Nautilus-Elementary Revived Again

Last November, the developers of the popular Nautilus-Elementary announced that the Nautilus-Elementary project has been discontinued. They announced that they are working on a  new file manager, Merlin, instead of working in Nautilus. Nautilus-Elementary is a patch for Nautilus which brings some cool new features in Nautilus and makes it look much better.

Today, they have taken an u-turn and has announced that they are reviving the Nautilus-Elementary project again. This mainly due to the fact that Marlin is being developed with GTK3 and GNOME 3 technologies. It has already been announced that Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is not going to support GTK3 and GNOME 3 stack out of the box. So, to make Marlin work in Ubuntu 11.04, they will have to rely on external or testing repositories.

Like many other distributions, Ubuntu Natty won’t support gtk3 and the gnome3 stack without adding external/testing repositories.  Since gtk3 dropped the rc format, only one gtk engine is ready for gtk3 (clearlook) and one gtk theme (adwaita). Without proper theming there’s no point rushing to gtk3/gnome3 so gtk2/gnome2  still has some nice months ahead before a progressive transition.

Another reason for the decision to revive the project is due to the fact that many people (me included) and Linux distributions still use Nautilus Elementary even though it has been announced that it is no longer maintained.

Although the project has been shut down since November, i still see many people using this outdated version of nautilus, distributions adopting it, artists working on stuning theme for it, which surprised me bit considering the project is unmaintained. I would like to thanks all of the nautilus-elementary supporters and specialy the archlinux community which has kept working on an up-to date version.

This does not, however, mean that Marlin is taking a backseat. Marlin will still be the focus of development. The plan for Nautilus-Elementary right now is to fix only the critical bugs. New features in Nautilus Elementary are unlikely at the moment.

The new version of Nautilus-Elementary is already available in the PPA. To install it, open the Terminal and execute the commands given below:

[For Ubuntu 10.10 and Ubuntu 11.04]

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:am-monkeyd/nautilus-elementary-ppa

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get upgrade

After installation, restart Nautilus to see the changes.

$ nautilus -q

The “200 Line Wonder Patch” Finally Included In Linux 2.6.38

In November last year, we reported on a patch for the Linux kernel that does wonder to the performance of the kernel under heavy load. The patch was all over the news because it drops the system latency to around 60 times under  average  conditions and 10 times under heavy load.

This patch has been finally merged with the kernel in the latest release of the Linux kernel (2.6.38). Announcing the  inclusion of the patch, Linus Torvalds said that it is one his favorite additions in the new kernel. This is what he said about the patch:

It really works very well for the kinds of things it is designed for. If you still do ‘real work’ in a terminal window, you’re likely to appreciate it. Compile in parallel in one window, watch a movie in another, and the movie is really smooth. It can be very noticeable indeed.

The “wonder patch” is known technically as “automatic process grouping”. It works by changing the way by which the CPU scheduler assigns CPU time to each processes. When a process is forked into different child processes, the session ID of the original process is inherited by the child processes.  With the patch applied, the kernel will group processes that have the same session ID as a single entity and the CPU scheduler will grant CPU time accordingly.

The automatic process grouping is not the only exciting addition in the Linux kernel 2.6.38. Changes has also been made in the  whole path lookup mechanisms of the Linux VFS to make it more scalable in multi-threaded workloads. A very interesting result of this is that even for single threaded workloads the performance has improved quite significantly.

Users of AMD Fusion would also be happy to know that support for AMD Fusion has been added in the Linux kernel 2.6.38. There has been significant  improvements  in the support for wireless networking. One of the most  interesting  additions here is the BATMAN Mesh Protocol. It is an acronym for “Better Approach To Mobile Adhoc Networking” and has nothing to do with the super hero. BATMAN is a routing protocol for in which  each node participates in routing by forwarding data for other nodes, and so the determination of which nodes forward data is made dynamically based on the network connectivity.

The Linux kernel 2.6.38 is expected to be included in all the major Linux distributions like Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15, which are expected to be released this spring, and Mandriva 2011, which is expected this summer.

If you want to know more, you can read about it at kernelnewbies.org.

Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 Released

After a two days delay, the Mandriva team has released the first beta of Mandriva 2011 yesterday. This is a release meant for testing before the final version is released in June 2011.

Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 is based on the Linux kernel 2.6.37.2 and has KDE Software Compilation 4.6.1 for its desktop. This Linux kernel is not the latest version available, but the KDE SC is the latest stable version. It will be upgraded to Linux kernel 2.6.38 in a later update or in beta 2. For users who do not prefer KDE SC, Mandriva is also available with GNOME 2.32.1 and XFCE 4.8.0.

Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 features the latest versions of various applications like Firefox 4 Release Candidate 1, Thunderbird 3.1.9, OpenOffice.org 3.2.0 etc. The default music player in Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 is Clementine 0.6 and Choqok is included as the default microblogging client. I find it interesting that Mandriva is still sticking with OpenOffice rather than LibreOffice unlike Ubuntu and Fedora.

Visually too, Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 has some changes. The GUI installer now uses the same theme as the default Mandriva theme. The KDE style and KDE window theme has also be changed to use Qtcurve by default.

Under the hood, this release has a lot of updated components as well. Of the updated components, mention may be made of systemd 20 , network manager 0.8.3.997, X.Org 7.5, XOrg Server 1.9.4 etc.

As with any beta software, Mandriva 2011 Beta 1 is meant for testing and should not be used in production machines. If you want to test it, you can download it from one of the mirrors in the link below.

Download Mandriva 2011 Beta 1

This beta will be followed by another beta and a release candidate. The final stable release of Mandriva 2011 is expected scheduled for 13 june 2011.

If you want more details, you can read the release note announcement here and the release note here.

If you do decide to test this beta release, do not forget to report bugs you encounter at Mandriva’s Bugzilla page.

[image credit]

Thunderbird To Get Ubuntu One Integration

Yesterday we wrote about Thunderbird being integrated to Ubuntu’s new user interface, Unity. However Thunderbird’s integration into Ubuntu is not about to end at that.

Today Mike Conley, the same person who developed the Unity integration, has said that the next step after Thunderbird Unity Launcher is to get Ubuntu One Contact integration in Thunderbird.

Ubuntu One is a cloud storage service launched by Canonical for Ubuntu users. The service allows users to sync files, contacts etc. across different computers running Ubuntu. Canonical provides the service for free for upto 2GB of storage.

Currently contact sharing through Ubuntu One is supported only in Evolution, which comes as the default email client in Ubuntu. Mike Conley plans to bring this feature in Thunderbird as well.

This is what he wrote:

That’s a pretty cool idea. Imagine it you get a brand new computer, hook it up to Ubuntu One, and blam: all of your bookmarks and contacts are already there waiting for you.

Currently, however, Thunderbird does not support sharing contacts via Ubuntu One.

And that’s what I’m tackling next.

According to Conley, the plan is to develop an extension which can import the Ubuntu One Contact to a new address book in Thunderbird. This will ensure that contact list from Evolution also appear in Thunderbird as well. Not only that, when you do a clean install of Ubuntu, it will enable you to get back your contact list from your previous installation.To keep things simple at the start, Conley is not planning to allow adding of new contacts from Thunderbird to the Ubuntu One Contact. This feature will probably be added once the contact import feature is done.

With the Unity launcher integration and, now, the Ubuntu One integration, it looks like Thunderbird in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is going to be very impressive.

If both these features make it to Thunderbird in time, which email client would you prefer – Thunderbird or Evolution?

openSUSE Considering Changing Its Distribution Naming Scheme

It looks like openSUSE is looking to drop its current naming scheme in favor of a new one which is easier to follow. Traditionally openSUSE has a naming scheme which is confusing at best. The last few releases of openSUSE were 10.3, 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3 and 11.4. Although this looks like a major and minor numbering system, it is not. For example, openSUSE 11.4 is not a minor update from openSUSE 11.3. There is no specific reason why openSUSE 11.4 was given the number 11.4 and not, say, 12.

In short, openSUSE has no fixed plan on how to name the next release. They generally count the minor number to 3 and then increase the major number – but that is not always the case as openSUSE 11.4 shows.

To replace the old naming scheme, Novell is looking at a new naming scheme which should makes it clear which release is the newer one and which has no ambiguity on what the next release will be called. On the suggestions of openSUSE developers and users, they are currently looking at several options.

One of the naming schemes that they are looking at is the one which Ubuntu uses. It is a simple method where each release is given the name YY.MM, where YY is the year and MM is the month of the release. Another scheme that they are looking at is the one Fedora uses. This is probably the simplest naming scheme. In this scheme, each stable release is given an integer – for example 12, followed by 13, 14 etc. Yet another is the one Mandriva uses. In the Mandriva naming scheme, releases are named as YYYY.N, where YYYY is the year of the release and N is the number of release in that year.

