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Quick Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition Review

Wednesday 24th of June 2015 12:29:00 PM

Back in September 2014, Meizu - one of the top smartphone manufacturers in China -, released the Meizu MX4 phone running Android OS. In may 2015, this high-end, premium looking phone was made available in China running Ubuntu Phone (Ubuntu Touch), and starting tomorrow (June 25th) it will go on sale in Europe as well.
Like the other Ubuntu phones (BQ Aquaris E4.5 and Aquarius E5 HD Ubuntu Edition), the Meizu MX4 targets early adopters and developers, so don’t get your hopes up about native apps like Facebook and Instagram just yet. Still, if you are an Ubuntu user and are looking for a slick device that packs plenty of processing power and a high-end camera, you will find the Meizu quite appealing.
Courtesy of Canonical, I was one of the lucky few "insiders" who received an Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition phone. The phone I received is not identical to the one that will go on sale in Europe and for this reason there might be some differences between the phone I’m testing and the one that will be available for purchase.

Even though the recently released Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition has pretty good specs, I think it's safe to say that the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition is the first high end Ubuntu phone. The device looks top notch and feels high quality - at 144 x 75.2 x 8.9 mm, the phone is robust and the ergonomics are quite good.

The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition features a beautiful 1080p display (5.36 inch, 1152 x 1920px resolution, 418ppi) with a capacitive circular button under it. Almost the entire front is covered with Gorilla Glass 3, with the exception of a small excision for the earpiece.

Besides the earpiece, above the display there's also a 2 MP front camera which is not exactly impressive. However, it can record 1080p@30fps videos so it should be good enough.
A small note about the circular capacitive button I mentioned earlier: after I got the phone, it was updated to version "1" and back then, this button could be used to bring up the Today (home) scope for the Ubuntu edition, but this no longer works after a recent update ("2") and right now, this button does nothing.
From what I've read, this button allows unlocking the device (as an alternative to the power button) on the Android version but, like I said, that's not the case with the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition.

At a first look, both the phone frame and the matte back cover (which is removable, despite the battery being non-removable, so the only time you'll have to remove it is when you insert the microSIM card) seem to be made from metal, but in fact only the frame is, while the back is plastic. Even so, the phone doesn't just look but feels premium altogether.

The back features an impressive 20.7 MP camera with dual-LED (dual tone) flash, which uses a Sony premium IMX220 Exmor RS sensor that supports 4x digital zoom and is capable of 4k video - well, at least in theory because Ubuntu Phone allows 1080px at most right now, but hopefully the OS will get 4K recording support soon.

The camera takes great pictures in the sunlight and with a flash however, low light pictures are pretty grainy and unclear - you can see a few pictures I took today using Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition below:

The photos above are not in full size. If you want to take a look at the original photos, you can find them HERE.
Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition (left) and BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition (right)
As far as calls are concerned, the phone works great - the sound is crystal clear and thanks to the extra microphone for noise cancellation, the person you're talking to should hear you loud and clear as well. Also, I didn't experience any signal issues.
The phone's MediaTek MT6595 chipset with eight cores (A17 2.2GHz x 4 and A7 1.7GHz x 4), quad core PowerVR G6200 MP4 GPU and 2GB of RAM make sure that the phone doesn't lag and it's as snappy as Ubuntu Phone allows it to be. I'm saying that because it is a bit annoying that each time you open an app (that wasn't already running) you have to wait about 2 seconds for it to load, but that's OS and not hardware related and it will hopefully improve.
Regarding the Internet connectivity, Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition has everything you'd expect in a high-end phone: dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wifi as well as 3G and 4G (it supports TD-LTE and FDD-LTE 4G networks, which can reach a download speed of 150 Mbps). 
Here, I should mention that initially, my Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition didn't connect to 3g/4g and I had to enable "Data roaming" to get it to work but after a couple of restarts, that wasn't required any more (now 3g/4g work with data roaming disabled) - I'm not sure why this occurred.
I ran some Internet speed tests (using and not the popular because the phone doesn't support Flash) and the results are pretty much the same as on my HTC One M8. Although not of very much use, since it depends on the carrier, signal and so on, here's a 4G speed test taken on Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition:

Regarding the battery, I can't post my conclusions just yet, because I've been using the phone either heavily or not at all - after a few days of regular phone usage, I'll update this article with information about this.

