CUPS-PDF | Print to PDF from any Application

I’m sure this isn’t new to anyone, certainly not to me but after using another operating system for a bit I was really annoyed and wanted to just highlight what a wonderful thing this “printer” is for openSUSE and any other Linux distribution, for that matter. Sometimes, I think it is good to reflect on the the great things we take for granted here in Linux land.

Installation

For openSUSE, you can simply type this in terminal

sudo zypper install cups-pdf

or if you prefer the point-and-click method navigate here and be sure to choose the correct version of openSUSE:

https://software.opensuse.org/package/cups-pdf

That is all there is to it. According to Zypper, this takes up all of 221.9 KiB of drive space so this is pretty insignificant and for outdated for the benefits this provides.

Why?

There are a couple of reasons why the print to PDF as a kind of pseudo or virtual printer is a great feature to have:

Number 1

I have historically, while not thinking clearly, printed something I shouldn’t have because I just CTRL+P with a rapid strike of the enter key to print something. Immediately following, I would see an error in document. It could have been anything from a typo to a formatting error and I would have wasted time because the cancel button never actually cancels the print. The printer goes through this process where it thinks about cancelling the print for several minutes. Basically, it gives you that spinning circle thing until you forcibly shut the thing down. All the while you are thinking about how you should have just let the printer do its thing and you could have just used the wasted paper for something else.

Number 2

Some online training sites don’t let you export that certificate directly as a PDF so your option really comes down to printing it to the printer because for whatever reason, the Firefox print dialog wouldn’t pop up, it would be some sort of oddball thing that only provided actual printers.

Number 3

I am an old man, largely, stuck in my ways. There are certain, old, applications I enjoy using and at the same time need the print to pdf option. This gives me that option, system wide, that I can use whenever necessary.

Solution

CUPS-PDF provides a printer for the system that generates a PDF to the user’s specified location. In the case of openSUSE, both Leap and Tumbleweed, perhaps other distributions it will dump them here:

/var/spool/cups-pdf/USER

Rather than change the configuration file for the cups-pdf printer, I went the easy way and made a link to that location of pdf output to my home folder

ln -s /var/spool/cups-pdf/USER ~/cups-pdf

You can of course do this graphically as well, if that is what you prefer. In that case, using your favorite file manager (like Dolphin), navigate to the aforementioned location, drag and drop, using the “Link Here” option.

Use

It’s pretty simple, really, after installing the “virtual printer” it makes itself available to the system.

What is great about this is, when running old Windows applications through Wine or Crossover Linux that don’t have access to the Plasma print-to-file, I can just print to this virtual device called CUPS-PDF.

This very nicely leverages the very basic capabilities provided by my Linux desktop environment for some of those older and obscure applications I still enjoy using. Truly, a wonderful piece of open source software that is perhaps often overlooked by all the new and shiny things created today.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t any great, new feature in Linux but one that has been there and working for me day after day for nearly 20 years in some form. It is such a simple thing, uses very few resources and adds some valuable functionality. The great thing is, this is just a built-in feature to openSUSE and other Linux distributions that don’t require adding some obscure application.

This is yet another reason why I love using Linux and open source software. It allows me the freedom to work how I want to work, capture and archive things the way I see fit and just be happy in my little digital world.

References

openSUSE Home
https://software.opensuse.org/package/cups-pdf

openSUSE Smiles

As a rule, the openSUSE logo makes me happy, just seeing it. I did, in fact, add stickers to my newly acquired EliteBook to add a bit of personalized happiness to it. On the openSUSE mailing list, discussing Blender, I clicked on this link to YouTube for a short video that I thought was not only really cool but cute and funny.

There is no end to my amazement of the openSUSE community. They do such a fantastic job of making a wonderful distribution with all the tools that keep me productive. I am very thankful for the reliability I enjoy using openSUSE. The community members also do a great job of helping me through a jam, should I drive myself into one.

Now I look forward to seeing the release of Blender with this customized piece of happiness!

References

Link to YouTube animation of Geeko animation for Blender
openSUSE.org
HP EliteBook Stickers
HP EliteBook 840 G7 running openSUSE Tumbleweed

Wild Wood | Commodore 64 Game

I have purchased a few Commodore 64 games in recent years. I recently stumbled upon this game that is a work in progress. It is a platformer style game where you take on the role of a hare (rabbit) where you journey in search of your ancestral home in the ancient Wild Wood. In this face-paced game you will use your superior agility and speed to survive the treacherous trails and outmaneuver enemies and hungry predators. At least, that is what the website says.

This platformer promises to be a multi-directional, high-speed, side-scrolling game with bosses, hidden secrets and bonus stages. The graphics look to be of premium C64 quality. Knowing the graphical limitations of the system, this is quite impressive. It takes some skill and forethought to make look so good.

The creators of this game have created full-screen bitmaps that intersect ever stage. With all the emphasis on the graphics, game-play and sound, I can’t help but wonder what the memory footprint is going to be of this game.

The game is under active development and not ready for any kind of beta testing, I know this because I asked. I am already impressed with what I see, from the graphics to the musical score sample it all seems to be shaping up quite nicely. Sure, I’d like to be able to play a sample of the game, but I can wait, I’m patient.

I do hope that the developers will make a C64 Maxi/Mini image for those of us that have such things. “Sam’s Journey” another game I recently purchased works incredibly well on my C64 Maxi and the ability to save your progress makes for a more enjoyable gaming experience. So, this is a little bit of a request as well as a hope.

