Category Archives: Open Source Software

Alien Arena 2011 Released

Alien Arena is a free online first person shooter which was first introduced in 2004. It was based on based on source code released by id Software. Since its release Alien Arena has been downloaded more than 1 million times. It is one of the few games with good graphics which runs natively on Linux.

Alien Arena 2011 is the latest version of the game and was released yesterday. Alien Arena 2011 has a number of new features which includes ragdoll physics using the Open Dynamics physics engine, GNU AutoTools for installation on Linux/Unix/MaxOS and a number of bugfixes from the previous versions.

Here is the official trailer of Alien Arena 2011:

[click here if you cannot see the embedded video]

Alien Arena 2011 is available for Windows and Linux. You can get a list of download mirrors here. For Linux, only the source is available right now. So, you have to compile it yourself.

How To Install Alien Arena 2011 In Ubuntu

To install Alien Arena 2011 from source, first download the source from the link above and extract it. Then open the Terminal and navigate into the extracted directory. Now execute the commands given below:

$ sudo apt-get build-dep alien-arena
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr
$ make
$ sudo make install

To run the game, press ALT+F2 and enter crx.

If you are uncomfortable with compiling from source, you can wait for PlayDeb to make the .deb file available.

FBI Alleged To Have Paid OpenBSD Developers For Backdoors

The nature of open-source software makes it possible for several developers to contribute to it. There are people who contribute during their free time and there are those who do it professionally – the majority belongs to the former section. The fact that anyone can see the source code means that any malicious code can be spotted by anyone – many eyes are always better than one. This has always been considered as one of the best features of open-source software.

However, a new development is threatening this very belief. According to Gregory Perry, the former CTO of NETSEC, the FBI has implemented numerous backdoors in OpenBSD’s IPsec stack. This was allegedly done by paying developers working on it. This was revealed to Theo de Raadt, founder and leader of the Open BSD, by Perry in an email.

I wanted to make you aware of the fact that the FBI implemented a number of backdoors and side channel key leaking mechanisms into the OCF, for the express purpose of monitoring the site to site VPN encryption system implemented by EOUSA, the parent organization to the FBI. Jason Wright and several other developers were responsible for those backdoors, and you would be well advised to review any and all code commits by Wright as well as the other developers he worked with originating from NETSEC.

According to Perry the backdoors were implemented around a decade ago. Because of a non disclosure agreement with the FBI, he could not speak out before.

Right now the codes are being audited and we will only know if Gregory Perry’s allegations are true only after it has been finished.

If his allegations are proved to be true, the consequences will be far reaching.  For years, we have been using open-source software with the belief that the software we are using is secure. We have always believed, as I have mentioned before, that with all the eyeballs looking at the codes someone will spot any attempt at inserting any malicious code. It will call into question the code-base of every major open-source software out there, including Linux, no doubt. However, more damaging than that could be the loss of confidence in Linus’ Law. Linus’ Law is basically one of the main guiding points open-source software uses to stays secure.

Paradoxically, this also highlights one of the strongest points of open-source software. If you believe that an open-source software has been compromised, everything is available to you – you can investigate it yourself. With closed-sourced  software, say Windows, there is simply no way you can do that.

Clementine 0.6 Released – Supports Lyrics, Smart Playlist And Monochrome Icon For Ubuntu

Clementine, the music player inspired by Amarok 1.4, has just hit version 0.6. This version is a huge improvement over the previous releases both in terms of features, looks and bug fixes.

Clementine 0.6

Clementine 0.6 has a number of new features. It includes new Song Info and Artist Info tabs. The Song Info fetches the lyrics of the song that is currently playing. In addition it also fetches the tags, statistics and play count of the song from Last.fm. The Artist Info displays biographies of the artist fetched from Wikipedia, Last.fm, Amazon etc. It also displays photos and similar artists.

Another new feature in Clementine 0.6 is smart playlists. The smart playlist is just a way to create new playlists like – Favorite Tracks, Least Favorite Tracks, Never Played – you get the idea. The library system in Clementine 0.6 has also been improved to keep track of statistics like ratings of the songs, number of times played, skip counts etc. Support for Icecast has also been added with this release. It can be assessed from the Internet tab at the left.

clementine sound menu

In addition to these new features, there are also a few Ubuntu specific changes. The Clementine icon at the system tray is no longer orange. It is now monochrome like all the other icons there. Another change is that Clementine now shows up in Ubuntu’s sound menu.

