Greetings! This is just a quick notice to any RSS or other readers that the Ainer.org/News site and RSS feed are being merged into the main Ainer.org site. We have just rolled out a new theme and all news articles have been moved over. Nothing further will be updated or added to this site so please update your links and feeds accordingly!
Posted: August 11th, 2011
at 11:05am by daemox
Comments: No comments
The Humble Bundle is once again offering up a lot of five indie games at the “pay what you want” price tag. This is the second Humble Bundle offered this year and will be open for purchase for the next two weeks. The Humble Indie Bundle features a collection of games that are DRM free and run natively on GNU/Linux systems. If bought separately, they could cost you around $50. However, the Humble Bundle allows you to determine what you want to pay for the collection.
In addition to deciding how much you pay, you are also able to decide how it is distributed. For example, you could donate it all to the game developers, or you could donate a percentage to two great charities, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play (both of these charities are ones that Ainer.org wishes to support further in the future). The EFF does some great work with digital rights on very limited resources (you can follow their progress on their blog, Deeplinks), and Child’s Play charity helps bring fun and games to children in hospitals around the world.
Once you have made your purchase, you can download the games directly from HumbleBundle.com (you will receive a unique link after purchase). Additionally, you will receive Steam and Desura activation codes, allowing you to add the games directly to your respective game libraries. While neither Desura or Steam currently offer a native Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or GNU/Linux client, you can run the Steam client quite well using Codeweaver’s Cross Over Games software, and Desura mentions on their home page that they are currently working on Linux support.
Posted: July 26th, 2011
at 11:51am by sedux
Comments: No comments
Well, it has been a (relatively) long wait, but it looks like it’s finally here, an application like Couch Potato and Sick Beard, but for music! Headphones is a very young project (first commit was posted on May 20, 2011), but is already showing significant promise!
For those that aren’t familiar, Sick Beard and Couch Potato (and now Headphones) are programs that function similarly to a Personal or Digital Video Recorder (PVR/DVR). These programs can be configured to monitor certain shows, movies, or artists (respectively) and will actively search for any relevant and desired content. Once a show, movie, or album is found it will be sent to SABnzbd+ so that it can be downloaded. Once downloaded, Sick Beard, Couch Potato (and soon, Headphones) will take the show, movie, or album and rename it properly, fetch any relevant meta-information (posters, fan art, trailers, lyrics, etc), move it to the proper directory for storage, and then tell XBMC Media Center to update its library with the new content.
From start to finish, using Sick Beard, Couch Potato, (soon, Headphones), SABnzbd+, and XBMC provides for an extremely automated, low maintenance, and polished media center experience. This has been a major focus of the guides at Ainer.org, and Headphones should round out that last missing media type (music).
I have been actively on the lookout for a program to fill this roll for months and while there have been some potential candidates (Audio-Matic, FlexGet), none have really shown themselves to be in the same ease of use realm or of a similar design philosophy as Sick Beard and Couch Potato. Headphones is the first that I’m really excited by and I’m already running it for testing purposes.
Like Sick Beard and Couch Potato, Headphones is a python based project and the installation is going to be very familiar to those already running Sick Beard or Couch Potato. Similarly, Headphones runs great under Ubuntu or Linux Mint (and will also run under any other Operating System that supports python). While Sick Beard utilizes TheTVDB.com and TVRage.com for metadata and scraping, and Couch Potato uses TheMovieDB.org and the IMDb.com, Headphones uses MusicBrainz. MusicBrainz is similar to TheTVDB and TheMovieDB in that it is an open and community resource that relies on the community for contributions.
As Headphones is a very new project, it is still quite rough around the edges and is currently more of a proof-of-concept than a ready-to-use application. With that said, the main developer has clear goals and plans for the application and has been working on it steady since the initial commit not even two months ago. Given enough time, and the growing interest it is already receiving I have little doubt this program could be right up there with Sick Beard and Couch Potato in terms of ease of use, and functionality.
For those that are itching to give it a go, it currently does not support post-processing and is unable to determine what albums are already in your collection. It can determine which artists are in your collection, and can be used to automate searching for new content but it wont rename what is found and wont even track new content (there are only two statuses for media currently, skipped and wanted). In a future release the developer plans to use beets for the post processing.
Apart from the lack of post-processing currently, Headphones refers to iTunes frequently in its webui, though this apparently can be ignored and “music folder” read in its place. If, like me, you prefer free or lossless formats, Headphones currently focuses on MP3s primarily with an option to also search for FLAC files. There is also no mention of Ogg or any other format or quality options (at this time). Also, before anyone asks there is no auto-update (though it is already the most requested feature and is slated for the next release)!
Again, this is a very new program that is not ready for mainstream users by any means. But if you’re more technically inclined, and wish to help in testing or just sate your curiosity by taking it for a spin, it’s definitely worth doing so. I will be running a copy from here on out and look forward to watching this project mature.
Before I close, I wish to thank Mar2zz for referring me on to Headphones. Mar2zz maintains a Dutch language website that writes guides and news similar to Ainer.org (and has based some guides off of ours). For those of you that read Dutch, or that wish to use Google Translate, a link to Mar2zz’s site, Entertainment from the Sofa can always be found under our Featured News & Community Site links on the far right column!
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Scientific research is exhaustive, time consuming, and often frustrating, especially when the results don’t turn out. What’s more, when publishing research articles, fellow scientists, colleagues, and the general public tend to be unaware of the amount of work put into the research, as the paper published only contains the best of the best in terms of results and findings. All the other data collected, the procedures used, the false starts, unpredictable mistakes and surprises that happen along the way go unnoticed, stored away in boxes to collect dust.
But why? Why do scientists hide 90% of what they do? Are they afraid of their research being stolen? Are they worried that others in the scientific community may criticize or challenge their findings? Or is it just that they have gotten so used to doing their research behind closed doors that they stopped looking for a new way to do things? Whatever the reason, it seems that scientists should be collaborating and brainstorming together, utilizing the community resources available in order to better their research.
Recently, I discovered CoLab. Founded by Casey Stark, a Ph.D. student in astrophysics, and DJ Strouse, a senior working towards a degree in physics and mathematics, this online science collaboration tool hopes to innovate the way scientists do their research work. The site aims to open-source science by having researchers post and update their work as they are working on it, rather than hiding their work until a journal picks up the polished manuscript.
While there are several reasons why this concept is so amazing and innovative, perhaps one of the best aspects is the potential to get help from the scientific community. Often with research, scientists stumble into areas that they know very little about, and when their research team can’t figure out the answer, some of these questions get ignored or tossed to the side. With CoLab, a research group could pose the questions to the community, and get answers quickly from some of the top scientists in the field. This could further add to their research, or even become the start of a new project.
CoLab could be the start of a new, better way of doing science. Unfortunately, the project has not been updated in a while, perhaps due to a lack of interest or a lack of time. With that said, hopefully if enough new interest is generated, the founders will update it, or perhaps hand off the project in an attempt to keep it going. Having research out in the open allows scientists to get help when they need it, get exposure for their work, perhaps even secure funding for their projects. CoLab could allow all of this to happen, given time, interest, and exposure. So I strongly encourage anyone interested (not just scientists!) to head over to their site, join, and help revive open source science!
Posted: June 29th, 2011
at 5:08pm by sedux
Comments: 1 comment
Well, I’m back.
I had planned to do several updated guides and news articles following the Linux Mint 11 (Katya) release and, in fact, I did a lot of prep work for articles and guides that I may never publish (at least, not in full). Instead, I ended up changing gears mid-way through, had some other priorities come up, and am now coming back to this.
The “changing gears” reference is the focus of this article as I have decided to migrate back to Ubuntu from Linux Mint. With that said, this is not something I do lightly, nor something I am likely to do again anytime soon (if ever again).
I try to provide stable and reliable suggestions (with related content) and switching desktop operating systems or distributions every several months does not lend itself well to this goal. However, these changes have been made in seeking the absolute best base that is currently available for the rest of the software I recommend as well as the base that provides the greatest degree of ease-of-use for the most end-users no matter what their current experience is.
This transition back to Ubuntu is mainly in response to some positive changes in ease-of-use that the Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) release has brought with it. One of these changes is the ability to allow the automatic installation of Flash, closed-source drivers, and support for MP3 and other non-free media while installing Ubuntu.
Comparatively, Linux Mint automatically includes out-of-the-box support for Flash, MP3′s, and the playback of most other media files. At the time, this more complete out-of-the-box experience was one of the reasons I ended up going back to Linux Mint 10 (from Ubuntu 10.04). So, now that Ubuntu includes this, (and in fact, installs even more software automatically such as NVIDIA’s proprietary drivers), it has, at very least, removed one of the reasons I had for sticking with Linux Mint.
Additionally, after testing Unity, Xfce 4.8, and Linux Mint 11′s interfaces, I’m confident that Unity is the strongest option for the future of Ubuntu and GNU/Linux on the personal computer. As such, I don’t wish to delay migrating to it, learning it, and supporting it.
I favor Unity in part, simply because it is a more modern and polished looking interface. At the same time, with additions such as the application search function, and the Macintosh OS X dock-esque application bar, it should also be easier, quicker, and more consistent to use.
This was another draw Linux Mint had. Compared to the traditional Gnome 2 menu, their mintMenu is much easier to instruct people through when they are learning as they can simply type in (in general terms) what they want to find and more times than not the relevant setting or program will be presented to them. This type of functionality can be a huge boon to novice users switching over for the first time (as I have witnessed first hand). And again, now that Ubuntu has a similar feature this unique benefit that Linux Mint previously had has been removed.
Apart from the greatly improved ease of use in Ubuntu 11.04, I also discovered a feature that I took for granted in Ubuntu is not present in Linux Mint (not for standard users anyway). The ability to upgrade without re-installing from scratch does not exist in Linux Mint (through normal means).
The Linux Mint developers have sound reasons for not supporting this, and provide additional tools to ease the fresh install. However, with an operating system that’s upgraded bi-annually it’s simply unreasonable to expect people to either spend their time and energy to do a fresh install, or to forgo a (possibly much needed) upgrade.
This situation is especially awkward for an operating system that specifically targets novice users, as this adds a greater burden to them (or to those that support them). For example, instead of a novice user simply backing up their essential files and then clicking on the Upgrade to a new release button they’re responsible for maintaining their system on a much more regular basis and in a much more invasive and technical way. With my interest in recommending the most user friendly software and solutions this is not something that I can really get behind.
With that said, I don’t mean to be overly critical of the Linux Mint developers as they do great work, and have created a phenomenal and popular operating system, but when the time came to upgrade from Linux Mint 10 (Julia) to 11 (Katya) this was a major disappointment and was the first push back towards Ubuntu for me.
The other pushes and pulls came from the enhancements listed above as well as the standard Ubuntu fare.
The greater number of developers, the more polished releases and software, the greater number of releases and supported architectures, the more abundant supporting materials, resources, and services, the Ubuntu certification and training offerings, the greater market penetration and even the greater marketing department (Ubuntu stickers, other swag, etc), these all contribute to a more fleshed out, I want to say “community,” but that’s not quite the right word. Community is definitely a major aspect, but it’s the greater system that comes together to provide something more than just the community itself could (due to logistics, funding, resources, etc).
Combined with these benefits is also a personal desire to avoid the further watering down of the GNU/Linux world. Diversity and options are great and add robustness to a system, but at this point the need to solidify a bit more behind our strongest contender seems to make sense to help our community continue to grow in strength and to reduce the confusion new users might have by the abundance of choices they have in the GNU/Linux realm.
I have no doubt our selection of choices will only continue to grow as the greater GNU/Linux community itself brings in additional developers, companies, and users all with unique needs, talents, and desires. However, to appeal to those new mainstream users (not early adopters) and to gain the desirable third-party support, some standardization is likely needed (and is already beginning to show benefits).
Anyway, that’s it for now. Cheers all, and thanks for the continued support!
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Posted: June 29th, 2011
at 3:41pm by daemox
Comments: 20 comments
SABnzbd+ 0.6.0 was released a couple of days ago and is already available via JCFP’s SABnzbd+ private package archive (PPA). Considering the maturity of the project, SABnzbd+ 0.6.0 brings with it an impressive array of changes and updates. The most noticeable one (visually), is undoubtedly the change from using the Smpl skin as the default to using the updated and expanded Plush. With this change, the SABnzbd+ developers have decided to focus solely on Plush and may even possibly phase out the other skins entirely.
For those of you that are fans of the Smpl or even Classic skins, give Plush another go. They have really ironed out the rough edges from the 0.5.x series and after running the various beta’s and release candidates for the past couple months I’m happy that they’ve chosen and focused on a single skin instead of dividing their attention on a few (None of which, I might add, were exactly ideal).
Aside from the visual and interface changes, SABnzbd+ has done away with the cache folder completely. This, in part, helps to prevent a build-up of unneeded and unused files from failed and canceled downloads. Relating to this, SABnzbd+ can now better manage it’s queue including retrying failed downloads. When retrying SABnzbd+ even asks for an additional NZB file in case one wants to add additional or missing PAR files. There’s a whole slew of other changes, such as improved duplicate download handling and intelligent handling of unmounted volumes. For the rest see the 0.6.0 Introduction and the Highlights pages.
For those that are interested in trying or updating SABnzbd+, I will be updating my SABnzbd+ guide just as soon as Linux Mint 11 reaches release candidate or final status. Stay tuned!
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Posted: May 6th, 2011
at 11:33am by daemox
Comments: No comments
Well, it’s just about that time again, Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) was just released and the developers over at Linux Mint are readying for the subsequent release of their flagship Main Edition, Linux Mint 11 (Katya). To kick things off, Clem, the founder and lead developer of Linux Mint, released a preview this morning over at their blog. Since then, a private 32-bit testing release has dropped in for the tester’s group over at the community site. For those wanting to keep tabs on the progress of the Linux Mint 11 development process, this will be an ideal place to do so.
Since we last heard, there have been some changes to the plans for Linux Mint 11 (Katya). Originally, Clem had indicated that Gnome 3 would be used without the Gnome Shell. However, now it looks as though Gnome 2.32 (the last stable version of Gnome 2, which was released in September 2010) will be used this time around. This may be a disappointment to some, but with the reported stability issues from people using the Gnome 3 private package archive (PPA) and the fact that neither Ubuntu nor Debian has brought Gnome 3 into their stable repositories yet, this is probably for the best (Gnome 3 can always be added after careful consideration with the Gnome 3 PPA!). Keep in mind, Gnome 3 is practically bleeding edge at this point, having just been released not even a month ago and it is a significant departure from 2.32. Also keep in mind (for what it’s worth), the seemingly significant amount of negative reviews it has received at this point (at least in relation to Gnome Shell).
Again, while it may be a bit of a disappointment not to have the shiny new Gnome 3 in Linux Mint 11, it seems to be the more reasonable decision at this point. It’s likely that Gnome 3 may be a better fit in six to seven months when Linux Mint 12 is released. Other than that, who knows what will have changed by the time Linux Mint 12 rolls around. I’ve mentioned this before, but I wouldn’t mind if Linux Mint picked up XFCE 4.8+ as the desktop environment for its Main Edition.
XFCE really does seem like the best fit for their desktop/personal computer orientation and general philosophy and I have the uptmost confidence that the Linux Mint developers could modify the native XFCE install with the mintMenu and other adjustments to get the general ease of use and polish up to what we’ve seen under Gnome 2 (not to mention that I have a soft spot in my heart for XFCE). Apart from that, in time maybe Unity or Gnome Shell will become more accepted, more mature, and be a non-issue come Linux Mint 12 or Linux Mint 13 LTS (at which point we can all look back and laugh at all the craziness that surrounded Unity’s and Gnome 3′s releases!). Whatever the case may be, I have faith and look forward to seeing what the future holds for the GNU/Linux desktop environments.
Aside from the fervor surrounding the Gnome 2.32 announcement, there seems to be a bit of unfounded concern that Linux Mint 11 will be little more than “Linux Mint 10.1″. While it’s definitely true that the Linux Mint team is taking a cautious and conservative approach this time around to make sure the standard Linux Mint fare meets the current high standards (in response to the significant upstream changes), that doesn’t mean a lot of positive changes have not also occurred upstream (Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Kernel, et al) that Linux Mint 11 will inherit.
Linux Mint 11 will feature the famous 200 line miracle Linux Kernel patch that is reported to drastically improve system responsiveness while multitasking. Firefox 4 will be included by default and OpenOffice will be replaced with an updated copy of LibreOffice. Xorg and alsa will both be updated and Nvidia and ATI drivers will also receive significant updates. This is just a very short list of the upstream changes that Linux Mint 11 will be gifted with. Directly from Linux Mint, the already rockin’ Update and Software Managers are being further improved and there are several additional changes listed on the preview that I wont restate here needlessly. Maybe I’ve become easy to satisfy, and have an unusual appreciation for reasonable and sane changes between releases, but it seems more likely that some people are at risk of missing the forest for the trees.
With that said, and on an internal, Ainer.org note, I have been waiting to write my upcoming Couch Potato guide, as well as waiting to update my RAID and SABnzbd+ guides (at very least) until Linux Mint 11 reaches release candidate or final status. So, for any that have been itching to get an updated SABnzbd+ guide for the 0.6 release, or and updated and expanded RAID 5/6 guide, stay tuned!
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Just an update, Linux Fest Northwest is this weekend! If you’re free and in the area be sure to come by for at least one (or part of one) of the days! For more information, see the quote below from my previous post!
Well, it’s just about that time of year again. It’s time for the annual Linux Fest Northwest! If you happen to find yourself in the Pacific Northwest (or Cascadia if you prefer) come April 30th through May 1st (and within commuting distance of Bellingham, WA) do yourself a favor and show up for at least one day of this neat regional Linux Expo!
This free (as in beer) event is hosted every year by the Bellingham Linux User’s Group and takes place on the Bellingham Technical College’s campus. Exhibitor tables and displays are maintained throughout the duration of Linux Fest Northwest (LFNW) by various community groups (such as the Free Software Federation) and businesses (like Brown Paper Tickets) operating in the Free and Open Source community. There’s food, drinks, lots of chances to socialize and network with other members of the community throughout the entire weekend, and the World Famous Raffle!
However, as fun as that all is, the real highlight of LFNW is the dozens of sessions (nearly a hundred at the time of this writing) provided by various groups and individuals. These sessions are generally an hour or two long and provide a rich sampling of various topics relating to Linux and the greater FOSS culture. The big session of the last two years was undoubtedly the Linux Sucks! and Linux (Still) Sucks presentations. With that said, there are many, many interesting topics for people of all interests and levels of technical proficiency.
In fact, even if you’ve never touched a GNU/Linux based computer there are sessions and activities for you too! Throughout the entire Linux Fest Northwest weekend the Tutorium is open with several repeated mini-sessions running throughout and skilled volunteers looking to help and introduce new users (and potential new users) to GNU/Linux!
So, if you’ve been curious about this “Linux thing” but haven’t quite yet jumped in the pool (or drank the kool-aid) this would be a great opportunity to come and immerse yourself in this neat sub-culture and experience first hand (with zero risk) what Linux is all about (or at least, a lot of what it is about!).
To give a better example, some of the sessions I hope to catch this year include “OpenStreetMap: Mapping Party,” “Free (as in speech) brewing (as in beer),” “Joint panel with the ACLU and EFF,” “Linux in Healthcare,” “Honey, I deleted the kids: preserving your digital legacy for decades,” and probably several more depending on how everything ends up being scheduled. Next year Ainer.org will likely be presenting a session of it’s own, so stay tuned if interested!
This year I didn’t quite have enough time to commit to a full session. However, Ainer.org has become a Media Sponsor and will be providing an ASUS RT-N16 router for the World Famous Raffle!
Posted: April 25th, 2011
at 2:18pm by daemox
Comments: 2 comments
It’s been a while since I had a chance to post up some news, but I just nabbed myself a copy of the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle and wanted to remind those other late comers (like myself) that there is currently less than a day left on this bundle!
For those that are not familiar, this is the third such bundle since last year. It features independent games that are GNU/Linux compatible and DRM free. The Humble Bundle also provides the chance to donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as well as Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity. Both of these charities are ones I’m interested in continuing to support in the future and the EFF does amazing work with limited resources. Be sure to follow their Deeplinks blog to see their on-going progress.
Once purchased, the Humble Bundle games are available through direct downloads and (legitimate) torrents from HumbleBundle.com directly (via a unique link provided after purchase). The games are also available via Steam and Desura activation codes. Neither Steam nor Desura currently offer native GNU/Linux clients, though they are reportedly both coming to GNU/Linux in the not too distant future (hopefully this year!). In the meantime, Steam is also fairly well supported under Codeweaver’s Cross Over Games.
Early this year, I speculated that we would likely see at least one Humble Bundle this year and it looks like I was spot on! Here’s hoping my speculation about this being the year of GNU/Linux gaming continues to come true!
Posted: April 25th, 2011
at 1:49pm by daemox
Comments: 1 comment
Linux Mint has just released their XFCE edition. This edition has now been moved from being based on Ubuntu and is now based on Debian Testing via Linux Mint Debian Edition.
The recent popularity and growth of Linux Mint Debian Edition as well as the migration and planned migration of some of the alternate desktop environment based editions (Fluxbox and XFCE so far) has strummed up questions about the future of the main Linux Mint edition which is based on Ubuntu and Gnome.
To help answer these growing questions, Linux Mint’s founder and project lead, Clement Lefebvre has created an easy to miss F.A.Q. nestled at the end of the Linux Mint XFCE announcement.
Some of the provided answers in the F.A.Q. include how to quickly distinguish Debian Testing based versus Ubuntu based Linux Mint editions. Ubuntu based editions are fixed and thus have a version number (Linux Mint 10, Linux Mint 10 LXDE). Debian Testing based editions are rolling releases and have no such version number (Linux Mint Debian Edition, Linux Mint XFCE).
The big news is that the Main edition will continue to be based on Gnome (without Gnome Shell) and Ubuntu and will continue to be the flagship edition for the Linux Mint project. With Ubuntu switching from Gnome to Unity, and eventually pushing for Wayland over X, as well as the Gnome project’s releasing of Gnome Shell, Linux Mint will have some definite hurdles to overcome in the future. However, it seems to be their intention to maintain a consistent Gnome and Ubuntu based platform as their main edition unless some insurmountable circumstance comes about.
With that said, Linux Mint is a community based edition. The Linux Mint team recently polled their user base with a large survey and as a direct result of the data they collected through that, the decision to switch XFCE to a Debian Testing basis was made. If you have questions or concerns about the future of Linux Mint, be sure to follow the Linux Mint Blog (RSS) to keep apprised of any future surveys or other opportunities to provide feedback to the project leaders!