Linux, Ubuntu & Android News
1 Mar 2014, 3:12 pm | Tech Drive-in
Local menus will replace universal menus in Ubuntu 14.04
Marco Trevisan is part of the Unity desktop team at Canonical which focuses on polishing and improving the user experience of Ubuntu's default window manager for the next upcoming LTS release. The integration of keyboard filtering into Unity spread is a direct result of the hard work done by people behind this team. But that's not all.
In a recent blog post, Marco Trevisan has announced that, Unity desktop is switching to locally integrated menus (LIMs) instead of universal/global menus starting from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release. LIMs will show the menus inside the decorations themselves in horizontal mode (until there's room for them). Hence, vertical space and the nice look of menu-less windows are not compromised. The two screenshots above will give you the picture.
Now, I have never been much of a global-menu hater. In fact, I really loved the way it worked on later releases. But I also understand the fact that many among you, especially the ones with larger displays, absolutely despise it. Here's their rationale for locally integrated menus:
"Having the applications menus in the top panel really worked very well in small screens but now, especially with HiDPI monitors getting more and more popular, the top panel could be really too far from the actual window location. The solution, that the UX designer JohnLea has defined are the Locally Integrated Menus (LIM)", he writes.
And the desktop team is not rushing with it either. For now, you have to enable it using the Unity Control Center Appearance panel (see above screenshot). More details about locally integrated menus and Ubuntu 14.04 here. Watch locally integrated menus in action below.
27 Feb 2014, 7:40 pm | Tech Drive-in
How to install and setup Linux Remote Control in Ubuntu?
- Download the LRC deb package and install it. For that, simply follow the steps below in your Terminal. Instructions here are specifically for Debian based distros like Ubuntu.
sudo apt-get install node nodejs-legacy
sudo dpkg -i ~/Downloads/lrc.deb
sudo apt-get install -f
- The fourth command above is optional. Run it only if the second line resulted in some error. Done. LRC installation is complete.
- Now, you need to move the "lrc-client" directory to your phone (can be your external memory card as well). For that, open Nautilus as root first ("sudo nautilus" in Terminal).
- Cut-paste the "lrc-client" directory to your phone. Afterwards, start the LRC service in your Ubuntu by using the following command.
- And finally, launch the lrc-client from your phone. Goto the "lrc-client" directory in your external SD card (which you copy-pasted earlier) and launch the index.html file in your favorite browser (Firefox beta for Android in my case).
- For me, the functionalities that worked perfectly include the brightness level adjuster, shutdown/restart buttons as well as lock/unlock buttons, and multimedia pause/stop/play buttons. Things that worked not-so-well include the touchpad controls and some aspects of multimedia controls. More info and instructions here. Thanks for reading.
26 Feb 2014, 11:30 am | Tech Drive-in
Portal 2 for Linux beta
Portal 2 for Linux is still in beta, which means, you need to opt into the Beta from the Portal 2 properties in your Steam Library in order to access the game. Linux system requirements for Portal 2 beta must be similar to that required by Portal.
22 Feb 2014, 7:52 am | Tech Drive-in
Surespot Encrypted Messenger: Surespot is probably the best open-source alternative to WhatsApp you could ever have. It offers exceptional end to end encryption and its entirely ad-free. Surespot is not associated with your phone number or email and you can even delete your messages from the receiving device! Surespot supports multiple identities on a single device. The app uses 256 bit AES-GCM encryption using keys created with 521 bit ECDH, which means only you and the receiver can decrypt Surespot messages. Surespot is free to download and use (supported by in-app purchases). Platforms: Android, iOS.
Telegram Messenger for Android: Telegram is a fast and secure messaging alternative to WhatsApp. Focus is on speed and security. This free app supports group chats and you can even share videos upto 1 GB size. Also, all your messages are in the cloud and you can easily access them from any of your devices. Telegram's 'Secret Chats' feature offers end-to-end encryption. With Secret Chats ON, nothing is logged on its servers and you can automatically program the messages to self-destruct from both devices if needed. Platforms: Android and iOS (official support), Linux, Windows, Chrome (unofficial support). Some are very critical about its security though. Update: $200,000 to the hacker who can break Telegram.
Threema Messenger: "Made in Switzerland" I mean, how often do you see an app with a 'made in' badge? Jokes apart, if you're really serious about safeguarding your privacy, Threema is the one for you. It offers true end-to-end encryption. All encryption happens on your device, and asymmetric cryptography ensures that only the intended receiver can read your messages. And it's much better designed when compared to Surespot. Threema is non-free and costs around USD 2.29 on Android.
- ChatSecure: It uses state of the art Off-The-Record (OTR) encryption.
- Cryptocat: Pretty interesting concept, but not available on mobile platforms yet.
- Heml.is: Not yet released, but very promising.
- Silent Text: You must be a paid Silent Circle subscriber to use this app.
18 Feb 2014, 4:38 pm | Tech Drive-in
Keyboard filtering for Unity spread
A very power-user friendly feature which didn't break the normal workflow for the average user, just like HUD. What do you think?
Ubuntu leaving Upstart for Systemd, a decision that will go a long way in preventing further fragmentation
16 Feb 2014, 7:07 am | Tech Drive-in
Debian's switch to Systemd prompts Canonical to change its direction
After much deliberations, Canonical founder and former-CEO Mark Shuttleworth has just announced the Ubuntu's switch from Upstart to Systemd. A move widely seen as pragmatic by his critics and supporters alike. The decision comes after Debian Technical Committee's selection of Systemd over Upstart. "The decision is for systemd, and given that Ubuntu is quite centrally a member of the Debian family, that’s a decision we support", he added.
Though Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" will still be running Upstart, you can expect the slow transition to happen starting from Ubuntu 14.10. Read more here.
14 Feb 2014, 8:06 am | Tech Drive-in
Bitwig Studio Digital Audio Workstation
- Bitwig Studio is a multi-platform (supports Windows, Mac and Linux) music-creation tool for production, performance and DJing.
- Bitwig Studio is made by developers that used to work on Ableton Live, a Windows only Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). And like Lightworks for video editing, Bitwig Studio will be a professional grade music production tool with support for Linux platform.
- Expected release date: March 26, 2014. Know more.
Ardour: Audio mixing software for Linux
- Record, edit and mix audio using Ardour. Supports Linux and Mac.
- Ardour is open source and is released under GPLv2/GPLv3 license.
- Ardour is a great example of commercial free-libre software. Users who download from ardour.org are asked to pay at least $1 for downloading prebuilt binaries of Ardour; those users then have the right to obtain minor updates until the next major release.
- Another option is to subscribe by paying $1, $4 or $10 per month. Subscribers can download prebuilt binaries of all updates during the subscription period.
- Without paying anything, users can download the full source code for all platforms.
Renoise Digital Audio Workstation
- Renoise is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) with a unique top-down approach to music composition known as a tracker interface.
- Features include full MIDI and MIDI sync support, VST 2.0 plugin support, ASIO multi I/O cards support, integrated sampler and sample editor, internal real-time DSP effects with unlimited number of effects per track, master and send tracks, full automation of all commands, hi-fi .WAV rendering (up to 32 bit 96 kHz), Rewire support, etc.
- A full version of Renoise cost USD 78.00, which is noticeably cheaper than competing digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Ableton Live and even the upcoming Bitwig Studio which costs around USD 749 and USD 400 (rumored) respectively.
Tracktion Music Production Software for Linux
- Tracktion is yet another high-profile entrant into the Linux music production scene.
- Tracktion is a digital audio workstation for recording and editing audio and MIDI. The project was started with the intention of creating the most easy-to-use music production tool out there. Tracktion is proprietary though.
- Support for a wide range of audio formats including WAV, AIFF and Ogg-Vorbis.
- Tracktion beta version for Linux is free now. Get it here.
Rosegarden Digital Audio Workstation (Linux exclusive)
- Rosegarden is an open source digital audio workstation for Linux, based around a MIDI sequencer that features a rich understanding of music notation and includes basic support for digital audio.
- Ideal for composers, musicians, and students working from a small studio or home recording environments. Quite easy to learn and runs exclusively on Linux.
- Download Rosegarden for Linux (an early alpha version for Windows is also available)
Hydrogen: Advanced drum machine for Linux
- Hydrogen is an advanced drum machine for Linux, an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or similar percussion instruments.
- Hydrogen's interface uses Qt library and the entire code-base is released to the public under the GNU General Public License.
Mixxx: Linux's very own professional DJing software
- Mixxx is a free and open source digital DJing software that allows mixing music in your Linux system with ease.
- Mixxx started off as a humble project for a doctoral thesis way back in 2001. Today it is a full-fledged application that is downloaded over one million times annually.
- It is licensed under the GPL (v2.0 or later) and runs on all major desktop operating systems.
- More download options here.
Audacity: Record and edit music in Linux with ease
- Audacity is the most well-known application here, and perhaps the most basic too.
- Audacity is a free and open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing all kinds of music and audio. It is one of the most downloaded software in SourceForge, with nearly 100 million downloads.
- If you are on Ubuntu, Click here to install Audacity.
