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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Review : Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex"

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Ubuntu is one of the most popular desktop Linux distribution around and the latest avatar/version of Ubuntu , Ubuntu 8.10 named "Intrepid Ibex" is due to be released in few days (October 30 to be Precise) . Being a huge Ubuntu fan , I decided to give the RC version Ubuntu 8.10(released a day back) a try , to see some of the exciting new changes and additions that we can expect in the latest version of Ubuntu.

One of the first things you would notice after booting into Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop , is the new improved Human theme which has got a tinge of Orange. Status bar,Buttons glow and few icons have been changed and made more friendly looking. Ubuntu 8.10 also includes a brand new theme "Dark Room".
This is how my desktop looks with "Dark Room" theme applied

However , with "Dark Room" theme I noticed I was unable to read text in Menu Bar sometimes.

Improved Shutdown dialog box
Ubuntu 8.10 includes the latest stable version of Gnome - Gnome 2.24 . Gnome 2.24 is an extremely polished desktop environment and includes a host of feature addition. Nautilus the default File Manager in Gnome , now supports like Mozilla Firefox , Tab Browsing allowing you to browse number of different directory location inside a single nautilus window in separate tabs. Also Nautilus now supports encrypted private directory.
Multiple tabs in Nautilus, also note new eject icons infront of mountable drives and encrypted folders

Furthermore , Ubuntu 8.10 includes improved Network Management tool allowing you to easily configure your DSL , Wireless , Wired , VPN etc networks.
Gui tool for Managing Network connection

Ubuntu 8.10 supports "Guest Login" allowing anyone to log into Ubuntu machine without having an account ,however only catch is Guest users will not get access to any file of other users or be able to create files for security reason. This is especially useful where a single computer is used by a number of users , and you dont want others to peek into your files.

Hardware support has definitely improved with version of Ubuntu 8.10 , everything from Network Card , Bluetooth to Sound Card worked out of box on my cranky old Lenovo y410 laptop, In fact prior to version 8.10 I had hell lot of trouble configuring my sound card properly and even then headphone jack never worked properly. Inclusion of Alsa-1.0.17 in Ubuntu has definitely improved audio hardware support.Also there is improved support for NVidia graphics chipset/card. Proprietary drives can be easily downloaded and installed onto the system from (System -> Administration -> Hard Ware Drivers ). One reason why HardWare support is better in Ubuntu 8.10 is Ubuntu 8.10 is based on Linux kernel 2.6.27 which has significantly better hardware support.


Also , I am not sure whether it's me only or other people have also noticed that Intrepid Ibex runs a lot faster compared to earlier version of Ubuntu - "Hardy Heron" everything opens in a jiffy.

On the Software side , File-Roller now supports ALZ, RZIP, CAB, TAR.7Z file types , Ubuntu 8.10 includes updated version of X.Org - X.Org 7.4 which includes new much helpful failsafe X to diagnose cases where X Server fails to start. Ubuntu 8.10 also includes updated Samba 3.2 for browsing Windows Share on a network.

However , Ubuntu 8.10 includes older version of Open Office even though Stable 3.0 Version of Open Office is out. Though it will not be difficult for someone to update Open Office from repositories on a new Ubuntu 8.10 system.

Conclusion : Overall Ubuntu 8.10 is a well polished desktop Linux distribution , though not radically different from earlier version 8.04 of Ubuntu. Features like Tabbed Browsing in Nautilus , Encrypted Folders , better Hardware support ,being faster etc are reason compelling enough to Upgrade to the latest offering from Ubuntu team.

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Linux on Desktop Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Installing Adoble Flash Player 10 in Ubuntu 8.04

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Adobe a couple of days back released the latest version ( 10) of their popular Adobe Flash Player and surprised many by releasing a full fledged Linux version of the Flash Player simultaneously with the release for other popular operating systems.

Adobe Flash Player 10 includes a number of new features like visual performance improvements ,GPU hardware acceleration , native 3D transformation and animation , advance audio processing , custom filters etc. Linux users will notice among other things improved performance of Full Screen Video playback , transparency through Flash, and page elements rendered above Flash support as well as improved overall performance of Adobe Flash Player.

Some of the major new additions to Adobe Flash Player 10 includes :

  • Improved support for 3D Effects
  • Custom Filters and Effects
  • Dynamic Streaming - Streaming videos that adjust to network conditions
  • Hardware Acceleration
  • Dynamic Sound Generation
  • Advanced Text Support
etc. For a detailed look into the features of Adobe Flash Player 10 visit this link.

However , like the earlier releases Adobe still does not provide package for 64bit version of Linux which is somewhat disappointing.

Installing Adobe Flash Player 10(32 bit) in Ubuntu 8.04 :

Note : Close all the instances of Mozilla Firefox before issuing the following commands.

First we need to remove any existing version of Flash Player that you might have , you can do so easily by issuing the following commands in the Terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ):
sudo apt-get remove flashplugin-nonfree
Now finally to download and install Adobe Flash Player 10 , issue the following command :
wget http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/get/flashplayer/current/install_flash_player_10_linux.deb
and
sudo dpkg -i install_flash_player_10_linux.deb
Flash should be properly installed , you can verify so by launching firefox and typing in "about:plugins" in the address bar. This should show you all the plugins installed in your system , you should see Adobe Flash Player 10 listed here , if it installed properly.
Adobe Flash Player 10 listed as installed plugin in Mozilla Firefox

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Linux on Desktop Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dillo : Light Weight webbrowser for Linux hits version 2.0

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Dillo is a Multi platform lightweight web browser that has been in development for close to 8 years now, it is feature rich with features like Tabbed Browsing , support for multiple languages , anti-aliased text etc while occupying an extremely small memory footprint.

Dillo has been used as default web browser by a number of lightweight Linux distributions like Damn Small Linux , VectorLinux etc. Dillo supports CGI Forms , SSL , Cookies though it misses support for Javascript which limits its usage slightly. However , Dillo was never intended to replace normal web browser instead it was designed to be usable on simplest of hardware(like really old computers , or may be PDA's ) for displaying simple web pages quickly and accurately which it does extremely well. Dillo could be particularly useful for Kiosk terminals where we don't have access to expensive hardware needed for running modern web browsers. Also Dillo has been used extensively by Web Developers to check for Web comply-ability of there websites using bug meter feature in Dillo.

This is how Dillo's website describes Bug Meter :

Dillo's bug meter shows the number of detected bugs inside a web page. The bugs are caught at parsing time, and therefore the error messages also show the line where they occur and provide a hint of what was expected instead!
Dillo with version 2.0 has moved to FLTK2(Fast Light Wight Toolkit ) from GTK , which has made Dillo even faster . I found on a fairly modern computer astonishingly , Dillo occupied Less then 3 MB of memory to render a fairly complex web page.

Impressed , you can easily install Dillo by issuing the following command in the Terminal(Application -> Accessories -> Terminal ) window:
wget http://misc.andi.de1.cc/dillo/dillo_2.0-1_i386.deb
and
sudo dpkg - i dillo_2.0-1_i386.deb
If the above command worked without any problem , you should have Dillo installed properly . You can Launch Dillo from (Applications -> Internet -> Dillo ).
Dillo in Action :)

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Linux on Desktop Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney