phatch can function as a quick way to do more complex effects without having to figure out all of the intricacies of a more powerful image editor like Gimp or Photoshop.

Since it was already in the Ubuntu software repositories (the repositories are basically an “app store” for open source software where everything is free), I had it installed in seconds.  I tried it out and it worked just like the video showed.  Looks like Windows and OSX are supported, but still don’t have a standard installer.  Help them out if you get a chance to get the installers tested out so that it is easier to use for your non-techy friends!  Here’s a great opportunity to contribute.

Really the only downside I saw was that their website was obnoxiously littered with Google ads which made it hard to figure out what was content and what wasn’t.

Hope it comes in handy!  Let me know how it goes!

Getting Free Templates For OpenOffice Presentations

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Today, there was another quick and useful tip on Solvieg’s OpenOffice training tips blog.  This time a tip about finding free templates (even Microsoft Office templates) for OpenOffice Impress presentations.  She walks you through not only finding, but also installing the template so it’s described well and easily accessible when you create a new project.  Hope it helps you out!

Finding Books to Get Started In Open Source

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Getting started into any new software can be a daunting experience whether open source or not.  For open source projects, you want to find mature projects that generally “just work” and shouldn’t give you many problems.  How do you know if an open source project is mature?

One of the quickest ways is to see if any books have been published for the project.  If a book has been written, that generally means that the product has a large user base that the publisher can sell into.  More users means more bugs found and fixed and therefore more stability.  It also means more feature requests and more developers to work on the requests which means a more robust and useful product.  Usually by the time there is a book out, an open source project has good documentation.  However, many times documentation can be too dry and technical for the average user.  Books are meant to be more readable and useful for those not willing to wade through the specifics of every feature.  Many times books are organized around concepts and projects rather than grouped by feature like documentation usually is which makes them more useful to average users as well.

Even better, because open source projects are invested in open source culture, sometimes the books are released under liberal Creative Commons licenses in digital form so that you can download and easily check out the book to see if it fits you before you invest in buying it if you choose to.  Again, open source culture isn’t just about software; it includes many things like books.  Here is an example of just such a book about Getting Started in Open Office.

Most books are available from Amazon or other online book sellers where you can buy them used or new.  So, as my mom says, let your fingers do the walking and see what’s available for a project you’re interested in.  If you don’t find a book, that doesn’t mean the project isn’t mature and useful (we’ll keep looking at more ways to decide maturity in future posts).  On the other hand, if you do find books available, then chances are really good that the project is mature enough for almost anyone to use.  Here’s a few links to books for several of the most used open source projects.

Open Office – an office suite similar to Micro$oft Office

Inkscape – a vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator

Gimp – a raster graphics editor similar to Adobe Photoshop

Scribus – a desktop publishing application similar to Adobe InDesign

Firefox – the best web browser (at least for now) 😉

Ubuntu – a user friendly and robust operating system similar to Mac OSX or Microsoft Windows

Various Open Source Media Software – covers installing Ubuntu, audio recording and editing, animation, video editing, font creation, graphic design tools, and much more

If you have other recommendations for good books for learning an open source software package, please post them in the comments.

OpenOffice Galleries and Open Clip Art

Monday, June 7th, 2010

I thought this tutorial on adding clip art to OpenOffice galleries was very helpful on a feature  that I know my wife and I have used regularly and had to figure out on our own by the road of hard knocks.  Solveig spoke at our open source user group a year or so ago and was a great resource for advanced uses.  She obviously had a lot of professional real world experience not only with OpenOffice, but also it’s proprietary counterpart to be able to compare and contrast them.  If you use OpenOffice, you might want to follow her blog as she has lots of great tips and tutorials.

You can also check out the Open Clip Art Library for more free and open source clip art.  Feel free to help by contributing your own art as well.  If you have Ubuntu, it’s available as a package from the repositories for easy install.

Libre Graphics Meeting 2010

Monday, June 7th, 2010

If you’re into media and interested to see what’s going on in the open source world, you might want to check out all of the presentations from this year’s Libre Graphics Meeting.  From Gimp to Google’s Font Initiative to running an art school on all open source software, check out all the exciting things going on in the rapidly changing open source graphics and media world.