Author Archive

Why I still don’t use Apple Products…

Posted on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 11:29 am


… and, if you care about innovation, you shouldn’t either.

Just over two years ago, I wrote an entry for BerkeleyLUG in which I tried to explain to the sometimes baffled people in my life why I so strongly oppose Apple - http://goo.gl/xhc5. While the ultra-closed nature of their devices (see the above article for a small subset of examples illustrating Apple’s closed nature) is a major reason why I don’t personally use Apple products, it was their recent (at the time) litigation against competing open-source products that really got my goat.

I am writing today, with great sadness, because matters have only gotten worse. In the United States alone, in the past few months, Apple has taken advantage of the broken patent system to ban multiple competing products from consumers’ hands:

Apple succeeded in blocking all HTC Android devices from entering the country, forcing HTC to remove common features from its phones and now continues to pursue further litigation against the modified devices - http://goo.gl/j6zrR. In this case, Apple is using a dubious patent that gives them the sole right to detect text strings like phone numbers in documents and to allow users to press on them to perform actions.

Apple has succeeded in getting an injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab because they have apparently patented the rectangle with curved edges despite the obviously large amounts of prior art. http://goo.gl/sqRD5

Most disturbingly, in the last week, Apple has succeeded in banning a stock Android device, the Galaxy Nexus, for basic functionality in the Android OS itself. The particular patent in question gives Apple the sole right to perform searches across multiple sources and to show the results in one interface. That is right, according to the patent, Apple is the only company in the world allowed to perform basic search. http://goo.gl/YuWHZ

I started BerkeleyLUG three years ago because I believe in the ability of technology to revolutionize the world. More specifically, I believe that open access to technology breeds future innovation and that this innovation literally defines us as a culture. As evidence, I believe the success of the most important innovation of our time, the open internet, is a direct result of the availability of the open-source standards such as html/javascript and open platforms like Linux, Apache, MySQL and other open projects.

The broken patent system and companies like Apple who abuse it are destroying our chances for creating the next great thing in tech on open platforms and standards. Instead, what we have to look forward to is a future of computing where one company controls the hardware, the platform and the communication protocols to network between devices. This is the future we will have if Apple is allowed to eliminate competition. They control the hardware and the platform already. Additionally, Apple has complete and arbitrary control over which applications can run on their platform (something unheard of in a computer OS). Not only that, they control the content you can sell on their devices by effectively preventing sales that compete with their own content from being sold (e.g. you can’t buy a Kindle ebook in the Kindle app on your iOS device – http://goo.gl/bC4GQ). They have even limited the platforms by which you can access the open-web on iOS – e.g you can’t use html/javascript rendering engines other than Apple’s own. Third party browsers (like chrome) on iOS are forced into simply wrapping a different UI on top of the one and only browser that Apple provides.

This is a sad state of affairs. But, I, for one, am not done fighting. Which is why I ask all of you reading this to join me and the EFF in fighting patent trolls like Apple by fixing the broken patent system. Please start by signing your name to the EFF’s effort defendinnovation.org.

And, for our future’s sake, don’t buy Apple products…

(edited to fix typos that shame me)


Ubuntu Installfest for Local Schools this Weekend

Posted on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm


Reminder: Find us on Google+

This Saturday from 10:30 to 3:00, there will be a triagefest at the Creative Arts Charter School at 1601 Turk Street at the corner of Pierce Street in San Francisco. This is the school that had that huge fire on 12/22/11.  More about that fire here:

http://blog.partimus.org/?p=159

The purpose of this triage fest is to separate good equipment from bad equipment.  Volunteers with a pick-up truck for moving equipment 3 blocks would be particularly appreciated.  Pizza will be served at 12:30 p.m.

Please bring with you everything that you would need to test a computer and its peripheral equipment, and to take a computer apart and put it back together.  It would also be good to bring Ubuntu 10.04 on a flash drive, since we will be installing that distro on some machines.

This public charter school relies on our Linux computers heavily for the work that their students do, so they will definitely appreciate the work!  Thanks in advance to all volunteers!


Circle us on Google+

Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm


For those of you on Google+, you can now find BerkeleyLUG at: http://goo.gl/a7UQo – go ahead and circle us!  For those of you not on Google+, carry on carry on….


GoogleTV Reviewed

Posted on Monday, September 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm


A couple of weeks ago, the price of the Logitech Revue with GoogleTV dropped to $99 - http://goo.gl/n5Hvw. This was finally low enough for me to grab one, give it a try and see how it compares to or complements my home-built MythTV/Boxee machine. I have also played around with the Boxee Box in the past, which currently costs around $200.

