Linux, Ubuntu & Android News
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.
19 Feb 2015, 3:32 am | Tech Drive-in
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)
- NAM (classic FPS)
- 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)
11 Feb 2015, 2:28 pm | Tech Drive-in
US 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:
- About the third manufacturer and the release of Ubuntu Phone in US:
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!
11 Feb 2015, 8:00 am | Tech Drive-in
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!
10 Feb 2015, 4:24 pm | Tech Drive-in
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.
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