Saturday, June 28, 2014

Popcorn Time, free movies?

A new an interesting bit of software has become available, and is causing a bit of a stir.

Popcorn Time is a media player that streams movies to your computer, for free.

New movies.

That's right, you can watch the newest Transformer movie without plunking down $12.50 to watch it.

The issue is the legality. Technically, this is not illegal, at least not for Popcorn Time developers.

That's because Popcorn Time is NOT a torrent download software.

It's a streaming portal.

It may be illegal for you to watch the movie though.

The issue is with the technology being used. It's all running on torrents.

Torrents are not illegal themselves. Torrents are just a technology that allows users to "serve" files to others. As a group, getting a file from 50 or 60 people is way faster than getting it from one file server.

But what gets torrented to you can be illegal.

If you are an old torrent pro, then you know that websites like The Pirate Bay are well known as a great place to get illegally free files.

Everything from music, to movies, to video games, and on and on.

Most of those files are illegal because the people downloading them have not paid for them.

Torrents are used for many good purposes as well.

I personally use torrents all the time to download different versions of Linux.
Which is totally legal.

So because of all of this shaded area, and the fact that Popcorn Time viewers never really totally download the movie, there are some gray areas about legality.

I know that movie houses like Paramount would tell you this is absolutely illegal.

Some lawyers might disagree with them.

I think I have covered that end of Popcorn Time rather well, now for more about the software.

Here's a screenshot of Popcorn Time: (Thanks to Softpedia)


Popcorn Time comes as an archive and users just have to extract it and run the binary file. It doesn't need to be installed and there are no dependencies that have to be met. As far as I know, it hasn't been integrated in any repositories, probably for legal reasons.

I tested the application on a number of different systems and it looks like it's running flawlessly on pretty much everything. The only problem for users would be a slow Internet connection, but that has nothing to do with the software itself.


The developers of Popcorn Time have said from the start that one of their goals was to expose just how wrong the current online distribution platforms are. They did this by making the software very easy to use, as it requires almost no input from the user.

The main interface of the application shows two major categories in the upper left corner, Movies and TV Shows. All the entries in the list have thumbnails, and all are showing a short synopsis and a trailer before playing the actual movie.

The list is ordered by default with the help of a few filters like genre, popularity, recent additions, and so on. These are all the things that have to be decided by the regular user, although there are some settings if you really want to tweak the software.

The settings can be accessed by clicking on the small gear icon in the upper right corner, and from there users can choose the default quality of the video (720p or 1080p), the language of the default subtitle and the size, access the account for scrobbling purposes, and set a few options for Internet connection.

Now, how does the application actually work? When a user hits the play button, Popcorn Time actually starts to download the video in a temporary folder by using the P2P network. The beauty of this software is that you don't have to download the entire file, just a few seconds from the beginning and the movie starts playing. Skipping is also supported, so you can click forward and the application will quickly catch up.

The Bad

You have to remember that this is still a Beta release. It's far from stable, although I had no technical problems with it. Some users have reported that their CPUs worked overtime when playing movies, but it seems to be affecting very few people.

The only important issue I found with the application is the sorting order, which sometimes defies logic. Moreover, you can't sort the shows and movies ascending or descending, but I’m sure that it's going to get fixed in the upcoming versions.

I also had problems updating the software from 0.3.1 to 0.3.2. It seems impossible on Linux, even when I started the app with sudo. In the end, I just downloaded the new version from the official website.

The Good

The speed of Popcorn Time is probably the most impressive feature. It's playing the movies almost instantaneously, but you will need a fast Internet connection and that particular movie must have enough seeders.

Also impressive is the fact that, most of the time, the subtitles are spot-on and that the quality of the video streaming is usually flawless.


Using Popcorn Time is no different from downloading a movie and it's all a matter of convenience. If you take the application as is, then Popcorn Time is simply the best at what it does, although it remains to be seen if this kind of apps actually have a future." -Softpedia

So what do you think? Is it legal? Is it moral? Or do you feel as the Popcorn Time developers do, that all information in any form should be 100% free to the world to absorb?


Monday, June 23, 2014

Opera 24 for Linux released

I am writing you from Opera 24. So far I am quite impressed.