It is anticipated that the Revue will get an update to Android 3.1 (with the Android market included) in a couple weeks – leaked versions are already floating around out there, and developers can already play around with the new firmware in the Android SDK (I have tested my apps already, and they pretty much worked and looked great without any need for modification). However, my initial review of the product will be with the current version of the firmware and not the leaked version. As this update is bound to vastly improve the usefulness of the device, I will probably have to update this review when I have access to it.

First off, I am a pretty big fan of Android; so, I like the idea that GoogleTV is based on the same platform as my phone and tablet. It feels very familar. For example, you can press and hold the home button to get a list of currently active tasks (and yes, your TV can now multi-task!). Additionally, the settings look familiar and the feel of the interface just generally screams “Android.”

The device is pretty responsive while navigating and one of the biggest surprises I found while using the device is how much I love the bluetooth keyboard remote that comes default with the unit (see the images on the Amazon page linked above). I was skeptical of its size at first; but, I now must admit that it is by far the best home-theater remote I have ever used. On my home-built MythTV box, I have an infrared remote (similar to http://goo.gl/eLdLa) and a compact bluetooth remote keyboard (http://goo.gl/0yJp5). They both pale in comparison to the Revue remote. The IR remote can only control the mouse through lircmd daemon (which is a pain to setup and leaves a lot to be desired in usability), and the compact keyboard/mouse combo has a pretty poor button layout for navigation. The Revue remote just feels light, well laid out and very efficient to navigate around with.

The biggest dissapoint with GoogleTV is the relatively small number of native apps available compared to Boxee for example.  It comes with approximately 10 with no way to get new native apps. This is about to change in a very big way with the release of the Android Market to the device. The Amazon Video app itself is also pretty disappointing in that it is basically just a link to the Amazon VOD webpage that has not really been optimized for the device. On the other hand, the Netflix app is great and the web-browser and search apps are really really well done. Browsing the web on the device is a really great experience. It is surprisingly easy to navigate and to discover new content.

What is not said enough about GoogleTV, though, is that while there are only a handful of native Android apps available (again, at least until the Market is released), there are practically already a limitless number of html5 optimized web-apps for GoogleTV. These apps, which run in the Revue browser, often look and feel just like native apps. What is particularly nice about these apps, is that, though they are often designed with GoogleTV in my mind, because they utilize html5 or flash and live in the browser, they can also be used on Boxee or on your desktop/laptop with the keyboard. Here try a few of them out for yourself: http://www.google.com/tv/spotlight-gallery.html – (Crackle, Clicker and KQED are some of my favorites). Notably missing is a Hulu app.  This is missing not for any technical reason, but because Hulu has chosen to block their content on GoogleTV. This is a bummer for sure; but there is still a ton of content available.

Another disappointment in the Revue is the Logitech media player app. This app advertises itself as being able to view and play media from shared drives (such as samba shares) on your network. The problem is, it only recognizes about 20% of my content, none of my mkv files are recognized for example, and displays the files it does find in a random order with no setting to sort alphabetically. Secondly, the app doesn’t do any kind of curation: It doesn’t look for movie descriptions etc., and requires you to step through a series of menus where you choose individual shared drives each time you launch the app. I am sure that once the Market arrives on GoogleTV someone will have an awesome replacement app in a matter days, but for now, organizing the media on your network using the Revue is a total fail. This is probably the main area where Boxee really outshines GoogleTV.

So, all in all, the Revue is a great little device with a lot of potential once the Android Market comes to it. In it’s current state it is worth $99 but not much more – but the value is poised to go up once Honeycomb drops.


My Favorite Lesser Known Android Apps

Posted on Friday, January 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm


The guy sitting next to me on the plane home from Florida was a Droid Incredible user; while we were sharing app recommendations, I realized I had a few recommendations of lesser known apps that really rock that I should share with people.  Everyone knows about Angry Birds, Google Sky Map and ShopSavy … but here are a few hidden gems:

1.  ChromeMarks – If you are like me, you use Chrome on your Linux (or other) desktop.  One of the great features of Chrome is the built-in bookmark sync.  Unfortunately, the built-in Android browser does get in on this syncing action.  This is where ChromeMarks come in; it syncs your Chrome bookmarks to your Android phone.

