Category Archives: Linux Stuff

Linux Stuff

Install MATE 1.12.1 In Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Or 16.04 Via PPA

The Ubuntu 15.10 and 16.04 MATE PPAs were updated recently with the latest MATE 1.12.1.

MATE 1.12.1 Ubuntu Wily

According to Martin Wimpress, Project Lead for Ubuntu MATE, the PPAs use the same source packages that he’s done for Debian, which are currently being reviewed by the FTP masters and should land in Debian Unstable in a couple of weeks, so they should be safe to use.

Among the changes in MATE 1.12 (released about a month ago) are various fixes (for example: panel applets are no longer reordered when changing screen resolutions) and improvements for GTK3, including GTK 3.18 support, better touchpad and multi-monitor support and more. Check out THIS article for a complete MATE 1.12 changelog. I couldn’t find a changelog for MATE 1.12.1.
In other Ubuntu MATE news:
  • you you shouldn’t need the Ubuntu Xenial PPA for long because as soon as the MATE 1.12 packages are accepted into Debian Unstable, they should be automatically imported into Ubuntu 16.04.
  • the small MATE Dock applet I wrote about a while back was added to Debian Git recently by Martin Wimpress, and until Ubuntu and Debian reinstate the gir1.2-wnck-1.0 package (which was dropped a while back and is required by this applet), you can install this applet by using the Wily/Xenial Ubuntu MATE PPAs.

Upgrade to MATE 1.12.1 in Ubuntu MATE 15.10 or 16.04

To upgrade to the latest MATE 1.12.1 in Ubuntu 15.10 using the MATE Wily PPA, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/wily-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

For Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, use the following commands to upgrade to the latest MATE 1.12.1:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/xenial-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

For both Wily and Xenial, to install the MATE Dock Applet I mentioned above, use the following command (after upgrading to MATE 1.12.1):
sudo apt-get install mate-dock-applet

How to revert the changes

If for whatever reason you want to downgrade MATE back to the version available in Ubuntu MATE by default, use the following commands:

– for Wily:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/wily-mate

– for Xenial:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/xenial-mate
The first command installs PPA purge and the second command purges the PPA (disables the PPA and downgrades all the packages installed from that PPA).

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Dash Online Search To Be Disabled By Default In Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus)

With Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, the Dash online search feature will be disabled by default.

The online search feature won’t be removed and users will be able to re-enable it via System Settings > Security & Privacy.
This isn’t the only change though. Even after enabling the Dash online search feature, the Amazon and Skimlinks results will remain off by default and there will be an extra option to enable them.
Yet another change is the removal of the following scopes from the default installation (they will still be available for install from the repositories): Audacious, Clementine, GMusicBrowser, Guayadeque and Musique.
And finally, the Music Store will also be removed starting with Ubuntu 16.04.

Why change this? According to Will Cooke, Ubuntu Desktop Manager:

“On Unity 8 the Scopes concept has evolved into something which gives the user finer control over what is searched and provides more targeted results. This functionality cannot be added into Unity 7 and so we’ve taken the decision to gracefully retire some aspects of the Unity 7 online search features”.

He then adds:

“By making these changes now we can better manage our development priorities, servers, network bandwidth etc throughout the LTS period”.

It’s important to mention that the only change that will affect previous Ubuntu releases is the removal of the Music Store, while all the other changes will only affect new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS installations.

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How To Change The Mouse Scroll Wheel Speed In Linux Using imwheel [Quick Tip]

mouse

I’ve never actually needed to modify the mouse scroll wheel speed until recently, when I got a new mouse and I wanted to change the scroll wheel settings. That’s when I noticed there’s no such option in Unity / GNOME Control Center.
I searched for ways to change this under Linux and the easiest to use seems to be “imwheel”, a command line tool that can be used to tweak the mouse wheel behavior and which, among others, can change the scroll speed of the mouse wheel, and I decided to share the information with you.

Here’s what you need to do to change the scroll speed of the mouse wheel if your desktop environment doesn’t have an option for this:

1. Install imwheel. Since the app is available in the official Ubuntu repositories, you can install using Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center, etc. or use the following command to install it:
sudo apt-get install imwheel

2. Next, create a file called “.imwheelrc” in your home directory – I’ll use Gedit in the command below to open this file:
gedit ~/.imwheelrc

And in this file, paste the following:

".*"
None, Up, Button4, 3
None, Down, Button5, 3
Control_L, Up, Control_L|Button4
Control_L, Down, Control_L|Button5
Shift_L, Up, Shift_L|Button4
Shift_L, Down, Shift_L|Button5

“3” at the end of lines two and three represent the number of lines to scroll (“3” should be default)  – modify this number to suit your needs. Once you’re done, save the file.
The first (“.*”) line from the code used above represents is used to specify in which applications to use those settings. “.*” means everywhere, but you can also apply application-specific settings by changing “.*” to the window name (and add multiple application-dependent settings). Run “man imwheel” for more information.

