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17 Cool Arduino Project Ideas for DIY Enthusiasts

Saturday 22nd of February 2020 07:53:11 AM

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform that combines both open source software and hardware to let people make interactive projects with ease. You can get Arduino-compatible single board computers and use them to make something useful.

In addition to the hardware, you will also need to know the Arduino language to use the Arduino IDE to successfully create something.

You can code using the web editor or use the Arduino IDE offline. Nevertheless, you can always refer to the official resources available to learn about Arduino.

Considering that you know the essentials, I will be mentioning some of the best (or interesting) Arduino projects. You can try to make them for yourself or modify them to come up with something of your own.

Interesting Arduino project ideas for beginners, experts, everyone

The following projects need a variety of additional hardware – so make sure to check out the official link to the projects (originally featured on the official Arduino Project Hub) to learn more about them.

Also, it is worth noting that they aren’t particularly in any ranking order – so feel free to try what sounds best to you.

1. LED Controller

Looking for simple Arduino projects? Here’s one for you.

One of the easiest projects that let you control LED lights. Yes, you do not have to opt for expensive LED products just to decorate your room (or for any other use-case), you can simply make an LED controller and customize it to use it however you want.

It requires using the Arduino UNO board and a couple more things (which also includes an Android phone). You can learn more about it in the link to the project below.

LED Controller 2. Hot Glue LED Matrix Lamp

Another Arduino LED project for you. Since we are talking about using LEDs to decorate, you can also make an LED lamp that looks beautiful.

For this, you might want to make sure that you have a 3D printer. Next, you need an LED strip and Arduino Nano R3 as the primary materials.

Once you’ve printed the case and assembled the lamp section, all you need to do is to add the glue sticks and figure out the wiring. It does sound very simple to mention – you can learn more about it on the official Arduino project feature site.

LED Matrix Lamp 3. Arduino Mega Chess

Want to have a personal digital chessboard? Why not?

You’ll need a TFT LCD touch screen display and an Arduino Mega 2560 board as the primary materials. If you have a 3D printer, you can create a pretty case for it and make changes accordingly.

Take a look at the original project for inspiration.

Arduino Mega Chess 4. Enough Already: Mute My TV

A very interesting project. I wouldn’t argue the usefulness of it – but if you’re annoyed by certain celebrities (or personalities) on TV, you can simply mute their voice whenever they’re about to speak something on TV.

Technically, it was tested with the old tech back then (when you didn’t really stream anything). You can watch the video above to get an idea and try to recreate it or simply head to the link to read more about it.

Mute My TV 5. Robot Arm with Controller

If you want to do something with the help of your robot and still have manual control over it, the robot arm with a controller is one of the most useful Arduino projects. It uses the Arduino UNO board if you’re wondering.

You will have a robot arm -for which you can make a case using the 3D printer to enhance its usage and you can use it for a variety of use-cases. For instance, to clean the carbage using the robot arm or anything similar where you don’t want to directly intervene.

Robotic Arm With Controller 6. Make Musical Instrument Using Arduino

I’ve seen a variety of musical instruments made using Arduino. You can explore the Internet if you want something different than this.

You would need a Pi supply flick charge and an Arduino UNO to make it happen. It is indeed a cool Arduino project where you get to simply tap and your hand waves will be converted to music. Also, it isn’t tough to make this – so you should have a lot of fun making this.

Musical Instrument using Arduino 7. Pet Trainer: The MuttMentor

An Arduino-based device that assists you to help train your pet – sounds exciting!

For this, they’re using the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense while utilizing TensorFlow to train a small neural network for all the common actions that your pet does. Accordingly, the buzzer will offer a reinforcing notification when your pet obeys your command.

This can have wide applications when tweaked as per your requirements. Check out the details below.

The MuttMentor 8. Basic Earthquake Detector

Normally, you depend on the government officials to announce/inform about the earthquake stats (or the warning for it).

But with Arduino boards, you can simply build a basic earthquake detector and have transparent results for yourself without depending on the authorities. Click on the button below to know about the relevant details to help make it.

Basic Earthquake Detector 9. Security Access Using RFID Reader

As the project describes – “RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification “.

So, in this project, you will be making an RFID reader using Arduino while pairing it with an Adafruit NFC card for security access. Check out the full details using the button below and let me know how it works for you.

Security Access using RFID reader 10. Smoke Detection using MQ-2 Gas Sensor

This could be potentially one of the best Arduino projects out there. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to equip smoke detectors for your home, you can manage with a DIY solution to some extent.

Of course, unless you want a complex failsafe set up along with your smoke detector, a basic inexpensive solution should do the trick. In either case, you can also find other applications for the smoke detector.

Smoke Detector 11. Arduino Based Amazon Echo using 1Sheeld

In case you didn’t know 1Sheeld basically replaces the need for an add-on Arduino board. You just need a smartphone and add Arduino shields to it so that you can do a lot of things with it.

Using 5 such shields, the original creator of this project made himself a DIY Amazon Echo. You can find all the relevant details, schematics, and code to make it happen.

DIY Amazon Echo 12. Audio Spectrum Visualizer

Just want to make something cool? Well, here’s an idea for an audio spectrum visualizer.

For this, you will need an Arduino Nano R3 and an LED display as primary materials to get started with. You can tweak the display as required. You can connect it with your headphone output or simply a line-out amplifier.

Easily one of the cheapest Arduino projects that you can try for fun.

Audio Spectrum Visualizer 13. Motion Following Motorized Camera

Up for a challenge? If you are – this will be one of the coolest Arduino Projects in our list.

Basically, this is meant to replace your home security camera which is limited to an angle of video recording. You can turn the same camera into a motorized camera that follows the motion.

So, whenever it detects a movement, it will change its angle to try to follow the object. You can read more about it to find out how to make it.

Motion Following Motorized Camera 14. Water Quality Monitoring System

If you’re concerned about your health in connection to the water you drink, you can try making this.

It requires an Arduino UNO and the water quality sensors as the primary materials. To be honest, a useful Arduino project to go for. You can find everything you need to make this in the link below.

Water Quality Monitoring System 15. Punch Activated Arm Flamethrower

I would be very cautious about this – but seriously, one of the best (and coolest) Arduino projects I’ve ever come across.

Of course, this counts as a fun project to try out to see what bigger projects you can pull off using Arduino and here it is. In the project, he originally used the SparkFun Arduino Pro Mini 328 along with an accelerometer as the primary materials.

Punch Activated Flamethrower 16. Polar Drawing Machine

This isn’t any ordinary plotter machine that you might’ve seen people creating using Arduino boards.

With this, you can draw some cool vector graphics images or bitmap. It might sound like bit of overkill but then it could also be fun to do something like this.

This could be a tricky project, so you can refer to the details on the link to go through it thoroughly.

Polar Drawing Machine 17. Home Automation

Technically, this is just a broad project idea because you can utilize the Arduino board to automate almost anything you want at your home.

Just like I mentioned, you can go for a security access device, maybe create something that automatically waters the plants or simply make an alarm system.

Countless possibilities of what you can do to automate things at your home. For reference, I’ve linked to an interesting home automation project below.

Home Automation Bonus: Robot Cat (OpenCat)

A programmable robotic cat for AI-enhanced services and STEM education. In this project, both Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards have been utilized.

You can also look at the Raspberry Pi alternatives if you want. This project needs a lot of work, so you would want to invest a good amount of time to make it work.

OpenCat

Wrapping Up

With the help of Arduino boards (coupled with other sensors and materials), you can do a lot of projects with ease. Some of the projects that I’ve listed above are suitable for beginners and some are not. Feel free to take your time to analyze what you need and the cost of the project before proceeding.

Did I miss listing an interesting Arduino project that deserves the mention here? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Discussing Past, Present and Future of FreeBSD Project

Friday 21st of February 2020 02:01:54 PM

FreeBSD is one of the most popular BSD distributions. It is used on desktop, servers and embedded devices for more than two decades.

We talked to Deb Goodkin, executive director, FreeBSD Foundation and discussed the past, present and future of FreeBSD project.

It’s FOSS: FreeBSD has been in the scene for more than 25 years. How do you see the journey of FreeBSD? 

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of innovation happening on and with FreeBSD. When the Foundation came into play 20 years ago, we were able to step in and help accelerate changes in the operating system. Over the years, we’ve increased our marketing support, to provide more advocacy and educational material, and to increase the awareness and use of FreeBSD.

In addition, we’ve increased our staff of software developers to allow us to quickly step in to fix bugs, review patches, implement workarounds to hardware issues, and implement new features and functionality. We have also increased the number of development projects we are funding to improve various areas of FreeBSD.

The history of stability and reliability, along with all the improvements and growth with FreeBSD, is making it a compelling choice for companies, universities, and individuals.

It’s FOSS: We know that Netflix uses FreeBSD extensively. What other companies or groups rely on FreeBSD? How do they contribute to BSD/FreeBSD (if they do at all)?

Sony’s Playstation 4 uses a modified version of FreeBSD as their operating system, Apple with their MacOS and iOS, NetApp in their ONTAP product, Juniper Networks  in JunOS, Trivago in their backend infrastructure, University of Cambridge in security research including the Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instruction (CHERI) project, University of Notre Dame in their Engineering Department, Groupon in their datacenter, LA Times in their data center, as well as, other notable companies like Panasonic, and Nintendo.

I listed a variety of organizations to highlight the different FreeBSD use cases. Companies like Netflix support FreeBSD by supporting the Project financially, as well as, by upstreaming their code. Some of the companies, like Sony, take advantage of the BSD license and don’t give back at all. 

Deb Goodkin And Friend Promoting FreeBSD At Oscon

It’s FOSS: Linux is ruling the servers and cloud computing. It seems that BSD is lagging in that field?

I wouldn’t characterize it as lagging, per se. Linux distributions do have a much higher market share than FreeBSD, but our strength falls in those two markets. FreeBSD does extremely well in these markets, because it provides a consistent and reliable foundation, and tends to just work. Known for having long term API stability, the user will integrate once and upgrade on their terms as both FreeBSD and their product evolves. 

It’s FOSS: Do you see the emergence of Linux as a threat to BSD? 

Sure, there are so many Linux distributions already, and most of them are supported by for profit companies. In fact, companies like Intel have many Linux developers on staff, so Linux is easily supported on their hardware.

However, thanks to the continuing education efforts and as our market share continues to grow, more developers will be available to support companies’ various FreeBSD use cases. 

It’s FOSS: Let’s talk about desktop. Recently, the devs of Project Trident announced that they were moving away from FreeBSD as a base. They said that they made this decision because FreeBSD is slow to review updates and support for new hardware. For example, the most recent version of Telegram on FreeBSD is 9 releases behind the version available on Linux. How would you respond to their comments?

There are quite a few FreeBSD distros for the desktop, with various focuses. The latest, is FuryBSD, which coincidentally was started by iXsystems employees, but is independent of iXsystems, just like Project Trident is. In addition to FuryBSD, you may want to check out NomadBSD and MidnightBSD.

