Aug 30, 2009

Marking Threads as Solved on the Ubuntu Forums

The feature had been deactivated due to database corruptions issues with the plugin. After the devs rewrote the code, ubuntu-geek made it available again. You’ll find it under the Thread Tools menu. You can only mark your own threads as solved. The action can be reverted and the thread marked as unsolved.


Aug 29, 2009

Top 10 Open Source Hall of Famers

Inforworld have been looking at the many thousands of open source projects that exist to find out which ten are the most important ones in the world.

The Open Source Hall of Famers is created in connection with Inforworld's annual designation of the best open source applications for business, published on Monday.

In first place we find Linux, which has been one of the greatest drivers in the promotion of open source. Linux is followed by the GNU tools and compilers in second place.

In the remaining seats you will find projects such as BIND, Apache, Samba, and the three BSD releases. Follow the link to read a detailed explanation of each project location, or see an overview here.


Aug 28, 2009

Skype 2.1 Beta for Linux

The new beta version of Skype for Linux brings extra features and better sound and video quality. What still lacks behind is the UI, which was redone for Mac and Windows a while back.

What's new:
◦ Skype's SILK codec for outstanding sound quality
◦ High Quality Video
◦ PulseAudio
◦ Send SMS messages
◦ Organise your contacts with contact groups
◦ Improvements to chat (typing indicator, new emoticons and message editing)

Grab it here:

You can also follow the development of Skype for Linux here:

Aug 25, 2009

Boot Time: Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 4 vs. Windows 7 RC

I know, I know, there's a miliard videos comparing boot time out there, and this one is no different. In the following video you can see two computers with the exact same specifications booting Windows 7 Release Candidate and Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Alpha 4.

Have You Ever Visited The Ubuntu Museum?

Dustin Kirkland shows that it doesn't take heaps of cash and government funding to open a museum. All by himself he opened one exclusively for Ubuntu.

The Ubuntu Museum consists of a webpage that displays Ubuntu versions since the beginning years of the software. The museum has a collection of screenshots (png) of the various Ubuntu releases, from the very first Warty Warthog through Jaunty Jackalope. To the right of the screenshots are links to the boot sequences (mpeg) for each release.

Still further to the right on the webpage are the download links for the Ubuntu versions to bring them to life again in a virtual machine (bzip2, qcow2). These are the desktop versions inclusive of all updates, although only the unsupported versions can be downloaded.

Kirkland came up with the idea of a museum while regression testing the virtualization stack for Ubuntu's KVM package, according to his blog. He and Jamie Strandboge "kicked around" the idea of "Linux museums" six months ago, Strandboge having since branched off to found yet another virtual museum called the Debian Archives.

"I find some strange satisfaction," says Kirkland, "hitting a few old, memorable bugs and then thinking 'boy, am I glad we fixed that!'." He is also pleased with the improved Ubuntu startup and shutdown times over the years.

Hopefully some of you will enjoy this trip down memory lane and perhaps learn something too!


Aug 24, 2009

Olivia Galbraith's Wallpaper Artwork

From the left: Warty Warthog, Hoary Hedgehog, Breezy Badger, Dapper Drake, Edgy Eft, Feisty Fawn, Gutsy Gibbon, Hardy Heron, Intrepid Ibex, Jaunty Jackalope, Karmic Koala.
Olivia Galbraith has created this amusing image showing all of the previously used Ubuntu mascots (release code names), in order of release, from Warty Warthog up to the latest Karmic Koala. The image is uploaded as a suggestion for the (abstract artwork) "extra backgrounds package". All mascots are shown as stuffed animals. What a funny idea!


Kupfer Launches Linux Files and Applications Quickly

If the graphical demands of Linux launchers GNOME-Do or AWN are too much for your needs, Kupfer might be a perfect fit. It works in a similar fashion, but uses only spare resources to do so.

Kupfer doesn't require compositing abilities from your Linux desktop, so any graphics card and most any GNOME-based desktop can get it up and running. Its basic functionality is similar, though—hit your Kupfer shortcut (Ctrl+Space by default), type the first few letters of a file, folder, or application you're looking to run or open, and Kupfer opens a two-panel window. The left-hand pane shows a result, while the right-hand spot lets you run, open, delete, "favorite," or otherwise manipulate the file. Like AWN and GNOME-Do, Kupfer is powered by plug-ins, which roll in as developers catch on.

