Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bodhi's ARM Branch Moves to ARMHF

After doing some research and testing for the last week I have arrived at the conclusion that Bodhi's ARM branch will best serve our users by moving our core from Debian Wheezy ARMEL to utilize Debian Wheezy ARMHF. I'm not going to get into the technical difference between the two platforms here - just know that in general ARMHF is faster.

With this change however, there are some slight changes to our ARM repo details. If you have Debian Wheezy ARMHF installed on a device and wish to add the Bodhi repo to your sources the line you want to add is:

deb http://packages.bodhilinux.com/bodhi/ debian stable

Then you just install our bodhi-desktop package as before.

With regards to our officially supported ARM devices, you can find download links to our brand new ARMHF images for the RaspBerry Pi and Genesi Smartbook on our ARM downloads page. Our RaspBerry Pi build is built directly on top of Raspbian and incorporates all of their changes and improvements.

~Jeff Hoogland

Monday, August 6, 2012

That Good Old Linux FUD

Who doesn't love a good Monday morning rant?

I caught this article on the news feed of my favorite Linux news site this morning and I must say it upsets me a lot. The too long/didn't read version of this guy's article is that Android is "usable" for most users, while he finds desktop Linux lacking in the usability department. He cites a number of reasons why the distribution he selected (Fedora) isn't "usable" compared to Android. Honestly all of them are your normal anti-desktop Linux FUD and I am tired of it.

Oh man - all your hardware doesn't work with the distribution you are using, but your Android device works great? Let me guess - you bought a device with Android preinstalled. Your "Linux computer" on the other hand you installed yourself. You also didn't research the hardware. You just expected Linux to work with every piece of hardware that exists. I'm not sure who told you Linux worked with 100% of hardware, but guess what? They lied. Linux works with a great deal of hardware, but not all of it. If you bought your own copy of Windows or OSX and tried to install it on non-supported hardware you better believe their parent companies would tell you to get supported hardware. Why are you treating Linux differently?

Next he goes onto to complain about the difficulties you have to go through when setting up a Linux PC.

Oh man - you downloaded an operating system that has free software principles and you expected it to utilize closed source tools by default? This surprises you? In under an hour on distrowatch you can easily find a distribution that comes with such tools by default. Instead this guy choose the wrong tool for the job he wanted to do and then opted to complain when it didn't work properly.

Next he moves on to complaining about bugs in the operating system.

Oh man - the giant piece of complex software (that you got for free mind you) isn't perfect? Not only that, but instead of having to pay of updates like some operating systems these bugs can often be resolved automatically via the package manager after reporting them? Windows and OSX aren't bug free either. Why are you expecting Linux to be?

Finally he complains about the release cycle of the distribution he is using.

Oh man - you selected a distribution with a six month release cycle, but you don't like updating/reinstalling every six months? I am simply going to make a distrowatch reference again here. There are easily dozens of active projects that this won't happen with. Sadly, you can only lead a horse to water, you can't make it drink.

In closing today I would like to share one last thought of my own regarding desktop Linux. We have not yet gotten to a software world where everyone is ready to install and configure their own operating system. Expecting this to be true is a folly. I would be willing to bet that almost every user that has issues installing Linux (on Linux friendly hardware) would also have issues installing Windows or OSX.

Installing an operating system requires a user to make at least some technical decisions - it is the nature of the beast. Expecting desktop Linux to transcend this is just foolish.

Finally - no matter how good a given piece of software is you can never account for all the carbon based issues that are bound to occur. You know what they say - every time you make something idiot proof they go and make a better idiot!

~Jeff Hoogland

Friday, August 3, 2012

HOWTO: Launch OMXPlayer via a GUI

I'm going to be on an ARM kick for the next two weeks before my fall classes start up. In addition to porting Bodhi to the Pi one of my goals is also to replace my media PC with a Pi. Even though the processor in the Pi is fairly weak, it can decode HD video using it's GPU chip if you use the proper media player. This means that your old favorites like VLC and mPlayer will not work, so we must turn to a tool designed just for the Pi: OMXPlayer.

Now because OMXPlayer is still very new, it is still very basic. So basic in fact it's key bindings (for play/pause/stop/quit) only function if the program is launched via the CLI. Knowing my Fiance and friends who often use the media PC would give me no end of grief if they had to open a terminal to play movies - I set about finding a solution. Today I'd like to share that fairly simple solution with you!

To allow users to simply "double click" on a media file via the file manager and have it open in OMXPlayer you need to create a .desktop file for OMXPlayer. Open a terminal on your pi and run:

sudo nano /usr/share/applications/omxplayer.desktop

For it's contents paste:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=omxplayer -o hdmi %f

Save and close the file (ctrl+x in nano) and you should be good to go! When you double click on a media file in your file browser simply select Open With: OMXPlayer! Please note some users have reported this doesn't work with LXDE - I cannot confirm this though as I only use E17 and it works fine there :)

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

HOWTO: Clone all Programs Installed via Apt

Today I would like to share a nifty trick for cloning your application selections installed via the apt-get package manager. It is as simple as running two commands. First on the system you wish to clone, open a terminal and run this command (which is on pastebin due to blogger formatting issues).

Next, simply copy the package-list to the system you wish to setup a copy on. Finally open a terminal and run:

xargs apt-get install -y < package-list

In the same directory you copied the package-list file too. Please note that this trick only works when your two systems in question have exactly the same sources/operating system version.

~Jeff Hoogland