Friday, 13 November 2015

LibreOffice Calc: 15 Steps for Best Line Fits (Regression Line)




Have you been troubled with messy graph sheets and age old equipment from the stone age i.e. a ruler and pencil? Why muck around with that when you're in the Computer Age buddy! Use LibreOffice Calc to simplify your plotting requirements, and far more precisely than the arbitrary line of a ruler.

Steps to Get it Straight (No We're Not Homophobic)

 

Search for LibreOffice Calc (please do install first on Windows or Mac!)
  1. Get your version of LibreOffice booted up!
  2. Once you're booted up, go ahead and enter your values you want to plot in the cells as shown below.

    Data Entry complete
  3. In most cases your X values will be straight-forward as shown, but if you want to use other values as required, feel free to change those respective positions.
  4. Now that you're done with the value entry, the hard donkey work part's over. Sit back, relax and begin watching the freedom computing brings. From the menu bar, go to Insert > Chart.. and click on it.
  5. You should now have gotten the window entry. Select the XY (Scatter) option from Chart Type with the Points and Lines option as shown below and hit Next >> .

    Select Points and Lines before proceeding
  6. Go ahead, hit Next >>, nothing to view on this next entry (unless you haven't followed steps and entered data as a row).
  7.  You are now on the Data Series tab as displayed on the window left. Click Add if your series table is blank, or edit the entry already present as shown in the next step.

    Just added a new value set!
  8. Now in the right box, you have 3 options, Name, X Values & Y Values. To enter the X axis values, select the X Values option and in the text field immediately below click on the button on the right side as shown in the bottom right of the image.

    See that little button in this corner ---->
  9. You now have a popup window asking you for values. Go right over to your table and select all the values you want to enter on the X axis. I've highlighted them in the image below.

    See the X values highlighted in blue?
  10. Do the same with the Y Values. Select the option Y Values from the box, click the text field button on the bottom right and select the column with your Y value entries. In this case if your values are hidden by the table, copy whatever X contains and paste it in the box changing the Column Letter accordingly, in my case from A to B as shown.

    I've copy pasted the text. Easy peasy.
  11. Now you're completed your graph. Careful about your index values, recheck to confirm you've used all the values and aren't missing any.
  12. Now, if you want a simple line connecting the dots, you're done. If you want a straight line with the best fit a.k.a. regression line, proceed.
  13. Double-click on the line your graph presently shows and change the line type from Continuous to (none).


  14. Now your line should disappear. Head over to the top on the menu bar and select Insert -> Trend Lines... option.


  15. Select the continuous line option, and under the tab Type play around with the options to suit your need. I prefer to have the Show Equation checked to display the line slope and intercept, as well as name my line.
That's all folks! You're done. 15 easy steps to solve your two dimensional first world problems. Move the function display around, exit table editing mode and shift that around to display your original values, whatever you choose. No more relying on graphing calculators that nearly never have print options, or pencil ruled images to upload to your report.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Improve Battery Life on your Linux Mint/Ubuntu Laptop



Linux in itself is pretty power efficient on laptops. Firstly, if you're facing significant battery drain, I would recommend updating your drivers from the "Driver Manager" present in the Linux Mint menu. Once all your drivers are all up to date, there are a few simple tips and tricks to follow which can help you improve your battery life. We will be covering some very common tips and some slightly more uncommon tips to help you in your endeavor to squeeze as much as you can out of your battery without having to dig deep into Linux's configurations.

1. Reduce Screen Brightness

Although most users are aware of this, one can never stress this point enough. Your screen requires a significant amount of power to run. Almost 50% of your total power consumption is attributed to your screen. Reducing brightness can drastically improve battery life. You can get around an hour more of juice by just reducing your brightness to as low as you can bear. Brightness can be reduced quite simply by clicking on the battery icon on the lower right of your screen.

2. Turn Off and/or Unplug Unused Devices

Laptops these days have built-in Bluetooth, Wi-fi, and sometimes even Infrared. All of these adapters require power to run. Bluetooth and Infrared in particular are known to consume a considerable amount of power. If you aren't using them, turn them off. Same rule applies for Wi-fi: if you're not using it, turn it off. It is quite easy to turn it back on whenever you need it. Leaving it on all the time wastes away your battery, as it keeps looking for networks to connect to.

All external USB devices connected to your laptop also use power. Hard drives in particular require a lot of power to run. If you are working on data present on an external hard drive, consider copying it to your internal hard drive while working, and then disconnect your external hard drive. You can connect it later on to copy your updated data back. A hard drive has a spinning disc and a movable head inside it. Both components require a lot of power to run. Similarly, using your optical drive (CD/DVD/BR Drive) also requires a lot of power. That being said, mice and flash drives require negligible power to run, so these can be left connected.  Also, avoid charging your smartphone using your laptop if you're running on battery power.

3. Avoid Rebooting Frequently

Booting a computer requires a tremendous amount of power. Even if your boot time is less than 10 seconds, the power draw could reduce about 15 to 20 minutes of your battery power. If you feel you will be using your laptop at intervals of 2 or 3 hours (or less), then consider using "Suspend". Suspend puts your laptop in an ultra low power state. Although it still draws power from your battery, the drain is incredibly low. Turning your laptop back on from suspend state also requires far less power than a full boot.

The "Hibernate" option can be used if you're leaving your laptop turned off for over 3 hours. Hibernate saves your laptop's working state (everything present in the RAM) to the hard drive and then shuts down your computer. This way, Linux does not need to fetch and load all system processes and components when it boots, hence saving a lot of CPU cycles. Hibernate probably won't give you a significant boost in battery life, but it is certainly more efficient than booting from a complete system shut down. I would still recommend a proper reboot or shut down after updating your system because it's essential for some system changes to be applied.

4. Install TLP

TLP is a simple power management tool for Linux which runs in the background and automatically optimises your system for efficient power consumption. It changes the way your devices behave depending on whether you are plugged in or on battery power. There are a lot of advanced customisation options available for advanced users, but the default settings work perfectly for most users. 

Installing TLP requires using the terminal. I will try to make the steps as simple as possible to follow.
  1. First, you need to open a terminal window by pressing "Ctrl + T".
  2. Then simply copy the following lines, paste them in the terminal window (to paste something in a terminal, you need to press "Ctrl + Shift + V") and press enter.


Note: If you are using a Lenovo Thinkpad then you will also have to copy and paste the following line in the terminal after the above process is complete.



This installs TLP on your system. Now simply reboot your computer to have it up and running.

If you want to make any changes to the configuration or perform diagnostics, you can visit the official website here (advanced users only). All installation and configuration options have been defined well.

Conclusion

There are various more tricks I can discuss here, but they are mostly for advanced users. If you're feeling up to it, you could try updating your kernel or manually turning off devices from the BIOS itself. If not, the above tips could tremendously improve your battery life if you haven't already been following them.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Chocolate Doom: Play the Old Doom on a Windows PC



If you're born in the 90s, (or are fond of games from that era) you've probably played, or at least heard of Doom. For those who haven't, it's one of the early first-person shooters which revolutionised the concept of 3D shooters on PC. It was released in 1993 and spawned a sequel in 1994. These games were obviously built for MS-DOS since that was the only available platform at the time. Considering their age, it's not natively possible for these games to run on any modern machine. Here comes Chocolate Doom to the rescue.


General Information:

  • Distribution Type: Open-Source
  • Developed by: Simon Howard (Fraggle)
  • Reviewed Version: 2.2.1
  • Available for: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux
  • Download Size: 1MB
  • Chocolate Doom Website 

Chocolate Doom has been designed to run Doom, Doom 2, Final Doom (including other similar versions) just as they were meant to be run in the 90s. That means you get the same textures, the same sound effects and more importantly, an unadulterated experience. Of course it is possible to run Doom in DOSBox, or using a virtual machine, but Chocolate Doom takes away all the hassles of setting up from the user, and lets you focus on playing the game. All you need to do is download your copy of Chocolate Doom, extract it somewhere, and drop the doom.wad/doom2.wad file from your original copy of Doom into the extracted folder. Now simply run the application and you have the DOS version of Doom running on your modern computer.



The above image represents what Doom looks like running in full-screen in Windows 10.



For the cynical ones among you, this is Doom running in windowed mode in Windows 10.

Keeping with the whole idea of the application, it also includes an old-school configuration utility which allows you to configure various aspects of the game such as sound, video, controls, and even network multiplayer. What really sets this application apart is full support for command-line parameters and IWAD based mods.



Feature Highlights:

  • Authentic 90s Doom experience.
  • Supports old demo files.
  • Support for old savegames.
  • Support for mods and user-made WADs. 
  • Configuration tool for fine tuning options.
  • Support for command-line parameters.
  • Network Support.

What's Good:

At just 1MB, this is a great source port for getting your fix of nostalgia. It runs on practically any computer you can think of. Unless your computer is incapable of running Windows XP, Chocolate Doom should have no trouble running on your computer.

What's also great is that it maintains the original feel of the game. This is as authentic as it gets when it comes to experiencing the game in its prime. The configuration options are great, catering to a novice as well as advanced users.

A comprehensive guide and FAQ is available on their website which should take care of most of your difficulties.

Support for Windows, Mac, and Linux is just icing on the cake.

What's Not:

Chocolate Doom can get a little difficult to use with multiple wad files existing in the same folder. A simple workaround is to create a separate copy for every version of Doom you have and using only one wad file per folder.

The old look and feel is great, but if you're looking to improve textures and rendering quality, then you're out of luck. Chocolate Doom does not support customising textures or sound effects. (although it does support modded wad files) If you're looking for options to change textures, or make Doom look and feel more like a 21st century shooter, then there are other source ports available which allow you to do just that.

Although popular version of Linux such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint have their own repository for Chocolate Doom, most other versions require you to build the application from the source code. This is not exactly very difficult to do, but it involves some extra work.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

FreeCAD: An Introductory Technical Guide







FreeCAD is an open source free software dedicated to 3D CAD modelling and is a great alternative to the otherwise commonly used commercial softwares like SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Creo or CATIA. It is a relatively lightweight but powerful Python code enabled component designing system, and certainly is one of the best open source tools any engineering student should learn to use.



General Information

  • Distribution Type: Open Source
  • Developed By: Juergen Riegel, Werner Mayer and Yorik van Havre
  • Reviewed Versions: 0.14(stable), 0.16 (beta development)
  • Available For: Windows, Linux(Ubuntu, Debian,Fedora), Mac OS X
  • Download Size: 202.2MB (Windows x64 0.15), 125MB (Mac OS X x64), 93MB (Ubuntu or Linux Mint x64)
  • FreeCAD Official Website

More about why you'd want to use it

  1. It's free. No issues of licensing, or getting college copies or, god forbid, pirated software.
  2. It supports all standard industry defined file formats including SVG, IGES, STEP and DXF. With the Teigha File Converter you can even manage your DWG formats too. Although I personally favour STEP.
  3. It's good for 2D drawing, but ideally awesome for 3D part designing.
  4. It has been designed to look and feel similar to the other CAD softwares, advantageous to people planning to switch over, in a week or so with a bit of practice you should feel right at home.
  5. It's got Python in it. Developers, feel something is off? Just use the interpreter to change it to exactly the way you want it. Incredibly powerful tool for the present "change-as-you-go" tech savvy peeps.
  6. Even if you don't know it, it's easy to learn. Also plenty of YouTube videos and a well constructed Wikipedia-style documentation have been provided. Read on for tips on starting up.

A Few Tips on Getting Started

Follow the installation guide, it really is simple and the best source. Especially Ubuntu and Linux Mint users, remember to add the PPA(freecad-stable or freecad-daily for the bleeding edge version) as mentioned in the Installation guide or else you won't automatically get your updates.

The Most Essential Parts of the Software:

Once you're done installing, the very first thing to get started is open a new document, and go to View>Workbench>Part Design or View>Workbench>Draft. These two workbenches are the quintessence of FreeCAD, and it may take a while to realize before you begin drawing random lines all over the canvas. Read about the Draft and Part Design workbench first, watch video or two and then you understand the methodology of design.


Started? A little more guidance here.

Here's where things begin getting a bit technical. Reader beware, a bit of familiarity with the software may be required beyond this point.


A. The Part Design Sketches

These sketches are essentially the way you create an outline in 2D for a 3D object. Create a shape with ease in the Sketch, dimension it, apply all the constraints you require (which by the way is such a great approach, since every assignment automatically will have to be defined to you through the constraints) and voilĂ , your design goes green and you've achieved a perfect shape. Now all you have to do is Pad it, Pocket it, Revolve it about the X,Y,or Z axes (which are the only options, you can move the part to the desired position later) and you have your perfect body shape. Also, save time and work with symmetries by mirroring your body.
Note: Often Pocketing might be an issue, with it not coming out right or asking for a face. Use the Part Design>Map sketch to face... option by first selecting the face you want to use, then using this option to assign a Sketch to a face. If it still doesn't work out well, ideally use the Boolean option in the next para on Part Workbench to achieve the desired result.

B. Once You Slowly Become an Intermediate User

You've played around with Part Design and realized almost all basic parts and components can be easily designed with this, but slowly when trying to assemble things, it becomes a lot trickier the more the number of parts you have. That's when the Part Workbench comes to the rescue. A few tools here are:
  • An incredibly powerful set of Boolean options that let you combine various parts to for a fused solids, or subtract one solid from another to modify that elusive curved surface Part Design didn't allow you to create a sketch on.
  • Extruding, filleting, chamfers and the works. All here.
  • A quick "smart dimension" like option to measure your work, although you might still have to use the Draft>Dimensions tool to satisfy your stern pedagogical professors.



A Few Final Parting Words

  • Earlier versions of FreeCAD were a little buggy, with it shutting down sometimes randomly while performing an operation, opening a sketch or pressing the Delete button. So it's a good idea to follow the practice of saving your work constantly, at each step.
  • If you're having a hard time modifying a part, or making strange projections, analyze the method you are using, because iffy methods are bound to throw errors later on. In this aspect, FreeCAD is brilliant, it makes you think about the optimal method to easily design a part. No shoddy work there.
  • Companies are dying for people who can design elegant parts. So without spending the $3995 premium on a copy of pro SolidWorks (or some such figure, just quoting a chap) if you can do the same work, you're going to be an obvious choice for any company.
  • Once you've begun, join the GrabCAD community and share your work proudly for all to see! (Please do remember to export it as a STEP file so others can download and use it.


Hope you enjoyed the article. Any suggestions, appreciation, comments, hate remarks (hopefully none) do jot them down below.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Top 10 Free Essential Software for Windows

Contrary to what most people believe, a good amount of free software is available out there which can do most of your work. The first thing anyone would do after buying a swanking new PC, or installing a fresh copy of Windows, is install whatever essential software is needed to make the system usable. Of course a significant amount of work can be avoided if you're using Linux, but not everyone is quite so comfortable with it. So let's take a look at the top 10 essential software for Windows which you can get without breaking your bank.

Avast! Free Antivirus

 



What every Windows computer needs is an antivirus software. Avast! provides you with a solid interface, and very good virus detection rates. Definition updates are frequent (and automatic) enough to catch most viruses before they infect your PC. It also has a pretty good "Web Scanner" which can protect you from browser based attacks rather efficiently.  A lot of branded PCs these days ship with a rudimentary anti-virus software, or with a trial version of one. For most casual users, a high end internet security suite is not quite necessary. In fact quite a few anti-virus applications which ask you to pay for their services, don't actually provide any substantial protection (eg. NetProtector AV). That being said, please avoid using NetProtector if it came with your computer. It is known to have one of the worst detection rates, and very poor stability.

Website Link: Avast! Free Antivirus

7-Zip

 



Windows provides a compression and extraction tool for zip files, but the functions are absolutely basic. If you want a more comprehensive set of tools, then 7-zip is one of the best tools out there. It supports a wide variety of formats including some which you probably haven't even heard of. The compression offered by their 7zip format is probably the best you can get today. The interface is simple enough for most people to use. It also offers extraction and compression options when you right-click on a file or folder. Support for encryption and self-extracting capabilities are just icing on the cake.

Website Link: 7-zip Website 

Foxit Reader

 



Most of us simply install Adobe Reader for opening PDF files. But, there are quite a few alternatives out there which are faster, lighter, and have about the same features as Adobe Reader. Foxit will give you all the standard features you're accustomed to find in Adobe Reader. There are a few paid extensions available within the program for added functionality, but most people wouldn't really need those. Other than the fact that it opens up much faster than Adobe, it's also about half the size. Although some have claimed that certain documents open better in Adobe Reader, I haven't yet faced any issues with Foxit.

Website Link:  Foxit Software Website 

Mozilla Firefox

 



Nobody likes Internet Explorer these days. In fact, Microsoft has dropped it in Windows 10. Although most people would prefer to use Google Chrome, Firefox stands out because of its excellent support for add-ons and extensions. Google Chrome may have apps, but Firefox has better privacy features. You can be sure that your browsing habits aren't being tracked by evil corporations bent on taking advantage of your innocence. Unlike Chrome, Firefox is open-source. Of course Firefox, and Chrome are good browsers, but I would lean towards Firefox for ethical reasons.

Website Link: Mozilla Website  

VLC Media Player

 



VLC doesn't need much of an introduction. It's widely used for playing all sorts of media files. Other than being simple, fast and powerful, VLC is supported across all major platforms. You can download it on Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix and even Android. At just 28MB, this is one solid media player that can play almost anything you throw at it. Be it some obscure video format from the internet, or just a rudimentary DVD, VLC will play it.

Website Link:  VLC Website

CDBurnerXP

 



Most of us would automatically turn towards Nero or Roxio to burn our CDs and DVDs. These are the most commonly bundled tools out there for disc burning. CDBurnerXP is a lightweight, yet fairly powerful tool for your disc burning needs. I have previously written a full review on it, which you can read here.

Website Link:  CDBurnerXP Website 


LibreOffice

 



Most of us use Microsoft Office because it either came with our computer, or we bought it (I am not considering pirates here). If you don't think you want to pay for Microsoft's suite, you can use the free and open-source LibreOffice. LibreOffice comes with a slew of apps including a word processor, spreadsheets, slide presentation, database tools, and even a tool to generate math formulas. It may not looks as fancy as Microsoft Office, but it overcomes that with the kind of functionality offered. All Microsoft document formats are natively supported. For the kind of features it offers, it's rather surprising that a software like this can be given away for free. If you still don't believe me, give it a try and see for yourself.

Website Link: LibreOffice Website

CCleaner

 



Ever so often our computer slows down to a crawl and our drive space seems to disappear of its own accord. This usually means that your PC is beginning to accumulate a large amount of junk files over time. Cleaning all this manually is a tedious process, hence we have CCleaner (stands for Crap Cleaner) to the rescue. CCleaner can effectively clean out all the unnecessary junk you have lying around on your PC. Not just that, it can even clean out your registry, help you find duplicate files, and even weed out unnecessary system restore points. If you've been using your computer for years, CCleaner should help you regain quite a few gigabytes of space, and perhaps even speed up your computer.


MusicBee

 



MusicBee is a music manager and player. It has a multitude of features and has a fully customizable interface. If you've used iTunes or Winamp before, MusicBee should be quite familiar. It plays most audio files out of the box and has great playlist management features. Radio and podcast support is also present. Of course Windows Media Player does offer a simple yet robust music management interface, certain advanced features are sorely lacking. You can read the full review of MusicBee here.

Website Link: MusicBee Website

qBittorrent

 



The most popular torrent client used today is uTorrent. It used to be an open-source application which was later taken over by Bittorrent, Inc. Ever since that day, it comes with way too many advertisements which eat into the interface. Not to mention being extremely annoying to see the moment you try to get something done. If you download torrents a lot qBittorrent is a far better alternative to uTorrent. It offers a very similar interface which you can customize to your liking. Label support is handled far better, and I found the overall download speeds to be much better than uTorrent. It may be larger than uTorrent, but it contains no ads, and gives you much better features. It's also available on Mac, Linux, OS/2, and FreeBSD, besides Windows. Since it's open-source,you can rest assured that it doesn't contain any malware or embedded snooping tools to track your usage. Please note that I do not endorse the use of torrents for downloading illegal content from the internet.

Website Link: qBittorrent Website

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Elementary OS 0.3 (Freya) Review: Lightweight Linux With a Mac Interface



Elementary OS is a fairly new operating system developed using Ubuntu as a base. "Freya" is the latest entrant released just yesterday, sporting a more refined user-interface, thousands of bug fixes, and very well optimized OS for the average user. Elementary OS was first released on 31st March, 2011 aiming to provide a simple, and fast interface for new users. If you're looking for a lightweight operating system for your PC which serves you well for basic day-to-day activities, then Elementary OS has everything you need. Unlike Linux Mint 17.1 which was reviewed previously, Elementary OS has been designed keeping in mind the very basic needs of the average PC user. If all you use your PC for is browsing the internet, checking your email, watching videos, and listening to music, Elementary OS is the perfect operating system for you.


System Requirements:

Elementary OS has fairly modest system requirements making it a good option for netbooks and older PCs. If your PC has started showing it's age, then this OS is something you could try out.
  • 1Ghz Processor (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 15GB of Hard Drive space
  • Internet access (Not required, but recommended)
With requirements like that, you could probably even run it on decade old hardware without running into any major bumps.



Interface: 

The first time you boot into Elementary, you'll be greeted with an interface that looks rather similar to a Mac. A transparent top panel gives you quick access to sound, wireless toggles, and system power. In addition, it also includes a drop-down to display all apps that have been installed on the system. The apps can either be arranged categorically, or in a simple paged grid.



A simple dock at the bottom of the screen holds the most frequently used apps. It is possible to dock apps by simply dragging them onto it from the application panel, or by right-clicking on an open app's dock icon and clicking "Keep in dock".



Clicking on the "Multitasking View" icon on the dock (or pressing Windows + S) shows you all open windows arranged neatly on screen. You can click on a particular window to switch to it, or you can drag and drop a windows to the grey "+" icon at the bottom to create a new workspace. Workspaces work pretty much like Android homescreens. You can have multiple workspaces which contain different windows. It's something like tabbed browsing on your desktop. Linux users would be familiar with the concept.



Elementary OS also supports customizable keyboard shortcuts, so you can change them to whatever you feel is convenient. Overall, the interface is clean, and snappy. The visual effects are pleasing with fluid transitions between various activities on screen.


Applications:

Like it's name suggests, Elementary OS sticks to the basic applications required by average users. It also contains a Software Center where you can download any apps you might need. You'll find an app for almost everything you can think of in the Software Center, including paid apps. The apps bundled with Elementary OS are as follows.

  • Video: Audience Player
  • Music: Noise Player
  • Browser: Midori
  • Text Editor: Scratch
  • Photos: Shotwell
  • Misc: PDF Reader, Webcam tool, Scanner tool, Screenshot tool

Noise Player provides a clean and simple interface to manage your music. It automatically imports all music found in the Music folder in your Home directory. You can manually add directories to scan for files to be added to the library. Most formats are supported by the player. If there are any files it cannot play, it will automatically prompt you to allow it to download the appropriate codec to play the files. There are very little efforts on the user's part as far as hunting and downloading codecs are concerned.



Midori is a simple, lightweight browser which uses the same engine used in Google Chrome. The interface is clean providing the bare necessities of web browsing. Hardware acceleration for web content is supported, along with a basic support for browser extensions. It also supports private browsing and address bar searching.



For everything else that is so well made, the video player is quite a disappointment. Audience player randomly refused to play certain files I attempted to play without asking me to download any codecs. It threw up an error stating "URI not set". Now this is clearly not something an end-user wants to see. It did ask me to download a codec for a certain video file I tried playing, but even then, I couldn't hear any sound. Support for external subtitles is present, but you need to manually point it to the subtitle file in order for it to work. You can't simply keep a subtitle file of the same name alongside the video file and expect it to work. I had to download VLC player from the Software Center to get my videos working properly. VLC, as usual, gave no trouble.

Shotwell is the default picture manager in Elementary OS. Just like the rest of the applications bundled with it, shotwell provides basic editing tools for minor touch ups and editing. It's nowhere close to GIMP, but it's good enough for very basic picture editing. It also does a pretty decent job of organizing your pictures, allowing you to manage large volumes of photographs pretty easily.



What's missing from this package is an Office suite. But, that can easily be solved by downloading LibreOffice or OpenOffice from the Software Center.


Performance:

Unlike Ubuntu, or Linux Mint, Elementary OS has been built to be fast, simple, and lightweight. As far as that is concerned, it delivers with flying colors. The OS boots up very quickly, and is generally snappy throughout. Apps open instantly with multi-tasking handled near flawlessly. Of course depending on your system configuration, your experience may vary. But, from what I can tell, it shouldn't make all that much of a difference as long as your system fulfills the system requirements.

The system remains stable most of the times, but I did have the interface lock up on me twice. Logging out and logging back in seemed to solve the problem. On one occasion, the interface refused to load on boot up. It didn't happen again when I rebooted the system, but it's not something an end-user should have to deal with. Some users have mentioned the cursor behaving erratically on certain laptops. I didn't seem to have any problems as far as my laptop was concerned.

Overall, the performance is pretty solid, and the operating system is fairly stable. It may have occasional hiccups, but they aren't bad enough to make your system unusable. Hopefully, most of these bugs would be patched with periodic updates.


Conclusion:

Although it doesn't provide the extensive features and robust performance of something like Linux Mint or Ubuntu, Elementary OS gives you all the basic functionality you would expect from your computer without consuming much of your system's resources. If the only reason you use your PC for is internet, email, music and videos, Elementary OS gives you everything you'd ever need. Being considerably lightweight, you could even install it on an old system and breathe some new life into it. It may not be great for advanced, intensive tasks, but it works brilliantly for the every day user.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Clementine Music Player








As music players go, Clementine comes nothing short of perfect. It plays music just fine. But that wouldn't be all, else there wouldn't be a blog about it. It does so in style, and as open source free software, that is quite something.



General Information:

  • Distribution Type: Open-Source
  • Developed By: David Sansome, John Maguire and Arnaud Bienner
  • Reviewed Version: 1.2
  • Available for: Windows, Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora), Mac OS X.
  • Download Size: 21MB (Windows), 5MB (Ubuntu), 5MB (Fedora), 8MB (Debian), 27MB (Mac)
  • Clementine Official Website 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

MusicBee: Music Manager and Player



The best music managing, or playing software is quite difficult to choose. Of course, we've all used iTunes, Windows Media Player, and Winamp. But, there are quite a lot of applications out there which do a better job. The one we'll be talking about here is MusicBee.

General Information:

  • Distribution Type: Freeware 
  • Developed by: Steven Mayall
  • Reviewed Version: 2.5.5404 (18th October, 2014)
  • Available for: Windows XP onwards
  • Download Size:  15MB
  • MusicBee Official Website 


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Top 5 Free Multiplayer Games for Ubuntu/Linux Mint

Switching to Linux can be quite a problem for gamers. The number of games natively supported by Linux are nowhere near the sheer volume of games supported on Windows. Of course, there's always Wine, or PlayOnLinux to get Windows software to run; but nothing beats the experience of a game running in its native environment. That being said, Linux users do have some great games to choose from for a weekend with friends. The best part is, you don't really need to pay to play. So, save yourself some cash, and enjoy your weekend for free.

Xonotic

 



Available for: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X.
Link: Download Xonotic

This is the ultimate upgrade to Quake III Arena. Xonotic has been inspired from Quake III Arena and follows a rather similar style of gameplay. It originated as a fork of the game Nexuiz, when it was faced with some controversies regarding its development. The game features standard multiplayer game modes including deathmatch, capture the flag, team deathmatch, etc. What sets this game apart is its beautiful graphics and advanced weapons. Most weapons feature alternate firing modes and generally have a unique strategic advantage in certain situations. Support for bots is built-in for all you lonely folk. This game will certainly appeal to fans of the FPS genre, and more so to Quake III Arena fans.

Dota 2

 



Available for: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X
Link: Download Dota 2 (Steam)

Dota 2 is one of the most widely played multiplayer RTS games in the world. The level of complexity involved in the game is baffling, allowing almost infinite different kinds of gameplay strategies. Most gamers out there would be well aware of how Dota 2 works, and probably have sunk precious hours of their lives in mastering the nuances of this game. There isn't much I can write here which hasn't already been written elsewhere. Just grab your free copy, and start playing.

Although this game is free to play, it requires a Steam account, and also offers optional paid downloadable content. Steam is freely available on Linux, Windows, as well as Mac OS X.

Team Fortress 2

 



Available for: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X

Team Fortress 2 is another gem by Valve Software (the team behind Counter Strike, Dota 2, Half-Life, and Portal). It follows the team deathmatch pattern with a twist. Instead of dumping rudimentary player characters into teams, it allows every player to pick one out of nine character classes. Each character class has it's own unique special abilities and weapons. These characters need to strategically co-ordinate with each other in order to win the game. You can think of it as a more advanced version of Counter Strike if you please.

This game also requires a Steam account, but is free to download and play.

No More Room in Hell

 


Available for: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X

Fans of Dawn of the Dead would probably remember this quote from the film. This game is a tribute to Dawn of the Dead and features co-operative multiplayer. The premise of the game is rather simple: team up with your buddies and shoot some zombies. What sets this game apart from most other zombie shooters, is its attention to detail. Voice communication is relative to your distance from your team-mates. You won't be able to hear them if they are too far away. If you are bitten, you can either tell your team mates to put an end to your (and their) misery, or you can stay quiet about it in hopes of finding a cure before you turn. Ammo and weapons are rather scarce, and you don't get a crosshair. Your best bet is to aim down your sights, and blow their brains out.

Unlike Team Fortress 2, and Dota 2, this game features no paid downloadable content. It's completely free to download and play.  

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

 



Available for: Linux, Windows, Mac OS
Link: Download Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

If war games are more up your alley, then this one is for you. The game presents two factions to choose from, and up to 32 players in an all out war. Objectives are set for one faction to complete, while the other faction prevents them from doing it. There are 5 character classes to choose from, each having unique abilities. It may not have the production values of America's Army, but it offers a pretty good team based war experience. On field co-ordination is mandatory to win the game, and it's also possible to turn on your teammates. Kill a fellow soldier, and it may get you booted if he so wishes. The only significant drawbacks of the game are the scarcity of maps and some minor glitches. The glitches are minor enough to work around, and maps can be downloaded when you're bored of the six maps bundled with the game. That is more than one can expect from a free game; especially when it's developed by the likes of id Software, and published by Activision Blizzard.

If you are expecting Battlefield, then maybe Wolfenstein isn't for you. But, if you are looking for a solid, free, war based multiplayer game, then just download your copy, and give it a go.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Linux Mint Editions (Flavors) Explained


So you've decided to switch to Linux Mint 17.1, and have headed over to the website to download your copy. Before you go about downloading your copy of Linux, you need to understand the various different editions available on the page. The download page can be intimidating for a user who isn't familiar with Linux environments.

Note: Although this guide was written for Linux Mint 17.1, it is applicable to all versions of Linux Mint.

Linux environments are simply user interfaces which you will be interacting with when using your PC. If you are familiar with Android, imagine a Samsung phone against say a Sony or HTC phone. They all use similar versions of Android but have a different interface and feel to them. This is exactly what these different editions of Linux Mint are. The basic system remains the same; what changes is your way of interacting with it. 

There are 4 major editions of Linux Mint 17.1:
  1. Cinnamon
  2. Mate
  3. KDE
  4. Xfce
All are available in two versions:
  1. 32-bit
  2. 64-bit
We'll take a look at all these editions, and which edition should you choose for your system.

32-bit or 64-bit? 

Before we go talk about the various different editions available on the page, let's clear out some basics first. Deciding between 32-bit or 64-bit can be difficult for all PC users. Linux as well as Windows offer both options. Unfortunately, there is no rule which can determine which version works best for you. So, to make the decision process easier, here are some simple guidelines you can follow.
  • Does your processor support 64-bit instructions? 
    • If you're using a Pentium D (not Pentium 4 or lower), or anything later than that, your processor supports 64-bit. Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad/Extreme, Intel Core i3/i5/i7 all support 64-bit.
    • Amongst AMD processors, if you are using an AMD Athlon 64, or anything later, your processor supports 64-bit. If you are using any AMD processor released after 2007, it most definitely supports 64-bit.
    • If your processor does not support 64-bit instructions, you CANNOT install a 64-bit operating system on your PC. Once we have this out of the way, we can move on to the next point.
  • How much RAM does your system have?
    • Rule of thumb is, if you have 4GB or more RAM, you should opt for a 64-bit operating system.
    • Although 64-bit systems run fine with just 2GB of RAM, your system won't exactly be able to take advantage of the features of 64-bit instructions. 64-bit systems aren't necessarily faster than 32-bit systems, but they manage large resources more efficiently.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon comes in 3 versions:
  1. Cinnamon
  2. Cinnamon No codecs
  3. Cinnamon OEM
Cinnamon is the default, recommended edition of Linux Mint 17.1. Most users can safely download the 64-bit version of Cinnamon and use it without any problems. It features a customisable desktop which behaves quite like Windows. Plenty of visual effects are provided, which can be tweaked to your liking.

Cinnamon No codecs: This version is only if you wish to commercially distribute Linux Mint 17.1 along with a magazine, software bundles, etc. Support for multimedia is added to Linux via codecs, which may violate copyrights if distributed commercially. To avoid any copyright infringement, this version does not contain the codecs by default, but offers you the option to download them during installation.

Cinnamon OEM: This edition is for PC builders and distributors, who wish to allow end-users to customise settings like username, password, language, location on first use. This edition also allows manufacturers to install custom software on the PC before it is sent to the end-user.

If you're in doubt, select Cinnamon.
 

Mate

Mate also comes in 3 variations:
  1. Mate
  2. Mate No codecs
  3. Mate OEM
The versions of Mate follow the same pattern as Cinnamon described above.
Mate is the more lightweight edition of Linux Mint 17.1. It uses an older desktop environment known as Gnome 2. If you don't know what that means, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that Mate edition is generally lighter on your system and consumes fewer resources. If at all you feel that Cinnamon is too sluggish on your computer, or you own an older computer, you could use Mate.

When it comes down to actual usage, there aren't too many major differences between Mate and Cinnamon. You might find fewer visual effects and a more dated interface. But that doesn't stop it from being intuitive and highly usable. It's about as customisable as Cinnamon.

KDE

KDE is another popular Linux desktop environment which is used in various other Linux operating systems. Those who have used a KDE based operating system before, should feel right at home here. The first thing you notice about a KDE environment is the abundance of pretty visual effects. The interface is beautiful, functional, and really worth showing off. All this comes at a price though. KDE is also the most resource hungry environment you'll find for Linux.

If you have a powerful system and want something worth showing off, you'll enjoy using KDE. You'll find a lot of apps specifically designed to work well within a KDE environment. You could try KDE if you want to flaunt your rig. Otherwise, Cinnamon is a lighter option.

Xfce

This is the lightest environment of the lot. It looks and feels a bit more like Windows XP. It's simple, efficient and gets your work done while consuming the least amount of resources amongst all the other editions of Linux Mint 17.1. It's quite simple to use, and uses minimal visual effects to keep your system running smooth and fast.

If you have a fairly old system, or you're using a low power laptop/netbook, then Xfce is the best option for you. It may not have the pretty effects offered by Cinnamon or KDE, but it's just as functional and usable as either of them. You should be able to use it comfortably with as little as 1GB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive.

Conclusion:

Which edition to choose, and which one would be best suited to you is a matter of personal taste. Albeit, Cinnamon is the most recommended of the lot. It provides everything you will need for a solid Linux experience. If you need something lightweight, you could try Mate or Xfce.