Thursday, December 31, 2009

VLMC- VideoLAN Movie Creator- Coming soon!


This just in! The VideoLAN organization, makers of VLC, have decided to throw their hat into the video editing ring, and plan on releasing a cross-platform (Mac, Linux, Windows) video editor called VLMC, or VideoLAN Movie Creator. The project is still in its early stages, but if you're a developer-type, and you wanted to access the current working tree, you can fetch the current working tree with Git:

git clone git://github.com/VLMC/vlmc.git

Despite its early status, I will be playing close attention to this project, given the quality of VLC.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Linux Journal Article: KDE4 Custom Slide-show Wallpapers

Recently, LinuxJournal.com published the fourth (and most likely last) article explaining the creation of transitioning (slide-show) backgrounds in KDE4. The article series now covers GNOME, XFCE, KDE3, and KDE4. This marks the seventh article that I've written for linuxjournal.com.

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Linux Journal Article: XFCE Slide Show backgrounds

Hello again!

I've been published again on Linux Journal's website. The article is about creating transitioning backgrounds in XFCE. XFCE was relatively easy to configure, but my hacks to add functionality were a little temperamental. This marks the third article I've written about the slide show backgrounds in Linux. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Muppets create youtube channel- over 13 million views in first month!

The internet, at its best, is a true meritocracy. Something that is of high quality will naturally rise to the top if given the opportunity to do so.

Enter the Muppets.

In mid-November, the Muppet Studio rolled out their own youtube channel. In less than a month, it has already received over 50 thousand subscribers and 13 million views.

Here is an example of the muppets videos that have recently gone viral:


Congrats, Muppets Studio. It's good to see you again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Linux Journal Article: Slide Show backgrounds in KDE3


In response to the article that I posted on linuxjournal.com about transitioning GNOME wallpapers, the web editor suggested that I show people how to create desktop background slide shows in other desktop environments, as well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Pandora Console is nearly here!


In anticipation of the upcoming OpenPandora console release, some videos of the OS and final case have recently been posted. I will share them with you.

OS Snippet #1:



OS Snippet #2:



OS Snippet #3:



Here is one of the first assembled Pandora consoles:



Multiple Pandoras in action, at a variety of different tasks:



EvilDragon's Pandora Prototype:



N64/Analog "nubs" demo:



D-Pad demo with Picodrive:



These are very exciting developments. I am among the people who pre-ordered this console, and I have been waiting patiently for it to arrive. Good things come to those who wait. I look forward to getting my Pandora console in the near future!
Visit Pandora Press for more Pandora Console info from the unofficial blog.
The official Pandora Console page is located here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Linux Journal Article: Custom Transitioning Wallpaper backgrounds in Gnome

I was recently published on Linux Journal about creating a slideshow that runs as a background in the Gnome desktop environment.

For those of you that learn more with videos, I was able to find a video of someone manually editing the XML and creating a custom slideshow background.



Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Intel announces 48 core CPU! Dubbed "Single-chip Cloud Computing".


Intel recently announced a 48 core processor, dubbing it "Single-chip Cloud Computing". We are reaching the point where our children will look at us and ask "Back in the olden days, did you really have to use a computer with only one computing core? It must have been so slow!"

Here are some videos that explain the technology:








Note in the first video (starting around 1:40), they mention the motherboard and operating system setup for testing a chip such as this:
"...We also developed a Linux operating system for this platform based on the full-featured standard Linux kernel where we applied the necessary changes for the specifics of this experimental platform..."
Score one for Intel, but give the assist to Linux.

Props to HotHardware for their excellent coverage of the news.
For more videos, check out Intel's YouTube channel.

Seeing the developments in Linux private cloud computing, such as Ubuntu's Enterprise Cloud and ParaScale's Cloud Storage Solutions, chips such as this one will help pave the way for task specific operating systems and appliances in addition to coding projects that will take advantage of the massively parallel power that these chips possess. We live in exciting times...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Virtualbox releases version 3.1!


Hello all!

Yesterday (Nov. 30th), Sun announced its first major update to VirtualBox 3 with the release of version 3.1. The major new features include:





  • Teleportation (aka live migration); migrate a live VM session from one host to another (see the manual for more information)
  • VM states can now be restored from arbitrary snapshots instead of only the last one, and new snapshots can be taken from other snapshots as well ("branched snapshots"; see the manual for more information)
  • 2D video acceleration for Windows guests; use the host video hardware for overlay stretching and color conversion (see the manual for more information)
  • More flexible storage attachments: CD/DVD drives can be attached to an arbitrary IDE controller, and there can be more than one such drive (the manual for more information)
  • The network attachment type can be changed while a VM is running
  • Complete rewrite of experimental USB support for OpenSolaris hosts making use of the latest USB enhancements in Solaris Nevada 124 and higher
  • Significant performance improvements for PAE and AMD64 guests (VT-x and AMD-V only; normal (non-nested) paging)
  • Experimental support for EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface; see the manual for more information)
  • Support for paravirtualized network adapters (virtio-net; see the manual for more information)
In addition to the major features, a slew of minor fixes have been included, such as fixes in the 3D support of guest OSes while playing games such as Unreal Tournament.

