[sticky] Tired of paying for Windows? Linux is your answer!

Welcome to PrescottLinux.com, we are a local team dedicated to informing dispirited computer users of the tri-city area that there is an alternative to Microsoft Windows. You may very well have a Dell PC right now, did you know you paid Microsoft a percentage of the cost of that PC? With Microsoft’s versions of Windows, you are paying them for the privilege of providing you with an operating system that will open you up viruses, spyware, and all types of malware. Windows by far is the biggest platform for attracting all the unwanted nuisances floating around on the Internet.

If you have kids in the house going online, then you probably have had problems with your Windows computer catching a virus, and all the popups, hijacking of your computer, etc. It is an expensive nightmare to try to get that computer cleaned out. That’s where Linux has a huge advantage over Windows- It is designed from the ground-up with security in mind.

Linux is Free and Open Source Software, a concept known by the acronym, FOSS. As such, you don’t have to pay for Linux, most of the software that runs on Linux is also free and open source. All your favorite applications, such as Mozilla Firefox, web browser, Mozilla Thunderbird E-mail client, Sun’s Open Office, their office suite that is compatible with Microsoft’s Office, as well as many other programs you are probably using already.

Linux also gives you freedom from knowing that there isn’t a big, centralized corporation controlling what do you with your computer, with just its shareholders in mind.

We will add more posts here to explain the virtues of Linux periodically and hope to inform the public.

Linux No.1 Platform Among C/C++ Devs

The most popular platform among C/C++ developers is Linux, according to a survey by Jetbrains, a company that makes a wide range of tools for developers. Linux commands a whopping 44 percent market share while Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s iOS platforms control 39 and 17 percent market shares respectively.
Linux market share among C++ Devs

Linux Preferred Platform Among C and C++ Developers, Says Survey

It is rather surprising to know that the platform least used by regular users is the most preferred platform among developers. May be these are the first signs of a major shift in OS usage patterns among the masses. The developers are slowly warming up to the advantages of Linux as a development platform. Some of the things that makes Linux generally superior to its compatriots is discussed here: Why is Linux faster than Windows?
Coming back to the survey, there are about 4.4 million C++ devs and 1.9 million C devs in the world. While C++ is among the top 5 preferred programming languages among developers, C is on par with Ruby grabbing the 8th most popular spot. C++ is relatively more popular than other languages and technologies in countries such as Russia, Germany, Finland, France, Hungary, Singapore, Finland, Israel and Czech Republic. 

Also according to the survey, C++ is most used in industries such as Finance and Banking. More interesting statistics and detailed infographic can be found here.

Super-Scary Android Flaw Found


Zimperium on Monday revealed a stunning discovery by researcher Joshua Drake — a flaw in Android’s Stagefright media playback engine that could expose millions of mobile device users to attack without their having done anything. Stagefright, which processes several popular media formats, is implemented in native code — C++ — which is more prone to memory corruption than memory-safe languages such as Java, according to Zimperium. Stagefright has several remote code execution vulnerabilities that can be exploited using various methods.

Shashlik Project: Bringing Android Apps to Linux

I know what you might be thinking. Yes, Android is Linux. But for the lack of a better word, we will define the conventional Linux desktops like Ubuntu as Linux here. Native Android apps doesn’t run on Linux desktops. And Android platform is buzzling with great apps and games. If Android is indeed based on Linux, why can’t Linux desktops run at least some of those apps natively? Enter Project Shashlik.

KDE Shashlik Project

KDE’s Shashlik Project Intends to Bring Android Apps to Linux
Technically speaking, Linux forms just the Kernel, the heart of the operating system. When the Linux kernel combine with the GNU libraries and services, it becomes the complete operating system (GNU/Linux naming controversy arises from this reality). And that’s how Android project is different.

Although Android uses Linux as its kernel, it comprises of an entirely different set of libraries and what-not to complete their made-for-mobile-devices operating system. This also means that, there is no way to run Android apps within conventional Linux OSes like Ubuntu or Fedora without using virtual machines and such.

