Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1 “Runscape” Available For Kubuntu

A few days back, Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1, codenamed Runscape, was released. This release brings a number of incremental changes and new features. Many bugs found in Amarok 2.4 are also fixed in this release.

Today, the Kubuntu developers have announced that Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1 is now available in the Kubuntu PPA. But before we get to how to install it, here are some of the major changes and new features in this release:

  • Support for NFS and SMB/CIFS has been added in  Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1. This means that remote NFS and SMB/CIF collections can be used in Amarok’s library.
  • The Organize dialog has a new “Preview” feature.
  • In case some files are missing tags, Amarok can now guess the tags based on the file path.
  • A feature in the  previous  release – to store play counts and ratings – as tags in the files has been reverted in this release. The play count changes far too frequently and, so, it has been excluded from being written into the file as a tag. The ratings are still stored as tags if the user desires.
  • The rather annoying bug which crashes Amarok while downloading full size album art has been fixed.

These are just some of the major changes in this release. To see the complete  change-log, refer to the  release  announcement.


Kubuntu (and Ubuntu) users who want to test this release can do so now since Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1 has been made available in the Kubuntu Beta PPA. However, remember that this is a beta release and there could be bugs. It is available only for users who are using Maverick Meerkat and Natty Narhwal.

To install it, open Konsole (or terminal if you are in Ubuntu) and execute the following commands:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/beta

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get install amarok

If you find any bug, you can help by reporting it at

Nautilus-Elementary Revived Again

Last November, the developers of the popular Nautilus-Elementary announced that the Nautilus-Elementary project has been discontinued. They announced that they are working on a  new file manager, Merlin, instead of working in Nautilus. Nautilus-Elementary is a patch for Nautilus which brings some cool new features in Nautilus and makes it look much better.

Today, they have taken an u-turn and has announced that they are reviving the Nautilus-Elementary project again. This mainly due to the fact that Marlin is being developed with GTK3 and GNOME 3 technologies. It has already been announced that Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is not going to support GTK3 and GNOME 3 stack out of the box. So, to make Marlin work in Ubuntu 11.04, they will have to rely on external or testing repositories.

Like many other distributions, Ubuntu Natty won’t support gtk3 and the gnome3 stack without adding external/testing repositories.  Since gtk3 dropped the rc format, only one gtk engine is ready for gtk3 (clearlook) and one gtk theme (adwaita). Without proper theming there’s no point rushing to gtk3/gnome3 so gtk2/gnome2  still has some nice months ahead before a progressive transition.

Another reason for the decision to revive the project is due to the fact that many people (me included) and Linux distributions still use Nautilus Elementary even though it has been announced that it is no longer maintained.

Although the project has been shut down since November, i still see many people using this outdated version of nautilus, distributions adopting it, artists working on stuning theme for it, which surprised me bit considering the project is unmaintained. I would like to thanks all of the nautilus-elementary supporters and specialy the archlinux community which has kept working on an up-to date version.

This does not, however, mean that Marlin is taking a backseat. Marlin will still be the focus of development. The plan for Nautilus-Elementary right now is to fix only the critical bugs. New features in Nautilus Elementary are unlikely at the moment.

The new version of Nautilus-Elementary is already available in the PPA. To install it, open the Terminal and execute the commands given below:

[For Ubuntu 10.10 and Ubuntu 11.04]

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:am-monkeyd/nautilus-elementary-ppa

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get upgrade

After installation, restart Nautilus to see the changes.

$ nautilus -q Domain could be Worth as high as $2 Million

The domain name is the property of Oracle now that it owns everything Sun. The deal was closed at  $7.4 billion, a loss making one for both Oracle and Sun. Now, Oracle has nearly completed the process of acquiring all Sun services and products under its own brand, and the last remnants of Sun Microsystems, the website, will go down soon.
However, one question that arises here is what happens to the domain name? The domain is an extremely business specific domain, with a dictionary word and is short and authoritative. At the present scenario, the Sun domain is valued at nearly $2 million and quite a few organizations are speculated to have their eyes on it. This can end up as one of the largest domain biddings ever.

One thing is for sure though, that the domain can go on sale anytime now and it will probably earn Oracle a huge sum. In exclusive talks with PCWorld, Paul Nicks, the Director of domain aftermarket services for GoDaddy remarks, is appealing because it could be used in a number of ways. Solar power companies, companies with ‘sun’ currently in their name, domain name investors or anyone looking to leverage the history behind the name could have a bidding interest.

