All posts by Ricky Laishram

Ricky Laishram is a Linux and FOSS enthusiast. He is passionate about open source technologies and likes to keep abreast with the latest developments in KDE and Ubuntu. He also loves listening to music and is a huge Tegan snd Sara fan. You can follow him on twitter @ricky_lais.

Fedora 16 “Verne” Alpha Released – Includes GNOME 3.1, GRUB 2

After a one week delay from the scheduled release date, the Fedora Project has released the first alpha version of Fedora 16, codenamed “Verne”, earlier today. This alpha release is expected to be the only alpha release of Fedora 16. According to the release schedule, this release will be followed by a beta on September 27th and the final release on November 1st.

Fedora 16 Alpha brings a number of new features/updates. One of the main updates is the long overdue upgrade to GRUB 2. Although GRUB 2 is not officially considered stable yet, many other Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, Linux Mint etc., have been using it for some time, and it has been stable enough for normal use. With the transition to GRUB 2, users who dual boot Fedora with another distribution that uses GRUB 2 will not have to manually add the OS in the GRUB menu.

Fedora 16 Wallpaper

In Fedora 16 Alpha, two choices of desktop environments are available by default as always. For those who prefer GNOME, Fedora 16 Alpha comes with GNOME 3.1.5. This version of GNOME is not considered stable and it is expected that it will be updated to GNOME 3.2 before the final release. GNOME 3.2 will fix many of the quirks and annoyances from GNOME 3. For those of you who prefer KDE SC, Fedora 16 Alpha also has a KDE version that comes with KDE SC 4.7 alpha. Like the GNOME version, it is expected to be upgraded to KDE SC 4.7 before the final release.

Fedora 16 Alpha runs on the Linux kernel 3.0. With the release of Linux 3.1 expected in a month or two, the kernel is likely to be updated to Linux 3.1 before the final release.

One feature that did not make it is the switch to Btrfs. Btrfs is a new filesystem that is currently under development. Initially, there was plan to use Btrfs by default in Fedora 16. However the plan was scrapped because Btrfs is nowhere ready for such use. Btrfs will probably be used in Fedora 17 or Fedora 18.

You can view the feature list that is being planned for Fedora 16 and the progress here.

If you want to install Fedora 16 Alpha, you can download it from here. (This is not an unstable release and is meant for testing. Do not install it on production machines.)

Linus Torvalds Announces The Release Of Linux 3.0

Yesterday, Linus Torvalds announced the release of the final stable version Linux 3.0. With the release of Linux 3.0, Torvalds has finally brought Linux out of the 2.6.x series, which had been in development for more than seven years.

tuxLinux 3.0 was actually planned for release in the second week of July, but a bug with the RCU meant that he had to release another RC instead. This is what Linus Torvalds wrote announcing the release:

As already mentioned several times, there are no special land mark features or incompatibilities related to the version number change,it’s simply a way to drop an inconvenient numbering system in honor of twenty years of Linux. In fact, the 3.0 merge window was calmer than most, and apart from some excitement from RCU I’d have called it really smooth. Which is not to say that there may not be bugs, but if anything, there are hopefully fewer than usual, rather than the normal”.0″ problems.

The change in the major version number does not mean new big features. When Linux 3.0 RC1 was announced, Torvalds famously described it as having absolutely no big changes.

However, that does not mean there are no new features/changes with this release. Linux 3.0 brings only incremental changes. Here are some of the new features in Linux 3.0:

  • Automatic defragmentation, scrubbing and performance improvements in Btrfs
  • Wake on WLAN This feature allows the device to go into a low power state while the wireless NIC remains active.
  • Cleancache Cleancache is a feature that uses a memcached-like system to increase the performance of cache memory pages.
  • Support for many new hardware such as the Microsoft Kinect, AMD Llano Fusion APUs, Apple iSight webcam has been added.

You get a more detailed description of the changes here.

With Linux 3.0 released, the merge window for Linux 3.1 has started and it will remain open for two weeks.

The Truth Behind Microsoft’s Contributions To Linux 3.0

A few days back, LWN.net published an article listing the different contributors to the changes in the source code of Linux kernel 3.0. One name on that list that surprised everyone was none other than Microsoft.

According to the article, Microsoft has contributed 361 changes/patches to the Linux kernel 3.0, which makes it the seventh largest contributor to the kernel and fifth largest corporate contributor. Naturally this raises the question as to what it going on here. Microsoft has never liked Linux and has always been insisting that Linux violates their patents (although they have never named the patents.) In 2001, Steve Ballmer, who is currently their CEO, described Linux as a cancer.

Has Microsoft turned a page? Are they embracing Linux and open source software? Well, no they have not turned a page. They are still the same old Microsoft. All their contributions are patches for the Microsoft Hyper-V driver.

In 2009, Microsoft submitted around 20,000 lines of code to Linux. These codes make it possible to run Linux on Windows Server using its Hyper-V technology. However, the Linux developers found a lot of problems with Microsoft’s contribution .

In December 2010, Greg Kroah-Hartman, wrote that the Hyper-V drivers that Microsoft had submitted risk getting removed from the kernel because all the Microsoft developers had disappeared.

“Over 200 patches make up the massive cleanup effort needed to just get this code into a semi-sane kernel coding style (someone owes me a bit bottle of rum for that work!) Unfortunately the Microsoft developers seem to have disappeared, and no one is answering my emails. If they do not show back up to claim this driver soon, it will be removed in the 2.6.33 release. So sad…”

All of the 361 patches that Microsoft has contributed towards Linux 3.0 are simply patches for the Hyper-V driver. They are there only to make it possible for Linux to run on Windows Servers. This contribution should not be interpreted as a change in Microsoft’s attitude towards Free and Open Source Software, and Linux in general.

If we look at the contributions not through the number of changes but through the lines of code changed, Microsoft’s contributions become very small. All of their 361 changes are very small changes and account for a mere 1.3% of the total lines of code changed in Linux 3.0. If the line of code changed is used to measure the contributions, Microsoft comes in at 15th position with Intel, which is responsible for 18% of the changes, taking the top spot.

Scammers Are Using VLC Media Player To Spread Malware

One of the greatest things about an open source project is sharing the source code with everyone, and fixing bugs and adding new features as a community. However some time it gets abused.

largeVLCIn a recent blog post, VLC developer Ludovic Fauvet said that scammers are taking advantage of the availability of the VLC source code to trick users. The scammers are adding malware and adware to VLC and releasing them as the original product.

This is how the scammers work:

  • They get the VLC code and add adware or malware.
  • They release their version of VLC as the original.
  • They buy advertisements using Google AdWords.
  • They earn more money through the malware and adware bundled with their version of VLC.
  • They buy more advertisements.

This is a direct violation of the GPL under which the VLC source code is being distributed. (Obviously the scammers do not care about license violation.) And more importantly, this tarnishes the VLC brand in the eyes of unsuspecting users.

This is what Ludovic Fauvet wrote:

What bothers us the most is that many of them are bundling VLC with various crapware to monetize it in ways that mislead our users by thinking they’re downloading an original version. This is not acceptable. The result is a poor product that doesn’t work as intended, that can’t be uninstalled and that clearly abuses its users and their privacy. Not to mention that it also discredits our work as volunteers and that it’s time-consuming, time that is not invested in the development.

Remember to download VLC only from the official repositories or the official website to be safe.

For obvious reasons, we will not link to those scammers’ websites here. However, this is not the first time that a popular open source project has been abused by scammers. Last year, Blender reported that scammers are rebranding their application and selling them.

Linux Mint 11 KDE To Be Based On Debian Not Kubuntu

Linux Mint is an easy to use Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu. One of the main advantage of Linux Mint has been its polish and ease of use. Recently with Ubuntu adopting the Unity UI, many Ubuntu users have migrated to Linux Mint.

linux-mint-logo Yesterday, the Linux Mint developers have announced that they will not base Linux Mint 11 KDE on Kubuntu. Instead, it will be based on Debian. It is worth remembering here that Ubuntu itself is based on Debian. By going to Debian directly, Linux Mint is cutting out the polish and features that Ubuntu brings.

Then why are they moving to Debian? Simple, the Kubuntu base needed too much resource and lacked performance. Kubuntu has never enjoyed a good reputed among KDE SC users. Most users of KDE SC will tell you that Kubuntu is one of the worst distributions for KDE.

Another issue that the Linux Mint developers have found is that the installer in Kubuntu has had a regression and cannot detect other operating systems. This will cause a big problem for new users and a big annoyance for more advance users.

Because of these issues, it has been decided that the next version Linux Mint 11 KDE will be based on Linux Mint Debian Edition (or LMDE as it is more commonly known).

No definite date for the release of Linux Minth 11 KDE has been set yet.

 

Gwibber Gets Revamped For Ubuntu 11.10 – Much Lighter And Faster Now

Gwibber is the default micro-blogging application that comes with Ubuntu. Ever since it has been included as a default application in Ubuntu, I have complained about it in every review I had done. It is so sluggish and consumes so much system resource that using it is never possible while doing any intensive task.

new-gwibber-336x500

Well, things are about to change in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot. Ubuntu 11.10 will have a fully revamped version of Gwibber Gwibber 3.1. While the earlier version of Gwibber was made using Python and Webkit, Gwibber 3.1 is made using Vala and GTK3.