Regarding supporting new hardware, we’ve stepped up our efforts to get FreeBSD working on more popular newer laptops. For example, the Foundation recently purchased a couple of the latest generation Lenovo X1 Carbon laptops and sponsored work to make sure that peripherals are supported out-of-the-box.

It’s FOSS: Why should a desktop user consider choosing FreeBSD?

There are many reasons people should consider using FreeBSD on their desktop! Just to highlight a few, it has rock solid stability; high performance; supports ZFS to protect your data; a community that is friendly, helpful, and approachable; excellent documentation to easily find answers; over 30,000 open source software packages that are easy to install, allowing you to easily set up your environment without a lot of extras, and that includes many choices of popular GUIs, and it follows the POLA philosophy (Principle of Least Astonishment) which means, don’t break things that work and upgrades are generally painless (even across major releases). 

It’s FOSS: Are there any plans to make it easier to install FreeBSD as a desktop system? The current focus seems to be on servers.

The Foundation is supporting efforts to make sure FreeBSD works on the latest hardware and peripherals that appear in desktop systems, and will continue to support making FreeBSD easy to deploy, monitor, and configure to provide a great toolbox for building a desktop on top of it. That allows others to take as much or as little of FreeBSD to build a desktop version to produce a specific user experience they desire.

Like I mentioned above, there are other FreeBSD distributions that have taken these FreeBSD components and created their own desktop versions.

It’s FOSS: What are your plans/roadmap for FreeBSD in the coming years?

The FreeBSD Foundation’s purpose is to support the FreeBSD Project. While we’re an entirely separate entity, we work closely with the Core Team and the community to help move the Project forward. The Foundation identifies key areas we should support in the coming years, based on input from users and what we are seeing in the industry. 

In 2019, we embarked on an even broader spectrum advocacy project to recruit new members throughout the world, while raising awareness about the benefits of learning FreeBSD. We are funding development projects including WiFi improvements, supporting OpenJDK, ZFS RAID-Z expansion, security, toolchain, performance improvements, and other features to keep FreeBSD innovative.

The FreeBSD Foundation will continue to host workshops and expand the amount of training opportunities and materials we provide. Finally, the BSD Certification program recently launched through Linux Professional Institute with greater availability. 

It’s FOSS: How can we bring more people to the BSD hold?

We need more PR for FreeBSD and get more tech journalists like yourself to write about FreeBSD. We also need more trainings and classes that include FreeBSD in universities, trainings/workshops at technical conferences, more FreeBSD contributors giving talks at those conferences, more technical journalists, as well as, users writing about FreeBSD, and finally we need case studies from companies and organizations successfully using FreeBSD. It all takes having more resources! We’re working on all of the above. 

It’s FOSS: Any message you would like to convey to our readers?

Readers should consider getting involved with the largest and oldest democratically run open source project!

Whether you want to learn systems programming or how an operating system works, the small size of the operating system makes it a great platform to learn from. The size of the Project makes it easier for anyone to make a notable contribution, and there is a strong mentorship culture to support new contributors.

Being a democratically run project, allows your voice to be heard and work in the areas you are interested in. I hope your readers will go to freebsd.org and try it out themselves.

How to Install Latest Git Version on Ubuntu

Tuesday 18th of February 2020 12:02:47 PM

Installing Git on Ubuntu is very easy. It is available in the main repository of Ubuntu and you can install it using the apt command like this:

sudo apt install git

Easy? Isn’t it?

There is only a slight little problem (which might not be a problem at all) and that is the version of Git it installs.

On an LTS system, the software stability is of upmost importance this is why Ubuntu 18.04 and other distributions often provide older but stable version of a software that is well tested with the distribution release.

This is why when you check the Git version, you’ll see that it installs a version which is older than the current Git version available on Git project’s website:

abhishek@itsfoss:~$ git --version git version 2.17.1

At the time of writing this tutorial, the version available on its website is 2.25. So how do you install the latest Git on Ubuntu then?

Install latest Git on Ubuntu-based Linux distributions

One way would be to install from source code. That cool, old school method is not everyone’s cup of tea. Thankfully, there is a PPA available from Ubuntu Git Maintainers team that you can use to easily install the latest stable Git version.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:git-core/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install git

Even if you had installed Git using apt previously, it will get updated to the latest stable version.

abhishek@itsfoss:~$ git --version git version 2.25.0

The beauty of using PPA is that if there is a new stable version of Git released, you’ll get it with the system updates. Just update Ubuntu to get the latest Git stable version.

Trivia

Did you know that Git version control system was created by none other than Linux creator Linus Torvalds?

Configure Git [Recommended for developers]

If you have installed Git for development purposes, you’ll soon start cloning repos, make your changes and commit your change.

If you try to commit your code, you may see a ‘Please tell me who you are’ error like this:

abhishek@itsfoss:~/compress-pdf$ git commit -m "update readme" *** Please tell me who you are. Run git config --global user.email "you@example.com" git config --global user.name "Your Name" to set your account's default identity. Omit --global to set the identity only in this repository. fatal: unable to auto-detect email address (got 'abhishek@itsfoss.(none)')

This is because you haven’t configured Git with your personal information which is mandatory.

As the error already hints, you can set up global Git configuration like this:

git config --global user.name "Your Name" git config --global user.email "you@example.com"

You can check the Git configuration with this command:

git config --list

It should show an output like this:

user.email=abhishe@private.com user.name=abhishek

This configuration is stored in ~/.gitconfig file. You may also change it manually to change the configuration.

In the end…

I hope this quick little tutorial helped you to install Git on Ubuntu. With the PPA, you easily get the latest Git version.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask in the comment section. A quick ‘thank you’ is also welcomed :)

Waterfox: Firefox Fork With Legacy Add-ons Options

Monday 17th of February 2020 09:43:57 AM

Brief: In this week’s open source software highlight, we take a look at a Firefox-based browser that supports legacy extensions that Firefox no longer supports while potentially providing fast user experience.

When it comes to web browsers, Google Chrome leads the market share. Mozilla Firefox is there still providing hopes for a mainstream web browser that respects your privacy.

Firefox has improved a lot lately and one of the side-effects of the improvements is removal of add-ons. If your favorite add-on disappeared in last few months/years, you have a good new in the form of Witerfox.

Attention!

It’s been brought to our notice that Waterfox has been acquired by System1. This company also acquired privacy focused search engine Startpage.
While System1 claims that they are providing privacy focused products because ‘there is a demand’, we cannot vouch for their claim.
In other words, it’s up to you to trust System1 and Waterfox.

Waterfox: A Firefox-based Browser Waterfox Classic

Waterfox is a useful open-source browser built on top of Firefox that focuses on privacy and supports legacy extensions. It doesn’t pitch itself as a privacy-paranoid browser but it does respect the basics.

You get two separate Waterfox browser versions. The current edition aims to provide a modern experience and the classic version focuses to support NPAPI plugins and bootstrap extensions.

Waterfox Classic

If you do not need to utilize bootstrap extensions but rely on WebExtensions, Waterfox Current is the one you should go for.

And, if you need to set up a browser that needs NPAPI plugins or bootstrap extensions extensively, Waterfox Classic version will be suitable for you.

So, if you like Firefox, but want to try something different on the same line, this is a Firefox alternative for the job.

Features of Waterfox Waterfox Current

Of course, technically, you should be able to do a lot of things that Mozilla Firefox supports.

So, I’ll just highlight all the important features of Waterfox in a list here.

  • Supports NPAPI Plugins
  • Supports Bootstrap Extensions
  • Offers separate editions for legacy extension support and modern WebExtension support.
  • Cross-platform support (Windows, Linux, and macOS)
  • Theme customization
  • Archived Add-ons supported
Installing Waterfox on Ubuntu/Linux

Unlike other popular browsers, you don’t get a package to install. So, you will have to download the archived package from its official download page.

Depending on what edition (Current/Classic) you want – just download the file, which will be .tar.bz2 extension file.

Once downloaded, simply extract the file.

Next, head on to the extracted folder and look for the “Waterfox” file. You can simply double-click on it to run start up the browser.

If that doesn’t work, you can utilize the terminal and navigate to the extracted Waterfox folder. Once there, you can simply run it with a single command. Here’s how it looks like:

cd waterfox-classic ./waterfox

In either case, you can also head to its GitHub page and explore more options to get it installed on your system.

Download Waterfox

Wrapping up

I fired it up on my Pop!_OS 19.10 installation and it worked really well for me. Though I don’t think I could switch from Firefox to Waterfox because I am not using any legacy add-on. It could still be an impressive option for certain users.

You could give it a try and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

MyPaint 2.0 is Here With Brushes, Python 3 Support and More Features

Sunday 16th of February 2020 07:54:33 AM

Brief: Open source painting application MyPaint 2.0 has been released with new features and improvements. Check out what’s new and how to get the latest MyPaint on Linux.

MyPaint 2.0 MyPaint 2.0

MyPaint is one of the top open source alternatives to Microsoft Paint. It’s a handy little tool that allows you to quickly sketch and draw. While there are more sophisticated open source tools for digital artists like Krita, MyPaint is not too bad for light sketching.

You can also use it on Wacom touch devices without much trouble.

MyPaint has a major new release with support for Python 3, new layer mode, new brush parameters among other changes.

New features in MyPaint 2.0 MyPaint v1.2 and v2.0

Here are the new changes in this major release:

  • Linear compositing and spectral blending (pigment).
  • Layer views.
  • Brush strokes dependent on view rotation and view zoom.
  • Additional symmetry modes: vertical, vertical+horizontal, rotational, snowflake.
  • Expanded flood fill functionality: offset, feather, gap detection and more.
  • New brush settings: offsets, gridmap, additional smudge settings, posterize, pigment.
  • New brush inputs: barrel rotation, base radius, zoom level, gridmap x/y, direction 360, attack angle.

Apart from that there are plenty of minor changes as well that improve the overall experience with MyPaint:

  • Full Python3 support (Python2 still supported)
  • Switch to PyGI
  • New Import Layers feature
  • Progress feedback for loading/saving
  • New Layer Views
  • Spectral mixing
  • Curve editor points snaps on 0.5 increments
  • Maximum input mapping curve points increased to 64

The new release also features plenty of bug fixes.

Installing MyPaint 2.0 on Linux

It will take some time before your distribution provides MyPaint 2.0 (if it provides at all). An easier and more convenient way of using MyPaint 2 right now on Linux is via AppImage.

MyPaint 2 is available in an AppImage format that you can download from its GitHub repository, give it execute permission and run it.

The source code and other installation options are available on the release page.

Download the latest MyPaint

Conclusion

The new release looks good. If you try MyPaint 2.0, do share your experience.

Here Are The Most Beautiful Linux Distributions in 2020

Sunday 16th of February 2020 04:30:38 AM

It’s a no-brainer that there’s a Linux distribution for every user – no matter what they prefer or what they want to do.

Starting out with Linux? You can go with the Linux distributions for beginners. Switching from Windows? You have Windows-like Linux distributions. Have an old computer? You can use lightweight Linux distros.

