Friday, March 30, 2012

Clarifying details about E17 and Compositing

I just wanted to take a moment to clarify the state of compositing with the Enlightenment desktop. In two recent reviews of Bodhi Linux the authors mucked up a few of the details concerning compositing and E17. I can't really fault them for their misinformation (as a whole both are really good write ups) because the details about compositing and E17 aren't very well documented. Today I would like to clarify a few things about using compositing with Enlightenment DR17.

First - there are currently two different compositing engines for Enlightenment. One of these is "Ecomorph" and it is the most commonly referenced when talking about compositing and E17. Ecomorph is not housed in the official E SVN and is not installed in Bodhi by default (you can find details on getting the Ecomorph source code here). Ecomorph is a slightly rough port of the famous "compiz fusion" for Enlightenment. It does not provide a consistent experience across a variety of hardware and it is no longer under active development - thus it is not recommended for usage.

For those who want a pleasant compositing experience with Enlightenment the E team has been developing their own compositing manager from scratch. E's compositing manager functions either via a software engine or with OpenGL support. This compositing engine is not based on, nor does it have any ties to Compiz. This is also the compositing engine you will find in use on the "Compositing" profile Bodhi ships with. This engine is not as feature rich as Compiz as of yet, but slowly it is gaining more and more advanced features.

If you have any questions or if anything is still unclear feel free to drop a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

HOWTO: TI-83 Emulator on Linux

When you are trying to show a classroom full of students how to enter a complicated equation into their calculator it is pretty much always best to give an example. In order to do this in an effective manner I like to be able to display the calculator on the projector. Most students today have a TI83/84 model so being able to have an emulator for one of these on my laptop is essential. The following is how I went about getting a TI-83 emulator setup on my Bodhi Linux machine:

First - Download, Compile, and install Tilem

My TI emulator of choice is called "Tilem". It is an open source project and you can download the latest source code here. Extract it's contents and do the:

sudo make install

dance that compiles so much software. If the software doesn't compile for you first try be sure to check the README file and the configure script output - odds are you are simply missing a build dependency. If you can't figure out the issue on your own pastebin the error message and post it in the comments - I'll do my best to lend a hand.

Second - Obtain and use a ROM Image

There are a few different ways to get an image of a TI-ROM. You can dump the ROM off of a physical calculator you own (mildly complicated, check that README file for details on this) or you can hit Google. I found a good TI83 download here.

Next simply launch


and point it to the location of your calculator ROM file. Once you select it your TI emulator should appear on screen:


~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Best Linux Desktop Environment is...

The one that works best for you.

Plain and simple - case closed. You shouldn't be using the desktop that I tell you works best. You shouldn't be using the desktop that Linus Trovalds tells you works best. You know what works best for your needs - no one else does.

Want to know how many different Linux desktops I tried before I eventually settled on E17?
  • KDE 3.5
  • Gnome 2
  • XFCE
  • LXDE
  • Openbox
  • KDE 4.x
  • Unity
The important thing is that whatever desktop you are using allows you to be productive and doesn't hinder your work flow (and if it is pretty that is a plus).

If you are unsure about which desktop is best for you with all the recent changes that have come about in the Gnome/Ubuntu camps I encourage you to go grab some LiveCDs that feature the latest versions of the various desktops and give them a try. By that I mean a real try - don't just boot the system up, use it for 15 minutes and think you are an expert. Use the desktop for your everyday tasks for a few days, see if it feels right. Find out things you like/don't like and discover things that make each different desktop unique.

Everyone knows I love E17. I enjoy using it because it is fast, flexible, and --- when I want it to be --- flashy.

What is your desktop of choice on your FOSS operating system and why do you stick with it?

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bodhi Linux 1.4.0 Released

The end of March is approaching and that means our first quarter update release is here! As is the case with all our update release packages are fairly fresh. Enlightenment has been built from a fresh SVN pull from March 20th and the default Midori browser has been updated to the latest release:

A more current build of the Linux kernel is in use as well. We are using the 3.2.0-19 build from upstream Ubuntu sources this release:

Beyond that you will find current versions of other non-default software in our repositories including Firefox 11, Chromium 17 and LibreOffice 3.5

A new feature this LiveCD sports that previous releases lacked is the ability to boot fully into system memory (RAM). Selecting this option will take slightly long for the live environment to boot (and needs at least 512meg RAM) - but once it is fully loaded things will run much quicker than they do from the CD and you can even eject/remove the disc! Neat right?

We also implemented a number of minor improvements to the base system. These include resolving an issue that had prevented PCManFM's application menu from working:

E17's everything module calculator feature now works out of the box:

Enlightenment's notification module is now enabled by default in our profiles:

Our setup wizard got some much needed color improvements:

and finally - as always - the default theme selection got a rotation:

On the release schedule I posted back in December I detailed that we would be having one more update release (1.5.0) to our 10.04 base before Bodhi 2.0.0 releases based on Ubuntu 12.04 I am currently undecided if I still want this to be the case or if the team and I will move directly to working on 2.0.0 - at any rate don't expect our next stable release till some time in June!

Oh - almost forgot. If you want to download our 1.4.0 release you can find a directly download hosted via source forge here or I always like to recommend using (and seeding!) our high speed torrent download found here. Current users please remember this is simply an update release - meaning you can upgrade your current Bodhi release to 1.4.0 by following the instructions found here.

~Jeff Hoogland

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lenovo ThinkVision USB Monitor Review

I picked up a new toy a couple of weeks ago - a secondary monitor for my multitude of computers. The screen I picked up though a slightly different from your every day monitor. Lenovo recently released a USB monitor called the Lenovo ThinkVision:

The ThinkVision sports a 1366x768 resolution (720p for you media centric folks out there) and has a nice crisp image. The reason I opted for a USB monitor is because my favorite netbook lacks a standard video out port (plus now with my normal laptop I can have a three monitor setup!). Another thing worth mentioning is that is addition to connecting to your PC via two USB ports - the ThinkVision also draws all of it's power through USB, meaning you won't have to scramble to find an additional outlet when using this extra screen.

So far I've just been using the screen as a nice large terminal at home when using my netbook. I have several weekend trips planned for this summer and the ThinkVision is designed to be mobile. It has a built in stand:

 and it comes with a protective plastic cover that can clip over the screen when transporting the monitor.

Like a good deal of hardware the ThinkVision only comes with a driver disc that supports Windows operating systems. Thankfully the screen uses the same display driver as most USB display adapters - DisplayLink. OSX users can find a driver download here and my fellow Linux users out there should be happy to know that DisplayLink drivers have been in the mainline kernel since the 2.6.38 release (meaning they are included in most modern Linux distributions by default).

The price tag on the ThinkVision is 200 USD and you can pick one up directly from them here.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HOWTO: APTURL with Midori Browser

The Bodhi Linux App Center utilises APTURL technology to allow users one click install for popular Linux software. We also ship with the Midori browser by default. If you are using a different Debian based distro and wish to have APTURL function in the Midori browser following is what I do to make it work on Bodhi:

In your ~/.local/share/applications directory create a file called:


For it's contents paste in:

[Added Associations]

Finally we need to create one more file. In your /usr/share/applications make a file called:


For it's contents paste in:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=apturl %u

Note that you will need root access (or sudo) to create this second file in the proper location.

Restart Midori and now clicking on APTURL links should work (make sure you also have APTURL installed).

~Jeff Hoogland

Get Your Linux Game On

I've done a number of posts in the past complaining about a lack of support for Linux based operating systems from main-stream game companies. Today I would like to highlight a few different high-calibre game titles that bring Linux support to the table.

Oil Rush

Status: Available Now

Cost: 20 USD

Oil Rush is a truly interesting mash up of a game. From the creator's website:

"Oil Rush is a real-time naval strategy game based on group control. It combines the strategic challenge of a classical RTS with the sheer fun of Tower Defense. "

Savage 2

Status: Available Now

Cost: 0 USD (with premium content available)

I once heard Savage 2 described as a FPS-RTS-MMO-RPG, this description isn't that far from the truth. Savage 2 has combined some of the best elements from all of these types of games.

Deep Black

Status: In Development

Cost: 30 USD

Deep Black is an arcade style, single player, third person shooter. It utilises a variety of different terrains namely water and ground.


Status: In Development

Cost: TBA

I'm going to be a bit biased here and admit this is a game I'm waiting excitedly for. From the game's website:

"Cradle is a science-fiction first-person quest with freedom of movement. The story is built around the relations of the protagonist and a mechanical girl, who by enigmatic circumstances find themselves together in a yurt among the desert Mongolian hills. The player is to restore the lost functions of his companion's mechanical body parts and together reveal the mystery of the neglected entertainment park found not far from the yurt."

Whew! Some good entertainment to enjoy now and some to look forward to that all runs natively on my favourite penguin powered operating system.

It is nice to see more game companies are seeing the value in producing cross-platform entertainment. Hopefully more will continue to follow suite.

~Jeff Hoogland