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An online Ubuntu magazine bringing you the latest Ubuntu news, apps, interview and reviews. Daily.
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Canonical Explain Why Ubuntu Is A Better Choice Than Windows 10

Thursday 27th of August 2015 06:23:16 PM

Canonical say businesses who switch to Ubuntu could save as much as 70 percent versus the cost of upgrading to Windows 10.

In a blog post titled ‘Windows 10: Is it finally time to migrate to Ubuntu?‘, the company posit that sticking with Windows would be the ‘comfortable next move’ for businesses to make – but not necessarily the ‘best choice’.

Migrating to Ubuntu could reduce ‘royalty, maintenance and training costs for users’ by up to 70 percent

Migrating to Ubuntu could reduce “royalty, maintenance and training costs for users” by up to 70 percent, Canonical claim, and say the “[…] the heavy resource constraints on devices and meatier royalty fees have turned off even the most fervent Windows followers.”

Not to mention the (slightly overhyped) privacy issues.

“This is probably the best possible time to take a closer look at other choices.”

Time Is Ripe For Alternatives

The good news for Canonical is they’re not alone in upping the ante in the face of a resurgent Microsoft.

Dell has unveiled a brand new Chromebook that has been designed specifically to meet the needs of business, with feedback shaping both the hardware and software. Industry analysts are also expecting to see increased uptake of Chrome OS by businesses, especially as more mission critical tasks are offloaded to the cloud and legacy needs are handled by virtualization. Chromebook’s inherent security also

All areas where Ubuntu has plenty to offer, too.

Microsoft this week announced that Windows 10 is now running on more 75 million PCs around the world, though it did not divulge how many are home users versus businesses.

In 2011 Canonical announced its goal was to have more than 200 million Ubuntu users by 2015. The recent launch of Ubuntu Snappy and Ubuntu for phones make that goal sound more plausible today than it did four years ago.

A handful of businesses opting to bypass Windows 10 in favour of Ubuntu? Well, it won’t help hit that goal overnight but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

But based on data from industry firm Gartner, who say businesses are “interested in going ahead with Windows 10 in much bigger numbers than we saw with Windows 7 six years ago”, it may take more than a blog post to win ’em over.

It’s important to note that the blog post in question is not targeted at home users, for whom the vast majority are eligible for a free in-place upgrade to Windows 10 and have few (if any) support or licensing considerations. 

This post, Canonical Explain Why Ubuntu Is A Better Choice Than Windows 10, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Ubuntu 15.10 Beta 1 Is Now Available to Download

Thursday 27th of August 2015 03:30:35 PM

The first beta releases in the Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf development cycle are now available for download.

Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu MATE and Xubuntu are among the spins taking advantage of this development stop-gap.

The regular version of Ubuntu sits this round out and will issue its first, and only, beta snapshot next month.

Scroll on down to get a digest of what’s new in Ubuntu 15.10 Beta 1 flavours and to grab yourself an .iso image to trial out.

What’s New in Ubuntu 15.10 Beta 1?

The array of changes put forward by the Ubuntu family differs dramatically between releases.

Kubuntu 15.10 Beta 1 features the biggest set of changes. It offers the shiny new Plasma 5.4 desktop as default (see our earlier post for more on what that brings) and offers the latest KDE Applications 15.08 suite.

Download Kubuntu 15.10 Beta 1

Ubuntu GNOME 15.10 Beta 1 offers much of the latest GNOME 3.16 stack – enjoy it while it’s current, as 3.18 is on the way!. You get GNOME-Shell 3.16, a stack of GNOME 3.16 applications, a new GNOME getting started guide and GNOME Photos installed by default (Shotwell remains available).

Download Ubuntu GNOME 15.10 Beta 1

Lubuntu 15.10 Beta 1 sees only minimal bug fixes applied. Once again, all development effort is focused on getting the new LxQt desktop ship-shape in time for its tentative use as Lubuntu default in October 2016.

