Friday, December 30, 2011

Bodhi Linux Release Schedule

With the recent release of Bodhi Linux 1.3.0 I've had a few questions as to what our release cycle is exactly. I'd like to take a short moment today to clarify what exactly on current release schedule looks like. Our version numbering looks something like this:


Where x represents a major release, y represents an update (or point) release and z represents a bug fix release.

We have a two year major release cycle. These releases will be centered around each new Ubuntu long term support (LTS) release. Our goal is to release our new major version in the July following the release of an Ubuntu LTS. Because we have such a long major release cycle, we will be releasing our "update" releases every three months. The goal of update releases is to keep the software on the LiveCD current and continue making small improvements to the default look of the system. Finally our bug fix releases will happen as needed when an issue is discovered with the default configuration.

And because people like time lines, this is what our release cycle for the next couple years looks like:

1.4.0 March 2012
1.5.0 June 2012 – Last Update release to our 10.04 base
2.0.0 July 2012 – First Stable release to our 12.04 base
2.1.0 September 2012 – First Update release to our 12.04 base
2.2.0 December 2012
2.3.0 March 2013
2.4.0 June 2013
2.5.0 September 2013
2.6.0 December 2013
2.7.0 March 2014
2.8.0 June 2014 - Last Update release to our 12.04 base
3.0.0 July 2014 - First Stable release to our 14.04 base

Pretty straight forward and obviously the only deviation from this list would be bug fix releases that may or may not be needed. Have any questions feel free to drop a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear Open Source Free Loaders

This is an open letter to all the open source free loaders out there - you know who you are.

One day you heard about this awesome thing called free software. You didn't know about the difference between free as in freedom and free as in beer - nor did you care. You came here simply because you heard you could get something for nothing.

As soon as you have your something, you are content - for the moment. Then something does not behave as expected, you can't figure something out or a true issue occurs.

You don't ask for help. 

You don't report there is an issue.

You don't help fix the problem at hand.

You know what you do. We all know what you do. You proclaim loudly for all to hear that the thing you got for free doesn't work properly. You call it garbage. You call it trash. You walk away from the product, leaving it worse for wear. You won't be missed.

In fact, check your Paypal - there is a full refund sitting in your account. Don't come back.

Today, I implore you - don't be an open source free loader. Free and Open Source Software is software written by a community, for a community. Without give an take on both ends (developers and users) things will never improve. The developers have given you software to use, the least you can do is give valid feedback. Remember - if you aren't part of a solution, then you are part of the problem.

A short rant from a sometimes tired developer,
~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

HOWTO: Setup Comp-Scale under Enlightenment

What is Comp-Scale?

Comp-Scale is an Enlightenment module that uses compositing features to allow you to switch between active windows and your current virtual workspace in a fancy method.

Installing Comp-Scale:

If you are using Bodhi Linux comp-scale is installed by default on your system. If you are using a different base system I advise building the latest comp-scale module from the E SVN.

Loading Comp-Scale:

If you installed the module correctly you can now go to Settings->Modules->Look and load Comp-Scale:

Setting Up Comp-Scale:

There are two different methods of settings up Comp-Scale. First you can simply add click-able gadgets (Settings->Gadgets) to your desktop or shelf:

Or you can setup key bindings:

What does Comp-Scale Look Like?

The first gadget - Scale Windows - gives you a composited view of all the windows on your active work space:

The second gadget - Scale all Windows - displays all open applications running across all your work spaces:

Finally, the third gadget - Scale Pager - triggers an overview of all your virtual work spaces:


Short Enlightenment tutorials are something I hope to start doing on a regular basis. The Enlightenment desktop is extremely flexible and there are a great number of things you can do with it. Personally I learned everything I did about the desktop largely by following the IT flow chart and I advise everyone else interested in learning the desktop to do the same. The Bodhi Guide to Enlightenment is also a great resource for learning the E17 desktop.

If there is something you are interested in learning how to do, drop a comment below and hopefully I can address it in a future post

~Jeff Hoogland

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bodhi Linux 1.3.0 Releases

All of our Bodhi users have been good little boys and girls this year it seems! So good in fact we are giving you your present a day early. The Bodhi team and I are happy to announce our next update release - Bodhi 1.3.0. While you will not find any earth shattering new features in this release there are many minor improvements.

Most notably you will find the use of the new "itask" module in three of our profiles, it is far more flexible than our old taskbar module. Also worth noting is that our installer slide show has gotten a much needed make over, along with further updates to our on disc documentation and a pretty new installer icon:

Software wise you will find a fresh Enlightenment desktop built from SVN this week and the Midori 0.4.2 web browser. In terms of themes this release features Agust, BlingBlack, PinkBodhi and Sunshine.

You can find our high speed torrent download here or the slower direct download here. As this is just a minor release current Bodhi users can easily update their systems to these packages following the directions here (it is recommend you do a full reboot or at least X restart after these updates).

In other Bodhi related news I have been hacking happily away at Bodhi for ARM. Beyond our Genesi partner hardware I have been working at getting file systems prepared for the Nokia N900 and the HP TouchPad running Bodhi's enlightenment desktop. These file systems will be based on Debian Wheezy (The current squeeze release lacks enough ARM support to be used).

Finally have a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Great New Year Linux folks. Oh - and don't forget to vote on your favorite Christmas themed desktop this weekend!

Ho, ho, ho - Hoogland over and out!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Application Spotlight: Qalculate!

Today's application is my favorite calculator on a desktop computer (and my N900). It is called Qalculate!:

- All drivers need education before they hit the road. Learn more at Education4Drivers -

Qalculate! has all the features you expect from a calculator and has a fairly straight forward layout:

I like Qalculate! because in addition to being fairly simplistic in appearance it is also a powerful tool. Qalculate! supports creating your own functions and by default it comes with a slew of it's own:

As you may note from the menu Qalculate! also comes pre-programmed with a variety of scientific variables and various unit conversions (because the US is silly and still doesn't use the metric system!).

Beyond the functionality of Qalculate! it is also a well written tool because the calculations/tasks it performs are completed separated from the GUI front end. This means Qalculate! comes with more than one front end, currently it has both GTK and QT options (and I hope to see an EFL front end some day). If you have not yet tried Qalculate! out before I highly recommend it. You should be able to easily find and install it from your distribution's repositories (Bodhi users can also find it in the appcenter).

~Jeff Hoogland

Saturday, December 10, 2011

HOWTO: Force Skype to use Alsa on Linux

Like it or not Skype is a popular piece of software. In fact it is so popular it is the only piece of voice communication software a number of my friends will use. Because of this I have an account an use it on my Bodhi system every now and then (at least it has a native - if poor - Linux client and I don't have to run it via Wine). In case you didn't know - Bodhi ships with just the Alsa sound server by default (there are a number of reasons for this - none of which I am going to get into here) and luckily Skype installs and works perfectly fine with Alsa - until pulse audio shows up that is.

It seems something I installed recently drug pulse audio in with it as a dependency - this would be fine and dandy except for the fact that my Skype audio (input and output) 100% stopped with the addition of pulse audio to my system. Apparently the authors of Skype (in their infinite wisdom) made it so that if Skype is launched while pulse audio is installed Skype will use pulse (and only pulse) without the option to change back to Alsa. As I mentioned above my Skype audio was non-functional under pulse (for whatever reason) so I sought out a method for forcing Skype to use Alsa without having to remove pulse audio from my system.

The Solution -
To start, you need to close Skype and then kill the pulse audio server. To do this in one swift command open a terminal and run

killall skype && killall pulseaudio

Next you need to tell your pulse audio server not to auto launch itself (which it does by default). To do this we simply need to add one configuration setting to a file. To do this run the command:

nano ~/.pulse/client.conf

In the text file that is opened paste the following line:

autospawn = no

Save and close the file (ctrl+x when using nano), launch Skype and you should be good to go.

Hope this saves someone the 20 minutes I spent crawling around Google to track down this information.

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, November 17, 2011

HOWTO: Use APT without the Bloat

Today I would like to share a small tidbit with all the users of APT distros out there. One of the reasons Bodhi Linux is so light weight and snappy is because when I install all the base packages for Bodhi I install them with the minimal amount of extra dependencies.

For whatever reason a good deal of Debian packagers like to tack on a whole slew of "optional" dependencies to the packages they create. By default apt-get installs all of these extra dependencies on your computer. If you are like me and don't want all the extra bloat it is as simple as running apt-get with on extra argument:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends foo 

In the above example "foo" is the name of the package you wish to install. Doing this can save a good bit of space on your system. For example:

sudo apt-get install abiword


sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends abiword


sudo apt-get install k3b


sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends k3b

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One Year with Bodhi Linux

Today marks the one year point from our first Bodhi Linux "0.1.0" release. I feel we have come a long way in such a short time and I am happy with everything the team has accomplished thus far. Would you believe that I first started Bodhi simply because I was tired of having to recompile E on each of my half dozen systems every week?

What has been done in the last year? Well we racked up over 150,000 ISO downloads between source forge and our torrent tracker alone (and over two-thirds of these downloads have been since our 1.0.0 release in March). In addition to disc downloads it would appear more people are actually using Bodhi due to the increase of server traffic (on our main mirror) we have experienced over the last year:

Our forums have also become fairly active. We total almost 30,000 posts now from our 1,600 users.

I would also like to take a moment to thank our community for all the contributions people have made. Our document wiki has been gaining more and more valuable content. It has become a truly great resource.

Beyond this I would like to thank everyone that has contributed a monetary donation. When the Bodhi project first started Ken and I paid out of pocket for all the server costs. Since we opened the door for donations in February we have more than covered our server costs each month. The 150$ our main mirror has cost the last couple months may not seem like much, but it is costly for two students to maintain on their own.

Looking to the future I'd just like to clear up a few release dates and plans our team currently has. First off our next update release (1.3.0) will be out towards the end of December. This will again be something current Bodhi users can easily update their systems to obtain - it's main goal is to keep the LiveCD current. We will continue to have these update releases for our 1.x.y versions until the release of Bodhi 2.0.0

Speaking of Bodhi 2.0.0 - this will be our next "major" release, meaning a full reinstall will be recommended for those wanting to move from the 1.x.y version of Bodhi. 2.0.0 will be re-based on the new Ubuntu LTS 12.04 version. With this version we also plan to add a 64bit version of Bodhi that will have workstations and multimedia production systems in mind. Since Ubuntu 12.04 releases in April expect to see Bodhi 2.0.0 sometime after that, most likely May or June.

While I'm on the topic of new architectures I'd like to also say we will be moving forward with our Debian based ARM build. I'm also excited to announce that Genesi has become a Bodhi Affiliate - meaning we plan to support our ARM build on their hardware once we get a bit further along. We also hope to extend our support to the Raspberry Pi devices as well once they are released.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy using Bodhi!

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Application Spotlight: Parcellite

After getting a few comments on my post about NCDU I've decided I'm going to start doing a few posts a month with the topic of "Application Spotlight". Basically I am going to feature applications I use on my Linux desktop every week that I feel haven't seen enough attention in the FOSS world to date.

Today I would like to talk about a light weight clip board manager called:

- We all have our favorite celebrities. Get high quality posters of yours at IDPoster. -

A clipboard manager is one of those small things I have that make using my Linux desktop more enjoyable (it is also one of the things I miss the most when sitting down in front of someone else's computer). A clipboard manager essentially just saves the last couple of dozen lines you have saved with ctrl+c:

If you can't think of any situations in which a tool like this is useful I ask you to simply use it for a few days and you will find a few. I like parcellite because in addition to being stable it is also light weight, it's installation leaves a fairly minimal footprint (just a few GTK things).

Parcellite is also fairly configurable:

All in all I believe Parcellite is an excellent piece of software. It is almost always one of the first things I install while setting up a newly installed Linux distro. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it.

~Jeff Hoogland

Monday, November 14, 2011

Playing Magic the Gathering on Linux with Cockatrice

If you ask almost anyone that knows me in person they will attest to the fact that I am a huge nerd. Today I would like to give a short tutorial on how I've combined two of my most nerdy passions:

For the uninformed, Linux is my operating system of choice and Magic the Gathering is a trading card game created by Wizards of the Coast. I recently came across an open source application that is being written in C++ and QT4 called Cockatrice that allows you to play Magic the Gathering games over the internet for no charge. I intend to do a full review/overview of all the features Cockatrice offers at some point in the near future, today however I would simply like to go through how the get this excellent piece of software installed and setup on Linux.


If you are using Bodhi Linux then you are in luck, Cockatrice is in our official repositories. Grab it from our App Center or by simply install it by running:

sudo apt-get install cockatrice

If you are running something other than Bodhi Linux that is still Debian based I try to keep the .deb packages I create fairly generic. You can try manually downloading and installing my package from here. If you now have Cockatrice installed you can skip down to configuration section below. 

If that doesn't work (or if you are using some other distribution) compiling Cockatrice from source isn't a huge deal. The exact package names will vary based on your distribution but you need to first install: Git, GCC, QT4 Developmental, QT4 Mobility and Pulse Audio. Next download the source code from here, extract it and run the following from the source directory:

cmake .
sudo make install

Depending on the speed of your system the make lines may take a little while, if all goes without errors you will be set to move on.


Next you just need to take care of a few configuration things and you will be ready to start slinging some cards. If you installed Cockatrice from my Debian package you will have two new menu entries under Applications->Games. First you need to run the Cockatrice card downloader (if you built Cockatrice from source run the command oracle). You will be greeted with a window that looks like:

Click File->Download Sets and then select OK on the window that pops up. Next, check the boxes next to the sets you want to download (really it is best to just check them all) and hit start download:

Wait for this to finish (it will take a while based on how fast your internet is). Once it is done, load Cockatrice (cockatrice if you installed from source). You will be greeted by a configuration window that looks like:

You will need to select the path you want to save your decks and downloaded images in. These can be where ever you want (personally I put them right into my dropbox). The third entry needs to point to the card information you just downloaded though. If you installed with my Debian package this file should be located in /opt/cockatrice/oracle/cards.xml:

Once you set these three paths simply hit close and you should be greeted by the main Cockatrice window. Before you can play you will need to make a deck. The deck editor is select-able from the main menu:

Finally once you have a deck saved you can connect to the main cockatrice server and play a few games:

Have any issues feel free to drop a comment below and I'll do my best to help you out. If you see me online feel free to ask for a game - my user name is the very non-creative "JeffHoogland"

Have fun!
~Jeff Hoogland

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bodhi Linux ARM Repository Online

Five months ago I did a post announcing that we are working to bring Bodhi to ARM devices. I've been rather quiet about this part of our project since then. We are still finalizing the direction this part of our project is headed in, but for now we have landed on the choice of Debian Wheezy as our core. Our repository is currently online and you can easily install our Enlightenment packages on top of your Debian Wheezy ARM install by following these steps:

Edit your /etc/apt/sources.list file and add the following line (yes squeeze is correct):

deb squeeze stable

Save and close the file and then run:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install bodhi-desktop

Let apt work it's magic and you will soon have our customized Enlightenment desktop installed on your system (there are even some extra E modules in the repo). Our goal is to get our ARM packages as polished and stable as our x86 release on a variety of hardware.
I've recorded a short demo video of these packages running in a Debian chroot on my Nokia N900:

As you can see, still a little rough around the edges - but we will be improving these in the coming months. If you wish to help us test packages be sure to leave us some feedback on our forums.

Finally, we will not be officially supporting ArchOS Gen8 devices as we had hoped. The number of lacking closed source drivers they require make it impossible for us to achieve the level of polish on these devices we would like to see. Note the steps above work for installing Bodhi packages on your ArchOS after installing Debian.

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Team Work in Open Source Projects

What makes a great open source project? Well, first off you have to have an idea. Then you need to execute said idea.

Just over a year ago I decided I wanted to help bring an easily accessible, Enlightenment desktop to Linux users that wanted it. Shortly after the Bodhi Linux project was started.

What has made our project the small success it is to date? Well first, we had a fairly unique idea. When we started we are one of very few distros that ship a default Enlightenment desktop.

You know what really helped us get to where we are today though? Team work. The old saying of "many hands make light work" holds true even in the process of software creation. While there is no doubting that I am the face man of the Bodhi project, this enlightening initiative has been a team project from the start. We started off as a small three man team:

Myself: Packaging Enlightenment and building the ISO image.
Jason Peel: Graphics and Web design.
Ken LaBuda: Server setup and upkeep

There is more to running a quality project than just servers and a website though. We soon found ourselves needing document writers, translators, code monkeys and IRC/forum moderators. Without even having to ask community members started coming forward to partake in these various tasks. This only reinforced what we already knew: Bodhi is a project worth having. The fact that so many other people were stepping forward to lend a hand is proof of this. To date we have over 30 people working on Bodhi to make it better for everyone.

Even if a single person had the ability to modify software, write documents, creature video tutorials, translate into over a dozen languages and create a website - there really just aren't enough hours in the day. So do your favorite open source project a favor: reach out and find out how you can help!

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Whats good for the Goose should be good for the Gander

I think many in the world of FOSS take for granted that a good deal of our x86 compatible hardware works with their operating system of choice. In fact all the fuss about a possible lock out with the coming of Windows 8 attests to this fact. x86 hardware has always been fairly free and it should remain as such right?

Yes it should.

Something that really bothers me though is the fact that ARM hardware is treated in a very different way. What do I mean by this? Well as someone who has worked with over a dozen different pieces of ARM hardware from many different manufactures I can tell you installing an alternative operating system on such a piece of hardware is almost never a pleasant experience.

Before I go on I would like to clarify that by "install" I mean physically run the operating system on the hardware. Not just running it inside a chroot like so many Android users seem content to do on their hardware. In my opinion being told to be content with a chroot setup is just like being told I should be happy simply running Linux inside of Windows via a virtual machine.

Even devices that advertise themselves as open source loving (such as my beloved N900) are a nightmare and a half to install something such as Debian on. Don't be fooled by devices that ship things like Ubuntu Linux by default either. I recently purchased a Trimslice with the hopes of installing Debian on it and it has been an up-hill battle to make it work (one I still haven't won). Once you manage to get the operating system installed even that is only half the process - next you have to hope you can somehow get all your hardware functioning.

Why does all this headache happen? Well, partially it is because of lack of standards in the ARM world. A vast variety of hardware that all have different external components make this task difficult. This difficultly is multiplied two fold when you take into account that most of this hardware has no open specifications. 

In the end my question to the open source community is why is this acceptable for ARM hardware? Why do you continue to rejoice about every new Android device that gets released riddled with closed source modules that are next to impossible to make work under actual Linux.

Just as many of you would be upset if you where told that desktop (or laptop) you bought had to keep it's default operating system I am more than a little annoyed that a good deal of the ARM hardware out there comes with this stipulation attached.

~Jeff Hoogland

Monday, October 31, 2011

Shuttleworth Misses the Point Yet Again

I caught an article on entitled:

"Shuttleworth: Linux Power Users Aren't too Cool for Unity"

There are a number of quotes in the article from the originator of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, Mark Shuttleworth, that clearly attest to the fact he is completely missing what so many people find wrong with Unity. He starts with an completely misplaced "fact" for which he does not provide any backing:

"There is a bit of a myth that power users don't like and aren't interested in usability and ease-of use," 

Who ever said this? I've been using Linux for more than a few years now. I read many a different FOSS news wires and never before have I seen this idea thrown around. Perhaps there was an article or two I missed on this topic... At any rate Shuttleworth is going to continue digging a hole for himself:

"There is going to be a crowd that is just too cool to use something that looks really slick and there is nothing we can do for them,"

I can't speak for everyone, but I can at least speak for myself. I am not "too cool" to use something that looks "slick" (I mean comon, have you seen Enlightenment). 

What I'm not about to use though is something that was clearly designed for a touch screen on my computer that has a 15+inch monitor driven by a keyboard and mouse. I'm not about to use something that is resource greedy. And I most certainly not about to use something that makes most all the choices for me about how my desktop should be laid out. I'm the one that is going to be using my computer - so how about I get to choose how the GUI works best for me?

I know everyone is bound to have one of those "open mouth insert foot" moments at one point or another, but Shuttleworth's blatant disregard for why users dislike Unity is just shocking to me. 

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Q&A with Enlightenment Lead Developer "Rasterman"

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Enlightenment desktop. I recently got into contact with the project's lead developer "Rasterman" and we did a little bit of a question and answer session. If you aren't sure on what all the Enlightenment desktop and the EFLs are exactly please see my post here.

How long have you been working on E for?

I remember when I started writing E. Dinosaurs were roaming the earth and things were much warmer... So that was back in 1996.

You've been the lead developer for Enlightenment for some time, did you work on any other desktop environments/projects prior to it?

Prior to enlightenment I was hacking on fvwm. fvm-xpm was a result of my
hacking and rxvt-xpm too. Beyond this I also wrote some trinkets like xflame (display flames in X in a window or on root even) xripple (create reflection ripples on your desktop background in x). Then I got sucked into the bottomless pit that is Enlightenment and have yet to escape.

What inspired you to create another desktop/window manager?

I had an itch. I scratched it. Frankly I just thought X was too plain and ugly
and needed some spicing up. I knew X could do it and people were just not
using the facilities it had, so I did.

In your opinion what are the EFLs strongest advantages over other libraries such as GTK or QT?

Smaller, leaner and built for a more modern graphics era. They are designed from the ground up as a scene graph. GTK and QT are just beginning to explore that and see the light. EFLs have been there and mature for many years now.

How much of Enlightenment/EFLs do you maintain personally?

Not all of them by any stretch. I mostly stick to ecore, evas, edje, embryo, eet, and elementary. Eina I throw things into now and again, but I don't tend to put a lot of time into that one. Efreet, e_dbus and eeze I mostly leave alone. E17 itself I do a large amount of work on still. Of course many others who work on these too to varying degrees, not just me, so it's a team effort.

How many active developers does Enlightenment currently have working on it?

In terms of fulltime developers spending 8+hours per day cranking out code, we have about 5 on a good day. If you just want to talk about the number of people actively sending in patches, it's about 20. If we had more manpower we could do so much more. Many developers just get distracted off into many other things (real life, their day jobs, other tasks etc.) most of the time.

Are you looking for more help with development?


Do you have any tips for aspiring programmers hoping to get started writing applications using the EFLs?

Start with the libraries that make things simplest - start with elementary.
It's the least code to get the most done. Work your way down. Get your head around the idea of a scene graph instead of immediate-mode rendering as well as a mainloop and callback-driven api's and you'll be golden.

I know Samsung funds Enlightenment development, do any other companies sponsor a sizable amount of development?

Right now, other than Profusion, not a sizable mount. There are smaller
companies involved here and there like ordissimo, calaos,, but I don't even know them all and have probably missed a few in my quick answer here.

Can you give us any hints about how Samsung plans to use the EFLs they are funding?

We are using them as part of a mobile platform that's basically a full Linux OS stack like your regular desktop linux distributions. It is being designed for mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and god knows what else (that's all pretty obvious given that it's the mobile os r&d that is doing the work).

As a developer what is your take on Gnome 3 and Unity?

Unity - I haven't been looking at too closely, but my take is that it's causing
a lot of unhappiness amongst users. 

Gnome 3 - seems to have also created a lot of friction. Gnome 3 is now finally becoming tightly coupled like E17. They are in fact moving towards our model of things now, so I would guess it's a vote in favor for us having had the better model to begin with and being ahead of the curve. My general take on any environment that REMOVEs options from the user or makes them exceedingly hard to find or change, is that it does its userbase a disservice to the extreme. If you want to move options to "advanced" dialogs somewhere or something - fine, but removal is just bad.

Anything else you'd like to add/feel is worth mentioning?

In general I think EFL and E get a lot of things really RIGHT. We normally implement many things quietly without fanfare or blogs that you find other DE's and toolkits implementing with lots of publicity about their great new feature. We are a very behind-the-scenes group and are more conservative than most in actual publicity. This is something we really need to break out of somehow and improve. We don't "toot our own horns" enough. I really wish we had 1 or more people just devoted to doing public relations, blogs, announcements, press releases... the works.

I'd just like to say thanks to Raster for taking some time out of his day to field my questions. Hopefully you learned as much as I did.

~Jeff Hoogland

Saturday, October 15, 2011

There is Free Software and then there is Free Software

I think one thing that often confused people when they first get involved with free software is the difference between FOSS and freeware (or shareware). When speaking about open source software in my writings I try to always use the term "FOSS" which is an acronym for "free open source software". The source of this sometimes confusion can be sorted with the Latin statement:

Gratis versus Libre

Which roughly translates to:

"for zero price" versuses "with little or no restriction"

Or to simplify it even further to a common analogy first used by Richard Stallman:

"Think free as in free speech, not free beer."

Should Joe Average the end user care if their software is Gratis or Libre? Whether or not a program is truly free doesn't affect the user user right?


Having a truly open software model ensures that the piece of software you love using today you will still be able to love just as much tomorrow. It means you don't have to worry about a good piece of software having it's code base get bought out. It also means that if a developer chooses to abandon a piece of software other developers are free to continue working on said piece of software.

In fact the only reason for keeping your "free" software free as in beer is to prevent your users from having choice. By not having open standards you can easily lock users into not being able to easily change from using your software later on.

Not all free software is created equal. Some authors believe more in liberty than others - so next time you download a piece of software that is "free" be sure to find out which kind of free it is!

~Jeff Hoogland

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bodhi Linux 1.2.1 and other Updates

At little over a month ago the Bodhi team and I released our second update release. We were unaware at the time that the version of GCC used to compile the kernel on this release had an issue that caused an issue for some users when compiling and inserting extra kernel modules (such as the nvidia drivers and Virtual Box). This update release today contains a kernel in which this issue has been resolved.

If you already installed Bodhi 1.2.0 (or an earlier release) and your system is working fine (odds are it is, this issue was only affecting some users) there is no reason to install this new release. It is simply a bug fix release so the ISO image has the updated kernel by default.

You can find the new ISO image in high speed torrent download here or via direct download here.

Speaking of the nVidia driver - we know that jockey-gtk did not play nicely with Bodhi because we do not force kernel updates as Ubuntu does. Because of this we developed our own GUI tool that automates the installation of the current nVidia driver. You can find that here.

I would also like to publicly announce that our new browser based "App Center" is ready for use. While it may not look terribly different from the software page we had been using for the past several months, this new "App Center" has been written from scratch and no longer utilizes Doku Wiki. Currently the most notable new features are an RSS feed for new applications added and an "instant" search box.

We plan to add more features to the App Center in the future including user accounts that will integrate with our forums. While having an account on the App Center will be optional, it will eventually allow users to rate/comment on applications and most importantly it will allow them to save "App Sets" so that if they install Bodhi on another computer (or reinstall on the same one) they can easily re-download all their software with a single click.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Flashless Future

Adobe Flash

Those two words have driven fear, annoyance and hate into the hearts of many users and developers for some time now. I am here to say today, in case you had not noticed, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I say with certainty that the days Adobe Flash enjoys as a dominant web development tool are numbered.

Don't believe me? Just take a look at the many popular flash based services that are moving away from the stale technology. Two such examples of this are the music streaming service Pandora (which is now fully HTML5) and the popular video streaming site Youtube (which currently offers a beta HTML5 version). Google+ also display any linked to Youtube videos using the HTML5 technology.

It isn't just websites that are predicting the end of flash though. Microsoft recently announced that it's new version of Internet Explorer for Windows 8 on ARM will not support plugins of any sort. In fact they went so far to state the obvious:

Java script and HTML5 technologies are the way of the future for web design.

While FOSS advocates such as myself have felt this way for some time it was wonderful to hear it come from the king of closed source software.

Finally, the last sign that flash will soon be a thing of the past is Adobe's own "Edge Technology". Edge is designed to help web developers create web content using only Java Script, HTML5 and CSS3. When even the creator of flash realizes their  technology is on the way out I hope everyone else does as well.

~Jeff Hoogland

Friday, September 30, 2011

HOWTO: Fix Alps Touch Pad Side Scrolling in Linux 3.0

So in the copious amounts of spare time I don't really have these days I recently got the 3.0 kernel working on my Sony Vaio system. In the wonderful world that is Linux kernel regressions the side scrolling didn't work on the Vaio Alps touch pad with the newer kernel. Thankfully after a good deal of digging I found my solution on the Linux Answer machine.

To get your side scrolling working again run:

sudo modprobe -r psmouse
sudo modprobe psmouse proto=imps

Note you will need to run these commands every time you start your computer (unless you add them to somewhere clever such as your /etc/rc.local file).

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seven Things to do after Installing Bodhi Linux

So you've taken the plunge and opted to install Bodhi Linux. Perhaps you read a recent review or one of the screen shots in our gallery caught your eye. Either way you've got a newly installed system and you might be wondering what exactly to do next. The following are seven things that are a good idea to do on a cleanly installed Bodhi system.

1.) Check for Updates
Bodhi Linux has a semi-rolling release model. By this we mean you can easily upgrade from one minor version to the next and we continue to push out package updates in between releases. To update your Bodhi install open LXTerminal from your applications menu and run:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Enter your password, press enter and then let APT work it's magic.

2.) Read the Quick Start
There are a lot of hard working people on the Bodhi team that try to bring you the best documentation possible. At the same time we know there is a lot of information to absorb when first using Bodhi. Because of this we have assembled everything you need to know to get started right off the bat in one handy guide. It is well worth taking a short while to look it over.

3.) Install Some Software
One of the things you will note about Bodhi Linux is that we have a minimal application set that gets installed by default. Fear not though - there are two powerful, graphical tools at your disposal for installing more software on Bodhi. 

The first is our Application Center. Navigating to this page in the default Midori browser allows you to easily find and install an application for almost every task you can think of with just a few clicks. If you are not certain what software you might need we have assembled to application "packages" that each contain a group of software for making your computer fully functional. Our "Nikhila Application Set" is fully loaded for most any task you can think of and the "Pratibha Application Set" provides a full range of lighter applications that should run quickly even on older computers.
Feel free to take some time to look at all the other software that is listed on the page as well. Maybe even install a game or two.

Can't find what you are looking for on our software page? Don't worry - you can also find Synaptic package manager in your menu which will let you find and install anything in the Bodhi, GetDeb or Ubuntu repositories.

4.) Install Multi-Media Codecs
If you use VLC for your media needs or you only use open source codecs you can skip this step. However if you wish to use a music player such as Clementine or a video player such as mPlayer then you will need to install system wide codecs to support different types of media. You can install media codecs to support almost every media type that exists here. If you also plan to use your Bodhi machine for DVD playback you will also need to install the DVD library from here.

5.) Customize your Appearance
While Bodhi comes with a fairly good range of themes installed by default there are plenty more to be found! You can find over thirty different themes to choose from here. Find the one that best fits you taste/personality. If you are looking for even more customization you can find twenty different icon themes to easily install on your Bodhi system here.

6.) Get to Know Your Profiles
Not to be confused with your "theme", your selection of profile in the Enlightenment desktop determines how your desktop is laid out. When you first installed Bodhi you where asked what type of layout you wanted to have - this was the profile selection. If you come to discover after installing that you don't like your first profile choice (or simply want to try the others), you can easily change it without a reinstall. You can learn how to change profiles and many other things they can do here.

7.) Join the Community
We are generally a friendly lot. If you have a question you can't find the answer to in our document wiki (or if you just want to say hi). Let us know! You can chat with us on our forums or in #bodhilinux on FreeNode IRC.

Have any general questions feel free to drop a comment below as well.

~Jeff Hoogland

Two Years Blogging

September is almost done and with it's end brings to a close my 24th month of writing Thoughts on Technology.

When I first started writing it was largely so I could document things I had figured out how to do technology related. As time progressed I wrote a few opinion pieces though and they took off. In fact they are now largely what I write, I do still publish HOWTO articles now and then though.

Would just like to say thanks to everyone that reads and comments on my work here. Honestly sometimes the comments are just as good (or better) than my posts :)

Beyond just Thoughts on Technology I have done guest posts (or have feeds) on a few different new websites now:
Happy computing all.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That Whole Windows 8 Secure Boot Ruckus

It was recently announced that Windows 8 would support a shiny new feature that is known as "secure boot". In case you have been living with your head under a technological rock for the last couple of weeks, this feature would allow hardware vendors would have the option of only allowing operating systems signed with their secure key to boot on the hardware.

This means that Linux, BSD and even older versions of Windows would not be able to boot on the hardware that ships with secure boot enabled.

A good deal of open source operating system users are upset at this announcement - and with good reason. Having a physical hardware lockout to prevent alternative operating systems from being used is very much bad news bears. Now, before I continue I'd just like to say I do not endorse Microsoft in any way, in fact I don't have any of their software installed on any of my (many personal computers). If you don't believe me take a little bit of a closer look around my blog.

That being said - I think everyone that is crying foul on Microsoft about this whole secure boot thing really needs to reexamine what is going on here.

Microsoft is simply adding a feature to their operating system. What do I mean by pointing this out? Simply that if a market lockout does happen at the hardware level it is the hardware makers you need to be outraged at. Just as easily as they can give their hardware key to Microsoft they can also give it to Linux distributions. In fact it will ultimately be up to the hardware maker whether they have secure boot enabled in their hardware at all.

Meaning that if you are really worried about the future of this feature - start contacting hardware vendors and stop attacking Microsoft for adding a feature to their operating system. In reality only time will tell what will happen with the addition of this feature to Windows 8.

I don't see anyone getting outraged at Google because they allow device makers to lock down ARM hardware. In fact ARM hardware is one of the hardest things around to install an alternative operating system to. Where is the outrage over this if we really want to see true software freedom for all devices?

If you are looking for more reading on this subject check out this excellent post.

So until we see how things pad out just chill out and keep using your favorite penguin powered operating system.

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The State of Linux on ARM

Linux was designed to be a platform with freedom in mind. This freedom created in the computer industry something all humans should have - the power of choice.

ARM is often touted as one of Linux's largest successes. Thanks to Google's Android platform it is true that a penguin powers at least half of the world's mobile devices today.

Is this a bit of a hollow victory though?

Even with Android being as rampant as it is, if you have been by my blog here before you know I am not a fan of it.  Earlier this year I described six reasons why I believe Android is fairly separated from Linux.

It appears I am not alone in my line on thinking here. Richard Stallman, the father of free software, himself appears to also agree (at least somewhat) with me:

"Google has complied with the requirements of the GNU General Public Licence for Linux, but the Apache licence on the rest of Android does not require source release. Google has said it will never publish the source code of Android 3.0 (aside from Linux), even though executables have been released to the public. Android 3.1 source code is also being withheld. Thus, Android 3, apart from Linux, is non-free software, pure and simple."

I said earlier Linux is all about choice though - so there have to be other mobile choices right? Well... There are some. In fact over a year ago I wrote why I was hoping for the Meego platform to take off.

Some thirteen months later it appears that the Meego project is waning in supporters though. While Nokia will be releasing the Meego powered N9 (not to mention the N9 is deb based, so its not fully Meego), they have basically abandoned free software for the long haul. The other partner behind Meego, Intel, appears to be splitting their focus as well.

So where does that leave Linux on ARM? As far as production devices go, it doesn't leave much of anything. Debian, Ubuntu and even Bodhi have ARM builds, but we have yet to see any of these options taken and mass produced successfully as of yet.

Only time will tell where Linux will end up in the world of mobile devices. It is fairly obvious though if you are a true free software supporter - You should not be one of the people hoping for Android to dominate.

~Jeff Hoogland

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bodhi Linux Service Pack 2 Ready

Ten days ago the Bodhi Team and I released our second update to Bodhi Linux 1.0.0 Today I am happy to let all of our users that have limited or no-internet access machines know that our service pack 2 is ready for download. For those that do not know our service packs allow for a single download upgrade of your Bodhi system from the previous stable release to the current (those still on Bodhi 1.0.0 will need to install service pack 1 followed by service pack 2).

You can download this latest service pack from here.

Install Images:

 Install Video:

Have any questions feel free to drop a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Something Gnome3 and Unity could Stand to Learn from Windows 8

I've mentioned a few times now that I don't understand this touch infatuation technology has developed in recent years. What ever the reason, there is no doubting this technology is going to be around for some time. In the Linux world the releases of the Gnome 3 and Unity desktops have been pushing a touch-geared interface not only to touch-screen devices, but also the large screen of your home PC! Mac's OSX followed this line of thinking and it appears Microsoft's Window 8 will be no different:

Windows 8 Default Interface

It is still early, but there appears to be one important detail that Microsoft is getting correct that Gnome 3, Unity, and OSX all seem to have failed at.

They are making it easy to switch to a classic desktop.

If Microsoft's choke hold on the market still is any indication we should all know end users are very resistant to change. Up and redesigning the entire desktop experience because you think it is "for the best" is not about to win you any awards. 

Sure Ubuntu 11.04 has a "classic desktop" login, but this will be removed in the 11.10 release. Sure Gnome 3 has a "fall back" mode, but you have to dig through settings to get to it and calling it "fall back" makes it sound like something is wrong with your computer if you are using it (which is half true as it is intended for use on systems that lack 3D acceleration). Not to mention this fall back mode supports far less options than Gnome 2 had, but then Gnome 2 also had less customization than Gnome 1, smell a pattern anyone?

So please, Gnome 3 and Unity developers (heck even OSX) take a hint from Windows 8 (because you sure as heck haven't taken any hints from Enlightenment) and make a stand desktop configuration option a priority - not an after thought.

~Jeff Hoogland