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10 Apps you must try in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

22 Apr 2016, 9:26 pm | Tech Drive-in


Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" is released. As with all LTS (long-term support) releases, this one is expected to be the most stable and reliable of them all. But we will find more about that in the review later. Let's discuss the top apps you could install after downloading and installing the latest Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.
top apps for ubuntu 16.04

10 Ubuntu Apps You Must Try after installing 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" 

The apps you use in your desktop vary from user to user. So take this list with a pinch of salt. I have tried to make it as broad based as possible, but they are still very much based on my use-case and might be biased. Let's take a look at the apps that I use the most, my personal favourites for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

My Favourite Ubuntu Apps for 16.04 LTS

unity tweak tool in ubuntu 16.04 LTS

download unity tweak tool
Unity Tweak Tool, in my opinion, is an absolute must-have for new and experienced users alike. The new updated Unity Tweak Tool brings in a lot of new features including the ability to move the Unity launcher to the bottom. You can read more on that here. The latest version is downloadable from Ubuntu Software Center.

mpv media player ubuntu
best ubuntu apps
MPV Media Player is brilliant. Ever since I discovered MPV, I've completely stopped using VLC, SMPlayer and the likes for my multimedia needs. MPV keeps its light-weight profile without compromising much on functionality. Still no match for VLC in terms of features though, half of which you will never use anyway.

Google Play Music linux desktop client
GPMDP for Ubuntu: Since I use Google Play Music a lot, GPMDP has become my go-to music streaming app for Ubuntu for a while now. For users looking for a more generic music streamer, try Nuvola. GPMDP can be downloaded from here. See also, our review of GPMDP with installation instructions.

top 10 ubuntu apps
Chrome/Chromium: Who wants Chrome when you have Firefox right? Wrong. I believe Chrome has its advantages too. After all, Chrome is now regarded as the most popular web browser across platforms. Firefox, in my opinion, still lags Chrome in some areas. Inbuilt language translation, for example, has proved very useful to me at least on several occasions. But of course Firefox has all the extensions you'll would ever need. For those still interested in Chrome, the only choice you have to make is between Chromium (the one without Google branding, available in Software Center) and the official Google Chrome for Linux (64-bit only).

steam on linux
Steam: Do you know that the number of Steam titles for Linux is now more than 1500 and counting? The list include major titles such as Left 4 Dead 2, Half Life 1 & 2, Counter Strike, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, Witcher 2, Football Manager, Shank 2, Dota 2, Don't Starve, among others. The biggest complaint people had for Linux was the non-availability of good quality games. Steam's support for Linux platform is surely helping. Download Steam.

best apps for ubuntu 16.04
top ubuntu apps
Youtube-dl: This one is a personal favourite of mine. Youtube-dl is a small commandline based tool that lets you download your favorite videos from the web (supports YouTube and many other popular video streaming sites). If all you require is to download the best quality version of a particular video, open up the Terminal and type "youtube-dl<space><link to the video>". The app is downloadable from Ubuntu Software Center. And if you don't like CLI much, these 5 apps with fancier looks and features might help.

synergy for ubuntu xenial xerus
Synergy lets you share your keyboard and mouse across multiple devices and platforms. And it works like magic. More about Synergy here. Unlike earlier though, Synergy is a paid app now, costing $10 for a lifetime license. Strongly recommend Synergy for those running multiple machines simultaneously. BUY.

top ubuntu apps xenial
Synapse: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and its default Unity launcher is impressive, but Synapse is just faster. I mostly use Synapse nowadays, but Unity launcher has improved quite a bit over the years. The difference in responsiveness is not as much pronounced as it used to be. It's a matter of personal preference now.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:synapse-core/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synapse

After executing the above commands in the Terminal, launch Synapse from the default Ubuntu launcher and it will reside in your system-tray afterwards. Just hit CTRL+Space to launch Synapse.

Shutter: A clever little screenshot tool that can handle some light editing as well. Has proved very useful over the years. Shutter is available within the default repositories. CLICK HERE.

Skype: Doesn't require much introduction, one of the most popular Internet based video and voice call service provider which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for quite a lot of money. Even though it works okay, their support for Linux platform has remained poor ever since the acquisition. Updates are too few when compared to other supported platforms. So stay away if you have a choice. Download Skype for Linux.

For more task-specific, professional-grade apps, see our following lists:
[Ubuntu App Store image via FS Icons Ubuntu, and thanks for reading!]

Unity Tweak Tool now lets you move Launcher to the Bottom (Ubuntu 16.04)

20 Apr 2016, 7:39 am | Tech Drive-in


Unity Tweak Tool has remained one of our top recommended apps for newbie Ubuntu users for a while. And they keeps on adding new features and tweaks. Lately, I found out that there is an option within Unity Tweak Tool for moving the default Launcher to the bottom in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

move launcher to the bottom ubuntu 16.04

Unity Tweak Tool Keeps Getting Better

Unity Tweak Tool has a number of cool tweaks up its sleeves for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. And this ability to move the Unity launcher to the bottom is perhaps the most useful. Many people prefer the old school way of docks, in the bottom. And if you have Unity Tweak Tool, its just a click away.

unity tweak tool in ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Like what you see here? If you are using Ubuntu 16,04 LTS, grab the latest Unity Tweak Tool from Ubuntu Software Center. No need for PPAs. Another cool utility is the "minimize on click" ability, which can be easily turned on with Unity Tweak Tool. Download directly from Ubuntu Software Center using the link below.

ClassicMenu Indicator brings back the old school cool from GNOME2 in Ubuntu 16.04

18 Apr 2016, 7:28 am | Tech Drive-in


Anyone here remember the massive community back clash when Unity was first introduced? A lot of that had to do with the replacement of GNOME2's rather straight forward menu system with a more modern Unity Launcher that we see today. ClassicMenu Indicator is a small plugin that could bring back some of that old glory.

gnome ClassicMenu Indicator ubuntu


ClassicMenu Indicator for Ubuntu 16.04

Every now and then, you stumble upon interesting little applications in Ubuntu Software Center. ClassicMenu Indicator is a lesser known plugin which I'm sure a lot of people here will appreciate. ClassicMenu Indicator was featured in USC's Editor's Pick category.  ClassicMenu Indicator
As you can see, USC has went through some serious make-over in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS about which you can read here in detail. ClassicMenu Indicator lets you experience some of that old school awesomeness of GNOME Classic in your brand new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (works on previous releases as well). ClassicMenu Indicator sits on the top menu as an indicator applet and houses GNOME2's classic menu system. Installation is just a click away. 
ClassicMenu Indicator

Meet the brand new Ubuntu Software Center in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

7 Apr 2016, 6:22 pm | Tech Drive-in


Finally! Ubuntu Software Center (USC) has always been one of *the* most bloated of all default Ubuntu apps, I couldn't even remember the last time I used USC for installing something in my desktop. But it looks like Canonical has heard us after all. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS comes with a thoroughly reworked Ubuntu Software Center. EDIT: Apparently, this is NOT the reworked Ubuntu Software Center, but just the new GNOME Software Center. I was so excited to see the "new" Software Center in 16.04 that I didn't even check it twice (haven't seen a GNOME desktop in ages either). Canonical completely scrapped the Ubuntu Software Center it seems (not that I complain).

ubuntu software center 16.04 LTS

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS: Ubuntu Software Center receives major Upgrades !

A long time ago, we did a comprehensive analysis on what needs to be done to improve the Ubuntu Software Center as the incumbent is riddled with all sorts of problems. Nothing much happened for many releases after. But USC in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is going to be very different.

