Open Source Musings


While PDF files have their uses, they can be a bit of a pain to work with. That's especially true when you need to mash two or more PDF files together — say, when you're adding a cover to a book.

To do that deed, you can use a pair of tools that I introduced a while back. Or you can jump to the command line and use software that's probably already on your computer. For the command line junkie, the latter option might be the preferred option.

Let's take a look at a quick and dirty way to combine PDFs at the Linux command line.


If you were building web pages back in the 1990s, you might remember all of the dedicated HTML editors that were out there. If you were anything like me, you tried more than a couple of them.

Most of those editors have faded from memory, their bits and bytes dispersed ... well, wherever they've been dispersed to. One of the few that survived on the Linux desktop is Bluefish. And it survived for a good reason. Bluefish is a solid HTML editor that's actually more than an HTML editor.

Let's take a look at it.


How the heck did I miss this bit of news?

It was a sad day in August, 2019 when the editorial team at Linux Journal announced that the publication would be riding into the sunset. But what a difference a year (and a bit) makes.

Linux Journal has a new lease on life, this time under the ownership of Slashdot Media. According to the official announcement:

It took some time, but fortunately we were able to get a deal done that allows us to keep Linux Journal alive now and indefinitely. It's important that amazing resources like Linux Journal never disappear.

Hear, hear!

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #news #linuxjournal

If write the same type of document regularly — whether it's an article, book, paper, or blog post — using a template can save you a bit of time when you're getting started. Instead of going through the whole process of firing up an application and setting up a document from , using a template can save you a bit to time when you're getting started.

In GNOME, the templates for the types of documents that you regularly create can be just a right click away. Literally. Here's how.

(Note: I've also used this feature with various flavours of Ubuntu. It might also work with other desktop environments — just don't quote me on that.)


Ah, the PDF file. Like it or not (and there are many standing on both sides of that line), the PDF has somehow, in some way, become ubiquitous. It's become a de-facto standard document file format.

Nowadays, a range of different applications and tools can spit out PDFs with the click of a button or an option added to a command line. Generating a PDF is one thing. Manipulating one is something else. On the Linux desktop, there are several utilities which can do just that. Let's take a look at two of them.


Everyone learns in different ways. Some like to learn from experience — by poking around and breaking (and fixing) things. Others like to take courses, while some people learn best from books.

When it comes to Linux, there's no shortage of books on the subject. Since I started using Linux in 1999, I've read more than my share of those tomes. One that I've been meaning to write about for a while is Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches by Steven Ovadia.

The name of the author might sound familiar to you. Steven Ovadia, if you don't know, runs the Linux Rig blog and does the excellent The Linux Setup interview series. So he knows a thing or three about Linux. But how does Ovadia's knowledge and enthusiasm translate into a book? Let's find out.


In a previous post, I looked at using the lowriter command to convert word processor files to different formats supported by LibreOffice Writer. That post also included a brief mention of the commands for converting spreadsheets and slide decks.

After publishing that post, another way to convert files at the command line using LibreOffice popped into my memory.

Run this command to do a conversion:

soffice --headless --convert-to [file-format] [file-name].[file-extension]

(You might be wondering about the --headless option. That just stops an empty, and mildly annoying, LibreOffice window from opening on your desktop when you do a conversion.)

You can use that command to convert individual file or do a bulk conversion. If, say, you want to convert a Word file to PDF, use this command:

soffice --headless --convert-to PDF myFile.docx`

For example, use the command below to convert all Microsoft Excel files in a folder to ODS (the format used by LibreOffice Calc):

soffice --headless --convert-to ods *.xlsx

Why use this method instead of the one I wrote about previously? It works with all formats supported by LibreOffice. And you only need to remember one command, rather than the commands for each component of the LibreOffice suite.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #cli #opensource #libreoffice

Recently, I came across some documents that I'd written at a former Day JobTM. A company that uses That Other Word Processor. You know the one I mean ...

I wanted to convert those files to both ODT and PDF. Opening them individually in LibreOffice Writer to do the deed would have been a chore. Plus, I'm lazy. So I needed to find a different solution.

Then I remembered that you can run LibreOffice Writer from the command line. Really! And, in doing so, you can convert files in bulk. To do that, crack open a terminal window. Then type:

lowriter --convert-to [file-format] *.[file-extension]

To convert the files I wrote using that other word processor to ODT, I typed:

lowriter --convert-to odt *.docx

In a few seconds, I had a bunch of ODT files. I did the same thing to create a bunch of PDF files, just substituting odt in the command with pdf.

You can convert between files in any format that LibreOffice Writer supports. You can also convert individual files. Just type the name of the file at the end of the command.

But what about spreadsheets and slide decks? You can also use the —convert-to option with the commands localc (LibreOffice Calc) and loimpress (LibreOffice Impress) to convert a file or to do a batch conversion.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #cli #opensource #libreoffice