Rocking out with Minitunes

Since you’ve upgraded to KDE 4.5 and started to suddenly feel the need for speed, you aren’t quite happy with Amarok 2 or Banshee anymore. “I want something faster, lighter” you think to yourself.

Meet Minitunes, a lightweight Qt-based music application that meets the criteria, and still looks fabulous doing it.

Unfortunate Mac OS X screenshot due to lack of a pretty music library 🙁

Although it is young, Minitunes offers a straightforward listening experience, just don’t expect more complex features like media-device support, last.fm scrobbling, etc, yet. While Flavio Tordini, Minitunes’ author plans to add these kinds of features in the future, for now it’s a simple, yet beautiful, music player.

When you fire up Minitunes, the first thing you do is point it at the folder containing all of your music and off it goes! Minitunes will automagically catalog your music and obtain artist information and cover art via Last.fm. It takes a bit of time, especially if you have a large collection of music, but the process is seamless and very cool.

The interfaces features a no-frills experience that’s tasteful while remaining simple. On the left, you can select an artist, browse through your albums or simply click a choice to get to the music. It’s a simple way to navigate through your music and get playing. On the right, is the playlist. It’s fairly simple and I have no complaints with it. One thing I noticed, and it may only pertain to me, is that the artists were not alphabetized. I guess I’m a bit neurotic about those things, but other users may find this refreshing.

As beautiful as Minitunes is, the feature that is above and beyond the coolest part of Minitunes is the “info” view. Clicking on the “i” button in the toolbar will display interesting information and pictures of the artist as well as lyrics for the song.

Some of the missing features in Minitunes is a feature by itself, I don’t want Minitunes to become too busy which would defeat the purpose of using Minitunes if you ask me. if you’re dying to give Minitunes a try, just click on the installer button below and enjoy!

What openSUSE can build for you?

Ever heard of OBS, also known as the openSUSE Build Service? You may not recognize the acronym, but if you’re using openSUSE you’re certainly using software built by OBS. The build service provides an invaluable tool for developers to overcome some of the challenges caused by the slight fragmentation between the various Linux distributions.

 

The OBS provides developers of all your favorite apps with an easy to use tool for creating and distributing packages for openSUSE, Ubuntu and Fedora on a number of architectures. The idea of it all being that a developer can upload their code to the OBS and it will produce packages such as .rpm or .deb packages which are ready for openSUSE/Fedora and Ubuntu/Debian respectively.

Let’s say for example, the devs for an app like Skrooge decide not to use the OBS. To support the various Linux distributions they have a couple options:

  1. To not support other distributions
  2. To enlist package maintainers on each distro
  3. To build the packages themselves for each distro

This approach seems to be more and more common with applications developed targeting Ubuntu, such as Pino, which has taken route #2.

Ten Days of openSUSE, Day One: The Kernel

In the lead up to the upcoming openSUSE release 11.4, I figured we could highlight some major new developments that are coming in this release.Celebration time imminent!

At the core of every Linux distribution lies the Linux Kernel, the heart of it all. The kernel the most fundamental part of the operating system, allowing programs to interact with your processor, hard disks, keyboard, etc. The kernel coming in 11.4 contains quite a number of great improvements.

  • “Kernel activity patch,” which we had previously talked about makes the openSUSE desktop feel faster and more responsive than ever.
  • Hoardes of new drivers adding better hardware support than ever, including a number of new input devices (including some new Wacom hardware, which I’m particularly pleased about).
  • Multi-processor support for Ext4, the default filesystem openSUSE uses. If you have a dual-core notebook or desktop, openSUSE 11.4 will give you faster data access than before
  • Plenty more that I cannot properly enumerate.

For all the gritty technical details, the folks over at kernelnewbies.org put up this handy summary of changes.

Mark your calendars, only 9 more days to go!

Ten Days of openSUSE, Day Three: Browsing

The countdown to openSUSE 11.4 is down to seven days, and on this third day of openSUSE I wanted to highlight the big change in web browsers in the newest release of everybody’s favorite Linux distribution.

With the major shift towards web applications for both personal and professional use, fast and modern browsers have now extraordinarily important. Whether you’re accessing GMail on your home desktop or working with Salesforce or other web-based professional applications, the browser is where most users spend time these days.

