Tag Archives: Linux

Ubuntu Open Week

We already covered Ubuntu Developer Week about a month ago, which was an effort by the senior Ubuntu developers to get more community members involved in Ubuntu development.

The Ubuntu Open Week is a effort on similar lines. The primary aim of this initiative is get more and more members of the ever-growing Ubuntu commnunity to pariticipate in taking the Distribution to higher levels.

This year at the Ubuntu Open Week, Mark Shuttleworth is himself going to present for a Q&A session. It would be interesting to see what the end-users and fanboys have to ask him this time and what plans he has for the forthcoming releases.

With Ubuntu veteran Daniel Holbach holding sessions on getting new developers started on Ubuntu development and bug fixing, there is yet another name in the list.

Jono Bacon, Ubuntu’s Community manager and the author of the book , “The Art of Community” is also taking a couple of sessions including the Introductory one on 2nd November.

Some interesting topics that are to be covered this year are:

  • Be your Neighbour’s Ubuntu guru
  • Scratch your own itch, learn how to write your own App
  • Ubutnu One
  • Ubuntu Moblin Remix
  • Making   Screencasts
  • Intro to GIMP

Most of the topics are for absolute beginners, but still it is fun to hang out in the IRC chatrooms and “see the drama unfold”.

As usual, the IRC chatrooms will be hosted on the free irc.freenode.net server. The #ubutu-classroom is for listening to the presentations/tutorials and the #ubuntu-classroom-questions rooom is for asking questions.

This seems to be a very promising and fun week. Hope to see some Techie-buzzers in the chatrooms.

Fedora 12 Beta Released [Download]

Today comes a good news for those bitten by the Linux bug. The Fedora Foundation has released the first and the last Beta for Fedora 12, its mainstream consumer Linux distro. After many delays and postponements, the beta is finally available for download.

There are a lot of improvements and new features in the beta. Let me briefly jot them down together for you:

  • Optimized performance for Atom CPUs, thus improving functioning on Netbooks and devices based on Atom chips.
  • Smaller update files due to a new compression system called XZ being used, rather than gzip.
  • An enhanced NetworkManager finds it way in Fedora 12 Beta improving IPv6 and bluetooth support.
  • Improved Ogg Theora Video playback, now in version 1.1, plays video as good as H.264
  • Improved Graphics support with experiment 3D support for AMD Radeon HD 2400 and later graphics cards.
  • The new beta also fares better at virtualization with extensive improvements in performance, management, resource sharing, and security enhancements.
  • Better bug reporting with Abrt, a tool to help non-power users report crashes to Bugzilla with a few mouse clicks which has now been enabled by default.
  • A newer, faster and more flexible boot system has been deployed. Dracut, an initial ram disk generation tool with an event-based framework designed to be distribution-independent has been made available in Fedora with this beta.
  • “PackageKit now has a plugin which can install an appropriate package when a user tries to run a command from a missing package. Another new plugin allows installation of software packages from a web browser”
  • Bluetooth can now automatically start when needed and shuts down itself after a 30 second no-activity timer; saving resources and battery life.
  • Support for the Moblin Desktop Interface has also been made available with this release. Users who wish to experience the the new mobile platform may get the Moblin Desktop Environment package.
  • Once again, the PulseAudio system has been improved. Significant improvements have been made on UPnP media integration and hotplug support. An improved Mixer Logic makes volume control even more fluid.
  • In order to mitigate the impact of security vulnerabilities, permissions have been hardened for many files and system directories and process privileges have been lowered for a number of core components that require super user privileges- Quoted
  • To much rejoice by the developers, Fedora now deploys a SELinux Sandbox, where programmers can experiment with their applications, confining applications’ access to the system and running them in a safe sandbox.
  • Wireless networking has been improved for Broadcom chipsets.
  • The Live images provided in this release can be directly imaged onto a USB stick using dd (or any equivalent tool) to create bootable Live USB keysThis is great news!
  • Better and improved support for webcams brings quality rich video one step close to your near and dear ones.
  • The latest Gnome 2.28 desktop environment comes by default. Included is Gnote, a lighter replacement for Tomboy, Empathy, which finally replaces Pidgin as the default Instant Messenger program. The Volume Control has also been improved, bringing in new features without getting too complicated.
  • Fedora 12 includes an early version of GNOME Shell, which will become the default interface for GNOME 3.0 and beyond. To try it, install the gnome-shell package, and use the Desktop Effects configuration tool to enable it. It will only work correctly from the GNOME desktop environment, not others such as KDE or Xfce. This is a preview technology, and some video cards may not be supported. Quoted.
  • The KDE flavor will include KDE 4.3 which features an updated Airtheme.
  • Perl 6, PHP 5.3, SystemTap 1.0 and the newest Netbeans IDE is included. Moreover, Eclipse Galileo now has more plugins than ever before.
  • New functionality has been added for System Admins. Clustered Samba devices are now more easy to manage and the ability to boot a cluster of Fedora systems from a single, shared root file system has been added.
  • X.org has been updated to 1.7, introducing the X Input Extension version 2.0 which provides a new API for handling input devices and also Multi-Pointer X devices, making it easy to deal with multitouch desktops.

