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Friday, May 25, 2007

PCLinuxOS 2007 : Cool Looking Linux Distribution

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PCLinuxOS 2007 : Cool Looking Linux Distribution

Introduction: -
I have been user of Linux for over 8 years now the first Linux distribution i used was RedHat Linux 5.2 and since then have tried a number of different Linux distribution , but primarily i have sticked with Red Hat(Fedora) and now Ubuntu for serious work . Now Linux distribution over the years have matured a lot on desktop front right from early days when there wasn't even one descent package for Desktop work to present day case when Dell is selling Desktop Computers with Ubuntu Linux ,Things have surely changed a lot . It's the emergence of distributions like Ubuntu,Freespire(Linspire),PCLinuxOS and other Desktop Linux distro's that have catalyzed the adoption(or at least emergence) of Desktop Linux and emergence of Desktop Linux Concept.

PCLinuxOS began as a fork of Mandriva Linux (Mandrake linux) four years back by Texstar and still has a number of features common with Mandriva Linux . It uses RPM package format and number of configuration wizards are similar to one used in Mandriva Linux . PCLinuxOS is considered one of the more user friendly desktop linux , now personally i have never used PCLinuxOS there was a certain buzz surrounding the release of PCLinuxOS 2007 hence i decided to try it out.

Here is my review of PCLinuxOS 2007: -

Installation : -
The Live CD Image is around 700 Megabytes in size which compresses around 2GB of packages , it took me about 7 Hours to download on a 256KBps Connection .

Here are the links from which you can download PCLinuxOS 2007 : -

Torrent: http://linuxtracker.org/torrents-details.php?id=4143

Download mirrors: http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php?option=com_ionfiles&Itemid=28

Once ISO images are downloaded i would recommend burning ISO at a speed of 10x or 12x , anyways once you have burned the ISO you can always check the integrity of the CD from the boot menu .

On booting from the Cd Rom , this is the boot menu that is presented , as you can see PCLinuxOS provides a number of different options of booting into PCLinuxOS.
PCLinuxOS Boot Menu

PCLinuxOS Boot Up Screen

Now after about 4 minutes on my old laptop i was presented with the screen to chose keyboard configuration, Time Zone and Networking Configuration and stuff. Now This is one of the first thing i disliked configuring so many things ( ): ) every time you are booting the live cd.

Keyboard configuration screen

Anyways once configuration is over you are presented with beautiful log in screen , i have to admit i particularly like this black theme PCLinuxOS uses .
Login Screen
Now once the entire KDE Desktop loads , what strikes one first is that desktop is very aesthetically organized and icons,boot screens , Themes are extremely User Friendly , UI is one of the primary thing that strikes computer beginners and PCLinuxOS does extremely well in this not only it is extremely user friendly but also extremely polished and professional .Overall the User Interface of PCLinuxOS is simple , clean and attractive unlike many other Linux Distributions that are just getting more and more complex . PCLinuxOS uses Diamond Plate metal theme as it's default theme and uses KDE desktop version 3.5.6 as it's default window manager .

This is how PCLinuxOS Desktop Looks
Now the installation is extremely user friendly and is wizard based this is one area where Linux distribution have matured a lot over the years installation has become extremely user friendly . Now since i already had Partition created using Partition Magic i could not test the partition tool but it should work well .Entire installation took around 25 minutes on my laptop(Celeron 1.4Ghz 256Megabytes Ram ) .

After completing the installation strangely during configuring of GRUB PCLinuxOS did not autodetect Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint that were already installed in my computer though it did detect Windows hence i had to manually edit menu.lst file of Grub boot loader to include menu option for Ubuntu and Linux Mint .
Anyways once installation was over i restarted the computer and logged into my new PCLinuxOS and found these major packages installed by default with PCLinuxOS : -
  • OpenOffice.org 2.2.0 Office Suite
  • Mozilla Firefox 2.0.3 : - Default Web Browser in PCLinuxOS
  • MPlayer 1.0rc1 : - The Movie Player for playing audio/video files
  • Gimp 2.3.16 :- For Image Manipulation
  • Thunderbird 2.0.0
  • KDE Multimedia applications :- Amarok , Kaffine , K3b , and other applications
  • Java JRE , Macromedia Flash , a number of Multimedia Codecs (w32codecs not included)
and many more there are over 2Gigs of packages that are installed , and many more (5000+) Applications can be installed from repositories using Synaptic Package Manager .

Amarok :-Rocking Music Management software

The Movie Player
Now unlike some other Linux Distribution that don't include Multimedia Codecs , Java JRE or Macromedia Flash because of licensing restrictions or some other reasons . You don't have to worry about these things if you are using PCLinuxOS this should help someone who is new to Linux and moving from Windows to Linux . I have seen a number of my computer novice friends who do not have Internet Connection being frustrated as hell while using Ubuntu Linux unable to play their favorite audio/video files

Now i tried playing a number of different media files and most of them played flawlessly and ones that did not could be easily played by installing w32codecs whose installation isn't difficult. Since Flash was pre-installed i could easily watch videos on YouTube or Google Video , also since Java JRE was pre-installed Java Applets worked flawlessly in Firefox . Even divx files played without any additional installation of codecs . Overall PCLinuxOS multimedia support is among the best among different Linux Distributions . One of the most crucial aspects that make PCLinuxOS so Newbie friendly.

Here are the list of codecs PCLinuxOS supports(taken from wikipedia) :-

PCLinuxOS can also play back proprietary multimedia files (wma, mp3, mpg, rm, mov, etc) by default, something that some Linux distributions cannot do without further user configuration, because of proprietary and ideological issues. However, the controversial libdvdcss library for DVD playback is not installed initially, but is available in the official software repository.

Mozilla Firefox and Thuderbird are well integrated clicking on email link in Firefox opens up Thuderbird and clicking on web page address in Thuderbird opens up Mozilla Firefox .

Application wise the distribution comes preloaded with most of the application a normal desktop user requires like Gimp-For graphics management , digikam-for photo management , Amarok for Music management and Playing , OpenOffice a really solid office suite comparable to Microsoft office , and other really cool applications .

Various Screenshots showing installed applications in PCLinuxOS





PCLinuxOS provides easy way of configuring different aspects of the distribution using the PCLinuxOS control centre(System ->Configuration->Control Centre) . Now this Control Centre is similar to one that is shipped with Mandriva Linux.
PCLinuxOS Control Centre


Now by default PCLinuxOS does not automatically enable 3D Effect (Beryl/Compiz) and can be enabled from Control Centre by going to Hardware and selecting Configure 3D Effect .
Enabling 3D Effect in Control Center
Hardware support is also excellent in PCLinuxOS most of my hard ware was properly detected and i had no problem in using them from USB Pendrive to K750i phone everything worked fine .


Conclusion :-
Overall , PCLinuxOS is one of the finest Desktop Linux Distribution i have tried in past few years , it integrates some of the wonderful features of Mandriva Linux and adds a power pack collection of software in 700Megabytes of Live CD .With it's extremely clean and attractive interface and ability to play multimedia files out of the box it's one Linux Distribution that should not give Linux Newbies headache. I have been a passionate user of Ubuntu and i can safely say if i had to recommend a Linux distro to someone new at computers it wont be Ubuntu but PCLinuxOS .

PCLinuxOS Website : - http://www.pclinuxos.com/

Distrowatch page of PCLinuxOS : - http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=pclinuxos

Article written by Ambuj Varshney(blogambuj(at)gmail.com)
For Linux On Desktop Blog(http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com)
(C) 2007, Ambuj Varshney

Monday, May 21, 2007

Desktop Linux News : - 21/05/2007

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Hello this is new section on this site in which i would post important news,Links,Tutorials pertaining Desktop Linux twice a week , i would continue to write interesting articles in addition to posting news collected from different source on the internet, : -


Desktop Linux News : - 21/05/2007

Hot News : -

1. War of Words between OLPC and Intel

Chip-maker Intel "should be ashamed of itself" for efforts to undermine the USD 100 laptop initiative, according to its founder Nicholas Negroponte. He accused Intel of selling its own cut-price laptop - the Classmate - below cost to drive him out of markets.



PCLinuxOS 2007 Final Relased

Texstar and the Ripper Gang are pleased to announce the final release of PCLinuxOS 2007. Featuring kernel 2.6.18.8, KDE 3.5.6, Open Office 2.2.0, Firefox 2.0.0.3, Thunderbird 2.0, Frostwire, Ktorrent, Amarok, Flash, Java JRE, Beryl 3D and much much more. Almost 2 gigs of software compressed on a single self bootable LiveCD

also

PCLinuxOS 2007 Final Now Available at LinuxTracker.org


Linuxtracker.org is pleased to announce the availability of PCLinuxOS 2007 Final on the linuxtracker bittorrent network.

3. 139$ PC With Linux Preinstalled :)

MadTux and Vector Linux today announced a Linux PC for the rock-bottom price of $139 (keyboard, monitor, and optical drive not included

4. Dell announces the models for Ubuntu

We will be launching a Linux based OS (Ubuntu) on the E520, 1505 and XPS 410 starting next Thursday, 5/24. We expect these systems to be less than 1% of our OS mix for the entire year which is ~20,000 systems annually.

5. Mark Shuttleworth : - Microsoft is not the real threat

Much has been written about Microsoft’s allegation of patent infringements in Linux (by which I’m sure they mean GNU/Linux Eye-wink ). I don’t think Microsoft is the real threat, and in fact, I think Microsoft and the Linux community will actually end up fighting on the same side of this issue.

And I’m pretty certain that, within a few years, Microsoft themselves will be strong advocates against software patents. Why? Because Microsoft is irrevocably committed to shipping new software every year, and software patents represent landmines in their roadmap which they are going to step on, like it or not, with increasing regularity. They can’t sit on the sidelines of the software game - they actually have to ship new products. And every time they do that, they risk stepping on a patent landmine

Cool Tutorials : -

1.
Did you know these basic Firefox Tips?

A Neat Collection of Really small and great Firefox tips (yummy) , You May know those BIG things But Did you know these?

2. Installing Ubuntu Studio 7.04 - Linux For The Creative

Ubuntu Studio is a multimedia editing/creation flavour of Ubuntu, built for the GNU/Linux audio, video, and graphic enthusiast or professional. It is an official derivative of the Ubuntu open source operating system and comes with applications such as Ardour2, Wired, Hydrogen, Blender, Inkscape, Pitivi, and many more, as well as a beautiful dark theme. This walkthrough shows how to install it.

3. Four ways to hide information inside image and sound objects

Here's a look at some useful tools that you can use to hide and unveil sensitive information inside an object. Most of these programs and tools are available in package repositories for different Linux distributions.

4. HOW TO: Share Firefox and Thunderbird data files between ubuntu and windows

f you want to share sent/received emails , bookmarks, addons of firefox and thunderbird between ubuntu and windows then read this tutorial !

5. How-to: Installing Ubuntu Linux on a usb pendrive

This tutorial will show how-to install Ubuntu on a usb stick. Even though this tutorial uses Ubuntu as its base distribution, you could virtually use any type of Linux liveCD distribution.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" : - Sexy and More User Friendly variant of Ubuntu Linux

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Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" : - Sexy and More User Friendly variant of Ubuntu Linux
(Digg this Story)
Over past few years Ubuntu Linux has become extremely popular owing to it's simple interface and ease , and has attracted a majority of new Linux users to it . Now a majority of new Ubuntu Linux users are people who are switching from Windows to Linux owing to their frustrations with Windows platform .Now Ubuntu because of many licensing restrictions , and nature of open source products dosn't include many codecs , applications that a windows refugee would look in a Desktop Linux Distribution . Linux Mint takes a step in addressing this problem .




Linux is mint is based on popular Gnome Desktop environment , however interestingly the first release of Linux Mint was based on KDE and then they changed to Gnome with next release.

Linux Mint is basically a variant of Ubuntu Linux , that has a closer relation ship to Ubuntu in comparative term than Ubuntu has with Debian Linux, it is customized to be user friendly with interactive wizards , a more user friendly themes and comes with most of the codecs and plug ins pre-installed thus giving functionality of Ubuntu without hassles of missing codecs/applications.


This is a quote taken from their website which sums up their philosophy
“We believe in freedom… We also prefer to use open source software rather than their proprietary equivalents. However we don’t believe in banning or boycotting proprietary software. If a proprietary component has no suitable open source alternative and is needed to produce an elegant desktop we do include it. For this reason we include things like the Flash plugin for instance.”

You can read more about their philosophy , goals and other stuff from this site .

Installation : -

Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu , it's installation procedure is very similar to Ubuntu only artwork is changed , Linux Mint 3.0 Beta 1 which i tested was based on latest stable release of Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn. Now , on my slow old Thinkpad Celeron 1.4Ghz with 256 Megabytes of RAM , the CD was extremely slow maybe due to lack of ram anyways cd booted into graphical environment in over 9 Minutes and then Installation program took around 4 Minutes more to start . After starting installation the entire installation was pretty smooth , the installation even had Migration Assistant wizard (seen in Ubuntu 7.04 Fesity Fawn ) which allows one to easily shift their existing Windows and Linux accounts (their settings like Wallpaper , Documents and stuff ) to Linux Mint . This is a welcome addition for Linux Newbies terrified with experimenting . Now entire installation is same as Ubuntu , Linux Mint being based on it.

Linux Mint Booting Up

Migration Assistant Wizard During Linux Mint Installation

Linux Mint Installation Going on

Login Screen

What's New in Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" Beta 012: -
Important new features in Cassandra BETA012:
  • Gnome 2.18 (speed improvements)
  • Kernel 2.6.20 (better hardware support)
  • Ubuntu Feisty innovations (restricted-manager, desktop-effects, windows migration assistant, avahi)
  • OpenOffice 2.2 (complete suite)
  • Thunderbird replaces Evolution as the default email reader
  • the Gimp is installed by default
  • Gnome-control-center replaces mintConfig as the default control center application
  • Both mintDisk (for internal drives) and NTFS-Config (for external drives) are present for NTFS support
  • Support for Gnome Templates in mintDesktop
  • mintInstall replaces gnome-app-install
  • Drag & Drop support in mintMenu with many other improvements
  • Sun Java 6 replaces Sun Java 5
  • Compiz, Beryl and Emerald installed by default
How Desktop Feels : -

After Installation was over , and i booted into newly installed Linux Mint system i did not notice any significant speed lack , it worked flawlessly. I was greeted with the above beautiful looking login screen . After logging in i was pleasantly surprised to see really neat and tidy desktop , and to my surprise i found even my Windows drive automatically mounted this was a pleasant surprise , though Write support wasn't available maybe because NTFS-3g package wasn't installed.
This is How my Linux Mint Desktop Looks

The mintMenu : -

You will notice unlike Ubuntu which has Mac OS like menubar at top Linux Mint has tas bar at the bottom there is Cassandra button which open the Menu from where one can select applications . Now i really liked the menu (mintMenu), it is different from the Gnome Menu and is similar wuth the menu that comes with OpenSuse Linux distribution , the menu look more user(newbie) friendly and is better organized and gives much more professional look to the distribution. The Menu is divided into three sections , Places , Applications and System. Another nice thing about their mintMenu was the search box at the bottom which allowed easy searching of application in the menu , this can be really helpful for someone who has lot of application installed.

This is How Linux Mint's Menu Looks

Other Good Stuff about Linux Mint : -

Now unlike Ubuntu Linux Mint comes with Beryl , Compiz and all the desktop effects preinstalled you only have to enable it ( By Going to Cassandra->System Tools -> Beryl Manager) , besides these it comes with a number of calm and refreshing wallpapers and screen savers . The default theme used is extremely eye catching and attractive giving entire distribution a very professional look.

Now on my IBM Laptop most of the things worked right out of box i did not have any particular problem with hardware configuration , even my Sony Erricson Phone K750i was automatically detected and mounted . Not to mention windows and linux drives were automatically mounted.


Now Application set includes F-Spot Photo Management Software , GIMP : -Image Editing Software , Firefox 2.0 : - Default Web Browser , Thunderbird (Email Client change from earlier version of Linux Mint which used Evolution ) , OpenOffice : - Office Suite , Amarok(Media Player ) , Gaim : - Instant Messenger , MPlayer : - Audio and Video Player , Totem Movie Player , and Misc other applications. In Short it has most of the application a average computer user would require .

On the Codec side it comes preinstalled with most of the codec , i tried playing few FLV , AVI and WMV files and all played flawlessly on the Linux Mint without installing any additional component this is really something that could help new Linux users who don't have proper internet connection (Yes it is true here in India there are people without internet connection ) . Also Linux Mint comes with Sun Java 6 and Adobe Flash player Installed and plug in properly configured with Firefox making it easy to browse internet .

Now even though their website recommends 512 Megabytes of ram for using Linux Mint i did not have any particular problem in using Linux Mint on my 256 Megabyte ram computer . However Linux Mint is bit slow compared to Ubuntu owing to maybe the applications (Tomboy and Beagle(searching and indexing tool) that comes preinstalled) also because of extensive themes Linux Mint uses.

As i mentioned above Linux Mint comes pre installed with Beagle which is a powerful indexing and search tool based on Mono platform and actively supported and developed by Novell ,allowing easy searching of files in the computer . This is one killer application that could really help someone with huge amount of documents in their computer.

Beagle Search Box

Another thing that really makes Linux Mint such a good distribution for Linux Newbies is it's easy configuration , the Control Center is GUI based and is extremely simple to use and allows easy configuring of various parts of the Mint Desktop , also if you feel Control Centre is bit difficult there is a simpler version mintConfig which is even more user friendly in configuring the Mint Desktop.


Gnome Control Centre


mintConfig Control Center

Another nice configuration tool that Linux Mint comes preinstalled with is mintDisk that allows easy mounting of various partitions on your computer .
mintDisk
Also , to make Linux Mint more user/newbie friendly they provide pre defined and default locations (directories) for storing videos,photos , documents and other stuff in home directory.

Default Directories created by Linux Mint

Conclusion : -

Overall Linux Mint is extremely user friendly Linux distribution perfectly suited for someone making a jump from Windows to Linux , it combines power of Ubuntu with ease of Windows and provides a solid desktop that is worth using . It provides relief from hassles of installing Codecs and Plug ins and other good desktop applications on Ubuntu and provides all the benefits of Ubuntu.
If you are new to Ubuntu and dont have much technical know how this is the Linux Distribution to look Forward .


Helpful Links : -


Article Written by Ambuj Varshney , for Linux on Desktop blog(http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com)
(C) 2007, Ambuj Varshney

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

13 Must Do things on new Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn installation

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13 Must Do things on new Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn installation

Read Updated Article "Creating your ultimate Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop " for Ubuntu 7.10 Here


Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distribution these days( has been on top of distrowatch site for quite some time now) especially among Linux Newbies , and Ubuntu has inspired a number of people to jump from Windows to Linux . However because of many licensing restrictions and closed source nature of many popular applications a number of applications / codecs are not installed by default in Ubuntu though Ubuntu community has done considerable work in this direction with inclusion of wizards in new Ubuntu 7.04 easing installation but still it is somewhat difficult .This is major hindrance for people jumping from Windows to Linux when they don't know how to install extra functionality to Ubuntu . Now applications like Automatix and Easyubuntu have eased this but still if you would like to follow different approach here is how you can install additional functionality on Ubuntu .

In this article i try to describe how to install Codecs / Applications easily on Ubuntu 7.04 installation making transition from Ubuntu to Windows easy , and making Ultimate Ubuntu Desktop .


1. Installing/Enabling additional Repositories
Now many applications need additional repositories to be installed or some to be enabled in Synaptic package manager so before trying out steps given below ensure that repositories in order.

launch Synaptic Package Manager (System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager ) , then in Synaptic package manager go to (Settings -> Repositories ) you will find window like this . Ensure that all the check boxes are marked leaving source code(if you want to you can enable this also but you are not going to need this unless you are software developer) the dialog box should look like this .
Now you have to add additional repositories , close synaptic package manager and type the following command in the terminal window (Application -> Accessories -> Terminal )
¨wget -q http://packages.medibuntu.org/medibuntu-key.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add - ¨

and

¨sudo wget http://medibuntu.sos-sts.com/sources.list.d/feisty.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list ¨

after completing above steps type

¨ sudo apt-get update ¨

Now your system should be ready for installing extra codecs .

IMPORTANT : In General i don't recommend adding unknown repositories it is risky and could pose a security risk to your computer , however the repository i am adding above is official repository(Medibuntu) whose reference i got from official Ubuntu website so you should not worry about adding repository i mentioned above .

Here is the offical Ubuntu documentation with reference to Medibuntu repository


2. Installing Multimedia Codecs

w32codec is a collection dll files from windows that helps in decompressing major video/audio formats allowing them to be played flawlessly on Linux Media players , however because of legal issues associated with it is not included with Ubuntu . To Install the package type the following command in the terminal window(assuming repositories are in order and they are set up correctly as described above ),
keep in mind that codecs are downloaded from Medibuntu repositories and not Ubuntu hence be sure you have activated the repositories correctly as described in first step of this article.

 ¨ sudo aptitude install w32codecs ¨

and to install addition more plugins type the following command in the terminal window .

¨sudo aptitude install
libxine-extracodecs gstreamer0.10-plugins-base gstreamer0.10-plugins-good gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-pitfdll ¨

Installing DVD Playing support : -

Now this is a contentious issue , in some countries playing DVD files through DEcss is illegal so use it at your
own will , anyways to enable dvd playback issue the following command in the terminal window : -

¨wget http://medibuntu.sos-sts.com/repo/pool/feisty/free/i386/libdvdcss2_1.2.9-2medibuntu2+build1_i386.deb

and

¨ sudo dpkg -i libdvdcss2_1.2.9-2medibuntu2+build1_i386.deb ¨

3. Installing Video Players

Now Ubuntu by default dosnt come with many popular media players like Xine,Mplayer and VLC preinstalled so you can install them using the following command .

¨sudo aptitude install libxine-extracodecs xine-ui mplayer mplayer-skins vlc vlc-plugin-* mozilla-plugin-vlc¨


4. Installing Audio players

Now similar to Video players many good audio players are not shipped with Ubuntu here is the command to install audio players - xmms,mpg123 ,banshee,amarok. Type the following command in the terminal windows (Application -> Accesories -> Terminal)

"sudo aptitude install xmms xmms-mad xmms-skins xmms-wma mpg123 banshee amarok"


5. Installing Macromedia Flash-Plugin

Macromedia Flash player is not installed by default but since we would be surely needing it while browsing the net , installing it is necessary since Macromedia flash has more or less became an integral part of internet browsing experience .
it can be installed by following command

¨sudo aptitude install flashplugin-nonfree ¨

After completing above step restart Firefox to make changes take place permanently and type about:plugins in the address bar to see if plug is installed correctly.

6. Installing beryl and other eye candy

Ubuntu 7.04 makes installing beryl/compiz extremely easy , to install beryl type the following command in the terminal window (Application ->Accesories -> Terminal) :-

" sudo aptitude install beryl beryl-manager emerald-themes ¨

After installation is over restart X Server/Computer and launch beryl-manager by going into (Application -> System tools -> Beryl Manager)

If you want to avoid starting beryl-manager manually every time you can make beryl-manager start automatically when gnome starts to do this go to (
System->Preferences->Sessions) you will get a window like this
Press New and in windows that appears next in Name type Beryl Manager(or what ever you like) and in command type beryl-manager . Now every time gnome starts Beryl Manager should load automatically.


7. Installing Java Runtime environment v6.0 With Mozilla Firefox plugin

Similar to Macromedia Flash , today Java applets and applications have become a integral part of internet browsing experience however java runtime is not installed by default in Ubuntu to install java Runtime Environment with plug in for Mozilla Firefox type the following command in the terminal window.

¨ sudo aptitude install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts ¨

After downloading is over you will get a screen like this just accept this license by pressing ¨Yes¨ button to complete installation, after this restart Firefox and type about:plugins to check whether sun java plugin is correctly installed.



8. Installing Google Applications - Google Earth and Picasa

Two of the popular Google application available on Windows Google Picasa and Google Earth are also available on Linux platform. While Google earth is a native Linux application , Google Picasa uses Wine to run on Linux platform.

Installing Google Earth : -

To install Google Earth type the following command in the Terminal Window (Application->Accessories -> Terminal ),keep in mind that googleearth is downloaded from Medibuntu repositories and not Ubuntu hence be sure you have activated the repositories correctly as described in first step of this article.

¨sudo aptitude install googleearth"

After downloading is over you will get a screen like this press ¨Yes¨ to accept the license agreement and complete software installation.


Now you can launch Google Earth from (Application -> Internet -> Google Earth)

A Picture of Google Earth Running on linux


Installing Google Picasa : -

Google Picasa is a nice Photo Management software that offers some really neat features , however Picasa is not a native Linux application but runs on Linux atop application layer called Wine which allows many Windows application to run flawlessly on Linux .

To install Google Picasa type the following command in the terminal window : -

¨wget http://dl.google.com/linux/deb/pool/non-free/p/picasa/picasa_2.2.2820-5_i386.deb ¨

and

¨sudo dpkg -i picasa_2.2.2820-5_i386.deb ¨

After installation is over you can launch Picasa from (Applications -> Graphics -> Picasa )

Google Picasa Running on Linux Desktop

9. Installing Real Player and Adobe Reader

Real player is one of the most popular media player on Windows Platform, now Real Player for Linux is not as feature rich as one on Windows platform but still it plays real media files and some other formats quite well . It´s interface is clean and usable.

To Install Real Player type the following command in the terminal window : -

¨ wget http://software-dl.real.com/13de9d2a0b9178683716/unix/RealPlayer10GOLD.bin ¨

After installation is over type

¨chmod +x RealPlayer10GOLD.bin¨

and

¨sudo ./RealPlayer10GOLD.bin¨

for installation to begin . Follow the instructions as presented to complete installation .

After installation is over you can launch Real Player from (Application -> Sound & Video -> Real Player 10 ).

Real Player for Linux

Installing Adobe Reader : -
On Ubuntu/Linux a number of good pdf reader exist that are quite functional and less resource hungry as compared to Adobe Reader , However if you still want to install Adobe Reader 7.0 you can either download package from adobe website or type the following command in the terminal window .

However note ,
the following command would only work if Medibuntu repositories are configured properly so be sure you have installed it correctly as described in the beginning of article .

¨sudo aptitude install acroread ¨


10 . Installing Downloading & P2P tools - amule , Downloader for X ,azureus

Downloader for X is a nice download manager that allows downloading files from Internet , pausing them and downloading them later . It also supports splitting file into number of segments so that files could be downloaded quickly . However one thing that i didn't like about is it's interface is somewhat difficult as compared to some of the download manager available on Windows.

Anyways to install " Downloader for X " type the following command in the terminal window.

¨sudo aptitude install d4x "

After installation is over launch ¨Downloader for X¨ by typing ¨d4x¨ in the terminal window , or by going to (Applications-> Internet -> Downloader for X )

This is how Downloader for X looks


Installing azureus : - Azureus is one of the more popular bittorrent client available on both Windows and Linux , based on java it is one of the most powerful bittorrent client.

To install azureus type the following command in the terminal window : -

¨sudo aptitude install azureus ¨

This is how azureus looks


Installing amule : -amule is a clone of popular p2p application Emule available on Windows platform. To install amule type the following command in the terminal window : -

¨sudo aptitude install amule ¨


11. Installing Skype

Skype is a popular VOIP application , allowing one to make voice calls over the internet .
To install Skype type the following command in the Terminal Window (Application->Accessories -> Terminal ),keep in mind that Skype is downloaded from Medibuntu repositories and not Ubuntu hence be sure you have activated the repositories correctly as described in first step of this article.

¨sudo aptitude install skype ¨

12. Installing Microsoft True Type Fonts

To install Microsoft True Type fonts on Ubuntu type the following command in the terminal window .

¨sudo aptitude install msttcorefonts ¨

Now Fonts would automatically be downloaded from the internet and installed .

13. Installing Miscellaneous Other Applications : -

Here is how you can install some other useful applications on Ubuntu Desktop .


Opera : -

Opera is very fine browser is quite popular too , it features a integrated bittorrent client , has a strong download manager and offers tab browsing . It is third most popular browser after IE and Mozilla Firefox


Type the following command in terminal window : -

¨wget http://opera.eurenet.net/linux/920/final/en/i386/shared/opera_9.20-20070409.6-shared-qt_en_i386.deb¨

¨sudo aptitude install libqt3-mt¨

and

¨sudo dpkg -i opera_9.20-20070409.6-shared-qt_en_i386.deb ¨

or

instead of above steps type : -

¨sudo aptitude install opera ¨
After completeing above step you can launch opera from (Applications -> Internet -> Opera )

This is how Opera Looks


Making Windows see your Linux partition

Windows XP lacks support for reading and writing files to Linux file system however external utilities like free Ext2 File system for windows allows Windows XP to read and write files to a Ext2 , Ext3 file system however ReiserFS file system is not supported .

You can get Ext2 file system for windows at the following link : -
(http://www.fs-driver.org/download.htm


Installing Unrar : -


RAR is one of the very widely used archives on Windows , however unrar tool to decompress RAR is not shipped with distribution and has ti be installed manually.

¨sudo aptitude install unrar ¨



Article written by Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj(at)gmail.com)
For Linux On Desktop Blog (http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com)
(C) 2007, Ambuj Varshney


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Managing Photos on your Desktop Linux Installation

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Managing Photos on your Desktop Linux Installation

Over last few years there has been tremendous growth in Digital Photography , Digital Cameras are getting more affordable and powerful . Now with old film based cameras there wasn't a major problem in managing photos , get the negatives developed and stick your photos in the album . However this was limited you could not modify the photos( Assuming modifying dosent mean cutting and scribbling) and you were totally dependent on the Lab technician for quality of photo he developed. But all this has changed with advent of digital photography , today not only cameras are sophisticated allowing you to take perfect picture but there are software allowing you to manage and catalogue photos you take thus helping you manage your photos efficiently .

There are two major photo management software available on Linux

1.) F-Spot

2.) Google Picasa

While F-Spot is native Linux application written using mono libraries and actively supported by Novell, Google picasa is windows based application that run flawlessly on Linux using wine application layer .Here is low down of the two applications and how they compare with each other in features .

F-Spot : - F-Spot is a photo management software for Gnome Desktop environment in Linux , it has been created using C# language using Mono framework , it was started by Ettore Perazzoli and is now maintained by Larry Ewing . It is being developed by Novell , and inspite of being not a final stable 1.0 release it is packaged with a large number of Linux distributions including Mandriva,Ubuntu(Check) . F-Spot supports all major photographic image formats , including JPEG, PNG, TIFF, DNG and several vendor-specific RAW formats (CR2, PEF, ORF, SRF, CRW, MRW and RAF). Other supported file types are GIF, SVG and PPM. However, as of 2006, the RAW formats were not editable with F-Spot.

The Clean Default interface of F-Spot


The first thing that strikes you when you start using F-Spot is it's clean simple interface , it's interface is not jazzy as Google Picasa or iPhoto but simple enough to be usable . Now some would say comparison with Google Picasa is bit premature since it is still in early stage of development compared to Google Picasa which is mature final release , however it is powerful enough to be at least grouped with Google picasa and iPhoto .

On connecting camera dialog box asking to import all photos in camera into F-Spot


Since it is default application for Photo Management in many Linux distributions , so on connecting camera or photo stick one gets option of loading images into F-Spot library.

Timeline at top of F-Spot Interface

You Will notice there is a time-line at the top of interface ,somewhat similar to time-line you find in animation programs like flash which enables you to navigate through different frames . This is a innovative feature which really impressed me it shows total number of images in different months the greater the height of bar greater is the number of images in that month . The time-line can also be used to navigate through images of different months .


On selecting Import Source , dialog shows operation of adding images from source(USBDISK in this case) to F-Spot library


To add photos to F-Spot library chose (File->Import ) and select the folder you want to import , all the images in the folder are imported into F-Spot library and images are shown as thumbnail.

By default all the images imported into the F-Spot library are kept in $HOME/Photos (Photos directory in your home folder ) which is further subdivided into different months which is further divided into dates . All the photos taken on a particular date are grouped in same directory of that date .

F-Spot has a full-screen mode allowing you to view your photos on entire screen , There is also a slide show option which enables one to view all the images present in the F-Spot library as a slide-show (very similar to slide show of presentation programs) .


Meta Data dialog box showing information about image file

On choosing (View -> Meta Data Browser ) all kind of possible information about the image is shown . This can be particularly useful to some one into photography.

On Choosing a image you will find there is sliding bar at the bottom of a screen which allows you to conveniently zoom into or out of image .


F-Spot offers basic image editing features like Removing Red Eye , Cropping a selected area of image ,an interesting one - Converting Image to Black & White , Converting photos to sepia-tones adjusting colour , saturation hue , rotating image etc . However these image editing features are bit difficult to use and aren't quite perfect you could use them for some light editing but i would recommend using Gimp for photo editing. Gimp has been around for quite some time and it's features parallel those of photoshop and besides this it is free and comes preloaded with most Linux distributions .



Now besides organizing photos into different months and day , you can also organize photos using tags . Now by default F-Spot comes with four different tags ( Favorites , People , Hidden , Places ,Events ) you can also create more tags from (Tags -> Create tags) you can group one photo in more than on tag . Now i like this tag feature of organizing photo as this is like tags in blogs .You can tag different photos by dropping photos in the particular tag shown in the left side of screen or by dropping tags on photos .


Now besides organizing photos on the hard disk , you can also upload photos to Flickr which is an online photo library , Go to File -> Export -> upload to Flickr to upload photos to Flickr website .

Besides uploading photos to Flickr website you can also create a CD of your images by choosing File -> Export -> Export to CD option .Now F-Spot doesn't come with CD-Burning tool but uses Gnome's CD Burning tools to burn CD .

Overall F-Spot is a nice application that has a lot of potential , considering it is still in early version of development this is one application to look forward to , it is by no means perfect right now searching , image editing are some features that need a considerable amount of improvement but overall it is pretty usable .


Google Picasa : - Google Picasa is one of the more user friendly photo management software available , it is available on both Windows and Linux . It runs on Linux on top of Application Layer called Wine that allows Windows application to run on Linux . However this has some disadvantage firstly some windows application don't work as well as they do on windows , there are occasional application crashes, application freezes , also UI is bit less responsive however applications are still usable .

Anyways Google Picasa isn't shipped with most of the Linux distributions also you are unlikely to find it in repositories of various Linux distribution since it is a commercial close source product . Anyways you can get Google Picasa from the following website address : - http://picasa.google.com/linux . however it still in beta stage on Linux platform .

This is how Picasa Looks


The first thing that you notice when you run Google Picasa for first time is it's user friendly interface ,it's one of the better looking application that's available on Linux .The first time you start Picasa it asks for location where it should start looking for images and catalog them , now it offers only two option either to scan entire hard disk or only desktop , this is something which could be improved there should be another option of scanning particular folders instead of entire hard disk anyways after you specify one of the two options images are loaded into Picasa library .

Since Picasa is windows application running on Linux maybe because of this reason i found Picasa interface somewhat slow on my old laptop(Cel 1.4 GHz 256 Megabytes of ram ) now if you compare speed F-Spot beats Picasa hands down. Also the interface wasn't very responsive i had hell of a difficulty moving sidebars ():)

After the scanning, adding of images to library is over all the images along with folder they were contained in are shown in ascending order of date when they were created . All the images in the library are shown as thumbnail allowing easy browsing of images. Now one thing that was interesting was you could change the size of thumbnails ,by moving the slide bar at the bottom of interface , this is particularly useful if you have large amount of image files and you want to see maximum number of image files at once .

Picasa offers a number of image editing features like color enhancement , red eye reduction , cropping images to particular size etc . Now when you select a image you get a screen similar to this offering a variety of image enhancement features which you could use to improve quality of image .
After selecting a image you can easily zoom into or out of image using slide bar at bottom of interface

Basic Fixes has the following enhancements : -
Tuning provides the following options : -


Effects provide a number of different effects to modify the features of photo : -

Now large number of image editing features are available in Picasa and there shouldn't be any need for any external image editing program .

At the bottom of interface you would find buttons allowing you to easily Print , Blog ,Email ,Collage Photos there are number of other features which are not being documented here .

Picasa Make Collage Feature

Now i tried 'Blogthis' button but to my dismay this feature didn't seem to work. However Print and Email photos did work well. I was pleasantly surprised to note that Picasa offered to Email photos using Gmail account apart from allowing using POP3 accounts and some Picasa Mail(Couldn't check it out) ,this can be really helpful for someone without a POP3 account(most of us) .

Picasa Email Feature


Besides all the image editing features , you can also view images in the library as slide show or screen saver .

A Slide-Show Session in Progress
Another nice feature of picasa was it's ability to create AVI(Movie) file from images in the library , to create avi file first choose images you would like to assemble as movie file the go to (Create -> Movie ) you will find dialog box similar to this choose dealy time and Movie size and press ok to start creating movie file from images selected.


After pressing ok button you will find another dialog box similar to this asking for some other details on pressing "OK" movie of the images selected would be created. As mentioned before the movie created is in AVI Format .


Another great feature i really liked in Picasa was ' Export as Web Page ' feature , on selecting a group of images from the library and selecting Folder -> Export as Webpage or Pressing (Ctrl + W) you will get a couple of dialog boxes asking for how web page should look after completing these steps you would find all the images shown in the default web browser as web page which then could be uploaded .






Dialog box asking for image size in web page


Dialog box asking which template to use for web page(How web page should look)

Finally this is how web page of selected images looks


Overall Picasa is an extremely professional application for Photo Management that provides a host of impressive features ,it is availability of quality applications like picasa that encourages people to use Linux on desktop . However picasa is still a Windows application that runs on Linux using compatibility layer and so there are some minor issues with application stability and it would be really nice to see Google develop native version of Picasa for Linux .




Article written by Ambuj Varsney
(C) 2007, Ambuj Varshney
For Linux On Desktop Blog (http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com)