Screencasting on Linux – recordMyDesktop

Doing a basic screencast in Linux is pretty easy. The package recordMyDesktop can be found easily on the repository of many Linux distros (including Ubuntu 9.04 that I use).

With this package you’re actually getting the backend recordMyDesktop which is written in C and the frontend developed in Python (gtk-recordMyDesktop or qt-recordMyDesktop).

The feature list is simple but that is all I needed for a quick screencast demo I had to prepare this afternoon:

  • record the entire screen or just a specific window;
  • record audio (with channel and frequency settings);
  • adjust fps;
  • include mouse pointer, “follow the mouse” recording, include window decoration (or not), and tooltips.

gtk-recordmydesktop

The closing added bonus, it records directly in theora / vorbis!

Recording is done with a simple click on the “record” button and than on the panel you’ll see an icon where you can quickly pause, resume and stop the recording. Easy and simple.

Using Twitter with Pidgin

The eco-system around Pidgin is fantastic, below is yet another cool plug-in tip for it.

Pidgin-Twitter plug-in works with Linux and Windows for you to get back into posting to and receiving notes from Twitter (also works well with Identi.ca too!). Steps to get it working:

  1. download and install the plug-in the plug-in;
  2. go to Pidgin menu under Tools > Plug-ins you’ll find Pidgin-Twitter to activate and configure;
  3. place your username / password and define a couple of other options (such as show users’ avatars)
  4. Add a buddy to your GTalk account called twitter@twitter.com and choose to display it even when it is offline.

You’re good to go! Open the chat window for the buddy you just created and instantly it’ll display your messages.

Abiword – multi platform word processor

After a recent exchange of ideas about Abiword on identi.ca, I decided to take a closer look at it again. Although OpenOffice is currently my office suite of choice, it is a bit bloated and slow. So, what does Abiword have to offer?

abiword1

  • It is blazing fast;
  • works in Windows and Linux;
  • has all the main text editing and formatting functions one needs;
  • saves and imports documents in multiple formats (Abiword’s own formats, .doc, .odf, .html, .rtf, .pdf, .docx, LaTeX, Kword and xml);
  • has revision control;
  • has spell checker and thesaurus built-in;
  • and, has a plug-in architecture to improve its list of features even more!

abiword-tools

It even has a collaboration function so you can share your document through Jabber or TCP connection (I haven’t tested it).

I have tried Abiword before but to be honest I didn’t know it had this many features. For this review I can say there are a couple of tools I might miss when collaborating a document with others, such as being able to track and manage document changes and notes.

Overall I really liked Abiword and will seriously think about using it more often.

Ubuntu 9.04 released!

The newest version of our beloved Linux distro Ubuntu was released on April 21st. Code named Jaunty Jackalope, Ubuntu 9.04 desktop edition brings some nice features:

  • finally OpenOffice 3.0.1 installed;
  • Gnome 2.26 with some improvements for multiple monitors setups, Empathy (multi-protocol instant messenger), Evolution (email client now with MS Exchange support), Volume manager (now integrated with PulseAudio);
  • X.Org server 1.6 to improve support for some 3D video cards;
  • new notification alert system specially designed for Ubuntu;
  • Linux kernel 2.6.28 with ext4 file system support;

I’ve been using Ubuntu almost exclusively for about 2 years now. The improvements made since that time have been enormous and this release although not ground breaking has brought some very nice improvements.

On my desktop (the computer I’m using now to write this post) I just did a distro upgrade and with one click of a button the entire system took care of the entire procedure by itself. I left the computer on overnight but the reason it took so long was that most likely the Ubuntu servers and mirrors are extremely busy.

Now I’m already looking forward to Ubuntu 9.10 in October 🙂

Open source at work

Migrating from a proprietary licensed mindset into open source can be perceived as a pretty challenging task. It is incredibly common for me to see that branding power often blinds people in a way that the functionalities of a software are disregarded in favor of the comforting sound of a brand name.

What does all that marketing blah blah means?

At my work, all new computers have open source software on it. The email client, office suite, browser, image editor, project management software and programming tools are all installed in the new employee’s computer from his/her day one.