The new USC has become a lot cleaner, and now acquires a very uncluttered layout. But that's not all, the new Software Center is MUCH snappier as well. The response time has improved by a whole lot which is impressive.

software center ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Since the 'Categories' section has been moved towards the bottom, we have a much cleaner layout. The whole thing became a zillion times easier to navigate because of this.

ubuntu software center 16.04 LTS
The upper section has 3 tabs, one each of All, Installed and Updates available for the apps. When compared to this, the earlier layout was an absolute nightmare. Take a look.

new ubuntu software center 16.04 LTS
The categories itself has been further cleaned up. Earlier, the USC used to arrange items in a giant ugly list format. The new tiles/grid format though is intuitive and looks much better.

What's not cool? 
A lot of things have changed, but that does not mean Ubuntu Software Center is now free of problems. In fact, most of the visual changes are only skin deep. For instance, once you click on an app, the layout is reminiscient of the old USC, except for the fact that the whole text is aligned to the middle now (see below).

software center ubuntu 16.04 LTS
And as we complained in our earlier report, there are still no app screenshots or a related apps section. But one thing is sure, the new USC is incredibly more responsive. It feels feather light and that is going to do a world of good for new Ubuntu users who are probably the primary target of latest Software Center improvements.

11 Years of Ubuntu: History Revisited (2015)

10 Mar 2016, 7:02 am | Tech Drive-in

Ubuntu has touched the lives of many among us in different ways. I can't speak for everyone here and hence I will share a few of my experiences with Ubuntu. For me, Ubuntu was the gateway to Linux and to the whole open source way of thinking. Ubuntu taught me that computers are not all about Windows OS and that there are far better alternatives than the "default" Windows desktop which you have been made to see and learn from a younger age. Lets go back in time and see how Ubuntu evolved over the years to become what it is now - a totally awesome, user-friendly and fast changing Linux based distro for 'human beings'.
A Brief History of Ubuntu
A new version of Ubuntu is released every 6 months like clockwork, and as of Oct 2015, a grand total of 23 stable releases has been delivered. Each release also has a specific code name which are made using an adjective and an animal with the same first letter (e.g. Hardy Heron, Wily Werewolf). We will do a brief overview of each one of them below. A walk back through the history of Ubuntu. Read on.

Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog)

evolution of Ubuntu
Ubuntu 4.10 codenamed "Warty Warthog" marked the beginning of a new kid in the block, the first and foremost release of Ubuntu by Canonical foundation. This new Linux distro was based on Debian and aimed at giving new users a trouble free experience of Linux. This release also crucially brought the Ubuntu shipit feature where by users could get Ubuntu installation CD's mailed to their homes for free through a simple signup. Shipit was one of those key USPs that made Ubuntu a very popular choice among youngsters in those early days. I think I still have several lying around near my old PC. And who can forget those Ubuntu branded stickers!
Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog)

Ubuntu History complete
Ubuntu 5.04 codenamed "Hoary Hedgehog" was released on 8 April 2005. From this second release onwards, massive changes started to trickle in. Ubuntu 5.04 added many new features including an update manager, upgrade notifier, readahead and grepmap, suspend, hibernate and standby support, dynamic frequency scaling for processors among many other major improvements. Ubuntu 5.04 was so ahead of its time that it even introduced support for installation from USB devices. 
Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger)

ubuntu history 2015 edition
Ubuntu 5.10 codenamed "Breezy Badger" was released on 12 October 2005, the third stable release of Ubuntu by Canonical. Ubuntu 5.10 added several new features including a graphical bootloader (Usplash), an Add/Remove Applications tool, a menu editor, an easy language selector, crucial logical volume management support, full Hewlett-Packard printer support, OEM installer support among others. More importantly, this release also brought in Launchpad integration for bug reporting and software development.
Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake)

ubuntu history
Ubuntu 6.06 LTS codenamed "Dapper Drake" was released on 1 June 2006. It was also the first Long Term Support(LTS) release. This was also the only time when the Ubuntu release cycle was slightly pushed forward by 2 months owing to all sorts of delays. Many new features were introduced including having the Live CD and Install CD merged onto one disc, a graphical installer on Live CD, a network manager for easy switching of multiple wired and wireless connections, implementation of Humanlooks theme among other improvements.
Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft)

walk back through the history of ubuntu
Ubuntu 6.10 codenamed "Edgy Eft" was released on 26 October 2006, Canonical's fifth Ubuntu release. Tomboy, F-Spot became new defaults. Human theme also went through heavy modifications.
Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn)

travel through the history of ubuntu
Ubuntu 7.04 codenamed "Feisty Fawn" was released on 19 April 2007. This release had a very special significance for me. Feisty was my first real Linux experience. I was a complete noob to the whole Linux way of life then and barely installed Ubuntu in my laptop with the help of friends and Ubuntu Forums. And to be frank, the primary reason for me trying out Ubuntu was Compiz and all the bling that came with it. In those clogged XP-Vista days, Compiz was (and it still is in many ways) a breath of fresh air.

Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon)

ubuntu history
Ubuntu 7.10 codenamed "Gutsy Gibbon" released on 18 October 2007. Ubuntu 7.10 introduced Compiz Fusion as a default feature. This seventh release of Ubuntu also marked the introduction of full NTFS support.
Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron)

history of ubuntu
Ubuntu 8.04 codenamed "Hardy Heron" was released on 24 April 2008. This was the second LTS version of Ubuntu. In my opinion, this release had one of the best designed Ubuntu wallpaper as default. Brasero disc burner and transmission bit torrent client were introduced during this release. Controversial Pulse Audio became the new default system sound server. This release also introduced Wubi installer using which you can install Ubuntu inside Windows without repartitioning the disk.
Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)

ubuntu history revisited
Ubuntu 8.10 codenamed Intrepid Ibex was released on 30 October 2008. It was the ninth Ubuntu release and it was also one of my favorite releases. This release introduced useful Ubuntu Live USB creator application. Guest session functionality was also introduced during Intrepid Ibex release.
Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)

ubuntu history
Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" was released on 23 April 2009. This release marked the first time that all of Ubuntu's core development moved to the Bazaar distributed revision control system which is designed to make it easier for anyone to contribute to free and open source software projects. Faster boot time was another major achievement of this release.

Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)

evolution of ubuntu
Ubuntu 9.10 codenamed "Karmic Koala" released on 29 October 2009. From this release onwards, Ubuntu slowly started to shift gears. A slew of changes started to flood Ubuntu. During Ubuntu Karmic's release cycle, Canonical introduced the One Hundred Paper Cuts project, focusing developers to fix minor usability issues. This was a major move and it helped bring a lot of polish for Ubuntu in the latter releases. This release also introduced Ubuntu Software Center.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx)

a brief history of ubuntu
Ubuntu 10.04 codenamed "Lucid Lynx" was released on 29 April 2010. Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" is my favorite release to date and it brought about the biggest amount of changes ever. Ubuntu had a complete branding makeover during this release cycle. Even the brown theme was ditched for the first time for a more bright and pleasant looking "Light" inspired theme. Changes Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx went through.

Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)

ubuntu history
Ubuntu 10.10 codenamed "Maverick Meerkat" was released on 10 October 2010 (10.10.10) at around 10:10 UTC. Close to the heels of Ubuntu Lucid release, Ubuntu Maverick was also packed with new features and improvements. Ubuntu Software Center became one of the applications that received maximum amount of attention. Canonical's attention to detail started showing up big time during Ubuntu 10.10 release cycle.

Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal)

11 years of ubuntu history
Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" was perhaps *the* most controversial Ubuntu release ever. Canonical introduced Unity shell with Ubuntu 11.04 which created quite a furore among its vast user base. Unity was Ubuntu's answer to GNOME 3.0's GNOME Shell desktop, though Ubuntu 11.04 was still based on previous GNOME 2.x.

