Ubuntu For Android

This is like a dream gadget for me.

Android phone with an Ubuntu Add-on that also has a TV interface ? Are you kidding me ?

The beauty of this is that not 0nly can you see you media content on a big screen TV or LCS screen, but you can also run the Android applications in an Ubuntu environment.

For example, you can use the Wifi radio of your phone to detect Wifi networks and connect to them using the familiar Ubuntu Network Manager.

Or get notified of an SMS on Ubuntu’s desktop notification service.

Enough said, check out the video

I have two questions that were unanswered in the video above :

  • Will this work on any smart Android phone ?
  • How much does the dock cost ?

I just can’t wait to get my hands on this.

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Nexus S boots Meego and Ubuntu

Most of you are aware of Google’s Android-based Nexus S smart phone. With sleek looks and feature-packed to the core, it is arguably, the best and one of the most expensive smart phones in the market.

However, having said that, it is really appreciable that it can still be hacked to run other Operating Systems.

Meego, is a Linux based framework for mobile handsets and internet tablets, headed by Intel and Nokia. It is currently still in the development phase, but you can be sure that there will be a lot of devices running Meego in the coming years.

Meego is one of the OSes ported on the Nexus S. This is a huge step for Meego developers as it gives them a validation of their framework on a mainstream device like the Nexus S. The image shown below shows a raw, un-formatted version of Meego dumped on the Nexus S.

Meego running on the Nexus S

Ubuntu , is arguably, the most popular Linux distribution today. Ubuntu’s decision of embracing Unity, a desktop environment designed with a view of running it on Internet tablet devices, certainly seems to have paid off. What you are seeing in the image below is a Nexus S running Ubuntu’s Unity desktop.

Ubuntu's Unity desktop running on the Nexus S

One thing to remember is that these “ports” or hacks are still very developmental in nature. Hope this encourages the developers to port these other open source frameworks on other Android devices as well.

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Ubuntu 9.04 Upgrade : The Screenshot tour

I have been upgrading my work Laptop (a Dell D630) since Ubuntu 7.04.
The first couple of times there were a few glitches, nothing a few Google searches and “sudo apt-get install”s couldn’t fix.
However, the process is getting increasingly reliable and I urge users to go this route.

For upgrading from Ubuntu 8.10, Intrepid Ibex to 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope, I decided to use the Alternate CD.
The Ubuntu Alternate CDs are released alongwith the Desktop and Server versions for that release and are basically text-based installers.
Confession time : I did not know that one could upgrade using the Alternate CD. I always did it over the Internet. That shows you how much of a Ubuntu geek I really am 😀

The only command you need to execute to begin the installation is :

$ sudo update-manager -d

That’s it !! Just keep on “Next” ing and in about 2 hours you should be done !!

And …. Voila !!!

No breaks, no crashes, no glitches !!!

All my drivers are working, my Ethernet, WiFi, my Audio, my X Server, my Touch-pad, my Mouse …. my EVERYTHING works out-of-the-box !

And Man is this Release FAST !!

So just take the jump guys and upgrade to the Jaunty Jackalope.

Open Source | 1 Comment

Ubuntu on Windows

Ubuntu Linux has opened a lot of doors for open source developers.

The real enthusiasts, the midnight oil burner are coming up with some AMAZING applications.

One such KICK-ASS app is the Portable Ubuntu, although I think the name of the project is a misnomer.

Portable Linux installs a Windows app that emulates Ubuntu Linux. In fact, it IS Ubuntu Linux modified and dressed up to run on top of Windows.

That is why I think the name’s a misnomer. It should have been simply “Ubuntu on Windows” or something like that.

Portable Ubuntu is the result of a magic conjured up from  Colinux Kernel : which in itself is a very interesting Project to run Linux on Windows, X-Ming :  which is the X Server for Windows and Pulseaudio : which is a cross-platform sound server.

As soon as I learnt about this project I knew I had to install it and without further ado, I promptly did.

Here’s what a Vista Desktop would look like with Portable Linux running :

Portable Ubuntu screenshot

Portable Ubuntu screenshot

I love it !!

For years I’ve been running Windows apps on Linux using Wine.

Now it’s time to do otherwise  !!!

Apart from Portable Linux, there is another app which has a Ubuntu-Windows connection.

It’s called Wubi (Now THAT‘s a name 🙂 ), but I’ll be talking about it in more detail and screenshots in a later post.

The Portable Ubuntu image is quite large, about 700MB, but to all the Ubuntu fans out there,you HAVE TO try it out.

In fact, I did it just for Spite !!!

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7 Linux Distros reviewed

I’m a little late in posting this article, since most of the Distros mentioned here are out with newer versions.

But since  it was so informative, I thought I’d post it anyways.

I thought I was the only jobless person interested in trying out Linux Distros on my VirtualBox or sometimes triple booting. But it turns out there are actually others who do 7 of ’em at a time and, as if that wasn’t enough, they make it a point to document it too.

Cool !!

The folks at Informationweek have done a Shootout of 7 popular Linux Distros. They did it on 5 different machines as if to prove a point or something.