Install Clementine 0.6 In Ubuntu

Clementine 0.6 is available for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx and Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. To install it open the terminal and execute the following commands:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:me-davidsansome/clementine
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install clementine

After installation Clementine will be found at Applications > Sound & Video > Clementine.

Hotot – The Best Native Twitter Client For Linux

There are quite a few twitter clients for Linux some native ( Gwibber, choqoK, Qwit) others based on Adobe Air ( Tweetdeck, twihrl, DestroyTwitter ). However, I’m not entirely happy with most of them. The problem with Air based clients is that they often bog down the system or just look.. different in Linux. When it comes to native clients Gwibber seems just too buggy, and choqoK & Qwit don’t exactly have the best looking UI. Hotot is poised to change this scene.

Hotot is an soon-to-be-released twitter client being actively developed by Shellex and few other developers. What makes this project even intriguing is the variety of languages used for developing Hotot uses a combination of Python, JavaScript with the GTK toolkit & WebKit. The result is one fantastic looking application.

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Hotot features the standard tabs the main timeline, mentions, direct messages & a search pane for looking up on profiles & other general searches.

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Activating each of these tabs results in a slick sliding transition which makes you click on the tabs every few minutes. Even better is that each of these tabs features threaded replies ( which you can expand/collapse), inline display of media and other features which most twitter clients skimp on – such as Reply To All, old-style retweets, ReTweets (including your tweets, retweeted by others).

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To make things even better Hotot has support for extensions, supports native desktop notifications in both Gnome & KDE SC, extensively customizable and is open source.

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Hotot is currently at version 0.9, and should be out soon. If you’re itching to try it out do check the instructions here to see how you can install it. Trust me, it’s worth the install.

Oracle Rolls Out The First Beta Version of VirtualBox 4

VirtualBox, one of the best ( and my personal  favorite) virtualization applications has just gotten a new lease in life. The developers of VirtualBox have uploaded the first beta version of their next major release, VirtualBox 4.

One of the notable changes seems to be the way features are going to be available.

As of version 4.0, certain features of VirtualBox are shipped as part of external packages (extpacks).

As of now there is one such extension pack, the PUEL extension pack which features support for USB 2.0, RDP server and the PXE bootloader with E1000 support. It would seem like Oracle intends to ship only one version of VirtualBox, with extra (closed-source ?) features added on as extra packs. And given the way Oracle has acted previously it wouldn’t be surprised if some paid extrasget tacked on.

Some of the new features included this major release include:

  • Support for resizing existing virtual hard disk images ( Finally!)
  • Support for copying files into guest filesystem
  • Support for auto-update of Guest additions ( Windows only, as of now)
  • Intel HD Audio is available as one of the audio hardware on the guest.

For a detailed list of changes do check out VirtualBox forums. You can grab the downloads from here.   And as with any beta software don’t use it in your production environment!

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 Released

As scheduled, the first alpha of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is available for download. The biggest change from the last stable release (Ubuntu 10.10) is the Unity desktop interface. Unity landed just a few days ago and so it remains quite buggy and rough. In case you do not like Unity, the classic desktop is still available. Unity is now based on Compiz, not Mutter as was the cased in UNE 10.10. This means that Unity feels a bit smoother now.

Other than Unity, there are some changes as well. The Linux kernel has been updated to version 2.6.1937 and Firefox 4 Beta 7 has been included. The indicator menu has also received some changes – nothing drastic just little tweaks.

A change which I absolutely hate is the addition of global menu. I knew it was coming but it feels counter-productive on a large monitor.

All in all, Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 still looks a lot like Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition.

If you want to help out with the testing, you can download it from here. Remember that this is an alpha and should not be installed in a production machine.

(Click here if you cannot see the embedded video.)

Linux Kernel Attracts 5 patches per hour – The Linux Kernel Report

The Linux Foundation has published their annual document highlighting the state of the Linux kernel development.

This year, the number of commits have decreased by 18%, in comparison to the increase by significant number. The report highlights that the previous year’s increased commit amounts can be attributed to the release of 2.6.30 kernel which brought in new additions such as Btrfs filesystem and perf. This year, however, saw a decrease due to maturity of existing components such as the ext4.

Release Frequency & Rate of Change

Over the past year, 3 versions have been released – 2.6.33 , 2.6.34 & 2.6.35 with each version being in development for 84, 81 & 77 days respectively.