An interesting naming scheme being discussed is the octal system. In the proposed system, releases are named according to the octal number system. In this system the next release will be 012, followed by 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 020 etc. A naming system based on seasons is also proposed. According to this, releases are named as Autumn 2011, Summer 2012,  Spring 2013 etc. This naming scheme is however likely to run into problems as not everyplace has the same seasons.

Novell is still accepting suggestions for more naming schemes until 14th of March. So, if you have something in mind, do send them a suggestion. Novell is planning to have two rounds of voting to pick the final naming scheme they will go with.

Personally, I think the Ubuntu naming scheme is the easiest and best option – maybe because I am an Ubuntu user. Which naming scheme do you prefer?

[source]

DraftSight Is A Free CAD Software For Linux

When it comes to CAD software, AutoCAD is still the best one around. Unfortunately for Linux user though, AutoCAD is not available on Linux – and it also cost around $4000 which is a lot.

Dassaults Systemes has just released the first beta of an AutoCAD clone called DraftSight. Unlike AutoCAD which does not work on Linux and which cost a bomb, DraftSight has a Linux version and it is available for free as well. This is probably the closest free alternative to AutoCAD that works on Linux right now.

DraftSight has a user inteface which is not very different from that of AutoCAD. So, users of AutoCAD should be familiar with using it. In addition to the similarity in the UI, DraftSight can also open, edit and save AutoDesk’s (the company that makes AutoCAD) proprietary .dwg files. This makes DraftSight a very good alternative to AutoCAD if you want a CAD software that runs on Linux and does not cost much.

DraftSight is not open-source, but it is a free software. Beside Linux, it is available for Mac and Windows as well. For Linux, both .deb and .rpm packages are available. You can download it from here.

The package for Ubuntu is for 32-bit only. If you are using 64-bit Ubuntu and want to install it, follow the steps below. :

  • Download the .deb package from the link given above.
  • Open the Terminal and go to the download directory.
  • Now install the dependencies using the commands:
sudo apt-get install  libxcb-render-util0 libdirectfb-extra
  • Finally install DraftSight with the command given below:
sudo dpkg -i --force-architecture DraftSight.deb

Here is an introductory video of DraftSight:

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

[via WebUpd8]

How to Run Windows Live Writer in Linux

Last week, an online buddy of mine told me that he’d use Linux more often if he could run Windows Live Writer in it. I had to agree, there are many different blog editors in Linux, but once you’ve gotten used to using Live Writer, you’ve been spoiled and won’t want to use anything less satisfying.

After a bit of searching around online, I finally figured out that the best solution might be to run a full copy of Windows inside a virtual machine. Then I’d have the best of both worlds within easy reach. After trying it, I discovered that it works quite well. In fact, this article was posted from Xubuntu Linux, using Windows Live Writer.

wlw-in-linux

virtualbox_logoI decided to use VirtualBox as the virtual machine server, because it’s open source, but mainly because it’s already in the Ubuntu Software Center. Installing it was as easy as searching for VirtualBoxand marking it for installation.

An old, unused copy of Windows XP was my choice for a guest operating system. I was familiar with the steps needed to set that up, but if you need help, you can find a great tutorial on installing XP in VirtualBox at Linux Journal.

After I had XP running the first time, I did have a few problems. I kept receiving warnings that I didn’t have the Automatic Updates enabled. Since this was virtual machine, I really didn’t want it to update. If I had any problems, I could always use VirtualBox’s snapshots to return to an older state when needed. I finally opened XP’s Services manager and turned off the Automatic Updatesand the Security Center.

You can launch the Services manager by clicking Start, Runand then typing services.mscinto the run box (without quotes).

services

I also noticed that I couldn’t copy and paste between Linux and Windows. I found out that I needed to install the Guest Additionsin XP. You can find these in the VirtualBox Devicesmenu while the virtual machine is running.

vb-guest-additions

There are two versions of Windows Live Writer. One version is for XP, while the most current version is for Vista and Windows 7.

Once you have Live Writer installed this way, you are ready to blog with ease, no matter what flavor of Linux you’re using. If you have your own favorite blog editor, let us know in the comments below.

Jolicloud Rebranded As Joli OS; Android App Coming Soon

Jolicloud – the cloud based operating system based on Ubuntu – is one of the first cloud based OS I have used. It is quite a nifty operating system and we have written about it a lot here at Techie Buzz.

In a blog post, the team behind Jolicloud has announced that they are giving Jolicloud a new identity. Earlier, the name “Jolicloud”  referred  to the operating system. However when the Jolicloud app was launched in the Chrome Web Store, it turned to to be quite successful there as well. This leaves two Jolicloud in two forms – a stand-alone operating system with cloud focus and a web app using which users can experience many of the features found in the stand-alone OS.

