My space in the world

Code is poetry

Posted by Sayak
November - 19 - 2008

One of the more bizarre accusations flung by Microsoft at GNU/Linux over the years is that it doesn’t scale. This is part of a larger campaign to portray it as a kind of “toy” operating system – fine for low-end stuff, but nothing you’d want to run your enterprise on.

Sadly, that narrative has been rather undermined by the independent Top500 supercomputing sites ranking. Five years ago, the GNU/Linux family ran 36.80% of the top 500 supercomputers; worse, Windows ran on precisely one supercomputer.

Obviously, this was somewhat embarrassing for the company, which has poured huge sums into beefing up its Windows HPC operating system for use on supercomputers.

And all that money has produced some stunning results. Compared to five years ago, Windows has increased its share of the top 500 supercomputing site by a staggering 400% – that’s right, it’s gone from one machine, to five – 1%. Meanwhile, GNU/Linux has grown less impressively: it’s only increased its share of the market by 51% in absolute terms, growing from 36.8% to 87.8%.

So, time for GNU/Linux to watch out for this super Seattle hotshot? Well, maybe not. It’s true that Microsoft notched up five machines in the latest rankings – but it achieved that in the previous table.

Posted by Sayak
November - 19 - 2008

Every time there is a new Linux distro that is making a lot of noise in the Linux community, it is just waiting to be forked by someone. Most of these forks are cosmetic in nature and are generally design improvements of user interface and sometimes adding packages not installed by default or removing few not used by many. Some go as far as bundling them with custom kernel or using a different package manager. Ubuntu – being the most widely used Linux distribution – is also not immune to the clone/forks attacks. Today, we will look at some of the well-received Ubuntu based forks out there, which are not supported by Canonical.

Linux Mint is the most popular Ubuntu forks out there – most Ubuntu users who have switched to Mint are generally very satisfied with their experience. The main elements that distinguish Mint from Ubuntu are:

  • A custom collection of system management tools (Mint Tools)
  • A Unique user interface with custom theme – a lot better than the brownish theme you get with Ubuntu.
  • Default installations of plugin so that you can play most common media files out of the box. Unlike Ubuntu.

While Mint uses Ubuntu repositories for all software updates, it relies on its own repository for Mint specific packages.

Ultimate Edition (NOT Ubuntu Ultimate Edition) follows the tradition of Linux forks by having codecs of popular media files easily accessible by default for a better media experience. But unlike Mint, it is up-to-date with the latest Ubuntu build and has its own repositories for restricted drivers and repositories. UE is installed with large number of packages and Desktop Environments by default, hence the ISO is only available in large DVD formats. The author of the project also maintains Ultimate Gamers Edition for game addicts.

Based on Ubuntu 7.10, gOS (good OS) is an excellent example of what you can do with Linux and open source software. The whole distro is designed to work with mostly Google Apps and other online applications (Web 2.0 Apps). Though the design could use some work but IMHO it looks a lot better than Ubuntu default theme. The earlier releases were based on E17 desktop environment – the latest release has moved to Gnome as its interface of choice. You can think of gOS as an improvement of Ubuntu the same way Flock is an improvement on Firefox.

CrunchBang is a lightweight Linux distro with openbox as the default Desktop Environment. It was built with speed, usability and configurability in mind. It comes pre-installed with some popular applications not available in Ubuntu by default including restrictive drivers and codecs.


OzOs is an elegant stable environment of beauty, specifically “The Reality Different”. OzOS is built on Xubuntu or to be more exact a Debian base and utilizes the sexy Enlightenment 17 Desktop. This is a special version of e17 that is brought to you by the most discriminating e17 user: Rui Pais; with his precious time and Enlightenment knowledge, he has created a Distro that is OzOS.

While there are many Ubuntu forks out there, these four are the most interesting ones that caught my eye. It is important to note that, contrary to popular belief, Ubuntu Studio is not a fork but has the blessings of Canonical.

Posted by Sayak
November - 19 - 2008

“# Brush up and hone skills. Don’t get rusty — be prepared for the upturn by staying active and have work to show for your time off. Would you rather discuss the patches you contributed with a potential new boss, or the latest developments in daytime TV?

“# Scratch that itch. If there’s a feature you’ve always wanted to see added to your favorite FOSS application, now’s a good time to dive in.

“# Get your foot in the door. Many have predicted that the downturn will be good for, or at least not as bad, for open source companies. Working with the development teams might be a good way to get your foot in the door when they start hiring.”

Read More..

Posted by Sayak
November - 19 - 2008

KDE 3.5.x had an option for enabling composite called kcompmgr (which was a modified version of xcompmgr), it had basic functionality like transparency and fading, but nothing else, and it wasn’t exactly fast.

Then Compiz came, originally designed by Novell along with XGL, but, even if it can be used with KDE, it obviously was designed with GNOME in mind.

The KDE developers wanted eye-candy composite for they KDE 4 series, so they had 3 options, writing a whole new window manager, use compiz or improving kwin, they took the last one.

That way KDE didn’t lose any advance window management feature and won 3D window management full of eye candy and some useful features 🙂

Present Windows

Lets star by one of the useful plugins, originally designed by apple, it has 3 pesent modes:

Natural, it tries to preserve the size relationship between the different windows:

Regular Grid:

Flexible grid:

Desktop Grid

For presenting all the workspaces in a grid in order to make arrangement of windows easier:

The Legendary Cube

Compiz became famous with this, I don’t think it’s exactly useful per se, but it makes easier for newbies to understand the concept of virtual desktops (tough it don’t truly work that way XD), the point is that it looks good, and mixed with the desktop grid can be useful:

Switch (Alt + Tab)

Kwin has 4 different options for switching between windows, that said, you can assign key strokes for each one, so if you desire it, you can use all of them

Box switch, the most common way of rolling trough windows:

Flip switch, like in Windows Vista whit Aero enabled:

Cover switch, similar to coverflow, but with windows:

And, my favorite, present windows, like exposé, but using alt-tab:

The Legendary Wobbly Windows

Completely useless, but most people seem to love the effect, I personally dislike it:

Taskbar Thumbnails

On hover shows a miniature of the window:


I found shadows to be one of the most useful effects, and it looks good too, as you will see in the following screenshot, the focus window has a different shadow, a pretty nice looking blue shadow:

Dialog Parent

This plugin dims the window which has an open dialog, quite nice looking, and it can be useful:

Dim Inactive

Dim Screen for Administrator mode


Obviously is for zooming into your desktop, quite good for people with vision problems:


Zoom with a magnifier, it’s less intrusive than zoom, because you can still look at your full desktop, as zoom, it’s designed for people with vision problems:

Track mouse

Can’t you find the pointer? No problem, press ctrl + meta (windows key), I’m sure you’ll find those XD

Fall apart

When you close a window it explodes, personally I find this effect to be ugly, and annoying too, but for those who may like it here the mandatory screenshot:


There are several animation which I can’t show in screenshots, since my graphic card won’t resist recording such a thing XD, so I’ll just mention them:

  • Slide: Animate the change between desktops.
  • Minimize animation: Animate the minimizing of windows.
  • Scale in: Animate the appearing windows
  • Login: Smoothly fade to the desktop when logging in
  • Logout: Desaturate the desktop when displaying the logout dialog
  • Plasma transparency (dialogs, panels, dashboard, plasmoids) when Kwin 3D effects are on

Configuration Dialogs

As you will see, it’s quite simple and straight forward, however, if you pay attention to one of the screenshots (which in fact isn’t a kwin configuration dialog) you’ll see what I forgot to show in the Plasma article.

Posted by Sayak
November - 19 - 2008

The first ever GNOME.Asia Summit was held at the Beihang university, Beijing, China, from October 18th to 19th, 2008. The GNOME Foundation was the organizer of GNOME.Asia Summit in collaboration with Sun Microsystems, Beijing Linux User Group (BLUG) and China OSS Promotion Union (COPU). This premier event was very well attended: 318 people attended the first day, and 212 people attended the second day. The majority of the attendees (2/3) were from universities, the remainder from companies. Ninety percent of the participants were local (from China) with the remainder from other countries. We had 46 volunteers from Beijing Linux Users Group, Beijing OpenSolaris Users Group, OpenParty, Beihang university, Beiyou university and many individual contributors, they helped us in many ways including registration, guidance, emcees, photography and video.

This year, there were total 42 speakers, 70% were local speakers and 30% of them were from other countries, including USA, Finland and Singapore etc. There were 46 talks over the two days of the summit. The talks covered several topics, including: accessibility, mobility, i18n, community, development and deployment. Each day started with a general session in the morning and was followed by 5 tracks in the afternoon. For more details, refer to the schedule on the summit website. Most of the slides have been uploaded to the website, as well as speakers’ bios and photos.

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About Me

A son, brother and friend. Enjoys scripting and making small bits of apps here and there. Wants to conquer the world (well, who doesnt). A geek who has an obsession for ponies. Loves acoustic and wants to play guitar sitting on the Hollywood hill one day!

A Word About KDE

KDE is a versatile software compilation for all platforms. It is an intuitive and powerful desktop environment that focuses on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, and creating a vibrant, open atmosphere for experimentation.