Will Google Open-source The On2 Video Codec VP8?

Newteevee has recently reported that Google will possibly open-source the VP8 video codec next month. VP8 was developed by On2, the company which Google acquired in February.

on2-logo

This news comes at times when there is an ongoing battle among the H.264 and the Ogg Theora video codecs to gain control of the Open Web’s video format. However, Google will introduce VP8 as a new and prospective candidate even though it had announced the H.264 video codec for YouTube earlier.

On2 video compression claims that,

With On2 VP8, we set out to increase compression performance over On2 VP7 and leading H.264 implementations by 20% while reducing playback complexity by 40%.

Ryan Lawler at Newteeve writes,

The move comes as online video publishers are gravitating toward standards-based HTML5 video delivery, bolstered in part by the release of the iPad. However, that acceptance has been slowed by the fact that the industry has yet to agree on a single codec for video playback, with some companies throwing support behind  Ogg Theora and others hailing H.264 as the future of web video.

This move totally dampens the battle between H.264 and Theora, the currently leading web video codecs. Experts believe that H.264 provides a better video quality and playback as compared to Theora. Though, Theora has got quite a following owing to its open-source nature and absence of licensing issues.

Currently, H.264 is supported on Internet Explorer 9 and Safari whereas Opera and Firefox support Theora. Google Chrome supports both these video formats. If things go as per this plan, Google Chrome and Firefox will be the first ones to see support for VP8.

Apache Cassandra Version 0.6 Release

Apache Software Foundation has recently announced the release of the Apache Cassandra Version 0.6. Apache Cassandra is a leading Open Source, NoSQL distributed database management system.

apache-software-foundation

Cassandra is best described as,

Apache Cassandra is an advanced, second-generation “NoSQL” distributed data store that has a shared-nothing architecture. The Cassandra decentralized model provides massive scalability, and is highly available with no single point of failure even under the worst scenarios.

Clearly, it is a NoSQL database system and has a decentralized model making all the distributed components participating equally and eliminating the need of a single management point. This makes it reliable and prevents failures.

Cassandra is widely popular and is used in services like Cisco WebEx, Cloudkick, Digg, Facebook, Rackspace, Reddit, and Twitter. Facebook is an integral part in the development of Cassandra.

Chris Goffinet, Performance and Availability Architect of Digg commented on this release saying,

Digg is very excited to see Cassandra mature in the last year and graduate to a top-level Apache project. Cassandra is powering our next generation infrastructure, and allowing us to run in an environment that demands data access in datacenters around the world.

The new features in the version 0.6 are mainly speed centric. There is a 30% speed improvement in speed. Another feature is the Integrated Row Cache. This eliminates any need for an external caching layer. This makes the implementation and deployment a lot simpler.

The new version of Cassandra brings good news in times when Internet users and website loads are increasing tenfold.

Download Cassandra at http://cassandra.apache.org

Fedora 13 Beta Released

500px-RH-Fedora_logo-nonfreeFedora 13 Beta was just released a few hours ago. Named Goddard, the final version of Fedora 13 will sport many new features such as KDE 4.4, latest builds of the XFCE environment and Sugar Learning Environment apart from the usual bug fixes and functionality additions.

If you are looking for the bigger catch, wait up for the final release in the middle of May this year. For those restless, download the beta iso from here. And of course, if you don’t know your way around bugs and geeky mosquitoes, don’t download this. The Beta is presumably the last crucial milestone of Fedora 13, and as such, only critical bugs will be fixed now for the coming final release.

The Beta has a number of new features, such as automatic print driver installation with the help of PackageKit; new software such as ShotWell photo manager, Pino microblogging client; NetworkManager improvements over bluetooth and mobile broadband connectivity; support for the latest iPods and iPhones and 3D graphics support backed solely by open source drivers.

That’s not all. There’s also better color management: so your documents bear the same color on screen and on paper. Also, the user management portal has been completely redesigned for easier access and use.