What the change from Python/Webkit to Vala/GTK3 does is that it makes the application much lighter and faster. That has also allowed for the addition of some fancy animations to make the application better looking.

According to Gwibber developer Ken VanDine, the improvement in performance in Gwibber 3.1 is huge. This is what he told OMG!Ubuntu!:

The old client limited the stream to the latest 50 posts and would use about 150MB of RAM. The new client doesn’t limit the posts, in my test with 3000 posts in the stream it used about 42MB RAM.

Not only is that 3000 posts in a stream, we keep all the streams hotfor fast switching between them. So we actually have them all created and hidden.

Gwibber 3.1 also has a new user interface designed by Neil Patel. The new UI uses plenty of animations to make Gwibber comparable to the other Twitter clients available for Mac OS X and Windows. It also supports sorting of streams according to the oldest/newest post.

There is no plan as such to make Gwibber 3.1 available for Ubuntu 11.04. However, Jorge Castro of Canonical said that it might be available once it makes its way into Ubuntu 11.10.

[image credit]

Linux 3.0 Gets Yet Another Release Candidate

tux As you are probably aware, Linus Torvalds had decided to bump the version number of the upcoming Linux kernel to 3.0. The development for Linux 3.0 has been going on for a while with the first release candidate being released on May 30th.

The sixth release candidate was supposed to be the last one. However, Torvalds has decided to have one more release candidate Linux 3.0 rc7 mainly because some testers have found the RCU (Read-Copy-Update) to hang at boot time.

This is what Torvalds wrote to the mailing list announcing the seventh release candidate of Linux 3.0:

I think I said -rc6 might be the last -rc. I lied.

Things have been pretty quiet, but there’s enough new stuff here that I wanted to do another -rc, and we still have some issues with the RCU changes causing problems when RCU events happen before the scheduler has been fully initialized etc. So -rc7 is out there, although it might not have mirrored out to the public sites quite yet.

As with all the previous releases of the Linux kernel, Linux 3.0 will not have any new big features. It will have only incremental improvements. If you are interested, you can check out the changelog for Linux 3.0 rc7 here. At least one more release candidate is expected before Torvalds announces the stable Linux 3.0.

Linux 3.0 has already been adopted by the development versions of many Linux distributions. Debian Wheezy has already been moved from Linux 2.6 to Linux 3.0. The latest development release of Ubuntu 11.10 too was based on Linux 3.0.

CentOS 6.0 Finally Released

CentOS developer Karanbir Singh has announced the availability of CentOS 6.0 for download.

CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) is a Linux-based operating system that is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Unlike RHEL, it is a community project but, like RHEL, its target users are the enterprise users. One of the best feature of CentOS is its 100% binary compatibility with RHEL. CentOS is completely free and is very popular on servers.

centos-1
CentOS 6.0 Desktop

CentOS 6.0 is based on RHEL 6.0 which was released in November last year. The amount of time it took for CentOS 6.0 to be released is a bit surprising as the earlier releases usually follows the RHEL releases closely.

CentOS 6.0 is not an exact clone of RHEL 6.0; it contains some packages that have been modified and some that have been removed. You can see the complete list of these packages in the release note.

Red Hat had already released RHEL 6.0. So, Karanbir Singh said that they will port all the security updates from RHEL 6.1 to CentOS 6.0 users until CentOS 6.1 is released.

Since upstream has a 6.1 version already released, we will be using a Continous Release repository for 6.0 to bring all 6.1 and post 6.1 security updates to all 6.0 users, till such time as CentOS-6.1 is released itself. There will be more details about this posted within the next 48 hours.

Download CentOS 6.0

CentOS 6.0 is available for i386 and x86_64 architectures ( or in more simple terms 32 bit and 64 bit).

You can download it from the list of mirrors from this page.

Before installing, please make sure that you have at least 392 MB of RAM as the installer will not run if it is lower. If you need a the GUI based installer, you need to have at least 652 MB of RAM.

[image credit]

 

Indian Government Makes Open-Source Drivers A Requirement For e-Governance Projects

india-open-source The Indian Government has initiated its e-Governance projects to connect the millions of Indians living in villages to the internet and related services. A very important part of this project is the procurement of the required hardware most notably PCs and peripherals – for use by the people.

