TechAirlines » Linux Journey Into A World of Tech Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:24:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2 Months with Ubuntu Netbook Unity – My Thoughts Sun, 26 Dec 2010 06:07:52 +0000 Ubuntu UnityRemember our first looks at Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat? One of the primary new features was available only in the netbook remix, and this was the new Unity interface.

When it was first released, I was very excited to try the new interface out. Over the past two months or so, my netbook running Ubuntu has become my primary mobile computer which I use when I’m not at home. So after two months of using the Unity interface, here are my thoughts about the new experience.

The Unity Launcher

Let’s start with the first thing everyone will notice about the new interface.

The Unity Launcher is the vertical panel that sits on the side of the screen. It provides easy access to your favorite applications. Its very similar to the dock in Mac OS X and the taskbar of Windows 7 in the way that it also functions as the taskbar. You can pin your favorite applications to the launcher.

Unfortunately, despite how little screen estate a netbook has, the launcher cannot be hidden. It always stays there unless you make an application run full screen.

The Workspaces, files and folders, applications, and trash icons appear to be locked onto the launcher and cannot be removed.

I’m a big fan of eye candy so a feature I absolutely love is the Mac-Exposé like effect. Double clicking on an icon in the launcher will show all open windows for that particular application with a nice sliding and fading effect.

Firefox Expose

The Exposé effect with 6 Firefox windows

I found that launching an application from the launcher often is a bit slow. Right clicking on each icon to show the menu (which usually only has an option to “Keep in Launcher”) also lags a bit. I’m not sure if this is due to the standard poor performance of netbooks but this interface was supposed to be designed with netbooks in mind.

Moving icons around was a bit difficult too. Instead of just dragging the icon, I had to drag it to the right off the panel and then to where I wanted it to be. Simply dragging up moves the entire set of icons.

The Unity Dash

The Unity Dash is the sleek new file manager and application browser. It opens upon clicking the Ubuntu icon at the top left corner, the files and folders icon, or the applications icon.

Upon trying to open this interface, there’s almost always a few seconds of lag while it loads. Finally it loads the interface of it with the appropriate app/file icons fading and sliding in.

Unity Dash

Unity Dash, on the All Applications listing.

All applications are indexed allowing instant search-as-you-type, which works quite well.

Something I found rather annoying about the Dash interface is that you can’t right click on files. In order to rename certain files, I had to click on the tiny folder icon on the top right corner to open the standard file manager. I didn’t actually find out about this until now when I just noticed that icon there.

In addition, it would be nice to be able to pin something to the launcher without actually having the launch the application. Again, this is also caused by the inability to right click.

Clicking the Ubuntu icon on the top left corner opens an interface with 8 category selections. Most of these open up the appropriate sections on the Application listings, however the Web button opens up the default browser. I’m not sure if this is normal behavior but it certainly was unexpected.

Ubuntu Dash Home

Ubuntu Dash

Overall, while I found the Unity interface to be pretty, finding the files I want and opening the apps I want seems to be harder with Unity compared to the original netbook interface as well as the desktop version. In addition, there are very noticable performance issues. It can definitely take a while to get used to. Hopefully, these will be improving in Ubuntu 11.04 coming in 4 months.

Fortunately, for those who dislike Unity, you can easily choose to login to an Ubuntu Desktop session or the classic Ubuntu Netbook edition from the menu at the bottom of the login screen after choosing your username.

So what are your thoughts about the Unity interface? Love it? Hate it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat” is Now Released! Sun, 10 Oct 2010 18:49:20 +0000 UbuntuToday is 10/10/10 and the “perfect 10″ Ubuntu 10.10 is now released!

We previously covered the beta version of “Maverick Meerkat” and there aren’t many large changes that occurred since the beta besides regular bug fixes.

New features include a new simplified installer, Shotwell as the default photo manager (instead of F-Stop), Ubuntu One streaming music, a new Unity interface for netbooks, better music control, and a user friendly software center.

Ubuntu Update Manager

To upgrade, simply download the newest version from the Ubuntu website or upgrade through the Update Manager. As always, Ubuntu is free of charge.

Are you planning to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.10? What are your thoughts of the new features? Share with us in the comments.

Download Ubuntu

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Disable IPv6 on Ubuntu to Speed Up Browsing Sun, 03 Oct 2010 05:35:47 +0000 DNS LookupAre you a user of Ubuntu or variant of it? When you’re browsing the web, do websites seem to load incredibly slowly? Looking that the status bar of your browser, does it constantly say that its looking up a certain website?

This process is called DNS lookup. Whenever you visit a website, your computer needs to perform a DNS lookup on every domain and domain hosts (subdomains) that the site uses. On most websites, this could be dozens as many websites.,, and are different hosts, therefore three different DNS lookups.

DNS lookups translate the website URL to an IP address, which would direct your computer to connect to a certain server.

Normally, DNS lookups don’t take more than half a second and the extra load time can’t be noticable.

But if you’re on Ubuntu, you may notice that your browser looks up each domain for a long time, such as 30 seconds each.

What’s the Problem?

