Ubuntu Software Center Adds PayPal Support to Payment Options

For any software center or app marketplace, integrating a payment mechanism involves managing fraud recognition and geographical tax constrains. Once these hurdles are crossed, it is merely a matter of technical integration. Ubuntu Software Center showcases some non-free games like Braid, that are extremely popular on other platforms. However, payment for purchase of paid games and apps has been a long-standing issue, for Ubuntu, because it supported only credit cards.

Following a discussion on AskUbuntu, I arrived at a page  on Ubuntu Brainstorm  a few months ago. It was a discussion on possible payment methods for Ubuntu Software Center with an ongoing voting. After almost six months, during which a tough battle ensued, support for PayPal payments beat third-party payment solutions by a small margin. PayPal support grabbed 127 votes, with bank plugins lagging behind at 120 votes. The idea has finally been implemented, and this brings in support for PayPal Payments in the Ubuntu Software Center, beside the regular Credit Card payment method.

All payments for app purchase are directed through “Ubuntu Pay”, a feature in the Ubuntu Software Center. After Ubuntu integrates  PayPal into the Software Center fully, users will be allowed to choose between Credit Card and PayPal payments before they proceed with the actual payment.

Canonical announced the integration saying,

It’s been a long time in development, but we’re finally drawing close to releasing Paypal support in Ubuntu Pay, the payment service behind Ubuntu Software Centre.  We’re aiming to launch this new feature before Christmas.

Not everyone might welcome this move, give the fact that it brings Ubuntu closer to closed-source and proprietary software. Moreover, PayPal’s shady business practices and steep exchange rates are not  appreciable  either. However, this PayPal integration will let Ubuntu application developers earn from worldwide app-sales in a hassle free way, and will attract new talents and developers to the Ubuntu app ecosystem.

Ubuntu Unveils Web Music Streaming Service

It’s official, Ubuntu has rolled out a Web Music addition to their Ubuntu One service.

An addition to the Ubuntu One “cloud service” now allows all users with a paid subscription to save, store and stream music directly from a web browser. After logging into your  UbuntuOne  control panel, there is a new tab showing off the features, which include offline listening, access to the vast Ubuntu One Music Store and 20GB of storage, with a monthly subscription. Of course there is also a 30 day free trial for the service should you want to try before you buy.

Previous to today, the service was only available from a mobile device running iOS or Android. A free app, available in both the Apple App Store and the Android Market, provided mobile users with a way to stream and access all the content stored in their cloud. Although users have access to the iTunes Cloud and Google Music on their respective handsets, many use alternatives that provide “personalized  radio” based on recommendations, tag matching and “crowdsourced” content such as Spotify and Pandora. Unfortunately UbuntuOne Web Music does not include this, but playlist creation, queue management and shuffle might be enough for you.


It really does seem as if Ubuntu is laying the framework and infrastructure for eventually providing a mobile operating system or partnering with an OEM for shipping U1 services directly on devices. They have a niche market with Ubuntu installations on many personal computers, they have cross-platform sync through a proven cloud service that allows file storage, contact and note sync, and now completely cross-platform music streaming.

Ubuntu says they will continue building out their One service and 2012 will be a big year. The mobile space has been heating up for a long time, and although there might not be any room for a new platform, providing tightly integrated services could be a real differentiating factor for many OEMs. Hopefully Canonical sees this opportunity and can seize it, truly bringing Ubuntu to the masses.

From Warty Warthog to Oneiric Ocelot- Seven Years of Ubuntu [Editorial]

Ubuntu Linux turned seven recently, and so did an ideology that has brought Ubuntu Linux this far. The simple South-African word Ubuntu that started out as a philosophy is also an operating system today.

The credit for the name Ubuntu goes to Mark Shuttleworth, who is a South-African entrepreneur operating out of England. He started Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. Today, Canonical is known for a multitude of products-Ubuntu,  Upstart,  Storm,  Bazaar  and  Quickly. Perhaps, it is best known for giving the world of Linux distros its Disney-queen.

ubuntu-logoAfter creating Ubuntu, he wanted to lay a strong foundation around the Ubuntu ecosystem. He wanted to make it sustainable and that is where, the Ubuntu operating system actually started following the Ubuntu philosophy. In October 2004, Mark Shuttleworth started a trust- The Ubuntu Foundation to ensure long-term support for the Linux distro Ubuntu. The trust went inactive after a few years, but it still exists today. In fact, Ubuntu has formed better wings to address the sustainability issue. However, what Ubuntu really means, was immortalized in this  interview of Nelson Mandella.

