So, every now and then I get a new follower on here. But, I’m not actually posting here anymore. Please see all my content (and there’s a lot of new stuff since my last post here) at http://www.smdavis.us
See you there!
Open Source Spotlight — Pithos Pandora Client
Hey everyone! Today I am introducing a new segment on Open Source Software (OSS) called Open Source Spotlight (also OSS ;-) ). For my first entry in the OSS series, I am showing off Pithos, an excellent Linux-native open source application designed to bring Pandora to the desktop.
The interface is minimalistic and only does exactly what you want Pandora to do, stream music. To make it even better, it also allows for Last.fm scrobbling, media key support, Ubuntu Sound Menu integration, an (optional) system tray icon, and song notifications.
The biggest selling point was at one point that it avoided the flash website which meant less resources and better battery life. Pandora has since transitioned to HTML5 where available, but that doesn’t mean this program has lost its usefulness — song notifications and sound menu support are enough to make it awesome for me.
Again, Pithos is only available for Linux. If you’re running Ubuntu, you can find Pithos in the Ubuntu Software Center or easily install it with the PPA (Otherwise, instructions here):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kevin-mehall/pithos-daily sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install pithos
In consideration for Pandora, the developer does recommend “subscribing to Pandora One, or at the very least, clicking ads on pandora.com.” Really, that’s not so bad considering the amount of free content Pandora gives you.
Let me know what you think about Pithos, or if you’ve got other (legal) methods for streaming your music!
Every six months, the Ubuntu family of operating systems continues to mature and grow. On October 13, Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” came into the hands of millions with its diversified family. As expected, we saw new releases of each desktop variant — Ubuntu (Gnome/Unity), Edubuntu (Ubuntu for classrooms), Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (XFCE), and the newest member of the family, Lubuntu (LXDE). This is a particularly exciting release because it offers a number of new and updated technologies (and thus features) including a much-improved Unity interface and the latest and greatest Gnome/GTK3. Read on to learn more about this exciting release!
What’s New with Ubuntu
Ubuntu 11.10 brings with it a huge list of changes and improvements. Most notably are the improved Unity and Dash and Gnome 3, but there is oh so much more to see.
Ubuntu has never been known as the lightweight in the Linux arena, but that’s acceptable thanks to its alternative desktop offerings (Lubuntu and Xubuntu). However, most people easily meet the requirements:
One of the nicest things about Ubuntu is that it is so darn easy to install. If you’ve never installed Ubuntu (or even another operating system) before, check out my demo video. It is uncut and unedited, and Ubuntu installs in just over nine minutes — and yes, that’s fast.
When you first log in to Ubuntu, your desktop is a clean canvas with the Unity bar on the left and a single panel at the top. Clicking the Ubuntu icon will open the dash, which contains all of your applications and any lenses you have installed. By right-clicking on an application icon on the Unity bar, you can pin/unpin the application, as well as use any special application shortcuts.
The default behavior for the Unity bar is to autohide any time an application window enters its space, including maximized windows. I personally find this feature to be a blessing as it allows applications to enter a distraction-free mode and favors my productivity. However, if you’re not a fan of this, it can be easily configured by heading over to the Ubuntu Software Center and searching for “compizconfig”. Just use the Unity plugin to configure it, as well as other settings to make Unity yours.
A controversial change that was introduced with Gnome 3, as well as some Linux distributions like elementaryOS was the complete disabling of the desktop for file storage. While this promotes tidiness (files go into a proper folder structure), it steals others’ sanity. Ubuntu leaves the desktop enabled, so users have the option to store their current projects (and/or junk) on the desktop. After all, if you like your desktop to be clean, you don’t have to store your files there.
The Unity Interface
The Unity interface includes some of the best design elements seen in Mac OS X and Windows 7, as well as offering some unique Ubuntu features to make your life even easier. The major items are shown in the screenshot above.
All GTK and QT applications, as well as Firefox, Thunderbird, and Google Chrome have their application menus moved to the top panel, similar to Mac OS X. This feature is also available to LibreOffice by installing the package “lo-menubar”. This helps applications look cleaner and use less screen real estate, especially when maximized.
Overlay scrollbars are a design idea taken largely from mobile devices, and also seen in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, though Ubuntu implemented those first. Unfortunately, these are only available to GTK applications, so they’re unavailable in Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Google Chrome, and QT applications. If you would like to revert to the old style scrollbars, just remove the package “overlay-scrollbar”.
Unity Quicklists are a convenient shortcut to application shortcuts and can be customized. Just follow the links on this page.
Ubuntu “Light Themes” Ambiance & Radiance
I am a huge fan of Ubuntu’s Ambiance and Radiance themes. Ambiance is Ubuntu’s default, darker offering which really sets it apart from other operating systems. While consisting of a number of dark elements, it still manages to be usable and easy on the eyes. Radiance is the lighter version of Ambiance, using more of a cream-colored base for the system theme. I personally prefer Radiance over Ambiance, but you should make sure to check both out.
Conclusion & Links to Other Resources
Overall, I am immensely impressed by the work that the Ubuntu community has done with this release. Unity is turning out to be a powerful and efficient workspace that is useful at home and in the office. The design team has made strides in the theme and overall user experience. The default selection of applications is a set of quality and stable options. Most of all, Ubuntu 11.10 just feels “right”. It’s easy to use daily with no concerns for stability.
If you want to learn more about Ubuntu, check out some of these links. Join the worldwide community of Ubuntu users!
Above: My Linux Mint Debian Edition Desktop
Updates recently have been few and far between, and its largely because I can’t keep an Operating System on my laptop. What’s up with that?
As many of my friends know, I move to the next Ubuntu release at Beta 1. That time has come, and I immediately jumped into the release scramble. Typically, Ubuntu betas are pretty darn stable (ignore Unity). In the past, I’ve loaded up my Ubuntu release, cleared out the cruft, and ran with a pristine operating system.
Unfortunately, this time Unity (still) doesn’t work, Gnome 3 (Shell and Fallback) is horribly crippled by Ubuntu’s hackiness, and even Xubuntu was seeing some serious glitchiness (WHY?! — Don’t remind me its a beta)
Annoyed by a hacked around distribution, I decided to take another turn with Fedora 15. Fedora ships with default Gnome 3.0.1 and with a few tweaks can really be a great operating system. My only annoyance remained with the font rendering — the one hack that Ubuntu does right. There is a project which offers some tweaked packages that improve on font readability by Infinality, but it still wasn’t enough for me.
I wanted three things:
The Linux Mint team offers a solution to picky people such as myself: Linux Mint Debian Edition. This is a rolling release version of Linux Mint based on Debian Testing. The LMDE team created their own repository of fully tested packages to be released to users, guaranteeing both modern and stable packages.
Where LMDE falls short is the lack of Ubuntu’s Jockey Driver Finder/Installer program. At first installation, my Dell Latitude E6400 lacked graphics acceleration (NVIDIA Quadro NVS 160) and wireless (Broadcom 4315) drivers.
A powerful community is without a doubt where Linux Mint excels. I found tutorials for both in the forums. After following some very detailed instructions (NVIDIA, Wireless), I had a system running at 100%. Needless to say, I was pleased. Of course, I’ve only had LMDE installed for about 15 hours, so we’ll see how things go and if I am still content later this week. Stick around for some repeat information on getting these drivers installed, or see you next time!
Open up a root terminal (Menu -> Accessories -> Root Terminal), then type the following commands:
apt-get install nvidia-kernel-dkms nvidia-settings nvidia-xconfig
That’s all there is to it! Restart your computer and enjoy.
Broadcom STA Drivers on LMDE
Open up a Run window (ALT + F2) and enter ‘gksudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list’ and add the following:
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
Save this file, but don’t close it. We’ll come back to it shortly.
Open up a Root Terminal (Menu -> Accessories -> Root Terminal), then type the following commands:
apt-get install module-assistant wireless-tools
m-a a-i broadcom-sta
modprobe -r b44 b43 b43legacy ssb
Go back to your gedit window and remove the last line that you added to it. Then go back to your Root Terminal and issue another ‘apt-get update’.
That’ll do it! Restart your computer and go find some wireless access points!
Twenty years ago today, Linux took its first steps into the world, its father unknowing that it would one day power a multitude of devices, from network devices to cell phones to super computers. Join in on the celebration!
The 20th Anniversary of Linux - The Linux Foundation
20th Anniversary of Linux Gallery Tour - Linux.com
The history of Linux - The H Open Source: News and Features
Linux Turns 20 years Old Today - OMG! Ubuntu!
And the most unexpected birthday present, a video gift from Microsoft!
Canonical, the company behind the open source Linux distribution Ubuntu, has announced that Ubuntu One-the affordable cloud storage service has reached one million happy users. Since they reached this milestone back in May, I’m not a part of the 1 million, though I’m certainly a part of the happy million+1!
