Category Archives: Open Source Software

Ubuntu One For Windows Enters Beta

ubuntu one logoUbuntu One, the cloud storage service available with Ubuntu, is coming to Windows as well. The Windows client was first announced at the beginning of 2010 and now it has entered the public beta stage.

Ubuntu One is a cloud storage service which allows users to sync files between different computers and to share it with others. It also has other features like streaming music to Android devices, 7digital Music Store integration etc.

Cristian Parrino of Canonical explains why porting Ubuntu One to Windows is important:

Expanding to Windows is actually a fantastic thing for Ubuntu users. There are many of you out there that use Ubuntu at home and Windows, for example, at work. This platform expansion will make it easier to integrate Ubuntu into more aspects of your digital world.

Right now the Windows client is rather limited in features. It allows for only the basic synchronization of files between Windows computer(s), Ubuntu One personal cloud and Ubuntu computer(s).

In the coming months Canonical plans to add new features like:

  • Automatic sync when files change
  • Information about your account, added devices, and more finite sync settings
  • Sync folders outside of the Ubuntu Onefolder
  • Enhanced desktop sync notifications
  • Support for contacts, notes and bookmarks
  • Support for notes and the music store – Tomboy and Banshee as optional components of the application installation

Ubuntu One for Windows is under limited trials now. If you uses both Windows and Ubuntu, you can click here to request access.

[via: Ubuntu One Blog]

WordPress Wins Hall of Fame CMS Award

WordPress is a really good platform and has made blogging easier for millions of people including us. It has won several accolades in the past, but this year they went one step ahead by winning the Hall of Fame CMS Award at the Open Source Awards 2010.

Open Source Awards 2010

The hall of Fame CMS award is awarded to a CMS which has won the Open Source CMS award at least once, and WordPress was a winner last year. The first runner up for the Hall of Fame CMS awards was Drupal, followed by Joomla.

This year, CMS Made Simple won the open source CMS award and was followed by SilverStripe and MODx. Here is wishing WordPress and all the other winners a hearty congratulations. Open Source and blogging would not have been the same without you folks.

RedHat Developer Comes Up With Alternative To The “Magic” 200 Line Kernel Patch

Two days back we reported about  a 200 line patch for the Linux kernel which increases the system responsiveness under heavy load. The patch was applied to the Linux kernel not long ago and so it will take some time to appear for most of the users.

Interestingly, a RedHat developer, Lennart Poettering, has come up with an alternative to the kernel patch which does exactly the same thing. The most unbelievable thing about Poettering’s alternative is that it consist of just four lines of code which has to be added to the ~/.bashrc file.

Poettering’s method is ready for use by anyone. All you have to do is add the floowing lines of code in the ~/.bashrc file:  (Note: I have not tried this myself.)

if [ "$PS1" ] ; then
mkdir -m 0700 /sys/fs/cgroup/cpu/user/$$
echo $$ > /sys/fs/cgroup/cpu/user/$$/tasks

After adding these commands run the following commands as super user:

mount -t cgroup cgroup /sys/fs/cgroup/cpu -o cpu
mkdir -m 0777 /sys/fs/cgroup/cpu/user

It seems unbelievable that just these four lines of code can do the same function as a 200+ lines of kernel patch. However, there are indications that Poettering’s method might be actually better than the original kernel patch.

For Ubuntu users who want to try this, WebUpd8 has a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it.

New Linux Kernel Patch Increases Responsiveness Magically

The Linux kernel has received a significant update to its kernel that has reduced the latency by a factor of around ten. The patch is around 230  LOC and is extremely effective in increasing system responsiveness under heavy load conditions.

The code achieves this by grouping together task under the same TTY (terminal type) to increase interactivity. Mike Galbraith has written the code, which is already in its third version, while Linus Torvalds himself inspired the idea.

Mike Galbraith  carried out some tests to see that the latency in average conditions dropped around 60 times and around 10 times in maximum load conditions. Linus writes in an email response saying,

It’s an improvement for things like smooth scrolling around, but what I found more interesting was how it seems to really make web pages load a lot faster. Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprising, but I always associated that with network performance. But there’s clearly enough of a CPU load when loading a new web page that if you have a load average of 50+ at the same time, you _will_ be starved for CPU in the loading process, and probably won’t get all the http requests out quickly enough.

So I think this is firmly one of those “real improvement” patches. Good job. Group scheduling goes from “useful for some specific server loads” to “that’s a killer feature”.


Oracle And Apple Agree On OpenJDK: A Java Port For Mac OS X

Oracle and Apple have finally agreed on a stable port of Java for the Mac OS X that will be based on the OpenJDK project and will be built with help from both Apple and Oracle. The port includes  features like,

a 32 64-bit HotSpot-based Java virtual machine, class libraries, a networking stack and the foundation for a new graphical client.

Following this, OpenJDK will make this port Open-Source to the public. It can work wonders with both Apple and Oracle supporting this move. While Apple is offering the Java SE 6, Oracle is at Java SE 7.

Just last month, Apple App Store called Java a “deprecated” technology and now, it is falling head over heels for the same Java technology. This attitude of Apple is so bothering because it lies to its users..

Apple app store and the quality check is just a facade. stupid torchlights and farting apps make it to the store easily and often make it t the top of the list.

Oracle’s Senior VP Hasan Rizv  announced the service, saying,

The availability of Java on Mac OS X plays a key role in the cross-platform promise  of the Java platform. The Java developer community can rest assured that the leading edge Java environment will continue to be available on Mac OS X in the future. Combined with last month’s announcement of IBM joining the OpenJDK, the  project now has the backing of three of the biggest names in software.


Linux Mint 10 Julia Now Available for Download

The latest incarnation of Linux Mint, the popular Ubuntu based distro, is out. Linux Mint 10, which has been codenamed Julia, is based on Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat), and is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.

Last month, we previewed the release candidate (RC) build of Julia. As in previous editions, the final build contains only minor fixes. In fact, if you have already installed the RC build, you don’t even need to download the new build. Simply applying all Level 1 and Level 2 patches from the update manager will suffice.


Aside from the upstream changes, the biggest change in Linux Mint 10 is the user interface. The Shiki theme has been replaced with a new metallic theme called Mint-X. Other changes include an improved mintMenu, software manager, update manager and upload manager.

[ Download Linux Mint 10 Julia ]

Java To Live On On Mac, Apple and Oracle Announce OpenJDK

A few weeks ago, Steve Jobs had announced that they would no longer be developing a JRE/JDK for Apple Mac OS X. The decision did not go down well with the Open Source community and developers alike. However, it looks like they can now cool down because Oracle and Apple have announced a new partnership in the form of OpenJDK for OSX.

Oracle Java Apple OpenJDK

Java developers who use Mac OSX can breathe a sigh of relief after both Oracle and Apple jointly announced that they would be creating the OpenJDK project for Mac OS X. This means that Mac Java developers will soon get their hands on Java SE 7 including a JVM for both 32Bit and 64Bit machines.

We’re delighted to be working with Oracle to insure that there continues to be a great version of Java on the Mac, said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. The best way for our users to always have the most up to date and secure version of Java will be to get it directly from Oracle.

Apple will contribute to the OpenJDK project in key components, tools and technology required for Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X. The availability of the SDK might not be soon though as Oracle has stated that it is not easy to fork out a edition for a new platform, but it will be available in future.

Google Refine 2.0: Power Tools for Working With Data

A few days ago, I was watching a TED talk by David McCandless where he said something that has moved me. His words were,

data is the new oil, data is the new soil.

Data is raw and unusable without proper management and handling. Google has stepped into this business with its service Google Refine 2.0.

Google Refine is a rebranding of the Freebase Gridworks service Google acquired as a part of the  Metaweb acquisition. The service works with the data to provide it with easy and powerful tools to remove inconsistencies, transform data, using web-services with the data, and linking it to a database. As the  Google open-source blog says, the service can work wonders with messy data.

