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Linux, Ubuntu & Android News


Rightful Successor to Open Moko & Nokia N900, Neo900 Open Source Phone Pre Order Starts

Tech Drive-in 22 May 2015, 11:31 am | Tech Drive-in

Sometime back in 2011, Nokia ended its Linux program (MeeGo) with Nokia N9 when Microsoft acquired its mobile division. Much before that in 2009, the last phone with Nokia's Linux based Maemo OS was released, it was called Nokia N900. Though both phones was a hit among its loyal fans, Nokia decided to ditch both the projects and went all out with Windows OS. But some people were just not ready to let go the N900 yet. 
Neo900 Open Source Phone
Neo900 Open Source Phone Project
In the land of iPhones and Androids, Nokia N900 might not have been a runaway success. But as always with Nokia, the hardware was top notch and the software based on Linux worked pretty well too. But it was just a case of too little too late. Nokia was just not willing to read the writing on the wall. But that's beside the point.

A while ago, a team of erstwhile Nokia N900 fans decided to resurrect the long forgotten device. The result is Neo900. Though the team tried their best to update the device with the latest of hardware, when you compare it with contemporaries the results are pretty average. But having said that, Neo900 is not meant for mass production and is not meant to compete. It is mainly targeted at enthusiasts. And that's part of the reason why they have opened up a web shop for Neo900 pre order so that they could raise some money for producing the device and mitigate the risk of losing money on the device (like a down payment).

Neo900 is powered by a 1 GHz TI OMAP DM3730 SoC, has 1 GB of RAM and has the same 3.5 inch TFT resistive touchscreen display. Full spec sheet here.

"The Neo900 is the spritual successor of the Nokia N900. The new circuit board can be placed into an existing N900 for better specs (faster CPU, more RAM, LTE modem) than the original device while still maintaining fremantle (maemo 5) backwards compatibility. Alternatively, a fully assembled phone can be purchased as well. The Neo900 will be fully operational without any binary blob running on the main CPU. While the modem still requires a non-free firmware, it is completely decoupled from the rest of the device (think of a LTE usb stick you put in your laptop) and can reliably be monitored or switched off by the operating system." [source: slashdot.org]

Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition Launched in China, Coming to Europe soon

Tech Drive-in 18 May 2015, 7:43 am | Tech Drive-in

Three months after the first Ubuntu Phone in the form of BQ's Aquaris E4.5 was unveiled, the long awaited Meizu MX4 Ubuntu edition has been launched. Unlike the BQ Aquaris though, there won't be any flash sales which helped creating a lot of hype around the phone. 
Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition Launched
Finally! Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition Unveiled
There has been a lot of talks about the Ubuntu edition of Meizu MX4, mainly because of the fact that this could the first Ubuntu powered smartphone that boasts of flagship-level specs. Rumor has it that a third Ubuntu phone is also in the making, but it seem like we'll have to wait a bit longer for that. Meizu MX4 Ubuntu edition is immediately available to developers in China while the Europe launch is scheduled to happen in the coming months. 
What's so special about Meizu MX4 you might ask. The biggest difference is the fact that, unlike BQ, Meizu is one of the top players in China, the world's biggest market for smartphones. While BQ Aquaris E4.5 was sort of a low-mid range phone that came with a mediocre MediaTek Quad Core Cortex A7 processor and 1 GB of RAM, Meizu MX4 is a 5.2-inch smartphone powered by an eight-core MediaTek MT6595 SoC, 2GB RAM and comes with 16GB of built-in flash storage (BQ had only 8GB versions). Meizu MX4 Ubuntu edition is truly a class apart.
The move kicks off Meizu’s push towards strengthening the Ubuntu ecosystem in China, ahead of launching the Chinese Edition to its user base later this year. The Ubuntu MX4 launch also coincides with the final months of the China Mobile Ubuntu Developer Contest, which is already seeing thousands of developers participating in onsite and online training as well as hackathons at various universities across China. The price of Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition is in the 300 USD range, while BQ Aquaris E 4.5 is priced at 170 Euros. Further reading @UbuntuInsights.

Dell's stunning XPS 13 laptop now comes Ubuntu preloaded

Tech Drive-in 10 Apr 2015, 12:13 am | Tech Drive-in

Dell does its magic again. Not one, but two of their iconic laptop sub-brands now comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu OS. Latest edition of Dell XPS 13 has the thinnest of bezels and its Infinity displays are regarded as the best in the market right now. 
dell xps 13 ubuntu editionDell launches two new Ubuntu developer edition Laptops
More good news for those looking for Linux offerings from hardware makers. Dell has launched two new Ubuntu based laptops targeted at developers: the Dell XPS 13 laptop and the Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation.

The Ubuntu-based Dell XPS 13 laptop developer edition is the fourth generation of its series. It boasts of an almost borderless Ultrasharp QHD+ resolution display that offers stunning clarity and colours. One of its models are touchscreen enabled even. According to official Dell website, two models of Ubuntu pre-loaded XPS 13 editions are available:
  • XPS 13 with 5th gen Intel Core i5 processor, 13.3 inch Infinity display, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5500. Price: 899 €
  • XPS 13 with 5th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 13.3 inch UltraSharp QHD+ Infinity touch display, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5500. Price: 1319 €
The limited 8 GB RAM though, can be a deal-breaker for many. Still, XPS 13 is a staggeringly beautiful device in a very compact form factor. Now, lets move to our second candidate. Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation is a brand new addition to the Dell developer edition lineup. This no-compromise Dell laptop might just be the ideal choice for developers working on Ubuntu platform. It even offers 4K Ultra HD resolution display with touch support. 
Both workstations are now available with the Precision M3800 being available globally and the XP3 13 across North America and Europe. Some useful links below.
  • Precision M3800: [UK] [US] [DE]
Announcement by Canonical here. So what do you think folks? How many among you are blown away by XPS 13's stunning display and form factor? Let us know in the comments. 

MPV - A truly lightweight Mplayer based media player for Linux

Tech Drive-in 25 Feb 2015, 11:24 pm | Tech Drive-in

For those who are in the lookout for a decent multimedia player beyond the usual suspects such as VLC, SMPlayer or GNOME Mplayer, and one that is also light as a feather, look no further, MPV has you covered.

mpv media player ubuntu
MPV - Clean and simple media player for Linux
MPV is a free, open source, and cross-platform media player based on mplayer2 and MPlayer. Though heavily sharing characteristics with its parent projects, MPV further extended their functionalities and added more features while getting nimbler at the same time. MPV is a command line based tool and can be launched from Terminal only, but you can always make it your default media player for different media file formats.
mpv media player ubuntu
  • Powerful command-line based media player with wide range of functionalities.
  • High quality video output, supports video scaling with popular high quality algorithms, color management etc.
  • While MPV has no official GUI, it has a small controller that is triggered by mouse movement. Good enough trade-off when you consider the nimbleness of MPV.
How to install MPV in Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 14.10, elementary Freya?
  • Add the following PPA, update your repositories, and you are good to go. Open Terminal and copy-paste the following commands.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mc3man/mpv-tests
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mpv
  • Done.
mpv media player linux
  • Select your media, right click on it and choose "open in mpv" option. I have set mpv as my default media player for a host of file types. Honestly, I'm really impressed by it so far. 
  • MPV is not just an ordinary media player either. It is a powerful command line tool with capabilities for capturing audio/video output, format conversion, content streaming etc. See mpv manpages for more details. And MPV is being actively developed too. More download options for other platforms can be found here

University Paris 8 ditches Adobe's Photoshop for Krita, Blender and Natron

Tech Drive-in 21 Feb 2015, 8:13 am | Tech Drive-in

Opensource tools in the professional software space are really taking off, be it Blender or GIMP or even the humble LibreOffice. Krita on the other hand is generally accepted as an user-friendly GIMP alternative which is also cross-platform. Krita, which was launched about 9 years ago, is now considered to be as reliable as the best industry has to offer. 

University Paris 8 adopts Krita, ditches Photoshop
The ATI (Art and Technology of Image) department at University Paris 8 is switching over to Krita this year, primary reason being the immense cost benefits that Krita has over costly proprietary alternatives such as Adobe's Photoshop.

This department has the double aim to train students both to use graphic software (2D,3D,VFX and Compositing) and to code their own (Python, C#, C++). Until recently the classes used only Adobe Photoshop, but because of inadequate support from the company the department decided to replace that, according to Krita.


In an interview with Libre Graphics World, University Paris 8's François Grassard, the man behind the department's switch-over to Krita, confirms that their budget is indeed the primary reason for choosing Krita over Photoshop.

"Our university is among public schools that are mostly free in France, except registration fees that are pretty acceptable in comparison to fees in some other countries. To acquire all licenses of software that we teach, we have to rely on our own budget only. And our budget is ridiculously low. So we always have to talk to software vendors about the price of licenses."

"Some companies are pretty fair with us, and we can, for instance, buy all Maya licenses we need. In other cases, companies can't lower the price of their products. That was the case for Adobe. We asked for a discount, they said they can't do that. End of the story." So instead of simply using a cracked version of Adobe Photoshop, the team decides to give Krita a chance.

Enter Krita, the power-packed opensource Photoshop alternative
After being introduced to Krita by an industry expert, students at ATI were mostly impressed by the capabilities of the software, says Grassard. Of course, it's not so easy to learn new software when you have used Photoshop for such a long time. But they decides to give it a go anyway.
"As the result, we switched from Photoshop to Krita. We didn't do it for some kind of revolutionary ideology, we did it to continue using high quality software, and Krita was the best option. I think it's going to be a pretty good experience for everybody at ATI. And we know that a lot of other animation schools in France are watching us."

Story behind Blender and Natron
Blender is a well-know free and opensource 3D modelling & graphics software widely used for making animated movies while Natron is an opensource compositing software. Unlike Krita, the most students at ATI were already quite familiar with Blender. So the choice of this software came naturally from our students, says Grassard. He himself being an ardent user of Blender 3D graphics software, the choice of Blender was pretty straight forward.
After Effects was the primary software of choice for introducing compositing to students at ATI. But after the switch from Photoshop to Krita, they had to find a new one. Then they came to know about open source compositing software named Natron, which apparently was built by a French team at INRIA lab. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Commendable courage and determination shown here by the students as well as their mentor at ATI. We wish them the very best. Read his full interview at Libre Graphics World.

VLC 3.0 to come up with Chromecast support

Tech Drive-in 19 Feb 2015, 7:37 pm | Tech Drive-in

Recent changelog published by VLC confirms once and for all the fact that the next important version of VLC is indeed going to come up with Chromecast support across multiple devices. 

Chromecast support and VLC 3.0
A changelog posted by VLC has confirmed that support for the Google Chromecast, the mighty popular TV dongle, is soon to be added to one of the most loved open source media player out there. That means users will be able to stream just about any media file through VLC media player to the connected Chromecast TV dongle.

Still, it is not entirely clear whether the changes are applicable to VLC player across platforms, but there are indications. VLC had previously revealed that it was looking to add Chromecast support for its entire suite of apps. Let the release happen and then we'll know for sure.
[Source: pocket-lint]

Say hello to Trinity Bundle: 10 epic Steam games for Linux at just $2.49!

Tech Drive-in 19 Feb 2015, 3:32 am | Tech Drive-in

10 epic Steam games for Linux worth more than 120 USD for just $2.49, Bundle Star brings to you perhaps one of the most exciting collection of Linux games this year at throw-away prices. Grab your copy before the time runs out. 
game bundle linux
Trinity Bundle brought to you by Bundle Stars
"All Steam, All Windows, All Mac, All Linux - Save $120 on 10 epic games in the Trinity Bundle, only $2.49!" Official list of games include:
  • Pixel Boy and the Ever Expanding Dungeon (Action-RPG Shoot-em-up)
  • STRONGHOLD 3 GOLD (simulation, Strategy)
  • IO (an abstract physics platformer)
  • REVENGE OF THE TITANS (real-time Strategy and Tower Defense)
  • ERADICATOR (arcade-style action shooter)
  • TERRIAN SAGA: KR-17 (side-scrolling action puzzle-platformer)
  • SENTINEL (tower-defense, strategy)
  • LEGENDS OF AETHEREUS (online action-roleplaying game)
  • SHINY THE FIREFLY (platform adventure)
Go grab your copy: Trinity Game Bundle for Windows, Mac and Linux

Rumor: A third Ubuntu Phone is in the making, US launch likely to happen later this year!

Tech Drive-in 11 Feb 2015, 2:28 pm | Tech Drive-in

The first ever Ubuntu Phone, BQ's Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, went on flash sale today. But the limited stocks were sold out in a matter of hours. But don't worry, you'll witness more flash sales in the coming weeks (Subscribe and we'll keep you updated). And there's more. According to Cristian Parrino from Canonical, Meizu MX4 Ubuntu edition would probably go on sale like BQ Aquaris in March or April and then there is a third manufacturer (which won't be named now due to obvious reasons) whose version of Ubuntu Phones are already in the making.
ubuntu phone for USUS launch of a new Ubuntu Phone likely by the end of this year!A seasoned Ubuntu enthusiast, Sujeevan Vijayakumaran, got to meet Cristian Parrino from Canonical during the sidelines of Ubuntu Phone Insider Launch Event. The short interview resulted in many striking revelations by Canonical's mobile phone division VP. Among them, the most important one was the fact that Canonical is indeed planning to launch an Ubuntu Phone in US by the end of this year. Also, a third mobile phone manufacturer, apart from Meizu and BQ, is actively pursuing its version of an Ubuntu Phone. Excerpts from the interview:
  • About the release dates of Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition:
"....we're in February, so I think the best-case scenario is next month. What definitely is going to happen next month is that we will show the Meizu devices at MWC in the first week of March. We don't know yet for sure but we are hoping that we can sell those devices in March as well. It could be March, it could be April."
  • About the third manufacturer and the release of Ubuntu Phone in US:
"I would say before June we will probably name another manufacturer for a market that we haven't yet touched. That means it's a market where we haven't yet offered a solution - it's the US. So we hope to announce something for the US in the next six months."

Read the full interview in Sujeevan Vijayakumaran's blog. I'm more excited for the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition for now because, from the initial looks, it seems to have a superior hardware when compared to BQ's Ubuntu Phone. As an Ubuntu enthusiast, wonderful times ahead!

This tiny new feature will make you love elementary OS Freya even more

Tech Drive-in 11 Feb 2015, 8:00 am | Tech Drive-in

'Never trust a random code or command from the web, you should know what you are doing,' we've been warning our readers for a while now about the need for understanding what you are about to do by copy-pasting and executing a random command from the internet. Well, eOS Freya went one step ahead and implemented this feature right into its Terminal.

elementary OS Freya
elementray OS Freya beta 2
Freya beta 2 was released the other day and it came with a treasure trove of new features and changes. Among them, this tiny little feature went unnoticed.

Whenever you try copy-pasting a command to Terminal that asks for root access (has sudo in it), Freya will warn you with the following message: "This command is asking for Administrative access to your computer. Copying commands from the Internet can be dangerous. Be sure you understand what each part of this command does." A welcome addition in my opinion, especially when you consider the fact that a lot of elementary/Ubuntu adopters are first time Linux users.

However, I would still prefer to have a "never show this again" tickbox along with it as an option, so that experienced users are not bothered.
  • Speaking of CLI, check out this deceptively awesome Terminal Emulator: cool-old-term

Bringing the power of Ubuntu to Drones: Erle-Copter's first flight running Snappy Ubuntu Core a grand success!

Tech Drive-in 10 Feb 2015, 4:24 pm | Tech Drive-in

Snappy Ubuntu Core is a new rendition of Ubuntu with transactional updates - a minimal server image with the same libraries as today’s Ubuntu, but applications are provided through a simpler mechanism. It is fast and nimble, and is finding new takers from across the industry. Erle Robotics, makers of a wide range of robotic hardware and tools that include state-of-the-art drone technology, are using Snappy Ubuntu Core as their platform of choice.
erle copter runs snappy ubuntu core
Erle Robotics: First flight with Ubuntu Snappy CoreLinux is no alien to drone technology. Linux Foundation's Dronecode Project underlines the importance of Linux in the Internet of Things space. On the other hand, Ubuntu with its Snappy Core is already making strides. In a recent blog post, Erle Robotics have announced that they have successfully did the first flight of Erle-Copter drone which runs on Ubuntu Snappy Core. "The experience so far is amazing and Snappy Ubuntu is super lightweight", concluded the team behind the project. Check out Erle-Copter's first flight with Ubuntu Snappy Core.


Linux is conquering the enterprise space like no other. Erle Copter is a testament to that fact. Subscribe and stay updated about everything that matter to you as a Linux fan.

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