The above is the feature-list that may interest the end user, Fedora 13 has got several goodies for both developers and administrators as well. Developers get easier Python debugging when using gdb and support for NetBeans Java EE 6 among other features. For sys admins, there’s quite a few improvements with BFO (allows users to download a single, tiny image and install current and future versions of Fedora without having to download additional images), SSSD (provides expanded features for logging into managed domains), IPv6 support, support for Zarafa Groupware (Microsoft Exchange alternative) among others. Check out a detailed feature list here.

Install Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 using Wubi

Just couple of days ago, Canonical had announced the release of the second beta of Ubuntu Linux. I wanted to try out the second beta ( I haven’t tried the 10.04 series yet) – but being a beta version I thought I’ll do a Wubi install, instead of a traditional install. Once I mounted the ISO file and launched Wubi, I ran into a roadblock.

Wubi on the beta ISO proceeded to download the current stable version,i.e., Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, instead of proceeding to install Lucid. I thought I had downloaded the wrong ISO image, so I went back to the releases page, and just as I was about to redownload the ISO, I spotted at the very end of the page, a link to wubi.exe. Feeling curious to try it out, I proceeded to download, and voilà! Wubi install of Lucid was underway.

Bad news, however is that if you’ve already downloaded Lucid CD image, Wubi will proceed to re-download the ISO image. I tried putting my downloaded ISO image in wubi\install folder, and tried to start Wubi install. That, however, resulted in Wubi asking me to uninstall the existing version. In the end, I had to download the CD image again.

If you want to know more about Wubi and how to do a dual boot Windows and Linux install, do refer to our previous guide on dual booting Ubuntu and Windows using Wubi.

Getting iPhone Internet Tethering Working in Linux

I’ve owned couple of mobile phones now, all in increasing number of features. But the one thing that remained common amongst all of them, was the ability to use a tethered Internet connection in both Windows and Linux. Until I got the iPhone, that is. With the iPhone, I could no longer use the iPhone as a modem in Linux. Not anymore.

I was recently researching about claims that Ubuntu could sync with the iPhone, even the non-jailbroken ones. I was a little skeptical about this. What I found was libimobiledevice, and the iPhone Ethernet driver for Linux. I’ll write on libimobiledevice at a later day.

Let’s have a look at the USB Ethernet driver: The iPhone USB Ethernet driver was written by Diego Giagio, and is a kernel driver which adds support for iPhone tethering through USB cables. Like libimobiledevice, the driver doesn’t require you to jailbreak your iPhone, so bonus marks here.

Let’s start on how we can achieve this. This post is written from a Ubuntu/Debian system perspective, if you’re using some other distribution, the steps should remain same, with the exception of getting the packages via your favourite package manager.

First: Get the source from Diego’s git repository. If you don’t have git installed, open the terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install git-core

Once git is installed, get the source for the drivers

git clone git://github.com/dgiagio/ipheth.git

The output should be something like

sathya@shaman:~$ git clone git://github.com/dgiagio/ipheth.git
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/shaman/ipheth/.git/
remote: Counting objects: 10, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (9/9), done.
remote: Total 10 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
Receiving objects: 100% (10/10), 8.11 KiB, done.
sathya@shaman:~$

Now, compile the pairing program.

cd ipheth/ipheth-pair

make

You should get an output like:

sathya@shaman:~/ipheth/ipheth-pair$ make
gcc -Wall -O2 ipheth-pair.c -o ipheth-pair -liphone

Next, type:

sudo make install

You should get an output like:

sathya@shaman:~/ipheth/ipheth-pair$ sudo make install
install -m 0755 ipheth-pair /lib/udev/
install -m 0644 90-iphone-tether.rules /etc/udev/rules.d
/sbin/udevadm control –reload-rules
sathya@shaman:~/ipheth/ipheth-pair$

