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Linux, Ubuntu & Android News


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.

Thanks to Red Hat, India's biggest stock exchange is now the world's fastest

18 Feb 2017, 4:17 pm | Tech Drive-in


"Red Hat is now our backbone. Our business cannot run if Red Hat is not there." That is India's biggest stock exchange's CEO talking. Established in 1875, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is considered to be Asia’s earliest established stock exchange with an overall market capitalization of $1.43 Trillion in 2016 making it the world's 11th largest. Open Source have had many major wins last year, and this has to be one of the biggest.

bse linux migration india


India's BSE joins the Linux bandwagon

After struggling with inefficient and costly proprietary technologies for over two decades, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) built a new trading system using open source technology from Red Hat. "As a result, BSE has expanded from 10 million to 400 million orders per day, achieved the fastest trading speed in the world, and reduced its total cost of ownership (TCO) by 90%." This also enabled the stock exchange to venture into the currency markets which it didn't had any presence earlier, and now represents about 50% of that market in India.

india stock exchange fastest after redhat adoption
Since its switch-over to Linux and open source based solutions, the Indian stock exchange has increased trading volume from 10 million orders per day to 400 million per day. With a median trade speed of just 6 microseconds, the trading platform now claims to be the world's fastest of its kind. There were even bigger wins to be made on the cost front. The shift has enabled the Bombay Stock Exchange to reduce its hardware expenses by 66% and lowered total cost of ownership by 90%!

Apparently, the transition to the new system was seamless, with zero downtime, claims Red Hat. The high-ranking BSE officials had only high-praise for the Red Hat support team. BSE also won the prestigious Red Hat Innovation Awards for 2016. You can find a more detailed case study on BSE's success using Red Hat here.

Update: Hitman and Civilization VI, now available on Linux

17 Feb 2017, 10:44 am | Tech Drive-in


Civilization VI for Linux
It's now official. Linux ports of two blockbuster titles, Hitman and Civilization VI, will arrive on Feb 16th and Feb 9th respectively via Steam for Linux. The Civilization VI is also coming with a special limited time launch price of $47.99 for the base game. 
Sid Meier's Civilization VI is a turn based strategy game developed by Firaxis Games originally released for Microsoft Windows platform late last year. It went on to become the fastest selling game in the Civilization series, more than a million copies were sold in the first few weeks of its release. There were rumors about potential Linux ports from day one. All speculations were laid to rest with the official announcement from Aspyr Media about the imminent arrival of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI for Linux. [Steam]
Minimum System Requirements:
Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04 / SteamOS
CPU Processor: Intel Core i3 530 or AMD A8-3870
CPU Speed: 2.93 GHz
Memory: 6 GB
Hard Disk Space: 15 GB
Video Card (NVIDIA): GeForce 650
Video Card (ATI): Not Supported
Video Card (Intel): Not Supported
Video Memory (VRam): 1 GB

Hitman for Linux port
Hitman is a third-person stealth video game in which the player takes-up the role of a genetically enhanced assassin, travelling to international locations and eliminating contracted targets. Linux port of Hitman: The Complete First Season will arrive on Feb 16th, again via Steam platform. Hitman: The Complete First Season was released on 31 January 2017 for other platforms. [Get it on Steam]

hitman linux

Meet lowRISC: A bold Attempt to create an open source, Linux capable SoC

9 Dec 2016, 7:33 pm | Tech Drive-in


lowRISC is a daring attempt at creating a completely open-source, Linux capable, and multi-core system on a chip (SoC) to promote open hardware systems. The project was co-founded by Rob Mullins, Alex Bradbury (both of whom were actively involved with Raspberry Pi project) and Gavin Ferris of Dreamworks.

lowrisc SoC opensource hardware
lowRISC: Open hardware for the masses!
According to lowRISC co-founder Alex Bradbury, the project is a "not-for-profit effort to produce a completely open source, Linux capable, multi-core SoC." He believes that the "benefits of open source we enjoy in the software world can be applied to the hardware world which will have a huge positive effect on the hardware industry, academia, and wider society," much like the Raspberry Pi project he was earlier involved in.

lowRISC's open-source SoC designs will be based on the 64-bit RISC-V open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) which allows anyone to freely use, design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software. Alex Bradbury of lowRISC is of the opinion that "lowRISC SoC can act something like the 'Linux of the hardware world' - that others can take it as a base for their own SoC designs (startups, academics, larger companies)". But he is pessimistic about hitting the ultra low-cost price-points of Raspberry Pi, given the expected lower volumes.

