A new system tray?

The system tray has remained mostly the same for decades, a few icons sitting on a panel displaying some information about the system and providing a shortcut to some features. In Plasma 5 the system tray has been reimagined to some extent. The widgets that sit on it have been redesigned and improved vastly. If you take a look at the history of KDE or Windows (or more recently Chrome OS) you can promptly some some of these pieces have been redone many times over the years (for example, the network manager). On the other hand, if you take a… Continue Reading

Review: Netrunner 14

The new version of Netrunner is here. For some users, the most important part of this release will be its LTS nature. Since Frontier is based on Kubuntu 14.04 it will receive updates for the next 5 years. For others, like myself, the most important part is the new features and improvements over the last iteration. What’s new? Improved System Settings The first thing I noticed was the Web Accounts icon was missing. I was rather surprised by it, then I opened up System Settings and you can still find it there under Social Accounts. Despite my initial surprise (purely… Continue Reading

“Won’t Freya be free?” – The cost of software

One of the most original distributions out there is Elementary OS. The first version was hyped quite a lot, it wasn’t perceived by many as yet another distribution, they were in a mission to create a new desktop environment built on top of many of GNOME 3’s technologies. Elementary OS is perceived more along the lines of the likes of Linux Mint, Netrunner and Deepin. In fact, all four were featured in a recent article on OMG Ubuntu entitled Better than the real deal? 5 popular Ubuntu based distros. Yet the developers of Elementary OS found themselves in quite a… Continue Reading

Free software and governments

Is proprietary software ethical? This is a hard question to tackle, one that I may attempt to answer in the future, for the time being I will content myself with trying to answer the much weaker question of what kind of software the government should use, i.e. Is the use of proprietary software by the government unethical?. However, it’s worth noting that the nature of the question is similar but differs in an important way: The general problem places the burden of moral responsibility on the developer, the second puts the burden on a specific kind of buyer. How do… Continue Reading

Can Linux benefit from the obsoletion of Windows XP?

Soon Microsoft will end support for its aging Windows XP. I’m sure most readers are baffled, rightly so, by the idea that people would still choose to use it. Yet is second in number of users: According to Net Marketshare almost 30% of computers still run XP. The real number is likely even higher as it seems reasonable to expect many machines running XP don’t connect or connect as often the web as do machines running modern operating systems. This presents what is perhaps a unique opportunity to push Linux into mass adoption. Moreover, there’re many incentives that promote governments as… Continue Reading

Wishfix part 2: Amarok.

Once upon a time Linux had what I think was the best music player/manager, its name was Amarok and people even brought it up as a way to try convince others to move to Linux, intelligent playlists, auto fetching of cover arts, lyrics, last.fm integration, etc, and it was great. Fast forward a few years (almost a decade to be fair) and now Amarok and all KDE music players seems to be lacking, with KDE 5.0 maybe this is the time to fix it. A cluttered mess. Look at the following picture. Is super cluttered, but what always catches my… Continue Reading

Review: Video Transconding made easy.

More and more people own a variety of devices with different screen sizes, different resolutions and different codecs. Converting videos to a supported format, that looks good from image to subtitles, while keeping the size controlled, can be a harder task than it sounds. Thankfully there’s a pretty handy open source application called Handbrake. Useful presets Video decoding settings can be daunting to new users, and selecting the right settings requires a lot of trial and error, moreover video encoding isn’t the fastest task out there so it can end up being very time consuming. Handbrake offers a set of… Continue Reading

Column: Thank you Ballmer. An open (source?) letter.

Thank you Ballmer. Thanks to your bright leadership Microsoft is better than it has ever been. Stocks have gone up incredibly in these few days since you announced your retirement, stock holders know about your incredible job so they’re just giving you a few millions as a parting gift. Look, I know it has been a bumpy ride and  running a multinational conglomerate with over 100,000 employees is something I can only begin to imagine. I do think I’m adequate at looking at data and judging software though. Under the command of the now philanthropist Bill Gates, previously known for… Continue Reading