Reactions from users was not really what Canonical would have hoped for. Unity was far less customisable when compared to earlier versions and that was simply unacceptable to many long-term Ubuntu users.

Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

history of ubuntu
Ubuntu 11.10 codenamed "Oneiric Ocelot" was the first GNOME 3.0 based Ubuntu release. Oneiric did not brought in sweeping changes like its predecessor did. But it does brought in a lot of polish to the controversial Unity UI. LightDM replaced GDM as Ubuntu's new default login screen. Classic Gnome Desktop was completely ditched in favor of Unity 2D during this release cycle. A quick screenshot tour of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot.

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin)

ubuntu history
Quicklists was introduced as a default feature for the very first time. Apart from the usual three Unity lenses (Applications, Files and Music), there is an additional Video lens too which lets you select and play videos from a variety of sources ranging from your local collection to YouTube Movies, BBC iPlayer and TED Talks to name a few. HUD became fully operational. Default launcher behavior is set to "always visible" instead of "dodge windows". Rhythmbox is back again replacing Banshee as the default music player. Changes in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Ubuntu 12.10 (Quanty Quetzal)

ubuntu history
Like most previous *.10 releases, Ubuntu 12.10 became the testing ground for a barrage of new features. We listed a grand total of 23 improvements/changes in Ubuntu 12.10, which is pretty staggering at any count. Improvements to LightDM based login screen, remote login facility, Unity Dash price ribbons, Local Apps filter, Launcher improvements, a new dedicated Ubuntu One Music app, and more privacy with the introduction of ON/OFF switch for online search results withing Unity Dash. Ubuntu 12.10 had its share of controversies also. For example, the introduction of Amazon shopping lens as default riled up many.

Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail)


Though Unity was improved leaps and bounds by now, it lacked the polishness and finesse it deserved. With the help of recently joined designer known for his gorgeous works including Faenza theme, Ubuntu 13.04 look and feel got some much needed attention. The new shutdown menu and core app icons were a class apart. The new "spinning" Unity dash icon and Software Updater icon set benchmarks in branding. Also, Wubi installer was dropped during this release owing to compatibility issues with Windows 8. And more importantly, it was decided that non-LTS Ubuntu releases will see their support periods halved (9 months instead of 18) from Ubuntu 13.04 onwards. Go through the list of visual changes in Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)

history of ubuntu
With Unity maturing, updates became more minor in nature. There were talks about replacing Firefox with Chromium as default web browser for Ubuntu, but it never materialised. There were also talks about replacing aging X11 with XMir display server and then go on to completely replace X session by Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. But XMir still remains a work in progress.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr)

ubuntu complete history
Unity 7 was really starting to feel more "middle-aged" with every passing release. More incremental updates than sweeping changes showed signs of maturity. But even then, the ability to turn off the global menu and the arrival of Local Integrated Menus were welcome additions. Click to Minimize became available through a CCSM update. X11 was retained and XMir adoption pushed even further. Ubuntu 14.04 LTS was a largely uneventful LTS release, which can be a good thing in my opinion. Everything just worked.

Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn)

11 years of ubuntu history
Ubuntu 14.10 was supposed to be rock solid released release with incremental updates. And it was, for many. But for me, this one was a pretty eventful release. Weirdly, I faced a lot of teething issues with Ubuntu 14.10 so much that I had to replace Ubuntu with elementary OS as my daily work horse for the first time (not that I'm complaining). Netflix started working out of the box, which was a big positive. This was also the release cycle during which Canonical seriously devoted resources into its mobile platform and work on Unity 8 was acquiring some serious momentum. Here's our compilation of things to do after installing Ubuntu 14.10.

Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet)

ubuntu history revisited
With the arrival of Ubuntu 15.04, things were back to normal for me. Ubuntu was working just as good as ever, thanks to "Vivid Vervet". This was also the release when Upstart was finally dropped in favour of systemd. There were also improvements to Intel Haswell and AMD Radeon graphics performance. Visual changes? Not so much. Oh and don't forget to read our top things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04 compilation.

Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf)

history of ubuntu desktop
Ubuntu 15.10 was released just yesterday without much fanfare. With works on Unity 8 improving at a rapid pace, Canonical is finding less and less reasons to spend time on adding features and functionalities on Unity 7 based Ubuntu 15.10 "Wily Werewolf". Ubuntu Touch OS meant for mobile platforms got a lot of attention, yet again, which is now capable of receiving instant over the air updates. Mir display server was also supposed to be there as default, but its release has been pushed further. Visually, the biggest change is the removal of disappearing window edge scrollbars (something I really liked) in favour of the upstream GNOME scrollbars. Underneath, there are not much changes, except for the updated Kernel. Very stable and reliable OS though, have been using it since the arrival of first beta. Download here.

Next in Line: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus"

This could turn out to be the most important Ubuntu release since the arrival of Unity, if not forever. To be released on 21 April 2016, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is expected to include Unity 8 running natively on Mir. I can't wait!

[Thanks to Wikipedia for screenshots of earlier versions of Ubuntu. And thank you for reading.]

The Strangest, Most Unique Linux Distros

10 Mar 2016, 7:02 am | Tech Drive-in


From the most consumer focused distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint or elementary OS to the more obscure, minimal and enterprise focused ones such as Slackware, Arch Linux or RHEL, I thought I've seen them all. Couldn't have been any further from the truth. Linux eco-system is very diverse. There's one for everyone. Let's discuss the weird and wacky world of niche Linux distros that represents the true diversity of open platforms.

strangest linux distros
Puppy Linux: An operating system which is about 1/10th the size of an average DVD quality movie rip, that's Puppy Linux for you. The OS is just 100 MB in size! And it can run from RAM making it unusually fast even in older PCs. You can even remove the boot medium after the operating system has started! Can it get any better than that? System requirements are bare minimum, most hardware are automatically detected, and it comes loaded with software catering to your basic needs. Experience Puppy Linux.

suicide linux
Suicide Linux: Did the name scare you? Well it should. 'Any time - any time - you type any remotely incorrect command, the interpreter creatively resolves it into rm -rf / and wipes your hard drive'. Simple as that. I really want to know the ones who are confident enough to risk their production machines with Suicide Linux. Warning: DO NOT try this on production machines! The whole thing is available in a neat DEB package if you're interested.

top 10 strangest linux distros
PapyrOS: "Strange" in a good way. PapyrOS is trying to adapt the material design language of Android into their brand new Linux distribution. Though the project is in early stages, it already looks very promising. The project page says the OS is 80% complete and one can expect the first Alpha release anytime soon. We did a small write up on PapyrOS when it was announced and by the looks of it, PapyrOS might even become a trend-setter of sorts. Follow the project on Google+ and contribute via BountySource if you're interested.

10 most unique linux distros
Qubes OSQubes is an open-source operating system designed to provide strong security using a Security by Compartmentalization approach. The assumption is that there can be no perfect, bug-free desktop environment. And by implementing a 'Security by Isolation' approach, Qubes Linux intends to remedy that. Qubes is based on Xen, the X Window System, and Linux, and can run most Linux applications and supports most Linux drivers. Qubes was selected as a finalist of Access Innovation Prize 2014 for Endpoint Security Solution.

top10 linux distros
Ubuntu Satanic EditionUbuntu SE is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. "It brings together the best of free software and free metal music" in one comprehensive package consisting of themes, wallpapers, and even some heavy-metal music sourced from talented new artists. Though the project doesn't look actively developed anymore, Ubuntu Satanic Edition is strange in every sense of that word. Ubuntu SE (Slightly NSFW).

