Category Archives: Open Source Software

Rythmbox To Remain As Default Music Player In Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10

In the Ubuntu Developers Summit – Maverick, a decision was made to replace Rythmbox, the current default music player, with a new one in UNE 10.10.

Banshee was picked as the replacement and the developers have been working on getting it ready for October 10 (that is the date for the release of UNE 10.10). They have even finished works on tweaking the Banshee UI to go with the new Unity interface that is making an appearance in Maverick.

In an update to the blueprint today, there is a change in that plan. Banshee is now deemed too buggy to be the default music player. So, for UNE 10.10, Rhythmbox will retain its position.

The plan to have Banshee instead of Rhythmbox is now postponed till UNE 11.04 Natty Narwhal.

Banshee will still be there in the repository as always.

[via OMG! UBUNTU!]

Download Songbird 1.8.0 For Linux

Songbird 1.8.0 has been released under the codename “Orbital” for Mac OS X and Windows. The new release has a number of improvements in terms of performance and some new features, like support for USB storage device class. The number of supported devices have also been increased.

Songbird is no longer officially supported in Linux. But, through community effort, Songbird 1.8.0 is also available for Linux; without any support, of course.

To use Songbird 1.8.0, open the terminal and download the version.

For 32-bit:


For 64-bit:


Then, extract the tarball.

For 32-bit:

tar -xzf Songbird_1.8.0-1800_linux-i686.tar.gz

For 64-bit:

tar -xzf Songbird_1.8.0-1800_linux-x86_64.tar.gz

Make the file executable.

cd Songbird
chmod u+x singbird

Then, open your file browser, go inside the Songbird folder and double-click on a file named “songbird” to launch Songbird.

Or, you can just do this from the command line:


Ubuntu Software Center Continues To Make Great Improvements

The Ubuntu Software Center is probably one of the most actively developed feature for Maverick. It now has an updated look with features apps and new apps. It has also got plugin supports and some form of social media integration.

Well, it continues its improvement and now it will handle the installation of .deb file, instead of the old Gdebi. Now, when you click on a .deb file, the Ubuntu Software Center will open.

This is a very good move from Canonical and it will streamline the installation of applications in Ubuntu. However, a concern that some people have been raising is that it would make a third-party .deb file seem like it is from the repository. In the current implementation, there is a warning, but perhaps it would be a good idea to make it more visually distinct – say, a different color background, as people are suggesting.

In a related news, the Ubuntu Software Center has got its first paid application. The application is Fluendo DVD Player and they are selling it for $24.95.

[via: OMG!UBUNTU!]

Ubuntu 10.10 Beta Released

Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat” has finally entered the beta stage. And, as usual, along with Ubuntu its other official derivatives have also entered the beta stage.

Here are some of the changes with the download links:

(Warning: This is not a stable release and is meant for testing only.)

Ubuntu Desktop

  • The desktop environment has been updated to GNOME 2.31.
  • Shotwell is now the default photo manager.
  • Gwibber has been updated with OAuth support. It has also received some in the  back-end  to improve its performance.
  • The Software Center has an updated look with new “Featutes” and “What’s New” sections.
  • The Ubuntu One desktop integration has been polished.
  • The sound indicator now includes the music player controls.


Ubuntu Netbook

  • Unity is now the default interface.
  • Global Menu bar is included by default.
  • Shotwell is the default photo manager.
  • Evolution Express is the default Email client.




Is Android Free? Microsoft Does Not Think So

Everyone is of the opinion that Google Android operating system is free. They do not charge a licensing fee and anyone is free to use it. So it is free right?

Well, Microsoft says not quite. According to Microsoft, Android has many hidden costs and if all these costs are combined Android cost more than Windows Phone 7. Incidentally Microsoft is charging $15 for each Windows Phone 7 license. Microsoft argues that their $15 license is a better deal for OEMs.