Compile the Kernel driver:

cd ipheth/ipheth-driver

make

You should get an output like:

sathya@shaman:~$ cd ipheth/ipheth-driver
sathya@shaman:~/ipheth/ipheth-driver$ make
make -C /lib/modules/2.6.28-15-generic/build M=/home/sathya/ipheth/ipheth-driver modules
make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.28-15-generic’
CC [M] /home/sathya/ipheth/ipheth-driver/ipheth.o
Building modules, stage 2.
MODPOST 1 modules
CC /home/sathya/ipheth/ipheth-driver/ipheth.mod.o
LD [M] /home/sathya/ipheth/ipheth-driver/ipheth.ko
make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.28-15-generic’
sathya@shaman:~/ipheth/ipheth-driver$

The kernel module is ready. Now load the module.

sudo insmod ipheth.ko

We’re all set to try the new driver out. Now connect the iPhone. The iPhone should get detected, as shown in the picture.

To confirm that the USB Ethernet driver is in use, open the terminal and type

dmesg | grep iPhone

You should get an output like:

sathya@shaman:~/ipheth/ipheth-driver$ dmesg | grep iPhone
[22871.808469] ipheth 2-2:4.2: Apple iPhone USB Ethernet device attached

Yay! That means the USB Ethernet driver is ready. Lets switch on Tethering on the iPhone.
Switch on iPhone tethering

Lets see what happens. Prior to installing the driver, I would get no notification and nothing would happen. Not now.

To confirm that we have indeed connected using iPhone let’s have a look at Network Manager connections:

iPhone tethering done

And there you go, iPhone tethering on Linux!

Notes:
1: You need to have tethering option enabled with your service provide to use this tip. From what I know, tethering is not officially allowed under AT&T’s plan, so I don’t think this method will work.
2: I tested this on my iPhone 3G running on iPhone OS 3.1.2. Although mine is a jailbroken iPhone, the author mentions that jailbreaking is not required.

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 Available For Download

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 is now available for download. Although it has some small changes, it does not have any striking difference from the earlier Beta 1. If you are using Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 1 with regular updates, there is no need to install the Beta 2 for you. If nothing goes wrong, this is will be the final beta before the final release.

You can download Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 2 from http://www.ubuntu.com/testing/lucid/beta2.

Here is a brief overview of the changes that Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 have:

  • The windows control buttons are still on the left but their order have been changed to Close, Minimize and Maximize.
  • The new Ubuiquity slideshow is now live.
  • Ubuntu One can sync Firefox bookmarks and mobile contacts.
  • Rythmbox finally has the UbuntuOne Music Store plugin.
  • New logos and icons in GDM and various other locations.

[image via WebUpd8]

What Is The best Linux For Beginners? KGB Says It Is Ubuntu or Fedora

Before you assume that we are talking about KGB, the Russian Security Agency, the KGB we are talking about is a service which provides answers to your queries for $0.99.

Ken Hess form DaniWeb, asked KGB the question, “Which Linux distribution is the best for new users?”

The answer KGB gave is very interesting. This is the exact reply he got:

“The best one is the one that works best for you. Try something easy like Ubuntu or Fedora. Try different Distros. After all, Linux is free.”

Of course, the first, third and fourth sentences are nothing interesting and are what you would expect from just about anyone. What is interesting is the second sentence – “Try something easy like Ubuntu or Fedora”.

Ubuntu and Fedora are like completely opposite to each other. While Ubuntu focuses on stability, Fedora tries to stay at the bleeding edge of technology and implements countless many new technologies. This often results in various problem in Fedora. Of course Ubuntu is not without problems too. Because of its focus on stability, new technologies generally takes longer to come to Ubuntu. This might be frustating for power users but for newbies, in my opinion, Fedora is not a very good option.

What do you think is the best Linux for beginners? Let us know through the comments.

Firefox in Ubuntu Coming Back to Google Search

We had earlier reports of Ubuntu 10.04 using Yahoo search as the default option on its Ubuntu Linux. One of the two major changes announced by Rick Spencer was,

The default search homepage will change to the Yahoo! search homepage if we change the default search engine preference to Yahoo!. If we do not change the default search preference to Yahoo!, the current Google search page will remain intact as the homepage. This change currently applies to Yahoo! and Google only.

