Mark Shuttleworth Closes Ubuntu Bug#1

Mark Shuttleworth has closed a long-standing Bug#1 on Launchpad. Launchpad is a project-hosting repository based on Bazaar VCS, and is used by Ubuntu developers to manage their codes and bugs. The Launchpad bug tracking system saw its first bug in August 2008, and it was more of a visionary target than a bug. It reads: “Microsoft has a majority market share”.


The bug attracted many people towards Ubuntu, fueled discussions and played a key role in bringing together a group of people with a shared vision for the Ubuntu operating system. Today, Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro and has a thriving developer community. The premises under which this bug was filed have changed, and it was time for the bug to be removed from Launchpad. Shuttleworth also writes a comment on the bug, saying,

Android may not be my or your first choice of Linux, but it is without doubt an open source platform that offers both practical and economic benefits to users and industry. So we have both competition, and good representation for open source, in personal computing.

Today, personal computing has moved beyond PCs, and it includes a plethora of other devices that keep us connected to the Internet 24X7. Lots of responsibilities of the PC have been offloaded to these devices and while Microsoft still has a monopoly on the PC market, in the overall computing sphere, Linux based  platforms have emerged as strong contenders leaving Microsoft far behind in the race.

The closing of the bug also helps the Ubuntu ecosystem think in retrospect, where they are headed and how they have evolved from those early days. This bug will be remembered for its significance.

Mozilla Working with Samsung to Create a New Web-browser Engine

As a company, Mozilla has always been dedicated towards making a better web. It has a rich history, a vibrant community and strong ideologies. Mozilla has identified that the core technology behind the web-browser was designed for old computer systems. The hardware world is evolving fast, and the web-browser has not kept pace with it to make the most out of this evolution. Mozilla is planning to jump into this unexplored field, and it has Samsung by its side.


Mozilla and Samsung are working on a web-browser engine called Servo. The Servo engine will be built from scratch on modern hardware, making full use of their massively parallelism without compromising on security. This will provide for an enhanced experience on the web across devices, and the engine is being written in Rust to achieve this hardware agnosticism. Rust also has excellent concurrency features that makes it ideal for this project.

Rust and Servo are sister projects now, and will be released on Android and ARM. The primary focus here seems to be mobile devices. Rust has been in development for over two years now. It is aiming to compete with C++ and the first major version is expected at the end of this year. Samsung has contributed to the Rust project by providing an ARM backend and build-infrastructure for compiling to Android.

The web-standards in existence make it difficult for the browser to make effective use of multi-core hardware. This attempt by Firefox will attract enthusiasts and it will be developed alongside the Gecko engine.

GNOME 3.8 Released with New Features and UI Improvements

The GNOME project has announced the release of GNOME 3.8 and according to them, it is by far the best release of GNOME. The release of GNOME 3.8 follows the release of GTK+ 3.8, which also forms the base toolkit for this desktop environment. This release of GNOME 3.8 comes six months after the release of GNOME 3.6 in accordance with the six-month release cycle of GNOME.


GNOME 3.8 brings many new awesome features and improvements to the table. There have been a number of design changes in the file manager, contacts application and the documents application. The new Activities and Applications interface makes finding applications much easier. A revamped search in Activities Overview allows applications to present search results and offers control over their order in the results list.

The web browser in GNOME 3.8 has been redesigned and renamed to ‘Web’. The browser features process isolation that prevents application-wide crashes and improves security like Google Chrome and Firefox. This has been made possible using the new WebKit2 API.

Another interesting feature of GNOME 3.8 is the Classic Mode, which provides a traditional GNOME look, keeping all the GNOME 3 features intact.


GNOME 3.8 also introduces new privacy settings that allow users to hide their name from the menu bar and disable history, thus allowing a greater control over the amount of data GNOME collects about its users. The look and feel has also been improved greatly and new transitions and animations have been introduced to create a smoother workflow.


The source code for GNOME 3.8 is available on GitHub. Compiled binaries for GNOME 3.8 will be available for individual distros very soon. Check out the release notes for more information.

Mark Shuttleworth Clarifies Canonical’s Role in Ubuntu

If you have followed Ubuntu closely over the last two years, you will notice how it grew rapidly from being a simple Linux distro for the desktop to a full-fledged user experience across multiple devices: television, smartphones, tablets and PCs. This is highly commendable, and this evolution has been made possible by the combined efforts of Canonical and the developer community of Ubuntu. However, as it happens with any large project, some Ubuntu developers are averse to this idea of transforming Ubuntu into a cloud-based multi-device platform.


In a reply to those developers, Mark Shuttleworth has talked about the position of Canonical in the development of Ubuntu. Mark Shuttleworth believes that cloud and mobile have a bright future and will make a bigger impact. Ubuntu needs to gear up for that, and that is the reason that they have focused on this multi-platform strategy. Ubuntu is being made future-proof in this manner.