And finally, the last 4 lines in the code above are there to allow Ctrl / Shift with mouse scroll wheel up / down to work (for instance, to allow zooming in on a webpage in the web browser, etc.), which is the default behaviour.

3. Start “imwheel” (type “imwheel” in a terminal). Important note: make sure you don’t run multiple imwheel instances (if you want to stop any previous instances, run the following command: “killall imwheel”)!

Also, if you have back / forward navigation buttons on your mouse, they will stop working using the configuration we’ve used above. In such cases, you should launch imwheel like this:
imwheel -b "4 5"

… and the back / forward buttons should work (thanks to biohazara for the tip!).

4. Since these settings are only applied when imwheel is running, you should add imwheel to startup (if you use Unity, to do this, open Startup Applications, click “Add” and under both “Name” and “Command” fields, add “imwheel”). Also, like I mentioned above, if you have back / forward mouse navigation buttons, use the following command instead of simply running “imwheel” or else those buttons won’t work: imwheel -b “4 5”

It’s important to mention that imwheel applies the settings available in ~/.imwheelrc when the application starts and it doesn’t update when changing the configuration file. So if you modify the configuration file, you’ll need to close imwheel and start it again to apply / test the changes (you can close/kill it using the following command: “killall imwheel”).
Notes:
  • this will most probably not fix issues such as very fast scrolling, if you encounter such an issue, you can try unplugging and then plugging the mouse back (from what I’ve read, that seems to solve the issue in most cases);
  • if you only want to change the scroll wheel speed in Firefox and Chrome, you can do this from within the app or using an extension: Firefox | Chrome, etc.

via AskUbuntu; image via Wikipedia.

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`Take A Break` Helps You To Actually… Take A Break From Your Computer

`Take a Break` is a small application which can be used to (more or less) force users to take a break after a configurable work time, useful if something like a popup reminder is not effective for you.

Take a Break

The application was created based on a question on AskUbuntu, in which an user asked for an application that could force him to take a break. With Take a Break, you can do just that – you can set it to force you to take a break – , or just notify you (a popup that stays on top of other windows but which you can easily close), all depending on the “effect” you choose in the Take a Break settings and of course, if you know how / are willingly to manually bypass those “effects” (like the “screen upside down” option).
Take a Break works like this: you set the work time, break time and the effect. The application will then perform the action (effect) you’ve selected to take a break, after the work time expires.
Among the Take a Break “effects” (actions performed when the break begins) are: dim screen, rotate screen upside down, lock screen or just display a countdown message.

Other Take a Break features include:

  • notifications for start/stop, restart and upcoming break;
  • smart resume: after a break, the application will start counting the time only when the machine is no longer idle (when the user actually starts working again);
  • Unity quicklist which allows you to toggle Take a Break on/off.
  • option to start Take a Break at login.


For the screensaver / lock features, “gnome-screensaver” needs to be installed on your system (it should be automatically installed if you’re using Unity) so make sure you install it if you want to use those features!
I should also note that in my test, the “screen upside down” option didn’t work because, according to xrandr, my laptop’s screen can’t be rotated.
While there are other more or less similar applications out there (like Workrave – which sadly hasn’t been updated since 2013 and seems abandoned), Take a Break is simple, lightweight (you only need the GUI to configure it, there’s another process which uses about 4 MiB of RAM that runs in the background and triggers the breaks) and quite effective I’d say :).

Install Take a Break in Ubuntu

Take a Break can be installed in Ubuntu by using a PPA. To add the PPA and install the application, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vlijm/takeabreak
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install takeabreak

If you don’t want to add the PPA, you can grab the deb from HERE.

Report any bugs you may encounter @ Launchpad.

Thanks to Jacob for the tip!

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GIMP 2.9.2 Released, How About Features Trivia?

In a surge of long overdue updates the GIMP team made the first public release in the 2.9.x series. It’s completely GEGL-based, has 16/32-bit per channel editing and new tools. It’s also surprisingly stable enough even for the faint of heart.

Obligatory disclaimer: I’m currently affiliated with upstream GIMP project. Please keep that in mind when you think you stumbled upon biased opinion and thought you’d call LGW out.

One might expect a detailed review here, which totally makes sense, however writing two similar texts for both upstream GIMP project and LGW would seem unwise. So there: the news post at GIMP.org briefly covers most angles of this release, while this article focuses on features trivia and possible areas of contribution.