It seems remarkably faster than the last Opera version I had installed.

Doing a quick couple of tests, I know flash player is working, although I am uncertain if it is the flash player I have installed, or the pepper flash I installed for Google's Chrome.

And just as in Chrome, Oracle's Java version refuses to load. (Which is the only reason why I keep firefox installed)

Other than that, Opera 24 seems to run exceptionally well.

This version of Opera is Chromium based, perhaps that's the up-tick in speed I am seeing.

I also like the tab preview option. Here's my screen shot of this handy tool:

Here is what the Opera team has to say about Opera 24:

We’ve said many times that when a Linux version is ready, we’d let you know. Today, we’re delighted to announce our first Chromium-based Linux version is ready for download on our Developer stream. Go ahead and download Opera Developer 24 for Linux.
Opera 24 Linux
Many of us at Opera use Linux as our primary platform. It’s great to be able to try out the newest developments of Opera on Linux once again.
Adding Linux to our browser line fulfills an important part of Opera’s vision to shape an open, connected world. We want everyone to have fast and safe access to the web. Adding Linux opens up that possibility to more machines running the open-source operating system.
Linux is highly secure and performs well, even on machines with limited memory or suboptimal hardware. Not all of us can afford the latest Mac or Windows machines, not all of us want proprietary operating systems, and some of us simply love using Linux. But, everyone agrees that they should have access to a beautiful browser.
Now, Linux users around the globe can get the newest Opera features, including:
- Discover
- Stash
- A wide selection of extensions and themes
… not to mention the vastly improved Speed Dial and Opera Turbo.
To provide the highest quality, we’ve been testing on one particular platform right now – Ubuntu Linux 64-bit with Unity or Gnome Shell. It may work on other platforms, but that’s not guaranteed. As our development progresses, we’ll look into other potential platforms to support.
Releasing to the Developer stream means that all the usual considerations regarding Developer builds also apply to this one. With all that said, many of us have been using Opera for Linux as our default browser, and find it to be pretty robust.
Take it for a spin and tell us if anything breaks. We hope you enjoy using it.
- All of us on the Desktop team
P.S.: You may notice changes to how tabs behave on Windows and Linux. We’ll post more details about this tab improvement soon, along with Mac support information. For now, let’s keep the discussion about Linux.


This information from the Opera Team was seen on the official Opera Blog.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My favorite Ubuntu tips

Over the years I have compiled a list of things that I have found handy for my hardware and software needs in Ubuntu.

1) Oracle Java 7 installation:

There are a few java applications in this world that simply will not work with iced tea plugin and openjdk. (Minecraft comes to mind)

So thanks to the webupd8 team, I run this script and install Oracle Java 7.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer && sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-set-default

Tip from:

2) Synaptics touchpad kill code:

For some reason I needed this code to keep my touchpad dead (I always get strange issues when typing if it's running).

This issue was resolved for me thanks to Xubuntu 14.04, but if I still feel like running something like openbox, it's still needed.

xinput set-prop 12 "Device Enabled" 0

The 12 is in response to the device number for my synaptics touchpad.

you need to run the command: xinput list to find what device number your pad is.

Here's where I found this useful tip:

3) Slow Google Chrome, especially Google Plus:

Google Plus can just drag, not certain why. Although I have seen an improvement as of late.

Thanks to Stormy Henerson, this is how to rememedy that:

Type chrome://flags in Chrome's address bar (without putting "http://" first). Under the heading GPU compositing on all pages change the value in the drop-down box from Default to Disabled. Restart Chrome.

And whalla, Google Plus on Google Chrome speeds up considerably.

Here's the original article:

4) Disable Pidgin Notifications in Ubuntu:

Man pidgin can be annoying. Once upon a time I had pidgin set up as chat for facebook.

While it's interesting to see how many times your friends leave and then 5 minutes later come right back to the page, that interest soon changes to annoyance, as pidgin feels it needs your rapped attention about every status change under the sun.

To change your popup settings, open Pidgin and navigate to the tools -> plugins menu, or push the shortcut key Ctrl+U.

Scroll down to libnotify popups and click configure plugin.

Uncheck any items you don’t want to be notified about and close the settings. Now only the notifications you want will pop up.

Thanks to howtogeek for this one.

5) Audio that skips/jumps every so often:

This is a pulseaudio issue. While it's better for some reason in Xubuntu 14.04, it's still there.

1. Remove PulseAudio

This will uninstall PulseAudio, delete the configuration files and uninstall it's dependencies; gstreamer-10-pulseaudio, libpulse-browse0, libpeexdsp1, pulseaudio-esound-compat, pulseaudio-module-udev, pulseaudio-module-x11, pulseaudio-utils, rtkit and gnome-desktop (don't worry, it is dummy package):

sudo apt-get purge pulseaudio

2. Install alsa-mixer (volume) applet

PulseAudio removes volume applet, so you need new volume applet. For getting it to work, you need to intall the following packages: python, python-notify, python-gtk2, python-alsaaudio and xfce4-mixer or gnome-alsamixer (i prefer xfce4-mixer).

sudo apt-get install python python-notify python-gtk2 python-alsaaudio python-eggtrayicon xfce4-mixer
Download alsamixer-applet:

Extract all files for example into /usr/local/bin directory:

sudo tar -C /usr/local/bin/ -xzvf alsa_mixer_applet_1.1.tar.gz
Make all files executable (if they're not):

cd /usr/local/bin

sudo chmod +x alsa*

sudo chmod +x

If you want to use your keyboard's volume hotkeys, you have to set them in System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts. Click Add.

Name:      ALSA Volume mute
Command:   /usr/local/bin/alsa_master_mute
Name:      ALSA Volume down
Command:   /usr/local/bin/alsa_master_down
Name:      ALSA Volume up
Command:   /usr/local/bin/alsa_master_up
Then click on Disabled in the second column and map your hotkeys for these actions.

Finally the programs and have to be set to start automatically. This can be set under System > Preferences > Startup Applications. Click Add:

Name: volbar
Command: /usr/local/bin/

Name: alsavol
Command: /usr/local/bin/
Note: If you have installed gnome-alsamixer instead of xfce4-mixer, you need to edit

sudo gedit /usr/local/bin/
Find the line 97 and replace xfce4-mixer to gnome-alsamixer:

Now restart your computer and test, if everything is working.

This is the file you will need:

Thanks to the howto at

6) DVD & Blue Ray playback in Ubuntu:

I have had a few DVD's that simply will not playback. The solution is rather simple.

To Enable Playback:

Install libdvdread4:

in the teminal type (or paste)

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4

Then install libdvdcss:

in the teminal type (or paste)

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/

Best Players:

"According to the Ubuntu Wiki, Kaffeine, MPlayer, xine, Totem-xine, VLC, and Ogle will play DVDs with libdvdread and libdvdcss installed.

I use both Totem and VLC to play DVDs. It's useful to have both installed, because sometimes one will have a playback quirk that the other will not."

I have had no problem using Parole to play my DVD's after this. (Parole is the current default video player for Xubuntu 14.04.)

This tip thanks to the AskUbuntu community

7) Mega update & upgrade script:

This is no major brain storm, but I was getting sick of typing in the commands to do a full 100% upgrade, so I worked out this little script:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I personally save it as a file called upgrade. then i use the command chmod a+x upgrade in the folder my saved text document "upgrade" is in.

So now when I want to get any and all upgrades for my system, i simply open terminal, and type ./upgrade. Enter passwords where it asks and type y for yes when it asks, and whalla, quick through upgrades.

8) IRSSI quick login script:

If you want quick access to irc chat servers like (for example), then my little script will get you logged in with your password in no time. (if you have a username and password, not everyone does, and it's not neccessary)

irssi -c -n (username here) -w (password here)

so mine looks like:

irssi -c -n hylian -w ******** (I'm not going to show you my password.) :D

I save this in a text file called freenode, and then in the terminal i use the command chmod a+x freenode (in the directory i saved the file in)

Then when i want to quickly access, all I need is to start terminal and run ./freenode (or whatever else you saved it as).

9) Make the laptop screen go to full brightness upon startup:

This is no longer an issue for me as of Xubuntu 14.04, but I keep it handy for when I feel like trying another distro.

Open a terminal window, and execute this command to edit /etc/rc.local:

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

Add this before the last line “exit 0″:

echo 10 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness

The number 10 is for my laptop, some laptops only go up to 4, 6, etc.

To find out what your max brightness is for your laptop, use this command:

cat /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/max_brightness

make sure to save the edited rc.local file.

This tip thanks to

10) forcibly install ia32-libs on Ubuntu 14.04:

Before you do this, I have found my machine slows down and acts buggy after doing this. If you absolutely need to run something that requires ia32-libs, then this will work, but you were warned here by me.

sudo apt-get install libc6:i386
sudo -i
cd /etc/apt/sources.list.d
echo "deb raring main restricted universe multiverse" >ia32-libs-raring.list
apt-get update
apt-get install ia32-libs
rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ia32-libs-raring.list
apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gcc-multilib

This works, I've done it. that old ia32-libs required package works again.

This tip was found on

11) My "starter" pack for fresh installs of Ubuntu:

If you install Ubuntu as much or as often as I do, then remembering what apps you want installed is a pain, and that pain becomes far worse in my opinion if you have to use Ubuntu Software Center.

So this is just a simple script I keep on my storage hard drive to speed up the process.

sudo apt-get install mc moc irssi links htop ubuntu-restricted-extras wine mplayer cheese synaptic unetbootin ubuntu-restricted-addons audacity lame stellarium gimp gftp cowsay openbox obmenu k3b calibre fglrx libreoffice lib32z1 lib32ncurses5 lib32bz2-1.0 dosbox gdebi celestia-gnome celestia-common-nonfree pcmanfm wicd-cli gpart gparted

Let me break down my madness for you.

mc moc irssi links htop & wicd-cli are my "the GUI is dead, Jim" kit. Even though this hasn't happened since 2008, I still install them.

If you find yourself in the cli without a gui, with my kit you can easily change wifi connections (wicd-cli), search google or for solutions to your nightmare (links), plead for help from the fine folks at (irssi), quickly do file chores on the hard drive (mc), kill troublesome processes (htop), and soothe your now very freyed nerves with music (moc, started with command mocp).

ubuntu-restricted-extras & ubuntu-restricted-addons gives you most of the used codecs for audio and video, and also installs flash plugin for you. very useful.

wine because I have a few widows apps I use everyday, and there is no such app for Linux. (Namely the Watchtower Library).

libreoffice because I use the spreadsheet and wordprocessor alot, and I want all that the office suite affords.

k3b because in my opinion it is the best Linux dvd/cd burning software in existence, bar none. Mostly because it checks to mak sure my ISO files aren't utter crap before I burn them, making my frisbee pile null and void.

lib32z1 lib32ncurses5 lib32bz2-1.0 is installed because ia32-libs no longer exists in the repos, and these particular packages regain some of what was lost by dumping ia32-libs.

mplayer because on rare occasions I like to listen to shoutcast streams in the cli.

unetbootin for putting ubuntu on usb keys.

openbox and obmenu are for in case xfce takes a dump or somehow totally dissappears, which also has not happened since 2008.

audacity and lame make a great team for cutting your own mp3's, or cutting mp3's you already have. very usefull audio tools.

celestia-gnome celestia-common-nonfree & stellarium because I fancy myself a bit of an astronomer. (very amateur).

synaptic because if i am going to use the gui to install a package, i would use just about anything else besides the bloated, slow Ubuntu Software Center. (Although I use apt-get 99% of the time.)

fglrx because my video hardware is 99% AMD, and fglrx is the driver of choice for said hardware.

cheese for webcam selfies

gimp for photo editing

gftp for ftp file transfer

cowsay for making goofy cli cow pictures

calibre for reading epub/ebooks from my interesting collection

dosbox for playing commander keen 4, the best platformer ever made for dos.

gdebi is so very useful. Gdebi is the easiest way to install .deb package files. I use it in the terminal, just sudo gdebi (name of .deb file here)

gpart gparted for hard drive work, partitioning, etc...

Well that's the end of my list, I hope you find it useful!