According the the phone OS Build Details, the device I've received is currently running Ubuntu 15.04 (20150611 build). I didn't review the OS because there are basically no visual changes since my previous Ubuntu Phone review (of the BQ Aquaris E4.5). Check out  THIS article for information on the OS.

Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition specs:
  • Screen: 5.36" 1152 x 1920px IPS LCD display (418 ppi) with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • Dimensions: 144 x 75.2 x 8.9 mm (5.67 x 2.96 x 0.35 in) / weight: 147 g (5.19 oz)
  • CPU: Quad-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A17 & quad-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A7 (MediaTek 6595, Meizu customized version)
  • GPU: PowerVR G6200 MP4
  • Camera: 20.7 megapixels, dual tone LED flash, 4K video recording at 30fps rear camera and 2.0 megapixels, 1080p video recording at 30fps front camera
  • Internal storage: only the 16 GB will be available in Europe
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Battery: Non-removable 3100 mAh
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Bluetooth v4.0, A2DP
  • GPS with with A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, QZSS
  • MicroSIM
  • Colors:  silver and gold

Getting Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition
Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition (16GB internal memory variant only) will be available for purchase in Europe on 25th of June and is priced at 299 Euros. According the the official announcement, the "phone will be available through an invitation only system in the form of an interactive origami wall on Meizu's website".

More information will be available HERE (the link should go live tomorrow).
The phone is already available in China since May 17th.

Fresh Player Plugin Gets Hardware Accelerated Video Decoding Via VA-API And VDPAU

Thursday 18th of June 2015 03:18:00 PM
Fresh Player Plugin was updated recently with support for hardware accelerated video decoding via VA-API and VDPAU, along with video capture support (ALSA, JACK, PulseAudio) and other improvements.
Fresh Player Plugin is a wrapper that allows Linux users to use Pepper Flash from Google Chrome in Firefox and other NPAPI-compatible browsers. This is useful because the latest Flash Player is only available for Google Chrome (it comes bundled with it) on Linux, while other browsers, like Firefox, are stuck with an old Adobe Flash Player version (11.2).
Thanks to the new VA-API/VDPAU hardware accelerated video decoding available in the latest Fresh Player Plugin, Flash videos should use less CPU (because they'll be using the GPU).
Here's an example: with the same YouTube flash (you can use the HTML5 video player on YouTube, but this is for testing purposes) 1080p fullscreen video, I got a CPU usage of around 115% with Adobe Flash 11.2 without hardware accelerated video decoding and ~13% CPU usage using the latest Fresh Player plugin with accelerated video rendering (via VA-API) enabled:
Flash 11.2 (Firefox) without hardware acceleration
Fresh Player Plugin (with Flash 18 from Google Chrome, used in Firefox) with hardware accelerated video decoding enabled (VA-API)
Note that I edited the first screenshot: I manually added htop on top of the video (but what htop displays is real - it was running on my second monitor) because I couldn't get it to stay on top with Flash 11.2.
Fresh Player Plugin supports hardware accelerated video decoding via VA-API and VDPAU, under Ubuntu 15.04 and 14.10 only, because it requires a newer libav version, which is not available in the official Ubuntu 14.04 (and older) repositories. Also, this is disabled by default "due to possible whole system lock-ups on some hardware", so it might not work properly for everyone (but I didn't encounter any issues in my test).
To enable hardware accelerated video decoding via VA-API and VDPAU (Ubuntu 14.10 and 15.04 only), copy the example freshplayerplugin configuration file from /usr/share/doc/freshplayerplugin to ~/.config/ (and remove ".example" from the filename) - to do this, simply use the following command in a terminal:
cp /usr/share/doc/freshplayerplugin/freshwrapper.conf.example ~/.config/freshwrapper.conf
Then open ~/.config/freshwrapper.conf with a text editor, search for "enable_hwdec = 0" and change its value from "0" to "1". There are separate options for enabling/disabling VA-API and VDPAU too - look for "enable_vaapi" and "enable_vdpau" in the same file.

You'll also need to install the VA-API / VDPAU driver for this to work. For Intel graphics, you'll need to install the "i965-va-driver" package, for Nvidia you'll need "libvdpau1" and for AMD graphics (Catalyst older than 14.12) you'll have to install "xvba-va-driver" (XvBA-based backend for VA API - AMD fglrx implementation). And of course, you'll need the latest Fresh Player Plugin from GIT (available in the main WebUpd8 PPA).

If you want to check if everything was configured properly, load a YouTube flash video, right click it, select "Stats for nerds" and the frame that shows up should say "accelerated video rendering, accelerated video decoding" (like in the second screenshot above).
Note that I only tested this with an Intel graphics card / VA-API (and Ubuntu 15.04).

Install Fresh Player Plugin
If you use Ubuntu / Linux Mint and derivatives, you can install Fresh Player Plugin by using the main WebUpd8 PPA. For installation and configuration instruction, see: Install Fresh Player Plugin In Ubuntu Via PPA (Pepper Flash Wrapper For Firefox)

Arch Linux users can install the latest Fresh Player Plugin (Git) via AUR.
For other Linux distributions, you'll have to compile it from source.

How To Stream To Twitch From Linux Using OBS Studio

Thursday 18th of June 2015 01:15:00 PM
OBS Studio is a free, open source application which allows video recording and live streaming. The app can be used to stream to various popular websites such as, YouTube,, Vaughn Live /, DailyMotion,,,, along with custom streaming servers.

The original Open Broadcaster Software was rewritten, with the main goal of being multiplatform, along with a more powerful API and a more thorough feature set. The new multiplatform OBS Studio is currently in alpha and is available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
OBS features:
  • Encoding using H264 (x264) and AAC;
  • Unlimited number of scenes and sources;
  • Live RTMP streaming to Twitch, YouTube, DailyMotion, Hitbox and more;
  • File output to MP4 or FLV;
  • GPU-based game capture for high performance game streaming;
  • webcams, capture cards, etc. device support;
  • bilinear, bicubic or lanczos3 resampling;
  • configurable hotkeys, multiple audio tracks support and more.
In Linux, OBS allows recording a window or a monitor, on top of which you can add various overlays such as an image, text, webcam or media source and of course, audio input (microphone) and output (the game, a music player, etc.), with various options.
Below I'll try to make a quick start guide for streaming to via OBS running under Linux (Ubuntu in my case). But before that, you can see a quick test I've done earlier with OBS Studio (0.10.1) streaming World of Warcraft to Twitch from Ubuntu 15.04 (there are no video quality settings unfortunately because that's only available for Twitch partners).

Install OBS Studio (Multiplatform) in Ubuntu or Linux Mint
1. Install FFmpeg.

For Ubuntu 14.04 and 14.10 / Linux Mint 17.x / elementary OS Freya and so on, you'll need to add a FFmpeg PPA because these Ubuntu versions don't provide FFmpeg. Add the PPA and install FFmpeg using the following commands:sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kirillshkrogalev/ffmpeg-next
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ffmpegThese FFmpeg packages are backported from Ubuntu 15.04 and they don't overwrite libav so they won't break anything.
For Ubuntu 15.04, FFmpeg is available in the official repositories so to install it, use the following command:sudo apt-get install ffmpeg
2. Install OBS Studio.