Kupfer requires a semi-manual install, detailed at the Lazy Ubuntu via link. It asks for, and requests, an uncommon Python package called keybindings, but a link explaining how to manually set a keyboard shortcut for Kupfer can be found at Kupfer's main page. It's a free download for Linux systems only.

Get it here...

Sneak Peak On Firefox Multitouch Events

Felipe Gomes demonstrates in his latest blogpost the progress of multitouch support for Firefox, and here’s a video which showcases some possible interactions and use cases for what web pages and webapps can do with a multitouch device.

Felipe writes:
We’re working on exposing the multitouch data from the system to regular web pages through DOM Events, and all of these demos are built on top of that. They are simple html pages that receives events for each touch point and use them to build a custom multitouch experience.

We’ll also add CSS support to detect touchscreen devices. Using the pseudo-selector :-moz-system-metric(touch-enabled), you can apply specific styles for your page only if it’s viewed by a touchscreen user. That, along with physical CSS units (cm or in), makes it possible to adjust your webapp for a touchscreen experience.

Check out a short video with the demos in action (.ogg), .mp4 and some screenshots for reference (I added some marks to the images showing where the contact points are).

Read the entire post here...


Aug 22, 2009

Karmic Koala Status

We're approaching Feature Freeze and the initial code drop of new artwork for the Ubuntu 9.10. We've already passed four milestones, but there's still lots of cool stuff to look forward to.

Right now the art team / DX team at Canonical is working hard on creating a slick boot experience. As mentioned earlier, they have already proposed several different look-and-feel ideas for the boot and GDM. I'm convinced that we haven't seen their last proposal yet. The very talented Mr.Doob has been posting some extremely beautiful ideas on the Karmic Boot Experience wiki and I do believe he has been talking to the people at Canonical. Recently he posted a rather colorful idea that received some mixed feedback. Mr.Doob's latest iteration is more in style with the colors of Ubuntu - as you can see below.

Amongst the few things that has been deferred or dropped for this release is the support for installing updates on shutdown. Sadly the DX team does not have the time nor resources to implement this for 9.10 and so it has been deferred from Karmic by the Foundations team.

Karmic will introduce a single graphical interface for package management, currently codenamed AppCenter. The implementation has been divided into four phases, with the first dump landing in Karmic (then April 2010, October 2010, April 2011). For October 2009, there are four major goals:

1. Include in Ubuntu 9.10 a simple and fun interface for finding, installing, and removing software.
2. Increase use of apt: links by Ubuntu enthusiasts, software projects, and ISVs, replacing terminal commands or standalone downloads.
3. Fine-tune the interface presented when software updates are available.
4. Establish a system within Launchpad for registered users to suggest a better description, category, keywords, and/or screenshot for a software package, and for the package maintainer to incorporate those changes into a new version of the package, so that end users can find the software more easily later.

Due to the kernel update and EXT4 by default Karmic is already faster than Jaunty (Phoronix has benchmarks) and the work to reduce the time to boot the operating system will continue across both the 9.10 and 10.04 development cycles. The new boot performance target is a 10s boot for Ubuntu 10.04. Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) will attempt to step as much in this direction as possible, but is not expected to reach the target.

On the there has been a healthy discussion about the Ubiquity slideshow I blogged about a while ago. Join the fun here...

The Migration Assistant will be redesigned and removed from the Ubiquity installer - a decision the will degrade the user experience in my opinion. The migration functionality will be moved into its own application under System -> Administration -> Migration Assistant. It will also been updated to import from the more sources.

Lately the new notification system has also been recieveing almost weekly updates. Compared to the version in Jaunty, the notification system will be improved, optimized and introduce new features in Karmic. MacSlow (Mirco Müller), who is writting the code, has change-logs for each release on his blog.

I am also very exited to see what will happen with the wallpaper in this release. Will this be the first version of Ubuntu to include a photograph as default desktop wallpaper or will the collection of beautiful desktop backgrounds get tucked away in a package somewhere?

Karmic is looking awesome! So, let me end this post with these (somewhat miscolored) words:

Aug 21, 2009

Looking for Linux Compatible Hardware?

The news site Phoronix, has announced that they are considering setting up an Internet shop to help people with shopping for Linux compatible hardware and computer parts that are open-source friendly. This will be a Linux store running in conjunction with and their associates program.

