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 Linux Productivity Magazine May 2010 Dump Powerpoint: Better Presentations Through Beamer

Copyright (C) 2010 by Steve Litt. All rights reserved. Materials from guest authors copyrighted by them and licensed for perpetual use to Linux Productivity Magazine. All rights reserved to the copyright holder, except for items specifically marked otherwise (certain free software source code, GNU/GPL, etc.). All material herein provided "As-Is". User assumes all risk and responsibility for any outcome.

 How did you do that? Were you using the command line? Where was your development environment? How did you know what to do? Can you tell me how to do that? How did you change that file? They never taught us any of that in school!  --  SA neigbor upon seeing me comple a Java applet on the command line.

# Editor's Desk

##### By Steve Litt
Presentations are great if used right. My Universal Troubleshooting Process courseware is a presentation. A Powerpoint presentation, as a matter of fact. Powerpoint is not without its problems, however.

First, my business has run off Linux for the last nine years. My only Windows is a headless Win98 box in the corner, running a Microsoft Office version from the Twentieth Century. This box's Powerpoint presentations are easily read on the latest Windows boxes, but how long will it stay that way?

Many Linux sycophants turn cartwheels patiently explaining to me that I can author my Powerpoint on OpenOffice. I say to them -- have you ever tried to do this, and if so have you seen the result on a true Windows machine? It's usually ugly as sin. Plus, I know as a Linux guy I'm supposed to say how wonderful OpenOffice is, but from the perspective of working well, I prefer Microsoft Office.

So I have the following horrid choice:
1. Use 12 year old OS and Office software on an inconvenient, headless box, knowing sooner or later its output won't be readable on modern Windows boxes.
2. Use difficult to author OpenOffice to produce a product that looks great on OpenOffice with Linux but looks horrid on the destination Windows machines.
Which would you prefer -- to be boiled in oil, or slide down a bannister made of razor blades? There has to be a better way, and that better way is the subject of this Linux Productivity Magazine issue.

The better way is to program your presentations in markup language instead of fingerpainting them with wordprocessors such as OpenOffice Impress or Microsoft Powerpoint. The better way yields a PDF file playable on any computer with Adobe Acrobat Reader (basically any modern desktop computer). The work-product of the better way looks identical on any computer. The better way works with Linux, Windows and Mac, both for authoring as well as playback. The better way requires no special software on the destination end, except for Acrobat Reader, which pretty much everyone has.

Speaking for myself, I see exactly one disadvantage of the better way -- my client can't modify my presentation. I'll need to do the modifications for them. Not a problem because once I know Beamer, modifications are pretty easy. And of course, ability to modify is a two edged sword -- when the presentation can be user-modified, unauthorized people can easily remove my copyright notices or insert text that clearly is not in the spirit of the Universal Troubleshooting Process.

The better way, producing presentations with markup instead of a specialized wordprocessor, can be done many different ways:
• Beamer/LaTeX
• Beamer/LyX
• Prosper/LaTeX
• Prosper/LyX
• S5/LaTeX (http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/s5/)
• Powerdot/LaTeX
• Probably many others
I chose Beamer because it's the best known, well documented, has a great reputation, is featureful and configurable. Mainly because it has such great documentation.

The rest of this Linux Productivity Magazine issue discusses making presentations with Beamer. Enjoy!

# Hello World with Beamer/LaTeX

##### By Steve Litt
Make the following hello.tex file:
 \documentclass{beamer} \begin{document} \title{My First Beamer Presentation} \begin{frame} \titlepage \end{frame} \end{document}

Now compile and view it with these three commands:
1. latex hello.tex
2. latex hello.tex
3. dvisee hello.dvi
Note that if you don't have the dvisee command on your computer, you should either install it or find some other command to view the .dvi file.

If things have gone properly, the three previous commands will pull up this screen:

What you just did was create a presentation with only a title page. You compiled and displayed it. Congratulations!

# A Multipage Presentation and Compile Script

##### By Steve Litt
The preceding article walked you through making and compiling a one page (title page only) presentation. This article expands on that by making a second page that's an ordinary slide, creating a compile script, and then compiling it all the way to a .pdf file instead of stopping at .dvi.

Start with the compilation script, makepdf.sh, hard coded to compile a tex file called hello2.tex. The script looks like this:
 #!/bin/sh # DEFINE THE FILENAME SANS EXTENSION texfilename=hello2 # DEFINE DERIVED FILENAMES texfn="$texfilename.tex" dvifn="$texfilename.dvi" psfn="$texfilename.ps" pdffn="$texfilename.pdf" # MINIMIZE CHANCE OF ERRONEOUS DELETIONS # BY VERIFYING THE .tex FILE EXISTS if ! test -f $texfn; then echo "$texfn DOESN'T EXIST, REFUSE TO DELETE, ABORTING."    exit 1 fi echo fell through # DELETE ALL DERIVATIVE FILES, RETAIN THE .tex tempfile=mktemp echo Storing .tex in $tempfile mv$texfn $tempfile rm -f$texfilename.* mv $tempfile$texfn # BUILD THE PDF latex $texfn latex$texfn   #### MUST RUN latex TWICE FOR ACCURATE RESULTS dvips $dvifn ps2pdf$psfn # VIEW THE RESULT if test -f $pdffn; then acroread$pdffn;    echo succeeded compiling $texfn to$pdffn else    echo    echo    echo "ERROR OPENING $pdffn"; echo echo fi The preceding script first defines the name of the file to be compiled. Although this version of the script hard codes that name to hello2, it could easily be changed to an argument value. After defining the filename (sans extension), derived filenames are defined based on it, one for .tex, one for .dvi, one for .ps and one for .pdf. The next section checks for the existance of the .tex file, and if it doesn't exist, aborts with an error message. The reason is, you don't want to do a mass delete if there's no .tex file -- it's probably a mistake that could delete valuable files. The next section mass deletes all files with the proper filename and any extension, except for the .tex extension, which is saved in a temporary filename and restored after the mass delete. Now that only the .tex file exists, the next section compiles it to .pdf. Finally, the last section displays the resulting .pdf if there is one, otherwise it displays an error message. Because the derived files were deleted before attempting to build the .pdf file rather than afterwards, the derived files can be used to troubleshoot. Now that you have the build script, create the following hello2.tex:  \documentclass{beamer} % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame} \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame} \frametitle{First Page} \begin{itemize} \item This is my second Beamer presentation. \item How do you like it? \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document} In the preceding, everything between \begin{frame} and \end{frame} defines one slide. This may not always be true, but in this simple example it's true. The items in the itemize environment represent bullet points. Now compile your hello2.tex like this: ./makepdf.sh After several seconds of processing, the command should pull up the finished two page slideshow in Acrobat Reader, and should look something like this: ## Yes, It's Ugly and Simple The preceding is ugly as sin and simple as whitebread toast. Don't worry -- there are plenty of Beamer themes to make it look the way you want it to look, many Beamer and LaTeX commands to make it look the way you want, and if you really want to, you can create your own Beamer theme. You can have colors, banners, logos, fonts, and contextual navigation information to your heart's content. So don't worry at this point that your presentation is ugly and simple. ##### Steve Litt is the author of the Troubleshooting: Just the Facts. Steve can be reached at is email address. # Using Themes ##### By Steve Litt As mentioned, you can customize the look of your presentation with themes. Themes change the look of every page, so your presentation still comes out looking consistent and professional. Copy your hello2.tex to theme_experiment.tex and then add the following line of code right after the \documentclass{beamer} line: \usetheme{Madrid} The preceding invokes the "Madrid" theme, which renders slide titles as white print on blue background, which is much more aesthetically pleasing. It also puts the author, presentation name, and date in the footer of each page. Remember to change your compilation script so the filename is theme_experiment. Here is the result: See how nice it looks now? Try replacing the Madrid theme with the following themes, recompile, reload Acrobat Reader, and notice the changes: • Warsaw • AnnArbor • PaloAlto • Boadilla • Singapore There are many more themes. Some put titles in a background, some don't. Some have footers, some don't, and some put different things in their footers. Some have sidebars to contain information. The best way to find the themes supported on your computer is like this:  slitt@mydesk:~$ locate Madrid | grep -i beamer /usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/beamer/themes/theme/beamerthemeMadrid.sty slitt@mydesk:~\$

If the preceding doesn't work (because you don't have the Madrid theme), try this:
locate -i beamer | grep -i theme
The preceding command will bring back lots of lines, but from those lines you'll be able to figure out where Beamer puts your themes.

Familiarize yourself with the various themes so you can get closer to your ideal presentation.

