Linux, Ubuntu & Android News
21 Aug 2015, 4:34 pm | Tech Drive-in
Shotcut Video Editor for Linux with 4K Support
From its humble beginnings several years ago, Shotcut is one of those apps that just kept on getting better with each new release, the latest version being 15.07 (denoting the month and year of the release). The biggest addition to Shotcut video editor for this new version is full 4K UHD support.
As the developer notes, "Shotcut has been able to do 4K for a while now if you made a custom video mode or correctly use automatic mode. However, there were a few things we wanted to do before making it official. First, you really need to be using a 64-bit build, and we delivered that for Windows in the previous release. For this release, we added 4K video modes to the Settings menu and extended our support for Blackmagic Design 4K SDI & HDMI devices".Shotcut 15.07 also comes with 5 new audio and video filters. These new 'old film' video effects can be considered as toy filters. "The film grain effect does not try to emulate any real film stock, and the Technocolor filter does not try to faithfully reproduce the 20th century Technicolor processes. It merely intends to approximate the look.", writes Dan Dennedy in his blog post. The article goes on to further discuss about the other prominent changes & improvements to Shotcut in this new release. Full feature list can be found here.
Also, Shotcut video editor is multi-platform. Different packages for Linux, Windows and OS X are available. For Linux, officially supported distros include Mint 12+, Ubuntu 12.04+, Debian 7+, Fedora 15+, openSUSE 12+, Arch and Manjaro Linux. Downloads here. [thanks to my good friend and reader aashiks for tipping us]
21 Aug 2015, 4:20 pm | Tech Drive-in
From the most consumer focused distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint or elementary OS to the more obscure, minimal and enterprise focused ones such as Slackware, Arch Linux or RHEL, I thought I've seen them all. Couldn't have been any further from the truth. Linux eco-system is very diverse. There's one for everyone. Let's discuss the weird and wacky world of niche Linux distros that represents the true diversity of open platforms.
Puppy Linux: An operating system which is about 1/10th the size of an average DVD quality movie rip, that's Puppy Linux for you. The OS is just 100 MB in size! And it can run from RAM making it unusually fast even in older PCs. You can even remove the boot medium after the operating system has started! Can it get any better than that? System requirements are bare minimum, most hardware are automatically detected, and it comes loaded with software catering to your basic needs. Experience Puppy Linux.
Suicide Linux: Did the name scare you? Well it should. 'Any time - any time - you type any remotely incorrect command, the interpreter creatively resolves it into rm -rf / and wipes your hard drive'. Simple as that. I really want to know the ones who are confident enough to risk their production machines with Suicide Linux. Warning: DO NOT try this on production machines! The whole thing is available in a neat DEB package if you're interested.
PapyrOS: "Strange" in a good way. PapyrOS is trying to adapt the material design language of Android into their brand new Linux distribution. Though the project is in early stages, it already looks very promising. The project page says the OS is 80% complete and one can expect the first Alpha release anytime soon. We did a small write up on PapyrOS when it was announced and by the looks of it, PapyrOS might even become a trend-setter of sorts. Follow the project on Google+ and contribute via BountySource if you're interested.
Qubes OS: Qubes is an open-source operating system designed to provide strong security using a Security by Compartmentalization approach. The assumption is that there can be no perfect, bug-free desktop environment. And by implementing a 'Security by Isolation' approach, Qubes Linux intends to remedy that. Qubes is based on Xen, the X Window System, and Linux, and can run most Linux applications and supports most Linux drivers. Qubes was selected as a finalist of Access Innovation Prize 2014 for Endpoint Security Solution.
Ubuntu Satanic Edition: Ubuntu SE is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. "It brings together the best of free software and free metal music" in one comprehensive package consisting of themes, wallpapers, and even some heavy-metal music sourced from talented new artists. Though the project doesn't look actively developed anymore, Ubuntu Satanic Edition is strange in every sense of that word. Ubuntu SE (Slightly NSFW).
Tiny Core Linux: Puppy Linux not small enough? Try this. Tiny Core Linux is a 12 MB graphical Linux desktop! Yep, you read it right. One major caveat: It is not a complete desktop nor is all hardware completely supported. It represents only the core needed to boot into a very minimal X desktop typically with wired internet access. There is even a version without the GUI called Micro Core Linux which is just 9MB in size. Tiny Core Linux folks.
NixOS: A very experienced-user focused Linux distribution with a unique approach to package and configuration management. In other distributions, actions such as upgrades can be dangerous. Upgrading a package can cause other packages to break, upgrading an entire system is much less reliable than reinstalling from scratch. And top of all that you can't safely test what the results of a configuration change will be, there's no "Undo" so to speak. In NixOS, the entire operating system is built by the Nix package manager from a description in a purely functional build language. This means that building a new configuration cannot overwrite previous configurations. Most of the other features follow this pattern. Nix stores all packages in isolation from each other. More about NixOS.