This is what the Jolicloud team wrote in the blog post:

Back in December, we introduced a Web only version of  Jolicloud for the Chrome Web Store. That app has already reached 60,000 installs and is now among the top 40 most popular apps. This success has convinced us that we now have to expand our experience beyond our own OS to be relevant on other platforms.

To remove this ambiguity, the Jolicloud team has announced that they are giving different names to the two. From now on, the stand-alone operating system will known as Joli OS. The web app, which can be accessed both from a normal browser and Joli OS, will be given the name Jolicloud.

The web app, now known as Jolicloud, is currently available only in the Chrome Web Store. However, they are looking to expand beyond that by supporting Firefox 4 and Safari. An experimental HTML5 port for the iPad is also being developed.

Another very exciting announcement is that they are looking to expand Jolicloud beyond traditional computing devices like desktops, laptops, netbooks etc. The Jolicloud team announced that they are planning to bring the Jolicloud experience to mobile devices as well. Their first step towards this is Android. They are working on an Android app for Jolicloud which should be available soon.

What Is New Fedora 15 Alpha?

Yesterday the first alpha of Fedora 15 “Lovelock” was released. This release is a very important release both for Fedora as well as other free software communities for a number of reasons.

GNOME 3

The first thing you will notice in Fedora 15 is GNOME-Shell. GNOME Shell is the new user interface that the all new GNOME 3 brings. This is the first time that GNOME 3 has been included in any of the major Linux distributions. From what I have seen, it seems like GNOME 3 does not have a many supporters. So, having GNOME 3 as default in Fedora will help to judge how people react to the complete overhaul.

LibreOffice

Like Ubuntu, Fedora has also decided to drop OpenOffice.org in favor of LibreOffice in this release. As of now LibreOffice is pretty much similar to OpenOffice and users will not feel lost. However, it is good that Fedora is also putting its weight behind the community driven project.

systemd

An important change that has been implemented under the hood is that systemd has replaced Upstart in this release. systemd is a system and session manager for Linux. It is faster than Upstart and offers more features. It was originally planned for Fedora 14, but was delayed.

BoxGrinder

BoxGrinder is another new feature in Fedora 15 alpha that holds a lot of promise. BoxGrinder is an easy to use command line tool to create appliances (virtual images) for various platforms (KVM, Xen, VMware, EC2) from simple plaintext application files.  It is developed by Red Hat and is comparable to Novell’s SUSE Studio.

LessFS

Fedora 15 alpha includes a new feature called LessFS. LessFS reduces disk usage by storing identical blocks only once and using pointers to point to the location. This is not a very important feature for desktop users but very useful for Enterprise.

These are just some of the main things that have changed in Fedora 15 Alpha. If you want to read more, you can go through the release note.

If you want to test Fedora 15 Alpha, download it from here.

German Foreign Office Falls Back to Using Windows XP

The German Foreign Ministry has undone ten years of hard work and has decided to fall back to using Windows-XP against the current process of the migration to Linux. This comes as a double shock, first the migration away from Linux and second, the choice of the now-obsolete Windows XP.
open-source
The migration to Linux started in 2001 and by 2005, the Government has been using,

open source software such as Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice on its desktop systems. Mobile systems use a Debian GNU/Linux based Linux and office PCs are configured with a dual Windows / Linux boot.

Open-source was operational on German-government systems by 2007 and they reported obvious profits in using open-source over closed source. However, recently, the foreign ministry has seen some problems in running open-source and has decided to fall back to Windows XP saying,

the cost of adapting and extending it, for example in writing printer and scanner drivers, and of training, have proved greater than anticipated. The extent to which the potential savings trumpeted in 2007 have proved realisable has, according to the government, been limited though it declines to give any actual figures. Users have, it claims, also complained of missing functionality, a lack of usability and poor interoperability.

The government claims that the cost of migrating to Windows will be far less than the cost of managing an army of programmers to write drivers for all the hardware they have currently. This raises some serious questions on the hardware and the technical expertise that government employees have.

The reason for this migration seems to be twofold. First, the government employees seem exceptionally familiar with the Windows UI, specifically that of Windows XP and have resentments against using anything else. Secondly, the German government possibly uses some legacy hardware that has driver issues with Linux, but has full Windows support.

However, if even after a decade of migration, the government had to turn back, it proves that Linux is not ready for the common-man yet and is still, an operating system for power-users.