2. aTrackDog – I like to download, install and try out a lot of apps.  I then tend to uninstall a lot of apps.  aTrackDog lets you track new updates of apps, even after you have uninstalled; so, you don’t miss a big improvement in an app that you previously uninstalled.

3. OS-Monitor – It is basically like running “top” on your phone.  You can see all the processes using cpu at any given time.  Isn’t it awesome how much info about your phone is available on Android?

4. Wikipathia – A fun game of degrees of similarity relating terms on Wikipathia.

Add your own lesser known apps in the comments.


East Bay Mini Maker Faire

Posted on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 10:27 am


BerkeleyLUG and the Ubuntu California Team will have a Linux/Open-Source-Software booth at this Sunday’s (Oct 24) East Bay Maker Faire in Oakland.  We’ll be showing off cool projects based on Free and Open-Source software (Linux in particular) and ways to use Ubuntu to give some of your old hardware a new life.  Stop by and see us!


Android and App Development

Posted on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 10:44 am


I love Android. It is flexible, feature rich and becoming more polished every day. Development is happening at a breakneck pace. It uses Linux at its core and is mostly* open-source. The asterisk is because certain elements of a typical Android install are closed, like Google’s gmail and market apps (which both have OSS alternatives) as well as some manufacturer radio integration and device drivers. There are some people in the OSS community (the same people that would be angry at me for neglecting the “FL”) that deplore the fact that there are any closed elements in Android at all; to them, I say, “keep fighting the good fight, but I’m going to use and support the best option that is currently available.” Other people (for example the author of this ill-written post that made the front page of digg http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/60849), will claim it is not open-source because Google ultimately chooses which patches from the community get accepted or not. However, as AOSP developer Jean Baptiste Queru has said, this hasn’t prevented significant opensource contributions to Android 2.x. Open-source does not mean open-decision making (just ask Mark Shuttleworth); so, these accusations are just silly, and, concluding that there is little difference between the iPhoneOS and Android is absurd.

Anyway, I think, ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. If you need proof of Android’s open nature, I point you to the fact that it is popping up in all sorts of devices without Google’s name on them: Archos tablets with their own Market, the Barnes-and-Noble Nook and AT&T phones that replace Google’s services everywhere with Yahoo. This is the real value in Android’s openness – the ability of manufacturers to use it for whatever purpose they want. And, the source code being available sure doesn’t hurt Cyanogen’s ability to make amazing ROMs for the Android phones that many of us own and love – anyone with a G1 want 2.1 on their phone?

Android also happens to have the most open software-store in the mobile world (not to mention the fact that you can install software on your Android phone from any source outside the Market whatsoever). Which leads me to the other point of this post: I have written a couple Android apps and released the source. As a developer, I didn’t have to pay an large amount of cash for the SDK or sign the ludicrous developer agreement that Apple requires for their devices (including restricting the tools you can use to write your app and limiting who you can give it to and by what means). For Android, all I had to do was download the free SDK, try out a few example apps, and off I was (granted, the second app ended up being pretty involved). So, without further ado, here are the two apps I made:

1.SquirrelCam (Available now in the Market). The ledge off my office is home to a squirrel nest every spring. We set up a webcam that utilizes the Linux OSS project web-cam server to set up a live webcam stream. The only problem? It doesn’t work in any mobile browsers (and it wouldn’t be a very nice experience even if it did). So, I wrote a android app to connect to the stream, show live video and allow the user to save frames to his/her sdcard.

HomePage: http://www.jdeslippe.com/SquirrelCam/
Source/APK: https://launchpad.net/squirrelcam

2.EMusicDownloader (Coming to the market soon.  For now, grab the apk file from launchpad). eMusic.com is an awesome DRM free music and audiobook store (I think they are the only DRM free audiobook store actually). To downloads albums and audiobooks from the site, however, you need a download manager – there are a couple open-source options for a Linux desktop. EmusicDownloader for android serves this purpose on Android phones. Allowing users to browse eMusic.com on the Android browser and then download their purchases directly to their phone using the app.  And, because the files are DRM free, you can copy them to your PC at your convenience.

HomePage: http://www.jdeslippe.com/EMusicDownloader
Source/APK: http://launchpad.net/emusicdownloader

To conclude this Android lovefest, here is a list of some of my other favorite Android apps (not developed by me) for you to try out:

Shoot U! - A super fun game by Camel Games, my favorite Android game developers.

Dropbox – If you use it on your Ubuntu machine, you’ll love the Android app.