But, the adaptation isn’t immediate. The icon, the menu bar, the layout are all excuses for a fuss: “I can’t do this, I can’t do that, where is the icon for this!?” After some guidance and explanation of functions, everything is settled and peace restored.

In your company, if you’d like to start introducing open source programs to support the cause, to reduce costs, or even to have the possibility to tailor some programs to your specific needs, don’t worry it can be much easier than you’d think.

Open source is fit for whom?

For the generalist worker, open source programs will go above and beyond the level of functionality compared to proprietary solutions. It is realistic to say though that some employees will need complex tools to work at full speed. For these team members, proprietary software can be rightfully requested.

How would your company make the transition?

If you’re a part of a large company, make changes with one or two programs at a time. All new employees though make sure they start with the most number of open source tools as you’d like. During the migration process, hold workshops to guide the team and be available to assist at other times when needed.

Overall, be supportive of your team and don’t hesitate to make the move. In the end, open source at work is an easier work than you might have thought!

Piwiki – website analytics

I’ve just read in HowToForge a nice article about Piwik, an open source web analytics tool.

You can download Piwik and install it on your own server to gather analytics data that could replace your usage of Google Analytics. In my personal opinion, it is always nice to have two services running to make sure you’re getting the right analytics data or still have data in case something happens and one service breaks.

What seems pretty neat about Piwik is the fact that it works with plug-ins so you can add and remove functionalities that are suitable for you. The service runs on php and MySQL so it should be an easy install process, the site says less than 5 minutes. 😉

They’re on version 0.2 right now but give it a try, their online demo sems pretty awesome.

Task manager [Android]

I’m an follower of GTD. Probably not the best one, but at least I try to keep myself as organized as I can in the stream of neverending to-dos.

Which is why one of the first applications I searched for to install on my Android device was a good task manager to sync with RememberTheMilk. I was quite happy to find the open source app Astrid. The program does exactly what I need:

Asstrid Android task manager

Asstrid Android task manager

Syncing with RememberTheMilk is a breeze, the only problem is that all tasks go to my inbox and not the lists I have already defined. But, overall Astrid meets all of my demands 🙂

Free movie tip – D.O.A.

D.O.A. (1950) movie

D.O.A. (1950) movie

Found in the Internet Archive, D.O.A. of 1950 is a classic film noir movie.

Although I’m not a fan of old movies, this drama mystery was pretty worth it. The basic story is of a person who tries to investigate who murdered him. The story is pretty rich with very good moments of suspense and a nice character build-up. The victim who has received a deadly poison goes out to search for his own killer. During this process there are shootings, lots of detective-style work, romantic scenes and brave escapes.

This movie is now released under public domain for download (you can get it in the open source friendly .ogv format).

Libre.fm, open source last.fm project

Last.fm’s decision to start charging for web streaming of their radio service outside the US, UK and Germany made reasonable financial sense for them didn’t make me too happy.

As a consequence of the news (it seems), a new open source project was started called libre.fm. Right now the project is in closed alpha and will allow you to collect the information of songs you’re listening to, similar to audioscrobbler.

If you get an invite, all you have to do is install turtle to start sending the information of your listening habits. Libre.fm will have all of the code released under GNU AGPL and much like laconi.ca, you will be able to launch your own instance or use their own hosting to store your data.

Right now it is an early stage project, but since it is open source who knows what will appear in the future?

Now if only I could get an invite…

Top podcasts & vidcasts

Sharing with you my list of Linux and Open Source podcasts and vidcasts I subscribe to:

  • FLOSS Weekly (podcast) – part of the Twit.tv world, excellent interviews with leaders of different FLOSS projects;
  • Linux Outlaws (podcast) – this show is quite informal but has very nice comments on what’s new on the Linux and FLOSS world;
  • Stack Overflow (podcast) – more geared towards programming and software development;
  • The Linux Journal (vidcast) – short but very nice Linux tips;
  • Category 5 (vidcast) – a lot of good information for those starting in the world of Linux with live Q&A session;
  • The Source (vidcast) – just started following it and so far I’ve seen some very nice interviews with important community members of the open source world.

Any suggestions from our readers?