This Phoronix shop would allow individuals to easily find hardware that will run with modern desktop Linux distributions along with computer hardware that does or does not require the use of binary drivers and also hardware that has been tested at Phoronix or where there are performance numbers available through Phoronix Global.
You can think of it as a donation - every time you buy something though their store, they will earn up to 15% in referrals, but you will pay the same price as you would directly from Amazon.

I know the Linux Action Show has a similar Amazon store where you can buy the equipment they use to record the show. With Phoronix providing lots of in-depth review, news and tests this would be a fantastic addition.


Aug 20, 2009

Linux Development Thrives - 130 Patches Every Day

Perhaps you've read my post "Manufacturers are Requesting Linux Drivers", but now there's a more in-depth and very interesting report. The newly published report by the Linux Foundation provides insight into the growth of the Linux kernel development community. It reveals that the entire code base has grown by 2.7 million lines over the past year while an average of 5.45 patches are accepted every hour, which is over 130 patches every day. The average kernel development cycle currently runs for 81 days - just under twelve weeks. A good geeky read.

You can download the report from the Linux Foundation website.


Aug 18, 2009


The amount of digital appliances and media found in domestic environments has risen drastically over the last decade, for example, digital TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players, digital picture frames, digital gaming systems, electronically moveable window blinds, and robotic vacuum cleaners. As these devices become more compatible to Internet and wireless networking (e.g. Internet-ready TVs, streaming digital picture frames, and WiFi gaming systems, such as Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s Playstation) and as networking and WiFi home infrastructures become more prevalent, new opportunities arise for developing centralized control of these myriad devices and media into so called “Universal remote controls”. However, many remote controls lack intuitive interfaces for mapping control functions to the device intended being controlled. This often results in trial and error button pressing, or experimentation with graphical user interface (GUI) controls, before a user achieves their intended action.

To address this issue, CRISTAL (Control of Remotely Interfaced Systems using Touch-based Actions in Living spaces) was developed. CRISTAL simplifies the control of our digital devices in and around the living room. The system provides a novel experience for controlling devices in a home environment by enabling users to directly interact with those devices on a live video image of their living room using multi-touch gestures on a digital tabletop. Fantastic idea, but sadly it does not run Linux, but Microsoft Surface software.

Third Look&Feel Proposal For Boot And GDM Theme

As a followup on my post Proposed look-and-feel for boot and gdm theme, I just wanted to let you know that a third proposal has been uploaded. At a first glance it looks like only the color was changed. When you look closely you'll see the small enhancements like glow, borders, etc. the Canonical artteam has changed since the first demo.

Besides the small changes in the details, I think Canonical will stick with this design without any radically changes. I've really got nothing against brown, but this third demo is really brown, but honestly I was hoping for some more colorful proposal. I even submitted a few mockups to the Karmic Boot Experience wiki. So, I guess the best way to express my assessment can be summed up with one sentence: "close but no cigar".

View all the Canonical's mockups for this third demo here:
Ubuntu Karmic boot demo and proposed GDM theme – Iteration 3

Aug 17, 2009

Danish Satellite Providers In GPL/LGPL Violation

I live in Denmark where the GPL/LGPL violation case against the satellite and cable boxes from Viasat, Yousee and Stofa is ongoing.

The number of satellite and cable boxes on the Danish market using Linux has significantly increased during the last couple of years. The providers Viasat, Yousee and Stofa all provide HD receivers based on Linux, and all of them fail to provide the source code or make customers aware of the fact that the units are based on GPL licensed software. You can follow the case here."

Open Source people are by nature not a group who want or need to carry out lengthy cases. In other industries, there are different ways to conduct business and tries to push every single dollar out of its licenses, but this is all about free software.

If you read and understand Danish, read the Comon article here...

Source: Slashdot

A New GNOME Control Center?

I love all the UI work and clean-up that is going on in the Linux world at the moment. Whenever a new application get's written, the UI is carefully thought through.

Recently F-Spot recieved some UI love, GIMP 2.8 is planed to introduce many user-interface improvements, new Banshee is getting a clutter based Netbook-focused interface and just today I came across a proposal for a new GNOME control center working on the preferences menus.
Without even compareing the Gnome preferences menus to the Windows Vista or Windows 7 control center, everyone will agree that the Gnome preferences menus is an unfriendly mess.

A design effort at Sun led by Kristin Travis and Jenya Gestrin has been working to 'advance' the preferences menus. Their goal is to show how the current preferences menus could change to a more simpler and direct launcher and it is looking very slick.

There's a Flash prototype (2.37 MB) showing some of the variations that were considered along the way.