However, now Ubuntu is surprisingly switching back to Google search as the default. This time as well, we have Canonical’s desktop engineering manager,  Rick Spencer detailing this change saying,

Earlier in the 10.04 cycle I announced that we
would be changing the default search provider to Yahoo!, and we
implemented that change for several milestones.

However, for the final release, we will use Google as the default
provider. I have asked the Ubuntu Desktop team to change the default
back to Google as soon as reasonably possible, but certainly by final
freeze on April 15th.

That would not be a surprise as earlier, Rick Spencer said Ubuntu was entering a revenue sharing deal with Yahoo!. Now, we all know here that a similar deal with Google gives much better financial returns. Or as d0od at Omg!Ubuntu says,

it could be that they found most users where switching the search back to Google anyways.

IBM Upsets the Open-Source World | TurboHercules and IBM Mudslinging Each Other

We had earlier covered the news of TurboHercules filing antitrust charges against IBM. That incident was in response to IBM when it laid charges against TurboHercules. IBM says, TurboHercules violates 173 of IBM’s patents.

Now, IBM has clearly denied those charges.  This attitude of IBM has upset the whole of the Open-Source community. Back in 2005, IBM assured them with promises of not using its patents to trouble Open-Source. But now, it is acting otherwise.

In a letter dated 11th March, 2010, IBM’s Mark Anzani, vice president and CTO for System z technology wrote,

Your suggestion that TurboHercules was unaware that IBM has intellectual property rights in this area is surprising. Your product emulates significant portions of IBM’s proprietary instruction set architecture and IBM has many patents that would, therefore, be infringed.

According to this statement, TurboHercules which is a ten year old company is stealing. That is partly outrageous on part of IBM but it can be justified to some extent.

Firstly, IBM has made wide monetary contributions to the growth and promotion of Open-Source and expects at least some trust from the community.

Secondly, the multiple statements released by IBM are contradictory and are prone to critical attack. Though, this does not definitely make them guilty.

Another statement from IBM makes them look like the good guys when they say,

Since TurboHercules is a member of organizations founded and funded by IBM competitors such as Microsoft to attack the mainframe, we have doubts about TurboHercules’ motivations and qualifications, and we will be interested to learn if that company will comply with the rules of the Open Source community.

However, IBM is acting in its own interest largely and this action is a clear attempt to save all the investment it had made into the mainframe business. Though, IBM surely does not get to call who is not fit to be a part of the Open-Source world.

[ Via: eWeek and linuxinsider ]

Ubuntu Claims 12 Million Users Even Before Lucid Lynx, But on What Basis?

Canonical is gearing up for the release of its latest OS, the Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. This release of Ubuntu will mark a major overhaul in design, features and boot time.

At a strategic time just before the release of its Lucid Lynx, Canonical has released data relating to the number of Ubuntu users worldwide. This report estimates Ubuntu users at 12 million. That is a major 50% increase over the last 18 months.

Chris Kenyon, vice president for OEM at Canonical said,

We have no phone home or registration process, so it’s always a guesstimate. But based on the same methodology that we came up with for the 2008 number, our present belief is that it’s somewhere north of 12 million users at the moment.

This is not even close to Fedora’s claims of its desktop installation user base of 24 million. The new Ubuntu marks a milestone with its LTS release. This release will be supported for the next three years.

Though, there are two worries here.

Firstly, how exactly are those estimates made? How does Canonical calculate its Ubuntu user? Which specific service in Ubuntu is used to do this? This will help us estimate the error margin in the calculation.

Secondly,  isn’t Ubuntu the most popular Linux distro? How comes Fedora has not even a close number, but exactly double of Ubuntu Linux users?

You must see an interesting discussion topic at Slashdot and a post at Linuxplanet giving more info on this.