Tag Archives: Linux

FOSS Friday: Ubuntu Coming To Asus Eee PC, OpenOffice.org Goes To Apache Foundation and More

This week, the main talking point in the world of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is Oracle giving OpenOffice.org to the Apache foundation. There has been interesting developments for Ubuntu as well. Let us take a look at some of the most the important FOSS news of the week.

Oracle Gives OpenOffice.org To Apache; The Document Foundation Not Happy About It

After alienating all the contributors in the OpenOffice.org community, Oracle has finally decided to call it a day and have ceded control of the OpenOffice.org codebase to the Apache Software Foundation. OpenOffice.org will now be developed as an Apache Incubator Project. You can read more about this story here.

Meanwhile, The Document Foundation is not happy with Oracle’s decision to ignore them and give control of OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation. Since the beginning, TDF has been asking Oracle to join them and donate OpenOffice.org to them. Read more about it here.

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1 Released

The first alpha of Ubuntu 11.10 was released a few days back. Being the first development release, not much has changed from Ubuntu 11.04 which was released around a month back. The GNOME stack has been updated to GNOME 3, though. Find out more about it here.

Asus To Release Eee PC Netbooks with Ubuntu Pre-installed

Asus has announced that they are planning to release three Eee PC netbook models with Ubuntu installed. They also said that they plan to make more models available with Ubuntu by the end of the year. The Asus Eee PC will come with Ubuntu 10.10 and with Flash and other media codecs installed. More here.

Linus Torvalds Released Linux 3.0 RC

Ending the speculation as to whether the version number will be 2.8 or 3.0, Linus Torvalds has released the first release candidate of Linux 3.0. Despite the major bump in the version number, there are no big changes in Linux 3.0. Linus said that he does not want to break anything and that development will go ahead in the same manner they have been doing for Linux 2.6.x. Read more here.

Debian Wheezy, which is currently in development, has already decided to switch to Linux 3.0.

Debian Wheezy Moving To Linux 3.0


With Linux 3.0 on its way, the Debian developers have decided to move the Debian Wheezy development from Linux 2.6 to Linux 3.0.

Debian Wheezy is the successor to Debian Squeeze, which was was released earlier this year. Currently it is in development and is available from Sid.

As I have mentioned in the earlier article, Linux 3.0 brings no changes to the API or the ABI. So, moving Wheezy from Linux 2.6 to Linux 3.0 will not be a very difficult task. The developers will have to shorten the version string in their scripts to account for the new version system though.

The challenges to moving to Linux 3.0 are modifying the build scripts and some other programs which uses the version number. Build scripts usually check for a prefix of either 2.4 or 2.6. To account for Linux 3.0, the scripts will have to be modified.

Another challenge will come from the change in the version number system. Prior to Linux 3.0, the kernels are given a version number which consists of three numbers for example Linux 2.6.39. With the new system, the third number has been done away with and the version number consist of only two numbers for example Linux 3.0.

The modifications required to be made to the scripts and programs to account for these are not very big modifications. So, moving to Linux 3.0 should go smoothly for Wheezy. The Linux 2.6 packages will no longer be maintained after it has Wheezy has been moved to Linux 3.0.

The kernel team will not maintain linux-2.6 vs linux-3.0 packages. We will change the binary metapackages whose names include ‘2.6’ into transitional packages, to be removed after ‘wheezy’, and we may rename the source packages linux-2.6 and linux-latest-2.6.

You can read the announcement here.

Linux 3.0 RC Released With “Absolutely No Big Changes”

Earlier today, Linux announced the release of Linux 3.0 RC. This puts to rest the speculation over whether the next version will be 2.8 or 3.0 after Linus revealed that he is ending Linux 2.6.x series. According to Linus, he has ended the Linux 2.6.x series because the numbers has become too large. Linux 2.6.x has been in development for seven years and has seen 39 releases. However, there is a reason for choosing the version number 3.0 over 2.8 – Linux is entering its third decade of development.

I decided to just bite the bullet, and call the next version 3.0. It will get released close enough to the 20-year mark, which is excuse enough for me, although honestly, the real reason is just that I can no longer comfortably count as high as 40.

And thankfully, the feared features Linus planned for this release  – “breaking absolutely everything and rewriting the kernel to be a microkernel using a special message-passing version of Visual Basic” – did not make it to this release. (Read this if you do not get it.)

Jokes aside, perhaps the biggest news with this release is that there is absolutely no big feature. Yes, that is right, Linus just had renamed Linux 2.6.40 to Linux 3.0. This release is as simple as that – no magical new feature or no breaking old stuffs. This does not mean that Linux 3.0 will have no new features. There will be only small incremental new features.

Explaining why he has decided not to make any major change to reflect the major change in the version number, Linus wrote that he does not want to do a KDE 4 or a GNOME 3 by introducing changes in the API and the ABI. So, instead of big changes, Linux 3.0 will be developed in the same was Linux 2.6 was developed – small incremental changes.

Although, nothing will break at the kernel level, some third part scripts and applications will break because of the change in the major number and the new versioning system. These should be very easy to fix though.

The final version of Linux 3.0 is expected later this summer.

You can read Linus’ announcement here.

FOSS Friday – Fedora 15 Released, Linux Mint 11 Released And More

This week, we saw a lot of releases ranging from the release of Fedora 15 “Lovelock” to Puppy Linux Wary 5.1.2. Here are the main events that took place this week in the world of Free and Open Source Software.

Fedora 15 “Lovelock”

Six months after the release of Fedora 14, Fedora 15 “Lovelock” was released earlier this week. This is a very significant release not only for Fedora but for GNOME as well because it is the first major Linux distribution with GNOME Shell as the default desktop. Although, GNOME Shell is the most obvious change in Fedora 15, there are also a number of improvements under the hood such as the adoption of systemd, consistent network naming scheme etc. Read our coverage of the release for more details.

MeeGo to get Wayland this year

This is big news for both MeeGo and Wayland. The chief developer and creator of Wayland has announced that MeeGo might switch over to Wayland by October this year. Wayland is a replacement for the X Display Server which is more efficient and does not have the baggage that comes with X’s legacy supports. Refer this article for more details.

KDE SC 4.7 Beta was released for testing

KDE continues to develop the KDE platform at a very rapid pace. This week, they have released the first beta of KDE SC 4.7. The release has three important new features – improved offline search in Marble, GRUB2 integration in KDM and OpenGL-ES 2.0 support for KWin. The final release of KDE SC 4.7 is expected in June this year. Read this article for more details.

Linux 2.6.x series to end

Linus Torvalds has expressed his desire to end the current Linux 2.6.x series. The Linux 2.6.x series has been in development for more than seven years and has seen 39 releases till date. Torvalds said that the number has become too big and he is considering changing it to either 2.8 or 3.0. The suggestion to bump the version number to 3.x has been gaining good support as it can also mean the third decade of Linux development. More here.

Linux Mint 11 “Katya” Released – No Unity or GNOME 3

Linux Mint 11, codenamed “Katya” was released earlier this week. One of the main talking points of the release was not a new feature – rather the lack of it. Although Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, Linux Mint 11 has been released with the classic GNOME desktop. Linux Mint 11 also comes with many improvements such as better software manager and update manager. Read more here.

Puppy Linux Wary 5.1.2 Released

Puppy Linux Wary is yet another Linux distribution that was released this week. Although it is not nearly as popular as Fedora or Linux Mint, Puppy Linux has its own dedicated followers. The release is based on Puppy Linux 5 and has better hardware detection and a new experimental non-root account. Read more here.

Real time strategy game, 0 A.D., reaches 5th Alpha

0 A.D. is a real-time cross-platform strategy game which has been in development for sometime. A fifth alpha of the game has been released and it has better lighting in the game, new map, new faction etc. You can read more about it here. You can also read our previous article on 0 A.D. here.

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


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.


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.


Fedora 15 “Lovelock” Has Been Released

Fedora-logo Today the final stable release of Fedora 15, codenamed Lovelockhas been released. Coming six months after the release of Fedora 14, Fedora 15 continues to bring the latest bleeding edge software to users.


Fedora 15 is a very interesting release for both users and developers. Let us take a brief look at some of the new features of Fedora 15 Lovelock.

GNOME 3 with GNOME Shell as default desktop

With Fedora 15, the GNOME stack has been updated to GNOME 3 and GNOME Shell is now the default desktop. Fedora 15 is probably the first major Linux distribution to ship with GNOME 3.

The Ubuntu users did not like the introduction of Unity in Ubuntu 11.04. Let us see how the Fedora users respond to GNOME Shell.

In case you are not a GNOME user, Fedora has that covered as well with KDE SC 4.6 and Xfce 4.8.

