Monday, 17 December 2012

THQ looking into Linux ports

I’ve previously mentioned The Humble Indie Bundle before on this blog.  A collection of cross platform, independent games are made available for a brief period and a part of the money goes to charity.  Recently, to my horror, they released the Humble THQ Bundle.  THQ are far from being an independent developer, releasing games on PS3, xbox 360 and PC, probably their most notable recent products has been the sandbox game series Saints Row.

I thought that this was the owners of the Humble Bundle falling away from their independent roots and starting to chase after more money from the bigger companies, especially given that this bundle was advertised as “Windows only” and the majority of the games that I checked out on the Wine website listed their performance as “Garbage” so this meant that the deal was truly aimed at the windows user.

However, following some recent news by THQ I have a renewed sense of optimism.  The company were pleased with the sales over the limited period, but even better were the number of requests on their forum and Twitter to offer a Linux port in keeping with the tradition of the Humble Indie Bundle.

In a recent interview with Polygon, THQ president Jason Rubin stated "The message I took away from a large number of tweets and comments around the THQ Humble Bundle sale is that there are vibrant communities of gamers using other operating systems besides the dominant ones, and a company like THQ should not overlook them," 

"Complicating the analysis (in a positive way), gamers have tweeted inventive ideas to me, such as letting the community help in the porting to bring down costs," Rubin said. "THQ is committed to look at anything that makes sense."

"I'm sure we will have more to announced shortly," Rubin added.

We shall look forward to hearing the announcement, whilst this will not get much praise from the freedom lovers, a lot of Linux users still keep a Windows partition purely for gaming purposes.  This is certainly a step in the right direction for gamers on Linux.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Updated: MP3 files in Debian

A lot of new users move from Ubuntu to another Debian based distro to limit the ammount of change they experience. But often can be a bit daunted by the challenges that Ubuntu made easy for them. One such is music files in MP3 format.

Whilst I personally use Ogg Vorbis and would encourage all others to, I am realistic that a lot of people still want to use their MP3 files and even build up their collection.

*If you are unsure what the term "as root" means then simply add sudo before each command that requires root privileges, you will be required to enter your password as sudo is a powerful tool*

Playing MP3 files

For playing MP3 files, the quickest method is to download VLC player. This is available from the software repositories from the majority of distros. This can be installed very easily:

1. Open the terminal

2. As root type: apt-get install vlc

This now gives you a player.

Ripping CDs to MP3 format

Should you want to rip your CDs to MP3 format then we still have another few steps to take.

1. Open the terminal

2. As root type: apt-get install sound-juicer

This gives a program that will rip the music from a CD and save it onto the computer. We can load it up from the main menu (usually listed under the multimedia or sound and video), called Audio CD Extractor.

If we open this up and click on edit and preferences we should be greeted by a window as shown below:

Down near the bottom of the window we should see Output Format, this by default is set to CD Qua;ity, Lossy (.ogg type). At this point if we click on this it will not give us the option of MP3. We still have a few more things to do.

The package we need is not available in the Debian repos due to Debian's commitment to free software. But we can add this. We need to go back to our terminal.

3. As root type: nano /etc/apt/sources.list (if you are met with the message unknown command nano, then you can retype the command replacing nano with gedit)

4. Decide what repos you would like to add:

Stable: deb stable main non-free
Testing: deb testing main non-free
Unstable: deb sid main non-free

Add only one of the above choices, just type the part in bold to the end of document.

5. Exit the file by pressing Ctrl + X, it will then ask you if you wish to save press y and then hit return twice.

This will add the repos to our system, but we also need to have the keyring before the repos will work.

6. Download the Debian Multimedia keyring from here.

7. Navigate to the directory and, as root, type: dpkg -i debian-multimedia-keyring*.deb

8. as root, type: apt-get update

9. as root, type: apt-get install gstreamer0.10-lame gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly

That's it.

To check it has worked open up Audio CD Extractor again, click on edit and preferences. This time when we click on Output Format, MP3 should be an option.

Enjoy your music.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Valve looking for Linux testers

Valve are requiring the help of Linux users for the upcoming beta of Steam.  Valve are looking for 1000 testers to help out with their first Linux port of their extremely popular gaming client software.  Steam makes purchasing boxed games off the shelf a thing of the past and allows users to purchase/try games online and download them instantly.  One of the major advantages to this system is that games are updated regularly and there is no waiting period as delivery is simply as long as it takes for the users download to reach their computer.

