Oct 31, 2009

The Shimmer Project Makes Open Source Beautiful

I'm happy to announce that I've now joined the newly created Shimmer Project. Pasi Lallinaho (knome) founded the project to make everything Open Source beautiful. We will not be tied with any particular project even if we work with them. You could think us of as freelancers of the Free Software world with the exception that we don’t ask for any money but only work for the projects and things we have passion for. The Shimmer team will try to contribute to various fields of FOSS projects, including artwork, GUI design, usability, desktop integration, et cetera.

When Pasi Lallinaho first announced the project on the Xubuntu Developer mailinglist he wrote:
...The reasoning behind setting up a separate group rose from my and Steves disappointment in the somewhat cold and dismissing acts of the DX (Desktop Experience) team, which lead us to do more and more work to fix things that we hadn't broken. We feel really bad that Canonical is making design decisions with only GNOME in scope and don't want to handle with fixing (in our opinion) their design flaws. Yet another thing that clearly became a burden too big is the Canonical half-yearly release schedule. With our new project we will be free of any other than our own schedules...

Our IRC channel is #shimmer on freenode. All of you are welcome to join us. Besides Pasi Lallinaho, the team consists of Steve Dodier, James Schriver, Simon Steinbeiß and myself. A hardcore team and I'm honored to have been invited to join them.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what this project will bring to the Free Software world.


Oct 30, 2009

Please Tell Me About Packaging...

Call me ignorant, but there's a lot of things below the surface of Linux, which I know absolutely nothing about. I'm wondering why distributions, or at least the large ones, haven't standardize packaging. Can you tell me?

What I do know
Linux package formats are the different file formats used to package software for various Linux distributions.
A software package refers to computer software packaged in an archive format to be installed by a package management system or a self-sufficient installer.
Linux distributions are normally segmented into packages. Each package contains a specific application or service.
from Wikipedia

Whether it is Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, OpenSuse, PCLinuxOS, Gentoo we need different packages for each distribution. And because different distributions needs different packages and formats, there's a lot of lost effort. Many people are duplicating the packaging effort, when we could be so much more efficient.
The current state of packaging is a setback for the distributions, the developers and the users.
You could of course argue that this situation is not a problem for the experienced Linux users — they might
choose to install directly from source code or at least make decisions about the best way of installing the software themselves. However, for a newcomer in the GNU/Linux world, this situation is pretty confusing.

What I don't understand
I agree that diversity is good, but the waisted effort in this format war just seems insane. If just some of the largest distributions would get together and standardize on one of the current formats, like .Deb or .RPM. But, really, it doesn't matter - just choose one and everyone just use it!
Are we stuck because developers can’t agree on which format is the superior one? Would it be possible to start over, in a joint effort to create a new format with all the capabilities?

I know Linux Standard Base have tried to solve these challenges, but at the moment LSB just looks like a stranded whale. If every distribution could utilize the same packages - that would be amazing!
I can of course understand that the transition from one format to another would require a huge amount of work, but I think it would be worth it in the end.

Feel free to enlighten me :-)

UPDATE: When the question ’should we put your advocacy weight behind one distro?' was asked at OggCamp 2009, the conversation also covered packaging!

Oct 29, 2009

Save Bandwidth And Time Downloading Ubuntu 9.10

Today is the day of the Karmic Koala - also known as Ubuntu 9.10.

Can can with success use .torrent files for downloading the final version of Ubuntu 9.10. This way you can download the latest image without affecting the main server or any of the mirrors.


You can also use zsync to save your bandwidth and time while you download the final version of the karmic koala.

zsync is a file transfer program similar to rsync. zsync is optimized for distribution of files across Internet, with one file on a server to be distributed to thousands of down loaders.

zsync -i yourexisting.iso http://final.iso.zsync

If you haven't got zsync installed, just type:

sudo apt-get install zsync

Happy downloading and congrats to everyone that has contributed to the Karmic Koala release, including everybody in GNOME, KDE, Xorg, Ubuntu and Canonical!.

Read the official release announcement here: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2009-October/000127.html

Post Your Artwork Submissions And Concepts For Ubuntu 10.04

As with every release of Ubuntu (..., Hardy, Intrepid, Jaunty, Karmic), there's a wiki page for incoming artwork submissions and concepts (themes, icons, etc.). On the wiki you can post your artwork submissions and concepts for the Ubuntu release planned for April, 2010, nicknamed Lucid Lynx. The first submission has already been made to the Lucid Lynx artwork wiki.