KDE’s Shashlik Project intends to change all that. Shashlik is a new application launcher that allows you to run Android apps on a GNU/Linux operating system. Basically, it is a ‘collection of Android systems and frameworks as minimal as possible, built to run on a standard, modern Linux systems, using as much of the standard system as possible, and created to be Free/Libre from its inception. Shashlik is built to integrate into your existing system, whether it be a desktop, laptop, tablet.’ This is good news especially for developers.

Shashlik Project is still in its infancy and the source is already available on GitHub. In reality though, smartphone apps may not be an ideal fit for regular desktops. But think about this. Ubuntu Touch OS for smartphones is already pretty robust and Shashlik will be able to bring the depth of Google’s apps-store to it in theory. That could be a game changing development if it indeed works as good as everyone is hoping for. The Project was introduced to the public by its lead developer Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen during the annual KDE summit on 26th of July 2015.

Tech Giants Boost Open Source Container Collaboration


The Linux Foundation this week announced the formation of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, a consortium dedicated to developing a new set of common container technologies and driving their adoption. The goal is to develop cloud-native applications that allow Internet companies to make scaling their businesses more practical. Open source container-packaged applications are easier to create, manage and deploy, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

System76 Removes Flash from its Products

Have you tried watching YouTube in Firefox lately? Because you can’t anymore, at least by default. Firefox disabled Adobe Flash plugin for its oft criticized security holes which are only getting worse by day. Now, System76 joins the bandwagon. Adobe Flash is slowly but surely fading away.

System76 removes Adobe Flash

System76 removes Adobe Flash from all its Products
Back in the day, Steve Jobs received a lot of flak for not including Flash in his flagship product, the iPhone. But in 2015, tables have turned. Adobe Flash is no more the Internet’s darling. In fact, it has become that ugly product that nobody wants to ship, yet they have to for reasons we all know. But that is changing.

“In 2007, System76 was granted a license from Adobe to pre-install Flash on all our laptops and desktops. Back then, Flash was the only way to unlock all the wonders of the Internet. In terms of making a great first impression, especially those new to Ubuntu, this was an important detail,” the company said in a blog post the other day.

“So from 2007 till today, we’ve pre-installed Flash in our golden images. But starting tomorrow, we wont be,” they added. Tomorrow as in July 15th, 2015. Slowly but surely, the story of Adobe Flash is coming to its glorious end. If you’re using Ubuntu or its derivatives, you might want to try removing Flash from your computer and see for yourself how good the Internet works without Flash already. Execute this command in Terminal.

sudo apt-get purge flashplugin-installer

In today’s Internet, Flash is fast becoming a liability. You will see that for yourself once you remove it. But if you didn’t liked the result, you can always reinstall the flashplugin for Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installer

However, if you truly need Flash, you’ll probably be safest using Google Chrome, which includes an embedded Flash implementation that is sandboxed in a way that should mitigate the inevitable Flash zero-days to come. But still not a fool-proof solution since one Flash zero-day has already manged to punch through the sandbox, so it’s still prudent to avoid Flash altogether. So what do you think? Are you ready for a Flash-free Internet? Let us know.

Commodore’s Ghost Lives in New Machine


Yet another Android smartphone hit the market last week — but what’s surprising is that it comes from Commodore. The Commodore PET smartphone is from Commodore Business Machines, a UK-based firm that has acquired the brand and trademark. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, and has a 5.5-inch full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS OGS display. Two preinstalled emulators let owners play games written for old-school Commodore PCs. The PET might appeal to Commodore aficionados, but “I’m not sure how many of us are still alive,” quipped tech analyst Rob Enderle.