Read the Beta announcement here, which includes this same list, but in a very explained manner (If you like to read it short, read it here! ;) ). Also, do give a read to the feature list for Fedora 12 Final. Download Fedora 12 Beta here.

Uzbl: Web Browser for Linux

When, on one hand browsers like Firefox, Opera, Maxthon and Safari are boasting of new features, Uzbl, is a browser which dares to keep it simple. Uzbl is based on the Unix philosophy of

Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.

Now if you have been using any browser other than Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, features must be a necessity for you. Uzbl is not totally marked by a lack of features. Based on the webkit engine, Uzbl forms the base for a totally customizable browser for programmers who can modify its behavior from the ground up. The Webkit engine also gives it a speed comparable to Google Chrome.

”]Uzbl-BrowserAlthough the browser lacks native support for tabs, a python shell has been developed which can contain multiple Uzbl windows. Uzbl instances can also be embedded into other applications using a GTK plug. Many users have trouble configuring Uzbl. So custom config files are also available. There are no modules for managing cookies, bookmarks and other browser features but all of them can be added with simple scripts. The browser navigation is also done through vim style key-bindings. There are two modes of operation just like vim: Command mode and Insert mode. All links open in a new page and all this keyboard talk does not mean we cannot use the mouse for navigation. All features provided by Firefox plugins can be added with external JavaScript support.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Uzbl is still in Alpha and is available only for Arch Linux. There are no .deb packages available as of now, but one can be developed by following the tutorial given here: Tommy Morgan’s Blog. The browser caters to all users, as developers can create new features and general users can demand for more features. The browser is fast and is good if you want to quickly visit a page. Else than that, Uzbl is a complete mess without any scripts or mods.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2.0/5 ( Average)

Find Great Ubuntu Applications With Appnr

If you are a Ubuntu fan, you will come to love Appnr. Appnr is a free resource that indexes around 2000 unique applications and software for Ubuntu. You can simply browse through the categories to find a useful application or search by application name.

Each application is rated by users and shows the number of times it has been downloaded by users. If you like something you see, you can install it on your machine with a single click, or simply download it for later installation. You can also sort the applications by name, popularity or ratings. Accompanied with user submitted screen shots and specifications, you are sure to find enough information about each app before downloading it to your computer.


