How to customize the Gimp interface on Linux

The Gimp Graphics editor, though not perfect, is one of the best open-source applications available to Linux users. However, the default layout of the app is quite terrible. The toolbars are in three parts and hard to use; the theme it uses by default doesn’t match your system’s one, and so on.

Thankfully, Gimp has a significant number of customization features that are sure to excite Linux users. So, in this guide, we’ll go over how to customize the Gimp interface on Linux. We’ll show you how to tweak everything from the toolbar, the icons it uses, theming, and much more!

Hide docks

In Gimp, “docks” are the items to the left and right of the workspace. In the left dock, you’ll see your toolbox, filled with various graphical tools you can use to manipulate the image you are currently working on. In the right dock, you’ll see the layer UI, brush options, image pathing options, textures, and much more.

These docks are very useful when working with Gimp. However, you may find that they get in the way from time to time, and take up a lot of space. If you’re working on an image in Gimp and want to get rid of the docks, here’s what to do.

Click “Windows” in the Gimp UI to reveal the “Windows” menu. Then, in the menu, find the “Hide docks.” button, and check the box next to it to hide both the left and right Gimp instantly docks.

Need to unhide the docks? Go back to “Windows,” and uncheck the “Hide docks” button, or press Tab.

Single-window mode

For the longest time, Gimp has had a weird UI that was hard to work with. The left and right dock and the image workspace floated independently. These days, in new versions, that issue is taken care of with the “Single-window” mode, which gives the users an experience similar to Adobe Photoshop.

If you’re still stuck in multi-window mode in Gimp, you can change to Single-window mode by clicking on the “Windows” menu, then checking the box next to “Single-window mode.”

Need to exit Single-window mode in Gimp? Go back to “Windows” and uncheck the box next to “Single-window mode.”

Tab position

The default tab position in the Gimp application is at the top. For most users, this works just fine. However, if you’re not a fan of the positioning, for whatever reason, the app lets you customize it and change it to wherever you’d like.

To change the position of the tabs in Gimp, do the following. First, open up the “Windows” menu. Then, inside of the “Windows” menu, look for a sub-menu labeled “Tab position.”

In the “Tab position” menu, you will see several different choices for where you’d like the Gimp app to display tabs (top, bottom, left, right). Select one of the options in the list to switch the tab position instantly.

Toolbox items

The Gimp application’s toolbox items can be customized to have more (or less) tools available to use. To customize the Gimp toolbox, do the following.

First, click the “Edit” button at the top of Gimp and access the Edit menu. Then, look through for the “Preferences” button and click it to open up Gimp’s preferences area.

Inside of Gimp’s preferences window, find the “Interface” section. Then, look under it for “Toolbox” and click on it to access Gimp’s toolbox settings.

In the toolbox settings, look through the list of tools enabled in Gimp. Click the eye button to enable/disable tools in the toolbox.

When you’ve finished adding/removing tools to the Gimp toolbox, click the “OK” button to save changes.

Gimp icon style

Gimp’s default icon style is quite frankly an eyesore. Luckily, the icons in the app are very customizable, and it is possible to change out the defaults for other ones.

To customize Gimp’s icon style, start out by clicking on “Edit” to open the edit menu. Then, look through the menu, and select “Preferences” to open up Gimp’s preferences area.

Inside of Gimp’s preferences area, look for the “Interface” column. Then, click on “Icon Theme” to access the Gimp icon settings.

In Gimp’s icon settings, you will see 4 different icon themes to choose from. These icons are “Color”, “Legacy”, “Symbolic”, and “Symbolic-Inverted.” Choose the theme that suits your needs best.

When you’ve set your preferred Gimp icon theme, click “OK” to save the changes.

Gimp user-interface style

If you’re not a fan of the Gimp user interface, you’ll be happy to know that you can customize it with different themes. To customize Gimp’s user interface style, do the following.

First, click on “Edit” to open up the Edit menu. Then, look through the menu for “Preferences” and click it to access Gimp’s preferences area.

In the Gimp preferences area, find “Interface” and click it to access Gimp’s interface settings. Then, under “Interface” click on the “Theme” option to access the theme area.

Inside of the theme area, you will be presented with 4 different Gimp styles. These styles are “Dark,” “Gray”, “Light”, and “System”. Select the theme you like best.

After selecting your preferred theme, click “OK” to instantly change Gimp over to the new theme.

Read How to customize the Gimp interface on Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to make a custom Linux panel with Tint2

All desktop environments on Linux provide a panel to use for switching open applications, managing notifications, and so on. However, these panels are often hit and miss, and some Linux users find themselves unhappy with the default options.

A great alternative option to the panels that Linux desktop environments provide is Tint2. It’s lightweight, fully customizable, and can work on all of the popular Linux desktops! Here’s how to set it up!

Note: if you use a window manager rather than a desktop environment, consider following this guide here to learn how to set up Tint2 on the Openbox window manager.

Which desktop environment to use with Tint2?

As mentioned earlier, Tint2 will work on any desktop environment. However, the Tint2 panel is meant to give users a Lightweight panel alternative. So, since it is a lightweight panel, the best desktop to use is XFCE4.

Note: feel free to use Tint2 on any desktop environment on Linux. However, you will not have the same type of experience as you would with XFCE4.

Why XFCE4? It’s incredibly lightweight. Furthermore, it’s possible to configure XFCE to work well with Tint2 heavily.

So, before we begin on how to configure Tint2, you must install the XFCE4 desktop environment.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install xfce4

Debian

sudo apt-get install xfce4

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S xfce4

Fedora

sudo dnf install @xfce-desktop-environment

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper in -t pattern xfce

After installing the XFCE4 desktop environment, log out of your current desktop environment. Then, find “session” at the login screen, set it to XFCE, and log in.

Install Tint2

The Tint2 panel is available on all modern Linux distributions, as it is open source and not a lot of work to install. To get the Tint2 panel working on your Linux PC, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the command-line instructions below that correspond with the Linux OS that you currently use.

Ubuntu

On Ubuntu, the Tint2 panel is available in the “Universe” software repository. To install it, enable “Universe.”

sudo add-apt-repository universe
sudo apt update

After enabling the “Universe” software repository, you can install the Tint2 panel on your computer with the Apt command.

sudo apt install tint2

Debian

The Tint2 panel is available to Debian Linux users in the “Main” software repository. Install it on your system with the following Apt-get command.

sudo apt-get install tint2

Arch Linux

On Arch Linux, the Tint2 panel is available for installation through the “Community” software repository. Be sure that you’ve enabled “Community” in your Pacman.conf file.

After enabling the “Community” software repository, you can install Tint2 with the following Pacman command.

sudo pacman -S tint2

Fedora

The Tint2 panel is available to Fedora Linux users via the primary software repository. To get it working on your system, use the following Dnf command.

sudo dnf install tint2

OpenSUSE

Tint2 is installable on all current releases of OpenSUSE via the “OSS all” software repository. To get the panel working on your system, use the following Zypper command in a terminal.

sudo zypper install tint2

Configure Tint2

The configuration process for Tint2 is pretty straightforward. To make it as easy to understand as possible, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: In the XFCE4 desktop environment, we must disable the default desktop environment panel from loading up. To do this, you need to access the XFCE4 session settings.

Press Alt + F2 on the keyboard. Then, write the command in the launcher below to access session settings.

xfce4-session-settings

Step 2: In the session settings window, find the “Application Autostart” tab, and click on it with the mouse. Then, find the “+ Add” button and click it to create a new startup entry.

In the name box, write:

XFCE Panel killer.

Then, in the command box, write:

killall xfce4-panel

When both boxes are filled out, click the “OK” button to create the new session entry.

Step 3: Make your way back to the session settings window and click the “+ Add” button to make a second entry.

In the name box, write:

Tint2 launcher.

Then, in the command box, write:

tint2

Step 4: Click “OK” to create the new session entry.

Step 5: After both session entries have been created, right-click on the desktop, hover over the “Applications” section of the right-click menu, and choose “log out” to access the logout window.

Step 6: In the logout window, find the box that says “Save session for future logins” and uncheck it.

Step 7: Log back into your XFCE4 desktop session. When you do, you’ll notice the Tint2 panel has replaced the default XFCE4 one!

Need to open applications on your new Tint2-powered XFCE4 session? Right-click on the desktop and select the “Applications” menu. Or, press Alt + F3.

Customize the Tint2 panel

The Tint2 panel is incredibly customizable. If you’re not a massive fan of the default look, do the following to change themes.

Step 1: Click on the menu icon next to the “workspace” box on the Tint2 panel. Selecting this icon will open up the Tint2 wizard app.

Step 2: In the Tint2 wizard app, look through the list of panel themes available. Then, when you’ve found one you like, click on it to select it with the mouse.

Step 3: After selecting the Tint2 theme you like from the list, click the green check-mark button to apply it.

As soon as the green check-mark button is selected, the panel will switch to the new theme.

Read How to make a custom Linux panel with Tint2 by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to use your smartphone as a touchpad for Linux

Are you using a Linux PC without a mouse? Do you need an emergency touchpad? Check out the Remote Touchpad app. Once installed, you can connect to it via your smartphone and the phone’s touchscreen as a touchpad for your Linux PC.

Note: Remote Touchpad does not need a mobile app and will work on Android and iOS through a mobile web browser. However, you must be able to scan QR codes to make use of the app. Download this QR reader for Android here. On iOS, Apple’s camera app has built-in QR code reading support.

Install Remote Touchpad on Linux

Before we demonstrate how to use your smartphone as a touchpad on Linux, we must go over how to install the Remote Touchpad application on Linux. To start the installation, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow along with the installation instructions below to get the app working.

Flatpak

On Linux, Remote Touchpad is available as a Flatpak, rather than as a DEB package, RPM package, or AppImage. To get going with the Flatpak version of Remote Touchpad on your Linux PC, you must first enable the Flatpak runtime.

Enabling the Flatpak runtime on a Linux PC is quite easy. To do it, install the “flatpak” package the way you typically install software. Or, if you’re having some trouble getting it working, follow along with our guide on how to set up the Flatpak runtime.

Once you’ve gotten Flatpak working on your Linux PC, use the flatpak commands below to get the Remote Touchpad application up and running.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak install flathub com.github.unrud.RemoteTouchpad

Snap

In addition to being in the Flathub software store, Remote Touchpad is also available as a Snap package. To get the app working as a Snap, you must first enable Snap package support on your Linux PC.

To enable Snap package support on your Linux PC, follow the guide here on how to enable the Snapd runtime. Alternatively, switch to Ubuntu, where Snaps are set up by default.

After setting up Snap support on your Linux PC, use the following snap install command below to get the Remote Touchpad app working.

sudo snap install remote-touchpad

Set up Remote Touchpad

Remote Touchpad for Linux is a command-line application that starts a server that can be accessed on a remote device, like a mobile phone. Currently, there are no limitations to what operating system the remote device should be running. It can run Android, iOS, or even lesser-known operating systems. So long as there is a modern web browser available to use, it will work.

Connecting the desktop Linux app Remote Touchpad with a smartphone is done with a QR code. So, before we get started, ensure you have the QR code reader application installed on your Android device mentioned earlier in the guide. Once that’s taken care of, open up the app on your phone to get your QR reader ready.

After opening up the QR code reader on Android (or the iOS camera app), open up a terminal on the Linux desktop. You can launch a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard.

With the terminal window open, you must run the Remote Touchpad application. Keep in mind that depending on what version of the Remote Touchpad you install, the command will be different.

Note: remote touchpad needs access outside of the Linux firewall to communicate with other devices on the network. You must either temporarily disable your firewall, or allow Remote Touchpad through for the app to work.

To start a local touchpad server on your network with the Snap version of Remote Touchpad, run the remote-touchpad command. Do not run the app as root! Your Linux PC will not recognize the command!

remote-touchpad

To start up a local touchpad server on your network with the Flatpak version of Remote Touchpad, you will not be able to run remote-touchpad. Instead, you must use the flatpak run command, followed by com.github.unrud.RemoteTouchpad.

flatpak run com.github.unrud.RemoteTouchpad

With the server running, you will see a terminal-based QR code in the prompt. This code is scannable and will give you a direct link to a web server hosted on your computer, with on-screen media playback controls, and a touch space which you can use to control your computer from the device.

