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review: opensuse 12.2


I’m going to put my conclusion to this review right up front – OpenSuse 12.2 is a solid desktop and server operating system built on the incremental improvements that have been made across the linux ecosystem in the last 10 months. Whilst that sounds rather like damning with faint praise, in the current operating system ecosystem, there will be many who will find such an unspectacular and solid release, reason for wild celebration. OpenSuse is not trying to shoe-horn a tablet UI onto a desktop machine, ala OSX 10.8, Windows 8, and Ubuntu. OpenSuse is putting out a solid OS that provides its users with a system that they understand and meets their needs, is stable and performant, which in this day and age, is rather refreshing. Installation I won’t bore you with a long drawn out explanation of the installation, other than to say, it was straight-forward and uneventful. The installer is straight forward and simple, but also provides enough options to satisfy the advanced user. New Features bowels A huge number of the new features are found deep in the bowels of the system: It uses the 3.4 linux kernel, which introduces improvements to the btrfs file system,

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KDE SC 4.8 – Is KDE In A Permanent Feature Freeze?


On 22 December, KDE unleashed its first release candidate of the next major iteration of the 4.x series on an unsuspecting pre-Christmas world. KDE 4.8 is a major release number. As such, I was hoping for some pretty cool new features. However, looking at the release announcement, I see that there are only three new features worthy of mention, being: implementation of Qt Quick in Plasma Workspaces; dolphin’s file view has been rewritten. This has some really nice performance improvements, and some pretty slick animations when resizing windows; KSecretService, enabling password storage which is available to non-KDE apps on the plasma desktop and vice versa. There’s also the ubiquitous catch-all of “bug fixes and performance improvements”. Hardly worthy of a major release number bump. Initially, I thought there must be more. However, when I looked at the full feature list on KDE.org’s techbase website, looking through the full feature list on yielded a handful of complete features, all of which were completely underwhelming. So where are the features? When the KDE 4.x series was first launched, there was a lot of talk about early releases stabilizing the frameworks underlying KDE SC and achieving feature parity with the 3.x series. Once

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editing HD video: linux vs imovie

tux vs imovie

Yesterday, my kids were making a home movie to send to my mother in law. They’d made up some songs, which I’d recorded and were shooting the video to go with them. I suggested that they should edit the video in iMovie on my macbook pro. I figured that they should be able to cope fine with it – they’ve used macs at school to edit video and together with the “legendary” ease of use and “just works” approach of Apple software, it should be no problem. Sadly, they never got to try. The camera I use is a Canon HG20. It has an inbuilt hard drive and records video in the AVCHD format. This is an HD video format for consumer grade cameras and is used widely in mainstream cameras by the main camera makers. I have the latest version of iMovie ’11, which claims to have support for the AVCHD format. However, apparently, this support is limited and selective. Unfortunately, I have a camera that produces unsupported files. After trying to import the files into iMovie, iMovie simply says there has been an error importing the files, and would I like to make an archive of the files

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KDE 4.7 – A First Look At Beta 1

dolpin default

On the 25th of May 2011, KDE released the first beta of KDE SC 4.7.  As an ardent KDE fan – so prepare for this article to be horribly biased – I’ve hunted down the openSUSE packages and installed it on a test machine.  The test machine is a circa 2 year old Dell XPS M1330 laptop with 4GB of RAM and mobile NVIDA graphics running openSUSE 11.4.   In the last couple of major releases of the 4.x release of KDE SC, the changes have been largely incremental.  In fact, it seems that Gnome and Ubuntu (separately but contemporaneously) have swapped places with KDE SC 4.  Previously it was Gnome that was the steady plodder making minor incremental changes through the 2.x series, building stability and only adding minor features.  However, with the recent releases of both Gnome Shell and the Unity desktop on Ubuntu, the Gnome/Ubuntu side of the desktop linux equation has made radical and controversial steps away from the well loved Gnome 2.x series, leaving KDE 4.x as the “steady as she goes” option. Having said that, there are a few radical changes to KDE, but these are more under the hood than front and centre,