The GEGL port and HDR

Originally launched in 2000 by a couple of developers from Rhythm & Hues visual effects studio, the GEGL project didn’t have it easy. It took 7 years to get it to GIMP at all, then another 8 years to power all of GIMP.

So naturally, after years and years (and years) of waiting the very first thing people would be checking in GIMP 2.9.2 is this:

First and foremost, 64-bit is there mostly for show right now, although GIMP will open and export 64-bit FITS files, should you find any.

That said, you can use GIMP 2.9.2 to open a 32-bit float OpenEXR file, adjust color curves, apply filters, then overwrite that OpenEXR file or export it under a different name. Job done.

The same applies to PNG, TIFF, and PSD files: respective plugins have been updated to support 16/32-bit per channel data to make high bit depth support actually useful even for beta testers.

All retouching and color adjustment tools, as well as most, if not all plugins are functional in 16/32-bit modes. There’s also basic loading and exporting of OpenEXR files available (no layers, no fancy features from v2.0).

GIMP also provides several tonemapping operators via the GEGL tool, should you want to go back to low dynamic range imaging.

Mantiuk06 tonemapping operation

There are, however, at least two major features in GEGL that are not yet exposed in GIMP:

  • RGBE (.hdr) loading and exporting;
  • basic HDR merging from exposure stacks.

This is one of the areas where an interested developer could make a useful contribution at a low enough price in the time currency.

In particular, adding a GEGL-based HDR merge tool to GIMP should be easier now thanks to a widget for using multiple inputs to one GEGL operation (which would be exp-combine).

GEGL operations

Currently 57 GIMP plugins are listed as completely ported to become GEGL operations, and 27 more ports are listed as work in progress. That leaves 37 more plugins to port, so the majority of the work appears to be done.

Additionally, GEGL features over 50 original filters, although some of them are currently blacklisted, because they need to be completed. Also, some of the new operations were written to implement certain features in GIMP tools. E.g. the Distance Map operation is used by the Blend tool for the Shape Burst mode, and both matting operations (Global and Levin) are used by the Foreground Select tool to provide mask generation with subpixel precision (think hair and other thin objects).

Various new operations exposed in GIMP, like Exposure (located in the Colors menu) and High Pass (available via the GEGL tool), are quite handy in photography workflows.

Note that if you are used to “Mono” switch in the Channel Mixer dialog, this desaturation method is now available through a dedicated Mono Mixer operation (Colors->Desaturate submenu). It might take some getting used to.

Mono Mixer

It’s also worth mentioning that 41 of both ports and original GEGL operations have OpenCL versions, so they can run on a GPU.

And while immensely popular external G’MIC plugin is not going to become GEGL operation any time soon (most likely, ever), since recently it’s ready to be used in conjunction with GIMP 2.9.x in any precision mode.

There are some technical aspects about GIMP filters and GEGL operations in GIMP 2.9.x that you might want to know as well.

First of all, some plugins have only been ported to use GEGL buffers, while others have become full-blown GEGL operations. In terms of programming time, the former is far cheaper than the latter, so why go the extra mile, when GIMP 2.10 is long overdue, and time could be spent wiser?

Softglow

Porting plugins to use GEGL buffers simply means that a filter can operate on whatever image data you throw it at, be it 8bit integer or 32-bit per color channel floating point. Which is great, because e.g. Photoshop CS2 users who tried 32-bit mode quickly learnt they couldn’t do quite a lot, until at least CS4, released several years later.

The downside of this comparatively cheap approach is that in the future non-destructive GIMP these filters would be sad destructive remnants of the past. They would take bitmap data from a buffer node in the composition tree and overwrite it directly, so you would not be able to tweak their settings at a later time.

So the long-term goal is still to move as much as possible to GEGL. And that comes at a price.

First of all, you would have to rewrite the code in a slightly different manner. Then you would have to take an extra step and write some special UI in GIMP for newly created GEGL op. The reason?

While the GEGL tool skeleton is nice for operations with maybe half a dozen of settings (see the Softglow filter screenshot above), using something like automatically generated UI for e.g. Fractal Explorer would soon get you to lose your cool:

Old vs. new Fractal Explorer

The good news is that writing custom UIs is not particularly difficult, and there are examples to learn from, such as the Diffraction Patterns op:

Diffraction Patterns operation

As you can see, it looks like the former plugin with tabbed UI and it has all the benefits of being a GEGL operation, such as on-canvas preview, named presets, and, of course, being future-proof for non-destructive workflows.

FFmpeg support in GEGL

If you have already read the changelog for the two latest releases of GEGL, chances are that you are slightly puzzled about FFmpeg support. What would GEGL need it for? Well, there’s some history involved.

Øyvind Kolås started working on GEGL ca. 10 years ago by creating its smaller fork called gggl and using it for a video compositor/editor called Bauxite. That’s why GEGL has FFmpeg support in the first place.

Recently Øyvind was sponsored by The Grid to revive ff:load and ff:save operations. These ops drive the development of the iconographer project and add video capabilities to The Grid’s artificial intelligence based automatic website generator.

The FFmpeg-based loading and saving of frames could also come in handy for the GIMP Animation Package project, should it receive much needed revamp. At the very least, they would simplify loading frames from video files into GIMP.

New Tools

The new version has 6 new tools—2 stable, 4 experimental. Here’s some trivia you might want to know.

GIMP is typically referred to as a tool that falls behind Photoshop. Opinions of critics differ: some say it’s like Photoshop v5, others graciously upgrade it all the way to a CS2 equivalent.

If you’ve been following the project for a while, you probably know that, anecdotally, the Liquid Rescale plugin was made available a year ahead of Photoshop CS5 Extended. And you probably know that Resynthesizer made inpainting available in GIMP a decade before Content-Aware Fill made its way to Photoshop CS6:

But there’s more. One of the most interesting new features in GIMP 2.9.2 is the Warp Transform tool written by Michael Muré back in 2011 during Google Summer of Code 2011 program.

It’s the interactive on-canvas version of the venerable iWarp plugin that looked very much like a poor copy of Photoshop’s Liquify filter. Except it was introduced to GIMP in 1997, while Liquify first appeared in Photoshop 6, released in 2000.

Warp Transform reproduces all features of the original plugin, including animation via layers, and adds sorely missing Erase mode that’s designed to selectively retract some of the deformations you added. The mode isn’t yet functioning correctly, so you won’t restore original data to its original pixel crisp state, but there are a few more 2.9.x releases ahead to take care of that.

Unified Transform tool is a great example of how much an interested developer can do, if he/she is persistent.

Originally, merging Rotate, Scale, Shear, and Perspective tools into a single one was roughly scheduled for version 3.6. This would prove to be challenging, what with the Sun having exploded by the time and the Earth being a scorched piece of rock rushing through space, with a bunch of partying water bears on its back.

But Mikael Magnusson decided he’d give it a shot out of curiosity. When the team discovered that he had already done a good chunk of the work, he was invited to participate at Google Summer of Code 2012 program, where he completed this work.

Unfortunately, it’s also an example of how much the GEGL port delayed getting cool new features into the hands of benevolent, if slightly irritated masses.

Internal Search System

Over the years GIMP has amassed so many features that locating them can be a bit overwhelming for new users. One way to deal with this is to review the menu structure, plugin names and their tooltips in the menu etc., maybe cut most bizarre ones and move them into some sort of an ‘extras’ project.

Srihari Sriraman came up with a different solution: he implemented an internal search system. The system, accessible via Help->Search and Run a Command, reads names of menu items and their descriptions and tries to find a match for a keyword that you specified in the search window.

Searching action in GIMP

As you can see, it does find irrelevant messages, because some tooltips provide an overly technical explanation (unsharp mask uses blurring internally to sharpen, and the tooltip says so, hence the match). This could eventually lead to some search optimization of tooltips.

Color Management

The news post at gimp.org casually mentions completely rewritten color management plugin in GIMP. What it actually means is that Michael Natterer postponed the 2.9.2 release in April (originally planned to coincide with Libre Graphics Meeting 2015) and focused on rewriting the code for the next half a year.

The old color management plugin has been completely removed. Instead libgimpcolor, one of GIMP’s internal libraries, got new API for accessing ICC profile data, color space conversions etc.

Since GIMP reads and writes OpenEXR files now, it seems obvious that GIMP should support ACES via OpenColorIO, much like Blender and Krita. This has been only briefly discussed by the team so far, and the agreement is that a patch would be accepted for review. So someone needs to sit down and write the code.

What about CMYK?

Speaking of color, nearly every time there’s a new GIMP release, even if it’s just a minor bugfix update, someone asks, whether CMYK support was added. This topic is now covered in the new FAQ at gimp.org, but there’s one more tiny clarification to make.

Since autumn 2014, GEGL has an experimental (and thus not built by default) operation called Ink Simulator. It’s what one might call a prerequisite for implementing full CMYK support (actually, separation into an arbitrary amount of plates) in GIMP. While the team gives this task a low priority (see the FAQ for explanation), this operation is a good start for someone interested to work on CMYK in GIMP.

