PAN 0.133 – Text/binaries newsgroup reader.

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A very fast, multi purpose binaries/text newsgroup reader.
A very fast, multi purpose binaries/text newsgroup reader.

Readers will have seen the previous article on newsgroup binaries reader Klibido v0.2.5 which whilst a very good package appears to now be discontinued.   With that in mind I set out to find a currently supported newsgroup reader that and my investigations led me to Pan 0.133.

Written by Charles Kerr, Christophe Lambin & Matt Eagleson in C, it aims to offer both text (posting/reading) and binaries support on UseNET.  So lets have a look at some of the features:

NZB support, multi server support (again an almost essential feature), supports the decoding of uu, base64 and yEnc-encoded binaries.

For a full list of the many features take a look at the Pan FAQ page:http://pan.rebelbase.com/features/

Setup of the package is quick and simple.  For the Ubuntu users especially its a simple case of geting the .DEB from http://www.getdeb.net/ (I mention that since it appears Ubuntu is fast becoming the distro of choice for many users new and experienced)

Theres even a flavor for the Windows user, so theres no excuse if you are looking for a multipurpose newsgroup reader/poster.

Firefox communicated perfectly with Pan, allowing for .NZB files to be imported directly in from websites.

Where Pan really comes into its own is performance.  I expect many of you who have looked through a rather large newsgroup (or indeed wanted to scroll through the entire list of available newsgroups on your server, it can sometimes be a rather sluggish experience if you are doing many other things at the same time.  Pan is different.  It has a small footprint and is blisteringly fast.  The simple list of subscribed newsgroups on the left of the screen allows you to effortlessly switch between those you post in and those you may grab files from.

So do I think Pan is the best newsgroup software Ive tested?  Yes.  Do I recommend it? Yes.  Will it replace Klibido on my distro? No.

Why?  Ill explain.

Ive recently moved from Evolution to Thunderbird to handle all of my emailing needs.  Since Thunderbird also has RSS and text newsgroups covered, I really have no need for Pan when I have Klibido.  But you said Pan was faster?  Since my use of a binaries grabber is little more than a client to open and download .NZB, theres little need for me to go scrolling through lists of newsgroups or posts within Klibido.   If I hadnt changed over to Thunderbird, then this probably would be my package of choice for newsgroup reading.

You can visit the homepage of Pan here:http://pan.rebelbase.com/

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

REVIEW: Pidgin 2.5.5 – The all in one messenger?

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Pidgin, most welcome on my distro!
Pidgin, most welcome on my distro!

Chat networks, we all love em, we all use different ones, and they all use different clients/sites!  Let me introduce you to Pidgin, not one of those criters who cover London pavements in their special grey paint, but a Pidgin that will be most welcome in your house.

Pidgin aims to be an all in one chat client for numerous chat networks (see end of post for supported ones) and bring them all together under one package.

Account setup is easy, just choose the chat network and enter your details, you can have many networks as you want running at one, so you wont have to switch between them again.

Pidgin is very well supported and has numerous plugins available.  There is a one for Twitter (not currently tested) and these can all be found linked on the Pidgin Homepage. Currently at 2.5.5 this is a mature product (and it shows) if you are a user of numerous networks or just one and simply want a compact and tight little chat client, look no further than Pidgin!

Having only ICQ and IRC “interests” this leads me to one of the limitations of the package (for me anyway).  Natively Pidgins IRC support is limited.  Using file servers on a IRC network is not going to happen (from my testing) since Pidgin doesnt not seem to know what to do with the request.  That being said, the client is very clean and clear, it is a great choice if you only intend to chat on IRC.

With a small memory footprint, smooth and quick operation, Pidgin is a permanent fixture on my distro.  Chat networks supported are: AIM , Bonjour , Gadu-Gadu , Google Talk , Groupwise ,ICQ , IRC ,MSN , MySpaceIM ,QQ , SILC , SIMPLE , Sametime , XMPP, Yahoo!, Zephyr.