To add the official OBS Studio PPA and install the app in Ubuntu 15.04, 14.10 or 14.04 / Linux Mint 17.x / elementary OS Freya and so on, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:obsproject/obs-studio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install obs-studio
OBS Studio for other Linux distributions (unofficial packages): Arch Linux (AUR - git version), openSUSE and Gentoo.

For other Linux distributions, you'll need to build it from source.

Setting up OBS Studio for streaming to
1. Add your Twitch Stream Key to OBS

The first thing you'll need to do to be able to stream to using OBS is to get your Twitch Stream Key from HERE - copy the key and in OBS select "Settings" and on the Stream tab, select "Twitch" under "Service", then paste the key you just copied under "Stream key":

Here you should also select the Twitch server that's closest to you.

2. Add sources

Next, you'll want to add some sources. The first source should be the video (game) source so click the "+" icon under "Sources" and select "Window capture (Xcomposite)", click OK and select the game window:

You can use "Screen capture (XSHM)" instead of "Window capture", but I recommend capturing the window because you'll be able to have other windows on top of the game without them showing up in your live stream.
Then, add any other sources you'd like, like "Video Capture Device" (webcam), "Audio Input Capture" (microphone), "Audio Output Capture" (the sound you hear through the speakers - it can be the game sound, a music player, etc.), text, an image and so on.
Note that the source order is important. For instance, if you're playing a fullscreen game and the webcam source ("Video Capture Device") is under the "Window capture" or "Screen capture" source, it won't show up, so you'll need to move it using the up/down arrows so that the webcam source is above the capture source. The same goes for text and image overlays, etc.
3. Optional configuration tweaks

a) if your video colors are incorrect, select the source from the "Sources" list, click "Properties" (it's the third button under "Sources") and enable "Swap red and blue":

b) if your computer has a slow CPU and you're getting a low quality / fps live stream, you can try changing the x264 CPU preset to "superfast" or "ultrafast" (default is "veryfast"):

This can be done via Settings > Output > select "Advanced" for the "Output Mode" from the dropdown > on the Streaming tab scroll down and you'll find an option called "CPU Usage Preset".
If the performance is still bad, you can try setting a lower video resolution and bitrate (these settings can be found in the same "Streaming" tab as the "CPU Usage Preset" - see above).
c) if you have an old computer and/or a bad Internet connection, you may want to decrease the frame rate (default is 30) or, if you have a good computer and Internet connection and you play something like Arena/PvP, you my want to increase it.
The FPS settings can be found in OBS Settings > Video (you can switch to "Integer FPS value" to use a custom value instead of those predefined under "Common FPS Values"):

You may also want to read the official OBS quick start and overview guides (but note that they are for the old OBS version so the UI looks different and some settings maybe not be available any more, etc.).

Report any bugs you may encounter with OBS, HERE.
Also see: Indicator Lets You Know When The Channels You Follow Go Live

Get New Wine Features Faster With `Wine Staging` [PPA]

Thursday 11th of June 2015 12:42:00 PM
Wine Staging is a Wine version which provides bug fixes and features that aren't yet available in regular Wine versions.
Wine Staging (formerly known as Wine Compholio) was initially created for Pipelight, a project that brings Silverlight and other Windows-only plugins to Linux web browsers. The project has evolved and some Linux distributions, like Fedora, provide it in the official repositories instead of the regular Wine version.
The latest Wine Staging provides the following extra features and bug fixes:
  • CSMT (Commandstream multithreading) for better graphic performance
  • CUDA / PhysX / NVENC Support for NVIDIA graphic cards
  • DXVA2 GPU video decoding (experimental)
  • EAX 1 support
  • Fixes for various upstream regressions
  • Job Object support
  • Loading of .NET CLI images without entry point
  • Named Pipe message mode support (Linux kernel >= 3.4 only)
  • Performance improvements for IO-heavy programs and memory allocation functions
  • S3 texture compression (DXTn) support
  • Threadpool API support
  • Various improvements to d3dx9
  • Various speed improvements (shared memory, RT priority)
  • Windows ACL support
  • Wine PulseAudio driver
For a complete list, see the Wine Staging GitHub page.

Some of these features are optional and they can enabled or disabled via Wine Configuration, on the Staging tab:

Install Wine Staging in Ubuntu or Linux Mint
Wine Staging is available in the Pipelight PPA for Ubuntu, Linux Mint and derivatives. To add the PPA and install Wine Staging, use the following commands:sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends wine-stagingIf you're on 64bit and want to use the 64bit Wine version, also install 'wine-staging-amd64':sudo apt-get install wine-staging-amd64The Wine Staging executables aren't installed in /usr/bin (and aren't available in your PATH by default), but under /opt/wine-staging/bin/. Thanks to this, you can continue using the regular Wine version as well as Wine Staging - to run any Wine Staging executable, simply add "/opt/wine-staging/bin/" in front of the executable, like this:
/opt/wine-staging/bin/winecfg... and so on.

However, if you don't want to type the full path each time you want to use Wine Staging, you can install a package which provides compatibility symlinks (but you won't be able to use the regular Wine version any more):sudo apt-get install wine-staging-compat
For more information, see the Wine Staging Usage page.

The Wine Staging developers provide binaries for Arch Linux, Debian, Gentoo, Mageia and OpenSUSE - for installation instructions, see THIS page.

Workarounds For Not Being Able to Mount The Windows 8 Partition In Linux Due to Hibernation

Thursday 11th of June 2015 11:50:00 AM
If you reboot Windows 8 / 8.1 and boot into a Linux distribution, you'll notice that you can't access the Windows partition and an error similar to the one below is displayed:Error mounting /dev/sdb2 at /media/username/FC56938B569344F4: Command-line `mount -t "ntfs" -o "uhelper=udisks2,nodev,nosuid,uid=1000,gid=1000" "/dev/sdb2" "/media/username/FC56938B569344F4"' exited with non-zero exit status 14: Windows is hibernated, refused to mount.
Failed to mount '/dev/sdb2': Operation not permitted
The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown
Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting), or mount the volume
read-only with the 'ro' mount option.Here's a screenshot too:

This occurs because of a features in Windows 8 called Fast Startup which is enabled by default. Using this, Windows doesn't completely shutdown and instead it uses a hybrid shutdown, which is like (partial) hibernating, allowing Windows 8 to boot faster.
Forcing this partition to be mounted as read/write is not recommended since the saved Windows session will be lost and it might even cause Windows to crash stop working.
There are three ways to get around this (well, there are more, but these are the safest) and get the Windows 8 NTFS partition to mount in Linux:
A. Boot into Windows and restart it.

Since hybrid shutdown is only used well... on shutdown, restarting Windows is enough to get the Windows 8 NTFS partition to mount in Linux.
B. Disable Fast Startup.

This may not be a good idea since disabling Fast Startup means Windows 8 will take longer to boot. That said, here's how to disable it.
Open Control Panel and go to Power Options > Choose what the power buttons do > Change settings that are currently unavailable > uncheck the "Turon on fast startup" box > Save changes.
Here are a few screenshots with these steps:

After this, Windows should perform a full shutdown instead of a hybrid shutdown. If it still doesn't work, you may need to completely turn off hibernation by opening a command prompt as administrator and typing:powercfg /h off
C. Mount the Windows NTFS partition (in Linux) in read-only mode

If you only need to view or copy some files from the Windows partition, you can mount it in read-only mode (you won't be able to modify or copy any files to the Windows partition), using the following command:sudo mkdir -p /media/$USER/windows
sudo mount -t ntfs-3g -o ro /dev/sdXX /media/$USER/windows
Where "sdXX" is the partition Windows is installed on (you should see this in the error message displayed when trying to mount the partition using a file manager - see the error message from the beginning of the article), e.g.: "sda1", "sdb2", etc.
via / further reading eightforums, AskUbuntu 1 2

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