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KDEnlive 0.8 Released – Best non-linear video editor for Linux

kdenlive screenshot

For a long time I’ve been a big fan of kdenlive. I’ve written a two articles about it. One is a general overview of video editing on Linux and the other is more specific to kdenlive. For a number of years, video editing on linux – at least at a consumer level – has been patchy at best. This is somewhat ironic given the heavy use of linux in major Hollywood block film production. However, with the advent of kdenlive, things are looking pretty good and with the release of version 0.8, there have been some great features added for the more advanced users, while still retaining a simple and easy to use UI. The new features include: Rotoscoping. This is an advanced technique for tracing over live action to create life like animation; Perspective image placement; Widget layouts. This allows you to quickly switch between different layouts for different workflows. Very handy for more efficient editing; Light Graffiti. Audio Spectrum and Spectrogram. Stop Motion Capture. Tooltips with quick explanations for filters/effects. There are some really useful tools there for advanced video editing and is increasing the compositing features of this editor. In addition, many existing features have been improved

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KDE SC 4.6 RC1 – An INTELligent Update

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the beta release of KDE SC 4.6. I lamented the regression that seemed to have occurred with kwin performance on my intel based graphics chip, whilst the performance on my NVIDIA based box had improved markedly. I have now had a chance to update my intel based machine to KDE SC 4.6 RC1 and wanted to post a quick update. I’m very pleased to report that kwin performance is as good as it is on the NVIDIA machine. Windows wobble with no tearing or jerking. Window resizing is fast and much much smoother than in 4.5. Other animations feel snappier and smoother. So whilst KDE SC 4.6 does not have a huge number of new features, it is definitely worth the upgrade for the performance improvements in kwin.

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KDE SC 4.6 RC1 – Another Look

A few weeks ago, I put up a post about the first beta release of KDE SC 4.6. Unfortunately, due to a number of bugs, I’ve had to revert back to 4.5 on a couple of machines. One because there seemed to be a regression in graphics performance on the Intel based chipset I had on one machine. The other, because I decided to move from openSuse back to Kubuntu, which I might say was a pleasant surprise in terms of polish and stability. Anyway, back to the story at hand … Having now installed KDE SC 4.6 RC1 on my main desktop machine, running Kubuntu, it seems to be playing quite nicely. Here are my impressions of this latest pre-release of KDE SC 4.6. kdepim and akonadi As I have stated in my previous post, the only really earth shattering thing in this release is (was) the porting of the KDEPIM suite of applications to Akonadi. This was left out of the 4.5 release due to too many bugs. Well, it seems that it will be left out of the 4.6 release as well, due to migration issues with large data sets. This is interesting, as I had a

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KDE 4.6 Beta 1 – a first look


The first beta release of KDE SC 4.6 was released yesterday. OpenSUSE had packages up almost immediately, so being curious as to what’s new, I’ve downloaded and upgraded to the new release. These are my impressions thus far. KDE’s release notes tout the following (main) features of the 4.6 release: libplasma now does does something with QML for widgets on devices – why this is the number one feature listed on a PR release about the new release I do not know. It’s hardly sexy; the reintroduction of activities, which now includes starting and stopping applications as part of an activity. This sounds interesting – more below; optimization of Kwin. The release notes say that this will LEAD to smoother window management and more stunning desktop effects. So I’m guessing these aren’t in this release; faceted browsing in dolphin. What I think this means is that you can filter particular files by various categories in a folder view; git plugin for dolphin – yawn; introduction of akonadi to the PIM applications. KWIN Optimisations This is actually really hard to show, because any screen capture program I use to show the improvements will be jerky and completely defeat the purpose. However,

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5 Things I Miss From Linux When Using OSX

I have been a Linux user for over 10 years. I have used it exclusively on my home systems since that time and although it was a struggle at the beginning, I haven’t had any desire to use any other operating system … until now. Recently I purchased a MacBook Pro. Principally because I like the hardware, and can put Linux on it. However, it has also given me the opportunity to use OSX. In fact I’ve been using OSX quite a lot – given I’ve paid for it, I want to really see how it works. However, in the course of using it, I’ve come across a number of features of Linux and the KDE desktop that I greatly miss. If you think I’m wrong on any of the items below, please let me know – I’d love to be able to fill in some of the gaps I’ve found. This is my list: 1. A Package Manager Package management is a central feature of most Linux distributions. Whether it be apt, rpm, emerge, packman or the myriad of other package managers, the basic premise is the same – the ability to update every piece of software on your

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KDE SC 4.5 – Desktop Activities Exposed

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