How to Create a Bootable Ubuntu 11.10 USB Disk

Ubuntu 11.10 was released a few days ago. It has vast improvements over the last version that was praised by people. The new Unity interface and behind-the-scene changes are remarkable. Moreover, when it comes to trying out Ubuntu, there are equally flexible options. You can  try it online, or as it has always been with Ubuntu, you can try it using a live CD.

Unetbootin  has been the  tool of choice for creating Ubuntu live CDs  all this long. This time, Canonical is going with a new tool call Universal USB Installer. Universal USB Installer has been around for a long time. However, it is good to see that Ubuntu allows new tools to gain from its own popularity. Unetbootin has earned its fame, and now, Universal USB Installer is on its way to fame.

To create a bootable Ubuntu USB drive installer, go to this download page for  Universal USB Installer  and download the software. It is sized at around 1 MB and it does not require any installation.

Select Ubuntu 11.10 from the drop-down list at the first screen. Subsequently, you can either download the ISO file from the application itself, or select a  downloaded Ubuntu 11.10 ISO file.

universal-usb-installer

The persistent file-size allows us to have a portable functional operating system with user-files. This makes it a wonderful choice for portability. Clicking on Create’ will create your portable USB disk. Make sure you have secured all your important files on the removable disk.

Once you have a bootable disk with this software, you can install Ubuntu using it or use it as a portable Ubuntu installation.

Screenshot Tour of The Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot was released couple of hours ago and quite a few people would have already downloaded and installed or upgraded it. If you’re one of those wondering – “How does it look?” – here’s a brief screenshot tour.

Ubuntu greets you with a nice welcome/login screen. Your account is selected by default, but there’s an option for Guest login, as well as login as any user option.

Ubuntu Login screen

You can set it to login automatically, if you wish. Accessibility option is provided for, via an onscreen keyboard, a high-contrast screen setting as well as a screen reader. The accessibility option is tucked away a little bit further away. A more prominent setting would have been much appreciated, though.

Once you login, you’re greeted with Ubuntu’s default user interface, Unity.

Ubuntu desktop

One of the complaints about Unity was that users didn’t know what to click on, besides the quick launcher icons – so Canonical has added a nice Ubuntu icon to ensure the launcher, Dash, gets more visibility. Clicking on Dash brings about a nice UI for actions which are most commonly used on a computer – Browser the Web, Listen to Music or View Photos.

 

Dash Home screen

The search bar is probably one that’s going to be used quite frequently, and is very well done. Not only the search results are very fast – it’s grouped according to the types of results. So typing a keyword will bring up the results grouped into apps, folders, files and so on. For example, clicking on More apps will bring up a list of all apps – both installed and that can be downloaded – again grouped into different types.

Dash Apps Filter

The categorization is not restricted to just apps – if you’re fanatical about, let’s say your music being well organized and tagged, Dash’s lenses feature will ensure that the music you want is available just by searching and then filtered as per the tags – for instance – by genre, release year and so on.

Lenses for your music collection

Clicking on View Photos brings up the photo viewer and manager, Shotwell. You’ll be prompted to import your photos and if required, categorize them into events.

Shotwell Photo Manager

Events in Shotwell

Moving on, clicking on Listen to Music launches the music player, Banshee. Banshee can import your existing music collection – whether from a folder, a series of folders or even from iTunes.

Bansee music player

Your music is always a click away – clicking on your user name brings a dropdown menu where you can select to play your music.

Banshee Music Player

Due to legal restrictions, Ubuntu cannot play certain types of media (such as MP3 files) out of the box. Earlier, trying to get the codecs installed often resulted in a lot of frustration for the user. This has improved quite dramatically over the past few years and Oneiric Ocelot is no exception. If you try to play a media file which cannot be played, Banshee will prompt to check for available codecs & then proceed to install them.

Search for plugin

Installing the plugins

As I had mentioned in my earlier post on Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot beta, Ubuntu Software Center has been updated to include a top rated apps and featured apps view. This makes app discovery a lot easier.

Ubuntu Software Center

Both free and paid apps are listed – with all the details about them.

Software Center

The Unity Launcher is where you can configure your mostly frequently applications to be pinned so that you can launch them right away. Adding or removing an application is another click away.

