Section 2.9. Users Are Complaining There s No ZIP

2.9. Users Are Complaining There's No ZIP

Users who are converting from Microsoft Windows depend on the various ZIP utilities that collect files together in an archive and compress them for easier transmission, such as by email.

You could teach your users about the switches associated with the tar command, but you have to remember the annoyances involved for users who already have problems with Linux.

For regular users, you'll need to create a step-by-step procedure. Your choices are either to create a procedure for using the zip command, for using the Archive Manager (sometimes known as the File Roller), or for connecting to the Archive Manager via the Nautilus File Browser. I provide one example of each in this annoyance.

One more element in this annoyance is how Microsoft uses zip compression, which is different from the bzip and gzip compression formats often popular in Linux archives. Not all Linux distributions install the zip package by default. (Remember to install it for the sake of your users!)

2.9.1. Installing the Components

If you don't install the right components, your users won't find all the features described in this annoyance, and they might believe that you're full of hogwash. (No offense intended to hogs . . . .) For example, if you've forgotten to install the file-roller package, you won't be able to create an archive from the Nautilus utility. To ensure that the techniques in this annoyance work, make sure the following packages are installed:

  • tar

  • file-roller

  • zip

  • nautilus

KDE advocates might notice that I've left out Konqueror and the KDE archive utility, known as ark. As of this writing, these tools don't interact in the same way as the file-roller and Nautilus packages. As you'll see, Nautilus and file-roller work together in a fashion more familiar to Microsoft Windows users. And one key to overcoming the annoyances of regular users is to provide tools they find more familiar. Once installed, Nautilus and file-roller work the same way on the KDE Desktop.

While this discussion may annoy KDE users, my focus is on the best way to get Microsoft Windows users to convert to Linux. Your experience with your Microsoft users may vary. Both desktop environments provide excellent options for those converting from Microsoft Windows.

2.9.2. Helping Regular Users Zip Up

Most Linux geeks prefer to work at the command-line interface, because it includes more capabilities. The process of creating an archive is no exception. But if you want regular users to use command-line tools, you'll have to provide precise explanations. And as regular users work with others who work with Microsoft Windows, you'll have to make sure the archives they create are compatible with Microsoft-based tools.

Some Microsoft-based tools can handle Linux tar archives with ease. Others, including the native tool associated with Windows XP, can handle only Linux archives created with the ZIP-compatible utility.

The following is one example of instructions that you can share with your users. It can can help your users create a .zip archive compatible with Microsoft and Linux zip tools.

If you want to create a Microsoft-compatible zip archive for your files, follow these instructions:

  • If the files you want to zip up (archive) are in your home directory, you can just add them to the zip file of your choice. For example, if you want to add a couple of pictures to a zip file named, run the following command:

     zip mypics picture1.tif picture2.tif 

  • If the files you want to zip are in a subdirectory, add an -r to the line and cite the subdirectory. For example, if you want to archive all of the files in your lageeks/ subdirectory in a file named, run the following command (the -r makes zip recursively save all files in deeper subdirectories):

     zip -r geeks lageeks/ 

  • If you want an archive of your home directory, such as for backup purposes, the following command can place all visible and hidden directories into a file named This command includes hidden files, which contain configuration information rather than your own data:

     zip -r michael . 

  • If you don't want to back up hidden files or directories, change the period to an asterisk:

     zip -r michael * 

  • If you want to create an archive of files with similar names, you can use patterns that combine different kinds of characters. For example, if you want to archive all of your .doc files in your home directory, run the following command:

     zip mydocs *.doc 

You can now use the zipped archive file that you've created. You can copy it to another computer as a backup. You can even transmit this archive by email to other users.

You may want to create an alias for the zip command to automatically include files in lower-level directories. To modify the alias for all users, add a command such as alias zip='zip -r' to the global alias file, which is /etc/bash.bashrc for Debian and SUSE, and /etc/bashrc for Red Hat and Fedora.

2.9.3. Zipping with the Archive Manager

Many users are just more comfortable with the GUI. For those users, you can use (or, better yet, modify) the following directions to help them work with the Archive Manager, also known as the File Roller. I'll show you how to create a zipped archive of your documents in Linux, which you can share with your colleagues who use Microsoft Windows. If any of these instructions do not work, you may not have the required software installed and should contact your administrator.