10 strange linux distros
Tiny Core Linux: Puppy Linux not small enough? Try this. Tiny Core Linux is a 12 MB graphical Linux desktop! Yep, you read it right. One major caveat: It is not a complete desktop nor is all hardware completely supported. It represents only the core needed to boot into a very minimal X desktop typically with wired internet access. There is even a version without the GUI called Micro Core Linux which is just 9MB in size. Tiny Core Linux folks.

top 10 unique and special linux distros
NixOS: A very experienced-user focused Linux distribution with a unique approach to package and configuration management. In other distributions, actions such as upgrades can be dangerous. Upgrading a package can cause other packages to break, upgrading an entire system is much less reliable than reinstalling from scratch. And top of all that you can't safely test what the results of a configuration change will be, there's no "Undo" so to speak. In NixOS, the entire operating system is built by the Nix package manager from a description in a purely functional build language. This means that building a new configuration cannot overwrite previous configurations. Most of the other features follow this pattern. Nix stores all packages in isolation from each other. More about NixOS.

strangest linux distros
GoboLinux: This is another very unique Linux distro. What makes GoboLinux so different from the rest is its unique re-arrangement of the filesystem. It has its own subdirectory tree, where all of its files and programs are stored. GoboLinux does not have a package database because the filesystem is its database. In some ways, this sort of arrangement is similar to that seen in OS X. Get GoboLinux.

strangest linux distros
Hannah Montana Linux: Here is a Linux distro based on Kubuntu with a Hannah Montana themed boot screen, KDM, icon set, ksplash, plasma, color scheme, and wallpapers (I'm so sorry). Link. Project not active anymore.

RLSD LinuxAn extremely minimalistic, small, lightweight and security-hardened, text-based operating system built on Linux. "It's a unique distribution that provides a selection of console applications and home-grown security features which might appeal to hackers," developers claim. RLSD Linux.

Did we miss anything even stranger? Let us know.

GPMDP: A Brilliant New Google Play Music Desktop Client for Linux

9 Mar 2016, 2:36 am | Tech Drive-in


Google Play Music Desktop Player (GPMDP) is a brilliant new open-source desktop based client for Google Play Music. GPMDP is cross-platform and has just recently released 32 and 64 bit builds for Linux.

Google Play Music client Ubuntu

Google Play Music Desktop Player for Ubuntu 

How about a desktop based client for Google Play Music that is less resource hungry than its web counterpart? Well, that's GPMDP in a nutshell. The player is HTML5 based and requires no Flash. There is Last.fm integration and there is even a neat implementation of hands-free voice controls (experimental).

Google Play Music linux desktop client
Having been playing around with this cool little player for the better part of the day, I have to say I'm impressed! GPMDP is seriously lightweight as advertised and it frees up your browser resources big time. And it is definitely more faster and responsive than my browser tabs. And like a lot of other native Linux apps, it minimizes to tray by default when you hit the close button. The mini player also works just great.

Google Play Music client for Linux
Another big plus is the media key support. From what I have tested, all my media keys are working without any need for tinkering. Additionally you can assign hot keys for specific actions in the GPMDP settings. Last.fm scrobbling though, hasn't worked properly yet in my installation. All in all, if you are a Google Play Music user, I would strongly recommend GPMDP over Nuvola Player any day.

As we mentioned earlier, the app is cross platform and supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (32/64 bit builds) platforms. Download links hereGoogle Play Music Desktop Player. If you are into more traditional music players, here is a list of Linux's most good-looking music players. Do share if you like and thanks for reading.

cool-retro-term terminal emulator mimics the looks of old CRT screens (Ubuntu PPA)

5 Mar 2016, 4:26 am | Tech Drive-in

Remember cool-old-term? The gorgeous Terminal Emulator has a name change and is now called cool-retro-term. And I think 'retro' fits the description better, a welcome change. More importantly, cool-retro-term now comes in a nicely packaged Ubuntu PPA making the whole installation process a breeze.

cool retro term ubuntu ppa

Install cool-retro-term in Ubuntu (PPA available for 15.10, 14.04 LTS)

Remember all the hoops you had to jump through just to install cool-retro-term (previously called cool-old-term) in your Ubuntu? Well, that's all history now. The new releases of cool-retro-term Terminal Emulator comes with its own Ubuntu repositories with support for Ubuntu 15.10, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and limited support for Ubuntu 15.04.