Add to Launcher

Some of the launcher actions are context-senstive too – for instance, right-clicking on the Word Processor ( LibreOffice’s Writer is the default, in case you’re wondering) provides an option to create a new document. Right-clicking on the Screenshot application allows you to take a full-screen or partial window screenshot and this is just a (right) click away!

Context senstive actions

Wrapping up the tour, Workspaces( aka virtual desktops) are also available by default on the Launcher, and allows you to move all related apps to a workspace – I’ve used this feature since my early Linux days, and is a immense productivity booster.

Workspace Switcher

I’ve been playing with Ubuntu 11.10 for a few hours now since launch ( and the beta as well) – and I’ve found it to be really nice, with no major bugs – except for small niggles.

If you’re itching to try out Ubuntu – you can always download the ISO and boot it off the DVD/CD drive. Also, Wubi allows you to try it out along with your Windows install with no partitioning required. There’s also a really nice web-based tour that you can try out, if you don’t want to bother with the download. Do drop in your comments about the new release!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ubuntu Online Demo- Try Ubuntu Online Before Download

Live CDs have always been an  USP  (Unique Selling Proposition) for Linux. Since live CDs appeared for the first time, there was a sharp increase in the number of users trying out different Linux flavors, just to get a taste of it. You did not need to install it anywhere on your hard disk and that was awesome.

Ubuntu has taken this flexibility to the next level. This time, the user-experience of Ubuntu 11.10 is available on the web and you can actually try it even before you download any CD or DVD image. The idea of having an online demo of Ubuntu was proposed  in a conversation  that said,

As a result of hearing a lot of my friends complain about their  experiences with Vista I have been pondering ways to make things easy  for them when it comes to test driving Ubuntu. Our live CD is  absolutely amazing, it is not only useful but it is a great test drive  experience. What if we could make things a little MORE easier though,  like provide a live demo of the desktop via the web. I am thinking of  something that can be accessed through a webpage (probably via a  plugin)  that allows the person to interact with the Ubuntu desktop without having to reboot their machine or burn something to a CD. My first question is do we have anything like that already out there that is not  commercial? Also it is important that it is locally run, I want to  customize it and tweak it.

The idea has come to fruition and we have a demo tour of Ubuntu 11.10 that can be  accessed at this page.

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Are you impressed with the demo?
download-ubuntu
Head over to this post for a comprehensive list of Ubuntu downloads.

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot is Here, Welcome to a Whole New World!

Following the regular six-month release cycle, Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot is here to impress everyone. This new release of Ubuntu brings vast improvements and many awaited features. The UX changes that were introduced in Ubuntu 11.04 have been perfected in version 11.10 and the new version comes with a bold claim- “Welcome to a whole new world”.

ubuntu-11-10

Ubuntu 11.10 comes with the new Linux kernel version 3.0, which has automatic defragmentation, support for new hardware and new drivers. Gnome has been upgraded to version 3.2. However, what may come as a visible change to users is the improved Unity interface. The Unity application launcher has been revamped and it looks much slicker now.

The Ubuntu announce mailing list made the release announcement saying,

The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce Ubuntu 11.10, code-named “Oneiric Ocelot”. 11.10 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution.

Existing users can upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu.  As usual, Ubuntu comes in two flavors this time too. There is a desktop edition and a server edition, which  recently got ARM support. You can  head over to the download page  to download the version of Ubuntu Oneiric suitable for you.

[Direct Download link]  Download Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop Edition  (x86 version)

[Direct Download link]  Download Ubuntu 11.10 Server Edition  (x86 version)

[Direct Download link]  Download Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop Edition  (x64 version)

[Direct Download link]  Download Ubuntu 11.10 Server Edition  (x64 version)

Ubuntu 12.04 Named, The Countdown Begins

The very popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu, has received its new name. With every public frozen release of Ubuntu, a code-name is chosen which traces its roots back to when Canonical took the reigns and pushed out ‘Warty Warthog’ in 2004. Since then, each 6 month release has received a name made up of a carefully selected adjective paired to the name of an animal. From 8.10 ‘Intrepid Ibex’ to 11.10 ‘Oneiric Ocelot’,  we have now arrived at the latest iteration of Ubuntu nearing release – 12.04.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical Ltd, explains the thought process for coming up with the newly named release, Precise Pangolin.