He has also declared that while Ubuntu is a community effort (and will always be), Canonical plays a major role in this project and nurtures it like a baby.

There are lots of pure community distros. And wow, they are full of politics, spite, frustration, venality and disappointment. Why? Because people are people, and work is hard, and collaboration is even harder. That’s nothing to do with Canonical, and everything to do with life. In fact, in most of the pure-community projects I’ve watched and participated in, the biggest meme is ‘if only we had someone that could do the heavy lifting’. Ubuntu has that in Canonical – and the combination of our joint efforts has become the most popular platform for Linux fans.

Undoubtedly, Canonical’s role in Ubuntu is that of a visionary leader. Canonical has based a business around this product, so it has a vested interest in the Ubuntu project too. That is the reason why Canonical has always played a leadership role in the Ubuntu project and it has done a good job at it. However, there is a high probability that this attitude of Mark Shuttleworth (whose thoughts reflect that of Canonical’s) can actually spark politics, spite, frustration, venality and disappointment in the Ubuntu community, turning it into one of those projects that he so strongly detests as seen above.

Ubuntu for Tablets Revealed with Awesome Multitasking Capabilities

After the desktop PC, the television and the smartphone, Ubuntu has finally landed on the last content consumption device out there- the tablet. Canonical has recently teased its Ubuntu for tablet, and it is a marvelous piece of technology. It brings the seamless Ubuntu user experience to a touch interface, which makes the interface much more relevant and fun to use. Some additional features have also been built on top of the conventional Ubuntu interface, which are specific to a tablet interface, giving Ubuntu for tablets a fresh look and feel.


Ubuntu for tablets comes with a Unity like app launcher sidebar, and a side stage that holds social updates and other apps that need your action.  This makes optimal use of the screen real estate. You can drag content between apps, and your app launcher sidebar doubles up as an app switcher, making it easier to multitask. However, the best feature of Ubuntu for tablets would undoubtedly be the non-intrusive notification that allows you to stay on your app while watching that video or reading that article, and yet respond to a message or send out a tweet, like Android notifications but enhanced.

This video demonstrates the capabilities of Ubuntu for tablets and also talks about a seamless Ubuntu experience across multiple devices — the smartphone, the tablet, the PC and the television.

Although Canonical is not talking about any hardware partners yet, it has mentioned hardware specs like an A15 processor, a 2 GB RAM and an 8 GB hard disk, which definitely rules out some devices. The first appearance of Ubuntu for tablet is due this Thursday, and it is arriving on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets as a Developer Preview. Apart from that, it will also be available on the Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 4 smartphones.

It is clear that Ubuntu for tablets and smartphones is trying to grab Android’s market share, as the partner page says things like,

Without the overhead of a Java virtual machine, Ubuntu runs core software at native speeds giving you
fast, fluid transitions and a responsive design – even on low-end devices.

If you already make devices that run Android, the work to adopt Ubuntu
will be minimal.

The response from this Thursday will be a deciding factor for whether Ubuntu for tablets and smartphones will gain momentum.

December 2012 Steam Survey Includes Linux

Gaming on Linux is getting more interesting by the day. Valve has updated its Steam December Survey to include Linux statistics. This is Valve’s first month with Linux and even though the Steam for Linux system is still in a beta stage, Linux users already account for 0.8% of total Steam users. This figure is expected to increase once Steam for Linux comes out of beta, and reaches more Linux distros. Nonetheless, this is a good start for Steam for Linux.


The Steam hardware and software survey is explained as,

Steam conducts a monthly survey to collect data about what kinds of computer hardware and software our customers are using. Participation in the survey is optional, and anonymous. The information gathered is incredibly helpful to us as we make decisions about what kinds of technology investments to make and products to offer.

In other statistics, Windows 7 64 bit is the leading operating system with more than 50% of the total user share and the favorite primary display resolution of Steam gamers is 1920×1080. While 60% of all Steam users use Mozilla Firefox, only 11.56% of them were found using Google Chrome, which is surprisingly low (lower than Internet Explorer at 19.82%) given Google Chrome’s market share.

Another interesting fact is that the number of Steam users on 64 bit versions of Ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04 are almost double that of 32 bit users (unlike Windows 7, where 64 bit users are four times of 32 bit users), which is probably for Physical Address Extension (PAE).

FSF Campaigns to Stop Restricted Boot

The free software foundation has started a campaign to prevent restricted boot from becoming an industry standard in hardware. If you were living under a rock lately, restricted boot is exactly the kind of evil that will kill the PC, as we know it. Restricted boot is being sold as UEFI and although it is marketed as a security feature, it is a well-devised mechanism to create a vendor lock-in for Windows 8. That means, if your PC is secured with UEFI 2.2, you will not be able to install any operating system whose bootloader is not signed.


Although the original EFI specification was developed by Intel, it was done with the Windows OS in mind. With this move, custom kernels will be a thing of the past, as the kernel must be signed with the developer’s private key and the OEM should ship its PC with the required key alongside the Microsoft key.

