All posts tagged ‘Linux’

File Under: Software & Tools

Lightweight Linux Desktop Proves Popular with Netbooks

LxdeLinuxWorld is under way in San Francisco this week (see Wired’s coverage) and gOS, the Linux distro that made a splash after Walmart started selling gOS-equipped PCs, is back with a new release.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the new gOS is that the distro has adopted the newer, lightweight LXDE (which stands for Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment), giving the old Enlightenment desktop the heave-ho in the process.

And gOS isn’t the only vender moving over to LXDE; the site lists a handful of others (including Ubuntulite, an Ubuntu derivative) that will ship or already are shipping with LXDE instead of Gnome or even Xfce.

Given that Linux has proved a popular money-saving choice for netbooks and low-cost, low-power internet PCs, it isn’t really surprising that venders are looking for a lightweight alternative to Gnome — something to reduce the hardware load.

Of course that’s not to say that LXDE is somehow less full-featured than Gnome, all the things you would expect — tabbed filebrowser, session manager, theme tools, terminal, text editor and more — are in LXDE, but the underlying framework allows for much lighter hardware requirements.

Indeed that’s part of the pitch on the distros’ website: “Not everyone on this earth is rich. There must be a nice desktop environment for those who can’t afford new fancy hardware, and we have the ability to help them.”

I’m curious to know if any Webmonkey readers have used LXDE. If so, let us know what you think in the comments. I’m planning on giving it a try (probably using Ubuntulite in a virtual machine) but if you have experiences with LXDE, let me know.

If you’d like to see some more screenshots, DesktopLinux has a few. The official LXDE website has several as well.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Transmission: New Version Offers Remote Control Torrent Tools

TransmissionA new version of Transmission, the popular Mac/Linux BitTorrent client, has been released. This is a significant update that adds a new browser-based interface for managing your torrents remotely. The remote features come from Clutch, which has been included with the latest version of Transmission.

The new remote management feature is listed as experimental, but I didn’t have any trouble setting it up and was able to browse and control torrents from other machines on my home network. Firefox 3 didn’t load the stylesheet quite right on my Mac, but the Windows version had no trouble.

The Transmission web interface uses a CSS skin that makes it look indistinguishable from the actual app, so there’s no hunting for menu items in unfamiliar places. All permissions and IP whitelists are handled through the client, but otherwise the web interface has the same basic feature set.

Also new in this version of Transmission is support for Leopard’s Quick Look feature — just select a torrent and hit the spacebar. Of course if most of your torrent downloads are folders or disk images there isn’t much to see in Quick Look, but it’s there if you want it.

As commenters on Lifehacker have pointed out, the ability to serve Clutch out over SSL has been removed. But, as also discussed in the comments, you could set up SSL encryption if you have access to an Apache server you can use as a proxy.

Transmission is free and you can grab the latest Mac and Linux versions from the download page.

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KDE 4.1 is a Must-Have Upgrade for KDE 4 Fans

Kde41The KDE development community announced the release of version 4.1 of its desktop environment Wednesday, aimed at addressing shortcomings of its initial 4.0 release.

KDE 4.x is a huge departure from KDE 3.x. Many felt that KDE 4.0 was released a bit prematurely, but today’s KDE 4.1 solidifies many of the much-hyped changes and resolves most of the problems that plagued KDE 4.0.

In short, KDE 4.1 delivers what KDE 4.0 should have been. The new version of the desktop environment packs a ton of user interface improvements, more KDE 4 native applications and a significantly better desktop interface, codenamed “Plasma.”

The revamped Plasma tools in KDE 4.1 are looking very slick with a new system for creating the menus and panels that make up your desktop. Plasma now supports multiple and resizable panels making it every bit as flexible as KDE 3. The new graphical controls for resizing panels mean no more digging into the internals of your system just to resize a simple toolbar.

The Dolphin file manager has also been improved with support for tabbed file browsing. Both Dolphin and Konquerer have gained (regained in Konquerer’s case) the old KDE 3 tree-view option. The Run command dialog has been overhauled as well, making it easier for power users to quickly launch applications, open documents and visit websites.

Longtime KDE fans will be happy to note that Kontact, the KDE PIM app, has been ported to KDE 4 bringing with it the integrated calendar, mail program, address book and more.

KDE 4.1 also brings a new video program (DragonPlayer) and a much improved new CD audio player.

However, despite the improvements, KDE 4.1 still feels primarily aimed at developers wanting to work with new libraries.

For normal users, especially those familiar with KDE 3.x, there’s still a number of missing features, strange behaviors and bugs. For instance, many familiar KDE 3 key bindings don’t seem to work or have been changed. Desktop panels still have some bugs. Also, common tasks like switching virtual desktops or resizing windows are less snappy than other platforms.

Speaking of other platforms, KDE isn’t just for Linux. Curious Mac and Windows users can check out the state of KDE 4 on those platforms as well. In both cases the projects are not necessarily aimed at providing a desktop environment (which both Mac and Windows already have), but adding the underlying frameworks to allow you to run KDE apps no matter what desktop you’re using. Keep in mind, both are relatively young projects and neither is considered ready for prime time.

Of course, if you’re the early adopter type, we definitely suggest upgrading — KDE 4.1 is a vast improvement over 4.0, but everyday users may want to wait for KDE 4.2 or perhaps 4.3 before making the leap.

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Shuttleworth: ‘Linux is Mobile OS of the Future’

Mark Shuttleworth in Portland

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth gave a keynote at O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention in Portland on Tuesday, affirming that Linux is the platform for the future. On Monday, he gave a more laid-back version to a couple hundred people at a theater pub, including mostly Q&A.

He discussed his 2002 trip to the International Space Station, including a lively anecdote about nearly activating the escape sequence. Where Shuttleworth really preached was when he discussed the future of free software to the open source crowd.

On Mobile

“I have no doubt Linux is the platform for mobile devices in the future.”

“iPhone set the benchmark for what to expect of a mobile phone.”

Shuttleworth noted that the influence of iPhone will go beyond phones. There will be many devices that are neither laptop nor desktop.

“We’re talking about picture frames, remote controls, television sets, hotel in-room, video-on-demand, porn-delivery systems. Anything in the future that you can imagine touching or interacting with.”

On Open Source

In 2003 “we were just scratching the surface of what is possible with free software, both in terms of the amount of energy that’s going into the free software stack and in terms of the economics of it.

We needed to find a way to deliver a certified free software stack, something that’s good enough for production, that’s not a second class offering, and deliver that free of charge. That means trying to find business models around it that are entirely service-based.”

Shuttleworth lauded Redhat and Novell for reaching their technical audiences who enjoy playing OS mechanic. He said to go further, we need to focus on the audiences that require software to work without tinkering.

“Users have the right to expect secure, robust, tested, integrated and supported software.”

Signs are that Linux is making positive improvements. Shuttleworth said recent data from Chinese users given Linux machines is that as many as 20% leave Linux installed, surprisingly high for a country where piracy is less shunned.

One of Shuttleworth’s larger laughs of the night came from a quip about users installing copied versions of Windows:

“People say installing Linux is hard. You should try installing (pirated) Windows.”

On Microsoft

“I have great respect for Microsoft. A lot of people forget this, but Microsoft made software cheap. Before Microsoft, software was expensive.”

Shuttleworth also noted that Microsoft created standards where there were none before. Then he shrugged and acknowledged that the standards might not be the ones that Open Source advocates wanted.

“In the 80s, that was the best way to move software forward. Now I think free software is the best way to move software forward.”

On Shrink-wrapped Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a free operating system, but one audience member relayed a story of seeing a boxed version on a shelf at Best Buy.

“I’m delighted. I want to see other companies be successful around the platform. If that gives people who would not otherwise try free software a reason to try free software, I think that’s great.”

On One Laptop Per Child

“Extraordinary success. Entire category of sub-notebooks would not have happened without One Laptop Per Child.”

On Linux Gaming

“There are two pieces: networking, where we’re strong, and graphics where we’re weak.”

Shuttleworth suggested that casual gaming, where users do not have high graphical expectations, is a place to start.

On Developers

Shuttleworth lamented the decrease in software engineering degrees, then predicted a software-rich future.

“Some people don’t think software matters any more. Look at the iPhone, or Facebook. The whole experience is a software experience. More and more interactions in our life will be driven by software.”

For those who want the full effect, listen to a crowd-recorded audio version of Shuttleworth’s talk.

Shuttleworth photo courtesy of Hockley Photography

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File Under: operating systems

Check Out Ubuntu’s New ‘Dark Knight’ Look

UbuntuthemeAs Ubuntu fans know progress on the next version, dubbed Intrepid Ibex, is already underway, with a second alpha release available. We’ve already taken a look at what’s scheduled for Ubuntu 8.10, but one thing we haven’t seen yet is the new theme.

Originally a new theme was planned for Ubuntu 8.04, which came out earlier this year, but at the last minute the theme was pulled.

However Ubuntu 8.10 alpha 1 debuted a radical new look for Ubuntu with a much darker, more subdued theme than the familiar orange and brown we’ve all come to love or hate depending on your tastes.

Phorolinux has a nice collection of screenshots of the theme in alpha 1 which are worth having a look at. Before you rush out and install, keep in mind this is alpha software and should not be used in a production environment (I can’t even get it to install in my virtual machine).

Also keep in mind that this is simply one of what could be many test themes, although, that said, the theme didn’t change between the alpha 1 and alpha 2 releases.

If you’ve got opinions on Ubuntu’s new look (ephemeral though it may be) be sure to let us know.

[via Tombuntu, screenshot from phorolinux]

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