The Natty Narwhal now nears!

Posted in Computers, Linux, Ubuntu on April 10th, 2011 by Andy

The next version of Ubuntu is coming soon
The unicorn of the seas approacheth! Ubuntu’s 14th version of their free operating system for PCs is due out 28th April.

Named after the somewhat improbable Narwhal, this release sees the rollout of the new Unity interface, which is a major overhaul of the traditional Gnome look that Ubuntu has been wearing since it was first released back in 2004.

Unity is a completely new interface, written from scratch over the last few months at a breakneck pace. It’s probably going to have more bugs in it than it really should, but if you don’t like it the standard Gnome desktop is still installed, just log out and switch to “Gnome classic” at the login screen.

Apart from Unity, there’s the usual grab-bag of updated packages, and a few other changes:

  • The default music player is now Banshee
  • Libre Office has replaced Open Office (it’s pretty much exactly the same)
  • Firefox 4.0

Loads more info here:

Jump in and help squash the last few bugs if you’re game, otherwise grab the final version when it’s released later this month.


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Creative Zen MP3 vs Ubuntu

Posted in Gadgets, Howto, Ubuntu on January 9th, 2009 by Andy
The Zen, showing the sexy red default theme

The Zen, showing the sexy red default theme

I recently got my mitts on one of Creative’s excellent Zen MP3 players. The short story:

  • 16GB of storage. Up to 24GB if you want to bung an SD card into it.
  • Clear and bright 2.5″ screen, easily good enough for watching video.
  • It’s tiny. Smaller than a credit card and <1cm thick.
  • FM radio, photo galleries, calendar, EQ.

Like most electronic gizmos it comes with a CD chock full of Windows software. But who wants to boot into Windows just to use their MP3? Let’s look at some Linux alternatives (all of which are in the Ubuntu repos)

Music & Video transfer

The Zen uses the MTP protocol to transfer stuff. That’s a proprietary Microsoft thing, but luckily Banshee can jive with MTP.  The other music players like Rythmbox will do the same. If you’ve got Banshee to pull down the album art that’ll get transferred as well.

Video Encoding

As I mentioned, this player has an excellent little screen, but if you want to play video on it, you’ll have to re-encode it to the right format and size. Cue Arista Transcoder.  It has presets for the Zen that make getting your encoding settings as simple as one button.  Plus it’s fast!

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