For those who didn't read our one year old post about cool-retro-term Terminal Emulator, here are a few things you should know. cool-retro-term is a Terminal Emulator that mimics the look and feel of old-school CRT monitors. First released more than a year and a half ago, cool-retro-term had gone through several iterations and is now ever more stable and lightweight. Highlight though is the availability of new stable releases via PPA for Ubuntu based distros. Here's how you install cool-retro-term in Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily) and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bugs-launchpad-net-falkensweb/cool-retro-term
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cool-retro-term

The above steps should work with Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic) and Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid) as well. If you like the project and wish to contribute, head over to Swordfish Labs. Thanks for reading.

Struggling to stay focused on your Work? This App Might Help [Ubuntu PPA]

2 Mar 2016, 10:05 pm | Tech Drive-in

Ambient Noise is a very clean implementation of a simple idea that will help you stay focused on your work while on the computer. And it integrates well with your Ubuntu sound menu. Care to learn more? Read on.


ambient noise ubuntu ppa

Ambient Noise for Ubuntu PPA (Ubuntu 15.10, Ubuntu 15.04, Ubuntu 14.04)

Listen to the sounds of nature and relax yourself. Ambient Noise is a no non-sense application that is capable of playing a wide variety of sounds from nature non-stop and without much fuss. The idea behind Ambient Noise might be simple, but such is the nature of extremely popular apps, that can also have a profound impact on your work habits. Selection of sounds include rain, storm, coffee shop, forest, night, wind and fire.

Installation is super easy. Just do the following in Terminal.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:costales/anoise
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install anoise

After completing the installation, launch the Ambient Noise application from Ubuntu menu. That's it. The app sits nicely in your sound menu and you can skip, pause and play through the preloaded sounds from the Unity sound menu. Ambient Noise works in offline mode as well.

relaxing music app ubuntu
And guess what, you can download even more sounds from the ANoise Preferences window. I have to concede that I'm enjoying this app more than any other supposedly relaxing music I've in my playlist. And my favorites are rain and storm modes. If you want to support the project, do visit ANoise homepage. Thanks for reading. 

Nuvola Player 3.0.1 Released: Install for Ubuntu 15.10. 15.04, 14.04

22 Feb 2016, 8:31 pm | Tech Drive-in


Nuvola Player is brilliant if you are hooked to online music streaming services such as Spotify, Google Music, Soundcloud, or Amazon Cloud Player. A new version was released recently, and here is how you install Nuvola 3.0.1 in Ubuntu 15.10, 15.04 and 14.04 LTS.

nuvola player ubuntu

Nuvola Music Player 3.0.1 Launched

Nuvola Player has always been one of our favorite music players for Linux. It has his limitations, yes, but with more people preferring music streaming over conventional music players, Nuvola will continue to gain popularity. Since we first featured Nuvola few years ago, the supported services cover almost all popular music streaming platforms and then some. The current list include Amazon Cloud Player, Google Play Music. Spotify, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Bandacamp, Deezer, among others.

Nuvola Player has a new installer that simplifies the installation process by a whole lot. The Tiliado repositories installer supports Ubuntu 15.10, Ubuntu 15.04 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS versions.
After downloading, the latest version of Tiliado repositories can now be installed by opening it in Ubuntu Software Center. Double click and wait, USC loading time is pretty pathetic. Click the Install button and enter the password when asked. That's about it. Now, search and launch the Tiliado Repositories installer from Unity launcher.

install nuvola player in ubuntu
install nuvola music player in ubuntu
Like in the screenshot above, choose your Ubuntu version and 'Continue'. For more up-to-date access to releases, you can become a Patron supporter. More Nuvola Player download options and details here.

Tech Drive-in

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