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Linux, Ubuntu & Android News


City of Bern Awards Switzerland's Largest Open Source Contract for its Schools

31 May 2018, 9:58 am | Tech Drive-in

In another major win in a span of weeks for the proponents of open source solutions in EU, Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is pushing ahead with its plans to adopt open source tools as its software of choice for all its public schools. If all goes well, some 10,000 students in Switzerland schools could soon start getting their training using an IT infrastructure that is largely open source.

Switzerland's Largest Open Source deal

Over 10,000 Students to Benefit

Switzerland's largest open-source deal introduces a brand new IT infrastructure for the public schools of its capital city. The package includes Colabora Cloud Office, an online version of LibreOffice which is to be hosted in the City of Bern's data center, as its core component. Nextcloud, Kolab, Moodle, and Mahara are the other prominent open source tools included in the package. The contract is worth CHF 13.7 million over 6 years.

In an interview given to 'Der Bund', one of Switzerland's oldest news publications, open-source advocate Matthias Stürmer, EPP city council and IT expert, told that this is probably the largest ever open-source deal in Switzerland.

Many European countries are clamoring to adopt open source solutions for their cities and schools. From the recent German Federal Information Technology Centre's (ITZBund) selection of Nexcloud as their cloud solutions partner, to city of Turin's adoption of Ubuntu, to Italian Military's LibreOffice migration, Europe's recognition of open source solutions as a legitimate alternative is gaining ground.

Ironically enough, most of these software will run on proprietary iOS platform, as the clients given to students will be all Apple iPads. But hey, it had to start somewhere. When Europe's richest countries adopt open source, others will surely take notice. Stay tuned for updates. [via inside-channels.ch]

Germany says No to Public Cloud, Chooses Nextcloud's Open Source Solution

20 Apr 2018, 2:56 pm | Tech Drive-in

Germany's Federal Information Technology Centre (ITZBund) opts for an on-premise cloud solution which unlike those fancy Public cloud solutions, is completely private and under its direct control.


Germany's Open Source Migration

Given the recent privacy mishaps at some of biggest public cloud solution providers on the planet, it is only natural that government agencies across the world are opting for solutions that could provide users with more privacy and security. If the recent Facebook - Cambridge Analytica debacle is any indication, data vulnerability has become a serious national security concern for all countries. 

In light of these developments, government of Germany's IT service provider, ITZBund, has chosen Nextcloud as their cloud solutions partner. Nextcloud is a free and open source cloud solutions company based out of Europe that lets you to install and run its software on your private server. ITZBund has been running a pilot since 2016 with some 5000 users on Nextcloud's platform.
"Nextcloud is pleased to announce that the German Federal Information Technology Center (ITZBund) has chosen Nextcloud as their solution for efficient and secure file sharing and collaboration in a public tender. Nextcloud is operated by the ITZBund, the central IT service provider of the federal government, and made available to around 300,000 users. ITZBund uses a Nextcloud Enterprise Subscription to gain access to operational, scaling and security expertise of Nextcloud GmbH as well as long-term support of the software."
ITZBund employs about 2,700 people that include IT specialists, engineers and network and security professionals. After the successful completion of the pilot, a public tender was floated by ITZBund which eventually selected Nextcloud as their preferred partner. Nextcloud scored high on security requirements and scalability, which it addressed through its unique Apps concept.

LG Makes its webOS Operating System Open Source, Again!

15 Apr 2018, 12:58 pm | Tech Drive-in

Not many might remember HP's capable webOS. The open source webOS operating system was HP's answer to Android and iOS platforms. It was slick and very user-friendly from the start, some even considered it a better alternative to Android for Tablets at the time. But like many other smaller players, HP's webOS just couldn't find enough takers, and the project was abruptly ended and sold off of to LG.


The Open Source LG webOS

Under the 2013 agreement with HP Inc., LG Electronics had unlimited access to all webOS related documentation and source code. When LG took the project underground, webOS was still an open-source project.

After many years of development, webOS is now LG's platform of choice for its Smart TV division. It is generally considered as one of the better sorted Smart TV user interfaces. LG is now ready to take the platform beyond Smart TVs. LG has developed an open source version of its platform, called webOS Open Source Edition, now available to the public at webosose.org.

Dr. I.P. Park, CTO at LG Electronics had this to say, "webOS has come a long way since then and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs to join the very exclusive group of operating systems that have been successfully commercialization at such a mass level. As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen."

By open sourcing webOS, it looks like LG is gunning for Samsung's Tizen OS, which is also open source and built on top of Linux. In our opinion, device manufacturers preferring open platforms (like Automotive Grade Linux), over Android or iOS is a welcome development for the long-term health of the industry in general.

Amazon Embraces Open Source to Compete with Google Assistant on Cars

12 Mar 2018, 6:50 pm | Tech Drive-in

Remember Automotive Grade Linux that we discussed earlier in detail? Well, Amazon.com is trying to make sure its speech-recognition/voice-assistant tech, Alexa, is compatible with AGL.


Amazon wants its Alexa Voice Assistant Compatible with AGL
Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is a project hosted by Linux foundation which aims to build a truly open, Linux based platform and framework for automotive applications. Currently, the market is utterly dominated by Android Auto and Apple Car Play. AGL, when it debuts in 2018 Toyota Camry, will be a more neutral, open, and inter-operable alternative to Android Auto and iOS CarPlay.

Amazon on the other hand is working with Nuance Communications Inc. and Voicebox Technologies Corp. to write code that makes AGL's in-vehicle apps compatible with several voice-assistant technologies (and not just Amazon's Alexa), eliminating the need for developers to make multiple versions. Given the fact that most automakers are also trying to diversify away from Google and Apple's restrictive eco-systems, this could eventually turn into a major win for all parties involved, including consumers.

Currently, Automotive Grade Linux has wide backing from major tech companies and auto giants such as Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Subaru and the likes. Toyota is a platinum sponsor and has already unveiled solid plans for using Automotive Grade Linux's platform in its cars starting with hugely popular Toyota Camry model in 2018. 

"With Alexa integrated into AGL, the process of building voice experiences is dramatically simplified for developers," John Scumniotales, director of products at Amazon Alexa Automotive, said in an email to Bloomberg. "This would ultimately speed the rollout of voice services into cars. AGL has an opportunity to scale voice experiences across the automotive industry." Read more on this here.

Toyota opts for Linux based Infotainment System over Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

7 Jul 2017, 12:04 pm | Tech Drive-in

Not many must have heard about the existence of something called Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a project hosted by Linux foundation to build a Linux based platform and framework for automotive applications. The project got kick-started back in 2012 and the founding members included marque automotive players such as Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, and Toyota, along with tech giants such as Fujitsu, HARMAN, NVIDIA, Renesas, Samsung and Texas Instruments (TI). Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) platform will debut in 2018 Toyota Camry.

AGL linux infotainment toyota camry

Toyota's AGL Adoption in 2018 Toyota Camry

Automotive Grade Linux or AGL is a Linux based open source car infotainment platform that has been in the works for the last several years. As a Linux Foundation backed project, AGL now boasts broad based support from auto majors across the world. Along with the founding members like JLR and Toyota, car manufacturing giants like Daimler AG, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru etc. are also paying members of the AGL project today.

The 2018 Toyota Camry will be the first car to utilize AGL. According to Dan Cauchy of AGL, "Toyota is an early adopter of Linux and open-source and has been an active member and contributor to AGL for several years. They have been a driving force behind the development of the AGL infotainment platform, and we are excited to see the traction that it’s gaining across the industry."

Auto makers have generally been clumsy when it comes to integrating and updating the latest/fastest tech to their in-house infotainment systems. And more and more players are going the easier route by simple giving customers the choice of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay or both. AGL can prove be a good compromise package by which the auto makers doesn't have to cede completely to Silicon Valley giants.

linux infotainment toyota
"The flexibility of the AGL platform allows us to quickly roll-out Toyota’s infotainment system across our vehicle line-up, providing customers with greater connectivity and new functionalities at a pace that is more consistent with consumer technology," said Keiji Yamamoto, Executive Vice President, Connected Company of Toyota Motor Corporation, in a press release. "Adopting an open source development approach has enabled us to focus resources on developing innovative new features and bringing them to market faster."

On a related note, here are two other obscure open source projects you've probably never heard about: 1. lowRISC: Open source, Linux capable SoC, 2. Udacity: An open source self-driving car project.