The Indian Government has announced that open drivers are a requirement for the hardware that will be procured under the e-governance projects. This is what the preamble of the Policy on Device Drivers for Procurement of Hardware for e-Governance says:

Government of India (GOI) endeavours to provide e-Governance services, which are technology-neutral, cost effective, interoperable and vendor-neutral. GOI Policy on open standards is a step towards meeting this objective in the development of e-Governance applications.

Because of this new policy, the OEM and vendors have to guarantee that the computer and peripherals that they are supplying can run all General Purpose Operating Systems and that open source drivers are available for all the components.

The policy allows for certain relaxations in case open source drivers are not available. The OEM or vendor has to first provide a justification as to why open source drivers are not available and give guarantee that the open source drivers will be made available before delivery.

A proper implementation of this policy will ensure that choices are available in case changes need to be made in the future. The availability of an open driver will prevent vendor lock-in and ensure that the vendors cannot take any unfair advantage in the future. It is good to see the government actively promoting Free and Open Source Software.

You can see a PDF version of the Policy on Device Drivers for Procurement of Hardware for e-Governance here.

[via: EFYTimes]

[image credit]

 

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 Released For Testing

After the delay. Canonical has released the second alpha of Ubuntu 11.10. Meant for development purposes, this release has a number of new features that will finally make it to the final release in October.

The most visible changes will be the change from GDM to LightDM. LightDM has not been themed yet, unfortunately. So, when user starts up Ubuntu 11.10, they will not see the sleek-looking login. However, LightDM is extremely customizable and we should see some awesome themes soon. Another thing about LightDM is that it is very light weight and much faster than GDM.

Another change that testers will notice is Deja Dup. Deja Dup is a very easy-to-use backup tool that also supports backup to your Ubuntu One account. Users will find this a very useful application indeed.

Because of the restriction of the CD size limit, the addition of the new application Deja Dup meant that some other application has to be dropped. They application they decided to drop is Synaptic Package Manager. For new users, Synaptic is too difficult and they generally prefer the Ubuntu Software Center. As for the experienced users who find Synaptic much better, they can always install it through the command line.

The last change in applications is the email client.In Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2, Evolution has been replaced by Thunderbird 5. The decision to replace Evolution is not yet final though. If Thunderbird is found lacking during the testing, Evolution will be brought back.

The not-so-visible changes includes Linux 3.0-rc5 and GTK 3.

Kate Stewart, who made the announcement, warned that this is a release meant for testing and is not recommended for normal users.

Pre-releases of Oneiric Ocelot are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting, and fixing bugs.

If you want to test it, you can download Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 from here.

You can check out the release schedule here.

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 To Be Released On 7th June

According to the original release schedule, Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 was supposed to be released on 30th June. The release date was missed and now, it has been revealed that the second alpha of Ubuntu 11.10 will be released on 7th July. The other release date remains unchanged.

Now, here is the updated release schedule of Ubuntu 11.10:

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1 2nd June

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 7th July

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 3 4th August

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 1 1st September

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 23rd September

Ubuntu 11.10 Release Candidate 6th October

Ubuntu 11.10 Final Version 13th October

While the first Alpha was fairly mundane, the second Alpha will see many new features that will finally make it to the final release in October. Here is a list of the changes you will see in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2:

  • GNOME 3 Finally, Ubuntu has made the transition from GNOME 2.32 to GNOME 3. By now, most the theme problems has been fixed. The default Ubuntu themes Ambiance and Radiance have been ported to GTK3.
  • Hybrid Image The ISO of Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 will be a hybrid image. This means that users no longer need the USB Startup Application to create a bootable Ubuntu USB drive.
  • No Synaptic Package Manager The Synaptic Package Manager will be no longer installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2.
  • Thunderbird as default email client Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 will not have Evolution as the default email client. Thunderbird will be installed as the default email client instead.
  • Linux 3.0 Ubuntu 11.10 will be based on the newly released Linux 3.0.
  • Deja Dup The backup tool, Deja Dup, will be installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2.
  • Firefox 5 – Firefox – the default web browser in Ubuntu 11.10 – will be updated to the latest version.

Thunderbird Becomes Default Email Client In Ubuntu 11.10

During the Ubuntu Developer Summit at Budapest, we reported that Thunderbird is being considered for replacing Evolution as the default email client for Ubuntu 11.10. The development for Ubuntu 11.10, though, started with Evolution as the default client since Thunderbird did not integrate into GNOME as well.

Well, it seems like Thunderbird has been pushed to replace Evolution in the latest daily build. According to the changelogs, noticed by Andrew of WebUpd8, evolution has been removed from desktop-recommends and Thunderbird has been added in its place. This means that in the next daily build of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, Thunderbird will be installed as the default email client.