By default, Ubuntu has a setting to use IPv6 turned on. Many routers, such as my own, do not support the IPv6 protocol and for most people, its not needed. But since the setting is turned on, Ubuntu will try to use it anyway and attempt to use it when looking up websites.

Unfortunately, if your router doesn’t support it, this process doesn’t work and Ubuntu finally falls back to IPv4, which is when the DNS lookup is successful, or sometimes the site just won’t load.

But when it begins the next lookup, IPv6 is still enabled, so this starts again. The result? A horribly slow connection to websites.

The fix? Disable IPv6 of course!

The Easy Fix (Firefox Only)

Firefox IPv6If you only run Firefox, then you can just use the easy fix instead of editing system files.

Visit about:config in Firefox.

In the Filter box, type in the following string:


Double click on the result or right click on it and toggle it to True. Restart your browser and enjoy the faster speed!

The System-Wide Fix

If you use another browser or application that does not provide access to all the settings like Firefox does, you would have to change the setting system-wide.

First, check if IPv6 is enabled by running the following command. If the output is 0, it means its enabled. If it’s 1, then its disabled already.

cat /proc/sys/net/ipv6/conf/all/disable_ipv6

You need to add the following lines to the file at /etc/sysctl.conf:

net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1
net.ipv6.conf.lo.disable_ipv6 = 1

Alternatively, you can just open up a terminal, elevate it with sudo, and run the following commands:

echo "#disable ipv6" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv6.conf.lo.disable_ipv6 = 1" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf

Restart your computer and then run the first command to check if its disabled. The output should be a 1.

Check IPv6

If the output of the command is 1, it means IPv6 is disabled.

For Firefox, you will still need to toggle the value explained in the above section.

Are you using Ubuntu and suffering from slow DNS lookups? Does this tutorial help solve your problem? Have another method? Share with us in the comments!

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First Look at Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Beta Sat, 04 Sep 2010 22:54:32 +0000 UbuntuThe Canonical Team has recently announced the release of the first public beta of the next version of their popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat”. Scheduled for final release on October 10, this is a first look at what’s new in Maverick Meerkat Beta 1.


The usual menu asking the user to Install Ubuntu, Test Ubuntu using Live CD, or boot directly from hard drive no longer appears. Instead, it will open the installation window asking whether the user wants to install Ubuntu or try Ubuntu (Live CD).

Ubuntu Install Welcome

Welcome to Ubuntu Install!

Unlike previous versions, Maverick Meerkat will warn the user that they are installing an unstable beta release.

The installer has been significantly simplified and also offers to install a third-party plugin to support MP3 playback.

Ubuntu Install MP3

Ubuntu offers to install an MP3 plugin

Unlike previous versions, the installation starts while you’re setting up personal preferences like Time Zone and user account. The installation took me around 10 minutes to complete.

Shotwell Photo Manager

In Maverick Meerkat, Shotwell replaces F-Spot as the default photo manager. Shotwell has an option to import photos from F-Spot.


Shotwell replaces F-Spot as the default photo manager

Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center received a new look and feel along with the “Featured” and “What’s New” application showcases.

Ubuntu Software Center

Ubuntu Software Center got an updated look along with a "Featured" and "What's New" Showcase.

In addition, users can easily access their installation history from the software center.

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One received a refreshed sign up and sign in process as well as tighter integration with Ubuntu SSO (single sign-on).

There’s also a new notification in the file manager allowing users to manage their sync preferences.

Ubuntu One Sync

This shows at the top of the file manager if a folder is not set to sync

Sound Indicator

The volume control (sound indicator) now has music control options.

Sound Indicator

Sound Indicator now has music controls

New Netbook User Interface

The netbook edition received a major UI update. It now uses the new Unity interface by default, which includes a global menu bar.

Regular Software Updates

GNOME has been updated to 2.31, which introduces support for the new dconf configuration storage system.

As always, the other applications receive updates to their latest respective versions.

The new Gwibber client from Lucid Lynx receives an update to support Twitter oAuth Authentication as standard authentication no longer works.

Overall Appearance

The default theme looks very similar to Lucid Lynx except menu items (when selected or hovered over) and selected buttons are a brighter shade of orange.

Want to give Maverick Meerkat a try for yourself? It’s a free download with a quick and easy install process. Please share what you think of the beta in the comments.

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Beta

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Firefox 4 Beta 1 Peeks Into the Future Wed, 07 Jul 2010 02:56:02 +0000 The non-profit Mozilla has just released the first beta of the next generation of Firefox earlier today. Firefox 4.0 Beta 1 features a brand new user interface, support for multiple new future web technologies including enhanced HTML support, WebSockets, and a more aggressive update schedule. This marks Mozilla’s first release of their plan for the future of the world’s second most popular browser.

Firefox 4.0

Firefox 4.0 introduces a new UI as well as a line of new features and improvements

Unless you are someone like me who’s been playing around with nightly builds and/or the Strata40 theme, the new theme will take a while to get used to. Tabs are on top in the Windows version, a feature started by Google Chrome, then adapted by Safari 4 beta builds (but removed in the final) and Opera. Mozilla had also followed Opera’s lead by compacting the classic menu bar into a single Firefox button in the top left corner.