The domain is the 11th oldest .com domain name still in use and it is surely a golden goose by now in terms of traffic. The domain ends its registration period on 20 March 2012 after which, it will be free of Oracle, for anyone to pick up for a mere $10. However, I am sure, Oracle is definitely going to re-register it and even more so, sell it in a few months’ time.



The “200 Line Wonder Patch” Finally Included In Linux 2.6.38

In November last year, we reported on a patch for the Linux kernel that does wonder to the performance of the kernel under heavy load. The patch was all over the news because it drops the system latency to around 60 times under  average  conditions and 10 times under heavy load.

This patch has been finally merged with the kernel in the latest release of the Linux kernel (2.6.38). Announcing the  inclusion of the patch, Linus Torvalds said that it is one his favorite additions in the new kernel. This is what he said about the patch:

It really works very well for the kinds of things it is designed for. If you still do ‘real work’ in a terminal window, you’re likely to appreciate it. Compile in parallel in one window, watch a movie in another, and the movie is really smooth. It can be very noticeable indeed.

The “wonder patch” is known technically as “automatic process grouping”. It works by changing the way by which the CPU scheduler assigns CPU time to each processes. When a process is forked into different child processes, the session ID of the original process is inherited by the child processes.  With the patch applied, the kernel will group processes that have the same session ID as a single entity and the CPU scheduler will grant CPU time accordingly.

The automatic process grouping is not the only exciting addition in the Linux kernel 2.6.38. Changes has also been made in the  whole path lookup mechanisms of the Linux VFS to make it more scalable in multi-threaded workloads. A very interesting result of this is that even for single threaded workloads the performance has improved quite significantly.

Users of AMD Fusion would also be happy to know that support for AMD Fusion has been added in the Linux kernel 2.6.38. There has been significant  improvements  in the support for wireless networking. One of the most  interesting  additions here is the BATMAN Mesh Protocol. It is an acronym for “Better Approach To Mobile Adhoc Networking” and has nothing to do with the super hero. BATMAN is a routing protocol for in which  each node participates in routing by forwarding data for other nodes, and so the determination of which nodes forward data is made dynamically based on the network connectivity.

The Linux kernel 2.6.38 is expected to be included in all the major Linux distributions like Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15, which are expected to be released this spring, and Mandriva 2011, which is expected this summer.

If you want to know more, you can read about it at

Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 Released

After a two days delay, the Mandriva team has released the first beta of Mandriva 2011 yesterday. This is a release meant for testing before the final version is released in June 2011.

Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 is based on the Linux kernel and has KDE Software Compilation 4.6.1 for its desktop. This Linux kernel is not the latest version available, but the KDE SC is the latest stable version. It will be upgraded to Linux kernel 2.6.38 in a later update or in beta 2. For users who do not prefer KDE SC, Mandriva is also available with GNOME 2.32.1 and XFCE 4.8.0.

Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 features the latest versions of various applications like Firefox 4 Release Candidate 1, Thunderbird 3.1.9, 3.2.0 etc. The default music player in Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 is Clementine 0.6 and Choqok is included as the default microblogging client. I find it interesting that Mandriva is still sticking with OpenOffice rather than LibreOffice unlike Ubuntu and Fedora.

Visually too, Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 has some changes. The GUI installer now uses the same theme as the default Mandriva theme. The KDE style and KDE window theme has also be changed to use Qtcurve by default.

Under the hood, this release has a lot of updated components as well. Of the updated components, mention may be made of systemd 20 , network manager, X.Org 7.5, XOrg Server 1.9.4 etc.

As with any beta software, Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 is meant for testing and should not be used in production machines. If you want to test it, you can download it from one of the mirrors in the link below.

Download Mandriva 2011 Beta 1

This beta will be followed by another beta and a release candidate. The final stable release of Mandriva 2011 is expected scheduled for 13 june 2011.

If you want more details, you can read the release note announcement here and the release note here.

If you do decide to test this beta release, do not forget to report bugs you encounter at Mandriva’s Bugzilla page.

[image credit]

Thunderbird To Get Ubuntu One Integration

Yesterday we wrote about Thunderbird being integrated to Ubuntu’s new user interface, Unity. However Thunderbird’s integration into Ubuntu is not about to end at that.

Today Mike Conley, the same person who developed the Unity integration, has said that the next step after Thunderbird Unity Launcher is to get Ubuntu One Contact integration in Thunderbird.

Ubuntu One is a cloud storage service launched by Canonical for Ubuntu users. The service allows users to sync files, contacts etc. across different computers running Ubuntu. Canonical provides the service for free for upto 2GB of storage.

Currently contact sharing through Ubuntu One is supported only in Evolution, which comes as the default email client in Ubuntu. Mike Conley plans to bring this feature in Thunderbird as well.

This is what he wrote:

That’s a pretty cool idea. Imagine it you get a brand new computer, hook it up to Ubuntu One, and blam: all of your bookmarks and contacts are already there waiting for you.

Currently, however, Thunderbird does not support sharing contacts via Ubuntu One.

And that’s what I’m tackling next.

According to Conley, the plan is to develop an extension which can import the Ubuntu One Contact to a new address book in Thunderbird. This will ensure that contact list from Evolution also appear in Thunderbird as well. Not only that, when you do a clean install of Ubuntu, it will enable you to get back your contact list from your previous installation.To keep things simple at the start, Conley is not planning to allow adding of new contacts from Thunderbird to the Ubuntu One Contact. This feature will probably be added once the contact import feature is done.

With the Unity launcher integration and, now, the Ubuntu One integration, it looks like Thunderbird in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is going to be very impressive.

If both these features make it to Thunderbird in time, which email client would you prefer – Thunderbird or Evolution?

Thunderbird Gets Unity Integration

Ubuntu is getting a brand new user interface, called Unity, in its next release – Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narhwal”. As you are probably aware, Ubuntu uses Evolution as the default email client, and so Thunderbird integration for Unity is not a priority for Canonical. However, Mike Conley of Mozilla has been hard at work coming up with a way to integrate Thunderbird into the Unity Launcher and he has just released the first Thunderbird extension that does just that for testing .

The Thunderbird Unity Launcher extension provides a really cool integration of Thunderbird into Ubuntu’s Unity launcher. With the extension installed, the number of new unread messages in Thunderbird is displayed at the top-left of the Thunderbird icon in the launcher. Not only that, right clicking on the Thunderbird icon brings up a context menu item. From the context menu, users can easily open the contact list or compose a new email.

Since this is only for testing now, this feature is  available  in the form of a Thunderbird add-on. To test this feature users need to be running the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 11.04. There are no 64-bit builds available now. However, after the testing this feature will be integrated into Thunderbird and will be available to users of 64-bit versions of Ubuntu as well.

To install test the Thunderbird Unity integration, click on the link given below and install it.

Unity Launcher Integration 0.1

After installing the add-on, you will get the unread message count in the Unity launcher. However to get the context menu, you have to log off and then login again.

Remember  this is add-on is currently released for testing and you might run into bugs.  If you do encounter any bug, you can report it at

Here is a video of the Thunderbird Unity  Integration  in action:

Thunderbird Ubuntu Unity Launcher Integration from Mozilla Messaging on Vimeo.

[via Mozilla Labs]

openSUSE Considering Changing Its Distribution Naming Scheme

It looks like openSUSE is looking to drop its current naming scheme in favor of a new one which is easier to follow. Traditionally openSUSE has a naming scheme which is confusing at best. The last few releases of openSUSE were 10.3, 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3 and 11.4. Although this looks like a major and minor numbering system, it is not. For example, openSUSE 11.4 is not a minor update from openSUSE 11.3. There is no specific reason why openSUSE 11.4 was given the number 11.4 and not, say, 12.

In short, openSUSE has no fixed plan on how to name the next release. They generally count the minor number to 3 and then increase the major number – but that is not always the case as openSUSE 11.4 shows.

To replace the old naming scheme, Novell is looking at a new naming scheme which should makes it clear which release is the newer one and which has no ambiguity on what the next release will be called. On the suggestions of openSUSE developers and users, they are currently looking at several options.

One of the naming schemes that they are looking at is the one which Ubuntu uses. It is a simple method where each release is given the name YY.MM, where YY is the year and MM is the month of the release. Another scheme that they are looking at is the one Fedora uses. This is probably the simplest naming scheme. In this scheme, each stable release is given an integer – for example 12, followed by 13, 14 etc. Yet another is the one Mandriva uses. In the Mandriva naming scheme, releases are named as YYYY.N, where YYYY is the year of the release and N is the number of release in that year.

An interesting naming scheme being discussed is the octal system. In the proposed system, releases are named according to the octal number system. In this system the next release will be 012, followed by 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 020 etc. A naming system based on seasons is also proposed. According to this, releases are named as Autumn 2011, Summer 2012,  Spring 2013 etc. This naming scheme is however likely to run into problems as not everyplace has the same seasons.

Novell is still accepting suggestions for more naming schemes until 14th of March. So, if you have something in mind, do send them a suggestion. Novell is planning to have two rounds of voting to pick the final naming scheme they will go with.

Personally, I think the Ubuntu naming scheme is the easiest and best option – maybe because I am an Ubuntu user. Which naming scheme do you prefer?


DraftSight Is A Free CAD Software For Linux

When it comes to CAD software, AutoCAD is still the best one around. Unfortunately for Linux user though, AutoCAD is not available on Linux – and it also cost around $4000 which is a lot.

Dassaults Systemes has just released the first beta of an AutoCAD clone called DraftSight. Unlike AutoCAD which does not work on Linux and which cost a bomb, DraftSight has a Linux version and it is available for free as well. This is probably the closest free alternative to AutoCAD that works on Linux right now.

DraftSight has a user inteface which is not very different from that of AutoCAD. So, users of AutoCAD should be familiar with using it. In addition to the similarity in the UI, DraftSight can also open, edit and save AutoDesk’s (the company that makes AutoCAD) proprietary .dwg files. This makes DraftSight a very good alternative to AutoCAD if you want a CAD software that runs on Linux and does not cost much.

DraftSight is not open-source, but it is a free software. Beside Linux, it is available for Mac and Windows as well. For Linux, both .deb and .rpm packages are available. You can download it from here.

The package for Ubuntu is for 32-bit only. If you are using 64-bit Ubuntu and want to install it, follow the steps below. :

  • Download the .deb package from the link given above.
  • Open the Terminal and go to the download directory.
  • Now install the dependencies using the commands:
sudo apt-get install  libxcb-render-util0 libdirectfb-extra
  • Finally install DraftSight with the command given below:
sudo dpkg -i --force-architecture DraftSight.deb

Here is an introductory video of DraftSight:

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

[via WebUpd8]

The Last Remnants of Will Go Down on June 1

Sun Microsystems is a perfect example of the fact that no matter how big your army of technical expertise is, if you do not know how to do business, your venture is going nowhere.
Even after owning some state-of-the-art software, Sun made a huge mistake of putting them on their own hardware exclusively. This did not work out well and the company came plummeting down. The company has been a favorite amongst OSS enthusiasts as it was in huge support of Open Source, many of its projects being open source themselves. MySQL, Java, Apache Tomcat and OpenSolaris were the four largest projects that Sun gave to the open source community and most of the Internet is riding these waves even today. While most blogs use MySQL because of its low memory footprint, Tomcat is preferred by many corporate services dealing in banking and finance to run their operations. Java is used for its true object-orientation and security in secure web applications.

Even after such expertise and so many achievements, Sun Microsystems made one wrong business move after another. After the dot com bubble burst a decade ago, Sun was badly affected; it had to make desperate survival attempts by shutting down their facilities one after another. Finally, Oracle saved Sun the embarrassment and bought it when it was undergoing prolonged losses. The end of an era was marked, and here is a tribute to the legend.

Those who have been an absolute favorite of the company have regularly visited and will wonder what happens to the website. Well, the domain will be decommissioned on June 1st and the SDN will be moved to the SysAdmin and developer community of the OTN (Oracle Technology Network).

The blogs at the subdomain will be moved to a new location at Oracle. However, two comments on the announcement page tell us more than that.

Oracle willingly saying, “we don’t care” about this history of work that exists in the domain is yet another indication of the sad end of a real legacy of our computing history.

On whether all the blog content will be moved or not, one comment said that many blogs might not make it to their new home at Oracle.

I dont think this is a big deal. Most of the stuff on is obsolete now. I think that you will find that if you legimately pay for support you get more than what you need in oracle metalink and better quality and accuracy than the content on the sun forums anyway.