Press Room

Press Release: April 7, 2005

"Linux Desktop Hacks": One Hundred Ways to Customize Your OS

Sebastopol, CA--The Linux desktop has come a long way. Flocks of would-be users who were put off by its early lack of polish or aesthetic flaws are now revisiting Linux and finding an operating system and applications that give Windows a run for its money. When it comes to choice, desktop usability, and features, Linux actually surpasses Windows in many ways, contend Nicholas Petreley and Jono Bacon, authors of Linux Desktop Hacks (O'Reilly, US $24.95). "Just as many productivity applications are available for Linux as for Windows, and it's surprisingly easy to run Microsoft Office applications directly on Linux," they note. Moreover,, the Ximian Evolution email and scheduler (a Microsoft Outlook clone), the Firefox browser, and countless other programs make it possible for users to leave Windows behind and never miss a feature.

"Admittedly, there are a few glitches to fix--features that still require you to edit text files and a few other holes to fix here and there," Petreley and Bacon tell readers. "But we no doubt are entering the age of the Linux desktop."

Linux Desktop Hacks shows readers how they can customize and configure Linux to make it easier, more powerful, and more fun to use. The authors include hacks to spiff up the boot experience with graphical startup screens, creative ways to log, and various ways for multiple users to access the same machine at the same time, each one using the graphical desktop they like best. They also show how to extend the capabilities of the graphical desktop and offer tips for those who prefer to do most of their work at the text-mode console.

"Linux is an expansive and capable piece of technology," says Bacon. "As such, it seemed that Linux Desktop Hacks was a natural choice for a book. There are many unique ways of hooking together different tools on the Linux desktop to create fun and interesting results."

Linux Desktop Hacks demonstrates how easy it is to modify Linux to suit individual purposes. The book is packed with tips on customizing and improving the interface, boosting performance, administering the desktop, and generally making the most out of what X, KDE, Gnome, and the console have to offer. "People who love tinkering with technology will love the book," notes Bacon. "It will help readers optimize their use of the desktop but it will also open their eyes to the vast array of different ways that they can hack the desktop."

From the practical to the whimsical, the hacks in the book include the following, and more:

  • Kill and Resurrect the Master Boot Record
  • Energize Your Console with Macro Music Magic
  • Konquer Remote Systems Without Passwords
  • Run KDE on the Bleeding Edge
  • View Microsoft Word Documents in a Terminal
  • Read Yahoo! Mail from Any Email Client
  • Motion Capture and Video Conferencing Fun
  • Automate Your Life with cron
  • Protect Yourself from Windows Applications
  • Make an Internet Connection Using Bluetooth and a Mobile Phone
  • Print to Unsupported Printers
  • Accelerate Your Gaming
  • Anyone who has wanted to customize Linux for greater ease-of-use, productivity, or just plain fun will find one hundred tips and tools in Linux Desktop Hacks to do just that.

    Additional Resources:

    Linux Desktop Hacks
    Nicholas Petreley and Jono Bacon
    ISBN: 0-596-00911-9, 318 pages, $24.95 US, $34.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

    About O'Reilly

    For almost 40 years, O’Reilly Media has provided technology and business training, knowledge, and insight to help companies succeed. Our unique network of experts and innovators share their knowledge and expertise through the company’s Safari training and learning platform and at O’Reilly conferences. As a SaaS learning platform, Safari delivers highly topical and comprehensive technology and business learning solutions to millions of users across enterprise, consumer, and university channels. For more information visit

    Return to: O'Reilly Press Room

    Press Contacts

    Media Relations – Corporate & North America

    Fama PR

    Media Relations – Japan

    Fumi Yamakawa
    +81 3-3356-5227

    Media Relations – United Kingdom

    Helen Codling
    +44 (0) 1252 721284