Tips & Tricks for Ubuntu

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Rotating PDFs

If you use Evince as your PDF viewer, you can easily rotate PDF documents if they arrive askew. Just, press Ctrl+Right arrow to rotate the document to the right by 90-degree increments or press Ctrl+Left arrow to rotate them in the opposite direction.

ATI Graphics: Turning Off Fan Noise

A rather irritating bug in Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10 happens for some users with the newer ATI graphics cards. This bug might extend to Ubuntu 13.04 as well – at press time, no solution was found, but a bug report exists [2].

If you're using the fglrx proprietary ATI graphics driver, then along with great graphics performance, you also get an annoying bug: When you aren't using the desktop for a while, the screen goes dark with an accompanying screen lock. That's not so bad, except the fan starts whirring at full speed, even if you're not doing anything. When you return to the desktop to check on the problem, it stops. So, what's happening? An SSH connection shows where the problem lies: Compiz uses all the CPU, which sets off the fan.

The problem can be resolved, but the bug report suggests two competing workarounds. For the first, go to the Dash and enter AMD to start the AMD Catalyst Control Center. Click 3D | More Settings and move the Wait for vertical refresh slider until the text On, unless application specifies appears under it. Then, click Apply and OK to change the setting. Give the computer a bit of rest and wait for the back screensaver to appear. If the fan noise doesn't return after a few minutes, you're good to go.

If the problem persists, you can try the second workaround: Install the compizconfig-settings-manager package and invoke the CompizConfig Settings Manager by entering CC in the Dash. Navigate to the OpenGL entry and remove the checkmark from the Sync to VBlank option (Figure 3). Close the Settings Manager and, in a few minutes, see whether the problem has been fixed. During testing, this second workaround let me rest easy.

Figure 3: According to a workaround, the Catalyst Control Center can turn off the annoying fan noise, but during testing, the CompizConfig Settings Manager worked better.

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