All posts tagged ‘Linux’

File Under: Glossary


Apache is a freely available, and highly popular, open-source web server.

Originally, Apache was designed for Unix. Now versions are available for most operating systems including Windows, OSX and Linux. There are also numerous add-ons and tailored versions of the server using the Apache module API. The name Apache comes from its origins as a series of “patch files.”

Read Webmonkey’s Apache for Beginners article for more details about Apache.

Information and downloads can be found at the Apache Software Foundation website.

File Under: Browsers, Software

Chrome for Mac and Linux Is Here. Be Excited

Google has made the first betas of its Chrome web browser available for Mac and Linux users, the company announced Tuesday.

Here are the links for Mac and Linux. You should download Chrome and begin using it now. These are still betas and not as stable as a final releases, but everyone who lives and works on the web should experience Chrome first hand.

The reason is simple: Chrome is very, very fast. Sickeningly fast, actually. Faster than every other browser not just in page rendering and JavaScript performance, but as a desktop client software app, as well.

For the past two months, I’ve been using Google Chrome as my primary browser on both of my Macintosh computers, an old Mac Mini and a new iMac. Even though it wasn’t officially available for Mac and Linux, Google posted developers’ builds for early adopters to try out. The company warned that they weren’t fully ready — the easiest way to find them was to run a search for “Google Chrome danger” — but in my tests, I found Chrome to have very few problems. More like quirks, actually.

Even as a test app, it has largely replaced Firefox as my go-to browser. It occupies the top slot in my Mac’s Dock, just below the Finder.

The pre-beta Mac version had problems with some text input fields, like the one in WordPress used for composing blog posts. It also had a few issues with the scrollbar causing the video playback window to go blank on some sites. The pre-beta Linux version had fewer problems, but it did exhibit some strange user interface behaviors.

Now, those problems have been ironed out. The Chrome development team has been very cautious about releasing Mac and Linux versions of the browser that are free of bugs and as stable as possible, which is the reason these betas have taken so long. Feeling the pressure, Google made a public promise to release the betas before the end of the year.

I should point out that you need an Intel Mac and OS X 10.5 or later to run the Mac version. The Linux version of Chrome runs in both Gnome and KDE, and it can be installed with most package managers.

Windows users have had official releases for over a year now, allowing Chrome to capture just over five percent of the browser share. Also on Tuesday, Google released an extensions platform for the non-Mac versions of Chrome. This lack of extensions is the one thing keeping a lot of people from switching to Chrome from Firefox, still the preferred browser of most forward-looking web citizens.

So, now that Chrome is widely available and has extensions (official extensions support for the Mac is coming soon, but the daring can enable them now by jumping through some hoops), should Mozilla, Apple and Opera be worried?

They’re all smart companies, so we’re sure they already are. Besides possessing the sex appeal of the “new shiny,” Chrome delivers where every other browser falls short — the promise of extreme speed.

I’ve been using it for everything. Amazon, news websites and blogs, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, uploading photos to Flickr and Picasa, browsing HD content on Vimeo. Of course, all of the Google apps perform like lightning. Gmail, Google Reader, Calendar, Docs and Wave are all so responsive, they almost don’t feel like web apps. With the exception of YouTube, all of Google’s web apps, and most other web apps, perform with almost zero latency.

This is a big advantage for Google. The speed is thanks to the company’s own V8 JavaScript engine, as well as its work on Webkit, the open source page-rendering engine used by Chrome, Safari and a few other small browsers. As with the other modern (non-IE) browsers, Chrome was designed to get as much performance as possible out of cutting-edge web apps, so you get solid support for HTML5, CSS 3 and all the Ajaxy stuff.

Chrome is totally bare bones, making it lean and ultra-responsive. Tabs slide open and closed, and they’re on the top of the window, reducing clutter. Subtle fades and shading effects are applied to the inactive areas of the browser, helping highlight whatever it is you’re looking at.

Chrome’s “Omnibox” is a revelation. It takes the idea of Firefox’s “Awesomebar,” a combination URL bar and a search box for history and bookmarks, and goes one step further. Chrome does away with all other input fields, so if you need any information at all, there’s one place to ask for it. The Omnibox responds to the characters you’re typing, suggesting sites from your history, your favorites and from Google’s suggested search system. Firefox’s interface does the same thing, but it does it with two input fields (Firefox draws revenue from its separate search box, which defaults to Google) and Firefox doesn’t respond as quickly with suggestion.

There are lots of other things Chrome does. It isolates web apps into their own tabs, so a crashing app doesn’t crash the whole browser. It has themes and private browsing, and a thumbnail view of your favorite sites appears when you open a new tab.

Extensions support will remain a sticking point for many users. For everyday browsing, I found I didn’t really miss my extensions that much. And if I did, Firefox was only a mouse gesture away.

Look at it this way. Browsers are free, and they all have their particular strengths, so you should really have at least two.

Firefox is great. It’s fast enough, safe and full of useful features, like a five-seater Volvo or a sporty VW sedan. But when you just want to rip around as fast as you can, you go for the two-seater Porsche.

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File Under: operating systems

First Look: Ubuntu 8.10 Arrives, Bringing More User-Friendly Features

ubuntu.jpgThe official next generation release of Ubuntu Linux has just landed. Intrepid Ibex, as this version is known, promises a number of subtle but important feature updates that help make Ubuntu even more user-friendly.

Overall not too much has changed from the beta release we tested earlier, but there were a few last-minute additions worth mentioning: “Cruft Remover” is new utility that tries to get rid of unneeded software packages, and there’s also a new tool for creating a bootable USB stick.

Ubuntu 8.10 is already burning up the torrent tubes, but if you’re holding back here’s a few of the new features that make Ibex a worthwhile upgrade:

  • GNOME 2.24 — Tabbed windows! Need we say more? See our review of GNOME 2.24 for the gritty details.
  • Network Manager — now manage WiFi, 3G and other connections all in one spot. No need to mess with manual configuration files.
  • Guest users — The user switching app had been moved to top right corner and now offers a guest account if someone wants to use your PC and you don’t want them messing things up.
  • Xorg 7.4 — hotpluggable devices (tablets, keyboards, mice, etc) and better stability.
  • More — there are some other small but nice additions — support for encrypted private directories, a new versions of Samba, LDAP and more.

Of the new stuff in Ubuntu 8.10, the most useful in my testing has been the updated version of GNOME. In addition to the tabbed file browser windows many of the GNOME panel applets have seen some very nice updates. The Deskbar search app for instance can now perform calculator operations, search Google and even update Twitter, which has made my old solution — Gnome-do — largely unnecessary.

One thing that still hasn’t changed is the Ubuntu look — the default theme remains more or less the same with some new desktop art. Experienced Linux fans are of course experts at customizing their systems so for many it probably isn’t a huge deal since they’ll change the defaults anyway. Of course there is a new dark theme (pictured above), but you’ll need to delve into the themes panel to enable it (we really like this look, it stays true to Ubuntu’s esthetics, but is considerably more polished).

However, from a new-user point of view, Ubuntu’s look is, well, looking a bit long in the tooth. And with Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth publicly calling for more emphasis on interface design it seem odd that, thus far, the default theme remains nearly the same.

Still, despite the familiar look (which may be a good thing for some users) Ubuntu 8.10 is a worthwhile upgrade. You can grab the latest version from the Ubuntu downloads page. And as with all Ubuntu releases, Kubuntu and the other derivatives have been updated as well.

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File Under: operating systems

Ubuntu Linux Gearing Up for Final Release of ‘Intrepid Ibex’

ubuntu.jpgThe next major version of Ubuntu Linux is almost ready. The Ubuntu Linux team has announced release candidate 1, which will be followed by the final release due next week. It may not be quite ready for prime time, but RC 1 of “Intrepid Ibex,” as this release is known, promises a number of important improvements for the popular Linux distribution.

The latest release of Ubuntu 8.10 follows in the footsteps of Ubuntu 8.04, nick-named “Hardy Heron,” with some subtle, but important feature updates that make Ubuntu even more user-friendly.

The main changes from the earlier beta release are bug fixes and stability improvements. For more details on what’s new in Ubuntu 8.10, check out our review of the first beta.

Most of the changes are improvements to the Ubuntu UI — tabbed windows in GNOME, a better Network manager, improved encryption tools, etc — but one thing to be aware of is that the version behind Ubuntu 8.10 drops support for some older, proprietary nVidia video drivers.

The 71 and 96 series of proprietary nVidia drivers (the ones previously included in the nvidia-glx-legacy and nvidia-glx packages) are not compatible with the version of X.Org that ships with Ubuntu 8.10. If you have a PC with one of the affected chipsets you’ll need to upgrade to the free nVidia driver instead, but unfortunately that driver does not support 3D acceleration.

Other known issues include problems with Intel 4965 wireless chips, which can cause system crashes (there’s a solution available using the backports feature).

Still, despite the lingering issues, Ubuntu 8.10 is shaping up to be a very nice update for the popular Linux distro. We’ll be sure to give you a full review when the final version is available. In the mean time you can test the release candidate by grabbing a copy from the Ubuntu downloads page.

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Picasa for Linux 3.0: Photo Management Done Right

picasa.jpgGoogle’s Picasa photo editing tool for Linux has caught up to its Windows sibling with a new beta 3 release. The latest version of Picasa for Linux packs in all the features from the recent Windows beta, save one — there’s no slideshow movie feature.

The lack of slideshow movies is due to shortcomings in Wine, which powers Picasa for Linux. But the latest version packs in enough new features to keep most users happy.

The most notable of the changes are vast improvements to the way Picasa integrates with other apps. For instance, it now uses your preferred file manager to show files on disk and can use your default e-mail program to send photos directly from Picasa.

picasa linux

There also new support for the camera detection features in both GNOME and KDE flavors of Linux, so whenever you plug in your camera, you’ll be prompted to open Picasa.

And yes, the rest of the new features from the Windows release are all here — faster performance, automatic web syncing, all the new retouching tools and more. Our personal favorite: you can now move entire folders around on your hard drive from within Picasa 3.

Mac users, however, will have to wait. Google still hasn’t released any more details about the long-awaited release of Picasa for Mac OS X. Since there were some rumblings that a release could be right around the corner as far back as the Macworld conference and expo last January, a release can’t be too far off.

The facial recognition “Name Tags” feature is a component of Picasa Web Albums, the online sharing component tied to the Picasa desktop software, so all Picasa Web members should have access to that feature regardless of which operating system they’re using.

For a complete rundown of everything that’s new, check out the release notes. You can grab the latest version here.

[screenshot via Google]

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