The New Solus: Putting the Pieces Together Again


The Solus Project is a rebranded and rereleased Linux distro trying to regain its former popularity. In a field of Linux distributions cluttered with look-alike offerings, Solus brings something simple and something new. Solus has impressive potential for being uncomplicated and different. Based in the UK, the Solus Project is the latest iteration of SolusOS, which morphed into Evolve OS. The new Solus is not a complete porting of the old Evolve OS. Other than the bult-from-scratch Budgie desktop, much of it appears to be gutted.

Top 15 Things to do After Installing Ubuntu 15.04

Ubuntu 15.04 codenamed “Vivid Vervet” is the 22nd major Ubuntu release. Even though not as minor an iteration like Ubuntu 14.10, Vivid Vervet still doesn’t bring any sweeping changes to the platform. This is to be expected since Unity 8 and Mir display server is still some time away. And no, Unity 8 will not become a default until at least Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. At the current rate though, even that is being overly optimistic.

top things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04

Ubuntu 15.04: The good old Ubuntu is back!

My favorite Ubuntu versions has almost always has been the LTS releases. Ubuntu 12.04 could be termed as my favorite Ubuntu to date, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS could be a close second. But I’ve never faced much issues with any of the Ubuntu releases, except for Ubuntu 14.10, which was just beyond messed up. Things were so bad that I had to switch from Ubuntu to Freya almost permanently. And I have nothing but love for that incredibly clean and simple OS. Some of the reasons why I love elementary Freya so much.

But Ubuntu 15.04 turned things around for me. Everything seems to work just as good as it has always been. It’s a shame that I was not able to find out the real cause for all the trouble I had with Ubuntu 14.10. But hey, that’s the beauty of Linux. If you don’t like an OS, you have 100 other equally good distros waiting to be tested.

Disclaimer: Even though I have made utmost care not to make any mistakes here, please make sure you double-check everything before executing. As they say, you don’t trust a random code or command from the web. The same applies here. And most of this article is heavily influenced from our earlier posts on similar topics. So lend a careful eye while making critical changes to your brand new OS. You’ve been warned.

First things first: Downloading Codecs package during Installation

  • You can install restricted codecs package (which include Adobe Flash, MP3 codecs and such) during installation of OS itself. See below.
15 things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04
  • Notice the arrows pointing to the boxes in the screenshot above. If you tick both of them during the Ubuntu installation process (make sure you are connected to the internet before doing so), restricted extras package will be installed automatically and you will be able to play mp3′s, avi’s, mp4′s etc. and watch flash videos (YouTube videos for example) right after Ubuntu installation is done with.
  • But there is a catch. If you have a slow internet connection (which is very rare these days), ticking the boxes shown in the screenshot above will unnecessarily lengthen the installation process. I for one prefer to do all that after installing Ubuntu. If you are like me, the next two steps are for you.

Update Repositories

  • After you install brand new Ubuntu 15.04, the first thing you need to do is to update repositories and make sure you have the latest updates installed.
top things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04
  • Search for Software Updater in Unity Dash and launch the Software Updater app. It will automatically check for updates available. Install the updates.
top things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04
  • OR you could simply use the command line method. Open Terminal (Ubuntu 15.04 Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + T) and copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  • Enter your password when asked and you’re done. Your new Ubuntu 15.04 ‘Vivid Vervet’ has been successfully updated and upgraded. 

Install Ubuntu Restricted Extras

  • Install the “ubuntu-restricted-extras” package. This will enable your Ubuntu to play popular file formats like mp3, avi, flash videos etc. CLICK HERE (to install directly from Ubuntu Software Center) OR simply copy-paste the following command into Terminal to install the package (You need not do this if you have ticked the ‘right’ boxes before).
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • Done. [Note: The package contains some proprietary fonts and such which will not be downloaded while OS installation. Hence, you might still want to install Ubuntu Restricted Extras package even though you ticked those boxes before.]