In addition to finding applications, you can also find useful Firefox Add-ons and Codecs to use with Ubuntu.

openSUSE 11.2 Milestone 8 Released Today

Today happens to be a relatively active day for Linux testers. Earlier in the day, Milestone 8 for Novell’s openSUSE 11.2 was released to the public for testing. The linux variant has got various bug fixes and feature additions, though it’s worth noting that it is a development build and is recommended only for those who can endure a few bugs and glitches here and there.

greenshot_2009-10-01_19-59-17 Milestone 8 for openSUSE 11.2 comes packed with the final artwork and branding of the operating system and fixes some of the most annoying bugs. Several changes have taken place between the last milestone and current one. The linux kernel has been updates to 2.6.31 and GNOME 2.28 RC is preinstalled on this build. Apart from the core, numerous packages have also been updated. OpenOffice, Pulseaudio, Samba and postgresql have been upped to their latest or most stable version. The themeing pack, as mentioned earlier, is now in place and kicking. If you’re feeling really adventurous, download this milestone here.

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala’s Beta is also scheduled to be released later today. We’ll keep our eyes open and holler the moment it peeks out of the bushes.

Damn Small Linux – the bite-sized Linux distro

What if there was a Linux Distributable that has an FTP client, Firefox and two more web browsers, a word processor, a multi-platform IM client, a DHCP client, PPP, PPPoE and even a web server and a GUI interface and was about 50 MB in size? Surprised? Amazed? You should be, for this is Damn Small Linux which to my greatest pride was the first ever Linux distro I had ever used. Why? Because it was the first distro I knew that was so tiny that I could download it in minutes, and could also run live. Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux promised me, a Linux newbie at that time, what other distros with their monstrously obscure names such as Ubuntuand Fedoraand Red Hatcould not complete reversibility and NO formatting. Thus, I dove right in and burnt the distro to the CD. Once it launched I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the most usable and simple operating systems that is also very, very fast. Earlier today I stumbled upon DSL’s website and downloaded their latest version, bringing back with it the same usability, simplicity and good old memories of me smuggling in a mini-CD and installing it on one of the school’s computers, much to the chagrin of the teacher.

The main applications of DSL are aimed at being very light on RAM but very high in work efficiency. The window manager that is mostly used (FluxBox) is excellently usable and it makes no difference whether I am on an ancient computer (like my old laptop, for example) or a gaming rig (my desktop PC, for example) it is super-fast. The rest of the applications speak for themselves, and the inclusion of good ol’ Firefox is welcome (since I found working on Dillo to be slightly awkward).

Although I am not going into the details of this distro, because I urge you to try it out. With a 50 MB installation and minimum requirements being an Intel i486 (50 MHz) and 16 MB RAM, you really cannot go wrong with this one.

Ubuntu Service Engineers for rent

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, has rolled out a new service for Enterprises users,   renting out expert Support Engineers for Ubuntu.

The Premium Service Engineers, or PSEs, are Ubuntu experts who can provide more personalized service to Enterprises. These engineers will be trained to handle not only simple everyday issues faced by large enterprises, but also some of the complex ones like heavy load, complex architectures and other non-standard environments. Furthermore, Ubuntu claims these issues will be dealt with fast!


Some of the obvious benefits that enterprises will receive with this arrangement is having a “virtual team member” to deal with these issues, a one-point contact for suggesting and guiding the organization with tailored needs, a direct access to the developers and engineers working on the core softwares (and possibly also with upstream developers).

The PSEs will also guide the organization with it’s Ubuntu deployment strategies with respect to future releases, advise on updates, etc.

More information and service brochure for PSEs can be seen here.

For a rumored $50K a year, having a Ubuntu expert on your team without actually having the overhead of hiring one, this is one sweet deal.

With Ubuntu’s eleventh release, code-named Karmic Koala or Ubuntu 9.10, scheduled for October 29 th of this year, Canonical is getting increasingly better at competing with biggies like Apple and Microsoft.

Clonezilla : Partition Snapshot Software

Clonezilla is a software which lets us create clone images of partitions. The software is actually a Debian based bootable Linux with support for cloning partitions and disks. It includes the ntfsclone, partclone and partimage softwares along with the bootable live distro.

