Sunday, September 28, 2008

Auto-Mount Hard Drives on Ubuntu

One of the biggest problem of using Linux is the fact that many times things just get screwed up. Most of the times it isn't your fault at all, it could be an hardware problem or an software glitch. However it doesn't change the fact that your PC is screwed up!
One of those things which happens with my Ubuntu is that it doesn't mount all my hard drives (except C:// drive, on which it is installed) during startup. I have to manually open up Places and click on each and every hard drive to open them up. This might seem to be a trivial problem, but it isn't. The major headaches due to this are:

1. I cannot keep any image from other hard drive as Wallpaper.
2. Amarok cannot start playing songs. It gives me an error saying 'File not located'. This is the most important problem.

So if you have been hounded by this problem too, then rejoice cause I have finally found a solution to this problem. I must thank nicedude for this.
There is an amazing software called Pysdm which allows you to decide which drives to mount or unmount during startup. Pysdm is an GUI application and is extremely easy to use.
To install Pysdm do this:

Command to install it

sudo apt-get install pysdm

Command to run it after install

sudo pysdm

Once it opens select the drive and then partition you want to mount on the left hand side of the GUI and then click mount and it should do it for you.

You wanted me, here I am....

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wine-Doors - Make Wine useable, Without Touching the Terminal!

Wine-Doors is an cool and easy way to install useful softwares and fonts on your PC. The best part about it is that it requires no terminal typing and it lets you install tons of softwares which includes Internet Explorer, Adobe Photoshop CS2, WinRAR, Google Sketchup, World of Warcraft 2&3, Half Life 2,  Call of Duty 1&2, Steam.
According to the developers 'Wine-Doors is an Windows application management for the GNOME Desktop.'
For those of you who know 'Wine Tools' an older application, Wine-Doors picks up where it left off.Consider it as an extension to Wine. Needless to say, you'd require Wine up and running to use Wine Doors. Surprisingly before you can use the software, you have to fill in your name and company name. You also have to check mark a box which says, "I have a Microsoft license"- and you can lie!
You can download Wine-Doors by using Synaptic.

2 Extra fingers freaked me out!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interview With TualatriX - Maker of Ubuntu Tweak!

Ubuntu has made the whole PC industry sit up and take notice. Even companies like DELL are shipping Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows. Ubuntu has made Linux as simple as Windows (if not more) to use. However making changes in Ubuntu still require some good old grease and some x-conf editing. Thankfully one software, Ubuntu Tweak, aims to make changes to Ubuntu very easy. Today we have TualatriX, the maker of UT. Lets ask him the secret of Ubuntu Tweak's phenomenal rise in the Linux world.
First of all, what does TualatriX mean? Is it a Chinese name?
No, TualatriX doesn't means anything. It is actually Tualatin + Cyrix. Tualatin and Cyrix are the names of my 2 CPU processors. I started using it because I needed an ID that could be used everywhere and wouldn't be already registered. So I create the TualatriX for my English ID. From there on, I never meet the thing that the ID has been registered.
Of course, TualatriX is hard to spell and remember, so you can call me TX for short, or my real name: Zhou Ding. Zhou is my surname and Ding is my name.

So Ding, tell us something about Ubuntu Tweak.
Ubuntu Tweak is a tool originally designed to help those who are new to Ubuntu. After several releases, I found that skilled people use it too. So now it's a setting tool for every Ubuntu user. It makes changing settings on Ubuntu very easy.

When and why did you set out to write Ubuntu Tweak?
Ubuntu Tweak's first version (0.1.2) was released in September 2007.It was during my first summer vacation (From July 2007 to August 2007) of my college, I decided to develop an application to help tweaking Ubuntu.
Every time I finished installing Ubuntu on my or others' computer, I had to do the same work again and again to make it do what I want. So I thought why don’t I write an application to help me avoid doing the same work again?