Check for Availability of Proprietary Hardware Drivers

top 15 things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04
  • As in previous releases, Ubuntu 15.04 has ‘Additional Drivers’ functionality inside Software & Updates (previously called Software Sources).
  • In my case, all the hardware drivers including graphics, sound and wireless drivers were enabled automatically. But this may not be the case for everyone.
  • If you are among the not-so-lucky, open Unity dash (Ubuntu 15.04 Keyboard Shortcut: Super key) and search for ‘Software & Updates’ application.
top things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04
  • Check for additional drivers available and activate the ones you want. In majority of the cases, this will do the trick. If you’re not able to get hardware drivers working yet, you’ll have to do a fair amount of digging through ubuntuforums and askubuntu.

Enable Workspaces for Ubuntu 15.04


enable Workspaces for Ubuntu 15.04
  • Back in 2007, one of the first “feature” that attracted me to Ubuntu was the multiple workspaces thing and all the cool animations you could do with it. I know, it’s kind of silly but workspaces are still very important to me. My work environment feels very claustrophobic otherwise. 
  • Even when market leaders like Microsoft is thinking about bringing multiple workspaces feature to its upcoming Windows 10 OS (or so I heard), Ubuntu 15.04 by default decides to ditch workspaces. I find it kind of amusing. May be Canonical received a different feedback from its users. Anyway, you can easily re-enable it by going to System Settings – Apperance window (see screenshot above for reference). 
Hate two-finger scrolling? This will help.

top things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04
  • Two-finger scrolling is enabled by default. But you know what, I kind of like it now. But still, if you want to change it back to normal scrolling, here is what you need to do. 
  • Launch System Settings and browse to Mouse & Touchpad under Hardware.
  • Unselect Two finger scroll.
Unity Tweak Tool: The insanely good tweaking tool for Ubuntu
  • When it comes to tweaking Unity, there’s no better candidate. Even the default Ubuntu Settings app is no match for Unity Tweak Tool.
  • Unity Tweak Tool is available in default Ubuntu 15.04 repositories. 
  • Click Here to install Unity Tweak Tool in Ubuntu 15.04.
  • Unity Tweak Tool has a lot of options to tinker with, about which we will discuss in detail later on in this post.
Enable ‘Click to Minimize’ feature using Unity Tweak Tool

top things to do after installing Ubuntu vivid vervet
  • You can now click on the apps to minimize it to the launcher, a behavior which should have been default if you ask me. Here’s how you do it.
  • Launch Unity Tweak Tool which you’ve already installed, goto Launcher sub-menu under “Unity”. Rest is self-explanatory (refer screenshot above). More details and video
Enable ‘Hot Corner’ feature in Unity Tweak Tool

ubuntu 15.04 tips and tricks
  • Hotcorners along with multiple-workspaces have been two of favorite features ever since I started using Ubuntu years ago. Enabling hotcorners is a pretty straight-forward affair since you have already installed Unity Tweak Tool.
  • Launch Unity Tweak Tool and goto Hotcorners sub-menu under ‘Window Manager’.
Compiz Config Settings Manager, nuff said!
  • CCSM is similar to Unity Tweak Tool, but more advanced, and very specific to Compiz, the default window manager. CCSM may not be as relevant as before, but it still packs the punch. We’ll deal with some CCSM specific hacks later on. 
  • CLICK HERE to install CCSM. 
Disable Animations and Fading windows using CCSM

ubuntu 15.04 tips and tricks
  • I am all for eyecandy, but it should not be at the cost of performance or responsiveness.
  • Disabling Animations and Fading windows from CCSM might make your Ubuntu look less attractive. But as far as I can see, it has a significant positive impact on performance. 
Disable Active Blur in CCSM for a faster loading Unity Dash

top things to do Ubuntu 15.04
  • Launch CCSM again, goto Ubuntu Unity Plugin under Desktop.
  • Change Active Blur to Static Blur or No Blur. 

Disable Online Search Results in Unity Dash


ubuntu 15.04 privacy
  • Online search results in Unity dash, sounds like a good idea on paper, but not in the real world. It unnecessarily makes Dash search slower (at least for me). 
  • To disable it, goto System Settings app and find Privacy category. 
Important: Ubuntu 15.04 Privacy 

ubuntu 15.04 privacy on/off switch
  • Ubuntu by default will be recording your activity which is later used to refine searches in Unity and such. You can completely disable this feature by accessing Privacy category within System Settings application. 
  • You can optionally disable recording for a pre-defined set of files only like image, text, video etc. instead of completely disabling recording altogether (my preferred way).
Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 15.04

ubuntu 15.04 tips and tricks
  • If errors like that with titles such as “system program problem detected” or “ubuntu 15.04 has experienced an internal error” are common in your Ubuntu installation, you might want to disable Apport error reporting tool altogether. 
Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 15.04
  • Hit ALT + F2 and run the following command (as in the screenshot above).
gksu gedit /etc/default/apport
  • Change value of “enabled” from 1 to 0 (instructions are provided in the text file itself).
Disable Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu
  • Save and exit. Now for changes to take effect, do the following in Terminal.
sudo restart apport
  • OR do a system restart. Both will do. Apport is supposed to be disabled in stable releases and yet I’m finding it enabled in almost all major releases since Ubuntu 12.04. More details about Apport here.
Local Menus or Global Menus? You Decide.
local menus in ubuntu 15.04
  • Global menus were pretty controversial from its early days. Some say it is unnecessary when display size of average desktops/laptops keeps on increasing.
  • Don’t worry, Ubuntu 15.04 has got you covered. Goto System Settings – Apperance and select Behavior. Now you can choose between one of the two.

Remove Unwanted Lenses from Unity Dash

  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are new to Ubuntu 15.04 and Unity, you might not want to do this. Stay with default settings for the time being and find for yourself if Lenses are useful or not.
  • I have never found video, music or photo lens useful. I know exactly where my files are and I would simply use file browser instead to locate/launch them. Never been a fan of shopping lens either. All I need is a really fast loading Dash, plain and simple.
  • If you’re like me, you might want to trade them for a faster responding Unity dash. Copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get autoremove unity-lens-music unity-lens-photos unity-lens-shopping unity-lens-video

Other Popular Apps to Install:

And don’t forget to explore Ubuntu Software Center for your favorite apps and games. Have fun. 

Suse Linux Enterprise 12 Says Hello to ARM


Suse Linux this week announced a partnership to extend support for 64-bit ARM server processors. The goal is to give Suse Linux Enterprise 12 users greater flexibility and cost efficiencies with respect to their infrastructures. This expansion makes available to seven partners a version of Suse Linux Enterprise 12 that lets them develop, test and deliver products to the market using 64-bit ARM chips. The partners are chipmakers AMD, AppliedMicro and Cavium, and server manufacturers Dell, E4 Computer Engineering, HP and SoftIron.

Watch Flash Videos in Firefox using MPV

Adobe Flash is in the news again. You might have noticed it already if you’re using Firefox. The security holes that comes with Flash just can’t be ignored anymore and Mozilla has decided to take action and has stopped loading Flash by default in its marquee product. But that’s another news. Here, we’ll discuss an awesome Firefox extension that lets you play Flash videos in your local media players like MPV.

Open Flash Videos in MPV in Ubuntu using this Fierfox Extension
If you are not a regular here, you might be wondering what this MPV is all about. It is a very lightweight media player for Ubuntu based on MPlayer. Over the last year or so, I’ve fallen in love with this little media player for Linux called MPV so much so that it has replaced VLC as my go-to app for all things media in my Ubuntu desktop.

Installing MPV is rather easy. Detailed instructions can be found in our earlier MPV short review. Once you’ve installed it, fire up your default web browser, Firefox that is, and go to this extension page:

And you’re good to go. Now on, whenever you load a page containing Flash video like YouTube for example in Firefox, notice this button on top-right corner (along with other extensions) that says ‘Play with MPV’. So far in Ubuntu 14.10, this extension is working as well as it says. I’m really impressed, what about you?