# Changing Fonts and Colors

##### By Steve Litt
Most of the default fonts and colors from most of the Beamer-supplied themes look great. But sometimes you want to change something. No problem, you can do it.

Start by copying theme_experiment.tex to fonts.tex. Change the compile script to compile fonts.tex. Now compile it and look at it in the Acrobat reader. Look specifically at the title on the title page and the title on the first regular slide. They look similar to each other in font family, size, weight and the like.

Now add the following two commands right below the \documentclass command:
• \setbeamerfont{frametitle}{size=\huge, shape=\itshape}
• \setbeamerfont{title}{family=\ttfamily, size=\huge,series=\bfseries}
Recompile, and you'll see that both the presentation title and the title on the first slide are larger. The presentation title is monofont and bold, while the title of the first slide is now italic. The \setbeamerfont{}{} command takes two arguments. Argument 1 is the presentation component, which can include:
• title
• frametitle
• normal text
• background canvas

Here's how you can define your own color called mylightblue:

\definecolor{mylightblue}{RGB}{128,128,255}

After that statement, which goes before the \begin{document} statement, you can use mylightblue anywhere you could use a Beamer defined color like red.

## Assigning Colors to Elements

Copy hello2.tex to colors.tex, and change makepdf.sh to compile colors.tex. Compile colors.tex and verify that the result looks the same as hello2.tex:

Now add the lines shown in red in the following listing:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}
Compile and view. It looks like the following:

The presentation title is blue on red, just like you specified. The frame title is red on blue, just like you specified. The footer foreground is purple, just like you specified. But the footer background is white, even though you specified the footer background to be green. Oh oh!

# Footer Backgrounds and other Footer Tricks

##### By Steve Litt
The preceding article showed that the footer doesn't display the background you specify. In fact, it displays the background of the whole page. In order to specifically specify a background for a footer, you need the footer to throw up a colored box. Copy colors.tex to footers.tex, and modify makepdf.sh to compile footers.tex. Compile and verify it looks the same as in the last article:

Now make the additions marked in red and the deletions marked in violet:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} % \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{%    \begin{beamercolorbox}{footline}%       I love that dirty water.    \end{beamercolorbox}% } % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}
The preceding code does the right thing, almost:

The footer is indeed backgrounded in green, or at least most of it. But there's a disturbing white area at the margins of the footer. Not to worry. Watch this:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} % \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{%    \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth]{footline}%       I love that dirty water.    \end{beamercolorbox}% } % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}
Adding the [wd=\paperwidth] to the beamercolorbox brings the green background out to the edges. The only remaining problem is now the text starts right at the edge, which isn't what you want. So add the leftskip= to the wd= and watch what happens:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} % \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{%    \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth, leftskip=0.4in]{footline}%       I love that dirty water.    \end{beamercolorbox}% } % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}

It ends up looking sharp, as follows:

Perhaps you want text in the footer that wraps past a line. No problem, make the footer text huge and make more of it:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} % \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{%    \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth, leftskip=0.4in]{footline}%       \begin{Huge}I love that dirty water. Boston you're my home.\end{Huge}    \end{beamercolorbox}% } % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}
The preceding code produces the following footer:

You can line break the footer by placing \par{} before the word "Boston":
 NOTE Be aware that the typical ~\\ line break doesn't work, because it translates into a comma within the Beamer document class. So you must use \par instead.

Last but not least, we can use property ht= to govern the height of the color box, and property dp= to govern where the text sits within the height:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} % \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{%    \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth, leftskip=0.4in, ht=1in, dp=0.2in]{footline}%       \begin{Huge}I love that dirty water.\par{}Boston you're my home.\end{Huge}    \end{beamercolorbox}% } % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}

The preceding code produces the following document:

I'll leave you with this hot-dog code -- the patriotism footer. Consider this code:

 \documentclass{beamer} \definecolor{purple}{RGB}{128,0,128} \setbeamercolor{title}{fg=blue,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{frametitle}{fg=red,bg=blue} \setbeamercolor{footline}{fg=purple,bg=green} \setbeamercolor{headline}{fg=black,bg=white} % \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{I love that dirty water.} \setbeamercolor{colorset1}{fg=black,bg=red} \setbeamercolor{colorset2}{fg=black,bg=white} \setbeamercolor{colorset3}{fg=black,bg=blue} \setbeamertemplate{footline}[text line]{%    \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth, leftskip=0.4in, ht=1.5in, dp=0.0in, vskip=.1in]{footline}%       \begin{Huge}I love that dirty water.\par{}Boston you're my home.\end{Huge}       \vskip .3in       \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth,ht=0.1in, vskip=.3in]{colorset1}%       \end{beamercolorbox}%       \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth,ht=0.1in, vskip=.3in]{colorset2}%       \end{beamercolorbox}%       \begin{beamercolorbox}[wd=\paperwidth,ht=0.1in, vskip=.3in]{colorset3}%       \end{beamercolorbox}%    \end{beamercolorbox}% } % DOCUMENT CODE \begin{document} \title{My Second Beamer Presentation} \author{Me, myself and I} % CREATE TITLE PAGE WITH TITLE DEFINED EARLIER \begin{frame}    \titlepage \end{frame} % FIRST NONTITLE PAGE \begin{frame}    \frametitle{First Page}    \begin{itemize}       \item This is my second Beamer presentation.       \item How do you like it?    \end{itemize} \end{frame} %END OF DOCUMENT \end{document}

The preceding code produces this slide. Note the red, white and blue footer:

##### By Steve Litt
 In the slide to the left, notice the tiny navigation icons just above the green-backgrounded footer, on the right side of the page. They're distracting yet not visible enough to work with. In a real presentation with a real presenter, the last thing that's needed is navigation. As a presenter, you'll probably have a remote mouse that advances one slide when you left-click and backs up one slide when you right-click. I'll be the first to admit, an easy way to resize, switch back and forth from fullscreen, and go to a specific page are nice things to have. But nobody's manually dexterous enough to operate the navigation icons with a wireless mouse, so you'll need to go to the computer. If you go to the computer, you might as well use hotkeys. Hotkeys are discussed in the next article.

Removing the navigation icons is as simple as adding the following command before the "begin document" line:
\setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}

##### By Steve Litt

 Ctrl+L Toggle to and away from fullscreen Ctrl+Shift+F8 Gets rid of the top bar in fullscreen No hotkey to undo this Ctrl++ Zoom in Pan with cursor keys Ctrl+- Zoom out Ctrl+N Go to page Type page in popup. This doesn't work on some Acrobat Readers Ctrl+PgUp Go to first page (title page) Ctrl+PgDn Go to last page Ctrl+Shift+F Search Pulls up search dialog box, searches from current page Ctrl+G Next instance of search term F8 Toggle toolbar Not in fullscreen F9 Toggle menubar Not in fullscreen

# Why Not PowerPoint?

##### By Steve Litt
What's so great about Beamer? Why not just use Powerpoint, or if you're a Linux guy, OpenOffice Presenter?

Let's dispense with the OpenOffice question first. Hey, I'm a Linux advocate and a free software advocate, but I'm sorry, OpenOffice isn't something to which I'd entrust a presentation necessary for business. It doesn't look the same on Windows computers, and I've seen it retroactively change styles. Nobody needs that noise.

MS Powerpoint is, in my opinion, much better than OpenOffice Presenter. It does the right things with styles. It's pretty straightforward. Every business setting you're likely to see has a computer with Powerpoint, ready to show your presentation, and your presentation will look the same as it does on your computer.

But of course, Powerpoint isn't free software. You need to purchase it, and you need to keep proof that you legally own it. Every few years you need to pay for a later version.

Then there's the fileformat thing. Older Powerpoint versions kept the data in a binary format, meaning you can't easily convert it to another format if need be, at least not without Powerpoint itself. Newer versions keep the data in an XML variant, but the XML is so complex and obfuscated it's not much better than binary. Contrast that with LaTeX/Beamer, whose data is trivially simple LaTeX commands.

If none of the preceding "why not Powerpoint" arguments sounds especially convincing, I'm not surprised. I've saved the best reason for last...

Consistency! When you do a Powerpoint presentation, you actually have to try to make things consistent, and it's all too easy to fingerpaint a Powerpoint presentation into an "each page is on its own" hodgepodge. Contrast that with Beamer. Beamer does a good job separating content from appearance, so unless you try very hard to make it otherwise, every page in your document will have the same look. It's easy to globally change that look for all pages, but it's much harder to change one page at a time. That's a good thing.

And yet, if you absolutely need to, and if you're good at LaTeX, you can pretty much do anything you want with an individual page in Beamer.