Qtox: Open Source and Fully Secure Skype Replacement for Linux

15 Mar 2017, 10:01 am | Tech Drive-in


Long years ago, we've talked about a Skype alternative called Tox which was still in its early developmental stages. Tox was supposed to become the anti-thesis of Skype by being a fully open-source video and voice chat client that placed user privacy and security at its center. Well, guess what, there are now fully active and well-maintained chat clients that are built on top of Tox protocol. qTox is one of them.

qtox skype replacement for linux
qTox: Free and Open Source Skype Replacement for LinuxTox is a peer-to-peer instant-messaging and video-calling protocol that offers end-to-end encryption. There are two popular clients built on top of Tox, namely uTox and qTox. Here we will discuss about qTox, the more feature-rich and configurable of the two.

qtox skype alternative ubuntu
The work flow of qTox video chat client is pretty straight forward. You just need to share you unique Tox ID (the one you get after you sign up) with the person you want to chat. Friend requests pop-up in your screen once it is sent and you can either accept or reject it. qTox is fully featured with support for video/voice chat (picture-in-picture mode for video calls), sending/receiving files, screen-sharing etc. By default, video chat is disabled for security reasons and you need to enable it first in qTox-Settings when you want to video chat.

qtox skype alternative
Installing qTox in Ubuntu 16.10:
Just copy-paste the following commands into Terminal one by one (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+T).

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/antonbatenev:/tox/xUbuntu_16.10/ /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qtox.list"
wget -nv http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:antonbatenev:tox/xUbuntu_16.10/Release.key -O Release.key
sudo apt-key add - < Release.key
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install qtox

The first line adds the repository while the second and third line download the key for authentication. Then you update the repositories and install the app, which is 'qtox' here.

Installing qTox in Ubuntu 16.04:
Installing qTox in Ubuntu 16.04.2 "Xenial Xerus", being the latest LTS release. Same as before, copy-paste the following lines to your Terminal.

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/antonbatenev:/tox/xUbuntu_16.04/ /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qtox.list"
wget -nv http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:antonbatenev:tox/xUbuntu_16.04/Release.key -O Release.key
sudo apt-key add - < Release.key
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install qtox

Done! After installing you can quick-launch the app from Ubuntu launcher, just search for 'qTox'. I have installed the app in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 16.10 and Windows 10. The video and voice chat worked across platforms. Tried screen-sharing too with Windows 10, but the experience could have been a lot smoother. But as I understand, qTox is still in active development. So you can expect improvements to happen over time.

qTox is cross-platform and is available on a wide range of OSes. For downloading qTox for your favourite Linux OS (Arch, CentOS, Fedora, openSUSE supported), follow this link. For Windows and OSX installers, see here. qTox is still very much on the bleeding-edge side of things and we strongly recommend adequate testing before using it on production machines. Thank you for reading. Related: Meet the new Skype for Linux Beta.

New Skype for Linux Beta Supports Video Calls Across Platforms, View Shared Screens

8 Mar 2017, 7:05 pm | Tech Drive-in


After long years of inactivity, a new Skype for Linux was released about an year ago. Though the version of Skype released for Linux was in its early alpha and had many critical features missing, it was reassuring to know that Microsoft has not abandoned Skype for Linux platform entirely after acquiring it. Microsoft recently released the beta version of Skype for Linux platform giving a major fillip to many missing features.

new skype for linux ubuntu

New Skype for Linux Beta: What works, what doesn't?

So, the new Skype for Linux beta is here. It is not a finished product yet and has its limitations. But unlike the earlier alpha release, the Skype beta comes loaded with all the basic functionalities one expects from a video/voice chat software. It supports one to one video calls from Linux to other platforms and vice versa. Skype credits is also enabled by which you can make calls to mobiles and landlines.  
Screen sharing though is still tricky. Apparently, as a Linux user, you can view shared screens from other Skype desktop clients (Windows and Mac), but you cannot share your screen with other platforms, which is a major letdown for business users. Deeper integration with Ubuntu's Unity launcher is another plus. For example, Skype beta now shows the number of unread conversations on the Unity launcher. 

Linux & VR seemed so far fetched, not anymore, Valve launches SteamVR on Linux!

