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Our group is for the beginner, a regular user or an advanced user of Linux. Our topics are usually short and wide-ranging leaving lots of time for discussion and/or practice. We deal with installing and maintaining the Linux operating system along with its related software. Our topics also may be of interest to Apple or Windows computer users.

Contact: Dave Mawdsley. The Linux SIG meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm at the DACS Resource Center.

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News and NotesNews and Notes
Linux SIG Bits - October 2013 Meeting Report

Tonight's meeting included two presentations: 1. "Using Scientific Formulas Inside a LibreOffice Writer Document," a how-to demonstration using the methods with scientific equations in a Writer document; and 2. "Installing nVidia Support," an example of using proprietary code along with an otherwise open-source Fedora environment to solve a serious video problem.

1.  "Using Scientific Formulas Inside a LibreOffice Writer Document"
(changing plain text formulas to fancy formats)

With any text writer or editor, expressions such as C^2 = A^2 + B^2 are useful and are fairly clear, but they're not very elegant in a nice presentation.  As a quick fix, the expression could be written C2 = A2 + B2 and then just reformat the characters with superscript to make the equation look better such as C2 = A2 + B2 .

Using Microsoft Word 2007, there are some options that might be enough for simple expressions.  Use the 'Insert' ribbon of Word to find some simple pre-made formulas along with an extensive list of math and science symbols at the far right of the ribbon.

A more elegant solution is to use LibreOffice Writer, which is available free for Windows, Apple and Linux. Writer contains an on-board equations editor that can deal with expressions such as C^2 = A^2 + B^2 with ease.  Once written that way in a Writer document, simply select the expression, use Insert > Object > Formula, and the conversion to the desired form is immediate.  Later formatting for font size and bold can be done as well.

As an alternative, when it's time to insert an equation, use Insert > Object > Formula and the equation editor opens and allows for typing in the bottom pane.  Then clicking back in the upper pane changes the typed equation to the form desired.

When the equation editor is open, right-mousing next to the equation typed brings up a list of useful tools such as formatting and special functions.  The View menu also gives the option 'Elements' which reveals standard forms for fractions, integrals, relations and so on—those found in science and mathematics. Chemical formulas, matrices, physics constants, and so on are also possible.

Excellent resources are available to get started in the LibreOffice equation editor:
A. “LibreOffice 3.5 Math Guide Using the Equation Editor” at

B. Full Circle Magazine has a comprehensive write-up in “LibreOffice Special Edition Volume Three” the workings of the formula editor.  The direct link is:  The article featuring the equation/formula editor begins toward the middle of the issue and it is very

2.  "Installing nVidia Support"
(coping with graphic card needs and using proprietary binaries instead of open source ones)

With Linux distributions. generally a new install searches out the hardware as it installs and it automatically assigns the best drivers for that hardware—which it already contains.  Thus when restarting after the install, the final restart process is seamless.  It isn't fool-proof however.  Some hardware can still be outside the accepted list.  When that happens things don't work correctly.

Jim Ritterbusch presented a sticky-wicket issue involving a downloaded binary nVidia card driver to run the video card on his computer.  It seemed that the Linux distribution, Fedora, lacked a required proprietary binary for nVidia.  Jim found that his computer couldn't properly use the existing video card with drivers supplied by Fedora's repositories.  So being creative and brave, he went hunting for a driver that he could successfully use. 

Luck would have it that a working binary was available thus making it unnecessary to manually compile code from a source listing.  However, the binary required that the repository containing it would also have to be utilized. In a sense, that repository is considered uncertified and is generally disallowed by the Fedora community because Fedora prides itself on using only open source code.

After a struggle to install and configure the driver, Jim found that all went well until an update from the regular Fedora repositories installed a new Linux kernel.  The new kernel, once installed, required a reinstall of the same nVidia binary each time it was updated.  I doubt that the average user would be up to this repetitive task—especially when kernel updates appear every week or so.  But Jim's work-around solved the issue. 

Next Linux SIG Meeting
At the November 20th meeting, the topic “Using the GIMP Cloning Tool with Photos” will be presented.  This topic is meant for the beginner using GIMP.  Attendees to our meetings are always welcome to raise topics and issues as they feel the need to do so.  This is the Linux community's normal way of sharing ideas, methods and code.  Our Linux SIG continues always in that spirit.

Join us at our next meeting in the DACS Resource Center of Ives Manor.  Bring your laptop, Arduino or Raspberry Pi and show us a thing or two.  Our meetings are for the beginner, intermediate or advanced user, so topics vary considerably depending upon the needs of the attendees.  Linux topics cover software and hardware along with the joys and sorrows of those using it.


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