The actual location of the Archive Manager in the GNOME and KDE GUI menus varies by distribution. If all of your users work with one desktop environment on one distribution, you can substitute appropriate directions from the GUI menu. Even if they work with more than one distribution or desktop, you may want to include directions anyway, in separate lists. After all, these are desktop users.

To create a zipped archive with the Archive Manager, follow these steps:

  1. Press Alt-F2, enter file-roller in the Run Application text box, and click Run.

  2. To create a new zipped archive, click New. This opens the New window. In the Name text box, enter the name you want for your archive for example, mydocs. In the archive type, click the Archive Type drop-down menu and select Zip. Click New when you're finished. This returns you to the main Archive Manager window. You should now see the name of the archive you've selectedin this case, mydocs.zipin the window title.

  3. Click Add. This opens the Add Files window. You can now add the files of your choice to the archive. Click Add to return to the main Archive Manager window. Repeat the process as desired.

  4. Choose Archive Test Integrity. This tests the archive for errors.

  5. Quit. Your archive is now ready for use. Unless youve specified otherwise, the archive is in your home directory.

  6. You can now share the archive. For example, when you're sending an email, you can attach the archive to your email in the same way as you attach any ordinary document or image.

In my opinion, these tools and the associated instructions are still awkward for regular users. They do not match the conveniences associated with WinZip or Windows XP Zip in a file manager such as Windows Explorer. However, there is another alternative.

2.9.4. Archiving and Zipping with Nautilus

As long as you have the packages mentioned earlier in "Installing the Components" installed, you can create zipped archives with current versions of the Nautilus File Browser. It's a fairly straightforward process, which you might document to your users with the following instructions.

I'll show you how to create a zipped archive of your documents in Linux, which you can share with your colleagues who use Microsoft Windows. If any of these instructions do not work, you may not have the required software installed and should contact your administrator:

  1. If you're running the GNOME Desktop Environment, click on the file cabinet on the upper taskbar. If you're running the KDE Desktop Environment, press Alt-F2, type nautilus, and press Enter. You'll see the File Browser open, showing your home folder.

  2. Select the files and/or folders you want to add to your archive. As with Microsoft Windows Explorer, you can use the Shift, Ctrl, and arrow keys to help you select more than one file and folder.

    If you're interested in making your own backups, press Ctrl-A. See how that selects all files in the local directory. (The instructions that follow allow you to create an archive of all regular files in your home directory.)

  3. Once you've selected the desired files and/or folders, right-click. In the pop-up menu that appears, click Create Archive. There may be a slight delay as Nautilus collects the list of files and subdirectories from any directories you've selected.

  4. In the Create Archive window that appears, enter the archive name of your choice. Make sure it has a .zip extension; otherwise, the archive manager may compress your files with a protocol unreadable to users of Microsoft Windows. Click Create. The process is automatic from here.

  5. Once the process is complete, you can inspect your new archive. In the File Browser, navigate to the name of the archive, such as When you double-click on the archive file, the File Browser opens a new window with the files and folders that you just saved in this archive.

  6. You'll now have an archive of your files that you can share with your colleagues who use Microsoft Windows or Mac OS (as well as Linux). For example, when you're sending an email, you can attach the archive to your email in the same way as you attach any ordinary document or image.

If your user is interested in creating a backup of his own home directory, give him some guidelines. If the backup is relatively small and your organization allows such transfers, your user can transmit the backup to a remote system via email. If the backup is larger, you should direct the user to any directories that you've shared over your network. If the user is more capable, direct him to the associated with "I'm Afraid of Losing Data," at the beginning of this chapter. If you allow DVD recording (and the hardware is available), direct the user to the instructions you publish related to "That Command Doesn't Write to My DVD," earlier in this chapter.

Linux Annoyances for Geeks
Linux Annoyances for Geeks: Getting the Most Flexible System in the World Just the Way You Want It
ISBN: 0596008015
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 144
Authors: Michael Jang

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