2.6.33, 2.6.34 & 2.6.35 brought in 10.8k, 9.4k and 9.8k patches respectively – resulting in an average of 5 patches per hour. 2.6.35 currently stands at about 13.5 million lines of code, up from about 1.5million lines since the last year’s update.

Who’s doing all this work ?

2.6.35 attracted a total of 1,187 different individuals and 184 different companies working on it. David S. Miller, Ingo Molnar & Al Viro constitute the top individual contributors at 1.3%, 1.2% and 1.2% each of the overall total. It’s interesting to note that Linus doesn’t feature in top-30 list of contributors w.r.t patches – this is  primarily due to Linus’ role as a reviewer and handling patchmerges.

How many sponsors?

Interestingly, the people who have no  financial backing from any company constitutes for 18.9% of the total commits. Red Hat comes in second at 12.4% and  Novell  at about 7%.  Amongst companies involved in embedded & mobile devices development, Nokia contribution weighs in at about 2.3%. Although Google employs some senior kernel developers such as Theodore Ts’o, the contribution is about 0.6%.

These are some of the excerpts from the published paper – you can grab the full details over here [PDF link] for the full details.

Unity Finally Set As Default In Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop

One of the talking points of Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is the adoption of Unity for the desktop instead of GNOME Shell.

A few days back, Unity has finally been set as the default for Ubuntu 11.04 desktop in an update to the daily build. There is not much too look at right now – it looks almost the same as Unity interface we see in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition. There are, however, some little changes:

  • Unity now runs as a Compiz plugin
  • The launcher can be set to auto-hide or float
  • The desktop switcher works now

This is not even the alpha build, so it is quite buggy right now. If you want to try it now, you can download a daily build ISO and install it. However the Alpha will be released tomorrow and you might want to wait for it. (Warning: Do not install on a production machine.)

WebUpd8 has made a video of Unity in action in Ubuntu 11.04:

(Click here if you cannot see the embedded video.)

RedHat Acquires Makara, Cloud Foundations Looks Promising

RedHat has acquired Makara, a cloud based service which will strengthen its position in the cloud services business. Makara has specialized in (platform as a service) PaaS for a long time and its acquisition will add to Red Hat’s expertise in PaaS services, especially in developing Cloud Foundations which was started this year.

Red Hat outlined the acquisition writing,

Customers facing issues in moving applications to the cloud and managing them efficiently can benefit from Makara’s solutions for scaling, rightsizing, rollback and monitoring. By integrating the JBoss Enterprise Middleware infrastructure with Makara’s Cloud Application Platform, Red Hat can offer a more comprehensive PaaS solution that allows organizations to quickly transition their applications to both public and private clouds with minimal modifications.

Cloud Foundations was founded by Red Hat in June this year and this acquisition will be a valuable asset for this new business. Given the rising demands of enterprise cloud solutions, Red Hat is the the proud owner of a complete cloud based solution stack from operating system to middleware and virtualization. What remains, is jumping into the competition and doing some real business.

Linux.fm Broadcasts the Linux Kernel to the World

Linux.fm is broadcasting the Linux Kernel to the world through online radio. It uses the open source text-to-speech engine eSpeak to translate the latest stable version of the Linux Kernel into voice.

The website loads a random file from the code each time you load it and reads out its source. A note at the end of the website says it is dedicated to the supernerd of the modern age, Dr. Sheldon Cooper who is the prime attraction in the popular  BBC  CBS sitcom- The Big Bang Theory.

The frontpage of the website says,

There are currently 111011 (base 2) tunes in our database and we are working to add more. A new source file is selected randomly each time you load this page : remember, if you can’t get enough, you can always open Linux Radio in two or more different browser tabs… Use the Source, Luke!

The voice on the software is extremely robotic and annoying and the project is just a time-waster. Have fun.

Unigine Announces A Linux Game Development Competition

Linux is a great operating system but one area where it severely lags behind others (Windows) is games. There are very few open source game engines available for Linux but most of them are generally miles behind those available for Windows.

The Unigine engine is a powerful game engine and it is cross platform – which means that it van run on Linux too. However, because of licensing costs which can even go upto $100,000, Linux game development has not really taken off  in-spite  of it.

Unigine Corp has, however, been always Linux friendly. Their upcoming game OilRush will be released in a few months with a Linux client as well. They want to kickstart the development of Linux games and they are doing it through a Linux game development competition.

This is what Denis Shergin, CEO of Unigine Corp. said:

I have been using Linux for over than 10 years now and find it a really great platform with a steadily growing market share on desktops. What we see, however, is though this niche market is open to conquer, it severely lacks high-quality 3D games with up-to-date visuals. We are eager to contribute to filling in the gap and boost up Linux game development.

The competition is open to any team which has developed a 3D game or is working on one and is experienced with Linux software development. The winning team will get a free binary license on Unigine engine for a single project on PC platform (Windows / Linux). Unigine Corp. will give another two teams “huge discounts” for the license.

This is all good news for Linux game development. Let us hope we see some awesome games as a result of this.

You can read more about it here.

[via: Phoronix]

The New Evolution Mockup Looks Amazing

Anyone who uses GNOME would know Evolution. It comes as the default email client in most of the GNOME based Linux distros. It is one of those applications which very few people actually uses because there is a much better alternative in Thunderbird and, in my opinion, it has a horrible user interface.

Well the user interface part may soon change if Allan Day’s design gets implemented. He has come up with an amazing design for Evolution using a three pane interface.

Do I see a hint of Elementary in the new design? This design looks much better that what it looks like now and I really like the three pane interface.

Another thing I like with the new design is the support for threaded view of the emails.

[via AFAIK]

Demo Of Wayland Display Server In Ubuntu

Ubuntu is  going  through a lot of changes now. It will use Unity for the desktop instead of GNOME Shell in the next release i.e. Ubuntu 11.04. However one of the biggest changes is that X.org will be replaced by the Wayland Display Server. This is a huge change and will likely take a few years.

Right now Wayland is not stable enough to replace X.org. However Kristian Høgsberg, who started the Wayand project,  has made a video of Wayland Display Server running in Ubuntu. Here is the video:

(Click here if you cannot see the embedded video.)

Because of the support that Wayland is now getting, development is going ahead quite nicely. There is even a PPA from where you can install it now.

So, if you are the curious type and want to try it out, here is what you need to do:

[Warning: Wayland is in no way ready for normal usage yet. This is only for testing.]

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/wayland

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install wayland

To launch Wayland from within X.org, execute the following command:

wstart

Apache Software Foundation Adopts Google Wave

Google Wave

Remember ? The futuristic communication tool from Google which never took off? Well, it looks like it is going to get a second chance thanks to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

According to a new submission to the ASF by Novell and few other contributors the new project will be called Wave In a Box (WIAB). The project is in an incubator phase right now and is open to evaluation by the Apache Board.

The initial goals of the WIAB project state that the contributors want to first move the code over from it’s Google hosting repository at code.google.com to Apache’s build systems and then continue development of it.

Apache Wave is the project where wave technology is developed at Apache. Wave in a Box (WIAB) is the name of the main product at the moment, which is a server that hosts and federates waves, supports extensive APIs, and provides a rich web client. This project also includes an implementation of the Wave Federation protocol, to enable federated collaboration systems (such as multiple interoperable Wave In a Box instances).

If you are not sure what Google Wave is, you can read up a hands-on review of Google Wave. The Google Wave project was closed down for good in early August due to lack of user interest. Prior to it, Google Wave received rave reviews from early adopters and geeks alike, however, for a common user it was way ahead of time which is why their user-base quickly diminished.

If everything goes well Google Wave will be rechristened as Apache Wave and will be a hosted, live, concurrent data structure for rich communication which can be used like email, chat or a document.

You can read the entire proposal for Apache Wave here. Source: The Register.

Attachmate Corporation to Acquire Novell for $2.2 Billion

Attachmate Corporation has agreed to buy Novell for a sum of 2.2 billion. Novell was up for sale, was accepting buyers on Wednesday, and has finally agreed to sell. Novell got a  buyout offer earlier this year from Elliott Associates, which was valued at $1.8 billion.

Novell is also selling its intellectual property separately to CPTN Holdings at $450 million. CPTN Holdings is a consortium of technology companies with Microsoft as its head. This has raised some concerns in the Linux world as Novell IP with MS is like the magic sword falling into the hands of the wrong people.

The  Novell press release says,

Novell also announced it has entered into a definitive agreement for the concurrent sale of certain intellectual property assets to CPTN Holdings LLC, a consortium of technology companies organized by Microsoft Corporation, for $450 million in cash, which cash payment is reflected in the merger consideration to be paid by Attachmate Corporation.

Attachmate corporation has decided to run Novell as two separate units, one as Novell itself and another as SUSE Linux. Novell expects both the transactions to end by the first quarter of 2011 and this will mark the end of long standing rumors of Novell selling out that started in 1990.

(Source)