Ubuntu Software Center UI Gets Better For Maverick

The development for Ubuntu 10.10, which is scheduled for release this  September, is going ahead at a feverish pace. The Ubuntu Software Center is one feature in Ubuntu which makes installation of software easily  manageable  for newbies. In the latest update for Maverick, the UI of the Software Center gets an overhaul.

Here is the Ubuntu Software Center before:

and here it is after the update:

Although this is not a very large change, it is a very significant change because of two reasons. First of all, the Featured Applications are, well, featured in the main page  unlike the previous one where you have to click on a button to see them. Another thing is the “Whats New?”. We can safely assume that this is where new softwares will be features. Yet another useful little feature.

[source: OMG! Ubuntu]

KDE SC 4.5 RC Available For Kubuntu 10.04

KDE SC 4.5 RC 1 was announced a few days back. Now, the Kubuntu developers have announced that it is available for Kubuntu 10.04 LTS through the Kubuntu Beta PPA. Packages for Maverick are not yet available though.

KDE SC 4.5 RC has a number of improvements including:

  • a new notification system
  • windows tiling through KWin
  • improved interface for KDE Plasma Netbook
  • choice of WebKit over KHTML in Konqueror

To upgrade to KDE SC 4.5 RC, this open the terminal and execute the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/beta
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Remember that this is not a final release. So do not upgrade on a production machine.

Did the FBI Fail to Decrypt a Hard Drive Encrypted with TrueCrypt?

The Operation Satyagraha at Rio de Janeiro has hard-drives as evidence but the problem is these five hard drives are all encrypted using TrueCrypt. This is giving the FBI a hard time as it struggles to decrypt the files on these drives.

The Operation Satyagraha took place in 2008 and the investigation has been continuing ever since. Apparently, the Brazil was investigating the drives initially but they were handed over to the FBI only when they could not handle it anymore. However, the FBI has returned the drives saying it failed to decrypt the drives.

The hard drives are using an AES and TrueCrypt. The FBI has been trying a dictionary attack on the files and has failed so far. The failure to decrypt these hard drives has brought immense shame to the FBI and has exposed its weakness at dealing with the technological advancements of modern times. Funnily enough, there exists no law in Brazil to force the banker give up his passwords.

A few months ago, there was news of the FBI director missing the fact that Google earth is not real time and does not show live data. See this hilarious news  here. This proves how the security agencies in various countries are lagging behind in technology.


Install GIMP 2.6.9 in Lucid Lynx

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program and is the best Open Source image-editing suite available for Linux as well as Windows. It is completely free and has features comparable to that of Photoshop.


We recently did a post to make GIMP look and feel like Photoshop. You can go check this page for more.

GIMP has just released a new version 2.6.9 which has a huge number of bug fixes as the major changes. There are no additional features in this release. The complete list of bug fixes is available at  this page. Some of the important ones fixed in this release are:

  • Import PDF files with long titles.
  • Shared memory leak fixes.
  • Font selection remaining visible
  • Layer preview stops updating.
  • Histogram display made more accurate.

If you are a regular GIMP user, install GIMP 2.6.9 using,

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade


Ubuntu 10.10 Now Supports Btrfs

During the Ubuntu Developer Summit – Maverick, words came out that Ubuntu may start offering Btrfs (What is Btrfs? Wikipedia link) support from Maverick. There were some words that it may even be the default file system.

As of now it seems that Ext4 will remain the default file system, but Btrfs support has been added in the latest spin of Ubuntu 10.10. The latest releases of other linux distributions like Fedora, OpenSUSE, MeeGo etc. already supports Btrfs.  Btrfs has many interesting features like snapshot, scalability etc. Fedora 13 even offers a system rollback feature in Btrfs.

In the latest spin of Ubuntu 10.10, the option to use Btrfs is available only with the manual partition and it cannot be used in /boot. This is what Colin Watson wrote in ubuntu-dev announcing the inclusion of Btrfs support:

This is still NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PRODUCTION USE and MAY EAT YOUR DATA, but we’re making the option available by way of manual partitioning only so that we can experiment with btrfs more easily, contribute fixes to various tools as needed (as we’ve already done with grub2 in order to at least get this minimal level of support in place), and the like, and hopefully to encourage some more people to get involved in its development.