This will be a welcome change for many users. I personally do not use desktop email clients, but I know many who do and most of them installs Thunderbird. Another advantage of having Thunderbird by default could be familiarity. Thunderbird is widely used in Windows as well. So, when a user switches to Ubuntu, it will be a pleasant experience to find the same application.

However, the change is not yet final. There is still the slight chance that things may not turn out well and developers decides to keep Evolution.

One critical feature that users will miss after the switch to Thunderbird is the calendar. Unlike Evolution, Thunderbird does not have an integrated calendar. However, it is easy to add one using add-on.

Do you want to see Thunderbird finally replacing Evolution? Or do you want think they should keep Evolution?

Facebook Deleting Photos Uploaded Using KDE Applications

If you are a KDE user who have used KDE applications to upload photos to Facebook, prepare for something you will have never expected. Facebook has done two things which are sure to piss off a lot of KDE users:

  • They have blocked the KIPI plugin
  • They have removed all the photos uploaded using the KIPI plugin

The KIPI (KDE Image Plugin Interface) Plugin is a common plugin structure used by many KDE applications to share image plugins among graphic libraries. Many KDE applications such as Gwenview, Digikam and KPhotoAlbum uses the KIPI plugins to upload photos to social networking sites like Facebook. Now, it seems like Facebook has banned KIPI. When users try to upload images using any application using the KIPI plugin they are getting an “Invalid API key” error message.

The problem with these KDE applications does not end here. Not only are these KDE applications banned, all photos that users have uploaded using these applications have also been removed from Facebook.

A bug report regarding this has already been filed at kde.org:

When I try to upload a picture to Facebook using KIPI plugin, it gives an error message “Facebook Call Failed: Application has been deleted”.

I also noticed that previously uploaded pictures that were uploaded using KIPI disappear from my Facebook account. other pictures that were not uploaded using KIPI are displaying fine.

However, it seems like this is an issue with Facebook not the KDE applications. A few days back, there was a problem of Facebook’s ban bot getting out of control and banning innocent applications. In all probability it seems like KIPI too has been hit by the Facebook ban bot as well.

The KDE developers have already filed for a bug report in Facebook asking for KIPI to be restored. Let us see what happens now.

LibreOffice Included In The Debian Squeeze Backports

libre_office_debian Almost all the major Linux distributions are using LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice. Today, it has been announced that Debian Squeeze too will get LibreOffice in the backports.

LibreOffice has been available in Debian Wheezy and Debian Sid for a while now. But in the stable release, Debian Squeeze, it is not available. As a Debian policy, new packages are never introduced in the core repository of a stable release. So, it is very unlikely that Debian Squeeze will ever get LibreOffice in its main repository.

So, users of Debian Squeeze who wanted LibreOffice will have to install it from either the unstable or testing archive. However, Debian Squeeze users will no longer have to do that as LibreOffice has been made available in the Squeeze Backports.

How to install LibreOffice in Debian Squeeze from backports

Note: Installing LibreOffice will remove OpenOffice.

To install LibreOffice from the Squeeze backports, you need to add the backports first. To do that open the Terminal and execute:

$ sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Now add the line given below and save the file.

# deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main

Now update the software list.

$ sudo apt-get update

Finally install LibreOffice with the command

$ apt-get t squeeze-backports install libreoffice

[source]

Synaptic Package Manager Removed From The Ubuntu 11.10 ISO

When Canonical started developing the Ubuntu Software Center, I knew that a time will come when it will completely replace Synaptic. The Software Center is a noob-friendly replacement for Synaptic where users can discover new applications more easily.

The Software Center had already taken over the function of Gdebi in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat and Gdebi is no longer included in the Ubuntu ISO. Unexpectedly, Canonical has decided that it is time for the Software Center to replace Synaptic as well. So, in the next daily build of Ubuntu 11.10, Synaptic will no longer be installed by default.

The decision to remove Synaptic is a very unexpected one. Yes, the Ubuntu Software Center looks prettier and new users are more likely to use it, but it does not have nearly as much feature as Synaptic does. Many of the features that are missing in the Ubuntu Software Center right now are very crucial features. Here is a list of some of the features that Synaptic has but are still absent in the Ubuntu Software Center:

  • Fix broken packages
  • Upgrade or downgrade a single or multiple packages
  • Lock packages to a specific version
  • Force install of a specific version of a package

There is still four months left till Ubuntu 11.10 gets released. I hope that is enough time for Canonical to add these missing features.

Synaptic will continue to be available in the repository, though, and can be installed with

$ sudo apt-get install synaptic

source: WebUpd8