# Why Not LyX

##### By Steve Litt
All but two of the books I sell were written in LyX. The Instructor Notes for my courseware was written in LyX. In my opinion, LyX is the greatest tool known to man for pounding out two or three thousand words per day of prose. The greatest thing about LyX is you never need to mess with tags or code while you're pounding out content. You just use LyX's menu driven user interface, and unseen by you, LyX inserts the LaTeX tags and codes so that your document will render correctly. Best of both worlds -- the consistency, beauty, and content/appearance separation of LaTeX typesetting, with the brain dead ease of a wordprocessor interface. I would NEVER write books in LaTeX. Instead, I write books in LyX, which is basically a front end to the LaTeX typesetting language.

But presentations are nothing like books. Books have about 500 words per page, whereas a well written presentation has between 30 and 70 words per page. Also, text in books spills from one page to the next, whereas text on slideshows is meant to exist on a specific page. Another thing: Most text in a book is body text with a few headlines. Almost every line of a presentation is a headline.

The bottom line is this. LaTeX beamer code is very readable, has a line to line correspondence with the output, and in my opinion is easier to understand than the corresponding LyX treatment of Beamer. I find LaTeX authoring of Beamer presentations easier and quicker than LyX authoring of those same presentations.

But the cool thing about Beamer is that if you're not a LaTeX power user, you can author Beamer presentations in LyX very easily.

# Life After Windows: Just Say No to Microsoft

##### By Steve Litt
Microsoft has made a fortune convincing the populace that they're too stupid to work in an editor or a command line.  That's hogwash.

As someone whose IT career began in the early 80's, I've seen for myself. I've seen legal secretaries work with command lines, as well as 80x25 text interfaces augmented with menus, picklists and forms. I've seen legal secretaries fix problems when IT didn't send troubleshooters fast enough. I've seen data entry personnel (they were called "keypunchers" back then because they hammered out big production due to the all-keyboard interface) who knew just what to do. I've seen developers (they were called "programmers" back then because the world was a little less pretentious) work just fine with generic editors and make files. Even lawyers and executives had no trouble with 25x80.

Indeed, before 1990, anyone with an open mind could minipulate text-interface computers. Then Microsoft brought out Windows 3.0 and spread the word that people were too dumb to use text interfaces. Corporate America bought this line of malarky, and the rest is history. We're slaves to our mice.

Don't get me wrong. I'd hate to use Gimp or Inkscape without a mouse and graphics. If you're making graphics you need a graphical interface. I use Mozilla rather than lynx -- graphics and fonts are important in a web page. I even enjoy the graphical interface in LyX because it gives me a rough idea of what my finished product will look like, without having to recompile. Also, it word wraps nicely.

But some things are better off being text. I think one of those things is presentation creation. Presentations are pretty standard. On each slide you have a title, maybe a subtitle, some bullet points, and a footer perhaps sporting a copyright notice and contact information. In other words, you have maybe five to ten specific items. Tell me one more time just so I understand -- why do I need to do this graphically in Powerpoint? Why can't I just use my favorite editor to enter five to ten items per slide, with a one to one correspondence to their "avitars" on the slide?

Is the graphical interface so I can space the items differently on different pages? Why would I want to do that? Is it so I can use different fonts on different pages? Why would I want to do that? Is it so I don't have to use tags? Are tags really that much harder than picking out styles in a graphical environment? Is the following really so bad?

 \begin{frame} \frametitle{Summary} \framesubtitle{Ten Minutes to Better Troubleshooting}         \begin{itemize}         \item Don't try to fix it, just try to narrow it down         \item Ask: How can I narrow it down just one more time?         \item Measure more, think less         \item Evaluate the Quadruple Tradeoff         \item Maintain a productive attitude         \item Understand intermittents         \end{itemize} \end{frame}

If you ask me, the preceding is easier than a graphical authoring environment. the tags give exact context. Once you've done one slide, you can just copy to the next and the next and the next. It's fast as all getout.  It's readable. And if you absolutely need to tweak individual elements on a page, you can do it with a little bit of LaTeX code.

Steve Ballmer wants you to believe you're too stupid to write the preceding code. I have more confidence in you.

# GNU/Linux, open source and free software

##### By Steve Litt
Linux is a kernel. The operating system often described as "Linux" is that kernel combined with software from many different sources. One of the most prominent, and oldest of those sources, is the GNU project.