Firefox Button

The new Firefox button saves space by compacting the classic menu bar into a single button. The classic menu button can still be toggled through the Customize menu or temporarily shown by using the Alt key.

Top tabs will come to Mac and Linux versions when their default themes are updated to support this.

The add-ons interface has received a major overhaul, but according to Mozilla, it will change in the final version, so don’t get too used to it. The final version will integrate the JetPack SDK, which will allow add-ons to be installed without restarting the browser.

Firefox 4 Addons

The new overhauled Firefox add-ons manager. Mozilla says that the interface is not final.

Of course, Firefox 4 packs in much more than just the obvious visual appearance changes. There are hundreds of under the hood changes, including a new HTML5 parser and support for more HTML5 form controls. Firefox now also natively supports the HTML5 WebM HD video format, therefore allowing Firefox to use YouTube’s new HTML5 on some WebM enabled videos.

YouTube WebM

This YouTube video ('Parisian Love') is played on Firefox 4.0 Beta 1 without utilizing Flash at all thanks to the new support for WebM.

Other features include improved APIs for WebSockets and HTML history. There is also partial support for CSS transitions.

Windows 7 jumplist support is also included in this release.

Firefox Jump List

Firefox 4.0 includes support for Windows 7 Jump Lists.

Firefox DownloadingFirefox 4.0 also includes a Windows 7 taskbar icon download progress bar overlay, similar to Opera and Internet Explorer.

Firefox 4.0 Beta 1 scores 97/100 on the Acid3 Web Standards test. Almost there Mozilla!

Firefox 4 Acid3

Firefox 4.0 Beta 1's Acid3 test result

As promised, the Out-of-Process Plugin feature is now available to Mac users.

In security so far, Firefox 4 introduces a small but useful change. CSS “.visited” selectors now prevent web sites from checking a user’s browsing history.

Mozilla says to expect updates every two weeks. As part of the beta, an add-on named ‘Feedback’ is installed and adds a Feedback button onto the toolbar which Mozilla uses to conduct optional feedback surveys about the new browser to help development.

Firefox 4 Feedback

The first feedback survey message

Want to try Firefox 4.0 Beta for yourself? Please note that this is a beta release and features are subject to change and may not work properly.

Firefox 4.0 Beta
Firefox 4.0 Beta 1 Release Notes
Firefox 4.0 Beta Features

What do you think of this first public beta of the next generation of Firefox? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Unlock Ubuntu’s Full Potential with Ubuntu Tweak Mon, 10 May 2010 03:30:59 +0000 Ubuntu TweakAre you new to Ubuntu? Can’t find all the features and settings you need? Having trouble with the command line Terminal?

While Ubuntu can be considered one of the most newbie friendly Linux distributions out there, there are still some settings and features that many may have difficulty finding. A free application known as Ubuntu Tweak is here to help.

The quickest way to get Ubuntu Tweak is to download the small 1 MB .deb file from the official website and install the package. Ubuntu Tweak can be found after installing in the System Tools menu under Applications.

Version Reviewed:
Operating System: Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx

Ubuntu Tweak has a relatively simple interface organized into many different sections.


First up is the Application Center, which is similar to Ubuntu’s built in software center, however also provides a list of popular applications such as VLC Media Player and Dropbox, as well as other applications that don’t come installed with Ubuntu by default but is recommended to unleash the full potential of multimedia and web browsing. Through their online website, users can add additional applications to sync with Ubuntu Tweak.

Application Center

Application Center

Next up is the Package Cleaner. Ever downloaded a package, installed it, and completely forgot about it? Eventually, a good portion of your hard drive is used up by package downloads that you will probably never need again. Why keep them on your computer? Package Cleaner can easily clean the package download cache, in addition to redundant packages, configuration information, and kernels.

This section requires users to click the ‘Unlock’ button to authenticate Ubuntu Tweak to modify your system.

Package Cleaner

Package Cleaner

Next up is the Source Center. Software sources ensure that software installed on Ubuntu is always kept up to date. The source center lets you view all of your sources (or repositories) and enable and disable them. Many sources are already included with Ubuntu Tweak that are not included with the default Ubuntu installation. Similar to the Application Center, users can add new sources through the Ubuntu Tweak website.

Source Center

Source Center

Next up is the Software Sources, which lets you edit your sources.list file, allowing changes to be made to where the system gets software sources.

Sources Editor

Sources Editor

Next in the line of tools is the Update Manager, which is essentially the same as Ubuntu’s built in Update Manager.

Update Manager

Update Manager


First up in this section is the Auto Start Programs Manager. Have too many programs opening at startup causing boot time to slow down? Do you even need these programs that start up? This utility can help. It’s essentially the same as Ubuntu’s built in Startup Manager.

Auto Start Programs

Auto Start Programs

The next utility is Login Settings. This provides different options than Ubuntu’s built in settings, including the ability to change the logo and the background shown during login.

Login Settings

Login Settings

Don’t like Ubuntu’s default file manager, window manager, or panel? No problem! With Session Control, you can easily change this. Session Control also has a few other options, such as suppressing the shutdown dialog.

