Minecraft “notches” it up with Beta

It’s been indie gaming’s very own rags-to-riches to story (well, approximately at least). When Markus Alexej Perrson, better known as Notch, started work on Minecraft back in May 2009, he had no idea that it’d grow so huge before release that he’d have his own company before the Beta release. The blocky (literally) sandbox game is what I have phrased to a friend as lego for grown-ups. Assuming, of course, that these fine folks are still kids at heart.

However, lego for grown-upsisn’t an accurate descriptor of the game at all, I must confess. But then again, if punching trees for wood, making rollercoasters, USS Enterprises and giant statues of dragons, constructing 8-bit CPUs and portals to the netherworld and, of course,   riding pigs on saddles isn’t up on your list of things to do in a game I’m afraid you’re wasting your time here. Minecraft has been infinitely discussed and the number of videos of it on YouTube exceed Quake’s.

Nevertheless, we aren’t here to read about the game, we are here to know what’s new in the game, aren’t we?

Well, actually according to Notch, there’s nothing major planned for Beta. It’s still going to be the same old game as the latest alpha version. However, a few game changes have been planned and implemented, such as these:-

* Working server-side inventory! (the biggest part of the update)
* Made SMP servers save chunks way less often in most cases.
* Moving too far away from a container, or having it blow up, closes the inventory screen
* Fixed /kill
* Introduced leaf decay again. It acts differently from before
* You can now throw eggs

Oh, and the price has gone up from 9.95 Euro to 14.95 Euro. Also, say bye bye to free expansions from today.

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 Released

As scheduled, the first alpha of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is available for download. The biggest change from the last stable release (Ubuntu 10.10) is the Unity desktop interface. Unity landed just a few days ago and so it remains quite buggy and rough. In case you do not like Unity, the classic desktop is still available. Unity is now based on Compiz, not Mutter as was the cased in UNE 10.10. This means that Unity feels a bit smoother now.

Other than Unity, there are some changes as well. The Linux kernel has been updated to version 2.6.1937 and Firefox 4 Beta 7 has been included. The indicator menu has also received some changes – nothing drastic just little tweaks.

A change which I absolutely hate is the addition of global menu. I knew it was coming but it feels counter-productive on a large monitor.

All in all, Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 still looks a lot like Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition.

If you want to help out with the testing, you can download it from here. Remember that this is an alpha and should not be installed in a production machine.

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

Download Fennec Alpha for Android 2.0+ (and N900)

Finally, after quite a long time, Firefox’s mobile version Fennec is available for download for phones running the Android OS version 2.0 or higher and the Nokia N900 Maemo phone. Fennec is still in its Alpha stage and is far from rock-solid and stable. Development is slow, but it promises to deliver seamless web experience between your desktop and mobile. It includes the Firefox Sync addon and increased performance due to two major technologies that were implemented in the current iteration called Electrolysisand Layers.


Electrolysis is a technology that allows the Fennec interface to run as a separate process from the web renderer, improving stability and increasing usability. Fennec can thus react faster to user input instead of being bogged down by a large page that is being downloaded. The Beta version of Fennec will start taking advantage of Layers to greatly improve performance in graphic intensive actions like scrolling, zooming, animations and video.

You can download Fennec from the Mozilla site. Don’t forget to read the release notes. Do remember that this is an Alpha build and might not be stable or fast. Fennec Alpha currently runs on Android 2.0 or higher, or the Nokia N900.

Fedora 14 Alpha Released – Includes ROOT

After the one week delay, the first alpha of Fedora 14 codenamed “Laughlin” has been released today.

Not much has changed in Fedora 14 Alpha in terms of the looks since Fedora 13. However there are a lot of changes under the hood. Some important changes includes the inclusion systemd and ROOT.

Here is a brief description of some of the new features:


One of the biggest changes in Fedora 14 is the inclusion of systemd. systemd is a system and session manager for Linux. In the previous release Fedora used the Canonical developed upstart. However with Fedora 14, they are replacing upstart with systemd because they believe that it is faster and offers more features. If you are interested, you can read more about systemd  here.

Introduction of ROOT

This is another very big new feature in Fedora 14. Fedora 14 Alpha supports ROOT, an obejct-oriented, open-source platform for data acquisition, simulation and data analysis developed by CERN.

Introduction of D

Fedora 14 now ships with D, an object-oriented system programming language. Currently most of the D compilers directly generates machine codes for efficient execution.

Other programing languages like Perl, Python etc. have also been updated.

New JPEG library

The old JPEG library libjpeg has been replaced by libjpeg-turbo. This will greatly increase the performance of any application handling JPEG images.

Desktop Environment

Fedora 14 Alpha includes the pre-release version of GNOME 2.32. It also includes KDE Software Compilation 4.5 and Sugar 0.90.


Fedora 14 Alpha has support for SCAP. SCAP (Security Content Automation Protocol) allows users to scan their system to check whether it complies with a defined security configuration.


Fedora 14 Alpha includes SPICE. SPICE (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environment) is an open source solution for interacting with virtual desktops.

You can read more about the new features in Fedora 14 Alpha here.

If you want to test it, the download link is given below.

Download Fedora 14 Alpha

Whats New In Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Alpha 3

The Ubuntu Release Team has just announced the release of third alpha of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. This is an alpha release and, hence, is not meant for daily usage. It is meant for testing by developers and interested users.

This is what Martin Pitt from the Ubuntu Release Team wrote announcing the release:

Alpha 3 is the third in a series of milestone CD images that will be released throughout the Maverick development cycle. The Alpha images are known to be reasonably free of showstopper CD build or installer bugs, while representing a very recent snapshot of Maverick.

The third alpha brings a lot of new changes/features. Here are some:

Linux Kernel 2.6.35

Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 3 uses the Linux Kernel 2.6.35. This kernel includes a lot of security enhancements over the previous kernels. It also has some interesting new features like support for Apple’s Magic Mouse and faster packet transmission.

Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center has undergone some changes. The main page now shows “Featured” applications and also has a “Whats New” section. It also supports plugins now.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition

The Ubuntu Netbook Edition now uses the Unity interface by default. Global menu also makes an appearance.


In Kubuntu, KDE SC 4.5 RC is used for this release. As expected, the default browser has also been changed to rekonq.


If you want to try it out here is the download link: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/maverick/alpha-3/

If you would like to upgrade from Ubuntu 10.04 directly (not recommended!), open the terminal, execute the command below and follow the on-screen instructions.

update-manager -d

The final release is scheduled for 10th October 2010.

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Alpha 2 Released

The second alpha of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat is finally here. While there is no visual change from Ubuntu 10.04, there are plenty of changes under the hood.

If you want want to download it, here is the link: Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Alpha 2

Remember that this is only an alpha release and is meant for testing purposes only.

Whats new in Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 2? Here is a brief description of the changes.

Support For Btrfs

With the second alpha of Maverick, Ubuntu finally supports Btrfs. Btrfs is a new file system with a lot on interesting features like snapshot, roll-back etc. EXT4 is still the default file-system though.

Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center has now got some changes. Featured applications are shown main screen instead of just a link. There is also a place where new applications will be featured.

The Software Center also has Twitter integration so that you can share your favorite applications with the world.

Aptitude has been removed

Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 2 no longer comes with aptitude installed. The reason stated for the removal is that it does almost the same function as apt-get and most people seem to prefer apt-get. You can still install it from the repository if you want.

New Application and File Menu in UNE

The Unity interface for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 Alpha 2 now has a new applications and file menu. It is now much more functional than the previous one.