"GNU/Linux" is probably the most accurate moniker one can give to this operating system. Please be aware that in all of Troubleshooters.Com, when I say "Linux" I really mean "GNU/Linux". I completely believe that without the GNU project, without the GNU Manifesto and the GNU/GPL license it spawned, the operating system the press calls "Linux" never would have happened.

I'm part of the press and there are times when it's easier to say "Linux" than explain to certain audiences that "GNU/Linux" is the same as what the press calls "Linux". So I abbreviate. Additionally, I abbreviate in the same way one might abbreviate the name of a multi-partner law firm. But make no mistake about it. In any article in Troubleshooting Professional Magazine, in the whole of Troubleshooters.Com, and even in the technical books I write, when I say "Linux", I mean "GNU/Linux".

There are those who think FSF is making too big a deal of this. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The GNU General Public License, combined with Richard Stallman's GNU Manifesto and the resulting GNU-GPL License, are the only reason we can enjoy this wonderful alternative to proprietary operating systems, and the only reason proprietary operating systems aren't even more flaky than they are now.

For practical purposes, the license requirements of "free software" and "open source" are almost identical. Generally speaking, a license that complies with one complies with the other. The difference between these two is a difference in philosophy. The "free software" crowd believes the most important aspect is freedom. The "open source" crowd believes the most important aspect is the practical marketplace advantage that freedom produces.

I think they're both right. I wouldn't use the software without the freedom guaranteeing me the right to improve the software, and the guarantee that my improvements will not later be withheld from me. Freedom is essential. And so are the practical benefits. Because tens of thousands of programmers feel the way I do, huge amounts of free software/open source is available, and its quality exceeds that of most proprietary software.

In summary, I use the terms "Linux" and "GNU/Linux" interchangably, with the former being an abbreviation for the latter. I usually use the terms "free software" and "open source" interchangably, as from a licensing perspective they're very similar. Occasionally I'll prefer one or the other depending if I'm writing about freedom, or business advantage.

# How to Submit an Article

We anticipate two to five articles per issue. We look for articles that pertain to the GNU/Linux or open source. This can be done as an essay, with humor, with a case study, or some other literary device. A Troubleshooting poem would be nice. Submissions may mention a specific product, but must be useful without the purchase of that product. Content must greatly overpower advertising. Submissions should be between 250 and 2000 words long.

Any article submitted to Linux Productivity Magazine must be licensed with the Open Publication License, which you can view at http://opencontent.org/openpub/. At your option you may elect the option to prohibit substantive modifications. However, in order to publish your article in Linux Productivity Magazine, you must decline the option to prohibit commercial use, because Linux Productivity Magazine is a commercial publication.

Obviously, you must be the copyright holder and must be legally able to so license the article. We do not currently pay for articles.

Troubleshooters.Com reserves the right to edit any submission for clarity or brevity, within the scope of the Open Publication License. If you elect to prohibit substantive modifications, we may elect to place editors notes outside of your material, or reject the submission, or send it back for modification. Any published article will include a two sentence description of the author, a hypertext link to his or her email, and a phone number if desired. Upon request, we will include a hypertext link, at the end of the magazine issue, to the author's website, providing that website meets the Troubleshooters.Com criteria for links and that the author's website first links to Troubleshooters.Com. Authors: please understand we can't place hyperlinks inside articles. If we did, only the first article would be read, and we can't place every article first.

Submissions should be emailed to Steve Litt's email address, with subject line Article Submission. The first paragraph of your message should read as follows (unless other arrangements are previously made in writing):

Copyright (c) 2003 by <your name>. This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License, version  Draft v1.0, 8 June 1999 (Available at http://www.troubleshooters.com/openpub04.txt/ (wordwrapped for readability at http://www.troubleshooters.com/openpub04_wrapped.txt). The latest version is presently available at  http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/).

Open Publication License Option A [ is | is not] elected, so this document [may | may not] be modified. Option B is not elected, so this material may be published for commercial purposes.

After that paragraph, write the title, text of the article, and a two sentence description of the author.

## Why not Draft v1.0, 8 June 1999 OR LATER

The Open Publication License recommends using the word "or later" to describe the version of the license. That is unacceptable for Troubleshooting Professional Magazine because we do not know the provisions of that newer version, so it makes no sense to commit to it. We all hope later versions will be better, but there's always a chance that leadership will change. We cannot take the chance that the disclaimer of warranty will be dropped in a later version.

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