The concept is nothing new, indeed Desura has had a native Linux application for a while now, however the games available for Linux compared to number for windows leaves users with a bad taste in their mouths.  However steam does offer a range of big name titles that Linux users have sadly been lacking.  That’s not to say that all of the games on Steam will be ported to Linux immediately, but as the early ports are Portal, Team Fortress 2, Serious Sam 3 BFE and Left 4 Dead 2 then this is enough to gain significant interest from the Linux gaming community.
If you would like to try and gain a place on Valve’s testing team then all you need to do is create an account at (if you don’t already have one) and fill out an online survey here

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Humble Bundle continues to expand

The Humble Bundle started back on the 4th of May 2010 and ran for seven days.  It offered five computer games from independent developers and was offered in a 'pay what you want' format. These were also available in cross platform formats, which gained notable excitement in the Linux world due to a lack of available games compared to the selection on offer to windows and mac users.  After the week was over and the money counted the bundle had made $1 million (US).  But this wasn't a venture that was fuelled by corporate greed, instead the proceeds were split between charities, game developers and the organisers (in the form of a 'Humble Tip').

Since then there has been several gaming bundles (including some focused on the Android platform) and on the 26th of July 2012 the first music bundle was launched, whilst not considered as big a success as the gaming bundles it still made over $400,000 during the period of sale.

Now as the organisers continue to expand their potential audience the first Humble eBook Bundle was launched on the 9th October 2012, this bundle is available until the 22nd of October.  The list of ebooks on offer are: Pirate Cinema (Cory Doctorow), Pump Six and Other Stories (Paolo Bacigalupi), Zoo City (Lauren Beukes), Invasion (Mercedes Lackey), Strange Things Happen and Magic for beginners (both by Kelly Link).

A recent 'reward' feature has been included to the bundles, which gives extra to those who pay above the average price.  This bundle is no different and those who donate that little bit extra will also receive Old Man's War (John Scalzi) and Signal to Noise (Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean).

Whether the ebook bundle will become a regular feature or simply a one time venture remains to be seen.  However it is good to see the organisers of the Humble Bundle are continuing to try new things and keep the franchise fresh.

Have you got any ideas for a future bundle? Drop them a line here.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Firefox OS screenshots

Preview screenshots have been released of Firefox OS, Mozilla's mobile phone operating systems (originally labelled Boot to Gecko).


Although a lot of progress has been made since the last batch of leaked shots, Firefox OS is still in early stages.  From these pictures it is clear that the developers were heavily influenced by Google's Android mobile OS.  All of the screenshots show standard phone tasks in operation, at this point there is nothing that stands out.

Mozilla have previously stated that they were aiming at the lower end of the market: cheaper phones with less power than their rivals.  However with an ever expanding range of Android phones available costing less than £100, Firefox OS will need to offer something to entice users to switch.

Gaining support from the phone carriers is always going to be a major obstacle for any new mobile OS producer, however Mozilla have stated that Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telenor will support Firefox OS. Device manufacturers TCL Communication Technology (under the Alcatel One Touch brand) and ZTE have also announced their intentions to manufacture the first devices to feature Mozilla's new smartphone OS.

It's early days yet, but the initial signs for Firefox OS look promising, but not mind blowing.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Jamendo - download Ogg files directly (Updated)

*****Due to Jamendo restructuring it's file archives, this method no longer works in order to obtain albums in ogg vorbis format, I will post an update when I find an alternative method******

Jamendo has all of the songs on it's site available in Ogg Vorbis format, however back on the old site this was only offered as a torrent option and the severe lack of any seeders left many users (including this one) very frustrated. Given that the files are there, the lack of an obvious way to download them is very frustrating.  But there is a way to directly download the albums in Ogg Vorbis format to your PC.

It is not as simple as a one click, however it is not overly complicated.

1. First go to the page of the album you wish to download (this will not work from the artist or song pages), in my example I'm using the Roads and Lakes by Crazy Evolution.

 2. Take a look at the address bar, this will have the album's ID, in this case it is a77507.  Take a note of the numbers only. For this album: 77507

3. Place this into the address bar of your browser:{album ID numbers go here}/?are=ogg3

so for my example to get the Crazy Evolution album it would be :

4. From the pop up window select Save File and then click OK

Once your downloads have finished; sit back, relax and enjoy your music in a free format.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sound problems

I was recently tearing my hair out attempting to get 32 bit games (and indeed any other type of software) to work on my 64 bit Linux system.  Every time I loaded them up they ran but without any sound whatsoever.  The error I was getting was:
Cannot open shared library
Upon searching the internet I found that I was not alone and it appeared to be a problem with the 32 bit sound libraries (well I could tell that without trawling the internet).  However according to the software available in the repos (Debian Sid/unstable) I had all of the necessary 32 bit libraries installed.

However reading through a post on the Zsnes forum, I found that the specific package (or the lack of it as the case may be) that was causing this problem was lib32asound2-plugins.  I had lib32asound2 installed, but lib32asound2-plugins did not appear to be in the Debian Sid/unstable repos.

I installed the package by downloading the deb file directly from here.  It does say to use the repos rather than downloading debs directly, however at this point I was out of luck.  After installing lib32asound2-pluigins all of my programs (OK then ...... games, if I'm being honest) now ran with sound.

Not the most technical of posts, however I hope that it is able to quickly help anybody else experiencing similar problems.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Updated: cross posting from Diaspora to

Diaspora is widely described as the open source version of facebook and google+, however it is disappointing that, using your Diaspora settings, you can link with facebook, twitter and tumblr but not But there is a workaround.

In the spirit of this blog, I always try to keep everything open source, I'm going to link the accounts using a free, open source project by Michele Azzolari or @macno on Whilst is a free service; you need an invite, simply send an email to

Once you have received your invitation log in to your new account at We'll do the destination first, trust me it's easier. I'll now break this into steps to make it easier to follow.

Before we can setup properly, we need the feed for your Diaspora posts.

1. On Diaspora, when you are about to make a post, you should see a text box similar to the one shown below:


Click on the spanner icon.

2. This will open up a new floating window, click on RSS, this will open up a new page. Take a note of the web page address.

In this example my address is https://joindiaspora/public/kevie.atom
*the recent rss feeds have .atom at the end

3. Go to the website.

4. On the welcome screen you'll see the number of feeds and destinations you currently have setup. Click on Add/Edit beside destinations, this will lead you to a new screen.

5. Click on Add new destination

6. Click on Identica

7. This will take you to, log in (if necessary) and the site will display the message:

Click on Allow

8. Now go back to, this time click on Add/Edit beside feeds

9. In the first box add the address of your Diaspora feed that we noted in step 2. In the second box give this setup a name (I have imaginatively called it 'diaspora')

10. Now it's time to choose what you wish to export, for text only enter %s, if you want a link to be posted then add %u (you don't actually need this as it will be added automatically if your post exceeds the 140 character limit)

11. On the next screen, put a tick beside your username and click on Save

12. Now log out of and your done, your posts from Diaspora will be updated on your timeline.

Please note that when you post on Diaspora you must change from All Aspects to Public, only Public posts will be sent to

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Tizen 1.0 "Larkspur" is released.

Tizen, the Linux based mobile operating system that is replacing the short lived Meego project, is now out of beta and has announced it first full release codenamed "Larkspur".

In contrast to Mozilla's Boot2Gecko, which aims to use all of it's features on a cloud through a browser interface, Tizen adopts the more traditional format of the applications running natively on the mobile device.

The platform looks like it has been setup to meet the needs of the majority of users, with compatibility for various audio (both MP3 & Ogg Vorbis) and video files.  A full list of all the features of the new release can be seen here.

Tizen's graphics are a window system built upon X11, this includes support for OpenGL and indicates that it has the potential for both 2D and 3D graphics.  Web support appears to be embedded in the new code with full support for HTML5.

The official announcement from Tizen also stated " There are also a number of back-end changes, designed to improve stability and scalability of the infrastructure."

All of the pieces are there to make a decent cake, but developers are still being sought in order to put some icing on.  The SDK is available for download, however at the present time the supported operating systems are limited to Windows XP & 7, Ubuntu 10.04-11.10 and only the 32 bit versions. SDK release notes, along with a wiki, bugtracker, IRC (#tizen at and guide to help you developing your first Tizen application are currently in place in order to aid developers and testers.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Open opt (and other documents) online

Recently I was on my works computer, where I have no autority to install anything, and left with urgently needing to open a document that I had saved on some of my online storage space. There was one slight problem: I had saved the odt version of my file to the cloud space and this PC runs windows XP and office 2003. This was a problem as I urgently needed the file and none of the computers at my workplace have anything other than windows XP and ofice 2003. My first thought was to try Google Docs, but they failed to open the odt file either.

But help was at hand in the form of a very handy website called View Docs Online this allowed me to view, print the file and convert it to a pdf file without the need of any account sign up or installation of software. Although you can view, at present it doesn't allow the user to edit the documents, but to be fair this is an online viewer, not an online word processor. It allows text to be selected and copied

There is a catch with this though: be wary over what you put on, make sure there is nothing that is confidential or important information. This is similar to posting on a url shortening service (like tinyurl or, once it is on there you are free to share the url with the rest of the world. But this can be turned into an advantage as it allows the users to share their documents with people on social networks (Diaspora,, Frienica etc). It does allow you the option of deleting the document, but I am never convinced as to how effectively items are removed from a server, I prefer to have control and know that my information is safe.

It allows a 'sign in' feature via Facebook, this allows the user to sort their saved documents. But this is a shame that it must be through Facebook only, as not everybody can take advantage of this, a local account and login would also have been a nice option.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mozilla's new phone OS to slash smartphone costs

Mozilla's new smartphone operating system, codenamed the "Boot to Gecko" project, will entice new users by offering them a smartphone at significantly reduced rate compared to the Android or Apple based alternatives. In fact Mozilla are claiming that the new phones could be "10 times cheaper" than an iphone, but how is Mozilla (and indeed the mobile phone manufacturers) able to make such a bold claim?

The proposed platform, which is expected to start shipping on it's first devices before the end of the year (2012), is expected to be totally reliant on running everything from the web and cloud based storage. At present it is planned that all of the phone functions, including making phone calls and texting would be web based. This eliminates the need for pre-installed software which require more memory and a faster processor to run, both of which are expensive elements of a smartphone. The result is that the phones will be made with lower specifications and thus, in theory, reducing the cost of the phone.

Mozilla have also declared that the project will be fully open source in order to encourage more community development and involvement from an early stage. Announcing this at an early stage is a smart move as it should get developers working on applications now, resulting in a decent number of apps being available when they start shipping on mobile devices later on this year (2012). This will certainly appeal to the niche open source market who are still calling out for a truly free and open phone operating system.

So far the early signs are promising, a quick system that is truly open source and for a fraction of the price. However there is one thing that could hinder the spread of this phone, even for potential customers that want it: mobile internet connectivity.

Whilst this is great in many cities around the world, a lot of people outside of the main cities can look up web pages on their mobile, however this is at a speed that is slower than the old 56K modems. I'm not talking about in some hidden places in the mountain range of Tibet or a community tucked away in the desert in Sudan. Take the UK as an example. There is good to excellent cell phone coverage throughout the entire country from John O'Groats to Lands End. However outside of most cities the mobile internet connectivity is truly awful. I can imagine that this is similar in vast areas of the world, great in the cities, but once you venture outside of the city limits the service will drop at an alarming rate.

Will this be the open smartphone OS that the community is crying out for? The signs look promising, but if your not in the city then, at the moment, the best hope for an open future may be to keep an eye on WebOS or Tizen.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ubuntu for Android

With a continued yearn for a free mobile phone operating system, despite the success of Android, users are still looking for a truly open experience. Canonical is joining in the competition for a share mobile phone operating system market, will this be the saviour and free and open alternative that we are looking for? Well it's early days but sadly the early answer would appear no. In this interview by Engadget with a Canonical employee named Richard, it is stated that Ubuntu for Android will be offered pre-installed by manufacturers and won't be available to download for regular users for now.

However this doesn't mean that the project will be a complete failure, it is at early stages of development and this thirteen minute interview gives us a little bit more information after an impressive introductory statement form Canonical:

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Pirate Bay moves to a new home

Follow the court ruling today (01.02.12) the Pirate Bay operators moved the site from .org to .se Sources from inside the Pirate Bay state that it is to prevent the domain being seized by the US follow the completion of the court case today.

Today the Sweedish Supreme court decided not to grant leave to appeal in the long running trial, which started back in 2009. What does this mean? The fines and prison sentences handed out to Peter Sunde (8 months), Fredrik Neij (10 months), Gottfrid Svartholm (12 months) and Carl Lundström (4 months) will stand, along with the fine handed out of £4.3 million ($6.8 million).

Per E Samuelsson (Carl Lundström’s lawyer) stated “The verdict is absurd, I am disappointed that the court is so uninterested in dissecting and analyzing the legal twists and turns of one of the world’s most high-profile legal cases of all time.”

However, due to the ongoing nature of the trial and some common practices in Sweedish law, today ruling does not actually mean that the accused will serve jail time.

Changing the domain name to the Swedish domain .se puts the address out of the reach of US authorities. Along with the name change the defiant Pirate Bay operators changed the logo from the traditional ship to a closed fist (above) and issued a statement via their official blog:

"2012 is the year of the storm.

The Pirate Bay will reach an age of 9 years. Experiencing raids, espionage and death threats, we're still here. We've been through hell and back and it has made us tougher than ever.

The people running the site has changed during the years. No sane human being would put up with this kind of pressure for 8 years in a row. An insane hobby that takes time from our families, our work (sorry boss) and our studies.

What binds us all together is a strong belief that what we do is good. That it is something we one day can tell our grandchildren about with pride. People from all over the world confirm this. We read testimonials from people in Syria longing for freedom, thanking us for what we provide. We receive more than 100 visits daily from North Korea and we sure know that they need it. If there's something that will bring peace to this world it is the understanding and appreciation of your fellow man. What better way to do that than with this vast library of culture?

With this said, we hear news from our old admins that they have received a verdict in Sweden. Our 3 friends and blood brothers have been sentenced to prison. This might sound worse than it is. Since no one of them no longer lives in Sweden, they won't go to jail. They are as free today as they were yesterday.

But what enrages us to our inner core is that the system, the empire, the governments, are still allowed to try to boss you and us around with one law crazier than the other. Do you think they will stop with SOPA/ACTA/PIPA? They will not. Because you won't stop sharing those files. Because we will not stay down. Because no one can turn back time. Together, we are the iron that hardens with each strike.

In this year of the storm, the winners will build windmills and the losers will raise shelters. So flex your muscles, fellow pirates, and give power to us all! Build more sites! More nets! More protocols! Scream louder than ever and take it to the next level!"

The Pirate Bay may have lost the battle, but from the statement today they are clearly indicating that the war is not over yet. Down but not out.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Early Tizen Screenshots Leaked

Tizen, the open source platform that has been created to replace the short lived Meego, has had some initial screenshots leaked. These are reportedly originating from a Samsung I9500 device and it is also expected that the earliest appearance of these could be next month (February 2012) at the Mobile World Conference 2012 in Barcelona, which runs for four days starting on the 27th of the month.

From early signs the user interface looks promising, it is clean and tidy and I suspect owes quite a lot to the Android setup. Given that this is one of the most popular and fastest growing smartphone operating systems then why not borrow some of it’s features.

However, despite how impressive the user interface, how well it may run or how truly open it is; technical superiority will count for nothing unless the community gets behind it. Developers need to be actively making and maintaining apps as well as some major manufactures supporting and shipping the Tizen operating system on devices. If this is limited to simply the technology experts and hackers then sadly Tizen will follow the path of Meego which it replaced. Currently Intel and Samsung are backing the project, but until it is released on a device we won’t know the public will take to the new operating system.

I for one will be very pleased to see another device, especially one that stays true to it’s word and remains mostly open source; something which can’t be said of Android. However the sad truth is that ‘Average Joe’ on the street doesn’t care about openness, but simply about performance, looks and what new apps they can get. By the time this is available to the general public (as much as it grates against me to say this) Tizen will need to have apps ready and polished for all the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, G+), email clients, shopping, games, navigation and the variety that is widely available in the Android and Apple stores.

I really hope that Tizen can gain enough ground to be around for a long time, but as so many have come and gone before, it may end up being another short lived adventure.