- More download options for Audacity can be found here.
LMMS: Linux MultiMedia Studio
- LMMS is yet another free and open-source, cross-platform software that allows you to produce music with your computer. This include creating of melodies and beats, synthesizing and mixing of sounds and arranging samples.
- LMMS is available for Linux and Windows. Download here.
JACK: Jack Audio Connection Kit
- Jack Audio Connection Kit (JACK) is perhaps the most important tool as far as music production on Linux is concerned. It is a professional sound server daemon that provides real-time, low latency connections for both audio and MIDI data between applications that implement its API.
- It can connect a number of different applications to an audio device, as well as allowing them to share audio between themselves.
- Most of the open-source applications listed above and plenty more out there does use its API. See this exhaustive list for yourself.
- The server is free software, licensed under the GNU GPL, while the library is licensed under the more permissive GNU LGPL.
- Download options here.
12 Feb 2014, 3:16 pm | Tech Drive-in
|image via sticky comics|
The Sticky comic featured above has a lot of relevance here because, the software/package management in Linux is far superior to what you have in Windows and that contributes hugely to the general snappiness of Linux based OSes. Now, let's get into the details. Excerpts from this excellent reddit post by redditor who is know by his pseudonym 'ok_you_win'.
- One of the more hidden benefits to linux is that applications share files better than windows. So instead of DLLs like in windows, linux uses .so files, or "shared objects". There are also .ko files, which are kernel objects, somewhat like drivers in windows.
- A Windows application might depend on a very specific version of a DLL. The person who writes the application doesn't know what version of windows you will be installing it on and if that particular DLL will be present in your system. So the easiest solution is to just include the correct DLL with the application. Effect: installers are much larger, C drive is fuller, and more ram is used.
- Linux does it differently. When you ask to install Midori web browser for instance, apt-get (or the software center front end) checks the package for a list of dependencies. Instead of including all the files, Midori just says what it depends on.
- So apt-get checks the system and sees that fileX.so.1 is already installed, which is one of the dependencies, so it doesn't need to fetch it from the central software repository. It then notices that Midori needs another file, which is not installed yet, so it checks the software repository for a version that matches, or one that is newer. It installs that. And so on. Once the dependencies are satisfied, it installs the application itself. Result: Software can be installed very quickly and doesn't take up as much space or ram
- The apt-get system also keeps track of how many applications need fileX.so.1, so that if you remove Midori, it doesn't remove fileX.so.1, unless nobody else is using it. So Linux has pretty good house keeping skills.
5 Feb 2014, 3:25 pm | Tech Drive-in
MOC: Lightweight music player for Linux
NCMPC and NCMPCPP are two of my favorite console-based music players for Linux. But when compared to MOC, those MPD clients are just not as easy to install and setup. One of the many interesting features of MOC include the ability to detach the interface while keeping the server running resulting in uninterrupted music even when you have to close the Terminal.
MOC plays smoothly, regardless of system or I/O load because it uses the output buffer in a separate thread. Also, it provides gapless playback because the next file to be played is pre-cached while the current file is playing. Supported file formats include MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Musepack, Speex, MOD, WavPack etc.
Installing and setting up MOC in Ubuntu and other Debian based distros
Most Debian based Linux distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS, Pingus OS etc. will have MOC as default in its repositories.
- CLICK HERE to install MOC in Ubuntu
- OR simply copy-paste this command on Terminal.
sudo apt-get install moc moc-ffmpeg-plugin
- Done. MOC is installed and ready to go.
There is nothing to set up actually. Just run the command "mocp" (without quotes) in Terminal and there you have it. Hit the letter "h" and the help menu will pop-up.
Plenty of shortcuts to control MOC. Don't be intimidated by it, you'll probably have to use 5 or 6 of them regularly. And its all very intuitive. There are a few themes to play around too, as you can see in the above screenshot. I have been using MOC for more than a week now and I'm pretty impressed. Give it a try and let us know your opinion. Also, more MOC tips and tricks are on its way. So stay tuned and thanks or reading.
31 Jan 2014, 7:32 am | Tech Drive-in
UK government planning to ditch Microsoft Office for LibreOffice and such
Guardian UK is reporting that, Ministers within UK government are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft. Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the Microsoft's Office suite alone since 2010, which is staggering when you consider the fact that there are free and almost equally-good alternatives on the other side.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to software which can produce open-source files in the "open document format" (ODF), such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.
Document formats are set to be standardised across goverment offices to help break the "oligopoly" of IT suppliers, and improve communications between civil servants. The proposal is part of the coalition's drive to make its procurement more effective and efficient.
[Read the full report at Guardian UK website]