Did you have any previous coding experience?
I started learning programing since August 2006, but didn't wrote any application. Before programing for Ubuntu Tweak, I only had a little experience with writing simple programs. I like writing programs with Java, but now I chose Python. It was July 2007, when I finally started writing a real application, it was Ubuntu Tweak. I didn't have any experience with writing application , so I learnt GTK+ for developing Ubuntu Tweak.The beginning was difficult, fortunately, in the Opensource world, I can read other applications’ code to learn how to do programming. After more than one month, the first version of Ubuntu Tweak came out! Since version 0.2.4 I re-wrote Ubuntu Tweak with Python.
You can read more about it here.

Talking of other software, which is your favorite Ubuntu software?
My favorite software is Compiz Fusion. It's magical and powerful, that's why I like it.

You have been putting in cool new features in Ubuntu Tweak with every release, what is the secret of such rapid pace of development? What new features can we expect in Ubuntu Tweak?
The secret is: I always listen to the users, and make ideas every time.
Some new features you can expect are the Service control, Appearance settings (Theme install) and Tweaking the System Settings.

What is the current situation of Linux in China?
Linux useage in China is still in its infancy. Very few people here know about Linux. However the number of Linux users is increasing. Even in education field, various schools and colleges are starting an Linux course in addition to Windows.

Since when did you started using Linux, what has been your experience so far?
I started using Linux since November 2006, I was curious about it. Now I cannot live without Linux. I have used various Linux distributions right from Fedora to Ubuntu, and now I choose to use Gentoo.
My advice to Linux newcomers is: Never look at Linux as an Windows clone, regard Linux as a completely new thing.

When you started out, did you expect Ubuntu Tweak would become so famous?
No, I didn't. So it now becomes a responsibility (also power) to me, I need to make it better.

Are there any plans to include Ubuntu Tweak in the Ubuntu distribution?
I know many people want it to be included by default, but I feel it is more suitable for Tweak to be included in the repository.

Are you planning to fork UT into other releases.
I'll always work with Ubuntu Tweak, let other people do the fork.

Many users ( including me ) are complaining about the changed theme for the upcoming 3.6 release, what are you going to do about it?
Yeah, many people are also complaining about the big interface, their desktop's resolution is 1024*768 (or 1024*600 with EEE PC). So I'll have to change the theme to let more people play with it.

How has Ubuntu Tweak changed your life? Any special memories?
Many people start to know me because of Ubuntu Tweak, but it doesn't change my life at all. in other words, I make Ubuntu Tweak to make life more meaningful. I have known many people thanks to Ubuntu Tweak. Last month I received an email from a 72 yr old gentleman from India who congratulated me for making Ubuntu better. It was special!
Thank you Ding! For your wonderful service to Ubuntu and Linux in general. We are sure you will keep Ubuntu Tweak the best in its class.

"So, tell me momma why make Buffalo's biggest cookie?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Get mintInstall, mintMenu and mintDesktop on Ubuntu!!

Linux Mint is a famous Linux Distro which is based on Ubuntu. Linux Mint comes preloaded  with various goodies preloaded to give users an excellent experience 'out of the box'. Linux Mint makes have made some software to make Ubuntu even cooler. There is an entire suite of Mint applications, created specifically to make Mint experience better than other distro. These include mintInstall, mintDesktop, mintMenu etc.
Out of these I was most impressed by mintInstall and mintMenu . Everyone who has every used Linux Mint knows that these two applications are worth the switch to Linux Mint over Ubuntu. Obviously Mint also has other things to keep you occupied.
So I have finally discovered a way to get the goodness of Mint on your Ubuntu.
I am honestly loving the mintMenu, it is 100 times better than the default Ubuntu menu launcher. mintMenu has these following features which make it standout fromt the other launchers:

1. Neat Layout: Unlike Ubuntu's dropdown list, mintMenu prefers to give you larger screen are. It makes choosing your prefered application very easy.
2. Filter: This is the killer feature. It gives you an Vista like search box, by which you can search your needed applications quickly.
I only have to type, 'fir ' before mintMenu filters out all other applications. This is an welcome relief from Ubuntu menu, where I have to be careful in selecting out Firefox from the other 50 programs sharing common space under the sub genre 'internet'.
3. Favorites: Favorites is an easy way to keep all your selected apps together.
4. Easier Navigation: mintMenu's 3 pane approach makes you more productive.

Now about the mintInstall:
Most Linux users do know that Synaptic is a delight for newbies. Synaptic allows you to install Softwares without touching the terminal. It makes software installation a one click process. However Synaptic has its own limitations.
Synaptic has short review in text-no images to help you in making your decision
Synaptic is a desktop based app, so it has to keep downloading updates to make sure its library of software is complete and up to date. Unfortunately this process isn't so simple. It requires the user to regularly hit the 'Reload' button in order to update it.
This update isn't incremental. Synaptic will redownload the entire file structure for updating itself
There are no user reviews to help user take a decision.
So, I wondered was there any way by which I could add the goodness of mint to my Ubuntu (Heron), without joining the Linux Mint group?
To install mintinstall on your system do this:
1. Go to an download the mintsystem ,mintinstall and mintMenu files, pickup the mintDesktop file if you want to. All of them are extremely small in size.
Install them by double clicking on the files. Make sure you install mintSystem first.
2. To get the mintMenu:
Inorder to use the mintMenu, right click on the panel you use and selecet "Add to Panel". Now scroll down until you can see mintMenu. Double click it and enjoy the benefits of mintMenu. You will gat a beautiful "Elyssa Menu". Remove the older Ubuntu launcher by right clicking on it and select "Remove From Panel".
3. Now for the mintInstall: Click on the Elyssa Menu. Now go to Administration > mintInstall. You will get an box like this:
[Image] Now search for any application. I am looking Banshee music player.
Now mintInstall will open an webpage, taking you to the appropriate webpage for banshee. If you are using it for the first time, remember it will take some time. The next time mintInstall will work instantaneously.
Now you can read the reviews and download the application by hitting the big "Install Now" button. You will have to download a small .mint file, the size will be in kbs. It is these tiny .mint files which do all the trick!
Save the .mint file to desktop. Double click on it and a box will pop up [Open with] asking you to select which application to use for opening this file. Now click on "Use Costum Command". Next click on the browse button. Navigate to the
File  System > usr > bin, now scroll down to mintInstall. Thats it!

Now mintInstall will do its magic.
To browse Linux Mint's extensive list of software to this site: You can install software from this site with a single click. Select Elyssa if you are on Hardy Heron.
If you have any question, post a comment.

If you liked this article and found it useful then please Digg it.

"And thats the way, the cookie crumbles!"
: Quote from my favorite movie (Bruce Almighty)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

10 Things Vista Has and Ubuntu Doesn't!

I recently tried Vista and I must say I'm impressed. Sure Vista has its own faults, but there are many lessons for Ubuntu to learn from Vista:
1. Search which works: Vista has this amazing search capabilities which lets you search every inch of your PC ( thanks to the kick delivered by Google Desktop) and surprisingly 'It Works' every time you use it. It even supports natural language input like, "Show me Bob's email, sent yesterday". Ubuntu too has a software called Tracker. It is meant to track all your files and faithfully fetch them when you search for it. At least that's the theory. In reality Tracker rarely works. In my experience with 5 installations of Ubuntu, Tracker has never worked. I have tried each and every trick in the book to make it work, but it never even manages to retrieve even one file.Ubuntu, please make it work.
2. Backup and Restore: Vista and XP have this useful functionality by which you can restore your PC back in time, in case you muck things up. Sure, it does tend to restore even things like Virus and Trojan Horses, but most of the time it manages to do its work efficiently. In Ubuntu if you muck some thing up, its back to the basics (Installing the OS) . Ubuntu must have such functionality!
3. Cool Looks: I'm not talking about the lame Aero here. Honestly, Steve Jobs would suffocate in his tight Turtle-neck T-shirt if he ever used Compiz. I'm talking about the mature and good looking desktop. Even die hard Ubuntu fans know that Ubuntu looks damn ugly, sure the Heron wallpaper was beautiful, but come on guys, brown and orange on desktop looks ugly! How about using some cool colors for splashing onto our desktops. We are frankly tired of seeing the same brown turbid thing. Changing the theme is one of the first things we do, you know. How about getting some load of our back? Don't even talk about fonts. Is it that difficult to make SegoeUI look alike fonts for open source?
4. Disk Partition: Vista has an easy to use disk partition tool which makes disk partitioning a cinch! Since Ubuntu is used by a geeky crowd it seems odd that it doesn't ship in with a disk partitioning software.

5. Calendar: Most of us use calendar on a daily basis. I personally use Google Calendar and sync it with Windows Calendar. Ubuntu should include any decent calendar which can sync with Google Calendar.

6. Advanced Snipping Tool: Vista upgraded the lame 'Print Screen' function to include a robust screen capturing utility. Ubuntu has a not so option rich 'Capture Screen' utility. Ubuntu snipping tool only allows you to specify the time after which it will take the capture. Of course you do have Gimp, but guys how about some 'rectangular selection' tool?

7. Parental Controls: Vista has good parental control options. Currently in Ubuntu the only way parents can 'Hide' anything from their kids by using the '.' (dot) trick. To hide any folder you have to append a '.' before the file name, as in '.Home'. Although it does have one advantage that, 'kids' won't be able to hide anything from their parents.

8. Quick Shutdown: On my PC Vista takes around 4 sec to shut down, where as Ubuntu takes around 1 minute. The situation is expected to change in Jaunty Jackalope.

9. Media Center: Now a days (OK, change that to since past few years) PCs are becoming the new Entertainment center of our life. Vista has Media Center, which is head and shoulders above anything like it. Ubuntu should come with such software.

10. Decent Names : Vista sounds very cool for an OS (which didn't turn out to be so cool). Even XP was a half decent name, hell even Windows 95/98 are many times better than the crap names that Ubuntu selects for its OS. Edgy Eft, Gutsy Gibbon, Hardy Heron, Intrepid Ibex and now Jaunty Jack@ss (sorry Jackalope)! Hell, they don't even use some cute names like 'Innocent Iguana' or Jolly Jackal. Industries would obviously be wary of using Gibbon OS, even if it the Gutsy Gibbon.

Even names like Sexy Scarlett (Johansson), Perky Paris, Arousing Alba would do wonders!
My favorite among these would be Kute Kiera (Knightly) and Kracking Kate (Winslet).
11. Speech Recognition: Vista's speech recognition is very cool. I wonder whether it can be replicated in Open source.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Complete List of Compiz Keyboard Shortcuts

Compiz is one of the most important reason why many love Linux. Compiz is definately the best looking thing on a PC, even Mac OSX looks pale in comparision against Compiz. Ubuntu has included Compiz by default since Gutsy Gibbon (7.10) release. Many of you must have been disappointed to find out that the 'Cube' and other cool effects you saw in the Youtube videos is not present in Ubuntu. Well, don't worry Ubuntu has all the goodies installed you merely have to unlock them. For that you require an amazing utility called “Compiz setting manager”. It gives you an easy to use dashboard for controlling the Compiz effects. Make sure you have the necessary Graphics card available, I'd recommend EnvyNG for that.
1. Open a terminal window.

2. Execute the following command:
sudo aptitude install compizconfig-settings-manager

To open the Settings Manager, click System, mouseover Preferences and select Advanced Desktop Effects Settings. You will be presented with a large selection of effects to choose from.

Here are the shortcuts.
Desktop Effects1 Keyboard Shortcuts
Rotate Cube Mousewheel on Desktop
Switcher2 Alt + Tab
Shift Switcher3 Super + Tab (2 modes: flip and cover)
Ring Switcher Super + Tab - overrides Shift Switcher
Expo Super + E (toggle)
Film Effect Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow4
Rotate Cube Manually Ctrl + Alt + Left Mouse Button
Scale Windows Alt + Shift + Up Arrow
Show/Clear Desktop Ctrl + Alt + D (toggle)
Snapping Windows Move a window across workspaces5
Screenshot Super + Left Mouse Button
Zoom In/Out Super + Mousewheel
Transparent Window Alt + Mousewheel
Resize Window Alt + F8
Move Window Alt + F7
Add Helper Super + P
Widget Layer F9 (toggle)
Water Effects Shift + F9 (toggle)
Fire Effects: On Super + Shift + Left Mouse Button
Fire Effects: Clear Super + Shift + C
Annotate: Draw Super + Left Mouse Button
Annotate: Start Super + 1
Annotate: End Super + 3
Group: Select Window(s) Super + S
Group: Group Windows Super + T
Group: Ungroup Windows Super + U
Group: Flip Windows Super + Right or Left Arrow
1 Effects have to be enabled to see results.
2 To see the full effect, have multiple windows or programs open.
3 To configure: Go to Advanced Desktop Effects Settings.
4 Use left and right arrow thereafter to move to workspaces.
5 Disables Wobbly Windows.
Another tip, the 'Super' key is nothing related to Superman, it is just the 'Win' key on Windows.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ubuntu 9.04 Named Jaunty Jackalope!

Yeah, they have done it again. Ubuntu 9.04 (which will come out in April next year) has been named Jaunty Jackalope. I must say Ubuntu may be the best Linux distro, but don't call them to name your first-born kid!
Seriously! The name sucks!
I was hoping for Jolly Jackal, but as always Ubuntu devs beat me to a stupid name. I was hoping Ibex would be named 'Ignorant Iguana'.
Ubuntu devs broke one tradition though. Jackalope isn't a real animal.


According to Wikipedia

"The jackalope — also called an antelabbit, aunt benny, Wyoming thistled hare or stagbunny — infolklore is said to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope (hence the name), goat, or deer, and is usually portrayed as a rabbit with antlers."


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mombuntu - Ubuntu For Your Mom!

image You might be wondering why I am suggesting an Linux distro for your mom. Well Linux is no longer the stronghold of geeks. Distros like Ubuntu have made using

Linux as simple as using Windows. Here are reasons why Ubuntu will be perfect for your mom, who's needs are basic.

The reasons are:

1. Ubuntu is one of the easiest OS to master: Your mom will be soon at ease with the new environment.

2. Security: With Windows there is always the constant threat of viruses, Trojans and malware. This coupled with the fact that online transaction is a daily necessity, if users are not careful hackers may get access to sensitive information like bank passwords. With Linux there is almost '0' threat of any virus related problem.

3. Simplicity: As a Windows user I used to always roll my eyes when ever Mac users used to quack about 'Mac's simplicity' as one of its virtues. However since using Ubuntu I now crave for the same clean and simple desktop on Windows.

4. Hardware: Ubuntu can run nice with as little as 256 MB worth RAM. Also after installing drivers for video cards Compiz makes Ubuntu 100 times cooler than Vista.

5. Games: Your mom doesn't play Crysis, does she? However she definitely plays minesweeper and other such games. Ubuntu has many such small games and many more games can be downloaded for free.

Here are steps to make your mom's transition to Ubuntu as painless as possible and create Mombuntu in the process.

1. Create icons on the desktop with titles like "Internet" (for the web browser), "Word" (for Open Office), "E-mail", etc. Install Envy, it is a one click approach to install drivers for Graphics card from nVidia and ATI. Bless the guy who made Envy.

2. Install VLC. VLC is the worlds best video player. It can play any damn file format you throw at it, it even plays .iso files. .iso is the file which nero burns on CDs.

3. Ubuntu by default doesn't play proprietary video, audio formats like MP3, Avi, and pretty much every format you are used to, I don't know why but that's the way it is. To get the necessary codecs to play these type of file formats browse to one of your MP3 songs and try playing it with Rhythmbox or Totem. A new box will come up telling you that the required codecs are not available and that it can search the internet for them. Click yes. After some time you will find three codec packs. Tick mark all and wait for the installer to do its work. Now Ubuntu will play any kind of media you throw at it.

4. Mail Notifier: Install mail notifier for you Ubuntu. If you use Gmail I'd highly recommend you to use CheckGmail it is the best mail notifier on any OS. Its even better than the official Gmail notifier for Windows (Use Synaptic to install it. System-> Administration-> Synaptic). You can setup Evolution to check your mail too.

5. Set up all messenger accounts in Pidgin. Its the best chat app. Pidgin houses all chat programs like MSN messenger, Gtalk, Yahoo and ICQ under one roof. Remove the top panel if your mom has been using accustomed to Windows. Set the application menu in the lower panel.

6. Now Open Office is a nice alternative to MS Office however the default format is .odf so if your mom tries sending some document to some one on a Windows PC, the guy at other end won't be able to read them. So rather than explaining your mom the difference between .doc and .odf do this: Open Open Office, next click on 'Tools' and then click on 'Options'. Next click on Load/Save options and then change the default setting to .doc.

You might want to install Abiword it is a light weight alternative to Open Office. Don't forget to change the default file format to .doc.

7. Install Wine and add those Windows apps which are indispensable.

8. Make Ubuntu auto login by doing this:

System -> Administration -> Login Screen Setup ->Security Tab and then check mark on the 'Enable Automatic Login' box.

9. Get her an account at Ubuntu Forums and tell her to email you or post a thread on the site. Adding few geeks as friend will speed things up. Add them as friend and get their email address. Add them in contacts with 'Ubuntu Help' as the name. Make her send her problems to that email address :-P

10. Keep automatic system updates on.

That's it you have created your own Mombuntu. A perfect gift for Mother's day!

If you have any suggestion, please add them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Minty Chat with Mr. Clement Lefebvre

clip_image002 Since last few years Linux has slowly started to shed its geeky background and has come out as a mature and presentable desktop, fit for general use. Loads of effort has been put to make Linux even more useful and easy to use. One of those people who strive to do that is Clement Lefebvre. Clement is the founder of Linux Mint. Linux Mint is one of the best Linux distro out there and has been getting rave reviews for being an elegant and useable OS. So armed with questions I set out to find more about Mint and who can answer questions about Linux Mint better than Mr. Lefebvre? I would like to thank Clement for taking time out of his busy schedule and answering my questions. So without much ado here they are.

How did you get the idea of not only making Linux Mint, but also marketing?

I was writing articles and reviews for I'm a developer myself and the more I reviewed other distributions the more I got tempted to address things I thought were missing. I never "marketed" Linux Mint, I registered it on as a new distribution and that helped it get some visibility among the Linux users. We had a tiny ad campaign on distrowatch too but I guess the project got popular thanks the community spreading the word and as a snow ball effect with Mint ranking high on distrowatch's hits table.

What are the top 5 reasons people should switch over to Mint from Ubuntu or any other distro?

They shouldn't. No distribution is "best for everybody". Mint is very popular among people who use it, each distribution's user base is different. I would encourage Linux users and computer users in general to give us a try if they haven't done so yet, and if they like what they see then they can decide if they want to switch. I like to think we're the easiest desktop at the moment and we have done so without restricting features but by making it easy for the user to achieve complex things. But again, different people like different things. There are more than 300 distributions out there, you should really switch to the one you like best after you've tried them all :)

What tips would you give to Canonical Chief Mark Shuttleworth?

None, he's doing really well. He's being criticized a bit too much sometimes and for unfair reasons but that's because Ubuntu has been the most popular distribution since it came out. I like his philosophy, I think he's admirable in many ways and I'm grateful for all he's done for Linux so far. The challenge for him now will be to elevate himself and to be followed by others on cross-distributions initiatives. He'll face more cynicism I guess, but I'm confident he's got a role to play in this and he can improve not only Ubuntu but the status of Linux in general. As for me, I'm quite happy with my own achievements too but I don't feel like I've got any "tips" to give to Mark. If he wants any help from me or if we can work on something together I'd be happy to talk to him of course. Most likely we'll just go on and improve things each in our own areas ;)

How many people do you employ?

None. Hopefully this time next year I'll employ myself full-time :)

From where does Linux Mint get its revenue?

From different sources: Advertising, donations, and to a lesser extent partnerships and sponsoring. All sources come either directly or indirectly from the community, so we're financed by our own users.

Will Mint deviate from Ubuntu in the near future?

In terms of distributions both projects grow their separate ways so with each innovation Ubuntu introduces that doesn't make it into Mint, or with each innovation we make both distributions "deviate". In terms of Linux Mint using Ubuntu as a package base we're not likely to "deviate" anytime soon. I do want to invest some time and experiment porting our technology on top of other bases though, namely Debian and Fedora. I'm not planning on changing our base distro or on implementing our own but I see most of what we do as a desktop "layer" and I want to see how it behaves in different environments.

How about a Suse mint or PCLinuxOS mint?

If we can find anymore spare time then we'll put it in an edition called "Debian Edition", based on Debian Testing. We already developed and released an ALPHA for it, the next step is to develop an installer and to implement rolling-aspects within mintUpdate.

Tell us something about mint install.

MintInstall started as an online one-click-install system. It was inspired by PCBSD's PBIDir but instead of making large files containing the software we preferred to make tiny files which contained instructions on how to install the software. So we made .mint files which were interpreted by a client called mintInstall. Most of these .mint files are used to install packages via APT but the system is flexible enough for a .mint file to virtually do anything from adding keys to running commands on the system. Lately we extended the scope of mintInstall so users could browse and install applications directly from their desktops (a bit like with Gnome App Install). According to our users mintInstall is among the top 3 most popular tool we develop and so we improve it with every release. If you're interested in the lastest news about mintInstall you can read about it here:

Is it true that putting in codecs for propiertary formats like mp3 is violation and that Mint may have to face legal questions regarding it?

No. Linux Mint is designed in Ireland and conforms to both Irish and European law. What happens in the USA or in Japan and the claims some companies have in regards to what they call "patents" and how they think this is applicable to software they haven't even written.. that's a concern for the citizens and the companies who live and do business in these countries. I wish the situation was better for them but to be honest the situation is pretty good anywhere else in the World. The best we can do is to provide these companies and these people an edition they can redistribute without having to fear the nonsense of their own legal systems and this is why we provide the Light Edition. As for the users, they usually use codecs anyway, even in the USA. It's their own decision whether they want to do it or not. Note that it doesn't make much difference legally whether they make the decision to install these codecs after the installation of the distribution via the repositories (as people do with most distributions) or whether they make that decision by downloading either the distribution with (Main Edition) or without (Light Edition) the codecs.

Why do you think users should support Opensource?

Open Source means that you get access to the source code and if things are clear and easy enough that you can make modifications to it and rebuild the application. In other words Open Source is great for developers. Now, what is the advantage of Open Source if you're not a developer? Well access to the source code is still extremely valuable, not directly to you, but as a guarantee that any developer who feels like it will be able to fork or continue the application may the maintainer of that application die, loose interest or simply goes in a way which doesn't satisfy part of its user base. Compare that to closed-source. Imagine you've been using an application for the last 5 years, all your documents are stored in binary formats and only readable via this application.. and now that VISTA comes it doesn't make much sense financially for the company which is editing this application to port it to VISTA. No, they choose to discontinue it and start selling something else. Not only will nobody ever maintain what you're using.. all your files are in a format which is going to die. The day XP is made obsolete and you've no other choice but to migrate to VISTA (or something else), these files won't be readable anymore. Of course if that application was open-source you'd be able to port it to VISTA and if not you, then somebody else with development skills. And if the document format was open then at the very least someone could be able to develop a converter. So in this case Open Source is a guarantee that the software's lifetime can go beyond the editor's interest.

What benefits does being Opensource give back to the inventor? (Say, I made this uber cool software which if I sell to Microsoft could give millions to me, why should I give it to the opensource community? What benefits will I get?)

Most developers don't make much so let's not go down the road of Microsoft giving you millions (if that was the case and you refused the offer in the name of Free Software you'd deserve to be working at the FSF and have at least 5 minutes of fame in Revolution OS). As a developer who's passionate about writing software you're interested in two things: gratification and money. The more your software is used and appreciated by your user base the more you'll feel good and passionate about it. There's nothing better than happy users, it's like motivation fuel :) The more money you make the faster you can quit your job and do what you really want to do: developing your software full time. People disagree a lot about this so I'll just express my own opinion here. The first thing to do is to develop a large user base because what's important is the popularity of the software (this is true whether you want to make money or not). This is achieved by pleasing users: good quality, close ties with the community, free download or (in the case of a closed-source application) 30-day trial with an easy way to find a crack for it. Once you've got momentum and a large user base the money will come anyway, if not via commercial licenses, via partnerships, advertisement, or even via donations from the community. This model has been used by TV and radio stations for years, providing free content to the users and generating money via alternative models. So in brief it's all about quality, feedback, word of mouth, interactions with the users... in other words your most valuable asset is your community. So give them as much as you can. Don't do any retention of information, implement what they need, don't charge for it, let them participate in patching the code..etc etc.. the more you give the more they'll give back. You and your users, in it together, this is the key towards popular software, and with this will come money eventually. As you can see Open Source makes sense from a business point of view, it's just the RIGHT way to do software. Add to that the ethical values of contributing back to a movement you're building upon, the great feeling of doing something nice... people who develop Shareware must be out of their mind! :)

Which is the best linux distro out there for noobs?

I don't like the "best for everybody" concept. The first one I'd suggest is Linux Mint of course but there are plenty of other good distributions for novice users.

What do you make of the sordid brown theme in Ubuntu?

I like it actually. It's different, they dared to do it and they did it well. "Human" is stunning and there's a lot of potential with brown and orange. Ubuntu created its own visual identity, it matches its philosophy.. I think it's great that they've done that. We're doing it too, in a different way but with each release we improve our visual identity and it's starting to reflect ourselves.

Do you believe Ubuntu and other distros should take the Mint way of a system that "just works"?

That's definitely something we think is important. I think a feature should offer as many options as possible while at the same time not requiring any input from the user to work perfectly in the way that most people would expect. I think most other distributions share that idea. We just implement it differently and apply it to different priorities. Take Fedora for instance, they made disk encryption and LVM work out of the box.. something which is still quite complicated for Linux Mint users. So they do make things simple, they just don't focus on the same use cases and they address priorities for a different audience.

Will there be special editions of Linux Mint, for instance for programmers with IDEs
like Netbeans or Eclipse preinstalled?

No. The trend would be to stop diversifying and to focus on doing better what we already do at the moment. At least until we grow into a company with people working full time on it.

Will support for EEE or similar PCs be extended?

Again, it's a matter of resources. Until we have people working full time on Linux Mint we can only focus on what we define as the core of our project.

Are you looking to change people's mindset that Linux Mint is more than Ubuntu + nice looking theme+ codecs and other extra stuff?

Linux Mint is a project which is among the most innovative and prolific in regards to developing GTK applications. Of course we like to make the distribution look nice, we do include the codecs and we do sit on top of a great package base (credit for this goes to Ubuntu but also to Debian by the way). What we do though, where we spend a lot of time and where we really add value to the Linux desktop has to do with development. We implemented our own software and upgrade managers, we have a unique Gnome menu, we designed a file-sharing system which doesn't exist anywhere else and these are some of the things we like to be appreciated for. Adding codecs takes about 5 minutes so it's a bit insulting to think that's all we've done since 2006. Our release notes are very detailed, so is our User Guide and our blog keeps going on about our latest developments. We're very proud of the tools we design and the innovations we push forward. I don't really understand the obsession people have with the codecs... they're nice to have but let's focus on more interesting things.

Where will Mint go from here on?

Up :) The Windows market will slowly shrink and Linux Mint will remain among the most successful distributions. The more people are aware of the choice they have the more they'll start using Linux and I can see a snow ball effect has already started. I don't know if Linux Mint will become as popular as say Debian or Ubuntu within the Linux market but it surely will get its fair share of new users when people start migrating from Windows. As for us we'll continue to do what we do best, improve what we have, innovate and gather our users' feedback.

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