Linux Tip: How to Transfer Files from Ubuntu to Android

img credit:
File transfers have been notoriously painful between Linux and Android. While it works seamlessly on Windows, and on Mac you can use the Android File Transfer App, let me show you how to get his done on Linux. There are many ways to achieve it, but I'll use gMTP, which gives you a nifty little UI to manage file transfers. Later on, I'll also list other alternatives, in case this fails. So let's begin.

1. Fire your terminal using ctrl + alt + T, and

> sudo apt-get update

> sudo apt-get -y install mtp-tools mtpfs gmtp 

2. Connect your Android device to your PC, and launch gmtp

3. If you have only 1 android device attached to your pc, just click on Connect. It should automatically detect the device and show you the directory listings. I have noticed there is 30s-1min delay for the connection to happen, so do give it some time.

4. Once connected, you can drag drop files to and from your device.


gMTP is slow, unreliable and buggy.  Partially, the blame falls on mtpfs and Android's implementation of MTP. So if the above method fails, below are some alternatives

1. Transfer over your local network:  Ubuntu and most linux variants support network sharing using samba. Just right click on the folder you wish to share, and select sharing and security. On your Android device, download a file manager like ES File Explorer, which can easily access your network shares. For step by step how to, see this CNET article

2. Use Dropbox/Google Drive: Works well for small files and documents

3. Try go-mtpfs:  There is a detailed video below on mounting your device. I have limited success using this but I'll keep trying.

Hope this helps. Do drop me a comment on how the above methods worked for you. And if you have found other alternatives.

Fixing UNetbootin on Mac OS X to create a Bootable Linux USB

If you had issues trying to create a bootable linux usb for a pc, from your Mac, the below tutorial might help you. Even though it sounds slightly ironic, creating a pc bootable linux distro from a Mac, it's a situation I recently faced. So sharing the workaround.

The issue is the last version of UNetbootin I tried, extracts and installs linux successfully, however fails to create a bootable usb. So here are the steps

1. Go to finder/Spotlight, and launch Disk Utility
2. Select the usb disk, and create a partition. Format it as MS-DOS FAT and select Options > MBR
3. Go to the Terminal, and type the following

diskutil list

locate the name of your usb device. In my case it was rdisk2. Depending on your OS version it could differ.

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/rdisk2

Make the partition active and unmount the disk

sudo fdisk -e /dev/rdisk2
f 1
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/rdisk2

4. Now, download the latest, and extract and locate the mbr.bin
Go back to the extracted folder in the terminal, and install mbr.bin

sudo dd conv=notrunc bs=440 count=1 if=mbr.bin of=/dev/rdisk2

5. Now download and install UNetbootin for Mac, and proceed as usual. Select the distro and click ok.

This usb stick should be bootable on any pc, with your favorite distro :)

Credit: Paul Maunders SuperUser Forum

Linux Tip: Splitting and Merging multiple files

Ever so often, when you download large files from internet, you find the file being split into smaller parts. It's easier to upload this way and most file upload sites - rapidshare, hotfile etc. have a max file size limit.

There are many ways to merge these files. Let me show you two popular ways

a) Using cat to merge
cat file.1 file.2 file.3 > file

$ cat sitcom.avi.part1 sitcom.avi.part2 sitcom.avi.part3 > sitcom.avi

Using split to well, split
split [OPTION]... [INPUT [PREFIX]]
$ split -b 100M sitcom.avi sitcom.avi.

-b, stands for binary files

It's easy to write a shell script that takes in filename, chunk size, destination etc as parameters. But why not save the trouble and use the second alternative.

b) Using Gnome split

As the name suggests, you can merge, split files right from Gnome.

It also has some cool features like deleting the chunks after merge is completed etc.

Great. That was easy, wasn't it. I haven't found any KDE alternatives yet. Feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks.

Ubuntu/Mint: Test driving Google Chrome for Linux

Google Chrome for Linux does not officially exist yet, not as "Chrome" but as a pre-alpha project called "Chromium". It's a really early build so don't go filing bug reports for it. And definitely, it won't replace your firefox or Epiphany. Atleast not that soon. So let's get started. Let me remind you one last time, Try at your own risk :)

1. Edit your apt source list.
$ sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

and append the following lines at the end
deb intrepid main
deb-src intrepid main

2. Update your sources and install Chromium
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

3. Time to test drive
$ chromium-browser

Chromium Alpha will launch with a warning message. You already know it's Chromium not Chrome. It's still a pre-alpha but is fast and renders reasonably well. Other common features such as the bookmark manager, javascript console etc. are missing but hopefully should be ready soon. Till the official Chrome Linux beta, enjoy Chromium and happy surfing!

A quick and dirty guide to installing Windows7 on an old Linux laptop

Before we get started, a quick overview of what we are about to do in the next few minutes (or hours depending on your luck).

Windows7 is the exciting new OS from Microsoft, which has garnered rave reviews from everywhere. It is touted as the best windows ever, and even the Linux community is keeping a close watch on its progress. The most interesting feature for me would definitely be the more optimized and fast experience, and the jump lists; Details of which I will cover in later sections.

My current rig:
Compaq nx7010 business laptop (2003)
Pentium Centrino 1.6GHz
1.5 Gigs of RAM
OSs installed: Linux Mint and Windows XP
Graphics adapter: ATI Mobility Radeon 9200
Critical Drivers: Intel wireless ipw2100 and..Connexant AC97

Key Objective:
To install windows7 keeping my Linux and XP intact. And atleast have wifi and sound working on the new OS. Aero will not function with the depricated graphics adapter so will give it a pass.

A Word of Warning:

1. Backup all your important stuff. Be careful, It's a beta we are dealing with here.2. Keep all your old windows drivers in a place, as we may need it later.
3. This is a long article, so be patient and don't jump steps.
4. And please, don't panic :)

As with any OS installation, there is some prep work needed
1. Prepare your partitions. We will start off with resizing our existing partition.I booted with my Linux Mint live cd and used gParted to resize my Linux partition and create a NTFS partition for windows7.

2. Download Widows7 beta iso and burn it onto a dvd.
3. Write down the activation key issued from the website on paper.
Great! We are ready.


1. Pop in your Windows7 DVD and restart your pc.
2. Go slow. Click on start installation.
3. Chose Custom installation and select the newly created partition as the location where you wish to install Windows7.
4. Grab your ipod and go for a walk.
5. Come back after 45mins, select basic settings like your language and timezone. Enter your beta key and your new OS is ready

Before you start jumping in joy, there is something we overlooked. You will observe that the windows bootloader seems to have replaced GRUB. It can smartly detect our XP and add into the boot list. But where is our Linux? Let's come back to it a bit later. There are still some challenges.

Your old drivers won't work. ATI stopped supporting my old gfx card years back. Same goes for intel. No more pro wireless 2100 drivers for Vista or above. My sound card Connexant AC97 also has no compatible soundcard drivers after XP. Here are a couple of things, you could do.
1. Install your old driver packages using compatibility mode.

2. Check Windows Updates if the drivers are available.
3.Google for newer drivers or solutions from folks with similar issues.
4.Manually install your old drivers from the "Device Manager" console.
Right Click on an unknown device, select "Update Driver Software" and choose "Browse my Computer.." to browse to the location of the extracted driver.

5. If all this doesn't help, get a new rig mate, or live without the unrecognized hardware.

Getting our GRUB back:
We have all the time in the world to play with our spanking new Win7 but let us fix our grub first and come back later. For this, load your favorite live bootable cd and open the terminal. Type the following commands to fix grub.

$ sudo grub

grub> find /boot/grub/stage1

grub> root (hd0,0)

grub> setup (hd0,0)
Checking if "/boot/grub/stage1" exists... yes
Checking if "/boot/grub/stage2" exists... yes
Checking if "/boot/grub/e2fs_stage1_5" exists... yes
Running "embed /boot/grub/e2fs_stage1_5 (hd0,0)"... failed (this is not fatal)
Running "embed /boot/grub/e2fs_stage1_5 (hd0,0)"... failed (this is not fatal)
Running "install /boot/grub/stage1 (hd0,0) /boot/grub/stage2 p /boot/grub/menu
.lst "... succeeded

grub> quit

Now restart your pc and wait for grub to load. You would see your old grub boot screen with a line for WinXP. Select it and voila, you are taken to the familiar Windows7 boot manager. This was a big surprise to me as well :). If this doesn't work, edit grub and add an entry pointing to Windows7.

Boot into your installed linux instance and edit grub.lst
$ sudo gedit boot/grub/menu.lst

Add the following lines at the end

# on /dev/sda4
title windows 7 beta (Loader)
root (hd0,3)
chainloader +1

My windows 7 resides on /dev/sda4 hence it's (hd0, 3). Confirm this via fdisk or gparted.

Closing Remarks:
Yeah, we are done now. We now have 3  different OSs  co-existing beautifully on our old laptop.  It wasn't a smooth ride but we made it :) . Enjoy, experiment, benchmark and review the three great OSs and drop me comments on your experience. Thanks.

Connexant AC97 help

“How to” Dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 7 (Ubuntu installed first)

Ubuntu 8.10: Resolving Skype sound issues

It would be safe to say, Skype is the best bet for Voip calls on linux. I have almost given up on a gtalk linux client or a decent jingle client.
On a recent upgrade to Ubuntu Interpid (8.10), Skype 2.0 stopped working. Let us fix this issue and get back to our calls.

$ killall pulseaudio
$ sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install pulseaudio ubuntu-desktop

Great! Run skype and test if everything works.

HOWTO: PulseAudio Fixes & System-Wide Equalizer Support

Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSuse .. does it really matter?

I haven't written in a while. Mostly because life after university is pretty hectic, especially in this current environment where every company is cutting headcount and looking at expense reduction in all possible ways. Everyone is multi-tasking and wearing different hats.

Anyways, a more important and interesting reason being, it's the perfect time of the year to experiment and look around. It's a season of new releases. Be it Ubuntu with 8.10, or Fedora's 10th release, Mandriva's shiny 2009 edition or the upcoming betas of OpenSuse and Vector Linux.

As an end-user, it's not hard to see the amount of effort and polishing that has went into these releases. And trust me, it's well worth revisiting them as this year it changes a lot of preconceived notions.

1. Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)

At first glance, it looks exactly like Hardy (8.04), just a bit darker and browner. It has a more refined installation compared to it's predecessors but nothing groundbreaking, which is sometimes great. You don't change a winning formula. It continues to offer the most stable Linux experience to beginners and experts alike. Great community support, features that just work out of the box and some new improvements. Ubuntu looks as good as always. My only quirk is the default theme. C'mon guys, It's high time to give it a face lift. Hopefully the next release Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) addresses that and gives it a well deserved makeover.

2. Fedora 10
I started off with Red Hat years back. Resolving the package dependencies was always a big challenge but nevertheless exciting. I have since then moved onto Ubuntu and to be honest Synaptic (apt pakage manager) is probably the best pakage manager, closely matched by SUSE's Yast.

Fedora 10 blows you away from the start. It has a great installer as always, looks refreshing, has added tonnes of improvements in the networking front and with the inclusion of PackageKit (introduced in fedora9), looks like the perfect fedora desktop ever.

3. Mandriva 2009

Just one word "Gorgeous". I installed the KDE 4.1.2 version of mandriva and it is simply beautiful. The mandriva control center, the package manager and the network manager are simply great to use. Having said that, I did encounter a couple of issues. Mostly in its implementation of pulse audio and some minor KDE4 bugs. Another worrying concern is the supposedly declining community.
Overall it's a great distro for everyone. Hope it garners more ardent followers which it really deserves.

4. Vector Linux 6

It is still in beta2 as I write. I had a wonderful time with VL5.9 and found it to be the most optimized and resource effecient distro amongst all that we have mentioned so far in this post. It has a refreshingly new gui installer and some nice updates. I hope to revisit it again once the release candidate is out, later next year.

5. OpenSUSE11.1

Still in beta, the new SUSE looks really promising. It probably has the most well integrated KDE4 experience and it's inclusion of mono 2.0 is a big thumbs up. Other distros are planning to follow suit in upcoming releases.
One complaint I have always had with OpenSUSE is that it hogs a lot of memory. So if you own a old piece of hardware, the kind I do, better give it a miss.

Now the important question. So many really good choices. Which one to chose? One thing I learnt from trying so many distros in such a short period of time is that it's not hard to switch. We are so familiar with KDE4 or Gnome that most of us generally don't care about what's really under the hood. We have the same familiar Gimp, VLC, OpenOffice, Firefox etc across all the Linux flavors.
More often it's just a personal choice, a way to express our ideas and thoughts, and most importantly the desire to support and encourage the community and the open-source movement. So the next time when you try a new distro, whatever it be, feel proud of being a part of it. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to leave comments on your favorite distro and any strong likes or dislikes. Would love to hear from you all.

Google launches video chat, still no love shown for Linux

This morning when I read the news that google has finally launched audio and video chat, right from Gmail, I was really excited. Imagine a browser plugin that would finally bring gtalk audio to us, the Linux users.

Well, unfortunately it only works on Windows and Mac OS. They do have plans to accomodate other platforms soon. Well yeah, we buy that google! We have been frickin waiting for a native gtalk application for 4 years now. And yes, we are still waiting for Chrome. The greatest advocator of open source, but still no love shown for Linux. This is really sad. Hope things change soon.

KDE4: Resolving Dolphin crashes & the Krusaders to our rescue

Here is a common issue in KDE4. Everything seems to work fine, and suddenly poof, Dolphin fails to load. It crashes with signal 6 ((SIGABRT).

Here is a quick tip. The fastest way to resolve Dolphin crashes in KDE4 is to do a clean re-install of the Dolphin package from your package manager. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work, as even after reinstalling or upgrading the Dolphin package, the error remains unresolved.The reason is that the configuration files are not cleared when you re-install, so we need to remove them manually.
This is what you need to do.

1.Remove/Uninstall Dolphin from your package manager.
2.Locate all the Dolphin configuration files on your system, and rename or delete them.

$ locate dolphin

$ rm -rf /home/anoj/.kde4/share/apps/dolphin

$ mv /var/lib/mandriva/kde4-profiles/common/share/config/dolphinrc /var/lib/mandriva/kde4-profiles/common/share/config/dolphinrc!

3.Now install the Dolphin package again.
4.Restart your machine (this one is optional but recommended)

Great, Dolphin is back.

Now, if you still can't fix it, then let's see what alternatives we have..
I personally use this really great KDE file manager called Krusader

Do drop me a note, if you have any other recommendations for other alternative file managers.

KDE4: Resolving the "call to lnusertemp failed" issue after adding new user

A strange thing happened the other day. I was adding a guest user to my pc using Mandriva's KDE4 control panel. I created the guest user and tried logging in back to my primary account.

KDE threw an error message "call to lnusertemp failed {temporary directories full?} and crashed back to the login screen.

I immediately went to my terminal 1 (ctrl + Alt + F1), logged in as root and typed in

$ df -h
/dev/sda1 33G 5.3G 26G 18% /
/dev/sda2 19G 17G 2.9G 85% /media/hd

And I could see I had over 26 GB of free space left. I decided to check the permission of my home directory, just in case..

$ ls -sl /home
4 drwx--x--x 39 guest guest 4096 2008-10-03 00:35 anoj/
4 drwxr-xr-x 23 guest guest 4096 2008-10-03 00:16 guest -> anoj

Strangely, Kde seemed to have assigned ownership of my home to the guest user. I assigned the ownership back to my primary "anoj" user.

$ cd /home
$ chown -R anoj anoj

Deleted the symbolic link for the "guest" home directory and created a new directory "guest"

$ rm guest
$ mkdir guest
$ chown guest guest

And I tried logging in as "anoj" and Voila!, I was back in my familiar KDE environment.

Linux for Older PCs : From Ubuntu to Vector Linux

My linux journey began with Red Hat and Corel Linux, in the 90s. For a long time, I just couldn't convince my dad to install linux on his windows laptop, the only computer we had then. Then came the 21st century, with linux distros getting more user-friendly with easier and manual-free installations. I shifted from being a long time RedHat Fedora fanboy to an interim PCLinuxOS fan to finally an Ubuntu believer.

Finally after 2 long years, this week, I decided to move on a bit, and try something new. My PC is getting older and constantly struggles to carry the huge processing needs for the latest KDE4 or Gnome and the delicious compiz, which has now become an integral part of the entire Linux Experience.

This week, I tried Vector Linux, a slackware based distro, known to be fast and stable, ideal for older machines like mine and yet never compromising on the features. Read on, to see if it delivered what it promised.

Before we start, here is my PC configuration. It's an old Compax nx7010 business laptop with a Pentium M(Centrino) 1.6 Ghz processor, 1.5GB of Ram and a 64 MB ATI Radeon 9200 gfx card. It's pretty fancy for a 5 year old laptop, but it cost a bomb back then.

I downloaded the VL 5.9 Standard Edition iso from the Vector Linux Homepage and gave it a try.

1. Installation
VL has a decently friendly text-based installer. I found it easy at most times but the partition tool still needs some rework. If you are not comfortable using fdisk or similar text based partition utilities, I would suggest creating the swap and root partitions beforehand using gparted or something else, and just select them for installation. It is a lot easier this way.
The installation was really really fast, finished in less that 20 minutes. Lilo autodetects other OSs on your system and configures easily. VL also prompts you to configure xorg and suggests drivers for your card. In my case, fglrx doesn't work for older ATI cards (pre Radeon 9550), so I selected the opensource radeon drivers. You can also configure your network settings. The system reboots to boot into your new VL environment.

2.Interface, design and usability
VL uses Xfce as it's default desktop/window manager. It also comes with jvm, fluxbox and other light alternatives. The default Xfce environment looks really polished with Thunar being the default file manager.

It's nice to log in as Root for a change, though it is never recommended. On top of the standard xfce applications set, VL offers its own control center called VASM where you can configure - display, network, boot systems etc.

Another nice addition is the package manager GSLAPT, which looks like a skinnier half brother of synaptic but has everything you will ever need to install the extra packages.

Overall, for newbees it's a pretty friendly experience, and seasonal Xfce users will be delighted with the VASM and SLAPT.

2.Quirks, Pains and Woes
I am really tempted to recommend it to everyone, but no OS is perfect, including VL. Firstly, I wasn't really impressed with the partition tool in the installer. Secondly, newbees who select the wrong graphics driver will be left wondering why their Xorg crashes with "no screen found" each and every time they do "startx". Thirdly, the built in wifi configuration in VASM refused to obtain an IP address from my d-link router. VL comes with Wifi-Radar, which again gave the same message. I finally had to get Kdenetwork manager, just to get my wifi connected. Users from other distros - Ubuntu, Suse, Fedora etc. will definitely miss the extensive package support in Vector Linux, which currently has a limited package repository. There are some articles online, which talk about using Slackware packages directly on VL, which I still need to read. Overall some hits and some misses.

3. Final verdict
Once all the initial quirks are resolved (especially the xorg issue), VL is a really solid distro. It is fast as expected from Xfce.
For older machines, fluxbox is a really nice alternative. VL packs a wbar, a mac like dock on startup, which can be activated for Xfce with following command.

$ wbar -above-desk -pos bottom -isize 40 -nanim 5

The best way to really speed up things is by choosing a lower desktop resolution. It really works but would you wish to give up your crisp high resolution for a faded 16 bit low res? The choice is yours, speed vs looks. And yeah, forget compiz. The last one really hurt.. right? Enjoy your linux experience, and please do give VL a try. I am off to try Mandriva 2009 RC2, but I have a gut feeling, I will be back again to VL. Have a nice weekend folks!

Test Driving the new Thunderbird3 alpha2 (Shredder) on Linux

Feeling a little adventurous today? Want to get your hands dirty on something cool and really alpha. Here is something for you all.
The nice folks at mozilla spunoff Thunderbird into a separate project called Mozilla Messaging with a prime objective of developing Thunderbird3 (codenamed Shredder), the next generation open-source email/messaging client.

Some of the notable enhancements in Thunderbird 3 would be the integration of Lightening (a calendar extension), improved search and some configuration and user interface improvements.

A gentle warning, it is not meant for production environments. Let us start, shall we

1. Download the linux version of Shredder alpha2.

2. Extract the contents to a local folder (in my case Desktop).

3. Browse to the folder and Run the application by either from shell (as below) or by double clicking on a binary file called "thunderbird".

$ ~/Desktop/thunderbird/thunderbird

4. Thunderbird launches with a welcome screen, where you can configure your accounts (in my case, Gmail)

5. Like Thunderbird2, setting up Gmail accounts is a breeze. Enter your username and password, and you are done. Note: it sets up pop access.

6. You can specify all your account settings like before.

I wasn't expecting any new features as Shredder alpha2 is meant to test the transition to the latest gecko 1.9 engine, on which firefox3 is also based upon. Play around and if you do find bugs, report it back.
Well, that's it, happy alpha testing and keep supporting the mozilla foundation.

Testdriving Zimbra Desktop Mail for Linux

Ever since Yahoo acquired Zimbra, a lot of us were waiting for the next big thing in desktop emailing. Recently, Yahoo launched Zimbra desktop, an open source email client which aims to increase your productivity by integrating an email client, calendar, task list, contact manager and a briefcase, all in one slick and easy package.
It's time to see how well it fares with my current favorite - Thunderbird.

Let's get started, shall we. To start off, download the linux edition from the Zimbra website. Installation is really easy. Download it to some folder and run these from the terminal.
Note: Don't run the installer as root.

1. Set the permissions for the executable
$ sudo chmod u+x

2. Run the installer as a normal user
$ ./

Great, now you are all set to start using it.
One thing that you'll notice during installation is that Zimbra is based on Prism which we covered few months back. It's basically Mozilla's way of creating rich desktop like internet applications.

First thing I liked about this mail app was the seamless integration with Gmail, yahoo and Aol mail. The welcome screens asks you to setup your accounts. Gmail users need to turn on their IMAP service from their GMAIL settings before configuring it here.

Once you are done with it, you are greeted with this familiar interface that Yahoomail users have known to love ever since the Web 2.0 makeover. Drag and drops and heavy ajax stuff, with integrated contacts, calendars, to-do lists etc.

Now, the verdict. Zimbra Desktop is a really good start by Yahoo. Easy to use and the familiar interface will win loyal fans. Moreover, support for other POP and IMAP servers along with offline modes, makes it a really good email client.
But before it replaces my thunderbird, it has a long way to go. Firstly, I love the remote calendar sync with Google calendar (via lightening). Zimbra only supports local ics files.

Secondly, it is a memory hog. Installation file itself is around 48MB, and it takes up around 124MB on install. My CPU utilisation also saw occasional spikes while using the calendar or just setting up a new account. Considering the fact that it's just the first release, I'll give this a pass.

Thirdly, If you are not an active yahoomail user, like me, you might not appreciate the slick UI. Gmail labels are imported as folders! And, I really miss adding labels to filter rules.

Finally, it's a tad bit slower compared to a native email client. I had rather use orgoo for all my email aggregation needs.

Having said all that, my dream request that both thunderbird and Zimbra lack now are automatic contact sync with gmail and yahoo. Zimbra is planning to include yahoo calendar and contacts sync in the future versions. Till that happens, I am sticking to my good ol' thunderbird, waiting eagerly for Thunderbird 3.

KDE4: Installing and configuring Network Manager

K Desktop EnvironmentI am really frustrated by the recent wave of negative reviews for KDE4.1 rc1. I had really hoped to try it out but unfortunately being a ubuntu Gutsy user, the upgrade path is a little rocky.

Anyways, one major feature I missed badly was the network-manager for KDE which apparently was missing in the default KDE4 setup. Here, let me show you how to install and get the network manager running.

1. Fire up your terminal and install kmix and network-manager for kde via apt.
Note, the network-manager package is a kde3 release which still works well in KDE4.

$ apt-get install kmix-kde4
$ apt-get intall network-manager-kde

2.To run network-manager-kde, simply run this via terminal or using Alt + F2

$ knetworkmanager

3. To make sure kmix and knetworkmanager launch at startup, simply create a new Autorun file as follows (use your favorite text editor)

$ gedit ~/.kde4/Autostart/kmix

$ kwrite ~/.kde4/Autostart/kmix

4. Add these following lines into it and save the file.

kmix; dcop kmix kmix-mainwindow;#1 hide

5. Setup the required permissions

$ sudo chmod u+x ~/.kde4/Autostart/kmix

6. Great you are done now. knetworkmanager should appear in your taskbar on startup.

Opera 9.5 For Linux : Hits n Misses

I have always been a great fan of Opera. Ever since its first version, Opera has always been the dark horse in the browser wars. The first to introduce tabbed browsing, integrated e-mail and IRC client, customizable themes, the quick content toggle buttons etc., Opera led the innovation race but failed to garner market share.

Opera has released v9.5 of it's desktop browser with a host of new features aimed at faster browsing speeds, better synchronization and rendering of modern standards.Here we discuss installation, setup and the great and not-so-great features of the linux version of this release.

Installing it is a breeze. autodetects the distro. If not, select your distro and download the installation file. For ubuntu/debian users, deb files are available. RedHat/Fedora users can get the rpms.

Double clicking on the debs in ubuntu would start GDebi that will start the installation process. Same works for other distros as well with their own package managers.

If you love the terminal, simply do this (Ubuntu)

$ sudo gdebi opera_9.50.etch-qt3_i386.deb

Great! Once you are done, let us try the new Opera9.5.

The interface has got a nice makeover with all the regular bells and whistles which opera users have already come to know and love. It's touted as twice as fast compared to it's previous release v9.2. It also sports Opera Link, offering integrated synchronization of bookmarks and other notes between multiple machines, as well as between the desktop version of the browser and Opera Mini, the edition scaled for mobile phones.
Here are the list of features in the current release.

Now for the big question, is it worth moving over to Opera from firefox?
Opera is definitely fast with the only browser coming close to it's speed being the new firefox 3.0 rc2. There is still no substitute in firefox for the image toggle buttons. They are a life saver when you have a slow bandwidth connection as you can skip loading heavy images.

Opera loses out when it comes to rendering complex websites. Blogger for instance, struggles in Opera. From the screenshot, it's clear some of the javascripts aren't compatible with opera.

Firefox has loads of useful addons which have become such an integral part of our browsing experience. Unfortunately, due to the lacklusture community support, the widgets and addons are still unpolished and underdeveloped. Firebug is something I really miss on Opera. Luckily Opera is working on Dragonfly,which will be the foundations of Opera's upcoming Developer Tools with an ability to debug JavaScript, inspect CSS and the DOM, and view any errors.

Bottomline is, Opera is still a really fast and light browser with some really innovative features. Its uncluttered and friendly interface will attract a lot of new users. In coming days, it will face some really stiff competition with firefox 3.0 which is optmised, faster and lighter than ever before. It's a tough path ahead but hopefully with a small but loyal community of opera enthusiasts, it will sail pass and make a mark for itself in this highly competitive browser segment.

Enjoy using Opera as I always have for the past so many years :)

Linux: Using your 3G/CDMA plug-and-play usb modems for mobile broadband

So you recently purchased a USB 3G/CDMA modem for that wireless, anytime anywhere mobile broadband.
Let's see how to use it on Linux.
Most of the linux distros will autodetect the modem. These steps were performed on Ubuntu Gutsy but should work on all flavors.

1. Fire you terminal and run wvdialconf. This should detect your modem and auto generate a config file.
$ sudo wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf

2. Open the config file and edit it
$ sudo gedit /etc/wvdial.conf

3. This is how it looks on my system. Add the phone no, username and password as provided by your isp.
[Dialer Defaults]
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Modem Type = USB Modem
Baud = 460800
New PPPD = yes
Modem = /dev/ttyACM0
ISDN = 0
Phone = <>
Password = <>
Username = <>
stupid mode = 1

You might also want to add stupid mode as it disables any prompts from the terminal server and starts pppd immediately after the modem connects.

4. Save the file. Now dial the modem and get connected.
$ wvdial

Great! You are good to go. Easy right! Enjoy surfing.

Getting started with Ruby on Rails development on Linux and the perfect IDE

Recently, I forayed into the cool world of RoR and my immediate question was, how to get started and which is the best IDE to start my RoR journey with. I found loads of options and I have decided to list them here for the benefit of others, who face the same problem. I will also detail the installation of the IDE that I am currently using, which I feel is the easiest for newbies to start with.

Installing RoR is downright easy. You first need.. Ruby, which comes readily built in with most of the linux distros. After that you need to get the Rails package which can be either be downloaded from the Ruby on Rails website or from your favorite package manager - apt, Synaptic, yum etc. Just search for Ruby and Rails, and install all the packages.For instance,

$ sudo apt-get install ruby
$ sudo apt-get install rails

Great! Once you have the packages installed, you can set up your first project as follows
$ rails myTestApp

To get your server running to test your stuff, simply run WEBrick server as follows
$ cd myTestApp
$ ./script/server

Great, with the RoR environment set up, you can browse the loads of resource available online to start developing in this framework. There are some really cool screencasts at the RoR website to get you started.

Now the next big question. Which is the best IDE to use?
All the screencasts, tutorials and books I have read, use textmate as their primary editor. Textmate is only available for Mac OS but there are some nice alternatives for Linux.

1. Vi:
Biodegradable Geek has a really nice post about Rails.Vim, a Rails plugin for Vim. I am not a huge fan of Vi but I know a whole lot of folks are.

2. Gedit:
With some nice 3rd party plugins, Gedit can be used as a really powerful editor for Rails. Read here for Textmate-like Gedit in few steps.

3.Aptana/Eclipse with RadRails:
RadRails is an open source IDE for the Ruby on Rails framework that runs on top of eclipse. Easily the most powerful IDE available for Rails development on Linux but it can be a resource hog at times and not recommended for the casual developers.

4. NetBeans IDE 6.1:
The latest version boasts of a really neat integration of RoR. Like eclipse, it does take up a lot of memory resource.

5. Kate:
My favorite editor by far when it comes to C/C++/Java development back in days when I had programming projects in the varsity. I really like the way the console is integrated into Kate.Kate supports syntax highlighting for ruby, rhtml etc.

6. Other Notable mentions:
JEdit, SciTe, FreeRide, NEdit and Bluefish. Click here for the full list

7. My Pick! - Komodo Edit:
Komodo edit is an open source code editor based on the commercial Komodo IDE. It's an excellent alternative for Textmate and includes the project drawer, and (some) auto completion.
As promised, let's see how to get it installed on linux.

1. Download Komodo Edit from the ActiveState website.

2. Extract the package
$ tar xvf Komodo-Edit-4.3.2-1263-linux-libcpp6-x86.tar.gz

3.Install Komodo Edit ( I installed it in /usr/local)
$ cd Komodo-Edit-4.3.2-1263-linux-libcpp6-x86/
$ sudo ./

4. Create a soft link in /usr/local/bin
$ sudo ln -s "/usr/local/Komodo/bin/komodo" /usr/local/bin/komodo

5. Finally, run Komodo
$ komodo

Well, there are plenty of choices available but the selection of the best IDE rests at the user's familiarity and preference to a certain environment. Hope this article helps you get started with RoR development on Linux. Have fun coding!!

Linux: Watching Streaming channels via TVAnts

TVants is a P2PTV application entirely written and designed by Zhejiang University. With the increasing popularity of P2P tv, more and more broadcasters are cracking down on illegitimate public broadcasts of their channels. If one fine day, you find your favorite channel listed off from sopcast, do give Tv Ants a try. It might have it showing up somewhere in its obscure channel list. Unlike sopcast, TV Ants, still doesn't have a working stable Linux application. Let's see how we can get the TV ants goodness on linux.

1. Download TVAnts win32 executable from here.
2. Fire up terminal and install it via wine.
$ wine TvantsSetup.EXE

3. Change to the installed directory (generally in: ~/.wine/drive_c/ path) and launch TVants
$ wine Tvants.exe

4. Search for your channel in the listings and click to play it. A notification pops out "Failed to open channel http://localhost:16900/1.asf". Note down the channel url and Click yes to continue.

5. Now open this url either in your VLC or mplayer. From command line, mplayer or vlc can be run as
$ mplayer http://localhost:16900/1.asf

$ vlc http://localhost:16900/1.asf

6. Enjoy watching the channel!

Linux: Silverlighting your web experience with Project Moonlight

Silverlight is Microsoft's foray into building interactive Rich Internet Applications. Microsoft has been pushing hard at getting the developer community, adopt this new framework but faces stiff competition from Adobe Flash and Flex which have a huge developer base.

Having said that, the Silverlight website showcases some amazing applications that are powered by this new framework. Analysts believe a new mobile version will be out soon which will make it a stronger competitor to the existing Flash Lite framework.

Microsoft has released browser plugins for Windows and OS X but it's not a surprise that Linux was left out, as usual. Here’s where Moonlight comes in for the Linux world..

Building on the Mono Project’s Linux implementation of the dot Net framework, Moonlight aims to provide both a Linux SDK to build Silverlight apps and a stand-alone Silverlight runtime.

To get started, firefox plugins for Silverlight are available at the Moonlight page. Firefox3 support is available in their experimental builds.

I tested it with some popular pages with mixed results. My favorite app is Microsoft Popfly, especially the mashup tool. Unfortunately, it crashes quite often and understandably, it's one of the more complex implementations of Silverlight around.

Bugs apart, it's definitely a praisable attempt to make an open source implementation of Silverlight and I hope in coming times, we'll see a more enriching and exciting Silverlight experience, right here on Linux.

Linux: Great GUI tools for MySQL

MySQL is definitely one of the leading opensource database projects around and mainstream companies like google and yahoo have successfully incorporated MySQL into their highly powerful and scalable server platforms. LAMP stacks are increasingly becoming popular and MySQL is a great tool for beginners and students to learn databases. As much as developers and server admins love their SQL, it always helps in having GUI tools to make the process more efficient, faster and simplified.

There is a misconception that free tools for this purpose aren't available for Linux. Here I'll describe 3 tools to make our lives easier.
1. MySQL Administrator/Query Browser

MySQL Administrator is a powerful visual administration console from the MySQL folks that enables users to easily administer their MySQL environment and gain significantly better visibility into how their databases are operating. It integrates database management and maintenance into a single, seamless environment, with a clear and intuitive graphical user interface. With tonnes of options to administer, monitor, troubleshoot and replicate, it's a must have for all MySQL database admins.

MySQL Query Browser is an easy to use visual tool for creating, executing, and optimizing SQL queries for your MySQL Database Server. The MySQL Query Browser gives you a complete set of drag-and-drop tools to visually build, analyze and manage your queries.

Both of the above mentioned tools are available in all repositories. Fire your yumex or synaptics to find and install the packages. It's also available at the MySQL website. Download it from here.

2. Navicat for MySQL

Navicat MySQL is a popular MySQL GUI tool for windows. It is a paid software but boasts of 100s of features in it's latest release. As we are just covering free tools, A lite version is available for non commercial use here.

It seems that the folks at Navicat didn't want to spend their time developing a native application for linux. Hence, the package is pre comipled with wine.
It still works great.

No need to install the package. Just download and extract package, and run the start_navicat binary.

$ ./start_navicat

3. SQLyog MySQL GUI - Community Edition

SQLyog community edition, is a stripped down but really nice and open source version of the SQLyog enterprise edition. According to softpedia, there is a native linux version of the software, but it directs to an invalid link.The windows binary can be downloaded from here.

The version installs easily via wine and looks pretty stable. It is probably the easiest of the all 3 tools discussed here and I really like the way relationships are managed in SQLyog.

Download the windows binary and install it via terminal:
$ wine SQLyog654.exe

The official MySQL Gui tools are really good but not as feature rich as the latter two. With a unified interface to manage and monitor the MySQL environment, the choice of which to use is left completely to the end user. One thing to note, the free editions do lack some features. So if you really liked them, do support the project and buy their enterprise editions.
Enjoy your MySQL experience!