These are the reasons why Android is costlier than Windows Mobile 7 according to Microsoft are:

  1. OEMs are not using the stock Android build. All Android OEMs are bearing costs beyond free.
  2. Lawsuits over disputed Android IP have been costly for Android OEMs.
  3. The Android landscape is fragmented with all sorts of hardware. OEMs have to spend resources into developing drivers for these hardware.
  4. The update architecture of Android means that OEMs having to sink engineering resources into each and every Android update.
  5. Android OEMs need to pay for licenses for many must-have features that are standard in Windows Phone 7. For example audio/video codecs.
  6. Quality Assurance on Android devices are more expensive than Windows Phone 7 because Windows Phone 7 has automated testing.
  7. Creating equivalents of Zune, XBox LIVE etc. on Android devices will be costly.

There are some good points there. But I think some are flawed. For example, I do not agree with the first point. Yes many OEMs do not use the stock Android and that costs resources. But it is the OEMs which choses to customize it; Android (or should I say Google) is not forcing them to do it. It is called freedom – something which Microsoft will never understand.

What do you think? Do you think Windows Mobile 7 is cheaper than Android?


ZFS Support Will Continue In FreeBSD

Today, in a message to the mailing list, Pawel Jakub Dawidek has said that FreeBSD will continue supporting ZFS even though OpenSolaris is dead.

ZFS support has been present in FreeBSD for a while now. But after Oracle discontinued OpenSolaris and moved Solaris into closed development, there were some concerns about the fate of ZFS in FreeBSD. Pawel’s message has made it clear that ZFS support will continue in FreeBSD. He also said that they will be working with the people behind the IllumOS Project. The IllumOS is a fork of OpenSolaris developed after Oracle killed OpenSolaris.

This is what Pawel wrote:

Eventhough OpenSolaris is dead, the ZFS file system is going to stay in FreeBSD. At this point we have quite a few developers involved in ZFS on FreeBSD as well as serveral companies. We are also looking forward to work with IllumOS.

To confirm their continued ZFS support, he has also released a newer version of the ZFS port for FreeBSD for testing. Some of the new features with this update are:

  • Data Deduplication
  • Triple Parity Raidz
  • Snap shot hold

You can see all the new features here.

[via: Phoronix]

Ksplice Joins Fedora, now free on Fedora and Ubuntu

We have covered Ksplice earlier, when it debuted around a year back during this time. Ksplice is a breakthrough technology in Linux as it eliminates the need to reboot a Linux system. Most of the time, reboots are necessary as in case of kernel updates. However, Ksplice  eliminates the need for any reboot as it can apply all kernel patches in live.

Ksplice blog announces this by saying,

In response to many requests, Ksplice is proud to announce we’re now providing Uptrack free of charge for Fedora!

Fedora will join Ubuntu Desktop among our free platforms, and will give Fedora users reboot less updates as long as Fedora maintains each major kernel release.

However, of note: Fedora is the only Linux distribution that migrates to a new Linux kernel version family (e.g. 2.6.33 to 2.6.34) during the lifetime of the product. This kernel version family migration is such a major version change that Ksplice recommends a reboot for this version change. These migrations occur roughly twice per year and only in Fedora; all of the other important Fedora kernel updates can be applied bootlessly, as can the kernel updates for the rest of our supported Linux distributions.

Fedora has recently decided to provide Ksplice update to its users for free. This feature is already available on Ubuntu for free whereas Red Hat, Centos, Debian, Ubuntu Server and CloudLinux provide this feature on a nominal fee. Free or not, this is one service every Linux user should have and Fedora users are very excited to have this feature.


XBMC 10.0 Dharma, Beta 1 now comes with a new Add-on System

The XBMC project is progressing extremely slowly and it can be seen in the development time of the first beta of XBMC 10.0 that took nine months to arrive. However, the first beta of the new version Dharma sports a new support for add-ons. This brings the PLAF to XBMC and improves it further.


The XBMC about page describes it as,

XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, Windows, and the original Xbox. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages.

With the new feature of add-ons; scriptwriters, skin developers and designers can create custom UI on the XBMC media manager. The new add-on system also features an automatic update feature and XBMC has already received an overwhelming response from developers.

Other significant changes in the latest version includes better 64 bit support, better WebM support and support for hardware acceleration of video playback. The version in question is a beta 1 and users are strictly advised to back up their profile before proceeding with the installation.

The lack of a good media manager in Linux makes XBMC the undoubted unanimous champion. It has been almost a year since the last stable release and hopefully, we will see the final version by this year-end.


KDE Software Compilation 4.5.1 Released

Today, the first update to the KDE Software Compilation 4.5 has been released as KDE SC 4.5.1. KDE SC 4.5.1, codenamed “Cronjob” is just a bug-fix release, so there is no new features or any drastic changes.

This release is meant to improve the stability and the user experience. There are a number of bug-fixes with this release. Some of the notable ones are:

  • The bug which caused KArchive to crash on extracting large files have been fixed.
  • The bug which caused Dolphin to crash when switching from column view to another has been fixed.
  • The regression which crept in KDE SC 4.5 which disabled KWin Desktop Effects with some browsers has been fixed.
  • KRunner now displays file search results by tag correctly.
  • Plasma no longer crashes when changing the layout of panels.

For the complete changelog, you can go here.

This is a safe upgrade for everyone who is using KDE SC 4.5 and upgrade is recommended.

It is not available for Kubuntu as of now. I will update as soon as it is available.

[Release Note]

Burning Man simplifies GSM, Develops Open Source Cellular Network

This is the biggest breakthrough in cellular network technology. Burning Man will showcase a GSM network that is open-source, uses solar power and is low cost. Coming to the underlying technology, it introduces VOIP with existing handsets without the need to buy any new devices.

Glenn Edens, one of the founders of the service describes it as,

We make  GSM look like a wireless access point. We make it that simple.

The VOIP used is Asterix and the backend is OpenBTS. This allows them to interfere signals and modify them with ease. The developers are working hard for promotional work are giving away 50,000 cellphones to people who want to try this out. The free cellphones will be given to attendees at Burning Man.

A test network will be present at the conference to test the system in implementation. The test network thus created will be valid only inside of the Burning Man compound and will not be available outside because it needs to get a proper license before going global.

The system does not depend on one type of connectivity only and is flexible beyond imagination. For example, it can take the Internet route to transmit voice. This system looks promising for remote ares who still do not have cellular services.


Ancient Kernel Hole in Linux fixed after Two Months of reporting

An ancient kernel hole in Linux, which has been present from 2003, was recently closed after constant nagging and bug reports. The problem was with the X server using a huge stack that has a good chance of running into an adjacent heap memory.

The same vulnerability was cited earlier and was brought to the notice of the Linux security team a number of times but they turned a deaf ear to it each time. Only recently, they have taken this seriously and Torvalds has finally fixed this bug. However, the bugfix itself requires a further fix and the complete change will appear in the next stable update of the Linux kernel. As for those running a development version, it is available for download  here.

Torvalds has implemented a guard between the stack and the heap so that the stack does not overrun the heap memory in any case. However, people everywhere are frowning upon the time of two months this problem took to be fixed, after the first citation and the first formal reporting. Linux has been held in high esteem for its security and this matter has earned Linux some bad name already.

Keith Packard, an hacker was also working on a fix for this but his code was rejected by Torvalds as it violated some internal VM rules. The vulnerability was of an extremely serious nature.  As Rutkowska puts it,

While it isn’t a direct remote exploit, it only takes one vulnerable X client (web browser, PDF viewer, etc.) to turn it into something that is remotely exploitable.


Microsoft Planning to License SDL under Creative Commons

Microsoft is planning to change its process of developing secure software. The current Security Development License (SDL), widely used at Microsoft will now be available under a Creative Commons License. This makes it easier for developers to integrate SDL into their products and for other users to use and distribute these products and the license. SDL is described as,

The Microsoft SDL is a security assurance process that is focused on software development. It is a collection of mandatory security activities, grouped by the phases of the traditional software development life cycle (SDLC). Combining a holistic and practical approach, the SDL introduces security and privacy throughout all phases of the development process with the goal of protecting end-users.

The SDL License will now be free from the earlier exclusive Microsoft license by virtue of which, will see more number of standard software out in the market. SDL is strictly followed by Microsoft itself from Windows Vista onwards. Many other papers from the SDL portal will also receive this update as pointed out by David Ladd, the Principal Security Program Manager at Microsoft.

SDL was proposed by Bill Gates in 2002 and this has held up for the last eight years. After these eight years, Microsoft has felt that it should share this standard with the world and has taken the right decision in doing so.


How To Access Your Linux Partitions From Windows

[Windows only] We’ve all been in this situation before. A lot of times. Imagine you have a dual boot system, running Linux and Windows. You spend quite a lot of time on your Linux partition. On the occasion that you boot into Windows, you realize that the important file you have been working on is saved on your Linux partition. Now to get that file, you could boot back into your Linux partition, save it on your Windows partition and boot back into Windows but that’s a drag.

This is where Ext2Read comes in. Ext2Read is a Free & Open Source Software which allows you to browse your Linux partitions in a very Windows Explorer-esque interface. Unlike other tools that we’ve covered before, Ext2Read also supports ext4 filesystem, even if extents feature is enabled. Like the name suggests Ext2Read can only read, not write to the partitions so in case you are paranoid about the tool causing data corruption to your Linux partitions, you can drop those fears.

Using the tool is pretty easy just download the file from its SourceForge page, and run it. Windows Vista/ Windows 7 users will have to run it as an Administrator to Ext2Read to work correctly. To do this, just right click on the file and Select Run as Adminstrator’

Once you start the application, it will show all your Linux partitions on the left and the files on the respective partitions on the right.


To transfer a file just right click on it and select save.


Overall, the application is pretty good, and quite honestly, the only negative thing about it is the way the icons are arranged, especially if you have lots of files with varying filename lengths in which case it looks pretty shabby.


Techie Buzz Verdict:

Ext2Read is probably one of the best tools to read data from your Linux partition. If you dual boot your system with Windows & Linux, this is a must have tool.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Linux will get Native ZFS Support from September this Year

ZFS is an excellent file system when we consider integrity. The first non-commercial availability of ZFS came with OpenSolaris and then, it was made available on some Linux distributions with FUSE technology. However, ZFS has not been natively available on Linux because it is released under the CDDL license while Linux is under the GNU GPL license. For going hand in hand, it would have to clear these licensing issues.

Up until now, it was possible to use ZFS only in user-space with compromised performance using FUSE technology. This method was reported to have an adverse effect on the lifetime of the hard disk in some circumstances. Very recently, there has been a drive to port ZFS to Linux and there are many companies working on this.

KQ Infotech is one such company, which is working on a fully functional port of ZFS on Linux that will be independent of FUSE. It is expected to run in the kernel and support more options than current implementations. The better news is that, they are close to reaching this goal and there is a good chance of seeing a Linux release with native ZFS.

This development will fire up a new area of development for application developers and we will probably see a Linux implementation of the extremely popular Time Machine of MAC OS-X that is based on DTrace. In short, the ZFS file system and its snapshot feature makes implementing DTrace easier in Linux.


Microsoft Develops a Soft Corner for Open Source and Linux

Microsoft has continuously been apprehensive about Open Source and Linux. It detests Open Source like anything and Steve Ballmer, the current CEO of Microsoft has gone to the extent of  calling Linux a “cancer”. However, that was ten years ago and as time changes, people change too.

Apparently, Microsoft has decided to change its outlook of Linux and has started spreading the message of “We love Open Source”!  The person behind this change is Jean Paoli, General Manager of Microsoft’s interoperability strategy team at Microsoft.

However, we should not forget that Microsoft also has 200 patent infringement lawsuits running against Linux. It cannot continue both these processes for sure.

Clear signs of this change can be seen from the fact that Microsoft already respects Mono developers and actively supports the development of oData and Azure. It has released Development environments for PHP and Java programmers as against earlier support only for .NET developers.

Clearly, Microsoft is trying to bring about some change. Whether it is in real or just for the namesake cannot be decided yet. However, we can surely speculate that if done correctly, this will bridge the gap between two software development communities at war and will make the software world a better place.