Monday, December 30, 2013

The Storage Capacity of DNA

While reading the December 2013 issue of the Awake! magazine, i saw this article. After reading it, I just had to share it with you. This technology could make terrabyte hard drives feel like 3.5" diskettes.

"COMPUTER users generate enormous amounts of digital data that has to be stored for access as needed. Scientists are hoping to revolutionize current methods for digital storage by imitating a far superior data-storage system found in nature—DNA.

Consider: DNA, found in living cells, holds billions of pieces of biological information. “We can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths . . . and make sense of it,” says Nick Goldman of the European Bioinformatics Institute. “It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy.” Could DNA store man-made data? Researchers say yes.

Scientists have synthesized DNA with encoded text, images, and audio files, much as digital media stores data. The researchers were later able to decode the stored information with 100 percent accuracy. Scientists believe that in time, using this method, 0.04 ounce (1 g) of artificial DNA could store the data of some 3,000,000 CDs and that all this information could be preserved for hundreds if not thousands of years. Potentially, this system could store the whole world’s digital archive. DNA has thus been dubbed “the ultimate hard drive.”

What do you think? Could the storage capacity of DNA have come about by evolution? Or was it designed?" -Awake! December 2013

To see the original article, check it out here:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Razor-qt, a sharp looking desktop

In searching the web for the newest in Linux tech, I came across Razor-qt, a desktop environment for Linux.

It's hard to win me over. I have been a  ardent fan of XFCE for a very long time, and still will be for a long time to come I believe.

I have to say that Razor is the first desktop environment that actually stands nearly toe to toe with XFCE, in my opinion.

What makes an excellent desktop environment?

For me their are a few key features I want above the rest.

Number one is functional. It has to have the ability to do everything I want it to do without going to the terminal/cli. All the setting should be graphical in nature.

Razor fulfills this.

A very close number 2 is speed. One of the reasons XFCE wins out with me is because they handle requirement number one with grace while still being very very fast.

Razor is not as flushed out on desktop settings as XFCE, but it makes up for it by being as fast as XFCE, I dare say even a hair faster.

Number 3 is where Razor shines. After function and speed, I do care somewhat about form.

Razor is quite beautiful to me. I belief Razor has XFCE beat in the looks department.

Here are 2 screen shots from my desktop to give you a taste of how it looks:

Here's what the Razor-qt team has to say about their project:

"Razor-qt is an advanced, easy-to-use, and fast desktop environment based on Qt technologies. It has been tailored for users who value simplicity, speed, and an intuitive interface. Unlike most desktop environments, Razor-qt also works fine with weak machines.
While still a new project, Razor-qt already contains the key DE components:

Application launcher
Settings center
You can use either all of them or part of them. Razor-qt works with various WMs, most of Razor developers use Openbox. But it's no problem to take any modern WM from fwwm2 to kwin (yes, KDE without Plasma Desktop is possible too).
Razor-qt is a new open-source project and you can help us improve it. We welcome your bug reports and suggestions; you are free to translate all into your own language, create more attractive graphics, anything."

To install Razor in Ubuntu, I had to follow these simple steps in the terminal/cli:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:razor-qt

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install razorqt

For more information on other platforms, check out

When installing Razor-qt in Xubuntu 12.04, I was prompted with the question of what window manager to use with Razor. Since XFCE was already installed, I use XFCE's window manager, xfwm.

I have had no problems with using xfwm. I did need to use lxappearance to get the icons in thunar to look right. Other than that, everything went fairly smooth. (And I don't think that is a xfwm issue..)

I am torn. I am still the skeptic waiting to find something that doesn't sit quite right for me, sending me back to the open arms of XFCE.

If I had to choose between XFCE and Razor, for now it would still be XFCE. Most likely because I know XFCE well enough to feel comfortable with it.

But in all fairness, Razor is still in beta stages. Also, I want to point out that Razor is definitely my 2nd choice, and just barely at that.

If the choice was between Razor and LXDE, Razor would win in a land slide.

Since we all have differences of opinion, and cherish different things, I suggest you try Razor for yourself. It takes only minutes or seconds to download, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by Razor.

Here are some more screenshots thanks to that will give you a more rounded out feel of what Razor can do:

Razor-qt 0.5. Default theme.

Razor-qt 0.3. Abut dialog. Green theme.

And some more screens thanks to Google's Image search:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Munich completes switch to Linux

The city of Munich has been in the Linux news for some time.

They have made headlines since they first released plans of completely switching over from proprietary systems such as Microsoft Windows to a specialized version of Linux, some time ago.

Munich city officials reported that Munich has finished this process as of today, December 12th, 2013.

While it's a feather in the cap of us open source Linux fans out there, the officials report that there have been excellent side effects to this project.

Munich city officials reported saving over 11 million euros switching.

This is just a mile stone marker among many that have been completed already.

Linux now has the lions share of the market. Microsoft Windows now really only has a small market control, and that is in home computers.

To those of you who are telling yourselves you don't use Linux, don't be so certain.

Linux is found in tablets, cars, microwave ovens, televisions, watches, cell phones, and on, and on.

If you have used a computerized device, then you most like;y have used Linux.

If you have used Google, Facebook, Twitter or many of the biggest internet services available, then you have used Linux servers indirectly.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

FSF touts Windows as unsafe, proprietary software the culprit

The Free Software Foundation has responded to Microsoft's privacy and encryption announcement, explaining that, in fact, it's all in vain.

Microsoft has made some promises regarding an effort to protect customer data from government snooping, but the Free Software Foundation thinks that everything they've said is actually in vain.

“While we have no direct evidence that customer data has been breached by unauthorized government access, we don't want to take any chances and are addressing this issue head on. Therefore, we will pursue a comprehensive engineering effort to strengthen the encryption of customer data across our networks and services,” said Brad Smith, general counsel & executive vice president, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.

On the other hand, the Free Software Foundation says anything that Microsoft will do in this regard can't really be trusted because they are using proprietary software.

“Microsoft has made renewed security promises before. In the end, these promises are meaningless. Proprietary software like Windows is fundamentally insecure not because of Microsoft's privacy policies but because its code is hidden from the very users whose interests it is supposed to secure. A lock on your own house to which you do not have the master key is not a security system, it is a jail,” said FSF Executive Director John Sullivan.

The FSF director has explained that, while the promise of “transparency” sounds good, it will amount to nothing because it's impossible to review the code that they are running.

“Freedom and security necessitate not just being allowed a peek at the code. Microsoft has demonstrated time and time again that its definition of a 'back door' will not be the same as yours. Noticing that the back door is wide open will do you no good if you are forbidden from shutting it,” ended John Sullivan.

If we were to follow the Free Software Foundation’s advice, the only way to be sure that you don't have any backdoors is to switch to a GNU / Linux operating system and never look back.

Thanks to Silviu Stahie and Softpedia for this article. It's an eye opener!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS gets major kernel updates

Time to run sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade if you are a Ubuntu 12.04 LTS user like me.

Their have been some major updates that solve a lot of security holes and bugs.

Softpedia covered it well:

"Canonical does a good job at protecting its supported Ubuntu Linux distributions by releasing security updates from time to time. On December 3, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS received a major kernel upgrade that fixed twelve vulnerabilities discovered in the upstream Linux 3.2 kernel by various developers (eight of them were discovered by Kees Cook).

The first security issue is an information leak discovered in the Linux kernel's IPv6 network stack – it could allow a remote attacker to cause a DoS (Denial of Service) attack and obtain sensitive information, and the second one was a flaw in the Linux kernel’s Xen subsystem – it could allow a privileged user in the guest OS to destroy data on the disk.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth security issues were discovered in the Linux kernel’s HID (Human Interface Device) subsystem, allowing a physically proximate attacker to cause a DoS (Denial of Service), execute arbitrary code, obtain sensitive information from kernel memory.

The eleventh security issue was discovered by Alan Chester in Linux kernel’s IPv6 Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) – it could allow a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information, and the twelfth one was discovered by Dmitry Vyukov in the Linux kernel's handling of IPv6 UFO (UDP Fragmentation Offload) processing – it could allow a remote attacker to cause a DoS (Denial of Service) attack.

As usual, these security flaws can be fixed if you upgrade your Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) system(s) to the linux-image-3.2.0-57 (3.2.0-57.87) package(s). To apply the kernel update, run the Update Manager application or follow the detailed instructions provided by Canonical on this web page

Users are urged to update their Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) systems as soon as possible. Don't forget to reboot your computer after the upgrade!" -Softpedia

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Whisker Menu, an excellent XFCE menu option

--- Updated December 4th, 2013 ---

While looking up an article about the changes to Xubuntu 14.04, I saw they where adding a program called "Whisker Menu".

Being the curious cat that I am, I downloaded it.

I loved it at first glance. Beautiful, simple, and quick. Which is what I have come to expect from anything designed to work with XFCE.

Here's a pic of my Whisker Menu:

I could have changed the colors to reflect the XFCE panel bar on top, but I personally like the set up already. Very easy to read.

Here's a blurb from Whisker Menu's about section:

"Whisker Menu is an alternate application launcher for Xfce. When you open it you are shown a list of applications you have marked as favorites. You can browse through all of your installed applications by clicking on the category buttons on the side. Top level categories make browsing fast, and simple to switch between. Additionally, Whisker Menu keeps a list of the last ten applications that you’ve launched from it.

Favorites are easy to add and reorder. When browsing through your applications, right-click on any of them and select “Add to Favorites”. Simply drag and drop your favorites list to arrange them to suit your needs. You can remove them at any time from another right-click option.

If you’re not sure exactly where a program is listed, instead of browsing through each category you can simply enter a search term. The search field is focused when opening the menu, so you can just start typing. Application descriptions as well as names are searched, which allows you to find a program by using a general word (such as “browser” to find all web browsers installed on your computer)."

To download and install it in Xubuntu, paste these into your terminal application one line at a time:

(pasting into terminal is done with Control Shift V)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gottcode/gcppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin

*this repository/ppa only works with XFCE 4.8. to install one that works with 4.10, check this out:

Once installed, I had to add it manually to the XFCE panel.

I did that by first right clicking the top panel bar, and then choosing panel > add new items

Then I scrolled down to the Whisker Menu option in the Add New Items box

Then I clicked on the Whisker Menu option, and then clicked add.

