Firefox 5.0 Available For Ubuntu In The Mozilla PPA

Note: Users of Ubuntu 11.04 no longer need to do the steps mentioned here. Please refer to this article for details if you are using Ubuntu 11.04.

A couple of days back, we reported that Firefox 5.0 was available ahead of its scheduled release date in Mozilla’s FTP server. Well, today it has landed in the firefox-next PPA that Mozilla maintains for early adopters. The firefox-next PPA was created by Mozilla recently for the beta releases of Firefox.

Those who have been using Firefox 5 Beta from the PPA can simply update their system to get the final version of Firefox 5.0. Unlike the version of Firefox available from Mozilla directly, the one from the PPA does not have auto-update. So, you have to do it manually from the Terminal.

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

If you are still using Firefox 4, you need to add the firefox-next PPA first.

Note: With the following steps you will be adding a PPA generally used for unstable builds of Firefox. Remove the PPA after installation or wait for Firefox 5 to arrive at the main PPA if you do want to face any potential problems.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

Although, Firefox 5.0 for Linux is also available from the Mozilla FTP server, it is recommended that you install it from the PPA if you are on Ubuntu. The version available in the PPA has been built for Ubuntu and supports Ubuntu specific features such as the application menu.

Firefox 5.0 looks pretty much the same as Firefox 4. Most of the changes are under the hood and performance related improvements. One important addition to Firefox 5.0 is the Do-Not-Track feature. In the Ubuntu build, you can activate it from Edit > Preferences > Privacy.

Here is a screenshot of Firefox 5 in Ubuntu:

Ubuntu To Be Distributed As A Hybrid Image

Fedora does it; OpenSUSE does it and now Ubuntu will also be distributed as a hybrid ISO. Many RPM distributions have been releasing their ISOs in the hybrid format for quite sometime now. Colin Watson of Canonical has announced yesterday that all the amd64 and i386 ISO for Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelotwill be distributed in the hybrid format starting today.

What is a hybrid image?

Ubuntu users must be aware that whenever a new version of Ubuntu is released, it is made available as an ISO file. That file can be burned to a CD directly and the CD can be used to boot into an Ubuntu live environment and to install Ubuntu to the hard disk if the user desires. However if users wanted to install using a USB flash drive, they had to rely on a special application the Start-up Disk Creator.

With a hybrid image, users do not need the Start-up Disk Creator. If they want to boot using a USB flash drive, they can simply copy the contents of the image file into the USB drive. Of course, hybrid image can still be burned directly to a CD.

Why was Ubuntu so late in adopting hybrid image?

As mentioned above, many other Linux distributions have been releasing hybrid ISOs for quite a while now. Ubuntu could not switch over to the hybrid images because, like Debian, Ubuntu was using jigdo downloads. Switching to a hybrid image will break jigdo.

Debian switched over from jigdo to xorisso in January because xorisso works with hybrid images. And now Ubuntu too has decided to switch over to xorisso and distribute hybrid images after all Ubuntu is a Debian derivative.

What does this mean for users?

For those who uses the image files by burning it to a CD, this means absolutely nothing for them. Everything will work as it has always worked.

For those who prefers USB flash drives to CDs, this means that the Ubuntu Start-up Creator is no longer needed. All that is needed to make a bootable USB drive is the dd command. Here is the syntax for the command:

dd if=<image_name> of=/dev/sdX

<image_name> is the name of the hybrid image you have downloaded and sdX is your USB drive.

Right now I do not think that there is no GUI application to do this. But before the release of Ubuntu 11.10, I expect to see one.

Mark Shuttleworth: “Real Possibility of Google Chrome Replacing Firefox In Future Ubuntu Release”

During the Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric, we reported that there were discussions about Chrome (or rather, its open source version, Chromium) replacing Firefox as the default browser in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot. That did not happen and Firefox remained as the default browser for Oneiric.

In an interview with Network World, Mark Shuttleworth confirmed that Canonical is looking to replace Firefox with Chrome in Ubuntu. Shuttleworth said that he is a big fan of the browser from Google and confirmed that there was discussion on the feasibility of Chrome (or Chromium) replacing Firefox in Ubuntu 11.10. That did not happen and the switch will, in all  probability,  not happen in Ubuntu 12.04 as well because it is a Long term Support (LTS) Release.


So, it may take one year for Chrome to replace Firefox, but Shuttleworth said that it is a real possibility that we may see Firefox being replaced in Ubuntu 12.10. However with the pace of Chrome’s development and Mozilla adopting an accelerated development cycle for Firefox recently, thing could change a lot in a year.

Shuttleworth said that one of the best thing to have happened for Chrome on Linux has been Chrome OS. Because Chrome OS is basically Chrome running on a Linux, Google has invested a lot in optimizing the performance of Chrome on Linux. That has resulted in Chrome on Linux outperforming the other platforms Mac and Windows.

Whatever the default browser is, users are free to install the browser that suits their need, just like Chrome users do today. So, in essence choosing Chrome/Chromium as the default browser will not affect anything. It will simply be an acknowledgement of the progress that Google Chrome (or Chromium) has made in the last two years.

Which browser do you prefer? Firefox or Chrome/Chromium?

[image credit]

Canonical Builds A 42-Core Ubuntu ARM Build Machine

With the low power ARM processors becoming very popular because of smartphones and tablets, Canonical is trying to expand the architectures which Ubuntu supports by including ARM as well. Technically, Ubuntu can be run on ARM machines as well but the Canonical servers does not build ARM packages. So, anyone who wants to use Ubuntu on ARM have to manually build them.

With Ubuntu planning to officially support ARM, they need to build packages for the ARM architecture as well. The job of building an Ubuntu ARM build machine was given to David Mandalla.

The ARM cluster server that Mandalla is building makes use of the relatively cheap PandaBoard. Each PandaBoard software development platform has a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processors running at 1GHz and a low power 1 GB DDR2 RAM.

The ARM build machine that Mandalla is developing has 21 PandaBoards with each board connected to a 300GB hard drive. This brings final specifications of the machine to 42-core ARM processor, 42 GB DDR2 RAM and 6.3 TB of storage.

Out of the 21 boards, 20 will be used to build Ubuntu packages. One board will be used as the master board to allocate the build requests received from users to the other 20 boards.

Mandalla is documenting the build on his blog. You can read more at his blog.



How To Install Thunderbird 5 Beta 1 in Ubuntu (11.04, 10.10 & 10.04)

Last week, Mozilla released Thunderbird 5 Beta 1. Thunderbird is a very popular email client from Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox browser. Mozilla has decided to skip Thunderbird 4 so as to keep up with the versioning of the Gecko engine.


Before we get on to how to install it, let us look at the main new features in Thunderbird 5 Beta 1.

  • Thunderbird 5 Beta 1 has a new add-on and extension management API.
  • Like in Firefox and other web browsers, tabs in Thunderbird can be reordered and rearranged across different windows.
  • The account creation wizard has been improved to make it a better and easier experience.

The user interface of Thunderbird 5 Beta 1 is the same as that of the previous release. But before the final release, it will get an updated user interface.

Install Thunderbird 5 Beta 1

Thunderbird 5 Beta 1 is now available in the the Mozilla Team’s PPA for Ubuntu. So, installation is very simple. Right now packages are available for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkatand Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx.

Note: Before installing please be aware that this is not a stable release and might break. If you are already using a previous version of Thunderbird, this will upgrade it.

Open the Terminal and execute the command given below:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/thunderbird-next

After the PPA has been added, update your software list:

$ sudo apt-get update

Finally install Thunderbird 5 Beta 1.

$ sudo apt-get install thunderbird


Thunderbird 5 in Unity Dash
Thunderbird 5 Beta 1




Asus To Sell Eee PC Netbooks With Ubuntu Installed

PC manufacturer Asus has announced that they are releasing three Eee PC netbook models with Ubuntu pre-installed. The three models that will be available with Ubuntu are the 1001PXD, 1011PX and 1015PX. Asus also announced that they plan make more models available with Ubuntu. The version of Ubuntu that will ship with these netbooks is Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat.

Asus Eee PC 1015PX

This represents a homecoming of sort for the Eee PC models. Asus released the first Eee PC netbook with Xandros Linux installed. However, they subsequently replaced the operating system with Windows Xp, citing the high return rate of the netbooks with Linux.

Chris Kenyon, vice president of OEM at Canonical, said that Canonical has leaned from the mistake with Xandros Linux.

The netbooks previously sold with Linux, people hadn’t pre-installed all the right media codecs – it wasn’t necessarily a fantastic web experience. That has fundamentally changed.

The Ubuntu netbooks that Asus will sell will have Flash installed by default, along with the media codecs. These are normally not included in the Ubuntu installer because they are proprietary software.

Canonical and Asus’s decision to pre-install Ubuntu with these non-open source codecs will not go down well with some people. However, if Ubuntu is to truly achieve any significant market share, some compromises like this will have to be made on the way.

Pricing for these netbooks are not available yet.

[sources: PC Pro, The Inquirer]

Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” Alpha 1 Released

As scheduled, the first alpha of Ubuntu 11.10, codenamed Oneiric Ocelot, has been released today.

The biggest change in Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1 from Ubuntu 11.04 is GNOME 3.0. Ubuntu 11.04 has GNOME 2.32. In Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1, it has been upgraded to the new GNOME 3.0. The immediate effects of the upgrade will be visible with the theme since Radiance and Ambiance themes have not been ported to GTK3, the applications look ugly like Windows 95 for now.

Other then GNOME3, there are not much changes except for version upgrades of applications for example Firefox has been updated to Firefox 5 Beta.

The KDE derivative, Kubuntu 11.10 too has been released but it does not have much changes. The most notable change is that Muon Software Center has replaced KPackage Kit. KDE SC 4.4 beta 1 has not been included and Kubuntu 11.10 still uses KDE 4.6.3.

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelotis not recommended for use, except for testing. In case you want to test it, you can either upgrade from Ubuntu 11.04 or do a clean install.


To upgrade from Ubuntu 11.04, open the Terminal and execute the command given below:

$ sudo do-release-upgrade d


To download the CD image of Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1 and its derivatives, follow the link given below:

Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 1 Desktop and Server

Kubuntu 11.10

Read more here.

You can see the release schedule here and the main features planned for Ubuntu 11.10 here.

Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" Features Defined

ubuntu-new-logo After the conclusion of the Ubuntu Developers Summit – Oneiric, we pretty much knew what to expect from Ubuntu 11.10. Today, Jason Warner from Canonical has made the feature list for Ubuntu 11.10 official. Let us take a look at the new features that are making it into Ubutnu 11.10 one by one.


After resisting the change to GNOME 3 in Ubuntu 11.04, Ubuntu 11.10 will finally make the move to GNOME 3. Ubuntu 11.10 will, however, continue to use Unity not GNOME 3.

The move to GNOME 3 is likely to be the most challenging part of the Oneiric development. GNOME 3 does not have any indicator menu integration yet and there are no GTK3 themes as well.

LightDM will replace GDM

The earlier reports that LightDM might replace GDM has been confirmed. LightDM is a light weight display manager which supports extensive themeing capabilities not supported in either KDM or GDM.

There has been no confirmation yet as to whether LightDM will replace KDM as well.

Unity 2D will replace Ubuntu Classic Desktop

In Ubuntu 11.04, the Ubuntu Classic Desktop was used to provide a fall back option if the hardware cannot run Unity. In Ubuntu 11.10, the Ubuntu Classic Desktop has been removed and Unity 2D will be used as a fall back option.

The addition of Unity 2D means that for the first time in its history, Ubuntu will come with Qt by default something which Shuttleworth has said will happen earlier this year.

Software Center to get better

The Ubuntu Software Center is also getting a new look which emphasizes touch friendliness. It will also be better integrated into Unity and the performance will receive   a boost.

Thunderbird will be the default email client

The talks about Thunderbird replacing Evolution as the default email client has been confirmed. Thunderbird is a much more feature rich and faster email client than Evolution. However, work needs to be done to give Thunderbird the same features as Evolution has due of its deep GNOME integration.

Gwibber UI to change

There is no doubt that Gwibber is one of the most frustrating applications to use that comes by default with Ubuntu. In Ubuntu 11.10, that might change. Gwibbber is about to get a UI port to improve its responsiveness and give it a more modern look.

Deja Dup

As we have mentioned before, Ubuntu 11.10 come with the backup tool Deja Dup by default.

You can view the release schedule of Ubuntu 11.10 here.

Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” Release Schedule

Now that Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narhwal” had been released and the developers have decided on the course that the next release will take, the release schedule of Ubuntu 11.10, codenamed “Oneiric Ocelot”, has been released.

According to the release schedule, we will see the first alpha of Ubuntu 11.10 as early as 2nd June and the final release is scheduled on 13th October. Here are the important milestones for the Ubuntu 11.10 development cycle:

2nd June Alpha 1

30th June Alpha 2

4th August Alpha 3

1st September Beta 1

23rd September Beta 2

6th October Release Candidate

13th October Final Release

Ubuntu 11.10 will continue to use the Unity interface. The classic desktop option found in Ubuntu 11.04 will be replaced by Unity 2D. Although Ubuntu 11.10 will use Unity, the GNOME stack will be updated to GNOME 3. The GNOME Display manager is also expected to be dropped in favor the LightDM.

There are also a few new applications that are making their way into Ubuntu 11.10 such as the back up tool Deja Dup and email client Thunderbird. Technically, Thunderbird has not been confirmed for inclusion, but it is very likely that it will replace Evolution. A few applications such as the video editor PiTiVi and Computer Janitor have been dropped. You can read more about the changes expected in Ubuntu 11.10 from our coverage of the Ubuntu Developers Summit.

If you want the detailed release schedule, check it out here.

How To Backup Your Files Using Deja Dup [Ubuntu] Part-2

This is the second part of the article  How To Backup Your Files Using Deja Dup [Ubuntu]. If you have not read the first part, I suggest that you do so.

In the first part, we discussed how to install Deja Dup and how to set up the storage location and the select the folders to be backed up. Now we continue with how you can set up the backup schedules.

After setting up the folders to back up, we have the most important part – scheduling the backup. Deja Dup allows you to take backups either manually or automatically. If you want to take backups manually, uncheck the box next to  Automatically back up on a regular schedule. It is, however, recommended that you allow Deja Dup to take backups automatically.

If you choose to let Deja Dup take up the backups automatically, pick how often Deja Dup will back up. A daily backup could be quite tedious. So, I recommend the weekly backup unless you have critical data. The next fieldKeep backups is very important. We want to keep enough backups in case something goes wrong. But at the same time keeping backups for a very long time can take up a lot of disk space unnecessarily. For a weekly backup schedule, keeping the backups for a month or two is sufficient. Keeping the backups forever is not recommended as very old backups will become obsolete.

Once you have set up Deja Dup to take backups automatically, you do not need to do anything except when you have to restore a backup. If you choose to do a manual backup though, you have to launch the application  Deja Dup Backup Tool every time you want to take a backup and click on  Back Up. Remember that taking backups will take time and in Ubuntu 11.04, the progress is shown in the launcher.

Restoring Backups

Restoring files using Deja Dup is incredibly easy. Open the  Deja Dup Backup Tool and click on Restore. Now you have to select the location where the backup files are located. Make sure to check the box next to  Backup files are encrypted if you encrypted them as recommended. After you have selected the backup location, you can choose which backup to restore and if you want to restore in the original location or to another location. Select your chose and Deja Dup will start the restoration. Depending to the size of the backups, it could take a while to complete the restoration.

Deja Dup Vs Other Backup Tools

Deja Dup is by no means the most powerful backup tool available for Ubuntu.  However, the advantage that Deja Dup have over the other backup tools is its simplicity. Deja Dup is so simple to use that anyone who can operate a computer will be able to use it. Yes, Deja Dup lacks certain features such as  restoring a single file etc. But it has most of the features that a normal user would expect from a backup tool.

As  mentioned  in the first paragraph, Deja Dup will be included as a default application in Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”. In the earlier Ubuntu releases too, I consider Deja Dup as a must have application.