Tag Archives: opensource

The GNOME Desktop Project Unleashes GNOME 3.0

\r\n\r\n\r\nAfter five years of planning and design, GNOME 3.0 has been officially released. The totally rewritten desktop has had its share of both praise and condemnation in recent months due to what the project describes as “its most significant redesign of the computer experience in nine years.” They further say, the “revolutionary new user interface and new features for developers make this a historic moment for the free and open source desktop.”\r\n\r\n\r\nThe main idea in the redesign was to allow “users to focus on tasks while minimizing distractions such as notifications, extra workspaces, and background windows. Jon McCann is quoted as saying, “we’ve taken a pretty different approach in the GNOME 3 design that focuses on the desired experience and lets the interface design follow from that. With any luck you will feel more focused, aware, effective, capable, respected, delighted, and at ease.” GNOME 3.0 aims to “help us cope with modern life in a busy world. Help us connect, stay on track, feel at ease and in control.” In summary, GNOME 3.0 helps users stay “informed without being disrupted.”\r\n\r\n\r\nMatt Zimmerman, Ubuntu CTO, said, “In the face of constant change, both in software technology itself and in people’s attitudes toward it, long-term software projects need to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant. I’m encouraged to see the GNOME community taking up this challenge, responding to the evolving needs of users and questioning the status quo.”\r\n\r\n\r\nGNOME founder, Miguel de Icaza adds, “GNOME continues to innovate in the desktop space. The new GNOME Shell is an entire new user experience that was designed from the ground up to improve the usability of the desktop and giving both designers and developers a quick way to improve the desktop and adapt the user interface to new needs. By tightly integrating Javascript with the GNOME platform, designers were able to create and quickly iterate on creating an interface that is both pleasant and exciting to use. I could not be happier with the results.”\r\n\r\n\r\nSome of the new features include:\r\n\r\n

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  • Activities Overview at a Glance\r\n
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  • Built-in Messaging\r\n
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  • Redesigned System Settings\r\n
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  • Side-by-side window tiling\r\n
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  • Redesigned file manager\r\n
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  • Faster performance\r\n
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  • Beautiful interface\r\n
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\r\nThe official press release:\r\n\r\n

Groton, MA, April 6 2011: Today, the GNOME Desktop project released GNOME 3.0, its most significant redesign of the computer experience in nine years. A revolutionary new user interface and new features for developers make this a historic moment for the free and open source desktop.\r\n

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Within GNOME 3, GNOME Shell reimagines the user interface for the next generation of the desktop. This innovative interface allows users to focus on tasks while minimizing distractions such as notifications, extra workspaces, and background windows.\r\n

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Jon McCann, one of GNOME Shell’s designers, says of the design team, “we’ve taken a pretty different approach in the GNOME 3 design that focuses on the desired experience and lets the interface design follow from that.” The result: “With any luck you will feel more focused, aware, effective, capable, respected, delighted, and at ease.” GNOME Shell aims to “help us cope with modern life in a busy world. Help us connect, stay on track, feel at ease and in control.” GNOME Shell, he says, will keep users “informed without being disrupted.”\r\n

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The GNOME 3 development platform includes improvements in the display backend, a new API, improvements in search, user messaging, system settings, and streamlined libraries. GNOME 2 applications will continue to work in the GNOME 3 environment without modification, allowing developers to move to the GNOME 3 environment at their own pace. The GNOME 3 release notes include further details.\r\n

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Matt Zimmerman, Ubuntu CTO at Canonical, praises GNOME 3: “In the face of constant change, both in software technology itself and in people’s attitudes toward it, long-term software projects need to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant. I’m encouraged to see the GNOME community taking up this challenge, responding to the evolving needs of users and questioning the status quo.”\r\n

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Miguel de Icaza, one of GNOME’s founders, celebrates the new release: “GNOME continues to innovate in the desktop space. The new GNOME Shell is an entire new user experience that was designed from the ground up to improve the usability of the desktop and giving both designers and developers a quick way to improve the desktop and adapt the user interface to new needs. By tightly integrating Javascript with the GNOME platform, designers were able to create and quickly iterate on creating an interface that is both pleasant and exciting to use. I could not be happier with the results.”\r\n

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GNOME 3 is the cumulative work of five years of planning and design by the GNOME community. McCann notes: “Perhaps the most notable part of the design process is that everything has been done in the open. We’ve had full transparency for every decision (good and bad) and every change we’ve made. We strongly believe in this model. It is not only right in principle — it is just the best way in the long run to build great software sustainably in a large community.”\r\n

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In partnership with Novell, Red Hat, other distributors, schools and governments, and user groups, GNOME 3 will reach millions of users around the world. Over 3500 people have contributed changes to the project’s code repositories, including the employees of 106 companies. GNOME 3 includes innumerable code changes since the 2.0 release 9 years ago.\r\n

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Users and fans of GNOME have planned more than a hundred launch parties around the world. Users can download GNOME 3 from http://gnome3.org to try it immediately, or wait for distributions to carry it over the coming months. GNOME 3 continues to push new frontiers in user interaction.\r\n

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The GNOME Project was started in 1997 by two then-university students, Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena Quintero. Their aim: to produce a free (as in freedom) desktop environment. Since then, GNOME has grown into a hugely successful enterprise. Used by millions of people across the world, it is the most popular desktop environment for GNU/Linux and UNIX-type operating systems. The desktop has been utilised in successful, large-scale enterprise and public deployments, and the project’s developer technologies are utilised in a large number of popular mobile devices. For further comments and information, contact the GNOME press contact team atgnome-press-contact@gnome.org.

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Credits: Susan Linton, Linux Journal

Wi-Fi on the Command Line

More people than ever are using wireless networks as their primary networking medium. Great programs are available under X11 that give users a graphical interface to their wireless cards. Both GNOME and KDE include network management utilities, and a desktop-environment-agnostic utility called wicd also offers great functionality. But, what if you aren’t running X11 and want to manage your wireless card? I don’t cover how to install and activate your card here (for that, take a look at projects like madwifi or ndiswrapper). I assume your card is installed and configured properly, and that it is called wlan0. Most of the utilities mentioned below need to talk directly to your wireless card (or at least the card driver), so they need to be run with root privileges (just remember to use sudo). The first step is to see what wireless networks are available in your area. A utility called iwlist provides all sorts of information about your wireless environment. To scan your environment for available networks, do the following: \r\n

sudo iwlist wlan0 scan

\r\nYou’ll see output resembling:\r\n

Cell 01 – Address: 00:11:22:33:44:55

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ESSID:”network-essid”

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Mode:Master

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Channel:11

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Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)

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Quality=100/100 Signal level:-47dBm Noise level=-100dBm

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Encryption key:off

\r\nThe details (address and essid) have been changed to protect the guilty. Also, the … represents extra output that may or may not be available, depending on your hardware. You will get a separate cell entry for each access point within your wireless card’s range. For each access point, you can find the hardware address, the essid and the channel on which it’s operating. Also, you can learn in what mode the access point is operating (whether master or ad hoc). Usually, you will be most interested in the essid and what encryption is being used. Once you know what’s available in your immediate environment, configure your wireless card to use one of these access points using the iwconfig utility to set the parameters for your wireless card. First, set the essid, which identifies the network access point you want: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 essid network-essid

\r\nDepending on your card and its driver, you may have the option to set the essid to the special value “any”. In this case, your card will pick the first available access point. This is called promiscuous mode. You also may need to set the mode to be used by your wireless card. This depends on your network topology. You may have a central access point to which all of the other devices connect, or you may have an ad hoc wireless network, where all of the devices communicate as peers. You may want to have your computer act as an access point. If so, you can set the mode to master using iwconfig. Or, you simply may want to sniff what’s happening around you. You can do so by setting the mode to monitor and passively monitor all packets on the frequency to which your card is set. You can set the frequency, or channel, by running: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 freq 2.422G

\r\nOr by running: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 channel 3

\r\nYou can set other parameters, but you should consider doing so only if you have a really good reason. One option is the sensitivity threshold, which defines how sensitive the card is to noise and signal strength, and you can set the behavior of the retry mechanism for the wireless card. You may need to play with this in very noisy environments. Set the maximum number of retries with: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 retry 16

\r\nOr, set the maximum lifetime to keep retrying to 300 milliseconds with: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 retry lifetime 300m

\r\nIn a very noisy environment, you also may need to play with packet fragmentation. If entire packets can’t make it from point to point without corruption, your wireless card may have to break down packets into smaller chunks to avoid this. You can tell the card what to use as a maximum fragment size with: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 frag 512

\r\nThis value can be anything less than the size of a packet. Some cards may not apply these settings changes immediately. In that case, run this command to flush all pending changes to the card and apply them: \r\n

sudo iwconfig wlan0 commit

\r\nTwo other useful commands are iwspy and iwpriv. If your card supports it, you can collect wireless statistics by using: \r\n

sudo iwspy wlan0

\r\nThe second command gives you access to optional parameters for your particular card. iwconfig is used for the generic options available. If you run it without any parameters (sudo iwpriv wlan0), it lists all available options for the card. If no extra options exist, you will see output like this: \r\n

wlan0 no private ioctls

\r\nTo set one of these private options, run: \r\n

sudo iwpriv wlan0 private-command [private parameters]

\r\nNow that your card is configured and connected to the wireless network, you need to configure your networking options to use it. If you are using DHCP on the network, you simply can run dhclient to query the DHCP server and get your IP address and other network settings. If you want to set these options manually, use the ifconfig command (see the man page for more information). \r\n\r\n Tips: \r\n

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    You can also change the MAC address with ifconfig if need be.

    \r\n$ ifconfig wlan0 down \r\n\r\n$ ifconfig wlan0 hw ether 00:11:22:33:44:55 \r\n\r\n$ ifconfig wlan0 up \r\n\r\n OR \r\n\r\nUse macchanger

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    You will probably want to look into wpa_supplicant for all your WPA etc needs (I typed in the status command):

    \r\n—————–8<—————–\r\n# wpa_cli\r\nwpa_cli v0.7.3\r\nCopyright (c) 2004-2010, Jouni Malinen and contributors\r\n…..\r\nSelected interface ‘wlan0’\r\n\r\nInteractive mode\r\n\r\n> status\r\nbssid=00:50:7f:95:c1:e0\r\nssid=\r\nid=0\r\nmode=station\r\npairwise_cipher=CCMP\r\ngroup_cipher=CCMP\r\nkey_mgmt=WPA2-PSK\r\nwpa_state=COMPLETED\r\nip_address=\r\n>\r\n—————–8<—————–\r\n\r\nOn Gentoo, make sure driver is compiled in, emerge wpa_supplicant, add this (or similar) to /etc/conf.d/net:\r\n\r\nwpa_supplicant_wlan0=”-Dwext”\r\nconfig_wlan0=”dhcp”\r\n\r\nThen add a stanza like the following to /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf:\r\n\r\nnetwork={\r\nssid=”My_SSID”\r\npsk=”My_WPA(2)_shared_key”\r\n}\r\n\r\nAdd net.wlan0 to default runlevel, start it and forget about it!\r\n\r\nI’m sure that shouldn’t be too hard to replicate on another Linux distro.\r\n\r\nFinally, check the output from:\r\n\r\n#ip a\r\n#ip r\r\n(#ifconfig and netstat -r for the old school)\r\n#dmesg\r\n#less /var/log/messages (or syslog)\r\n\r\nOf course wpa_cli (type help for some command to use)

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    You cannot use “iwlist ra0 scan” while your interface is in monitor mode. Try this:

    \r\nifconfig ra0 down \r\n\r\niwconfig ra0 mode managed \r\n\r\nifconfig ra0 up \r\n\r\niwlist ra0 scan

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  • You can use wireshark to monitor your outcomming packets and see that none of them is bigger than that
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Credits: Joey Bernard, Linux Journal

Rhythmbox – A Tool to Sync Android Smartphones Using Linux

Interest levels in synchronize music collections have notched up a bit of late with the introduction of a plethora of new Android-based super phones. That is, unless you happen to be one of those owners with a large quantity of digital music encumbered by digital rights management (DRM) also known as copy protection. For this purpose, you might want to do some research into converting said digital files into a more portable format. Meanwhile, for the rest, with media ready to load up on a new cool phone, we’ll take a look at Linux options.\r\nThe good news is that Linux has supported the multitude of “dumb” MP3 players since they first started showing up on the market. These devices simply look like an attached USB disk when you plug them in. Android phones use this approach of making their internal storage accessible to your desktop or laptop. Option two for many owners is to remove the internal micro-SD card and sync your files directly by using a SD card reader. While this isn’t a bad option, it often involves removing batteries or at least the battery cover, which is not the simplest task in some cases.\r\n\r\nBasic Ubuntu Sync\r\nUbuntu 10.4 ships with the Rhythmbox media player and totally supports disk-based synchronization. It also includes the features like media player including CD ripping, playlists, podcast downloading and support for Internet radio. Rhythmbox will play virtually any audio format as it’s based on the popular GStreamer media framework. It will even transfer music from an iPod, MTP, and USB Mass Storage music players.\r\n\r\n

Rhythmbox Visualization Image
Rhythmbox Visualization Image
\r\n\r\nRhythmbox is an integrated music management application, originally inspired by Apple’s iTunes.\r\n\r\nThe key features:\r\n

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  • Easy to use music browser
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  • Searching and sorting
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  • Comprehensive audio format support through GStreamer
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  • Internet Radio support including last.fm streams
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  • Playlists
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  • Display audio visualizations
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  • Display album art and song lyrics downloaded from the internet
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  • Automatically download audio podcasts
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  • Browse, preview, and download albums from Magnatune and Jamendo
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\r\nRhythmbox is bundled with many other distributions, If it’s not installed on your box you can download from their site.\r\n\r\nCo-Contributor: Paul