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Updated: 32 min 48 sec ago

27 Super Cool Raspberry Pi Zero W Projects for DIY Enthusiasts

Friday 30th of October 2020 05:06:23 AM

The small form factor of the Raspberry Pi Zero W enables a new range of projects. In fact, a lot of people use the Pi Zero in the final version of the project after prototyping on a different full-sized Pi board. And, that’s because it consumes much less power compared to the flagship Pi boards and makes it ideal to build battery powered gadgets.

Preview Product Price CanaKit Raspberry Pi Zero W (Wireless) Complete Starter Kit - 16 GB Edition $32.99 Buy on Amazon

After scouring Instructables, Reddit, Hackaday, other maker oriented communities and my own experience with Pi, I have compiled a list of projects built around the Raspberry Pi Zero and the Raspberry Pi Zero W. The community is extremely innovative and all these projects make impressive use of various features of this maker board.

So, in addition to the awesome list of Raspberry Pi Projects that we covered earlier, here, we will be focusing on Raspberry Pi Zero!

Top Creative Projects You Can Build With Raspberry Pi Zero

Of course, you’re free to use some Raspberry Pi Zero alternatives and try the same project ideas mentioned below.

1. Portable Game Console

This is by far my favorite project built around the Raspberry Pi Zero, hence featured at the top. Today we have emulators for most of the retro games. This project puts the Pi Zero in the classic game-boy form factor. You can play most of your favorite retro games and you can play them anywhere.

This project is also beautifully documented in YouTube video(s) and on Instructables.

Portable Game Console 2. DIY Smart Speaker Powered by Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa has always been very tinkerer friendly and makers around the world have built all kinds of Alexa based devices. This project also adds RGB programmable LED’s to make it look a little more like the echo speaker.

DIY Smart Speaker 3. Home Network Music System

Getting a proper home music system setup is usually expensive. However, with the inexpensive Raspberry Pi Zero, you can utilize your MP3 collection to set up a home network music system.

This project uses the PiDrive, PiDrive is basically a Raspberry Pi Zero W attached to a hard disk. Unfortunately, I think it has been discontinued but you can also build it using a normal Pi Zero W in different configurations. You can play local music or even stream from different services.

Pi MusicBox 4. Network Ad Blocker using Pi-Hole

This is something I personally use on a daily basis and it has completely changed my internet experience. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to see advertisements while you browse around online, an Ad blocker using Raspberry Pi would be exciting, right?

Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi can block all the ads on your entire network. Anyone on the network with an active Pi-Hole will have an ad-free experience. It also speeds up your internet experience since the bandwidth used by ads is freed up.

You can watch Linus’ video to get an idea or refer to the detailed post in Linus Tech Tips forums linked in the button below.

Ad-Blocker using Pi Hole 5. AirPlay Speaker using Raspberry Pi Zero

AirPlay is a chromecast equivalent in the Apple ecosystem, you can cast media from your Apple devices to an AirPlay supported speaker.

This project is built very well with 3D printed parts and you can find detailed instructions for it.

AirPlay Speaker 6. DIY Google Home with a Bluetooth Speaker

This is another nifty little project which is a tinkerer’s dream. Building your own smart speaker powered by the Google Assistant? Indeed, exciting!

Here, a Pi Zero is paired with a Bluetooth speaker, microphone and the Google Assistant SDK to achieve some functionalities. You can ask questions and do most of the things you can with the official Google Home device. This project does not handle the casting part of the Google Home experience though.

DIY Google Home 7. Pedal Pi – Raspberry Pi Zero Guitar Pedal

Pedal Pi is a programmable Lo-Fi guitar pedal built using the Pi Zero where you can program your own custom effects. The project is fully open source (including the hardware) as well. It goes to prove how versatile the Pi Zero can be.

It can be an incredibly fun experience for people who are makers and also into digital music.

Pedal Pi 8. ZeroBot – FPV Robot

There are a lot of different robots you can build using the Pi Zero. It is almost perfect for any kind of robot that you can think of building. It has ample amount of GPIO, a decent processor, a camera interface and the choice of software stack and programming language.

The ZeroBot is an FPV bot which also has a camera and is able to transmit what it is seeing. It even features a completely 3D printed body.

You can find detailed instructions here.

9. WiFi Security Camera

Raspberry Pi Zero W comes with a CSI connector where you can connect the camera module. This compatibility also lets you easily build a WiFi-powered CCTV camera(s) for your home at a very reasonable price compared to commercial products.

The motionEyeOS is a purposely built to convert your SBC (in this case the Pi Zero) to a surveillance system. You can find more information in the video above or head to the link below.

WiFi Security Camera 10. PIX-E GIF Camera

GIF’s have taken over social media and all IM platforms. Just thinking of a dedicated GIF camera makes me chuckle. That’s exactly what this project is all about. I am very curious about how it would turn out with the new HQ camera which has a much better image quality.

This project has been documented really well with accompanying videos on Hackaday

GIF Camera 11. Wearable Timelapse Camera

One of the sleekest camera project I’ve seen, this is a wearable camera. You can take time-lapses, and videos from a first person’s perspective.

This is a project by Adafruit and is documented really well. Refer to the video above to get an idea or head to the link below.

Wearable Timelapse Camera 12. Telescope Camera

Building a telescope camera is one of the most popular camera based applications for the Pi Zero. Makers around the world have taken amazing pictures with their DIY telescope cameras.

Telescope Camera 13. Kodi on Pi Zero

Kodi is one of the best open source media server software for making a media box for your TV. The amazing part is that it also runs on the Pi Zero W.

Now you can DIY an alternative to the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Kodi on Pi Zero 14. OctoPrint – Wireless 3D Printing

If you are into 3D printing, you would have heard about OctoPrint at some point. OctoPrint unlocks many feature comforts we enjoy with normal printers like sending print jobs directly from the computer to the 3D printer instead of using a micro SD card. You can also attach a webcam and monitor your prints and control all aspects of the printer.

OctoPrint is usually used with the bigger Pi’s but it can also be used with the Raspberry Pi Zero W with some soldering and mods. It is important to note that there is low WiFi interference when using the Pi Zero since it can impact prints. Here are some references talking about OctoPrint on Pi Zero to help you build it yourself:

15. Pirate Radio Station


This seems like quite a fun idea, you can actually make the Pi Zero W broadcast using FM.

It also happens to be a simple project and you don’t need many additional components either. You can be your own neighborhood RJ, do make sure to check out the legal aspects of a pirate radio station in your country.

Pirate Radio Station 16. IoT Smart Alarm Clock


Here’s a project making something which might sound very trivial but nevertheless is super cool and underrated.

The freedom of being able to program your own alarm clock, automating it with scripts and making your life a little easier and fun (and still not waking up) sounds exciting!

IoT Smart Alarm Clock 17. Pi Zero Tesla Coil

This is the most unexpected yet an amazing project I’ve come across which uses the Pi Zero W.

It doesn’t get cooler than playing music on a tesla coil using the Pi. Make sure you watch the video.

Tesla Coil with Pi Zero 18. Network Performance Monitoring using Pi Zero

If you like to keep tabs on your network, you should check out this project.

This is a bandwidth monitor built using the Pi Zero W that features a nifty little screen to display important stats.

Bandwidth Monitor 19. Pi Pod – Raspberry Pi Zero Music Player


It’s 2020 and you might be thinking who would want a portable music player since mobile phones have replaced them almost entirely. But, there are always people (including myself) who would want a device dedicated to music and does not do anything else.

This project features the Raspberry Pi Zero W in another form and looks pretty neat. It’s called the Pi Pod.

You can also design your own 3D printable enclosure and customize every element of the music player.

Pi Pod 20. Raspberry Pi Drone


The Pi Zero packs in enough features and processing power for it be at the heart of a drone. It is light weight, cheaper than some alternative drone specific boards too. You also get the freedom of using different firmware(s) or code one on your own.

There are also many open source designs available for the frame of the drone on Thingiverse.

Pi Drone 21. Internet Connected Info Display


The Pi Zero W is capable of connecting to the internet via WiFi, it also has all the GPIO and display outputs to make a highly functional device to display information from the internet.

The freedom of programming means that you can have the display show any information you need. Your google calendar events, stock prices and anything you can find on the internet.
Here are a couple of interesting projects which are built around this idea.

  1. YouTube Subscriber Counter
  2. Raspberry Pi Internet Connected Information Display
22. Raspberry Pi Pocket Projector

Ever since Texas Instruments came out with the mini projector evaluation board, a Raspberry Pi Zero based projector has been a very popular project.

If you can get your hands on the projector module, this can be a very interesting build. This is not a beginner-friendly project, but a tinkerer should feel right at home. You can find all the relevant details from the video above.

23. VPN Server

In today’s world, extra care needs to be taken about companies barging into one’s privacy and using a VPN is becoming more and more commonplace.

Fret not, you can utilize the Raspberry Pi Zero W with OpenVPN to add an extra layer of security to your home network. This can be a great for small families where everyone in the house can be protected and don’t need to separate VPN subscriptions.

VPN Server 24. Weather Station

This is a very cool project, a complete weather station which can display various weather metrics for the day and forecasts too. It even includes a 3D printed case which looks pretty sharp. The amazing part is that you can use the display to show things other than weather as well.

As I also noticed in another similar project on Instructables, you may also tweak it with your own custom database and website.

Weather Station 25. Ambient Lighting System for TV

An ambient lighting system enhances the TV experience, this is another amazing project involving the Raspberry Pi Zero.

In real life this effect feels like a dynamic portrait mode applied to the screen and whatever is being shown on the screen, makes the experience a lot immersive.

GreatScott (a popular YouTuber) for content based around electronics and DIY shows you around with the project in the video above. You may also refer to the written instructions from the link below.

Ambient Lighting System 26. Wireless Network Printer

The Pi Zero W is a great board to make any old printer free from being fixed to one computer and have the freedom of placing it anywhere.

