Linux, Ubuntu & Android News
23 Jul 2015, 3:44 pm | Tech Drive-in
System76 removes Adobe Flash from all its Products
Back in the day, Steve Jobs received a lot of flak for not including Flash in his flagship product, the iPhone. But in 2015, tables have turned. Adobe Flash is no more the Internet's darling. In fact, it has become that ugly product that nobody wants to ship, yet they have to for reasons we all know. But that is changing.
"In 2007, System76 was granted a license from Adobe to pre-install Flash on all our laptops and desktops. Back then, Flash was the only way to unlock all the wonders of the Internet. In terms of making a great first impression, especially those new to Ubuntu, this was an important detail," the company said in a blog post the other day.
"So from 2007 till today, we’ve pre-installed Flash in our golden images. But starting tomorrow, we wont be," they added. Tomorrow as in July 15th, 2015. Slowly but surely, the story of Adobe Flash is coming to its glorious end. If you're using Ubuntu or its derivatives, you might want to try removing Flash from your computer and see for yourself how good the Internet works without Flash already. Execute this command in Terminal.
sudo apt-get purge flashplugin-installerIn today's Internet, Flash is fast becoming a liability. You will see that for yourself once you remove it. But if you didn't liked the result, you can always reinstall the flashplugin for Ubuntu.
sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installerHowever, if you truly need Flash, you’ll probably be safest using Google Chrome, which includes an embedded Flash implementation that is sandboxed in a way that should mitigate the inevitable Flash zero-days to come. But still not a fool-proof solution since one Flash zero-day has already manged to punch through the sandbox, so it’s still prudent to avoid Flash altogether. So what do you think? Are you ready for a Flash-free Internet? Let us know.
20 Jul 2015, 12:46 pm | Tech Drive-in
Ubuntu 15.04: The good old Ubuntu is back!
My favorite Ubuntu versions has almost always has been the LTS releases. Ubuntu 12.04 could be termed as my favorite Ubuntu to date, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS could be a close second. But I've never faced much issues with any of the Ubuntu releases, except for Ubuntu 14.10, which was just beyond messed up. Things were so bad that I had to switch from Ubuntu to Freya almost permanently. And I have nothing but love for that incredibly clean and simple OS. Some of the reasons why I love elementary Freya so much.
But Ubuntu 15.04 turned things around for me. Everything seems to work just as good as it has always been. It's a shame that I was not able to find out the real cause for all the trouble I had with Ubuntu 14.10. But hey, that's the beauty of Linux. If you don't like an OS, you have 100 other equally good distros waiting to be tested.
Disclaimer: Even though I have made utmost care not to make any mistakes here, please make sure you double-check everything before executing. As they say, you don't trust a random code or command from the web. The same applies here. And most of this article is heavily influenced from our earlier posts on similar topics. So lend a careful eye while making critical changes to your brand new OS. You've been warned.
First things first: Downloading Codecs package during Installation
- You can install restricted codecs package (which include Adobe Flash, MP3 codecs and such) during installation of OS itself. See below.
- Notice the arrows pointing to the boxes in the screenshot above. If you tick both of them during the Ubuntu installation process (make sure you are connected to the internet before doing so), restricted extras package will be installed automatically and you will be able to play mp3's, avi's, mp4's etc. and watch flash videos (YouTube videos for example) right after Ubuntu installation is done with.
- But there is a catch. If you have a slow internet connection (which is very rare these days), ticking the boxes shown in the screenshot above will unnecessarily lengthen the installation process. I for one prefer to do all that after installing Ubuntu. If you are like me, the next two steps are for you.
- After you install brand new Ubuntu 15.04, the first thing you need to do is to update repositories and make sure you have the latest updates installed.
- Search for Software Updater in Unity Dash and launch the Software Updater app. It will automatically check for updates available. Install the updates.
- OR you could simply use the command line method. Open Terminal (Ubuntu 15.04 Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + T) and copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
- Enter your password when asked and you're done. Your new Ubuntu 15.04 'Vivid Vervet' has been successfully updated and upgraded.
- Install the "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package. This will enable your Ubuntu to play popular file formats like mp3, avi, flash videos etc. CLICK HERE (to install directly from Ubuntu Software Center) OR simply copy-paste the following command into Terminal to install the package (You need not do this if you have ticked the 'right' boxes before).
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
- Done. [Note: The package contains some proprietary fonts and such which will not be downloaded while OS installation. Hence, you might still want to install Ubuntu Restricted Extras package even though you ticked those boxes before.]
- As in previous releases, Ubuntu 15.04 has 'Additional Drivers' functionality inside Software & Updates (previously called Software Sources).
- In my case, all the hardware drivers including graphics, sound and wireless drivers were enabled automatically. But this may not be the case for everyone.
- If you are among the not-so-lucky, open Unity dash (Ubuntu 15.04 Keyboard Shortcut: Super key) and search for 'Software & Updates' application.
- Check for additional drivers available and activate the ones you want. In majority of the cases, this will do the trick. If you're not able to get hardware drivers working yet, you'll have to do a fair amount of digging through ubuntuforums and askubuntu.
- Back in 2007, one of the first "feature" that attracted me to Ubuntu was the multiple workspaces thing and all the cool animations you could do with it. I know, it's kind of silly but workspaces are still very important to me. My work environment feels very claustrophobic otherwise.
- Even when market leaders like Microsoft is thinking about bringing multiple workspaces feature to its upcoming Windows 10 OS (or so I heard), Ubuntu 15.04 by default decides to ditch workspaces. I find it kind of amusing. May be Canonical received a different feedback from its users. Anyway, you can easily re-enable it by going to System Settings - Apperance window (see screenshot above for reference).
- Two-finger scrolling is enabled by default. But you know what, I kind of like it now. But still, if you want to change it back to normal scrolling, here is what you need to do.
- Launch System Settings and browse to Mouse & Touchpad under Hardware.
- Unselect Two finger scroll.
- When it comes to tweaking Unity, there's no better candidate. Even the default Ubuntu Settings app is no match for Unity Tweak Tool.
- Unity Tweak Tool is available in default Ubuntu 15.04 repositories.
- Click Here to install Unity Tweak Tool in Ubuntu 15.04.
- Unity Tweak Tool has a lot of options to tinker with, about which we will discuss in detail later on in this post.
- You can now click on the apps to minimize it to the launcher, a behavior which should have been default if you ask me. Here's how you do it.
- Launch Unity Tweak Tool which you've already installed, goto Launcher sub-menu under "Unity". Rest is self-explanatory (refer screenshot above). More details and video.
- Hotcorners along with multiple-workspaces have been two of favorite features ever since I started using Ubuntu years ago. Enabling hotcorners is a pretty straight-forward affair since you have already installed Unity Tweak Tool.
- Launch Unity Tweak Tool and goto Hotcorners sub-menu under 'Window Manager'.
- CCSM is similar to Unity Tweak Tool, but more advanced, and very specific to Compiz, the default window manager. CCSM may not be as relevant as before, but it still packs the punch. We'll deal with some CCSM specific hacks later on.
- CLICK HERE to install CCSM.
- I am all for eyecandy, but it should not be at the cost of performance or responsiveness.
- Disabling Animations and Fading windows from CCSM might make your Ubuntu look less attractive. But as far as I can see, it has a significant positive impact on performance.
- Launch CCSM again, goto Ubuntu Unity Plugin under Desktop.
- Change Active Blur to Static Blur or No Blur.
- Online search results in Unity dash, sounds like a good idea on paper, but not in the real world. It unnecessarily makes Dash search slower (at least for me).
- To disable it, goto System Settings app and find Privacy category.
- Ubuntu by default will be recording your activity which is later used to refine searches in Unity and such. You can completely disable this feature by accessing Privacy category within System Settings application.
- You can optionally disable recording for a pre-defined set of files only like image, text, video etc. instead of completely disabling recording altogether (my preferred way).
- If errors like that with titles such as "system program problem detected" or "ubuntu 15.04 has experienced an internal error" are common in your Ubuntu installation, you might want to disable Apport error reporting tool altogether.
- Hit ALT + F2 and run the following command (as in the screenshot above).
gksu gedit /etc/default/apport
- Change value of "enabled" from 1 to 0 (instructions are provided in the text file itself).
- Save and exit. Now for changes to take effect, do the following in Terminal.
sudo restart apport
- OR do a system restart. Both will do. Apport is supposed to be disabled in stable releases and yet I'm finding it enabled in almost all major releases since Ubuntu 12.04. More details about Apport here.
- Global menus were pretty controversial from its early days. Some say it is unnecessary when display size of average desktops/laptops keeps on increasing.
- Don't worry, Ubuntu 15.04 has got you covered. Goto System Settings - Apperance and select Behavior. Now you can choose between one of the two.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are new to Ubuntu 15.04 and Unity, you might not want to do this. Stay with default settings for the time being and find for yourself if Lenses are useful or not.