Download Lubuntu 15.10 Beta 1

Xubuntu 15.10 Beta 1 swaps hardy office stalwart Abiword with LibreOffice Writer, something some have long considered overdue. It also ships updates for a sizeable set of the default Xubuntu app stack, including new versions of gMusicBrowser, LightDM-GTK-Greeter and the nimble Thunar file manager.

Download Xubuntu 15.10 Beta 1

Finally, Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Beta 1 bumps the MATE desktop to version 1.10 (“mostly”), offers a refreshed MATE welcome tool, a new version of the helpful MATE Tweak Tool and integrates Deja Dup backup into the Caja file manager.

Download Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Beta 1

Beta = bugs

Beta releases of Ubuntu are not suitable for use as your default OS as the likelihood of bugs, breakages and other potential headaches remains high.

Ubuntu 15.10 final will be available to download on October 22, 2015.

This post, Ubuntu 15.10 Beta 1 Is Now Available to Download, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Newsup Is a Unique News Reader App for Linux

Wednesday 26th of August 2015 09:14:00 PM

Newsup App

It’s never been easier to keep on top of news, with Scopes, RSS feeds, social media streams and push notifications all delivering timely updates to us, as and when they surface.

But sometimes we prefer to go out and check the day’s headlines for ourselves. Stepping outside of the echo chamber of our pre-ordained feeds is healthy for a rounded view of the world.

This process usually goes something like this: open and trawl Google News, MSN News, or any similar ‘portal’ which collates headlines from multiple news-sources and presents them in one place.

Now, a new app for the Linux desktop wants to (partially) take the hassle out of that news gathering.

Newsup App

Called  ‘Newsup‘, the app offers a near-literal sup on the latest headlines from a selection of ‘mainstream news’ outlets, all at the click of a button.

Or, to put it another way, to quote the website:

‘the latest news from various major mainstream media at your finger tips’

As a new news app – or should that be ‘early edition’ — Newsup is not the most elegant looking utility ever created. But it’s novel enough in what it does to be worth a thumb through, even if you don’t plan to subscribe just yet.

(Enough with the increasingly reaching news-puns, yeah?)

Unlike the intimidating complexity of another app we reviewed recently, RSS Tickr, Newsup is streamlined in its choice of ‘channels’ (read: news sources). You can’t add your own but you can filter the topics based on the channel you select.

Channels include Fox, Sky News, BBC and India Today.

Check out a video of the app in action below. Scroll down to hit the big blue download button and grab the Ubuntu installer and try it for yourself.

Install Newsup on Ubuntu

Desktop news apps for Linux aren’t plentiful. The gap left by LightRead’s abandonment is ever keenly felt. This makes Newsup’s arrival all the more… newsworthy.

For a great way to get a digest of the days news when you want it, it’s well worth trying.

Download Newsup (Multiarch, .Deb)

This post, Newsup Is a Unique News Reader App for Linux, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Unity At Last: Unity 3D Games Editor Is Now Available on Linux

Wednesday 26th of August 2015 01:25:04 PM

Unity, the well known engine powering some of the world’s most popular games, has launched an experimental version of its games editor on Linux. 

Although anticipated for some time, the Unity for Linux is strictly a tech preview. Future support is not guaranteed.

It also lacks a few of the bells and whistles that its Windows and Mac kin are famed for, including support for importing models from third-party apps.

But every journey has to start somewhere.

Unity for Linux

Unity is described as a ‘flexible and powerful development platform for creating multi-platform games’.

Unity Technologies offer the editor free though software purists should note that it is not open source.

The decision of whether the preview passes beyond this technical preview and into something the company can ‘sustain as an official port alongside [the] Mac and Windows editors’ depends on several factors: how well the Linux community receive the preview, the number and scale of issues they unearth while using it, and, ultimately, how big the support burden to maintain it is.

It’s worth noting that the Unity 3D run-time, the bit that allows games made with the editor to run, launched on Linux back in 2012 (initially as a preview). The ‘support burden’ for this, Unity say, was low.

Based on Unity 5.1.0f3, the native Unity Linux editor allows developers to export to the following run-times:

  • Windows, Mac, Linux Standalone (Unity-based)
  • WebGL
  • WebPlayer
  • Android
  • Tizen
  • SamsungTV

The launch of the Unity Linux build marks a significant moment in the viability of Linux, not just as a gaming platform but a more encompassing development one.

That said, it should be noted that the Unity editor is but one part in a wider development workflow. Without Linux versions  of an ancillary software, be it native ports or open-source alternatives, not all developers will be upping their proverbial sticks to switch to Linux full-time.

System Requirements and Support

The Unity 3D editor officially supports Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or later but only on 64-bit versions. A modern Nvidia, AMD, or Intel graphics card is required and proprietary graphics drivers must be installed.

Installing using the official .deb will pull in all the necessary dependencies, however you will need to install Monodevelop manually (it’s available in the Ubuntu Software Center).

The editor may also run just as well on other (modern) Linux distributions, so long as they meet the system requirements above. A ‘platform agnostic installer‘ is available to help though it should be considered ‘unsupported’.

In short: if you want the best experience you should use it on Ubuntu.

Feedback can be left on the Unity3D forums.  This will serve as the primary port-of-call for Linux users looking to hear the latest news.

To download Unity for Linux hit the button below to grab the .deb installer (roughly 900MB).

Download Unity 3D Editor for Ubuntu

Thanks to Liam Dawes/GOL Image credit: Unity Technologies

This post, Unity At Last: Unity 3D Games Editor Is Now Available on Linux, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Plasma 5.4 Is Out And It’s Packed Full Of Features

Tuesday 25th of August 2015 03:12:12 PM

Better network details are among the changes

KDE has announced a brand new feature release of Plasma 5 — and it’s a corker. 

Plasma 5.4.0 builds on April’s 5.3.0 milestone in a number of ways, ranging from the inherently technical, Wayland preview session, ahoy, to lavish aesthetic touches, like 1,400 brand new icons. 

A handful of new components also feature in the release, including a new Plasma Widget for volume control, a monitor calibration tool and an improved user management tool.

The ‘Kicker’ application menu has been powered up to let you favourite all types of content, not just applications.

KRunner now remembers searches so that it can automatically offer suggestions based on your earlier queries as you type.

The network applet displays a graph to give you a better understanding of your network traffic. It also gains two new VPN plugins for SSH and SSTP connections.

Minor tweaks to the digital clock see it adapt better in slim panel mode, it gains ISO date support and makes it easier for you to toggle between 12 hour and 24 hour clock. Week numbers have been added to the calendar.

Application Dashboard

The new ‘Application Dashboard’ in KDE Plasma 5.4.0

A new full screen launcher, called ‘Application Dashboard’, is also available.

This full-screen dash offers the same features as the traditional Application Menu but with “sophisticated scaling to screen size and full spatial keyboard navigation”.

Like the Unity launch, the new Plasma Application Dashboard helps you quickly find applications, sift through files and contacts based on your previous activity.

Changes in KDE Plasma 5.4.0 at a glance
  • Improved high DPI support
  • KRunner autocompletion
  • KRunner search history
  • Application Dashboard add on
  • 1,400 New icons
  • Wayland tech preview

For a full list of changes in Plasma 5.4 refer to this changelog. 

Install Plasma 5.4 in Kubuntu 15.04

To install Plasma 5.4 in Kubuntu 15.04 you will need to add the KDE Backports PPA to your Software Sources.

Adding the Kubuntu backports PPA is not strictly advised as it may upgrade other parts of the KDE desktop, application suite, developer frameworks or Kubuntu specific config files.

If you like your desktop being stable, don’t proceed.

The quickest way to upgrade to Plasma 5.4 once it lands in the Kubuntu Backports PPA is to use the Terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Let the upgrade process complete. Assuming no errors emerge, reboot your computer for changes to take effect.

If you’re not already using Kubuntu, i.e. you’re using the Unity version of Ubuntu, you should first install the Kubuntu desktop package (you’ll find it in the Ubuntu Software Centre).

To undo the changes above and downgrade to the most recent version of Plasma available in the Ubuntu archives use the PPA-Purge tool:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge sudo ppa-purge ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

Let us know how your upgrade/testing goes in the comments below and don’t forget to mention the features you hope to see added to the Plasma 5 desktop next.

This post, Plasma 5.4 Is Out And It’s Packed Full Of Features, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Qupzilla Web Browser Is Searching for a New Logo

Sunday 23rd of August 2015 03:10:14 PM

The Current QupZilla Logo

QupZilla, the lightweight Qt web-browser, is on the hunt for a brand new app logo. 

David Rosca of the QupZilla development team has sought help from designer Adrien Vigneron in updating the browser’s brand, feeling that the current ‘globe on starburst’ design is just ‘not great enough’. 

QupZilla is a cross-platform, Qt-based browser. Although it is not the most widely known ‘window on the web’ it is, like GNOME Web and Midori, a commendable open-source alternative to the major players.

Could a brand new icon boost its appeal further?

Drafts For The New QupZilla Logo

Adrien Vigneron is the designer tasked with working a new identity for the lightweight web browser.

From a segmented sweating oranges to a shark in search of a hockey team, it is fair to say that all of his proposed designs are novel in their variety. And to the designers credit they’re also extremely well made.



But are these drafts the right fit for QupZilla?

A Bad Icon Is A Bug

Good app icons can dramatically change the way people feel about the software it represents. An icon is, in effect, a statement as much as it is an identity.

A low-res, badly designed icon with no thought behind tells the user that they’re getting a low-res, badly designed app knocked together quickly. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself how often you scroll past apps with bad icons in the App Store or Google Play!

But looking well designed and being well designed are not the same thing.

A decent app icon should convey the purpose of the app from the moment you see it. It should also be distinct and recognisable. This is not an easy balance to strike.

QupZilla in Ubuntu

QupZilla has a decent logo — on paper at least. It ticks all the right signifiers: an ice-blue globe (shorthand for ‘internet’; and why most web-browser icons tend to be round) in front of a dynamic starburst (visual shorthand for ‘speed, power’, etc).

But it’s not unique.

A quick google for a ‘generic browser logo’ presents a sea of similar iconography. QupZilla needs to make a statement with any new design, but not stray too far from colloquial metaphors or symbolism.

Like I said earlier: not an easy balance to strike.

The good news for existing and potential users of the browser is that no final decision on a new icon has yet been taken.

The QupZilla team is open to suggestions and thoughts on the proposed new logos and what is presented above and on Adrien’s blog remain under development.

Feel free to share your own stab at a new icon idea in the comments below.

QupZilla 2.0 In The Works

On to more practical matters. Work on QupZilla 2.0, the next major release and to be based on the new QtWebEngine backend, is still underway.

A bug-fix release of the current 1.8.x series, based on QtWebKit, now deprecated but available in the package archive of most major distributions, is due for release later this month.

This post, Qupzilla Web Browser Is Searching for a New Logo, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

An Official Arc Theme For Firefox Is Now Available

Thursday 20th of August 2015 03:14:31 PM

Do you use the stunning ARC GTK theme? If so you’ll be stoked to know there is now an official Firefox theme to use along with it.

Reader Blaž Mežnaršič e-mail us about the release of theme, saying:

“A while back you featured Arc, a GTK+ theme I really liked and still use. [The designer of the Arc theme] recently released a theme for Firefox which makes it integrate nicely with the rest of your desktop.”

In the screenshot below you can see just how nicely the Arc Firefox theme matches the GTK theme, though do note that I am using the Htitle add-on to hide the title bar.

The theme is compatible with Firefox 40 or later and should be used with the Arc GTK theme.

Install The Arc Firefox Theme

Unlike regular Firefox theme Arc isn’t available from the Mozilla add-ons repository. Don’t panic: themes for Arc, Arc Dark and Arc Darker are available from Github in easy-to-install .xpi format.

To download, point your browser at the link below:

Download the latest Arc Firefox Theme

Drag-and-drop the relevant .xpi file(s) into the Firefox window. Firefox will prompt you to install.

Install The Arc GTK Theme

Translucency in GTK3 Header Bars

If you have yet to try the Arc GTK theme (and want to) you’ll need to be double-check you’re running Ubuntu 15.04 or later. Also note that some of the transparency effects do not render under Unity.

Provisos out of the way, dally on over to the site hidden behind the button below to grab a .deb installer of the latest theme release (click ‘ubuntu’ > ‘Grab binary packages directly’):

Download Arc GTK Theme for Ubuntu 15.04 +

Thanks Blaz for the tip! 

This post, An Official Arc Theme For Firefox Is Now Available, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Ubuntu 15.10 Ditches Unity Overlay Scrollbars

Thursday 20th of August 2015 03:01:33 PM

The Unity Overlay Scrollbar Thumb

Unity overlay scrollbars have been dropped from Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf, due this October. 

Unity is ditching its home-grown and often fiddly scrollbars in favour of the upstream GNOME scrollbars introduced in GNOME 3.16.

Why?

Unity desktop manager Will Cooke says the decision will ‘minimize the maintenance effort’ Canonical engineers have to expend on patching, bug fixing and making the scrollbars work with newer versions of GNOME.

And that time saving can be poured into other, more deserving areas, like Unity 8.

Unity Overlay Scrollbars: A Brief History

Overlay scrollbars were first introduced to the Unity desktop in Ubuntu 11.10 as part of an effort to: ‘maximise the screen real estate available to applications and to minimise otherwise useless chrome’.

Unlike standard window scrollbars, which show on-screen at all times, overlay scrollbars hide when they’re not needed and appear only when a user moves their mouse into a scrollable area.

Ubuntu’s iteration on the concept, which by 2011 was in use on the OS X desktop, added a ‘thumb’ scrubber. This was to make grabbing and moving the vanishing vertical scroll strip easier and more predictable.

Early version of Unity overlay scrollbars used a rounded thumb with no outline. Later versions switched to a square scrubber with orange bounding box, and increased the proximity/trigger area at which the thumb would appear.



Despite being a Unity-specific feature, overlay scrollbars were only added to the Dash in Ubuntu 13.04.

Developers involved with the creation often cited its compliance with (the oft-cited) Fitts’ law, a model of user interaction that was a popular yard-stick of design at the time but has faded in relevance with the advance of mobile-first design practices.

Given how subtle the scrollbars are in use, their removal is likely to result in a subtle reaction.

Will you miss Unity overlay scrollbars in the Wily Werewolf?

This post, Ubuntu 15.10 Ditches Unity Overlay Scrollbars, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Vivaldi Web Browser Makes Multitasking Online Easier

Wednesday 19th of August 2015 02:55:59 PM

The team behind the Vivaldi web browser have made a new development snapshot available for download.

Vivialdi 1.0.2.249.12 features a number of “nice improvements and bug fixes“, including better extensions support and a new look progress animation.

But it is a brand new feature called ‘Web Panels’ that has us excited.

Web Panels – like window snapping for websites

Let’s imagine you want to keep an eye on two websites at the same time.

To do this in Google Chrome or Firefox without resorting to extensions you would (assuming you’re like me) open one of the sites in a new browser window and position this on the screen, in view, next to the other one.

Not elegant but it works.

But what if you wanted to keep an eye on a number of sites and switch between them?

Vivaldi’s new web panels feature solves this conundrum inside the browser. Think of it as window snapping for websites.

You add a website to the left-hand panel area manually, by clicking the ‘+’ and entering the URL. An icon is added to the panel strip that you can then click on to open the page in a panel a beside the page you’re viewing. Click the panel icon for a different website and that takes its place, and so on.

Lovely stuff.

Mobile Sites Work Best

Because web panels are narrow and large portrait Vivaldi suggest only adding responsive pages “that can adapt to mobile devices or are designed specifically for mobiles”.

Our site will work just dandy, as do Skype for web (web.skype.com), the mobile Twitter site (mobile.twitter.com) and Facebook touch (touch.facebook.com).

The web panels feature isn’t finished. To quote the team it “still needs some polishing”.

But it is a nice preview of an interesting feature …in an interesting browser that is also a preview.

Other Changes in Vivaldi Web Browser 1.0.2.249.12

No browser would be worth its salt without some sort of extensions system, of which Vivaldi does.

For its latest release the browser boosts the breadth of extensions that it can handle by supporting extension UI buttons for both page actions (extensions that need to add buttons inside the URL field) and browser actions (extensions that add buttons to the right of the address bar).

Also tweaked in this build is the page loading animation which, as the gif below shows, now displays far more detail.

Hit up the full announcement post for a complete list of changes.

Vivaldi In A Technical Preview

The Vivaldi web browser remains an interesting project. If not for the scrappy can-do development mindset that powers its evolution than for its developer-centric target audience.

If you want to try it out you should bear in mind that it is still in a technology preview and remains in active development. There is no target date for a stable release. This makes Vivaldi interesting in a Debian, ready-when-ready manner but also difficult to evaluate or recommend as your full-time browser.

Download Vivaldi Web Browser on Ubuntu

Vivaldi is available to install on all major operating systems, including Linux. Deb installers (~40MB) are provided for users of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and above.

For the most recent snapshot that comes with the changes listed above download these .deb files:

Download Vivaldi (1.0.249.12.1) for Ubuntu 64 bit Download Vivaldi (1.0.249.12.1) for Ubuntu 32 bit

To install the older but more reliable Technical Preview 4 release use this link:

Download Vivaldi Technical Preview 4

This post, Vivaldi Web Browser Makes Multitasking Online Easier, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Linux Without Limits: IBM Launch LinuxONE Mainframes

Monday 17th of August 2015 12:17:20 PM

Good news for Ubuntu’s server team today as IBM launch the LinuxONE a Linux-only mainframe that is also able to run Ubuntu.

The largest of the LinuxONE systems launched by IBM is called ‘Emperor’ and can scale up to 8000 virtual machines or tens of thousands of containers – a possible record for any one single Linux system.

The LinuxONE is described by IBM as a ‘game changer’ that ‘unleashes the potential of Linux for business’.

IBM and Canonical are working together on the creation of an Ubuntu distribution for LinuxONE and other IBM z Systems. Ubuntu will join RedHat and SUSE as ‘premier Linux distributions’ on IBM z.

Alongside the ‘Emperor’ IBM is also offering the LinuxONE Rockhopper, a smaller mainframe for medium-sized businesses and organisations.

IBM is the market leader in mainframes and commands over 90% of the mainframe market.

What Is a Mainframe Computer Used For?

The computer you’re reading this article on would be dwarfed by a ‘big iron’ mainframe. They are large, hulking great cabinets packed full of high-end components, custom designed technology and dizzying amounts of storage (that is data storage, not ample room for pens and rulers).

Mainframes computers are used by large organizations and businesses to process and store large amounts of data, crunch through statistics, and handle large-scale transaction processing.

‘World’s Fastest Processor’

IBM has teamed up with Canonical Ltd to use Ubuntu on the LinuxONE and other IBM z Systems.

The LinuxONE Emperor uses the IBM z13 processor. The chip, announced back in January, is said to be the world’s fastest microprocessor. It is able to deliver transaction response times in the milliseconds.

But as well as being well equipped to handle for high-volume mobile transactions, the z13 inside the LinuxONE is also an ideal cloud system.

It can handle more than 50 virtual servers per core for a total of 8000 virtual servers, making it a cheaper, greener and more performant way to scale-out to the cloud.

You don’t have to be a CIO or mainframe spotter to appreciate this announcement. The possibilities LinuxONE provides are clear enough.  

This post, Linux Without Limits: IBM Launch LinuxONE Mainframes, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Ubuntu NVIDIA Graphics Drivers PPA Is Ready For Action

Friday 14th of August 2015 02:55:34 PM

Get your frame-rate on

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just days after proposing the creation of a new PPA to provide Ubuntu users with the latest NVIDIA graphics drivers the Ubuntu community has clubbed together to do, well, just that.

The plainly named ‘Graphics Drivers PPA‘ contains the latest release of NVIDIA’s proprietary Linux grapics drivers, packaged up for Ubuntu users to upgrade to – no binary runtime headaches needed!

The PPA is designed to offer gamers a way to run the latest games on the latest on Ubuntu as easily as possible.

Ready, But Not Ready

Jorge Castro’s idea to create a ‘blessed’ PPA containing newer NVIDIA graphics drivers for those wot want ’em has been greeted with enthusiasm by Ubuntu users and games developers alike.

Even those involved in porting some of Steam’s biggest titles to Linux have chimed in to offer advice and suggestions.

Edwin Smith, head of production at Feral Interactive (‘Shadow of Mordor’) welcomed the initiative to prove users with “easier way of updating drivers”.

How To Use The New Nvidia Drivers PPA

Although the new ‘Graphic Drivers PPA’ is live it is not strictly ready for the prime time. Its maintainers caution:

“This PPA is currently in testing, you should be experienced with packaging before you dive in here. Give a few days to sort out the kinks.”

Jorge, who soft launched the PPA in a post to the Ubuntu desktop mailing list, also notes that gamers using existing PPAs, like xorg-edgers, for timely graphics driver updates won’t notice any driver difference for now (as the drivers have simply been copied over from some of those PPAs to this new one).

“The real fun begins when new drivers are released,” he adds.

Right now, as of writing, the PPA contains a batch of recent Nvidia drivers for Ubuntu 12.04.1 through 15.10. Note all drivers are available for all releases.

It should go without saying: unless you know what you’re doing, and how to undo it, do not follow the instructions that follow.

To add the PPA run the following in a new Terminal window:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa

To upgrade to or install the latest Nvidia drivers:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nvidia-355

Remember: if the PPA breaks your system you are allowed to keep both halves.

To roll back/undo changes made the PPA you should use the ppa-purge command.

Feel free to leave any advice/help/corrections/thoughts on the PPA (and as I don’t have NVIDIA hardware to test the above out for myself, it’s all appreciated) in the comments below.

This post, Ubuntu NVIDIA Graphics Drivers PPA Is Ready For Action, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Firefox 40 Improves Video Playback, Scrolling on Linux

Wednesday 12th of August 2015 02:12:43 PM

Mozilla Firefox 40 has squeaked out to the world, and features the usual ragtag bag of stability, performance UI improvements plus critical security fixes.

By now the release should have found its way into the Update Manager on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, 14.04 LTS and Ubuntu 15.04. If you don’t have it you can run an apt-get update check to fetch it.

Once you’re newly upgraded you’ll be wondering what’s new. To fill you — and us — in, let’s take a gander.

New Firefox 40 Features

A close up on what’s new in Firefox 40

First things first: the elephant in the room.

The biggest  headline change arriving with Firefox 40 is for the sole benefit of those running the super-shiny, info-hungry Windows 10. If you’re interested in the changes, and as a great many of you dual-boot through gritted teeth, you may well be, be sure to check out Mozilla’s official blog post on the matter. 

Firefox 40 features a batch of other changes, too.

 The release notes call out “improved scrolling, graphics, and video playback performance with off main thread compositing” for Linux users.

What does this entail? Mozilla’s Nicolas Silva explains:

“With [off main thread compositing], Gecko does the compositing work on a dedicated thread. This thread is never waiting for the main thread, so we can make sure it runs smoothly. This lets us, for example, have video decoding threads talk directly to the compositor which improves video playback dramatically.”

OMTC paves the way for further improvements down the line, including improved hardware acceleration with OpenGL (though this relies on Firefox switching to GTK3, a process still underway).

Firefox 40 also provides protection against malware by warning you of potentially unsafe or unwanted software downloads as you browse the web.

While not strictly a Linux-specific concern, most tricksy malware distribution methods are dumb. I’m sure you have seen those fake embedded system pop-ups telling you to ‘update Flash’ (not to the real one, of course) or ‘clean your system now’ (yeah, why don’t I clean my clothes with mud while i’m at it?) on your web travels.

The downloads that these sites and methods are trying to hawk are (largely) useless on Linux, but the fact they’re dodgy is still good to know.

Elsewhere in Firefox 40:

  • Redesigned add-on manager
  • Suggested Tiles use your browser history to recommend new sites (US only)
  • A warning is shown for browser extensions not signed by Mozilla 
  • JPG scaling is now faster and uses less resources
  • Firefox Hello lets you set an open tab as conversation topic/context
  • Developers can make use of a new page ruler highlighting tool
Get Firefox 40.0 for Linux

Firefox 40.0 is a free download and is available to download directly from Mozilla website.

If you’re an Ubuntu user running 12.04 LTS, 14.04 LTE or the more recent 15.04 release and have an older version of the browser installed you will receive this latest update automatically. There’s no need to add a PPA, download something from an obscure website or faff around creaking symlinks to the official binaries.

Let us know what you think of this release, or Firefox in general, in the comments section below. 

This post, Firefox 40 Improves Video Playback, Scrolling on Linux, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Ubuntu Want To Make It Easier For You To Install The Latest Nvidia Linux Driver

Tuesday 11th of August 2015 08:23:22 PM

Ubuntu Gamers are on the rise -and so is demand for the latest drivers

Installing the latest upstream NVIDIA graphics driver on Ubuntu could be about to get much easier. 

Ubuntu developers are considering the creation of a brand new ‘official’ PPA to distribute the latest closed-source NVIDIA binary drivers to desktop users.

The move would benefit Ubuntu gamers without risking the stability of the OS for everyone else.

New upstream drivers would be installed and updated from this new PPA only when a user explicitly opts-in to it. Everyone else would continue to receive and use the more recent stable NVIDIA Linux driver snapshot included in the Ubuntu archive.

Why Is This Needed?

Ubuntu provides drivers – but they’re not the latest

The closed-source NVIDIA graphics drivers that are available to install on Ubuntu from the archive (using the command line, synaptic or through the additional drivers tool) work fine for most and can handle the composited Unity desktop shell with ease.

For gaming needs it’s a different story.

If you want to squeeze every last frame and HD texture out of the latest big-name Steam game you’ll need the latest binary drivers blob.

‘Installing the very latest Nvidia Linux driver on Ubuntu is not easy and not always safe.’

The more recent the driver the more likely it is to support the latest features and technologies, or come pre-packed with game-specific tweaks and bug fixes too.

The problem is that installing the very latest Nvidia Linux driver on Ubuntu is not easy and not always safe.

To fill the void many third-party PPAs maintained by enthusiasts have emerged. Since many of these PPAs also distribute other experimental or bleeding-edge software their use is not without risk. Adding a bleeding edge PPA is often the fastest way to entirely hose a system!

A solution that lets Ubuntu users install the latest propriety graphics drivers as offered in third-party PPAs is needed but with the safety catch of being able to roll-back to the stable archive version if needed.

‘Demand for fresh drivers is hard to ignore’

‘A solution that lets Ubuntu users get the latest hardware drivers safely is coming.’

‘The demand for fresh drivers in a fast developing market is becoming hard to ignore, users are going to want the latest upstream has to offer,’ Castro explains in an e-mail to the Ubuntu Desktop mailing list.

‘[NVIDIA] can deliver a kickass experience with almost no effort from the user [in Windows 10]. Until we can convince NVIDIA to do the same with Ubuntu we’re going to have to pick up the slack.’

Castro’s proposition of a “blessed” NVIDIA PPA is the easiest way to do this.

Gamers would be able to opt-in to receive new drivers from the PPA straight from Ubuntu’s default proprietary hardware drivers tool — no need for them to copy and paste terminal commands from websites or wiki pages.

The drivers within this PPA would be packaged and maintained by a select band of community members and receive benefits from being a semi-official option, namely automated testing.

As Castro himself puts it: ‘People want the latest bling, and no matter what they’re going to do it. We might as well put a framework around it so people can get what they want without breaking their computer.’

Would you make use of this PPA? How would you rate the performance of the default Nvidia drivers on Ubuntu? Share your thoughts in the comments, folks! 

This post, Ubuntu Want To Make It Easier For You To Install The Latest Nvidia Linux Driver, was written by Joey-Elijah Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.

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