Manufacturers are Requesting Linux Drivers

It is now long ago that Linux went from being a hobby project to be a serious operating system used by businesses mainly on servers. Many hardware manufacturers want to focus more on Linux and the marks of the Linux Driver Project.

"Linux Driver Project" is a team of some 400 programmers and developers, which as the name suggests, makes drivers for Linux. Chief Developer is Greg Kroah-Hartman of Novell reports that they regularly receive requests from companies wishing to make a driver so that their hardware works in Linux.

Just two years ago the team had difficulty finding something to do, and several thought that it was due to reluctance by businesses. Today Kroah-Hartman describes the "problem" as solved or as Zdnet writes "Linux moving into the driver's seat".


Shuttleworth Offers Canonical Employees to Debian

If you didn't already know, Debian had announced a new release schedule; a freeze during December, a release some time in the first half of the following year. After outcries from the Debian community, the December freeze aspect of the plan was reversed. Since most of the ire about this situation seemed to be directed towards Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth decided to step in and offer to put several Canonical employees to work on Debian instead of Ubuntu.

A lot of the ire within the Debian community about the release cycle decision seems to stem from a "Ubuntu vs. Debian" mentality that only works to the detriment of both projects. In an email to the debian-project mailing list, Shuttleworth detailed why coordinating releases between not only Debian and Ubuntu, but also upstream and other distributions, can only work to better the Linux ecosystem.

"We're already seeing a growing trend towards cadence in free software, which I think is a wonderful move. Here, we are talking about elevating that to something that the world has never seen in proprietary software (and never will) - an entire industry collaborating. Collaboration is the primary tool we have in our battle with proprietary software, we should take the opportunities that present themselves to make that collaboration easier and more effective."

In order to meet the upcoming December freeze, Shuttleworth is willing to commit several Ubuntu developers to the Debian project. "If the Debian community is willing to consider a December freeze, then Ubuntu (and Canonical) will commit resources to help Debian meet that goal," he writes, "It means we'll get less done in Ubuntu, but the benefits of having a schedule which could attract many other distributions would outweigh that." He believes other distributions will join the December freeze. He added that if the December freeze is not possible, he's also willing to disrupt Ubuntu's release cycle to make it all work better - but he won't commit to both developers and a change in cycle.

He closes his long email by adding:
"This is a good faith offer of help and support in order to reach a tough but noble and achievable goal. It won't be easy, the first time or the next, but it will kickstart a process that will bring dividends to Debian, and to the whole broader ecosystem. Ask upstreams what they think, and whether they would want to participate, and you'll hear a very positive response."

I think this is indeed a golden opportunity for the Linux world to show that by being open, they can collaborate openly to make not only the lives of users easier, but also of distributors and upstream developers. A release cadence is a great idea that fits the Linux world well, and will improve the experience for all involved.


Aug 16, 2009

Open Source Resources For Web Developers

I recently came across WebAppers, which is a blog dedicated to quality open source resources for web developer and web designer. The site has a lot of free icons, stock photos, brushes, fonts and design inspirations. As a web developer, you’ll also find Javascript and Ajax components like modal windows, menus, galleries, tooltips, charts, calendars plugins and a lot more…

All of the open source resources are categorized into different type of licenses, Creative Commons, BSD, GPL, LGPL, MIT and License Free, so that you can easily pick the most suitable resources for your projects according to the nature of your projects.

Lot's of good stuff. Check it out here...


Compiz Approaching 0.9 Beta

Sam Spilsbury (a.k.a smspillaz) announced yesterday that the much beloved Compiz is now very close to a 0.9 Beta in terms of functionality. About 80% of the Compiz 0.8 plugins have been ported in some form to Compiz++ although some plugins are currently broken in some way which makes them unusable. Some of the larger plugins have not yet been ported. As implied by the name, Compiz++ is no longer written in C, but its core has been recoded in C++. Rewriting Compiz in C++ allows for smart functions, easier and smarter private systems, easier initialization and clean-up, and there are numerous other advantages. Developers will be posting what they have been working on within the next few days. Here's a list of the work that still needs to be done:

  • Desktop Cube
  • Rotate Cube
  • DBUS
  • Video

  • Colorfilter
  • EZoom (which I am working on right now)
  • Group (This one is a bit of a hotcake)
  • Ring
  • Shift
  • Session
  • Workarounds

  • Bicubic filtering
  • Stackswitch
  • Firepaint
  • Showmouse
  • Animation Addons

    Pretty much everything else is almost done or has bugs, unless specified above. I have no idea what the Compiz roadmap looks like towards version 1.0, but let's hope it will be ready for Karmic+1 (Ubuntu 10.04). For now I'm very much looking forward to the next Compiz release.
  • Aug 12, 2009

    Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1

    Lovers of bleeding-edge browsers, rejoice: the first alpha of Firefox 3.6, code-named Namoroka, is available for download. The final release is targeted for early-to-mid 2010. Grab it to check out JavaScript improvements, startup time speed-ups, visual tab previews and behavior tweaks, and other changes.

    Namoroka / Gecko 1.9.2 Alpha 1 introduces several new features:

    * Compositor (Phase 1), which moves Gecko to using one native widget per top-level content document. See this blog post or bug 374980 for more details.
    * A new focus model, described here and tracked in bug 178324
    * The chromedir attribute has been replaced with a pseudoclass
    * Several new CSS3 properties including background size and gradients for background images
    * Speed improvements to the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine
    * Startup and responsiveness improvements throughout the application

    The startup time and JavaScript improvements are, like most of the changes listed for this alpha, under the hood and only slightly noticeable to the average user. The Mozilla Links blog points out, however, that visual tab previews, proposed for Firefox 3.0, then again for 3.1/3.5, are finally here—they're just hidden behind an about:config tweak. To bring them to life, open about:config in a tab, type in browser.ctrlTab.previews, then set that value to true and hit Ctrl+Tab to activate it. If you want Firefox to open the last used tab when you hit Ctrl+Tab, set browser.ctrlTab.mostRecentlyUsed to true as well.

    More info:

    Aug 11, 2009

    Did you know...

    I just came across this video about how quickly the technological development is happening.
    Interesting, but also kind of scary.

    Our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster and better widgets and thingamabobs, will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks. Geekdad has compiled a list with 100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About

    Aug 10, 2009

    Proposed Look&Feel for boot and GDM theme

    Today Mat Tomaszewski posted this message on the Ubuntu-art mailinglist:


    Not so long ago we announced the revamp of boot and login experiences in Ubuntu and received a great response from the Artwork Team, with many interesting concepts being submitted. Thanks again for all your hard work.

    The deadline approaches fast and the time is now to make final decisions. We have just returned from the Platform Sprint in Dublin, where folks directly responsible for making Ubuntu release happen on time have gathered. The design team's role was to propose final concepts, communicate them to the developers and make sure they can be implemented on time. We have received a lot of valuable feedback and revised our proposals accordingly.

    The initial assumptions, however, remain unchanged. The Foundations Team's goal is to start the X server as fast as possible (3-4 seconds on a reference machine) and therefore, Usplash will not be used in most cases. A new splash screen (Xsplash) will be developed on top of the X server and enable a smooth transition into the GDM and the user session.

    The latest designs can be viewed here:
    We're looking forward to your feedback!

    Many thanks,

    Contributors: Otto Greenslade, Mat Tomaszewski, Mark Shuttleworth, Michael Forrest, Kenneth Wimer

    Aug 7, 2009

    More Animations...

    I've created a few new animations.

    The text could be better in this first one, so suggestion are very welcome. Perhaps I should replace the cold blue color with something more Ubuntu style, like orange or yellow?
    You can't really see that the words dissolve into letters because of the low resolution and compression :-(

    Here's yet another video with absolutely no purpose at all. Just messing around with some plugin effects.

    The last one is actually a mockup of the new design for the Ubiquity slideshow, (read more in my previous blogpost) that hopefully will land in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. I must stress that this is NOT how the final slideshow will look. Again the resolution and compression makes it look a little dull. More info about the project here:

    Aug 2, 2009

    Ubiquity Slideshow for Ubuntu

    I've been working on graphics for a slideshow in ubiquity. Actually, I've done that before, but this time it isn't just mockups.

    Dylan McCall has been working very hard on this project and after posting my mockups on the mailinglist, he created a Bazaar branch titled madsrh-layout.

    Steve Dodier (SiDi) help me with the code for my mockup and took on the two complex tasks of rewriting the code and explaining it all to me - thanks.

    This project will have to be ready before feature-freeze. If it gets approved hopefully it will land in Ubuntu 9.10. Of course this work will also have to match the look and feel the design team at Canonical is working towards.

    More mockups here: