Converting Graphics on the Linux Desktop with Converseen

Convert it!If you’re a Linux user, then you probably know how spoiled you are when it comes to applications for working with graphics. Whatever you need to do — editing, resizing, viewing, converting — there’s an application for that.

One of the most powerful Linux tools for manipulating graphics is ImageMagick. As powerful as it is, ImageMagick can be a challenge to use. It’s a command line tool, which means quite a few options. That’s not a bad thing, but if you use it infrequently it can be tough to remember those options.

Enter Converseen. It is a graphical version of ImageMagick that focuses on converting and resizing images on the Linux desktop. Not only that, you can do that with more than one image at the same time.

Let’s take a look at how to use Converseen.

Getting Up and Running

The first thing you need to do is download and install Converseen. You can either download and compile the source code, or get packages for Fedora, Ubuntu, and openSUSE.

Once you’ve installed Converseen, launch it. In Ubuntu, for example, select Applications > Graphics > Converseen.

Main Converseen window

Let’s Start Converting!

Click the Add images button. In the dialog box that opens, navigate to the directory containing the images that you want to convert. You can select individual images or you can CTRL+click and select multiple images. If the images that you want to convert span multiple directories, repeat the process.

Then select Edit > Check All Items. This selects all of the images you loaded and tells Converseen that you want to convert them. If you don’t want to convert all of the images at once, click the To convert checkbox beside each image to select or deselect it.

Ready to convert

If you are converting the images to another format and not resizing them, click the Convert to list. Select a format from the list. You’ll notice that Converseen supports dozens of bitmap formats. Converseen can’t work with vector graphics, such as the popular SVG.

For those of you converting your images to JPEG or PNG, you can optionally click the Image settings button to change the amount by which Converseen compresses the resulting image. The more you compress an image, the smaller it is, but you also lose detail the more you compress it.

Changing settings

If you want to resize your images, click the Dimensions checkbox on the left side of the Converseen window. You can shrink or expand your images based on a percentage or on the number of pixels. Click the Maintain aspect ratio checkbox to keep the images in proportion.

Converting ...

When you’re ready to go, click the Convert button. Depending on the number and size of the images that you selected, this could take anywhere upward of a few seconds. Converseen dumps the converted images in your home directory — for example, /home/scott. You can change that in Output options section on the left side of the Converseen window.

Converseen is a fast, simple, and efficient way to convert and resize multiple files. It does the job very well and doesn’t require you to remember long strings of commands. It works as advertised, which is the hallmark of a good utility.

Photo credit: gimSM

Add Amazing Visual Effects to Ubuntu with Compiz

What Compiz Is

Compiz is a compositing window manager, a program that beautifies the desktop with unique animations and special effects. It can make windows wobble when they are moved, and either explode into pieces or burst into flame and disappear when they are closed. Compiz uses your computer’s video card to manage the behavior of windows and other desktop elements.

Compiz is in the stock Ubuntu repositories and comes pre-installed, so there is no need to download or install it. Rather, it needs only the proper video drivers to run, which we cover in a bit. But first, take a look at some of the great visual effects it can offer.

What Compiz Does

One great feature Compiz adds is the ability to view multiple desktops as a 3D cube. You can even view the cube while playing full-screen video.

compiz cube. fullscreen video
Compiz Cube

You can also add custom images to the tops and bottoms of the Compiz Cube.

Top:

Bottom:

You can also view multiple desktops as a set of 2D slides. The default action to start this is to hold the Ctrl + Alt keys and press the Down arrow key. Then, pressing the left or right arrow keys (while still holding Ctrl + Alt) scrolls among the 4 desktops.

It also has effects like drawing fire on the screen:

compiz draw fire on screen

Raindrops falling on the desktop:

compiz raindrops

How To Configure Compiz

3D hardware acceleration is required for desktop effects, so you need a decent video card with the correct drivers installed. To check, click Menu > Administration > Additional Drivers:

linux video driver options
Menu > Administration > Additional Drivers

If no driver is available, then your PC lacks a suitable video card. You can usually buy an older graphics card that can power Compiz for a low price.

After enabling a driver from the list, the computer must reboot for the changes to take effect.

The next step is to click Menu > Preferences > Compiz Config Settings Manager (CCSM) and play with the options:

Cube Deformation is a property worthy of mention. The cube can transform into a cylinder or sphere, depending on what you want. Click Cube Reflection and Deformation:

compiz deformation main screen
Compiz deformation, main screen

Click the “Deformation” tab and you are presented with 3 options: None, Cylinder, or Sphere:

Cube Reflection and Deformation.
CCSM Deformation Options: None (Cube), Cylinder and Sphere

Cylinder:

compiz deform cylinder

Sphere:

compiz deform sphere

Each option takes effect immediately, so there is no need to restart either the desktop or CCSM. Window events like resizing, opening, closing, minimizing and maximizing each have a selection of fun animations:

compiz animation options

Each animation is configurable to a greater or lesser degree. The animation Fire is a good example. It makes windows go up in flames when opened, closed, minimized or maximized (or all 4), with or without smoke:

compiz fire options

Compiz offers hundreds of options, so take some time to explore and in no time you’ll have a desktop environment tweaked to your liking.

View Detailed Graphic Card Information With GPU-Z

One of the most important parts of your PC is its graphics card.  You may need to eventually update your graphics card to run new software or play the newest game.

GPU-Z is a free utility similar to the previously mentioned CPU-Z that provides you with all information available regarding your graphics card and GPU.  These specs can prove to be valuable information when upgrading your PC’s graphics capabilities.

Simply download and run GPU-Z, as no installation is necessary.  The main GPU-Z window is shown below.

GPU-Z is available as a free download for Windows.