Session Control

Session Control


Just when you thought the special eye candy in Ubuntu’s ‘Extra’ effects setting were already high enough, Ubuntu  Tweak’s Compiz Settings can add even more, including workspace corner effects/actions, widgets, transparent menus, and more. It also gives an option to install the Screenlets Widget Application. All changes take place immediately.

I found the Workspace Edge Settings to be very useful as I can now easily display all my windows just by moving the mouse, similar to the Exposé effect on Mac OS X.

Compiz Settings

Compiz Settings

Next in line is Desktop Icons, allowing the user to add or change the regular desktop icons, such as Computer and the Home directory.

Desktop Icon Settings

Desktop Icon Settings

Next up is GNOME Settings, providing options to change the GNOME settings for panels, menus, and other desktop elements such as displaying warnings. There is also an option to change the Ubuntu icon (next to the Applications menu by default) for those of you who got bored at the default one.

GNOME Settings

GNOME Settings

Window Manager Settings lets users change settings related to the desktop windows, such as the placement of the title bar buttons and what double clicking on the title bar does. I’m sure many will find the window titlebar button layout settings useful in Lucid Lynx where the default theme moves it to the left. This could take some time getting used to and I often find myself moving to the right only to find that there’s no buttons there.

Window Manager Settings

Window Manager Settings


If you don’t like the default location of all the personal folders, like Documents and Pictures, you’re free to move them although the default folder links still point to the original location. Default Folder Locations lets you change that. I’m glad to see that there is a ‘Restore’ button in case the locations get messed up.

Default Folder Locations

Default Folder Locations

The Script Manager lets you add scripts to the context menu to perform certain commands such as Copy To, Move to Desktop, Check md5 sum, and more.

Scripts Manager

Scripts Manager

The Templates Manager lets you edit document templates, which can be created from the right click context menu.

Templates Manager

Templates Manager

Next in this line of tools is Shortcut Commands. Users can add up to 12 commands and assign it to any shortcut key they want.

Shortcut Commands

Shortcut Commands


Users of laptops or netbooks would find the Advanced Power Manager Settings to be very useful. Set the LCD brightness levels for battery and AC Power and choose when to lock the screen.

Advanced Power Manager Settings

Advanced Power Manager Settings

Computer Details lets you view useful information about your system.

Computer Details

Computer Details

File Type Manager lets you configure what program would open each file type by default. The file types are separated into various categories such as Audio and Images.

File Type Manager

File Type Manager

Next up in System comes Nautilus Settings, which sets various options for the file manager, such as adding extensions like opening a folder in the terminal as well as an easy option to delete thumbnail cache.

Nautilus Settings

Nautilus Settings

And last but not least comes Security Related settings, which sets various options for system security.

Security Related Settings

Security Related Settings


Pros: Organized easy to use interface and the numerous customization options that any Ubuntu user, both beginner and advanced would find useful.

Cons: Additional instructions for some functions might be useful.

Verdict: Ubuntu Tweak is an excellent tool for customizing Ubuntu and while many features are built in to Ubuntu and do not require third party software, having everything in one place is very useful and saves the time that many might spend looking for individual options. It’s also a great way to help newbies take their first steps into the Linux operating system as there is no need to deal with the terminal.

Ratings for Ubuntu Tweak

Performance: 4.8
Features: 5
Ease of Use: 5
Value for Money: 5
Appearance: 4.5

Overall Rating: 4.9

Want to try Ubuntu Tweak for yourself? Download it from the official websie or through the command sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak.

Ubuntu Tweak – Let’s Rock with Ubuntu

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First Look At Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx Fri, 30 Apr 2010 05:24:48 +0000 Lucid Lynx LogoThe next major release of Ubuntu is now available. Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx” packs in a ton of new features in this new long term support (LTS) release.

So what does Lucid Lynx have in store for us? The best new features include noticeably faster boot up (thanks to the removal of HAL), a nifty social media manager, a great new music store, as well as new default applications. Of course, there are numerous under the hood changes including updating to the latest GNOME environment and Linux kernel.

A clean installation of Lucid Lynx only took me about 10 minutes.

Lucid Lynx Installing

Lucid Lynx Installing Progress

Boot Time

Faster start up has been promised in this release and this release is significantly faster at starting up taking only a few seconds. This is especially thanks to the removal of hardware abstraction layer (HAL) during the boot process.

New Default Theme

The first thing you’re notice even during installation is that Ubuntu is no longer brown. Instead, it sports a black-pink color scheme. In addition, the default theme has close, minimize, and maximize buttons on the left side of the window rather than the right, similar to a Mac.

Lucid Lynx Theme

The new black-violet default theme along with new placement of close, minimize, and maximize buttons. This will definitely take some time getting used to.

Of course, if you don’t like the new theme, you can always customize it in Appearance Preferences.

Social Network Applications and the New “Me” Menu

Do you actively engage in social networks such as Twitter and Facebook? If so, the new Gwibber client built into Lucid Lynx might be useful. What’s Gwibber? It’s a streamlined all-in-one social networking client including desktop notifications of messages and all of your messages in one easy to use interface and a global status updater.


