Nokia Continues Asset Liquidation; Qt to Digia, Patents to Vringo

With the Q2 earning numbers still looming, Nokia has been trimming weight like a boss and there seems to be nothing they won’t do to get some greenbacks in their pockets.

Digia, the company who agreed to licensed Qt from Nokia back in 2011, has just taken full custody of the red-headed stepchild project. That is, they’re going to acquire all Qt software technologies AND Qt business from both what Nokia was working on, and what Trolltech was doing. While Nokia had great dreams for the cross-platform UI framework, they never really managed to actually make a dent in the mobile platform race with Qt. They agreed to leave KDE alone, and in the event that everything hit the fan, they could essentially be ousted and KDE could release Qt under the BSD license. This agreement holds true with Digia, as they stated in a news post;

We also are committed to continuing the special relationship Qt has with the KDE community via the KDE Free Qt Foundation. We believe that this symbiosis is valuable for everyone involved.

Digia plans to release Qt for iOS, Android, and Windows 8, on the double. Nokia has lagged around with Qt long enough and it’s nice to see that Digia is looking towards the future. Hopefully they can get to work with the Jolla Mobile folk and hit the ground running.

 

Vringo has also been in talks with Nokia, but this is for the purchase of over 500 patents and patent applications. If you’ve never heard of Vringo, they describe themselves as “engaged in the innovation, development and monetization of mobile technologies and intellectual property.”. If you HAVE heard of Vringo, it’s likely because either you, or somebody you know, was dumb enough to subscribe to their premium video ringtone service. A fool and his money are soon parted.

It’s quite clear that Vringo is acting as a middleman for patent usage royalties, and possible upcoming patent infringement lawsuits. Apple and Samsung can’t have all the fun, can they? It’s said the patents are worth roughly $22 million, and Vringo sold off $31 million worth of their stock in order to pay Nokia.

Hopefully Nokia has plan which consists of more than “sell it all off, let Microsoft lead the way”. Even making the first Windows Phone 8 device likely won’t save them if the asset auction continues and the board is blinded by the incoming cash flux, not realizing they are losing their roots.

Source: Digia, Vringo

KDE Enthusiast, Aaron Seigo, Builds Spark, the First Tablet with Plasma Active Pre-installed

Apple’s iPad has dominated the tablet market for quite a few years now. Nonetheless, many Android tablets have taken a shot at the iPad, and according to recent stats, they are succeeding. The tablet space is finally seeing some fair competition, now that Android tablets have captured 20% of the tablet market. Now, a new player has entered the tablet space. Aaron Seigo has revealed a new tablet called Spark, based on the KDE Plasma Active interface.

The biggest complain that open-source advocates have against Android, is that all the Android development done by handset manufacturers happens behind closed doors. This goes against the true philosophy of Open Source. This Plasma Active based tablet, developed by Aaron Seigo and team, aims to change this scenario. This tablet will be unlocked, and will sport a Linux stack, making it open in every possible form. The hardware specs of Spark are given as

The hardware is modest but compelling: 1 GHz AMLogic ARM processor, Mali-400 GPU, 512 MB RAM, 4GB internal storage plus SD card slot, a 7″ capacitive multi-touch screen and wifi connectivity.

Moreover, the price of the tablet is 200 euros or a decent $260, which is acceptable for the features it has to offer. The Spark tablet has big ambitions for the future.

The people who get to use these tablets will have in their hands a device that is more than an application bucket that sees them as a consumer. They will have a device that places value on who they are and what they are doing. This lies at the heart of Activities in Plasma Active and the open software stack will drive that trend further.

Let us see if it is able to capture the interest of the regular tablet consumer and the open source enthusiast.

KDE Brings More Eyecandy with Plasma Active 2

For years, KDE has delivered excellence in its Plasma desktop environment. The Plasma project is so big in itself, it has three parts- Plasma Desktop, Plasma Netbook and the new Plasma Active. Plasma Active turned some heads in October this year, when its first version appeared for tablets.

Plasma Active 2 claims that it adapts to the way you use your device. “Activities” in Plasma Active 2 group similar content like apps and contact together, and the “Peek&Launch” bar allows you to switch to another running app. Apparently,  Plasma Active 2  has a recommendation engine that learns usage patters and makes suggestions. Clearly, Plasma Active 2 has been built with care and will be received well by KDE fans.

This YouTube video describes the new features.

Plasma Active is intended for all types of tablets, smartphones and touch computing devices such as settop boxes, smart TVs, home automation or in-vehicle infotainment. Plasma Active is a joint project by the KDE community, basysKom and open-slx. The goals for this open source project are:

  • a fast embedded UX platform with minimal memory requirements
  • customizable and modular to support different form factors
  • an interface that adapts as users change Activities

KDE has suffered a lot because of a shortage of active developers. This resulted in a half-baked release of KDE Software Compilation 4. Plasma Active 2 is a success for the KDE Software Compilation 4, which is struggling hard to mend its damaged reputation.

For download and installation, of Plasma Active 2 on various x86 and ARM based devices,  visit this page.