Currently, the campaign by FSF has gathered 40,000 signers who support the FSF in this movement, and want to rid the world of this evil. The campaign’s appeal page goes here, and it outlines plans for the next year.

Currently, Ubuntu Linux 12.10 supports UEFI secure boot by loading GRUB though a workaround, and then proceeding with the boot. Beside this workaround, Canonical also has its private key, which will be used on certified OEM PCs. From what it seems, you need to be a big corporation to be able to fiddle with an x86 PC now.

The Linux Foundation also announced back in October that it would start working on its own version of a minimal UEFI bootloader signed with Microsoft’s key. However, it is still waiting for Microsoft to give them a signed pre-bootloader.

Enlightenment 0.17 Finally Sees the Light of Day

Some software releases develop a notorious reputation for being in development for a prolonged period, so much that people almost forget about them. Enlightenment 0.17, also known as E17 is one such release, which has arrived after 12 years in development. To put things in perspective, that is how old the PlayStation 2 is!

Enlightenment has many advantages over other window managers. It is a full-fledged platform with libraries to create intriguing user interfaces rapidly. Known as the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), this suite realizes a complete framework, with the window manager forming an integral, but not a decisive part.

The window manager is a lean, fast, modular and very extensible window manager for X11 and Linux. It is classed as a “desktop shell” providing the things you need to operate your desktop (or laptop), but is not a whole application suite. This covered launching applications, managing their windows and doing other system tasks like suspending, reboots, managing files etc.


The project has a huge growth potential as the Enlightenment Windows manager can work on a variety of devices (architectures). The next step should be packaging the release for various distros, which would facilitate a wider adoption. If this final step is not executed with care, this prolonged development effort will go to waste. Moreover, this step should come sooner for more people to be able to try out Enlightenment 17.

All the intricate details are well documented at this page. Also, check out the release announcement here.

VLC Takes to Kickstarter to Fund Windows 8 App Development

2012 is probably going to go down as the year crowd funding grew up. Kickstarter projects reached unprecedented levels of success as the crowd funding service gained steam. Elevation Dock for iPhone became the first project to cross the million dollar mark in February 2012. Soon after, Pebble watch shattered all records and went on to raise more than $10 million, which was over hundred times its initial goal. Since then, we have seen numerous projects like Ouya, and Project Eternity surge past the million dollar milestone with ease. While initially most Kickstarter projects belonged to the art and media segment, this year saw hardware and software projects take the lead. Now, even established projects like VLC are also taking to Kickstarter to meet their goals.


The VideoLan team has started a funding drive on Kickstarter to back the development of Windows 8 User Experience (Metro) app for VLC. The team already has already built a working prototype with minimal features and is looking to raise at least £40,000. VLC is aiming to release a Windows Store compliant Metro app that will run on both Intel and ARM chipsets. The new app will be completely rewritten with the WinRT APIs and feature a touch optimized user interface, while retaining most of the best features of VLC including full-fledged equalizer, video filters and superior support for subtitles. Unlike the built-in media player, out of the box support for CDs, DVDs, as well as unencrypted Blu-Rays is also planned. VLC is hoping that the fund-raiser will allow it to hire professional designers to build a beautiful and clean user interface, in addition to allowing many of its experienced developers to work full-time on the project.

VLCs fund-raising drive will continue for a month, and you have a chance to get your name in the application by pledging as little as £3. If the fund-raising goal is met, VLC app for Windows 8 is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2013.

PengPod Brings a true Linux Tablet with Dual Boot

There are a number of Android tablets in the market, but very few of them are marketed as being purely open devices. There are some other manufacturers as well, who have taken a shot at creating Linux based tablets, but have never been popular. The open-source tablet ecosystem is dominated by Android, which provides an unmatched experience with its apps. However, PengPod might change this notion with its dual boot tablet, which runs on both Android and Linux.

This dual boot tablet is powered by an ARM Cortex A8 processor and has a MALI 400 GPU with OpenGL support. It runs on an 800 MHz DDR3 RAM extendable up to 1 GB. The PengPod supports a max of 2160p video playback, and has an USB port, an HDMI port and is quite powerful. The processor has a low power consumption for its specs, which gives it a high power efficiency. The Allwinner Linux kernel source is open source and is well maintained, and this has been a big help for the PengPod tablet.

The tablet is priced at $120 and it would not be wise to expect a Nexus 10 like finesse from this tablet. However, it is a great attempt, and they are running a fundraiser on Indiegogo that will go towards improving the project.

Our experience has proven it takes a lot of time to locate, research, build and run all the pieces needed for a working A10 Linux system. We are working to coalesce all these parts into a stable image so users can be up and running right away. Our time is precious and every hour we can avoid redoing something that already works is another we can spend hacking!

Learn more at Also, consider making a donation at this Indiegogo campaign.