Astrid – Open-source todo list that syncs with remember the milk = awesome

AmblingBookplayer – Awesome audiobook player/downloader for Android.

GoogleVoice – If you don’t know what GoogleVoice is… go check it out now!

Google SkyMap – Best augmented reality app ever.

WordPress – Manage wordpress sites on the go.

WordUp! – Fun word finding game.

Listen – Awesome podcast fetching app.

Boxee Remote – Control your Boxee box with your phone.

OI-Filemanager – open-source file manager

Qik/Ustream – Stream live video from your phone

Picsay – Edit photos and add amazing effects right on your phone.

Fring – Make Skype calls over 3G.

Locale
– Control your phone’s behavior based on all sorts of criteria.

Shazam – Everyone knows what this one is right?

ShopSavvy – Scan barcodes to get web/local prices and reviews.

+Many more.  Come to this weeks BerkeleyLUG meeting on Sunday to see the full list.


Why I don’t use Apple products

Posted on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 10:38 am


The people I meet are often befuddled by my level of interest and support for open-source projects and technology like Ubuntu and Android.  I can sympathize, being around anyone who cares a bit “too much” about anything can make you uncomfortable.  I write today mainly to organize my thoughts and hopefully illustrate the origin of (if not justify) the interest I have for all things open.  As a scientist, I see evidence everyday about how the openness of ideas and technology have positively affected society and prompted further innovation.  One person or company makes a discovery and other groups are able to refine the discovery and make new discoveries using the previous advancement.  Keeping information, ideas, science and technology open is crucial for future development.  This is not to say that people and corporations don’t have a right to profit off their hard earned innovations and particular implementations of an idea.  But, no one should have the right to turn general ideas into personal or corporate property.  As a whole, we benefit mankind more (and ourselves in return) when we develop, share, and collaborate freely.  The next big leap forward may come from someone or some group halfway around the world based on something we share here.  In my opinion, there is no company in the tech-world who puts itself at odds with this philosophy more so than Apple.  Below, I discuss, in a way that I hope illustrates why I like open-projects such as Ubuntu and Android, my reasons for not using Apple products.  The use of Apple as a foil in this article is in no small part due to the troubling actions they have taken this week to stifle competition in the mobile market.

1.  Apple’s software is not open-source. (with a couple exceptions).  This is not necessary a deal breaker for me (I do use a lot of closed-source software in niche cases when it does the job better), but it is important enough to make me prefer open-source projects 90% of the time.  Most Apple software being closed-source means interested developers cannot look at the source-code that is used to run the various Apple programs including OSX, iTunes etc…  Apple is by no means alone in this category; Microsoft, Adobe and many other companies also protect their code.  Most people don’t even want to see the source code; it is likely too mind-bogglingly complex to the average computer user to do anything with.  So, what is the big deal?  Well, paying for closed-source software is a lot like buying a car where the hood has been welded shut.  You are not allowed to tweak the engine or replace a faulty component.  Sure, most people wouldn’t do that themselves anyway, but what if nobody could?!  You couldn’t bring it to the mechanic to have a look at it.  Car and driver magazine wouldn’t be allowed to review the engine design or do a safety analysis.  On a literal note, if the software in Toyota’s braking system wasn’t closed, it is likely their problems could have been avoided – or at least discovered and patched much earlier.  I choose to use open-source software whenever possible because I and millions of people around the world can look at it, learn from it, help improve it and make it more robust, and, most importantly, use it to start our own projects.  Even if you don’t want to look at the code yourself, you have to admit there is something very powerful about this idea.  The ability to use, contribute and improve existing software is a great stimulus for innovation.  There would be no Amazon, Google, ebay or TiVo today if it wasn’t for open-source software called Linux.  Apple OSX is, itself, built upon the open-source operating-system BSD; Apple uses this free and open-software generously but stingily contributes few improvements (particularly the UI) back to the community.  Despite the philosophical appeal of open development, it is actually the results of this development model (and not the philosophy itself) that I really like.  Because the Ubuntu operating system is open-source, it is able to fit my needs and wants in ways that Apple’s or Microsofts’ software could never come close to replicating.  I can have the beauty of OSX, the flexibility of Windows and the power and performance neither could hope to have.

Despite my appreciation for open-sourciness, I do actually use some closed-source software.  Like most practical people, when closed-source software fulfills a niche better than that of open-source projects, I will choose the one that does the job best.  So, perhaps I have not yet completely justified my anti-Apple stance.  Afterall, I said earlier that Apple was a worse fit than even Microsoft, and, so far, they are looking only equally bad.