In this list, I’m going to focus only on the most beautiful Linux distros out there.

Top 7 Most Beautiful Linux Distributions

Wait! Is there a thing called a beautiful Linux distribution? Is it not redundant considering the fact that you can customize the looks of any distribution and make it look better with themes and icons?

You are right about that. But here, I am talking about the distributions that look great without any tweaks and customization effort from the user’s end. These distros provide a seamless, pleasant desktop experience right out of the box.

Note: The list is in no particular order of ranking.

1. elementary OS

elementary OS is one of the most beautiful Linux distros out there. It leans on a macOS-ish look while providing a great user experience for Linux users. If you’re already comfortable macOS – you will have no problem using the elementary OS.

Also, elementary OS is based on Ubuntu – so you can easily find plenty of applications to get things done.

Not just limited to the look and feel – but the elementary OS is always hard at work to introduce meaningful changes. So, you can expect the user experience to improve with every update you get.

elementary OS 2. Deepin

Deepin is yet another beautiful Linux distro originally based on Debian’s stable branch. The animations (look and feel) could be too overwhelming for some – but it looks pretty.

It features its own Deepin Desktop Environment that involves a mix of essential features for the best user experience possible. It may not exactly resemble the UI of any other distribution but it’s quite easy to get used to.

My personal attention would go to the control center and the color scheme featured in Deepin OS. You can give it a try – it’s worth taking a look.

Deepin 3. Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS manages to offer a great UI on top of Ubuntu while offering a pure GNOME experience.

It also happens to be my personal favorite which I utilize as my primary desktop OS. Pop!_OS isn’t flashy – nor involves any fancy animations. However, they’ve managed to get things right by having a perfect combo of icon/themes – while polishing the user experience from a technical point of view.

I don’t want to initiate a Ubuntu vs Pop OS debate but if you’re used to Ubuntu, Pop!_OS can be a great alternative for potentially better user experience.

Pop!_OS 4. Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is an Arch-based Linux distribution. While installing Arch Linux is a slightly complicated job, Manjaro provides an easier and smoother Arch experience.

It offers a variety of desktop environment editions to choose from while downloading. No matter what you choose, you still get enough options to customize the look and feel or the layout.

To me, it looks quite fantastic for an Arch-based distribution that works out of the box – you can give it a try!

Manjaro Linux 5. KDE Neon

KDE Neon is for the users who want a simplified approach to the design language but still get a great user experience.

It is a lightweight Linux distro which is based on Ubuntu. As the name suggests, it features the KDE Plasma desktop and looks absolutely beautiful.

KDE Neon gives you the latest and greatest KDE Plasma desktop and KDE applications. Unlike Kubuntu or other KDE-based distributions, you don’t have to wait for months to get the new KDE software.

You get a lot of customization options built-in with the KDE desktop – so feel free to try it out!

KDE Neon 6. Zorin OS

Without a doubt, Zorin OS is an impressive Linux distro that manages to provide a good user experience – even with its lite edition.

You can try either the full version or the lite edition (with Xfce desktop). The UI is tailored for Windows and macOS users to get used to. While based on Ubuntu, it provides a great user experience with what it has to offer.

If you start like its user interface – you can also try Zorin Grid to manage multiple computers running Zorin OS at your workplace/home. With the ultimate edition, you can also control the layout of your desktop (as shown in the image above).

Zorin OS 7. Nitrux OS

Nitrux OS is a unique take on a Linux distribution which is somewhat based on Ubuntu – but not completely.

It focuses on providing a good user experience to the users who are looking for a unique design language with a fresh take on a Linux distro. It uses Nomad desktop which is based on KDE.

Nitrux encourages to use of AppImage for applications. But you can also use Arch Linux’s pacman package manager in Nitrux which is based on Ubuntu. Awesome, isn’t it?

Even if it’s not the perfect OS to have installed (yet), it sure looks pretty and good enough for most of the basic tasks. You can also know more about it when you read our interview with Nitrux’s founder.

Here’s a slightly old video of Nitrux but it still looks good:

Nitrux OS Bonus: eXtern OS (in ‘stagnated’ development)

If you want to try an experimental Linux distro, extern OS is going to be beautiful.

It isn’t actively maintained and should not be used for production systems. Yet, it provides unique user experience (thought not polished enough).

Just for the sake of trying a good-looking Linux distro, you can give it a try to experience it.

eXtern OS

Wrapping Up

Now, as the saying goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. So this list of beautiful Linux distributions is from my point of view. Feel free to disagree (politely of course) and mention your favorites.

The Background Story of AppImage [Interview]

Friday 14th of February 2020 05:38:14 AM

As a Linux user, you might have come across AppImages. This is a portable packaging format that allows you to run an application on any Linux distribution.

Using AppImage is really simple. You just need to give it execute permission and double click to run it, like the .exe files in Windows. This solves a major problem in Linux as different kind of distributions have different kind of packaging formats. You cannot install .deb files (of Debian/Ubuntu) on Fedora and vice versa.

We talked to Simon, the developer of AppImage, about how and why he created this project. Read some of the interesting background story and insights Simon shares about AppImage.

Interacting with Simon Peter, the creator of AppImage

It’s FOSS: Few people know about the person behind AppImage. How about sharing a little background information about yourself?

Simon: Hi, I’m Simon Peter, based near Frankfurt in Germany. My background is in Economics and Business Administration, but I’ve always been a tinkerer and hacker in my free time, and been working in tech ever since I graduated.

AppImage, though, is strictly a hobby which I enjoy working on in my spare time. I do a lot of my AppImage work while I’m on a train going from here to there. Somehow I seem to be on the move all the time. Professionally, I work in the product management of a large telecommunications company.

It’s FOSS: Why did you create AppImage?

Simon: The first computer I could get my hands on was a Macintosh in the late 80s. For me, this is the benchmark when it comes to simplicity and usability. When I started to experiment with Linux on the desktop, I always wished it was as elegant and simple to operate and gave me as much flexibility as the early Macs.

When I tried Linux for the first time in the late 90s, I had to go through a cumbersome process formatting and partitioning hard disks, installing stuff – it took a lot of time and was really cumbersome. A couple of years later, I tried out a Linux Live CD-ROM. It was a complete game changer. You popped in the CD, booted the computer, and everything just worked, right out of the box. No installation, no configuration. The system was always in factory-new state whenever you rebooted the machine. Exactly how I liked it.

There was only one downside: You could not install additional applications on a read-only CD. Packages always insisted on writing in /usr, where the Live CD was not writeable. Thus, I asked myself: Why can’t I just put applications wherever I want, like on a USB drive or a network share, as I am used from the Mac? How cool would it be if every application was just one single file that I could put wherever I want? And thus the idea for AppImage was born (back then under the name of “klik”).

Turns out that over time Live systems have become more capable, but I still like the simplicity and freedom that comes with the “one app = one file” idea. For example, I want to be in control of where stuff resides on my hard disks. I want to decide what to update or not to update and when. For most tasks I need a stable, rarely-changing operating system with the latest applications. To this day all I ever run are Live systems, because the operating system “just works” out of the box without any installation or configuration on my side, and every time I reboot the machine I have a “factory new”, known-good state.

It’s FOSS: What challenges did you face in the past and what challenges are you facing right now?

Simon: People told me that the idea was nuts, and I had no clue how “things are done on Linux”. Just about when I was beginning to give in, I came across a video of Linus Torvalds of all people who I noticed was complaining about many of the same things that I always had felt were too complicated when it came to distributing applications for Linux. While I was watching his rant, I also noticed, hey, AppImage actually solves many of those issues. Some time later, Linus came across AppImage, and he apparently liked the idea. That made me think, maybe it’s not that stupid an idea as people had made me believe all the time up to that point.

Today, people tend to mention AppImage as “one of the new package formats” together with Snap and Flatpak. I think that’s comparing apples to oranges. Not only is AppImage not “new” (it’s been around since well over a decade by now), but also it has very different objectives and design principles than the other systems. AppImage is all about single-file application bundles that can be “managed” by nothing else than a web browser and a file manager. It’s meant for “mere morals”, end users, not system administrators. It needs no package manager, it needs no root rights, it needs nothing to be installed on the system. It gives complete freedom to application developers and users.

It’s FOSS: AppImage is a “universal packaging system” and there you compete with Snap (backed by Ubuntu) and Flatpak (backed by Fedora). How do you plan to ‘fight’ against these big corporates?

Simon: See? That’s what I mean. AppImage plays in an entirely different playing field.

AppImage wants to be what exe files or PortableApps are for Windows and what apps inside dmg files are on the Mac – but better.

Besides, Snap (backed by Canonical) does not work out-of-the-box on Fedora, and Flatpak (backed by Red Hat) does not work out-of-the-box on Ubuntu. AppImages can run on either system, and many more, without the need to install anything.

It’s FOSS: How do you see the adoption of AppImage? Are you happy with its growth?

Simon: As of early 2020, there are now around 1,000 official AppImages made by the respective application authors that are passing my compatibility tests and can run on the oldest still-supported Ubuntu LTS release, and hundreds more are being worked on as we speak. “Household name” applications like Inkscape, Kdenlive, KDevelop, LibreOffice, PrusaSlicer, Scribus, Slic3r, Ultimaker Cura (too many to name them all) are being distributed in AppImage format. This makes me very happy and I am always excited when I read about a new version being released on Twitter, and then am able to download and run the AppImage instantly, without having to wait for my Linux distribution to carry that new version, and without having to throw away the old (known-good) version just because I want to try out the new (bleeding edge) one.

The adoption of AppImage is especially strong for nightly and continuous builds. This is because the “one app = one file” concept of AppImage lends itself especially well to try-out software, where you keep multiple versions around for testing purposes, and never have to install anything into the running system. Worst thing that can happen with AppImage is that an application does not launch. In that case, file a bug, delete the file, done. Worst thing that can happen with distribution packages: complete system breakage…

It’s FOSS: One major issue with AppImage is that not all the developers provide an easy way of updating the AppImage versions. Any suggestions for handling it?

Simon: AppImage has this concept of “binary delta updates”. Think of it as “diff for applications”. A new version of an application comes out, you download only the parts that have changed, and apply them to the old version. As a result, you get both the old and the new version and can keep them in parallel until you have determined that you don’t need the old version any longer, and throw it away.

In general, I don’t want to enforce anything with AppImage. Application authors are at liberty to control the whole experience. Up to now, application authors have to do some setup work to make AppImages with this update capability. That being said, I am convinced that if we make it easy enough for developers to get working binary delta updates “for free”, then many will offer them. To this end, I am currently working on a new set of tools written in Go that will set up updates almost automatically, and I hope this will significantly increase the percentage of AppImages that come with this capability.

It’s FOSS: Nitrux is one of the rare distributions that relies heavily on AppImage. Or there any other such distributions? What can be done make AppImage more popular?

Simon: Linux distributions traditionally have thought of themselves as more than just the base operating system itself – they also wanted to control application distribution. Now, as Apple and Microsoft are trying to get more control over application distribution on their desktop platforms, the trend is slowly reversing in Linux land where people are slowly beginning to understand that distributions could be much more polished if they focused on the base operating system and left the packaging of applications to the application authors.

To make AppImage more popular, I think users and application authors should continue to spread the word that upstream-provided AppImages are in many cases working better than distribution packages. With AppImage, you get a software stack where the application author had a chance to cherry-pick which versions of libraries work together, test and tune both functionality and performance. Who is surprised that the result tends to work better than a “random” combination of whatever versions happened to be in a Linux distribution at a certain, random point in time when a distribution release was put together?

Desktop environments could greatly increase usability, not only for AppImages, but also for any other kind of “side-loaded” applications that are not being installed. Just see how a desktop environments handles double-clicking on an executable file that is missing the executable bit. Some are doing a great job in this regard, like Deepin Linux. Stuff tends to “just work” there as it should.

Finally, I am currently working on a new set of tools written in Go which I hope will greatly simplify, and make yet more enjoyable, the production and consumption of AppImages. My goal here is to make things less complex for users, remove the need for configuration, make things “just work”, like on the early Macintoshes. Are there any Go developers out here interested to join the effort?

It’s FOSS: I can see there is a website that lists available AppImage applications. Do you have plans to integrate it with other software managers on Linux or create a software manager for AppImage?

Simon: appimage.github.io lists AppImages that have passed my compatibility tests on the oldest still-supported Ubuntu LTS release. Projects creating app stores or software managers are free to use this data. Myself, I am not much interested in those things as I always download AppImages right from the respective project’s download pages. My typical AppImage discovery goes like this:

  1. Read on Twitter that PrusaSlicer has this cool new feature
  2. Go to the PrusaSlicer GitHub project and read the release notes there
  3. While there, download the AppImage and have it running a few seconds later

So for me personally, I have no need for app centers and app stores, but if people like them, they are free to put AppImages in there. I just never felt the need…

It’s FOSS: What plans do you have for AppImage in future (new features that you plan to add)?

Simon: Simplify things even more, remove configuration options, make things “just work”. Reduce the number of GitHub projects needed to get the core AppImage experience for producing and consuming AppImages, including aspects like binary delta updates, sandboxing, etc. Improve usability.

It’s FOSS: Does AppImage project makes money? What kind of support (if any) do you seek from the end users?

Simon: No, AppImage makes no money whatsoever.

I’ll just request the readers to spread the word. Tell your favorite application’s authors that you’d like to see an AppImage, and why.

Team It’s FOSS congratulates Simon for his hard work. Please feel free to convey any message and queries to him in the comment section.

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Released With New Features

Wednesday 12th of February 2020 10:30:15 AM

KDE plasma desktop is undoubtedly one of the most impressive Linux desktop environments available out there right now.

Now, with the latest release, the KDE Plasma desktop just got more awesome!

KDE Plasma 5.18 marks itself as an LTS (Long Term Support) release i.e it will be maintained by the KDE contributors for the next 2 years while the regular versions are maintained for just 4 months.

KDE Plasma 5.18 on KDE Neon

So, if you want more stability on your KDE-powered Linux system, it would be a good idea to upgrade to KDE’s Plasma 5.18 LTS release.

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Features

Here are the main new features added in this release:

Emoji Selector Emoji Selector in KDE

Normally, you would Google an emoji to copy it to your clipboard or simply use the good-old emoticons to express yourself.

Now, with the latest update, you get an emoji selector in Plasma Desktop. You can simply find it by searching for it in the application launcher or by just pressing (Windows key/Meta/Super Key) + . (period/dot).

The shortcut should come in handy when you need to use an emoji while sending an email or any other sort of messages.

Global Edit Mode Global Edit Mode

You probably would have used the old desktop toolbox on the top-right corner of the screen in the Plasma desktop, but the new release gets rid of that and instead – provides you with a global edit mode when you right-click on the desktop and click on “Customize Layout“.

Night Color Control Night Color Control

Now, you can easily toggle the night color mode right from the system tray. In addition to that, you can even choose to set a keyboard shortcut for both night color and the do not disturb mode.

Privacy Improvements For User Feedback Improved Privacy

It is worth noting that KDE Plasma lets you control the user feedback information that you share with them.

You can either choose to disable sharing any information at all or control the level of information you share (basic, intermediate, and detailed).

Global Themes Themes

You can either choose from the default global themes available or download community-crafted themes to set up on your system.

UI Improvements

There are several subtle improvements and changes. For instance, the look and feel of the notifications have improved.

You can also notice a couple of differences in the software center (Discover) to help you easily install apps.

Not just limited to that, but you also get the ability to mute the volume of a window from the taskbar (just like you normally do on your browser’s tab). Similarly, there are a couple of changes here and there to improve the KDE Plasma experience.

Other Changes

In addition to the visual changes and customization ability, the performance of KDE Plasma has improved when coupled with a graphics hardware.

To know more about the changes, you can refer the official announcement post for KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux videos How To Get KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS?

If you are using a rolling release distribution like Arch Linux, you might have got it with the system updates. If you haven’t performed an update yet, simply check for updates from the system settings.

If you are using Kubuntu, you can add the Kubuntu backports PPA to update the Plasma desktop with the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade

If you do not have KDE as your desktop environment, you can refer our article on how to install KDE on Ubuntu to get started.

Wrapping Up

KDE Plasma 5.18 may not involve a whole lot of changes – but being an LTS release, the key new features seem helpful and should come in handy to improve the Plasma desktop experience for everyone.

What do you think about the latest Plasma desktop release? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

OpenShot Video Editor Gets a Major Update With Version 2.5 Release

Tuesday 11th of February 2020 10:10:28 AM

OpenShot is one of the best open-source video editors out there. With all the features that it offered – it was already a good video editor on Linux.

Now, with a major update to it (v.2.5.0), OpenShot has added a lot of new improvements and features. And, trust me, it’s not just any regular release – it is a huge release packed with features that you probably wanted for a very long time.

In this article, I will briefly mention the key changes involved in the latest release.

OpenShot 2.5.0 Key Features

Here are some of the major new features and improvements in OpenShot 2.5:

Hardware Acceleration Support

The hardware acceleration support is still an experimental addition – however, it is a useful feature to have.

Instead of relying on your CPU to do all the hard work, you can utilize your GPU to encode/decode video data when working with MP4/H.264 video files.

This will affect (or improve) the performance of OpenShot in a meaningful way.

Support Importing/Exporting Files From Final Cut Pro & Premiere

Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere are the two popular video editors for professional content creators. OpenShot 2.5 now allows you to work on projects created on these platforms. It can import (or export) the files from Final Cut Pro & Premiere in EDL & XML formats.

Thumbnail Generation Improved

This isn’t a big feature – but a necessary improvement to most of the video editors. You don’t want broken images in the thumbnails (your timeline/library). So, with this update, OpenShot now generates the thumbnails using a local HTTP server, can check multiple folder locations, and regenerate missing ones.

Blender 2.8+ Support

The new OpenShot release also supports the latest Blender (.blend) format – so it should come in handy if you’re using Blender as well.

Easily Recover Previous Saves & Improved Auto-backup

It was always a horror to lose your timeline work after you accidentally deleted it – which was then auto-saved to overwrite your saved project.

Now, the auto-backup feature has improved with an added ability to easily recover your previous saved version of the project.

Even though you can recover your previous saves now – you will find a limited number of the saved versions, so you have to still remain careful.

Other Improvements

In addition to all the key highlights mentioned above, you will also notice a performance improvement when using the keyframe system.

Several other issues like SVG compatibility, exporting & modifying keyframe data, and resizable preview window have been fixed in this major update. For privacy-concerned users, OpenShot no longer sends usage data unless you opt-in to share it with them.

For more information, you can take a look at OpenShot’s official blog post to get the release notes.

Installing OpenShot 2.5 on Linux

You can simply download the .AppImage file from its official download page to install the latest OpenShot version. If you’re new to AppImage, you should also check out how to use AppImage on Linux to easily launch OpenShot.

Download Latest OpenShot Release

Some distributions like Arch Linux may also provide the latest OpenShot release with regular system updates.

PPA available for Ubuntu-based distributions

On Ubuntu-based distributions, if you don’t want to use AppImage, you can use the official PPA from OpenShot:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openshot.developers/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install openshot-qt

You may want to know how to remove PPA if you want to uninstall it later.

Wrapping Up

With all the latest changes/improvements considered, do you see OpenShot as your primary video editor on Linux? If not, what more do you expect to see in OpenShot? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

elementary OS is Building an App Center Where You Can Buy Open Source Apps for Your Linux Distribution

Tuesday 11th of February 2020 07:10:33 AM

Brief: elementary OS is building an app center ecosystem where you can buy open source applications for your Linux distribution.

Crowdfunding to build an open source AppCenter for everyone

elementary OS recently announced that it is crowdfunding a campaign to build an app center from where you can buy open source applications. The applications in the app center will be in Flatpak format.

Though it’s an initiative taken by elementary OS, this new app center will be available for other distributions as well.

The campaign aims to fund a week of in-person development sprint in Denver, Colorado (USA) featuring developers from elementary OS, Endless, Flathub and GNOME.

The crowdfunding campaign has already crossed its goal of raising $10,000. You can still fund it as additional funds will be used for the development of elementary OS.

Crowdfunding Campaign What features this AppCenter brings

The focus is on providing ‘secure’ applications and hence Flatpak apps are used to provide confined applications. In this format, apps will be restricted from accessing system or personal files and will be isolated from other apps on a technical level by default.

Apps will have access to operating system and personal files only if you explicitly provide your consent for it.

Apart from security, Flatpak also bundles all the dependencies. This way, app developers can utilize the cutting edge technologies even if it is not available on the current Linux distribution.

AppCenter will also have the wallet feature to save your card details. This enables you to quickly pay for apps without entering the card details each time.

This new open source ‘app center’ will be available for other Linux distributions as well.

Inspired by the success of elementary OS’s own ‘Pay What You Want’ app center model

A couple of years ago, elementary OS launched its own app center. The ‘pay what you want’ approach for the app center was quite a hit. The developers can put a minimum amount for their open source apps and the users can choose to pay an amount equal to or more than the minimum amount.

This helped several indie developers get paid for their open source applications. The app store now has around 160 native applications and elementary OS says that thousands of dollars have been paid to the developers through the app center.

Inspired by the success of this app center experiment in elementary OS, they now want to bring this app center approach to other distributions as well.

If the applications are open source, how can you charge money for it?

Some people still get confused with the idea of FOSS (free and open source). Here, the source code of the software is open and anyone is free to modify it and redistribute it.

It doesn’t mean that open source software has to be free of cost. Some developers rely on donations while some charge a fee for support.

Getting paid for the open source apps may encourage developers to create applications for Linux.

Let’s see if it could work

Personally, I am not a huge fan of Flatpak or Snap packaging formats. They do have their benefits but they take relatively more time to start and they are huge in size. If you install several such Snaps or Flatpaks, your disk space may start running out of free space.

There is also a need to be vigilant about the fake and scam developers in this new app ecosystem. Imagine if some scammers starts creating Flatpak package of obscure open source applications and put it on the app center? I hope the developers put some sort of mechanism to weed out such apps.

I do hope that this new AppCenter replicates the success it has seen in elementary OS. We definitely need a better ecosystem for open source apps for desktop Linux.

What are your views on it? Is it the right approach? What suggestions do you have for the improvement of the AppCenter?

How to Change the Default Terminal in Ubuntu

Tuesday 11th of February 2020 03:17:27 AM

Terminal is a crucial part of any Linux system. It allows you to access your Linux systems through a shell. There are several terminal applications (technically called terminal emulators) on Linux.

Most of the desktop environments have their own implementation of the terminal. It may look different and may have different keyboard shortcuts.

For example, Guake Terminal is extremely useful for power users and provides several features you might not get in your distribution’s terminal by default.

You can install other terminals on your system and use it as default that opens up with the usual keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+T.

Now the question comes, how do you change the default terminal in Ubuntu. It doesn’t follow the standard way of changing default applications in Ubuntu then how to do it?

Change the default terminal in Ubuntu

On Debian-based distributions, there is a handy command line utility called update-alternatives that allows you to handle the default applications.

You can use it to change the default command line text editor, terminal and more. To do that, run the following command:

sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator

It will show all the terminal emulators present on your system that can be used as default. The current default terminal is marked with the asterisk.

abhishek@nuc:~$ sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator There are 2 choices for the alternative x-terminal-emulator (providing /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator). Selection Path Priority Status ------------------------------------------------------------ 0 /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper 40 auto mode 1 /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper 40 manual mode * 2 /usr/bin/st 15 manual mode Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:

All you have to do is to enter the selection number. In my case, I want to use the GNOME terminal instead of the one from Regolith desktop.

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 1 update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper to provide /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator (x-terminal-emulator) in manual mode .ugb-375f0ae .ugb-accordion__heading{border-radius:0px !important}Auto mode vs manual mode

You might have noticed the auto mode and manual mode in the output of update-alternatives command.

If you choose auto mode, your system may automatically decide on the default application as the packages are installed or removed. The decision is influenced by the priority number (as seen in the output of the command in the previous section).

Suppose you have 5 terminal emulators installed on your system and you delete the default one. Now, your system will check which of the emulators are in auto mode. If there are more than one, it will choose the one with the highest priority as the default emulator.

I hope you find this quick little tip useful. Your questions and suggestions are always welcome.

Dino is a Modern Looking Open Source XMPP Client

Monday 10th of February 2020 11:57:18 AM

Brief: Dino is a relatively new open-source XMPP client that tries to offer a good user experience while encouraging privacy-focused users to utilize XMPP for messaging.

Dino: An Open Source XMPP Client

XMPP (Extensible Messaging Presence Protocol) is a decentralized model of network to facilitate instant messaging and collaboration. Decentralize means there is no central server that has access to your data. The communication is directly between the end-points.

Some of us might call it an “old school” tech probably because the XMPP clients usually have a very bad user experience or simply just because it takes time to get used to (or set it up).

That’s when Dino comes to the rescue as a modern XMPP client to provide a clean and snappy user experience without compromising your privacy.

The User Experience

Dino does try to improve the user experience as an XMPP client but it is worth noting that the look and feel of it will depend on your Linux distribution to some extent. Your icon theme or the gnome theme might make it look better or worse for your personal experience.

Technically, the user interface is quite simple and easy to use. So, I suggest you take a look at some of the best icon themes and GNOME themes for Ubuntu to tweak the look of Dino.

Features of Dino Dino Screenshot

You can expect to use Dino as an alternative to Slack, Signal or Wire for your business or personal usage.

It offers all of the essential features you would need in a messaging application, let us take a look at a list of things that you can expect from it:

  • Decentralized Communication
  • Public XMPP Servers supported if you cannot setup your own server
  • Similar to UI to other popular messengers – so it’s easy to use
  • Image & File sharing
  • Multiple accounts supported
  • Advanced message search
  • OpenPGP & OMEMO encryption supported
  • Lightweight native desktop application
Installing Dino on Linux

You may or may not find it listed in your software center. Dino does provide ready to use binaries for Debian (deb) and Fedora (rpm) based distributions.

For Ubuntu:

Dino is available in the universe repository on Ubuntu and you can install it using this command:

sudo apt install dino-im

Similarly, you can find packages for other Linux distributions on their GitHub distribution packages page.

If you want the latest and greatest, you can also find both .deb and .rpm files for Dino to install on your Linux distribution (nightly builds) from OpenSUSE’s software webpage.

In either case, head to their GitHub page or click on the link below to visit the official site.

Download Dino

Wrapping Up

It works quite well without any issues (at the time of writing this and quick testing it). I’ll try exploring more about it and hopefully cover more XMPP-centric articles to encourage users to use XMPP clients and servers for communication.

What do you think about Dino? Would you recommend another open-source XMPP client that’s potentially better than Dino? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Install All Essential Media Codecs in Ubuntu With This Single Command [Beginner’s Tip]

Sunday 9th of February 2020 10:39:23 AM

If you have just installed Ubuntu or some other Ubuntu flavors like Kubuntu, Lubuntu etc, you’ll notice that your system doesn’t play some audio or video file.

For video files, you can install VLC on Ubuntu. VLC one of the best video players for Linux and can play almost any video file format. But you’ll still have troubles with audio media files and flash player.

The good thing is that Ubuntu provides a single package to install all the essential media codecs: ubuntu-restricted-extras.

What is Ubuntu Restricted Extras?

The ubuntu-restricted-extras is a software package that consists various essential software like flash plugin, unrar, gstreamer, mp4, codecs for Chromium browser in Ubuntu etc.

Since these software are not open source and some of them involve software patents, Ubuntu doesn’t install them by default. You’ll have to use multiverse repository, the software repository specifically created by Ubuntu to provide non-open source software to its users.

Please read this article to learn more about various Ubuntu repositories.

How to install Ubuntu Restricted Extras?

I find it surprising that the software center doesn’t list Ubuntu Restricted Extras. In any case, you can install the package using command line and it’s very simple.

Open a terminal by searching for it in the menu or using the terminal keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T.

Since ubuntu-restrcited-extras package is available in the multiverse repository, you should verify that the multiverse repository is enabled on your system:

sudo add-apt-repository multiverse

And then you can install it in Ubuntu default edition using this command:

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras

When you enter the command, you’ll be asked to enter your password. When you type the password, nothing is displayed on the screen. That’s normal. Type your password and press enter.

It will show a huge list of packages to be installed. Press enter to confirm your selection when it asks.

You’ll also encounter an EULA (End User License Agreement) screen like this:

Press Tab key to select OK and press Enter key

It could be overwhelming to navigate this screen but don’t worry. Just press tab and it will highlight the options. When the correct options are highlighted, press enter to confirm your selection.

Press Tab key to highlight Yes and press Enter key

Once the process finishes, you should be able to play MP3 and other media formats thanks to newly installed media codecs.

.ugb-aa625b8 .ugb-accordion__heading{border-radius:0px !important}Installing restricted extra package on Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu

Do keep in mind that Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu has this package available with their own respective names. They should have just used the same name but they don’t unfortunately.

On Kubuntu, use this command:

sudo apt install kubuntu-restricted-extras

On Lubuntu, use:

sudo apt install lubuntu-restricted-extras

On Xubuntu, you should use:

sudo apt install xubuntu-restricted-extras

I always recommend getting ubuntu-restricted-extras as one of the essential things to do after installing Ubuntu. It’s good to have a single command to install multiple codecs in Ubuntu.

I hope you like this quick tip in the Ubuntu beginner series. I’ll share more such tips in the future.

Best Open Source eCommerce Platforms to Build Online Shopping Websites

Thursday 6th of February 2020 01:31:33 PM

In an earlier article, I listed some of the best open-source CMS options available out there. These CMS software, as the name suggests, are more suitable for content focused websites.

But what if you want to build your own online shopping website? Thankfully, we have some good open source eCommerce solutions that you can deploy on your own Linux server.

These eCommerce software are tailored for the sole purpose of giving you a shopping website. So they have essential features like inventory management, product listings, cart, checkout, wishlisting and option to integrate a payment solution.

Please note that this is not an in-depth review article. So, I insist that you should try the platforms mentioned in this list to know more about them.

Best Open Source eCommerce Platforms

There are many open source eCommerce software available. I have filtered the ones which are actively maintained so that your shopping website doesn’t suffer because of obsolete or unmaintained software stack.

It is also worth noting that the list here is in no particular order of ranking.

1. nopCommerce

nopCommerce is a free and open-source eCommerce platform based on ASP.NET Core. If you were looking for a PHP-based solution – you can skip to the next option on the list.

The user interface of its admin panel is clean and easy to use. If you’ve used OpenCart – you might feel the similarity (but I’m not complaining). By default, it has got all the essential features while offering a responsive design for mobile users as well.

You get access to an official marketplace where you can get supported themes and extensions. You can opt for premium support or manage it yourself for free.

To get started, you can download the package with its source code from its official download page if you want to customize it and deploy it. In either case, you can also download the complete package to get it installed on a web server quickly. You can check out their GitHub page and the official website to learn more.

nopCommerce 2. OpenCart

OpenCart is a quite popular PHP-based eCommerce platform. Personally, I’ve worked on it for a project and the experience was good enough – if not excellent.

You may find it that it isn’t super actively maintained – but it’s still there and being utilized by a lot of web developers. You get support for a lot of extensions while having most of the essential features baked right into it.

For some, it may not be the best “modern” eCommerce platform but if you want a good open-source PHP-based alternative, it is worth a try. In most of the web hosting platforms with one-click app installation support, OpenCart should be available to setup. To learn more about it, you can head to its official website and check out the GitHub page.

OpenCart 3. PrestaShop

PrestaShop is yet another open-source eCommerce platform that you can utilize.

An actively maintained open-source solution with an official marketplace for themes and extensions. Unlike OpenCart, you may not find it available as a one-click app on hosting services – but you can download it from its official website and it is quite easy to set it up. You can also refer to their installation guide if you need help.

It features a lot of options while being easy to use at the same time. I find a lot of users trying out PrestaShop – you should take a look as well!

You can also take a look at their GitHub page to learn more.

PrestaShop 4. WooCommerce

If you want to utilize WordPress for your eCommerce website, WooCommerce will help you out.

Technically, you’re using WordPress as the platform and WooCommerce as a plugin/extension to enable the features needed for an eCommerce website. Potentially, a lot of people (web devs) know how to use WordPress – so it will be easier to learn/create using WooCommerce, I think.

You shouldn’t have a problem using WordPress, being one of the best open source website builder out there. It’s easy to use, reliable and supports a ton of extensions and integrations for your online store.

The best part about using WooCommerce is its flexibility. You get tons of choices for the design and extensions of your online store. It’s worth checking out! You can also head to its GitHub page.

WooCommerce 5. Zen Cart

This may not be a modern eCommerce platform but one of the best open-source solutions. If you’re a fan of old school templates (HTML-based primarily) and do not need a whole lot of extensions but just the basics, you can try it out.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this for a new project – but just because it is still an active platform, feel free to experiment on it if you like it.

You can find the project on SourceForge as well.

Zen Cart 6. Magento Image Credits: Magestore

An Adobe-owned open-source eCommerce platform that is potentially better than WordPress (depending on your preferences obviously).

Magento is completely tailored for e-commerce applications – so you will find a lot of essential features easy to use while offering advanced customizations as well.

However, when utilizing the open-source edition, you might miss some of the features available in their hosted offering. You can refer to their comparison guide for details. Of course, you can self-host it but if you want a managed hosting support, that’s available as well.

You can also take a look at their GitHub page to learn more.

Magento 7. Drupal Drupal

Drupal is another open-source CMS platform that is suitable for creating an eCommerce website.

I’ve never used it – so I’m not really sure of its flexibility but looking at its list of modules (Extensions) and themes available on its official site, it looks like you can do almost everything you need for an eCommerce platform easily.

You should be able to install it easily on any web server just like you install WordPress – so give it a try and see how it goes. You can even download the latest releases and check out the project on their download page.

Drupal 8. Odoo eCommerce

In case you didn’t know, Odoo offers a suite of open source business apps. They also offer open source accounting software and CRM solutions that we’ve covered in a separate list.

For the eCommerce portal, you can utilize its online drag and drop builder to customize your site as per your requirements. You also have options to promote the website. In addition to the easy theme installation and customization options, you get to utilize HTML/CSS to manually customize the look and feel to some extent.

You may also check out its GitHub page to explore more about it.

Odoo eCommerce

Wrapping Up

I’m sure there are a few more open-source eCommerce platforms out there – however, I haven’t come across anything that’s better than what I’ve listed above (yet).

If you think that I missed one of your favorites that deserves a mention, let me know in the comments. Also, feel free to share your experience and thoughts about the open-source eCommcerce platforms available in the comments section below.

What is WireGuard? Why Linux Users Going Crazy Over it?

Wednesday 5th of February 2020 12:45:08 PM

From normal Linux users to Linux creator Linus Torvalds, everyone is in awe of WireGuard. What is WireGuard and what makes it so special?

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is an easy to configure, fast, and secure open source VPN that utilizes state-of-the-art cryptography. It’s aim is to provide a faster, simpler and leaner general purpose VPN that can be easily deployed on low-end devices like Raspberry Pi to high-end servers.

Most of the other solutions like IPsec and OpenVPN were developed decades ago. Security researcher and kernel developer Jason Donenfeld realized that they were slow and difficult to configure and manage properly.

This made him create a new open source VPN protocol and solution which is faster, secure easier to deploy and manage.

WireGuard was originally developed for Linux but it is now available for Windows, macOS, BSD, iOS and Android. It is still under heavy development.

Why is WireGuard so popular?

Apart from being a cross-platform, one of the biggest plus point for WireGuard is the ease of deployment. Configuring and deploying WireGuard is as easy as configuring and using SSH.

Look at WireGuard set up guide. You install WireGuard, generate public and private keys (like SSH), set up firewall rules and start the service. Now compare it to the OpenVPN set up guide. There are way too many things to do here.

Another good thing about WireGuard is that it has a lean codebase with just 4000 lines of code. Compare it to 100,000 lines of code of OpenVPN (another popular open source VPN). It is clearly easier to debug WireGuard.

Don’t go by its simplicity. WireGuard supports all the state-of-the-art cryptography like like the Noise protocol frameworkCurve25519ChaCha20Poly1305BLAKE2SipHash24HKDF, and secure trusted constructions.

Since WireGuard runs in the kernel space, it provides secure networking at a high speed.

These are some of the reasons why WireGuard has become increasingly popular. Linux creator Linus Torvalds loves WireGuard so much that he is merging it in the Linux Kernel 5.6:

Can I just once again state my love for it and hope it gets merged soon? Maybe the code isn’t perfect, but I’ve skimmed it, and compared to the horrors that are OpenVPN and IPSec, it’s a work of art.

Linus Torvalds If WireGuard is already available, then what’s the fuss about including it in Linux kernel?

This could be confusing to new Linux users. You know that you can install and configure a WireGuard VPN server on Linux but then you also read the news that Linux Kernel 5.6 is going to include WireGuard. Let me explain it to you.

At present, you can install WireGuard on Linux as a kernel module. Regular applications like VLC, GIMP etc are installed on top of the Linux kernel (in user space), not inside it.

When you install WireGuard as a kernel module, you are basically modifying the Linux kernel on your own and add some code to it. Starting kernel 5.6, you won’t need manually add the kernel module. It will be included in the kernel by default.

The inclusion of WireGuard in Kernel 5.6 will most likely extend the adoption of WireGuard and thus change the current VPN scene.

Conclusion

WireGuard is gaining popularity for the good reasons. Some of the popular privacy focused VPNs like Mullvad VPN are already using WireGuard and the adoption is likely to grow in the near future.

I hope you have a slightly better understanding of WireGuard. Your feedback is welcome, as always.

NVIDIA’s Cloud Gaming Service GeForce NOW Shamelessly Ignores Linux

Wednesday 5th of February 2020 07:36:16 AM

NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW cloud gaming service is something promising for gamers who probably don’t have the hardware but want to experience the latest and greatest games with the best possible experience using GeForce NOW (stream the game online and play it on any device you want).

The service was limited to a few users (in the form of the waitlist) to access. However, recently, they announced that GeForce NOW is open to all. But, it really isn’t.

Interestingly, it’s not available for all the regions across the globe. And, worse- GeForce NOW does not support Linux.

GeForce NOW is Not ‘Open For All’

The whole point of making a subscription-based cloud service to play games is to eliminate platform dependence.

Just like you would normally visit a website using a web browser – you should be able to stream a game on every platform. That’s the concept, right?

Well, that’s definitely not rocket science – but NVIDIA still missed supporting Linux (and iOS)?

Is it because no one uses Linux?

I would strongly disagree with this – even if it’s the reason for some to not support Linux. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be writing for It’s FOSS while using Linux as my primary desktop OS.

Not just that – why do you think a Twitter user mentioned the lack of support for Linux if it wasn’t a thing?

Yes, maybe the userbase isn’t large enough but while considering this as a cloud-based service – it doesn’t make sense to not support Linux.

Technically, if no one games on Linux, Valve wouldn’t have noticed Linux as a platform to improve Steam Play to help more users play Windows-only games on Linux.

I don’t want to claim anything that’s not true – but the desktop Linux scene is evolving faster than ever for gaming (even if the stats are low when compared to Windows and Mac).

Cloud gaming isn’t supposed to work like this

As I mentioned above, it isn’t tough to find Linux gamers using Steam Play. It’s just that you’ll find the overall “market share” of gamers on Linux to be less than its counterparts.

Even though that’s a fact – cloud gaming isn’t supposed to depend on a specific platform. And, considering that the GeForce NOW is essentially a browser-based streaming service to play games, it shouldn’t be tough for a big shot like NVIDIA to support Linux.

Come on, team green – you want us to believe that supporting Linux is technically tough? Or, you just want to say that it’s not worth supporting the Linux platform?

Wrapping Up

No matter how excited I was for the GeForce NOW service to launch – it was very disappointing to see that it does not support Linux at all.

If cloud gaming services like GeForce NOW start supporting Linux in the near future – you probably won’t need a reason to use Windows (*coughs*).

What do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

PaperWM, the Tiling Window Manager for GNOME

Tuesday 4th of February 2020 01:57:11 PM

Lately, tiling window managers have been gaining popularity even among the regular desktop Linux users. Unfortunately, it can be difficult and time-consuming for a user to install and set up a tiling window manager.

This is why projects like Regolith and PaperWM has come up to provide tiling window experience with minimal efforts.

We have already discussed Regolith desktop in details. In this article, we’ll check out PaperWM.

What is PaperWM?

According to its GitHub repo, PaperWM is “an experimental Gnome Shell extension providing scrollable tiling of windows and per monitor workspaces. It’s inspired by paper notebooks and tiling window managers.”

PaperWM puts all of your windows in a row. You can quickly switch between windows very quickly. It’s a little bit like having a long spool of paper in front of you that you can move back and forth.

This extension supports GNOME Shell 3.28 to 3.34. It also supports both X11 and Wayland. It is written in JavaScript.

PaperWM Desktop How to Install PaperWM?

To install the PaperWM extension, you will need to clone the Github repo. Use this command:

git clone 'https://github.com/paperwm/PaperWM.git' "${XDG_DATA_HOME:-$HOME/.local/share}/gnome-shell/extensions/paperwm@hedning:matrix.org"

Now all you have to do is run:

./install.sh

The installer will set up and enable PaperWM.

If you are an Ubuntu user, there are a couple of things that you will need to consider. There are currently three different versions of the Gnome desktop available with Ubuntu:

  • ubuntu-desktop
  • ubuntu-gnome-desktop
  • vanilla-gnome-desktop

Ubuntu ships ubuntu-desktop by default and includes the desktop-icons package, which causes issues with PaperWM. The PaperWM devs recommend that you turn off the desktop-icons extension using GNOME Tweaks tool. However, while this step does work in 19.10, they say that users have reported that it is not working 19.04.

According to the PaperWM devs, using ubuntu-gnome-desktop produces the best out of the box results. vanilla-gnome-desktop has some keybindings that raise havoc with PaperWM.

.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-wrapper.ugb-container__wrapper{border-radius:0px !important;padding-top:0 !important;padding-bottom:0 !important;background-color:#f1f1f1 !important}.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-wrapper > .ugb-container__side{padding-top:35px !important;padding-bottom:35px !important}.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-wrapper.ugb-container__wrapper:before{background-color:#f1f1f1 !important}.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > h1,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > h2,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > h3,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > h4,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > h5,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > h6{color:#222222}.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > p,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > ol li,.ugb-624c877 .ugb-624c877-content-wrapper > ul li{color:#222222}

Recommended Read:

.ugb-0693a46 .ugb-blog-posts__featured-image{border-radius:0px !important}.ugb-0693a46 .ugb-blog-posts__title a{color:#000000 !important}.ugb-0693a46 .ugb-blog-posts__title a:hover{color:#00b6ba !important}Get a Preconfigured Tiling Window Manager on Ubuntu With Regolith

Using tiling window manager in Linux can be tricky with all those configuration. Regolith gives you an out of box i3wm experience within Ubuntu.

How to Use PaperWM?

Like most tiling window managers, PaperWM uses the keyboard to control and manage the windows. PaperWM also supports mouse and touchpad controls. For example, if you have Wayland installed, you can use a three-fingered swipe to navigate.

PaperWM in action

Here is a list of a few of the keybinding that preset in PaperWM:

  • Super + , or Super + . to activate the next or previous window
  • Super + Left or Super + Rightto activate the window to the left or right
  • Super + Up or Super + Downto activate the window above or below
  • Super + , or Super + . to activate the next or previous window
  • Super + Tab or Alt + Tab to cycle through the most recently used windows
  • Super + C to center the active window horizontally
  • Super + R to resize the window (cycles through useful widths)
  • Super + Shift + R to resize the window (cycles through useful heights)
  • Super + Shift + F to toggle fullscreen
  • Super + Return or Super + N to create a new window from the active application
  • Super + Backspace to close the active window

The Super key is the Windows key on your keyboard. You can find the full list of keybindings on the PaperWM GitHub page.

Final Thoughts on PaperWM

As I have stated previously, I don’t use tiling managers. However, this one has me thinking. I like the fact that you don’t have to do a lot of configuring to get it working. Another big plus is that it is built on GNOME, which means that getting a tiling manager working on Ubuntu is fairly straight forward.

The only downside that I can see is that a system running a dedicated tiling window manager, like Sway, would use fewer system resources and be faster overall.

What are your thoughts on the PaperWM GNOME extension? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it on social media, Hacker News or Reddit.

Ubuntu 19.04 Has Reached End of Life! Existing Users Must Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.10

Monday 3rd of February 2020 02:24:04 PM

Brief: Ubuntu 19.04 has reached the end of life on 23rd January 2020. This means that systems running Ubuntu 19.04 won’t receive security and maintenance updates anymore and thus leaving them vulnerable.

Ubuntu 19.04 was released on 18th April, 2019. Since it was not a long term support (LTS) release, it was supported only for nine months.

Completing its release cycle, Ubuntu 19.04 reached end of life on 23rd January, 2020.

Ubuntu 19.04 brought a few visual and performance improvements and paved the way for a sleek and aesthetically pleasant Ubuntu look.

Like any other regular Ubuntu release, it had a life span of nine months. And that has ended now.

End of life for Ubuntu 19.04? What does it mean?

End of life is means a certain date after which an operating system release won’t get updates.

You might already know that Ubuntu (or any other operating system for that matter) provides security and maintenance upgrades in order to keep your systems safe from cyber attacks.

Once a release reaches the end of life, the operating system stops receiving these important updates.

If you continue using a system after the end of life of your operating system release, your system will be vulnerable to cyber attacks and malware.

That’s not it. In Ubuntu, the applications that you downloaded using APT from Software Center won’t be updated as well. In fact, you won’t be able to install new software using apt-get command anymore (gradually, if not immediately).

All Ubuntu 19.04 users must upgrade to Ubuntu 19.10

Starting 23rd January 2020, Ubuntu 19.04 will stop receiving updates. You must upgrade to Ubuntu 19.10 which will be supported till July 2020. This is also applicable to other official Ubuntu flavors such as Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu etc.

You can check the Ubuntu version either from the settings->Details or by using the command:

lsb_release -a How to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.10? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux videos

Thankfully, Ubuntu provides easy ways to upgrade the existing system to a newer version.

In fact, Ubuntu also prompts you that a new Ubuntu version is available and that you should upgrade to it.

Existing Ubuntu 19.04 should see a message to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.10

If you have a good internet connection, you can use the same Software Updater tool that you use to update Ubuntu. In the above image, you just need to click the Upgrade button and follow the instructions. I have written a detailed guide about upgrading to Ubuntu 18.04 using this method.

If you don’t have a good internet connection, there is a workaround for you. Make a backup of your home directory or your important data on an external disk.

Then, make a live USB of Ubuntu 19.10. Download Ubuntu 19.10 ISO and use the Startup Disk Creator tool already installed on your Ubuntu system to create a live USB out of this ISO.

Boot from this live USB and go on ‘installing’ Ubuntu 19.10. In the installation procedure, you should see an option to remove Ubuntu 19.04 and replace it with Ubuntu 19.10. Choose this option and proceed as if you are installing Ubuntu afresh.

Are you still using Ubuntu 19.04, 18.10, 17.10 or some other unsupported version?

You should note that at present only Ubuntu 16.04, 18.04 and 19.10 (or higher) versions are supported. If you are running an Ubuntu version other than these, you must upgrade to a newer version.

SimpleLogin: Open Source Solution to Protect Your Email Inbox From Spammers

Monday 3rd of February 2020 04:55:07 AM

Brief: SimpleLogin is an open-source service to help you protect your email address by giving you a permanent alias email address.

Normally, you have to use your real email address to sign up for services that you want to use personally or for your business.

In the process, you’re sharing your email address – right? And, that potentially exposes your email address to spammers (depending on where you shared the information).

What if you can protect your real email address by providing an alias for it instead? No – I’m not talking about disposable email addresses like 10minutemail which could be useful for temporary sign-ups – even though they’ve been blocked by certain services.

I’m talking about something similar to “Hide My Emai for Sign in with Apple ID” but a free and open-source solution i.e SimpleLogin.

SimpleLogin: An open source service to protect your email inbox

It is worth noting that you still have to use your existing email client (or email service) to receive and send emails – but with this service, you get to hide your real email ID.

SimpleLogin is an open-source project (you can find it on GitHub) available for free (with premium upgrade options) that aims to keep your email private.

Unlike temporary email services, it generates a permanent random alias for your email address that you can use to sign up for services without revealing your real email.

The alias works as a point of contact to forward the emails intended to your real email ID.

You’ll receive the emails sent to the alias email address in your real email inbox and if you believe that the alias is receiving too many spams, you block the alias. This way, you completely stop getting spam emails sent to the particular aliased email address.

Not just limited to receiving emails but you can also send emails through the alias email address. Interesting, right? And, using this coupled with secure email services should be a good combination to protect your privacy.

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Recommended Read:

.ugb-ee5fb41 .ugb-blog-posts__featured-image{border-radius:0px !important}.ugb-ee5fb41 .ugb-blog-posts__title a{color:#000000 !important}.ugb-ee5fb41 .ugb-blog-posts__title a:hover{color:#00b6ba !important}Best VPN Services for Privacy Minded Linux Users

Here are our recommendations for best VPN services for Linux users to secure their privacy and enhance their online security. Check it out.

Features of SimpleLogin

Before taking a look at how it works, let me highlight what it offers overall to the Internet users and web developers as well:

  • Protects your real email address by generating an alias address
  • Send/Recieve emails through your alias
  • Block the alias if emails get too spammy
  • Custom domain supported with premium plans
  • You can choose to self-host it
  • If you’re a web developer, you can follow the documentation to integrate a “Sign in with SimpleLogin” button to your login page.

You can either utilize the web browser or use the extension for Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

SimpleLogin How SimpleLogin Works?

To start with, you’ll have to sign up for the service with your primary email ID that you want to keep private.

Once done – you have to use your alias email to sign up for any other services you want.

The number of aliases generated is limited in the free plan – however, you can upgrade to the premium plan if you want to generate different alias email addresses for every site.

You don’t necessarily need to use the web portal, you can use the browser extension to generate aliases and use them when needed as shown in the image below:

Even if you want to send an email without revealing your real email ID, just generate an alias email by typing in the receiver’s email ID and paste the alias in your email client to send it.

Brief conversation with SimpleLogin’s founder

I was quite impressed to see an open-source service like this – so I reached out to Son Nguyen Kim (SimpleLogin’s founder). Here’s a few things I asked along with the responses I got:

How can you assure users that they can rely on your service for their personal/business use?

Son Nguyen Kim: SimpleLogin follows all the best practices in terms of email deliverability to reduce the emails ending up in the Spam folder. To mention a few:

  • SPF, DKIM and strict DMARC
  • TLS everywhere
  • “Clean” IP: we made sure that our IP addresses are not blacklisted anywhere
  • Constant monitoring to avoid abuses.
  • Participate in email providers postmaster programs

How sustainable is your business currently? 

Son Nguyen Kim: Though in Beta, we already have paying customers. They use SimpleLogin both personally (to protect privacy) and for their business (create emails with their domains).

What features have you planned for the future?

Son Nguyen Kim: An iOS app is already in progress, the Android app will follow just after.

  • PGP to encrypt emails
  • Able to strip images from emails. Email tracking is usually done using a 1-pixel image so tracking will also be removed with this feature enabled.
  • U2F support (Yubikey)
  • Better integration with existing email infrastructure for people who want to self-host SimpleLogin

You can also find a public roadmap to their plans on Trello.

Wrapping Up

Personally, I would really love to see this succeed as a privacy-friendly alternative to social network sign-up options implemented on various web services.

In addition to that, as it stands now as a service to generate alias email – that should suffice a lot of users who do not want to share their real email address. My initial impressions on SimpleLogin’s beta phase is quite positive. I’d recommend you to give it a try!

They also have a Patreon page – if you wish to donate instead of opting for a paying customer to help the development of SimpleLogin.

Have you tried something like this before? How exciting do you think SimpleLogin is? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

4 Key Changes to Look Out for in Linux Kernel 5.6

Saturday 1st of February 2020 05:03:55 AM

While we’ve already witnessed the stable release of Linux 5.5 with better hardware support, Linux 5.6 is next.

To be honest, Linux 5.6 is much more exciting than 5.5. Even though the upcoming Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release will feature Linux 5.5 out of the box, you should really know what Linux 5.6 kernel has in store for us.

In this article, I’ll be highlighting the key changes and features that you can expect with Linux 5.6 release:

Linux 5.6 features highlight

I’ll try to keep the list of features up-to-date whenever there’s a piece of new information on Linux 5.6. But, for now, let’s take a look at what we already know so far:

1. WireGuard Support

WireGuard will be added to Linux 5.6 – potentially replacing OpenVPN for a variety of reasons.

You can learn more about WireGuard on their official site to know the benefits. Of course, if you’ve used it, you might be aware of the reasons why it’s potentially better than OpenVPN.

Also, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will be adding support for WireGuard.

2. USB4 Support

Linux 5.6 will also include the support of USB4.

In case you didn’t know about USB 4.0 (USB4), you can read the announcement post.

As per the announcement – “USB4 doubles the maximum aggregate bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.

Also, while we know that USB4 is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification, it will be backward compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt 3 – which is great news.

3. F2FS Data Compression Using LZO/LZ4

Linux 5.6 will also come with the support for F2FS data compression using LZO/LZ4 algorithms.

In other words, it is just a new compression technique for the Linux file-system where you will be able to select particular file extensions.

4. Fixing the Year 2038 problem for 32-bit systems

Unix and Linux store the time value in a 32-bit signed integer format which has the maximum value of 2147483647. Beyond this number, due to integer overflow, the values will be stored as a negative number.

This means that for a 32-bit system, the time value cannot go beyond 2147483647 seconds after Jan. 1, 1970. In simpler terms, after 03:14:07 UTC on Jan. 19, 2038, due to integer overflow, the time will read as Dec. 13, 1901 instead of Jan. 19, 2038.

Linux kernel 5.6 has a fix for this problem so that 32-bit systems can run beyond the year 2038.

5. Improved Hardware Support

Obviously, with the next release, the hardware support will improve as well. The plan to support newer wireless peripherals will be a priority too.

The new kernel will also add the support for MX Master 3 mouse and other wireless Logitech products.

In addition to Logitech products, you can expect a lot of different hardware support as well (including the support for AMD GPUs, NVIDIA GPUs, and Intel Tiger Lake chipset support).

6. Other Changes

Also, in addition to all these major additions/support in Linux 5.6, there are several other changes that would be coming with the next kernel release:

  • Improvements in AMD Zen temperature/power reporting
  • A fix for AMD CPUs overheating in ASUS TUF laptops
  • Open-source NVIDIA RTX 2000 “Turing” graphics support
  • FSCRYPT inline encryption.

Phoronix tracked a lot of technical changes arriving with Linux 5.6. So, if you’re curious about every bit of the changes involved in Linux 5.6, you can check for yourself.

Now that you’ve known about what’s coming with Linux 5.6 release – what do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Planet Changes and Cilium

  • Planet Arch Linux migration

    The software behind planet.archlinux.org was implemented in Python 2 and is no longer maintained upstream. This functionality has now been implemented in archlinux.org's archweb backend which is actively maintained but offers a slightly different experience.

  • Cilium drops 1.7 release, upping insight and manageability

    Network and API connectivity project Cilium has been released in version 1.7, providing users with a UI for observability platform Hubble and the option to apply cluster-wide network policies. Cilium is an open source project developed by US startup Isovalent to provide and secure network connectivity and load balancing for workloads such as application containers or processes. It is based on a virtual machine-like construct called Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) which can be found in the Linux kernel.

OSS and Development

  • Someone is selling the free, open source Playnite launcher on Steam for $100

    Playnite is a free open source PC application designed to be an all-in-one answer to the growing number of game launchers we've all got on our desktops. In other words, it combines libraries from the likes of Steam, Epic Games Store, Uplay and GOG Galaxy, and then lets you organise them however you see fit. Jody tried it last year and came away impressed. I should emphasise the "free" above: it is available straight from the source here and, according to the site, "no features are locked behind a paywall and the complete source code is available under the MIT license". The MIT license basically surrenders the software to any kind of use with no restrictions, including resales.

  • uGet is an open source download manager for Windows and Linux that also supports Torrents and Video downloads

    The GUI has four panes, a menu bar and a toolbar. The Status pane in the top left corner displays all downloads and the ones which are Active, Queuing, Finished, and Recycled (deleted). The total number of downloads for each category is displayed next to its name, and you can click on any of these to see the list of items contained. Switch to the Category pane to jump between the default and the ones you have created. You can use the Category menu to add new sorting options, set the default download folder for each category, maximum active downloads, and also the maximum upload and download speeds. The pane below the toolbar is the download list pane; anything that you select in the status pane is displayed here. It shows the name, the file size of the download that has been completed, the total size, the progression percentage, time left to complete the download, and the upload/download speeds of each file. The View menu can be used to customize the columns that are displayed in the list pane, and the other visual elements of the program. Highlighting an item in the download list brings up its summary on the bottom pane.

  • Open Source Music Tagger Picard 2.3 Released With Custom MP4 Tags Support

    Free and Open source MusicBrainz announced the point release of Picard 2.3 with major changes to the user interface, tag, and desktop integration support. MusicBrainz stores all the metadata of the music and Picard is the official tag editor that helps in identifying and organizing the digital audio recording.

  • For Square Crypto, the Way to Bitcoin Mass Adoption Is Open Source

    When Jack Dorsey founded Square in February 2009, Bitcoin was all of one month old. In fact, Satoshi Nakamoto and Dorsey were likely laying the groundwork for their respective creations concurrently in the year prior. Ten years later, the two would converge in what now seems like an inevitable collision. Square launched its Venmo-like payment service, Cash App, in 2013. The application features common stock investing, and i

  • Gold-nuggeting: Machine learning tool simplifies target discovery for pen testers

    Recognizing this analogy with the precious metals industry, researchers at Delve Labs have developed Batea, an open source tool that leverages machine learning to find valuable information in network device data.

  • ’Second Revolution’ In Electronic Bond Trading

    Sri Ambati, chief executive and founder at H2O.ai, told Markets Media that the firm’s open source platform can perform one billion regressions in less than five seconds.

  • Google ‘AutoFlip’ can resize video using AI

    The way we consume video has changed a lot over the course of the last decade. We now watch videos on our mobile devices from anywhere and because of this, video content comes in a wide variety of formats. Google recognizes this shift and so last week their AI team announced ‘AutoFlip’ an open-source framework for “intelligent video reframing.”

  • This open-source framework, ‘AutoFlip’, can do automated video cropping using AI

    Many times when we see a video on mobile devices is badly cropped, it is not much you can do about it. Understanding this problem, Google’s AI’s team has built an open-source solution on top of MediaPipe, Autoflip, which can reframe a video that fits any device or dimension (landscape, portrait, etc.). AutoFlip works in three phases. The first phase includes scene detection; the second is the video content analysis, and the third is reframing. For this tool, if a video and a target dimension are given, it analyzes the video content. Later it develops optimal tracking and cropping strategies, which finally enables it to create an output video at the same time limit in the desired aspect ratio.

  • Tech Events in Africa: Nerds Unite, Open Source Festival and #CodeZone

    It’s a new week and another opportunity to meet up with like-minded people, become better in your chosen field and seal those deals for your startup. And we at TechNext want to help with a list of tech events happening around you this week.

  • An unofficial version of Brave browser brings native ARM64 support

    Privacy-focused Brave browser launched late last year after almost four years of being in the works. The browser is based on the Chromium open-source project and joins the likes of Microsoft Edge that is built on that platform. However, while Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s offering currently support ARM64 PCs natively in the stable channels, Brave does not. That might change, as Windows Insider MVP Jeremy Sinclair was able to compile an unofficial build of the open-source Brave browser that natively supports ARM64 PCs. The recompiled build (version 1.6.33) uses Microsoft’s ARM64 Chromium libraries and can run natively on those PCs like the Surface Pro X. Samsung Galaxy Book S. Native support results in improved performance and efficiency since the browser will not have to run in emulation.

  • The Brave web browser is taking on Google Chrome: Is it safe?

    The creator of Brave, Brendan Eich, also created JavaScript and co-founded the Mozilla Project that led to the development of the Firefox browser. Brave is based on the open-source Chromium browser that’s also the basis for Google’s Chrome, Opera and most recently Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser. Open-source means that anyone can take the source code and build whatever they’d like out of it, but it doesn’t mean that all the browsers are the same. In the case of Brave, they chose to focus on user privacy by blocking trackers, scripts and ads by default. The natural by-product of blocking all this activity that usually goes unnoticed by the average user is faster load times. Brave can also make use of the wide variety of extensions for Chromium-based browsers via the Chrome Web Store at chrome.google.com.

  • This new tool could improve economic analysis of sub-national climate policies in the US

    Empowered by the Paris Agreement and a lack of national leadership on climate policy in the United States, state and local governments are leading on their own climate initiatives. California, New York and Colorado have set ambitious greenhouse gas emission and renewable energy targets for 2030. Just last week, Massachusetts introduced sweeping climate legislation targeting net zero emissions by 2050. As these environmental and energy policies move ahead, experts need to invest in economic data and tools that allow them to conduct robust economic analysis, to better inform policymakers, stakeholders and the public on how to design robust alternative climate and energy policies.

  • 2020 Open Access Award Finalists Named

    The Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences is a humanitarian/bioethics award presented annually by Bioinformatics.org to an individual who has, in his or her practice, promoted free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences.

  • Are we having fund yet, npm? CTO calls for patience after devs complain promised donations platform has stalled

    At the end of August, JavaScript package registry NPM Inc said it intended "to finalize and launch an Open Source funding platform by the end of 2019." But instead of a platform, what's available at the moment might be better referred to as a feature of the npm command-line interface (CLI). The announcement was received with some skepticism at the time and the project hasn't managed to defy that expectation: There was a minor milestone last November with the addition of the "fund" command to npm v6.13.0. But not much has changed since then.

  • RcppSimdJson 0.0.2: First Update!

    RcppSimdJson wraps the fantastic simdjson library by Daniel Lemire which truly impressive. Via some very clever algorithmic engineering to obtain largely branch-free code, coupled with modern C++ and newer compiler instructions, it results in persing gigabytes of JSON parsed per second which is quite mindboggling. I highly recommend the video of the recent talk by Daniel Lemire at QCon (which was also voted best talk). The best-case performance is ‘faster than CPU speed’ as use of parallel SIMD instructions and careful branch avoidance can lead to less than one cpu cycle use per byte parsed. This release syncs the simdjson headers with upstream, and polishes the build a little by conditioning on actually having a C++17 compiler rather than just suggesting it. The NEWS entry follows.

  • Nvidia Blames ‘Misunderstanding’ for Activision Faux Pas

    When Nvidia Corp. abruptly dropped Activision Blizzard Inc. games from its new GeForce Now service earlier this week, it left customers wondering what happened. Nvidia said on Tuesday that Activision had asked to have its titles removed from GeForce, but didn’t explain why. It turns out that the video-game giant wanted a commercial agreement with Nvidia before they proceeded -- and the situation stemmed from a simple misunderstanding, Nvidia said on Thursday.

Web Standards

  • Inrupt, Tim Berners-Lee's Solid, and Me

    All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I have joined a company called Inrupt that is working to bring Tim Berners-Lee's distributed data ownership model that is Solid into the mainstream. (I think of Inrupt basically as the Red Hat of Solid.) I joined the Inrupt team last summer as its Chief of Security Architecture, and have been in stealth mode until now.

    The idea behind Solid is both simple and extraordinarily powerful. Your data lives in a pod that is controlled by you. Data generated by your things -- your computer, your phone, your IoT whatever -- is written to your pod. You authorize granular access to that pod to whoever you want for whatever reason you want. Your data is no longer in a bazillion places on the Internet, controlled by you-have-no-idea-who. It's yours. If you want your insurance company to have access to your fitness data, you grant it through your pod. If you want your friends to have access to your vacation photos, you grant it through your pod. If you want your thermostat to share data with your air conditioner, you give both of them access through your pod.

  • World wide web founder scales up efforts to reshape internet
  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee's Inrupt is Redesigning the way the web is to Work and Apple is working with them on their Data Transfer Project

    Inrupt, the start-up company founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee to redesign the way the web works, is expanding its operational team and launching pilot projects in its quest to develop a "massively scalable, production-quality technology platform."

  • Inconsistent user-experiences with native lazy-loading images

    The specification for web browser native support for lazy-loading images landed in the HTML Living Standard a week ago. This new feature lets web developers tell the browser to defer loading an image until it is scrolled into view, or it’s about to be scrolled into view. Images account for 49 % of the median webpage’s byte size, according to the HTTP Archive. Lazy image loading can help reduce these images’ impact on page load performance. It can also help lower data costs by clients that never scroll down to images far down on a page. Historically, lazy-loading was implemented by responding to changes in the scroll position and tracking the image element’s offset from the top of the page. This could degrade page-scrolling performance. Comparatively, the new native lazy loading for images is easier to implement and doesn’t degrade scrolling performance.