We’re looking for something phonetic, something plausible and something peaceful too. We’ll avoid the petulant, the pestilent, the phlegmy (phooey!), the parochial, the palliative and the psychotic. We’re aiming for mildly prophetic, and somewhat potent, without wanting to be all pedantic and particular. Phew.

Let’s ask the question differently what are we trying to convey? 12.04 is an LTS. So we want it to be tough and long-lasting, reliable, solid as a rock and well defended. It’s also going to be the face of Ubuntu for large deployments for a long time, so we want it to have no loose ends, we want it to be coherent, neat.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the  Precise Pangolin.

So, what on earth is a pangolin and why is it precise?

It’s very similar to an ant-eater. It has armor to protect itself, it’s versatile and can adapt to the environment. Fitting name for an operating system that needs to be robust and reliable, yet friendly and approachable by a new user.

To anticipate the launch, the Ubuntu team has put up an online countdown timer. It’s vague and they’re purposely skimping on details to create a stir. The timer runs in real-time and will end in just over 24 hours, when everything will, hopefully, be revealed.

The Supreme Court of India Embraces Ubuntu Linux

In a bold move two months back, The Supreme Court of India decided that it should start using Ubuntu Linux as the primary Operating System across all courthouse-offices. The earlier Operating System across Indian courts was RHEL 5 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), and that is why I call this transition a bold move. The quality of support provided by RHEL is unmatched in the world of Linux. It will be interesting to see how Ubuntu performs as a replacement, now that the transition is in process.
supreme-court

The Supreme Court prefers a customized version 10.04 of the Ubuntu distro for this migration. This deprives them of many new features of Ubuntu. However, Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx is the most stable one to come out after Ubuntu 8.04, so this choice is a wise one. There are over  17,000 courts in India that will be migrated over to this custom version of Ubuntu 10.04, as part of this plan.

The main problem faced by widespread adoption of Open Source software has been lack of vendor support. This issue is handled extremely well by Red Hat. However, when it comes to Ubuntu, users have to rely on documentations. Thankfully, the transition from RHEL to Ubuntu will be accompanied by user training. Additionally, a video tutorial and PDF file will be available at all times, at the Supreme Court of India website.

For a welcome change, the guideline message says,

The Ubuntu  Linux Operating System can be installed by the Judicial Officer on his own also as the installation process is very easy, intuitive and self-explanatory. In fact, it shall be a welcome change and a desired enablement on the part of the Judicial Officers if they become self-dependent in this aspect also.

This urges government officials to be familiar with the Ubuntu installation procedure and try it themselves. It also brings considerable cost cutting for the government.

The exact PDF document outlining the guidelines, features of Ubuntu and other technical details can be found at  this link. Video tutorials for demo guides can be found at this page.

Ubuntu 11.10 Will Bring Ubuntu Friendly- a Hardware Validation Program

The Ubuntu roadmap suggests that it will graduate to version 11.10 codenamed Oneiric Ocelot next month. With this new version of Ubuntu, we will see new features, one of them being Ubuntu Friendly. Ubuntu Friendly is a user-feedback system that determines whether Ubuntu runs smoothly on particular hardware or not.
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The  Ubuntu Friendly wiki  explains the system as,

Ubuntu Friendly is an open hardware validation programme for desktops, netbooks and laptops that will be developed during the Oneiric cycle and that will allow to validate as “Ubuntu Friendly” those systems that are known to work well with a particular release of Ubuntu, based on test results sent by Ubuntu users.

The basic aim of the system is to make lives easier for Ubuntu users and to help them decide on buying of laptops and desktops. The review system however, is not completely user-controlled. There is software that runs the review test and it is already available in  Launchpad PPA. The Ubuntu Friendly brand is owned by Canonical. However, there are no commercial criteria for a system to be Ubuntu friendly. It just needs to pass the test successfully.

The Ubuntu friendly program has two teams- the Ubuntu Friendly Squad and the Ubuntu Friendly Control. The Ubuntu Friendly Squad will collect test results, check them for completeness and sort them out. It will also maintain documentation for the program and write new tests for Ubuntu Friendly. Ubuntu Friendly Control is more about managing the Ubuntu Friendly community, as a whole .It will have rights to add and remove members from the program and manage results so that they do not bias the system.

While collecting user-reviews and system compatibility data, the Ubuntu Friendly program will also give Ubuntu users a feeling of being a part of the community. It will be interesting to see whether users take interest in this review system or not.

For more information of Ubuntu Friendly, take a look at their FAQ page.