Use shortcut to replace “Esc” in VIM/GVIM

March 22, 2007

I bought a second hand Canon 300D recently. Had much fun with it. I’ll probably write something about using a DSLR in Ubuntu. Really love this “old” camera.

OK. Here is the problem I recently found when I was using GVIM-latex-suite to type my final thesis, when I want to change back to normal mode from the insert mode by pressing “Esc” it is quite unconfortable. Although “Esc” key is not far from other keys, it is just not that convenient. Because when you typing, your fingers are alway around “ASDF”and “JKL:” keys. You’ll need to move your hand to reach the “Esc” key…

This can be quite easy to solve. I am sure there is a way using VIM setting itself to remap Esc key. But don’t want to research such settings. The KDE control center, can do this quite easily. Here is the steps:

  1. KDE control center-> Reginal & accessibility-> Input Actions.
  2. “New Action”. Note you’d better to create a new group first.
  3. Go to “Trigger” tab, “New”-> Shortcut Trigger-> I use “Right Alt +  L”. It’s quite convenient when you are in the type position. Try it yourself.
  4. Go to “Actions” tab, “New”-> Keyboard input -> type Escape.
  5. Leave all the other settings default.

That’s it. Now in every active windows, if you press “Right Alt+L” the actual key activated is “Esc” key. Enjoy your VIM typing!

Recommend: Yakuake, a cool terminal Emulator for KDE

February 1, 2007

In KDE, I use Konsole all the time, until I met Yakuake. I add this small tool to my long-term using applications immediately. The reason is simple. It’s pretty convenient, fast, and cool.

KDE lets me define a shortcut (I set it to Win+Ctrl+T, whilst Win+T to start it) to activate my Konsole no matter what desktop it is, or it is minimised or not. This is quite handy as whenever I want to switch to an opened Konsole instead of opening a new one, I just press the hotkey. However, it is annoy that after this I have to minimise it manually, otherwise it will be the current active window in my every 9 desktop!!

By using Yakuake, this wouldn’t be an issue anymore. I add it to my autostart applications. So instead of start a terminal and switch it every time and minimise after using it, I just press a hotkey (I set it to Alt+X as it is very handy for my left hand), a console will slide from my top screen edge, then I can type and command I want, or add more tabs. To inactivate it, just click outside this console it will slide back as nothing happens, or press the hotkey again. This applies to all my desktops. Besides, the interface is really cool, I set it to use Konsole’s settings, others default. Here is a screenshot:


To install is quite simple: in terminal “sudo apt-get install yakuake” , then say goodbye to your old terminal emulators.

HOWTO: quick search terminal history commands

January 20, 2007

I like the MATLAB way of input command — it has the same tab-complete feature; in addition, it has a up-arrow-auto-complete-history-command feature. For example, if I have typed a command “x=39;y=23;” before, now I can just type “x” and then type the up arrow button, then this command would auto-complete. It can also switch between all the history commands that has the same starting letters.

Vert unfortunately, I haven’t found any similar feature in the Linux terminal, or say bash. There is a command called “history” that can list all the history commands. I can type “history | grep xxx” to search the command I want to find. The same example, I can type “history | grep x=” try to find that command. There would come up something like “201 x=39;y=23;“. The number in the beginning is the index of in the history. Then I can type “!201” to repeat this command. But I find this quite time-consuming.

Then I came across a shortcut of bash “Ctrl + R“, it can “search through previously used commands”. Say in the terminal I type “Ctrl + R”, then “(reverse-i-search):” came up, then I can type keyword of my previous command, say “x=” then the most related command would come up. After the right command comes up, then type enter, finish. Although not as convinient as the MATLAB mode, this is way better than using “history” command, in my view.

Tomboy icon on the KDE tray, finally

January 5, 2007

Tomboy is a nice note taking application that I am using it everyday. But it is really annoying that no icon is there on the KDE tray. But it is really there, like a transparent icon. These problem seems a bug in the 0.4 release, because I saw someone else got the same question in some forums. But now with the 0.5.1 release, the tomboy icon finally can be displayed on the KDE tray. Of course there are other new features, please check here.

Tomboy icon on the KDE tray

Superswitcher — A nice Alt+Tab alternative

January 5, 2007

Today I came across a nice small application called “Superswitcher” from LinuxTOY. It is quite handy to use Win+direction keys to switch from desktops and applications in one desktop.

“SuperSwitcher is a (more feature-ful) replacement for the Alt-Tab window
switching behavior and Ctrl-Alt-Left/Right/Up/Down workspace switching behavior
that is currently provided by Metacity.”

Don’t worry about the homepage of Superswitcher is inside the Gnomefile, because I found it works perfectly in my KDE desktop environment. It also has some other features like move windows, find particular windows by key combinations. The only problem I found so far (after trying 2 min only…) is that it conflicts with my KDE shortcut. I have Win+ KEY to open applications, and Win+Ctrl+KEY to switch to that window. Now I can’t use them if I have Superswitcher on. I’ll try to find a way to overcome this…

A screenshot here:

Make Opera not use the KDE color scheme

December 29, 2006

After I installed KDE desktop environment in Ubuntu and changed a dark color scheme, my opera brower uses this color scheme automatically! People discuss around how to make Opera using the current KDE theme, but no one wants to leave Opera alone. The reason why I want to do this, or must do this is because some website seems to set font color to be dark or black. As in my KDE color scheme all the background are black, and the foreground is white (I like this high contrast), I can’t see much in this color scheme. See the screenshot:

Opera in KDE color scheme(KDE color scheme) Opera in default color scheme(Default color scheme)

I searched around and found no answer in opera community, kde, ubuntu, kubuntu forums… Then I played around all the opera settings, nothing to configure this. Then I found there is one file that is the key to this problem. That is “~/.qt/qtrc“. It seems opera will read the color scheme from this file every time it launches. I found this because when I launch opear as root, the color scheme would become default, same as the root color scheme. Then I make my hotkey “Win+O” to run this command “mv ~/.qt/qtrc ~/.qt/qtrcc & opera“. By doing so, this qtrc is renamed as qtrcc, Opera will use the default color scheme if this qtrc file is not found in the ~/.qt folder. I’ve been doing this for weeks, nothing bad happened to any of my other KDE programs. So I guess this will resolve this problem before I found an “official” way. By the way, this qtrc file will be created every time I logged in Xwindows, I rename it to qtrcc just in case some day somehow this file is not created.

My software list in Ubuntu+KDE

December 29, 2006

Having been trying different software these months (hope the English grammar is right…), I’ll list my favorite Linux software here, just remind myself. Everything can be installed by simply typing “sudo apt-get install XXX (its name)” in the terminal. Except, opera needs to add a commercial repository, which can be found here.

File management:


  • Opera, Firefox, Swiftfox, browers I use forth and back
  • Amule — similar to emule in windows
  • Ktorrent — BT client
  • Kontact — very exciting program which includes all the PIM stuff I need: calendar, todo list, note, Email (Kmail), RSS news reader (akregator)…
  • Gaim — MSN, QQ, Gtalk, ICQ… client
  • vpnc — much better and easier application than the Cisco one
  • qsopcast — online TV, it’s a p2p software


  • Openoffice
  • gwenview — smart KDE picture viewer
  • KPhotoAlbum — Help me sort all my images in my computer. Its tag-every-image feature makes finding a single picture from thousands much easier.


Useful Utilities:

  • Tomboy — note-taking application
  • Stardict — dictionary
  • gvim+latex suite — latex editor (also Kile)
  • vmware — virtual machine which let me run Windows XP under my ubuntu to do some must-in-windows stuff, say MATLAB… Using samba service could make a folder to be share by both the host and guest machine to share data.
  • KMymoney2 — This is a prety cool software that help me record my cost and income. I found it easier than others like Gnucash. At least, I want to avoid using GTK stuff in the KDE environment.
  • qtparted, gparted — partition utilities in KDE and Gnome.
  • k3b, gnomebaker — CD/DVD burning utilites in KDE and Gnome.
  • fcitx — Chinese input server. 小企鹅输入法, Linux下的中文输入法.
  • tpfan — An automated control script to solve the fan always-on problem in my IBM T43 laptop. There is also a small utility for Windows use here.
  • tpb — TPB is a little program that enables you to use the IBM ThinkPad(tm) special keys.
  • xvkbd, xbindkeys — Help me define button functions of my Logitech® Optical Cordless TrackMan. A nice howto article can be found here.
  • gmrun — one of the few GTK programs I used in KDE. It’s a Gnome completion-run utility which is very handy. In Windows there is a similar free program called Runfast. The “Run Command” (Alt+F2) in KDE is useless for me, because it has no auto-completion ability. I haven’t found any program in KDE that can replace gmrun yet.

My (K)Ubuntu desktop arrangement

December 28, 2006

Ubuntu + KDE screenshot

I can’t call my operation system exactly Ubuntu, because I am using KDE environment now. I can’t call it Kubuntu either, as I installed Ubuntu and then “sudo apt-get install kde” instead of “sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop”. In the latter case, all the Kubuntu stuff would be installed, as I read from some posts about how to reverse GDM back. Anyway, I don’t think there would be much difference, it is definitely Ubuntu.

As you can see, I like make the taskbar (panel) vertical on the left, and make it autohide. I found this way could save my screen space and time to move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to switch different windows, like the default panel. Although this panel is seldom used, as I have set up 9 desktops. Most of the programs I opened were set to be opened in specific desktop no matter what is the current desktop. This can be set by “KDE control center – Desktop – Window-Specific Settings – Geometry”. I also set couple of hotkeys for certain applications. Say “Win+Ctrl+G” will swich to Gvim wherever it is, “Win+Ctrl+T” will swich to Terminal. There are also large number of hotkey settings in KDE which can make operation much convenient. They are all in the KDE control center.

Bottom right is a very small Xwindow application called “oclock”, it is made above all other applications so that I can know the time without go to the hiden panel.