Then I put the menu where I wanted it. The menu will show up on the far right. If you want it on the far left, then you will have to choose "move" by right clicking the Whisker Menu

and then click and drag it to where you want it.

Last but not least, since there is no point in having 2 menu's, I removed the standard XFCE application menu by right clicking it and choosing remove.

This is just a taste of what we can expect with Xubuntu 14.04 LTS. I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Irssi - The client of the future

It feels strange calling Irssi the "Client of the future"... but in many ways it is.

First off, let me explain what Irssi is. "Irssi is a terminal based IRC client for UNIX systems. It also supports SILC and ICB protocols via plugins."

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, and has been around since 1988. It's used for many reasons, from group chat to one on one chat to even file transfer.

I use IRC a lot for Ubuntu problem solving with the official Ubuntu IRC group, found at, channel #ubuntu.

The reason I feel strange about calling Irssi "the client of the future" is because of the fact that it runs from a terminal.

In other words, it would fit right in with a movie about computing in the 80's with black and green non color, non graphics computers.

Here's a screenshot to give you a sense of what I mean:

Don't let the "low tech" appearance fool you however. Irssi is a rock solid reliable, easy to use and complete IRC client. It is my client of choice.

As stated on the Irssi "About" page, here is just a taste of what Irssi has to offer:


Irssi will automatically log any channels, queries or special windows that you want. The logfiles will be separated per IRC network, and even log rotation is supported. Log file formats, themes and destination directories can be easily configured with the Irssi log settings.

Formats and themes

Theming is a popular item in todays desktop enviroments, it's an easy yet powerful way to customize your Irssi client's look and feel. Irssi's formatting is modular which means you can just change the appearance of the objects and all items contaning that object will change into that format.

Configurable keybindings

This feature is a piece of art; it allows you to modify the default keybindings and create your own so you can customize your client. If these keybindings are tuned, you can switch through the windows in no time, execute commands and even complete objects with these bindings.

Paste detection

If you have ever pasted a bunchload of text into a wrong channel, you know how hard the consequences can be. Irssi tries to detect when you are pasting large amounts of text, by looking at the speed that characters are entered; if such pasting is detected [TAB]-characters are sent as-is instead of being tab-completed and eventually ending up in a wrong destination window. When Irssi detects such a pasting, you will get the option to either abort the paste or execute the paste, this way you have total control of the pasting.

Perl scripting

Perl is one of the most used programming languages around the globe and integrating Perl into applications means flexible and powerful scripting capabilities. The entire behavior and appearence of Irssi can be modified within these Perl scripts. Irssi provides a script archive with many contributed Irssi scripts which provide both useful extra features and the required assistance to make your own scripts.


This is much more than just a bouncer, Irssi-proxy is a plugin which allows to bind a port to each IRC server you are connected to. This means that instead of having to remember to identify with a password, you can just connect to the Irssi-proxy with a server password. The copy of Irssi running the proxy works just as a normal client which you can use, but you can also connect one or more clients to it to share the connections. Using Irssi as a proxy has the major advantage of Irssi's power as an IRC client. You never have to worry about losing your connection to IRC. Even if you don't want to use Issi as a client, I can strongly recommend it as a proxy because you can just connect to it with any IRC client by just connecting to the specified port instead of SSH-ing to the machine that your Irssi is running on.


Upgrading your Irssi client to the latest version can be easily done without losing the connections to the IRC servers and without restarting Irssi. You can use the UPGRADE command to load the new Irssi binary and restoring your connections."

In my personal set up, I create an icon with Alacarte. In the icon, my command looks like this:

terminator -x irssi -c -n (nickname) -w (password)

In this case, terminator (arguably the best terminal emulator available for Linux) starts up Irssi. Irssi then takes these commands from terminator, and logs me into the server under my Freenode registered nickname and password.

This makes freenode, and by extension the #ubuntu channel, a mouse click away.

(A nickname and password set up is not required by Freenode, it is just an option if you want a specialized nickname. Nicknames are used to distinguish one user from another, that's all.)

Here's my Freenode access icon, thanks to Alacarte:

I also have a bash script with the name freenode in my home directory.

It looks like this: irssi -c -n (nickname) -w (password).

That way i am just a ./freenode away from chatting it up with #ubuntu.

* These scripts do not work the first time Irssi is started up, because at first launch Irssi has a "welcome to irssi" screen that takes precedence.

You can get Irssi in Ubuntu by Synaptic, the Ubuntu Software Center, or with apt-get via sudo apt-get install irssi.

There is also a Windows version, check for more details.

Well, I have said just about everything I have to say about good ole' Irssi.

If you are looking for a client, or are looking for something better, give Irssi a try.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Steam based Linux gaming machine to rival XBOX, Playstation

Valve, the company behind the game software "Steam" is making great strides in an attempt to be a real player in the console gaming industry.

Basing their new operating system on Linux, they have been able to get very impressive frame rates out of their new hardware package.

The thing is, this hardware package isn't the greatest gaming machine out there. It's very good hardware, just not the greatest.

And yet that have successfully reached a standard of 60 frames per second at 1080p, which is very impressive.

This is the hardware in the prototype model:

- GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
- CPU: some boxes with Intel : i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
- RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB DDR5 (GPU)
- Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
- Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
- Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

To add to this impressive feat is that the starting machine price will be at around $499.

"If prototypes, like the one from iBuyPower, manage to stay in direct competition (from a quality point of view) with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, while providing a huge array of games from the Steam library, Valve and its Linux-based SteamOS will soon rule the living-room." -Softpedia

I have to admit that while I am not a gamer, I am proud to see Linux taking yet another computer genre position.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MOC is a rock-solid audio player

I use MOC as my default audio player. It has a lot of wonderful features. My favorite option is the "set it and forget it feature", i.e. start up MOC, choose your audio to play, then quit MOC and it will still play your audio, leaving the console open for other uses.

I use MOC with a terminal emulator to play my audio. (Look below for my set up using Terminator.)

"MOC (music on console) is a console audio player for LINUX/UNIX designed to be powerful and easy to use.

You just need to select a file from some directory using the menu similar to Midnight Commander, and MOC will start playing all files in this directory beginning from the chosen file. There is no need to create playlists as in other players.

However if you want to combine some files from one or more directories on one playlist, you can still do it. The playlist will be remembered between runs or you can save it as an m3u file and load it whenever you want.

Need the console where MOC is running for more important things? Need to close the X terminal emulator? You don't have to stop listening to the music - just press q and the interface will be detached leaving the server running. You can reattach it later, or you can attach one interface in the console, and another in the X terminal emulator, no need to switch just to play another file.

MOC plays smoothly, regardless of system or I/O load because it uses the output buffer in a separate thread. It provides gapelss playback because the next file to be played is precached while the current file is playing.

Internet streams (Icecast, Shoutcast) are supported.

Key mapping can be fully customized.

Supported file formats include: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Musepack, Speex, WAVE (and other less popular formats supported by Sndfile), MOD, WavPack, AAC, SID, MIDI. Moreover most audio formats recognized by FFMpeg/LibAV are also supported (e.g. MP4, Opus, WMA, APE, AC3, DTS - even embedded in video files). New formats support is under development.

Other features:

Mixer (both software and hardware) and simple equalizer

Color themes

Searching playlist or a directory

Configurable title creation from filenames and file tags

Optional character set conversion for file tags using iconv()

OSS, ALSA, JACK and SNDIO output

User defined keys

Cache for files' tags" -About MOC

You start MOC with the mocp command.

I use MOC as my regular audio player. I even went as far as to build an icon for the menu using alacarte.

I did this by using Terminator. my command looks like this: terminator -e mocp

Add an icon of choice, and you can gain access to your audio player from the menu any time. Here's my pic of the menu entry I made for MOC. (Yeah, I stole the Midnight Commander icon for MOC) ;)

Here's my screenshot of MOC:

Click to enlarge
While you can access the list below in MOC using "h", I thought I would include here all the default keys used with MOC.

q              Detach MOC from the server
ENTER          Start playing at this file or go to this directory
DOWN           Move down in the menu
UP             Move up in the menu
PAGE_DOWN      Move one page down
PAGE_UP        Move one page up
HOME           Move to the first item in the menu
END            Move to the last item in the menu
Q              Quit
s              Stop
n              Play next file
b              Play previous file
p SPACE        Pause
f              Toggle ReadTags option
S              Toggle Shuffle
R              Toggle Repeat
X              Toggle AutoNext
TAB            Switch between playlist and file list
l              Switch between layouts
               Switch on/off play time percentage
a              Add a file/directory to the playlist
C              Clear the playlist
A              Add a directory recursively to the playlist
Y              Remove playlist entries for non-existent files
<              Decrease volume by 1%
>              Increase volume by 1%
,              Decrease volume by 5%
.              Increase volume by 5%
RIGHT          Seek forward by n-s
LEFT           Seek backward by n-s
h ?            Show the help screen
M              Hide error/informative message
^r ^l          Refresh the screen
r              Reread directory content
H              Toggle ShowHiddenFiles option
m              Go to the music directory (requires an entry in the config)
d              Delete an item from the playlist
g /            Search the menu
V              Save the playlist
^t             Toggle ShowTime option
^f             Toggle ShowFormat option
o              Play from the URL
G              Go to the directory containing the currently played file
i              Go to a directory
U              Go to '..'
^g ^n          Find the next matching item
^x ESCAPE      Exit from an entry
]              Silent seek forward by 5s
[              Silent seek backward by 5s
M-1            Set volume to 10%
M-2            Set volume to 20%
M-3            Set volume to 30%
M-4            Set volume to 40%
M-5            Set volume to 50%
M-6            Set volume to 60%
M-7            Set volume to 70%
M-8            Set volume to 80%
M-9            Set volume to 90%
'              Mark the start of a block
"              Mark the end of a block
!              Go to a fast dir 1
@              Go to a fast dir 2
#              Go to a fast dir 3
$              Go to a fast dir 4
%              Go to a fast dir 5
^              Go to a fast dir 6
&              Go to a fast dir 7
*              Go to a fast dir 8
(              Go to a fast dir 9
)              Go to a fast dir 10
UP             Go to the previous entry in the history (entry)
DOWN           Go to the next entry in the history (entry)
^u             Delete to start of line (entry)
^k             Delete to end of line (entry)
x              Toggles the mixer channel
w              Toggles the software-mixer
E              Toggles the equalizer
e              Reload EQ-presets
K              Select previous equalizer-preset
k              Select next equalizer-preset
J              Toggle mono-mixing
u              Move playlist item up
j              Move playlist item down
^u             Add a URL to the playlist using entry
T              Switch to the theme selection menu
F1             Execute ExecCommand1
F2             Execute ExecCommand2
F3             Execute ExecCommand3
F4             Execute ExecCommand4
F5             Execute ExecCommand5
F6             Execute ExecCommand6
F7             Execute ExecCommand7
F8             Execute ExecCommand8
F9             Execute ExecCommand9
F10            Execute ExecCommand10
L              Display lyrics of the current song (if available)
P              Toggle displaying full paths in the playlist
z              Add (or remove) a file to (from) queue
Z              Clear the queue