GoboLinux: This is another very unique Linux distro. What makes GoboLinux so different from the rest is its unique re-arrangement of the filesystem. It has its own subdirectory tree, where all of its files and programs are stored. GoboLinux does not have a package database because the filesystem is its database. In some ways, this sort of arrangement is similar to that seen in OS X. Get GoboLinux.
Hannah Montana Linux: Here is a Linux distro based on Kubuntu with a Hannah Montana themed boot screen, KDM, icon set, ksplash, plasma, color scheme, and wallpapers (I'm so sorry). Link. Project not active anymore.
RLSD Linux: An extremely minimalistic, small, lightweight and security-hardened, text-based operating system built on Linux. "It's a unique distribution that provides a selection of console applications and home-grown security features which might appeal to hackers," developers claim. RLSD Linux.
Did we miss anything even stranger? Let us know.
7 Aug 2015, 4:51 am | Tech Drive-in
India joins a new breed of nations that have come openly supporting open source software solutions as part of the declared state policy. The Government of India has adopted a comprehensive and supportive open source policy building on their earlier efforts to adopt open standards for procurement.
India's Massive "Digital India" Program And The Role of Open Solutions
Government of India (GoI) is implementing a Digital India program as an umbrella program to 'prepare India for a knowledge based transformation into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy'. This require a major overhaul of hardware and software infrastructure. Many firms have already committed to the tune of US$ 71 billion towards the initiative. But to ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs, open source solutions are as important.
"Organizations worldwide have adopted innovative alternative solutions in order to optimise costs by exploring avenues of “Open Source Software”. GoI has also been promoting the use of open source technologies in the eGovernance domain within the country to leverage economic & strategic beneifts." "Government of India shall endeavour to adopt Open Source Software in all e-Governance systems as a preferred option in comparison to Closed Source Software (CSS)."The policy document titled "Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India" put forwaded by its Ministry of Communication & Information Technology has 3 key objectives:
A perfect summation of benefits I must admit. As stated in the document, it is not just about the cost-advantage. Open Source software solutions brings about qualities such as longevity and sustainability which can be very critical for massive initiatives such as Digital India. The government is currently working on creating an implementation mechanism for Open Source software that can be then replicated across the country.
- To provide a policy framework for rapid and effective adoption of OSS
- To ensure strategic control in e-Governance applications and systems from a long-term perspective.
- To reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of projects.
Further reading at opensource.com. Full policy document PDF can be found here (PDF). Also read how Turin saved millions of Euros by becoming the first Italian city to adopt Ubuntu and Open Office.
28 Jul 2015, 9:51 pm | Tech Drive-in
The most popular platform among C/C++ developers is Linux, according to a survey by Jetbrains, a company that makes a wide range of tools for developers. Linux commands a whopping 44 percent market share while Microsoft's Windows and Apple's iOS platforms control 39 and 17 percent market shares respectively.
Linux Preferred Platform Among C and C++ Developers, Says Survey
It is rather surprising to know that the platform least used by regular users is the most preferred platform among developers. May be these are the first signs of a major shift in OS usage patterns among the masses. The developers are slowly warming up to the advantages of Linux as a development platform. Some of the things that makes Linux generally superior to its compatriots is discussed here: Why is Linux faster than Windows?
Coming back to the survey, there are about 4.4 million C++ devs and 1.9 million C devs in the world. While C++ is among the top 5 preferred programming languages among developers, C is on par with Ruby grabbing the 8th most popular spot. C++ is relatively more popular than other languages and technologies in countries such as Russia, Germany, Finland, France, Hungary, Singapore, Finland, Israel and Czech Republic.
Also according to the survey, C++ is most used in industries such as Finance and Banking. More interesting statistics and detailed infographic can be found here.
28 Jul 2015, 2:34 pm | Tech Drive-in
KDE's Shashlik Project Intends to Bring Android Apps to Linux
Technically speaking, Linux forms just the Kernel, the heart of the operating system. When the Linux kernel combine with the GNU libraries and services, it becomes the complete operating system (GNU/Linux naming controversy arises from this reality). And that's how Android project is different.
Although Android uses Linux as its kernel, it comprises of an entirely different set of libraries and what-not to complete their made-for-mobile-devices operating system. This also means that, there is no way to run Android apps within conventional Linux OSes like Ubuntu or Fedora without using virtual machines and such.
KDE's Shashlik Project intends to change all that. Shashlik is a new application launcher that allows you to run Android apps on a GNU/Linux operating system. Basically, it is a 'collection of Android systems and frameworks as minimal as possible, built to run on a standard, modern Linux systems, using as much of the standard system as possible, and created to be Free/Libre from its inception. Shashlik is built to integrate into your existing system, whether it be a desktop, laptop, tablet.' This is good news especially for developers.
Shashlik Project is still in its infancy and the source is already available on GitHub. In reality though, smartphone apps may not be an ideal fit for regular desktops. But think about this. Ubuntu Touch OS for smartphones is already pretty robust and Shashlik will be able to bring the depth of Google's apps-store to it in theory. That could be a game changing development if it indeed works as good as everyone is hoping for. The Project was introduced to the public by its lead developer Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen during the annual KDE summit on 26th of July 2015.
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.