Digital Painting

Changes to the native brush engine in GIMP are minor in the 2.9.x series due to Alexia’s maternity leave. Even so, painting tools got Hardness and Force sliders, as well as the optional locking of brush size to zoom.

Somewhat unexpectedly, most other changes in the painting department stem indirectly from the GIMP Painter fork by sigtech. The team evaluated various improvements in the fork and reimplemented them in the upstream GIMP project.

Canvas rotation and flipping

Canvas rotation and horizontal flipping. Featuring artwork by Evelyne Schulz.

Interestingly, while most of those new features might look major to painters, they actually turned out to be a low-hanging fruit in terms of programming efforts. Most bits had already been in place, hence GIMP 2.9.2 features canvas rotation and flipping, as well as an automatically generated palette of recently used colors.

Another new feature is an experimental support for MyPaint Brush engine. This is another idea from the GIMP Painter fork. The implementation is cleaner in programming terms, but is quite incomplete and needs serious work before the new brush tool can be enabled by default.

MyPaint Brush tool

Some Takeaways For Casual Observers and Potential Contributors

As seen in recently released GIMP 2.9.2, the upcoming v2.10 is going to be a massive improvement with highlights such as:

  • high bit depth support (16/32-bit per channel);
  • on-canvas preview for filters;
  • OpenEXR support;
  • better transformation tools;
  • new digital painting features;
  • fully functional color management;
  • improved file formats support.

Much of what could be said about the development pace in the GIMP project has already been extensively covered in a recent editorial.

To reiterate, a lot of anticipated new features are blocked by the lack of GIMP 2.10 (complete GEGL port) and GIMP 3.0 (GTK+3 port) releases. There are not enough human resources to speed it up, and available developers are not crowdfundable due to existing work and family commitments.

However, for interested contributors there are ways to improve both GIMP and GEGL without getting frustrated by the lack of releases featuring their work. Some of them have been outlined above, here are a few more:

  • Create new apps that use GEGL (example: GNOME Photos).
  • Port more GIMP filters to GEGL or create entirely new GEGL operations (both would be almost immediately available to users).
  • Create OpenCL versions of GEGL operations.

All of these contributions will directly or indirectly improve GIMP.

With that—thanks for reading!

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Morevna animation project launches new crowdfunding campaign

Three years after releasing a community-funded teaser, Morevna project returns to crowdfunding with a revamped story line and entirely new visuals.

Morevna project is a Russia-based open animation project that has been driving the development of 2D vector animation package Synfig for the past several years.

The story is loosely based on a Russian fairy-tale that features a kick-ass female protagonist, an evil wizard, crazy horse chases, getting physical over a woman, dismembering and resurrecting the male protagonist, an epic final battle—and it’s all inevitably twisted around a damsel in distress situation. Your average bedtime story for the kiddies, really.

The updated plot is taking place in the future, where robot overlords are just as bad as the wizards of old (with the exception of womanizing, for obvious reasons), and distressed damsels handle samurai swords like nobody’s business. Ouch.

Both Morevna and Synfig have the same project leader, Konstantin Dmitriev. Both projects have benefitted from crowdfunding in the past, especially Synfig. But with a new concept artist and, in fact, a new team, it was time for Morevna to get to the next stage.

Last week, Konstantin launched a new campaign to fund the dubbing of the first episode in the first ever Morevna series. The work would be done by Reanimedia Ltd., a Moscow-based dubbing studio that specializes on anime movies and has a bit of a cult following due to high quality of the localization they provide.

And here’s an unexpected turn of events: the dubbing will be in Russian only. Moreover, the campaign was launched on Planeta.ru that makes it somewhat difficult for non-Russian users to contribute. So LGW had no choice but to interview Konstantin.

(Disclaimer: the interview was originally published a week ago in Russian. This is its shorter version.)

The promotional video left some questions unaswered. Like a very basic one: how many episodes are planned?

So far we are planning 8 episodes.

You are deliberately focusing on the Russian audience instead of a wider international one. Why?

It’s our primary goal to create an anime movie in Russian. It only stands to reason that the campaign would be interesting mostly to the Russian community.

Will there be another campaign to make the series available in English?

No, we are taking an entirely different approach here. We’d have to search for the right team and the right studio, so instead we’ll release a fan dubber kit—basically, original video track and stem-exported audio records of music, sounds effects, and voiceovers, as well as the dialogs’ text in English.

Anyone then would be able to create his/her own dubbing and release localized video. It’s all to be released under terms of Creative Commons license, after all.

Does it bother you at all that the quality of some fan dubs could be subpar? Or is it just the reality that you choose to accept?

It’s really not our responsibility. We’ll just publish the fan dubber kit and see how it goes. We are really curious about how this will turn out.

We could launch some sort of a competition, but it’s something I really hate to do. It’s hard enough to tell someone his/her work wasn’t good enough even when you see the person did his/her best. So we take the Creative Commons remix way.

Planeta.ru which you chose for the crowdfunding platform isn’t even available in English. Is there a way for people to support your project somehow?

Sure, we are on Patreon.

The visuals have considerably changed in comparison to the demo from three years ago. What made the major impact?

When we finished the demo, we realized that our resources depleted. We weren’t happy with the outcome. We spent too much time doing technical things like vectorization and too little time being creative.

The way things were going, we couldn’t possibly succeed completing all of the movie. So we needed a new approach. A way to keep the visuals enjoyable while relying on technology that we could realistically handle.

Another major factor is the arrival of Anastasia Majzhegisheva, our new art director. She’s only 16 years old, but she’s very talented and she gets Japanese animation.

Have there been any other changes in the team?

Nikolai Mamashev, who was one of the major contributors to the demo, is still part of the team, but now he mostly does concept art and he’s extremely busy in commercial projects.

At certain production stages, like colouring, we started getting kids from school involved, to mutual benefit.

How much has your workflow and toolchain changed?

A lot. It’s now more of a cutout animation. We still use elements of frame-based animation, but we don’t do any morphing whatsoever.

It’s a deliberate change we made after releasing the demo three years ago, and we significantly improved Synfig in that respect. The software now has skeletal animation which also greatly simplifies our workflow.

Basic sound support in Synfig is beneficial too, although, frankly, it could have been better.

As for digital painting, it’s Krita all the way now. We barely use anything else.

More than that, we rewrote from scratch Remake, our smart rendering manager. The new project is called RenderChan. It’s far more capable and supports free/libre Afanasy renderfarm.

We still use Blender VSE for video editing, but that’s pretty much it. We have just a few 3D elements in shots.

Production pipeline is still a work in progress though. We hope to be able to switch to Cobra soon—it’s a new rendering engine in Synfig. That means we really, really need to make Cobra usable ASAP.

Have you already succumbed to the international Natron craze? 🙂

Not really, no. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even had a chance to try it. We do all compositing inside Synfig. For now, it’s more than enough.

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Ancient Warfare Game 0 A.D. Alpha 19 `Syllepsis` Released

0 A.D. game

Wildfire Games has released 0 A.D. alpha 19 “Syllepsis” yesterday. This alpha release includes new gameplay features, graphics and user interface changes as well as various under the hood improvements.
0 A.D. is a historical war and economy game that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, which features several ancient civilizations, from Greece and Rome to Carthage and Persia.

The game comes with both singleplayer and multiplayer modes, and while there’s no central server, players can use a lobby to discover other players and set up a game, or they can directly connect to each other using their IP addresses.

0 A.D. alpha 19

Changes in 0 A.D. alpha 19:
  • Gameplay:
    • non-siege units can now capture buildings and siege engines;
    • new victory modes: “Conquest Structures” (destroy or capture all enemy structures to win) and “Conquest Units” (destroy all enemy units to win);
    • ceasefire game mode: the game can be set so that all players are completely unable to attack their enemies for a predetermined time at the start of a game;
    • attack coordination: players can request allies (including bots) to attack a specific enemy by clicking a button next to the player name in the diplomacy window. Also, Petra AI now supports attack coordination;
    • Petra AI now warns its allies when it needs a tribute and lets them know when it advances to a new phase;
    • the Ptolemaic lighthouse now has its special feature implemented: it reveals the shore on the entire map;
    • new skirmish maps: Tuscan Acropolis (for 4 players; map preview), Northern Island (for 2 players; map preview), and Alpine Mountains (for 3 players; map preview);
  • Graphics and UI:
    • increased maximum map height: the engine now supports an eight times greater range of terrain heights, allowing for the creation of maps with more diverse and impressive landscapes;
    • visual replay: re-run a game and understand what took place in real time;
    • aura visualization: units affected by an aura are now marked with an icon when the aura giver is selected;
    • new animals: new mastiff and wolfhound units have been added as well as a new rhinoceros;
    • the Roman units now have voices in Latin;
  • Other changes:
    • new pathfinder: The pathfinder is the component of the game engine that picks a route for a unit to move along from its current location to its target location, so that it does not collide with other units or with structures or with impassable terrain. The new pathfinder improves performance, but at the same time, it also introduces some new bugs;
    • XML validation: In 0 A.D., the behavior of units, buildings and other world objects is defined by their components, such as cost, health and more. All of these are described in XML files. The “grammar” of the XML files is now checked for correctness before being used by the game engine, which helps prevent technical problems;
    • the generic Hellenic and Celtic factions have been removed;
    • SDL2 is now enabled by default on Linux.

Below you’ll find a video which presents some of these changes:


(direct video link)

0 A.D. has low system requirements – on Linux, you’ll need at least 512 MB of RAM, 1 GHz Intel or x86 compatible CPU and any graphics card that supports OpenGL 1.3 with 3D hardware accelerated drivers and at least 128 MB memory, e.g., Radeon 9000, GeForce 3, or similar.
If you can contribute to 0 A.D. (programming, art, sound, documentation and more), see the programmers getting started page and join #0ad-dev on QuakeNet on IRC.

Download 0 A.D.

Download 0 A.D. (Linux, Windows and Mac)

Ubuntu / Linux Mint users can install the latest 0 A.D. by using its official PPA. Add the PPA and install the game using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:wfg/0ad
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install 0ad

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Wirelessly Transfer Photos From Nikon/Sony/Canon Cameras To Your Computer With Airnef

Airnef is a relatively new open source tool which can be used to wirelessly transfer photos and videos from WiFi-equipped Nikon, Sony and Canon cameras to a computer, available for Linux, Windows and Mac.

Airnef

The application should work with all Nikon cameras that have built-in WiFi interfaces as well as external Nikon WiFi adapters WU-1a and WU-1b. Other external WiFi adapters, like WT-4A and WT-5A, may work, but were not tested. 
Canon cameras are also supported and with the latest version, the application got support for Sony cameras as well.
Besides downloading the photos and images you’ve already taken, the application also comes with a real-time download mode, which allows transferring images to your computer as you shoot them, as long as your camera supports this.
For cameras that don’t support real-time WiFi shooting, a staged-real-time feature can be used, which automatically transfers the photos as soon as you turn the WiFi off – a process which can be repeated (turn WiFi off, shoot some photos, then turn the WiFi off to get the photos transferred to your computer) without any user input on the computer.

Airnef feature:

  • one-button click to download all new images and video from the camera, selected on either the camera or computer;
  • fast downloads – Airnef uses optimized Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) parameters for sustained throughput around 2.5 MB/s (in my test under Ubuntu 15.10, the top transfer speed was 1.15 MB/s and I’m not sure why but I’ll look into it);
  • real-time download mode (and staged-real-time download mode – see above for explanations regarding this feature) – images are transferred to your computer as you shoot them;
  • transfer images and videos using an extensive criteria selection such as: file type, start/end capture date, specific folders, card slot and so on;
  • allows choosing the download order (oldest/newest first);
  • renaming engine allows you to customize the names of directories and files for images you download;
  • Airnef will continuously retry any failed communication/transfer, resuming the download exactly where it left off, even in the middle of a file;
  • various minor features such as automatically synchronizing the camera’s time to the system’s time each time airnefcmd is executed, and more.
Airnef comes with a GUI, which you can use to visually select the download folder, which files to transfer and so on, as well as a command line app which can be used in scripts, etc.
Using Airnef is pretty simple but just in case, here’s how to quickly start using it. Firstly, you’ll have to connect the camera to your computer’s WiFi. To do this, enable the WiFi on your camera and on your computer, connect to your camera’s WiFi.
Next, on your computer, launch Airnef and make sure that “Camera IP Address” is set to “192.168.1.1”. At least for Nikon cameras, this should be the default IP address:

Airnef

If you’re in a network where this IP is already assigned (to your router for example), you can either disconnect from the network or change the camera IP – according to Airnef’s website, for Nikon cameras this can be done via a one-time procedure using Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility app (iOS and Android). You can find exact instructions for this on Airnef’s homepage.
Next, click on “Select on Computer”, choose which files to transfer, the download location and so on and click the “Start Download” button:

Airnef

For real-time download, select “only realtime download” (or “normal download then realtime” to firstly download all the images/videos from your camera and then start the real-time feature) option from the dropdown, as you can see in the screenshot below:

Airnef

After you click “Start download”, a terminal window should pop up (if you’ve used the binary download; for the source, this is displayed in the terminal where you ran airnef), displaying the connection and transfer status:

Airnef

To stop the transfer, press ctrl + c in this window.

For a lot more information and advanced usage, see Airnef’s homepage.

Download Airnef

Download Airnef (binaries available for Linux – 64bit only, Windows and Mac as well as source code)

To run it, simply extract the downloaded archive and double click the “airnef” executable.

For Linux 32bit (also works for 64bit obviously, if you prefer using the python source instead of the binary), firstly install python-tk. For Ubuntu, install it using the following command:
sudo apt-get install python-tk

Then download the source code, extract the downloaded archive and in the folder where you’ve extracted it, run the following command to start the application:
python airnef.pyw

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Evernote Linux Client `NixNote` 2 Beta 5 Available For Download

NixNote is an unofficial Evernote client for Linux which was initially called NeverNote. The application was written in Java until NixNote 2, which is a complete rewrite in C++ using the Qt framework, having better performance and a reduced memory footprint as main goals. The application continues to use Java for encrypting and decrypting text, but that’s optional.

Nixnote2 Linux

Evernote is a popular note-taking service that supports saving text, full webpages, voice memos, video notes and more with a lot of useful features. There are official Evernote clients available for Windows, OS X, web (but it lacks many features) and mobile platforms but not for Linux.


Nixnote 2 beta 5, released recently, brings numerous bug fixes as well as various enhancements:
  • added the ability to email notes;
  • searching will now highlight PDF results;
  • added Print Preview & the ability to only print selected text;
  • notes that are marked as shortcuts are now visible in the tray icon;
  • added the option to use notify-send instead of Qt’s popup notification;
  • a colors.txt file can now be added to customize note background color options;
  • various GUI enhancements.

The latest Nixnote 2 beta also brings basic support for the nixnote2-cmd utility however, I should mention that this command line tool is not bundled with the NixNote 2 binaries.

For those not familiar with NixNote 2, here’s a quick list of important Evernote features supported by this app:
  • full synchronization of all notes and attachments;
  • the ability to create, edit and delete notes, tags, notebooks and saved searches;
  • the ability yo search notes and index attachments;
  • allows using the image text recognition features provided by Evernote;
  • supports multiple Evernote accounts.

Also, there are some Evernote features that aren’t available or work differently in NixNote 2, including:
  • slightly different search syntax (NixNote allows any term to be negated, where Evernote does not);
  • no Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn sharing;
  • audio notes are not directly supported (you can’t record audio notes through NixNote but you can use a note recorded with a different app as an attachment);
  • Ink notes can’t be implemented in NixNote because Evernote doesn’t provide an API for it.

Note: To enable syncing with Evernote, from the NixNote 2 menu select Tools > Synchronize and authenticate NixNote 2 with Evernote.

Download NixNote 2 beta

Download NixNote 2 beta 5 (deb, rpm and ebuild packages available)

Arch Linux users can install NixNote 2 via AUR: beta | git

To download the NixNote 2 source, report bugs and so on, see its GitHub page.

For more information on using NixNote 2, see its user manual (PDF).

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Install GIMP 2.8.16 In Ubuntu Or Linux Mint Via PPA

On GIMP’s 20th birthday (Nov 22), a new version of the free and open source image editor was released: 2.8.16. This is a bugfix release from the 2.8 stable series and it includes the following changes:

  • Core:
    • seek much less when writing XCF;
    • don’t seek past the end of the file when writing XCF;
    • Windows: call SetDLLDirectory() for less DLL hell;
    • fix velocity parameter on .GIH brushes;
    • fix brokenness while transforming certain sets of linked layers;
  • GUI:
    • always show image tabs in single window mode;
    • fix switching of dock tabs by DND hovering;
    • don’t make the scroll area for tags too small;
    • fixed a crash in the save dialog;
    • fix issue where ruler updates made things very slow on Windows;
  • Plug-ins:
    • fix several issues in the BMP plug-in;
    • make Gfig work with the new brush size behavior again;
    • fix font export in the PDF plug-in;
    • support layer groups in OpenRaster files;
    • fix loading of PSD files with layer groups.

The GIMP 2.8.16 release announcement also mentions that the devs’ “immediate future plans are to release first public version in the unstable 2.9.x series that will feature fully functional GEGL port, 16/32bit per channel processing, basic OpenEXR support, vastly improved color management implementation, new tools, on-canvas preview for many filters, and more“, this being the first milestone towards GIMP 2.10.
If you want to try the latest unstable GIMP, you can already do so by using a PPA.

Install GIMP 2.8.16 in Ubuntu or Linux Mint

To install the latest stable GIMP in Ubuntu (Precise and newer) / Linux Mint and derivatives, you can use Thorsten Stettin’s PPA. Add the PPA and install GIMP using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gimp
It’s important to mention that besides GIMP, this PPA also includes various GIMP plugins, such as G’MIC, and GIMP PLugin Registry.
For other Linux distributions, Windows and Mac OS X, see the GIMP downloads page.

How to revert the changes

In case you don’t want to use GIMP 2.8.16 any more and you want to downgrade to the version available in the official Ubuntu repositories, you can purge the PPA using “ppa-purge”:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp

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