Say hello to an integrated social networking client

Remember Ubuntu 9.10 ditching Pidgin in favor of Empathy as the default chat client. It looks like this move was to prepare for the all new “Me” menu. Lucid Lynx is social right from the start.

What is this “Me” menu? It allows you to set your social/chat status right from the desktop by clicking your username in the corner menu. It integrates with both Empathy and Gwibber.

Lucid Lynx Me Menu

The new "Me" menu integrating Empathy for Chat Accounts and Gwibber for Broadcast Accounts as well as access to Ubuntu One.

Ubuntu One Syncing and Music Store

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One is an Ubuntu exclusive file syncing service offering a free 2 GB of could syncing storage. It didn’t offer much when it was first introduced with Karmic Koala, but with Lucid Lynx, it offers something special. That’s right. A DRM-Free music store integrated directly into the default music player.

Ubuntu One Music Store

The new Ubuntu One Music Store

Whenever you buy music from the store, the files are automatically synced into your Ubuntu One account, ready to be added to any other computer. Lucid Lynx also introduces contact syncing within your Ubuntu One account.

Simpler, Lighter Default Apps

Ubuntu used to ship with GIMP as the default graphics editor, which is a powerful free alternative to Photoshop, however contains lots of features most users would probably never use, and XSane, which was a option rich scanner application.

In their place is an insanely simple application, Simple Scan.

Lucid Lynx Simple Scan

Simple Scan - A very simple scanner application replacing both XSane and GIMP.

Of course, should you ever want GIMP, the Ubuntu Software Center has what you need. The default built in F-Spot Photo Manager also has many image editing options.

PiTiVi Video Editor

Lucid Lynx includes for the first time, a video editor by default. PiTiVi Video Editor is a very simple to use eidtor involving mostly just dragging and dropping clips onto a timeline.

Lucid Lynx PiTiVi

Lucid Lynx PiTiVi Video Editor involves mostly dragging and dropping.

It doesn’t support a large variety of media clip formats and seems to only output as Ogg Theora. It does however support many Ogg Theora quality levels.

Lucid Lynx Video Quality Levels

PiTiVi has many output quality level options

Lucid Lynx also includes numerous changes to the operating system backend as usual therefore providing better performance and stability.

This is a long term support release and therefore Lucid Lynx will be in active support for at least 2 years.

Ready to upgrade? You can either download a new ISO image from the Ubuntu website (I recommend the Bittorrent version if the servers are overloaded) or update through the Update Manager.

Ubuntu Update

You can upgrade to 10.04 LTS through the Update Manager.

This has been a first look at whats new with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx and of course, does not include all the changes in the new version.

Have you tried Lucid Lynx yet? What do you think of it so far? Love it? Hate it? Don’t care? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS [Ubuntu]

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Say Hello to Opera 10.50 – The King of Speed Tue, 16 Feb 2010 16:20:28 +0000 Last Thursday, Opera released a public beta of the next major release of the Opera browser, and declared it as the fastest browser on earth.

Opera 10.50 introduces many new features including a simpler interface getting rid of the menu bar, like other browsers are doing, private browsing mode, Windows 7 integration features such as Jump Lists and Tab Taskbar Thumbnails (with Aero Peek), and of course, a Javascript engine that is supposed to be 8 times faster than Opera 10.10.

Opera 10.50

Opera 10.50 Beta features new Windows 7 integration features

Jump List options include Speed Dial pages and a link to open a new tab and new private tab.

Opera Jump List

Opera 10.50 supports Windows 7 Jump Lists

The main menu bar has been compressed into the Opera button on the corner.

Opera Menu Button

Opera Menu Button and Private Browsing Options

Unlike other browsers, Opera introduces both Private Tab and Private Window.

Opera Private

Opera Private Browsing Notice

Opera also supports the audio and video HTML 5 tags. Similar to Firefox 3.5, it supports Ogg Vorbis open standards.

But how fast does it compare? Is it really the fastest browser on earth? Let’s test it with the Sunspider Javascript test.

Sunspider Benchmark 5 Browsers

Sunspider Benchmark Results for Opera, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Lower is better.

As you can see from the results, Opera 10.50 scored the best on the benchmark. I ran the test multiple times, and Opera was always the fastest of them all. Let’s remove the slower 3 and see a chart comparing just Opera and Chrome.

Sunspider Benchmark Opera vs Chrome

Opera 10.50 vs Chrome 5.0 (both in beta). Lower is better.

Google Chrome currently has the title for being the fastest browser on earth. But has Opera come to steal that title away? After all, the current beta of Opera is tested to be faster than the current beta of Chrome.

Opera 10.50 is the next major release from Opera and is currently in beta. It’s filled with new features and a very impressive Javascript engine.

Want to give Opera 10.50 a try for yourself? Please keep in mind that this is beta software and there may be bugs, though the Windows version was surprisingly stable during my testing.

Opera 10.50 Beta

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The Instant Messaging and Social World (First Class Flyer) Sat, 30 Jan 2010 04:20:41 +0000 Instant Messaging ShorthandMost of us probably own at least one instant messaging account and a good majority of users own two or more. Combine that with social networking and email,  the number of services can be overwhelming. Luckily thanks to multi-protocol instant messenger clients, users can say good bye to clients that can only connect to one service. These clients can often connect to email services and social networking as well.

First Class Flyer is a weekly series published every Friday comparing two or more free software products of the same category. This week, we’re taking a look at several multi-protocol instant messenger clients, Trillian, Digsby, Pidgin, and Miranda IM.

About This First Class Flyer Issue

There are many multi-protocol clients out there, however the most popular ones would be Trillian, Digsby, Pidgin, and Miranda IM. Trillian and Digsby data is fully stored online on their secure servers while Pidgin and Miranda IM data are stored locally.

Trillian is not fully free, and therefore for anything that is a Pro only feature, its score in that category is 2.5 points lower than it would originally be.

In addition, because of the numerous features of each client, comparing each one is unreasonable. Features included in this First Class Flyer are standard features and some features they share.

With this many contenders, scoring is a bit different in some categories.

Download Size

The size of the installer should be as small as possible. Even in today’s world, there are still users with suffering network connections including dial-up.

Trillian: 15.3 MB
Digsby: 17.8 MB
Pidgin: 13.5 MB
Miranda: 1.65 MB

Miranda takes the crown here for having a very small download compared to the other 3. Because of the wide variations in this round, the scoring will be a bit different. First place gets 4 and last gets 1.

Trillian: 2
Digsby: 1
Miranda: 4

Number of Available IM Protocols

It’s called multi-protocol, but how ‘multi’ is it? The most popular IM protocols are AIM, Yahoo!, Windows Live, and Google Talk.

This category applies to built in IM protocols only without any plugins. Note that Google Talk, Jabber, and XMPP are basically the same thing and are counted as one as well as AIM and ICQ.

Trillian supports the following (items 6-9 are on the Windows client only):

  1. AIM/ICQ
  2. Yahoo!
  3. Windows Live/MSN
  4. MySpace IM
  5. Jabber/XMPP/Google Talk
  6. Facebook Chat
  7. Skype
  8. IRC
  9. Bonjour

Digsby supports the following:

  1. AIM/ICQ
  2. Yahoo!
  3. Windows Live/MSN
  4. Jabber/XMPP/Google Talk
  5. Facebook Chat
  6. Myspace IM

Pidgin Supports the following:

  1. AIM/ICQ
  2. Bonjour
  3. Gadu-Gadu
  4. Jabber/XMPP/Google Talk
  5. Groupwise
  6. IRC
  7. Windows Live/MSN
  8. MySpaceIM
  9. QQ
  10. SILC
  11. SIMPLE
  12. Sametime
  13. Yahoo!
  14. Zephyr

Miranda supports the following:

  1. AIM/ICQ
  2. Gadu-Gadu
  3. Jabber/XMPP/Google Talk
  4. IRC
  5. Yahoo!
  6. Windows Live/MSN

To calculate the score in this round, we take the total number of unique protocols each client supports and divide it by two.

Trillian: 4.5 (6.5 total)
Digsby: 3 (4 total)
Pidgin: 7 (10 total)
Miranda: 3 (7 total)

User Profiles

Trillian Astra (4.0) stores account data online with an Astra account. Multiple Astra accounts can be saved locally for easier login. Users can also register for an Astra account right from Trillian.

Trillian Login

Trillian Login Window

Digsby also stores data online with a Digsby account, however only 1 account can have the login details saved on the system.

Digsby Login

Digsby Login Window

Pidgin does not feature profiles by default. Each computer has one set of instant messenger accounts.

Miranda IM includes a feature known as Profiles where you can store accounts. Each system can have multiple profiles. Profiles are useful if multiple people use the computer and each user has their own set of accounts. To create additional user profiles, press Ctrl when clicking the Miranda icon to start up. Multiple profiles can run at once by simply running another instance of Miranda.

Miranda Profiles

Miranda Profile Manager

Trillian: 4 (10.5 total)
Digsby: 3 (7 total)
Pidgin: 1 (11 total)
Miranda: 5 (12 total)

Buddy List Appearance

With so many accounts being bunched up into one buddy list, how well does each client organize everything? And how pleasing does the default interface look?

Trillian provides a sleek buddy list with alpha transparency. The buddy list is organized into 3 groups: Web (Social Networks), Email, and Contacts. The Contacts group is further grouped into the regular IM account groups. Organization for IM is standard however Twitter and Facebook could use a bit more organization.


Digsby’s interface uses a Windows 7 like skin by default and features a status box on the top, followed by contacts, easy buttons to sign in and out of accounts, and finally email accounts and social networking accounts on the bottom all in an organized easy to use interface.


Pidgin uses a clean and simple interface with the status bar on the bottom.


Miranda has an incredibly simple interface display nothing but names. The user status can be changed by clicking on the status icon on the bottom or the status menu.


Trillian: 5 (15.5 total)
Digsby: 4 (11 total)
Pidgin: 4 (15 total)
Miranda: 2 (14 total)

Conversation Window Features and Appearance

This is where the actual talking happens. So you’ll probably want it to be easy to use with a pleasing interface also.

Trillian windows share the theme and color of the buddy list. There are 3 conversation styles: Simple, which is just a line of messages (similar to Google Talk Gmail), Playscript, which is similar to Simple except names have an arrow background, and Bubbles, which has bubbles coming out of avatars with the message. Configurable Web Clips are shown on the top, similar to Gmail Web Clips.

Trillian Window

Trillian Conversation Window using the Bubble style and the Halloween theme

Digsby features a separate skin for conversation window (more on skins below). Within this window, users can view Info, chat, and even send a quick email to the other user. Conversation styles are based on the skin.

Digsby Window

Pidgin windows are plain with no additional features.

Pidgin Window

Miranda windows are even simpler. Unlike the other two, Miranda does not feature chat tabs unfortunately.

Miranda IM

Trillian: 5 (20.5 total)
Digsby: 5 (16 total)
Pidgin: 3 (18 total)
Miranda: 2 (16 total)

Chat Logs and History

Ever want to look back at an old conversation. Thanks to chat logs, you can. All 4 clients feature chat logs and a log viewer.

Pro Only: Trillian features a very detailed log viewer complete with an activity chart and calendar as well as a detailed Advanced Search. With the Free version, Trillian does not have a log viewer and opens logs in the program set to open text files (like Notepad)

Trillian Log Viewer

Digsby features a detailed log viewer with a calendar similar to Trillian’s and a basic search bar. Logs are stored in HTML format.

Digsby Log Viewer

Pidgin features a basic log viewer with dates in a tree format and a basic search box. Logs are stored in HTML format.

Pidgin Log Viewer

Miranda features a very simple log viewer that logs every single action, which I found a bit ridiculous.

Miranda Log Viewer

Trillian has the best log viewer of all but unfortunately, it’s a Pro only feature.

Trillian: 2.5 [after 2.5 Pro feature penalty] (23 total)
Digsby: 4.5 (20.5 total)
Pidgin: 3.5 (21.5 total)
Miranda: 2 (18 total)


Plugins extend functionality of programs and can do anything a developer thinks of and plugin API can handle including the ability to connect to more IM services.

Formerly a Pro only feature, Trillian offers a wide selection of plugins at the official website from news readers to spell checkers. Plugins can be installed with one click and a client restart.

Digsby does not support plugins at all. It only supports additional smileys and sounds can be changed.

Pidgin is open source and has a large collection of third party plugins such as Facebook Chat. Installation varies from plugin to plugin but mostly involves moving a file into the Pidgin plugins directory. Pidgin also comes with numerous official plugins such as chat window opacity.

Miranda is also open source and has a very large collection of addons from the official gallery. Installation usually involves moving a file into the Miranda addons directory.

Trillian: 5 (28 total)
Digsby: 1.5 (22 total)
Pidgin: 5 (26.5 total)
Miranda: 5 (23 total)


Themes can change how the application looks and can range from a very clean and simple one to a wacky complex one.

Trillian supports both skins and skin variations (Pro). By default, Trillian has two skins, Cobalt (clean and simple) and Cordonata. Additional skins can be downloaded online. At the time of writing, there doesn’t seem to be any skins for Trillian Astra. Users can also customize the emoticons and sounds of the theme (if available). While skins are a free feature, skin variations are Pro only.

Digsby comes with 3 skins (and many variations) and numerous conversation themes as well as many emoticon packs. Additional skins can be downloaded from the unofficial user created site, Digsbies. Conversation themes are Adium themes therefore users can download conversation themes from the Adium Theme Site. To install a theme, copy the folder into the respective folder in the Digsby directory.

Pidgin’s theme can be altered slightly through the Gtk+ Theme Selector, though they’re technically not themes nor skins.

Miranda supports skins from the online gallery. There are hundreds available however skins require a certain add-on to work. Learn more on the download page. The “Recommended Add-ons” are needed to use skins.

Trillian: 3 (31 total)
Digsby: 4 (26 total)
Pidgin: 1.5 (28 total)
Miranda: 4 (27 total)

You Know What Time It Is… Bonus Points!

Email Services

Having email notifications is quite handy.

Digsby provides not only email notifications but you can perform actions to the email (Spam, Delete, Archive, etc…) and even compose an email within the chat window (it leaves a Digsby ad as a signature).

Digsby Email

Trillian provides email notifications but without any special actions like Digsby has.

Trillian Email

Pidgin also provides email notifications, however, it only works if there is exactly 1 new email.

Pidgin Email

Trillian: +2 bonus points (33 total)
+4 bonus points (30 total)
Pidgin: +0.5 bonus points (27.5 total)

Social Networking

Trillian supports Facebook and Twitter. Digsby supports Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and LinkedIn with special features for Facebook and Twitter.

Trillian Twitter

Digsby’s Twitter client uses a unique approach placing newer tweets on the bottom and having everything in a conversation like format.

Digsby Twitter

Digsby lets you Comment and Like items in the Facebook newsfeed. In the upcoming release, users can also unofficially dislike items with data stored on Digsby servers.Digsby Comment

Trillian: +3 bonus points (36 total)
Digsby: +4 bonus points (34 total)

Junkware Alert!

