Community Blogs

How to download RSS feeds with a simple script

After a bit of studying and testing, I have found a  very simple way to download RSS feeds from the command line. It works very well, except (in some cases) with encoding. The whole script with explanations is here. Thank you in advance for any help with the encoding problem!


Major gaps of Open Office Impress versus Microsoft Power Point: what do you think?

Yesterday Sergio, a user of OpenOffice Impress, sent to the discussion list his list of the “Major Gaps of OpenOffice Impress 3.3 vs. Microsoft Office PowerPoint” because “after struggling for over 1 year, sadly he had to stop using Open Office Impress and go back to Microsoft Power Point”. After speaking with Sergio, I reformatted and put online his list of complaints to gather more feedback. Please have a look at it. I am particularly curious to know if with LibreOffice it would be different.


Seven photo-archiving tips and the Linux tools to help you

I recently posted my favourite seven rules to manage digital photographs under Linux. What are yours?




Video: How to install applications in Fedora 15

The new GUI for Fedora (Gnome 3) can be at times a bit confusing for new users, specially if they are used to other operating systems. During the last couple of weeks i have seen a raise of people asking on the IRC challnel #fedora-latam regarding how to install *.exe files or how to install programs in general.

The main advantage of using applications from an official Fedora repository is that all programs that are placed there have a 'digital signature' that validates and warranties the authenticity of this program. This means that the program or application that you install from the repositories is 100% compatible with Fedora and that it has passed a quality control and test period. So if you are coming from windows, you don't have to worry about cracks, or having to click on ten thousand websites before beginning the download. It is that simple.


Here is a short video of how to install applications on Fedora using the user interfaces:




Source (spanish): ¿Como instalar programas en Fedora 15?

Video URL:


Install stock VMWare Player on Gentoo without portage


If you've followed my previous virtualization articles you've already seen a lot of material related to VMWare and Gentoo as well.

I use Gentoo as my primary desktop distribution and I often use it on servers as well, one of the biggest problems on Gentoo portage is VMWare support for the player, if you're using an AMD64 release (Gentoo on x86 with 64bit support) you're stick with v2.x but recent 3.x version has introduced a lot of cool things (VM machine creation and better HW support), if you want to install it you're on your own.

It's not a complex installation but on Gentoo there're few tips to remember for a clean installation/uninstallation. Here's what I've did on my own:


Download and Install

First of all just download the package you're looking for from VMWare download area, you need to be registered to get something from them but it's not a problem, at the time of this writing version 3.1.4 it's the latest one but I don't think this procedure would not change later on


Now follow few HTML pages (vmware player link, registration area and then you'll be redirected to the download area) and you'll see something like this:



You need to download proper binary file according to your architecture (32bit or 64bit), I've downloaded for example “Vmware-Player-3.1.4-385536.x86_64.bundle” in my /tmp directory


now add executable bit to it:

chmod +x VMware-Player-3.1.4-385536.x86_64.bundle

So you'll get something like this:

# ls -la Vmware-Player-3.1.4-385536.x86_64.bundle
-rwxr-xr-x 1 andrea software 103561067 May 18 19:51 Vmware-Player-3.1.4-385536.x86_64.bundle

now just execute the bundle file (as ROOT)



Select NO if you don't want to check for products updates (like me)


and select NO if you don't want to send anonymous data to them (like me)

These choices are up to you, but they're not important for this installation.


Then click INSTALL to install this program, this is a fairly clean installation as in a Windows environment, wait for a while until the installer program will stop with a pop-up like this one:


Don't worry about that, installer is complaining about a missing vmware service file, maybe because it thinks to be running in a mainstream distribution like Fedora Core or Ubuntu, simply ignore the warning and continue with your own installation. At the end of the process you'll see a screenshot like this one



Now Some tweaking

Installer ended its job, now it's time to tweak few things in your system to get everything working

First of all: we need to create a service file and put it under /etc/init.d, I've grabbed a good skeleton from /usr/portage/app-emulation/vmware-player/files/vmware-3.0.rc but I've adapted it to be fully compliant with the VMWare .bundle file, particularly I've payed attention to the uninstallation process. Don't copy vmware-3.0.rc, take mine because it works:

# Author: Andrea Benini (2011-05-18)
# Distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License v2
# Original script taken from /usr/portage/app-emulation/vmware-player/files/vmware-3.0.rc
# Slightly modified so I can use it with stock VMWare Player Bundle file from their download area
# This scripts fixes troubles for services installed from scratch as well as vmware manual uninstallation
# script.
# Report me problems if they occours (andrea benini GMAIL com. No dots, between name and surname, add @ where needed)

depend() {
need localmount
use net }

start() {
ebegin Starting VMware USB Arbitrator
#start-stop-daemon --start --exec /usr/bin/vmware-usbarbitrator
/usr/bin/vmware-usbarbitrator eend $?
ebegin Starting VMware services
modprobe -a vmmon vmci vsock vmblock vmnet eend $?
/usr/bin/vmware-networks --start
eend $?

stop() {
ebegin Stopping VMware USB Arbitrator
start-stop-daemon --stop --exec /usr/bin/vmware-usbarbitrator
eend $?
/usr/bin/vmware-networks --stop eend $?
ebegin Stopping VMware services
modprobe -r vsock vmci vmmon vmblock vmnet
eend $?

stoppable() {


Tweaking considerations

I've just added few things if you compare mine with the original one: usbarbitrator is needed from version v3.x and above (according to vmware docs) and it needs to be run as a service. I've also added the stoppable status because if you'd like to have a clean uninstallation you'll run into troubles without it, I've fixed it to avoid troubles and have a nicely installed package (with a nice uninstallation as well...)

Now copy my own vmware service file reported above and name it /etc/init.d/vmware, and place executable bit on it

# chmod +x /etc/init.d/vmware


Now if you run it you'll see something like this:

# /etc/init.d/vmware
Usage: vmware [ flags ] < options >

Normal Options:
start stop restart pause zap
Default init.d options.

Additional Options:
Extra options supported by this init.d script.

Suppress output to stdout, except if:
1) It is a warning, then output to stdout
2) It is an error, then output to stderr
--verbose Output extra information
--debug Output debug information
--nocolor Suppress the use of colors

Configuration files:
/etc/conf.d/vmware /etc/rc.conf

For more info, please run '/etc/init.d/vmware help'.




Did you noticed the “Additional Options: stoppable” area above ? It needs to be there if you'd like to have a clean uninstall, if you don't have it (like original Gentoo script file) or if you don't understand what I'm writing just drop me a note for it


Final steps

We've done a lot of the job, now it's time to link vmware modules to your own running kernel, you need to have linux kernel source code and headers (emerge sys-kernel/linux-headers sys-kernel/gentoo-sources) installed in your system. Well if you're an average Gentoo user you'll probably have them already installed (if you follow the installation handbook and you compile the kernel by yourself you already have them where needed). By the way just check if you've them in your system:

emerge --search sys-kernel/linux-headers
emerge --search sys-kernel/gentoo-sources

Now it's time to link vmware modules to the kernel, always as root user just run:

# vmplayer

You need to wait for a while until modules and sources won't finish their compilation process, at the end you'll see this nice window:



And that's it, you're set and you don't need anything else, just add vmplayer command to your favorite menu in your Window Manager (Gnome, KDE, Fluxbox, ...)

if you can see this VMWare main window you've successfully installed everything fine, if you cannot see it you're stuck somewhere else, just drop me a note if you need some help



Final considerations

  • This procedure is tailored on Gentoo but it could be easily ported to other distros as well: Slackware, Arch, LFS and so on

  • Use my /etc/init.d/vmware service file, this works and it's fully compatible with Gentoo and VMWare as well, I've payed a special attention to the installation/uninstallation process. A lot of people are complaining about troubles when uninstallation process is run, it seems VMWare player uninstaller is looking for a particular feature to stop running services, that's why I've added “stoppable” status

  • To manually uninstall the VMWare Player just issue this command: vmware-installer --uninstall-product=vmware-player, always inside an XWindow command shell, a graphical installer starts and their procedure is really easy

  • You may start/stop virtual ethernet cards with the /etc/init.d/vmware file (/etc/init.d/vmware start|stop|restart|status|...), you don't need to fire up this service when your machine boots, when you run vmplayer networks interfaces are automatically started for you

  • If you're using a different distribution please pay attention to the lack of support when you're using a distro that is not RPM or DEB based, you just need to place a service file for starting up virtual network services (in /etc/rc.d or /etc/init.d or something like that), also add the status “stoppable” to your service file so you may have a nice clean uninstall if needed

I guess I've covered everything, please let me know if you need further information


Andrea (Ben) Benini



gtkPyglot - the help tool for software translators

A new version of my gtkPyglot - the translators helper tool is now released, featuring Offline mode, and a nice configuration dialog. For the offline mode there is a 349MB big sqlite3 database with the 55 supported languages ready to use with state of 04.03.2011 of the translations in the gnome project.


- Offline mode - the translations are read from the sqlite3 database (see Notes for info)

- Online mode - getting translations results from and

- Preferences dialog - You know what this is

- Simple and intuitive intreface


To use gtkPyglot in offline mode, you will have to download the prepared database from the following URL. From the preferences dialog point to the database file and you are set up to work with it. The langs.db file is a really big one ~ 349MB and supports only the 55 languages from pylyglot. 

Get it

For Debian/Ubuntu users there is a prepared .deb file:


For other distributions, just use the Mercurial repository:

hg clone



The Slacker Dreads MS Windows Service Packs

Back in the dark ages of my computering life. I used an operating system known as Microsoft Windows®. I still occasionally play around in Windows these days.

I have (had, the drive failed on me recently) an XP Pro installation on my desktop system for playing games only. It’s crippled… no networking installed at all. I also have an installation of Win 7 on my laptop. It’s just for fun and education. I’m the family computer nerd, so everyone comes to me for help. They don’t run Linux… yet. MUAHAHAHA! Anyway, I have to stay comfortable with how MS products work so I can still be helpful to the unfortunate souls still using that OS.

As some of you who know me may remember, the camel that broke the straw’s back for me with MS Windows was the fact that I had numerous catastrophic system failures due to corrupted installations of various Service Packs on XP back in ‘06. The last one may have actually been a faulty Seagate hard drive, to be fair to MS. However, the last one was the last one for me. I went to Linux full time within a few days of that event.

Now, here comes a new Service Pack (#1) for my Win 7 installation. UH-OH! I’m very gun shy about Service Packs, folks. This time, though, the OS is not my primary computer tool, so what’s the worry. If it boogers up, I can just reinstall. No great loss… just more minutes of my life sucked out of existence by Microsoft. Anyway, I decided to go for it yesterday. The install was fast and painless. And best of all… the system rebooted into a working Win 7 OS. Cool, huh?

Kudos to MS. They may have finally gotten something right with this new Win 7. So, just what was Vista? XP’s Millennium Edition? Oh, wait… Vista was the beta, of course. I wonder how many folks actually paid $300 to beta test for MS on that one. All that testing paid off. Thanks beta folks! :)

OK, I’m outta’ here…


NOTE: All derogatory comments regarding Microsoft and the Windows® operating system are absolutely true… er, I mean are absolutely in jest. jk, as Generation Text likes to say. Can you imagine what Evolution is going to make their childrens’ childrens’ childrens’ thumbs look like? Heh!

*The above is reprinted with permission from me from my Nocturnal Slacker blog at




To Tile or Not to Tile

I'm a generally average Linux user. I'm not a coder/designer, nor do I run any huge servers. I'm an IT major in college, and surely know my way around computers, but I'm not anything particularly special. The way I've always experienced Linux was with a classic Desktop Environment (DE), where basically everything I need is included. I used mostly GUI applications, and used command line sparingly.

 As I've become more and more comfortable with Linux, I've learned of the power the command line holds, and I've learned that the thing I love most about Linux is making it my own. I can make it look, act, and feel however I want. I can have a bloated system with all the fancy UI effects that has everything any user could need, or I can customize it to the point that others barely know how to use my computer, let alone do any harm.

As of late, my old habits changed, and I'm making the shift towards the sleek, customized feel. I've been playing around with Window Managers (WM) which mimic Desktop Environments in many ways, but don't include all those unnecessary programs that I found myself cursing after some time. No, I don't need KAlarm, Koffice, and Kate; in fact, they just get in the way of the programs I want to use.

 At first I tried e17, the Enlightenment window manager, which boasts customizability and minimalistic design. It sounded perfect for my transition from full fledged KDE or Gnome desktop environment to sleek, customized window manager. I have to admit, compared to KDE or Gnome, I really liked e17. I customized it to fit my look, and never have I used multiple desktops so efficiently. I had a black theme installed that I loved, and none of the crazy bloat that comes with most desktop environments. 

With my Linux palate sufficiently wet, I decided to start trying more and more window managers. I went through the basics with openbox and fluxbox, but nothing surpassed e17. I then heard about 'Tiling Window Managers' which organize your applications into many desktops, and tile themselves on your screen. At first I was reluctant because it sounded like something necessary for those hardcore 'power users', but after hearing of some tiling window managers I decided to give 'awesome' a try.

Boy am I happy I did. There are plenty of tiling window managers out there, but I decided on awesome after hearing some good things. I've now got 7 dedicated desktops (main, www, irc, office, im, media, and files), and two miscellaneous desktops, which keep me organized. After a quick overview of the keyboard shortcuts to switch between windows and screens, you quickly become accustomed to the shortcuts and stop needing your mouse for much outside of web browsing. I've also begun using more CLI programs, which use less resources and often times prove to be more efficient. Where I once used xchat, I now use irssi, and where I once used Amarok, I now use mp3blaster. Of course, I can still use the GUI programs like any other window manager, but I've learned to love the command line.

I think when people first hear about tiling window mangers, they worry that their screen isn't big enough (I'm on a  16in laptop by the way, 1366x768), or that they're made for true coders and Linux power users. If you get over your fears and try a tiling window manager, and take the time to customize it for yourself, you'll learn to love it. My small screen works just fine, and I can use multiple desktops to have everything I need running.

To tile or not to tile? I say give it a try, and see what you think. You may just be surprised with how easy to use and efficient they can be.


Fedora 14 Linux and ATI Radeon drivers installation [how to]

Okay guys, this is my first blog post in English, only because I had problems with this and found no solution on the web, so I decided to share this to all of yu.

As you know, Fedora Linux is a lil’ bit tricky when it goes to ATI graphics drivers, so you can use this easy steps to go trough ATI’s official non-free proprietor drivers on Fedora Linux 14 (i686).

catalyst control center linux 587x480 Fedora 14 Linux and ATI Radeon drivers installation [how to]


ATI driver installation

Step 1: Open Konsole: Alt+F2 and type: “konsole” [enter]

Step 2: Login as “root”

  1. su  

and enter your root passwd.

Step 3: Update the system

  1. yum update  

…or update just kernel

  1. yum update kernel  

Step 4: Install required tools

  1. yum install kernel-devel gcc wget  

Step 5: Reboot (and login to a new kernel, if any)

  1. reboot  

Open Konsole again, and login as root (step 1 && step 2)

Step 6: Download ATI Catalyst driver (download this version because you’ll have problems with newest)

  1. wget  

Step 7: Start the installation

  1. bash ./  

…and go with standard next-next-finish yada-yada… everything by default

Step 8: Navigate to proper module build directory

  1. cd /lib/modules/fglrx/build_mod  

Step 9: Compile the driver’s module

  1. sh  

Step 10: Navigate to the proper module directory

  1. cd /lib/modules/fglrx  

Step 11: Install the compiled driver’s module

  1. sh  

Step 12: Add nomodeset as kernel option to grub.conf

  1. sed -i '/root=/s|$| nomodeset|' /boot/grub/grub.conf  

Step 13: Reboot to a new driver

  1. reboot  

If you get your GUI working, you should find “ATI Catalyst Control Center” in:
Main menu > Applications > Settings > ATI Catalyst Control Center

EDIT: For Compiz Fusion install this:
If you’re using Gnome:

  1. yum install ccsm emerald-themes compizconfig-backend-gconf fusion-icon-gtk emerald compiz-fusion compiz-fusion-gnome libcompizconfig compiz-gnome compiz-bcop compiz compizconfig-python compiz-fusion-extras compiz-fusion-extras-gnome  

If you’re using KDE:

  1. yum install ccsm emerald-themes compizconfig-backend-kconfig fusion-icon-qt  emerald compiz-fusion  libcompizconfig compiz-bcop compiz compizconfig-python compiz-fusion-extras  compiz-kde compiz-manager  

Original article on my blog: Fedora 14 Linux and ATI Radeon drivers installation [how to]


ZORIN for the New and Upcoming Linux Converts

I love linux, and wished I'd used it years ago when I was learning computers. There is an unkown adventure when using opensource. You like creativity and innovation, you will like linux. Plus, it will teach you areas about computers and technology that some of the other popular OSs left out. I am sure you have heard the term, "one size does not fit all". Well in the linux realm, that's exactly true. There are plenty of linux distros customized to fit anybody's need. Don't think one is all you can get. 

Speaking of "one size does not fit all", I have been using a particular distro for a while, and it has great potential--Ubuntu. Ubuntu does pretty much what you expect in an OS and will recommend it to everyone. It is, however, not the only one. 

I like to explore, keeping my mind open to new things and experiences. That being said, I've looked at all the other available distro flavors exploring their uniqueness. There was one that really stood out- Zorin OS 4. 

The reviews mentioned that this distro was a faster alternative to windows and actually utilizes the same theme from windows vista and windows 7, cool. After running the liveCD, the OS booted fast, which was good for a liveCD. First thing I noticed was the theme. It was exactly like vista, more or less. Not bad, especially for users who are coming directly from windows. You will feel right at home. Zorin uses the KDE desktop environment, meaning it is very configurable. 

The task bar lets you pin programs for ease of launch. Very similar to Windows 7. And for those who became accustom to the windows themes, Zorin has desktop options to change the themes to either vista or 7. Like that? 

Zorin gives you the ability to install new opensource programs as like the rest of the linux OSs, yet with a little spice to it. Zorin is a spine off of ubuntu, so you will notice some similarities. In addition, wine is installed by default with an app called "playonlinux" that allows you to run windows apps. So wherever you go, your trusted windows apps follow. And, the programs run better on Zorin.  Wine also gives you a huge list of game you can play one Zorin. GAMES!!! One of the games sold me completely, Call of Duty: Black OPs, NO WAY. And, there are many more, Devil may cry 4, halo, etc. 

Zorin supports a wide range of hardware as well. Which I think is very critical to a successful linux OS. I am running Zorin on an old Dell WHL with a Xeon processor inside and a 1Gb of memory. This machine is loving it. 

Ok for you security gurus, Zorin has an app that allows you to configure your firewall. Thats right, a gui app to configure your firewall. I am not saying it can replace iptables, however, you are fresh to linux, so why not do something you are used to, savvy?  

Now for the online media content viewers. Zorin comes with all the video and audio codecs pre-installed. It supports the opensource and proprietary codec software so you are kept adaptive. The codecs that are support, flash, java and windows media codecs.

Did I mention, that Zorin is blazing fast? Oh yeah, it is. I was opening up multiple programs and windows and everything worked seamlessly. And, it is only 32bit. 

In my opinion, Zorin is the windows equivalent of linux. This is a good distros to use to promote linux and help new users get familiar with the system as they make their way to becoming linux gurus. 


Explanation of Firewalls



Thanks to the rise of computer networking and the internet it is now more important than ever to have a firewall installed an running on your system. This entry is intended to give you a basic understanding of what a firewall is so you can choose the best firewall for your needs.

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