During the Karmic cycle, you could submit background and wallpaper suggestions both on the wiki and on Flickr. This was the first time Flickr was used as a supplement to the wiki. It was a huge success with over 2000 submissions! With the restriction of disk space, only 19 of the fabulous wallpapers made it onto the final Ubuntu 9.10 CD. If your favourite isn’t on the CD it will be made available as a separate package!

For Lucid Lynx no wallpapers can be submited on the wiki to avoid having submissions in two separate places. You must join the Flickr Ubuntu Artwork group if you would like to offer Wallpapers for Ubuntu.
Because there's shortcomings to both using the wiki or Flickr, there has been thoughts about creating a special site for artwork submissions. The discussion also brought up the question of how to make it easier for people to select wallpapers directly from the pool.

Oct 28, 2009

Andrew Thomas says 'Ubuntu is still rubbish'

I just read Andrew Thomas' "review" of Ubuntu 9.10 and I must say...WTF!
It seems to me that these days anyone can become a tech journalist.

 Andrew Thomas writes: 

...Linux is like a really ugly baby: only its mother could possibly love it. So, yet again, it's a case of not even close and definitely no cigar.

Source:  http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/44443/140/

Oct 27, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 Feature Tour

The feature tour website for Ubuntu 9.10 is up: http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/910features/

The White House switches to Open Source

The White House website has now moved over to an Open Source platform to make the system more robust and more secure - and more open. The President's website is now using Red Hat Linux as operating system and the classic combination of Apache web server and MySQL database. The system also uses the Apache Solr search engine and the JavaScript library jQuery. The PHP-based Drupal has been chosen as the CMS.

The White House website has not changed its appearance - all the changes has happened below the surface. The switch to Open Source is not just about technology. In an interview with the Huffington Post it is implied that the administration also wants to send a message of openness and transparency by switching to Open Source.

Source: http://techpresident.com/blog-entry/whitehousegov-goes-drupal

Oct 26, 2009

What can we expect from 10.04 - Lucid Lynx?

DIGG this Although Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) isn't out the door yet, let's take a look at what's coming in Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx).

What do we know?
Well, not very much at the moment, but that will all change next month. In November, Ubuntu developers from around the world will gather to help shape and scope the next release of Ubuntu at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Dallas. At UDS it will be decided what the developers will be working on over the next six months, and as a result, what we'll be seeing in the next versions of Ubuntu. However, until UDS arrives let’s see what we can predict at this time.

LTS release

Ubuntu 10.04 will be Ubuntu’s third long-term support (LTS) release, coming, as promised, two years after 8.04, the last LTS release. With security updates available for five years for servers and three years for desktops. The enhanced stability and longer lifecycle of LTS releases make them appealing to hardware makers and organizations that are rolling out large Ubuntu deployments. With the increased focus on stability, this also means that there won’t be a long list of new features.

No new interface
If you’re waiting for Gnome 3 to arrive, don’t hold your breath – at least not as default. Ubuntu 10.04 will use Gnome 2.x as its desktop environment, with the focus to shift to Gnome 3.0 thereafter.  This means the user interface won’t look very different from previous releases. It is of course to be expected that Gnome 3 will have a lot of rough edges at its birth, which again doesn’t make it ideal in a LST release. The Gnome shell will be available for installation though, should you want to take it for a test drive. Overall, a wise decision.

The upcoming Gnome 3 that is to be released early 2010, can already be tested in an early stage in Ubuntu 9.10. If you want to test the Gnome Shell, install the package "gnome-shell", open a terminal and enter the command "gnome-shell --replace&".

Gnome Shell
With Ubuntu 9.10 things has started to look really good. Michael Forrest, the Canonical Design Team GUI prototyping guy, explains on his blog that we must remember that this is work in progress and I’m sure they won’t let us down. Michael writes: “There is a lot of work to do on a million other aspects of Ubuntu so I hope people won't get fixated on things like the default desktop too much - these are matters of taste and there are no correct answers - you have to trust that we have a long-term vision and that decisions are made to move things in a certain direction. We don't think you'll be disappointed when things really start to come through over the next few releases.”

Boot speed has been a hot topic for a long time now and Ubuntu has come a long way in the last few releases. For Ubuntu 10.04 the target boot speed is 10 seconds! The reference platform for this target is a Dell Mini 9 netbook with a slow CPU and fast SSD that makes it an excellent "middle of the road" machine.  Some people's machines will be slower, some will be faster.

There’s also a plan to improve the speed on the installation process. Currently when installing packages in Ubuntu the download is a separate step from the unpack/configure. Ubuntu will be able to install package faster by doing downloads and installs in parallel. While downloading the cpu and disk are mostly idle. While installing the network is idle. Doing them in parallel is a good way to utilize both systems.

Under the hood Ubuntu 10.04 will also be switching to using a swap file, instead of a separate partition. This will allow on-the-fly resizing.

Boot experience
In Ubuntu 9.10 the boot experience went through intensive surgery and came out with a much improved look and feel. We will be seeing more improvements in this area in 10.04.
On shutdown will we have the option to install updates. This feature was planned for 9.10, but deferred.
 A graphical OS selector is planned for switching (rebooting) between two or more operative systems. The preferred version of the graphical OS selector will have easily recognizable logos for the installed OSs. This will require a lot of work and might not actually land in 10.04.

Ubuntu Software Center
One of the biggest features that were introduced in 9.10 was the Software Centre. With a simple design it can be used to install and remove software packages and to add repositories for finding, installing and managing new applications. In Ubuntu 10.04 the Software Center will expanded its features and will replace Synaptic, Software Sources, Gdebi and (if appropriate) Update Manager.

Mark Shuttleworth's announcement
Attendees at Atlanta Linux Fest's breakout session Ubuntucon were among the first to hear the Lucid Lynx announcement straight from Mark Shuttleworth himself.

What does it all mean
All over Ubuntu 10.04 is looking to be an amazing release!

 DIGG this 

Oct 23, 2009

Creating Marketing Material

I've been working on a Danish leaflet/flyer/brochure for the Danish release party. I've used the Ubuntu Leaflet as base, and changed the colors to fit Karmic.

Here's the (original) Ubuntu Leaflet:

For the Karmic Koala release party we (the Danish Ubuntu community) will be doing something a little different. This time we want to try to reach out to people who have never heard of Ubuntu before.
On Saturday 14th November 2009, we’ll set up a handful of delicious laptops in the shopping mall Bruuns Galleri in Aarhus. By each table, one or two people from our group will demonstrate and talk about Ubuntu. We'll hand out free CDs and a Danish version of the Ubuntu leaflet for those who might be interested.
Afterwards we'll do something more relaxed, community minded and probability more geeky in cooperation with Østjyllands Linux-usergroup øjlug.

The text for the Danish leaflet has been translated, edited and written by members from the Danish community. To do this in the most effective way we created a wiki page for easy management. I'm planning to add this brochure to SpreadUbuntu.
Here's a preview of the Danish version (still only a draft):

You can also grab a higher resolution version .PDF here: http://wiki.ubuntu-dk.org/Marketing/brochure

Apple ridiculing the Windows 7 release

It seems hardly a surprise that Apple, in connection with Microsoft's launch of Windows 7, has sent a new "Get a Mac" advertising on the street, making a mockery of the new operating system.
Microsoft claims that Windows 7 will be better than Vista, a claim that Apple in their advertising does not think is particularly reassuring.
Video is titled "Broken Promises" and it briefly shows how the PC through the years have made the same promise at each release of a new version of Windows, claiming that now everything is so much better. Why should Windows 7 be different?

Watch the video below:

Oct 21, 2009

Head Tracking for Desktop with Wii

Johnny Lee talks about yet another awesome way to interact with your computer.

As of June 2008, Nintendo has sold nearly 30 million Wii game consoles. This significantly exceeds the number of Tablet PCs in use today according to even the most generous estimates of Tablet PC sales. This makes the Wii Remote one of the most common computer input devices in the world. Johnny Lee's projects are an effort to explore and demonstrate applications that the millions of Wii Remotes in world readily support.

Using the infrared camera in the Wii remote and a head mounted sensor bar (two IR LEDs), you can accurately track the location of your head and render view dependent images on the screen. You don't actually need the Wii console. This effectively transforms your display into a portal to a virtual environment. The display properly reacts to head and body movement as if it were a real window creating a realistic illusion of depth and space.

Thanks to Johnny Chung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University for this enlightenment. For more information and software visit: http://johnnylee.net/

IBM and Ubuntu roll Linux for U.S desktops vs Windows 7

It looks like IBM isn't much of a friend of Microsoft's anymore. Today IBM announced an extension of its Microsoft-Free PC effort together with Canonical Ubuntu Linux. This is the same thing that was announced a few weeks back for Africa, and now it's available in the US. The big push is that IBM claims it will cost up to $2,000 for a business to move to Windows 7. They argue that moving to Linux is cheaper. The IBM/Canonical offer is an interesting one and the timing against Windows 7 is a brilliant stroke of marketing.

Read the article here: http://blog.internetnews.com/skerner/2009/10/ibm-and-ubuntu-roll-linux-for.html

Source: Slashdot

Oct 20, 2009

Interesting GUI Concept

I just came across a very interesting 10/GUI concept video. On the frontpage of their website it says:

Over a quarter-century ago, Xerox introduced the modern graphical user interface paradigm we today take for granted. That it has endured is a testament to the genius of its design. But the industry is now at a crossroads: New technologies promise higher-bandwidth interaction, but have yet to find a truly viable implementation. 10/GUI aims to bridge this gap by rethinking the desktop to leverage technology in an intuitive and powerful way.

10/GUI from C. Miller on Vimeo.

Makes you wonder what the future of the Linux desktop will look like.

Source: http://10gui.com/

More Ubuntu Startup Sounds...

First of all, thanks for all the amazing feedback in my earlier post "New Startup Sounds".

At the moment 71 people has cast their vote and so far sound number 5 has 29 votes (40%). If you're hoping to hear this sound in a future Ubuntu release, don't get your hopes up. Sound number 5 has already been suggested, but was rejected because it sounded too much like Vista and too little like Ubuntu.

In my previous post the five ideas were very different unlike this post, where I'm again seeking your amazing comments and feedback. I've worked on ideas using the "melody" from sound number 5. Although Alan Pope makes some very good points in the comments, I've still used the same base for the new sounds. So for Popey this will sound like a plinky plonky nintendo DS weather report. I know it can be dangerous to use sarcasm when communicating over the web, but I'm sure Alan will know I *really* do appreciate his feedback.
The reason I've used the Kalimba sound, it because it's the only melodic instrument I know from Africa. This is all part of the quest to capture the spirit of Ubuntu. Although a clean synth sound might sound more modern, it lacks a bit of Africa so to speak. Personally the "startup_distant_drums" is my favorite at the moment, but I'll let you judge.
I should also mention the filenames are weird because it help me to keep track of the files. Also the files have not been mastered, so the volume is very low in these snapshot versions.

Listening to startup sounds can be very strange, because it is the entire boot experience (boot splash, login and so on) that counts. I suggest setting the sound you like best as your default startup sound for a few days before judging.

Grab the files here and please do post your feedback below: http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/175241/lyde/MadsRH_startup-sounds.tar.gz

Happy Birthday Ubuntu

Today, 5 years ago, on October 20th the very first version of Ubuntu was shipped - Ubuntu 4.10 "The Warty Warthog".

Images from Nizar Kerkeni's blogpost

Softpedia takes a quick look at when each of the Ubuntu versions was released, and what it brought: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Happy-Birthday-Ubuntu-124827.shtml
If you want to take a closer look at the history of Ubuntu, check out Dustin Kirkland's Ubuntu Museum.

The official Ubuntu 4.10 "The Warty Warthog" announcement can be found here: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2004-October/000003.html

Oct 16, 2009

New Startup Sounds

Way back before Intrepid was released, I created some system sounds for Ubuntu, because I felt the Ubuntu startup sound needed to be replaced. They didn't make it in, because they were too Vista'ish - which I fully agree with. So, I'm working on some more Ubuntu spirit sounds, but this is no easy task. I have a few ideas I haven't tried out yet, but I would like your feedback on the ideas below. Please cast your vote in the sidebar! (God I miss Wordpress!)

Sorry about the file-size :-(

Suggestion number 1

Suggestion number 2

Suggestion number 3

Suggestion number 4

Suggestion number 5

Did you spot the Vista'ish one? If you want you can grab my Intrepid suggestion from my portfolio on www.Behance.net/madsrh123

Oct 15, 2009

Bryan Lunduke loves the Karmic Koala

Bryan Lunduke, the software developer and co-host of The Computer Action Show at Jupiter Broadcasting, loves Ubuntu 9.10 aka. Karmic Koala.

While this might not be big news (everybody loves the Koala) , this sure is big news coming from Brian. Any listener of the Computer Action Show will know that Brian's love is reserved only for the very best.

Besides doing a review of Ubuntu 9.10 in the latest eposide of The Computer Action Show, Brian also wrote two fantastic blogposts:

Windows 7 vs Ubuntu 9.10 vs OS X 10.6

Ubuntu 9.10 - Almost Perfect

Receiving X-Splash Feedback

Lately I've become tired of reading the comments people write to my X-splash mockups. I receive about one to two new comments per day, on my five suggestions which are posted on YouTube, the Wiki and this blog. It is not because I don't want the criticism or feedback, but I primarily experience two kinds of comments.

1. The short positive comment: "This looks AMAZING!"

2. The rip off accusation: "This looks like Windows 7"

Of course the first one is okay. It's always nice with a pat on the back, but this type of "feedback" isn't really useful.
The second one is the one that annoys me. Although I see the similarity, and why Canonical would want to avoid such a comparison, this idea came long before Windows 7 received it's boot screen. During the Hardy cycle I came across a U-splash suggestion on the artwork wiki. The idea is little different from what I came up with, but this is what the concept looks like:

I really liked this concept and quickly created a mockup of my own version of the idea.

As you can see from the date (Feb 11 2008) on Ubuntu-art.org, where this is posted, this is again long before Windows 7 ever was released to the public. Perhaps the Microsoft designers have been seeking inspiration in the Ubuntu community ;-) Know what I mean? Nudge nudge, wink wink.

Today LanHikari90 posted this comment on my 4th animated boot splash idea:
Really nice. I wish, it would be the official boot screen.
But sadly it is just a rip-off of the Windows 7 bootscreen. And to all these guys who say it isn't: It obviously is!

I've considered disabling the comments or even removing the videos, but every now and then someone will write something worth reading.

Oct 11, 2009

Gnome Shell status

Jason Clinton (jclinton) has news from the GNOME Shell sessions (with Owen Taylor and Colin Walters) to everybody interested in the Gnome Shell development.


Oct 7, 2009

My Artwork in Xubuntu 9.10

I was, to say the least, honored when I discovered that the Xubuntu artteam would include my fourth x-splash suggestion. The animation that looks like fireflies or sparkles, has been tweak a bit to match the colors of Xubuntu has now landed as the x-splash throbber in Xubuntu 9.10!

Cody Somerville took this with his Android phone:

Xubuntu 9.10 booting.

Besides the x-splash I must say Xubuntu 9.10 with it's Albatross theme is looking AWESOME! Check it out...

ComputerWorld raving about Karmic

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols from ComputerWorld is raving about Karmic Koala in his latest article. Although Steven isn't an Ubuntu fanboy and besides the fact that he likes KDE better, he concludes that Karmic sure is looking great so far.

As Steven points out, Karmic is still in heavy development. Today 200MB worth of bugfixing goodness landed in Karmic alone - fantastic!

Source: http://blogs.computerworld.com/14871/karmic_koala_the_best_ubuntu_linux_ever

Software Center UI suggestion

I've been working on a suggestion for the Software Center UI. I know that I'm walking on thin ice here since Matthew Paul Thomas is a interface designer ;-)

The current design

This suggestion is based on the accordion style menu. With the current design, you can't switch between "departments" without going to the main department screen. I know it's a tiny thing, but I find kind of annoying. I suggest something like this:

My accordion styled suggestion

You could argue that this UI would be unfamiliar or too complex for many users, but with everything being animated with Clutter, I'm sure the animations will make it easy to understand. This accordion concept is also very common on flash websites.

The department screen, which is displayed at startup, would not show any applications (only the departments) since no department is yet selected. This also means that you can search all departments from this screen, just like you can with the current Software Center UI (see the first screenshot above).
If you're already in the, let's say, games department, you can simply click the orange bar to return to the department screen, which would close all departments to look something like this:

My suggestion for the department screen

These mockups doesn't include all departments represented in the actual Ubuntu Software Center, since this is merely a proof-of-concept.
Please add your feedback and comments on this site or on the Software Center comments wiki.

Oct 5, 2009

Michael Forrest on the Karmic wallpaper

Design team member Michael Forrest writes about the Ubuntu 9.10 default wallpaper.

I really like the phrase:
It's not a quantum leap, but it feels like the lights have been turned on.


Oct 4, 2009

Karmic Koala News

Although some might call OMGubuntu my competitor, but I'm really not into the whole competition thing. Anyway, OMGubuntu has been very diligent to keep the world up to date on what's going on in Karmic. Check it out: