Posts filed under ‘Linux Stuff’
Are you one of those people who would almost like to switch over to Ubuntu but just couldn’t because you don’t quite like great open source games such as Glest, Sauerbraten and Tremulous? In today’s post, here’s one more reason for you to do so: Now you can play Warcraft III, Frozen Throne, and also Defense of the Ancients, or more commonly known as DOTA! Ok, so that’s 3 reasons…but since DOTA is just a custom map for Frozen Throne maybe 2 and a half…anyway…let’s get started.
It’s now been over 2 weeks since Project Peach’s Big Buck Bunny opened in theaters last May 30, or at least in home theaters. So if you haven’t seen it yet, now would be a good time to head on over to the Big Buck Bunny website and download a copy. If you’re still downloading pirated movies, here’s a breath of fresh air: this short movie is given to you completely free of charge.
Big Buck Bunny is the story of a large, but kind rabbit who is bullied by three naughty rodents. Finally, Big Buck Bunny decides to fight back, and…well you’ll have to see it for yourself. The visuals are breath-taking, from the tall grass blowing in the wind, to the stream reflecting off sunlight, to the cute and cuddly creatures.
If the concept of open movies is new, or strange, to you, you may find it interesting to know that Big Buck Bunny is already the second open movie in the world, following from the success of the first open movie, Elephants Dream.
Two years ago, the Project Orange released the world’s first open movie, and it was titled Elephants Dream. Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny are called open movies because they are made entirely with open source tools, where of course Blender is the star player. Not only that, all the production files, all the 3D assets, everything used in the movie is also available for download, and it’s also included on the DVD.
Computer graphics, or CG, has been used with film since all the way back in the 70’s even before films like Tron came out. Back then, the technology was still at its infancy. As the technology progressed, CG found its way more and more into film, combining live action and animation in films like Batman, Star Trek, The Abyss, etc. and moving on into feature-length movies like Toy Story and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. What most of them have in common is the use of expensive software, such as Maya, for creating the CG (except Pixar; they use in-house technology built on top of Linux).
A lot of you probably don’t know that there is a software out there called Blender proving itself and its abilities to be on par with the big industry giants like 3D Studio Max, Lightwave, Maya, and SoftImage. But unlike its counterparts with 5-digit price tags (in US dollars), Blender is completely free! That’s right. Free to use, free to abuse, free to modify, free as in freedom and free as in beer.
Now there are a lot of people I know who are averse to Linux and the concept of free and open-source software, believing them to be of inferior quality because they’re not backed by large companies with lots of capital. I think that Blender is one of the model FLOSS software that proves this to be simply not the case.
If you haven’t seen the Open Movies yet, now would be a good time to do so. Head on over to the Elephant’s Dream page or the Big Buck Bunny page. You can also see how Plumiferos, another movie in the works, is coming about, as well as a whole lot of movies over at the Blender Movie Gallery. Oh, and of course, tell your friends or give them a copy. Don’t worry, it’s free (and open); Edu Manzano or the MPAA won’t be knockin’ on your door anytime soon.
This is only one of the cool additions to Hardy Heron, the latest version of Ubuntu to come out.
Other new features include Firefox 3 beta, modified in Hardy for stability, better hardware support, upgraded versions of all applications, Transmission BitTorrent client, and a nifty new wallpaper!
You can now also try Ubuntu inside Windows like a regular application. No need to partition, and no harm to your system. Give it a try!
For more details, check out the Ubuntu website.
Update: The new File Operations manager now also offers the “merge” feature when overwriting folders. In Windows, if you choose to overwrite a folder, it will blindly overwrite all of its contents as well. With merge, you will have the option of confirming which files inside the folder will be overwritten. Cool!
I bought a webcam for my laptop for an overseas trip so I can make video calls cheaply, without researching first about the webcam’s compatibility with Linux. It’s an A4Tech Notecam Clip-On. So before any of the fun stuff could happen, I needed to know if it was working or not. After a bit of searching, I stumbled upon Camorama (it’s in the Ubuntu repositories). The good thing is that it worked! No installation, no pop-up dialogs, nothing, just plug it in, and it’s in. It came with a driver CD for Windows; take note, Windows users, my Linux box doesn’t need driver discs.
Camorama can be used to test if your camera is feeding video information to your computer, and also for taking pictures or recording videos. However, for my particular camera, it couldn’t adjust the color correctly. I was worried that the linux driver for my camera had a problem. Well a badly-colored videocam feed is better than no feed at all.
Next up was research. What program do I use with my webcam for video calling? Gaim/Pidgin is a multiple-IM client capable of connecting not only to Y!Messenger, but also to MSN, AIM, GoogleTalk, etc., but couldn’t do video because these companies use private and proprietary protocols with their networks they want to keep private. I wanted to be able to call Yahoo! Messenger clients, so like what I usually do when I’m clueless about something, I hit the Ubuntu Forums and do search (or post a question if search results aren’t fruitful). Sure enough, there was a thread that answered my question. After a conversation with Loell, another UF member, I tried the following applications to see which best suited my needs.
Kopete is a multiple-IM for KDE, though you can still use it in GNOME. It has a nice, clean interface which I think looks better than Gaim. Trying out the webchat feature, I was able to connect to my Y!M buddies. However, while the person on the other end could see my video stream, all I got was a single frame. The first frame of what is supposed to be a video stream (at best, I managed to get another frame a few minutes later). Also, there was no audio with the webchat.
First of all, I would like to state that this is my personal opinion: I really hate Gyachi’s interface. The first screen you see looks like a mess, or at best an old, unsophisticated Win95 program. The buttons are cluttered, and I really can’t make sense of the interface. But I was able to try out the webchat feature, and it worked. But like Kopete, webcam with audio was a no-go. Supposedly, you have to start audio chat aside from your webchat do get around this, but I never was able to make audio chat work either. So either I use Kopete or this for webchat without video. And I’d rather the clean Kopete interface than this. As a small saving grace though, Gyachi notifies you when your buddies sign in as invisible, so there’s no hiding from a person with Gyachi.
Wengo and Ekiga
Taking a different approach, why not just use a softphone for VoIP? Ubuntu has Ekiga by default, and unlike Skype which uses its own proprietary protocol, Ekiga is SIP-protocol compliant. In human terms, Skype can connect to Skype only, while Ekiga can connect to ANY SIP phone. Linux Skype can’t make video calls by the way, so that’s automatically out. So why not Wengo instead of Ekiga? Wengo is more fully featured than Ekiga. Wengo can be installed in Windows, Mac, and Linux, it can make SMS as well as calls to real phones anywhere in the world (I loaded it up with 10euros, which is the minimum. Calls and SMS are really cheap by the way), and it’s also a multi-IM client.
In conclusion, while I never got webcamming with Yahoo!Messenger solved, it was a good learning experience, without which I would have never learned about Wengo, to which I’m casting my vote. It solved the day for webcam with voice, I just have to convince whoever I need to talk to to download the client, but it’s not that hard since Wengo is really a good client, better than Skype. It still has some kinks, which I’m sure will soon be solved by the open source community behind it as more and more people start using it.