This way print jobs can be sent from multiple computers, phones on the same network. This is a quality of life improvement which is highly underrated, even in households.

This project utilizes CUPS running on Pi Zero W to make your printer wireless.

Wireless Network Printer 27. Pi Zero Cluster

You can pack in 10’s of these tiny computers together to have access to massive amounts of parallel processing. The GPU’s on these SBC’s can be utilized for challenging compute needs.

Regular Raspberry Pi’s have long been used to make clusters and Raspberry Pi based super computers consisting of 100’s – 1000’s of Pi’s. Since the introduction of the Pi Zero with it’s lower price and size, it is possible to put more of them into a small space.

There are many custom boards which are built to hold multiple Pi Zero’s.

Pi Zero Cluster Closing Thoughts

The projects featured here are only a tip of the iceberg. You can find many more projects if you look around on the internet. The versatility of the Raspberry Pi Zero is unprecedented, combined with its affordability it is one of the most used SBC by makers and tinkerers around the world.

What did you build with the Raspberry Pi Zero ? Put it in the comments below along with your favorite projects.

How to Use apt-cache Command in Debian, Ubuntu and Other Linux Distributions

Thursday 29th of October 2020 04:34:29 AM

With apt-cache command, you can search for package details in the local APT cache. Learn to use apt-cache command in this tutorial.

What is apt-cache command used for?

The apt package manager works on a local cache of package metadata. The metadata usually consists information like package name, version, description, dependencies, its repository and developers. With the apt-cache command, you can query this local APT cache and get relevant information.

You can search for the availability of a package, its version number, its dependencies among other things. I’ll show you how to use the apt-cache command with examples.

The location of APT cache is /var/lib/apt/lists/ directory. Which repository metadata to cache depends on the repositories added in your source list in the /etc/apt/sources.list file and additional repository files located in ls /etc/apt/sources.list.d directory.

Surprisingly, apt-cache doesn’t clear the APT cache. For that you’ll have to use the apt-get clean command.

Needless to say, the APT packaging system is used on Debian and Debian-based Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS etc. You cannot use it on Arch or Fedora.

Using apt-cache command

Like any other Linux command, there are several options available with apt-cache and you can always refer to its man page to read about them.

However, you probably won’t need to use all of them. This is why I am going to show you only the most common and useful examples of the apt-cache command in this tutorial.

Always update

It is always a good idea to update the local APT cache to sync it with the remote repositories. How do you do that? You use the command:

sudo apt update

Search for packages

The most common use of apt-cache command is for finding package. You can use a regex pattern to search for a package in the local APT cache.

apt-cache search package_name

By default, it looks for the search term in both the name and description of the package. It shows the matching package along with its short description in alphabetical order.

You can narrow down your search to look for the search term in package names only.

apt-cache search --names-only package_name

If you want complete details of all the matched packages, you may use the --full flag. It can also be used with --names-only flag.

Get detailed package information

If you know the exact package name (or if you have manged to find it with the search), you can get the detailed metadata information on the package.

apt-cache show package_name

You can see all kind of details in the package metadata like name, version, developer, maintainer, repository, short and long description, package size and even checksum.

There is another option showpkg that displays information about the package name, version and its forward and reverse dependencies.

apt-cache showpkg package_name apt-cache policy

This is one of the rarely used option of apt-cache command. The policy options helps you debug the issue related to the preference file.

If you specify the package name, it will show whether the package is installed, which version is available from which repository and its priority.

By default, each installed package version has a priority of 100 and a non-installed package has a priority of 500. The same package may have more than one version with a different priority. APT installs the version with higher priority unless the installed version is newer.

If this doesn’t make sense, it’s okay. It will be extremely rare for a regular Linux user to dwell this deep into package management.

Check dependencies and reverse dependencies of a package

You can check the dependencies of a package before (or even after) installing it. It also shows all the possible packages that can fulfill the dependency.

apt-cache depends package

You may also check which packages are dependent on a certain package by checking the reverse dependencies with apt-cahce.

Frankly, I was also surprised to see that a DevOps tool like Ansible has a dependency on a funny Linux command like Cowsay. I think it’s perhaps because after installing Ansible, it displays some message on the nodes.

Check unmet dependencies

You may get troubled with unmet dependencies issue in Ubuntu or other Linux. The apt-cache command provides option to check all the unmet dependencies of various available packages on your system.

apt-cache unmet

Conclusion

You can list all available packages with the apt-cache command. The output would be huge, so I suggest combining it with wc command to get a total number of available packages like this:

apt-cache pkgnames | wc -l

Did you notice that you don’t need to be root user for using apt-cache command?

The newer apt command has a few options available to match the features of apt-cache command. Since apt is new, apt-get and its associated commands like apt-cache are still preferred to be used in scripts.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. If you have questions about any point discussed above or suggestion to improve it, please let me know in the comments.

Linux Kernel 5.10 Will be the Next LTS Release and it has Some Exciting Improvements Lined Up

Wednesday 28th of October 2020 04:07:10 AM

Development for Linux Kernel 5.10 is in progress. It’s been confirmed to be a long term support release and it will be bringing newer hardware support among other promised features.

Linux Kernel 5.10 will be Long Term Support Release

Greg Kroah-Hartman, the key stable kernel maintainer, addressed an “Ask the Expert” session at Linux Foundation’s Open-Source Summit Europe and confirmed that Linux 5.10 will be the next LTS release.

Even though there were some early speculations of 5.9 being the LTS release, Greg clarified that the last kernel release of the year will always be an LTS release.

As of now, Linux Kernel 5.4 series happens to be the latest LTS version out there which added a lot of improvements and hardware support. Also, considering the development progress with Linux Kernel 5.8 being the biggest release so far and Linux 5.10’s first release candidate being close to it, there’s a lot of things going on under the hood.

Because people keep asking me… https://t.co/cUcGoXEZtX

— Greg K-H (@gregkh) October 26, 2020

Let’s take a look at some of the features and improvements that you can expect with Linux Kernel 5.10.

Linux kernel 5.10 features

Note: Linux Kernel 5.10 is still in early development. So, we will be updating the article regularly for the latest additions/feature updates.

AMD Zen 3 Processor Support

The new Ryzen 5000 lineup is one of the biggest buzzes of 2020. So, with Linux Kernel 5.10 release candidate version, various additions are being made for Zen 3 processors.

Intel Rocket Lake Support

I do not hope for a lot with Intel’s Rocket Lake chipsets arriving Q1 next year (2021). But, considering that Intel’s constantly squeezing everything out of that 14 nm process, it is definitely a good thing to see work done for Intel Rocket Lake on Linux Kernel 5.10

Open Source Driver for Radeon RX 6000 series

Even though we’re covering this a day before the Big Navi reveal, the Radeon RX 6000 series is definitely going to be something impressive to compete with NVIDIA RTX 3000 series.

Of course, unless it suffers from the same issues the Vega series or the 5000 series met with.

It’s good to see work being already done for an open source driver to support the next-gen Radeon GPUs on Linux Kernel 5.10.

File System Optimizations and Storage Improvements

Phoronix reports on file-system optimizations and storage improvements with 5.10 as well. So, judging by that, we should see some performance improvements.

Other Improvements

Undoubtedly, you should expect a great deal of driver updates and hardware supports with the new kernel.

For now, the support for SoundBlaster AE-7, early support for NVIDIA Orin (AI processor), and Tiger Lake GPU improvements seem to be the key highlights.

A stable release for Linux Kernel 5.10 should be expected around the mid-December timeline. It will be supported for at least 2 years but you could end up with security/bug fix updates till 2026. So, we will have to stay tuned to the development for anything exciting on the next Linux Kernel 5.10 LTS release.

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Recommended Read:

.ugb-72f2a4d .ugb-blog-posts__featured-image{border-radius:0px !important}.ugb-72f2a4d .ugb-blog-posts__title a{color:#000000 !important}.ugb-72f2a4d .ugb-blog-posts__title a:hover{color:#00b6ba !important}Explained! Why Your Distribution Still Using an ‘Outdated’ Linux Kernel?

A new stable kernel is released every 2-3 months yet your distribution might still be using an old, outdated Linux kernel. But you don’t need to worry and here’s why!

What do you think about the upcoming Linux Kernel 5.10 release? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

How to Clear Terminal Screen in Ubuntu and Other Linux Distributions [Beginner’s Tip]

Tuesday 27th of October 2020 01:45:25 PM

When you are working in the terminal, often you’ll find that your terminal screen is filled up with too many commands and their outputs.

You may want to clear the terminal to declutter the screen and focus on the next task you are going to perform. Clearing the Linux terminal screen helps a lot, trust me.

Clear Linux terminal with clear command

So, how do you clear terminal in Linux? The simplest and the most common way is to use the clear command:

clear

You need no option with the clear command. It’s that simple but there are some additional things you need to know about it.

The clear command and other methods of clearing screen may depend on the terminal emulator you are using. Terminal emulator is the terminal application that you use for accessing the Linux shell (command line).

If you use clear command on Ubuntu with GNOME Terminal, it will clear the screen and you won’t be able to see what else you had on the screen previously.

In many other terminal emulators or Putty, it may just clear the screen for one page. If you scroll with mouse or PageUp and PageDown keys, you can still access the old screen outputs.

Frankly, it depends on your need. If you suddenly realize that you need to refer to the output of a previously run command, perhaps having that option available will be helpful.

Other ways to clear terminal screen in Linux

Clear command is not the only way to clear the terminal screen.

You can use Ctrl+L keyboard shortcut in Linux to clear the screen. It works in most terminal emulators.

Ctrl+L

If you use Ctrl+L and clear command in GNOME terminal (default in Ubuntu), you’ll notice the difference between their impact. Ctrl+L moves the screen one page down giving the illusion of a clean screen but you can still access the command output history by scrolling up.