Does it live a lot to be desired ? Have they left some very notable cadidates like the fanatically followed Kubuntu or the geeky Gentoo ? Did they miss out on a coupla hundred tests ?

There are obvious answers to the above questions, but that’s not the point.

The point is, Ubuntu is arguably the best Ditro around and I use it !!! 🙂

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Help to Spec Regression Testing for Ubuntu Apps

As any software engineer worth his salt knows, Regression , especially after an upgrade, is one of the most important aspects to take care of.

Professionally, I have taken care of a LOT of upgrade bugs and I so I have felt, first-hand, the pain caused by Regression Bugs.

I work on a tightly integrated embedded system firmware which is of the order of a few megabytes. Even then I woe and cry when confronted with Regression issues. So I can only imagine what the Ubuntu developers must be going through after each Release cycle !! Hats Off to you, brave souls !!!

In order to help these Nobel Knights, Mackenzie has proposed that we try and spec out some common Regression tests for some common software included in the Ubuntu-family of Distros.

To this end, she has created a page on the Ubuntu Wiki for Application Testing. She has included some of the more commonly used applications and anyone is free to add more to the list.

As of writing of this article, only the SeaHorse application has a few test cases.

Hope people will start adding more soon.

I will , hopefully, be contributing to the following Apps :

  • Pidgin
  • gnome-terminal
  • Firefox
  • NetworkManager
  • Tomboy

These are the aboslute few that I cannot live without. But if I actually do end up adding to the above , I’ll add more later.

Hope people start contributing here since it does not take too much time and  you need not be a Triager or a Tester , let alone a Developer , to add your contribution…. Just a user of the App.

Open Source | 2 Comments

What motivates Open source contribution ?

This post is in response to a notion I encountered more than once, by different people (blogs) at difference times. The argument here is : as more and more people start losing their jobs due to the Financial turmoil thats taking place in the world today, the number of open source contributions will increase since people will have more FREE time on their hands to waste.

This argument was made by one Mr.Andrew Keen who thinks the current economy is about to “Give Open Source a good thumping

My first reaction when I read this article was  : 1) this guy obviously hates open source software, and 2) This guy’s an idiot.

If you take a look at the comments section on his post, you will realise I am not the only one who thinks so.

But the best response is given by Steven J. Vaughan-Nicholas of ComputerWorld.

Steven corrects Andrew’s assumption that only people with free time and who do not care about money are contibuting to open source. The real-world stats about the actual code contributors to the Linux Kernel , Linux Foundation’s recently released report that it would have cost more than $10 Billion dollars to develop an Open source distribution like Fedora and, Jerrry Allison’s leaving Novell only to join Google, all make up a great counter-argument to Andrew’s obviously less thought-out post.

I agree to all these claims, including ones made by commentors on Andrew’s post about how the US Army and other government organizations also sponsor open source development. Open source is no longer a hobby project of some group of geeky students.

Open Source is serious business. A lot, and I mean a LOT of businesses , educational institutions and research work are completely dependent on open source software and it’s development. Sun’s acquisition of MySQL for a whooping $1 billion , the profit figures of companies like Canonical, Red Hat, SugarCRM , Alfresco, etc. are clear indications that open source can be an immensely profitable venture.

However, the true beauty of the open source software “movement” is that an unpaid, enthusiast student can be just as much a contributor to a project as a highly paid engineer at a multi-national company.

The “non-paid” contributors to open source software (and not just the Linux kernel , as pointed out by Steven), must be far more than paid contributors. I base this not on some hard statistical date but by a simple glance at free open source hosted repositories like SF, Google Code, Freshmeat, Savannah, etc.

Although a monetory payment is a huge motivation for contributing to open source software, I hope that “writing great software” keeps remaining the major impetus for it.

Open Source | 8 Comments

Dell XPS M1530 and the Ubuntu (7.04, 8.04 LTS, 8.10 , 8.10 Beta) ride

I bought my Dell XPS M1530 just over a couple of months ago, before Dell started selling the Ubuntu pre-installed ones. I was considering buying a Macbook, but after I saw the specs on this baby, I knew I was left with no choice. I got further bargain, after a little bit of haggling with the Dell Rep, of a total of 4 Gig RAM and the Audigy Sound Software at no extra cost.
Well, anyways, as soon as a couple of days passed with me showing it off to my colleagues and family, I decided to get down to business.

I erased the complete hard-disk using the mighty gparted and re-partitioned it to have a Windows partition (20Gigs) , a Dell partition (auto-created by Dell , Mental Note: Think about getting rid of this) , a 10 Gig Mac OS X partition (Oh yeah !! you read that right. More on this later) and finally a huge Extended partition, which hosts 2 of my Data partitions , a swap partitions and last but definitely not the least, my Ubuntu partition.

My Dell started it’s life (the one which counts anyway), with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Hardy Heron.

The only trouble it gave me was that my Touchpad wasn’t working properly. The mouse pointer was behaving as if it had a mind of it’s own.  But I fixed it by adding “i8042.nomux=1” line at the end of the “kernel” line in Grub.

I had to also alter my /etc/X11/xorg.conf file to have optimal performance from it.
Thankfully, Intel’s iwl4695 driver does not give any issues and I was able to run it without any issues from day one.
That apart, the only other thing that did not work out of the box was the finger print reader. But it was a matter of time, or rather overcoming my laziness, before I got it working too.

Note : There are some excellent links at the end of this article to get everything working in Ubuntu 8.04

I was running the Heron happily for quite some time, during which I got compiz (use Envy for a hassle-free experience), my build-environment, VPN (both PPTP as well as Cisco vpn), Firefox 3 updates and Flash, 3-D games, working without problems. I even played around with cheese to ensure my webcam was supported.
I have a habit of installing all the Ubuntu updates as soon as I see the update-manager working and before I knew it , I was riding on 8.04.1
Again, no issues and the ride still going nice and smooth.

During this smooth sail, I had this itch to install MAC OS X on my laptop since I had given up MacBook for it. Without going into too many details, let me just say MAC OS X 10.5.2 rocks (wink) (wink) !!!

I saw the Ubuntu 8.10 Aplha releases coming out and was itching to upgrade my laptop with it , but my work load prevernted me from doing it.

But finally, two days ago I ran the update manager with :
$sudo update-manager -d
and upgrade to 8.10 Intrepid Ibex Beta

Here I had a few hiccups.

For starters, my wireless was not working. Thankfully, this was not a major issue but required a simple re-entering my WPA2 key. But before that I saw that my Network Manager did not show any Wireless networks and I had to kill it from the shell and restart it.

Then there was the problem of the Touchpad, similar to the one mentioned above in this article. But this time I has to append the “i8042.nomux=1” on the Grub “kernel” line, as well as make sure that I used my older xorg.conf file (the upgrade process intuitively backed my old file). But for optimum performance, I actually removed the xorg.conf file, restarted gdm from the console with “$sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart” and let the new X server detect everything on its own and this worked like a charm. ( My new, automatically generated xorg.conf file)

The Wifi is working great, but one thing I noticed that my wireless drivers seemed to have changed. My lsmod output is as follows :

raseel@raseel-xps:~$ lsmod | grep iwl
iwlagn              99588  0
iwlcore             92740  1   iwlagn
rfkill                 17048   2   iwlcore
led_class          12164  1    iwlcore
mac80211      216820  2   iwlagn,iwlcore
cfg80211         32392  3    iwlagn,iwlcore,mac80211

That’s about it. I did not have to do ANYTHING more after the upgrade.

As I use The 8.10 Beta, I’m yet to be  disappointed on any front.

This post is basically to encourage anyone owning the Dell XPS M1530 to go ahead and install/upgrade Ubuntu 7.10 or 8.04 LTS or 8.04.1 or 8.10 Beta without fear.

Resources :

Open Source | 4 Comments

Second Ubuntu Developer Week announced

The Ubuntu Developer Week is designed to give you an overview of what
’s going on in the Ubuntu Developer world. Speak to the developers, learn, ask questions and finally realise “It’s true, I *can* make a difference by helping out here.”

read more | digg story

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The UMPCs are here

The age of UMPC or Ultra-Mobile PCs, is here. The iPhone, iTouch , Nokia’s N81 , HTC, Samsung…. the list goes on.

ASUS’s eeePC already created waves in the market. With a direct competition to the OLPC, it is now the most sought after Christmas gift in the US. After the initial uproar on GPL violations, eeePC is now in complete compliance. With Ubuntu and more recently, Xubuntu being ported on it, its popularity is ever-increasing.

However, today’s spotlight is on Everex’s Nanobook, previously codenames “Cloudbook”. This eeePC rival runs gOS, the Linux Distribution “filled” with Google Apps. I personally liked it better than eeePC, well …. atleast on paper !!!

I’m really waiting to get my hands on gOS. These Google guys are always upto something. And even if ALL of their products aren’t as addictive as, say, Gmail, they are definitely worth taking a look at.

Speaking of Google, the Search-Engine giant is also investing in the 700 Mhz spectrum . Wow !! Looks like Google’s plans for world domination is on schedule.

Another couple of gizmos I wanted to bring to notice is Convergent Living’s smart screens. It’s nice to know that in a few years (when the smart screens become much cheaper), I will be able to control the electronics of the whole house without getting up from my seat.

Lastly, I’m so glad GPS receivers are arriving in India. When I returned from my brief visit to the Silicon Valley, the one thing I badly wanted to bring back with me (in terms of technology), is the GPS receivers. In fact, I actually spoke to a few of my friends about marketing the stuff in India. I explained to then how a certain site called MapMyIndia.com could help is mapping Indian roads. The idea was received mixed reactions. Some thought Indian roads were far to complicated to be tracked by a GPS unit.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this beautiful piece in one of the upmteen newsletters I have signed up. The best part is that the device is from MayMyIndia.com which is owned by CE Info Systems.

I just hope that all these awesome UMPCs and M ID (Mobile Internet Devices) are available in India soon.

Gadgets | No Comments