Google Refine 2.0 will serve an excellent back-end for data visualization services. It has been well received by the Chicago Tribune and open-government data communities. Along with Google Squared, Refine 2.0 can create a powerful research tool. Learn more on the service from these video. The open-source project hosting can be found here.


Data Transformation

Data Augmentation

Oracle’s Abuse of Java Upsets Apache Software Foundation

Apache Software Foundation has finally woken up against Oracle’s outlook and abuse of Java. Oracle has done enough to upset everyone related to Java. With the killing of to the recent lawsuit against Google’s use of Java in the Dalvik VM, Oracle has done enough to raise an outcry and the ASF rising against Oracle is going to turn ugly for Oracle.


The ASF is the largest maintainer of Open Source projects. It has declared if Oracle continues with this attitude; the ASF will openly boycott the next version of Java coming from Oracle.

Apache Software Foundation co-founder and President Jim Jagielski  said,

Why would we want to be in an organization where the rules of law don’t matter? Our being on the [JCP Executive Committee] would be a sham. It would show that the community doesn’t matter, that we’d basically cave into Oracle pushing stuff through, whether or not it would be in the best interest of the community.

ASF’s stronghold in the JCP Executive Committee and the threats to leave the position makes the matter even more serious for Oracle. What will come of this feud is unknown as Oracle is known to be stubborn but this is a matter of utmost importance and the decision will affect all businesses based around Java.

(Image source)

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha Is Delayed Due To Change in Release Schedule

The Ubuntu release schedule has been modified to include more intermediate releases. The final release for April 2011 end still holds. However, the new release schedule will include three alpha versions instead of the proposed five alpha versions.

The new release schedule stands as,

December 2nd, 2010 – Alpha 1 release
February 3rd, 2011 – Alpha 2 release
March 3rd, 2011 – Alpha 3 release
March 31st, 2011 – Beta release
April 21st, 2011 – Release Candidate
April 28th, 2011 – Final release of Ubuntu 11.04

With the release of version 11.04, Ubuntu will reach a mature state with better support for ARM devices, multi-touch and a lot more. Ubuntu 11.04 codenamed Natty Narwhal will also include a new Unity Shell that will be seen on the desktop version. However, other Ubuntu forks like Mint are not yet ready to make the switch to Unity.  For developers and software companies, the Ubuntu Software Center in Natty Narwhal support paid apps like the Android and iPhone app markets.

As evident from the release schedule, the first usable release, which is the beta, comes on 31 March next year. This delay, however will hardly affect many regular users, as UI (user interface) changes interest them more than behind the scene changes.


Banshee To Replace Rhythmbox In Ubuntu 11.04 – More Mono!

The Ubuntu Developers Summit at Orlando, Florida is over and now we have the tentative list of the default applications that will ship with Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”. There are no major changes in the default applications – Firefox stays, Evolution is still preferred over Thunderbird etc. Of course the choice of Unity over GNOME Shell for the desktop is a big surprise but that is another thing.

A really surprising change is that the music player Rhythmbox will be replaced by Banshee. There is really nothing wrong with Rhythmbox – in fact it is much better than Banshee in my opinion. So, it is surprising that they have decided to ditch Rhythbox.

And Banshee has a little detail that will make a lot of people cringe – it is a mono application. In spite of Miguel de Icaza’s efforts, mono still remains one technology that a lot of people in the open-source community love to hate. With the inclusion of Banshee, Ubuntu has brought up the mono apps count to three – Tomboy Notes and gbrainy being the other two.

Before the official announcement, there are still some little details like CD space issues to be resolved. In any case, that should be resolved and the replacement of Rhythmbox by Banshee is almost certain.

The choice of Unity for the desktop did not please many people. With the inclusion of more mono apps that number should increase. Natty Narwhal should be an interesting release.

Speed Up Program Installs / Upgrades in Ubuntu

If you’re an Ubuntu power user, you’re probably aware of apt-get. apt-get is a command line tool often used for installing and updating new software in Debian based distributions such as the very popular Ubuntu.

Now, if you’re familiar with apt-get you would have probably noticed that apt-get downloads the files with a single connection. Now what if there was a way a file could be split up into multiple pieces and each piece could be downloaded independently, similar to what download managers such as FlashGet / Internet Download Manager would do ?

Enter apt-fast. apt-fast is an apt-get supplement/replacement script by Matt Parnell. Basically apt-fast does pretty much the same thing as apt-get does, except that the download part of it is handled by axel. The result being that your program installation downloads finish faster. A lot faster. Up to 26-times, according to Matt.

Here are the steps in setting up apt-fast:

Install axel

Even though apt-fast can detect and auto-install axel if it’s not installed, let’s do it by ourselves. As usual, it’s apt-get to the rescue.

sudo apt-get install axel

Download apt-fast script

Download from here. Save it to your home directory.

Setup apt-fast

Before we can start using apt-fast we need so setup certain things – permissions and the like. First, move apt-fast to /usr/bin

sudo mv ~/ /usr/bin/apt-fast

Note: sudo is required here since a regular user does not have permissions to write to /usr/bin directory.

Give permissions to apt-fast to make it executable

sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/apt-fast

Wrapping it up

That’s about all that is required to setup apt-fast. So now, instead of using apt-get to install software, just use apt-fast. Axel will download the software, and apt-get will perform the installation. The below screenshot should how the downloads look like now.

apt-fast downloads

Russia To Develop Linux-Based OS TO Replace Windows

The Russian government has announced plans to build a government-sponsored operating system to replace Microsoft Windows. This move is aimed at reducing the country’s dependency on the Windows operating system made by US giant Microsoft.

Russian deputy Ilia Ponomarev has said that the operating system will be based on Linux and that the government has already set aside 4.9 million dollars to fund the development. The new operating system is also expected to provide better computer security. The exact details of the OS will be worked out in December.

This is not the first time that a country expressed their desire to build their own Linux-based operating system to stop the reliance on Windows. North Korea have also built their own OS built on Linux.


Compiz To Live On With Unity

When GNOME 3 was announced, a redesign of the desktop was proposed. It was decided that the traditional panel based desktop will be replaced by a new user interface called the GNOME Shell.

GNOME Shell is a whole new take on the concept of the desktop and Compiz, one of the most amazing Windows managers (at least in terms of eye candy), had no place in GNOME Shell. KDE SC too already have their own windows manager, KWin, to provide most of the bling that Compiz provided. It seemed that Compiz was doomed to become “a project without a cause”.

Well, Mark Shuttleworth made an announcement which ensures that Compiz will live on. In the Ubuntu Developer Summit – Natty, while announcing that Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop will come with the Unity interface, he also announced that Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 will use Compiz.

Currently, Unity is available in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. It is based on Mutter, the same technology which GNOME Shell uses. Unity in UNE 10.10 is heavily criticized for a lot of things –  from being too confusing to being slow. According to Canonical, Unity’s slowness is because of Mutter and Mutter is not capable of providing a good enough performance. So, for the next release they will replace mutter with Compiz.

It is good to know that Compiz finally has a proper backing. Although, I have never been a fan of Compiz, it is one of those things which attracts a lot of people to Linux.


London Stock Exchange Achieves Lightening Speed with Linux

The London Stock Exchange boasts a new record speed with a latency as low as 126 microseconds. The earlier latency went way over 1000 microseconds, which was also affecting trading speeds. However, the changeover to Linux has proven beneficial in more than one ways.

The London Stock Exchange is still in transition and will announce a complete switchover on 1 November 2010. It has proudly claimed that its main international rival performs at half that speed and the older exchanges ran at a speed of 300 to 400 microseconds. The new system has been implemented replacing the earlier .NET technology powering the LSE. More news on the switchover can be seen in  this earlier coverage.

The new system is being tested in three phases out of which phase one and two are already done with. Phase 3 is the last test. The new system has performed exceptionally well and will perform well as there is a 0.1 percent chance of the system going above 400 microseconds of latency.  What remains is the transition of users to this new system. However, it is said that the test phase one was rigorous enough to gain the trust of experts who supported this move.