Some other terminal emulators have this keyboard shortcut set at Ctrl+Shift+K.

You can also use reset command for clearing the terminal screen. Actually, this command performs a complete terminal re-initialization. It could take a bit longer than clear command, though.

reset

There are a couple of other complicated ways to clear the screen when you want to clear the screen completely. But since the command is a bit complicated, it’s better to use it as alias in Linux:

alias cls='printf "\033c"'

You can add this alias to your bash profile so that it is available as command.

I know this was a pretty basic topic and most Linux users probably already knew it but it doesn’t harm in covering the elementary topics for the new Linux users. Isn’t it?

Got some secretive tip on clearing terminal screen? Why not share it with us?

Map Your Gamepad Buttons With Keyboard, Mouse, or Macros/Scripts Using AntiMicroX in Linux

Monday 26th of October 2020 02:30:15 PM

Brief: AntiMicroX is a GUI tool to map your gamepad with your keyboard, mouse, or custom macros/scripts in Linux. Let’s take a closer look at it.

Gaming peripherals on Linux do not have a great reputation, but we do have some interesting open source tools that can make things easier for you. For instance, I’ve previously covered a tool Piper which lets you configure your gaming mouse.

This time, let me introduce you to an exciting open source tool that lets you utilize your game pad by mapping it to your keyboard, mouse, scripts, or macros.

In this article, I’ll mention why you might need it and its key features to help you know more about it.

AntiMicroX: An open source tool to map your gamepad

Of course, this isn’t for everyone but an open source GUI tool for something useful, why not?

Maybe you have a system that you utilize for media consumption (or as a media server on Linux). Or, maybe you want to use a desktop application using your gamepad.

Also, you may want to use it to play a game that does not offer gamepad support.

For such cases, AntiMicroX is a tool that you would want to explore (even if that’s just for fun).

Features of AntiMicroX
  • Map with keyboard buttons
  • Controller mapping to make sure the host detects the correct triggers
  • Multiple controller profile
  • Ability to launch an executable using the gamepad
  • Map with mouse buttons
  • Gamepad calibration option
  • Tweak Gamepad poll rate (if needed)
  • Auto profile support
Installing AntiMicroX on Linux

AntiMicroX offers a wide range of options to get it installed on a Linux distribution. You will find a DEB package, Flatpak package, and an AppImage file.

It is easy to install it using the deb package. In addition to that, you may refer to our Flatpak guide or AppImage guide to get started installing AntiMicroX as well.

You can also build it from source if needed. Nevertheless, you should find all the necessary instructions in its GitHub page along with the packages in its releases section.

AntiMicroX .ugb-34ac6ab-wrapper.ugb-container__wrapper{border-radius:0px !important;padding-top:0 !important;padding-bottom:0 !important;background-color:#f1f1f1 !important}.ugb-34ac6ab-wrapper > .ugb-container__side{padding-top:35px !important;padding-bottom:35px !important}.ugb-34ac6ab-wrapper.ugb-container__wrapper:before{background-color:#f1f1f1 !important}.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > h1,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > h2,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > h3,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > h4,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > h5,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > h6{color:#222222}.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > p,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > ol li,.ugb-34ac6ab-content-wrapper > ul li{color:#222222}

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.ugb-a907b3b .ugb-blog-posts__featured-image{border-radius:0px !important}.ugb-a907b3b .ugb-blog-posts__title a{color:#000000 !important}.ugb-a907b3b .ugb-blog-posts__title a:hover{color:#00b6ba !important}How to Configure Gaming Mouse on Linux Using Piper GUI Tool

Love gaming on Linux? Take your gaming to the next level by configuring your gaming mouse in Linux using Piper GUI application.

My Thoughts on Using AntiMicroX on Linux

Surprisingly, mapping the game pad buttons was easier than you would expect. I was able to map the buttons with my keyboard and assign custom macros/scripts as well.

Mapping the buttons with the mouse isn’t that simple and may not work well if you already have the mouse buttons assigned for different macros (like in my case). For gaming, it would be nice to calibrate and map the gamepad buttons properly before pairing it up with the keyboard buttons.

It worked just fine with my generic controller. You can definitely try it out.

Did you know about this? Have you tried it yet? Now that we’re looking for interesting open-source tools, do you know about anything else similar to this for gaming on Linux?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Microsoft Disables GitHub Repository of Open Source Project youtube-dl

Sunday 25th of October 2020 04:49:17 AM

The open source project youtube-dl is one of the best tools to download videos from YouTube and many other video hosting websites.

But the existence of this project is under threat right now. Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (RIAA) sent a notice to GitHub against youtube-dl and its forked repositories on 23 Oct 2020.

Microsoft owned GitHub complied immediately and within 24 hours, the official youtube-dl and its forked repository were disabled as DMCA takedown.

What is a DMCA takedown?

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a US copyright law regarding copyright and the internet.

If the rightful owner of content (video, audio, text) believes that a certain webpage is using (or enabling others to use) the content without authorization (infringing upon the rights of the content owner), the owner can send a DMCA takedown notice to the hosting service.

Upon receiving the DMCA takedown notice, the hosting service may disable/delete the webpage (or entire website).

There is also a provision of counter notice where the other party can challenge the takedown.

RIAA’s letter against youtube-dl

As per the letter sent by RIAA, it accuses youtube-dl of infringing upon the rights of its members. It accuses youtube-dl:

“The clear purpose of this source code is to (i) circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube, and (ii) reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorization for such use. We note that the source code is described on GitHub as “a command-line program to download videos from YouTube.com and a few more sites.””

The letter mentions how the GitHub repository of youtube-dl mentions that it is a program for downloading videos from the YouTube.

The README of the youtube-dl had mentioned downloading videos of Justin Timberlake, Taylor Siwft etc in the command usage examples. That has also been used in the notice to make a case against youtube-dl.

Microsoft’s GitHub considered/converted the letter into a DMCA notice and disabled youtube-dl and seventeen other repositories mentioned in the letter.

John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge, says that it is not an assertion that youtube-dl is an infringing work but the RIAA claim is that it’s illegal.

This isn’t really a DMCA request. I don’t see an assertion that youtube-dl is an infringing work. Rather the claim is that it’s illegal per se https://t.co/vQ16nVleCf

— John Bergmayer (@bergmayer) October 23, 2020 What lies ahead for youtube-dl?

The youtube-dl team should surely file a counter appeal because they are not serving copyright content to the users directly.

But they should ensure a couple of things:

  • Consider changing their name and remove youtube from it so that they are safe from copyright notice from Google (owner of YouTube) in the future.
  • They should not mention any examples in their repository that demonstrates downloading of a copyrighted video from YouTube.
  • Put up a notice that onus of downloading videos lies on the user and discourage them from downloading copyrighted videos. This is something Linux torrent clients like Transmission already do.
Projects like youtube-dl need to live

youtube-dl is used by many other tools and websites to provide the ability to download videos from YouTube and other video hosting websites.

This may sound like piracy but that might not be the case all the time. Some video creators make their videos available under Creative Common license so that others can use this work.

Downloading such copyright-free videos through youtube-dl should not be a problem.

Many people across the globe have limited internet connectivity. Downloading educational videos so that they can refer to it later without spending bandwidth is a genuine use of such a tool.

Was it fair to takedown youtbe-dl?

I am surprised at the swift action taken by Microsoft GitHub in this case. They chickened out so easily.

Imagine a bunch of DMCA trolls start sending takedown notices to other projects on the pretext of copyright. This is a possibility. Remember how a patent troll tried to extort money from GNOME’s Shotwell image viewer program.

I do hope that the youtube-dl team counters the takedown and doesn’t give into the pressure.

I know that it is an open source project and its code can be hosted on a GitHub alternative website like GitLab. However, RIAA is a powerful organization and they can pressure other code hosting websites to remove youtube-dl repositories again. The repeated takedowns may also demoralize the developers into abandoning the project.

I have always wondered why YouTube doesn’t allow the video creators to have the ability to make their videos available for download either for free or for a fee.

What do you think of the entire episode? Do you think the takedown is right? Do express your views.

KDE Neon vs Kubuntu: What’s the Difference Between the Two KDE Distribution?

Friday 23rd of October 2020 06:50:01 AM

When you find two Linux distributions based on Ubuntu and powered up by KDE, which one do you choose?

  • Kubuntu is the official KDE flavor from Ubuntu.
  • KDE Neon is the Ubuntu-based distribution by KDE itself.

I know it is often confusing especially if you have never used either of them but got them as recommendations for usage. Hence, to help you make a decision, I thought of compiling a list of differences (and similarities) between KDE Neon and Kubuntu.

Let’s start with getting to know the similarities and then proceed with the differences.

Note: Depending on your system, your experience with the distributions might differ. So, take this article as a reference and not a “what’s better” comparison.

KDE Neon vs Kubuntu: Feature wise comparison

It’s always good to compare distribution based on their similarities. So, theoretically, I’ve tried to put down the most important differences.

However, it is worth noting that the compatibility, performance, and the stability of the distros will vary depending on your hardware and hence, that has not been accounted here.

Ubuntu as the Base

Yes, both the Linux distributions are based on Ubuntu. However, KDE Neon is based only on the latest Ubuntu LTS release while Kubuntu offers an Ubuntu LTS based edition and a non-LTS edition as well.

So, with KDE Neon, you would expect to get your hands on the latest Ubuntu features right after a few months of the next Ubuntu LTS release (2 years). But, with Kubuntu, you have got the option to opt for a non-LTS release and try on the latest Ubuntu releases with 6 months of software updates.

KDE Neon does offer testing editions and developer editions but those are meant to test pre-release KDE software.

KDE Plasma Desktop

Even though both of the distros feature KDE plasma desktop and you can get the same level of customization, KDE Neon gets the latest KDE Plasma desktop release first.

If you did not know already, KDE Neon is developed by the official KDE team and was announced by Jonathan Riddell (Founder of Kubuntu) after he was forced out of Kubuntu by Canonical.