Lucky for those users openSUSE 11.4 comes with a couple of major new web browser additions such as Firefox 4, Chromium 11 and for our KDE bretheren, Konqueror now uses a fully WebKit-based backend.

If you’re an Opera user, you can grab Opera 11 from opera.com.

Any way you cut it, the new openSUSE is ready for just about anything you throw at it. Flash support, you betcha. HTML5, got it. Fast JavaScript applications, definitely. This release of openSUSE is great for both the casual and professoinal web user, enjoy!

Ten Days of openSUSE, Day Two: LibreOffice

With 8 days to go until the release of openSUSE 11.4, why not highlight: LibreOffice! (since Jos already spilled the beans)

As far as I know, openSUSE 11.4 will be the first major distribution to bundle LibreOffice with a release, something the folks in the underground SUSE ice cave seem pretty happy about.

What’s the big deal about LibreOffice? Remember OpenOffice and how it was pretty good but occasionally had some annoying quirks that seemed to take forever to get fixed. Lots of things have changed for the better with LibreOffice.

For starters LibreOffice is developed under the umbrella of The Document Foundation which strives to foster development and partipation in the LibreOffice community.

This focus on open development and a merit-based leadership means end-users like us get to see more bug fixes and newer features faster! Already the LibreOffice guys have incorporated a number of outstanding improvements that were not yet incorporated into OpenOffice (such as the go-oo.org changes)).

The version of LibreOffice shipping with openSUSE 11.4 is faster, less buggy and will continue to improve at an incredible pace compared to the old OpenOffice, this is a good thing!

If you’re upgrading to, or installing openSUSE 11.4 on March 10th, you should get the latest LibreOffice but if you can’t wait until then, click the shiny button and grab LibreOffice for 11.3!

Ten Days of openSUSE, Day Five: Scribus

On the fifth day of openSU-SE my true love gave to me, fiiiiveeee goollldeeen ringggggssss!.

Just kidding, on the fifth day of our countdown to openSUSE 11.4 I wanted to highlight an impressive new application that is making it’s debut with this release: Scribus. If you’re not “in the know” for desktop publishing applications, Scribus is:

 

Scribus is powerful software that helps you create great looking documents of all kinds. It also comes with a lot of support options to help you achieve the best result.

As I’m terribly un-talented when it comes to just about anything spatial, I couldn’t honestly tell you how great Scribus is in openSUSE 11.4, but the folks I’ve talked about it with seem pretty excited about it.

Ten Days of openSUSE, Day Four: GRUB2

Day four of the count down to openSUSE 11.4, I’ve covered the kernel, some higher level apps and today I wanted to jump all the way back down to the beginning. The beginning of every experience with Linux, Windows and Mac OS X starts with the bootloader.

The bootloader is responsible for getting your computer from “POST” (power-on self-test) to the operating system. Think of it like the ignition switch in your car, something has to get things going and for computers the bootloader is it.

Historically, openSUSE has shipped with GRUB. GRUB has long been the bootloader of choice for Linux users running on PCs, and has now been supplanted by GRUB2.

I thought a grub was an insect?In order to preserve stability for users, the openSUSE project still defaults to GRUB for now, but GRUB2 is available for testing in 11.4 for those users willing to take the plunge. If you’re interested in trying it out, check out this page on the wiki for more details and how to get yourself booted if you get stuck.

So what’s so special about GRUB2 compared to the original GRUB? The folks who maintain Ubuntu’s “community documentation” wrote up a nice comparison that you can take a look at if you’re interested, but here’s the highlights:

  • With GRUB2 you can boot LiveCD ISO images straight from your hard drive
  • Better graphical boot menu support
  • Themes!
  • Rescue mode
  • Improved speed and reliability
  • Auto-detect other operating systems like Windows, etc.

Personally, I run openSUSE on my laptop, so I rarely see the bootloader but I’m glad the openSUSE team’s attention to detail encompasses the entirety of the computing experience from start to finish.

If you’re a dual-booter, be sure to grab openSUSE 11.4 on March 10th and try out the fancy new GRUB 🙂