Sunday, March 20, 2005

I am an MP3

You are .mp3 The kids love you. You get along with just about everybody except the music industry. You really make yourself heard.
Which File Extension are You?

Friday, March 18, 2005

KDE-3.4 released!!

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KDE 3.4 on a Suse 9.2 installation

The latest version of the most popular free software desktop is out!! Find out more here.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Welcome to "Ubuntu"

A few days back, a post from Aditya got me thinking about Ubuntu, a relatively new distro, based on the old giant, Debian. Now Debian was a distro, I never got to like simply because I found it a pain to get working in the first place. No offence meant to existing Debian users, but hey!, the old Debian installer sucked!! But I guess with Ubuntu, I have finally found a distro that doesnt leave me dissatisfied in any manner. Ubuntu is a mix of good 'ol Mandrake's luser-friendliness, Slackware's speed, and Debian's awesome package management. ubuntu-gnome
Ubuntu's Gnome desktop

ubuntu-1
Ubuntu's KDE desktop
I always thought Slackware was the easiest distro to install. As it turns out, Slack still has the edge in this department, but as far as functionality+ease_of_use goes, Ubuntu's installer takes the cake. Now make no mistake about this, Ubuntu isnt using a really revolutionary install program. Its just the new Debian testing installer. It isnt much to look at either, just an ncurses interface. But then who ever said you need a GUI to build user friendly software?

Good things have been happening to me off late, and the real high point of this year has been the fact that I now have a 512K broadband connection with absolutely no download limits till Jun 30th this year. I made the most of it by downloading Ubuntu and the 14 CD Sarge snapshot. Ubuntu comes with a GNOME as the default and the only desktop, but is functional enought to be the sole desktop one would ever need.(See above). However, I missed KDE and thats where the 14 Sarge CDs came in handy. I have been more of a urpmi user than an apt-get fan, so I chose to use the frontend for apt that ships with Ubuntu -- Synaptic All I had to do was, to click on Add CDROM and after 14 iterations all I needed to do was pop in whichever CD it asked me too. Now I am running KDE on Ubuntu!! I still wasnt quite done yet. I had to get my broadband connection set up. Now that wasnt too difficult either. I fired up a terminal, and ran pppoeconf to set up my username and password. With that done, I now had access to the online repositories as well!!

After a 30 second apt-get update, my first stop was to correct the infamous Nvidia skew. All that was needed was a search for nvidia in Synaptic and I had the three packages I needed, nvidia-glx, nvidia-kernel, and nvidia-settings. A click here, a click there and that was that. Next I needed MPlayer, which I cant do without. I thought of visiting the MPlayer page to grab the latest tarball and compile by hand, but then the patent infringement issue that looms large on MPlayer's homepage, is too depressing a sight to see. So I decided to take the easy way out -- apt-get install mplayer. Within minutes, mplayer and all its dependencies were on my computer. I also had to get rhythmbox to play MP3s. An apt-get install gstreamer0.8-mad, did the trick for me there. It doesnt take too much guessing to realise great part about Ubuntu is the fact that it is based on Debian. It gives the distro the flexibility to install a minimal working system and the power to customise, upgrade, tweak or break. What Ubuntu does well though, is install simple yet effective defaults for a user to work with.
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The Ubuntu/Debian Installer


Screenshot
Synaptic in action


Screenshot-2
Configuring Display with Nvidia's Tool


mplayer
Mplayer running on Ubuntu's KDE

rhythmbox-firefox
Firefox and Rhythmbox in action

Screenshot-1
OpenOffice 1.1.2 on Ubuntu
Ubuntu has an extremely classy selection of apps. It comes with all the popular GNOME applications, rhythmbox, sound-juicer, OpenOffice, totem, GIMP, Firefox, Thunderbird, Evolution....name it, and you have it. Whatever it lacks in its default selection of applications, it makes up for by being a distro based on Debian.

As far as hardware support goes, I dont have a single piece of hardware in my computer that doesnt run out of the box with Ubuntu; and that includes my Sony DSC-P150 which gave me quite a lot of trouble on Fedora. To beat Fedora, an out and out desktop distro, at this, is an acheivement in itself.

From what I have seen already, I am sure, that this being a testing release by Canonical, the next release, expected in May this year would be a great summer treat to look forward to. In fact Canonical has started work on a faster boot process, as well as a graphical installer. Its time the Red Hats and the Mandrakes stood up and took notice of Humanity to Others, cos Ubuntu simply rocks!!

Monday, March 07, 2005

A few things I forgot!!...never too late!!

Well here go a few things the forgetful professor forgot about...But it aint too late to share anything with the wired world is it? So here goes
First up the kick ass dinner at Kayo's place; yeah that's him...the shy guy in front of the TV, with the beautiful lady in red ...Rati...

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And then there was this evening when I ventured across to the once picturesque Pashan lake thats pretty close to my home...and it turned out to be a nice appointment with nature....Enjoy!!

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Birds in the marshes

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Thats when I caught Mr and Mrs Buffalo taking their bath!!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Apollon--P2P Power!!

Every once in a while there comes along a free software program that takes your breath away. Not just with its functionality, but the degree of refinement that goes into its design. While free software applications may sometimes lack the hype that surrounds non-free/commercial programs as also some of the more irrelevant functionality, the fact that most of the suite just works out of the box and is some much more extensible, makes them the more viable alternative in a modern computing environment.
I have recently been using an application called Apollon.It happens to be a Peer to Peer File sharing client for the KDE Desktop. Apollon uses the giFT core to connect to various networks, including OpenFT, Gnutella and FastTrack. For me the biggest strength for Apollon is the ability to bring together these three extremely popular filesharing networks and end up as the numero-uno free software P2P client on Linux systems. Apollon pops up with an Info screen which immediately gives you an idea of the kind of data and traffic that you would be encountering

Once you are done, all you need to do is search for the file you are looking for, be it music, videos, software, pictures, what have you, for which you have a fully functional search screen

And then the obvious part (the fun part!) begins....Download!! Click on the download menu and there you are with a multi-threaded download, on its way to your hard-drive! You can search for more sources while downloading, browse individual users and what not!

Apollon does the simple things right, and then gives you some novel functionality to play with. For example the ability to preview and play media files through the client itself and beleive it or not, to chat with other Apollon users. While these may not be killer features as of now, they do come handy every once in a while. There was a time when I used to miss having a stable P2P client on my desktop. But now that Apollon has come of age with a 1.0.1 release, I am sure I wouldnt feel for that aching chest anymore!!
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