Ubuntu Blogs

Probably the most popular Ubuntu blog in the world, apart from the official one, is Carthik Sharma’s. Carthik invited fellow bloggers to tell him whether they too blog about Ubuntu. The response is amazing. Nice to see that so many people are using FOSS operating systems.

Though I don’t write about Ubuntu that often in this blog anymore, one of my old posts always ranks the top post in this website! All my Ubuntu relates posts can be read here.

And finally, what is common between me and Carthik? We both are Tamilians!


Cleartype LCD patch on Mandriva Linux 2007

My biggest gripe on any GNU operating system is the poor font rendering. Because of patents held by biggies like Microsoft and Apple, many interesting font rendering technologies cannot be applied on Linux without the chance of getting sued.

Perhaps the best patch available for font rendering is the LCD cleartype patch from Freetype maintainer David Turner. Though this patch is no longer available from Turner, you can download it from several places on the internet. I have shared one of them here. Let us see how we can apply this patch on Mandriva 2007. Ubuntu users, please refer to my another interesting howto here.

We need the following 3 files:

Extract all the packages to a folder:

$ tar -xzvf filename.tar.gz

Now we need to apply the patches for individual packages.
For freetype, there is no patch, but we can edit the file manually. Go to your freetype source folder, and open the file aflatin.c:

$ vim ./src/autofit/aflatin.c

Search for the term FT_RENDER_MODE_MONO. You will find two instances. Remove the OR statement that follows this in both cases. It will read like the following once you edit it:

if ( mode == FT_RENDER_MODE_MONO )
other_flags |= AF_LATIN_HINTS_VERT_SNAP;

You are done patching freetype.

Now go to the xft folder and run:

patch -p1 < path/to/your/libXft-2.1.10-etcpatchfile

Go to the cairo folder and run:

patch -p1 < /path/to/your/cairo_patch

You are done with all the patching. Now, go to individual folders for these packages and run:

$ ./configure --prefix=/usr
$ make

Now login as root and:

$ su
# make install
# exit

This will overwrite the default libraries that shipped with your system. Repeat the same for all the other packages.

Go to font preferenes and select sub-pixel font rendering.

Just restart X (Ctrl+Alt+Backspace) and enjoy your new beautiful Mandriva!


After patching

Acknowledgements: This guide is based on a thread in Ubuntu forums.

Ubuntu on PS3?

Now that it is officially confirmed that you are free to install any OS on PS3, it is time to save some money and buy one as soon as it is launched here or when someone starts selling it on ebay. Going by Sony’s past track record in India, it is unlikely that it will be in showrooms before the end of 2007.

Ever since I read about the Cell processor, I always wanted to get hold of a PS3. The cell based PS3 is likely to be very powerful in terms of processing heavy duty stuff like media encoding, which I often do on my laptop. The 9 core processor will be a refreshing change to the x86 based computers that we have been using for a while now. Though the official Linux is going to be Yellow Dog with enlightenment, I think hardly anyone will go for it. Ubuntu is likely to win the race here, closely followed by Fedora core. (Unforunately, Mandriva stopped shipping PPC versions of there distro sometime back). Interestingly, IBM is already shipping a Cell based general purpose computer with Fedora pre-installed!

This strategy of Sony comes as a big surprise, considering their continued efforts to thwart homebrew development on the PSP.

Sure, exciting days are ahead!

Update (28-Dec-2006): Here are some instructions for installing Ubuntu on PS3.  Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

Font smoothing on Edgy Eft

I made a small update to the ever-popular post on this blog: OS X like font rendering in Linux.¬† The guide now covers Edgy too. Turner’s patches for Edgy are now available through a private repository. You can download it from here:

By the way, here is how my Edgy desktop looks now:

Edgy desktop
The icon theme is the ultra cool Echo from upcoming Fedora core 7 artwork. You can grab it from here. The GTK theme is clearlooks and the window manager is vanilla compiz.

Baffling Beryl – Useless eye candy

I have been using Compiz with AIGLX for a while and thought I would checkout the Beryl project, which is a fork of compiz. So I added the Beryl repository to my sources list and installed all the associated Beryl software.

After I launched Beryl, I got a nice theme for my window manager. Though it looked good, I preferred the simple and cute title bar that came with original compiz. I fired the “Beryl Settings Manager” to see where I can change these settings. Voila! I was greeted with an application that had more options than anything I have ever seen before! Here is the sample:

Beryl settings manager
You are only seeing a part of all the options available. Note the scrollbars – there are plenty of other settings for each plugin! Needless to say, most newbies will have no clue understanding what all these options mean.

Now I feel that it is good that the compiz project actually forked! I am sure an organization like Novell will not include anything like this into a mainstream desktop they sell to enterprises. While I can understand the enthusiasm of Beryl developers, it is sad to see that this project is now going in a direction where the software is heavily overdone and will not be of any use to anyone. At this point of time, most of the plugins are mere eye-candy and many a times more of an annoyance than anything useful. The default settings are ridiculous with those animated menus wobbling like hell.

Eye candy in conjunction with usability is what will click with the end user. Good example are Mac OS X and to an extent Vista. (I personally feel that Vista could have also done without some of those silly effects).

I promptly uninstalled Beryl and went back to vanilla compiz. Sorry developers.
(I later found out that the settings for Window Manager are changed through “Emerald Theme Manager”, which is another nicely overdone tool.)

Liferea – The best Linux news reader

My search for the best news reading application for Linux is over. After trying out several applications like Straw, Akregator etc., I finally settled on Liferea. Liferea is a GTK based application which is ideal for the gnome desktop. Though it does not have features like discovering multiple feeds within a website, emailing posts etc., it serves its purpose as a basic yet powerful news reader. The obligatory screen shot is below (click to enlarge).


To install just do:

sudo apt-get install liferea

Most of the time, just giving the URL of the website is enough to add a feed!

More on compiz themes – the blank title bar problem

If the latest dist-upgrade made your compiz title bar “blank”, just invoke compiz theme application, click on edit on the bottom, go to general tab and select one of the options from Title-bar object Layout. Your title-bar contents including the buttons should reappear. I am wondering why the developers did not make one of these options the default. This may confuse many a newbie. For the solution to a similar problem, read my previous post.