5 Ways to Misunderstand FOSS

The following are 5 ways that people misunderstand the concept of Free and Open Source Software.[...]

7 Cool VLC Features Worth Knowing

Think you know all about VLC, I bet you don't until you read this![...]

5 Things Microsoft Does not want you to know about Windows

Are you a happy Windows user? Well see what Redmond would rather you never find out![...]

How to Make your Own Linux Distro

Want to create your own Linux distro? This guide will show you various ways of creating your own customized Linux Distro[...]

Internet Cafes with Linux

Linux is a great operating system for networking. So how is it possible to not see Linux in Internet cafes and LAN houses ??? There are no cyber cafe / LAN house managers in Linux? [...]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meet the Acer Stream- The Android Powered phone from Acer

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Data obfuscation- A great way to teach Facebook a lesson

No doubt Facebook is a great platform for networking and meeting very nice people from all over the world. But when the people behind the computers over at Facebook Inc. begin to see end users as cartoons that can be treated anyhow, then those users surely would need to tell Facebook their piece of mind.

We looked at some 6 killer tips to wean yourself off of Facebook. That is for those who would want to either eventually quit or cut down the number of hours they spend on the site. The recent calls for people to delete their Facebook accounts like the Quit Facebook Day campaign will at best be like a drop of teaspoon in the ocean. People may be pissed off by the actions of Zuckerberg, but not sure if they want to quit.

In steps the concept of data obfuscation. The dictionary defines the word obfuscation as "to obscure, to confuse, make unclear..." Instead of asking people to quit completely, it would rather be more effective and have far reaching repercussions if those users are encouraged to deliberately change their data. 

Be on Facebook, but change your sex to female when you are male, divorced when your are happily married, have 48 children when in fact you are still in high school. Change all that data and more to abstract ones such that your friends know you are kidding but the servers that crawl such data do not have the brains to know!

Services like Facebook make money from the data you give them. That is what they can sell to advertisers. Obfuscate that data and all they are selling to those advertisers will be nonsensical info that makes the targeting of ads nigh impossible. Asking people to quit will sure not work or have any meaningful impact. There's still 400 million people there that am not sure will willingly oblige leaving their farms or stop their mafia wars. 

Instead of Quit Facebook Days, why not have Obfuscate Your Facebook Data Now!?

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 1 comment

Let Firefox check these annoyances

There is a lot of debate going on about the future of the Firefox browser relative to Google Chrome. Glyn Moody for instance is of the view that the Mozilla Foundation needs to fork the browser to have another one to compete head on with Google Chrome. It is not so impossible to envisage a gloomy future for Firefox should it be overtaken in terms of users by Chrome.

As an end user of both Google Chrome and Firefox, with the former now being my primary browser both on my Ubuntu lappy and XP box at work, I think there are certain basic annoyances that when checked, could go a long way to secure the future of Firefox as the dominant Open Source browser out there.

Add on management
This to me is a killer factor between which of the two browsers I use. With Chrome, when I want to install an add on, all I need to do is install it and it is immediately ready to use. No fuss. Now come to Firefox. Install the addon and it nags you to restart the browser for the changes to take effect. And unless you do, there is no way that addon will be available for you to use. It just should not be so.

Update Management
I wonder why Firefox does not auto-update addons I install but has to nag me so much to do so. If I have 10 addons installed, I always need to keep manually updating and restarting my browser to update them individually whenever there is an update for them. Can't the browser spare me this and do it on its own? Or at least if I need to manually update my addons, then could I be spared the need to restart the browser?

Addon checks
Firefox out of the box is light and resource friendly, though still not as much as Google Chrome. The problem of Firefox has sometimes got to do with some addons. For whatever reason, some addons tend to needlessly hose the browser resulting in a high spike in CPU usage. I think more checks need to go into what kind of addons are submitted to the addon bank over at repository.

These are the three key annoyances I find to be make or break deals for Firefox. If it is to remain the dominant force it is today in the very competitive browser market, then it needs to check these downsides which are Chrome's strengths. I really do like Firefox, but until these annoyances are checked, it will remain my secondary browser, used not as often as I do Google Chrome.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

Photo Rec - Linux saving your deleted data


PhotoRec is a recovery software for data and files, designed to recover lost files including video, documents and files on hard disks, CD-ROMs, pictures and images (hence the name Photo Recovery) from digital camera's memory.

PhotoRec ignores the filesystem and goes after the underlying data, so it keeps working even if the file system of the media is severely damaged or reformatted.

PhotoRec is free - this open source multi-platform application   is distributed under the GNU General Public License. PhotoRec is a companion program to TestDisk, an application to recover lost partitions in a wide variety of file systems and fix problems with disks with boot issues.

Operating Systems

PhotoRec runs under


  • DOS/Win9x
  • Windows NT 4/2000/XP/2003/Vista
  • Linux
  • FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD
  • Sun Solaris
  • Mac OS X


and can be compiled on almost all Unix systems.


File systems

PhotoRec ignores the file system and works even if the filesystem is severely damaged.
You can recover lost files from:

  • FAT,
  • NTFS
  • Ext2/ext3
  • HFS +

ReiserFS includes some special optimizations centered around tails, a name for files and end portions of files that are smaller than a filesystem block. In order to increase performance, ReiserFS is able to store files inside the b*tree leaf nodes themselves, rather than storing the data somewhere else on the disk and pointing to it. Unfortunately, PhotoRec isn't able to deal with this - that's why it doesn't work well with ReiserFS.

Media

PhotoRec works with hard drives, CD-ROMs, memory cards (Compact Flash, Memory Stick, SecureDigital / SD, SmartMedia, Microdrive, MMC, etc.), USB memory drives, DD raw image, EnCase E01 image, etc..
PhotoRec was successfully tested with various portable media players, including iPod and several digital cameras.

Known file formats

If there is no data fragmentation, which is often the case, it can retrieve the entire file. PhotoRec recognizes many file formats, including ZIP, Office, PDF, HTML, JPEG and various graphics formats. The entire list of file formats recovered by PhotoRec contains more than 320 families file extensions (about 200 files).


Using Photo REC.

The best way to use  PhotoRec is in a maintenance LiveCD distro . Currently, Photo REC is present in the repositories of major distributions, and  in the following maintenance distros: Ultimate Boot CD, System Rescue CD,  RIPLinux and Parted Magic.
Since PhotoRec works in a non-destructive way, that is, it only reads the media, not writing it in any way, it will need another media / disk to save the files that it identified during the reading. I advise you to boot the compromised system with a LiveCD maintenance distro, any of the distros mentioned above and use a PenDrive as auxiliary memory for storing the recovered files. Pendrives with 4, 8, 16 Gigabytes of ram or more are suitable here, depending on the extent of the damage on the analyzed hard drive .
PhotoRec, despite running at the command line, is an interactive program and very easy to use. Note: The disk to be analyzed should be unmounted. When you enter PhotoRec specify which disk is going to be analyzed, which file extensions  PhotoRec should look for and where the read files will be stored, and just let it work. Once retrieved, the files can be analyzed since  PhotoRec retrieves the files and places a generic name on them. In my experiences, I have a success rate of almost 100% with graphics files, audio and some video files. With document files in proprietary formats, results may vary, since proprietary file formats may not be fully recognized by PhotoRec.
PhotoRec is also very useful to do forensic analysis of hard drives. Along with TestDisk, it can recover files from formatted partitions and get proof and evidence that would otherwise be lost. The caveat to be made here is  about the process of Zero-Fill, which writes a pattern on the HD , making impossible to recover it later.
PhotoRec and TestDisk  are creations of Chistophe Grennier.

Site: http://www.cgsecurity.org/

Sharing is Caring:
By Alessandro Ebersol with No comments

Monday, May 17, 2010

Internet Cafes With Linux

Linux is a great operating system for networking. So how is it possible to  not see Linux in Internet cafes and lan houses ??? There are no cyber cafe / lan house managers  in Linux?

There are lan house / cyber cafe managers in Linux, and the (almost) massive presence of window$ is due more to ignorance of the general public, and the disordered (piracy) spread of window$ than anything else.


I will not address only one  system for managing cyber cafe / lan house here,  but four, which may serve to set up a cyber cafe / lan house with Linux.



LanBR


LanBr is a manager software  that helps to control and manage of Lan Houses and Cyber Cafes powered by Linux, in order to ease the operations of daily life in an internet cafe/ lan house environment.

The system is constantly evolving and has many features to achieve a good management of Lan Houses or Cyber Cafes in Linux.

Currently LanBr is distributed in three distinct versions:

  • LanBr Free: Totally Free Version manager to control and limited up to 16 stations simultaneously, one dedicated for immediate use of Linux on your lan house at no cost. The basic support is provided in a toll free session of the Creativa Club's Portal. The features of  Free LanBr are enough for  basic control and management of a small internet cafe.
  • LanBr Light: This version is available through a subscription plan (starting at R$ 19.90 monthly), being able to control up to 48 machines depending on the plan chosen. The LanBr Light offers excellent value for money and there are many other advantages through the Creativa Club's Portal, as enhanced support, tutorials, tips and advice.
  • LanBr EX : If you need a manager with extra features, more robust, capable of providing an excellent management and control of the establishment, there is also an expert supported version, custom tailored for the needs of the customer. It's also a paid version.


Regardless of version, the manager LanBr, the client and server modules are constantly updated, ensuring better security and fix for problems in accordance with the feedback from users.

Created with Free Pascal and running under dosemu, LanBr is available in rpm (Mandriva, CentOS, Fedora) and deb (Debian and Ubuntu).


Site: http://www.portalcriativa.com.br/lanbr.php


To download the packages for each distribution, follow the installation instructions on the link http://www.portalcriativa.com.br/lanbr_manualserver.php


Open LanHouse

It is a project of Wilson Pinto Junior with help of volunteers and has as main objective to provide a complete and easy LAN Manager for Cyber Cafes and Lan Houses. The Program is all written in Python using Gtk and GNOME Human Guidelines "to an intuitive interface and ease to use".

Features

  • Price particular of machines or users
  • Close applications after finish session
  • Support the plugins
  • Support the tickets
  • Support the pre-paid mode
  • Shutdown/Reboot remotely
  • User management with credit control
  • Machine management with time and price control
  • Autodetect new machines into server
  • History control
  • Limited and non limited modes
  • Allow logins from machine clients
  • Suport Cash flow
  • Suport Open debts

With packages for Debian (Ubuntu), and Arch Linux, dependencies are:

Core: (both client and server):
Client:
Server:

Site: http://trac.openlanhouse.org/



Cafe Con Leche

CCL (libccls + libcclc) is a library that intends to make the development of internet cafe programs easier, doing some of the work for you. libccls is used to make the server part, and libcclc is used to make the client. It is currently a work in progress, the APIs are subject to changes.

Features
  • It handles the communication betwen client and server, so you don't have to care about sockets, and things like that.
  • Suport for secure connections using OpenSSL.
  • Flexible tarifs system.
  • Support for selling products, etc
  • Support for members (they can have different tarifs)
  • It controls the time of the client sessions, and calculates the price.
  • Support for countdown sessions, session pausing, swaping sessions from one workstation to another, etc.
  • Logging capabilities, and log searching.

Dependencies
  • SQLite (3.0.x series since libccl 0.5.0, 2.8.x before that)
  • glib (2.x series, tested with 2.4.x)
  • FOX Toolkit
  • CCLFox (Client program of the system)

It is developed on Linux, but it is supposed to work everywhere SQLite and Glib, and OpenSSL works. It was tested on Microsoft Windows (98 and XP) and on Linux.

Site: http://ccl.sourceforge.net/

Download: https://sourceforge.net/projects/mkahawa/


Cyborg

CybOrg, the Cybercafe Organizer, is a point of sales and administration system for internet cafes distributed under the GPL. It has a web-based interface and is written in Perl using Template Toolkit and a RDBMS. CybOrg uses a Win32/Linux client to lock workstations.
The system is intended to be used in a (possibly Linux) server and Windows or Linux clients. To lock workstations it currently uses the Zeiberbude client.

The system runs on a web interface, and control terminals via a multi-platform client, which can be used on Windows and Linux platforms.


Currently supported languages are:
  • English (en) (interface and documentation)
  • Spanish (es) (interface and documentation)
  • Dutch (nl) (interface)
  • Portuguese (pt) (interface)
  • Brazilian portuguese (pt_BR) (interface and documentation)
  • German (de) (interface)
  • Greek (el) (interface)


Requirements
The requirements are: A SQL-compliant RDBMS (PostgreSQL is used by the development team and fully supported), a Perl-capable system (Linux is preferred) a HTTP CGI-capable server and some Perl modules (Template Toolkit and others...).
The client runs on any Win32 or Linux system.


Site: http://cyborg.sourceforge.net/index.html.en

Sharing is Caring:
By Alessandro Ebersol with 4 comments

Sunday, May 16, 2010

[VIDEO SUNDAY] Jono Bacon on non-developers in the Ubuntu Community

There are times when you feel you do not belong to the Ubuntu community for your lack of coding knowledge. But is that really true? Do you have to necessarily be a coding geek to contribute to the development of the most popular Linux distro around? The Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon (who I hear likes bacon) talks to Amber Granner about that and more in this video.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Saturday, May 15, 2010

6 kick-ass tips to wean yourself off Facebook

Facebook is the most talked about site in recent days. Previously I've had no qualms about anything whatsoever with regards to privacy. But all that changed when I realized with every upgrade/update or whatever Zuckerberg calls it, *my* settings are overridden with what FB thinks is right for me. Unacceptable!

If like me you have contemplated wiping out your account, don't. The following 6 kick-ass tips should help you stick your foot in Zuckerberg's mouth while still benefiting from the networking capabilities of the service.

1.Wipe out all your personal data- Yes you heard me right. Wipe out all your personal data-marriage, date of birth, employer/school, children- anything that will be of value to any advertiser, wipe it out. Or better still, lie to Facebook. Tell Zuckerberg you are a girl when in fact you are a man. Tell him you schooled in France when you have not set foot outside your country before. Do so and you begin to obfuscate advertisers who will be showing you completely irrelevant ads.

2.Post your photos to Picasa- Instead of uploading your photos to Facebook, rather upload them to Picasa web albums. You can create a public album and dump your photos there if you want the world to see. Or restrict access to them in a private album. Google will never reset *your* privacy settings. If the free 1GB Google offers is not enough, you can always buy more space at the price of a  gum. 

3.Stay away from stupid apps- I am amazed at how easily people give access to their accounts to any application at all. I wonder if they know that those apps get unfettered access to their stuff and info on Facebook as well as spam their friends. I for one do not play any of those games or use any other application to access my account other than three- Ping.Fm, Hootsuite and Gwibber. And yes I *block* all those "kiss my rear for two points" apps that get thrown in my newsfeed.

4.If you cannot stop posting things of a personal nature to Facebook, then setup a blog- Seriously, that is what a blog is meant for. Your web diary of sorts. Do not post things you do not want the world to see on Facebook. There is absolutely no privacy on that network. If you have to post, set up a blog. Blogger and Wordpress are great places to start, the former being my favorite for its legendary simplicity. 

With Blogger, you can restrict access to your blog to those who you hand pick as well as make it public. That setting will also never get overridden. And if you have no qualms about advertisers seeing your personal stuff, why not make some money of them. You can always add Adsense to your posts on Blogger. I for one prefer trusting my data with a company like Google than with one that is run by an amateur who will not hesitate to put them up for sale on Craigslist or Ebay.

5.Post to both Twitter and Facebook- Based on the assumption that you have not set your tweets as protected, post to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. This forces you to post things that you really would not worry about anybody seeing. Then too the 140 character limit on Twitter should help you choose your words carefully so as to say what you ought to say in few words. Less words for Facebook ad bots to crawl. Ping.fm is a great tool to help you post to both networks at the same time.

6.Be careful which sites you access with your Facebook account- Aiming to become the passport to the internet, most sites and services now give you the option of logging into their services with your Facebook account. Be careful and choose to do so wisely. I personally now prefer creating a new account on any service than log in with my Facebook account.

There are many more ways to reduce your dependence on this mammoth monster of a social network. I will update this post as and when I think of any. In the mean time, you can also add your tips for getting people decentralize their lives off of Facebook in the comments.

If you enjoyed this post, please spare a minute to upvote it on Digg and Reddit to share with even more people!

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

[FOSS SAT] A round up of FOSS stories you may have missed from across the web

As part of a new set of schedule we are rolling out on Ghabuntu, we present to you FOSS Friday, where we bring to you round up of Free and Open Source related stories from across the web that were exciting but you may have missed.

Microsoft, Education, Children and FOSS
Over at Techrights, @schestowitz takes an in depth look at how Microsoft is using the Gates Foundation to help solidify the the former's push to get young minds saturated with more Windows gas.

He writes "this article goes beyond the issue of schooling and more into colonization of areas like Africa...there is nothing wrong with feeding people and helping education, but the way this is done here is self-enriching and self-serving" You can continue with his insightful and detailed post here.

Freedom vs. The Cloud Log
Over at H-Online, @glynmoddy (yes author of the Rebel Code) talks to Eben Moglen, who is a former counsel for the FSF about privacy, the cloud open source.

He begins "free software has won: practically all of the biggest and most exciting Web companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter run on it. But it is also in danger of losing, because those same services now represent a huge threat to our freedom as a result of the vast stores of information they hold about us, and the in-depth surveillance that implies." You can continue reading here.

Over a hundred schools using open source in Finland 
Gijs Hillenius over at Osor.eu reports about the use of FOSS in over 100 Finnish schools.
 
He writes "the School of Kasavuori in Kauniainen hosted a conference on its IT use last month. Next to using Ubuntu Linux, the school uses various open source web-based applications that are integrated with the school's user database and other systems, such as Moodle and a wiki." You can read the full story here.

Going Green with Open Source: The West vs the rest of the World
Over at the Opentechexchange, @Opentechdiva takes a look at how advanced countries are contributing to the e-waste menace in developing parts of the world and what role FOSS has to play in mitigating it.

She writes "a combination of hype marketing by PC manufacturers, the fast churn of new components, and OS's that require increasingly more resources lead to high consumer  purchasing.  As well, a lack of knowledge leads people to buy computers that have 10 times the resources they will ever need to simply web browse, send email or modify photos." Continue reading here

Open Source: OpenOffice.org We Have a Problem
Gene of eComStation writes about problems he encountered in getting OO.org working on a client's project. 

He writes "no, I am not a programmer and I do not have time to become one, so suggestions that I fix it myself are not welcome. This is true of the greater majority of software end-users."  Continue reading here.
 

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remote Terminals With Linux - An Introduction


One of the most interesting features of Linux is its versatility. Being able to make complicated configurations out-of-the box. You do not need to buy the ultimate hyper business version  to have the ability to set up  a complex client / server system with dumb terminals and a remote application server.

Creating a client / server network is relatively easy, since the multi-task / multi-user architecture is a native feature of Linux.

But in order to understand this process, it is necessary to work with some theory, where we will see what is a client / server network   with remote dumb terminals, what are its advantages, in which cases it can be used and in what ways it can be implemented on Linux.


A little history

Remote terminals, formerly known as dumb terminals, are in the IT arena for a long time. They were called dumb terminals, because little or no processing was done on the client side. They simply showed the output of the server and communicate user input via keyboard and / or mouse back to the server. The main system was centralized with all data and applications being stored and managed by a single server or a cluster of servers.

The central processing concept has been widely adopted by several companies during the 70's, due to advantages such as fault tolerance, central administration and security.

However, as the cost of PCs dropped a lot  in 80's , the decentralization of the system with individual PCs gained popularity. In addition, PCs introduced several features that dumb terminals did not have , such as a graphical user interface and environment customization by the user.

Decentralization, on the other hand, made the management, maintenance and system upgrade an arduous task, as it should be run locally on each machine.

Since the late 80's to mid 90's, a hybrid of both systems, known as client / server began to dominate computer networking.

The server handles the processing of information in a centralized database, while the client PC runs applications and user interface. Data can be easily preserved and performance was better than sharing files on a common PC.

The problem of maintenance, management and updating (both applications and the operating system) on individual PC's remains one of the main drawbacks of computing with fat/robust clients, since  the most critical parts happen on the client side.


A solution turning the eyes to the past

To solve various problems of distributed computing, with the model of robust client, the lean/thin client concept was created.

The term thin client was coined in 1993 by Tim Negris, VP of Server Marketing at Oracle Corp., while working with the company's founder Larry Ellison on the release of Oracle 7.

At the time, Oracle wished to differentiate their server-oriented software from Microsoft's desktop-oriented products. The term of Negris was then popularized by its frequent use in speeches and interviews by Larry Ellison about Oracle's products. It is from this time the famous internet terminal, the US$500 computer, which Oracle then started to advertise and advocate.

The term stuck for several reasons. The earlier term "graphical terminal" was chosen to contrast such terminals with text-based terminals, and thus puts the emphasis on graphics. The term was also not well-established among IT professionals, most of whom had been working on fat-client systems. It also conveys better the fundamental hardware difference: thin clients can be designed with much more modest hardware, because they perform much more modest operations.


The Hardware Options

Several companies entered the segment of thin clients  offering hardware solutions for the implementation of networks with thin clients:


  • ChipPC
  • Fujitsu
  • HP
  • Igel
  • LISCON
  • OpenThinClient
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Wyse
  • Thinvent


Enter Linux
The Icon of "X", The graphical environment of Linux
Linux, by its very nature, was designed with the paradigm of the network, the client terminal and a server providing services and capacity over the network, inherited from its father figure, Unix.

And, from Unix, Linux has inherited the paradigm of graphical environment X.

The graphical environment X began to be developed in 1984 by Bob Scheifler and Jim Gettys.

There was a joint effort to develop a graphical environment for Unix and several companies were interested: IBM, DEC, SUN and HP, to name a few. On the academic side, the universities involved were: MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University and Brown University.

The development of the graphical environment of Unix, X, would create a client server paradigm for the graphical interface that works as follows:

X uses a client–server model: an X server communicates with various client programs. The server accepts requests for graphical output (windows) and sends back user input (from keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen). The server may function as:
  • an application displaying to a window of another display system
  • a system program controlling the video output of a PC
  • a dedicated piece of hardware.

And, most important of this architecture is that the X server environment and clients can be on separate machines, communicating through the X protocol even from a local network.
A graphic representation of How the X protocol works

As the discussion about the X graphical environment and its history is a long and complex subject, we will not address it here now.

The interesting aspect of the architecture of the X graphical environment, which was later inherited by Linux, is that with it, it is very easy to create networks of computers, dumb terminals connected to a central server.
What interests us here is the protocol XDMPC, which was developed for the X11R4 version in 1989 and introduced the protocol as it is used today in  Linux and other *NIX.

Advantages

Reducing the cost of network ownership. Understand the cost of ownership as the sum of the purchase price of the computer, maintenance, licenses for the use of software, the power consumption etc..;

  • Remote administration of each terminal;
  • Flexibility. If there is any hardware failure of the terminal, just ask the user to start a new graphical session from another. So there will be no loss of information because they are centralized on the server;
  • High scalability. To increase the number of terminals in the network, just increase the processing capacity and the amount of RAM in the server;
  • You can customize a graphical session for each user releasing or restricting access to certain features or applications server;
  • The configuration and generation of the operating system which will be used on the terminals can be done easily, respecting each machine capabilities and limitations;
  • Allows the reuse of obsolete computers to be used as terminals, reducing network costs and reducing the environmental impact of such equipment.
Disadvantages

  • High data traffic generated by the communication between the server and the network terminals;
  • The server becomes the critical point of the network, ie if it stops working, all users are unable to work;
  • The server is more vulnerable to attack if an attacker has access to the XDMCP network .

Where the network server / client XDMCP can be used:

Client / server networks XDMCP can be deployed successfully in: reading rooms, libraries, schools, universities, internet access centers, Cyber cafes, offices, in short, in all situations where the data processing, input and output, can be done in batches and synchronously.


Where the XDMCP network can not be used:

Multimedia processing, asynchronous data processing, real-time processing and games. In short, video editing, sound, 3D modeling, gaming, do not have good performance on a XDMCP network.


In coming articles, I will detail how to implement a XDMCP network  with Linux, using outdated computers that no longer fit for everyday use.


Until then!

Sharing is Caring:
By Alessandro Ebersol with No comments

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sync.in- Another intuitive way to collaborate in real time

After Google bought AppJet, the company behind the real time collaboration platform iEtherpad, we've seen a couple of others spring up as alternatives. Sync.in is one such alternatives that seeks to set itself apart.

For starters, it has an intuitive interface and looks much polished. It is also easy to start a new note. No sign up whatsoever. Just hit 'Create a new public note' and get going, a feature that is common to all such platforms.

What however blew me away with Sync.in is how easy it makes it to share your notes with friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, Del.ici.ous, Digg, Cyn.in and via email. It also features the usual export feature that allows you to export your note as HTML, plain text or as a bookmark.

There is also a Adobe Air desktop app "that is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux and has enhanced features for Pro users. The desktop client lets users create new notes and launch notes directly from their desktop. All in all, Sync.in is another cool tool you can take a look at next time you need to work collaboratively with friends and colleagues.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

[VIDEO] Maverick Meerkat UDS Keynote Address by Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth's keynote address at the Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat UDS summit.



Via Mathew Helmke.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Apture- Digitizing the art of story telling

The art of story telling, which has been all but consumed and replaced by the term 'blogging' is a very interesting and satisfying art. However, it can also be very challenging in terms of coming out with credible stories from various sources in an era of information overload. That is where Apture comes in.

If you are a regular on this blog, you might have noted how easily different media are embedded in our posts. Check this post out. What Apture does is to make the adding of different forms of media to your story from different sources- Twitter, YouTube, Flikr and a host of others- easy and in a way that helps to keep readers longer on your site.

With the introduction of the awesome Apture Search Bar (which you can see in action just under your address bar by scrolling down this page), your site just got upgraded to 'web 2.0 compliant.' It has really helped increase the number of shares that stories on this blog enjoy, aside from the giving readers the ability to search for real time information about anything both on this site and across the web, from sources such as Twitter.

The search bar also helps brand your site with its customization options as it has been used on this site. If you have not installed Apture yet on your site, I seriously recommend you do. It is free (unless you make millions of hits) and available for all popular platforms. Another good thing Apture is how it easily helps you make very relevant Amazon recommendations to your users in the context of your story. Need I say more to convince you/

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

[SLIDES] Firefox 4- What to expect

This is a preview of Firefox 4 from Mike Beltzner of the Mozilla Foundation

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

The Maverick Video

A video announcement of the Maverick Meerkat aka Ubuntu 10.10.



Thanks to Matthew Helke for sharing.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Looking back- Popular Lucid Lynx posts on Ghabuntu

Now that the dust has settled following the release of Ubuntu 10.04 aka Lucid Lynx, it is worth a look back at some of the most popular Lucid Lynx related posts on this blog. Here we go


5 Reasons why Ubuntu Lucid Lynx May be a Game Changing Release- By far the most popular post on Lucid here that attracted over 10,000 hits from Google alone on the day the Lucid Lynx was released and following few :-).


What if the Lucid Lynx boots in 10 seconds?- Written during the excitement surrounding the announcement of Google Chrome OS by Google last year.


Ubuntu Lucid Lynx- Separate home partition by default- A suggestion about making the installer separate the home partition by default


Ubuntu is not suitable for you if- Quite a controversial one that was written in response to the 14th comment on the first item linked above.


These are by far the most popular Lucid Lynx articles here on Ghabuntu. Catch up with those you missed. Now that the cat is out of the bag, tell me what you think!

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

How to truly fuel the adoption of Open Source

A guest post by Ms. Darlene Parker from Opentechexchange. Ms Parker is actively involved in the spread of Linux over here on the African continent. She is an expert in FOSS deployment.


In a Sunday conversation with Luqman, we discussed what we thought were the best avenues for the adoption of Open Source on a larger scale. We agreed that students and small business could be key influencers in the future widespread use of FOSS.


Luqman had some great insights as to why Internet cafes would be ideal for exposing users to Ubuntu (or Linux). If 10 or 20 machines were installed with Ubuntu, and 100 people a day used the systems, what better way to have a hands on experience. Besides, the cafe owners should be over the moon about not having to re-format daily because of virus infections.


By exposing students to alternative computing solutions, this introduces them to OSS, one of the most influential development communities in ICT. Graduates will be telling future employers about the benefits of Open Source and programming 'made at home' solutions for unique business challenges.


To keep a narrow focus which states that employability is greater if students have MS office skills & the like, is hogwash. Given the potential savings for business in software licencing (pirating aside), this allows for the budget to create more positions. As well, so many large companies are utilizing open source in the background that there is plenty of opportunity if sought out.


On a final note, the fact that Open Source allows for adoption of local languages and content, this makes it all the more applicable and attractive to education. What better way to ensure the survival of local dialects and customs. We are a global village and all people have such unique contributions. I look forward to seeing many of them.
The next billion users are waiting, let's show them the fantastic world of FOSS!

Sharing is Caring:
By opentechdiva with 2 comments

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not this anti-virus program!

"Researchers say they've devised a way to bypass protections built in to dozens of the most popular desktop anti-virus products, including those offered by McAfee, Trend Micro, AVG, and BitDefender." 

So says an article from the Register that references a research carried out by Matousec which states in essence that not long in the future, hackers can bypass all the anti-(insert name here) you have running on Windows and attack your computer.

It is a very serious issue which can have a devastating consequence in the lives of a lot of people. However, there is still hope. The research did not make any mention of this anti-virus as being such an easy to evade guard. 

So when the time comes that hackers can confidently sneak past your anti-(fill in the blank), just grab a copy of this and you should be able to thwart their efforts.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

5 lessons for other Linux distros from the success of the Lucid Lynx

It probably now sounds like a cliche, but the Lucid Lynx is the best release Canonical has come out with since its inception. The following 5 lessons can be gleaned from the overwhelming success of Ubuntu 10.04 by other Linux distros which can go a long way to help increase the overall market share of Linux in the desktop OS market.

1.Define who your user base is
It is no longer acceptable to just put code over the kernel and call it an OS. You must define who you are targeting to use that OS. The success of the Lucid Lynx, and for that matter Ubuntu, is partly based on the fact that Ubuntu is focused on first time Linux users, those who are now making the shift to the unknown "other OS" out there.

This is reflected in every decision that is taken with regards to all spheres of development. Be sure to know who you want to use your distro, whether it's the geek who reads his newspaper  through the Linux terminal or the granny who wants to send a birthday email to her 7th grand son.

2.You may dislike anything proprietary, but never so those who use it.
Sure you may dislike proprietary software or system in one way or the other, but never ever despise the people that use those systems. I think this simple but over looked fact is part of the success of the Lucid Lynx. As an example, I have read comments after comments of how people are now able to flawlessly use their iDevices on the Lucid without any need for fidgeting whatsoever. Other Linux distros must try as much as possible to accommodate the needs of people that use other systems, not try to shove the distros own ideals down their throat.

3.Try to become an answer
Ubuntu Studio, Lubuntu, Edubuntu, Ubuntu server among others are part of what I call the Canonical suite which helps to gain more users in that it is able to meet more needs. Do not narrowly focus on being just an OS, try to be an answer to more specialized needs.

4.Clearly define the role of your community
It is necessary to clearly define the role your user community will play in the growth and development of your OS. The faux pas that happened following the change of the window buttons from right to left in the Lucid Lynx could have had a devastating consequence had it been a smaller distro.

5.It does not hurt to apply marketing to Linux
If there is any one Open Source company that does marketing right, it is Canonical. And as is clear now, it does not hurt at all to invest some time and if possible some money to marketing your distro, it really pays.

These are the five lessons that can be gleaned from the critically acclaimed Ubuntu Lucid Lynx. I know there are more that I have not thought of and would be more than happy to have you point them out in the comments.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 9 comments

Become a Google Power user with this cheat sheet

Chances are you use Google on a daily basis. You have it set as your default search engine in your favorite browser. But did you know you can do way more with Google? The cheat sheet below should help you make the most of the internet behemoth called Google which is more than a search engine.


NB: The link in the above cheat sheet seems dead. If you are the owner, please get in touch so I can properly give the credit.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Phoronix Ubuntu Lucid Lynx benchmarks- what is that really?

"As much as we would have liked to see Ubuntu's Lucid Lynx handily beat Windows 7, this was not the case, but to some extent the opposite." That about summarized the conclusion on the *11th* page of an article titled Is Windows 7 actually faster than Ubuntu 10.04? written by the folks over at Phoronix.

I am not against their conclusion whatsoever. What I have a problem with is the way the story is titled. I find it very unfair to title a story this way only to have conducted a series of game tests on the two OS to reach such a conclusion. Would it have been so difficult to title it to reflect the fact that the conclusion is based on a series of tests in a gaming context.

I would be woefully unfair to Windows 7 should I claim Ubuntu 10.04 has more eye candy than the former without making it known afore-hand that I have Compiz running. It should be made clearly known that there is no way Windows 7 can be faster than the Lucid Lynx (yes I am sticking my neck here) in a general purpose context.

Forget all the fancy benchmarks with all those powerful machines that are common only in North America and some parts of Europe. You want to see how fast Windows 7 is as compared to Ubuntu, try installing and running them on a 2Ghz Intel Celeron powered machine with 1GB of RAM. Then you will actually understand which is faster.

Only a minute fraction of both OS users are gamers, so to use gaming as the standard to compare the two OS under such a heading is not so fair and balanced. And to the folks there, please check the banner ads, I could not read some of the paragraphs because the banners had covered them.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 8 comments

LinkBunch- Combine several links into one

Sending a message on Twitter can at best be challenging given the 140 character limit. The situation then gets compounded when you need to add more than one link to your message. This is where LinkBunch comes in.

LinkBunch turns all  the links you give it to one one simple and shortened url which makes for easy posting and sharing. Just drop your links into the box on the homepage and hit bunch to have them bunched up to one simple url. It's free and there is no need to sign up whatsoever.

So next time around when talking on Twitter and need to share a bunch of links, remember to Bunch them to make of easy and convenient sharing.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

CSSDesk- A handy tool for beginner web designers

If you are a beginner to web designing, you will welcome every single tool that will make life easier for you right? Then say hello to CSSDesk. This is a handy WYSIWYG tool that gives you a real time display of how your code looks like as you type.



There is a handy pane on the left that is divided into the the HTML part and the CSS part. You also have the option of downloading your code onto your local hard drive or sharing it with others via a handy short link that is automatically created when you click share. 

You can also change the background of your CSSDesk to suit your taste. It is a very handy tool that will go a long way to help newbie web designers hit the ground running. One thing though that I think is missing is a real time collaboration feature. That would make this tool a real jewel for many people.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 1 comment

What really makes a better browser?

With the recent fierce competition among the various browsers, I am actually left wondering what makes a browser the best of the lot. We have Opera describing itself as the fastest on Earth, Google also making waves lately with the beta release of Chrome for all platforms, I am left wondering whether speed is really the only benchmark for measuring a browser.

If you are a regular on this blog, you probably know I have switched to Google Chrome as my primary browser, though I still use Firefox for some tasks. The reason for using Firefox? Because of the ecosystem of addons I have built around the browser which is impossible with Google Chrome.

I use only a handful, but find myself not able to live without. Google Chrome also starts way faster than Firefox but with less of the addons as compared to the latter. Then too does all the noise about speed take into account the network latency on which one is?

With all of the hype surrounding the release of every browser, I am left wondering what really makes one better taking all factors into consideration?

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

The Economist To Go Open Source

The world renowned Economist Magazine is migrating its infrastructure from proprietary to an Open Source stack. According to this blog post on Launchpad, The Economist is migrating its existing stack "from Coldfusion/Oracle to a LAMP stack running Drupal," says Mark Theunissen from the Economist Group.

He also adds that "there’s a migration and synchronization process happening in the background between Oracle and MySQL." The Economist now runs almost entirely on Open Source: Red Hat Ent Linux, MySQL, PHP5, a Drupal spin-off called Pressflow, Memcached among others.

This seems to be an exciting time for the folks over at the Economist looking at the level of enthusiasm in his interview with the Lauchpad which they also chose for "its usability, mostly the workflow around reviewing code (merge proposals)."

This sounds great for the Open Source community, but what is now baffling me is what happens to MySQL which is now owned by Oracle, the very database vendor from which the Economist has just migrated. What do you think?

Thanks to Mathew Helmke for sharing the Launchpad post.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Turn Google Chrome Tabs to an Ubuntu Hub

If you are using Google Chrome on Ubuntu, then having this extension will help you be more productive with your OS and also easier to navigate the maze called Ubuntu Forums. 

When you install it, any new tab you open up in Google Chrome has a neatly arranged array of the various subforums of the Ubuntu Forums, in addition to the latest Linux submissions on Digg, the latest stories from Webup8, OMG Ubuntu, Tombuntu and Ubuntu Geek, all of them changeable of course. 

There is also a feature that lets you browse the latest wallpapers from Desktop Nexus. There is also the option of setting your favorite sites right in the tab for quick access. Installing the extension and opening a new tab will look like the image below
Image credits The How To Geek
It also comes with links to AllmyApps, Linux App Finder, GetDeb, Icewalkers, WINE HQ and Sourceforge. This extension is really a handy tool to have on your browser if you are using both Google Chrome and Ubuntu.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Snaptu - A productivity app for the rest of us

Keeping up with one's web activities on the go can be a real challenge if you are using a low end phone. Yup. Not all of us use Androids or iPhones. It seems nowadays that unless you are using one of the above phones, you really don't have much of a choice when it comes to quality productivity apps.

Snaptu is one app that was designed with *every* single user in mind. It is a small productivity application that runs on any phone out there and gives you access to a wide range of sub-apps which you can install for specific functions. 

You can install sub-apps for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, latest movies and reviews, news and blogs, weather and much more. It is fast and easy to install on any handset you may have. I personally use this application a lot when I am on the go. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Why not include the Ubuntu Manual in a default install?

The official Ubuntu Manual for Lucid was released shortly before the final release. It is a community developed manual for *everyday* people on how to literally hit the ground running with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx. 

The manual has received a lot of praise for being a straight to the point no nonsense guide. This then prompts me to wonder how feasible it will be to add the community developed and officially sanctioned Ubuntu manual to future releases. 

Why not just make life easy for people in that when they download and install Ubuntu, this handy manual is easily accessible from the accessories menu for their convenience rather than having to go to the manual site to make use of it.

After a fresh Ubuntu install, one of the first things I do is to remove the default Ubuntu docs which takes about 250MB. Can't that space be saved with this less than 5MB manua?

Update: Over on Identi.ca, @mohanpram brilliantly suggests if it can even be made to autorun for new users to Ubuntu. If you are new, there is a handy and concise manual that will run you through what Ubuntu is. If you are an old comer, you just skip it. Win- win. Thanks pal for your input.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 4 comments

Print what you like from any web page

There are times when you need to print stuff from a site you visit. However, printing from some sites can be a really painful experience in that the printout tends to come with all the ads and images on the page. PrintWhatYouLike is a nice tool that helps you choose any portion of a webpage for printing.


All you have to do is enter the URL of the page you want to print and select the portion of your choice. You also have the option of saving a page as a PDF or HTML. There is a bookmarklet you can add to your browser to make accessing the tool easier.

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Monday, May 3, 2010

Want an iPad? Get the Joojoo instead!

You love the iPad and cannot wait to have one in your hands right?  Forget it! Go for a JooJoo instead. At a price of $359, you will be glad you did. For starters, it boots at 9 seconds. Can someone say fast please. Thanks! With a 12.1 inch capacitive touch screen, the web just got bigger and clearer.

Then there is multi-tasking. Yes. You can do more than one thing at a time on the JooJoo. Browse and listen to music simultaneously. It's up to you. It also supports high-def videos out of the box. Watch your favorite videos on the device in crystal clear high definition using the JooJoo player.

It comes with built in camera, USB port, 4GB SSD, Intel 1.6 Ghz, Nvidia Ion Graphics card and weighs 1.1KG. Impressive right? However, it bears two similarities with the Apple iPad: it has no physical keyboard, neither can one remove the battery. 

The first I'm ok with, the second similarity I think is really foolish. I want to be able to change the battery of what I BUY. 

The JooJoo also spots a Bluetooth 2.1 EDR technology and Wifi (802.11 b/g/b). You can take a look at the full specs and make the comparison yourself. And finally, the JooJoo boasts of having the largest app store in the world. It is called the internet. No more lock down to one particular app store. Seek whatever app you want and install it. 

So what do you think of the JooJoo? Would you rather still use an iPad? What do you like or dislike about both devices? Share your thoughts!

Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with 4 comments

Blender Basics e-book for free download

Blender is one of the most powerful applications of the Open Source community. It's used for various things such as modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, water simulations, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulations, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications, including games.

If you are new to it or would like to take a serious look at it for a project you may have, then Blender Basics should be of interest to you. It is available as a full book download or choose the chapters you want. You are free to use it in your educational setup.

If you want to be convinced of what you can do with Blender, take a look at these videos.





Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vectorial Drawing on Linux - Xara Extreme


When you think of vector drawing in Linux, do you think only about InkScape? But there are several programs for drawing vector graphics with many features. In this series of articles, I will address several graphics programs available on Linux, starting with a not very known, Xara Extreme.


Xara Extreme
Xara Xtreme for Linux is a powerful general-purpose graphics program for Unix platforms including Linux, FreeBSD and (in development) MAC / OS-X.

Formerly known as Xara LX, it is based on Xara Xtreme for Windows, which is the fastest vector-graphics program available. The source code of Xara Xtreme was released in open source in early 2006 and is being ported to Linux. This process is almost complete and Xara Xtreme for Linux is available for download now.


Linux Version
Xara Xtreme for Linux (or Linux Xara Xtreme Edition) is the open source version of Xara Xtreme. It was formerly called Xara Xtreme LX or just Xara LX, LX is an acronym for Linux. The name "LX" is maintained in some places (eg, the executable is still called "xaralx").

The first version was released for Linux in October 2005, and Xara Group Ltd. announced it will release the source code for the Linux version (a simplified version) under a free software license, the GPL, and seek help from the community in porting to Linux and Mac OS X using the wxWidgets toolkit.

In the opening of the Libre Graphics Meeting 2006 in Lyon, France, Xara has released most of the source of Xara Xtreme for Linux on an updated website with information on how to access the source code of the software. According to the Xara Xtreme for Linux Homepage, the source code released contains "most of the sources of Xara Xtreme". Currently, the only part of Xara Xtreme for Linux that is not under GPL is the rendering engine CDraw, which is only available as static libraries for some selected CPU architectures  and only for C + + compiler GCC, but , there is not the intention of releasing the CDraw engine of Xara on GPL, since it would hurt the sales of their other paid products  for the Windows platform.

The 0.3 beta series for the first time, allowed the use of the new file format *. xar to the open source version. Previous versions only supported for opening and viewing packaged demo files which came along the product, to show its capabilites.

Version 0.5 was the first to also have the ability  to save. The current version is 0.7.

A version for Mac OS X is still non working, but it is in development, and there is a call for developers on the project site.


Features
  • Opens and renders all the XAR files. Rendering 100% complete.
  •  Text now renders (note that text will only render exactly as intended by the designer if you have the required fonts installed on your system).
  •  Text tool includes new support for tabs and rulers
  •  Xtreme menus
  •  Selection tool
  •  Object delete cut/copy/paste/duplicate/clone using menus or Ctrl-X,C,V,D,K
  •  Drag objects around, plus scale, rotate, shear. Plus numeric control via Infobar
  •  Right click drop-copy while dragging
  •  Magnetic object snap. Grid snap and grid display.
  •  Zoom tool
  •  Push tool (middle mouse button also works to push the page around while in any tool)
  •  Group and ungroup (Ctrl-G, Ctrl-U)
  •  Undo/redo using toolbar, icons or Ctrl-Z / Y
  •  Shape editor for editing and creating shapes
  •  Pen bezier path tool
  •  Rectangle, Ellipse and QuickShape tools
  •  Arrange toolbar and menus - change the z-order of objects, slice/join/add/subtract shapes
  •  Interactive Feather tool with new popup slider added to wxWidgets
  •  Fill tool
  •  Transparency tool
  •  Blend tool
  •  Bevel tool
  •  Text tool, including ability to set the font
  •  Freehand tool (No brushes yet)
  •  Shadow tool
  •  Color line and full color editor
  •  Save
  •  JPG, GIF and PNG import and export
  •  Import/export of many ImageMagick supported types inclduing TIFF, BMP, PICT, XPM and others.
  •  Bitmap export dialog includes image previews
  •  Early version of SVG import (work in progress)
  •  Working Adobe Illustrator import (to same level as Windows Xtreme version)
  •  Drag and drop file import
  •  Layer, color, line and bitmap galleries
  •  Guidelines
  •  Rulers
  •  A choice of document templates
  •  Status line and progress bar
  •  Many new menu items e.g. convert lines to shapes
  •  Clipviews
  •  Tracer tool
  •  New plug-in system for import/export filters (documentation and example filter code for this will appear on our web site soon)
  •  Options dialog (and most options now operational)
  •  Printing.
  •  Profile editing in feather, fill, transparency and blend tools
  •  Full comprehensive Help now integrated.



Sharing is Caring:
By Alessandro Ebersol with No comments

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Can you think of a better way to spread the use of Linux?

Camfed International, UK, contracted 1ViLLAGE to set up 48 seats of Ubuntu Linux desktops in four districts in the Northern Region of Ghana. They also provided user training for the project. I reproduce here some photos of the computers as posted by @opentechgirl. The question I'd like you to help me answer is, can you think of a better way to bring Linux to Africa?














Sharing is Caring:
By Seraaj Muneer with No comments
  • Popular
  • Categories
  • Archives