Linux, Ubuntu & Android News
5 Jun 2015, 12:55 pm | Tech Drive-in
Indic Keyboard V2.0!
Promoted by Swathanthra Malayalam Computing (SMC), a volunteer group working on software localization in India, Indic Keyboard for Android has hit version 2.0 which brings in many new features as well as Material design language. Some new features include:
- Addition of 7 new languages and several new layouts.
- New Setup wizard that makes it simpler for you to get started.
- Material design and new themes. Material white, Material dark, Holo blue and Holo white themes are available.
- Intelligent word suggestion for transliteration.
1 Jun 2015, 9:38 am | Tech Drive-in
Welcome to Project SoliGoogle I/O has always been a crucible of mesmerizing tech, and it is no different this time around as well. Take a look at Project Soli for example. They are developing a new interaction sensor using radar technology. The sensor can track sub-millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale and built into small devices and everyday objects. Though it doesn't sound as cool as it should be, one look at the promotional video, and you're sold. Project Soli looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie.
But what's even more interesting is the fact that, Ubuntu can be spotted several times being used for the development and testing of this amazing new technology. Ubuntu is becoming kind of a norm than an after-thought in the enterprise sector it seems. Even NASA and Merc was found using Ubuntu recently. Honda's ASIMO Robotics was another great find. All in all, looks like it is going to be a pretty interesting time for us, Linux fans. Stay subscribed.
27 May 2015, 5:14 pm | Tech Drive-in
AMD Powered HP Laptops running Ubuntu
HP 255 G3 Quad Core, HP 355 G3 Quad Core and HP 455 G3 Quad Core. Ebuyer, an online retailer based in UK, has launched 3 brand new Ubuntu pre-loaded laptops running the latest and greatest from Ubuntu. Spec sheet and price below:
Now, Ebuyer is not new to the seen either. They launched their first Ubuntu powered laptops back in April 2014 (here). Seems like they had a decent response from customers. Now they are looking to expand their Ubuntu portfolio by introducing new products.
The laptops are pre-installed with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. They are also 'Ubuntu Certified', and hence no compatibility issues whatsoever with the hardware components (that includes touch screen support and hiDPI monitors). Check out the products @ebuyer.
"We are extremely pleased to be launching Ubuntu on AMD-based HP devices with Ebuyer.com here in the UK,” said Maria Bonnefon, Global Client Sales Director at Canonical. “Ebuyer.com has proven itself to be a stalwart force in the UK electronics retail space and we are excited to be aligning with them on offering the Ubuntu desktop OS to local customers. We are thrilled by the growing success of this partnership and what lies ahead." [Further reading: Ubuntu Insights]
27 May 2015, 4:45 am | Tech Drive-in
Slimjet: Slimjet is a web browser based on Blink engine. It is built on top of Chromium open source project and has been very fast and stable in my experience. Some salient features worth mentioning include the following: A full-featured form filler that replaces the basic password manager in Chrome, fully customisable toolbar, facebook integration, youtube video downloader (can also convert videos to mp3), and instant photo upload with automatic image compression.
But its biggest feature is being NOT Google. It doesn't send any usage statistics to Google (like Chromium). Slimjet packages for Linux (DEB and RPM). Also available on Software Center.
Palemoon: Palemoon on the other hand is based on Mozilla Firefox's Gecko engine. Palemoon claims to have a carefully selected set of features and optimizations to maximize the browser speed, stability and user experience. And it does all this without breaking any compatibility with your favorite Firefox extensions. Being a big Firefox fan, this is currently my preferred choice. Unlike Slimjet though, Palemoon is not available in Ubuntu repositories. If you're using Ubuntu 14.04, 14.10 or Ubuntu 12.04, you can use the following PPA to install Palemoon. Simply copy-paste the following commands in Terminal.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:marian.kadanka/palemoon
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install palemoon
But if you're using the latest Ubuntu 15.04 'Vivid Vervet' instead, you are out of luck and would've to use the generic download option. It's a simple script anyway. Just download, extract and run the script. Download Palemoon here.
QupZilla: QupZilla is a free and open-source, cross-platform web browser based on Qt and Webkit. It has a simple but familiar interface with integrated AdBlock. Probably the least distinct among the ones featured here. Started out as a 'hobby' project which later became more mainstream and popular. A fun alternative nonetheless. Lots and lots of download options.
Hope you enjoyed the list. Some of the more obvious ones we missed out here include Midori, Epiphany and Chromium. Then there's Vivaldi, a relative new-comer developed by former Opera team with many power-user friendly features. Thank you.
22 May 2015, 11:31 am | Tech Drive-in
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]
18 May 2015, 7:43 am | Tech Drive-in
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.
10 Apr 2015, 12:13 am | Tech Drive-in
Dell 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 €
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.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.
25 Feb 2015, 11:24 pm | Tech Drive-in
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
21 Feb 2015, 8:13 am | Tech Drive-in
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.
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.
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.
19 Feb 2015, 7:37 pm | Tech Drive-in
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.