Use smartphone as a touchpad

Using Remote Touchpad to control your Linux PC is quite simple. To use the phone as a mouse, simply drag on the touchpad with your finger, and tap to click. Open up the keyboard to remotely enter text by tapping on the keyboard icon.

Media controls

Remote Touchpad has built-in media controls that you can use to remotely pause playing media, skip songs, and adjust the volume.

To skip songs, tap on the back or forward buttons. To pause, tap the play/pause buttons. Lastly, to adjust volume remotely, tap any of the volume buttons.

Read How to use your smartphone as a touchpad for Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to save battery life on Ubuntu with Slimbook Battery

The Slimbook line of Laptops has an impressive battery life, touting some of the best battery performance for Linux laptops. However, the people behind Slimbook aren’t satisfied with the battery performance and have created a utility that can squeeze even more savings out of it.

The utility is known as Slimbook Battery, and it works on Ubuntu and Ubuntu-like Linux distributions (Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Zorin, etc.) with all Slimbook laptops. In addition to working well with Slimbook laptops, the Slimbook Battery tool will work on any Linux laptop to help save battery life.

Note: there is an unofficial Arch Linux User Repository package for the Slimbook Battery utility. If you use Arch, point your favorite AUR helper at this package, install it, and follow along with the tutorial to learn how to get battery savings.

Install Slimbook Battery utility on Ubuntu

The Slimbook Battery utility is not in Ubuntu software sources. The reason for this is that Ubuntu either hasn’t gotten around to including it, or they don’t want to because of some software licensing issues that conflict with the mission of Ubuntu as a whole. As a result, you must install the Slimbook Battery utility from an external software repository (PPA).

To start the installation, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, once the terminal window is open, use the add-apt-repository command to get the Slimbook Battery PPA working on your Ubuntu (or Ubuntu-like) Linux distribution.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:slimbook/slimbook

After adding in the Slimbook PPA to your Ubuntu Linux PC, the installation is not complete. You must now update the software sources on your computer. The reason you have to perform the update, is that Ubuntu must check the new PPA, cache it, and add it to your local software source database.

To update Ubuntu’s software sources, you must run the update command below in the terminal window.

sudo apt update

Following the update command, it’s a good idea to install all pending software patches and updates. The reason? Your battery life will be a lot better with the latest Ubuntu patches, drivers, kernel updates, and so on. To do an update, you must use the upgrade command. Using the command below, install all pending software patches.

Note: to look at pending updates before installing them on Ubuntu, open up a terminal window and run the apt list –upgradeable command. It will print out a list of all updates.

sudo apt upgrade -y

Once your Ubuntu Linux PC is entirely up to date, it’s time to install the Slimbook Battery utility. To install it, use the Apt package manager command below in the terminal.

sudo apt install slimbookbattery

After installing the Slimbook Battery application on your Ubuntu Linux PC (or Ubuntu-like OS), no configuration is required, as the Slimbook developers have sane defaults and make sure that their apps work right out of the box. Instead, launch the app and move on to the next section of the guide to learn about the different battery saving profiles the app has to offer!

Save battery life on Ubuntu with Slimbook Battery

With Slimbook Battery open on your Ubuntu PC, the app will not be using any battery profiles. Instead, Slimbook Battery is set to “off”. To take advantage of the saving features, you must switch to one of the profiles available. These profiles are “Energy Saving”, “Balanced” and “Maximum Performance.”

Energy Savings

If your Linux laptop does not last very long when using the battery, the profile you need to check out is “Energy Savings”.  This mode is the most aggressive out of the three profiles that the app offers and will do the most to save battery life on your system.

Switch to the “Energy Savings” profile in the Slimbook by clicking the tray icon, and selecting the green “Energy Savings” option.

Balanced

If the “Energy Saving” mode for Slimbook Battery is too aggressive and goes too far to limit battery usage on your Ubuntu Linux PC, you’ll want to check out the “Balanced” profile. This profile, as the name suggests, gives a good middle-ground between the “Energy Saving” profile and the “Maximum Performance” profile. To switch to Balanced, click on the tray icon, and select “Balanced.”

Maximum Performance

Sometimes, you may want to get the full performance features out of your Linux laptop. Using the “Balanced” or “Energy Savings” mode in Slimbook Battery is not good enough, and will not allow you to use your laptop to its full potential.