The technology on which Clonezilla is based is the same as the proprietary software Norton Ghost, or it’s open source counterpart Partition Image. But the difference here is that Clonezilla is a thousand times faster than these softwares. It is said that the Server edition of Clonezilla can clone around 5 GB of data to more than 40 computers in less than 10 minutes. That is faster than any other disk cloning software. This technology of cloning through a server is called Multicasting Cloning. Clonezilla also supports Unicasting Cloning, whereby we can clone a single computer to another single one.

Currently, Clonezilla supports over 10 file systems including ext2, ext3, ext4, xfs etc of Linux, NTFS and FAT of Windows and HFS+ of Mac OS.

This software will come in very handy if you are running a web server and want to clone-backup it. Alternatively, we can also setup a cronjob to schedule this backup. clonezilla is licensed under GPL, which means all this, can be done for free.

to download Clonezilla, go to the download page here.

Launchy : Must have Ubuntu Software

Launchy is a revolutionary open source application available for both Linux and Windows. It is a real time keystroke launcher for searching through installed programs and system paths for executables specific to the system and run them.

Launchy maintains a small index of it’s own and we can check the number of files in the index. The index is updated automatically on schedule but there are options for manual updates as well.

Originally suggested as a Windows start menu replacement, it has a search algorithm which surpasses the search algorithm of the Windows start menu launchy.

With Launchy, we can search both the web as well as our desktop. Another popular feature in Launchy is a real time calculator. So we just go on typing an expression and it evaluates in real time. Parenthesizing expressions is also allowed. In addition to this, Launchy has extensive suppport for themes and plugins.
The application takes a very small amount of memory and is a must have software for both Windows and Linux.

Get Launchy here.

Skype 2.1 Beta For Linux Gets Video & SMS Support

Linux seems to be getting some real good attention these days. First Pidgin gets an update that featuring support for video calls and now the guys at Skype seem to follow the league.

greenshot_2009-08-29_01-28-28Skype 2.1 Beta for Linux came out this week. Users of the popular VoIP application on the Linux platform had been demanding video support since like ages. They may rejoice now as this Beta release features native video call support, among several other features.

What are the showstoppers?

  • High Quality Video support (640×480 at 30fps)
  • Support for PulseAudio
  • SMS sending support
  • Typing notification in chat (Example: Jack is typing…)

Improvements in Skype 2.1 Beta

  • Enlarged tray icon, also showing number of missed events.
  • Updated ALSA device detection, nicer to USB headsets
  • Birthday reminders are now displayed 24 hours before birthday
  • Calling phone numbers of a contact can be done using context menu
  • Warning dialog when cancelling file transfer

Skype 2.1 Beta is available for most major Linux distributions, namely Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10, Debian Lenny, Fedora 9 and 10 and openSUSE 11

Download Skype 2.1 Beta For Linux | Read the Release Notes

Please note that this is beta software and is still undergoing development. Do not expect butter-smooth experience and stay prepared with your airbags for crazy accidents. Srsly.


Best way to change your GNOME Desktop look

Having the right eye-candy for your Linux box can be a very important factor especially when you plan to show it off to your Windows Vista or Mac fanboy friends. Customizing the look and feel of your Gnome desktop, however, can be a tedious process. You have to download the wallpapers, then know where to install the icon theme tarballs, the splash screens, etc.

Now there’s a much simpler way to do this. Install gnome-art-ng.

GnomeArt-NextGen is a successor to the older gnome-art, which was basically a theme changer. With Gnomeart-ng, one can change and customize the look and feel of your Gnome Desktop in a much more sophisticated and easier manner.

You can install Gnome-art-ng by downloading either the binary or the packaged deb file for Debian-based Distro users or   compile it from source.

Once invoked, it will ask you to download a huge 15 MB tarball containing the thumbnail previews of all the artwork, including icons, GDM greeters, wallpapers et al. It is recommended you do this, otherwise each preview will be downloaded, everytime and this can get frustrating.

Once the downloading is done, GnomeArt-NG takes some time to uncompress the data.

That’s it. You are done !!

Now just go to various tabs like Backgrounds, Window Decorations, Icons, Splash screen, etc. , preview the artwork and Apply.

When you Apply, it downloads the actual images from the GnomeArt site and even applies the settings.

It’s as simple as that.

If you want very specific contro or artwork from other sites, then you will have to go about doing it the old-fashioned way.

How to Play Old Computer Games in Linux

Whether you are a hardcore gamer or not, haven’t you had the urge to play one of the older games once in a while ? There is no comparison between modern games and the old ones in terms of the graphics, the sounds, the intelligence … the complete game-play experience. But nonetheless, the older games had a certain charm that has still not lost.

For all the old-time   gamers out there, you can now play these games on your Linux or Mac machines using a Game Emulators.

DOSBox is one such MS-DOS Game Emulator, ported on a lot of OSes including FreeBSD , MAC OS X and sundry Linux distributions. It also comes with a variety of front-ends and language support. Most importantly, it is a completely open source game emulator.

On an Ubuntu box, installing dosbox is as simple as :

$ sudo apt-get install dosbox

Once installed, it can be invoked via the Menu by clicking on   : Applications -> Games -> DOSBox Emulator , or by directly calling dosbox from the command-line.

The screenshot above shows a dosbox console.

In order to play your favourite games, you must first download the appropriate executable file. BestOldGames is a site with a huge collection of games which readily work with DOSBox. However, a simple google search should yield ample resources.

Now, once the required game is downloaded, it should be “mounted” on the dosbox as follows :

Assume that the game “Prince of Persia” has been downloaded and extracted in your home directory “PoP”.

Mount the game as a “C:” drive and excute the game as follows :

Z:\> mount c /home/<username>/PoP

Now change to the C drive

Z:\> C:

Go into the Game’s directory

C:\> cd PRINCE

And invoke the Game’s executable


A quick heads-up while using dosbox is the Controls. For most games,   the Laptop’s “Fn” keys had to be utilized as a Keypad rather than the usual Arrow keys.

Apart from the MS-DOS Game Emulator, another emulator is as popular is the Super Nintendo (SNES) Game Emulator, called ZSNES. zsnes   is a SNES game emulator engine for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Dos. It is also a completely open source game emulator.

As earlier, installing zsnes on a Ubuntu machine is as simple as   :

$ sudo apt-get install zsnes

It will be installed under Applications -> Games -> ZSNES Emulator . Alternatively it can be invoked from the command shell by called zsnes .

Zsnes installed

In order to play the SNES games, you need to download the appropriate ROM file. DopeROMs is one of the better resources out there, but there are also others like RomNation.

Mortal Kombat

Just search for your favorite game,   download and copy the zipped ROM files in your favorite location and “Load” it from zsnes .

I personally feel that the gaming experience on ZSNES was better than DOSBox. For example, try playing Mortal Kombat on both the Emulators and see the difference. This may be attributed to the fact that ZSNES is more actively developed than DOSBox.

Apart from these two popular Game Emulator engines there are also a LOT of others out there which will work on a variety of platforms including BSDs and MACs . This link lists out the staggering number of them out there.

Updated Development Builds of Fedora & openSUSE Released

While the internet is abuzz with news of Windows 7 and OS X Snow Leopard releases, do not mistake the open source world to be dilly-dallying. Both Fedora and openSuse teams pushed updates recently for their development versions. Fedora got one step closer to its next release, Fedora 12 with its Alpha build out now and openSUSE marched ahead with its version 11.2’s milestone 6 released.


Logo_fedoralogoCodenamed Constantinethe alpha version of Fedora 12 packs a box full of improved network performance, better integration with webcams and the iPv6 protocol. Power Management has been revamped which should make laptop owners, or let me say, netbook owners jubilate. There are several other changes that are worth mentioning. Software packages in Fedora have been switched from Gzip to the more efficient XZ (LZMA) compression method, to save space on mirrors and reduce download times. Drastic improvements have been made to the Ogg Theora video codec and all applications supporting it can now take advantage of the improvements.

Fedora 12 now includes a updated version of GRUB with Ext4 support as the default file system. The Fedora design team has also added support for dynamically rotating wallpapers. Making a debut in this release is support for Dracut a new booting system replacing the previous monolithic system. This replacement can be downloaded from the repository for now, but will be enabled by default in the final release. There are further improvement in design and interface and also bluetooth connectivity.

In this release, Gnome 2.28 sits aboard. Empathy becomes the default IM client and the default KDE environment is version 4.3.

Fedora 12 releases on November 18th, 2009. Meanwhile, you can try out the alpha by downloading it from here.


OpenSUSE Coming to openSUSE, it surely depicts signs of progress. Milestone 6 for version 11.2 came out on Monday this week and includes several new packages and updates. Bittorrent client Transmission is now available on the Gnome live Cd and the KDE version packs a bunch of new apps like Okteta, Kompare and Choqok among several others.

Support for the linux kernel has been updated for 2.6.31-rc6. Several onboard applications have been updated to their latest versions: Firefox 3.5.2, GIMP 2.6.7, GNOME 2.28 Beta, Konversation 1.2 Alpha 6, OpenOffice.org 3.1.1 Beta 2, VirtualBox 3.0.4 and Wine 1.1.27.

However, seems like they forgot to put Evolution the mail client in the Gnome Live CD, so you won’t find it there. Worry not, it’s been brought to their attention already and it’ll be hopefully fixed by the next release.

It is worth noting that Milestone releases are not major releases and include only a small number of updates or software inclusions. The final openSUSE 11.2 will be released on November 12th, 2009, six days before Fedora 12 is out. If you can wait till then, well and good, if not, grab the latest and bleeding edge 11.2 Milestone 6 from here.

And for the Ubuntu Fanboys (is that a term? Anyway, I just invented it), Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala will be releasing before Fedora 12 and openSuse 11.2 on 29th October. So don’t forget to check it out when it releases.

How to set Windows as Default OS in Grub

Some of us, or rather most of us dual boot windows and Linux. Bot the operating systems are equally important to me unless you are a Linux fanatic. Windows is as much my development platform as Linux. Now, most of us using Linux also use the Grub boot loader.


An installation of Linux after windows, places Linux on the top of the grub list and Windows at the end. That also initializes with Linux in selection and our workstation boots into Linux if allowed automatically.

To change this and put Windows as the default as well as the first OS in the list, use the steps below.

  1. Boot into Linux, that is where you will get the file to edit the boot menu for Grub.
  2. Open up the terminal, enter gksudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst This brings up the grub file in Gedit, the text editor.
  3. Look for the lines :
    title        Microsoft Windows XP
    root        (hd0,2)
    chainloader    +1

    without a ‘#’ comment at the line beginning.

  4. Bring it above the lines for booting into Linux. That should look something like kernel/ vmlinuz****Version** root=**** .
  5. You are all set. Save the file, reboot.

Your windows should be on top of the grub, and the selected OS as well. Alternatively, you can set the default selection to 1, in the same file or use SUM to change these settings. I will write about SUM in a future post.

Ubuntu Developers Week – Announcement and Schedule

The Ubuntu Developers Week is just around twenty days from now.

A series of workshops will be conducted  at the one week event giving developers and Ubuntu lovers an insight into the workings of the most popular Linux distro.

Ubuntu developers Week
Theme Authenticity Checker

The week will be of special interest to developers as there will be discussion on Django – the python web framwork and ways to use it to deliver good websites, a lot on sofwares and secure software development, packages and repositories and new hacks and mods unveiled by key Ubuntu gurus.

If you want to join any of the sessions, join #ubuntu-classroom on the IRC channel irc.freenode.net

There is also an open discussion section where you can talk in lie with Ubuntu developers. Do not miss out this opportunity.

If you are not very well versed in English,  there are LoCo members to help you out with translations from Danish, German, Spanish, Finnish and Catalan.

For more information and updates, visit the wiki page on Developers Week 2009.