Linux Mint 11 KDE To Be Based On Debian Not Kubuntu

Linux Mint is an easy to use Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu. One of the main advantage of Linux Mint has been its polish and ease of use. Recently with Ubuntu adopting the Unity UI, many Ubuntu users have migrated to Linux Mint.

linux-mint-logo Yesterday, the Linux Mint developers have announced that they will not base Linux Mint 11 KDE on Kubuntu. Instead, it will be based on Debian. It is worth remembering here that Ubuntu itself is based on Debian. By going to Debian directly, Linux Mint is cutting out the polish and features that Ubuntu brings.

Then why are they moving to Debian? Simple, the Kubuntu base needed too much resource and lacked performance. Kubuntu has never enjoyed a good reputed among KDE SC users. Most users of KDE SC will tell you that Kubuntu is one of the worst distributions for KDE.

Another issue that the Linux Mint developers have found is that the installer in Kubuntu has had a regression and cannot detect other operating systems. This will cause a big problem for new users and a big annoyance for more advance users.

Because of these issues, it has been decided that the next version Linux Mint 11 KDE will be based on Linux Mint Debian Edition (or LMDE as it is more commonly known).

No definite date for the release of Linux Minth 11 KDE has been set yet.

 

Facebook Deleting Photos Uploaded Using KDE Applications

If you are a KDE user who have used KDE applications to upload photos to Facebook, prepare for something you will have never expected. Facebook has done two things which are sure to piss off a lot of KDE users:

  • They have blocked the KIPI plugin
  • They have removed all the photos uploaded using the KIPI plugin

The KIPI (KDE Image Plugin Interface) Plugin is a common plugin structure used by many KDE applications to share image plugins among graphic libraries. Many KDE applications such as Gwenview, Digikam and KPhotoAlbum uses the KIPI plugins to upload photos to social networking sites like Facebook. Now, it seems like Facebook has banned KIPI. When users try to upload images using any application using the KIPI plugin they are getting an “Invalid API key” error message.

The problem with these KDE applications does not end here. Not only are these KDE applications banned, all photos that users have uploaded using these applications have also been removed from Facebook.

A bug report regarding this has already been filed at kde.org:

When I try to upload a picture to Facebook using KIPI plugin, it gives an error message “Facebook Call Failed: Application has been deleted”.

I also noticed that previously uploaded pictures that were uploaded using KIPI disappear from my Facebook account. other pictures that were not uploaded using KIPI are displaying fine.

However, it seems like this is an issue with Facebook not the KDE applications. A few days back, there was a problem of Facebook’s ban bot getting out of control and banning innocent applications. In all probability it seems like KIPI too has been hit by the Facebook ban bot as well.

The KDE developers have already filed for a bug report in Facebook asking for KIPI to be restored. Let us see what happens now.

How To Upgrade To KDE SC 4.6.4 In Kubuntu 11.04

kubuntu_logotype_black On June 10, the fourth maintenance release of the KDE Software compilation was released to the users. Being a maintenance release, KDE SC 4.6.4 does not bring any new features but has a lot of bug fixes from KDE 4.6.3.

What has changed in KDE SC 4.6.4?

Before we get on to the how-to-upgrade part, let us take a look at some of the important changes in KDE SC 4.6.4:

  • Do not allow invalid file names while renaming a file using Dolphin.
  • Better password handling for accessing remote servers using Dolphin.
  • The Folderview Plasmoid works correctly when dragging a file from Ark.
  • The KDE music player JuK has also received a number of bugfixes including better tag editor, better handling of the column width etc.
  • A bug which causes the notification window to slide out of screen instead of creating a new one has been fixed.

For all the bugs fixed in KDE SC 4.6.4, you can take a look at the changelog.

Upgrade To KDE SC 4.6.4

KDE Software Compilation 4.6.4 is now available for Kubuntu users. It is a safe upgrade for anyone using KDE SC 4.6.x and it is recommended that users upgrade their KDE installation to this version.

Right now it is available only for Natty (Kubuntu 11.04) users. So, Natty users can upgrade to KDE SC 4.6.4 by following the steps given below.

Open the Konsole and add the Kubuntu Updates PPA.

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

Then update the software list and upgrade your system.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

 

KDE Software Compilation 4.7 Beta Released

KDE has released the first beta of the KDE Software Compilation 4.7. KDE SC 4.7 Beta has some pretty interesting features. Here are the main new features that has been included in this release:

  • KWin supports OpenGL-ES 2.0
  • KDM can interface with GRUB2
  • Marble supports offline search

kde-47-b

Now let us take a look at these features in a little more details.

KWin supports OpenGL-ES 2.0

OpenGL-ES (OpenGL for Embedded System) 2.0 is a subset of the OpenGL 3D graphics API designed for embedded devices. OpenGL-ES works for both 2D and 3D graphics.

KWin is the default windows manager for KDE SC. The OpenGL-ES 2.0 support, opens up the possibility of using KDE Plasma on embedded devices such as mobile phones, PDAs etc. The OpenGL-ES support is a very important milestone for KDE.

KDM can interface with GRUB2

KDM (KDE Display Manager) is a graphical interface for logging in users. Although it can be used without KDE SC, it is generally used with the KDE Software Compilation.

GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) is a bootloader which supports the multiboot specifications it allows users to choose between different operating systems to boot into. It is generally used with Linux to dual boot with Windows or another distribution.

grub2

In KDE SC 4.7 Beta, support for GRUB2 has been added. What this means is that when restarting, the user can choose which operating system to boot into automatically.

Marble supports offline search

Marble-logo Marble is a virtual globe developed by KDE. Aside from Earth, Marble also supports the Moon, Mars and some other planets.

KDE SC 4.7 Beta includes Marble 1.2. Marble 1.2 improves upon Marble 1.1, which supports offline search for cities, by adding offline search by streets, house numbers and points of interests. The data required for this is huge without any doubt. So, the data is available in smaller packages divided by regions.

As it has just been released, KDE SC 4.7 Beta is not yet available for any of the major Linux distributions. Updates are expected to be available in the next few days for those who want to help out by testing it.

You can read more at the release announcement.

 

KDE SC 4.6.3 Released

Today the KDE team has released the third maintenance of KDE SC 4.6. The release – KDE SC 4.6.3 – is a minor update and brings with it only bug fixes and translation updates. KDE SC 4.6 includes updates to Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces, the KDE Applications and the KDE Frameworks. There are no new features included in this release though. Since there are no new features, this is considered a safe update and according to the KDE team, it is recommended that everyone running KDE 4.6 should update.

KDE SC 4.6.3 is available for users od OpenSUSE 11.3 and OpenSUSE 11.4. For Ubuntu and Kubuntu users, it is not yet available and is expected to be available this weekend. To get the update when it is available add the kubuntu-backport PPA with the command given below:

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

To view the changes since the last release, you can refer to the changelog. However not all the changes are listed in the changelog. To see all the the changes, you will have to browse the Git or Subversion log.

The KDE team has dedicated this release to the daughter of KDE developer Daniel Nicoletti.

The 4.6.3 release is dedicated in memory of the young daughter of KDE developer Daniel Nicoletti who tragically passed away after a car crash last month. The KDE community wishes to express their deepest sympathy and support to Daniel and his family in this difficult time.

Next Ubuntu Release to have Qt Applications

Ubuntu‘s founder and CEO of Canonical Ltd., Mark Shuttleworth, declares the probability of including Qt applications in the release after the next (Ubuntu 11.10), of the popular Ubuntu distribution, which is based on the Gtk toolkit.

“As part of our planning for Natty+1, we’ll need to find some space on the CD for Qt libraries, and we will evaluate applications developed with Qt for inclusion on the CD and default install of Ubuntu.”

Ubuntu  logo
Gtk and Qt have traditionally been “rival” toolkits for the GNOME and KDE desktops respectively. Choosing either of the sides in any self-respecting Linux forum, is considered a sure-shot way to start a flame war. However, Mark Shuttleworth, as always, decides to wade through uncharted waters in proclaiming the co-existence of Gtk as well as Qt applications in a production, mainstream and popular OS like Ubuntu, notwithstanding the fact that there exists seperate distributions for each Desktop environment, viz. GNOME and KDE (Kubuntu)

In his blog, Mark explains his controversial decision by pointing out that Canonical is dedicated to providing best-in-class software to it’s users and to this effect, a “capable toolkit” like Qt could certainly be looked upon as a “divergence from the canonical way to maintain a vibrant ecosystem”.

Qt logo
Apart from aspects like sociological backlashes, Mark and his team of developers will also have to face some pretty daunting technical issues. For example, Qt-based applications will have to talk to GNOME’s dconf configuration system to have a seamless integration with the GNOME Desktop. Although projects like the GTK-QT Engine are already out there, their credibility of being more than “hacks” is yet to be verified for their inclusion in a mass-deployed project like Ubuntu.

Is the Gtk-Qt marriage possible ? And if this does turn out to be a successful venture, will Ubuntu see other toolkits and libraries like Enlightenment, being included in future releases ? With so many changes to Ubuntu, can Canonical manage to uphold Ubuntu’s status as one of the most popular Linux Operating Systems ?

Do let us know what you think ?

Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” Released

The last Amarok release covered by us was Amarok 2.3.1 “The Bell”.

Yesterday, Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” was released. Some notable features in this release are :

  • Compatibility with iPod Touch 3G and possibly newer devices like iPhone 3G, 3GS.
  • The ability to transcode tracks from one format to another.
  • Ability to get Guitar and Bass tab information.
  • A map and calendar view for upcoming concerts and events.
  • Support for UPnP devices, which adds ability to play music from UPnP servers on the local network.

Apart from these there are a number of performance, stability and usability enhancements as well, which is usually the mark of a major version release. Some of these are :

  • Configurable size of on-screen-display font.
  • Collapsing animations of context applets.
  • Progress bar while loading the Wikipedia applet.
  • Added settings for writing statistics and album covers back to file to maintain information across devices.
  • Ability to hide and show Menu bar.

Amarok 2.4.0 "Slipstream"

Check out the official announcement from KDE for more detailed description of the features and the Changelog from the last release.

You can directly download Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” for your favorite OS from here.