27 Feb 2017, 1:37 pm | Tech Drive-in


The launch of Steam platform for Linux in 2012 was a watershed moment for Linux desktop market. For gamers struggling with their dual boot setups, this was as good as it gets, or so we thought. Not even the biggest optimists amongst us expected such a huge turn around with Valve releasing games at an unprecedented rate (more than 100 games per month) on its Steam for Linux platform since its first release. But Valve is not ready to slowdown with its Linux ambitions as yet. Valve has just opened its SteamVR platform for Linux! Developers will now be able to create Linux content for HTC Vive VR headset and other VR hardware.


SteamVR Support for Linux Launched

Valve has just launched its SteamVR for Linux platform and developers can now start creating content for the same. The program is still in beta, meaning developers must use NVIDIA developer beta driver built on "Vulcan", dubbed as the "next generation OpenGL initiative". As a developer, you are also limited to access only "direct" mode which means you cannot display images on the headset and the display at the same time. There is also limited support for AMD based cards but Intel graphics card isn't supported.
We're now live with a developer build of SteamVR for Linux! https://t.co/UbsEC01eDh— Pierre-Loup Griffais (@Plagman2) February 21, 2017
The importance of Linux platform in Valve's scheme of things was pretty evident when Gabe Newell himself clarified that Valve builds and runs all of its source code, animation and assets on Linux. With the latest addition of SteamVR support, Valve is doubling down on its commitment towards its Linux based SteamOS platform. 

(How to) Connect Ubuntu to Android's WiFi via Bluetooth Tethering

24 Feb 2017, 5:48 pm | Tech Drive-in


One of my laptops started acting weird recently. For some reason the laptop's wifi signal became so weak that it stopped connecting to my home wifi unless the router is very close. The obvious answer was to use my Android Phone's hotspot. But 4G data doesn't come cheap. As I found out later, you can also turn your Android phone into a wifi repeater or wifi extender by pairing Ubuntu and Android via Bluetooth. Here's how you do it.

bluetooth tethering ubuntu to android

Android to Ubuntu Bluetooth Tethering (How to)

  • Make sure Bluetooth is turned ON and visible on both the devices.
  • In Ubuntu, go to Bluetooth settings and hit the '+' button on the bottom to pair your phone.
wifi extender android
  • Select your device and hit 'Next'.
android to ubuntu via bluetooth wifi
  • A pop-up will appear in your Android phone asking to Pair the devices. Also hit the 'Matches' button above.
  • After successful pairing, you can now proceed to share your phone's wifi internet with your Ubuntu desktop. 
  • Start by enabling "Bluetooth tethering" in your Android phone by going to Settings - Wireless & networks - Tethering & portable hotspot - Bluetooth tethering.
android bluetooth tethering in ubuntu
  • Finally, in your Ubuntu, launch Network Connections from wifi dropdown - Edit Connections. You will see a new Bluetooth submenu which you have to double-click and enable. Now, simply use the wifi dropdown menu from the top panel in Ubuntu to select your Phone's network. That's it. 
  • One problem though, connections via Bluetooth tethering will be significantly slower than your original wifi speeds. Still usable, and can be reliable last ditch method to extend your wifi. 

Meet Soundnode: An Opensource Soundcloud App for Linux desktop

21 Feb 2017, 10:22 pm | Tech Drive-in


soundnode soundcloud for ubuntu linux
Soundnode is a pretty great Soundcloud client for Linux and Ubuntu. If you frequent soundcloud.com for your music needs, this stand alone app could be of real use. Another app you don't want to miss in the music genre is GPMDP aka Google Play Music Desktop Player, which is also open source like Soundnode. Both are cross-platform as well, different versions for Windows, OS X and Linux are available.

Installing Soundnode in Ubuntu 16.10
Installing Soundnode in most Debian based distros is a straight forward affair. Just copy-paste the following in Terminal. Test machine was running the latest Ubuntu 16.10 "Yaketty Yak".

curl -s https://packagecloud.io/install/repositories/JonasGroeger/soundnode/script.deb.sh | sudo bash
sudo apt-get install soundnode

Done. Hope the installation went smooth. More Linux download options on the app homepage.

soundcloud for ubuntu
Thanks to an anonymous tip from a follower. Strangely enough, even though I have had zero issues installing the app and launching it afterwards, I'm having some trouble playing music, please let me know in the comments if you face similar sort of problems. Also fyi, unlike Soundcloud, Google Play Music is a subscription only service. EDIT: Apparently, there is an API limit, probably the source of my issues with playing music on Soundnode.

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