He goes on to add that "..open source silicon design has much more to offer than just lowering unit costs and increasing profit margins for the existing dominant players. This is why we are established as an independent not-for-profit - we want open source hardware to benefit everyone, and its design to be a truly collaborative process. We have a long way to go, but that's the direction we want to help move things in."

lowRISC is a not-for-profit organisation working closely with the University of Cambridge and the open-source community. You can follow the project here or join the discussion on hacker news here. For more free and opensource (FOSS) related news and articles, go through our open-source feed.

Recommended read: 3 relatively unknown open-source web-browsers for Linux


Docker Partners with Canonical to offer direct support to Ubuntu users

6 Dec 2016, 5:44 pm | Tech Drive-in

Enterprise Ubuntu users have more reasons to cheer about. Canonical has partnered with Docker Inc. to provide professional grade support of Docker software to Ubuntu's Enterprise customers. Docker is a premier software container solution renowned for its ease of use and scalability. Docker Inc. already has similar contracts signed with major vendors such as Microsoft and HP.

docker
What is Docker?

Docker is an open-source software that automates the deployment of various Linux applications inside software containers. Docker Inc. is generally considered as the company that brought software containers to the mainstream. Docker makes it easy to run a far greater number of apps on the same old servers without compromising on usability or security.

Unlike VM hypervisors, software containers are very lean on system requirements since they use shared operating systems. Instead of virtualizing entire hardware, containers sit on top of a single Linux instance, for example. As a result, you can have as many as four-to-six times the number of server application instances on the same hardware. Here's a really good article about Docker and software containers in general if you are interested.

The Announcement:

A week ago, Docker and Canonical announced an integrated Commercially Supported (CS) Docker Engine offering on Ubuntu, providing Canonical customers with a single path for support of the Ubuntu operating system and CS Docker Engine in enterprise Docker operations. Apparently, there is a "large, positive overlap" of enterprise users that use Ubuntu and Docker together.

As per the contract, Docker Inc. will provide Ubuntu users with stable, up-to-date Docker releases using Ubuntu's snap packages technology and Canonical in return will provide a two-tier technical support for Docker engine. Ubuntu is already one of the most popular Cloud Linux platforms out there and is now the first among Linux vendors to provide direct, official Docker support.

"Through our partnership, we provide users with more choice by bringing the agility, portability, and security benefits of the Docker CS engine to the larger Ubuntu community," said Nick Stinemates, Vice President, Business Development & Technical Alliances at Docker. "Additionally, Ubuntu customers will be able to take advantage of official Docker support -- a service that is not available from most Linux distributions. Together, we have aligned to make it even easier for organizations to create new efficiencies across the entire software supply chain."

Want to try GNOME 3.22? This is the Linux Distro you're looking for!

25 Sep 2016, 9:51 pm | Tech Drive-in

GNOME is perhaps *the* the most popular Linux desktop envoronment out there. And GNOME 3.22 is the latest stable release from GNOME foundation. Yet, it is almost impossible to find a mainstream Linux distro that ships the latest and greatest from GNOME. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for example has no plans to bring this GNOME release to its users anytime soon. Forget Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, the still-in-development Ubuntu 16.10 will have GNOME 3.20 by default. But there is this one particular distro that already has the latest GNOME 3.22!
gnome 3.22 linux

Say Hello to openSUSE Tumbleweed!

Ubuntu 16.10 "Yakkety Yak" will have GNOME 3.20 by default. You might be able to upgrade GNOME 3.20 to 3.22 with some unofficial PPAs, but that is not a perfect solution, especially on productions machines.

Worry not, openSUSE Tumbleweed has you covered. The Tumbleweed distribution is a pure 'rolling release version of openSUSE containing the latest stable versions of all software instead of relying on rigid periodic release cycles.' Tumbleweed is based on openSUSE's main development codebase and is updated once the codebase's bleeding edge software has been integrated, stabilized and tested. In effect, openSUSE Tumbleweed contains the latest stable applications and is ready and reliable for daily use.

gnome 3.22 opensuse
This image was tweeted by openSUSE Chairman himself. Less than 48 hours after the unveiling of GNOME 3.22 (Karlsruhe), openSUSE Tumbleweed users are getting the full upstream experience of the latest GNOME. Official announcement by openSUSE on GNOME 3.22 integration can be found here. Also read: Tumbleweed download and installation instructions. I have just completed the download, but haven't tested it on any of my machines yet. Will hopefully do a full review on GNOME 3.22 once that's done.

Keep in mind that, Debian Unstable and Arch Linux also have updated GNOME 3.22 packages. But as far as I understand, both versions are not really recommended for daily use. Since I have never used Arch, I can never be sure about this. Feel free to correct me if I wrongly assumed Arch's GNOME 3.22 implementation to be less stable. Thanks for reading. If all goes well, we'll be reviewing GNOME 3.22 with openSUSE Tumbleweed soon.

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