As always, see the Changelog and the user manual (in PDF or HTML) for all the details. I am incredibly impressed with the pace of VirtualBox's development. Every time I turn around, they add another cool feature.

Ars Technica has a review of version 3.1, as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Linux.com -- a community site for a community OS.


If you're reading this blog, you've probably heard of Linux before. What you may not be aware of is how the Linux Foundation and linux.com figure into the equation.

The Linux Foundation is a non-profit consortium decicated to fostering the growth of Linux. It was founded in 2007 in a merger of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG). More about the Linux Foundation can be found in the organization's about page. An item of note about the Linux Foundation is that they employ Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux.

In May of 2009, the Linux Foundation also relaunched linux.com as a community site for Linux users, having acquired it from Sourceforge Inc./Geeknet in early 2009. Their newly launched site is a site that I have enjoyed quite a bit since its launch. It contains a wide variety of Linux related news, as well as also containing a rather large community portion. Linux.com allows you to create your own groups, either pre-existing (such as NEWLUG) or brand new, (such as Pandora Console Fans). This offers Linux geeks an opportunity to gather and communicate in a central location.

For new users of Linux, there are quite a few positive aspects to linux.com. The site features a variety of newbie friendly resources, most of which are located in the Free Linux Support section of the website, such as tutorials, new user guides, answers, and documentation. It is nice to have all of this information in an easily accessible place.

I'm a member. Here is my user tag:


If you like linux.com as well, feel free to friend me, participate in groups, and comment on my community blog posts!

Monday, November 23, 2009

MiniTube, a way to get YouTube out of your browser

If you're a Linux user, you may be frustrated with the current Linux implementation of Flash, especially when it comes to viewing videos on YouTube. As I mentioned earlier, YouTube isn't just for reruns of He-Man, videos of Super Mario World speedruns, Harry Potter Puppet Pals, and the evolution of dance anymore. Unfortunately, YouTube videos (which use Flash) have some issues in Linux, especially if you are among the people who run dual screens under the same X server (I run Twinview with the proprietary Nvidia drivers).

Allow me to explain some of the current issues. In the interests of bandwidth, smaller thumbnails are shown, but larger res versions are available if you click on them.
Let's assume that you have found awesome blog or website on the Internet about Linux stuff with embedded YouTube videos, such as the Pandora Video Vault or, ahem, my blog.

Example number one:

You start the video, then attempt to maximize the video to see more. Sadly, instead of filling your whole screen, huge white bars above and below your video appear, and the video plays at the same resolution as before you maximized. Sometimes, the video gets smaller!

Example number two:
Your dual screen computer has Firefox open in its secondary display, and you try to maximize your window. Instead of maximizing in the current screen, it takes over the primary display. To add insult to injury, it still has the large white bands above and below the video.



Clicking on your Internet browser in the secondary display immediately causes the video to return to the embedded link in the page. The same thing happens if you click the primary window. You're pretty much stuck viewing the videos in the resolution in which they are initially presented.



Enter MiniTube, stage left.

MiniTube (currently at version 0.8.1)allows you to overcome some of these restrictions and annoyances.
MiniTube opens up as an application and allows you to easily make the videos full screen.
It's available for Linux and Mac OSX.
Since it doesn't use Flash, you may also see performance increases on hardware that doesn't play well with Flash.



Since MiniTube is a YouTube video viewer, I should probably include a youtube link to it. Unfortunately, the only link to a current video that I can find is in Italian from Paglia's Blog with a strange Matrix-esque soundtrack. It shows off Minitube well enough, though.



There are still some issues with MiniTube, though.
When watching full-screen videos on MiniTube, if you interact with a web browser window in the screen opposite the full-screen video, the menu panels will appear. Most of the time, this is fine, as the video is still large, and I am able to interact with the browser without having any of the aforementioned craziness occur.


Navigation in MiniTube is an issue. The only method that MiniTube appears to use for navigation is a small search window in the upper right hand corner. After entering a search term, you can search for the most relevant, most recent, or most viewed entries.
Finding a particular video that's already been embedded in a web page is not as straightforward as simply clicking it. You typically have to search MiniTube for the explanatory text shown in the embedded window, such as "Pandora mupen64plus" or "Stanford Programming Methodology". The search function does work quite well, but it's a little annoying to type something like "Stanford Programming Methodology" over and over again. On the main screen of MiniTube there is a search history, so you don't necessarily have to retype everything, but move navigating options would be nice.

MiniTube doesn't feature any graphical feedback on how the video is loading. One of the videos I watched started stuttering about halfway through. After pausing the video for about a minute and starting it again, it played just fine, but it would have been nice to know how much buffer remains before I get to the stuttering.

This next thing might be either positive or negative depending on what you prefer. MiniTube is designed to be a refactoring of YouTube into a more television-like experience. When you mouseover the full screen, nothing happens. This can be liberating if you are used to YouTube contstantly reminding you about the Escape key allowing you to leave full-screen mode, as well as displaying some rather annoying pop-ups. However, the only navigation you can do from full-screen is "Stop", "Play", "Skip", and "Exit Full Screen". Once you are back in the windowed MiniTube player, you can skip around in the video using the slider.

Conclusion:
Although MiniTube is not perfect, I will keep using it in order to avoid the full-screen shenanigans that happen with Flash. If Adobe gets their act together and release versions of Flash for Linux that don't suck, I may change that opinion.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Google Chrome OS released as open source

Some geeks were expecting big news about the release of Google's Chrome OS today, and it turns out that they're partially correct. Google did have a big announcement, but it wasn't the actual release of Chrome OS. The announcement is that the Google Chrome OS have been released as an open source project: the Google Chromium OS. Oh, and it's based on Linux. Google is preparing Chrome OS for its eventual public release in late 2010.
For those that aren't familiar with the Chrome OS project, here's a video explanation:

How, I hear you asking, "Chrome? Chromium? What's the difference?"
Basically, Chrome is made by Google. Google then takes the source code that was used to make Chrome, and releases it under the name Chromium, with slightly different artwork, but the same underlying technology. This allows everyone who wishes to look at the underlying technology to look at it, and develop new uses for it, such as a Linux or OSX version of the Chromium browser, or wider hardware support for the Chromium OS. Chrome and Chromium are the web browsers, with Chrome OS and Chromium OS being the OS projects that utilize the web browser as the basis for the operating system.

How will Chrome/Chromium look? Well, here's a video showing the current concept for the UI:

THAT is a sweet UI. I can't wait to see it in person.

Here's a video that explains the open source development process and how it relates to the Chromium OS project.

Want to see more videos? Go to the YouTube Google Chrome Channel!
If you're interested in helping develop this project, check out the Chromium Blog and sign up to receive updates from Google.
If you're interested in how this news was announced, OMG! UBUNTU! has a minute-by-minute account of the Nov. 19th Google press conference, as well as a paraphrasing of the Q&A session that was held afterwards.

Google Wave- first impressions...



I've been a Google Wave user for about a week or so (thanks for the invite, AJ!), and I'd like to share my first impressions of the innovative new tool.




Positives:
As far as collaborative communication is concerned, Google Wave really is impressive. We recently started a LUG (Linux Users Group) wave, and I think we've done more constructive communication on that wave in a couple days than we have done in the last six months on the mailing list.
Widgets are fun. I wish there were more of them.
Real time communication is a good feature.
Waves can be read across platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac, Handhelds. etc.)

Negatives:
Lag can be an issue, especially during real-time communication. Sometimes, clicking to reply (or clicking several times while waiting for the window to open) will cause multiple reply threads to open, which can be annoying to delete.
More widgets would be nice. I assume that that will increase over time.


I interacted with Wave on a Palm Pre emulator, and although I was able to load Wave and read waves, my ability to interact with those waves was less successful, since wave employs a fair bit of right clicking, holding and dragging in its interface, and I haven't quite figured out how to do those things in my Pre emulator.

Wave is a tool that I plan to continue using. It could be a tool that changes the way that people communicate, both in work and outside of it. The edges are still pretty rough, but I expect that Google will continue to polish it into a fine program.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Phoronix releases version 2.2 of Phoronix Test Suite!


Phoronix recently announced on their website that version 2.2 "Bardu" of the Phoronix Test Suite has been released. The official release contains quite a few fixes and new features, as the changelog shows. The PTS Live DVD release based on Phoronix Test Suite version 2.2 is expected in December of this year.
The benchmarking suite is currently available for the Linux, OpenSolaris, BSD, and Mac OS X platforms.
The downloads page is located here.
Happy Benchmarking, everyone!

EDIT:: I've been having issues running the GUI for the Phoronix Test Suite. The error message that I get in the command line after running "phoronix-test-suite gui" is :
Class 'GtkWindow' not found in /usr/share/phoronix-test-suite/pts-core/objects/gtk/pts_gtk_window.php on line 23
Apparently it's an issue with the lack of a compiled PHP GTK package ( or at least the forum posts say so.)
Command line running of PTS 2.2 should still work just fine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quantz- an innovative new puzzle game.

