Miscellaneous Linux tips and tricks

Gnome Key Bindings and IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ IDEA key bindings conflict with Gnome’s window manager. In IDEA, I can type CTRL-B to jump to a symbol definition. Normally, I’d type CTRL-ALT-LEFTARROW to navigate back to where I had come from. Gnome’s MetaCity intercepts that key mapping before IDEA sees it, and tries to move my desktop to the left. There are several other Gnome/Metacity key bindings that conflict with IntelliJ IDEA. Rather than remap the keys in Gnome, I found that on Fedora, I could add the Windows key to the mix, and Gnome would ignore it, and pass it along to IDEA. This means that I can type CTRL-ALT-WINDOWS-LEFTARROW to navigate backward, and so forth.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in RHEL 5 and CentOS 5. The solution is to Go to the Gnome menu bar and select System > Preferences > Keyboard (not Keyboard Shortcuts). Then select the “Layout Options” tab, and expand the “Alt/Win key behavior”. Then I select “Super is mapped to the Win-keys”.

Every time I log in after that, Gnome tells me that my X keyboard settings conflict with my Gnome Keyboard settings, and it asks which I want to use. Selecting the Gnome settings is what I want.

Bandwidth limiting downloads with ‘curl’ or ‘wget’

When downloading a large file, it’s nice to be polite to others on the network, so I use the --limit-rate option for curl and wget:

* curl -O --limit-rate 20k http://server.com/linux.iso
* wget --limit-rate=20k http://server.com/linux.iso

GDB TUI (text user interface)

After starting gdb, it’s possible to switch to its text user interface with CTRL-X, CTRL-A. Typing it a second time exits TUI mode.

Vim C++ Auto completion with ctags

I appreciate full blown IDEs in Linux, but I like the quick start up time of vim. Until recently though, I didn’t have C++ auto completion (also known as vim omni completion).

This got me up and running, and was a great resource:

This would have been useful if I was a new comer to vim and ctags:

xdg-open, gnome-open, start, cygstart

How to easily open files and URLs from the command line

  • Linux: xdg-open filename_or_URL
  • Linux: gnome-open filename_or_URL
  • Mac: open filename_or_URL
  • Windows: cmd /c start filename_or_URL
  • Cygwin: cygstart filename_or_URL

Nomachine NX and ALT-TAB

I use the Nomachine NX client from time to time to get a remote-desktop like connection to a remote Linux machine. It’s faster than VNC, but it suffers from not forwarding all of my keyboard shortcuts to the remote end of the connection.

Usually, I start the nxlcient from within a Gnome login session. Gnome happily grabs ALT-TAB before the NX client gets to see it. That’s not what I want. To work around this limitation, I log into a virtual terminal, and start X manually as follows:

Run: startx -- :1 gnome-terminal

From the gnome-terminal, run: nxclient

And then I connect to the remote machine in full screen mode. There’s no local window manager to interfere with my keyboard shortcuts.

Remote desktop and dual screens

I’ve been using Remote Desktop to connect to Windows XP, Vista and 7 machines. Until Windows 7, there was no way for a local computer having dual monitors to connect and have the remote end display across both monitors.

So I used linux’s ‘rdesktop’ program to do it:

rdesktop -0 -a16 -f -rdisk:CLIENT=/home/jared/Desktop -r sound remote.host.com

I notice that in Windows 7, there are some new options in the Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe): /multimon and /span. Or run mstsc /? to list all possible options.

Editing windows registry files on Linux

Use Gedit: gedit --encoding=UTF-16LE myfile.reg

Gvim: LANG=UTF-16LE gvim myfile.reg

If already in gvim: :e! ++enc=utf-16le
or :e ++enc=utf-16le myfile.reg

Convert, edit, convert:

iconv -f UTF-16LE -t utf-8 myfile.reg > myfile.reg.utf8

Edit myfile.reg.utf8, then convert it back

iconv -f utf-8 -t UTF-16LE myfile.reg.utf8 > myfile.reg

How Firefox opens files and mime types

I needed to give Firefox some extra help knowing how to open a custom file type with a custom application. Here’s some helpful information.


Firefox uses mime.types on Linux, as well as other things. I helped Firefox by the mime type to the link in the generated HTML file. Either one of the following seems to work:

* <a href=”file:subdir/file1.cst” type=”application/octet-stream”> open file </a>
* <a href=”file:subdir/file1.cst” type=”application/x-extension-cst”> open file </a>