Honestly, I’m still using the service and have no complaints. The photos taken on my phone are automatically uploaded to my account and are easily accessible via my computers. The service is rock solid and integrates easily with the Unity and Unity-2D desktop interfaces.
The Ubuntu One Files application for Android.
Oh, and I might have forgotten to mention that with the one million user celebration, the 2GB Ubuntu One Basic service has been upgraded the the even more attractive 5GB Ubuntu One Free. Ahhhh, freedom.
Sources: Ubuntu One celebrates 1 million users - The H Open Source, A big thanks to our 1 million users: have some storage on us! - Ubuntu One Blog
With all the recent news about Dropbox, I decided to take a look at one open source solution that I have neglected for a while. It was time for me to consider Ubuntu One as a possible candidate for my cloud data needs.
Now, I’ve been a big proponent of Dropbox for years, practically since it was first released. And I’ve tested Ubuntu One several times. Each time finding myself wholely dissatisfied at the service. This time I decided to give it another shot, and to enhance it with some additional (and necessary) tools.
The following graph shows a quick comparison between Dropbox and Ubuntu One.
For more cloud syncing services, check out a recent article by Lifehacker.
Since I am primarily a Linux user, I don’t have much need for multiple operating system support. Additionally, since I use only Android-based devices, I don’t have much need for multiple device support either. I realize this is a tight niche for most individuals, but there are plenty of hardcore Linux freaks (meant in a good way, of course).
All is well in the world, Dropbox is fully synchronized.
Dropbox has been around for a short while, though longer than its competition. In its lifespan, the developers have introduced an efficient algorithm for data deduplication and delta encoding technology, resulting in reduced bandwidth and quickened file updates. In each operating system, Dropbox has a minimalistic tray icon that handles the notifications and configuration of your cloud data.
If you want additional space but don’t want to pay for it, Dropbox allows you to refer others to its service, boosting your box size 250 MB for each referral, up to a total of 8 additional GB of space.
Ubuntu One-only Features
The Ubuntu One Control Panel. Simply choose the folders to be synchronized and let the magic happen.
Ubuntu One offers a complete solution for synchronizing your data in Ubuntu. It ties into your home directory, the file manager itself, the default email client, and the default notes application with minimal configuration. By default, the user is prompted to select the folders to be synchronized with each computer, saving the precious space on their netbooks.
Similarities Between the Two Services
Encryption: Both services encrypt data transmission but store files both locally and on their servers unencrypted. This is largely a requirement to ensure that your files can be shared with others when you want to share them. Encryption keys for the synchronization are stored on the servers, which can be troublesome should something happen. Along with a number of articles, both services recommend either not synchronizing sensitive material, or encrypting it yourself beforehand. LifeHacker has a handy guide on adding your own encrpytion here.
Web Interface: Both services offer a web interface so you can access your files on the go, from any computer. I personally like the Ubuntu One web interface better. It separates items more effectively and the dashboard offers news and suggestions on how you can become involved in the project.
Convincing Arguments to Consider Ubuntu One
Ubuntu One’s Glaring Oversight, and How to Fix It
A perfect replacement for the Dropbox icon: UbuntuOne-Indicator.
What’s the biggest feature that Dropbox has and Ubuntu One does not? A system tray icon. For Dropbox, this is your constant indicator of your backup status. It shows when your backup is in progress or when there is a problem that needs your attention. When you click on the item, you get more information, including the files being synchronized or any status messages. Ubuntu One, on the other hand, offers a Control Panel and no visible idea of what specifically is happening.
You can easily enable add this nifty feature to Ubuntu One, using a PPA by Roman Yepishev. Just copy and paste the following into a terminal, then start the application from the menu:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:rye/ubuntuone-extras
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntuone-indicator
Once you’ve run the program once, you’ll feel right at home every time you start your computer. Your data will start synchronizing, and you can feel secure that you won’t fall victim to data loss.
I hope this post proved to be somewhat insightful. Well, what are you waiting for? Give Ubuntu One a chance, maybe you’ll like it so much you won’t look back!
Welcome to my new blog, TechnoCloud!
I will primarily be using this blog to write about different technologies as I encounter and compare them. I will share my experiences with each and show how to get the best out of your software (be it installed locally, or on the cloud).
I’m already putting together some new material, here’s what to expect!
I hope you find this blog both interesting and informative.
Thanks for reading,