Friday, January 31, 2014

Meet Replicant, Android's open source twin

In checking local Linux news, I came across a press release from Replicant.

Replicant is a "free" (or open source) variant of Android that uses CyanogenMod and can be used to power many cell phones including the HTC Dream/HTC Magic, Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy S 2, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Tab 2 7 inch, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 inch, Galaxy S 3, Galaxy Note 2, and GTA04.

This week Replicant became the equivalent of Android Jelly Bean, (or version 4.2).

Here's a little about CyanogenMod:

"CyanogenMod (pronounced sigh-AN-oh-jen-mod), is a customized, aftermarket firmware distribution for several Android devices (See above for supported devices & how to install CyanogenMod on said devices). Based on the Android Open Source Project, CyanogenMod is designed to increase performance and reliability over Android-based ROMs released by vendors and carriers such as Google, T-Mobile, HTC, etc. CyanogenMod also offers a variety of features & enhancements that are not currently found in these versions of Android." -

I have heard the question "Why make Replicant?" asked on a few open source/Linux boards, and I think there are 2 good reasons behind it. 

Number one has to be that since it is now the most used operating system on the planet, it's good to keep an open source variant around in case Google decides to lock us out and charge an arm and a leg to develop on it. 

The second reason is that once you have an Android "Replicant" you can fork it to fit your specialized needs without stepping on Google's toes or breaking laws.

If you would like more information on Replicant, here are some links for you:

Replicant's official website:

Replicant's Wiki pages:

CyanogenMod;s official website:

Although you won't notice much if any difference in screenshots between Replicant and Android, I thought I would include them anyways. (Because pictures make for a sharper looking article, and I spent the effort digging them up.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Project Christine, the world's most modular PC design

Project Christine is an all new way to look at "building" your own computer. It's not uncommon in the gaming computer world to do so.

Most people haven't even given building their own PC a thought, or are intimidated by thoughts of 1500 dollars in computer hardware sparking and shorting out, rendering it a pretty looking doorstop.

Razor has come up with the solution. A totally modular PC design that fits together as easily as Lego blocks do.

Here's what Razor has to say about Project Christine:

"Project Christine is a revolutionary new concept design that allows users to build and customize PCs in any configuration without any prior technical knowledge.

Choose any module on-the-fly in any combination, whether it’s the CPU, memory, graphics card, storage or power supply module, and simply plug it in.

The PCI-Express architecture of Project Christine automatically syncs the components.

As new PC technology evolves, Project Christine can evolve with it. Need more graphics processing power or storage? Easy – a user can slot-in additional graphics modules and add more storage by either swapping-out the existing storage drives or adding more modules.

The modularity of Project Christine makes it perpetually customizable, helping eliminate the need to replace entire systems.

Each sealed module is entirely self-contained and features active liquid cooling and noise cancelation. With this design, Project Christine’s components can be safely overclocked without voiding warranties." -

These next 2 pictures show how the modules slide in and out, and some of the neat extras the smaller front modules will give you, like a read out on how your system is doing performance wise.

If you are interested, there is a short YouTube video here:

I love this idea. Computers today are thrown away as soon as they are too slow.

Being modular, you wouldn't throw the whole computer away, you would just replace the module that was no longer able to fulfill your needs.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Shotwell gets a new developer

If you are a Linux user and have a large photo collection then you are probably familiar with Shotwell.

Shotwell can:

* import photos from folders or from your digital camera or phone
* automatically group photos taken at the same time, use tags and ratings to organize your phot0 collection.
* rotate, crop, reduce red-eye, and adjust the exposure, saturation, tint, and temperature of each photo.
* publish and share photos

Because of the lack of development in Shotwell, Yorba the creator of Shotwell has handed over development to the Elementary OS team.

"I've been talking to Jim Nelson (President of Yorba) about Shotwell for a while now and here’s the quick and dirty: Shotwell needs a new maintainer. Ubuntu has the Gallery app, Fedora has GNOME photos, and Yorba just doesn't have the resources anymore to maintain Shotwell. Their focus is on Geary. So that pretty much leaves us or an unknown to take up the mantel"

"Jim seems really excited about the idea of Shotwell becoming a part of our community. He thinks we have the talent and the vision to bring it up to date and make it into a really great app". -Daniel Foré, Elementary OS project leader.

In case you are unfamiliar with Elementary OS, it's an Ubuntu based distro with a Mac OS X feel.

I think this is great. Instead of letting Shotwell die like many other apps have done when they have no development resources, Yorba is passing it on to a community that will spend the time and talent to keep it a very useful application.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Nemo file manager, power and speed in one app

While reading the Ubuntu board on Reddit, I found a rather lively discussion on what file manager was the best.

For some time Nautilus had been toppled from that list. For some reason the Nautilus team had been reducing the features of Nautilus.

"Nautilus on Ubuntu seems to be some type of hack-fork. I've seen this package regress in features since I started using Ubuntu in April of 2007." -lonniebiz

I personally use Thunar. Thunar is quite powerful, and rather fast, which is the combination I am looking for.

After reading this discussion, I think Nemo is the contender to beat though, having power, speed and beauty to boot.

Let me introduce you to Nemo.

First off, the name, as my header image implies, refers to the famous captain.

"Gwendal Le Bihan named the project “nemo” after Jules Verne’s most famous character, who also happens to be the captain of the “Nautilus”. Who else than Nemo could take the Nautilus and veer towards a different direction?" -


*  All the features Nautilus 3.4 had and which are missing in Nautilus 3.6 (all desktop icons, compact view, etc..)

*  Open in terminal (this is part of Nemo itself)

*  Open as root (this is also part of Nemo)

*  File operations progress information (when you copy/move files you can see the percentage and info about the operation on the window title and so also in your window list)

* Proper GTK bookmarks management

*  Full navigation options (back, forward, up, refresh)

*  Ability to toggle between the path entry and the path breadcrumb widgets

*  A lot more configuration options (This list thanks to Wikipedia)

If you are interested in Nemo you can install it in Ubuntu by typing these three commands seperately in your terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nemo nemo-fileroller

Here is my screenshot of Nemo:

If you are "in the market" for a different file manager, give Nemo a try.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pear Os is no more, for now

 We bid adieu to an excellent operating system. Pear Os "closed it's doors" this week, stating it was bought out by a party that wants to remain anonymous.

"Pear OS is no longer available for download. Its future is now in hands of a company who wants to remain anonymous for the moment. The concept has pleased them it and now wants to continue and improve the system for their own products. I can not give a name but it is a very large company well known ... I want to thank all users, moderators and other developers who have made Pear OS it is today, that without this adventure would not have been possible. I'm going in another direction. Pear Cloud users must recover their files on Pear Cloud servers. In 10 days, the files will be deleted and the server will be offline. Another big thank you to all and I hope to return to the scene of open source very quickly. Cordially. David" -

Sad to see it go, they had a decent following because of the OS's Mac OS X feel and excellent collection of apps that came "out of the box".

Here is a screenshot of what the OS looks like:

Good bye, beautiful friend.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ubuntu 14.04 gets better Software Update tool

"Canonical has upgraded a lot of aspects of Ubuntu 14.04, and the developers are pushing updates every day. The Software Updater has also received a sizable upgrade, making it a lot more user-friendly than ever before.

More and more new users are installing Ubuntu for the first time and not everyone is ready to upgrade the system from a terminal or from a simple interface that only shows what packages will be downloaded and installed.

The new Software Updater is now a lot more user-friendly and shows more details about what you are actually installing. This is a great improvement over the previous version present in Ubuntu 13.10, but it would be nice if more features were available, like a changelog for the new version of an app." -Softpedia

P.S. has been injected with the insidious IntelliTxt, of which I hate.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Entire Italian province drops Microsoft Office for LibreOffice

Not too long ago I wrote about the entire city of Munich switching from Microsoft Windows to Linux.

Now the Italian province of Umbria is switching from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice.

This kind of thing is happening all over the world. Microsoft will have to lower their prices and offer better, cheaper customer service in order to continue to survive. Time is on the side of the open source community, not Microsoft in my opinion.

"According to, the authorities from the province of Umbria have started a project called LibreUmbria, which aims to transition the entire regional governmental apparatus from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice." -Softpedia

“We found out that most of our users exploit just 15 percent of their productivity suite, but you are paying for the other 85 percent as well. It's just like if you owned a Ferrari and only used it to drive at 30km per hour through the middle of town,” -Alfiero Ortali, head of IT in the province of Perugia.

“Right now, along with Munich, I'd call LibreUmbria the most advanced experience of migration in the world.” -Italo Vignoli, a member of Assoli, an Italian association of Free Software advocates and member on the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation, the nonprofit organization that makes the LibreOffice Suite

For more information about LibreOffice, or to download a copy for free, go here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Microsoft lied about Google Chrome OS today

Microsoft out and out lied on a commercial today about Google's Chrome OS/Chromebook during a commercial that aired during American Idol tonight.

The commercial out and out said there was no office options for Chrome OS.

This is not only a lie, but is a disgusting display by the aging, pedantic, even perhaps evil Microsoft.

This is just another attempt by Microsoft to "scroogle" Google. (Not my words, Microsoft's.)

Google Chrome OS has many office options, some of which I would say are better than Microsoft Office.

The first office suite on the list has to be Google Docs. It is a full office suite, period.

Live Documents is the next on my list, and touts the ability to edit MS Office docs without data loss, just beautiful.

Zoho Writer, Sheet, and Show combine to provide a comprehensive and free web-based office suite. The tools are more robust than some other web applications.

SlideRocket brings measurement, sharing, and multimedia to presentations in for your Chromebook.

280Slides is an online, Chromebook-ready presentation solution aimed at helping you create beautiful presentations.

Vyew offers Chromebook users a visual collaboration and sharing solution.

Evernote is the cross platform productivity tool that helps you remember everything. Armed with a Chromebook and a scanner, this tool will help you organize your life. Evernote is available for many devices and is very popular in the Chrome Web Store.

Gravity is a web based project management tool that has both free and paid options. Gravity has a very functional, drag-and-drop interface that makes scheduling and editing tasks relatively easy. Gravity, which is available in the Chrome Web Store, would work for managing website upgrades, new inventory or warehouse projects, or more.

5pm is a web-based project and task management tool that provides fairly robust way to handle many common business, marketing, and web development tasks. Like similar solutions, 5pm is available in the Chrome Web Store, and may be easily integrated with a Chromebook.

The Deadline is a sort of combination news-feed reader and digital sticky note tool that bills itself as an online personal assistant. It is available in the Chrome Web Store.

Remember the Milk is a to-do list tool that will work on your Chromebook or mobile device. The solution has been very popular with iPhone users and with early adaptors for some time. Now Remember the Milk is available in the Chrome Web Store.

Wave Accounting is a business accounting suite that will run from a Chromebook.

Zoho Books is a simple business account tool.

This list would be exhaustive enough, if it were not for the fact that yet another office suite for the Chromebook called QuickOffice, which promises to be as good as MS Office, and even better, is coming out soon.

Microsoft's sickening out and out lies should be brought to light, and I believe I have done this.

I personally would love to see a law suit against Microsoft succeed. It seems it's the only way to get their attention, even if only for a while.

This garbage must stop, Microsoft.

*This list thanks in large part to an article that first appeared on Practical E-Commerce

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ubuntu beats Windows, Mac, and Android in security report

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS out performed Windows and Mac operating systems according to a UK security agency.

GCHQ, the UK government branch has a security group called CESG. They reviewed eleven OSes against a 12-point list of security criteria.

Among the OS's in the test were Android, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows 7, 8 and RT.

Among all the OS'es tested, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was the most secure option.

Makes a Ubuntu/Linux geek proud.

Here's a pdf of the pertinent information:

And here is the official release thanks to

I also want to thank OMGUbuntu for keeping us informed on news like this. It's nice to have one more bragging point for the operating system I have grown to love.

Meet Intel's Edison, an amazing SD card sized computer

Intel showed off an impressive piece of technology at CES this year.

Edison is a complete computer, including a low-power 22nm 400MHz Intel® Quark processor with two cores, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth*, and much more.

"The unique combination of small size, power, and rich capabilities makes the Intel Edison board a game changer, lowering the barriers to entry for thousands of visionaries.

Intel Edison board-powered devices can cooperate in highly customized and sophisticated ways. These devices don't have to be hardwired one-trick ponies; they can house multiple apps that can be downloaded and installed just like we do with phones and tablets.

Let's look at a great example of the Intel Edison board in action.

Mimo Baby Monitor*

Start with a computer that really is the size of an SD card.

Attach it to a regular onesie and sensors that monitor the baby's temperature, breathing, and motion.

Then, set the Intel Edison board to trigger actions on other connected devices, like this automatic bottle warmer or this coffee cup.

Each one of these has the Intel Edison board inside, communicating with the others to deliver amazing solutions to age-old problems."

All of this would be impressive in a computer the size of a small book, but being that it is much smaller, and still has things like WiFi and Bluetooth is just mind boggling.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

MATE comes to Ubuntu 14.04

If you follow this blog, then you know I wrote an article about MATE back in September.

In that article I mention that the only way to install Mate is to follow some terminal commands to stop apt-get from complaining that the sources aren't safe and to then use apt-get to install Mate.

These steps will no longer be needed as of Ubuntu 14.04 however, because Mate will now be in the repos, meaning these hoops we had to jump through will be a thing of the past.

I personally am glad to hear this, it means that people will be much more likely to try out Mate, being that it will be a piece of cake to install and the sources will be verified as safe.

While I still think XFCE is a better desktop environment, Mate is an excellent option, especially if you want the functionality of old Gnome 2 with the speed of XFCE.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chromium to loose flash support as of April

Flash content will stop working in Chromium on Linux in April.

But before you panic, there will be options. First of all, Chrome will still work with Flash, just not Chromium.

There will also be the other options, like Firefox.

The reason for the loss of Flash support for Chromium is the "Netscape Plugin API" or  NPAPI for short is used by Adobe's Flash for Linux based browsers.

NPAPI will no longer be supported thanks to a decision by Google.

Google touted security flaws among other reasons for ditching NPAPI.

Chrome doesn't use NPAPI, but instead uses "Pepper Plugin API", or  PPAPI, which will allow Chrome for Linux to continue function where Chromium will fail.

So to recap, as long as you use Chrome or Firefox after April, you will still have Flash support.

For more detailed information on all of this, check out

Thursday, January 9, 2014 to except BitCoins

Overstock announced just hours ago that they would be accepting Bitcoin as legal tender for items on their website.

While Bitcoin has been used for years as legal tender in local shops around the U.S. and overseas, is the first major retail sales company to do so.

In case you are wondering what a Bitcoin is, or more correctly what the Bitcoin service is, here is an explanation from

"Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet. Bitcoin can also be seen as the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence."

If that was just not clear enough, here is a better visual representation:

"Since December, Overstock’s free-thinking CEO and chairman, Patrick Byrne, has been telling anyone who would listen that his company would adopt bitcoin sometime in the next six months." -WIRED's CEO Patrick Byrne stated "I felt I had tipped my hand" and "I didn't want someone else to beat us."

So today they officially launched the Bitcoin services of their website.

What does this mean for us? Bitcoin is an attempt to make money a global community controlled property. This is a milestone. If Bitcoin succeeds, banks could cease to exist the way they do today.

The money would be centralized, anyone could theoretically open a bank with services then, whether they had the backing of big money or not.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

DTRX, The easiest and simplest CLI archive tool for Linux

While the statement "The easiest and simplest CLI archive tool for Linux" is my opinion, I think you will agree with me when you use it yourself.

I harbor no ill will toward "tar — The GNU version of the tar archiving utility", but tar wasn't designed to be super easy/simple, it was designed to be very powerful, and it is.

In defense of tar, it's been around since version 7 of AT&T Unix.

DTRX takes the next step, keeping the power of tar, but making it much simpler and easier.

Here is a great example from

"$ dtrx linux-3.0.1.tar.bz2
That's basically the same thing as:

$ tar -jxf linux-3.0.1.tar.bz2
But there's more to it than that. You know those really annoying files that don't put everything in a dedicated directory, and have the permissions all wrong?

$ tar -zvxf random-tarball.tar.gz
$ cd data/
cd: permission denied: data
dtrx takes care of all those problems for you, too:

$ dtrx random-tarball.tar.gz
$ cd random-tarball/data
$ cat text
This all works properly.

dtrx is simple and powerful. Just use the same command for all your archive files, and they'll never frustrate you again."

Features from

"Handles many archive types: You only need to remember one simple command to extract tar, zip, cpio, deb, rpm, gem, 7z, cab, lzh, rar, gz, bz2, lzma, xz, and many kinds of exe files, including Microsoft Cabinet archives, InstallShield archives, and self-extracting zip files.

If they have any extra compression, like tar.bz2 files, dtrx will take care of that for you, too.

Keeps everything organized: dtrx will make sure that archives are extracted into their own dedicated directories.

Sane permissions: dtrx makes sure you can read and write all the files you just extracted, while leaving the rest of the permissions intact.

Recursive extraction: dtrx can find archives inside the archive and extract those too.

Support for LZH archives."

For me, installation was a breeze. I run Xubuntu 12.04.

I just ran sudo apt-get install dtrx in my terminal emulator. (Like gnome terminal, or terminator.)

You can also install DTRX from the software center or synaptic.

For more information, you guessed it, go to

Monday, January 6, 2014

Belkin's Linux powered smart crock pot

"We live in an age where more and more devices are being run by operating systems, and are being connected to the internet that can seemingly be found all around us. The latest of such is a Belkin Smart Slow Cooker. As you might have guessed, the Slow Cooker is powered by WeMo, which is based on Linux and powers a multitude of other home based devices. This crock-pot is able to be controlled remotely via the WeMo app for Android or iOS and will be sure to have an edge on other slow cooking challengers. Mums no longer need to stay at home and wait for the cooking to be done. This functionality is huge and will surely make huge strides in 2014." -Muktware

I have been touting the Linux banner for years. When people tell me that they "don't use Linux", I tell them that if they own a car, a watch, a microwave oven or other kitchen appliance, that they do indeed use Linux.

This is just another example of what I am talking about.

Belkin is releasing this at CES 2014 this year:

As you read above, it's got some great features built in thanks to Linux.

That's right, it's a Linux operated crock pot.

So the next time a friend or relative says "Never heard of it" or "never use it", clue them in.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ubuntu to add torrent search tool

"A new scope set to be included in Ubuntu by default will allow users of The Pirate Bay to conduct BitTorrent searches directly from Unity desktop. The tool’s creator informs TorrentFreak that while there is still work to be done, the aim of the scope – which is endorsed by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth – is to embed Free Culture directly into the Ubuntu user experience." -TorrentFreak

The name "The Pirate Bay" or "TPB" automatically leads to thoughts of software piracy... especially TPB, because TPB is used to download software for free that isn't free.

The truth of the matter is though that there is a lot of content on TPB that is not pirated, and is legal.

The first example that comes to mind is Linux distributions. Most of your Linux distributions these days are available for torrent download through TPB, and those are 100% legal.

"Only torrent files are saved at the server. That means no copyrighted and/or illegal material are stored by us. It is therefore not possible to hold the people behind The Pirate Bay responsible for the material that is being spread using the tracker. Any complaints from copyright and/or lobby organizations will be ridiculed and published at the site." -The Pirate Bay "About" page

I am not trying to say that this tool can't or won't be used to download pirated material. That would be tantamount to putting a filled cookie jar on the floor of a room filled with three year old children, and then expecting the honor system to work.

However... A lot of material that is legal will also be downloaded using this integrated tool.

Here's a snapshot of the tool in action thanks to TorrenFreak:

One last note...  I download "public domain" stuff from TPB. I would not suggeest using the "all" option in the search. I do this instead:

You will see I made sure the option "porn" is unchecked. The TPB people don't care much what shows up in front of you, and if you find porn as offensive as I do, you will not want to choose "all", you will want to be far more choosy.

By the way, public domain files on the internet, as long as they truly are public domain, are 100% legal to download, use and distribute.


Friday, January 3, 2014

FreeBSD 10 to come with major improvements

In case you are not familiar with FreeBSD, it is an operating system for a variety of platforms which focuses on features, speed, and stability. It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX® developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

FreeBSD tends to lag behind the other free operating system releases in hardware support and new technology compatibility.

The FreeBSD team is making some serious strides though in resolving this as of version 10.

Here are the major fixes that are being focused on:

GCC out, Clang in. FreeBSD has been gravitating slowly away from using the GCC, not only because of its antiquated design, but also its GPL licensing, which was at odds with FreeBSD's far more liberal licensing. In place of GCC, FreeBSD now includes Clang/LLVM as its default C/C++ compiler, and FreeBSD has itself been built with LLVM since late 2012 or so.

Support for Hyper-V virtualization. Microsoft, NetApp, and Citrix have contributed code that allows FreeBSD to run well in Microsoft's virtualization solution without the need for additional software. Support for FreeBSD was originally announced by Microsoft back in 2012, but it's now being baked directly into FreeBSD.

EC2 integration. Those running FreeBSD on Amazon EC2 can now use the freebsd-update(8) utility to directly update EC2 images.

Improvements for ARM processors. The upgrades include support for superpages, which allows FreeBSD to work well with ARM hardware intended for servers; and additional support for ARMv7 and v7 processors, plus other system-on-chip designs.

Support for the Raspberry Pi. The explosively popular sub-$50 hobbyist's computer has nominally run Linux, but changes submitted to the FreeBSD code base now allow that OS to run on the Pi with minimal work. -This list provided by Infoworld

This is not all that FreeBSD 10 has to offer in it's upcoming release, these are just the major ones.

FreeBSD is also adding some defense against the NSA's attempt to gather information from it's users.

If you are interested in more information about FreeBSD, or you would like to download the ISO (Image file of the cd/dvd) then check the official FreeBSD page out.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Skype accounts hacked by the "Syrian Electronic Army"

Reports from The Verge, ZDNet and Gigaom report that the "Syrian Electronic Army" or "SEA" have hacked Skype's blog, facebook and twitter accounts.

Once the SEA got the access, they spewed several nasty anti Microsoft based messages, over and over again. Reports are saying that in some cases it was over 6000 times, especially on twitter.

It seems everyone and his uncle these days is getting their twitter or facebook accounts hacked, so it's time to re-strengthen the passwords again.

It will be interesting to see if the SEA backs up their messages with proof of some sort.

I am no Microsoft fan by any means, but I doubt anyone has the dirt to back up the SEA's statements.

Here are some of the articles I dug up myself, if you want more background information: