April 2, 2015

The Most Useful Media Converter For Linux Just Got Better: Meet The New Handbrake

There are so many different codecs out in the world — some are extremely popular, and others are barely used. While you’re using Linux, you may come across all sorts of codecs, and you might want to use some codecs rather than others.
Thankfully, the cross-platform Handbrake utility has gotten a significant update that makes it even better at converting videos between various codecs. Let’s check out all of the exciting stuff in the newest Handbrake.


Support for More Codecs


handbrake_codecs

First of all, there’s lots of under-the-hood improvements in Handbrake. For instance, the utility can now use H.265 (which compresses video even better than the famous codec H.264) as well as VP8. If you don’t know much about these codecs, just know that they’re pretty modern codecs that a lot of videos will be encoded with. Transcoding videos into these codecs will save you space on your hard drive as well as keep you future proof for a good while. Besides support for more codecs, there are also a few changes on how other codecs are handled. For example, several backends that handle certain codecs have been swapped with other backends. This is done to improve license compatibility (to make everything follow the GPL) and to improve quality of the output media.

 

Improved Performance

 

In a future release, it’s also planned for Intel’s QuickSync functionality to be implemented to drastically improve transcoding times. In the meantime, you can still use AMD’s or Intel’s OpenCL functionality to somewhat improve performance via their respective GPUs. NVIDIA doesn’t support OpenCL in their GPUs at this time.

 

Modified Interface

 

handbrake_main

Handbrake’s graphical interface also got a nice spruce up. While nothing major, you’ll now be able to access just about all possible settings straight from the GUI, making it quicker and easier to do what you’re wanting to do.

 

Presets

 

There’s also support for presets. There are several presets that come with the program that set the settings to optimized values for what you want handbrake to output.
Once you’ve changed all the settings that you want, you can also save your own presets so you can quickly get back to those same settings at a later time. Of course, you can also delete presets you no longer need.

 

How to Install

 

The latest version, Handbrake 0.10, should be available in most distributions. Ubuntu users can install it via a PPA, which makes it quick and easy. To add the PPA, refresh your package lists, and install the latest version of Handbrake, just run these three commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y handbrake-gtk


Once you’ve run these commands, you should have Handbrake installed and ready to go.

 

Arista Transcoder as an Alternative

 

arista_main

However, if you’re looking for a tool that has the greatest flexibility between codecs, you’d probably be better served with Arista Transcoder, as it can take advantage of the GStreamer framework to transcode videos. The GStreamer framework is plugin-based, and there are tons of plugins available that give it support for almost any codec under the sun. So, again, if you need to transcode to newer codecs, then Handbrake should be fine. Otherwise, if you need greater flexibility, try Arista Transcoder instead. Once you’ve installed Arista, you can just check your package manager for gstreamer packages — you’ll see plenty of plugins there. If you’re running a distribution like Fedora that doesn’t include “non-free” software, you may need to add third-party repositories (such as RPMFusion for Fedora) or make other similar tweaks to your system to make those packages available.

 

Handy Tools at Your Fingertips

 

Handbrake has always been an excellent tool available on Linux, and improvements like these will continue to come — all thanks to the fact that it’s open source. If you like Handbrake and want other great tools for Linux, don’t forget to check out some of the Best Linux Software out there!

Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/useful-media-converter-linux-just-got-better-meet-new-handbrake/

February 27, 2015

Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet Beta 1 Released, Gets Official Ubuntu Flavor Status






Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet Beta 1 was released today. Let's take a look at what's new since alpha 2.

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Unfortunately I didn't have time to test the other flavors (and for most of them, there's not much to say anyway), so I'll only cover Ubuntu MATE for this first beta release. However, I'll add links to the other flavors' release notes (download links included), below:

You may also want to read:

I should also mention that as usual, Ubuntu (w/ Unity) doesn't take part in alpha and first beta releases.

Now back to Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1. The most important news is that Ubuntu MATE is now an official member of the Ubuntu family.

The first Ubuntu MATE release was 14.10, followed by 14.04 (that's not a typo, the 14.04 release was after 14.10 because the Ubuntu MATE devs wanted to provide a LTS, since non-LTS versions are only supported for 9 months), but both versions were unofficial and used PPAs to provide the latest MATE Desktop 1.8, which is no longer the case with Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1.

Since Ubuntu MATE is now an official Ubuntu flavor, all the packages it ships with are now available in the Ubuntu repositories - that include MATE Menu, MATE Tweak, its default GTK theme(s) and so on.

Speaking of MATE Tweak, the tool has received a pretty important new feature, which allows switching between different panel layouts, including: Ubuntu MATE (default), Eleven (with a top panel for the menu, systray, etc. and Plank at the bottom, as the app switcher/launcher) and more:

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

This also means that Plank, the default elementary OS application launcher, is now installed by default in Ubuntu MATE (but it's not used by default).

+Martin Wimpress posted a video which demonstrates this new MATE Tweak feature so check it out HERE. Note that in the video there are more panel layouts than there are available in Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1 by default, because it depends on the packages installed on the system and for instance, the Ubuntu Indicator Applet, which was available in previous Ubuntu MATE releases, is no longer available in Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1.

The reason for this is that the default Indicator Applet / Ubuntu Indicators don't support GTK2 by default. For the previous Ubuntu MATE releases, the Indicator Applet was patched to support MATE and it was available in a PPA, but since Ubuntu MATE 15.04 is now an official Ubuntu flavor, it can't ship with PPAs enabled by default and thus, it can't use Ubuntu Indicators out of the box.

However, you can install the Ubuntu Indicator Applet along with the Sound Indicator package (patched for MATE) in Ubuntu MATE 15.04 by following THESE instructions.

Another change in the latest Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1 is the addition of Folder Color by default:

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Folder Color is a tool which allows changing individual folder colors (useful to organize your folders, make some important folder stand out, etc.) and besides Caja, it supports Nautilus and Nemo.

Other changes include:
  • added menu categories to System > Preferences;
  • LightDM GTK Greeter Settings was updated to version 1.10;
  • updated the default GTK theme (Yuko) with better GTK 3.14 support;
  • thanks to a GTK2 bugfix, MATE should have better multi-monitor support;
  • MATE Tweak allows switching between Marco and Compiz without requiring a logout/login;
  • added PowerPC as an officially supported architecture;
  • updated LightDM GTK Greeter to 2.0.0 which now includes a MATE logo in the session switcher;
  • merged MATE Compatibility integration into upstream Compiz .

Here are a few more Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1 screenshots:

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

Ubuntu MATE Vivid 15.04

This being a beta, there are a few known issues, most importantly: MATE 1.8x is not fully compatible with glibc>=2.43.1 and while this was fixed upstream, it's not available in 15.04 yet so for now, you'll have to use a PPA to get the fixes.

Other known issues include: the notification tray crashes on first start and randomly from time to time (32bit only), live switching between Compiz and Marco is experimental and may result in missing window decorations on some old GPUs (and in VirtualBox, at least that was the case in my test) and more.


Default applications/packages


Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1 ships with the following applications installed by default: Caja 1.8.2, Pluma 1.8.1, Firefox 34, Thunderbird 31.4.0, LibreOffice 4.4.0, VLC 2.2.0, Rhythmbox 3.1, Shotwell 0.20.2, Pidgin 2.10.9, HexChat 2.10.1, Transmission 2.84, Cheese 3.14.1, two terminals - MATE Terminal 1.8.1 and Tilda 1.2.2 (which can be triggered via the F12 key), and Eye of Mate 1.8.0, on top of MATE Desktop 1.8.1.

Under the hood, the first Ubuntu MATE Vivid beta ships with the Ubuntu Linux Kernel 3.18.0-13, based on the upstream 3.18.5 Linux Kernel, Xorg server 1.16.2.901 and Mesa 10.5.0 RC1 (with RC2 available in the Proposed repository).


Download Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Vivid Vervet beta 1



The link above includes the official release notes so make sure you read them before testing the latest Ubuntu MATE 15.04 beta 1!

Up next: Ubuntu MATE (and flavors) 15.04 Vivid Vervet final beta, which should be released on March 26th. All the Ubuntu flavors as well as Ubuntu (w/ Unity) will take part in the final beta release.

Source: http://www.webupd8.org/2015/02/ubuntu-mate-1504-vivid-vervet-beta-1.html

February 25, 2015

4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now

Finding a good music player for Linux is not an easy task. A few big name projects, like Amarok and Songbird, have come and gone throughout the years, but none of them have been stable enough to match the staying power of iTunesWinamp, or any of the other music players available to non-Linux users.
Fortunately, the issue isn’t one of availability; there are dozens of music players out there in Linux land. The problem is finding the ones that are modern, feature-rich, performance-friendly, and easy to use.
I’ve done a bit of searching. Here are my findings.

Audacious

Not to be confused with Audacity, which is a well-known audio editor, Audacious is an audio player which has no relation to the former except for the fact that they’re both free, both open source, and both excellent.
This wonderful program actually got its start back in 2011 but was often overlooked in favor of big name alternatives in the past. Those giants have since fallen asleep and Audacious is the perfect tool to fill the vacuum that was left behind.


linux-music-players-audacious


Audacious is marked by low resource usage and a minimal interface. It’s not ugly by any means, but if you’re used to the kind of visual flash offered by modern media players, you may feel underwhelmed by this program’s simplicity.
It comes with plenty of advanced actions that are all tied to keyboard shortcuts, making it easy to do whatever you want without much effort at all. There’s also a surprising amount of customization available, considering just how simple it tries to be. As for the interface, it can be toggled between GTK Classic and Winamp.
But the best aspect of this music player has to be its plugin system, which allows for extensibility through third-party code. The community of Audacious developers isn’t all that big yet, but if you’re interested in hopping along, check out their plugin development forum.

Tomahawk

The way we use the web has changed so much in the past few years. Isn’t it about time that the way we manage our music has caught up? That’s the exact line of thinking that sparked – and continues to drive – the development of Tomahawk, a music player for the modern generation.
Music has recently shifted away from local playlists and shifted towards streamed services, which are popularly known as Internet radio. And if you’re like me, you don’t just stick to one or two of them; you listen to this one or that one depending on your mood, whether that means Soundcloud, Google Music, Spotify, Rdio, etc.


linux-music-players-tomahawk


And that’s exactly why Tomahawk is so awesome. Not only does it manage and play local music files like any traditional music player would, it also incorporates some of the more popular streaming services available today, thus allowing you to enjoy all of your music in one place.
The ability to connect to these various streaming sites is due to Tomahawk’s plugin system, so you can toggle those features on or off at will. Tomahawk will also watch your indicated music directories for any changes and update your library automatically.
As far as the interface, you’re either going to love it or hate it. It feels very modern, but modern in a way that’s reminiscent of the Modern style that’s been used by Windows since the Zune days. In general, though, the layout is very simple, easy to navigate, and the aesthetics are quite pleasing.

DeaDBeeF

Do not be put off by this program’s strange name! I almost overlooked DeaDBeeF because of its unconventional name but I’m glad I didn’t. Truly I wish for it to be rebranded because it’s such an awesome program and it’d be a shame if it never gained traction due to something as trivial as a name.
Long story short: if you prefer something lightweight like Foobar2000, you’ll probably love this one.


linux-music-players-deadbeef


DeaDBeeF is not meant to be a music library manager. Rather, much like stanard Foobar2000 affair, you just create separate playlists that you fill up with whichever music files you want for said playlists. That’s about as simple as it could be.
However, if the out-of-the-box functionality is too basic for you, you can always expand on it through plugins. DeaDBeeF comes with a lot of built-in plugins that are disabled by default, such as a LastFM scrobbler, a global hotkey manager, and even an alternative interface.
The only downside was that DeaDBeeF did not integrate into my native desktop environment, so I couldn’t control it using the volume panel. It wasn’t a big deal for me, but it may or may not prove irritating for you, so beware.

Nuvola Player

Nuvola Player is a bit of an outlier on this list. It completely foregoes the idea of local music storage and focuses entirely on cloud-based music streaming. In that sense, it’s like Tomahawk but more specialized.
The goal, as described by the developers, is to provide Linux users with a native application that interfaces with as many streaming services as possible in order to make the user experience as clean and straightforward as possible.


linux-music-players-nuvola-player


At first glance Nuvola feels like an extremely basic web browser that loads each service – e.g. Pandora, Rdio, Google Music, etc. – as an actual webpage. Indeed, my first thought was, “Why the heck would I use this when I can just load it in my already-open browser?”
As it turns out, because Nuvola ties in with the operating system, it can be controlled directly through the desktop environment when you want to skip songs or change volume. It also has native popup notifications on track change. It’s a very niche program, but a useful one if that niche describes you.
Out of the box, Nuvola supports Amazon Cloud Player, Bandcamp, Deezer, 8tracks, Google Play Music, Grooveshark, Grooveshark Mobile, Hype Machine, Jango, Logitech Media Server, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify, and This Is My Jam.

Which Music Player is Your Favorite?

In a past life, back when I was enamored with Foobar2000’s minimalism, I would have fallen for DeaDBeeF and its surprising similarities. These days, however, I need a little bit of eye candy in addition to functionality because I’m looking for a balanced user experience, which is why I think Tomahawk is the best.
What about you? And I’m sure there are plenty of other great music players that I missed, so don’t hesitate to share your favorites with us in the comments below!

Yarock Music Player




YaRock is a new QT4 music player designed to provide a nice overview of your music by allowing you to browse your music collection based on the album cover art. Thanks to its multiple views: album, artist, track, genre or folder view, you can easily find an artist or album even with a large music collection (and if that's not enough, you can always use the built-in search). Depending on the view you're using, you can drag a whole album or just some tracks to the playlist on the right.

YaRock can fetch albums cover art from Last.fm or you can load it from a file - but unfortunately you must do this manually for each album. Hopefully an automatic way of doing this will be implemented in the future.

YaRock's main purpose is not to have a huge list of features, but to allow you to browse your music collection in a clear, visual pleasing way so don't expect too many features, at least not for now. The current features include:

    Music collection database (SQLite 3)
    Browse your local music collection (by artists, albums, genre)
    Easy search and filter music collection
    Manage favorites item (album, artist)
    Play music from Collection or Playlist
    Simple Playlist
    Support MP3, Ogg Vorbis,FLAC music files
    Download missing album cover art from Last.fm
    Clean and simple user interface



Ubuntu / Linux Mint users can install YaRock by using an unofficial PPA. Add the PPA and install it by using the following commands:


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:samrog131/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install yarock


If you don't want to add the PPA, you can download the YaRock deb from HERE and install it manually.

Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-linux-music-players-that-deserve-your-attention-now/

February 21, 2015

How to enable the Composting Manager in Ubuntu Mate

I've noticed that the Ubuntu Mate Tweak utility has been removed. For anyone looking to enable the Composting Manager. Here is how to do it from the Terminal. Enjoy....
first ensure you have installed compiz:
sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-plugins compizconfig-settings-manager


Open compiz settings manager by typing  ccsm  in the terminal, or just find it in the dash.
Under EFFECTS, enable Window Decorations.

This is where I got stuck for 2 months. In most distros, this is all you have to do, but there is another step in Mate:


Open a terminal and type:


dconf write /org/mate/marco/general/compositing-manager true

You should now have compositing enabled.




Source: http://askubuntu.com/questions/536717/mate-compositing-windows-manager

February 9, 2015

Why Evolve OS could win you over to Linux and me away from Ubuntu


Jack Wallen has found the one take on Linux that could possibly move him away from his distribution of choice since 2006.






There are so many Linux distributions, each one claiming that they are the one flavor best designed for the new user in mind. Ubuntu, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS -- all outstanding distributions and very much ready for users who want a platform built on the premise that Linux isn't nearly as challenging as many people assume.





In 2014, a new distribution appeared out of nowhere, one that cut straight to the heart of the matter and promised to deliver a Linux distribution like no other. That distribution is Evolve OS. For the longest time, the distribution was in a state of limbo, and the best you could do was download an alpha and hoped it would run. I tried a number of times and finally opted to just install the Budgie desktop on a Ubuntu distribution. That attempt gave me an idea of how Evolve OS would look, but not much more.


All of that changed last week when the beta of Evolve OS was finally released, and the distribution could finally be tested against what's considered the gold standard of user-friendly Linux distributions.
It not only fared well, it crushed the competition.
I should probably preface this by saying that I'm already a bit biased towards the Budgie interface. It's a near clone of the Chrome OS UI -- beautiful, elegant, and simple (Figure A). It makes lesser hardware sing, and it's quite stable for a beta.
Figure A



Figure A



The Budgie desktop in action.
Evolve OS is built from scratch, using a fork of the PiSi package manager, and it's integrated with the GNOME stack to avoid technical debt and needless overhead.
What's underneath the hood will not concern the new user -- but what will is the complete lack of a learning curve. Any user could hop onto Evolve OS and feel right at home. At the heart of that is the similarity to the Chrome OS UI. Although the Chromebook, by nature of its design, does have limitations (I should also mention that I'm a big fan of the Chromebook), the UI is as flawless an interface as you'll ever find. Evolve OS takes perfect advantage of this and re-creates that platform, sans limitations.



Imagine the Chromebook with the ability to run full-blown applications and work seamlessly offline. That's the very heart and soul of Evolve OS. With a simple menu, notification area, and panel, Evolve OS enjoys a familiar desktop metaphor that has worked for decades with the modern, minimal twist of Chrome OS.
From the user's perspective, Evolve OS borrows the following from the GNOME stack:
  • Files -- GNOME file manager
  • Maps -- GNOME map tool
  • Weather -- GNOME weather app
It must be said that Budgie is not a fork of GNOME 3. Budgie was built from scratch and uses its own window manager and panel. Outside of the listed apps above, most of the borrowed GNOME stack is underneath the hood.

Why Evolve?

The answer to this question is quite simple. If you're a fan of Chromebooks but long to be able to add an addition layer of usability and power on top, Evolve OS is for you. If you're looking for the epitome of elegance on a desktop, Evolve OS is for you. If you're looking for the single lowest barrier to entry for Linux, Evolve OS is for you.

Why not Evolve?

It's very important to remember that Evolve OS is in beta. This means that you'll find tiny corners that are a bit rough. Take, for instance, the Software Center (Figure B).
Figure B




Figure B

The Evolve Software Center.
The Software Center is quite limited at the moment. With a minimal amount of available packages to install, you'll find yourself having to go the old-school route and install manually. Evolve OS uses the eopkg, which is a fork of the PiSi package manager. You can install a package with a command similar to:
sudo eopkg install audacity
Personally, I'll be following Evolve OS closely to see when the distribution comes out of beta. When it does, it's quite possible that I could evolve from Ubuntu to this incredibly easy-to-use take on the Linux environment. That's a fairly impressive task for any new distribution -- to take me away from my Linux distribution of choice since 2006.
What do you think? Is Evolve OS just what the Linux platform needs to win over new users? Why or why not?

Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/why-evolve-os-could-win-you-over-to-linux-and-me-away-from-ubuntu/

January 30, 2015

Windows 10 Theme for Linux (GTK & XFCE)


One of the great things about Linux is the ability to customize your system any way you want. I had some fun with this one. I used the Orion Theme with the Windows 8 metacity title bars and windows icons. Below are links where you can get theme. Enjoy.

























You can get the GTK3 metacity Win8 theme here:
http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php/Windows+8+theme+By+Kunal?content=165937

You get the Orion GTK3 theme here:
http://satya164.deviantart.com/art/Orion-GTK3-Theme-281431756

You can get the Win8 icons here:
http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php/Windows+8+Icons+Theme?content=167957

You can get the wallpapers here:

http://www.windows8core.com/download-the-all-new-desktop-hd-wallpapers-from-windows-10-consumer-preview-build-9901/









You can do the same for your XFCE desktop as well....and see the links below...














You can get the XFCE theme, XFCEight here:

http://xfce-look.org/content/show.php/Xfceight?content=158227

January 17, 2015

Ambiance & Radiance Flat Themes


Many of the new themes are heavily influenced by Android & Apple phone & tablets. Minimal flat themes are increasingly being developed for Windows 8 and Linux. Below is the Ambiance Flat theme along with the Vibrancy series icons. There are several color options in the theme. They both give my linux desktop a fashionable look these days. Below are links to get the theme and wallpaper. Enjoy.
























































The Ambiance Flat Theme can be found here:

http://www.ravefinity.com/p/download-ambiance-radiance-flat-colors.html

The Vibrancy Icons set can be found here:

http://www.ravefinity.com/p/vibrancy-colors-gtk-icon-theme.html

The Ubuntu red squares wallpaper can be found here:

http://www.wallpapershunt.com/wallpaper/ubuntu-logo-orange-2560x1600_w2954.html