Category Archives: Open Source Software

Screenshot Preview of Kubuntu Netbook Remix

kubuntu-icon I recently tried the newest version of the Kubuntu Netbook Remix (KNR). As you may already know, the newest versions of Ubunutu 10.4 LTS (Lucid Lynx) and Kubuntu were recently released.

I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Gnome desktop in Ubuntu, but I still like to check out the KDE versions in Kubuntu, just to see what’s new. This release of the Kubuntu Netbook Remix, is really a great operating system for netbook users. I’ll show you what it looks like below.

Loading it onto the netbook was an easy task for me. I simply downloaded the 776mb ISO file from the download page. Then I burned it to a 2Gb SD Flash card using Unetbootin.

kubuntu-download

Here are the screenshots:

1. The Newspaper Page

This page is revealed when you click the Newspaper’ button on the top task bar. The image below is actually a screenshot of the last version of Kubuntu. Somehow, I totally missed seeing this page when I gave it my test run. As you can see, it has a task list, calendar, weather report, sticky notes and image viewer.

kubuntu-screenshot-newspaper

2. The home screen

This first screen shows you the major categories of applications and settings. At first, I had no idea why there was an Installicon at the very top, all by itself. Later I found out that this section at the top is the favoritessection. You can add your favorite apps to this section by clicking on the little star you see when you hover over an application’s launch icon.

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3. The Office’ applications

Everything you need for your mobile office is included. I use the Open Office apps almost exclusively when I’m at home or on the road. Who needs the big dollar MS Office Suite when you can get the same functions for free?

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4. Education software

I can’t tell you much about the applications in the educational section. I’ve never used them.

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5. Games!

That’s my favorite section and I was happy to see my favorite game, Mahjongg. You might recognize some of the others as your favorites.

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6. Graphics

A good selection of image viewers and editors. I think they need to put Gimp back in though.

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7. Internet applications

There are tons of internet apps here. Browsers, Email, and a Blog editor are the main ones I’ve used. I was surprised to find that Firefox was not installed. However, they have a nice little launcher here that made it simple to install.

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8. Multimedia apps

I have never used any of these three apps. However, I’m told that Amarok is an awesome music manager.

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9. System tools

Everything you need to tweak your system is here.

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10. Utilities

Several handy and must have’ utilities are included here.

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11. Application switching (method 1)

The first way I found to switch the application displayed, was to click on the apps runningbutton on the top taskbar. It gives you a nice overview of the apps currently running. Just click on the one you want to use.

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12. Application switching (method 2)

The second method to switch running apps, is to use the ALT + Tab keys. This takes you into the awesome looking 3d task preview. It will certainly get some attention when someone is looking over your shoulder.

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Summary:

I enjoyed the few minutes I spent trying out Kubuntu Netbook Remix. I was amazed at how well it ran on the very limited resources that my netbook has. The KNR team has really put together a big winner here. However, it’s not enough to steal me away from the UNR (Ubuntu Netbook Remix) that I love even more.

Ubuntu 10.10 Will Not Have GNOME-Shell

Ubuntu users who are waiting for GNOME-Shell will have to wait at least till Ubuntu 11.04.

In the Ubuntu Open Week Q&A Session following the Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx release, Mark Shuttleworth has announced that GNOME 3’s most hyped feature, the GNOME-Shell is not going to be present in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. They may, however, consider having it by default in Ubuntu 11.04.

GNOME-Shell [Image via Digitizor]

In the Q&A Session, the question regarding the GNOME-Shell was the first question that was asked. Here is the question and Mr. Shuttleworth’s answer:

QUESTION:

Will Gnome Shell be in default Maverick? If so, what will happen with Gnome Shell and Compiz? Will Compiz still work by default? If not, will there be an easy way to use Compiz?

ANSWER:

The current release schedule puts Gnome Shell out of bounds for Maverick, but it will be packaged and available from universe. We’d encourage people to try it, and it would be great if someone put together a daily build PPA so folks who are very interested could track development and help fix bugs. It’s very interesting work, and there are important new technologies, and lots of things to consider. The more folks use it and think about it, the better our decisions will be for 11.04.

The decision is actually a very sound one. GNOME 3 is scheduled to be released in September 2010, just one month before the Ubuntu 10.10 release. So, that does not give enough time to the Ubuntu developers to work on GNOME-Shell, after all with the changes that Ubuntu has been bringing to the default GNOME interface (left side windows control buttons, windicators etc.), it will take some work to get the new GNOME-Shell interface working with the planned setup.

However, if you want GNOME-Shell, you can install it from the Universe (It is available even Karmic).

You can read the full transcript of the Q&A session  here.

Whats Up With Canonical Licensing H.264?

Recently there was a lot of speculation on why Ubuntu went out of its way to license H.264 and discarded Theora in the process. This made Canonical the only company dealing in Linux to license H.264. It was highly expected of Ubuntu to license Theora though this licensing of H.264 comes as another blow to the already losing out Theora codec.

There were further talks on this matter and Canonical’s Chris Kenyon talked to the H-Online saying,

The good news is that there are other ways of enjoying video content and we strongly believe in the work to establish open source codecs. We offer strong support for Ogg Vorbis in our standard images.

This means that Theora still rules regular distros while H.264 is used in OEMs only. He has strictly assured here that the matter is of importance only in case the device comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. Thus, it is valid only for OEM installs and not for other regular versions. Further, the vendor also has options to exclude the H.264 codec from its offering.

Canonical simplifies this by saying,

Like Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Fluendo, RealPlayer, DVD players and other proprietary software, we have a direct re-distribution agreement for H.264.

Linux Mint 9 Isadora Release Candidate Now Available for Download

Linux Mint started off as a tiny project, but has managed to gain a fairly large following over the years. Distrowatch ranks it as the third most popular Linux distro, after Ubuntu and Fedora. In many ways, Linux Mint is Ubuntu simplified.

Mint-9-Software-Manager

Linux Mint 9 is based on the recently released Ubuntu 10.04. If you are an existing Mint user, you will feel right at home, since this release looks and feels the same as Helena. The planned metallic visual refresh was dropped from this release due to performance issues. However, this is not to say that there aren’t big changes in this release.

Some of the major changes in Linux Mint 9 are:

New Software Manager

Mint-9-Software-Manager

The Software Manager was re-written from scratch and now integrates the best ideas from the original Software Manager, Gnome App-Install and the new Ubuntu Software Center. Get access to around 30,000 packages along with user reviews with the new software manager.

New Backup Tool

The backup was also re-written and features huge improvements. You can now backup your files, software selection and system preferences with Mint’s Backup Tool.

Mint4Win

Mint4Win – the Windows installer for Mint (based on Wubi) makes a comeback in this release.

Improved Appearance

Mint 9 includes new artwork (wallpapers), with tons more being available from the software repository. Mint also includes other visual tweaks including transparent Menu.

The full changelog is available here. Be aware that this is an RC release and has several known issues.

[ Download Linux Mint Isadora ]

Launchpad PPA Upgraded to 2 GB

Launchpad has made an important  announcement this week. The earlier PPA size limit of 1 GB has been upgraded to a new limit of 2 GB. With this new size, the Personal Package Archives will now be able to host more files and provide better applications.

Launchpad is a  web application and  web site supporting software development, particularly that of  free software. Launchpad is developed and maintained by  Canonical Ltd.. On 21 July 2009, the source code was released publicly under the  GNU Affero General Public License.[2] As of August 2009, the launchpad repository hosts more than 13,000 projects. The domain  launchpad.net attracted 1 million visitors by August 2009 according to a  Compete.com survey.

Although Launchpad has provided sizes larger than 1 GB on special request earlier, this move ensures that you will get 2 GB from the very beginning. Existing PPAs larger than 2 GB will remain unchanged.

This announcement was made at the Launchpad blog by Matthew Revell.

Upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx from Karmic Koala

Upgrading to Ubuntu Lucid Lynx is quick and  easy. There are two methods available for the upgrade. You can either do it online or, you can use the Alternate Install CD from Ubuntu.

If you prefer to do it online, follow this step by step guide here. Though, if you do not have a reliable internet connection, a better option is to do it offline. To start with, get hold of the Alternate Install CD.

First  download the ISO from this location.  Now you have three options. Burn the Alternate CD ISO to a disk, transfer it to a thumb drive or mount the ISO locally.

If you choose the last option, mount the ISO with this command:

sudo mount -o loop /dir/ubuntu-10.04-alternate-i386.iso /media/cdrom0

Here “dir” is the path to which you have copied your Alternate Install CD ISO.

As soon as the mount is complete, a dialog will pop up asking you to upgrade. Complete the steps and let it install. This will upgrade your system to Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx LTS. Enjoy.

(Via: Webupd8)

Windows 7 Vs. Ubuntu 10.04 Graphics

Phoronix has recently conducted a total of 165 graphics tests on six different hardware configurations comparing Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 using their flagship Phoronix test suite. That level of benchmarking is enough to give us some impressive amount of data.

They ran games from various engines and tested their performance on all these configurations. The results were astounding. Quoting them,

The Intel Linux graphics driver is the real loser in these tests where it is easily and always clobbered by the Intel Windows. While the Intel Linux graphics driver is open-source and has made great strides over the past quarters with kernel mode-setting, a new 2D acceleration architecture (UXA), in-kernel memory management (GEM), a migration to DRI2, and other improvements, its performance is a joke.

It is unlikely we will see Intel’s Linux graphics driver recoup any of these major performance losses anytime soon as they are not even committed to switching to the Gallium3D architecture that is faster than the classic Mesa DRI drivers.

Ubuntu recorded a win with the NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX where it beats Windows 7 by a significant margin.

This clearly shows that, even though there has been development relative to what Ubuntu Graphics has been in the past, it is not developing as fast as graphics on Windows.

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition To Have Global Menu

In a blog post, Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition will have a single menu bar for all the applications. He believes that this design change will make the most of the vertical space that a netbook screen has.

If you have used a Mac, you would probably know what a global menu is. In a global menu, the application menus like File, Edit, Settings etc. are part of the panel and all applications share this menu. Here is a screenshot of a Mac OS X Jaguar to better understand:

Screenshot taken from guidebookgallery.org

This is what Shuttleworth had to say about the reason for the decision:

Netbooks are conventionally small-and-wide-screen devices. A common screen format is 1024×600. There’s plenty of horizontal space, but not a lot of vertical space. So we’ve been lead to explore options that really make the most of the vertical space.

On large screens, the windows and the menu can be very far apart if a global menu is used. This can result in decreased productivity. So, the global menu will be present only in the Netbook Edition and not in the Desktop Edition.

The idea of a global menu is, of course, inspired by Apple, but Shuttleworth plans to do much more than what Apple did. He plans to have the window title and menu along with the menu in the panel. The panel would display the content of the title bar but it will change to the menu when the user moves the cursor towards it.  As the global menu is to be implemented using the d-bus menu, it will work not only with GNOME applications, but with KDE applications as well.

Right now these design changes seems very exciting and Shuttleworth hopes to make Ubuntu 10.10 the best OS for the netbook.

What’s New In Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

Ubuntu 10.04 was released two days back and has been getting a lot of attention due to its new branding, theme etc. On the same day, KDE SC based Ubuntu derivative,  Kubuntu 10.04 was also released.

Here are the new features that made it to Kubuntu 10.04:

New Branding

Just like the new branding that Ubuntu got, Kubuntu also has a new branding for Lucid Lynx. It now has a new logo and icon which are now part of the updated Plymouth boot splash screen.

KDE Software Compilation 4.4

Kubuntu 10.04 comes with the new KDE Software Complilation 4.4. KDE SC 4.4 provides many new features like improved Nepomuk Semantic Search, tabbed windows etc.

Better Firefox Integration

In Kubuntu 10.04, Firefox is integrated more closely. Firefox now respects the KDE settings on the default applications to handle certain file-types etc. It also uses the native KDE file dialog.

Amarok 2.3

Kubuntu 10.04 comes with the latest version of Amarok i.e Amarok 2.3. Amarok 2.3 brings new features like equalizer, new toolbar etc.

Kubuntu Netboot Remix

The Kubuntu Netboot Remix  is now officially available with Kubuntu 10.04. It uses KDE SC 4.4 plamsa-netbook interface.

You can download Kubuntu 10.04 from here or read the official release note here.

Bugs in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Final Release

Ubuntu 10.04 final release came amidst speculations of bugs like the X.Org memory leak and there are no major bugs till now except for the ones which have been there in Ubuntu core itself for a long time.

A blog has listed down an extensive set of Ubuntu 10.04 (“Lucid Lynx”) bugs. You can see the page at LinuxCommands.com.

  • The major factor giving rise to these bugs are latest untested products and features Ubuntu has put into this supposedly final build. Even Windows 7 pre-beta release was better in this respect.
  • As soon as I started the bootable thumb drive, I saw a welcome bootsplash image which was out of sync from the monitor. Its size being a small boxes, the animation was happening at an odd place.
  • I was unable to connect to the Internet through my TataPhoton Plug2Surf. I had to write a wvdial to even see it detected.
  • The resolution of my system was not detected which was supposed to be the latest feature: “Better support for detection of monitor settings”!

More bugs/reports  will be added to this list as I discover it.