New filesystem BTRFS

BTRFS is a new filesystem which is being actively developed. The installer in Fedora 15 now includes the option install Fedora 15 with BTRFS as the default filesystem. This option is not available on the live images though. It is recommended that users should not try BTRFS on production machines.

systemd finally included

systemd has been finally included in Fedora 15. systemd is a system and session manager for Linux which gives better performance using aggressive parallelization. Here too Fedora 15 is the first among the major Linux distributions to adopt systemd.

Dynamic firewall

Fedora 15 has a new dynamic firewall which makes it possible to change settings without restarting the firewall. An immediate effect of having a dynamic firewall is that it will make persistent network connections possible and make remote printer discovery easier.

LibreOffice replaces OpenOffice.org

Like many other Linux distributions, Fedora 15 has dropped OpenOffice.org and replaced it with LibreOffice. The user interface of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org are almost identical. So, users will not have any trouble adapting to the new application.

For the complete feature list of Fedora 15, refer to this page.

Download Fedora 15

You can download Fedora 15 from here.

However, it is recommended that you download using torrent. As Fedora 15 has just been released, the direct download could be slow right now.

Sources: Fedora Mailing List, Digitizor, Phoronix

Linux 2.6.39 Released – Better AMD Graphics Card Support And Better Performance With EXT4

Linux Torvalds has announced the release of Linux 2.6.39. Compared to Linux 2.6.38, this is a rather modest release. Nevertheless, there are some new exciting features, and a few bugs worth mentioning.

Announcing the release, Torvalds expressed some doubts as to whether he should have done a RC instead of the final build. This is what Torvalds wrote announcing the release:

There were certainly more code changes since -rc7 than I really was all that happy with, and some outstanding discussion. Doing another -rc wouldn’t necessarily have been a bad idea, but then I just decided that if I held off making the release, next week my timing choices would have been even worse.


Linux 2.6.39 brings with it an update to the Radeon driver. The new kernel now supports AMD Cayman series of graphics cards. The support is not complete, though, as 2D and 3D acceleration are not available yet because of DRM issues.

A bug in the open source Nouveau driver for NVIDIA graphics cards, which causes performance issues, have also been fixed.

Better performance with EXT4 filesystems

EXT4 on Linux continues its improvement with Linux 2.6.39. By default, EXT4 filesystems on Linux 2.6.29 will use the “Multiple Page-IO Submissions” option. This feature had been available since Linux 2.6.37, but has been enabled by default only in this release. Enabling the “Multiple Page-IO Submissions” option is said to bring about a considerable improvement in the performance of the file system.

These are not the only new features in Linux 2.6.39. If you want to see all the changes, you should refer to the change log.

The known bugs

There are already two known bugs, or rather regressions, found in Linux 2.6.39.

Linux 2.6.39 has not, unfortunately, fixed a very important bug that was also found in Linux 2.6.38 – the power consumption bug.

A new bug that has crept in at the last-minute is the broken support for Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors.

[Sources: H-Online Phoronix]

Run Linux In Your Browser

Linux is often considered as a geeky OS when compared to Windows and Mac OS X, however, over the past few years it has become much easier to use and almost emulates a desktop environment which is similar to Windows and Mac.

There are several popular Linux Distros like Ubuntu, Fedora,   JoliCloud, Linux Mint and more which are now widely used by people. If you want to try out Linux you can also dual-boot on your Windows machine (see Install Ubuntu in Windows). However, if you are someone who is afraid of installing additional software on your computer, you can now test out Linux from your web browser, albeit only the command prompt.

The Linux browser emulator was created thanks to a port of an emulator called QEMU to JavaScript.

QEMU is a generic and open source machine emulator and virtualizer.

When used as a machine emulator, QEMU can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on a different machine (e.g. your own PC). By using dynamic translation, it achieves very good performance.

When used as a virtualizer, QEMU achieves near native performances by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU. QEMU supports virtualization when executing under the Xen hypervisor or using the KVM kernel module in Linux. When using KVM, QEMU can virtualize x86, server and embedded PowerPC, and S390 guests.

The emulator has been written by Fabrice Bellard, a famous open source developer who has also developed several other popular projects in the past. The Linux PC emulator is written completely in JavaScript and was compiled using 2.6.20 Linux Kernel. The emulated hardware consists of the following things:

  • a 32 bit x86 compatible CPU
  • a 8259 Programmble Interrupt Controller
  • a 8254 Programmble Interrupt Timer
  • a 16450 UART.


Run Linux in Browser

Most of the modern browsers sport faster and smarter JavaScript engines. The Linux emulator for browsers goes on to show how powerful JavaScript has become and what it could be used to do.

The developer has tested Linux in browser in and 11. The beta version of Google Chrome is not yet supported. You can test out the Linux OS in the browser by visiting http://bellard.org/jslinux/. Also visit this technical notes page for more information on the Linux emulator for the browser.

Lubuntu Accepted As An Official Ubuntu Derivative

The flexibility of Ubuntu (and Linux in general) means that it not very difficult to create derivatives from it – and there a number of derivatives. Ubuntu derivatives could be created for a specific function or created with different desktop environment. To receive support from Canonical, though, the derivative has to be officially recognized by them.

Lubuntu is one such derivative. Lubuntu is based on the Ubuntu but instead of Unity/GNOME, it uses a very light weight desktop environment – LXDE. Ever since the project was started Lubuntu has been quite popular compared to the other non-official derivatives. In fact, during the Maverick Meerkat release cycle, it was considered a very strong contender to receive the official status but missed out at the end.

Today, Lubuntu has been finally accepted as an official Ubuntu derivative. Getting the official status means a lot of things for Lubuntu:

  • Lubuntu packages will be available in the main Ubuntu repository.
  • Users will be able to install Lubuntu over Ubuntu or other derivatives without adding extra repositories.
  • Lubuntu will follow the Ubuntu development cycle.
  • Most importantly, it means that Lubuntu will get more exposure as an official derivative.

The decision was taken at the Ubuntu Developer Summit but no official announcement has been made yet. You can see details of the discussion here.

The addition of Lubuntu brings the total number of official derivatives to six. The other official derivatives are Kubuntu, Xubuntu. Edubuntu, Mythbuntu and Ubuntu Studio.


Deja Dup To Be Included By Default In Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”

We had reported earlier that the backup tool, Deja Dup, has a very strong possibility of being included by default in Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”. In the GNOME mailing list, Deja Dup developer, Michael Terry, has announced that it has been included by default in Ubuntu 11.10.

Michael Terry made the announcement while applying for Deja Dup to be included as part of GNOME. This is what his message said:

Here’s a quick thousand foot view:

  • Homepage here: https://launchpad.net/deja-dup
  • It’s a backup program aimed at non-technical users.
  • It’s a graphical wrapper and policy manager for the backup program duplicity.
  • It’s included by default in Fedora 13 on and will be default in Ubuntu 11.10.
  • It follows the GNOME schedule and best practices already.

The inclusion of Deja Dup in Ubuntu 11.10 is a very good move by the Ubuntu developers. With so much importance being placed on data, a simple backup tool which just works for everyone is a very essential application.  Although accepted, Deja Dup is not yet ready for Ubuntu 11.10. It will have to support Ubuntu One and the CD size issue that we had talked about extensively have to be sorted out first.

Terry also announced some details of the future direction that Deja Dup is taking.  In the next major version (20.0), Deja Dup will be redesigned to make it more invisible and to make it act and look more like a part of the operating system rather than a  separate  application.

You can view screenshots of Deja Dup here.

[source GNOME mailing list, via WebUpd8]

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.

Android Patent Infringement on Linux Costs Google $5 Million

Google has faced a tough challenge in the form of numerous patent infringement claims coming from  Bedrock Computer Technologies, a company that is inactive as a company now. The case has been ruled in favor of Bedrock and Google will have to pay $5 million for infringement on a particular technology that is patented to Bedrock Computer Technologies.
The ruling of the case is questionable for developers in the Linux and the Android ecosystem. Zdnet writes,

Bedrock (a company that is no longer active) sued Google over a relatively obscure patent it held on the use of linked lists with automatically expiring records.

The ruling judge charged Google with the statement,

Google failed to invalidate the patent even though a more defendant-friendly standard — the one also advocated by Microsoft [in recent suits] was used than the one preferred by the US government and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC)

Google has created an exclusive club with Android that lets people use most of its services seamlessly. The tight integration of Google services with Android is definitely one of the reasons Google is advocating this platform.

Situations like these happen when tech giants make money by using and modifying Open Source code in their products. It becomes extremely important to review these codes for any possible patent infringement and watch out for scavengers like these.

Mandriva Joins Ubuntu And Fedora In Switching Over To LibreOffice

Despite Oracle giving over OpenOffice to the community, another major Linux distribution has jumped ship from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice. The distribution we are talking of here is Mandriva. After Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15 (both under different stages of development) dumped OpenOffice.org for LibreOffice, it was clear that most of the other distributions would follow suite as well.

Two days ago, Mandriva 2011 Beta 2 was released and in the release, the Mandriva developers have decided to go with LibreOffice rather than OpenOffice.org. Technically there is very little difference between OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice right now. However, by switching over to the community developed LibreOffice rather than Oracle’s OpenOffice.org, Mandriva is putting their weight behind the open source community.

Beside LibreOffice, Mandriva 2011 beta 2 also has a new application launcher. I am not sure what to make of that launcher right now but it looks like it will be quite cumbersome to use.

Other features in Mandriva 2011 Beta 2 includes Linux, GCC 4.6, systemd 24 and Bash 4.2. The desktop environment is KDE SC 4.6.2 and Clementine is the default music player. Firefox 4.0 is the default web browser.

Announcing the release of Mandriva 2011 beta 2, Eugeni Dodonov had this to say:

For this release, most of the UI and desktop-related features should be integrated, including new login manager functionality, stack folders integration into the environment, new welcome and launcher application, new panel and overall desktop look-and-feel. It also features new default theme and artwork.

This beta release will be followed by a release candidate in May and the final release is expected in June.

If you want to test Mandriva 2011 Beta 2, you can download it using torrent from http://torrent.mandriva.com/public/

Remember that this is a development release and should not be used on a production machine.

[image credit]

Fedora 15 “Lovelock” Beta Released

Today the first beta of Fedora 15, codenamed “Lovelock” has been released. This is a very important release for the Fedora 15 development cycle because it represents the final feature list that will make it to Fedora 15, which is expected to be released in late May. From now on only bug fix updates will be released until the final release.

Fedora 15 Beta is a very significant release for the Fedora 15 development cycle in more than one way. One of the most significant changes in this release is GNOME 3. GNOME 3 was recently released and includes a completely new user interface called the GNOME Shell. With GNOME 3, Fedora 15 Beta now has a completely different user experience from earlier releases. If GNOME is not your Desktop Environment of choice, the Fedora spins with Xfce and LXDE have also been updated.

As we have mentioned earlier, Fedora 15 Beta still has LibreOffice as the default office suite instead of OpenOffice. Another new application that has been included in this release is BoxGrinder. Like LibreOffice, BoxGrinder was first included in Fedora 15 Alpha. BoxGrinder allows users to easily create appliances (virtual images) for various platforms (KVM, Xen, VMware, EC2) from simple plaintext application files. Fedora 15 Beta also includes a dynamic firewall. The dynamic firewall makes it possible to change firewall settings without restarting the firewall. This feature is particularly useful for persistent connections.

For the coders out there, the development tools that comes in Fedora 15 Beta have also been updated. It comes with GCC 4.6, Maven 3, OCaml 3.12, Python 3.2 and Rails 3.0.3. In fact Fedora 15 Beta has been built using GCC 4.6.

The users from India will also be glad to know that the new Indian Rupee symbol has now been included in Fedora 15 Beta by default.

If you want to test Fedora 15, you can download the ISO from here. However, remember that this is not a final release and bugs are expected. If you find any bugs, you can report it to make Fedora 15 better.

You can see the feature list here.

TeamViewer – Best Desktop Sharing App for Linux

Have you ever had to help someone with their computer over the phone or using text chat? It’s not easy. You can’t be sure that they are in the right place, doing what you want them to do. That’s why remote desktop (screen) sharing applications are so great.

These applications are called by a variety of names such as, remote access, remote support, remote desktop, screen sharing, and desktop sharing. The main idea behind them is that they allow one computer to see another computer’s screen over a network or the internet.

My wife and I have many friends and relatives that come to us for PC help and advice. We’ve used a number of desktop sharing apps over the years and discovered that TeamViewer is one of the best, and it’s free!

Since I’ve been spending a lot of time using Linux lately, I was happy to find that TeamViewer is also available for Linux, as well as Windows, Mac and Smartphones. It’s almost as good as being there, because I can control the remote computer as if I were sitting directly in front of it. When I need to, I can change the direction to show my PC’s screen to the other person. It even makes it easy to share files with the person on the other end.

This image below shows how simple it is to set up. (click image to enlarge it)