First Linux infringement lawsuit just filed

An infringement lawsuit was just filed against Red Hat and Novell. As far as I know, this is the first ever infringement lawsuit invloving Linux. This is happening just after Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) blamed FOSS community for violation of IP laws. Read the full story here.

Open Source acounting package: GnuCash

GnuCash is a free and open source package for small business and personal financial accounting. It is developed by a team of developers and is distributed under GNU GPL license. GnuCash is available for several platforms including GNU/Linux, Windows, Solaris, BSD, and Mac OS X.

GnuCash allows tracking the income, expenses, stocks, and bank accounts. Some important features of Gnucash include:
1. Double entry accounting: each transaction should equally debit one account and credit another meaning that the transaction balance is always preserved.
2. Different account types: for example income and expense accounts.
3. Multiple currencies can be used.
4. Stock/Mutual Funds
5. Small business accounting features such as payment, invoice, billing, and tax.
6. QIF and OFX import: GnuCash supports Intuit Quicken QIF files and Open Financial Exchange format.
7. HBCI support: GnuCash also supports German Home Banking Computer Information protocol
8. Reports and Graphs
9. Transaction finder
10. On-line Stock & Mutual Fund Quotes
11. Scheduled Transactions
12. Mortgage & Loan Repayment Druid
13. etc

For screen-shots of the program see here and here. The binary version is available for Windows. The source codes have to be compiled for other platforms.

How to edit “pdf” files with Linux

The portable document format abbreviated as “pdf” is the dominant format being very widely used to digitalize the documents. In Windows, Adobe Acrobat Reader can be used to view the pdf files and in Linux applications like Xpdf and a couple of other applications are available for that purpose. But what about editing the pdf documents. Imagine you have received a pdf form to fill in and send back, a paper to review and comment on, or a contract to review, fill out and sign. How all these editing tasks can be done? Apart from adding text to the files for which appropriate form fields are created, it is not possible to use free Adobe Acrobat Reader to edit the pdf documents and you have to pay and buy non-free Adobe Acrobat product in order to be able to manipulate the pdf files. You can also use Adobe Photoshop for that purpose but it is not convenient to edit pdf files with Photoshop as it is with Adobe Acrobat.

In Linux, there are a couple of other (of course free) ways to edit a pdf file. The first way is to use PDFEdit package which is built specifically for this purpose. You can download the package from here free of charge. Here you can see some screenshots of the program. The editing can be done by using GUI and/or scripts. Many of the properties of most object within the pdf files can be edited by this package. For some purposes, I found PDFEdit even more powerful than Adobe Acrobat.

Another less-powerful package for simple editing of pdf files is pdftk. Simple tasks such as splitting and merging of pdf files (and a couple of other tasks) can be done by using this package.

The other way of editing pdf files is to use graphical softwares such as Xfig and flpsed. These softwares are not primarily designed for editing of pdf files but still can be used for pdf editing. See this article about how to edit pdf files in Linux using these two packages.

There are other approaches to pdf editing in Linux. For example, see this writing about how to edit pdf files in Linux. Other methods are out there as well. Give it a Google try!

Just Released: Mandriva Linux 2008

The latest version of Mandriva linux called Mnadriva Linux 2008 is just released. The new version is available both as combined LiveCD/installation CD and traditional installation DVD. The newest version uses Linux kernel The other important updates are improved hardware detection and integration of new version of default packages. Some of the default packages used in the new release are:
GNOME 2.20 , Mozilla Firefox 2.0, Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0., KDE 3.5.7, 2.2.1, Compiz Fusion 0.5.2
For the detailed description of the new features see the release announcement and Release Tour
To download Mandriva Linux 2008 check this link.

Logging as “root” in Ubuntu

Have you ever wanted to Login as “root” in Ubuntu and have gotten the message that the “root” is not allowed to login? Actually, that is because loggin as “root” in Ubuntu is neither recommended nor necessary. Doing so can leave your computer more intrusion-prone and, besides that, it could be that you can mess up some files or make another accidental mistake. Most of times, any administrative command can be issued just by using “sudo” in front of the command. However, in very exceptional cases it is really more convenient or even necessary to login as “root”. Then what? It is actually possible to login as root in Ubuntu. But, again, I do not recommend you to do so. As I said, it is almost always unnecessary and dangerous.

Well! if you are still here and really want to know how to login as “root” in Ubuntu (at your own risk), you need to know that two steps are necessary to enable GUI “root” login. First, a password has to be assigned to the “root” account which can be done by issuing the following command in a terminal:

sudo passwd root

Then, if one really wants to enable the GUI “root” login (not recommended, think again!), following command can be used:

gksu gdmsetup

A GUI opens. In the security tab, there is an option which can be used to allow local system administrator login. The option needs to be checked in order to allow the “root” login. I highly recommend you not to do so and if you are keen to do so, do not let it to remain that way and bring the system to its default state AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Make a virtual computer by VirtualBox

VirtualBox (VB) is an Open Source project for virtual machine simulation of x86 computers. By VB you can make one or several virtual computers and run them just as if they were real computers. The package is totally free and binaries are available for Linux, Windows, and OS X. The Source codes are also available free of charge. A very important point about VB is its awesome documentation although the package is so user friendly that a slightly above-average user hardly ever needs the documentation.

So why VB? For me it was quite clear when I first came across it. I wanted to install Ubuntu on my university laptop which already had Windows XP installed and was almost running out of space. Partitioning the hard disk or dual boot were obviously not an option because not only the space was limited, risking my hard disk contents was the last thing I ever wanted and I could not even run only my Ubuntu and get rid of XP because all my university programs are for Windows. First I tried a couple of USB-portable Linux scenarios but finally decided that those things are not gonna work well for my need. What I really needed was VB which I found one day by accident.

After downloading the VB binary for Windows, it took me a few minutes to install it and make my first virtual system. There is a fantastic wizard for creation of a new virtual machine. There are only a couple of things to decide about, like:
1. What is the name of your new computer?
2. How much RAM do you want to dedicate to this new computer?
3. What about Graphics card RAM?
4. Where do you want to create your new virtual hard disk? (Your virtual hard drive will simply be a file in a folder in one of your drives or an external hard drive or even an external USB flash)

And your computer is ready to boot. You can activate or deactivate other accessories like USB port, serial port, CD/DVD drive, etc. In my case I simply wanted my first virtual computer to have access to Ubuntu 7.04 LiveCD. So what did I do? I simply pointed the VB to the folder where I had the ISO file of Ubuntu CD and that was it.

Now the real fun was about to start. I simply powered on my new computer. The computer was easily booted by Ubuntu LiveCD and was running Live Ubuntu in virtually few minutes after downloading the VB. The remaining was straightforward. I just installed the Ubuntu on my virtual hard drive and started using it just like normal installations I had done before on real computers. Not to mention that the every piece of hardware was already detected and ready to use. Since then I am using my Ubuntu just there in one of my virtual computers. Yes! one of my virtual computers. I normally add a few mores when I want to try a new Linux distro or something. My virtual hard drive is on my external drives and I have my Ubuntu (as well as VB binaries) wherever I go. It is definitely more convenient that having my Linux on my USB flash unless you are really mobile and work with numerous computers.

A few more things:
1. The virtual hard disk can be defined as dynamically expanding and by doing so you save space on your disk by allowing the virtual hard disk to grow only when you need more things on it. You do not have to reserve a mutliGB place on your drive for your virtual disk.
2. It is really fun to run a couple of OSs at the same time on the same machine. But, to do so you need a good computer with a lot of memory.
3. By installing a set of plugins, you can get much more functionality like shared folders between the host and the guest operating systems. What more do you need?

Just released: Skype 1.4 for Linux

The latest version of Skype for Linux is just released. You can download it from here. Skype for Linux is available for a number of distros including Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, Debian Etch, Mepis, and Xandros. I downloaded and installed the version for Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (ver 7.04).

Although Gaim (a multiple platform messenger) is available in Ubuntu by default, there is a lack of important voice feature. The Ekiga Softphone is also available by default which can be used an Internet call tool. But well Skype is yet another thing specifically if you want to keep in touch with your friends who are normally using Skype.

Some people think that the look and feel of this new Linux version is much like Windows and Mac versions but I don’t agree. There is way long distance between Windows and Linux versions. 

Some bugs are fixed in this Linux version and there is a  new UI. Some new features such as call forwarding, birthday reminder, and new file transfer manager are added. But video support is still missing. Nevertheless, the new version is a most welcome addition to the Linux family of softwares.

Look and feel of Vixta

I was just reading a Digg story about Vixta (a new Fedora-based distro designed to be eye-candy and user-friendly). In feel and look, it is supposed to be much like Vista. I am going to write down my experience with this new distro

Since I am already running out of space in my laptop, I normally use virtualbox(a virtual machine product) to try new distros. After making my virtual system (computer), I defined a virtual hard disk in my Big external hard disk, mounted the iso file I had downloaded (just as if I had burned a Vixta CD), and it was ready to boot.

There are two releases of the Vixta: 0.93 and 0.94. First I tried 0.93 which booted smoothly from the virtual CD room. Having the LiveCD mode as default, I could choose to run from RAM (+1GB needed). Not changing the default, I allowed the Vixta to boot up my virtual computer (256MB RAM and 16MB Graphic) and the eye candy screen was there impressively soon after. The first problem I had was that a part of screen was missing in my virtual box full-screen mode. I assume it has to do with the fact that I was running Vixta through virtual box and will not happen in real-computer boots. Vixta could detect my Ethernet and Internet was accessible right away.

Screen 0f Vixta 0.93 boot through Virtual Box


Well Vixta is eye candy to be honest and has to some extent feel and look of Vista. I don’t really know how many people would want a vista-like Linux distro but I found it quite fun to have, say, bash in something like Vista. The default softwares are Open Office, FireFox, Konqueror, and there is a Control Panel just like … well you know. One nice thing was that I could lunch the bash line by right clicking in the desktop which is missing in some popular distros. There were a couple of other handy right click functioanlities which were Windows-like to some extent. The desktop configuration tool was also beautifull with possibility of getting new wall papers from I tried a couple of nice-looking wall papers.

I think the Vixta is less memory hungry than Vista as I could run it from my virtual system with 256MB RAM but guess needs more meory than say Ubuntu Dapper that I run on my old laptop (Interl Pentium M, 256MB RAM). Actually, Dapper runs faster on my old laptop than Vixta does on my virtual system.
Downside 1: It was not imeediately clear how Vixta can be installed on the hard disk
Downside 2: Though I had selected English as my language, there was seeminglt a track of Protougese (or something) language here and there

Then I tried the newer release: Vixta 0.94 which could not boot becuase of some sort of Kernel panic. Again it might have to do with running from Virtual Box.


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