Many software bundle junkware with their installation causing the download size to go up and the useless product(s), usually toolbars are usually opt-out, meaning the box to install is checked by default.

Trillian offers Ask Toolbar as an opt-out during installation.

Digsby offers Digsby Toolbar (a branded version of Ask Toolbar)as well as a research module in addition to two search plugins, all of which are opt-out.

Trillian: -1 bonus points (35 total)
Digsby: -5 bonus points (29 total)

That’s right, negative bonus points. Bonus isn’t always good.

Password Security

Pidgin stores passwords in cleartext. Anyone with access to the physical computer can see them clearly. They explain encryption gives users a false sense a security since that file can be copied to another system and used, but when its in cleartext, that’s even less secure.

Pidgin: -1 bonus point (27 total)

Website Widgets

Want to add something to your website like a status widget or chat widget? Digsby provides a live chat widget where website visitors (and Facebook profile viewers) can start a live chat session with you. Trillian provides Trillian Mini with customizable information like mood and status.

Digsby Widget

Digsby Live Chat Widget on Facebook Profile

Trillian: +1 bonus point (36 total)
Digsby: +1 bonus point (30 total)


Digsby and Miranda are Windows only (Mac/Linux in development for Digsby). Pidgin supports Windows, Mac, and Linux while Trillian supports Windows and iPhone currently (Mac coming soon) and there’s a web version (like Meebo) for Pro users.

Trillian: +1 bonus points (37 total)
Pidgin: +2 bonus points (29 total)

Let’s tally up all the points.

Trillian: 37
Digsby: 30
Pidgin: 29
Miranda: 27

And the Winner Is…


With a score of 37 (compared to 30, 29, and 27), Trillian takes the crown for being the best instant messenger client and this First Class Flyer edition.

Do you use multiple chat networks? Which client do you prefer to use? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Supports Windows, Mac (alpha testing), and iPhone

Supports Windows

Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux

Miranda IM
Supports Windows

Be sure to join us next Friday for the next edition of First Class Flyer!

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How to Truly Browse Without Leaving a Trace Sun, 24 Jan 2010 04:58:32 +0000 Firefox Private
Do you want to browse the web without a trace? Easy! Just use your browser’s Private Browsing Mode! Wrong!

So “private” mode isn’t really “private”? Well, in a way, no, it’s not. Even in Private Mode, you’re still leaving traces behind.

Isn’t Clearing the Browser ‘Private Data’ Enough?

Opera Clear DataModern browsers contain a feature known as ‘Clear Private Data’, which will delete all history, cookies, and cache or does it? While it does delete your browser history, cookies, and cache, there are still DNS Cache entries and the far worse, flash cookies, sitting around on your system.

When you browser in Private Browsing Mode, the browser might not be saving history or cookies after the session closes, but your system is still holding onto the DNS Cache and Flash Player still holds the flash cookies.

DNS Cache Entires

Whenever you visit a website URL, your browser looks up the IP Address of that URL and then connects you to that IP Address. To speed up the process, these entries, known as Domain Name System (DNS), are cached for future reference so if you ever visit that same URL again, looking up the site is not necessary. Unfortunately, this can actually serve as a web history of sites you visited.

DNS Display CMDIf you’re interested in viewing your DNS cache, use the following command on Windows: ipconfig /displaydns. There might be more entries than the command prompt can hold in one view. Want proof that private browsing still caches your websites here? Open up a new private browsing window and visit a site that you normally don’t visit. There’s a good chance that the new website will end up on the DNS cache list.

DNS Flush WindowsTo clean the DNS Cache, run the command:

Windows: ipconfig /flushdns
Mac OS X Leopard or later: dscacheutil -flushcache
Mac OS X 10.5.1 or earlier: lookupd -flushcache
GNU-Linux: sudo /etc/init.d/nscd

Additional details on flushing DNS cache can be found here.

Get Rid of the Flash Cookies

Flash CookiesHere’s the big one. That’s right. Flash. Flash Cookies are stored in these locations:

Windows: %AppData%\Macromedia\Flash Player\#SharedObjects and %AppData%\Macromedia\Flash Player\\support\flashplayer\sys\
Mac OS X Websites: ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player
Mac OS X Adobe AIR Apps: ~/Library/Preferences/[package name (ID) of your AIR app]
GNU-Linux: ~/.macromedia

You can have some fun viewing all the flash cookies that were stored. When you’re done, you can delete any or all of them. Alternatively, users can visit the Adobe Flash Player Settings manager to delete cookies.

CCleaner for Windows

A useful and free utility known as CCleaner can handle all the cleaning for you, including DNS Cache Entries and Flash Cookies. Be sure to select ‘DNS Cache’ (under System) and ‘Adobe Flash Player’ (under Multimedia).

Additional Notes

In addition, keep in mind that sites like Google collect data of search results you visit. Most sites also contain server logs. If you’re not leaving a trace on your own computer, you probably left a trace on a server that you have no control over.

Of course, if there happens to be a security camera near you or someone is just peering over your shoulder, then well, your browsing session isn’t very private regardless of how you clean up afterward.

So next time you try to visit a website without anyone knowing, think twice before simply using Private Browsing.

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