You can get Pidgin from the homepage: http://pidgin.im/

REVIEW: iDeaS v1.0.2.7 – Another option for DS emulation on Linux

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iDeaS is another DS emulator for the Linux platform that I discovered recently.  Supporting the dual screen of the Nintendo DS and allowing

Playing NDS titles on your Linux distro is a possibility!
Playing NDS titles on your Linux distro is a possibility! and there is currently no better software to do it than iDeaS v1.0.2.7!input through mouse/keyboard/gamepad.

I am sure I dont have to explain what a Nintendo DS is and if I do, then you probably would not have use for this software anyway.

This particular Linux version was released on 13th November 2008. Testing the package through Ubuntu 8.10, provides very good compatibility and speed, however like other alternatives out there, sound emulation appears to be buggy and incomplete and will infact hamper the performance of the emulation if switched on (that was certainly the case on my system)

On a few random tests of rom files. I was able to keep a decent frame rate, scrolling was smooth and emulation of opcodes (seems) pretty comprehensive.  The memory footprint for this package is low, but where I can really see this package coming into its own is for the testing of your own software, without the need for a dev kit.

The current beta is, which was released on the Windows platform on 21.12.08, so I am sure that the Linux version will be along shortly.  The good news with this emulator appears to be the commitment to it (keeping in mind the most recent release date) I hope anyone who is wanting to get involved in DS emulation will support the author, and the nice thing about the work is that its catering for Windows and Linux users alike.

Once the archive is downloaded, its simply a case of unpacking it to a directory and running it from there.  No complex terminal instructions, and no installation issues that would make it unfriendly for the newer user.  The GUI is comprehensive, and its not hard to get the emulator runing a rom within a few seconds , without the need to read the instruction manual!  The package is about 350k in size, so even the slowest connections will have it in seconds.  No execuses! Download now!

It is my opinion that iDeaS currently offers the best in DS emulation on Linux at the present time.

Here is a list of features/fixes for the latest stable version:

  • Fixed bugs in Console Window.
  • Fixed bugs in Palette Viewer.
  • Fixed bugs in VRAMCNT_F,VRAMCNT_G.
  • Fixed bugs in Textures Management.
  • Fixed bugs in BGxCNT registers.

Click here to visit the official website! and remember to show your support to the author!

FEATURE: WINE 1.0.1 – WORLD OF WINECRAFT (Wrath of the Lich King)

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Wrath of the Lich King, is the game to be playing if you are a fan of RPG's! you can with Linux! No excuses!

Do you like the title?  World of Winecraft?!

There are many reports on Wine, with compatibility charts and performance comparisons, I intend to take a look at it slightly differently.

I have an adiction, a guilty pleasure if you will for World Of Warcraft (Wrath of the Lich King).  A Windows online RPG that really I cannot say enough good things about it.  With this in mind, I decided that the best test/report would be to compare WOW running under a Linux flag with its native Windows Environment.  I will also list what problems exist on running it through Wine (and how to avoid them)

Ok, first up I need to say for the purposes of this feature, I am using Ubuntu 8.10 (Gnome) and Wine (stable) 1.0.1  The installation I am using of WOW is NOT installed via Wine, but installed some time ago on a XP partition.  XP SP3 is being used for the “experiment”

Loading times:

For both systems, the load time of the WOW client, and the accessing of the server were (as best I could tell) identical.  Running WOW in Linux did encounter (on my rig anyway) an issue immediately, so if you check to the bottom of this feature, you may discover you have the same issue and you can find out how to get around it.  Check out the section Problems/Issues.


As far as I can tell, Wine handled WOW in exactly the same way as XP.  There are a few “gliches” I noticed, which again if you check the Problems /Issues section, you can see what they were for me. (edit, these have now been fixed, see below!)


Flawless, Wine ran WOW in this area exactly the same as XP did.  I have not encountered any sound/music errors/glitches whatsoever.


Being able to fairly compare the two platforms would be difficult.  WOW is full of online users doing their own thing, so the conditions of a completely fair test would be difficult.  Having said that framerate wise I would say there is no difference between the two, HOWEVER.  Wine/Ubuntu appears to handle the memory allocation of the game alot better.  On XP it appears the swap file is facilitated alot, occassionally causing short (or sometimes quite long) pauses in the game whilst data is shifted about.  Ubuntu/Wine did not have this issue for me.  This to me is a major advantage of running WOW in Linux, and make (even with the minor glitches listed below) in my opinion the better platform to run WOW on.

Problems/Issues – And how to get around them!

This is not a list of “global” issues and their fixes.  These are the issues that I have come across on my rig, and how Ive got around them.  You may have a perfect experience, or you may have a worse one.  Without testing every distro on a variety of rigs I cannot say what you will/will not come across when playing this game on your system.  That being said WOW on Wine has generally had a great response on the Net, so I think its a safe bet that you will be in for a treat!

*EDIT* I have now removed all the issues as they have been fixed.

1. Simply go into the WTF folder contained within the Lich King directory, edit the file “config.wtf” by putting the following command into the script.  That solved all my issues, however you can visit this excellent link here for more fixes.

SET gxApi "opengl"

So as you can see, there is very little grief in getting a popular Windows game working in Ubuntu.  I hope wouldbe Linux users take note that dispite what Windows “experts” may say, you do not need to drop into the commandline all the time, and Linux is not some complex system used only by techno wizards!

Why not try out WOW for free?  At the moment they are offering 10 days free trial (no obligation)

World of Warcraft

and to visit the home of Wine for the latest stable release, click here!


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Article by Goblin[RFD]

The prospect of using many different utils and/or dropping into the CLI can be daunting for any Linux user.  This is especially true for the new to Linux.  Ubuntu Tweak aims to be an all in one package that allows simple customization of your desktop without the worry of typing the wrong command or messing things up!

First off, its a very small download (890k)ish and once installed is a simple affair allowing you to scroll down your various options of startup, desktop etc, in order to customize.

One of the features that I think will appeal to newer (or even lazy) users is the option to delete the .deb package cache.  Another useful feature is to be able to select what software is loaded at startup.

There is all sorts of other simplicities with Tweak v0.4.3 and certainly for my family members it is a far more approachable (and collected) way of doing those “tweaks” that make all the difference.

The package I tested was run on 8.10 and worked flawlessly.

85% – Great for new users and the lazy alike! Simplifies alot of those tweaks, and its only a tiny file!

Click here to get yourself a copy!

REVIEW: TRANSMISSION v1.40 – The uTorrent of Linux?

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Article by Goblin[RFD]

Mention Bittorrent to people and you will get one of these responses, a look of childlike bewilderment, a look of distrust (after all you MUST be a pirate if you use Bittorrent), or you may get an open source view which is that bittorrent is great for Linux distros and open source in general.

Fact is bittorrent is mainly used by people who download copyrighted material.  Thats a shame as the protocol is excellent for enabling quicker distribution of data without having to worry about hosting and bandwidth issues.

gtk-smallFor an open source user like myself, I use it to download obscure distros of Linux (Ubuntu Satanic Edition for example) and also the many licience free clip art available on it.  So you want to use Bittorrent? I wont ask any questions about what your intent is!  On 09/11/08 Transmission v1.40 was released, and due to being a happy user of 1.34 that came bundled with Ibex, its only right that I keep ontop of the releases!

Before I go any further, for any users that dont know what Bittorrent is, please read the next few paragraphs.  Everyone else can skip onto the section So whats so great about Transmission?

Ok, you have heard about piracy, you know it goes on and youve heard about Bittorrent, here is a simple explanation of what it is, what to use and what you should know.  The bittorrent protocol is very simply a good way of sharing files.  You first of all need a bittorrent client to connect to what is called a swarm (which is a group of users all downloading/uploading the same file)  This review is about Transmission, its very good!  There are others though, and the nice thing about our community is that you are free to choose and change as much as you like.

So lets presume that you have installed Transmission.  Bittorrent works by all users downloading different pieces of a file and sharing them with each other.  There are two types of user, Seeders and peers.  The seeders are the ones who have the whole file and are kindly still sharing it, and the peers are the ones downloading the file.  Where bittorent is different, is that everyone is sharing with everyone else, so for example the piece of the file I may download from a seeder, I will be sharing it with other peers.  This removes the need for the file to be hosted on a server, removes any bandwidth issues and enables everyone to help share the file.

Now this system is very good.  A bittorrent tracker is simply a site that keeps logs of files that are being shared.  To start downloading, it is no more difficult than clicking on the link, waiting for Transmission to load and then waiting for it to download.  There are plenty of trackers about.  Some legal, some not (depending on your country of origin and/or your viewpoint)

I will not be using this guide to either tell you about or direct you to copyrighted material.   Bittorrent is excellent, if used for opensource, and you will find many mainstream distros have a bittorrent link for their iso.  I also encourage people to help seed their favourite Linux distros, and its a way that everyone can help their Linux flavour of choice!

So whats so great about Transmission?

Transmission has been my bittorrent software of choice, since as long as Ive used bittorrent.  Its a great package, that if required allows the user to forget about “fiddling” with all the little options.  However should you be a “fiddler” it gives you alot to “fiddle” with, and thats no bad thing.

When Im forced to use the Binary Slug called Windows (at work) I will use uTorrent, and to be honest in terms of functionality I find the results of both packages exactly the same.  Transmission is great because its a small program that only opens a small window on your desktop and is very unobtrusive.

All the features of a bittorrent client that you would expect are here.  Setting max upload limit/download limit, set max amount of peers etc.  All these features are very familiar to any bittorrent user and should come as no supprise.

Transmission comes as standard with Intrepid Ibex, however you will find a version of it in most (if not all) repositories.

So is 1.40 better? and how?  Like I say I was using 1.34, and had no issues with it whatsoever.  1.40 seems more of the same, but since Im a sucker for the latest version I have installed it.  It is very difficult in my opinion to write reviews on Linux software, as in most cases it performs exactly how you would expect it to and a review of a Linux package is usually an exercise in stating the obvious.  Transmission is no exception, and Id expect the majority of bittorrent users already have this excellent piece of software.

The features of the new version (as stated on the official site) are:

  • Tracker communication uses fewer resources
  • More accurate bandwidth limits
  • Reduce disk fragmentation by preallocating files
  • Better stability, security, and performance in the Web UI and RPC server
  • Support compression when serving Web UI and RPC responses
  • Simplify the RPC whitelist
  • Fix bug that prevented handshakes with encrypted BitComet peers
  • Fix 1.3x bug that could re-download some data unnecessarily
  • Lazy bitfields

Visit the official site by clicking here!

95% – Yet another difficult review to write, as Transmission works exactly how its supposed to! When will opensource developers make buggy software like Microsoft?  At least it makes reviewing them easier!

REVIEW: LIFEREA v1.4.22b – RSS readers have never been so easy!

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mediaphp1Article by Goblin[RFD]

We all like to keep up to date with the news, however, believe it or not I had never used a RSS reader package before.  I installed LIFEREA on Ubuntu 8.10 and whilst the repositories had an older version, I was able to get v.1.4.22b from here! It should be noted however that the latest stable version is now v1.4.22c and you can get that from the official site.

How can I start? Well its an RSS reader, and a very simple to use one at that!  The package is tiny (1.1mb) and within seconds I was subscribing to all my sites of choice, including the Pro-open source Microsoft Watch!

Its layout is very similar to any email package you have used before and as I say Id be supprised if anyone has difficulties using this package.

It works seemlessly with Ubuntu, but I am presuming this is the case for all other distros aswell. Liferea supports Atom, RSS and OPML as well as offline reading.

The official site says “Liferea tries to fill this gap by creating a fast, easy to use, easy to install news aggregator for Gtk/Gnome.” and in my opinion suceeds in this excellently.

95% A compact, fast piece of software that does exactly what it says it does.

Visit the official site by clicking here!