More information about the game and how to support it can be found on their website:

https://www.wildwoodgame.co.uk/

If you are into such things, I encourage you to continue to explore.

Final Thoughts

I get excited about seeing new developments on the Commodore 64. It is amazing that people invest time and effort into a 30+ year old computer that is fueled by a nostalgic passion that I share. I make it a point to purchase new C64 games that I enjoy when they become available.

I am starting to think… it would be fun to perhaps do some real reviews on these games, you know for all seven people that would actually watch the video…

References

https://www.wildwoodgame.co.uk/
https://retrogames.biz/thec64

openSUSE Stickers to Enhance your Tech

I have not been one that has been real huge on stickers. Historically, I have not been one to sticker anything up, I have enjoyed keeping things plain, ordinary and uniform or incognito. With my recent computer acquisition, the very nice, sleep albeit cold HP EliteBook felt very impersonal. I felt, it needed a touch of green, a touch of happiness and maybe a little less of the cold and detached presentation it provides. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for that, just not today on this machine.

I did a little searching on the webs and I found a site that provides many, many options for stickers. That company is called RedBubble. What is interesting about this site is that it is like an Etsy of stickers and merchandise. If you do a search for openSUSE or Ubuntu, you will get different products by different designers. I do not know the business model here but I am very fascinated by having these options available.

Since I have an almost unhealthy obsession with openSUSE, I had to take my rather plain and uninspiring, cold, metal machine into something with a bit of warmth.

I even bought a little something for the inside of the laptop too. You don’t always get the pleasure of seeing the logo on the menu button when you are playing a game at full screen. Sometimes, it is nice to look down and bring that smile back to your face after some 12 year old gamer crushes you on a first person shooter and laughs at you for being an old man with terrible reflexes sprinkled with some other colorful language and riddled with slang you don’t understand.

Quality

The sticker material itself is of good quality. It is not flimsy nor will it easily tear. These are of quality vinyl, the type that is removable. Although, I can’t verify the durability of them, they are claimed to be water proof.

So, I guess I’ll find out how they hold up over time. I figure, as long as they hold up for a few years, I will most certainly have my value out of them.

Material appears to be of good quality.

Just by tugging on the material, it appears to be tough, as far as stickers go. I do like that these are vinyl and will remove without leaving residue, or at least, too much residue. It will be interesting to see if the sticker I put by my palm rest starts to peel up on the edges or fades out due to wear.

Final Thoughts

Though I have never been a big sticker / customize your computer kind of guy, I really do like these stickers. They express more than just the brand logo of the manufacturer as to where my priorities like with my technology. Also, since I did put this on a business class machine, there is very little likelihood that it would be confused with anyone else’s corporate machine, should I find myself in such an environment again.

I do believe my tone has changed on the notion of making your personal computer a bit more personalized. I am not going to go sticker crazy but a few stickers that express my almost unhealthy obsession with the openSUSE project is just right for my laptop and other computers.

References

https://www.redbubble.com/
http://opensuse.org
HP EliteBook 840 G7 running openSUSE Tumbleweed

Dell Latitude D630 Retirement

With the digit changes into the new year, so goes some changes for the layout of the tech in my home. My new HP EliteBook needs a place besides my lap or in a computer bag and my Dell Latitude D630 that has been beside my main machine has been getting less and less use due to the encumberment of the Nvidia GPU. This D630 has served me well since I purchased it new from Dell in 2007.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I purchased my gently used Dell Latitude E6440 and put my Latitude D630 on a standby state. It’s been a good computer that has seen many adventures of my life from my extended time in other countries to playing calm music in the background for the birth of my three children. I have upgraded and fixed this machine more times than most people would consider doing but now, it is time to remove it from its active reserve status to full retired.

Dell Latitude D630 in 2017

I won’t actually get rid of the machine, I’ll keep it going, turn it on periodically to update openSUSE Tumbleweed but it won’t stay on. The computer would be fine if not for the Nvidia GPU as its closed source, proprietary nature, along with being abandoned by Nvidia means I can only use the Nouveau drivers which are,, unfortunately, a bit ropey.

I performed the last update as it sits on a dock station at my stand up desk. One quick sudo zypper dup to get things updated and tested before I shut it down. Thankfully, everything continues to work well, albeit the GPU troubles and it all shut down cleanly. In a way it is a bit sad for me to retire it, but it was time.

After a bit of dusting and wiping the shelf off, I placed the HP EliteBook in its new place. Since the D630 was also a 14″ machine, this fits well though it is a bit smaller, and that is fine.

Just below, on a lower level of the desk, I placed the Dell TB16 Thunderbolt 3 dock station to provide power and an extension of functionality. Since the computer is without an SD Card reader I will eventually purchase one and attach it to the dock station. I will perhaps add a monitor too but that is not really a priority.

Final Thoughts

I know it is silly to anthropomorphize a computer but I can’t help but to have a kind of connection with the technology. It has been a tool to get my work done, entertained, educated and allowed me to explore many aspects of tech for many years. It was also the first business grade laptop I purchased from the manufacturer that I spent countless hours researching. I really believe I would continue to use it if not for the Nvidia GPU as performance wise, it does a great job in many other aspects.

What this has cemented for me is that I will avoid proprietary hardware, like Nvidia from this point forward. I will most certainly steer clear of anything where I am limited by the corporate decisions of a company that cares little about the long term viability of their products.

References

Dell Latitude D630
Dell Latitude E6440
HP EliteBook 840 G7 running openSUSE Tumbleweed