To switch to a battery mode that allows you to get full performance, click on the Slimbook Battery tray icon, and set it to “Maximum Performance.” It should instantly allow your laptop to take full advantage of its hardware.

Read How to save battery life on Ubuntu with Slimbook Battery by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to record Discord voice calls on Linux

Discord is one of the most popular VOIP/Video communication applications in 2019. Ever since the app was made available on Linux, support for the Linux platform has gotten better. However, there’s still no built-in way to save calls in the Linux app. Instead, if you’d like to save your Discord calls, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands.

The best way to record a Discord audio call on Linux is by making use of OBS. The reason that OBS is a useful tool for the job is that it allows for adding multiple sound sources, including your own computer’s speakers, which can record a Discord audio call.

Install OBS on Linux

To get started recording a Discord audio call on Linux, you must install the Openbroadcaster software on Linux. Open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, with the terminal window open and ready to go, follow the instructions for how to install OBS that correspond with the Linux OS you currently use.

Ubuntu

Ever since Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, the OBS tool has been in Ubuntu’s software sources. To install it, use the following Apt command below.

sudo apt install obs-studio

Debian

sudo apt-get install obs-studio

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S obs-studio

Fedora

Fedora Linux’s default software sources do not have the OBS Studio application, because it contains some things that the Fedora developers do not approve of. To get it working on Fedora Linux, you must first enable RPM Fusion.

After enabling RPM Fusion on your Fedora Linux PC, you will be able to install the OBS Studio application with the Dnf package manager using the command below.

sudo dnf install obs-studio

OpenSUSE

Like Fedora, OpenSUSE does not have the software in their repositories. So, if you’d like to get OBS, you must enable the “Packman all” software repository.

15.1

sudo zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_15.1/ packman

15.0

sudo zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_15.0/ packman

Tumbleweed

sudo zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/ packman

After enabling the repo, refresh your software sources and install OBS on OpenSUSE.

sudo zypper ref

sudo zypper install obs-studio

Flatpak

OBS is in the Flathub store, so if you can’t get your hands on OBS through your distribution’s software sources, this is a good option. To install, enable Flatpak on Linux. Then, enter the commands below to get OBS.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

flatpak install flathub com.obsproject.Studio

Record Discord audio call on Linux

To record a Discord audio call on Linux, start by opening up the OBS application. Upon opening it, you will see an OBS pop-up requesting you use the wizard tool to configure your broadcast setup. Close this pop-up, as we do not need it for this tutorial.

After closing the OBS wizard pop-up, go to the “Audio Mixer” portion of the app. In this area, you will see “Desktop Audio,” followed by “Mic/Aux.” The “Desktop Audio” is the sound output for your Linux PC’s sound system. “Mic/Aux” is your PC’s microphone.

Look through the audio mixer, and change up the volume levels to what you see fit. For best results, consider setting the audio so that neither audio channel sits in the red zone on the meters.

Once you’ve set your OBS audio levels to what works best for you, join a Discord call in a server or start a private audio call in a DM. Then, click the “record” button.

Upon clicking the record button, you will see a pop-up message that appears. In this message, you will see, “It looks like you haven’t added any video sources yet, so you will only be outputting a blank screen. Are you sure you want to do this?” Click the “Yes” button to dismiss the message.

Continue with your Discord audio call and record everything you plan to record. When call ends, or you do not need to record it any further, click “Stop Recording” in OBS. The output of the recording will appear in your home directory as an MKV file by default (sometimes it is FLV in older versions).

Convert the call recording to an MP3 file

If you want to edit your recorded Discord file, you must convert it to an MP3 file. The best way to do this is in the command-line with FFMpeg, the encoder that OBS uses in the backend.

Open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, once in the terminal, use the mv command to rename your MKV recording to “discord-call.mkv.”

Note: be sure to change name-of-obs-recording.mkv to the actual name of the MKV file in your home directory.

mv name-of-obs-recording.mkv discord-call.mkv

After renaming the file, use the FFMpeg tool to convert the MKV file to an MP3 audio file for editing (or listening) purposes.

ffmpeg -I discord-call.mkv discord-call.mp3

Read How to record Discord voice calls on Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter