Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ahhhh, I love the smell of Dapper in the morning...

Tomorrow's finally the big day. The first "enterprise-ready" release of Ubuntu is officially out tomorrow, and hopefully it'll continue to make some waves.

Tonight is like the calm before the storm - The Dapper Development Forum has been closed for the night, and the new Dapper support forums are still on their way.

For many of us who are already running Dapper, upgrading to the final release will be a simple daily update away.

In the next 6 months, I hope we continue to see the Ubuntu community grow and support each other even more. If Ubuntu does become a hit in the business desktop market, then it'll be interesting to see how it happens, and to take a look at what trends start to appear.

Once again, if anyone from the Ubuntu team ever reads this, thanks for making a great operating system that anyone in the world can use for free. :)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Free Gamer Blog

A fellow Ubuntu-er has set up an awesome blog called Free Gamer. The blog has a bunch of good commentary on free/open source games, and includes a really good breakdown of current and upcoming games by their project status (with a realistic eye)...

If you're interested in next-gen Linux games and such (I know I am!), definitely check out that site!


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Open source audio applications: A rebuttal

I just spotted this article over on digg: Open source audio applications need to learn from listeners

After reading the first few paragraphs, I had to ask myself a question: What the heck is the editor talking about?

I understood the opening paragraph, which points out that there's no software (albeit on any operating system) that allows the user to listen to music from any source universally (FM, MP3s, CDs, etc.), but we're basically as close as one could possibly get to having that. It's impossible for both hardware manufacturers (think Sony stereos) and software developers to allow playback from every audio source, so they choose to support the ones you're actually going to use. FM is useful to many people in a stereo, but being able to listen to podcasts in music playback software is something that many people would find much more useful on their PCs than FM radio in the same software.

It really starts to go downhill in the third paragraph:

Only in software applications is this distinction made, and consequently we have to use separate apps to play music from different sources. And the problem is by no means limited to FM broadcasts and MP3 playback. How many of the mature open source audio players support basic CD playback? There are a few that support ripping CD audio directly within the app, but cannot play that audio directly off of the disc. Would anyone in their right mind buy a hardware device with that kind of limitation?

This is exactly the kind of writing that hurts the Linux community - Uninformed writing. The editor of the article obviously hasn't actually tried any "mature open source audio players" in the past few years. Last time I checked, XMMS has been able to playback CDs for a long time.
In addition, Rhythmbox, Banshee, and AmaroK can all playback CDs, MP3s/OGGs/whatever, received podcasts, and have support for cool extras like
Once again, what the hell is the editor talking about?

Building an application from a data-task perspective locks out the possibility of new features, yet history teaches us that there will constantly be new methods and approaches to delivering audio to listeners. CDs, audio files, streaming radio, DAAP sharing, FM, XM, podcasting -- the list goes on. How many new ones will be invented this year?

...and if the editor had actually tried any of the mature open source audio players I mentioned (which are the mature ones), with the exception of XMMS, he would have realized that developers stopped designing their music playback software from a "data-task perspective" a long time ago. That's exactly why you're able to have podcast, streaming radio, DAAP sharing, etc. support in these applications - media sources are abstracted, and have been so for a while now.

The final piece of the editorial, "The underlying cause", is like a rotten cherry to top it off:
There is no malice behind any of these shortcomings in the Linux audio player ecosystem. Rather, I think they are the unintended result of a philosophy that predates Linux, and may in this particular application space do more harm than good.
The entire article is about a supposed lack of integrated playback sources in audio players, but this has nothing to do with Linux at all - Every uninformed qualm the editor has about audio players could just as equally (and unjustifiably) be applied to ANY platform, not just Linux.

Yes, some of the editor's article would have been true six years ago, but the majority of it is completely unfounded today.

The impact of this article on readers who aren't familiar with the features of open source audio players today is akin to trying to show off Linux by running FVWM, and showing it to someone who's never seen the OS before - it's going to leave an extremely misrepresentative first impression.

If anyone was wondering why I picked the hokey tagline for this blog, I hope it's a little more clear now.
Insight into the Linux community and their desktop in 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dashboard for XGL/Compiz

There's a nice little HOWTO on setting up Compiz's "widget" plugin over at the Ubuntuforums. The widget plugin mimic's OS X's dashboard functionality. It'll also let you turn any program into a widget with Compiz's "state" plugin. There's a decent thread over in the Compiz Forums outlining how to get all of this working, if you're interested.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Upgrading to Dapper (even EASIER!)

The "Release Candidate" for Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (aka. Dapper Drake) got announced today, but along with it I found a nice little tidbit in the announcement:

 * Because this is the Release Candidate, you need to invoke the
update manager explicitly. To do this, press Alt-F2 (or open
a Terminal using Applications -> Accessories ->Terminal)

gksudo "update-manager -d"

This step will not be necessary on the final release.

I've bolded the important part for clarity.


Things just keep getting better and better...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Upgrading to Dapper (The REALLY Easy Way)

Add this one to the big long list of reasons why I want Ubuntu to have my babies:

Upgrading to Dapper without touching the terminal

If there's one thing that the Ubuntu developers are good at, it's just getting stuff done. Man, once again, good job Ubuntu devs. :)

More News Tidbits

If you've ever used Macromedia's Flash plugin on Linux, you'll know it leaves something to be desired. It's a version behind the plugin for Windows, it's slow, and has caused more than a couple of browser crashes for me. Fortunately, there's been fairly heavy development into an open source replacement for the Flash plugin. Gnash is this open source replacement. Recently, they released some new test packages, and there's been a decent response. Gnash can't yet handle interaction, but it can play Flash 7 stuff fairly well. If the pace of the development keeps up, hopefully we'll see a feature-complete replacement for the Flash plugin sometime next year.

Wine Doors
Ripped from the Wine Doors site:

Wine doors is an application designed to assist users in obtaining, installing, uninstalling and working around the caveats associated with wine applications. Although wine doors is intended to be a replacement for winetools it is not limited to release cycles for the applications available to install, instead a web service will be provided, this web service will serve XML Pack Lists and Application Packs as well as various other resources.

As soon as I stumbled across this, I got pretty excited. Winetools is a really really really disorganized application that makes it somewhat easier to install Windows apps through WINE. (It's a crappy Tcl/Tk app with a terrible UI. There's also been lots of controversy over whether it does good or evil in the WINE community, as it installs some DLLs and sets up some settings that can cause problems for WINE users and make it harder to track down WINE bugs.) Fortunately, it appears that Wine Doors is likely to be the successor to Winetools, as it implements a bunch of really good ideas, as well as good UI that follow's GNOME's Human Interface Guidelines (HIG). If you want to get a better idea of the features of Wine Doors, check out the screenshots or the main page.

If someone walked up to me on the street and asked me, "What's the best thing Linux has going for it in the next 3 years?", I would respond with two words: Quality applications. Jokosher is a great example of the types of quality applications that have been springing up lately. Jokosher is a multitrack audio editor/recorder that's pretty simple to use. These screenshots do a fairly good job at explaining what it can do. Again, this is definitely another application to keep an eye on in the future.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Usplash ChangeLog... oddity...

Last week, when I was doing my daily Dapper updates, I found this in the ChangeLog for usplash:

   * Revert artwork to 0.1-36, Frank was asked to provide better artwork
over the weekend but instead appears to have spent the weekend working
on a text-less version which we already said was not going to make

Don't expect this to be the last change before Dapper is released.
Uhhhh.... I think everyone that ever looks at the "Changes" tab in the Ubuntu update notifier saw that. Sure, the guy might have screwed up, but making him look like an ass to everyone isn't cool... (Moral to the story: Keep your ChangeLogs professional.)

Dapper CDs on ShipIt!

It looks like you can now order Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) CDs on ShipIt. If you're not familiar with the service, Canonical (the main organization behind Ubuntu) will ship you Ubuntu CDs completely for free.

I did it myself for Breezy, and I ordered a few extra copies to give away to people that I know. Pretty much anytime I had to diagnose an obscure hardware problem on someone's PC over the last year, I'd just pop in an Ubuntu LiveCD, just to rule out the possibility of it being a software thing. Whenever I'd do that, I always had the opportunity to give a little blurb about Ubuntu, you know, spread the love. :)

Anyways, order your CDs now, and get some for your friends and colleagues.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Banshee Roadmap

Aaron Bockover has just posted a new roadmap for Banshee.
Check out the "Goals for 0.11.x/HEAD" to see what's coming up... *drool*

Friday, May 05, 2006

News Tidbits

Sauerbraten 2006-24-06 Released has the scoop on the latest release of Saurbraten.

Mixx 1.5.0beta1 Released
Mixx is a powerful DJ mixing program for Linux and Windows. As far as I can tell, it's the best open source mixing program out there. In the latest beta, they've added pitch-independant time stretch, as well as fixed a bunch of annoying bugs. It looks like the development has also started to pick up again. This is a good project to keep an eye on...

I downloaded and gave Wormux a shot today. It aims to be a free Worms clone for Linux, and that it definitely succeeds in. It feels pretty polished too. If you're a Worms fan, give it a shot. (Reminds me of Worms 2...) If you don't feel like adding an apt repository to your Ubuntu system to install the game, here's direct links to the two .debs you need: wormux-data-0.7.1, wormux-0.7.1 (just download the .deb from the directory corresponding to your distro)

Monday, May 01, 2006

GShare 0.90

GShare is a simple new way of setting up file shares in Linux. It uses Mono to set up a simple FTP server that is advertised to other machines on your network through Avahi and can be seen from other GNOME machines in Nautilus's "Network Servers" dialog. Even cooler, if you install Apple's "Bonjour for Windows", you can use it on Windows too. (It shares to Macs as well.)

It's easy to compile/install and play around with... give it a shot!