The guys at Phoronix have already done a performance test of Btrfs in comparison with Ext4 in Ubuntu 10.10. In most of the test Btrfs is performing better than Ext4. It is still early days for Btrfs in Ubuntu and it would be safe to say that Btrfs is going to make Ubuntu rock even more.

Make GIMP Look Like Adobe Photoshop

GIMP does not behave like Adobe Photoshop but we can sure make it look like Photoshop! That will help Adobe Photoshop users switch between GIMP and Photoshop easily and provide for an easier user-interface.

The default GIMP layout is loathed by many given how misplaced the different windows appear. The utility panels will be unified from GIMP 2.8 but until then, we will have separate windows for each panel.

However, this YouTube video shows a cool tweak to make your GIMP appear like Photoshop. Enjoy.

Unity Gets New Application Menu – Looks Awesome!

Unity – the interface for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10, has been undergoing a great deal of development and the testing PPA has received a new update.

This update improves the application access menu. which was non-existent before, and oh boy it looks amazing. Instead of describing it, here is a screenshot:

(Click on the image to see the full size)

There are still  some issues with the interface. For example, the search does not seem to work. However, this will be fixed in time for the final release in September.

What do you think about the new Unity application menu?

In case you want to give it a go, you can install Unity in Lucid as described here.

Shuttleworth Says That Canonical is Not Developing Ubuntu For Tablets

A couple of weeks ago, Canonical’s Vice President of OEM, Chris Kenyon was quoted as saying that a light-weight touch friendly version of Ubuntu will be available in tablets by the first quarter next year. This created a lot of excitement  among the Ubuntu community.

However, Ubuntu’s Benevolent Dictator For Life, Mark Shuttleworth has denied that they are developing Ubuntu for tablets. He said that Chris Kenyon was misunderstood. He also said that Canonical’s main focus for Ubuntu remains on the desktop, netbooks and servers.

Canonical is indeed working with OEM to bring Ubuntu in various forms to the people. They are developing an instant-on version of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Light for OEMs which will be installed installed alongside another OS. Some OEMs also ship Netbooks with Ubuntu. However because of the touch intensive usage pattern of tablets, a different kind of UI is required for tablets.

I, for one, am disappointed with this news. What about you?


Ubuntu Planning to Remove the Notification Area

Ubuntu has planned to remove the notification area because, according to it, the notification area is ineffective in notifying people about changes. The graphics on the notification area is also buggy and breaks too often. Instead, the notification area will display system status menus and messages. Ubuntu has already asked developers to use other methods of notification like custom status messages and dialog boxes.

Whether this move is for good or for bad, time will tell. Now let us see what the inspiration for this change was. It is Windows! The people at Ubuntu are happy though, seeing that Microsoft leaves no stone unturned to rechristen the area as the Notification Area but people still keep calling it the good old System Tray.

Therefore, we have a +1 in Ubuntu with the fact that it is already called the Notification Area. However, in both Windows and Linux, we see only a few applications use this area as a true Notification Area. The scenario is changing in Windows 7 where many applications are actively using this area but, in Ubuntu, it is a #fail.

The Notification Area will be no more from Ubuntu 11.04. It is an advice to the application developers to integrate their notifications and other messages into one of the menu items instead.


New Skype SDK Brings Better Hardware Support

Skype is the best online voice and video suite and has a marked presence across various platforms, including the mobile platform. Skype has recently announced a new SDK, which will let developers integrate Skype functionalities into their applications as well as hardware.


This new SDK, which they are calling SkypeKit, has a full voice and video call support along with a support for IM through Skype network. Currently, only desktop applications can use this API. Skype has a separate runtime of its own that cannot be integrated with web services. The SDK also includes SILK, which is Skype’s flagship in-house audio compression tool.

Another new feature in this SDK is the availability of hardware support with which, developers can integrate Skype into hardware, like television and cellphones. Although this open SDK allows developers to use the API in their applications, the prices for using Skype’s communication networks using this API is not yet revealed. However, Skype has hinted a certification fees and a restriction on block usage of its network, which would mean a good amount of limitations.

Skype also has plans for its Skype Shop and plans to make an app store out of it. This is sensible enough as Skype is sure to build a wider presence with the features offered by this SDK.

The SDK is a closed beta for Linux only and requires invites for use. Windows and Mac versions will be available soon. Download the SDK  here.