In closing I would like to say that I know there are a lot of other options.

I only bring MOC out because I like the feel of the app, I find it useful, and I find it to be the audio player with the very least fan fair.

MOC is the underdog of the Linux/Unix audio player world. And yet it works beautifully, and has many options that make it a great replacement for bulky audio players like Rhythmbox and Banshee.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Joli Os, we bid you a farewell

It was announced today that the Jolicloud Desktop OS will be discontinued In December.

While the Jolicloud people gave good reasons, it's sad to see as unique a distribution as Joli go this way.

The company's reason is that they are going "to entirely focus on the web with Jolicloud 2".

You will still be able to use the operating system for some time, but updates will no longer be supplied.

The company will now take JoliDrive and rename it to Jolicloud 2. The reason given was that JoliDrive has a very large user base, and so obviously that is where they should put their attention.

“JoliDrive is growing to the point where a lot of the actions that used to require an OS no longer do”, Jolicloud’s communications guru Zak Kaufman told OMGUbuntu's Joey-Elijah Sneddon via e-mail.

“Things like file management, music and video playback, can all be done using Jolidrive, available from any web browser on almost every platform”.

I personally liked the directions they where going. Joli's desktop OS was intended to feel like the online version, and yet to function well offline.

The two "desktops" merged pretty well together.

Joli OS desktop version had at one point made me reconsider my current fave, Xubuntu 12.04 LTS.


P.S. Here's a screenshot in case you wanted to just get a glimpse at what the desktop looks like.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NSA asked for backdoor to Linux

"Far from being a rumor, word of the approach comes via Linus’ father, Nils Torvalds.

As a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Nils was present at recent committee inquiry held on the “Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens”. Here, representatives from a number of companies named in documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were questioned about their own (alleged) involvement.

Following a question put to a Microsoft spokeswoman by Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström on whether the company willingly include “backdoors” for the NSA in their system, Nils Torvalds MEP said:

When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer …everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

If that sounds familiar to you then you might have seen the snippet on YouTube. Linus went on to insist that he was joking, and that the NSA had not approached him.

But, speaking at November 11th’s inquiry, his father seems to think otherwise.

Following on from allegations that Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and, indeed, Microsoft are among the many companies wilfully cooperating with the agency to provide “backdoor” access to their systems, this revelation is far from earth-shattering. In fact, is makes sense in the grand scheme of things." -OMGUbuntu

I don't think I can add to this... I now realize just how serious the NSA is about gaining information..

Any hole the NSA has added to our software is just another hole others can exploit.

I get why they would want these holes.. I wonder though if they realize the damage they might be causing to those of us who are in the line of fire.

The everyday person just going on the internet, checking their email, and maybe watching youtube or netflix are more vulnerable because of these actions by the NSA...


Monday, November 18, 2013

Canonical engineer deems Mint "vulnerable", Mint responds

Canonical engineer Oliver Grawert called Linux Mint a "vulnerable system" because of Mint's security updates system.

Mint holds back certain updates, mainly for stability issues. (This is an opinion, and has not been stated by the Linux Mint team.)

While the statement made by Mr. Grawert is truthful, I believe it isn't quite as serious as some would believe.

Mint does offer the updates, they just don't automatically suggest installation. (Again, I believe for stability reasons.)

Not that security concerns should be in any way brushed off. Linux is not infallible. It's very solid, but no software made by imperfect beings is going to be flawless.

Mint's response to all of this has also made things in the Linux community more tense, mostly because their reasons for not adding the updates automatically have been as clear as mud.

Also their is a unnecessary rivalry between the Canonical/Ubuntu and Linux Mint communities.

” We explained why the Ubuntu update policy was not good enough for us and we consequently developed the update manager to solve that particular problem.

Firefox doesn't come to you later in Mint than it does in Ubuntu (it’s a level 2 update).

Yes, by default you get updates in Ubuntu for kernels and Xorg and not in Mint. Yes, there’s a very good reason for that.”

Why Mr. Lefebvre doesn't expand on his “very good reason” is uncertain.

Again, Mint does not stop users from installing the updates/upgrades.

Friday, November 15, 2013

EFF criticizes Shuttleworth, Canonical

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is an organization that protects the freedom of the open source community. In a statement about Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth, they voiced their frustration at the way things have been handled as of late.

If you read my last article about "fix ubuntu" then you know what some of this is about.

Here is the official release from EFF:

“Over the past few days, EFF and one of our staff technologists, the talented Micah Lee, have had an illuminating back and forth with Canonical Ltd over the use of the Ubuntu mark. While we don’t believe that Canonical has acted with malice or intent to censor, its silly invocation of trademark law is disturbing. After all, not everyone has easy recourse to lawyers and the ability to push back,” states the organization on its website.

Mark Shuttleworth also said that Canonical needed to enforce their patents, or they would lose them. This is one of the ideas that has been pointed out by the EFF as a fallacy.

“Canonical’s trademark ‘policy’ does not and cannot trump the First Amendment. Imagine the impact on free speech if you needed a ‘grant of permission’ from BP, Coca-Cola Amatil, or EFF before using one of their trademarks as part of speech criticizing their conduct.”

“It is well-settled that the First Amendment protects non-commercial websites—like—that use trademarks to comment upon corporations and products,”

For more information on the "fix ubuntu" scandal, check out my post directly below this one.

I personally am glad they spoke up. The fix ubuntu website wasn't even a directly inflamatory attack on Ubuntu or Canonical. It was and is simply a solution to a problem. He doesn't post any opinion at all other than the label "fix ubuntu".


P.S. Thanks goes to Softpedia for their continued excellent coverage of the open source and Ubuntu/Linux world.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Canonical launches campaign against critic contains information on stopping the "online services" provided by Canonical in Ubuntu Dash. For those of you who aren't certain what dash is, it's the button on the top left that houses app icons and helps you to find your media quickly.

The scuttlebutt happened after Canonical took notice of the Ubuntu icon and the obvious homage to Ubuntu in the URL.

Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu sent an official letter to Micah F. Lee, the owner of, in which they asked him to take down the Ubuntu logo and to change the domain name (URL).

The letter from Canonical reads:

“It has been brought to our attention that your website: is using Canonical’s trademarks including Ubuntu logo on your website and Ubuntu word in your domain name.”

“To keep the balance between the integrity of our trademarks and the ability to use and promote Ubuntu, we’ve tried to define a reasonable Intellectual Property Policy. As you can see from our policy, to use the Ubuntu trademarks and Ubuntu word in a domain name would require approval from Canonical.”

“Unfortunately, in this instance we cannot give you permission to use Ubuntu trademarks on your website and in your domain name as they may lead to confusion or the misunderstanding that your website is associated with Canonical or Ubuntu.”

Mr. Lee replied with the help of a lawyer, that the first amendment of the constitution protects his right to "manage trademark items in non-commercial websites that criticize corporations and products".

This being said, the owner has removed the logo from and has posted a statement that makes it clear he is not affiliated in any way with Canonical.

What does any of this really mean?

Personally I don't think Mr. Lee was trying in any way to mislead people into thinking he was affiliated or held any official position with Canonical.

His website is very straight forward and in now way is an attempt to disgrace/discredit Canonical or Ubuntu.

It's clear from the website (in my opinion) that he simply wished to help people solve an issue he perceived, and that he used the Ubuntu name to make his intentions clear and easy to find.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Debian Switches to Xfce

"Debian, the foundation upon which many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, are based, is to switch to Xfce as its default desktop environment.

News of the switch came by way of this commit from developer Joey Hess. Hess cites a number of reasons as to why Debian 8.0, code named “Jessie”, will benefit from Xfce. These include:

Accessibility support, particularly for visually-impaired users
Xfce being closer to the “GNOME 2″ experience
CD space constraints
But GNOME isn’t out of contention entirely. Developers intend to re-evaluate this decision before Jessie enters freeze. If data shows that GNOME is the better default option for users it is likely be reinstated as default.

A final decision on this will be taken, Hess says, nearer August 2014, and will be informed by:

The numbers of installs of GNOME 3 on Debian whilst defaulting to Xfce
Improvements made to GNOME 3 in accessibility & feature parity to GNOME 2
User feedback on interface changes on-going in GNOME 3 development
For now Xfce will be distributed by default." -OMGUbuntu

I am looking forward to this, being a XFCE user myself.

I am a fan of Debian, and several times I have considered going straight Debian instead of my Ubuntu derivative, Xubuntu.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Linux Kernel to jump to version 4

Linus Tovalds is now thinking about changing the numbering of the kernel pretty soon, to 4.0, to mark the launch of a bug fix release.

The Linux kernel developer and maintainer has explained that, at some point in the future, the numbering of the Linux kernel will pass from 3.x to 4.x, to keep things manageable, and that he would do it sooner rather than later.

“I don't want us to get to the kinds of crazy numbers we had in the 2.x series, so at some point we're going to cut over from 3.x to 4.x, just to keep the numbers small and easy to remember. We're not there yet, but I would actually prefer to not go into the twenties, so I can see it happening in a year or so, and we'll have 4.0 follow 3.19 or something like that,” said Linus Torvalds in the Linux kernel 3.12 announcement.

Replacing one numbering system with another just for the sake of it would accomplish nothing, so he came with an interesting idea. All the developers have to focus on bug fixing when the decision to go to 4.x is made, and make the new version a very stable one, worthy of the important prefix change.

“If we have enough heads-up that people *know* that for one release (and companies/managers know that too) the only patches that get accepted are the kind that fix bugs, maybe people really would have sufficient attention span that it could work.”

“And the reason I mention ‘4.0’ is that it would be a lovely time to do that. Roughly a years heads-up that ‘ok, after 3.19 (or whatever), we're doing a release with *just* fixes, and then that becomes 4.0’,” said Linus Torvalds.

Bringing a new, extremely stable 4.0 version would be a serious push for distribution developers who would just jump at the opportunity to integrate such a release into their operating systems.

As originally seen here:
Say Hello to Linux Kernel 4.0 and Say Goodbye to 3.x

Friday, October 18, 2013

Calibre, an excellent ebook/epub reader...

While reading the Linux news at Softpedia, I noticed an article about a ebook reader named Calibre.

I was skeptical at first, I've been hard pressed to find a better ebook reader for Linux platforms than FBReader.

I have to admit though that after using Calibre for a little while, it won me over.

FBReader is a fine ebook reader, but Calibre has a easier book addition system, an easier to use menu system, and a few functions I never even knew where possible for an ebook reader, like a ebook converter.

I love the store option.

If I could make changes, it would be that full screen wouldn't stretch the book to ridiculous portions, and I wish i could ad a website as a store, like

Here is a list of features available thanks to

Library Management
E-book conversion
Syncing to e-book reader devices
Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
Comprehensive e-book viewer
Content server for online access to your book collection

You can get Calibre here:

Ubuntu users can get Calibre from the Software Store, Synaptic, or through apt-get. (sudo apt-get install calibre)

If you have been looking for a good ebook reader, give Calibre a try.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tech support forum snobbery sucks

After dealing with the "higher ups" on tech help forums, I can say with a certainty that 80 % of them are controlling angry ignorant people.

There are some real "diamonds in the rough" that take the time to listen to you, and explain themselves thoroughly.

So as a person who gives his time and talents to help people on these boards, I am publishing my etiquette list for those people you know that do this.

1) Don't tell me I do not need what I am asking for, I do.

2) Do not try to convince me I am wrong, I am not wrong. (I may be confused or under-educated)

3) If you (or the company) can't or won't do what I ask, tell me that.

4) Tell me why you won't do what I want or need you to do.


6) Above all, don't side track or try to dodge the question. Come at me straight with it. Say Yes or No to my request, and then say WHY you will or won't implement/solve the issue.

Now with all that said...

To the poster of said question/suggestion/comment

Type in clear complete english.

Broken english is sometimes nigh on impossible to figure out.

I have needed Captain Comix's decoder ring to figure out some of your posts.

I also love those people who put on such simple forum posts as:


Dear Denny's Home World,

My computer doesn't work right.



Details details details! What is the make/model of the computer? (I.E. Compaq Presario CQ57)

What exactly is it not doing correctly?

What software were/are you using?

What Operating System are you using? (Linux, Windows, what version? Windows 7? Windows 8? Xubuntu?)

Above all, if it isn't clear, precise and straight forward, please re-consider posting.
(Don't angry post either please.)     :)

Thanks for your time,

Friday, October 4, 2013

Text Enhance, that frustrating, evil, underlined ad..

If you have ever been to a website injected with links that instantly pop up ads in your way blocking you from reading the article, you know what Text Enhance is.

Before I go on, here are some images showing you what I mean:

Text Enhance installs itself into your browser.. This has almost never been added by the webmaster.

Text Enhance doesn't ask you if you wanted it to be installed. It just installs itself quietly and invisibly.

-- Removing this junk --

I am glad to tell you removing Text Enhance is fairly easy.

First of all, it's not in the website, it's on your computer. Nearly 100% of the time, in fact.

Here is the quick howto for removal:

Removing Add-Ons/Extensions

Chrome: click on the wrench/3 bars at the top right, then select Tools, then Extensions and remove any extensions you don't remember installing.

IE: click Tools, then Manage Add-Ons and remove any extensions you don't remember installing.

Firefox: click Tools, then Add Ons and remove any extensions you don't remember installing.

If you go into extensions and find nothing extra there, then you may have to remove one extension after another until you find the culprit.

*Text Enhance sometimes calls itself a codec, it has also been known as Facetheme, Better Links, Vid Save or Vidsaver.

If you have removed your extensions only to find it's still there, then re-install any extensions you like along with adblock plus. This will stop it.

Add/Remove Programs

Text Enhance can actually install itself, especially in older OS's like Windows XP.

In Windows XP, go into Control Panel and choose Add/Remove Programs and look for software you don't recognize. If in doubt, don't uninstall. Text Enhance can be listed under several names.

In Windows 7 go into Control Panel and choose Programs & Features. Again, if in doubt don't uninstall. It most likely won't be named "Text Enhance". (That would be too easy to remove then.)

If you could not find the culprit under extensions, add ons or the control panel in Windows, then you will need to install something like Spybot Search & Destroy, which is a free and very effective spyware/malware remover made by PepiMK Software.

I suggest downloading it from They are anal about virus testing their files, and they offer older versions and beta versions of the software they house.

The FileHippo link for Spybot S&D is here:

For Linux: The only thing that stopped it for me on my Chromium installation was adblock plus. It's free, and solved my issue immediately.

I hope this has helped.

Monday, September 30, 2013

GMediaFinder, a Minitube like Youtube player

Playing YouTube videos on a slow country internet connection that barely resembles broadband, I decided to hunt around for an alternative.

Playing the videos through a standard Chrome or Firefox browser window just wasn't going to cut it.

I needed something that would cut out all the other "fat" on the page, and just give me the stream. I had success earlier with a program called Minitube, but only if I downloaded the newest deb myself, and installed it with something like GDebi.

I wanted something with a ppa so I could get updates.

I will tell you now, that in ways, Minitube in it's heyday was far better. It currently doesn't work for me at all, so I am introducing an alternative.

GMediaFinder is a little clunky, has timed out from errors unbeknownst to me on rare occasion, as is just not polished.

All that said, it actually works well. It's faster than YouTube from a browser window, and actually can play video very well for me. Minitube refused to even give me search results last time I fired it up, which was several months ago.

Here's a shot of GMediaFinder playing a children's YouTube video fond to my nephews:

This article may seem negative toward GMediaFinder but it's not. It's still the best option I have found for playing YouTube.

I just want to be honest in my portrayal of the software.

To install GMediaFinder, open a terminal and then type each of these lines in (or copy and paste):

 sudo apt-add-repository ppa:s-lagui/ppa
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install gmediafinder


(P.S. In case you where wondering, the video is called the "Elephant song".)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rock solid Fedora hits a mile stone

"Dear Fedora fans, it's time to celebrate 10 years of Fedora Linux, as ten years ago, on September 23, 2003, Michael K. Johnson announced the birth of the Fedora Project, which produces the Fedora Linux operating system." -Softpedia Linux News

For any Linux distribution to reach 10 years is an excellent show of stamina.

Sure, you have your "bigger". or more widely used distro's such as Fedora, Ubuntu, and OpenSuse to name a few.

But they all had that struggle at the beginning, and their have been so many Linux distro's that have not seen their 3rd anniversary either because of lack of interest, or because the project and the name have changed wildly from what they originally intended.

It's a testament to the Fedora team that not only have they made a Linux distro survive for 10 years, but they have also made a rock solid, reliable, beautiful operating system that does so much for their users and also for the Linux community as a whole.

While I am still a Ubuntu based user, many a times I have been tempted to switch to Fedora because of their mindset.

Fedora's focus us on being free, open to the community, sharing and having the best tech.

In the Linux community I am but one tiny voice, but still let me say congratulations to Fedora!

You hard working men and women of Fedora deserve the accolades you get.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Clonezilla, the hard drive cloning tool

Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging, or "cloning" program akin to Norton Ghost.

I started digging into using something like Clonezilla because I do a lot of Ubuntu installations, and wanted to speed things up.

Ubuntu installs fast enough, but including updates, program installs, and my favorite tweaks, it tends to be a lengthy process.

Clonezilla is an excellent way to back up your operating system in case of failure. It was impressively fast for me.

"Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging/cloning program similar to True Image® or Norton Ghost®. It helps you to do system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. At the NCHC's Classroom C, Clonezilla SE was used to clone 41 computers simultaneously. It took only about 10 minutes to clone a 5.6 GBytes system image to all 41 computers via multicasting!"'s about section

I used the Live CD. If you run a business that does mass cloning you will need Clonezilla SE. It's included in DRBL, so a DRBL server must first be set up in order to use Clonezilla to do mass cloning. (unicast, broadcast and multicast are supported)

The operating screens are nothing to write home about visually, but they are easy to use and follow.

Here's a little peak:

UN-officially i have been told that Clonezilla works quite well for Windows as well.

I can't vouch for this, because I don't use Windows.

Let me wrap this up by saying that at the time of writing this, Norton Ghost is normally $70 dollars.

So while I have nothing against this excellent software package, for those of us who are a fan of open source, or can't afford Ghost, consider Clonezilla for the job.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Urukrama, your guide to Openbox


I am forever not happy with my desktop. It seems I have to change it at least once a month.

More often than not I find myself going back to a very simple XFCE set up.

One of my favorites though, is simple, lightweight and fast... It's Openbox
The wonderful problem with Openbox is that it starts you out with nothing but a grey blank desktop with a right click menu. (I mean there is absolutely nothing on the desktop, it is just a grey blank screen.)

I say "wonderful problem" because being so very generic upon install is intentional. The idea is to run Openbox, and then add apps to flush out the desktop of your dreams.

Some of the most imaginative and beautiful desktops I have ever seen have been Openbox with a nice wallpaper thanks to an app like feh, and a taskbar like tint2, and something like conky or gkrellm2.

While I mentioned apps here, there are so many more options than these, so don't just use what I mentioned here. do some digging first.

This is where Urukrama's web log comes in.

This weblog holds a Openbox guide that covers just about everything you would want or need to know about Openbox.

Urukrama doesn't tell you what you should use, but gives you so much information on the choices out there and the pros and cons of those choices that you can make an informed decision on your own.

Urukrama covers errors that crop up to, so if you have a situation with Openbox  or an associated app, it probably has been covered here already.

If you haven't clicked the pic above by now to check out the guide, you can get there from here:

Here are some screenshots of what people have done with Openbox:

I hope you give Openbox a try.


P.S. screenshots thanks to Google's images search option.