As some of you may know, I'm a big fan of puzzle games, and recently I became aware of a new title that's currently in beta testing on the Linux platform. It's a puzzle game called Quantz, and it's made by a Quebec, Canada-based company called Gamerizon. It's a multiplatform game, available for Mac, Windows, as well as a Linux beta. The game is also available on Steam. The Linux version was announced on Reddit recently, and they have provided .deb, .rpm, and tar.gz files for Linux gamers to install and test.
A video of the gameplay is shown below:



I downloaded and installed the .deb file, as I am currently running Ubuntu 9.10. The file installed without any issues using the GDebi Package Manager.

My current setup includes a dual-core machine with a GeForce 7600GT video card, running two 19 inch LCDs in TwinView mode at a resolution of 2560 x 1024. This setup is a good test for any game, as games don't always play nice with this resolution, or other running programs. Upon my first run of the program, I had the Hulu Desktop client running in fullscreen mode on my second monitor, and Firefox was fullscreen on the main monitor . I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game started up by maximizing in the main screen, but leaving the Hulu Desktop application running. I've included some screenshots of Quantz and Hulu running fullscreen at the same time below. Quantz is on the left, and Hulu Desktop Client (running the "One Piece" anime) is on the right. Click for larger versions of the images.










I heartily recommend trying the game. It's a three dimensional puzzle game with intuitive controls and enjoyable play.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Hard Drive utility in Ubuntu 9.10 - Palimpsest

One of my machines surprised me when I tossed in my Ubuntu 9.10 Live CD recently. After I chose to run the live environment before installing, Ubuntu decided to give me a notification that I hadn't seen before:

It appears that Ubuntu 9.10 has integrated SMART hard drive monitoring into its notifications. I decided to click the icon for more information, since that's what the window told me to do.
At first, the mouseover told me a little info:

Then, clicking the icon gave me more detail:

BAD SECTORS? Oh no! I clicked the message to find out more. It apparently brings up a utility called "Palimpest Disk Utility":

In addition to showing the drives in my system, it also allows me to test the drives via GUI tools:

I don't remember the last time I was happy to see a failing hard drive! Maybe this tool will make it cool to find a hard drive with bad sectors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Installing WebOS SDK in Ubuntu 9.10

Installing WebOS SDK in Ubuntu 9.10:

----------------------
EDIT (03/22/10): Make sure that you go to the updated WebOS installation page and get updated versions of the WebOS SDK and novacom packages before using the statically linked packages listed in this article. They are no longer up to date.
----------------------

It appears that the Palm Pre WebOS SDK/Emulator no longer installs properly in Ubuntu 9.10, though it worked fine in Ubuntu 9.04.
I attempted to follow my own WebOS HOWTO from Linux Journal, but I ran into some issues.
After installing the two current SDK packages and typing palm-emulator, I was met with the following error message:

For those that can't read the image, it says:
"Novacom Not Running
In order to install or debug applications in the Palm Emulator, the novacom service must be running on your desktop. Please verify that you have the latest Palm SDK installed correctly."

As I had just finished installing both the novacom (palm-novacom_0.3-svn196852-hud21_i386.deb) and the WebOS SDK (palm-sdk_1.2.0-svn202408-sdk77-pho33_i386.deb) packages, I was a little discouraged by this message. I know that I need the novacomd daemon running, but apparently I wasn't successful in getting it going. I checked the Palm SDK install page, but was unable to get novacomd up and running given their suggestions. When I tried sudo stop palm-novacom and sudo start palm-novacom
I got the error message:
start: Unknown job: palm-novacom
I figured that novacom must not have been installed in my $PATH.

I logged out and logged back in, just in case the novacomd daemon was already configured to start at boot and was simply waiting for me to reboot. No luck. It was here that I stumbled upon the problem. The release notes for Ubuntu 9.10 indicate:

/etc/event.d no longer used

The version of upstart included in Ubuntu 9.10 no longer uses the configuration files in the /etc/event.d directory, looking to /etc/init instead. No automatic migration of changes to /etc/event.d is possible. If you have modified any settings in this directory, you will need to reapply them to /etc/init in the new configuration format by hand. (402759)
I then looked in /etc/event.d on my system, and what did I find? Well, I found the palm-novacomd upstart file! That explains why novacomd isn't starting at boot like it did for Ubuntu 9.04!
If you want to start it up without having to reboot, you can manually start novacomd by typing:
sudo /opt/Palm/novacom/novacomd
and then starting palm-emulator in a different terminal. A screenshot of the Palm WebOS emulator is below (the output of novacomd is listed in the terminal behind the emulator):


Photobucket

EDIT:
I figured out a way to get novacomd going at startup with minimal fuss.
  • Go to System --> Preferences --> Startup Applications
  • Choose to add a new application.

  • Enter /opt/Palm/novacom/novacomd-upstart as the command.
  • Fill in an appropriate name and comment.
  • Save the startup program.
  • Log out, and log back in.
novacomd should now be running, and you can start the palm-emulator command without any of the extra fuss that I mentioned above.

Dual Screens on Ubuntu 9.10 with nvidia-settings


As you may already know, Ubuntu 9.10 was released on Thursday, October 29th. it has been a very exciting experience! The release notes have been very helpful in helping me get things working again, but I have run into a couple issues. As I find fixes, I will post them here.

Dual Monitor Configuration using nvidia-settings :


After installing the nvidia binary drivers for my XFX Fatal1ty 7600GT Video card, I was easily able to configure Twinview and extend my desktop across two LCD monitors at a resolution of 2560 x 1024. However, when I attempted to save the settings to the X configuration file using the "Save to X Configuration File" button, the program crashed. Although the settings for my dual screen monitors continued to work, the settings were reset back to a single monitor upon my next login.
I first tried running sudo nvidia-settings from the command line to see if it was a permissions issue. it wasn't. Fortunately, Google was my friend, and pointed me to an old Ubuntu bug report that suggested the solution that worked for me.
I simply had to run sudo nvidia-xconfig first, then run sudo nvidia-settings from the command line. Typing the commands in this order allowed me to save the configuration file without crashing, and now I am able to enjoy my dual screens. It appears that this issue was caused by problems with the permissions and locations of X configuration files in the default install.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

LinuxCon videos and slides now available!

If you were unable to attend the first annual LinuxCon, but were excited about the subject matter, you're in luck. The Linux Foundation has released video and slides from some the LinuxCon presentations on their website.
To give you a sample of the content that is archived, here is a video of Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical and founder of the Ubuntu OS talking about coordinated software releases and the Linux ecosystem.




For the more technically oriented, The Linux Plumbers Conference video has also been uploaded, as well. Below is a video of Linus Torvalds giving an in depth tutorial on Git.


Additional video archives (synched with slides) are also available from Linux Pro Magazine. Some of these additional archives have additional fees.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Linux Journal article- Android OS and Palm Pre WebOS virtualization


Today, I was published on the Linux Journal website with an exclusive (two part) Tech Tip. The first Tech Tip describes how to get Google's Android OS easily running as a virtual appliance. The second Tech Tip will focus on getting Palm's WebOS running, which you may find out to be easier than you think. Part two is now out, as well. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hulu announces Linux client!


This just in, folks! Hulu released a Linux desktop client with 32 and 64 bit packages for Ubuntu and Fedora. I had it downloaded, installed, and running in less than five minutes, and I encourage other Linux users to do the same!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

VirtualBox 3.0.8 released!


Another maintenance release of VirtualBox (3.0.8) was released!
The changelog is below:
  • VMM: fixed 64 bits guest on 32 bits host regression in 3.0.6 (VT-x only; bug fixed in ... (closed)">#4947)
  • VMM: fixed a recompiler triple fault guru meditation (VT-x & AMD-V only; bug fixed in ... (reopened)">#5058)
  • VMM: fixed hang after guest state restore (AMD-V, 32 bits Windows guest and IO-APIC enabled only; bug fixed in ... (closed)">#5059)
  • VMM: fixed paging issue with OS/2 guests
  • VMM: fixed guru meditation in rare cases (2.0 regression; software virtualization only)
  • VMM: fixed release assertion during state restore when using the Sound Blaster 16 emulation (bug Fixed in ... (closed)">#5042)
  • Security: fixed vulnerability that allowed to execute commands with root privileges
  • Linux hosts: fixed runtime assertion in semaphore implementation which was triggered under certain conditions (bug Fixed in SVN/3.0.6 (closed)">#616)
  • Linux hosts: change the default USB access mode on certain distributions (bugs #3394#4291) and
  • Linux hosts: on hardened Gentoo, the VBoxSVC daemon crashed by opening the VM network settings (bug fixed in ... (closed)">#3732)
  • Linux hosts, Solaris hosts: pass the XAUTHORITY variable along the DISPLAY variable when starting a VM from VBoxManage or from the VM selector (bug #5063)
  • Linux hosts: use sysfs to enumerate host drives if hal is not available
  • Solaris hosts: fixed a bug which would hang the host sporadically as interrupts were not re-enabled everytime
  • Solaris hosts: fixed a kernel panic with bridged and host-only networking (bug #4775)
  • Solaris hosts: fixed incorrectly persistent CD/DVD-ROMs when changing them (bug #5077)
  • X11-based hosts: support additional function keys on Sun keyboards (bug ... (closed)">#4907)
  • Mac OS X hosts (Snow Leopard): fixed problem starting headless VMs without a graphical session (bug fixed in ... (closed)">#5002)
  • Mac OS X hosts: fixed problem listing host-only adapter names with trailing garbage (attached VMs won't start)
  • Windows Additions: now work with Vista 64-bit Home editions (bug #3865)
  • Windows Additions: fixed screen corruption with ZoomText Magnifier
  • Windows Additions: fixed NPGetUniversalName failure (bug Fixed in ... (closed)">#4853)
  • Windows Additions: fixed Windows NT regression (bug Fixed ... (closed)">#4946)
  • Windows Additions: fixed VBoxService not running if no Shared Folders are installed
  • Linux Additions: implemented ftrunctate (bug Fixed in ... (closed)">#4771)
  • VRDP: start VM even if configured VRDP port is in use
  • Networking: the PCnet network device stopped receiving under rare conditions (bug Fixed in SVN/3.0.8 (closed)">#4870)
  • VBoxManage: implemented controlvm vrdpport command
  • iSCSI: fixed issue with NetApp targets ( fixed in SVN/3.0.8 (closed)">#5072)
  • SCSI: add support for virtual disks larger than 2TB
  • USB: fixed potential crash when unplugging USB2 devices (bug Fixed in SVN/3.0.8 (closed)">#5089)
  • NAT: IPSEC did not properly work with Linux guests (bug fixed in ... (closed)">#4801)
The most interesting feature to me appears to be the implementation of the "VBoxManage controlvm vrdpport" command, offering another way to configure VirtualBox's internal RDP server for virtual appliances over the Remote DeskTop (RDP) protocol.

Linux-based Android phones coming to Verizon.

Android Wallpaper

Recently, Google and Verizon announced a landmark partnership to bring several Linux-based Android phones to the Verizon network, a great network that has seriously been lacking in high tech phones unlike T-Mobile (Android), Sprint (Palm Pre), and AT&T (iPhone), who have had high tech phones to peddle to their customers for quite some time.

Rumors contend that the first two devices will most likely be from HTC and/or Motorola. The current rumored list of upcoming Verizon phones includes the Motorola Sholes, HTC Desire, HTC Passion, and HTC Predator.

This is good news for Verizon customers, as it signals a movement in the direction of more 'open' phones, as opposed to previous policies that had been considered somewhat totalitarian. They are also promising "innovative applications" (Google Voice, perhaps?).

I will be watching these developments with interest as the phones are officially announced.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Phoronix benchmarks Ubuntu 9.10 vs. FreeBSD 8

Phoronix released some benchmarks of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.10, the Karmic Koala. The benchmarks compare it to FreeBSD 8. The Phoronix Testing Suite was used to develop the benchmarks. Although the official release date of Ubuntu 9.10 will not be until October 29th, these benchmarks show that the new version should be speedy and fun to use!

Warning! The Phoronix benchmark article is n i n e p a g e s long, so don't go to it if you aren't in the mood for clicking through ads to get to the article.

Friendly reminders about security

Remember this: "The fact that your rig runs Linux does not mean you're home free."
(quote source: Peter Hansteen, Norway)

Recently, the "That Grumpy BSD Guy" blog posted an article concerning the third wave of slow, low intensity distributed brute force attacks on Linux machines that is currently occurring across the world. The number of machines affected is relatively small- about 775, but the reason that it is working on these Linux machines is not necessarily the insecurity of Linux. The attacks are working only on machines that have Administrators with very poor security practices. As the original article states:

Most likely the perpetrators keep going because they occasionally succeed, and when they do, it's because every now and then they luck on a Linux machine with either

  • a maintenance regime that's disorganized enough that software with known and exploitable bugs is left in place for long enough to open the doors to undesirables, or

  • at least one user (whoever is manning root or any of the other user IDs we know they will be sniffing out later) with a guessable password and a system administration regime that lets weak passwords exist in the first place.

This post serves as a friendly, sobering reminder that although Linux is a wonderful, secure operating system, user and administrator carelessness can get you in trouble, regardless of what operating system you run.

Another example of good security circumvented by negligent user activity is when you see a shiny new Mercedes Benz, equipped with one of the best manufacturer security systems in the business (it includes internal motion sensors and towing sensors, among other features), sitting in the grocery store parking lot with the keys in the ignition and running while the owner shops for groceries because the grocery shopper doesn't want to wait for the car to warm up or cool off when they get back into the car.

How do we avoid being at risk?

  • Use good password security.
  • Keep your machines updated with security updates on a timely basis.
  • Disable unneccessary network services.
  • Be aware of current security issues, and respond accordingly.

This stuff isn't rocket science, people. Neither is good oral hygiene, though, and dentists have been struggling to teach that for years.

A list of the affected machines from the attack is available here. If one or more of these machines is yours, please (re-)secure them.

Slashdot has some informative user comments in response to this article, as well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A stick figure guide to AES!

If you've ever been interested in cryptography, this blog post by Jeff Moser is right up your alley. It explains the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) using a series of stick figure drawings!
It is informative and funny at the same time! Be warned, it goes pretty heavy into the mathematics as the slides go on. I've included a slide here to show you what it looks like:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

VirtualBox TV!

A neat item that I stumbled upon while reading about the most recent VirtualBox maintenance update is that the VirtualBox wiki page now contains some sweet little video tutorials that are called VirtualBox TV (or, alternatively, The Fat Bloke's Shorts). A variety of videos are available, and I will include one of them in this post. It involves enabling 3D acceleration in an Ubuntu guest session.



There are also links to live product webinars which are longer, but filled with good information.
I'm embedding the most recent webinar from August of 2009 discussing new features from the 3.0 release.

VirtualBox 3.0.6 released!

Hooray! A new version of VirtualBox is out! Version 3.0.6

The changelog is listed here:
  • VMM: fixed IO-APIC overhead for 32 bits Windows NT, 2000, XP and 2003 guests (AMD-V only; bug #4392)
  • VMM: fixed a Guru meditation under certain circumstances when enabling a disabled device (bug Fixed in ... (closed)">#4510)
  • VMM: fixed a Guru meditation when booting certain Arch Linux guests (software virtualization only; bug VM assertion (pVM->patm.s.pGCStateHC->fPIF == 1) -> fixed in ... (closed)">#2149)
  • VMM: fixed hangs with 64 bits Solaris & OpenSolaris guests (bug #2258)
  • VMM: fixed decreasing rdtsc values (AMD-V & VT-x only; bug fixed in SVN/3.0.6 (closed)">#2869)
  • VMM: small Solaris/OpenSolaris performance improvements (VT-x only)
  • VMM: cpuid change to correct reported virtual CPU id in Linux
  • VMM: NetBSD 5.0.1 CD hangs during boot (VT-x only; bug Fixed in SVN/3.0.6 (closed)">#3947)
  • Solaris hosts: worked around an issue that caused the host to hang (bug #4486)
  • Solaris hosts: fixed a rare host system deadlock when using bridged networking
  • Solaris hosts: fixed a potential host system deadlock when CPUs were onlined or offlined
  • Solaris hosts installer: added missing dependency for UTF-8 package (bug fixed in SVN (closed)">#4899)
  • Linux hosts: don't crash on Linux PAE kernels < class="closed ticket" href="http://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/1842" title="" vm =""> Fixed in ... (closed)">#1842)
  • Linux/Solaris hosts: correctly detect keyboards with fewer keys than usual (bug fixed in SVN (closed)">#4799)
  • Mac OS X hosts: prevent password dialogs in 32 bits Snow Leopard
  • Python WS: fixed issue with certain enumerations constants having wrong values in Python webservices bindings
  • Python API: several threading and platform issues fixed
  • Python shell: added exportVM command
  • Python shell: various improvements and bugfixes
  • Python shell: corrected detection of home directory in remote case
  • OVF: fixed XML comment handling that could lead to parser errors
  • Main: fixed a rare parsing problem with port numbers of USB device filters in machine settings XML
  • Main: restrict guest RAM size to 1.5 GB (32 bits Windows hosts only)
  • Main: fixed possible hang during guest reboot (bug Fixed in SVN/3.0.6 (reopened)">#3792)
  • GUI: fixed rare crash when removing the last disk from the media manager (bug Fixed in SVN/3.0.6 (closed)">#4795)
  • VBoxManage: fixed guestproperty for Mac OS X hosts (bug Fixed in SVN (closed)">#3806)
  • VBoxManage: fixed setting guest properties with --flags or -flags
  • Webservice: fixed a severe memory leak, at least on platforms using XPCOM
  • Serial: fixed host mode (Solaris, Linux and Mac OS X hosts; bug Fixed in SVN (closed)">#4672)
  • VRDP: Remote USB Protocol version 3
  • SATA: fixed hangs and BSODs introduced with 3.0.4 (bugs fixed in svn (closed)">#4695, fixed in svn (closed)">#4739, Fixed in SVN/3.0.6 (closed)">#4710)
  • SATA: fixed a bug which prevented Windows 7 from detecting more than one hard disk
  • SATA/SCSI: fixed rare random guest crashes and hangs
  • SCSI: fixed problem with Fedora 11 refusing to boot after kernel update
  • iSCSI: fix logging out when the target has dropped the connection, fix negotiation of simparameters, fix command resend when the connection was dropped, fix processing SCSI status for targets which do not use phase collapse
  • BIOS: fixed a bug that caused the OS/2 boot manager to fail (2.1.0 regression, bug ... (closed)">#3911)
  • PulseAudio: don't hang during VM termination if the connection to the server was unexpectedly terminated (bug Fixed in SVN (closed)">#3100)
  • Mouse: fixed weird mouse behaviour with SMP (Solaris) guests (bug fixed in 3.0.6 (closed)">#4538)
  • HostOnly Network: fixed failure in CreateHostOnlyNetworkInterface() on Linux (no GUID)
  • HostOnly Network: fixed wrong DHCP server startup while hostonly interface bringup on Linux
  • HostOnly Network: fixed incorrect factory and default MAC address on Solaris
  • HostOnly Network: fixed the problem with listing host-only interfaces on Mac OS X when all physical interfaces are down (bugs Fixed in ... (closed)">#4698, #4790)
  • DHCP: fixed a bug in the DHCP server where it allocated one IP address less than the configured range
  • E1000: fixed receiving of multicast packets
  • E1000: fixed up/down link notification after resuming a VM
  • NAT: fixed ethernet address corruptions (bug Fixed in SVN (closed)">#4839)
  • NAT: fixed hangs, dropped packets and retransmission problems (bug Fixed in SVN (closed)">#4343)
  • Bridged Network: fixed packet queue issue which might cause DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE BSOD for Windows hosts (bug #4821)
  • Windows Additions: fixed a bug in VBoxGINA which prevented selecting the right domain when logging in the first time
  • Windows host installer: should now also work on unicode systems (like Korean, bug Account name contains special ... (closed)">#3707)
  • Windows host installer: check for sufficient disk space
  • Shared clipboard: do not send zero-terminated text to X11 guests and hosts (bug fixed in SVN/upcoming 3.0.6 (closed)">#4712)
  • Shared clipboard: use a less CPU intensive way of checking for new data on X11 guests and hosts (bug fixed in 3.0.6 (closed)">#4092)
  • Guest Additions: do not hide the host mouse cursor when restoring a saved state (bug fixed in SVN (closed)">#4700)
  • Windows guests: fixed issues with the display of the mouse cursor image (bugs #2603, fixed in SVN/upcoming 3.0.6 (closed)">#2660 and fixed in SVN/upcoming ... (closed)">#4817)
  • SUSE 11 guests: fixed Guest Additions installation (bug fixed in SVN/upcoming ... (closed)">#4506)
  • Guest Additions: support Fedora 12 Alpha guests (bugs applied in SVN (closed)">#4731, applied in SVN (closed)">#4733 and applied in SVN (closed)">#4734)
Even though it's only a maintenance release, get downloading!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Customize your distro, make it "-Look" pretty!


Some Linux distributions put a lot of time into making sure that their default desktop looks pretty. Others do not. Either way, you don't have to settle for the included artwork in a distribution! Plenty of options exist on the Internet to find more icons and backgrounds for your computer. Here, I will focus on finding Linux specific content, as well as how to participate in the online community of artwork content creation.



Linux Artwork Repositories:
For years, I have enjoyed looking at the different artwork available for making Linux beautiful. The first site I visited was kde-look.org, which focuses on creation of eyecandy for the KDE desktop, in the form of wallpapers, themes, icons, screensavers, and other desktop related content. Even though I don't currently use the KDE desktop environment, I still peruse the fine wallpapers available here.
Little did I realize at the time that kde-look.org is actually a part of the larger opendesktop.org project, which provides many opportunities including creating and sharing applications as well as artwork.



The artwork-related websites under the opendesktop.org umbrella include:



Artwork (non distro specific):
KDE-Look.org Artwork for the KDE-Desktop
GNOME-Look.org Artwork for the GNOME-Desktop
Xfce-Look.org Artwork for the Xfce-Desktop
Box-Look.org Artwork for your Windowmanager
E17-Stuff.org Artwork for Enlightenment
Beryl-Themes.org Artwork for the Beryl Windowmanager
Compiz-Themes.org Artwork for the Compiz Windowmanager
EDE-Look.org Themes for your EDE Desktop



Artwork (distro-specific):
Debian-Art.org Stuff for Debian
Gentoo-Art.org Artwork for Gentoo Linux
SUSE-Art.org Artwork for openSUSE
Ubuntu-Art.org Artwork for Ubuntu
Kubuntu-Art.org Artwork for Kubuntu
LinuxMint-Art.org Artwork for Linux Mint
Frugalware-Art.org Artwork for Frugalware Linux
Arch-Stuff.org Artwork and Stuff for Arch Linux

There are also a variety of opendesktop.org websites pertaining to open source apps, as well, but that does not pertain to this topic. Check out opendesktop.org for more info on that.



So, you've found cool desktops, downloaded them, and set them as your personal wallpaper. Like the image, but hate the color? Change it! Many of the images and artwork that are released on these content sites are released under permissive licensing agreements that allow you to modify or create existing content for your own uses. For example, all of the artwork in this post has been either created or modified by me, and posted to kde-look.org, gnome-look.org, or ubuntu-art.org -- I used the GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation program, to create and modify the images, then created an account on the site, and posted the images. Make sure you respect the license of the original poster. My user name is zooot if you wanted to search for my posted work.

One word of warning about these sites: There is no content filtering on these sites, so you may find pictures of ladies in various states of undress from time to time. Avoid that if you find it offensive or inappropriate. The sites do allow you to rate the artwork that is posted, and filter out any results that are under a particular score (usually 30%) if you desire.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, a vast array of artwork is available for you to use to beautify your Linux distribution of choice. Take advantage of it! Better yet, make artwork and share it with others!