Weekly News for July 28th

Users will most likely find their email’s spam folder a little lighter this week after a Botnet was shut down (via the h-online). The Grum Botnet was estimated to be responsible for 18% of the world’s spam.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was released this week for the Nexus S. Already custom roms are popping up on XDA-developers.

Linux Mint finalized both the Xfce and KDE editions of their current long-term release, 13.

Linus Torvalds released version 3.5 of the Linux kernel after 7 release candidates. Read the full announcement here.

The European antitrust investigators broaden their investigation of Microsoft for possible violations of a previous agreement to offer European users a choice for default browsers in Windows 7–which has since disappeared post SP-1, and the upcoming Windows 8.

“Another allegation is quite serious that — Microsoft is providing co-marketing funds to computer makers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard or Lenovo to discourage them from setting third-party browsers as default in Windows 8. If true, such action would violate the 2009 EU agreement, which states that Microsoft cannot set conditions that forbid OEMs from installing other browsers on their PCs. Nor can Microsoft retaliate against OEMs that distribute third-party browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari with brand new machines.”

Full article here.

Weekly News for July 21st

Welcome to the first installment of the weekly news roundup!

It looks like the week for release candidates: After significant delays, openSUSE put out a call for testing for the first of two RCs of their upcoming 12.2. Linux Mint announced the Release Candidate for their KDE edition hot on the heels of their Xfce spin. Both builds are based on the main Linux Mint 13, which is a change from the previous Kubuntu and Xubuntu builds the distro has favored in the past.

KDE also put forth their second RC of the upcoming 4.9 release. The full announcement can be read here, and the release schedule here. A recent report indicates that tiling support will be dropped after the 4.9 series. Plans are in the works for tiling to be supported with scripts (via Phoronix).

While an interesting idea, the Nexus Q media streamer has had a fairly mixed response from fans. The Q shows promise, however, with recent hacks allowing additional software to be installed on the device such as the upcoming XBMC, recently released for Android, and even acting as a Pong controller.

With the abundance of games available for smart phones, and availability of cost-effective hardware (such as RaspberryPi), it was only a matter of time before an Andorid-based game console came about. Meet the $99 OUYA. Excitement over the project has landed over $3.7 million in pledges on Kickstarter, not everyone shares in the enthusiasm as shown in an article from Phandroid entitled: “OUYA: Why the over-hyped Android game console is a bad investment.” Full article here.

In other Android news, Samsung continues to battle Apple in the court, making a request to expedite the hearing on the Galaxy Nexus. Apple responded by grouping Samsung with “pirates, thieves, and counterfeiters” as they sent letters to retailers requesting they stop selling the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Nexus, which prompted Samsung to call Apple “menacing.”

Android currently has just over 51% of the smartphone market, with Samsung reportedly as the top Android OEM with 17% (article here). A newly opened retail store in Canada shows that Samsung plans to continue being a serious contender.

Nvidia seems intent on showing Linus, and the rest of the community, that they’re serious about supporting Linux with the release of their latest beta driver, 304.22. Enhancements include improved RandR 1.2/1.3 enhancements, support for DKMS within the Nvidia installer, and improved support of a few Kepler-based graphics cards.

I’ll leave you this week with an interesting article from Computerworld on “Why small tablets will dominate the tablet market.”

Enjoy!

Linux Mint LMDE Xfce Review

Linux Mint

While I tend to use openSUSE with KDE on my main desktop, I’ve come to enjoy running Linux Mint on my netbook. The current gem of the open-source world runs smoothly on my  Lenovo S12 with the Cinnamon desktop environment, but I’d love to squeeze out a bit of extra battery life between charges.

Installation

Here’s a nice installation video featuring 100% more Irish accent:

Smoothing the Rough Edges

Touchpad Tap to Click

Reading through the Debian Edition known issues, I noticed a couple items of interest. First, the Mint team were kind enough to include how to enable the “tap to click” function on the touchpad. I like having it enable, even though some don’t–but it’s nice to have the option. Edit your Synaptics configuration file by running the following command:

sudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf

Find this section:

Section “InputClass”
Identifier “touchpad catchall”
Driver “synaptics”
MatchIsTouchpad “on”

Add the following lines before the “EndSection”:

Option “TapButton1″ “1″
Option “VertEdgeScroll” “1″

Save and close the file. A quick log out and back in should be enough to activate the changes.

Kernel

Also included in the known problems is a notice about a lack of multi-core support in the default 32-bit kernel for compatibility. If want/need multi-core or multi-processor support, but chose not to install the 64-bit version, you can install the 686-PAE kernel and reboot your computer through Synaptic, or apt-get. You may also want to include the 686-PAE kernel headers as well.

 Broadcom BCM4312

I’ve posted previously about properly setting up the wireless for the Broadcom BCM4312 chipset for Linux Mint, but the process is a little different on LMDE due to the Debian base. Many thanks to the Debian wiki here

Note: Linux Mint 13 installed the drivers correctly without any extra configuration–which was a first!

Hibernation

Thanks to the excellent article by BoomerClan, my netbook hibernates like a proper little lappy.

Extra Software

MS Fonts: I tend to install a few extra items to round out my desktop after install, and one of them is the MS fonts, which can be found under ttf-mscorefonts-installer either through Synaptic package manager, or via the command line:

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Dropbox: Nautilus has a tendency to take over the desktop. A quick search in the forums turned up this post on how to have native support for dropbox in Thunar via Thunar-Dropbox. First, I”d suggest removing Nautilus. Then, you’ll need to download and install Dropbox either 32-bit:

cd ~ && wget -O – “https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86″ | tar xzf -

For the 64-bit version:

cd ~ && wget -O – “https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64″ | tar xzf -

You’ll also need to install nautilus-dropbox and python-gpgme before install thunar-dropbox. Finally, you can start the Dropbox daemon by running:

~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd

Desktop Font Colors

Having comfortably settled in after tackling the more prominent issues, I decided to go with a darker, black and blue theme. There was just one little problem: black fonts don’t show up on a dark background, and there’s no easy option within Xfce’s settings manager to change  that. After a bit of quick searching, I came across this post, directing me to edit my .gtkrc-xfce. You’ll find it in your /home folder, but you’ll have to show hidden files to see it. Once you’ve opened the file, change the line that starts with:

    fg[NORMAL] = “#000000″

And change it to:

    fg[NORMAL] = “#ffffff”        #this is white

You can change the color to anything you’d like, as long as you know the corresponding code.

Conclusion

After spending a few weeks with my newly “MInted” netbook, I have some mixed feelings about this spin of Mint Debian. My main intentions were to extend battery life and improve overall responsiveness. While Xfce felt snappy, the difference wasn’t as notable as I had hoped compared with Mint’s own Cinnamon desktop environment. The integration was pretty good, but not at the same level as Mint’s main offering, while requiring more manual configuration post-install to reach the same level of comfort. The battery life also fell a bit short of my expectations. It might be due to the power regressions not being fully backported/integrated into the 3.2-series kernel offered in LMDE. It may also mean that it’s time to venture on to Ebay to replace my battery. Either way, I’ve invested enough in to this install to keep it for the rest of the month.

Broadcom BCM4312 for Lenovo S12 in openSUSE 11.4

Broadcom is the finicky mistress of Linux. Sometimes she’ll greet you with a smile with little effort and work perfectly, and sometimes she’ll spurn your most tried and trusted approaches.

Users with 4313, 43224, and 43225 will be happy to note the inclusion of open Broadom wireless drivers with the 2.6.36 kernel; however, for those of us who have to woo our Broadcom wireless, there’s a little bit extra work that needs to happen.

This is one of those unfortunate cases where you have to be online to get online.

First, find out what flavor of the kernel you’re running by opening a terminal and and running the command:

uname -r

Add the Essential Packman repository (if not already added):

sudo zypper ar -n packman-essentials http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_11.4/Essentials packman-essentials

Then, install broadcom-wl, broadcom-wl-kmp-(uname -r), and rfkill*

Next, sudo into your favorite text editor. Kwrite is used in this example, but gedit, mousepad, or any text editor will do:

sudo kwrite /etc/modprobe.d/50-blacklist.conf

and add the following lines at the end of /etc/modprobe.d/50-blacklist.conf:

blacklist ssb

blacklist b43

blacklist acer-wmi

*Note: while not essential, I’ve found that including these allows automatic connection after boot and hibernation/standby on the S12–especially the acer-wmi kernel module.

You should be able to configure your wireless in YaST and connect after a reboot.

Netflix for Android Phones Leaked

A little late, but interesting nonetheless:

Following the “Good News, Bad News” of Netflix’s mixed support of Android, a development APK has been leaked online. While the Netflix APK seems to install properly, few (if any) have reported any success in actually streaming video.

This is a promising sign of Netflix finally coming to Linux.