So, not just limited to the latest Plasma desktop, but if you want the latest and greatest of KDE as soon as possible, KDE Neon is the perfect choice for that.

Kubuntu will eventually get the update for newer KDE software — but it will take time. If you’re not too sure about the latest KDE software/desktop and all you need is a stable KDE-powered system, you should go with Kubuntu LTS releases.

Pre-installed Software

Out of the box, you will find Kubuntu to have several essential tools and applications pre-installed. But, with KDE Neon, you would need to find and install several applications and tools.

To give you some perspective, KDE Neon might turn out to be a lightweight distro when compared to Kubuntu. However, for new Linux users, they might find Kubuntu as an easy-to-use experience with more essential software and tools pre-installed.

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Recommended Read:

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If you are not using a metered connection, this may not matter at all. But, just for the sake of it, I should mention that KDE Neon gets more software updates considering the regular Ubuntu LTS fixes/updates along with KDE software updates.

With Kubuntu, you just get the Ubuntu LTS updates (unless you’re using the non-LTS edition). So, technically, you can expect less number of updates.

Ubuntu with KDE vs Plasma Experience

I know if you haven’t tried both of them, you might think of them as pretty similar. But, Kubuntu is an official flavour of Ubuntu that focused more on the experience with Ubuntu on a KDE desktop environment.

While KDE Neon is technically the same thing, but it is all about getting the best-in-class Plasma desktop experience with the latest stuff on board.

Even though both the distributions work amazing out of the box, they have a different vision and the development proceeds on both them accordingly. You just have to decide what you want for yourself and choose one of them.

Hardware Compatibility Kubuntu Focus Laptop

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a fact-based point here. But, as per my quick look on the feedback or experiences shared by the users online, it seems that Kubuntu works with a wide range of old hardware along with new hardware (potentially dating back to 2012) while KDE Neon may not.

It’s just a thing to keep in mind if you try KDE Neon and it doesn’t work for some reason. You know what to do.

Wrapping Up

So, what would it be? KDE Neon or Kubuntu? That’s really is your choice.

Both are good choices for a beginner-friendly Linux distribution but if you want the latest KDE Plasma desktop, KDE Neon gets the edge here. You can read more about it in our review of KDE Neon.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments down below and what do you find good/bad on either of them.

Ubuntu 20.10 Available to Download! Here are 11 New Features in Ubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla

Thursday 22nd of October 2020 10:48:38 AM

Ubuntu 20.10 releases today. An Ubuntu fan may get excited about the new features it brings.

Ubuntu 20.10 codenamed Groovy Gorilla is a non-LTS release with nine months of life cycle. You cannot expect drastic changes between subsequent releases.

It doesn’t mean you won’t find new things in Ubuntu 20.10. There are some performance improvements, new Linux kernel and visual changes thanks to the latest release of GNOME 3.38 (and other desktop environments in various other Ubuntu flavors).

Let’s see what new features Ubuntu 20.10 brings.

New features in Ubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla

I am listing the features in the default GNOME edition of Ubuntu 20.10. You’ll find the same visual changes that you have already seen in the GNOME version 3.38 release.

Default Ubuntu 20.10 Wallpaper

Ubuntu 20.10 has the purple shade Groovy Gorilla theme default wallpaper. However, I took a liking for the yellow wallpaper of an old camera roll (nostalgia perhaps). I have used the same wallpaper in most of the screenshots here.

1. Calendar events in the message tray

One of my favorite features in this release. Want to see all the tasks and events (birthdays, meetings, reminders) due today? It’s right there in the message tray.

To use this feature, you should have added some events in the GNOME calendar app that comes preinstalled on Ubuntu.

Don’t worry. You don’t necessarily need to create the events, reminders manually in GNOME calendar. If you add online accounts from the settings, you can sync your Google, Microsoft or Nextcloud calendars without any efforts.

2. Battery percentage indicator

Not a path-breaking stuff but you don’t need to install GNOME Tweaks just for displaying battery percentage on the top panel. This option is now available in Power settings.

3. QR Code WiFi sharing

Ubuntu 20.10 makes it a bit easier to share the Wired Network through hotspot. Instead of sharing the WiFi hotspot with a password, you can now generate a QR code that can be accessed by mobile devices and connect to the hotspot.

4. Muted mic indicator

Small but useful. You can now see a muted mic icon on the top panel if your microphone is muted during an audio/video call or while recording audio.

Handy feature, isn’t it? I think we should also have a similar feature for the webcam so that is easier to ascertain that the camera is off or on during videoconferencing.

P.S. The mic icon didn’t turn to mute when I used the mute switch on my Sennheiser USB headset.

5. Restart option in Power Off menu

A tiny change again. It is now easier to restart Ubuntu with one less mouse click as you can see the restart option under the Power Off in the status menu.

6. Improved fingerprint login support Image Credit: OMG! Ubuntu

If you have a new laptop with fingerprint reader, you’re in for a treat. Ubuntu 20.10 has better support for fingerprint login.

BTW, if you like such newer methods of authentication, you probably would like to know about setting up face unlock in Ubuntu with some extra effort.

7. App reorder and organizing

You could already drag and drop applications in the menu to group them. This is improved a bit as you can now position the icons as per your preference in the application group.

Also, the group will only display some icons at one moment. Additional icons are displayed on the next page.

8. Raspberry Pi 4 support

Ubuntu finally now has Raspberry Pi support with a few ifs and buts. You can use Ubuntu 20.10 arm64 image on a Raspberry Pi 4 with at least 4 GB of RAM. The micro SD card should be at least 16 GB in size.

9. Kernel 5.8 brings USB 4 (Thunderbolt port 3) support and more under the hood changes

Ubuntu 20.10 has Linux kernel version 5.8 and it has several hardware support improvements. You have USB 4 (Thunderbolt port 3) support, Airtime Queue limits for better WiFi connection quality, Intel Gen11 (Ice Lake) and Gen12 (Tiger Lake) graphics support among many other changes.

You’ll also get high precision touchpad scrolling.

10. nftables replaces iptables

In Ubuntu 20.10, nftables is now the default backend for firewall. The legacy iptables tool is being replaced.

If you are not aware, iptables and nftables are CLI tool for creating, managing firewall rules on Linux. Both tools are developed by the same organization. The newer nftables tries to streamline the complicated command structure of iptables.

11. Revamped screenshot tool

There are plenty of screenshot tools available for Ubuntu. Tools like Flameshot are rich in features but nothing beats the default GNOME screenshot tool in the simplicity.

The GNOME screenshot tool has been revamped and it has a clean new look now but no new features as far as I see.

You can compare the looks of the screenshot tool in the image below. Just move the pointer let or right.

As always…Newer version of popular software

You can always make some effort to install the newer version of a software but it is a lot more convenient when it is available from Ubuntu’s repositories.

A new release provides newer version of the popular open source software like LibreOffice, Inkscape, GIMP etc.

LibreOffice has a smoother new look in Ubuntu 20.10 thanks to version 7.

Thunderbird email client now has integrated calendar and PGP encryption support with version 78.3.

We are working on a video to show you Ubuntu 20.10 features in action. Here’s the raw footage. I’ll replace it with a more polished version in some hours.

Is it worth upgrading to 20.10?

It depends on you. If you like to have the latest features and do not mind taking the trouble of upgrading Ubuntu version, you can upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10 or do a fresh installation.

Here are a few things that you might or might not be aware of but good to know anyway:

  • Ubuntu 20.10 will reach end of life in July 2021. You’ll be forced to upgrade to Ubuntu 21.04 then.
  • You can upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10 from Ubuntu 20.04 but not from earlier versions like 18.04 and 19.10.
  • If you upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10, you cannot downgrade to 20.04. You’ll have to install Ubuntu 20.04 afresh.
  • Ubuntu 20.04 is LTS release and it will be supported till 2025. But it may not get new features like latest GNOME or latest version of popular open source software.
Download or upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10

Ubuntu 20.10 is available to download from Ubuntu’s official website. You can find the download links on the page below:

Download Ubuntu 20.10

If you are using Ubuntu 20.04 and you want to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10, you should set the notification for any new version in the Software & Updates tool.

What do you think of the features in Ubuntu 20.10? Do you think it is good enough to make you jump to 20.10? What features you would have liked to see here? Please share your opinion in the comments section.

You can Surf Internet in Linux Terminal With These Command Line Browsers

Tuesday 20th of October 2020 01:55:25 PM

I’m guessing that you are probably using Firefox or a Chrome-based browser like Brave to read this article. Or, maybe, Google Chrome or Chromium.

In other words, you are utilizing a GUI-based approach to browse the web. However, back in the days, people used the terminal to fetch resources and browse the web because everything was mostly text-based information.

Even though you cannot get every information from a terminal now, you can still try the command line browsers for some text-based information and open a web page from the Linux terminal.

Not just limited to that, but if you are accessing a remote server or stuck in a terminal without a GUI, a terminal web browser can prove to be useful as well.

So, in this article, I will be mentioning some terminal based web browsers that you can try on Linux.

Best Terminal-based Web Browsers for Linux Users

Note: The list is in no particular order of ranking.

1. W3M

w3m is a popular open-source text-based web browser for the terminal. Even though the original project is no longer active, an active version of it is being maintained by a different developer Tatsuya Kinoshita.

w3m is quite simple, supports SSL connections, colors, and in-line images as well. Of course, depending on what resource you are trying to access, things might look different on your end. As per my quick test, it didn’t seem to load up DuckDuckGo but I could use Google in terminal just fine.

You can simply type w3m in the terminal to get help after installation. If you’re curious, you can also check out the repository at GitHub.

How to install and use w3m?

W3M is available on most of the default repositories for any Debian-based Linux distribution. If you have an Arch-based distro, you might want to check AUR if it’s not available directly.

For Ubuntu, you can install it by typing in:

sudo apt install w3m w3m-img

Here, we are installing the w3m package along with image extension for in-line image support. Next, to get started, you have to simply follow the command below:

w3m xyz.com

Of course, you need to replace xyz.com to any website that you want to browse/test. Finally, you should know that you can use the keyboard arrow keys to navigate and press enter when you want to take an action.

To quit, you can press SHIFT+Q, and to go back to the previous page — SHIFT+B. Additional shortcuts include SHIFT + T to open a new tab and SHIFT + U to open a new URL.

You can explore more about it by heading to its man page as well.

2. Lynx

Lynx is yet another open source command line browser which you can try. Fortunately, more websites tend to work when using Lynx, so I’d say it is definitely better in that aspect. I was able to load up DuckDuckGo and make it work.

In addition to that, I also noticed that it lets you accept/deny cookies when visiting various web resources. You can set it to always accept or deny as well. So, that’s a good thing.

On the other hand, the window does not re-size well while using it from the terminal. I haven’t looked for any solutions to that, so if you’re trying this out, you might want to do that. In either case, it works great and you get all the instructions for the keyboard shortcuts right when you launch it in the terminal.

Note that it does not match the system terminal theme, so it will look different no matter how your terminal looks like.

How to install Lynx?

Unlike w3m, you do get some Win32 installers if you’re interested to try. But, on Linux, it is available on the most of the default repositories.

For Ubuntu, you just need to type in:

sudo apt install lynx

To get started, you just have to follow the command below:

lynx examplewebsite.com

Here, you just need to replace the example website with the resource you want to visit.

If you want to explore the packages for other Linux distros, you can check out their official website resources.

3. Links2

Links2 is an interesting text-based browser that you can easily utilize on your terminal with a good user experience. It gives you a nice interface to type in the URL and then proceed as soon as you launch it.

It is worth noting that the theme will depend on your terminal settings, I have it set as “black-green”, hence this is what you see. Once you launch it as a command line browser, you just need to press any key to bring the URL prompt or Q to quit it. It works good enough and renders text from most of the sites.

Unlike Lynx, you do not get the ability to accept/reject cookies. Other than that, it seems to work just fine.

How to install Links2?

As you’d expect, you will find it available in the most of the default repositories. For Ubuntu, you can install it by typing the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install links2

You can refer to its official website for packages or documentations if you want to install it on any other Linux distribution.

4. eLinks

eLinks is similar to Links2 — but it is no longer maintained. You will still find it in the default repositories of various distributions, hence, I kept it in this list.

It does not blend in with your system terminal theme. So, this may not be a pretty experience as a text-based browser without a “dark” mode if you needed that.

How to install eLinks?

On Ubuntu, it is easy to install it. You just have to type in the following in the terminal:

sudo apt install elinks

For other Linux distributions, you should find it available on the standard repositories. But, you can refer to the official installation instructions if you do not find it in the repository.

Wrapping Up

It’s no surprise that there aren’t a lot of text-based web browsers to run on the terminal. Some projects like Browsh have tried to present a modern Linux command-line browser but it did not work in my case.

While tools like curl and wget allow you to download files from the Linux command line, these terminal-based web browsers provide additional features.

In addition to command-line browsers, you may also like to try some command line games for Linux, if you want to play around in the terminal.

What do you think about the text-based web browsers for Linux terminal? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Got Kids? Limit Computer Usage Per Account in Linux With Timekpr-nExt

Monday 19th of October 2020 07:35:04 AM

Open source software highlight of this week is Timekpr-nExt. It is a GUI application to limit the computer usage for certain accounts on a Linux system. This is a handy utility for parents who do not want children to spend excessive time on the computer.

Use Timekpr-nExt to limit computer usage on Linux

If you have young children at home who spend too much time on computer, you may want to put some sort of restriction on the usage.

Timekpr-nExt enables you to limit computer usage for certain accounts based on the time of day, number of hours a day, week or month. You may also set time interval to force the account user to take break.

After the given time expires, the user is automatically logged out and cannot log back in until the restriction conditions are satisfied.

Of course, this means that you need to have separate non-admin (no sudo access) accounts for the children. If the kids accounts also have admin access, they can change the settings easily. Kids are smart, you know.

Features of Timekpr-nExt

Apart from an annoyingly stylized name, Timekpr-nExt has the following features:

  • Limit system usage as day wise limit, daily limit, weekly or monthly limit
  • You can also set access restrictions based on time and hour
  • Users can be shown notification about how much time they have left
  • Set the lockout action (terminate session, shutdown, suspend or lock screen)
  • Track the time usage of the accounts

Keep the following things in mind:

  • Check carefully which account you are configuring. Do not lock yourself out.
  • Hit the apply or set button for each configuration changes otherwise the changes won’t be set.
  • Children accounts should not have admin action otherwise they can overwrite the settings.

Read the documents about more information on using Timekpr-nExt.

Installing Timekpr-nExt on Linux

For Ubuntu-based Linux distributions (like Mint, Linux Lite etc), there is an official PPA available. You can install it by using the following commands one by one:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mjasnik/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install timekpr-next

Arch Linux users can find it in AUR. For others, please check your distribution’s repository. If there is no such package, you may try using the source code.

Timekpr-nExt Source Code

Again, do not use Timekpr-nExt for your own main account. You may lock yourself out.

You’ll see two instances of the application. Use the one with (SU) at the beginning.

Removing Timekpr-nExt

I cannot say for certain if removing Timekpr-nExt will also remove the restrictions you put in place for the users. It will be a good idea to manually restore them (putting 24 hr interval a day). There is no reset button here.

To remove this application (if you used PPA to install it), use the following command:

sudo apt-get remove --purge timekpr-next

Delete the PPA repository as well:

sudo add-apt-repository -r ppa:mjasnik/ppa

Like blocking adult content on Linux, this application is also children specific. Not everyone would find it useful but people with young children at home may use it if they feel the need.

Do you use some other application to monitor/restrict children from accessing computer?

Linux Jargon Buster: What is Flatpak? Everything Important You Need to Know About This Universal Packaging System

Sunday 18th of October 2020 06:28:51 AM

While reading the installation instructions of an application, you’ll often come across terms like “Flatpak”, “Snap”, and “AppImage”.

You might have already used some of them on Linux — but might not really know they are. Flatpak, Snap and AppImage they are ‘universal packaging systems’.

In an earlier article in the Linux Jargon Buster, you have learned about the package manager in Linux. So I won’t bother you with packaging anymore. I’ll highlight what is Flatpak and how it tries to solve problem as a universal packaging system.

What is Flatpak?

Flatpak is a package management utility that lets you distribute, install and manage software without needing to worry about dependencies, runtime, or the Linux distribution. Since you can install software without any issues irrespective on the Linux distribution (be it a Debian-based distro or an Arch-based distro), Flatpak is called universal package.

In case you’re curious, Alexander Larsson is the one responsible to create Flatpak and the history to Flatpak dates back to the summer of 2007. You can read more about his work and Flatpak’s history on his blog post.

It’s impressive to know what it is and how it came in to existence, but why was it created and how does it work?

What problem Flatpak solves?

With so many Linux distributions out there, managing & installing software is one of the most important aspects of managing a Linux system.

If you are an experienced Linux user, you can surely figure out the best way to do it. But, for beginners or for users who don’t want a learning curve to manage packages, these are some issues when using the traditional package formats (deb/rpm):

  • Need to resolve dependencies issues (dependencies refers to other packages that a program depends on to work)
  • Find required libraries to make the software work
  • Adapt to new package managers when switching Linux distributions
  • Not the most secure way of installing/managing software

In other words, with traditional package management systems there are some potential issues that you might encounter in order to make the software work for your system. And, not everyone has the time to troubleshoot!

That’s when something like Flatpak comes in to play.

Flatpak is one such open-source utility that helps you to distribute, manage/install packages without thinking about the Linux distribution you’re using or the dependencies/libraries that the program requires to run.

Now that you have an idea on what it is all about, let’s dive in deeper to know what Flatpak is, how it works, and some background on it.

How does Flatpak work? Image Credits: Flatpak Documentation

Flatpak apps run in an isolated environment (often referred as a sandbox). This sandbox contains everything that’s needed to run that specific program.

Basically, the sandbox includes the runtime and bundled libraries to fulfill the requirements of a program to run. You can learn more about the technical details in their official documentation.

Also, just because Flatpak apps are isolated, it cannot make any changes to your system without explicit permission from the host (you). So, Flatpak offers enhanced security to your system by keeping the applications isolated.

Where do you get Flatpak apps? Flathub

Please keep in mind that in order to use Flatpak packages, your Linux distributions must have Flatpak support. Some distributions like Fedora, Solus etc come with Flatpak support by default whereas you need to manually install Flatpak support in distributions like Ubuntu.

Even though Flatpak technology allows you to not rely on a centralized source for getting software, you will find using Flathub (built by Flatpak team) to distribute and manage software.

There could be other existing Flatpak repositories but none that I’m aware for my personal use-case.

Flatpak: Pros and Cons

No wonder that Flatpak is something impressive — it comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Here, I’ll list some of them:

Advantages of using Flatpak
  • Flatpak apps can run on any Linux distribution
  • They offer forward-compatibility, meaning — you don’t need to worry about the apps not working if you upgrade your Linux distro to a bleeding-edge version that’s not officially supported by the application.
  • You don’t need to rely on dependencies.
  • In some cases, you will find the latest and greatest version of a program for Flatpak.
  • Flatpak app distribution does not depend on a centralized server, meaning — you don’t get locked-in to one vendor.
  • Enhanced security for your system using sandboxed applications
  • Offers easy integration with an existing software center on your Linux distribution
Disadvantages of using Flatpak
  • It does not have server support yet. It’s only available for desktop Linux as of now.
  • Flatpak apps consume more disk space than you’d usually have when using deb/rpm files. And, you’d need to find ways to free up disk space eventually.
  • Just because it runs on an isolated environment, you may miss a couple of functionalities for some programs. For instance, Flatpak apps may not support your custom GTK theme.

Wrapping Up

I hope that now you have a good idea on what Flatpak is all about. If you want to explore more on installing and using Flatpak, I’d recommend you to read our Flatpak guide to get started.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please take a moment to share it across the social media platforms!

Different Types of Kernel for Arch Linux and How to Use Them

Saturday 17th of October 2020 06:23:01 AM

One of the reasons why people use Arch Linux is that it is a bleeding edge rolling release. You get most software and the Linux kernel before users of other distributions.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to always use the latest mainline kernel. There are several kernel options available, and I am going to show you switch kernels in Arch Linux.

Different types of kernels available for Arch Linux

First, let me tell you about different kinds of Linux kernels available to you as an Arch user.

Mainline kernel (package name: linux)

This is the latest stable Linux kernel. Most people use this kernel for the reason that it is the latest available kernel version.

LTS kernel (package name: linux-lts)

The linux-lts package gives you the latest long term support Linux kernel. There is no predefined life cycle for a LTS kernel but you can be assured to enjoy the same kernel version for a much longer period.

Kernel patches normally don’t break anything but a breakage is not impossible to happen. If your hardware isn’t the newest the market can offer, you can enjoy the bleeding edge software with increased stability by installing the slightly older LTS kernel.

Hardened kernel (package name: linux-hardened)

For the security concerned users, there is a hardened version of the latest stable kernel. Do note that several packages will not work when using this kernel.

Performance-tuned kernel (package name: linux-zen)

If you want to get the most out of your system, you can use the “Zen” kernel which is basically a fork from the latest kernel and provides tunes at the cost of throughput and power usage.

How to switch kernels on Arch Linux

Now that you are aware of various kernel choices, let’s see how to change kernel in Arch Linux.

It is a two step process:

  1. Install the Linux kernel of your choice
  2. Tweak the grub config file to add the newly installed kernel

Don’t worry, I am going to show you the steps in details.

Check the kernel version in arch Linux using this command:

uname -r

If it shows only a number

To switch kernels on Arch, can be simply done by installing the kernel that you want to use and tweak the grub configuration file.

Step 1: Install the kernel of your choice

You can use the pacman command to install the Linux kernel of your choice. You just need to know the package name.

You may also install more than one type of Linux kernels at the same time in the system. You can choose which kernel to use from the grub menu.

For the latest stable kernel:

sudo pacman -S linux

For the latest LTS kernel:

sudo pacman -S linux-lts

For latest stable kernel with hardened patches:

sudo pacman -S linux-hardened

To get the Zen kernel:

sudo pacman -S linux-zen Step 2: Tweak the grub configuration file to add more kernel options

By default, Arch Linux uses the latest kernel version as the default. Additional kernel versions are available from under the advanced options:

Additional Linux kernels are available under this option

However, I prefer to do things a bit different and a bit better (in my opinion). Here’s what I do:

  • Disable grub submenu so that all the available kernel versions are shown on the main screen (instead of under Advanced Options).
  • Configure grub to recall the last kernel entry you booted and use it as the default entry to boot from the next time.

Sounds a lot better already, does it not?

To do this you need to edit the GRUB configuration file. All the configuration files in general are located at the /etc directory.

Open your terminal and edit the config file in your favorite terminal-based text editor. I am using Nano editor:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

As you may notice I have changed the value that I mentioned but I have added another 2 lines so the final result should look like this:

GRUB_DISABLE_SUBMENU=y GRUB_DEFAULT=saved GRUB_SAVEDEFAULT=true

The first and optional line is used to disable the GRUB submenu. I find it easier when instantly I can see all my kernels on the GRUB screen without having to enter the advanced options submenu.

The second line is used to save the last kernel entry.

Lastly you need to ensure that GRUB will use as a default the last saved entry.

Save the configuration file and exit.

Step 3: Re-generate the GRUB configuration file

To make the changes effective you need to re-generate the configuration file. To do so, open the terminal and run the following command:

$ sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

If it looks familiar to you, you have used this command during the Arch Linux installation process.

Reboot your Linux system and select the kernel you want to use!

Conclusion

You don’t need to worry about updating the kernel in Arch Linux. If there are updates to your choice of kernel, it will be installed with the system updates. I guess you already know how to update Arch Linux system.

Switching kernels on Arch Linux is an easy to do process with several options tailored to your needs. I find the above method the safest and easiest as you don’t need to remove a kernel from your system. If you choose to run the latest kernel, it’s good to have installed the LTS kernel in case of a kernel panic.

I hope you liked this Arch Linux tip. Stay subscribed to It’s FOSS for more tips and tutorials.

Love Windows Calculator? You can Now Use it on Linux as Well

Thursday 15th of October 2020 03:08:31 PM

In the first quarter of 2019, Microsoft open sourced the Windows Calculator. Being open source, it allows developers to use it in their own applications.

I couldn’t care less for a calculator application but as some It’s FOSS readers pointed out, they like using the Windows Calculator.

After almost a year and a half, the ‘famed’ Windows Calculator is now available on Linux but not officially.

Windows Calculator on Linux

The team behind Uno Platform has ported the Windows Calculator to Linux and made it available as a Snap application.

Since it is not officially from Microsoft and is ported by Uno project, the application is named Uno Calculator.

Uno is a UI platform and it allows you to build native mobile, desktop, and WebAssembly apps with C# and XAML from a single code base. The UI looks the same on all devices.

Team Ubuntu has worked with the developers of Uno Platform to make it easier for developers of cross-platform applications to publish for Linux users, via the Snap Store.

If you are using Ubuntu or if you have Snap enabled on your Linux distribution, you can use the following command to install Uno Calculator using the following command:

sudo snap install uno-calculator

Note: At the time of writing this article, Uno Calculator has not been pushed to the stable branch. If you see an error, you can install it from the beta channel using this command:

sudo snap install uno-calculator --beta

Once installed, you can search for Uno Calculator in application menu and start using it.

Do you need Windows Calculator on Linux?

That depends on you to be honest.

You have the choice of GNOME Calculator that is pretty handy for most work. If you want advanced stuff, you have Qalculate.

But then if you often switch between Windows and Linux or if you have used Windows Calculator for a long time, you would find it useful.

I know some of the It’s FOSS readers don’t like Microsoft products or non-FOSS products or FOSS products from Microsoft. However, if it provides more choice for a Linux user, then why not?

Again, I have never used Windows Calculator so I cannot comment on its usefulness or superority (if any). Honestly, I hardly use calculator on the desktop. No, not because I am a human computer like Shakuntala Devi but more for the reason that I never really had the need.

What about you? Are you a fan of (now open source) Windows Calculator? Will you be using it on Linux?

4 Firefox Features You Should Be Using Right Now

Thursday 15th of October 2020 05:33:13 AM

Last month, I ditched Google Chrome for Firefox completely.

I was using Firefox as my secondary browser and Chrome was my primary browser because I have been using it for more than ten years and it has all my passwords and bookmarks stored.

Honestly, I was just lazy in switching the browser but it was way easier than I thought. Firefox imported the bookmarks from Google Chrome and I quickly arranged the folders on the main bookmark bar.

Similarly, I also exported all the saved account password and imported it into Firefox.

With these two things done, I happily started using Mozilla Firefox as my main browser. And this is when I started noticing and using obscure Firefox features that make my browsing experience better.

Firefox features to make your browsing experience better

If you too are a Firefox user, I highly recommend trying these features. Maybe it would become an integral part of your browsing habit.

1. Use Firefox account to sync account passwords, bookmarks across devices

Perhaps this is the first thing you should do after installing Firefox on Ubuntu or whichever operating system you use.

With Firefox account, you can choose to save your bookmarks, account passwords for various websites, browsing history across devices.

This is a great help when you reinstall the operating system or use your Firefox browser on a secondary system (like your home computer and your work computer).

You can also use it to send an opened tab to another device where you have Firefox installed and running. This is good for sharing URLs between your PC and your mobile.

Firefox also has a built-in password manager called Firefox Lockwise. You may use it as a standalone app on your smartphone. With that app, you can see the saved account details for logging into apps of your regular websites (like Amazon).

Personally, I use Bitwarden and that’s my current choice of password manager on Linux and Android.

2. Use reading (and listening) mode and enjoy web content in better way

Despite being right on the address bar, many Firefox users are unaware of the superb reader view option.

Reader View in Firefox

The reading mode changes the looks of a webpage to give you a clean and better reading experience. It removes the sidebar, ads and changes the fonts type and size.

You can control some aspects of the reading mode looks. You can change the font (between two choices), change the width of the content, font size, line height etc. You can also select light, dark and sepia themes.

There is an experimental listening mode as well. It doesn’t work that well in my opinion.

When you feel like going back to the original webpage, just click on the x symbol.

3. Use Firefox Relay to prevent email exploitation

Almost every website you visit these days on the web today would offer you email newsletters. But can you trust all of them?

You’ll notice that even if you unsubscribe from some newsletters, you still get their emails. Some times, when you sign up for some service/newsletter, you start getting emails from random sources because maybe that email database got leaked, or they sold your email address.

The Firefox Relay is an add-on that allows you to use “permanent fake email addresses”. You can use these addresses to sign up to newsletter and product updates.

The emails sent to these addresses are sent to Firefox Relay first and then Firefox Relay forwards it to your email address.

If at any time you feel like not receiving updates on that address, just pull the plug from Firefox Relay. Since your real email address was never exposed to the third party, you won’t be troubled with spam anymore.

Firefox Relay Example

If you remember, we had covered a similar service called Simple Login earlier. Firefox Relay is in beta but works fine.

4. Use Pocket for saving interesting articles from the web

Mozilla acquired Pocket (previously known as Read It Later) web-app a couple years ago. Mozilla is now trying to tightly integrate it with Firefox. You can see the option to save a webpage to Pocket beside the address bar.

Pocket is bookmarking mechanism with superpowers. Unlike bookmarks, Pocket saves entire webpage. You can read it ad-free, distraction-free (like reading mode in Firefox) at a later point of time. This is handy tool for people like me who find interesting things over the internet but don’t start reading it immediately.

Pocket is free to use for saving webpages and reading/listening to it later. They also have premium features (for a price) like permanently saving webpages (even if the website is deleted, the article is saved in Pocket), automatic tag suggestion, full-text search and ability to highlight interesting sections. I use Pocket Premium.

Pocket also has apps for Android and iPhone so that you can save and read your saved articles on the go.

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Recommended Read:

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Work faster and be more productive with these useful Firefox keyboard shortcuts.

There’s always more to explore

Firefox has a lot more to offer. You can explore the preferences and configure privacy and security options if you like. There are tons of add-ons you can use as per your requirements.

Prefer dark theme? You can turn on dark mode in Firefox. There are many more themes available if you like customizing the looks of your browser.

There is no end to exploration but in this article I wanted to show the features I consider essential.

Now that I have shared my favorite Firefox tips, why don’t you share your favorite Firefox feature or trick you love to use? The comment section is all yours.

KDE Plasma 5.20 is Here With Exciting Improvements

Tuesday 13th of October 2020 01:13:02 PM

KDE Plasma 5.20 is finally here and there’s a lot of things to be excited about, including the new wallpaper ‘Shell’ by Lucas Andrade.

It is worth noting that is not an LTS release unlike KDE Plasma 5.18 and will be maintained for the next 4 months or so. So, if you want the latest and greatest, you can surely go ahead and give it a try.

In this article, I shall mention the key highlights of KDE Plasma 5.20 from my experience with it on KDE Neon (Testing Edition).

Plasma 5.20 Features

If you like to see things in action, we made a feature overview video for you.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Linux videos Icon-only Taskbar

You must be already comfortable with a taskbar that mentions the title of the window along the icon. However, that takes a lot of space in the taskbar, which looks bad when you want to have a clean look with multiple applications/windows opened.

Not just limited to that, if you launch several windows of the same application, it will group them together and let you cycle through it from a single icon on the task bar.

So, with this update, you get an icon-only taskbar by default which makes it look a lot cleaner and you can have more things in the taskbar at a glance.

Digital Clock Applet with Date

If you’ve used any KDE-powered distro, you must have noticed that the digital clock applet (in the bottom-right corner) displays the time but not the date by default.

It’s always a good choice to have the date and time as well (at least I prefer that). So, with KDE Plasma 5.20, the applet will have both time and date.

Get Notified When your System almost Runs out of Space

I know this is not a big addition, but a necessary one. No matter whether your home directory is on a different partition, you will be notified when you’re about to run out of space.

Set the Charge Limit Below 100%

You are in for a treat if you are a laptop user. To help you preserve the battery health, you can now set a charge limit below 100%. I couldn’t show it to you because I use a desktop.

Workspace Improvements

Working with the workspaces on KDE desktop was already an impressive experience, now with the latest update, several tweaks have been made to take the user experience up a notch.

To start with, the system tray has been overhauled with a grid-like layout replacing the list view.

The default shortcut has been re-assigned with Meta+drag instead of Alt+drag to move/re-size windows to avoid conflicts with some other productivity apps with Alt+drag keybind support. You can also use the key binds like Meta + up/left/down arrow to corner-tile windows.

It is also easier to list all the disks using the old “Device Notifier” applet, which has been renamed to “Disks & Devices“.

If that wasn’t enough, you will also find improvements to KRunner, which is the essential application launcher or search utility for users. It will now remember the search text history and you can also have it centered on the screen instead of having it on top of the screen.

System Settings Improvements

The look and feel of the system setting is the same but it is more useful now. You will notice a new “Highlight changed settings” option which will show you the recent/modified changes when compared to the default values.

So, in that way, you can monitor any changes that you did accidentally or if someone else did it.

In addition to that, you also get to utilize S.M.A.R.T monitoring and disk failure notifications.

Wayland Support Improvements

If you prefer to use a Wayland session, you will be happy to know that it now supports Klipper and you can also middle-click to paste (on KDE apps only for the time being).

The much-needed screencasting support has also been added.

Other Improvements

Of course, you will notice some subtle visual improvements or adjustments for the look and feel. You may notice a smooth transition effect when changing the brightness. Similarly, when changing the brightness or volume, the on-screen display that pops up is now less obtrusive

Options like controlling the scroll speed of mouse/touchpad have been added to give you finer controls.

You can find the detailed list of changes in its official changelog, if you’re curious.

Wrapping Up

The changes are definitely impressive and should make the KDE experience better than ever before.

If you’re running KDE Neon, you should get the update soon. But, if you are on Kubuntu, you will have to try the 20.10 ISO to get your hands on Plasma 5.20.

What do you like the most among the list of changes? Have you tried it yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

LibreOffice Wants Apache to Drop the Ailing OpenOffice and Support LibreOffice Instead

Tuesday 13th of October 2020 11:03:04 AM

It is a no-brainer that Apache OpenOffice is still a relevant recommendation when we think about open source alternatives to Microsoft Office for Linux users. However, for the past several years, the development of OpenOffice is pretty much stale.

Of course, it is not a shocker, considering Abhishek wrote about the possibility of Apache OpenOffice shutting down back in 2016.

Now, in an open letter from The Document Foundation, they appeal Apache OpenOffice to recommend users to start using better alternatives like LibreOffice. In this article, I shall mention some highlights from the blog post by The Document Foundation and what it means to Apache OpenOffice.

Apache OpenOffice is History, LibreOffice is the Future?

Even though I didn’t use OpenOffice back in the day, it is safe to say that it is definitely not a modern open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. Not anymore, at least.

Yes, Apache OpenOffice is still something important for legacy users and was a great alternative a few years back.

Here’s the timeline of major releases for OpenOffice and LibreOffice:

Now that there’s no significant development taking place for OpenOffice, what’s the future of Apache OpenOffice? A fairly active project with no major releases by the largest open source foundation?

It does not sound promising and that is exactly what The Document Foundation highlights in their open letter:

OpenOffice(.org) – the “father project” of LibreOffice – was a great office suite, and changed the world. It has a fascinating history, but since 2014, Apache OpenOffice (its current home) hasn’t had a single major release. That’s right – no significant new features or major updates have arrived in over six years. Very few minor releases have been made, and there have been issues with timely security updates too.

For an average user, if they don’t know about LibreOffice, I would definitely want them to know. But, should the Apache Foundation suggest OpenOffice users to try LibreOffice to experience a better or advanced office suite?

I don’t know, maybe yes, or no?

…many users don’t know that LibreOffice exists. The OpenOffice brand is still so strong, even though the software hasn’t had a significant release for over six years, and is barely being developed or supported

As mentioned in the open letter, The Document Foundation highlights the advantages/improvements of LibreOffice over OpenOffice and appeals to Apache OpenOffice that they start recommending their users to try something better (i.e. LibreOffice):

We appeal to Apache OpenOffice to do the right thing. Our goal should be to get powerful, up-to-date and well-maintained productivity tools into the hands of as many people as possible. Let’s work together on that!

What Should Apache OpenOffice Do?

If OpenOffice does the work, users may not need the effort to look for alternatives. So, is it a good idea to call out another project about their slow development and suggest them to embrace the future tools and recommend them instead?

In an argument, one might say it is only fair to promote your competition if you’re done and have no interest in improving OpenOffice. And, there’s nothing wrong in that, the open-source community should always work together to ensure that new users get the best options available.

On another side, one might say that The Document Foundation is frustrated about OpenOffice still being something relevant in 2020, even without any significant improvements.

I won’t judge, but I think these conflicting thoughts come to my mind when I take a look at the open letter.

Do you think it is time to put OpenOffice to rest and rely on LibreOffice?

Even though LibreOffice seems to be a superior choice and definitely deserves the limelight, what do you think should be done? Should Apache discontinue OpenOffice and redirect users to LibreOffice?

Your opinion is welcome.

2 Ways to Download Files From Linux Terminal

Tuesday 13th of October 2020 07:43:41 AM

If you are stuck to the Linux terminal, say on a server, how do you download a file from the terminal?

There is no download command in Linux but there are a couple of Linux commands for downloading file.

In this terminal trick, you’ll learn two ways to download file using command line in Linux.

I am using Ubuntu here but apart from the installation, rest of the commands are equally valid for all other Linux distributions.

Download files from Linux terminal using wget command

wget is perhaps the most used command line download manager for Linux and UNIX-like systems. You can download a single file, multiple files, entire directory or even an entire website using wget.

wget is non-interactive and can easily work in the background. This means you can easily use it in scripts or even build tools like uGet download manager.

Let’s see how to use wget to download file from terminal.

Installing wget

Most Linux distributions come with wget preinstalled. It is also available in the repository of most distributions and you can easily install it using your distribution’s package manager.

On Ubuntu and Debian based distribution, you can use the apt package manager command:

sudo apt install wget Download a file or webpage using wget

You just need to provide the URL of the file or webpage. It will download the file with its original name in the directory you are in.

wget URL

To download multiple files, you’ll have to save their URLs in a text file and provide that text file as input to wget like this:

wget -i download_files.txt Download files with a different name using wget

You’ll notice that a webpage is almost always saved as index.html with wget. It will be a good idea to provide custom name to downloaded file.

You can use the -O (uppercase O) option to provide the output filename while downloading.

wget -O filename URL Download a folder using wget

Suppose you are browsing an FTP server and you need to download an entire directory, you can use the recursive option

wget -r ftp://server-address.com/directory Download an entire website using wget

Yes, you can totally do that. You can mirror an entire website with wget. By downloading an entire website I mean the entire public facing website structure.

While you can use the mirror option -m directly, it will be a good idea add:

  • –convert-links : links are converted so that internal links are pointed to downloaded resource instead of web
  • –page-requisites: downloads additional things like style sheets so that the pages look better offline
wget -m --convert-links --page-requisites website_address Bonus Tip: Resume incomplete downloads

If you aborted the download by pressing C for some reasons, you can resume the previous download with option -c.

wget -c Download files from Linux command line using curl

Like wget, curl is also one of the most popular commands to download files in Linux terminal. There are so many ways to use curl extensively but I’ll focus on only the simple downloading here.

Installing curl

Though curl doesn’t come preinstalled, it is available in the official repositories of most distributions. You can use your distribution’s package manager to install it.

To install curl on Ubuntu and other Debian based distributions, use the following command:

sudo apt install curl Download files or webpage using curl

If you use curl without any option with a URL, it will read the file and print it on the terminal screen.

To download a file using curl command in Linux terminal, you’ll have to use the -O (uppercase O) option:

curl -O URL

It is simpler to download multiple files in Linux with curl. You just have to specify multiple URLs:

curl -O URL1 URL2 URL3

Keep in mind that curl is not as simple as wget. While wget saves webpages as index.html, curl will complain of remote file not having a name for webpages. You’ll have to save it with a custom name as described in the next section.

Download files with a different name

It could be confusing but to provide a custom name for the downloaded file (instead of the original source name), you’ll have to use -o (lowercase O) option:

curl -o filename URL

Some times, curl wouldn’t just download the file as you expect it to. You’ll have to use option -L (for location) to download it correctly. This is because some times the links redirect to some other link and with option -L, it follows the final link.

Pause and resume download with curl

Like wget, you can also resume a paused download using curl with option -c:

curl -c URL

Conclusion

As always, there are multiple ways to do the same thing in Linux. Downloading files from the terminal is no different.

wget and curl are just two of the most popular commands for downloading files in Linux. There are more such command line tools. Terminal based web-browsers like elinks, w3m etc can also be used for downloading files in command line.

Personally, for a simple download, I prefer using wget over curl. It is simpler and less confusing because you may have a difficult time figuring out why curl could not download a file in the expected format.

Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

MellowPlayer is a Desktop App for Various Streaming Music Services

Monday 12th of October 2020 12:52:55 PM

Brief: MellowPlayer is a free and open-source desktop that lets you integrate web-based music streaming services on Linux and Windows.

Undoubtedly, a lot of users prefer tuning in to streaming services to listen to their favorite music instead of purchasing individual music from stores or downloading them for a collection.

Of course, streaming services let you explore new music and help artists reach out to a wider audience easily. But, with so much music streaming services available (Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, etc) it often becomes annoying to utilize them effectively while using your computer.

You may install Spotify on Linux but there is no desktop app for Amazon Music. So, potentially you cannot manage the streaming service from a single portal.

What if a desktop app lets you integrate streaming services on both Windows and Linux for free? In this article, I will talk about such an app — ‘MellowPlayer‘.

MellowPlayer: Open Source App to Integrate Various Streaming Music Services

MellowPlayer is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop app that lets you integrate multiple streaming services and manage them all from one interface.

There are several supported streaming services that you can integrate. You also get a certain level of control to tweak your experience from each individual service. For instance, you can set to automatically skip ads or mute them on YouTube.

The cross-platform support for both Windows and Linux is definitely a plus point.

Apart from the ability to manage the streaming services, it also integrates the player with your system tray to easily control the music. This means that you can use media keys on your keyboard to control the music player.

It is also worth noting that you can add a new service that is not officially supported by just creating a plugin for it yourself within the app. To let you know more about it, let me highlight all the key features below.

Features of MellowPlayer
  • Cross-platform (Windows & Linux)
  • Free & Open-Source
  • Plugin-based Application to let you add new service by creating a plugin
  • Integrates the services as a native desktop app with the system tray
  • Supports hot keys
  • Notifications support
  • Listening history
Installing MellowPlayer on Linux

MellowPlayer is available as a Flatpak package. I know it’s disappointing for some but it’s just Flatpak for Linux and an executable file for Windows. In case you didn’t know, follow our guide on using Flatpak on Linux to get started.

Download MellowPlayer Wrapping Up

MellowPlayer is a handy desktop app for users who often dabble with multiple streaming services for music. Even though it works fine as per my test with SoundCloud, YouTube, and Spotify, I did notice that the app crashed when trying to re-size the window, just a heads up on that. You can explore more about it on its GitLab page.

There are two similar applications that allow you to play multiple streaming music services: Nuvola and Nuclear Music Player. You may want to check them out.

Have you tried MellowPlayer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Linux Jargon Buster: What is Display Manager in Linux?

Sunday 11th of October 2020 07:27:10 AM

In this chapter of the Linux Jargon Buster, you’ll learn about display manager in Linux. Is it part of the desktop environment? What does it do?

What is display manager in Linux?

In simple words, a display manager is a program that provides graphical login capabilities for your Linux distribution. It controls the user sessions and manages user authentication. Display manager starts the display server and loads the desktop environment right after you enter your username and password.

The display manager is often synonymous to the login screen. It is the visible part of it after all. However, the visible login screen, also called greeter, is only a part of the display manager.

Login screen is the visible part of a display manager

Like various desktop environments and display servers, there are various display managers available as well. Let’s have a look at them.

Different display managers

Some people think of the display manager as part of the desktop environment but that’s not true. It is a separate program.

A desktop environment may recommend a certain display manager but it doesn’t mean that it won’t work with some other display manager. If you ever installed more than one desktop environment in the same system, you would remember that a login screen (i.e. the display manager) allows you to switch the desktop environment.

A display manager can be used with various desktop environments

Though display manager is not part of the desktop environment itself, it is often developed by the same development team as the desktop environment. It also becomes identity of the desktop environment.

For example, the GNOME desktop environment develops GDM (GNOME Display Manager) and just by looking at the login screen, you would think of GNOME desktop environment.

GNOME Login Screen with GDM

Some popular display managers are:

  • GDM (GNOME Display Manager): preferred by GNOME
  • SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager): preferred by KDE
  • LightDM: Developed by Ubuntu for Unity desktop
Display managers can be customized

There are so many desktop environments available. Do they all have their own display managers? No. That’s not the case.

As I mentioned previously, the visible login screen is called greeter. This greeter can be customized to change the looks of the login screen.

In fact, many distributions and/or desktop environments have written their own greeter to give users a login screen that resembles their brand.

For example, Mint’s Cinnamon desktop uses LightDM but has its own greeter to give it more Minty (or should I say Cinnamon) looks.

Linux Mint login screen based on LightDM

Take a look at Kali Linux’s login screen:

Kali Linux Login Screen

If you are into coding and tweaking, you may modify or code your own greeter as per your liking.

Changing display manager

You may change the display manager if you want. You need to install the display manager first. You’ll see the option to switch the display manager while installing.

If you didn’t do it at that time, then you can change the display manager by manually configuring it later. The method to reconfigure the display manager is slightly different for different distributions and not in the scope of this article.

Conclusion

I hope you have a slight better understanding of the term display manager in Linux. The aim of this jargon buster series is to explain common Linux colloquial and technical terms in non-technical language without going into too much detail.

I welcome your comments and suggestion.

6 Essential Things To Do After Installing Manjaro Linux

Friday 9th of October 2020 05:51:00 AM

So, you just did a fresh installation of Manjaro Linux. Now what?

Here are a few essential post installation steps I recommend you to follow.

Quite honestly, these are the things I prefer to do after installing Manjaro. Yours could differ depending on your need.

Recommended Things To Do After Installing Manjaro Linux

I am using Manjaro Xfce edition but the steps are applicable to other desktop variants of Manjaro as well.

1. Set the fastest mirror

Before even updating your system, I suggest to sort out your mirror list first. When refreshing the Manjaro system and downloading software from repositories, an optimized mirror list can have noticeable performance impact to the system.

Open the Terminal emulator and type the following command:

sudo pacman-mirrors --fasttrack 2. Update your system

Keeping your system up-to-date reduces the chances of security vulnerabilities. Refreshing your system repository is also a recommended thing to do before installing new software.

You can update your Manjaro system by running the following command.

sudo pacman -Syu 3. Enable AUR, Snap or Flatpak support

Arch User Repository (AUR) is one of the main reasons that a user chooses an Arch-based system. It gives you access to a huge number of additional software.

Optionally, you can also enable support for Snaps and Flatpaks directly from Pamac GUI package manager.

4. Enable TRIM (SSD only)

If your root partition has been installed on SSD, enabling TRIM is one thing you need to do after installing Manjaro. TRIM helps to clean blocks in your SSD and extend the lifespan of your SSD.

To enable TRIM on Manjaro, run the following command in a terminal:

sudo systemctl enable fstrim.timer 5. Installing a kernel of your choice (advanced users)

One of the topics that I covered in my Manjaro Linux review, is how easily you can switch kernels through a graphical interface.

Do you prefer to use the command line? You can list the installed kernel(s) on your system and install a kernel using your terminal.

To list the installed kernels:

mhwd-kernel -li

To install a new kernel (the latest to date 5.8 kernel for example):

sudo mhwd-kernel -i linux58 6. Install Microsoft true type fonts (if you need it)

I have to often edit the work documents on my personal computer and hence I need the Microsoft fonts like Times New Roman or Arial.

If you also need to use Microsoft fonts, you can access the package from AUR. If you want to use the command line for AUR packages, you can install an AUR helper.

Conclusion

Manjaro is a great distribution if you want to use the benefits of Arch Linux on a pre-configured, desktop optimized distribution. Though it comes pre-configured with many essentials, there are a few steps that cannot be done in advance, as everyone has a different setup and different needs.

Please let us know in the comments below, which step apart from the already mentioned is the essential for you.

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