- I have never found video, music or photo lens useful. I know exactly where my files are and I would simply use file browser instead to locate/launch them. Never been a fan of shopping lens either. All I need is a really fast loading Dash, plain and simple.
- If you're like me, you might want to trade them for a faster responding Unity dash. Copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get autoremove unity-lens-music unity-lens-photos unity-lens-shopping unity-lens-video
- Done. Also recommended: Fix Ubuntu.
- Google Chrome or Chromium
- MPV Media Player
- VLC Media Player
- Synaptic Package Manager
- Steam for Linux
- GDebi Package Installer
- Music Players for Linux
18 Jul 2015, 9:06 pm | 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.
18 Jul 2015, 9:04 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]
18 Jul 2015, 9:04 pm | Tech Drive-in
Ubuntu based Lenovo Laptops for India
Lenovo will be shipping Ubuntu preloaded devices starting with Thinkpad L450 laptop from early this month. The laptops will be available to purchase from selected commercial resellers and distributors throughout the region at prices starting from INR 40,000, approximately 630 USD.
Thi is the first joint launch between Lenovo and Canonical in India. The Thinkpad L450 laptop will be running latest Intel Core i3 5005U and i5 52000U processors, in addition to 4GB RAM and 500GB hard drives. 14 inch HD displays will be standard.
"It is very exciting to be working with Lenovo on bringing the Ubuntu Edition of the Thinkpad L450 laptop to commercial customers here in India." said Prakash Advani, Regional Director, Sales & Alliances – India & SouthEast Asia. "This marks a true stepping stone in our relationship with Lenovo and an extension of our offerings in the Indian marketplace which is one of our key markets for Ubuntu PCs globally. Lenovo has a strong presence amongst large enterprises who are increasingly adopting the Ubuntu OS."
Lenovo Thinkpad 450 laptops with Ubuntu preloaded will be available from select distributors and resellers across the country starting early July. Further reading insights.ubuntu.com.
17 Jul 2015, 3:30 pm | Tech Drive-in
Open Flash Videos in MPV in Ubuntu using this Fierfox Extension
If you are not a regular here, you might be wondering what this MPV is all about. It is a very lightweight media player for Ubuntu based on MPlayer. Over the last year or so, I've fallen in love with this little media player for Linux called MPV so much so that it has replaced VLC as my go-to app for all things media in my Ubuntu desktop.
Installing MPV is rather easy. Detailed instructions can be found in our earlier MPV short review. Once you've installed it, fire up your default web browser, Firefox that is, and go to this extension page:
Install Watch with MPV Extension for Firefox
And you're good to go. Now on, whenever you load a page containing Flash video like YouTube for example in Firefox, notice this button on top-right corner (along with other extensions) that says 'Play with MPV'. So far in Ubuntu 14.10, this extension is working as well as it says. I'm really impressed, what about you?
15 Jul 2015, 10:00 pm | Tech Drive-in
Linux Powers World's Fastest Supercomputers
Linux's absolute domination of the world's most sophisticated supercomputers doesn't come as a surprise. In fact, the enterprise sector had long embraced the Linux eco-system with open arms. So much so that, the world's fastest Supercomputer runs a Chinese derivative of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Kylin, as revealed by Mark Shuttleworth himself during his keynote speech at OpenStack Summit. Ubuntu Kylin is now an official Ubuntu flavour.
Top500 Supercomputers list reveals quite a number of interesting statistics. Out of 500 top Supercomputers, 486 of them runs on Linux, 12 on Unix, 1 mixed and 1 of them on Windows. Among the hardware vendors, HP tops the list with 35.6% market-share while IBM and Cray Inc. takes 2nd and 3rd spot with 18.2% and 14.2% market-share respectively. Curious to know who runs that lone Windows based Supercomputer? The lone remaining Windows machine is Shanghai Supercomputer Center's Magic Box built by Dawning in 2008. It's #436 on the list.
Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2) remains the world's fastest supercomputer as before (in 2013, 2014 and 2015). Situated in National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, China, Tianhe-2 is a 33.86-petaflops supercomputer built at an estimated cost of US$390 million. Second in the list is Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan supercomputer situated in United States. See the full list by Top500.
14 Jul 2015, 10:55 pm | 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.
14 Jul 2015, 10:55 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.
14 Jul 2015, 10:51 pm | 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.