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Lowell Heddings

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

Ubuntu Linux, like all unix varieties, includes the du command line utility. du stands for Disk Usage, as I’m sure you assumed.

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Ubuntu Linux includes a great Disk Usage Analyzer GUI tool that will let you figure out what files and folders are taking up all the space on your hard drive. This is one of those great little tools that should be bundled with every operating system.

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When you are creating a new Windows Forms application, it isn’t immediately obvious how to get a configuration file for your application. Your application configuration file is supposed to be called executablename.exe.config, and should be in the same directory as your application in order for the .NET framework to automatically use it.

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Ubuntu Linux has an option for font smoothing that isn’t turned on by default for some strange reason. This makes fonts significantly smoother, enough to be very noticable.

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Most people realize by now that using instant messaging from work can be easily tracked and logged. If you have access to an SSH server anywhere (mine is at my house) then you can setup a quick SOCKS proxy to forward all of your traffic through your home SSH server, and your employer won’t even know that you are chatting by monitoring the network.

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Linux has a rich command line experience that can sometimes be a little daunting for people switching over from Windows. Displaying the list of recent commands is pretty simple, though:

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Important Note: According to the Ubuntu Help:

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Upgrading Ubuntu has gotten simpler over time. The graphical utility makes it a breeze to upgrade to the next version. This HowTo should work for any beta version in the future, but keep in mind that installing beta software should only be done by those that are sure they know what they are doing.

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You’ve just thought of a great new layout for your blog… but making changes to your blog while visitors are accessing it is generally a bad idea, especially if you are running an ad-supported blog. This How-To shows you the list of steps you need to take to get a copy of your production WordPress blog copied down to your local Ubuntu machine. (Should work for any debian linux)

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I am constantly infuriated by the amount of spam I get in my email account every day. To quote a friend of mine: “Honestly, this should be the number one issue in the world today. Forget declaring war on random countries, let’s declare war on spam, and institute the death penalty while we are at it!“

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Using the Remote Desktop client usually lands you in a seperate session on the windows server. There are times, however, when you might want to be able to connect to the console directly instead of being in a seperate session. This is how.

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If there is one bloated and unnecessary service that you should immediately disable, it’s definitely the Indexing Service built into Windows XP. The idea behind it is that you can search for files more quickly if it is enabled….  but you are using Google Desktop for that, right? 

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Fast User Switching is a way for users to quickly switch between accounts without having to fully log off. This is just one more service that doesn’t really need to be started.

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It’s frustrating enough when your application crashes. Then the annoying dialog expects you to “Send an Error Report to Microsoft”. As if I want Microsoft to know exactly which programs I’m running on my computer.

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Social bookmarking/news links are extremely popular these days. There are a ton of different websites out there, from the Digg.com’s to del.icio.us and furl. I personally only really use del.icio.us, but whatever your choice, you can be sure that you will have visitors that use at least one of the different services.

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One of the gripes I’ve always had with the built-in WordPress functionality is that you can only specify the number of posts per page across the entire application, as opposed to being able to customize it per section or page. Thanks to a wonderful plugin by Matt Read, you can fix this easily.

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Firefox, like many popular browsers, includes a built-in functionality to save your password. Often we’ll use the saved password feature so often that we’ve completely forgotten our password when we need to login to the same website on another computer. Here’s how to locate your saved password.

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This is a pretty common task, but it’s surprising how many PHP newbies don’t know about it yet. If you want to see the structure of your PHP Array, all you need to do is this:

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A hidden functionality in Windows allows you to right click on a file, select Copy To Folder or Move To Folder, and the move to box will pop up and let you choose a location to either copy or move the file or folder to.

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Like anything else on linux, it’s easiest to do things from the command line. Open up a terminal window and type in the following commands

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You will often have the need to access data that resides on another server, whether you are writing an online RSS aggregator or doing screen scraping for a searching mechanism. PHP makes pulling this data into a string variable an extremely simple process.

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Apache gives you a list of files in an empty directory by default, but sometimes you will want to show a list of files that are in a directory through PHP so that you can customize the output of the list, and make a “pretty” listing of files. Here’s the basic code to make a list.

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Note: I’ve written an updated article for both Vista and XP

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There are a number of ways to kill a process if you know the name of the process. Here’s a couple different ways you can accomplish this. We are going to assume that the process we are trying to kill is named irssi

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A useful technique for your applications is allowing them to parse command line arguments. This can give a lot of extra functionality to your application, for instance to pass the name of a file to open on the command line.

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