2.  Apple is not open-anything. Although Microsoft’s Windows is closed source, it (and Ubuntu of course) can at least be run on any hardware you like – from a virtual machine to a netbook to even a Mac.  If you want, you can go to the store and buy an awesome new video card to spiff up your Windows or Linux computer without having to buy a completely new one.  Apple OSX on the other hand can only be legally run on Apple hardware.  In the above example about the car, now, not only can you not open your the hood of the car, but you can only use Apple tires and fill your car up at Apple gas stations (think iPod + iTunes).  If you get a flat tire, you either have to pray that you are still under warranty and Apple feels like helping you or get an entirely new car.  There are people (the “hackintosh”) community who disregard the law and put OSX on non-Apple hardware.  Apple has made it clear, though, that this is illegal and has brought litigation against companies for doing it, even when they pay full price for the software.  Which leads me to ask the hackintosh community: why do you support a company that treats you like criminals for using the software you purchased in the way you want?  Apple consistently goes out of its way to break support for its products with 3rd party applications.  If you want to use a different media player than iTunes, Apple has (and likely will again) break support for future iPods and future updates.  In a move that is borderline monopolistic, Apple only wants you to put music and movies on your iPod through its anointed application, iTunes, where it can sell you DRM movie/audiobook (yes I know the books come from Audible and other stores use DRM) files that cannot be played on other devices or in other programs.  When you upgrade to a different machine, you will find out that you didn’t actually own the movies/books/music you bought from Apple.  Even if you do like iTunes, do you really think it is ok that nobody should get any choice?  I don’t.

3.  They are even closed about other software you can install. Want Google-voice on your phone?  Want a Super Nintendo emulator?  An app that shows some skin?  A wifi detector?  What about the ability to watch hulu on your new $800 tablet?   (Even if you know html5 is better than the closed-off flash)  You can if you are using Android; you can’t if you use an Apple iPhone of iPad.  Why?  Because daddykins Steve Jobs doesn’t think you need to.  He knows what is best for everyone.  Why continue to use (or worse develop for) the iPhone platform when Apple might pull your favorite app from the market at any time?  As Molly Wood from CNET says, “it’s an abusive relationship.”  Sure, you can jailbreak your phone to add a bunch of apps Apple doesn’t want you to, but then, once again, you are breaking the law and are at Apple’s mercy.  To risk sounding like a broken record, why support a company that treats you like a criminal?  I choose not to.

4.  The final straw. Not only does Apple control exactly how you can use any Apple device, they now want to take away your choice to use any other device as well.  This week they brought a lawsuit against HTC, the developer of the majority of Android phones, alleging 20 Apple patent violations.  Many of these patents seem to be comprised of trivial ideas that should be non-patentable and/or ideas Apple itself stole from other companies.  It is clear that Apple is scared of the consumer choice that competition brings and is scared of the innovation that is possible within the open Android framework.  Patents were intended to promote independent innovation by protecting small inventors from being scooped by large established corporations.  Apple is hijacking the patent system to protect the interests of their large corporation against any competition at all.  This is an incredibly dangerous move* that could stifle innovation for many years to come.  The real problem is in the absurd use of the patent system by many companies today; imagine how different the world would be if Henry Ford were able to patent every trivial part of the car – there’d have been no competition and no continued development (thanks BOL for analogy).  If someone was allowed to patent all the ideas relevant to traveling by air, we might still be stuck with hot-air balloons instead of airplanes.  While I could happily ignore complaints 1-3, since nobody is forcing me to use Apple’s restrictive products, this latest patent attack has really put Apple back right into my face.  It’s apparently not enough for Apple to control exactly how everyone is allowed to use Apple products, they now want to tell you exactly which other products you are allowed to use as well.

In the important realm of science, technology and ideas, I believe that the continual conversion of ideas and development effort into the private property of companies like Apple is a great threat to continued free innovation if such a patent attack is allowed to stand.

*Edits:

Thanks to comments below (even those calling me a troll) for some corrections.  I would like to point out these are my personal reasons for not using Apple products.  I trust that everyone can come to their own decision about whether these points matter to them or not.  As I said above, if it wasn’t for “the final straw”, I would happily go about my days ignoring Apple’s existence.  It is only when they try to control the choices I have in using other products that they warrant my bemoaning.  And, no, I don’t think Apple (or its employees) are evil.  I am friends with some of them.  I think their general philosophy is nearly opposite that of open-source, and their patent attack dangerous and self-serving.  But, “evil”, nah…

precedent -> move (thanks Carl)

worse -> “worse fit” (for me that is, best not to use general statements)

Thanks to Phillip (misc BSD software), Jeff (opencl) and myself (grand-central) for pointing out open-source projects Apple has contributed to.


Google Mail / Voice / Wave / Reader Notifications in Your Systray

Posted on Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm


In my opinion, Google’s web-services and Linux go together like pie and ice-cream.  Though, there are some people in this very LUG that would disagree with me about Google’s benevolence, there is no denying the quality and convenience of gmail etc…  Moreover, even though Google’s web services themselves are not open-source, they are built on top of an open framework and toolset, and Google itself sponsors some great open-source projects (chromium, android, Kernel development etc).

If you are of a like mind, you probably already use google’s services like gmail, google-voice (the best thing since sliced bread) and google reader.  Like me, you might have been in a constant search for a notifier applet for your taskbar for these services.  I have used CheckGMail for a long time, and then docky’s builtin gmail applet, but I have now found a real winner after reading a post at OMG!Ubuntu.  It’s called googsystray; it’s one program that looks great and notifies you of new messages in gmail, wave, gvoice and google reader in your taskbar.  It comes with a lot of nice features.  For example, you can send SMS messages with google-voice right from the applet.

Here are a couple screenshots:

And here is one screen cap from the original OMG!Ubuntu Article where more details can be found:

Go ahead, follow the link above, grab the .deb and give it a whirl.


Banshee and Android Rock Together . . . Or Why Ubuntu Should Drop Rhythmbox

Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm


To a Linux user like myself, an iPod is more or less a fancy paperweight; since Apple does not provide a version of iTunes for Linux.  Yes, it sorta works in Wine and does work well in a VirtualBox… but, really, why bother?  Even if there was an iTunes client for Linux, I probably wouldn’t want to use it when there are already sleeker, faster and more complete media players for Linux available like Banshee, Songbird and Amarok.  This doesn’t mean I don’t get a little jealous about the iPod/iTunes experience, though.

Android users often ask if there is an iTunes like app for synching their music to their Android phone.  The answer is yes – unlike the iPod, Android is an open platform and users can use any number of applications to sync their music collection to their phone, including simply dragging and dropping your music folder onto the android device.  Drag and drop works well enough, but if you want to sync podcasts, playlists and album art to the device automatically, you need something a bit more sophisticated.  Banshee does all of this for you and more.  When you plug in your Android device (for Nexus One support pictured below you need the most recent package from the Banshee PPA), Banshee automatically shows you the music and videos on the device.  If you have purchased music from the AmazonMP3 store on the phone, Banshee recognizes it and gives you the option to import it to the music collection on your computer.  It then gives the option to sync your music collection to the phone.  It will also automatically, sync your newly downloaded podcasts, artwork and playlists with the phone.  Add or delete a file in Banshee, and it is added/removed from your Android device the next time your sync as well (you can instead choose to manually manage which songs or playlists go to the device).  Downloaded a new podcast, or listened to an old one?  That change is reflected on your Android phone the next time you sync as well.

By the way, got an old iPod lying around?  Try putting Rockbox on it, Banshee detects and syncs Rockbox devices flawlessly.

When you consider that Banshee also plays and manages your video collection, looks elegant, has a ton of useful plugins, including amazing Last.FM support, and has full-time support from Novell; you’d think it would be a no brainer for Ubuntu to switch from Rhythmbox to Banshee.  Appparantly Ubuntu is hung up on the few things Rhythmbox has that Banshee doesn’t like crossfading and a magnatune music store (despite the fact that Banshee now has EMusic support and demand for magnatune is small compared to stores like EMusic and AmazonMP3).  And, of course, there is the anti-mono contingent.  Whatever the reason, it’s sad that Ubuntu is holding on to Rhythmbox and that the great Android support to be had with Banshee won’t be default.

Edits:

In the comments below, it was pointed out that gtkpod can sync newer iPods.  That is good news.  When I had an iPod Touch a year or so ago, the only way to sync it on Linux was the jailbreak it and use ssh to get into the device…

OMG!Ubuntu posted a nice summary of new features coming in Banshee 1.5.3 to be released tomorrow:  http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/01/whats-new-in-banshee-153-folder.html








Recent Entries

Popular Posts